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The God Gap

by Rabbi Rami ShapiroSeptember 09, 2019
Old-school depiction of God

estt/Getty Images

It isn’t that Generation Z is godless, it’s that they no longer buy into (literally as well as figuratively) the God of the baby boomer generation.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, Americans have a generational God Gap. While almost 70% of boomers like me (ages 55 to 91) say religion and belief in God are important to them, just over 50% of Generation X (ages 39 to 54) say that, and the percentage falls to 30% for Generation Z/Millennials (ages 18 to 38). Here is my sense of why this God Gap exists:

The baby boomer God is the Creator and strict Father who rewards and punishes and largely votes Republican. The Z God is not Creator but creativity, not a person but a process whose only “concern” is compassion and justice for all beings.

The boomer God plays favorites—Jews, Catholics, Protestants, Mormons, Muslims—depending on whose team you imagine God plays for. The Z God doesn’t recognize teams, and the only game that matters is “love your neighbor” with “neighbor” defined as all living beings.

The boomer God needs to be ceaselessly praised, stroked, and worshipped. The Z God needs nothing at all since this God is all.

The boomer God wants you to pray in a certain way at a certain time in a certain place. The Z God wants you to cultivate gratitude and grace wherever and whenever you are.

The boomer God needs you to give Him (sic) money. The Z God urges you to make sure everyone has enough money to live with dignity.

It isn’t that Generation Z is godless, it’s that they no longer buy into (literally as well as figuratively) the boomer God and the religions He (sic) supports.

I find this situation hopeful. From what I see, Gen Z folks are primed for Perennial Wisdom, the four-fold teaching at the mystic heart of all religion:

All life is a manifesting of a nondual Aliveness called by many names (God, Reality, Nature, Tao, Spirit, Mother, Allah, Brahman, Dharmakaya, etc.);

You have the innate capacity to awaken in, with, and as this Aliveness;

Awakening to Aliveness calls you to be a blessing to all the families of the earth; and

Awakening to Aliveness and being a blessing is your highest calling.

What troubles me is that so few Gen Z folks have ever heard of Perennial Wisdom.

To address this problem, I am working on an ad campaign promoting Perennial Wisdom. My intent is to hire a professional graphic designer to come up with a poster-style ad that can be shared on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Instagram and other social media, and then invite you to download the ad and share it. If more people learned about Perennial Wisdom, I think God’s stats would improve substantially.

In the meantime, if you want to spread the word about Perennial Wisdom and help Gen Z deepen their spiritual lives buy and share my books Perennial Wisdom for the Spiritually Independent and The World Wisdom Bible with as many people as you can.*

*Shameless Promotion

Want more? Check out Rabbi Rami's story, “Woke God.”

Rabbi Rami Shipiro

Rabbi Rami Shapiro is an award-winning author, essayist, poet, and teacher. His spiritual advice column, "Roadside Assistance for the Spiritual Traveler," addresses reader questions pertaining to religion, spirituality, faith, family, God, social issues, and more.

His newest book is Surrendered—The Sacred Art: Shattering the Illusion of Control and Falling into Grace with Twelve-Step Spirituality.

He has this to say about religion: “To me, religions are like languages: no language is true or false; all languages are of human origin; each language reflects and shapes the mindset of the civilization that speaks it; there are things you can say in one language that you cannot say or cannot say as well in another; and the more languages you know, the more nuanced your understanding of life. Judaism is my mother tongue, yet in matters of the spirit I strive to be multi-lingual. In the end, however, the deepest language of the soul is silence.”

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