- August 24, 1970 (Creation)
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This item consists of an 8 page article by Henri Nouwen entitled, Generation without Fathers: Christian Leadership of Tomorrow, published in Commonweal, June 12, 1970, pp 287 – 294. The article begins with an old Jewish story in which a young fugitive hiding in a village is handed over to soldiers by the Rabbi in order to save the people. The Rabbi is then informed that he should have met the young man and then he would have known he was handing over the Messiah. Nouwen then goes on to say as introduction, ‘We are challenged to look into the eyes of the young man and woman of today running away from our cruel ways. Perhaps just that will be enough to prevent us from handing him over to the enemy and enable us to lead him out of his hidden place into the middle of his people to redeem them from their fears.’ Nouwen then discusses what he sees are certain behavioral trends in the lives of those who are ‘in the process of becoming’. Throughout the article Nouwen quotes both from a book by David Riesman entitled The Lonely Crowd and a paper by Jeffery K. Hadden in Psychology Today, October 1969. Nouwen heads the first section of this article The Man of Tomorrow. He describes these people as the children of the lonely crowd who exhibit three characteristics: Inwardness, Fatherlessness and Convulsiveness. Nouwen uses a definition of the inward generation from the work of Hadden: ‘It is the generation which gives absolute priority to the personal and which tends in a remarkable way to withdraw into self’. In the subsection entitled Parents but no Fathers Nouwen states,‘ We are facing a generation which has parents but no fathers, a generation in which everyone who claims authority …is suspect from the very beginning’. In this generation the authority figures are ones peer group with all the tyranny that can involve. Convulsiveness is described as ‘A fundamental unhappiness with their world, a strong desire to work for change, but a deep doubt that they will do better than their parents and a nearly complete lack of any kind of vision or perspective’. In the section of this article entitled Tomorrow’s Leader, Nouwen outlines the characteristics of the Christian leader needed for today’s youth. There are three characteristics suggested: 1. The leader as the articulator of the inner events, 2) The leader as a man of compassion and 3) The leader as a contemplative critic. Each of these sections is discussed fully and summarized at the end. Nouwen states,’ The Christian leader who not only is able to articulate the movements of the Spirit but also is able to contemplate his world with a compassionate but critical eye may expect that the convulsive generation will not choose death as the ultimate desperate form of protest, but instead the new life of which he has made visible the first hopeful sign.
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Preservation photocopy available in Articles by Nouwen Access Copy Box 1.
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Published for The Ad Hoc "Think Tank" and The Ad Hoc Metropolitan Planning Branch of the Diocese of California, no. 17 (August 24, 1970): [3-10].
Article originally published in Commonweal (12 June 1970): 287-294.
Published in Henri Nouwen: The Wounded Healer as Chapter 2, Ministry for a Rootless Generation, p. 23, Garden City, N.Y. Doubleday and Company, 1972.
Attached to copy of August 20, 1970 letter from The Ven. John J. Weaver to Edward S. Skillin, Publisher, Commonweal.
In this article the author's name is misspelled as 'Henry'.