I’ve been asked many times why I got a divinity degree, and there isn’t a simple answer. When I think about the enduring weight of student loans and the concrete impact it’s had on my professional life (virtually none), I begin to wonder myself. But that kind of hindsight sells short my own path, ignores who I was when I decided to go back to school. And it also misrepresents the transformation I underwent as a young school teacher on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
Ultimately, I went back to school to study theology and its practical applications because I had rational questions about big things, like my soul, that needed sorting out. And those rational questions arose from experiences, moments of enlightenment, that were impossible to explain with the language and understanding that was available to me at the time.
My generation, Generation X, has been deeply engaged in pulling back the curtains, peering into the dark corners, gazing into the mirror, and wandering the globe in search of answers we can only find by looking into our own hearts. We’ve reached an age when we are starting families, settling down, and realizing that there are some things you can’t ever pin down. It’s an interesting time for us: We dropped out and tuned out and now, like prodigal children, we’re trying to fit in and sink roots without letting go of what we discovered. In the process, we are learning how to be happy.
This week’s cover story looks at how members of three very different generations have coped with one of the nagging 40-year questions that has shaped counterculture, (and pushed toward the mainstream) since the last Age of Aquarius: Are our souls connected to each other through some higher consciousness? It’s a puzzle tailor-made for an encounter with the moral and religious fragmentation initiated by globalization, and one that was also confronted by Carl Jung and many others early in the last century.
Welcome to the new New Age, where young people like Nick Lasky aren’t asking whether there’s something bigger out there so much as trying to figure out how to plug it in.