Millennials are shaping the future.

We're shaping the conversation

about millennials.

“I’m embarrassed to admit I have held an under-examined negative view of millennials.  John has opened my eyes to what is possible, and particularly in the hands, mind and souls of millennials themselves.”

Tom Scott, co-founder and CEO, The Nantucket Project

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Icons of Meaning

Tattoos are an essential aspect of New Copernican spirituality. If reality is a verb, relationships best framed in story, and spirituality a personal pilgrimage, then tattoos are the road signs. Close to forty percent of millennials have at least one tattoo. Each represents a story to be told about oneself and one’s ultimate concerns. Ancient cultures would often erect a monument of stone to commemorate a battle or victory, “raising an Ebenezer” or “stone of help.” Such was a communal marker. The David Crowder’s hymn states, Here I raise my Ebenezer Hither by Thy help I come Oh, and I hope by Thy good pleasure Safely to arrive at home. My friend’s tattoo pictured above is Braille for the wor

Four Conditions for Conversation

When was the last time you had a meaningful conversation? They are the lifeblood of relationships. If relationships are at the root of reality and are the lens through which New Copernicans view life, then meaningful conversations become an essential rhythm. Living lives full of distractions we often find good conversations rare. Yet we long for the connection that good conversations bring. We are hardwired for relationships and conversations are foundational to them. Here is the irony, we need them and yet they cannot be forced. You just cannot schedule on your Google calendar “Meaningful Conversation” as one might do a Zoom conference call. To be authentic it must be spontaneous. What make

Being Mentored by Millennials

“Just look at you. How can you have any credibility in talking about millennials? You’d better bring your son Alex with you when you speak to my staff.” [Alex is pictured above.] Tom Scott, CEO and chairman of The Nantucket Project, challenged me with this comment. The Nantucket Project is one of the leading intellectual leadership forums in America. I took Tom's suggestion seriously. Of course, he was right. How can a pipe-smoking grandfather traditionalist be an authentic champion of the emerging millennial mindset? It was time to call my son for help. “Dad, I’d be happy to come,” responded Alex, "but if you’re going to have any credibility in my world you need to come to New York and giv

Difference Between Heineken and Pepsi

What is the difference between a Heineken beer and a Pepsi soda? This Heineken ad captures the New Copernican aspiration: connection. The controversial Pepsi ad with Kendall Jenner simply commercializes the resist protest without any attempt at relational connection. It was an epic fail. For New Copernicans relationships are not merely about friendship, rather they are the primary lens through which they see reality. For them connection takes priority over conviction. If reality is at its root relational, then this is a great improvement and keen insight. Certainly we all live in a world where there is a great deal of diversity and difference. But in a world where static propositions and bel

Safe Places for Unsafe Questions

Churches are not safe places to discuss genuine faith—particularly the kind of cross-pressured belief that characterizes New Copernicans. They rightly affirm that all faith is a natural fusion of belief and doubt, acceptance and questions, dreams and disappointments. So the cheery smiles and overly certain god-talk that fills the fellowship halls over coffee and donuts in most churches seem foreign... even false. Churches are not safe places to openly express one’s confusion aloud. This is not to say that people don’t struggle.... It’s just that they only talk about their struggle after the struggle has past and victory is secure. Struggle is always a past tense phenomenon. “I feel like crap

It's Alive!

Bread is often considered a metaphor for life. But one only has to sit in the presence of a baker making a slow rise loaf to be staggered by the spiritual symbolism involved in the process. Many have noted this connection. But I was struck by it again as I sat last week in a Denver kitchen and watched my friend prepare a loaf of bread that was to be consumed the next evening. The preparation process took most of an afternoon, so our conversation naturally turned to the process as it unfolded. He was working with live yeast. Knowing how yeast like this is often passed down from one baker to the next, I asked him where he got his yeast. “Out of the air, two years ago,” he replied. He went on,

Dead on Arrival

CBS’ television comedy sitcom, “The Great Indoors,” was dead on arrival. It is not surprising that it was cancelled after one season. Stereotypes are half-truths, but they feel like whole lies. Millennials are repeated victims of public stereotyping. They come by their defensiveness honestly. Most millennials resist the moniker itself, as it has come to associated them as lazy, narcissistic, entitled, coddled, uncommitted, and technologically obsessed. Rarely has there been a demographic cohort that has been more studied and more misunderstood. The press has not been favorable or fair. Consider this. If you tell a story about a group of people and they don’t see themselves in the story, and

Gaiman Not Gingrich

Millennials aren’t fooled by the misdirection. The dominant lens of cable news does not fool New Copernicans. Cable news assumes that politics is the big story and that politicians are the cultural change agents worth watching and talking about. To New Copernicans this is a false lens, a distorted priority. They’d prefer Kendrick Lamar to Newt Gingrich. And it is not just the difference in their perspectives as much as it’s the difference in their mediums. For New Copernicans, story trumps policy, culture politics, and imagination reason. They’re with Emily Dickinson who wisely observed, “Imagination lights the slow fuse of possibility.” This is also why New Copernicans don’t do “isms.” Worl

Love Opens Doors

Neuroscientists confirm that our defenses go up when our core beliefs are challenged. With self-awareness we can lower the resistance and listen more effectively. But our attention to more facts—even with less defensiveness—will not change the frame. The eureka moment in frame shifts does not happen through argument but love. This is the error or half truth in the comic, "You Are Not Going to Believe What I'm About To Tell You": http://theoatmeal.com/comics/believe/. Let me tell you a story.... The castle was under siege by the Black Knight. Defenses were mounted and a watch was placed on the wall around the clock by the White Knight. Daily the Black Knight would send emissaries to discuss t

Cohabiting Faith

Expectations matter. Most marriage ceremonies lie. They don’t set accurate expectations about the cross-pressured nature of marriage. Certainty is not accurate. Nor is it reality. Just look at the parents’ faces at the wedding. Divorce ranks high as one of the most painful experiences a spouse or child will ever face. It is a prolonged pain and is one that keeps on giving long after the papers have been signed. I know, because I’ve been through it. It led me to the brink of suicide. It was bad. Where in the wedding ceremony is this cautionary tale told? Forty-eight percent of all marriages will end in divorce, even more for second marriages. There are not many other occasions when we celebra

Follow the Light

Every honest life coach will tell you that there is no human flourishing without being on a spiritual pilgrimage. This is not because of pop psychology or religious sentiment. It’s a fact of nature. Everything living derives its life from an environment that is other than and larger than itself. This is as true of a houseplant as it is of a polar bear. Thriving happens when the plant is oriented to an environment for which it is best suited. Every plant purchased at a nursery has a little tag that advises the new owner of this fact. Some plants do well in shade, others in full sun. Get the environment wrong and the plant will struggle and may eventually die. This is as true of your apartment

Are You a Tourist or Pilgrim?

You can go to Nepal as a tourist or a pilgrim. Depending on which, you will not arrive at the same place. Pilgrimage makes demands. So I was reminded over dinner in Brooklyn recently by a Buddhist filmmaker from Scotland. Many modern spiritual seekers are dabblers, disengaged from the study and disciplines of a given tradition. Experienced Burners decry “Burner Virgins” who attend Burning Man as tourists. They are considered frat boys on a road trip. There is much more to be found there than nudity and alcohol. Charles Taylor speaks of New Copernicans’ spiritual seeking as the “nova effect”: “an explosion of options for finding (or creating) ‘significance.’” Religious seeking today finds a v

Do You Walk with the Pagans?

I need a counter weight to the entropy of narcissism. Children, dogs, and a walk in the woods are one of the ways I can get outside of myself. The challenge of living that I seek to follow is to establish a frame that is up and out rather than down and in. It is for this reason that I cherish my morning walks with the pagans. Malibu, my English cream golden retriever, wakes me each morning at 6:00 a.m. She doesn’t care if it’s raining, snowing or below freezing outside. This is her time and she is on a mission. I’m her needed accomplice. Nor is her expectation a quick morning pee across the street. No, her plan is for an hour-long walk in the bird sanctuary near the 450-acre farm on which I

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