The Mindset List: Class of 2022

At the beginning of every school I go looking for the new edition of the Mindset List. The list was initiated in the early days of the internet and has been a popular component of back-to-school talks, faculty orientations and sermons for two decades.

This year the following items caught my special attention:

“Among their classmates could be Madonna’s son Rocco, Will Smith’s daughter Willow, or David Bowie and Iman’s daughter Alexandria.”
– That makes me feel really old! I mean seriously, the Fresh Prince is old enough to have a college-aged daughter. Ouch!

1. They are the first class born in the new millennium, escaping the dreaded label of “Millennial,” though their new designation—iGen, GenZ, etc. — has not yet been agreed upon by them.
– Labels! Isn’t interesting how we find it comforting to put everybody in a tiny little well-defined box? How do you talk about yourself? How do you talk about others?

3. They have always been able to refer to Wikipedia.
– Truth! What is wisdom and where do you find knowledge? Yes, Wikipedia has done a great deal of making solid information available to the masses. But where do you find solid education and profound critical thinking these days?

9. Same-sex couples have always found marital bliss in the Netherlands.
– LBGT! Let that sink in. This generation has never known a world where marriage equality was not a reality. It is not new, it is not radical but a proven reality for 18 years.

14. They’ve grown up with stories about where their grandparents were on 11/22/63 and where their parents were on 9/11.
– Shared trauma! Every generation has its shared trauma. This one brings home what generation you belong to. Our common pain is what defines us.

18. The Tower of Pisa has always had a prop to keep it leaning.
– Resilience! The tower of Pisa has been leaning forever. But for this entire past generation it just could not hold its own weight anymore and needed to be propped up. Every person’s perennial wounds are like that. We may need pain management, crutches, anti-depressants, anything, to keep us going. And that’s okay.

34. Starbucks has always served venti Caffè Lattes in Beijing’s Forbidden City.
– Openness! I must admit, this one convicted me of closed-mindedness. I still have this image in my head of China being a protectionist totalitarian regime. The mental image of coffee in the Forbidden City opens my mind. This generation has only seen an opening culture in China for their entire lives. Let me learn from them how to see goodness.

42. Mass market books have always been available exclusively as Ebooks.
– Newness! I love my Kindle but for me it still feels like a recent thing. College freshmen grew up on Ebooks. It takes time to adjust to a new normal. The Mindset List is a powerful tool to bring awareness to what has been normal for an entire generation. Is surely changes my perception and I hope it changes yours.


Rules rule according to Ignatius

I’m oddly attracted to Ignatian discipline and Catholic tradition. Since my dad went to a Catholic boarding school you could say I am reliving my father’s cloister days. I thrive in highly structured environments. I like rules and Ignatius of Loyola is the Master of rules. He wrote his “Spiritual Exercises” in 1522-1524. That was a pivotal in his life. He had just converted to Christianity and had not received any formal education yet. At the time Ignatius had a raw, uneducated faith. His soul and spiritual was full of passion but still raw material. He was longing for clear guidance and reliable boundaries.

On the 161 pages of the Exercises the word “rules” appears a whooping 121 times. Along the way Ignatius provides prayer schedules, rigid examens and a best of the Bible. His program is designed for thirty days. It is supposed to be a full-time engagement. Most people are not able to take a whole month off to reexamine their lives. That’s why Ignatius was gracious enough to write a rule providing an exception to the rule for busy people. According to the Nineteenth Annotation, “A person of education or ability who is taken up with public affairs or suitable business, may take an hour and a half daily to exercise himself.”

You should give this traditional spiritual exercise a try. Examining yourself, praying, discerning, relating to the Gospel, those are all helpful things to gain some perspective.