Interview With a Generation

   Written by on October 12, 2017 at 11:45 am

A friend of ours who served as a judge was interviewing recent law school graduates for a position as a clerk. One promising candidate had all the right credentials—prep school, elite college graduate with honors, and a diploma from a top ten law school. Furthermore, his grades showed a positive work ethic, as well as the ability to meet and please professors in authority over him. During the live interview the candidate appeared on time, he was appropriately dressed, his nails clipped, his shoes polished. His handshake was firm, he looked the judge in the eye. He answered the questions with poise, clarity, and a sense of humor.

Our judge friend said this was a young man who had it all—brains, looks, knowledge, confidence.

 When the judge began to probe deeper, he asked the candidate about his world view. “Tell me,” he inquired, “what spiritual values do you have that shape your life?”

The young man looked confused and grew flustered. So the judge asked the question a different way. “What religious views do you have? What faith do you espouse?”

The interviewee paused, then said, “Well, I have read all the Harry Potter books and seen the movies.”

Indeed. As the Old Testament says, “There arose a generation that knew not the Lord.” And such is ours. We have reared our children without church. Colleges no longer have chapel. Television is devoid of spiritual nurture. We have given our youth travel without meaning, knowledge without truth, education without religion, and today without understanding our past.

It is as J.R.R. Tolkien wrote in The Lord of the Rings, “Things were forgotten that should not have been.”

Dr. John Buttrick put it well when he wrote, “God is the salient fact of education. For either God exists or He doesn’t. If He exists, then He is the most important fact of the universe. If He doesn’t exist, then nothing could be more important than finding that out and moving on without Him.”

For a generation whose spiritual acumen goes no deeper than Harry Potter, we have our work cut out for us.


Stephen and Bryan Crotts are father and son, both ministers and co-writers, who jointly conceive and research these editorials. Bryan is the pastor of First Associate Presbyterian Church in Burlington, and Stephen is a campus minister with the Carolina Study Center. You can reach Bryan at or Stephen at

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