Spirituality in the Occupy Generation: Where are young adults finding spirituality?

Bishop Marc Andrus, creation theologian Matthew Fox, and spiritual activist and neo-monastic leader Adam Bucko joined together in conversation at this past Sunday’s Forum at Grace Cathedral. Adam Bucko works with homeless youth and young adults in New York City, while Matthew Fox has spent decades working with young people throughout the world, and today helps youth in Oakland develop their sense of wonder and spirituality. Together, they are writing a book on spiritual practices, inspired by the quest for vocation among the young. Young people are continuing to search for spiritual direction and spiritual mentors, but when they come to church, they sometimes experience a sense of being occupied by someone else’s agenda. Bucko’s experience with young people, he said, was that they longed for someone to meet them and hear their questions respectfully, on their own terms. These terms may be multi-faith, or based in “reality TV,” yet they are spiritual questions that spiritual elders need to be able to hear. Spiritual practice in community helps young people to connect to God; and spiritual direction from “elders” helps them to recognize that relationship.

“Vocation” becomes the key for young people connecting to a spiritual community. Both Fox and Bucko discussed the ways in which listening becomes community, community becomes vocation, and vocation continues an ongoing quest to live out God’s way in the world. In this sense, they argued, the Occupy movement is not a political movement, but a spiritual one — a quest to create a better world, one in which each person is valued.

Thirty young adults gathered with Bishop Marc, Fox, and Bucko for lunch at an apartment near the cathedral to continue the conversation. What are the needs of young people here? How can the church listen and change to welcome young people differently? How can young adults begin to develop communities, and how can the Episcopal Church support them in doing so? Our community of young people will continue to explore this question at our common|life young adult retreat at The Bishop’s Ranch, May 18–20. For more on the young adult retreat, read further in today’s DioBytes.

An interview with Adam Bucko on neo-monasticism and creating small spiritual communities, is available to view online here.