The Stars Hollow 30-Something Gang and the Body of Christ
WARNING: Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life spoilers below!
As the turkey and stuffing comas spread across America Thanksgiving night, visions of pop tarts, coffee, and Friday Night Dinners danced in the heads of millions of women… after nine years the Netflix Gilmore Girls reboot was finally happening.
Amy Sherman-Palladino’s Gilmore Girls originally aired from 2000-2007, creating a phenomenon that has been passed on to younger generations through the wonders of binge-watching services (older fans can recall having to rent the DVD sets from Blockbuster). The original series follows the lives of Lorelai Gilmore and the daughter she had at 16, Rory; it begins when Rory is in high school. Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life picks up nine-years later in 2016.
Perhaps the biggest surprise that A Year in the Life held for many of the Stars Hollow enthusiasts is the state of Rory Gilmore’s life in 2016. Having attended Yale and talked non-stop about her dreams to be the next Christiane Amanpour, Rory’s storyline ends in 2007, with her following Senator Barack Obama’s presidential campaign as a reporter. Loyal fans have wondered for the last nine years: Where could this daughter of a 16-year old single mother end up? Will she be the youngest editor ever for the New York Times? Is she reporting on atrocities from deep in the trenches of Aleppo? Who will she end up with #TeamDean, #TeamJess, #TeamLogan, #TeamSomeoneNew?
SPOILER ALERT! In 2016, Rory finds herself unemployed, broke, single (with the exception of being “the other woman” to an engaged Logan and the absent girlfriend of whatshisname… Paul), and forced to move back in with her mother in Stars Hollow. While this is a departure from what you would expect for Rory, it is a very real storyline for many young adults today. So real in fact, that Stars Hollow even has the “30-Something Gang,” college graduates that went out into the real world but were “spit out like a piece of stale gum” and are back living at home!
The 30-Something Gang: if you lead, they will follow.
30-Something Gangs are popping up all over this nation, and to be honest, I find “30-Something” to be even a little high. Maybe 26+ Gang would be more fitting. These young adults are often lost, embarrassed, lonely, and looking for love in all of the wrong places. While advances in college campus ministry and young adult ministry have been made in the last decade, outreach and evangelization is lacking to the generation of Catholics who find themselves post-Confirmation but not yet returning to the Church with their newborns for Baptism. Who is responsible for these 20 and 30-Somethings? Not a perfect parish or diocesan program, but WE, the Church!
In his post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles Laici, St. John Paul II quotes Pius XII on the laity’s role: “Lay believers are in the front line of Church life; for them the Church is the animating principle of human society. Therefore, they in particular ought to have an ever-clearer consciousness not only of belonging to the Church, but of being the Church.” Emphasis added.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church further states in CCC 900, that we the faithful have the duty “to work so that the divine message of salvation may be known and accepted by all men throughout the earth… it is only through [the faithful] that men can hear the Gospel and know Christ. [Our] activity in ecclesial communities is so necessary that, for the most part, the apostolate of the pastors cannot be fully effective without it.” Emphasis added.
No perfect program will help the Rory Gilmores in your town. Programs can be very effective in bringing people back to Church, “breaking the ice” so to speak, but nothing can take the place of authentic relationships and wholehearted personal invitations. So how can you help the lost in your circle?
Here are some Dos and Don’ts for dealing with the 20/30-Something Gang in Your Town:
(1) DO invite them to Mass. Someone that is searching for what’s next, or the meaning of life, or trying to “find themselves”, or is just hungry for something new needs divine food. The Source and Summit of the Christian Life can do more for an individual than you will ever be able to do. Invite others! Offer to go with them, find out mass times and locations that would work for your 30-Something Gang member. A nice 5:30PM near a bar for Mass and Happy Hour! Speaking of community building…
(2) DO invite them into authentic community. When life is not going as planned for an individual, it is often stressful, humiliating, and very isolating. Invite the 30-Something Gang over for dinner… into your mess. No need to clean up or be perfect. Outside of the Chinese delivery guy, this may be the only positive social interaction the 30-Something Gang member may have had this week. If you could ask Rory, I bet she would say that spending time with you would be preferable to spending time with a Wookie. Speaking of General Tso…
(3) DON’T Chinese fortune cookie them. Share Scripture instead. If you ask the 30-Something Gang what is most frustrating and least helpful it is the phrase “Everything happens for a reason.” Sweet phrases in hip fonts do not make a person feel loved or wanted or any less of a disappointment. “For in the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven meets His children with great love and speaks with them” Dei Verbum, 21—TRUTH, this is what is needed. To be able to share Scripture also means we need to be reading Scripture. Forward a daily reflection you receive through email, text a simple verse, or take a screenshot of something beautiful you see on Instagram. Bonus Don’t: Do not tag that person every time you see a Jeremiah 29 quote on Facebook.
(4) DO invite them to serve. The best way to stop dwelling on feelings of hopelessness is to get out of the house, coffee shop, bar, etc. and get to helping others. Navel-gazing will only bring the 30-Something deeper into the hole of self-loathing. A great way to change your mindset is to stop thinking or overthinking about yourself. Service increases our gratitude. And on that note…
(5) DON’T complain about your life. Be an example of gratitude. It is not a competition. Homeschooling your 5 kids under 7 is challenging, not to mention the fact that you haven’t slept in 7 years… but maybe try not to mention it. The life of leisure of a couch surfing 30-something who spends all day trying to find the perfect WiFi so that they can find the perfect job may seem easy compared to what you have to deal with, but when we complain we are setting a bad example. It is important that we teach gratitude by modeling a life full of gratitude. It is never bragging to give God glory for everything, even the little things—how comfy that couch is to sleep on and the fact that Google exists to answer all of the questions short of the meaning of life.
(6) DO pray for them. Rory needs a St. Monica. Be that for the 30-Something Gang in your life. #TeamJesus
Oy with the poodles already.
Images: Netflix (2)
This blog post first appeared on TheCatholicOutpost.com on December 05, 2016.