Douglas Coupland is a writer from Vancouver, Canada who became fairly famous in 1991 for his fictional novel,“Generation X: Tales of an Accelerated Culture”, in which he coined the phrase, you guessed it, “Generation X”. Coupland is eccentric to say the least. He’s written several odd and provocative novels on post modern culture. With titles like, “Shampoo Planet”, “Microserfs” and “Girlfriend in a Coma”, Coupland has become a semi sub-cultural pop icon. Besides writing, Coupland has also gained recognition as a film maker and as a visual artist. He once sculpted a series of works in which he chewed up copies of his own books and wove them into hornets nests. Weird dude, huh? Coupland does not claim to be a Christian, and is in fact openly gay. But here’s the thing…
Douglas Coupland is very different from me. He is a non-southern, gay, liberal, public TV watching, sports hating, non-Presbyterian. Yet, he wrote one of the coolest paragraphs I’ve ever read about the human need for a relationship with God.
In his book, “Life After God”, Coupland writes…(click link for audio)
“Now – here is my secret:
I tell it to you with an openness of heart
that I doubt I shall ever achieve again,
so I pray that you are in a quiet room as you hear these words.
My secret is that I need God –
that I am sick and can no longer make it alone.
I need God to help me give, because I no longer seem to be capable of giving;
to help me be kind, as I no longer seem capable of kindness;
to help me love, as I seem beyond being able to love”
– Life After God, Douglas Coupland, (p. 359)
Personally, I find that this short passage, better than anything I’ve ever read, describes my desperate need for the Gospel. It is so dead on the money. And yet, what I find relatively shocking, is that the guy who penned those words, doesn’t seem to know the Gospel from a whole in the ground. How can this be? How is it that we who claim Christ often seem most pitiful at understanding the colossal need that we have for Him? Why do I think, as screwed up as I am, that I am capable of giving, that I am able to be kind, that I am able to love? Here is this whacky dude Coupland, chewing up his books to make faux hornet’s nests – a guy with tremendous self professed angst, anguish, and confusion – seemingly able to better understand his need for the Gospel than I am. He’s so messed up and yet so able to pinpoint his deepest need.
But maybe that’s my problem. Maybe my problem is that I think I’m OK. That since I’m a Christian, I have it all together. How contrary that kind of thinking is to the Gospel. I have to remember…to remind myself. The Gospel is for messed up people. It’s only for messed up people. No one else. No one else can see it or receive it. The Gospel belongs to desperate, broken, evil, sinful, Jesus craving, bone heads. Jesus has arranged it that way. He came for the sick, not the healthy. I pray that someday I may be better at seeing my desperate need for Christ, seeing it just the way Coupland sees it. On the other hand, I also pray for Douglas Coupland; that he might see what I see – that Christ is the only hope of Hollow Men. I pray that one day he might turn from pointlessly choking on the pages of his own novels and instead learn to chew on, and be fed by, the life giving Word of Christ. In the meantime, it is reassuring to know, that no matter who you are – liberal or conservative, artsy or redneck, cultural moron or cultural icon – our basic human need is the same.
We need God.
These are pictures of the beehive made from the pages of “Generation X”.