Jane Austen on Youth Ministry

In the recent issue of Touchstone Magazine, Eleanor Donlon wrote an article entitled “No Plain Jane.” In the article Donlon decries the Hollywood movie Becoming Jane. Becoming Jane is a biographical depiction of Jane Austen, author of the famous Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. Rather than present the period piece according to period propriety (“Regency style” in Donlon’s words), the director “sexed up” or “grunged up” Jane’s life to appeal to a modern audience. The real Jane Austen would not workshop well among moderns.

Donlon provides a keen insight about how Jane Austen’s culture gets lost in translation and which complements a previous post on youth ministry:

“[Jane’s] life, letters, early writing, and general demeanor demonstrate a maturity and poise completely foreign to our expectation of a “teenager.” That’s the real problem. We have invented a false category of person—the “teenager”—who has the rights and “needs” of an adult but is not expected to behave as an adult, and who is expected to make all sorts of embarrassing and sometimes harmful mistakes.”

Perhaps Jane Austen would’ve made a great youth minister.

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