Suckled on the modernist work ethic, some Presbyterian parents may love it when kids talk about rebelling against low expectations and “returning to biblical and historical levels of character and competence” (where’d I put my WWJD bracelet?).
But I daresay Garrison Keillor’s Upper Midwestern upbringing amongst the Lutherans (“where even the Catholics were Lutheran”), which resonates with mine under the tutelage of the Lapsed Episcopalian, has a far superior grasp on the folly of great expectations of youth and their dazzled parents:
In Lake Wobegon, you learned about being All Right. Life is complicated, so think small. You can’t live life in raging torrents; you have to take it one day at a time. And if you need drama, read Dickens…The urge to be top dog is a bad urge. Inevitable tragedy. A sensible person seeks to be at peace, to read books, know the neighbors, take walks, enjoy his portion, live to be eighty, and wind up fat and happy, although a little wistful when the first coronary walks up and slugs him in the chest. Nobody is meant to be a star. Charisma is pure fiction, and so is brilliance. It’s the dummies who sit on the dais, and it’s the smart people who sit in the dark near the exits. That is the Lake Wobegon view of life (where the women are strong, the men are good-looking and the children are above average).
–Garrison Keillor, Life Among the Lutherans, Chapter 1 (It Could Be Worse)