hello, i’m a thumb generation minister
Friday November 09th 2007, 10:59 am
Filed under: youth ministry, youth work, news

fun factoid of the week:

In Japan techno-savy teens are called “oyayubi sedai,” the thumb generation. They use their thumbs so frequently for typing into their cellphones that they now use them, rather than their index fingers, to point and to press buzzers.

(ht to ypulse)

oh, mickey rourke, where did you go wrong?
Friday November 09th 2007, 5:00 am
Filed under: humor, news

if i should ever find myself in the position of being a burned out, ex-successful actor, with a reputation for living not just on the edge, but a bit past it; and should i then find myself being arrested for a DUI; i do hope that i am not driving a freakin’ vespa at that moment.

teenagers, the american dream, and where youth ministry needs to go
Thursday November 08th 2007, 12:53 pm
Filed under: youth ministry, faith, youth work, news

i’ve been noodling a bit on this since i read anastasia goodstein’s post on teenagers and the american dream, on her ypulse blog. so, here’s that to begin with:

I always thought of that the American Dream went something like this. Anyone in this country, regardless of who they are (race, class, gender, etc.), could achieve success (usually financial) in the United States if they worked hard enough. The collective knowledge of Wikipedia defines the American Dream as:

Generally refer[ing] to the idea that one’s prosperity depends upon one’s own abilities and hard work, not on a rigid class structure. For some, it is the opportunity to achieve more prosperity than they could in their countries of origin; for others, it is the opportunity for their children to grow up with an education and career opportunities; for still others, it is the opportunity to be an individual without the constraints imposed by class, caste, race, gender or ethnicity. It sometimes includes the idea of owning a home.

According to a recent Harris Poll, here’s how teenagers described the American Dream:

“Simply being happy, no matter what I do” — 47 percent

“Having a house, cars and a good job” — 38 percent

“Being able to provide for my family” — 30 percent

“Having the career of my dreams” — 27 percent

“Being rich and/or famous” — 20 percent

“Owning my own business” — 7 percent

“Being ‘the Boss’ ” — 5 percent

Fifty-eight percent say a college education is a necessity in order to achieve the dream, with 20 percent of those saying a four-year university degree is mandatory. While only 3 percent believed they could achieve the American dream on a salary of $25,000 or less, one-quarter thought a $100,000 annual income was sufficient. In addition, a whopping 71 percent believed they personally can achieve the American dream. Notice how “me”-centric the teenage version of the American Dream is…

a handful of my very random thoughts:

first, i was surprised a bit to see “being happy, no matter what i do” rank so high as a definition of the american dream. while anastasia rightly says teens’ responses are me-centric, i was encouraged that the number one response was NOT about materialism, not about “stuff”. my impression/understanding of the american dream (similar to the wikipedia definition) has to do with typical american measurements of success: owning stuff, having access to a job, owning a home.

of course, we all know that the american dream is, for many, a falicy. or, at the very least, not equally accessible. but that’s not the point of my rumination here. “being happy no matter what i do” is COUNTER to consumerism. “being happy no matter what i do” has in its wording a counter-cultural defiance, implying that i can be happy even if i do not have stuff.

that said, most of my other responses were not as positive.

part of my frustration is that i think youth ministry willingly swallowed the baited hook of the american dream promise. in other words: so much of what’s been done in the name of “youth ministry” in the past 35 years has really been about trying to get teenagers to buy into a combo-platter of the american dream and a moralism wrongly called christianity. we’ve tried to shape kids into “good church goers” and “good citizens”. and, in this context, “good” means “active and compliant”. let’s embrace the values of non-activity and non-compliance!

i also thought: if we polled teenagers in most youth groups, we probably wouldn’t get findings that are quantifiably different.

and: can we just set the concept of “the american dream” in a nice glass-covered display case and consider it an interesting relic of our history? it’s built on such a deeply flawed set of values and assumptions. everyone does not have equal access to “success”. and, then, even for those who do have access, the “success” doesn’t bring happiness or contentment. and this is where i am most concerned: that we continue to perpetuate (even if we never use the term) the notion, in our youth groups, that…
- god will bless you with a comfy, stuff-filled life if you’re a good boy or girl
- the goal of discipleship is to have good answers
- other than a few supermen and superwomen who are “called” to pastoral or missionary work, the life the rest of us normal disciples are called to is one of a daily quiet time, church attendance a couple times a week, some role in serving the church, and giving to the church. all other time and resources (and values and relationships and decisions and, well, everything) fall out of the domain of anything god gives a flying rip about.

how ’bout we swear off ever using “the american dream” (either in word or concept), and, instead, start talking about “the dream of god”. that vision of god’s from before time and creation. that dream of god’s during creation — of what this world could be, of what we could be. let’s build our ministries around walking with our kids into living in the dream of god.

wedgie-proof underwear
Thursday November 08th 2007, 5:00 am
Filed under: youth ministry, humor, youth work, news

these kids get inventors of the year from the collective of bullied middle school and high school boys everywhere:

(ht to d scott miller)

vote for zach hunter
Wednesday November 07th 2007, 5:00 am
Filed under: church, youth specialties, books, news

51XJ4qCc9TL-_AA240_.jpgwe at youth specialties just found out that zach hunter has been nominated as a cnn hero in the youth category. the winner is determined merely by vote (which, since zach doesn’t have a big organization behind him like some of the other nominees, is unfortunate). but we’d love to get the votes going!

winning would allow zach to appear on a prime time special with anderson cooper, to talk about modern day slavery, and how he (zach) feels god is calling his generation to bring freedom. there’s a cash price also; and zach has already said he would donate it for aftercare and education of rescued child slaves.

help us get the word out — to your churches and youth group and friends.

vote here (btw, the info is wrong: it says zach has raised $20,000 to end slavery. that’s how much zach has personally given, from speaking fees and book royalties. he has raised well over 10x that amount.)

you can vote as many times as you like until monday at noon.

virtual prayer groups
Tuesday November 06th 2007, 8:27 am
Filed under: faith, news

interesting article on the proliferation of virtual prayer groups (on facebook and other online locations).

a snippet:

A Google search for “online prayer groups” returned more than 2.3 million hits. On MySpace, the most popular prayer group allows members to read daily Bible verses and has nearly 150,000 members.

The emergence of the Internet as a place for prayer is not surprising. A Pew Research Center study published last week said 89 percent of teens and 71 percent of their parents believe the Internet and technology like cell phones make their lives easier.

Religious Web sites in particular are gaining popularity. According to comScore Media Metrix, a company that measures Internet audiences, religious sites attracted an estimated 22 million visitors in September. Sites like GodTube.com, a Christian YouTube.com, saw a 973 percent increase in traffic between July and August, according to comScore.

(ht to ypulse)

medical advice of the day
Friday November 02nd 2007, 5:00 am
Filed under: humor, news

in light of the news about broccoli reported in this article (that broccoli has sunscreen effects and can help fight skin cancer), a helpful researcher clarified:

“This is not a sunscreen, because it does not absorb the ultraviolet rays of the sun,” explained Dr. Paul Talalay, a professor of pharmacology and molecular sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore. “We don’t want people covering their bodies with broccoli and going to the beach. They will have no protection whatsoever.”

thanks, doc.


“god hates fags” church loses lawsuit
Wednesday October 31st 2007, 9:09 pm
Filed under: church, news

as much as it makes me nervous to see a church getting sued, i have to say i am thrilled to see these idiots get slammed with an 11 million dollar settlement in a legal case against them.


single gender middle school classrooms
Tuesday October 30th 2007, 6:00 am
Filed under: youth ministry, youth work, news

i found this article very interesting. it’s about a school that’s trying out single-gender classrooms for middle school. this sounds like such a great idea to me, i have to admit. i mean, i want kids in middle school to learn about being together with both genders also — and that’s part of why i’ve not been a huge fan of single-gender schools. but if there are still opportunities for mixed genders withing the school (like at lunch, and maybe in some elective classes), but core classes single-gender; well, that just sounds smashing to me. same principle, really, behind why i can’t imagine using anything but single-gender small groups in middle school ministry.

(sorry, the link to the article doesn’t seem to be working, and i can’t seem to locate the article)

(ht to kurt johnston)


thursday fire update
Thursday October 25th 2007, 3:01 am
Filed under: personal, family, news

i’m in galway, ireland, this morning, driving around with my dad. we’ll get to the cliffs of moher today, and the rock of cashel. not sure where we’ll end up tonite.

back home, my family never got evacuated, which is great. my kids are out of school for the rest of the week, but we’ve re-opened the YS office (shoot, we have another convention next week!).

here’s a summary of info my friend brian pulled together on his blog (brian lives about a mile from me):

Here’s the latest info I can find on the California wildfire overall statistics:
- Acreage: 431,377
- Homes Destroyed: At least 1,447, according to individual county reports.
- Evacuation: Over 1 million people have been evacuated.
- Damage: Over 1 billion dollars in damages
- Deaths: One fire death, five fire-related deaths.
- Injuries: 30 to civilians, 39 to firefighters.
- At least 12 major fires still burning

Here’s the latest on the Harris Fire- the one that is still burning in some places, with the active part about 5-ish miles from my house:
- About 73,000 acres north of the border town of Tecate.
- 10 percent contained- Containment expected Oct. 31.
- 200 homes destroyed, 2,000 homes and 500 commercial properties threatened.
- One civilian killed, 25 injured civilians and seven injured firefighters.

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