viva la revolucion!, or, don’t cry for me argentina
Tuesday August 30th 2005, 11:39 pm
Filed under: youth specialties

tomorrow morning i’m off to argentina for the convencion internacional liderazgo juvenil (international youth leaders convention). this is a YS event, run by our spanish division, and is our 5th year in a row. the first four were in buenos aires (one of the most beautiful cities in the world, if you ask me). but this year we’re trying something new, and moving the event to mendoza. buenos aires is huge, and is on the eastern edge of the country. mendoza isn’t as big, but is on the western edge of the country, right up against the andes (think: Alive!). we’ve maxed the event out at 1800 the last few years, but really didn’t have a good place to move it in BA. but we have a great place to hold the event in mendoza that allows us to grow it to 2000.

one great advantage is that it’s very close to chile. as a result, we have 400-500 chilean youth workers coming this year, which is just so freakin’ cool. but — huge prayer request — there has been very cold weather and snow in the mountains over the past week; and the mountain pass from chile to argentina is closed. if it doesn’t warm up, and if they can’t re-open the pass, all those chilean youth workers will not be able to attend. please pray for a weather miracle on this one.

i’m speaking five times — three regular seminars, one “super-seminar” (longer), and one general session. karla yaconelli and mike’s father, ernie, will be with me. karla was there last year, but this will be a first for ernie — very cool that he’s coming! our good friends, tony and peggy campolo, will be there also. tony has been a friend of this event from the beginning, and this will be his third time speaking.

on my way home, i’ll stop in buenos aires to see our new (6 mos) office there. we have 2 employees there, and also rent out space to two or three other youth ministry organizations (the office is actually called the Buenos Aires Center for Youth Ministry).

thoughtful poetry from a high schooler
Tuesday August 30th 2005, 2:09 pm
Filed under: youth ministry

frank hamrick posts this amazing poem written by a 15 year-old guy in his youth group:

this world has fallen in the past and is falling fast

im loosing my footing

are we falling as well

falling up to heaven or into a painful hell

is god even there? does god care?

depression, anger is god even aware?

we hate this life

to live is to die

“f*#& it” we say

we can’t live this lie

the only good times are when we get that high,that buzz,that sip,that puff

we feel so numb

so incomplete

there is no cold, there is no heat

we are weathered

“the best years of my life” they say but really, was it that way?

or are we just in a brand new age

the end of the beginning

the death of this beloved birth

the funeral of this god forsaken earth

so hopefully hopeless we move on day to day

we all take what comes our way

as we smile painfully crumbling into defeat

it sucks

but we have to move on

we end this funeral procession

getting out of our black clothes and black limousines

back into movies and magazines

we make it out of this age they call “teen”

we’ll forget this short sharp pain

like a splinter

and believe they really were the best years of our lives

but the pain is the only thing we share, dying to live living to die with
each other

and we know that all we have left are few things…



together we stumble, we fall

all this pain will be over but very much missed

and it will be time for others to get pissed

let them have their share of the age

and lets not forget it

we stumble into heaven but always remember hell

free the sparks!
Sunday August 28th 2005, 7:32 pm
Filed under: faith, thinking..., books

frost and hirsch, in their book , tell of a very interesting hebraic “portrait” of god’s glory.

one of the most wonderful metaphors in jewish mysticism is the rabbinical teaching on the shekinah (”god’s glory”). in the typically playful way jewish theology was presented, the shekinah gains a personality and usually takes the form of a woman. she is metaphorically portrayed as god’s wife, but she is in exile, i.e. god and his glory have been tragically seperated through the fall. the seperation is one of a cosmic crash in which god’s glory was scattered into myriad sparks and caught up in all created matter. the holy sparks are now imprisoned in all things. even the lowest of created things have the holy sparks in them.

the remarkable aspect of this jewish teaching is the view that it is our holy actions — that is, actions filled with holy intent and directed toward god — that actually free the sparks ensnared in all things allowing the exiled shekinah to journey back to her husband, namely, god. god and his glory are joined together again when people act in holiness. says martin buber, “the shekinah is banished into concealment; it lies, tied, at the bottom of every thing, and is redeemed in every thing by man, who, by his own vision or his deed, liberates the thing’s soul.” isaac bashevis singer, the nobel laureate who wrote marvelous novels exploring aspects of jewish mysticism, said that “when man chooses virtue, he stengthens all the dimensions of life. angels… look forward to a man doing a good deed, since this brings joy and strength to the entire world. a good deed helps god and the divine presence to unite. a sin, on the other hand, evokes gloom into all the world.

frost and hirsch go on to say that no one (including the rabbis that taught it) took this literally. i suggest, as i’ve ruminated on it, that it’s almost like viewing a painting in a gallery portaying, in metaphorical image, a deep spiritual and theologal idea. it’s amazing and wonderful that god allows us humans to play a role in releasing god’s glory into creation.

i want to be a spark releaser!

cell phones in church
Sunday August 28th 2005, 11:35 am
Filed under: Uncategorized, church

oh, this is just perfect.

tip to think christian.

what happened to baseball?
Saturday August 27th 2005, 11:55 pm
Filed under: personal

what happened to a fun and inexpensive family evening at the ballpark? We’re on a family date at the padres game right now (i’m writing on my phone while my daughter’s in the ice cream line). but, PLEASE, It’s a $100 evening! four tix at $15 each (amongst the cheapest available), $10 for parking, $5 each to the kids to choose a snack (which bought them an ice cream), and $20 for jeannie and i to get two beverages and some popcorn (we actually brought a picnic dinner or it would have been worse). too much!

date week w/ my wife
Friday August 26th 2005, 6:54 pm
Filed under: personal

so i’m home for a week between england and argentina; and the kids are in school. so this is officially “marko and jeannie’s daytime date week.” we actually have four weekdays. here’s the plan (with two completed so far):

thursday — lunch at Casa de Pico (the best mexican food in san diego — recently closed in old town, due to a weird lease thang, but just — last week — re-opened about 10 minutes from our house). big, fantastic margaritas (we both dig midori margaritas), and decent food that isn’t as important as the big, fantastic midori margaritas. then, we walked over to Barnes & Noble and used a couple gift cards we’d been given. I bought ; and jeannie bought . oh, and we picked up : gift edition, as a birthday party gag gift for a friend who will hate it.

friday — ran a couple errands together, then went to see The Brothers Grimm (ooh, way more freaky than i thought it would be!). had lunch at On the Border (this is tex-mex, whereas yesterday’s lunch was mexican — stay with me! certainly, however, there was a margarita theme). ooh, and we just went swimming.

monday — early lunch with jen and jay howver at pizza nova in point loma (think california pizza kitchen, but better); then, sailing on the san diego bay (with the howvers). we’ve rented a sailboat, and are bringin’ the cooler, baby. three or four hours out there should be perfect. i used to sail a ton as a teenager and young adult (even used to crew on a racing yacht).

tuesday — refrigerator day! woo-hoo! our kitchen refrigerator is on it’s last leg — dripping all over the place. jeannie got her advance check the other day for a book she’s writing (!), so we’re going to spend it on a new one. and, we’ll probably add starbucks to the date, for that extra bit of romance.

favorite quote from frost & hirsch
Friday August 26th 2005, 12:35 pm
Filed under: books, emerging church

following is (at least one of) my favorite paragraph(s) from alan hirsch & michael frost’s fantastic book, . it’s also, i would suggest, a good contender for a summary paragraph of the entire book.

…the incarnation provides us with the missional means by which the gospel can become a genuine part of a people group without damaging the innate cultural frameworks that provide that people group with a sense of meaning and history. david bosch is right when he notes that ‘it should not bother us that during different epochs the christian faith is intrinsically incarnational.’ therefore unless the church actively resists the demands of incarnational mission, it must always enter fully into the context in which it happens to find itself. to birth, for instance, a full-fledged denominational church with all its associated western-style liturgies, symbolic system, and worldview in the middle of africa is a distortion of the incarnational principle of mission. the same is true for every missional context, including that of our now profoundly tribalized western cultures. thus the incarnational criteria must guide the church’s cultural expression in all its diverse contexts.

there. if you’re a completely lazy slob, or totally anathema to reading more than a paragraph in digital form online, then you can rest assured, knowing you have the gist of the book! but, if you’re even nominally inquisitive, or if you care even nominally about the future of the church, then you might want to read the surrounding paragraphs (and pages, and chapters).

books i read on UK trip
Thursday August 25th 2005, 5:51 pm
Filed under: books

didn’t read quite as many books as i’d hoped on this past trip, but still got through some good ones (one of them took longer than i expected, because it was so good!).

, by Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch. best emerging/missional church book i’ve read in a long time. every church leader in the world (pastors, youth workers, you name it) must reaad this book. it’s radical nature is subtle in many ways, and will only be truly radical upon implemention (as ideas, they won’t always sound revolutionary). i’ll post a few favorite bits seperately. you must buy this book. please.

, by David B. this is widely considered to be one of the most significant books in the illustrated novel genre — though this one isn’t a novel. it’s an autobiographical memoir of the author’s growing up, with an severely epileptic brother who’s illness consumed the family. it’s a weird trip through all kinds of new age-y stuff (his parents would try anything) and alternative medicines. but, ultimately, it’s an epic story of childhood and pain.

, by Jason. in my continued enjoyment of graphic novels, this little murder mystery is a kick. not much to it — 20 minute read.

1/2 of , by Dave Eggers. i love eggers writing (, ). this collection of short stories isn’t quite as amazing as when eggers can really take the space to develop characters. but it’s still a worthwhile read if you like good writing and interesting story-line ideas. my favorite piece in it so far is “your mother and i”.

1/4 of , by John Leland. this got a great review somewhere (i can’t remember — Time magazine, maybe?), and i picked it up. it’s been on my to-read stack for months. so far, very fun read. lots of connections to youth culture and youth ministry.

taking my daughter to middle school
Thursday August 25th 2005, 5:44 pm
Filed under: youth ministry, personal

this morning i walked the road walked by thousands of youth workers before me: i took my oldest child to middle school (she actually started monday, but i got home from england last night — so today was my first time to take her).

i’ve been on hundreds of middle school campuses, thousands of times. and i’ve been at my daughter’s school (her previous school — an elementary school) thousands of times. but this was different.

i mean, i’ve spent 25 years with middle schoolers. i’ve written books on them and for them. i’ve spoken hundreds of times about understanding them. but this changes everything. and i saw that campus differently today than i ever have.

liesl still wanted me to park the car and walk her onto the campus (which was wonderful, even though i was one of the only parents there). and she still gave me a kiss when the bell rang, right in front of all her friends. and i told her to “be good and say no to drugs”, to which she gave me an archetypal 6th-grader eye-roll. and i walked back to my car feeling somewhat numb (literally, not figuratively!), with a slight buzz in my head.

any second now, the new reality will be: marko knows absolutely nothing about middle schoolers.

i’m truly sick of crying
Thursday August 25th 2005, 12:21 am
Filed under: personal

really. cry, cry, cry.

i watched two movies on the flight home: The Interpreter (cry, cry — two times); and, The Upside of Anger (cry, cry, cry, cry, cry — yes, five frickin’ times).

i’m sick of the painful clenching of the throat. i’m tired of the burning moistness in the corners of my eyes. i’m weary of the self-consciousness that comes with scrunching up my face to stave off full-fledged weeping.

life was easier 20 months ago, when i didn’t cry. sometimes i wouldn’t mind so much going back.