“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.


mike’s 4th
Wednesday October 31st 2007, 6:00 am
Filed under: youth specialties, personal

the other day (the 30th) was yac’s 4th anniversary with jesus. miss ya, mike.


Wednesday October 31st 2007, 6:00 am
Filed under: personal

checking in at british midland (bmi) at the belfast city airport, tuesday morning…

me: i’m flying belfast to london, connecting to united to chicago, but skipping the leg to san diego and starting a new itinerary. so if you’d like to only tag my bag to chicago, that would be great.

counter girl: then we should off-load you from the last leg.

me: well, that’s not what united told me to do. they said i should just skip that last leg, so it doesn’t mess anything up, since i booked the new itinerary leaving chicago for grand rapids. but it doesn’t really matter if you leave me on whole thing, as i’ll have to get my luggage for customs in chicago anyhow, and i can just recheck it for my new flight at that point.

counter girl: i can’t do that.

me: what do you mean, i’m asking you to do nothing.

counter girl: i need to remove you from that last segment, or they’ll be looking for you.

me: yeah, so? i paid for it. so i don’t fill the seat. if there are stand-by’s waiting, they’ll get a seat.

counter girl: i can’t do that, it’s a security risk. i’ll have to remove you from your check-in on the entire united flights, and you can deal with this in london.

me: wait, so you’re telling me i’m going to have to pick up my luggage at baggage claim at heathrow and check in as if i’d just shown up, including going through security in heathrow?

counter girl: yes, because you’re not taking that last segment.

me: forget i ever said it! that IS, of course, exactly what united told me to do. but, you’re saying that my honesty about my flight plans is causing you to send me through security again — which is usually an hour-long, at best, process at heathrow — risking missing my flights?

counter girl: well, i’m sorry, but that’s what i have to do.

counter girl’s manager: sir, please don’t make this difficult. we’re trying to ensure our flights are safe.

me: safe from me? from someone like me who actually TOLD you my plans?

counter girl’s manager: yes, sir.

me: so, you’re not even going to give me the boarding pass i already had for the london to chicago flight?

counter girl: no, we’ll keep that.

me: omigosh! i can’t believe this! [ysmarko comment: i was getting a bit whiney at this point, out of sheer exasperation.] so that’s it? if i’d kept silent, i’d be fine; i’d be flying to heathow and avoiding baggage claim and re-checking and security and all that. then, in chicago, i’d get my luggage at customs and recheck it, telling them at that point that i’m not taking the final leg.

counter girl: have a nice day, sir.


worst halloween costume award
Wednesday October 31st 2007, 6:00 am
Filed under: humor

for the extremely confused little girl: the Pink Mummy Fairy Costume.



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)


our last day in ireland
Tuesday October 30th 2007, 6:00 am
Filed under: personal

my dad and i had an absolutely perfect last day in ireland. we woke up on the antrim coastline town of portrush, and had a great ulster fry (an amazing northern irish breakfast, similar to a full english breakfast, but with the addition of fried soda bread and fried potato bread, both of which are just so frickin’ good!). then we set off on our day of tourism on the antrim coast.

first we hit the bushmill’s factory tour. bushmill’s is the oldest whiskey distillery in the world (officially licensed since 1608, but operating a couple hundred years prior to that). and whether you like whiskey or not, it’s a great tour. my dad and i were the only two people there for a tour at that early hour, so we essentially got a private tour. our old-ish tour guide was great, and we had so much fun. i’ve been on the tour two previous times, but i learned SO much more today. i finally understand the difference between scotch whisky, irish whiskey, and american bourbon (actually, kentucky bourbon and tennesee whiskey). and, though my dad has never even come close to liking whiskey, the guide gently coached him through some taste tests with a bit of water to soften the taste, and my dad actually like it! sweet!

next was dunluce castle, one of my favorite ruins in ireland. beautiful place hanging on to the edge of a massive cliffside. then we were off to the giant’s causeway, a world heritage site, and one of the most amazing and strange natural rock formations i’ve ever seen. really. google it or wikipedia it and look at the pics. we absolutely froze our butts off there, though; so we didn’t stay long.

next stop was the carrick-a-rede rope bridge, a truly odd tourist stop. it’s a historic rope bridge 100 feet over a small water channel (from the mainland to a tiny island), originally placed for a salmon fishery. it’s windy and wobbly and super-freaky. cold and rainy on us, but a blast.

finally, we drove my favorite road in ireland — one of my favorite drives in the world: a little road around the very northeast corner of ireland. the road is barely wider than one lane, and is cut into the top of extremely high hillsides that plunge down to the sea (scotland is visible at the outermost point). the hills are shockingly green and filled with sheep that seem like they should be rolling side-over-side down to the water.

tonite we’re in belfast, and, after dinner, i’m meeting my buddy johnny parks (the worship leader) for a pint. tomorrow morning we fly to the states: my dad to detroit, and me to beautiful grand rapids.

goodbye, ireland - until next time. you’re still one of my favorite countries on earth. you and argentina, and maybe new zealand. and, i suppose, the u.s. sometimes.


blogging from the st. louis national youth workers convention?
Tuesday October 30th 2007, 3:36 am
Filed under: youth ministry, youth specialties, blogs, youth work

who’s going to be blogging from the convention? let me know, and i’ll add you to the list, which i’ll likely post on thursday.


links golf on the northern irish coast
Monday October 29th 2007, 6:00 am
Filed under: personal

played a round of golf with me wee da yesterday at bushfoot, in the little coastal town of portballintrae. it was every single one of these:


ireland, sunday morning
Sunday October 28th 2007, 6:43 am
Filed under: youth ministry, personal, youth work

sunday morning on the north coast (the antrim coast), and, after two dark and dreary, rainy days, the sun broke out and is shining wonderfully. this is my last morning at the MAD weekend (a junior high weekend event put on by the presbyterian church of ireland). I’ve had a great time. the kids have been extra-engaged, it seems. my old friend andy flannigan is leading worship, and it’s been fun to catch up with him.

friday morning, my dad and I were blown away when the u.s. embassy handed him a temporary passport an hour and twenty minutes after he first walked in the door. government efficiency? I’m confused! (this morning, btw, my dad found his original passport). since we had so much of the day left, we went to newgrange and knowth, in slane (by the slane castle - home of many famous rock concerts, including one of U2’s dvds). newgrange and knowth are 5200 year-old passage tombs. absolutely fascinating. I’ll post pics at some point - when I get home and can get them off my camera.

yesterday afternoon, my dad and I drove over to londonderry (everyone just calls it derry) to spend the afternoon with my friend emily marschall. emily used to be in a small group is was in in san diego, and she hung around ys a bunch also. her dad worked at ys, and she dated a guy from ys for a while. oh, and she lived in my house for a bit also (but who hasn’t, really). anyhow, em’s been a missionary in derry for a couple years, and will likely stay long term. she’s amazing, and we had such a nice time with her: lunch, an interesting tour of derry, then coffee at emily’s flat.

this afternoon we have plans for a round of golf here on the coast. then, later today and all day tomorrow, we’ll hit the giant’s causeway, dunluce castle, the bushmills factory tour, and the gorgeous drive around the northeast coast of the country, arriving in belfast monday evening.

good times!


are you messages at odds with each other?
Sunday October 28th 2007, 6:01 am
Filed under: youth ministry, church, emerging church, youth work, emergent

i was listening to an emergent village podcast the other day, and doug pagitt was talking about how things we do in our churches are often at odds with what we say about the gospel. i sent doug an email with some educational theory terminology about what he was talking about, and he suggested i post it. so here it is!


Was just listening, in my car, to the podcast of you at the emergent mainline event, and you were mentioning the concept that we often have things we do in our churches (like how we arrange our chairs, or when people are “allowed” to speak) that are at odds with what we say about the gospel.

Let me offer you some language for that that might be helpful.  In education theory (and in real life practice) circles, there are multiple kinds of
curriculum (and, I would contend, that “curriculum” is just an ed-theory word for “message”).  The “formal” or “overt” or “plain” curriculum is the
content everyone thinks about.  In a classroom, it’s the teaching plan.  In a church, it’s the Sunday school lesson and the sermon.

But there are two other helpful terms:  non-formal curriculum, and null curriculum.  

The non-formal curriculum is the stuff we do, but don’t talk about.  It’s that stuff you were referring to:  how we arrange our chairs, our
architecture, who gets to talk when, power and social structures, all the expected norms and programs and means and methods.  Those are a “curriculum” (or message) in and of themselves, and the leader/teacher/pastor/organizer is foolish if she thinks the non-formal curriculum doesn’t communicate every bit as much as the formal curric.

Then, null curriculum is the stuff we don’t do and don’t talk about.  For example, if a youth ministry NEVER talks about homosexuality (because
they’re afraid to bring it up, not knowing how to respond), that becomes part of the null curriculum.  Churches, of course, have boxes full of this
stuff.  And — educational theorists say — the null curriculum ALSO communicates just as much as the formal curric (or, if not just as much, it
communicates a lot).

Anyhow, I thought you might find that helpful, and slip it into a future talk.


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