Thursday, May 24, 2007

Facebook is better than Myspace

Friends recently mocked me when I told them why I never had a Myspace page. Essentially, I found all the pages I did see chaotic and difficult to navigate. Facebook on the other hand is standardized. I know how to navigate around it. My friends mocked me as being stodgy and old, perhaps both true, but not because I like Facebook more than Myspace.

Over here is a quote from a panel of Silicon valley youth. The verdict? They like Facebook better. Why? "On both panels, MySpace universally was out of favor (even if the panelists still had a profile up) because it was too "gawdy" or "cluttered."



I'm not sure that I can intelligently connect these three things but there must be significant:

1. The Atlantic Monthly had an article on the 'stop snitching' movement as it plays out in Baltimore. The code of omerta which normally protects mafia and organized crime is now supposed to protect cheap drug dealers and petty theives. There is something tragic about the loss of community.

2. Parkdale Pictures recently had a little piece on CBC that I caught. He wants to point out the hypocrisy of the media who chastises hip-hop culture (see previous article) for the "stop snitching" but who turn around and then yell "snitch, snitch" at David Radler.

3. Now there is which outs rats using court documents.

Seems that issues of truth and community swirl around this topic and that new technology complicates both.


Monday, May 21, 2007

Peter Hazelrigg

My Spain buddy and main partner in thinking about wildreness stuff has put up the start of a more extensive website. Nothing too deep or interactive yet but it is a start.


Monday, May 14, 2007

Drinking on May 24

Those who are inclined to research such matters will find the following study about 19-29 year old drinking habits interesting.


Forbidden Fruit

Awhile ago I chastised Kenda Dean for her exuberant praise of a youth ministry scholar whose book I found lacking. When I saw that Kenda had breathlessly endorsed this book with, “I’ve waited for this book my entire ministry” I was a little suspicious. In the end, however, Kenda is closer to the truth this time around.

If I taught a class on adolescent sexuality and faith as Kenda does, I too would enthuse over this book. Marrying the NYRS with a large health survey, Regnerus drills down on how religion influences adolescent sexuality. Nothing escapes his attention although some matters do receive more attention than others. Even in areas where Regnerus doesn’t have enough data, such as online pornography, to do justice to the topic, he makes educated guesses that will help direct future research.

The strength, and weakness, of this book is the numbers. There are a lot of numbers as this is straight up statistical sociology. Regnerus uses a multi sample methodology, supplementing survey data with interviews, but if you are not a numbers person you might want to wait until Kenda writes a follow up book that helps the church interpret this data. His 12 conclusions are eye opening but not immediately practical which could also be said for his unscientific postscript. If you are looking for a curriculum to use at youth group steer clear of this book. If you are looking for a description of a complex relationship - religion and sex in adolescence - that you might use to understand your youth and develop a normative framework, this is your book.

I'll post a few quotes from the book in the coming week since there is nary a page that goes by that doesn't contain an interesting insight. The bibliography alone makes this book worth it.

A footnote - the book that I've been waiting for my career has to do with vocation and adolescence. Interesting that Regnerus uses imagery from the Garden of Eden (the apple) when the expulsion also directly relates to vocation (the curse of work). I wonder if there is enough data to drill down on Vocation and Religion in the Lives of [North] American Teenagers?

Labels: ,

Saturday, May 12, 2007

already but not yet Presbyrians

This only applies to very few folks who check this blog out so if you aren't PCC clergy under 40ish then skip this post.

For those who are remaining, the cyber part of the young clergy group is going on Facebook. It was a secure place that we could have more extended discussions, post little notes, keep up to date and keep the administration tasks to a minimum.

Register on Facebook. Look for me or any of the other 11 or so members. Request to be invited. Start the community.


Father Green

I met an invisible friend today. An invisible friend is someone that you know, likely through their writings, but they don't know you. Part of my Master's thesis was based on Father Tom Green S.J. and his work. I found his Weeds among the Wheat to be a practical and wise take on Ignatian discernment that helped guide some of my initial thoughts on vocation. His talks today were on the role of the spiritual director and while there were not earth shattering new insights, it was quite good to meet him and to hear his wisdom in person.

I also met Gordon T. Smith, an evangelical scholar who did his dissertation work on Wesley and Ignatius. Interesting since I'm coming at from a more Reformed (Calvin, Barth) perspective. We had a good but too brief discussion at the end of his second talk.

For more info check out open hearts . . . open minds . Eventually the four talks will be available as MP3's so if vocation and discernment are your things, check them out.


Tempers, Risk and Church Attendance

As I'm reading Forbidden Fruit I came across an interesting paragraph:

My own analysis of the Add Health data on temperament and personality orientations indicate that hot-tempered adolescents report lower attendance at religious services than do youth whose parents say their child as not temper problem (see Table 2.1). Only 27 percent of adolescents who attend weekly were reported as having a temper, compared with 38 percent of youth who never attend. Having a temper decreased the odds that teens would report higher attendance by about 23 percent in multivariate analyses (results not shown). Analyses of NSYR data on adolescents' temperment confirm these associations. Adolescents who like to take risks are similarly less likely to attend religious services. Just under two-thirds of those who never attend reported that they liked to take risks, compared with about 54 percent of teens who attend regularly. Hot-tempered and risk-taking youth also report that religion is less important to them, in about equal ratios to that found for lower attendance. p.51

You don't have to be a sociologist to find these numbers interesting, especially if you've been keeping up to date on adolescent brain development. One of the areas that teens need to develop is their capacity to assess risk. They simply can't do it well. Seems to me that there is something between these two facts that needs further exploration.

As well, the line, "It's boring" is apparently true. Risk takers, those who get bored, vote with their feet and leave. I'm not a fan of hype, but there is something to increasing risk in ministry.


Friday, May 11, 2007


Credit goes out to a student of mine from the past two semesters for really putting me onto this book. Joel (who gets married tomorrow - congrats) leant me a copy but I couldn't find the time so I bought it. Well worth the price and one book that all youth ministry folks need to get.

Reason #1 - Love. I've been dating/married to Vivian since April 21st 1989. I'm only 35. You do the math. There is nothing so powerful as relationships founded in adolescence. Raina loves Craig into existence and vice versa. The ache of seperation, the thrill of touch - it all makes it here in a totally believable way. Don't get me wrong, I'm still deeply in love with Vivian, but the "I can't exist without her because she is more important than air" feeling of adolescence has long been asssumed. This book put me in touch with those feelings again and allowed me to see youth I work with with renewed light.

Reason #2 - Solitude. Bob Dykstra gave some lectures at Princeton a few years ago that started with these lines, "I want to suggest in this lecture that adolescence is a necessarily lonely time of life, and that we, as persons interested in serving and guiding young people, should not be too eager to remove their loneliness from them." Dykstra doesn't want us to isolate kids but rather allow for individuals to develop as individuals. We have an obsession with groups, especially youth ministry. While we are all about one on one relationships, we still program primarily for groups. Relationships, even one on one, have the possibility of hindering the Creator from interacting with the created. Blankets has solitude and doesn't candy coat it or explain it away. Loners and individuals are good.

Reason #3 - The fragility of families. Beyond the fundamentalist parents, Thompson has a heart breaking relationship with his brother. As Phil is being lead into another room, innocently thinking that his babysitter has something fun for him to do, Craig remains silent. The drawings should crush you, especially if you are an older brother like me. Likewise, the real difficulties that Raina faces - bitch of an older sister, Down Syndrome sister and brother, parents divorcing with mom absent and dad trying too hard - put a face to the rather bland, "breakdown of family values" talk we so often hear.

Experience the book for your self.

Labels: ,

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Bustin a sag for Jesus

A friend recently sent this to me to confirm for him. I'm not sure that I can. Can anyone? I know folks like this but I've never used the term. I'm glad to say that my hairstyle has never been popular with any segment of the population and I don't talk about Generation Y.

Labels: ,

Monday, May 07, 2007

TV is bad . . . or maybe not

I'm not entirely disagreeing with recent studies (summarized here) that TV is generally bad but I do wonder about the results for teens. Notice that teens who watch a lot of TV "at mean age 14 years [are] associated with elevated risk for subsequent frequent attention difficulties, frequent failure to complete homework assignments, frequent boredom at school, failure to complete high school, poor grades, negative attitudes about school (i.e., hates school), overall academic failure in secondary school and failure to obtain post-secondary (e.g., college, university, training school) education." At age 14 I was bored with school which lead to significant increase in attention difficulties and failure to complete homework, not to mention lower grades than I had previously attained. I did get past this boredom and have since earned some post-secondary education so I don't fit the type entirely. Still, I wonder whether school, which exists in a print world, is the most accurate measure of the effects of video? The study assumes that print and thought processes associated with it are the measure of health and well being. Perhaps they aren't.

Case in point. I hung out with a great teen last week. I've watched him grow up and he is not so enthralled with school. He has engaged in risky behaviour etc., which certainly drives his parents crazy but sort of endears him to others. He showed me a video that he was in the process of making which was frankly pretty amazing. He not only had organized his friends, swindled a camera, secured sets (including the inside of a working jail!), come up with the story and was in the process of editing it - he did all of these things well. One scene paid homage to a Batman comic book but the homage went beyond rote repitition to creative engagement. Here is a kid who fits all of the categories negatively associated with TV, making his mark in video. Why fight it? Why not let him do what he does, encourage him to learn and grow in the medium that he most naturally fits into? Luckily for him, his parents are by sending him to film school, but how many 'deviant' kids could push the boundaries of new media but are stuck in a culture dominated by print?


Spy Quarter

Getting a lot of press today but too funny to pass up, especially since I was just in the land of the Free and Paranoid. Doubly funny considering that the quarters are an attempt at home grown patriotism which seems to have illuded the top 'intelligence' officers of the US.


Sunday, May 06, 2007

new Ebook

I check out Tim's blog and he's taken alot of his 'tips' and put them into one pdf. Some helpful and innovative tips that need a bigger context. Tim knows this so it makes his book all that more useful.

130 Youth Ministry Tips and Ideas Free Ebook
Download this FREE Ebook!



Having just returned from two weeks away, marks are still on my mind. I spent a good chunk two weeks ago marking papers/exams. Last week I was in mark obsessed Princeton. Not that there is anything original in this CBC article, it makes me wonder two things.

First, a friend hypothesizes that 10% of the population is academically inclined, 10% of university students have no right to be there and the other 80% hover in the middle. My experience so far is that this is roughly true. Out of 20 students last semester, 2 failed (for plagiarism), 3 got higher than 85% and the rest were in the middle.

Second, what is the role of marks in a Christian context. I'm not grading someone's salvation, or even if they are good ministers. I'm loathe to play either the academic game or the economic game. At the same time, I'm also loathe to allow the Christian community to do anything less than honour God with our whole mind.