Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Discovering Our Prophetic Voice

I'm appearing as a guest author for the ELCA World Hunger blog, Hunger Rumblings.  Check it out!  It's about my experience attending a theological conference, Developing Hearts that Yearn for Justice.  It was quite an experience!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

King David - Anointed Boy

We kicked off the first week of reading the Bible from a youth perspective with a look at David (1 Samuel 16-18).  He was the youngest of eight brothers (were there any sisters)? Yet the Lord chose him, youngest to be the next king of Israel, why?

I asked the youth of our church and their answers were insightful:
-The young may not have as much experience, but they can think more creatively than adults
-The young have a more naive faith and pure heart, they are not as concerned about establishing their own well beings, and they are more open to serving God.

We then read about how David became the private harp player for King Saul, and then slays Goliath.  Strangely, after David kills Goliath, Saul doesn't recognize him.  Why not?  My professor of Hebrew Bible claimed that it is written as a polemic against Saul.  Either way, it is the young David who is overlooked by royalty.  He is literally just a "little guy."  I asked the youth if they could relate to this, to ever being overlooked.  They said, "yes" unanimously.

We ended our discussion by looking at how David grows up and mimics some of the same behaviors shown to him.

What are your thoughts?  What other youth-oriented perspectives are in this text?  What do you think we should read next?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A New Kind of Youth Ministry

Youth ministry must change.  Christianity must change too!


Brian D. McLaren argues  in his book, A New Kind of Christianity, that the Bible has been co-opted and dominated by one narrow interpretation: the Greco-Roman narrative which forces all of scripture to conform to one philosophical outlook and forsakes the beautiful diversity of voices found speaking in the Bible.

Brian challenges Christians to learn about Jesus in light of the great biblical heroes who precede him like: Adam, Abraham, Moses, David, {Amos, Isaiah, Jeremiah}, and John the Baptizer.  Who were these people and what do they teach us?  Who is Jesus in light of them?

What about the voices of the young?
Cain & Abel, Isaac & Ishmael, Dinah, David the anointed boy, Amos the farm boy, Esther the Queen, John leaping in the womb, Jesus the adolescent alone in the temple?

Up to this point in my tenure as a youth minister most of the resources I have encountered have all been attempts to better teach the Greco-Roman Narrative that McLaren criticizes.  I claim that youth ministry should take on the task of empowering young people to read the Bible through their unique perspectives.

I propose that a thorough reading of the Bible be done looking specifically for the experience and voice of young people.

I am calling for a systematic youth theology to be constructed that is essentially concerned about God’s love for young people.

Nothing less but the future of Christianity depends on you(th).  Brian McLaren claims that a New Kind of Christianity is emerging.  I hope that a new kind of youth ministry is emerging too!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Do you want to do good? Join a church!

Do you want to good in the world?  Join a church.  At least that's what Dan Dennett of the "New Atheists" thinks you should do.  And I quote:

"Churches are great for moral teamwork…in a way it is a sad reflection on secular institutions that people in large parts of this country.  The good news is they want to lead good lives, they want to do good… and they look around…the only way they can see to do a lot of good is by joining a church. So they join a church because that is the only institution in their neighborhood where they think they can do good works and they’re right!  That’s all good.  And I say so."  -Daniel Dennett recorded on February 16, 2020 in Albrecht Auditorium source.

Of course, not all of what professor Dennett had to say was affirming of religion or theology, but these gracious words are very good indeed.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Theological/Philosophical Debate!

And the debate is...on!  My professor, Dr. Philip Clayton has extended an invitation to Dr. Daniel Dennett to a theological/philosophical debate, and the invitation has been accepted!

February 16, 2010, 2.00 - 3.00pm Albrecht Auditorium at Claremont Graduate University.

What's at stake?
Dennett is part one of the "New Athiests" along with Dawkins and Harris.  Clayton is a theologian and philopher of process thought.

What will be the nature of the debate?

The existence of God?

What will be parameters of the debate be?

Will there be audience participation with Q & A?

What will their arguments be and what sources of authority will they draw upon?

Is Dennett familiar with a Process Theology/Philosophy perspective?  This is a viewpoint that is not always understood or considered.

Will there be civility and mutual respect?  I hope so!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Who Ate This Bible?

Two nights ago at our high school youth group, our adult leader was handed a Bible that was falling apart (even worse than the one in the picture). She asked sarcastically, "Who ate this Bible?" The youth laughed! Indeed most of the Bibles in our youth room are in tatters. For a moment I was a little embarrassed that our Bibles had fallen into such disrepair, but then I felt a warm sense of pride. We have been using our Bibles so much that they have fallen apart! I can think of the dozens and dozens of times that these Bibles have been passed out, opened, read, discussed, and wrestled with. Yes, there have even been more than a few times when perhaps a Bible was tossed or even thrown around the room bordering on irreverence. This is the fine line that all youth ministers must navigate: shoe reverence, but also keep it real. So now our Bibles are falling apart and what are we to do? The next day our pastor recommended that we buy a new set of Bibles for the youth room.

Do you have a story of a tattered Bible? Do you have a picture you'd like to share? Post it and link it to this site! What kind of Bible(s) should we get for our Lutheran youth group?

Green Bible
Poverty and Justice Bible
Red Letter Bible
CEV (What we've been using)

I don't know about you, but I am not always happy with 'youth' Bibles. It seems as if too often a 'youth Bible' is regular Bible that is jazzed up with few graphics. Does anyone know of a good Bible that actually gives commentary to the text that is applicable to youth? Let me know!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Roman Roads and the Internet - Platforms for Religion

In my New Testament class we learned that the development of Roman Roads were instrumental to the spread of Christianity throughout the Roman Empire. These roads were constructed primarily for the military, to expand and maintain the empire through force. Yet in times of peace they allowed a marketplace to emerge. This marketplace included commercial and intellectual aspects. Certain business and commerce flourished. Philosophers and would be religions leaders too set out to spread their messages. The apostle Paul would be one such person. This is an example of a platform, that is read and heard about from people who think about new technologies.

A platform is something that allows for innovation, and for people and groups to build upon. The obvious platform of today is the Internet. Yet the Internet is so huge that platforms are being created on that platform. Google is an example of this. Google provides services, and yes has very powerful ways that it makes money, but it allows for creativity and innovation within itself. For this reason it can be considered a platform.

What can the church learn from this? In my view, the church as at least two major places to grow in light of new platforms.

One - To play a role in new platforms that develop. What is the niche that the church can occupy on the Internet platform?

Two - How is the church developing platforms of its own? That is, how is the church allowing for innovation and the development of an ecosystem in which people and groups occupy niches? I think it has done this in various ways throughout history, but now the challenge is to do this in light of new connectivity with one another through the Internet.

What do you think? Does the church act as a platform allowing for innovation? How can it do this better?