Friday, December 2, 2011

Nativity Cheese

A quick shout out to my friend Marko who is making some big headlines these days with a little project he has worked on the past couple of years. He has collected images of cheesy nativity scenes. As we enter Christmas, let's not forget the reason for the season - a bacon Jesus?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Who Killed Horatio Alger?: The decline of the meritocratic ideal

Who Killed Horatio Alger?: The decline of the meritocratic ideal

This is a longer read than I would normally suggest but I think that there are a bunch of take homes worth ferreting out. The core argument is that something has changed in the U.S. economy - we've moved to a place where the necessary meritocratic equilibrium for the proper functioning of capitalism is threatened.

"Two powerful forces are threatening to drive America from a meritocratic equilibrium to a nonmeritocratic one. Recall that to survive in a democratic country, a meritocracy must enjoy a welcoming culture and offer large, widespread benefits to citizens. In the United States, both of these factors are being challenged: the first by a spreading belief that markets are a bad method of rewarding the meritorious; the second by a reduction of the benefits that most people derive from those markets."

There is a bit of a chicken/egg going on but if the benefits of capitalism do not spread out to a broad enough portion of the population then people do not trust that there is anyway that they might succeed, creating a vicious cycle downwards.

File under "descriptions of the economic world that young people are coming of age into" which is significantly different than "the way it used to be".

From a new-to-me journal called City Journal.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

To follow up on the last post, Andy has been doing some live blog discussions on the book. In this one he talks to a youth worker from Texas on how Chapter 3 relates to everyday youth ministry. The book is a bit more academic than some might expect from the youth ministry world but the conversation on this blog makes some of the theological thought real. There is a good discussion of pastoral care of young people that might make sense to anyone who cares about young people.

Just to be clear - I don't get any money from this book. I'm posting about it because I'm interested in it more than because I'm getting paid to endorse it. I got one free copy. Total disclosure.

I had supper with a friend on the weekend who also happens to have written one of my top five youth ministry books. I'll put a list up for the next post so that you can see that I don't just self promote.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Theological Turn in Youth Ministry

I've worked and studied with Kenda for a number of years and have been colleagues with Andy since our time overlapping at Princeton Theological Seminary. They've put together a book of articles that trace the trajectory of "the theological turn in youth ministry." Both have some pieces up around the net about the book since it got released last month. Amazon reviewers are giving it good marks as are others out there. If you Google it you will discover videos and pod-casts discussing the material. Full disclosure -  I helped Andy write a piece that is at the end. I happen to think it is OK although the article did ruffle a few feathers at recent youth ministry gatherings.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Starting Again?

I've been thinking of kick starting this blog back up. What better article to start with than this article from the Atlantic on why cheap maple syrup is actually better. For anyone who knows my family, my great-grandfather, grandfather, and now uncles run a family farm in south western Ontario - Shady Walnut Farm. My uncles host a pancake day where hundreds come and enjoy hot pancakes cooked by my cousins served with fresh maple syrup. Think I might need to go and grab myself a bowl.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Malcolm Gladwell and Youth Ministry

I know, long silence. Life as a Phd student gets overwhelming at times.

Take a look at Malcolm Gladwell's bit here. I'm particularly interested in the idea that it isn't what we were drafted out of but what we were drafted into that determines success. Think of the implications for education, especially of ministers. My high grades do not mean that I will be a good minister. Rather, the environment of my first ministry has a large part in determining my long term success as a minister. Maybe we should spend more time mentoring and less time teaching?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Violence and video games

*note added Nov.7, 2008: This is what I'm worried will happen when people don't do their homework regarding methodology. I agree that we need to parent our children but the conclusion is to facile considering the faults of the study.*

My wife noted last night that I hadn't played a violent video game in a long time. She was not a fan of GTA Vice City. And she likely has cause to be concerned. I am now the father of young children and simply do not have the time to immerse myself in the game world.

Yet another study has come out that co-relates video game violence and aggression. I'm sympathetic to the argument though as argued here, the methodology of the study does leave a lot to be desired.

I'm currently taking an empirical research methods class and I wonder if our intentions are right when it comes to studying violence and video games but our methods are wrong. Quantitative studies like this one will never really get at how young people construct meaning in their world and in their relationships. Shouldn't we abandon the quixotic quest of trying to go for the statistically causal relationship and simply switch methods to qualitative? Shouldn't we look at how actual gamers shape their realities in relation to games? There are oodles of valid research methods other than quantitative ones. Why don't we use them? Better yet, why doesn't someone fund me to do the study? Then I could move past the retro gamer I am into a whole new level of hipness.