my inner monologue...
site by Andrew Seely
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
The new Firefox 1.5 is here!!!
You can download it here.
I've only been playing with it for around 5 min and there are a few things I want to bring to note.
1st is a really great improvement. You can now move tabs around. They are not longer fixed to the order opened. Something I've been hoping for, for a long time.
2nd it seems that my blog is off, when viewed in 1.5. The recent comments don't span down to the next line, so the push the main content over to the right, maybe I need to make some adjustments. But ultimately I think it has to do with the problem I created when I messed with the recent comment part a while ago. I think I just need to scrap that whole section and start over.
Anyways, if you're not a die hard firefox fan already I'd suggest waiting till a few bugs get worked out. But ANYTHING is better than IE.
Friday, November 25, 2005
Yesterday we prayed for those who had less and things we were thankful for.
Today we shop for ourselves and recover from gluttony.
Think about it.
Then think about Christ.
Thursday, November 24, 2005
I went to see rent. See previous post for links and info.
As I was sitting in the theatre I had to remind myself that I wasn't gay. Looking around I noticed that there were either 3 groups of people. Couples, larger groups of friends or gaggles of girls.
Me - alone.
Anyways that's not the point of this post.
I did cave and sing softly through a handful of songs and I think I heard a few other people doing the same. But shamefully I did not Moo. Oh well. Maybe it's a theatre thing.
If you haven't seen the movie or rather not read anything that might ruin your experience please stop now. But do go down and read posts that you may have missed, they start here. (this will bypass this post)
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space intentionally left blankHere are my initial thoughts about the movie version of rent.
I will break it down into pros and cons.
First the pros.
~ It was really nice to have actual sets and environments for the characters to run around in and be a part of. While I love what is left to the imagination in the stage version, it is nice to be able to expand the visuals of actually being in a location instead of just seeing a table or a chair. I especially liked when Mark and Joanne tango, Roger driving through New Mexico, the Life Cafe, the Life Support meeting and the church.
~ The acting was good, especially since it's a musical, but due to film there were many more opportunities for the actors to convey things with their faces and body language which is usually lost if you sit behind row H.
~ I really enjoyed the scenes that involved the Life Support group. The intimacy that was conveyed during those scenes is lost when all you see is a few people sitting in the upper-left of the stage in a small circle. Also those are some of my favorite songs and the direction for the scenes was great. Though I must say I missed Gordon singing his line about fear. "I'm a New Yorker, fears my life."
~ The sequence in the Life Cafe along with the song La Vie Boheme - simply amazing. The atmosphere that an actual location brings to that song, truly brings it to life more fully. One of the highlights of the film for me.
~ The Tango Maureen, while not one of my favorite songs, it does have my all time favorite chord in the whole show. The ending two notes sung by Mark and Joanne - wonderful. I really enjoyed the choreography during this scene, the addition of a fantasy is a nice way to fill out the situation the two find themselves in. I did miss the singing in the intro of the song, when Mark and Joanne first meet.
~ Angel's funeral is capped by a beautiful sanctuary where the cast remembers her life. A nice subtle touch to a powerful moment in the story.
~ I really enjoyed the acting during Goodbye Love, the play between the characters in accentuated by the emotion conveyed on their faces now just in their voices. And the cemetery looks beautiful with the fall colors.
Now the Cons.
First let me say, while the cons out number the pros it does not mean that I overly disliked the movie, the show will always have a special place in my heart as well as many others and really nothing can top a live performance of RENT.
~ While I enjoyed being able to see faces and body language better, some parts were lost in the experience of only being able to see shapes of bodies and a full stage all at once.
~ On a similar note, I must say that my imagination and the places in a stage show where you are forced to fill in the gaps is far better than seeing someone else's vision for the scene. Same went for LOTR.
~ I really, really didn't like the CG breath that was added to convey cold. It wasn't consistent and over done, except during I Should Tell You (I liked it then).
~ I felt the music was over produced. Especially the instruments. I really like the raw sound that 4 guys on stage bring to the over all performance. While I know there were many concessions made in terms of the music, I thought that the voice recordings should reflect the space that the scene was in. Hearing a "recorded" voice, when a space such as a large hall or church would produce such a nice tone, wasn't fun for someone who knows that things like this are possible to do. That made it seem like less real in the sense that on the stage you get stage quality and atmosphere, and in a movie, (I at least), would like to hear sound that reflects the environment that it is being sung in. And over and over it is clear that they are lip-syncing. ESPECIALLY during Today For Me, Tomorrow For You - bad!!!
~ While I know they couldn't put all the songs and little singing parts in, I felt they failed to incorporate a consistent amount of either just new dialogue or dialogue converted from lyrics. Whenever someone said something that used to be a lyric, it felt very rhyme oriented or sing-songy, I didn't like that. I would have liked it if they had just said the line with feeling instead of trying to be reminiscent of the musical aspect of the line, or better yet since they took time to put the line it, they could have just sung the line.
~ I didn't like the fact that the first 2/3s of the movie now takes place over 4 days instead of 1 night.
~ The extra scenes were Ok. The one I was most disappointed with was the Maureen/Joanne engagement party thing. Not for moral reasons, but just for flow and exposition. And almost equally I didn't like the meeting with Alexi Darling. That's such a funny/good bit with the answering machine.
~ Maybe I missed it, but I really wanted to hear "Honest Living!!!". I am thankful that "You can take the girl out of hicksville, but you can't take the hicksville out of the girl." made it into the movie, even though it wasn't sung.
~ I didn't like the music video feel to the song portions, while there were a few exceptions that work really well in that format and were carried by some nice editing, multiples locations and cinematography, the rest of the scenes felt flat. The multiple angles of people singing to each other in a not-so-artsy way left me feeling unfulfilled. I would have rather watched them from one angle and one length than multiple camera angels. Not to say that this ruined the film, but it becomes quite easy to see where the time and care was put into certain songs that made them "look good" for the screen.
Well that's it. I don't know if I'll see it again in the theatres. I think I'd much rather see the stage version or listen to the Broadway Recording.
I'll give the movie a solid 7, but encourage people not to settle for the movie and go and see it in real life.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
New Ghetto Blog
So today is the opening for RENT (offical site)(theatre site).
I've been quite excited about this for some time; about a year now.
I think I'm going to go and see it tonight or at the latest sometime this weekend. I even woke up this morning and one of the first things I read was this article. I couldn't help but sing the lyrics in the article. I guess it's that bad. I just hope I can keep my voice down in the theatre. Cause the movie theatre isn't like the real theatre where people don't mind a little singing from the audience. I think I will still Moo when the appropriate time comes. That's just proper.
Anyways go and see this amazing show, now in movie form.
Just in case you wanted to know my top 5 favorite songs (full list) from the show are:
5.I'll Cover You
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
In case you haven't heard the Southern California Cohort is putting on an event Dec 3rd from 9-12.
We'll be meeting with Ryan Bolger (his new book can be found here) and discussing some of his work and sharing our lives together.
We hope to see you there. Info and directions can be found here.
Monday, November 21, 2005
Doing Youth Ministry in a new way is hard.
It is quite difficult to be in the unknown. What may even be harder is not being able to adequately judge how well I am progressing in the unknown.
As sad as this sounds, I think it may be due to size.
I come from experience in youth ministry of groups ranging from 10-40. But being thrusted into ministry that hangs around 1-7 it becomes quite a different beast.
While I know some of the newer principles that I am working from do translate to a smaller setting. I think they would stand the test much better if they were put into action around a slightly larger sized group.
I'm not saying that I feel like a failure (so no need to affirm me in the comments), I am just putting it out there that things can be difficult.
I want to be the type of minister that is walking into the wild unknown of God and Christ. I guess with that territory comes the insecurity of not really being able to firmly find parallels with the way most currently do youth ministry.
And I know this is true for most of my youth ministry friends who are venturing into the unknown. For without a runaway success that gets marketed to a million and one other people it's hard to figure out what is really working. And I don't think I'd ever want my way of doing ministry to be marketed out to other people.
Right now I just feel stuck. Being 9 months in, it's a give and go measure of how things are going. I'm not far enough to actually be able to make determinate statements about where we have come, but I want to, and I think the pressure may come soon about producing result based statements.
This post doesn't really get me anywhere, probably it's just more me venting some things that are on my mind.
My goal has and will be to make sure that ministry is something that makes a lasting impact on students lives, but the problem that comes with this is most of the time I'll never be able to see the results.
Thursday, November 17, 2005
I posted my open letter to Paul Proctor and emailed him letting him know I posted the letter. I'm assuming he read it, but the only text that came in his email response was this:
"Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD...Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the LORD...Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD. They say still unto them that despise me, The LORD hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you...I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed. How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart; Which think to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbour, as their fathers have forgotten my name for Baal... Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that steal my words every one from his neighbour. Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that use their tongues, and say, He saith. Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD." - Jeremiah 23:1,2b,16, 25-27, 30-32I'm not sure what he's trying to convey, or how I should take these verses? Since that's ALL he wrote in the email. Any ideas?
please comment at the top of the post, where it says "start a coverstaion" or "# of people having a conversation" - thanks
Well folks I have done a lot of writing this week so I want to call your attention to a few posts that you may have missed if you haven't been here everyday, every 5 min.
media 1, 1.5, 2, 3
Just leave comments on the original post.
Thanks again for continuing to read.
Last March I posted here about the Chronicles of Narnia (official site).
I can't tell you how excited I am for this movie (and this one too).
I am a bit concerned although that it may get bastardization unto the Christian market. It already is getting a lot of press, just do a google news search for narnia, or here's a story from NPR's Morning Edition.
I can't tell you how many flyers I have gotten in the mail at church for this movie. The studio is obviously betting on the "christian" demographics to come out and make this movie as popular as the Passion.
While I'm not ashamed of the message that is portrayed in the books and the film, I think there is a definite over-emphasis on the whole "christian message" theme.
There didn't seem to be that emphasis on LOTR even though there are very overt christian themes that run through that book(s)/movie(s) too.
I hope it's not just me who wants to see this series retain the honor and prestige that it has gained over the years. I'm even worried that my blog address is going to seem like I'm jumping on the "Narnia" bandwagon.
I guess time will tell as to what happens in the long run. It would be nice to see a comprehensive cinematic telling of this story. I loved the old BBC series as a child. And in my humble opinion for a change of pace I would have liked to see the Jim Henson Creature Workshop do the creatures instead of WETA, just for the reasoning that it feels too soon since LOTR.
I'll see you on Dec 9th.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Why it took me over a year and a half to see this movie I can't really explain. I knew that I wanted to see it the moment I saw the preview but I just never got around to it. That pretty much sums up what I want to talk about.
But first the movie itself.
A story as meaningful as this needs to be presented in a manner that is full of respect and honor. The understanding and emotion that this film brings to the situation of past events is something that is not often found in contemporary american film making.
This movie (as others have said) should be required viewing for Christians. I would add Crash to this list (especially those who live in LA). I'm sure there are a few other select movies but this is a small start. Though if you have not seen the documentaries Dear Francis and Invisible Children they raise some good issues.
While I was only 13 at the time of the incident, I do vaguely recall hearing about the situation from TV and news sources.
I know it's easy to talk about this in retrospect, but I do have to question the lack of a Christian response to the situation. I'm sure it was like my viewing of this movie...we just never got around to it.
More and more as I deepen my faith and become more involved in understanding the life of the persecuted and disenfranchised, the more my heart goes out to those who are suffering in the world. At this point I am firmly committed to searching out the news of those in need and in suffering. I will not live my live by major headlines and american driven priorities.
I have used this blog in multiple settings to talk about the need for americans (christians) to take heed of what is going on outside of their own little world. One of my new favorite statements from Tony Jones is that we are living in a post-Auschwitz world and it changes everything.
Things like this should never happen if christians are truly on the watch. I will not let my generation allow atrocities like this to continue.
media 3 will be posted soon, I had a longer day than I expected
This is an addition that kinda fits into the media category. I titled it 1.5 since I didn't really plan on doing this.
As you can see I've updated some things in the sidebar. Most notably, I've added some stuff from technorati.com including a good search tool. Finally you can find things easily instead of tirelessly searching the archives.
Let me know if you find this useful.
Yes I realize that it is 3:41 am. I'm just still up.
Here's my first of 3 (for now) media related posts.
Arrested Development (official site) has quickly become one of my favorite shows. If you follow any entertainment news then you know this show is in danger of being cancelled. It already has had it's season cut to only 13 episodes, is not being shown during the month of november and possibly will be totally cut due to lack of ratings, despite winning emmys and being a critical acclaim.
Petitions have been known to save shows temporarily. So sign this one.
But more importantly tell people to watch this show. Especially if you know someone who's a part of that special Nielsen family.
Save Arrested Development.
And if you haven't seen it, both the first and second seasons are on DVD and available to rent. If you don't like it, I'll refund .05 of your rental fee.
It's now 1:21am on Wed Nov 16th 2005 and I have just recieved my 21,000th visitor to this blog in just under 2 years.
Thank you to all you faithful readers.
Thanks for being on the journey.
Today is going to be media day. I have
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Was reading Dan Kimball's blog today as I usually do, expecting some more good writing and insight and came upon this. (please read first)
I probably shouldn't be writing this. I should take some time and process my thoughts, but I can't hold this in any longer. I'm just so mad. Well peeved to say the least.
An open letter to Paul Proctor:
Not once did you mention consoling words for either Kyle Lake's family or the congregation of UBC. I know you stated your reasons in your article. But I call your attention back to the sermon on the mount (which you have quoted in previous articles), "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." - Jesus. Isn't Jesus more important than Peter or Paul? You even claim Jesus is the most important person and who's name should be exemplified. So please don't just quote Peter and Paul when you claim Jesus as more important.
If you are like me or many other families, then you should notice something about the way you live.
Think about the room that you spend a good majority of your "down time" in. Probably this room is the family room or the living room. Now think about the arrangement of this room. Its focus is usually on a tv or an "entertainment center" and the couches or chairs are usually angled to promote those areas.
I think this speaks volumes about the lack of interaction of people in homes and in other social settings. We have literally set ourselves up not to talk with each other.
This can be seen in so many other areas of life too. From school to church the focus is always in one direction and not towards each other.
Our individualistic culture is driving up to be incapable of being good conversationalists.
Now days we get upset when people we don't know talk to us in public places. Our privacy is so guarded that we are offended when people try and talk to us, if we don't know them. We automatically assume (while most of the time true) that someone wants something or is trying to sell us something instead of just engaging in good conversation.
We have isolated conversation to certain times and occasions. This is even evident in how we eat our meals. Most american families do not eat regularly in their "dining rooms" which are usually reserved for special occasions and holidays and go un-used most of the year.
This trend has be perpetuated for a long time in churches as well. Take a look at any church, especially gothic cathedrals. Where is the focus of the church? In one direction. Front. While this was purposefully done in order to focus people upwards towards God during worship. I think the point of pews and forward facing may need to be re-examined.
Preaching in the round has become more prevalent in some churches, but I do not think enough people have explored the reasoning behind it.
First, we must recognize that since the advent of small groups we have done a bit better in moving towards an equal footing that promotes conversation.
But I think the structure of most sanctuaries hinders the conversation that should take place between members of a church. While I recognize this probably isn't possible for larger churches, I can still see this working for churches up to around 500-700 members.
Solomon's Porch (in it's former location and I think in it's current location) is a good example of this style of preaching in the round.
First and foremost I think what re-structuring our worship spaces communicates is that we are all doing this church thing together. Why is our "conversation" time secluded to coffee hour? And do we even interact with what has just been preached or do we discuss family matters and personal stories.
I am not against fellowship but I am pro conversation about what was talked about during the service. I even think that this should be a part of the worship service.
What this really communicates is a corporate processing of the message and of the scripture in a communal setting.
Why not arrange our homes and our churches to foster community. Re-arrange your furniture. Re-arrange your church.
Why do we have spiritually vapid and anorexic members? Because they are not allowed or fully encouraged to process their own issues with scripture and christian living. We mandate and dictate how to think about scripture.
The problem is that we are communal people who process things together in community.
So maybe it's as simple as taking intentional steps to provide places where people can actively participate in working through processing information and theology.
I know there are many places that do a good job at this, and I must write that I know this does not sum up all churches, and that this is just my observations and hopes for what church can become.
I desire conversation to come back to church life. I desire a community to process theology together not just listening to one person.
I'll admit I am still processing theology and probably will be for the rest of my life. I want to ask people to join me in learning what it means to be a follower of christ. I do not have all the answers. I need people around me to help me process, and I want to be able to inspire people to realize that they have the capacity to do the same thing. And that following Christ takes work and effort, you can not just show up and receive a theology, you must question, you must process.
I know this isn't the best post, or the clearest laid out, but I think you get the general point.
If you have questions or comments please leave them and let's continue to process this together.
As I said in yesterday's audio blog, I was at the premiere of Just Friends (official site) in Westwood.
Bobby (the roommate) invited me, because his girlfriend's friend has some passes, and I had nothing better to do.
Prior to going last night I had seen the previews for this movie and thought not too highly of it and had made up my mind not to go see it at all. But like I said I had nothing better to do, so I went.
It was exactly as I expected. It wasn't good.
At least I got free popcorn and soda and I got to gander at a few stars. The only good one was Stephen Root.
Monday, November 14, 2005
click Trogdor to play
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Friday, November 11, 2005
Disclaimer: These are my views. I am still processing them. I am open for comments. But before you rip on me or just pain get mad, please re-read the article carefully and consider what I have written. Not everyone will agree with what I say here and I acknowledge this.
I've been re-thinking the whole youth ministry sex talk.
While I haven't given one yet, I think it's good to think about this far ahead of actually doing one. Especially in the light of what I really want to communicate if and when I get to have these kind of conversations with students.
First I want to really examine what we are communicating with the message "no sex outside of marriage". Let me first say I wholly ascribe to this line of thought. But I must say that I do not like what undertone(s) this message communicates. I'd rather come with a message of "it's ok to make mistakes (sexually)" (I'll further explain what I mean shortly).
I want to start with the more traditional message that we are giving students. With the message of "NO SEX" I think we state a few things. We state that feelings of sexual nature are something that are bad, or a hindrance to living a full life. It also communicates a message that says that you can seriously compromise your faith if you participate in sexual activity. It also can lead to shame and possibly being ostracized by peers and other "christians". And finally it communicates a sense of regret and shame if one does make a mistake.
While these things are not overtly prominent or even things that we want to state, sadly we do communicate these things whether we want to or not.
Maybe the whole "pledge card" or "promise ring" theory isn't paying off as well as we'd like. Actually lots of studies (christian and secular) have come out within the year that show that all these programs really do is delay the onset of sexual activities for the participants. I'll say it again in case you forgot. Studies over and over show that "christian" students are almost indistinguishable compared to other students. And I think we are only perpetuating this when they feel like they can't relate to other students in a normal way.
Those who do identify with the christian heritage are incapable of being able to share with the rest of the student population because they are supposed to "be a certain way" otherwise they are not seen as a good christian.
Let's do a case study:
Scenario 1: Student C (for christian) is talking with student R (regular non-christian) and student R confesses that they have recently become sexually explorative with their significant other. Student C also has actually had the same experience. But student C feels that they cannot share this experience with student R because student R knows that student C is a christian. 2 things happen here, both negative for student C. 1st student C now has missed an opportunity to relate to student R, even on basic friendship levels. Student C misses an opportunity to just process the situation with another person. 2nd Student C misses an opportunity to share a gospel message with student R. Using the personal experience of grace and the ability to admit a mistake could be an open door into student R's life that student C could have been a part of.
Well pick up scenario 2 after we further examine what it looks like for a new way of dealing with sex.
I think the idea of "it's ok to make mistakes" is a better way to talk about sex. Before you get all fussy and think I'm way off track, hear me out. (Though I know I will most definitely upset a number of people.)
I think if we took a poll of church members there would be a surprising number of people who have made "sexual mistakes". Pre-christian, post-christian, pre-marriage, in high school, in middle school, in college. First let's have the humility to admit our mistakes and recognize the grace that covers those mistakes. Should we have made those mistakes? Probably not. But we can't change the past. But that doesn't mean we should make others feel guilty because of their mistakes. Especially students. I'm NOT saying that we should go out and sexually experiment knowing that it's ok. This point needs to be hammered home. I admit my mistakes, no need to name them but I am willing to recognize them. This is the starting point.
While we want the best possible results for our students and we want to live lives that honor christ, we often fail and fail hard. But THAT'S OK. It really is. Really.
This is where we start with students. We start with the message of hope and redemption. We don't start with the consequences and pain that comes with failure. I am not denying that with failure comes consequences and pain. To yourself, to God and to your future mate. These are realities. But sex is not bad. And with a "no sex" message, sex becomes something to be seen as an enemy instead of a gift. We need to start to help students realize that they probably will make mistakes, we hope they won't, but they probably will. And if for some reason they do make the mistakes, which we hope they will try and avoid, that the more important thing is that with the hope and grace of christ they can start over and be redeemed. Shame and guilt and regret shouldn't be tools used to scare teens or make them feel bad about mistakes.
I want to communicate to students that the hope and goal is to remain chaste, pure and holy. To reserve sex for marriage and marriage alone. But I want to do this in a manner that allows students to be comfortable with their story. The story that includes (for many of them) sexual mistakes. I would even go out on a limb that many of the adults in our congregations are still not ready to be comfortable with their whole story, sexually mistakes and all. While they have confided them in their spouse, I would venture to say that they don't readily offer them to others, out of fear and shame and regret. All things we are trying to avoid.
When we convey a message that IF we make mistakes we can be alright about them. That mistakes should not ruin our ability to have a life in christ and a life with other believers and I think it conveys our willingness to relate to other people who maybe don't share the same stance on sex.
Back to our scenario.
Scenario 2: Student C and student R are in a conversation where student R shares that they have started to sexually experiment with their significant other. Student C also is in the same situation. Now we see the possibilities for a few things to happen. Student C now has a place to share their emotions and feelings. Student C can now openly share that they have been going through the same thing. Student C will hopefully be willing to share that their belief says that this probably wasn't the best thing to do, but instead of the perception that sex is bad and that they should feel bad about the situation, student C now begins to share how the experience has helped shape their understanding of how certain actions lead to not desirable results. Student R will hopefully realize a few things, mainly that as a christian, student C is a real person and willing to admit to mistakes instead of having to keep a certain "pure" image. This situation will also hopefully offer an opportunity to talk about redemption and grace. That even in a situation of regret over things done (sexually) that the regret is not something that should be a hindrance to the rest of your life.
For when we begin to talk about regrets (sexual and others) we often feel oppressed because of them. We often have a hard time moving on from them. Even when scripture talks heavily about leaving our old lives behind and moving on to a full life. And we as christans need to develop better theology when it comes to regrets. We need to watch what our messages say to those who have gone through what we are trying to avoid.
Scenario 3: A student who has had sex shows up and hears a message saying that sex before marriage is wrong and to live a good christian life we should not have sex. That student is automatically disenfranchised because they internalize the message that they are not a good christian. And may even think about dropping their faith.
Scenario 4: A woman shows up to church and hears a message that life is valuable and abortion is wrong. Problem is that she's had an abortion, has seen herself as redeemed and is wanting to follow christ with all her heart. She stands at coffee hour and hears others saying things like "I could never be friends with someone who had an abortion." or "A woman who has had an abortion cannot be a christian." Our subject is now feeling like crap.
I think these scenarios show how our good intentions and actually good messages, when not really thought through can in fact alienate people who shouldn't be alienated.
I don't think it sends a good message to people or students on many issues including sex, where people need to realize that they are loved and mistakes are just that - mistakes.
The final message is that when talking about sex with students we need to carefully examine what our message says and doesn't say. We need to assume that when we talk about how not to do something, we must assume that there are people in the audience that have done that thing. And we must be willing to say to those people that "it's ok to make mistakes", but the goal is to have the least amount of mistakes.
New Ghetto Blog
Here it goes. News about Andrew, that you probably already knew.
I can't just do one thing.
I mean I need to have multiple stimuli. Like right now I'm typing on the computer, listening to music and have AIM open. In my younger days I used to be watching tv, talking on the phone, eating and doing homework all at the same time and pretty much be able to focus on everything at once (in my younger days means like jr/sr high school).
I don't think I have A.D.D.. I mean I can concentrate on things. I can sit down and write an entire blog post and not have to stop like 12 times because I got distracted. But I pretty much need something else going on at least in the background. And I think what I'm talking about here is far more that just having nice music on. I do things like read a book while I'm watching tv, I usually have my computer in reach no matter where I am in the house (thank goodness I have a laptop), I will listen to someone talk and then think through an entirely different thing and be able to relate both things back to you.
Basically most of the time my mind is racing a million miles an hour. Especially late at night, that's when my best thinking occurs, though I can never fully process anything since too much is usually going though my head and I can't simplify down to a few things. Driving is probably my favorite time to think. I do a lot of thinking in my car. I do a lot of work (thank goodness work is thinking) in my car. But even there I really am doing like 3 things at once. I am thinking through issues, driving and usually have the radio/cd player going and maybe a cell phone too, not to mention that my car is manual (which I love).
Is this perpetual activity just my need to always be stimulated or an actual blessing of being able to process a lot at the same time?
Is it a generation thing, where my generation is just capable of handling more information at once (I could site many articles and studies about teens and over-saturation) or is it just the times we live in and the necessity to be able to do more than one thing at once?
We live in such a fast world. We often think that if we do not keep up then we will drown. We have computer classes for the elderly so they don't have to use snail mail anymore and they can start using email. We give children as young and 3 or 4 computers so they can get a jump on learning and being tech savvy. We have self-checkouts and drive through coffee. And we even have video iPods...ummm...video iPods...< whack > (comes back to post). And it's only going to get faster.
But what is our response? What's God's response?
Do we try and keep up? Or do we rebel and simplify?
I was just reading one of my favorite blogs (go here) and Lilly was relating about how much she's been doing lately. And at first it just seems like life, but I have to stop and question whether or not we have doomed ourselves (I'm speaking generally not putting Lilly down, you're just a fantastic example in more ways than I can count) into such a lifestyle.
A lifestyle that thrives and feeds on the overwork of our lives. Thrives on lives that have become required to do 12 things at once.
In my quest to become quieter and lead people to a quieter life, I have found many obstacles. Just this these last few months in working with the middle schoolers, it has become painfully clear how we have almost lost the ability to sit still and totally relax or be quiet. I can't tell you how hard it's been for me to get my middle schoolers to sit and just enjoy a conversation about being productive and why the world asks us to be so busy. Just a simple conversation is so hard. They are not being stimulated enough and must find other ways to entertain themselves. My hope is that once we realize that we are incredibly busy (which they haven't yet) then we can finally sit down and start to re-learn the Godly art of doing nothing.
Doing nothing...wouldn't that be nice.
One of my favorite movies puts it this way...
-What would you do if you had a million dollars?
-I'd relax, I would sit on my ass all day, I would do nothing.
-Well you don't need a million dollars to do nothing, man. Just take a look at my cousin, he's broke, don't do shit.
While this isn't exactly what God wants of us. I can see it being pretty close.
Sitting all day...focused on him.
Why do I have to be productive? Why do I have to be something? Can't I just sit and be enamored with God? Isn't that enough? Why even as a minister I am told that sitting reading, praying and sitting really can't be considered part of my official job description?
As Andrew Jones puts it "blog less, live more".
Maybe we should "do less, god more".
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
I broke the cardinal rule for entering Ikea.
Well there are a few cardinal rules.
1 You shouldn't buy anything you don't really need or planned on buying (see #3)
2 You must hand your wallet/purse to the person you are going with (see #4)
3 You must create a list of items you are going to buy and let your shopping partner (see #4) know before entering the store
4 Always go with a partner (for reasons #2 & #3)
5 If you see it and then want to buy it, you shouldn't - just say no to impulses
I went not wanting anything or ABSOLUTELY needing anything
I left with
2 8-blottle wine racks 2.99 ea
1 bathmat 1.99
6 small glasses 2.49
Monday, November 07, 2005
Today I got a surprise package in the mail.
I totally wasn't expecting anything and hadn't ordered anything so it was weird to see this package with a return address I didn't recognize.
I opened it and inside was a copy of Doug Pagitt's new book (co-authored by Kathryn Prill) Body Prayer (book's blog here).
I was stoked to get this since Doug had offered free promo copies to readers of his blog and I responded quite late so I wasn't sure I was going to get a copy. So THANKS!!!
I'll get around to a more formal review in a few weeks, since the format of the book is to actually participate in prayer not just read about prayer. So it may just come out over time as I experience many of the things expressed in the book. Otherwise I'd already suggest picking it up. It can't hurt to pray more, right?
The Nooma premiere is happening tonight for numbers 12 & 13.
I'm totally excited and really looking forward to hearing Rob speak.
I'll post more later after the event.
PS number 11 Rhythm is now available.
I'm back from the screening. I won't give much away in case you're going to one of the other two screenings.
I will say they live up to the previous level that you have come to expect from Rob and the people at Flannel. The two films #12 called Matthew deals in a very raw manner the subject of loss, and #13 called Rich deals with Jesus' call for us to be generous. (12 comes out in Feb 06 and 13 comes out spring 06)
As always Rob is able to articulate things far better than most people and I think that's what gives him so much influence as a leader and as a man of God.
I am really excited to see what the public release of "rich" does, especially since I've been thinking through many of these issues here on this blog (sorry I'm too tired to look them up for you). But it probably won't be released until next spring.
Otherwise it was a great night with some great people.
For a long time I've signed my letters and emails with the phrase "In Him" much credit to Jono Shaffer who I basically stole it from and I don't think I ever thanked. So here's to you friend.
For a while now I've been thinking that I need a change. While there is really nothing wrong with the phrase In Him, I have come more to the realization that I need something that more aptly states my current progress as a follower of God and of Christ.
My new signature line will be:
chasing christI think this really sums up the fact that for the rest of my life this is what I will be doing. Not only in something to attain, but it also talks about how I honestly always fall short and am catching up to him.
This also is probably going to make it unto my business cards (whenever that is I get around to getting some), which for I've been playing around with for a while. A few things I had been playing with to go under my name instead of something like "director of youth ministries" or "youth director" had been things like "christ failure" or "fallen yet redeemed" and a number of other things. For now I think I will stick with chasing christ. Let me know what you think, what it conveys, etc.
Sunday, November 06, 2005
Am I a failure?
Is my ministry relevant to student's lives?
Should I be fired?
Why are they paying me?
All these are good questions that one may ask themselves when no one shows up to High School group. I'm sure these questions would be asked if an elder or the pastor showed up tonight to see me; feet propped up on a music stand, eating Carl's Jr, reading and listening to U2's Best of 1980-1990 with no students in the room 1/2 an hour after group was supposed to have started.
But they are not questions I will allow to dwell in my head. I will not measure my worth as a minister based on who did or didn't show up to a meeting. Granted I've only been having 2-5 High School students a week, it still shouldn't be a measure of the work I'm doing. I'm glad I don't measure success.
At least the time has afforded me an opportunity to sit here and blog from the church computer. (Sorry for my unannounced hobo-blogger ness over the last week, I have been thinking A LOT and will get to some good stuff soon.)
Though I think this situation re-enforces the need for youth ministry and "adult" ministry to start to think really hard about why people don't show up to our "well planned and thought out" events and services. Most of this comes since I'm re-reading Pete Ward's book Liquid Church. The time has come for us to start to embrace that "church" isn't the place that students (and adults) want to be. So what does that mean for us? It means we need to put on our little sociological thinking caps and start to figure out how to get Jesus to those who don't show up to church. It also require us to put on our "why and how we do church" thinking caps and be open to the fact that church MUST be open to change. And the longer we wait the bigger the change is going to be.
The church that I'm at now celebrated it's 50th year anniversary last year (I wasn't here yet), which is a momentous milestone for almost anything.
The question I have is, more or less about how this church functions. Are they more or less still "doing church" the same way they did church when it first started? Yes, different pastors have come through, and more buildings have been added, but what is significantly different about the way church is being "done" now than it was 50 years ago. I think it is quite a shame that the newest building on the campus is hardly used for "church" purposes. The bottom half of it is rented out to a pre-school, so we use the 3 rooms only on Sunday morning for child care. The upper 3 rooms are used (as far as I know) about 3 evenings a week. Sunday is the exception. Otherwise I'm in one of the rooms on Tuesday night and then the hispanic congregation uses it on Friday nights. This doesn't make sense to me. Understand I'm not knocking the fact that good things happen in the rooms during the week like the AA and NA meetings and the 7th Day Adventists that meet there on Saturday. We might as well sell the building outright and rent from the other people if we only use about 1/8th of the time. The priorities are all upside down when I get told to be more respectful of the pre-school underneath me when I'm trying to conduct youth ministry in the space I've been given. (see here for other example of mixed up priorities)
Let's face the facts folks. Church is screwed up. This doesn't mean that I don't love the church or want to work to try and make it better. But before anything meaningful can happen we must reach the critical point of at least accepting the situation that we are in. The first step of a 12 step program is "We admitted we were powerless over our addiction - that our lives had become unmanageable". Let's just change it to "We admitted we have a huge problem with the way we do church - and it has become large enough to be considered unmanageable".
This is a good place to start, but until we can fully admit to ourselves that we aren't doing what we're supposed to be doing then nothing is going to change.
It's ok that no one showed up. What's not ok is not doing anything about it.
We are not failures, we just may need to work harder.
My youth ministry is not a failure, I spend time with students outside of "church" time. I am connected to their world, we share, we talk and we are trying to figure out what it means to live out our lives with Christ, in the place we live, instead of the place we go for 1-3 hours a week.
Yes it is God's house, but if God is always at work then maybe the house isn't the best place for face-to-face interaction.
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Being sick over the last few months has been quite an experience. Aside from the just not feeling well and being totally unable to do normal things, there was one really cool thing that sticks out from my time being sick.
It happened during my time at the National Youth Workers Convention (see posts 1 - 10 here).
You see I love to sing. I pretty much always have. I'm not an amazing singer but I can carry a tune. And I love to worship through song. Then to be with 4000 other youth workers all worshipping at the same time, while being led by David Crowder or Chris Tomlin, now that is quite an amazing experience.
Well that really wasn't the case for me. Since most of my sickness (unbeknownst to me at the time) revolved around pneumonia, it left me with a sore throat and not much lung capacity, which translated into me not being able to sing. Total bummer.
Through this experience of not being able to sing, I encountered an entirely surreal worship experience. The experience of standing and listening to 4000 youth workers sing their hearts out. Let's just say it moved me to tears on more than one occasion.
I can't really fully express the time in words. But to be in a crowd of people who for the most part are robbed of just being able to fully express themselves through worship with their peers, mostly because they are usually involved in leading worship, was a mystical experience.
The tenor and sweetness of words in the air was enough to melt the hardest of hearts. The myriad of denominations and beliefs left behind to unite in worship of a great God, was a truly the Kingdom of God here on Earth.
It wasn't because I had to focus on the words, it wasn't because I was unable to make audible sounds, it was because the song in my heart echoed what I couldn't hear when I was singing myself.
In the silence of my own voice I experienced the voice of God make audible through 4000 of my peers.
Next time you are in worship, stop, listen, sing with only your heart.