Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Final percolations from Phoenix and the Youth Specialties National Youth Workers Convention:

Mike Yaconelli, founder of Youth Specialties, pointed out some things at the closing session that we all nod at but rarely put into reality in our lives.

He spoke on the danger of leaving here and falling back into the same old routines. I guess in some ways, this conference is a "camp high" for youth pastors. We come here. We get more information than we can assimilate. We get a pollyanna view of everyone else's ministry and life. Then, we go back. Maybe implement a thing or two or add a game or neat illustration for our talks or whatever...but ultimately we fall back into our routines and comfort zones.

Some things I gleaned from that last 20 minutes:

Routines: They are an acceptance of the way things are. And they rob us of our creativity and uniqueness and innovative mindsets. They make us one dimensional...and they lead to the same old results (both in our lives and in our ministries).

Breaking routines: We don't need to work harder or necessarily smarter, but rather we need to ask God to change and renew our expectations of our end results (both in our lives and in our ministries).

As an example he talked about kindergarten children. Ask a child when they last drew a picture or danced or sang or kissed their parents or played with the dog, or if they want to do any of those things. They'll say they do those things pretty much every day. You get excitement and passion and creativity and belief that they can do it and then they do it. Sure the results can be surprises and sometimes lead to disappointment or danger or suffering, but they are not routine.

Then he said to think about the results you would get if you asked those same questions to college kids...or your parents...or your grandparents...

Think about the explanations you'd get for why they won't or haven't done those things.

Think about the reasons we'd give for not doing those things.

Routines...one dimensional...same results...

And then I saw "Under the Tuscan Sun." Kinda the same message. What is God trying to tell me...

Monday, September 29, 2003

Still bouncing around Phoenix at the YSNYWC making observations:

Went to an insightful seminar today led by youth ministry guru Doug Fields' wife, Cathy. The topic was the unique and practical needs youth pastor wives have being married to strangely-wired husbands. To start the seminar she said, "Now that I've done this seminar a few times, I'm realizing that the people that would come to a seminar on how to serve their wives better are not the kind of people who need to come to a seminar on how to serve their wives better." So, she taught from that as her starting point, which made it time well-spent.

Cool moment of the day for me: For a mosaic of reasons, I admire the band Lost and Found. Our church hosted them once and I developed a working relationship with them since I was the contact person. Anyway, Tracy and I were walking back from the Hard Rock Cafe as the band was heading in that direction. As we pass on the sidewalk, Michael, the lead singer (on his cell phone) made eye contact with me, moved his phone away from his mouth and says, "Oh, 'hi' Brent!" I felt like a high-school freshman who'd just gotten a 'hello' from the cool senior. I have no idea why this excited me as much as it did.

Great quote from an Arizona Republic interview with actor Jack Black. When asked if he knew what he'd be doing in five years, he said this: "No, I don't know. Hopefully, I'll be doing some cool work with some cool people. That's all you can hope for in this business." Frankly, that's all you can hope for in any business.

The highlight of the day was unquestionably a special "late night" show featuring Lost and Found and improv comedy troupe
C.P.R. Here's a few reasons why:

After meeting someone from Indiana, Lost and Found noted that it was the Hoosier state. Michael then mimicked a rapper saying, "Hooz yer state?" He also said the university of Indiana should give bumper stickers to fathers that read, "Hooz yer Daddy."

The also mentioned that, for a nominal fee, you can register any business name you wanted to. So, they decided it would be good to name their business "The Christian Music Industry." Now all their promotional information can say things like "Lost and Found owns The Christian Music Industry" and they wouldn't be lying. They also wrote a song about Lutherans (similar to Adam Sandler's Hannukah Song) in which they mention everyone from "Ace Frehley from Kiss" to "Stormin' Norman Schwartzkoff" and another one about their stay at the Hyatt Hotel and five dollar phone calls.

C.P.R. gave me a headache from laughing so much. Since it's improvisational, not much will translate here, but I love the fact that they keep their comedy clean because, in Red Skelton's words, "The Bible says that laughter is like medicine and if you get in the gutter you are poisoning what's supposed to help you." They also invented this game called "Rug Ball" (which I purchased for my interns) because of all their time in airports.

The only downer is that my digital camera battery died before I could get any pictures...

Sunday, September 28, 2003

Observations from today still in and around the Youth Specialties Youthworker Convention in Phoenix:

Sedona is a better place to see the beauty of creation and truly experience God than a convention hall. Sedona makes me go (in the words of Louis Giglio, tonight's speaker), "WHOA!" Conference halls and seminars make me go, "Hmmmm." We all need more "WHOA" in our lives.

If you sit in a convertible long enough it is possible to get sunburned on only one arm and half your face.

My wife looks great these days. She's always been long on the qualities that last...but, at present, the words in Proverbs about beauty fading seem distant when applied to her. We should take more trips alone. We got off to such a poor start (couldn't afford a honeymoon) and then life happened and now it's habit to neglect is time with just us.

The Rock and Roll Worship Circus is a highly underrated band in Christian circles, both musically and spiritually. It's annoying to watch youth workers walk out when a band no one has ever heard of shows up after the speaker. Third Day was in The R&RWC's place about 8 years ago and now YP's will stay after that night's session ends to buy their shirts and trinkets. I'm amused to no end about how open-minded we're supposed to be but if the music don't fit our box, we're out.

Speaking of worship, I'm a layman...but I can tell when a band is doing a concert instead of leading worship. I don't know where that line is, but I definitely know when it's been crossed.

Well, all for now. Suffice to say that tomorrow will hold stories of Lost and Found and CPR. I absolutely cannot wait.

Saturday, September 27, 2003

Snippets from the Youth Specialties Youthworker Convention, Phoenix:

In the main hallway entering the convention, a bedsheet, upon which the following was written: "Happy 16th Anniversary. I love you so much and you are still such a hottie. P.S. Honey, we owe the hotel for one bedsheet."

I saw worship led by Andy Hunter, a guy who is all the rage in the U.K. It was techno/trance (all CBC 2K and 2K3 Team Holland members would know precisely what I'm talking about) and proved to me that even generally open-minded youth pastors still have comfort zones when it comes to worship styles. It fell flat with the crowd.

Joseph Stowell was excellent in his address about how to tell a culture that doesn't want to hear about Jesus about Jesus. He compared "postmodern" to the 1st century and how the church witnessed then. Pretty much talked about being salt & light, and how both then and now, works of love, compassion and grace will allow you a platform to be heard even though no one wants to listen. Sounds like he and my senior pastor Tim Stevenson are listening to the same Holy Spirit these days. Hmmmmm.

I skipped the last half of the concert by Third Day to see the Bank One Ballpark. I snuck in, which was more difficult than I had anticipated, but persistence payed off! I saw the last half inning...including a home run and a strikeout to save the game for the Diamondbacks.

I went to one surprisingly good seminar which talked about the "Normals" of student ministry. I have some interesting thoughts jotted down for elders and interns alike...sorry...not for public posting. Standout observation from the seminar: Our church has a "climate" that allows our student ministry the freedom to succeed. That is a blessing I often take for granted.

Sometimes eating a dinner you can't really afford is worth it when you're with the right girl.

That saying about it being a "dry heat" in Arizona is somewhat true.

Highly provocative statement: "Changing the world looks a whole lot like drudgery. We're really very ordinary people doing very ordinary things. It's hard to be holy in the mean streets of student ministry."--Mark DeVries

Well, more as events unfold...

Friday, September 26, 2003

Many of you know my affinity for the movie Raising Arizona (note the headline under the blog title as it is derived from a line from that movie) and at the moment I am actually in Maricopa County...you know...home of the correctional facility where H.I. was incarcerated and met his bride-to-be Edwina taking mug shots and fingerprinting the convicts. Our airplane flew over Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe where Nathan, Jr. was encouraged to go to college and was running back kick-offs in the ending dream sequence. Every road looks like it could be the one where the Lone Biker of the Apocolypse was especially hard on the little things...if I could only ride with Bill Parker, that motherscratcher, down five-mile...

...but I digress...

I'm actually in Phoenix for the 2003 National Youth Worker's Convention which kicks off today at 1 in the PM and we're going over there to kick us some butts. Tracy and I have already driven by convenience stores that aren't on the way home..."Now, ya'll who is without sin, cast the first stone..."

If you don't catch these lines, rent the movie tonight...

Thursday, September 25, 2003

I got a flyer in my mailbox at work for Hell House 13. For the uninitiated, "HellHouse is a radical alternative to a haunted house, presenting the truth in a manner that appeals to (teenagers) long after they go through. Our desire is for your youth to catch a "glimpse of eternity" and realize that there is more to this life."--from their website.

How this actually plays out: You pay your money, and then go through the house, which has drama rooms depicting raves, abortions, car wrecks, etc. What happens is that someone in the skit will die, and then one will go to heaven and one to hell, and then the patrons see the eternal results acted out by teenagers in the church youth group.

Obviously, there are a myriad of reasons this would be controversial. But what I'm wondering about is a balance of "means" and "ends."

I mean, what if, when eternity plays out and I'm in The Kingdom and this guys says, "Yeah, the reason I'm here is because I went to Hell House 13 and thought about eternity for the first time and accepted Christ." I'm sure if we called the church after it was over they'd tell us how many people made a "profession of faith."

Unfortunately, there's no one we can call to see how many people are alienated from Christ by this harsh approach. Of course, most non-Christians don't even know this exists (which raises the question of who the target audience truly is) and will simply go about their lives alienated from Christ anyway.

I guess I just don't think that the hope of a few "ends" justifies the emotionally manipulative "means" in this case, and much of the time, energy and effort expended ultimately results in even more reasons we're not taken seriously when we talk about being salt and light.

Maybe it's my anti-programming/pro-relational approach to the Gospel message, but, in this case, WWJD?

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

I was watching one of those great "escape" shows on VH1 the other night...best album covers of all-time. Of course, this was back before stealing...I mean...file sharing...and small CD cases.

Frankly, any list that would put anything Snoop Dogg did in front of The Sex Pistols' "Never Mind The Bollocks" amazing cover is suspect to begin with...although it was nice to see the Ramones and the Clash get props.

Anyway, here's the list and which ones would you absolutely add? Take off? Frankly, I don't think you can argue with the top 4 choices. The debate begins at number 5.

One I would add: The Beatles Sgt. Pepper and The Lonely Hearts Club Band didn't make the top 50?

One I would take off: AC/DC's Back in Black. I mean, it's black.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

"I'm an artist who is a Christian. I'm not a Christian artist." Johnny Cash (see the entire Time Magazine final interview)

Did you catch the September 23 comic "Non Sequitur"?

The current "public relations" of the tribe known as Christians is pretty much a disaster. And, frankly, (in the USA) it has little to do with persecution for our beliefs. We've brought this on ourselves with all sorts of behavior that doesn't jibe with the finished work of Christ in our lives.

As Paul told Timothy, the goal of instruction is LOVE...both for God and for others. This is what will keep even our own people from distancing from the Tribe...and draw others to the reality that Christ won't turn you into a homogenized, anesthetized drone.

Love. Salt of the earth. Light of the world. Walking worthy of the call. The abundant life. When the "world" plays word association with the adjective "Christian," aren't these the characteristics that should come to their minds?

We should be embarrassed when our own family distances from us. It should make us introspective when the "world" makes fun of us and there's inarguable truth to it. So, let's help the "world" out today, kids, and let them see an authentic reality of what it means to follow Christ.

Monday, September 22, 2003

I was going to go on a rant about the self-importance and megahype that film or television awards shows convey to the average Joe, but decided against it.

I mean, I can't have my quaint little blogging community thinking that I've got a "case of the Mondays." Because then you'd all have to kick my butt and I'd have to find 16 pieces of flair which would lead to more whining about a red Swingerline stapler...

Even though I really do have a case of the Mondays...

Sunday, September 21, 2003

Sure. Some kids don't make the team. Or get the job. Or get the girl/boy. Or make the grade. Or win the game. Or get the part.

It's a reality in life...and usually your child will get some of those "character building" lessons that need to be learned.

But knowing that doesn't make it any easier on you when your child is disappointed.

Saturday, September 20, 2003

I heard this line in a movie: "Sometimes, you don't find the book. Sometimes, the book finds you."

Well, the local library has too many books. They're selling the hardbacks for a dollar. There is no entry fee, although last night the locals could pay five bucks and get an early entry...but today, it's the rest of the cheapskates like me.

I have to be there in 45 minutes (like garage sales, the earlier the better). I couldn't be more excited about this.

I hope some really good books find me.

Friday, September 19, 2003

Spike Lee was speaking to university students. He was being the "worst-case scenario of the 1st Amendment" Spike Lee, which is generally a good thing. I like rabble-rousers and like to think I rouse some rabbble on occasion...and have been the rabble that has been roused as well.

Anyway, he was quoted as saying, "We as a people are more concerned with J. Lo and Ben Affleck than those so-called weapons of mass destruction." In effect, he was saying that Americans need to be "deeper," that we are into too much "fluff."

Alright. I'm with you in general terms, Spike. I've been on a Dostoevsky kick. Low-budget/high-concept movies like Bowling for Columbine are on my must-see list. I truly appreciate Mississippi Delta blues and most jazz. I'm into politics as they relate to the original intent of the Constitution. I like a good game of chess now and again.

But, Spike, I gotta keep the Stephen King books. "Raising Arizona" will stay proudly in my DVD library. I'm gonna watch Simpsons reruns (at least) one of four times daily. If you think I'm not keeping The Ramones and The Talking Heads box-sets you've lost your mind (I never cultivated that taste for classical music despite several attempts, either). And, Spike, are those Knicks tickets "fluff?" Because the current events of college/pro football, hockey, and baseball are on my "keep" list, too. I dig a good game of Uno Attack, too.

Hmmm. It's tough wondering where you fit in Spike Lee's America...

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Okay, so my day started out well and then, even at this early hour, train wrecked...I'm glad my thoughts went this way:

"Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we're a free people--free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in the deepest heaven, everything on planet earth." (Ephesians 1: 7-13, from The Message)

I'm really glad today that what is seen is temporary and what is unseen is eternal. I'm really glad that I'm free and that God has a plan, even when I have no idea what it is.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

It started out innocently enough. Just a group of teenagers in Texas hanging out at their school to pray. They chose the flagpole as the meeting place in 1990.

This morning, all over the world, teenagers will gather for See You At The Pole and pray together.

Say what you want about the commercialization of the movement (complete with sales for lanyards and wristbands) or you can debate on whether or not it's truly "student-led" (yes, they have organizational packets with "strategies" available to pastors), but...

It may not be newsworthy (although 5 hard-hatted dignitaries putting shovels in dirt can be) but there's definitely something nice about 2.5 million teenagers in 20 countries gathering together to pray.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

I usually go ahead and give these things the old college try and I think they're pretty funny...So, here's the Starbucks Personality Oracle which will pretty much tell you who you are. Just don't type in Grand Caramel Machiatto. Ouch.
This morning I went to a breakfast in which author Philip Yancey was the speaker. I was expecting a very large crowd of around 200 or so, and only 50 showed up...I love it when things like that happen. It allowed the publishers to give us the extra books (sweet for me!) and gave the author more time to autograph the free books for friends (sweet for my friends!).

In addition to hearing the author's passion for the topic of his new book Rumors of Another World, there was also a Q&A session afterward.

Yancey was asked about what he had learned from his negative experiences in the church of his youth (of which he has written extensively), and part of his response piqued my interest: "My generation grew up in a Galatian church, and the youth of this generation are growing up in a Corinthian church."

Now, that was an introductory statement to the answer he was about to give, but I think he's on to something there. See, a Galatian church is one that struggles with rules and regulations to define spirituality and a Corinthian church is one that struggles with the impact of the culture on spirituality.

I think his observation is dead-on. The question of the day is what are we going to do about it?

Monday, September 15, 2003

If you missed the Conan O'Brian 10th Anniversary show last night on NBC, you missed one of the funniest hours-and-a-half of television in quite some time.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Working with teenagers, I can't pass up a headline like "If your teen won't talk to you, there is this movie..." and I found some provocative quotes, from Clarence Page (Chicago Tribune) in an article about the controversial movie "Thirteen."

"When your own teen won't tell you what is on his or her mind, you can look for clues wherever you can."

"Movie message alert: The root cause of teens-from-hell is parents-from-hell." (I didn't say I agreed with all this provocation...I mean, the root cause of teen behavior is selfishness)

"If kids want anything from their parents, it is to be heard, even at those times when they don't seem to want to talk to you."

Good stuff, eh? I'm kinda wanting to see the movie now, even though the same article says, "...if you are the kind of parent who takes your teen kid to see a movie like Thirteen, you aren't the kind of person who needs to see it." Besides, I usually love low-budget, high concept movies...

Saturday, September 13, 2003

Proof that the Christian community is alienated (and alienating) the world at-large, #4,569:

A quote from today's Dallas Morning News Religion section (you may have to submit a login to get to it): "Stanley Grenz, a Baptist theologian and professor at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia, said even fundamentalists should embrace the new evangelism because it's more in keeping with biblical teachings, not because it's a new technique for success.
"It represents a deepening of the theological understanding of what it means to be an evangelical people," he said. "It means people are so keen to follow Jesus that it permeates all their relationships and that God comes to be glorified in all their relationships."

The very reality of the fact that even a mainstream newspaper in a milquetoast religion section talks about how the world has become wise to our awful "techniques" in telling the world about Christ should remind us all that it's about winning souls through love and truth. Not through techniques or debates.

As a tribe, we've GOT to get our acts together...

Friday, September 12, 2003

Just thinking today about little things I'd really like...

I'd really like for my wife's knees to buckle every time we kiss. I'd really like it if my office window opened on days like today in Dallas (drizzly and cool). I'd really like a tatoo of "Woody Woodpecker" a la H.I. McDonough and The Lone Biker of the Apocolypse in Raising Arizona (althought a red Swingerline stapler tattoo would be pretty good, too). I'd really like to see the Blue Man Group when the come to our area on November. I'd really like for my little blogging community to get together for dinner at my house during the Thanksgiving holiday when all of them will be in town. I'd really like a complete set of Nirvana's music on CD (I got into them when cassettes were big). I'd really like it if my county voted to approve a tax to get public transportation started in our area. I'd really like it if Christians distanced themselves from words like "American," "First-class," "winner," and "Republican." I'd really like it if Kelsey could experience the feeling of a clutch hit to win the game for her team. I'd really like it if Shelby got to be Clara in The Nutcracker. I'd really like it if Buford--the greatest of all dogs, ever--could age more gracefully than she is. I'd really like it if Lloyd--the apprentice--could be half the dog Buford is. I'd really like to be more like Jeremiah (the prophet, not the bullfrog). I'd really like to teach a seminar at the Youth Specialties youth ministry conference (you'd think after 15 years of this I'd have something to say). I'd really like to be as cool/smart/funny/gifted as my sister. I'd really like to write a song as good as "I Was Wrong" by Social Distortion or "Charmed Life" by their lead singer Mike Ness...

Now that I think about it...I really would like to get back to work on the Bible study I've been putting off...

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Things I wish I didn't know so much about: Al-Queda. 2,792. Office of Homeland Security. Ground Zero. South Tower, North Tower. Osama bin Laden. Global War on Terrorism. Dirty bombs. Suitcase nukes. Mohammed Atta. Terror Alert levels & colors. "Let's roll." 8:46, 9:37, 10:06 AM. Nine-eleven.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

My youngest daughter has a school math project in which she's supposed to find a way to spend a million dollars. There are rules, too. Only one house and two cars (and you can give only $10,000 to charity or the bank, hmmmm)...things like that. She's been "buying" everything from exotic monkeys to airplanes to hot tubs.

But get this: The assigment sheet, handed out to the entire class, actually has a logo from the sponsoring company. The Texas Lottery! Across the bottom of the sheet it says something to the effect of "dreams coming true."

There's something that rubs me the wrong way about this. Somehow, this is different than some soda company donating $25,000 for a playground for a couple of year's exclusive rights to have their machines around campus.

Part of me wants to talk to the teacher/administration, whatever. But then I know I'll be met with "You know those 15 Pentium 4's in the computer lab? You better get happy with the math assignment, Daddy-O. Poor public funding and tax cuts and (insert popular education political slogan here) cause us to have to go this route."

It's just an assignment, I suppose. Designed to show 4th graders "how much a million dollars really is." Couldn't the assignment be more realistic? Like, if you spend $10 per week on Lotto tickets over the course of 20 years, how much could you have in the bank at 5% interest compounded quarterly? Or, how many hundreds of thousands of people are out there against how many win a million dollars...

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

87 Billion and 7 Trillion. You're kidding...aren't you, Mr. President?

Monday, September 08, 2003

The answer may lie in something my daughter told me on Saturday during a failing artistic endeavor (I tried to PAINT for cryin' out loud): "Dad, you've just gotta get out of your left brain and into your right brain." My tax dollars are paying for her education, so I guess it's only fair that I benefit directly from the stuff her art teacher is spouting.

The question is really one of the nature of my human nature. I'm wondering why I actively and passively resist what I KNOW God is trying to do through my life ("in" my life is another matter altogether). I'm not ready to put those things out there for my quaint little bloggin' community to read, but I have a couple of ideas that I think would truly benefit the Kingdom of God and give Him glory on a larger scale than my own church ministry (which, frankly, would enhance what's already a pretty darn good scale)...they'll take a long time to get them accomplished and yada yada yada and it will involve some minor tweaks in work habits and blah blah blah...but my concern is that I'm almost paralyzed by the very idea of putting concrete action to get them started.

Apparently my left brain is kickin' my right brain's butt...

I wonder if my kid's art teacher has any advice for that.

Sunday, September 07, 2003

"The strongest heart is a flexible heart." Carolyn Hax

I'm not sure exactly why, but I really like that quote. It seems to encapsulate the idea that love is a mental choice, of which emotions follow. It's unfortunate that the masses see love as an emotion...and all sorts of unrealistic expectations get heaped on that perception.

Saturday, September 06, 2003

One of my favorite Saturday morning rituals is to get up early, get chocolate doughnuts with sprinkles, a bag of doughnut holes, some "pigs in a blanket," and chocolate milk...and then bring them home for when my daughters wake up. Is there a better way to start a Saturday if you're a kid? Or a dad?

Friday, September 05, 2003

I love it when "supply and demand" goes into action. Did anyone else get excited about the move the Universal Music Group made yesterday to slash wholesale prices for CD's in order to compete against the downloading (theft...and just because the piracy has been labeled "file sharing" doesn't make it right) of music? Artists should get paid for their work, and this helps everybody out.

Plus, there's a generation coming up who doesn't know how cool album art and liner notes are. I see no losers in this, except megachains who've been ripping us off anyway...

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Feeling political today...I'm intrigued by the candidacy of John Kerry for president. He seems to be committed to the idea that our current foreign policy is too costly and ineffective to remain viable. He's also into the idea of eliminating our dependence on oil through advancement of other technologies. On the other hand, he could simply be a political blowhard. It's early, but I'm doing my research!

Also feeling ACTIVELY political today. I'm going to vote early in a local referendum. The main issue is the idea of establising a Denton County Transit Authority tasked with tax hikes to develop (in conjunction with a much larger goings on in the DFW municipalities) a public transportation system that works. I doubt seriously that my side will win in light of all the anti-DCTA signs around town, but I'll go be a part of the democratic process.

Sometimes I wonder how I get so far afield from my fellow man.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

I really do remember it like it was yesterday.

Nothing wakes you up faster than your wife telling you that her water has broken and contractions are 7 minutes apart and you realize that (despite all the childbirth classes telling you NEVER to go to bed without at least a quarter-tank of gasoline in the vehicle) you needed to get gas while waiting on the doctor to call back. Getting the newspaper out of the bin and folding it carefully, knowing that you'd save it (but not knowing where it would actually BE 12 years later, but it's "around here somewhere"). Then an almost 18 hour labor and delivery in which my wife was in much better shape than I was throughout.

One of the most amazing nights of my life was September 3, 1991. I was holding and rocking a bundled baby girl with a strangely shaped head and having a 3 hour conversation with her while Tracy slept.

My world changed for the better. Happy 12th Birthday, Kelsey! My life is more abundant because you are in it.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

I was reading in Time Magazine's special section about middle school teenagers (partly professional reasons, partly paternal ones) and there was this quote: "I once heard a social scientist say that at age 50, anyone could look at their middle school yearbook and still rank the people in it in order of popularity. That hasn't changed. Girls especially can be incredibly mean to each other in middle school."

Since I have daughters, I'd really dig some insight as to why girls "especially" are mean to each other and what advice I could give to mine on how to handle it when (if?) this happens. Or is it something girls have to fight on their own?

Monday, September 01, 2003

The Labor Day holiday was started by two blue-collar guys in New York City. Seems a carpenter and a typesetter in the 1800's were upset by the fact that the government wouldn't promote legislation to limit tradesmen to a 40-hour work week in addition to tightening up immigration laws, thereby protecting their jobs. So, they took to the streets in protest on the principle that if you don't get enough rest you'll be an unproductive worker. I'd like to think that they also wanted to have more abundant lives.

My friends in Europe have laws that require their employers to limit their work schedules to 37.5 hours per week or less...and their "perks" include a healthy number of vacation days. A good editorial cartoon highlights the American attitude towards rest.

I'm wondering why we feel this way about rest. And I'm wondering what steps we'd have to take to get back to this mindset that rest is good. And I'm thinking it would actually help our economy to have 6 people instead of 4 working 240 man-hours. And isn't it interesting that the one thing God actually spends a great deal of the Old Testament (and New, for that matter) promising the Israelites...you got it...REST?!

I believe that rest is part of an abundant life (American dream?)...thanks, Matt McGuire and William McCabe for reminding us of that.