Wishing you a Merry Christmas!
Brian and Jacob
“We found that teenagers quite rationally weigh benefits and risks,” Dr. Reyna said in a recent interview. “But when they do that, the equation delivers the message to go ahead and do that, because to the teen the benefits outweigh the risks.”
For example, while an adolescent might consider playing Russian roulette for a $1 million payoff, a normal adult would not give it a moment’s thought. Cutting directly to the chase, the adult would be more inclined to think: “No way! No amount of money is worth a one in six chance of dying.”
...I think the "teens are too rational" theory contradicts recent findings about the teenage brain. The problem for teens is that the rational circuits of the frontal cortex are actually the last to develop. (The development of the brain recapitulates its evolution, so that, in general, the brain areas that were last to evolve are the also the last to develop.) While the have fully functional emotional brains, adolescents often lack the mental muscles to hold these emotions in check. A 2006 fMRI study by neuroscientists at Cornell, for example, demonstrated that the nucleus accumbens, a brain area associated with the processing of rewards (like sex, drugs and rock n' roll), was significantly more active and mature than the prefrontal cortex, which helps us resist such temptations. In other words, teens have reckless sex and drink too much and drive dangerously because their rational brain is at a literal disadvantage. It can't argue back against their impulses.
A new documentary from Morgan Spurlock, the guy who brought us "Super Size Me." Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping Gospel Choir on a cross-country mission to save Christmas from the Shopocalypse (the end of humankind from consumerism, over-consumption and the fires of eternal debt).
Be safer than you have to be: As good as professionals are, don’t be complacent about safety. Go above and beyond when you can. Once we hired an inflatable climbing mountain for an event. Students climbed to the top of a pyramid shaped “mountain” and then slid back down. It looked safe, and they were harnessed in, but halfway through the event a freshman thought it would be fun to jump from the top onto the inflatable mat below. His harness ripped out, he did a free-fall onto the mat, and the impact shot him back into the air. He landed on his head, without a helmet, on a concrete floor. He instantly went into a grand mal seizure, and by the time I arrived he’d been seizing for nearly two minutes. We dialed 911, and when the seizure finally stopped, he looked straight up into my eyes and was unable to move any part of his body and could only mutter nonsense to me. I was afraid he’d been paralyzed. Luckily, he wasn’t, but it took several hours for him to regain full control of his body at the hospital. But the whole incident could have been averted by simply requiring kids to wear helmets. The company I hired said they weren’t necessary, but they were extra protection that would have cost us little and prevented serious injury. Taking kids skiing? Require them to wear helmets. Taking them boating? Local law may only require you to have lifejackets in the boats, but go a step further and require teens to wear them. Small safety precautions make a big difference and are minimally intrusive. Take them.
What Pullman encourages is unmediated, critical thinking – the only antidote to the mental stupor that today's culture cultivates in young people. And Pullman does so in multiple ways. For example, by turning the familiar story lines of Genesis, Narnia, and the like, on their heads – thereby prompting the reader to reimagine those stories for him- or herself. In short, Pullman doesn't tell his readers what to think, but how to think. And to think, period. This, I suspect, is what Pullman's critics really find unnerving.
"As governor, I tried to do the right as best I knew it, serving the law and answering to the Constitution. I did not confuse the particular teachings of my church with the obligations of the office and of the Constitution – and of course, I would not do so as President. I will put no doctrine of any church above the plain duties of the office and the sovereign authority of the law."
"If I am fortunate to become your president, I will serve no one religion, no one group, no one cause and no one interest," he said. "A president must serve only the common cause of the people of the United States."
Got a minute? Take time out of the rush of the day and "enter" the scene above. Take a walk in the silent snow of this image, captured on a Christmas morning.
The Advent season is the perfect time to focus on these gifts of the Spirit that really matter -- the kind of gifts that won't end up collecting dust on some shelf or find their way into our next garage sale. They are the gifts that draw us together and nurture us as a community on the journey of faith.--Brian
Another way to unleash your creativity is to see what others are doing and head in the completely opposite direction. Powerpoints and videos all the rage? Break out the whiteboard and dry erase markers. Draw diagrams. Make arrows pointing here there and everywhere. It’s fun, really. Of course, since I have started doing this very thing I discover that others are doing a similar thing (i.e. Rob Bell’s everything is spiritual tour). My next idea? Bust out the flannelgraphs. I’m thinking life-size so the whole congregation can see it. Younger youth pastors, go ask someone in their 30s or older.
What do we mean by the Disciples mind? It is a way of approaching the Scriptures with a reverent intelligence. This style of professing Christian faith has accepted the reproach of advocating a “head religion” hurled by those who profess a “heart religion.” Emphasizing faith with understanding, the Disciples mind puts the highest premium on rationality and faithfulness in action.How about you? How would your respond? Or, how will you respond when a youth asks you about the blasphemy challenge?
Finish your time together by allowing youth to share about their experience of silent waiting. Brainstorm ways they might continue this practice on a daily basis throughout Advent.
“I made some bad decisions that I’ve written about, there were times when I got into drinking and experimented with drugs.. there was a whole stretch of time when I didn’t really apply myself a lot.”
It’s just not a good idea for people running for President of the United States who potentially could be the role model for a lot of people to talk about their personal failings while they were kids because it opens the doorway to other kids thinking, ‘well I can do that too and become President of the United States,’” Romney told an Iowa audience today. “I think that was a huge error by Barack Obama…it is just the wrong way for people who want to be the leader of the free world.”
In either context, Romney's statement is ridiculous. God forbid our politicians should be honest with us, but God help you if you are trying to lead a youth ministry program and you can't be authentic with the young people you serve. Teens don't need perfect adults with perfect manners teaching them how to be perfect people. They need to know that we struggle with the same things they do. They need to know that have, do, and will make mistakes. They need to know that we on a occasion (or even more often) let an expletive slip our lips, curse bad drivers under our breath (or out the car window!), fail to tell the truth sometimes, and not to put to fine a point on it: sin!It’s just not a good idea for someone leading a youth ministry who potentially could be the role model for a lot of people to talk about their personal failings while they were kids because it opens the doorway to other kids thinking, ‘well I can do that too and become a Christian.’”
But I believe the world is burning to the ground
oh well I guess we're gonna find out
let's see how far we've come
let's see how far we've come
Well I, believe, it all, is coming to an end
oh well, I guess, we're gonna pretend,
let's see how far we've come
let's see how far we've come
I often tell the young people I serve to trust in the WAY of Jesus, but I always follow up that statement by asking "But just exactly what WAY is that?" Beyond all the identity statements we make for Jesus (messiah, son of God, savior), what is it about Jesus we are inviting young people to trust in? What do you understand the way of Jesus to be? What does it look like? How is it manifest in real life?
[A] Contemplative approach to youth ministry does not entail teaching youth to become contemplatives. It entails a leadership team committed to a contemplative process of its own that enables its members to see ways of crafting programmatic action that authentically participates with God in nurturing life and faith in young
A great follow-up to this activity might be a discussion or worship experience centered on being attentive to God's presence in the world all around us. Invite youth to spend a day noticing the little things they might miss in their regular flurry of activity that can draw their attention to God: the beauty of a fall leaf, the sound of children playing, the person in the school cafeteria who is eating alone, the taste of food, the gift of a moment of silence. Challenge them to take a moment each time they find themselves being attentive to God's presence to stop and offer a simple prayer of thanks.