Monday, December 31, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
I still love that 2 and half years after I have graduated from college I still have a group of close friends around. These friends have been great over the last 2 years. I know all in the area are not represented by the picture below (such as JD and Jon E)but looking at this picture reminds me of how great it is to be apart of a community of people that care about each other and make a point to get together regularly no matter how crazy our lives are or because some of us are married, engaged, dating or single. I love you all!
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Which theologian are you?
created with QuizFarm.com
|You scored as Jürgen Moltmann|
The problem of evil is central to your thought, and only a crucified God can show that God is not indifferent to human suffering. Christian discipleship means identifying with suffering but also anticipating the new creation of all things that God will bring about.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Then I remember how my current church staff reacted to when I told them what the church said, they were about as upset and discussed by the church as I was, and I remember there are people in the Church that care about the Kingdom of God and love Jesus and want to wrestle with what it means to be the Church. Thank you to all those who love.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Thanksgiving is tomorrow. People all over the
Over the last few years I have started to hate Thanksgiving. Not because I am again with my family (I love spending time with my family) or because I hate turkey just that much (which I don’t, I love turkey) but, because I feel that in celebrating Thanksgiving as a national holiday we are somehow celebrating the ideas our nation was founded on, mostly “Manifest Destiny” or our “Divine Right” or ourselves as a “Christian Nation,” seeming to look back to that one day that the Native America’s shared a meal with the pilgrims as the day our “Christian Nation” was born.
But I ask the question that Gregory Boyd asked, “When was our nation ever Christ-like?” What does this “Christian Nation” that so many good Christian people want to return the
Our nation has never been a “Christian nation.” We might have been a nation with Christianity as a part of it but never a “Christian nation.” As Christians we should not find our identity or pledge ourselves to a national idea or earthly nation, we should find our identity and pledge our lives to God.
Therefore, I urge you this Thanksgiving not to look back on Thanksgiving and be thankful for who we are as an earthly nation that will pass away no matter how much money we spend on national defense. Find your identity and give thanks for the continued compassion God has for you as a member of creation and the Kingdom. May we as people of God then go and bring forward His Kingdom, which does not pass away and does not have boarders. May we as a Christian people find our hope and thanks not in the reform of a constitution or law(s) but in what God has done in the world through His Son and through His people.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
As the Holidays approach I am starting to look forward to having a month of school off and spending time with friends and family without homework hanging over my me. I especially looking forward to going up north to Monterey, San Fran and/or Mammoth during the break! It is crazy to think that over the last eight weeks I have almost learned enough New Testament Greek to start to doing exegesis in a Greek New Testament! This quarter as gone by so quickly and has been really tiresome, but really good. I have meet some really good friends in my Greek class at Fuller. I weekly look forward to our hour breaks from class where we sit together over coffee or breakfast and discuss life, Jesus, the kingdom of God, politics, and community living. I will miss our tri-weekly meetings once our class is done, but I think we all hope that our conversation time together won't end for good.
Ministry wise...I am loving Baseline but am also realizing how hard it is for me to only have to time to being doing youth ministry part-time, while also knowing that I could be leaving the church for a full time position in the next few months, being that I have been interviewing with a few churches lately. I am hoping that by this summer I will be in a full time ministry position but we will wait and see if my plans line up with what God has in store for me.
Two weekends ago I spent two nights in a row at the Brand New, Thrice, and mewithoutYou shows in L.A. The shows were really good both nights but different. I was sad that I didn't really get to see mewithoutYou's set either night only catching five songs Saturday and two Sunday night. Thrice's set Saturday night was okay, the structure of the set was kind of weird, moving from slower songs right into quick ones, then back again. Sunday night was much better, their set flowed a lot better and was overall a stronger performance. I was surprised that they only played five new songs in a twelve song set both nights. Brand New took the show both nights. Saturday night their set was nothing more than spiritual. Both Casey and I left in awe. Sunday night they changed up their set and totally changed the feel of their show into more of a rock star performance with everything from guitar throws to ground spinning guitar solos. Other than that music wise as my friend Casey put it, "I have been drowning in music lately." As the year comes to an end and as the question of what are my top ten albums of 2007 rapidly approaches I have been cycling through more music than ever. You can check out my current listen section to see what I have been playing over and over.
Friend and girlfriend stuff are good. I miss my friends like Casey, Jon, Tyler and Garret but just knowing they are there for me is refreshing. I am excited to see Jon Axtell this weekend and meet his new friends! I love that I have come to a place with so many of my friends that even though I don't see them every weekend, when we do see each other it is like we were never away from each other. If you really want to know that details of Katie and my relationship then call me, don't worry I promise all is good!
I guess over-all life is good, now all I have to do is get rid of this stupid cold!
P.S. Mallory thanks for the title!
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
This last weekend I went down to
During the Saturday morning general session, an all-too-familiar speaker walked on stage, Francis Chan. I had heard Chan many times before during my undergrad at APU, and yes, at times had felt the spirit move through his words but never like this. Chan had gone through a type of crisis of faith over the last year bringing him to the point of thinking of leaving his church and questioning if he was really a “Christian at all” and taking a leave of absence for a while. Confronted with questions of his own spirituality in light of Jesus’ message of the Kingdom, he wondered why if Jesus commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves why he was not and why his church as a whole was not. He wondered why when he and most of the
After coming to this conclusion Chan realized that he could no longer live his life as he had for so many years. Therefore, Chan sought to become what we believed was a true Christian, or follower of Jesus. After a few months Chan was asked to return to his old church by the leadership. Chan said he would think about it but only if they made a few changes in the way they ran the church. One such change was to stop a multi-million dollar building project which included constructing a new sanctuary. Chan instead believed that the church should spend much less money and construct an outside ampi-theater where the church would worship together outside, instead of inside a building. Another change Chan requested, believing that the church should love their neighbors as themselves; the church must give away 50% of all tithes to the church to help those in need.
Over the last couple of months the Spirit of God as been moving within me in a troubling way. It is troubling because God has been convicting me personally that neither myself or my communities of friends are doing much to live out the Kingdom in our lifestyle. I have really come to question if many of my, or my friends’, weekly and daily lifestyle practices are Kingdom driven or even remotely Christian driven, if you will allow me to make this distinction in light of Chan’s talk. As of late, and in light of Chan’s talk I have been asking myself questions such as: if buying $170 dollars worth of beer and liquor to celebrate a friend’s marriage is
Saturday, September 22, 2007
For the past two years I feel that much of my life has been run based on some future event that is going to happen. Whether it is the end of a quarter, the end of a season in life, the end of a job, or the end of a day, much of my life has been lived impatiently looking forward. I have let myself become bound to the measure of clocks, watches, computers screens or calendars. There have been nights and days where I have dwelled on the future so much that I become paralyzed for doing anything at that current moment. I have felt that if a current moment of life comes, all will somehow come into order: my friendships, relationship with God, relationship with Katie, parent stuff, money. I have been living in the future, not within a current moment of life. Don’t get me wrong, there are times that I feel that I am right in that moment as if all rest of time is insignificant, but over all it pains me to say that this is not true for most of the moments in my life.
As of today I know longer want to be constricted to the impatience which has ruled my life of much of the last two years. I want to live my life in patience. Not the type of patience that is waiting for a future event, like a child patiently waiting for the morning to arrive on Christmas Eve. I want to live a life of patience that calls me to fight against the grain of my natural impulse. As Nouwen points out in his book Compassion, a life of patience enables us to “see, hear, taste, and smell as fully as possible the inner and outer events of our lives,” to “enter actively into the thick of life and to fully bear the suffering within and around us” as we “give up control…entering into a unknown territory.” The patience that Nouwen speaks of reveals a new time, a time of grace. This time is not measured by units or numbers but it is lived in fullness. These moments of time are not necessarily happy, joyful, painful, or marked with struggle. These moments of time are experience in the fullness of there importance. Every moment in life is important, I…we, can no longer afford to live lives of impatience. May you and I live every moment to its fullness, experiencing everything each moment holds within it for the purposes of His glory that is now but is to come…
Monday, September 17, 2007
It is about once a year that I really get the time to sit and process life...these last 2 weeks have been this time. During the first 3 weeks of Sept. Fuller usually stops enough while job stuff is in transtion that it allows me enough time to process what the last year has held. Last year, these 3 weeks ended with an amazing trip to CO, spending much needed time with good friends giving me enough strength to run towards the distance finish line. This year, while I have enjoyed not having school or work for the last 2 weeks, I don't feel as if I have recovered enough to keep me going. The only day during these last 2 weeks that I feel that I have really have been refreshed was the day I spent celebrating my 2 year relationship with Katie. (Side Note: I love you babe! and thank you for everything during these last 2 years!) Many of the last 2 weeks have been filled with me sitting on my butt...doing nothing, which if you know me is a quick way to kill me. I thrive off of community, doing, friendship, and conversation with people I love and who love me. My community has of late shrunk to a roommate whom I love, a girlfriend whom I don't know what I would do without, a friend who I talk to on the phone from Central Cali, friends whom I feel I don't really know anymore, what I can make out of the few friends from college I still have and what I can piece together with the new friends who are still to new to amount to much as of now. For some people this might seem like a normal group of friends but for me it is barely enough to survive. Maybe this is what life has come to. It seems that if the days of dreaming of a community of friends has drifted away. As I sat in church today and listened to my pastor Donn, who has been an amazing blessing in my life over the last 2 years, talked about community, I sat there wondering if a biblical community is really possible in our culture and world today? I long for a day where my married friends don't fall into some invisible married cassim of no return. I long for a day where people won't come home and sit in front of a box where they entertain themselves to death. I long for a day where people talk face to face and not read about each other on a blog sites or myspace pages. I long for a day where families of singles, marrieds, kids, and elders can come together weekly in fellowship. Maybe this hope is fleeting? I would like to think not, but it seems that the possibility of a world like this has been drifting further and further away in the "now but not yet."
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
At Fuller Seminary I constantly get asked two questions: Where I did my undergrad? And what was my major in undergrad? As I quickly answer the first question proudly, Azusa Pacific University, when I come to the answer of the second question I almost have to force myself not to mutter it under my breath, Marketing. The silence in the air speaks a thousand words. The silence is usually then broken with an awkward, “really?”
As look back on why I chose Marketing as my major in undergrad I usually have the same response, “really?” It has been two years since I graduated from A.P.U. and since I started Fuller Seminary the fall quarter after I graduated from A.P.U. and what may come to a supervised to some of you, is that I have been indoctrinated with more church/business ties than I ever did at A.P.U. You see it was one reason that I made the move from marketing/business to church ministry was because I couldn’t put together the things I was learning in my mandatory Bible classes with the things I was learning in my Marketing class. It was if Church and Business existed in to different worlds or maybe “spheres,” props to Abraham Kuyper, and they shouldn’t be emerged together. Yet, I soon discovered the world some Biblical studies classes painted for me of how the ideal church or Christian should exist in
Our current case study A addresses this exact problem. A pastor returning from a pastor’s conference with many new business strategy ideas wants to implement them in his dying elderly church in order to save the church from becoming extinct. In order to do this the pastor feels that the church should translate church/ministry success into quantifiableterms (numbers) that can be measured and analyzed by numbers. All ministries then that do not produce numbers are done away with because they do not fit the strategy of the church, to maximize the church numbers.
So is it wrong for the pastor to want to implement business strategies into his dying church in order to try to save it? I wonder if I frame the question in a different way it might bring to light what I believe are the really questions at hand. Is it okay for the pastor to try to save the dying church, or should the pastor let the church die along with the last elderly member of the church? I don’t think so. Is it wrong for the pastor to want to bring new live into the church in the forms of new members? I don’t think so. I think the question we have to ask though is, does the strategy the pastor wanting to implement belong in the sphere of commerce only or can this strategy also belong in the sphere of the Church?
You see it is not bad that the pastor wants to try to revive his church through bring new life to the church through new members but I think the pastor get into troubled waters when he bring a strategy that was developed in the commerce sphere of the world and implement it into the sphere of the church as the only measurable way to determine if a ministry or church is successful. Ministry should never be based only on quantifiable terms or the numbers of people we can bring to a church or ministry, as it is in the commerce sphere. Yet, the pastor has some things right, sometimes it is necessary for the church to evaluate if a ministry is being successful or not based on certain terms, it just shouldn’t be just quantifiable terms. I don’t have the space or the time to come up with a list of other terms a church can measure the successfulness of their ministries but it is important to realize that there are times when we, the church, need to take a critical look at our ministries in order to evaluate if we are using the resources of our church in the best way we can. Therefore I cannot support the pastor if he was willing to implement a church strategy outlined above.
To answer the last question, what would I tell the pastor if I was on staff at the church, I would tell him my option discussed above. Sometimes in churches we like to play along with things as if arguments or disagreements should not happen with the church, as if we should just go along with what our boss or pastor says because after all he is the pastor. The Church needs to be place where we can discuss, in a loving way, our disagreements. After all that is what Paul did when he confronted Peter and James over the issue of Gentile and Jewish relations detailed in Acts and Galatians. If it came to the point where the pastor and myself strongly disagreed and we could not work it out and I was forced to leave the church because of it then at least I stood my ground because if I didn’t I would be giving up on one of my strongest convictions, that we have to be very careful when the sphere of the church and the sphere of commerce emerge together.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
While not all indie rock concerts begin like a Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins shows and bands all do have very similar details that make them quit similar to Biblical figures and stories. For one by it’s own definition indie music comes from the margins of pop culture. Indie music also is speaking prophetically into the wider culture of the world, like my Biblical prophets of old. While some might argue this is not the case for all indie bands, and I would not disagree, there are many indie bands where this is the case. Take for instance bands that are leading the way in the indie music scene such as Manchester Orchestra, Pedro the Lion, mewithoutYou, Bright Eyes, Cursive and the band motioned above Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins.
Indie music falls in long lines of great musical movements that have come from the margins such as Jazz, Rap and Punk. Yet, unlike these music genres indie music takes many different musical forms and styles. Somehow dispite the diversity of sounds indie music has created a community of individuals much like that of early movements in the Jazz, Rap and Punk scenes. Take the band Broken Social Scene for instance. This is a band made up of different musicians, all from different music genres, who come together to tour and play music just because of their love for the music and their common social bound.
We though live in an interesting time in music history, because of the rise of music down loading, web sites like myspace.com and purevolume.com, individuals search for something deeper than pop music brings and societies over stimulation of media; the indie music scene is finding itself growing in leaps and bounds. As the growth of indie music communities continue to grow, musicians from around the nation are joining together just to play music they love and music that challenges the norm.
Jazz, Rap and Punk not only find their musical roots from the margins but have historically been partnered with social movements. Yet unlike the urban start of many marginal musical movements indie music comes from suburban areas of our nation. Other than the love music another thing that brings indie musicians and participants together as a community is their stance against the norm of pop culture and the injustice of the world. Members of the indie music scene believe that there are more important things in the world going on. Therefore they look behond their selves, their views on sex, drugs, or religion and join together to fight a common enemy. Indie music has created a community of bands and individuals who are declaring, we are unsatisfied with the norm of society and are working to change things. While all of many indie bands like Bright Eyes and Cursive might be creating social noise and doing little to back it up in practice. There are bands such as mewithoutYou who are leading the way for all indie bands in the scene. Many members of the band mewithoutYou are apart of social organizations that working for social change such as mewithoutYou’s singer Aaron who is apart of the Simple Way Community. By participating in not only prophetic enouncement but social organizations mewithoutYou is declaring, don’t only sing about the social issues of the world but work to change those issues.
As indie communities and bands around the world come together they are marching to a different drum. A drum whos beats sound familiar to those of the early church. Stand against the norm, declare the coming of something different, hear our words because they are important and do not stand in our way because we are about something larger than the America dollar.
Wednesday, April 4, 2007
It was six years ago when I shown up on the APU’s campus on moving day. The campus was filled with screaming college students ready to welcome me to my new “home”, crying parents, local business vying for my dollars which they hoped I would give them over next couple of years, and new college freshman and transfers who were filled with so many emotions and thoughts that they could not hope to articulate in one coherent sentence. The one thing that still stands out to me about that day was that no matter where I went everyone was friendly, welcoming me to my new community.
As the weekend festivities ended and college went on as I guess colleges does, I started to establish a core group of friends that I hung out with weekly. We ate together, went to shows together, ran around in short shorts soaking wet in 45 degree whether together, had conversations about life until 4 in the morning together, put a large “BLACK OUT” shirt on the BIOLA Jesus together, suffered through finals weeks together, and just did life together for four years. I lament that their will probably be on other time in my life that I will live in community as I did during my undergrad college years. The structure of our current society doesn’t make community living as easily as I would hope because our society has become way to individualistic and privatized.
This is not right! As humans we have been created to live in community with each other. If we can declare that we are made in God’s image, and that God exists as a divine community than we must declare as God’s image that we are created exist in community with one another.
Christian college community was all nice and good and I have to admit there was something special about living in a community with people that are experiencing similar things as you are, it still creates a false image of Biblical community. Biblical community should look more multi-generational then a Christian college community usually does. As Christians we should not take forsake the biblical model of multi-generational community for what might seem easier or more convenient for us. We need to be community with those who have experienced what we have not, where we can pour into the lives of our youth and children, and where we can sit and hear the stories of our elderly. We need to be in a community were multi-generations can live together and truly be a picture of our savior to the world around us.
As I said above, it has been two year since all of my college friends went our separate ways and while I still talk with some and live with others, my group of friends, that I did life together with during college is gone. I still hope that one day I might live in a community like I did in college, yet hopefully this time it will look a lot more like Biblical community then it did was I was in college.
Monday, March 19, 2007
Other than taking classes I was busy with at my church. Noah, one of our volunteer leaders, and I started a senior guys Bible study. I feel that the Bible study is going very well. Other than that, church stuff has been crazy with our Mammoth Winter Trip and other drama that will go unmentioned for the online audience. Three weeks ago we started our new sermon serious in which we will be going through the Sermon on the Mount. Janelle and I are very excited to go through all of the great topics and will come up as we go through this serious. We both feel that this serious of messages will help to bring new prospectives to our students as well as help to shape them as they seek to discover what this journey with God is all about. Finally, last Saturday I went with other members of Baseline, the church I am apart of, to a seminar at Fuller. Basline was one of 17 churches invited this all day conference on "Multi-Generational Ministry." I am very excited to see how Baseline starts to implement what we learned this weekend. Over all, I feel that these last 11 weeks have been really amazing. God has been and is doing incredible things in the students lives.
On a more personal level, life has been going well. I have learned a lot in the last few weeks, which can be both good and frustrating. This is definitely a time of preparation in my life. I know that in the next couple of months I will have to make some decisions that will affect my life greatly in the next couple of coming years. I pray that God gives me grace and guidance for I have no other idea how I will be able to make these decisions.
I know I haven't posted as much as I would have liked to over the last few weeks. Hopefully over the next couple days I hope to post more of my thoughts as I process a lot of what has been going through my mind as of late. The two posts that follow below are sections of two papers I wrote this quarter. I just wanted to post them to put them out there. I feel they reveal important information and I also just wanted to see what people thought of my ideas. I hope all you my friends are doing well, may God bless you as you are a blessing to others.
At 2 in the morning last night I just laid there, not because I was still excited at my win in an amazing game of H.O.R.S.E. with my roommates, on our houses’ in door basketball hoop. I wasn’t laying their reflecting on an rifting theological conversation that I had just had with my friends over some drinks. I was laying their because I was broken. As I lay there with my eyes closed, my mind drifted off. I started to think about the students at ___________, the sight of my Outreach project. Over the last ten weeks I have been substituting at _____________ Yet this time I wasn’t there just for the money I need to pay my bills. I was there because for the first time since I had started substituting there, I had to start to pay attention to what was really going on in the lives of the students at __________. Why? Because I had to for class, not because I wanted to or I thought it would be a good idea, being that I want to work with students. No, what made me do it was a project for a class. That’s what brought me to this point, a project for a class!
When I started this process I did not know what to expect, yet I never thought that at the end of this project I would feel so hopeless. This is the kind of hopelessness where you feel like no matter what you do you can’t do enough. It is the kind of hopelessness that brings you to tears just at the thought of students that are abandoned by there parents, teachers and any other adults that they might interact with during their day. It was with these thoughts that I lay awake, for how long I don’t really know, who does at times like this. I must have fallen asleep at some point because I awoke this morning, as I do every morning. Now I sit here trying to think about what it might mean to reach out these students. To share with them not only Christ’s love for them but my life, in hopes that I might enter their world as Christ entered this world, and love them as Christ loves them. Maybe then, and only then, will God use me to touch the students at __________________.
My First four Weeks (week 2 through 6 of the quarter)
I started my observation in the third week of January, exact date is unknown. For the first three weeks my observation was strictly in class or while walking around school to and from classes, lunch, arriving or leaving school. I had not really subbed at this school prior to this assignment, so my goal during the couple weeks was to be seen by the students in a normal substitute type setting. I did not want to move into their space to quickly. I subbed at their school about three times a week during these first four weeks.
Week Five to Nine (weeks 7 through 10 of the quarter)
Starting in week five I started to walk around at lunch. In the fifth week I ate half of my lunch solo and then walked around the campus eating as I walked. I soon transitioned to eating my whole lunch while out and about at lunch time. I would sit at different places during lunch and then walk around when I was done with my lunch I started talking to some students I had meet during class time. During this time I was still working at the school about 3 days a week.
1st Focus Group
I set up my first focus group over March 2nd, 2007 during lunch. I asked a student that I had established a good relationship, on February 27th, 2007, if she would want to help me out with a project for one of my class. When I told her that I was doing the project to learn about whom high school students were, what they went through, and what they thought about things like school, friends, parents and what they did on the weekend. She was very willing and happy to help me out.
On March 2nd, 2007 I walked over to where she normally hung out at and she had 5 students there and ready to be interviewed by me. As we were walking toward the hall, where we did the interview, she got 3 other students to join the group. I opened up and told the students what I had told the girl a few days before and that they could as open with me as they wished. I told them that I would not tell anyone what they told me, unless it involved them hurting themselves, them hurting others or if it was about someone that was hurting them. From that point they were very open with me about everything, and also very excited to be doing the project. In this group I had 5 guys and 3 girls. The group lasted the whole lunch time, which is a half and hour.
2nd Focus Group
The second focus group was set up by another student that I met in one of my classes. This group was a little more random then the first one. I had been playing phone tag with the student for a week and we couldn’t find a time to meet and do the group. So, I decided to show up On March 6th, 2007 during lunch time and find the student who I had asked to set up the group for me. The student could not really find anyone to do the group with us so it ended up four students: two guys and two girls. Half way through the group a random girl came by and became a part of the group, so then we had five students total.
Since we are at school, let’s start there. What do you guys think about school?
Do you guys have a favorite teacher? If so why is he or she your favorite teacher?
What do you think are most important things to your parents?
Do you think your parents want the best for you?
Describe your group of friends to me?
Are you guys all good friends?
If you were to get in trouble and needed help who would you call or turn to, why?
Do you trust your best friends more then your teachers?
What do you guys do during the weekend?
Where do you guys hang out during the weekend?
Do you guys hang out anywhere other then your friends houses?
What else do you guys do in your free time?
Why do you guys drink and do drugs?
Do you only do drugs with your friends?
When did you guys start using drugs?
What do you guys usually do to get away from the stress of life?
If you could tell your parents and your teachers one thing what would that be?
Students in 9th grade and 10th grade were more open to trust adults than the 11th and 12th grade students were. In college prep classes students knew what they were suppose to do and did it. You could tell that they felt they knew what they needed to do in order succeed in the school system they found themselves in. The disabilities classes were less trustworthy of adults unless the adult was friendly to them. When the adult was friendly to them, they seem to open up more than other students. The older the student was the less they would interact with me, even if I engaged them first. In classes that were mixed grade levels you could usually tell what grade the students were in by how they reacted to adults.
Students felt that teachers do not understand who they are, respect them or care to find out who students really are. One student told me, “they (teachers) don’t think about what is good for us but just what is good for them.” Students feel like if they have a hard time succeeding in a class that the teachers put the blame on them. Student believe that if they are failing in classes it is the teachers fault for not helping out the student, not their fault. “How do they expect me to learn,” one student said, “if all they do is yell at me.” “Yea, like my math teacher,” another student said, “all he does is put the work on the board and expects me to get what they hell he is writing.” “Teachers are just there to get a pay check,” vented another student.
Most students that I observed or talked to said that they would like it more if the teacher was “real with them,” meaning that the teacher somehow becomes more than just a robot teaching a lesion everyday. The students want someone how tries to relate to them, who respects who they are and their differences. A girl I was talking to said that she likes one of her teachers because, “she is young cool and knows what is going on. She tells us what she did during the weekend, if feel like I connect with her.”
I found it interesting that students would move away from where I was at or turn away from me when talking with their friends. Students that I had, had in class were more open to me sitting by them but seemed to find it weird that I was eating by myself sometimes. This is when I started talking to the students around me; it just seemed to be more natural. During conversations, where I was present with students, students would start a conversation with their friends about a topic but if the topic started to get to personal or to a point that they felt uncomfortable saying around me they would look me up and down, trying to sense something about me, or just strait up ask me if I was a sub. I would reply yes I am a sub, and try to let them know that I was cool, this means that I was trustworthy in a students mind. After students found out who I was, some would go on with their conversations and others would just change the subject. Students were uncomfortable with me being in their space if they could not feel they could trust me.
It seems like every student has an ipod or some sort of mp3 player with them at all times. When students feel uncomfortable or know on one in the class, they put in their mp3 player and just drift away into music land. Students feel that music helps them relax and “escape” for their current situation. Music becomes a way for students to get away from everything else that is going on in their lives. “I just relate to the music,” one student said. Since they feel that almost no one can relate to them, music becomes their passage way into a land where people understand them, their problems and what they go through.
Students don’t know if their parents or guardians want the best for them in life. One student said, “They (parents) just don’t want me to be their responsibility anymore.” “Yea,” another student jumped in, “maybe my parents should have worn a condom.” For students how much their parents care for them is more about how were they rank on their parents list of important stuff. Students compare their importance to their parents along with the importance of money, their boyfriend or girlfriend, the house, work, and paying the bills. To students the way that their parents show they care for them is by keeping them off drugs, in school, home on time, or away from sex. Student believe that parent create rules because they don’t trust their own children. Over all students don’t feel like their parents understand them. “My mom was never a teenager,” one girl said, responding to the fact that she feels her mom doesn’t understand what she goes through. When students don’t feel that their parents trust them it seems to make students want to act out more to prove their parents right. Many students I talked to suffered through their parents divorces. They now feel that they are fought over for their parents love. “I like that my parents are divorced,” one student said, “I get money from my mom, I get two birthday presents, I get more stuff.”
Adults/ Student relationships (other than teachers or parents)
“A lot of older people just stereotype us,” a girl I talked too said. Students don’t think that any adults really understand them or even want to understand them. When I told my focus groups that I was doing this project in order to understand high schoolers more they were excited that I would want to find out who high school students really are. “I wish I could tell adults how I feel inside and about the world around me,” one student said. Students feel that adults don’t want to understand high schoolers today. Therefore, students don’t feel that they can trust them. Student are weary to let adults into their lives because they feel that they can’t be themselves around adults.
Drug and alcohol has become the social thing to do. For many students’ drug or alcohol use is a weekly activity. They usually do these activities in groups of friends at someone’s house. “We do it to have good time,” one student said, “it not like we are depressed and that is how we get it out.” Student say that they do it because they are bored and have nothing else to do. “It (drugs and alcohol) brings us closer to our friends,” one student said. When student do these activities they feel that they become closer and more excepted by their group of friends. For many students the times they were “wasted” brings memorizes of funny stories and good times, furthering their bonds of friendship. In fact many students said that they started doing drugs or drinking alcohol when they were asked to by either older brothers or sisters or when they were talked into it by friends. No students I talked to started using drugs just on their own, it was always a matter of fitting in with others.
Students during classroom time would act differently in each class depending on who was in the class and how the structure of the class was set up. The more people they knew in the classroom the more they talked. The people they talked to in the class were of the same self-concept level or close to their self-concept level. It was very rare to see them talk to someone, even if they sat next to each other if they were not in the same self-concept level.
During lunch time students would always hang out in the same groups. These groups where based loosely on grade level, race, socio-economic status, language, and interests. Yet, most of their group make up depended on their self-concept level. Most groups seemed too made up 3 to 4 smaller groups of students, or clusters. Some members of clusters would talk to other members of other clusters but not all members of one cluster would talk to all of the members of another cluster. You could usually tell as cluster because it was group of about 4 to 7 students that rarely left one another’s’ side. There was also what I will call floater students. Floater students walk around solo from group to group not really staying in one group for all of lunch.
For some students, friendship is the closest thing they have to safety the feel they have. This is why I believe students have formed smaller groups or clusters, were they feel they can protect themselves. The students I interviewed all said that they feel like they can trust their friends more than they can their teachers or parents. Even though students form clusters; they only have a few close friends that they let see who they really are, if that. “I don’t talk to anyone when I am in trouble or need help,” one girl said, “I just keep it all inside, that is just easier for me.” Another student said that if he needs to talk with someone that he would go to the Internet and talk to friends over the Internet, he feels that it is saver that way. The most important trait that students want in friends is understanding and trustworthiness.
When there is a couple among a group of students, they usually stand off to the side of the group the larger group they were apart of. They are attacked to each to other throughout their time together through hugging and kissing. These students rarely talking to their students around them. Usually the couples’ friends liked or did not like that the couple was together. I could not tell why this was.
Sex is a semi-open topic for the students. Sexual acts are referred to in everyday conversation but sex between two members as a couple is taboo in open conversation. After the couple has broken up the sexual relationship of the couple is now fare game in conversation. Girls I are degraded to sexual hopes or “sexual conquests” which guys use to elevate their own selves egos.
Lying is an everyday activity to survive throughout the day. Students have no problem cheating on tests, homework or class work, whatever they can do to get it done. A student will lie to you strait in your face without even thinking twice. Most unethical decisions are done to protect themselves or other students. One of worst things you can do it to turn in or rat on another student to an adult. There was one instant where I was substituting and two students walked out of the classroom 10 minutes before the bell rang. I did not know who the students were so I asked other members in their class to tell me who they were. The students would not tell me who they where unless I threatened them in some way with punishment. This example shows that students will go to any extent to protect there fellow peers.
Duc is a 16 year old Asian-American teen who grew up an underprivileged neighborhood growing up. When Duc reached high school, daily gang members came up to him daily asking him to be apart of their gang, he refused. One day, like many teens his age, Duc was driving some of his friends in their neighborhood: things take a turn for the worst and Duc’s friend has a gun pointed outside the car window. This person fired four shots, luckily hitting no one. Even with no prior arrests or marks on his record, Duc was arrested, tried as an adult and found guilty of first degree attempted murder.
Today in the United States there are weekly cases just like Duc’s. Even though the United States Juvie system was created to keep youth out of adult jails, today it incarcerates thousands of youth in adult jails. Citizens of the United States are made to believe something has gone terribly wrong with our youth today. Daily the media produces images and stories of youth who have robbed, raped or killed innocent victims. Despite the media’s depiction of youth crime, it has dropped 41% in the last few years.  Yet, stricter laws are being created to put youth behind bars and keep them there.
There is an injustice to the system of youth crime and “Juvies.” There is now psychological, neurological, and sociological evidence that suggests that adolescences should not be allowed to be tried as adults, yet they are today. While nay-sayers believe the evidence is not conclusive enough to change United States laws, the research continues to pour in and prove them wrong. It is in times like this that we need prophets to stand up and change this system of injustice, to set an oppressed people free.
The emergence of adolescence in the late nineteenth century Western culture, has caused adolescence to be a topic of much conversation and research. At the top of this list is the moral development of adolescents. Psychologists and sociologists alike have been intrigued by this mind-boggling, ever-changing, period of time in a person’s life. In 1908 Arnold van Gennep called this process, which we now know as adolescence, “rite of passage.” Gennep suggested there are three important elements to this “right of passage:” separation from the old status, transition, and incorporation into the adult community. The process of a child transitioning into the adult community is now referred to as individuation; when a person’s idea of their identity, autonomy, and belonging are formed.
Since its emergence adolescence has lengthened from lasting from age 14 to 18, to as many as 12 plus years, from ages 11or 12 to 24 plus. The lengthening of adolescence is because psychologists believe adolescence begins in puberty and ends in one’s culture context. With the growth of adolescence, scientists noticed three stages of adolescence emerging in the early 1990s; these stages are called Early-Adolescence 11 to 14, Middle-Adolescence 15 to 19, and Late Adolescence 19 to 25. With the emergence of these new stages of adolescences came a new characteristic of these stages of life. During these stages of life adolescence are characterized different by their cognitive development. Early Adolescence is characterized by concrete thinking meaning that they care just about themselves. Middle Adolescence is characterized by ego-centric abstraction, realizing that they affect others but do not care. Late-Adolescents is characterized by abstract thought, realizing that the “I” and “thou” exist and they care about the “I” “thou” relationship.
Adolescent Brain Development
Research on adolescent brain development is relatively new. In 1962 Hubel and Wiesle and in 1992 Kuhl, Williams, Lacerda and Stevens showed sensory regions of the brain go through development in the early stages of human life and that it is unlikely that the human brain might continue to undergo change after early childhood. It was not until the 1970s and 1980s that studies stared to suggest the human brains might continue to develop in the prefrontal cortex into adolescents.
Two changes revealed in the human brain before and during adolescence; as neurons develop there is a layer of myelin that is formed around their extension from the supporting glial cells. Myelin acts as an insulator, increasing the speed of transmission of electrical impulses from neuron to neuron 100 fold. The sensory and motor skills region of the brain become fully myelinated during the first few years of life, yet while the brain tissue volume remains stable; axons in the frontal cortex continue to be myelinated into adolescence. The studies suggest that transmission speed of neural information in the frontal cortex increases throughout childhood and adolescence.
The second difference in the brain of pre-pubescent children and adolescents suggests changes in synaptic density in the prefrontal cortex. During development, the intricate network of connections between neurons significantly changes. Peaks of synaptic density followed by periods of synaptic elimination or pruning happen. During this process connections are strengthened and infrequent connections are eliminated, based on experience. During adolescence this pruning occurs mostly in the frontal lobes. The brain does this in order to fine-tune its functional networks enabling remaining synaptic circuits to be more efficient.
The invention of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) allowed for scientists to create 3-D images of the brain, permitting them to further study the human brain during people’s lifetimes. Studies have since begin in which scientists have studied individuals throughout their childhood and adolescent development. One such study is underway by Dr. Jay Giedd, Chief of Brain Imaging in the Child Psychiatry Branch of the National Institute of Mental Health. Giedd has spent the past 13 years studying 1,800 children’s and adolescents brains through the use of the MRI. Giedd has build a record of brain development within children and adolescents enrolled in his study, following youth up to the age of 25.
Giedd’s study has helped to prove early brain research studies, like the ones discussed above. Giedd has found that between the ages of 6 and 12, the neurons grow outward connecting to other neurons and creating new pathways for nerve signals. With this growth the gray matter in the frontal lobe of the brain increases. The gray matter of the frontal region of the brain peaks in girls at approximately age 11 and in boys around 12 ½. After peaking the frontal gray matter becomes thinned out at a rate of 1% per year until the early 20’s. At the same time the white matter of the frontal lobe of the brain thickens. White matter is comprised of myelin sheaths that enclose axons. During this process the human brain as mentioned above, prunes away unneeded mass, while making existing connections quicker and more efficient. Ruben Gur of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia suggests that until this process is complete the frontal lobe of the brain is not fully developed.
Gur states, “The frontal lobe of the brain controls the impulses coming from other parts of the brain…if you’ve been insulted, your emotional brain says, ‘kill,’ but your frontal lobe says you’re in the middle of a cocktail party, so let’s respond with a cutting remark.” Studies suggest the frontal lobe of the brain is responsible for functions such as self-control, judgment, emotions, and organization. This is one reason adolescents do not understand conceptual argument that seem logical to adults. Another study by Beckman, came to the same conclusion as Gur did. Beckman concluded that the prefrontal cortex didn’t blaze in teens as it did in adults, suggesting the brain regions that process emotions and risk awareness are not fully developed in adolescents. This suggests that adolescents are more prone to erratic behavior than adults are. An article titled, “Teen Brains on Trial,” by Bruce Bower states that “the last part of the brain that develops is the prefrontal cortex, where planning setting priorities, organizing thoughts, suppressing impulses, and weighing consequences…” occur.
As the brain matures it slowly reorganizes how it integrates information coming from differing regions. As the brain develops it switches from relying heavily on local regions in childhood, to distributing and collaborating its interactions among distant regions of the brain in adulthood. Studies suggest that because adolescents cannot use the frontal lobe of their brain, because is not fully developed, the body copes by using other parts of the brain. For instance, when processing emotions adolescents rely heavily more on the amygdala, a structure located in the temporal lobes which processes emotions and gut reactions; while adults rely less on the amygdala and more on the frontal lobe.
Despite all the research and findings that prove adolescent brains do not allow adolescents to make decisions that adults can many psychologists like Harvard University’s Jerome Kagan, as well as other professionals, still believes there is not enough evidence to change existing legislation that allows for adolescents to be tried as adults. While Kagan confesses this is a matter of ethics, he believes something about an adolescent’s cultural context must be critical. While Kagan makes a good argument, their must be some reasons why some adolescents can control their acts without a fully developed frontal lobe; Kagan is naïve to reject a change in legislation because the role that ones’ cultural context might play a role in their ability to make decisions. Research shows it is obvious that brain development plays a large enough role to make some waves toward legislation reform yet, for argument’s sake social context and moral development must also be considered.
Moral Formation in Adolescents
Development of each individual is an essential process. As a person develops through childhood and adolescence there are events, relationships, and decisions that can affect the development. During adolescence one goes through the process of individuation. Chap Clark, who is associate professor of youth, family and culture at Fuller Theological Seminary, suggests that one does not pass through adolescence until one become individuated. It is during this process of individuation that one’s morals become joined to who they are as an individual.
Daniel Hart of Rutgers University and Gustavo Carle of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln suggest in their study entitled “Moral Development in Adolescence” that moral life develops during adolescence more than it does during the rest of childhood. Bernard Williams believes that when forming ones moral philosophy, one seeks to answer three questions: What is the right thing to do? What is the best possible state of affairs achieved? What qualities make for a good person? These questions are tied to a person’s beliefs, attitudes, and values.
Clark argues that it is ones beliefs, attitudes and values that influence an individual’s Practical Conscience. This level of consciousness is responsible for decisions made through mapping. The human brain maps certain decisions unconsciously, when these same decisions are made again your brain automatically goes to your previous mapped decision. If one’s belief, attitudes and values are altered then ones morals are changed and therefore so are one’s conscious decisions. Yet, as Kagan suggest, since one’s believes, attitudes, and values are tied to the social and cultural context of an individual then one’s social context has to affect their moral development as Kagan suggests.
Social Context and Moral Development in Adolescents
The sociological state of adolescent today is totally different then the sociological state of adolescents 20 years ago, when many adults who create legislation were adolescents. Clark conducted one of the largest direct studies of mid-adolescents in the history of the United States; after conducting this study he detailed his finding in a book called, Hurt: Inside the World of Today’s Teenagers. Chap suggests that today’s adolescents have been systemically abandoned by adults in today’s world. He states, adolescent “abandonment has created an environment in which Mid-Adolescents believe that they are on their own; they pull away from the adult world.” The result of this is that youth all over the world have created their own system of safety mechanism which he calls “the world beneath,” in order to get themselves through adolescence the best they can. Clark believes that there are three major issues related to “the world beneath;” first, adolescents naturally believe they have no other choice but to create their own world to survive. Secondly, because Mid-Adolescents are emotionally and relationally starved, the most important thing they need is a relationally-focused home. Thirdly, Mid-Adolescents have the ability to band together in a way that satisfies their longing for relationships with others as they try to navigate through adolescents.
David Elkind believes, like Clark, that something is desperately wrong with our youth and family structure today. Elkind believes that our culture and family systems have ”stressed out” our youth. We have not been devoted to meeting the needs our youth today because of the world we have created for our children and adolescents is ruled by consumerism, busyness and neglect. Even our families have become “stressed,” stuck in a circular parade of issues that are created by culture and are creating our culture. Our own culture is making it harder for us to recover from our current state. 
Urban areas of our country are in an even worse state. Elijah Anderson, the Charles and William L. Day Professor of the Social Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania, believes the state of our urban areas have become so bad because of the systemic depravity of individuals who live in urban area receive. They exist in a state of their own law, which he calls, “the code of the street.” This systemic depravity is created by racism, consumerism, capitalism, and the selfishness of our current culture. It is by the “code of the streets” that individuals govern themselves and allow themselves to be governed. This “code” is so dominating that individuals in urban areas have convinced themselves they cannot escape it. The individuals that do believe they can escape believe they have to do so by their own “boot straps.”
The findings of Clark, Elkind, and Anderson all agree the one thing that youth today need to get out of these current situations are adults. In a study on adolescent development Laurence Steinber of Temple University and Amanda Sheffield Morris of Arizona State University find that adolescents with supportive families are more socially competent and have more positive friendships. This same research also shows that adolescents with less supportive families are influenced more by peers, especially during Mid-Adolescence.
Contrary to studies such as these, things are not getting any better. Kagan was accurate; something in our adolescents’ cultural context is affecting their development. Our adolescents are in the worst state then they have ever been. Yet, like brain research, studies on adolescent sociology and adolescent cultural context have not affected how our legal system approaches crime and adolescents. Adolescents are still being tried as adults, furthering our systemic abandonment of adolescents. It is clear this treatment of adolescence is ethical wrong.
The Church’s Response
There is something ethically wrong about the way the legal system trying adolescents as adults. Despite all of the brain and sociological research proving that trying adolescents as adults is unethical, little change has occurred. The people of this country and the church within the U.S. have just stood by watching, or not caring enough of listen. This needs to change, especially within the U.S. church. When looking at the life of Jesus we can see a person who stood up against the systems of injustice. Jesus came to proclaim a message of freedom saying, “[God] has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free (Luke 4:18).”
The Church should take the role that Jesus did, proclaiming the “good news” of freedom. In times like these, I am reminded of Israel during the time of Amos. Through the prophet Amos God declared, “…you have turned justice into poison and the fruit of righteousness into wormwood (Amos 6: 12).” Again the prophet proclaims, “Hear this, you that trample on the needy, and bring to ruin the poor of the land (Amos 8:4).”
In this land, during this time, we have “turned justice into poison.” We “trample on the needy, and bring to ruin the poor of the land.” In this system we have created, it is our adolescents that we have made the poor and the oppressed. It is an injustice that we are trying those who we shouldn’t as adults; life-imprisonment for nothing more than driving a friend down the street. Adolescents are not in a developmental or sociological place where this is practical. We have not only systemically abandoned them but we now mistreat those in need. Nothing will change in this system unless someone stands up. We as the church must become like the prophets of old. We must hear the word of God and stand against injustice that tries to encircle us. It is not only our duty to be these prophets, it is our calling.
 Neale, Leslie. Written and Director. Densmore, John & Wahlberg, Mark. Executive Producers. Director. Juvies: What Some Kids Face Behind Bars is a Crime, 2004 Chance Films
 (Neale, Juvies, 2004)
Clark, Chap. Hurt: Inside the World Of Today’s Teenagers. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004), 25.
 (Clark 2004, 26)
 Dean, Kendra and others. ed., Starting Right: Thinking Theological About Youth Ministry. (Grand Rapids, Minchigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 2001,)45.
 Clark, Chap, Intro to Youth Ministry at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, Ca., October, 2006,
 Blakemore, Sarah-Jayne and Choudhury, Suparna. “Development of the Adolescent Brain: Implications for Executive Function and Social Cognition.” Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry (2006), 47:3/4
 (Blakemore 2006, 296) Studies done by Huttenlocher, 1979; Huttenlocher, De Courten, garey & Van Der Loos, 1983; Yakovlev & Lecours, 1967
 (Blakemore 2006, 296) studies done by Yakovlev & Lecours, 1967
 (Blakemore 2006, 297) ( Huttenlocher, 1979; Bourgeosi, Goldman-Rakic, & Rakic, 1994; Woo, Pucak, Kye, Matus, & Lewis, 1997; Zecevic & Rakic, 2001)
 Alice, Claudia, Park, Wallis. “What Makes Teens Ticks.” Time, Vol. 163, Issue 19.
 Beckman, Mary. “Crime, Culpability, and the Adolescent Brain.” ScienceMagazine.org, Vol. 305, Issue 5684. July 30, 2004.
 (Alice, Claudia, Park, Wallis)
 (Beckman 2004)
 (Beckman 2004)
 Unknown Author. “Adolescent Brain.” Youth Studies Australia (2003) Vol. 22 Number 1
 (Beckman 2004)
 Bower, Bruce. “Teen Brains on Trail.” Science News, Vol. 165, Issue 19.
 (Beckmand 2004)
 (Dean. ed, 2001, 55)
 Carlo, Gustavo and Hart, Daniel. “Moral Development in Adolescence.” Journal of Research Adolescence (2005), 15(3), 223-233
 (Carlo 2005)
 Clark, Chap, “Strategies of Youth Outreach” at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, Ca., February 5, 2007,
 Chap Clark, 54
 Chap Clark, 59-60
 Elkind, David. Ties That Stress: The New Family Imbalance. (Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University Press, 1994)
 Anderson, Elijiah. Code of the Street: Decency, Violence and the Moral Life of the Inner City. (New York, 1999)
 Morris, Amanda Sheffield and Steinberg, Laurence. “Adolescent Development.” Annul Review Psychology (2001), 52:83-110
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Top 10 My Favorite CD’s of 2006
The Format – Dog Problems
Copeland – Eat, Sleep, Repeat
MewithoutYou – Brother, Sister
Jeremy Enigk – World Waits
Damien Rice – 9
Brand New – God and the Devil Are Raging Inside Me
Underoath – Define the Great Line
Anathalo – Floating World
Saves the Day – Sound the Alarm
The Appleseed Cast – Peregrine
Honorable Mention of 2006
Destroy the Runner – Saints
Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins – Rabbit Fur Coat
Moneen – Red Tree
Top EPs of 2006
Sherwood – Summer EP
Lakes – Photographs EP
The Soft Civil War – Everything Absent or Distorted (a love story)
Top 5 Best Live Performances of 2006
Bright Eyes – The Glasshouse
Jenny Lewis and Twins - The Glasshouse
Anathalo – The Chain Reaction
Copeland – The El Rey
The Appleseed Cast – The El Rey
Biggest Let Downs of 2006
Brandston – Sound the Alarm
He is Legend – Such Out the Poison
Pretty Girls Make Graves – Elan Vital
Thursday – A City by the Light Divided
Best Band/Artist Finds of 2006
Broken Social Scene
Most Anticipated for 2007
Thrice – The Elements
Rilo Kiley – Unknown
Bloc Party – A Weekend in the City
Bright Eyes – Cassadaga
Dear and the Headlights – Small Steps Heavy Hooves
Sherwood – A Different Light
Kanye West – Unknown
The Chariot – The Fiancee
As I Lay Dying – Unknown
Panic At the Disco – Unknown
CD’s Hoped for in 2007 but unannounced
Broken Social Scene