Week 10- Outline for Paper

March 17, 2008

I.                 Description of the Junior High Students at Lake Avenue Church, with special attention given to their economic disparity.

a.      This involves two levels. The first level is the differences between the students on Sunday mornings (suburban youth primarily) and the students who come on Wednesday nights (urban youth primarily). There are great economic and social differences between these two groups.

                                                    i.     There are certain things that distinguish these groups (large scale, generalized characterizations): The suburban kids have ipods, cell phones, Hollister outfits, they go on expensive vacations, they have nice houses with pools, etc… How does access to these “texts” affect the way that culture is shaped in these two groups?

                                                  ii.     Interaction of race and economics

                                                iii.     Lifestyles

                                                iv.     Risks and suffering each group faces

                                                  v.     Who defines “what is cool” when they are all together?

b.     The second level involves examining students within each of these groups, and how they interact with economic disparity within their respective groups.

                                                    i.     There are differences even within each of these groups: having an ipod, having the right clothes—these things provide certain social capital even within the system.

                                                  ii.     Who defines “what is cool” in each group of students?

1.     With the suburban kids, money makes a big difference.

2.     With the urban kids, money does not seem to matter as much as far as distinguishing between cool and uncool.

c.      Barker and economics

                                                    i.     Marxism

                                                  ii.     Hegemony

                                                iii.     Deconstruction of Binaries

II.               The Synthetic Model

a.      Definitions and characterizations

b.     Why it should be used in this setting

III.             What practical steps will be made to bring the gospel to this group of students?

a.      Fast from your ipod

b.     Bring your favorite shirt to a clothing drive

c.      Interview kids to see how they feel about their economic location

d.     Have discussions with both groups about the reality of economic disparity within the youth group and what it means.

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Week 10- Response to Randy

March 16, 2008

I found Randy’s reflection to Wednesday’s class interesting . He cautions us not to comment too much on the story of Scripture, citing places in the Bible where we are told not to add anything to the canon. We ought not allow our cultural understanding of the text influence what we believe to be fact, when it is not fact. On some level I agree with Randy’s caution. I am taking a preaching class and part of me cringes when I hear preachers expound on a story in Scripture by exaggerating with details that were not part of the original telling of the story. And yet at the same time, if I am not representing these details as the word of God, but am instead simply making the word of God more accessible through these hyperboles and details surrounding the text, then am I doing an injustice? Of course, people have the capacity to take my elaborations as actual fact, but won’t they be  negotiating with the text that I am handing to them? Just as I negotiate the text of Scripture to communicate the gospel in a sermon, they negotiate my words in the sermon to determine what pieces fit their lives.

Additional thoughts… I don’t know where I fall on this issue. I agree with Randy that it is a slippery slope, but I have also found that the word comes much more alive when these details and commentaries and negotiations are added. How can we allow for the negotiation of meaning but also trust that people will know what is the word of God and what is not? How can we give our congregation the freedom to decide, trusting that the Spirit will guide?

Week 10- Wednesday

March 16, 2008

I sat today with a few junior highers in Border’s as we looked through magazines like those mentioned in class on Wednesday. I believe that adult women can negotiated the meanings associated with these magazines; adults can use the magazines for their own benefit and decide what effect they want these magazines to have. Yet I do not see the ability of a junior higher to do this, at least not from what I saw today. They take in the messages conveyed in these magazines without abstractly thinking or critically engaging with them- they see women as sexualized objects of perfect proportions, and they think that this is their model for being. So while we can gain hope in that women are negotiating the meanings of these texts, that is not true of early adolescents, and it is these young women who are the most vulnerable to attack.

Week 9- Response to Emmet

March 10, 2008

I also felt a huge weight on me because of the midriff section on Wednesday. I agree that it is in large part because the “persona” of the midriff has largely to do with these girls’ identities as sexual objects. They are saying, “This is who I want to be,” which is a difficult reality to grasp. What could we as the church offer them that has as much social capital and is as enticing as the midriff? How are we offering them another alternative? I think that our formulation of the answer to this has to involve offering kids another identity. This first involves talking to kids about their belovedness as God’s creatures. Next in line though, are there pictures within Scripture that develop an identity of a woman that is different from the midriff? We are doing a series in junior high about superheroes, and sadly there are not that many extensive bios of women in the Bible. Yet can we take one of these bios and dive into it, showing who these women are. I know we need to be talking about the story of God with kids and not propositional thought. Perhaps we also need to be talking about the characters of God’s people, showing kids what an identity shaped by God would look like.

Additional thoughts… Kids are asking the question, “Who am I?” in adolescence, and this gives them a concrete way to answer that question.  We as the church have GOT to give them another way to answer this question. Does this mean breaking down their midriff identity as well? Or does it just mean bombarding them with images of themselves as the ones who are beloved by the Lord? I think that work needs to be done in deconstructing the binaries between midriff identity and power (they think that they gain more power and social capital through being a midriff), but perhaps the way to do that is to FIRST show that their identity has nothing to do with all that stuff. Next we can attack the midriff personality, but first we have to show them that there is an alternative option. We also have to place women in their lives who do not adhere to this midriff personality. Thus the need for adult mentors in kids’ lives.

Week 9- Paper Outline

March 10, 2008

Again, in my paper I will be looking at the culture of junior highers at Lake Avenue Church, investigating the economic disparities among the youth. Involved in this survey of how junior highers treat the wealth that they have will include some examination of economic principles such as the Marxist understanding of base and superstructure—Marx said that culture is determined by the production and organization of material existence. He said that culture is political because it is expressive of relations of power—thus the ideas of the ruling class are the ruling ideas. I will also bring in ideas of deconstructing binaries, such as the idea that “I have an ipod” = “I have social capital.” I will use the synthetic model to approach ways of bringing the gospel to this community. Some ideas of how to address this issue in the church could be having a service project in which each kid brought their favorite shirt to donate to the clothing drive, encouraging kids to fast from their ipods or texting on their phones, talking about the realities of economic disparities in the youth group, doing individual interviews with kids to see how they feel about their economic standing, etc…

Week 9- Bevans, Chapter 9

March 10, 2008

The Countercultural model stands in the context of the Christian story and from that perspective attempts to critique and analyze the validity of the surrounding culture measured against the truths of the gospel narrative. The church sees itself as a contrast community, where the gospel is lived out fully in the context of materialism, individualism, etc… This model studies and attempts to understand the context in which the church exists, but it seeeks to shape that context by the “reality of the gospel.”

Week 9- Wednesday

March 5, 2008

Something that was said in Merchants of Cool hit me today– it said that the midriff personality encourages young women to flaunt their sexuality even when they do not understand it. I see this all the time with junior high girls. Tonight, for example, I asked some junior highers what they wanted to be when they grew up, and their first answers were “stripper,” or “sexy soccer mom.” They do not understand sexuality, and yet want it as part of their identity.

Week 9- Monday

March 3, 2008

The discussion on carnival today was very interesting. I think that the movie Saved, which came out several years ago, could be a good example of carnival at work in pop culture’s view of the church. It was such an over- exaggeration of the evangelical right that it makes one think about the reasons the position stands as it is.

Additional thoughts: At Lake Ave Church every summer the youth group takes urban kids from low income families in Pasadena to a ranch in Wyoming, where they learn to horseback ride, shoot arrows, rope cows, etc… as well as engage in service opportunities. This is a “carnival” in that it provides alternative space in which these urban youth can experience a rare freedom as well as feel that they are empowered to serve others.

Week 8- Paper Outline

March 2, 2008

I will be looking at the culture of junior highers at Lake Avenue Church, investigating the economic disparities among the youth. I will dive into what role economics has to do the cultural practices and the social hierarchy of junior highers. It seems that the students in the youth group place huge importance on “what one has” or “what one wears.” To have a shirt that says “Hollister” for example, brings a certain amount of social capital with it. Next, I will take the synthetic model to express the gospel within this particular aspect of junior high culture, that of economic disparity. The synthetic model strives to be a middle of the road model, taking into account both the experience of the present (context, culture) as well as the experience from the past (Scripture, tradition). Finally, after expressing the gospel in junior high culture through the synthetic model, I will find ways that the church might address this issue in the youth group itself– How can we understand the importance kids place on “what you have” or “what you wear,” and yet bring truths of the gospel into that culture? Furthermore, how might the church address these issues not just in the church but also locally (perhaps in schools or at community centers) and globally?

Week 8- Bevans, Chapter 8

March 2, 2008

The transcendental model begins in the world of the subject; in this model, one begins with a search for the authenticity of self. A person asks such questions as, “How well do I know myself?” With this understanding of the authentic self, one is able then to also understand others in one’s own culture in a deeper sense. The knowledge of the personal leads to knowledge of the general. Revelation is seen in this model as an event that happens when one opens up oneself to God. Also, the way one learns is universal.