Archive for January, 2008

Week 4- Wednesday

January 31, 2008

I usually think that egalitarian concepts are the most biblical and are the way that Jesus would have organized life. I do not know ANYTHING about economics or these philosophical understandings like Marxism, but for some reason I always think that the socialist understanding of life is the most Jesus- like. It was good today to hear Ryan say that it is the critiques and the problems pointed out by Marx that are the most helpful, not his solutions to those problems. The issues that Marx had with capitalism (the dehumanization of the division of labor, etc…) are very Jesus- like. I can jump on board with these critiques, while not accepting Marxist solutions.


Week 4- Monday

January 29, 2008

As Ryan was talking today about the Emergent church, I thought of something the high school pastor at my church did at a church retreat recently. First, the worship band sang a rendition of Alicia Keys’ “No One” as a worship song, which was fantastic. Then the pastor talked to the kids about the lyrics to the song, which talk about how “No one can get in the way of what I’m feeling… When the rain is pouring down and my heart is hurting, you will always be around…” It was a great example to me of what Ryan was talking about- how we can take cultural signs and re- attribute different meanings to them, blurring the lines between the secular and sacred.

week 3- Barker, Chapter 6

January 28, 2008

Barker’s discussion on cultural imperialism versus hybridity and globalization was very interesting. I would say that most people from my home town (Memphis, TN- southern culture) would adhere to the global imperialism idea. We are taking over the world through our culture and economy. Though most of these people have never really visited these other countries who have apparently mindlessly taken on American culture (except for maybe a beach trip or two), they think that we Americans rule over the cultures of the world, for we indeed are the best and everyone wants to be like us. I honestly have to fight to get myself out of this mentality, for it is so ingrained within me. I was therefore given much hope through Barker’s explanation of globalization and hybridity. Cultures different from those found in the United States can take aspects of what they find in “American” culture, and they can tweak it to make it their own. This gives value and dignity to other people groups and other cultures.

Week 3- Response to Jim’s Blog

January 28, 2008

I agree with Jim wholeheartedly that youth ministry will look different if all of this missional church stuff starts actually taking shape. Chap Clark talked about a model of church in which youth groups would disappear. Instead, adults would become involved in small groups of families, in which each adult would care for the kids of their friends. Kids would grow up knowing they were loved and cared for by at least 10 adults, and there would be little need of a stress on “relational ministry” in youth groups. I wrote in my blog about how that scares me, because youth is where I have placed my focus. But why should it scare me? If the Kingdom is being proclaimed and embodied, if kids are being loved, if families are more tightly knit… isn’t that what I desire to accomplish in working in youth ministry? I am often hit by my own needs in ministry and how I allow those needs to direct my path. Today was one of those days.

Week 3- Wednesday

January 28, 2008

So here is my latest conflict of interest: I love what we are talking about in class, and I love a lot of these models. Giving people a voice, not allowing them to be passive consumers of “church,” creating people who are sent into the world around them… I believe that these things must be a part of the Kingdom and the church. In order to do this, I do not see how a church can exist past 100 people maximum. In that case, how is a church going to hire a youth worker such as myself? If the best thing for people and for the church is to stay small, give everyone a voice, do youth ministry within families… then what role does a youth worker play? These are questions that I do not want to ask myself.

Week 3- Barker, Chapter 5

January 28, 2008

Barker was much more interesting this week. It was interesting to read about how culture affects the body. He says that the body has been worked over by culture, saturated by cultural signs, fragmented into separate identities by cultural consumption. Essentially, the body is malleable and is shaped by culture. This is such a difficult thing to observe among youth. We learned in one of my youth ministry classes that the age of menarche has reduced from something like 15 years old to 11.7 years old today. Whether this is due to culture or some other factors, one cannot know for sure; but I will guarantee that culture plays some sort of role. Culture is a direct influence (though not the only influence) on anorexia and other diseases with food, along with the recent behavior of cutting. The body has certainly become malleable, to sometimes deadly proportions.

Week 3- Cobb, Chapter 3

January 28, 2008

I thought it was so interesting to read Cobb’s explanation of the life and thought of Paul Tillich. I would place myself very much in the beginning stages of Tillich’s thought, believing that culture can catch glimpses of God and reveal to us ways in which God  is at work. I have not come to the point, as he did, in which I have lost the hope that God can be seen through culture. I do, however, understand how he got there. I can also see that his understanding that the brokenness, weakness, and cry for help is the loudest voice we can see in culture, and this shows us humanity’s search for something bigger than themselves. I do not discount this brokenness, though, as a glimpse of God.

Week 3- Bevans, Chapter 3

January 28, 2008

I agreed wholeheartedly with what Bevans said about not limiting ourselves to one model to describe the ultimate truth of a reality. Models capture reality, but not the full reality. Thus we need several different models to understand anything. I wrote a paper a while back about the atonement, and felt this to be absolutely true. While I may gravitate toward a Christus Victor understanding of what happened on the cross, I cannot completely dismiss the substitionary model of the atonement. There is truth in each of the models, and my call is to hold them together in order to get a complete picture of what happened. I may stress one above the other, but I must always remember that a model cannot ever capture the complete reality of the atonement.

Week 3- Monday

January 20, 2008

I saw The Great Debaters last week, a movie about a  debate team from an African American college that competed against and beat Harvard during the 1930s. It was an incredibly difficult and yet inspiring movie to watch, depicting the horrors of racism in the 30s as well as the small triumphs won along the way. As I left the movie, I thought to myself that I cannot imagine what it would have been like watching that movie as an African American. With all of this talk of contextualized theology, we must also be doing contextualized “intake of all life experiences.” Just as I must attempt to take in the Bible through the eyes of a black man, I must also attempt to take in this movie from the eyes of a black man. I was able to leave the movie, be affected, but continue in my everyday life. A movie like that can become somewhat of a “Oh, gosh, that was moving, and wasn’t that awful, and I am so glad we have come so far, yada yada…” Yet if I could see the movie through the eyes of someone who has been so affected by those realities, my life would be changed by it. I want that change. May I try to experience MLK day tomorrow with that in mind.

Week 2- Response to Darren’s Blog

January 20, 2008

I liked Darren’s thoughts on whether or not we can apply all this stuff on “culture” to the Kingdom of God. On the one hand, I would like to say that the Kingdom of God is like the very very very best of culture. But then I would be playing into the ideas of the Leavis and Matthew Arnold, that culture is about the very best in society. In our definitions, it is the everyday life and expressions of people that is culture. All cultures are equally affirmed. Thus, how can you place the Kingdom of God alongside of other cultures, because it is going to have a higher value by nature? Yet the Kingdom of God does have its cultural aspects: people gathered together, living a certain way together, sharing practices together, etc… In many ways it does look like a particular culture. Thus, I don’t know what you would call it. You probably could say that it rises above the idea of culture. Interesting.