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Friday, April 15, 2011

Young Adult Book Review

One of the great thing about my job when I was a youth pastor and now as a guidance counselor is that I get to be a cultural exegete. I get to dig into the culture (probably sub-culture) of teenagers and see what it says, figure out how it impacts teenagers, and use it as a means to tell a story whether it be about motivation, reconciliation, character, courage, forgiveness, empathy, bullying, boundaries, hope, dreams, meaning, purpose, friendship, community, etc. I use music, movies, books, fashion, language, places/spaces, etc to help understand the world of teenagers for me, them, youth workers, teachers, and parents.

So with my new position, I've been very intentional about asking good exegetical questions about the students world in my building. What are you watching, listening to, and reading? Where are you going/where are you hanging out? Who are you going with? What are you doing? All of these questions and more.

One of the worlds that I've always talked about tapping into is the literature of teenagers...specifically the books that they are reading. Two books I have read over the past year have been The Hunger Games Trilogy and Unwind. Both books are Dystopian books (think opposite of utopian).

Even though I'm late to the game, here's my attempt a review:

The Hunger Games Trilogy:

Great series! Loved this book about post-war America that is divided into 13 districts and rules by a central government. There is lots of death (grim and gruesome), propaganda, war, violence, a love triangle (nothing sexual), addiction, courage, self-discovery, sacrifice, and lots of twist and turns that affect those coming of age. It is an amazing non-stop ride of action, adventure, and suspense with lots of character development along the way. This is not your momma's young adult book, but well worth it. My wife even loved it!


This is one intense book not only in the plot but also in it's content. This is post-Second Civil War which is fought under the umbrella of the abortion issue. This book deals with the cultural, familial, relational, political, and spiritual dynamics that affect the meaning and sanctity of life. This book and it's issues are not for the faint of heart. Bring your thinking cap as you wrestle with the themes that are laid out in the story of three kids on the run from perceived meaning to real value. You will dig this book, it's themes, and how they make you take stuff of things that matter in life.

(bu to my good friend/mentor, great thinker, book devourer, and adolescent guru, Marko, and his many book reviews for inspiring me in this area)

Monday, April 04, 2011

Shot Rings Out in the Memphis Sky

As America watches college men play for a basketball national title, may we take a moment to remember a man who lived and died for so much more. May you and I remember the humble and passionate Martin Luther King Jr. who gave his life for something greater than himself: his God, his country and his people.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Takers Not Makers

It's a sad stat and state we find ourselves in as Americans: we take more than we make. An editorial article in the Wall Street Journal by Stephen Moore outlines this fundamental shift in values. Now I know he is talking about some seemingly archaic industries, but trend is alarming none the less and raises the question...where are we going as a nation?

Here is a taste of the article:

"More Americans work for the government than work in construction, farming, fishing, forestry, manufacturing, mining and utilities combined. We have moved decisively from a nation of makers to a nation of takers. Nearly half of the $2.2 trillion cost of state and local governments is the $1 trillion-a-year tab for pay and benefits of state and local employees. Is it any wonder that so many states and cities cannot pay their bills?"

Read the rest of the article here.

But you know what else I find interesting...this is true in the Church. Our American culture, ecclesiastical consumerism, and church values have led to this. We'd rather sit in our pews, chairs, or theater style seating and take in a message and music without having to give sacrificially out of time, money, and/or talents. We leave it to the pastors, ministers, and priests to do the works of ministry where all of us should be making, creating, and creating ministry opportunities. Francis Chan in his book, Crazy Love, talk about the characteristics of takers in the Church or as he puts in, Lukewarm Christians (Chapter 4).

(bu to David S via Facebook status update)

The Hunger Site

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