Friday, March 31, 2006

Another experiment

Looking for a Few Good College Students. - Ed. Note: This link will remain at the top of the blog until March 31. Scroll down for new content.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Help: Red Sox / Yankees by the Numbers

My sister in-law Tara (native New Yorker now a Massachusetts teacher) emailed the following desperate plea for help:

need your help...ok i am NOT a math teacher i teach writing to 5th graders BUT i still have to be part of a 5th grade MATH FAIR..yes math fair...anyway, two boys i paired up are rival NY/Boston fans. funny cause the boston fan is actually from the bronx!!!!! moved here like 4 years ago...the NY fan is from LAWRENCE just loves the yankees. anyway, can u think of some kind of project relating to/ comparing the two teams...something good for 12 year old ...maybe statistics or comparisons ...something relating to math...even will be fun for both of them and in the end we will look better no matter what but still fun ...see what u can come up with...even ask jeremy [what's with the "even" part of that?] if u have a chance. HURRY!! HELP. i stink at this stuff.
My response follows:
What about... Ratios of: - World Series Championships - American League Penants - Bitter disappointments - Years between chamionships - All-stars and hall of famers - Red Sox has-beens who won championships with the Yankees and vice versa Financial impact of Babe Ruth trade on both teams (short and long-term) Statistical comparison between all-stars at the prime of their careers (Nomar v. Jeter; Jim Rice v. Reggie Jackson; Ted Williams v. Dimaggio; Babe Ruth v. Babe Ruth) and the relationship between individual performance and team success. The amount of pressure released from Red Sox nation when they finally beat the Yankess after 80+ years.
Any other thoughts from the blogosphere? Show some love for Mrs. Laboy.

"The Myth about Girls Going Wild"

Just in time for spring break: "Why alcohol has become a handy excuse."


MLB decides its finally time to chase away the shadows.

Sign me up

The latest issue of Sojourners' e-newsletter offers this in response to the recent San Francisco "Battle Cry" in the ongoing evangelical "culture war."

"I have a proposal: Let's do an honest appraisal of teenage sexuality and lifestyle. Let's evaluate how the values of youth are shaped, and what forces are at play to move them in one direction or another. And let's ignore those political blocs that want to utilize vital family issues for their own agenda."
Where do I sign up?

Ready to meet my Maker

Today I go to meet my Maker (not that!) -- this weekend, in Florida, at an Encounter retreat with Word of Christ International Church. I'm the last in my immediate family to take the plunge, with my dad and brothers having gone in January, and my wife and mother and sister and sister-in-law (and a couple of friends) there in February. They all describe the experience with superlatives and extravagant metaphors. Can't wait. Time to rEfOcUs, recharge, refresh, and all the other appropriate re-words. p.s. Thanks to the donors who made this much need respite possible!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Myspace and political activism

NPR reports on it here.

Someone emailed me this important reminder

Keep this man in prayer.

Student protests and education

Ben wrestles with the educational impact skipping school to protest has on the student activists in California. I posed a question in response, which I'm reposting here as well:

Is there a way for educators to harness the energy of the protestors in the classroom? That is, keep the immigration conversation going, but apply it to particular subjects such as: social studies teachers assigning current event projects; math teachers examining the economics of immigration; literature profs examine the voices of protest and dissent. Many of our struggling students struggle because our schools can’t/won’t engage them about things that matter to them. Obviously the immigration issue has struck a nerve. Hundreds of thousands of high schoolers are now engaged. Does this create an opportunity?
What do you think?

Why can't God look like Aretha Franklin?

"I admit that the Bible does not specifically mention Aretha Franklin. But when it comes to thinking about God, most people's minds are full of all those familiar images and they just get stuck. ... So why not Aretha? She's big, she's bold and you're going to have to listen to what she's saying."
- Eric Metaxas, as told to Terry Mattingly, who also writes:
"Metaxas has other skewed takes on big issues. He thinks that using sex for self-gratification makes as much sense as using Rembrandt paintings to line birdcages. He's interested in life's big questions, questions like how the universe _ including all those Chevy Camaros in Queens and Staten Island _ exploded out of something smaller than the period at the end of a sentence. "Is this theology? No, it isn't the way that intellectuals talk in cathedral pulpits and faculty clubs, said Metaxas. But it is the way that ordinary people talk on Friday nights while hanging out with their friends. "'At some point Christians are going to have to use humor and parody because that's the language of the culture,' he said. 'That's what people consider sharp and entertaining and real. ... You can keep serving up tea-and-crumpets moralism and logical arguments and it's not going to matter because people aren't going to listen.'"

I had lunch with Eric last week. He's a brilliantly funny, warmly engaging man, and his Everything You Need to Know about God book's on my must-read list this year. Previously, I only knew him from his Veggie Tales classics: Even Fishslappers Need a Second Chance and God Made You Special (two of Judah's favorites!).

Too Legit?

MC Hammer has a blog.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Judah's favorite things - Tag

During dinner last night I asked Judah what his "favorite thing" is. His response was philosophical: "What kind of favorite? I have lots of favorites." So I got more specific: favorite toy, food, etc. He got totally into it, so we kept adding more categories; at number six or seven, I realized I should record his list. Here goes:
Sport: Baseball Movie: Star Wars Cartoon: Jimmy Neutron Toy: Spiderman Book: Batman and Chronicles of Narnia (tie) Song: Father's House School subject: Art Clothes: None Pajamas: Batman shorts Color: Blue and Green (tie) Food: Mac & cheese & cornbread (tie) Animal: Lion and tiger (tie) Vacation: Massachusetts and upstate (tie) Hobbies: Play and swim in pool (tie) Dessert: Chocolate and strawberry cupcakes Places to go: Museums, zoo, and aquarium (tie) Park: Owl's Head Park Activity: Swings Preacher: Dad and Grandpa (tie) Bible characters: David, Solomon, and Abraham (tie) Holidays: Christmas and Easter (tie) Day: "When I have no school or Sunday school" Prayer request: "That I'll stop missing Nonna" People: Mom, Dad, and cousins Willie, Amber, and Seth Girlfriend: Mom
Judah and I are turning this into a game of tag. Next up: Micah (Matt and Katy's son), Aaron (Ralph's son), Em (Tony and Deanna's daughter), Sam (Rudy's son), and the guys at The Dad's Group.

Ideas inspire teens to action

Matt called our attention to it. Now Ben and Rudy are exploring the role new (Myspace) and old media (radio DJs) respectively have played in mobilizing the widespread youth activism in response to the immigration issue. Whatever one's political views on the immigration protests (pro/con), it's exciting to see that ideas, virally spread, still provoke action.

Teenage boy prostitution in lower Manhattan

It's on the rise.

Who knew?

"My life is in shambles. It is crazy. It couldn't get any crazier. I'm just trying to stay sane." - Barry Bonds to the AP.

More on that sinkhole

"'All she said was that she was making a turn and the street swallowed her up,' Nieves said. 'All she saw was the water and the pipe . . . It looked like Niagara Falls. She's in excruciating pain. She's grateful that she's alive.'"


This little boy is now an orphan. Four months after he was born, his mother Jennifer died of cancer. Yesterday, two days after turning four, his father Mark died of cancer, at just 30 years old. His name is Micah Palmer. Please pray for him and his stepmother Amy. Two months after she and Mark wed, he received his diagnosis. Just over a year later, she sleeps without her lover. Diana and I read about Micah and Amy yesterday as both Rudy and Tony reflected on Mark's passing. Our hearts broke and we did what we could: pray. Please join us.

Monday, March 27, 2006

"Teen's discovery could save millions of lives"

From CNN's 360 Blog:

"For years, scientists have been working to find what can kill E. coli. Well, finally, someone found it. It turns out there is a good bacteria in yogurt that secretes a protein that kills E. coli. We know this now because a very smart, hard-working researcher discovered the ripe old age of 13. "Serena Fasano, now 16 years old, earned a patent recently on her discovery, so we thought we'd interview her on '360.' We learned Serena has spent countless hours of her free time in a lab and that she's very, very bright. She's also a normal high school kid with lots of friends. Yet, this 'normal' kid's after-school activities could soon save the lives of millions of children."

Why I'm working from home today

A water main break around the corner from where I live suspended subway service into Manhattan, and caused a sinkhole to swallow this car. Thank God the driver was not seriously hurt.

Immigration round-up

Who holds Rupert Murdoch accountable?

Conservatives love Fox News. And Rupert Murdoch loves conservatives, especially "social values" conservatives, because their loyal viewership makes him lots of money. Rupert Murdoch bought Myspace last year. The children of his Fox News viewers (not to mention children with other political persuasions) use Myspace (66 million registered users at last count). Rupert Murdoch sells "Naughty" adspace on Myspace that exploits those children. Rupert Murdoch is just one of hundreds of business execs who manipulate teens for profit. See for example, Merchants of Cool for a brilliant explanation of how the process works. In the parlance of Murdoch's marketers (and Viacom and WB and others) , teenage boys are "mooks" and girls are "midriffs." Still thinking through the whole accountability thing, but there's gotta be something more than just the shrill fingerpointing of the so-called culture warriors. What do you think? Update: I'm suspicious this is not the answer. HT: Rudy. Nor is this. HT: TallSkinnyKiwi, Bob.

Get to know your teenagers

Just because you and your kid were inseperable when s/he was 5 doesn't mean you really know what's going on in his/her world now that s/he's 15. If you've never visited his/her myspace account, do so ... now. The odds are overwhelming that s/he has one. Even more troubling, so do his/her friends (over whom you likely exert little-to-no influence). Be forewarned, however, that what you find there will be disturbing. Resist the urge to explode in anger and issue unenforceable demands about never going online or using myspace again. Use your discoveries to have the kinds of conversations you've long suspected need to be had but might have avoided. Once engaged, remain vigilant. Please, because you love your teenagers, take this warning seriously.

0-3, but George Mason's the real story

So what the Big East was 0-3 in the Elite 8. When Cinderella shows up the the ball, nothing else matters. I almost hate to do this (given my stellar prognostications this year) but: here's to Cinderella winning over Prince Charming next Monday night.

The hearts of the mullahs

... are in the hand of the Lord. Ref.

Some of the good guys

Sportscenter turned me on to these guys.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Rudy would be proud

... of my cousin Juliann Vikse. She's a Princeton sophomore and newly elected publisher of the Princeton Tory, a conservative political campus newspaper. She started blogging here.

Humble pie tastes bad

This NCAA tourney's been unkind to my East Coast ego. Even after last week's bracket busting, I still boasted on JT's blog this morning about UConn and 'Nova making the Final Four. Instead, UConn suffered one of the greatest upset losses EVER, and as of 6:05 EST, Nova's down 5 at the half. Speaking of JT: gang related violence this past week at the college where he and Edgar Esqueda and our summer 2005 interns minister, led to two students being stabbed and a third suffering a gun shot wound. Keep them in prayer.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Funeral arrangements for Michael Ward

I'm going on Sunday afternoon.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Time magazine is asking the important questions

More on a media saturated generation from, "Are Kids too plugged in?" (Time, 3/20/2006):

"Today 82 percent of kids are online by the seventh grade, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

"The big finding of a 2005 survey of Americans ages 8 to 18 by the Kaiser Family Foundation is not that kids were spending a larger chunk of time using electronic media -- that was holding steady at 6.5 hours a day (could it possibly get any bigger?) -- but that they were packing more media exposure into that time: 8.5 hours' worth, thanks to "media multitasking" -- listening to iTunes, watching a DVD and IMing friends all at the same time. ...

"But there is no doubt that the phenomenon has reached a kind of warp speed in the era of Web-enabled computers, when it has become routine to conduct six IM conversations, watch American Idol on TV and Google the names of last season's finalists all at once.

"But what's the impact of this media consumption? And how are these multitasking devices changing how kids learn, reason and interact with one another? ..."

Start a Chain Reaction

UPCOMING CHAIN REACTION WEEKENDS Waco, TX: Fri. 4/7 – Sat.4/8 Baltimore, MD: Fri. 4/21 – Sat. 4/22 Lowell, MA: Fri. 5/5 – Sat. 5/6 FOR SUMMER DATES AND REGISTRATION INFO: WWW.CHAINREACTION.BE
The following email comes from the host pastor of the upcoming Chain Reaction Waco:
Hi Matt, Last week, I was on a mission trip in Mexico when you e-mailed me a statistic from Jay Stack that said, "88% of our students will leave the church after high school, but that number drops to 5% when parents model their faith and get their family involved in reaching others." When I heard that I thought, "I have to get this information out to my congregation because this is what the heart of Chain Reaction is all about! There's no better way to promote it than to do it with truth." Well, I did share this information and concluded by asking our church if they thought these 24 hours would be a good investment for the future of their family?!? Bottom line: The people "got it". On Monday morning I read the names of 91 people who signed up and are ready to engage in ministry and the most amazing thing; almost all of those signed up are families. Matt, I share this to encourage you and all the other pastors hosting a Chain Reaction to get the message out. Give your church the opportunity to "get it". They will!!! Thanks for facilitating ministry in "The Body". Kevin Harrison Senior Pastor Victorious Life Church

Urban Youth Workers - Register Today

Urgent Prayer Needed

For my friend Tracy Ellis Ward and her children, as husband and dad Michael (42) passed away unexpectedly Wednesday night. For Diana's Aunt Mary, who begins an experimental round of agressive chemotherapy in two weeks after a 7 year battle with cancer.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

People turn up in the most unlikely places

I found this pic of Rudy and me over at DJ Chuang's Flickr site. From the Acton Institute deal last September.

"Thinking about possibilities, about blue-sky possibilities"

"These seminarians, particularly the young ones, are less interested in making a career of religion than in taking their religion into other careers." Article. Via.

We got ourselves a miracle

By God's grace, today some dear friends and I experienced Philippians 2. I mean, really experienced it, not just talked about it. What appeared to be fractured and broken was reconciled and restored. Not gonna say much more than that here, but wanted to give God a shout out anyway.

Decriminalize Matthew 25

"I was a stranger and you invited me in." - Jesus
If certain U.S. congressmen have their way, clergy, soup kitchen volunteers, and others could potentially be criminally liable for serving illegal immigrants. Help Nueva Esperanza and others resist the proposed legislation (H.R. 4437).

Are you tired of phone psychics?

It's been interesting to see the ads Google places here since I signed up for the AdSense program. Supposedly Google's famed algorithm assesses the content of this blog to determine what kinds of ads would best suit my audience. So when they decided to place an ad for an online psychic service (as opposed to the antiquated telephone variety), what does that say about my content? And my readers? Speaking of strange Google-quirks, how is it that "blog," "Google," and "AdSense" all show up as typos on Blogger's spell check (which is owned by Google)?

It's hard out there for more than pimps

From the "We Still Have Work to Do" file:

"By 2004, 50 percent of black men in their 20's who lacked a college education were jobless, as were 72 percent of high school dropouts."

"In 1995, 16 percent of black men in their 20's who did not attend college were in jail or prison; by 2004, 21 percent were incarcerated. By their mid-30's, 6 in 10 black men who had dropped out of school had spent time in prison."

"In the inner cities, more than half of all black men do not finish high school."

From: New York Times, "Plight Deepens for Black Men, Studies Warn," 03/20/06

What might have been

Contrary to popular opinion, New York was not Billy Graham's swan song. He had another mountain to climb last weekend in New Orleans, where he spoke at his son's Celebration of Hope Crusade. In a controversial blog post, New Orleans street evangelist Troy Bohn imagines what might have been. Be sure to read the comment.

Monday, March 20, 2006

If you find this picture disturbing

Wait 'til you read the rest of the story. HT: Rudy.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

"It's Nice to be Naughty": Myspace and S-E-X

News flash: S-E-X is vitally important to teenagers. Raging hormones, lousy role models, and societal pressures conspire to seduce their fantasies, corrupt their conversation, and tempt their lifestyle. Sadly Myspace understands this and exploits it to no end. Everytime I log on, or just visit the Myspace homepage, ads featuring half naked knock-outs scream for me to meet naughty singles. Even worse, unsolicited cyber-sluts regularly invite me to be their "friends," supposedly because my "happily married" profile makes me attractive. More maddening, while it forbids explicit nudity, Myspace welcomes photos of self-disrespecting teenagers passing themselves off as erotic playthings. With user names like "Radioactive B!+@#," "Suckanut Slut," "Boyish Sex Machine," and "NaughtyXXXAsh," teens (or adolescent adults or pedophiles passing themselves off as teens) boast of sexual curiosities, and real or imagined sex-capades that make locker room braggadocio appear PG. I agree with Tony that we need to engage, but it's infuriating to see kids manipulated so grotesquely. Sorry that this post is more of a rant than a help. Read this, this, this, and this for more constructive thoughts. While I'm ranting, beware the "Next Blog" button on Blogspot. Not every blogger shares the same values, and apparently Blogspot doesn't forbid X-rated content. While the randomization of "Next Blog" can be nice, it can just as easily be naughty.

Top o' the St. Paddy's mornin' to ya

My wife's father's family is Irish, but as he passed away when she was young and she wasn't particularly close to his relatives growing up, she never really celebrated St. Patrick's Day. But her heritage means our son is 1/4 Irish (and 100% American with equal parts Italian, Puerto Rican and Norwegian). We took advantage of the day so I could cook with Guinness (Extra Stout), a first for this aspiring chef. Thanks again to Emeril, the lamb stew and baked cabbage was kicked way up a few notches. Bill, Boom2's boyfriend and our resident expert on all things Irish, raved about it saying it brought back fond childhood memories. We also took the occassion to teach Judah about St. Patrick, hero to church planters, emerging church types and missional Christians everywhere. Again we turned to Bill for insight, and he shared the story in wonderful detail. What I love most about St. Pat was his model for engaging the unchurched on matters of faith. His method has been called The Celtic Way of Evangelism and is described as:

  1. Establishing community with people, or bringing them into the fellowship of your community of faith;
  2. Within fellowship, engaging them in conversation, ministry, prayer, and worship;
  3. In time, as they discover that they now believe, inviting them to commit.
Using this method, he is credited with having planted 700 churches in a thoroughly pagan country and ordaining 1,000 indigenous priests who collectively converted an entire nation within two generations.

Definitely an acquired taste

More on Christians and Booze.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Nice shot

The picture, I mean. I have no idea if the game shot actually went in. UPDATE: Apparently it did, as this guy (Juan Felix) buried eight three-pointers and scored a career-high 31 points for 10th-seeded Alabama as they upset Marquette, 90-85.

Please pray

An 8th grader in my son's school was hit by a car this morning. Initial reports were stable, with "just" a broken leg. But now the doctors have detected some internal bleeding. Please pray for her.

Bracket Busted - already eating crow

East Coast arrogrance cost me on Day 1 of the NCAA tournament. The bottom line: 8-8. Loser picks included Syracuse (Finals), Seton Hall (Sweet 16), Iona, Marquette, UNC Wilmington, Utah State, Nevada, and Oklahoma. Better luck (and maybe a bit more humilty?) next year.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Adopt-A-School: An Idea Whose Time Has Come?

Nationwide, there are:

  • 57.2 million students in nursery through high school (public and private)
  • 49.3 million are in in public schools
  • (Plus 15.2 million college and grad students - FYI). Source: U S Census
Those students (excluding college and grad) are spread across: Conversely, there are:
  • More than 300,000 Protestant churches
  • More than 20,000 Catholic churches Source: Barna

That means 3 churches could adopt every 1 school. Why they should.

Del Rio's Big Apples

- Ed. note: I was recently asked to critique four youth ministry resources for a national organization. Here are my thoughts in order of preference.

One critique applies generally to all four: none of them relate their respective teachings to urban youth ministry. The stories that are told come largely out of a suburban cultural context, and there isn’t a discernable attempt to assess whether the principles are transferable outside of that context. They also seem to assume a paradigm of paid, full-time youth workers, while bivocational volunteers comprise the youth ministry ranks in most inner cities, and, for that matter, mainline congregations. In an era of repopulation back into urban centers and disproportionate cultural influence by cities, youth ministry needs to be reimagined. 1. Helping Teenagers in Crisis is a refreshing, if challenging, change of pace for youth ministers tired of cliché answers to complicated, real-life issues. Teenagers confront an inherently tumultuous world filled with hormonal changes, identity questions, and family and relationship drama, even before the jarring impact of crisis. Writing out of their own extensive experience, Van Pelt and Hancock offer a useable framework for how to approach ministry circumstances that take readers beyond more limited experiences. They ground the theoretical and prescriptive with compelling anecdotes that explore the good, bad, and ugly of crisis intervention, while offering hope that even if we get it wrong sometimes, that’s usually beside the point. 4 Big Apples 2. Do They Run When They See You Coming? asks the question begging for scrutiny behind the walls of many of our evangelical enclaves: Why is so much of what Christians do irrelevant to the people Jesus commissioned us to lovingly reach? Even better, it does so in a non-threatening way. If HTIC ratchets up the intensity by digging deep around a focused subject, DTR is more like Sports Center – a collection of highlights that give a feel for the action without all the gripping drama of the play-by-play. It offers enough sound-bites to tell the story without all the overtime nail-biting. On the whole, it’s an excellent resource to provoke youth ministers to rethink how and why Christ still calls us to be fishers of men. 3 Big Apples 3. Am I good Enough? makes the subject of Luther’s “grace-not-works” epiphany and Paul’s “righteousness as filthy rags” lament approachable for teens. While there’s nothing particularly new here (even borrowing from C.S. Lewis’ timeless “Liar, Lunatic, Lord” apologetic) it provides a readable context for young people to understand Christ as Savior, the cross as redemptive, and the resurrection as real, relevant, and personal. 2 Big Apples 4. While the producers of the The Gospel Journey should be applauded for attempting a multimedia training tool for teens to reach their peers, this product is flawed. On the whole, the teaching is fine as a primer on the gospel, and Greg Stier again demonstrates his skill as a communicator. But the mountaintop setting feels contrived; the attempted “reality show” dynamics feel less real than primetime alternatives; and the characters come across as stereotypes. The text-only tracts are even more disappointing as small font size, no white space, and generic graphics are unlikely to lure teen readers. Great concept; good teaching; unsatisfying results. 1 Big Apple

If Rudy likes U2, will he really like Friday Mourning?

These people think so. Is this just copycat Christianity, or do you think tools like this are helpful?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The web is evil, part 2

At least, some use it for evil...

"An Internet chat room that streamed video of live child molestations has been shut down, and 27 people have been charged."

Pimps: Slavemasters for a modern era

"Eighty percent of the women were sexually assaulted by pimps via sadistic sex; 71% of pimps use drugs to control the women; and 34% of the women received death threats from pimps personally or to their family." -- Raymond, Hughes, Gomez, “Sex Trafficking In the United States, Coalition Against Trafficking of Women Study,” March 2001
Yet Three 6 Mafia would have us believe that, "It's hard out here for a pimp," and Oscar voters apparently agree. More on why it's hard out there for the pimped, here.

Can we Charismatics laugh about it?

Rudy thinks this is funny. I agree.

“Everybody he slapped on the forehead did a tongue, but I was at a loss for words. Until I remembered Tim Duncan’s slam dunk. Then I went for it with a, ‘Hallelujah Manu Ginobili.’ I heard everybody around me saying ‘yes Lord,’ so I figured I had the Holy Ghost. Then I let loose with a ‘Hallelujah Manu Ginobili Hedo Turkoglu,’ and it was on. Everybody started jumping up and down. I thought ‘Oh yeah? Take this…’ and I fired off a ‘Hallelujah Manu Ginobili Hedo Turkoglu Slava Medvedenko! MEDvedenko! Whoooaaa MedveDENKO!’ It felt like a tongues triple-double.”
Reminds me of the old Carman lyric:
"Untie my bowtie, who stolla my honda?"

Taina and Elsa, showin' some luv

They set up Flickr accounts. Check them here: The Del Rio Boys, posted by Taina Diana, Taina, and Elsa, posted by Elsa

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Looking for a few good college students

Ten years ago, 13 young people, primarily high school students, started an organic, grassroots organism we call Generation Xcel. I was one of them. Three years ago I returned to Xcel as its first director with the goal of seeing if the organism could transform into an organization while preserving its indigenous "by youth for youth" DNA. That remains to be seen, as the transition has been marked by more than our share of growing pains and financial challenges. But today I had one of those aha moments. Actually, I had a similar thought about six months ago, but without someone with whom to share it immediately, it evaporated almost as quickly as it appeared. Today it returned, only this time I had four NYCUP volunteers (InterVarsity students from NYU and Rutgers on a spring break mission trip) with whom to dream, a grad student and three undergrads. The basic idea is fairly simple (or maybe not?). Just as thirteen inspired, but totally unqualified and unskilled teenagers took the idea of starting a youth center and ran with it in the face of impossible odds (no money, space, equipment, or paid staff), and it materialized five months later; is it possible that college students could take their $100K educations and career aspirations, unite them around a common purpose, and help shape a "by youth for youth" organization that can carry Generation Xcel into the future? Call it fanciful, but could we assemble a team of 7-10 students majoring in, say, strategic management, marketing/public relations, film, graphic design, social work, education, programming/web development, accounting, entreprenurship/finance, and journalism (or any combination thereof, with a dozen or more other possibilities thrown in) for, say, 2-4 semesters, who would treat the organizational development process as seriously as our 13 cofounders did, to build a truly by youth for youth organization that lasts? (Wow, that sentence is ridiculously long!) Could it work? My ad hoc market research suggests that it could. So does my gut. (Or is that indigestion?) Something to explore further with my campus ministry friends. Interested applicants can email resumes here.

The web is evil

So said a friend after reading a MySpace profile posted by a 16 year-old girl we both know and love. She attended our youth group for a year or two before her mom pulled her out of the church over a misunderstanding three years ago. We haven't seen her since then, but she found us online and invited us to be her "friends." Apparently now she's living in LA (with mom?) and caught in a web of ... . More to pray for.

IFC Premieres "Indie Down Under"

Xcel Board member Rick Edrich announced this afternoon that his film production company,

"Spot has teamed up with IFC and Tourism Australia to bring 'Inside Oz,' premiering Saturday, March 18 at 8 p.m. on IFC! This half-hour long special produced, shot and edited by Spot Creative, Inc. gives you front row seats to the annual 7-day celebration of Australian art, commerce, culture and history held in LA known as Australia Week, or 'G’Day LA.' We had a blast producing the bit, having the chance to chat it up during interviews with huge Aussie celebs like Hugh Jackman, Eric Bana, and Olivia Newton-John, as well as John Travolta, who hosted the big Penfolds Icon black tie gala dinner. We even got to talk to Steve Irwin, 'The Crocodile Hunter.' "The show also highlights almost everything Australia, from fashion, wine, film, arts, and lifestyle to indigenous culture and tourism. So sit back and relax as we take you 'Inside Oz' this Saturday on IFC. It might even inspire you to take the long trip Down Under!"
In addition to its commercials and corporate video work, Spot's award winning independent features, documentaries, and short films can be seen on IFC, Sundance Film Channel, and coming soon to a theater near you. My personal favorites include the Family Portrait music video (co-produced with Generation Xcel) and a 20th anniversary documentary on my parent's ministry.

New pics posted

At my Flickr account. Samples: Judah's Bowl-a-Thon, 03/11/06 At the Manhattan Children's Museum Subway actor Uncle Jon and Elsa Cousin Jesse and Coral Cousin Seth-let The Charmer

Monday, March 13, 2006

After years of political wrangling

Work finally commenced on the Ground Zero Memorial today. The politicking continues, however.

LES teen kills self; mom blames bullies

More drama from the neighborhood...

"A grieving Manhattan mother whose teen son jumped into the East River is being tormented by a heart-wrenching question: Did relentless bullying drive him to take his own life?" Story.

Times they are a changin

Over at Microsoft, where young blood is hard to come by.

New Man preview

Michael Mowery took some pictures of my dad and me for an upcoming Father's Day feature that I wrote for New Man magazine. Here are a few of the pics.

Big East Invitational

That's what the good people at the NCAA should rename March Madness. Just because I can: I'm picking U Conn over Syracuse in the Finals, with Pittsburgh and Villanova rounding out the Final Four. More madness: Why Oral Roberts might be the best 16th seed ever. My cousin James Kruse would be proud!


"If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town." Matthew 10:14-15

Counterculture DJ

My boy DJ Kenny Mitchell represents the movement (and the neighborhood) in last Thursday's New York Times, in an article called "Xtreme Christianity in goth and punk":

"What's countercultural is the elements of their faith, why they're not living the lifestyle of MTV, trying to attain the superstar status with cars and chicks, but working on community and healing."

Friday, March 10, 2006

Adopt-A-School experiment

Sign up to transform schools. [This anouncement will stay at the top of this blog until 03/10/06. Scroll down for new content.]

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

No more heroes?

"One by one, the athletes we are most drawn to, the ones most able to make us marvel at their ability, also make us cringe at their lack of character." OJ. Kobe. Rose. McGwire/Sosa/Palmeiro. Bonds. They've all failed as heroes. Only one never fails.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Boys help cops catch Myspace sex fiend

"Five boys who posted a fake profile of a 15-year-old girl as an Internet prank helped police arrest a 48-year-old man who tried to meet the fictitious teenager for sex, authorities said Monday."
Meanwhile, in an unrelated incident:
"Two men were arrested last week in what prosecutors said were the first federal sexual assault charges involving MySpace. The unrelated cases involved Connecticut girls who were 11 and 14, the FBI said."


Forget the asterisk. Bad Boy Barry joins the ranks of Pete Rose and Shoeless Joe as disgraced baseball icons destined for infamy. Bombshell revelations here, including:

"Beginning in 1998 with injections in his buttocks of Winstrol, a powerful steroid, Barry Bonds took a wide array of performance-enhancing drugs over at least five seasons in a massive doping regimen that grew more sophisticated as the years went on.... "[B]y 2001, when Bonds broke Mark McGwire's single-season home-run record (70) by belting 73, Bonds was using two designer steroids referred to as the Cream and the Clear, as well as insulin, human growth hormone, testosterone decanoate (a fast-acting steroid known as Mexican beans) and trenbolone, a steroid created to improve the muscle quality of cattle. ... "Bonds gulped as many as 20 pills at a time and was so deeply reliant on his regimen that he ordered Anderson to start 'cycles' -- a prescribed period of steroid use lasting about three weeks -- even when he was not due to begin one. ... "The authors describe how Bonds turned to steroids after the 1998 season because he was jealous of McGwire. Bonds hit 37 home runs in '98 -- a nice total and the fourth most of his career at that point -- but he was ignored by fans and the media who were captivated by McGwire's 70 home runs and his duel for the record with Sammy Sosa, who hit 66 that year."

Pop Culture Musings


Monday, March 06, 2006

"I didn't want to work that hard"

"But on reflection, I realized that motivated teens need more than motivation. They need good managers who will assess their weak spots and help them to grow into success. I thought all my guy needed was motivation and an opportunity to go with his talent. I was wrong. He needed someone to instill in him a work ethic."
I can relate.

The Porpoise-Diving Life

Bill Dahl offers "Reality for the rest of us or picking up where purpose-driven peters out" over at the "Porpoise-Diving Life" website. Be provoked by a husband and wife who have "been called to work with pods of the the poor, the oppressed and the marginalized as they navigate the seas of life." Bill published the Adopt-A-School article here. While on the subject of shout-outs, check out the Youth Ministry Exchange for interesting articles and heated discussions, and the Christian Post and Next-Wave.

Old school revival?

"Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved."

The Acts 2 Jerusalem church, or the 2006 American house church?

Time magazine thinks that, "Evangelical boosters find revival everywhere," including the rise of house churches. What do you think?

Friday, March 03, 2006

Father Facts

Top Ten Father Facts

  1. 24 million children (34 percent) live absent their biological father.
  2. Nearly 20 million children (27 percent) live in single-parent homes.
  3. 1.35 million births (33 percent of all births) in 2000 occurred out of wedlock.
  4. 43 percent of first marriages dissolve within fifteen years; about 60 percent of divorcing couples have children; and approximately one million children each year experience the divorce of their parents.
  5. Over 3.3 million children live with an unmarried parent and the parent's cohabiting partner. The number of cohabiting couples with children has nearly doubled since 1990, from 891,000 to 1.7 million today.
  6. Fathers who live with their children are more likely to have a close, enduring relationship with their children than those who do not. The best predictor of father presence is marital status. Compared to children born within marriage, children born to cohabiting parents are three times as likely to experience father absence, and children born to unmarried, non-cohabiting parents are four times as likely to live in a father-absent home.
  7. About 40 percent of children in father-absent homes have not seen their father at all during the past year; 26 percent of absent fathers live in a different state than their children; and 50 percent of children living absent their father have never set foot in their father's home.
  8. Children who live absent their biological fathers are, on average, at least two to three times more likely to be poor, to use drugs, to experience educational, health, emotional and behavioral problems, to be victims of child abuse, and to engage in criminal behavior than their peers who live with their married, biological (or adoptive) parents.
  9. From 1960 to 1995, the proportion of children living in single-parent homes tripled, from 9 percent to 27 percent, and the proportion of children living with married parents declined. However, from 1995 to 2000, the proportion of children living in single-parent homes slightly declined, while the proportion of children living with two married parents remained stable.
  10. Children with involved, loving fathers are significantly more likely to do well in school, have healthy self-esteem, exhibit empathy and pro-social behavior, and avoid high-risk behaviors such as drug use, truancy, and criminal activity compared to children who have uninvolved fathers.
More here. Source: The National Fatherhood Initiative.

Baltimore Boys

Last weekend in Baltimore Judah and the Stevens clan: Joshua, Jacob, Micah, and friend Sam (R-L)
Pals. Thanks, Katy, for the pics.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Why celebrity Christianity is dangerous

It's not surprising that a video featuring a rock-and-roll singer and strippers might surface. But when the singer is Scott Stapp, who, as the former lead singer of Creed has walked a very public faith journey for over ten years, the revelations are embarrassing. Scott spoke candidly about that journey to Christianity Today in August 2004:

"What had triggered those spiritual changes in your life?

Stapp: A lot of personal things. I was hurt and beaten down. Five years ago, I had a divorce that I didn't really want. I was so busy with Creed that I don't think I ever really dealt with that emotionally. She [his ex-wife] elected not to be involved in my son's life, leaving me as a single father, and I was really worried about my little boy [Jagger, who turns 6 in October]. And there were other things that came along in the trappings of fame, things that hurt some of my relationships. So when I finally had time to reflect on everything, I was broken down to the point where I had no other way but to look up. I couldn't handle it all. I was asking a lot of questions—of myself, of God—looking for answers.

My dad always said I was hard-headed, that it would take something like that to wake me up spiritually, and I guess it did. My heart had gotten so beat up that I didn't have anything left to give. I was emotionally and spiritually dried up, so I was just searching for God. I reached out to my pastor and my father for some guidance. I was really soul searching and, I guess, on my path to coming home spiritually. And once that process began—and I'm still going through that process, and probably will for the rest of my life—that's when things started changing in my life. I started making some proper decisions, getting things in order. " Article.
The video was filmed during a "wild year" following his divorce. Pray for grace as he deals with the consequences of those actions.

Po' No Mo'

The Hip-Hop Generation has $500 Billion Spending Power.

"Hip-hop culture began in New York ghettoes in the 1970s, but has now spread across the country. Today, one in three hip-hop consumers lives outside the country's top 100 metropolitan areas."
For more on why hip-hop has revolutionized pop culture in the last 30 years, read: "WWJD (What Would Jay-Z Do): Engaging Youth Culture."

Paramilitary New Yorkers fight the bad guys

That's the plot in "Left Behind: Eternal Forces," the first video game adapted from the blockbuster books by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. (HT: Jose) What's so freaky about this, other than the obvious cash craze, is that the game is set in New York and features New Yorkers left behind by the rapture. When was the last time Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins bothered with New York, except as a plot device?

Social Entrepreneurship Conference

NYU's Business School is sponsoring this conference for the third year. I went last year and had a great time. Recommended for social service practitioners of all stripes.


He was killed in a duel. Today he gets yet another facelift.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Historic rivals nurture friendship online

"Playing a video game together allowed Redick and Morrison to blow off some steam, escape hoops talk for a while and, perhaps most important, save a few bucks on cell-phone bills. 'It's so much better,' Morrison emphasized, 'because it's free long distance.'" Link.


San Franscisco Fright

Urban Youth: History Makers

"Turntables, rap albums, oral histories and costumes will one day occupy display space in the same Washington, D.C., building that houses such national treasures as the Star Spangled Banner, the desk on which Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence and Dorothy's ruby red 'Wizard of Oz' slippers." Link.