This week's issue of New York magazine projects a radically changed New York cityscape in 2016, as city planners, architects, and developers envision population growth of 1 million in the next decade. Based on projects already in development, as well as proposed, it's a fascinating read.
100 images that changed the world
I love photography because, at its best, it transforms fleeting moments into timeless images that have the power to move and inspire and challenge us for generations to come. Here are 100 images that changed the world. HT: bnpositive.
On redefining words
From the editorial pages of today's Daily News:
- "N is for Never" -- On why, "[Neither] time, nor wishing, nor the cleverest verbal stylings of artists from the late Richard Pryor to today's rappers can dislodge the N-word from its odious perch as the most hateful racial slur in the English language."
- "Perky people of the world, unite!" -- "Breasts, pets and Katie Couric. What's the link?"
More on that loveable "loser" A-Rod
From "An Embarrassing Week for A-Rod":
"So there you have it, another despicable week in the despicable career of Alex Rodriguez: a .391 batting average, 3 home runs and 10 RBI as the Yankees go 5-1."
A month or so ago CoCo said some things that reminded me how imaginative my son is and got me thinking how much fun it would be to record his storytelling. So I asked Judah that night if he would want to write a story. He got so pumped about the idea that for three weeks he wouldn't let it rest, finally insisting that we write his story this weekend. So he drafted me for a new role: scribe to his dictates.
It's still a work in progress, but suffice to say it's already more than eight pages long and features "evil galactic force" characters like Dr. Octa Ganogana, Boganog, Styro, and Dr. Genius, not to mention karate masters, gymnastics masters, and an electric-goo oozing octupus. Can't wait to share more. Perhaps when the first graphic novel gets published. Paging Mario and Jerry. Ha.
I'm struggling to whittle a 1,500+/- word article down to 1,000 words. Basically, it requires scrapping one of three main elements entirely. The problem is I'm so close to it that I've been agonizing for a week over which piece to cut. Argh. I have to decide by tomorrow. Any sure-fire tips on ruthless editing?
After the edited version is published, I'll probably post the full article here and link to the edited version for feedback as to which is better.
"Sam said, 'I'm glad we got out of the house.'"
The store next door to the Carasco home caught fire
last night and the family was evacuated, unhurt, in the early morning hours. They're back home tonight, but both their car and house suffered minor damage. Please pray for peace for all involved, especially Sam (6) and Micah (almost 2).
... a father-son holiday weekend in the Catskills. We were going to go in February, but two weeks before the trip Abounding Grace winterized the house (shut off heat/water), so we pushed it back to spring. This weekend gives us an extra day. Diana's going to take the time to work on her business and enjoy her Mother's Day pampering ("tantra spa" treatment at Cavale Tonuzi).
The Church and Immigration
"Hear the disputes between your brothers and judge fairly, whether the case is between brother Israelites or between one of them and an alien. Do not show partiality in judging; hear both small and great alike." - Deut 1:16-17Noel Castellanos
, Andy Bales, and Juan Hernandez launched a new website
re. comprehensive immigration reform. HT: Bob
I feel for A-Rod.
There, I said it. Odd considering the income disparity between us, with his $250 million baseball contract and my lavish salary (ahem) as an urban youth worker. Still, I feel for him because of the weight of unrealistic expectations.
Granted, the expectations are, to a degree, self inflicted because no one forced A-Rod to sign his ceiling busting contract, and paeans like the rest of us can't fathom getting paid any amount, never mind $25 million a year, to live every boy's fantasy as a baseball player. At that price, the thinking goes, you best be near perfect. Forget .300/30/100; we fans want to see .350/45/130. Year-long MVP performances notwithstanding, anything less than game-winning RBIs in the bottom of every ninth inning means you fail in the clutch.
As a result, A-Rod's damned if he does and damned if he doesn't. For instance today, even after starring in a 2-1 series victory over the loathsome Sawx, it seemed that every sports talk show in New York was debating his value as a ballplayer.
Yes, he's off to a sub-par start (for A-rod; most other players would trade production numbers with him in a heartbeat). But the season's only two months old. Plus, he's still only 30 and already has 440 homers, nearly 2000 hits, 230 SBs, a rookie-of-the-year award, and two MVPs. His work ethic is impeccable and, contract aside, he's proven to be willing to sacrifice individual ambition for the betterment of the team. So what, he "only" bats .285 with runners in scoring position, compared to .305 the rest of the time.
I guess I'm partial to A-Rod because his breakout rookie season was the same year we started Generation Xcel. At 20 he was a year younger than me, but even then he had all-time potential written all over him. In a game predicated on the fact that failing just 70% of the time makes one a hall-of-famer, he's far surpassed the expectations placed on him as a kid. In the years since, about all he's done wrong is prove that no one should get paid $250 million to play a game. But we knew that already, so let's get over it and enjoy him while his career lasts.
Speaking of Emergent
Read Tony Jones' pseudo-interview of "Porpoise-Diving" Bill Dahl here. Bill shouts us out in NYC:
Emergent Question #9: What blogs do you read regularly?
Bill: Jim Henderson at Off-The-Map is on the cutting edge of some very important work. Rob McAlpine (“The Post-Charismatic”) is someone you must read regularly. John O’Keefe at Ginkworld.net is a staple. Jeremy Del Rio in New York City is out-in-front with engaging young adults in our culture and transforming institutions, communities and organizations. I adore Spencer Burke’s photography (especially the graffiti stuff). Frankly, most blogs bore me. I wish people would take more time to expand their thinking on some of the issues I read on the emerging blogs in the form of full-length articles. It’s just my personal preference I guess.
Thanks for the plug!
Emergent: A Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy?
Tony Jones, executive director of Emergent, responds to critics who accuse it of being too left at Christianity Today's "Out of Ur" blog. Basically his argument is (paraphrased):
"Emergent is not left. Some of our friends are, but others are like Rudy."
How real people handle stress
- Ed. note: this cracked me up!
How real people handle stress....They go shopping at Walmart as noted in the letter below:
Subject: Your Husband
Dear Mrs. Fenton,
Over the past six months, your husband, Mr. Bill Fenton has been causing quite a commotion in our store. We cannot tolerate this type of behavior and have considered banning the entire family from shopping in any of our stores. We take a great deal of pride in our customer service, but your husband is becoming a challenge for even our most experience levels of management.
We have documented all incidents on our video surveillance equipment. Three of our clerks are attending counseling from the trouble your husband has caused. All complaints against Mr. Fenton have been compiled and are listed below.
Mr. Wally Smith
President and CEO of Wal-Mart Complaint Department
Re: Mr. Bill Fenton
Mr.Bill Fenton has done while his spouse/partner is shopping:
1. June 15: Took 24 boxes of condoms and randomly put them in people's carts when they weren't looking.
2. July 2: Set all the alarm clocks in Housewares to go off at 5-minute intervals.
3. July 7: Made a trail of tomato juice on the floor leading to the rest rooms.
4. July 19: Walked up to an employee and told her in an official tone, 'Code 3' in housewares..... and watched what happened.
5. August 4: Went to the Service Desk and asked to put a bag of M&M's on lay away.
6. September 14: Moved a 'CAUTION - WET FLOOR' sign to a carpeted area.
7. September 15: Set up a tent in the camping dept. & told other shoppers he'd invite them in if they'll bring pillows from the bedding department.
8. September 23: When a clerk asks if they can help him, he begins to cry and asks Why can't you people just leave me alone?'
9. October 4: Looked right into the security camera; used it as a mirror, and picked his nose.
10. November 10: While handling guns in the hunting department, asked the clerk if he knows where the antidepressants are.
11. December 3: Darted around the store suspiciously loudly humming the "Mission Impossible" theme.
12. December 6: In the auto department, practiced his "Madonna look" using different size funnels.
13. December 18: Hid in a clothing rack and when people browse through, yelled "PICK ME!" "PICK ME!"
14. December 21: When an announcement came over the loud speaker, he assumes the fetal position and screams "NO! NO! It's those voices again!!!!"
(And; last, but not least!)
15. December 23: Went into a fitting room, shut the door and waited a while; then, yelled, very loudly, "There is no toilet paper in here!"
Don't forget - Friday!
Emergent Dialogue in NYC
LLC is gearing up for an exciting event this Friday, May 26th, at the American Bible Society. It will be a great time of dialogue with Brian McLaren and great fellowship with other folks across the city. McLaren will be discussing the Emergent dialogue and its impact on the church, as well as his new book The Secret Message of Jesus.
Time: 1:00pm - 3:00pm
Location:American Bible Society, 1865 Broadway, New York, NY 10023 (Corner of 61st Street)RSVP to:Info@latinoleadershipcircle.org
Download flyer (50.6K)
Please pray for the elderly woman I saw pinned under a car in the KeyFood parking lot
I flew back from California on the Sunday night red eye and arrived in NYC Monday morning in time to take Judah to school. I slept for a few hours and then picked him up. Around 4, Di, Judah, and I were in the KeyFood parking lot when an improperly parked car rolled out of its spot and pinned an elderly woman (appx. 65-70) underneath its tire in a pool of blood. Fortunately, Judah and Di didn't see what I saw. I told her to keep him away from the accident and ran to help a dozen men lift the car off of her body before calling 911. After answering questions from the operator for a few minutes, my heart was racing. I've seen some wild things before, but never saw an elderly woman pinned under a car while simultaneously trying to protect my son from images that would have caused nightmares and unnecessary emotional trauma. By the time we left, she was sitting beside the car, conscious and talking, though badly shaken and unable to walk. Pray for a full recovery.
p.s. On the way into work today, traffic on the other side of the BQE was at a standstill due to a full blown car fire. What's up with that?
Global Day of Prayer
Christians will gather worldwide on Pentecost Sunday, June 4, for the Global Day of Prayer. Download 10-day prayer guide here.
Every once in a while, it's good to read reports like this
This past spring break, Generation Xcel hosted 6 or 7 InterVarsity NYCUP volunteers. Christina and Jeff are returning this summer for internships. Jodi posted lengthy reflections online, which I found today for the first time. Here's an excerpt:
"I did leave on that last day with a heavy heart. My insides were churning. I had become attached to those kids, those faces, even that small strip of Avenue D, even their maintainence guy Enrique. What would happen to them? Was God calling me to help with this program? Would God keep it from shutting down due to lack of grant money? As we waited for the subway, I talked with Stephen. What he told me was something along the lines of: find peace in the fact that God is restoring them, that God's heart is broken for them. ...
"On the last afternoon of helping at Generation X-Cel, after the kids had left, the high-schoolers, Kristina (the site coordinator) and my team circled up to pray for the program. I was blown away by the prayers coming out of these mouths, the passion exuded by people I barely knew at the departing of people they had only met for four days. I thought that we were the only ones being changed, but I realized that we had made a change in their lives too. And standing there, holding hands with a high school mentor on one side and Jeff from NYU on the other, I knew that this was what Heaven was going to be like--all of us on common ground, people of all ethnicities, people of all backgrounds, of all histories, all crying out with praise to the One who created us--and at that moment, I saw myself not as praying with latino teenagers from worlds away, but as praying with my brothers and sisters in Christ.
"God is cooking something, Anna told us, so let it stew. ...
Then I found this one
, from Steven, another NYCUP vounteer:
"We were in the basement of a housing project, just a few blocks from NYU in the Lower East Side. Our team was assigned to Generation X-Cel for the week, and that's where we met Taco. He was one of the high school volunteers who came in to help out with the younger kids after school each day. And he was everything you'd expect from a guy named Taco. Cornrows, sweet dance moves, backflips...always looking to joke with you. You couldn't help but know Taco right away.
"But it wasn't until Wednesday that he told us his story. It could be a movie, except no one would pay to see so much sadness. Gangs and guns and drugs and death, all the elements you'd expect; all before he became a teenager... (I'm sorry, I can't write his story. I've been sitting here, back in my dorm room, trying to find the words to paint with. But it's not a story meant to shock or inspire you. It's just one of many from this week.) ...
"We said our good-byes (our see you laters) yesterday afternoon; of course, we couldn't do it without praying together. So we stood holding hands in a circle, NYU students with kids from the ghetto, two worlds separated by mere miles colliding in order to create a sweet, sweet sound. And to hear Taco pray Jesus God...Father God...Jesus God...
"In our final small group last night, we were asked what we would take home from the week? My answer was that I can see the city again with tears in my eyes."
, from Regis:
"I volunteered at Generation Xcel that week, an after-school program for kids in the Lower East Side, Alphabet City. It was such a blessed time to relax and play with the kids, and fellowship with the Christians there.
"My time at NYCUP opened my eyes. I began to see Jesus in the poor and homeless, in the disenfranchised and powerless. Jesus Himself had all these attributes as a man. But as Christ, He is all powerful, seated at the right hand of the Father, with all the riches of the universe at His feet. So now, He calls us to take up His cross and follow Him - for if we seek nothing else but Him and to be transformed into His likeness, we will be blessed.
"But here is the big part: we should seek to be like Christ as He was here on the earth, so that we might be like Him when we are resurrected. For now I'll leave it at that; may Christ enlighten the eyes of our understanding to be transformed into His likeness. I'll say bye for now; meditate on this:
"'Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of heaven.'"
Special thanks to the effervescent and jubilant Anna Lee
, the NYU InterVarsity staff worker who was one of the famous "seven college students who paid to intern with us" the summer we opened Xcel and co-directed this spring's NYCUP experience. Anna reports
the following about Dennis, another of the Xcel volunteers:
"Dennis, who was not a Christian before NYCUP, became one by the time it was all said and done. I am realizing that NYCUP is less of a typical "missions trip" and more of a sitting among the poor, like Job's friends did for him, and meeting the living God in the process. You can't help but be changed in the process, like Dennis (I love brining not-yet-Christians into Christian community. They don't stand a chance!)."
Mrs. Cheney and Independent Women's Forum honor my cousin
Gotta brag about my growing-up cousin, when:
"The Independent Women’s Forum (IWF) honored the winners of their first student essay contest last Wednesday at the U.S. Naval Observatory, the home of the Vice President and Mrs. Lynne Cheney, with the award presentation by Mrs. Cheney and IWF President Michelle Bernard." Article.
Second Place went to Juliann Helen Vikse, Princeton University sophomore.
Thanks for more great memories
Last week was a whirlwind of meetings, workshops, and friendly reunions at Urban Youth Workers Institute, the CCDA emerging leaders caucus, and bonding time with the fellas from Living Hope Community Church. Highlights:
- Appearing alongside Shane Claiborne, Michael Mata, and a grad student on a social justice panel where Shane lamented dime-a-dozen "unbelieving activists and inactive believers."
- Hearing Shane and John Perkins discuss the "Cost of the Kingdom" at a general session.
- Conducting a Myspace presentation where a 17-year-old shared a personal testimony with 100+ attendees about struggling with internet porn and safeguards he and his Young Life leader have taken for accountability.
- Presenting The Joshua Paradox at UYWI and Living Hope and the overwhelming response to it.
- JP's discussing "content of character" as the enduring legacy he hopes to leave leaders.
- Celebrating with Larry, John, Carla, Kirk, Ben, Bobby, Fred, Keith, Celina, Christina, Julie, and the rest of the crew the 1,500 youth workers who attended this year's UYWI, and the untold lives that will be impacted as a result.
- HarmonizZzing with Dimas.
- Rudy's excitement with brisk sales of his study guide.
- Dinner with Carlos and Laura and Joey and Aaron and Kathy.
- Dinner at Table 8 with Brian, Adam, Chris, and Adrian featuring the porterhouse steak that Robb Report readers called the best in America.
- Siteseeing with Brian, whose tour guide services could make him very wealthy.
- Chatting with Richard Greico as he walked his boston terrier in the San Fernando Valley.
- The Venice Beach Drum Circle. Apparently since 2001, every Sunday night at sunset a sea of humanity gathers to the rythms of an ecclectic band of local drummers along the Venice Beach shoreline. Aside from the pervasive smell of herb, and curious coupling, it was a fascinating glimpse of a black/white/brown/yellow Kingdom.
Related: UYWI slideshow from Day 1.
NYC Schools Ban Myspace
I missed this before UYWI, but Dimas mentioned it while we were away:
"The city Department of Education has quietly banned access to the wildly popular social-networking Internet sites Myspace.com and Sconex.com from classroom computers, citing concerns over raunchy postings and chat groups. ... [I]t began restricting access to Myspace and Sconex this school year after getting reports from schools that students were logging on in their classrooms and posting references to drugs, sex and fights." Article.
MySpace Danny and other online crimes against children
Bil McCoy over at Techmission tipped me off to this online presentation on internet safety by the Maryland Crimes Against Children Task Force. Among the scariest examples they cite: "Myspace Danny," a level 3, high-risk sexual predator from Arizona whose Myspace profile claimed he was "looking for a girlfriend" while conveniently omitting his record of "luring a minor for sexual exploitation."
Techmission provides free software and other resources to protect children from pornography and other dangers online through www.SafeFamilies.org.
Live blogging from UYWI
"Have You Seen Your Kids' MySpace?"
Radioactive B!+@H, Suckanut Slut, Boyish Sex Machine, NaughtyXXXAsh - porn stars or teens on MySpace?
"Why should I care so much for everyone else when no one gives a s!*# about me?" "y do guys ... say that they like u but make u feel like s!*#?" "I will get you drunk and help you plot revenge against the sorry b@$!@&! who made you sad." "Why is it that life sucks?" "my mother ... i can't stand her!"
Welcome to the world of teenagers, in their own words. These are just a few of the online identities and comments generated by teens on Myspace as they wrestle with emotional conflicts, relationship dramas, family strife, sexuality, and purpose. Businessweek calls the 70+ million young people with Myspace accounts (plus millions using other online social networks) the "Myspace Generation." How should the church engage?Internet Usage
- 87% of kids 12-17 use internet
- Multimedia - 6.5 hrs/day watching tv, listening to music, playing video games, searching the web
- Multi-tasking - 1.75 hrs/day intaking media simultaenously
- Social networking - 1 hr. 22 min. /day (Myspace, Sconex, Friendster, Xanga, etc)
- 2.5 times more traffic than Google.
- Membership quadrupled in 2005 to 40 million by december
- 79 millon today
- Rupert Murdoch bought Myspace for 580 million in 7/05
- Genesis 11:1-9 - Tower of Babel
Common language (v. 1), interconnected community (Shinar, v.2), and technological innovation (bricks, v. 3) meant: "If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them." (v.6)
- Today, computers provide common language (first time since Babel), interconnectedness, and technological innovation.
- At Babel, competence without character corrupted community and created cultural chaos. Thus, God dispersed the people by confusing language.
- Could it be that today, God invites Acts 2 infilling of the Holy Spirit to redeem community, even in cyberspace?
- More here.
"It's Nice to be Naughty": Myspace and SEX
Get to know your teenagers
Behind the curve, again
The web is evil
When posts collide
What people are talking about on Myspace
Who holds Rupert Murdoch accountable?
Myspace and political activism
MySpace Invaders; New Online Star Streaking Past Google
Myspace Cheat Sheet for Parents
Boys help cops catch Myspace sex fiend
In case you missed this
Kudos where it's due
8-14 year olds send 14.4 text messages and make 8.8 cell phones ...
The funeral for Samantha Guzman will be at:
Park Chester Funeral Home
1430 Union Port Road
Bronx, New York
Wed 5-10 PM, Thurs 2-10 PM, Friday 10 AM
A special memorial service will be hosted on Staten Island at:
Cornerstone Worship Center
Friday, 8 PM
772 Port Richmond Avenue
Staten Island, NY 10302
(Church is on the second floor across the street from Burger King on Forest Avenue)
“A life is not important
the impact it has
on other lives.”
- Jackie Robinson
- From the program at Friday's Celebration of Xcellence
(Generation Xcel's after school year-end awards night):
May 12, 2006
Dear Friends and Family:
Nearly sixty years ago Jackie Robinson achieved the impossible. Even though no black man had ever before played Major League baseball, Mr. Robinson broke through decades of hate and bigotry and racism and injustice to become The First. His courage helped pave the way for Civil Rights and transform the nation. His legend continues to grow as his legacy continues to open doors for people.
Ten years ago thirteen LES youth achieved the impossible. Even though they lacked money, space, equipment, and staff, they overcame stereotypes and bigotry and poverty and injustice to become The First Xcellers. Their courage paved the way for you and will continue to impact generations after you.
You are now part of their legacy, and the positive impact you reproduce in others will make your life extraordinary.
Congratulations to all award winners, including:
- Kristina Diaz (Kristi Brattli Prize for Outstanding Staff Member)
- Frank McDermott and Erika Borgensen (Founders Award for Leadership)
- Jeannie Gergis (Jonathan Del Rio Award for Outstanding Volunteer)
- Janita Rosado (Xceller of the Year)
- Johnny Rivera (Xpresser of the Year)
- All the other students and parents
Special thanks also to those who made the evening possible:
We love you!
Pictures coming soon.
For all my SoCal friends, I'll be at UYWI at Azusa Pacific University this week and Living Hope Church on Sunday. Below are the UYWI workshops I'll be facilitating:
Friday, May 19, 2006
1:30 PM 2:45 PM, Rm: Duke 119 (W)
Joshua Paradox: Empowering Indigenous Leadership
Emerging leaders need mentors and spiritual disciple-makers to invest in their lives like Moses invested in Joshua. Appointed by God to deliver His people out of slavery, Moses understood early on that someone else would lead them into freedom. Yet Joshua is a paradoxial figure. For as much benefit as he received from his mentor, Joshual failed to reproduce the investment, and his spiritual legacy did not survive a single generation as a result. As indigenous leaders emerge around you, will they find a Moses that embraces, guides and encourages them to greatness? Or will they find a Joshua, someone too busy fulfilling his own destiny to in someone else's?
Saturday, May 20, 2006
1:30 PM 2:45 PM - Event Type: Forum (with Shane Clayburn and Michael Mata)
A Dialogue about Living Out Social Justice in Your Community
Amidst a world plagued with pain and suffering, we often respond with brotherly love and good works as the Bible dictates. However, God also wants us to move beyond mere service. In this forum, a cacophony of voices will invite us to consider what it means to embody God's Kingdom coming on earth, and what it looks like to begin enacting God's justice in our neighborhoods and world.
3:15 PM 4:30 PM
Have You Seen Your Kids' MySpace?
Radioactive B!+@H, Suckanut Slut, Boyish Sex Machine, NaughtyXXXAsh - porn stars or teens on MySpace?
"Why should I care so much for everyone else when no one gives a s!*# about me?" "y do guys ... say that they like u but make u feel like s!*#?" "I will get you drunk and help you plot revenge against the sorry b@$!@&! who made you sad." "Why is it that life sucks?" "my mother ... i can't stand her!"
Welcome to the world of teenagers, in their own words. These are just a few of the online identities and comments generated by teens on Myspace as they wrestle with emotional conflicts, relationship dramas, family strife, sexuality, and purpose. Businessweek calls the 70+ million young people with Myspace accounts (plus millions using other online social networks) the "Myspace Generation." How should the church engage?
[I've eaten at this Friendly's]
I know we're all still waterlogged from a year that featured KatRita, the Indian Ocean Tsunami, and even mudslides in SoCal, but yet another flood is ravaging our country, this time in New England. Diana's sister and her family, along with my cousins and many friends, live near the center of the floodwaters in Methuen, Haverhill, and Melrose, Massachusetts. Matt
just completed a Chain Reaction
weekend in Lowell, and is returning for a fourth year to Haverhill and Lowell for a week-long project this summer. My sister-in-law forwarded these pics
which show the "gushing madness" everywhere. Please pray for them.
Why churches should adopt public schools ... Now
Adopt-a-School goes national this month in the summer 2006 issue of the National Network of Youth Ministries Network magazine:
"Sometimes a good idea takes a while to generate traction. But then a combination of timing, people, and Providence inspire enough hearts and minds to action that it transforms society, in what Malcolm Gladwell calls a 'Tipping Point.'
"Consider, for example, the idea that churches should love youth in their communities by adopting public schools. The Campus Alliance has been saying this for years, even creating a website to help promote the idea and track its progress (www.EverySchool.com). But a review of the Every School database suggests that the cry has fallen on many ears that are unable, or unwilling, to hear. Many schools still wait to be adopted." Download PDF here.
Kudos to MacBob
These are hysterical, especially watching on a PC. HT: Bob.
Speaking of Macs, I'm reviving my Buy-a-Mac-Now fund
. My boat anchor laptop has been obsolete for so long now I hardly use it anymore. Basic operations (like turning it on!) take 10, 15, 30 minutes when it's not freezing. For those interested in making a tax-deductible contribution towards this most useful cause, donations can be made online here,
or by mail to Community Solutions, Inc., 9 East 7th Street, New York, NY 10003.
UPDATE: Ben wants
the MacBook Pro 17″.
Mother's Day Mayhem
Please pray for the family of Samantha Guzman, who was the innocent victim of thug violence on Mother's Day (reports: NY Post; Daily News). Just weeks shy of her high school graduation, Samantha found herself in the wrong place at the wrong time -- caught in the middle of a Bronx street robbery -- and was fatally shot. Her family attends Cornerstone Worship Center in Staten Island, pastored by my friends Ken and Felicia Bobe. Pastor Ken just called about planning a stop-the-violence memorial service in her honor. More details to come.
Karol. A high school classmate of my brother Jonathan, Karol found me via Myspace. She's now a Republican political consultant here in New York. Courage.
UrbanMinista. At the risk of betraying my New Yawk biases, I didn't realize there's a need for urban ministry in Arkansas. Matt, great to meet you online! I almost visited Memphis (Tennessee) earlier this month, but no go, yet. Hopefully soon.
Steve Busey. He recently reviewed the talk Rudy and I gave at CCDA: "A converstion about ministry to/with the next generation of Leaders." Steve and an extensive posse of blog contributors are reviewing urban ministry resources from the likes of CCDA, UYWI, Techmission and others.
Screwtape on the Da Vinci Code
In honor of the film that has everyone riled up, hear Screwtape's perspective.
+ Scott McLane's done his homework.
+ McLaren thinks DVC is no "more harmful" than the Left Behind novels. Hmm. I haven't read either, so I'm not sure how to respond to this.
Which Leader am I?
Inspired by half the blogosphere, I took the test. Which leader am I?
Hats off to Tony Sheng and his staff, the high school seniors from SPACE (Students Prepared to Act for Christ), and especially Emilie, the SPACE intern who helped Tony plan the missions trip, for all their hard work making Generation Xcel's Celebration of Xcellence come to life on Friday (more on this later) and serving at the Apple's Core Coffee House on Saturday night. Without your generous spirit and servant's attitude, the Celebration would not have been possible. You all rock!
Related: In their own words - audio testimony.
Happy Mother's Day
For my wife, the beloved mother of my son:
"When she gave birth to a son she said, 'This time I will praise the LORD.' So she named him Judah." (Genesis 29:35)
"Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth." (Psalm 127:3-4)
"Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her." (Proverbs 31:28)
"My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers." (Luke 1:46-55)
[This is dated, I know, but last week's busyness conspired against posting it sooner.]
"But no one could figure out who was casting the dissenting vote, the foreman said, because that person didn't identify himself during any discussion -- and all the votes were done using anonymous ballots." From Report: Lone juror saved Moussaoui from death.
Regardless of one's position on the death penalty, the War on Terror, and 9/11 terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui, the lone juror in the Moussaoui trial who hid behind anonymity to prevent a death sentence is a coward. Moussaoui admitted to conspiring to slaughter nearly 3,000 Americans on 9/11 -- not to mention provoking the global War on Terror and the massive destruction of vital United States institutions -- and would have been one of the hijackers if he hadn't been previously arrested. If ever the death penalty was appropriate, it was in this case. But one person vetoed the opinion of the remaining eleven jurors and held out for a life sentence.
It usually takes profound courage to be the lone anything, especially in such a high profile situation where the eyes of the world are watching. I would have respected someone who opposes the death penalty on principal refusing to apply it even in such a heinous case. But someone who could make such a significant decision on behalf of a nation and not be man or woman enough to stand by it deserves no such respect.
Rudy Makes the Road as he Walks
"High on a mountain in Puebla, Mexico, I snapped out of it. That day I encountered a Mexican poem that says, 'Caminante no hay camino/Se hace camino al andar.' Translation: 'Sojourner there is no road/You make the road as you walk.' Dr. Perkins had been saying this all along: Make the road as you walk." Article.
I watched Rudy
practice what he preaches this week -- not the first time, mind you, but a remarkable testament worth blogging about here.
On Friday (6 days ago), Rudy IM's me this book ("study guide") idea
for Urban and Multiethnic Outreach, Vol. 1
. I say, "Go for it! Sounds great. " Later he IM's me looking for "Best-of" article titles. Then he asks if I could write some reflection questions. "Sure," I say, not realizing that Rudy's on a mission. Sunday morning he emails me the manuscript, with a note asking if I could write the questions today (Sunday!). Fortunately I'm a night owl, so I wrote a few that evening. Then my schedule changed for Monday, so I was able to finish them by early Monday afternoon. An hour or two later, Rudy tells me he's done. The book is published and ready to purchase
(print or digital).
Four days from concept to publication. Rudy made the road to self-publishing as he walked in record time!
Congratulations on a fantastic job and a classically provocative read. And thanks again for the opportunity to ride your coat tails on a wonderful project.
Brian McLaren coming to New York
Friday, May 26, 1-3 pm
American Bible Society
1865 Broadway (corner 61 St)
Hosted by Latino Leadership Circle
RSVP by email here.
I may be the only one who finds this interesting, but
If you search Google Images for "Billy Graham," this appears on Page 6 of the search results:
"If you want to see things change immediately, stop acting like an a$$hole."
That, and other great management tips, in this consultant's "Open letter to CEOs, COOs, CIOs and CFOs across the corporate world." Via. A must-read for anyone responsible for managing people.
Talent is overrated
The Freakonomics guys are at it again, this time in a New York Times article reporting that:
"The trait we commonly call talent is highly overrated. Or, put another way, expert performers — whether in memory or surgery, ballet or computer programming — are nearly always made, not born. And yes, practice does make perfect. These may be the sort of clichés that parents are fond of whispering to their children. But these particular clichés just happen to be true.
"Ericsson's research suggests a third cliché as well: when it comes to choosing a life path, you should do what you love — because if you don't love it, you are unlikely to work hard enough to get very good." Article.
Word travels fast
From India. More on this later.
Where "Emerging Church" and "Youth Ministry" intersect
The academics are helping make sense of an ongoing conversation about how the Church could more effectively do church (i.e. be "salt" and "light" within the culture, Matt. 5:13-16, as we "disciple nations," Matt. 28:16-20) in the 21st century. Fuller Seminary Professor Kara Powell recently interviewed Professor Ryan Bolger (co-author with Dr. Eddie Gibbs of Emerging Churches) on the intersection of emerging church practices and youth ministry.
On youth ministry pioneers shaping emerging church expressions:
"What many leaders and youth workers don’t realize is that most of the leaders in emerging churches came out of youth ministry. A typical scenario we found again and again is that someone who spent eight or ten years as a youth minister in their 20’s wanted to start something on their own, and that something ended up being an emerging ministry. Sometimes they have had a very positive relationship with the church as a youth worker and are looking to do the same sort of ministry beyond just teenagers. They want to take the very best they experienced in youth ministry, like hospitality to others and creative ministry expressions, and extend that to a congregational life. Other times, they were fairly disillusioned with the church and were looking to do something different."
On the definition of an emerging church:
"An emerging church is a community that focuses on three core practices: identifying with the life of Jesus, transforming secular space, and living as community. These three core practices tend to be expressed in six other values: welcoming the stranger, serving with generosity, participating as producers, creating as created beings, leading as a body, and taking part in spiritual activities."
On "intergenerational" communities:
"At the top of that list would be a value of intergenerational life and ministry as opposed to the fragmentation or separation of ministries into various age groups.... Keep in mind that in a community of 30-40 people, there are probably only 5-8 teenagers. We found many churches had established small groups just for those teenagers. But what separated the churches we studied from other more typical ways of doing church is that “church” is still very much with grandma and grandpa....
"Typically, the community shares responsibility for their youth. Hopefully, there are a handful of adults who feel a special calling or burden to mentor and support those kids. But we’ve had such dramatic cultural changes that in order for older people to understand younger people, they need to learn cross-cultural ministry principles and skills."
On the role of "youth pastor":
"So in these churches there is generally no 'youth pastor' who focuses on just teenagers. ... We’ve found that ALL pastoral roles are being re-assessed in emerging churches – not just youth pastors. The roles of senior pastors, worship leaders, and children’s pastors are all being questioned. Instead of a church having set assumptions about who should be 'hired' and 'what' they should do, it’s up to the community to determine what we need and what we’re going to do, and whether or not the niche role of a 'youth pastor' fits into that plan.
On developing effective youth leadership:
Complete interview here
"Some of the churches we observed weren’t doing much to develop kids’ leadership. In those that were more effective, a key shift was to replace the idea that we need to do ministry 'for' kids with the idea that we do ministry 'with' them. The way to do ministry 'with' kids was generally to spend time listening to them before trying to 'develop' anything....
After these leaders spend enough time listening, then they seemed to be in a better position to come alongside kids and facilitate students’ creative ministry expressions not from 'above,' but from 'below.' Especially in the U.K., we saw examples of teenagers and 20-somethings who were really functioning as youth pastors themselves. The adult mentors were more responsible for the discipleship of the different adult and student leaders, but the kids were responsible for the content of the actual meetings."
Shoulda, woulda, coulda
Because the Yanks refused to do this last night,
They got this today,
What Would Jihadis Do?
Resorting to a tried and true American political strategy, I-rant's "Nuke Kook" president attempted to drag Jesus into politics in his recent mischief memo to President Bush.
The previous post was my 1,000th since starting this blog in December 2004.
Favorite posts from that first month:
Billy Graham Youth Video, Part 2
More from Loreal, Eric, Amanda, and Anthony from last year's Greater New York Billy Graham Crusade. Go here for Part 1.
Get this video and more at MySpace.com
"Yes, but ..."
"But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
"But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith." (I Tim. 6:6-12)
"The world was not worthy of them"
Oh, that it may be said of my family as it was said of them.
From the video vault
This video was produced for the final crusade of Dr. Billy Graham's career and aired on 562 jumbotrons (ok, not that many) throughout Flushing Meadows Park to the youth night crowd of more than 90,000 people last June. Three of the teens (Loreal Torres, Amanda DeJesus, and Eric Velez) are from Generation Xcel and Abounding Grace. A fourth is from New Hope (Anthony Liatsis). I love these guys.
Prayer Alert - Major Ministry Updates - 5/3/06
[Note: This prayer alert is longer than most, as it contains major ministry updates. Next month, I'll return to our usual format. Thank you.] May 3, 2006
Friends and Intercessors:
When God told Abraham to uproot his family and go where He would lead, He conveniently neglected to provide a roadmap. Instead He pointed in a general direction, spoke vaguely of "the land I will show you," and promised:
"I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." (Genesis 12:2-3)
Yesterday marked the second anniversary since my family and I began a similar journey, leaving Abounding Grace Ministries (AGM) and ending my tenure as youth pastor there. Embarking on a new phase on ministry as a missionary to youth and youth culture required us to be stretched as a family. Leaving AGM was a necessary step as it was the most comfortable place in the world for me.
Through the ministry of Community Solutions, Inc. (CSI), we have traveled far in the last two years, cultivating young lives out of two locations; producing theatrical events, video projects and original music; developing leaders that now serve as teachers, pastors, after school directors, and more; and watching Chain Reaction mobilize hundreds of young people for thousands of hours of community service in seven states. Simultaneously I was privileged to co-found and co-chair what has emerged as the largest network of urban youth ministries in the nation; participate in the historic Greater New York Billy Graham Crusade; teach my first seminary class; speak at churches and conferences throughout the country; and publish more than a dozen articles. Yet we have not arrived.
Like Abraham, it's time to move beyond Haran, an important stop along the way but far from the final destination. Haran was the place where Abraham established himself and his family and amassed the skills and resources needed to inhabit Canaan . But God had more in store.
What does this mean beyond metaphorical language? I have an admittedly audacious vision – some might call it a pipedream – that God will so move in this current generation of young people that 15-20 years from now, popular culture will look and feel and, in fact, be radically different than that which their forbearers – my generation – produced for them. My generation, bruised by emotional abandonment and battered by materialistic excess, became such a spiritual wasteland that commentators and "experts" labeled us "X." Now adults, we increasingly exert creative influence and control within the culture. The result is a morass of amoral spinelessness that calls sin right and right boring as "bootylicious hoes" surrender all to "pimped out" "thugs," and "queer eyes" lecture "straight guys" how to live.
Canaan for me is a culture shaped by individuals of character and competence who are blessed by God and a blessing to all the earth, rather than the insipid mammon-trap that exploits teen insecurities (not to mention pocketbooks) to pad bottom lines. Apart from an outpouring of God's Spirit and a resulting reformation, that vision is unattainable.
When I returned to CSI as its executive director in 2003, the goal was to build a scalable and transformative urban youth ministry that empowers young people to reclaim their lives and become who God created them to be, so that they are equipped to transform their communities and cultures.
Why "urban?" Because urban is not just a geography anymore. More than buildings and densely populated neighborhoods, urban is a set of values that are reshaping the globe. In 1900, just 14% of the world's population lived in cities. By 2000, 47% had moved into cities, and projections are 60% within 25 years (2030). As populations shift into cities, they confront diversity, create community, embrace individuality, and pursue opportunity. Challenges also arise as greater concentrations of humanity multiply the effects of sin. But where sin abounds, grace abounds much more.
Why youth? Because they are the lowest hanging, most ripe fruit in the harvest field. Who is more "like a child" – Christ's prerequisite for the kingdom of heaven – than a child?
Why ministry? Because lives are lived out of the abundance of individual hearts. Curriculum, jobs, legislation, media messages, and marketing slogans don't define who we are. What is intrinsic to us – the uniqueness woven by our Maker into our spirits, souls, and bodies – define us. Ministry gets to a person's core, and holistic ministry in particular, opens the door.
The next phase of our journey necessitates several practical changes. First, the laboratory phase of Generation Xcel (Haran ) is completed, meaning day-to-day management of Xcel's flagship locations will return to the youth ministry of Abounding Grace, with me serving strictly in an advisory capacity. This is the model partnership CSI will reproduce with other ministries and churches that desire to engage at-risk youth in holistic youth development.
Second, CSI is launching a consulting initiative for ministries, churches, and community groups regarding youth and leadership development, engaging youth culture, and social and economic justice. Lastly, I will assume more writing and preaching responsibilities along with consulting.
"How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!'" (Romans 10:14-15)
Kindly consider adopting me as your urban youth missionary. Now more than ever, your commitment to support us financially is vital. Please email me indicating your level of support:
___ Monthly ___ $25 ___ $50 ___ $75 ___ $100 Other ___________
___ Quarterly ___ $25 ___ $50 ___ $75 ___ $100 Other ___________
___ Annually ___ $25 ___ $50 ___ $75 ___ $100 Other ___________
___ One-time ___ $25 ___ $50 ___ $75 ___ $100 Other ___________
Tax deductible gifts may be made online at www.GenerationXcel.com or by mail to Community Solutions, 9 East 7th Street, New York, NY 10009.
On behalf of my family and the young people God has promised us to reach, thank you again for friendship, prayers, and support.
In His Service,
Jeremy Del Rio
P .S. Keep up-to-date with the family online at my blog: www.GenXcel.blogspot.com. Subscribe for regular email alerts here: http://genxcel.blogspot.com/2006/04/subscribe-to-this-blog.html.
WWJD (What Would Jay-Z Do?): Engaging Youth Culture
"So everybody, just follow me
'Cause we need a little, controversy" - Eminem, "Without Me"
How's this for controversy?
She was one of the lead vocalists of a multi-Dove award winning, Contemporary Christian Music hit maker. He was a rising star of CCM as well, a writer and producer for some of its most recognizable names. But within the last couple of years, both husband and wife made a radical ministry decision to leave CCM in favor of secular recording contracts. Exiled from the CCM bubble of Nashville, they moved, first, to Los Angeles , and then New York City. He has gone on to produce songs for some of pop music's most successful artists, and she is recording a pop album for a prominent industry label.
Are they compromising their faith, or, even worse, backsliding?
They don't think so. They shared with me that their motivation is to bring Christ and His character to kids who do not purchase "Christian" entertainment. They talked about how they and other CCM icons routinely "ministered" to capacity crowds that knew the lyrics, cheered the artists, and needed not to respond to the altar calls. The disconnect: the kids attending CCM concerts were already "saved." At most, they came to "rededicate" their lives or seek forgiveness of sins nurtured by a culture that Christians have effectively abandoned. Rarely would unbelievers attend, and then only if a trusted friend persuaded them, not because of the glossy poster or Christian-radio ad.
By contrast, both Christians and non watch TRL (if the acronym means nothing, tune in to MTV during after-school hours), read Vibe and Rolling Stone magazines, vote for "American Idol," download MP3s online, listen to Hot-97 or Z-100, and make movies like Eight Mile and Hustle and Flow certifiable hits. Parental conflicts notwithstanding, teens flock to secular entertainment, with the film, television, music, fashion, and gaming industries exerting disproportionate - and increasingly Godless - influence on their values. Ask any junior high or high school student, even youth group kids, who Usher, Snoop Dogg, or Jessica Simpson is, and they'll tell you. Ask for song titles, and they'll give those as well. Ask them to recite lyrics, and more often than not, they can do that too. Ask them who Toby Mac, Third Day, or Zoegirl is and eight out of ten won't have a clue, except maybe youth group kids, even though they are top draws for CCM's teen market.
For longer than I have been alive, American evangelicals have lamented that they are losing a "culture war." Since Elvis swiveled his hips on national television and the Beatles dared to grow their hair beyond their shirt collars and Jimmy Hendrix celebrated purple haze, many have demonized pop culturists as doing Satan's work. In response, they have boycotted movies, burned books and magazines, and bulldozed CDs. They have protested in the streets, published scathing editorials, and debated hostile reporters on news magazine shows. But mostly, they have retreated inward, developing alternative entertainments and fostering Christian equivalents to all things cultural, while decrying the ever worsening condition of "Must-See TV." In recent years, some have conceded that the so-called war is all but lost.
Into the fray, this couple is daring to defy conventional Christian wisdom by attempting to reengage the culture without the trappings of cliché Christianity. Thus the controversy. Yet their approach is authentically Christ-like and one the wider evangelical community must learn to embrace, even follow.
The standard for outreach that Christ himself set is a far cry from the insular subculture evangelicals have created over the last three or four decades. Rather than retreat into heavenly glory, He degraded His divinity by assuming the likeness of created humanity; forsook His celestial throne to be born in a barn by an unmarried teenager; lived in an obscure community with a reputation for producing mediocrity; worked a blue color job until the age of thirty; roamed the desert serving strangers; and finally died the unjust death of a violent criminal three years later. His preferred manner of preaching was to embed ordinary stories about pearls and seeds and wheat and coins with spiritual truths. None were overtly "Christian" in the same way CCM and Christian television are, and he rarely bothered to explain them. Instead, he allowed His parables and His life to speak for themselves, while challenging those with "ears to hear," to hear their message. And throughout His ministry, he groomed "fishers of men" who would do likewise. That is, disciples who would live among those they served, smell their smells, relate to their realities, empathize with their pain, and meet their needs with compassion in a culturally relevant way - just like He did.
Fast forward two thousand years and this couple, who are attempting to do exactly that in a mission field that is "unreached" by any objective evangelical standard, are looked at with cynicism, and in some cases, self-righteous disdain.
There's a reason why hip hop has revolutionized youth culture at the same time that Christian music has only revolutionized itself. Why self-proclaimed "controversies" like Eminem and "hard-knock" lifers like Jay-Z sell millions of records and have made a raw, gritty urban lifestyle the fantasy of millions of suburban kids all over America, while too many Christian sub-culturists churn out copy-cat cheese.
Fundamentally it's because Jay-Z and his counterparts have become better fishers of men than we are. As perverse as some of their songs and lifestyles might be, they nevertheless identify with kids' pain and address their needs in language they understand and a forum they frequent, while we have evacuated the forum in order to entertain ourselves.
A little controversy might do us some good.
- Originally published by Tri-State Voice and Relevant in 2003, the previous article was reprised and republished in May 2006 at Christian Post, Next-Wave, Youth Ministry Exchange, Porpoise Diving Life, and others.
The term evangelical is increasingly under fire, yet it's capturing the attention of mainstream media (coincidental timing?). Consider these recent stories in the New York Times.
Urbanization: Cities matter
In 1900, just 14% of the world’s population lived in cities. By 2000, 47% had moved into cities, and projections are 60% within 25 years (2030). Source.
Let's discuss - Adolescent rebellion & culture
Do you agree or disagree with the following? Why?
Today's adolescent rebellion becomes tomorrow's conventional wisdom, corporate ethic, and public policy. Today's teens reshape cultural values in their 20s and 30s, institutionalize them via corporate and political power in their 40s and 50s, and watch the cycle repeat itself in their 60s and 70s.
Bone Portraits - Opens May 5, 16 Performances Only
There's nothing better than watching friends succeed.
, director and producer of Bone Portraits
and artisitic director of Still Point, produced Life in Translation
last year at Xpress (photos here
). She's brilliant. My wife and I also attended her show The Elliots
last spring and were awed by her creativity and imagination. Catch this rising star of New York's theater scene, called one of "25 New Yorkers to Watch 2006
" by TimeOut New York, at Bone Portraits
created the film and video that accompanies the stage performance. He's the artistic genius behind Xcel's Transformations
mural. See more of his artwork here
and email me
if interested in purchasing one of his existing works or commissioning a new one.
Almost caught in the wave
This sea of humanity
nearly engulfed me on my commute home today. At 5:10 they were approached 8th Street on Broadway. Had I arrived 2 minutes later, I would have been stuck across the street from the subway entrance, waiting for as long as it took a wave estimated at 350,000 - 500,000 strong to pass.
Tagged by Liz
I AM: the proudest daddy in the world
I WANT: my son to be exactly who God has created him to be and my wife to thrive in her new business
I WISH: that I could adopt enough children to field a flag football team (7)
I HATE: fakeness
I LOVE: God, life, my family, people
I MISS: college and YW8
I FEAR: unrealized potential
I HEAR: the future calling
I WONDER: what my legalistic Christian brothers and sisters are going to say when they see shaggy haired derelics with tattoos and earings hip-bopping along the streets of heaven
I REGRET: watching too much tv
I AM NOT: in shape
I DANCE: silly with Judah
I SING: silly with Judah
I CRY: not enough
I AM NOT ALWAYS: (more like "not ever") the life of a party
I MAKE WITH MY HANDS: food
I WRITE: whenever possible
I CONFUSE: paperwork
I NEED: a raise
I SHOULD: complete a book proposal
I START: more than I can possibly finish
I FINISH: more than I used to
I TAG: you
Gotta give credit where it's due. Regardless of what happens the rest of this postseason, the Lakers look really good for keeping Kobe over Shaq. After an MVP-worthy year, he's been even more Nash-ty in the Suns series.
Posterizing Steve Nash, his chief rival for MVP