What do you see?

“Little Round Planet in a big universe
Sometimes it looks blessed
Sometimes it looks cursed
Depends on what you look at, obviously
But even more it depends on the way that you see”

Bruce Cockburn
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“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else”
CS Lewis

The School of Rock

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Just watched “School of Rock” and I have to say, I loved it!
The premise of the film is this:
Hell-raising guitarist with delusions of grandeur Dewey Finn (Jack Black) has been kicked out of his band. Desperate for work, he impersonates a teacher and turns a class of 10 year olds into high-voltage rock and rollers.
Its kind of “Dead Poets Society” but with Rock Music as the inspiration and a zany, crazy humour in delivery and wry observation. It, quite Literally, Rocks”
Bloggable bit is this! Its a great piece of Youth work (yes, I know the kids are only ten so it’ll definitely turn up in the Tweenagers training evening) but we are talking, youth work!
Dewey Finn is bored by the idea of teaching, the kids are not excited about being taught. It’s only when they find something they are passionate about and use, develop their gifts and talents that some great learning starts to take place … for the group and for individuals. The Kids are dominated by a strict school and pushy parents (I liked the way the car park on parents evening is full of safe but dull Volvos) but once they are given opportunity to do, they discover lots about who they are and grow through that process.
Ready to use Training Evening:
Watch “School of Rock”
Question? In what ways is our programme, the school? In what ways is our programme, Dewey Finn? How does this challenge our programme?

The Lords Prayer

Following on from yesterday, I was at a service recently where we were encouraged to use the “modern” form of the Lords prayer! Not sure that “sin” and “trials” is anymore understandable culturally!
It’s been around for a while now but I love the txt version of the Lords Prayer and really enjoyed being at a Youth Led service once where the whole congregation were led together in saying:
[email protected],ur spshl.
we want wot u want
&urth2b like hvn
giv us food
&4giv us
lyk we 4giv uvaz.
don’t test us!
save us!
bcos we kno ur boss,
ur tuf&ur cool
4 eva!ok

And lets not debate how it fits into a liturgical framework!
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Supplemental: Over at Coyote Mercury you can see the Lords Prayer’s English translation in both Old and Middle English.

Mission and understanding

Fantastic training session this week led by Nigel Pimlott of Frontier Youth Trust. We were looking at mission and how we understand the culture we are working in. We all know that we are in a post-Christian country but need to be recognising what that means for the way we communicate.
Nigel gave a great example: The question to a teen was,
“do you think the Christmas story is true?”
“No” …. was the reply
“Why not?”
“Well, Reindeers can’t fly can they!”

I was doing some work in a School a few years ago and the Vicar came in to do an assembly. He led the whole school in a rendition of the Lords Prayer, which they recited, word perfect.
I was surprised/impressed but wanted to see what it had meant to them so in one of the lessons I asked,
“You all prayed the Lords Prayer this morning ….. what does trespass mean?”
There was a sea of thirty blank expressions but one lad was determined to have a stab at it and attempted to give the word, as he understood it, some sort of religious context. “Is it,” he asked, “Walking on Jesus’s grave?” (Good try I thought)
Huge assumption from the vicar that anyone would understand what they’d been taught to pray, I wonder what assumptions we make?
We’re missionairies in a culture where all the reference points have gone!

Short termismitus

Short termism is the Kryptonite to the heroic work that goes on with young people!
At the network (of youth workers) meeting yesterday we were encouraged to “Fly Kites” and work out where we’d like our ministry to be in 10 years! It was an exciting way to be thinking but with funding struggles, two or three year contracts and visions that tend to be short term ….. not practically useful.
It’s not by any means limited to the faith based sector and is apparent across the board. Neighbourhood Regeneration projects suffer greatly …… just when trust and ownership is beginning to emerge, funding runs out breeding more cycnicism and frustration.
West Berkshire Nightstop (emergency accommodation for homeless young people) have been running succesfully for two years but are now looking for continuation funding. Amazingly many trusts will only fund new (unproven) projects but will not offer any continuation funding to projects that have proven to make a difference.
All very frustrating but some good news! My friend Yvonne has been the youth and community worker at a church for 9 years and is on a permanent contract! May this catch on!

Flannelgraph …. the powerpoint of the 1960’s

Respect to Dave for being the number one google search if you are looking for flannelgraph. Anyone who’s looking to re-create lost Church traditions by reinstating flannelgraph (kinda like fuzzy-felt but bigger and with Bible type scenes) may be amused by these anarchic and theologically interesting offerings on the wib site.
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Onion moments and vinyl paint

On Camp this summer, for the sort of reasons that don’t make sense outside of camp, each night at the roadshow I would have to answer a surprise question while sitting in a leather armchair in the glare of a spotlight. Favourite question was,
“Ian can you describe your favourite onion moment?”
I love the level of profound absurdity that teenagers come up with, fantastic creativity. I’ve also noticed that if you can cope with the absurd, then the serious may follow.
Once after doing some fairly serious input with a group I don’t know and opening it up to questions, I was asked, “Do you find vinyl paint too reflective?”
“on the whole, no” I replied …. “but are you reflecting on what I’ve said?”
We then had a wonderful session which would throw up deep questions punctuated with more of the absurd.
Maybe all Youth work jobs should take a leaf out of the dating ad’s, “Must have a Good sense of humour!”

Aim it at the teens

Just got back from preaching at the gig which I turned up at last night, finally got there with me and a congregation tonight!
It was a Eucharist specifically aimed at young people and I prepared accordingly. As it happened there were a vast range of ages there but I spoke specifically in a way that would engage the teens. Really good evening and the teens were involved in the service including all the music, readings and the like.
The Bloggable bit is this: Great reaction from the adults, they were really really enthusiastic about the preach. It seems to me that adult-format sermons impact some of the adults and none of the teens. A teen-format sermon engages the teens and a lot of the adults.
I know that this is a huge generalisation but look at how many adults turn up to youth-led services! Why?
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Unusual Youth Work tools no.1

Was early for a gig I was supposed to be speaking at, so I went for a ride on the Brompton (a folding bike), dropped down a hill into a village and through a load of teenagers. Inevitable (and slightly sarcastic) shout of “Nice Bike Mr!” so I stopped to say Hi, once I’d shown them that the bike would fold into a package in 15 seconds they were really impressed and we had a good chat. They all had a turn at riding it and they taught me a better way of controlling speed on a Skateboard (not convinced I can do it though!) Anyone want to pay me to run a course on “Detached work using folding bicycles”
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Anyway, very glad I had a fun time as it turns out they’d given me the wrong date for the gig and it is, in fact, tomorrow!!!!!

TV or not TV? that is still a question

Good Post from Sarah. I agree TV is useful, I’m not anti TV as such and yes, Danger Mouse is of course, awesome. I think I have a problem with the way everything is packaged and sound-bited (new word!) for TV. The Lyrics of 1991’s “TV the drug of the nation” I reckon are still profound …. for example,
“Where straight teeth in your mouth
are more important than the words
that come out of it”

I want to understand and appreciate the culture around me but I guess my prefered mediums are listening/talking, radio and Films. I’m very grateful to everyone who keeps me up to date with TV though (and lets me watch theirs!)and every year I buy the DVD compilation of the best adverts of the year as I’m very intersted in the way that advertisers target culture(s)! Interestingly TV viewing figures overall have been going down. Let the debate continue …………