On being quoted

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I’ve been quoted in an article on youth work in the Church Times and I’m finding it quite amusing to see the stuff I say written down, weird!
A lovely lady phoned me a week or so ago and I delivered about half an hour of stream-of-consciousness musing on Youth work and especially employed Christian youth work in the UK. Some of this has been taken down in evidence and used! Amongst other things I was asked about adolescence and in my response I used a idea I’d picked up from somewhere to describe the intensity of this stage and age …. as “the human condition on steroids” This appears as a quote attributed to me which was not my intention so I’d like to apologise to the originator.
I’m pleased with the article though and I like the fact that I got to participate in a piece that involved Dr Sarah Brush (former blogger), Dr Nick Shepherd and Chris Curtis.

Enterprising but inconsistent

There isn’t a Haynes Manual for my van! The ubiquitous and very cool T4 in all its guises is uncatered for by the bible of DIY home mechanics, the Haynes Manual. This is hard to believe so I looked out a dealer in VW vannage literature who said that Haynes position was that the T4 was too complex for the home mechanic.
enterprise manual.jpgI was prepared to accept this, that is until today when I discover the existence of this, the Haynes Manual of the Starship Enterprise. So I’m just blogging a plea for some consistency here, believing as I do that warp drive and teleport are a little more complex than any systems you will find in a 1991 Vdub van. This is born out by this article on how the warp engines ‘actually work’
Looking on the bright side though it does mean that although I will not have the Haynes know-how to repair the crude lump of a 1900 diesel, I can replace it with a warp drive.
(We once, and only once, hit 74mph on an unrestricted section of the German Autobahn, so multiples of light speed could be very exciting indeed … and may require an upgrade to the brakes)
Happy days.
Captains log supplemental: Just noticed it’s subtitled “the owners workshop manual!” Given that even a poorly maintained 2nd hand Enterprise is going to be £1.7billion (minimum), an owner can probably afford a mechanic me thinks!

Unviversal constants in the Residential Paradigm

I’m off on a Youthwork residential tomorrow night and it would be a safe bet to say, it will be Spag Bol’ to eat on the first night! This is some sort of unwritten law of residentials and exists as a universal constant to rank alongside Planck, the speed of light and toast landing butter side down.
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Given that most Youth work is rather more Hesienberg than Planck, this discovery of a universal constant within the Residential paradigm could be really important. So, are there others? That is, are there things that happen or exist on a residential that are theoretically subject to choice and possibility but in practice always stay the same?
I may just have had too much coffee (ooh there’s another pre-requisite of the residential) but the idea is amusing me! Have a think, make a comment and help the blog morph into a critical portal for parascience! Over to you …..

A million miles in a thousand years

million miles in a 1000.jpgI’ve finished Donald Miller’s “A million miles in a thousand years” and I’m really glad that I read it.
The subtitle or tag line is “What I learned while editing my life” and it serves as a pretty good guide to the book. Miller is the author of the hugely successful “Blue Like Jazz“, a semi-autobiographical series of stories about the authors own life, encounters and faith journey. ‘Million Miles‘ is what happens when he is approached for the story of ‘Blue Like Jazz‘ to become a film.
What Miller discovers is that you can’t make a film of Blue Like Jazz or even Millers own life as the movie would: a) not work, and b) be too boring. (they must instead make a story that enables the telling of the Blue Like Jazz story). This sends him into a wrestling with what story is and isn’t, and then as a result further into the question of ‘what is the story we choose to live?’ The book is funny, moving and even uncomfortable at times as the author (and hence the reader) meet the challenge of the choices we make or fail to make.
I thought Millers critique of societal expectations of posessions or relationships offering completeness was particularly well explored, challenged and contextualised.
Like I said, I’m really glad I read the book. It’s full of great stories and in the telling challenges us as to the stories we choose to tell (live). Miller also encourages us to be a little more Danish! (You’ll have to read the book to find out why)
ht to Stu von henneheizungmeister who brought me the book back from the states

A chance to Summit up

I’ve just filled in the feedback form for the ‘Youthwork Summit‘ and am still reflecting on a great day with nearly 600 of my Youthwork sisterin and bretherin. The rationale for the day was this:
‘a new kind of youth work event… breaking down old ways of doing things, and finding new ones; listening to a wider range of voices than ever before, from parts of the church – and the world outside it – that normally we wouldn’t stop to engage with.’
Was it achieved? Yes I think it was (…. and it very much laid a foundation that can be built on to push the boundaries further and the conversation on.)
The format was for everyone to gather together alternating between two different rooms, either the basement for coffee and conversation, or upstairs in the main auditorium where we’d hear a number of ten minute presentations before we’d break and discuss once again.
The inputs were thusly kept fairly fast paced and diverse … and therefore provoking agreement, disagreement, new-thinking, inspiration, challenge or uncertainty to promote reflective thinking and conversation. All of this framed by the worship led by the Rend Collective Experiment.
I tried to keep notes but failed miserably, thankfully Ricky did a sterling job of this (you’ll find them here) and I’m using his record to re-visit the input. Highlights for me were the Young people from Tower Hamlets, Christopher Pilkington (TV Exec) with some astoundingly useful input of how to frame and tell a story that grips and communicates, and Yanah Nightingale (an undergrad at Cambridge) with a great piece of theological reflection on leadership.
The input was quite massively varied in content and style and some of the speakers could have helped us enormously by defining at the start what, in one sentence, was their pitch to the summit. (I sometimes didn’t understand the ‘why’ in terms of what was offered)
My congratulations to Martin and the team though for what was a REALLY important day, establishing as it did a gathering where denominationalism should be left at the door and where the input was not designed to be tailored to the views of everyone present. Faith and practice development through reflection and conversation.


Finally caved in and signed up with Twitter, just have to work out how it works now!!!
Being at the Youthwork Summit exerted some powerful pro Twitter peer pressure. Tweets are being projected onto the side of the screen and I was amazed how many Twitter users were among the gathered Youth work community. I have contributed one tweet but find myself curiously paralysed as to what constitutes a worthwhile tweet … surprising given that the world of blogging should offer some transferable skill or confidence. Even more bizarrely (and wonderfully*) a few people have signed up to @youthblogoxford, eek
*thank you

Our Business

I often dig into Marketing material because they have the most money for youth research and cultural analysis. This presentation on Marketing by Graham Brown is both fascinating and useful. One of the statements he makes is:
“Red Bull will become the Gold Standard of Youth Marketing because it understands its business is “energy” not “energy drinks”
It made me wonder:
Does our organisation know its business is “life” and not religious education?
The presentation also flagged up these two key questions:
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Youthwork Summit

I’m really looking forward to The Youthwork Summit on Saturday and hope to bump into you if you are going to be there. On Facebook yesterday was a photo of the 500 delegate packs when LCET and friends had finished packing them. For the record this is the one I want:
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See you on Saturday my fine friends and fellow youth workers