Thursday, February 28, 2013

Wrestling With Homosexuality. . . What's A Christian to Do? . . .

I didn't sleep well last night. Another conversation about homosexuality was something I was a part of yesterday. There have been plenty of these conversations. . . more and more, in fact, in the last few months. But the issue is rising quickly to the point where we must all intentionally resolve to read, study, pray, consult. . . and then come down somewhere. I've been working to figure out how to best help parents, youth workers, and others do that. I've been traveling on this journey for some time. Today, it's becoming more intentional and directed.

My conversation yesterday was with a table full of highly-respected Christian friends. Each of them have had a profound impact on my life and ministry in some way. But it was evident that we don't all agree. And, our disagreement is evidence of the fact that the "us vs. them" battle that once raged with a fairly well-defined line in the sand between the church and the world isn't that well defined any more. On the one hand, this is a very good thing. What it means is that more and more followers of Christ are realizing that we haven't taken the time to understand the issues, to understand the Scriptures, and to understand the grace and mercy of Christ that we are called to show to those who wrestle with same-sex attraction. The issue needs to be raised and we need to wrestle with it. It's time. God does not hate fags.

But I'm still working to process the "on the other hand" that I left the table feeling. It was clear that all of us around the table have been engaged in the much-needed process of developing the aforementioned understandings. Cultural realities demand engagement in this process. But there was a lack of unanimity around the table. Perhaps I shouldn't have been surprised. If we had had the time to really unpack our individual journeys with deep honesty I'm thinking that we would have told a variety of stories (both our own stories and those of others), we would hold to differing views of Scripture, we would vary in our hermeneutic, and we would be coming to a variety of different conclusions on matters related to homosexuality, same-sex attraction, discipleship for homosexuals, gay marriage, and homosexual sexual activity. . . to name just a few things.

At this point in my own journey, I believe (as I've been saying for a couple of years now) that this is going to be a primary defining issue for individuals, for families, for churches, and for youth ministries. It's also going to be very, very divisive. New lines are going to be drawn in the sand. I also know that many of us may lose friends. . . not because of a lack of compassion. . . but because we don't agree on the ethical questions related to the issue. People will get mad.

In our conversation yesterday someone relayed the words of one prominent Christian thinker on this topic regarding our starting point. He said, "We must start by knowing our sexual ethic." I agree. The reality is that once we know our sexual ethic, we will have drawn a line in the sand and our "camps" will be established. The dividing lines will have been drawn.

Over the course of the last couple of weeks I encountered some things that have driven me deeper into pondering, praying, and searching the Scriptures for increased clarity, and to double and triple-check where I've already landed on this as a Christian. I will continue to do that, especially when friends who might not agree with me might not agree with me. I want to respect and honor them by constantly checking myself. Without apology, my starting point has to be the Scriptures. . .  not my feelings, not my political leanings, not the prevailing spirit of the times ("Zeitgeist" as the Germans call that). . . whether that's the zeitgeist in the church or the zeitgeist in the culture. I also want to be a person of grace. . . first and foremost to those who deal with same-sex attraction, and then to those who may disagree with me and my sexual ethic on these matters.

What is it that I've encountered over the last couple of weeks? First, there were the conversations I had while touring Washington State and Idaho with Jason Soucinek on behalf of our CPYU Sexual Integrity Initiative. Second, there was the "have you seen this?" email from a friend containing the Amazon Paper White Kindle commercial (see below). Then there's the local birthing center's ad from Hallmark and the greeting card company's willingness to customize their newborn record products with an "additional Mommy" or "additional Daddy."

As ethicist Dennis Hollinger says in his book The Meaning of Sex, "Christian ethics is the moral ideal to which God calls believers in life. Rooted in the character and actions of the Triune God, the Christian ethic is known through divine revelation, motivated by redemption in Christ, and empowered by the indwelling work of the Holy Spirit." Because of what I read and know from the Scriptures, we are called to exercise a counter-cultural presence in the world. It's for that reason that I must default to a position informed first and foremost by the revelation of God in Christ and the scriptures. At the same time, I need to battle my natural inclination to default to a natural theology - the kind that's so prominent in our culture today - to "just celebrate and embrace who you are." That would be downright dangerous for me in my own heterosexual sex life.

It's a big task that's ahead of us. We must care for those who struggle while embracing a biblical sexual ethic in our own lives. And, we must teach those under our care to do the same. The difficulty will intensify as we debate what constitutes "a biblical sexual ethic."

More to come. . . .

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Sex on Campus. . . The Preschool Campus. . .

By now, this is old news. . . but I haven't been able to bring myself to blog on it because any attempt to do so seemed like sensationalism. Then I realized that as cultural shifts and trends like this one go, that which was once called "sensational" typically moves into the mainstream. That's why we need to talk about it.

Twenty days ago, a story broke out of Carson, California that deserves our attention. It's not only an indicator of what's already here, but of what is just over the horizon. The California Department of Social Services stepped in to shut down the First Lutheran Church Child Development Center preschool when it learned that oral sex had allegedly taken place between preschoolers. Allegations of several incidents - at least seven by some reports - came from several parents. One father said this: "My son and this female student were found in the bathroom with my son's pants and underwear around his ankles. They have a sworn statement that an adult witnessed the little girl performing oral sex on my son." 

That's all we know. Now, we're left to speculate on what kinds of events and circumstances combined in these kid's worlds in the handful of years they've been alive. What kinds of things have they been exposed to? What kinds of things have they experienced or seen?

Age-compression is a term that captures a sad reality about life for kids in today's world. It's a term that describes how kids are experiencing - at younger and younger ages - things that are difficult even for adults to handle. They see these things, they believe these things, they learn these things. . . and then they do these things that they believe are normal, acceptable, and even right. Again, this case is probably only the tip of an iceberg for what is around the corner as the future of childhood unfolds. 

I couldn't help be think about this sad case when we were gathered together last Saturday with a host of youth workers, parents, pastors, counselors, and others for our one-day CPYU seminar, The Porn Pandemic: How Children and Teens Are Influenced and Shaped By Pornography. I've heard far too many stories of pre-school, elementary school, middle school, and high school kids who are seeing, believing, and doing. During the seminar, I talked to the folks about a seminar I gave on pornography at a seminary five or six years ago. At that time, the organizers asked me to speculate on what the future held based on what we knew about pornography then. It wasn't rocket science. It wasn't a stroke of genius. It simply took common sense for me to share the following:
  • There will be greater exposure to pornography for kids at younger and younger ages. 
  • The pornography envelope will be stretched with more and more bizarre stuff at greater and greater extremes.
  • We will become desensitized to that which exists, leading us to seek out the stuff at the edge of envelope.
  • Pornography production and use will no longer be a matter of right and wrong, but a matter of personal preference.
  • The things that people see and hear depicted in pornography will become normalized, accepted, and celebrated.
  • Pornography use will be seen as a virtue, not a vice.
This is why we need to be talking about pornography more and more and more. This is why we are committing ourselves here at CPYU to dealing with this issue more and more and more. You can learn more about what we're doing to address the pornography issue by visiting the online home of our Digital Kids Initiative. You can download a Parents' Primer on Internet Pornography. You can schedule us to come to your church or community to talk about the pornography issue. And, for those of you attending the Simply Youth Ministry Conference later this week in Indianapolis, I will be teaching a pre-conference track (Friday!) on pornography. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Youth Workers and Passion. . . The Need To Be Your Message. . .

There's a trend in ministry. . . youth ministry included. . . that seems somewhat troubling to me. Maybe I'm just thinking too much about it, but the more I think about it the more I don't think that I'm overreacting. I'm not even sure what to call it. Maybe it's best for me to try to describe it. . . and then we can name it. In its extreme form it's been called plagiarism. We were steered away from plagiarism in elementary school when our teacher would simply tell us to "put it into your own words."

The worst case of plagiarism that I ever encountered in ministry was something I stumbled upon while doing a Google search for something I had written a few years before. As often happens to me with my scrambled mind and even more scrambled computer filing system, I couldn't find what I was looking for on my computer. Knowing that we had posted the article on our website, the quickest way to find it was through Google. And so I Googled the article's title. . . and it came up. But the first result in the search wasn't on our website. It was on the website of a church. Thrilled that someone had thought enough of the article to post it on their site, I quickly clicked on the link to see how the folks at the church had used the article. What I found put me in an a very awkward position. The article was posted on the church's sermon page. But it wasn't posted as my article. Sure enough, it was my article, but it had been preached by the youth pastor on one of his Sundays - word for word - and passed off as his own. I did follow-up with the youth pastor to let him know not so much that I was angry or hurt by his actions, but that he wasn't doing himself any favors by plagiarizing anyone's work. He apologized profusely (I think he was really really scared) and explained to me that he had been just too busy to write his own sermon. Even sadder was the fact that I wouldn't even consider the article coming close to being sermon material, but that's another story.

Which brings me to my concern over the troubling youth ministry trend. More and more, I'm finding that youth workers (and yes, even pastors) are buying, borrowing, stealing and using other people's sermons and lesson plans. Sure, the trend is being fed by an entire cottage industry that makes these things abundantly available online and in printed form. Where permission is granted by a publisher or individual who makes these things available, that's all fine and well. But does the practice somehow serve to dumb us down, make us less studious, and keep us from growing and developing ourselves in ministry?

A couple of weeks ago I had a great conversation with a new friend, Mark Kaminski, who is a young middle school pastor in Michigan. Mark was excitedly telling me about a teaching series he had developed for his students. I could hear the eagerness, conviction, and passion in his voice. When I asked Mark about how he puts his stuff together he told me that he has a hard time using pre-packaged curriculum. He explained that when he uses other people's stuff the passion just isn't there. For Mark to teach effectively, he has to teach what has become a part of himself.

Sadly, conversations like that are happening less and less frequently. It was refreshing to hear Mark talk about his reading, study, and writing habits. I know that there are many youth workers and pastors out there like Mark. But I also know that many of us have just gotten too busy, too sidetracked, and maybe a little bit too lazy to do the hard work of filling ourselves with regular deposits of spiritual depth from which we can make hefty withdrawals resulting in passionate ministry that flows from within ourselves and which we own.

Anybody can teach other people's stuff. More and more of us need to commit to going deeper to develop ourselves and the messages that will flow from that depth. What are you doing to read widely? To study the Scriptures? To study theology? To develop your message for your audience?

The Apostle Paul encouraged the young Timothy to be zealous in knowing the Word and how to handle it: "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15). That's a good reminder for me this morning.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Youth Workers, Digital Discernment, and Those Sneaky Isms. . . .

Last Thursday I blogged about the dangers of not paying attention to what life on the digital frontier is doing to us. . . and how getting sidetracked and losing focus can lead to some dangers. Let me propose that those of us in youth ministry who desire to live and minister on the emerging digital frontier in what Tim Challies calls that “sweet spot” of “disciplined discernment” (see my last blog post for more on that) should grapple with the fact that there are dangers, that we should point out those dangers, and that we should address those dangers from a biblical perspective. As I’ve looked more closely at how both we and our students are embracing and using technology, I’ve noticed that our unconscious love affair with some cultural “isms” can be clearly seen if we choose to carefully “wade” our way into the waters of this brave new world. When we dive in thoughtlessly, we indulge our pre-existent tendency toward these things. And, when we continue to swim, splashing around carelessly fosters the growth and expansion of these bad tendencies in our lives. Sadly, our tendency to “dive” in means that we are likely to miss what’s really happening. Here are four “isms” that demand our attention and a response of “disciplined discernment.”

First, there’s pragmatism. I’m not talking here about a well-thought-out philosophy. Rather, it’s a simple type of functional practicality that most of us have assimilated into our lives without even knowing it. It’s about living at the level of experience with a kind of cavalier “works for me!” attitude that leads us to blindly embrace everything that we assume will make our lives better. . . never thinking about whether those things or their use could have a dark side. No doubt, technology has improved our lives in countless ways. But to assume that “it’s good because it works” is really not a good thing. For example, a cell phone gives me the ability to stay in touch with anybody at just about any time. That’s a good thing! But if we lack the discipline to use a cell phone responsibly, our obsession with staying in touch might actually get in the way of our real-world flesh-and-blood relationships. Who among us hasn’t found ourselves present with our family, but so absorbed in communicating with others that we are actually distancing ourselves from the folks sitting with  us in the same room?

Second, there’s our love affair with emotionalism. Maybe it’s even an emotional connection to emotionalism. Hey, who doesn’t want to feel good? But we are so committed to avoiding pain and pursuing pleasure that the old 60’s hippie mantra – “If it feels good. . . do it!” – still applies. We don’t say it. We live it. Think about how the principle influences our eating habits. Our culture needs to be reminded that fast food and pizza aren’t better for us than fruits and vegetables. Still, we follow our culinary emotions even when we’re told it’s not good for us. Then, we wake up one day when it’s too late, asking, “What have I done to myself?!?” In a 1998 speech, media critic Neil Postman said, “The consequences of technological change are always vast, often unpredictable, and largely irreversible.” Without stopping to think carefully about the technology we use along with how we are going to use it, we cave to our emotions and dive right in. My guess is that a few years from now, we’ll regretfully be recognizing dangers that we should have recognized today.

Third, there’s our growing cultural love affair with ourselves. . . also known as narcissism. We live with ourselves placed at the center of the universe. For the person who knowingly or unknowingly worships the god of self, decisions are based on what will elevate and advance me. This idolatry even sneaks into our kids’ lives at the level of their service to others. A growing number of our youth group mission trip participants may not be so much driven by a desire to love and serve God by loving and serving others, as they are by a desire to elevate and serve themselves by building an impressive and well-rounded resume for a college recruiter. New advances in technology tend to cater to our narcissistic bent, allowing us to create an idealized self (or multiple selves!) that we post for the entire world to see. Then, we promote ourselves and “our brand” to “a following” that we endeavor to build. What results is a vicious cycle. The more we advance ourselves, the more self-consumed, self-promoting, and self-worshipping we become.

And fourth, there’s our leaning towards a type of contemporary Gnosticism, a faulty approach to life that has snuck into our understanding of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. Life is conveniently divided into the categories of the spiritual and everything else. While we recognize that God has something to do with the spiritual part of our lives, we conveniently eliminate God from having anything to do with any other part of our lives. The result is that we fool ourselves into believing that we can be a Christian. . . and then do whatever we want however we want. This reality is captured in Christian Smith’s descriptor of the type of faith embraced by today’s kids – moralistic, therapeutic, deism. In our contemporary world, young and old alike fail to understand that our calling is to integrate our faith into every nook and cranny of our lives. . . including how we choose to use and live with our technology. The fact is that our selves are integrated wholes rather than a collection of unrelated parts. If God is truly Lord of my life, then I will endeavor to understand what it means to allow God to be Lord of my technology. . . rather than inventing a separate “spiritual” realm where I tuck God away. . . keeping Him separate.

It’s been almost fifty years since media critic MarshallMcCluhan prophetically said this about media and technology: “We shape our tools and afterward our tools shape us.” History has proven that every technological advance presents us with moral issues and difficulties. The problem is, those moral issues and difficulties usually don’t show up until a few years down the road, long after we should have been “wading” rather than “diving.” This reality typifies who we are as Christians. When we’ve had and expressed concerns, it’s usually been over technology’s content (violence, sex, profanity) rather than technologies ability to indulge and expand things like our tendencies towards pragmatism, emotionalism, narcissism, and Gnosticism. The question for us as youth workers is this: “How is technology and our use of it affecting our relationships with God, with ourselves, with others, and with the world?” Our commitment to spiritual nurture and the life of discipleship demands that we ponder, keep pondering, and answer this question for ourselves and with our students. After all, it is the Gospel – and not our technological tools – that should shape us. Committing to this approach will bring glory to God and save a few “garage doors.”

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Driving Through the Garage Door. . . Thoughtlessness and Technology. . .

Jeff Van Gundy admits he wasn’t thinking. . . at least not about what he should have been thinking about. At the time, Van Gundy was the coach of basketball’s New York Knicks. Driving home after a game, he was preoccupied with thinking about how his team could have stopped Grant Hill. He pulled into his driveway and right into his garage. . . without ever hitting the button to lift the door! When Van Gundy tells the story, it’s hilarious. 

The inattention that led to his misfortune is also more common that we’d like to admit. Who among us hasn’t been so focused on some task at hand that we haven’t messed up by missing something we should have noticed, thought about, or been paying attention to?  Usually, though, it doesn’t result in something as minor as a destroyed garage door.

Children and teens are especially susceptible to missing things for the simple reason that they’re consumed with finding their way on the journey through monumental developmental changes and upheaval, a task that’s made even more confusing and complex by their search for answers to life’s most basic questions. Their preoccupation is complicated by the fact that it’s mostly unconscious. Most of them aren’t even aware of the fact that they’re thoughtlessly “driving” through “garage doors” on their passage from childhood to adulthood. It’s all part of the way we get so focused on some things, that some really important things never garner the attention they should.

One place where we see this happening in today’s youth culture is on what’s been dubbed “The Digital Frontier” – that new and never-before-seen technology-induced landscape that’s unfolding in front of us, around us, and even within us. . . just like the Wild, Wild West once unfolded for the pioneers. And like our ancestors who embarked on the adventurous journey westward-ho, we need to be consciously aware that dangers lurk in this world filled with great opportunity and blessing. What makes this reality especially challenging is the fact that those of us called to lead and nurture kids into this new world  - youth workers, parents, pastors, teachers, etc. – are “Digital Immigrants.” We haven’t been born here. We’ve arrived. And like the immigrants who showed up at Ellis Island, most of us have that “deer in headlights” look as we try to navigate our own journey in this strange place that’s unfolding at breakneck speed. As a result, we’re prone to miss the dangers. Our kids, however, are “Digital Natives” who have been born into and onto the Digital Frontier. Because their media and technology are extensions of themselves, they don’t know life without it. So they, too, aren’t really paying much attention. They’re just letting life unfold as it will.

Another way to think about it is to ponder what happens when you take a group of kids to the beach. Some of them can’t wait to get into the water. With a loud “Woo Hoo,” they run full-speed towards the water and don’t even stop when they drop their towel in the sand. Oblivious to any potential dangers that might exist under the surface, they risk injury by diving in head-first. Then there are the waders. Aware that unseen danger might exist, they take their time, they move slowly, and they ease their way into the water as they carefully assess the situation. When it comes to life on the Digital Frontier, we and our students tend to be divers rather than waders. . . embracing everything without thought and then MAYBE asking questions later we when discover that there might just be some risks that exist.

Perhaps one of the most pressing ministry tasks we face in today’s world is our need to carefully endeavor to think Christianly and bring glory to God through the way we engage with and use our technology. . . along with nurturing our students into doing the same. In other words, we should be thinking and teaching seriously about the implications, dangers, and blessings of life on the Digital Frontier. Proverbs 22:3 reminds us the “the prudent sees dangers and hides himself, but the simple go and suffer for it.”

Blogger, writer, and pastor Tim Challies is someone who is being consciously prudent rather than carelessly simple. As a Christian who was also a lover and embracer of all things technology, Challies realized he was messing up by missing things he should have noticed, should have thought about, and should have paid attention to. His wake-up call came when he asked himself, “Do I own my technology, or does my technology own me?” Hmmmm. . . . good question. Challies has laid out his answer in his thoughtful book, TheNext Story: Life and Faith After the Digital Explosion, a guide for viewing and living this journey through a Biblical framework. In The Next Story, he lays out a challenge to bring together experience, theory, and theology. Experience is  about how we use technology. This is typically the only level we and our kids function at. If the technology exists, we embrace and enlist it into our lives. Theory is about how technology operates and the impact it will have on our lives. . . something we usually don’t think about because we’re too busy immersing ourselves in and enjoying our experience to consider how all this stuff might affect us now and for the long-term. Theology is about how God expects us to use technology along with how the Bible informs that use. All I have to do is look in the mirror for a moment of self-evaluation to know that Challies is right when he concludes that we’re experience rich and theory/theology poor. We aren’t enlisting the theoretical and theological tools at our disposal to make sense of the consequences of the use of our technology. When we bring together experience, theory, and theology, it does – as Challies says – create a “sweet spot” of “disciplined discernment.” That’s where we need to live if we don’t want to “drive through the door” and if we want to teach our kids to avoid doing the same.

Tomorrow, I'll throw a list at you. . . a list of cultural "isms" that should cause us to carefully wade rather than recklessly dive.

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Bible and the Super Bowl. . . .

Most of us watched, didn't we? And most of us watched the way we normally watch. . . disengaged. . . thoughtlessly. . . seeking to be entertained by the creativity (yes, some really great creativity!) of the stagers, the singers, and commercial script-writers. "Come on. . . make me laugh!" or "Make me forget about the trials and travails of my real life for a couple of hours!" is the way we watch. . . usually without even knowing that that's what's happening.

My morning-after confession includes the fact that I didn't watch as carefully as I normally do. When I say "carefully" I mean that there where times when my attention was directed elsewhere. . . like to the two other people in the room. . . or the newspaper. . . or (can I admit this?) Downton Abbey for an hour. Sure, here at CPYU we encourage people to watch carefully. But sometimes you've just got to shut down for awhile. . . like when it gets to be too much of the same-old discouraging thing both on and off the field.

But I did see enough . . . most of it actually. . . to allow me to endeavor to be somewhat thoughtful in the way that theologian Karl Barth used to say. . . "Every Christian should start their day with their Bible in one hand and the newspaper (or Super Bowl!) in the other." Yesterday morning's appropriately-timed sermon on pride was helpful once 6:30pm rolled around. I was already convicted about my own self. Now, I was feeling convicted about my own self's culture.

I also watched with the theologian John Stott's reminder of our need to engage in "dual-listening" in mind. Stott wrote in his book The Contemporary Christian, “We stand between the Word and the world with consequent obligation to listen to both. We listen to the Word to discover even more of the riches of Christ. We listen to the world in order to discern which of Christ’s riches are needed most and how to present them in their best light.”

So, what did you hear as you "dual-listened" last night? I'm curious. Here are some general observations that I went to bed mulling over in my own head.

First, the Apostle Paul would most likely respond to us and our sport and consumer-obsessed culture in the same way he responded when he arrived in Athens. . . he would find it all greatly distressing. Why? Because our landscape is very similar to theirs. . . littered with idols. . . and I'm not sure I would say that our idols are any more difficult to see if we are willing to stand back and take a good look. There's the idol of consumerism (think commercials). There's the idol of sport (think about what a spectacle the Super Bowl has become). There's the idols of self (think about the "hey! look at me!" posturing that goes on after a player exercises their God-given athletic ability to the glory of self). There's there idol of celebrity (think Ray Lewis. . . think about Beyonce arriving on stage by rising above all else in the midst of theatrical fog). And so forth and so on.

Second, the Super Bowl gives us a quick and obvious peek into where and how we think we should find our identity. It's in what we look like. It's in what we own. It's in anything and everything but who we've been made to be in the image of God.

Third, the glory of God was everywhere last night. In the agile and athletic talents of the athletes. In the brains of the coaches. In the creativity of the commercial-makers. In the voices and talents of every halftime performer. In the engineering technology that allows us to watch. . . and show replays. . . and turn the lights back on. Yes, we have been made in the image of God who has in turn gifted us to be culture-makers. God can be seen in all of that and more. . . even if we choose to use those God-given gifts to the glory and honor of someone or something other than him.

Fourth, play is good! We are meant to enjoy life. We are meant to laugh. We are meant to sing. We are meant to dance. It is essential to our humanity. The real question is, "Who are we playing, enjoying, singing, and dancing to?"

And finally (although there's so much more we could talk about), yesterday's extravaganza exposes both our hunger for redemption and "the feasts" we think will fill us up. We've all been made by God and for God. Our brokenness leaves us groping in the dark for something that will answer our hunger and need. We are looking for something that will fix it all and make us feel right. And so we see things like stardom, sex appeal, victory, and stuff being heaped in huge proportions onto the cultural banquet table. We eat and leave. . . only to come back more hungry than before.

Here's what I need to remind myself of this morning: Ultimately, the search for our identity is a spiritual quest. Alistar McGrath captures that reality in his book The Unknown God:  "If there is something that has the power to fulfill truly and deeply, then for many it is something unknown, hidden in mystery and secrecy. We move from one thing and place to another, lingering only long enough to discover that it is not what we were hoping for before renewing our quest for fulfillment. The great certainty of our time seems to be that satisfaction is nowhere to be found. We roam around, searching without finding, yearning without being satisfied. The pursuit of happiness is often said to be one of the most fundamental rights. Yet this happiness proves astonishingly elusive. So often, those who actively pursue happiness find that it slips through their fingers. It is an ideal which is easily put into words, yet it seems to remain beyond our reach. We have long become used to the fact that the richest people in this world are often the most miserable, yet fail to see the irony of this. Perhaps it is just one of the sad paradoxes of being human. Maybe we will have to get used to the fact that we are always going to fail in our search for happiness. Part of the cruel irony of human existence seems to be that the thngs we thought would make us happy fail to do so."

At one point during last night's game, a friend connected me to fascinating and thought-provoking piece by Matthew Vos, a sociologist who is a follower of Christ and a watcher of sport culture. The article is from Comment magazine. . . a magazine I love. The article is entitled "Prizes and Consumables: The Super Bowl as a Theology of Women." If you are a Christian and you watched the game, your Super Bowl experience is not complete until you give this article a read.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Super Bowl Commercial. . . Now That's What We're Talkin' About! . .

If you caught Monday's blog you know that once again, we're encouraging parents and youth workers to seize the teachable $8 million marketing moments (or, more accurately, minutes) that will come flying at us before, during and after this Sunday's Super Bowl. USA Today ran a great article today. . . "10 Super Bowl Ad Trends to Watch for Sunday" . . . in today's edition. Just the inclusion of that article tells you how BIG the commercials have become. Not only that, but USA Today also ran a one-page ad of its own soliciting "panelists" to log in on Sunday to help gauge the best and worst ads through their online "admeter." It just gets crazier and crazier and crazier doesn't it?

Once again, I want to remind you about our free download - "CPYU's Ad Filtering Questions For Super Bowl XLVII" - that you can use with your kids at home or at youth group this Sunday. Give it a look.

And while you're giving things a look, here's a Super Bowl Commercial from Allstate that you'll see this coming Sunday during the game. Thanks to Chris Wagner in our CPYU office for alerting us all to this one. . . and it's one well worth talking about! Oh. . and by the way. . .word is that one of the "sexiest" ads will feature a nerdly guy named "Walter." Could they start using another name????