Saturday, May 30, 2015

You know... | Just like it says in the Bible

William Barclay said the legal experts: “…laid upon men the thousand and one burdens of the ceremonial law; but they did not keep them themselves, because they were experts in evasion.” They wrote up rules for just about everything.

The limit of a Sabbath day's journey was about half a mile from a person’s home. But if you tied a rope across the end of your street, the experts said the end of the street became your residence and you could go half a mile beyond that. And if on Friday afternoon you left enough food for two meals somewhere — anywhere — that point technically became your residence and you could go half a mile beyond that! You know, just like it says in the Bible.

One of the works forbidden on the Sabbath was tying knots in ropes and cords. But a woman was permitted to tie the knot in her girdle. So, by the transitive law of girdles, if you needed to draw a bucket of water from the well on the Sabbath, you could tie a girdle to the bucket, and then tie a rope to the girdle, and you were golden! You know, just like in the Bible.

The Sabbath code said: "...he who carries anything, whether it be in his right hand, or in his left hand, or in his bosom, or on his shoulder is guilty; but he who carries anything on the back of his hand, with his foot, or with his mouth, or with his elbow, or with his ear, or with his hair, or with his money bag turned upside down, or between his money bag and his shirt, or in the fold of his shirt or in his shoe, or in his sandal is guiltless, because he does not carry it in the usual way of carrying it out."

Healing sick people, however, was forbidden — no exceptions. You know, just like in the Bible.

[For another take on Just Like it Says in the Bible, hear these words coming from the mouth of the Post-Ironic Millennial]

[h/t William Barclay, THE DAILY STUDY BIBLE SERIES REVISED EDITION: THE GOSPEL OF LUKE (Philadelphia, Westminster Press, 1975) Luke 11:45-54]

[Image: William Blake, Moses Receiving the Law [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons]

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

abused emojis | some things are hard to spell out

Do children and teenagers (anyone of any age who is for any reason vulnerable, really) know how to get your attention when they need it?

Thursday, May 21, 2015

take them seriously | schoolboys threaten first

Friends in a small town on the fringe of a major metropolitan area are wrestling through a shockingly extended period of racist hostility and death threats against their son at his junior high school.

The specifically racist tone of the threats is outrageous and soul-shattering. That said, there are immediate physical safety issues that can and must be addressed while the community sorts out longer term questions about the common good.

Lethal violence related to school populations is rarer than many people think, and the research is so thorough and conclusive that I want to set out two things we know beyond a shadow of doubt:

  1. Not every student or former student who threatens violence follows through on the threat 
  2. Since 1974 in the US, every student or former student who committed lethal violence against his school population, threatened to do so beforehand

In every case of lethal school violence, someone knew a boy or young man intended to cause harm, but didn't believe it,
or failed to take it seriously,
or let personal loyalty overshadow wisdom and goodness,
or couldn't imagine what ended up happening, even after the perpetrator painted a picture.

Following deadly school violence in Ohio, I summarized what we know about all this. The observations were made with parents and youth workers in mind, so there's more to be said at the institutional and community level. But—for everyone, at every level—the message couldn't be clearer: Schoolboys threaten violence before they act out at school... so take them seriously.

Monday, May 18, 2015

in the wind | tweets from the space ending 05.17.15

The last study guide you'll ever need

T or F: The main reason teenagers don't use birth control or protection is fear their parents will find out

Muslims say they denounce terrorism + then get lambasted for failing to denounce terrorism

degrees of difference | HuffPo surveys changes in college students + college life 2005-2015

Mixed Mesages | or, A note from Chicago about white privilege h/t Polly Toner

Reading Rainbow The Next Generation | Launching Today

The Science of Scarcity | a provocative read on cycles of poverty

jim hancock: New Data | Generational Shifts in American Adolescents' Religious Orientation from 1966-2014

The Post-Ironic Millennial Speaks | Updated

Nones, Dones, and Flannel Graph Jesus |

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Nones, Dones, and Flannel Graph Jesus

Following a week of hand-wringing and recrimination about whether there's a future for christian faith, I have some thoughts and questions about a character I think of as Flannel Graph Jesus.

Flannel Graph Jesus is great for children. I get that. But did we make an intentional choice to stick with that all the way through adolescence? Do we really expect teenagers to take up their crosses and follow Flannel Graph Jesus every day of their lives?

Kids read the Harry Potter books from beginning to end. Kids read the Twilight series from start to finish. Kids read The Hunger Games over and over. (And, let's not forget John Green and other writers to whom kids pay attention because they respect them and draw them out as readers and people.)

Do we think we can spoon-feed them a bland, sugary, predigested Jesus and expect them to swallow? Is this our conscious strategy: Inviting teenagers to follow this ring tone Jesus? This topical Jesus? This sound bite Jesus? This Jesus who is just too short of breath to say more than a few words at a time?

And, whether it’s a conscious choice or not, how is that working out for us? Is it possible we’re losing kids at least partly because our Jesus is uncomplicated and predictable and easily managed? Do our students have the faintest clue why Jesus was a threat? Can they even begin to imagine why anyone would kill the Jesus we present? If not, is it any wonder if they don’t stick around for more?

[For another take on Flannel Graph Jesus, hear these words coming from the mouth of the Post-Ironic Millennial]

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Post-Ironic Millennial Speaks | Updated

This is Brian Boyle. Brian plays The Post-Ironic Millennial. His job, as The Post-Ironic Millennial, is provoking thoughtful reflection and dialogue in small groups of youth workers, parents and teenagers who wrestle with ongoing spiritual formation. He's pretty good at what he does.

Now you can get three digital shorts from The Post-Ironic Millennial for just $2.79 US. 

Watch Flannel Graph Jesus below and, if you find it thought-provoking, follow the onscreen link to get three discussion starters—Flannel Graph Jesus, Just Like it Says in the Bible and Rememberfor just $2.79 — or rent it for $2.29

If you're social (and I know you are): You can own these three videos for your own use AND you can gift them as free rentals to three friends of your choosing at no additional charge. If you find a better deal than that (assuming stealing the movies outright is not to your liking), I think you'd better grab it.

Q: Where's the Study Guide?
A: Use these movies in your small group with The Last Study Guide You'll Ever Need.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

New Data | Generational Shifts in American Adolescents' Religious Orientation from 1966-2014

In four large, nationally representative surveys (N = 11.2 million), American adolescents and emerging adults in the 2010s (Millennials) were significantly less religious than previous generations (Boomers, Generation X) at the same age. The data are from the Monitoring the Future studies of 12th graders (1976–2013), 8th and 10th graders (1991–2013), and the American Freshman survey of entering college students (1966–2014). Although the majori- ty of adolescents and emerging adults are still religiously involved, twice as many 12th grad- ers and college students, and 20%–40% more 8th and 10th graders, never attend religious services. Twice as many 12th graders and entering college students in the 2010s (vs. the 1960s–70s) give their religious affiliation as “none,” as do 40%–50% more 8th and 10th grad- ers. Recent birth cohorts report less approval of religious organizations, are less likely to say that religion is important in their lives, report being less spiritual, and spend less time praying or meditating. Thus, declines in religious orientation reach beyond affiliation to reli- gious participation and religiosity, suggesting a movement toward secularism among a growing minority. The declines are larger among girls, Whites, lower-SES individuals, and in the Northeastern U.S., very small among Blacks, and non-existent among political con- servatives. Religious affiliation is lower in years with more income inequality, higher median family income, higher materialism, more positive self-views, and lower social support. Over- all, these results suggest that the lower religious orientation of Millennials is due to time peri- od or generation, and not to age.
Some first-blush observations from where I sit:

• The study covers a lot of ground — 1966-2014

• It reports on a massive number of respondents —11.2 million nationally representative adolescents

• The big drop in weekly church attendance for 12-graders was between the mid-70s and the mid-90s — the drop from the mid-90s to 2014 is two-three percent, compared to eight percent from 1974-1994

• The percentage of college freshmen who said "none" under questions about religious affiliation yo-yoed from the mid-70s to mid-80s, rose slightly to the mid-90s, then more steeply to 2014

• The small number (less than one percent) of college students who said they planned to become clergy dropped precipitously from the mid-60s to the mid-80s, and has yo-yoed since

• In the mid-90s to mid-teens, the percentage of college students who say they discuss religion returned to mid-60s levels after having fallen below 25 percent

• Since the question was added in the mid-90s, the number of college students who consider themselves above average in spirituality has stepped down from 45 percent to 36 percent

• 12-graders have, since the mid-70s, rated the importance of religion in life somewhere between 2.6 on a scale of 1-4 in 2010-14 and 2.82 on a scale of 1-4 in 1980-84

• The percentage of college student who said they never attend religious services rose sharply after the mid-90s, hovering around 27 percent in the mid-teens

• The number of 12-graders saying religion is not important in their lives stood near 13 percent at the end of the 90s — which was about where it stood in the mid-70s, before yo-yoing from the late-70s  to the late-90s. From the late-90s to the mid-teens, the percentage saying religion is no important in their lives leapt from about 13 percent to near 22 percent in 2010-13

• The data don't support cause and effect inferences, but they do record rises and declines in adolescent religious identification in parallel with certain social trends between 1966 - 2014: 
More 12th graders and college students reported no religious affiliation in years with higher median family income, more income inequality, higher materialism, less social support, and more individualism (such as higher self-confidence, a higher need for uniqueness, and more individualistic language in books). These analyses suggest that religious affiliation is low when the culture is high in indi- vidualism and low in social support.
• The trends reported in the study touched every major demographic group with "the possible exception of Black Americans and political conservatives."

• Age is a constant throughout the data in these studies, so the differences point not to adolescent development over time (e.g. older adolescents are always less religious than younger ones) but to cohort effects that compare, say, 12th-graders in 1976 with 12-graders in 2010 and show a measurable shift toward less religious involvement among people of the same age over that period

The study authors conclude:

Importantly, the declines extend to religious orientation outside of affiliation, showing decreases in religious service attendance and attitudes toward religious organizations. The declines also extend to the importance of religion, spirituality, and prayer, though these effects are both smaller and more limited. Thus, these results are not consistent with the idea that Americans are less religious but not less spiritual [Fuller RC (2001) Spiritual, but Not Religious: Understanding Unchurched America. New York: Oxford University Press. 212 p.], but they are consistent with Smith and Denton’s [Smith C, Denton ML (2005) Soul Searching: The Religious & Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers. New York: Oxford University Press. 368 p] conclusion that today’s young Americans are not strong proponents of spirituality. 
In conclusion, survey results from 11.2 million American adolescents demonstrate a decline in religious orientation, especially after 2000. The trend appears among adolescents as young as 13 and suggests that Millennials are markedly less religious than Boomers and GenX’ers were at the same age. The majority are still religious, but a growing minority seem to embrace secularism, with the changes extending to spirituality and the importance of religion as well. Correlational analyses show that this decline occurred at the same time as increases in individ- ualism and declines in social support. Clearly, this is a time of dramatic change in the religious landscape of the United States. 
 You can read the report for yourself at Generational and Time Period Differences in American Adolescents’ Religious Orientation, 1966–2014.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

testing, testing | a new video delivery system

To test a new delivery system for digital videos from the tiny company called me, I'm offering three digital shorts from The Post-Ironic Millennial for one redonkulously low price. Just follow the onscreen link in the video below to get all three movies for as little as $2.79. (What! That's crazy!) You heard me right: For as little as $2.79, you can grab all three of these oddball discussion pieces. 

But wait, there's more! (No!) Yes! In addition to having these huggable keepsakes for your very own, you can gift them as free rentals to three friends of your choosing at no additional charge to you or any other party, living or dead. Now that's what I call major motion picture magic.

"But, hold up: Where's the Study Guide?" you ask... Not to worry — you can use these movies in your small group with The Last Study Guide You'll Ever Need. Or, heck! They're HiDef — project 'em on a giant screen if you like! These copies are yours to do with as you please for as little as $2.79.

The Last Study Guide You'll Ever Need

Once upon a time, I wrote a three-and-a-half hour screenplay that was divided into 12 short films for a small group learning experience. The story featured about a dozen characters who bounced and careened off each other as they learned the same lessons the small groups who were watching the movie.

The study guide for the project was user-friendly, beautifully designed and expensive. And almost nobody used it.

There just wasn't time to watch an 18-minute movie, hear everyone in the group talk about what struck them from the story, AND go through the study guide. Nobody cared how good it was (in fact, almost nobody knew how good it was because they never looked at again after the first episode).

I knew that was going to happen, and that it had nothing to do with the quality of the guide. Instead, it had everything to do with how people learn.

Without going into a whole thing about how people learn, let me say this: All the questions I write for study guides and group discussions are variations on a series of three core questions about a shared experience — be that a video, a reading, a lecture, a mission trip... whatever:

  1. What’s the most significant thing about we just experienced?
  2. Why do you think that’s important?
  3. How do you think you could put that to work in real-life?

That's it: The last study guide you'll ever need.

There are lots of ways to ask those three questions. 

  • What? Why? and How? is baked into the progression above.
  • Or you could go with What? So What? Now What? 
  • Or Observe. Consider. Decide.
  • Monkey See. Monkey Say. Monkey Do.
  • Or...
It almost doesn't matter as long as you honor The First Law of Good Questions:
A good question is one to which you don't know the answer. [h/t to Wayne Rice]
This is important because, when you ask a good question, you engage the insights of people who shared the same experience but may not share the same perceptions about that experience. Any reasonably intelligent and open group of people is likely to learn more together — by sharing what stuck, why that was sticky, and how they believe it connects to something else — than any of them can learn all by themselves.

So, you make sure to give your group something worth considering and then get out of the way so they can learn. 

You, of course, will learn too. You'll learn what what your group found, what they didn't find, and whether they need to spend more time on the subject at hand.

Here, try it yourself: 

1. What do you think are the most important ideas from The Last Study Guide You'll Ever Need?

2. Why do you think that's important?

3. How can you imagine putting that to work in your learning environment?

[Related Post: esting, testing | a new video delivery system]