Sunday, August 26, 2007

Does College Cause Young People to Lose Their Faith?

There is a commonly held assumption in Christian circles that a Christian youth that goes away to college is going to lose their faith and stop going to church. A recent report seems to contradict this. Some researchers at The University of Texas found (you can read more about it here) that college is not the danger that many believe it to be when it comes to matters of faith. Among the findings were that:
"...those who never attended college had the highest rates of decline in church attendance (76.2 percent), diminished importance placed on religion (23.7 percent), and disaffiliation from religion (20.3 percent). Students who earned at least a bachelor's degree, on the other hand, had the lowest rates on those three factors with 59.2 percent indicating decreased church attendance and 15 percent placing less importance on religion and disaffiliating from religion."

"Overall, the overwhelming majority (82 percent) of college students maintain at least a static level of personal religiosity in early adulthood and 86 percent retain their religious affiliation."
I think their findings hold up what many of us that work with college students have found to be true. Most college students that have been exposed to Christianity at a young age but aren't currently interested are more disillusioned with the institutional church than they are with Jesus. Many of them have been introduced to a brand of Christianity that is a rules-based religion rather than a love-based relationship. I think my job (as well as others that minister to students) is to introduce them to the Jesus of the Bible, whether they have been familiar with Him previously or not.

Thanks to the World Magazine blog for cluing me into this story. By the way, if you know a student going away to college this fall for the first time, you might want to direct them to, a website which can help them in connecting with Christian groups on their campus like The Impact Movement and Cru.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

What is True For This Year's College Freshmen

Each year Beloit College distributes their Mindset List and this year's was just released. The Mindset List gives a glimpse into the worldview of the nation's 18 year olds and the world they grew up in. The complete list for the class of 2011 can be found here, but here are some things that stood out to me:

  • What Berlin Wall?
  • They never "rolled down" a car window.
  • They have grown up with bottled water.
  • Nelson Mandela has always been free and a force in South Africa.
  • Pete Rose has never played baseball.
  • Rap music has always been mainstream.
  • "Off the hook" has never had anything to do with a telephone.
  • Wal-Mart has always been a larger retailer than Sears and has always employed more workers than GM.
  • Al Gore has always been running for president or thinking about it.
  • They grew up in Wayne's World.
  • U2 has always been more than a spy plane.
  • They were introduced to Jack Nicholson as "The Joker."
  • Fox has always been a major network.
  • Being a latchkey kid has never been a big deal.
  • They learned about JFK from Oliver Stone and Malcolm X from Spike Lee.
  • Tiananmen Square is a 2008 Olympics venue, not the scene of a massacre.
  • MTV has never featured music videos.
  • They get much more information from Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert than from the newspaper.
  • They're always texting 1 n other.
  • They never saw Johnny Carson live on television.
  • The World Wide Web has been an online tool since they were born.
  • Food packaging has always included nutritional labeling.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

On This Day

The fall season seems to be synonymous for me with new beginnings and fresh starts. I guess this is natural since I was in school from the ages of 5 - 22 and am now entering my twelfth year of working with college students. As I was driving home today from the office, I was thinking about another new year and all that lies ahead. And then ever so slowly my thoughts began to drift back into my past and I began to reflect on what I had most likely been doing on this date in years past. As I started to think about this, I came to the realization that what I was experiencing on August 20th when I go back in five year increments dramatically affected my life and the person I have become. Think back with me for a moment...

Five Years Ago (2002)

After six years spent working with students in northeast Ohio, we moved from Kent earlier in the summer. Our family spent that summer in Johannesburg, South Africa as a part of Operation Sunrise and moved to Orlando for the first time several weeks after the project was over. On this date, we were settling into our apartment and I was preparing for my new job as executive assistant to Charles Gilmer and work in the national Impact office. That year was a very refreshing season and I can see now that some seeds were planted of what I'd be doing now.

Ten Years Ago (1997)

I had just completed my first year on campus at Kent State and was assigned to staff the Virginia Beach summer project. On the project I met some friends that I still have to this day, including one very cute girl named Lori Gresko. On this date Lori and I were growing in our certainty that the Lord might be leading us together. Though we had met only three months before I was pretty confident that she was to be my wife. We were engaged less than two months after this and got married on May 2, 1998. Second best decision I ever made. Which leads me to the best decision I ever made...

Fifteen Years Ago (1992)

I was entering my sophomore year at Central Michigan University and had spent the summer earning money for college by working at a Detroit Edison power plant shoveling coal. That's right -- I was a coal handler. Though I appreciated what the manual labor did for my muscles, I knew then that I definitely wanted to get my college degree. On this date I was completely unaware that in three short months my life would absolutely and utterly change when I was to read a book, Under Siege, that would cause me to think about eternity in a way that I hadn't before. In my dorm room of 320 Emmons Hall on the campus of CMU in November of '92, I truly and sincerely placed my faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of my sins and committed my life to Him. I shortly thereafter got involved with Campus Crusade and the rest, they say, is history.

Twenty Years Ago (1987)

After spending my first fourteen plus years residing in Port Huron, Michigan, my family made the decision to move to a town to the south of us in order to be closer to my mom's accounting business. It was just weeks before I was to enter high school and I didn't know a soul at my new school. It took a little while to adjust to a different environment and find new friends, but I eventually made some friends and found my place there. The Marysville Vikings were a state powerhouse in football and our varsity team was just coming off a state championship from the year before. On this date I probably went to freshmen football practice and spent the rest of the day working on mowing our lawn at our new house.

Twenty Five Years Ago (1982)

I was nine years old and was getting ready to enter the fourth grade. I was feeling pretty good about myself since I had won the Spelling Bee as a third grader. I didn't fare as well during fourth grade - I don't think I made it past the second or third round. I don't remember a whole lot about this year other than Mrs. Fleming was my teacher and Michael Jackson's Thriller album came out late that year. I became a very big MJ fan (as my parents and sister can attest) and could moonwalk like nobody's business! On this date I was probably playing baseball outside in the neighborhood with my friends and dreading the soon-to-be start of another school year.

Thirty Years Ago (1977)

I can't remember much about this year at all (I was only four) other than I did see Star Wars in the theatre and can distinctly remember Darth Vader. Another reason that I can't remember much of anything for that time was that my older brother, Chip, tragically and unexpectedly passed away a year and a half before on Valentine's Day 1976. I usually have a near photographic memory and do have memories of my brother, but I have about a two year block for right after he died. I was just shy of my third birthday (he was almost five) when it happened and I guess my little mind couldn't fully comprehend what was going on. Chip's death certainly shaped my family in many ways and I am continually reminded that my children are simply a gift from God that He entrusts to us for a time known only to Him. So on this date in 1977, I really can't remember what I would have been doing, but if I had to guess, I was probably bugging my younger sister, Kelly, watching Batman on T.V. and playing with my Stretch Armstrong action figure.

Thirty Five Years Ago (1972)

On this date thirty-five years ago, I was merely a glimmer in my parents' eye. Come to think of it, this was most likely weeks after I was conceived. Okay, I think that's enough memories for now, don't you?

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Real Tragedy of the Michael Vick Saga

You have most likely heard about the recent indictment of NFL quarterback Michael Vick, who is accused of being a prime player in the world of dogfighting. If you're an avid fantasy football player like me or merely an Atlanta Falcons fan, you've definitely followed this news. Whatever the case may be, I've been stunned by the public response to this. I knew there were a lot of dog lovers out there (I count myself one) and I don't know anyone personally that condones the abuse of animals, but I think we need to put this situation in perspective.

Since the year of my birth in 1973, our government has said that it is absolutely legal for a mother to take the life of a child, as long as it's her baby and it's still inside her womb. If it's not her kid or the baby has been born, then the powers that be have said that's illegal. In relation to the accusations of dogfighting that Vick faces, I wonder how many of the self-righteous judges out there among the American public believe in a woman's perogative to, um, not choose life for her baby, yet condemn Vick for the alleged use of dogs for his own amusement.

Former congressman J.C. Watts has some great thoughts on this here. I particularly like his words for West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd, a former leader in the Ku Klux Klan, who has shown some particular disgust for Vick. And though things don't look good for Vick, he has yet to be convicted. Even if he is found guilty of these acts, it is important to remember that his crimes are against dogs. Dogs are animals and they are not people. I do not like the abuse or killing of animals for sport (one reason why I am not a hunter), but the life of an animal is not on an equal plane with that of a human being who is created in the image of God.

Watts' insights are telling. Our culture has become so desensitized to the taking of human life that we barely bat an eye when millions of innocent babies are killed, yet a lynch mob forms when some innocent dogs are brutally harmed. The murder of dogs is wrong, but it is not in the same ballpark of the murder of babies. Let's remember that.

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Saturday, August 11, 2007

Detroit Named Top Sports Town

It seems that the boys over at The Sporting News (TSN) feel that Detroit is the best sports city in the United States. The city of Detroit -- which was largely viewed as just "Hockeytown" over the past 15 or so years -- was voted the Best Sports City of 2007 in a recent poll conducted by the Sporting News. TSN based its judgment on 11 different criteria, including attendance figures and won-loss records. This is the second time that Detroit has won the honor (previously taking the crown in 1998) and, even for non-Detroit fans, it would be difficult to dispute the Motor City as its choice. With the Pistons, Red Wings and Tigers all advancing deep into their respective league's playoffs, Motown sports has never been better. Assuming that the Lions actually meet some of their high expectations for this year and make the playoffs, it would be hard to find another city's major sports franchises matching the success of these squads.

Of course many may scoff at hopes that the Lions do, in fact, have the capability of actually achieving a winning record, but we need to look no farther than the Detroit Tigers of last season. Previously the laughingstock of baseball, the Tigers exceeded all expectations last year and advanced to the World Series. It is most likely the Tigers success (along with the continued winning ways of the the Wings and Pistons) that locked up the top spot on TSN's vote. Now I'm not predicting a Lions Super Bowl run this year, but I don't think a 10 win season and a playoff berth is out of the question. I don't think the Lions' record of 2006 (3-13) truly reflected their talent last year and a 6-7 win jump in '07 is a real possibility.

I think another fun discussion involves nominating the city with the single greatest players to ever don uniforms for its respective major sports teams. For the Detroit squads here are my picks:

- Detroit Tigers - Ty Cobb
- Detroit Red Wings - Gordie Howe
- Detroit Lions - Barry Sanders
- Detroit Pistons - Isiah Thomas

While there are some cities that are certainly involved in the discussion (Los Angeles, New York and Chicago, for example), I don't think anyone can match the representatives of the Detroit Teams. Three of them (Cobb, Howe, and Sanders) are arguably the greatest to ever play their sport (at least the discussion involves them) and Isiah was certainly on of the top players during a great era for the NBA. So what do you think? I know there are fans of other cities out there. Nominate your city's best from each of their major sports franchises and let's see where the discussion leads...

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

More Black Women Dating (and Marrying) White Men

Before a 1960 Supreme Court decision abolishing rules banning mixed-race marriages, there were only 26,000 married couples in the U.S. comprised of a black female and white male. Today there are over 117,000 couples that fit this description. As a recent USA Today article states, "Black women around the country also are reconsidering deep-seated reservations toward interracial relationships, reservations rooted in America's history of slavery and segregation." Read more about the dynamics behind this growing trend in the article found here.

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