Saturday, September 24, 2016

Weekly Web Roundup (9/24/16)

Photo Credit: Victor Bj√∂rklund
Here are some interesting stories from around the web that I've seen during this past week:

Segregation Is Still Alive at These Christian Schools by Jonathan Merritt (The Daily Beast)
"While Catholic schools have existed throughout U.S. history, private Christian schools emerged en masse in the aftermath of the civil-rights movement. The Supreme Court declared public-school segregation unconstitutional in its unanimous Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954. Many school systems, particularly across the South, resisted compliance while some families saw the handwriting on the wall and decided to act. Fearful at the thought of their children mingling with black students, many white Christian families founded private “segregation academies” to skirt the law. Many were “Christian” institutions, and fundamentalist evangelicals founded several of the most prominent ones. Non-Catholic Christian schools doubled their enrollments between 1961 and ’71."
I Used to Be a Human Being by Andrew Sullivan (Select/All)
"I tried reading books, but that skill now began to elude me. After a couple of pages, my fingers twitched for a keyboard. I tried meditation, but my mind bucked and bridled as I tried to still it. I got a steady workout routine, and it gave me the only relief I could measure for an hour or so a day. But over time in this pervasive virtual world, the online clamor grew louder and louder. Although I spent hours each day, alone and silent, attached to a laptop, it felt as if I were in a constant cacophonous crowd of words and images, sounds and ideas, emotions and tirades — a wind tunnel of deafening, deadening noise. So much of it was irresistible, as I fully understood. So much of the technology was irreversible, as I also knew. But I’d begun to fear that this new way of living was actually becoming a way of not-living."
How Apartheid Haunts a New Generation of South Africans by Kenichi Serino (The Atlantic)
"Over two decades after the end of apartheid, a vast gulf remains between the experiences of South Africa’s white students and black students, like Shikwambane, who’d managed to gain entry to Wits despite the poor facilities and shoddy resources at the public schools in the rural areas and townships where many of them grew up. Formerly all-white high schools, by contrast, are well-resourced and supplemented by contributions from parents and alumni. They also send students to South Africa’s best universities, and provide opportunities for black students from poor backgrounds. 
As a result, universities are now among the places that best represent the anger of the post-apartheid, or “born free” generation. This is a generation facing a grim irony: freer than their parents, but lacking the means and institutions to truly capitalize on that freedom. Many find themselves limited by what they’ve increasingly come to view as an incomplete social and political transformation, one that has simply entrenched the inequities of an age they’d been taught had long since passed."
The Origins of 25 Fall Traditions (Mental Floss)
"If your fall bucket list includes carving jack-o’-lanterns, sipping apple cider, and toasting s’mores over a bonfire, you’re in good company. But when you stop to think about it, many of our autumnal traditions—like scooping out pumpkin guts, asking strangers for sugar, and wandering aimlessly through cornfields—are pretty bizarre. Here are the reasons behind some of our favorite fall pastimes."
Today's Kids Don't Quite Know What to Make of the Atari 2600 (Mental Floss)
"Technology has changed a lot in the past four decades, which means that kids today sometimes don’t know what to make of the gadgets their parents grew up with. Video game fans might remember the Atari 2600 (originally called the Atari VCS), the retro home console that helped rec room gaming go mainstream after its initial release in 1977. At the time, the bulky Atari 2600 was the height of sophistication. Now, as YouTube channel Fine Brothers Entertainment captures in its latest “Kids React” video, it’s simply a puzzling relic from the past for Generation Z."

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Weekly Web Roundup (9/17/16)

Photo Credit: Bradley Weber
Here are some interesting stories from around the web that I've seen during this past week:

‘We’re the Only Plane in the Sky’ by Garrett M. Graff (Politico)

This past Sunday saw the commemoration of the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks. This oral history explains the decisions that President George W. Bush made in the eight hours after the Sept. 11 attacks and the strange, harrowing journey of those aboard Air Force One that fateful day.

Did you know…? from Gilbert Kingsley

My friend and ministry colleague Gilbert recently asked a number of leaders, including myself, from The Campus Ministry of Cru to share interesting facts, information and resources about student ministry. Here is what he learned.

Taking the Easy Route in the Diversity Conversation by Natasha Sistrunk Robinson (A Sista's Journey)
"As a WOC (Woman of Color), I understand that whenever I enter a predominately white space, I am representing myself and I am representing other black women to an audience that might not have intimate relationships with black people. This is my responsibility. It is also my responsibility and privilege to use whatever access I have to create space and opportunities for others, especially those who are underrepresented, but needed, in a professional space. I understand that this is my responsibility to my fellow sistas on the journey, and it is also my commitment to the next generation of leaders."
The State of the Church 2016 (Barna Group)
"Even though a majority of Americans identify as Christian and say religious faith is very important in their life, these huge proportions belie the much smaller number of Americans who regularly practice their faith. When a variable like church attendance is added to the mix, a majority becomes the minority. When a self-identified Christian attends a religious service at least once a month and says their faith is very important in their life, Barna considers that person a “practicing Christian.” After applying this triangulation of affiliation, self-identification and practice, the numbers drop to around one in three U.S. adults (31%) who fall under this classification. Barna researchers argue this represents a more accurate picture of Christian faith in America, one that reflects the reality of a secularizing nation."
Spoken Word on the Life of Jesus

This video was created by the JESUS Film Project and features spoken word poet Shawn Welcome artistically explaining the life of Christ.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Brennan Manning On What It Means To Be A Christian

Photo Credit: Guppydas
Taken from Brennan Manning's The Furious Longing of God:
“The gospel is absurd and the life of Jesus is meaningless unless we believe that He lived, died, and rose again with but one purpose in mind: to make brand-new creation. Not to make people with better morals but to create a community of prophets and professional lovers, men and women who would surrender to the mystery of the fire of the Spirit that burns within, who would live in ever greater fidelity to the omnipresent Word of God, who would enter into the center of it all, the very heart and mystery of Christ, into the center of the flame that consumes, purifies, and sets everything aglow with peace, joy, boldness, and extravagant, furious love. This, my friend, is what it really means to be a Christian.”

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Weekly Web Roundup (9/10/16)

Photo Credit: leonyaakov
Here are some interesting stories from around the web that I've seen during this past week:

Is There Something Dangerous About Focusing On the Family? by Jared Kennedy (Gospel Centered Family)
"When we are strategizing ways to equip parents as the primary disciple-makers in their homes, we must also help them prioritize their own spiritual growth. We should think about slimming down our church programming in order to help families keep the Sabbath. We should think of ways to give burned-out mom's times to study the Bible together away from their children. We must take pains that family discipleship is not another burdensome duty but rather fruit that overflows from the hearts of parents who know and love Jesus."
The Main Thing You Need to Know About Fundraising by Phil Cooke
"Down through the years, as I have lived and taught this approach to major donor fundraising, some of my colleagues in ministry have recoiled. It’s too “pastoral,” they feel, not “systematic” enough. The fact is, I am a very systematic person. I like to make a plan, work the plan, evaluate the plan. But my plans and systems for extracting gifts from major donors did more to wear me down than to build up the work we were doing — and they certainly did nothing for the donors themselves.. But at the heart of this system is a truth that took me years to understand"
A Message from a Warrior About Protecting Our Sacred Lands: Why Standing Rock Matters by Liz Perez Halperin (Indian Country Today Media Network)
"A topic few are being encouraged to discuss is the issue that inspired hundreds of Native American tribes across the USA to unite and take a stand: the building of the Dakota Access Pipeline. This is the first time since the Native American movement of the 70s that tribes have come together for a cause."
White male leadership persists at evangelical ministries by Steve Rabey (Religion News Service)
"Only one of 33 major national organizations contacted for this article is led by a woman — Jane Overstreet at Development Associates International. And only three are led by nonwhite males. “Some groups are talking about greater gender diversity, while others talk about racial diversity,” says Amy Reynolds, an associate professor of sociology at Wheaton College in Illinois, a leading evangelical institution that recently appointed its first female provost in its 156-year history. “The question is, what are they willing to do to get there?”"
How to talk to black people in eight easy lessons by Leonard Pitts, Jr. (Miami Herald)
"The truth is, How to Talk to Black People isn’t all that difficult. The candidate who wants African-American support should pretend black folks are experts on our own issues and experiences — because we are. He should learn those issues, tap that experience, formulate some thoughtful ideas in response."
Companies would benefit from helping introverts to thrive (The Economist)
"And yet, if anything, the corporate approach to introverts has been getting worse. The biggest culprit is the fashion for open-plan offices and so-called “group work”. Companies rightly think that the elixir of growth in a world where computers can do much of the grunt work is innovation. But they wrongly conclude that the best way to encourage creativity is to knock down office walls and to hold incessant meetings. This is ill-judged for a number of reasons. It rests on a trite analogy between intellectual and physical barriers between people. It ignores the fact that noise and interruptions make it harder to concentrate. And companies too often forget that whereas extroverts gain energy from other people, introverts need time on their own to recharge."
Central Michigan vs. Oklahoma State - CMU Football Game Winning Hail Mary

The football team for my alma mater, Central Michigan, had one of the most amazing finishes we'll likely see in college football this season in a win over #22 ranked Oklahoma State. Here's the final play:

Thursday, September 08, 2016

2016 Demographics for U.S. College Students

Photo Credit:
US Department of Education
The nation's college students are growing in number and our campuses continue to become more diverse. Taken from the most recent edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education Almanac and the Open Doors Report, the following statistics from the 2014-2015 school year contain some interesting facts concerning the current make-up of college students in the United States:
  • There are more than 20 million college students studying within the United States.
  • Of those 20 million students, nearly 43% are American ethnic minorities and international students. 
  • Within the state of California alone, there are 2.7 million students. This is an amazing 13% of the country's total! Of these students, over 1.8 million are American ethnic minorities and international students. 
  • Texas has nearly 1.6 million students in the state, including half a million Hispanic students. 
  • Primarily due to the presence of New York City, 1.3 million students attend college in the state of New York and nearly half of those students are American ethnic minorities and international students.
  • The number of Native American students across the country is approaching 200,000. 
  • Students of Asian American/Pacific Islander heritage now number 1.2 million students. 
  • There are 2.6 million African Americans on our campuses, approaching 13% of all students.
  • Hispanics and Latinos are rapidly growing in number and influence and now comprise almost 15% of all students, totaling over 3 million students. 
  • The number of international students currently studying in the U.S. is now well over one million. 
  • In demonstration of the country's increasing cultural diversity, over half a million of America's college students define themselves as being multi-ethnic.
  • Another 1.1 million students do not self-identify as belonging to any particular ethnic group nor do they define themselves as being multi-ethnic.
  • Students of European descent are still in the overall majority with 10.6 million. If current trends hold true, however, there will be no ethnic majority within the next few years.
What does this all mean? The college campuses of the United States are becoming more diverse, the coasts are rapidly growing and our cities are home to many of the nation's students. In order to reach these students, campus ministries like the one that I work with, Cru, need to adopt new approaches that will effectively reach: 1) students of color; 2) those that speak a primary language other than English; and 3) those in our major cities. The world is here. How will we respond?

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Weekly Web Roundup (9/3/16)

Photo Credit: bmward_2000
Here are some interesting stories from around the web that I've seen during this past week:

Colin Kaepernick's Protest is Part of Long Sports Tradition by Adam Howard (NBC News)

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has received a substantial amount of flack for his recent refusal to stand while the pledge of allegiance is played before games. Personally, I appreciate Kaepernick's desire to bring attention to injustice but am concerned about what his approach communicates to our military. Be that as it may, it might surprise some that he's not the first to do this.

Hello Goodbye: The author of a best-selling abstinence manifesto is reconsidering the lessons he taught to millions by Ruth Graham (Slate)

Joshua Harris's book "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" was a best-seller among evangelicals during the late '90s and early '00s. Now, nearly twenty years after it was published, Harris has regrets about how the book has impacted some people.

Even in a Multiethnic Church, Race Can Be a Minefield (Christianity Today)
"But here’s the beauty of a multiethnic church—the beauty and the mess: I’ve got these multi-ethnic faces there, which is wonderful, but the problem is, they all have different perspectives. Literally, after that message, I had an African American man come up to me and say, “I wish you would’ve pushed a little harder.” I had a white woman come up to me all offended because I’d pushed too hard. That’s the beauty and the mess."
Sin Of Talking Too Much by Paul Tautges (via Tim Challies)
"Years ago, my men’s small group discussed the discipline of the tongue. After reading a chapter in Disciplines of a Godly Man by Kent Hughes, and verses from Proverbs that address the issue, some of us were tempted to stop talking all together! However, we quickly realized this was not the answer. That would be too easy. The right response is the hard road of self-discipline. The hard road is the application of wisdom in the restraint of the most powerful muscle in our body. That got me thinking about the dangers of talking too much."
The Mania of Michigan Football by Robin Wright (The New Yorker)
"When Michigan makes a big play, and a hundred thousand people stand up spontaneously, without being told, and ‘Hail to the Victors’ kicks in, it’s the biggest choir in America. It’s not a business, it’s a religion—and one where everyone is welcome,” John U. Bacon, the author of “Endzone: The Rise, Fall, and Return of Michigan Football,” told me. “The Dalai Lama and Mother Teresa have both noted that the great disease of Western civilization is loneliness. Yes, it’s possible to be lonely in a crowd—but not this one."

Friday, September 02, 2016

A College Football Player Demonstrates Why Sharing A Meal Makes Such A Difference

Photo Credit: Leah Paske
My family moved a month before I started high school. My mom owned a business and her main office was in a neighboring town so we moved in order to be closer to her work. The change also shaved some time off of my dad's daily commute into Detroit.

Even though we relocated less than 15 minutes away, it felt like I was completely starting over. I was leaving behind the friends I had grown up with and all I had known. Venturing into high school is always a pivotal step in the life of a teen but as an introvert, I was especially anxious about having to make new friends while being "the new kid."

Football practice started a few weeks before classes did so I was starting from scratch with my new teammates and coaches. To make matters worse, my new school was a rival of the high school I would have attended. The guys that were my "enemies" in eighth grade were now my teammates as a ninth grader. My new high school was coming off a state championship and the varsity coach had recently been named the Detroit Free Press "Sports Figure of the Year." To say I was intimidated was an understatement.

All I remember about my first few days of practice is that it felt reminiscent of how my dad had described boot camp with the U.S. Marine Corps. It was physically demanding, I got yelled at a lot and I didn't seem to know what I was doing. Though I was one of the better players on my eighth grade team and distinguished myself as a two-way starter, none of that seemed to matter in a system I was unfamiliar with and to coaches that didn't know me. In fact, it wasn't until the third day of practice that one of my teammates even said a word to me. I felt completely alone and longed to return to my friends "back home."

I eventually made friends and stopped getting yelled at so much. Over time, I became adjusted to my new life and didn't feel quite so alone. But when I recently read the story of Bo Peske (the boy in the photo on the right) and Florida State football player Travis Rudolph (in photo on the left), my mind immediately went back to when I felt so alone as a 14-year-old high school freshman. I remembered how much I simply wanted someone to just be my friend in the way that Travis became to Bo.

It seems that a number of FSU football players were visiting Bo's school when Rudolph noticed Bo sitting alone in the cafeteria. He decided to sit with him and began a conversation over lunch. A worker at the school took a photo and sent it to Bo's mom, Leah. She posted the picture on Facebook, which has now gone viral. Since Bo has autism, he gets treated a bit differently by his classmates and regularly has no one to sit with at lunch.

His mom had this to say after seeing the photo:
"I'm not sure what exactly made this incredibly kind man share a lunch table with my son, but I'm happy to say that it will not soon be forgotten. This is one day I didn't have to worry if my sweet boy ate lunch alone, because he sat across from someone who is a hero in many eyes."
When I think about it, I think most of us are probably a lot like Bo. There are things about us that others may find different that will lead them to not engage with us. And, in many ways, most adults are probably no different than the middle schoolers who choose to not sit with Bo. We might disregard others because of their differences or unintentionally ignore others because we're wrapped up in our own world.

One of the profound things about the example that Travis sets for us is not just that he engages with Bo but he shares a meal with him. The practice of sharing a meal with someone is not to be missed.

When we share a meal with someone, we communicate friendship, identification and acceptance. It is one of the reasons that Jesus was considered so scandalous by the religious leaders of his day. He ate with those considered to be beneath the upper crust of society. But the primary concern of Jesus was not to please self-appointed religious leaders. He was most concerned with glorifying His Father by pouring out His love on people in desperate need of His grace.

The simple act of kindness that Travis Rudolph demonstrated illustrates the difference that selfless love can make in the life of someone else. I wonder how different the world would be if there were more people like Travis. How might it be if we went out of our way to care for those that we perceive to be different and seek to get to know them in a personal way? What if, like Jesus, we took the time to share a meal with those who might be different than us?