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Real Friends? August 3, 2009

Posted by Andrew in Media, Young people.
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There’s been 3 items about social networking that have caught my attention in the past few days

The first was the report written by 15 year old Matthew Robson claiming that few of his friends ued Twitter and wanted stuff for free off the internet. It seems to challenge some of the previously held views about the way teenagers use the internet

Second was Archbishop Vincent Nichols reflections that over use of soical networking leads to young people not being able to form authentic friendships

Finally was Thought for the Day by Giles Fraser that argued that too often church was only interested in ‘thick communities’ ie the traditional close knit community. Whereas for young people who were different, either through ethnicity, sexual orientation, faith, fashion or whatever then the ‘thin community’ on-line provided a place for them to find genuine community.

Different views, different ages. No real conclusions but a discussion that youthworkers need to keep up with in the coming years / months / weeks depending on how fast all this changes!


Christianity in the digital space July 14, 2009

Posted by John Stephenson in Bible, Media.
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digitalsymp3I am spending three days this week at St John’s College Durham at a symposium – ‘Christianity in the Digital Space’. Today has been full with a presentation by Mark Brown available here. Then 4 groups looking at Bible, Spirituality, Community and Mission in the Digital Space. This mornings discussion raised on Mission raised some very interesting questions around how we might actually create neutral, safe or sacred spaces on the net as part of our approach to evangelism. This afternoon we talked about on-line religious or missional orders. There’s loads of stuff to look at on-line videos on YouTube here and you can follow the live video feed here 7.30pm this evening

Torchwood – the impact of story July 12, 2009

Posted by John Stephenson in Entertainment, Media.
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torchwoodI have just finished catching up with Torchwood this week – a highle enjoyable series for sci-fi fans. It was fascinating to see some really interesting issues being raised through the programme. In many ways this is how issues are raised in contemporary society

Some particular issues were

1. Live forever – Capt. Jack Harkness can’t die and comes back to life. In the end this ability means that he sees hundreds of lifetimes and in the end he can’t cope with what he sees

2. Worth – when requested to give up 10% of the world’s children, the UK chooses its 10% by taking the bottom 10% schools from the league tables. So do we think that children who are more academic are worth more than those who don’t achieve in this way. Even if we don’t think that do we treat them differently?

3. Sacrifice – the government have to choose between sacrificing millions of children or the whole human race. Jack has to choose between the death of his own grandson and the death of the children. It seems that one being sacrificed for the manyis a theme in contemporary story. Of course we have the ultimate example of that in the death of Jesus

But these themes (and others including friendship, family etc) are raised in these stories. How do we help young people develop the tools to think critically about these issues and engage biblically? If we don’t then they will remain passive consumers of the entertainment industry and their lives will be shaped by those many stories

Lack of contentment June 21, 2009

Posted by John Stephenson in Media, Youth Work.
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I’ve had a busy week and there are a number of items that I’ve read but haven’t had time to post about sio will spread them out over the next few days.

On Tuesday the Times reported on the fact that we are better off than we have ever been, but we have lost any sense of contentment. The reason? The Joseph Rowntree Foundation suggests that this is because the institutions of the past – including family and church – provided ‘commitment devices’ that stopped us thinking only of our own interests. We lose things because of the rampant march to individualism. This is all part of their publication ‘Contemporary Social Evils’.

As I think about youth work I am left wondering if we are pampering to societies norms rather than offering alternatives that enable young people to think differently about the world?

Relating to today’s world June 5, 2009

Posted by John Stephenson in Media, Youth Work.
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I am currently at a Scripture Union conference and we have been thinking about the way in which the world – particularly the digital world – influences our task of mission with children and young people. Andrew Graystone from the Churches Media Council suggested that there have been 4 ages

a) Oral (one to one) – communication largely through face to face relationships

b) Print (Literary) (one to many) – now the need for face to face shifts and the ability to communicate without relationship opens up. It encourages linear and propositional truth

c) Broadcasting (a few to many) – control rests in all cases with those creating the content

d) Digital (many to many) – all are broadcasters and the network functions to allow truth to be relative and undermined

Its a simplistic analysis but it offers a useful framework for thinking about how we work with children and young people in today’s world.

He also talked about the way that media is converging – perhaps the 19.2 million watching Britain’s Got Talent are an indication of the convergence. Maybe there will be some things that breakthrough the tribal nature of youth culture.

God is back May 4, 2009

Posted by John Stephenson in Media, Youth Work.
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God is back

God is back

A couple of economists have written a book – ‘God is back: How the global rise of faith is changing the world’. The brief description says

‘Since the Enlightenment, intellectuals have assumed that modernization would kill religion, and that religious America is an oddity. This title argues that religion and modernity can thrive together, and that the American way of religion is becoming the norm.’
The book also promoted a really interesting article about this issue in the Times on Saturday – summarising much of the content. You can find that here.
One of my questions is really around how much of this takes account of two issues
a) Globalisation and
b) the world of young people.
Although they may not influence politics they do have the power to shape the future. As Bono sings on the latest U2 album ‘ Each generation gets the chance to change the world’. What will today’s young people do and how will today’s youth workers help them? Perhaps that is the biggest challenge of all

A Refreshing Change April 26, 2009

Posted by John Stephenson in Young people.
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Two great stories in the Saturday paper very close to each other. PD*28384537The first was about a young person who has raised £30,000 to buy and rebuild an orphanage in Tanzania after spending time there. Amy Lambert just wanted to do something to help so she came home and did something amazing! Read more about Amy Lambert here.

In contrast there is a story about the misbehaviour of senior citizens at a cinema in Leicester. Their behaviour included reserving seats for friends who hadn’t arrived and stuffing their Tupperware boxes full of the free biscuits.

It’s so good to see stories that buck the media trend – young people are not all bad – in fact the majority are simply working hard to do what they can. In contrast their role models whether they be celebrities or the older generation often set such bad examples. They expect from others what they are unwilling to model. Perhaps the MP’s expenses promises to be the worst example of that – time will tell!!