Categories
youth ministry

How do you measure teenage maturity?

News on teenagers consistently conflicts.

  • We are ecstatic about teenage Olympians. No one puts a teenage qualifier on their accomplishments, an Olympic medal is an Olympic medal, it doesn’t count for half a medal because someone is under 18.
  • Our laws define someone as an adult the moment they hit 18 while providing a completely different legal statute for people under 18. Yet neurologists and developmental/behavioral psychologists are proving that every adolescent matures are a different pace depending on a wide variety of variables. (Some inborn, some learned, some internal)

The Love/Hate Relationship with our Nations Teenagers

We have a love/hate relationship with teenagers. We love their accomplishments, we are disgusted when they fail. We are simultaneously infatuated and disgusted by teenage sexuality. Gasp, Justin Bieber has a girlfriend! OMG, I can’t believe she might be pregnant. Oh, I’m going to watch 2 hours of TV talking about it and tweet/Facebook about how disgusted I am… gimme, gimme, gimme more news on teenage sexuality! I’m not exaggerating all that much, am I?

A 16 year old wins a gold medal and she’s on The Today Show. That girl is so mature for her age! (Succeeding at sports makes you mature) Her girlfriend, in the same school and grade gets pregnant? Oh, becoming a mother isn’t an accomplishment… that’s a statistic! She is SO STUPID! We might even make her go to a different school. 

We (rightfully) decide things have to change when a teenager attempts suicide. But funding the school counselor or making sure her parents insurance covered her treatment before it was a suicide attempt? Well, common logic states, that’s really a parental issue.

This continues on after 18, of course. Those who go to college– well, we give them a pass on being adults because they are students. And students can’t be expected to act like adults because they are students. So we allow college students a pass on being mature. In fact, walk around a college campus and you’ll see that “what’s cool” is to act like a 13 year old, fully fulfilled! (Think about it… a “cool college guy” is loud, obnoxious, gets drunk, sleeps around, avoids responsibility, and doesn’t take school all that seriously. There’s nothing mature about that– but college culture celebrates this as a fully embraces college lifestyle.) But someone doesn’t go to college? Well, they better get a job and fend for themselves. They are an adult now…

So how do we measure maturity?

The point of this post is to point out that our society gives many mixed messages about adolescent maturity. Science and common sense says that maturity isn’t an arbitrary age. It depends on a wide variety of factors. One person becomes and adult at 16 while another might not become an adult until 25.

But we have an arbitrary line. Legally, and to a lesser extent culturally, a person is an adult at age 18.

The Supreme Court has now affirmed that not all teenage criminals are the same, some can get life sentences for their crimes while others can’t, the courts are now allowed to look at other factors besides physical age to judge their ability to understand their crimes. This is a big step. 

I suppose I’m wondering when we, those who work with students in schools, churches, and our neighborhoods, will begin to do the same?

Categories
Current Affairs illustrations youth ministry

Savior: The Adult Desire to Save Teenagers From Themselves

Photo by fengschwing via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Am I the only one who notices that adults seem to obsessed about teenage lives? More to the point, we seem obsessed with pointing out how we need to intervene before they destroy themselves and the human race.

Our culture takes a very negative view of people between the ages of 13-18. If you work with them, you are used to folks turning up their noses when you tell them you love working with that age group.

Here are some recent headlines to illustrate the point:

School: Little as they try, students can’t get a D here [New York Times] more articles…

Sleep: Lack of sleep linked to obesity for teen boys [Time Magazine] more articles…

Sex: Teenage girls rely on the rhythm method [What is the trend] more articles…

Crime: States rethink “adult time for adult crime” [CNN] more articles…

Forgive me if the links provided aren’t damning evidence. You are welcome to browse my entire body of hundreds of news articles on adolescence to get a better flavor. What I am talking about is not a hot pile of evidence. It is a slow burn of negative views on adolescents as well as adult desires to fix teenagers.

Another angle that demonstrates this is our wonderment over a teenager who does something good. Sail around the world? Shocking! Raise money for a worthy cause? News at 11! Start a successful business? Give her an award!

It seems that those news stories are of interest, in part, because we expect teenagers to only do negative/self-destructive things and when they do something amazing it must be newsworthy.

Three observations I want to point out on this topic

  1. Jesus is their savior, you aren’t.
  2. Have you ever wondered why sports are so popular with adolescents? Maybe it’s the easiest place for them to achieve and/or exceed expectations.
  3. Teenagers have about the same grades, sleep about the same, have the same amount of sex, and commit the same amount of crimes that they always have. Our obsessing over it only reveals something twisted in our lives and not theirs.
Categories
family

Big Surprise Headed Our Way!

We are both surprised and stoked to be expecting our third child this February.

No ideas on a name yet. But rest assured that we will buy the URL.

Pray for us. Especially, Megan and Paul.

Categories
haiti

Why I Don’t Have Haiti Fatigue

More than 3 months have passed since 200,000 people were killed and a million people were displaced in Port-au-Prince.

For a news item that’s an eternity ago. It’s just how we’re hardwired. We hear a news item, we are shocked by it, we do a fundraiser, we move on. And we want to block it out until late December of that year when our favorite news agency does “2010: A Year in Photos.

For lack of a better term I’ve been calling this “Haiti fatigue.” The news cycle has passed. People are thinking about economic recovery. Health care reform. Earthquakes in San Diego, Chile, and China. Larry King and Tiger Woods sex lives. iPads. On and on. Anything to distract ourselves from the good and bad that is happening just a few hundred miles south of Miami.

Talking about what’s happening in Haiti just isn’t that interesting to people any more. They are sick of it.

But I’m not fatigued.

I’ve not forgotten.

I’m praying about how to wake up those echoes. Stay tuned.

Categories
haiti news item

Fear Makes You Stupid

Yesterday morning I woke up to the news of a massive earthquake in Chile. The world seemed to hold its breath and wonder how bad the damage would be. “If a 7.0 earthquake killed 200,000+ people and flattened Port-au-Prince, Haiti– what would an earthquake 500 times stronger do?

Those fears and concerns were legitimate.

Fortunately, as news reports flooded in, we later learned that while there is widespread damage and hundreds of thousands displaced– Chile was well prepared for such an emergency. In fact, it appears that Chile may be able to handle the relief efforts largely on their own. The New York Times is reporting, “Although the United States had offered aid, Chile’s government had not yet requested assistance. All international relief groups were on standby, and the International Federation of Red Crosses and Red Crescents said the Chilean Red Cross indicated that it did not need external assistance at this point.

Chile’s disaster was not equal to Haiti’s disaster– and as those fears began to ease and you could see the media looking for a story to scare people.

Later in the morning, the media attention shifted from the earthquake in Chile to a tsunami the earthquake spawned. This is when the full on fear mongering went nuts.

  • Fact: 750,000 people in greater Port-au-Prince are starving and homeless while billions of dollars of aid sits on tarmacs because NGOs and governments are paralyzed.
  • Fact: The president of Haiti has said it will take 1,000 trucks 1,000 days to clear the rubble from Port-au-Prince. The muscle part of recovery hasn’t even begun.
  • Fact: 46 days after the earthquake in Haiti, starvation and disease are happening just 2 hours south of Miami by plane. Thousands of orphans are undocumented and at risk of being trafficked. Widows and elderly have no protection.
  • Fact: 2 million people in Chile were displaced as their homes were destroyed.

And twelve hours after the Chile quake all of the news media’s attention shifted from actual news stories to a potential tsunami in Hawaii.

Fact: Tsunami warnings had gone out for more than 4 hours all over Hawaii. There was no danger to life.

Fact: A potential tsunami is not equal to an actual tsunami. A potential tsunami was used to cover up the real story in Haiti. (The real story is that the church is meeting people’s needs while the NGOs and governments have meetings at the airport.)

Fact: The news was reporting on lines at Costco/Wal*Mart/Safeway, showing live video of a camera pointed at a computer screen of a Ustream.tv feed, and anchors desperately trying to convince experts that although scientific instruments were saying the tsunami was only creating a 2-3 foot wave– the wave must really be 30-50 feet.

Fact: This was worse than Geraldo opening Al Capone’s secret vault.

And yet every news agency was showing live video from all over the state, showing sunshine and waves, interviewing tourists on vacation– all for a natural disaster that had not even happened yet! One reporter asked a tourist, “What is the situation like up at Diamond Head?” The tourist, confused, looked at the reporter and told the truth. “It’s a party up there.They couldn’t go to commercial fast enough.

Something is wrong with us. The fear of a natural disaster outweighs an actual natural disaster? The fear of damaged vacation property outweighs the reality of millions of people’s homes in Chile and Haiti? The fear that a tsunami might hit outweighs the reality that a significant disaster has actually happened.

Fear makes us stupid.

When will we recognize that fear is our god? When will we stop living in fear? When will we be motivated by compassion that overcomes fear?

Categories
news item

The Future of Journalism

Man, this is good stuff. Arianna Huffington absolutely takes MSNBC to school on how journalism works today. Great, great clip here. This is a clash of “old world” journalism and “new world” journalism.

I know some were sad when I left Romeo because there wasn’t anyone left to do front row coverage of local school board stuff. Imagine a world with hundreds of thousands of Adam McLane’s? It’s my hope that many more people will take up their notepads and just report the news. I hope/pray the same is true at churches and denominations around the world. I can’t wait to see the whole world change to this new citizen paradigm. We’re smart… let us tell the news.

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

What I’ve learned with the stuff in Romeo is that where there is silence there is unchecked corruption. With the demise of the daily newspaper, we depend on raw news from people like you.

HT to Peggy

Categories
hmm... thoughts

Statement of the Obvious Headlines

I spend some time every day reading the latest stuff on adolescent research, teen marketing, etc. And sometimes stories pop-up and you think… did someone really think this was a revealing something that a everyone didn’t already know?

Here are two recent examples:

#1. Teen Brains Damaged by Heavy Marijuana Use — Didn’t this researcher ever watch a Cheech and Chong movie in high school?

#2 Obesity Can Complicate Teen Pregnancy — Notice it doesn’t say “obesity WILL complicate teen pregnancy.” This is a statement of the obvious on a lot of levels. When was the last time a teen pregancy wasn’t complicated?

The irony is that “real journalists” mock bloggers all the time on their network TV shows. Perhaps bloggers just expose the obvious… what is newsworthy is often just a catchy headline? And I love that “real journalists” are followed up on their networks by shows like TMZ, Extra, and Cheaters.

News at 11.

Categories
hmm... thoughts

Why do conservatives like to be told what to do?

Excuse the snarkyness of this post. I’m really curious if this is my crazy observation or if I’m just a jerk.

Have you ever noticed that conservative folks (politically and religiously) like to be told what to do? I don’t mean they will say “just tell me what to say, do, or think” but I mean that the people they flock to admire tend to be people who will tell them what to do and not challenge them very much to come to their own conclusions. (Or to examine how they came to the conclusions they evangelize.)

Example #1: Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh. These guys are certifiably nuts. (But entertaining) They spew all sorts of nonsense and political conservatives love them. People even call and email them to proclaim them as right in every situation. 90% of Stephen Colberts schtick is mocking them and still some peopel think they are brilliant.

Example #2: Dave Ramsey and Suze Orman. Don’t get me wrong, people should be conservative with their money. But if you have to call in to their show to hear this… “pay cash, pay off your credit cards” than I suspect you won’t notice that their making millions by humiliating you on TV, radio, books, and curriculum. Again, their shows are fodder for comedians. I hope someone gets a show on Comedy Central to teach people how to manage their money soon.

Example #3: Alpha male pastors. Look, I’m too close to evangelicalism to start naming names. I don’t care to get myself in that kind of trouble. But over and over I see these guys become succesful. They aren’t saying or doing anything special… just alpha dudes who get their jollies telling their congregations what to do. (Politics, money, and sex tend to be their top topics.) And yet, conservative people flock to them. This isn’t just senior pastors either! I see worship dudes and youth ministry dudes taking the same stance. It’s a powerful addiction as the more authoritative and the more they manipulate an audience, the more fervor people follow them. (The flip side is that the most successful ministry leaders are extremely humble, it’s only on their rise that they seem to be like this.)

Why do these conservative voices go unchecked? This is the beauty of the conservative system. If you dare to mention someone’s name or second guess some of their proclamations… just watch what the fan boys do! It’s as hilariously and predictable as the Cubs failing to mkae the World Series.

See, once these fans admire/idolize someone, once they learn to love being told what to do by them, these fans become vipers. The scour the earth looking for people who dare to question their dude’s authority and then they lash out. “How dare you question Dave? He helped me get out of debt.” (As if Dave Ramsey actually paid your bills… no, you were the one who got yourself out of debt!) “How dare you question my pastor? Because of him I am a new man!” (No, you are a new man because of grace and your pastor doesn’t impart grace.”) “How dare you question Rush? He was right about Bill Clinton!” (OK, I’ll give you that. But it was a decade ago.)

What’s the other side of this coin? Ah, there is a deadly side to this game as well. Being loved by conservatives is a double-edged sword. The moment that someone slays these dragons… or more often… their own actions disqualify them from holding their authoritative voice over conservatives, they are stricken down.

The sick thing about being a conservative voice for politics, money, or religion is that you are only the voice-du-jour. One day these people will turn on you. Not only will conservative people turn on their leader-du-jour, they will austrecize them. Then they will pretend like they never really listened to you, cared about you, or bought your book.

It’s a sick system. And I’m part of it.

So, I wonder… what’s with the psychosis of wanting to be told what to do?

Is it that we don’t want to think for ourselves?

Is it that we long for the simple life?

Or is it something else?

Categories
Video Clip

Sling Shot Man

Based on the age of the video I kind of doubt this old timer is still around. But if you were a kid with a sling shot like me as a kid, you know just how good this guy is.

Categories
Featured

Newspapers are Dinosaurs

This morning I opened my hotel room to discover today’s edition of USA Today. My first thought was, “I’ll put it on the pile next to the Monday edition” since I never opened it or ever read the headline.

It wasn’t very long ago that I loved the newspaper. Each morning I would head to the grocery store and pick up some juice and the Chicago Tribune. I’d sit in the break room and read the entire thing from cover to cover. But picking up the paper this morning I realized that its been several years since I had done that. 

Here are a few reasons I think the age of the newspaper is rapidly ending:

  • Newspapers are about yesterdays news in a world that demands up to the second news. 
  • Other than the “Letter to the editor” there is no way to respond to the news.
  • A blogger has nearly the same credibility as his/her local newspaper, maybe much more if they live where the news is happening. (I can attest to that)
  • People are suspicious of media sources as more and more people understand the spin that happens. 
  • Our attention spans are shorter. I remember in high school my english teacher I had “maybe” the first paragraph to win someone’s attention. Now, you better have a great headline and a picture or I’m scanning right by.
  • It’s printed on paper. Why would I want a newspaper when I can read the news on my mobile phone? Heck, I want them to start pushing the nightly news to my phone so I won’t need a TV!
  • Craigslist is killing the need or classifieds.
  • Why do they even print the weather in the paper?
I’ve got a lot more reasons I think newspapers are headed to the land of dinosaurs. But here’s the thing. People like dinosaurs. There will always be room in our hearts for the nostalgia of the newspaper. 

Question: Do you still get a local newspaper? If so, which one?