New poll on God and young Americans

The Associated Press and MTV released a new survey of Americans aged 13 to 24, and found a strong link between happiness and religious belief, and it also found that young believers are tolerant of other faiths:

An extensive survey by The Associated Press and MTV found that people aged 13 to 24 who describe themselves as very spiritual or religious tend to be happier than those who don't.

When it comes to spirituality, American young people also are remarkably tolerant -- nearly 7 in 10 say that while they follow their own religious or spiritual beliefs, others might be true as well.

. . .

The poll's mission was to figure out what makes young people happy. And it appears religion helps.

Eighty percent of those who call religion or spirituality the most important thing in their lives say they're happy, while 60 percent of those who say faith isn't important to them consider themselves happy.

''If you believe God is helping you, then everything else isn't as important and you can trust that there's somebody there for you no matter what,'' said Molly Luksik, a 21-year-old ballet dancer in Chicago and a Roman Catholic who attends Mass weekly. ''Just going to church and everything ... it's very calming, and everyone is nice.''

Sociologists have long drawn a connection between happiness and the sense of community inherent to most religious practice. Lisa Pearce, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina, said religion can indeed contribute to happiness, but she cautioned that the converse also can hold true.

''It's easier for kids who are happy and have things going well in their life to find the time and energy to participate in religion,'' said Pearce, co-principal investigator for the National Study of Youth and Religion. ''It could be kids who have bad experiences in church end up leaving and being unhappy with religion.''

The poll also asked young people to choose between two statements about their views of other faiths.

Sixty-eight percent agree with the statement, ''I follow my own religious and spiritual beliefs, but I think that other religious beliefs could be true as well.'' Thirty-one percent choose, ''I strongly believe that my religious beliefs are true and universal, and that other religious beliefs are not right.''

The latter statement is more likely to be the position of young teens -- 13 to 17 -- and those who attend religious services weekly.

However, tolerance is the rule overall. That doesn't surprise the Rev. Paul Raushenbush, associate dean for religious life at Princeton University and author of ''Teen Spirit: One World, Many Faiths.''

Young people eat lunch and play soccer with peers from other belief backgrounds, while adults tend to self-segregate with others of like mind, he said. Sweeping immigration reform in 1965 transformed America into the world's most religiously diverse nation, and young people grew up with the second generation of the immigrant wave, he noted.

The poll also found that religion is important to the lives of most young Americans:

On the whole, the poll found religion is a vital part of the lives of many American young people, although with significant pockets that attach little or no importance to faith.

Forty-four percent say religion and spirituality is at least very important to them, 21 percent responded it is somewhat important, 20 percent say it plays a small part in their lives and 14 percent say it doesn't play any role.

Among races, African-Americans are most likely to describe religion as being the single most important thing in their lives. Females are slightly more religious than males, and the South is the most religious region, the survey said.

Read it all here.

The poll was conducted by Knowledge Networks Inc. from April 16 to 23, and involved online interviews with 1,280 people aged 13 to 24.

Other studies show that young people stop attending church services in their twenties. What happens? What implications are there for the toleration of other beliefs found in the survey?

Standing room only

It was standing room only for the students of Trinity Prepartory School of Winter Park, Florida, who put on their production of La Cage aux Folles at the Universal Orlando Theater. Adam Hetrik of Playbill News wrote:

La Cage aux Folles, which was not a part of Trinity Preparatory school's regular theatre schedule, was offered as a summer intensive open to all local high school students, not only those enrolled at Trinity Preparatory School. The program was designed to provide students with a credit for a fine arts requirement by bringing in local theatre professionals in order to allow students the experience of a professional rehearsal and production process.

When the show was publicized at the start of the school year, controversy erupted.

(The) parents and students were aware of the musical's content. Having previously produced A Chorus Line at Trinity Prep, a musical with many progressive central themes, (Department head Janine) Papin hoped audiences and the school were willing to go on the latest journey with her.

However, when Bishop John Howe, head of the Diocese of Central Florida, read of Trinity Preparatory's intended presentation of La Cage aux Folles in a local paper, a letter was sent "officially requesting" the school's headmaster to cancel the production.

The cancellation might have been the end, but news of the move brought forward both a flood of protest and offers from area theater companies and arts groups to put on the show. Playbill reported that the students received at least 15 offers to stage the production. After negotiations it was decided to hold the production at Universal Orlando, but without the official sponsorship of Trinity Prep. Read more here.

Tanya Caldwell of the Orlando Sentinel reported that over 300 people attended the performance on opening night.

The students took the show to Orlando Repertory Theatre after a week of debate about whether the bishop overstepped his bounds or held his moral ground. At least three other theaters also opened their doors to the group.

At least 300 parents, peers and neighbors arrived for the opening night, laughing at the jokes, smiling during the solos and whistling as grinning drag queens danced across the stage.

The Broadway musical has won several awards and was later tuned into an American movie called The Birdcage, which starred Robin Williams and Nathan Lane. La Cage features a gay couple in which one partner runs a French nightclub and the other performs there as a drag queen. The couple has been together for 20 years but make changes when their son bring home his fiancee and her conservative parents.

According to Playbill, Bishop Howe issued the following statement:

"We regret that the scheduling of this performance has been interpreted as a departure from our 40-year history as an Episcopal school. The students who worked hard to prepare for this play had neither a political nor social agenda."

Papin, who is unable to comment publicly on the production due to school administration restrictions, issued the following statement in an official Trinity Prep press release:

"I am quite proud of the students' tenacity and determination through this very difficult process. And I am thrilled that the students will get to perform the show on which they have worked so very hard. I am so grateful to all who supported our students' work."

HUGS for the homeless

Church youth group members in Reno, Neveda, devised a project last year that became such a success they are doing it again this Christmas.

Moved by stories of what homeless people face in wintertime Reno, including frequently going without socks or underwear because those items so rarely are donated, the young people planned a special drive. They sought Hats, Underwear, Gloves and Socks. They called their project HUGS.

Read how they did it at Episcopal Life Online.

Teenage birth rate up for first time since ’91

The New York Times reports

Teenage birth rates are driven by rates of sex, contraception and abortion. In the 1990s, teenage sex rates dropped and condom use rose because teenagers were scared of AIDS, said Dr. John S. Santelli, chairman of the department of population and family health at Columbia University.

But recent advances in AIDS treatments have lowered concerns about the disease, and AIDS education efforts, which emphasized abstinence and condom use, have flagged.

Perhaps as a result, teenage sex rates have risen since 2001 and condom use has dropped since 2003. Abortion rates have held steady for a decade, although numbers from 2005 and 2006 are not available.

Kristin A. Moore, a senior scholar at Child Trends, a nonprofit children’s research organization, said the increase in the teenage birth rate was particularly alarming because even the 2005 rate was far higher than that in other industrialized countries.

And yet the US has the highest level of religiousity of any industrialized industry.

The Washington Post observes

The increase was greatest among black teens, whose birth rate rose 5 percent between 2005 and 2006, reaching 63.7 per 1,000 teens. That was particularly disappointing because black teens had previously made the greatest gains, with the rate among 15-to-17-year-olds dropping by more than half.

"There had been dramatic, dramatic improvement in that community," said [Sarah Brown of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy]. "All of us had hoped it would continue to decline."

The rate rose 2 percent, to 83 births per 1,000, for Hispanic teens, and 3 percent, to 26.6 per 1,000, for white teens.

On a related topic, a recent study does find a positive association between (self-reported) fidelity in marriage and church-going.

Commenters at The Lead rather soundly rejected ideas like father-daughter purity balls to reduce teen sex. What do readers recommend to address the problem of teenage pregnancy in America?

Lunch for homeless teens

St. Benedict's Episcopal Church in Olympia, Washington is offering free lunches everyday to homeless teens in the capitol city. During Christmas vacation teens who live on the streets or bunk in with friends don't have the school lunch program for a daily meal. Deacon Zula Johnston says the teens do not want to ask for food from those who help them during the year.

"There are high-schoolers out there who, when school is closed, they're not able to get anything to eat. So we're going to try to fill that gap," she said.

She got the idea after meeting with Debby Gaffney, a liaison to homeless children in North Thurston Public Schools.

Gaffney said winter break can be a challenge for the district's homeless and "couch surfer" teens who live with friends and don't like to burden their hosts for food.

In 2006, there were 97 homeless high school students and 24 homeless middle school students in the district, Gaffney said. She said circumstances vary for each student — some have run away to escape domestic violence or substance abuse at home; others might have been kicked out at 18 or might have stayed in Lacey when parents moved to another city or state.

Read it all here.

College student seekers

A new report indicates that a surprising number of college students are seeking spiritual answers to the questions in their lives.

The key results according to an article in USA Today are that students are increasingly looking for ways that help them discover their own beliefs, help them to become more caring to others and "develop an ecumenical worldview".

The article reports:

"The findings surprised and delighted the study's authors, Alexander and Helen Astin, retired UCLA professors who are engaged in a multi-year study of how the college experience influences spiritual development. It is funded by the John Templeton Foundation.

The Astins argue that higher education has been neglecting the 'inner' development of students, such as their emotional maturity, self-understanding and spirituality.

Now, their most recent study, based on a survey of more than 14,000 college students on 136 campuses at the start of their freshman year in fall 2004 and again at the end of their junior year in spring 2007, appears to challenge some common assumptions."

Apparently very few of the faculty at the colleges and universities where the students are studying will invite the sorts of discussions the students are seeking. Only twenty percent of the faculty encourage the desired discussions according to student reports.

Read the rest here.

Crocodile outside stable?

Ever wonder what children are learning about the Christmas story? The Daily Mail interviewed four year olds to nine year olds to find out.

What gifts did the three wise men bring?

Rashneet, six, from Broad Oak Primary School, Manchester: "The wise men brought coconut oil which was made of coconut, some sweets and some gold."

Jay, five, from Broomhill Infant School, Bristol: "The three wise men brought Jesus presents of gold, frankincense, smurr (sic) and silver. But I think he would have preferred wrestling toys."

Daniel, seven, from Stanfield Merchant Taylors' Junior School, Merseyside: "I know for his birthday he got money and gold from the wise men but I would have given him a Liverpool kit."

Dominic, six, Merchant Taylors: "I don't know what the three wise men brought Jesus but I would have given him a tin of biscuits. I think Mary, Joseph and Jesus would have all liked a biscuit."

Read the rest of the answers here.

HT to Thinking Anglicans.

What have you heard this Christmas?

Juno, Jamie Lynn and the rules of engagement

This item was prompted primarily by a desire to tell as many people as possible what a wonderful movie Juno is, but to give it a little more intellectual respectability, we included a link to Ruth Marcus' recent column on talking to her daughters about sex. And that's when things got complicated.

She writes:

This is the conundrum that modern parents, boomers and beyond, confront when matters of sex arise. The bright-line rules that our parents laid down, with varying degrees of conviction and rather low rates of success, aren't -- for most of us, anyway -- either relevant or plausible. When mommy and daddy didn't get married until they were 35, abstinence until marriage isn't an especially tenable claim.

Nor is it one I'd care to make. Would I prefer -- as if my preference much matters -- that my daughters abstain until marriage? No; in fact, I think that would be a mistake. But I'm not especially comfortable saying that, quite so directly, to my children, partly because that conversation gets so complicated, so quickly.

She moves on to the pregnancy of Jamie Lynn Spears, and then concludes:

And so the message I choose from Spears's pregnancy--and the one, once I recovered my composure, I ultimately delivered, is this: It could happen to you--even if you're the kind of "conscientious" girl who, as Jamie Lynn's mother described her, is never late for curfew. And so, whenever you choose to have sex, unless you are ready to have a baby, don't do it without contraception.

This is not only good advice, but probably all of the good advice one can manage in a 700 word op-ed piece. Still, there is protection and there is protection. Sexual relationship go awry in any number of ways less dire than an unwanted pregnancy, and young people need to be prepared for potential emotional as well as physical reprecussions. Such conversations are even more difficult to conduct with the necessary honesty and delicacy than The Talk. Yet they are so important, so worth having, that parents must be willing to have them badly.

Religious freedom runs off track

Juashaunna Kelly, a Muslim girl from a Washington, D. C. high school, was disqualified during an invitiational meet in neighboring Montgomery County, Maryland, after meet officials ruled the unitard she wears for religious reasons violated National Federation of State High School Associations' standards. The girl's coach pointed out that she has competed in that uniform for two years without incident.

Follow the Washington Post's coverage of this story here and here. And don't miss this slide show. Update: this morning's editorial.

The most troubling quote in either story is this one:

"What she needs to do is get some religious documentation saying it's part of her heritage and bring it with her to every meet," said Jim Vollmer, the commissioner of track for Montgomery County public schools.

An added twist: Kelly is running winter track right now, but she also excels at cross country. Much of the high school cross-country season takes place during Ramadan, so Kelly runs 30 miles per week or so while fasting.

Teen elected president of ECW

A 16-year-old Alamosa High School sophomore has been elected president of the Episcopal Churchwomen at St. Thomas the Apostle Episcopal Church, Alamosa, according to the Pueblo, NM Chieftain

Samantha Sparrow, daughter of Linda Sparrow, was unanimously elected this month to the post traditionally reserved for the graying set. It is believed she is the youngest woman to be elected to the position in parish's history.

Next month she and other churchwomen will put together hygiene bags for La Puente, the San Luis Valley's homeless shelter. The women of St. Thomas typically contribute 50 or more such bags containing combs, soap, washcloths, toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, lotion and other personal products to the shelter.

Read it all here.

Churches oppose corporal punishment of children

Ekklesia reports that churches around the world are speaking out against spanking and other forms of physical punishment of children. Often justified by misuse of the Bible corporal punishment of children is seen as causing long term permanent emotional and mental damage.

Outdated language used to justify corporal punishment of children is set to be removed from new translations of the Bible in Norway.

Church leaders have given the green light to the proposal, put forward by the Norwegian Ombudsman for Children, to replace the word “chastisement” with more appropriate language reflecting its original and intended meaning.

Ombudsman Reidar Hjermann found that children subjected to physical harm, who had contacted his office, believed violence may be authorised by the Bible.

Read it all here

Students become more spiritual, liberal in college

A new study from UCLA's Higher Education Research Institute finds "that while attendance at religious services decreased dramatically for most students between their freshman and junior years, the students’ overall level of spirituality, as defined by the researchers, increases. On hot-button social issues, such as abortion and gay marriage, the study finds that students become increasingly liberal."

Read an interview with one of the princiapl investigators, Alexander Astin, Allan M. Cartter Professor Emeritus of Higher Education at the University of California, who says:

It's important to realize that we don't equate religiousness with spirituality; there are students who are highly spiritual but not necessarily religious. The finding surprised us, however, because the two measures are related: Spiritual people tend to be religious and visa versa. If one declines, you'd expect the other to decline as well, but that didn't happen. We're looking for explanations of the apparent contradictions in the college experience and we've settled on two likely possibilities.

One is the fact that many of these students are away from home for the first time, and we suspect that, for some students, religious observance before college is influenced by the presence of the family. The second explanation has to do with the academic demands of the college experience: A greater deal of time is invested in studies during college than before college.

Teens, computers and TV

A recent study presented at American Heart Association's 48th Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention confirms what many parents already know:. Teens are spending a lot of time online and in front of the television:

While most teenagers (60 percent) spend on average 20 hours per week in front of television and computer screens, a third spend closer to 40 hours per week, and about 7 percent are exposed to more than 50 hours of 'screen-time' per week, according to a study presented at the American Heart Association's 48th Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention.

. . .

"Boys and those whose parents had lower educational attainment were much more likely to be in the 'high-screen time' group," said Tracie A. Barnett, Ph.D., lead author of the study. "Teens with high levels of screen time may be at increased risk of obesity."

Read it all here.

How should the Church respond?

Faith on campus

There are plenty of anecdotal stories about hostile responses to any attempt to talk about Christian faith on today's college campuses. There are also stories about how that sort of conversation is gratefully received by students. Which view, hostile or grateful, is right?

Most people tend to imagine that hostility toward faith and christian belief is the more commonly encountered reception.

But new evidence shows something different:

"The conventional wisdom, as it turns out, is not quite right.

From the pollsters come recent data showing that religion and spirituality are alive and well at colleges and universities. A recent study by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA finds that more than half of college juniors say 'integrating spirituality' into their lives is very important. Today's juniors also tend to pray (67%, according to the UCLA study) and 41% believe it's important, even essential, to 'follow religious teachings' in everyday life.

In these and similar measures, the college population tends to lag behind the population at large, but not by much. Other new research suggests that one's experience in higher education is not the cause of any falling away from faith. Survey results from University of Texas researchers find that students are less likely to be secularized than others ages 18-25. In other words, navigating the working world takes a larger toll on a young person's faith than braving the nation's supposedly godless college campuses.

It's not just trendy Eastern or New Age religions to which students are gravitating. Christianity is holding its own, too, in part because many campus Christians are showing a different side of their religion than the one that has lent irresistible fodder to comedians and given it a bad reputation in some quarters.

Young Christians, college students or otherwise, tend to emphasize different public concerns than the old-guard Christian Right. Like the older Christian generation, they do consider abortion an important issue, according to a survey by Relevant magazine, but the same survey finds that they tend to care less than their elders about asserting Christian prerogatives in the public square and resisting the advance of gay rights."

Read the rest here.

Church of England: prayers for students taking exams

The Church of England has published prayers for students and teachers as they approach their exams. The Telegraph reports:

The Rev Janina Ainsworth, the Church of England's chief education officer, said: "We hope these prayers will be used to give a helpful perspective and a sense of God's infinite love during testing times."

Six prayers have been written for teachers, primary school children and secondary pupils. One written for teachers says: "I don't suppose that you have time for this, Lord, but I am nervous. Not for myself, but for my class.

"Today they have that test, Lord; the one that seems to determine their future. They have worked hard, so have I! They deserve to do well. It should not be a problem, but… well, you know this lot, Lord."

Read the prayers here.

Mad Priest comments here.

We often pray at exam time - usually when we have not studied.

You were worse than we are

A young person defends the moral fitness of young people in an intriguing post that is more explict than our usual fare.

I am sick of hearing Baby Boomers and Gen X-ers complain about a perceived cultural decline among the younger generations. For a variety of measures, things started to go bad already by the 1950s, became obscene during the 1960s and '70s, and plateaued some time during the 1980s. Since roughly 1990, however, things have gotten steadily better. This series will catalog such a trend for measures typically given in support of the declinist hypothesis: we begin with sexual behavior, and will eventually cover violent crime, divorce, narcissism, the arts, and whatever other examples I come across or that readers suggest in the comments. The hope is that the series will prevent the real-world picture from disappearing down the Memory Hole, as every generation thinks that patterns among its usurpers spell doom, regardless of what the data show.

Read it all.

Episcopal youth gather

One of the least known, yet most exciting national programs in the Episcopal Church are the EYE gatherings. These every three year events bring young Episcopalians from around the country to meet, pray, study and have a great deal of fun. This year's gathering is coming up next week, and it's likely that folks are hitting the road this weekend so that they'll be in San Antonio in time.

The Episcopal News Service has details:

High-school aged young people -- nearly 850 strong -- from across the Episcopal Church are headed to San Antonio, Texas for the 2008 Episcopal Youth Event (EYE), which will take place July 8-13 on the campus of Trinity University. The youth delegates will be accompanied by 318 adult chaperones and resource persons. "This event is going to have something to satisfy everyone," said Zibby Allen, from All Saint's Episcopal Church, Northfield, Minnesota, who is a youth member of the EYE design team.

"The young people attending EYE can expect to have a good time while connecting and growing with fellow Episcopalians. They can also expect the opportunity to grow spiritually and intellectually," she said.

The theme of the EYE 2008 is "Sown in the Heart of Christ," which the design team discerned from the appointed Gospel lesson for Sunday, June 13, 2008, is inspired by a parable told by Jesus as recounted in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 13.

The full story is here.

We'll keep all these young people and their chaperones and resource people in our prayers. God grant them safe travel and may they encounter Christ in new and exciting ways!

Goth eucharist in Nanticoke


A small church in northeast Pennsylvania is having a Goth Eucharist modeled on one that was begun by the Church of St. Edward King and Martyr in Cambridge.

St. George’s Episcopal Church in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania, which is in near Scranton and in the Diocese of Bethlehem will hold the first Goth Eucharist this coming Saturday.

The of Scranton, PA, writes:

Spiky-haired youths, wearing black eyeliner, dressed in black clothing and black boots. It’s a sight rarely seen at local religious services.

A Luzerne County church is seeking to change that.

St. George’s Episcopal Church on Main Street will hold its first Goth liturgy at 9 p.m. Saturday, opening its doors to members of the “Goth” community and anyone else who is looking for “a different kind of spirituality,” Deacon Lou Divis said.

“I think experiencing a liturgy that’s a little off the wall is intriguing,” she said. “I’m expecting spikes and chains and beauty and joy.”

Deacon Divis said she hopes attendees will feel the truth and joy of God’s love, be who they are and not feel they have to appear in their “Sunday best.” Her goal is to “let people worship God in a way that’s meaningful to them, within the parameters of the liturgy.”

“It’s allowing people to come as God sees them,” she said.

Goths typically embody the dark, dramatic and mysterious mood or aesthetic, but also embrace the Elizabethan, Victorian or medieval periods, which were replete with Christian and religious imagery. White makeup, dark hair and makeup, and black clothing are stereotypical Goth attire, although Deacon Divis said many do embrace and use color. Many Goths are already Christians, and this service is a way of making them feel accepted in the mainstream church, she said.

Marcus Ramshaw wrote about being Christian and being Goth here:

A Christian Goth may initially seem to be an oxymoron. Goths, in terms of today’s sub-culture celebrate, with both an ironic and cynical attitude, an approach to life which is frequently both nihilistic and fatalistic. Christians, in contrast are associated with a joyful, faith-filled and positive approach to life, full of hope and a strong belief in redemption. The gothic view of life appears to be a stark contrast to the Christian one.

Modern day ‘goths’ tend to identify with each other through their musical tastes and dress sense, yet even then, there is less distinction made between a poseur, wannabee goth, more concerned with image and a real, committed approach to an outlook on life which is more authentically ‘gothic’. In reality, the ‘gothic imagination’ draws heavily from a variety of sources – literature, film, taste and philosophy, as well as music and fashion.

Trying to define a ‘modern day goth’ is a torturous exercise. Most goths themselves refuse to acknowledge the label. They continually debate amongst themselves what is ‘gothic’ and what is not. The two most obvious areas of group recognition – music and fashion are not, in themselves, as helpful as you might think. In music there are some obvious mainstream bands such as Joy Division, Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Christian death, Nightwish etc, though even with these there is some debate about their gothic credentials. However the gothic imagination didn’t simply start as a reaction to punk music in the late 1970s, it has a much older pedigree. In music what could be more gothic than the works of Wagner or even the music that originated from medieval plainsong?

In terms of fashion goths are stereotyped as the people who wear a lot of black and sometimes add white make up with black eyeliner. For goths wearing black is often the default option in their wardrobe. Many goths delight in luxurious rich colours, incorporating purple, red and dark blue. There is often a fascination with pre-raphaelite art which incorporates a vibrant array of colours. Gothic dress is more about making a statement which is invariably theatrical, rather than simply wearing black.

So what makes you a ‘goth’ in the 21st Century? I think it is principally a state of mind, an attitude towards the world, a way of viewing life and those around you. For the modern day goth this is a deep identity with the darker dimensions to our existence. They feel that they don’t fit in with conventional or ‘respectable’ society. They regard themselves as different and often misunderstood by the wider world. It would be too simplistic, however, to regard this outlook as an entirely bleak approach. There is a longing for something more from the world, though with little expectation that this will materialize. There is often a deep-rooted desire for a more inclusive and non-judgmental world.

Anglimergent had a discussion about reaching out to punks and goths in September. It included this comment by Edward Green, the 33-year-old curate at Soham and Wicken:

I am not really a MCA but I most certainly have a musical taste which falls in the realm of Gothic so I hope you don't mind me joining to throw a few thoughts in.

Firstly 'Goth' is as wide as 'Anglican' as a term when referring to music and subculture.

The roots of the movement were not so much about what you could describe as 'macho' rebellion, but far more about subversion and romanticism. Many of the first 'Goth' bands in the period between 1979 and 1983 were dubbed 'Positive Punk', because the message was not 'Destroy' but 'Subvert'. Gothic was as in literature (Byron, Shelley, etc) rather than marauding tribes. Or maybe architecture - if Classical or Romanesque architecture represented the starkness of late 20th century modernism then Gothic almost represents a return to medievalism, but with a post-modern critique and playfulness.

Sound familiar?

The music deals with religious themes, but frequently in a playful questioning way. The style of dress was frequently androgynous. Aesthetic and Content were seen as a whole in life, music and being, Bands such as The Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Specimen, Killing Joke and Bauhaus, would give a general feel for the music and tone (although Goth's would argue if all of these were 'really' Goth).

It will come as no surprise that I know a lot of Christian Goths in this mold. Most of them are Catholic Anglicans or Roman Catholic. Most of them would be theologically Orthodox, but socially and ethically liberal.

However the word Goth has widened since the early 80's to become a bit of a catch all for anyone who wears black and looks a bit different.

The first level of this is the 'Goth Scene'. The scene includes people of all ages and backgrounds. Thinking of half a dozen folks who I know in the scene most are in their early thirties and are professionals earning upwards of $60k a year who dress in black at work, but at the weekends really push the boat out. Their taste in music and culture will be informed by the definition above, but will be far wider than that. There is a large group of people who listen to industrial harsh dance music who are part of the scene. So Goth here is a grown up sub-culture or club. An escape from the mundanity of life for the middle class kids who grew up successful but never felt they fitted in. I know even more Christian Goths in this area.

The second level is kids. At least in the UK kids call themselves Goths even if they listen to music like Heavy Metal (Cradle of Filth, some Death& Black Metal) or Industrial Rock (Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson). Some of this music I would describe as Anti-Christ, and in some ways Anti-Goth (it certainly isn't philosophical, thoughtful, positive or romantic!). Being a musical purist I struggle with this lot. Because they make a big thing of being rebellious and 'Gothic' without having any idea what the latter means. Int he UK at least most of these kids are middle class.

UK studies have recently shown that Goths have higher than average intelligence, are more likely to go to university, and find themselves in successful creative careers.

Learn more about the Goth Eucharist here.

Child bishop to take over diocese

A nine-year-old girl from Hampshire has taken on the role of a bishop for the month of December according to the BBC News.

Read more »

Getting behind the Bokamoso Youth program

For the last five years, the Diocese of Washington has offered an online Advent calendar, and each year we've offered visitors the opportunity to mark the season by making a financial contribution to a worthy cause. This year we are asking you to support a ministry that is especially close to our hearts, the Bokamoso Youth program. Each day, in addition to a daily meditation and a link to the Daily Office, the calendar features a videotaped interview with one of the scores of South African young people whose lives have been changed, even saved, by Bokamoso, or with one of their grateful parents.

Read more »

New congregation reaches at risk youth

A new congregation in the Diocese of Arizona is focusing on reaching out to young people who are headed to prison, in significant danger of doing so, or who have just been released. The Congregation of St. Jude's is attempting to create a community of support gathered around Christ's altar that will give these young people the power they need to turn their lives around.

Read more »

Using hypocrisy to encourage safe sex

Washington Post

What if the students placed themselves in a position where they vociferously and publicly advocated to others the utility of condoms? If Aronson could make them spokespeople for AIDS prevention, he theorized, it would be very difficult for them to then act as if condoms didn't really do much to stop AIDS or they were not really at risk. They would feel like hypocrites.

Aronson realized he had gotten things backward: Instead of his selling condom use to students, what he really needed was for them to sell AIDS prevention to him.

Children of the Gospel choir

There is finally some video available of the Children of the Gospel Choir singing He's Got the Whole World in His Hands at the National Prayer Service last Wednesday. It is the second item on this page.

Connecticut reaches out to Kenya

Terri Miles of the Amity (CT) Observer writes:

The dedication, support and money from a local church has made the dreams of young children halfway across the world come true. The Rev. Evalyn Wakhusama of Kenya delivered that message during a Jan. 28 visit to the Christ Episcopal Church in Bethany.

The Nambale Magnet School in Kenya opened its doors to the first two classes of 30 kindergartners and first-graders Jan. 12. Wakhusama presented a PowerPoint to parishioners to show them what their generosity achieved.

“The Nambale Magnet School is a beacon of hope and a symbol of development in Western Kenya, an extremely impoverished region,” Wakhusama said.

She showed photographs of colorful classrooms, the dining facility, dormitories, the school’s exterior, and the students wearing their new school uniforms. It contrasted sharply with pictures she showed of overcrowded public schools in the area where as many as 100 children share a classroom.

“We have reasons to be grateful and joyful in our hearts,” Wakhusama said.

Religious leaders fight N.Y. bill to open abuse cases

Roman Catholic and Orthodox Jewish officials in New York are mounting an intense lobbying effort to block a bill before the State Legislature that would temporarily lift the statute of limitations for lawsuits alleging the sexual abuse of children.

Paul Paul Vitello in The New York Times:

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Northeast meets Biblebelt

Brown University student Kevin Ross '09 writes about his semester at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University:

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Bullying and suicide

On April 6, just before dinner, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, a Massachusetts boy who had endured relentless homophobic taunts at school, wrapped an extension cord around his tiny neck and hanged himself. He was only 11 years old. His mother had to cut him down.

On April 16, just after school, Jaheem Herrera, a Georgia boy who had also endured relentless homophobic taunts at school, wrapped a fabric belt around his tiny neck and hanged himself as well. He too was only 11 years old. His 10-year-old sister found him.

Two beaming little boys, lost. To intolerance? Too tragic.
A July study conducted by researchers at Yale School of Medicine that was published in the International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health reviewed 37 other studies from 13 countries and found “signs of an apparent connection” between bullying and suicide. From a statement issued about the report:

“Almost all of the studies found connections between being bullied and suicidal thoughts among children. Five reported that bullying victims were two to nine times more likely to report suicidal thoughts than other children were.”

...the study also found that “the perpetrators who are the bullies also have an increased risk for suicidal behaviors.” Many bullies are victims too - wounded souls stumbling through life, knocking things over, crying out for help, trying to fill a void.

Read more here.

Charles Gibson reports below:

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Child labor increases in global financial crisis

Ekklesia reports that the aid and development agency World Vision is warning that the continuing global financial crisis and the damage it is causing local economies is forcing more and more children around the world into the worst forms of child labour.

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Unravelling a sordid history

The Houston Press News unfolds the story of the Rev. James Lydell Tucker, a pedophilic priest who worked in Episcopal schools in the Diocese of Texas in the 1950s through the early 1990s, and examines the diocese's response to the allegations against him.

Poor kids hurt worst by economic downturn

From the Foundation for Child Development:

The first comprehensive report on the impact of the current recession on the overall health, well-being and quality of life of America’s children, released by the Foundation for Child Development (FCD), shows that the downturn will virtually undo all progress made in children’s economic well-being since 1975.

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Abortion and religiosity

Newsweek reports surprising results on abortion and religious belief:

Unwed pregnant teens and 20-somethings who attend or have graduated from private religious schools are more likely to obtain abortions than their peers from public schools, according to research in the June issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.

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Pushing young people out the door

Readers who are interested in evangelism, church planting and emerging church issues will enjoy this edifying essay by the Rev. Tom Brackett on his exploration of the Fresh Expression movement in the Church of England. Tom asked many of the people he met what they would have done differently had they known 20 years ago the effect that secularization would have on European society and the European Church. They responded:

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A different sort of youth retreat

Duke Divinity School is trying something a little different than the typical youth summer camp experience in which so many church kids participate. The folks in the Duke Youth Academy for Christian Formation (DYA) are basically recreating a monastic/semarian experience.

From an article posted on the United Methodist website:

"Instead of typical youth ministry fare such as whitewater rafting or ski trips, DYA offers days that begin and end with worship and are punctuated throughout with study, work, common meals and rest. 

It’s a strange rhythm for today’s youth: 16- and 17-year-old kids hear lectures from seminary professors and work with artists as they learn to integrate art and Christian faith. They engage in local service projects and they spend time intentionally doing nothing. 

In short, for two weeks the DYA kids live something like a monastic life. 

And get this: they love it."

Read the full article here.

NOLA children study with visiting artists from Trinity Wall Street

The Times-Picayune reports:

Thirteen students of All Souls Episcopal Church and Community Center music programs will perform a concert Friday at 6:30 p.m., in the church at 5500 St. Claude Ave., with the help of visiting artists from Trinity Wall Street Church in New York and the All Souls Summer Music Program staff. The concert is free and open to the public.

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Old liturgy, young worshippers

In a growing trend, people are noticing that one of the reliable ways to attract a younger congregation of folks in college and their mid twenties is to return to Solemn High Mass rather than making existing forms more contemporary feeling.

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Souls in Transition

Naomi Schaefer Riley in the Wall Street Journal:

College professors have been complaining about their students since the beginning of time, and not without reason. But in the past several years more that a few professors—to judge by my conversations with a wide range of them—have noticed an occasional bright light shining out from the dull, party-going, anti-intellectual masses who stare back at them from class to class.

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Harvard's humanist chaplain interviewed

Tom Ashbrook interviews Christian Smith and Greg Epstein. Smith is professor of sociology and director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Society at the University of Notre Dame and was co-principal investigator in the National Study of Youth and Religion, a longitudinal study started in 2001. Humanist Chaplain at Harvard University. His new book is Good Without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe>.

Listen here at Tom Ashbrook's On Point on NPR.

The next lost generation? Maybe not.

Over the past few years there's been some serious hand-wringing about the challenges that the youth of today will be facing as they move through adulthood. To some the challenges seem too great to be overcome. But not to young people.

This video took 2nd place in the AARP contest, U@50

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Child sex abuse: bishop faces up to problems

Ruth Gledhill interviews the Bishop of Arundel and Brighton Kieran Conry, who forthrightly speaks of the need to investigate and address child sexual abuse. Conry does not shy away from how badly the church has acted in the past and his hopes for better response in the future:

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Spiritual but not religious, Part 5,637

Bruce G. Epperly and Katherine Gould Epperly writing for the Alban Institute:

It has become common for religious seekers of all ages to make the following statement: "I'm spiritual, but not religious." Often this claim is given as explanation for leaving a particular church or choosing not to attend church at all.

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Pediatric group distorts research

A group called the American College of Pediatricians has recently issued a press release and sent a letter to every school district in the country. The name is very similar to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and no doubt intended to be mistaken for that body of respected physicians.

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Theological brew and pizza church

There's been a rising movement to take theological discussions out of the confines of church buildings and out into the larger world with the hope that more people will participate, and the theological discussions will be more grounded. Generally this takes the form of a bible study at a local coffee shop. (There are usually two or three going on at any one time at the coffee shop near our Cathedral here in Phoenix.)

But you do hear of the occasional pub being pressed into service too.

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Teach peace to stop murder

Parishes of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland in the city of Baltimore are partnering with people of other denominations and faith in a program that hopes to stop the rising count of murders in the city. Baptists, Muslims, Jews and others are planning on creating programs for children that will teach peace as a response to the violence they are learning on the streets.

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Will our children have empathy?

University of Michigan researchers say empathy among U.S. college students is at a 30 year low.

"We found the biggest drop in empathy after the year 2000," said Sara Konrath, a researcher at the U-M Institute for Social Research. "College kids today are about 40 percent lower in empathy than their counterparts of 20 or 30 years ago, as measured by standard tests of this personality trait."

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What are young adults not looking for from religion?

Consider two claims that David Briggs makes in his post Young adults open to religious participation:

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Tattoos, motorcycle and a "rock star" priest

How do we reach the younger adults who aren't really sure if they'd be welcome in the Episcopal Church? How about lifting a young priest who doesn't exactly look like the typical Parson Weems sort?

The Diocese of Hawaii is installing a new priest,Paul K. Klitzke, from Alaska who was called to a new parish plant to reach out to the 20-somethings who aren't typically found in congregations:

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Evangelism and the under-30 crowd

Sheryl A. Kujawa-Holbrook's essay for the Alban Institute features the work of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts:

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Vacation Bible School season

Page Onorato, writing in The Dispatch from North Carolina, remembers Vacation Bible School. What are your memories? Do you have VBS at your church?

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What sort of religious leaders do the young seek?

There's a growing cottage industry of people opining about how to make Church relevant to young people, many of whom have grownup in homes with little or no exposure to religion other than negative views in the mass media. Someone finally decided to ask young people directly.

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The patron saint of whistleblowers

Francis X. Rocca of Religion News Service writes:

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Mother Mary MacKillop won’t be canonized until Oct. 17, but some Catholics already have an unofficial title for the 19th-century Australian nun: Patron Saint of Whistle-blowers.

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Drew Brees speaks out about bullying

Drew Brees speaks out about bullying:

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Wear purple today!

Today, October 20th, is "Wear purple day" in honor of the gay youth who committed suicide in recent weeks, and in support of all LGBTQ youth.

Hat tip to "Friends of Jake" blog

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Hauerwas on being a Christian college student

Stanley Hauerwas has some advice for young college students, in particular ones that are interested in combining their Christian faith with their planned vocations. He's written an open letter to students and given wide ranging advice, some of it as a professor, some of it as a theologian, and all of it within the context of a person who takes faith seriously speaking to another who hopes to.

Here's just a taste:

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Family values

This is the kind of thing that happens when gays and lesbians are allowed to adopt children.

Some things we know for sure — a little boy dealt a seemingly impossible hand, the two gay men who decided to give him a home and a life, the unlikely spell cast by the only horse in Montclair.

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Songs of the spirit

The Washington Post tells the story of a group of young people from the Bokamoso Youth Centre, Winterveldt, South Africa, who are in the Washington, DC area on a cultural exchange.

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More teens opting out of sexual activity

According the latest government research into American sexual behavior, more than a quarter of all men in their teens and early twenties have not been sexually active. The number is higher for women in the same age group. Pregnancy rates among the sexually active in that group are down by almost half.

From an article in the Washington Post on the data:

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On being relevant to the young

There are good reasons, culturally, why church does not work for many people, especially many young people. By and large church is a place where human beings come to interact together in person and inter-generationally, discuss an ancient text, and participate in a bunch of archaic rituals. In short, it is a counter-cultural situation in the extreme. A very common response to the counter-cultural character of church is to try to make the church “relevant,” which is often a synonym for non-counter-cultural, hip, trendy, and full of Power Point.

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Episcopal Youth Event planned to be transformative

The triennial Episcopal Youth Event planned to be transformative:

Episcopal Youth Event is planned to be transformative experience of worship, community and mission
From Episcopal News Service

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At Episcopal Youth Event, presiding bishop leads call to mission: 'Get connected and heal the world!'

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Episcopal youth, empowered for mission

At the Episcopal Youth Event, young Episcopalians are empowered for mission!

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Second lawsuit filed against Parry's former abbey

The Kansas City Star has the story:

A second lawsuit has been filed against a northwest Missouri abbey alleging cover-up of sexual abuse by a former monk who directed its boys’ choir in the 1980s.

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Stop blaming only the poor for the riots

Barry Morgan, the Archbishop of Wales has strong words from establishment figures in the U.K. who are blaming the August riots solely on the lack of morals amongst the poor. He challenges the "elite" to put their own house in order first, and to see to their own moral compasses before they call for the adjustment of others'.

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Transgender kids: painful quest to be who they are

CNN reports on transgender children and their quest for acceptance.

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Millennials: faith and values not key ingredients to America's story

A study by the Pew Research Center for the People & Press contends that the Millennial generation just isn't all that into religion when it comes to what makes America America.

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Episcopalians and the "new evangelicals"

In a column for Patheos Jonathan D. Fitzgerald, managing editor of Patrol magazine writes about the so-called "new evangelicals," a name he dislikes, and the home that some of them have found in the Episcopal Church.

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Courage to date

Kerry Cronin, Boston College's "dating doctor" writes in Christian Century on the dating scene or lack of dating on college campuses these days. A sample:

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Losing their church; how the young navigate

David Kinnamen, the president of the Barna Group has a new book out that examines the ways that young people navigate the transition from High School to Young Adulthood in terms of their faith; and why so many decide to leave church. The book's title is "You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church and Rethinking Faith." He's interviewed more than 5,000 teens and twenty-somethings and finds that there's a relatively common thread in all of their experiences.

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Santorum says college saps your faith. What do you say?

Rick Santorum has made headlines recently by claiming that colleges more or less systematically rob young people of their faith. Talking Points Memo rebuts this claim with a raft of studies. The studies are not unanimous in assessing the impact of attending college on "religious participation," so let's give them a hand.

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Why did Jesus have to die?

Mark Harris shares his sermon from the Easter Vigil. How would you answer Lily's question?

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A letter from an exhausted, exasperated young person

Hat top to the Rev. Steve Pankey who pointed us to this letter at the Scriptorium blog maintained by the Grunewald Guild. Having just returned from the Chicago Consultation's gathering of bishops and young adults, it really resonated with me.

These two passages will give you a flavor for the piece, which is worth reading in its entirety:

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In the breaking of the bread

StoryKeep has produced a lovely video about St. Lydia's Dinner Church in Brooklyn. One of St. Lydia's leaders, Emily Scott, has contributed several essays, including this one, to the Cafe.

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Why millennials are losing faith: one man's take

There is no shortage of opinion on why people in the "Millennial" generation are losing interested in organized religion, and, according, to a recent poll, doubting the existence of God in greater numbers. Here is how Nick Vadala at the Philly Post sees it:

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Camps for kids at risk

Sharon Sheridan reports at Episcopal News Service on summer programs that make a difference in kids lives:

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A camp where transgender kids can be themselves

Bella English of The Boston Globe has written a lovely story about a camp for transgender children.

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Doubt belongs in youth ministry

A study by Fuller Youth Institute shows that directly confronting doubt and fundemental questions of faith is essential for effective ministry to young people.

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Talking about God and sex on campus

Here is a fascinating account of the conversations that students and the Rev. Kimberly Jackson are having about sexual ethics and their religious faith at the Atlanta University Center, which serves several universities in that city. An excerpt:

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"Cynical fear mongering" from the American Family Association

For reasons that are not immediately apparent, The New York Times has written a story about the American Family Association, which believes that telling people not to beat up gay and lesbian children is morally wrong.

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Marriage equality: it's for the kids

Aaron C. Davis of The Washington Post tells one family's story, and in the process captures a) the ways in which laws that prohibit same same-sex marriage harm the children of gay and lesbian couples, and b) how politically potent the message that those children need protection has become. He writes:

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Talking theology with a 10-year-old who is learning to knit

The Rev. Megan Castellan recently had occasion to talk theology with a 10-year-old boy while teaching him to knit. And as one doesn't get a chance to write a sentence like that every day, we are glad that she wrote about it.

Here's a taste of their conversation:

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UK Girl Guides and Boy Scouts consider oath for atheists

UK Boy Scouts and Girl Guides are considering development of an oath for atheist scouts and guides according to The Guardian:

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"People realize that we shouldn't throw trash away carelessly ...Well, we shouldn't throw people away either" ~Favio Chavez, orchestra director:

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Episcopal leaders respond to massacre in Newtown

Updated at bottom with additional statements at 1:25

Episcopal Church leaders have begun to respond to the massacre yesterday in Newtown, Connecticut. Here are some of their responses.

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Choosing your child's religion

The Rev. Nurya Love Parish reflects on how even those who say they want their children to decide what religion they want to follow are actually choosing a religion for them. Responding to KJ Dell’Antonia of the New York Times Motherlode blog, Love notes:

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Victoria's Secret coming for middle-schoolers

Amy Gerwing writing at The Black Sphere blog reveals the latest outrage from Victoria's Secret who featured Justin Beiber, tween idol, in a recent show:

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Snark is so yesterday

The New York Times reports on a return of etiquette by the younger generation sick of snark, irony and rudeness:

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Angry. Young. Men.

Lisa Miller has written a provocative column for New York Magazine dilating on the fact that whatever their motives and whatever their mental conditions, the perpetrators of mass bloodbaths tend to be angry, young and male.

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Wanted: An adult faith in a youth culture

Chaplain Mike at The Internet Monk has a distinctive take on some of the issues of generational leadership and the importance of reaching out to young adults that we have been discussing here on The Lead lately:

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Drawing lessons from the Boston bombings

In an op-ed for the Richmond Times Dispatch on potential reasons for the Boston Marathon bombing, the Rev. William L. Sachs, executive director of the Center for Interfaith Reconciliation based at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Richmond, Va., writes:

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Reaching out to young adults: What are we doing right?

Jason Evans, young adult missioner for the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, is writing a series of articles for the diocesan blog called Ministry Among Millennials, which he hopes will take the edge off of some of the unhelpful anxiety loose in the church over its difficulties in connecting with people in their twenties and thirties.

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Maybe congregations shouldn't try to keep young people

The Rev Heidi Haverkamp wonders in essay on the Collegeville Institute website, if perhaps congregations should not try so hard to keep their young people:

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Boy Scouts lift ban on gay scouts

The Boy Scouts of America, meeting in Grapevine TX passed a resolution 61%-38% to remove its ban on openly gay scouts that has been in place during the organization's 103-year history. Gay leaders are still banned:

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Taizé on Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota

This Memorial Day weekend, the brothers of Taizé, an ecumenical monastic community in France, will partner with Lakota people to host hundreds of young people, ages 18-35, for prayer and conversation at Christ Church, an Episcopal church near Red Shirt, South Dakota. The Rapid City Journal reports:

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Episcopal Youth Event to be held at Villanova University next July

From the Episcopal Church's Office of Public Affairs:

[June 8, 2013] The popular Episcopal Youth Event (EYE) will be held at Villanova University in suburban Philadelphia, PA. Slated for July 9-13, 2014, EYE14 is being planned in partnership with the Diocese of Pennsylvania.

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Are millennials reinventing charity?

Writing for CNN, John Bare says Millennials will "reinvent" charity. What do you think?

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Malala at the UN: My soul is telling me, be peaceful and love everyone.

Malala Yousufzai, the 16-year-old Pakistani education activist who survived a Taliban assassination attempt in October 2012, spoke to the Youth Assembly of the United Nations today. It was her first public address since she was shot in the head last fall. Her text, which includes the following excerpt, is here. She said:

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Marks of the new monasticism

Sharon Ely Pearson has a post on the Building Faith blog on "the marks of the new monasticism." They are:

Marks of a New Monasticism

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What summer camp taught me about rules, priorities & the Great Commandment

The Rev. Robyn Barnes has been to summer camp and learned a few things about rules and priorities, both as they apply to children and as they apply to the wider church.

She writes:

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Passing on the faith: 6 essentials

Phyllis Tickle offers her six essentials for passing on the faith at Patheos:

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Ministering to students as the school year draws near

Christ Church, Poughkeepsie is one of a number of Episcopal Churches that not only blesses backpacks for school students, but fills them with necessary supplies. The Poughkeepsie Journal tells the story. We've heard of other parishes that both give out backpacks, fill them with food, collect them every other week and then redistribute them.

In what ways is your congregation ministering to student who will soon be heading back to school?

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Children are shot to death accidentally at twice the reported rate

The New York Times:

Children shot accidentally — usually by other children — are collateral casualties of the accessibility of guns in America, their deaths all the more devastating for being eminently preventable.

They die in the households of police officers and drug dealers, in broken homes and close-knit families, on rural farms and in city apartments. Some adults whose guns were used had tried to store them safely; others were grossly negligent. Still others pulled the trigger themselves, accidentally fracturing their own families while cleaning a pistol or hunting.

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Slaying galvanizes Episcopal Church in Massachusetts

The Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts has responded with a surge of activism to the shooting death of Jorge Fuentes, 19, a "contrarian kid" who became "a standout counselor at his church’s youth programs" and an enthusiastic participant in mission trips.

Fuentes was killed more than a year ago, and the diocese's commitment to diminishing urban violence by treating the root causes has been building every since.

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International Day of the Girl Child

This week featured the International Day of the Girl Child, October 11. Anglican Communion News Service provides a liturgy for the celebration. Global Partnerships of the Episcopal Church reports:

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Nevada bishop speaks of heartbreak after school shooting

From Bishop Dan Edwards of the Diocese of Nevada:

Our hearts break for the school shooting victims and their families in Sparks, Nevada today. St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 1135 12th St., Sparks will meet for prayer and healing for the whole community at 6 pm (Pacific) tonight.

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Nadia Bolz-Weber gets some mainstream love

Nadia Bolz-Weber, who has been the talk of folks who are looking for ways to made Christianity more compelling to young people who don't trust the church, has finally caught the attention of the mainstream media.

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Is youth ministry killing the church?

New studies show that children and youth who are involved in the life and worship of the church are more likely to stay into adulthood while those with strong "youth programs" drop out.
Kate Murphy reflects in the Christian Century:

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If we don't do "youth ministry" what can we do?

In response to "Is Youth Ministry Killing the Church" Laura Darling asks what should we do if we don't do youth ministry. From Confirm Not Conform:

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A high camp-ology

A delightful blog post by Conor Gwin:

In the bubble of seminary you quickly discover that everyone wants to know where you stand on the high-low spectrum for dozens of -ologies (Christology, soteriology, ecclesiology, etc.). I often find myself put-off by this classification system because, as is our way here in the Western world, it makes huge and mysterious topics into overly-simple, false dichotomies – but that is for another post.

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To be young and homeless

A sobering thought to reflect on as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus: an estimated 1.6 million young people are homeless in the United States. At She the People, a blog on The Washington Post website, Bernardine Watson writes:

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What if you shut down your Sunday School?

Day Smith Prichartt writes about an alternative approach to religious education for children:

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Montana Episcopalians hold summer camp for kids whose parents are in prison

The Episcopal Diocese of Montana offers summer camp to children and teens whose parents are incarcerated: The
Billings Gazette writes:

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Food from the Abundant Table.

"The mission of Abundant Table is to connect people, the land, and spirituality..." ~ Sam Thomas, board president.

Here's a lovely video from this Episcopal Service Corps affiliate.

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Inspirational closing Eucharist with Bp. Curry at EYE14

Bishop Michael Curry of North Carolina wowed the youth at EYE14's closing Eucharist.

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Faith, teens and digital media

Art Bamford of Fuller Youth Institute talks to danah boyd, author of the book It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens. boyd is a Principal Researcher at Microsoft, a Professor at New York University, and a Fellow at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society.

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