Saturday, December 03, 2005

Ben's comments for week 10

To Wendy:

Yup, it looks like I am going to comment on your post again as well. Wess...we don't have much to go by, but anyway I will try.

When I was reading the book I thought about how you were working with the youth in their current situation. I enjoyed reading your story about what you do witht the youth. I know it is a challenge and a joy at the same time. You are investing your time with them and Iknow you are making an impact in their lives whether you think so or not. Not to many people give these youth any time or day and that is just what they need.

You mentioned how over half of these boys did not have fathers growing up and I just have to think how if their fathers were there these boys would probably will not be in the situation they are in right now.

Well, I pray that God will continue to use you to reach out to these boys. You would not believe how much you are impacting their lives.

Wendy's Comments 12-4-05 week 10

Hi Ben,

Looks like I get to comment on your post again. :-)

I like what you have written here.

You might say I do not want to go to France or God is not calling me to live overseas. Good, because right in our own backyard here in Los Angeles are broken communities that need to see the social gospel. When I say, see the social gospel I do not mean preaching the gospel in the form of evangelism. I am saying living out the gospel so that transformation can happen. When we live out the gospel, we are preaching the gospel.

I know I could go on but I won't unless I get at least ten people to comment telling me to go on. I have just given you a small taste of what our world is really like today. My question to you is what are you as a Jesus-follower going to do about it?


I've been working with incarcerated youth for 4 years now. It's been a life-changing experience for me - deepened my faith and led me to seminary.

I see the limitations of working with youth who have already been incarcerated. I know they are more receptive to the gospel while in prison. But I spent too many years in manufacturing not to know that catching defects in QA is not the way to build a quality product. Better to help create communities where prison is the rare occurance, not a common one.

I've already decided I want to live the gospel. Pray for me, please, so I'll be more clearly able to see what I need to do and then go do it.

Wendy's Synthesis 12-4-05 week 10

The Weight of the World

Oh my...having read portions of this prior to the riots in Paris made that news more real for me.

But there were two sections that I concentrated on, because they resonated with me personally. I volunteer with Chaplain's Eagles and teach a weekly Bible Study class for incarcerated youth an LA County Probation Camp up in the mountains.

I read "Inside 'The Zone'" about a hustler in an American Black ghetto to help me understand their culture. About half of the boys I work with are African American, mostly gang bangers, either Bloods or Crips. In the article I found some of the details meshed with my experience. They boys greatly respect people who are authentic and "keep it real". They have a sensitive BS radar. They also place a great emphasis on being tough. Of course, they don't always feel tough on the inside and I know that. Sometimes they know I know that.

They all dreams about what they want to be on the outside and sometimes speak of it. But few know how to create a plan to make those dreams a reality. Most want it now - and plans often take years to come to fruition.

There's one section where they talk about Rickey's relationship with women:

...if need be calling to the rescue one of his many lady friends....he takes trouble to maintain "at all costs" these ambiguous relationships that tie him to several women who each believe the she is "the one and only".

That section reminded me of a conversation our class was having about sex, faithfulness and marriage. One of the young men proclaimed "I can't just stay with one girl,you know what I'm sayin'". I looked at him and smiled sweetly and said, "Please don't consider this an insult, but if that's the case you're not worth having". The room erupted in laughter.

The second section I focused on was "Homeless in El Barrio". The other half of the young men I work with are Hispanic. Snippets of this chapter were familiar to me as well.

When Ramon talked about his mother, I recall how often the young men are shamed by how much they have hurt their mother. I watch their faces while they talk to their mother's on the phone in "Intake". There is often a softness, a wistfullness on their faces and in their voices. I sense the love.

Many of the young men are unmarried fathers. It's a sign of manhood there. Their faces soften when they speak of their girlfriends and their kids. It's hard to watch children having children. It's hard to know that their actions are condemning their girlfriends and children to a life of poverty and violence. To walk that fine line of "keeping it real" and telling them what I know to be true, without adding to the shame they already feel. To hate the sin and love the sinner. I'm sorry if this is less of a critique and more of a rant.

On Saturday the 10th there will be an "open house" at the Camps for families. I will be there, to talk to the families. The work I do is frustrating, because regulations state I cannot work "in the field" with these young men as they leave the probation camp. I see the need for those regulations and I know that the work we do is valuable. But perhaps my frustration is a sign that I'm being led to another place. Perhaps it's also God reminding me that His work is not limited by my competence or lack thereof. Thank God for that!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Ben's Synthesis for week10 on The Weight of the World

This week’s reading was great. The Weight of the World by Pierre Bourdieu was written and put together well. This book was much refreshing compared to the other two. I really enjoyed reading this book and might finish reading the rest of it. Ok, now on to the synthesis. I would say that each story/interview or write up by the various authors was dynamic. I felt that I was right there with the authors as they interviewed people or told their stories. There were so many issues in every interview or story that one could analyze the data through qualitative means and come up with many findings.

I liked reading the chapter titled "The Order of Things" and how the author, Pierre Bourdieu, interviewed the two young men who lived in the projects. As I was reading their conversations during this interview, I noticed many similarities of conversations that I have had with both adults and young people living in poverty or with vary little. It is amazing of how insightful they are to their problems and what goes around them, but all they do is talk about it. They are willing to talk about it to anyone who would listen, but it is just talk. They will most likely do nothing about the situation they are in. Most of what they talk about is the past and dreams of both the past and the future. For example, the two young men kept talking about getting jobs and for the interviewer, he was thinking, "Ok why don't you get jobs?" However, the two young men said all the jobs are two far, no one will hire me because I am Arab, I have no car, the bus doesn't go to such and such a place, etc. Everything these two young men said are true and not true.

I know at one point in their lives they tried at least once, but where rejected because of various factors. Therefore, they just gave up. The system in which they live in does not help them any. There is corruption all over the place. No one in the place they live can really survive to live outside that community. The system does not allow for it. The police just seem to give up on the problems and crimes that go on and if some one gets hurt, it is that persons fault whether or not it is. The system there has brought hopelessness in that community. Instead of people working together everyone keeps to themselves and they all let the problems pass they by.

It is sad, but true. Any attempt to make a better life for one's self goes up in smoke or is rejected. These young men know that there is a better life out there for them and they want it, but their community is holding them back from doing it. This is their home and in a sense of security no matter how bad, it is.

So what? That is the question that is now brought to the table. You might be saying that is a good story, but what does it have to do with me? I am glad you asked. If we as Jesus-Followers want to do any Kingdom building or create social transformation we need to hear more of these stories and then get involved in the lives of these people. You might say I do not want to go to France or God is not calling me to live overseas. Good, because right in our own backyard here in Los Angeles are broken communities that need to see the social gospel. When I say, see the social gospel I do not mean preaching the gospel in the form of evangelism. I am saying living out the gospel so that transformation can happen. When we live out the gospel, we are preaching the gospel.

I know I could go on but I won't unless I get at least ten people to comment telling me to go on. I have just given you a small taste of what our world is really like today. My question to you is what are you as a Jesus-follower going to do about it?

Monday, November 28, 2005

Heeeeeere's Blasco

Sorry I haven't posted on the book yet... I'll try to do that and comments soon, but I'm buried right now. I have, however, gone through the Wiki and fixed a bunch of formatting problems we were having. So I suppose that's something productive.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Ben's comments for week 9

To Wendy:

I guess no one else posted except for us so, I guess I will comment on yours. I liked your point of how:

We cannot expect to export our North American version of Protestant Christianity into any other culture without some kind of hybridization occurring. We must pray for the discernment to understand what concepts cannot be altered, what can, and what our culture can learn from the other.

However, I would point out that it is not really our choice what should or should not be altered. I know you were not saying that "we" as westerners are the ones to decide. I just that I would make that clear. We do have to be discerning and be careful that our attitudes, actions, from the western stand point do not influence those in their own country, society, group, etc to the ways of the West, but to take what we bring and be able to adapted it to their own culture. Like you gave the dress for the table cloth.

I am glad and please take no offense that we are all learning to be more culturally sensitive to the cultures around us. I think we as Californians have the greatest advantage because we live in a very diverse society. Well, those are my comments.

Update to Wiki & Podcast stuff

Hi folks,

I updated my portion of the wiki, adding a few hyperlinks.

Also, I am suggesting an eMo for us to use on our podcast. The one I like is on Rosa Parks (Seat on the bus, etc.) Takes about 4 minutes/

Please let me know what you think.

W.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Wendy's Comments 11-26-05

Well, Ben, it seems I am commenting on your post again. Must be because your schedule allows you to be the first poster during the week and mine allows me to be the second. You write:

The second thing that I found intriguing came from chapter three, which talked about how the high culture turned some things that were popular among the mass culture and made it “unpopular” (Storey 2003:45). An example that came from this chapter was opera and Shakespeare. What was once popular with the mass culture because it was more for entertainment soon became more of an appreciation for the art rather than for entertainment. Again, it was the high culture that controls how culture is done or what it should look like. They took what was popular and cool and transformed it to something that only intellectuals could enjoy and that was culture. Storey defines this period as the “modernism” (Storey 2003:32).


I've lived long enough to see some cyclicial trends in popular culture. Everything from colors (orange was popular in the late 60's and now is popular again) to lifestyles (hipsters were cool in the late 50's and early 60's).

Why even the lava lamp came back.

It is true that the cycles for some things are longer than others. For example, harvest gold has not come back for kitchen appliances yet. But to say that the recent popularity of opera and Shakespeare are a result of the rise of postmodernism may not be the entire story.

Having said this, I just did a postmodern re-mix of visual images and Psalm 104 for my Writings class which totally blows away the original concept of the Psalm. So I may be getting the hang of this postmodern stuff after all. :-)

W.

Wendy's Synthesis 11-26-05 week 9

In 1957 Freeman Tilden, an American naturalist, wrote,
"Any interpretation that does not somehow relate what is being displayed...to something within the personality or experience of the visitor will be sterile".
It is a basic concept, one of Tilden's Six Principles (similar to the 10 Commandments for Naturalists) that is taught to all Naturalist Interpreters.

How that works can be demonstrated by an example. To "interpretive" the concept of bright colors in flowers, you relate it to how teenage girls shop for prom dresses. Who are the girls trying to attract? Boys. Who are the flowers trying to attract? Insects. Why? hmmm...do I really need to spell it out for you?

How ironic to find Tilden's concept expressed in Story's book, Inventing Popular Culture. He writes:

Globalization is not simply the production of a homogenized American global village in which the particular is washed away by the universal. The process is much more contradictory and complex, involving the ebb and flow of both homogenizing and heterogenizing forces and the meeting and mingling of the "local" and "global". (page 112).

So see the similarity to Tilden concept, let's look at the same example. If you are an Indian multinational, trying to sell dresses in Los Angeles, you coule use the same colorful fabrics used in Saris. But you might modify the design - perhaps creating a peasant skirt. Or you might sell the Sari, but the customer would convert it into a tablecloth or a pillow wrap.

In both cases, the global (principles of angiosperm reproduction and Indian Saris) are adapted to the local (prom dresses and tablecloths). And the local (teenage behavior and peasant skirts) could affect the global (choice of teaching metaphor and choice of importing Sari or skirt).

So what does this have to do with Jesus followers and our Technology Wiki? Two things:

1. We cannot expect to export our North American version of Protestant Christianity into any other culture without some kind of hybridization occurring. We must pray for the discernment to understand what concepts cannot be altered, what can, and what our culture can learn from the other.

2. Technology is a tool for handling information and communications. It will be adapted to meet local needs or it will be sterile. And it works both ways.

For those of you who are visual learners, here are two flower photos for you to demonstrate how the local affects the global. Same flower species (Sacred Datura) - two subtle variations in color pattern and flower shape - two different locations. Local affects global.



Friday, November 25, 2005

Some people make it too easy...

It's not that I seek out Microsoft-related news to post around here, but they just make it too easy sometimes. This article recounts how they pressured the United Nations to remove language refering to open-source software from a technology-related report. Hooray for convicted monopolists!

Ben's Synthesis for week 9 on Inventing Popular Culture

Inventing Popular Culture by John Storey was an insightful book. There were a few things that I read that were intriguing to me. The first came from the first chapter, which talked about folk culture. Folk culture came about because American intellectuals too interest in the middle class person and wanted or “demanded” stories and songs from them (Storey 2003:1). Folk culture was more of the intellect and not really for the average person. This was interesting to me because the intellectual only wanted to study the average person and hear the stories and songs from them rather than from the elite or high-class societies. I was thinking what right do these people have to demand such things from the middle class. It seems to me that it is only those who have the power we do the controlling.

The second thing that I found intriguing came from chapter three, which talked about how the high culture turned some things that were popular among the mass culture and made it “unpopular” (Storey 2003:45). An example that came from this chapter was opera and Shakespeare. What was once popular with the mass culture because it was more for entertainment soon became more of an appreciation for the art rather than for entertainment. Again, it was the high culture that controls how culture is done or what it should look like. They took what was popular and cool and transformed it to something that only intellectuals could enjoy and that was culture. Storey defines this period as the “modernism” (Storey 2003:32).

The third thing that I found fascinating is the fifth chapter, which talked about the postmodern culture. It was if the masses, the common, average person was taking back their culture from the modernist and modifying culture. It was if the postmodern person was asking, “Why can’t I enjoy an opera for both art and for entertainment?” Because of this thinking, floods of material on “How to …” books were being written. It was if the information for appreciation and entertainment exploded. What was unpopular was made popular by the postmodern culture. It was giving back the freedom of the average person. It was taking the past and making it cool again.

Finally, the last thing that I found intriguing is the last chapter on the global cultural. Today our culture is all about the world as a whole. The internet, radio, TV, Film, music, magazines, newspapers, Podcasts, and blogs can connect us to the world. We are not as isolated as we where once before. We are forced to stretch our minds to think about what is happening around the world. Storey states:

There is a great temptation to think of the local as authentic and the global as an inauthentic imposition. I think we should be careful avoid romanticizing the local as the organic expression of a more “real” way of life. . . It is as if the local is an authentic folk culture and the global is a homogenizing mass culture. But it is always more complicated than this: the global is always part of the local; the local is what resists the global (Storey 2003:116-117).

Today we cannot separate the two and I can see how frustrated some are when they try too.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Timmy

Hey y'all. Ok, wow, what a weekend. I'm the biggest nerd alive. I spent 15 hours a GenCon in one day over the weekend! It's big "gaming" convention. That is definitely a culture in itself. It was a lot of fun though.

Ok, more on topic. Wendy I love the outline for the podcast. We're sitting down Tuesday after Thanksgiving to crank it out yeah? It needs to be somewhat "inspirational" I would think since anyone hearing it would need to be inspired to look up more information. This is in contrast to someone who reads the wiki and is on the web already. They have it easy when it comes to looking for more information. Also Wendy, do you mind helping me out a bit more on rewording my section? Your help so far has been great. Thanks!

As far as commenting on blogs, Scott and Ben I definitely resounded with what you each had to say. Ben your breakdown of the different influences of technology described in chapter 5 was very well done. Technology it seems has been influencing us for hundreds of years. You'd think that some day we'd stand up and take notice. I think it's similar to being "one track minded." Like when you hear something but you don't process it because your brain doesn't want to. I think that is what we are doing when it comes to the life of luxury we live in here in America, and the cost it imposes on others around the world. Anyways, that was my thought. Cya in the morning all!