Speaking for Peace and Less Violence

In a recent post I drew a connection between the prevalence of pornography and the abuse of women in sex trafficking.  Near the end, certainly influenced by all the talk of the massacre at Aurora, I threw in a comment that if we can draw a connection from guns to violence why can’t we draw one from pornography to forced prostitution (another sort of violence).

Then I read this article by Shane Claiborne.  I have been challenged by Claiborne’s writing in the past, as well as other Christian pacifists from John Howard Yoder to numerous other church theologians.

Claiborne writes:

There is something deeply troubling about our logic of redemptive violence.

Even though western evangelical Christianity has not been known for its consistent ethic of life (as it has often been more pro-birth than pro-life, opposing abortion but not always opposing death when it comes to capital punishment, gun violence, militarism, and poverty), Christianity throughout history has had a powerful critique of violence in all its ugly forms.

One of the patriarchs, Cyprian (African Bishop in the third century), critiqued the contradictory view of death so prevalent in our culture where we call killing evil in some instances and noble in others: “Murder, considered a crime when people commit it singly, is transformed into a virtue when they do it en masse.”

Contemporary thinkers like Renee Girard contend that this challenge to violence inherent to Christ-like Christianity is, at least in part because, at the center of the Christian faith is a victim of violence—as Jesus was brutally murdered on the cross.  And there is a triumph over death as rises from the dead, a final victory over violence and hatred and sin and all ugly things.

And yet, even in the face the evil that Jesus endured, he consistently challenged the myth of redemptive violence. He looked into the eyes of those killing him and called on God to forgive them. He loved his enemies and taught his disciples to do the same. He said things like, “You’ve heard it said ‘an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth’… but I want to say there is a better way,” and  “You’ve heard it said, ‘love your friends and hate your enemies’… but I tell you love those who hate you … do not repay evil with evil.’” He challenged the prevailing logic of his day, and of ours. He insisted that if we “pick up the sword we will die by the sword”—and we’ve learned that lesson all too well.

I grew up being taught, over and over again, that the most important thing I could do was believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sins.  The cross and resurrection, the key moments in Jesus’ life, were primarily things to believe.  Once we had filed Jesus away, confident we had the correct theology, we could once again trust in violence to solve our problems.    What if Jesus’ death is not just something to believe in but is also the primary way we ought to live?

Roger Olsen is another of my favorite theologians to read.  He asks why Christians, who are so quick to speak out about abortion and other issues, rarely speak out against gun violence:

My question is whether it is time for Christians to speak out openly from pulpits and pages (of Christian publications) about our obviously increasing gun culture and culture of violence. Is this a subject for sermons? I think it is.

One need not be a pacifist to abhore violence. Perhaps some violence is necessary, but surely not the kind of random, extreme violence depicted in movies and comic books (which many young men in their twenties are still “reading”). Why do I see Christians picketing abortion clinics and Planned Parenthood sex education events but not violent movies and gun “shows?”

In my opinion, this is one of those “frog in the boiling water” kind of social situations. We have simply gotten so used to the violence depicted in movies (and sometimes also on TV) and in comic books and everywhere (almost) that we are numb to it.

Would it be appropriate for a pastor to counsel a man (or women) who shows up to the church parking lot with a bumper sticker that proclaims “God, Guns and Guts?” I think so. Would it be appropriate for a church to encourage parents to go beyond the rating system of movies and video games and comic books (do the latter even have a rating system) and actively discourage allowing boys (rarely girls) from watching, reading and playing them? I think so.

Should Christian leaders speak out against the culture of violence and death that is so overtaking our everyday lives? I think so.

Would any of this decrease the incidence of extreme violence that we have witnessed in suburban Denver and other places? I don’t know, but it would at least raise Christian voices against the culture that, in my opinion, feeds it and enables it.

The blind acceptance of violence is a tremendous blind spot in the Christian community.  We are okay with violent movies, even with some drawing parallels between blood-soaked warriors in some films with Jesus, but we flip out over any sort of nudity.  We worry about pornography but are fine with violent video games.  I recall a professor of mine from seminary noting this is a distinctly American thing, in his native Belgium people were much more turned off by violence then by sex.

My hope is that all of us, including me, would take another look at Jesus hanging on the cross and ask what this means for how we ought to live our lives.  I believe it will push us more towards becoming the peacemakers that Jesus’ blessed in his sermon on the mount.

I struggle to see how we can truly speak out for peace and be silent on the prevalence of guns and violence in our nation.

If you are interested, Scot McKnight gave a flurry of links to articles talking about gun laws:

Gun Laws 

More on Gun Laws

Yet Another on Gun Laws

Yet More on Gun Laws

And here’s one from Nicholas Kristof: Safe from Fire, but Not Guns.

Young Adults Who Wander From Faith (You Lost Me 5)

In my last post on David Kinnaman’s book You Lost Me I talked about nomads, those young people who walk away from church involvement but who still consider themselves Christians.  There are two other groups Kinnaman looks at in the book: prodigals and exiles.

Prodigals are young adults who leave the faith of their childhood completely.  Some may call themselves atheists, others may call themselves simply “no religion” and others may convert to something else.  What they have in common is that they are no longer Christian.  This is different from the nomads who, though not involved in a faith community, still call themselves Christians.

Kinnaman further divides the prodigals into two groups.  First are “head-driven”, those who leave Christianity for intellectual reasons.  Second are “heart-driven” who leave for more emotional reasons: “These are young people whose faith burns out in an extreme fashion, usually as a result of deep wounds, frustration, or anger, or of their own desire to live life outside the bounds of the Christian faith” (Kinnaman, David (2011-04-01). You Lost Me (Kindle Locations 1041-1042). Baker Book Group. Kindle Edition).

Finally there are exiles.  Exiles may be, like nomads, physically disconnected from church involvement.  Or they may be involved, but feel an emotional disconnect to their church.  Either way, they still desire to honor God with their lives, to live as Christians.  Kinnaman says they are “lost, yet hopeful.”

Exiles tend to feel a disconnect between their church life and their life the rest of the week.  This causes dissonance because they desperately want a spiritual life that brings all of who they are every single day together.  They see less of a dualism between the church and the world.  Instead they see God is at work outside the walls of the church and they want to join God in that.  Thus, they want to use their gifts to serve God every day but they are not sure how.  Further, in wanting to use their gifts in this way they are sometimes questioned by other members of the church.

For example, a Christian who wants to make great films finds his faith questioned because such great films may have questionable language.  Why not make “Christian” films that promote family values, some ask.

Kinnaman says:

They are not disillusioned with tradition; they are frustrated with slick or shallow expressions of religion. In some of our research, we discovered a common theme to be “I want to be part of a Christian community that is more than a performance one day a week.” Similarly a frequently expressed sentiment was they “want a more traditional faith, rather than a hip version of Christianity.” Kinnaman, David (2011-04-01). You Lost Me (Kindle Locations 1226-1228). Baker Book Group. Kindle Edition.

The line from exile to nomad to prodigal is a short one.  While it appears the nomads number the greatest in the millennial generation, you can see tendencies that are similar in all three groups.  They clearly have a lot in common which is why it is easy to see Christian students on campus who are perhaps exiles and have friends who are nomads and prodigals.  They think similarly, watch the same movies, sit in class together.

The question to ponder is what this means for the future of Christianity in America?  Will these young people return to church?  Will they find community in some other way or form than traditional church?  Will they continue to slowly drift away?

Porn is Everywhere and it is a Gateway Drug

I absolutely cherish my 15 month old daughter Junia.  She has become my obsession.  As I play with her during the day or pray with her before bedtime I often find myself imagining what kind of person she will be when she is older.

Maybe she’ll be a teacher.  Or perhaps she’ll want to be an engineer.  She loves animals already, maybe she will become a vet.  Or is music going to be her passion?

I never look at her and think: I hope she poses in a porn magazine.

Martin Daubney was once the editor of Loaded, a British magazine that pushed the envelope of soft-core porn (much like Maxim).  Now this man who once defended pics of scantily clad women confesses he has changed his entire worldview You can read a brief excerpt from the article here or you can find the full article here though I do warn you it includes a few racy pictures)

Back then, it never once occurred to me that we were objectifying women or doing any harm. I fiercely denied that Loaded was a ‘gateway’ to harder pornographic magazines.

It was in my own interests to do so. If we were classified as ‘top shelf’, we’d have been put in opaque plastic bags like the pornographic magazines, which would have been commercial suicide.

But such thoughts came home to roost five years later in 2009, when I finally grew up and became a father.

It had such an effect on me and changed my views so forcibly that within a year I’d quit a dream job that, for me, had become a moral nightmare.

When I look back now, I see we were severely pushing the envelope of what was considered decent.

We were normalising soft porn, and in so doing we must have made it more acceptable for young men to dive into the murky waters of harder stuff on the internet. And, for that, I have a haunting sense of regret.

He goes on to speak out powerfully for the need to create ways to shield children from pornography:

Anybody who coerces a woman, or, worse, forces or threatens them to take part in porn should be jailed for many years.

Let’s be clear: you can’t ever ban pornography. Like tax and Tory U-turns, it is painfully unavoidable and lots of consenting adults consume it of their own free will. But we must tighten up the current laws to make it unavailable to children, as it can be so damaging.

It sells boys the debasing view of women as one-dimensional fakes: fake boobs, fake hair, fake nails, fake orgasms and fake hope.

How will these tainted children be able to interact with real women later in life if the first ones they ‘meet’ are on-screen mannequins? By allowing children free access to pornographic images, the next generation of young men are becoming so desensitised, I genuinely fear we’re storing up an emotional time-bomb.

Porn objectifies women, demeans and cheapens them, because it sells a fantasy where men are always in control and get what they want.

But real life isn’t like that. In porn, women cry, ‘yes, yes, yes!’ but in real life, they often say, ‘no’. Not all men have the intelligence or moral fortitude to understand they cannot take what they want.

Today, it’s never been easier to get your hands on porn of the most grotesquely graphic nature, yet absolutely nobody admits responsibility.

And most shocking of all is the total lack of moral accountability displayed by the internet pornographers when it comes to supplying their product to minors.

If, as a magazine editor, I strayed outside of the rules, I’d be taken off sale, fined and lose my job.

Likewise, if a newsagent sells an over-18s magazine to a minor, he can expect to lose his licence and be closed down.

Yet the internet pornographers laugh in the face of this, and the internet service providers (ISPs) wash their hands of the problem.

It’s like saying supplying a drug is ok so long as you don’t manufacture it. There’s no accountability, and it needs to be cleared up, fast. Isn’t it time the ISPs were held to task?

If found guilty of being the highway that gets porn to children, they should face massive fines and risk of closure.

The Mail has been campaigning for new rules forcing all internet users to opt in if they want access to pornography — and I couldn’t be more emphatic in my support. We also need to make sure that these controls apply to smartphones as well as computers.

Looking back, I think magazines like Loaded did give young men a ‘taste’ for soft porn that led to deeper and darker desires. But we operated in a bygone, almost innocent age compared to today, when internet pornography is being pumped out on an industrial scale — straight into the bedrooms of our children.

The internet and its morally redundant pornographers have changed all that. It is time our policy-makers cried ‘enough!’ and banged them to rights.

Two years after my exit, I can finally admit that I was part of the problem. By speaking out, in some tiny way I hope to be part of the solution.

Pornography is a horrible, disgusting evil.  Sadly, it is something that has touched the lives of pretty much every man I know, or at least the ones I’ve talked with it about.  Very few of us make it through our teen years free of porn (I didn’t).  It scares me to think how much more is available now then even when I was a teenager.

It scares me to think that my daughter will be growing up in a world where millions of boys are taught to objectify women.

Porn is not an isolated evil.  It is connected to the growth of sex trafficking in our world.  One thing we talk about often at meetings of Freedom and Restoration for Everyone Enslaved is that if men did not buy women, there would be no forced prostitution.  Yet along with that, men do not just wake up one day and decide to buy a woman.  Porn is a factor for it teaches men that women are objects to be used for his enjoyment.  Like any other addiction, eventually a stronger dose is needed and stronger doses are more and more available in the form of women and girls forced into prostitution.’

When gun violence of tremendous proportions happens we (rightly) question the role the availability of guns plays.  Why not question the role of the ubiquity of porn plays in violence against women?

We Are…More than Football

Today the NCAA delivered unprecedented sanctions against Penn State University’s football program.  I am sure most people already have an opinion on that and if you are interested you can find a myriad of articles on the sanctions.  My take has to do with the sanctions as they relate to the academic environment and the student activities at Penn State.

The implication in the sanctions is that Penn State University cares about football too much.  It almost seems like this is what Penn State is being punished for, since those who committed and covered up the crimes are either in jail or dead.  The one question that is not asked is that if all Penn State ever cared about was football, how come Penn State consistently has the highest graduation rates in the country for its football team?

Just this past year Penn State football was rated #1 in the Academic Bowl.  The article is from last December, so right after the scandal broke and before we had the information we have today, and one paragraph reads:

But the ironic news is that the team that topped the list is Penn State, whose football program, coached by the legendary Joe Paterno, was rocked by a sex-abuse scandal. According to the analysis, Penn State graduates 80% of its football players in six years or less and also shows no achievement gap between its black and white players, which NAF says is extremely rare for Division I football teams. (At LSU, by comparison, the team’s black players are 32% less likely to graduate than their white counterparts.) Winning the top honors in the academic bowl further proves the success of Paterno’s “grand experiment,” his idea that major-college athletes could contend for national championships while excelling in the classroom.

Clearly people in high levels at Penn State dropped the ball and made tremendous mistakes in judgment.  Yet they are all gone now.  Some of the sanctions are good, such as the fine that will put millions of dollars in a fund to help victims of abuse.  This is a good thing. The sanctions also include an “athletic integrity” monitor watching over the program.  Because having the top graduation rates is not good enough?

It almost seems like, with all those responsible in jail or dead, that Penn State is being punished for caring about football too much.  During the press conference, Mark Emmert, the head of the NCAA actually said, “If you find yourself in a place where the athletic culture is taking precedence over academic culture, then a variety of bad things can occur.”  If Penn State is guilty on this count, then based on being consistently among the top schools in graduation rates,  we might as well just not have college football altogether in this country.

Note too, Penn State can still have their games on television.  The NCAA is not going to stop profiting from TV money.  The NCAA cares about football enough to still make boatloads of profit.

The sanctions punish the wrong people was a statement I heard a lot today.  But usually the “wrong people” were current players and coaches who had nothing to do with the scandal (the NCAA always punishes the wrong people, look at the USC case, same thing).  When I think of the wrong people though, I think of people far beyond those in the football program.

I think of all the other sports whose budgets are paid for in large part by football revenue.  How will this affect hockey or swimming or lacrosse?  I also think of the students in Christian Student Fellowship.  We run a concession stand at every Penn State home game.  Over the course of the year, CSF makes about $5,000 which goes towards all sorts of ministry on campus.  Numerous other student groups also make a good chunk of money running concessions which they to use for their clubs’ purposes.  These sanctions may end up hurting campus ministries as well as other clubs on campus.

It makes me sad that so many children were hurt by a gruesome monster.

It also makes me sad that because of a few people, the university I know and love, for dozens of reasons other then football, has its reputation tarnished.

A friend of mine wrote the follow on Facebook but I could not find a reliable source for it.  But it does demonstrate that Penn State is much more than just a football school, so I post it without fact-checking every claim mostly because the list of notable alumni from Penn State is too long (more after the quote):

“Lately, I’ve seen many outraged users claiming that because of this scandal, they will boycott Penn State and anything associated with it. In light of this, I’ve compiled a handy list of things to steer clear of if you want to avoid any trace of Penn State:
-Don’t use Mac computers. The man who started the Macintosh project got his computer science degree at PSU.
-Don’t watch the Olympic Games if you hate Penn State – they have 16 athletes and coaches competing in London this year!
-Skip vaccinating against cervical cancer – the vaccine was developed with research by Penn State’s College of Medicine.
-No need to buy accurately-labeled foods because the legislation demanding safe, labeled foods was based on PSU’s research.
-If you have a heart attack, refuse a heart pump. It was invented at Penn State.
-Demand the removal of the world’s most accurate clock because Penn State physicists helped improve it. Sure the clock is integral to global communications, satellite navigation and surveying, and computerized financial transactions worldwide, but you hate Penn State, right?”

Here is a list of great alumni from Penn State.  On that list we see the first African-American in space Guion Bufod, the founder of Accuweather, lots of writers and screenwriters (for such movies as Casablanca, Anchorman and Die Hard), leaders of companies like Sheetz, Hershey Foods, Nike and many more…and the inventor of the Slinky.

Penn State always has been and always will be more than a football school.

Dispatch from the Middle of Nowhere

That title is actually false – I am no longer in the middle of nowhere.  But Emily, Junia, Skippy and I were privileged to spend the first four days this week practically in the middle of nowhere.  My aunt and uncle graciously allowed us to use their cabin for a retreat away from the world.  We were there from Monday afternoon till yesterday afternoon.

Junia and Her New Friend

There was no cell phone reception or internet connection.  There was a television with Dish Network (but we don’t have television at home, so this was a fun bonus).

It was wonderful.

We took our time cooking meals.

We played with Junia.

We went for hikes at nearby state parks (and then picked ticks of Skip).

We read books (I read this and this and started this).

We played dominoes and stratego.

We went to bed early, slept in (7 AM!) and took naps.

It was wonderful.

Now back to the grind and business of life.  But I feel refreshed for the rest of the summer and looking ahead to another year on campus with Christian Student Fellowship.

 

But Complaining About Pointless Stuff is Our Thing!

In my home county of Lancaster, PA an atheist has filed a complaint over a restaurant’s Sunday promotion.  The restaurant’s crime: in order to drum up business on Sundays they offered a discount coupon to anyone who presented a bulletin from a church.

Oh the horror!

John Wolff, who is an atheist, filed the complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission against Prudhomme’s Lost Cajun Kitchen in Columbia.

Wolff said the practice discriminates against him because he does not attend church.

“I did this not out of spite, but out of a feeling against the prevailing self-righteousness that stems from religion, particularly in Lancaster County,” said Wolff, a retired electrical engineer.

Sharon Prudhomme, one of the co-owners of the restaurant, said she is not discriminating because diners don’t have to actually attend a church or synagogue service to get a bulletin. She said area religious leaders told her that anyone can walk in a religious building and obtain a bulletin, without attending services.

Prudhomme added that she has no intention of changing the discount program, which she created to bring more traffic into her restaurant on a traditionally slow day.

“I think it’s a waste, to actually give it merit,” she said of the investigation of the complaint.

Christians have a reputation for complaining about every little thing in the world that does not go our way.  This reputation is deserved, in my opinion.  Usually when Christians complain or boycott the response is along the lines of:

If you don’t like what is on the television, change the channel.

If you don’t like who this company donates money to, just don’t buy their goods.

I think the message should be the same here: if you don’t like the coupon policy for this restaurant, eat somewhere else.

Young Adults Who Wander From Faith (You Lost Me 4)

As I mentioned in my previous post, I spent a week with Penn State Berks students, many of whom could be classified as “nomads.”  David Kinnaman defines the nomads in his book You Lost Me:

For these young adults, faith is nomadic, seasonal, or may appear to be an optional or peripheral part of life. At some point during their teen or young adult years, nomads disengage from attending church or significantly distance themselves from the Christian community. They demonstrate an up-and-down, hit-or-miss faith…[they] put their faith on the shelf for a time. Most, however, do not discard it entirely (Kinnaman, David (2011-04-01). You Lost Me (Kindle Locations 946-949). Baker Book Group. Kindle Edition).

Kinnaman gives some celebrity examples of nomads, primarily Katy Perry and Stephen Colbert.  So if you are a nomad, you’re in good company!

He goes on to list some traits of nomads:

*They still call themselves Christian though they are not part of any faith community now.

*They believe being part of a faith community is optional.

*The importance of faith has faded

*They have no hostility or anger towards faith

*Many experiment spiritually, finding meaning and spiritual experiences in a variety of places.

Kinnaman’s description reminds me of how I think differently about involvement in Christian Student Fellowship then the students who are involved do.  I can recall times when certain students in CSF, who are fantastic people and passionate Christians, have gotten frustrated with other members of CSF.  Their frustration stems from seeing these other members of CSF as not serious enough in their faith.

From my perspective, the fact that anyone on campus joins a group like CSF is a win.  With all the other opportunities on campus, with all the freedom that comes with being in college, I am often amazed that students choose to come to a Bible study every week.  It is incredibly encouraging.

Of course, I want all students to grow in their faith!  But with so many young people not interested at faith in all, I am happy when anyone shows a glimmer of interest.  As I read what Kinnaman said about Nomads, I was honestly surprised there are not more of them (he estimates about 2/5 of emerging adults are nomads).  I meet nomads on campus all the time.  I see it almost as the default.

Is it an ideal situation?  No.  We can wish, hope and pray that more nomads get involved in Christian communities while at college.

But it is not the worst possible situation either.  I take comfort and hope in that many of these nomads are still interested in truth and spirituality and Jesus and I am confident that eventually, someday, if they are sincere in their search they will find the truth.

What is more interesting is the question: will nomads return to church later on, as previous generations have?

Kinnaman writes:

Research from the Gallup organization that stretches back to the 1930s and ’40s shows that young adults first began to look much different religiously from their parents during the 1960s. The data suggest that, prior to then, reported church attendance levels were very similar across age groups. In other words, during pre-1960s years, twenty-five-year-olds were just as likely to report weekly church attendance as were sixty-five-year-olds. In the 1960s, however, the trends diverged and young adults began to show significant disengagement compared to older adults—a trend that has continued to this day. The implication is that the dynamic of church disengagement during young adulthood was crafted by the Baby Boomers. Now their kids and their children’s kids are taking a similarly circuitous route through faith and young adulthood (Kinnaman, David (2011-04-01). You Lost Me (Kindle Locations 673-679). Baker Book Group. Kindle Edition).

And:

Beginning with the Boomers, a period of nomadism in young adulthood became a normative experience for twentysomethings; yet the new social and spiritual reality in which Mosaics live makes it less likely that they will follow their predecessors back to church in the same numbers or in the same ways (Kinnaman, David (2011-04-01). You Lost Me (Kindle Locations 1117-1119). Baker Book Group. Kindle Edition).

In other words, previous generations of churches could safely assume that after a time of wandering young people would return to church.  They would get married, have kids and settle down and then seek out the faith of their youth in the context of Christian community.  But to assume this will always be the case is to miss the uniqueness of the situation in which this current generation is growing up.

Will young adults return to church?

Perhaps the better question is, what will churches do to reach out to young adults not interested in returning?

Reflections on a Memorable Week

I spent most of last week dressed as Noah: tunic, cloak, itchy wig and a staff.  The staff was perhaps confusing, some people saw me and thought I was Moses or just a crazy lost shepherd.

The reason I dressed like this was that I had the privilege to join eleven Penn State Berks students and one professor on a trip to the  northern Pennsylvania town of Nanticoke where we did a day camp for kids in the area.  This day camp is called Camp Noah, a project of Lutheran Social Services which has been done all over the country in recent years.  Camp Noah happens in places that have recently experienced a natural disaster.  The goal is to help children: to help them have fun, express themselves and emotionally process their experience.

A professor at Penn State Berks, Dr. Jayne Leh, had been a part of Camp Noah through her church for years.  She realized it would be a perfect project for education majors, giving them an opportunity to teach outside the classroom.  Most of the students on the trip were either education or psychology majors.

The way I look at it, we had a team of ringers: a bunch of college students with the energy to keep up with the crazy elementary students in the camp all week long.  They were a fantastic group and did a phenomenal job.

They also made the news:

Camp Helps Children Deal with Flooding Issues

Camp Guides Children Through Hardships

 

But they did get tired.  On Wednesday Jayne and I decided to have a worship service as a way of unwinding and re-centering on God.  Going into the week I had no idea on the beliefs or religions of the students in this group.  As far as I knew, they had been told it was a Christian-based camp, but they were going because they wanted to help children (and perhaps get something nice on their resume).

By midweek I had learned that most of them had grown up in Christian churches.  In the description of David Kinnaman, you might say they are nomads: Christians who believe but for whatever reason are not active in church, they have drifted away.  Not all of them fit that description- some are active in church and some would not call themselves Christians.  But most could be called nomads.

For me it was an interesting experience leading a worship service with a group of students I was not entirely sure were at all into this sort of thing.  I talked about how the primary reason I am a Christian is that I find Jesus so compelling.  Christianity redefines who God is because the clearest picture of the Christian God is Jesus dying on a cross.  We have a God who suffers with us, who can identify with us in our weakness.  Along with that, Jesus spent his entire ministry welcoming the outsiders, those who had been told they were not good enough.

As I explained the Lord’s Supper my point was simple: Jesus offers himself, his body and blood in the form of bread and wine, his love and grace, to any and all who come.  You do not need to have your life together, to have all the right beliefs or actions, prior to partaking.

After the worship service on Wednesday we made it through two more days of camp and then headed home.  I had a blast with the kids and with the PSU students.  It is weeks like these that remind me why I went into full-time campus ministry in the first place – college students are people who are a joy to be around.  Each of them remains in my prayers.  I pray they have a desire to pursue truth.  I pray they fall in love with the Jesus who I find so absolutely compelling.

Finally, the kids asked me a lot of questions as Noah.  This is another reason why I like working with college students.  You can sit down with college students and have a discussion about a tough question in regards to God or the Bible.  Within this discussion there is space for lots of abstract thinking, throwing out ideas and chatting back and forth.  When a kid asks you a question they want a quick  black and white answer.  I found it incredibly challenging.

I guess getting all these questions from children was good practice for what will happen when my child starts asking constant questions pretty soon!