Friday, November 30, 2007

A Little History... What Teens Want

Today I stumbled upon a brief talk I gave at an annual RZIM event in 2004. The audience was packed with professionals, where I shared about teen culture.

After this talk, a woman approached me, saying I need to write my ideas and message to teens. A few minutes later she connected me to a gentleman in that audience which led to Jonalyn and me signing on with our literary agent. This talk was the catalyst that made Living with Questions a reality. All because someone believed in me and started the dominoes which put my book now in the hands of teens.

So here's a little history I want to share with you.... And it's only 9 minutes long which is quicker than you can sip your latte. ;-)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Short Review of LWQ

Amy Sondova is editor of Youth Ministry Exchange.

After reflecting in her blog on the freebies given at the Atlanta National Youth Workers Convention, she gives an ever so brief review of my book that made my day:

Living with Questions by Dale Fincher (YS/Invert)–I love this book. It’s a new take on Christian “apologetics”, but it’s not lame. I think Fincher’s on to something here and I hope to read more stuff by him.
This made my day, not because she liked my book, but because she *got* what I was aiming at. One target was to be "not lame." Yes, cuting out the cheese factor was a must. But also this is a new way to do apologetics: personal, conversational, breaking down hard concepts into coffee able talk that are meaningful, imaginative, emotional and just makes sense. At least to me.

Amy, thanks for "getting it"!

As Christmas approaches, consider stuffing a stocking with Living with Questions and then engage in some after Christmas discussion on Him who sets us free.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

What is the Opposite of Love?

I recently finished Annie Dillard's, The Writing Life. She smooths out the lines between practical life and metaphor, between things and their meanings. I've read a good portion of Tinker Creek and Firm, but I need to read her more.

When we open ourselves up to others, whether present in person or present in print, we risk confrontation. Dillard caught me carelessly unguarded when she finished her chapter with an unexpected flare of words.

The impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.

I have a penetrating fear, deep down, that if I share some of my deeper passions and ideas, the things I have mistakenly tied up with my identity, things brewing in me for my next book project, that they will be taken or exploited. I have a fear that what is bubbling out of me will be stolen. It isn't irrational, because I've seen it before--in my life, in others'.

The love that Jesus poured out flowed all the way to the cross. His love allowed exploitation. He reached for people to give them sight, knowledge, the Way to the Father.

My fear keeps that love from flowing.

A friend at church raise a question the other day, "What is the opposite of love?" he asked. I don't think 'hate.' Hate is too passionate to be the opposite; the question required a less obvious answer.

"What do you think?" I responded.

"Fear," he said.

Then another friend, a retired public school teacher, said something to me as I left the church house. "If you want to get someone done, don't expect to take credit for it."

Do you think God whispers through community? You betcha. Drop your guard and he'll stare your fear in the face.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Evangelicals Fear the Loss of Their Teens

This NYT article still rings true a year later.

While I don't think the plight is as problematic as our statistically based alarmism shows, we are running on old models of what American teens want and need and how to reach them. They are exploring questions of truth and meaning, reading Nietzsche and Sartre, inoculated on music and video games, and they are not getting answers (nor are many of their youth workers equipped to offer them).

I believe more than ever, we need to start taking teen questions seriously. With a vacuum of literature that honesty address their questions on their level, we need to be sharing what IS available.

Evangelicals have limited our social justice issues to economic issues. We often overlook the soulish suffering and the preventative care that keeps kids of the street and engaged in healthy community. Legitimizing and helping them to live with questions is a place to start.

Monday, November 5, 2007

A healthier transition to college life

From the Christian Counseling Connection:

"Fuller Seminary has launched a three-year study to determine why so many college students are leaving the Church. It is estimated between 65% and 94% of high school students stop attending after they graduate. The struggles students were found to have when making the shift into college were related to friendships or lack thereof, being alone for the first time, and having a desire to find a faith. 'Whether it was with the youth group overall or with a specific adult leader, students who had the opportunity to struggle with tough questions and pain during high school seemed to have a healthier transition into college life,' states Kara Powell, Center for Youth and Family Ministry.

Youth groups are leaving out preparations to help students make a successful transition."

I wrote Living with Questions primarily with the student in mind, to help him or her not only find some peace with the questions that haunt them but also to equip them to be leaders as they become adults.

But youth leaders and workers need to have the vision to make the impact.

Living with Questions is available through Amazon or your local bookstore.

Friday, November 2, 2007

fledge | Faith: Sloppy Definitions

The latest edition of fledge is out. It's on the lost word "faith."

With this issue, we've created a new podcast as well--the first of its kind and I'm excited about it! Let me know what you think.

To listen, go here.

To read, go here.

To subscribe to fledge (issued bi-monthly), go here.

Some Christian Pastors Embrace Scientology

CNN published this story how some Christians are finding help with Scientology's practices.

Some Christian Pastors Embrace Scientology

Just like my post about the statues of St Joseph, modern man is growing more comfortable with having foreign gods in his house. The sheer incoherence about religion in the 'scientific' age is no surprise with the so-called death of God. "Simply enjoy your flavor of religion. I'll enjoy mine," so it goes.

Yet let's have some perspective on a slice of this. If Scientology has discovered some things that are true about the world, then does that make that truth false? If your enemy invented a better way to garden with the introduction of the shovel, does that mean you should shun all shovels?

The longstanding tradition of Natural Law is something friendly and even developed by Christianity centuries ago. The book of nature is a book laid open for all humans to read. It isn't as though the only truths we can find in the world are found in Holy Books. "The Bible may teach us to feed the poor," quipped C. S. Lewis, "but it doesn't teach us how to cook!" And the church father said it rightly when he noted, "Wherever truth is, it is the Lord's." And it is a good reminder for us to tread humbly.

The article isn't particular regarding which practices of Scientology are being taught. They could very well be a common-sense approach toward recovery. I don't know. What I do know is that it isn't automatically bad because Scientology wrote it down.

What troubles me is that these Christian pastors think they need to keep the Scientology label, pretending Scientology is the creator of those truths (if they are true afterall). This kind of labeling is the deception. And inviting people into the Scientology community (one that is no friend to Jesus and his Way) is irresponsible.

That is like inviting your enemy to be your roommate just because you bought his shovel.