Sunday, April 20

Here are some things that I have read recently that will you give something to think about as you ponder the world you live in and the room people make for God in their lives.

A week or so ago I posted a link to a video produced by some Kansas State students that demonstrated how college students live and work today - and how different it is than when I was in college. (Of course, you need to realize that where I was an undergrad was a little different than many schools - no hair on your ears, no phone or TV in your dorm room, in the dorm by 8:30 and lights out by 11:00 on week nights, etc.) You can find that link in one of the posts below.

Here are three articles that talk about spirituality and religious life among today's college students.

The first is from the Pew Forum and is an interview with a professor from UCLA. They did a six year study that tracked the religious and political views of college students. The study demonstrates how those who participated changed in their perspectives from their freshmen to their junior years of college. The main points are that students tend to see the world in more relative and less absolute terms as they move through college (which makes sense since those on a most campuses that aren't Christian affiliated are immersed in a relative culture) and that they tend to become more stressed as juniors than they were as freshmen. That can be due to the increased academic and social pressures on them, or to the drift from their spiritual moorings, or from the fact that many freshmen are pretty clueless and too naive to be too stressed! It is an interesting article.

The second is a piece from USA Today that asserts that religious and spiritual dialogue is still alive and welcome on the university campus, but that the nature of that dialogue has changed. Christians need to speak (and not just speak, but act) to the areas that have interest to this generation of students at large. The good news is that many of the areas of interest for today's young adults are very Biblical issues - concern for the poor and oppressed, justice issues, etc. These are things that much of the Church has neglected for too long but are issues that are close to the heart of God. We need to find ways to work with others - even those who are outside the realm of Christianity - to address issues such as these. In doing so, we can better demonstrate the true nature and values of God and build bridges for dialogue with others. Along this line, I am working with one of our former students to find ways to bring attention to the problem of human trafficking in the world. According the the US Department of Justice (2004):

  • 600,000-800,000 people are trafficked across international borders each year. Of this number, 70% are women and 50% are children. The majority are forced into the commercial sex trade.
  • Every years 15,000-18,000 foreign nationals are trafficked into the US. The number of US citizens caught in this is even higher, with an estimated 200,000 children in the US at risk of being trafficked into the sex industry.

"The righteous care about injustice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern." Proverbs 29:7

The third article is from the New York Times Magazine and talks about the rise of "abstinence clubs" on university campuses. These clubs are not necessarily religious in nature, but committed to sexual abstinence.

Another cultural insight - read this column by Albert Mohler on the move of some "upscale" hotels to remove the Gideon Bibles from their rooms and replace it with a "intimacy kits".

One last thing. I like gadgets and my latest purchase was a Palm Centro. I have used Palm devices for several years now and when my last one began malfunctioning, it was a good excuse for me to get a new one that also is a phone. Now I can just carry one thing and not two. I've been very happy with the Centro because I have almost everything (and I do mean almost everything - names, addresses, phone numbers, four Bible versions, prayer lists, music, books, New York Times, Washington Post, and USA Today, digital camera, email, internet access, Sudoku, and more) all on one little device. But I was also able to figure out over the weekend how to post to this blog from my phone. That means that I should be able to post more regularly since I won't need a computer to do so. Sweet! In fact, the short post just before this one came from my phone. Now some you may prefer posts from my phone since they will probably be shorter ...

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