Archive for the ‘culture’ Category


Kids First! Top 100 Kids Films

June 26, 2008

As I was reading my Kidscreen eNewsletter, they pointed to a list of Top 100 Kids’ Films compiled by Kids First! These are just feature films and were voted on by a group of jurors who have undergone training in the standards set forth by Kids First! It is a site put on by the Coalition for Quality Children’s Media whose mission is to is “to teach children critical viewing skills and to increase the visibility and availability of quality children’s media.”

Thought it might be helpful to see what’s on the list for those of us who work with kids.


Top 15 Kids’ Picture Books this past week

June 26, 2008

Kidscreen posted the top 15 picture books this past week as compiled by Pulisher’s Weekly. I was pleased (yet not surprised because of all the graduations going on) that Dr. SuessOh, the Places You’ll Go! topped the list.

It was also fun to see a Fancy Nancy book on the list. My wife and I love Fancy Nancy… one lives at our house. We have, yet, to buy one of the books though. Also on the list was a book by Jon Scieszka. He is the author of some of my favourite picture books: The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid TalesMath Curse, and True Story Of The Three Little Pigs. Jon Scieszka also has a fun website dedicated to getting boys reading called Guys Read.

There are a lot of books on that list I haven’t heard of. Well, I guess it’s time for me to go visit the kids’ section at Chapters!


Oh Please!! Dr. Dobson Reacts to a Speech by Barack Obama

June 25, 2008

I was just reading Scot McKnight’s blog and he had a post about a Focus on the Family episode where Dr. Dobson was commenting on a speech by Barack Obama where Dobson’s name was used.

Now, I don’t agree with everything that Obama supports, and I don’t even know how I am going to vote in the Presidential election (yes, I still get to vote even though I don’t live in the States… I’m still a US citizen). In listening to the Focus on the Family broadcast, though, I was taken aback at how Dobson and his co-host chose to interpret what Obama was saying. Their claims did not match up with what Obama was saying in the clips they played. Many times Dobson said that he wasn’t trying to be defensive, but that’s exactly what he was doing. I don’t even understand why Dobson was so offended by Obama’s mention of Dobson in a speech that happened two years ago! Obama was slamming him in any way or equating him in any way with anyone or anything as Dobson was claiming. Obama, in actuality, was giving tribute to the influence that Dobson has on a certain view of evangelical Christianity. Also, Dobson took other comments way out of context and seemed to be very paranoid in how they viewed what Obama was saying. What I gathered from the clips in the speech was that Obama was simply saying that Christians can’t just influence the political process by pointing to themselves and the Bible and saying they are right and everyone else is wrong. Even Evangelicals disagree on what is essential and what is non-essential. Plus, there are more than just Christians that live in the States and we have to meet those people on some common ground before imposing a set of values on them simply on the basis on having a sense of a greater revealed truth.

Dobson’s reaction to Obama’s speech, in my opinion, is doing a disservice to followers of Christ. He has done exactly what he accuses “the media” of doing to him: pulling sound bites out of context and misinterpreting them. We need to stop being a paranoid people. We need to stop being afraid of what is being said and the questions that are being asked. We need to engage the conversations around us intelligently and in a way that encourages dialogue. We need to stop insisting that we are right and admit that sometimes we are wrong and narrow minded. It’s not about being right. It’s about meeting people where they are and pointing them to a more full life following Christ. It’s hard to do that when we are whining about how right we are.

NOTE: I just finished reading Obama’s speech that is talked about in the broadcast. While I may not agree with all of what Obama was saying, I do think that Dobson misrepresents the spirit of the speech. I do think, though, that much of what Obama brought up about reconciling religion and politics is well worth thinking over and valid. If only more people would be so willing to put their views under scrutiny and be as authentic as he seems to be.


Top Toy Trends according to Toys R Us

May 27, 2008

Kidscreen has an article on the top four toy trends that Toys R Us thinks will dominate this summer.

  • Backyard Bands: merchandise relating to the Naked Brothers Band and Jonas Brothers as well as games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band
  • Nature First: environmentally themed toys/products
  • Get Your Move On: products that promote physical fitness, namely the Wii Fit (I got one and it is cool!)
  • Techno-cation: electronic educational toys like the Leap Frog toys

So, it looks like the theme for the summer is interactivity and the environment. It just goes to show that kids are wanting to be more involved in what they do rather than just watching. I plan on taking advantage of some of these trends like making sure I watch Camp Rock starring the Jonas Brothers as well as making sure that we are giving kids opportunities to move around and play quite a bit while learning. Day Camps, VBS and summer camps can really benefit from these toy trends.


A Racy Hannah Montanna?

April 29, 2008

Unless you’ve had your head in the sand in children’s ministry, you know that Miley Cyrus (a.k.a. Hannah Montanna) is the hottest person out there in kid culture especially in that 8-14 year-old demographic of girls. Hey, my six-year old girl even knows Hannah and can sing the songs to boot.

Well, recently some edgy pictures of Miley Cyrus are slated to appear in an upcoming issue of Vanity Fair, and pictures have been circulating the internet. The “picture” is of Miley with just a bedsheet covering her front and showing some of her bare back with stylish-bedhead looking hair. There are also some other pictures of Miley and her friends that have been deemed “inappropriate.”

Here is a link to a Toronto Globe and Mail article about it.

I saw the pictures on the morning shows yesterday. I don’t really know what to think about them. I think that Miley, at 15 years old, is a bit young to be taking edgy pictures like that. As for the other photos, I think they are just a record of teenage stupidity that should’ve never been put on MySpace. The story of the Vanity Fair pictures was that Miley felt some pressure to have the pictures taken by the renown Annie Leibovitz. Whatever the reason for the pictures, Disney and Miley have already issued apologies about the pictures. With the recent nude pictures of Vanessa Hudgens of High School Musical fame, I’m sure parents are wondering about positive female role models for their children.

What do you think about all of this? How should we talk to our own kids as well as equipping parents in our ministry of how to talk to their kids when they see these pictures on TV or hear about them? My aforementioned 6-year-old daughter was in the room when the Vanity Fair pictures came up, and we asked her what she thought of the pictures. She didn’t think girls should dress like that. For now, I think that was enough. As she gets older, though, I know I will have to enter conversations about the line between what is art and what is profane.

On a side note, the Globe and Mail article is also interesting because of the viewpoint of the Culture Wars in America from someone outside of the US.



April 18, 2008

I love reconnecting with old friends. Next week, I get to reconnect with old friends and new ones. I’m headed to the Conspire Conference at Willow Creek in Chicago. I love going to conferences, but not necessarily to learn new things. Oh yes, I do learn new things and get fresh perspective on things, but I love the connecting and networking. When I first started going to children’s ministry conferences it was a great time to meet new people and make new connections. More and more now, though, I’m finding that going to conferences is about reconnecting with friends that I’ve made and meeting, in person, new friends that I’ve connected with online.

This year, I get to reconnect with a friend of mine who I haven’t seen in almost three years. We had worked as CPs in Oregon in the same district doing camps and such together. I miss that time in Oregon. It’ll be neat to meet up again now that we are nearly at two opposite ends of the continent: me in Canada and him in Florida.

I also get to meet up with some newer friends from my current district of the CMA in Canada. It’s been neat meeting CPs here and connecting with them. It’s taken longer to do so because of how isolated Thunder Bay is from the rest of the world.

There are also a couple of other people whom I hope to connect with that I’ve met via blogs and email.

Networking, connecting, meeting other people (especially those in CM) is what I love to do. Part of it is because of me loving to be around people and meeting new people. The other part of it is because it is nice to have people who can understand what you do and why you do it. No one else understands CM leadership like other CM leaders. It is nice to have those people around you who you can turn to when things get discouraging or difficult. It’s also nice to have those people around you who you can call, IM or email when you encounter successes. I think, too many times, those of us in leadership isolate ourselves. Some of us, it is because you are more introverted. Some of us, it is because we get really busy. Some of us, it is because we are geographically isolated. Whatever the reason, we do need other leaders/peers we can lean on… specifically other CM leaders. A large part of the reason why I can continue pursuing this call on my life is because I have people with the same call on their life who I can turn to who understand the specifics of CM leadership. It has also been a privilege to be there for those other CM leaders who need an ear.

At some level, I think all of us yearn for some sort of community. I think, though, that it goes a little further than that… at least for me. It’s not that I just yearn for COMMUNITY, I yearn for communities. There are different types of community out there that I need at different times. Just as important as it is for us to realize that we are not an island unto oursleves, I think it is important for us to realize that no one community group can meet all of our needs. We need to be able to navigate through different types of community groups and receive different things from each group. Yes, we have a core community group that we spend most of our time with, but I think we become better people and more emotionally healthy and aware when we can be a part of multiple communities at different times.


Boys and Dolls

March 24, 2008

The New York Times had this article about a growing toy phenomenon with boys. It’s not a new action figure or even a new video game. It’s a doll! They are called Ugly Dolls and seem to be a hit with boys. It was interesting to read the article and a couple of psychologists’ views of why the dolls are so popular with the male gender.