Monday, December 1, 2008

NYWC - The rest of it...

So yeah - I got so bogged down in actually attending the NYWC that I didn't have time to continue blogging about it. And since we left on Tuesday, I have rarely had internet access (we don't have it at the house) until now. Which is good - because a week's worth of perspective has allowed me to weed out all but the high points which included these:

- Robert Terrell asked what how I'd grade Shane Claiborne, Andrew Marin, and Tony Campolo on the "Bell Curve". I'd give Shane Claiborne a 50%, Andrew Marin a 60%, and Campolo a solid 75%.

- Mike Pilavachi was also a General Session speaker. He's funny and British, and talked about how Jesus did youth ministry. He retold the narrative of The Feeding of the Five Thousand, to emphasize how Jesus made room for his disciples to make mistakes as a way of teaching them. Freedom to fail breeds greater success, he said. For example - on one occasion, Jesus sent out the disciples for a little field work and they came back all bruised up. They remarked about how they tried to cast out some demons, but they just weren't able to. Jesus gently reminded them that "This kind only comes out by prayer and fasting...". And you can bet that the next time he sent them into the field, they remembered that part about the prayer and fasting. Pretty good stuff. All in all an interesting talk, but I suspect that Pilavachi wouldn't be so funny if he didn't have a British accent.
On the Bell Curve, Pilavachi gets a 65%.

- NYWC always has a massive convention hall, with booths set up for everything from coffee fundraisers (about 15), to youth camps (about 30), to t-shirt design and printing companies (about 100). And everybody's giving something away. Usually a some big prize like an iPod, or a Wii, or an AmEx gift card, or free tuition to their camp, that you have to sign up and give your information for. They also usually have a smaller little trinket that they're giving away, like an ugly T-shirt, a frisbee, a CD or DVD, free coffee samples, or more importantly - candy. I always enjoy walking through the hall to check out the different booths, but in general they are mostly useless to me. This year, however, the very last booth in the hall was the best I've ever seen. It was the Zondervan Publishing booth. Zondervan is actually the parent company of Youth Specialties, and the publisher of Jesus Wants To Save Christians, The Bible in 90 Days, NOOMA videos, and the new NIV Thinline pocket-sized Bible I got for 50% off. At their booth was one of the all-time coolest things I've ever seen.

Next fall, they are publishing a hand-written NIV version of the Bible. In order to accomplish this, they are doing a campaign called "Bible Across America" (which actually sounds far more lame than the actual campaign). They are taking an RV to 90 U.S. cities and allowing people to contribute a verse in their own handwriting, and publishing the results. At the Zondervan booth where we stopped, there were three light-boxes with big folio-sized pages on them. Each box had 2 pages on it. When you walk up, they hand you a card with the next verse on it, in order, and when it's your turn, you walk up and write your verse right where the last person left off. You write it twice, once on each page, just in case. This method will produce two folio-sized copies, each of which amount to a version of the entire Bible. One copy will be auctioned off for charity, the other will be housed in the Smithsonian. Abby and I contributed consecutive verses - 1 Kings 6:30 for me, and 31 for her. To tell the truth, even though it was only a single verse, it was a little bit of a nerve-wracking experience for me. I mean, this is something you want to get
exactly right, isn't it? Never again will I talk trash about scribal or copyist errors in translation. The guy at the lightbox next to me was translating from Samuel or Chronicles or something, and he had a verse with "LORD" in it. They made sure to tell him to write it in all caps. What they DIDN'T tell him was that after he did that, he's supposed to burn the pen, go down to the river, bathe himself, and change his clothes before he could do anything else. Regardless, a very cool experience, and I can't wait for the finished product. Of course 31,173 people are guaranteed to buy it, and I'm looking forward to checking out mine and Abz' contributions.

- The other most exciting booth for us was the Compassion International booth.
Abby and I adopted a boy named Mutinda Muteti Derick from Kenya. He has the same birthday as me, 24 years later. He lives with his father, stepmother and 3 other children. He likes soccer and playing with cars. He gathers firewood and cares for animals at home. He is an average student. He lives in an area of the world that is at high risk for HIV/AIDS.

- Near the end of the weekend, we attended 2 breakout sessions in a row by the same presenter, Crystal Kirgiss. I had never heard of her before, but we were instantly impressed and a little bit infatuated with her. She's brilliant. The 2 seminars she presented were,
From Youth Room to Dorm Room, about preparing students for college, and Hooking Up, Breaking Up, Making up, The Perils of Teen Sex and Dating. The former was really useful in helping me sort out the kinds of things I need to include in the curriculum for High School kids, so that they'll be prepared when they leave our ministry, and not come back later to tell me how I let them down, or lied to them, lol. In the latter, she articulated a "no exclusive dating" philosophy that really resonated with us. I know - I'm as surprised as you are. She referred to the process of modern "dating" as "Premarital Marriage". HA! I love that. And she referred to breaking up as "Premarital Divorce". Basically - marriage practice and divorce practice. Ouch. Being guilty on both counts, it's no wonder that her solutions seemed ultimately profound to me. My church is going to kill me or fire me, but I think I'm going to personally advocate just such a philosophy from here on out, and try to instill it in my own children *twinkle*.
On the Bell Curve - Crystal gets a whopping 95%!
She and Francis Chan are the BIG take-aways from this year's convention.

- One of the General Sessions we didn't make it to featured Francis Collins, National Director of the Human Genome Project. We bought the DVD, and I'm excited to hear what he had to say to a room full of preacher-boys.

- I have photos of the artwork from the other General Sessions, which I thought were pretty cool, and will post them when I get my camera back from the wife.

- Last Monday, after the last General Session was over, we walked down a few blocks from the Convention Center to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. We had lunch at a little cafe there that served the best meatloaf, grilled veggies and sweet tea I think I've ever had. We took the tour, which was supremely cool, and walked through the actual Hall... of fame. Then we bought souvenir T-shirts in the gift shop. Abby got this one in black:

And I got a cool grunge-looking shirt in black that says "Johnny Cash" on it. We were really tempted to get the Willie Nelson for President shirts that were on clearance.

- We got up on Tuesday morning and drove 16 hours straight back to Houston, picked up both dogs, plus one more, and felt normal but exhausted.

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