Monday, October 30, 2006

Cap'n Dave's Fun Time

It's time for another session of ramblings, links and fun stuff to make your day go by faster...

Holy crap...
Reese and Ryan are splitting? This makes me sad. She's so hot. He's... well, he's not, but still...


I'm starting to think about my "Top 100 Coolest Things of 2006" list already... this is important to think about. You may remember my 2005 list, but since life has gotten even better this year (and a little better every day that I'm married to Stephanie), I figured I should start thinking about it now.

Some of the entries you can expect to see on the list?
Kid Sister, Heroes, X3, the iPod, John Cena and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip... please, please NBC, don't cancel it.

Oh yeah... and

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Where will Pickles rank on the Coolest 100 Things of 2006? Stay Tuned.


Vh1 is listing their 100 Greatest Songs of the 80s... which is on right now. I haven't really seen the list, but I gotta say, some stuff that should make the list:
"Only in My Dreams" by Debbie Gibson
"Roam" by B-52s
"Kiss" by Prince
"Say Say Say" by Michael Jackson & Paul McCartney
and of coure, "Head Over Heels " by Tears for Fears, my #5 favorite song of all time.


Before My Girl McPhee, before Kate Winslet, before Izzie... there was Ashley Judd, my first celebrity girlfriend... luvs me some Ashley Judd, I'd watch her in anything (and have... have you ever seen Eye of the Beholder? Yeesh...)

Anyway, its good to see she has another movie coming out, one that actually might be worth its admission. (and for those of you saying "Dave! You're married to Stephanie!", you're right... but Steph feels the same way about Colin Firth. So its a trade off)


Speaking of Izzie, who loves Grey's Anatomy? We do. We've suddenly become obsessed with it... we rented the first dvd, we borrowed the second one (and are working our way through it). Stephanie loves George, but her favorite is Dr. Bailey. Though I'm hot for Izzie, I've always liked Sandra Oh... she just seems like someone that would be fun to hang out with.

And I can't be the only one who doesn't think that Meredith Grey is all the good looking...

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
From "My Father the Hero" cuteness to "Grey's Anatomy" hotness...


And speaking of my lively wife Stephanie, she's laughing hysterically in another room at this movie... which I think is funny in itself.

By the way, does anyone else have a wife that comes in and sits in your lap right at the end of a two hour show? John Cena is taking on Coachman, with King Booker and the Big Show in the corner, and I missed most of it. There are worse things, I guess.


Here's a fun movie game... I could only get 14 out of 20, and I thought I was pretty good at it.


This is an interesting little video on YouTube... its a Dove Commercial that shows you just how fake some advertisements really are. When they stretch the neck, that's freaky.


What a great little article on it asks the question "What is the movie everyone loved but you?" You know, those flicks that everyone in the world tells you is fabulous, and you almost feel silly not liking it... listed on this is "Notting Hill" and "Titanic", which I actually loved both, but the movie I can think of that everyone loves but me... is "Meet the Parents". I wanted to laugh more. I never saw "Meet the Fockers"... I don't think I could take it.


Have you heard Leigh Nash's new album, "Blue on Blue"? She's the former lead singer of Sixpence None the Richer, with a very distinct, melodic voice. And the album is pretty good.

Computer is running full strength now... don't forget, we've got an election next week. And I'll hopefully have lots to say, if my buddy Jaci and my wife Stephanie don't guilt me into being quiet.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

How To Be An Effective Leader (and other things I didn't learn in kindergarten)

For the record, I'm still at the Hoover Public Library. And I think the last time I was here, I heard Soul For Real's "Candy Rain", just like I'm hearing now. 4,397 songs on the iPod, and that one comes up twice... amazing. "Always Be My Baby" by Mariah is next, though.

The computer works now, the transplant was successful. Our friend Brad Mac came over, did the surgery, and now the computer is in physical therapy... which means, we have to get a new network card. So, I have a computer, I just don't have a network card that functions as well as... well, at all. No 'net... but that's okay. I watched four episodes of "Jericho" yesterday on videotape, and it rocked.

We put in a new hard drive, worth about 120 gigs, and all my iPod music is on it now. So, I can fill my iPod up to the full 60 gigs, instead of keeping it around 20, because my hard drive was only 40. Gettin' all this? Anyway, the downside is, not being able to connect to the net, I can't update my iPod because I had to re-install iTunes, then move over all my music to iTunes again, to which the iPod now thinks its a different computer, so I have to "authorize" the computer so I can make the changes and updates, but I can't because I can't get on the internet and... well, you get the picture.

Had a meeting with our manager at the Bucks today. It was a little disheartening, so I thought I would just open up here and ramble a bit, knowing there is a chance that someone from the store might actually read this. I'll take that chance.

Apparently, there are three things that are hurting my ability to be an effective assistant manager at Starbucks:
1) Few people at the store know me. I mean, they know who I am, but they don't know me.
2) Communicating effectively to the team at the store
2) Building relationships with the team. For whatever reason, these three things are becoming the hardest obsticles I've ever had to jump, possibly because I've never had trouble doing it anywhere else.

I would like to think that I'm respected and have some sort of influence at church, and I'd also like to think that I have that same respect and influence with my circle of friends and loved ones. Just not at work. Perhaps I'm not connecting the two very well, and its time to let one bleed to the other.

One thing I've pinpointed is that this is the first time I've ever been in a position where I've had people under me. I mean, I've been a shift supervisor for probably, I don't know, three years prior to being an assistant manager, so I had to lead, but this is the first time I've ever directly had the power to call the important shots and do what is necessary to get the job done without a host of people to answer to--right now, there is only one or two to answer to.

(the fact that KT Tunstall's "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" just came on the iPod shuffle makes my day just a little better... couple that with an encouraging email from K-Swiss, and life isnt bad at all)

Also, I'm a task oriented person. I struggle with delegating things to people, because simply, I have a way I want things done, and usually its quicker for me to just do it the way I want it done then to teach someone the way I want it done. Yeah, that's really a good trait to have. =) I gotta work on that.

Another thing is, the team doesn't really know me that well. Part of that is my fault, I'm guessing... I don't really go around announcing facts about me like being from Samson, Alabama, or that I was at the Olympic bombing of 1996, or that I have four older sisters, but then again, I don't really ask other people stuff like that either. Something else to make a mental note on.

My team at the store are some great people. I've proven that I can do the job and do it effectively... now I've got to prove to be a leader--or at least, prove to them I can do it. Other people in other parts of my life know I can lead. Or I think they do. Do they?

If it sounds like I'm upset, don't take it as such. I was for about twenty minutes after our meeting--which is how I roll: if I get frustrated, mad, upset or whatever, I let it seep and dwell for about 20 minutes or so, 20 minutes is all I'll give the unwelcome emotion, then I'm over it. Then I work on solving the problem.

So no, I'm not upset. Now its a matter of "Can I influence people positively, and how do I go about doing it without sounding disingenious?" and "How can I lead and delegate without soundling like I'm brash and barking out orders?"
The answers? When I figure those out, I'll tell you. For now, this is my reflection.
And remember, when two things are constant: God loves me, and it's just coffee. Such is life.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Blink. Blink. Blink.

So, I woke up Tuesday morning, did my morning routine (ie, brushed my teeth, checked Fox News for any major headlines, then turned it on SportsCenter while I showered, shaved and so forth). I then sat down and watched three episodes of Grey's Anatomy on dvd (we'll get to that in another column)

Then, right before I left for work, I went to the computer to check my email. And what I saw horrified me.

A black screen with a blinking cursor.

Blink. Blink. Blink.

I stared for a second. I rubbed my eyes.

Blink. Blink. Blink.

I immediately hit the power button to turn the computer off. This is, of the course, the natural reflex to all things computer-related. Reboot. It turned off, I gave it a few seconds, then turned it back on.

Blink. Blink. Blink.

I then, with my right foot, clicked the surge suppressor. One more time, we'll let it sit for more than a few seconds, perhaps it will then get itself right. I began to race through thoughts of all the things I have on the computer than I could lose... remember me spending two months loading cds into my computer? I have the first six seasons of the DFC on cd, but this season? I hadn't saved it on a disc past Week One. What about all my writings and such in the last several months?

With baited breath, I turned on the computer. Finally, it said "Hewlitt Packard" on the opening screen. I smiled. Then it went to black, saying "Press for Set-Up, Press for Resume". Heck, I wouldn't know how to set-up if my life depending on it, so I pressed F2.

Blink. Blink. Blink.

I called Stephanie, left her a message: "Dear... we have to get another computer."

I flipped it off and went to work. On the way, I called my buddy Jonathan Taylor, who is one of my few go-to guys for computer problems. He told me that the issue was the computer wasn't finding the operating system. What? This sounds bad.

There are two things you have to understand when it comes to our computer. First, Stephanie and I are both computer retarded. I mean, we can both put one together, perhaps combining our brain power, we can probably coming do some basic stuff... but when it comes to Giga-ram byte slave drive bit micro-macro-moncro-monchichi anything, we might as well both have drool coming out of our mouth.

Secondly, this is a computer that was pieced together from the Deuce. At The Deuce, we had five computers, one in each of the guy's rooms, and then one in the living room, all being networked. The one in my room had the extra hard drive on it, and when The Deuce shuttered its doors for the final time, Stephanie and I paid Shawn Sharp $100 for it. This might sound like a bad deal, but understand, this was 2004, when this computer was already about 2 years old. So I've got a "C" hard drive, which is the basic "master" drive, and "D" drive, which is the big one holding all of my music, much of my software, files, documents and so on.

To put this into persective, my iPod that I'm listening to right now ("Kiss Them For Me" by Siouxsie & the Banshees is playing at this very moment... okay, it just went to "Incense and Peppermint" by Strawberry Alarm Clock) is 60 gigs. My "C" hard drive is only 40.

Anyway, J-Taylor said he'd take a look at it when he could. This is a busy man, though, so I knew it might be a few days. I went onto work, did my coffee thing, then came home late Tuesday. One more try. Maybe, just maybe, a day of rest would wake up the computer, it would be rarin' to go, saying "Hey Dave! Thanks for the day off! I'm pumped and ready to be used for all your DFC/MySpace/Facebook/Drudge Report/ESPN/blogging duties!!"

Blink. Blink. Blink.

Stephanie and I spent about 30 minutes or more discussing the logistics of a laptop, how we can, or even if we can, afford it, what to do, when to do it, and all the while, I'm thinking, "Well, this just is poopy, isn't it?"

At church last night, I shared with some of the guys my computer woes. Notably Brad McGuffey, who is another computer tech guy. He asked me some questions, then told me, "Dude, your hard drive is fried." Were I four years old, I would have peed myself.

He explained to me the inner workings of the hard drive, told me that I should just get another one, then I can hook it up, turn the "C" drive into a "slave drive", transfer files, and so on.

However, this is what I heard: "LKoD K eoind dkone Deeoiaa[ 9ea7 _(7e[[ D(8yda- ". Making no sense? Exactly.

Brad graciously came over after church last night to inspect. He told me that really, all we needed was another hard drive, and at this day and time, even good ones are cheaper than ever. He and his lovely child-bearing wife Julie are possibly coming over Saturday for dinner, and we'll hopefully get it fixed.

This has made me realize how much I take for granted. No, seriously... I didn't even know who won the St Louis/NYMets game until about twenty minutes ago (the game was last night). I had 26 emails between Tuesday morning and fifteen minutes ago, some of which needed to be answered in a timely fashion (like the one telling me to wear a black shirt last night to church for dinner theater pictures) and I have no clue what's happening in the world. I almost feel lost... I almost feel like... it 1995.

So, here I am, standing at a computer in the Hoover Public Library. My hands hurt because of the angle in which I'm typing, and I'm trying to decide how to do the DFC this week, hoping that all will be working by Saturday night, preparing for getting another computer as late as a week from now. Possibly even further out.

Well, that's where I am. In case I don't blog again for another week or so, that's why. Three words:

Blink. Blink. Blink.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Mommy's Going Postal (and other thoughts)

So, I'm sitting here listening to the Jennifer Love Hewitt cd "Barenaked". No, I'm being serious. Why are you laughing? It's actually not bad... I mean, I'm not knocking the Dixie Chicks, Sarah McL and Sheryl off of my favorite chick singers, but its really not bad. I daresay its better than 98% of anything I've ever heard from Britney Spears. Heck, I even like her version of Jani Joplin's immortal "Me & Bobby McGee"... its different. Not bad.

Thank you, Hoover Public Library. Thank you for the discovery of the joy that is Jennifer Love Hewitt's musical spirit.


Promised a reaction to the NYTimes article I posted on Friday, which if you don't remember or want a refresher, you can read it here.

Here's my thoughts on this... as someone who has worked in the youth department of Valleydale Baptist Church, and now Valleydale Church (an sbc fellowship), for the better part of 7 years, I've witnessed many students go up to that altar in a fit of passion during a youth camp or revival. Tears in their eyes, sobbing, and a committment to be what God wants them to be. Some have kept those vows. Watching them grow up, I've seen some who haven't. Some have turned completely opposite.

The article says that out of every 100 students, basically 4 or 5 are real in their faith. Maybe that number is a bit low, or the total teenage number is a bit high... the source of the stats himself says the numbers are skewered because the research itself is 10 years old.

My point? I think we are starting to see teenagers becoming real in their faith. Not just going through motions, not just saying the right church answers, but becoming walking, talking, evangelical machines... most not even going into the ministry, but carrying Jesus in their hearts, lives and actions into whatever career they choose.

My brother in law, Tyler, has said to me a few times that he feels like there is a revival coming soon. He feels that God is preparing he, and several other students in the high school ministry of which he's a part of (at Valleydale Church, an sbc fellowship), for something big soon. And I believe him.

Tell you what... let's take that only 5 out of every 100 teenagers will become "Bible believing Christians" statistic. That would translate to 10 out of 200, right? That Alabama math teachins ain't fer nuthin'...

Fine. How about you give me Tyler, Kid Sister, both Trey & Jamie Cartledge, either Kelley twin (cause both wouldn't be fair), either Long twin (pick one), Haley Heckman, Garrett Cheney, Jessica Compton and Bradley Pinkerton, and you can choose any 200 half-hearted sorta-walking-but-not-really-believes-in-the-Bible-but-you-wouldn't-know-it-outside-of-church teenagers you choose. Toss in Grace Mintz, and you can have 25 more of yours. And I'll bet my Teen God Squad of 11 starts a revolution. (some of you don't know any of these kids... but I wouldn't choose just anyone to make my point here)

Teenagers losing faith? Perhaps. But I'll bet the kids that responded mostly aren't ones that were living in Faith to begin with. I think the article is exciting. Gone are the Sunday-morning-believers, being replaced--and quickly--with those who are chasing God's heart.


Just got back from the post office a few minutes ago. Stood in line for about twenty minutes to mail a few letters (they were oversized envelopes, so I had to get proper postage). Chick in front of me had her kid with her... kid was probably three, maybe four. At first, he was just an energetic little tyke (you know where this is going, don't you?), but as he waited with Mommy longer and longer, he started getting more restless. He was running all over the little lobby, as Mommy was trying to get him to stop, relax, calm down. And of course, the more he was getting scolded, the more he was protesting.

Now it just so happens that there are only two postal workers actually working. Like Wal-Mart, there were a number of registers (five here), but most were un-manned. The two workers each had a different Asian/Middle Eastern family at their post, looking to me like they were trying to get passports. The point is, they were taking a really long time, long enough for Junior to go absolutely nuts. He was wailing, crying, running all over the place, and Mommy was doing her best.

When she had him cornered across the lobby, he was sitting, crying, and I noticed Mommy just stood there, with her hand on her forehead, looking like she herself was about to go postal. The older gentlemen behind me in line, obviously from the "whoop-that-hiney" generation, said softly to no one in particular, "Looks like she's past the talking stage." I softly said, "Yeah.. I would have a whoopin' in my immediate future." Both the older gentleman and the lady behind him both chuckled. He made another comment that I didn't quite understand, and then I realized that I was coming across as making her sound like a bad mom, when in fact, I had no idea what her mommy capabilites were. I hope they are somewhat good, as she has another one on the way.

I heard her threaten Junior with the word "spanking", so I said softly, to no one in particular, "Looks like he's got a whoopin' in his immediate future." Of course, back in the age of 4, which was 1979, my mother would have probably just opened the post office front door and thrown me into the parking lot, daring me to move until she got done. She was still in there dealing with Junior's emotional state when I left.


Went to Taco Bell for lunch. The one on 280 is actually quite nice, the one with a Long John Silvers attached to it. People there are usually friendly, and the drive thru is quick, as is the cafe everytime I've been there. Not so with the Taco Bell right around the corner. Its the one right down from the Galleria, next to Guthries and Blockbuster, in the Bruno's shopping center.

Last time I went in there--keep in mind, I order the same thing every time, a double decker taco and a grande soft taco, both with no lettice, and a medium Mountain Dew, so it's nothing complicated--it took me almost thirty minutes to get out. I walked in and there were six people ahead of me. The only reason I moved up in the line is becuase one by one, each person left before even ordereing. They were short handed, with one guy running the register, two people in the kitchen, and one guy on drive thru. Keep in mind, the one on 280 has a DT you can bolt from anytime... with this one here, once you get in the drive thru lane, you are locked in. There's nowhere to go.

One little red-headed chick was ruling the kitchen, barking out orders, while everyone lese was hustling. The guy at the register ran to the kitchen to help out, then would come back out to take orders... it was in his disapperance that they lost the six people in front of me. Then, the announcement came that they were out of hard shells. Yes, Taco Bell ran out of tacos. That's like Starbucks running out of coffee. Well, once we did run out of Espresso, but we used French Roast, which is a very viable substitute. Ther's nothing you can do when you are out of hard-shells.

My guess is that Sherry was late. Sherry was the short girl who came strolling in, taking her sweet time in wandering behind the counter. The reason I guess she was late was that Red-Head gave her a death look when she saw Sherry. I mean, if looks could kill, Sherry would have ben in four pieces splattered on the wall.

Working at Starbucks gives me a new-found patience when it comes fast food. Not that it excuses anything, but sometimes I just wait it out.

Today was a little better... though they were still slow as molasses on a sunny Alaskan December day. As I finally got my two tacos, I sat down, hearing John Legend's "Ordinary People" overhead. Fitting. "We're just ordinary people, we don't know which way to go. We're just ordinary people, maybe we should take it slow... take it slow."

Forget "Run for the border", use "Take it slow" to get that whole truth in advertising thing down.

I'm just saying.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Evangelicals Losing Teenagers, Sayeth the NYTimes

Despite my urge to use it for toilet paper, I actually picked up the New York Times today (it leaves printing ink in bad places if you use it for TP) because a front page article caught my attention; its the one you'll see pasted below. And I copied ALL of it, and just so you know, here's the link from their website. I only give it to you so you'll know I'm taking nothing out of context when I discuss this shortly.

In typical NYTimes fashion, the real truth to the story is buried at the end, two single lines that pretty much makes the whole story a moot point (I took the liberty of bolding it for you, because you know they wouldn't). Anyway, read this, but if you don't, I'm going to give you my take on it, with highlights, soon enough.

Oh yeah, before you begin... if these stats are right, I think this is FANTASTIC. I'll tell you why soon enough.

Evangelicals Fear the Loss of Their Teenagers
New York Times Page A1, cont'd on A18, 10/6/06
byline: Laurie Goodstein

Despite their packed megachurches, their political clout and their increasing visibility on the national stage, evangelical Christian leaders are warning one another that their teenagers are abandoning the faith in droves.

At an unusual series of leadership meetings in 44 cities this fall, more than 6,000 pastors are hearing dire forecasts from some of the biggest names in the conservative evangelical movement.

Their alarm has been stoked by a highly suspect claim that if current trends continue, only 4 percent of teenagers will be “Bible-believing Christians” as adults. That would be a sharp decline compared with 35 percent of the current generation of baby boomers, and before that, 65 percent of the World War II generation.

While some critics say the statistics are greatly exaggerated (one evangelical magazine for youth ministers dubbed it “the 4 percent panic attack”), there is widespread consensus among evangelical leaders that they risk losing their teenagers.

“I’m looking at the data,” said Ron Luce, who organized the meetings and founded Teen Mania, a 20-year-old youth ministry, “and we’ve become post-Christian America, like post-Christian Europe. We’ve been working as hard as we know how to work — everyone in youth ministry is working hard — but we’re losing.”

The board of the National Association of Evangelicals, an umbrella group representing 60 denominations and dozens of ministries, passed a resolution this year deploring “the epidemic of young people leaving the evangelical church.”

Among the leaders speaking at the meetings are Ted Haggard, president of the evangelical association; the Rev. Jerry Falwell; and nationally known preachers like Jack Hayford and Tommy Barnett.

Genuine alarm can be heard from Christian teenagers and youth pastors, who say they cannot compete against a pervasive culture of cynicism about religion, and the casual “hooking up” approach to sex so pervasive on MTV, on Web sites for teenagers and in hip-hop, rap and rock music. Divorced parents and dysfunctional families also lead some teenagers to avoid church entirely or to drift away.

Over and over in interviews, evangelical teenagers said they felt like a tiny, beleaguered minority in their schools and neighborhoods. They said they often felt alone in their struggles to live by their “Biblical values” by avoiding casual sex, risqué music and videos, Internet pornography, alcohol and drugs.

When Eric Soto, 18, transferred from a small charter school to a large public high school in Chicago, he said he was disappointed to find that an extracurricular Bible study attracted only five to eight students. “When we brought food, we thought we could get a better turnout,” he said. They got 12.

Chelsea Dunford, a 17-year old from Canton, Conn., said, “At school I don’t have a lot of friends who are Christians.”

Ms. Dunford spoke late last month as she and her small church youth group were about to join more than 3,400 teenagers in a sports arena at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst for a Christian youth extravaganza and rock concert called Acquire the Fire.

“A lot of my friends are self-proclaimed agnostics or atheists,” said Ms. Dunford, who wears a bracelet with a heart-shaped charm engraved with “tlw,” for “true love waits,” to remind herself of her pledge not to have premarital sex.

She said her friends were more prone to use profanity and party than she was, and added: “It’s scary sometimes. You get made fun of.”

To break the isolation and bolster the teenagers’ commitment to a conservative lifestyle, Mr. Luce has been organizing these stadium extravaganzas for 15 years. The event in Amherst was the first of 40 that Teen Mania is putting on between now and May, on a breakneck schedule that resembles a road trip for a major touring band. The “roadies” are 700 teenagers who have interned for a year at Teen Mania’s “Honor Academy” in Garden Valley, Tex.

More than two million teenagers have attended in the last 15 years, said Mr. Luce, a 45-year-old, mop-headed father of three with a master’s degree from the Graduate School of Business Administration at Harvard and the star power of an aging rock guitarist.

“That’s more than Paul McCartney has pulled in,” Mr. Luce asserted, before bounding onstage for the opening pyrotechnics and a prayer.

For the next two days, the teenagers in the arena pogoed to Christian bands, pledged to lead their friends to Christ and sang an anthem with the chorus, “We won’t be silent.” Hundreds streamed down the aisles for the altar call and knelt in front of the stage, some weeping openly as they prayed to give their lives to God.

The next morning, Mr. Luce led the crowd in an exercise in which they wrote on scraps of paper all the negative cultural influences, brand names, products and television shows that they planned to excise from their lives. Again they streamed down the aisles, this time to throw away the “cultural garbage.”

Trash cans filled with folded pieces of paper on which the teenagers had scribbled things like Ryan Seacrest, Louis Vuitton, “Gilmore Girls,” “Days of Our Lives,” Iron Maiden, Harry Potter, “need for a boyfriend” and “my perfect teeth obsession.” One had written in tiny letters: “fornication.”

Some teenagers threw away cigarette lighters, brand-name sweatshirts, Mardi Gras beads and CD’s — one titled “I’m a Hustla.”

“Lord Jesus,” Mr. Luce prayed into the microphone as the teenagers dropped their notes into the trash, “I strip off the identity of the world, and this morning I clothe myself with Christ, with his lifestyle. That’s what I want to be known for.”

Evangelical adults, like believers of every faith, fret about losing the next generation, said the Rev. David W. Key, director of Baptist Studies at the Candler School of Theology of Emory University, in Atlanta.

“The uniqueness of the evangelical situation is the fact that during the 80’s and 90’s you had the Reagan revolution that was growing the evangelical churches,” Mr. Key said.

Today, he said, the culture trivializes religion and normalizes secularism and liberal sexual mores. The phenomenon may not be that young evangelicals are abandoning their faith, but that they are abandoning the institutional church, said Lauren Sandler, author of “Righteous: Dispatches from the Evangelical Youth Movement” (Viking, 2006). Ms. Sandler, who calls herself a secular liberal, said she found the movement frighteningly robust.

“This generation is not about church,” said Ms. Sandler, an editor at “They always say, ‘We take our faith outside the four walls.’ For a lot of young evangelicals, church is a rock festival, or a skate park or hanging out in someone’s basement.”

Contradicting the sense of isolation expressed by some evangelical teenagers, Ms. Sandler said, “I met plenty of kids who told me over and over that if you’re not Christian in your high school, you’re not cool — kids with Mohawks, with indie rock bands who feel peer pressure to be Christian.”

(just a quick note... what school are YOU going to, Ms. Sandler? Even in Bible belt Alabama, I can guess there are very few schools where students are pressured to be Christians. Plus, I love it when secularists and liberals profess to have great knowledge on what it actually like to be a Christ-follower... heck, I've been a Christian for almost 12 years, and I can't imagine what a Christian in an Oregon school, or a Rhode Island school goes through. But that's just me--d$)

The reality is, when it comes to organizing youth, evangelical Christians are the envy of Roman Catholics, mainline Protestants and Jews, said Christian Smith, a professor of sociology at the
University of Notre Dame, who specializes in the study of American evangelicals and surveyed teens for his book “Soul Searching: the Religious and Spiritual lives of American Teenagers” (Oxford, 2005).

Mr. Smith said he was skeptical about the 4 percent statistic. He said the figure was from a footnote in a book and was inconsistent with research he had conducted and reviewed, which has found that evangelical teenagers are more likely to remain involved with their faith than are mainline Protestants, Catholics, Jews and teenagers of almost every other religion.

“A lot of the goals I’m very supportive of,” Mr. Smith said of the new evangelical youth campaign, “but it just kills me that it’s framed in such apocalyptic terms that couldn’t possibly hold up under half a second of scrutiny. It’s just self-defeating.”

The 4 percent is cited in the book “The Bridger Generation” by Thom S. Rainer, a Southern Baptist and a former professor of ministry. Mr. Rainer said in an interview that it came from a poll he had commissioned, and that while he thought the methodology was reliable, the poll was 10 years old.

“I would have to, with integrity, say there has been no significant follow-up to see if the numbers are still valid,” Mr. Rainer said.

Mr. Luce seems weary of criticism that his message is overly alarmist. He said that a current poll by the well-known evangelical pollster George Barna found that 5 percent of teenagers were Bible-believing Christians. Some criticize Mr. Barna’s methodology, however, for defining “Bible-believing” so narrowly that it excludes most people who consider themselves Christians.

Mr. Luce responded: “If the 4 percent is true, or even the 5 percent, it’s an indictment of youth ministry. So certainly they’re going to want different data.”

Outside the arena in Amherst, the teenagers at Mr. Luce’s Acquire the Fire extravaganza mobbed the tables hawking T-shirts and CD’s stamped: “Branded by God.” Mr. Luce’s strategy is to replace MTV’s wares with those of an alternative Christian culture, so teenagers will link their identity to Christ and not to the latest flesh-baring pop star.

Apparently, the strategy can show results. In Chicago, Eric Soto said he returned from a stadium event in Detroit in the spring to find that other teenagers in the hallways were also wearing “Acquire the Fire” T-shirts. “You were there? You’re a Christian?” he said the young people would say to one another. “The fire doesn’t die once you leave the stadium. But it’s a challenge to keep it burning.”

Monday, October 02, 2006

An Incomplete List (but a great week)

So, out of 40 things on my To-Do task list since last Wednesday, my first day of vacation, I managed to knock out 30 of them.

My weekend:
(1) I rolled change for deposit to make up for my Sports Illustrated subscription--I will deposit it today.
(2) I inventoried and filed away my comics that were laying around
(4) I watched the pilot episode of Jericho
(5) I watched the pilot episode of Heroes
(6) I retyped skits and got them printed for WalkAbout
(9 & 10) I bought and attended the Troy/UAB game on Saturday (it was bad)
(14) I read I Samuel all the way through
(16) I out-served Stephanie in a few ways
(17) I sorted through a bunch of pictures, getting ready to put them in an album
(20) I had a conversation with a total stranger, Jennifer, the Waffle House waitress
(21) I updated my birthday calendar
(23) I spent two hours vegging, doing nothing
(24-29) I emailed Blair Andress, Susan Christiano, Anna Kelley, Bradley Granthem, Ambre Lake and Liberty Leak, all of whom I had not spoken with in at least seven to ten years
(30) Got the clothes folded (though now, there are more)
(31) Updated The Deuce Weekly Archive page
(32) Updated this page
(33) Wished Michael & Melissa Clark a happy anniversary
(34) Got Ryan Sherman's birthday card, will send out today
(35) Called Hallmark, got our Gold Crown Membership squared away
(36) Didn't get graduation gifts, but discussed with Stephanie about them, so it counts
(37) Got the ball rolling for the Make Your Mark for Elisabeth
(38) Dropped off books at the Hoover Library
(39) Read a bunch of Sports Guy columns
(40) Kept a running diary of my weekend

So here's what I didn't get done... (3) Watch Lost. That's for Wednesday morning... (7) Finish 2 books. Yeah, I started another one... (8) Mail out Thank You notes. I'm actually still on this... (11) Call Mom. I will, I will!... (12 & 13) Set pedometer and walk three miles. Yeah... (15) Read II Samuel. Didn't get to it... (18 & 19) Sort 160 pictures and start album. See, this took much longer than I ever anticipated, so this doesn't count that I missed it... (22) Update prayer calendar. No excuse on that one.

However... it was a productive weekend, I must say. Long live vacation!