Thursday, April 30, 2009

Walt Mueller on "The Triple Bind"

From The Triple Bind website:

"In many ways, today is the best time in history to be a girl: Opportunities for a girl's success are as unlimited as her dreams. Yet an alarm is sounding, revealing a disturbing portrait of the stresses affecting girls of all ages. Societal expectations, cultural trends, and conflicting messages are creating what psychologist and researcher Stephen Hinshaw calls 'the triple bind.' Girls are now expected to excel at 'girl skills,' achieve 'boy goals,' and be models of female perfection 100 percent of the time. The triple bind is putting more and more girls at risk for aggression, eating disorders, depression, and even suicide. Dr. Hinshaw's fascinating and groundbreaking book shows concerned parents how to listen, learn, and help girls unlock the shackles of the triple bind."

Listen to CPYU president
, Walt Mueller, talk about The Triple Bind on CPYU's daily 1 minute radio program Youth Culture Today.

Listen to more Youth Culture Today

Monday, April 27, 2009

Byron Borger Podcast: The IAM Interview

The mission of The International Arts Movement (IAM) is to gather artists and creative catalysts to wrestle with the deep questions of art, faith and humanity in order to inspire the creative community to engage the culture that is and create the world that ought to be. Recently, IAM staffer Christy Tennant interviewed our good friend Byron Borger, owner of Hearts & Minds Bookstore in Dallastown, PA. Byron is inspirational, as always, casting a vision for his store, recommending the best books available, and telling stories of how books have the potential to transform lives. Follow the links below to listen:

Byron Borger interview part 1

Byron Borger interview part 2

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

NEW Book from CPYU's Walt Mueller!

The Space Between: A Parent's Guide to Teenage Development by Walt Mueller is available for pre-order at the CYPU RESOURCE CENTER for only $8 (shipping included!).

recommends that parents, youth workers, pastors, educators and others involved in the lives of teens all read this book to gain valuable insight into the world of adolescent development. When you started out as a parent, chances are you felt completely unprepared to deal with the challenges of a child. But at some point in your journey, you've probably found yourself feeling confident in your parenting role and abilities.

The routine and predictability of your child's life became manageable and fairly easy to navigate. Now that your child is a teenager (or soon-to-be a teen), you may be feeling overwhelmed at times with fear, confusion, frustration, and a lack of understanding. It almost feels like you're starting all over with a screaming, needy, and sometimes whiny child (only much taller and with more attitude!).

The changes of adolescence, while normal for every teen, feel completely abnormal to parents of teenagers, often leaving you feeling like a helpless bystander. But you're not alone and there is hope to help you (and your teen) get through these challenging, changing years.

For more than 30 years, Dr. Walt Mueller has studied adolescents and the culture that surrounds them. His expertise was put to the test when his own children became teenagers. Now he's bringing wisdom from research and his own experience to help other parents through the tumultous years of adolescence.With empathy and practical tools, this book will help you understand the changes your teen is experiencing, and help you effectively parent them as you explore how to:

- create a smoother adolescent period for your teen
- begin to break through the walls of confusion, fear, frustration, and misunderstanding
- be a positive and proactive bridge-builder into the life and world of your teenager

Regain the confidence you once felt as a parent, and create a parent-teen relationship that helps your teen (and you) get through these change-filled years successfully.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Help Stop the Bleeding: Great Resource for Working with Teens Who Self-Injure

Reviewed by Chris Wagner

(The following review appeared in the Spring 2009 edition of Engage: The Journal of Youth Culture from CPYU.)

It seems as though as little as a few years ago there were very few books and resources available to people who wanted to learn more about self-mutilation, selfharm, or cutting. Thankfully, the research being conducted in this field has enabled the insight—and therefore the books—about this youth-prevalent epidemic to keep getting better and better. Inside a Cutter’s Mind: Understanding and Helping Those Who Self-Injure (NavPress, 2007), by Jerusha Clark and Dr. Earl Henslin, is no exception. Self-harm is often misunderstood.

Clark thoroughly and gracefully explores the many dynamics that weave through the fabric of a cutter’s mind and life in a way that allows those to whom self-harm makes little sense, begin to grasp the reality and rationale of this behavior. Even more, she does so in a way that brings hope into a seemingly hopeless situation. Readers will be encouraged to look at cutting in multi-dimensional ways. Through first-hand stories of selfharmers, insight from medical professionals, counselors and literature, Clark demonstrates that cutting is both physiological and psychological. Written from a Christian perspective, Inside a Cutter’s Mind also addresses the spiritual needs of self-harmers.

The motivations and needs of selfharmers and, therefore, the necessary steps to full recovery differ drastically from individual to individual. There is simply no one way to address this behavior. Clark provides us with medical insight that demonstrates why cutters can not simply stop their behavior of their own power. As cutting powerfully affects the brain, body and soul, different treatment options addressing all these areas are appropriately discussed. This book is a must-read for anyone who knows, loves and is trying to offer help to a cutter.

Related Links:

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Stone Crossings Winner

A winner has been randomly selected from the list of 40 comments below… theroses3

To redeem your prize, theroses3, simply send an email to dmelleby(at) with your mailing address, how you would like your book signed, and we will get it in the mail ASAP.

And here’s a note from L.L. Barkat:

"I thought about what I might say to the winner (and anyone else who decides to read Stone Crossings: Finding Grace in Hard and Hidden Places after learning about it here). Nothing seemed quite right. Then I remembered a story. Well actually two stories. Or maybe it really is one story (forgive my vacillation!) that began long ago and found a new chapter this past year.

In Stone Crossings, I tell a small tale of loss; when I was a child, my stepfather threw a rock-tumbling project out the window. I'd been trying to polish some stones to amber, jade and purple perfection. That project ended abruptly with his hostile action. Funny how we carry things like this with us into adulthood, but I remembered the incident well enough to poignantly pen it into Stone Crossings.

When the book was published, I sent a copy to my third stepmother, as a thank you for letting me tell her part of our family history. To my great surprise, she wrote me a five-paged, single-spaced letter about her regrets and her love. And, with the letter, she sent a velvet green bag of polished stones. They looked much like the stones I'd been hoping to produce in that childhood project long ago. Okay, do you blame me? I held those stones, touched their smoothness and cried for a long time.

Which is to say that sometimes our grace stories take years to unfold. And we are startled to find, after all, grace in hard and hidden places."

L.L. Barkat, for your courage to share you powerful story of grace and for your participation in the CPYU Bookshelf giveaway. We all have been blessed because of it!)

Monday, April 6, 2009

David Dark on the Sacredness of Questioning Everything

Eugene Peterson says that David Dark is his "favorite critic of the people's culture of America and the Christian Faith." Dark's previous books, Everyday Apocalypse: The Sacred Revealed in Radiohead, The Simpsons, and Other Pop Culture Icons and The Gospel According to America have become "must-reads" for anyone interested in the intersection of faith and culture. Dark's strength is his ability to be intensely critical and hopeful at the same time. What follows is an interview with Dark about his most recent book, The Sacredness of Questioning Everything (Zondervan, 2009):

CPYU: What motivated you to write this book?

Dark: I suppose it began with the strange feeling of encouragement I felt when I noticed churchgoers reading, enjoying, and talking about some of the bestselling atheist authors (Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins). I found this to be an inspiringly healthy phenomenon, one that runs counter to the idea that Christians should somehow piously confine their media consumption to whatever voices will further reinforce feelings of rightness concerning whatever we already believe. When Hitchens provocatively asserts that religion, as he understands it, poisons everything. I don’t think anyone’s response should begin with how such an assertion offends them or hurts their feelings. I think our first response should be something like, “Does he, in any sense, have a point? How might ‘getting religion’ be the worst thing that could happen to a person? How does it seem to often wreck the possibility of human decency?” Many of us won’t have to scratch too deeply to see the sense in which Hitchens has a point. I’ve long bristled under the suggestion, never stated outright but often implied, that thinking simplistically and not looking deeply into things is characteristically Christian; as if God needs us to steer clear of complexity and only asks that we remain dutifully submissive to a shallow view of the world. I wanted to argue that questioning isn’t just permissible, but necessary; that it’s probably even a primary form of religious faithfulness. No faith, in any redemptive sense, without questions.

CPYU: A main theme in the book seems to be a plea for religious people to be more humble. Why do you think humility is such an important virtue for Christians today?

Dark: Without it, Christians become people who can only communicate in conversation-stoppers, believing we’re the ones (the only ones) who bring truth and light to our interactions. We become impossibly bad listeners and largely impenetrable to the wisdom we might receive from those with whom we disagree. I think we should view ourselves as pilgrims among fellow pilgrims instead of thinking we’re the unique dispensers of the right information about God.

CPYU: Many of our readers are parents and youth workers. How do you think they would benefit from this book?

Dark: I’d like to think of it as a breath of invigoratingly fresh air. It tries to take on and, in some sense, exorcise the bad ideas that have us afraid to think more deeply about God, the world, and what it is we’re doing. And it champions the practice of sacred questioning not as some new fangled notion but as something we see at work in the biblical witness, religious history, the Civil Rights movement, and all manner of artistic expression (poetry, folk music, film). Each chapter includes (appropriately enough) a selection of questions to keep the thing helpfully interactive. My hope would be that the book might ignite some conversations and somehow do what I think any good book will do: Expand the sphere of the talkaboutable.

CPYU: As a parent and teacher yourself, how do you balance the desire to see young people learn to ask good questions, to not be afraid of questions, and yet also help to provide answers and solid footing for young people developing faith?

Dark: Well, there’s a way in which I think we often get it devastatingly backwards: Here’s what you have to believe to be right with God, so start believing it, hold on to it, and now you have solid grounding. If we’re redeemed and saved by virtue of how intensely we believe the right things, then sure enough, questioning is the last thing we should do. It’s cosmically dangerous. We run the risk of losing whatever fragile hold on God’s good graces we have. Contrary to this sort of thing, I’m compelled (and hope my own children and students will be similarly compelled) by a vision of an always-redeeming God whose hold on to us is more powerful and lasting than any concept we might hold to ourselves. What I would think of as solid footing within an always-developing faith that seeks further life and wisdom and freedom within God’s kingdom can’t be understood apart from the asking of good questions. I’m good with my daughter thinking of the Bible as a book that, in some sense, yields answers, but an even more solid footing might be an understanding of the Bible as a text saturated in questions, questions which penetrate and scandalize our understanding of ourselves, questions so charged that we still haven’t found an answer to them, questions that keep changing the world. I want her to understand that we seek God not by playing at belief but by prayerfully questioning our own ideas about God, the world, and how we’re doing at the job of dwelling lovingly and mindfully within it.

CPYU: A hot topic in youth ministry today is college transition. Many people quote statistics about the number of students that walk away from the faith in college. While you don't directly address this issue, what do you think your book could add to that conversation?

Dark: The book tries to define faith as closely allied to the practice of sacred questioning as opposed to faith as a set of beliefs one holds to for dear life in the face of rising waters of chaos and confusion. I think it was Flannery O’Connor who said that if you lose your faith in an Introduction to Philosophy class, it might not be true to say that you had a robust or meaningful faith to begin with. What you had was ideas. And entering into a season when you’re made to see that those ideas aren’t/ weren’t the ground of God’s being to begin with is probably a good thing. I wouldn’t say you have to lose your faith to find it (as if faith could ever be a possession or a cause for boasting). But I would say we have to hold loosely to our concepts of God if we’re to seek out or be faithful to the God who transcends and overflows our concepts. In this sense, questioning is crucial to the possibility of a Christian faith. I don’t know that we could say we’re even reading the Bible, for instance, if we come to it with no questions. What’s our relationship to it if we only come to the text hoping to find out what we’re supposed to believe or how we might corral certain verses to buttress our already made up minds?

C.S. Lewis said that many use the text but only very few receive it. I think we can argue that there is no discernment-- there is no reception of God’s word--if we have no questions. I’ve witnessed the ways the college transition goes weirdly for students and their parents, but I view disagreement as an opportunity for a conversation to break out. I was very blessed to have parents who believed I was learning things they had yet to understand and that their own growth and enrichment would involve, in no small way, asking me questions and listening to my answers. I hope I’ll have a similar posture of receptivity and anticipation when it comes to my own kids’ development. I hope I’ll have the wit to love them like my parents loved me, with lots and lots of open-ended questions. There’s nothing like them.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Bookshelf Award Alert: Frontrunner for 2009 Book of the Year?!

It may be too early to tell, but this book will be hard to beat! Kevin Roose, a liberal, nominally Quaker student at Brown University, transfers to Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University to engage in cross-cultural study. Just how wide is the God divide? What are we to think of the next generation of culture warriors? Roose has a good story to tell, and he’s a great story teller. He offers a very insightful look into the world of fundamentalist/evangelical Christians and draws some surprising conclusions in his The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University. More on this book to come!

Visit the author's website

Read a review from Books & Culture