Atmosphere

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In many ways I suspect that most of the participants would find Dan Kimball’s session on “Postmodernism: how it impacts youth ministry and youth leaders” easier to follow. 🙂 perhaps it’s the way we are educated most of us find dealing with more “abstract concepts” harder to digest, we tend to prefer the concrete and the visual. And Dan played his part well in doing this.

One thing I appreciated is that being very well aware of such a “different” context he’s coming from (i.e. USA) he communicates his oresentation with an inherently dialogical approach – not so much we did a Q & A (which in this session perhaps was too early) but more in his way of speaking and trying to facilitate our thoughts in the process.

I found his little line under the question “What is Postmodernism?” quite cheeky and yet thoughtful … i.e. a word that is misunderstood, misused, feared, embraced, talked about, ignored, cool to use and uncool to use.

I think he accurately paints the scene on how ordinary folk in the church or even leaders use the term. I’ve heard of “postmodernism” seen as the big bad enemy we should resist and I’ve also heard of “postmodernism” as the latest “trend” in youth and young adult ministry. Both I think are unhelpful.

What for me I get is this … that at least at the more”popular” and “grass-root” level in ministry especially in local churches we talk about culture again .. not just culture as in our Chinese and/or Indian culture, but also a more “dynamic view” of culture/s in Malaysia that are at work. another way of putting it is “How do we view the world we live in?”

So often, Christians in Malaysia are tempted to jump to easily on the latest bandwagon (from the latest church growth technique to even the latest philosophy) without first considering the “climate” in which gave birth to the specific solution offered by the above. And then second step of seriously considering our climate and in Dan’s word I picked up our “Atmosphere”.

I like the question Dan posed to us … adapted from the questions he asked in his context of Santa Cruz USA.

What kind of Atmosphere do we have in Singapore-Malaysia?
What values and spiritual beliefs are shaping how youth think
and view the world?
How is Christianity seen?”

And this can be done at a more micro level even in my own small group. as well as the local congregation and wider Malaysian church scene.

Considering what are the dominant religious faiths? how do we learn values and beliefs? what are our morals and ethics? most of us think these are questions for scholars when it’s actually questions that need to be grappled with ourselves too at all levels perhaps with different vocabulary!

I read a news paper report (trying to find a link) and even though we may pride our so called “asian values” according to the survey most kids are more interested in money, the latest gadgets and trends and their jobs more than relationships, personal learning and social justice. The report did talk about their desire for world peace though.

I was talking with a youth yesterday and he said he wanted to leave his country because people are just working to death here. And he wants to go to a place like New Zealand. I found our conversation very enlightening.

So, on one hand .. I need to read up .. on the other, I need to just ask questions and listen. And somehow in that process come to an understanding of where people are at and the kind of atmosphere we are living in.

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