Archive for the ‘youth ministry’ Category

This video says, pretty succinctly, some key things to understanding the world of teens looks like.  Especially from the perspective of parents and the church, this should be some pretty good motivation to renew our efforts of living out and articulating our faith in a meaningful way.

Read Full Post »

Is Gandhi in hell?  What’s more, what is hell?  Or heaven, for that matter?

These are some of the questions that have sparked a bit of a firestorm around Rob Bell’s new book Love Wins: a book about heaven hell and the fate of everyone who ever lived.  This first came across my radar screen when I read a post on Tony Jones’s blog late last week about the growing attention and criticism about this book.  Then I did some searching and saw that it has even made a splash on the national news scene from CNN to ABC.

Controversy in and of itself isn’t surprising with Rob Bell.  That’s happened before.  What is striking is that judgment has been leveled by a number of people who haven’t even read the book yet because it has not yet been released!

Ultimately the controversy stems from the fact that Bell is raising core questions about issues that are central to the Christian faith.  He has posed the questions in ways that have led some to conclude that Bell is promoting something called Universalism; a doctrine where everyone gets saved, no matter what.  Again, these are all assumptions because none of his critics have actually read the book yet.  The only worthwhile critique I’ve read so far is Greg Boyd’s, namely because he actually has read the book.  (As a side note, as an Anabaptist, it’s worth paying attention to Boyd partly because he’s grown very close to Mennonites in recent years, even flirting with the idea of joining MCUSA.)

What is most intriguing and frustrating to me is not the discussion about universalism, but rather the controversy itself and the way this has been discussed and argued about in the last couple of weeks.

It has been astounding to see the speed with which he has been denounced as a heretic and the forceful unwillingness to even raise the questions he poses.  For me this is a red flag.  Why are so many vigorously defending a relatively specific doctrine of hell?

When you look at the Bible, there is no one consistent understanding of hell.  For that matter, the concept of an afterlife in much of the Old Testament was non-existent.  God blesses and curses you through your descendants, not in an afterlife (See the 10 commandments).  There is no consistent version of hell in the Bible, and what is there most certainly doesn’t look like what most people today envision.  The image of a red guy with a pitchfork and horns comes from Dante’s Inferno, not the Bible.

I think that the reason that many have had such a knee jerk reaction is because the doctrine of hell is a powerful weapon.  Hell scares the…well..hell out of people.  Combined with a select few leaders who determine who’s in and who’s out, this fear fuels enormous power and control.  Even raising the question, as Bell has done, challenges the enormous power that many have enjoyed for centuries.

To be clear, I’m not defending Bell.  I haven’t read his book so I can’t say one way or another.  What I do know is that these questions are deeply important to an enormous number of people, both inside and outside the church.  It is critical for the church to pay attention to this.  It’s time that we learned to have these discussions, openly and honestly and in front of the watching eyes of the world.  Because as Bell says “what we believe about heaven and hell is incredibly important because it exposes what we believe about who God is and what God is like.”

Read Full Post »

Last night we took the youth group to big Christian rock concert in Wichita called Winter Jam.  After a very long day I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about the event.

It was really quite a spectacle to behold.  The day started by camping out in line for about 3 hours, and then being in the arena for another 6.  There were 7 different bands that were very good and polished.  The theatrics of the event was impressive.  Everything was produced and orchestrated to an unbelievably high degree.  The set design was top notch, creating impressive and unique visuals for each band.  I was also impressed at the variety of bands that they had.  There were hard rock, pop, indi, and even the David Crowder band which is mainly a worship band but even threw in a bit of bluegrass.  Overall, the music was enjoyable and the show was breathtaking.

That being said, I was fairly overwhelmed by many other elements of the show.  And I do mean “show”.  The fact that it most certainly was a show including all of the “ministry times”, might be my first issue.  What’s more, I don’t go to many rock concerts, mainly because they exist to sell me stuff.  From minute one, it was obvious that the reason they were there was to sell me stuff at Winter Jam.  The only difference was that they heaped on Jesus-guilt along with the product pitch.  These things however, were relatively superficial issues.

After the warm up band, the next sequence of events begins to describe where my difficulties really began.  After the warm up band, one of the artists came out and promoted a cruise where there would be a whole number of Christian musicians performing.  Next, he brought up people from the three local Christian radio stations to promote them.  Then he brought up the tour pastor.  The pastor began by saying,  “Before we start by reading some scripture I want to recognize that there are a lot of armed forces personnel here and I want to remind us to thank them for defending our freedoms and bringing peace.”  Then, finally, he read the psalm 149, which has to do with making music to God with various instruments.  It also include a bit about God taking out some enemies, which he also mentioned with the note that this is about God making peace through war.   His main point with this scripture, however, was that we were justified in being at the concert because God commanded us to worship this way.

If I hadn’t been with 30 youth group kids I would have walked out then and there.

The rest of the concert had a quasi-generic Christian, but distinctly conservative feel.  It was a mix of patriotism, evangelism and commercialism.  Perhaps the point at which I was most offended was when the pastor, at several different points, appealed to people to either sponsor a child from an overseas orphanage or to give money in the freewill offering.  What was offensive was not that he appealed for these things in the first place.  What was offensive was when he said, “now some of you are hearing this and thinking, ‘oh I don’t have the money or I don’t think I can or I’d rather not’.  That’s the devil talking in your ear because the devil would like nothing more than for you to walk out of here without giving.”  I don’t think I even have to explain how theologically manipulative that is.

What I will give the pastor credit for was his pro-life rant.  To promote the orphanage project he asked the crowd if they were pro-life.  The place went wild with cheers.  Then he quoted James 1:27 which talks about pure and faultless religion is one that takes care of widow and orphans.  He flat out said that you’re really pro-life then you need to be there to care for a baby when a mother chooses to have the child instead of abort the child.  He even said that you’re not really a Christian if you don’t care for widows and orphans, and called out many Christians for only saying that they’re pro-life and not backing it up.  Needless to say, the crowd was considerably more quiet in their response to this part of his speech.  I was a little shocked, because this was the first time that I’ve heard someone at a very conservative event basically say that being pro-life means more than being pro-birth.  Now, that would have held more water for me if he hadn’t started the concert by elevating the military.

Overall, I have mixed feelings about the event.  On one hand, the kids loved it and had a great time.  It’s not often that they get a chance to go to that big of an event.  I have no doubt that it hit a number of the kids very well and strengthened many of them in their faith.  Personally I enjoyed most of the music and even found a couple of bands I need to (re)discover.  On the other hand, there were key elements of this event that were the total embodiment of everything that I hate about American pop-Christianity.  Would I condone my youth group going in the future?  Probably.  Would I ever intentionally go again if it was just me?  Depends on who was playing and what my tolerance for bad theology was at that moment.  Will I wind up going again as a leader of a youth group? Probably.  But that’s the nature of the beast.

Read Full Post »

“Did Sarah Palin have breast augmentation surgery,  more commonly known as a boob job?”

That question came across my news radar last week sometime but I simply dismissed the ‘news story’ as political provocativeness and general nonsense.  But then I stumbled across this article by David Gibson called “Sarah Palin’s Breasts Are Real; Not So With Growing Number of Faithful”. Of course I was intrigued.

The main essence of the article is that our society has become increasingly comfortable with cosmetic surgery.  This trend also includes many Christians, particularly Conservative Christians.  He gives numerous examples, even citing Joyce Meyer as having work done on her face.  Probably the most disturbing was lament from J. Lee Grady in 2004 saying that he knew of a large Pentecostal church where, “all the women on staff — and the wives of all the pastors — have had breast-enhancement surgery.”

Since this blog posting should have something original rather than merely re-posting from some other blog, I do have a significant thought to point out that Gibson did not.  Gibson essentially makes the case that Christians do not look on cosmetic surgery with disdain anymore.  Cosmetic surgery has become mainstream.  After reading his article, and specifically the justifications by Christians that he quotes, I don’t think he’s gone far enough.

It’s not just that Christians are OK with it, it’s that Christians see it as a sign of being a good Christian.

Here are the two main theological values that I hear in their statements and in his article.

1) God wants me to be happy.  Even in Joyce Meyer’s quote, a personality who I usually am OK with, she essentially comes to the conclusion that God wants us to be happy and that if making a little adjustment makes you happy, it’s your face so go for it.  While I think God wants us to experience Joy, this idea is against two traditional Christian views.  One, Jesus tells us not to get tied up in vanity and not to invest in the things of this world because they will all rot and decay (store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, etc….).  Cosmetic surgery seems to be the ultimate definition of fleeting.  Second, there is a traditional value that this world, and specifically our bodies, do not belong to us but rather belong to God.  i.e the whole ‘treat your body as a temple of the Lord’ thing.

2) Material wealth is a sign of God’s blessing.   One of the subtle but very present theological values is the idea that God blesses Christians with more stuff.  Again, Joyce Meyer’s quote says a lot, “I want to look my best for God. So many people have the attitude that if you’re a Christian you’ve got to dress bad, wear an old color, not do anything to your hair, have nothing. It’s no wonder that Christianity is not very attractive.”  The logic is essentially that if I’m a better Christian then I will have more stuff and, in this case, look better.  Therefore, if I can make myself look better then I must be a better Christian.

Ultimately, Joyce Meyer and this whole line of thinking is missing what actually makes Christianity attractive.  The assumption is that the reason people are and should be attracted to Christianity is because of what it can offer in terms of measure of wealth, power and prestige by the worlds standards.  That is a fundamental heresy to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Christianity becomes truly attractive and meaningful when it rejects the worlds definitions of power, wealth and prestige.  That is the Upsideown Kingdom that Jesus taught and lived.

Read Full Post »

One year ago today (march 21) we pulled into the parsonage driveway in Harper, Kansas, driving a great big moving van.  This marks my 5th year in ministry but my first as a full time, solo pastor.

When I initially came to Harper, I was attracted to the church because I thought I wanted to be a youth pastor.  In fact, I initially told them that I wasn’t interested simply because it was a solo position and not an associate position.  However, the church had (and still does have) a very large youth group which peaked my interest.  It’s what got me in the door.  The youth program is also what consumed the first 6 months of my time and energy as I worked diligently to paint a picture of relational youth ministry for the church.  But in the last several months, I’ve begun to be consumed with other things.  Namely, I’ve spent a large amount of time and pastoral energy on leading the church through a study on Spiritual Gifts.

This has partly led to a shift in how I view myself.

Coming out of Seminary I was pretty focused on being a youth pastor.  For Pete’s sake my degree is MDiv with a youth ministry concentration.  As I considered the possibility of taking a solo position at Pleasant Valley Mennonite Church I had to undergo something of an existential transformation.

Was I a youth pastor, or was I lead pastor?

I spent many an hour talking with trusted friends, teachers and colleagues who knew me well enough to be a mirror into my soul.  After going through seminary, sure I probably had the skills to pull it off, but who was I?  Was my identity that of a youth pastor or of something different.

I have spent the past year asking myself what it means for me to be a solo pastor.

This question has given me pause in some ultimately very helpful ways.  I came to this position a year ago not really knowing what it meant for me to be a solo pastor.  I have often explicitly said that I am still figuring this thing out and that I didn’t want to over extend myself with too many tasks or obligations that I wasn’t sure that I could handle.  Guided by the question “what are the right things for me to be doing” I have worked at figuring out what my routine should look like and where I need to give my time and attention.  It has also meant that I have been conscious to find people to take on tasks that I know that I cannot handle or do not have the time and energy for.

When I began last year I definitely had a focus on youth ministry.  While I haven’t necessarily lost that focus, I have grown into a more well rounded understanding of my job.  This shift has mainly been spurred on by two things; preaching and visiting.

I have now been preaching for an entire year.  On a regular basis.  Every week.  Honestly, I was terrified about what I was going to fill those sermons with.  As it has turned out, I’ve occasionally had some thin sermons, but more often than not, I have to cut myself off so I don’t go too long.  I have come to enjoy preaching, and the process of regularly preparing sermons, much more than I expected to.

I also didn’t expect to enjoy visiting people as much as I do.  Yes I’m extroverted and can be high strung, which means that I’ve usually directed that energy towards the youth.  The idea of visiting people dying in a hospital and home bound nonagenarians didn’t exactly give me goosebumps.  However, after regularly visiting a select group of PVMC’s finest members I have grown to have a deep appreciation for the wisdom and perspective on life that they have.  I have been blessed in a way that I was sincerely not expecting.  All of this adds up to something of a surprising conclusion.

I think I like being a solo pastor.

I still don’t have the administrative skills to be the lead pastor on a large pastoral team, but I have certainly come to enjoy much of the work that the lead/solo pastor position entails.  For someone that thought he was called to work directly with youth, the realization that I actually enjoy all of the other stuff as much or (dare I say it) even more than working with youth is definitely an odd feeling.

Once again, I have been reminded that even though I think I’m being faithful to the calling of God, that God’s plans are usually different, but always better, than my plans.  Ask me again in a year, but one year out I can say that coming to PVMC was still the right decision and that it looks to be that way for quite a while.

Read Full Post »

I was only gone for two years but something in the world changed during that time.  After returning from to Kansas after a two year stint in Seminary in Elkhart, Indiana, I heard Led Zeppelin on the Oldies Station.

To understand the significance of this event, you need to know that when I was growing up in small town Kansas there were a limited number of radio stations to listen to.  While I mainly settled between the modern rock station, T-95, and the classic rock station 96.3 KRZZ, I did pass through some of the various other genre’s every now and then.  I’m not sure why but every now and then I got in the mood to listen to the Oldies station.

Now, let me define what I mean by each of these Genres.  When I last remembered, Modern Rock has tended to include things like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, the White Stripes and basically anything back to the early 90’s.  Classic rock was based mainly in the 70’s and 80’s, Led Zeppelin, Ozzy Ozbourne, and a collection of glam rockers like Scorpion and Quiet Riot.   Oldies, in my recollection was made up of people like Elvis, the Pretenders, anything from Motown, and maybe, on a good day the Beatles.

Then one hot and sunny day as I drove through flat Kansas landscape on my way back to Harper I casually flipped through the radio stations and settled on an old Led Zeppelin tune.  And then it happened.  I looked down at the dial and realized that the station that I was listening to was, in fact, Oldies 103.7.

In that moment it became official, our culture was in the process of a musical shift.  Before my eyes the generations were moving.   What’s more, I’ve  listened to the Oldies station quite a bit more since that day and I’ve noticed that the Beatles, Led Zeppelin and the Doors are now the standard for the Oldies station.

On some level, this is concerning to me because it means that the music that I grew up on is now in severe danger of quickly moving from the Modern Rock category into the Classic Rock category, and thus, is a sign of my own mortality quickly slipping away at the obscene ole’ age of 28.  (Yeah, I know, poor me, right?)  But, being a good grad of Bethel and AMBS, I quickly began to reflect on the implications of this shift as well as the looking back to the music that is now fading off of the radio.

There was once a day when Elvis was considered the spawn of Satan and was the most sexually provocative obscenity to ever corrupt the souls of young people.  Now……..we regularly see advertisements marketed at grandparents using Elvis’s  tune “Viva Las Vegas”  with the words “Viva Viagra”.  My favorite of these commercials took the saying from the 60’s “never trust anyone over 30” and reworded it saying “never trust anyone over 90”.  News Flash to the boomers: you’re not edgy anymore, quit pretending like you haven’t turned into everything that you protested when you were my age.

But it does raise the question about what the definition of “edgy” is.  Elvis made a certain generations blood boil.  Today, rappers and rockers with half naked women in music videos barely raise an eyebrow.  Is it possible that in another 30 years, Nirvana’s song “Smells like Teen Spirit” will be quaint and used to sell my aging generation the next family sedan?

From a youth ministry perspective the trend might actually be of some comfort.  “Don’t worry about the current shocking thing because there will be something even worse later!”  Maybe that’s not comforting….but it’s true.  Growing up the Simpsons were off limits because of their “vulgarity”.  Now there are Bible Studies for high schoolers based around the Simpsons partly because they pale in comparison to South Park and the Family Guy.  There’s a time and a place for shock value.  It’s a necessary tool, especially when it’s used well to open people’s eyes.  Shock value for it’s own sake, however, is rather unimpressive.

I’m well aware that time marches on.  In fact, I’m kind of glad it does.  I don’t really need to repeat certain points in my life and I actually do enjoy where I’m at now.  Every now and then, however, I find myself stumbling across cultural reminders that I have thoroughly moved out of the “young and hip” demographic, even if I haven’t fully moved into the “adult” demographic.

Read Full Post »

Being a man, there are many things in this world that I don’t fully understand.  But the obsession with augmenting our bodies, specifically women’s bodies, has got to stop.

Granted, there have always been some rather twisted things that women have done to make themselves more physically attractive, most of which have been based in particular cultural images of beauty.  There have been times where heavy set women were the ideal of beauty because it meant that they were rich enough to have an excess of food.  Women paint their lips red to mimic high levels of blood flow to the lips that is associated with arousal.  The shaving of body hair is based in our culture’s obsession with youth and the image of a perpetually young woman.  More recently people have had fat sucked out of certain parts of their body only to have it injected in others.  There have been all kinds of foreign substances that we have filled ourselves with for a variety of reasons.  Most disturbing to me is BoTox, which stands for Botulism Toxin and is the same thing that will kill you if you don’t can your vegetables in the right way, but people now inject it into their foreheads to paralyze their muscles to reduce wrinkles.  There’s even a children’s book out now called “My Beautiful Mommy” to help kids cope with a parent who has had plastic surgery and is now unrecognizable.

This week I’ve seen two more things that have really put me over the top.  The first was print advertisement for a plastic surgery center with a very thin woman in a Bikini.  The tag line was “You (only better)”  Really?!  Never mind the theological implications of trying to improve what God created, is this the self image that you really want to impress upon young women, or any women for that matter?

As if that wasn’t bad enough I then saw an advertisement for a new drug treatment for the purpose of lengthening your eyelashes.  It is a glaucoma treatment that they figured out would also cause your eyelashes to grow.  The advertisement is below, but notice the side effects.  One of which is the possibility that it will change your eye color permanently.

Now, it’s not like Men don’t have their share of crazy things marketed to them.  Between Viagra and Enzyte, it seems like every man in America should question their ability to preform in bed.  Or maybe there’s a different problem.  What does it mean to be beautiful or to preform well.  We’ve been sold this unattainable image of beauty for so long that we’re now actually trying to turn ourselves into the Monsters that we so idolize.  Maybe the thing that we should be questioning is our definition of beauty.  There have always been ugly people and beautiful people, but what criteria society has judged them on has varied widely depending on you place in time and what location you find yourself in.

For those who say that the Bible is ancient and irrelevant, let this be a testimony to it’s relevance to modern day life.  In a point in history that surpasses all others in both the message of self loathing and the pressure and ability to augment our physical bodies, the message that every person is created in the image of God and is loved is as profound and earth shaking as it has ever been.

Read Full Post »

Do you ever have a moment where you look in the mirror and ask yourself “how did I get to this point in my life?”  I had one of those about 2 weeks ago.

I had just gotten out of the shower and as I was looking in the mirror it dawned on me that it was the 6 month anniversary from when I began my work at Pleasant Valley Mennonite Church.  This spiraled into my sudden realization that I am now 28, have been married for 5 years, I am finally done with all of my official education and have now been working as a solo pastor for 6 months.

What’s more amazing, it’s not like any of those things just happen (well…except for being 28), they all require a significant amount of intentional energy and focus to accomplish.  Perhaps this is such a strange feeling for me because when you are in the midst of working to all of these goals, you don’t really have a lot of time to process what will happen when you actually achieve them.

So here I am………..now what?

That’s not completely true.  I’m not completely lost.  I am blessed to be working with a church that seems (for the most part) to actually be paying attention to the things I say on a weekly basis and that has (so far), given me the space to be human as well as a pastor.  We are also in the beginning months of a new school year and an exciting youth program that has good leadership who are growing with and leading the youth.

I also recognize that I’m still new at this whole thing.  And by “this whole thing” I mean my job here at PVMC as well as being an adult in general.  I’m sure that many reading this blog will think “ahh, 28, to be young again”.  I’m self aware enough to realize that I’m definitely on the upswing of life.  I’m also old enough to know that I’m not bulletproof anymore and that the superior intellect that I possessed during my adolescence has now begun to wear off.

Life is in a constant state of flux.  But it’s worth stopping every now and then to mark the seasons.

Read Full Post »

This post is primarily for the people who will/already have attended my seminar on parenting and grand-parenting in an age of technology at the 2009 WDC/SCC Women’s Retreat at Camp Mennoscah.  My assumption is that most people who are regular followers of this Blog might already know most of this.  If not, I hope you find this little interactive primer helpful.  Either way, I hope you enjoy.

A word of instruction for the following dictionary

This is something of an interactive list that will hopefully point you to examples on this Blog of what I am describing.  One thing that I will use quite heavily is something called hyperlinking.  (See the full explanation below).  The core of it is that you will be able to click on certain words that are highlighted and you will then be taken to another webpage.   An example.  In the next sentence, the word “here” is a hyperlink that will take you another webpage when you click on it.  My name is Alan Stucky and if you want to check out my other website, click here.  Look for other words along the way that look like this for more links.   Most everything that I have linked to is also footnoted in a traditional format.  The footnotes contain the full web addresses if you are interested.  I will also reference certain things on this webpage, most of which you should see on the right hand side of the screen in the section that runs down the side.


A (short) Digital Dictionary

Text Messaging

–         SMS (Short Messaging System)

–         MMS (Multimedia Messaging System)

–         160 Characters long, based in cell phones.

Instant Messaging

–         Done through a variety of programs that allow you to send text messages quickly between two connected users.

–         MSN Messenger[1] and Yahoo Messenger[2] are the two most common, but it’s a feature built into many other programs.


–         Search engine

–         Allows you to search the Internet using keywords.


–         It allows you to click on a word or picture and it will take you to another web page

–         If you see something in the text that is underlined or a different color.  If you roll your cursor over it, it should turn from an arrow to a finger and then you should be able to click on it.

–         How it’s used.  If I’m writing about my trip to Paris where I went to see the Eiffel Tower, I can link to a website that explains what the Eiffel Tower is, without my having to take the time to describe it.


–         “Wiki” refers to anything where a group of people generate the final product.

–         An online encyclopedia that the content in generated by the users.  Anyone can add or change information.

–         There are some people controls on certain pages and some people who do some fact checking.  The bulk of the work, however, is done by people uploading information and then confirmed by others.

–         There are discussions where changes are tracked and controversies are explained and debated


–        Believe it or not, you’re actually at a Blog right now.  This is simply one entry among many that I’ve posted over time.  On the right hand side of this webpage, all the way at the bottom, is something that says “archives” check there to look at past entries.

–         Abbreviated from Weblog

–         A way of posting (relatively) short pieces of writing on a regular basis.  Similar to a journal that is posted up on the internet for everyone in the world to see.

–         Utilizes RSS (Really Simple Syndication).  RSS creates something called a “feed” which takes the content but not the formatting and allows you to easily distribute it.  An example of this on this webpage is on the right hand column where it says “Forum topics on ‘The Common Root'”.  The Common root is an Anabaptist related blog that I like to follow.  When new topics come up, they are automatically posted into this section of my webpage without me having to do anything.  If you click on any of those links, you will be taken back to the Common Root webpage.  You will notice that the content is the same, but looks very different on my page as opposed to their main page.  What gets transferred is the content, not the formatting (things such as font size, color, etc…)


–         Stands for Videolog.

–         Same idea as a Weblog except centered around videos that people have uploaded to their website or Youtube.

Social Networking Facebook[6], Myspace[7], Mennomeet[8]

–         People create profiles with all kinds of information about themselves.

–         When you become “friends” with someone you can see their information

–         It will also tell you when your friends update, change or add something new to their profile.

–         With most of them, you have to join to do or see anything.

–         Most you can set so that only the people you want to see your stuff can.


–         Cross between Text Messaging and Blogging

–         It creates a feed like a blog that people can read online

–         Limited to 140 characters like a text message and is designed to interface with a cell phone.

–         At National Convention this past year, I sent back Twitter updates from my phone.  On the right side is my Twitter feed.  As I send updates to my Twitter account, anyone who is following me will automatically receive the update, including the little box on this website.


–         Allows anyone to upload a video up to about 10 minutes

–         Makes Vlogging possible

–         Again, you have your own little page with all your videos.


–         Free program that allows people to video conference or make phone calls over the internet

–         Requires high speed internet connection and a web-camera.


–         Ways of symbolizing facial expressions or emotional expression through text

–         Usually, turn your head to the left and you should be able to see a face or some other symbol.[12]


–         Partly driven by the limitations of text and instant messaging.

–         Also helps to conceal what they’re saying from people who don’t know the language.

–         There are various lists of definitions and different forms of code language

–         Basic abbreviations[13]

–         “Leet” language[14]

[1] http://download.live.com/?sku=messenger&mkt=en-us

[2] http://messenger.yahoo.com/

[3] www.google.com

[4] www.wikipedia.org

[5] Examples of online blogging websites include www.blogger.com and www.wordpress.com

[6] www.facebook.com

[7] www.myspace.com

[8] www.mennomeet.com , also as a side note, there is a fun little spoof website called www.mennomeat.com which has some pictures of the MCC meat canner.

[9] www.twitter.com

[10]http://www.youtube.com For a more extended history of youtube and other analysis of the phenomenon of Youtube go to  http://www.youtube.com/mwesch to see some of the videos that Michael Wesch has put together.  Michael Wesch is a professor at K-State.  He has led classes in the past number of years that study the culture of Youtube and analyze it from an anthropological perspective.

[11] www.skype.com

[12] http://www.netlingo.com/smileys.php

[13] http://www.netlingo.com/acronyms.php

[14] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leet

Read Full Post »

This last week there have been physical fights and arrests of people who have been at the town hall meetings set up to learn about and discuss the current proposal for health care reform.

What has our country turned into.  During the Lincoln-Douglas debates each side was given an hour to speak, uninterrupted, to lay out their case.  The opposing side was then given at least another hour to speak and lay out their case.  By the early 80’s, what passed for national discourse or debate was 30 second rebuttals to 1 minute soundbites.  And now…..well, we’re just shouting obscenities from the crowd.

In certain circles there has been much propaganda around the “death clause” of the health care bill.  Many have made it out to seem that the government is going to be killing people to save on costs.  I have a friend in seminary who actually took the time to do the research on the bill to see what it actually says.  You will notice that there are even footnotes included, to the bill, not to some pundit.  Here is his original post.


Authored by Justin King, Elkhart, In

Health Care Reform Bill (H.R. 3200) and the “Death Clause”

In response to the “Deather Movement” I decided to look into the purported “Death Clause” in House Resolution 3200, introduced to the House on July 24, 2009. I should note that I did not read the entire bill. It is 1017 pages long and I do not have the time to read another 1000 pages on top of other research I have to do for my thesis.

It took some searching to find out exactly where this clause was, but after searching http://www.factcheck.org I was able to find an article checking the facts of the claim that HR 3200 contains “a provision that would require that ailing seniors be pressed to consider suicide in order to save the taxpayers’ money on Medicare.” [1]

The article notes that this purported clause is on pg. 425. Rather than rely on commentaries I decided to look into the bill myself. The bill is public record and is available online. (http://energycommerce.house.gov/Press_111/20090714/aahca.pdf)

Upon reading through the provision on pages 424-430, it is clear to me that the Deather movement is completely wrong.

The point of the clause is not to save the taxpayer money by encouraging older US citizens to not seek treatment. Instead it says that money will provided for counseling for a patient who has decided to no longer seek further treatment. Almost all of us have experienced this is some way, be it the signing of a do not resuscitate order or when an older relative decides to no longer seek treatment of a terminal condition. The clause provides for the education of those involved in the individuals decision to no longer seek treatment. [2]

What is really interesting is section F notes that “an explanation of orders regarding life sustain treatment or similar orders,” is necessary.[3] This explanation requires “reasons why the development of such an order is beneficial to the individual and the individual’s family.[4] It also requires health care experts to explain “the information needed for an individual or legal surrogate to make informed decisions regarding the completion of such an order.”[5]

The point is that an individual makes the decision to no longer seek treatment and is then given counseling. The Deathers would have us believe that the counselors show up uninvited and convince folks to pull the plug.

The medical order is initiated by the individual and then “is signed and dated by a physician…and is in a form that permits it to stay with the individual and be followed by health care professionals across the continuum of care.” [6] It also ensures that “the individual’s preferences regarding life sustaining treatment” is clearly communicated.[7]

The five years which Betsy McCaughey claims is when the government shows up and talks you into pulling the plug is actually meant to ensure that the orders that the health care professionals have are accurate and reflect the desires of the individual at that point in their life, instead of where the individual was five years ago.

All bills submitted to any level of the government are public record and are freely available to all US citizens for review. Hey America, shut off Keith Olbermann and Glenn Beck and check things out for yourself instead taking everyting that comes from FOX and MSNBC as gospel truth.

It’s time to debate the merits of this bill based on what it says combined with political philosophy/theory , and not on lies, half truths and partisan bull.



[1] “False Euthanasia Claims,” http://www.factcheck.org/2009/07/false-euthanasia-claims/. Accessed 08/11/2009.
[2] See HR 3200, 425, sections A-E, on the purpose of the clause and the type of counseling to be provided by the bill.
[3] HR 3200, 426.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Ibid., 429.
[7] Ibid.

The only real addition that I would have would be to say this. My wife, the nurse, and I have talked about this clause numerous times. One thing that is worth noting/adding, is that the reason this clause is needed is because currently, Medicare won’t pay for you doctors time to discuss end of life issues. I’m not sure why, but when your grandma goes to have her physical and asks a question about what it means to have a DNR, what medication options are to dull the pain of the cancer that’s taking her life or other essential questions…..sorry, that cost is on grandma. Seeing as everyone in this country will, in fact, eventually die, this clause is not only justified but is incredibly important to close a disturbing loophole.
Of additional interest to the Mennonite community.  Here is the link to the document that MCUSA just passed regarding health care.
This issue really matters.  Shouting is not going to get us where we need to go.  Please, turn down the volume.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »