Manual Striking Out: The Religious Journey of Teenage Boys

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The bundle provides a simple, yet profound way to incorporate the Advent story into your services this December.

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The high priest entered the holy of holies, but once a year, to atone for the sin of Israel. And yet on the first Christmas, there in the stable, Mary and Joseph sat in the presence of the living God, a little baby completely dependent on two new, tired parents. The fifth reading of Advent reminds us to come to the manger with a sense of wonder at how God brought about the redemption of the world. If home is where the heart is, then our true home is with the heart of God, for He sent His Son to dwell with us and make our home with us.

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In a world where so many long for a safe and peaceful home life, this reading for the first week of Advent reminds us of our true home and our true hope. This reading, for the third week in Advent, reminds us to come to the manger with joy.

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This reading, for the fourth week of Advent, reminds us of the love of God that opens up a way for redemption. The world around us is filled with trouble. We all know people who face incredible challenges, just as we have anxieties and struggles in our own life. This reading, for the second week of Advent, is a reminder that Jesus is the Prince of Peace who brings a lasting, unshakable peace, no matter what we face. This readers theater tells the story of John, who thinks he is perfect and looks down on everyone else.

A series of events on Christmas Eve turn him from a bitter, judgmental man to one who's willing to acknowledge his imperfections and accept help from others.

A barista grows frustrated when several customers don't understand the true meaning of Christmas, until finally someone enters who gets that it's all about celebrating the birth of Jesus. As a playwright struggles with how to best dramatize keeping Christ in our hearts beyond the holiday season, the scene comes to life on the stage.

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In this comedy, the three wise men go to a store looking for the perfect baby gift for the Messiah but can't seem to find something worthy of a King. A Wise Man recounts his quest for nobility, only to find a newborn baby in a manger. He remembers how they bowed down in worship to the King of Kings who lay before them. In the middle of the night, Isaiah has a conversation with God about what God is calling him to tell the Israelites.

Joseph cares for Jesus in the stable and tells the story of his visit from an angel as he basks in the joy that the infant Savior brings to him. Band-Aid for a Sneeze. This is the song that runs under my skydiving video.

Paul Washer thumps teenagers who act like boys.

We tend to forget Kristin Scott Thomas. The year before, a bunch of us snuck successfully into The Breakfast Club by buying tickets to Places in the Heart. You know how groups of year-old boys enjoy a good Depression-era Sally Field—Danny Glover farm drama. We were taught by a strict group of Benedictine monks, most of whom were British and all of whom were empowered to smack us right in the head, hands, or backside if we were sassy, which we mostly were.

Striking Out

We wore ties every day, we always had to be on a sports team, our school day went from to It was like the military, but the drill sergeants wore robes. Far more rigid than the monks were the boys. Mean girls are legendary in our culture, but put a bunch of teenage males under one roof and see what happens. It was a conformity factory, because the price of nonconformity was attention, and the attention of a building full of pubescent boys in ties is not the kind of thing you want.

I kept my head down. But that summer, I enrolled in the creative-writing program of a summer school for artsy kids, and the tie came off. The weird were in charge here.

I spent the whole six weeks of this program with a smile so wide even the drama kids were like: dial it back. If you told me it was cooked up in an hour by a small-market Morning Zoo team, I would have no choice but to believe you. From Motorhead.

Middle-aged rock legends making compromises: hot hot hot in It was like watching a torturously slow breakup between a person who is ready to move on and a person who is absolutely not going to be okay. Simply Fred wore black turtlenecks almost exclusively, despite the punishing St. Louis heat. He gesticulated wildly with his hands, which he tucked into his sleeves, giving him the effect of an inflatable dancing man outside of a goth used car dealership.

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I closely monitored my every word, my every gesture, my every letter S , but Simply Fred let it all hang out. He was proud of himself. He was too gay to function, and yet he functioned. As a teenage boy. In To this day, I fear and envy Simply Fred. There was not yet a word for the music I was falling in love with, which made it feel even more like it had been made just for me.

In the summer of , the teenaged record-buying American public spoke with one voice, and it was the voice of a year-old dental hygienist named Pam. They were their own Kidz Bop. This is what our culture is missing right now. This is the void they should have pushed Malaya Watson into on American Idol.