From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Youth attend Brethern Citizenship Seminar

From George Conklin <>
Date 27 May 1996 14:52:38

Citizenship seminar probes biblical values, media myths  

Nevin Dulabaum,     (847) 742-5100 
Director of News Services 
Church of the Brethren

Washington - How do youth sum up this year's Christian Citizenship Seminar
(CCS), sponsored by Youth Ministry and the Washington Office?

Here are reflections of five participants:  

Angela Lahman, Glendale, Ariz. Eighty Church of the Brethren
youth and advisors gathered first in New York City and then in
Washington, D.C., April 13-18. The purpose was not to test how
many of us could squish into the Vanderbilt YMCA elevator without
becoming stuck. Instead, the seminar was to begin a Church of the
Brethren dialog on "Biblical Values and Media Myths."     
   These youth, all included in what opening speaker Howard Royer
called a "mediated generation," responded to presentations on
media literacy, the persuasion of advertising, violent acts shown
in programming, and portrayal of gender roles in media. The
climax came in discussing media issues and tobacco advertising
with our respective senators and representatives.  

Meg Fuchs, Lancaster, Pa. Media literacy has little to do with
the ability to read, as I mistakenly thought upon arriving at
CCS. Bob McCannon, director of the New Mexico Media Literacy
Project, taught us to question and analyze media presentations.   
   As I watched McCannon put a glutinous mass of sugar (exactly
10 teaspoons) to dissolve in 12 ounces of bottled water, I felt sick,
realizing I consumed this mixture in every bottle of Coke. Coke's
"nauseatingly cute" polar bear family completely suckered me -- I never cared
what I was drinking. I'm far more aware now of the importance of actively
analyzing television and consumerism, not merely zoning in front of the tube
and allowing all sorts of garbage to seep into my mind.  

Heather Harper, Jacksonville, Fla. CCS was, for me, a time to
refocus my obligation as a Christian growing up in today's society,
surrounded by influences that many of my parents' generation never
encounteredmedia bombardment among them.      
   The prime thing that stuck with me is that the media are here
and are not going anywhere anytime soon. No matter how much we
try to avoid or ignore the media, they are influencing our lives and the
lives of those around us. As Christian citizens, it is up to us to work
toward creating a media environment that will positively influence our world.

Fred Edmonds, Downers Grove, Ill. The media statistics we heard
were enlightening. One that was both funny and scary was that the
average attention span of a child and a teenager is seven minutes
-- the same time it is from the beginning of a TV show to the first
   Upon returning home I went to a coffee with the mayor and city
council at our local library. I did express my ideas and felt people
listened. It gave me a good feeling to discover I could express my ideas and
challenge the world.  

Seth Good, Annville, Pa. With the help of Howard Royer, Stewart
Hoover, Bob McCannon, Mary Byrne Hoffman, Ramona Pence, and White House
staffers Marilyn Yager and Barbara Woolley, we examined media's impact on us,
debated the V-chip that will allow parents to block shows, and discussed the
Hollings bill to reduce violence in children's prime watching times.
   One memory that stands out is of a group of us huddled
together at night on the Staten Island ferry. With wind whipping
across our faces and spatterings of rain moistening our clothes,
we burst forth with songs of peace and unity. As we neared the
shore, a couple came and listened to us; I could tell they found
joy in our singing.      
   This moment symbolizes what our role as Christians should be
and how we can help to present a constructive atmosphere -- media if you will
-- by witnessing to the life that is open to all of

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