John Walker's Electronic House

Merry Easter

by on Mar.23, 2008, under The Rest

So John, what’s up with you?

How kind of you to ask. I’ll tell you.

Life’s changed a bit of late. And I get a strong feeling it’s going to keep changing really rather a lot. My brain’s been in a bit of a sleepy rut for a couple of years, and appears to be waking up again. Which proves a positive experience.

A rather huge part of this is involving myself in a church for the first time in a long time. An unpleasant time at the church I worked for until nearly three years ago left me pretty bitter, and pretty unforgiving. This in turn led to a peculiar hardening of my faith, which petrified into a primarily intellectual, and fairly redundant rock. With this, my passion faded: passion for almost everything. I’ve always been, and for the foreseeable future will always be, a hefty ranter. But what made such exercised moments worthwhile was the passion behind them, rather than the mindless anger that replaced it. Angry rocks aren’t very good at much. I disappeared up inside my own anxiety, and haven’t been the most enthusiastic friend to many.

I’ve not been completely shit. I’m a decent enough person. But I think even friends who would rather I minced myself headfirst than was involved in Christianity will agree I’ve faded. I guess I’ve learned two aspects of myself: What matters when it’s gone, and what I suck at when I try to do it on my own. So what’s this, this overtly personal post on a public blog? It’s a form of confession. It’s a declaration of intent. It’s a deeply embarrassing thing to write to someone who Googled my name after disagreeing with a review in PC Gamer.

Ok, so two topics.

1) Church

Give me a millennia, and I’ll give you a lecture on everything that’s wrong with church. But tell me to shut up and stop being such a moron and I might listen for long enough to remember everything that’s right about it. However, one lament that I’ve always had, and is probably even valid, would be my frustration at the mediocrity of the teaching. I wish to be challenged, to be charged to think. Not reassured and patronised. I have been phenomenally fortunate and found a church (thanks entirely to Jo) where the teaching is just fantastic. Theological, intelligent, difficult, and set in reality. This is doubled by the remarkably warm and welcoming nature of the place. There ARE decent churches out there. This is my message to the world.

2) The Future

So, I have this first class honours degree. It’s in Youth And Community Work & Applied Theology. I really haven’t done anything with it. I haven’t really known what to do with it. I still don’t know. But I’ve always had one passion, one idea I know with a certainty is a good one, and one I really should get on with. A phenomenon of this country is that we offer nothing for teenagers to do after school. I mean nothing. The immediate face of this problem are the media and parliament’s favourite complaint: “youths”. Hanging around outside our Spars, scaring the elderly with their hoods. But these are the groups that are addressed, and joyously so. Projects, as few and under-funded as they are, exist. People are noticing. But there’s a group that aren’t noticed. The kids who aren’t upsetting the neighbours or nicking the KitKats. To have a heart for these young people is remarkably unapproved of. They’re rich and comfortable and fine! Some are. But they’re also bored out of their brains, living in a cycle of school, homework and school again. These teenagers have powerful minds that we utterly ignore. Others aren’t, and they’re struggling, and we won’t step in to support them until they’ve cross the dangerous lines. I have a passion for these people – PEOPLE – who deserve attention.

Something I’ve always wanted to create is an after-school space for young people to hang out in, with one key phrase to define its tone: “A place where young people feel safe enough to do their homework.” It’s an odd phrase, but for me it’s always defined what I’m after. So every time I read or see anything about Dave Eggers’ 826 Valencia project – a San Fransisco based after-school programme for local high school kids where they can do their homework with one-to-one supervision – it calls to me like a beacon. He’s figured it out. He’s created that space.

I think the same is possible here.

Below is a video of a lecture Eggers gave to the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference after he won the TED Prize. It explains 826 from inception to its current state as a project that’s appearing all over the States, and is associated with many similar enterprises. (I’ve been to the one in Chicago, The Boring Store, and took many photographs).

12 Comments for this entry

  • Tedi Worrier

    Metamorphosis can be a painful process … but unless the grubby, squirmy thing becomes the impervious chrysalis from which…. ! well, let’s just keep very quiet and watch in fascination as things unfold

  • botherer

    Thanks for calling me a grubby, squirmy thing, dad!

    : )

  • km

    I’m really proud of you. I’ve told you that on chat, but I’d like to go on record. That being said, I look forward to not discussing religion with you again in the future like in the good old days ;)

  • Nick Mailer

    Millennium, not millennia. Unless you want to take more than one in your disputations.

  • Matt

    I wish you all the best in fulfilling your dream, John.

  • Martin

    Good for you, chap. Someone needs to sort these Damn Kids out. I certainly couldn’t do it – I didn’t understand being a teenager and I don’t understand them now. Squalid little proto-bastards. Nonetheless, I’m glad that there are superb humans such as yourself willing to step up to the plate and help to put right that which I am too louche and unsympathetic to consider. I hope it brings you some measure of satisfaction at the same time!

    Botherer-Bot… ACTIVATE!

  • Nick Mailer

    No, it isn’t as you said it was. Post hoc rationalisation.

  • Hugh Walker

    Getting the grown-ups to accept that there is any problem at all is my main problem here in the leafy suburbs of surrey … they assure me that THEIR youth get up to perfectly respectable pastimes that do not involve underage drinking nor hanging around streets being moved on by police

  • Iain "DDude" Dawson

    Two of the most difficult topics, religion and “youth”, and yet I seem to agree with what you say. Good luck.

    And if all fails, you can look to Dexter, provide him with a ball of yarn, (if these things exist in anything other than fable,) and giggle. Giggle like a man!

  • Hugh Walker

    …of course the “grubby, squirmy thing” is analogy not simile, but if you reject that then you must also reject the prospect of the Beautiful Thing that will emerge.

    And at risk of embarrassing you further I must tell you here how very, very proud I am of you and all you stand for.
    Praying for you and your plans, as always

    love Dad
    (I realise that you may NEVER let me post on your blog again but what is said is said and needed saying)

  • Mrs Trellis

    Now you’ve made John cry – let alone Baby Jesus.

  • Jakk

    A couple of years? I’ve noted no articles from you on The Escapist for about that long, aye. Good luck in all you do, and may you.. wake up again.

    – Jakk