Tuesday, April 26, 2005

A marred trip

I just got back from a trip to one of my favorite cities in the world, San Antonio Texas. Sadly I didn't get to enjoy it as much as usual. Even worse one of the major reasons I didn't enjoy myself was because of the bad behavior of a group of young people.
For those of us who work with young people it's especially painful when we see them living down to every stereotype. In this case it wasn't high school aged youth but college young adults. In fact members of the Delta Sigma Phi fraternity and their girlfriends. Like all members of Greek letter societies they wear their logos proudly so there's no doubt in my mind. The hotel staff also apologized for the behavior of the "fraternity" that was there.
A large group of them were staying in the hotel and most of them were on my floor. How bad were they? One morning when I made an off hand comment about wanting to take a baseball bat to some of my neighbors the clerk at the front desk looked at me, asked if I was on the tenth floor (yes) and then said "Go ahead". Seems I wasn't the only one with complaints. Complaints about the rampaging up and down the halls till 3, 4 or 5 AM, the drunkenness, the loud sex, the banging doors and apparently , based on comments from the hotel staff, a certain level of destruction. I could just imagine trying to convince some adult with doubts about raising up more young leaders after they'd had to spend a night trying to get some sleep.
Please don't get me wrong. I was willing to let them have some fun. It was Thurs, Fri and Sat nights during Fiesta in San Antonio. Rocking and rolling till midnight or even 1 AM would be within my limits (which are more generous than some folks). But some of us had work to do and needed sleep. Simple common courtesy should have kicked in at some point. If you want to party all night long find a night club. And there was no place to move for me since the hotel was full.
So in the end my attitude towards fraternities stayed the same (very low. I've known some outstanding individuals Greeks but I was GDI in college). And I realize that my efforts to get young people taken seriously is even harder. Not only because of the effect of other folks but because of the effect on me. It's inevitable that the next time a group of youth start whooping it up late into the day I'm gonna think:

It's San Antonio all over again.

Who wants those kinds of thoughts associated with your favorite city?

Thanks a lot Delta Sigma Phi.


Thursday, April 21, 2005

A flying adventure

Greetings to everyone from beautiful San Antonio Texas. I'm down here for a meeting with some great folks involved with youth ministry in the Episcopal church. Wasn't hard to convince me since San Antonio is one of my favorite cities in the world.

No adventures to report so far. Which is nice after the Colorado trip! We did get delayed flying out of Cincinnati when something in the wings that was apparently pretty important malfunctioned. The replaced while we sat on the runway. The only note was that we were carrying some avian breeding stock. Otherwise known as chicks! They were making a lot of noise back in the baggage area (which is pressurized, keep your blood pressure under control) and we could hear them through the rear bulkhead. Kinda weird.

The other note is that I've finally moved into the late 20th Century with my travel luggage. A friend of mine (credit where credit is due - Brian Prior...ahem....properly the Rev. Brian Prior)told me that I needed to get a rolling bag. The kind with the little wheels on it. This is my first trip with my new bag, and I'm never going back! So much less strain on the back and shoulders. Very nice.

So time to go back to the great food and company, and actually get some sleep!


Wednesday, April 13, 2005

A Modest Proposal

I know when I first took my job with the diocese that I puzzled some people by making one of my very first pronouncements that I didn't like "Youth Sundays". This was a fine old tradition, got our young people up in front of the congregation, gave them the chance to lead and read and usually preach. And some of those sermons were first rate too! Yet my clear preference was for the demise of Youth Sunday.
When people looked a little deeper they discovered that my objection was that too often such Sundays were little more than window dressing. Once a year we trotted out the trained youth, put them through their paces and sent them back to their corner. That is diametrically opposed to my view of how we should be involving our young people in the life of the church. They should be involved, in every way they are permitted by canon and custom, and to every degree they are capable, all year long. If they are part of the overall congregation and visible all year long then the need for the annual dog and pony show disappears.

So do I really want to eliminate this chance for our young people to take leadership roles at worship? Actually the answer is no. I was involved in an old school Youth Sunday and it was kinda cool.
I just think we need to change the way we do it.

Here's my modest proposal for change:

Let's go to two Sundays a year. Let's call them Recognition Sundays. In the spring we honor our seniors, High School and college, if we have any otherwise it's a regular Youth Sunday idea. We recognize and celebrate our young people and their involvement in our community. One of the best and brightest (by whatever standards the congregation chooses to use) is give the chance to preach. Young people involved in church, school, and other leadership type roles are recognized and appreciated by their community of faith.

In the fall we do a slightly different one. The seniors we recognize are our elder members. Folks who have lived and learned and led us. The preacher this time is one of these elders, given the chance to speak to the congregation. We recognize members who have served long and sometimes in many capacities but often without much fan fare.

The preachers both times are given the chance to speak their hearts to the congregation. To remember, to teach, to challenge. I would hope that they would be both uplifting and unsettling.

Now we recognize both our future and our past and pay respect to both. Now Youth Sunday is no longer a dog and pony show where the youth get trotted out but are now part of a larger celebration by their home congregation. I'll bet there's some way that the two age groups might be able to work together to symbolize all the body of the church.

Hey, youth and seniors working together in church? What a concept!


Tuesday, April 05, 2005

A question to ponder

Things have been hectic here. A snow storm blew through dumping an early spring load on us. In the heart of the snow belt they got up to three feet in just a weekend. That's impressive even to the jaded meteorological snobs here in WNY. So now it's all melting and everything is mud. Such fun.

Now the question du jour. The set up:
I notice a leftover bag of "goldfish" the snack food sitting in the kitchen here at the office. Feeling tired I gave into temptation and finished them off (not too terrible a sin since there was only a cup and a half left) As I finished I lifted the bag to eye level to make sure that I had done my due diligence and finished them off completely. Among the golden crumbs were some black specks, in fact a whole bunch of black specks. I looked a little closer (removing my glasses to focus in close - you may keep your age-ist remarks to yourself)and realized the "specks" were.......

Ants. A couple dozen dead, black ants.

So here's the question to ponder:

Should I be more upset that there were ants in my snack food,


That they were all dead?