Thursday, June 23, 2005

A week Away

Well I've kinda caught up with this being my THIRD post of the week! Hope it makes up for not having a new post next week again. This time I have an excuse (other than carelessness or senility). I will be at our Senior High Conference next week. I am the conference director so I'll be hopping at times - and comatose the rest. It's a great event and we've got 41 young people signed up for it! That's very exciting after a difficult year last year. At the moment I'm into my last minute melt down mode, trying desperately to remember to bring, pack, prepare everything. I'm having DREAMS about camp! If you'd like to see what our conference looks like click on the title for this post and it'll take you there.

So I'll be back after the 4th of July. Till then I hope you have a great week and keep us in your prayers!


Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Offered without Comment

Today the Episcopal Church (USA) will be making a presentation to the Anglican Consultative Council. The text of that presentation (a .pdf of 135 pages) is available at the link in the title of this entry.

I offer it without comment for your consideration.


Monday, June 20, 2005

For the Captain

Since yesterday was Father's Day I keep being nagged by the feeling that I should write something about my dad. I just don't know where to begin.

My dad has reached an almost "legendary" status in the family and I'm not sure I really want to continue down that road. He was human and a very real person. I can only imagine that he'd be less than impressed by having been reduced to a "legend".

My father was, as I commonly say, an engineer by training and a Naval officer by choice. He was a very intelligent man and one who believed in precision and discipline. His nickname is my given name and I look and sound like him. There's a picture from last fall where I look so much like him that it's a little frightening. It's made me realize that there's a part of me that doesn't want to look like the old man. Part of that comes with the name and the looks. I've been "little" J and "young" J and JD (to his JK) for most of my life. Being held up to that standard has always felt like an impossible burden. Even with "The Captain" gone for five years it still feels like I 'm just not going to live up to him. And I think that would make him sad.

I don't think that Pop ever wanted us (three boys in my family) to feel like he was setting us up to fall short. In fact I'm sure that his goal was to set us up to succeed. To have the discipline needed to survive the hard times and use our intelligence to guide us through the good times. I know that he took the task of parenthood very seriously. Looking back maybe we would have better off if he'd taken it just a shade less seriously. But he was a serious person.

I see a lot of him in me and my brothers, both good and bad. We've all gone our own ways, done our own things and on balance have done pretty well for ourselves. While some folks look at us, so reserved and quiet mostly, and think that we're not very close I know that's not true. In times of trouble my brothers have been there for me and I know that I can trust them completely. I hope they feel the same way about me. Not a day goes by when I don't think about them. And my dad. I see his negatives too. We can be brusque and none of us tolerate fools. Period. We're not real good at getting all emotionally expressive and don't trust that part of our personalities much. Big emotional displays will pretty much put us into shut down mode till we can "move on". I'm not apologizing for that, it's who we are. There are advantages and disadvantages to it. It can make it hard on the folks around us that we love. If I had to chose two guys to have on either side of me when the troubles begin they would be at the top of the list.

So I can't get away from who my father was because it's very much caught up in who I am. After five years I miss him, even the times when he made me feel like an idiot schoolboy. I was finally getting to the point where I could catch him out sometimes too. He loved cars, and intelligent people. If you were his friend it was for life. His friends are still some of the most amazing people I've ever known. As was he.

He married a pretty incredible woman too. I'll probably talk about her sometime too.

On Father's day I remembered my daddy, my pop, my daughter's "Grandpa Captain Sir"

Jack K Phillippi, USNR (dec)


Friday, June 17, 2005

The subject of marriage

My friend Mindi is feeling the stress about marriage. A young man who used to be in my youth group just got married. I just realized that I will be traveling next year on my 24th wedding anniversary. Seems like marriage has been a recurring thought of late. So maybe it's time for me to talk it out.

First my former youth getting married - I've known John since he was about 6 and he was a handful and a half. One year on retreat when he was middle school age he got into a huge row with the kid he was rooming with that blew up into a confrontation with me and the other adults. John never had any of the "big" problems but he sometimes seemed to have a full portion of the "small" problems of growing up. And there he stood, in white tuxedo, so emotional about marrying the woman he loves that tears were streaming down his face. John really has grown up into a helluva nice guy, one that I'm proud to say is now a friend. Watching "my kids" grow and get married makes me feel old. But it also makes me fall in love with marriage all over again.

Mindi is feeling the cultural heat, I think, of a woman past a certain age that hasn't been married yet. Like somehow she's not a complete person. What a crock. As much as I love being married I've watched too many folks I know get married for the wrong reasons. (The list of "wrong reasons" to get married could fill a good sized book so I won't go into them here. I bet you can come up with a fairly complete list on your own) Putting pressure on ourselves and our loved ones (but do we really love someone that we inflict these kinds of ridiculous expectations on?) to get married just....well, stupid, hurtful to the people involved and disrespectful to the institution of marriage. I hope and pray that the right person for Mindi comes along and they sweep each other mutually off their feet for a lifetime of crazed happiness.

Let me take a minute to talk about the disrespect for marriage. It starts with a glorification of weddings. This needs to be clear - a wedding is a one day event, marriage is intended to be the rest of your life. The current ongoing and growing rage for creating "fairy tale" weddings that are ever more grandiose and expensive is, in my opinion, an incredibly bad idea and disrespectful to marriage. When your wedding is "perfect" (spare me)and glorious and wonderful, how do you survive the day to day mundane rest of your life? How can it not suffer? Why would you not look at that other person shuffling out of bed in the morning with pillow head, puffy eyes and scruffy clothes and not find them seriously lacking in comparison to the vision that stood next to you at your wedding. Beyond that is the huge monetary outlay for a one day event instead of investing that money in the future of the couple. I'm a firm believer that marriages would be better off with simpler ceremonies followed by handing the young couple a check for the balance.

Every time I attend a wedding ceremony the words bring tears to my eyes and I end up holding hands with my wife. The vows I made that day over 23 years ago still have a hold on me. My lady wife and I have been through sickness and health in that time, I've been unemployed twice (so far), so has she, we're finishing up raising a child to adult hood (with that set of adventures), moved 7 times (so far)and in the end still find out greatest joy in one another. Just the sound of her voice still kicks up my heart rate, and doing anything is more fun if we do it together.

The longer I write the more thoughts I have about marriage but I'll knock it off now. With one last thought - I believe that the largest cause of divorce is not taking marriage seriously enough. Not so much DURING but BEFORE folks get married. We've made it all about the wrong things so we shouldn't be surprised when it blows up. There's wisdom in the old saw "Marry in haste, repent at leisure".


blog tag

I saw this on Rev Ref's blog and took the challenge. Like him I won't "tag" someone (this is the blogosphere I don't got to follow no stinkin' rules!)but if you're passing through and would like to play go for it.

I couldn't resist because it's about books.

How many books do you own?

Umm, hundreds? And that doesn't count the hundreds I've given away because I run out of space. And my lady wife owns hundreds more and my daughter probably owns a hundred by herself. Yes, her father's house is full of book shelves.

What is the last book you bought?

Umm, wow. Let's see Mike Yacconelli's "Messy Spirituality" and Brian D. McLaren's "a Generous Orthodoxy". I was just given four books. So I now have something like 12 books sitting in a stack that I'm trying to get to.

What is the last book you read?

That I've finished was Yac's book from above. I'm most of the way through Stephen King's book "On Writing" for the third time. If you write I recommend it.

Name five books that mean alot:

Malcolm Boyd's "Are You Running With Me Jesus" and "Human Like Me". Both profoundly formative when I was a teenager. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" but I'll only count it as one book because I really think that's the way it was conceived. Kevin Lehman's book (Dr. Kevin Lehman to give him his due honor. Which isn't something Kevin worries about) "The Birth Order Book". Told me a LOT about why I am the way I am. And finally a book I have read and re-read and re-read for years. The People's Almanac editted by Wallechinsky and Wallace. Yes I was the kid who read the encyclopedia as a kid (Collier's Universal) and I love these kinds of books filled with trivia and history and whatever. I'm a geek, I know and I'm proud.

If you want to take up the challenge of the game, leave a comment telling me you're doing it and I promise I'll come read yours.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Struggling on...

My apologies for missing a post last week. I've gotten into a groove making sure that I get something up on the blog every week and I feel badly when I miss. I've got several ideas perking around in my head ready to pour forth in the near future so maybe I can make up for it.

The reason I missed is camp. The run up to camp always feels like a death by a thousand cuts. My office is stacked with boxes as I try to remember to bring everything this year (hasn't happened yet. If I call home during the first couple days of camp my wife answers the phone with "What did you forget?"), my desk is littered with applications, health forms, scholarship forms, notes, phone messages, bills, contracts and I'm not sure what all else. At any given moment I'll have a dozen different thoughts clamoring for attention in my brain and the fevered certainty that I'm going to forget the most important one, or three, or five. Camp is a great experience and I really enjoy it at many levels but it exhausts me starting weeks before the event. (In fact I should be working on camp stuff right now. There are, let me check... 10 applications sitting on my desk, a phone message about a camper who indicated the wrong camp on her application, minutes from three meetings I need to type up, packages of materials that need to be assembled and sent to the staff of the first camp. Which is coming up in 10 days. I expect to be huddled under my desk giggling before 3 this afternoon)

I do have a little better grip on the "WHY" of this phenomenon today. On Monday I worked through a gifts discernment process that was pretty cool. We used "The 3 Colors of Ministry" by Christian Schwarz. What I discovered is that I do NOT have the gift of organization. This surely comes as no surprise to several of my previous employers and my wife's response to the news was a snort. Not in the top five, nor even the top ten. I tested out with organization in the lower half in fact. We were taught that doesn't mean I can't learn organizational skills just that I don't have a(and never will) gift for it. In fact I've kind of known that all along. My life became easier as I created spreadsheets to coordinate all the information that comes in. I have routines I use and I've learned to WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN!. But it's still hard. I enjoy blue skying new events, I enjoy defining the outlines of how to do them, and working on the underlying theology and philosophy. In the end someone has to get down to the nitty gritty details. And the joy just flees for me. I grind away at it, procrastinate about it until I get behind and then I get angry and frustrated.

So I need to stop writing this and get to it. There's only 10 days left. Plus after this camp is our national youth gathering and I have things to prepare for it. Then there's another camp, followed by two camps in the same week. That's a lot of details waiting for me. Thousands more cuts still to come.


What gifts did I test out with? Top five are: Artistic/Creative, Teaching, Knowledge (the ability to develop new ideas that are useful to the church), Wisdom (the ability to apply what comes from Knowledge in real life terms), and Apostle (the gift of leadership on a larger scale). Not a bad set of gifts for a youth missioner. We also looked at the "latent" gifts, those that are sort of just bubbling under the surface and can be strengthened. They are Craftsmanship (working with my hands) Shepherding(the gift of making a long term commitment to a group), Leadership (curiously 68% of folks who have this gift also have the gift of Organization!), Evangelism, and Music.

So when I get a moment I'll think some more about these gifts. In the meantime there's some work to be done.


Thursday, June 02, 2005

Of Bats and confusion

A couple things to share.

I learned years ago that if I was to have any chance of getting everything done I had to write it down. There is a constantly updated list of tasks sitting on my desk reminding me of what I need to do, want to do, have promised to do. The current iteration is 14 tasks long (with several items that are also multiples so the number of jobs to do is actually about 20). Or so I thought. I was just reviewing it to see what had to be done NOW and noticed that #8 read "Clear Pile", referring to the pile of paper that always builds up on the right hand corner of my desk. Further down at #11 is the notation "Clear Pile". I haven't gotten to the pile yet, but my list just got one job shorter! Life is good. LOL.
(OK, I felt guilty and actually cleared the pile. Or at least sifted it, filed appropriately and got it under control)

We had a bat come visit us at home last night. Our apartment is the second floor of a century old farm house and we get a visitor a year. At the first sign of something flying my lady wife and teenaged daughter scurry (there is no other word for it) into a room that is 1: Bat free, and 2: has a door that latches. Remember this is an OLD house and not all the doors shut securely. Then they call me. To rescue them.


Can I admit that bats give me the willies too? One of my first jobs was as a dishwasher at camp (the "Kitchen Boys" were the absolute TOP of the social ladder at this camp. Don't ask me why. It was the pinnacle of my teen years when I made the grade and was chosen as a kitchen boy). One of our tasks was chasing down the bats that got into the main house periodically. That building was also the girls dorm so we were all the girls hero, plus we got to trespass in restricted space (hmmm, maybe this whole kitchen boy social thing is making more sense now!) So I've been in the bat business for a while. And they still make my skin crawl.

Don't get me wrong I know that this part of the country would be virtually un-livable without our little brown buddies. I know that they are no more likely to be a rabies carrier than any other wild animal I run into, and that the bat is no more thrilled about being in my house than I am to have him there. But I much prefer them outside!

So my little brown buddy was hanging from a crack in the wall when I got home and was very calm while I prepared myself. In fact he was so calm I couldn't get him to fly when I needed him to! It took the usual 10 minutes to herd him into the direction I wanted (toward the open door. Praying all the time "Don't any more come in, don't any more come in!") Then another five frustrating minutes when he just REFUSED to fly low enough to go out the door. I always feel sorry at this point because I know the animal is frightened and just wants to get away from this lunatic human. Finally he fled and I quickly closed various doors and windows and told my two girls they could come out.

As has become tradition I'm greeted with the words "Our hero" and big hugs.

So I guess this bat chasing stuff has its advantages.