Friday, July 22, 2005

To Kentucky I go

Wow three posts in a week, close to a record!

Time for me to start packing up for the Episcopal Youth Event (EYE). Think 1,300 people, mostly high school youth, from 85 diocese with 55 bishops wandering around loose! Just about the most fun you can have with your clothes on....

Hmmm, perhaps not the best image.

I'm "leading" the adult sponsors training sessions. This joy is mine because at a meeting prior to the event I grumbled about how I'd had issues with the one done three years before. Yeah, opened my big mouth and was promptly volunteered. Also discovered that someone who has become a friend did that training last time so I don't want to sound like I'm criticizing her. It's a tough gig. So now I get to put my mouth where my mouth got me. Stupid mouth.

Anyway, what this means is that I won't be making a post for the next 10 days or so. And given that I've got a week to prepare for the next camp when I get back I'll be on the trot then as well. This summer just may kill me.

Next summer I only have General Convention, my daughter's graduation and High School Conference all in a three week period! Who said that youth ministry wasn't fun?


Thursday, July 21, 2005

How we chose to entertain ourselves

You've probably heard the news over the last day or so about a big name computer game that contains sex scenes. I'm not going to name the reprehensible piece of filth because I don't want to give even that much publicity. I didn't like the game (or its predecessors) before this story and I certainly haven't changed my mind now. In case this is news to you here are the basics:

Manufacturer is accused of putting programming into the game (which can be played on your computer or the major game "systems") where the player can have characters have sex with one another. It's not part of the regular game, this is a hidden (supposedly inaccessible)part of the program. Except wonder of wonder, word gets out and some clever denizen of the WWW rigs up a little software bundle that will make it accessible! Let the games begin! Outrage builds and the manufacturer first claims that the sex stuff wasn't actually in their software but was created by the other software. Finally they fess up, yep, we did it, it's in our stuff. We just decided not to use it.

Here's my problem with this:

These games are marketed aggressively to teens. Spare me the fairy tales about it was rated "Mature" and it was intended only for adults. That's hogwash and we ALL know it. So NATURALLY the best idea for amusing teens(or anyone else) involves violence, destruction and demeaning images of women. Lovely. Even better let's take a look at adding in some graphic sex options! How stupid or greedy (those are pretty much the only options) do you have to be to sell that concept to yourself?

These games show women as large breasts and butts on long legs. In as little clothing as possible. Because we all know that's a realistic view of women, right?
Ummmmmm...... Because it's the way women prefer to be thought of, right? No, still not quite there.... Because getting our entertainment by abusing, demeaning and whenever possible making people into sex toys is really cool. I think I need to barf.

Now let's see how shall we make heroes in our little fantasy world? OOOH OOOH I know! Violent criminals with no regard for property or life. Knuckle dragging mouth breathers whose best choice for resolving problems is to shoot, blow it up or run it over. Just perfect.

Finally because after all of the above the manufacturer PROVES they know what they did was wrong by LYING ABOUT IT!!!

Sadly several major chains are getting all self righteous about pulling the product off the shelves because, GASP, I'm shocked, shocked to discover there's sex going on here! Excuse me here's your profits from selling a violent, humanity demeaning game.

This is how we choose to entertain ourselves? This is what we allow our children and ourselves to watch and do for fun?

Barf making.


Tuesday, July 19, 2005

And the summer rushes along...

How can this be the next to last week of July?

How can EYE (the Episcopal Youth Event, a national gathering of HS aged youth)be next week?

How can I be this tired and not be dead!?!?!

Okay it's not that bad just yet but when I look ahead to next month I just shake my head. It's a long three months, even when it's only about 2 1/4 months.

I promised some thoughts on Senior High Conference. It was simply amazing. A great group of young people, fabulous staff, a wonderful Chaplain (thank you Fr. Steven!) and some really HOT weather. The closing worship was amazing which is usually a good sign that the community has come together. There were no major problems and life as the conference director was actually relaxing and a joy. I wish every camp could be just like this. And I hope this is a sign of what is to come for the conference. Check out photos by clicking on the title of this entry.

A side note: our diocesan archivist told me that she'd stumbled upon some older papers about our senior high conference. I was ASTOUNDED to discover that the conference goes back much farther than I'd thought. I'll be sharing some of those bits on the website later this summer. It's amazing how much has changed and amazing how much it is EXACTLY the same. For example - I discovered they used to create a conference newspaper, with a GOSSIP column! It's really hysterical.

So EYE next week, and then home for a week, then Music, Art and Drama Camp. Then home for an overnight and back for Junior High camp and Sleep Away camp (the SAME WEEK!) Then hopefully some off time.

Makes me tired just thinking about it.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

God Calls

This is based on my sermon at the closing Eucharist at the 2005 Senior High Conference. I was honored that the young people chose me to give this sermon. Several folks have asked that I print it out. The readings for this included the story of the calling of Israel at the foot of Mt Sinai in Exodus, The Great Commission and a portion of Paul's letter to the Ephesians. I've forgotten the exact citations.

When I prepare for a sermon I usually read the scripture selections and then listen for a theme or central idea. As I read these I heard just two words "God Calls". And my first thought was "With as busy as my cell phone's been this week, He's about the only one who HASN'T called". And then I heard the Lord's voice say "Jay", Yes Lord?, "That wasn't what I meant", I knew that Lord, "Carry on".

God calls. You may not be hearing it, or even listening for it. But God is calling you. He's calling you now, He called you before you got here this week, He'll call you when you get home. He will call forever, His calling is relentless.

And He's calling everyone. The populars, the plastics, the geeks, the freaks, the jocks and the tall and the short, the skinny and the ample. It doesn't matter where you are or who you are. He called a ragged group of refugees in the middle of nowhere with nothing but what they could carry. They'd left their homes and their jobs. They were without a country and had no power in this world and God called. He didn't need them. But He called them to be more than they were. And they said yes. And that's what He wants.

God calls. He reasons, cajoles, implores, nags, inspires and as Saul found out if you make it necessary he will strike you blind. He doesn't care other people think about you. He doesn't care whether you're fashionable or even presentable. God desperately wants to be your friend. You will make his day, his week, his month, his year is you say yes. Given the world we live in let me assure you that we're not talking about some weird divine stalker dude. God is calling to you because he knows that he has what you need. And it doesn't matter what you need. Maybe you need a little more confidence, maybe you need a little LESS confidence! God has what will bring you joy, what will make you whole, will bring out all that is best in you. Because it's all in there. God gave you gifts, wonderful presents, and he's calling to ask why you haven't opened them yet?

But that's not all he calls about. He calls about how we treat each other and what we are to do with the gifts after we've finally listened that first little bit. Paul reminds the brothers and sisters at Ephesus - be humble (it's not all about you), gentle, patient, bear with one another (and this is my favorite part of this sentence) making every effort to maintain the unity of the spirit. Note what it says, it doesn't say that you should make sure that only the "right" music is played during worship, or that everyone observe the dress code at church. It isn't the unity of the rules and regulations, it's the unity of the spirit!

God calls us not ride off on our own little quest,ignoring everyone else. I am not called to the International Church of Jay, the church dedicated to the care and well being of Jay, making sure that Jay is happy and healthy and gets what he wants, needs and dare I say it, deserves. But too often that's where we find ourselves. That's the church that brings us road rage and people who say "It's not my fault you didn't think that was funny, I thought it was funny". They say that usually right after they've said something that's hurt you or humiliated you or made you feel stupid and small. But hey as long as they laughed because they're the only ones they worry about. You know what? We're called to be patient and gentle with those folks too.

God calls us to One Body, One Spirit, one hope, one lord, one faith, one baptism. The God that calls us is above all and in all and through all. The God that calls us isn't trapped in some little box somewhere, only during certain hours of the week and usually when a bunch of other people just like me are hanging around. God is everywhere and that's where he sends us. He tells us that this is not a gift that we are to hoard for ourselves. We are sent out into ALL the world. Where is that? Like God, it's everywhere. It's the students and teachers at school, it's the store clerks and the girl who works at the car wash, it's strangers and those slow people driving in front of you.

For our seniors this is an especially important message. You are about to leave your homes behind, your old lives behind and go into a strange land. And parts of it are scary and it becomes easy to doubt. So I would remind you that not long after the children of Israel gave that ringing endorsement of doing all that God asked they were worshipping a golden calf and that when Jesus called the 11 some doubted. But their doubts did not win, they did not let their doubts drown out the sound of God's voice in their lives. When the doubts grow strong remember the last thing that Jesus says to them. That He will be with you always, everywhere, until then end of time. Always and Everywhere. None of us are being sent out alone. We will NEVER be alone. As long as we remember:

God Calls.


Saturday, July 02, 2005

And we're back!

Back from Senior High.
It was incredible.
Details to follow.

In the meantime.......

Which Star Wars Jedi/Sith are you?


Dynamite in a small package, and long-lasting, like the Energizer bunny. While you are wise and calm, you are able to call on your killer instincts and be kick-ass. Some may call you a ‘sleeper’. With such great power comes some arrogance, but you are quick to return to humility and fix your mistakes. You have certainly left your mark on the world, in good and bad ways, and it was kinda sad to see you go. But no need to worry, you have gained immortality even though you can’t wield your toothpick of a lightsabre anymore.

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