Monday, October 29, 2007

A Good Weekend

I suppose some folks would consider any weekend whose focus is Diocesan Convention to be a long way from a good one. But this was a very good weekend for me.

I had several folks compliment me on my columns for ChurchActs and the newsletters. Folks have said that they clip them out and send them to their children and grandchildren. But this weekend I was told that someone used some of my stuff as part of their home schooling of their kids!

I made several new contacts with young adult youth leaders and young people who want to get more involved. I moved forward with getting more visits lined up before the silly season starts.

One of my young people (with NO prompting by me) got up during discussion of the budget and asked when I was going to be brought back to full time. He went on to say some very nice things about what I do for them. It was pleasantly embarrassing. Then the bishop said that he agreed and that getting me back to full time was very important to him too. That was very nice to hear. He's told me that privately but it's nice to "have it on the record".

My report to convention on where our ministries stand was well received. I also received more than my fair share of credit for the audio/visual work during the convention (our Communications director deserved about 85% of the credit. I just helped run the machinery)

We gave away 300 buttons with our new logo on them attached to cards touting our online "store" to raise funds for youth ministry.

Our youth reps at convention identified a resolution that was important them, analyzed it, proposed a change, wrote the amendment, presented it and got it passed!

Plus a "former youth", now a young adult was elected as a deputy to General Convention. This will make at least the third GC in a row that we've had a lay deputy who came up through the youth ministry.

Additionally we did the business of the diocese, we took a long hard look at where we are and the future of the church and worshipped together.

It was a good weekend.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

On our way to Heaven

Sister Joan Chittester tells a story about the day she learned (in Catholic school many years ago) that "Protestants don't go to Heaven". It was quite a shock to her since her mother was Catholic but her father wasn't. Sister Joan's story got me thinking about the fixation that some Christians have about Heaven. You see I'm concerned about how many of us are caught up in trying to define who is and isn't going to Heaven.

First thing we need for this discussion a little honesty. We all have folks that we don't want to make the cut. That's really what it comes down to, I don't want YOU in the really good place. I know I do. And I bet you do too. We may not be proud of it, we may fight against it. But deep inside our broken human hearts there are people that just can not imagine are going, should not even be considered for entry to that Heavenly place.

Thank you Jesus, thank you Lord that I'm not in charge of making that decision.

The problem for me is that starting from the Gospel message of a loving, Grace offering God I can't find a place where I can ever say "You are unclean and unworthy". At the same time I'm not saying that there's no cover charge at this door. I do believe that the cover be comped i you ask. And that some folks will refuse to ask.

I worry about the folks who want to deny that to whoever it is that gets under their skin. An attempt to control entry to Heaven strikes me as an attempt to control access to God. The concept of anyone trying to restrict access to the Divine strikes me as a sin in and of itself.

My role isn't to be a gatekeeper to Heaven. It should be, I believe, to insure that by my life and actions I don't get in someone else's way. Not to be a stumbling block. When I chose to "enforce" the "standards" of admission I'm taking onto myself a degree of certitude, a level of authority to which I don't believe I'm entitled.

I pray everyone hears God call and follows it. I believe that God will use all the Divine means to bring us all home.

I hope we all get to Heaven.

Monday, October 22, 2007

An intersting weekend

Kept very busy this weekend. The most interesting bit was probably the parish visit with the Bishop. I had driven up to his house then we car pooled to Trinity church in Albion. A beautiful drive up through the country side.

When we pulled it was a little surprising to see TWO police cars parked outside the back door of the church. Turns out they'd had a break in the night before. A total of 11 doors (every locked door in the church) was kicked in. And I mean KICKED in, door jambs shattered, parts of the dead bolt locks lying on the other side of the rooms, pieces of door frames all over the floors. Bizarrely almost nothing was taken. A video camera, a couple of small checks and the roast beef intended for the luncheon with the bishop. That's it. The wine was left, the various silver untouched, all the VCRs, TVs, boom boxes etc. right where they belong. There was no vandalism other than kicking in the safety door of the small elevator. It's a small congregation and the repairs are going to be a bit of a financial strain.

Beyond that they were a wonderful host! At the peace young and old greeted each other usually by name. And they did one thing that I thought was really cool. Many of our parishes will have members who for one reason or another find it difficult or impossible to make it to the communion rail. So commonly (in my experience) Communion is brought to them at the end of the process. Not at Trinity. They serve those folks FIRST! It was one of those "BOOOOOIING!" moments. It seems so obvious that we should serve our eldest and our infirm members FIRST and ourselves SECOND.


Meanwhile it's the sprint to Diocesan Convention at the end of the week. I have lots of stuff to get done. Then when I get there I get to be the "media expert" or maybe it's "media peon" for not only the sound system this year. We're also going high tech with multiple projectors and computers for Powerpoint presentations etc. So I actually arrive a day in advance of most everyone else.

So it'll be a busy week. Keep our brothers and sisters in Albion in your prayers. Pray also for the person or persons who felt compelled to break in.

Oh yeah and pray for yr hmbl srvnt.


Saturday, October 20, 2007

Ah the joys of being an Anglican

One of the great traditions of our faith community is the beauty of Anglican chant. I've heard people say that chant can make anything beautiful. How about the weather forecast?

Check it out Weather Chant


Thursday, October 18, 2007

About books

Over on my facebook page I use an application to keep track of the books I'm reading. Sadly it seems to NOT work about as often as it DOES work so I don't have all my recent books listed.

It is interesting to compare my list with the lists of a lot of other youth ministers. As near as I can tell I'm letting the side down because I don't read "Christian" books (however you choose to define that) exclusively. Now it's possible that they only show the faith based books but why? To be honest I have trouble with most of the faith based books I've tried to read. Some are badly written (apparently we're willing to forgive crappy writing in the pursuit of the divine. Count me out). Some seem to be talking about some world I don't live in (and often wouldn't want to). For most of the rest I just want to say "Stop talking about it and go do it. Stop trying to find the "magic bullet" in some book and just go live a life in faith".

It's not easy but it's really not that complicated.

So in addition to boring you to tears with my movies I'm now going to inflict my books on you. I'm not choosing any of these books to impress you. To be honest I'm far too egotistical to concern myself with whether or not I'm reading the "right" books. One of my favorite buttons reads "I Read Banned Books". Yep, sometimes just to tick people off.

My reading is both fiction and non-fiction. I'm actively trying to read authors and books from the last 100 years or so that I've never read before. The intention is to bring a little more depth to my background. As part of that I've read "Old Man and the Sea" by Hemingway and "Ragtime" by Doctorow. Liked 'em both.

So here's the current list, just got them today at the Library:
Making Money by Terry Pratchett. Pratchett is a seriously demented writer who I enjoy immensely.
Stalin's Ghost by Martin Cruz SmithDon't know anything about this author, first book I've read. It's a mystery.
Post-modernism 101 by Heath White Yes it's a "Christian" book. I'm interested in what PoMo means and this looks like an interesting place to start.
God & Empire by John Dominic Crossnan Another "Christian" book (though I bet some of you just snorted in derision) Crossnan is an interesting guy and this looks like an interesting book.
The Third Man by Graham Greene I love Greene's stuff, got started on it a couple years ago.

So I'll let you know what I think as I roll along. If it's my usual pace I'll be through these books in the next two weeks. Yes, I'm serious. 5 books in 14 days? Easy, besides two of them are quite short.

As for the rest of you. Read. Read regularly. Read widely.

That's enough for today.

Oh, book suggestions old and new are certainly appreciated.


Purist just means no one's made the right offer yet.
Expert? Well I do have THREE blogs and own a blogring so maybe.
Undiscovered. Oh mostly I suppose.


Friday, October 12, 2007

It's her birthday

Today is my wife's birthday.

My relationship with my wife is one of those things where I don't quite know where to begin or end. So perhaps just some bullet points:

We've been a couple for 30 years more or less.

The more or less part is my fault.

We met in college.

I was an insecure idiot (see "more or less" above)

She and I are almost perfectly "matched" by which I mean that she's strong where I'm weak and I'm strong where she's weak.

I trust her utterly. All she has to do is say "Trust me" and I'd walk off a cliff.

She is incredibly strong(mentally and spiritually), much stronger than she thinks.

We dated for four years, were engaged for 18 months and have been married for 25 years.

She has made me into a better person, far beyond what I could have imagined.

Both my parents thought she was amazing. (As usual they were right)

She has been an amazing mother to our daughter.

She has put up with living in the shadow of my "fame" (notoriety?) with remarkable grace.

I believe she's a better Christian than I am, she's smarter than I am, and she's a nicer person than I am.

She has only one flaw. Incredibly poor taste in men. She suffers under the delusion that I'm good enough for her.

She's my best friend.

You may have noticed by now that I'm still crazy in love with her.

Happy birthday beautiful.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Football pool update

OK, the weekly results are out. I finished right around 25th for the week and that moves me into the top 50 overall. I had 10 correct picks, the top person had 13 (out of 14! Bet she missed the Pack)and I had 84 points the top person had 97. My best week so far.

Green Bay was the major stumbling block for everyone. 5 people picked Chicago out of about 100 folks playing!

All right, all right! I'll stop obsessing about my football pool!

(Actually I'll just obsess quietly)


A new recommended blog

You'll note that I have a very short list of blogs I "recommend" over on the right. I'm aware that it's a bit of a violation of the blogosphere's common courtesy not to list the many wonderful blogs I read regularly. There was a good reason for that when I started but I'm considering changing it. Some blogs I read just because they're written by friends and I can "keep up" with them that way. Some of those blogs are also darn fine blogs. So I'll probably be expanding the list. I'm not guaranteeing that everyone will like every blog I like. That's just the way it goes. But some folks deserve the extra nod.

Which brings me to today's post. I just came across a youth ministry blog that is also a excellent blog written by someone who just reaches out and grabs me with his thought process. His name is Stuart Delony and his blog is "The Ramblings"

I like Stuart's writing style, I like the way he thinks, I like his approach to faith, I like his courage, and I like the fact that his 201 facts about himself reveals that he and I have a lot in common. Even though we're a couple decades apart in age and a continent apart in distance.

Go read this blog!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Post Monday Night Football

I've been a bit slothful with the blog, my apologies. I've been checking out the travel photos from the acolytes trip of my friends Kim and Lee to the National cathedral (here's the crew)

Meanwhile here in western New York we're trying to figure out how we feel about last night's game. We weren't supposed to win, heck we weren't supposed to be CLOSE and we led the Cowboys for most of the game. Only to lose in the final two seconds. You see we've been here before. Just ask any WNY sports fan about the phrases "Wide Right" and "No Goal". Then buy them a drink and help them wipe away their tears.

I'm torn myself. After 20+ years the Bills are my #1A team (Steelers are #1). I root for them, pay attention, know the players the whole deal.

But I was hoping they'd lose last night.

I had the Cowboys in my pool.

I'm doing a football pool with a youth group out in Minnesota (the wonders of the internet). To be honest I've been fairly wretched with a brief moment of merely mediocre. But Sunday! The pool is done by picking winners and then assigning confidence points to each pick. So this week with 14 games the highest point total was 14. (Umm, errr, Dallas over Buffalo). By the time the Sunday afternoon games were over I was 9 correct picks out of 12 with two of the misses being my 1 point and two point games.


Then the Bears re-discover the concept of offense and upset the Packers (my 12 point pick!) Noooooooo!

As I watch the game Monday night I am utterly torn. The Bills are WINNING!!! Yay!. The BILLS are winning! NOOOOOOOO!

In the end I finished 10 of 14 for 84 out of 105 points (or is it 85 out of 104? Can't remember)

If only those darned Packers.......


It's OK, really.
I'll be fine.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

A lifelong love

If you know me in real life you may assume that this will be a love poem to my lady wife. As important to my life as she is (she's my Rushmore) this is about a love of longer standing than even my lady love.

It's reading.

While I cannot claim to have learned to read as early as my darling daughter (who began reading at 2.5 years old. She's such a show off!) I can not remember a time when I couldn't and didn't read. It became the bane of my mother's life that her eldest son was constantly inside reading instead of outside. So I'd take my book outside and read there. Seemed like a reasonable compromise to me but never seemed to satisfy her. I read at meals, before I turn out the light almost every night, in the bathroom (I'm sorry, was that TMI? ;-) ), at virtually any moment I can. And I've done it all my life.

Well today is the birthday of the man who had a profound impact on my love of reading. A man I never met and that until today I never realized just how MUCH of an impact he'd really had.

Edward L. Stratemeyer.

Never heard of him? Don't worry most people haven't. But I bet you know some of his characters and if you're of a certain age you know them well. They include:

The Hardy Boys
Nancy Drew
Tom Swift
The Bobbsey Twins

Stratemeyer was the brains behind all of them. He created the characters, outlined the stories and then turned them over to his syndicate of writers. Literally a fiction factory.

The Hardy Boys, Joe and Frank (and their buddy Biff!), Tom Swift (and his flying electronic whosis) and the Bobbsey Twins (the first series of books and characters I learned to love Bert and Nan, Flossie and Freddie. Nan is always described as a slim brown eyed brunette. Guess what kind of girl I fell in love with later in life? LOL!) these were my first friends in print. From them grew a love that has become central to my life.

I have a friend, a highly intelligent, talented lady who really doesn't like reading at all. I once got the impression she really thinks of it as a bit of a waste of time. This is beyond my ability to comprehend. Reading ranks up there with breathing, and eating. Often I'm reading more than one thing (book, magazine, etc) at any given time.

So here's to my friend and mentor in the love of reading. The 145th anniversary of the birth of Edward Stratemeyer. I never could have done it without you.


Monday, October 01, 2007

My Home in Faith 2

This is one of the stained glass windows in our chapel. We don't have ANY gargoyles like Lee does but we've got some pretty snifty stained glass. I've always liked St. George.

I find stained glass a challenge to shoot because the light is shining through the subject rather than reflecting off of it. Plus the problem with hot spots like on the good saint's thigh.

I'll probably add some more of the chapel saints as we move along.