Monday, August 31, 2009

Christianity - FAIL!

I try to avoid politics here. What follows is not a political post but a theological one.

There are lots of folks who disagree with me on a variety of points. I'm friends with a fair number of them. So what follows is not in any way shape or form about the politics of the story.

You can dislike President Obama.
You can disagree with every single one of his positions and policies.
You can believe that the United States is in serious trouble because he was elected.

No this is about the theology of the following story. I have no trouble climbing out on theological limbs and staking my claim. You may still disagree with me, that's fine but this is a theological argument.

Pastor Steven Anderson of the Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe Arizona has publicly stated (and reiterated the statement in subsequent interviews) that he prays that the President die of a brain tumor and go to hell. You can find a summary of the story here from Fox News (don't want anyone to accuse me of relying on the "liberal" media here). He prays for another man to die, for God to kill him (relying on David calling for the same kind of thing in some of the Psalms). He prays that another man be separated from the presence of the Holy for all eternity.

And he claims he's a Christian.

The kids have a word for a situation like this - FAIL.

How does a follower of Jesus justify this kind of thing coming out of their mouth in light of the teachings about loving one another, about forgiveness, about turning a cheek to someone who wrongs us? How do you hold such a point of view in light of Christ's own command to love each other as he loved us, a love expressed by asking the Father to forgive us as nails were driven through his flesh?

We are called to follow in Christ's footsteps. So if he was willing to forgo the chance to pray for his tormentors to be sent to Hell how can we turn around and do otherwise? As Christians are we not called upon by our faith to pray for the healing of those we believe to be broken? Must we not pray for God to save these people?

If Pastor Anderson's theology has room to pray for the death and damnation of specific people I am hard pressed to explain how it remains Christian.

It is certainly NOT the Christianity that I practice or that I find in my reading of the Gospels. Pastor Anderson can dislike the President all he wants. When he tries to cloak this kind of stuff in theological clothes he needs to be called on it.

I will pray for God to open the Pastor's heart and mind to understand his brokenness and the disservice he does to the Good News. No matter how much his words may irritate or anger us THAT would be the proper, faithful, Spirit filled response.


Books I've Been Reading

Grabbed two books off our shelves here at Maison DaYouthGuy that I'd never read and enjoyed them both immensely.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. This book gives you a look into life on one of the Channel Islands during and immediately after World War II. Guernsey was one of the only pieces of England proper that the Germans ever invaded and held (the island is actually a whole lot closer to France than England). Mary Ann Shaffer decided to tell the story as a series of letters and telegrams (think "Up the Down Staircase"). This kind of writing artifice either works (a la Bel Kaufman above) or it crashes and burns. In this case it works marvelously well. The characters themselves are in the same boat we are, we all get to know one another through the stories told in the letters. I was fascinated and ripped right through the book in just a couple days. I found myself deeply moved by the death of a character that I had known early on had to die. But it was a shock because I came to care about her. Shaffer grew quite ill during the final stages of writing the novel and asked her niece Annie Barrows to finish it. Shaffer didn't live to see the book hit #1 on the NY Times bestseller list which adds a certain poignancy to the whole thing.

The other book I've finished recently was "The Secret Life of Bees" by Sue Monk Kidd. Another book that my lady wife had brought into the house and that I hadn't read yet. (I recently did a survey of the several hundred books we own and discovered that I had read something like 95% of them. Most of them several times. Thank God for libraries!). This one is set in 1964 in the South Caroline. It confronts issues of race and women's roles and faith plus gives you a good dose about bees. I kept thinking about "To Kill A Mockingbird" as I read this book. That's largely because of the setting and the fact that the lead character is a young girl who lost her mother at an early age. "Secret Life of Bees" is good but certainly not "To Kill a Mockingbird" good, it just has a similar feel to it for me. The books sucked me in with fine storytelling, great characters and even made bees come alive for me in a whole new way. Once I got started I couldn't stop and read the book (not terribly long at only 320 pages) in about a day.

Now I find myself with only my old friends on the shelves but with a taste for some new adventures. Time to wander up the hill to check out the local branch library.


Resouce Review - Toodledo

OVERALL - Toodledo - A way to keep things organized and "get things done" that offers a wide variety of ways to approach the problem.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? I hate lists. Sadly I've come to realize that I need them. Otherwise I get behind on things and little projects can simply disappear into the mess. So I was interested when I came across the "Getting Things Done" which author David Allen summarized in his book of the same name back in 2002 ("Getting Things Done" and it's acronym "GTD" are registered trademarks of the David Allen Company). This is productivity theory and I don't even pretend to understand most (any?) of it. The concept that leapt out at me was this -
"GTD rests on the principle that a person needs to move tasks out of the mind by recording them externally. That way, the mind is freed from the job of remembering everything that needs to be done, and can concentrate on actually performing those tasks. - Wikipedia

Sounds like a great idea to me. So I started looking for software that could help. Toodledo is what I've found. This is rather amazing stuff but it allows me to make lists the way I want to, give them priorities, sort them as I please and access them from just about anywhere. Online, from my smart phone OR if you really prefer having some solid and non-virtual it will print out a nifty little booklet that you can fold up and keep in your pocket! It also has an add-on you can use in FireFox to add items or check your list. I've found it very versatile and not terribly difficult to use (see below). Whether it will help me stay more organized or not only time will tell.

RESERVATIONS I wish it were a little simpler in the default mode. You may or may not want all the options it gives you (and that's just in the free version! The pay for versions offer you ALL KINDS OF STUFF!) Once you get the hang of it (which happens pretty quickly) I think you'll really like the application. But it can be intimidating at first.

RECOMMENDATION With all the things we need to keep juggling in our lives it can be impossible to keep them all straight in our heads for most of us. Toodledo can be a huge help. It can even be used by a group to keep everyone on task. I think this could be great for trips, projects, even youth group or a Journey to Adulthood group. The free version should be more than versatile enough for almost any use the average person could think of. Well worth a look!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Two Movies I've Seen

I've been into a theater twice in the last week. Which is way more than usual. Saw two interesting movies and had two very different experiences:

Frost/Nixon - (2008) -Based on Peter Morgan's play of the same name the movie looks at the historic interviews done by talk show host David Frost and disgraced former president Richard Nixon. I was fascinated by the performances of the two leads - Frank Langella as Nixon and Michael Sheen as Frost. Both historic figures are displayed warts and all. Frost's dilettante approach to his work, Nixon's tightly wound personality and perpetual inferiority complex. What bothers many people about this movie is that it brings up feelings of sympathy for Nixon and many of us just don't ever want to go there. In the end history will probably show Nixon as a man who honestly believed that what he was doing was necessary at the moment he did it even if it was wrong. He certainly was much more complex than the paper cut out boogie man so many of us still hold in our minds. I thought it was interesting that the Nixon entourage came off much worse than the Frost one while Frost comes off worse than Nixon does. In the author's view it would appear that it is Nixon who finally draws the best out of Frost. Something that Frost might have never done on his own.

If you're going to watch this movie you're going to have to accept that it is an all talking heads film. There is NO action, virtually no love story and the section around Frost trying to find funding for the airing of the interviews is pretty slow. But the interplay between Langella and Sheen is astounding. Watching either one of them alone is pretty marvelous too. This is truly a character driven movie. I enjoyed it much more than I expected.

Public Enemies
- (2009) - Big star actor, great supporting cast, wonderful look to the film and an iconic subject matter. So why was this such a disappointing movie? Well, mainly because the script wanders and has no idea where it's going. Because you aren't told WHO some of the characters are, there are dozens of them that seem to wander in and out constantly and are basically freely interchangeable. My bet is that if there is ever a "Director's Cut" of this movie it'll be 60-90 minutes longer than the theater release. Both I and the kid walked out deeply disappointed.

Johnny Depp did a fine job with another quirky choice for a role. Visually the movie was impressive. It has a great look. It's got the visual style of the modern graphic novel or a classic comic book. Moody, stylish and very "graphic". Sadly, it's like a reverse Emperor's clothing story. The clothing looks great but there's nothing inside them.

I have a problem going in because I don't like movies that glamorize thugs like Dillinger. He was a violent criminal with a long history. This was not a nice man in any sense of the concept and I really dislike when we play them up as heroes. To give the movie it's due it shows Dillinger as being less than a pillar of the community. And I never quite came to the point of rooting for him. You see this movie is interesting in that it has no "hero" to root for. Dillinger is a thug and a criminal who only looks good because some of the cops are as bad or worse. J. Edgar Hoover is shown as the egotistical monster that history has discovered him to have been.

In the end the script lets everyone down. There are too many people, half the time you don't know who they are (and I have more than a passing familiarity with this period and it's criminals. The movie was 90% over before I realized one character was in fact Frank "The Enforcer" Nitti. Other historic figures include "Pretty Boy" Floyd, "Baby Face" Nelson,and Alvin "Creepy" Karpis). Consequently you don't much care about them since you never get to "know" them. They fly in, talk briefly, fire their weapons a lot and disappear again for a while. The pace of the story telling is incredibly slow while all this car chase and shooting is going on. Melvin Purvis (played with no hint of human emotion or personality by Christian Bale) isn't any better. The movie perpetuates his probably undeserved reputation for killing Floyd. And I can't imagine this will ever be a favorite at the F.B.I. It shows them in all their worst moments early in their history. Hoover did take a second rate law enforcement agency and turn into something much, much better. Sadly he also ingrained some of his worst personal characteristics into it's cultural DNA that linger still to this day.

As I said, truly, deeply disappointing.


The View from the Phlipside

These are the scripts from my weekly media commentary program on WRFA-LP Jamestown

My name is Jay Phillippi and I've spent my life in and around the media. TV, Radio, the movies and more. I love 'em and I hate em' and I always have an opinion. Call this the view from the Phlipside

There's an upside and a downside to being a cult hit. The upside is that since you're a cult hit you can get away with a lot of things that a mainstream show or whatever simply couldn't do. The advantage of being the quirky, ignore the rules kind of a thing means you can do whatever you want. For example, imagine being a TV program that actually requires replacing the lead actor every so often. It's actually part of the whole "reality" that you've created. You never have to worry too much about actors getting too demanding or having other projects on the side. If they get too problematic, poof, they're gone. And the show keeps on moving.

The downside is that fans of these kinds of shows tend to be even more fanatical than your common garden variety. I mean they can just be nuts. You thinks fans of "Lost" are crazy? They've got nothing on this next group. All of this is in relation to what? One of the most successful, off the wall, go its own way TV franchises of all time, you should pardon the expression. I'm talking Dr. Who.

For Dr. Who it's all about different people playing the Doctor. It's all about the Dr. having different looks, different personalities, different eccentricities. It's also all about people arguing over who was the best Doctor. Jon Pertwee? David Tennant (who is certainly the most popular and with good reason)? Maybe like most American viewers you have a soft spot for the first Doctor to be seen in this country, Tom Baker. If so I've got some good news waiting for you in the Tardis.

At 75 Baker isn't really up to jumping around and racing in and out of trouble with that scarf any more. So they've created a new way for us to get a fix. Baker will star in a series of audio adventures of the Doctor. The first will be available from the BBC in September with at least five total planned.

You'd think Dr. Who fans would be ecstatic. Well some of us are. The rest are arguing about where these stories will fall in the "official canon". These are folks who will argue about who is a proper Doctor and who isn't. Now we've got a proper Doctor but do these stories have a proper place among the proper stories? It's enough to make a Time Lord's head spin.

And let's face it, a true fan of the Doctor's wouldn't have it any other way.


So this is what the end of the world looks like. The very apocalypse is upon us and as befits then ending of all things it comes from an unexpected direction. A marriage proposal in a comic book.

I was utterly, utterly appalled to hear the news that after almost 70 years at Riverdale High, constantly being chased by two classic comic beauties Archie has finally broken down and chosen one over the other. That's right Archie has finally decided to spend his life with just one of the two girls that have had their eyes on him longer than your humble commentator has been alive. On September first the latest issue of the long running comic book hits the stands appropriately with only a couple hands, a diamond ring, an enormous valentine's type heart and the words "The Proposal" on the cover. In case you haven't heard by now Archie will propose to the dark haired beauty Veronica Lodge.

At which point the world will end. I can't believe that Archie and the folks behind him will allow him to make such a monstrous mistake. Let's face it just on the surface this is easy to spot as the wrong choice. In the world of Betty and Veronica it's Betty. Just as in the world of Ginger and Mary Ann it's Mary Ann. Always. Every time. Surely that's obvious. Let's face it, Veronica is a spoiled rich brat who is all caught up in herself and her rampant consumerism. On the other hand we have Betty - star athlete who can not only whip up a great meal at home but can fix the car along the way as well. I just can't figure this one out.

The next several issues will show that the comic book is playing around with the story line. The proposal takes place some five years in the future. The multi book story arc will include the wedding (of course) and a couple of kids down the road. It is interesting to note that no one seems to rule out that this may not be the final story line here. Not to say that Archie might get a divorce (the mind reels at the concept) but that there may still be something up the creative team's sleeve.

So now we just sit and wait to see if the apocalypse is really coming.


Pity the poor TV anchor person. It's not enough any more to just deliver the news in clear concise terms. You can't get by with a sterling voice and reassuring presence like Walter Cronkite or Edward R. Murrow. No, now you have to have the right look. And not just your hair and eyes and firm jaw line. You have to wear the right clothes, clothes that make you look good and professional but mostly good.

Once upon a time a lot of stations did trades with local clothing stores. You may remember seeing credits at the end telling you where the anchors clothes came from. In the current economic situation fewer and fewer places will do that. If you think that the anchors all get clothing allowances you may want to think again about that too. No the clothing you see the anchors wearing usually is their own. Unlike you and I who can show up week after week in the same stuff they need to keep their wardrobe fresh. And that can get expensive.

Enter Jolene DeVito, former TV news anchor in Dallas Texas. She now offers a place where TV anchors can sell their old stuff and buy new stuff from other anchors looking for a cheap(er) way to freshen the look. The website is called and it's only been up for about two weeks but is already making sales.

I'll give them this much I think it's a great concept. Many local TV anchors don't make as much money as you might think. And with all due respect they need to do their shopping a little more upscale than the local J.C. Penney's. And that costs big bucks. DeVito is part of professional coaching firm for TV professionals. I'm sure she coaches the importance of getting the details right. Which makes the big goof right in the middle of her home page rather disheartening (she forgot to remove a place holder in her HTML editor when she designed the page).

In the end it's a pretty innovative idea at a time when news divisions are getting squeezed harder and harder. Sadly it's especially tough on female anchors because we insist on being much more pre-occupied by what they wear. I mean come on, if Walter or Dan or Peter showed up in the same suit every Tuesday for six months would we even notice? But somehow it's "important" that a female anchor keep her wardrobe "new". One more way that we've managed to forget about what's important in a newscast. You know, little things like facts and good reporting.

Call that the view from the Phlipside

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Christian Creed on Health-Care Reform

I signed it.

A Christian Creed on Health-Care Reform

As one of God's children, I believe that protecting the health of each human being is a profoundly important personal and communal responsibility for people of faith.

I believe God created each person in the divine image to be spiritually and physically healthy. I feel the pain of sickness and disease in our broken world (Genesis 1:27, Romans 8:22).

I believe life and healing are core tenets of the Christian life. Christ's ministry included physical healing, and we are called to participate in God's new creation as instruments of healing and redemption (Matthew 4:23, Luke 9:1-6; Mark 7:32-35, Acts 10:38). Our nation should strive to ensure all people have access to life-giving treatments and care.

I believe, as taught by the Hebrew prophets and Jesus, that the measure of a society is seen in how it treats the most vulnerable. The current discussion about health-care reform is important for the United States to move toward a more just system of providing care to all people (Isaiah 1:16-17, Jeremiah 7:5-7, Matthew 25:31-45).

I believe that all people have a moral obligation to tell the truth. To serve the common good of our entire nation, all parties debating reform should tell the truth and refrain from distorting facts or using fear-based messaging (Leviticus 19:11; Ephesians 4:14-15, 25; Proverbs 6:16-19).

I believe that Christians should seek to bring health and well-being (shalom) to the society into which God has placed us, for a healthy society benefits all members (Jeremiah 29:7).

I believe in a time when all will live long and healthy lives, from infancy to old age (Isaiah 65:20), and "mourning and crying and pain will be no more" (Revelation 21:4). My heart breaks for my brothers and sisters who watch their loved ones suffer, or who suffer themselves, because they cannot afford a trip to the doctor. I stand with them in their suffering.

I believe health-care reform must rest on a foundation of values that affirm each and every life as a sacred gift from the Creator (Genesis 2:7).


Signed by:
[Your name]
[Your address]

Sign the petition here.

H/t to Grandmere Mimi

Monday, August 24, 2009

Resouce Review - HomeWord

OVERALL - HomeWord seeks to advance the work of God in the world by educating, equipping, and encouraging parents and churches to build God-honoring families from generation to generation. “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 HomeWord is a Christian organization designed to provide assistance to adults worldwide as they help young people make wise decisions and lead positive, vibrant, Christian lifestyles.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? Good quality resources aimed at parents are, sadly, a lot harder to come by than you'd expect. Good quality, faith based parent resources are even harder to find. HomeWord grew out of radio programs done by Jim Burns. Now on the website you have access to written and audio materials with a lot of input from a variety of authors. The answers and ideas are consistent and well thought out. They teach from solid, Biblical concepts that should be familiar to anyone. One of the concepts they come back to again and again which I really like is the importance of making sure the parents take care of their marriage. Even before taking care of the kids in some ways. It's a vitally important factor that is too often overlooked in our youth-centric culture. As an example check out Jim Burns' note on "10 Building Blocks to a Happy Family". I think it's really solid stuff. There are resources here to help young people, their parents, their grandparents and more!

RESERVATIONS Some folks are going to be put off because this comes from a decidedly Evangelistic point of view. The language will not always be comfortable for some of us. If you let yourself get stopped by that you're missing out on some really excellent resources. Theologically this strikes me as real mainstream stuff.

RECOMMENDATION I enjoy Jim Burns straight forward, love filled approach to the subject. He loves families, he loves marriages, he loves parents and he loves kids. The site echoes that love through the work of everyone there and the result is a really excellent faith based resource for parents who want to raise solid young people within a community of faith.

In God's Office

It was an interesting Sunday for yr hmbl srvnt. Earlier this year my Lady Wife and I went up to check out the Festival of Short Plays at the Kid's university. She was directing one (which was brilliant) but we also saw another show that jumped out at us. The Kid and I both instantly wanted to do it for the home congregation.

The show is "In God's Office" by Damian Trasler, a 10 minute piece that revolves around a delivery man who walks into, you guessed it, God's Office. What grabbed me was that the playwright managed to combine some funny bits with some uncomfortable, shift in your seat moments into a very nice complete short piece. We decided to give it a spin by having the kid play God. A 21 year old young woman dressed with a slight hippy flair.

She was brilliant.

To be honest I was a little nervous. Since the mid-80's I've only done a couple pieces of theater and I worry a little about my ability to memorize lines. Not that it was ever a problem and it isn't now. I just like to worry about stuff. I actually learned all my lines in less than two weeks time and did a pretty good job of getting them all out in the right order and using the words that Mr. Trasler had so carefully chosen. (Note: Damian is English, living in Canada. His dialogue reads like "English" English rather than "American" English. So we took a few liberties and changed some small bits so we didn't sound like utter yutzes. We hope the author will forgive us).

We got laughs in all the right places, congratulations all round and even a "Bravo" from the local newspaper's longtime theater critic who just happens to be a member of the congregation.

So, yeah, it felt good.

It also means the Kid and I can check one item off our "Bucket List" since we've talked about performing together for a long time now. I'd certainly look forward to working with her again. She finds my pre-performance butterflies rather comical in an annoying sort of way.

Of course it didn't occur to me until the time had come (we did this in place of the sermon) that we'd never actually vetted the script with the clergy! They didn't ask either it should be noted. So they were going on total trust that they wouldn't have a lot of 'splainin' to do afterwards. Don't think that will be a problem.

So that's the last of the "big projects" for the summer. I'll probably take a couple days off this week. Time for the Kid to go back to college for one. Dad's always needed when there's heavy lifting around...


Friday, August 21, 2009

View From the Phlipside 082209

These are the scripts from my radio program which is heard Tuesday - Friday on WRFA-LP Jamestown.

My name is Jay Phillippi and I've spent my life in and around the media. TV, Radio, the movies and more. I love 'em and I hate em' and I always have an opinion. Call this the view from the Phlipside

Having grown up, at least in part, during the 1960s I have a native mistrust of large corporate entities. Corporate America, lionized during the '50's, became an object of suspicion, rightly or wrongly, in the culture shift of the '60's. I still carry some of that with me into the new century. So I am beginning to wonder about Google.

It wasn't that long ago that Google was one of the little guys, the counter culture guys, going their own way, doing their own thing. Fighting the man. And best of all, winning. Google emerged from the battles of the late '90s and early two thousands as the dominant name in online search. Heck their name even became an adjective. You don't just search for something online, you google it. Out of that came several other interesting and very useful tools. I love gmail and maintain separate accounts for my work and for my home. Google reader is my favorite way to keep track of the various blogs of friends, sports teams and other topics that I follow. I belong to several Google groups and store photos at Picassa which is Google's photo site. But with each additional service they offer Google takes on more and more the aspect of the Big Corporate Entity. And I feel that '60's counter culture itch start down my spine.

Well now Google would like to be your cell phone company. And that may be just too much. Google Voice has been an online service they've recently developed. Now there are smart phone apps for Blackberry and the Android OS being made available. Google Voice Mobile steps in between you and your cell phone provider. In fact when you use it (and you can chose to make ALL your calls from your cell phone via Google Voice) your cell phone number won't even show up, it's your Google Voice number. Now the downside of this is that you may have to listen to short advertisements to pay for the service but some studies show we just might be willing to do that. Given a recent study that shows we pay the HIGHEST cell phone rates anywhere in the world this might actually be a good thing, forcing the cell phone companies to get serious about making their services more affordable.

Which means Google is STILL fighting the man! All right. I'm feeling much better now.


Is there anything cooler than when it turns out the old guys were actually right? OK, maybe there's something cooler if you're not an old guy but hey this is my program and I'll designate what's cool and what's not. So this is the coolest news of the year.

Back when it became clear that the vinyl album was headed towards extinction (and let's pause a moment to note that while vinyl sales are only a tiny fraction of what they were they haven't disappeared yet. In fact I just saw that a guy I know who is a good 20 years younger than me was out buying some vinyl for his collection. Seems vinyl still has a little life in it) anyway, one of the things some of us "old guys" lamented at the time was the loss of the "other stuff" you got with a great album. First there was the classic album cover. Some truly incredible stuff was created just to for the cover of your favorite band. Compact Discs are really too small to recreate the effect in album art. Then there were all the liner notes. Sure you've got the little pamphlets in the jewel case for that info but again it's so small that you have to print very small. Let's face it, no one above the age of 15 really wants to try and read all that tiny little print.

Well it seems like somebody else has finally come around to my way of thinking. And it's a pretty influential somebody. Itunes is working with the four largest record labels to bring back the album. Seems that with the burst in digital music sales album sales (ie actual CDs) have tailed off sharply. Now folks just buy the individual tracks they know and like. The profit margin on single track sales are much lower than albums sales so the record companies are all in favor. Itunes will bundle an interactive booklet with liner notes, photos, video and more when you buy the album.

So let me put my two cents in from the music lover's point of view. The great thing about buying an album is the chance you'll discover a great piece of music that isn't released as a single. It's getting to know the band's music in greater depth. An album takes you beyond the shallow waters of hit music and brings you into the deep waters of loving music. Add in a great piece of cover art and what more could you possibly need?


You would think that I'd be all excited about the intersection of two of the media that we talk about here on the program. Nothing like bringing several of my passions all together in the same place, right? Well not so much. Even if you add in one of my favorite writers doing the script it fails to excite me.

Sometimes you just wonder what people are thinking when they pitch a movie idea. It's like the movie "Flash of Genius" from just last year. Somebody really thought that a movie about the creation of the multiple speed windshield wiper switch would make a great movie! It's something that virtually everyone is familiar with, if your car is 20 years old or newer you have one. It's the struggle of one man against the corporate giant. It lasted 4 weeks at the box office and was never heard from again. Want another example? How about "Tucker - The Man and His Dream" about maverick car manufacturer Preston Tucker. It made almost five times as much money as Flash of Genius and was still a bomb.

And I'm pretty sure we're about to see another movie just like it. Aaron Sorkin, one of the brilliant creative minds behind "The West Wing", is working on a script about the creation of, wait for it, Facebook. You've got to be kidding right? The story of the little social network that could, and did. Created by a bunch of Harvard computer geeks after one of them was dumped by his girlfriend. Imagine the thrilling scenes of writing computer code followed by equally engaging scenes as they try to get funding to take their network big time. People offer to buy them, they say no. People offer even more money to buy them, they say no again. People offer a billion dollars to buy them, they say no. Anyone still awake after just the description of the movie?

So here we sit. A movie, written by one of the better writers out there today, about a product that virtually everyone knows and lots and lots of us use on a daily basis. And I have no idea why anyone would want to make this movie. It's going to cost tens of millions of dollars (Flash of Genius cost more than 20 Million), with a topic that won't bring in any of the key teenage demographics and a subject that's not particularly interesting to adults either. Oh yeah this has hit movie written all over it. Somebody please send the financials for Flash of Genius and Tucker to Aaron Sorkin. Please?

Call that the view from the Phlipside

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Yes or No

Kissed any one of your Facebook friends? Yes

Been arrested? No

Kissed someone you didn't like? Yes

Slept in until 5 PM? Yes

Fallen asleep at work/school? Yes

Held a snake? Yes.

Ran a red light? Yes.

Been suspended from school? No

Experienced love at first sight? No (lust yes)

Totaled your car in an accident? No

Sang karaoke? Yes

Pointed a gun at someone? No.

Done something you told yourself you wouldn't? No

Laughed until something you were drinking came out your nose? Yes

Caught a snowflake on your tongue? Yes

Kissed in the rain? Yes

Had a close brush with death (your own)? No

Seen someone die? No

Played spin-the-bottle? No

Sang in the shower? Yes

Smoked a cigar? Yes

Sat on a rooftop? Yes.

Smuggled something into another country? No

Been pushed into a pool with all your clothes? Yes

Broken a bone? Yes

skipped school? Yes

Eaten a bug? Yes

Sleepwalked? No

Walked a moonlit beach? No :(

Rode a motorcycle? Yes

Dumped someone? Yes.

Forgotten your anniversary? No

Lied to avoid a ticket? No

Ridden on a helicopter? No

Shaved your head? No

Blacked out from drinking? No

Played a prank on someone? Yes

Hit a home run? Yes

Felt like killing someone? No

Cross-dressed? No

Been falling-down drunk? Yes

Made your girlfriend/boyfriend cry? Yes

Eaten snake? Yes

Marched/Protested? No

Been in a band? No

Knitted? No.

Been on TV? Yes

Shot a gun? Yes

Skinny-dipped? Yes

Gave someone stitches? No

Eaten a whole habenero pepper? No

Ridden a surfboard? No

Drank straight from a liquor bottle? Yes

Had surgery? yes

Streaked? Yes

Taken by ambulance to hospital? No

Passed out when not drinking? Yes

Peed on a bush? Yes

Donated Blood? No

Grabbed electric fence? No

Eaten alligator meat? Yes.

Eaten cheesecake? yes

Eaten kids' Halloween candy? yes

Killed an animal when not hunting? No

Snuck into a movie without paying? No

Written graffiti? No

Still love someone you shouldn't? No

Think about the future? Yes

Been in handcuffs? Yes

Believe in love? Yes

Sleep on a certain side of the bed? Yes

The time has come

Seven months ago I wrote about my most recent physical (Bad News Delivered)and the poor results of my blood tests at that time. I was put onto a different diet, told to work out more and lose more weight to try and stem the tide that seemed headed toward diabetes.

Well tomorrow I will go in for the follow up set of tests. I've lost 10-15 pounds since that last visit. I've worked out hard and am in pretty good shape. I've learned to eat better.

And a part of me is scared out of my tiny little mind. My next physical check up comes about 10 days later and we'll review the results. The tests will be bad enough (I'm a total weenie when it comes to drawing blood. The blood sugar test of course only requires drinking super sweet liquids and then peeing into jars but it's the one that holds the greatest dread) but the waiting till I hear the results will be even worse.

And if the news is bad...?

Trying not to think about that. I should have worked out more. I should have lost more weight. I feel like I screwed up again.

Keep me in your prayers.


Monday, August 17, 2009

Resource Review - The Journal of Student Ministries

OVERALL - The Journal of Student Ministries offers this about themselves - "Our primary purpose is to support adults in student ministry by providing insight into youth culture, fostering in-depth dialogue around important themes, and strengthening the student ministry community. We honor a variety of theological, political, and cultural traditions and promote healthy dialogue and honest critique; and we strive to elevate and learn from the role of distinctive cultures, ethnicities, denominations, and ministries within the Body of Christ." There is a website companion to the magazine itself

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? I have to be honest and say I'm undecided on the subject of youth ministry magazines. Some are very good and some start sounding the same after about a year's worth of issues. My experience with Journal of Student Ministries is that it falls in the excellent end of the spectrum. Lots of great topics done by great writers (the week I write this the topics on the web page include Leveraging Social Media to Multiply Missional Teams, What Should Youth Ministry Look Like? (by Grahame Knox who I really enjoy), Dealing with Teen Pregnancy, One Youth Worker’s Journey into Special-Needs Youth Ministry, and Book Review - The Youth Worker Book of Hope). There are links to blogs of folks associated with the magazine and video podcasts as well. So you've got lots of resources.

RESERVATIONS This is less the hands on kind of stuff and more the deep thinking end of the range. I know not everyone loves that as much as I do. You'll also find a very heavy emphasis on Youth Specialties stuff here because they are one of the primary partners in putting this together. So if you're desperately trying to escape the YS gravity well you may want to skip this.

RECOMMENDATION When the time comes when you want some deep think on the subjects around in youth ministry this is a great resource. Lots of challenging, well written material available.

Friday, August 14, 2009


This is just too funny. Think what you will of me but I think this is hysterical.

The View From the Phlipside

(These are the scripts from my weekly media commentary show on WFRA-LP Jamestown)

My name is Jay Phillippi and I've spent my life in and around the media. TV, Radio, the movies and more. I love 'em and I hate em' and I always have an opinion. Call this the view from the Phlipside

Wow, I never thought I'd see the day when I'd report this story. But here it is and it even makes an awful lot of sense. Coffee shops are cracking down on laptop users. In fact some are even giving the laptop brigade the old heave ho. That's hard for me to imagine. Let's face it coffee shops and computers have an almost primal link. There's a local place here in Jamestown that will RENT you a laptop if you'd like to surf while you eat even! Here's what's going on:

With the economic downturn folks have more time on their hands and they're spending it looking for jobs, networking, just trying to stay up with their lives. And let's face it, it's pretty boring being at home all the time. So you go down to your favorite coffee shop. But where you used to only spend an hour or so there before, because you had to get back to work, now you can spend HOURS there. Of course since you're out of work you're not going to be spending a lot of money. So you're going to nurse that cup for as long as you can. That, needless to say, is where the rub is. Coffee shops are businesses, very often small businesses. The lunch hour is especially vital for the survival of most of these businesses. The last thing they need is a lot of low spending squatters taking up all the retail customer real estate.

So several small coffee shops in New York City and a couple in San Francisco have laptop free times during the day now. 11 AM to 2 PM weekdays and 10 A to 3 P on weekends you need to do your surfing somewhere else. Other places are also limiting use during prime evening hours. In addition some places are increasingly worried about the electrical usage from these long term users. Outlets are being covered over to keep laptop users from plugging in. In at least two coffee shops in the Big Apple laptops are just verboten at any time.

How the backlash is going to develop will be an interesting development. But one person notes there's also an interesting sidelight to suddenly having to go elsewhere for your wifi (oh, let me suggest the public library is a great place to get some work done). What can develop out of this is the return of one of the greatest of all communications mediums. Remember when you went to the coffee shop - for some great conversation?


I know for a lot of older folks there are few things more annoying than watching the younger generation typing away furiously on their phones. There's something about the absorption into the process of sending text messages that just makes some people crazy. Of course we're also watching people do it while walking and sadly we've seen recently in Buffalo two young people killed apparently while the driver was texting. Never the less I think we need to acknowledge that whether we like it or not texting, in all its various forms, is here to stay. And here's the proof.

Item number the first - Black Hawk County in Iowa is now set up to receive text messages on its 9-1-1 service. At the start it's only on one service provider but you can expect to see that change (who wants to be known as the cellular service that won't let you call for help?). At first my reaction was "Come On!" but even a quick look shows that's this not a bad idea at all. If you are hearing or speech impaired being able to text emergency services will be a huge advantage. You're no longer tied down to specialty equipment in order to make the call. There are added advantages for situations when talking to the operator could endanger your life (think hiding in a closet while an abuser or even worse may be searching the house for you then add in kidnap victims and hostages). Plus this is a simple and quick means for the younger generation to communicate. I can only look in awe at the speed my younger friends can type out a text message. In emergencies speed IS of the essence.

Item the second is even more interesting. Twitter, the text message based micro blog service, seems to have found a new arena - religion. I'm sure there's been lots of religious tweeters before but there are two very interesting ideas under way. If you're Jewish saying a prayer at the Western Wall of the remains of the Temple in Jerusalem has always had a special place. But not everyone can get there. No worries! Now you can tweet your prayer, it will be printed out for you and placed in the wall! Meanwhile the Roman Catholic church seems to have its eye on the future as well. Cardinal Sean Brady of Ireland recently endorsed the idea of sharing prayers on a daily basis via either text or Twitter.

So be careful the next time you get grumpy with a young person texting near you. They might be chatting with a higher power.


Periodically while I'm watching TV a commercial will really grab my attention. Sometimes positively, sometimes negatively. If they really grab me I share them with you. Today it's the new Ford campaign that has grabbed me.

Before I get started let me make something clear. What follows is NOT a criticism of Ford's cars and Trucks. In fact as the son of a car guy (and former Ford employee) I'm very impressed with the current and coming models from the Blue Oval Boys. I just wish I could say the same about their current ad campaign.

Let's begin with a quick review – the automotive industry in the US has been getting hammered over the last several years. Within in the last year two of the big three have gone through bankruptcy and had to go hat in hand to the federal government for money to keep them alive. The exception to this was Ford. With some better management and product design they were in better shape to weather the storm and come out the other side ready to roll.

Which is why the current ad campaign puzzles me. It's the tag line that is the true source of my discomfort. “Why Ford? Why Not?”. Why Not? Really? Why Not is something I usually say when I agree to do something that I'll regret having done the next morning (Again this is NOT a comment about the product just the ad campaign people. Do NOT write me letters claiming I'm slagging Ford cars and trucks) A car company that has managed to do what Ford has done in the last year deserves a better ad campaign than one that say's “Hey, we're better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick”. Why Ford? Cause we're not as bad as THOSE guys.

The reality is that I think they're really close to a much better ad campaign. Let's keep everything else about the campaign, the look, the spokespeople, everything except the tag line. How about we use the ad time to tout all the great things about the new Ford products – styling, options, fuel efficiency. Then at the end it's “Why Ford? That's Why”. Positive and assertive rather than negative and insecure. It would be a campaign that aggressively pushes Ford forward as a winner, as an innovator and as a product you want in your life. Not something you're willing to accept until something better comes along.

Why should Ford change their ad campaign? That's why.

Call that the view from the Phlipside

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Wisdom of Gamaliel

From the Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 5:

34But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law, respected by all the people, stood up in the Council and gave orders to put the men outside for a short time.

35And he said to them, "Men of Israel, take care what you propose to do with these men.

36"For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a group of about four hundred men joined up with him. But he was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing.

37"After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census and drew away some people after him; he too perished, and all those who followed him were scattered.

38"So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown;

39but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God."

Gamaliel wasn't just "some guy". He was a man greatly respected in his time, acknowledged to have a great understanding of the Law and someone who held the highest position in his community. Paul is said to have been a student of his at one point. In his time and place Gamaliel is "establishment" to his core, a solid, orthodox kind of guy. Grandson of Hillel, one of the great Jewish teachers, he also had serious family connections.

In other words he was someone worth listening to back in the day. And I think the same can be said today. In the conflict in TEC and the commentary that is being offered from all sides perhaps we need to simply listen to the words of the Rabbi.

The concept of judging someone or something by their "fruits" is one that we see again in the Gospel of Matthew ("Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter." MT 7:19-21). It gives us an interesting challenge as new ideas bubble up within the church. If it is of God then it will thrive and if it isn't then it can be and will be (and should be) stopped.

There is a challenge in this for both sides. For the conservatives it means allowing at least the possibility that the liberals might be trying to do something good. And giving them the room to do so (Although it's interesting to note that while the Sanhedrin did take Gamaliel's advice not to kill the apostles they still felt the need to flog them and tell them to stop preaching the Gospel. That no doubt made them feel better but did nothing to change the course of what was to come). For the liberals it means we have to acknowledge that we might be wrong. We must be willing to submit ourselves to Gamaliel's standard. This "new thing" needs to result in a positive, God inspired growth in the life of the church. If we truly believe in what we're doing we should be able to accept that standard without flinching. I believe we can easily meet the Rabbi's mark so I have no fear of it.

I also find it interesting that it is Gamaliel, the bastion of the establishment, who offers this thought. Paul the student (and I'm aware there is some dispute about whether he was. Paul says he was and I'll go with that for the moment) clearly breaks with his teacher on this point. The future apostle's actions in hunting down the new church, persecuting them and active involvement in things like the stoning of Stephen show that he rejects this teaching of the Rabbi. The establishment preaches patience and the younger generation preaches action.

Sometimes the older generation DOES know a thing or two.

As we move forward trying to discover God's intent for this corner of his church I think we would be well advised to keep Rabbi Gamaliel in mind.


(Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Version, courtesy of

Monday, August 10, 2009

Resource Review -

OVERALL - is an initiative of the Center for Youth Ministry Training and the Lilly Foundation, and it is designed to equip, encourage, and empower adults who work with young people in the church or parachurch.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? It never ceases to amaze me the amount of great material that is available for free. If you're looking for a website that is really aimed at helping you better prepare for and be in your ministry with young people this site has a lot to offer. You'll find stuff for Programming, Event planning, Training (for youth, volunteers, youth ministers and parents!), Tools for dealing with Technology, Advice, Soul Care and more. It's created by some very excellent people and is carefully thought out. They also offer a free newsletter and more. An excellent site to have in your bookmarks.

RESERVATIONS I haven't found anything that particularly concerns me. The offerings in the bookstore are good but are mostly stuff you'll find elsewhere as well (lots of YS stuff as an example). So if you're looking for a new source for books and materials this isn't really it.

RECOMMENDATION It's high quality material, well written and extremely useful, and it offers lots of FREE resources. It's backed by two very excellent reputation groups as well. What's not to like?

Resouce Review - Correction

It has been brought to my attention that EMX - Episcopal Mission Exchange, which I reviewed back in April is no more. That's a great loss as far as I'm concerned because it was a great idea. But these things happen.

What it also means is that I'm down one resource in my search to 52 reviews in 52 weeks. So some week soon you'll be getting two to make up for the unfortunate loss of EMX.


Friday, August 07, 2009

The View From the Phlipside

These are the scripts to my weekly media commentary program called "The Phlipside" which airs on WRFA-LP Jamestown NY Tuesday - Friday at 7:45 AM and 5:05 PM (or thereabouts). I also have a Twitter account for the show @radiophlipside.

My name is Jay Phillippi and I've spent my life in and around the media. TV, Radio, the movies and more. I love 'em and I hate em' and I always have an opinion. Call this the view from the Phlipside...

Hollywood is such a delightfully weird place. It keeps me in lots of topics to discuss some weird and some wonderful and some, well I'm still trying to figure those out. This time let's take a look at some movies that are just at the very beginning of their process.

We've got several sequels that are getting ready to start shooting in the next year or so. It's hard to explain why they're looking at a sequel to the movie Hitman. What's that you say, you don't remember any such movie? Not surprising, it was a total bomb here in the U.S. for the simple reason that it was awful. But the overseas crowd loved it so we get to see a sequel. More popular around these parts were the first three Pirates of the Caribbean, although I think they get less wonderful with each title. Rob Marshall will apparently be the director. We can only hope he does a better job than he did with "Chicago". Rumor has it that Pixar and Disney are looking at a Monster's Inc 2 which might be pretty cool. Disney has registered the domain name for which might be a clue, of course they also registered a domain name for Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2 as well.

On the more inexplicable side we have a remake of the classic Errol Flynn pic Captain Blood. The spin on this one is that the classic pirates tale will be moved to outer space. You mean like Han Solo already did? How about a Mad Max 4? OK how about not? Could start shooting next summer. Really topping the inexplicable list however is Stephen Spielberg's announcement that he will direct a remake of the 1950 classic "Harvey". In case you're not into old movies this was a Jimmy Stewart film about a guy with an invisible friend. A six foot three inch tall invisible rabbit named Harvey. Now that sounds pretty lame. In fact the movie is rather amazing very carefully balancing the question of whether the main character is eccentric or out right nuts. Based on a Pulitzer prize winning play it ranks as the #35 movie of all time according the American Film Institute. It's essentially a perfect film. So what do you do with a remake?


So how do you survive the change in the media environment if you're an old line medium? That question is still to be found but the folks at Barnes and Noble are taking a promising approach. I've mentioned before that I'm a dedicated reader and it is my fervent hope that the book industry never fades away. But it is facing some serious challenges today.

So here's what Barnes and Noble is doing - they're finding a way to bring media savvy, digitally connected people into, of all places, a bookstore! And that might just be a good boost to the old business. Barnes and Noble has announced that they are coming out with an ebook reader to take on Kindle, have opened an ebookstore, are offering a free ebook reader application for use on computers and smart phones and oh yeah are now making all their stores free WiFi locations. The ebookstore is offering access to no less than seven hundred thousand titles to start. This is worth noting about that number - about two thirds of them are public domain titles. Still that's four hundred thousand more than are offered by Amazon through Kindle. You can download and preview any of the titles, the pay titles start under ten bucks.

So why do I like this move? Simple first it eliminates a road block to users getting access to your online offerings, Second it's free and the new marketing thinking is that you have to offer a Freemium to the current generation of media users to get them to buy. Start them off with freebies and they're more likely to become paying customers. Third is actually some old school marketing. If you can get the customer through the door your chance of selling them something increases. They come in, check out the free wifi, scan the ebookstore, take a wander through the store to stretch their legs and discover something that appeals to them. Sure they might be able to get it for less online somewhere but here it is, in their hands, right now. No waiting for the package to be shipped, they can take it home this instant. Never underestimate the power of instant gratification. And BANG, all of a sudden you've made a sale.

I'm in favor of anything that keeps people reading and bookstores in business.


I never understand why intelligent people insist on acting like idiots. And there's no doubt that CNN talking head Lou Dobbs is a bright guy. Harvard degrees in Economics don't just fall off trees. So explain to me why Lou is caught up in the latest resurgence of the "birthers" debate around President Obama.

In case you're not up to speed on this one the birther question is whether the current President of the United States is a natural born citizen as is required by the Constitution. The question first came up during the Democratic primaries and I thought had been put to rest but apparently not. Lou has done repeated shows on this supposed "question" over the last couple months. Dobbs himself keeps saying he believes the President meets the Constitutional requirement then keeps the story rolling with yet another segment.

Let's be clear: no one in their right mind thinks this is still an open question. Ultra conservative commentator Ann Coulter thinks Dobbs needs to shut up on this question. Pretty much everyone EXCEPT a bunch of far right wing nuts and Lou Dobbs want to move on.

For the record here are the FACTS - The state of Hawaii went into its archives and has produced the original birth certificate with all appropriate seals and signatures. The archives of two separate Hawaiian newspapers show the birth announcement of the President at the time and place indicated. All appropriate authorities have acknowledged that Barack Hussein Obama meets the citizenship requirement to hold our highest office. You may think the President is an idiot but you can't say he's not a citizen. Not without sacrificing an awful lot of credibility.

So why is Lou Dobbs so prepared to do just that? Why sacrifice a reasonably distinguished reputation? I say reasonably distinguished because Dobbs did once order coverage of the President's visit to Columbine following the school shootings to be cut short so CNN could return to his show Moneyline. Seems Lou has these slips in decision making periodically. The answer these days seems pretty simple. Dobbs current show, Lou Dobbs Tonight, has been losing viewers for a while now.

Call that the view from the Phlipside

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Bicyles, Theater and Golf

(Imagine my surprise when I checked in at MadPriest's blog this morning and discovered a link to me with the announcement of my "new project" starting tomorrow. Gulp! I thank His Madness for the prayers. Guess I better go double check my spelling)

In other news:

It was a great weekend for theater at Maison DaYouthGuy. We saw an adaptation of Edgar Lee Masters "Spoon River Anthology" done at our local cemetery. The venue was appropriate since SPR is really a series of epitaphs for the fictional people of his town. Many of the stories overlap and the local group who did it brought those stories together(review). It was very well done, at night lit by torches and lanterns (and a few carefully spotted electric lights). Nice to see something unusual and rather inventive being done around here. The next day we saw Tennessee William's "The Glass Menagerie", a very special play in my family. It was one of my best roles as a college actor and during the time of the show my wife and I (both in the cast - I as Tom and she as Laura) began to date. Really liked the show (although I had a few quibbles with the Tom portrayal, probably unavoidable, lol!) The cast was great as was the set. Don't know why I don't see more theater at Chautauqua it's just down the road and they have a great company and building. (Review - by a fellow Episcopalian no less!)

Finally got out onto the golf course for the first time. Golf is a wonderful, awful, magnificent, evil game. If you've ever played you understand that statement. Otherwise, just take my word. Given that I hadn't even picked up a club in about a year I wasn't too unhappy with the round. Hit a good many shots exceptionally well. But just one or two really bad ones will destroy your score. Curious moments. I lost four balls during nine holes. Yet I finished with the same ball I had teed up at number one. Thought I'd lost it several times only to find it again. After a fairly awful second half I played the final hole (a par 5) absolutely perfectly, gave myself a shot at an honest birdie and settled for a par when my putt came up just a few inches short. Weird game. I love it.

Rode the bike into work today. That's about 21 miles. Took slightly longer this time but I had to stop and get my sunglasses and bike lock from the kid and that slowed me down by about 10 minutes. Otherwise it was about 1:35 for the ride. Not too bad I think. I'm really hoping to get a lot more riding in but the schedule and the weather are not cooperating.


Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Thoughts on the blog

I started this blog six years ago as a way to keep people up to date on my adventures at General Convention 2003. Since then it's been a lot things for me. There has been one question I've always struggled with however. Is this primarily a ministry related blog or is it a personal blog that includes my ministry? It seems like there should be a dividing line between my "work" and my "life". At the same time I don't believe that a life in faith is properly lived out divided from the rest of our lives. We live our faith out best when it simply becomes part of the whole, coloring, flavoring and influencing who we are and what we say and do. My faith has certainly become that for me.

At the same time I know that I'm not now, nor am I likely to ever be one of those "nice Christians". It's just not in my nature. Some of what I think and occasionally say would set off some folks. Not just in the blogosphere but potentially in my "real" life as well. So I am faced with the question of how much I censor myself here simply out of self preservation. My lifelong attitude is that I work very hard, really sink myself into my work (and perhaps especially the work I've been doing for the last 9 years) and that any "company" dumb enough to fire me I probably don't want to work for. I've been told that's fairly arrogant. OK, I'll take your word for it. Why a company WOULDN'T want an intelligent, hard working employee who is willing to be as honest as he can for the good of the company I'm not quite sure. But then I don't get a lot of what passes for common wisdom. Some places prefer compliance to competence. So far that hasn't been a problem with the diocese (Thank you God and Bishop Michael!)

With that in mind I intend to broaden the scope of what I write about here. Currently it's mostly youth ministry and fairly trivial personal stuff. Beginning on Friday I'll be sharing the scripts to a media commentary program I do for a local low power FM radio station operated by our local Arts Council. I've been in and around the media my whole life either as a Baby Boomer raised by the TV, as a movie fan and later as radio professional. The opinions are fun for me and worth every penny the station pays for them (I'm a volunteer). I do three shows a week, each about two minutes thirty seconds. I'll combine the scripts into a single post of about 1200 words. No guarantee of profundity but it's something I do. In order to give priority to their broadcast I'll post the scripts on Fridays.

I will probably also begin to branch out into other topics all of which will be colored by my theology. We'll see how that goes. Again I have no idea if I have anything worth listening to but we won't know till we start.

It's time to see if this blog can stand the strain of being a fuller representative of its author.

Wish me luck.


Monday, August 03, 2009

Thoughts on New Orleans

The trip to do post-Katrina work in the Big Easy was everything I expected and nothing at all like I thought it would be.

As expected it was:

Lots of Work
Wonderful People
Full of Surprise both good and bad

What didn't I expect?

I didn't expect to walk out of All Souls to greet the visiting group of Episcopal Youth from a different diocese and run into my friend Eric Travis. Proof positive of how small our church can be. Add to that listing the fact that Fr. Wright knows my aunt. They got a chance to reconnect when she came to see me one day.

Out of 38,000 Lutheran youth and leaders I didn't expect to even see someone I knew. But I saw Jason Yelder leaving Cafe du Monde while I was there. It was too noisy and we were too far away for me to say hello.

I didn't expect the overwhelming and heartfelt appreciation of average New Orleanians for the work of volunteers to come and help them re-build. It wasn't a polite, quick thank you but sometimes effusive thanks. They would share their stories and emphasize how important volunteers were to the future of rebuilding the city. They would share stories with us and take some time to thank us again. And it happened all over the city, not just in the areas hit hardest.

I wasn't prepared the level of still existing destruction and disorder. This is one of America's great cities and four years later parts of it(large parts of it) are still a mess. I know it's a big project and we were never going to get it fixed overnight. Somehow it feels like we ought to have done better than this. Blame seems to be spread over the city, state and federal levels. I don't care whose fault it is, it needs to be fixed.

I didn't expect to fall back in love with the French Quarter quite as much as I have. It reminds me very much of old European cities in some ways and I desperately want to come back just as a tourist with my lady wife and stroll its streets, listen to its music and eat its food. Yes it's dirty and touristy and all the rest in many places but that's fine. The real world is a little down and dirty.

That may be the biggest reminder/lesson of all this. The world isn't this nice clean orderly place. Suburban Buffalo or life in a small village isn't really reality in some ways. We are blessed, even on our worst days. The worst blizzards I've experienced over the last 25 years didn't do the kind of damage Katrina did. Our lives are very safe and quiet and secure. We should cherish that more than I think we do.


Resource Review - Center for Parent Youth Understanding

Center for Parent Youth Understanding

OVERALL - A great source for understanding the influences on our young people so we can better understand and relate with them. All done from a Christian faith basis.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? If you get my youth leaders newsletter you've seen lots of reports that I found through CPYU. Walt Mueller does a great job sifting through the media and offering up lots of information about how it may affect our youth. Some of it is scary and some reassuring

RESERVATIONS Walt and I don't always see eye to eye on some issues. But then my wife and I don't always see eye to eye either.

RECOMMENDATION I'm a big believer in going deeper and learning more. So if you like the study and facts this is the place for you.