Saturday, August 16, 2008

Saturday Standard- Stardust

Music by Hoagy Carmichael, performed by Nat King Cole. Music doesn't get much better than this.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Modern Higher Education


The punchline is the main malefactors are debate coaches at various universities. Don't you just love modern manners?

Friday Pirates

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Thursday Reflection

From "Romeo and Juliet" directed by Franco Zeffirelli, starring Leonard Whiting and the incomparable Olivia Hussey.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Lambeth Epilogue

I made the mistake of borrowing trouble and speculating that the fix would be in at Lambeth should anything be resolved. I also predicted that nothing would be resolved.

I was wrong on the former and right on the latter. Happily, the indaba groups and the reflections process were on the up and up. Sadly, that meant that they were meaningless and ineffective.

A Symptom of Trouble

Healthy organizations rarely have difficulty with getting support. Generally all that is needed is to state what the needs are and ask people to help. Governments resort to taxation because the needs are typically more than people would voluntarily contribute and to eliminate the problem of free-loading.

There is a proposal floating around that would tie General Convention participation by dioceses to their contribution of canonical expenses. It is being floated as the "Ananias Proposal". On the surface, that seems fair. "You have to pay to play", after all. And the major non-contributors are the diocese that are likely leaving.

However, one diocese that would be denied representation is that poster child for all that is wrong with the Episcopal Church, the diocese of Navaholand. If they have two cents to spare, I would be surprised. This proposal would deny them any representation.

Secondly, since when is our church run on capitalist principles? This proposal is quite similar to the old system o box or pew rent which was used until this past century to fund the churches. Pew rent resulted in the bulk of the congregation being crammed into the back couple of pews while the front pews remained paid for, but vacant.

More troublesome still is this language from the proposal: "Diocese X earned $100,000 in the triennium for which payments to the budget are calculated. The canonical portion of the budget in that triennium is 19%. Dioceses are asked to contribute 21% of their earnings for the triennium ($21,000). The deputies of the diocese would not be allowed to vote if the diocese did not pay at least 19% of the asking, $3,990.

If the proposal really were about a diocese's earnings, I would not have any difficulty with it at all. Most diocese's have general endowments, and tying participation to a contribution based upon the diocese's actual earnings from its endowment is quite fair. It would not impact poor duiocese at all and would hit the wealthiest ones in the passive income, which is most equitable.
However, the earlier language in the passage makes it clear that all monies acquired by a diocese are considered earned. This includes contributions. Counting gifts as earned bothers me. If I give my church money, I'df like to think that I do it not out of necessity but out of charity. For the church then to count it as earned means that the church requires me to do it. It no longer is a gift, but an exchange for services.

I'm a service professional. I charge for my time. Is the church supposed to be the same? If so, whom does it serve, a God who loved the sinners so much that He gave up his life as a free gift or Mammon in the marketplace?

Sunday, August 10, 2008