I follow a couple of other Episcopal blogs that deal mostly with the politics of the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion. Sometimes I even add a comment or two of my own. The conversation does interest me, but I’ve noticed a troubling trend that I’ve seen before in the church, in business and in education. In the church, at least, it is manifested by an obsession with church politics that appears to diminish, if not demean, the central role of proclaiming the gospel. Of course it is true that in every profession there are those who are more concerned with the politics of their trade or professional associations, corporate entity and institutional dynamics than with customers, students, patients or parishioners. Even core products and services have to take a back seat. To be sure, healthy institutional structures and their internal cultures are important because they provide the organization and discipline needed to efficiently, effectively and ethically provide the products and services needed by clients and customers. Institutions really do need to be looked after. Someone does have to pay attention to them. But for some, perhaps too many, those structures and cultures become the raison d’etre, and the needs of those they are called to serve become all but forgotten. It’s a very seductive thing, and in many ways it’s a form of idolatry. Moreover, those who find themselves caught up in it tend to turn inward, excluding the ignorant heathen who are not privy to the inner workings of things, or who might remain naively focused on clients, customers and professional competency. There is even a kind of pagan priesthood made up of those who can accumulate the most inside knowledge and share it in the most enticing way to predict future events. It can happen anywhere, and if it gets out of control it can destroy the very institutions over which it obsesses and the careers of those who obsess. My advice to the church – stay focused on the gospel; don’t let anything displace it. Stay focused on that and you will not err too much.