Incoherent Ramblings About Pay and Equity

I know there is a lot of consternation over the bloated salaries and golden parachutes on Wall Street and in some of the largest corporations.  Why, we wonder, would incompetent failures be so handsomely rewarded for screwing up so badly?  I don’t know why either, but my observation over the years is that a similar psychology is at work in congregations.  A pastor who has served his or her congregation faithfully and well is most likely to get a potluck supper and a few best wishes cards upon departure.  On the other hand, a pastor who has really messed things up and done a rotten job is likely to receive as much as the local congregation can possibly scrape together to get rid of him or her. 

Now, that’s not true in every denomination.  I never have figure out what logic inspires Methodist bishops to move people around the way they do, but I suspect there is something of a reward/punishment equation at work.  Catholic bishops can do the same but are usually advised by a committee of senior clerics who take care to maintain the equilibrium as best they can.  Until recently, they just shipped miscreants to some other diocese.  And the revolving doors at many Congregational and Baptist churches simply baffle me.

Perhaps we Episcopalians do have the best way after all, no matter how messy it is.  A rector cannot be called without a long involved process requiring the approval of dozens of committees, the bishop and God.  It’s not all that hard to skip the God part, but that almost always leads to disaster.  Moreover, the congregation cannot fire a rector.  Only the bishop can do that.  They can, however, make his or her life quite miserable and that usually does the trick.  More often than not, it’s like a marriage.  Since divorce is so unpleasant, it’s better to learn how to get along with each other in growing love for each other.

But I digress.  The point is that there is something weird in our national psyche that will not or cannot connect performance with compensation in a rational way, and that’s most obvious when we over-pay goofy executives with big egos and little talent while being penurious about the rank and file who actually do the work.  Doesn’t anybody ever read Amos or the Sermon on the Mount, or how about the entire letter to the Ephesians?

Oh, who cares!  I’m retired.  I’m on Maui on vacation.  Let’em eat cake, or drink martinis, or whatever.  By the way, it’s pretty evident over here that the big spenders are a lot fewer than in years past, and I think this is the first year that I have not seen a herd of private jets at the airport.  And yes, we do come here often, and are very grateful for the ability to do so.  I’d much rather write about the magnificence of whales and turtles, of ancient lava walls and wahi pana, and of whether the monarchy might ever be restored in a way that could recognize all “citizens of Hawaii” and not just the kanaka maoli.  Seems unlikely doesn’t it?  After all, we stole the place fair and square.  But I digress again.  Besides, I’m just another tourist.


11 thoughts on “Incoherent Ramblings About Pay and Equity”

  1. Today I had a class in economics cum Parcells. The class was excellent. I can\’t seem to learn in class in any dignified way. It seems I must struggle with the teacher, class and with myself. Di spite what was said, I believe that any stimulus bill of almost a million bucks will cripple our country for generations to come. The stock market – Dow – is under eight thousand because no one can figure out what is to be done with this dreadful economy. We can not just live and let live. We don\’t know enough to judgeThe answer for all human error seems to be punishment not rehabilitation. We don\’t know enough to gurantee justice either so I include the quote from Socrates Posted by: oldgianni / 9:00 PMI think that what you say is quite true, Socrates. Then if a man says that justice consists in the repayment of debts, and that good is the debt which a man owes to his friends, and evil the debt which he owes to his enemies, –to say this is not wise; for it is not true, if, as has been clearly shown, the injuring of another can be in no case just. The Republic, Book one By Plato Written 360 B.C.E Translated by Benjamin Jowett Posted by: oldgianni / 8:51 PM

  2. Perhaps CPIt is our inability to live in the reality that is our now. What and who we encounter on our journey becomes secondary to our fears, often based on the ought to, should, scripts that run in our head, and shield our hearts from the circumcision that is the desire of our God.Instead of the world problems of finance (and yes they do affect us all) might I suggest a morning or evening walk on the beach when the locals are fishing, Helping them pull in the nets, get wet and fishy with them, laugh and hear them tell of their fears and dreads. Then when they invite you and SSister to dine with them, celebrate it as the Eucharist that IS. Or might I suggest the gentle creature who has given his soul over to too much chemical to sooth his fears and is without food, sharing Eucharist with him at the local Mc Donalds? I know he has had others buy him a burger and fries, but it has been a long while since any one had one with him. Maybe setting aside an unusually large tip for the wait person who you may encounter, who perhaps is not as good as you would desire, but you can tell their lack of performance is because this is their third job and they still don\’t think they can ,,, make it.Most of all revel in the whales, the garden, the love of your life, your companion to do the work.Have faith, you are where you are to be to do the work.

  3. Wise advice Bruno, and we\’ll take you up on some of it. I have no idea why, but from the first moment I stepped off a plane in Honolulu in 1968 I knew that these islands are where my heart and soul are more richly nourished and refreshed than anywhere else. My kama aina and kanaka friends think I\”m just being overly romantic about it, but after all these years I figure there is something else to it. CP

  4. In response to your long digression on ministerial mobility in some American denominations: It is not surprising that RC bishops move their clergy around like pawns in a chess game, since that is the ecclesial polity of that church, but the same is true, somewhat surprisingly, of the very American Methodist bishops, and this has been true of the American Methodist Church since its founding in 1784! Sydney Ahlstrom (A Religious History of the America People,1975)says that \”In the independent American (Methodist) church, the superintendent (or bishop, as he came to be called) wielded more actual authority than any other Protestant official. Once elected,he could assign men to these traveling circuits…as he saw fit.\” John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, a priest of the Church of England, had, after much hesitation, decided to ordain ministers for his churches without waiting for Anglican bishops to do so, as they had been recalcitrant. He objected, however, to the American decision to call their superintendents \”bishops\”, not wishing so complete a break from the Church of England. (English Methodists still do not have bishops). Bishops of the Church of England were also recalcitrant to ordaining bishops for even the Anglicans of the new American republic, but finally yielded so that American Anglicans could have an \”episcopal\” church (which many are now leaving, in the 21st century, to go to South America or Africa to get their new bishops!)American Methodist bishops seem to have more actual power over their clergy than American Episcopal bishops!At least about moving them.

  5. \”Why, we wonder, would incompetent failures be so handsomely rewarded for screwing up so badly? \”\”A pastor who has served his or her congregation faithfully and well is most likely to get a potluck supper and a few best wishes cards upon departure. On the other hand, a pastor who has really messed things up and done a rotten job is likely to receive as much as the local congregation can possibly scrape together to get rid of him or her\”A matter of knowing and truth maybe? The rewards are given. I know of a rector who runs his parish like a very big corporation. He is put up in a mansion, drives a very large car, is sent all over the world on \”required sabbaticals\” dresses in designer suits and is spearheading a campaign to have a new office complex built that is designed by a world renowned architect for a minimum of forty five million dollars. When he celebrated his anniversary of rectorship, there were marching bands, and speakers from all faith traditions (except other christian denominations) and the streets were closed off around the church to accommodate the celebration. He proudly proclaims that he tithes (he makes more than the bishop, than many bishops) and rewards those in his church who tithe. When he retires he will no doubt get great gifts and compensations as the congregation knows this is who he is, and what they want, (the hand picked vestry knows) He is rightly proud of his parish, and his parish is rightly proud of him. I know of a rector who is fighting to keep a parish open. He earns about the wage of a sales clerk, drives 30 plus miles to his parish, as there is no rectory. gives out his cell phone number in all parish publications, so he can be reached at any time. Is gentle of spirit, dresses modestly, has open discussions and seems unwilling to manipulate. When there is a celebration for him, it is pot luck in the parish hall, when he retires he will get, an icon maybe, a pot luck, and God willing the knowledge that he shepherded a congregation to solvency, but knowing him, the baptisms blessings and funerals he shared will be his reward.We should know that the heart seeks it\’s own rewards. And the heart is known by how we are. There is a difficult truth in the Eucharistic prayer \”shed for many\” unlike the new version \”shed for all\” that we hear today. In our protestant fervor we assume that evangelization has it\’s end result in conversion of life. Not all who say \”Lord, Lord\” will be recognized as his own. No, indeed not all will take on the call to follow the Christos, and that is as it should be. \”Lord, Lord\” is word, in the beginning was the word, it is when the word is made flesh that the miracle happens. Conversion of the way of being, the heart is revealed by how we are, and maybe rewards are given appropriately.

  6. Thank you again Bruno. On Sunday I will have the honor of presiding at the table at Holy Innocents where the rector is one of those very gifted servant leaders. I wonder if the mega-rector you know has ever read Erasmus\’ little book, In Praise of Folly.CP

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