Showing posts from February, 2018

Time to market the Church

Occasionally I read books on business management. I read these books partially out of my continuing interest in the subject and partially because I learned much about people and organizations through my undergraduate degree in economics and graduate degree in business administration. Although marketing was never a special interest of mine, I recently read two books about marketing. That reading prompted two lines of reflection about the Church. First, the Church spends too little on marketing. There are some exceptions, e.g., some megachurches. But in general, the Church spends very little money or time on marketing, an activity which in ecclesiastical language broadly connotes telling the church’s story and evangelism in particular. Businesses, by contrast, routinely spend ten or twenty percent of revenue on marketing. The history of Christian marketing is familiar to many of us. In the beginning, the Church focused on marketing. Even before the Church existed, Jesus devoted

Why Jesus suffered on the cross

For the first time since 1945, Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday coincided this year. A creative person dreamt up some novel Valentine’s Day cards especially for the occasion. One read, “Violets are blue, roses are red, Lent is beginning, no chocolates for you.” Another read, “Won’t you be my Valentine, you miserable offender.” And a third read, “Remember you are dust, but awfully lovable dust.” [1] This week I listened to a domestic abuse survivor recount her life-changing visit to the state prison’s mental health unit. The visit’s coordinator instructed the women, both visitors and prisoners, to arrange their chairs in two facing rows, close enough to hold hands. Then they were to pray for one another. The prayer changed both the woman who told the story and the prisoner with whom she prayed. For the woman telling the story, the depth of the other woman’s anguish – an alcoholic mother, physical abuse from every male in her family who was supposed to protect her, and years in

The future of humans

This post appears on Ash Wednesday. The typical Ash Wednesday homily or theological reflection addresses sin and repentance, explaining the symbolism of the ashes imposed on foreheads. For some thoughts on that subject, read these previous Ethical Musings posts: Rethinking Ash Wednesday and Getting Ready for Lent . Instead, I want to consider the future of humans, not as individuals but as a biological species. Generally, this subject receives little explicit theological attention apart from affirmations that God, in God’s time, will fulfill God’s vision for creation. That also is not the focus of these musings. I just read two books on evolution, one arguing for a version of intelligent design and the other describing how Darwin’s theories emerged from his personal and familial interests. Both books emphasized evolution’s dynamism; neither book explored what that might mean for humans. Nevertheless, the books were a catalyst for these musings about future directions of human e

When winning at any cost is not worth it

The conviction of Dr. Larry Nassar for sexually abusing gymnasts he treated at Michigan State University and in the Olympic program has deeply disturbed me. First, his crimes were heinous and numerous. Second, numerous enablers were complicit in Nassar’s actions. These enablers turned a blind eye to warning signs, refused to act on complaints from the abused, and failed to establish adequate safeguards to prevent abuse, e.g., never allowing a male physician to see a female patient without another woman being present. Efforts to hold these enablers accountable should proceed along with mandating policies and protocols to prevent future incidents of abuse. Third, where were the athletes’ parents? International gymnastics are highly competitive. Successful athletes depend upon family sacrifices, support, and encouragement. Having a daughter in the ranks of elite athletes who are part of a winning program feels good for parent(s) and daughter alike. However, when the desire

#Me too

In my last Ethical Musings post, Employment and ethics , I argued that inculcating virtue is the best approach to Christian ethics. Women refusing to accept sexual harassment, especially in the workplace, have spawned the Hashtag Me too movement. Women are denouncing harassers; employers are beginning to take those complaints seriously, appropriately disciplining or firing abusive male employees instead of paying the accuse hush money upon signing a confidentiality agreement. One explanatory factor for the movement, although in no way a mitigating factor in terms of a harasser’s culpability, is that women historically were not part of the workforce. World War II marked the first widespread entry of women into the labor force. Regrettably, women entering the workforce did not become a catalyst for men treating women with the dignity and respect with which men treated male members of the workforce. Instead, men continued to devalue women. Too often, men regarded women as less

Employment and ethics

Recently, I talked to a man whose non-profit employer had restructured his job, significantly diminishing his title and responsibilities. The man understood that he was stretched too thin to meet expectations: he had a full-time job, another part time job, and the part time job at the non-profit from which the employer took away major responsibilities. However, what hurt was how the employer handled the change. The employer neither acknowledged the man’s key role in keeping the organization alive during a difficult transition nor had a personnel evaluation process to afford the individual time to improve before the reduction in status. That conversation pointed my thoughts toward the Hawaii state emergency agency employee who was fired for initiating last month’s false alert of an imminent nuclear attack on the island. The employee had a record of difficulties on the job that culminated in intentionally or unintentionally triggering the alert. What does the Bible have to say