Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Robbing Widows Blind

Thinking about a certain megachurch pastor in the area and how he connected himself with other megachurch pastors - one of whom is both unsavory and infamous - and how they are all about the money in the guise of being all about the ministry and God and how they have zero accountability because their churches are non-denominational and their elder boards (which in the schematic of CEO-like churches run by the head pastor act as, well, a board) are staffed by and headed by complete Yes Men.

Thinking in wider terms about how much is too much. Teachers are assailed for making around $50,000 a year with a kind of venom usually reserved for the evil landlord from vaudeville plays, while a "successful" (whatever that word means) pastor can make $600,000 (even as his church is millions of dollars in debt) a year. A "successful" businessman can make one-fourth to a hundred times as much.

Pastors Moneybags and Burns

The rubric for "successful" in this case is messed up, of course. How do we measure success? By the amount of money one is able to siphon from parishioners, customers, clients, workers, widows and the impacted communities? How we measure the success of teachers has already proven to be completely fallible, erroneous, and dangerous. So maybe we should redefine success, and re-calibrate its measurements thus. While we're at it, we we should reconfigure how we determine compensation.

Maybe success should look be assessed on the overall value our work gives to the world - in terms of the worker, her neighbors, the community, the world. In other words, the assessments should be tied to value and worth of the work and the worker (as they relate to the greater good of the world) as a much larger goal, rather than the explicitly limited topic of finances and how much money is generated/saved/returned. For in the former, we value people, we value work, we value life, we value knowledge, we value wisdom, we value relationships and everything that is good which we desire to share with one another. In the latter, money. When our work is tied into such a limited use, our work is of little use - it is stifled. And we, as workers and as beings, are stifled.

With this correction in goals, we must also ask what is it that we value. And who and how we value.

Additionally, when a pastor-as-CEO makes the primary goal money, he (or she) devalues the very flock that he is supposed to guide and care for. He looks upon his congregation not as fully human beings to be loved and nurtured and cared for, but as products and banks to be reaped and profited from. The widows no longer need care and solace, they need to be unloaded of their houses. The orphans no longer need protection, they are just in the way of the pockets of professional parents.

Now we must ask how to compensate. The worth is in the work and the worker, but again, we've tied it all to money and thus limited all three. Money should neither be the primary evaluation nor the primary compensation. For under that rubric, a few will position themselves to acquire the most while most are purposefully positioned to acquire little (and are thus sacrificed). Not only is this game not fair, it is not just. Not only are the rewards for the work not equitable, they are not humane. Some must starve while others have so much money they don't know what to do with it? This is cruel and unnecessary and does no promote value or work - it promotes brutality. A brutality that makes itself exceedingly well-known in Third World conditions that live within First World nations.

This is what I say: Let every teacher make just more than living wage. Allow every pastor to also make as much as a living wage. Every executive? Also, frame it on the living wage. Every farmer, harvester, technician, politician, homemaker, lawyer, accountant, mechanic, doctor, journalist, bureaucrat, deliverer, janitor, etc - all should make roughly a living wage - with modifications weighted to the worth of the work provided.

That may sound cruel. But this is also what I believe: Every home should be available and affordable and safe and functional for every person and family unitevery part of medical and dental care should be completely accessible, qualitative, and covered; every meal should be accessible, healthy, adequate, and free from poisons and heavy process,.

So, maybe that means a re-assignment of value and property. And maybe a James MacDonald won't have as much monetary property as before. But then, he won't have as much debt to worry (or make his congregation worry) about either.

That would seem to go well with the whole Jesus thing anyway. 

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