Catholic Culture Solidarity
Catholic Culture Solidarity

into the twilight

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Aug 04, 2007

Whenever an organization begins to lose its grasp on the message it wants to deliver, it concentrates its efforts on improving the means of delivery. With gratifying timeliness, ECUSA has responded to its identity crisis by developing an Organizational Effectiveness Plan to streamline the ministerial services whose purpose it can't seem to find.

Strategic groupings of advocacy, evangelism, leadership development, and partnerships -- together with a configuration of regional satellite offices to support strategic mission -- are central to a new organizational effectiveness plan to reshape ministries based at the Episcopal Church Center.

A new "diocesan services" unit, offering a comprehensive approach to local mission needs, is a highlight of the new plan initiated by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and drafted after five months of consultative work by two task forces.

"The new configuration will raise our level of service to the church," Jefferts Schori said July 26 while commending the plan’s outline to the Church Center management team. "There is remarkable synchronicity in the development of this plan, and great potential for creativity and capacity building."

Give credit where credit is due: the good Doctor didn't get where she is without skill in the bestowal of elegant and semantically vacuous compliments. Note down these gems for your own future use: "remarkable synchronicity," "great potential for capacity building" (potential for capacity building?). That's about as close to pure meaninglessness as you're likely to find without a prescription. There is no project, plan, document, or resolution whatsoever -- including the minutes of the Wannsee Conference and your son's third grade report card -- to which these pretty polysyllables could not be cheerfully applied.

Yet it's hard not to pick up a sense of desperate swagger in the use of quasi-military jargon such as "task force" and "strategic mission" -- muscle-flexing, heel-clicking words that suggest an ardor and singleness of purpose that isn't there. The crisis of liberal Christianity is precisely its inability to decide whether it has anything of value to give, and the language of mission is empty in the absence of an authority to do the sending. As with decaying religious orders in their death-throes ("that we may work toward deconstructing existing systems and constructing a new paradigm ..."), the grandiosity of objectives expands in inverse proportion to the power of failing eyes, muscles, faith.

The synchronicity is, well, remarkable.

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