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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  • Posted by: - Aug. 05, 2007 8:57 PM ET USA

    My only mission is to attain eternal life with the help of God. 'Nuff said.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 05, 2007 4:48 PM ET USA

    As we progress with the bishops and their anemic attempts to protestantize the Church, I pay less and less attention to whatever comes out of their mouths. Focus on what the supreme shepherd says. Benedict will not mislead. Find Peter and you find the Church. If you arelucky you might find abishop that follows Peter.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 04, 2007 10:49 PM ET USA

    sure seems to be modeled after some Dioceses' I know...and the USCCB too. is there ever an end to the planning (and "process") and a start to the "new evangelization?" Unlike the ECUSA, the true Church of Christ, the Roman Catholic Church, would never be in "death throes" but hopefully some of the countless committees, whacked-out religious orders, and other such are dying out! (as to the "mission statements" which are the fad---will be glad when they're gone also!)

  • Posted by: - Aug. 04, 2007 10:36 PM ET USA

    ?©ƒ†¥ strategery ®©v? œ©µ ÷8®ƒç in the synchronicity ?©v?˜?.... Way cool!

  • Posted by: - Aug. 04, 2007 6:29 PM ET USA

    I disagree with 30 year priest. It's nothing at all like being bombarded with popcorn. You can eat popcorn.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 04, 2007 4:44 PM ET USA

    I often asked myself, when having read the sort of "plan" of which this Episcopal document is an example (I have seen many similar examples from my own archdiocese) why I usualy have one of two reactions: being bored out of my mind or having the feeling of being bombarded with popcorn. Uncle Di has explained the reasons for my reactions. Thank you!

  • Posted by: - Aug. 04, 2007 4:29 PM ET USA

    We Catholics are not exempt. As I go from parish to parish I frequently note the "Mission Statement" of each parish. I infer that each was adopted after much earnest debate by a committee or infinity. They're filled with the same sort of palaver. I always want to hand the bulletin to the pastor and say, Any parish that has a mission other than to help souls get into heaven has no reason to exist.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 04, 2007 3:31 PM ET USA

    Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. How does that mandate stack up against the synchronicity of the Presiding Bishopess?