Monday, May 8, 2017

Money And Numbers

Both Mr Chadwick and Ms Gyapong have recently accused me of having a cold and managerial perspective on the OCSP. On one hand, I think as an amateur writer Ms Gyapong is trying to play against some sort of American stereotype, but on the other, I'm wondering if both are missing a much bigger point. It reminds me of our diocesan pastor, who noted in a homily that some people complain about how much he talks about money, but after all, how many times does Jesus Himself talk about money in the gospels?

Which brings me to a favorite passage from Luke 14:

28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build, and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and take counsel whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends an embassy and asks terms of peace.
Our Lord's basic point is that we have to calculate the cost of faith, which in this case is everything, but we definitely have to be realistic about it. How many stewards appear in the gospels? Stewards are what we would now call estate managers. Our Lord certainly doesn't suggest that if we want to build a tower, we ignore the cost and say the Lord will perform miracles -- that way lies being mocked.

A visitor agrees with Ms Gyapong here:

I do however think that we best be careful in any assertions that OCSP communities aren't worthwhile just because they are small. . . . Who knows what financial sources or gifts may accrue to the tiny OCSP groups Now I realize that in business we do not launch into a new venture without the money being there, and without our "exit strategy" in place. But these aren't businesses, and the boss is God. Two or three gathered in His name have Him in their midst.
But set this against the Parable of the Talents. The successful servant is the one who multiplies the resource. Or the Parable of the Fig Tree (Luke 13:6-9):
6 And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. 7 And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Lo, these three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down; why should it use up the ground?’ 8 And he answered him, ‘Let it alone, sir, this year also, till I dig about it and put on manure. 9 And if it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”
Bishops, of course, have a strong managerial role. I assume they must spend quite a bit of time on questions like closing and merging parishes. Bp Lopes will be derelict if he doesn't begin to pursue this question as well, and I don't get the impression he means to be derelict. Regarding groups and their relative success, with particular reference to the one forming in Pasadena, my regular correspondent notes
Groups which entered without their former clergyman's being ordained---St Edmund, Kitchener and St Benedict, Edmonton, for example---have failed to thrive, even by the low standards of the OCSP. So it was perhaps inevitable that the bar was low in the first few years.

But things have tightened up, I perceive. That is why having a group up and running is, I believe, crucial for [Fr Bartus's Pasadena protégé]. As you point out, he has had five years to get something together on his own but until Fr Bartus got heavily involved, and as we recall he has been working at this for over a year, trying a number of locations, we have heard nothing.

When the Pasadena Ordinariate Group Evensong was a FB "event" last year to which Fr Bartus had sent literally thousands of invitations, the 20 or so who planned to attend were lifelong Catholics; at least that was my conclusion based on their FB pages. So this is not an evangelistic effort in Pasadena, or even an effort to connect ex-Anglicans with their patrimony.

It's a make-work project.

It seems to me that most of the groups-in-formation haven't thrived. They seem to have served as justifications for ordaining opportunist clergy, with little realistic prospect of growth -- indeed, as far as I can see, there's a complacent faction within the OCSP's clergy who are content to wear the collar and carry the prestige, but were never really cut out to build a parish. In fact, the prior records of several should have given some indication that that's how things would turn out.

The vinedresser didn't tell the landowner to wait for a miracle, after all. He said he'd give the tree some hard work, and if that didn't help, the owner could cut it down. The boss is definitely God.