I LOVE comments. Please leave some even if they are brief half-formed ideas
that you aren't even sure you really believe. I just love comments.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Here is a tag cloud generated by TagCrowd.com. I was thinking about using this to organize my labels, but I couldn't figure out how to get the links. But this is the sermon I gave the Sunday after Christmas.

created at TagCrowd.com

And here is the obituary of my grandmother written by my dad.

created at TagCrowd.com

Man, there are some cool things on the internet.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A schmidge more about compensation

First, I want to disclose that compensation interests me because one way or another, compensation determines who works for you and how hard. In some sense this is true of pricing as well. But prices are for everyone and compensation is for each one. Anyway, that's why I'm concerned about it.

Matt proposed a very powerful rule: Compensation is based on scarcity. Lots of things are wrapped up in scarcity such as the time it takes to train a worker with a set of skills, natural ability and the undesirable nature of the work.

Liam seemed to suggest another motivation for different levels of compensation, that is matching responsibility/authority.

I wonder if there is a third element of difference which is custom. My suggestion is that if society has viewed a position as being less worthy of compensation, it will be compensated less regardless of how scarce it is.

For the time being, I would like to keep it within the same field. But consider idea versus detail jobs. I think idea jobs are always better compensated than detail jobs. Is that because those capable of idea work are more scarce that those capable of detail work, or is it because in order to maintain order idea people need to be better compensated, or is it because we have customarily compensated idea people more generously.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Question for the Day

Is combative language always more motivating than constructive language? E.g. "Are you ready to fight for equality in America?" versus "Are you ready to help build a more equal America?"

Noodling Around with Economic Justice

I have an honest question: Why should managers, officers, principals, lawyers, doctors, make more money than workers, soldiers, teachers, secretaries, nurses?

I describe this as an honest question because I am not saying that this is wrong. I am just wondering what is the justification (if there is one) for the differences. Is it hours worked? Is it value, preparation, rarity of skills, impact on profit, reward for an undesirable aspect of the job?

Just so the discussion has some grounding, not because these numbers are particularly solid, but they seems generally close to what my understanding is, here is what Indeed.com says about various folks who work in my field.


Monday, January 12, 2009

Lord, you knew me in the womb

The following portion of Psalm 139 is in our lectionary for next week. (I found a discussion board for such things on a "Desperate Preacher's Site.". Interesting.)
1 O LORD, you have searched me
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.

3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.

4 Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O LORD.

5 You hem me in—behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
The Commentary and Reflection on this Psalm in the New Interpreter's Bible, Abingdon Press, note that "[e]xplicitly theological concepts like omniscience and omnipresence are often applied by interpreters of Psalm 139 [but] almost inevitably these terms will fail to do just to the psalm, since the psalmist did not intend to articulate systematically a doctrine of God."

That's good, because if the psalmist was articulating a systematic doctrine, we would pretty much have to accept predistination, not to mention the idea that life begins at conception. I don't want to do either of those things.

As it is, all I have to do is figure out what it means for God to know me so intimately that I cannot hide from God. Is that good, or does it "hem me in"? This psalm seems to play with the comfort and accountability of knowing you are never alone. It's like when a friend or loved one reminds you of "who you are." Sometimes it can be a joy; sometimes it can be hard.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Perfect Parable

Rev. Linda Miller finished her sermon this morning with what I think is a perfect parable for the emergent church. Here it is:
There was once a poor family in a small town. They were plagued with financial woes and bad luck, and even though the mother had taken in laundry and ironing to try to make ends meet, they couldn't keep up. Their home and furniture were worn slick with use. They were good people in a bad way.

The community decided to help. It offered to build the family a new house. It wouldn't be luxurious, but it would be more stable and safe. It would be a clean start. When the community told the mother she said, "Oh, thank you so much for your kindness and your offer, but I could never leave this house, it is my home."

Have we become so comfortable in our beliefs that even though they are worn slick with use, we cannot trade them in for a new home?
I think it is perfect because it is easy to sympathize with the poor mother. Some will read this story and see her as noble, and no one would read the story and see her as evil.

It is a parable addressed to a community that I don't concern myself with as much as others. It is addressed to those who are living in a faith that they've outgrown; those who are making excuses for failing of their faith.

I like it because if you are the poor mother--as I am in many ways, attached to a faith that my family has lived in for generations--it is scary to leave that comfortable home for nothing but a promise. If you view the promise as coming from scholars, disinterested academics, then it would be foolish to leave your comfortable home for that. But, if the community in the parable doesn't represent scholars and theologians, but God, then you would be foolish not to trust the promise. As I say to those who find questions about virgin birth, bodily resurrection and the historical Jesus scary, don't worry, God is big enough to weather your questions.