Monday, 5 April 2010

Ride a dead horse...

As our politicians try to find ingenious ways to save cash, Private Eye tells us that in 2007, The Ministry of Defence managed to find £700m of efficiency ssings, whilst the National Audit Office found that MoD’s procurement budget had ballooned by £733m the same year through “deliberate delays.” The dear old NHS last year saw a 2% rise in the number of nurses, 6% in the number of medical consultants, and 12% in the number of managers.

Meanwhile, in Churches all over the country, some programmed activities stagger on way past their sell-by date, bereft of passion, commitment and support, running on guilt and the fading memory of supposedly glorious days gone by.

Into these troubling predicaments ride Jeff and Caroline Wilkinson of Towson, Maryland, USA, (h/t Ali Kaan) with a breakthrough discovery for manegement consultants everywhere:

The tribal wisdom of the Dakota Indians, passed on from generation to generation, says that, "When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount." However, in modern business, education and government, a whole range of far more advanced strategies are often employed, such as:

  1. Buying a stronger whip.
  2. Changing riders.
  3. Threatening the horse with termination.
  4. Appointing a committee to study the horse.
  5. Arranging to visit other countries to see how others ride dead horses.
  6. Lowering the standards so that dead horses can be included.
  7. Reclassifying the dead horse as "living impaired".
  8. Hiring outside contractors to ride the dead horse.
  9. Harnessing several dead horses together to increase the speed.
  10. Providing additional funding and/or training to increase the dead horse's performance.
  11. Doing a productivity study to see if lighter riders would improve the dead horse's performance.
  12. Declaring that as the dead horse does not have to be fed, it is less costly, carries lower overhead, and therefore contributes substantially more to the bottom line of the economy than do some other horses.
  13. Rewriting the expected performance requirements on all horses.
  14. Promoting the dead horse to a supervisory position.
One might add “introducing a new appraisal scheme” and “setting smart targets.” Why don’t Christians have a more coherent internalised theology of death and resurrection? We are called to what St Paul called “carrying about in the body the death of the Lord Jesus so that the life of the Lord Jesus may live through us.” That’s why churches rot away on the outside, but are continually renewed within, by God’s good providence.

Inability or refusal to grasp and internalise this basic “life and death” principle of Christianity leads to triumphalism, dead institutonalism, infallibilism, fundmentalisms various, and paranoia about being persecuted. It saps energy and stirs contention. It encourages Christians in stormy waters to cling to the wreckage, when they should be putting out into the deep.

Real Easter faith, is accepting the deadness of what really is dead and to trusting in God, who raises the dead, for all that is to be. As demonstrated by Jesus on the night of his arrest, saving faith is about knowing we have come from God and are returning to him, whatever may come in between...

image of King Wenceslas riding a horse upside down from Adam Paul: All rights reserved. Used by kind permission.

8 comments:

ROBERTA said...

Just the image of the rider on the dead horse stopped me in my tracks. It showed the absurdity of the "list".......great post!

Ann said...

Alban Institute has something to say about change here. Deleted the other post as it was written before adequate coffee intake!

Lyn G. Brakeman said...

Riding a dead horse is worse than beating one to death! Love the image and its implications. I think our eucharistic liturgies are death-centered (lots of dying for us, remembrances of the death)So it's easy to forget Jesus also lived for us and lives on with us. No wonder we over-invest in death schemes.

Lesley Fellows said...

great post. makes me wonder what would be first against the wall come the revolution for you :)

Anonymous said...

I totaly agree with the Dead Horse Statement.
Heck I voted BNP the last 3 times, purley because Im sick to the back teeth with the other 3 Main Parties. Same old Same old.

Ya I know Nazi Scum.. Bla Bla.
Atleast they speak the truth no matter how painful it is.

I want Honesty for a change, Not glorified Lies. Heck let them live on less than 10k a year and see how long they last.

Im fed up with turning on the TV and hearing the same old dipressing Shite. Realy I am.

This country need to find itself again. United Kingdom. United under 1 Faith. Not some forced Homogenouse Cr*p that nobody want.
I want my kids to marry people like me. Not some ruddy forigners.

Ya I know call me a racist. But before you do. Look at yourself first.

God Bless.
Regards
WombatPPC

Pam said...

Sadly, pointing out that a horse has ceased to be is about as popular as pointing out that the Emperor is a bit garment impaired in most churches!

Maybe if 'what have you shut down this year' was asked on annual appraisals for clergy and if pruning activities was seen as a sign of a maturity and responsible stewardship in churches shutting things down when they've run their course would start to be seen as a positive rather than a failure.

Having taken the decision to shut something down that I was asked to run as a curate (because absolutely nobody in the church wanted to carry on working on it, which seemed to be a pretty good indicator that it wasn't where their energies lay), I found out recently that as soon as a new vicar came it was reopened - still with a complete lack of enthusiasm from church members!

Bishop Alan Wilson said...

Ann, many thanx for the Alban institute stuff; I take it Jim Kelsey was the guy who managed to run the whole diocese on half a dozen clergy. If so his methods were quite an inspiration over here, though I'm not sure anyone was able to implement them as directly in our rather different geographical circs.

Roberta, Lyn thanks for kind words. I like your phrase about over-investing in dead schemes.

Lesley, I wonder too. Trouble is the dead stuff is so habitual. But your is a fair question. If I could make a wish and change anything like this in Bucks, it would probably be a mass focussing up of our buildings, in a rather Richard Giles sort of way, thereby eliminating various old functionless relics, including a few pews which force us to model the social order as conceived in the 1850's when we worship. I'd opne up our amazing buildings to reveal their often hidden beauty and functionality.

Pam, I'm tempted to write your question into MDR schemes across the diocese!

Bishop Alan Wilson said...

WombatPPC In Australia they have the "none of the above" option (but I think voting is compulsory there).

All the evidence I see of BNP is that they're clowns. Nick Griffin doesn't even know Bishop Nazir Ali's name, but is trying to use religion to gain votes. How cynical is that? His recent interview about Christianity was, frankly, laughable. He seemed bizarrely ignorant about what Christianity was, let alone how you became one, or the history of religion in the UK.

Strikes me if people can get in touch with what they believe in positively they'd have a basis to vote for somethng they believe in as well as against something they hate — then we might begin to get somewhere...

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