Monthly Archives: June 2018
Unholy Hype: Many churches & religious organizations are following the playbook of Madison Avenue & Dr. Goebbels
Back in the early 1980s, while working towards a graduate degree in biological anthropology, I held down a full-time job as EDP (Electronic Data Processing) Operations Manager for a major portable oil rig manufacturer in Dallas (Texas.) When I joined this firm, I had two computer operators and two data entry operators helping run a two (2) shift data processing operation. Our IBM computer was state-of-the-art for its time (see photo below) and was primarily used to process financial, accounting, inventory and engineering data for company divisions throughout the US and overseas.
As the firm grew my department got busier and as a result needed to hire additional personnel. I made a point of seeking out qualified people who basically had been passed over by local businesses. In the span of a year or so my staff grew from four to thirteen with most being minorities (like myself.) The systems engineering group that interfaced with those of us in operations were almost exclusively middle-aged white men and women, most of whom did not readily welcome my diverse crew into the fold as-it-were.
Did I hire people of color simply because I was a minority myself (American Indian)? Not at all. The fact is I felt what I was doing would in some small way help offset unwritten policies that had constrained the hiring of qualified minorities.
What is interesting is that with the passage of time the all-white systems crew and my racially, ethnically and religiously diverse operations group began moving from a guarded, formal “business only please” level of interaction into a warmer comfort zone characterized by friendly banter and even playful joking. This was exactly what I had hoped for and anticipated.
The director of MIS (Management Information Systems) for the company, a former NASA systems analyst who had moved into corporate management after leaving the famed space agency, was so impressed with how much of a family the entire information systems department had become that he held it up as a model to higher-ups including the board of directors.
Of course, young working professionals sometimes seize more lucrative opportunities elsewhere, a reality that was visited upon my department when my third shift computer operator was offered a fatter paycheck and shorter commute by a competitor. I was sad to see her go but plowed ahead and began running ads in local newspapers and trade publications. Soon my mornings were filled with conducting interviews.
Now hang in with me – I have a point to make which ties into an egregious practice at work in companies across this nation.
During the course of conducting interviews a middle-aged gentleman came through my office door clutching his resume. After handing me a one-page summary of his impressive qualifications he told me straight up that he had lost his job when his former employer closed its doors and had been unemployed and interviewing for over six months. It took little time to realize why so many firms were not quick to snap this chap up: He had worked his way up into middle-management and was thus “overqualified” (aka ill-suited) to fill a “simple computer operator’s job”. The logical thing to do was send him on his way. After all, if hired he would likely seize the first management job offered him and leave me back at square one – filling a slot on third shift.
This kind of logic undoubtedly had persuaded other prospective employers to quickly show this graying bespectacled soul the door. But I was less concerned about doing the logical thing then the human thing. So, I hired the guy on-the-spot. It was a move I never regretted as he did the work of any 2 operators of my staff, went the extra mile when asked, never belly-ached and never missed a day’s work. And he worked at the operator’s job for many years before finally moving on (Which means the company more than got its “money worth” out of him.)
Oh, and he was white – but still a minority to my way of thinking. That is, he belonged to the chronically unemployed and seemingly unemployable. Which brings me at last to this: An article was posted to The Lookout blog (on 7-14-11) titled “Down but not out: Voices of the long-term unemployed.” In it writer Zachery Roth shared this:
• We asked whether employers were wary of hiring readers when they found out how long they’d been jobless — a form of discrimination that appears to have been on the rise lately. “Very much so,” replied Susan W. “As if it were my fault I was unemployed, regardless of the fact that I had put out hundreds of resumes and applications.”
• An enormous number of older readers said they think their age is part of the problem for employers. Paula S., from Acworth, Georgia, who said she was “sixty-something,” described “two eye-opening experiences of blatant age discrimination . . . . One twenty-something supervisor asked me if I had ever thought about coloring my hair . . . . Another manager told his assistant with the door open when I showed up to complete an application and interview: ‘We can’t hire any more old people.’”
I was in my mid-twenties when I hired that middle-aged seasoned computer pro to be a third shift computer operator (He was 55, a biochronological marker I passed some 7 years ago). In hiring him I placed doing the human thing over the logical thing. I can only hope that some of the people trying to fill jobs across America will come across this account and then take it to heart and do likewise.
© 2018 by Dr. Anthony G. Payne. All rights reserved.
The contemporary American empire
The (near) future American empire?
For those of you who are believers and subscribe to prosperity theology aka “The Prosperity Gospel”: Please take some time and carefully read Rev. Bert M. Farias’s new Charisma article titled “8 Reasons to Flee From Carnal Prosperity Preachers“. As you will see, Rev. Farias marshalled some powerful scripture-centric reasoning in this insightful piece and, if I were a betting man, I’d wager the good Lord is going to have him write a book on this very topic (I know Dr. Michael Brown has written extensively about this topic but there is always room on the proverbial plate of life for another incisive tome on the subject).
If after reading Rev. Farias’s conclusions and cautionary warnings you are tempted to reject them, kindly check out the earliest known catechism for messianic non-Jews which is the Didache (Many scholars believe it was written and first circulated in 50 CE. Given that Yeshua HaMashiach was crucified by the imperial Roman government sometime between 30 and 33 CE, this means the Didache was penned perhaps as few as 17 years after his death, burial and resurrection). It has a few choice things to say about greed (The very first chapter of it includes instructions on “almsgiving”). Those who wish to read it in its entirety can do so online for free at http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/didache-lake.html
And for those good folks who appreciate authoritative and balanced commentaries, there is one on the Didache which IMO is top flight: The Way of Life (Didache: A New Translation and Messianic Jewish Commentary) by Toby Janicki (600 pages, Vine of David © 2017). I actually had a gift copy sent to Rev. Farias during early January of this year and have sent copies to many other people in my orbit as well since then.
My fellow Roman Catholic Charismatics are invited to read Why the Prosperity Gospel Is Bankrupt by “Catholic Answers” writer Trent Horn.
On 6-16-2018 Rev. Bert M. Farias posted the request below on his very popular Facebook page. A number of replies followed including one comment from a Miss Alice. I responded to her comment, Rev. Farias to mine, and so it went back & forth between us. We did not exactly stay on topic but did kibitz on things that might, just might prove of interest to some of you.
For those who have the time and interest:
I’d like some feedback on this comment to my recent article. I’m constantly searching my heart on these issues, never wanting to be high-minded about these things, but to remain teachable. I guess the core question I found myself asking after reading this comment is this: What are some indicators of preachers who teach the gain is godliness message, and that financial prosperity equates to spirituality? (the article is on my timeline as I didn’t want to repost it).
READER COMMENT: “There are some things worth considering in this article but it is hard to judge someone’s heart and steweardship (sic) based only on their wealth. I will say that it seems extreme to compare someone like Joyce Meyer 35 million in estimated net worth to Bill Gates 91 billion, (A 2600 times difference) If I followed this logic, a typical minister in the USA might have 200k in net worth, while many poor have only debt. This is worse than 2600 times. Should ministers be allowed to have two cars when much of the world does not have a bike? Using the same standard, such relativism could apply the label false teacher to any Western Christian that has a skilled occupation. No, fortunately, God looks on the heart. Are you ruled by money or are you ruled by God? There is no certain dollar standard, lest all Westerners be guilty. Never mind that it takes LARGE Christian donors to move policy to the right..such as what occurred in recognizing Jerusalem as the capital.”
Alice: And one more comment: I once had a lady ask me why God didn’t let Christians win things like PCH millions of dollars prizes. My answer, without evening thinking about it, was that to many Christians can’t /won’t tithe on a $1,000, how can God trust them with millions. I believe God will bless obedience. It’s not just money, but in everything that concerns us. I don’t believe in all this “give $49.52 and God will multiply it 100 fold” stuff. That is just manipulation. But the Word does say that we are blessed with faithful Abraham. Again, that’s not JUST money.
Anthony G. Payne Right on, Miss Alice. I would add: If God rigged drawings & lotteries to favor specific Christians or others winning he would be guilty of engaging in a form of cheating (When chance is violated in such lotteries by people who profit from it or do so to profit others this is a crime. Of course, human law is not binding on God in instances in which it violates his articulated rules and ways, but he does respect these when they spring from or dovetail with his rules & ways, i.e., his prescribed laws/instructions & ethics).
Bert Farias Anthony G. Payne Dr. Payne! Nice of you to chime in. 😁
Anthony G. Payne I’ll be sending you something from my laboratory shortly, Herr Reverend (It took a while, yes, to process it). Oh vey! Oh, and here’s a link to my “What’s Up, Doc?” fill-in-the-blanks video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zdIRLuTTgU (Do I know how to have fun or what?!?!)
<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/275281155″>Eh, what’s up doc?</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user86267628″>Dr. Anthony G. Payne</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>
Bert Farias Not only do you know how to have fun, but you are brilliant! To God be the glory! While you’re putting the finishing touches on your lab work, I’m gonna need about a gallon of that hair stuff! 😂
Bert Farias I’ll pay for it!
Bert Farias And if both of these things work for me I will spread the good cheer and joy and market it in my circles.
Anthony G. Payne As a boy I was smitten by astronomer Edwin Hubble’s writings including this beautiful, powerful gem….
“The scientist explores the world of phenomena by successive approximations. He knows that his data are not precise and that his theories must always be tested. It is quite natural that he tends to develop healthy skepticism, suspended judgment, and disciplined imagination.”
Later on, as an adult, I got into explor-i-menting and discovered firsthand how my own musings & handiwork are but “successive approximations”. Sometimes a hypothesis or idea or invention will pan out quickly, while at other times it needs retooling & retesting or, worst case scenario, proves an irredeemable dud (And, yes, sometimes an invention or product creation will work for some or a few and not the many). But above all I strive to question my own findings & conclusions. The alternative tends to birth dogma which is anathema for the theorist as well as the experimentalist.
Bert Farias Anthony G. Payne Our God of wonders and selection put this in your heart at a young age. You not only have to have an acute sense of fascination but incredible patience to explore such things.
Anthony G. Payne Most of us are natural born explor-i-mentalists, Herr Reverend. We are all engaged in testing this against that and weighing the preponderance of evidence & logic for and against things (albeit to varying degrees). The sad part if that so many folks have had their curiosity and willingness to question & test certain beliefs & such constrained or eroded by dogmatic teachers or preachers or family or others who prefer to dole out pat answers & solutions that are never to be questioned (The truth is these people should actually welcome such questioning and even argumentation as it might just compel them to closely examine, revise and even discard that which is unfruitful or useless). IMO we should all take to heart the approach of scientists and rabbis who question almost everything and take nothing as absolutely settled or final (Which is to say any claim, pet theory, finding or even law of nature can be overturned by sufficient contrary evidence).
Life often revolves around roles we play and things we do. You undoubtedly have many passions, interests and commitments (Some of mine are reflected in the 1m29s video below), which I hope also includes doing good works and cultivating a solid relationship with the Almighty. Ever onward in shalom!