Steinke, noch einmal…

When I was a graduate student in Classics, every now and then I had to read some article in German.  And I noticed that on hot button issues in Classics (you’d be surprised at how many hot button issues there are when you’re talking about dead European guys), there’d often be a back and forth argument in print in which the author would add “noch einmal” — “one more time” — to the title of the original article — and add other words that would increasingly express the frustration as the author had to keep coming back to something which s/he felt was obvious to start with. 

In detective stories, there is also that moment (or sometimes moments) in which the clever amateur, or hardened PI, returns to some point that the police have already established because there is something s/he can’t quite figure out.  There is something wrong or awry.

I’m feeling something of that way now — I’m not sure what I was expecting from the review of the Steinke materials at today’s meeting, and boy, I’m not sure I got it.  This is not meant as a criticism of anyone.  I think that some of this stuff is quite thorny and difficult, and not easy to get at — if it were so easy, we’d have solved it already.  After all, we’re all pretty smart at All Souls Church — it’s not just that we done went to college.  We spend a lot of time in thinking deep thoughts.  I think we might all be granted a Th.D. (Doctor of Thinkology — it’s what the Scarecrow gets from the Wizard in the 1939 Wizard of Oz).

I was expecting this meeting to go longer, for there to be more discussion or something.  It may just be perversity on my part, but generally my perversity doesn’t extend to long meetings.  In the area of meetings, I consider myself quite normal — few and short is good.  But I feel some misgivings about not doing more of the hard work at this juncture so that we are in a better position to have a plan we can begin to work on after Dr. Steinke leaves.  I’d sure like to see this process succeed — failure here, or worse, seeming immediate success, a band-aid on the wound, not only will not help us now, but will convince those in the church who do not want to change that they were right that such processes as these are stupid, and it will convince those in the church who do want change or some meaningful progress the sense that such change and progress is beyond the capabilities of this church and that the matter is hopeless. 

I think that, in the short term, any suggestions we make will be taken up, and there will be some progress made.  From what I can see, there is no easy fix for the situation here at All Souls.  I’ve had enough experience taking my car to the garage to know that a tune-up will not address bigger issues in one’s car.  The tune-up will make the car run better in the short term, but if there are bigger problems, they will soon surface and car troubles  will return.  After all, in 1996, Nancy Heege and Helen Bishop spoke to the congregation about various issues that needed to be addressed.  The church accepted their report, tinkered with solutions for a while, and when the problems were no longer apparent, the matter was declared over and done with.  And yet, the matters mentioned in the Steinke report were the same matters mentioned in the Heege-Bishop report.  Only in the area of RE did the church adopt, enact, and practice the solutions offered in that report, and the very successful RE program we have is, in part, due to that.  That does offer hope that, if we can take to heart these concerns and remain meaningfully committed to the solution, maybe it can work.  But that is only going to work if we address some of the core issues.  A snappier mission statement will not be meaningful if it does not come from a careful look at who we are, who we dream of being, what we dream for this church. 

Well, that’s it right now for my musing, wrestling with this issue.  I’ll return to it as I think some more.  At this point, let me leave it with “I’m worried about this church and whether the Steinke process can work here.”

2 Responses to “Steinke, noch einmal…”

  1. 1 Sharon Blevins
    February 9, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    I love the commentary on this blog, hope I’ve figured out how to subscribe!

  2. 2 John Blevins
    February 13, 2011 at 9:32 am

    Thanks for your work, and your analysis, Bernie.
    Most of what you say resonates with me.
    I have subscribed via Google Reader, so I’ll be able to see your postings in a more timely manner in the future.

    My thinking today is this type of situation (at All Souls), or problem, is never “over”. The conflicts, the lost mission, (or the fallen away mission), are just facts of life. What we must do is put in place “ways of life” that regularly call us back to the quality of our relationships, to renew our shared mission, to keep the community alive, vital, and healthy. Not easy work. Especially difficult for a transient group of volunteers (that’d be all of us…)

    In faith,

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