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The Organizational Imperative

Organizations take on a life of their own, and individuals who support them or work within them inevitably begin to value that which helps the organization more highly than that which helps the ideas or goals or persons who are the intended recipients of the organization's influence. One begins to believe that higher profits, more customers, membership growth, larger budgets, wider influence, more media mentions, and the like have value in themselves because they contribute to the life of the organization. And thus the organizational imperative takes over.
The Organizational Imperative


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 6th, 2013 04:38 pm (UTC)
Do you think it's something about organizations as such?

I think of so much in faith history as going like this:
1. Enunciation of beautiful broad principle-- e.g., the two greatest commandments
2. After the oohing and aahing, the sage is asked, "So how do we do that"
3. Sage gives concrete advice. Sometimes that advice is "Do your job / fulfill your roles honestly and humbly and don't be a dick." Which doesn't get people excited, but doesn't lead to mistakes. But sometimes it's something the questioner hasn't been doing, or not doing that way, or that much.
4. Oohing and aahing about the concrete advice. Then questions about the concrete advice leading to doctrinal decisions leading to more questions leading to more doctrinal decisions leading to....
5. Worship of the fringe length or whatever.

To my mind, while that's associated with organization and organizations, it's a more general phenomenon....
Aug. 6th, 2013 10:12 pm (UTC)
I think sociologically in terms of Robert Michael's "iron law of oligarchy," Max Weber's "routinization of charisma." and Tom O'Dea's "dysfunctions of the organization of religion."

We don't know what Jesus would have thought of the church, because he was safely dead and buried (and perhaps resurrected and in heaven) before the church really got started. We do however know what St. Francis thought of the Friars Minor since he was still alive when it started to bureaucratize. He did not much like the direction in which it seemed to be heading and he thought a simple restatement of the gospel message was more than adequate as constitution and operating rules.
Aug. 7th, 2013 05:33 pm (UTC)
I'm very ignorant of sociology and its vast literature-- of these I know only the Weber. :)

I'm thinking about the idolatry of material objects and of habits and routines. There's no sharp division between organizations and material objects, organizations and procedures-- but I'm not sure they're identical, either....

You know, that about Francis of Assisi is why I've thought from the beginning how funny it was for a Pope to choose the name Francis. :D

Aug. 7th, 2013 06:16 pm (UTC)
You really should read Tom O'Dea's "dilemmas in the institutionalization of religion" Google that and look at item 1 (Hartford Institute for Religion Research), or item 4 (The following essay by Thomas O) or look at my Live Journal post for January 9, 2012.
Aug. 7th, 2013 09:50 pm (UTC)
...I'll try. :)

Say, did you know that the Second Helvetic Confession contains doctrine concerning ghosts?
Aug. 7th, 2013 11:35 pm (UTC)
I never knew there was a "first" Helvetic Confession, let alone a second. I suspect that i am no worse off by not knowing about it!

With demons to contend with, why worry about ghosts? That sounds like one of those thingies that neither benefit nor harm soul.
Aug. 7th, 2013 11:41 pm (UTC)
The First Helvetic Confession didn't make it into the PC(USA) Book of Confessions, so I know nothing of it. So far, no mention of demons. Second Helvetic doesn't hold with ghosts.

Westminster's a nasty bit of goods, and I'm in the middle of it. :/
Aug. 9th, 2013 06:38 pm (UTC)
The Latin word for Spirit seems to translate to the English word Ghost. Thus: Holy Ghost. When fourteenth and fifteenth century English mystics (including Julian of Norwich if i remember right) wanted to talk about the spiritual, the used the term "ghostly." On first reading it is a little disconcerting.
Aug. 9th, 2013 07:02 pm (UTC)
Oh, I'm used to that use of the term. Not only did I grow up with the Holy Ghost version of the Gloria patri, but I encountered it again in The Imitation of Christ when I was in seminary. That's not what I thought worth remarking on in the Second Helveticus. They have a brief article on the boo! sort of ghost.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )



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