June 2004 – Note: This column comes from Gus Hertz, who wrote me several years ago in response to a column published in AFA Journal in March, 1994. My original article was titled Please clean up the moral filth – but don’t count on me.
Dear Dr. Wildmon,
I read your column about “Sam,” and I agree that there are too many Sams who just don’t want to get personally involved; unfortunately many of these Sams are pastors. The following article was composed out of frustration after dealing with one too many of these spiritual “leaders.”
There once was a man put in charge of a shoe factory. He was an able administrator and busily set out to run the best factory possible. First he saw to the maintenance of the machinery, demanding that it be serviced and oiled and cleaned until it shined like new. Then he gathered the workers and assigned them to specific jobs and made sure they were content; he permitted no counter-productive controversies. He oversaw the finances to make sure the bills were paid on time and that a substantial amount of cash was on hand for security. Day after day, the manager worked hard to care for the factory.
After a time the manager was called to the head office and summarily fired. Under his management, the factory had not produced a single shoe. In fact, the manager was so concerned with preserving the machinery that he never let it grind away in production. He was so concerned about the welfare of his people that he would not encourage them to work. He managed the books so tightly that he would not allow investment in raw materials.
I once asked a priest to speak a few words on the sanctity of life. The priest said that he would not, nor would he allow the placement of pro-life material in the church vestibule because it was a controversial subject. When I suggested that he could use his influence favorably in this matter, he looked very tired and explained to me that he was a “mortar and bricks” type of priest. When I asked what that meant, he pointed with pride to the church building and adjoining school. “See that,” he said, “do you think that I could have built this if I had taken up controversial subjects? I learned long ago that if I was to accomplish anything in this parish, I would have to avoid controversy and build consensus.”
After a time, this priest retired, and, God rest his soul, passed away. I recently visited the sight of his “mortar and bricks.” The parish, like so many other parishes without spiritual guidance, had dissolved, the aging members drifting off to other religions or to more convenient locations. There is now a large, paved parking lot where his parish should have been.
Does the shoe fit?