Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Consultants of Nazareth

(News-Herald, April 2000) Scholars recently revealed that among the fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls they have found direct evidence of the first known management consultants:

MEMO TO: Jesus of Nazareth, et al

FROM: Ernest Livgood, Management Consultant, Campaign for Sensitive Personhood

Here at CSP we have been following your career with some interest. We appreciate your invitation to join you in your work, but feel there are several points of sensitivity and effective packaging which you first need to address.

STAFFING: Your organization is simply too patriarchal-- too many guys. All twelve of your disciples are young working-class males of Middle Eastern/Jewish heritage. We suggest a group that better represents cultural diversity-- add at least three women, a Caucasian, and a few Africans. Perhaps some Confucians and Buddhists. A druid would be a nice touch, too.

You also show constant gender bias by referring repeatedly to God as a male. It would help if you could occasionally alternate the use of "Mother" and "Father." A better solution would be to refer to the Supreme Being with a gender-neutral term such as "Parent" or "Large Nurturing Presence."

QUALITY: We strongly recommend instituting a Total Quality system. While your organization possesses many of the characteristics of a fine collaborative effort, too many of your policies are handed down in a "top down" management style. Your "Sermon on the Mount," for instance, would benefit from being processed through a shared decision making model, allowing more of your customers a buy-in with the concepts.

To demonstrate the benefit of this approach, we have taken the liberty of forming a focus group here to refine some of the elements of that sermon. Our feeling was that, for example, the Beatitudes raised unreasonably high performance expectations and were also too exclusive.

For example, "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." Let us suggest instead, "Good news and positive energy are highly probable to those who express a reasonable humility that is still consistent with a high level of self-esteem based on a positive self-image growing out of whatever social, cultural or lifestyle choice backgrounds they may possess, because these individuals and many somewhat like them will eventually receive a just and reasonable portion of success (provided they are not the victims of political injustice from any oppressive government systems which fail to recognize their unique value as individuals)."

I think you will agree that this team-generated statement is much more inclusive. It also creates an expectation that we feel is less likely to lead to any legal action by any disappointed customers.

INFLEXIBILITY: Certain elements of your movement are simply too strict. Your regrettable tendency to label certain sorts of behavior as "sinful" and suggest that it could result in "eternal damnation" is entirely too harsh. Throwing all those potential sponsors out of the temple was simply bad business. If you have not already heard from the ACLU, I am sure that you will soon (See our attached memo re: "The Ten Guidelines").

At the same time, we are puzzled over your treatment of members of the movement who depart from the accepted guidelines. For these individuals to simply pray for forgiveness seems rather lax and liable to dilute brand identity and the movement's strength. It seems to us that some sort of sensitivity retraining before allowing them to reenter communion with the Large Nurturing Presence would help assure that everyone is on the same page.

The notion that their sin and subsequent forgiveness are somehow between them and the Supreme Being simply doesn't allow for enough checks and controls. We would also recommend that the practice of speaking in tongues be phased out. Instead, we recommend that a core committee develop a mission statement that members be encouraged to repeat in moments of extreme motivational enthusiasm. It might begin, "As persons of varied life choices, we are pleased to form consensus with the Large Nurturing Presence--"

At this point the scroll breaks off. Scholars will not yet comment on whether the charred edges are indicative of a lightning strike.

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