It’s all about jobs.

Has been since the recession began and certainly is now, as government spending is forced downward and unemployment benefits are weakened. Solid employment gains and the spending they produce will work wonders on federal and local budgets.

The flaw in “trickle down” economics is that the wealthy don’t create jobs. Technology doesn’t create jobs, either. Infrastructure creates jobs – roads, bridges, office buildings, airports, schools – but not much of that will proceed without government action.

I think faith communities ought to step up in a major way. Do what we can to put people to work. Stop spending so much on our own comforts and help train youth, provide business incubator support for small entrepreneurs, open our kitchens to catering firms, plant trees, construct retirement centers, be audacious.

And those who are in a position to hire should do so, even if the numbers don’t make perfect sense. About one-third of our fellow citizens are un- or under-employed. That can’t be allowed to continue.



FAITH Q & A

Q: As you look at the old idea that priests are the intermediaries between God and the people of God, how valid do you find that role today? Can God not absolve us without the priest intermediating? Can Jesus not be as present at a family celebration as at a Eucharist?

A: Complicated question. I think each denomination has a different conception of ordained ministry, and within each denominational concept you will find many variations from pastor to pastor. I also think ordained ministry evolves, as congregations and society evolve. Just look at how radically different a given seminary’s approach is from what it was – at that same seminary – a generation ago.

I personally don’t see pastors as intermediaries between people and God, or as the only way for God to be present in a sacrament. I see pastors as leaders of faith communities, charged with guiding people to newness of life, helping them to attain wholeness, facilitating their calls to ministry, calling them to accountability, speaking truth to power, and admonishing the self-centered to get outside themselves. I think we waste clergy time when we ask them to be business managers and property managers, when we expect them to cater to wealthy benefactors, and when we mire them in endless conflict.

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