Oscars and equal pay

I rarely, if ever, write about the goings-on in Hollywood because, well, it’s Hollywood. But this morning there was a prevalent 87th Annual Academy Awards - Showstory in my news-feed. At the Oscars last night, Patricia Arquette, during her acceptance speech for her Oscar, made a statement about equal pay for women. Meryl Streep heartily agreed from the audience. You can see her reaction here. Apparently, Twitter exploded in affirmation. And I would concur that this is an issue we need to address as a nation.

Moreover, according to a variety of sources, Patricia Arquette took very little salary for her role in the movie Boyhood. That most definitely is something to be commended.

But it did strike me as a little ironic. Here, amidst some of the wealthier Americans, was a call to equal pay for equal work. Contradictory because the call issued by Arquette, while laudible, was made to a nation of people who make significantly lower wages than Arquette or Streep.

Let’s be clear before we go any further. Does a gender pay gap exist? Yes. Do we as a nation need to address this problem? Yes. Should women make the same amount as men, for the same work? Most definitely, yes! I say this as a father of a daughter who deserves, whatever her future career, the same pay as her male counterpart. However, while this call to action is necessary, it struck me as a little paradoxical coming from someone who is in the income bracket of Arquette; though not for the reasons one might think. Before we get to that, let’s look at what Arquette and Streep face in their industry.

There are unequivocally fewer roles available for female leads. When a female actor lands one of these roles, they are paid decidedly less. Furthermore, I will be quick to point out that not all actors are making the coin that Arquette is; so this is a particularized situation. All of that said, a call to action is necessary. But the action that is necessary is not limited to the gender pay gap.

What I began to think about after reading several stories of Arquette’s impassioned speech was those who are many times forgotten; forgotten amidst the labor statistics and reports of current economic growth. I thought specifically of those who are paid minimum wage.

Before detractors cry “Socialist,” I most definitely am not advocating for a redistribution of wealth based upon those principles. Nor am I advocating that pay should be divorced from the type of work we do. That being said, the elephant in the room is that we pay enormously higher wages to actors/directors/producers in the movie industry that the average American makes working their job. And it was in a room majoritively filled with such people that this impassioned speech was made. Yes, these persons gathered do a job that I cannot do. Trust me, you don’t want to see me act! However, to paraphrase Jesus – where your treasure is, there your heart will be. So in one sense it is a critique of American culture – we are amusing ourselves to death.

The current economic system does not play fair – whether by gender or race or economic situation. One might argue that hard work and effort will provide success both monetarily and vocationally. But that may not be the case. Socioeconomic background, educational qualifications, and myriad other reasons play into our success. For those of us who want to address economic injustice, such as Arquette passionately pleaded for, we need as a nation to advocate for a living wage. Again, I am not a socialist, nor a Marxist. I am a Christian, and therefore it is my calling to advocate for the least and the lost. Ah, you may say: But didn’t Jesus say that you will always have the poor among you? Yes, yes he did. But he most definitely did not say that we were to do nothing about it. A living wage is necessary and long over do.

If we were to implement a living wage what might that look like?

A living wage, that had kept up with worker productivity, would currently be… wait for it… $21.72/hr., as of 2012 according to a study by Center for Economic and Policy Research. If minimum wage had just kept up with inflation it would currently be $11.00/hr., as of 2014. Moreover, the minimum wage peaked according to some research in 1968. 1968!

Beyond the need, and to tie into Arquette’s call to arms, a living wage benefits women, who make up the majority of minimum wage earners. According to the National Women’s Law Center, “Increasing the minimum wage and tipped minimum wage are key steps toward fair pay for women.” (See here.) So if we want to reduce the pay gap for women, a living wage is necessary.

The annual salary of a full-time worker receiving minimum wage is: $15,080. That is using the current minimum wage of $7.25/hr. Even if we were to increase the minimum wage to $11.00/hr, the annual salary of a full-time worker would be: $22,880. Is that enough for the average family of four? No. But it’s a start.

There are many people more intelligent and well versed in economics than myself. But even to this economic amateur, a living wage seems a no-brainer. While I applaud Patricia Arquette’s desire to see the wage gap eliminated, her impassioned plea does not go far enough. For all of us, especially as a person of faith, I must seek more. I must advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves – a living wage for those who need it. That’s the kind of salary speech I want to hear. That’s the kind of America I want to live in.

its-not-because-things-are-difficult-that-we-dare-not-venture-its-because-we-dare-not-venture-that-they-are-difficult-senecaYou can read more about raising the minimum wage at: http://www.raisetheminimumwage.org/

Or just Google it – living wage vs. minimum wage

ACNA, Sacraments and Liturgy, TEC

Teach us to Pray – Trinity Sunday

I’ve begun writing a series on collects in the Anglican tradition over on the Logos Anglican blog. Hop on over and check out the first piece about the collect for Trinity Sunday here.

“The Fathers spoke of the Trinity as a dance—a divine dance. Perichoresis is the technical term. It is the interpenetration of the Godhead, one with another; all the while maintaining their distinct personhood. It is the glory of the eternal Trinity and the Unity which we are to adore. Our call, our petition to God is that we too might begin to see this divine mystery. Our cry is that we might be encompassed by the divine dance, being known and in turn knowing God more fully.”
Church Fathers

Just ’cause it’s old, doesn’t mean it ain’t good

During my homily this past Sunday, Pentecost Sunday, I included a rather long excerpt/quote by Irenaeus. I found it very helpful for understanding both the nature of Pentecost and the challenge. I hope it encourages you as well.

Pentecost and the sending of the Holy Spirit

Irenaeus of Lyons (excerpt from Against Heresies)

“When the Lord told his disciples to go and teach all nations and baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, he conferred on them the power of giving men new life in God.
He had promised through the prophets that in these last days he would pour out his Spirit on his servants and handmaids, and that they would prophesy. So when the Son of God became the Son of Man, the Spirit also descended upon him, becoming accustomed in this way to dwelling with the human race, to living in men and to inhabiting God’s creation. The Spirit accomplished the Father’s will in men who had grown old in sin, and gave them new life in Christ.
Luke says that the Spirit came down on the disciples at Pentecost, after the Lord’s ascension, with power to open the gates of life to all nations and to make known to them the new covenant. So it was that men of every language joined in singing one song of praise to God, and scattered tribes, restored to unity by the Spirit, were offered to the Father as the first-fruits of all the nations.
This was why the Lord had promised to send the Advocate: he was to prepare us as an offering to God. Like dry flour, which cannot become one lump of dough, one loaf of bread, without moisture, we who are many could not become one in Christ Jesus without the water that comes down from heaven. And like parched ground, which yields no harvest unless it receives moisture, we who were once like a waterless tree could never have lived and borne fruit without this abundant rainfall from above. Through the baptism that liberates us from change and decay we have become one in body; through the Spirit we have become one in soul.
The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and strength, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of God came down upon the Lord, and the Lord in turn gave this Spirit to his Church, sending the Advocate from heaven into all the world into which, according to his own words, the devil too had been cast down like lightning.
If we are not to be scorched and made unfruitful, we need the dew of God. Since we have our accuser, we need an advocate as well. And so the Lord in his pity for man, who had fallen into the hands of brigands, having himself bound up his wounds and left for his care two coins bearing the royal image, entrusted him to the Holy Spirit. Now, through the Spirit, the image and inscription of the Father and the Son have been given to us, and it is our duty to use the coin committed to our charge and make it yield a rich profit for the Lord.”
Anglican Communion, Archbishop of Canterbury, Bishop of Rochester, Church of England, Michael Nazir-Ali

Way too early to tell

Well, apparently the time has come for the Archbishop of Canterbury to consider stepping down. <sarcasm on> I do consider this to be truly reliable and journalism at its finest<sarcasm off>. It does make for entertaining reading though…. Read it all here.

Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams set to quit next year

The Archbishop of Canterbury is planning to resign next year, nearly a decade before he is due to step down, it can be revealed.

Dr Rowan Williams is understood to have told friends he is ready to quit the highest office in the Church of England to pursue a life in academia.

The news will trigger intense plotting behind the scenes over who should succeed the 61-year-old archbishop, who is not required to retire until he is 70.

While there may be hope that this is the case, I’d call for caution amongst the conservative minded among us for several reasons. First, I have a hard time believing the Bishop of London saying such a thing. He may have had a personal sentiment similar to the statement. However, Bishop Richard is far to savvy to have let something like this slip. And if he did then someone near and dear has just shown themselves the door. Second, Archbishop Williams has not stepped down throughout the significant controversies so far why should he do so now? The ABC has steered a course through the present travails, whether one agrees the direction or not, and has not shown any hint of retiring to academia. Lastly, IF (and that’s a big if) he does step down as and when  Mr. Wynne-Jones iterates, what is there to show, past or present, that the next ABC will be anything close to ‘orthodox’? I am not trying to be cynical. Yet, there is no reason to believe that someone with even a hint of orthodoxy would be chosen in the present climate of the UK. I hope to be proven wrong on this point. I really do. But there is nothing that leads me to believe that this would be the case. It would take significant political wrangling for a ‘conservative’ to be named. I do hope that the next ABC will be able to stand in a way which will lead this Communion out of such stormy seas. Bishop Michael are you ready to take up the reins?


How John Calvin made me a Catholic…

Interesting article. Take a look

Strangely, mastering Calvin didn’t lead me anywhere I expected. To begin with, I decided that I really didn’t like Calvin. I found him proud, judgmental and unyielding. But more importantly, I discovered that Calvin upset my Evangelical view of history. I had always assumed a perfect continuity between the Early Church, the Reformation and my Church. The more I studied Calvin, however, the more foreign he seemed, the less like Protestants today. This, in turn, caused me to question the whole Evangelical storyline: Early Church – Reformation – Evangelical Christianity, with one seamless thread running straight from one to the other. But what if Evangelicals really weren’t faithful to Calvin and the Reformation? The seamless thread breaks. And if it could break once, between the Reformation and today, why not sooner, between the Early Church and the Reformation? Was I really sure the thread had held even that far?

Calvin shocked me by rejecting key elements of my Evangelical tradition. Born-again spirituality, private interpretation of Scripture, a broad-minded approach to denominations – Calvin opposed them all. I discovered that his concerns were vastly different, more institutional, even more Catholic. Although he rejected the authority of Rome, there were things about the Catholic faith he never thought about leaving. He took for granted that the Church should have an interpretive authority, a sacramental liturgy and a single, unified faith.