A Parable

Tony Sig

Once there were two farmers who lived near each other.  They had worked the land year after year for most of their life.  In time, their crops began to yield less and less.

The one farmer took his extra resources and savings and rented a neighboring field in order to plant more crops to make up for his growing losses.  As it was, he was unable to maintain the standard of living to which he had become accustomed.  But this field too produced anemic crops and  he was no longer able to afford to rent the field.  With no extra field, and his money spent, he had to sell his farm and his children lost their inheritance.

The other farmer chose to live with less than that to which he had become accustomed.  Not only did he sell his extra car but he decided not to plant on one tenth of his fields.  The next year, he planted on the field that had lain fallow and it produced a rich yield.  Every year he left a tenth of his fields unplanted and when it had replenished itself and become healthy, the fallow field would produce a better harvest than before.  So it was that the fields he had were renewed and gave more fruit and his children took the farm after him.

cf – Walter Russell Mead



  1. Jeez, Mead’s kind of a downer. The bailliff of heaven knocking on the door with an eviction notice, all because General Seminary is having financial trouble? 1000s of colleges and universities, public, private, secular and religous of all denominations are having financial troubles right now. Don’t you think he’s being a bit dramatic?


  2. Certainly in some ways James. I think that as a cradle Episcopalian he feels like things in the church have gotten out of control. Causes, be they divine or human, are often difficult to properly ascertain. But I don’t disagree totally, I think that TEC sits loose to their relationship with other Anglicans and the general slide in doctrinal consistency is problematic.

    Also, regardless of causes, poor stewardship and an unwillingness to face new realities (TEC’s declining social and religious capital) is something worth having attention called to.

    Plus I wanted an excuse to write a parable.


  3. Tony,

    I know that the crisis is real enough, however, I just think that the reasons for the crisis are stupid, and that people on both sides of the crisis are not listening to the Gospel injuction to love.

    What I found overly dramatic about Mead’s article was his insistance that General Seminary’s financial troubles were somehow proof of God’s withdrawal from TEC. I’m tired of the bad-things-are-happening-to-us-because-gay-people-exist argument. It’s a bit too Fred Phelps for me. Besides, are CBC’s financial troubles proof of God’s withdrawal from the A/G? Wait, don’t answer that.

    The fact is, there isn’t a single corner of Christianty that isn’t going through some bad shit right now. The question in all of this isn’t, will the Gospel prevail? The question is, will we be faithful to each other and to God?


  4. If it at all changes things, Mead actually has an affirming stance on homosexuality, but he is an ecclesiastic and would like to see it worked out within the church without provocation to division.


  5. I don’t see myself in that Mead article at all. Falling into Episcopalianism at St. Alban’s has been wonderful. I haven’t had to fake a bunch of emotions. I don’t have to turn my brain off. I get to spend time with other Christians reverencing God, proclaiming our faith, and actually reading the Bible instead of merely rocking out to cool tunes and hearing a 45-minute talk radio sermon on whatever.


  6. Dammit, nobody has even mentioned my Parable! Anyway, the reason I linked the article was in reference to the wider health of TEC. I too have a sweet parish where none of this is an active problem. It doesn’t mean that TEC is not in a very sore place in general, nor that it isn’t acting the colonial part extraordinaire with regards to the Anglican Communion. ggrr


  7. I do like your parable as a parable, Tony, I also like it as a relatively true-to-life description of what happened to agriculture in this country. Just goes to show that the best stories are true on multiple levels.


  8. Tony,

    I voiced these concerns to one of my spiritual mentors, and his response was calming (and a little maddening at the same time). Simply, he told me that the Church is a body that has existed over the lifespan of many, many people, many, many governments, and many, many ideologies – our job is to prayerfully pursue his will and not pull a “chicken little” every time something distresses us.

    I was calmed, because it put things into perspective. I was irritated because it is not a definitive answer on what to think or what to do about actual problems – other than be faithful in proclaiming the truth.

    *you may also be interested to know that several ministers I know in TEC openly refer to Schori as a heretic behind her back. 😉

    Also, I feel your pain about the parable – I posted a piece of fiction that everyone conspicuously avoided. I’ll feel jilted with you.


  9. I was also heartened by a meeting I went to last night at which the 6 candidates for the next bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande each fielded questions from lay and clergy men and women from around my area (Albuquerque, NM). In listening to their replies I found men (alas, no women!)on both sides of the issues at stake in the Mead article whose love for the Risen Christ overflowed with every word and gesture. In terms of the homosexuality debate, I am not worried at all for who will be the next bishop because most of the candidates (4 out of 6—the 4 who are most likely to be elected, IMHO)declared in one way or another that the imperative for unity and love trumps all other idealogies and agendas.


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