That seems to be what the Boston Globe is saying in this rather clumsy editorial.
This is a very important piece in The Forward, part of a series on how synagogues spend their money. To summarize, synagogues pay their clergy about twice what Christian churches do (controlling for all sorts of things, although I have not looked at how sophisticated the controls are). Christians send a lot more of their money to mission efforts and to the denominational bodies (think Catholics and their expensive hierarchy), and one imagines that a lot of that money goes to bureaucratic waste, so it could be argued that it’s far better to compensate clergy well, as the Jews do. But a few thoughts:
First, the rabbi average salary is brought WAY up by the gross overpayment that wealthy synagogues make to their overpaid, lap-of-luxury rabbis. Hundreds of thousands of dollars. Perhaps more, although we can’t get those figures. Lots of rabbis at smaller or struggling temples and synagogues are underpaid, or not paid. There is a shul a few blocks from me with annual dues of only a few hundred dollars a year, and only a few dozen member families; you can bet their rabbi is not paid too well. Of course, that rabbi was arrested recently for perhaps supplementing his income in unlawful ways (let’s keep in mind the American presumption that he is innocent until proven guilty).
Second, the bigger, more worrisome issue here is what happens to religion in a land of plenty. This is not just an issue for Jews, but it is a particularly worrisome issue for Jews, because of their (our) material success. I don’t believe that extreme poverty is good for the soul: hungry people tend to steal, you know. But nor are vast riches good for the soul. And I have heard far too little conversation among clergy of any faith about whether there should be caps on how much money the clergy make. Sometimes, of course, the clergy to the poor congregations drive the biggest SUVs. So it is complicated. But the problem is real, and I do not believe there is any correlation between paying clergy gross sums and having spiritually thriving congregations.
Just read over the wires about this book deal — can’t wait for the publication of it. Korb is a terrific author, and Caldwell a great editor, and I had no idea this college even existed:
Scott Korb's AMERICA, MEET ISLAM, a closely observed narrative account of the inaugural class of Zaytuna College, the nation's first four-year Muslim college, with revealing portraits of the school's founders Shaykh Hamza Yusuf and Imam Zaid Shakir, arguably the two most important people in American Islam, to Amy Caldwell at Beacon Press, by Jim Rutman at Sterling Lord Literistic (NA).
At some point I developed the world-transforming journalistic shorthand of the g’ rubric to denote a person as gay: g’Jew, g’Unitarian, etc. (Valuable in Prop 8 stories and here.) There is a linguistical question to be asked: when does the first consonant of the second word get dropped? For example, we can all understand g’eighborhood, but it’s clear that g’ew won’t do — we need g’Jew.
In other news, did you read this article about hypomanic entrepreneurs and the venture capital fools who invest in them? And did you not find that the 21-year-old Princeton dropout’s parents sounded abusive? Just saying...
Just finished reading Peter J. Boyer's New Yorker article on the C Street house in DC, home at various times to various adulterous (and non-) Christian politicians. (Of course, most every group house has been home to adulterous and non-adulterous Christians, who are after all normal, fallible human beings.) I should first say that I admire Boyer tremendously as a writer and as a commenter on Christianity; his old memoir piece about his own Pentecostal family is a novella-length classic. And I should add a further, major caveat: I have not read Jeff Sharlet's book that broke tremendous new ground reporting on The Fellowship. I ought to have read it (not least because Jeff once generously got me an adjunct teaching gig at NYU, and because he is a very smart, intrepid reporter); I have three children under the age of four, and I am a slow reader, and that means there are a lot of things I should have read but haven't — although given how much Glee I have seen, I guess I have no excuses.. A final note: I have written on The Fellowship only once, in passing, here.
Given my lack of qualifications, let me say only this: I think people understate the social purposes of much religion. Let me put it this way: I am not shocked that so many of the members are men, and that women tend not to join groups like this, nor to get as lachrymose as men when talking about how important their prayer groups are. Women tend to have real friends, with whom they have genuine intimacy, and so do not need the rubric of prayer to open up. That is to say nothing else, positive or negative, about prayer and its worth, value, or efficacy. It is only to say that I am probably more inclined than Jeff to believe that a lot of C Streeters are really just looking for friends.
When you are done with those there evangelicals, and need some liberal Unitarians, read me here.