Re: Soul LO1274
Wed, 17 May 1995 14:49:42 -0400

Re the discussion of soul in the organization.

It seems to me that we are mostly tiptoeing around
the central issues here.

First a story...

Some years ago I was part of a strange and
wonderful organization called the Ecumenical
Institute. While I was there Christians of all
denominations, some Jews, some Hindus and several
other brands of religion were all part of a "religious
order", living under vows, with all that entails. The
head of this strange group was Joseph Wesley
Mathews. The Institute does a lot of community
development work all over the world and therefore
is always broke and trying to put the pinch on
anybody with money. A meeting would get arranged
between some industrialist millionaire and Joe
Mathews so that Joe could try to talk the guy out of
some money. The meeting would no sooner get
under way than Joe would start boring in on the guy
about his life -- and all of the other Institute folks
would be just dying because Joe is raising questions
about ethics and spirituality and generally asking
the guy terribly embarrasing and offensive
questions like what his life is about and his role in
society -- questions that no one has ever dared to
ask him. So of course this fellow that was supposed
to be giving a pile of money instead becomes highly
offended. But the conversation goes on and at the
end the guy not only gives a pile of money but can't
seem to wait to meet with Joe again.

That's the story. I was never present for one of
these sessions, but talked fairly extensively with
sseveral others who were and I think things often
unfolded about as the story has it.

Now, here is what I think was going on in these
sessions. Joe Mathews was deeply religious but he
was not dogmatic. Joe felt that human beings are at
bottom spiritual but that the particular dogma of
any given religion is no more important than any
other. Thus Joe could deal, on a spiritual basis, with
anybody, be they catholic, hindu or atheist. What Joe
did was to elicit from these folks their very best and
highest impulses -- and they invariably responded
out of these "highest" impulses.

I persuaded my rather conservative Baptist church
to sponsor my class in Aikido for inner city
teenagers partly on the basis that Zen (which is the
foundation for the martial arts) is spiritual without
having dogma. And it seems to me that is what we
must do about soul in the organization. We must be
spiritual without having dogma. And, while I am all
in favor of authenticity, authenticity is a weak
substitute for spirituality.

Barry Clemson
Center for Organizational Systems Engineering
Old Dominion University