Get Real

In other spheres of worldly endeavors, I have been quoted as saying that “any moron can make decent wine from California fruit.” To which I sometimes add, “If a California winemaker wants a real challenge, come out to Oklahoma and try it with our fruit.” California has many advantages over much of the rest of the world. Good for them. Because of the unique situation in many parts of California, lessons learned there may not apply elsewhere. Recently a radio program had a high school English teacher as the featured speaker. She had won many awards and had recently written a book titled “How to Raise Successful People.” I was intrigued. Then when the moderator told us where the teacher worked, I turned off the radio in disgust. She teaches at Palo Alto High School – a public school but you would never guess it driving by the place. Most people think Palo Alto High School is private because it looks like a private school. Most of the students are children of Stanford University faculty members. The average home price in Palo Alto is $2.39 Million! Average household income is surprisingly low at $137,000 although some PA households self-reported as “lower middle class” with household earnings over $300,000. I am happy that Palo Alto can enjoy such worldly success and beauty. But I wonder what wisdom would transfer from Palo Alto California to Muskogee Oklahoma where 80% of households receive less than 150% of the federal poverty level, or about $38,000 and our median home price is $61,000. The problem of looking at the world from the standards of beautiful Palo Alto where ten months out of the year, the weather is perfect, isn’t limited to Palo Alto. We have a national church office located at 815 Second Avenue, New York. Can you imagine what it costs to have office space in that location? Can you imagine the additional costs in salaries just to enable people to work there? I suggest that teachers writing books with such general titles as “How to Raise Successful People” should first spend a year teaching in Muskogee. I would also like to officially invite the Episcopal Church USA to move its national headquarters from New York to Muskogee. Think of the benefits:  Salaries could be reduced 300%  Real estate costs would be lower by 1000%  Space owned in NY could be rented and the proceeds used to pay the entire national church office budget in Muskogee  Lower time zone difference with the rest of the country  Workers would be exposed to local people sharing concerns with much of the country  Centrally located for travel to the rest of the country
 People working at the national church center in Muskogee would be motivated entirely about their ministry rather than “living in New York”  New York City would recover quickly from the loss. Muskogee would benefit greatly from the gain. Lately I discount scientific announcements from certain agencies because I know the information has been politicized and spun. It is no longer credible. The same goes for general-sounding books from teachers in Palo Alto as well as many things that come from our national church and even from the diocese. None of that information has much to do with the basic facts of life where we live in Muskogee. None of the authors or policy-makers live here. Now, if the national church office really were to move to Muskogee, I’d drive out there and help them pack up.

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