Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Bad Decisions

This past Sunday's Super Bowl game was decided after a last second interception by the New England Patriots' defensive unit at their own goal line. All around the country cries went up about how stupid a play call it was that the Seattle Seahawks had chosen.

If it had worked, everyone would have shouted out, "Brilliant call!"

Watching people analyze the Seahawks' decision reminds me of the times that I have been involved in "Root cause analysis" of unfortunate outcomes. For those of you who are not familiar with the term, here is one definition,
"A root cause is a factor that caused a nonconformance and should be permanently eliminated through process improvement.
Root cause analysis is a collective term that describes a wide range of approaches, tools, and techniques used to uncover causes of problems.
The root cause is 'the evil at the bottom' that sets in motion the entire cause-and-effect chain causing the problem(s)." (From here)
The root cause usually involves a bad decision.

It is interesting that "evil" is used above to describe the root cause. Evil is something that we learn about from our religious upbringing, but it is rarely considered as a root cause in today's Episcopal church, a church in which we are often taught that we are born good and that Satan, the Devil, and even the concept of capital "E" Evil might be human constructs.

The abolition of "Evil" from our collective minds leads to a worldview that may itself be one of  root causes for bad decisions.

Using the Episcopal church as an example, consider the following bad decisions,

The "censure" of Bishop James Pike
The election and consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson
the promotion to Canon Theologian of Marcus Borg
Innumerable vestry choices of a revisionist rector to lead untold numbers of parishes
Countless pointless resolutions passed at diocesan conventions
Endless dreadful resolutions passed by the Episcopal church's General Conventions
The list goes on and on...

The latest example was the election and consecration of Bishop Heather Cook who is charged in the death of a bicyclist/hit and run as a result of driving while intoxicated and texting. The fact that a prior arrest for DUI was known prior to her election is compounded by new facts coming to light that she was in a state of intoxication at festivities held prior to her consecration, and that this was recognized by those who should have known better than to proceed with the consecration.
"The timeline, which the Diocese of Maryland said Monday it had added to its Web site, says the head of the national Episcopal Church was made aware that Cook may have been drunk during her installation celebration. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was the leader of the Sept. 6 service that consecrated Cook, or made her a bishop.
Bishop Eugene Sutton — who oversees Episcopalians in much of Maryland aside from the D.C. suburbs — suspected Cook was 'inebriated during pre-consecration dinner,' the timeline says, 'and conveys concern to Presiding Bishop. Presiding Bishop indicates she will discuss with Cook.'” (See StandFirm in Faith discussion)
We all make bad decisions, and I am no exception, from which I can only conclude that we are either flawed creatures that have not evolved into a higher state (a naturalistic view), or that we are flawed creatures under the influence of something that we are powerless against (a spiritual view).

To understand that our decision making process is flawed due to whichever cause is to understand that we cannot get away with blaming others, blaming circumstances, blaming society, or blaming God for our mistakes.

It will be interesting to see the Diocese of Maryland's root cause analysis of the Heather Cook election and consecration disaster, but I am willing to bet that the Episcopal church's tendencies toward teaching revisionism, Pelagianism, and cheap forgiveness for all things (except for conservative viewpoints and rebellion) will not be part of the conclusion.


  1. "may have been drunk" and "suspected Cook was inebriated are get out of jail free cards for leadership accountability. This allows them to be perceptive but giving Cook the benefit of the doubt. I suspect that it was obvious Cook was in fact inebriated.

  2. At this point, I expect any words from "those who should have known better" to be chosen very carefully.