Monday, April 04, 2005

Prozac for my pastor

Yesterday our congregation was met with a note in the bulletin and brief comment of two from one of our elders. We're having a congregational meeting in two weeks to discuss a proposal for an upcoming sabbatical for our pastor.

Our pastor is terrific. We're a smaller church (about 120 members) and he has been there for almost twenty seven years now. He took one pseudo-sabbatical about 13 years ago, where he visited other churches on Sundays but still did day-to-day operations at our church for about two months. But this proposal is for him to take four months off (next year, starting after Easter and running into mid-August) from all his duties.

I'm actually not opposed to this at all. Our pastor intends to stay with us (God willing) till his retirement and I love the idea of him getting rested and rejuvenate for a final push to that. What has me wondering is the money.

I'm not opposed to him keeping his salary and benefits or anything like that. But the elders want us to apply for a grant from the Lilly Endowment. I think it's great that there is someone who believes in the value of sabbaticals for pastors to allot funds to help support it. But Lilly?

This is the same Lilly that is a mega-pharmaceutical company, probably most famously known for Prozac. So effectively it is the makers and pushers of Prozac - a drug with someone highly questionable effects - supporting our church financially.

Is it right for our pastor and our church to be getting better through the money of a drug that causes:

* Markedly depressed mood
* Marked anxiety
* Marked affectivity
* Decreased interest in activities
* Feeling sad, hopeless or self-deprecating
* Feeling tense, anxious or "on edge"
* Persistent irritability, anger and increased interpersonal conflicts
* Feeling fatigued, lethargic or lacking in energy
* Marked changes in appetite
* A subjective feeling of being overwhelmed or out of control
* Physical symptoms such as breast tenderness, swelling or bloating

Perhaps the better (and bigger) question is do we as the Christian community have a responsibility to say that we don't need to financially benefit from companies like Eli Lilly, who show a pattern of morally and ethically questionable practices? This article can help review some of their poor decision making:

I think I'm in support of the sabbatical, but not the money - not from that source, anyways. What do you all think?