In the work environment, supposed enhancements sometimes appear when supervisors become managers or project managers and managers become directors and directors become vice presidents for client experience (or some such nonsense). Upon being promoted or taking a new position, these people—and I have been one of them on occasions—feel they have to make names for themselves, and so they “enhance” something. The supposition is that the addition has enhanced the value of the original thing.
Meetings are famously incorporated into many work environments. In one school, the new VP for Academic Affairs newly required that every department enhance its communication by having a weekly meeting, whether there was anything to meet about or not. He made his rounds and sat in on various meetings, checking up on each department to make sure they were having their meetings. In another life, I was aghast at the corporate funds expended on air travel for the sake of meetings when those meetings were of assumed but questionable value. Some meetings can enhance a work process, while others have little value (other than to be able to report that a meeting was held, that is). My personal experience with meetings leads me to enhance this paragraph by saying two more things: (1) the value of most meetings is real but overestimated, and (2) many meetings tend to trail off in terms of effectiveness. The first 50-75% of a meeting is generally more productive than the rest of it. Perhaps meeting planners should enhance productivity by utilizing Google Calendar’s “speedy meetings” feature that defaults to 25- and 50-minute time blocks. (Ending a meeting at 2:50 allows you to get to your 3:00 meeting on time, of course!)
My current job training requirements include online “ZZZ” (not this organization’s real initials) courses. Someone, or a group of someones, decided that seven courses would enhance my learning. There are also certain regulatory requirements that appear to necessitate these programs of instruction. [Aside: speaking of “ZZZ,” it’s not all that easy to find out what the initials stand for. Perhaps the organization should enhance its website with that information. That would be basic stuff, really, not an enhancement.] As yet, the value added by these online courses is probably only 10-20% of what was assumed.
Enhancements may take the form of added ingredients in foods:
High fructose corn syrup is added to more prepared foods than I ever knew. My wife is the main one who has enhanced my awareness of HFCS.
MSG is famously added to a lot of Chinese food—presumably to enhance it. An old friend named Ed once told me he was in the habit of specifically requesting “no MSG,” either being allergic or simply resistant to this non-native addition.
Garlic is for some reason added to 95% of prepared salsa products, and I have no idea why that is supposed to add value to such an already way-flavorful thing like salsa. With peppers and cilantro, who needs the residual effect of garlic breath? No value added, I say.
As a graduate student, I had an official advisor. He was not the Graduate School liaison or anyone in the Graduate School, mind you; he was my advisor in my particular College, School, Department, and subject area. This astute man once mentioned that he didn’t feel the Graduate School itself added value to the process for graduate students. He was correct, in my estimation. We all would have been just fine without the “enhancements” (read bureaucratic bog-downs) to the process of moving through an academic program.
Considering Christianity from its earliest decades, I have been impressed with its seemingly swift “enhancement.” The epistles (and some of the more personal letters) in the NT address some negative eventualities that were seen as early as the late 40s through the 60s. Before the dawn of the 2nd century, it seems clear that many baseline things were not as they had been, and exponential expansion on the pattern of addition and development has been seen throughout the centuries of Christian history.
What has been added to Christianity since the days of its origination? Have those things truly enhanced it? A more intense question follows: What aspects can now be thrown overboard as no-value additions, leaving us with purer forms of Christian faith and practice?
P.S. Last Sunday I was in the company of some believers who keep things relatively simple, but even they have added and complicated things to a degree. Soon I’ll share that experience, hoping in some way to enhance the perspective of some of my readers.
B. Casey, 9/22/16