paying our dues?

At times during the past month, as we've been unable to get much response in our attempts to arrange for people to come for retreats, I've wondered if it's just a matter of having to "pay our dues." Maybe this is just the difficulties everyone faces when starting something new. We're inexperienced and unproven; isn't this kind of response what we should expect, until we show that we have what it takes?

But the more I've thought about that, the more I wonder if "paying your dues" is really the necessary and natural process that people have to go through to learn how to do their work well. It's feels different than trial-and-error learning. And it feels like it's pushing me in a direction I don't feel good about.

I'm beginning to suspect that the image of paying dues (to some established organization that we want to gain membership in) is quite appropriate to the reality. That it is a product of society, not nature. And that it is not a simple fact of life but a process by which people are changed, by which they are pressured to conform to a certain societal standard, a certain way of "doing business." To be accepted, we have to present ourselves a certain way, to the right influential people. And impress them. Which means performing well according to their value system, the system that rewards the powerful and successful (which is just about the opposite of Jesus' way). The more I think about it, the worse it looks.

More later...