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Celibacy in Corporate America

By Kenny Moore

There’s been a lot of criticism of the Catholic hierarchy lately. Rightly so. The masses have clamored for the elimination of celibacy, believing this would remedy all. Wrongly so.

I have some experience on this matter. Having spent 15 years in a monastery as a Catholic priest, I now work for a Fortune 500 company in NYC. I’ve been here for 20 years, and truth be told, the work’s proven to be quite similar - only the pay’s now a lot better. And as a married man and father of two I was surprised to find out, oddly enough, that monastic celibacy was a good preparation for both marriage and business life. Like many folks, I work long hours. So does my M.B.A.-wife. With all the time we put in, it’s a miracle that our two kids ever got conceived.

I must confess that when I was in the monastery I dreamt of one day getting married to a young, beautiful woman and being together in bed. Well, I got my fantasy. But after a 12-hour workday, I often wind up simply falling asleep. Or if I’m not slumbering from exhaustion, I’ve got a small boy pulling at the covers, mumbling something about being afraid of the dark.

I suspect there’s a cruel hoax here. For days on end, I’m as celibate now as I was as a monk. Contrary to what my wife says, sometimes this goes on for weeks. And I’m not alone. Many of my peers work longer hours than I do. They couldn’t have a sex life if they wanted to. In my private conversations, they tell me they’d much prefer a good night’s sleep to a passionate tryst in bed. For inspiration, I’ve prayed to Erma Bombeck, the patron saint of the daily grind. The answers come back dim and distorted and seem to have something to do with a Divine sense of humor. Oh, sure, some corporate titans not only get to be interviewed by the big name business journals, they also get to sleep with the editor. But as my therapist reminds me: that’s not about sex, it’s about power. Even in the illicit affair, it’s not as fulfilling as you would think.

Corporate women, in particular, don’t fare well in the workplace. For the more successful ones, the statistics are damning. Large numbers of the high-earners are divorced or single. Many of them are unintentionally childless. Wall Street may be more restrictive than the convent for these ladies. The old-boy executives have become the Hamlets of the 21st Century, commanding their female managers: "Get thee to a nunnery." For the working single parents, there’s not a lot of passionate activity going on there either. They spend most of their energy trying to stay sane, keep their jobs and have some time with the kids. Some even spurn amorous overtures because they’re too tired and don’t want the hassle.

So, all you celibate business folks out there, take a word of solace from this former monk: if you’re having less sex than you’d like, you’re not alone. And for all those who want to fix the clergy by eliminating celibacy, take a look in the mirror. You may have more in common with these guys than you think. As life continues to point out, being in an amorous relationship doesn’t always solve much and often creates some interesting paradoxes of its own. Similar to us, much of the clergy are decent types, laboring in an inherently flawed system, doing the best they can as imperfect mortals. As fellow celibates, we can understand that. At least they’re getting some eternal rewards for their asceticism. We’re not. Bottom line: they may be better business folks than we are. Their return on investment looks impressive.

There is one piece of good news in all this discussion. Be thankful that Cardinal Law isn’t your C.E.O. Your incentive bonus would have been garbage this year.

P.S. If you’re thinking about writing me, give in to the temptation. I love getting mail ... and being influenced by what you have to say. Please E-mail me at kmoore@keyspanenergy.com.

(Kenny Moore is a former monk and present day businessman, improvising his way through the daily work-a-day grind. He’s Corporate Ombudsman and Human Resources Director at KeySpan in NYC. Kenny has survived "incurable" cancer and open heart surgery - largely due to luck and Divine playfulness. Having dealt with both God and death, he now finds himself eminently qualified to work with executives on corporate change efforts.)


Kenny Moore is Corporate Ombudsman and Human Resources Director at KeySpan, a NYC based energy company with 13,000 employees. Reporting to the C.E.O., he is primarily responsible for awakening joy, meaning and commitment in the workplace. While these efforts have largely been met with skepticism, he remains eternally optimistic of their future viability. Kenny has experience with change management, leadership development and healing the corporate community. He is past-President of the New Jersey Human Resource Planning Group and has been interviewed by Fortune, The New York Times and Fast Company regarding his unique efforts. His work has been profiled in Susan Skog’s book: Radical Acts of Love: How Compassion is Transforming Our World.

The New York Times, Executive Talent and Consulting Today as well as business web sites such as HR.com have picked up Kenny’s articles. His business practices are based on Louie Armstrong who said: "I am here in the service of Happiness." Louis died a rich and beloved man; his voice still rings in the ears (and hearts) of millions.

Prior to his work in corporate America, Kenny spent 15 years in a monastic community as a Catholic priest. Several years ago, he had the good fortune of being diagnosed with "incurable" cancer, at its most advanced stages. He underwent a year of experimental treatment at the National Cancer Institute and survived. Kenny came away from that experience recalling the words of Oliver Wendell Holmes: "Most of us go to our graves with our music still inside us." Kenny’s lifetime goal is to spend more of his time playing his music. Having dealt with both God and death, Kenny now finds himself eminently qualified to work with senior management on corporate change efforts.

Kenny is a watercolor artist and poet. He is Founding Director of "Art for the Anawim," a not-for-profit charity which works with the art community in supporting the needs of terminally ill children and the inner city poor. His poems have been published in several anthologies; one was selected as a semi-finalist in the North American Open Poetry Contest. Kenny lives in Totowa, NJ and is married to the "fair and beautiful" Cynthia. Together, they are fighting a losing battle of maintaining their mental stability while raising 2 young boys.

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