Great article by J. Budziszewski entitled, “Why Hooking Up is Letting You Down“
Article from the Polaris Project on “Human Trafficking Trends in the United States“
Great long-form piece from Sports Illustrated entitled, “The Book of Tebow“
Solid article from Kevin DeYoung entitled, “Seven Thoughts on Pastors Writing Books“
Washington Post infographic on how much income based on Meyers-Briggs personality category
NPR piece “Forget the 50 States, U.S. is Really 11 Nations…“
WSJ piece – “Andrew Huszar: Confessions of a Quantitative Easer“
“Master of Many Trades” – how humans are meant to be natural polymaths and not just specialists
Really interesting piece on Fourier Transforms – “The Math Trick Behind MP3s, JPEGs, and Homer Simpson’s Face” (HT: @joecarter)
If you are at all like me, the first thing you do in the morning is turn off the alarm on your phone… and then check your email (or maybe Facebook if you are a millennial). I think this unconscious routine began whenever I owned my first smartphone.
I’ve come to realize the moment I check that iDevice that I have mentally begun my work day. I have opened Pandora’s Inbox. The inertia of the click of that little icon does not stop for the rest of the work day. I become mentally and spiritually rutted in thinking about the latest plate that needs spun, fire that needs put out, or wires that need uncrossed. It was not healthy.
I recently consciously stopped this habit and have committed to disconnecting from the Matrix until I have spent time in prayer and God’s Word. I am not doing these things as a form of legalism (and technology is not evil), rather I am recognizing it is what my soul needs to be a healthy human and not some zombie or Borg-like being.
Renewal of Heart and Mind
I am desperately in need of the mind of Christ and the renewal that takes place when I quiet my soul before God. My joy in Christ depends on the renewal of my heart and mind, particularly in the casting of my burdens and anxieties on Jesus.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. – Phil. 4:4-8
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. - Matt. 6:33-34
Praise God that His mercies are new each morning and that God has special tailored grace for each day.
Maybe you do your devotions in the evening or at some other point in your day. I do not think that you need to do the same thing that I am doing. However, from one beggar to another – this has helped me find my daily bread.
As good as I think I am at compartmentalizing, once I open Pandora’s Inbox I have fallen down the rabbit hole of my work day. Whether you are Crazy Busy, compulsively checking your inbox/social media, or just trying to stay ahead of the pile – let us continue to avail ourselves of God’s grace. Otherwise we will find ourselves breathing by wires…
I can guarantee that you have this exact conversation in the last week:
You: How are you doing?
Other Person: I am good.
You: How was your week?
Other Person: I am really busy…
Dangers of Busyness
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about busyness and how unhealthy it can be for our souls. There are several negative things that can happen to us by living perpetually with a high “busyness quotient”:
-Danger of relational isolation
-Danger of increased anxiety
-Danger of thinking we are more important than what we are (pride)
-Danger of no rhythm of rest
-Danger of burnout (emotional, physical, spiritual, and relational)
-Danger of joylessness
Self-Awareness and Busyness
My experience is that oftentimes there is also a significant gap between perception and reality on “busyness.” Here is what I mean? The number one person who will identify themselves as being “busy” is the undergraduate college student who has 15hrs of class, maybe 30hrs of study time and over 50hrs of discretionary time per week. On the flip-side, oftentimes the busiest people – people with less than 10hrs of discretionary time per week – often continue to pile more and more on their plates because they fail to self-diagnose how over-loaded they really are.
If you have 50+hrs of discretionary time per week you aren’t busy. You probably need to volunteer and stop spending some much time self-medicating on _________________________ (insert whatever you self-medicate on here – video games, TV, sports, food, addictions…)
If you have less than 10hrs of discretionary time per week you are too busy and your soul is in danger. Please step back and think of some things that aren’t non-negotiable. Learn to say “no.” Be careful not to think of yourself as being too self-important.
Jesus and Busyness
The God of the Universe took a day off every week. Jesus got alone and away from the crowds and away from the ministry. He is/was way more important than you.
You were meant for the rhythm of rest that Jesus did. God gives rest to his sheep. God feeds his sheep when they rest if you trust Him.
Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. “Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. “For My yoke is easy, and My load is light. - Matthew 11:28-30
So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. – Hebrews 4:9-11
I passed by the field of a sluggard, by the vineyard of a man lacking sense, and behold, it was all overgrown with thorns; the ground was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down. Then I saw and considered it; I looked and received instruction. A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man. – Proverbs 24:30-34
And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. – Matthew 8:24
And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. – Mark 6:31
How is your “busyness quotient?” Why do you like being so “busy”? Are you self-aware to your current status? Do you manage your time well?
Time is perhaps the most precious commodity that God has given us. What is time for? Who do you trust your time with?
Pope Francis, in a letter to the founder (Dr. Eugenio Scalfari) of popular Italian newspaper La Repubblica (think USA Today of Italy) wrote the following:
As for the three questions you asked me in the article of August 7th. It would seem to me that in the first two, what you are most interested in is understanding the Church’s attitude towards those who do not share faith in Jesus. First of all, you ask if the God of the Christians forgives those who do not believe and do not seek faith. Given that - and this is fundamental - God’s mercy has no limits if he who asks for mercy does so in contrition and with a sincere heart, the issue for those who do not believe in God is in obeying their own conscience. In fact, listening and obeying it, means deciding about what is perceived to be good or to be evil. The goodness or the wickedness of our behavior depends on this decision. (Full text translated to English by La Repubblica can be found here)
This has to be one of the most bizarre statements every written by a Pope. In my reading in both the English and the Italian of this letter, Pope Francis seems to be asserting an argument something like this:
1. God’s mercy has no limits – contingent on the sincere contrition of the heart
2. Sincere contrition of the heart means obedience to own’s own conscience
3. Obedience to the conscience involves the perception of good and evil
4. A sincere contrite heart is the one does what is right in the eye of his own conscience
5. Pope Francis cannot judge the atheist (Dr. Scalfari) and by corollary any other person(s) who are obedient to their consciences
I am pretty sure I am not taking the Pope’s comments out of context, nor being uncharitable to the argument. If taken to the logical conclusion anyone on Earth who feels like they are a good person in their own eyes should (or at least could) be a part of God’s kingdom. This kind of argument does not square with the Gospel or even Catholic dogma. In my experiences talking with people about spiritual matters nearly all feel that they are a “good person” and would self-affirm that they are obedient to their own conscience.
The Love of God, Liberalism and the book of Judges
Pope Francis’ seems to be attempting to make a case that the central tenet of the Christian faith is the Incarnation of Jesus and that the most important element of the atonement is the love of God:
Christian faith believes in this: that Jesus is the Son of God who came to give his life to open the way to love for everyone. Therefore there is a reason, dear Dr. Scalfari, when you see the incarnation of the Son of God as the pivot of Christian faith. Tertullian wrote “caro cardo salutis”, the flesh (of Christ) is the pivot of salvation. Because the incarnation, that is the fact that the Son of God has come into our flesh and has shared joy and pain, victories and defeat of our existence, up to the cry of the cross, living each event with love and in the faith of Abbà, shows the incredible love that God has for every man, the priceless value that he acknowledges. For this reason, each of us is called to accept the view and the choice of love made by Jesus, become a part of his way of being, thinking and acting. This is faith, with all the expressions that have been dutifully described in the Encyclical.
* * *
In your editorial of July 7th, you also asked me how to understand the originality of Christian Faith as it is actually based on the incarnation of the Son of God, with respect to other religions that instead pivot on the absolute transcendency of God.
I would say that the originality lies in the fact that faith allows us to participate, in Jesus, in the relationship that He has with God who is Abbà and, because of this, in the relationship that He has with all other men, including enemies, in the sign of love. In other words, the children of Jesus, as Christian faith presents us, are not revealed to mark an inseparable separation between Jesus and all the others: but to tell us that, in Him, we are all called to be the children of the only Father and brothers with each other. The uniqueness of Jesus is for communication not for exclusion.
In this sense, coupled with the argument above, Pope Francis seems far closer to Unitarianism or liberal Protestantism than he does Catholicism or anything from the New Testament. This is some kind of vague pure love of God version of Jesus who is the nice Galilean homeless guy who challenged the status quo and broke social norms so we can all sit around the campfire holding hands singing kumbaya. This is the pure love of God version of Jesus that doesn’t really care about sin… as long as you feel good about obeying your own seared conscience.
There was a time when God’s people did what was right in their own eyes… :
In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. – Judges 17:6 ESV
In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. – Judges 21:25 ESV
… and it was a total mess.
The Good News
To be crystal clear, Jesus’ death on the cross makes no sense for anything but the paying for the sin of His people and the transfer of His perfect life in return.
The Good News is that Jesus was perfect so that you the imperfect might have your law-breaking wiped clean and Jesus’ perfection deposited into your account. His death is what wipes away the penalty of law-breaking and His perfect life is what makes His people Holy in the eyes of God.
Trevin Wax over at the Gospel Coalition has a great piece entitled, “Being True to Yourself is Living a Lie.” The gist of the article is that much of pop culture today – everyone from Disney to Lady Gaga – is espousing that being true to oneself is the highest virtue. He sites some of the following examples from Disney and Gaga:
- Cinderella singing about her dreams and being true to her inner princess
- Mulan refusing to fit into cultural stereotypes
- Ariel longing for a world she wasn’t created for
- Aladdin becoming the prince he pretended to be
Music only reinforces this message during the teenage years. For example, Lady Gaga’s anthem “Born This Way” celebrates our urgings and longings:
Don’t hide yourself in regret
Just love yourself and you’re set
I’m on the right track, baby
I was born this way
The underlying assumption here is that the highest virtue of life is authenticity to self.
Nietzsche, Disney and Lady Gaga
This kind of assumption has its roots in neither Disney films nor Lady Gaga’s music. The roots of these assumptions are found in the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. Nietzsche essentially espouses the most consistent (as consistent as anything can be within a framework that has no God and by corollary no Truth, no fixed axioms… etc.) atheistic system. Nietzsche is one of the few atheists that actually says that morality is contingent on God’s existence. For him, because God does not exist, neither does morality and morality is nothing but a human construction that is keeping humanity from evolving beyond humanity. For Nietzsche, he wants humanity to shed itself of morality and embrace power and dominion over weaker humans. Only when a few will be cruel and domineering over weaker humans (humans who still embrace morality, Truth… etc.) will humanity start the process of becoming like the overman (the overman is to humanity what humanity is to the apes – the next step in our evolutionary biology). Here is the KEY - The key to embracing power… The key to rejecting morality and its chains… The key to evolving and walking the tightrope towards the overman… is AUTHENTICITY TO SELF. (For more on this you can read a piece I wrote entitled - Why Nietzsche is Helpful for the Christian)
The Problem with Authenticity to Self
The big problem with authenticity to self is that we are children of Adam. As children of Adam, being authentic to ourselves means we should embrace all our sin patterns and call them good and healthy. What happens if we apply the lyrics of the Lady Gaga song to the man who is attracted to little boys or girls?
Don’t hide yourself in regret
Just love yourself and you’re set
I’m on the right track, baby
I was born this way
What happens if we apply these lyrics is that pedophilia is not only not wrong, it is rather virtuous and good – for I am merely exercising my authenticity to my personhood as a son of Adam. Margaret Sanger was just being authentic to her feeling that certain races and genetic material was inferior and therefore ought to be prevented from birth or eliminated from the womb. Hitler was just being authentic to his extreme hatred in his heart for the Jews, gypsies and homosexuals. Jeffrey Dahmer, Ed Gein, John Wayne Gacy, Charles Manson, Richard Ramirez, Albert Fish, Ted Bundy, and the Zodiac were all just expressing on the canvas of the murdered bodies their authentic personhood as sons of Adam.
Calling all the sinful, disobedient, law-breaking, twisted and harmful desires of our heart good is not just unhealthy it is dangerous to society, the thriving of culture and the reality of the Gospel.
The Good News
The good news is authenticity is a virtue in the new life we have when we are adopted into Christ’s family. We are given the mind of Christ, the Holy Spirit, God’s book, and a community of people to grow and flourish. Authenticity means living in light of being no longer a son of Adam but a son of the King – one who has been set free from the mind of sin and death and is free to become a slave of Christ.
Interesting video. I love infographics. However, there are a few notable problems with this video:
1. The difference between earned income and net worth
I think the common man has a hard time understanding when the narrator speaks of wealth – he means net worth. There is a big difference between net worth and earned income.
Many of those folks in the top 10% of that video earned a janitors wage during their lifetime, but they lived well below their means, delayed gratification and invested wisely. We would not want to dis-incentivize saving or demonize such people.
If we want to speak of inequality, I don’t think that net worth is a good econometric. Once one has amassed a significant amount of wealth, it becomes significantly easier to multiply that wealth. Somewhere along the way there is a tipping point. This is why Universities seek to be endowed and why Harvard is a glorified Hedge Fund (read here). The most basic tenet of capitalism is compounding money likes to compound more. Further, some of those top 1% folks have had money compounding for generations – think Vanderbilt’s, Carnegie’s, and Walton’s. Most of this wealth is from investment income which has nothing to do with differentials in wage.
We’ve got at least 237 years of capitalism (if we date its age by Adam Smith’s, The Wealth of Nations). That is a lot of time for wealthy families to grow their net worth’s through investment – so this serves to muddy the waters on “economic inequality.”
2. The law of diminishing returns – Michael Jordan vs. Kurt Rambis
I would posit that one is not paid for “time.” We often measure our pay by the unit of time, but the reality is we are not paying people for “time.” What we really pay people is for “value.” Consider Michael Jordan and Kurt Rambis:
When we consider the law of diminishing returns – say Michael Jordan (30.1ppg, 6.2 rpg, 5.3 apg, 2.4 spg, .8 bpg) and Kurt Rambis (10.2 ppg, 11 rpg, 2.1 apg, 1.7 spg, 1 bpg). Rambis had more blocks and rebounds per game than Jordan, but Jordan had 3x the points and more steals and assists. At best, we can say from a “time” standpoint that Michael Jordan (1985-1998; 2001-2003) was 3x as valuable per unit of “time” than Kurt Rambis (1985-1994).
Kurt Rambis made $5,300,000 in his career – an average of $662,500/yr. Michael Jordan made $90,235,000 – an average of $6,941,154/yr. At Rambis’ height he earned $1.1 million/yr and Jordan $33.1 million/yr. I don’t think anyone would have questioned the value that Jordan added and that he “earned” every bit of his 30x multiplier of Rambis’ salary. Consider that Jerry Reinsdorf (and the rest of a syndicate) purchased the Chicago Bulls in 1985 for $16 million. The franchise today is valued between $500 and 800 million.
Now Michael Jordan’s net worth is estimated between $500-650 million because of his other income from endorsements and investments. I don’t think anyone would argue that Michael Jordan earned every bit of his half billion net worth and justified his wage differential and his net worth differential versus Kurt Rambis. Three times the production over the same time period is significant – significant enough to justify substantial wage increases.
3. Every field has its Michael Jordan’s
The late Steve Jobs was brilliant to say the least. His ideas, attention to detail, simplicity and intuitive design have enriched millions of people’s lives. His track record at Pixar and Apple are legendary. We can go on down the line – Warren Buffett, Dale Carnegie, Sam Walton…
All of these people took risks, substantial risks, to become business owners. For better or for worse the world runs on incentive. For these folks they took the risk of business ownership onto their own shoulders and built something great. Why would we want to turn their success stories into an example of injustice. Many of these folks have made huge philanthropic contributions to humanity and society – arguably having a far greater impact per dollar than the government programs that would have redistributed said wealth.
4. We all need a market that rewards risk taking… especially all us little people (janitors, laborers… etc.)
There must be enough incentive in a system for people with business ideas to take on the risk of business ownership. If the potential for upside is not there, people will not take entrepreneurial risk. Not everyone is wired to take on this kind of risk. That said, all of us wage earners owe a bit of gratitude that someone took on the risk of starting the company you work for.
I would posit that a worker’s wage is worth whatever an employer will pay. Wage is subject to scarcity in the same way that precious metals, spices, real estate or many other categories. In the workforce not everyone has the same skills and not everyone adds the same value. Some people add exponentially more value and have far greater scarcity in their skill set. The market tends to reflect this in wage’s within a business or organization.
5. The (potential) myth of the middle ground
I can’t support with graphs and hard data the claims of this point. I would posit that there is precious little middle ground between socialism and capitalism. I presume that the narrator’s solution is wealth redistribution through taxation in order to create a more robust middle and lower class. Cutting half the upside of the top 20% would have a devastating effect on employment. The effect would almost assuredly be monotonic – ie. cut the upside by half and half as many entrepreneurs attempt to start their business ideas. The narrator is talking about taking a much larger cut out of top 20% and huge upside out of the top 1%.
Why would we want to take money out of the hands of people who have a proven track record of creating jobs and multiplying wealth?
I just am not sure if the ideal or even perceptive views are even logically possible in reality. I am not sure there is enough upside for the top 20% to cause them to take their risks in the U.S. markets. They would move into other markets that have a much better risk/reward quotient.
I think I get the sentiment of something like this video: Why such huge differences in net worth? It offends people’s sense of fairness. I get the whole objections of people that add little value, do bad/evil things and get rewarded handsomely for behaving badly. The abuses of Wall Street, large banks and other institutions that have put our financial system at serious risk.
Let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water. It’s good to know that tremendous upside exists at all. It makes me want to acquire new skills, more scarce skills and to keep thinking about new entrepreneurial ideas. It also makes me want to help the lower 40% grow in their skills, how they see themselves, and develop the value that they can add in a business.