Modern Pensées

Reconsidering theology, philosophy, culture, economics, and politics

Posts Tagged ‘Capitalism

Best Links of the Week

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Apparently Nancy Pelosi makes all of her public policy decisions based on “The Word.”  One of my pet peeves is politicians isogeting Scripture, it is almost sure to be a disaster.  I am wondering what part of the “The Word” encourages abortion.  Do yourself a favor and watch the incoherent trainwreck that was her speech.

Interesting article on the massive contraction of the U.S. Money Supply.

David Byrne, of Talking Heads fame, is suing Florida Gov. Charlie Crist for unauthorized use of his music.

Apparently Michelangelo sketched a human brain into the head of God in the Sistene Chapel.

On Monks and Capitalism.

Some interesting analysis of the sociology of Facebook.

For all you GUT folks:  Neutrinos have mass.

Hillary Clinton thinks ‘the rich aren’t paying their fair share’ of taxes.  I guess $.40 on the dollar isn’t enough for the sticky fingers of Uncle Sam.

Some in-depth analysis of the “New Calvinism.”  Don’t agree with all the conclusions from the article, but a worthwhile read.  On a sidenote, people need to more properly delineate the terms “Neo-Calvinism” and “new calvinism.”  Neo-Calvinism is Dutch Reformed thinking from mainly Abraham Kuyper and also Herman Bavinck.  New Calvinism is a term associated with the surging sub-group of Reformed Evangelicals who have some small distinctives from the traditional arc of Calvinists.

Burk Parsons also offers some thoughts on the New Calvinism.

I am so glad I don’t have to do this for salvation and blessing.

All you caffeine addicts… recent science shows your morning coffee doesn’t give you any real perk, rather it merely gets you to your baseline productivity.  On a sidenote, why do so many evangelical ministers seem to be okay (and some even proud) of their coffee/caffeine addiction?  Am I the only one that thinks this is odd?

Here is a pretty incredible action (and quite violent) sequence from a 1992 John Woo movie entitled Hard Boiled. Woo is an auteur of the fight scene:

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The Scam of Obamanomics

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I remember during my time in undergrad at University of Florida several interactions with the staunch political left.  I was there during the 2000 election and for the primaries and for some of the buildup to the 2004 election.  I recall one of the main critiques of the those staunch left was the relationship of the Republican party with “big business.”   They would cite ties with oil and such.  Those ties definitely existed within the Bush administration.  The Bush family is from Texas and has roots in oil.  VP Dick Cheney was the former CEO of Halliburton.  Their critiques would not bother me if it were not for par for the course for the left and right alike.

Here is one of the many scams of Obamanomics…

The big banks made a boatload of money this past year.  One of the big ways they did it was through a genius little scam the Obama administration (and the quasi-independent Federal Reserve) has setup for them.  Its pretty simple.  The Fed has the interest rate that banks can borrow (almost limitlessly) at zero percent interest.  These same banks then with that zero percent loan money but up US Treasury Bills (whose interest rates vary from relatively small to 4.5%+ for the 30 year variety).  The banks get rich, Obama gets some financial donors, and the American taxpayer gets screwed.  In effect, the American taxpayer is subsidizing the big banks.  I am all for capitalism.  I am not for subsidizing these banks through this scam.  Henry Paulson, former CEO of Goldman Sachs, and the supposed chief architect of our financial recovery, has taken the opportunity to make sure Goldman Sachs gets very wealthy and that his former competitors get less-than-favorable deals with the federal government.  Unimaginable greed drives these scammy deals.  The accumulation of wealth is not intrinsically evil, but the means of accumulating that wealth should have at least some level of integrity and morality.

I think Timothy Carney’s book entitled Obamanomics:  How Barack Obama is Bankrupting You and Enriching His Wall Street Friends, likely has some similar themes.

Written by Michael Graham

March 15, 2010 at 12:38 pm

Lovely Day for a Guinness

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Os Guinness that is...

Justin Taylor has a wonderful little interview of Os Guinness, where he peppers him with insightful questions regarding on old book, The Gravedigger File (in anticipation for his forthcoming book The Last Christian on Earth).  For those not familiar with Guinness, he is the great-great-great grandson of Arthur Guinness, brewer and founder of Guinness beer.  He is a keen analyzer of evangelicalism and a necessary read for developing both a Christian worldview and philosophy of ministry.  He is well-travelled, well thought out, cogent, and prescient in his thinking.  1983’s Gravedigger put forth the idea that Christianity was the major force behind modernization and capitalism in the West and what Christianity created it also uncritically adopted, thereby undermining Christianity.  Undoubtedly true.

Best Links of the Week

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The Danger of an Unconverted Seminary

Which is your favorite?  Did I miss anything extraordinary?

1.  “The Danger of an Uncoverted Seminary” – a very worthwhile read, from a mainline perspective, on thedechristianization of the West and how seminaries ought to be adjusting to this shift.  We’ve never been more like the 1st/2nd centuries – pluralism, syncretism, and a world where the velocity of ideas was ever quicker due to new trade routes.

2.  Very disturbing Gallop Poll showing that 53% of democrat leaning voters think positively about “socialism.”  This is insanity.  People need to read history.  Also included in the poll were voters impressions of:  small business, free enterprise, entrepreneurs, capitalism, big business, and federal government.  Also, 63% of all polled (both democrat and republican) thought Barack Obama was a “socialist.”

3.  Google has been doing lots of stuff this week: “Is Google Planning to Add Storeviews to Google Maps?“;  “Google Creates Experimental Fiber Network…(capable of 1Gb/s)“; they also are launched an offensive on Facebook over their Gmail client – “Google wants to be Facebook and Facebook wants to be Gmail“.

4.  Ligonier has a huge compilation of links on the New Perspectives on Paul, from Turretin to present.

5.  Proposed Obama 2011 budget cuts could drastically reduce charitable giving from taking away line item deductions for those in 28% and higher tax brackets.

6.  A fascinating piece on First Things entitled, “Vampires and the Anthropic Principle.”

7.  First Things has an interesting info-graphic and analysis of the 210,000,000 Facebook profiles and friend networks:  “The Localism of Facebook Nation

8.  “The Government Has Your Babies’ DNA

9.  Steven Pearlstein of the Washington Post writes on the fallout of the Amazon v. MacMillan.

10.  Only 4 men have been to all 44 Superbowls, here is their story.

11.  “Physicist Discovers How to Teleport Energy“:  infinite possibilities here.

12.  A very scary article from GQ about cell phone radiation and brain cancer.  The writer talked to several investment bankers in their late 30s/early 40s who have been using cell phones since the brick days… and have brain tumors.  This is not a tin foil hat, conspiracy theory article, it is cogently written.

13. Awkwardfamilyphotos.com – self-explanatory, hilarious, and definitely awkward.

14.  “The Beauty of Waves“:  series of photos from LIFE Magazine of beautiful waves.  Photography done by Clark Little.

15. Several people in the Philippines have been murdered by singing the triumphalist Frank Sinatra song, “My Way,” read the NY Times article.

16.  12 really random things you can buy on the internet (I fancy both the tanks and the giant floating hamster balls).

17. NY Times article on the ‘Shortage of Men on College Campuses.’

18.  Foxnews on proposed new government administration to study climate change.  File under:  big government and waste of money.

19.  NY Times Op-Ed chilling story on “The World Capital of Killing.”

20.  “Will the Baby Boomers Bankrupt Social Security” – CNBC article

21.  Ed Stetzer on potential upcoming shifts in pastoral ministry.

22.  Low intelligence second most important indicator (behind smoking) as predictor of heart disease.

Avatar Causing Depression and Suicidal Thoughts

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Pandora: The Fictional Utopian World in Avatar

Disclaimer: I have not seen the film Avatar.  Here is a link to a story about audience members who have experienced depression and suicidal thoughts, due to the fact that they cannot live in the utopian Pandora.   My initial thought was this is completely pathetic…  it is just a movie promoting pantheism (or perhaps panentheism) while bashing American imperialism.

However, on second thought, there is something more profound here.  It is not new or revolutionary for humanity to long for peace, prosperity, and flourishing life.  The people who are feeling these ‘side-affects’ are really longing not for Pandora.  They are longing for the Shalom that God will usher in at the Second Coming of Christ.  These people are longing for the fullness of the Kingdom of God where everything is made right, everything is made new, and there is no injustice.  Its the same longing for the end of winter in Narnia, the destruction of the ring in Lord of the Rings, or Christian’s journey to Mt. Zion and the Celestial City in Pilgrim’s Progress.  There is a palpable intensity to living in this broken world.  The reality of fallen creation can be bleak and depressing and promote both anxiety and despair.  All of man’s attempts at utopia have failed:  communism, capitalism, pantheism/panentheism/Walden’s Pond, communalism…  We need the reality of the God-Man, Jesus Christ, making peace through his propitiatory sacrifice the wrath of God towards the sins of man.  We need Christ’s church to do her work throughout the Earth.  We need Christ to return and establish the New Heavens and the New Earth.

Come quickly Lord Jesus.

Thoughts on Economics and Investment, Part 2: Challenging the Buy and Hold Strategy

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The Tenuous 21st Century Strategy of "Buy and Hold"

Underlying premise of “Buy and Hold” strategy

One of the most tried and true maxims of investing is:  buy and hold.  The idea is that, in the past, those stocks that have been bought and held for the long term have given solid returns.  The underlying premise is that the past strategies will continue to work in the future.  I want to challenge this underlying premise.  The buy and hold strategy was successful during the 20th century because the 20th century saw unprecedented economic growth.  The buy and hold strategy assumes that the 21st century will have similar economic growth to the 2oth century.  It is dangerous to assume that the 21st century will have this growth.

Consider the following developments from the 20th century

-Invention of the automobile

-Invention of the airplane

-Advent of the assembly line

-Abundance of cheap oil

-Abundance of cheap food

-Not to mention: radio, television, atomic bomb, helicopter, CDs, printers, DVDs, the internet, personal computers, and Google.

Economic Asymptotes

Economies (micro or macro) cannot grow forever, there are limits of capital and production.  The abundance of cheap energy and cheap food, combined with new technologies that made the world substantially smaller, made the 20th centuries’ economic growth unprecedented in world history.  I am skeptical to think that the 21st century can maintain this momentum and am inclined to think we will butt up against an economic asymptote.

Caveats for the 21st century

Energy is no longer cheap.  Paradigm shifts in current energy sources will likely be required to solve the problem of Peak Oil.  Food is no longer cheap.  The Western world has been descending into a sensate abyss of titillation, amusement, general thoughtlessness, and continues to lean further towards socialism.  In my view, India, China, and Russia are the great hope for serious economic growth in the 21st century.  However, the high cost of commodities and energy will likely curb growth.   Further, the globalized world still relies (for the time being) uncomfortably on the crippled U.S. economy.  One must worry when the most capitalistic nation in the world is a communist country.

In my view, the “buy and hold” strategy is not as fiscally safe as it once was and I plan to not invest in this manner.

Up next we will take a look at diversification.

Thoughts on Evangelicalism Past, Present, and Future… Part 7

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Neocalvinism

Neocalvinism

It is easier to write about the past than to predict the future. Evangelicalism is quite broad today, perhaps so broad as to question the veracity of its use as a technical term.  Regardless of whether evangelicalism remains the technical term to describe conservative Protestants, I shall try to look at some potential future (and semi-present) trends.

Networks of churches will be more common:  Groups of churches, organized either locally/geographically and/or doctrinally, will be more common.  Organizations like Acts29 will be a more attractive option for new churches planted over against denominations.

Multi-site:  the multi-site movement is where one church has multiple campuses and the main pastor’s sermon is broadcast/simulcast to the other sites.  I think we will see a movement here towards multi-sites that are geographically distant from the original site – this leads to…

Branding:  I can envision some multi-site groups with a nationally (or internationally) recognizable pastor seeking to do multi-site in other cities across the country.   Instead of one self-identifying with being, “Southern Baptist,” one might identify with going to “Superstar Pastor, Chicago” or “Superstar Pastor, Memphis.”

Church Planting:  The church planting movement will continue to grow.  As liberal churches continue to bleed, there will continue to be a need for church planting.

Denominational decline and growth:  Denominations that fail to adhere to orthodox beliefs will decline heavily.  I am sure some denominations will go unorthodox on a variety of theological issues.  I can imagine social theological issues like abortion, homosexuality, and bioethics being some gateways to denominational error.  Denominations that adhere to orthodox faith and seek balance of reaching their city and the world will grow.

Liturgy:  There will be a growth in people who want more of God’s transcendence in the service in reaction over against the more entertainment and pop oriented worship.

Consumerism, Megachurch, and Smaller Local Churches:  Consumerism has failed the church – ie. the church with the great ______ program(s).  It makes for lousy discipleship and many people thinking they are legitimate believers when they are not.  I think that there will be a decline in the megachurch movement.  Megachurches will not go away because there will always be those drawn to a more anonymous worship experience and consumerism will always infiltrate evangelicalism on some level.  However, I think people many (not all) will trend away from the megachurch, preferring real community.  I think this will be in reaction to the great irony of globalization – as the world gets smaller and closer, it becomes more fractured and less communal.  This will be a driving factor for many to leave the anonymous megachurch and go to a place where they can know and have friendship with real people.

Missional Church Movement:  Time will tell if the missional church movement overemphasizes the local mission, an equal and opposite reaction to the imbalance of evangelicalism towards defining mission as unreached or international only.  My guess is that the missional church will seek some balance and develop a positive identity that does not require a defunct evangelism as a host in order to survive (ie. post-modernity needing modernity).

Open Source and Kingdom Mentality:  The redeeming principles of the open source movement that began in computer science will be applied and used well to resource the global body of Christ.  Ministries like Third Millenium Ministries who collaborate across denominational lines and give away all their content for free will be more common (see also Desiring God Ministries).  This will happen as technology is utilized to make edifying data more and more available instaneously – combined with visionary kingdom minded people seek to ensure that the worldwide church is well resourced.

Neo-Calvinism (I am not sure how to define it, but try some of these links- 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5):  Neo-calvinism will continue to grow… whether as a reaction against something else (megachurch, anti-intellectualism, Dispensationalism, irrelevance, or unmissionality) or positively as an embracing of something substantive.

I fear that the internet era of podcasts and videocasts, people’s expectations of their unknown and unsung local pastors could become unrealistic.  This fuels my concern over the already existing issue of celebrity and may lead to the aforementioned highly problematic branding.  I wonder if the great contribution of the non-denominational world will ultimately be de facto denominations that have all their weaknesses without all their strengths.

How things will play out will depend on the actions/reactions of evangelicalism to multiculturalism, mobility, globality, pluralism, re-urbanization, technology, capitalism, democritization, and dualism.  This concludes our look at the past, present, and future of evangelicalism as I see it.

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