I publish WendellNotes for significant books I read to make their perspective available to friends and GIN subscribers who may not otherwise have time for them. Before I started writing WendellNotes in 2011, book notes were part of my Journal. [Brackets separate my comments from the author's.]
God the truth about what you really believe about him, yourself, and others. A false identity makes us feel fear, guilt, or shame. When a person says to me, “I’m addicted to…” I say, ”That’s not who you are. You are describing an action. That’s not an identity. We teach people how to know their true identity. God only speaks to you in your true identity. Silence the room--the negative voices that disrupt our lives. The most common form of human despair is not being who you are. True identity is received from God in community through the intuitive mind in prayer. We do not find our true self by seeking it--rather by seeking God. Understanding our true identity gives us opportunity to walk others into understanding their own identities in Christ. God’s ideas transform us. The ideas and resulting actions are redemptive. As the people in Acts start living their lives under the direction of the Spirit of God, it’s an experiment. They have debates and figure it out because they’re experimenting.
We can stay fully functional into our 90s, 100s, and beyond. Sugar is one of the nutrients responsible for yeast aging fast and dying early. If aging is the central risk factor for all major diseases, it’s much smarter to intervene on aging itself than to try to prevent and treat diseases one by one. Fasting destroys many damaged cells, and damaged components inside the cells but also activates stem cells. Participants who adopted an a FMD for 5 days/month over a period of 3 months showed remarkable health benefits.
Made for People: Why We Drift into Loneliness and How to Fight for a Life of Friendship
You can be lonely with God. We were made by God for more than God. Isolation is both the cause and the consequence of our sin. Vulnerability, honesty, covenant, forgiveness, and invitation embody the arts of friendship. Together we are the communal dwelling place of God. Friendship makes ordinary life seem sacred. The power to name is the power to create reality. If vulnerability and honesty are not practiced regularly, then you are not in a friendship but a companionship. As image bearers, we are called to use our creative power of words to build redemptive realities. Time is the currency of purpose.
Man Who Knew: The Life and Times of Alan Greenspan
[Alan's biography traces the rise of the Fed 's now massive role in the economy] Stock prices were not a forecast but rather a crucial determinant of economic activity. The price of capital was coming to be recognized as the central price in a capitalist system. The Fed’s key error in 1929 was to underestimate its own contribution to the stock bubble. Business has no power to compel obedience and relies instead on customers who freely choose whom to buy from. Americans have almost never been able to resist bailouts and continued to look to the government for rescues whenever crises struck. During the ‘70s a bubble had been built on debt and a reversal would impose a long period of weak growth in the economy. It grew obvious that government safety nets where there to stay—financiers would not pay for their error. The problem of too big to fail in banking was eclipsed by the reverse danger: American banks were too small to compete. He was not necessarily the best crisis manager at the Fed, but he was undoubtedly its best politician. He understood that getting financial regulation right was virtually impossible.
Mansions of the Heart
Souls and prayer require an equivalent demand on our attention as do Scripture and truth. The real goal is a Love Relationship with God. It is the primary and foundational goal of spiritual growth. Holiness is the product of a loving relationship with God. If we begin to look for Jesus in the lows as well as the highs, we begin to see life as an adventure. We develop a constant inner joy in all we do, a joy that transcends our emotions. We experience a complete integration of worship and work.
Mastering the Rockefeller Habits
The fundamentals of creating a great business are the same for parenting great kids: a few rules, repeat yourself a lot, and act consistently with those rules. When alignment happens, the company thrives. The ultimate goal of structures and systems is predictability. Start a tradition of corporate story-telling. Training and development increase loyalty and operational excellence. Massive amounts do both well.
Maverick: a biography of Thomas Sowell
Retracing the footsteps of giants not only makes us witnesses to the intellectual clashes of the past, it adds depth to our understanding of the ideas that resulted from it and are still with us today. The most basic question is not what is best but who decides what is best. The first rule of economics is scarcity—and the first rule of politics is to ignore the first rule of economics. Families are best positioned to socialize the next generation. “Having been forced by birth to be on the receiving end of discrimination for many years, I cannot find the cleverness to justify it now, either to others or to myself.” The biological continuity of the generations lends plausibility to the notion of group compensation—but only if guilt can be inherited. The contemporary socioeconomic position of groups in a given society often bears no relationship to wrongs they have suffered. Data show that the existence of racism is an insufficient explanation of social inequality. Government has a role to play in social mobility, albeit a limited one, and incentives matter. It is not the recognition of a racial identity but its prioritization that is the problem. An adversarial, victim-focused identity that preoccupies us with white racism confuses racial unity with initiative--to rely on unity to do what only individual initiative can do.
Maxims for Thinking Analytically
Tacit knowledge is what we know but cannot say. Wisdom is defined by how one copes with uncertainty. Thoughtful long division provides simple and comparable metrics. Think about the margin, not the average. Positive cross-partials are the reason people congregate in urban areas.
Meeting of the Waters
Spreading values through commerce happens naturally--one reason why Business As Mission is so powerful. We must never equate economic or political weakness with spiritual frailty. Power is the enemy of Mutuality and often an enemy of Jesus Christ. Those most endowed with character and conviction are often ones who lack material wealth.
Start with creation, not with Christ. It’s about discovering and obeying, not teaching and knowledge. Disciple people to conversion not vice versa. Coach lost people from the beginning to discover and obey biblical truth. Discovery Bible Studies begin with creation and work their way through Scripture. Pray for Muslims with love, because they don’t understand what they do. One of the most serious problems in Islam is Mohammed’s own dying confession that even he didn’t know what would happen to him after death. Making disciples is a group process. Groups remember more than individuals. They learn faster than individuals, require less repetition, and group repetition becomes individual memory. Groups replicate faster than individuals and more often. We have to avoid falling into the role of explaining Scripture. If we do, we become the authority rather than allowing Scripture to be the authority. From 50 to 70% of the new churches in the most violent and extreme Muslim areas happened in part because of signs and wonder.
Private military actors worsen security in a free market such as Somalia but increase it in a mediated market such as Liberia and, under the right market circumstance, could even prove a powerful tool for the UN and others. Private military force, a timeless phenomenon, is back after a 400 year hiatus and is not likely to go away. The US penchant to lean on the private sector in war has produced the modern mercenary. The US has introduced 2 significant innovations to realize “humane” warfare: armed unmanned drones and a private military industry to do the dying for America. No one even tallies the numbers of dead contractors. The Army’s total cost of operating an infantry unit in Iraq was $110M, while hiring the same size unit from Blackwater to perform the same tasks was $99M. In peacetime, the cost differential jumps even more. The cost of maintaining an army infantry unit at home is $60M, whereas the cost of Blackwater is $0. “Moral hazard” is any situation in which one person makes the decision about risk, while someone else bears the cost if things go badly. In 2002 the US declared that it was “now threatened less by conquering states than by failing ones.” Neomedievalism: a non-state-centric, multipolar international system of overlapping authorities and allegiances within the same territory. International organizations now assert their own authority alongside states within the same territory, producing the conditions of neomedievalism. The IS vision of the future does not entail UN membership but rather a stateless caliphate and society based on their particular vision of Islam. Today about 1B people live in a failing or fragile state. When Westphalian militaries engage neomedieval foes, they often win every military engagement yet lose the war, because military success does not equal political victory. They achieve tactical results but fail in strategic objectives. In the era of colonialism strong European states conquered much of the world. Now the opposite is true. Strong states cringe at becoming entangled with weak states. Many of the specialized skills needed for stability operations can now only be found in the private sector and are considered proprietary knowledge. By outsourcing victory and defeat, the US is increasingly becoming vulnerable to the ebb and flow of contract warfare.
More from Less
[This book offers the best explanation I’ve seen for the recently observed US sustained economic health and low inflation relative to other countries’ economies that are less free, with weaker institutions.] I call tech progress, capitalism, public awareness, and responsive government the “4 horsemen of the optimist.” When there is more capitalism, there is more prosperity. Economic growth in America and other rich countries has decoupled from resource consumption. Institutions are the “rules of the game” for a society. What we’re doing is working and therefore we should keep doing it. Some of us are certain that fairness means equality while others are adamant that it means proportionality. Talent is equally distributed; opportunity is not.
More Guns Less Crime
Allowing citizens to carry concealed handguns reduces violent crimes, and the reductions coincide closely with the number of concealed-handgun permits issues. Of all methods studied by economists, the carrying of concealed handguns appears to be the most cost-effective method for reducing crime. By 2007, stories of people who had used guns to defend themselves had helped motivate 39 states to adopt nondiscretionary concealed-handgun laws. After Florida’s 1987 law, the size of murder rate drop corresponded with the number of concealed-handgun permits outstanding. Women and blacks both tend to be the strongest supporters of gun control, yet obtain the largest benefits from nondiscretionary concealed-handgun laws. Violent crime rates were rising consistently before the right-to-carry laws and falling thereafter. Gun elimination strengthens criminals relative to physically weak victims. Between 1977 and 1996 29 states changed their laws. The benefits from these laws increase over time as more people obtain permits.]
Multipliers: How the best leaders make everyone smarter
Some leaders seem to drain intelligence and capability out of the people around them, while others apply their intelligence to amplify others’ smarts and capability. Not only can you become a Multiplier yourself, you can find and create other Multipliers. Finding people’s genius begins by carefully observing them in action, looking for spikes of authentic enthusiasm and a natural flow of energy. Consistency creates predictability. Multipliers get more than 100% of people’s capability because they grow under the watch of a Multiplier. When the scoreboard is visible, people hold themselves accountable. Adopt the assumptions of a Multiplier and allow the behavior practices to naturally follow.
Myth of Equality
Racism in the US is worse than we thought and our responsibility is greater than we’ve been taught. The creation of a white standard in the world during the age of exploration and the white structural privilege prevailed for so long in America that it led to “white privilege.” It doesn’t mean your life isn’t hard—just that if you are a person of color your life might be harder. The word race can be traced only to the 16th century. Vagrancy laws lasted for over 60 years through 1927 across the South, enslaving hundreds of thousands of African Americans. The white American “creation story" is positive and exciting. The black American creation story is rooted in tragedy, kidnapping, enslavement, theft, coercion, rape, murder, genocide, inequality, exclusion, terrorism, and oppression in this country. Many things can only be seen through eyes that have cried. The greatest wounds and injustices in human history have happened through the institutions, systems, philosophies, cultures, religions, and governments of mankind.