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.]
Alexis de Tocqueville came [from France] to America to learn how a fledgling nation, barely 50 years old, could already be competing with them on virtually every level. This was impossible. He was going to sort it out. We do not have to yield to pop culture, Hollywood, politicians, or the media who are enforcing political correctness. We need to simply ignore the “barking” and act like mature adults who can tolerate hearing something about which we disagree and still remain civil and open-minded. Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has. Bullying by the British was a major impetus for the resistance movement that resulted in our ultimate independence and the establishment of our Constitution. When the vision of the US government included guarding the rights of people but staying out of their way, America was an economic engine more powerful than anything the world had ever seen.
Other People's Money
[This is the best explanation I’ve found of what happened in 2008 and the culture that remains.] The functions of payments are the services that finance provides. Much of the growth of the financial sector in the last 3 decades is the consequence of the growth of derivative markets. Key insights were discarded as financialization exalted the role of traders and the overseers of the financial world assured each other that activities which in reality represented irresponsible gambling constituted a new era of sophisticated risk management. The immediate mistake was to believe that the risk transfer represented insurance rather than wagering. Investors look at economic fundamentals; traders look at each other; quants’ look at the data. [GIN looks at all 3]. Modern financial conglomerates are not so much engines generating large profits as institutions that suck up public subsidy. Expansion of the trade in securities grew, not the capital supporting it. The modern investment bank has retreated from search into trading with other people’s money for the benefit of its senior employees. The objective should be to address issues of structure and incentives rather than to intensify supervision and control. Society can shift consumption from one generation to another only by investing in, or running down, the physical assets of the nation. A linear financial system is one in which intermediaries deal with end-users, rather than each other, and are familiar with the needs of borrowers and/or lenders. The belief that the profitability of an activity is a measure of its social legitimacy has not only taken root in the financial sector but has spread its poison throughout the business world.
The effect of generations of Rapture eschatology seems to be that many Christians are characterized by despair, defeat, retreat, and doomed to failure. The eschatological issue centers on the fundamental point: Will the gospel succeed in its mission, or not? It was the utter confidence in the victory of the Christian faith that gave courage to the early missionaries, who fearlessly strode into the farthest reaches of pagan Europe. Capitalism—the free market—is a product of Biblical laws. All these things will come upon this generation (Mt 23-29-36). The generation that crucified the Lord and persecuted His apostles was the “terminal generation.” The Great Tribulation ended with the destruction of the Temple in AD 70 (Lk 21:5, 6). The disciples understood the significance of this, that it would signal the end of the age. The period spoken of as the last days, last time, or last hour is the period between Christ’s birth and the destruction of Jerusalem. Progressively, He is now engaged in conquering the nations by the gospel. Finally, the Day will come when Christ’s actual conquest of the world is complete. John stated that his book was intended for the seven churches which are in Asia (1:4). We Postmillennialists say that the Millennium refers to the period between the first and Second Advents of Christ: The Millennium is going on now, with Christians reigning as kings on earth. Jesus is reigning now and He will remain in heaven until the Last Judgment. Our rule is going on now, on the earth, and the extent of our rule coincides with the progress of the gospel. The New Jerusalem is a present reality; it is said to be coming down from heaven because the origin of the Church is heavenly. Jesus prayed that we would not be “raptured.” My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one (Jn 17:15).
Cycles of revival and backsliding will continue until all 5 of the Eph 4 gifts are restored to the church. APEST (apostle, prophet, evangelist, shepherd, teacher) is the primary algorithm of the ministry of ecclesia. Without apostolic gifting present, it would be like having to run government with no executive powers. Ephesians 4 is not primarily a leadership text but rather a ministry text. Calling and ministry are different from leadership only by matter of degree and capacity. While the existence of conflict and opposition threatens a group’s life, the absence of the same forces is also a serious threat.]
Power of Habit
“Understanding habits is the most important thing I’ve learned in the army.” Craving drives the habit loop. Habits emerge because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort. The brain will try to make almost any routine into a habit. To change a habit, you must keep the old cue and deliver the old reward but insert a new routine. A habit cannot be eradicated—it must be replaced. “Keystone habits” shift, dislodge and remake other patterns. Small wins have enormous power. Exercise is a keystone habit that triggers widespread change. Families who habitually eat dinner together seem to raise children with better homework skills. Self-discipline has a bigger effect on academic performance than does intellectual talent. Willpower isn’t just a skill. It’s a muscle and it gets tired as it works harder, the mind of the pupil must be prepared in its habits if it is to enjoy and dislike the right things. Your habits are what you choose them to be.
Praying the Bible: The Book of Prayers
They used their mouths to lasso their minds to affect their spirits. Praying the theophanies keeps us from praying to an extension of our own minds. The Passion Translation is a “dynamic equivalent” of the Hebrew. The prophets seem to be not only allowed but also required by God to enter into the fellowship of His sufferings. Jesus has given us the same glory that the Father gave Him.
Prediction is the basis for human intelligence. Prediction accuracy enables machines to perform tasks once associated with human intelligence. Humans discriminate more than machines.]
I will only ever prophesy according to what I have faith for. Prospering came back to Israel because of prophecy! When a nation is in turmoil, God always calls for the prophetic voice. Apart from God we are the only beings in the cosmos with authority. He exempts Himself from the day-to-day governance of the earth. We are to be so transformed that we create a Kingdom of God culture that the world can become. It is our job to make our land look like Heaven. You’ve got the whole world in your hands. Satan is terrified of your rank because you outrank even his strongest demon. We must find a place in our will where we choose to prophesy. What are You praying for me, Jesus?” Most intense battles that happen in or around our life start when we enter new territory.
Alleviating poverty is not the same as creating prosperity. Investing in market-creating innovations has proven a reliable path to prosperity for countries around the world. Good theory helps us understand the underlying mechanism driving things and dispenses advice in “if/then” statements. 4 barriers prevent people from consuming a solution that will help them progress: skill, wealth, access, and time. A market-creating innovation isn’t simply a product or a service—it is the entire solution. Institutions are about culture—how people in a region solve problems and make progress. The institutions of a society reflect its values rather than create them. Every time people tackle a problem, they aren’t just solving the problem itself; they are creating or dismantling culture. Procedures are exclusively instruments of economy. Development often precedes successful anticorruption programs, not vice versa. Infrastructures are only worth the value they distribute to citi-zens. Innovation is the process by which society fixes itself. Asking good questions is one of the most important traits of leadership. Investing in market-creating innovations provides the solution to the Prosperity Paradox.
The personal economy is the organizing principle for innovation and growth. Our employment systems often incentivise behaviors detrimental to our strategic vision. Your approach to work will most likely be inherited by your children. By infusing purpose into your work, you not only improve your own well-being, but also that of your children. Big, sticky, complicated problems are your most powerful opportunities. Gratitude is the common ingredient in Google’s successful employees. Amazon screens job candidates online for their sense of gratitude and finds it more effective than traditional interviews. Change the job you’re in to better meet your needs. Most people take a job for the organization and leave because of their manager. The top 3 things employees want is appreciation, feeling “in” on things, and an understanding attitude. Purpose is becoming the currency of individual and business success in the 21st century.
[This book explains the causes of and solutions to migration and growing wealth inequality in the clearest terms I have found--as matters of economics.] The same concentrated control of wealth that breeds inequality seems to corrupt politics and restrain business initiative. Inequality across countries has gone from a relatively insignificant phenomenon in the 1820s to the dominant source of global inequality today. Despite large migrant populations—in all cases, involving mostly low-skilled migrant workers—none of the countries (UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Australia and New Zealand) has experienced as large a popular backlash against migration as OECD countries with their far fewer migrants. Migration receives political support as long as its benefits are widely distributed in a visible way. When migrants have the option, most prefer temporary migration for work in circular patterns over permanent migration.
Institutional investors now behave as trusts did a century ago, but in subtler ways. Competition would focus on the quality of governance that they provide to maximize returns. Siren servers (Google, Facebook, etc.) thrive on appropriating for themselves--rather than its creators--the value that creative content generates. Data are more like capital than labor. Data labor will represent a much greater source of income and wealth in coming years than at present, and much of the market capitalization of digital companies is based on this possibility.
Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World
Whether or not experience led to expertise, depended entirely on the domain in question. The increase in correct IQ test answers with each new generation in the 20th century has been documented in 30 countries. Teaching kids to read a little early is not a lasting advantage. Exploration is not just a whimsical luxury of education; it is a central benefit. “Winners” quit fast and often. Knowing when to quit is a big strategic advantage. We are works in progress claiming to be finished. Instead of working back from a goal, work forward from promising situations. As ambiguity and uncertainty increase, breadth becomes increasingly important.
Reconciling All Things
The definition of justice is not self-evident. If it is to make sense or lead to a transformed vision of human relations, it requires a story. In the absence of a clear vision, reconciliation has largely become a matter of relief, mediation, advocacy and conflict resolution, the exclusive terrain of “experts.” The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts; it is beyond our vision. Without being well articulated, the vision can’t be sustained. The work of God’s reconciliation includes taking time to cultivate habits of ordinary peaceful existence—habits like listening, welcoming strangers, planting gardens, raising children and keeping house (Jer 29:5-7). Our original sin is the attempt to secure for ourselves what can be received only as a gift. Prior to the genocide, Rwanda was considered one of the best-evangelized countries in Africa--the killing happened amid explosive church growth. The church was clearly part of the story of brokenness. God draws very near to the most vulnerable—not because they’re any less sinful, but because they are the most sinned against. To learn to lament is to become people who stay near to the wounds of the world. Hope in our world is often confused with optimism and success. This is why we must learn to lament before turning to hope. Reconciliation without lament cheapens hope. The unique gift of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission is not that it unveiled the truth about historic injustices, but that it did so within an atmosphere of mercy and forgiveness. Over time, as leaders are present to the gap, their response grows and becomes more visible, public and pronounced.
Red Moon Rising: The Story of 24-7 Prayer
God’s heavenly logo for the days in which we live is the harvest moon, rising blood red. It’s more important to know whom you are called to be with than what you are called to do. I want to be different before I do anything different. Prayer itself is an art only the Holy Spirit can teach. Reading the Scripture is like putting food into our mouths: meditation chews it and prayer extracts its flavor. Prayer reverses the Fall, in which Adam asserted his independence. What if the call to pray is a call to bleed as well as to receive blessing? Whenever God sets about to do a new thing, he always sets his people praying. Hospitality begins by seeking to host the presence of God and continues with hosting visitors.
This is the most helpful view of the controversial LGBT issue I have come across.