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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.]

The controversy over empire is about the present, not the past. On 1 August 1834 slaves throughout the British Empire were formally emancipated. Britain’s effort to suppress the Atlantic slave trade (alone) in 1807–67 was ‘the most expensive example of costly international moral action recorded in modern history’. The British were so thin on the ground that their rule was only sustainable by persuading native peoples to cooperate or at least acquiesce. Native leaders actively lobbied missionaries to set up schools that would teach their children agricultural skills, English language and Christian religion. The shock of losing the American War of Independence in 1783 impressed upon London the need to grant colonial governments, with their superior knowledge of local conditions, considerable freedom of maneuver. The essence of democracy is competition for power and influence by persons and groups who respect each other’s equal right to compete. The very concept of a right implies a moral fixity that does not exist apart from conventional law. Justice varies according to circumstances. Even if there was an injustice done in the past, reversing it may not achieve justice in the present. We should focus on addressing present injustices rather than trying to untangle historic injustices. Compensation is required for present harm caused by past wrongdoing, not simply for current disadvantage however caused.

Download this file (Colonialism  A Moral Reckoning.pdf)Colonialism: A Moral Reckoning238 kB

Business can drive both profits and wider mutual benefits to people and the planet through understanding and managing multiple forms of capital--human, social, natural, and shared financial capital. In business you only manage what you measure. Entrepreneurial freedom is a key reasons why a program has comparatively little attrition compared to other social types of businesses that exert more control over the route-to-market. It is now possible—for the first time—to define and measure “new” types of nonfinancial capital: specifically, human, social, and natural. The model delivers more value with less investment and overhead than is typical in more orthodox businesses. A mutuality-based business can outperform a profit maximization business.

Thomas [Sowell described this as his most important work.] A vision is our sense of how the world works--of causation. Language is the epitome of an evolved complex order without deliberate design by any individual or council. Changing historically evolved principles on the basis of "social science" theories or studies has become the hallmark of modem social thinkers with an unconstrained vision. Nations may grow and evolve but cannot be built. The key criteria for distinguishing constrained and unconstrained visions are the locus and mode of discretion. Like freedom and justice, equality is a process characteristic in the constrained vision and a result characteristic in the unconstrained vision. The disagreement between them is over what is to be equalized. Wherever the free market has been permitted to operate, the ordinary man has been able to attain levels of living never dreamed of before. Ignorance and inequality go hand in hand. The moral justification of the market process rests on the general prosperity and freedom it produces. In the constrained vision, each new generation born is an invasion of civilization by little barbarians, who must be civilized before it is too late. It is to the evolved systemic processes--traditions, values, families, markets, for example--that those with the constrained vision look for the preservation and advancement of human life. In modem market economies the rich usually owe their prosperity to activities which have widened the choices of their fellow men, including those of the poor. Justice derived its importance from the need to preserve society--not society its raison d'etre from the need to produce justice. The concept of social justice thus represents the extremes of the conflict of visions. Each vision has assumed away the primary concern of the other--whether process characteristics or goal characteristics is more important. The greatest danger of the concept of social justice that it undermines and destroys the concept of a rule of law.

Download this file (Conflict of Visions.pdf)Conflict of VIsions203 kB

[Hayek was the economist guru of Reagan and Thatcher’s economic policy.] Liberty is not merely one particular value but the source and condition of most moral values. Most advantages of social lives rest on the fact that each individual benefits from more knowledge than he is aware of and profits from knowledge he does not himself possess. The forms of conduct which we follow without knowing why are called “traditions” and “institutions.” The benefits I derive from freedom are largely the result of the uses of freedom by others. Freedom of action is as important as freedom of thought. The rapid economic advance we have come to expect results from equality and is impossible without it. Even the poorest today owe their relative material well-being to the results of past inequality. There is nothing more arduous than the apprenticeship of liberty. The argument for liberty applies only to those who can be held responsible. Democracy is a process of forming opinion. Advance consists in the few convincing the many. The first maxim of a free state is that the laws be made by one set of men and administered by another. It is the cases that never come before the courts that are the measure of the certainty of the law. The kind of state that aims at “social justice” becomes primarily a redistributor of income. No system of monopolistic compulsory insurance has resisted this transformation--a majority of takers who decide what they will take from a wealthier minority.

Download this file (Constitution of Liberty.pdf)Constitution of Liberty280 kB

Grace is everywhere. The task is to become aware of what God is doing so that I can respond. Joy is the capacity to hear and recognize that God is here. Leisure is a quality of spirit, not a quantity of time. Grace operating in a person keeps him in touch with the living God. Any job done well requires everything that is in us. After my sabbatical, the experience of my maturity is now coupled with the energy of my youth. Use words with reverence.

Download this file (Contemplative Pastor2.pdf)Contemplative Pastor171 kB

Under Coolidge, the federal debt fell, the top income tax rate came down by half to 35%, the federal budget was always in surplus, and unemployment dropped under 3%. He treated economic weakness by raising interest rates 300%, cutting tax rates, and halving the federal government. The New Englander’s winters revealed the terrifying price of not living within one’s means. It is difficult for men in high office to avoid the malady of self-delusion. They are always surrounded by worshipers. In 1923 about ¾ of federal costs had to do with war in one way or another.

Download this file (Coolidge2.pdf)Coolidge147 kB

The stronger the emotion, the more clearly an experience is learned. Most people really don’t know why they do the things they do. You never get a second chance to have a first impression. Though we are the richest country in the world, at the reptilian level we consider ourselves poor. There is a significant difference, in the American mind, between shopping and buying.

Download this file (Culture Code2.pdf)Culture Code 2194 kB

Build Safety. Share Vulnerability. Establish Purpose. Safety is the foundation on which strong culture is built. We are built to require lots of signaling. This is why a sense of belonging is easy to destroy and hard to build. When an idea becomes part of a language, it becomes the default thinking. Deciding who’s in and who’s out is the most powerful signal any group sends. Laughter is the most fundamental sign of safety and connection. Food is part of our core business. The most important moments in conversation happen when one person is actively, intently listening. Stories are the best invention for delivering mental models that drive behavior. One of the best measures of any group’s culture is its learning velocity—how quickly it improves its performance of a new skill. We are all paid to solve problems. Pick fun people to solve problems with.

This book develops the theme of how culture contributed to the modern economy. It supports the notion of a useful balance between the positive energy from competing laboratories of national governments on one hand and the economies of scale of globalism on the other--along with its repressive effect of uniformity and conformance.

The drivers of technological progress and eventually economic performance are attitude and aptitude. It is a hallmark of open and culturally dynamic societies that all authorities are contestable and subject to continuous critique and scrutiny. The proliferation of successful entrepreneurs is a telltale sign of well-functioning markets. Aristotle’s lasting insight was that knowledge was a collective activity, a social phenomenon, to be organized and distributed. The ubiquity of the printing press made a mockery out of the prohibitions  of books. In Europe, over the long term, the innovators defeated conservatism. This did not happen anywhere else. What emerged in medieval Europe, is that political fragmentation coupled with intellectual and cultural unity. This unique combination of political fragmentation with the pan-European institution of the Republic of Letters holds the key to the dramatic intellectual changes after 1500. The “invention of the merit yardstick” as a measure of intellectual worth was a radical innovation. What was new was a scientific community that recognized the experimental method and the replication of experimental results as a powerful means of persuasion. Our modern scientific utilitarianism is the offspring of Bacon and Puritanism. The idea of progress proved consonant with Western Christianity in ways that eluded Islam and Judaism. Many societies we associate with technological stasis were full of highly skilled artisans, not least of all Southern and Eastern Asia. The technological revolutions that brought the world economic growth and prosperity were not the result of either artisanal ingenuity or scientific method and discovery, but the confluence of the 2. The timing suggests that the causality ran primarily from cultural change to the growth of useful knowledge, and not the reverse. The Enlightenment invented the concept of data. The dynamics of competition in a market economy are such that in the long run, the few drag along the many. Why did the Chinese society in the 8th century A.D. favor science as compared with Western society, and that of the 18th century A.D. inhibit it? Only when Europe began to apply systematic research in propositional knowledge to production did the balance tilt in its direction. The Chinese experience illustrates the fact that a competitive and open market for ideas was not the only road to progress in useful knowledge, it was just the most sustainable and effective one. Most Chinese thinkers thought that the past was better than the present. The historical irony is that prosperity as it was experienced after 1750 required creative destruction, the very opposite of social and economic stability. The divergence between Europe and China caused the bases of technology to become eventually ever wider. Some techniques— most famously in shipbuilding and clock making— seem to have fallen into disuse and disappeared in China. In only one case did an accumulation of knowledge become sustained and self-propelling to the point of becoming explosive and changing the material basis of human existence more thoroughly and more rapidly than anything before in the history of humans on this planet. That one instance occurred in Western Europe during and after the Industrial Revolution--a community that combines pluralism and competition with a coordination mechanism that allows knowledge to be distributed and shared, and hence challenged, corrected, and supplemented.

Download this file (Culture of Growth2.pdf)Culture of Growth229 kB

Life flows through honor. The disheartening cycle of great outpourings that gradually return to 'business as usual' shows a lack of understanding of the 5-fold ministry. A dualistic worldview separates knowledge from experience. Prosperity comes through our agreements with Heaven’s culture. We are confined to our earthly limitations when our senior leaders are teachers, pastors, administrators, and evangelists have not been hooked up to the flow of anointing and revelation in an apostolic government. Free will made evil possible. Free people are difficult to lead. We must establish both an environment for others to gain freedom and a government for them to keep it. We are spiritual conductors and create an atmosphere, a reality, a spirit around us. There is an order for leadership that sustains the flow of heavenly reality, of grace. The skill of combining honor and confrontation is key to sustaining an environment of grace. Gentleness does not mean nice or polite. It means belief that “I do not need to control you.” Power is given to the one who made the mess.  No one will be able to clean up a mess you have made as well as you can. A confrontation is an examination. “Workers of miracles” is another description for the role of the evangelist in an apostolic government.  

Download this file (Culture of Honor3.pdf)Culture of Honor227 kB

Over recent generations Democrats tend to emphasize social responsibility (liberal) and Republicans individual responsibility (conservative). Clinton won in urban areas and Trump in more rural areas. An aging population will become more conservative. As the US becomes more urban, we will also value more social responsibility, a liberal impulse. Mark Earley cautioned against making sin a crime. We all sin, but which of those warrants the destruction that comes from a criminal brand?

Download this file (Currents in American Politics.pdf)Currents in American Politics695 kB

Goliath had as much chance against David as any Bronze Age warrior with a sword would have had against an opponent armed with a .45 automatic pistol. More money stops making people happier at a family income of around $75K a year. Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in 3 generations. The limits a parent sets are not nearly as clear as “We can’t afford it.” We are so often confused about advantages and disadvantages that we forget when we are operating in a U-shaped world. Smaller class size is usually considered better for all until it drops below 18. Taken too far, class-size reduction steals away the peers that struggling students learn from. Average country income levels do not matter to happiness, but relative distances from the average do. Your academic self-concept in the context of your classroom shapes your willingness to tackle challenges and finish difficult tasks. It’s a crucial element in your motivation and confidence. Getting great grades at a good school may be better than good grades at a great school. What matters in determining the likelihood of getting a science degrees, is not just how smart you are. It’s how smart you feel relative to the other people in your classroom. The very thing that makes elite schools such wonderful places for those at the top makes them very difficult places for everyone else. The prediction we make about how we are going to feel in some future situation is called “affective forecasting,” and all the evidence suggests that we are terrible forecasters. Power has to be seen as legitimate. Legitimacy is based on fairness, voice, and predictability, and the US government does a pretty good job of meeting all 3 standards.

Download this file (David and Goliath.pdf)David and Goliath155 kB

When God destines a saint for extraordinary influence in the body of Christ, He prepares him through the rejection of people. It is to these sensitized shepherds that God can entrust greater influence.  The only acceptance that Jesus allowed to feed His spirit was the acceptance of the Father. If man’s acceptance will build you up, man’s rejection will devastate you. Jesus was not touched by the praise of man, so He was not wounded by the rejection of man. He was untouched by rejection because He was untouched by acceptance. Praise is food for God, poison for man. You’re never more like the devil than when you want credit for what you do. He is preparing leaders who are safe company for the bride of Christ—leaders who don’t desire the bride’s affections, praise and attention.

Revival always begins, not with the conversion of the godless, but the reanimation of the people of God. Over 85 in every 100 people professing conversion to Christ in Finney’s meetings remained true to God. There were few evangelists in those days, partly owing to the prevalence of Old School Calvinism. They believed that God would save His own elect in His own way and time without the urgent appeals of evangelists. The labors of Wesley and the great evangelists, Finney and Moody, did much to overthrow this fatalistic belief. Muller and his wife told their needs to no one but the Lord. Through faith in the Lord alone Mr. Muller had obtained and disbursed a sum of £1,500,000 at the time of his death.

As the brain informs the body, the mind informs the soul. It is the mind that needs to be addressed if the soul is to be saved. Truth is stranger than fiction because we make fiction to suit ourselves. Shame is to the moral health of a society what pain is to the body. Actions can be premeditated and designed to deceive, but reactions come from the overflow of the heart and are impulsive. It is ultimately truth, not popularity or rights, that determines destiny. The charge of hypocrisy is the unintended compliment that vice pays to virtue. The science and art of critical thinking have been humiliated in a generation that thinks with its eyes. Ideas have an expiration date for thrills; only the glory of a person (a relationship) is inexhaustible. In God’s economy there is an egalitarianism in people but an elitism in ideas. Postmodernism has unwittingly awakened society to the realization that truth, morality, and meaning are connected. Consequently, many are aroused from their stupor. Truth by definition is exclusive.

Download this file (Deliver Us from Evil.pdf)Deliver Us from Evil.pdf180 kB