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.]
Currents in American Politics
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?
David and Goliath
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.
Deliver Us from Evil
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.
Demographics, Inflation, Etc
Aging populations are associated with lower levels of inflation. The drop in fertility rates in wealthy countries for the last several decades has been a powerful depressant on inflation and interest rates. The aging population in the rich world is testament to the best birth control device in the world--money. Urban areas receiving the most immigration are among the best positioned for success in the generations that follow, i.e. Geneva, London, New York, Hong Kong, Singapore. All of this brightens the outlook for the global economic future, while clouding it for social harmony.
Destined to Win
It’s only when we find our people that we can fulfill our purpose. Two lies keep Westerners from experiencing the love of God. The first, “If we can explain God’s love, then we understand it. And if we understand it, we have experienced it.” The 2nd is worse. It says, “We can’t experience something until we understand it.” The enemy of connection is shame--but the cure for shame is vulnerability. It’s only when we find our people that we can fulfill our purposes. Our purposes lie in our people. If the truth sets us free, then lies imprison us. Love is experienced and yet not explained (Eph 3:19). The enemy of connection is shame--but the cure for shame is vulnerability. Expectation is the fruit of faith.
Idolatry is commonly described as the objectifying of the human will and worshiping it in place of God. Our culture refuses to take suffering or personal sacrifice seriously. If you do not transform your pain, you will always transmit it. Real intimacy requires giving ourselves faithfully and permanently to another person in vulnerable trust. Many people found themselves trapped in a cycle that they seemed unable to understand or break out of. The fallacy at the heart of the modern world is the conviction that we are free to do whatever we want. What we do with things, we inevitable do with people. Digital matchmaking looks set to become the most important theme shaping modern relationships. Our one-sidedness as either male or female creates a homing instinct that calls us beyond ourselves, to seek relationship with God and others.
Doesn't Hurt to Ask
Asking questions is the subtlest and most effective way to persuade. Questions have been the way I persuaded others for as long as I can remember because they have been the way I persuaded myself for as long as I can remember. The most persuasive are the persuadable. Debating is for the best talker. Persuasion is for the better listener. We must be willing to do what we are asking others to do, which is to be persuadable. The person we should begin to persuade first is ourselves.
Don't Waste the Pain
Ian was the 13 year-old son of my sister Renee and her husband David Lyons who died of cancer. David’s sister, Linda, lived with cancer for the last 10 years of her life. David combined his and LInda's journals and journeys to co-write this book published by NavPress with foreword by Larry Crabb. Many of you may have also heard about my recent diagnosis with stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and beginning of chemo treatment on September 10, 2010. This book was published and given to me by David the day before I began the chemo. It feels like God’s hand-written letter of love written to me. I’ve included some excerpts that were particularly meaningfu (Wendell Globig).
To truly understand the human condition we have account for intrinsic reward and motivation. For too long, there’s been a mismatch between what science knows and what business does. Open source depends on intrinsic motivation with the same ferocity that older business models rely on extrinsic motivation. Economics isn’t the study of money; it’s the study of behavior. If you need me to motivate you, I probably don’t want to hire you. Carrots and sticks achieve precisely the opposite of their intended aims. When institutions focus on the short-term and opt for controlling people’s behavior, they do considerable long-term damage. This is one of the most robust findings in social science—and also one of the most ignored. Rewards, by their nature, narrow our focus. Management hasn’t changed much in more than a 100 years. The course of human history has always moved in the direction of greater freedom. Motivation is the oxygen of the soul. Children seek out flow with the inevitability of a natural law. So should we all.
Effortless: Make it easier to do what matters most
Habits explain “what” you do--rituals are about “how” you do it. Our rituals are habits with a soul. Gratitude is a powerful catalytic. First principles are the building blocks of knowledge: once you understand them you can apply them hundreds of times. Reading a book is among the most high-leverage activities on earth. Messages should be not just easy to understand but hard to misunderstand. Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations we can perform without thinking about them.
Absence of revelation will produce absence of faith. Church produces one thing. Ekklesia produces another. Ekklesia has to do with many things, but perhaps most of all, authority in prayer. The ekklesia was not just an assembly (church), it was a ruling assembly. If all we want is church, we’ve got it. But if Jesus wants an ekklesia, we don’t. Our passivity is actually rebellion, for it undermines His government. Ekklesia must be a community of prayer in holiness and love or it cannot be an ekklesia, 2 or 3 who live holy, love well, and by virtue of their forgiving and praying together, binding and loosing. Authority is invested in groups as small as 2 or 3. Once a revelation is crafted to the point of enactment, vote on it in prayer.]
Musk has somehow delivered the biggest advance the space, automotive, and energy industries had seen in decades in industries larded by regulation and bureaucracy, which favor incumbents. Each one of his businesses is interconnected both in the short and the long term. What Musk had done was turn Tesla into a lifestyle.
The Church is the joy that was set before Him. No man or system has been ordained of God to control the free will and conscience of another. The early Church went into its Dark Ages because men became more interested in doctrine than experience. It is one of the ironies of Church history that the persecuted participants of the former restorational movement became the primary persecutors of the next restored truth. The Great Restoration has continuing restoration movements until the Church comes unto the full stature of Christ in character, power, and purpose. Apostles were the first to be established and the last to be fully restored. Each period of restoration has taken a group of scriptures that religious men had placed in the mythical allegorical, spiritual, and futuristic realm and made them a workable reality in the life of man. What they interpreted to be the literal coming of the Lord turned out to be a restorational movement of the Holy Spirit to restore another truth in the Church. As the ministry of the apostle and prophet founded the Church, so shall the ministry of the apostle and prophet put the finishing touches on the Church. The 5-fold ministry of the apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher must function until the Church reaches the unity of the faith. If Jesus has not returned, then that means there is more restoration that must take place. Members of the Body of Christ will then fill all those positions vacated by Satan’s angelic and demonic host, just as the children of Israel filled all the places vacated by the vanquished “ites” of Canaan Land.
Everybody Lies - Big Data
People’s search for information is, in itself, information. Google searches are the most important dataset ever collected on the human psyche. A major reason that Google searches are so valuable is that people are so honest in them. New types of data and honest data are the first 2 powers of Big Data. Allowing us to do many causal experiments is the 4th power of Big Data. Don’t trust what people tell you; trust what they do. The algorithms know you better than you know yourself. Growing up near big ideas is better than growing up with a big backyard. Bid Data makes randomized experiments, which can find truly causal effects, much easier to conduct. While going to a good school is important, there is little gained from going to the greatest possible school. Social science is becoming a real science which is poised to improve our lives.
Everything that Remains
Our memories are not in our things--they are in us. Literary texts are the only creations that impart an exchange of consciousness between author and audience. Passion is a mixture of love and obsession. My priorities are what I do each day. The real value was in the words—in the act of reading. You can’t change the people around you, but you can change the people around you. The best way to give yourself a raise is to spend less money. You can skip the pursuit of happiness altogether and just be happy. You can’t grow unless you give. When you discover your true motivation, you don’t need an arbitrary goal. I could see happiness getting closer and closer as I walked away from the stuff I thought would make me happy.