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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.]

We as a culture are—for the first time ever— focusing on the medical problems of the aged and the basic mechanisms of aging. Longevity is a stronger influence on improved individual and societal economics even than education. Aging is really a cluster of diseases, processes, conditions, and system errors that result in loss of years and quality of life. Improvements will most likely at least double our prime years. Since 1992, the labor force participation rates of those 65-69 have risen steadily from 20.6% to 38.3%. Memory loss is the most feared condition associated with aging.

Before the worldwide pandemic faded in 1920 it killed more than any other outbreak of disease in human history—more than ¼ of Europe, an estimated 50-100m people. For most of 2500 years, the treatment of patients by physicians made little progress. Science is undemocratic--consensus doesn't matter. In biology, nearly all activity depends upon form and physical structure—what is called “stereochemistry.” Public health experts monitor the antigen and each year adjust the flu vaccine to try to keep pace. The first casualty of war is truth. Society is ultimately, based on trust. [I may never skip a flu shot again.]

Download this file (Great Inluenza2.pdf)Great Influenza126 kB

Effort builds skill and makes it productive. You can grow your grit from the inside out. Passion for your work is a discovery, followed by a lot of development, and then a lifetime of deepening. Routines are a godsend when it comes to doing something hard. Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them. Wise parenting is both supportive and demanding; neglectful is neither; permissive is supportive but undemanding; authoritarian is demanding but unsupportive.

Download this file (Grit2.pdf)Grit225 kB

The main motive for the explosive growth of Christianity in the first 3 centuries was primarily that pagans were impressed that Christians healed the sick and cast out evil spirits. It’s extraordinary and ironic that the scientific world is opening up to belief in prayer, while many Christian theologians remain skeptical. We have too frequently turned the good news into good advice. We are tempted to preach law rather than grace. There is something in us that makes us want to find the right technique for every task. Serenity is a sign of trust and sureness.

Download this file (Healing.pdf)Healing.pdf159 kB

Our individual initiatives are central to his will for us. I am distressed at how often people identify some brutal event as God’s will—even when it clearly came from a decision made by human beings. All human troubles come from thinking of God wrongly, which means thinking about ourselves wrongly. We come to understand God through immersion with him in his work. Character development rather than direction is the primary purpose of the Father. Our failure to hear God has its deepest roots in a failure to understand, accept and grow into a conversational relationship. Most conversation between God and us is to help us understand things. We need considerable experience in order to learn how to accurately recognize and assess the meanings of impressions. When our lives are devoted to the will of God, he has reason to speak to us. God is not looking for a holy place. Places are holy because He is there. We only know what Man is when God dwells in him. Our world is the crucible of soul making--only risk produces character He expects and trusts us to choose and goes with us in our choices. Faith is not opposed to knowledge but to sight. And grace is not opposed to effort but to earning. We are required to “bet our life” that the visible world is not reality itself. Today, as God’s trusting apprentices in the kingdom of the heavens, we live on the Emmaus Road, so to speak.

Download this file (Hearing God.pdf)Hearing God228 kB

God never gave up on his original plan for human beings to dwell on Earth. God promises to those who follow Jesus a resurrected life in a resurrected body with the resurrected Christ on a resurrected Earth. Heaven isn’t an extrapolation of earthly thinking; Earth is an extension of Heaven. Rather than ignore our imagination, we should fuel it with Scripture. The present Earth is as much a valid reference point for envisioning the New Earth as our present bodies are a valid reference point for envisioning our new bodies. What we call heaven is life in a perfect world as God intended humanity to live it. Perhaps the whole creation came under our curse because it was all under our stewardship. Nothing is more often misdiagnosed than our homesickness for Heaven. What we love about this life are the things that resonate with the life we were made for. The King will delight to entrust the rule of the nations to those who served him faithfully when Earth lived under sin’s shadow.

Download this file (Heaven2.pdf)Heaven203 kB

ICT companies are using neuroscience to shape users’ habits in profitable ways. Variable rewards are one of the most powerful tools companies implement to hook users. Technology’s unstoppable progress—ever more pervasive and persuasive—influences us in a trinity of access, data, and speed. Many innovations fail because consumers irrationally overvalue the old while companies irrationally overvalue the new. People declare preferences far different from what they actually do. We never know how generous people can be until we begin to serve them imaginatively.

[C. S. Lewis spoke of George MacDonald as the one he is most eager to meet in heaven.] The cause of every man’s discomfort is evil. Obedience is the soul of knowledge. The Lord cannot save a man from his sins while he holds onto them. The greatest mercy that can be shown to man, is to make him merciful.

Download this file (Hope of the Gospel1.pdf)Hope of the Gospel151 kB

Learning to host the Presence of God is the Christian life. What generation will host Him until the kingdom of this world becomes the Kingdoms of our Lord and Christ? God’s judgments are aimed at that which interferes with love. His dream: those made in His image, who worship Him by choice, who carry His Presence into all the earth. He still requires that primary advancements in the Kingdom be made through childlikeness. Barrenness results from despising worship. We are relevant when we become what the world longs for. Jesus got His direction by seeing faith in another person. Consciousness of Presence increases our impact on the world around us. My strongest tool for discovering God’s Presence is my affection for Him. God wanted to make an exchange—His increased presence for my dignity.

The Morgan story is the story of modern finance itself. Pierpont Morgan exercised powers that today are dispersed among vast global banking conglomerates.

Download this file (House of Morgan2.pdf)House of Morgan172 kB

[This book summarizes the latest data which show the few important ingredients in character formation and the one most important to education quality.] The GED has become a test that separates bright but nonpersistent and undisciplined dropouts from other dropouts. Students’ self-discipline scores were better predictors of their final GPAs than IQ scores. Early parental care predicted which students would graduate more reliably than IQ or achievement-test scores. Whether or not intelligence is malleable, mindset certainly is. Very rarely do kids have an experience in life of losing when it is entirely in their control. You don’t experience flow if you aren’t good at something. High school grades reveal qualities of motivation and perseverance. The most reliable way to produce an adult who is brave, curious, kind, and prudent is to protect him from serious trauma and chronic stress; then provide him with a secure, nurturing relationship with at least one parent and ideally two.  Education reformers have mostly united around one specific issue: teacher quality.

Download this file (How Children Succeed.pdf)How Children Succeed.pdf206 kB

 [This book provides the best understanding of the “War on Terror” and its implications on our way of life that I’ve found.] Americans consistently say they trust the military more than any other public institution. If your only functioning government institution is the military, everything looks like a war— and everything looks like a military mission. The nature of war abhors a vacuum. It expands until everything and everyone is subsumed by it. It has often been our best instincts, not our worst that have led us to do harm in the world. Law is an optimistic enterprise--the conviction that law can reach into the very heart of darkness, and make us better than we have so far proven to be. When Congress cedes power to the executive branch, it rarely comes back. The core notion of the rule of law is that all power must be constrained by law. Civilian officials want a military that costs less but provides more, that stays deferentially out of strategy discussions but remains eternally available to ride to the rescue.

Download this file (How War became Everything.pdf)How War became Everything.pdf201 kB

The Google story serves as a compendium of management “how to’s” and thinking in the Internet Century. It’s written by the founders of the most valuable company in the history of the world (adding up all the subsidiaries and breakoffs) which grew from an idea in just 15 years.

Download this file (How Google Works2.pdf)How Google Works227 kB

Learning to hear his voice is at the center of all that matters in life. It is Christ himself, not the Bible, who is the true word of God. When it comes to hearing God, the Bible is the very language of his heart. He is slow; we are swift and precipitate. It is because we are but for a time, and He has been for eternity. If society were to be rebuilt, Christian communities would have to become centers of intellectual and spiritual formation. The Bible cannot possibly be both comprehensible to us and comprehensive to God. This is why we need the Spirit. By training ourselves to pray the Bible, we train ourselves to hear God’s word in all of God’s world. He impregnates the natural with the supernatural and makes the mundane holy, disguised as our own life

Download this file (HOw to Hear God.pdf)How to Hear God189 kB

Then and there (exegesis); here and now (hermeneutics). Learning to think exegetically is not the only task; it is simply the first task. We need 3 tools: a  good translation, a good Bible dictionary, and good commentaries. The most important contextual question is what’s the point? The NIV is as good as you can get. A text cannot mean what it never could have meant to its author or readers. Matters that tend to differ from culture to culture may usually be considered to be matters of indifference.