Weekend Reading: April 28, 2018

Happy weekend!  Here’s what I read this week, and what I’m currently reading…

Last week I posted an interesting story from the Weekly Standard about the connection between homelessness, gentrification, and major tech boom in west coast cities. This week, I want to link to a Daily Briefing by Al Mohler about, as he puts it, ‘How morality, not just economics, (are) factors in to Amazon’s search for HQ2.’  We are living in a time in which the social morés of our culture are rapidly becoming upside down from what is both natural and good for men and women. And these new morés are not neutral when it comes to social and financial pressure. What you see in the search for a new Amazon location is what we’ve increasingly seen in Georgia and other states where major corporations are complicit in pushing an agenda that elevates homosexuality, sodomy and transgenderism. In short, companies like Amazon and Coke are run by people who make economic decisions based upon a perversity scale that tilts decidedly toward darkness and not light.

The consequences of these kinds of decisions are not small.

The task of corporate America seems to be to ignore depravity on one hand while extending their other in greedy economic avarice. The task of Christians isn’t as outwardly tidy.  Christians do not use two hands to fantastically and blindly parse perversity and avarice. Christians must use both hands to embrace the sinners in love without forfeiting their reason, and the reason emboldening them toward embracing is the acknowledgement of evil and sin in this world and its people, and the understanding of the transformative consequences of repentance. Sadly it might also soon drive them toward poverty if real economics is to play the slave in a game whose ground rules are determined by sexual perversion.

Moving on…

One of the big developments this week is North Korea’s decision to come to the peace/bargaining/talks (not sure how to characterize this) table.  Over at the Times, Nicholas Eberstadt is skeptical.  The thing I’m hearing from some of you is that this is either an amazing breakthrough, or its just another ploy by the North and a big time betrayal on the horizon from the South.  Who knows. Just too early to know for sure.  But I’m sort of in the skeptics camp for now.

More foreign policy: China’s New Aircraft Carrier Is Already Obsolete

Continuing on the theme, I found this interesting: North Korean Internet Users Shun Facebook and Google for Chinese Alternatives

A few weeks ago I was in Louisville for the bi-annual Together for the Gospel conference.  Usually a great time, and this was no exception.  The organizers just sent around an email with the messages from the week.  One of the best ones came from Ligon Duncan and is titled ‘The Whole in Our Holiness’.  A powerful message that “traces the biblical storyline to show how Christ redeems his fallen people, renewing them to a whole-hearted obedience to the God of grace.”  I appreciated his humility and his very personal address of issues of race.

Staying on theology, Ligonier was posting some of Dr. Sproul’s messages on Moses’ mountain top experience at Sinai this week that were really good, and one of the messages that stood out was this one, ‘I AM: The Aseity of God’. 

Oh man: Watch out! Goose attacks Michigan high school golfer (h/t Alex)

Here’s a longer one that is really sad, but a good look inside gang life for young immigrants, A Betrayal: The teenager told police all about his gang, MS-13. In return, he was slated for deportation and marked for death.  The policy upshot of this is that everything the government does, every one of those platitudes that politicos preach, all have consequences.  Sometimes you have to go for what is 80% good and deal with the unintended fallout of the 20%.  That’s just the way policy works.  So I’m not posting this as a policy statement as ​much as an eye-opening look at a reality many people are unaware of.

One of the hottest articles of the week in Politico Mag, Church of The Donald: Never mind Fox. Trump’s most reliable media mouthpiece is now Christian TV.  I’m always interested in how the secular media explores issues of faith, because its so foreign to them. So obviously there are things about this article that will make any Christian shake their head for that reason. But it was interesting to me to learn just how long ago (2011?) the President was courting the Christian media. He truly has a genius for communication and subverting the traditional mediums and outlets (as they note). The other conclusions that thinking Christians might reach are 1. It’s really great to have an administration so chalk full of faith-driven leaders who will understand the Christian worldview and 2. It’s worth noting how many “christian” charlatans (cf. Paula White) in regular orbit with the President.

Finally, this is the sad conclusion to the Alfie Evans story. The biggest thing to note here (which isn’t really figured prominently in this article) is that the government stepped in to deny the Evans’ family the ability to fly the baby to Spain for a last-chance treatment. The Spanish government had even extended citizenship to the child, so that any legal issues would be expedited. It was at once heartening to see political leaders stepping up to the plate, and angering to see the British courts block that option.  In the Bible we are told that governments are God’s agents and instruments for justice – in order to keep a peaceful and functioning society. The main function of government is to keep its people safe – either by war, or border security, or highway safety and the list goes on.  But when leaders pervert justice, trample on even the idea of life’s sacred nature and value, one can begins to question that government’s legitimacy. That is why there is outrage and discussion over these kinds of issues, and rightfully so.  Christians are called to submit to the governing authorities, but when the governing authorities side with death over life, and evil over good, there will necessarily be times where civil disobedience is the right course of action. Easier said than done, of course. These are sticky wickets.

Books…

So I’ve been remiss in talking about books lately.  Here’s what I’ve recently read worth talking about…

Theology in Three Dimensions. This book by John Frame isn’t long, but it will certainly give you a fresh perspective on reading your Bible.  I don’t recommend it for the new Christian, because the theological and technical language is sometimes “assumed” and not explained.  But I did appreciate how Frame opened my eyes to other questions and more existential perspectives (putting yourself in another’s position).

Steve McQueen: The Salvation of an American Icon. This was really fascinating. My goodreads review snipet, “McQueen was from a generation that came before me, but the movies I’ve watched where he played a staring role make it plain why he was dubbed ‘The King of Cool’ in his day. That’s all fine and well, but what about the man behind the fame? And what about that profession of faith in Jesus that came near the end of a life so packed full of ups and downs that Cedar Point would be jealous? Well, its all in this bio by pastor and author Greg Laurie. I don’t know a lot about Greg, but I can tell you that he was the perfect person to write this book. A huge fan of McQueen, Laurie grew up in almost nearly identical circumstances. His rough childhood mirrored McQueen’s in many ways, and that’s a big part of what makes this book so undeniably enjoyable and meaningful.

Hawke.  Addictive, unpredictable, immature, profane and slightly corny. Fun to read, easy to read, Bell is the kind of author whose fertile mind could have likely been employed in a much higher way. The creativity of this man when it comes to plot-lines is hard to deny, you just wish he wasn’t so obvious sometimes, and so corny others.

Humble Roots.  I’ll be honest and say I sometimes find it hard to read spiritual books written by women because the examples and analogies they use just don’t speak to me.  But Hannah Anderson has written a very helpful book here for all audiences.  It’s most striking feature is just how self-aware she is. It’s like the truths that come out of an exchange in the Brothers Karamazov between a woman who comes to confess her sins and the monastery Elder to whom she’s confessing. The Elder tells of a similar circumstance where a man was seemingly so self-aware that he understood his main problem was that while he thrived on ideas of love for mankind in general and peace on earth, he could not abide men specifically.  It’s that realization that you find yourself irritated by even the most saintly people because they chew too loud, or are “perpetually blowing their nose” (to quote Dostoyevsky).  Anderson cuts to the heart of this and redeems it. I’m going to have to re-read it sometime in the future.

Economics in One Lesson.  This is Hazlitt’s most popular work, I believe, and it was recommended to me by my friend Britain.  It was really, really good.  Just a solid reminder of the reality of how the world really works economically (despite all the manipulation by Keynesians).  If I had to summarize now the difference between Keynesian economics and Hazlitt’s Austrian/Chicago School, I would say that the latter understands man’s proclivities toward production and desire for gain and therefore seeks to properly regulate and unlock that potential in order to unleash productivity and wealth, while the former also understands men’s desires and vices, but manipulates them through macro monetary policies that continually perpetuate the same rich classes while seeking simultaneously to smooth out the boom and bust cycles (although this is disillusion, as we’ve seen).  I like to beat up on the Keynesians, can you tell?  So what is the “one lesson”?  That we need to look beyond the immediate and short term effects of our policies to longer term effects, to see how our ideas will play out and in what ways (as much as is possible).

I’ve got a bunch more I’m reading and enjoying, and if you want to see what those are you can click here.

That’s it for now!  Have a great weekend!

PJW

 

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