The Books

"When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments." (2 Timothy 4:13)

 

Currently Reading

The Vaccine Race

Fortune Makers: The Leaders Creating China's Great Global Companies

From Benito Mussolini to Hugo Chavez: Intellectuals and a Century of Political Hero Worship

The New Criterion (May 2017)

 

Next Up

Solitude

 

Recently Completed

The Givenness of Things: Essays

 Style

Fed Up: An Insider's Take on Why the Federal Reserve is Bad for America

Why Time Flies: A Mostly Scientific Investigation


When giants appear

"We came unto the land whither thou sentest us … we saw the children of Anak there."  (Num. 13:27, 28)

It is when we are in the way of duty that we find giants. It was when Israel was going forward that the giants appeared. When they turned back into the wilderness they found none.

Source: Hardman, S. G., & Moody, D. L. (1997). Thoughts for the quiet hour. Willow Grove, PA: Woodlawn Electronic Publishing.


Christ is All!

All emphasis mine.

We can do nothing, but only continually keep committing everything to Him and leaving it in His hands. And so our lives will come to be lost in His, and we will realize that the “pure life of God” is over all, and that He will work in us whatever is well pleasing in His sight. Our only part in this great work is to stop working. Abiding, resting, believing,—these are our part; Christ does all the rest.

Whether in temptation or in service, it is the same. If we cease from our own plans and our own activities and leave the whole care and ordering of our work to Him, He will plan for us, will work through us, and will use us as His instruments to accomplish His own purposes of love and mercy. The responsibility will be all His, the simple obedience only ours. And who can understand the peace of heart that we find in this, except those who have experienced it? Everywhere and in everything, we are nothing and Christ is all!

Oh that this truth might be brought home to the heart of every child of God. The promise is certain that “they which hunger and thirst after righteousness shall be filled.” But the fulfillment is all in Jesus. He in the believer instead of all the so called created habits of grace which we ourselves may develop. So that we shall not be filled with any goodness of our own, nor with any righteousness to which we can lay claim as an independent possession, but we shall be filled simply with Jesus and His righteousness. For He Himself says: “I am the bread of life; he that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” Our hunger and our thirst are all satisfied forever in Him!

—Journal, 1867

Source: Smith, H. W., & Dieter, M. E. (1997). The Christian’s secret of a holy life: the unpublished personal writings of Hannah Whitall Smith. Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.


Good Money

From The Public Discourse:

The most recent instance of using monetary policy to avoid making politically hard decisions is called “quantitative easing.” In simple terms, this involves keeping distressed economies ticking by increasing the money supply via the central bank’s buying of bonds and other financial assets from private banks and other financial institutions. The goal is to encourage private lending, which in turn increases the money supply, thereby stimulating the economy—but also avoiding or putting off the painful process of allowing fiscally unsustainable businesses to be liquidated.

Like all addictive stimulants, quantitative easing provides short-term stimulation at the price of some undesirable long-term effects. In market economies, for example, people need to be able to distinguish between viable and nonviable companies so that they can invest in the former and avoid the losses associated with the latter’s probable failure. Quantitative easing, however, helps to keep unsustainable businesses afloat. This distorts the information that people need to make prudent investment choices. That helps to undermine opportunity cost in the economy and facilitates serious misallocations of financial capital. And this means less economic growth over the long term.


"Natural" Behaviour

“[…] claiming that some questionable behaviors are “natural” for certain people (as many have done lately) is not enough to let them off the hook morally, since all sorts of sordid behavior turns out to be just fine if we followed that rule. Does a natural desire for food justify grocery theft? Does a natural hunger for sex nullify restraints to passion? Does a natural tendency toward violence (yes, some have claimed this) justify attacks on annoying people? Are humans not obliged to a higher law than the law of nature? Animals do what comes naturally. Humans should not.”

Source: Gregory Koukl, The Story of Reality

 

Also see:

Stand to Reason

Greg on Twitter


Pensées

There’s a lesson to be learned from using vignettes like these [three below]. Sometimes all it takes is a short reflection or a briefly explained insight to put a stone in someone’s shoe, gently prodding them to see things from a different perspective.

 

Rubber Crutches

            When people ask me, “Isn’t Christ just a crutch?” I have a simple reply. I tell them, “You’re right. Christ is a crutch, but you’ve asked the wrong question.” No one faults a lame person for using a crutch. Lame people need crutches. The real question is, “Am I lame?”

            The fact is, everybody leans on something. As a Christian I lean on Jesus, because He’s a crutch that can hold me. What about you? The real issue is not whether you’re leaning on a crutch. Everybody does. The real question is, “Can your crutch hold you?”

            When I was a kid and someone told a dumb joke, we’d say, “That’s as funny as a rubber crutch.” The point is “rubber crutches” aren’t funny. As it turns out, though, a lot of people are leaning on crutches that will never hold them.

            What’s your fancy? What is it that makes your life work for you? A relationship? A career? A bank account? Your health? Power? Each of those is a rubber crutch. If what you’re depending on for security and significance can be here today and gone tomorrow, then you’re in trouble. You’re leaning on a rubber crutch. And that’s not funny.

            Yes, the Christian leans on Christ. Call it a crutch if you want, but our crutch can hold us. A Christian is someone who admits his deep need. He knows he’s broken in many ways, and needs help.

            When you finally come to your senses and realize you’re deeply broken, Christ isn’t “just” a crutch—He’s life support system.

 

Double Standard on the Problem of Evil

            If the truth were known, we do not judge disasters based on unprejudiced moral assessment, but rather on what is painful, awkward, or inconvenient for us. We don’t ask, “Where is God?” when our pleasure comes at the price of another’s pain (e.g., when our adultery destroys a marriage and the lives of the children involved).

            The reason is we don’t want God sniffing around the darker recesses of our own evil conduct. Instead, we fight intervention when any evil that God allows brings us personal benefit. We don’t really want Him stopping us from hurting others; we only cry foul when He doesn’t stop others from hurting us.

 

Are All Religions Equally Good?

            The concept that all religions are basically good is flawed because it doesn’t pay enough attention to the end product. Many religions have good moral teachings, but any religion that gives temporal benefits without ultimately leading us to the true God is treating the symptom and not the disease.

             There is a serious philosophical problem with saying that all religions are equally good in an ultimate sense. Their contradictory ideas about God and the afterlife and a whole bunch of other things can’t all be correct at the same time. Someone must be mistaken.

            If issues of religion have eternal consequences, then errors in thinking are infinitely tragic. To rephrase Karl Marx, false religion is the opiate of the people. It soothes, but does not cure.


Think on these things...

 

From The Imitation of Christ

 

IT IS good for us to have trials and troubles at times, for they often remind us that we are on probation and ought not to hope in any worldly thing. It is good for us sometimes to suffer contradiction, to be misjudged by men even though we do well and mean well. These things help us to be humble and shield us from vainglory. When to all outward appearances men give us no credit, when they do not think well of us, then we are more inclined to seek God Who sees our hearts. Therefore, a man ought to root himself so firmly in God that he will not need the consolations of men.

When a man of good will is afflicted, tempted, and tormented by evil thoughts, he realizes clearly that his greatest need is God, without Whom he can do no good. Saddened by his miseries and sufferings, he laments and prays. He wearies of living longer and wishes for death that he might be dissolved and be with Christ. Then he understands fully that perfect security and complete peace cannot be found on earth.

Many people try to escape temptations, only to fall more deeply. We cannot conquer simply by fleeing, but by patience and true humility we become stronger than all our enemies. The man who only shuns temptations outwardly and does not uproot them will make little progress; indeed they will quickly return, more violent than before.

Little by little, in patience and long-suffering you will overcome them, by the help of God rather than by severity and your own rash ways. Often take counsel when tempted; and do not be harsh with others who are tempted, but console them as you yourself would wish to be consoled

 

In temptations and trials the progress of a man is measured; in them opportunity for merit and virtue is made more manifest.

When a man is not troubled it is not hard for him to be fervent and devout, but if he bears up patiently in time of adversity, there is hope for great progress.

Some, guarded against great temptations, are frequently overcome by small ones in order that, humbled by their weakness in small trials, they may not presume on their own strength in great ones.

 

Source: Thomas à Kempis. (1996). The Imitation of Christ. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems.


Football and Fallacies

From Sowell:

 

The plain fact that different individuals and groups make different choices is resolutely ignored, because it does not fit the prevailing preconceptions, or the crusades based on those preconceptions.

 

Discrimination can certainly cause statistical disparities. But statistical disparities do not automatically mean discrimination.

 

Statistics are no substitute for thought -- certainly not in government policies, and especially not in Supreme Court decisions.