This blog grows out of my conviction that every aspect of our lives is sacred and is to be nurtured and celebrated as a good gift of God. Most of the posts will be the sorts of things you would expect from a historian and worldview teacher, but some are likely to be a bit surprising. Since God created all things good, including all aspects of human life, everything is interesting and important from the perspective of a biblical worldview. Everything under the Sun and under Heaven is thus fair game here. I hope you find it interesting and enjoyable.
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
We in the east coast of the US have just gotten through what has now been labeled superstorm Sandy. The storm, which was 800 miles across (about 1300 km) caused a massive amount of devastation and has taken at least 38 lives in the US and another 69 before it got here. In Connecticut alone, which was only on the periphery of the storm, over 600,000 are without power. During the storm, Manhattan was shut down, and today lower Manhattan is still without power. The subways are flooded, and they estimate it will take four days to pump it out. New Jersey, my home state, was hit especially hard, with 2.4 million people without power and houses lifted from their foundations and deposited on highways. In West Virginia, they had 1-2 feet of snow, and in upstate New York 3 feet.
For those of you not in the US, the superstorm came about because a hurricane merged with a nor’easter (a major storm in the north Atlantic with winds coming from a northeasterly direction) and cold air pulled down from the arctic by the jet stream. It’s pretty much the same set of conditions that created the “perfect storm” of book and movie fame.
The storm was a stark reminder of the power of wind and wave, and the awesome force of nature that dwarfs our abilities to preserve our comfort, our possessions, and even at times our lives. And yet the storm had little to no effect in other parts of the country other than gumming up the air traffic system and closing financial markets. It had even less effect on other countries outside of the Caribbean.
If you pull back and look at this from the perspective of the solar system, there are longstanding storms on Jupiter that are many times larger than our entire planet. What kind of power is at work there? Solar storms are even bigger. And our solar system is a minuscule part of the galaxy, which is one of hundreds of billions in the universe.
And what of the God who created the universe, the one who set the planets spinning and the galaxies wheeling in their cosmic dance? What kind of power does He wield?
From a cosmic perspective, earth is less than a speck, and even on an earthly perspective, this superstorm leaves most of the world unaffected. Our lives and our concerns mean a lot to us, but they are less than a breath to the universe.
Except that isn’t how God sees it.
Maybe because we are so insignificant, God places special value on us, gives us special responsibilities in the world, and has forever ennobled humanity by His own incarnation. And so we matter profoundly to God, whose opinion is the only one that matters.
The superstorm should put our lives and our over-inflated sense of power and importance into perspective. It should remind us of how small, weak, and insignificant we are in ourselves, how illusory is our control of nature, and how our powers fade to insignificance in light of the forces of nature and of the cosmos. But it should also make us think of the amazing grace of God, who has placed inestimable value on us. It should remind us of the fact that the power that created the universe is present for us and is working on our behalf. It should also make us realize the wonder of His love and of His calling to us to carry out His purposes in the world. And that should move us to humility, gratitude, and worship.
Monday, October 29, 2012
Sunday, October 21, 2012
If there's enough interest, I may expand the book to cover other worldviews. For example, the section on Eastern Religions could be easily broken up into three or more separate chapters. I also plan to do a video series where I teach the worldviews, as well as a follow up video series on holding worldview conversations. Stay tuned here or on the Every Square Inch website for updates. And if you would be interested in hosting a seminar on worldviews, please let me know. Thanks!
Monday, October 15, 2012
And no, I wasn't in a particularly good mood when I was writing it.
Saturday, October 6, 2012
- Incentives matter.
- There is no such thing as a free lunch.
- Decisions are made at the margin.
- Trade promotes economic progress.
- Transaction costs are an obstacle to trade.
- Prices bring the choices of buyers and sellers into balance.
- Profits direct businesses toward activities that increase wealth.
- People earn income by helping others.
- Production of goods and services people value, not just jobs, provides the source of high living standards.
- Economic progress comes primarily through trade, investment, better ways of doing things, and sound economic institutions.
- The “invisible hand” of market prices directs buyers and sellers toward activities that promote the general welfare.
- Too often the long-term consequences, or secondary effects, of an action are ignored.
- Legal system: The foundation for economic progress is a legal system that protects privately owned property and enforces contracts in an evenhanded manner.
- Competitive markets: Competition promotes the efficient use of resources and provides continuous stimulus for innovative improvements.
- Limits on government regulation: Regulatory policies that reduce trade also retard economic growth.
- An efficient capital market: To realize its potential, a nation must have a mechanism that channels capital into wealth-creating projects.
- Monetary stability: A stable monetary policy is essential for the control of inflation, efficient allocation of investment, and achievement of economic stability.
- Low tax rates: People will produce more when they are permitted to keep more of what they earn.
- Free trade: A nation progresses by selling goods and services that it can produce at a relatively low cost and buying those that would be costly to produce domestically.
- Government promotes economic progress by protecting the rights of individuals and supplying a few goods that are difficult to provide through markets.
- Allocation through political voting is fundamentally different from market allocation, and economic analysis indicates that the latter is more consistent with economic progress.
- The costs of government are not only taxes.
- Unless restrained by constitutional rules, special-interest groups will use the democratic political process to fleece taxpayers and consumers.
- Unless restrained by constitutional rules, legislators will run budget deficits and spend exclusively.
- Government slows economic progress when it becomes heavily involved in providing favors to some at the expense of others.
- The net gain to those receiving government transfers is less, and often substantially less, than the amount they receive.
- Central planning replaces markets with politics, which wastes resources and retards economic progress.
- Competition is just as important in government as in markets.
- Constitutional rules that bring the political process and sound economics into harmony will promote economic growth.
- Discover your competitive advantage.
- Be entrepreneurial. In a market economy, people get ahead by helping others and discovering better ways of doing things.
- Use budgeting to help you save regularly and spend your money more effectively.
- Don’t finance anything for longer than its useful life.
- Two ways to get more out of your money: Avoid credit-card debt and consider purchasing used items.
- Begin paying into a “real-world” savings account every month.
- Put the power of compound interest to work for you.
- Diversify—don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.
- Indexed equity funds can help you beat the experts without taking excessive risk.
- Invest in stocks for long-run objectives, but as the need for money approaches, increase the proportion of bonds.
- Beware of investment schemes promising high returns with little or no risk.
- Teach your children how to earn money and spend it wisely.