Noah’s Flood and the Cycle of Redemption

We sin, we repent, and then we sin again. Understanding Noah’s flood gives us hints to break the cycle.

The 2016 Presidential Campaign in the United States has begun, and most of the candidates have claimed the Christian faith. Only the candidates know their hearts, and while outsiders are told to “know a tree by its fruit”, to judge based on what a person does, no one can ultimately state whether or not another’s name is in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Some presidential hopefuls mention their religion and then hurry on to other topics. Others, especially evangelicals, reveal how their religion impacts their politics. The faith statements of the first group are taken at face value, but those of the later often engender special ridicule.

People who take the Bible seriously and try to order their lives by it have always been misunderstood. Whether Catholic, Protestant, or Orthodox, those who study Scripture and try to follow it, all of it, have no lack of foes. One of the favorite games of those who oppose life-changing Christianity is to set up a caricature of what such Christians believe and then try to mock them into oblivion. Creation and Intelligent Design are favored targets, but so is the flood of Noah. This article will discuss Biblical and scientific issues around the Flood of Noah.

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Values-Aligned Investing

Put your money where your heart is, and live your conscious with your finances. 

Investments should make money, but they should also reflect a person’s values. Money invested in a country or company helps them accomplish their mission, and their mission may not the same as yours. Investors should be aware of the moral underpinnings and ambitions of companies, countries, and individuals in which they may invest or with which they may do business.

Companies that promote societal stability, individual initiative, and personal responsibility generally do better in the long run, both for their stakeholders and their nation. Therefore, investing in companies that promote family-friendly values provides the greatest chance for a reasonable long term return on investment. Long term growth, not “getting rich quick”, is the goal.

Countries that promote these same things, and allow religious freedom, also prosper compared to their more dictatorial counterparts. As a result, investing in companies and sovereign debt in these countries may be prudent. No nation is completely consistent. Germany, for example, is terrific on religious freedom but not as good on family values and personal responsibility.

Individual action also matters. No business is more than the sum of the people who work there, and company leaders sometimes support bad causes in their work, as well in as their personal lives. No real conservative would argue that they don’t have the right to do what they want with their own money, because conservatives believe in private property and individual liberty. However, we all have a right to know where the rich and famous are putting their money, and then decide whether or not to support them and their causes.

The information below can help you make the best investment and purchasing decisions.

Companies

  1. Political bias – Review websites including political donations, public statements, etc. The Center for Responsive Politics has very good information.
  2. Personal Experiences (good, neutral, bad)
  3. Recent events

Countries

  1. Religious freedom – US State Department International Religious Freedom Report 
  2. Personal Experiences (good, neutral, bad)
  3. Political freedom – The Democracy Project identifies nations with little or diminishing democracy.
  4. Recent events

Individuals

  1. Political bias (conservative vs. liberal) – review of websites including political donations, public statements, etc. The Center for Responsive Politics has very good information, including an individual donor site.
  2. Personal Experiences (good, neutral, bad)
  3. Recent events

Universities

  1. Divest U at Turning Point helps people direct giving away from some universities and towards others. It features a Professor Watch List to identify the most radical professors and their schools.

2nd Vote has a mobile device application that ranks companies on their support of conservative or liberal causes. Companies in green such as Hobby Lobby and Chick-fil-A support family friendly issues, while companies in red such as Starbucks and the United Way do not. These guidelines are hard to follow when it comes to shopping. If you wish to buy a computer, for example, all of the manufacturers support anti-family causes, so conservatives are forced to pick the least bad company. Investing is more flexible.

No man’s life is merely about money; it is about contribution to causes greater than himself. Investing is as much a moral decision as a financial one. As people weigh priorities about where to invest (and to shop), they would do well to consider all of the factors, not only the monetary ones.

Our Mechanistic Minds

Machine thinking makes us less human. 

As some of my children have gone off to college, I have thought more about their generation, which demographers call the Millennials. A young man in our church graciously asked me to lead his Life Group once per month, and that has given me more occasion to discover this fascinating generation. We also have a young woman from Persia living with us, and she is wonderful at explaining much about how non-American millennials think.

Some examples stand out in my mind. Though earnestly seeking a wife, one 25 year old man agonized over dating a woman he met on Christian Mingle, concerned that it might be risky. A woman in her mid-twenties wanted to meet a man but wasn’t willing to do much to attract one. The very idea of attracting a man was offensive. A 24 year old college graduate hoped to be dating and knew many eligible men her age but did nothing to encourage their overtures. Another man was afraid of yet another rebuff. In one incident, a young man teaching a coed Sunday School class facetiously suggested that the women in the class, who were going to pick blueberries together after church, could make some blueberry pies for the men. For their part, the men could bring back wild game. His tongue in cheek suggestion was met with incredulity and derision. On hearing the story a few hours later, my mother in law said “If they wanted a blueberry pie, I would bake one.”

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Fatherhood and Ballet

Going to your children’s events to see them is not enough. Dads have to learn to enjoy what their kids enjoy.

Last week I was at a ballet studio watching my daughter dance. It was a fun show, similar to ones that I have seen countless times before. Since my oldest daughter was three, I have attended ballet recitals, shows, and the annual Nutcracker. Over the years, ballet has become an important part of our lives.

It was not always this way. My mother was not a dancer and she had two boys. Our nearest cousins were boys and so were all of our friends. Boys dance, but finding a boy in a typical ballet school can be as hard as finding a Republican in New York City. We played football, joined Boy Scouts, and attended church, but never danced, or knew anyone who did. This all changed when our oldest girl was born.

In the early years, I went to ballet performances to see my daughter, the cutest person in the world to me. From Coppelia to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, I didn’t want to miss seeing her dance or giving her flowers after a performance.

When my little ones started ballet, they began asking me questions after their performances. “Daddy”, one would ask, “What did you think about the Russian dancer?” or “How did you like the Sugar Plum Fairy?” The first time my oldest asked a question like this, the blood drained from my face and I stammered a helpless “They were great, sweetheart, what did you think?” In truth, I didn’t remember the Russian and I couldn’t tell the Sugar Plum Fairy from the Snow Queen. I wasn’t attending dance performances to enjoy dance; I was going there to see my daughters. I thought that this was enough.

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