American Blessings – Lincoln at Lyceum

The first in a multi-part series of commentaries on Abraham Lincoln’s speech at Lyceum.

“We find ourselves in the peaceful possession, of the fairest portion of the earth, as regards extent of territory, fertility of soil, and salubrity of climate. We find ourselves under the government of a system of political institutions, conducing more essentially to the ends of civil and religious liberty, than any of which the history of former times tells us.”

How many of us consider the blessings of being American?

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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, including an organization donor site.

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. 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

Presidential Campaign Bloomberg News – Presidential Money Map 2015

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.

What political developments of the 20th century had the greatest impact on the church?

The 20th century was one of superlatives, both good and bad. The invention of the airplane, the landing on the moon and the advances in medicine, communication, and in almost every field of science were breathtaking. People today live longer, healthier and more productive and secure lives than ever before. Unfortunately, the utter devastation of modern warfare, the oppression and murder of millions, and the falling away of whole cultures from the truths of God are also breathtaking. People live under the constant shadow of mass destruction and a lonely, materialistic worldview that drains the humanity out of man.

The Church, that rock of God’s making in the midst of the tumultuous sea of human life, has been greatly impacted by the cataclysms of the 20th century. The end of colonialism, the civil rights movements, liberal education and theology, new technologies, increased exposure to other cultures, and a host of other factors have changed the church in sometimes obvious and sometimes barely perceptible ways. Nothing, however, has changed it like the Great War, 1914-1945. Though many divide this into two different conflicts, World War 1 (1914-1918) and World War 2 (1939-1945), in many ways they were simply Acts 1 and 2 of a great drama, the decline of European (and Western) civilization.

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US Elections – American Transitions of Political Power

Complain as you will about the American political system, our elections and transfers of power are the best in the world, and in history. 

Americans have waited long for this day to come; some because they are sick of the seemingly endless cycle of electioneering, and others because they are hopeful that their efforts will pay off, or at least their candidates and initiatives will succeed. Most people probably have a mix of these feelings. While understandable, such discomfiture is far better than the alternative. The purpose of elections in every country is to provide for a fair and stable transition of power from one person or group to another. Few countries in history have been able to pull this off.

Whatever happens today in any individual race, including the race for the presidency, power will change hands. The 112th Congress will give way to the 113th, some states will have different faces in their governors’ offices, and the legislative rolls will contain different names. Local governments also will not be the same in January as they are today. The amazing thing about America is that power changes hands with stability, if not civility, and money, not blood.

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