The Wisdom Chronicle

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The Wisdom Chronicle is designed to bring nuggets of wisdom from the dozens of books I read every year. I endeavor to share the best of what I have gleaned. The determination of relevance lies with you. Blessings, J. Whiddon

451. CATEGORICAL IMPERITIVE “The categorical imperative says that when you are trying to decide on a course of action or when you face a moral dilemma, you should consider what the impact would be, and not just of your own action, but what the world would be like if everyone behaved that way.

Economists love pointing out that it is irrational to vote. Your vote is meaningful only if there is a tie and your vote breaks the tie. Otherwise your vote makes no difference to the outcome. When I point this out to noneconomists, I usually receive a Kantian response—but what if everyone acted that way and chose not to vote? The reply of the typical economist? Don’t worry, no one is going to stay home just because you do; your vote simply doesn’t matter. That reply is correct. But it shouldn’t determine whether you vote or not.

The act of voting usually fails a cost-benefit analysis based exclusively on affecting the outcome of the election. But the categorical imperative implies it is immoral not to vote, unless you think democracy can survive in a world where only a few people elect public officials.

Excerpt From: Roberts, Russ. “How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life.”

452. EQUALITY? “The idea that you should not judge other cultures is itself a judgment, and the number of people who subscribe to it make up a very small percentage of the people on this planet. But they demand that we all live by their non-judgmental worldview, which flourishes only in certain departments of elite Western universities, even though that worldview really imposes harsh judgments on others outside their own culture.

Logic aside, there is also a serious practical reason to avoid falling into the trap of cultural relativism—it renders one completely incapable of addressing the problem of evil.

Are we really prepared to say that our culture today is not superior to that of Nazi Germany in the 1930s? Does anyone consider such a view to be chic?

We know from history that any society foolish enough to experiment with Marxism will find that the quest for equality results in a lower standard of living for all. Similarly, any society foolish enough to embrace cultural relativism will find that the quest for equality results in a lower overall standard of morality.”

Excerpt From: Adams, Mike. “Letters to a Young Progressive.”

453. BIBLE REVOLUTION “Until the American Revolution, America’s Bibles were shipped over from England. In 1777, that supply was cut off, and supplies dwindled. Reasoning that “the use of the Bible is so universal and its importance so great,” Congress resolved to import 20,000 copies of the Bible.

When that resolution was not acted upon, Robert Aitken of Philadelphia published a New Testament in 1777 and followed it with three additional editions. In early 1781, he petitioned Congress and received approval to print the entire Bible. This first American printing of the English Bible in 1782 has come to be called the “Bible of the Revolution.”

American historian W. P. Strickland shared this point:

“Who, in view of this fact, will call in question the assertion that this is a Bible nation? Who will charge the government with indifference to religion when the first Congress of the States assumed all the rights and performed all the duties of a Bible society long before such an institution had an existence in the world?”

Excerpt From: Lee, Richard. “In God We Still Trust: A 365-Day Devotional.”

454. GOVERNMENT HELP “when the federal government gets involved in something, it’s even worse than when the local government gets involved. The reason for that is simple—the greater the physical distance between the problem and problem-solving entity, the less likely you are to find an effective solution. Local problems can’t be efficiently solved by national agencies.”

Excerpt From: Adams, Mike. “Letters to a Young Progressive.”

455. NO BOUNDARIES “It is this absence of “unenforceable” behaviorial boundaries—self-restraint—that has made what one “can do” increasingly indistinguishable from what one may or should do.

Of course, much more than manners, arts, and letters have suffered from this lack of lines to live by. Our culture without boundaries increasingly reflects a larger world without boundaries—and it’s a brave new world, all right. It begins with the increasingly amorphous proposition of personal identity (sexual, national, married name or not). It continues at home, permeable to the toxic seepage of television and the Internet. It goes to church, where the world’s Catholics have had to confront line-crossing sexual crimes. And it extends to our national borders, which are increasingly porous to aliens and terrorists. Where there is no line, there is increasingly no will to draw any line. And that can be not only confusing, but also downright dangerous.

A culture without boundaries—a society without grown-ups and a middle class without guidelines—can be a dangerous place to live.”

Excerpt From: West, Diana. “The Death of the Grown-Up.”

456. NOT TODAY’S TEENS President John Quincy Adams became the U.S. ambassador to Russia at 14, Joan of Arc reclaimed France at 17, Alexander the Great began conquering the world at 16, and the Bible tells us that Josiah, one of Israel’s most righteous kings, began his reign at age eight.

457. JESUS “If Jesus is in you, this world is as bad as it gets. If He is not in you, this world is as good as it gets.” –C. Seidman

458. BOYS VS. GIRLS “When you have a boy, you have to worry about one boy. When you have a girl, you have to worry about EVERY boy.” –Ryan Dobson

459. RELIGION IN AMERICA “Upon my arrival in the United States, [in 1831] the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention. . . . In France I had almost always seen the spirit of religion and the spirit of freedom pursuing courses diametrically opposed to each other; but in America I found that they were intimately united, and that they reigned in common over the same country. . . .

There is no country in the whole world in which the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America . . . its influence is most powerfully felt over the most enlightened and free nation of the earth.

Religion in America takes no direct part in the government of society, but it must nevertheless be regarded as the foremost of the political institutions of that country. . . .

The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and of liberty so intimately in their minds, that it is impossible to make them conceive the one without the other.”

Excerpt from: “Democracy in America” by Alexis de Tocqueville

460. PRESIDENTIAL FAITH “Coolidge became president on August 3, 1923 after President Warren Harding died from a heart attack. Staying at his family’s farm in Vermont, Coolidge was awakened a little after midnight and sworn into office at 2:47 a.m. by his father, John Coolidge, a notary public. Immediately afterward, the story goes, Coolidge prayed on his knees and went back to bed.

Calvin Coolidge was born in the small town of Plymouth Notch, Vermont, on July 4, 1872.

When President Ronald Reagan moved in to the White House, he requested that President Calvin Coolidge’s portrait be transferred to the Cabinet Room. Coolidge cut taxes and government spending—the same goals Reagan had as president.”

Excerpt From: Jackie Gingrich Cushman. “The Essential American.”

 

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  1. Kelsey Stuart says:

    This is my first time reading the Wisdom Chronicles. I learned about them from Dr. Turek who mentioned them in one of his podcasts. Jim, thanks for sharing the wisdom that you gain from your readings. Keep it coming!

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