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
- A CALLING “There’s a difference in being asked to do something and a calling.” –Unknown
- “Only 0.2 percent of the mainly Muslim nation of Turkey follows Jesus. Ironic. The land once knew the sandal prints of the apostle Paul and provided a stage for the first churches. Three-fourths of Christians live in the third world, often in anti-Christian environments. More Chinese take part in Sunday worship than the entirety of western Europeans. Lebanon is 39 percent Christian; Sudan, 5 percent; Egypt, about 10 percent. Many of these risk their life to worship. Would I give up my life? Why, some days I don’t want to give up my parking spot.”
Excerpt From: Lucado, Max. “Outlive Your Life.”
- HUMANE SOCIETY? “A significant aspect of modern life became clear: With the breakdown of religion, the belief that human beings are created in the image of God is no longer taught. From where, then, does the belief in human sanctity derive? What nonreligious reason could be offered for regarding people as more valuable than animals?
As a result of that encounter, I understood why I had never liked the famous antiwar button of the Vietnam War generation, “War Isn’t Healthy for Children and Other Living Things”— it was a subtle identification of children with all other living things.
Shortly thereafter, I began asking high school students throughout America: “If your dog and a person you didn’t know were drowning, which would you first try to save?” In fifteen years of posing that question before students in secular schools, no more than a third of the group has ever voted to save the person.”
Excerpt From: Prager, Dennis. “Think a Second Time.”
- 9-11 “As one witness described the sight of men and women leaping out of windows: “It was raining people.” That alone pushed me to tears as I sat in solitude on my couch. Another witness added the detail that many of the jumpers had fallen in pairs: “People were holding hands jumpings.” Unbelievable, I thought. Only seconds to live, one final act remaining, and it was still all about relationships. Those people needed each other. We all need each other.
The people on the hijacked planes who had used cell phones to say their final goodbyes before crashing. In frantic calls to family and friends, all had shared three simple words they wanted to leave behind: I love you. There had not been a single news account of anyone on those planes spending his final moments rehashing what a great athlete he’d been as a youngster, how many girls he’d scored as a teen, how much money and power he’d amassed as an adult. Nobody was calling their brokers.”
Excerpt From: Marx, Jeffrey. “Season of Life.”
- DISEASE “It was said of a kindly Spanish priest, who went among the native peoples of the Western Hemisphere in friendship, as a missionary, that he was probably responsible for more deaths among them than even the most brutal conquistador. It was not uncommon in parts of the Western Hemisphere for half or more of a given tribe of indigenous people to be wiped out by European diseases to which they had no biological resistance.”
Excerpt From: Sowell, Thomas. “Wealth, Poverty and Politics.”
- COMPLAINT DEPT A young monk had taken a vow of silence. Yet the monastery rules allowed him to say two words on each anniversary of his induction into the order. On the first anniversary he was asked, “My son, what would you like to say?” He responded, “Food cold.” On the second year, the young monk had the same opportunity. The head monk asked, “What would you like to say this year, my son.” He said, “Bed hard.” A third year arrived, and the annual two words were again afforded the otherwise devoted monk. When asked, he said, “Robe dirty.” The head monk finally exclaimed, “You know you’ve been here three years, and all you’ve ever done is complain.” — Chris Seidman
- REJECTING GOD “When human beings reject God they die spiritually, and that death touches, spoils, distorts, twists and eventually destroys all that makes human life what it is – from the moral to the aesthetic, from family relationships to work.
We have only to think of some examples of what is accepted as art or entertainment nowadays to understand that rejection of God leads to the death of civilized culture. It leads to the inversion of values; where a pile of excrement is hailed as avant garde art, and blatant immorality is hailed as marvellous theatre. The darkness is such that there is little or no understanding or appreciation of what has happened – man has descended to the animal.
Putting this into reverse is what is meant by “repentance”, which in the Greek is metanoia – “change of mind”. It involves a lifting of our eyes and mind towards heaven, which is exactly what Nebuchadnezzar did at the end of the period of his discipline:
“At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honoured him who lives for ever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?”
At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my majesty and splendour returned to me. My counsellors and my lords sought me, and I was established in my kingdom, and still more greatness was added to me. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble. (Daniel 4:34–37.)”
Excerpt From: John C. Lennox. “Against the Flow.”
- PUNISHMENT “If no sin were punished here, no Providence would be believed; and if every sin should be punished here, no judgment would be expected.” — Augustine
- LIBERTY STRUCTURES “If the structures of liberty are well built, they last as long as they are properly maintained, whereas the spirit of liberty and the habits of the heart must be reinvigorated from generation to generation. Conversely, whatever the strength of the structures of liberty, they may always be overrun in the end by the will of the people. Put differently, a nation’s constitution is like a covenant, and there are always at least two parties to a covenant. A nation’s constitution may therefore remain strong and clear, yet still be nullified by the citizenry failing to uphold its side of the covenant.
It is possible to be free at the constitutional level in terms of the structures of liberty but to lose freedom and become servile or anarchic at the citizens’ level in terms of the spirit of liberty.
Human appetites are by nature “insatiable” because human beings are “able to desire everything” but unable “to secure everything.” As a result, “their desire is always greater than the power of acquisition.
In a democratic republic, the rulers and the subjects are one and the same, so freedom depends constantly not only on the character of the nation’s leaders but also on the character of its citizens.”
Excerpt From: Guinness, Os. “A Free People’s Suicide.”
- MALE EMOTIONS “Normative male alexithymia—goes a long way in explaining why many men struggle with relationships. The word alexithymia has Greek roots. It means the inability to put emotions into words. As described by psychologist Ronald F. Levant, who has written extensively on masculinity: “Normative alexithymia is a predictable result of the male gender role socialization process. Specifically, it is a result of boys being socialized to restrict the expression of their vulnerable and caring/connection emotions and to be emotionally stoic.” Levant cites a significant amount of research showing that males actually begin life more emotionally expressive than females. Infant boys are more easily startled and excited, exhibit less tolerance for tension and frustration, cry sooner and more often, and change moods more rapidly than do infant girls. The socialization process takes hold with remarkable speed, though. By the age of two, boys are already showing verbal signs of tuning out and suppressing their emotions.”
Excerpt From: Marx, Jeffrey. “Season of Life.”
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