Yom Kippur? Not on Wall Street

Judaism’s holiest season of repentance coincided with comeuppance for corporate America.   Ten days of reflection follow Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.  Yet Yom Kippur, the annual day of atonement, was observed everywhere but Wall Street.

Ten days of fasting and prayer sound utterly appropriate after an era of unregulated excess. Surely, the fat cat C.E.O.s who have been gorging themselves at stockholders expense could tighten their belts for at least one day.   Yet, the reports flowing from Wall Street revealed ongoing gluttony in a week of economic collapse.   The day of judgement is uponus.  But where is the atonement?   Why no public confession of sins?   Whither repentance? 

When spendthrift corporations like AIG should have been redecorating in sack cloth and ashes, these ingrates celebrated their federal bailout with a blowout at the St.

The Beauty of Culture

In a country such as America, cultures seem to be continually evolving as quickly as New England weather changes in an afternoon. I thought it might be helpful to take a biblical approach to culture and to its implications into our lives. The words below are taken from a seminar on crossing-cultures well that I facilitated in 2005. 

Culture defined: It is learned, it is shared, it represents an integration of many smaller anchors of reality or paradigms, and it is constantly changing. 

We were created with culture. I think it's important to factor into our scripture reading, the culture of that time period. Afterall, the Bible was revealed to us in history. We should spend as much time studying the culture in the Bible as we do studying our own. The Bible and ourselves are situated in cultural context. For instance, Adam and Eve were placed in a particular culture they share. Simply said, culture is in God's plan.

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Tags | Global

How to figure out what's going on with our economy, and have a (little) fun along the way.

As the sky falls on Wall Street, are you confused about what happened? Not sure how this complicated chain events was started? Here's a few, interesting, and (dare I say?) entertaining resources that will help you become informed about what in the world is going on.

Written long before the crisis even began, Michael Lewis' book Liar's Poker: Rising Through the Wreckage on Wall Street is by far the most interesting explanation of how mortgage-backed securities were created on Wall Street in the 1980s. I read this book several years ago and it scared me - apparently, not without basis. (Lewis has a new book coming out in December, called Panic: The Story of Modern Financial Insanity.)

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The World is Watching...(Get Ready to Vote)

It wasn’t until I moved to Kenya when I was 22 that I began to understand how truly global the audience is that watches what happens in U.S. politics. The event (indeed, the process itself) of the U.S. changing political parties, handing power from one to the other, or just replacing the incumbent president with a newly chosen one from within the standing party, is something that captures the imagination of people all over the world.

This fascination with what is happening in Washington is not necessarily due to the popularity of the U.S. Yes, her ability to hold free elections that are not marked by massive campaigns of intimidation and violence is greatly admired and envied by many. (I remember local elections in Kenya not so many years ago when voters had to line up behind the designated spot for their candidate. That wasn’t exactly what the people were hoping for in a “free and fair” election.) But that's not the entirety of it.

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Obama Pulling Away?

If the election were held today, Senator Obama would win easily.

The election will not be held today and there are still two major events to come.

However, the melt down on Wall Street and the unpopular bail out plan upset the best laid plans of the McCain campaign. McCain could only have caught up immediately by opposing the unpopular plan . . . but he thinks it in the nation’s best interest. You know what he will do in that case!*

The debate, where McCain did very well, was swallowed up in the overall reaction to Wall Street. Senator Obama was solid in that part of the debate, which was good news for him, because the foreign policy segment went badly for him.

That Senator Obama has not broken the fifty percent mark . . . he is stuck with the Kerry 49/50% is the only good news for McCain from last week.
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What is ConversantLife All About? - Video #2

...here's the second video segment. The Conservative VS. The Liberal. An age old fight between Republicans and Democrats; between the elephant and the donkey; the blue and the red; between dogs and cats...OK, we just threw that one in for fun. ENJOY!!!

Tags | Politics

A Brief Biblical Synopsis of God's Redemptive Plan

I recently came across an old short essay I wrote for a class I took in graduate school. I was encouraged by reading the essay because it serves as a great reminder of the immeasurable and incomprehendable love the Father has for his creation. I hope you are experiencing that perfect love in your life today. 

From the course The Gospel, the World and Cities: 

We can be assured that God loves all people. Gen. 1:26 tells us that man was created in God’s image. The simple truth that God created man at all, reveals his love for us all. The Bible tells a love story that begins in the garden, climaxes at the cross, and continues to pierce hearts across the globe today. God desired relationship with man in the garden. After Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden tree, Gen. 3:8 tells us that God was walking in the garden. This tells me that he had a close relationship with Adam and Eve. Then, in Gen. 3:9, God is calling out to them; seeking them out after they had sinned against him. He personally approaches them. In Gen. 3:15, God reveals his plan for redemption.

God took the initiative to go after his creation in order to reconcile the gap that had been created as a result of disobedience. Here we see the first time that God begins his mission to reconcile his creation back to himself. In Gen. 4 God took the initiative with Cain and sought him out as well. God’s mission to reconcile his relationship with man has been coined the mission dei. This means that mission originates with God.

God called Abram in Gen. 12:1. Verses 2-3 reveal a promise.The end of the promise says that, ‘all the peoples of the earth will be blessed through you.’ This passage has been referred to as the most universal passage in scripture. Then, in Ex. 19:3-6, we see the charter of the Nation of Israel. We have a reference to ‘all nations’, ‘the whole earth is mine’, and ‘you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ Therefore, the promise of God’s plan was directed to the nation of Israel, yet Israel was to act as the mediator to bring all nations to God. It was not to isolate Israel from other people groups. In fact, we know that those who lived outside the nation of Israel did come to a faith in God. Josh. 2:8-11 tells us the story of Rehab and her incredible faith as well as the following individuals recorded in 2 Kings5:11ff, Jer. 38:7-13 and 2 Chron. 30:25. Solomon had a firm grasp on this when he prayed his universal prayer in 2 Chron. 6:32-33.

The Psalms are also filled with evidence that salvation and God’s redemptive plan is for all nations. Beginning in Ps. 2 and throughout thePsalms, salvation to all the nations is proclaimed. Psalm 67 perhaps is one ofthe most well known for its missions concept. Not only does it reveal God’splan to bless all nations, it reveals the purpose behind this blessings; ‘that your ways may be known on earth.’

Therefore, there is clear evidence that God was and is very concerned for all his creation. I began this essay by declaring the Bible to be a love story. God revealing himself to man is the most beautiful act of love and missions does in fact begin in the Old Testament and it does begin with God.

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Tags | Global

Politics: Looking Ahead

The news on Wall Street has been bad, but should start getting better.

Christians face death in India.

Some very good students are exploring Phaedo at my house on Wednesday nights.

That is all news.

Polls are not news . . . and remember I am not saying this because they now show an Obama-Biden uptick. They do, but while better for Team Obama than the reverse it is not fundamentally altering the contest.

As I have said since early summer, this election comes in phases. Over excitement in any direction is unwise during a phase. Everything waits for the debates . . . and the first debate will count the most. Somehow the McCain camp managed to get the first debate switched to foreign policy. This is a masterful move as it plays to Senator McCain’s strength. I have noticed that the McCain camp, usually so quick to react, has not made much of Senator Obama’s “negotiations” with Iraq.
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Tags | Politics

Fun with Partial Birth Abortion

Barack, you had me at hello. Your winsome smile, inspirational life story, commitment to ending the war, and can-do attitude makes me want to love you. And I mostly do. But Barack. Seriously. The partial-birth abortion thing? Not cool.

Sure, I realize that many in your camp are pro-choice, and there are some disagreements between us as to when life begins. I realize that many do not share my views on the protection of a teensy tiny fetus. But when we are talking about the intentional killing of a baby old enough to live outside the womb? Good Lord, something is not right.

And there is lots of talk about situations where the mother's health is at risk. But may I point out - a partial birth abortion is much more risky than an induction or c-section, which are better options if we're really talking "health of the mother" here. Since when is it safer to crush a baby's skull while still in a woman's body, instead of allowing the baby to be delivered alive? Oh wait. Here's the answer to that question:

There are in fact absolutely no obstetrical situations encountered in this country which require a partially delivered human fetus to be destroyed to preserve the life or health of the mother

-(Dr. Pamela Smith, Senate Hearing Record, p.82: Partial Birth Abortion Ban Medical Testimony).

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Sometimes It's Good To Have Less

Every morning, I listen to NPR while getting ready for my day. It's my way of keeping tabs on what's going on in the world. Once I get to work, I am pretty much tunnel-visioned, so this is how I know when there is a hurricane somewhere or earthquake or, say for instance, an economic crisis.

When I was in the corportate world, working for the CEO of a publically held company, I dealt regularly with shareholders and the folks whose job it was to drive the stock prices up. But now that I work for a non-profit organization, the only time we talk much about the economy is when we're thinking about how likely it is that we'll get major gifts this year. A strong economy means more donations. In a weak economy, charitable donations are the first to go.

The other morning, I was listening to NPR reporting on the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy and what that would mean for many people globally. I realized that, when most of your wealth lies in stocks and bonds, this kind of thing can really make you sweat. Or, if you bank at a place like Washington Mutual (like I do), and that bank goes under, you stand to lose a lot - that is, if you have a lot more than $100,000 in the bank.

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