“I’ve heard some people describe the economy of the future as “post-corporatist and post-capitalist”—one in which large corporations crumble and all innovation happens from the bottom up. What nonsense. People who say things like that never have a convincing explanation for who will make drugs or low-cost carbon-free energy. Catalytic philanthropy doesn’t replace businesses. It helps more of their innovations benefit the poor.”
Churches behave like businesses but act surprised when people in their congregations behave like consumers. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not against being organized. I’m not against plans. Anyone who knows me would laugh at that idea; I can’t go 10 minutes without organizing something. And if I had something against business, I wouldn’t have an MBA. But there’s a difference between organizing and institutionalizing. Between making plans and packaging them. Between building a loving community and surrounding yourself with “the best.” And it makes no sense to establish a business and expect either your employees or your customers to pitch in like they’re at a family reunion.
During Lent we reflect on the life of the one who makes reconciliation possible. We recall moments of reconciliation, in our own lives and in the history of this wonderful, heartbroken world. But we look around and see, mostly, accommodation to the way things are. And so we yearn for the way things could be, for the way things will one day be. Slowly, as the days lengthen, we are turned, in our reflecting and remembering and yearning, toward the rising of the Christ, and the eventual complete reconciliation of all things in that rising.
One summer day I sat at the large wooden desks we used in the store as front counters. The fans twirled hypnotically. The sun bleared through the storefront windows, shined along the shelves of old books, faded as it passed over the scuffed black-and-green tile floor, and died before it reached me. I was in the cool shadows, removed, reading I don’t remember what. A large figure in black appeared before me. It was Johnny Cash. He said the perfect thing for Johnny Cash to say. This is what he said: “Son, where are your books on trains?”
4. Common Good PHX
After months of tossing ideas around and weeks of hammering out details, I’m excited to begin spreading the word about Common Good PHX, a two-day conference featuring Andy Crouch, who will be speaking on the topic of how Christians in Phoenix can contribute to the flourishing of our city. The event will be held April 12-13 at Christ Church Anglican, and will also include local breakout speakers. Learn more and register here.
I recently had the privilege of interviewing Mary Andringa, CEO of Vermeer Corporation and chair of the board for the National Association of Manufacturers (she’s kind of a big deal). We talked about the influences that shaped her “theological imagination” and how it relates to the way she operates her business. If you’re of the opinion that manufacturing and theology are two unrelated entities, I hope you’ll read what Mary has to say.
The story was published late last week by Fieldnotes in two parts, available here and here.
My profile of entrepreneur Aaron Klusman was published today by Christianity Today as part of the This Is Our City project, which chose Phoenix as one of several cities to highlight. I enjoyed getting to know Aaron while researching the story and interviewing him, and I’m encouraged by what he and others are doing through entrepreneurial ventures to create jobs and to seek the flourishing of Phoenix.
Klusman works hard to turn a profit, as success in business requires, but the dividends extend beyond his investors. As he sees it, thriving businesses are instrumental to the flourishing of any vibrant city, and Phoenix is no exception. “If you’re going to talk about the well being of the city, the reality is that you have to understand economics,” he says. “A city flourishes as its economic engine thrives.” …
The belief that the work of our hands is a way of honoring God has become foundational to Klusman’s theology of work. “There’s intrinsic value in making a table,” he says. “You can take joy in that each day. You don’t need to slap a Bible verse on the leg of the table for it to be stamped with the approval of God.”
You can read the full story here. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
1. Capitalism and charity Dan Pallotta had a fascinating piece last weekend in the Wall Street Journal arguing that charity and business ought to play by the same rules. One may not agree with his introductory assessment of Puritan and Calvinist motivations, but the article is good stuff to ponder nonetheless:
It’s time to change how society thinks about charity and social reform. The donating public is obsessed with restrictions—nonprofits shouldn’t pay executives too much, or spend a lot on overhead or take risks with donated dollars. It should be asking whether these organizations have what they need to actually solve problems. The conventional wisdom is that low costs serve the higher good. But this view is killing the ability of nonprofits to make progress against our most pressing problems. Long-term solutions require investment in things that don’t show results in the short term.
2. Nonprofits and “quasi-journalism”
My friend Jin Noh passed this one along, about how nonprofits and advocacy groups like Human Rights Watch are getting into the “quasi-journalism” business, and what this means:
Media from nonprofits has boomed in recent years. But that doesn’t just mean the ProPublicas and Texas Tribunes of the world — nonprofit advocacy groups are also inching their way into the media business. Instead of relying on news organizations to transmit their messages to an audience, some are focused on making that connection themselves.
When you pray for us, I ask you to pray that we will have the strength, the courage and the confidence to be who God created us to be. Also, please pray for the rest of the country and for the broader Church. Pray that their eyes will be opened and they will realize what they are missing when they embrace the worldly value of assimilation instead of celebrating the Kingdom value of diversity. For in the Kingdom of God every part of the body is unique and every member is necessary. It is only when the parts of the body are diverse that the body is able to function.
The sporting tectonic plates have shifted. America’s cultural diversification, increasingly globalized outlook, and widespread access to the Internet all have benefitted soccer more than the other more traditional American sports… The impact of these factors has been as powerful as they are simple. “Kids growing up today gain cachet and social currency by knowing about the sport,” Luker said. The old stigma has fallen away. Pride and esteem have become attached to the game for the first time as Americans have collectively undergone a “now we understand what it is all about” moment. It is only a matter of time ’til we see soccer take off in a big way.
5. The Hobbit
Yep, I’m really looking forward to this one around Christmastime.
Repaso is intended as a thought-provoking compilation of news and commentary from the past week related to the intersections of faith, development, justice and peace. As always, I welcome your thoughts on any of the links and ideas in this roundup!