Austinomics

Where are the broken areas?

I often like to surf on Google Maps for no other reason than because I have a rather simple mind and I like to look at geography. I happened to be sliding around Dallas when I came across the Highland Park area and decided to go into the street view. The particular street I was on had a mixture of simple modest homes, and newly constructed behemoths. For whatever reason, that got me thinking: Where are the broken areas in the world? My good friend, Father Clint Wilson from St. Davids Church in Denton mentioned to me once that he intentionally moved into a broken area when he was starting a ministry in Denver, Colorado. I knew the “broken area” was a poor neighborhood because 1) There was a drive-by at his house (or close to it), and 2) Young priests often can’t afford to live in anywhere but lower to middle class neighborhoods. But now I am wondering, why do we always associate broken areas with poor, crime filled, neighborhoods? Could a rich, gated community not be just as broken? Christ often says it is very difficult for a rich man to get to heaven. Yet, I have not heard of any ministries targeted at the ultra-rich. Perhaps we assume that the area isn’t broken at all, because if they live in a gated community, there’s a good chance they’re probably giving some money away. But at the point when you’re living in a gated community, the extra surplus of wealth you have does not mean a whole lot to you (diminishing marginal utility). Christ makes this clear in Mark 12:43-44, “Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, I tell you the truth, this poor widow as put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything – all she had to live on.” As people of wealth will often tell you, “time is money”, I wonder what a ministry targeted at the rich would look like. Perhaps rich giving more time than money? It’s some food (preferably communion wafers) for thought.

In the Now

I am currently reading Present Perfect by Gregory Boyd. I love Greg Boyd’s writing style, because much like his other book, Myth of a Christian Nation, he never holds back and never beats around the bush. While I’m only about half-way through the book, I just want to write a quick blog post about some of his points.

The book is about “Finding God in the Now”… what does that mean? It means that we’re suppose to be surrendering our life to God right now. Being a Christian does not mean that at one time we surrendered our life, but rather the only life you have to surrender is the one you are living right now.  Gregory Boyd makes the analogy:

Think of it like a marriage. Thirty-one years ago I looked into my wife’s gorgeous eyes and pledged my life to her. But my pledge wasn’t itself the life I pledged to her. My pledge didn’t magically give us a good marriage. Rather, the actual life I pledged to my wife was the life I have lived each and every moment since I made that pledge. The only life I have to give to my wife is the life I live moment-by-moment. The quality of my marriage, therefore, isn’t derived by whether I made a pledge thirty-one years ago. It’s determined by how I live out that pledge now.  The same is true for our relationship with Christ. The important question is not, Did I once surrender my life to Christ? The important question is, Am I surrendered to Christ right now?

In a later chapter, Boyd also makes a great point that I had never thought of before: In life on earth, each passing moment means we are one moment closer to death. Yet, the one who is eternal Life invites us to participate in His life each and every moment. So by submitting your life to His right now are you really closer to death, or to life?

Soon to be graduates know it all; obviously.

For most colleges and universities, graduation ceremonies took place within the past two weeks. However, not all of them had a headline commencement speaker, thanks in part to student protests. Condoleeza Rice, who was scheduled to speak at Rutgers University graduation backed out amid student protests against her connections with the Iraq war. Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, was scheduled to speak at Smith College, but also had to back out amid student protests. These were just the first two in a long list of commencement speakers who have resigned the speech giving duty because they were not wanted.

While some would say good for the students to stand up for what they believe it, I would disagree. If you want to take a stand because you’re against the policies of Ms. Rice, or Ms. Lagarde, and you want to drive social change, putting duct tape over someone’s mouth isn’t going to do it. (At least not for the long-haul.) I would instead suggest actually listening to the speech, and if there is something you disagree with, use your shiny new degree and craft a well thought out, well researched opinion piece that stands in opposition.

Additionally, silencing those you disagree with reeks of egotism. New college graduates are known to think they know it all, only to be humbled six weeks after graduation when they still don’t have a job. What I’m trying to get at is this: The whole point of higher education is to expand your human, technical, and conceptual skills. Even if there is a teacher or speaker that you disagree with, can you still not learn from that person? How unfortunate for the graduates of these two universities that at the graduate’s last moments of higher education, instead of being filled with powerful words from some of the world’s greatest leaders, were instead regulated to a mediocre and generic speech instead.  One of my most influential professors, Dr. Mark Clark told me on the phone one time, “Don’t think you’re smart; the minute you think you’re smart, you stop learning and fall behind.” It is a common complaint among many businesses that current MBA graduates have a too narrowly focused education, and miss the “big picture”. These recent protests only add to that problem. I sincerely believe that you learn most from those you disagree with.

Economic Background of Christian Teaching

I had to recently write a paper for my history of economics class about either an economist or school of thought. I chose to do the economic background of Christian teaching and focus on the Austrian school of thought. My paper is below.

Abstract

The aim of this paper is first, to explore the economic conditions at the time of Jesus Christ, then to explore what Christ taught in relation to the economic conditions of the time. Lastly, the paper will discuss current economists that intertwine economics, Christianity, and morality.

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