Is Lent a Loser?

February 23rd, 2007

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Abstinence and charisma.
A recent Time magazine cover extolled Angelina Jolie’s “movie star charisma.” Barak Obama has been christened “The Democrats’ Charisma Doctor.” As his star rises, Hillary Clinton has seen her once formidable lead in several primary states shrink. At the beginning of 2007, several Democratic strategists urged Clinton to unleash a “charisma offensive” to counter the saturated media coverage that has helped propel Obama up the polls.1 Charisma has become the Holy Grail sought by many and bestowed on a fortunate few. It also explains why Lent has become a loser.

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Wealth and legacy.
Over the next 50 years, the United States will experience a massive intergenerational transfer of wealth, with the assets passing from one generation to another estimated at more than $40 trillion. For those on the giving or receiving end, it’s wise to remember Robert K. Merton’s influential 1936 article “The Unanticipated Consequences of Purposive Social Action.” Merton popularized the idea of unforeseen or unintended outcomes, which cannot always be avoided but might be alleviated.

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“We humbly suggest you consider doing… both.”
With a rapier wit that could devastate opponents in parliamentary debate, William Wilberforce was first elected to Parliament in 1780 at the age of twenty-one, along with his college friend William Pitt. Wilberforce understood what Germany chancellor Otto Von Bismarck keenly observed one-hundred years later – that laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.

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Studs and Sheetrock

February 2nd, 2007

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“Where’s Jesus?”
It’s not uncommon for well-meaning Christians to assume they must mention Jesus’ name and include a steady stream of Scripture in as many conversations as possible – or they have failed the Lord. When Christ’s name is not front and center, they ask: “Where’s Jesus?” One friend put it this way: “Christians talk funny.” Yet if faith is supposed to give strength, perhaps it’s better to imagine it as studs in the wall rather than sheetrock. This might help people of faith connect Sunday to Monday… and with their friends. It certainly accounts for the impressive success of William Wilberforce (1759-1833) and his Clapham England colleagues.

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