Soulless "Enlightenment"

“What good is it for a man to gain the whole world and to forfeit his soul?” – Jesus

Thanks to the “Enlightenment,” the world is far better for us than it was for our ancestors in medieval times. That is the view of Harvard psychology professor Steven Pinker in his new book Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress.

On that point, he’s right. Despite the obvious problems in our times, Pinker gives credit to humanism, science, and reason for all the ways that life has improved since the 1700s. Specifics can be read in Pinker’s book, or in the February 10 issue of the Wall Street Journal (click on this link here).

However, Pinker insinuates that science and reason freed humankind from the chains of religion. “Our [Enlightened] ancestors replaced dogma, tradition and authority with reason, debate and institutions of truth-seeking,” Pinker writes.

This perspective is full of unfounded stereotypes. Progress in the quality of life had started long before the Enlightenment, and even before the “Renaissance.” As many historians have documented, it is a persistent misconception to assume that the Enlightenment “rescued” us from the so-called “Dark Ages.”

The "Dark Ages" were not dark. There is no doubt that the material quality of life today (statistically speaking, at least) is better than it was in medieval times. But the foundations of Enlightenment advances were largely built during Europe’s medieval era.

For example, let's look at what Pinker calls "institutions of truth-seeking." The West’s first universities were founded centuries before the Enlightenment. Oxford University was founded in 1096, about 600 years before the Enlightenment. Cambridge University was founded in 1209, and many more were founded all over Europe by the 1400s. Moreover, scholastics at these early universities formalized and institutionalized the scientific method (by its true definition). Some of the greatest scientists in history—most of whom believed in God—worked during the medieval period.

(For a list of scholarly books that document medieval science and universities, click here.) 

Had all this not happened, would there have been an "Enlightenment"? And why did so much progress occur in Europe and not in other, more ancient parts of the world?

One necessary factor was Europe's predominant worldview: theism, belief in God. That filled the soul of medieval progress in the West. Scriptural monotheism, says historian Rodney Stark, inspired many prominent medieval scholars, educators, and scientific leaders to discover the world scientifically. Others, motivated by the biblical call to “love your neighbor,” sought to innovate new technologies and services that could reduce hardship and improve life. These people embraced reason and pursued truth as an expression of their devout belief in God. Faith and reason went hand-in-hand.

The medieval period was a vibrant time, full of learning, scientific advances, new technologies. It cannot rightly be called the “Dark Ages.” The “Renaissance” was not a “new birth,” and the “Enlightenment” did not free us from chains and a dungeon. The material improvements in life that emerged during the Enlightenment are more accurately seen as an ongoing extension of what started in Europe during the medieval era.

Pinker also overlooks a deeper, theological and philosophical question. He frames “progress” within the scope of material well-being—reduced wars, increased wealth, longer life-spans, etc. These are good measures for life, but they are perhaps too narrow.

Let’s say that we continue to reduce crime, heal illnesses, increase prosperity, and advance peace. We all want that. The Scriptures say that God loves the world and wants to restore what is broken. So, from a Scriptural point of view, these pursuits are spiritual and eternally meaningful.

But Jesus asks one simple question that compels us to think about our well-being in far broader terms than Pinker’s.

“What good is it to gain the whole world if we lose our souls?” he asked.

In other words, can a real “Enlightenment” be soulless?

Kicking the Can (of National Debt) to the Kids

If you were in your early 20s, just starting your career, would you want your parents to toss you a debt bomb? Would you want to pay the tab of your parents’ spending spree?

And yet, on the level of macro-economics, that is what my generation is doing to millennials. 

As the graphs below demonstrate, my generation's addiction to debt is severe and non-partisan. The top graph shows the total gross debt trend (dark line) since 1940 to today. Starting in the early 1980s, Americans have almost constantly increased the national debt. Prior to 1980, debt levels declined slightly or stayed flat.

The second graph shows the U.S. debt in relation to Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This is how much we over-spend in relation to how much we earn. We see that the debt-to-GDP ratio is getting close to what it was during the height of World War II. Importantly, the high debt-to-GDP ratio in the mid-1940s was caused by a major global war. You can understand why the debt went up so much during that era. But is there a moral purpose to explain the debt addiction of 1980 to today?

Soure: U.S. Congressional Budget Office

Soure: U.S. Congressional Budget Office

Also notice that the debt-to-GDP ratio fell almost without fail—regardless of which political party was in power—from the post-war period to the end of Jimmy Carter’s presidency in 1980 (the year I graduated from high school). This indicates that the generation of my parents and grandparents had significant self-restraint. They sought to provide a better fiscal future for their children and grandchildren.

And what has my generation done with this sacrificial gift? Notice that from 1980 to the present day—regardless of which political party was and is currently in power—the debt-to-GDP ratio has skyrocketed, with the exception of a brief reduction in the late 1990s.

The numbers tell a moral story. As a nation, my generation (boomer and Gen-X) has given little consideration to the future well-being of our children and grandchildren. We’re spending now and forcing them to pay the bill.

It’s no use blaming “the other party” for this. The problem is spiritual, and it runs through every political party and every human heart.

Love your neighbor as yourself. In national economics, as at home, that moral standard will unavoidably require sacrifice—a spirit of selflessness. Unless we restore in economics a selfless ethos, our children and grandchildren will bear the consequences of our moral failures.

Essential Books on the History of Innovation

Innovation and entrepreneurship have nothing to do with belief in God, right? That's the common viewpoint today. And yet the Scriptures begin with, “In the beginning, God created . . .”

For this reason, Global Commerce Network will soon be launching a new book titled The Entrepreneurial God. Written by Donald McGilchrist, a GCN co-founder and former business executive in England, this study guide leads us through the Scriptures that help us see God as the supreme entrepreneur, the grand role model that today's entrepreneurs would do well to follow.

We’ll write more about this book as soon as it is published. For now, we would like to recommend several books that document the many ways that rational belief in God has motivated and shaped innovation. Contrary to what most people learn in school, that religion threw mankind into the “Dark Ages,” these books will help you discover how men and women with devout belief in God improved art, law, medicine, universities, science, and technology.

For the Glory of God

Written by Baylor University professor Rodney Stark, this book published by Princeton University Press in 2003 has four chapters, each about 150 pages. The entire book is brilliant, but the second chapter pertains most to innovation; it is about the rise of science and the first universities. Stark “shows that . . . theological assumptions unique to Christianity explain why science was born only in Christian Europe. Contrary to received wisdom, religion and science not only were compatible; they were inseparable.” As you read this provocative chapter, you’ll enjoy learning about a litany of innovations that revolutionized the world.

How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization

Published in 2005, this book by Thomas E. Woods Jr. (Ph.D. Columbia University) has one chapter on how a Christian worldview spawned European universities and science. Woods also provides chapters on the foundational influence of the Scriptures on advances in art, architecture, international law, economics, and ethics. He concludes with a compelling chapter on what the future might hold for societies that abandon a scriptural worldview.

From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life

Jacques Barzun, a New York Times bestselling author, published this epic history of art, literature, science, music, and innovation in 2000 (HarperCollins). As the title suggests, Barzun traces a Western civilization that he believes is in decline, a trend that coincides with the rise of secularism. The past five hundred years, says Barzun, is characterized by seeing “no clear lines of advance,” and the difficulty in seeing “possibility.” He says we live in a time when “art and life seem exhausted.” Whether you agree or disagree with Barzun’s assessments, the book provides a rich history about how changing worldviews and moral values influence—for better or worse—innovation in nearly every aspect of culture.

The Book that Made Your World

One unique quality of this book is that it was written by an Indian who studied in Hindu ashrams before his intellectual search for truth led him to a Christian worldview. As a non-Westerner, author Vishal Mangalwadi has a remarkable capacity to see how the Scriptures have helped people in the West to flourish in daily life. Published in 2011, his book documents how the Bible has influenced education and reason; technologies that improve living conditions; the spirituality of economics and efforts to combat poverty; advances in medicine; and notions of freedom.

In all these books, there is a common thread. The scriptural ideal of “love your neighbor” has provided both the motivating force and the ethical framework for innovations that have dramatically improved our world.

The Dangers of Disruption

Read the business and political news and you will frequently see the word “disruption.” Sometimes the term is used in its classic sense, as in the following weather headline:

“Chaos on Roads and Railways As Gales and Snow Cause Major Disruption.”

In this case, disruption is something that upends order and stability, creates chaos, increases hardships, and generates uncertainty.

But, in business contexts, the word “disruption” is often seen as something cool and necessary for “progress.” It’s deemed legit under the assumption that anything new is always better than anything old, which C.S. Lewis called “chronological snobbery.”

For example, here’s a couple of lines from a recent business news article: “‘Disruption’ is all the rage these days. Every brand out there is looking for the next technology or innovation that will change the way we do business, redefine categories, and decimate the competition.”

Embedded in this quote are the following values: any change is good, redefining categories is automatically better than the status quo, and leaving no survivors is a virtue.

This type of “disruption” has deep roots in some branches of Western philosophy. Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) believed that people should abandon all traditions, social ties, and moral frameworks so that they could be free to create themselves. It is radical individualism.

A contemporary expression of Rousseau’s philosophy is postmodernism, which says there are no morals or truth beyond what people fabricate in the mind. Traditions and older ways of doing things have little value because they are just old fabrications. The goal is to invent a new reality that pleases the self. Postmodern writer Richard Rorty stated, “Truth is made, not found.”

Wittingly or not, popular uses of the term “disruption” are sometimes based on postmodern assumptions: A) We should overturn traditional ways of doing things so that B) we can invent new realities that liberate the self, and that C) this can be done without regard for moral frameworks, which are just old human inventions anyway.

This type of disruption introduces at least three dangers.

First, without an absolute moral framework to guide technological change, today's default goal is “whatever works.” The “whatever works” mentality gives little or no consideration to long-term social impacts of a technology. It only values the immediate returns on investment for those who are invested.

Second, if the goal of “disruptive” technologies is to “decimate the competition” so that one company can dominate the market, are we not talking about mere greed?

Third, as Hannah Arendt wrote, disruption separates each generation from its connection to the past. This leaves young people disconnected from the wisdom and lessons of history, which in turn can make it harder for them to understand their own places in the world. Constant, rapid change leaves everyone in angst, without a sense of lasting purpose or historical identity.

The Scriptures encourage innovation and technological improvement. But as business leaders, we need to recognize a distinction between “disruption”—shaking things up like a bull in a china shop—and “innovation.”

The Latin for “innovation” is related to the word “renew.” Thus, innovation conveys a goal of restoring what has been broken. It is constructive change motivated by love and compassion, not greed and self-interest. We need entrepreneurs who innovate products and services that meet real needs, improve life, and create wealth. Innovation values the past without worshiping the past. 

To see an example of one such business, we encourage you to visit the website of Primary Mobile Med International (www.primarymobilemed.com).

When Distrust Goes Viral

In 1919, the Chicago White Sox and the Cincinnati Reds played a nine-game World Series that illustrates what happens when business and political leaders lack integrity.

The 1919 Chicago White Sox

The 1919 Chicago White Sox

Numerous players on Chicago’s team agreed to accept large bribes from gamblers to throw the series and lose. Indeed, the Reds won and the gamblers took home a fortune. The full story can be reviewed in the Ken Burns documentary on the history of baseball.

As a result of the corruption in the sport, which was already a national pastime in America, distrust went viral. No one could trust the game. No one knew when a game was fair or foul. Across the two major leagues, attendance at stadiums plummeted. Teams lost huge sums of money, even when they were completely honest.

Worse yet was what the corruption did to young boys who looked up to baseball stars as role models. Kenesaw Mountain Landis, a federal judge who in 1920 was hired as the first baseball commissioner to attempt to restore trust in the game, eloquently conveyed the impact on kids in this statement: 

“Baseball is something more than a game to an American boy,” Landis said. “It is his training field for life work. Destroy his faith in its squareness and honesty and you have destroyed something more—you have planted suspicion of all things in his heart.”

The same outcome happens when business leaders and politicians, for selfish gain and power, lie and cheat. Distrust goes viral. And when “suspicion of all things” is in our hearts, little parts of society die. Soon widespread distrust causes the breakdown of commerce, the erosion of community, and the atomization of individuals.

What happens on the baseball field doesn’t stay on the baseball field.

A Facebook Fallacy

In years past, people often wrote about their lives in private diaries. The idea was to capture the true self through written introspection.

Today we share our diaries on social media platforms, such as Facebook. These storylines are usually not as personal as a private diary, but posting on social media requires extensive introspection. We must consider what to share, how to present ourselves to the world, what to hide. And we wonder, constantly, how many “friends” will like us.

Unlike diaries in the past, our diaries today on social media are commercialized. We hand over our personal information to mega-businesses whose leaders use this information to sell targeted advertising. We are the targets, the objects of commerce. More than two billion people post on Facebook each month. The world apparently believes that giving private information to large advertising agencies is worthwhile.

But there is a deeper issue. What if the commerce of hyper-introspection hurts us?

Back in 1957, Swiss psychiatrist Paul Tournier wrote a classic book titled The Meaning of Persons (Harper & Row). He delves into to the dynamics between the “personage” and the “person.” The former is the external appearance of a person—the face. The personage is what we present to the world.

Tournier spent his life engaging with people who longed to be authentic. They didn’t want to feel like fakes. Their personages bothered them. They wanted to be real. So, some tried diaries as a method of knowing themselves. But that failed.

“Introspection does not throw any sure light on oneself,” writes Tournier. “Self-examination is an exhausting undertaking. The mind becomes so engrossed in it that it loses its normal capacity for relationship with the world and with God.”

Is social media causing this to happen today? Even Facebook’s executive leaders have admitted that social media can cause emotional disturbances. One former Facebook executive, Chamath Palihapitiya. said he felt “tremendous guilt,” about the social media he helped design because it is addictive and is "ripping apart" society (The Washington Post, December 15, 2017).

By focusing people perpetually on themselves, social media elevates the personage and suppresses the person. Authentic relationships can become difficult to develop. Tournier wrote about this in 1957. Jesus said the same thing centuries earlier: “Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39).

The more we focus on ourselves, the more we lose our lives. The more we focus on the needs of others, the more life and joy we gain.

Unfortunately, some of the biggest companies in the world have shaped commerce in ways that don’t fit with who were made to be.

The Apostle Paul and the Corporate Tax Cut

Conservative columnist Peggy Noonan, in the December 21, 2017 issue of The Wall Street Journal offers a compelling perspective on the recent corporate tax cut. It could have been written by the Apostle Paul.

Noonan, a winner of the Pulitzer Prize who worked as a speechwriter for President Ronald Reagan, rightly sees the new tax law as giving more financial freedom to corporate leaders in the U.S.—freedom from government control over profits. She also raises a critical question:

What will corporate leaders do with this freedom?

The question of how to use freedom is usually harder to answer than attaining it. But the choice necessarily requires character and spiritual health. Noonan, in her article, asserts that corporate leaders today face a choice between selfishness or statesmanship.

“Big corporations can take the gift of the tax cut . . . and do superficial, pleasing public relations sort of things, while really focusing on buying back stock and upping shareholder profits,” she writes. “Or they could set themselves to saving the system that made them, and helping the country that made their lives possible. They can in some new way see themselves as citizens—as members of America, as people with a stake in this nation, a responsibility for it.”

Making the point that a new generation of workers leans heavily toward the political left, Noonan argues that business leaders must jettison selfishness and use their new freedoms to invest in the nation; to show that capitalism, when it is guided by moral principle and love of neighbor, can do more to bring “peace and prosperity” (the shalom mentioned in Jeremiah 29) than government overreach. This, she says, will require corporate leaders and shareholders to rethink their worldview.

“Wall Street once had statesmen; it wasn’t dominated by dumb quarterly-report jockeys. Shareholders were assumed to be patriots, and grateful ones, because they had so profited from the luck of being born here, into a system where the quick and sturdy could go from nothing to everything,” Noonan writes.

What did the Apostle Paul say on this matter? In his letter to the Galatians, Paul calls us to use freedom for noble purposes rather than selfishness. “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”  

If business leaders exclude integrity, truth, and love from commerce—if selfishness prevails over statesmanship—we should not be surprised if socialist trends gain force.

Christmas and the Swamp

The Scriptures present a four-chapter story. It starts with God’s original designs for life. The next chapter is tragic, the story of how in pride we pursued autonomy from God, leading to distortions in every area of life. The third chapter is about God’s ongoing effort to renew and restore the brokenness we caused. And the climax of the story is about the ultimate hope of eternity.

Christmas is primarily about the third chapter—the restoration of our relationships with God and the renewal of a broken world. What does this chapter mean to work, business and commerce?

We get a pre-Incarnation glimpse of this meaning in a message that Jeremiah sent to the Jewish exiles during the brutal Babylonian regime. Although the Babylonians were Israel's enemies, Jeremiah tells the exiles to restore, serve, and build up the Babylonian culture and economy. In other words, love your enemy.

“Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare” (Jeremiah 29:7). Other versions use the phrase “seek the peace and prosperity” of the city.

This message of economic and social restoration is also modeled by God in the Incarnation. The coming of Christ shows us that God wants to improve the world, to invest in its future, to heal its wounds. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:17).

Despite this profound statement, many people today are talking about “draining the swamp.” There is a place for removing corruption, of course; but the phrase carries a couple of theological dangers.

First, it implies that society’s problems are caused solely by some other group, abstractly called “the swamp.” In this way, the “non-swamp” people can cast blame and avoid responsibility. Meanwhile, Paul said: “None is righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). If Paul were around today, he might say that we are all swamp people.

The second danger of the phrase is that it conveys nothing of God’s heart to rebuild the world. Draining problems down the sewer is reductive, not constructive. The latter is much more difficult—and meaningful. 

Christmas has two meanings for us as business professionals who are members of the human “swamp.” First, we can be grateful that Christmas is not about “draining” us away, but about redeeming us from our failures and rebuilding our lives. 

Second, Christmas is a call for us to participate with God in using our professions to renew our workplaces, our communities, and even our economies. Our professions are meaningful as part of God's eternal story. 

So, perhaps this Christmas will be a reminder to confess our swampiness, and by God’s grace, to play an active role in improving our world.

Leadership Without Character?

In our most recent Work Matters article, we pointed out how difficult and destructive it is for business leaders and professionals to live with a relativistic, postmodern worldview that has no regard for truth. 

Let’s carry this discussion a step further by asking this critical question: Can a leader run a company effectively when he or she has significant integrity problems? 

Yes and no. 

On the yes side of the coin, a leader who disregards integrity and truth can carry out his or her functions. Just as a machinist who has cheated on his wife can run a drill press, the business leader can send emails, hold meetings, fire and hire people, make long-range strategy decisions—you know, go through the motions. He or she can function.

The no side of the coin, however, is understood when we recognize that business and commerce are based entirely on relationships. Here, the question of a leader’s personal integrity is vital. 

There are two types of leader dynamics in professional relationships. The first is characterized as positional authority. The president of a company, for example, has power to impose decisions on employees and constituents. In most cases, the underlings will obey, if for no other reason than to keep their jobs. 

The other type of leadership is authority characterized by authentic respect. In this case, the leader has consistently demonstrated such strong character, integrity, humility, service and dedication that his team and employees genuinely respect his leadership. They don't just obey him; they trust and admire him. As a result of his sincere commitment to good character, he naturally wins the enthusiasm and dedication of his team. 

It should be obvious which type of leadership will produce a better outcome for the business, for the employees, and for the leader. 

Therefore, a leader who attempts to suppress serious personal integrity problems runs a high risk of eventual public failure. Why? The first reason is that the absence of integrity will kill the trust between people, trust that is essential to advance the business's mission. The business leader might have a great agenda and vision, but why should the employees and managers entrust that noble agenda to a person who lies, cheats, bullies and abuses people? If there is no trust between the leader and the team, a company slowly decays.

Here's a second reason that postmodern leaders are likely to fail: They lack what C.S. Lewis called “a chest.” Lewis said that people without a strong commitment to moral truth and personal integrity have no “chests,” the strong heart and soul that enables someone to lead. Sure, such a leader might display bravura and a loud persona (perhaps to cover over his inner weakness). But failure to address private integrity problems erodes the soul and weakens the spirit. This type of leader must walk daily through a field of relational landmines, guilt and denial. He must expend his emotional energy to fabricate a façade designed to promote his public image. The result is spiritual exhaustion and depression, or anger and rage.

People today are asking an underlying question: What role does private integrity play in public leadership? Can the two be separated? 

This is a crux moment in our history. The stakes are high—for our businesses, our teams, our communities, our families, and even the well-being of our own souls.

How to Be a Postmodern Business Leader

You may not want to become a postmodern professional, but if you do, this article might help you make a reasoned decision.

Postmodernism asserts that there is no absolute truth (moral or otherwise). Adherents to postmodernism say that “truth” is an invention of the mind. As Frederich Nietzsche, the nineteenth century postmodern writer said, “There are no facts, only interpretations.”

More recently, postmodern philosopher Michel Foucault said: “History is fiction.” He also said that all “knowledge” is nothing more than fabricated “truth” designed to control other people. Therefore, people should use information to “win the game” for themselves.

Let’s apply this worldview to business. It has significant pragmatic advantages. First, because “moral truth” is fluid and made up, you are entitled to spin a story that will help you win. Lie all you want because truth matters not. Your public relations team, as you can see, is vital to your success. So is your social media image. A “creative” accountant will help too.

Second, because morality is fabricated by the mind, you are free to shut personal integrity in the closet. You can disconnect your private life (especially the so-called “sins”) from your professional advancement. Don’t worry about private “morals,” which really have no bearing on your ability to be a leader; worry about winning.

This freedom to pursue personal gain comes with some costs. One price you will pay is living with a divided soul. By disconnecting your private “integrity” from your professional life, you will experience inner fragmentation. Although you might wish for peace and wholeness, to win the game you must be willing to juggle the story of your private life and the story of your public life. As a result, there will be painful moments when you aren’t sure which “truth” to believe about yourself. This is a normal pain that can be numbed by an extremely busy agenda.

Another downside of being a postmodern leader is relational isolation, the lack of authentic intimacy. The people in your inner circle (close business partners, family, friends) will usually know about your private reality, and among them trust in you will decrease, leaving you more alone. However, most of your business connections will only see the public image. And since your goal is “winning the game,” they are the ones who matter most.

For increased peace during distracting moments of inner turmoil and loneliness, train yourself to think positive thoughts. There are many books on the market that can help you do this. And remember: “truth” is invented in the mind. You’re only as bad as you think you are.

A warning: It is extremely difficult for postmodern business leaders to sustain peace and relational health. Many start to crack as the soul rots. A prominent Old Testament king named David serves as an example of this struggle. In one occasion, David says he attempted to keep his private “sins” hidden from public view, but the stress took a toll on him. He wrote: “For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer” (Psalm 32:3-4).

In another occasion, David followed his lust and used his power to have sex with a married woman. To hide the “sin,” he sent her husband to his death on the front lines of a war. This containment strategy was well-plotted. It allowed him to tarry forth with a positive public image. David eventually caved in to soul stress this time, too. You can read his confession in Psalm 51.

David’s humility and transparency no doubt gave him inner peace. But as a postmodern business leader, your goal is not inner peace; it’s to advance your agenda. If you can’t be stronger than David, you might be better off finding a different philosophy, or perhaps a theology that includes a cross.

Michelangelo’s Struggle with the Meaning of Work

Nearly everyone knows that Michelangelo (1475-1564) was one of the great sculptors and painters of all time. As an artist, he reached the pinnacle. And yet, near the end of his life, in 1555, he angrily mutilated his sculpture titled the Florentine Pietá, perhaps because he found his life’s work to be pointless. 

Michelangelo sculpted his first Pietá to show Mary holding her dead son, Jesus, in her lap. But later he sculpted the Florentine Pietá. This second sculpture displays a crucified Jesus dropping from the cross as his friend Nicodemus, his mother Mary, and Mary Magdalene try to wrestle his limp body to the ground. It is a powerful, anguished sculpture. 

A closer look at the sculpture shows multiple fractures in Jesus’s arms. One also notices that Jesus’s left leg is missing. This sculpture is the only known work by Michelangelo to have been destroyed by the artist himself. Although another sculptor repaired as much as possible, the visible cracks are, like scars, a reminder of the artist's violent, agonizing attack against his own work. 

It is not possible to say for sure what inner turmoil caused Michelangelo to destroy the Florentine Pietá. British Historian Paul Johnson, in his book Art: A New History, documents one possible explanation, namely that the Italian artist was simply a perfectionist with a short fuse. 

“It is no use arguing that Michelangelo suffered from some sickness of the soul,” writes Johnson (p. 243-244). “He was often angry with himself, as well as with others. He was quarrelsome. . . . He seems to us an isolated figure . . . his heart empty of consummated love, his only competitor and measuring mark the Deity Himself.” 

A complementary view is offered by art and architecture writer Catesby Leigh in the December 2017 issue of First Things (p. 16-17). Leigh found that Michelangelo wrote a confessional sonnet at the same time he was working on the destroyed Florentine Pietá. In the sonnet, Michelangelo frankly states that he had turned his profession into an idol—and that it left him empty.

So that finally I see
How wrong the fond illusion was
That made art my idol and my king,
Leading me to want what harmed me . . .
 
. . . Let neither painting nor carving any longer calm
My soul turned to that divine love
Who to embrace us opened his arms upon the cross.

Was Michelangelo symbolically destroying his idol (his profession as an artist)? Does the ending of the sonnet indicate a peaceful turn to God?

Again, we can’t say for sure. But in an age when most people derive personal worth and meaning from professional life, Michelangelo’s sonnet is an important reminder that work was never designed by God to be our ultimate goal in life. Rather, work is a gift from God, enabling us to serve others and serve God. 

Work is a means, not an end.

How to Make a Prisoner Cry

GCN often writes about today’s impersonal workplace culture, seeking practical ways to bring about change. We can learn a lot from a prison dentist and nurse.

One of the dentist’s patients, a former gang leader and violent offender, came in for a tooth extraction. The dentist, who is a close friend of mine, started out by checking the prisoner’s blood pressure. It was high. She asked if he had been taking his medication.

“No,” said the patient with an air of bravado. “I don’t need that. I’m a gang leader. I’m not weak.” 

My friend, a soft-spoken woman with a compassionate heart, has learned to see the underlying pain and suffering behind the strong facades of prisoners. She knew that, in fact, this prisoner was weak and broken. His bravado was just a persona. 

She replied to the prisoner by saying, “You know, if you don’t take your medication and then you have a stroke, you might not be able to talk or walk. And if you end up in a wheelchair, do you think that your fellow gang members are going to think you’re strong?”

She paused. The prisoner looked down. Then she added in a quiet voice, “Not only that, your life is valuable. You need to take care of yourself because you are valuable human being.” 

Tears welled up in the prisoner’s eyes. “No one has ever said that to me before.”

Another patient, who had only been in prison for a week or two, showed up in the clinic terrified and shaking. He wasn’t just nervous about dental treatment; he was fearful of what might happen to him in prison. He couldn’t speak English and so had no way to express his concerns. 

My dentist friend sat him in the chair and spoke to him in Spanish. All she had to do was to ask him, in his own language, why he was so fearful. Hearing his own language, he immediately calmed down and started to share his fears. My friend was able to orient him in prison life, easing his anxieties.

Then there’s the prison nurse Francesca (not her real name). In addition to her normal nursing duties, she provides special care for diabetic prisoners with neuropathy in their feet by—get this—washing their feet and trimming their toenails. After receiving a small dose of gentle care, the prisoners often leave in tears. 

Most of us don’t work with convicted criminals. But many of these men in jail share a common plight with us: the lack of personal care and love, the absence of true friendship, the experience of being devalued. 

In the Scriptures, which were written in cruel and impersonal times, we find Jesus taking extraordinary steps to be personal with those who were broken, sick, marginalized. He helped the lepers, the insane, the prostitutes, the refugees, the hated tax collectors. As the culture dehumanized people, Jesus injected love and hope. 

As this dentist and nurse demonstrate, we professionals who work in cubicles rather than prison cells can take simple steps to love people in personal ways. It just requires a new mindset—to stop thinking about ourselves, to pay attention to the needs of others, and to serve them. 

We might find our colleagues struggling to hold back tears.

Mental Rest for the Info Age

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The Scriptures are packed with principles about the holiness of rest—physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. When they were written, economies were driven mostly by manual labor, so perhaps the body needed rest more than the mind. Today, economies are increasingly information driven. More people need mental rest, which is why going to the gym for a grueling workout is considered "taking a break."

Here’s a few practical ways you can find more mental rest. For whatever it’s worth, I’ve taken all these steps, and my life is remarkably better.

Cancel Your TV Service

Do you really need cable news? Before the JFK assassination in 1963, the nightly TV news program lasted 15 minutes. Today, TV news producers have to fill the 24-hour news cycle with something. They can’t compile enough hard news to fill that amount of time. So, what we get is increasing doses of opinion from bickering pundits and spin masters. (Walter Cronkite would never have blended opinion with news.) The punditry is followed by long stretches of repetitive commercials selling catheters, pillows, junk food, and medications.

Beyond the removal of constant jabber from your home and mind, canceling your TV service will increase mental and emotional peace in many other ways. First is the cost savings. By not having TV, I save about $100 per month, or $1200 per year. Think of what you could do with $1200 to invest in relationships or in your community with that amount of money. Which expenditure will make your life better?

Second is the time savings. Americans watch between one and three hours per day (on average) of TV news, or about 730 hours per year, which is equal to an entire month of soaking your mind and soul in quarrels and commercials. That’s one-twelfth of your life (roughly).

I don’t recommend disconnecting from world affairs. As a more healthy, intellectual, and peaceful substitute for TV news, I recommend that you subscribe to several reputable newspapers. Newspapers do a better job of separating news from opinion, clearly labeling each section. Although good reporters and editors strive for factual accuracy (and often get fired if they fail), there’s always some bias. So subscribe to two or three papers that represent an array of political leanings. This will help you stay out of the echo chamber of one-sided viewpoints. I enjoy the great reporting and writing in the Wall St. Journal (right-leaning), the New York Times (left-leaning), and my local paper to keep tabs on my town. All three cost me about $40 per month.

For a restful mind, the advantages of newspapers are many. A daily paper won’t scream at you. Newspapers are quiet. You can choose the stories you want to read. Reading helps build concentration capacity, whereas TV’s visual stimulation makes it harder to think. A newspaper allows you—invites you—to think slowly and deeply about what’s presented.

As for watching sports? I go to a neighborhood pub, invite a friend, and have a beer. It’s more social. Day-after game analysis and sports news is better in a newspaper. Great sports writers are masters with language. The day after game five of the World Series, during which the Astros and Dodgers scored a whopping 25 runs in a marathon game, Washington Post writer Thomas Boswell wrote this:

The most lasting memory of this game will be the sounds of pain coming from poor innocent baseballs being clubbed by huge men swinging whaling-boat oars.

Which is better, reading that great writing or listening to a TV reporter ask a player, “How did losing that game make you feel?”

Abandon Social Media

According to a 2016 New York Times report, Americans spend on average nearly one hour per day on Facebook. If you add in the other social media platforms, that amount of time nearly doubles. So, here we are again, spending about one month of every year looking at a screen (in addition to the other month we spend watching TV catheter commercials and bickering pundits).

Why does social media stress our minds? There is no metanarrative, no purposeful or unifying story. (The same is true for TV.) Think of each social media post as a puzzle piece that doesn’t belong to a bigger picture. Social media fills our minds with thousands of puzzle pieces that don’t fit a bigger picture. Moreover, because social media is unmoderated and unedited (i.e. zero accountability), it’s especially hard to know what is true or false in that realm.

This is spiritually and mentally draining. One wonders why we continue to support these forms of media. Created in the image of a personal and rational God, we are not wired for disconnected factoids; we’re wired for meaning and purpose.

There are more restful, peaceful substitutes for staying connected with friends and family. The best approach, of course, is face-to-face. But when that isn’t possible, phone and Skype calls are a great option. And then there’s letter writing (a lost art form). Or you can send email with photos attached. Another great approach is to set up your own free blog. Free services like WordPress offer beautiful templates you can use to share news and photos with friends. 

Start or End Your Day Reading a Book

The two-to-four hours a day you save by not watching TV and by not scrolling through social media burps can be used to invest in mental rest. Beyond getting outside to breathe, beyond spending time with friends, you’ll have more time to wake up 30 minutes earlier to read something spiritually enriching. If you’re not a morning person, like me, try reading in the evenings. A book with a cup of coffee will bring rest to your soul and mind.

Here’s to more rest.

The Loneliness Epidemic and Work

Two recent studies once again demonstrate the desperate need for improving workplace relationships, which is ultimately a deeply spiritual matter.

The first was published in the September 2017 issue of Harvard Business Review by the former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy. Titled “Work and the Loneliness Epidemic,” the essay reports that over 40 percent of all Americans and over half of CEOs feel lonely. He adds that the high rates of loneliness in America are causing serious health problems.

“We live in the most technologically connected age in the history of civilization, yet rates of loneliness have doubled since the 1980s,” Murthy writes. “In the workplace, new models of working — such as telecommuting and some on-demand 'gig economy' contracting arrangements — have created flexibility but often reduce the opportunities for in-person interaction and relationships. And even working at an office doesn’t guarantee meaningful connections: People sit in an office full of coworkers, even in open-plan workspaces, but everyone is staring at a computer or attending task-oriented meetings where opportunities to connect on a human level are scarce.”

Murthy argues that business leaders can and should play a vital role in changing workplace cultures as a means of combatting loneliness. This, he says, is because we spend most of our waking hours at work.

The second study reveals that 71 percent of American workers are so dissatisfied with their work that they are looking for new jobs. This survey of 17,000 people from 19 industries, conducted by the nonprofit group Mental Health America and the Faas Foundation, found that several factors are causing this problem. Chief among them was poor workplace relationships.

“. . . 44 percent believe that they are “always or often” overlooked. Sixty-four percent say their supervisors don’t give them enough support and a majority of the participants are resentful of their co-workers. So much for teamwork,” writes Washington Post journalist Gene Marks about the survey.

These studies are published at a time when our news is filled with reports of rampant sexual abuse in the workplace, making the lives of professional women a nightmare. Clearly, there is a lot of work to do to renew workplace cultures.

Global Commerce Network has published numerous articles and books about the need to restore a scriptural worldview of work. Healthy relationships are at the heart of God’s design for life and work. Business leaders would do well to take a fresh look at the scriptural foundations for healthy relationships, and to integrate this theology with work.

Two GCN resources published for this purpose are titled Working Together and Why People Matter, both of which can be purchased on Amazon. For a quick read about practical ways to improve workplace relationships, we suggest this GCN article titled “Toward a More Personal Workplace.”

Reclaiming Friendship in Commerce

In Oxford, in England, in the first half of the 1900s, a group of literary geniuses including J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis met regularly in Lewis’s rooms at Magdalen College and in a smoky pub called the Eagle and Child. They ate, drank beer, smoked pipes and, collectively, found ways to shape culture through their books.

Often overlooked, but equally important, they forged a deep and lasting friendship. As I read about this group, known as the Inklings, their friendship conjures within me a longing to recreate what they had. Perhaps that longing is not only valid and worth pursuing; perhaps it is at the heart of what makes life and work meaningful.

The Inklings lived through World War I and II. England was devastated by both. Oxford University, in World War I, was emptied of students and filled with cots, nurses, doctors and wounded soldiers. Hit hard by war, the Inklings’ friendship was born as a means of upholding one another and restoring hope.

“The Inklings were, to a man—and they were all men—comrades who had been touched by war, who viewed life through the lens of war, yet who looked for home and found it, in fellowship, where so many other writers and intellectuals saw only broken narratives, disfigurement, and despair,” write Philip and Carol Zaleski in their book about the Inklings (The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 2015, p. 9).

Although today we in America do not face bombardment or the loss of millions of soldiers, we nevertheless live in a world filled with “broken narratives,” the struggle to find a meaningful story to our lives, and sometimes “despair,” evidenced by rampant drug abuse, anxiety and suicide. There appears to be another type of war ravaging our day, a war on the soul.

This state of affairs should not surprise us. Commerce has been sapped of its meaning by “Enlightenment” materialism. People are pushed to compete rather than collaborate. Our margin of time and money is thin. Media promotes the mere illusion of social. Suburban sprawl and strip malls seem designed to isolate neighbors from one another. The ultimate pursuit of our times--the self--makes it hard to find fellowship.

The Inklings shared academic and literary vocations. And around that common interest they bonded closely with one another. They integrated their work with friendship. Downing pints and puffing pipes, they critiqued each other’s writing and contemplated how fantasy novels could convey spiritual truth. Their friendship infused their work with joy and improved the quality of the work beyond measure. 

We can learn from the Inklings. Business professionals, in small settings, can become better leaders, better entrepreneurs, and find greater joy in work if we will give friendship priority in our lives. So, let us plant a seed in your mind. How might you integrate fellowship with your profession?

Back to Plato

Modern men and women assume that our culture is making “progress,” even though few know what they mean by the term “progress.” But is it possible that we are regressing, as in back to Plato? When it comes to our views of work today, one could argue that our culture is quite platonic.

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To make our point, take a look at the masterpiece painting titled The School of Athens, by Raphael (shown here). In the center of the painting, you’ll notice two men, one on the left (Plato) with his hand pointing up and the other on the right (Aristotle) with his hand pointing down. 

Plato believed that life’s meaning was found in the invisible realm of otherworldly “ideals,” so he points up. Aristotle gave more value to the material world, so he points down. Shown together, they depict a worldview division that continues to influence our views of work today. 

The otherworldly Plato valued work of the mind—philosophy, poetry, the writing of laws, politics. Moreover, he devalued manual labor and people who worked with their hands. To be a farmer, according to Plato, was to live a life of meaningless punishment. He even disdained business professionals. “In a well-governed city,” Plato wrote in his book Republic, “the citizens should not work as artisans or shop owners because such a life is without dignity and hostile to character development.” 

In regard to our views of work, Plato’s view is prominent today. We tend to devalue the work of manual laborers and elevate information and knowledge workers. Plato’s value system can be seen as we choose to use computers to move our lives into “the cloud,” a phrase that has a nice, heavenly ring to it. Robotics and artificial intelligence now threaten to take over more manual labor (self-driving trucks?) than mechanization did during the Industrial Revolution.

So we wonder: Why carve wood with your hands when you can program a computer to run a 3D printer? 

This shift back to Plato has occurred within one or two generations. Irish writer John Waters notes this rapid change in his own family. 

“With both my parents emerging from long lines of small farmers, I was the first male from either side to end up in sedentary work. . . . My father was a self-taught carpenter, electrician, draughtsman, and mechanic. He had green fingers and calloused palms; my hand remains as crushed velvet. . . . Now, here I was, a pen pusher for life . . .” (First Things, August/September 2017, p. 34). 

We at GCN hope we don’t fall under Plato's spell. To avoid that curse, it will help if we stay aligned with the Scriptures. In them we find that all moral work is valuable—plumbing, road construction, farming, trash collecting, dish washing, as well as poetry and software design for the cloud. 

Let us never forget the hard work of men and women who work with their hands and backs, people like Jesus, who was a carpenter. Let us remember the words of the Jewish scribe Ben Sira, written between 200 to 175 BCE perhaps to counter Plato’s pen-pushing values. Sira wrote this about manual laborers:

“All these rely on their hands, and each is skillful at his own craft. Without them, a city would have no inhabitants; no settlers or travelers would come to it. Yet they are not in demand at public discussions or prominent in the assembly. . . . They cannot expound moral or legal principles and are not ready with maxims; but they maintain the fabric of this world, and their daily work is their prayer” (italics added). 

For a modern-day example of Ben Sira's writing, watch this video about a mail clerk named Peter Hicks at MIT, a man who has held the fabric of that great university together for the past 47 years. What might Plato think about Mr. Hicks?

John Adams and the Commerce of Slavery

As our nation revisits the horrors of the slave trade, the Civil War, and racism, it seems timely to remember our second president, John Adams.

During an era when the commerce and economy of colonial America depended heavily on slavery, John Adams (1735–1826) and his wife, Abigail (1744–1818), refused to own any human being. According to historian David McCollough, in his book titled John Adams, they never owned a single slave during their entire lives (p. 134).

To not own a slave at that time went against all the economic and cultural forces. McCollough writes that one out of every five people in 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was signed, was a slave. Given that the population that year was about 2.5 million people, McCullough estimates that approximately 500,000 men, women, and children were slaves. Thomas Jefferson and George Washington each owned about 200 slaves, and at least a third of all members of Congress had slaves (p. 131).

The entrenched slave trade in American life at the time upset both John and Abigail to the core. Devout Christians, they wrote numerous letters expressing strong opposition to slavery. As Americans fought for freedom from British rule, Abigail wrote this: “I wish most sincerely there was not a slave in the province. It always seemed a most iniquitous scheme to me—[to] fight ourselves for what we are daily robbing and plundering from those who have a good a right to freedom as we have” (p. 104). John wrote that slavery was a “foul contagion in the human character” and “an evil of colossal magnitude” (p. 134).

The integrity of John and Abigail was rare. For example, Jefferson wrote letters against slavery but he refused to free the 200 he owned. About slavery, Jefferson wrote, “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep forever.” And yet, McCullough says he wrote that passionate denunciation of slavery in 1785 while watching 100 slaves work in his fields (p. 331).

Despite his troubled conscience, Jefferson did not act according to what he knew was right. McCollough writes: “Jefferson, who believed that slavery was a ‘moral and political depravity,’ nonetheless refused to free his own slaves and gave no public support to emancipation” later in his life (p. 633).

In John and Abigail, we see two people who epitomized integrity. They practiced what they preached, they submitted to a higher truth (God’s), and they did so despite cultural norms. They would not sell their consciences for economic benefits.

Source: David McCollough, John Adams, New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001.

Jazz, Amputation, and the Soul of Work

At a new Colorado Jazz club called Motif, I recently had the thrill of hearing the Wayne Wilkinson Trio play a few captivating sets. These master musicians on guitar, upright bass, and drums expressed heart and soul through their music. This was not detached, cerebral work. It was not about production and quotas. It was not drudgery and repetition. Watching and listening to them play with such vigor and vitality, I found myself wishing that everyone had jobs that could fill the soul with such passion.

Wishful thinking. Let’s be honest: Most people in the world “gotta do what they gotta do.” Americans sometimes have the freedom to choose a “fulfilling career,” but most people must learn to be content with doing work that keeps food on the table.

In fact, I spoke to the drummer of the Wilkinson trio during a break, and I learned that even though he should be playing high-dollar gigs at Carnegie Hall or the Blue Note, he also works a “day job” to feed his five kids and wife.

So, to those people stuck in what seems like a mundane job, here’s some encouragement from a guy who had to cut off his own arm without anesthesia.

His name is Aron Ralston. You might remember him as the man who, in 2003, decided to amputate his arm in order to free himself from an 800-pound boulder that had fallen and pinned him in a Utah canyon. No one knew where he was, so it was either cut off his arm or die. He cut off his arm. With a pocketknife.

After surviving that trauma, as you might expect, Ralston began thinking about life. And in a March 2009 New York Times article, Ralston pointed us to a way that we can fill mundane work with joy and meaning. (Warning: Ralston’s advice means you can’t be selfish.)  

“I still do like adventures,” he said. “But it's different. It's not coming from an esteem-building, need-fulfillment place, like my life won't amount to something if I'm not the first person to make some major accomplishment.”

Then he adds:

“Now I've identified what that source (of meaning and joy) is, and it's love. We're tapping into that source of strength and courage when we feel love, and we do it for our families and our friends and hopefully for the world at large. Those opportunities are out there all the time, and hopefully we're doing it for that instead of just our own egos.”

Having love as one's core purpose in life and work, says Ralston, gives people courage. Love is the source of meaning, and when you have true meaning, you can face any challenge.

And, as he said, the “opportunities (for love) are out there all the time.”

That is especially true at work. We all work with people—people who are stressed, alone, pinned. We can help them, even in small ways. In addition, work is a way for us to provide for our families (i.e. love them). And our work generates a little wealth that we can share with those in need.

Perhaps you haven't had to cut your arm off recently, but today is a new day of life for each of us. For what purpose will we live it?

 

Pot Is Not Recreational

A recent study of 4,000 college students in Maastricht, a city in the Netherlands, found that college students who lost access to legal cannabis, and therefore used less, saw dramatic improvement in academic performance. The opposite is also true. According to the Washington Post, the study shows that “college students with access to recreational cannabis on average earn worse grades and fail classes at a higher rate.” 

Based on the results of the Maastricht study, one wonders why some types of marijuana are called “recreational.” As we show in the GCN book titled The Meaning of Work, the word “recreation” means to re-create, to restore, to renew and rebuild the mind and soul, to expand and grow as a human being. As the 1990 Oxford Declaration of Christian Faith and Economics states, recreation should include: spending time in nature; developing our abilities and talents; cultivation of friendship; and deepening our relationships with God. Pot does none of this. 

In fact, marijuana leads to the opposite outcome, as the study cited above shows. According to the Maastricht study, pot use is not neutral. It incapacitates people, reduces abilities, debilitates the mind, diminishes opportunities. That’s the antithesis of recreation. Watching TV or going to an amusement park are expressions of non-thinking commerce, but even these activities are more beneficial than recreational marijuana. 

The meanings of words matter. So, we recommend abolishing the use of the phrase “recreational marijuana." The drug is not recreational. Instead, we suggest using the term “amusement” marijuana. The word “amuse” means “to not think.” We might simplify that to one word: brainless. 

This accurate terminology helps us better define and understand marijuana commerce, which is immense and growing. Colorado, one of the first states to legalize amusement marijuana, reports that Colorado pot sales in 2016 totaled more than $1.1 billion. In fiscal year 2016-2017, Colorado garnered more than $127 million in revenue from marijuana sales taxes and license fees, an increase of nearly 50 percent compared to the previous year. (Ironically, a lot of these taxes go to fund public education.) 

When pot is understood as a form of amusement (non-thinking, debilitating activity) rather than recreation (to build up and improve), we can do a better job of defining and categorizing this realm of modern commerce. Ditch the euphemisms and call it what it is: “dope” commerce.

Economic Efficiency vs. People?

Two recent articles, read side-by-side, capture a common but growing tension between the need for economic efficiency and the needs of human beings. 

The first, in the MIT Technology Review (July/August 2017), is based on an interview with Melonee Wise, who runs a robotics startup called Fetch. The company’s robots specialize in repetitive warehouse and factory work, thereby reducing the need for workers. 

In response to a question about robots replacing humans at work, Wise responded this way: “There will be displacement. All technology does it. . . . Technology is going to continue to advance, and technology always creates jobs. . . . The question is, will the people whose jobs are displaced be retrained to do the new jobs that are available?”

Wise is also among the growing number who believe that the U.S. should move toward a “basic universal income,” a government-supplied low-level income that allows people to meet basic living needs. This, many believe, could be funded through taxes on companies. It is assumed that businesses will be able to increase productivity and profits by using robotics and artificial intelligence rather than people. 

Wise sees these questions as a “socio-political discussion,” at least based on what she shared in her interview with MIT. But what about the human dimensions of this matter? For a perspective on this, we turn to an article in the March 2017 issue of First Things, published by the Institute on Religion and Public Life in New York City. 

Max Torres, a professor of business and economics at the Catholic University of America, asks this question: “What if the primary importance of keeping a job in the U.S. concerns human flourishing rather than economic efficiency?” 

That’s a fair question. Torres notes that companies and politicians “assume that market efficiency is the final end purpose of a nation’s economy . . .” and that “most of us adopt the false view that the most important feature of having a job is the income it provides.”

Torres argues that work is about much more than income. Citing Pope John Paul II, he says that humans were created by a God who works, and who gave us work as a fundamental aspect of human nature. Work is an avenue for spiritual and character growth, and it enables us to fulfill our calling to be co-creators with God (“to be fruitful and multiply”). In other words, work is central to what it means to be human. 

Torres inserts a theological element in the growing discussion about artificial intelligence, robotics, and the future work. Although Wise and many others see the issue only through a socio-political and “bottom-line” lens, Torres argues that such a perspective is valid, but too narrow. The socio-political lens tends to eclipse the deepest questions about human nature. It avoids the possibility that humans are created in the image of God and therefore need work, not just for an income, but to be fully human.

These are difficult, but fascinating tensions. It would be wrong to frame the question as an either-or debate. Economic efficiency—even when accomplished by artificial intelligence or robotics—can create an employment boom and help people flourish. We’ll have to see. But as the economy changes in response to technology, our business and economic discussions need theological inspiration. If we really care about people, we should take into account that human nature is wired for more than an income.