Happy Cinco de Mayo Friday,
Consider one another more important than yourself.
Paul, Philippians 2:3
Theologians rightly spend a lot of time in the first half of Philippians 2. Not only are this chapter’s first eleven verses home to one of the early church’s first hymns, it is also the place where Paul shares about the dual nature of Christ. Remarkably, the majestic theology found here plays a supporting role to Paul’s main point. What is that? What could possibly draw attention away from the hymn’s celebration of Christ? It is the declaration that we must value the well-being of others ahead of our own. Saint Paul highlights the divine nature of Jesus – and his scandalous descent into slavery and death – in order to make it clear that we too are to “consider others more important than ourselves.”
A Missed Opportunity: Last week I noted that 65% of Americans think it’s possible to be moral without being religious. I should have added that this means they think both George Washington and John Adams were wrong. After all, GW argued that “religion and morality” were “indispensable supports” to democracy. And JA wrote that “our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people,” and is “wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” A society of free people is only possible if said people police their own behavior; our Founders believed this only happens if they believe they will one day stand before a just God.
An AI Update: I’ve previously noted that although I’ve been listening to podcasts, reading articles, talking with power users and playing around with the programs, I am unable to stay current with ChatGPT, Baird and their sister enterprises. That said, while I’m pretty sure both those who say it will change the world more significantly than fire and those who claim it will end human life by next Thursday are both oooooooverstating things just a wee bit – it will be disruptive. AI may not replace as many jobs as some claim, but by taking over a lot of tasks it will reorder most of them. It will also force us to spend more time trying to tell the real from the fake. Just to prove my point, here is an AI aided clip in which Richard Nixon announces the failure of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
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Without Comment: 1) According to the CDC, the percentage of U.S. adults who smoke cigarettes has dropped to an all-time low of 11%, down from 42% in the mid-60s; 2) In 1992 the average age of a U.S. senior pastor was 44. Today it is 52; 3) In Forbes’ recent ranking of the happiest countries, Israel jumped into fourth place; 4) According to this FIRE survey of collegians: 41% of men and 58% of women identify as liberal, 31% of men and 27% of women identify as moderate and 28% of men and 15% of women identify as conservative; 5) In 2000, the median worship attendance in the USA was 137. Today it is 65; 6) According to this CDC report, the percentage of teens who are sexually active has dropped almost in half since 1990; 7) Daniel Patrick Moynihan coined the phrase “defining deviancy down” when the percentage of children born out of wedlock had climbed from 5% in the 60s, to just less than 30% in the late 90s. Today the national average is around 40% and it is as high as 70% in some urban settings; 8) Though close to 65% of Americans believe that living together before marriage improves a couple’s odds of relationship success, this report stands in a long line of studies that document the opposite. The evidence is so strong it has a term: “the cohabitation effect;” 9) According to this Time magazine article, there are twice as many security guards in the U.S. as there were twenty years ago;¹ and 10) According to Louise Perry (the secular, liberal author who wrote The Case Against the Sexual Revolution), Gen Z is populated by 11-26 year-olds who will have seen “thousands of adults having sex” before they kiss anyone.
Quote Worth Requoting: Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important. C.S. Lewis
Question: If forgiveness was a graduate school course, would you be receiving a passing grade? Are you expecting God to be more forgiving with you than you are with others?
WOTW: Last month’s Quiet Quitting has given rise to Bare Minimum Mondays. (As I have noted before, I am pretty sure you and I are the only two people working a full week anymore, and to be honest, I am not so sure about you.) Other words that made honorable mention are ignorant arrogance and church hurt. Though it’s a bit of “inside baseball,” I’m giving actual WOTW honors to the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, which is term that describes frequently noticing a word after you learn it.
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The New “Gas Station” Questions: When I lived in the PNW – and Microsoft and Starbucks were regional startups – there were always rumors about what questions they asked in job interviews. The one I remember was, “How many gas stations are there in the U.S.?” No one was expected to have an answer. Indeed, it was assumed that no one actually knew. The question was asked to see how you would respond. With that in mind, I was interested when a friend sent me this list of the hot interview questions: 1) What are five things you do every day, beyond eating and sleeping, that demonstrate who you are? 2) Imagine your boss just said “no” to your request. How would you try to convince your boss to say “yes”? 3) When did you say “no” to a previous boss? Why? 4) What are your personal goals? 5) How confident are you that you will achieve your personal goals? What makes you say that? 6) What would you recommend to someone who wants to achieve your personal goals? 7) What are the hardest things you’ve accomplished? 8) What confusing situations have you encountered? How has working through confusing situations changed you? 9) When was the last time you were discouraged? How did you move forward? And 10) When was the last time you were angry? What does your anger tell you about yourself?
Names: Two things jumped out at me from this year’s list of the most popular baby names: 1) Mike – which has long enjoyed a place in the top ten – is M.I.A.; and 2) Half of the boys names are biblical: Noah, James, Elijah, Lucas and Benjamin. The second point reinforces the trope that 2,000 years ago, Nero and Caesar were on everyone’s lips, while Paul and Peter were little-known fanatics. But today, we name our sons Peter and Paul, while we name our dogs Nero and Caesar.
Resources: Click here to listen to my interview with former NFL QB Jeff Kemp, about his upcoming book, Receive (which is due out this Fall). In it Jeff explores ways men can follow Christ’s example. BTW, you can click here to see his book Men Huddle, which outlines his approach for helping men help men.
Cinco de Mayo: Having already noted that it’s May 5th, let me back up to note that it’s May – and May is the new December. Pace yourself.
Closing Prayer: Merciful God, we know that we deserve to have your anger poured out upon us; yet in your infinite love you have chosen instead to pour out the grace of your Holy Spirit. May your Spirit so enlighten our hearts, that we may show the same merciful love to others that you have shown to us. Amen.(Thomas Müntzer 1490-1525)