September 6, 2008


1.  Girl power at school, but not at the office.  My wife actually noticed the opposite of this when moving from a west coast working environment to a southern academic setting.

2.  With the conflict between Russia and Georgia, two nations with McDonald's outlets have finally gone to war with each other.  I've always heard it referred to as the Golden Arches Theory of Conflict Prevention and of course Wikipedia has a roundup of other previous conflicts that may have already disproved the theory.  (via Chris Blattman)

3.  This is a clever idea but other than the morlocks who is this detached from what's going on above ground?

4.  How Pixar Fosters Collective Creativity - interesting read from the Harvard Business Review, here are their three operating principles, applicable I think to a number of sectors:
1. Everyone must have the freedom to communicate with anyone.

2. It must be safe for everyone to offer ideas.

3. We must stay close to innovations happening in the academic community.
5.  Another guilty pleasure blog.

6.  This is old but I had never seen it before:
Food chemists have shown that making a pizza crust with whole wheat flour and cooking it longer releases more antioxidants. These chronic disease-fighting compounds increased by 82 percent when baked at a higher temperature, by 60 percent when baked twice as long and doubled when the dough was left to rise an extra day.
7.  What Saddleback's Pastor Really Thinks About Politics - I've been trying to give this piece in the WSJ its own post for over a week now and just haven't found the time, so I'm giving it up and burying it in the links, but you should really read it.  It's the best thing I've read to date on what the Evangelical political landscape actually looks like as we approach November:
'Overhyped." That's how the Rev. Rick Warren describes the notion that the evangelical vote is "up for grabs" in this election. But what about the significance of the evangelical left, I asked the pastor of Saddleback Church after his forum with the presidential candidates last weekend. "This big," he says, holding his thumb and forefinger about an inch apart.


Anonymous said...

Thanks very much for this link.
Makes me want to read more of Warren.

a conversationalist said...

It is nice to hear a conservative evangelical sound like they have thoughts on the shape of the world outside of abortion in America, however I can't agree with his position on capitalism being the solution to all of the worlds ills. I found it interesting that he "reverse tithes." I would be curious as to what percentage of the world still lives below his 10% that he keeps-I don't bring this up to malign, I just think it has affected the way he sees the way money should flow in the world (his fiscal view is as a very wealthy white American Christian male who lives in a system that affords him the opportunity to be so generous).
I also don't think that the government can solve everything, but I tend to have more confidence in a group of people elected by a majority that believe that they can do what is outside of their own interests for the greater good, than the "trickle down" economics of your average business owner (or to use his illustration-local fish monger).
It is this boot strap mentality that I have a pretty big problem with. I think we (and I include myself in this) mistake the blessings of being born WASPS in America for the particular grace of God (as opposed to general grace-I will leave it to the theologians as to what of that should have been capitalized). It was Franklin that said God helps those who help themselves, not Paul or Jesus. The solution to the end of war and poverty and disease in the world is the end of the world. The solution to helping your neighbor is loving them through Christ, not Adam Smith.
I agree with anon-I would like to read more about the man who seems to be positioning himself to be the next Billy Graham and giving spiritual council to our leaders.

J said...

Warren is definitely an interesting figure and there is plenty of reason to be both encouraged and skeptical of what he is up to, especially in terms of their involvement in Rwanda/Africa. I posted about some of that earlier in a slightly different vein here.

In most respects I find Warren's recognition of the importance of business, growth and trade to be refreshing coming from someone in his position, i.e. a religious non-profit, as 9 times out of 10 the solution coming from those quarters has historically been a form of charity and aid that breeds dependence rather than sustainable development. (Though I always have this sneaking suspicion that Warren's project is motivated at least in part by trying to figure out what in the world to do with this "city" of 30,000 people that I've worked into a purpose-driven frenzy but who now realize that they have no purpose to drive . . . . . I know, Africa! That's not meant to be as cynical as it sounds as it's a legitimate, if unique, pastoral question for someone in his position) As crass as it seems on paper just about the only successful model for meaningful economic development that we have is one that is undergirded by "capitalism" and the opportunities of choice that the wealth it creates offers. Unfortunately, what often gets exported by these groups (I'm painting with a wide brush here) aren't sound economic growth strategies but a variety of American consumerism. Growth is going to be key to pulling countries like Rwanda out of poverty but what it looks like to move from A to B is definitely up for debate.

I think Warren overplays his skepticism of government and it's importance in social change as well. However, it should be acknowledged that in most of the places where this conversation is relevant the skepticism is probably warranted, at least for the moment. Supporting the establishment of sound governments has to be part of the solution, and Warren would probably acknowledge this, otherwise capital has a way of finding it's way to more fertile ground. His "fish" metaphor leaves out the fact that unless there are structures and systems in place to allow for and protect the development of those complex economic systems, or to use your metaphor, it's hard to pull yourself up by the boot straps if you're barefoot.

From what I've read and talking to a few people who have been involved in shaping some of Saddleback's approach Warren could really be a game changer if they were more willing to partner with existing efforts already at play in Africa. A lot of what they are doing seems to be reinventing the wheel and because of that over the next couple of years they are going to either get discouraged and burn out or actually figure some things out and make a difference, but it's a couple of years that could be better utilized with a little more openness.
I still think the best way these faith communities can be involved in development is as a bridge that facilitates and catalyzes development, not necessarily as the driving engine. Jesus and the good Mr. Smith aren't mutually exclusive but for some reason Smith either gets elevated to a silent member of the trinity or demonized as heretical - the truth as usual is probably somewhere in the middle.