• Talks

    Comment Magazine Book Review: Wise Counsel by Dan Pallotta

    My father told me years ago that understanding the base of a person’s logic makes a difference. For instance, if someone believes that two plus two equals five, then it is perfectly logical for them to believe that two plus three equals six. It’s not their logic that is wrong, but their starting point. I might say the same about Dan Pallotta’s book,Charity Case. The author’s logic makes sense but his basic assumptions are flawed.Charity Case is a valuable contribution in many ways but begins with a creed that is not only inaccurate but unnecessary and will alienate a constituency Pallotta will later need. The book begins with a few…

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  • Talks

    David Brooks at The Gathering: How To Be Religious In The Public Square

    We’ve just witnessed the most heroic thing you will see this weekend because the biggest challenge in Mike’s life is leaving a podium. Wow. His fingerprints are actually – the nails – are still dug in here. I had forgotten about that purpose-driven, the Rick Warren column. Actually, having spent a couple days, few hours with you. I’m going to do not a purpose-driven life, but the chauffeured-driven life, which I think…I knew that one wouldn’t work. Wouldn’t work as well. First of all, it’s a great pleasure. Mike is one of my dear friends. Our relationship started when I would go to the Philadelphia Spectrum, where Mike was the…

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  • Talks

    Cardus Magazine Book Review: Why Philanthropy Matters

    I can imagine Zoltan J. Acs waking up one recent morning to read the news that Harvard has embarked on a history making capital campaign to raise $6.5 billion by 2018 with almost half of that being targeted for university based research and development. “The Harvard campaign is critical to the university’s ability to fund important priorities going forward, but it is also an opportunity to redefine Harvard and higher education more broadly.”  This is in addition to Stanford’s successful $6.23 billion campaign.   “To remain competitive, universities have to launch campaigns like this,” said Roger Benjamin, president of the Council for Aid to Education, a New York nonprofit organization that…

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  • Bible Studies

    The Return From Babylonia

    After 70 years in Babylonia, Cyrus, the King of Persia issues a decree that the Jews who wish to return to Judah are free to do so.  While Nebuchadnezzar’s policy was to completely conquer nations and bring people to Babylonia in exile, the Persians allowed conquered nations to become client states or colonies.  The book of Nehemiah is the history of the return and the rebuilding of the city. So we read in Ezra an account of those who returned.  After 70 years, not everyone wanted to return, of course.  People had lived their whole lives there and had no interest in uprooting and rebuilding.  They had no connection to…

  • Talks

    Opening Talk – The Gathering 2008

    When my father died last year right before the conference I was named the executor of the estate.  Like many executors before me, I had read some articles, browsed through a book and made a file on what my responsibilities were.  Frankly, I didn’t pay much attention because the day was always going to be a little further away.  So, even though I had a file and some basics in mind none of that prepared me for the actual work required of me for the next full year.  I expected a certain amount of paperwork, certificate copying, distribution of assets, tedious legal process, a quick cruise through probate and a…

  • Talks

    Opening Talk – The Gathering 2014

    He sat down, paused before he spoke and then said, “It’s too much for me to give thanks. I cannot be thankful for this.  I will never be thankful for this.” He and his wife had lost their son and someone with the best of intentions had quoted Paul’s instructions to the church in Thessalonika, “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” Then was not the time to say, “Paul did not say be thankful for everything – but thankful in everything.”  Yet, that is what I thought about for days afterwards.  Paul says, literally, eucharisto, in everything and in…

  • Fred's Blog

    When Flesh and Steel Are One

    For Christmas, our kids gave us tickets to a Sting concert in Dallas. They know how much I like his music and how unlikely I am to spend the money to see him perform live. The whole experience was priceless, and Sting was in top form. He ended the evening by singing “Fragile,” which has become something of an anthem in times of sudden outbreaks of extraordinary violence. On the evening of September 11, 2001, Sting was scheduled to perform in Tuscany, Italy, and record his first live album in 15 years. We all remember what happened earlier in the day, which left the band wrestling with whether or not to go…

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  • Bible Studies

    Malachi…And A Little Zechariah

    While in the Navy I was assigned as a “yeoman”.  That means I was a clerk/typist.  I had a specialty in that I served as a legal typist and part of those duties were compiling Officer Fitness Reports.  OFR’s were a very important part of an officer’s career and while very rarely were negative comments made, the underperforming officers were described in ways that everyone knew they were not getting the best marks.  It was what Shakespeare described as “damning with faint praise.”  You might say things like “Lieutenant Jones has the potential to become a capable officer and pilot.” Abraham Lincoln reportedly asked Thaddeus Stevens about the honesty of Simon…