• Fred's Blog

    Option B

    If you read biographies, you notice a pattern that is frequent in the lives of many great leaders. Early success and then years of obscurity and hardship – even rejection and exile. Two good examples are Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln. Child stars and prodigies often experience the same. Writers and artists may show promise and then languish for decades before creating anything again. One-hit wonders are common in music, as are novelists who cannot produce a second best-seller. Sometimes circumstances change beyond their control. Silent movie star Rudolph Valentino’s voice was not suitable for movies with sound. Yasha Heifitz was brilliant as an untaught prodigy but being taught how to read music…

  • Fred's Blog

    Do Not Resuscitate

    For his Easter column, “President Carter, Am I a Christian?”, The New York Times journalist Nick Kristof interviewed former President Jimmy Carter. In the column Nick asked, “With Easter approaching, let me push you on the Resurrection. If you heard a report today from the Middle East of a man brought back to life after an execution, I doubt you’d believe it even if there were eyewitnesses. So why believe ancient accounts written years after the events?” While Jimmy Carter’s response was he did, in fact, believe in the physical Resurrection as well as the virgin birth, it was the question that puzzled me. Not because Nick asked it or because it implied that he does not believe in the Resurrection. (Actually, if he did not believe in…

  • Fred's Blog

    The Return of Risk

    Carol and I were in Baltimore last week, and our visits included a middle school in one of the worst neighborhoods of the city. The principal told us their students consistently dropped out long before graduation, and the teen pregnancy rate was triple the state average.  On the wall of his office, he had a chart with three columns:  Coping, Well-Being and Agency. Each column listed the school’s initiatives to improve in each area. While all three are important, it is the sense of agency – the belief that there is something you can do about your circumstances – that drives so much of everything else. You are not a…

  • Fred's Blog

    Silly Giving

    The song is so old that you cannot find the lyrics online, but in 1965 “Spider John” Koerner wrote and recorded “Rent Party Rag” on his first solo album. The gist of it was a story about what to do when you don’t have enough money to pay the rent. You get a barrel of beer, lots of food and some music. You tell the musicians, “I’m gonna feed you and let you drink for nothin” and then you are “jumpin’ til the break of dawn.” You charge everyone a little to come, and you have enough left over to pay your rent for the month. So simple! I’ve been watching the growth of crowdfunding, and it has some of the same feel. In fact, after reading Ben…