Tag Archives: Ethics

Book Review: Junkyard Wisdom

junkyard-wisdomRoy Goble is my friend. The first day I met him, I hated him.

Ford Munnerlyn, Roy Goble, me - probably 1979 in Sunol CA
Ford Munnerlyn, Roy Goble, me – probably 1979 in Sunol CA

We met in 1977 as incoming freshman at Westmont College. He is a Giants fan; I bleed Dodger blue. One of the first things we did together was play catch. We have done a lot of things together since then and I no longer hate him (I really never hated him; we just irritate each other). All of that to say that I know Roy and therefore can say some things in this review that are first hand.

Roy is generous. An anecdote: we were each other’s best man. I married in July of 81; he in September of 81. We started our families at the same time. He went into Real Estate and I went into pastoral ministry, that is, he made money and I didn’t. Soon after the birth of our first born, Roy sent me a check for a significant amount of money (more than $20). After the second born, another check. After our third, another check. After the fourth, the standard amount + $500 with a note: “here is an additional $500, get fixed, I can’t afford this.”

Roy is smart. Roy is straightforward. Roy is bold. This is why I turn to him for advice when I need it – only a few times in my life –  and why I listen to what he has to say.

Those are all good reasons for you to read his new book: Junkyard Wisdom: Resisting the Whisper of Wealth in a World of Broken Parts.

Every person who lives in the US is wealthy on the global scale.  Roy writes for those of us who want to live lives that see beyond personal gratification and gain a perspective on how to be wise about how we manage the resources we have in abundance. Written in a direct, uncomplicated way Roy gives us a road map for maximizing our impact with wealth.

The story is told in ripple format, a modern take on ancient Hebrew chiasm. As Roy tells the story it ripples out from the junkyard to the ends of the world, he invites you to experience the ripples yourself. You can learn his lessons and apply them so that you too can fix some broken parts in our world.

Roy ends the book with apologies, as opposed to thanks, and here is a final apology: “I’m sorry this book can’t fully express the things Jesus has taught me. I tried my best, but only a few of the pages even hint at the amazing opportunities we will find if we dare to resist the whisper of wealth, tear down the walls between us, and begin loving our neighbor as God calls us to.”

I am recommending this book to all my friends who have money. That is you if you are reading this post.

Buy the book. Read the book. Share the wealth.


Roy wrote a guest post on this blog entitled The Riches of Grace.

You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Google + or just call him, here is his cell phone number….555-555-5555.

Look up and involve yourself in some of Roy’s investments: Pathlight  – an educational enterprise aimed at reducing poverty in Belize and Jaguar Creek a place to stay in Belize and be filled with awe through a truly unique experience that adds positive value to  local communities.

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Ethics Course “180” Review

Many people have asked me why I am teaching a course on Ethics at the church.  The implication is that it is unnecessary in some way:

  • because people already know how to act
  • because our positions are already reasoned and settled
  • all we need to do is toe the company line

But just as with all other areas of teaching in the church, the body must listen carefully and ensure that the reasoning and conclusions that we hold to and act upon are truly correct (Biblical, rational, logical, consistent, Godly).  So we are holding a class at the church and one of the first things we did was view a provocative video put out by Ray Comfort.

It is not safe to assume that simply because someone has a forum, audience, or church that their declarations are sound.  I have never been content to simply tell people what to believe (even though my teaching has a proven record of reliability :-)), rather people need to be exposed to process, argumentation, and reasoning. We need to know how to think not simply be bullied into what to think.

As a preface to my critique of Ray Comfort’s video “180” let me assert a few things:

  1. I agree with the major premise of the video:  Abortion is a moral issue with grave consequences.
  2. I applaud his engagement with culture, his desire to challenge and change people with the gospel message.
  3. I believe he has good motives.
  4. I understand that the video is not a formal presentation of arguments for and against abortion.
  5. I was moved emotionally by the video and was hopeful that those in the video who said they had changed their minds were sincere and that the change was a real and lasting change.

Having said that, the video is flawed.  I would not use this video as a means of persuasion – either for the gospel or for a position on abortion.  Here are my problems:

Continue reading Ethics Course “180” Review

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Intro to Ethics – Wednesday Study


(The video feed is raw, so the volume is spotty, I will edit and update the post, if you are reading this then suffer through an unedited mp3!)

On Wednesday nights at Olive Grove Church we are studying Ethics together.  Last night was an introductory night where we outlined some basic terms and categories then watched a modern presentation of a Christian moral perspective on Abortion by Ray Comfort called 180.  I use the video as a discussion starter on ethical methodology and communication.  I challenged our audience to view the video critically by asking three questions as they watched:  What is missing from the presentation?  What is wrong with the presentation?  Would you find it compelling if you were an opponent of the view proposed?

Here are the notes/handout

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William Lane Craig debates Sam Harris

There are 9 total YouTube videos, you can find the rest on YouTube.

William Lane Craig debates Sam Harris on the topic “Does Good Come From God?”  Dr. Craig simply demolishes Dr. Harris in this philosophical debate.  Harris demonstrates no capacity to offer an argument in response to Craig.  In the absence of argument he resorts to ad hominem, consistent deflection, emotionalism and vitriol.  He fails to make a philosophical or logical argument, never addresses the powerful logical points that Craig makes and attempts to bait him to abandon his argument by trying to drag him into the morass of which religious fundamentist perspective is worse:  the Taliban or rabid Christians who want everyone to go to hell.  He uses the phrase “morally reprehensible” to describe by inference people like Dr. Craig, then backs down when Craig calls him on it.  Harris’ presentation in this debate is disrespectful and in fact he behaves in a “morally reprehensible” way.  When he uses his calm, confident albeit flatulent “reasoning” to obfuscate and denigrate, his self-deception is shoved down the throats of his willing readers and followers.

Craig does a good job here of staying on topic and with few exceptions resists the temptation to take the bait of Harris.  Harris admits to being afraid of his performance in this debate with Craig and he proved that he had every reason to fear; he loses miserably.  What Harris demonstrates is an utter disrespect for the philosophical framework as a legitimate concourse for truth seeking, finding and debating.  Alvin Plantinga pointed out the shallowness of these “New Atheists” when he reviewed Richard Dawkin’s book “The God Delusion” which he called “The Dawkins Confusion: Naturalism ad absurdum”. These guys are all hype and very little substance.  These guys are simply shock jock amateur philosophers, who like Harris walk into Notre Dame and brazenly mock transubstantiation.  That is not good argumentation, and it certainly demonstrates a poor grasp on morality.

For those of you who wanted a more “theological” or “Christian” response, this was a philosophical debate.  Dr. Craig several times delineated the boundaries when he says this debate is not about the existence of God or to defend a particular theistic system like Christianity, rather he rightly stayed on topic and demanded an answer to his rebuttal of Harris’ misguided and mistaken arguments that an atheistic world view can provide an objective ground for morality.

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A Man’s Moral Worth

Henning von Tresckow was a Major General in the German Wehrmacht and a chief conspirator in the Valkyrie plot (he is played by Kenneth Branagh in the modern movie “Valkyrie” which starred Tom Cruise). He spoke these words to a fellow conspirator Fabian von Schlabrendorff who is the source for these words:

“The whole world will vilify us now, but I am still totally convinced that we did the right thing.  Hitler is the archenemy not only of Germany but of the whole world.  When, in a few hours time, I go before God to account for what I have done and left undone, I know I will be able to justify in good conscience what I did in the struggle against Hitler.  God promised Abraham that He would not destroy Sodom if just ten righteous men could be found in the city, and so I hope that for our sake God will not destroy Germany.  None of us can bewail his own death, those who consented to join our circle put on the robe of Nessus.  A human being’s moral integrity begins when he is prepared to sacrifice his life for his convictions.” *

Despite the atrocities of the Nazi’s, it is not right to conclude that honor and integrity were dead in Germany.  There were many heroes who failed in their attempts to right a very badly listing ship.  Overwhelmed by the ferocity and speed of Hitler’s evil, these men were caught in an avalanche of proportions they could never even imagine.  By the time they figured out the depth of the horror and the corresponding and seemingly immoral option left to them (assassination), Hitler was well on his way.

Once we know what we are willing to sacrifice our life for we will have a better idea of how we should live our lives.

*quote taken from Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas

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