Trinity Forum Reflections

Fri, Aug 31 2018
C. William Pollard Etched in stone in the chapel of Christ Church College at Oxford University are the words of John Locke spoken over 300 years ago: “I know there is truth opposite falsehood, that it may be found if people will search for it, and is worth the seeking.” As we conduct business in a pluralistic society, can we agree on our source of truth? Can the business firm make money, create wealth, serve customers, and also become a moral community for the development of the human character of the people producing the results of the firm? Can leadership make a difference? These are just some of the questions that should be raised in the seeking of truth in the doing of business. Our recent history reflects far too many examples of moral failures by leaders in business and in other sectors. As a result, we often seek corrective...
Wed, Jun 27 2018
Yesterday, a sobering report from “The Democracy Project,” released by the George W. Bush Institute, Freedom House, and Penn Biden Center raised questions and alarms about the state of American democracy. It declared that “confidence in our governing institutions has been weakening over many years, and key pillars of our democracy, including the rule of law and freedom of the press, are under strain. These trends have raised questions about whether the public has begun to lose faith in basic democratic concepts and what can be done…” Among other findings, the report noted that a majority of Americans believe democracy in America is weak, and nearly 70% think it is getting weaker. In addition, support for democracy and democratic institutions was significantly weaker among the young. It brought to mind another report, published thirty years ago this week, that both anticipates and addresses the challenges posed by “The Democracy Project.”...
Wed, May 2 2018
In the contest for attention between fake news and truth-telling, fake news wins in a landslide. The Atlantic recently reported on the results of a comprehensive study that analyzed every contested news story in English since the advent of twitter, and found that “the truth simply cannot compete with hoax and rumor. By every common metric, falsehood consistently dominates the truth… Fake news and false rumors reach more people, penetrate deeper into the social network, and spread much faster than accurate stories.” In fact, the study found that a false story actually reached people six times faster, on average, than a true one. Fake news stories were also found to be retweeted 70% more often than accurate ones — and thus were far more likely to go viral. And because time and attention are both limited resources, it is no exaggeration to say that truth-telling is literally crowded out by...
Fri, Feb 23 2018
One of the most significant recent shifts in public attitudes is the crumbling of trust in bedrock institutions – ranging from Congress to academia, law enforcement, finance, the media, business, health providers, even the church. As respect for such institutions, along with the norms and limits that defined them has eroded, popular adulation has been redirected to those who seem to stand “outside the system”– the strongman leader, the brainiac innovator, the entrepreneur-explorer, or the media-manipulating celebrity. Not surprisingly, the result is increasing disdain for the rules and restraints that stand in the way of “getting things done.” Such impatience can be seen everywhere from the famously toxic environments of some of the “hottest” tech companies, to the tolerance of decades of abusive, even criminal behavior on the part of entertainment moguls (so long as they produce blockbusters), to the change of mind, following years of political frustration, of some...
Mon, Nov 20 2017
The holidays are rapidly approaching — and we the people are angry. A year after the nastiest presidential election in modern history, our general ire seems further stoked. In this age of rage, one can find any number of reasons to be furious: congressional gridlock, the President (or his critics), the media, racial divisions, the gall of anyone who disagrees with us on social media. By some measures, almost two-thirds of Americans report being angry every day – and most claim they angrier now than last year or the year before. Why are we so torqued? Certainly, there are deep injustices meriting indignation. But one of the revealing aspects of various studies on the national mood was that the angriest people weren’t the worst off, or those who had suffered great losses, but who had a stronger sense of disappointed expectation or perceived disrespect. The resulting resentment often fuels a...
Wed, Aug 30 2017
After a valiant two-year battle with cancer, waged with his characteristic energy and verve, author, scholar, Faith Angle Forum founder, and Trinity Forum Senior Fellow Michael Cromartie died earlier this week. He leaves behind his extraordinary wife Jenny, sons Ethan and Eric and daughter Heather, and a vast company whose lives, work, and thought were deeply influenced by his presence, conversation, care, and friendship. Michael served for many years as a Trinity Forum Senior Fellow and frequent moderator, and as Vice-President at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. There, he authored or edited more than 15 books, and created the Faith Angle Forum, which hosted semi-annual retreats for journalists and columnists to learn about faith and theology from religious thought leaders, and which had a seismic – if largely unknown – impact on the way in which the most respected and influential journalists understand and cover religion. ​ In many...
Thu, Mar 30 2017
It is a strange irony: at the most globally connected moment in all of human history, we are lonelier than ever. Even as our social media connections grow, so do our rates of living alone, and our reported feelings of loneliness and estrangement. A survey published by the AARP found that as many as a third of Americans over the age of 45 reported being chronically lonely – up from only one in five a decade earlier. And since loneliness is often concentrated among the elderly, the swell of aging boomers makes it likely that loneliness will become even more widespread. The consequences of loneliness are significant and sobering. Long-lasting loneliness can not only sicken, but kill its sufferers. By some measures, reported loneliness is as significant a factor in mortality as smoking; other studies have shown that it can cause or exacerbate a range of physical and mental illnesses...
Fri, Dec 16 2016
As if Economics was not already considered “the dismal science,” a vocal number of economists have taken to questioning the value of gift-giving, even labeling it a “market failure.” By the laws of economics alone, the Grinches have a point: giving a gift is a less efficient exchange than simply transferring money or handing over a gift card. There is always the real possibility that the recipient won’t like his gift, or value it less than the giver paid for it. And significant time is spent searching for and fretting about gifts, which could be eliminated if the intended recipient just bought for himself whatever he wanted from the transferred funds. All of which has led some economists to declare gift-giving a “waste.” A contrary view was poignantly expressed in O. Henry’s short story “The Gift of the Magi,” in which (spoiler alert) an impoverished young couple sacrifice their most...
Fri, Nov 11 2016
Hope and Change? It has been a wild election. The majority of our deeply divided fellow citizens, many of whom are clearly hurting or angry (or both), fed up with gridlock in Washington, and eager for change, chose a new president, in what has seemed a joyless and bitter contest between two of the least popular candidates in recent history. The election results are, in many quarters, interpreted as a mandate for significant change; evangelical voters in particular were widely seen as hoping to restore America to a lost time of previous greatness, and pinning those hopes on an unlikely candidate to get them there. But while our faith calls us to be people of hope, it also cautions against placing our hope in politics or politicians (seemingly a constant temptation for the politically-engaged faithful). There is a limit to what politics can do. The very structure of our system...
Fri, Sep 23 2016
It is uncanny how much attention is paid in the Bible to the weight and power of words. It is a recurrent theme, beginning in Genesis with God speaking the world into existence, and culminating with the good news that the Word himself became flesh and walked among us. The reader is cautioned that the spoken word has the power to heal or destroy, encouraged that “a word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver,” and warned not to distort the smallest word or punctuation mark. It is hard to escape the conclusion that words have weight and power, even the power of life or death. As the inimitable Eugene Peterson wrote in The Jesus Way: "Words are holy – all words. But words are also vulnerable to corruption, debased into blasphemies, trivialized into gossip…. Everywhere and always as Christians follow Jesus we use words that...

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