Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Lasting Contribution

A Lasting Contribution is the title of book by Tad Waddington. This guy is one smart dude. He's got a masters of divinity from the University of Chicago and a PhD in something about statistics. You can read all about it in the back of the book. His emphasis at UC was the history of chinese religions, and it clearly shows in this little book.

The front flap says, "This book is for everyone." Perhaps everyone but me. I'm not a philosopher by nature or training, and many of the words he used were completely new to me. There's a handy glossary at the back of the book, which I discovered when I was done reading it. I guess I wasn't really in the mood to learn a whole new vocabulary in order to really sink my teeth into this book.

I wrote quite a few quotes down in my journal from his book - like:

pg 6 "...when does think before acting and when thinkers take action, remarkable results follow. When doers don't think before acting and when thinkers don't act, good people's efforts fail to acheive their full impact."

pg 15 "It's not about smarts, but discipline." - this really resonated with me because I just finished reading Carry on, Mr. Bowditch to my children in school. Nathaniel Bowditch was one smart guy, but he achieved a lot because of his discipline. It was an awesome example of this.

"Deciding what not to do is crucial." Something I need to remember.

Unfortunately, from my perspective, Waddington takes the entire book to explain why someone should want to contribute and all the causes leading to a lasting contribution... but without an ultimate reason. He clearly states in his book (pg 87), quoting someone named Bronowski, " 'There is no absolute knowledge. ... all information is imperfect. We have to treat it with humility. That is the human condition."

Well - yes and no. I believe that there is One who is Absolute Knowledge, and He decided to share some of it with us - through the Holy Scriptures and the person of Jesus Christ. We still have to treat our understanding of the Bible with humility because, as Isaiah writes, "His thoughts are not our thoughts. His ways are not our ways." There's a lot about God we do not know.

Ultimately, he tries to make a case for a purpose in life without the True Purpose. He writes on page 90 that 'Ethics and action are inseperable." James wrote the same thing in the New Testament "Faith without works is dead."

I like Rich Mullins' version: "Faith without works is like a screen door on a submarine." Rather useless.

I think I could sum up my impression of A Lasting Contribution with the lyrics of another Rich Mullins song, Maker of Noses:

When I turn to the world they gave me this advice

They said boy you just follow your heart
But my heart just led me into my chest
They said follow your nose
But the direction changed every time I went and turned my head
And they said boy you just follow your dreams
But my dreams were only misty notions

My response would echo that of Mullins':
But the Father of hearts and the Maker of noses
And the Giver of dreams He's the one I have chosen
And I will follow Him

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