Fear of Losing What We Already Have

I used to own a nice credit card from one of the major banks in the U.S.

Now, because it was a nice credit card that had the suffix “preferred” at the end of its name, it came with one of those deals that said “no annual fee for the first 12 months, then $ XX … every year.” And if I spent more then $4000 or so within the first 3 months of activation, I’d get something like $500 worth of points which could go towards, well, pretty much anything (yes, even cash). After the first 12 months (of no annual fees), I would be free to close the account if I didn’t want to keep it. Sounds pretty good, huh?

With so many credit cards that offered such enticing offers, I ended up signing up for a number of these nice credit card offers. After a minute of simply credit checks, I’d usually get approved and have the credit card in mail in a couple of weeks. I’d usually meet the spending requirements for the various rewards and have those points (sometimes cash) in hand just a few months down the road. What is to complain about, really? None that I can think of.

A strange thing happened when one of these nice credit cards was approaching its first birthday. Now, I was fully aware that once it hit its first birthday, I’d be automatically charged an annual fee if I didn’t cancel the credit card. So, the rational thing to do (at least if I wanted to be consistent with the intention I had set out to do this thing with in the first place) was to call up the credit card company and suspend the account before it reached its first birthday. Just pick up the phone, call the company, and say that I no longer want to keep the nice credit card.

But I didn’t do it.
For whatever reason it may have been, I just wanted to hold on to the nice credit card. Even if it came with the fee all the sudden. Even though there might have been a number of other nice cards out there that I could have signed up for to replace it — all free of annual fees for the first year. I simply didn’t want to lose what I already had. I wanted to hold on to the preferred status I was freely given when I signed up for the nice card.

This fear of losing what one already has has led to a phenomena called “mileage runs” in the flight community. And it’s prompting many to fly between the same two cities multiple times during the same day, just so that they could rack up enough miles to keep and maintain their status with airlines:

The costliest manifestations of GS-MAD are unnecessary year-end trips, called “mileage runs” in the frequent-flier community, which are cousins to the flights Walter Kirn’s protagonist in “Up in the Air” takes to meet his goal of a million lifetime miles. I asked around to find the highest amount anyone had heard of being spent on mileage runs: the winner was fifteen thousand dollars, by a friend of a friend, in a month. Another friend told me about his own bottoming out, in the pre-Global Services era, when, in an attempt to achieve the highest status level at Continental before it merged with United, he took advantage of a temporary quirk. At the time, Continental, engaged in a route war with Southwest, was flying connecting flights between Houston’s two airports. Just shy of the requisite number of flight segments, my friend flew three round trips in one day without ever leaving town. The planes were filled with others doing the same, like some mile-oholic version of “The Iceman Cometh.”
(see full post via The New Yorker here)

Really, some say it should be aptly labelled  a “first world 1% problem.” I agree – but I also wonder, “Will it always be?”

Why Christians Sin (at Church)?

An imagery I like to use to describe the Church is that it is a place where the sick gather.

The Church is where the sick are welcome and therefore gathered to be with others who are also sick. What better place than this really, right?

Where the sick gather, sickness may abound but sickness also disappear as the sick listen to the wise words of the Doctor. The Place, however, will continue to attract the sick, and therefore, will never actually ever be free of, well, sickness! There will always be weeping, sometimes unfortunate quarrelsome disputes, violence (please), mishaps, anger, misunderstanding, visitors, and you name it. Sounds familiar? Yes, those are all sin!

So, is it any surprise that there are still sinners in our churches today? Well, the Church is a place meant for sinners to come.

Now, whenever any of the above (aka “sin”) happens, it would need to be adequately pointed out and addressed — but these things will continue to happen until there is no longer a need for the Place (which I believe is when the Son returns).

Below is a blog post from Tim Challies (I read many of his writings). I think he puts it really well to show how we are to see this “sickness” phenomena at church (read: why do Christians do still sin?):

We must distinguish between the activity of sin, which is true in all believers, and the dominion of sin, which is true of all unbelievers. Sinclair Ferguson has written, “Sin is not primarily an activity of man’s will so much as a captivity which man suffers, as an alien power grips his soul. It is an axiom for [John] Owen [whose teaching Ferguson is summarizing] that while the presence of sin can never be abolished in this life, nor the influence of sin altered (its tendency is always the same), its dominion can, indeed, must be destroyed if a man is to be a Christian.”

Read full post here (H/T to Tim Challies).

How Our Phones Actually Disconnect Us

When the telephone was first invented, I am pretty sure the idea behind it was that it would serve to connect human beings and help them communicate when needed. Has it ever occurred to you though that the very same invention might be actually doing the exact opposite?

This about sums up why we turn to our phones constantly and ruin many of our precious relationships effectively:

Maybe humans are just naturally more comfortable thinking about the future and less confident when it comes to the subject of what can be done to improve the hear and now. Because here’s thing about the future: it never arrives!”

Power of Collaboration

Living in an era where more and more people are wanting to do good with their work, degrees, jobs, and time, I too find myself asking this question over and over again to myself for the thousandth time: “Just how do I use my time most effectively to the benefit of the most by doing the greatest good?”

What Justin Baldoni says is the key to maintaining balance in his incredibly busy life as an entrepreneur, social activist, and actor is to empower others and to collaborate with them. In fact, Baldoni did this so well that he was effectively recruit one of his now full-time employees through a “spiritual talk” that he hosted with some of his friends:

“Having been born and raised in L.A., I’ve experienced my fair share of house parties, but up until that day, I had never seen philosophy or spirituality branded with that unique layer of celebratory coolness,” Meybodi wrote in an email. “It was as if Justin and his friends successfully transformed faith from something dated into a fun, aspirational experience—without any of the baggage.”

Spirituality (faith) charged with a philosophy that speaks about those who are aching and hurting in the world carries power to attract others and create room for even more powerful collaboration.

See the full article here via Fast Company.

Training the Elite to Fix the World

Who can most effectively address the world’s most serious problems? Is it possible to train international development practitioners? How much money does it take to train a select cohort of elite practitioners who will go about to change the world?

My point is that the idea of fixing the world by sending smart people to elite institutions and then having them run everything has been tried, and whatever else can be said about it, it didn’t end poverty. It didn’t end climate change. It very well might have left the world worse off overall. I simply can’t think of any empirical basis for Phil Knight and Stanford’s faith in the ability of elite education to solve major problems.

Written as a response to the announcement that Stanford recently received $400 million from its alumnus (who is also the co-founder of Nike, Inc.), this article offers an interesting perspective on how to really fix the world’s problems and who should do it. Read here.

Beginning Blogging

This is where it all begins. This is the first post, and I am officially starting my blog here today.

As I find myself living in a world inundated with a plethora of information and data (including numerous, awesome blog posts by some of my favorite, super-star bloggers), this is my attempt to process some of my daily intake while fleshing out any takeaways I may have from it.

Here I will write about many things. However, my primary focus will be on church, education, and international development – which are three things that I feel curious about and desire to learn more about going forward. I will link articles or blog posts I’ve enjoyed reading as well as share my own thoughts, which I may call “original work” in my own world.