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2019 brings a new year and a list of new resolutions. For CU New York it isn’t so much resolutions as our plans and initiatives for the year. We will, of course, continue our salons and forums that explore various aspects and implications of our faith in our vocations and the broader city. Additionally, there are other activities coming that will serve to build the kind of redemptive engagement we seek.

Merry Christmas! Since childhood, this has been a season I’ve looked forward to – the gatherings, anticipation, cookies, and yes, hopefully presents under the tree. Advent is actually that period of anticipation for the main event, the celebration of the birth of Christ. In recent years, I’ve begun to wonder why a sense and discipline of anticipation is important – for celebrations like Christmas, Easter, marriage, the birth of a child. For children it makes sense - children are, by their very nature, impatient and full of hopes – which is expressed in anticipation.

Earlier this week I was watching an interview with a Federal Reserve official on managing the US economy. In the course of the interview he made two interesting statements:

We have to be data-dependent”, and
I don’t see any clear signal from the market…

Apart from the second statement seeming to mock the first, both statements reinforce the idea that a world consisting of humans filled with longings, hopes, fears, giddiness (at times), and relational dysfunctions is naturally best understood and motivated by data – that somehow data is unbiased and wise. In light of history I think it’s a weak argument, but one that nonetheless shapes the vocational worlds we all live in.

The annual CU New York Yacht Cruise late last month was spectacular – a cool vintage yacht, gorgeous weather, and a collection of sixty of the most fun people to hang out with.  From recent grads to grizzled veterans of the Big Apple it was an afternoon of fun and fellowship, followed by an after-party at The Park. 

For the past few days ten of us have been participating in a conference on global affairs – geopolitical and economic trends and what they mean.  Topics range from China’s Grand Strategy to Cyber Security to the Fintech Revolution - and the people gathered for the conference have been equally fascinating as they range from business and financial executives to academics to government policy makers around the world.

The Gallup organization published a poll this year on institutions and the level of confidence Americans have in them.  Some of their findings:

2018 2009 2000
Church/organized religion 38% 52% 56%
Supreme Court 37% 39% 47%
Congress 11% 17% 24%
Big Business 25% 16% 29%
Newspapers 23% 25% 37%

The list of institutions surveyed goes well beyond these few but the trend is similar – that we trust our institutions less as being capable, in our best interests, and as foundational to our societal well-being.  While the Gallup poll does not break this down by faith commitment, I would be surprised if there was much difference between those of faith and those not of faith.

Reading the newspaper this past month has been enormously interesting – from the political theatre of Supreme Court nominations, NATO summits and Helsinki, to the new Mr. Rogers documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? in a throwback to a “kinder, gentler America”, to Microsoft’s announcement of breaking the $100 billion in annual revenue – in their race with Apple, Facebook and Google to be the first trillion-dollar company. July, by any measure, has been a remarkable month.

…these men who have turned the world upside down have come here also…” Acts 17:6

In a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed piece finance titans Jamie Dimon and Warren Buffett, respectively chairmen of JP Morgan and Berkshire Hathaway, advocate for doing away with quarterly earnings-per-share guidance. Why? Because this guidance “often leads to a focus on short-term profits rather than long-term strategy and growth”.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice”, Philippians 4:4.  

If you’re a newspaper reader as I am, mornings can sometimes be a challenge for my equilibrium. Bad news makes the front page and does its best to assault my conviction that God is sovereign in this world. There is great value being rooted in the scriptures, and in understanding the times. 1 Peter reiterates for us the truth that our joy and hope is rooted in what we know to be true of God and his working in the world – from day one to the day when all things are made new in Christ. In that light I can rejoice.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice”, Philippians 4:4. 

Paul’s letter to the Philippians is full of joy and thanksgiving – he used his own thankful heart to teach and encourage the church to live joyfully in light of the gospel.  Even, and perhaps especially, in challenging times.  This season of Lent is a time of reflection and repentance that leads directly and unequivocally to an unencumbered joy in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  We have an abundant new life in Christ, and the hope of all things being made new.