Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Power of Cartoons

God has given us many ways to communicate: Sermons, Stories, Novels, Essays, Plays, Music, Cartoons, etc. I recently ran across a cartoon that communicated a very important teaching of the Bible in just a few words.

Jesus' descent into hell is often misunderstood by Christians. When people hear the word "hell," they immediately think of suffering. When they hear of the descent into hell, they think that Jesus went there to suffer. But He certainly didn't do this to suffer. Peter tells us what happened:

1 Peter 3:18-19 (NKJV) For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, 19 by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison.

Jesus preached to the spirits in prison in order to proclaim His complete and perfect victory over
Satan and all the powers of evil. The descent into hell is a proclamation of our salvation. Theologians have written about this with many words. But Johnny Hart, in his comic strip B.C., explains it so simply that anyone can understand it:

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Your Prayers Are Worthless

     Several people have mentioned to me their dismay that a number of notable people have made fun and mocked the Christian response to the tragic church shooting in Texas recently. The Huffington Post ran an article that included comments such as these: “If prayers did anything, they’d still be alive.” “To all those asking for thoughts and prayers for the victims in [the church shooting], it seems that your direct line to God is not working.”  “Clearly your prayers aren’t working if a mass shooting can take place in a church.” “They were in church. Prayers are not helpful.” “Your prayers are worthless.”

     On the surface, all of these people were calling for government solutions to this kind of evil. God has created governments just for this very purpose, and we need to pray that they will help to curb those who commit such terrible crimes. But beneath the surface there is a Nietzsche-esce view of life in which God is not real or helpful. They mock those who pray because they deny God’s existence. People who pray are disgusting to them just as prayerful Christians were disgusting to the German philosopher Nietzsche. He saw no use in trusting God to help. In fact, he saw Christianity as a detriment to society because, in his mind, it made men weak. But Nietzsche’s personal life was a disaster and so it has been for most of those who have tried to live by his philosophy.

     Christianity is anything but weak. We pray for God’s help not because we are helpless to do anything. We pray because, in this case, the problem is truly spiritual. This attack on these Christians was an example of evil in action. Humans can and must face down evil and try to curb it. But no human will ever be able to solve the problem of evil. We pray for faith, wisdom and courage to live our lives according to God’s will in a world dominated by spiritual forces that are adamantly opposed to God’s will.

     We will fight this good fight to the end. Christianity will not die away even if every single Christian is ultimately put to the sword. For what may look like weakness to the world will soon be vindicated by God’s judgment. Throughout the Bible there are references to this reality as John saw in his vision of those who will come out of the great tribulation (Revelation 9.9ff). God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. But for the world that denied Him and mocked Him, there will be nothing to see but endless tears of bitterness and despair.

Message for Evening Prayer, November 8, 2017

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

How To Avoid Being a Hypocrite


In 2009 Richard and Mayumi Heene launched a helium balloon in Colorado and tearfully exclaimed to authorities that their six-year-old son, Falcon, had accidentally climbed inside. A frenetic chase began with helicopters following the balloon until it finally landed not far from Denver International Airport. But the boy was not in the balloon. Some thought he had fallen out along the way. Finally the boy was found safely hiding in the rafters in his family's garage. Everyone, especially the parents, were relieved.

The next day the Richard, Mayumi, and Falcon were interviewed by Wolf Blitzer on CNN. Blitzer asked the boy why he had stayed in the garage? The boy famously answered, "You guys said that, um, we did this for the show." Blitzer didn't catch the comment and later ignored it when told about it by the control room. The next day the three were interviewed on ABC's Good Morning America and NBC's Today. When Falcon was asked about his earlier comment, he vomited. Very soon after that the whole thing was determined to be a hoax perpetrated to gain media attention.

The "Balloon Boy" incident teaches us some good lessons about hypocrisy. Poor Falcon suffered from what psychologists call "cognitive dissonance." He couldn't bear holding onto the lie anymore. He struggled with it until it had to come out, and it did in more ways than one! But the parents suppressed their hypocrisy. All of us are faced with the same dilemma from time to time.

Jesus had some incredibly harsh things to say about hypocrisy. In the Parable of the Weeds and the Wheat (Matthew 13.24-30; 36-43), He warned that hypocrisy would finally be condemned in the last judgment. In Matthew 23 Jesus devoted and entire chapter to the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees. Obviously hypocrisy is a serious problem, and Jesus doesn't talk about it just to condemn the hard-boiled hypocrites. He's also warning all of us "soft-boiled" hypocrites.

All of us are born into sin as David affirms in Psalm 51.5 "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me." The heart of sin is hypocrisy because all temptation is a lie. Like Adam and Eve and Falcon, we can be drawn into it. That's bad enough. But what happens next is critically important. If we suppress it and abide in it, we will eventually be destroyed by it. If we struggle against it and repent of it, it will be destroyed, but we will be saved. The only weapon that can destroy a lie is the truth. Jesus came, the truth of God in the flesh, to destroy the lies and deceptions of sin in the flesh.

But there is even more good news. Not only does God forgive us when we get caught in hypocrisy, He also gives us some good ways to prevent it. Hypocrisy is a lie that we are tempted to use to try to get something. The problem is that lies never get us what we want. They actually give us much worse. To avoid hypocrisy Jesus urges us to put our trust in Him. He gives us the truth and promises to save us in the truth. David also talked about this: "Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts,
And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom" (Psalm 51.6). When the temptations to hypocrisy creep into our lives, it is good to recognize them, repent of them, and look to Jesus to lead us to the good things that only come through by the truth.

Hymn:  "I Am Trusting Thee Lord Jesus"  LSB 729

Evening Prayer Service - July 26, 2017

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Hermaphrodites and the Medical Invention of Sex by Alice Dreger

This is an interesting book that attempts to advise medical professionals who treat intersexed people. There are many varieties of intersexuality (a person is born with male and female characteristics). These can be mild to severe. The severe cases are very rare, but they are very difficult to treat. Dreger challenges the “modernistic” treatment protocols which called for sex assignment early in life. The theory of this protocol was that it would lead to a happier and more successful life rather than allowing the child to grow up with an ambiguous sense of sexual identity.

Dreger prefers a “postmodern” approach that considers intersexuality normal and gender identity fluid. She argues that the surgeries early in life yield questionable results and that the children still grow up with psychological problems. She thinks that no harm will come to the child if it is allowed to be intersexed and then decide later in life if they would prefer some kind of sex assignment surgery. I would need to hear more opinions about this from other doctors, but I think her views should be considered. Severe intersexuality is a difficult problem, and I doubt that there are any easy solutions.

While the question of medical treatment is the foreground of the book, there is definitely a back stream argument being made. Rare cases of intersexuality are used by feminists and homosexuals to argue that heterosexual sex is not the norm… that there is no normal when it comes to sexuality. Sex is ultimately whatever we want it to be. Does nature confirm this or deny this?

Nature is mostly modernist, not postmodernist no matter how badly we might want it to be. Nature does have its moments of gray in the dawn and dusk, but most of the time it is clearly either night or day. Nature favors the night and day of binary sexuality and heterosexuality because it is the most common form of sexuality and because it is the only way to conceive children and the best way to rear them.

Whether we should allow the pursuit of other sexualities or not, or whether we should force people to accept and celebrate other sexualities is a tremendous question today. In my community of faith, we do not accept alternate forms of sexuality because they are contrary to nature and because God has deemed them contrary to His will. But no person is forced to be a part of our community. If they disagree they are free to separate, and we will still treat them with love and respect. We will pray for them and care for them, but we cannot approve of their behavior.

In the larger society we will have to determine whether sexual behaviors contrary to nature are helpful or harmful and if they should be encouraged or discouraged. Christians have long discouraged adultery and divorce as harmful sexual behaviors, but the society has disagreed and has done little to curb them. We see the sad results in the destruction of families and poverty. I believe the same will happen with the LGBT lifestyles because they are not natural and will not prove to be helpful to society.

Ovid’s myth of Hermaphroditus is found in Book IV of Metamorphoses. The gods Hermes and Aphrodite, the embodiments of ideal manhood and womanhood, have a son named Hermaphroditus. He was a beautifully formed male. The nymph, Salmacis, saw him bathing in her fountain and wanted to be united with him. The gods, in their sense of humor, took her literally and united their bodies together being fully male and fully female.

Figure out how someone organizes the world, and you will understand how he sees the world. Page 140

Carl Linnaeus named us mammals "partly because of his fascination with women's breasts and his involvement in a debate over wet nursing; Linnaeus wanted to see women start farming out their babies too wet nurses, and this contributed to his decision to make the breast the memories the marker trait of mammals.” Page 140

In the late 19th Century scientific men chose gonodal anatomy as the marker for sex classification systems because it made it possible to uphold a stark division into male and female. Page 140 (Or because the was one of the most obvious markers of sexual identity? My note)

Postmodernism has brought with it the recognition that there can never be a single, self evident, “true” story to be told about life, disease, or condition. In the past, if a relatively disempowered person's story conflicted with the dominant story, the socially weaker individuals tail was likely to go unheard or discounted. Page 171

Intersexual's have realized that, like straight women and gay people, they need not be treated as fundamentally unacceptable or flaw– that it is not their bodies that make their lives difficult but the cultural demands forced upon their bodies. Page 173

The modern-day medical technological approach to intersexuality is extremely modernistic. Typically, after the hospital birth of an intersex baby, teams of specialists are immediately assembled. These doctors decide to which sex/death gender a given child will be assigned, and the power of modern medicine is then  brought to bear to create and maintain that sex in as believable a form as possible. Page 181

That psychosocial gender identity th established in by John Money in the 1950s, holds that all children must have their gender identity fixed very early in life; that from very early in life children's anatomy must match the standard anatomy for their gender; and that boys primarily require adequate penises without a vagina, while girls primarily require a vagina with no noticeable phallus. This psychosocial theory of intersexuality presumes that these rules must be followed if intersexual children are to achieve successful adjustment appropriate to their assigned gender – that is, if they are to act like girls, boys, men, and women are supposed to… Page 182

Intersex surgeons make their decisions and incisions within a heterosexist framework. Page 184

The presumption that restitution to a male or female sex is possible and is possicle  primarily via medical technology is also notably modernistic. Remarkably, the medical – technological approach rains in intersex medicine despite the fact that intersects experts ridley confess that inter-sexuality is not primarily a medical problem but instead a social problem. Page 186

Most objectionable too many feminists and where critics is the presumption inherent in these protocols that there is a right way to be a male and a right way to be a female, and that children who are born challenging these categories should be reconstructed to fit into them. Page 188

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

If a Christian Commits Suicide, Will They Go to Heaven?

Recently I visited a third grade classroom in our school, and I was taking questions from the kids. One of the questions was: "If a Christian Commits Suicide, Will They Go to Heaven?" What an important question from a third grader!

One of the most popular shows on Netflix right now is "13 Reasons Why," a controversial show about a student who committed suicide and then left messages telling thirteen people why it was their fault. Kids as well as adults are thinking about these things. 

There are two kinds of suicides. The most common is committed by those who have no faith in God. All people who refuse to fear, love and trust in the Triune God are essentially a god unto themselves despite whatever outward religion they may profess. Faith in anything but the Triune God is faith in yourself. That is because only the Triune God promises forgiveness and salvation. Those who die with faith in themselves cannot be saved whether they commit suicide or not.

The other kind of suicide is committed sometimes by true believers. This kind of suicide could be caused by sickness and/or the oppression of the devil. Just as our stomach or heart can be sick so can our minds be sick. This can drive a person who truly believes in Jesus to commit suicide. Martin Luther said that such a suicide might be caused by the devil who drove them to kill themselves.* Both could be possible.

Sometimes people wonder, "If our last act on earth was a sin, and we didn't repent, how can we be saved?" This a misunderstanding of our sinful condition. We are always sinning, and we will all die with unrepented sin. This is because we are not perfect, and we "all fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3.23). This is not the same as living in unrepented sin. When a person sins continually and has accepted that sin, they have turned away from God. This is why, in a sermon I preached for a person who committed suicide** I stressed that all Christians must live in repentance and forgiveness. When we turn away from this, we are lost. As we struggle in this, we are saved. 

This is not to say that suicide is okay for Christians. I have a man in my congregation who has wanted to commit suicide for over twenty years. The one thing that holds him back is the fear of going to hell. This is a valid fear. It is not a contradiction to what I just said above. Notice that when I referred to sickness or to the oppression of the devil, I said both could be "possible" causes of suicide. Suicide is not to be considered an option for Christians. It is a temptation that we must fight with all our might. No one knows for sure what actually is going on deep inside someone's heart. If they commit suicide as a Christian, we can hope that they were saved. But there is no doubt that such an act leaves us wondering - Did they have true faith?  That we have to leave in God's hands. But for us who are living, we must contend with this terrible temptation if it ever comes upon us. 

I beg anyone who has this temptation, PLEASE tell a pastor or another faithful Christian about your temptation. Don't try to fight it on your own. Don't try to manage it only with medications and certainly not with alcohol or drugs. Spiritual battles need to be fought with spiritual weapons. You can win this battle with God's grace. 

*Luther's Table Talks No. 222
Suicides Are Not Necessarily Damned
April 7, 1532

“I don’t share the opinion that suicides are certainly to be damned. My reason is that they do not wish to kill themselves but are overcome by the power of the devil. They are like a man who is murdered in the woods by a robber. However, this ought not be taught to the common people, lest Satan be given an opportunity to cause slaughter, and I recommend that the popular custom be strictly adhered to according to which it [the suicide’s corpse] is not carried over the threshold, etc.80 Such persons do not die by free choice or by law, but our Lord God will dispatch them as he executes a person through a robber. Magistrates should treat them quite strictly, although it is not plain that their souls are damned. However, they are examples by which our Lord God wishes to show that the devil is powerful and also that we should be diligent in prayer. But for these examples, we would not fear God. Hence he must teach us in this way.”
80 According to popular belief the corpse of a suicide was not to be carried out of the house “over the threshold.” Cf. WA, TR 1, 95, n. 7.

Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 54: Table Talk. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 54, p. 29). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.

**Nothing shall separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8.38-39

     There are things in this life that can shake us to the core. Learning that your son, your brother, or your friend is gone at such a young age is one of those things. It is a shock to our souls. _______ was strong and healthy in many ways. But in some ways he was struggling and fighting demons that we can only imagine.

     It is very easy to gloss over the harsh realities of life and to pretend that somehow everything is really okay. Everything is not okay in this world, and whether we want to admit it or not, all of us are struggling or will struggle with our own troubles in this life.  Most Americans just automatically assume that everyone who dies, except for really bad characters, always go to heaven. This is not at all true. First, Jesus  said, “wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it” (Matthew 7.13). Most are not saved.  Second, Jesus also said that even bad characters can go to heaven. To the thief on the cross who repented and believed in Him, Jesus said, “Today you will be with Me in paradise” (Luke 23.43). So in two very important ways Jesus contradicts popular thinking. People don’t just automatically go to heaven – even good people, and, even people who aren’t so good can still go to heaven.  Why?

     The answer lies in the fact that heaven is gift not a reward. If it is given and received in repentance and faith, it means salvation. “By faith you have been saved, by faith, an that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2.8). If it is rejected for some other alternative, like a trade – my good life for God’s eternal life – it will not happen. God takes no trades. He only gives, and we can only receive.

     What does it mean to receive this gift? It means we must put down all our pride and presumption and become very humble people… Humble to the point of saying, “Dear God, I am a lost and condemned sinner. Please forgive my sins and save me.” We have to recognize how broken we are in order to receive the healing that God alone can give. When a person goes through this, and when they cry out for the mercy of God, then they are saved.

     __________ was baptized in _______  in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I had the opportunity to teach him and his brothers as much as I could any 7th or 8th grader about sin and about salvation in Jesus. He received all of that and did not reject it. As his life went on, he found many other good blessings from God as an athlete, friend and member of a loving family.

     I don’t know what kind of internal struggles he had. But I do have some experience with that agony. That is when a Christian, in the pit of despair, cries out to God for help. And even though he may have been so beaten down and broken by Satan, God’s promises are always stronger and better. “Nothing shall separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.” This is a promise that God will fulfill to anyone, no matter where they are, no matter what dark corner of life they may be in, who simply says, “Jesus, help me.”

     When Satan puts us in a corner and comes to crush us, it is only Jesus who can save us. This is because Satan put Him in the darkest corner of this world when He was abandoned by His friends, let down by the world’s justice, and torn apart by those who loved evil. As He was being crushed under the load of all our sins He said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”  Sin is insanity and death. Jesus is the resurrection and the life. He died on His cross so that when we come to ours, we can believe in Him who rose again. Amen.

Monday, April 24, 2017

A Christian View of "Wealth of Nations"

Scottish philosopher and economist Adam Smith first published Wealth of Nations in 1776. It is a foundational book for classical economics. In it he promotes the idea of "the invisible hand," that an economy operates best when it is left alone by the government...

“It is the highest impertinence and presumption therefore in kings and ministers to, pretend to watch over the economy of private people and to restrain their expense either by sumptuary laws or by prohibiting the importation of foreign luxuries. They are themselves always and without any exception the greatest spendthrifts in the society. Let them look well after their own expense, and they may safely trust private people with theirs. If their own extravagance does not ruin the state, that of their subjects never will.”

But what about that last phrase, "that of their subjects never will... ruin the state"?

Smith is sharply critical of the morality and foolishness of the ruling class. But he passes lightly over the morality of the common man. At one point he said that the impulse to save for overall improvement of one’s life is greater than the impulse to spend on present pleasure. This might have been true in his day as free societies were emerging (especially America) and since the European and American societies were strongly influenced by the Christian faith. Smith doesn't mention this latter point at all. In fact he considered clergy in general to be "idle hands" that produce nothing and therefore are a drag on the economy.

I read the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times daily and I rarely hear anything of the relationship between the morality of a society and its productivity. In Smith's case he probably just assumed that the morality for productivity would always be present in society.  Smith observes this simple truth: productivity can only be increased by increasing the number of productive people or the productivity of the individual people themselves. His great assumption is that if people were only given the right to own capital and to work and trade freely all will be well. But there is more to it than that.

This is one of my favorite quotes and is the basis for almost all of my thoughts about economics:

"Whatever is prudence in a family cannot be folly in a great kingdom."

In fact the Greek word underlying the English word "economy" is the Greek word for "family." Smith does say that the greatest encouragement to industry is the equal administration of justice so that each man can retain the fruits of his own labors. But this statement assumes that each man really wants to labor and is not inclined to cheat his neighbor. The fact is that the same immoral tendencies of the ruling class are also found in all people. While ownership and free trade are essential to productivity, they are not sufficient. We need what every family needs: Self-sacrifice for others, respect, honesty, self-discipline, cooperation, etc. Where do these habits come from? I would argue that they have all been part of the Christian worldview which until twentieth century and Europe and the twenty first century in America. What will happen to productivity if this worldview is displaced by something else?

Here are the rest of my notes on Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations.

Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith

Audio Book, 35 hours 17 minutes

Smith compares an uncivilized nation to a civilized one. In the former most are employed as hunters or fishermen. Yet they suffer want. In the latter some do not work at all and consume much of the produce. Yet even the poorest in this nation is much better off than in the uncivilized nation. This book endeavors tp explain why this is so.

Savage people all do the same thing. But a society is better off if they divide the labor and specialize in their work.

Superior nations excel in agricultural production.

“It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves not to their humanity, but to their self love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages. Nobody but a beggar chooses to depend chiefly on the benevolence of his companions.”

Smith distinguishes between the natural price and the market price. The market price may increase due to scarcity or to the wealth and competition of the consumers.

The goal of workmen is to increase their wages. The goal of masters is to decrease them. Since the masters are fewer in number, it is easier for them to combine and to control the wages.When there is a dispute, the masters can live longer on their stock than the workman.

Smith notes that half of all children die before reaching maturity.

Wages rise with the increase of national wealth.

The most important measure of national wealth is population growth. Population in England was doubling every 500 years. Population in the colonies was doubling every 20-25 years. Labor in the colonies is so well rewarded that large families are a boon not a burden.

China was one of the most populated and well cultivated countries in the world. Yet wages were very low. Poverty was terrible. Children were drowned like puppies in water.

The reward of labor is the reason for increasing national wealth.

Vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, turnips, etc., had decreased in price by half in the last 30 years. This because of the transition from the spade to the plow.

Poor people have a higher birth rate. Prosperity hinders conception. Infertility is more common among the rich than among the poor. Also the rich find it difficult to have more than two or three children. Poverty, however, is a great detriment to the rearing of children.

Every species multiplies in proportion to their means of subsistence.

If there is a greater demand for labor, there will be a greater reward for it. This greater reward will also increase population growth.

The wages of labor are the encouragement of industry.

Where wages are high the workmen will be more industrious.

Workmen paid well by the piece often overworked themselves.

Workmen who work moderately last longer and will produce the greater amount of work.

Smith mentions laws that capped interest rates. 10% was probably the most common legal maximum. Religious zeal sometimes caused all interest to be outlawed, but Smith points out that this probably increased the amount of usury that was actually taking place.

Proverb: “Money makes money.”

In the Roman Empire courts rarely got involved in contract disputes. This was probably the cause of high interest rates.

The vocation of executioner is the highest paid vocation. Hunting fishing are low paying because many enjoy those vocations.

Most men over value their own skills.

Husbandry requires some of the greatest skills, and these skills are hard to develop.

Large corporations do not improve productivity. The greatest motivator for productivity is not the corporation but the customer. (The closer the workman is to the customer, the higher his motivation will be to greater productivity.)

Clergymen were paid roughly the same as journeymen. Clergymen are often paid 40 lbs/year.

Clergymen and men of letters were often paid less because their education is paid for by the government, and therefore there were many of them. This lowered their wages. Scholars were sometimes granted licenses to beg. (This could also be because what they produced, such as encouragements toward morality, were not valued by the society.)

Rice is the most productive crop. A rice field is a bog and is unfit for any other crop. Potatoes are another very productive crop. Potatoes are nutritious. They are difficult to store.

Rich people take great pride in objects that are very scarce. Beauty, utility and scarcity drive prices higher.

Labor is really the value that lies behind all silver.

A certain amount of gold and silver is lost every year by those who bury it and then die.

Three great orders of society: 1. Those who live by rent. 2. Those who live by labor.3. Those who live by profit.

“If the prodigality of some was not compensated by the frugality of others, the conduct of every prodigal, by feeding the idle with the bread of the industrious, tends not only to beggar himself, but to impoverish the country.”

“Every prodigal appears to be a public enemy, and every frugal man a public benefactor.”

Smith held a positive view of men in general. Claimed that the impulse to save for overall improvement of one’s life is greater than the impulse to spend on present pleasure. I wonder what he would say about that today?

Smith complains about the unproductive segments of society (unproductive hands): clergy, politicians, and the military. These people produce nothing and have to be maintained at the expense of those who are productive.

Overall productivity can only be increased by increasing the number of productive people or the productivity of the individual people themselves.

Productivity can only be increased through improved technology or through a better distribution of labor. Both of these require capital.

“It is the highest impertinence and presumption therefore in kings and ministers to, pretend to watch over the economy of private people and to restrain their expense either by sumptuary laws or by prohibiting the importation of foreign luxuries. They are themselves always and without any exception the greatest spendthrifts in the society. Let them look well after their own expense, and they may safely trust private people with theirs. If their own extravagance does not ruin the state, that of their subjects never will.”

“A person who can acquire no property can have no other interest but to eat as much and labor as little as possible. Whatever work he does beyond what is sufficient to purchase his own maintenance can be squeezed out of him by violence only and not by any interest of his own.”

Smith notes that in ancient Italy cultivation of corn degenerated when production depended on slaves.

“In commercial countries therefore, riches, in spite of the most violent regulations of laws to prevent their dissipation, very seldom remain long in the same family.”

In a country where the land is owned by a few, the overall productivity will be less than in a country where the land is owned by many. The small proprietor is more productive than the large proprietor.

“Whatever is prudence in a family cannot be folly in a great kingdom.”

Smith concludes that famines are caused by governments which try to remedy the inconveniences of a natural dearth.

Smith says that laws concerning corn are similar to laws concerning religion. Both tend to be a logical because they suffer from the prejudices of the people.

Smith says that Spain took over the countries that Columbus discovered because the people were unable to defend themselves. They sanctified this decision with the idea that they were doing it to bring these people to Christianity.

Smith complains about tithes that are rigorously imposed upon people. He also says that donations given to mendicant beggars are attacks upon the poor.

Smith points out that in the colonies legislative duties and some executive duties are carried out by the people themselves in a Republican manner. There is more equality among the people in the colonies then there is in the mother country.

Smith contends that slaves treated with respect and gentleness or more useful and productive than slaves that were mistreated.

The greatest encouragement to industry is the equal administration of justice so that each man can retain the fruits of his own labors.

Smith argues that Britain should let the colonies go free.  This would alleviate the great expense of the military control of the colonies. Free trade between Britain and the colonies would increase the wealth of all. The only thing that maintains the war is the economic advantages that the political class has through its laws and regulations.

Smith says that in America shopkeepers tradesmen and lawyers are becoming statesmen and that they are forming a new kind of government. He predicted that this empire would become one of the greatest of all.  

Smith highlights three great inventions: the first is the invention of writing, the second is the invention of money, and the third is the invention of economical tables which is the combination of the first two.

China is such a huge country that it has its own division of labor which supports a great amount of it as wealth. However China's wealth would increase much more if it would take on foreign trade.

Smith compares the mines of Hungary and in the mines in Turkey. The mines of Hungary are much more prosperous because they are worked by freemen. These freeman employ much more technology than the slaves that work in the mines in Turkey.

When capital is given to one species of the economy by “extraordinary encouragement,” the overall wealth of the economy is diminished.

As a nation becomes more productive and wealthy, it invites the jealousy of other nations who might seek to rob its wealth.

Where there is no property, civil government is not so necessary.

In England court lawyers and clerics were paid by the page. This led to the increase of writing.

Smith complains about stupid missionaries who exaggerate their descriptions of foreign lands.

Smith criticizes the notion that foreign travel is good for the education of youth.

The defense of a nation rests on the “martial spirit” of the people.

Religious teachers that receive their income from their hearers are always more ambitious than those who receive income from other sources.

Religious Teachers with new ideas often gain an audience while the teachers holding to the past have more trouble keeping their followers. This leads them to appeal to the government to restrain the teachers of new ideas.

People should support the state according to the ability that they have… (A graduated tax!)

The poor generally raise more children. Some of the poor are disorderly and have bad conduct. However they do not raise many children because perish for want. (The welfare state has changed this.)

“There is nothing so absurd which has not sometimes been asserted by some philosophers.” Cicero

The Romans, at the end of the First Punic War, reduced the value of the “oz” in order to pay off debts… from 12 oz of copper to two oz. This did not create a lot of problems. The poor were in debt to the rich. They benefitted from this. (This is probably Paul Krugman is such an advocate for national debt. He probably thinks it can only help the poor since it provides them with public aid, and it is eventually paid for by the rich. However, how much have the poor lost through the lack of private enterprise? In the end the people he wants to help are still poor.)

Most nations have reduced the value of their currency.

Smith ends with an appeal to get out of the colony trade which brings more loss than profit.