Book Review: How Women Help Men Find God

. October 23, 2011

Jesus wasn't a nice guy. And neither should you be.

Few of us have heard the above sentiment expressed in church, let alone explored. Yet, after reading the gospels, it's hard to come away with the impression that Jesus was a safe, predictable person who would have made a good churchgoer.

Can you imagine one of your church's deacons grabbing a flesh-eating whip and creating instant pandemonium in God's house of worship, driving out money changers and overturning their tables?

What Would Jesus Do?

Here's a selection of Jesus' "nice guy" stories from Mark 11 alone: 

He curses a fig tree and says, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” Peter notices later that the fig tree has withered.

After driving the money changers from the temple, he says “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’ ” This definitely isn't perceived as a nice saying, as it prompts the religious authorities to fear Jesus and begin looking for a way to kill Him.

Instead of answering a question, Jesus shoots back more questions. When His questioners fail to answer, Jesus ends the conversation on His own terms (vv. 27-33).

What Have We Done?

According to David Murrow's book How Women Help Men Find God, we've spent the past half century making church a safe, predictable place where families can gather and children can be protected from a cruel world. The unintended consequence is that men now perceive church as a place where women can be safe and successful, and they've shifted their lives to center around things that are culturally perceived as manly, such as work, hobbies, and sporting events.

Murrow thinks that women can help bring men back by being gentle witnesses and by making sacrifices to make church more appealing to men. We can change the decor, create volunteer opportunities men can feel fulfilled in, make our churches more theologically oriented (and make arguing about theology okay), and intentionally encourage discipleship between men.

While all this is important, it dances around something more central, which is the what that is passed down by good theology and man-to-man discipleship. That something is what it means to live the Christian life as a man.

The Art of Manliness

I've written about this before: for example, check out How to Trade Like Zorro. When I step back, though, I think we are rushing to catch up with what those outside of the church have realized for a while now. We no longer live in a culture that understands what it means to be a gentleman, an honorable guy who defends others but has the strength to stand up for the interests of his own family.

We're happy to tell our sons to be nice like Jesus was (whatever that means). Then they get married and feel they have to bend over for that life insurance salesman who pushes the most expensive policies so he can get a big commission up front. We teach our men to be nice, but they're suddenly supposed to summon supernatural courage to share their faith at work or do the right thing at a great cost.

Dave Murrow's books are a great start, but they're also a late start, as the case usually is when the church tries to address a contemporary problem. Non-Christian sites like the Art of Manliness provide a wealth of insight about being men in this relativistic culture. The effort we put into taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ will be worth it.

If you're really brave, take a look at this parody of our Christian-ized view of masculinity:

Mad Markets

Growing in masculine maturity has a side benefit: It will make you a more effective trader and investor. Markets are driven by fear, greed, and crowd behavior. This creates profit opportunities for us, but only if we're willing to go against the crowd at turning points in the market.

In the moments when we're most tempted to buy or sell, it takes a lot of internal strength to do the opposite. If you're a people-pleaser, you'll always face the strong temptation to do what others tell you to do, even if your trading systems tell you otherwise. Markets are rough on nice guys: just ask Sir Isaac Newton.

Like Zorro, you can follow the crowd when it suits you and buck the trend at the right time. The less other people are able to manipulate your beliefs, the more control you'll have over how you respond to the markets.

I'll leave you with an excerpt from the back cover of How Women Help Men Find God:
Millions of married women worship alone every Sunday. Mothers grieve as their teenage sons abandon the faith. Single women search in vain for godly men.

In this dynamic follow-up to his best-selling Why Men Hate Going to Church, David Murrow speaks directly to women to help them understand the real reasons men resist Christianity. It's the first book of its kind - written to help women reach all the men in their lives - not just their husbands. With straight talk, personal stories, and a dose of good humor, David shows women how to draw men to Christ - without guilt, manipulation, or pushy evangelism.

Volatility Does Matter

. October 1, 2011

On the whole "volatility doesn't matter" thing: Yes, it does.

Imagine if you had a guarantee that your stocks or silver or whatever would be worth in ten years at least what they are worth today. They can't go down.

This Is Indexed: Learning Curves
on Winding Roads
You'd probably feel more comfortable increasing your risk somewhere else. You might start a business, buy a rental property, or take a vacation.

Lower market risk makes you feel more comfortable about taking risk in other areas, and rightly so. People even pay for this privilege: it's called a put option, a form of financial insurance.

If you had a strategy that could keep you out of high-volatility periods of the market, would you use it?

That's what trend-following, a form of momentum trading, does. The market tends to have high volatility when it's going down. Momentum strategies avoid being in the market during those times.