Friday, August 07, 2009


Having been a vigorous atheist from the age of 8, I became a follower of Jesus at the age of 14. Ever since then I have tried in my feeble and failing way to invest at least some energy in making the world a little better. That had huge consequences for my family, including having to leave the country I love. However, even in the more congenial West, one is always conscious of how deeply unfashionable and unrewarded it is to be engaged even partially in something so quixotic. From time to time, one gets discouraged.

Then I call to mind the story of the discouraged prophet who complained to God that he was the only prophet left unkilled by a wicked queen and that even he was being hunted. The prophet is told that actually seven thousand people were still faithful to God. In the Bible, three symbolises God, seven symbolises perfection, and ten symbolises plenitude - so you do not need me to spell out what ten times ten times ten indicates. In another story, the prophet Elisha asks God to give his discouraged servant a momentary glimpse of what is really going on, so that he is encouraged.

An experience like those happened to me yesterday, when I received the following mail from someone who I had never even heard of earlier:

"I teach both an undergraduate course in organizational behavior as well as an MBA course in leadership and organizational behavior at Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey.

"Ever since I heard your program on NPR's Speaking of Faith on “The Gods of Business,” I have begun these courses by asking the students to listen to that program and then write a three-page “working note” (based on the idea originated by A.K Rice at the Tavistock Institute).

"It has been a wonderful way to get business majors to take seriously the relationship between their goal of learning how to make lots of money and their responsibility as citizens of the human community. They respond thoughtfully and it sets the stage for a usefuI semester. I thank you and Krista Tippett for the conversation."

Dr. Thomas Michael, who is Professor Emeritus at the Rohrer College of Business, goes on to say "I intend to begin the MBA class with the program again this September" and then to ask some questions that I was happy to try to answer.

Dear Dr. Michael, thank you. I do not know if you realise it but in Hebrew, which is the language from which your surname comes, "Michael" means "Who is like God". Because Michael is the name of one of the chief angels in the Bible (as well as in the Koran), I take it that the name indicates that, of all created beings, Michael is most like God. In the two or three glimpses we are given of him in the Bible, Michael both works actively himself for God, and assists and encourages others in their work.

Dear Dr. Michael, I have no idea whether you put your trust in God or do not even believe that He exists. But in working for ethics and responsibility you are acting like the angel - indeed like God, as God Himself directly encourages us and requires us to be...and you may not have realised this either, but you encouraged me like your namesake angel yesterday. Sphere: Related Content

1 comment:

Joanna said...

Thank you for your encouraging post. I asked for encouragement yesterday and your post renewed my focus.