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Divine Reading

We want to share one of the back stories about our writing of Better Capitalism. Our thinking here is that our further transparency will provide our book readers with an additional insight and provide those working to apply Partnership Economics with an additional resource.

Part 1 of Better Capitalism ends with Chapter 4, titled "A Clearer Vision." We added that chapter after recognizing that any (or perhaps all three) of our Jesus-Adam Smith-Ayn Rand analyses in the following Part 2 could be disruptive, and therefore carelessly dismissed by potentially defensive readers with long-held contrary beliefs regarding any of these three people. Not only did we have the typical need of a good transition between the themes of Parts 1 and 2, but we also needed a thoughtful bridge – a drawbridge to use the first analogy in the book – to help potentially defensive readers successfully transition toward Part 2 with an open mind.

Far from encouraging readers to be so open minded that their brains leak out, in Chapter 4 we sought to teach through illustration the need for clearer vision that leads to seeing unexpected perspectives. An engaged reader, we think, would want to see and understand not just the surface but what may lay deeper. If you’ve read Better Capitalism, you know we achieved our drawbridge transition with the help of two optical illusions. We landed on using the illustrations of optical illusions to encourage the reception of new perspectives by pulling directly from our seminary training.

Photo Credit: Varun Gaba on

In seminary we were introduced to the Benedictine practice of spiritual reading, meditation and prayer when engaging a biblical text called Lectio Divina (Latin for “Divine Reading”). Lectio Divina is not a method of study so much as it is a method of putting or imagining yourself in the text in order to experience – understand at an additionally deeper level – what the words are saying. It’s not an attempt to read into the text but to read more, like studying the non-verbal communication of a speaker while listening to her words to see what it adds to what she’s saying.

For us in our early days of seminary Lectio Divina – this slow, contemplative praying of Scripture – was initially uncomfortable. It was simply counter-intuitive for us to relax while reading Scripture, as we thought we had to work to squeeze meaning from the text. After some Lectio Divina practice, however, we began to release our control over the text and began to listen to the text. That’s right; listen to the text. Therein lay the secret, at least for us and many before us: releasing control of the text in exchange for listening to the text. The result of listening to the text is frequently a connectedness, a third-dimensional perspective into the two-dimensional words on the page, that provides bright insight and appreciation for the complexity of the world beneath the text.

Between seminary and conceptualizing Better Capitalism we have read writings and text – not just Scripture – with the discipline of Lectio Divina. Applying this discipline to the writings of Adam Smith and Ayn Rand opened perspectives for us that we didn’t see before. This allowed us to see and connect the dots of mutuality and mutual benefit across the ages that has led us to novel scholarship. To explain and illustrate that emerging of the complexity below the text that we wanted the reader to follow in Part 2, we used the illustration and explanation of the stereogram (the MagicEye® image in Chapter 4) that reveals the image of a dragon and knight facing each other undeniably just below the surface of a complex geometric pattern. With the discipline of Lectio Divina, mutuality and mutual benefit emerged as themes for us from the writings of these three as plainly as the dragon and knight image emerged for us from the stereogram.

We hope this back story is helpful to your understanding of Better Capitalism, as well as your work implementing Partnership Economics. Following our example, we invite you to consider the practice of Lectio Divina. You never know where it might lead you.

What about you? Share your story, question, comment, idea, disagreement -- yes, we welcome disagreement for the sake of mutual benefit! -- with us at We will give a thoughtful response, with prioritized attention to emails from our subscribers. Subscribe here >>

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