If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans


PLANNING IS SOMETHING that people learned from God. The lesson might be said to have begun with the prescriptions God laid out for His earthly habitation among the Israelites: the Tabernacle that housed Him in the desert, and then the Temple that was His residence in Jerusalem. The dimensions of these structures were dictated by a divine blueprint. The Temple gave birth to a city, and from it emerged a civilization. We are descendants of this tradition, irrespective of such trivialities as whether one identifies as a “believer.” Its most obvious inheritors are those who shout of “God’s plan for you” from street corners and write “purpose-driven” books, people for whom the blueprint—and our basic need to follow it—is a raft in the ocean of time. But this tradition also finds resonance in something as ordinary as the practical virtue of prudence: the present’s responsible response to the uncertainties of the future, which Thomas Aquinas considered the highest of the cardinal virtues.

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