Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 299

so many entertaining tidbits at the end — way more than normal

On Fridays I share articles/resources about broad cultural, societal and theological issues. Be sure to see the explanation and disclaimers at the bottom. I welcome your suggestions. If you read something fascinating please pass it my way.

This is the 299th installment of these emails. 299 is, I am told, the most pieces into which a simple object (like a cube or a sphere — something without a weird structure) can be split using 12 straight cuts.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Why You’re Christian (David Perrell, personal blog): “…I’m a tepid non-believer myself.… [However] I realized that society’s most passionate critics, most of whom claim to be secular, usually have the most Christian values of all. They’ve studied in elite universities, they live in major cities, and they’re proud members of the intelligentsia. Human rights, a centerpiece of their moral outlook, is inconsistent with the rest of their worldview. Though they pride themselves on evidence-based thinking, they’re intellectually bankrupt on the topic of human rights.”
    • Related (at least in my mind): What Became of Atheism, Part One: Wearing the Uniform (Freddie deBoer, Substack): “…if God exists then that is the single most important fact in the history of creation and nothing else can take its crown, ever. If a being exists, of whatever nature, who created reality, exists within all of reality, set reality’s physical and moral rules, watches over all of reality, judges all of us on how devout and moral we are, and determines reward and punishment based on that judgement, that clearly is the truth that trumps all other truths. Strange to let it slip out of the debate quietly in the night. But then I suppose that’s culture war; sooner or later the only question that remains is who is on what side of the line, and all the rest dissolves.”
  2. Justice-related thoughts:
    • ‘The Voice of Your Brother’s Blood Is Crying to Me From the Ground’ (David French, The Dispatch): “…we can articulate three truths of simple, individual justice. First, a grave wrong creates a moral and spiritual cry for redress. Second, it is the role of government to provide that redress. And third, the government must be impartial, treating ‘great and small’ alike. All too many Americans are completely unaware of the extent to which the present structures and habits of American law fail to meet those basic obligations, especially when injustice is visited upon the citizen by the state.”
    • Chauvin Was Convicted. Something Is Still Very Wrong. (Elizabeth Bruenig, New York Times): “Forgiveness doesn’t feel particularly triumphant. It’s a gift no one wants to be in the position to give; it releases a wrongdoer from moral debt — for their own good and the common good, not for the sake of the wronged.… But I want to live in a world where it is possible to forgive and to be forgiven. In fact, I think it’s necessary.”
    • The Real Reason to End the Death Penalty (Paul Graham, Substack): “But in practice the debate about the death penalty is not about whether it’s ok to kill murderers. It’s about whether it’s ok to kill innocent people, because at least 4% of people on death row are innocent.” I find this a really interesting line of argument. Clearly we want to have a 100% accuracy rate in all criminal convictions. But is 96% accuracy outrageously intolerable? To the extent that it becomes a persuasive argument against the death penalty isn’t that then also an argument against imprisonment? Or virtually any punishment?
    • Unjust Secular Justice (Matthew Schmitz,First Things): “While in the colonial era most cases went to trial (and most trials lasted a stunningly short thirty minutes), more and more are now resolved by a plea bargain. Nowhere is our abandonment of colonial ideas of criminal justice more apparent than in no-contest pleas that allow defendants to receive lighter sentences without any admission of guilt.” This is an older book review (2013) but is quite good.
    • Outrage Overload (Jonah Goldberg, The Dispatch): “Modern policing—or even policing qua policing—owes far less to slave patrolling than NASA owes to Hitler’s rocket program. And yet no one talks about the troubling Nazi roots of modern space exploration, or asks Elon Musk if he’s exorcised the ghost of Werner Von Braun from SpaceX. I have seen this slave patrol thing brought up countless times in interviews, and not once have I seen an interviewer say, ‘Really?’ never mind, ‘What the hell are you talking about?’ It’s as batty as any conspiracy theory, and it’s a deliberate attempt to heap innuendo on policing in lieu of making an intelligent argument. And that’s what frustrates me to no end. It’s the job of journalists to call out B.S. when it’s being thrown in their faces.”
  3. Where Two or Three Are Gathered (William J. Haun & Daniel L. Chen, Law & Liberty): “Over 40 amicus briefs lambasted this embrace of open-ended government surveillance—reflecting an ideological agreement so wide that NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina and Wisconsin Right to Life joined the same brief. On the surface, widespread consensus in favor of associational privacy is surely welcome. But this agreement masks equally widespread, decades-long confusion over how and why the Constitution protects free association.” Quite good, a bit dry. The authors are lawyers with the Becket Fund.
  4. “Wokeness is a problem and we all know it” (Sean Illing interviewing James Carville, Vox): “We won the White House against a world-historical buffoon. And we came within 42,000 votes of losing. We lost congressional seats. We didn’t pick up state legislatures. So let’s not have an argument about whether or not we’re off-key in our messaging. We are. And we’re off because there’s too much jargon and there’s too much esoterica and it turns people off.” Carville is a legendary Democratic political strategist and he is in full-on old man rant mode here.
  5. ‘This Is a Catastrophe.’ In India, Illness Is Everywhere. (Jeffrey Gettleman, New York Times): “New Delhi, India’s sprawling capital of 20 million, is suffering a calamitous surge. A few days ago, the positivity rate hit a staggering 36 percent — meaning more than one out of three people tested were infected. A month ago, it was less than 3 percent.”
    1. Related: ‘Death Is the Only Truth.’ Watching India’s Funeral Pyres Burn. (Aman Sethi, New York Times): “The Indian government has ordered Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to take down dozens of posts criticizing its handling of the pandemic. But the graphic images of mass cremations have cut through this wall of noise, misinformation and propaganda, capturing what epidemiologists call ‘excess mortality’ in gruesome detail.”
  6. Columbia Stone (T.A. Krasnican, Substack): “This public forgetfulness is the same indifference that in 1938 inspired Adolf Hitler, after issuing orders for his Nazi ‘death-head formations’ to ‘send to death mercilessly and without compassion, men, women, and children of Polish derivation and language,’ to write the famous phrase, ‘Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?’ Public ambivalence about human tragedy emboldened him.” Recommended by a student.
  7. Individualism is associated with happy countries, but not people (Zaid Jilani, Substack): “In a recently released study, team of researchers studied young adults across four countries — China, the United States, Russia, and Italy — starting with the hypothesis that levels of life satisfaction would be higher among individuals who have individualistic values. At the country level, this is indeed what they found. Countries with a higher index of individualistic values had more life satisfaction — that put America on top, followed by Italy, Russia, and then China. But an entirely different picture emerged when they looked at the individual level. There, they found that individualism had no impact on life satisfaction. Instead, life satisfaction was positively correlated with collectivism, regardless of the wider culture of the country.” My take: Americans are on average happier than the Chinese because of the freedoms which emerge from our individualism, but the happiest individuals in each country are those that freely choose to embrace family and community.

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have No Food Is Healthy. Not Even Kale. (Michael Ruhlman, Washington Post): People can be healthy. Food can be nutritious. This is a wonderful essay about how we misuse language to our detriment. If you’re surprised I included this, I believe that our culture has a quasi-religious relationship to health and to food, and I also believe that the use of language is profoundly moral and that our culture is a linguistic mess (to which I know of no finer guide than The Underground Grammarian). (first shared in volume 33)

Why Do You Send This Email?

In the time of King David, the tribe of Issachar produced shrewd warriors “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chron 12:32). In a similar way, we need to become wise people whose faith interacts with the world. I pray this email gives you greater insight, so that you may continue the tradition of Issachar.

Disclaimer

Chi Alpha is not a partisan organization. To paraphrase another minister: we are not about the donkey’s agenda and we are not about the elephant’s agenda — we are about the Lamb’s agenda. Having said that, I read widely (in part because I believe we should aspire to pass the ideological Turing test and in part because I do not believe I can fairly say “I agree” or “I disagree” until I can say “I understand”) and may at times share articles that have a strong partisan bias simply because I find the article stimulating. The upshot: you should not assume I agree with everything an author says in an article I mention, much less things the author has said in other articles (although if I strongly disagree with something in the article I’ll usually mention it). And to the extent you can discern my opinions, please understand that they are my own and not necessarily those of Chi Alpha or any other organization I may be perceived to represent. Also, remember that I’m not reporting news — I’m giving you a selection of things I found interesting. There’s a lot happening in the world that’s not making an appearance here because I haven’t found stimulating articles written about it. If this was forwarded to you and you want to receive future emails, sign up here. You can also view the archives.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 298

surprisingly little from the news this week — just randomly interesting things

On Fridays I share articles/resources about broad cultural, societal and theological issues. Be sure to see the explanation and disclaimers at the bottom. I welcome your suggestions. If you read something fascinating please pass it my way.

This is volume 298, which is a fairly uninteresting number.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. New Rule: Give It to Me Straight, Doc (Bill Maher, YouTube): eight minutes. This is a very good clip about COVID misinformation, although the language is not family-friendly. It goes in a direction I did not expect towards the end.
    • Related: Why do so many vaccinated people remain irrationally fearful? Listen to the professor’s story. (David Leonhardt, New York Times): “To take just one example, major media outlets trumpeted new government data last week showing that 5,800 fully vaccinated Americans had contracted Covid. That may sound like a big number, but it indicates that a vaccinated person’s chances of getting Covid are about one in 11,000.… A car trip is a bigger threat, to you and others. About 100 Americans are likely to die in car crashes today. The new federal data suggests that either zero or one vaccinated person will die today from Covid.”
  2. On Good Parties (Tara Isabella Burton, Breaking Ground): “A Good Party is a place where bonds of friendship, fostered in a spirit of both charity and joy, serve as the building blocks for communal life overall. The wedding feast, that abundant banquet of Christian life, is always prefigured in the convivial symposium of friendship. The kingdom of heaven, when it comes, will be a very Good Party. Good Parties don’t merely offer us the opportunity to gather with those we love. Rather, more importantly, they teach us how to love.” This is really quite something. I like it a lot.
  3. The Question That Dictates How Christians Approach Culture and Politics (David French, The Dispatch): “It’s becoming increasingly obvious that one explanation for profoundly different Christian approaches to politics and culture rests with different answers to the following question: Does the primary threat to the church come from within the church or without? Put differently, does the church stumble and fall primarily because of the sins of the church or because of the cultural and political headwinds directed against the church?”
    • In Here, Out There: On Assessing Spiritual Threats (Dan Darling, Substack): “At times when we are combating cultural ideas, we are not arguing with the world, but trying to equip the next generation of Christians whose faith will be challenged by ideas that run contrary to Scripture. Our people are inundated on every side by messages that are at odds with Jesus’ teachings. Pop culture, social media, friends, etc form a powerful influence on this cohort of young people.” Not a rebuttal, but a complement.
  4. It’s Time for Social Conservatives to Stop Fawning Over Hungary (Lyman Stone, The Public Discourse): “What made Hungary’s family policy work wasn’t the populism, but the boring technocracy of it. Flashy populist programs failed, while just pushing cash out the door to families (as is the norm in countries like Sweden, Denmark, or Norway, all of which have higher birth rates than Hungary) worked. American conservatives should learn from this: if you want a higher birth rate, you’re going to have to pay for it.” This was way more interesting than I anticipated.
  5. Why is Everything Liberal? (Richard Hanania, Substack): “In a democracy, every vote is supposed to be equal. If about half the country supports one side and half the country supports another, you may expect major institutions to either be equally divided, or to try to stay politically neutral. This is not what we find.” This is basically one really good observation expounded in detail. The author, a political scientist, is a research fellow at Columbia University.
  6. Reparations: A Critical Theological Review (Kevin DeYoung, Gospel Coalition): “With tax collectors and soldiers throughout the Gospels, there is no talk of restitution for imperial supremacy or extractive systems, nor any summons to dismantle the structures they inhabited, just the straightforward command to live a godly life, be generous to others, and repay what you have stolen.” Well done book reviews are amazing. This is as good as the best reviews by Scott Alexander.
  7. The Great Unsettling (Paul Kingsnorth, Substack): “We in the West invented this thing called ‘modernity’, and then we took it out into the world, whether the world wanted it or not. Once we called this process ‘the white man’s burden’ and exported it with dreadnoughts. Now we call it ‘development’ and export it via the World Bank.” Wide-ranging.

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have This Is What Makes Republicans and Democrats So Different (Vox, Ezra Klein): the title made me skeptical, but there are some good insights in this article (first shared in volume 32 back in 2016).

Why Do You Send This Email?

In the time of King David, the tribe of Issachar produced shrewd warriors “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chron 12:32). In a similar way, we need to become wise people whose faith interacts with the world. I pray this email gives you greater insight, so that you may continue the tradition of Issachar.

Disclaimer

Chi Alpha is not a partisan organization. To paraphrase another minister: we are not about the donkey’s agenda and we are not about the elephant’s agenda — we are about the Lamb’s agenda. Having said that, I read widely (in part because I believe we should aspire to pass the ideological Turing test and in part because I do not believe I can fairly say “I agree” or “I disagree” until I can say “I understand”) and may at times share articles that have a strong partisan bias simply because I find the article stimulating. The upshot: you should not assume I agree with everything an author says in an article I mention, much less things the author has said in other articles (although if I strongly disagree with something in the article I’ll usually mention it). And to the extent you can discern my opinions, please understand that they are my own and not necessarily those of Chi Alpha or any other organization I may be perceived to represent. Also, remember that I’m not reporting news — I’m giving you a selection of things I found interesting. There’s a lot happening in the world that’s not making an appearance here because I haven’t found stimulating articles written about it. If this was forwarded to you and you want to receive future emails, sign up here. You can also view the archives.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 297

slightly weirder articles than the usual (and more fun videos)

On Fridays I share articles/resources about broad cultural, societal and theological issues. Be sure to see the explanation and disclaimers at the bottom. I welcome your suggestions. If you read something fascinating please pass it my way.

This is volume 297, which is known as a Kaprekar Number. It’s such a weird thing I can barely believe it has a name. To simplify a bit, if you square the number and split the digits in half and they add back up to the original number, it’s a Kaprekar number. Since 2972 = 88,209 and 297 = 88 + 209, that means 297 is one of these odd numerical entities.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. About police shootings: I’m really sad and I also don’t have any articles because I haven’t read anything interesting about them in relation to the most recent episodes. If you find something — especially something written from a thoughtful Christian perspective — please do let me know.
  2. Can the Meritocracy Find God? (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “To be dropped into [a world like this] and not be persistently open to religious possibilities seems much more like prejudice than rationality.”
    • Related: Another Obstacle to Elite Religion (Audrey Pollnow, Substack): “One friend—a very admirable person who has devoted their life to learning and service rather than to acquiring money or prestige—told me that they could never become a Christian because the inability to be ‘good enough’ in the achievement department would make them depressed.”
    • Related: Why the Church Is Losing the Next Generation (Russell Moore, newsletter): “If people reject the church because they reject Jesus and the gospel, we should be saddened but not surprised.  But what happens when people reject the church because they think we reject Jesus and the gospel?”
    • Related: Can America’s ‘Civil Religion’ Still Unite The Country? (Tom Gjelten, NPR): “Americans are expected to hold their hands over their hearts when they recite the Pledge of Allegiance or stand for the national anthem. Young people are taught to regard the country’s founders almost as saints. The ‘self-evident’ truths listed in the Declaration of Independence and the key provisions of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights have acquired the status of scripture in the U.S. consciousness.” The scare quotes around ‘self-evident’ are weird.
  3. On Loving Mortals (Curtis Yarvin, Athwart): “Here’s a catch-22, or a Meno’s Paradox of sorts: why should these young men live well without a family for whom to do it, and why should young women tolerate (much less love) men who don’t live well? Loving a mortal saved me, and countless other men I know, from the Achillean fate, but in most cases it seems something like a miracle.” Recommended by a student, who called it enthralling.
  4. Stanford activists ‘Disturbed the War’ in the 1960s and 1970s (Lenny Siegel, Stanford Daily): “After watching the play, ‘Alice in ROTC-Land,’ thousands of demonstrators poured out of Frost Amphitheater to confront police. Incidentally, that performance launched the acting career of Sigourney Weaver, who played the title role.” Interesting and also very weird. The author seems to want Stanford to be a democracy as though it were a government. Full of fascinating anecdotes.
  5. The Splintering of the Evangelical Soul (Timothy Dalrymple, Christianity Today): “This [collapse of media integrity] presents an extraordinary challenge for Christian discipleship. Media consumption has been climbing for years, and it soared amid the pandemic. Members of our congregations may spend a few hours a week in the Word of God (which should always be the Christian’s most important source of information and authority) but 40 hours or more mainlining the animosities of the day.” The author is a Stanford grad.
  6. A Theology of Free Speech (Brad Littlejohn, Gospel Coalition): “Thus, as Christians, we must clearly affirm that freedom of speech can be a great good. But it is an instrumental good, a means to the end of proclaiming truth and encouraging righteousness. It is not an end in itself, as if the mere freedom to open our mouths were sacrosanct. We have a moral right to speak truth in due season. We have no moral right to slander, deceive, curse, or insult. In order to secure our moral right to speak truth, however, we generally need to defend a legal right that includes a right to speak falsehood.” This is quite good.
  7. Whither the Religious Left? (Matthew Sitman, The New Republic): “Unlike the bland conformity of civic religion, the prophetic calls of particularistic faiths rarely line up with the needs of political parties. This cuts both ways: The religious left, in all its diversity, will never be a reliable ally of the Democratic Party, nor will the Democratic Party always be a comfortable home for the religious left.… That means the religious left faces similar dilemmas as the socialist left: discerning how far and how fast to push, how to relate high ideals to the realities of mainstream parties.”

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have Inside Graduate Admissions (Inside Higher Ed, Scott Jaschick): if you plan to apply to grad school, read this. There is one revealing anecdote about how an admissions committee treated an application from a Christian college student. My takeaway: the professors tried to be fair but found it hard to do, and their stated concerns were mostly about the quality of the institution rather than the faith of the applicant. Troubling nonetheless. (first shared in volume 32)

Why Do You Send This Email?

In the time of King David, the tribe of Issachar produced shrewd warriors “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chron 12:32). In a similar way, we need to become wise people whose faith interacts with the world. I pray this email gives you greater insight, so that you may continue the tradition of Issachar.

Disclaimer

Chi Alpha is not a partisan organization. To paraphrase another minister: we are not about the donkey’s agenda and we are not about the elephant’s agenda — we are about the Lamb’s agenda. Having said that, I read widely (in part because I believe we should aspire to pass the ideological Turing test and in part because I do not believe I can fairly say “I agree” or “I disagree” until I can say “I understand”) and may at times share articles that have a strong partisan bias simply because I find the article stimulating. The upshot: you should not assume I agree with everything an author says in an article I mention, much less things the author has said in other articles (although if I strongly disagree with something in the article I’ll usually mention it). And to the extent you can discern my opinions, please understand that they are my own and not necessarily those of Chi Alpha or any other organization I may be perceived to represent. Also, remember that I’m not reporting news — I’m giving you a selection of things I found interesting. There’s a lot happening in the world that’s not making an appearance here because I haven’t found stimulating articles written about it. If this was forwarded to you and you want to receive future emails, sign up here. You can also view the archives.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 296

the first two links are among the best I’ve shared in some time

On Fridays I share articles/resources about broad cultural, societal and theological issues. Be sure to see the explanation and disclaimers at the bottom. I welcome your suggestions. If you read something fascinating please pass it my way.

This is volume 296, which is the number of partitions contained in the number 30.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The Woke Meritocracy (Blake Smith, Tablet Magazine): “The contemporary ideal, increasingly, is no longer someone so charmingly personable that others forget he is in fact a ruthless competitor, but a person who so convincingly narrates her having overcome some kind of social injustice that others forget she is in fact a beneficiary of systems of privilege.” The author is a history prof at U Chicago. This essay is straight fire, and I believe he took an x‑ray of some of your souls before he wrote it.
  2. Some Principles & Observations About Social Justice Politics (Freddie deBoer, Substack): “Once you have made the prevention of emotional harm the central focus of your politics, you will find yourself running up against the fact that emotional harm is a ubiquitous and ineradicable part of the human experience, far beyond the ability of any political movement to prevent.” deBoer, one of my two favorite atheist socialists to read (the other being Steven Brust), brings it with excellence in this one. It was hard to find the best excerpt — there are so many.
  3. Kati Kariko Helped Shield the World From the Coronavirus (Gina Kolata, New York Times): “For her entire career, Dr. Kariko has focused on messenger RNA, or mRNA — the genetic script that carries DNA instructions to each cell’s protein-making machinery. She was convinced mRNA could be used to instruct cells to make their own medicines, including vaccines. But for many years her career at the University of Pennsylvania was fragile. She migrated from lab to lab, relying on one senior scientist after another to take her in. She never made more than $60,000 a year.” This is a heartwarming story that should also make you very sad — it illustrates how broken the academic system is and how we came very close to losing a lifesaving breakthrough.
  4. This should not happen more than once (Alexandra Petri, Washington Post): “The moments when people make up their secret minds about what is normal and what is acceptable are never big. They are always in private, when no one can see that you have failed the test, when all you were doing was trying to avoid any discomfort, be cool, play along. But there is a price. The price is that the Matt Gaetzes out there will leave the interaction thinking they have understood the world correctly. That what they are doing is working. That this is how the world is. But it is the accumulation of these little assents that make the world this way.” Well-written and true. Also, don’t take nude photos of yourself nor allow others to do so. It is unlikely you will be happy with the outcome.
  5. A Heathen’s Easter (Steve Randy Waldman, Interfluidity): “My theological sophistication is about candy-wrapper level. But for whatever it’s worth, I consider this aspect of Christianity’s founding myth or event remarkable, and underemphasized. ‘Forgive them, Father, they know not what they do,’ represents a profound plea from the lips of a man being painfully murdered. That a parent, one with fire and brimstone readily at hand and a notorious history of smiting, would forgive is perhaps even more astonishing, even more wonderful.” Recommended by a friend of the ministry.
  6. The effects of Black Lives Matter protests (Jerusalem Demsas, Vox): “[The researcher’s] main finding is a 15 to 20 percent reduction in lethal use of force by police officers — roughly 300 fewer police homicides — in census places that saw BLM protests. Campbell’s research also indicates that these protests correlate with a 10 percent increase in murders in the areas that saw BLM protests. That means from 2014 to 2019, there were somewhere between 1,000 and 6,000 more homicides than would have been expected if places with protests were on the same trend as places that did not have protests.”
  7. A whole passel of trans-related articles:
    • A Truce Proposal In The Trans Wars (Andrew Sullivan, Substack): “In our current culture, [my] somewhat complicated stance is anathema.… The proportion of people in this debate who seem psychologically unstable, emotionally volatile and personally vicious seems larger than usual.”
    • How Super-Straight Started a Culture War on TikTok (Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic): “Most have dating preferences that don’t necessarily imply a negative view of people who fall outside them––I’d be averse to dating an 18-year-old or a 60-year-old, yet I neither hate nor fear either age cohort––and that they might not be able to change even if they wanted to. Claims that only bigots would decline to date a trans person strike some commentators as a form of coercion.”
    • Keira Bell: My Story (Keira Bell, Persuasion): “Five years after beginning my medical transition to becoming male, I began the process of detransitioning. A lot of trans men talk about how you can’t cry with a high dose of testosterone in your body, and this affected me too: I couldn’t release my emotions. One of the first signs that I was becoming Keira again was that—thankfully, at last—I was able to cry. And I had a lot to cry about.” This is very sobering.
    • A Guide to Neopronouns (Ezra Marcus, New York Times): “Many people who use neopronouns don’t just use one set. They select a handful, and show off their collections on websites like Pronouny.xyz, a site that provides usage examples for neopronouns. Users make their own Pronouny pages, like this one, which includes xe/xem/xyr, moon/moonself, star/starself, bee/beeself, and bun/bunself. ‘Sorry if I have too many pronouns,’ the page’s creator wrote. ‘You can use just one set or just they/them if they’re too many!!’ ”
    • From a few weeks back: There Is No Epidemic Of Trans Murders (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “So, of the eleven US murders of trans or gender-nonconforming people this year, only two — the ones in Puerto Rico — appear to have been probably motivated by anti-trans hatred. They are still horrible — no one deserves to be murdered — but the killings do not have the meaning that are being attributed to them.”
    • Also slightly older: ‘A Hotly Contested Issue’ (Colleen Flaherty, Inside Higher Ed): “The student allegedly threatened to sue Shawnee State, which in turn pressured Meriwether further to address the student in her preferred manner. Meriwether agreed — on the condition that he could put a disclaimer in his syllabus about how he was following the university’s pronoun policy under compulsion, and stating his views about biological sex and gender being one and the same and immutable. Meriwether’s dean rejected this as incompatible with the university’s gender identity policy.… [the Sixth Circuit Court sided with the professor] writing that if professors ‘lacked free-speech protections when teaching, a university would wield alarming power to compel ideological conformity.’ A university president could ‘require a pacifist to declare that war is just, a civil rights icon to condemn the Freedom Riders, a believer to deny the existence of God, or a Soviet émigré to address his students as ‘comrades,’ ’ he wrote. ‘That cannot be.’ ”
    • A very different perspective on the same case: A Victory For Reality (Carl Trueman, First Things): “The court’s ruling is worth reading in full. The evident incompetence and malice of the administration is impressive, as it initially flip-flops on whether an acceptable compromise is possible and then descends into open hostility toward Meriwether, including (but, as lawyers say, not limited to) open mockery, derision of his faith, and an investigation for which he was not asked to provide any witnesses. The court also identifies the university’s flip-flopping and hostility to Meriwether’s religious views as evidence that the matter was not about applying an established policy in a neutral way but rather about targeting the professor for his Christian beliefs.”

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have Reading The Whole Bible in 2016: A FAQ (Gospel Coalition, Justin Taylor): How much time each day would it take you to read the entire Bible in a year? “There are about 775,000 words in the Bible. Divided by 365, that’s 2,123 words a day. The average person reads 200 to 250 words per minute. So 2,123 words/day divided by 225 words/minute equals 9.4 minutes a day.” This article is full of good advice for what could be the best commitment you make all year. Do it! (first shared in volume 31 — useful for any year)

Why Do You Send This Email?

In the time of King David, the tribe of Issachar produced shrewd warriors “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chron 12:32). In a similar way, we need to become wise people whose faith interacts with the world. I pray this email gives you greater insight, so that you may continue the tradition of Issachar.

Disclaimer

Chi Alpha is not a partisan organization. To paraphrase another minister: we are not about the donkey’s agenda and we are not about the elephant’s agenda — we are about the Lamb’s agenda. Having said that, I read widely (in part because I believe we should aspire to pass the ideological Turing test and in part because I do not believe I can fairly say “I agree” or “I disagree” until I can say “I understand”) and may at times share articles that have a strong partisan bias simply because I find the article stimulating. The upshot: you should not assume I agree with everything an author says in an article I mention, much less things the author has said in other articles (although if I strongly disagree with something in the article I’ll usually mention it). And to the extent you can discern my opinions, please understand that they are my own and not necessarily those of Chi Alpha or any other organization I may be perceived to represent. Also, remember that I’m not reporting news — I’m giving you a selection of things I found interesting. There’s a lot happening in the world that’s not making an appearance here because I haven’t found stimulating articles written about it. If this was forwarded to you and you want to receive future emails, sign up here. You can also view the archives.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 295

A lot about Jesus and a little bit about the news cycle.

On Fridays I share articles/resources about broad cultural, societal and theological issues. Be sure to see the explanation and disclaimers at the bottom. I welcome your suggestions. If you read something fascinating please pass it my way.

This volume 295, which is not a terribly interesting number. According to one website it is a “structured deltoidal hexacontahedral number” but that sounds silly and is even less interesting to me than the simple fact that 295 = 59 ⋅ 5.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Tennant on Aquinas’s Second Way (Ed Feser, personal blog): “…I don’t mean to be too hard on Tennant, specifically. There is nothing unique about his objections. On the contrary, variations on them are constantly raised against Aquinas by mainstream academic philosophers and by mainstream academics and intellectuals from other fields (not to mention countless amateurs). And yet they are all demonstrably based on egregious errors and misunderstandings. Which, while it tells you nothing about Aquinas, says much about what you should think of mainstream academic and intellectual opinion.” 
  2. From the Empty Tomb to Today’s Abuse: Believe Women (Amy Orr-Ewing, Gospel Coalition): “If we don’t believe women, then we have to dismiss the eyewitnesses to the Incarnation, Atonement, and Resurrection. If we won’t listen, we don’t have access to the evidence for the central truths of the Christian faith.”
  3. Is Christianity a White Man’s Religion? (Claude Atcho, Gospel Coalition): “[This] example and exhortation show how to disentangle rather than deconstruct. Through careful disentangling and patient recovery, we find that Christianity uniquely speaks to the concerns of Black people with experiential and historical foundations that have empowered our people for centuries.”
  4. He’s a Famous Evangelical Preacher, but His Kids Wish He’d Pipe Down (Nicholas Kristof, New York Times): “I told Rick Joyner that I thought his struggles with his children reflected a larger generation gap and dwindling of influence of the religious right. To my surprise, he agreed. ‘The church in America has been tremendously weakened,’ he acknowledged. If the Joyners are a microcosm of a nation divided, perhaps they also offer a ray of hope in their ability to bridge differences. They remain close and get together for holidays, even if gatherings are tense.” Really interesting.
  5. How America’s surveillance networks helped the FBI catch the Capitol mob (Drew Harwell & Craig Timberg, Washington Post): “Whenever you see this technology used on someone you don’t like, remember it’s also being used on a social movement you support,” said Evan Greer, director of the digital rights advocacy group Fight for the Future. “Once in a while, this technology gets used on really bad people doing really bad stuff. But the rest of the time it’s being used on all of us, in ways that are profoundly chilling for freedom of expression.”
  6. Welcome to the Decade of Concern (Tanner Greer, Scholar’s Stage): “The 2020s will see both the growth of Chinese military power to new heights and a temporary nadir in American capacity to intervene in any conflict in China’s near abroad. The ‘temporary’ part of that equation is important. Historians of the First World War and the Pacific War trace the origins of those conflicts to pessimistic assessments of the changing balance of power. The belligerency of imperial Japan and Wilhelmine Germany rested on a belief that their position vis a vis their enemies could only decline with time. Any statesman who believes that a temporary military advantage over an enemy will soon erode will have a strong incentive to fight it out before erosion has begun.”
    • China-related: The cost of speaking up against China (Joel Gunter, BBC): “Some of those who spoke to the BBC — from the US, UK, Australia, Norway, the Netherlands, Finland, Germany, and Turkey — provided screenshots of threatening WhatsApp, WeChat and Facebook messages; others described in detail what had been said in phone and video calls. Everyone described some form of detention or harassment of their family members in Xinjiang by local police or state security officials.”
  7. On the Georgia voting law:
    • Positive: Why State Election Reform Bills Don’t Signal a New Jim Crow Era (Walter Olson, The Dispatch): “The law, widely portrayed as a horrendous venture into so-called voter suppression, actually contains many provisions that liberalize access to ballot methods that came in handy during the pandemic, such as early voting, as well as addressing the genuine problem of long lines at polling places.”
    • Negative: What Georgia’s Voting Law Really Does (Nick Corasaniti and Reid J. Epstein, New York Times): “Go page by page through Georgia’s new voting law, and one takeaway stands above all others: The Republican legislature and governor have made a breathtaking assertion of partisan power in elections, making absentee voting harder and creating restrictions and complications in the wake of narrow losses to Democrats.”
    • Positive: No, Georgia’s new voting law is not a return to Jim Crow (Henry Olsen, Washington Post): “No bill is perfect, and reasonable people can disagree about the balance between voter access and election integrity. But Democratic claims that this law amounts to racist voter suppression should be seen for what they are: overwrought partisan rhetoric that unnecessarily increases racial and political tensions.” The author is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center
    • Outraged: Voter Suppression Is Violence (Jamil Smith, Rolling Stone): “This neo-Jim Crow measure builds upon the mayhem that has already cost lives, not just at the Capitol, but also thanks to the malevolent governance of Republicans nationwide. After decades of working to erode the promise of the American experiment, or perhaps to simply reserve it for themselves, it appears that Republicans want to finish the job this year. This is why S.B. 202, and the laws surely to be modeled after it, are designed to ensure that white men with regressive politics will continue to hold power.”
    • Negative-ish: Fact check: What the new Georgia elections law actually does (Daniel Dale and Dianne Gallagher, CNN): “As critics have correctly said, the law imposes significant new obstacles to voting. It also gives the Republican-controlled state government new power to assert control over the conduct of elections in Democratic counties. The law does, however, contain some provisions that can be reasonably be described as pro-voting, and critics have not always described all of the text accurately.”

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

  • Lifeguard Earnings Here May Have You Practicing Your Strokes (Arden Dier, Newser): “According to Forbes, seven lifeguards made more than $300,000 in 2019, which was the most recent year for which data was available, while 82 lifeguards made more than $200,000. Thirty-one lifeguards made more than $50,000 in overtime pay, while three collected more than $100,000, per Forbes.”
  • John Morton (Penn & Teller Fool Us, YouTube): the trick is about nine minutes, although the video is longer due to ads at the end.
  • Chick-Fil‑A Drug Dealer (John Crist, YouTube): five minutes

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have From the happy news department: Christian Missions and the Spread of Democracy (Greg Scandlen, The Federalist): This is a summary of some rather wonderful research Robert Woodberry published in The American Political Science Review back in 2012: The Missionary Roots of Liberal Democracy. If it looks familiar it’s because I allude to it from time to time in my sermons and conversations. (first shared in volume 14)

Why Do You Send This Email?

In the time of King David, the tribe of Issachar produced shrewd warriors “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chron 12:32). In a similar way, we need to become wise people whose faith interacts with the world. I pray this email gives you greater insight, so that you may continue the tradition of Issachar.

Disclaimer

Chi Alpha is not a partisan organization. To paraphrase another minister: we are not about the donkey’s agenda and we are not about the elephant’s agenda — we are about the Lamb’s agenda. Having said that, I read widely (in part because I believe we should aspire to pass the ideological Turing test and in part because I do not believe I can fairly say “I agree” or “I disagree” until I can say “I understand”) and may at times share articles that have a strong partisan bias simply because I find the article stimulating. The upshot: you should not assume I agree with everything an author says in an article I mention, much less things the author has said in other articles (although if I strongly disagree with something in the article I’ll usually mention it). And to the extent you can discern my opinions, please understand that they are my own and not necessarily those of Chi Alpha or any other organization I may be perceived to represent. Also, remember that I’m not reporting news — I’m giving you a selection of things I found interesting. There’s a lot happening in the world that’s not making an appearance here because I haven’t found stimulating articles written about it. If this was forwarded to you and you want to receive future emails, sign up here. You can also view the archives.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 294

more on Atlanta, purity culture, and other interesting links

On Fridays I share articles/resources about broad cultural, societal and theological issues. Be sure to see the explanation and disclaimers at the bottom. I welcome your suggestions. If you read something fascinating please pass it my way.

This is volume 294, which is neat because 111152 — 2942 = 123,456,789. Numbers are fun!

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. On anti-Asian violence:
    • The Racism Virus: Anti-Asian Attacks Surge (NBC News, YouTube): fifty-two minutes, highly recommended by a student. From before the Atlanta shootings.
    • Race and False Hate Crime Narratives (Heather Mac Donald, Quillette): “Perhaps a revelation of anti-Asian animus will emerge, but for now, Long appears to have targeted presumed sex workers who happened, given the demographics of the massage trade in Atlanta, to be Asian. Long intended to target a business in Florida next that made pornography, he told police. The employees there were unlikely to be Asian.” The author is a Stanford Law School grad.
    • I am surprised at how divisive the question of motive has been. Regardless of motive in this specific case, I think it is clear that the Atlanta attacks were wicked and also that many Asian-Americans encounter prejudice that too often escalates into violence.
  2. On Christian sexual teachings:
    • Atlanta Suspect’s Fixation on Sex Is Familiar Thorn for Evangelicals (Ruth Graham, New York Times): “The evangelical culture he was raised in, he said, ‘teaches women to hate their bodies, as the source of temptation, and it teaches men to hate their minds, which lead them into lust and sexual immorality.’ ”
    • Why the Atlanta Massacre Triggered a Conversation About Purity Culture (David French, The Dispatch): “Placing responsibility for male purity on women harms women. It creates an impossible burden. You cannot oppress women enough to protect men from themselves. You can ban porn, ban explicit TV and movies of all types, put women in long dresses, prohibit makeup, and require courtship contracts, and you still will not solve the problem of sin.”
    • Never The Demons (Samuel D. James, Letter & Liturgy): “I’m all for interrogating the harmful effects of some church cultures, but I’m not sure why we don’t even linger over the news of a young man’s murdering eight people to ‘eliminate temptation’ long enough to see the demonic forces that Jesus clearly saw everywhere he went. And when that story is quickly followed by another mass murder in Colorado? The news cycle just resets, and the blood is on the hands of the GOP, or all Muslims, or purity culture, or cancel culture…name your ideological enemy, and you can find someone prominent laying horror at their feet. Never the demons.”
    • On purity culture and violence, briefly (Samuel D. James, Letter & Liturgy): “I think stories [like the NYT article] are frustrating because they offer genuine insight mixed with a journalistic framing that is deeply untrustworthy. Brad Onishi, Jeff Chu, and Samuel Perry—the three voices brought in to criticize evangelical purity culture—are all examples of LGBT-affirming post-evangelicalism. Because of this framing, the subtext of the article is that there are really only two choices for evangelical Christians: double down on hating women and empowering shooters like Robert Long, or abandon core evangelical doctrines. This is exactly the posture that defines nearly all anti-purity culture writing I see, which is why I get so frustrated by it, even when it makes genuinely helpful points…”
    • Questions for David French on the Connections between the Atlanta Killer and Purity Culture (Justin Taylor, The Gospel Coalition): “What is the connection between the killer and toxic purity theology and culture? The piece assumes a connection but never gets around to demonstrating one. And that leads to the weird experience of reading something where I agree with virtually every single word and yet find that the actual argument doesn’t hold together.”
    • How churches talk about sexuality can mean life or death. We saw that in Robert Long. (Rachel Denhollander, Washington Post): “Sexuality divorced from personhood is the foundation of objectification and violence. The evangelical community has yet to grapple with its own version of this same mind-set and the deep damage it has, and will continue, to do.”
  3. Christian Baker Sued Again for Refusing to Bake a Cake (Colleen Slevin, Associated Press @ Christianity Today): “Autumn Scardina attempted to order the birthday cake on the same day in 2017 that the high court announced it would hear baker Jack Phillips’s appeal in the wedding cake case. Scardina, an attorney, requested a cake that was blue on the outside and pink on the inside in honor of her gender transition.”
    • The Never-Ending Persecution of Jack Phillips (David Harsyani, National Review): “You may not be surprised to learn that Scardina hadn’t asked the most famous Christian baker in the nation to create a ‘transition’ cake by happenstance. Phillips’s lawyers suspect Scardina called — the name appeared on the caller ID — to request ‘an image of Satan smoking marijuana.’ Later, an email was sent to the shop requesting ‘a three-tiered white cake’ with a ‘large figure of Satan, licking a nine inch black Dildo … that can be turned on before we unveil the cake.’ ”
    • Colorado Baker Faces Long Line Of People Outside Waiting To Be Oppressed By Him (Babylon Bee): “Phillips had another busy day, but in the end, all his customers were satisfied, those who wanted cakes receiving beautiful cakes and those who wanted to get discriminated against getting discriminated against. Philips is now considering opening another branch just to not make people cakes, as he is apparently the only cakeshop in the country that does that, and it’s in high demand.” Normally I’d put a Babylon Bee article in the amusing section, but this one belongs here.
  4. Stanford’s silence doesn’t surprise wrestling champ: ‘Probably more mad at me’ (Ann Killion, SF Chronicle): “Stanford athletics did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Griffith’s national title. On Saturday the athletic department Twitter account @GoStanford tweeted, ‘Shane Griffith is a national champion. The redshirt sophomore completed his run at the NCAA championships atop the podium, Saturday, at the Enterprise Center.’ The dry message was notably missing the exclamation points and emojis that accompany almost every other post.”
  5. What It Takes To Go From Slavery To Freedom (Bari Weiss, Substack): “ ‘When you are a slave, you don’t have to think,’ Yeonmi told me. ‘In North Korea you can’t say I. You can just say we. We love the color red. Or we love kimchi. You know every answer. In North Korea, everything is determined for you before you are born, based on your family’s standing in the party. You don’t think: What do I study? Where do I live? Who do I marry? They decide.  I remember after I published my book one of my first interviews was with NPR and they asked me about freedom. I said freedom was painful and confusing. I think they were expecting me to say freedom was awesome.’ But the truth was more complicated. ‘It was so painful to be free. I sometimes thought in the beginning if there was a guarantee to go back to North Korea and not get executed and just live on frozen potatoes I might go back.’ ” WOW. What an interview. Coming someday to a sermon near you.
  6. The Burden of Proof (Jimmy Akin, personal blog): “Whenever two people disagree and one wants the other to change his view, then the person advocating the change always has to shoulder the burden of proof.” The central nugget is in the excerpt, but there’s more there (including an interesting Catholic perspective on Sola Scriptura).
  7. Why Are Fewer Young Adults Having Casual Sex? (Scott J. South & Lei Lei, Socius): “Among young women, the decline in the frequency of drinking alcohol explains about one quarter of the drop in the propensity to have casual sex. Among young men, declines in drinking frequency, an increase in computer gaming, and the growing percentage who coreside with their parents all contribute significantly to the decline in casual sex.” See also the “a while ago” link below.

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have Alcohol, Blackouts, and Campus Sexual Assault (Texas Monthly, Sarah Hepola): I think this is the most thoughtful secular piece I’ve read on the issue. “Consent and alcohol make tricky bedfellows. The reason I liked getting drunk was because it altered my consent: it changed what I would say yes to. Not just in the bedroom but in every room and corridor that led into the squinting light. Say yes to adventure, say yes to risk, say yes to karaoke and pool parties and arguments with men, say yes to a life without fear, even though such a life is never possible… We drink because it feels good. We drink because it makes us feel happy, safe, powerful. That it often makes us the opposite is one of alcohol’s dastardly tricks.” (first shared in volume 25

Why Do You Send This Email?

In the time of King David, the tribe of Issachar produced shrewd warriors “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chron 12:32). In a similar way, we need to become wise people whose faith interacts with the world. I pray this email gives you greater insight, so that you may continue the tradition of Issachar.

Disclaimer

Chi Alpha is not a partisan organization. To paraphrase another minister: we are not about the donkey’s agenda and we are not about the elephant’s agenda — we are about the Lamb’s agenda. Having said that, I read widely (in part because I believe we should aspire to pass the ideological Turing test and in part because I do not believe I can fairly say “I agree” or “I disagree” until I can say “I understand”) and may at times share articles that have a strong partisan bias simply because I find the article stimulating. The upshot: you should not assume I agree with everything an author says in an article I mention, much less things the author has said in other articles (although if I strongly disagree with something in the article I’ll usually mention it). And to the extent you can discern my opinions, please understand that they are my own and not necessarily those of Chi Alpha or any other organization I may be perceived to represent. Also, remember that I’m not reporting news — I’m giving you a selection of things I found interesting. There’s a lot happening in the world that’s not making an appearance here because I haven’t found stimulating articles written about it. If this was forwarded to you and you want to receive future emails, sign up here. You can also view the archives.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 293

featuring several perspectives about the murders in Atlanta

On Fridays I share articles/resources about broad cultural, societal and theological issues. Be sure to see the explanation and disclaimers at the bottom. I welcome your suggestions. If you read something fascinating please pass it my way.

This is volume 293 — a prime number.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Article related to violence against Asian-Americans:
    • Religion, Race, and the Atlanta Murders (Ed Stetzer, Christianity Today): “There are so many threads to this knot that need to be slowly untangled. There are elements related to pornography, sex trafficking, religion, evangelicalism, Southern Baptists, and many others just outside our periphery. But neither the complexity of this event nor the tribalism of our cultural discourse must not allow us to avoid self-reflection and scrutiny. We must confront the reality that something is horribly wrong in our midst when a person kills to ‘eliminate’ temptation.”
    • We Need to Put a Name to This Violence (Jay Caspian Kang, New York Times): “There is no shared history between, say, Thai immigrants who saw images of one of their own attacked in San Francisco, and the Chinese-American population of Oakland alarmed by the assault in Chinatown.Asian-American identity is fractured and often incoherent because it assumes kinship between people who do not speak the same language, and, in many cases, dislike one another.” This was written before the Atlanta murders and is discussing the trend wave of violence more generally.
    • The Muddled History of Anti-Asian Violence (Hua Hsu, New Yorker): “Some have wondered if these horrific, viral videos constitute a wave, or if they were just random incidents. When your concerns have gone unrecognized for decades, it’s understandable why some within the Asian-American community remain so invested in using these highly visible moments as an opportunity to call attention to hate, even if the incidents seem more varied than that. The wave in question isn’t just two or three incidents.” Also written before the Atlanta shootings.
    • Racializing The Atlanta Massage Parlor Killings (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “It is striking to see how quickly our media has racialized the narrative of the horrific murders at the Georgia massage parlors. From what we know so far, the alleged murderer was a young man tormented by his compulsive sexual desires. He visited massage parlors in the past, and went to this one to kill the women he once depended on to gratify his desires. From all the available evidence, these killings were the misogynistic act of a sexually depraved man.” As is often the case with Dreher, some of the best material is in the updates at the end (usually a comment from a reader that Dreher thought significant).
    • When The Narrative Replaces The News (Andrew Sullivan, Substack): “Mass killers, if they are motivated by bigotry or hate, tend to let the world know… This mass murderer in Atlanta actually denied any such motive, and, to repeat myself, there is no evidence for it — and that has been true from the very start.”
    • The Media Got It Wrong: Police Captain Didn’t Say the Atlanta Spa Killer Was Having a ‘Bad Day’ (Robby Soave, Reason): “A police officer excusing Long’s actions as merely the result of him having a ‘bad day’ would indeed be contemptible. But that’s not what Baker did. In fact, many of the people so infuriated about the quote were misled by Rupar’s edit of the video. The full video (the relevant section starts at about 13:50) makes clear that Baker was not providing his own commentary, but rather summarizing what Long had told the investigators.”
  2. Third Places and the Horizons of Male Friendships (Ryan McCormick, Mere Orthodoxy): “Generally speaking, typical male friendship is different from typical, contemporary female friendship. A failure to recognize the different ways that men and women form intimate bonds in friendship is what breeds so much confusion and leads to the misdiagnosis of ‘toxic masculinity.’” I will add one extra layer of diagnosis that the author didn’t address: many in our culture have a horror of male-only spaces. How are we surprised to discover a dearth of male friendships when we view the very existence of masculine communities as evidence of something amiss?
  3. The False and Exaggerated Claims Still Being Spread About the Capitol Riot (Glenn Greenwald, Substack): “Despite this alleged brutal murder taking place in one of the most surveilled buildings on the planet, filled that day with hundreds of cellphones taping the events, nobody saw video of it. No photographs depicted it. To this day, no autopsy report has been released. No details from any official source have been provided.”
    • Follow-up: As the Insurrection Narrative Crumbles, Democrats Cling to it More Desperately Than Ever (Glenn Greenwald, Substack): “As I detailed several weeks ago, so many of the most harrowing and widespread media claims about the January 6 riot proved to be total fabrications. A pro-Trump mob did not bash Office Brian Sicknick’s skull in with a fire extinguisher. No protester brought zip-ties with them as some premeditated plot to kidnap members of Congress (two rioters found them on a table inside). There’s no evidence anyone intended to assassinate Mike Pence, Mitt Romney or anyone else.”
    • Related: Two are charged in the assault of a Capitol Police officer who died after the Jan. 6 riot. (Katie Benner and Adam Goldman, New York Times): “The Justice Department has charged two men in the assault on Brian D. Sicknick, a Capitol Police officer who died the day after he fought rioters storming the Capitol on Jan. 6, according to a law enforcement official briefed on the case and court documents.… It is not clear whether Officer Sicknick died because of his exposure to the spray.”
  4. Covid’s Partisan Errors (David Leonhardt, New York Times): “ ‘Republicans consistently underestimate risks, while Democrats consistently overestimate them.’  …The reasons for these ideological biases aren’t completely clear, but they are not shocking. Conservatives tend to be more hostile to behavior restrictions and to scientific research. And liberals sometimes overreact to social problems.”
  5. Timing the SARS-CoV‑2 index case in Hubei province (Science, Jonathan Pekar et al):  “Empirical observation throughout the SARS-CoV‑2 pandemic has shown the outsized role of superspreading events in the propagation of SARS-CoV‑2, wherein the average infected person does not transmit the virus. Our results suggest the same dynamics likely influenced the initial establishment of SARS-CoV‑2 in humans, as only 29.7% of simulated epidemics from the primary analysis went on to establish self-sustaining epidemics. The remaining 70.3% of epidemics went extinct.… Furthermore, the large and highly connected contact networks characterizing urban areas seem critical to the establishment of SARS-CoV‑2. When we simulated epidemics where the number of connections was reduced by 50% or 75% (without rescaling per-contact transmissibility), to reflect emergence in a rural community, the epidemics went extinct 94.5% or 99.6% of the time, respectively.”
    • This is really interesting. The researchers are largely at UCSD. One implication is that there are a LOT more animal-to-human COVID-like infections that simply never make the leap to becoming widespread. Kind of like music: there are a ton of great musicians who just never catch their big break. Without superspreaders, this kind of pandemic appears unlikely. I hope researchers can find a way to address whatever causes someone to be a superspreader.
  6. Raising Beef Cattle (Tom Blanton, Quillette): “It is by cherry-picking images of the times of confinement from around the world that the gruesome image of ‘factory farms’ is created. Often the images are taken from countries that don’t have the humanitarian regulations that most Western nations have.… If those genuinely concerned for the suffering of animals could find it within themselves to recognize that it is not immoral to slaughter animals humanely for food, they would find many allies for the cause of reducing animal suffering amongst the people who raise and work with these animals on a daily basis.”
  7. Could It Be… Genes? (Freddie deBoer, Substack): “This is an article about how family influences children without a consideration of the most direct and powerful way. The words ‘gene’ and ‘genes’ and ‘genetic’ do not appear in this paper. Neither do ‘heritable’ or ‘heredity’ or ‘hereditary.’ The concept of the transfer of genetic information from parent to offspring simply does not exist in this mental space… in a paper about how families influence the characteristics of their children. I would call this odd, but it’s par for the course in social science research.”

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have On Obstinacy In Belief (C.S. Lewis, The Sewanee Review): this is a rewarding essay from way back in 1955. (first shared in volume 6)

Why Do You Send This Email?

In the time of King David, the tribe of Issachar produced shrewd warriors “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chron 12:32). In a similar way, we need to become wise people whose faith interacts with the world. I pray this email gives you greater insight, so that you may continue the tradition of Issachar.

Disclaimer

Chi Alpha is not a partisan organization. To paraphrase another minister: we are not about the donkey’s agenda and we are not about the elephant’s agenda — we are about the Lamb’s agenda. Having said that, I read widely (in part because I believe we should aspire to pass the ideological Turing test and in part because I do not believe I can fairly say “I agree” or “I disagree” until I can say “I understand”) and may at times share articles that have a strong partisan bias simply because I find the article stimulating. The upshot: you should not assume I agree with everything an author says in an article I mention, much less things the author has said in other articles (although if I strongly disagree with something in the article I’ll usually mention it). And to the extent you can discern my opinions, please understand that they are my own and not necessarily those of Chi Alpha or any other organization I may be perceived to represent. Also, remember that I’m not reporting news — I’m giving you a selection of things I found interesting. There’s a lot happening in the world that’s not making an appearance here because I haven’t found stimulating articles written about it. If this was forwarded to you and you want to receive future emails, sign up here. You can also view the archives.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 292

there is an absurdly long list of entertaining YouTube videos at the end

On Fridays I share articles/resources about broad cultural, societal and theological issues. Be sure to see the explanation and disclaimers at the bottom. I welcome your suggestions. If you read something fascinating please pass it my way.

This is volume 292, which is the number of ways you can break a dollar into two or more coins.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Growing My Faith in the Face of Death (Tim Keller, The Atlantic): “Most particularly for me as a Christian, Jesus’s costly love, death, and resurrection had become not just something I believed and filed away, but a hope that sustained me all day. I pray this prayer daily. Occasionally it electrifies, but ultimately it always calms: And as I lay down in sleep and rose this morning only by your grace, keep me in the joyful, lively remembrance that whatever happens, I will someday know my final rising, because Jesus Christ lay down in death for me, and rose for my justification.”
  2. The Empty Religions of Instagram (Leigh Stein, New York Times): “I have hardly prayed to God since I was a teenager, but the pandemic has cracked open inside me a profound yearning for reverence, humility and awe. I have an overdraft on my outrage account. I want moral authority from someone who isn’t shilling a memoir or calling out her enemies on social media for clout.”
  3. Do Liberals Care if Books Disappear? (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “In the last stages of the same-sex marriage debate, I never encountered a flicker of private doubt from liberal friends. But in the gender-identity debate, there are pervasive liberal doubts about the current activist position. Yet without liberal objection, that position appears to set rules for what Amazon will sell.”
  4. The Miseducation of America’s Elites (Bari Weiss, City Journal): “So children learn how the new rules of woke work. The idea of lying in order to please a teacher seems like a phenomenon from the Soviet Union. But the high schoolers I spoke with said that they do versions of this, including parroting views they don’t believe in assignments so that their grades don’t suffer.… One English teacher in Los Angeles tacitly acknowledges the problem: she has the class turn off their videos on Zoom and asks each student to make their name anonymous so that they can have uninhibited discussions.”
    • Related: Private Schools Have Become Truly Obscene (Caitlin Flanagan, The Atlantic): “Private schools regularly make decisions that parents don’t understand. Like ancient peoples, the parents try to make sense of the clues. They decide that college admissions must be the god of private school—wrong—or that the god must be AP scores, or sports, or institutional reputation. Wrong, wrong, and wrong. The god of private school is money.“A little uneven but a viscerally fun read.
  5. Canceling Is Powerless (Freddie deBoer, Substack): “Politics is about power. Cancel mobs don’t have it, and they never will. You wanted reparations; you got Dr. Seuss. Maybe time to take a hard look at why.” His follow-up Perhaps We Cannot Do Both is also worthwhile.
  6. Why Reformed Evangelicalism Has Splintered: Four Approaches to Race, Politics, and Gender (Kevin DeYoung, Gospel Coalition): “By virtue of our upbringing, our experiences, our hurts, our personalities, our gifts, and our fears, we gravitate toward certain explanations and often think in familiar patterns when it comes to the most complicated and controversial issues. Why is it that by knowing what someone thinks about, say, mask wearing that you probably have a pretty good idea what they think about Christian Nationalism and systemic racism?” His breakdown of approaches is helpful even outside the Reformed tribe. You can see all four responses within Chi Alpha. Highly recommended if you want a framework for understanding why fellow believers disagree with you.
  7. Two articles about China:

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have The Land of We All (Richard Mitchell, The Gift of Fire), an essay built on this insight: “Thinking can not be done corporately. Nations and committees can’t think. That is not only because they have no brains, but because they have no selves, no centers, no souls, if you like. Millions and millions of persons may hold the same thought, or conviction or suspicion, but each and every person of those millions must hold it all alone.” (first shared in volume 2)

Why Do You Send This Email?

In the time of King David, the tribe of Issachar produced shrewd warriors “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chron 12:32). In a similar way, we need to become wise people whose faith interacts with the world. I pray this email gives you greater insight, so that you may continue the tradition of Issachar.

Disclaimer

Chi Alpha is not a partisan organization. To paraphrase another minister: we are not about the donkey’s agenda and we are not about the elephant’s agenda — we are about the Lamb’s agenda. Having said that, I read widely (in part because I believe we should aspire to pass the ideological Turing test and in part because I do not believe I can fairly say “I agree” or “I disagree” until I can say “I understand”) and may at times share articles that have a strong partisan bias simply because I find the article stimulating. The upshot: you should not assume I agree with everything an author says in an article I mention, much less things the author has said in other articles (although if I strongly disagree with something in the article I’ll usually mention it). And to the extent you can discern my opinions, please understand that they are my own and not necessarily those of Chi Alpha or any other organization I may be perceived to represent. Also, remember that I’m not reporting news — I’m giving you a selection of things I found interesting. There’s a lot happening in the world that’s not making an appearance here because I haven’t found stimulating articles written about it. If this was forwarded to you and you want to receive future emails, sign up here. You can also view the archives.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 291

fascinating links from a variety of perspectives

On Fridays I share articles/resources about broad cultural, societal and theological issues. Be sure to see the explanation and disclaimers at the bottom. I welcome your suggestions. If you read something fascinating please pass it my way.

This is volume 291, which is not a very interesting number. It’s 3 · 97, which I guess is something.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Inside Xinjiang’s Prison State (Ben Mauk, New Yorker): “On his second day of detention, a member of the camp administration came to see him. Kokteubai asked when he would learn what he was accused of doing. He was surprised to learn that he wouldn’t be questioned at all. ‘If you hadn’t committed a crime, you wouldn’t have ended up here,’ the administrator told him. ‘So there is something you are here for.’ ” The graphics interfere with the reading experience, but it’s worthwhile.
  2. On The Experience of Being Poor-ish, For People Who Aren’t (Anonymous, Substack): “When someone is telling me they are or have been poor and I’m trying to determine how poor exactly they were, there’s one evergreen question I ask that has never failed to give me a good idea of what kind of situation I’m dealing with. That question is: ‘How many times have they turned off your water?’.” Follow up: Being Poor-ish Revisited: Reader Questions These are both really good.
  3. David Shor on Why Trump Was Good for the GOP and How Dems Can Win in 2022 (Eric Levitz, New York Magazine): “But when I look at the 2020 election, I see that we ran against the most unpopular Republican ever to run for president — and we ran literally the most popular figure in our party whose last name is not Obama — and we only narrowly won the Electoral College. If Biden had done 0.3 percent worse, then Donald Trump would have won reelection…” This is extraordinarily fascinating in a very nonpartisan way (although the interviewee is extremely partisan).
  4. In pandemic news:
    • 5 Pandemic Mistakes We Keep Repeating (Zeynep Tufekci, The Atlantic): “One of the most important problems undermining the pandemic response has been the mistrust and paternalism that some public-health agencies and experts have exhibited toward the public.… And yet, from the beginning, a good chunk of the public-facing messaging and news articles implied or claimed that vaccines won’t protect you against infecting other people or that we didn’t know if they would, when both were false.” Watching people reject accurate information about the pandemic because high-status people rail against it has been like watching my skeptical friends reject the gospel because of peer pressure. IT’S GOOD NEWS — BELIEVE IT! The author is a sociologist at UNC.
    • Pandemic Approaches: The Differences Between Florida, California (Noel King, Greg Allen, & Eric Westervelt, NPR): “In December, California had a spike, and Governor Gavin Newsom reimposed a stay-at-home order and a business lockdown order that was recently lifted. At the same time, cases were spiking in Florida. But everything stayed open, including schools. So which approach works?” Spoiler: Florida is looking pretty good.
    • Stop Saying We Can’t Go Back to Normal After Vaccines (Bonnie Kristian, Reason): “Normalcy is the whole point of vaccination, and these vaccines can get us there. So when public health advice says “no” to normalcy even after vaccination, it misleads the public and wildly undersells the vaccines. A year into this, that’s cruel and dispiriting.… there must be a firm end date to those public measures for everyone. I can’t say exactly when it should be, nor do I think a single national date would make sense. I’m envisioning something like six weeks after vaccines have become available (as in, you can easily get an appointment) to all who want them in a given city, county, or state.”
    • Not Gathering with the Church Hurts You Spiritually (Jonathan Leeman, 9 Marks): “Jesus designed Christianity and the progress of our discipleship to center around gatherings. The math is therefore simple: Gathering with the church is spiritually good for you. Not physically gathering with the church spiritually hurts you.”
    • The Secret Life of a Coronavirus (Carl Zimmer, New York Times): “With scientists adrift in an ocean of definitions, philosophers have rowed out to offer lifelines.” What a glorious sentence. Also, I began the article sympathetic to the idea that viruses are alive and we draw our boundaries too tightly, which is what the author wants me to believe. But his arguments were so weak that I’ve flipped to: “not alive, merely interactive.”
    • The rise of the noxious contract (David B. Grusky et al, Stanford Center On Poverty and Inequality): “We observed that many people ‘compare downward’ by emphasizing their privilege relative to those less fortunate, that others ‘look outward’ in recognition that times of crisis require banding together, and that yet others ‘look inward’ as they cope with unusually stressful challenges. Although many ways of coping are therefore in play, none of them entail invidious comparisons that then lead to resentment or conflict.” An analysis of whether people who have to work in-person are resentful of those who telecommute. Spoiler: not so much. Recommended by a student.
  5. On Ryan Anderson’s book being dropped by Amazon:
    • Ryan T. Anderson Was Made For This Moment (Rod Dreher interviewing Ryan T. Anderson, The American Conservative): “…most everyone agrees that a hospital shouldn’t refuse to treat someone for Covid because they identify as LGBT. But, thank God, that doesn’t seem to have actually ever happened. Still when people hear about a law that bans LGBT discrimination, that’s what they have in mind. They don’t realize what it means for sex-reassignment procedures in general, let alone what it means for children with gender dysphoria in particular. So activists pull on people’s heartstrings by saying we need a law banning truly unjust discrimination (which is virtually non-existent) and then that law isn’t nuanced and measured, but a radical bill imposing a radical ideology. A law that is sold as a shield protecting vulnerable minorities ends up being a sword to persecute people who don’t embrace a new sexual orthodoxy.”
    • Book Banning in an Age of Amazon (Abigail Shrier, Substack): “Remember where you were in February of 2021. Congress fought over a second impeachment of an ex-president. The states debated whether forced truancy would make life easier for America’s teachers. And earth’s largest bookseller—(Internal motto: ‘Work Hard. Have Fun. Make history.’)—began quietly deleting books.”
  6. Killing The SAT Means Hurting Minorities (Andrew Sullivan, Substack): “There’s a reason why white Hollywood celebs cheat the system. It’s the only way their less gifted kids can win out over the disadvantaged. Want to maximize privilege? Make admissions dependent solely on teacher recommendations, school grades, and personal essays. Want to minimize it? Abolish legacy admissions, and use the SAT.” I genuinely do not understand how this is controversial. The data is clear and overwhelming.
  7. Elevating the Role of Faith-Inspired Impact in the Social Sector (Jeri Eckhart Queenan, Peter Grunert, and Devin Murphy, The Bridgespan Group): “Giving to religiously affiliated organizations (which includes donations to congregations) represents nearly one-third of all giving in the United States. Roughly a third of the 50 largest nonprofits in the country have a faith orientation. And, 40 percent of international nongovernmental organizations are faith-inspired.” Recommended by a student.

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have The Spiritual Shape of Political Ideas (Joseph Bottum, The Weekly Standard): many modern political ideas are derived from Christian theological concepts. (first shared in volume 1)

Why Do You Send This Email?

In the time of King David, the tribe of Issachar produced shrewd warriors “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chron 12:32). In a similar way, we need to become wise people whose faith interacts with the world. I pray this email gives you greater insight, so that you may continue the tradition of Issachar.

Disclaimer

Chi Alpha is not a partisan organization. To paraphrase another minister: we are not about the donkey’s agenda and we are not about the elephant’s agenda — we are about the Lamb’s agenda. Having said that, I read widely (in part because I believe we should aspire to pass the ideological Turing test and in part because I do not believe I can fairly say “I agree” or “I disagree” until I can say “I understand”) and may at times share articles that have a strong partisan bias simply because I find the article stimulating. The upshot: you should not assume I agree with everything an author says in an article I mention, much less things the author has said in other articles (although if I strongly disagree with something in the article I’ll usually mention it). And to the extent you can discern my opinions, please understand that they are my own and not necessarily those of Chi Alpha or any other organization I may be perceived to represent. Also, remember that I’m not reporting news — I’m giving you a selection of things I found interesting. There’s a lot happening in the world that’s not making an appearance here because I haven’t found stimulating articles written about it. If this was forwarded to you and you want to receive future emails, sign up here. You can also view the archives.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 290

links containing both good and bad news for evangelicals

On Fridays I share articles/resources about broad cultural, societal and theological issues. Be sure to see the explanation and disclaimers at the bottom. I welcome your suggestions. If you read something fascinating please pass it my way.

This is volume 290, which is an interesting number because it is both the product of three primes (= 2 ⋅ 5 ⋅ 29) as well as the sum of consecutive primes (= 67 + 71+ 73 +79).

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Evangelicals in America: The Stats May Surprise You (Ryan Burge, Gospel Coalition): “…after looking at the data for the last 10 years as a quantitative social scientist, I can say with certainty that although there are clear reasons for concern, evangelical presence in the United States is stronger than ever before.” The author is a political science professor at Eastern Illinois University and also a pastor in a non-evangelical denomination.
  2. Religious Community and Human Flourishing (Tyler J. VanderWeele, Psychology Today): “In some cases, our results closely replicated past work. For example, we found that, even after controlling for the factors above, individuals who attended religious services weekly or more were 16% less likely to become depressed, and saw a 29% reduction in smoking and 34% reduction in heavy drinking. These results match reasonably closely results from several prior studies, including the prior meta-analyses mentioned above. Somewhat strikingly, but again in line with prior analysis, weekly service attendees were 26% less likely to die during the follow-up period.” VanderWeele , himself a Christian, is an epidemiologist at Harvard and I have shared some of his work before.
  3. When Amazon Erased My Book (Ryan T. Anderson, First Things): “Amazon never informed me or my publisher that it was removing my book. And Amazon’s representatives haven’t responded to our inquiries about it. Perhaps they’re citing a religious objection to selling my book? Or maybe they only sell books with which they agree? (If so, they have a lot of explaining to do about why they carry Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf.) If there’s a religious or speech objection, let’s hear it.” His book is quite good and is still available at Barnes & Noble. Amazon, however, sells 5/6 of the books in America. Being delisted by them seriously affects the marketplace of ideas.
    • Damnatio memoriae (Alan Jacobs, personal blog): “But to me, the most interesting point for reflection is this: The censors at Amazon clearly believe there is only one reason to read a book. You read a book because you agree with it and want it to confirm what you already believe. Imagine, for instance, a transgender activist who wants to understand the position held by Ryan Anderson and people like him in order better to refute it. That person can’t get a copy of the book through Amazon any more than a sympathetic reader like me can.”  The author is an English professor at Baylor whose writing I have featured before.
  4. Not all ‘anti-racist’ ideas are good ones. The left isn’t being honest about this. (Matthew Yglesias, Washington Post): “More broadly, identifying a racial gap and declaring it to be racist is often insufficient. Such an approach impedes actually thinking about problems — particularly in media, academic and nonprofit circles, where the accusation of racism can carry severe consequences. And so to avoid controversy, people avoid important debates rather than risking offense.”
  5. The Covid Emergency Must End (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “A major setback is always possible, but right now, the conditions for the end of the emergency seem likely to arrive sometime in the summer, not at Christmastime.”
    • School Closures Have Failed America’s Children (Nicholas Kristof, New York Times): “Yes, it’s hard to open schools during a pandemic. But private schools mostly managed to, and that’s true not only of rich boarding schools but also of strapped Catholic schools. As a nation, we fought to keep restaurants and malls open — but we didn’t make schools a similar priority, so needy children were left behind”
  6. 1 in 6 Gen Z adults are LGBT. And this number could continue to grow. (Samantha Schmidt, Washington Post): “Research from the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law has similarly found that a key driver of the growth in the LGBT community has been a surge in bisexual women and girls. Bisexual women make up the largest group of LGBT adults — about 35 percent, according to a Williams Institute analysis of data from three population-based surveys. More than one in 10 U.S. high school youth identifies as lesbian, gay or bisexual. And among them, 75 percent are female and 77 percent identify as bisexual.” The cheerleading aside, it’s a very interesting article — especially if you think about other ways to frame it.
    • Another perspective on the same data: Two Sexes. Infinite Genders. (Andrew Sullivan, Substack): “It turns out that in 2020, only 1.4 percent of US adults are gay men, and only 0.7 percent are lesbians. So all the gays and lesbians amount to a little over 2 percent of the country’s adults. And that seems about right to me. The surprise, however, is that there are now almost as many people identifying as ‘trans’ as ‘lesbian’.… Bisexuals, at 54.6 percent of all ‘LGBT’ identifiers, are now a majority, and in Gen Z, clock in at 72 percent! The qualification to this is that only 3.7 percent of bisexuals live with someone of the same sex while over 30 percent live with someone of the opposite sex.”
  7. Inside a Battle Over Race, Class and Power at Smith College (Michael Powell, New York Times): “The story highlights the tensions between a student’s deeply felt sense of personal truth and facts that are at odds with it.” What is super-weird to me is that I’ve seen people on social media say, “See? It’s more complicated than critics are making it out to be.” But… it’s not. Reading the details merely fills in the outline of the story I had picked up from other sources.

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have two articles from back in the 90’s, political scientist J. Budziszewski wrote them back-to-back for First Things, The Problem With Liberalism and The Problem With Conservativism, and if you never have before I encourage you to read them both. Especially read the one that describes your team. (first shared in a non-Friday blog post)

Why Do You Send This Email?

In the time of King David, the tribe of Issachar produced shrewd warriors “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chron 12:32). In a similar way, we need to become wise people whose faith interacts with the world. I pray this email gives you greater insight, so that you may continue the tradition of Issachar.

Disclaimer

Chi Alpha is not a partisan organization. To paraphrase another minister: we are not about the donkey’s agenda and we are not about the elephant’s agenda — we are about the Lamb’s agenda. Having said that, I read widely (in part because I believe we should aspire to pass the ideological Turing test and in part because I do not believe I can fairly say “I agree” or “I disagree” until I can say “I understand”) and may at times share articles that have a strong partisan bias simply because I find the article stimulating. The upshot: you should not assume I agree with everything an author says in an article I mention, much less things the author has said in other articles (although if I strongly disagree with something in the article I’ll usually mention it). And to the extent you can discern my opinions, please understand that they are my own and not necessarily those of Chi Alpha or any other organization I may be perceived to represent. Also, remember that I’m not reporting news — I’m giving you a selection of things I found interesting. There’s a lot happening in the world that’s not making an appearance here because I haven’t found stimulating articles written about it. If this was forwarded to you and you want to receive future emails, sign up here. You can also view the archives.