Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 379

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 379, the 75th prime number.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The Holy Spirit is a Political Liability (Samuel D. James, Substack): “It does not mean we have to accept that we simply cannot win. It means the opposite: accepting that we have already won. When Christ emerged from that tomb, all the gender insanity, all the religious persecution, all the abandonment of first principles in the universe were given a death sentence. Christ himself is truth. Truth was killed, then got back up, and will never die again. This is not just piety. It’s a reality that must go down deep in our methods, our speech, our attitudes.”
  2. Tolkien Was Right: Notes on the Respect for Marriage Act and the Post-Boomer Church (Jake Meador, Mere Orthodoxy): “Some time after his death, an editor was going through the papers and books in J. R. R. Tolkien’s library when he came across an old copy of C. S. Lewis’s pamphlet ‘Christian Behavior,’ which would later be re-published as one section in Lewis’s classic Mere Christianity. Folded inside the book was a letter Tolkien had written but apparently never sent to his long-time friend and fellow Oxford don. In it, Tolkien took issue with Lewis’s treatment of divorce in the pamphlet.” Recommended by an alumnus.
  3. FORUM: The New Shape of Christian Public Discourse (Jay Green, Current): “ ‘Left’ and ‘Right’ do not have self-explanatory or stable meanings. The old labels tend to obscure at least as much as they reveal. The terminology is handy in a fight as long we aren’t asked to define exactly what we mean by them. But especially during the past seven years some of the most acrimonious disagreements among Christians about public life go well beyond the issues identified by Hunter in the 1990s. Our public fights have become far more than basic disagreements over ‘issues.’ ”
    • Recommended by an alumnus. The author is a history professor at Covenant College. I think he is on to something, but his framing is not quite right.
  4. Check out ChatGPT — it’s free to play with and extremely impressive. You can sign up at https://beta.openai.com/playground
    • I had it write a worship song: https://beta.openai.com/playground/p/iWbGQyANHXhdXGw2fM0AGQQJ
    • Andy Crouch, a shrewd Christian thinker, believes this represents the end of a lot of homework. https://twitter.com/ahc/status/1598323606303424512 — this simple tool can do college-level homework pretty easily.
    • Jailbreaking ChatGPT on Release Day (Zvi Mowshowitz, Substack): “One of the things it attempts to do to be ‘safe.’ It does this by refusing to answer questions that call upon it to do or help you do something illegal or otherwise outside its bounds. Makes sense. As is the default with such things, those safeguards were broken through almost immediately. By the end of the day, several prompt engineering methods had been found.”
    • In another bit of AI news, On the Diplomacy AI (Zvi Mowshwitz, Substack): “When people say the AI ‘solved’ Diplomacy, it really really didn’t. What it did, which is still impressive, is get a handle on the basics of Diplomacy, in this particular context where bots cannot be identified and are in the minority, and in particular where message detail is sufficiently limited that it can use an LLM to be able to communicate with humans reasonably and not be identified.”
  5. Some Stanford news:
    • Stanford president’s research under investigation (Theo Baker, Stanford Daily): There’s a lot happening in this article and what follows is not the main point, but this paragraph caught my attention: “Prior to taking on Stanford’s presidency in early 2016, Tessier-Lavigne directed more than a thousand scientists at biotechnology companies Genentech as well as Regeneron. Tessier-Lavigne’s salary at Regeneron in 2014 was $1,764,032, according to a previously-unreported class action lawsuit alleging excessive compensation for members of the Compensation Committee, which included Tessier-Lavigne. It was later settled. He earned $1,555,296 from Stanford in 2021 with an additional $700,000 annually as a board director for Regeneron.”
    • ‘This actually changes everything’: Altered image in 1999 paper raises potential peril for Stanford president (Olivia Goldhill  & Megan Molteni, Stat News): “The newly identified apparent manipulation in Cell is especially serious as it seems to alter the results and appears to be intentional, said Bik. ‘I would testify in court that’s been digitally altered,” she told STAT. “This actually changes everything. … It’s a more severe level of digital altering.’”
    • Most damning — later in the article they explain that similar problems have occurred at multiple institutions with varying sets of coauthors with MTL being the only constant presence. Eep!
    • Department of Education opens investigation into Stanford for bias against male students (Judy Liu, Stanford Daily): “The complaint, which was filed by University of Southern California emeritus professor James Moore and Kursat Pekgoz, CEO of Turkish real estate company Doruk, alleges that multiple Stanford programs violate Title IX, a federal civil rights law that protects people from sex-based discrimination in education programs that receive federal funds.” An inevitable development in our identity-obsessed culture.
  6. ‘It’s The First Time I’ve Seen This in China’ (Simon Leplâtre, Bari Weiss’s Substack): “When someone shouted, ‘Xi Jinping, resign,’ the crowd exploded, and soon other people were saying it, and it was as if the shouter had broken a taboo in a country where people usually lowered their voice when mentioning the name of their leader.  Then someone else in the crowd shouted, ‘Down with the Communist Party,’ which was a big no-no—the Chinese generally broadcast their ideological fervor—and the crowd loved that, too. It was like toppling the statue of a dictator. I told a colleague we were probably witnessing something important that might become very important.”
  7. Fire Them All; God Will Know His Own (Brooks B. Anderson, Harvard Crimson): “Across the University, for every academic employee there are approximately 1.45 administrators. When only considering faculty, this ratio jumps to 3.09. Harvard employs 7,024 total full-time administrators, only slightly fewer than the undergraduate population. What do they all do?” The situation is similar at Stanford.

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 Religious services may lower risk of ‘deaths of despair’ (Chris Sweeney, Harvard Gazette): “After adjusting for numerous variables, the study showed that women who attended services at least once per week had a 68 percent lower risk of death from despair compared to those never attending services. Men who attended services at least once per week had a 33 percent lower risk of death from despair.” Those are HUGE reductions! From volume 251.

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 378

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 378, which is apparently the maximum number of objects you can slice a cube into using 13 cuts.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Jesus Christ, Streaming Star (Ruth Graham, New York Times): “Conceived by a little-known creator, featuring no major stars and funded primarily, at first, through small contributions without the support of a Hollywood studio, [The Chosen] began on an obscure proprietary app and is now given away for free. Its I.P. is 2,000 years old. But despite the long odds, the faith-based drama series has become a bona fide phenomenon in many parts of Christian culture, attracting a fervent ecumenical fandom while remaining almost invisible to others.”
  2. How Colleges and Sports-Betting Companies ‘Caesarized’ Campus Life (Anna Betts, Andrew Little, Elizabeth Sander, Alexandra Tremayne-Pengelly & Walt Bogdanich, New York Times): “The deals came together largely in private, The Times found, with minimal discussion on campus about their potential impact on students, athletes and the integrity of college sports.”
    • I love that the lead author is named Betts.
  3. AI Conquers Diplomacy (Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution): “Keep in mind that since the game is zero-sum to do well the AI must convince humans to do what is NOT in their interest. We really do need to invest more in the alignment problem.”
  4. Responses to the proposed “Respect for Marriage Act”
    • No respect for religious freedom in the “Respect for Marriage Act” (Kristen Waggoner, World): “[This legislation] fuels hostility towards Americans who hold beliefs about marriage rooted in honorable or philosophical premises.It imposes a new obligation to recognize same-sex relationships on religious organizations that work closely with government. It creates new tools for progressive activists and the Department of Justice to enforce that obligation. It gives the Internal Revenue Service a new argument for taking tax-exempt status away from religious non-profits. It makes religious freedom and free speech cases harder to win by elevating the federal government’s interest in same-sex marriage.”
    • Why I Changed My Mind About Law and Marriage, Again (David French, The Dispatch): “I agree with University of Virginia professor Douglas Laycock. ‘The act contains “important protections” for religious liberty, including “an explicit statement by Congress that “diverse beliefs about the role of gender in marriage”—including the belief that marriage is between a man and woman rather than between persons of the same sex—“are held by reasonable and sincere people based on decent and honorable philosophical premises” and that such beliefs “are due proper respect.“ ‘ Other provisions provide protections for the tax exemptions for religious organizations, hold that religious organizations don’t have to participate in the solemnization of same-sex marriages, and specifically reject the approach of the Equality Act, which sought to undermine the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”
    • Respect For Marriage Act: An Imprudent Compromise (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “[Lawmakers] have to make their political decisions recognizing the social and cultural realities of contemporary America, a country where a majority of young people prize sexual autonomy more than religious liberty, and who love gay more than God. That’s not likely to get any better, and is in fact likely to get far worse. What then? I don’t identify with David French’s eagerness to compromise, and I would draw the lines of compromise in different places … but French seems to understand the shaky ground on which Christian trads stand better than a lot of people who are right about marriage do.” Dreher is responding to a different article by French than the one below, which was printed a day later.
    • An Open Letter to Those Who Think I’ve Lost My Christian Faith (David French, The Dispatch): “…read the text of the bill. Does that language truly give the IRS a ‘new argument for taxing tax-exempt status away’? And does the act create ‘new tools for progressive activists and the Department of Justice’ to enforce an obligation to recognize same-sex marriages on ‘religious organizations that work closely with government’? [It does not.]”
  5. Two articles describing how out-of-control euthanasia is getting in some countries:
    • Scheduled to Die: The Rise of Canada’s Assisted Suicide Program (Rupa Subramanya, Bari Weiss’s Substack): “Next March, the government is scheduled to expand the pool of eligible suicide-seekers to include the mentally ill and ‘mature minors.’ According to Canada’s Department of Justice, parents are generally ‘entitled to make treatment decisions on their children’s behalf. The mature minor doctrine, however, allows children deemed sufficiently mature to make their own treatment decisions.…’ Dr. Dawn Davies, a palliative care physician who supported MAiD when it was first conceived, said she had ‘tons of worries’ about where this might lead. She could imagine kids with personality disorders or other mental health issues saying they wanted to die. ‘Some of them will mean it, some of them won’t,’ she said. ‘And we won’t necessarily be able to discern who is who.’ ”
    • “Safeguards” Cannot Make Euthanasia Safe (Robert Clarke, First Things): “There is a clear slippery slope from approving euthanasia in rare terminal cases to approving just about any mental health diagnoses. Twenty-three-year-old Shanti de Corte was recently euthanized due to the mental trauma she suffered from the 2016 Brussels airport terrorist attack, after which she ‘never felt safe.’ Her death signals our society’s failure to support the vulnerable and wounded. We have abandoned authentic care and compassion in favor of death.”
  6. Megalopolis: how coastal west Africa will shape the coming century (Howard W French, The Guardian): “By 2100, the Lagos-Abidjan stretch is projected to be the largest zone of continuous, dense habitation on earth, with something in the order of half a billion people [all in one giant megalopolis].”

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 Are the Wages of Sin Really Death?: Moral and Epidemiologic Observations (David Lyle Jeffrey and Jeff Levin, Christian Scholar’s Review): “So, are the wages of sin really death? As far as population-health research suggests, the answer is a guarded yes.” The authors are professors at Baylor, one of epidemiology and the other of literature. From volume 250. I know I shared it recently. It’s worth sharing again.

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 377

things which grabbed my attention

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 377, the 14th Fibonacci number.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. sprawling along the way: a polemic and an exhortation (Alan Jacobs, personal blog): “Whenever Christians decide that they need a strategy, they’re writing a recipe for disobedience to the Lord Jesus. As Stanley Hauerwas has always said in response to people who say that the Church needs a social strategy, ‘the Church is a social strategy.…’ The Church’s job is to be the Church, and the Christian’s task is to be like Christ, and strategies invariably get in the way of both.”
    • This is insightful.
  2. How Should Christians Speak in Public? (Tim Keller, Mere Orthodoxy): “The fruit of the Spirit includes love, joy and peace, patience and kindness, and humility. These must be evident as we speak about the gospel publicly. Right now, the most popular public figures show confidence and fearlessness but not love and humility. We cannot follow in that train.”
    • Difficult to excerpt fairly.
  3. Does education ‘cure’ people of faith? The data says no (Ryan Burge, Religion News): “Those who are the most likely to be religiously unaffiliated are those with the lowest levels of formal education. The group that is the most likely to align with a faith tradition? Those who have earned a college degree or more.”
    • This is one of those true things that people have a hard time believing.
  4. Iran and China Use Private Detectives to Spy on Dissidents in America (Benjamin Weiser and & William K. Rashbaum, New York Times): “Across America, investigators are increasingly being hired by a new kind of client — authoritarian governments like Iran and China attempting to surveil, harass, threaten and even repatriate dissidents living lawfully in the United States, law enforcement officials said.”
  5. Aella & The Futility Of ‘Consent’ (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “I’ve heard that ‘but animals can’t consent!’ argument from people before, as a defense against normalizing bestiality, and it has never made sense. You think animals can consent to being eaten?”
    • I remember when I first talked with a student who seriously claimed that consent was the only moral rule applicable to sex. I was so stunned I don’t think I had the wherewithal to laugh. It’s such an absurd claim.
  6. Leprosy: Ancient disease able to regenerate organs (James Gallagher, BBC): “Animal experiments have uncovered the bacteria’s remarkable ability to almost double the size of livers by stimulating healthy growth. It is a sneakily selfish act that gives the bacteria more tissue to infect. But working out how they do it could lead to new age-defying therapies, the scientists say.”
    • This is super cool! I hope it pans out.
  7. The top 10 most-regretted college majors — and the degrees graduates wish they had pursued instead (Jessica Dickler, CNBC): “Computer science majors, with an average annual starting salary of almost $100,000, were the happiest overall, according to ZipRecruiter. Students who majored in criminology, engineering, nursing, business and finance also felt very good about their choices.”

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 Religious Liberty and the Common Good (National Affairs, William Haun): “Many of today’s progressives, conservatives, and libertarians [cannot] explain why religion in particular and religious exercise in particular should shape the common good, even when they go against the grain of secular visions adopted in law.” Not light reading but worthwhile. The author is a lawyer for the Becket Fund. From volume 248

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 376

My favorite line from this week: “Men bond by insulting each other and not really meaning it; women bond by complimenting each other and not really meaning it.”

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 376, is an automorphic number because when raised to a power it ends in itself. 3762 = 141376. It continues: 3763 = 53157376 and so on. 37615 = 424441337012461701988020381601157349376 and so on.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The Male-Warrior Hypothesis (Rob Henderson, Substack): “…young human males often address each other with abusive insults. The ritual tests the strength of the friendship. If lighthearted verbal quips do not damage the relationship, then the bonds are likely relatively strong. In contrast, women and girls seldom insult their friends, and often work extra hard to praise them to avoid any signs of hostility. Men bond by insulting each other and not really meaning it; women bond by complimenting each other and not really meaning it.”
    • This article is engrossing even if you already know the gist.
  2. The Fever Is Breaking (David Brooks, New York Times): “The single most important result of this election was the triumph of the normies. Establishmentarian, practical leaders who are not always screaming angrily at you did phenomenally well, on right and left: Mike DeWine in Ohio, Josh Shapiro in Pennsylvania. Workmanlike incumbents from John Thune in South Dakota to Ron Wyden in Oregon had successful nights. Gov. Tony Evers of Wisconsin had the quotation that summarized the election: ‘Boring wins.’ ”
    • Related (in that it is about politics): 3 Principles for Settling Political Spats in the Church (Daniel K. Williams, Christianity Today): “Any attempt to make society more moral through legislation will inevitably be selective and incomplete and may offer mixed results. Which major political party in the United States is committed to addressing the problems of divorce, gambling addictions, marital infidelity, and alcohol abuse? Which party will do the most to protect the poor from being exploited through payday loans? Which party will fight against the pornography industry? If you haven’t seen any political ads this election season that address any of these issues, perhaps that’s a sign of the moral selectivity in our current partisan politics.”
    • The author is a history professor at the University of West Georgia. Emphasis in original.
  3. A Tradition of Anti-Traditionalists (Mark Bauerlein, First Things): “All the talk in the humanities back then turned on ‘opening up the canon’ and breaking up the dominance of Dead White Males—less John Dryden and more Aphra Behn, more diversity and fewer idols—but in the theory area, these figures were as canonical as the saints.… What this bias has produced is two generations of college teachers who don’t realize their bias. They got a narrow education that they trusted was the broadest one. They genuinely don’t know that another critical tradition besides the progressive/transgressive one exists.” This essay is a bullseye.
    • Related: An Existential Threat to Doing Good Science (Luana Maroja, Bari Weiss’s Substack): “The restriction of academic freedom comes in two forms: what we teach and what we research. Let’s start with teaching. I need to emphasize that this is not hypothetical. The censorious, fearful climate is already affecting the content of what we teach.”
    • There’s a Stanford connection in this second article, btw. The article is an adaptation of a speech given at a private conference at Stanford quite recently.
  4. Contra Resident Contrarian On Unfalsifiable Internal States (Scott Alexander, Astral Codex Ten): “But in the stories these people told me, it was more about — they found that this effort was producing something unexpected, and developing new personality aspects that they needed, so they kept going. If you take one step towards Darth Vader, he will take two steps toward you (sorry if I am sounding like a Sith youth pastor).”
    • This is absolutely fascinating and the excerpt does not do it any justice. Recommended.
  5. New Endorsements for College Athletes Resurface an Old Concern: Sex Sells (Kurt Streeter, New York Times): “Haley Jones, an All-America guard at Stanford and a candidate for the Player of the Year Award, said she didn’t want to play up sex appeal. Her endorsement income is driven by a social media image that portrays her as a lighthearted student-athlete without an overtly provocative tone.”
    • Interesting in its own right, also a stronger Stanford angle than I expected.
  6. It’s Always a ‘Negative World’ for Christianity (David French, The Dispatch): “One of [the] core conservative Christian critiques of American culture is that America is growing ever-more hostile to the authentic Christian faith. We’ve left a friendly and hospitable past, and now we’re confronting a hostile future.… But this analysis is fundamentally wrong. It’s dangerously wrong. It’s wrong not because the present moment is particularly hospitable to the Christian faith, but because it fundamentally misunderstands both American history and American Christendom, and it fundamentally misunderstands the permanent countercultural reality of authentic Christianity.”
  7. Paywalls or Constant Intrusive Ads: Pick One (Freddie deBoer, Substack): “And I also want to say, if you’re annoyed that you can’t get past a paywall — tough. Because an era of rising paywalls is absolutely necessary if you want writing to survive as a profession, and if you want good journalism and analysis to endure.”

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 Small World Network of College Classes: Implications for Epidemic Spread on a University Campus (Weeden & Cornwell, Sociological Science): “If one chose a given student at random, that student is likely to attend class with a student who, in turn, attends class with any other randomly chosen student. Put differently, although it is unlikely that any two randomly chosen students would be enrolled in the same course, it is highly likely that they would be enrolled in different courses that both include the same third party.“

The authors, professors at Cornell, were curious about the potential for disease spread among undergrads at their school. Taking this in a completely different direction: the average student at Stanford is likely only one or two steps away from Chi Alpha. WOW! Invite your friends! From volume 246

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 375

a week full of wild articles

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 375, which can also be written at 3·53. I like the threes on either side of the five.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Truth Cops: Leaked Documents Outline DHS’s Plans to Police Disinformation (Ken Klippenstein & Lee Fang, The Intercept): “DHS’s mission to fight disinformation, stemming from concerns around Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election, began taking shape during the 2020 election and over efforts to shape discussions around vaccine policy during the coronavirus pandemic.”
    • This is the article of the week and it’s not close. Wow. Some more excerpts:
    • “U.S. officials have routinely lied about an array of issues, from the causes of its wars in Vietnam and Iraq to their more recent obfuscation around the role of the National Institutes of Health in funding the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s coronavirus research. That track record has not prevented the U.S. government from seeking to become arbiters of what constitutes false or dangerous information on inherently political topics.”
    • This bit was wild: “During the 2020 election, the Department of Homeland Security, in an email to an official at Twitter, forwarded information about a potential threat to critical U.S. infrastructure, citing FBI warnings, in this case about an account that could imperil election system integrity. The Twitter user in question had 56 followers, along with a bio that read ‘dm us your weed store locations (hoes be mad, but this is a parody account),’ under a banner image of Blucifer, the 32-foot-tall demonic horse sculpture featured at the entrance of the Denver International Airport.”
  2. Negative World Arrives in Australia (Simon Kennedy, Mere Orthodoxy): “This was a watershed cultural moment for Australia, and possibly for the West. A man with outstanding credentials was told that, because of some sermons preached by someone else from almost a decade ago, he needed to reconsider his fit for the role he had just been appointed to. For all we know, Thorburn may disagree with these sermons. He may never have been aware of them or listened to them. The bottom line here was guilt-by-association.”
  3. Black, Christian and Transcending the Political Binary (Tish Harrison Warren, New York Times): “The conservative and progressive approaches are not the only way to approach politics. Everything that doesn’t fit isn’t illegitimate. Once we realize those aren’t the only two approaches, then we open up space for people of color, people of faith and others who are politically homeless to really have a voice and help heal something that’s been broken and won’t be fixed by either of those two sides.”
  4. Racial Discrimination Is Not the Path to Racial Justice (David French, The Dispatch): “If schools truly want to prioritize diversity, they should focus on class. Fostering greater class-based diversity can help achieve greater diversity across the board: More racial diversity, more economic diversity, more ideological diversity, and more diversity on the basis of religion. Emphasizing diversity of class doesn’t just create a student body that looks like America. It creates a student body that is like America.”
    • Somewhat related: Racial Identity Politics: A Warning From Sarajevo (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “White racial consciousness is taboo for a good historical reason, but anyone with a lick of common sense has to see that you cannot keep attacking white people as morally bad because of the color of their skin, and punish them in public and private life because they are white, without inviting pushback.”
    • We are playing with fire when it comes to race in America and pray we open our eyes before the flames rage out of control.
  5. Stanford knew about the campus imposter for a year. He kept coming back. (Theo Baker, Stanford Daily): “Stanford administrators and the public safety department have been aware since at least December 2021 that William Curry, the Alabama native who was removed from campus Thursday, had pretended to be a Stanford student and lived in multiple University dorms, according to communications obtained by The Daily.” Very detailed. A well-reported story.
    • Imposter recounts his time on campus (Theo Baker, The Stanford Daily): “Curry said he lied to people in high school about attending Stanford and claimed his parents believed he was enrolled in the University. He confirmed many elements of the Daily’s reporting and even messaged a Daily reporter after the interview, saying ‘always my duty to help my fellow students.’ ” — emphasis added. Less interesting than the main story, but still intriguing.
    • In other Stanford news, Stanford Tree gets the axe, suspended until January (Caroline Chen & Yana Kim, Stanford Daily): “In the fall of 2020, the Band transitioned from a Voluntary Student Organization (VSO) to being under the Department of Athletics (DAPER). At the same time, its Constitution, which allowed student self-expression such as kneeling during the national anthem and taping ‘Abolish ICE’ on the back of their jackets, was dissolved, according to Band social chair and recruiter Noah Bartlett ’23, who described there being a significant ‘culture shift’ since he joined the Band in 2019.” HOW DARE YOU SAY WE DON’T LIKE FUN! NO FUN FOR YOU!
  6. NYC judge rules polyamorous unions entitled to same legal protections as 2‑person relationships (Julia Musto, NY Post): “In the case at hand, Bacdayan notes how changes since 1989 play a role, including changes to the definition of ‘family.’ She notes the law has rapidly proceeded in recognizing that it is possible for a child to have more than two legal parents. ‘Why then, except for the very real possibility of implicit majoritarian animus, is the limitation of two persons inserted into the definition of a family-like relationship for the purposes of receiving the same protections from eviction accorded to legally formalized or blood relationships?’ asked Bacdayan.”
    • “Two person relationships”
    • This is from early last month
  7. Moderation Is Different From Censorship (Scott Alexander, Astral Codex Ten): “A minimum viable product for moderation without censorship is for a platform to do exactly the same thing they’re doing now — remove all the same posts, ban all the same accounts — but have an opt-in setting, ‘see banned posts’. If you personally choose to see harassing and offensive content, you can toggle that setting, and everything bad will reappear.” The meme near the top made me chuckle.

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 S/NC and the purpose of higher education (Thomas Slabon, Stanford Daily): “As a Ph.D. candidate in the philosophy department, I have TA’d or taught eight courses, and I want to let you in on an open secret of post-secondary educators: We all hate grading. Every. Single. One of us. Every TA you’ve ever had has contemplated grading piles of problem sets or papers with dread — and half the reason you had a TA in the first place was because your professor wanted to grade your work even less.” This is a wonderful essay. From volume 245.

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 374

More Stanford-related links than normal, including an absolutely wild one about a fake student.

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.

According to people who know such things, 374 is the smallest number that can be expressed as the sum of 3 positive squares 8 different ways: 374 = 1^2 + 7^2 + 18^2 = 2^2 + 3^2 + 19^2 = 2^2 + 9^2 + 17^2 = 3^2 + 13^2 + 14^2 = 5^2 + 5^2 + 18^2 = 6^2 + 7^2 + 17^2 = 6^2 + 13^2 + 13^2 = 7^2 + 10^2 + 15^2

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Stanford-related:
    • Inside “Stanford’s War On Fun”: Tensions mount over University’s handling of social life (Theo Baker, Stanford Daily): “The student said the University is ‘excessively bureaucratic’ and those trying to host events are ‘burnt out’ from trying to navigate a ruleset that ‘has expanded and [adds] challenges that don’t need to be there.’ Harris, who also responded on behalf of the Office of Student Engagement, wrote that the University has worked to expand social opportunities. ‘Student Affairs, student leaders, and campus partners have been working earnestly to provide many and vibrant social options for undergraduates this fall,’ Harris wrote.”
    • Imposter student caught, removed from Crothers Hall (Cassidy Dalva, Theo Baker and Oriana Riley, Stanford Daily): “Students living in the dorm told The Daily Thursday night that the man, who identified himself as William Curry, has lived in the dorm since the second week of the quarter, socialized with the other residents and was let into the dorm regularly by sympathetic RAs.”
    • The Review Interviews Dr. Scott Atlas (Stanford Review): “I want to highlight that lockdowns were not the standard pandemic prescription (neither in 2006, nor in earlier pandemics). It was known that they were extremely harmful. Also, I want to highlight that the university-side of science became highly politicized, possibly because it was an election year. I was warned by Stanford professors that I should not help the President. This was morally repugnant: to let people die simply because you didn’t like the current administration.”
    • A Closed Discussion on Academic Freedom? (Colleen Flaherty, The Chronicle of Higher Education): “Conference organizers told FIRE that they’d invited numerous progressives to participate [in the conference at Stanford], Perrino also said, but over time ‘more conservatives said yes, and very few of the big-name progressives said yes. The political polarization and tribalism is dispiriting.’ Abbot said that organizers invited several dozen progressives who’d previously expressed a ‘negative view’ of academic freedom, who ultimately declined.”
  2. Don’t Even Go There (James Lee, City Journal): “A policy of deliberate ignorance has corrupted top scientific institutions in the West. It’s been an open secret for years that prestigious journals will often reject submissions that offend prevailing political orthodoxies—especially if they involve controversial aspects of human biology and behavior—no matter how scientifically sound the work might be.”
    • The author is a professor of Psychology, Bioinformatics and Computational Biology at the University of Minnesota.
    • Related: Blasphemy is dead. Long live blasphemy (Mary Harrington, Substack): “…if something looks a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck. And when a movement with an instantly recognisable symbol, a distinctive metaphysics (identity precedes biology, all desire must be celebrated) and a calendar of feast days celebrated by governments, corporations, universities and public bodies acquires the ability to punish those who deface its symbols, the only possible thing you can call it is an emerging faith — one with a tightening grip on institutional power across the West.”
  3. Most trans children just going through a phase, advises NHS (Eleanor Hayward, The Times of London): “Most children identifying as transgender are simply going through a ‘transient phase’, new NHS guidance states. Doctors caring for youngsters distressed about their gender have been told that it is not a ‘neutral act’ to help them transition socially by using their preferred new names or pronouns.”
  4. Newsom vs. DeSantis Is Our Inevitable Culture War (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “…in general you need liberalism plus some overarching vision to sustain solidarity, energy and hope. And you definitely need the ‘plus’ to fully resolve questions like, ‘Is abortion a form of murder or a fundamental right?’ or ‘Is it child abuse to give teenagers puberty blockers or child abuse to refuse them?’ ”
  5. Woman: My Dad Was Serial Killer; I Helped Bury the Bodies (Arden Dier, Newser): “Studey says she long ago went to ‘law enforcement all over Iowa and Nebraska trying to get something done’ but ‘they couldn’t trust the memory of a child.’ Yet her memory is vivid. She says her father would kill sex workers and transients, often in the family’s trailer, then get his children to help move the bodies using a wheelbarrow or toboggan.”
  6. Mayra Flores Prevented From Joining the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (Julio Rosas, Townhall): “Flores is not only first Mexican-born woman to serve in Congress, but she also represents a district along the U.S.-Mexico border that is overwhelmingly Latino.… The CHC’s website websites states the Caucus ‘addresses national and international issues and crafts policies that impact the Hispanic community. The function of the Caucus is to serve as a forum for the Hispanic Members of Congress to coalesce around a collective legislative agenda.’ The website does not state in its ‘About’ section that only Democrats can join the organization.”
    • Later in the article we learn “Similarly, Rep. Byron Donalds (R‑FL) was prevented from joining the Congressional Black Caucus last year.”
    • This is fascinating to me and I share it in an entirely non-partisan way. I sometimes hear statements from these caucuses and while I assumed they lean Democrat because their constituency overwhelmingly leans Democrat, I had no idea Republicans were literally forbidden from joining them.
  7. Nancy Pelosi: Intruder was searching for US Speaker in attack on husband (Sam Cabral, BBC): “Paul Pelosi, 82, was taken to hospital after a break-in at their California home on Friday morning. The suspect has been identified as a 42-year-old man and is facing criminal charges including attempted homicide. He broke a glass rear door and — after confronting Mr Pelosi — reportedly shouted: ‘Where is Nancy?’ ” Yikes!

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 Are Mormons Christians?: A Review of “The Saints of Zion: An Introduction to Mormon Theology” (Tim Miller, Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary): “He makes clear that Mormons are not Christians, but does so by pointing out that this has been the claim of the Mormon church itself throughout history (despite recent attempts to argue differently).” From volume 244.

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 373

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 373, a permutable prime. That means it is a prime number even when you rearrange its digits (337, 733).

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Reconstructing Faith: Christianity in a New World (Tim Keller, Life In The Gospel): “Christians in our cultural moment will have to rethink their faith, but at the same time they must learn to ‘doubt their doubts.’ They must deconstruct not only their tacit, mistaken beliefs and their secondary beliefs that pose as primary, but also just as importantly, the cultural narratives that are offered as the alternatives to Christian faith.” Recommended by a student.
  2. The Math of Measurements (Tumblr): “The base 12 system of the traditional English foot is fantastic for mental math, because 12 is a highly divisible number. It’s easily divisible into halves, thirds, quarters, and sixths by most people in their heads.… This is the kind of math most artisans need to do. You want supports placed evenly along a wall, to divide a piece of fabric in half, or to double a recipe. Nobody 1.7x’s a recipe. Metric would be great for that, but why would you do that? It wouldn’t be worth the math involved.”
    • I very much like this rant. There’s a lot to like about metric, but not as much as some of its enthusiasts claim.
  3. Co-ops are the New Greek Life (Julia Steinberg, Stanford Review): “While attempting to provide an alternative social and living environment based on principles of counterculturalism, many co-ops recreate the social pressures of Greek Life through a flimsy veneer of counterculturalism.… co-ops present a space to safely pretend to be countercultural, while forging a living community with people who are just like them, preventing the expression of true difference and diversity. If co-ops seek to hold onto the legacy of the 60s and 70s that birthed these houses, they must reckon with the fact that they are currently co-ed Greek Houses in a crochet sweater.”
  4. Boston University CREATES a new Covid strain that has an 80% kill rate — echoing dangerous experiments feared to have started pandemic (Caitlin Tilley, Daily Mail): “It will no doubt surprise many Americans that such experiments continue to go on in the US despite concerns similar studies may have led to the global Covid outbreak.”
    • Another rational response that also addresses common objections: Can We At Least Ban Gain of Function Research? (Zvi Mowshowitz, Substack): “Imagine the worst thing you could do that doesn’t involve nuclear weapons. Then imagine someone went ahead and did it, and published, and it was all not only legal. It was funded. Here in America.”
  5. American Idol: How Politics Replaced Spiritual Practice (Michael Wear, Christianity Today): “…the Christian faith offers tremendous resources for combating political sectarianism and so much else that ails our politics, but we have to connect those resources to our public life and politics. Christians don’t need to be reminded of kindness, gentleness, and joy. But many do need to be convinced that the way of Jesus is up to the task of politics. They need to be convinced that the public arena, too, is a forum for faithfulness.”
  6. Key findings from The Post’s series on veterans’ lucrative foreign jobs (Craig Whitlock and Nate Jones, Washington Post): “More than 500 retired U.S. military personnel — including scores of generals and admirals — have taken jobs as contractors and consultants for foreign governments since 2015, cashing in on their military expertise and political clout. Most have worked as civilian contractors for Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other Persian Gulf monarchies, playing a critical, though largely invisible, role in upgrading their militaries.”
    • Somewhat related: American technology boosts China’s hypersonic missile program (Cate Cadell & Ellen Nakashima, Washington Post): “Military research groups at the leading edge of China’s hypersonics and missile programs — many on a U.S. export blacklist — arepurchasing a range of specialized American technology, including products developed by firms that have received millions of dollars in grants and contracts from the Pentagon, a Washington Post investigation has found.”
    • See a non-paywalled summary of the missile story at US software gives China its hypersonic edge (Gabriel Honrada, Asia Times)
  7. Stanford Apologizes for Limiting Jewish Admissions in the 1950s (Amanda Holpuch, New York Times): “Several colleges and universities, including Harvard, Yale and Dartmouth, limited Jewish enrollment in the 1920s through the 1960s, but Stanford had long denied rumors that it had used similar practices.” Of interest in this story is (a) the interview at the end with Jessica, the director of Hillel and (b) the fact that a Substack article started all this.
    • The Substack article which launched it: How I Discovered Stanford’s Jewish Quota (Charles Petersen, Substack): “One Jewish student who attended Stanford in the 1960s was told by his high school guidance counselor that the university would only accept one Jewish student from each high school each year — he had been the one to get in. If this is true (and this student verified the claim from personal experience), it might offer an explanation for how Snyder implemented the suggestion, mentioned earlier, from the Jewish president of Stanford’s board of trustees. When Snyder wanted to admit a few Gentiles with less than stellar grades, he made sure to admit precisely one Jewish applicant near the top of the class.”

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 3 Types of Skeptics (C. Michael Patton, Credo House): “1. Those who need answers…. 2. Those who don’t like the answers…. 3. Those who need healing.” From volume 244.

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 372

On Fridays (apparently some Saturdays) 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 372, a number I think is cool because it can be expressed as the sum of successive primes: 31 + 37 + 41 + 43 + 47 + 53 + 59 + 61 = 372.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. How Convenient, That Kanye West’s Behavior Could Not Possibly Be Influenced by His Mental Illness (Freddie deBoer, Substack): “Two things I really hate: morals of convenience and false friends. The types of people who say ‘mental illness doesn’t do that’ are the types to profess support for those with psychiatric disorders, but only when it’s easy, when the mentally ill are doing the socially approved things like talking to themselves on the subway. Which of course means that they are no friend to the mentally ill at all; support only means something when it comes at a cost.”
    • Somewhat related: How Kanye West’s Breakdown Makes Sense of Our Social Crisis (Russell Moore, Christianity Today): “Instability from this artist is hardly surprising. Several years ago, I noted that I was worried for the rapper—not because of his mental health challenges but because of what American evangelicals often do to celebrities who profess faith. Too often we claim them as, at best, mascots for ‘our side’ and, at worst, as trophies from the culture wars. Over and over, the church has expected things from these figures that they do not have the maturity, wisdom, or even stability to handle.”
  2. Review: When Narcissism Comes to Church (Samuel D. James, Substack): “But this book makes a monumental decision: a decision to put the Bible’s moral language to the side, to call a disorder what the Bible calls sin, to call self-actualization what the Bible calls repentance. This book’s aversion to biblical categories does not empower readers to confront spiritually abusive systems. It instead makes those systems harder to disrupt.”
    • This is an outstanding book review that puts its finger on a problem I frequently notice — when we disregard Biblical analysis we make it needlessly hard to bring Biblical solutions to bear.
  3. The Woman Who Gave the World a Thousand Names for God (Jordan K. Monson, Christianity Today): “Has there been a single translator in church history with Barnwell’s sway? We could talk about Jerome and his Latin Vulgate, used by the Roman Catholic Church as its principal translation for over 1,500 years. There was Luther and his German-language Bible. There was England’s King James I, if you credit him for commissioning his KJV—or William Tyndale if you feel like the KJV was mostly cribbed from his work.” The claim feels like hyperbole until you read the article. Wowsers. What a legacy!
  4. How California’s Bullet Train Went Off the Rails (Ralph Vartabedian, New York Times): “ ‘There were so many things that went wrong,’ Mr. McNamara said. ‘[The rail company] was very angry. They told the state they were leaving for North Africa, which was less politically dysfunctional. They went to Morocco and helped them build a rail system.’ Morocco’s bullet train started service in 2018.”
  5. 10 Affirmations and Denials on Ethnic Harmony, Justice, and the Church (Justin Taylor, The Gospel Coalition): “We simply cannot allow politics or secular culture to define our terms or determine our beliefs. Jesus puts his finger on ethnic harmony and says, ‘Mine.’ Therefore, the aim of these affirmations and denials is to rightly represent the voice of Jesus Christ. The One who designed ethnic diversity has unparalleled authority and has the final word on the whole issue.”
    • Somewhat related: The Placebo Of Affirmative Action (Andrew Sullivan, Substack): “A recent David Shor analysis found that, among Democratic policies, affirmative action was among the most unpopular — with even less support than ‘defund the police.’ More tangibly: on the nine occasions the policy has been put to the electoral test since 1996, it has lost eight times, most recently in super-liberal California in 2020.”
  6. Three Paradoxes of Atheism (Neil Shenvi, personal website): “Historically, one of the most attractive features of atheism has been its claim to stark realism. No matter how unappealing a godless universe may turn out to be, atheists claim to be committed to adhering to the truth at all costs. However, in this essay I would like to show that at the very heart of atheism are several extremely unexpected paradoxes, areas in which atheism is shown to be in tension with a commitment to realism and a life consistent with truth.” Recommended by a student.
  7. Spread of Catholic hospitals limits reproductive care across the U.S. (Frances Stead Sellers and Meena Venkataramanan, Washington Post): “Catholic systems now control about 1 in 7 U.S. hospital beds, requiring religious doctrine to guide treatment, often to the surprise of patients.”
    • The above article annoyed me and I was pleased to see this response: As Washington Post targets Catholic hospitals, every religious institution needs to build defenses (Timothy P. Carney, Washington Examiner):  “These journalists write as if the baseline is total acceptance of abortion, gay marriage, and transgender ideology and that the scary new thing is the religious hospitals or teachings that have been around for centuries or millennia. ‘Spread of Catholic hospitals’ is a funny headline because Catholics were the ones who invented hospitals. If you wanted to write a trend piece, you should really write about the spread of laws and lawsuits threatening Catholic hospitals, which are actually new.”

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 Is Joshua’s Altar on Mount Ebal in Israel Myth? Or Reality? (Ralph Hawkins, Logos): “When I was working on my doctoral dissertation about the Ebal site, I spent a week with Zertal. One morning while we were driving to the site, he told me his critics had accused him of trying to prove the Bible. They said he imposed a cultic interpretation onto the stone structure he had found. He explained, though, that he had been born and raised in Ein Shemer, Israeli kibbutz that was affiliated with a secular movement. He said he had grown up believing that the Bible was full of myths. When he did his graduate work in archaeology, he did it at Tel Aviv, the most liberal university in Israel, where those views were reinforced. He insisted he had not embarked on his excavation at Mount Ebal in order to prove the Bible. What he found there, however, had a profound effect on him. He said, ‘I became a believer at Mount Ebal.’” I love stories like this. Archaeology and the Bible is fascinating to me. From volume 243.

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 371

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 371, which like its immediate predecessor is one of four three-digit narcissistic numbers, meaning that it has three digits and when you raise each digit to the number of digits (in this case, to the third power) they sum to the original number:  33 + 73 + 13 = 371.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. What Harvard Is Really Like (Olivia Glunz, The Public Discourse): “Prestige and influence require class distinctions; in a truly equitable world, Harvard does not exist. Thus, Harvard will continue to champion progressivism—but never enough to endanger its own future. Harvard students of all political stripes perceive this hypocrisy; if anything, they graduate not more liberal but more cynical. So much for the formidable brainwashing machine.… Despite the prevalence of secularism and credentialism at Harvard, faith and friendship were central to my joyful first year. In fact, Christianity, particularly Catholicism, is alive at Harvard.”
    • Short but interesting, and relevant to life at Stanford.
  2. Why the music of Rich Mullins endures, 25 years after his death (Tish Harrison Warren, New York Times): “Mullins had all his royalties and wages go directly to his accountant, whom he asked to issue him an allowance equal to the average working-class salary at the time. The rest of his earnings were given away, mostly to charity. Smith tells me that Mullins ‘was scared for his own soul.’ It wasn’t that he wasn’t tempted by money and fame. It’s that he knew he was tempted, so he ran from it.”
  3. Revolutions Occur When a Significant Portion of Elites Defect From the Existing Regime (Rob Henderson, Substack): “Social movements are typically led not by someone from the underclass or the poor, but by second-tier elites. Lenin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, Che Guevara, America’s founders, etc. were relatively educated and at least middle-class. They were not nearly the poorest of their societies. Far from it.  Which is why their criticisms of the elite within their societies were so astute. They were, figuratively speaking, close cousins—they saw their flaws up close.”
    • This one is really good. Related but long: Diverse and Divided: A Political Demography of American Elite Students (Eric Kaufmann, Substack): “A quarter of students are LGBT, and there are roughly equal shares of Christian and nonreligious students. LGBT, Nonreligious, and Christians are set to become more important political groups among America’s future leaders.”
    • The data in this latter one is interesting, but it is so long you should definitely skim and not read.
  4. Related to justice:
    • A Jury Acquitted Them of Various Charges. They Served Prison Time for Them Anyway. (Billy Binion, Reason): “Can you do prison time for a criminal charge of which you were never convicted? I’d venture that most would assume the answer is ‘no.’ They would be wrong. Known as acquitted conduct sentencing, the practice allows judges to bloat a prison term when sentencing a defendant by punishing them for a separate charge or charges on which a jury deemed them not guilty.” Outrageous. I hope the Supreme Court squashes this 9–0.
    • Thousands were released from prison during covid. The results are shocking. (Molly Gill, The Washington Post): “To protect those most vulnerable to covid-19 during the pandemic, the Cares Act allowed the Justice Department to order the release of people in federal prisons and place them on home confinement. More than 11,000 people were eventually released. Of those, the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) reported that only 17 of them committed new crimes. That’s not a typo. Seventeen. That’s a 0.15 percent recidivism rate in a country where it’s normal for 30 to 65 percent of people coming home from prison to reoffend within three years of release.… These 11,000 releases were not random. People in low- and minimum-security prisons or at high risk of complications from covid were prioritized for consideration for release.”
    • Stock Trades Reported by Nearly a Fifth of Congress Show Possible Conflicts (Kate Kelly, Adam Playford and Alicia Parlapiano, New York Times): “The potential for conflicts in stock trading by members of Congress — and their choice so far not to impose stricter limits on themselves — has long drawn criticism, especially when particularly blatant cases emerge. But the Times analysis demonstrates the scale of the issue: Over the three-year period, more than 3,700 trades reported by lawmakers from both parties posed potential conflicts between their public responsibilities and private finances.… The 97 members who were flagged by the Times analysis amounted to more than half of the people who reported trades, and nearly a fifth of Congress. The group was split almost equally between Democrats and Republicans.”
  5. The amazing power of “machine eyes” (Eric Topol, Substack): “While there are far simpler ways to determine gender [than studying retinas], it’s a 50–50 toss up for ophthalmologists, which means there are no visible cues to human eyes. But now two models have shown 97% accuracy of gender determination from neural network training. That was just the beginning.… That work has now extended to detection of kidney disease, control of blood glucose and blood pressure, hepatobiliary disease, a previous study on predicting heart attack, close correlation of the retinal vessels with the heart (coronary) artery calcium score, and, prior to the new report above, the ongoing prospective assessment and tracking of Alzheimer’s disease.” Wild stuff.
  6. A Nuclear Zugzwang? (Anusar Farooqui, Substack): “Precisely because Russia is so weak relative to Nato, any Russia-Nato war will eventually escalate into strategic nuclear war, the only level on which the Russia enjoys parity with the United States. So, any counter-escalation by the United States would be fraught with escalation risk and nuclear danger.”
    • The author has a PhD in mathematics but writes extensively about foreign policy. I have had multiple smart people recommend this article and finally gave it a read.

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 Porn Restriction for Realists (Tanner Greer, personal blog): “…a world where the tube-sites are gone and people must go back to paying for their porn is a significant improvement over the world we live in now. This world is possible: it existed two decades ago. Technological change is part of what happened, but only part. Just as important in the creation of the new, porn-flushed world we live are legal protections given to websites like PornHub and X Hamster which allow them to dodge liability for the theft their business model is based on. It also allows them to dodge liability for much worse sins.” From volume 242.

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 370

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 370, a narcissistic number (sometimes also called an Armstrong number). It has three digits, and when you raise each digit to the third power they sum to the original number: 370 = 33 + 73 + 03. There are only 88 narcissistic numbers in base 10, and only 4 of those have three digits (153, 370, 371, and 407).

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. YouTube May Force You to Watch 10 (or More) Unskippable Ads in a Row (Ted Gioia, Substack): “This, my friends, is the web we asked for. We wanted everything for free—but what we really got was a swamp where all the costs are still there, just hidden. And the experience we have gained from other industries where prices are mostly hidden from view—healthcare is the most obvious example, but of course there are others—is that this usually turns out to be the most expensive transaction of them all.”
    • This is really good!
  2. For Suburban Texas Men, a Workout Craze With a Side of Faith (Ruth Graham, New York Times): “This is F3 — that’s fitness, fellowship and faith — a fast-growing network of men’s workouts that combine exercise with spiritually inflected camaraderie.… I first heard about F3 through a few acquaintances in Texas, men who spoke about their local groups with the zeal of evangelists. It reminded me of how urban women used to talk with me about SoulCycle, only these guys were suburban fathers.”
    • A Short Story of Men (David French, The Dispatch): “What is the short story of modern men? Life has changed forever. Ideologues pull men and boys into destructive and unsustainable extremes. Yet virtuous purpose can still be found in the fundamental building blocks of the good life. Only a man can be a husband, only a man can be a father, and men need male friends. If a man can fill those roles with integrity and courage, then doubts about his masculinity should not ever darken his heart.”
    • This is a response piece inspired by the above story about F3.
  3. The Cherokee Nation is again calling on Congress to deliver on a 200-year-old promise (Harmeet Kaur, CNN): “The Cherokee Nation is renewing its campaign for representation in Congress, calling on federal legislators to honor a treaty that the US government made nearly 200 years ago. In a video released last week, the tribal nation reasserted its demand that Congress seat its delegate in the House of Representatives – a right stipulated by the 1835 Treaty of New Echota.”
    • From what I can tell this is a legit claim: the treaty was approved by the US Senate even though shady things happened on the the Cherokee side (the treaty was entered into by Cherokees not authorized to negotiate on behalf of their tribe). I don’t know why this is controversial: America took the land, we need to honor all the terms of the deal.
  4. ‘Out of control’ STD situation prompts call for changes (Mike Stobbe, Associated Press): “New syphilis infections plummeted in the U.S. starting in the 1940s when antibiotics became widely available. They fell to their lowest ever by 1998, when fewer than 7,000 new cases were reported nationwide. The CDC was so encouraged by the progress it launched a plan to eliminate syphilis in the U.S. But by 2002 cases began rising again, largely among gay and bisexual men, and they kept going. In late 2013, CDC ended its elimination campaign in the face of limited funding and escalating cases, which that year surpassed 17,000. By 2020 cases had reached nearly 41,700 and they spiked even further last year, to more than 52,000.”
    • That’s a 26% jump just last year!
    • As STD rates explode, are we still sure God’s way isn’t better? (Peter Heck, Not The Bee): “There’s more to the Christian sexual ethic than a despotic list of don’ts. There’s a holistic and healthy ideal that includes recognizing the person you are dating is someone’s future spouse and should be treated with the same dignity that we would want another treating our future spouse. There’s an enduring commendation of the formation of lifelong, loving relationships built not upon tawdry lusts but self-sacrificial commitment; the recognition that love is not something we feel, but something we do. There’s a self-control that protects humanity and liberates it from sickness and suffering. It’s God’s way…”
    • I often think upon this fact: if the Christian sexual ethic were universally observed for one generation STDs would be essentially eliminated.
  5. Illiberalism Is For (Cultural) Losers (Brian Mattson, Substack): “Illiberalism, the deep desire to deny to others their rights of conscience and belief and property that we ourselves enjoy and to force them into conformity to our vision of the common good by way of coercive State power is the last resort of losers. Cultural losers. Abigail Adams would judge that such people are unfit for liberty; or at least they are people who can’t accomplish anything fruitful with it. I have a better idea. Reform our weak institutions, and where we cannot, we build better ones and be cultural winners.”
  6. An ‘us’ vs. ‘them’ mentality on campuses turns potential friends into allies — or enemies (Pamela Paresky and Samuel J. Abrams, Boston Globe): “According to an NBC poll released in August, only 20 percent of college sophomores surveyed said they can definitely see themselves rooming with someone who voted differently than they did in the 2020 presidential election. And more than half said they probably or definitely couldn’t see themselves dating such a student. Campus culture seems to further social disconnection rather than foster friendship across the political divide.”
    • The authors are scholars of psychology and politics, respectively. I read this one mostly because the thumbnail preview is of Stanford.
  7. The ‘Lizzo Playing James Madison’s Flute’ Controversy: A Blogger’s Analysis (Nick Catoggio, The Dispatch): “H ad you heard of Madison’s flute before Lizzo played it? I hadn’t. I’d heard of her but not it. It was she who lent celebrity to the instrument, not vice versa. You may find that dispiriting, although I’m not sure why any of us should have baseline knowledge about a random gift given to James Madison that played no meaningful role in American history. Me, I’m thrilled to have learned about it via this episode. A crystal flute! Made for the father of the Constitution! Played for the first time in 200 years by a celebrity—totally randomly! It wouldn’t surprise me if it turns out to have magical powers and Lizzo has now been possessed by Madison’s ghost. Which, if so, would make her next concert a must-see. But I digress. The last reason this story is instant blog fodder is because, per the foregoing, it’s quirky as all hell.”

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 Nuclear Family Was a Mistake (David Brooks, The Atlantic): “If you want to summarize the changes in family structure over the past century, the truest thing to say is this: We’ve made life freer for individuals and more unstable for families. We’ve made life better for adults but worse for children. We’ve moved from big, interconnected, and extended families, which helped protect the most vulnerable people in society from the shocks of life, to smaller, detached nuclear families (a married couple and their children), which give the most privileged people in society room to maximize their talents and expand their options. The shift from bigger and interconnected extended families to smaller and detached nuclear families ultimately led to a familial system that liberates the rich and ravages the working-class and the poor.” Highly recommended. From volume 238.

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.