Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 5

In the time of King David, the Bible says that 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.

To that end, I share articles/resources I have found helpful recently in thinking about broader cultural and societal issues (be sure to see the disclaimer at the bottom). May these give you greater insight, so that you may continue the tradition of Issachar.

Heads up: in light of today’s Supreme Court decision I’ll likely include some articles about marriage and same-sex relationships in next Friday’s update. If you see anything you find helpful, please send it my way.

  1. From the ongoing reflections on Charleston department: Persecution and the Black Church (Ross Douthat, NY Times) – Douthat is a NY Times columnist who consistently talks about issues of faith (he is a devout Catholic).
  2. These next two articlesare linked in that they are about people driven by their Christian faith. One is an outspoken liberal and the other an outspoken conservative. If you only have time to read about one, read about the one you probably disagree with.
  3. From the backstory department: Palestinian BDS Movement: Getting a Handle on a Complicated Story Ahead of Deadline (Ira Rifkin,GetReligion): this is an article for journalists helping them prepare for coverage of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement as it comes to the awareness of the American public (it hit Stanford last year, as you no doubt recall).
    • Incidentally, it’s really hard to get a good understanding of this or of most topics related to Israel, especially as it connects to Palestine. For an eye-opening (and dismaying) experience, read What The Media Gets Wrong About Israel (Mattie Friedman, The Atlantic).
  4. From the Chi Alpha worldwide department: Georgia Couple Defend Their Love After Bouquet Selfie Gets Negative Comments: Our Relationship ‘Is Not About Looks’ (Caitlin Keating, People): I include this only because it is about two Chi Alpha student leaders at Columbus State University, which I know because I know their campus pastor. On a related note – if you are ever in the news please feel free to wear your Chi Alpha t-shirt.

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.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 4

In the time of King David, the Bible says that 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.

To that end, I share articles/resources I have found helpful recently in thinking about broader cultural and societal issues (be sure to see the disclaimer at the bottom). May these give you greater insight, so that you may continue the tradition of Issachar.

  1. From the Charleston department:
    1. Why A Black Church? (Emma Green, The Atlantic): the last paragraph was like a punch in the gut.
    2. In this moving Youtube clip, representatives from the families of the victims forgive the shooter in court and call upon him to repent. It sounds as though several of them were actually there when the shooting happened and interacted with the shooter in the hour beforehand.
    3. The Charleston Shooting is the Largest Mass Shooting in a House of Worship Since 1991 (Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Washington Post): this is an informative overview of the history of mass violence at religious organizations in the US. I noticed one typo in the article – it refers to 176 deaths when I am pretty sure it should have referred to 176 violent incidents leading to 74 deaths in 2014.
    4. Black Americans Are Killed at 12 Times the Rate of People in Other Developed Countries (Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight): this is probably the most depressing thing I read on a day of reading depressing things.
    5. The story of the lady who busted the shooter is a more encouraging one. “It was God’s way of putting her in the right place at the right time, the Gastonia woman said.”
  2. From the clarity is important department: Is Mormonism Christian? (Roger Olson, blog): Olson, a theologian, gives a very thorough and helpful answer to the question. It’s really long, so if you just want the summary jump to the last paragraph.
  3. From the misunderstood research department: The Real Lesson of the Stanford Prison Experiment (Maria Konnikova, New Yorker): interesting for several reasons, among them the fact that we walk past the site of the experiments regularly.
  4. From the sin is pervasive department: All Your Clothes Are Made With Exploited Labor (Gillian B. White, The Atlantic): even the most conscientious companies are unable to keep their products oppression-free.

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.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 3

In the time of King David, the Bible says that 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.

To that end, I share articles/resources I have found helpful recently in thinking about broader cultural and societal issues (be sure to see the disclaimer at the bottom). May these give you greater insight, so that you may continue the tradition of Issachar.

  1. From the everyone’s a critic department: The Media Loves The Gates Foundation – These Experts Are More Skeptical (JuliaBelluz, Vox). This piece never mentions God, but I found it theologically fascinating for three reasons:
    1. This article reminds me that no matter how much good you do there will always be critics. Jesus was perfect and the world nailed him to a cross.
    2. This article reminds me that it is far easier to criticize than to accomplish. The article left me far more impressed with the Gates than with their critics. And I reflected upon the fact that the critics are unwittingly storing up judgment for themselves in heaven where they will be measured by the same standards they apply to Bill and Melinda Gates (Romans 2).
    3. But Bill and Melinda do not get off scot-free. This article also reminds me of Isaiah 64:6 – our righteous deeds are like filthy rags before the Lord. These criticisms (at least those which are well-founded) are mere hints of the limitations God sees in the righteous deeds of Bill and Melinda Gates. All of us need Jesus – even our most moral friends.
  2. From the responding to criticisms department: On Conservative Religious Activism, The Numbers Speak For Themselves (originally Washington Post, but better-formatted at RNS)  People sometimes claim that Christians spend too much of their time and money fighting political battles rather serving the poor. This op-ed provides numbers to rebut the claim. A related article by a non-Christian journalist explains why many people believe the charge despite the data:  Verily I Say Unto You: Christians Care About the Poor (Megan McArdle, Bloomberg  View).
  3. From the self-deception department: If You Use Facebook to Get Your News, Please – For the Love of Democracy – Read This First (Caitlyn Dewey, Washington Post): Nancy sent me this interesting article about how Facebook’s filtering algorithms subtly reinforce our biases. In related news, Ezra Klein at Vox explains Why The Most Informed Voters Are Often The Most Badly Misled.
  4. From the laughter is good department: Dilbert meets an Internet star. The last panel kills me. Yesterday’s strip about brainstorming was insightfully funny as well.

Suggestions for a better title/frequency/best day to send the email on/articles to consider/etc are welcome. My current plan is to send out an email with 3-5 topics every Friday.

Disclaimer

Chi Alpha is not a partisan organization. To paraphrase another minister: we are not about the donkey’s agenda and 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 will 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.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 2

In the time of King David, the Bible says that 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.

To that end, I share articles/resources I have found helpful recently in thinking about broader cultural and societal issues (be sure to see the disclaimer at the bottom). I’m thinking I’ll send these roughly once a week. May these give you greater insight, so that you may continue the tradition of Issachar.

  1. From the depressing department: Hot Girls Wanted (Kenneth Morefield, Christianity Today): a sobering review of a Netflix documentary (from Sundance) about the “amateur” porn industry. Read it if you have a hard time explaining why pornography is a bad thing. Prepare to be bummed.

  2. From the faith and politics department: Is Obama Really a Christian? (David French, National Review): this is the most detailed article I have read about President Obama’s faith.

  3. From the higher education department: I’m a Liberal Professor, and My Liberal Students Terrify Me (Edward Schlosser, Vox): the article is better than you might expect from the clickbait title. It’s a critique of the current practice of identity politics at American universities by someone sympathetic to identity politics.

  4. From the learning to think clearly department: The Land of We All (Richard Mitchell, The Gift of Fire): this essay teases out the implications of 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.” Warning: the formatting is horrid. It is worth reading anyway. Either use the Readability bookmarklet, an app like Pocket, or just cut and paste it into a text document on your computer.

Disclaimer

Chi Alpha is not a partisan organization. To paraphrase another minister: we are not about the donkey’s agenda and 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 will 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.