Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 51

On Fridays I share articles/resources about broad cultural, societal and theological issues. Be sure to see the explanation and disclaimers at the bottom.

  1. Why America Spends So Much On The Military (reddit): this was a surprisingly educational read. It was written in response to the claim that “next year’s proposed military budget could buy every homeless person a $1 million home.”
  2. Chewbacca Laughter Brings Unexpected Platform (Dan Van Veen, PE News): “On Wednesday night before making the video, she felt that the Holy Spirit had directed her to a specific restaurant for supper just prior to church. There, God had a ‘divine opportunity’ waiting.”
  3. Making Sense of the Numbers of Genesis [pdf link] (Carol Hill, Perspectives on Science and the Christian Faith): “Joseph and Joshua were each recorded as dying at age 110—a number considered ‘perfect’ by the Egyptians. In ancient Egyptian doctrine, the phrase ‘he died aged 110’ was actually an epitaph commemorating a life that had been lived selflessly and had resulted in outstanding social and moral benefit for others. And so for both Joseph and Joshua, who came out of the Egyptian culture, quoting this age was actually a tribute to their character. But, to be described as ‘dying at age 110’ bore no necessary relationship to the actual time of an individual’s life span.” You will not agree with everything in this article, but it is full of fascinating insights.
  4. Unsafe Cars Can Save Lives (Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution): “Safety is relative so cars judged unsafe by global standards could save lives in India. The bigger lesson is that it’s always dangerous to impose global standards without taking into account the differing circumstances of time and place.”
  5. The Big Uneasy (Nathan Heller, The New Yorker): “A [university] president’s job is to push past contradictions, while an activist’s duty is to call them out. The institutions that give many people a language and a forum to denounce injustice are, inevitably, the nearest targets of their criticism.” Bonus points for quoting Tocqueville. 
  6. The Transgender Bathroom Debate and the Looming Title IX Crisis (Jeannie Suk, New Yorker): “Whether or not the federal government acted unlawfully, it has now set in motion a potential Title IX collision course between its directives on sexual violence and on bathrooms…. The discomfort that some people, some sexual-assault survivors, in particular, feel at the idea of being in rest rooms with people with male sex organs, whatever their gender, is not easy to brush aside as bigotry.“ The author is a professor at Harvard Law School.
  7. Claims by transgender schoolteacher (who wants to be called ‘they’) yield $60,000 settlement, agreement to create disciplinary rules regulating ‘pronoun usage (Eugene Volokh, Volokh Conspiracy): the second half is what captured my attention. “When the government is acting as sovereign, telling us what we must or must not say on pain of coercively imposed legal liability, the First Amendment is at full force. That force, I think, should preclude government commands that we start using new words — or radical grammatical modifications of old, familiar words — that convey government-favored messages about gender identity or anything else.”
  8. Peter Thiel’s funding of Hulk Hogan-Gawker litigation should not raise concerns (Eugene Kontorovich, Volokh Conspiracy):  “if the lawsuit is not frivolous, it is hard to see how the motivations of funders are relevant (or discernible). One would not say a civil rights organization could not accept donations from philanthropists angered by a personal experience with discrimination.” Also see Tyler Cowen’s take.
  9. Amusing: Other Promises of God (xkcd)

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).

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 you want to view the archives they are at http://glenandpaula.com/wordpress/category/links.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 50

On Fridays I share articles/resources about broad cultural, societal and theological issues. Be sure to see the explanation and disclaimers at the bottom.

  1. What are the most-cited publications in the social sciences (according to Google Scholar)? (Elliot Green, London School of Economics Impact Blog): I am familiar with many of them, but some I have never even heard of. Apparently I am less well-read than I thought.
  2. The False Promise of DNA Testing (Matthew Shaer, The Atlantic): DNA testing exonerates some but falsely implicates others.
  3. Good Citizenship as Barack Obama and Clarence Thomas See It (Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic): “There are real divergences in the ways that Obama and Thomas view citizenship, but their approaches are more complementary than contradictory. Taken together, their advice encompasses the personal and the political, affording a better portrait of the whole citizen than either offers in isolation.”
  4. The culture wars play out in the most fascinating ways:
    • Media Want To Make Sure You Never Hear About The Little Sisters of the Poor (Mollie Hemingway, The Federalist): “A case of “Little Sisters of the Poor” vs. “Powerful Men in Government” is a gift from the editorial gods…. If any Republican president went to war against a group called Little Sisters of the Poor, that editorial gift would be unwrapped on every front page of every newspaper in the land.” (additional commentary at GetReligion)
    • Related: Professor Michael McConnell on Zubik v. Burwell (Michael McConnell, Volokh Conspiracy): “the decision was basically a quiet, face-saving, non-precedent-setting defeat for the government.”
    • How The Fight Over Transgender Kids Got A Leading Sex Researcher Fired (Jesse Singal, NY Mag): this is a very long piece which I found utterly fascinating. It shows that for some people 90% agreement is not enough: “And if you look closely at what really happened — if you read the review (which CAMH has now pulled off of its website), speak with the activists who effectively wrote large swaths of it, examine the scientific evidence, and talk to former GIC clinicians and the parents of patients they worked with, it’s hard not to come to an uncomfortable, politically incorrect conclusion: Zucker’s defenders are right. This was a show trial.”
    • Yes, my sexuality is a choice: Why I reject the “born this way” narrative (Marcie Bianco, Salon):  “The progressive move away from identity categories negates the need for the normative, ‘born this way’ narrative that has been used to socially validate them…. if sexuality is socially constructed and expressed through culture, then there is no norm, nor is there deviance.”
    • State-Mandated Mourning for Aborted Fetuses (Emma Green, The Atlantic): I am somewhat baffled that this story doesn’t mention the Center for Medical Progress videos from last year. There is clearly a relationship.
  5. Quick Links:

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).

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.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 49

On Fridays I share articles/resources about broad cultural, societal and theological issues. Be sure to see the explanation and disclaimers at the bottom.

  1. The Experiment Experiment (Planet Money): a consistently excellent podcast. This episode is the best explanation I’ve heard about the replication crisis that plagues many disciplines.
  2. The Faithful: René and Juan Carlos set out to convert their Colombian megachurch to Orthodox Judaism. This is what happened. (Graciela Mochkofsky, The California Sunday Magazine): this is a very sad story. The temptations Paul warned the Galatians about are real.
  3. A Confession of Liberal Intolerance (Nicholas Kristof, NY Times): “This bias on campuses creates liberal privilege. A friend is studying for the Law School Admission Test, and the test preparation company she is using offers test-takers a tip: Reading comprehension questions will typically have a liberal slant and a liberal answr.”
  4. Facebook is going to get more politically biased, not less (Ezra Klein, Vox): “The bad press Facebook has received for political bias in recent days is likely to push it away from human curation and toward yet more algorithmic curation. The irony is that will make Facebook more of an echo chamber, not less of one. Facebook’s human curators are under pressure to present both sides, but its algorithmic curators are not.” The article Klein is responding to is Former Facebook Workers: We Routinely Suppressed Conservative News (Michael Nunez, Gizmodo).
  5. World Hunger Is At Its Lowest Point In 25 Years. Thank Democracy. (Libby Nelson, Vox): and as I never tire of pointing out, for widespread democracy thank Bible-believing Christians. You’re welcome.
  6. Ravi Zacharias On The Christian View Of Homosexuality (YouTube): the clip is 11 minutes long.
  7. Where John Piper and Other Evangelicals Stand on Black Lives Matter (Morgan Lee, Christianity Today): “Piper also encouraged white evangelicals to ‘pause’ before saying anything like, ‘All lives matter.’ ‘Because if you quickly add that, it sounds like a rebuke,’ he said. ‘It sounds like a minimizing of what was just said. It sounds like the point that was trying to be made isn’t worth being made,’ he said. ‘… Of course that is true, all lives matter, but oh how timing matters and how context matters.’”
  8. How Bathrooms Became the New Legal Battleground of the Religious Right (Michelle Goldberg, Slate): Very slanted but interesting piece. “Polls suggest that a slight plurality of Americans believe people should have to use the bathrooms that match the sex on their birth certificate. To a liberal, this is evidence that more education is needed. To a conservative, it’s proof that average people’s preferences are being trampled on.”
  9. Amusing:

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).

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.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 48

On Fridays I share articles/resources about broad cultural, societal and theological issues. Be sure to see the explanation and disclaimers at the bottom. The disclaimers are especially relevant for many of today’s links.

  1. This first section is a lot – buckle up if you’re interested. Two pastors recently debated guns – both are very thoughtful and are skillful debaters.  Here is the conversation so far. All the posts are pretty short.
  2. The Mercy Girls (Jennifer Miller, Slate): a very interesting piece about a Christian counseling ministry. One significant bit buried within it: “Ninety-four percent of respondents on 2013 surveys (commissioned by Mercy and conducted by independent firms) answered ‘yes’ to the question, ‘Did Mercy Ministries help you transform your life and restore your hope?’ Eighty-two percent said they were ‘well adjusted to life’ after leaving the program. And 85 percent said they had spent time at other treatment centers before Mercy, without long-term results.” Those statistics should have been even more central to the story.
  3. Spirituality May Help HIV Patients Survive Longer (Emma Green, The Atlantic): interesting. The last paragraph is a reminder that one’s assumptions greatly influence one’s interpretations.
  4. Why Has There Been An Exodus Of Black Residents From West Coast Liberal Hubs? (Aaron Ren, LA Times): “Though results vary to some extent, the broad trend is clear: West Coast progressive enclaves are either seeing an exodus of blacks or are failing to attract them. Midwestern and Northeastern urban areas are attracting blacks to the extent that they are affordable or providing middle class economic opportunities. And Southern cities are now experiencing the most significant gains.” I expect wildly divergent reactions to this. I found it very interesting. A related line of thinking: why colleges are the way they are.
  5. Amusing:

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.

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.

Past emails are archived at http://glenandpaula.com/wordpress/category/links (you can also have your non-Stanford friends sign up to receive them at http://glenandpaula.com/wordpress/subscribe)