On Fridays I share articles/resources about broad cultural, societal and theological issues, with a preference for content from academics and influential voices. Be sure to see the explanation and disclaimers at the bottom.
- Why I Believe Again (A.N. Wilson, The New Statesman): this piece is about seven years old, but I don’t remember seeing it before. “one thing that finally put the tin hat on any aspirations to be an unbeliever was writing a book about the Wagner family and Nazi Germany, and realising how utterly incoherent were Hitler’s neo‐Darwinian ravings, and how potent was the opposition, much of it from Christians; paid for, not with clear intellectual victory, but in blood.”
- The Evangelical Roots of American Economics (Bradley Bateman, The Atlantic): “One unlikely example of the Protestant influence on American culture is the formation of economics as an academic discipline in the United States.” Fascinating and highly recommended.
- Evangelicals like me can’t vote for Trump — or Clinton. Here’s what we can do instead. (Alan Noble, Vox): This is a long and thoughtful piece. “unless a third‐party candidate with broad appeal emerges, evangelical Christians would be better served by abstaining from [the presidential] vote and shifting their energy toward electing people to Congress and local and state governments who have the opportunity to restrain whichever candidate is elected as needed.“
- Here Is The Powerful Letter The Stanford Victim Read Aloud To Her Attacker (Katie J.M. Baker, Buzzfeed): many of you have seen this. If not, it’s worth reading. Powerful and insightful.
- In relation to this case, an anonymous alumna contacted me recently to say: “I’m frustrated [that people] are not making an effort or recognizing the role that alcohol and the culture surrounding the whole situation had. What they’re calling for is greater punishment on college kids who commit sexual assault but I think that kinda misses a huge point. They refuse to recognize the sin in being ok with college drinking and the whole frat party thing.” I replied with a suggestion that she read something I shared way back in issue 25 titled Alcohol, Blackouts, and Campus Sexual Assault, which I still believe is the most thoughtful secular analysis I’ve read of the issue.
- Many people feel that to criticize the party scene is to exculpate rapists. That seems odd to me, because we recognize that when someone drives drunk they accept moral responsibility for any accidents they cause. Their inebriation is not a defense — it is an admission of culpability. And we also recognize the principle does not flow in both directions — if you stab me while I am drunk, the fact that I am drunk does not provide you with any excuse. The same principle holds here: Brock Turner’s drunkenness is no defense and the victim’s drunkenness is no justification. Furthermore, our convictions about drunk driving hint at a broader principle: drunkenness is a sin because over time it predictably leads to deplorable outcomes. This means that Brock Turner is to blame — and so are the parts of campus culture which encourage drunkenness. The party scene is no excuse for Brock’s wickedness, but that does not make the party scene a virtuous one.
- In fact, the party scene on our campus abounds with sin even when it fails to make national news. The worst sin that night (that we know of) was the sexual assault committed by Brock Turner. But it was far from the only sin. There were numerous consensual nonmarital sexual encounters that night — each of them also sinful (although less so). There were many people drunk that night — they too sinned, every one of them. There was arrogant posturing, envy, lust, anger, lying, betrayal, gossip, slander and a whole host of sins exacerbated by alcohol and the social scenario. Our alumna’s instincts are correct — the system itself makes sin likely and it should not be embraced by Christians.
- In case you stumbled over the “worst sin/less sinful” judgments I made, you should read All Sins Are Not Equal (J.I. Packer, Christianity Today).
- Thank you for your patience. I rarely add lengthy editorial comments, but my words ran away with me today.
- My Life as a ‘Sex Object’ (Jessica Valenti, The Guardian): this is powerful, slightly vulgar piece. I am always intrigued by authors who embrace the sexual revolution and are dismayed by some of its manifestations.
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.
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 have a non‐Stanford friend who might be interested in these emails, they can sign up at http://glenandpaula.com/wordpress/subscribe, and if you want to view the archives they are at http://glenandpaula.com/wordpress/category/links.
[minor edit for clarity shortly after posting]