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.
Articles I Found Interesting
- Your Unchurched Friends Want to Know About Your Faith (Bob Smietana, Christianity Today): “Almost half [of unchurched Americans] say they discuss religion freely if the topic comes up (47%). A third say they listen without responding (31%), while 11 percent change the subject. Only about a third say someone has explained the benefits of being a Christian to them (35%).”
- Obergefell and the New Gnosticism (Sherif Girgis, First Things): “For decades, the Sexual Revolution was supposed to be about freedom. Today, it is about coercion. Once, it sought to free our sexual choices from restrictive laws and unwanted consequences. Now, it seeks to free our sexual choices from other people’s disapproval.” Sherif has spoken for Chi Alpha before.
- As a Psychiatrist I Diagnose Mental Illness. And, Sometimes, Demonic Possession (Richard Gallagher, Washington Post): “Questions about how a scientifically trained physician can believe ‘such outdated and unscientific nonsense,’ as I’ve been asked, have a simple answer. I honestly weigh the evidence.”
- Most American Christians Believe They’re Victims of Discrimination (Emma Green, The Atlantic): “Almost half of Americans say discrimination against Christians is as big of a problem as discrimination against other groups, including blacks and minorities.”
- Nine Prayers For The Not-Yet-Married (Marshall Segal, Desiring God): recommended by a student, relevant to many of you.
- Man Seeks Euthanasia To End His Sexuality Struggle (Jonathan Blake, BBC): sanctioning euthanasia is unwise and leads to unexpected outcomes. For a theological argument see Is There No Moral Law? (Douglas Farrow, First Things).
- Russia’s Proposed Law: No Evangelizing Outside of Church (Kate Shellnut, Christianity Today): “To share their faith, citizens must secure a government permit through a registered religious organization, and they cannot evangelize anywhere besides churches and other religious sites. The restrictions even apply to activity in private residences and online.”
- Some more on Brexit:
- Why Brexit Happened And What It Means (Tyler Cowen): “The actual practical problems with immigration are much greater here in Brussels, but the country is much further from ‘doing anything about it,’ whether prudently or not, and indeed to this day Belgium is not actually a mature nation-state and it may splinter yet. That England did something is one reflection of the fact that England is a better-run region than Belgium, even if you feel as I do that the vote was a big mistake…. Most of all, I conclude that the desire to preserve the English nation [sic] as English is stronger than I or indeed most others had thought. There is a positive side to that. And if all along you thought there was no case for Leave, probably it is you who is the provincial one.” Oddly, the [sic] is in the original.
- A great piece from shortly before the vote: Reflections Of A Referendum Fence-Sitter (David Goodhart, Prospect Magazine)
- An interesting piece on the theology of Brexit: For hard-line Protestants, leaving Europe is a matter of eschatology (“Erasmus”, The Economist)
Interesting Research Findings
- Why People With No Religion Are Projected To Decline As A Share Of The World’s Population (Michael Lipka, Pew Research): “These projections, which take into account demographic factors such as fertility, age composition and life expectancy, forecast that people with no religion will make up about 13% of the world’s population in 2050, down from roughly 16% as of 2010.”
- The Data On Children In Same-Sex Households Get More Depressing (Mark Regnerus, Public Discourse): “…during adolescence the children of same-sex parents reported marginally less depression than the children of opposite-sex parents. But by the time the survey was in its fourth wave—when the kids had become young adults between the ages of 24 and 32—their experiences had reversed. Indeed, dramatically so: over half of the young-adult children of same-sex parents report ongoing depression, a surge of 33 percentage points (from 18 to 51 percent of the total). Meanwhile, depression among the young-adult children of opposite-sex parents had declined from 22 percent of them down to just under 20 percent. A few other findings are worth mentioning as well. Obesity surged among both groups, but the differences became significant over time, with 31 percent obesity among young-adult children of opposite-sex parents, well below the 72 percent of those from same-sex households.”
- Church Attendance Linked With Reduced Suicide Risk, Especially For Catholics, Study Says (Melissa Healy, LA Times): “Compared with women who never participated in religious services, women who attended any religious service once a week or more were five times less likely to commit suicide between 1996 and 2010, says a study published Wednesday by JAMA Psychiatry.” See the underlying study in JAMA Psychiatry.
- Researchers Have Found That War Has A Remarkable and Miraculous Effect (Jeff Guo, Wonkblog): “the experience of wartime violence somehow changes people for the better, making them more cooperative and more trusting.”
- Concrete Problems in AI Safety (multiple impressive authors, arXiv.org): CS people please read this, especially in conjunction with AI Downs Fighter Pilot.
A Quote To Ponder
“Being part of community takes time and involves restrictions. Merely having an identity doesn’t. In our cultural emphasis and life, we’ve gone from a community focus to an identity focus.” David Brooks (source)
Something Amusing To End On
- Dilbert has long-term goals.
- A crushed marshmallow bunny resembles Kim Jong-Un
- SMBC on being quirky.
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.