Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 107

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.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The Simple Questions to Ask Every Time You Open Your Bible (Justin Taylor, Gospel Coalition): “1. What does God want me to understand? 2. What does God want me to believe? 3. What does God want me to desire? 4. What does God want me to do?”
  2. Ben Sasse on the Space between Nebraska and Neverland (Tyler Cowen, Conversations With Tyler): Sasse is my favorite Republican Senator and he does not disappoint in this interview. While you could just read the transcript, the audio is great and highly recommended. The Conversations With Tyler podcast generally is a worthwhile subscription (iTunes, RSS). My favorite Democratic Senator, by the way, is Cory Booker. You can read the transcript of Booker’s 2012 commencement speech at Stanford. Sasse and Booker being my favorites does not imply that I agree with them on any specific policy issue — I just think they’d be great to have as neighbors.
  3. Religious Freedom and Discrimination: Why the Debate Continues (Albert Mohler, Gospel Coalition): “Great moral debates ride on arguments, but they’re decided on emotion and moral intuition. That doesn’t mean arguments don’t matter—they assuredly do. What it does mean is the winning side in a great moral crisis will never win on argument alone. Moral sentiment is more basic than moral argument.” Relevant: In Sex Disputes, Most Americans Still Favor Religious Rights.
  4. The Supreme Court made a very encouraging ruling in defense of religious liberty. Here are a few takes on it:
    • SCOTUS ruled that churches qualify for state money. Churches, beware. (Lyman Stone, Vox): “Churches should celebrate the Court’s decision, yet think hard about how they’ll act on it…. Religious people and groups do deserve and are one step closer to receiving equal access to public programs, but if they are wise, they should avoid actually availing themselves of these programs in most cases. The experience of centuries has shown that far from sacralizing the state, public support of religious bodies secularizes the church.”
    • The Supreme Court Strikes Down a Major Church-State Barrier (Emma Green, The Atlantic): “Seven justices affirmed the judgment in Trinity Lutheran v. Comer, albeit with some disagreement about the reasoning behind it. The major church-state case could potentially expand the legal understanding of the free-exercise clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. It is also the first time the Supreme Court has ruled that governments must provide money directly to a house of worship, which could have implications for future policy fights—including funding for private, religious charter schools.”
    • Paving a Playground, and Weeding the Unruly Garden of Religious Liberty (Matthew J. Franck, Public Discourse): “Something of this generalized animosity to the place of religion in American society can be seen in the startlingly reactionary dissent of Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who was joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Considerably longer than Roberts’s opinion of the Court, Sotomayor’s dissent stakes out the amazing position that Missouri is not only permitted by the free exercise clause of the First Amendment to exclude churches from equal access to funding available to others; it is required to exclude them by the establishment clause.”
  5. I think health care is a right. I asked an expert to tell me why I’m wrong. (Sean Illing, Vox): “Fundamentally, you have to understand that getting access to healthcare services, getting people to be willing to provide high-quality services and innovative treatments, is the result of a market decision for those providers as well, and so if you don’t treat it like a marketplace to some degree, you’ll get less innovation and fewer new treatments than you will if you do.” The journalist interviews an econ professor at Northwestern and they disagree helpfully.
  6. The Seattle Minimum Wage Study (Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution): “The authors are able to replicate the results of other papers that find no impact on the restaurant industry with their own data by imposing the same limitations that other researchers have faced. This shows that those papers’ findings were likely driven by their data limitations. This is an important thing to remember as you see knee-jerk responses coming from the usual corners.” See also The Minimum Wage: Evidence from a Danish Discontinuity.

Things Glen Found Amusing

From The Archives

I’m experimenting with a new feature — every week highlighting an older link still worth your consideration. First up we have the very first link I ever shared way back in volume 1The Spiritual Shape of Political Ideas (Joseph Bottum, The Weekly Standard). It argues that some of our modern and supposedly secular political ideas are mutant variants of Christian theology.

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.

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