Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 113

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. I Don’t Understand Christians Watching Game of Thrones (Kevin DeYoung, Gospel Coalition): “Does anyone really think that when Jesus warned against looking at a woman lustfully (Matt. 5:27), or when Paul told us to avoid every hint of sexual immorality and not even to speak of the things the world does in secret (Eph. 4:3–12), that somehow this meant, go ahead and watch naked men and women have (or pretend to have) sex?” I don’t always agree with everything I share here, but for the record I am 100% in agreement with the author. Softcore porn doesn’t cease to be softcore porn just because it has gripping dialog and cool special effects. For another (unpersuasive to me) perspective, read Seriously, ‘Game of Thrones’ made me a better Bible reader (Caryn Rivadeneira, Washington Post).
  2. Newsworthy Deaths (Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution): just a reminder that the view we have of  what’s happening in the world is always a distorted one.
  3. You’ve no doubt heard about the Google memo suggesting new ways to pursue gender diversity in tech which got the author fired. There has been a TON of fascinating commentary. Here are a few pieces that stood out to me.
    • Here’s the memo itself: Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber (James Damore). It’s short and easy to read. Definitely skim it if you’ve only heard other people describe it.
    • Google’s War Over The Sexes (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “I strongly suspect that more than a few Silicon Valley higher-ups agreed with the broad themes of Damore’s memo. But just as tech titans accept some censorship and oppression as the price of doing business in China, they accept performative progressivism as the price of having nice campuses in the most liberal state in the union and recruiting their employees from its most elite and liberal schools.” If you only read one thing this week, read this one. The last six or so paragraphs in particular are quite good.
    • I’m a woman in computer science. Let me ladysplain the Google memo to you. (Cynthia Lee, Vox): “At the outset, it must be conceded that, despite what some of the commentary has implied, the manifesto is not an unhinged rant. Its quasi-professional tone is a big part of what makes it so beguiling (to some) and also so dangerous.” The author is a CS lecturer at Stanford.
    • As a Woman in Tech, I Realized: These Are Not My People (Megan McArdle, Bloomberg View): “James Damore, an engineer at Google, wrote a memo suggesting that maybe there weren’t so many women at Google because women are less interested in sitting around and staring at code all day. The internet erupted. James Damore is no longer working at Google. As a woman working in the brotastic atmosphere of IT, I ultimately came to a conclusion similar to his.”
    • What the Google Engineer’s Manifesto Missed About Discrimination at Work (Paula England, Institute For Family Studies blog): “Damore’s memo missed one huge thing: Abundant and rigorous scientific studies—by sociologists, psychologists, and economists—have demonstrated that gender and race biases adversely affect women and people of color in the workplace.” The author is a sociology professor at NYU.
    • The Google Memo: Four Scientists Respond (Quillette Magazine): four scholars with relevant expertise largely back up the memo author’s claims about gender differences.
      1. Lee Jussim, professor of social psychology at Rutgers: “The author of the Google essay on issues related to diversity gets nearly all of the science and its implications exactly right.”
      2. David Schmitt, who has a Ph.D. in personality psychology: “In the case of personality traits, evidence that men and women may have different average levels of certain traits is rather strong.… But it is not clear to me how such sex differences are relevant to the Google workplace.”
      3. Geoffrey Miller, professor of evolutionary psychology at the University of New Mexico: “Graded fairly, his memo would get at least an A- in any masters’ level psychology course.”
      4. Debra W Soh, who has a Ph.D. in sexual neuroscience: “Within the field of neuroscience, sex differences between women and men—when it comes to brain structure and function and associated differences in personality and occupational preferences—are understood to be true, because the evidence for them (thousands of studies) is strong.”
    • The Google Memo: What Does the Research Say About Gender Differences? (Sean Stevens and Jonathan Haidt, Heterodox Academy): A summary of meta-analyses on the subject of gender differences. “Gender differences in math/science ability, achievement, and performance are small or nil.… Gender differences in interest and enjoyment of math, coding, and highly ‘systemizing’ activities are large.”
    • Googling Moral Purity (R.R. Reno, First Things):  “Our ruling class relies on ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’ to legitimate its supereminence. This makes the attendant ideology sacrosanct. Any public dissent becomes explosive, because it threatens the legitimacy of our current social system, which is characterized by an increasing concentration of wealth and power among just a few at the tippy-top.”
    • Quote of the week goes to Rod Dreher: “Gender non-essentialists are the young earth creationists of the Left.” (source)
  4. Related in a weird way: The Toxic Drama on YA Twitter (Kat Rosenfield, Vulture): “One author and former diversity advocate described why she no longer takes part: ‘I have never seen social interaction this [messed] up,’ she wrote in an email. ‘And I’ve been in prison.’”
  5. Why Are There No New Major Religions? (Joe Emont, The Atlantic): “State persecution, aided by religious authorities, is in fact a major reason why new faiths fail in parts of the world where government polices religious doctrine.” The author fails to acknowledge the potent new religion in North America that is a brew of environmentalism and sexual autonomy with New Age superstition thrown in. Also, he doesn’t really consider that maybe some religions are legitimized by miracles/divine sanction. Interesting stuff nonetheless.
  6. Hypepriests: The Grail-Wearing Pastors Who Dress Like Justin Bieber (Sam Schube, GQ): “I wish Justin Bieber the best. ‘Love Yourself’ is among the finest pop songs of this short century, and I find his Instagram account deeply charming in its utter lack of guile. But even if he weren’t Justin Bieber, he’d deserve the guidance, spiritual or otherwise, he’s seeking. We all deserve that. All I mean to say is this: It is rather remarkable that the men Justin Bieber has entrusted to deliver that guidance have decided to dress like Justin Bieber.”

Things Glen Found Amusing

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have Inside Graduate Admissions (Inside Higher Ed, Scott Jaschick): if you plan to apply to grad school, read this. There is one revealing anecdote about how an admissions committee treated an application from a Christian college student. My takeaway: the professors tried to be fair but found it hard to do, and their stated concerns were mostly about the quality of the institution rather than the faith of the applicant. Troubling nonetheless. (first shared in volume 32)

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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