Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 136

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. Trump has been president for about a year now. Here are some perspectives (if you only read one, read the one you think you’ll disagree with most):
    • Trump’s first year was even worse than feared (Eugene Robinson, Washington Post):  “Many of us began 2017 with the consoling thought that the Donald Trump presidency couldn’t possibly be as bad as we feared. It turned out to be worse.”
    • I wasn’t a Trump supporter. I am now. (Mollie Hemingway, Washington Post): “My expectations were low — so low that he could have met them by simply not being President Hillary Clinton. But a year into this presidency, he’s exceeded those expectations by quite a bit. I’m thrilled.”
    • ‘Vision, Chutzpah and Some Testosterone’ (New York Times): “Granted we have the most unpresidential president of our time. Crude, rude, clueless dude — but I believe, with the help of his friends, he’s stumbling through one of the most effective presidencies in memory.” This is from a collection of letters to the NY Times by Trump supporters.
    • This one trick explains the pattern of conservative praise for Trump’s first year (Dan Drezner, Washington Post): “All of this is consistent with assessments that Trump’s first year, even from a conservative perspective, has been pretty mediocre.”
    • Trump So Far Is More Farce Than Tragedy (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “A vast gulf between the things Trump says he wants — which are, indeed, often authoritarian — and the things that actually happen is the essential characteristic of his presidency’s first year…. his cabinet looks a lot like a generic Republican administration, whose efforts liberals understandably oppose and sometimes deplore, but which are not remotely like the workings of a fascist cabal circa 1935.”
    • President Trump’s First Year, in 14 Metrics (Mike Nizza, Blomberg View): “Last year our columnists selected a range of conventional and whimsical metrics by which to judge the success of the new president. We revisit them here. Bottom line: By these measures, he’s doing better than his opponents will admit and worse than his supporters believe.”
  2. Is everything you think you know about depression wrong? (Johann Hari, The Guardian): “Once you settle into a story about your pain, you are extremely reluctant to challenge it. It was like a leash I had put on my distress to keep it under some control. I feared that if I messed with the story I had lived with for so long, the pain would run wild, like an unchained animal. Yet the scientific evidence was showing me something clear, and I couldn’t ignore it.”
    • This reminds me of an article that made an impression upon me back in 2003: The Pursuit of Happiness (Benjamin Healy interviewing Carl Elliott, The Atlantic): “On Prozac, Sisyphus might well push the boulder back up the mountain with more enthusiasm and more creativity. I do not want to deny the benefits of psychoactive medication. I just want to point out that Sisyphus is not a patient with a mental health problem. To see him as a patient with a mental health problem is to ignore certain larger aspects of his predicament connected to boulders, mountains, and eternity.”
    • See also Staying Awake Is A Surprisingly Effective Way To Treat Depression (Linda Geddes, Digg):  “‘Sleep deprivation really has opposite effects in healthy people and those with depression,’ says Benedetti. If you’re healthy and you don’t sleep, you’ll feel in a bad mood. But if you’re depressed, it can prompt an immediate improvement in mood, and in cognitive abilities.”
  3. Follow up to last week: Bolivia’s President Revokes Evangelism Restrictions (Morgan Lee, Christianity Today): “President Evo Morales Ayma announced that he will tell the South American nation’s Legislative Assembly to repeal the entire penal code in the wake of recent changes that, among other tweaks, introduced severe restrictions on religious freedom.”
  4. Of Money and Morals (Alex Mayyasi, Aeon): “Today, a banker listening to a theologian seems like a curiosity, a category error. But for most of history, this kind of dialogue was the norm.” I was reluctant to read this piece because I’ve read others that were off-puttingly ill-informed, but I was pleasantly surprised.
  5. It’s the (Democracy-Poisoning) Golden Age of Free Speech (Zeynep Tufekci, Wired): “The most effective forms of censorship today involve meddling with trust and attention, not muzzling speech itself. As a result, they don’t look much like the old forms of censorship at all. They look like viral or coordinated harassment campaigns, which harness the dynamics of viral outrage to impose an unbearable and disproportionate cost on the act of speaking out.”

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have Christian Missions and the Spread of Democracy (Greg Scandlen, The Federalist): This is a summary of some rather wonderful research Robert Woodberry published in The American Political Science Review back in 2012: The Missionary Roots of Liberal Democracy. If it looks familiar it’s because I allude to it from time to time in my sermons and conversations. (first shared in volume 14)

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.

Archives at http://glenandpaula.com/wordpress/category/links.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 135

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. Match Made in Marrow (Jad Abumrad & Robert Krulwich, Radiolab): this is a podcast featuring someone we’ve brought to campus before: a magician named Jim Munroe. Several alumni emailed/texted me to ask if I had heard it. Jim is a good model in this podcast of how to interact with the media – he is forthright about his faith while remaining likable. He’s not perfect in all of his responses, which in some ways makes him even better as a role model.
  2. Another podcast episode you might find interesting: Is miracle healing for real? Ken Fish vs Frances Janusz (Justin Brierly, Unbelievable): Unbelievable is a weekly radio program in the UK that brings two people, usually a Christian and a skeptic, together in dialog about a specific topic. FYI: I’ve posted a list of podcasts I listen to.
  3. How ‘Cheap Sex’ Is Changing Our Lives – and Our Politics (Park MacDougald, New York Magazine): “Virtually no one… is happy with the state of maleness today, and yet the male behavior we witness today seems a rational, if short-sighted, response to their circumstances.”
    • See also Jordan Peterson’s interview on BBC Channel 4 (YouTube). It’s long but quite interesting and parts of it are relevant to the state of masculinity in North America. Peterson is a clinical psychologist at the University of Toronto. He is controversial – see What’s So Dangerous About Jordan Peterson (Tom Bartlett, Chronicle of Higher Education): “He’s also heard the criticism, including from some longtime colleagues, that he fails to couch his language carefully and as a result naïvely wades into fraught conversations about gender and race.”
  4. Bolivia Makes Evangelism a Crime (Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra, Christianity Today):  “As always, the level of enforcement will determine how harmful to religious freedom the new restrictions prove to be.”
  5. Today was the annual Rally for Life in Washington, DC so there have been a lot of articles about abortion this week.
    • Does the Pro-Life Movement Have Science on Its Side? (Emma Green, The Atlantic): “When Colleen Malloy, a neonatologist and faculty member at Northwestern University, discusses abortion with her colleagues, she says, ‘it’s kind of like the emperor is not wearing any clothes.’ Medical teams spend enormous effort, time, and money to deliver babies safely and nurse premature infants back to health. Yet physicians often support abortion, even late into fetal development. As medical techniques have become increasingly sophisticated, Malloy said, she has felt this tension acutely: A handful of medical centers in major cities can now perform surgeries on genetically abnormal fetuses while they’re still in the womb. Many are the same age as the small number of fetuses aborted in the second or third trimesters of a mother’s pregnancy. ‘The more I advanced in my field of neonatology, the more it just became the logical choice to recognize the developing fetus for what it is: a fetus, instead of some sort of sub-human form,’ Malloy said. ‘It just became so obvious that these were just developing humans.’”
    • Trump Backs Health-Care Workers Who Object to Providing Abortions (Emma Green, The Atlantic): “All of these laws are already on the books. But now, HHS is promising to enforce these statutes more aggressively. ‘For too long, governments big and small have treated conscience claims with hostility instead of protection,’ said Severino in the press release. ‘But change is coming and it begins here and now.’”
    • Why Trump is targeting health workers’ religious objections (Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Washington Post): “A concern among many is that religious freedom is becoming a partisan issue dependent on whoever sits in office, said Michael Wear, who did religious outreach for Obama. The Trump administration, he said, has done little on religious freedom issues that will have much lasting change. ‘The next administration could scrap this office their first day in,’ Wear said. ‘It’s not necessarily putting [religious conservatives] in a better situation when they’re not in a favorable position politically.’”
    • No, Politico, Conscience Protections Are Neither ‘So-Called’ Nor ‘Controversial’ (Casey Mattox, The Federalist): “Government shouldn’t force people to violate their consciences. Until recently, that opinion hasn’t been particularly controversial, even where actual controversial issues like abortion were involved. One can support abortion and still think government shouldn’t discriminate against medical professionals who don’t perform abortions.” This article is a response to Trump to overhaul HHS office, shield health workers with moral objections (Dan Diamond And Jennifer Haberkorn, Politico)
  6. The Church Needs a Masterclass in How to Apologize for Sexual Assault (Abby Perry, Christ and Pop Culture): “Abuse of power, refusal to admit sin in its fullness, and grasping authority with clenched fists have no place in God’s kingdom. His is an economy of intertwined justice and grace, one that looks sin in the face and is repelled by it, not minimizing its grotesque nature but covering it with true grace. True grace does not thinly veil gross moral failure and allow those who commit it to continue wielding power, but offers discipline, discipleship, care, wise counsel, and friendship as means of walking with a person who has fallen.”
  7. Wow. Asiz Ansari. First a summary, then links to commentary. The controversy around Babe.net’s Aziz Ansari story, explained (Caroline Framke, Vox): “The Babe.net report is markedly different from any of the others that have come out since the New York Times broke the story of Harvey Weinstein’s decades of alleged abuse in October. It is not about workplace harassment; nor does it interview multiple victims to portray a pattern of abuse. It is about a single woman who was excited to go out to dinner with a comedian she liked, before quickly becoming uncomfortable with the tenor of his aggressive advances once they went back to his apartment.”
    • The Humiliation of Aziz Ansari (Caitlin Flanagan, The Atlantic):  “I thought it would take a little longer for the hit squad of privileged young white women to open fire on brown-skinned men. I had assumed that on the basis of intersectionality and all that, they’d stay laser focused on college-educated white men for another few months. But we’re at warp speed now, and the revolution—in many ways so good and so important—is starting to sweep up all sorts of people into its conflagration: the monstrous, the cruel, and the simply unlucky.”
    • The Aziz Ansari debacle proves it’s time for a new sexual revolution (Elizabeth Bruenig, Washington Post): “In fact, it seems we have these sorts of public airings of female sexual misery all the time now, which suggests to me that something is wrong with our sexual culture that can’t simply be explained by positing that women are insufficiently aware of their rights and liberties.”
    • Listen to the ‘Bad Feminists’ (Megan McArdle, Bloomberg View): “How has the most empowered generation of women in all of human history come to feel less control over their bodies than their grandmothers did?”
    • Purity and Prejudice (Samuel D. James, First Things): “If nothing else, the failure of contemporary sexual politics to deliver a better experience for women should make us reconsider our assumptions about progress. Why have decades of porn and pills failed to snuff out male privilege?”
    • If I may interject my unsolicited opinion: boy, wouldn’t it be great if there were clear rules governing sexual behavior? And imagine how much clarity would ensue if they were connected to public declarations of consent. That would be wonderful! #ifonly #ohwait #backtothebible

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have Alcohol, Blackouts, and Campus Sexual Assault (Texas Monthly, Sarah Hepola): I think this is the most thoughtful secular piece I’ve read on the issue. “Consent and alcohol make tricky bedfellows. The reason I liked getting drunk was because it altered my consent: it changed what I would say yes to. Not just in the bedroom but in every room and corridor that led into the squinting light. Say yes to adventure, say yes to risk, say yes to karaoke and pool parties and arguments with men, say yes to a life without fear, even though such a life is never possible… We drink because it feels good. We drink because it makes us feel happy, safe, powerful. That it often makes us the opposite is one of alcohol’s dastardly tricks.” (first shared in volume 25)

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.

Archives at http://glenandpaula.com/wordpress/category/links.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 134

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. ‘Walking a line’: The shrewd tactics of the White House’s evangelical gatekeeper (Michelle Boorstein & Sarah Pulliam Bailey, The Washington Post):  “The Senate race in Alabama and Christian nationalist Roy Moore? ‘I’m not involved.’ Trump’s penchant for lying? ‘I don’t want to get into it. Because I don’t focus on those things.’ The GOP tax law that bitterly divided religious leaders? ‘I don’t think there’s an answer.’ ‘For me, that’s all noise,’ he said. ‘It’s not that it isn’t important, but I don’t have time for all that. . . If I did dig into it, I might have stronger opinions, and that would be a distraction for me.’”
  2. The Top 50 Countries Where It’s Most Dangerous to Follow Jesus (Sarah Zylstra, Christianity Today): “For decades, North Korea has clearly been the world’s worst persecutor of Christians. But now, another nation nearly matches it.” Spoiler alert: Afghanistan.
  3. Classical Liberalism Strikes Out (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “Thus, the irony: individualism and statism are not opposites, but grow together in tandem. In our daily partisan politics, we have tended to pit individualism against statism – Ayn Rand against Karl Marx – with conservatives claiming to be individualists and progressives claiming to support an expansive state. But what we have witnessed is the simultaneous growth of both the state and the rise of individualism, not as opposites, but as necessary partners. The world has never seen a more individualistic society nor a more encompassing state. The state has empowered itself by claiming to empower the individual.” This is a very stimulating interview with Notre Dame professor Patrick Deneen. Highly recommended.
  4. Higher Education Is Drowning In BS (Christian Smith, Chronicle of Higher Education): “Ideas and their accompanying practices have consequences. What is formed in colleges and universities over decades shows up for better or worse in the character and quality of our public servants, political campaigns, public-policy debates, citizen participation, social capital, media programming, lower school education, consumer preferences, business ethics, entertainments, and much more. And the long-term corrosive effects on politics and culture can also be repaired only over the long term, if ever. There are no quick fixes here.” Side note: I’ve met Dr. Smith, who is a sociologist at Notre Dame, before. He’s a smart cookie. 
  5. Oprah: Prophet, Priestess … Queen? (Ross Douthat, New York Times):  “American culture is divided between three broad approaches to religious questions: one traditional, one spiritual and one secular. The traditional approach takes various forms (Catholic and Protestant, Muslim and Orthodox Jewish) but its instincts are creedal, confessional, dogmatic; it believes in a specific revelation, a specific authority and a specific holy book, and seeks to conform itself to teachings handed down from the religious past. The secular approach is post-religious, scientistic, convinced that the laboratory and the microscope will ultimately account for everything that matters, while hopefully justifying a liberal society’s still-somewhat-Christian moral commitments along the way. But in between secularism and traditionalism lies the most American approach to matters of faith….”
  6. Can We Teach Ourselves to Believe? (Agnes Callard, New York Times): “Pascal seems to concede that trying to believe is a matter of wishful thinking, self-deception or self-manipulation. He thinks we should do it anyway. But I think our hope of becoming better people — whether in respect of religion, friendship or justice, or in any number of different ways — rests on the possibility that there is a more straightforward and less self-abasing way to try to believe.” The author is a professor of philosophy at the University of Chicago. 
  7. The Legion Lonely (Steven Thomas, Hazlitt): “Friendship in adulthood is a challenge for a lot of people. On average, both men and women start to lose friends around age 25, and continue to lose friends steadily for the rest of our lives.”

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have On Obstinacy In Belief (C.S. Lewis, The Sewanee Review): this is a rewarding essay from way back in 1955. (first shared in volume 6).

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.

Archives at http://glenandpaula.com/wordpress/category/links.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 133

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. Fractured West (Michael Totten, City Journal): “…I interviewed a gay Native American who sports an ‘I Stand with Standing Rock’ T-shirt on his Facebook page. You might think that a gay Native American must have voted for Hillary Clinton, but you would be wrong.” This is a tremendously fascinating article about Oregon politics.
    • Speaking of Oregon: Collective Action Kills Innovation (Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution): “Most of the rest of the America–where people pump their own gas everyday without a second thought–is having a good laugh at Oregon’s expense. But I am not here to laugh because in every state but one where you can pump your own gas you can’t open a barbershop without a license.”
  2. The Hardest Workers Don’t Do the Best Work (Jerry Useem, Bloomberg View): “It turned out that some people who did less just accomplished less. But the top performers also did less, and seemed to have a knack for figuring out how to sidestep inessential tasks to obsess on a few important things.
  3. Reality Has A Surprising Amount of Detail (John Salvatier, personal blog): “The important details you haven’t noticed are invisible to you, and the details you have noticed seem completely obvious and you see right through them. This all makes makes it difficult to imagine how you could be missing something important.”
  4. Why you can’t blame mass incarceration on the war on drugs (German Lopez, Vox): “It’s not drug offenses that are driving mass incarceration, but violent ones. It’s not the federal government that’s behind mass incarceration, but a whole host of prison systems down to the local and state level. It’s not solely police and lawmakers leading to more incarceration and lengthy prison sentences, but prosecutors who are by and large out of the political spotlight.”
  5. “Oh My God, This Is So F—ed Up”: Inside Silicon Valley’s Secretive, Orgiastic Dark Side (Emily Chang, Vanity Fair): “Rich men expecting casual sexual access to women is anything but a new paradigm. But many of the A-listers in Silicon Valley have something unique in common: a lonely adolescence devoid of contact with the opposite sex.”
  6. Two Taxpayers, Two Definitions of ‘Progressive’ (Ramesh Ponnuru, Bloomberg View): “…liberal analyses of the tax cut emphasize that it generally raises after-tax income more for high earners than for low earners. Conservative analyses tend to point out that lower earners will generally see their tax bills decline by the same percentage that higher earners will (and sometimes will see them drop more). Neither side is distorting the truth. They’re looking at the same thing from different angles.”
  7. When Democracy Hinges On a Single Vote (Stephen Carter, Bloomberg View): “…it turns out that we don’t count votes terribly well. A 2012 study found that although some methods of tabulating ballots are better than others, we can generally expect an error rate of 1 to 2 percent. Although we can’t predict which way the errors will fall, it’s unlikely that they will sum precisely to zero – in other words, there will always be mistakes. So each time we count, we can expect a different result.” The author is a law professor at Yale.
  8. Making China Great Again (Evan Osnos, The New Yorker): “For years, China’s startups lagged behind those in Silicon Valley. But there is more parity now. Of the forty-one private companies worldwide that reached “unicorn” status in 2017—meaning they had valuations of a billion dollars or more—fifteen are Chinese and seventeen are American.” Also, I found this bit very amusing: “In the city of Shenzhen, the local government uses facial recognition to deter jaywalkers. (At busy intersections, it posts their names and I.D. pictures on a screen at the roadside.) In Beijing, the government uses facial-recognition machines in public rest rooms to stop people from stealing toilet paper; it limits users to sixty centimetres within a nine-minute period.”

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have The Land of We All (Richard Mitchell, The Gift of Fire), an essay built on this insight: “Thinking can not be done corporately. Nations and committees can’t think. That is not only because they have no brains, but because they have no selves, no centers, no souls, if you like. Millions and millions of persons may hold the same thought, or conviction or suspicion, but each and every person of those millions must hold it all alone.” (first shared in volume 2)

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.

Archives at http://glenandpaula.com/wordpress/category/links.