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
- Everyone Got The Pulse Massacre Story Completely Wrong (Melissa Jeltsen, Huffington Post): “…in acquitting Salman, 31, on Friday, a jury also delivered a verdict on the story we’d told ourselves about the killings: We’d gotten it wrong. In the wake of the shooting, the media and public focused on certain details, many of which were later determined to be unfounded, and discounted others, like Mateen’s own explanation for his actions.” This is a must‐read. It’s amazing how wrong the cultural consensus is.
- Altered Brain Developmental Trajectories in Adolescents After Initiating Drinking (Adolf Pfefferbaum, et al, American Journal of Psychiatry): “Initiation of drinking during adolescence, with or without marijuana co‐use, disordered normal brain growth trajectories.” Adolescence is defined as up to 21 in this study, which means most college students should be far more leery of alcohol than they are.
- “Engaging the Culture” Doesn’t Work Because Christian Beliefs Are a Mark of Low Status (Dean Abbot, Patheos): “Evangelicals sought to engage the culture by being relevant, by creating works of art, by offering good arguments for their positions. None of these addressed the real problem: that Christian belief simply isn’t cool, and that very few people want to lower their social status by identifying publicly with it.”
- See also his follow‐up Traditional Christian Belief and Low Social Status: Four Responses: “The cultural shift that dislodged traditional Christianity from its place as the foundation of American culture has provoked a number of responses among believers. Though these responses may seem infinitely varied on the surface, the bulk of them can actually be categorized under four headings: accommodation, appeasement, acceptance and aggression.”
- And the sequel to that, The Low Social Status of Christian Belief Is Part of a Larger Problem: “In Christianity’s place, a new default religion stands. In this system, the human problem is lack of liberty, specifically the lack of liberty for each individual to determine his own values, purpose and morals. The solution is to liberate others by advocating, even in an abstract and risk‐free way, for ‘social justice.’”
- Plumbers and Priests (Tony Woodlief, personal blog): “I don’t know how I got to the point where I’m inclined to disbelieve anything an academic claims. I’m not anti‐intellectual. I read stuff. I even hold a PhD, and a Master of Fine Arts on top of that. I can show you mathematically why a single‐member plurality voting system tends to yield two major parties, and for the chaser I can hit you with an explication of the roots of literary modernism.… [and yet] the fact is I don’t have any confidence in those N.C. State findings.” The author has a Ph.D. in political science. I almost didn’t include this one, but I can’t stop thinking about it.
- ‘I Know I Will Be Criticized’: The Latino Evangelical Who Advises Trump on Immigration (Laurie Goodstein, New York Times): “Mr. Rodriguez represents a growing segment of the evangelical movement, and one that is often overlooked in all the attention paid to the white evangelicals serving as Mr. Trump’s cheerleaders. One in four evangelicals in the United States is now an immigrant or the child of one. In the younger generation of evangelicals, there are now more Hispanic people than non‐Hispanic whites.” Disclosure: I have met Sammy but don’t know him. We’re in the same denomination.
- Some news from the global church:
- Missionaries at border spread Christianity to North Korea (Hyung‐jin Kim And Gerry Shih, AP News): “Among the missionaries and pastors killed under mysterious circumstances in recent years is the Rev. Han Chung‐ryeol, a Chinese pastor of Korean descent who headed a front‐line church in the Chinese border town of Changbai before he was found dead of multiple stab wounds and a punctured skull in April 2016, raising suspicions that North Korea was involved.”
- China Bans Bibles from Online Sellers Like Amazon (Morgan Lee, Christianity Today): “Two days before the Bibles were banned from online purchase, the Chinese government released a document outlining how it intends to promote ‘Chinese Christianity’ over the next five years. According to the document, one of the government’s key objectives is to reinterpret and retranslate the Bible in order to enhance ‘Chinese‐style Christianity and theology.’”
- Meet the First Female Evangelical Presidential Candidate of Colombia (Deann Alford, Christianity Today): “My public participation follows a biblical model. The Bible teaches that we must be witnesses of the Lord whenever we are. In the last century, US missionaries taught that politics was of the devil, and the church here was apathetic. Fortunately, we’re waking up. But we must wake up properly, mindful to not confuse the church with a political party.”
- Conservative Christian Singer Loses Costa Rica Presidential Race (Morgan Lee, Christianity Today): “The evangelical candidate had emerged from obscurity to take a plurality of the vote in the first round of the presidential race…. Despite his loss, Alvarado Muñoz’s success is ‘a cultural game changer,’ says Douglass Sullivan‐González, a University of Mississippi Honors College dean who has done religious research in Central America. ‘[Evangélicos] are now going to be seen a political challenge thanks to the success of Fabricio Alvarado, said Sullivan‐González.”
- Two related articles by the Chairman of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (he is also a professor of political science at Villanova).
- Religious Totalitarianism, Secular Totalitarianism, and Other Threats to International Religious Freedom (Daniel Mark, The Public Discourse): “Serving on USCIRF, which monitors and reports on the worst religious freedom situations in the world, I am acutely aware of how our challenges at home pale in comparison to what goes on abroad. But the lesson from this is not what you think. It’s not that we should feel so good as to become complacent about our own present circumstances. On the contrary, the painful international scene should be an ever‐present reminder to us of how rare, how precious, and how vulnerable religious freedom is—and how vigilant we must be in defending it.”
- Domestic Challenges to Religious Liberty From Left and Right (Daniel Mark, The Public Discourse): “One central consequence of this denial of human nature is that it leads ineluctably to a denial of human rights. Without a firm view of human nature, we cannot construct a coherent account of human rights. I am aware, of course, that the people I have in mind here claim all sorts of things in the name of human rights. But the new menu of human rights is selective, subjective, and, finally, indefensible.”
Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen
- A Jesus prank (gfycat): the hand motions are goofy, but I find the concept hilarious
- Google Pays Respect To Jesus’s Empty Tomb With Empty Homepage (Babylon Bee): “While Christians have often complained of bias in the selection of which days Google honors with its ‘Google Doodles,’ believers around the country were reportedly ecstatic to find that the search and advertising giant chose to honor the empty tomb of Jesus on Easter morning with an empty homepage.”
- Movement That Demands Forceful Silencing Of All Opposing Viewpoints Unsure Why Nation So Divided (Babylon Bee): read the full article and not just the headline — it’s extremely entertaining.
- Scholars: Jesus Spent 40 Days In Wilderness Attending Amped‐Up Men’s Conference (Babylon Bee): I believe this is in response to this video promoting a men’s conference in Missouri. The video has received some mockery, but I gotta be honest — this conference looks really fun and would be way easier to invite some of my neighbors to than a lot of other Christian conferences. Disclaimer: I know the pastor whose church is hosting this event.
- Bad Data (Dilbert): this also applies to academic research
Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago
Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have How To Pray A Psalm (Justin Taylor, Gospel Coalition): prayer life need a boost? Give this a try. (first shared in volume 69)
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.