Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 223

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. Ethiopia’s Evangelical Prime Minister Wins Nobel Peace Prize (Kate Shellnutt, Christianity Today): “The son of a Muslim father and Orthodox mother, Ahmed is a Protestant Pentecostal, or ‘Pentay,’ like many Ethiopian politicians. His faith is seen as a driving factor in his push for peace.”
  2. Algeria Forces Christians Out of the Country’s Largest Churches (Kate Shellnutt, Christianity Today): “At least 15 Protestant churches—out of only about 46 in the country—have been shuttered since January 2018, according to the Christian advocacy group Middle East Concern. The country, home to just 125,000 Christians, fewer than 1 percent of the population, ranks 22nd on Open Doors’ World Watch List. Christian congregations struggle to register with the government agency tasked with regulating non‐Muslim worship, per a 2006 law. It never convenes and has not issued a single approval.”
  3. The Perilous Power of the Preacher’s Wife (Kate Bowler, New York TImes): “Ordained progressive women secure a measure of institutional sway, but they lack the cultural capital of their conservative counterparts. My research shows that conservative women gain considerable influence without institutional power, and liberal women gain institutional power without considerable influence.” The author is a professor at Duke Divinity School and I have spotlighted articles by her three times previously, in volume 37, volume 116, and volume 143.
  4. The deluded cult of social justice (John Gray, UnHerd): “Seldom have the demands of justice been so manifestly faddish. Increasingly, justice is seen as not an attribute of legal systems but of entire societies. At the same time it is believed to be owed to groups more than individuals. In these circumstances, everything depends on whether the group to which people are deemed to be belong is in vogue.” The author is a retired professor of political philosophy (London School of Economics) and a well‐known atheist. 
  5. How to Convince an Atheist that God Exists (John Ellis, personal blog): “I didn’t become an atheist because that’s what I wanted; I became an atheist because I believed it was the truth. So, standing on that sidewalk while trying not to think about my mom praying for me, I cursed a God I didn’t even believe existed.”
  6. Some thoughts about China’s government:
    • What are the Options Part III: The Bigger Picture (Christopher Balding, personal blog): “The United States must be prepared to layout a vision for the value it wants to promote, to make the biggest sacrifices to realize those values, share the benefits with aligned countries, and deny benefits to adversary or nonaligned countries.” Recommended by a student. I linked to another of Balding’s posts about China back in volume 162
    • Here’s a growing list of companies bowing to China censorship pressure (Natasha Pinon, Mashable): “Major global companies have been bowing to both direct and indirect pressure from China’s political leaders to control how the economic powerhouse of a country is portrayed for some time.”
    • China’s Vision of Victory? (Tanner Greer, personal blog): “So‐called influence operations are aimed at the enemies China’s leaders fear most: the ones who pose an ideological, not a geopolitical, threat to the Communist Party. These are the hostile forces that threaten the stability of the Communist regime, and many of them—from Christians and Uighurs fleeing religious persecution to Taiwanese, Hong Kongers, and others of Chinese descent who dare imagine different futures for their people—live in America. As long as these groups can safely assemble and freely speak within the United States, America will be seen as a threat to the Chinese party‐state. Similar fears have already led Beijing to demand ideological fealty from its foreign debtors. China’s leaders do not ask clients to change their system of government but to squelch criticism of Chinese communism inside their borders.” Greer has appeared once before in volume 217.
    • China’s Looming Class Struggle (Joel Kotkin, Quillette): “Initially, China’s progress lifted up all classes, raising as many as 850 million people out of extreme poverty in 40 years, one of the greatest economic accomplishments in history. Yet the boom has been less successful in creating a Western‐style mass middle class which analyst Nan Chen estimates at roughly 12 percent of the population. ‘Rather than replicating the middle‐class growth of post‐World War II America,’ she observes, ‘China appears to have skipped that stage altogether and headed straight for a model of extraordinary productivity but disproportionately distributed wealth.’” Kotkin is a professor of urban studies at Chapman University.
  7. Attorney General William P. Barr Delivers Remarks to the Law School and the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture at the University of Notre Dame (William Barr, Department of Justice): “From the Founding Era onward, there was strong consensus about the centrality of religious liberty in the United States. The imperative of protecting religious freedom was not just a nod in the direction of piety. It reflects the Framers’ belief that religion was indispensable to sustaining our free system of government.” (you can watch a video of the speech instead)
    • What Barr Got Right — And What He Might Add (Howard Husock, National Review): “Barr stands accused of endorsing some sort of Christian theocracy. Barr, of course, hardly endorsed the idea the church–state divide should be erased in the United States. Nor did he insist that only the religious could live a healthy and productive life. Rather, he singled out for criticism those who believe that, in effect, government social programs could replace the virtues instilled by religion. It’s an important distinction.”
    • William Barr Is Neck‐Deep in Extremist Catholic Institutions (Joan Walsh, The Nation): “In a histrionic speech at Notre Dame Law School on Friday, he blamed ‘secularists’ and ‘so‐called progressives’ for destroying society and precipitating the crises of family dissolution, crime, and drugs, while talking of a war between religious and nonreligious Americans.”
    • Bill Barr: Religious Liberty Warrior (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “It’s a standard defense of religion’s role in American life. It would have been unremarkable for any US Attorney General, Republican or Democrat, prior to 2008 to have given. But now, many on the Left have become so hateful of religion that Barr’s speech strikes the ears of people like Nobel Prize‐winning economist Paul Krugman as the handiwork of a Cossack propagandist…” I probably include more articles from Dreher than anyone else because he is so amazingly prolific and often writes about topics I am interested in.

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 A (Not So) Secular Saint (James K.A. Smith, Los Angeles Review of Books): “Mill’s legacy was effectively ‘edited’ by his philosophical and political disciples, excising any hint of religious life. One would never know from the canon in our philosophy departments, for example, that Mill wrote an appreciative essay on ‘Theism.’” First shared in volume 190.

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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). And to the extent you can discern my opinions, please understand that they are my own and not necessarily those of Chi Alpha or any other organization I may be perceived to represent. 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 this was forwarded to you and you want to receive future emails, sign up here. You can also view the archives.

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