Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 215

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 1619 Project (many authors, New York Times Magazine): “…[many believe] that 1776 is the year of our nation’s birth. What if, however, we were to tell you that this fact, which is taught in our schools and unanimously celebrated every Fourth of July, is wrong, and that the country’s true birth date, the moment that its defining contradictions first came into the world, was in late August of 1619? Though the exact date has been lost to history (it has come to be observed on Aug. 20), that was when a ship arrived at Point Comfort in the British colony of Virginia, bearing a cargo of 20 to 30 enslaved Africans. Their arrival inaugurated a barbaric system of chattel slavery that would last for the next 250 years. This is sometimes referred to as the country’s original sin, but it is more than that: It is the country’s very origin.” The link is to a PDF of the entire issue.
    • A positive liberal reaction: A Brief History of the History Wars (Rebecca Onion, Slate): “For the sake of our collective cardiovascular health, we would do better to recognize these skirmishes over American history—in which conservatives demand that a positive vision of our nation’s past, studded with successes, inventions, and ‘great men,’ take pride of place in our public culture—as recurrent episodes in a particular decades‐old front of the culture wars. That way, we could stop wasting our good faith on old, dead‐end conversations.”
    • A negative liberal reaction: The New York Times surrenders to the left on race (Damon Linker, The Week): “Throughout the issue of the NYTM, headlines make, with just slight variations, the same rhetorical move over and over again: ‘Here is something unpleasant, unjust, or even downright evil about life in the present‐day United States. Bet you didn’t realize that slavery is ultimately to blame.’ Lack of universal access to health care? High rates of sugar consumption? Callous treatment of incarcerated prisoners? White recording artists ‘stealing’ black music? Harsh labor practices? That’s right — all of it, and far more, follows from slavery.”
    • A complicated conservative reaction: How slavery doomed limited government in America (Philip Klein, Washington Examiner): “A number of conservatives reacted to the project by branding it as anti‐American. But I don’t think that’s fair, at least based on the lead essay I read from Nikole Hannah‐Jones. In fact, her piece is quite the opposite. Sure, it chronicles the brutality of the institution of slavery and the century of oppression, institutionalized discrimination, and racist terrorism that followed. Yet the piece is ultimately about how she reconciles that history with her patriotism and comes to understand her own father’s love of a country that treated him so poorly.”
    • A negative conservative reaction: How To Delegitimize A Nation (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “But who we imagine ourselves to be today shapes who we will become tomorrow. If The 1619 Project were merely about expanding our common understanding of the American origins, who could object? It arrives, though, in the midst of an epic culture war over who we are, and who we are going to be.”
    • Related: Black American History Should Give Evangelicals a Sense of Perspective — and Hope (David French, National Review): “If men and women have the opportunity to speak and possess the courage to tell the truth, they have hope that they can transform a nation. What was true for black Americans (including the black American church) in the most dire of circumstances is still true for contemporary Christians in far less trying times”
    • In response: In Defense Of Evangelical Cultural Pessimism (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “This, I think, is a distinction that makes a big difference re: French’s argument. You can’t cease to be black; you can cease to be Christian, or at least meaningfully Christian.” This piece is way too long but makes some good points.
  2. Don’t Use These Free‐Speech Arguments Ever Again (Ken White, The Atlantic): “If you’ve read op‐eds about free speech in America, or listened to talking heads on the news, you’ve almost certainly encountered empty, misleading, or simply false tropes about the First Amendment. Those tired tropes are barriers to serious discussions about free speech. Any useful discussion of what the law should be must be informed by an accurate view of what the law is.” White is best known under his internet alias Popehat. Recommended to me by a student.
  3. The Real Problem at Yale Is Not Free Speech (Natalia Dashan, Palladium): “The campus ‘free speech’ debate is just a side‐effect. So are debates about ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion.’ The real problems run much deeper. The real problems start with Marcus and me, and the masks we wear for each other…. In a world of masks and façades, it is hard to convey the truth. And this is how I ended up offering a sandwich to a man with hundreds of millions in a foreign bank account.” I liked this one a lot.
    • Related: ‘Luxury beliefs’ are the latest status symbol for rich Americans (Rob Henderson, New York Post): “…as trendy clothes and other products become more accessible and affordable, there is increasingly less status attached to luxury goods. The upper classes have found a clever solution to this problem: luxury beliefs. These are ideas and opinions that confer status on the rich at very little cost, while taking a toll on the lower class.”
  4. How Life Became an Endless, Terrible Competition (Daniel Markovits, The Atlantic): “Escaping the meritocracy trap will not be easy. Elites naturally resist policies that threaten to undermine their advantages. But it is simply not possible to get rich off your own human capital without exploiting yourself and impoverishing your inner life, and meritocrats who hope to have their cake and eat it too deceive themselves.” The author is a Yale law professor. I found his diagnosis more persuasive than his prognosis.
  5. The Coming Migration out of Sub‐Saharan Africa (Christopher Caldwell, National Review): “The population pressures emanating from the Middle East in recent decades, already sufficient to drive the European political system into convulsions, are going to pale beside those from sub‐Saharan Africa in decades to come.” Fascinating.
  6. Why Niceness Weakens Our Witness (Sharon Hodde Miller, Christianity Today): “We exist in a world that swings between sweetness and outrage, two behaviors that seem to be at odds with one another. In reality, they are two sides of the same coin: a lack of spiritual formation. When our civility isn’t rooted in something sturdy and deep, when our good behavior isn’t springing from the core of who we are but is instead merely a mask we put on, it is only a matter of time before the façade crumbles away and our true state is revealed: an entire generation of people who are really good at looking good.” I agree with the substance of this article, but the title bothers me. 
  7. Fact‐Checking Satire — Is Snopes Serious? (Bill Zeiser, RealClearPolitics): “the Bee’s founder and minority owner, Adam Ford, took particular exception to the tone of the Snopes assessment. In a lengthy Twitter thread, he called Snopes’ handling of the piece on Thomas ‘particularly egregious’ and ‘disturbing.’ He pointed to a subtitle that castigated the Bee for ‘fanning the flames of controversy’ and ‘muddying the details of a news story’ to the point that it was unclear if the piece qualified as satire. Ford complained that throughout the Snopes story, supposedly an ‘objective fact check,’ the assessment ‘veered towards pronouncing a moral judgment,’ seemingly accusing the satirical site of willful deception. It is certainly understandable how Ford could feel this way: Snopes referred to the Bee’s ‘ruse’ and offered that ‘the Babylon Bee has managed to fool readers with its brand of satire in the past.’”

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 How the State Serves Both Salvation and Religious Freedom (Jonathan Leeman, 9 Marks): “Two basic kinds of governments, then, show up in the Bible: those that shelter God’s people, and those that destroy them. Abimelech sheltered; Pharoah destroyed. The Assyrians destroyed; the Babylonians and Persians, ultimately, sheltered. Pilate destroyed; Festus sheltered. And depending on how you read Revelation, the history of government will culminate in a beastly slaughter of saintly blood. Romans 13 calls governments servants; Psalm 2 calls them imposters. Most governments contain both. But some are better than others.” First shared in volume 165

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). 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.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 131

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 Western Elite from a Chinese Perspective (Puzhong Yao, American Affairs): “Certain beliefs are as ubiquitous among the people I went to school with as smog was in Shijiazhuang. The doctrines that shape the worldviews and cultural assumptions at elite Western institutions like Cambridge, Stanford, and Goldman Sachs have become almost religious. Nevertheless, I hope that the perspective of a candid Chinese atheist can be of some instruction to them.” This is quite funny in places, especially his experiences at the Stanford GSB.
    • From a sort‐of‐reverse perspective: How Trust Shapes Nations’ Safety Rules (Veronique Greenwood, The Atlantic): “By the end of my first year in China, I feel as if I am a one‐person FDA.”
  2. University evicts Christian club over leadership faith requirement (Caleb Parke, Fox News): “‘The [University of Iowa] knows that what it is doing to BLinC is unfair, illegal, and unconstitutional,’ the complaint prepared by the firm says, adding that, while BLinC only requires adherence to their beliefs for their leaders and not their members, university policy is that campus organizations can require members to believe a certain way.’” Read the actual legal complaint — it’s straight fire. I was especially tickled by paragraph 76.
  3. How Culture Affects Depression (Marianna Pogosyan, Psychology Today): “However, teaching people that this very complex social, cultural, and biological phenomenon is entirely biological can backfire. It encourages people to ignore environmental factors, and instead, essentialize depression as a characteristic of themselves and their biology.” An interview with a Georgetown psychology professor.
  4. The Warlock Hunt (Claire Berlinski, The American Interest): “Given the events of recent weeks, we can be certain of this: From now on, men with any instinct for self‐preservation will cease to speak of anything personal, anything sexual, in our presence. They will make no bawdy jokes when we are listening. They will adopt in our presence great deference to our exquisite sensitivity and frailty. Many women seem positively joyful at this prospect. The Revolution has at last been achieved! But how could this be the world we want? Isn’t this the world we escaped?”
  5. Evangelicals and Domestic Violence: Are Christian Men More Abusive? (Brad Wilcox, Christianity Today):  “…churchgoing evangelical Protestant husbands were the least likely to be engaged in abusive behavior…. Although the empirical story of religion and domestic violence looks good for practicing believers, it’s much less rosy for others. My research suggests that the most violent husbands in America are nominal evangelical Protestants who attend church infrequently or not at all.” Brings to mind Rev 3:15–16 — be hot or cold, not lukewarm. The author is a sociologist at UVA.
  6. I read many articles about the Alabama election — these stood out.
    • Roy Moore and the Invisible Religious Right  (Benjamin Wallace‐Wells, The New Yorker): “…what was most notable about the pastors on Moore’s list was their obscurity. I found a list of the pastors of the thirty‐six largest churches in Alabama, assembled this summer by the Web site of the Birmingham News; no pastor on that list appeared on Moore’s. I called leaders within the deeply conservative Southern Baptist Church—the largest denomination in Alabama and, for decades, the core of the religious right—and was told that not a single affiliated Southern Baptist pastor in the state was openly allied with Moore.”
    • Roy Moore Had Lowest White Evangelical Support Of Any Alabama Republican In The 21st Century (Lyman Stone, The Federalist): “Exit polls from the Alabama Senate special election on Tuesday show that Roy Moore got 80 percent of the white evangelical vote, but nonetheless went down to defeat. This is shocking, because white evangelicals are a big share of Alabama’s population…. So if it’s a big voting bloc and they’re 80 percent for a candidate, shouldn’t that candidate win?”
    • For a critical take on the above claim: Is it possible that white evangelicals swung the Alabama election against Roy Moore? (Scott Clement, Washington Post): “Moore’s support among white evangelicals is historically low for a Republican. At the same time, the drop‐off in Moore’s support among other white groups from previous elections (particularly non‐evangelicals, white women and whites with college degrees) is far larger, indicating that evangelicals were far less likely than other typical Republican voters to alter their party support with Moore as a candidate.”
    • And more generally: Pro‐life Voters and Pro‐Choice Politicians (Michael Wear, personal blog): “The way some invoke conscience in politics reflects an odd morality that puts one’s conscience at risk for supporting a candidate who opposes Roe v. Wade, but rationalizes away moral responsibility for a candidate who intentionally seeks to disenfranchise African‐Americans or restrict the right of worship for Muslims or wantonly breaks up families through deportation or mass incarceration. Perhaps abortion as a political issue carries greater moral weight than these other issues—an idea some pro‐lifers seem a bit too eager to accept, I have to say—but is there no confluence of evil that can affect the voting calculation of the pro‐life person who believes their conscience requires them to vote for whoever the pro‐life candidate happens to be?” Wear, an evangelical, was an Obama White House staffer.
    • Also more generally: Why I Can No Longer Call Myself an Evangelical Republican (Peter Wehner, New York Times): “the events of the past few years — and the past few weeks — have shown us that the Republican Party and the evangelical movement (or large parts of them, at least), have become what I once would have thought of as liberal caricatures. Assume you were a person of the left and an atheist, and you decided to create a couple of people in a laboratory to discredit the Republican Party and white evangelical Christianity. You could hardly choose two more perfect men than Donald Trump and Roy Moore.” (this one came recommended by a student)
  7. Is AlphaZero really a scientific breakthrough in AI? (Jose Camacho Collados, Medium):  “I am a researcher in the broad field of Artificial Intelligence (AI), specialized in Natural Language Processing. I am also a chess International Master, currently the top player in South Korea although practically inactive for the last few years due to my full‐time research position…. However, there are reasonable doubts about the validity of the overarching claims that arise from a careful reading of AlphaZero’s paper.”  I was recently hyping this to someone and clearly did not know as much about it as I thought. Interesting pushback.
  8. And last but not least : Want to raise employee morale? Treat every day as an experiment (Christos Makridis, Medium): our very own Christos continues to put his work out into the public square. Go, Christos!

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 a provocative read: In Defense of Flogging (Peter Moskos, Chronicle of Higher Education) — the author is a former police officer and now a criminologist at the City University of New York. This one was shared back before I started sending these emails in a blog post called Punishment.

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 130

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. There is a small but vocal group of skeptics who claim that Jesus never existed. Larry Hurtado, a professor of early Christianity, takes them down in a series of blog posts.
    • Why The Mythical Jesus Claim Has No Traction With Scholars (Larry Hurtado, personal blog): “The attempts to deny Jesus’ historical existence are, for anyone acquainted with the relevant evidence, blatantly silly.”
    • Focus, Focus, Focus! (Larry Hurtado, personal blog): “Another reader seems greatly exercised over how much of the Jesus‐tradition Paul recounts in his letters, and how much Paul may have known…. Paul ascribes to Jesus a human birth, a ministry among fellow Jews, an execution specifically by Roman crucifixion, named/known siblings, and other named individuals who were Jesus’ original companions (e.g., Kephas/Peter, John Zebedee).  Indeed, in Paul’s view, it was essential that Jesus is a real human, for the resurrected Jesus is Paul’s model and proto‐type of the final redemption that Paul believes God will bestow on all who align themselves with Jesus.”
    • Gee, Dr. Carrier, You’re Really Upset! (Larry Hurtado, personal blog): “This example will adequately serve to illustrate why Carrier’s work hasn’t had any impact in scholarly circles.  He gets himself into a muddle.”
  2. Four Questions About American Greatness (Bret Stephens, New York Times): Difficult to excerpt but good. Stephens says America is great and that to retain our greatness we must have a proper attitude toward immigrants, independent thinking, failure, and global leadership. Recommended by a friend — thank you!
  3. A Police Killing Without a Hint of Racism (Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic): “No unjust killing of a black person should go uncovered. But I suspect it would be in everyone’s interest if journalists and activists paid more attention to egregious police killings of white people. If you’re horrified by Daniel Shaver’s untimely death, yet against Black Lives Matter, consider that Shaver might well be alive if only the Mesa police department had long ago adopted reforms of the sort that Black Lives Matter suggests.” There is a follow‐up article — Footage Of A Police Shooting Jurors Chose Not To Punish.
  4. The world is relying on a flawed psychological test to fight racism (Olivia Goldhill, Quartz): “meta‐analyses showed that the [Implicit Association Test] is no better at predicting discriminatory behavior (including microaggressions) than explicit measures of explicit bias, such as the Modern Racism Scale, which evaluates racism simply by asking participants to state their level of agreement with [racist statements].”
  5. Survey: Evangelical Label, Beliefs Often At Odds (Bob Smietana, Baptist Press): “Fewer than half of those who identify as evangelicals (45 percent) strongly agree with core evangelical beliefs…. Only two‐thirds (69 percent) of evangelicals by belief self‐identify as evangelicals.” This is important to remember both when reading the news and when talking with others — the label evangelical doesn’t mean what it should. Usefully illustrated in visual form on Twitter.
  6. The Origin of Silicon Valley’s Dysfunctional Attitude Toward Hate Speech (Noam Cohen, The New Yorker): “Censoring a newsgroup, he explained to those who might not be familiar with Usenet, was like pulling a book from circulation. Since ‘Mein Kampf’ was still on the library shelves, it was hard to imagine how anything else merited removal.” The article is about Stanford, and it led me to entirely different conclusions than the author intended.
  7. The Church’s Fate Is Not Electoral: Our Roy Moore Moment (Greg Forster, Gospel Coalition): ”There are no Flight 93 moments for the church; there never have been and never will be. Certainly God’s people will continue to face persecution from worldly powers, as we always have. But the idea that we have to compromise moral standards in order to prevent the destruction of the church reflects an appalling failure to grasp where the church’s fate really lies. The church’s fate is not electoral; it’s eschatological. The church’s triumph over its enemies comes with the King’s return.”
  8. The Supreme Court heard arguments on Tuesday about the Colorado baker who refuses to bake cakes for events he find objectionable — including gay weddings.
    • Argument analysis: Conservative majority leaning toward ruling for Colorado baker (Amy Howe, SCOTUSblog): “Although making predictions based on oral argument is always dangerous, it seemed very possible that there are five votes for Phillips among the court’s more conservative justices, even if it is less clear how broadly they will rule.”
    • A Baker’s First Amendment Rights (Robert P. George and Sherif Girgis, New York Times): “You need the First Amendment precisely when your ideas offend others or flout the majority’s orthodoxies. And then it protects more than your freedom to speak your mind; it guards your freedom not to speak the mind of another.”
    • We’re lawyers who support same‐sex marriage. We also support the Masterpiece Cakeshop baker. (Douglas Laycock & Thomas Berg, Vox): “The case tests the nation’s commitment to liberty and justice for all. And we aren’t doing well on the part about ‘for all.’ Too many Americans, left and right, religious and secular, want liberty for their own side in the culture wars, but not for the other side.” The authors are not just lawyers — they are professors of constitutional law.
    • How Not To Advance Gay Marriage (David Brooks, New York Times): “If you want to know why we have such a polarized, angry and bitter society, one reason is we take every disagreement that could be addressed in conversation and community and we turn it into a lawsuit. We take every morally supple situation and we hand it over to the legal priesthood, which by necessity is a system of technocratic rationalism, strained slippery‐slope analogies and implied coercion.”

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 20 Arguments For God’s Existence (Peter Kreeft, personal website): “You may be blessed with a vivid sense of God’s presence; and that is something for which to be profoundly grateful. But that does not mean you have no obligation to ponder these arguments. For many have not been blessed in that way. And the proofs are designed for them—or some of them at least—to give a kind of help they really need. You may even be asked to provide help.” The author is a philosophy professor at Boston College. (first shared in volume 116)

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.

Christianity and Patriotism

Many Stanford students feel ambivalent about celebrating America because of her great flaws. If that’s you, I urge you to consider these three articles. They are listed in order of helpfulness.

And if you’re an international student, I hope these articles encourage you to love your own homeland — patriotism rightly understood is a good thing and it encompasses people from all nations.
  • American Jesus (Douglas Wilson, personal blog): I debated whether to include this one or not. I agree with enough of it to invite you to wrestle with it.
And so, should it be legal in your jurisdiction, blow something sparkly up tonight.