Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 137

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. My Larry Nassar Testimony Went Viral. But There’s More to the Gospel Than Forgiveness. (Morgan Lee interviewing Rachael Denhollander, Christianity Today): “One of the areas where Christians don’t do well is in acknowledging the devastation of the wound. We can tend to gloss over the devastation of any kind of suffering but especially sexual assault, with Christian platitudes like God works all things together for good or God is sovereign. Those are very good and glorious biblical truths, but when they are misapplied in a way to dampen the horror of evil, they ultimately dampen the goodness of God. Goodness and darkness exist as opposites. If we pretend that the darkness isn’t dark, it dampens the beauty of the light.”
  2. Want to see a spat between two brilliant theologians?
    • The New Testament in the strange words of David Bentley Hart (N.T. Wright, The Christian Century): “When a theologian of the stature of David Bentley Hart offers a ‘pitilessly literal translation’ of the New Testament that is ‘not shaped by later theological and doctrinal history’ and aims to make ‘the familiar strange, novel, and perhaps newly compelling,’ we are eager to see the result. He promises to bring out the ‘wildly indiscriminate polyphony’ of the writers’ styles and emphases, converging on their ‘vibrant certainty that history has been invaded by God in Christ in such a way that nothing can stay as it was.’ But his two main claims (to be ‘literal’ and ‘undogmatic’) are not borne out, and the promise of displaying the strangeness of early Christian life disappears behind different kinds of strangeness.”
    • A Reply To N.T. Wright (David Bentley Hart, Eclectic Orthodoxy): “[A rebuttal] wherein, at long last, our author unburdens himself of a great number of complaints he has long wished to make against that pious man’s earnest but problematic approach to the New Testament, embellished with a few moments of sly mockery, but ultimately intended as a good-natured—albeit inflexible—expression of deep disagreement.”
    • Translating the N. T. Wright and David Bentley Hart Tussle  (Caleb Lindgren, Christianity Today): “While the verbal sparring is both sharp and entertaining (and perhaps off-putting to certain sensibilities), there is a valuable point at the heart of this debate—one that is worth noting as these two Bible scholarship heavy-hitters take swings at each other’s work.”
  3. Fake porn is the new fake news, and the internet isn’t ready (Nicole Lee, Engadget): “Motherboard recently uncovered a disturbing new trend on Reddit, in which users create AI-generated pornographic clips by swapping other people’s faces onto porn stars…. Needless to say, this has frightening consequences. Not only does this open the door for a horrifying new kind of revenge porn, where a vengeful ex could slap your face on an X-rated video, it also opens a Pandora’s box of fears where nothing on the internet can ever be trusted.” The embedded (non-sketchy) gif is alarmingly realistic. The technology is already good enough that we’re at a tipping point, and it will only get more effective in the future.
  4. A Workout-Tracking App Accidentally Revealed The Location Of A Bunch Of Secret Military Bases And Soldiers’ Names (Digg): “Strava, a GPS-enabled mobile app that allows users to track their running, biking and swimming workouts, is attracting controversy after observers noticed that its global workout heatmap apparently revealed the location of secret military bases and the exercise habits of individual troops on those bases.” Oops. Technology has consequences. Remember that, you startuppy types.
  5. The Abortion Memo (David Brooks, New York Times): “I’m asking us to rethink our priorities. What does America need most right now? One of our talking points is that late-term abortions are extremely rare. If they are extremely rare, why are we giving them priority over all of our other issues combined?”
  6. The female price of male pleasure (Lili Loofbourow, The Week): “Because if you’re going to wax poetic about male pleasure, you had better be ready to talk about its secret, unpleasant, ubiquitous cousin: female pain. Research shows that 30 percent of women report pain during vaginal sex, 72 percent report pain during anal sex, and ‘large proportions’ don’t tell their partners when sex hurts.” First, fascinating because I had no idea. Second, because the author is so cocooned in assumptions stemming from the sexual revolution that she doesn’t seem to have considered whether this is a symptom of the whole thing being unhealthy and mistaken on key points.
  7. Showing Off To the Universe: Beacons For The Afterlife of Our Civilization (Steven Wolfram, personal blog): “There’s a thought experiment I’ve long found useful. Imagine a very advanced civilization, that’s able to move things like stars and planets around at will. What arrangement would they put them in? Maybe they’d want to make a ‘beacon of purpose’. And maybe—like Kant—one could think that would be achievable by setting up some ‘recognizable’ geometric pattern. Like how about an equilateral triangle? But no, that won’t do. Because for example the Trojan asteroids actually form an equilateral triangle with Jupiter and the Sun already, just as a result of physics. And pretty soon one realizes that there’s actually nothing the aliens could do to ‘prove their purpose’. The configuration of stars in the sky may look kind of random to us (except, of course, that we still see constellations in it). But there’s nothing to say that looked at in the right way it doesn’t actually represent some grand purpose.” A long but fascinating essay about how difficult it is to encode a message that unambiguously communicates intelligence. Relevance to natural theology should be obvious (although Wolfram, being an atheist, goes in a different direction).
  8. Some of our students and alumni have published things recently:
    • The One Lesson We Do Not Learn at Stanford (Hugh Zhang, The Stanford Review): “If we fail to develop the type of character needed to resist temptation when the stakes are so low, how can we be trusted to resist them when they are higher? What we do at Stanford is less harmful than the failings of the powerful. But it is only less harmful because our power is yet limited. When those in prominent positions act as we do, we rightly fear for society’s well being…. If we truly believe that the duty of a university is to prepare us for our responsibilities in the world beyond these idyllic palm trees, then the most important lesson we can learn here at Stanford is the age old lesson of integrity: the ability to do what is right even when no one is looking.”
    • Can I Help You? (Ryan Eberhardt, personal blog): “My friend Arjun committed suicide last September. I’m ‘over it’ in as much of a functional sense as possible, but I still think about him all the time. I miss him so much. He was among my best friends in high school…. I wish I could tell him about all the things I’m up to these days, brainstorm things for me to pursue after graduation, and ask for his advice. That will never happen again. But here’s the funny thing: I don’t know if I would be so eager to talk to him if he weren’t dead. Death has an interesting way of doing that.”
    • Reversing the Curse: A Spiritual Guide to Decoding Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN (Femi Olutade, Medium): “For those of you who are rooted in a faith tradition but can’t understand how a popular, ‘secular’ rap album can be a faithful witness to Jesus’s life and mission, Kendrick — and Jesus for that matter — may surprise you. For anyone who is still searching for how truth and justice emerge from the shadow of racism and oppression, I present to you the stories of hip hop and Judeo-Christian scriptures in the hope that you can find in them the kind of transformation that I have experienced.” Femi releasing this free online book bit by bit. Seth, who writes the forward is also one of our alumni.
    • Medical education systematically ignores the diversity of medical practice (Rebekah Fenton, KevinMD): “Medical education systematically ignores the diversity of medical practice during the classroom phase. Why do we only show rashes on Caucasian patients? Why do we only learn to recognize how men present with MIs? Why do we not address how obesity impacts exam findings? Medical education favors the white, thin, male patient. I’ve seen his chest X-ray, I’ve examined his abdomen, I know his symptoms, and I’ve seen his rashes.”

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 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.

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 132

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.

There will probably be no email next Friday – I’m going to be visiting family and won’t do much reading on the internet.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Not-So-White Evangelicalism: How Conservative Denominations Actually Fare Better on Diversity (Rebecca Randall, Christianity Today): “In the United States today, 1 in 3 self-identified evangelicals is nonwhite, according to a September study from PRRI. This rises to 4 in 10 evangelicals when measured by theological belief, according to a December study from LifeWay Research. Of those that are white, 1 in 3 attends a multiracial church, reported another study, published in June in the Review of Religious Research. Researchers Joseph Yi and Christopher Graziul dug into the more than 3,000 responses to the 2006 Faith Matters Survey, and found that more than a quarter of white evangelicals reported having a close Hispanic friend. Even more—about 2 out of 5—said they have a close friend that is African American… In other words, evangelicals are now more likely than mainline Protestants to attend multiracial congregations and to report African American and Hispanic friends.”
  2. The Zealous Faith Of Secularism (Mary Eberstadt, First Things): “Paganization as we now know it is driven by a new historical phenomenon: the development of a rival faith—a rival, secularist faith which sees Christianity as a competitor to be vanquished, rather than as an alternative set of beliefs to be tolerated in an open society. How do we know this? We know it in part because today’s secularist faith behaves in ways that only a faith can.”
  3. Is Trump a Blessing or Curse for Religious Conservatives? (Ross Douthat, David French, John Zmirak): “A year in, Trump has delivered on many of his specific promises, particularly where judicial appointments are concerned. At the same time, there’s a great deal of angst within religious circles about what his personal moral defects and his administration’s deep unpopularity mean for Christian cultural witness, and (among evangelicals, especially) whether the Trump era is setting up a kind of generational schism that will contribute to institutional Christianity’s crisis going forward.”
    • Incidentally, I find many people are unaware of (or unwilling to admit) how much Trump has accomplished. See The Show So Far by Tyler Cowen (Marginal Revolution), President Trump’s 2017 Report Card (A First Draft) by Scott Adams, and  A War Trump Won (Ross Douthat, New York Times). Love him or loathe him (apparently the only two options), admit that he’s been busy.
    • Related: Can Evangelicalism Survive Donald Trump and Roy Moore? (Tim Keller, The New Yorker): “Some time ago, the word ‘liberal’ was largely abandoned by Democrats in favor of the word ‘progressive.’ In some ways, the Democratic Party is more liberal now than when the older label was set aside, evidence that it is quite possible to change the name but keep the substance. The same thing may be happening to evangelicalism. The movement may abandon, or at least demote, the prominence of the name, yet be more committed to its theology and historic impulses than ever.” Recommended by an alumnus.
  4. Silicon Valley Is Turning Into Its Own Worst Fear (Ted Chiang, Buzzfeed): “Billionaires like Bill Gates and Elon Musk assume that a superintelligent AI will stop at nothing to achieve its goals because that’s the attitude they adopted.” This essay is built on a clever insight that it presses too far.
  5. What Putin Really Wants (Julia Ioffe, The Atlantic): “[Interfering with the US election] is a stunning escalation of hostilities for a troubled country whose elites still have only a tenuous grasp of American politics. And it is classically Putin, and classically Russian: using daring aggression to mask weakness, to avenge deep resentments, and, at all costs, to survive.” This is a long article.
  6. Why We Shouldn’t Let the #MeToo Movement Change History (David Greenberg, Politico): “Today we remember little more from that era than the taunt that greeted presidential candidate Grover Cleveland in 1884—‘Ma, Ma, Where’s my Pa?’—when he copped to fathering a child with an unwed woman. (He weathered the story, prompting the riposte from his supporters, ‘Gone to the White House, ha, ha, ha.’ Two years later, at age 49, he married a 21-year-old, Frances Folsom, in the White House.)” The author is a professor at Rutgers. This one comes recommended by a student and has a different focus than you probably assume from the title and the excerpt.
  7. Glowing Auras and ‘Black Money’: The Pentagon’s Mysterious U.F.O. Program (Helene Cooper, Ralph Blumenthal and Leslie Kean, New York Times):  “The program collected video and audio recordings of reported U.F.O. incidents, including footage from a Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet showing an aircraft surrounded by some kind of glowing aura traveling at high speed and rotating as it moves. The Navy pilots can be heard trying to understand what they are seeing. ‘There’s a whole fleet of them,’ one exclaims. Defense officials declined to release the location and date of the incident.”

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 The Spiritual Shape of Political Ideas (Joseph Bottum, The Weekly Standard): many modern political ideas are derived from Christian theological concepts. (first shared in volume 1)

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 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.
  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.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 127

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.

Also, next issue is volume 128, an important computer science number. I should do something to make it special. If you have an idea, let me know.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The Enduring Appeal of Creepy Christianity (David French, National Review): “The Bible doesn’t have a clear, specific prescription for every life challenge. But rather than seeking God prayerfully and with deep humility and reverence, we want answers, now. And thus we gravitate to those people who purport to offer more than the Bible.”
  2. China Tells Christians to Replace Images of Jesus with Communist President (Kate Shellnut, Christianity Today): “‘Many poor households have plunged into poverty because of illness in the family. Some resorted to believing in Jesus to cure their illnesses,’ the head of the government campaign told SCMP. ‘But we tried to tell them that getting ill is a physical thing, and that the people who can really help them are the Communist Party and General Secretary Xi.’”
  3. She led Trump to Christ: The rise of the televangelist who advises the White House (Julia Duin, Washington Post): This is an amazing profile. “White insists that lecturing Trump is not her job. ‘I don’t preach to anyone on behavior modification,’ she says. ‘There are things I can speak, but that’s not anyone’s business what I say. Why would I as a pastor expose that relationship? Everyone needs a safe place in life, and pastors can be people’s safe place. That’s why I have this relationship, because I don’t talk about it.’”
    • Speaking of Trump’s evangelical advisors… What Trump’s Evangelical Advisers Took Out of Egypt (Jayson Casper, Christianity Today): “Rosenberg thanked [Egyptian President] Sisi for rescuing Egypt and its Christians from the Muslim Brotherhood. He commended the president for reaching out to Jews and to Roman Catholics. ‘But there is one group I don’t see: evangelicals,’ he told Sisi. ‘It’s not your fault; probably we haven’t asked. But would you like us to bring a delegation of leaders to come and visit you?’”
  4. A Harvest Of Witnesses (William Mumma, First Things): “The fight for religious liberty is not a sub-category of the electoral contest between Republicans and Democrats. It is a struggle over whether the state has the authority to banish the greatest rival to temporal power that exists. It is the age-old contest between the King and the Church, between Caesar and the Truth. It is a contest over who gets to decide: ‘What is truth?’” The piece is a little partisan, but makes an important point.
  5. The Politicization of Motherhood (James Taranto, Wall Street Journal): “The premise of Ms. Komisar’s book—backed by research in psychology, neuroscience and epigenetics—is that ‘mothers are biologically necessary for babies,’ and not only for the obvious reasons of pregnancy and birth. ‘Babies are much more neurologically fragile than we’ve ever understood,’ Ms. Komisar says.”
  6. Stanford Students Pretend to Support Free Speech, Stumble at Final Hurdle (Stanford Review, Sam Wolfe): “…at 8:40 p.m., 20 minutes after he began his talk, over 150 members of the crowd ostensibly gathered to hear him speak promptly stood up and left, while Arabic music blared from Bluetooth speakers concealed around the hall. The students, planted by SAI, had arrived at the event early to clog up the venue. As a result, dozens of students, many of whom were presumably interested in starting a genuine dialogue with Spencer about his views and rebuffing him, were turned away. I myself arrived at about 7:20 for an event scheduled to begin an hour later, and was one of the last people admitted… imagine if they had, instead of occupying the seats and subsequently vacating them, simply blocked others from entering, and left the seats unfilled that way. The result would have been the same, the intention largely the same, and their actions rightly condemned. This was better than violence, yes, better than shouting Spencer down. But the protest was a deliberate attempt to block students from engaging with Spencer in any capacity.”
  7. Police: ‘Every 16-year-old girl in Fresno’ has been targeted by sex trade recruiters (Rory Appleton, Fresno Bee): the entire story is horrifying. This segment caught my eye: “It is rare for boys to be trafficked, Chastain said, but it does happen. It is even more difficult for detectives to discover these victims because it is almost always done in total secrecy, as even criminal gangs believe trafficking boys goes too far.” The instinct to consider yourself an okay person because at least you don’t do _______ is present even in very wicked people.
  8. Solar eclipse of 1207 BC helps to date pharaohs (Colin Humphreys and Graeme Waddington, Astronomy and Geophysics): “However, a plausible alternative meaning [to the sun and moon standing still in Joshua 10] is that the Sun and Moon stopped doing what they normally do: they stopped shining.” File under speculative – I am not convinced. If true, however, this would be evidence for the later date of the Exodus (13th century vs 15th century). The authors have been using astronomy to study the Bible for some time (see, for example, The Date of the Crucifixion written back in 1985).

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’re going back to an article first shared in volume 95, the long and amazing Book Review: Seeing Like A State (Scott Alexander, Slate Star Codex): “Peasants didn’t like permanent surnames. Their own system was quite reasonable for them: John the baker was John Baker, John the blacksmith was John Smith, John who lived under the hill was John Underhill, John who was really short was John Short. The same person might be John Smith and John Underhill in different contexts, where his status as a blacksmith or place of origin was more important. But the government insisted on giving everyone a single permanent name, unique for the village, and tracking who was in the same family as whom. Resistance was intense.”

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 126

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. For elites, politics is driven by ideology. For voters, it’s not.  (Ezra Klein, Vox): “In theory, ideology comes first and party comes second. We decide whether we’re for single-payer health care, or same-sex marriage, or abortion restriction, and then we choose the party that most closely fits our ideas. You’re a liberal and so you become a Democrat; you’re a conservative and so you become a Republican. The truth, it seems, is closer to the reverse….”
    • I found the above interesting to read in conjunction with this article – it’s on the long side:  The Primal Scream of Identity Politics (Mary Eberstadt, The Weekly Standard): “Isn’t it suggestive that the earliest collective articulation of identity politics came from the community that was first to suffer from the accelerated fraying of family ties, a harbinger of what came next for all? Identity politics cannot be understood apart from the preceding and concomitant social fact of family implosion.”
    • Also relevant: Conservatives, Don’t Dismiss the Sexual Misconduct Claims Against Roy Moore (David French, National Review): “Each day seems to bring a new story of yet another powerful person facing a string of accusations. While there is a danger of a witch hunt, the presence of multiple claims of misconduct from multiple sources should always make us pause — regardless of whether the alleged abuser comes from the Left or the Right. It’s a moral imperative that we not determine the veracity of the allegations by the ideology of the accused.” Roy Moore has been previously mentioned in volumes 121 and 31.
  2. Fires Aren’t the Only Threat to the California Dream (Enrico Moretti, NY Times): “Over the past two years, San Francisco County added 38,000 jobs, reaching its highest employment level ever. Yet only 4,500 new housing units were permitted. For all those new families knocking on San Francisco doors, new units are available for less than 12 percent of them. The numbers for Silicon Valley are even worse. This is why the rents skyrocket. The problem is largely self-inflicted: the region has some of the country’s slowest, most political and cumbersome housing approval processes and most stringent land-use restrictions.” The author is an economics prof at UC Berkeley.
  3. Sculpted By Evolution (David Schmitt, Psychology Today): “…empirical evidence shows that most sex differences are conspicuously larger in cultures with more egalitarian gender roles—as in Scandinavia…. Extremes of sexual freedom beget larger psychological sex differences. Or as explained by Israeli psychologists Shalom Schwartz and Tammy Rubel-Lifshitz, it may be that having fewer gendered restrictions in a culture allows ‘both sexes to pursue more freely the values they inherently care about more.’” The author was mentioned back in volume 113 in connection with the Google gender memo.
  4. Liberal Tradition, Yes; Liberal Ideology, No (R.R. Reno, First Things): this is long, very Catholic, and veers into occasional brilliance. Recommended if that description appeals to you. “Liberalism, properly understood, is not a creed; it is a tradition, a set of institutions, and a habit of mind.”
  5. Something Is Wrong On The Internet (James Bridle, Medium): “…I don’t even have kids and right now I just want to burn the whole thing down. Someone or something or some combination of people and things is using YouTube to systematically frighten, traumatise, and abuse children, automatically and at scale, and it forces me to question my own beliefs about the internet, at every level.” This is really interesting.
  6. John Walton and Israel’s Conquest of Canaan: Did God Really Command Genocide? (Spoiler Alert: No, he didn’t..and the Israelites didn’t claim he did to justify mass killing either) (Joel Anderson, personal blog):  “if you object to what is being described in the book of Joshua, that’s like objecting to the Allies banning Nazism and Nazi symbols in Germany, or to the United States trying to get rid of the Taliban who had inflicted horrendous atrocities on the innocent Afghani people. But who in their right mind would do that?”
  7. Are Christians Supposed To Be Communists? (David Bentley Hart, New York Times): “There were no political ideologies in the ancient world, no abstract programs for the reconstitution of society. But if not a political movement, the church was a kind of polity, and the form of life it assumed was not merely a practical strategy for survival, but rather the embodiment of its highest spiritual ideals. Its ‘communism’ was hardly incidental to the faith.” This is ultimately a meditation on the Greek word koinonia. Hart leaves out some important parts of the New Testament witness (such as 1 Tim 6:17-18 and Acts 5:4) and thereby veers from the truth a little. Still, anytime someone gets a theological op-ed published in the NYT I’m impressed.

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 On Political Correctness (William Deresiewicz, The American Scholar): a long and thoughtful article. “Selective private colleges have become religious schools. The religion in question is not Methodism or Catholicism but an extreme version of the belief system of the liberal elite: the liberal professional, managerial, and creative classes, which provide a large majority of students enrolled at such places and an even larger majority of faculty and administrators who work at them. To attend those institutions is to be socialized, and not infrequently, indoctrinated into that religion…. I say this, by the way, as an atheist, a democratic socialist, a native northeasterner, a person who believes that colleges should not have sports teams in the first place—and in case it isn’t obvious by now, a card-carrying member of the liberal elite.” (first shared in volume 92)

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.