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.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 125

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. In my sermon this week I alluded to the global impact of the Protestant Reformation and mentioned two outcomes you might have found surprising – the spread of democracy and the rise of science. To learn more about the first, check out Robert Woodberry’s article The Missionary Roots of Liberal Democracy, for the second go inspect Peter Harrison’s book The Bible, Protestantism, and the Rise of Natural Science. For similarly edifying academic reads, check the list of resources at The Gospel and Green Library.
  2. Tuesday was the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. I found two unexpectedly similar responses to it:
    • From a Protestant: Which Henry Caused The Reformation (Carl Trueman, First Things): “But if we are truly to understand the problems the church faces in today’s world, and respond appropriately to them, we need to move beyond the blame game, and beyond seeing the matter in purely theological or ideological terms. It was the motor car, not Luther nor Calvin, that made the church just one more consumer choice. And therein lies the problem.”
    • From a Catholic: Who Won The Reformation? (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “First, [the dominant cultural narrative] goes, Protestantism replaced the authority of the church with the authority of the Bible. Then, once it became clear that nobody could agree on what the Bible meant, the authority of conscience became pre-eminent — and from there we entered naturally (if with some bloody resistance from various reactionary forces) into the age of liberty, democracy and human rights.”
  3. How the prosperity gospel is sparking a major change in predominantly Catholic Brazil (Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Washington Post): “Brazil, which has the most Catholics of any country in the world, is undergoing religious debates similar to those sparked in 1517 by a fiery German preacher named Martin Luther — over church riches and corruption, political power, and the proper way to read the Bible. By 2030, Catholics, now the religious majority in Brazil, are projected to become a religious minority.” Recommended.
  4. Across Myanmar, Denial of Ethnic Cleansing and Loathing of Rohingya (Hannah Beech, New York Times): “‘We do something that we call educating the people,’ said U Pe Myint, the nation’s information minister. He acknowledged, ‘It looks rather like indoctrination, like in an authoritarian or totalitarian state.’” This is insane. Also, reading this may cause you to revise your opinion of the intrinsically peaceful nature of Buddhism and the significance of the Nobel Peace Prize.
  5. Jobs Are A Cost, Not A Benefit (Tim Worstall, Forbes): “It is simply nonsense that we should prefer using the labour of more people to achieve a goal than using less labour to achieve the same goal. Absolute, arrant, nonsense…. Labour is, after all, the sweat of the brow and the breaking of the back for those who have to do it: people who would probably prefer to be enjoying a little more of that work life balance and some leisure with loved ones if they didn’t have to be climbing windmills in the middle of a North Sea gale.” Recommended by an alumnus.
  6. ‘I Am a Man With Down Syndrome and My Life Is Worth Living’ (Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic): “Parents who carry a fetus with Down syndrome to term, or who are conflicted about whether or not to do so, will almost certainly speak with a medical professional, and perhaps with a counselor or religious adviser. But they are unlikely to hear from an adult with Down syndrome—and perhaps unaware that many are loving their lives, bringing joy to others, and giving themselves to their communities.”
  7. Is Atheism Irrational? (Kelly J. Clark, Big Questions Online): “According to a culturally influential narrative, religious beliefs are irrational because they are caused by unreliable cognitive mechanisms, whereas atheism is rational because it is the product of rational reflection on true beliefs. We have debunked a portion of the narrative: atheism, at least in some cases, is correlated with and mediated by a cognitive deficit.”
  8. Prostitution Reduces Rape (Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution): Huh. I find it interesting that even though prostitution is condemned throughout the Bible, it was not actually outlawed in Old Testament Israel except in certain specific circumstances. In light of this research, that makes a lot of sense. See http://www.openbible.info/topics/prostitution to skim some of the key Bible verses.

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 some thoughts about slavery and the Bible – Does The Bible Support Slavery? (a lecture given by the warden of Tyndale House at Cambridge University, the link is to the video with notes) and Does God Condone Slavery In The Bible? (Part One – Old Testament) and also Part Two – New Testament (longer pieces from Glenn Miller at Christian Thinktank). All three are quite helpful. (first shared in volume 76)

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 123

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. Meet The “Young Saints” Of Bethel Who Go To College To Perform Miracles (Molly Hensley-Clancy, Buzzfeed): “Behind Bethel’s rise is the enormous talent and ambition of the church’s magnetizing leaders, Bill Johnson and Kris Vallotton, who cofounded BSSM in 1998. Depending on who you ask, Vallotton and Johnson are geniuses, false prophets, or both. What’s undeniable is that with Vallotton at his side, Johnson, a fifth-generation pastor, has transformed a small, unremarkable local church into what Christianity Today called ‘a hub of a global revival movement.’” Fair and interesting – much better than other stories I have seen. I know a lot about Bethel and I learned several things from this piece.
  2. A Letter to Jamie Dimon (and anyone else still struggling to understand cryptocurrencies) (Adam Ludwin, company blog): this is a genuinely helpful explanation of what Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are good for. “They’re a new model for creating, financing, and operating software services in a way that is decentralized top-to-bottom. That doesn’t make them better or worse than existing software models or the corporate entities that create them. As we’ll see later, there are major trade-offs. What we can say is simply that they are radically different from software as we know it today and radically different from the forms of organization we are used to.”
  3. Meeting Middle East Christians is where Western stereotypes go to die (John Allen, Crux): “Spending time among the Christians of the Middle East is always an edifying experience, but for Westerners it packs a special punch. That’s because the Christian population of this perennially troubled region often is where Western stereotypes about the Middle East go to die.” The more you follow global news the more surprising you will consider the author’s claims to be.
  4. Chinese House Church Leaders and Toddler Arrested After Singing in Public Park (Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra, Christianity Today): “Other provinces have been coming down especially hard on religious education for children. In Zhejiang province—where hundreds of crosses were torn off churches over the past several years—elementary and middle school children weren’t allowed to attend church or Sunday school this summer.”
  5. 4 Specific Things You Lose When You Leave Christianity (Kristi Harrison, Cracked) – this is well-written and heartbreaking. “I have no idea why anyone thinks church is boring. In my experience, church was not a slog through old songs, tired rituals, or heavy-handed sermons; it was an addictive, engaging experience where I felt like I had a seat at the table with the creator of the Universe.”
  6. Science v. Science+ (David Heddle, personal blog): “So scientifically, at least, science and faith are not incompatible–unless you devise a way to measure/detect the incompatibility. I have proposed two experiments: 1. I’ll give you ten papers from tier-1 peer-reviewed journals. Five from atheists, five from theists, with the names redacted. Detect the incompatibility and accurately separate the papers into the two groups. 2. Design an experiment that can be done by an atheistic scientist and not a theistic scientist.” The author is a physics professor at Christopher Newport University.
  7. Freedom not to choose is a faith worth believing in (David Mitchell, The Guardian):  “I always say I’m agnostic because I’d like there to be a God – a nice liberal one – but I can’t be sure there is and the idea of regular religious observance unnerves me because it would be unusual in my peer group. Not a very well thought-through philosophy, I know. But in the absence of family or societal pressures, in a context of almost complete religious freedom, many of us rely on similar back-of-an-envelope answers to eternal questions, because adopting the answers thousands of full-time ponderers have come up with over thousands of years feels like squandering that freedom.” David Mitchell is a British comedian/public intellectual (sort of) – if you’re unfamiliar with him, watch some clips from the British game show Would I Lie To You? A good first clip is David Mitchell’s Code For Noteworthiness.

Things Glen Found Entertaining/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 world will only get weirder (Steven Coast, personal blog): “We fixed all the main reasons aircraft crash a long time ago. Sometimes a long, long time ago. So, we are left with the less and less probable events.” The piece is a few years old so the examples are dated, but it remains very intriguing. (first shared in volume 67)

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 120

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. Divine To Divided: How Occupy Central Split Hong Kong’s Christian Leaders (Jayson Albano, Marta Colombo And Maria Cristhin Kuiper, South China Morning Post): “Once on the street, he could see clearly. He could see the crowds forming, and he could see the mounting ranks of riot police. And when he saw those same policemen firing tear gas into the assembled masses one thing became clear in his mind: that his faith in God demanded he act.”
  2. The oldest human lived to 122. Why no person will likely break her record. (Brian Resnick, Vox): “The authors propose this is a built-in ‘natural limit’ to our longevity, an ‘inadvertent byproduct’ of our biology. And to increase the natural limit we’d need to fundamentally alter our genetics.”
    • This is based on a very readable piece in Nature Evidence for a limit to human lifespan (Xiao Dong, Brandon Milholland & Jan Vijg, Nature).
    • This finding reminds me of Genesis 6:3, “Then the Lord said, ‘My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.’”
  3. I used to support legalizing all drugs. Then the opioid epidemic happened. (German Lopez, Vox): “By the time I began as a drug policy reporter in 2010, I was all in on legalizing every drug, from marijuana to heroin and cocaine. It all seemed so obvious to me. Prohibition had failed…. Then I began reporting on the opioid epidemic.” FYI: this article is long: only read the first two sections unless you’re really into the subject.
  4. Authors’ note: Deep neural networks are more accurate than humans at detecting sexual orientation from facial images (Michal Kosinski and Yilun Wang, self-published on Google Docs): this note by two Stanford researchers to explain their recent paper is extremely interesting. “We used widely available off-the-shelf tools, publicly available data, and standard methods well known to computer vision practitioners. We did not create a privacy-invading tool, but rather showed that basic and widely used methods pose serious privacy threats.”
  5. I called Hugh Hefner a pimp, he threatened to sue. But that’s what he was. (Suzanne Moore, The Guardian): “But this man is still being celebrated by people who should know better. You can dress it up with talk of glamour and bunny ears and fishnets, you can talk about his contribution to gonzo journalism, you can contextualise his drive to free up sex as part of the sexual revolution. But strip it all back and he was a man who bought and sold women to other men.”
    • Conceptually related: STD rates hit another record high, with California near the top (Soumya Karlamangla, LA Times): “More than a quarter-million Californians were infected with either syphilis, chlamydia or gonorrhea last year, which constitutes a 40% jump compared with five years ago, state officials said.” I am often struck by the fact that STDs would effectively disappear in one generation if people obeyed the Bible.
    • Ditto: Pastoring Singles in a Sex-Crazed, Gender-Confused World (Juan Sanchez, Lifeway): “Celibate singleness is a gift from God with a purpose.” This one isn’t just for pastors – recommended to all singles.
  6. Colin Kaepernick vs. Tim Tebow: A tale of two Christians on their knees (Michael Frost, Washington Post): “They’re both Christian football players, and they’re both known for kneeling on the field, although for very different reasons. One grew up the son of Baptist missionaries to the Philippines. The other was baptized Methodist, confirmed Lutheran, and attended a Baptist church during college. Both have made a public display of their faith. Both are prayerful and devout.” It’s a clever piece, although you should also read the gentle criticism of it at Kaepernick vs. Tebow? Washington Post passes along flawed take on a crucial heresy (Terry Mattingly, GetReligion)
    • Interestingly, Kaepernick began kneeling after a meeting with a veteran who told him that merely sitting was direspectful. Kaepernick Meets With Veteran Nate Boyer, Then Kneels During Anthem (Under the Radar) (an article I found after an alumnus shared it on twitter this week – thanks, Hannah!)
    • The Abbie Hoffman of the Right: Donald Trump (David Brooks, New York Times): “The members of the educated class saw this past weekend’s N.F.L. fracas as a fight over racism. They felt mobilized and unified in that fight and full of righteous energy. Members of the working class saw the fracas as a fight about American identity. They saw Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin try to dissuade Alejandro Villanueva, a three-time combat veteran, from celebrating the flag he risked his life for. Members of this class also felt mobilized, unified and full of righteous energy.”
  7. A lot of you seemed to like the graphic I used in this week’s sermon. Here’s a thumbnail, you can download a high-res version from the source at Visual Theology: The Books of the Bible (Tim Challies).
Books of the Bible – Periodic Table

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 Every Place Has Detractors. Consider Where They’re Coming From.(Megan McCardle, Bloomerg View): “There is grave danger in judging a neighborhood, or a culture, by the accounts of those who chose to leave it. Those people are least likely to appreciate the good things about where they came from, and the most likely to dwell on its less attractive qualities.” Bear this in mind when listening to conversion testimonies (both secular and religious). (first shared in volume 62)

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 116

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 flooding in Houston is crazy, and I say this as someone who grew up facing hurricanes in Louisiana on a regular basis. If you want to help, Convoy of Hope is our recommended disaster-relief organization. You can learn more about what they’re doing at Hurricane Harvey Response. So far they’ve served over forty thousand people. More hurricane reading:
    • All the rain that Hurricane Harvey dumped on Texas and Louisiana, in one massive water drop (Javier Zarracina & Brian Resnick, Vox): “…over six days, 27 trillion gallons of water fell over Texas…. That’s one million gallons of water for nearly every person who lives in Texas.” The infographic is stunning.
    • Houston flooding in historical perspective: no, zoning would not have stopped Harvey (Phil Magness, personal blog): “the very notion that Houston is a giant concrete-laden water retention pond is itself a pernicious myth peddled by unscrupulous urban planning activists and media outlets. In total acres, Houston has more parkland and green space than any other large city in America and ranks second overall to San Diego in park acreage per capita.” The author is an economic historian.
    • The Joel Osteen Fiasco Says A Lot About American Christianity (Laura Turner, Buzzfeed): I thought this article was mostly fair and was interesting throughout. This bit towards the end rang true to me: “[Lakewood Church spokesman Doug] Iloff offered a different version of events than the one shared by critics on social media. The church was never locked,’ he told me. ‘The people who showed up were let in; it’s just that very few people came.’ This, he says, was due to flooding around the building and the surrounding highways. And church leaders didn’t initially offer Lakewood as a shelter in part out of concern that it would flood during the weekend’s heaviest rains, Iloff said. ‘If we had let people in and that water had flooded, you would be writing a whole different story now.’” Related: Flood him with criticism: Let him who is without sin cast the first stone at Joel Osteen and his church (Bobby Ross, Jr, GetReligion), Was Joel Osteen’s Houston ‘Megachurch’ Affected By Hurricane Harvey? (Snopes). Based on the evidence I’ve seen, Lakewood Church not only acted defensibly but actually acted wisely and helpfully, which makes Here’s why people hate Joel Osteen (Kate Bowler, Washington Post) timely.
    • Hurricanes, Climate and the Capitalist Offset (Bret Stephens, NY Times): “Harvey truly is an astonishing storm, the likes of which few people can easily remember. Then again, as meteorologist Philip Klotzbach points out, it’s also only one of four Category 4 or 5 hurricanes to make landfall in the United States since 1970. By contrast, more than twice as many such storms made landfall between 1922 and 1969.” I did not know that.
  2. 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.” I was reminded of this by a conversation with an alumnus. The author is a philosophy professor at Boston College.
  3. A Beating In Berkeley (Matt Labash, Weekly Standard): “One of them, Will Johnson, announces that he is a black American and a Christian. ‘This is not a neo-Nazi, white supremacist rally,’ he says. ‘I don’t know where they got that from. I actually called Nancy Pelosi’s office and asked her to change that. There’s no way I am a white supremacist.’” An amazing article. Well worth reading.
  4. Some Thoughts and Advice for Our Students and All Students (an open letter from some Harvard, Yale and Princeton professors): “Thinking for yourself means questioning dominant ideas even when others insist on their being treated as unquestionable. It means deciding what one believes not by conforming to fashionable opinions, but by taking the trouble to learn and honestly consider the strongest arguments to be advanced on both or all sides of questions—including arguments for positions that others revile and want to stigmatize and against positions others seek to immunize from critical scrutiny.” Interestingly, at least four of the signatories (nearly 20%) are people who have previously made an appearance in these emails.
  5. Wait, Do People Actually Know Just How Evil This Man Is? (Nathan J. Robinson, Current Affairs): “And I am worried that even those who detest Trump and are appalled by this pardon do not entirely appreciate the depth of Arpaio’s evil, or understand quite how indefensible what Donald Trump just has done is. Frankly I think even Trump may not fully realize the extent of the wrongdoing that he has just signaled his approval of.” Depressing reading.
  6. The Premium Mediocre Life of Maya Millennial (Venkatesh Rao, Ribbonfarm): “Premium mediocre is the finest bottle of wine at Olive Garden. Premium mediocre is cupcakes and froyo. Premium mediocre is ‘truffle’ oil on anything (no actual truffles are harmed in the making of ‘truffle’ oil), and extra-leg-room seats in Economy. Premium mediocre is cruise ships, artisan pizza, Game of Thrones, and The Bellagio. Premium mediocre is food that Instagrams better than it tastes…. premium mediocrity is creating an aura of exclusivity without actually excluding anyone.” The article is far too long. Read the first few paragraphs and you’ll get the idea.
  7. My IRB Nightmare (Scott Alexander, Slate Star Codex): “We, as the patient’s doctors, would make the diagnosis and write it down on the chart. But we (as study investigators) needed a full signed consent form before we were allowed to access the diagnosis we had just made.” This is simultaneously disturbing and entertaining, and so is the follow-up post.
  8. The Cost of Running Harvard (Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution): I assume broadly similar statistics are true of Stanford.

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 Weight of Glory (C.S. Lewis): originally preached as a sermon and then printed in a theology magazine. Related: see the C. S. Lewis Doodle YouTube channel – it’s really good! (first shared in volume 36)

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 108

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. Should Tyler Cowen Believe In God? (Ross Douthat, NYT): this is delightful. “There: I’ve probably blasphemed, weakened my Catholic credentials, endangered my soul, insulted my religious brethren, picked pointless fights with Muslims and Calvinists, and betrayed a juvenile understanding of statistics.”
  2. Desperation and Service in the Bail Industry (Joshua Page, Contexts): “…industry advocates confidently assert that bail companies and agents are service providers helping needy people. As my research shows, this claim is based in reality. But it is a constructed reality. Political and legal decisions make the services necessary in the first place.”
  3. “High” Achievers? Cannabis Access and Academic Performance (Olivier Marie & Ulf Zölitz, The Review of Economic Studies): The authors studied “an exceptional policy introduced in the city of Maastricht in the Netherlands that discriminated access via licensed cannabis shops based on an individual’s nationality…. We find that the academic performance of students who are no longer legally permitted to buy cannabis substantially increases.” In other news, water is wet. You can find a PDF of the full paper at SSRN)
  4. The Case Against Cardinal Pell (Julia Yost, First Things): this is fascinating and distressing and full of all sorts of indirectly-related asides, such as “the McMartin Preschool case generated 321 charges from forty-one children. We now know that every charge was a lie and every child was a liar. Yet today, with the children now well into their thirties, many of them still insist that their charges were true.”
  5. Stranger In A Strange Land (Francis J. Beckwith, Inside Higher Ed): “A little over four years ago, the University of Colorado at Boulder began a three-year pilot program that I believe has no precedent in American higher education. With the help of private donors and the support of the university’s board, president and chancellor, the school created the position of Visiting Scholar of Conservative Thought and Policy.”
  6. I Am Not a ‘Paki,’ Not a Terrorist. I Am Nobody but Myself. (Omar Aziz, NY Times): recommended by a student. “Here is the basic conundrum the child of immigrants faces as he goes through school. Until now, he has safely assumed the identity provided to him by his family, but as he encounters innocent white faces, he is confronted with an interrogation about who he really is.”
  7. Would Your Dog Eat You if You Died? Get the Facts. (Erika Engelhaupt, National Geographic): “There’s no way to guarantee that your pet won’t eat you if you die, apart from not having any pets. Even hamsters and birds have been known to scavenge on occasion.” Hamsters? Really? Who has hamsters roaming freely through their house?

Things Glen Found Amusing

Something Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight a link I shared before which is still worth your consideration. This week we have  The Land of We All (Richard Mitchell, The Gift of Fire): this essay teases out the implications of this insight: “Thinking can not be done corporately. Nations and committees can’t think. That is not only because they have no brains, but because they have no selves, no centers, no souls, if you like. Millions and millions of persons may hold the same thought, or conviction or suspicion, but each and every person of those millions must hold it all alone.” Warning: the formatting is horrid. It is worth reading anyway. Either use the Readability bookmarklet, an app like Pocket, or just cut and paste it into a text document on your computer. (first shared in volume 2)

Why Do You Send This Email?

In the time of King David, the tribe of Issachar produced shrewd warriors “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chron 12:32). In a similar way, we need to become wise people whose faith interacts with the world. I pray this email gives you greater insight, so that you may continue the tradition of Issachar.

Disclaimer

Chi Alpha is not a partisan organization. To paraphrase another minister: we are not about the donkey’s agenda and we are not about the elephant’s agenda – we are about the Lamb’s agenda. Having said that, I read widely (in part because I believe we should aspire to pass the ideological Turing test and in part because I do not believe I can fairly say “I agree” or “I disagree” until I can say “I understand”) and may at times share articles that have a strong partisan bias simply because I find the article stimulating. The upshot: you should not assume I agree with everything an author says in an article I mention, much less things the author has said in other articles (although if I strongly disagree with something in the article I’ll usually mention it).

Also, remember that I’m not reporting news – I’m giving you a selection of things I found interesting. There’s a lot happening in the world that’s not making an appearance here because I haven’t found stimulating articles written about it.

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