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 115

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 Most Shortsighted Attack on Free Speech in Modern U.S. History (Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic): “Under a legal regime where hate speech was not considered free speech, Trump and Sessions could likely punish words used by members of Antifa and Black Lives Matter. Do you think he’d police their speech more or less vigorously than white supremacists?”
  2. Everyone’s Suspicious of Atheists — Even Other Atheists (Thomas MacMillan, NY Mag): “According to a new study published last week in Nature, people all over the world connect immorality with atheism. In fact, the moral prejudice against atheists is so strong that it holds even in countries like the Netherlands, where most people aren’t religious. Even atheists themselves, according to the study, are inclined to see nonbelievers as more wicked than the faithful.” The Nature paper is Global evidence of extreme intuitive moral prejudice against atheists.
  3. I Won’t Make Jesus Bow Down to Xi Jinping (Derek Lam, New York Times): “Of Hong Kong’s six major religions, five are already firmly under the control of the Chinese Communist Party. Judging by recent events, the party is very close to completing its mission of bringing Christianity under its thumb.”
  4. The Drive For Perfect Children Gets A Little Scary (Tyler Cowen, Bloomberg View): “If you could directly alter your kids’ genetic profile, what would you want? It’s hard to know how the social debate would turn out after years of back and forth, but I was dismayed to read one recent research paper by psychologists Rachel M. Latham and Sophie von Stumm. The descriptive title of that work, based on survey evidence, is ‘Mothers want extraversion over conscientiousness or intelligence for their children.’ Upon reflection, maybe that isn’t so surprising, because parents presumably want children who are fun to spend time with.”
  5. Mathematical mystery of ancient Babylonian clay tablet solved (Phys.org): “Plimpton 322 predates Hipparchus by more than 1000 years,” says Dr Wildberger. “It opens up new possibilities not just for modern mathematics research, but also for mathematics education. With Plimpton 322 we see a simpler, more accurate trigonometry that has clear advantages over our own.” The academic paper is Plimpton 322 is Babylonian exact sexagesimal trigonometry (Historia Mathematica). Another reminder that our ancestors were pretty clever.
  6. Robert E. Lee opposed Confederate monuments (Lisa Desjardins, PBS NewsHour):  “But while he was alive, Lee stressed his belief that the country should move past the war. He swore allegiance to the Union and publicly decried southern separatism, whether militant or symbolic.”
  7. This Is How Sexism Works in Silicon Valley  My lawsuit failed. Others won’t. (Ellan Pao, The Cut): “Before suing, I’d consulted other women who had sued big, powerful companies over harassment and discrimination, and they all gave me pretty much the same advice: ‘Don’t do it.’ One woman told me, ‘It’s a complete mismatch of resources. They don’t fight fair. Even if you win, it will destroy your reputation.’”
  8. James Kennedy Ministries Sues SPLC over Hate Map (Kate Shellnut, Christianity Today): see also Politico’s June article Has a Civil Rights Stalwart Lost Its Way? (short answer: yes, yes it has)

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 No Food Is Healthy. Not Even Kale. (Michael Ruhlman, Washington Post). People can be healthy. Food can be nutritious. This is a wonderful essay about how we misuse language to our detriment. If you’re surprised I included this, I believe that our culture has a quasi-religious relationship to health and to food, and I also believe that the use of language is profoundly moral and that our culture is a linguistic mess (to which I know of no finer guide than The Underground Grammarian). (first shared in volume 33)

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 112

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. ‘God’s ACLU’ Seeks Freedom For The Faithful (Tunku Varadarajan, Wall Street Journal): “The progressive or liberal approach is to equate free exercise of religion with the freedom to worship and to deny that it has anything to do with how a person organizes his life. The Becket Fund and others assert that most religions have complete codes governing not only worship but other aspects of conduct. This comprehensive Way of Life—which leads a devoutly Christian baker to decline to decorate a cake for a same-sex wedding, for instance—commands much more from believers than progressives will allow.” Becket is Chi Alpha’s pro bono legal team. The author is a fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution.
  2. For Culturally Illiterate Science Reporters, Canaanite DNA Yields Occasion to Slap Bible Around (David Klinghoffer, Evolution News): Did you see all those headlines suggesting that a DNA study proved the Biblical accounts wrong? Yeah… don’t lose any sleep over that. When someone tells you that the Bible is wrong, don’t assume they actually know what the Bible says. See also a longer and more reflective post from an OT scholar Breaking News: Science Disproves The Bible (but I really like the short and punchy one that’s the main link).
  3. The ‘Prophets’ and ‘Apostles’ Leading the Quiet Revolution in American Religion (Bob Smietana, Christianity Today): “It’s very spontaneous. We went to a conference where a number of apostles were speaking and Bill Johnson was doing a Bible teaching. He had probably talked 20 or 30 minutes, and you could feel the restlessness in the room. He said, ‘I know you are just waiting for me to stop preaching because you want the power. But just hang with me here.’ People weren’t there to listen to him. What they wanted was for him to lay hands on them.” Interesting read that is not entirely fair but also fairly insightful. 
  4. Venezuela’s Unprecedented Collapse (Ricardo Hausmann, Project Syndicate). “Measured in the cheapest available calorie, the minimum wage declined from 52,854 calories per day to just 7,005 during the same period, a decline of 86.7% and insufficient to feed a family of five, assuming that all the income is spent to buy the cheapest calorie.” The author is a Harvard professor and former Venezuelan official.
  5. Why The Scariest Nuclear Threat May Be Coming From Inside The White House (Michael Lewis, Vanity Fair): “The United States government might be the most complicated organization on the face of the earth. Two million federal employees take orders from 4,000 political appointees. Dysfunction is baked into the structure of the thing: the subordinates know that their bosses will be replaced every four or eight years, and that the direction of their enterprises might change overnight—with an election or a war or some other political event.” Fascinating and frightening, even once you factor in the author’s hostility to the Trump administration.
  6. Marriage Matters (W. Bradford Willcox, City Journal): “…young adults who follow three steps—getting at least a high school degree, then working full-time, and then marrying before having any children, in that order—are very unlikely to become poor.” The author is a sociologist at UVA.
  7. From the Enlightenment to the Dark Ages: How “new atheism” slid into the alt-right (Phil Torres, Salon): “As a philosopher — someone who cares deeply about intellectual honesty, verifiable evidence, critical thinking and moral thoughtfulness — I now find myself in direct opposition with many new atheist leaders. That is, I see my own advocacy for science, critical thought and basic morality as standing in direct opposition to their positions.”

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 Reading The Whole Bible in 2016: A FAQ (Gospel Coalition, Justin Taylor). How much time each day would it take you to read the entire Bible in a year? “There are about 775,000 words in the Bible. Divided by 365, that’s 2,123 words a day. The average person reads 200 to 250 words per minute. So 2,123 words/day divided by 225 words/minute equals 9.4 minutes a day.” This article is full of good advice for what could be the best commitment you make all year. Do it! (first shared in volume 31 and useful for any year)

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 101

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 Curious Rise Of The ‘White Left” As A Chinese Internet Insult (Chenchen Zhang, Open Democracy): “If you look at any thread about Trump, Islam or immigration on a Chinese social media platform these days, it’s impossible to avoid encountering the term baizuo (白左), or literally, the ‘white left’…. Criticisms of the ‘white left’ against the background of the European refugee crisis fit especially well with the ‘rising China’ versus ‘Europe in decline’ narrative.”
  2. The True Heartbreak Of Reading The Bible (Rebecca McLaughlin, Veritas): “When we humans make metaphors, we’re noticing connections.  Love is a sickness. Life is a marathon. Parents can be helicopters.  But if the message of the Bible is true – if there is a God who created the universe  – then biblical metaphors are different. God did not notice how human fathers love their children and decide to call himself our Father (e.g. Isaiah 63:16, Matthew 6:9).  Rather, God created fatherhood, so that the best of human fathers could give us some small glimpse of how he loves us.”
  3. Beauty sleep is a real thing, research shows (Michelle Roberts, BBC): “Beauty sleep is a real thing, according to researchers who have shown that people who miss out on sleep do appear less attractive to others. A couple of bad nights is enough to make a person look “significantly” more ugly, their sleep experiments suggest.” Bad news for Stanford students.
  4. Way More Americans May Be Atheists Than We Thought (Daniel Cox, Five Thirty Eight): I suspect that even the highest estimate in the article is lower than what many at Stanford assume.
  5. The Damage We Would Do To Each Other If We Had “The Explanation”  (Richard Beck, personal blog): “Imagine, if you will, that the Bible gave us an explanation for why there is so much pain and suffering in the world. Imagine that the Bible gave us ‘The Explanation’ in a specific text, something we could easily quote and share…. Then imagine how The Explanation would be used.”
  6. What Makes A Parent? (Ian Parker, New Yorker): “…at the end she stood to make a skeptical point or two. In her view, the speakers had underestimated the legal consequences of making a person a parent. The panel’s chair, a judge, asked Rabin to stop lecturing the room. It was a peculiar moment. Rabin—who is gay, and a parent, and who has no argument with Barone’s victory, and who is admired for her own challenge to Alison D., in 2010—seemed to have been cast as a reactionary, intruding on a celebration.” This is a long, fascinating piece which (in my view but not the author’s) highlights some of the negative consequences of the LGBT revolution in society.

Things Glen Found Amusing

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.