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
Several articles related to the mass shootings:
- As his daughter lay in a pool of blood in an El Paso Walmart, a pastor held fast to his faith (David Montero, Los Angeles Times): “The pastor had never prayed so fervently. Michael Grady had just learned that his 33‐year‐old daughter was lying in a pool of blood at Walmart.”
- I’m a Shooting Survivor. If You’re Going to Pray for Us, Here’s How. (Taylor Schumann, Christianity Today): “As a shooting survivor, I believe in action. At the same time, I believe in the power of prayer. I know firsthand what living through a shooting does to a mind and what a bullet does to a body, and I believe that my recovery and healing is a direct result of prayers that were prayed for me.”
- Why Do We Have Mass Killers? (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “My point is that people love to take these horrible events as validating the political narrative they prefer, but these narratives can keep us from understanding what really happened.”
- Gun Regulation Is Costly—and Not the Only Option (Jennifer Doleac, The Regulatory Review): “Every mass shooting in the United States generates fresh calls to restrict access to guns, under the theory that fewer guns mean fewer shootings. But if the goal is to reduce gun fatalities, gun regulations ar3e not the only option. In fact, the fight over gun control is distracting policymakers from opportunities to save more lives by other means.” The author is an econ professor at Texas A & M, the article is a few months old.
- This is something I’ve shared links on before. Back in issue 54 I gave a handful of facts which taken together make both sides uncomfortable: FBI homicide data by weapon, violence against gay people is common, guns deter violence against gay people, some gun control laws do seem to reduce gun deaths, civilians with guns sometimes stop mass shootings, and the leading causes of gun deaths are suicide followed by homicide with police shootings and accidental shootings coming in way behind (shockingly far behind if you extrapolate from what you see on the news). I later stumbled upon the fact that there are not nearly as many school shootings as is sometimes reported. Also, I found clips of two comedians taking opposite views. Both are vulgar, hilarious, and informative – Bill Burr buys a shotgun and Jim Jeffries on why Americans are nuts. Less vulgar and even more informative is this debate between two pastors on guns that I shared back in volume 48 (you have to click through to see it since it’s multiple links)
- Conservative Christians have a porn problem, studies show, but not the one you think (Jana Riess, Religion News Service): “Drawing on numerous studies, Perry finds that, despite the statistical finding that conservative Christians are less likely to use porn, the perception within evangelical churches is that this has become an enormous problem for the faithful.”
- What Ails the Right Isn’t (Just) Racism (Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic): “Put another way, the right is correct that crying wolf matters. And the left is correct that The Boy Who Cried Wolf ends with a wolf feasting on folks who concluded that they shouldn’t worry about wolves because one kid fibbed.” I found this far more interesting than the title led me to anticipate.
- Against Against Billionaire Philanthropy (Scott Alexander, Slate Star Codex): “I worry the movement against billionaire charity is on track to damage charity a whole lot more than it damages billionaires.” This is a very interesting essay, and he has a follow‐up, Highlights From The Comments on Billionaire Philanthropy, which thoughtfully responds to criticisms. Highly recommended.
- How (and Why) to KISSASS (Kevin Mims, Quillette): “…if you’re not a member of the professional class, the key to getting your personal essays published in prominent publications is KISSASS—Keep It Short, Sad, And Simple, Stupid.” This is a follow‐up to an article I shared previously and I found it fascinating.
- Carol Swain Worked to Hold Politicians Accountable. Then She Felt God Call Her to Run. (David Roach, Christianity Today): “For Swain, change has been a recurring theme in her life. She went from low‐income single mother to Ivy League academic, from Democrat to Republican media commentator, and from Jehovah’s Witness turned non‐churchgoer to committed follower of Christ.” What a fascinating lady.
- Why I’m Not A Liberal (Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review): “Because liberalism is based on individual rights, it naturally favors the individual asserting his rights against traditional social subjects, whether they be the community, the family, or even his own marriage. If a classically liberal system has no effect on the values of society, it is an astonishing coincidence that wherever liberal political arrangements emerge, a new liberal understanding of marriage eventually replaces the previous Christian understandings as the legal and social reality.” This essay covers a lot of ground.
Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen
- Wow — there are a lot of amusing links this week. In my defense, I try to limit the serious links above to seven major bullet points but I let this section grow without limit, and I’ve got two weeks’ worth of material here. Enjoy!
- Why study science? (SMBC)
- We killed journalism (Pearls Before Swine)
- Mass (SMBC)
- When Can You Meet? (Dilbert) I relate to this too much
- Intriguing (Imgur)
- Local Christian Would Do Anything For Jesus Except Believe Things That Are Unpopular (Babylon Bee)
- Unpopular Opinions (xkcd) — this is a really good point
- New Legislation Outlawing Violent Gun‐Wielding Groups Accidentally Bans Federal Government (Babylon Bee) — ouch
- Eric Chien Coin Magic (America’s Got Talent, YouTube): six minutes
- Xulio Merino Sponge Magic (Penn & Teller Fool Us, YouTube): nine minutes
- Marcus Eddie Not A Card Trick (Penn & Teller Fool Us, YouTube): six minutes
- Robert Ramirez iPhone Magic (Penn & Teller Fool Us, YouTube): nine minutes
- Blake & Jana Crushing Magic (Penn & Teller Fool Us, YouTube): eight and a half minutes
- Mongolian Strong Man (Australia’s Got Talent, YouTube): eight minutes
- Lioz Shem Tov Funny Magician (Australia’s Got Talent, YouTube): eight minutes
- Zoe Lafleur, Sixth‐Grade Magician (Penn & Teller Fool Us, YouTube): seven and a half minutes
- Clever Visual Illusions (Digg)
- Trump re‐election campaign raises $460,000 from selling plastic straws (Adam Gabbat, The Guardian): this is real news, albeit amusing
Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago
Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have Dissolving the Fermi Paradox (Scott Alexander, Slate Star Codex): “Imagine we knew God flipped a coin. If it came up heads, He made 10 billion alien civilization. If it came up tails, He made none besides Earth. Using our one parameter Drake Equation, we determine that on average there should be 5 billion alien civilizations. Since we see zero, that’s quite the paradox, isn’t it? No. In this case the mean is meaningless. It’s not at all surprising that we see zero alien civilizations, it just means the coin must have landed tails. SDO say that relying on the Drake Equation is the same kind of error.” First shared in volume 159.
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.
Chi Alpha is not a partisan organization. To paraphrase another minister: we are not about the donkey’s agenda and we are not about the elephant’s agenda — we are about the Lamb’s agenda. Having said that, I read widely (in part because I believe we should aspire to pass the ideological Turing test and in part because I do not believe I can fairly say “I agree” or “I disagree” until I can say “I understand”) and may at times share articles that have a strong partisan bias simply because I find the article stimulating. The upshot: you should not assume I agree with everything an author says in an article I mention, much less things the author has said in other articles (although if I strongly disagree with something in the article I’ll usually mention it). And to the extent you can discern my opinions, please understand that they are my own and not necessarily those of Chi Alpha or any other organization I may be perceived to represent. Also, remember that I’m not reporting news — I’m giving you a selection of things I found interesting. There’s a lot happening in the world that’s not making an appearance here because I haven’t found stimulating articles written about it. If this was forwarded to you and you want to receive future emails, sign up here. You can also view the archives.