Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 228

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. A Tale of Two Churches (Batya Ungar‐Sargon, NY Review of Books): “To many religious people, there’s no such thing as coincidence: Pastor Jay and Pastor Derrick felt acutely the prophetic nature of their union taking place just the day before the shooting. It felt as though, in the midst of the chaos and the confusion, God was using them to write a better story. The Lord had guided them to their merger at exactly the right time to redirect the anger and pain in the community to a higher, holy purpose.”
    • This my must‐read link of the week. SO GOOD. I almost cried.
    • Kind of related but only marginally: Praying for Hong Kong Can Be Politically Disruptive—Even in America  (D Cheng, Christianity Today): “Different origins among ethnic Chinese immigrants can foster different political views, with more Christians from China supporting the policies of the Chinese government, and those from elsewhere often more critical of the Chinese Communist Party.”
  2. ‘Absolutely No Mercy’: Leaked Files Expose How China Organized Mass Detentions of Muslims (Austin Ramzy and Chris Buckley, NY Times): “…one of the most significant leaks of government papers from inside China’s ruling Communist Party in decades. They provide an unprecedented inside view of the continuing clampdown in Xinjiang, in which the authorities have corralled as many as a million ethnic Uighurs, Kazakhs and others into internment camps and prisons over the past three years.” Recommended by a student.
  3. More Pregnancy, Less Crime (Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution): “More generally, however, there are policy implication if we think beyond the immediate results. First, these results show that crime isn’t simply a product of family background, poverty and neglect. Crime is a choice.”
    • The original study: Family Formation and Crime (Maxim Massenkoff and Evan K. Rose, job market paper, pdf link): “Our event‐study analysis indicates that pregnancy triggers sharp declines in crime rivaling any known intervention.”
    • Somewhat related: The Dating Market (Tyro Partners, pdf link): “With the advent of online dating, women in prime reproductive age are in the dominant position in the dating market for the first time in human history.This comes with huge social ramifications.” The authors are hedge fund guys. Interesting throughout and at times quite amusing. I especially commend to you the chart at the bottom of the page 5 contrasted with the chart at the top of page 6.
  4. Thread on the protests in Iran (Shay Khatiri, Twitter): “During its first 24 hours, it’s already been the most violent protests in decades, if not ever. 1979 revolution did not reach this level of violence.”
    • Amnesty Says At Least 106 Killed In Iran Protests (John Gambrell, Associated Press): “Days of protests in Iran over rising fuel prices and a subsequent government crackdown have killed at least 106 people across the Islamic Republic, Amnesty International said Tuesday, citing ‘credible reports.’”
  5. Why Some People Are Impossibly Talented (David Robson, BBC): “…influential scientists are much more likely to have diverse interests outside their primary area of research than the average scientist, for instance. Studies have found that Nobel Prize‐winning scientists are about 25 times more likely to sing, dance or act than the average scientist. They are also 17 times more likely to create visual art, 12 times more likely to write poetry and four times more likely to be a musician.”
  6. 2019 Religious Freedom Index (Becket Law): “If America is becoming less religious, as some polls indicate, does that necessarily mean it is also becoming less supportive of religious liberty protections? Are we, in fact, divided on questions of religious freedom?… With a current score of 67, the 2019 Index indicates strong support for religious freedom protections. ”
  7. Why Did the Wall Fall, 30 Years Ago? (George Weigel, First Things): “Getting this history straight is important, not just as a matter of intellectual hygiene but for the future. Public officials who do not grasp the centrality of religious freedom to the collapse of European communism and the emergence of new democracies in central and eastern Europe are unlikely to appreciate the centrality of religious freedom to free and virtuous 21st‐century societies and to 21st‐century democracy.”

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 Alcohol, Blackouts, and Campus Sexual Assault (Texas Monthly, Sarah Hepola): I think this is the most thoughtful secular piece I’ve read on the issue. “Consent and alcohol make tricky bedfellows. The reason I liked getting drunk was because it altered my consent: it changed what I would say yes to. Not just in the bedroom but in every room and corridor that led into the squinting light. Say yes to adventure, say yes to risk, say yes to karaoke and pool parties and arguments with men, say yes to a life without fear, even though such a life is never possible… We drink because it feels good. We drink because it makes us feel happy, safe, powerful. That it often makes us the opposite is one of alcohol’s dastardly tricks.” (first shared in volume 25)

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

Chi Alpha is not a partisan organization. To paraphrase another minister: we are not about the donkey’s agenda and we are not about the elephant’s agenda — we are about the Lamb’s agenda. Having said that, I read widely (in part because I believe we should aspire to pass the ideological Turing test and in part because I do not believe I can fairly say “I agree” or “I disagree” until I can say “I understand”) and may at times share articles that have a strong partisan bias simply because I find the article stimulating. The upshot: you should not assume I agree with everything an author says in an article I mention, much less things the author has said in other articles (although if I strongly disagree with something in the article I’ll usually mention it). And to the extent you can discern my opinions, please understand that they are my own and not necessarily those of Chi Alpha or any other organization I may be perceived to represent. Also, remember that I’m not reporting news — I’m giving you a selection of things I found interesting. There’s a lot happening in the world that’s not making an appearance here because I haven’t found stimulating articles written about it. If this was forwarded to you and you want to receive future emails, sign up here. You can also view the archives.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 152

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. Love, Again: on a celibate breakup and what happened after. (Wesley Hill, Comment Magazine): “For a long time, I found abstinence relatively easy. It’s not trendy to admit this, but I didn’t experience a sexless adulthood to be a fate worse than death, in part, perhaps, because I tried not to rev up my libido by seeing how close I could get to the line of intercourse without stepping over it…. What I didn’t realize, though, is that, for the intentionally abstinent, giving up sex is only part of the deal, and there’s more than one line you can step across.”
  2. Let’s Not Forget How Wrong Our Crime Data Are (Cathy O’Neil, Bloomberg): “A year after Trump was elected, the number of reported rapes among the Latino population of Houston declined by 40 percent, a strong indication that people became afraid to report the crimes. Police often don’t take rape victims’ reports seriously, a problem that is probably even worse for male victims. So how can we get a better understanding of the underlying rate of crime? Surveys typically don’t help: People who get away with committing serious offenses aren’t likely to admit it, even if they’re guaranteed anonymity. The one notable exception is marijuana use, which — though still illegal in most places — is mild and socially acceptable enough that people are willing to tell the truth. Hence, if we compare the reported rate of marijuana use to the arrest data, we can gain some insight into how useful the latter really is. The picture isn’t pretty. The latest government surveys, for example, suggest that black and white Americans use marijuana at about the same rate. Yet blacks get arrested about four times more often than whites — and 15 times more often in Manhattan, according to a recent New York Times analysis.” The author has her Ph.D. in mathematics from Harvard University.
  3. This week the US moved our embassy in Israel to Jerusalem on the 70th anniversary of Israel’s modern instantiation. Violence ensued.
    • Israel faces outcry over Gaza killings during Jerusalem embassy protests (Oliver Holmes and Hazem Balousha, The Guardian): “Gaza has had its bloodiest day in years on Monday after Israeli forces shot and killed 58 Palestinians and wounded at least 1,200 as tens of thousands protested along the frontier against the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem.”
    • The Real Dispute Driving the Israeli‐Palestinian Conflict (Yossi Klein Halevi, The Atlantic): “Abbas’s speech only confirmed for many Israelis that this conflict isn’t primarily about redressing the Palestinian grievances over the consequences of the events of 1967—the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza—but of 1948: the creation of Israel. Even if we were to uproot every last settlement and withdraw to the 1967 lines, some Israelis say, it won’t bring us any closer to peace, because the real Palestinian grievance is Israel’s existence…. Israelis and Palestinians are caught in what could be called a “cycle of denial.” The Palestinian national movement denies Israel’s legitimacy, and Israel in turn denies the Palestinians’ national sovereignty. The cycle of denial has defined this shared existence since the creation of Israel 70 years ago.”
    • Pulling an article I first shared back in volume 5What The Media Gets Wrong About Israel (Matti Friedman, The Atlantic): “…one of the most important aspects of the media‐saturated conflict between Jews and Arabs is also the least covered: the press itself. The Western press has become less an observer of this conflict than an actor in it, a role with consequences for the millions of people trying to comprehend current events, including policymakers who depend on journalistic accounts to understand a region where they consistently seek, and fail, to productively intervene.”
    • Israel’s Massacre of Palestinian Civilians Should Spark Horror—and Action (Ian S. Lustick, The Nation): “As documented by the Israeli military, there are now more Palestinians under the control of the Israeli state than there are Jews. Indeed, for all intents and purposes the Palestinians of Gaza and of the West Bank are already within the Jewish state. They are citizens of no other country, no other recognized state. As measured by how much impact the State of Israel has over the intimate details of their lives, and indeed over whether they will live at all, they are as much inhabitants of the State of Israel as black slaves were inhabitants of the United States or as Africans in the Bantustans were inhabitants of apartheid South Africa.” The author is a poli sci professor at Penn.
    • Israel Has the Right and Obligation to Defend Its Border with Deadly Force (David French, National Review): “What would you have Israel do when thousands of people march on the border, some armed, some not? What would you have Israel do when you know that terrorists are certainly mixed in that crowd, people who’d gladly shoot or stab Israeli civilians if they were ever to gain access to Israeli towns?”
  4. Basic Income, Not Basic Jobs: Against Hijacking Utopia (Scott Alexander, Slate Star Codex):  “I grudgingly forgive capitalism the misery it causes, because it’s the engine that lifts countries out of poverty. It’s a precondition for a free and prosperous society; attempts to overthrow it have so consistently led to poverty, tyranny, or genocide that we no longer believe its proponents’ earnest oaths that this time they’ve got it right. For right now, there’s no good alternative. But if we have a basic jobs guarantee, it will cause all the same misery, and I won’t forgive it.“ This is a long article — skim it. Overall a very strong argument.
  5. An atheist Muslim on what the left and right get wrong about Islam (Sean Illing, Vox): “I think the left has a blind spot when it comes to Islam and the right has a blind spot when it comes to Muslims.” This article is an interesting mix of insight and folly.
  6. Interesting observations from a political scientist (Corrinne McConaughy, Twitter): “How hard is it to reach into politics and say simultaneously that you are owed more and less than you have been given? Like, that’s a hard argument to make—so hard that the elites trying to explain this sort of tension keep whiffing past it.” She is a political scientist at George Washington University. I don’t know if she is a Christian, but the way she worded that bit was very gospelish.
  7. The Fall of The German Empire (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “And thinking about the European Union this way, as a Germanic empire as well as a liberal‐cosmopolitan project, is a helpful way of understanding how it might ultimately fall…. if the test of Europe’s unity feels like a test for liberal democracy, it’s a mistake to see it only in those terms. It is also a struggle of nations against empire, of the Continent’s smaller countries against German mastery and Northern European interests, in which populist parties are being elected to resist policies the center sought to impose upon the periphery without a vote.”

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 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. (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.

If this was forwarded to you and you want to receive future emails, sign up here. You can also view the archives.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 150

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. A Criminal Gang Used a Drone Swarm To Obstruct an FBI Hostage Raid (Patrick Tucker, Defense One): “Nefarious use of drones is likely to get worse before it gets better, according to several government officials who spoke on the panel. There is no easy or quick technological solution.” Fascinating stuff.
  2. The Sharp Sting of the Babylon Bee (Mark Hemingway, The Weekly Standard): “It’s safe to say that thus far, to the extent it has noticed, secular America is confounded by the success of the Babylon Bee.
  3. The Sexual Revolution’s Angry Children (Kay Hymowitz, City Journal): “What [older feminists] don’t factor into their judgment is that they benefited from the lingering cultural capital of earlier, more mannerly generations. Long‐established courtship norms don’t disappear overnight, after all…. The sexual revolution stripped young women of the social support they need to play gatekeeper, just as it deprived men of a positive vision, or even a reason, for self‐restraint. Recognizing those losses is where any reformation has to start.”
  4. Additional thoughts on the tragedy of Alfie Evans:
    • King Solomon, The False Mother, and Alfie Evans (Devorah Goldman, The Public Discourse): “Like King Solomon, the courts in England were presented with a straightforward question: To whom does this child belong? To Solomon, the true parent was unquestionably the one willing to sacrifice for the child, to safeguard his life even at the expense of never seeing him again.” 🔥 🔥 🔥
    • A more temperate, insightful argument: The Alfie Evans case shows liberal individualism has gone too far (Megan McArdle, Washington Post): “[This case illustrates] the danger of letting the centuries‐long progress of liberal individualism go too far in breaking open the family and assigning its functions to the state… After all, the irrational, overpowering love of parent for child is the only reason most of us are alive, despite having spent the first years of our life vomiting, soiling ourselves and destroying everything we could reach. If that love can see us to a healthy adulthood, it can probably see us to a decent death.”
    • Alfie Evans and the Experts (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “…a decent society allows families leeway to defy medical consensus: not only for the sake of parental rights and religious beliefs, not only because biases around race and class and faith creep into medical decision‐making, but also because in hard cases the official medical consensus often doesn’t come close to grasping all the possibilities, and letting people go their own way is often the only way to discover where it’s wrong.”
  5. The Redistribution of Sex (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “…our widespread isolation and unhappiness and sterility might be dealt with by reviving or adapting older ideas about the virtues of monogamy and chastity and permanence and the special respect owed to the celibate. But this is not the natural response for a society like ours. Instead we tend to look for fixes that seem to build on previous revolutions, rather than reverse them.” An excellent follow‐up to last week’s bullet point 7.
  6. Three articles about evangelicals and politics:
    • The Preacher And Politics: Seven Thoughts (Kevin DeYoung, Gospel Coalition): “I have plenty of opinions and convictions. But that’s not what I want my ministry to be about. That’s not to say I don’t comment on abortion or gay marriage or racism or other issues about the which the Bible speaks clearly. And yet, I’m always mindful that I can’t separate Blogger Kevin or Twitter Kevin or Professor Kevin from Pastor Kevin. As such, my comments reflect on my church, whether I intend them to or not. That means I keep more political convictions to myself than I otherwise would.” I agree with Kevin’s seven points to an almost shocking extent. We’ve never met but it’s like we had a long, rambling conversation and both came to the same conclusions.
    • Trump’s latest appeal to evangelicals: a new office to protect religious liberty (Tara Isabella Burton, Vox): “Trump’s initiative seems to expand previous offices’ remit in a number of ways. For starters, the office isn’t just focusing on community‐based or charitable initiatives. According to the Religion News Service, it’s also charged with informing the administration of ‘any failures of the executive branch to comply with religious liberty protections under law.’ The Trump administration has consistently been a champion of religious liberty, particularly insofar as it pertains to evangelical Christian causes…. The reach of this office also seems broader than its predecessors. Unlike in other administrations, the office will work with all government agencies, even those without department‐specific faith‐based initiatives.”
    • An Open Letter to Trump’s Evangelical Defenders (David French, National Review): “We are not told that the ends of good policies justify silence in the face of sin. Indeed — and this message goes out specifically to the politicians and pundits who go on television and say things they do not believe (you know who you are) to protect this administration and to preserve their presence in the halls of the power — there is specific scripture that applies to you: ‘Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!’”
  7. What Democrats Don’t Understand About Consumers (Morgan Ortagus & Christos Makridis, Fox Business): yup. That’s our own Christos. Here’s the part that stood out the most to me: “Christos Makridis is a PhD candidate at Stanford University, a Digital Fellow at the MIT Sloan Initiative on the Digital Economy, and a non‐resident fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government Cyber Security Initiative.” WHAAAT? If you didn’t catch that, he’s concurrently connected to Stanford, Harvard, and MIT.

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 Everything That’s Wrong Of Raccoons (Mallory Ortberg, The Toast): “Once when my dog died a passel of raccoons showed up in the backyard as if to say ‘Now that he’s gone, we own the night,’ and they didn’t flinch when I yelled at them, and I found it disrespectful to 1) me personally and 2) the entire flow of the food chain. Don’t disrespect me if you can’t eat me, you false‐night‐dogs.” (first shared in volume 97)

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.

If this was forwarded to you and you want to receive future emails, sign up here. You can also view the archives.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 124

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. Nepal Criminalizes Christian Conversion and Evangelism (Kate Shellnut, Christianity Today): “Last week, Nepal enacted a law to curb evangelism by criminalizing religious conversion, joining neighboring countries like India and Pakistan, where the region’s small‐but‐growing Christian minority faces government threats to their faith.”
  2. Police Cameras Had No Effect. Why? (Megan McArdle, Bloomberg View): “That data is now in, and it shows that [police body cameras] did… basically nothing.… This is flabbergasting.”
  3. Who Wrote Ecclesiastes and What Does It Mean? (John Walton, Zondervan Academic): A good essay overall, but one of his arguments really annoyed me, “The claim in 1:16 and 2:9 that he surpassed all who were before him in Jerusalem would mean little if his father were his only predecessor.” Umm… no. There were pre‐Israelite kings who reigned in Jerusalem (see Joshua 10, for example) and the author of Ecclesiastes is comparing himself to them as well
  4. The Age of Consent And Its Discontents (Ross Douthat, New York Times): Consent is an inadequate foundation for sexual ethics. “…the most self‐consciously progressive schools — [tell] us more about the inherent problems with ‘consent alone’ than does the mess in Hollywood, because it’s a case where there’s more social equality, less boss‐on‐minion pressure, and a generally sex‐positive culture of experimentation … and yet young people still clearly desire and need a system of rules stronger than consent alone to protect them from feeling unexpected rage or shame over how a particular encounter happened.”
  5. Shrews Shrink Their Heads to Survive Winter (Jake Buehler, Gizmodo): I sometimes forget how amazing the world is. “The shrews experienced some rather incredible changes, losing as much as 20 percent of their skulls in the winter months, and regaining 15 percent later in the year…. Alongside the shrinking skulls, shrew brains lose a hefty portion of their mass, and there is also winter reduction in organ size and spine length. In this study, the shrews managed to lose about a fifth of their body mass overall.”
  6.  Pence: US Will Bypass UN and Aid Persecuted Iraqi Christians Directly (Kate Shellnut, Christianity Today): this is encouraging. Christians in the Middle East are suffering greatly.
  7. Is the Modern Mass Extinction Overrated? (Kevin Berger, Nautilus): Apparently new species are forming faster than old species are becoming extinct. “Yes, we’ve wiped out woolly mammoths and ground sloths, and are finishing off black rhinos and Siberian tigers, but the doom is not all gloom. Myriad species, thanks in large part to humans who inadvertently transport them around the world, have blossomed in new regions, mated with like species and formed new hybrids that have themselves gone forth and prospered. We’re talking mammals, birds, trees, insects, microbes—all your flora and fauna.”

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 How To Pray A Psalm (Justin Taylor, Gospel Coalition): prayer life need a boost? Give this a try. (first shared in volume 69)

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.