Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 165

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. Our Hope Is Coming (Steven Longoria, Denison Forum): “The world we live in would tell us that hope is closely tied to doubt. To say ‘I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow’ carries with it a fear that it will likely rain…. Biblical hope is something entirely different. It conveys a state of confidence, security, and lack of worry.” Steven is an alumnus of our ministry who is currently studying at Dallas Theological Seminary. Go, Steven!
  2. How the State Serves Both Salvation and Religious Freedom (Jonathan Leeman, 9 Marks): “Two basic kinds of governments, then, show up in the Bible: those that shelter God’s people, and those that destroy them. Abimelech sheltered; Pharoah destroyed. The Assyrians destroyed; the Babylonians and Persians, ultimately, sheltered. Pilate destroyed; Festus sheltered. And depending on how you read Revelation, the history of government will culminate in a beastly slaughter of saintly blood. Romans 13 calls governments servants; Psalm 2 calls them imposters. Most governments contain both. But some are better than others.” Recommended.
  3. #ChurchToo
    • What Would Jesus Do? Clean House In The Catholic Church. (Megan McArdle, Washington Post): “[Congregants] do not expect the church to be perfect; even St. Peter, after all, denied Christ three times. But they do expect to find the reflection of Christ there. According to news reports, the church hierarchy in Pennsylvania and beyond has already denied Christ’s gospel three times: once when it sheltered predators in silence; once when it failed to remove everyone who was involved in covering up any crime; and again when two of the six dioceses involved tried to shut down the grand jury investigation that produced the report. Now they face the same choice Peter did.” Straight fire.
    • Why Men Like Me Should Not Be Priests (Daniel Mattson, First Things): “Most of the horrific abuse detailed in the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report involved adolescent boys and young men. This isn’t pedophilia…. If the Church wants to avoid sex scandals, it must stop ordaining the sorts of men who have the hardest time remaining chaste.” This article is full of details I did not know. Fascinating and no doubt a lightning rod for controvery.
    • How the Willow Creek Church Scandal Has Stunned the Evangelical World (Laurie Goodstein, New York Times): “The sudden resignation of Willow Creek Community Church’s top leaders following sexual harassment allegations against Rev. Bill Hybels, their founding pastor, has shaken evangelicals far from the church’s base in the Chicago suburbs. There are few bigger names in the evangelical world than Mr. Hybels, and few churches more influential than Willow Creek. Christians worldwide looked to it as a model of smart leadership.”
    • These two scandals are especially interesting when juxtaposed. The Roman Catholic Church is the most hierarchical of denominations with authority flowing down from the Pope. Willow Creek is a nondenominational congregation and is completely independent of external authority. They represent two extremes of church governance and the revelation of their moral failures demonstrate that the problem of sin is not solved by rules. See Colossians 2:20–23.
    • Related: Evangelical Purity Culture Taught Me to Rationalize My Sexual Assault (Becca Andrews, Mother Jones): “I understood my role: I was a sexual gatekeeper. Men, we were taught, are burdened by God with insatiable lust. Women, of course, are not, so it makes sense that we are expected to create the boundaries. We are responsible for what we wear, but more broadly, we are tasked with defining consent, as thorny as that may seem…. The stakes are high in purity culture. Every slipup is a strike against any hope of a successful marriage.” Although interesting, the article doesn’t quite make the case that the title implies.
    • For the record: never keep a criminal matter private because you fear your report will hurt the public perception of a religious body, political entity, or any other institution. Souls are eternal, organizations are not. Individuals are more important than institutions. This is true even of denominations and individual congregations — Jesus died for the Church and not for a brand. 1 Corinthians 6:1–7 tells us to forbear in civil matters, but when it comes to criminal matters Romans 13:1–7 is the relevant passage.
  4. Social Injustice and the Gospel (John MacArthur, Grace To You): “I am convinced the only long-term solution to every brand of ethnic animus is the gospel of Jesus Christ. In Christ alone are the barriers and dividing walls between people groups broken down, the enmity abolished, and differing cultures and ethnic groups bound together in one new people (Ephesians 2:14–15). The black leaders with whom I ministered during the civil rights movement shared that conviction. The evangelicals who are saying the most and talking the loudest these days about what’s referred to as ‘social justice’ seem to have a very different perspective.” This is apparently the first in a series.
  5. “Let The Whorehouse Burn!” (Christopher Caldwell, The Weekly Standard): “‘As of this evening,’ said Pierre Moscovici in Luxembourg in June, ‘the Greek crisis is over.’ Moscovici, a French Socialist politician who serves as the economics commissioner of the European Union, was making quite a claim…. Today, despite what Pierre Moscovici and his colleagues said in Luxembourg, Greek debt, at 179 percent, is higher still. The latest E.U. deal requires Greece to run large budget surpluses until the year 2060 to repay the debts brought on by the E.U.’s own mismanagement. The country is in some respects worse off than it was when Greek protesters mobbed the parliament in May 2010, howling, ‘Let the whorehouse burn!’”
  6. Norway’s hidden scandal (Tim Whewell, BBC): “His conviction puts the spotlight back on a system which has been heavily criticised by some parents – and by leading Norwegian professionals in the childcare field – for being too quick to put children into care, splitting families unnecessarily. The disgraced psychiatrist has had his professional licence revoked, meaning he cannot work in the same field again. But parents who’ve lost custody of children in cases he was involved in believe all his previous decisions should be reviewed.” This is outrageous.
  7. Colorado Defies the Supreme Court, Renews Persecution of a Christian Baker (David French, National Review): “On the very day that Phillips won his case at the Supreme Court, a person emailed with yet another deliberately offensive design request: “I’m thinking a three-tiered white cake. Cheesecake frosting. And the topper should be a large figure of Satan, licking a 9″ black Dildo. I would like the dildo to be an actual working model, that can be turned on before we unveil the cake. I can provide it for you if you don’t have the means to procure one yourself.” And finally, two days later, a person identifying as ‘Autumn Marie’ visited Phillips’s shop and requested a cake featuring a pentagram. According to ADF, ‘Phillips believes that person was Autumn Scardina.’ Rather than recognizing Scardina’s conduct as nothing more than a bad-faith campaign of harassment, Aubrey Elenis, the director of the Colorado Civil Rights Division, found on June 28 ‘probable cause’ to believe that Phillips violated Scardina’s civil rights….”
    • Related: When opposition to religious liberty becomes silly, petty, and vindictive (Andrew T. Walker. Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission): “When our creative director walked into my office to notify me [that our ministry was being discriminated against by a company], my first response was to smile. Why? Because the ERLC had been the victim of discrimination, and I knew an opportunity like this meant the ERLC could pursue the moral high ground. What progressivism does to dissenters, we would not do to them…. No lawsuit was necessary. No media storm was called for. We have zero desire to force the discriminating company to agree with us or comply with our demands. No one was holding the other hostage to their ideological expectations. The power of choice and the freedom of viewpoint diversity allowed two actors to pursue a pathway of pluralism.”

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 Every Place Has Detractors. Consider Where They’re Coming From.(Megan McArdle, Bloomberg 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). This serendipitously happened to be next in the sequence of older links. It fits very well with the above article about evangelical purity culture. (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.

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 160

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. Democrats Are Wrong About Republicans. Republicans Are Wrong About Democrats. (Perry Bacon Jr., FiveThirtyEight): “Blacks made up about a quarter of the Democratic Party, but Republicans estimated the share at 46 percent. Republicans thought 38 percent of Democrats were gay, lesbian or bisexual, while the actual number was about 6 percent. Democrats estimated that 44 percent of Republicans make more than $250,000 a year. The actual share was 2 percent. People also overstated the numbers of these stereotypical groups within their own party — Democrats thought 29 percent of their fellow Democrats were gay, lesbian or bisexual — but they weren’t off by as much as members of the other party.”
  2. The Socialist Network (Gilad Edelman, Washington Monthly): “At the heart of the split between liberals and socialists, at least in theory, is the question of what to do about capitalism. Liberals tend to see it as something that needs to be fixed. Socialists see it as something to be defeated. They say they do, anyway. As we’ve seen, the Millennial socialist intellectuals aren’t really calling for government takeover of industry.”
  3. Affirming Disadvantage (John McWhorter, The American Interest): “Do I oppose affirmative action? Not at all. But I suggest that what we now ‘affirm’ is disadvantage suffered by all kinds of people.” The author is a linguistics professor at Columbia. He earned his Ph.D. at Stanford, btw.
  4. Culture War As Class War: How Gay Rights Reinforce Elite Power (Darel E. Paul, First Things): “Privileging the normalization of homosexuality rather than, say, racial integration allows elites to have their diversity cake and eat it, too.” The author is a professor of political science at Williams College.
  5. If You Care About NATO You Should Care About German Military Readiness (David French, National Review): “…Germany’s military made headlines when it used broomsticks instead of machine guns during a NATO exercise because of a shortage of equipment. The lack of real weapons in the European Union’s most populous nation was seen as symptomatic of how underfunded its military has long been.” This is scary.
  6. Learning From ‘The Final Pagan Generation’ (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): this is a long and illuminating post. “Understand that we, like the final pagan generation [in ancient Rome], might think we are fighting for tolerance, but our opponents are fighting for victory. We have to change our tactics.” (emphasis removed)
  7. President Trump has nominated Brett Kavanaugh to be a Supreme Court Justice. I’ve got a lot of links here — just pick one or two.
    • It Took a Village to Raise Kavanaugh (David Brooks, New York Times): “Kavanaugh is the product of a community. He is the product of a conservative legal infrastructure that develops ideas, recruits talent, links rising stars, nurtures genius, molds and launches judicial nominees…. If you emphasize professional excellence first, if you gain a foothold in society’s mainstream institutions, if you build a cohesive band of brothers and sisters, you can transform the landscape of your field.”
    • As Trump picks Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court, evangelicals rejoice: ‘I will vote for him again’ (Julie Zauzmer, Washington Post): “Many evangelical pastors and activists said they would have been pleased with any of the names reported to be on Trump’s shortlist for the nomination. After all, that was the gambit that won Trump so many evangelical votes in 2016: He made the unusual move of releasing, before he was even president, a list of judges he would consider for the Supreme Court if elected. And evangelicals liked what they saw.”
    • Brett Kavanaugh, Donald Trump’s Supreme Court pick, explained (Dylan Matthews, Vox): “Kavanaugh continued to compile a legal record that would lead to Durbin’s description of him as ‘the Zelig or Forrest Gump of Republican politics. You show up at every scene of the crime … whether it is Elián González or the Starr Report, you are there.’”
    • Will Brett Kavanaugh Pass the Religious Right’s New Litmus Test? (Sarah Posner, The Nation): “Even without the Trump-appointed Kennedy successor, the Court had already expanded ‘religious freedom’ to include previously unimagined religious rights.” This is an extremely misleading article, but interesting in the misunderstandings it reveals.
    • You’ll Hate This Post On Brett Kavanaugh And Free Speech (Ken White, Popehat): “Kavanaugh has been an appellate judge for 12 years and has written many opinions on free speech issues. They trend very protective of free speech, both in substance and in rhetoric.”
    • Judge Kavanaugh and the Second Amendment (David Kopel, Volokh Conspiracy): “Judge Kavanaugh’s text, history, and tradition methodology for Second Amendment cases will not please people who believe that all gun control is impermissible, nor will it please advocates who want to make the Second Amendment a second-class right.”

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

I thought the Babylon Bee was exceptionally funny this week. Maybe I was just feeling giggly.

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have Inside Graduate Admissions (Inside Higher Ed, Scott Jaschick): if you plan to apply to grad school, read this. There is one revealing anecdote about how an admissions committee treated an application from a Christian college student. My takeaway: the professors tried to be fair but found it hard to do, and their stated concerns were mostly about the quality of the institution rather than the faith of the applicant. Troubling nonetheless. (first shared in volume 32)

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

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

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

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.