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 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 41

On Fridays I share articles/resources I have found helpful recently in thinking about broader cultural, societal and theological issues. Be sure to see the explanation and disclaimers at the bottom.

  1. Since yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day, here are his Confession (of faith) and his Letter To The Soldiers of Coroticus. The opening lines of his confession, “My name is Patrick. I am a sinner, a simple country person, and the least of all believers. I am looked down upon by many.” Skip down to verse 16 for some of the wild stuff.
  2. The Shame Culture (David Brooks, BYT): “The guilt culture could be harsh, but at least you could hate the sin and still love the sinner. The modern shame culture allegedly values inclusion and tolerance, but it can be strangely unmerciful to those who disagree and to those who don’t fit in.” See also Scapegoats in the Culture War (Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic).
  3. OKC Thunder Coach’s Words Resonate With Many (Jenni Carlson, The Oklahoman): this is a bit late, but I finally watched the eulogy that recently gripped the sports world’s interest. Wow. Watch the YouTube video first (7 minutes) and then read the article.
  4. Three Numbers That Explain The Modern Political Ecosystem (Kevin Drum, Mother Jones): how media and politics intersect.
  5. The Glaring Evidence That Free Speech Is Threatened On Campus (Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic): “To sum up: free speech on campus is threatened from a dozen directions. It is threatened by police spies, overzealous administrators, and students who are intolerant of dissent.”
  6. Now that you’re on break, please register to vote if you have not already done so. If you are registering in California, I strongly suggest you register as a Permanent Vote-By-Mail Voter, which simply means that you will receive a ballot in the mail before every election. It gives you plenty of time to research the candidates and issues from the comfort of your dorm room with your ballot in front of you. If you prefer to vote in another state then visit http://www.brennancenter.org/student-voting). If you’re a citizen of another country, do whatever you’re supposed to do there. 🙂
  7. Quick Reads:

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.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 27

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.

To that end, on Fridays I’ve been sharing articles/resources I have found helpful recently in thinking about broader cultural and societal issues (be sure to see the disclaimer at the bottom). May these give you greater insight, so that you may continue the tradition of Issachar. Past emails are archived at http://glenandpaula.com/wordpress/category/links

To be frank, most of what I found interesting this week was turkey. The pickings are little slimmer than other weeks:

  1. The Christian Century No One Predicted (Justin Taylor, personal blog): “it was also a reversal in that Christianity moved from being centered in Christian nations to being centered in non-Christian nations. Christendom, that remarkable condition of churches supporting states and states supporting Christianity, died. The idea of Christian privilege in society was all but killed. And yet the religion seemed stronger than ever at the end of the twentieth century.”
  2. Ross Douthat on The Joy of ISIS (NY Times): “But if the West’s official alternative to ISIS is the full Belgium (basically good food + bureaucracy + euthanasia), if Western society seems like it’s closed most of the paths that human beings have traditionally followed to find transcendence, if Western culture loses the ability to even imagine the joy that comes with full commitment, and not just the remissive joy of sloughing commitments off — well, then we’re going to be supplying at least some recruits to groups like ISIS for a very long to come.”
  3. Why Tolerate Religion? (First Things, Rafael Domingo):  “The right to religion is different from freedom of conscience. Conscience is a sort of protective shell around people’s privacy: it safeguards them from abusive intrusions by the law. Conscience marks a private limit of the legal system, not a public one…. The right to religion demands toleration; freedom of conscience demands accommodation.”
  4. Fear and Voting on the Christian Right (CNN, Thomas Lake). “They called her a bigot, a homophobe, even a racist, which was strange, because the two gay men were white and so was Betty Odgaard. The angry people on the Internet told Betty she would die soon, that her death would be good for America, and then she would probably go to hell. Betty had other ideas about her final destination, but she agreed it was time to go.”
  5. There’s an Awful Cost To Getting a Ph.D. That No One Talks About (Quartz). Also of interest to Christians considering a doctoral program, The Illusion of Respectability (Christianity Today, Allen Guelzo).
  6. Chicago School of Free Speech (Wall Street Journal, L. Gordon Crovitz): one school’s response to the tumult sweeping college campuses. (may be behind a paywall)

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.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 23

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.

To that end, on Fridays I’ve been sharing articles/resources I have found helpful recently in thinking about broader cultural and societal issues (be sure to see the disclaimer at the bottom). May these give you greater insight, so that you may continue the tradition of Issachar. Past emails are archived at http://glenandpaula.com/wordpress/category/links

Without further ado, I give you the interesting things:

  1. The Ultimate List of Birthday Freebies (Stanford Daily, Samantha Wong): This is, without a doubt, one of the most useful links I have ever shared with you. Not so much about broader societal issues – but you’ll want to read it nonetheless.
  2. The Anti-Free Speech Movement at UCLA (The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf): I particularly liked this bit: “The college students fighting to limit free speech or to punish free expression are courting tremendous harms that would ultimately fall disproportionately on the least powerful, most marginalized groups of the present and future…. activists who say that they live in a system of white supremacy [should not] empower state administrators to police speech at their discretion!”  For much more, check out UCLA law prof Eugene Volokh’s comments on campus freedom of speech (some of which are quoted in the Friedersdorf article).
  3. Cash Strapped Missionaries Get A New Calling: Home (Wall Street Journal, Tamara Audi): this is sad. I encourage you to pray for and give to missionaries.
  4. Reframing The Debate About Payday Lending (the blog of the New York Fed): Fascinating. I’ve been critical of payday lenders in the past, but at least some of my misgivings appear to have been off the mark.
  5. A Black Legend Refuted (Catholic World Report): this is a review of Church of Spies: The Pope’s Secret War Against Hitler. The review is from a biased source, but is the most detailed of the reviews I’ve seen. Kirkus Reviews, a secular source, also has good things to say about it as does First Things, which is in between the two ideologically. The book’s endorsements are impressive.
  6. Quick links:

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.