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 151

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. These Bombs Led Me To Christ (Kim Phuc Phan Thi, Christianity Today): “You have seen my picture a thousand times. It’s a picture that made the world gasp—a picture that defined my life. I am nine years old, running along a puddled roadway in front of an expressionless soldier, arms outstretched, naked, shrieking in pain and fear, the dark contour of a napalm cloud billowing in the distance.” WHOA.
  2. If I Were 22 Again (John Piper, Desiring God): “There have been about 18,340 days since I turned 22, and I think I have read my Bible on more of those days than I have eaten. I have certainly read my Bible on more of those days that I have watched television or videos.… Read your Bible every day of your life. If you have time for breakfast, never say that you don’t have time for God’s word.” This whole thing is really good. Highly recommended.
  3. What Happened To Alan Dershowitz? (Evan Mandery, Politico Magazine): “Talking to him, it’s not hard to get the impression that exposing that truth—the hypocrisy of both sides—may be his ultimate project. As he sees it, the best way to achieve his goal—and to get it the attention it deserves—is by defending the most odious clients in the most provocative possible way on the very principles liberals claim to love.” I really liked this article.
  4. A Muslim Among Israeli Settlers (Wajahat Ali, The Atlantic): “Ever since the creation of the modern state of Israel—a miracle for the Jews, the Nakba (‘catastrophe’) for the Palestinians—Jerusalem’s daily weather forecast could be described as sunny with a slight chance of apocalypse.”
  5. Give Amnesty for College Writings (David Lat, Wall Street Journal): “Collegiate scribblings from decades ago should have no bearing on one’s fitness for public office, and making an issue of them is bad for the country. College is traditionally a time of experimentation and exploration. We adopt and discard ideas and try out different identities, sometimes in rapid succession. These identities often bear little resemblance to our mature selves— Hillary Clinton was once a ‘Goldwater girl,’ while Clarence Thomas was a Black Panther sympathizer—but exploring them is how we learn about ourselves and acquire wisdom—how we grow up.”
    • Speaking of college writings, here are two pieces by Stanford students. They are presented without any implication that these are views the authors will later recant; rather, by putting them here as sub-bullet points I can tell myself I limited myself to seven topics this week.
    • Think the Right Cares About Free Speech? Not Always. (Annika Nordquist, Stanford Review): “Within American politics, freedom of speech is a topic of great self-righteousness on both fronts. As the Left adopts an increasingly politicized definition of ‘hate speech,’ including even the most mundane topics like ‘microaggressions,’ the Right pats itself on the back for defending natural liberties. Yet in Poland, where progressives have been voted almost entirely out of government, the Right instead restricts the speech of the Left.” That’s our very own Annika.
    • The Original Sin of Stanford Dining (Andrew Friedman, Stanford Review): “Currently 12 administrators run R&DE, along with numerous assistants. If administrators object to turning the school’s food service into a landlord, it is likely because they know leasing space to third party vendors, besides being better for everyone else, could be done by a single person, without the bureaucratic bloat of the current system.”
  6. A real-life Lord of the Flies: the troubling legacy of the Robbers Cave experiment (David Shariatmadari, The Guardian): “The ‘Robbers Cave experiment’ is considered seminal by social psychologists, still one of the best-known examples of ‘realistic conflict theory’. It is often cited in modern research. But was it scientifically rigorous? And why were the results of the Middle Grove experiment – where the researchers couldn’t get the boys to fight – suppressed? … [The researcher’s method was] think of the theory first and then find a way to get the results that match it. If the results say something else? Bury them.”
  7. A Design Lab Is Making Rituals for Secular People (Sigal Samuel, The Atlantic): “Ritual Design Lab has its roots in Stanford’s Institute of Design, where Ozenc and Hagan both teach. In 2015, they proposed a new course on ritual design. To their surprise, more than 100 students signed up. Most were secular.” I largely agree with Rod Dreher’s take: New Rituals For Self-Worship

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 Letter To My Younger Self (Ryan Leaf, The Player’s Tribune): “Congratulations. You officially have it all — money, power and prestige. All the things that are important, right?… That’s you, young Ryan Leaf, at his absolute finest: arrogant, boorish and narcissistic. You think you’re on top of the world and that you’ve got all the answers. Well I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but the truth is….” Such a gripping letter. Highly recommended. (first shared in volume 99)

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 55

On Fridays I share articles/resources about broad cultural, societal and theological issues, with a preference for content from academics and influential voices. Be sure to see the explanation and disclaimers at the bottom.

Articles I Found Interesting

  1. Britain voted to leave the European Union.
  2. Related To Orlando:
    • Omar Mateen’s Multiple Motives (Kirsten Powers, USA Today): “Almost as quickly as the massacre of innocents in Orlando unfolded, Americans retreated to their ideological corners to interpret the motivations of the mass murderer, Omar Mateen.”
    • FBI Investigators say they have found no evidence that Orlando shooter had gay lovers (Molly Hennessy-Fiske, LA Times): huh. This is still a developing story, do not assume this is the final word.
    • The Gun Control We Deserve (Patrick Blanchfield, n+1): “As many critics have observed, we would be naïve to think that heavy-handed gun control measures would not involve the same disproportionate racial targeting and police violence we rightly condemn in the War on Drugs and in everyday encounters in places from Baltimore to Ferguson to Cleveland to Oakland.” A very thoughtful piece.
  3. Elon Musk Is Wrong. We Aren’t Living In A Simulation (Riccardo Manzotti and Andrew Smart, Vice): “The world we live in is made of real stuff. Simulations are things made of the same stuff. Musk’s argument does not show that we are getting any closer to producing an alternative reality. Rather it shows that we are getting better and better at shaping the physical world.” The authors take unwarranted pot shots at dualism, but make very good points overall. Related: SMBC “Heap Problem.”
  4. The Sotomayor and Kagan Dissents in Utah vs Strieff (Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution): “If outstanding warrants were few and far between and distributed more or less randomly the case would have been wrongly decided but of little practical importance. Outstanding warrants, however, are common and much more common in some communities than others. As I wrote in 2014, in Ferguson, MO a majority of the population had outstanding warrants and not because of high crime:”
  5. Ban the Box or Require the Box? (Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution): “Sadly, a policy that was intended to raise the employment prospects of black men ends up having the biggest positive effect on white men with a criminal record…. Policies like ban the box try to get people to do the ‘right thing’ by blinding people to certain types of information. But blinded people tend to use other cues to achieve their interests and when those other cues are less informative that often makes things worse.”
  6. I’m A Single-Issue Voter On Multiple Issues And So Are You (Denny Burk, personal blog): “Single-issue voting is not the idea that being right on any single issue qualifies a candidate for office. Single-issue voting is the idea that being wrong on a single issue may disqualify a candidate from office.”
  7. My Holy Land Vacation (Tom Bissell, Harpers): “I excuse myself and stroll outside. I notice that someone else has also walked out early: Pastor Marty. He tells me that he was troubled by the violence of the Israeli Redneck’s speech. I tell Pastor Marty that I don’t fault a man who’s fought in four wars for sounding like a lunatic. What bothers me is the way people were applauding him.” Highly recommended.

A Quote To Ponder

“Stanford students are good at being good at things. Your Christianity can’t just be one more thing you’re good at. To be good misses the point. The point is not what you do but what Jesus has done.” Seth Villegas

Something Amusing To End On

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 21

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. How big of a deal do you have to be for POTUS to interview you? President Obama & Marilynne Robinson: A Conversation In Iowa (NY Review of Books). You might recall that Robinson is speaking at Stanford soon and also that I mentioned her essay “Fear” a few emails back.
  2. Wondering why people are fleeing Syria? Check out Syria’s War: A Five Minute History (a Vox video). This is really well-done. 
  3. There is also violence erupting in Israel. Foreign Policy asks Can Anyone Prevent A Third Intifada?  Incidentally, if you wonder why people are skeptical of the way news concerning Israel is reported, take a look at Returning to the Copy Desk, Briefly (Kevin Williamson, National Review). It is a takedown of a NY Times article showing how much bias can creep into an apparently objective article (this is from the right critiquing the left — for counterexamples search for clips from the Daily Show). Bottom line: it’s really hard to find trustworthy news about Israel.
  4. Lying About Our Religion, and Other Problems With Polling (Religion Dispatches). There really is a problem developing with polling, which is bad news because we rely upon polling in our national life to tell us what the public thinks. Nate Silver is also worried about this — Polling Is Getting Harder, But It’s A Vital Check On Power (FiveThirtyEight).
    • An insightful observation from the “Lying About Our Religion” article: “In a democracy with hundreds of millions of people, how do you know what the public thinks and wants? How do you figure out what binds them together, besides an annual obligation to the IRS and a love of fireworks? In short: how do you know what the public is? Like many hard questions, these problems have been rendered largely invisible, in no small part because “The Public” and “The American People” are favorite fictional characters for politicians and journalists, who speak of them without a trace of precision. So let’s indulge in a quick reality check. The Super Bowl—that national spectacle that unites us around the flickering LCD hearth—had 115 million viewers in the United States last February; in other words, nearly two-thirds of us weren’t watching it. The most-viewed political spectacle of the year, the State of the Union address, draws around 10% of the population. Barack Obama won the 2012 presidential election with 62 million votes, meaning that fewer than 20% of us voted for him. The people have spoken…kind of.”
  5. 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.