Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 243

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. Recovering Friendship (Devorah Goldman, Public Discourse): “And then you go at it, hammer and tongs, far into the night, night after night; or walking through fine country that neither gives a glance to, each learning the weight of the other’s punches, and often more like mutually respectful enemies than friends. Actually (though it never seems so at the time) you modify one another’s thought; out of this perpetual dogfight a community of mind and a deep affection emerge.”
  2. In God We Divide (Thomas Edsall, New York Times): “The more religiously engaged a white voter is, the more likely he or she will be a Republican; the less religious the voter, the more likely to be a Democrat. But, as we shall see it’s not that simple: The deeper you go, the more complex it gets.”
    • Note the adjective “white” in the first sentence — almost all discussion about the politics of religious people focuses on white voters. The piece later acknowledges voters of color but doesn’t explore how their faith influences their votes. Instead non-white evangelicals are usually treated as though faith is irrelevant to their political views, which is absurd. All that to say: the article has interesting insights but bear in mind its crippling limitation.
  3. Is Joshua’s Altar on Mount Ebal in Israel Myth? Or Reality? (Ralph Hawkins, Logos): “When I was working on my doctoral dissertation about the Ebal site, I spent a week with Zertal. One morning while we were driving to the site, he told me his critics had accused him of trying to prove the Bible. They said he imposed a cultic interpretation onto the stone structure he had found. He explained, though, that he had been born and raised in Ein Shemer, Israeli kibbutz that was affiliated with a secular movement. He said he had grown up believing that the Bible was full of myths. When he did his graduate work in archaeology, he did it at Tel Aviv, the most liberal university in Israel, where those views were reinforced. He insisted he had not embarked on his excavation at Mount Ebal in order to prove the Bible. What he found there, however, had a profound effect on him. He said, ‘I became a believer at Mount Ebal.’”
    • I love stories like this. Archaeology and the Bible is fascinating to me.
  4. Christianity & Coronavirus
    • When Corona Makes Us More Like The New Testament (Andrew Wilson, Think Theology): “In a number of curious ways, the Coronavirus outbreak is making us more like the New Testament church.” See also Sam Allberry’s Twitter thread about God’s Purposes In Pandemic. It reminds me of Numbers 11:18–20.
    • Coronavirus, Courage, and the Second Temptation of Christ (David French, The Dispatch): “Shun performative recklessness. Do not presume that our faith makes us immune to the laws of biology and viral transmission. At the same time, believers should not shrink from purposeful and sacrificial personal risk. There may come a time when you must care for those who are sick. Do so without reservation, but do so prudently with the knowledge that you should not impute your risks to others.”
    • Canceled Mission Trips Expected to Have Long-Term Fallout (David Roach, Christianity Today): “Approximately 20 percent of all US-based international mission work each year is done by short-term volunteers, according to an analysis by sociologist of religion Robert Wuthnow. That translates to 1.6 million US church members annually going on international mission trips and doing work valued at $1.1 billion (not counting preparation time and travel days).”
    • Church as a Non-Essential Service (Matthew Schmitz, First Things): “Judging by the response of many religious leaders, church is a non-essential service. We are capable of taking prudent measures to keep our supermarkets open, but not our sanctuaries. Coronavirus has shown what we value. In Pennsylvania, beer distributors are deemed essential. In San Francisco and New York, cannabis dispensaries are.” This is actually a contribution to an online dustup but I find it more interesting than the dispute itself.
    • Digital Communion: History, Theology, and Practices (John Dyer, personal blog): “A few weeks ago, I posted a graphic that attempts to show that the elements of a service that are transactional or broadcast oriented are usually the easiest to move online, but the relational parts of church are often the most challenging—and most overlooked—elements of digital church.”
    • In Leviticus, an unexpected lesson in surviving quarantine (Rachel Sharansky Danziger, Forward): “Before, I could never understand why we should learn in so much detail about every little ritual in the Tabernacle, and who does what, and when. Now, as I work hard to make our newly claustrophobic home into a place of calm and productivity, I understand the book’s insistence on such details.” A Jewish perspective.
  5. General Coronavirus Commentary
    • That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief (Scott Berinato, Harvard Business Review): “There is something powerful about naming this as grief. It helps us feel what’s inside of us. So many have told me in the past week, ‘I’m telling my coworkers I’m having a hard time,’ or ‘I cried last night.’ When you name it, you feel it and it moves through you. Emotions need motion. It’s important we acknowledge what we go through.”
      • Pastoral aside: this is (some of) you. Paula and I have both talked to people who have been mourning without realizing what they were doing. You are grieving. A few days ago I uploaded a two-minute video reflecting on Psalm 137:1 which touches on this.
    • Leisure in a Time of Coronavirus (Nathan Schlueter, Public Discourse): “Schools are closed. Sports and music lessons are cancelled. Everyone is at home. What are you going to do? Instead of allowing coronavirus control your life, why not plan for leisure? Use this time to do the things you are always wishing you had the time to do—or do better. Now you have that time, so do those things.”
    • Face Masks: Much More Than You Wanted To Know (Scott Alexander, Slate Star Codex): “Some people with swine flu travelled on a plane from New York to China, and many fellow passengers got infected. Some researchers looked at whether passengers who wore masks throughout the flight stayed healthier. The answer was very much yes. They were able to track down 9 people who got sick on the flight and 32 who didn’t. 0% of the sick passengers wore masks, compared to 47% of the healthy passengers. Another way to look at that is that 0% of mask-wearers got sick, but 35% of non-wearers did. This was a significant difference, and of obvious applicability to the current question.”
    • The Fog of Pandemic (Derek Thompson, The Atlantic): “The U.S. is fighting a war with extreme uncertainties. It may be weeks before we know whether we are flattening the coronavirus curve, and months before we know what kind of economy we’ll have in the second half of this year.”
    • When can we let up? Exploring how to relax coronavirus lockdowns (Stat News): “The approach getting the most support is one that experts have long doubted could work with a respiratory virus: aggressive case finding, contact tracing, community surveillance, isolation of cases, and quarantining of contacts. Both Singapore and South Korea used that, allowing them to make tactical decisions about schools (mostly open in both countries) and public movement, sparing them from shutting down to the extent that the U.S. and many countries in Europe have.”
    • Coronavirus Pandemic: We Need the Skeptics (Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review): “When a bad thing happens to a good person, we are tempted to rage at God. When innumerable bad things happen to half of everyone we know, we rage at each other.”
    • On Coronavirus, Reason To Hope (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): This week we saw FDA approval of new testing systems from Roche and from Abbott labs that run tests ten times faster than current methods. To give you an idea of what this means, Roche brags that their Cobas 8800 machine can process over 3000 tests per day. Until today, Louisiana hadn’t had a total of 3000 people tested. Roche is now making and shipping 400,000 test kits per week in the US, while Abbott is making a million of their test kits each week. Those systems will be coming online this coming week…. And there are more companies in the process of getting approval. In two weeks, we should be able to test 150,000 – 200,000 Americans daily, and that means that we don’t all need to stay home anymore.”
      • You can see the number of tests administered so far at The COVID Tracking Project — this is one of the best indicators to keep an eye on because it determines the reliability of every other statistic.
    • The World After Coronavirus (Yuval Noah Harari, Financial Times): “But temporary measures have a nasty habit of outlasting emergencies, especially as there is always a new emergency lurking on the horizon. My home country of Israel, for example, declared a state of emergency during its 1948 War of Independence, which justified a range of temporary measures from press censorship and land confiscation to special regulations for making pudding (I kid you not). The War of Independence has long been won, but Israel never declared the emergency over, and has failed to abolish many of the ‘temporary’ measures of 1948 (the emergency pudding decree was mercifully abolished in 2011).”
    • Safety Protocols and Zones of Quarantine (Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution): “In other words, this part of the virus response should transition to a health and safety regulatory concern that is important, but handled like most of the others. For example, poor food hygiene can also kill you, but governments generally don’t respond by deciding which cuisines are essential and which are not. Rather, anyone willing to follow the safety rules can put up any menu they want. So it should be for economic activities of all kinds.”

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 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.” First shared in volume 150

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 224

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 Million People Are Jailed at China’s Gulags. I Managed to Escape. Here’s What Really Goes on Inside (David Stavrou, Ha Aretz): “Torture – metal nails, fingernails pulled out, electric shocks – takes place in the ‘black room.’ Punishment is a constant. The prisoners are forced to take pills and get injections. It’s for disease prevention, the staff tell them, but in reality they are the human subjects of medical experiments. Many of the inmates suffer from cognitive decline. Some of the men become sterile. Women are routinely raped.” This is one of the worst things happening in the world right now, and that is saying something since ‘global horrors’ is a frighteningly competitive category.
  2. Stanford fails its Jewish community (Sarah Myers, Stanford Daily): “This year, classes were held on both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. These holidays are the High Holy Days of Judaism, so-called because they are the holiest days of the year for Judaism. Rosh Hashanah lasts two days and Yom Kippur one. Many Jews attend services for most of the day on these holidays. Fasting is considered a key part of observing Yom Kippur. Yet, Stanford decided that classes would be held, and professors would be free to create assignments with no regard for students observing these days.”
  3. Black Baptist church shaped Cummings’ commitment (Jeff Karoub, AP News): “To many black clergy, Maryland Rep. Elijah E. Cummings was more than a formidable orator, civil rights champion and passionate public servant, he was also one of them — in practice, if not profession.”
  4. How To Ask Your Mentors For Help (Derek Sivers): this is super-short and very good. Excerpting it would ruin it. Read the whole thing.
  5. The Codevilla Tapes (David Samuels, Tablet Magazine): “Samuels: ‘Please remove me from temptation, said no one, ever.’ “Codevilla: ‘Well as a matter of fact, Christians do “lead us not into temptation” all the time.’ Samuels: ‘You do say “lead us not into temptation,” but I am not aware of the Christian prayer that says “please take away the chocolate cake while I’m in the middle of eating it.”’ Codevilla: ‘Well, St. Augustine said exactly that, you know, “Lord make me pure, but not yet.”’ This is a super-long, wide-ranging interview. It is full of fascinating tidbits and will reward skimming.
  6. On Mexican State Collapse (El Anti-Pozolero, a personal blog): “It’s an absolutely extraordinary episode even by the grim and bizarre annals of what we mistakenly call the post-2006 Mexican Drug War. The Battle of Culiacán stands on a level above, say, the Ayotzinapa massacre, or the Zetas’ expulsion of the entire population of Ciudad Mier. Killing scores of innocents and brutalizing small towns is one thing: seizing regional capital cities and crushing the national armed forces in open fighting in broad daylight is something else.”
    • Mexico’s bid to detain El Chapo son ‘a failure of everything’ (Will Grant, BBC News): “It was a huge embarrassment for the government. They had captured one of the most wanted men in Mexico and, outgunned and overwhelmed by the cartel, they simply turned him back over to his men.”
    • How Mexico became a failed state (Manuel Suárez-Mier, Asia Times): “When we think about what’s impressive here, it is the sheer amount of devastation of a large country (14th in GDP; 135 million people) that a dogmatic, self-centered, narcissistic and ignorant leader can inflict in such short time.”
  7. What Teaching Ethics in Appalachia Taught Me About Bridging America’s Partisan Divide (Evan Mandery, Politico): “We teach people that it’s impolite to discuss religion and politics in public. It’s wrong. We need to teach people how to discuss religion and politics.”

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 Jesus, Mary, and Joe Jonas (Jonathan Parks‐Ramage, Medium): “How, in famously liberal Hollywood and among statistically progressive millennials, had good old‐fashioned evangelism [sic] gained popularity? In this context, a church like Reality L.A. seemed like something that could never work. But that evening, as I reflected on the troubled actress and the psychic brutalities inflicted by the entertainment industry, it occurred to me that I had underestimated Hollywood’s biggest product: lost souls.” First shared in volume 192

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 176

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. Mass Shootings at Houses of Worship: Pittsburgh Attack Was Among the Deadliest (Sarah Mervosh, NY Times): “Mass shootings have become a recurring part of American life, and religious institutions a recurring setting. In each case, the shock is compounded by the violence at what is supposed to be a safe space for peace and healing.”
    • Related: If You Hate Jews, You Hate Jesus (Russell Moore, personal blog): “I will often hear Christians say, ‘Remember that Jesus was Jewish.’ That’s true enough, but the past tense makes it sound as though Jesus’ Jewishness were something he sloughed off at the resurrection. Jesus is alive now, enthroned in heaven…. When Jesus appeared before Saul of Tarsus on the Road to Damascus, the resurrected Christ introduced himself as ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ (Acts 22:8). Jesus is Jewish, present tense.”
    • Related: Holiness & Dr. Cohen (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “What Dr. Cohen — who is a member of Tree of Life synagogue — and his Jewish staff showed is moral courage, but more than that, it is holiness.”
    • Related: The Jews of Pittsburgh Bury Their Dead (Emma Green, The Atlantic): “‘We, the Jews, are good at death,’ says Rabbi Seth Adelson, whose synagogue, Beth Shalom, is less than a mile from Tree of Life. ‘The customs that we fulfill at this time are really helpful for those who have suffered a loss.’ In the face of extraordinary tragedy—the deadliest attack on Jews in American history, according to the Anti-Defamation League—ordinary rituals help Jews grieve.”
  2. ‘God Is Going to Have to Forgive Me’: Young Evangelicals Speak Out (Elizabeth Dias, New York Times): “With just days left before the midterm elections — two years after President Trump won the White House with a record share of white, evangelical support — we asked young evangelicals to tell The Times about the relationship between their faith and their politics.” These are interesting interviews, although I suspect a skew in the sample.
  3. The Big and Small World of Bible Geography (David Barrett, The Gospel Coalition): “As I have studied and mapped the events of Scripture over the years, I have been struck by an intriguing paradox: The world of the Bible was at the same time very small and very large.” Recommended for the pictures even more than the text.
  4. What Progressives Can Learn From Michael Avenatti’s Mistake (Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic): “Insofar as Democrats are convinced that America is a white-supremacist patriarchy, that racism and sexism were the decisive factors costing Democrats the 2016 election, and that fascism is nigh, you can see how they would conclude that a Cory Booker or an Elizabeth Warren can’t really best Trump, or would face much longer odds than a white man, and that winning should be the priority. Conjure in your mind an institutionally racist, white-supremacist patriarchy. Does its popularly elected president look like Kamala Harris?” This is the most provocatively insightful thing I read this week.
    • Not really related, just similarly provocative: The Real Reason They Hate Trump (David Gelernter, Wall Street Journal): “The difference between citizens who hate Mr. Trump and those who can live with him—whether they love or merely tolerate him—comes down to their views of the typical American: the farmer, factory hand, auto mechanic, machinist, teamster, shop owner, clerk, software engineer, infantryman, truck driver, housewife.” The author is a professor of computer science at Yale..
  5. Free rent in Seattle, no catch: Landlords’ faith inspired a gift for tenants (Mike Rosenberg, Seattle Times): “They’re also devout Pentecostal Christians. When Slaatthaug, a 74-year-old retired carpenter, does repairs at the building, he drives there in a Jeep with a 4‑foot-tall Bible on top. The Old Testament has a passage about the year of jubilee — every 50 years, debts are to be forgiven. So Slaatthaug and Bambrick are celebrating the family’s 50 years as property owners by doing something unheard of for a landlord: For the month of November, everyone in the 11-unit building goes rent-free.”
  6. Kissing Purity Culture Goodbye (Abigail Rine Favale, First Things): “Christianity does not offer mere prescriptions; it offers a worldview, one centered on a God who descended into our bodily nature and thereby vivified it. Within the context of this worldview, the sexual mores of Christianity become compelling, connected as they are to the cosmos as a whole. Removed from this context, they enslave.”
  7. Lack Of Attention To Chinese Interpol Chief’s Disappearance Shows The Khashoggi Furor’s Fakery (Ben Weingarten, The Federalist): “Why do certain individual victims of tyrannical regimes become cause célèbres, worthy of dramatically altering U.S. foreign policy, while others disappear into the ether? …concurrent with the Khashoggi affair, Meng, the president of Interpol, also disappeared, and may have succumbed to a similarly grim fate at the hands of Chinese henchmen. Let me repeat that: The president of Interpol, the world’s largest international police organization, disappeared.” I dislike the title of this piece and the way it frames a few things, but it raises a very important point.

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 Sister… Show Mercy! (Dan Phillips, Team Pyro): “Sister, if there’s one thing you and I can certainly agree on, it’s this: I don’t know what it’s like to be a woman, and you don’t know what it’s like to be a man. We’re both probably wrong where we’re sure we’re right, try as we might. So let me try to dart a telegram from my camp over to the distaff side.” (first shared in volume 148)

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.