Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 155

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 Problem with Dull Knives: What’s the Defense Department got to do with Code for America? (Jennifer Pahlka, Medium): “I have a distinct memory of being a kid in the kitchen with my mom, awkwardly and probably dangerously wielding a knife, trying to cut some tough vegetable, and defending my actions by saying the knife was dull anyway. My mom stopped me and said firmly, ‘Jenny, a dull knife is much more dangerous than a sharp knife. You’re struggling and using much more force than you should, and that knife is going to end up God Knows Where.’ She was right, of course…. But having poor tools [for the military] doesn’t make us fight less; it makes us fight badly.” (some emphasis in the original removed). Highly recommended.
  2. Number One in Poverty, California Isn’t Our Most Progressive State — It’s Our Most Racist One (Michael Shellenberger, Forbes): “If racism is more than just saying nasty things — if it is, as scholars like James Baldwin, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Michelle Alexander and countless others have described, embedded into socioeconomic structures — then California isn’t just the least progressive state. It’s also the most racist.” Annoyingly split into seven sections, but worthwhile. The author was a gubernatorial candidate, but he did not make the general election.
  3. This week the Supreme Court, in a 7–2 decision, vindicated the Colorado baker who refused to bake a cake for a gay wedding. A lot of ink was spilled in response:
    • Colorado Made the Masterpiece Case Easy for the Court (Robert P. George, New York Times): “This much, however, is clear: Business owners and others have no obligation under the Constitution, nor can one be imposed by statute, to confine their religion to the private domain. On the contrary, they have the constitutional right to proclaim and act on their religious beliefs in the public domain, including in the domain of commerce.” The author is a law professor at Princeton.
    • Symposium: Masterpiece Cakeshop — not as narrow as may first appear (Douglas Laycock and Thomas Berg, SCOTUSblog): “The Supreme Court has announced a powerful ideal. Even when a law has no explicit exceptions, hostile enforcement is unconstitutional. Single-issue agencies that enforce state civil-rights laws must approach claims to religious exemptions with tolerance and respect. And this is apparently an absolute rule; the court does not consider whether hostility might be justified by some state interest, compelling or otherwise.”
    • Social Conservatism After Masterpiece Cakeshop (Sohrab Ahmari, Commentary Magazine): “Reducing traditional beliefs to a matter of religious freedom carries other risks. It allows progressives to frame traditional positions, which are rooted in reason and natural law, as a kind of idiosyncrasy or superstition…. Defending traditional morality on the basis of religious liberty alone, in other words, risks cornering religious conservatives in the long-term. The alternative, of course, isn’t to give up on religious freedom. That defensive battle must continue to be fought. But religious conservatives should also go on the offensive and once more formulate a substantive politics of the common good.”
    • In Masterpiece Cakeshop, Justice Kennedy Strikes a Blow for the Dignity of the Faithful (David French, National Review): “the Court did not issue the sweeping free-speech ruling that many advocates hoped for and others feared. Instead it issued a ruling that reminded state authorities that people of faith have the exact same rights — and are entitled to the exact same treatment — as people of different faith or no faith at all. And it did so in an opinion that decisively rejected the exact talking points so favored by the anti-religious left.”
    • No Victory For Religious Liberty (Darel E. Paul, First Things): “Only profound naïveté can spin the majority decision as a victory for religious liberty.”
    • Against The Masterpiece Cakeshop Killjoys (David French, National Review): a strong response to the above piece and a few others.
    • Why The Masterpiece Ruling Is Truly A Major Win For Religious Liberty (John Eastman, The Federalist): “In short, Masterpiece Cakeshop is the first post-Smith Free Exercise decision where the Supreme Court applied strict scrutiny to a neutral, generally applicable law that was not designed to target religion. Rather, strict scrutiny was triggered because of how the law was applied against religious objectors.” The author is a law professor at Chapman College and a senior fellow at the Claremont Institute.
    • This has not settled the issue, though. Religious Liberty: Not A Piece of Cake (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “we have our first court ruling on religious liberty since Masterpiece Cakeshop. An Arizona appeals court even cited the ruling in its own ruling against two Phoenix calligraphers who said that doing same-sex wedding invitations was a violation of their constitutionally protected religious beliefs.” This will no doubt be appealed, but is interesting nonetheless. There is massive hostility in some circles against religious freedom in general and specifically against the freedom of evangelical Christians and traditional Catholics to publicly live as though their faith is true.
  4. In related news: CrossFit Just Fired Its Spokesperson Who Said LGBT Pride Is A “Sin” (Stephanie M. Lee, Buzzfeed): “Berger had also said, ‘The tactics of some in the LGBTQ movement toward dissent is an existential threat to freedom of expression.’ In response to a Twitter user who pushed back, he wrote, ‘Thankfully I work for a company that tolerates disagreement. I have homosexual coworkers who I love and respect, and as far as I am aware, they aren’t demanding I be punished for my views.’”
    • In response, The Greengrocers Of CrossFit Gyms (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “Gay activists and their supporters among the gym’s employees destroyed this Christian’s business, not because he wouldn’t allow gays to work out at the gym, but because he would not permit them to celebrate gay Pride there. They shattered his business overnight without filing a charge or a lawsuit, but solely by using the power of stigma and collective action.”
  5. Reading Dangerously (Ian Marcus Corbin, Weekly Standard): “I currently split my professional life between academia and the Boston art world, the most liberal corners of the most liberal state of the union. I can’t speak strongly enough about the beauty and kindness of the black, Jewish, Hispanic, gay, transgender, feminist, socialist people whom I count as colleagues and friends here. They are deep, sensitive, searching souls. As a straight, white, able-bodied male, though—one who has even occasionally voted for Republicans—I am, on paper, a perfect storm of privilege and prejudice. Perhaps shockingly, my colleagues and I have managed to treat each other with respect and at times even deep friendship and care.”
  6. Identity Questions (Ron Belgau, Spiritual Friendship): “ ‘Identity’ is borrowed from the surrounding secular culture. It has displaced terms, like ‘nature’ and ‘calling,’ which have deep roots in the Bible and in the history of Christian thought. This displacement has made it more difficult for Christians to think clearly about what it means to be transformed in Christ.” This is from several years ago and was brought to my attention via a Twitter thread. Belgau is a fascinating guy — a former software engineer turned philosopher who is attracted to other men and is convinced those temptations are sinful.
  7. When The Punishment Feels Like A Crime (Julia Ioffe, Huffington Post): “Dauber may be a hero to many Stanford students, but when I visited the campus in April, I discovered that much of the faculty does not feel the same way. Twenty-nine Stanford Law professors have signed a letter against the recall.” This is a long and amazing article about the Persky recall campaign written before the vote.
    • Related: The recall of the judge who sentenced Brock Turner will end up hurting poor, minority defendants (Rachel Marshall, Vox): “…in this country, we have an epidemic of wrongful convictions, yet never have I heard of a public outcry to recall or vote against a judge who presided over a case in which an innocent client was convicted or sentenced. In contrast, as we have just seen, a sentence perceived as too light not only will make headlines but could cost a judge his job.” The author is a Stanford Law School grad.
    • In case you missed it, Persky was recalled in the elections this week.

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

  • This guy is a chef in the White House (twitter). This is real. Google for “jacked White House chef.” Wow. Every outlandish action-adventure movie premise just became more plausible.
  • Great Chuck Norris Facts (imgur): I know these jokes have been around for years… but some here are new to me. My favorite: “Chuck Norris and Superman once fought each other on a bet. The loser had to start wearing their underwear on the outside of their pants.”
  • Moron or Genius? (Pearls Before Swine)

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have The Land of We All (Richard Mitchell, The Gift of Fire), an essay  built on this insight: “Thinking can not be done corporately. Nations and committees can’t think. That is not only because they have no brains, but because they have no selves, no centers, no souls, if you like. Millions and millions of persons may hold the same thought, or conviction or suspicion, but each and every person of those millions must hold it all alone.” (first shared in volume 2) This is one of the more important things I’ve shared. 

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 146

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. Everyone Got The Pulse Massacre Story Completely Wrong (Melissa Jeltsen, Huffington Post): “…in acquitting Salman, 31, on Friday, a jury also delivered a verdict on the story we’d told ourselves about the killings: We’d gotten it wrong. In the wake of the shooting, the media and public focused on certain details, many of which were later determined to be unfounded, and discounted others, like Mateen’s own explanation for his actions.” This is a must-read. It’s amazing how wrong the cultural consensus is. 
  2. Altered Brain Developmental Trajectories in Adolescents After Initiating Drinking (Adolf Pfefferbaum, et al, American Journal of Psychiatry): Initiation of drinking during adolescence, with or without marijuana co-use, disordered normal brain growth trajectories.” Adolescence is defined as up to 21 in this study, which means most college students should be far more leery of alcohol than they are. 
  3. “Engaging the Culture” Doesn’t Work Because Christian Beliefs Are a Mark of Low Status (Dean Abbot, Patheos): “Evangelicals sought to engage the culture by being relevant, by creating works of art, by offering good arguments for their positions. None of these addressed the real problem: that Christian belief simply isn’t cool, and that very few people want to lower their social status by identifying publicly with it.”
    • See also his follow-up Traditional Christian Belief and Low Social Status: Four Responses: “The cultural shift that dislodged traditional Christianity from its place as the foundation of American culture has provoked a number of responses among believers. Though these responses may seem infinitely varied on the surface, the bulk of them can actually be categorized under four headings: accommodation, appeasement, acceptance and aggression.”
    • And the sequel to that, The Low Social Status of Christian Belief Is Part of a Larger Problem: “In Christianity’s place, a new default religion stands. In this system, the human problem is lack of liberty, specifically the lack of liberty for each individual to determine his own values, purpose and morals. The solution is to liberate others by advocating, even in an abstract and risk-free way, for ‘social justice.’”
  4. Plumbers and Priests (Tony Woodlief, personal blog): “I don’t know how I got to the point where I’m inclined to disbelieve anything an academic claims. I’m not anti-intellectual. I read stuff. I even hold a PhD, and a Master of Fine Arts on top of that. I can show you mathematically why a single-member plurality voting system tends to yield two major parties, and for the chaser I can hit you with an explication of the roots of literary modernism.… [and yet] the fact is I don’t have any confidence in those N.C. State findings.” The author has a Ph.D. in political science. I almost didn’t include this one, but I can’t stop thinking about it.
  5. ‘I Know I Will Be Criticized’: The Latino Evangelical Who Advises Trump on Immigration (Laurie Goodstein, New York Times):  “Mr. Rodriguez represents a growing segment of the evangelical movement, and one that is often overlooked in all the attention paid to the white evangelicals serving as Mr. Trump’s cheerleaders. One in four evangelicals in the United States is now an immigrant or the child of one. In the younger generation of evangelicals, there are now more Hispanic people than non-Hispanic whites.” Disclosure: I have met Sammy but don’t know him. We’re in the same denomination.
  6. Some news from the global church:
      • Missionaries at border spread Christianity to North Korea (Hyung-jin Kim And Gerry Shih, AP News): “Among the missionaries and pastors killed under mysterious circumstances in recent years is the Rev. Han Chung-ryeol, a Chinese pastor of Korean descent who headed a front-line church in the Chinese border town of Changbai before he was found dead of multiple stab wounds and a punctured skull in April 2016, raising suspicions that North Korea was involved.”
      • China Bans Bibles from Online Sellers Like Amazon (Morgan Lee, Christianity Today):  “Two days before the Bibles were banned from online purchase, the Chinese government released a document outlining how it intends to promote ‘Chinese Christianity’ over the next five years. According to the document, one of the government’s key objectives is to reinterpret and retranslate the Bible in order to enhance ‘Chinese-style Christianity and theology.’”
      • Meet the First Female Evangelical Presidential Candidate of Colombia (Deann Alford, Christianity Today): “My public participation follows a biblical model. The Bible teaches that we must be witnesses of the Lord whenever we are. In the last century, US missionaries taught that politics was of the devil, and the church here was apathetic. Fortunately, we’re waking up. But we must wake up properly, mindful to not confuse the church with a political party.”
      • Conservative Christian Singer Loses Costa Rica Presidential Race (Morgan Lee, Christianity Today): “The evangelical candidate had emerged from obscurity to take a plurality of the vote in the first round of the presidential race…. Despite his loss, Alvarado Muñoz’s success is ‘a cultural game changer,’ says Douglass Sullivan-González, a University of Mississippi Honors College dean who has done religious research in Central America. ‘[Evangélicos] are now going to be seen a political challenge thanks to the success of Fabricio Alvarado, said Sullivan-González.”
  7. Two related articles by the Chairman of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (he is also a professor of political science at Villanova).
    • Religious Totalitarianism, Secular Totalitarianism, and Other Threats to International Religious Freedom (Daniel Mark, The Public Discourse): “Serving on USCIRF, which monitors and reports on the worst religious freedom situations in the world, I am acutely aware of how our challenges at home pale in comparison to what goes on abroad. But the lesson from this is not what you think. It’s not that we should feel so good as to become complacent about our own present circumstances. On the contrary, the painful international scene should be an ever-present reminder to us of how rare, how precious, and how vulnerable religious freedom is—and how vigilant we must be in defending it.” 
    • Domestic Challenges to Religious Liberty From Left and Right (Daniel Mark, The Public Discourse): “One central consequence of this denial of human nature is that it leads ineluctably to a denial of human rights. Without a firm view of human nature, we cannot construct a coherent account of human rights. I am aware, of course, that the people I have in mind here claim all sorts of things in the name of human rights. But the new menu of human rights is selective, subjective, and, finally, indefensible.”  

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

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

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

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

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 143

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. I’m a scholar of the “prosperity gospel.” It took cancer to show me I was in its grip. (Kate Bowler, Vox): “Every day I pray the same prayer: God, save me. Save me. Save me. Oh, God, remember my baby boy. Remember my son and my husband before you return me to ashes. Before they walk this earth alone. I plead with a God of Maybe, who may or may not let me collect more years. It is a God I love, and a God that breaks my heart.” The author is a professor at Duke Divinity School.
  2. Two intriguing articles on the transgender movement in America:
    • The Disappearance of Desire (Sohrab Ahmari, Commentary Magazine):  “Sexuality is a bodily experience. It stretches credulity to suggest that a trans person’s decision to alter his or her sexed body has nothing to do with what he or she wishes to do with that body—and whom he or she wishes to attract. Yet, as with gender itself, the trans activists treat sexual desire as an abstract and disembodied thing.”
    • Divorcing The Transgender Community (Gretchen Rachel Hammond, Tablet Magazine): the language in this one is uncouth. “It was then that I began to notice that those transgender people who started to speak out as an activist, journalist, celebrity, organizer, commentator or even via a social media post were coming under attack, not just from the usual crowd of Evangelical Conservative hysterics, but increasingly and unnervingly from their own community.”
  3. For the lawyers: Disagreement is Not Always Discrimination: On Masterpiece Cakeshop and the Analogy to Interracial Marriage (Ryan Anderson, Georgetown Journal of Law and Public Policy): “Colorado is part of a larger national trend in which authorities are using antidiscrimination statutes as swords to punish already marginalized people (such as supporters of the conjugal understanding of marriage), rather than as shields to protect people from unjust discrimination (such as African Americans in the wake of Jim Crow and today).… support for marriage as the union of husband and wife is essentially different from opposition to interracial marriage, and that the status of African Americans is importantly different from that of Americans who identify as gay. As a result, First Amendment protections for people who act on the belief that marriage unites husband and wife differ in critical ways from hypothesized First Amendment protections for racists—and the courts can distinguish the two cases…. protections for citizens who support the conjugal understanding of marriage bear much more similarity to protections for pro-life citizens.”
  4. The Ignoble Lie (Patrick Deneen, First Things): “This helps explain the strange and often hysterical insistence upon equality emanating from our nation’s most elite and exclusive institutions. The most absurd recent instance was Harvard University’s official effort to eliminate social clubs due to their role in ‘enacting forms of privilege and exclusion at odds with our deepest values,’ in the words of its president. Harvard’s opposition to exclusion sits comfortably with its admissions rate of 5 percent (2,056 out of 40,000 applicants in 2017). The denial of privilege and exclusion seems to increase in proportion to an institution’s exclusivity.” The author is a professor of Constitutional Studies at Notre Dame.
  5. Sex, Lies, and Spies (Darrell Cole, Providence): “Once the case for employing a spy in the first place has been made, the question of how to spy comes into focus, and thus one of the major moral problems for spies is trying to make a case that lying and sex are just (combat) tactics…. We can make a clear and convincing case that the Christian tradition may support the idea that lies told for the public good are justifiable. When spies tell such lies in the line of duty, their deceptions fall into that category and, so, are justifiable. Can the same be said for sex in the line of duty? Can manipulative sex for the public good be justifiable?” A fascinating discussion of a question that had never crossed my mind. The author is an ethics professor at Drew University.
  6. The Last Temptation (Michael Gerson, The Atlantic): “In a remarkably free country, many evangelicals view their rights as fragile, their institutions as threatened, and their dignity as assailed. The single largest religious demographic in the United States—representing about half the Republican political coalition—sees itself as a besieged and disrespected minority. In this way, evangelicals have become simultaneously more engaged and more alienated…. It is true that insofar as Christian hospitals or colleges have their religious liberty threatened by hostile litigation or government agencies, they have every right to defend their institutional identities—to advocate for a principled pluralism. But this is different from evangelicals regarding themselves, hysterically and with self-pity, as an oppressed minority that requires a strongman to rescue it. This is how Trump has invited evangelicals to view themselves.” The author worked in the Bush White House and describes himself as an evangelical.
    • In response: The True Sin of American Evangelicals in the Age of Trump (David French, National Review): “it matters exactly how Evangelicals arrived where they are today. It wasn’t the hysterical reaction of a self-pitying people. For most it was the sad result of a series of tough choices — made in response to difficult and unreasonable challenges. Even today there are millions of Evangelicals — people who still count themselves reluctant Trump supporters — who are deeply uneasy with the president and the state of their own religious movement. It serves no one’s interests to minimize the legitimacy of their deep political concern.”
    • My take: Gerson’s essay is very good and French adds a needed perspective. Bonus quote from Gerson’s essay: “The banishment of fundamentalism from the cultural mainstream culminated dramatically in a Tennessee courthouse in 1925. William Jennings Bryan, the most prominent Christian politician of his time, was set against Clarence Darrow and the theory of evolution at the Scopes ‘monkey trial,’ in which a Tennessee educator was tried for teaching the theory in high school. Bryan won the case but not the country. The journalist and critic H. L. Mencken provided the account accepted by history, dismissing Bryan as ‘a tin pot pope in the Coca-Cola belt and a brother to the forlorn pastors who belabor half-wits in galvanized iron tabernacles behind the railroad yards.’ Fundamentalists became comic figures, subject to world-class condescension. It has largely slipped the mind of history that Bryan was a peace activist as secretary of state under Woodrow Wilson and that his politics foreshadowed the New Deal. And Mencken was eventually revealed as a racist, an anti-Semite, and a eugenics advocate.” Emphasis mine. I consider myself fairly well-informed about American religious history and found the bolded details surprising.
  7. The real Down syndrome problem: Accepting genocide (George Will, Washington Post): “Iceland must be pleased that it is close to success in its program of genocide, but before congratulating that nation on its final solution to the Down syndrome problem, perhaps it might answer a question: What is this problem? To help understand why some people might ask this question, meet two children. One is Agusta, age 8, a citizen of Iceland. The other is Lucas, age 1, an American citizen in Dalton, Ga., who recently was selected to be 2018 ‘Spokesbaby’ for the Gerber baby food company. They are two examples of the problem. Now, before Iceland becomes snippy about the description of what it is doing, let us all try to think calmly about genocide, without getting judgmental about it. It is simply the deliberate, systematic attempt to erase a category of people. So, what one thinks about a genocide depends on what one thinks about the category involved. In Iceland’s case, the category is people with Down syndrome.”
    • Related: a Facebook post from one of our sophomores (shared with his permission): “My parents were told that I would be born with down syndrome and advised to abort me. In response my father pulled us out of the hospital’s mandatory counseling program, spent a lot of time in prayer, and decided emphatically that I would be born. I had no say in the matter, as I was too small to communicate or understand. I couldn’t cry or plead for my life. I couldn’t even look the people in the eyes who wanted to kill me. 20 years later, I have my God and my parents to thank for defending me, defending an unborn child wrongly accused of a crime that carried a death sentence: a defect. My parents had no idea exactly where God wanted to take me, but because of their defense, I’m here, down syndrome free, sitting in a classroom at Stanford University.” (source) By the way, he was was not only admitted to Stanford. He was admitted to every single Ivy League school.

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 McCardle, 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). (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 138

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. How to read books efficiently in grad school (Thomas Kidd, personal newsletter): “Here’s the method I recommend for reading a book efficiently: read every word of the introduction and conclusion of a book. Then read the introduction and conclusion of each chapter word-for-word. Within each chapter, read the first and last sentence of each body paragraph. Slow down when it gets interesting, or when the author hits on your particular research interest.” Kidd is a history professor at Baylor University. There is a lengthier article with related thoughts titled Efficient Reading by Karin Wulf, a history professor at William and Mary.
  2. The Anti-Christian Alt-Right (Matthew Rose, First Things): “Almost everything written about the ‘alternative right’ in mainstream outlets is wrong in one respect. The alt-right is not stupid. It is deep. Its ideas are not ridiculous. They are serious. To appreciate this fact, one needs to inquire beyond its presence on social media, where its obnoxious use of insult, obscenity, and racism has earned it a reputation for moral idiocy. The reputation is deserved, but do not be deceived. Behind its online tantrums and personal attacks are arguments of genuine power and expanding appeal…. The alt-right is anti-Christian. Not by implication or insinuation, but by confession. Its leading thinkers flaunt their rejection of Christianity and their desire to convert believers away from it.”
  3. News To A Foreign Country (David Warren, personal blog): “The State has its religion, we have ours. So long as we remain meek and obedient, to anything we are required to sign, the Antichrist himself wouldn’t care what we think. The trouble arises only when we fail to sign, salute, or check the right boxes. That is, from the Antichrist’s point of view, a form of defiance that requires punishment — a punishment that we have brought upon ourselves, as will be condescendingly explained.” This is a transcribed speech by a Canadian journalist, and it is extremely fiery and very Catholic.
  4. Transgender Ideology Is Riddled With Contradictions. Here Are the Big Ones. (Ryan T Anderson, Heritage): “If gender is a social construct, how can gender identity be innate and immutable? How can one’s identity with respect to a social construct be determined by biology in the womb? How can one’s identity be unchangeable (immutable) with respect to an ever-changing social construct? And if gender identity is innate, how can it be ‘fluid’?”
  5. Massacre in Myanmar (Wa Lone, Kyaw Soe Oo, Simon Lewis and Antoni Slodkowski, Reuters):  “Reuters has pieced together what happened in Inn Din in the days leading up to the killing of the 10 Rohingya – eight men and two high school students in their late teens. Until now, accounts of the violence against the Rohingya in Rakhine state have been provided only by its victims. The Reuters reconstruction draws for the first time on interviews with Buddhist villagers who confessed to torching Rohingya homes, burying bodies and killing Muslims. This account also marks the first time soldiers and paramilitary police have been implicated by testimony from security personnel themselves.”
  6. Should We Say “Of Course” To Feminism? (Annika Nordquist, Stanford Review): “…I would challenge all critically-thinking feminists to ask the same question I asked my friend: if this movement doesn’t welcome me, my opinions, or my solutions, why would I want to be part of it?” Yes, this is our Annika.
  7. Is There a Smarter Way to Think About Sexual Assault on Campus?  (Jia Tollentino, The New Yorker):  “In college, everything is Janus-faced: what you interpret as refuge can lead to danger, and vice versa. One of the most highly valorized social activities, blacking out and hooking up, holds the potential for trauma within it like a seed.”
  8. What Teenagers Are Learning From Online Porn (Maggie Jones, New York Times): “But you don’t have to believe that porn leads to sexual assault or that it’s creating a generation of brutal men to wonder how it helps shape how teenagers talk and think about sex and, by extension, their ideas about masculinity, femininity, intimacy and power.” This article uses graphic imagery.
  9. How Chinese overseas students are learning harsh life lessons (Eric Fish, South China Morning Post):   “Interviews with Chinese students studying abroad and academics who research their attitudes present a complex picture – one in which students enter and leave with diverse views and identities that often defy clear loyalties or ideological labels. But nevertheless, many feel caught in the geopolitical crossfire – forced to choose a side or keep their heads down.”

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 This Is What Makes Republicans and Democrats So Different (Vox, Ezra Klein): the title made me skeptical, but it’s insightful (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.

Archives at http://glenandpaula.com/wordpress/category/links.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 130

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. There is a small but vocal group of skeptics who claim that Jesus never existed. Larry Hurtado, a professor of early Christianity, takes them down in a series of blog posts.
    • Why The Mythical Jesus Claim Has No Traction With Scholars (Larry Hurtado, personal blog): “The attempts to deny Jesus’ historical existence are, for anyone acquainted with the relevant evidence, blatantly silly.”
    • Focus, Focus, Focus! (Larry Hurtado, personal blog): “Another reader seems greatly exercised over how much of the Jesus-tradition Paul recounts in his letters, and how much Paul may have known…. Paul ascribes to Jesus a human birth, a ministry among fellow Jews, an execution specifically by Roman crucifixion, named/known siblings, and other named individuals who were Jesus’ original companions (e.g., Kephas/Peter, John Zebedee).  Indeed, in Paul’s view, it was essential that Jesus is a real human, for the resurrected Jesus is Paul’s model and proto-type of the final redemption that Paul believes God will bestow on all who align themselves with Jesus.”
    • Gee, Dr. Carrier, You’re Really Upset! (Larry Hurtado, personal blog): “This example will adequately serve to illustrate why Carrier’s work hasn’t had any impact in scholarly circles.  He gets himself into a muddle.”
  2. Four Questions About American Greatness (Bret Stephens, New York Times): Difficult to excerpt but good. Stephens says America is great and that to retain our greatness we must have a proper attitude toward immigrants, independent thinking, failure, and global leadership. Recommended by a friend — thank you!
  3. A Police Killing Without a Hint of Racism (Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic): “No unjust killing of a black person should go uncovered. But I suspect it would be in everyone’s interest if journalists and activists paid more attention to egregious police killings of white people. If you’re horrified by Daniel Shaver’s untimely death, yet against Black Lives Matter, consider that Shaver might well be alive if only the Mesa police department had long ago adopted reforms of the sort that Black Lives Matter suggests.” There is a follow-up article — Footage Of A Police Shooting Jurors Chose Not To Punish.
  4. The world is relying on a flawed psychological test to fight racism (Olivia Goldhill, Quartz): “meta-analyses showed that the [Implicit Association Test] is no better at predicting discriminatory behavior (including microaggressions) than explicit measures of explicit bias, such as the Modern Racism Scale, which evaluates racism simply by asking participants to state their level of agreement with [racist statements].”
  5. Survey: Evangelical Label, Beliefs Often At Odds (Bob Smietana, Baptist Press): “Fewer than half of those who identify as evangelicals (45 percent) strongly agree with core evangelical beliefs…. Only two-thirds (69 percent) of evangelicals by belief self-identify as evangelicals.” This is important to remember both when reading the news and when talking with others — the label evangelical doesn’t mean what it should. Usefully illustrated in visual form on Twitter.
  6. The Origin of Silicon Valley’s Dysfunctional Attitude Toward Hate Speech (Noam Cohen, The New Yorker): “Censoring a newsgroup, he explained to those who might not be familiar with Usenet, was like pulling a book from circulation. Since ‘Mein Kampf’ was still on the library shelves, it was hard to imagine how anything else merited removal.” The article is about Stanford, and it led me to entirely different conclusions than the author intended.
  7. The Church’s Fate Is Not Electoral: Our Roy Moore Moment (Greg Forster, Gospel Coalition): ”There are no Flight 93 moments for the church; there never have been and never will be. Certainly God’s people will continue to face persecution from worldly powers, as we always have. But the idea that we have to compromise moral standards in order to prevent the destruction of the church reflects an appalling failure to grasp where the church’s fate really lies. The church’s fate is not electoral; it’s eschatological. The church’s triumph over its enemies comes with the King’s return.”
  8. The Supreme Court heard arguments on Tuesday about the Colorado baker who refuses to bake cakes for events he find objectionable — including gay weddings.
    • Argument analysis: Conservative majority leaning toward ruling for Colorado baker (Amy Howe, SCOTUSblog): “Although making predictions based on oral argument is always dangerous, it seemed very possible that there are five votes for Phillips among the court’s more conservative justices, even if it is less clear how broadly they will rule.”
    • A Baker’s First Amendment Rights (Robert P. George and Sherif Girgis, New York Times): “You need the First Amendment precisely when your ideas offend others or flout the majority’s orthodoxies. And then it protects more than your freedom to speak your mind; it guards your freedom not to speak the mind of another.”
    • We’re lawyers who support same-sex marriage. We also support the Masterpiece Cakeshop baker. (Douglas Laycock & Thomas Berg, Vox): “The case tests the nation’s commitment to liberty and justice for all. And we aren’t doing well on the part about ‘for all.’ Too many Americans, left and right, religious and secular, want liberty for their own side in the culture wars, but not for the other side.” The authors are not just lawyers — they are professors of constitutional law.
    • How Not To Advance Gay Marriage (David Brooks, New York Times): “If you want to know why we have such a polarized, angry and bitter society, one reason is we take every disagreement that could be addressed in conversation and community and we turn it into a lawsuit. We take every morally supple situation and we hand it over to the legal priesthood, which by necessity is a system of technocratic rationalism, strained slippery-slope analogies and implied coercion.”

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 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.” 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.

Archives at http://glenandpaula.com/wordpress/category/links.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 129

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 homeless who help themselves get a needed lift (Kevin Kelly, San Jose Mercury News): “LifeMoves, formerly known as InnVision Shelter Network, is a 44-year-old [Bay Area] nonprofit that specializes in getting individuals into temporary housing and on a path to permanent housing. It claims a 93 percent success rate of getting homeless families housed and self-sufficient, and a 72 percent success rate with individuals. There is just one caveat: People who receive assistance — referred to as clients — must demonstrate a willingness to better themselves.”
    • Related: 5 Harsh Realities Of Homeless Camps Nobody Talks About (Evan Symon, Cracked): “If you live in a major American city, you’ve probably seen your fair share of homeless camps. They usually crop up in empty lots, parks, and Big Rock Candy Mountains. City governments generally have them torn down and cleaned up whenever they can. Leaving aside whether or not that’s the right way to address homelessness, somebody has to do the work of cleaning those places up. Our source, Carol, did just that.”
  2. People for sale: Where lives are auctioned for $400 (Nima Elbagir, Raja Razek, Alex Platt and Bryony Jones, CNN). There is a text story at the link, but the embedded seven minute video is worth watching, especially the first four minutes. This is a horrifying development in the migrant crisis — slave auctions.
  3. How To Think About Vladimir Putin (Christopher Caldwell, Imprimis): “When Putin took power in the winter of 1999–2000, his country was defenseless. It was bankrupt. It was being carved up by its new kleptocratic elites, in collusion with its old imperial rivals, the Americans. Putin changed that…. Russian people not only tolerate him, they revere him. You can get a better idea of why he has ruled for 17 years if you remember that, within a few years of Communism’s fall, average life expectancy in Russia had fallen below that of Bangladesh. ” This is a slightly older article, and so his comments about Russia’s role in the U.S. election aren’t very current. His broader observations are worth pondering.
  4. The Supreme Court hears arguments about the Christian baker who refused to bake a cake for a gay wedding on Tuesday. Lots of people are writing about it.
      • Against the baker: The Christian Legal Army Behind ‘Masterpiece Cakeshop’ (Sarah Posner, The Nation): “On December 5, with the full force of the United States government behind it, ADF will be asking the Supreme Court to carve out yawning exemptions from civil-rights laws for conservative Christians.” (this is less about the case and more about the firm representing the baker — it’s a hit piece but is full of interesting info)
      • Against the baker: The Masterpiece Cakeshop Case Is Not About Religious Freedom (Jennifer Finney Boylan, New York Times): “But Masterpiece has nothing to do with religious freedom. It’s about enshrining a freedom to discriminate. Historically, religious exemptions from the law have occasionally been granted to protect the person who holds the belief. But this case is different, in that it gives an individual the right to harm someone else. And that’s what the Masterpiece case is about: It would give individuals the right to discriminate.” The author is an English professor at Barnard College.
      • Against the baker: The Gay Wedding Cake Case Isn’t About Free Speech (Andrew Koppelman, The American Prospect).”It is merely telling him that if he sells any products to heterosexual couples, he must sell the same products to same-sex couples. He is free to refuse to write ‘Support Gay Marriage’ on any cakes that he sells, so long as he refuses that to both gay and heterosexual customers. So this is an easy case. Phillips should lose.“ The author is a law professor at Northwestern. This is the strongest argument I have read against the Christian baker.
      • For the baker: Stop Misrepresenting Masterpiece Cakeshop (David French, National Review): “Phillips isn’t discriminating against a protected class. I’ll repeat this until I’m blue in the face. He serves gay customers.”
      • For the baker: The Christian Baker’s Unanswered Legal Argument: Why the Strongest Objections Fail (Sherif Girgis, Public Discourse): “Should an Islamophobic sect get to force Muslim caricaturists to sketch mocking images of the Prophet? Clearly not.” Disclaimer: Sherif was a roommate of one of our alumni and is an acquaintance of mine.
  5. Dueling perspectives on the family lives of blue state and red state Americans:
    • Blue States Practice the Family Values Red States Preach (Nicholas Kristof, New York Times): “The liberal impulse may be to gloat: Those conservatives thunder about ‘family values’ but don’t practice them. But there’s also perhaps a measure of hypocrisy in the blue states. As Cahn and Carbone put it: ‘Blue family values bristle at restrictions on sexuality, insistence on marriage or the stigmatization of single parents. Their secret, however, is that they encourage their children to simultaneously combine public tolerance with private discipline, and their children then overwhelmingly choose to raise their own children within two-parent families.’” Kristof is a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist who was a Rhodes Scholar and is on the Board of Overseers for Harvard University.
    • No, Republicans Aren’t Hypocrites on Family Values W. Bradford Wilcox and Vijay Menon, Politico): “In other words, even though Southerners in general are at greater risk of family instability than Northerners, Republicans in the South enjoy markedly higher levels of family stability than their fellow citizens—a family stability advantage that puts them above Democrats and independents in the North. Another way to put this: It’s blue and purple Americans in the South who are really pulling down family stability in the South, not red Americans.” Wilcox is a sociology prof at UVA, where Minon is also a grad student.
  6. We Didn’t Become Christians Because Of The Hucksters (Michael Wear, Fathom): “If the world criticizes the pride of someone who claims the name of Christ—or who won the votes of those who do—point them to Jesus, who was born into poverty, who instructed his followers to take the low position, and humbled himself on the way to the cross…. There is nothing so wrong with the poor example of Christians that can’t be solved by proclaiming the perfect example of Christ.”
  7.  Stanford can take Junipero Serra’s name off its buildings, but it can’t purge him from its history (Charlotte Allen, LA Times): “The Main Quad, part of a master plan designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead, imitates Serra’s missions (with some Romanesque touches). Besides the Mall and the boulevard, other campus streets are named after his friar-disciples (Lasuén and Francisco Palóu), as well as José de Gálvez, the inspector general for New Spain who facilitated Serra’s missionary work in Alta California. If the Stanford activists aim to obliterate Serra’s presence from their campus, they’ve got their work cut out for them.” I didn’t know Serra’s influence was so pervasive at 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 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.

Archives at http://glenandpaula.com/wordpress/category/links.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 120

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. Divine To Divided: How Occupy Central Split Hong Kong’s Christian Leaders (Jayson Albano, Marta Colombo And Maria Cristhin Kuiper, South China Morning Post): “Once on the street, he could see clearly. He could see the crowds forming, and he could see the mounting ranks of riot police. And when he saw those same policemen firing tear gas into the assembled masses one thing became clear in his mind: that his faith in God demanded he act.”
  2. The oldest human lived to 122. Why no person will likely break her record. (Brian Resnick, Vox): “The authors propose this is a built-in ‘natural limit’ to our longevity, an ‘inadvertent byproduct’ of our biology. And to increase the natural limit we’d need to fundamentally alter our genetics.”
    • This is based on a very readable piece in Nature Evidence for a limit to human lifespan (Xiao Dong, Brandon Milholland & Jan Vijg, Nature).
    • This finding reminds me of Genesis 6:3, “Then the Lord said, ‘My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.’”
  3. I used to support legalizing all drugs. Then the opioid epidemic happened. (German Lopez, Vox): “By the time I began as a drug policy reporter in 2010, I was all in on legalizing every drug, from marijuana to heroin and cocaine. It all seemed so obvious to me. Prohibition had failed…. Then I began reporting on the opioid epidemic.” FYI: this article is long: only read the first two sections unless you’re really into the subject.
  4. Authors’ note: Deep neural networks are more accurate than humans at detecting sexual orientation from facial images (Michal Kosinski and Yilun Wang, self-published on Google Docs): this note by two Stanford researchers to explain their recent paper is extremely interesting. “We used widely available off-the-shelf tools, publicly available data, and standard methods well known to computer vision practitioners. We did not create a privacy-invading tool, but rather showed that basic and widely used methods pose serious privacy threats.”
  5. I called Hugh Hefner a pimp, he threatened to sue. But that’s what he was. (Suzanne Moore, The Guardian): “But this man is still being celebrated by people who should know better. You can dress it up with talk of glamour and bunny ears and fishnets, you can talk about his contribution to gonzo journalism, you can contextualise his drive to free up sex as part of the sexual revolution. But strip it all back and he was a man who bought and sold women to other men.”
    • Conceptually related: STD rates hit another record high, with California near the top (Soumya Karlamangla, LA Times): “More than a quarter-million Californians were infected with either syphilis, chlamydia or gonorrhea last year, which constitutes a 40% jump compared with five years ago, state officials said.” I am often struck by the fact that STDs would effectively disappear in one generation if people obeyed the Bible.
    • Ditto: Pastoring Singles in a Sex-Crazed, Gender-Confused World (Juan Sanchez, Lifeway): “Celibate singleness is a gift from God with a purpose.” This one isn’t just for pastors — recommended to all singles.
  6. Colin Kaepernick vs. Tim Tebow: A tale of two Christians on their knees (Michael Frost, Washington Post): “They’re both Christian football players, and they’re both known for kneeling on the field, although for very different reasons. One grew up the son of Baptist missionaries to the Philippines. The other was baptized Methodist, confirmed Lutheran, and attended a Baptist church during college. Both have made a public display of their faith. Both are prayerful and devout.” It’s a clever piece, although you should also read the gentle criticism of it at Kaepernick vs. Tebow? Washington Post passes along flawed take on a crucial heresy (Terry Mattingly, GetReligion)
    • Interestingly, Kaepernick began kneeling after a meeting with a veteran who told him that merely sitting was direspectful. Kaepernick Meets With Veteran Nate Boyer, Then Kneels During Anthem (Under the Radar) (an article I found after an alumnus shared it on twitter this week — thanks, Hannah!)
    • The Abbie Hoffman of the Right: Donald Trump (David Brooks, New York Times): “The members of the educated class saw this past weekend’s N.F.L. fracas as a fight over racism. They felt mobilized and unified in that fight and full of righteous energy. Members of the working class saw the fracas as a fight about American identity. They saw Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin try to dissuade Alejandro Villanueva, a three-time combat veteran, from celebrating the flag he risked his life for. Members of this class also felt mobilized, unified and full of righteous energy.”
  7. A lot of you seemed to like the graphic I used in this week’s sermon. Here’s a thumbnail, you can download a high-res version from the source at Visual Theology: The Books of the Bible (Tim Challies).
Books of the Bible — Periodic Table

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 Every Place Has Detractors. Consider Where They’re Coming From.(Megan McCardle, Bloomerg 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). (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.

Archives at http://glenandpaula.com/wordpress/category/links.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 118

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. Eat, pray, live: the Lagos megachurches building their very own cities (Ruth Mclean, The Guardian): “Redemption Camp has 5,000 houses, roads, rubbish collection, police, supermarkets, banks, a fun fair, a post office – even a 25 megawatt power plant. In Nigeria, the line between church and city is rapidly vanishing.”
  2. An Open Letter to Ta-Nehisi Coates (Jason D. Hill, Commentary Magazine): a gay black man strongly believes in the American dream and takes issue with Coates’ disparagement of it. “I expected no special treatment because, as an American, I was already part of an exceptional process. My ideas, I had decided on the flight over, would one day be taught in colleges and universities. I will tell you presently the extent to which that willed decision became reality, and why it was possible only in the United States of America.” (incidentally, I featured an essay by Coates back in issue 80)
  3. The Question of Race in Campus Sexual-Assault Cases (Emily Yoffe, The Atlantic): “Kagle believes that men of color—and especially foreign men of color, students from Africa and Asia—were uniquely defenseless when charged with sexual assault, typically lacking financial resources, a network of support, and an understanding of their rights.” I linked Yoffe’s two previous articles in last week’s edition. They should be read in conjunction with Campus Rape, A Survivor’s Story (Bret Stephens, NY Times).
  4. They Serve Gay Clients All The Time. So Why Won’t They Cater A Same-Sex Wedding? (Josh Shepherd, The Federalist): “Phillips choked up with emotion as he continued: ‘You can’t serve God and money. I didn’t open this so I could make a lot of money. I opened it up so it would be a way that I could create my art, do the baking that I love and serve the God that I love in ways that would hopefully honor Him.’” See also Icing on the Cake: Justice Dept. Backs Christian Baker Bound for Supreme Court (Kate Shellnut, Christianity Today). The latter is tremendous news, and presumably due to the influence of Mike Pence.
  5. How Many Churches Does America Have? More Than Expected (Rebecca Randall, Christianity Today): “According to a recent paper published by sociologist Simon Brauer in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, the number of religious congregations in the United States has increased by almost 50,000 since 1998.” You can see the original research here — the researcher is a sociologist at Duke University. Interesting news. It’s almost like the gates of hell cannot prevail against the church. 
  6. Faith groups provide the bulk of disaster recovery, in coordination with FEMA (Paul Singer, USA Today):  “‘About 80% of all recovery happens because of non-profits, and the majority of them are faith-based,’ said Greg Forrester, CEO of the national VOAD. The money is ‘all raised by the individuals who go and serve, raised through corporate connections, raised through church connections,’ and amounts to billions of dollars worth of disaster recovery assistance, he said.”
  7. The Human Fetus Preferentially Engages with Face-like Visual Stimuli (Current Biology, Reid et al): apparently about a month and a half before birth babies can perceive faces through the uterine wall. You can read a popular summary of the research at Seeker: Human Fetuses Can See and React to Faces From Inside the Womb. I found this research both amazing and depressing. I wonder how many babies were excited to be making a new friend up until they were aborted.
  8. Harvard Calls Chelsea Manning Invite A ‘Mistake,’ Rescinds Fellowship Offer — Here’s What’s Going On (Benjamin Goggin, Digg). For a good explanation of reasons so many were opposed to this appointment, read When Transgender Trumps Treachery (James Kirchick, NY Times). Kirchick is gay, which makes his piece all the more interesting to read.

Things Glen Found Amusing

  • Magic 8 Ball (reddit)
  • Too Dumb To Understand (Dilbert)
  • A Frog Prince — Penn and Teller (Youtube)
  • Study: College Students Spend Far More Time Playing Than Studying (Megan Oprea, The Federalist): “The sad truth is that universities have begun to exist for the sake of their own existence, rather than the education of their undergrads. Meanwhile, students are taking their studies less and less seriously as they realize that they need only go through the motions to graduate and get on the job market, which is their ultimate goal. No wonder they’re spending their time on everything except their studies.” Disclaimer: yes, I know the numbers are different at Stanford. I also know you spend more time on non-academic activities than you think. #justsayin

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have Making Sense of the Numbers of Genesis [pdf link] (Carol Hill, Perspectives on Science and the Christian Faith): “Joseph and Joshua were each recorded as dying at age 110—a number considered ‘perfect’ by the Egyptians. In ancient Egyptian doctrine, the phrase ‘he died aged 110’ was actually an epitaph commemorating a life that had been lived selflessly and had resulted in outstanding social and moral benefit for others. And so for both Joseph and Joshua, who came out of the Egyptian culture, quoting this age was actually a tribute to their character. But, to be described as ‘dying at age 110’ bore no necessary relationship to the actual time of an individual’s life span.” You will not agree with everything in this article, but it is full of fascinating insights. (first shared in volume 51)

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 113

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. I Don’t Understand Christians Watching Game of Thrones (Kevin DeYoung, Gospel Coalition): “Does anyone really think that when Jesus warned against looking at a woman lustfully (Matt. 5:27), or when Paul told us to avoid every hint of sexual immorality and not even to speak of the things the world does in secret (Eph. 4:3–12), that somehow this meant, go ahead and watch naked men and women have (or pretend to have) sex?” I don’t always agree with everything I share here, but for the record I am 100% in agreement with the author. Softcore porn doesn’t cease to be softcore porn just because it has gripping dialog and cool special effects. For another (unpersuasive to me) perspective, read Seriously, ‘Game of Thrones’ made me a better Bible reader (Caryn Rivadeneira, Washington Post).
  2. Newsworthy Deaths (Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution): just a reminder that the view we have of  what’s happening in the world is always a distorted one.
  3. You’ve no doubt heard about the Google memo suggesting new ways to pursue gender diversity in tech which got the author fired. There has been a TON of fascinating commentary. Here are a few pieces that stood out to me.
    • Here’s the memo itself: Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber (James Damore). It’s short and easy to read. Definitely skim it if you’ve only heard other people describe it.
    • Google’s War Over The Sexes (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “I strongly suspect that more than a few Silicon Valley higher-ups agreed with the broad themes of Damore’s memo. But just as tech titans accept some censorship and oppression as the price of doing business in China, they accept performative progressivism as the price of having nice campuses in the most liberal state in the union and recruiting their employees from its most elite and liberal schools.” If you only read one thing this week, read this one. The last six or so paragraphs in particular are quite good.
    • I’m a woman in computer science. Let me ladysplain the Google memo to you. (Cynthia Lee, Vox): “At the outset, it must be conceded that, despite what some of the commentary has implied, the manifesto is not an unhinged rant. Its quasi-professional tone is a big part of what makes it so beguiling (to some) and also so dangerous.” The author is a CS lecturer at Stanford.
    • As a Woman in Tech, I Realized: These Are Not My People (Megan McArdle, Bloomberg View): “James Damore, an engineer at Google, wrote a memo suggesting that maybe there weren’t so many women at Google because women are less interested in sitting around and staring at code all day. The internet erupted. James Damore is no longer working at Google. As a woman working in the brotastic atmosphere of IT, I ultimately came to a conclusion similar to his.”
    • What the Google Engineer’s Manifesto Missed About Discrimination at Work (Paula England, Institute For Family Studies blog): “Damore’s memo missed one huge thing: Abundant and rigorous scientific studies—by sociologists, psychologists, and economists—have demonstrated that gender and race biases adversely affect women and people of color in the workplace.” The author is a sociology professor at NYU.
    • The Google Memo: Four Scientists Respond (Quillette Magazine): four scholars with relevant expertise largely back up the memo author’s claims about gender differences.
      1. Lee Jussim, professor of social psychology at Rutgers: “The author of the Google essay on issues related to diversity gets nearly all of the science and its implications exactly right.”
      2. David Schmitt, who has a Ph.D. in personality psychology: “In the case of personality traits, evidence that men and women may have different average levels of certain traits is rather strong.… But it is not clear to me how such sex differences are relevant to the Google workplace.”
      3. Geoffrey Miller, professor of evolutionary psychology at the University of New Mexico: “Graded fairly, his memo would get at least an A- in any masters’ level psychology course.”
      4. Debra W Soh, who has a Ph.D. in sexual neuroscience: “Within the field of neuroscience, sex differences between women and men—when it comes to brain structure and function and associated differences in personality and occupational preferences—are understood to be true, because the evidence for them (thousands of studies) is strong.”
    • The Google Memo: What Does the Research Say About Gender Differences? (Sean Stevens and Jonathan Haidt, Heterodox Academy): A summary of meta-analyses on the subject of gender differences. “Gender differences in math/science ability, achievement, and performance are small or nil.… Gender differences in interest and enjoyment of math, coding, and highly ‘systemizing’ activities are large.”
    • Googling Moral Purity (R.R. Reno, First Things):  “Our ruling class relies on ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’ to legitimate its supereminence. This makes the attendant ideology sacrosanct. Any public dissent becomes explosive, because it threatens the legitimacy of our current social system, which is characterized by an increasing concentration of wealth and power among just a few at the tippy-top.”
    • Quote of the week goes to Rod Dreher: “Gender non-essentialists are the young earth creationists of the Left.” (source)
  4. Related in a weird way: The Toxic Drama on YA Twitter (Kat Rosenfield, Vulture): “One author and former diversity advocate described why she no longer takes part: ‘I have never seen social interaction this [messed] up,’ she wrote in an email. ‘And I’ve been in prison.’”
  5. Why Are There No New Major Religions? (Joe Emont, The Atlantic): “State persecution, aided by religious authorities, is in fact a major reason why new faiths fail in parts of the world where government polices religious doctrine.” The author fails to acknowledge the potent new religion in North America that is a brew of environmentalism and sexual autonomy with New Age superstition thrown in. Also, he doesn’t really consider that maybe some religions are legitimized by miracles/divine sanction. Interesting stuff nonetheless.
  6. Hypepriests: The Grail-Wearing Pastors Who Dress Like Justin Bieber (Sam Schube, GQ): “I wish Justin Bieber the best. ‘Love Yourself’ is among the finest pop songs of this short century, and I find his Instagram account deeply charming in its utter lack of guile. But even if he weren’t Justin Bieber, he’d deserve the guidance, spiritual or otherwise, he’s seeking. We all deserve that. All I mean to say is this: It is rather remarkable that the men Justin Bieber has entrusted to deliver that guidance have decided to dress like Justin Bieber.”

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 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.

Archives at http://glenandpaula.com/wordpress/category/links.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 111

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. Meet the Megadonor Behind the LGBTQ Rights Movement (Andy Kroll, Rolling Stone): “More broadly, for Gill and his allies, nondiscrimination is the new front of the movement: a campaign that pits LGBTQ advocates against a religious right that responded to marriage equality by redoubling its efforts…. Gill refuses to go on the defense. ‘We’re going into the hardest states in the country,’ he says. ‘We’re going to punish the wicked.’.… ‘We have been fighting for [nondiscrimination] since the Sixties,’ he says. ‘It’s the religious right that decided to make marriage an issue. They worked tirelessly on it for decades and they lost.’”
  2. Fusion GPS Illuminates the Brave New World of Manufactured News For Hire (Lee Smith, Tablet Magazine) “There is no accurate accounting of how many of the stories you read in the news are the fruit of opposition research, because no journalist wants to admit how many of their top ‘sources’ are just information packagers—which is why the blinding success of Fusion GPS is the least-covered media story in America right now.”
  3. The Death Of Reading Is Threatening The Soul (Philip Yancey, Washington Post): “I am reading many fewer books these days, and even fewer of the kinds of books that require hard work. The Internet and social media have trained my brain to read a paragraph or two, and then start looking around.”
  4. Ask Andrew W.K.: My Dad Is a Right-Wing Asshole (Andrew W.K., The Village Voice): apologies for the title, this is a surprisingly good piece (published back in 2014).
  5. Charlie Gard and the Experts (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “The rights of parents are essential to a free society’s architecture, and fathers and mothers are far more likely than any other party to have their child’s best interests close to heart. To intervene on behalf of experts against the family is sometimes necessary but always dangerous, fraught with totalitarian temptations to which the modern West is not immune.” Charlie Gard died after this column was written, which makes the piece even more important.
  6. How Cool Works In America Today (David Brooks, New York Times): argues that being woke is a cultural replacement for being cool. “The woke mentality became prominent in 2012 and 2013 with the Trayvon Martin case and the rise of Black Lives Matter. Embrace it or not, B.L.M. is the most complete social movement in America today, as a communal, intellectual, moral and political force.”
  7. Free Markets and Unicorns (Andrew Strain, First Things): “In the age of corporations, a truly free market is as mythical as a unicorn.” This essay called forth the response piece Why is socialism being promoted by conservative Christian outlets? (Joe Carter, Acton Institute): “by analyzing his essay we can see a common pattern that is emerging, even in once conservative publications: writers who don’t know the first thing about free markets explaining why they are inferior to socialist policies.” Reading them together is illuminating.

Things Glen Found Amusing/Entertaining

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have Christian Missions and the Spread of Democracy (Greg Scandlen, The Federalist): This is a summary of some rather wonderful research Robert Woodberry published in The American Political Science Review back in 2012: The Missionary Roots of Liberal Democracy. If it looks familiar it’s because I allude to it from time to time in my sermons and conversations. (first shared in volume 14)

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.