Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 123

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 “Young Saints” Of Bethel Who Go To College To Perform Miracles (Molly Hensley-Clancy, Buzzfeed): “Behind Bethel’s rise is the enormous talent and ambition of the church’s magnetizing leaders, Bill Johnson and Kris Vallotton, who cofounded BSSM in 1998. Depending on who you ask, Vallotton and Johnson are geniuses, false prophets, or both. What’s undeniable is that with Vallotton at his side, Johnson, a fifth-generation pastor, has transformed a small, unremarkable local church into what Christianity Today called ‘a hub of a global revival movement.’” Fair and interesting – much better than other stories I have seen. I know a lot about Bethel and I learned several things from this piece.
  2. A Letter to Jamie Dimon (and anyone else still struggling to understand cryptocurrencies) (Adam Ludwin, company blog): this is a genuinely helpful explanation of what Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are good for. “They’re a new model for creating, financing, and operating software services in a way that is decentralized top-to-bottom. That doesn’t make them better or worse than existing software models or the corporate entities that create them. As we’ll see later, there are major trade-offs. What we can say is simply that they are radically different from software as we know it today and radically different from the forms of organization we are used to.”
  3. Meeting Middle East Christians is where Western stereotypes go to die (John Allen, Crux): “Spending time among the Christians of the Middle East is always an edifying experience, but for Westerners it packs a special punch. That’s because the Christian population of this perennially troubled region often is where Western stereotypes about the Middle East go to die.” The more you follow global news the more surprising you will consider the author’s claims to be.
  4. Chinese House Church Leaders and Toddler Arrested After Singing in Public Park (Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra, Christianity Today): “Other provinces have been coming down especially hard on religious education for children. In Zhejiang province—where hundreds of crosses were torn off churches over the past several years—elementary and middle school children weren’t allowed to attend church or Sunday school this summer.”
  5. 4 Specific Things You Lose When You Leave Christianity (Kristi Harrison, Cracked) – this is well-written and heartbreaking. “I have no idea why anyone thinks church is boring. In my experience, church was not a slog through old songs, tired rituals, or heavy-handed sermons; it was an addictive, engaging experience where I felt like I had a seat at the table with the creator of the Universe.”
  6. Science v. Science+ (David Heddle, personal blog): “So scientifically, at least, science and faith are not incompatible–unless you devise a way to measure/detect the incompatibility. I have proposed two experiments: 1. I’ll give you ten papers from tier-1 peer-reviewed journals. Five from atheists, five from theists, with the names redacted. Detect the incompatibility and accurately separate the papers into the two groups. 2. Design an experiment that can be done by an atheistic scientist and not a theistic scientist.” The author is a physics professor at Christopher Newport University.
  7. Freedom not to choose is a faith worth believing in (David Mitchell, The Guardian):  “I always say I’m agnostic because I’d like there to be a God – a nice liberal one – but I can’t be sure there is and the idea of regular religious observance unnerves me because it would be unusual in my peer group. Not a very well thought-through philosophy, I know. But in the absence of family or societal pressures, in a context of almost complete religious freedom, many of us rely on similar back-of-an-envelope answers to eternal questions, because adopting the answers thousands of full-time ponderers have come up with over thousands of years feels like squandering that freedom.” David Mitchell is a British comedian/public intellectual (sort of) – if you’re unfamiliar with him, watch some clips from the British game show Would I Lie To You? A good first clip is David Mitchell’s Code For Noteworthiness.

Things Glen Found Entertaining/Amusing

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have The world will only get weirder (Steven Coast, personal blog): “We fixed all the main reasons aircraft crash a long time ago. Sometimes a long, long time ago. So, we are left with the less and less probable events.” The piece is a few years old so the examples are dated, but it remains very intriguing. (first shared in volume 67)

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 100

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. Christians, in an Epochal Shift, Are Leaving the Middle East (Maria Abi-Habib, Wall Street Journal): “Like the Jews before them, Christians are fleeing the Middle East, emptying what was once one of the world’s most-diverse regions of its ancient religions. They’re being driven away not only by Islamic State, but by governments the U.S. counts as allies in the fight against extremism.” You might need to search for an ungated copy.
  2. The Color of Law (Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution): “Calling itself the Peninsula Housing Association of Palo Alto, the co-op purchased a 260-ranch [sic] adjacent to the Stanford campus and planned to build 400 houses as well as shared recreational facilities, a shopping area, a gas station, and a restaurant on commonly owned land.  But the bank would not finance construction costs nor issue mortgages to the co-op or its members without government approval, and the FHA would not insure loans to a cooperative that included African American members.”
  3. Silicon Valley: A Reality Check (Scott Alexander, Slate Star Codex): “…people should lay off the criticism a little. When Capitol Hill screws up, tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis get killed. When Wall Street screws up, the country is plunged into recession and poor families lose their homes. When Silicon Valley screws up, people who want a pointless Wi-Fi enabled juicer get a pointless Wi-Fi enabled juicer. Which by all accounts makes pretty good juice.”
  4. The Case for Idolatry: Why Christians Can Worship Idols (Andrew Wilson, Gospel Coalition): this is a reprint of a satirical piece from a few years back. I thought I had linked to it when it first came out, but can’t find it in the archives. 
  5. The Rise of Café Churches in South Korea (Jason Strother, The Atlantic): “‘Churches and cafés have the hardest time surviving in Korea,’ said Ahn Min-ho, a 42-year-old ordained minister and certified barista. ‘Combining the two is mutually beneficial.’”

Things Glen Found Amusing

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 89

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. Are Gender Feminists and Transgender Activists Undermining Science? (Debra Soh, LA Times): “Distortion of science hinders progress. When gender feminists start refuting basic biology, people stop listening, and the larger point about equality is lost.” The author has a Ph.D. in neuroscience and considered herself transgender as a child.
  2. The Masada Mystery (Eric Cline, Aeon): some fascinating insights on one of the most famous tragedies that occurred shortly after the events described in the New Testament. The author is a professor of classics and anthropology.
  3. Use Of Weaponized Drones By ISIS Spurs Terrorism Fears (Joby Warrick, Washington Post): “They’re now showing that these devices can be effective on the battlefield,” said Steven Stalinsky…. “With the way these groups use social media, my worry is that they’re also putting the idea into people’s heads that this is something you can now do.”
  4. 4 Recent Examples Show Why Nobody Trusts Media ‘Fact Checks’ (Mollie Hemingway, The Federalist): “The upshot is that the article does a nice job of proving Mark Twain’s point that the three types of lies are lies, damn lies and statistics, as it uses a statistical analysis of questionable merit to ‘disprove’ a statement that was literally true.”
  5. I Ignored Trump News For A Week. Here’s What I Learned. (Farhad Manjoo, NY Times): “On most days, Mr. Trump is 90 percent of the news on my Twitter and Facebook feeds, and probably yours, too. But he’s not 90 percent of what’s important in the world.”
  6. 4 Ways To Make Sure Your Protest Really Makes A Difference (David Christopher Bell, Cracked): “But what if I told you that if you follow the rules history has laid out, protests and boycotts absolutely can work? For when you look down the annals of successful civil disobedience, a clear pattern emerges.” This being Cracked, language warning. Also, the URL is funny: the slug is a-beginners-guide-to-overthrowing-government
  7. Two articles that I did not expect to find fascinating but did: Sportswriting Has Become A Liberal Profession: Here’s How It Happened (Bryan Curtis, The Ringer): “I’m a liberal sportswriter myself. The new world suits me just fine. Would it be nice to have a David Frum or Ross Douthat of sportswriting, making wrongheaded-but-interesting arguments about NCAA amateurism? Sure. As long as nobody believed them.” This article led to the conservative followup The Arrogant Thinking Of Liberal Sports Writers (Michael Brendan Dougherty, The Week): “Has no one stopped to notice there is something odd about an anti-racism that will cause an evermore diverse country to declare rooting for white-faced mascots the only safe thing to do? How will this deletion of all non-white faces look in 50 years?”

Things Glen Found Amusing

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 80

1 Chronicles 12:32 - they "understood the times"
1 Chronicles 12:32 – they “understood the times”

On Fridays I share articles/resources about broad cultural, societal and theological issues. Be sure to see the explanation and disclaimers at the bottom.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Rage and Heartbreak: Required Reactions to Aleppo (Richard Stearns, ERLC): “Let your heart be broken for the suffering in the Middle East and around the world. Pray it stays broken as long as any mother anywhere pleads for help and any child fears this night will be her last.” For some context, read 9 Things You Should Know About Aleppo and the Syrian Crisis (Joe Carter, Gospel Coalition). And this is an interesting Muslim take on Aleppo (Omed Safi, Washington Post).
  2. The Crisis of Christians in Egypt (Gabriel Reynolds, First Things):  “It is telling, for example, that almost no such attacks have taken place in majority Shi’ite Iran against the Christian minority there. What, then, distinguishes Egypt and Pakistan from Iran?”
  3. My President Was Black (Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic): this is a long, beautifully-written piece. The Atlantic is publishing response pieces. The first one is intense: “My president was black and I still am.”
  4. Why Hillary Clinton Bombed With White Evangelical Voters (Ruth Graham, Slate): “It was as if she was trying to alienate evangelicals… and it worked.” This article nails a big part of the dynamic.
  5. With Jesus’ Birth, Why Does The Bible List Two Different Family Trees? (Richard Ostling, Patheos): “The general consensus on the differences is that Matthew depicted Jesus’ legal descent from David, on the assumption Joseph adopted him. If Mary had no brothers, by common custom Joseph would have been his father-in-law’s legal ‘son’ and heir through the marriage. Luke defined Jesus through Mary as a blood descendant of David.” (for some other possible explanations, see Mark Strauss at Zondervan Academic)
  6. The Defense of Liberty Can’t Do Without Identity Politics (Jacob Levy, Niskanen Center): “Identity politics… is about fighting for political justice by drawing on the commitment that arises out of targeted injustice…. It lets us spot the majority group’s identity politics rather than treating it as the normal background state of affairs, and to recognize the oppression and injustice that it generates.” The author is a professor of political science at McGill.
  7. The Right Shuts Down Free Speech, Too (Catherine Rampbell, Washington Post): it’s almost as though human nature is the same regardless of what one thinks about the tax code. 
  8. On the academic/research side of things:

Things Glen Found Amusing

  • Indulgences  (Pearls Before Swine): theological warning – this form of recursion does not actually work 
  • Local Man Relieved After Spiritual Gift Test Comes Back Negative For Giving (Babylon Bee): “According to sources, Shepherd ripped open his results packet Thursday, and after nervously perusing the cover letter, jumped for joy upon discovering he had no desire or responsibility to be generous whatsoever.”
  • Band Offers Administration $60,000 To Drop Accusations (The Flipside): brutal and well-deserved (if you don’t get the joke, check out two recent editions of the Fountain Hopper (dirty language ahead): about the $60,000 and about the band. In case you’re wondering, I do think the band is being treated unfairly (and I have not been a huge fan of the band’s culture historically). 
  • How To Get Vindication (Basic Instructions): if you are squeamish, this one may not be for you. I found it hilarious. There is a video in the notes below the comic and I recommend it – if you are not squeamish.

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 21

In the time of King David, the tribe of Issachar produced shrewd warriors “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chron 12:32). In a similar way, we need to become wise people whose faith interacts with the world.

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

Without further ado, I give you the interesting things:

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

Disclaimer

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

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 20

In the time of King David, the tribe of Issachar produced shrewd warriors “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chron 12:32). In a similar way, we need to become wise people whose faith interacts with the world.

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

Without further ado, I give you the interesting things:

  1. From the Glen-alluded-to-this-in-his-sermon department:
  2. From the current events department
  3. From the all-things-sexual department:
  4. From the Stanford department: this Daily op-ed caught my eye: Petition To Student Activities and Leadership to End Open Membership. There was a swift nuh-uh from the administration. The petition itself is on change.org. For the record, Chi Alpha has no desire to exclude people from our ministry. I do, however, think that Stanford’s open membership policy needlessly abridges students’ constitutional right to freedom of association. As a private institution, Stanford is allowed to do that… but it is unwise to do so.

Disclaimer

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

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 5

In the time of King David, the Bible says that the tribe of Issachar produced shrewd warriors “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chron 12:32). In a similar way, we need to become wise people whose faith interacts with the world.

To that end, I share articles/resources I have found helpful recently in thinking about broader cultural and societal issues (be sure to see the disclaimer at the bottom). May these give you greater insight, so that you may continue the tradition of Issachar.

Heads up: in light of today’s Supreme Court decision I’ll likely include some articles about marriage and same-sex relationships in next Friday’s update. If you see anything you find helpful, please send it my way.

  1. From the ongoing reflections on Charleston department: Persecution and the Black Church (Ross Douthat, NY Times) – Douthat is a NY Times columnist who consistently talks about issues of faith (he is a devout Catholic).
  2. These next two articlesare linked in that they are about people driven by their Christian faith. One is an outspoken liberal and the other an outspoken conservative. If you only have time to read about one, read about the one you probably disagree with.
  3. From the backstory department: Palestinian BDS Movement: Getting a Handle on a Complicated Story Ahead of Deadline (Ira Rifkin,GetReligion): this is an article for journalists helping them prepare for coverage of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement as it comes to the awareness of the American public (it hit Stanford last year, as you no doubt recall).
    • Incidentally, it’s really hard to get a good understanding of this or of most topics related to Israel, especially as it connects to Palestine. For an eye-opening (and dismaying) experience, read What The Media Gets Wrong About Israel (Mattie Friedman, The Atlantic).
  4. From the Chi Alpha worldwide department: Georgia Couple Defend Their Love After Bouquet Selfie Gets Negative Comments: Our Relationship ‘Is Not About Looks’ (Caitlin Keating, People): I include this only because it is about two Chi Alpha student leaders at Columbus State University, which I know because I know their campus pastor. On a related note – if you are ever in the news please feel free to wear your Chi Alpha t-shirt.

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.