Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 240

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 often bury my perspective, but here is my two ¢ on the Coronavirus: America is responding to this disease so badly that I find it hard to believe. Given the amazingly competent people who populate this country, our collective ineptitude is staggering.
    • Dealing With a Once-In-A-Century Pathogen (Claire Lehmann, Quillette): “In early October 1918, when the Spanish flu hit the east coast of the United States, the health commissioner of St Louis, Max Starkloff, ordered the closure of schools, movie theaters, saloons, sporting events and other public gathering spots. While the measures were protested by some citizens, the quarantine went ahead. A month later, as the pandemic raged on, he ordered the closure of all business, with a few exceptions, such as banks. While drastic quarantine measures were being implemented in St Louis, the health commissioner of Philadelphia, Wilmer Krusen, gave permission for a parade for the war effort to go ahead in his city. It is reported that within 72 hours of the parade, every bed in Philadelphia’s 31 hospitals was filled, and in the week ending October 5th, 1918, 2,600 people in Philadelphia had died, with the figure almost doubling a week later. At the end of the outbreak, St Louis had the lowest recorded death rate in the US, while in Philadelphia mortuaries overflowed and ‘bodies [were] piled up on sidewalks.’”
    • Coronavirus: Links, Speculation, Open Thread (Scott Alexander, Slate Star Codex): “If we hadn’t let our culture reach the point where governments ban things by default and review at leisure, and where individual initiative is frowned upon in favor of waiting for official permission to do the right thing, we could have recovered from all of these mistakes. Hospitals would have used their existing tests which they already have more than enough of, doctors would have had permission to test suspicious cases at their discretion, and we would have had a chance to catch infections early before they could spread. If the government didn’t already regulate adrenaline, buspirone, insulin, and genetic testing to the point of near-unavailability, maybe people would have thought it was weirder, or raised more of a fuss, when they started doing it for coronavirus tests.”
    • Exclusive: The Strongest Evidence Yet That America Is Botching Coronavirus Testing (Robinson Meyer & Alexis C. Madrigal, The Atlantic): “Testing is the first and most important tool in understanding the epidemiology of a disease outbreak. In the United States, a series of failures has combined with the decentralized nature of our health-care system to handicap the nation’s ability to see the severity of the outbreak in hard numbers.”
    • Before and after: coronavirus empties world’s busiest spaces  (Agence France-Presse, The Guardian): “Empty public squares, a highway with no cars on it and deserted holy sites – a series of striking satellite images have revealed the impact of the coronavirus epidemic on some of the world’s busiest spaces.”
    • Preparing Your Church For Coronavirus (Lyman Stone, The American Conservative): “Thus, Christians have two crucial duties. First, not to use plague, and the fear of the death of the body, as an excuse to abandon our God-given duties. We must care for the sick, both the sick in soul and in body. Where disease kills parents, we must care for the children. Where disease kills children, we must tend to the wounds of the family. Where disease spreads fear, we must be bold in faith. But we should not be idiots. We have a moral obligation to protect others by limiting the spread of disease. To ignore that duty murders our neighbors.” A bit long but excellent. 
  2. Men Too Easily Forgotten (Greg Morse, Desiring God): “Real men do not bully. Real men do not watch porn. Real men do not abuse women. Real men do not live at home after college playing video games in their parent’s basement. Amen to what real men are not, but what, then, is a real man? Can we not say more than just a male who doesn’t do bad? We need men who not only avoid evil but embody what is good. There is a profound difference. One sees manhood as an incurable illness of society to be managed; the other, a pillar to build civilization upon.” Recommended by a student.
  3. Low-Income College Students Are Being Taxed Like Trust-Fund Babies (Erica L. Green, New York Times): “In the past, a student from a household with a joint income of $50,000 who was awarded a scholarship that covered $11,500 in room and board would be taxed at their parents’ rate of 12 percent. Under the new law, that money would be taxed up to 35 percent.” This is a few months old, shared with me by a student. For the record, this is insane.
  4. The other way to lose a war (Ed Feser, personal blog): “Some critics like to chalk up prolonged American engagement in places like Afghanistan and Iraq to warmongering or realpolitik or some other sinister motivation. In my opinion, that is the reverse of the truth. The fault of those who advocate such engagement isn’t worldly cynicism, but otherworldly idealism.” Thoughtful and thought-provoking. Recommended. 
  5. My Same-Sex Attraction Has an Answer (Rachel Gilson, Christianity Today): “For people like me who experience same-sex attraction, the world begs us to believe that our authentic selves are only found in giving in. It promises hero status if we submit to our attractions. Our desires whisper, like a serpent in a garden, that there is no death in going against God’s Word.”
  6. The lure of ‘cool’ brain research is stifling psychotherapy  (Allen Frances, Aeon): “…I can affirm confidently that there are no neat answers in psychiatry. The best we can do is embrace an ecumenical four-dimensional model that includes all possible contributors to human functioning: the biological, the psychological, the social, and the spiritual. Reducing people to just one element – their brain functioning, or their psychological tendencies, or their social context, or their struggle for meaning – results in a flat, distorted image that leaves out more than it can capture.” The author was chair of the psychiatry department at Duke. 
  7. Let’s Deconstruct a Deconversion Story: The Case of Rhett and Link (Alisa Childers, Gospel Coalition): “Our cultural moment is a cauldron of information and celebrity worship in which the cult of personality can ferment and grow. With every hit of the ‘like’ button, the personalities we’ve subscribed to have become our authorities for truth.”
    • Red Flags in the Spiritual Deconstruction of My Old Friends Rhett and Link (Shelby Abbot, personal blog): “After they left staff with Cru, I kept in touch with the guys for a few years. But time and life happened, and my communication with them faded. Every now and then I’d send a message, but both Rhett and Link stopped reciprocating. I figured they probably changed their numbers and email addresses, or had too many DM’s from fans to find my random messages saying hello. [After hearing their] personal spiritual deconstruction stories. It suddenly made a lot sense to me why I never heard back from them.”

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 On Political Correctness (William Deresiewicz, The American Scholar): a long and thoughtful article. “Selective private colleges have become religious schools. The religion in question is not Methodism or Catholicism but an extreme version of the belief system of the liberal elite: the liberal professional, managerial, and creative classes, which provide a large majority of students enrolled at such places and an even larger majority of faculty and administrators who work at them. To attend those institutions is to be socialized, and not infrequently, indoctrinated into that religion…. I say this, by the way, as an atheist, a democratic socialist, a native northeasterner, a person who believes that colleges should not have sports teams in the first place—and in case it isn’t obvious by now, a card-carrying member of the liberal elite.” (first shared in volume 92)

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

Chi Alpha is not a partisan organization. To paraphrase another minister: we are not about the donkey’s agenda and we are not about the elephant’s agenda — we are about the Lamb’s agenda. Having said that, I read widely (in part because I believe we should aspire to pass the ideological Turing test and in part because I do not believe I can fairly say “I agree” or “I disagree” until I can say “I understand”) and may at times share articles that have a strong partisan bias simply because I find the article stimulating. The upshot: you should not assume I agree with everything an author says in an article I mention, much less things the author has said in other articles (although if I strongly disagree with something in the article I’ll usually mention it). And to the extent you can discern my opinions, please understand that they are my own and not necessarily those of Chi Alpha or any other organization I may be perceived to represent. Also, remember that I’m not reporting news — I’m giving you a selection of things I found interesting. There’s a lot happening in the world that’s not making an appearance here because I haven’t found stimulating articles written about it. If this was forwarded to you and you want to receive future emails, sign up here. You can also view the archives.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 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 103

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. Praise & Questions: How Kendrick & Chance Talk to God in Different Ways (Miguelito, DJ Booth): “I’ve encountered two different kinds of religious believers, generally speaking. The first are those who focus on the gifts of God and the blessings in their life and take an optimistic approach to humanity. The other group is made up of those who become gripped by the mystery surrounding such a figure and keep an air of skepticism about them.”
  2. How Oxford and Peter Singer drove me from atheism to Jesus (Sarah Irving-Stonebraker, Veritas): “I grew up in Australia, in a loving, secular home, and arrived at Sydney University as a critic of ‘religion.’  I didn’t need faith to ground my identity or my values…. [however, while at Oxford] I began to realise that the implications of my atheism were incompatible with almost every value I held dear.” The author is a history professor at Western Sydney University.
  3. Listening: An Antidote to the Modern University’s Incoherence (Dominic Burbidge, The Public Discourse): insightful breakdown of the three sub-universities we dwell within: the university of rationalism, the university of revolution, and the university of subjectivism. The author is an administrator at Oxford.
  4. Wonder Woman and the Gender Wars (Russell Moore, personal blog): “Wonder Woman does indeed represent power, but she also is, in every iteration, designed to be sexually attractive to men. The 1970s-era television series noted in its theme song, ‘Fighting for your rights, in your satin tights, and the old red, white, and blue.’ The rights and the tights were both part of the package—and, from the looks of things, still are.” This piece is quite good.
  5. The Marines Can Treat Women Honorably Without Putting Them in the Infantry (David French, National Review): “The women-in-infantry debate is the luxury of a society that hasn’t fought a large-scale ground war in generations, and a serious mixed-gender experiment wouldn’t survive first contact with a well-equipped and well-trained opposing force.” The author is both a veteran of the Iraq war and a graduate of Harvard Law School. A short but thoughtful response to the widely-shared Vox article The Marine Corps has a “toxic masculinity” problem
  6. If you haven’t seen it yet, there’s quite the controversy at Evergreen College. There’s a good summary at The blasphemy case against Bret Weinstein, and its four lessons for professors (Jonathan Haidt, Heterodox Academy): “I generally oppose zero-tolerance policies, but if we are to have one, it should be for violence and intimidation on campus.” And this is a good op-ed on the situation: When the Left Turns on Its Own (Bari Weiss, NY Times): “Liberals shouldn’t cede the responsibility to defend free speech on college campuses to conservatives. After all, without free speech, what’s liberalism about?”
  7. I’ve seen lots of opinions about Trump pulling America out of the Paris climate agreement. I was most struck by these two reactions that both grant that the agreement was in some sense just for show but arrive at different conclusions from that premise:
    • From the right: The Placebo Politics of Paris (Jason Willick, The American Interest): “President Trump’s repudiation of the agreement… delights his nationalistic base and sends his internationalist-minded critics into paroxysms of rage and despair—all without actually doing anything, because the Paris agreement consists simply of voluntary, unenforceable emissions pledges that are already being flouted.”
    • From the left: The Odd Kabuki of the Climate Pact Withdrawal (Eric Posner, personal blog): “[the pact] was meaningful-symbolic rather than meaningless-symbolic. Meaningful-symbolic means that the countries were taking a first step toward actually reducing greenhouse gases rather than a first step toward pretending to reduce them.”

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.