Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 109

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 We Are Ruining America (David Brooks, NYT): “To feel at home in opportunity-rich areas, you’ve got to understand the right barre techniques, sport the right baby carrier, have the right podcast, food truck, tea, wine and Pilates tastes, not to mention possess the right attitudes about David Foster Wallace, child-rearing, gender norms and intersectionality.” This column spawned much derision on social media, but I strongly agree with Brooks – and so do many commentators. Here are sympathetic reactions from Freddie deBoer on the left and from Rod Dreher on the right. Dan Drezner takes it in a different direction, and the Monkey Cage says “duh” while Alan Jacobs calls people unwilling to acknowledge Brooks’ observation “willfully blind”.
  2. Luther’s Revolution (The Nation, Elizabeth Bruenig): “Theology is morality is politics is law—and whether or not it’s immediately obvious, the world is steeped in theology. In contemporary America, and especially in the more secular precincts of Western Europe, it seems unlikely that one could look at a property deed or a government budget and find, just beneath its explicit reasoning, traces of old theological disputes and their resolutions. But they’re there…”
  3. I’ve Worked with Refugees for Decades. Europe’s Afghan Crime Wave Is Mind-Boggling. (Cheryl Benard, The National Interest): “Europeans were predisposed to be positive towards Afghan refugees. But it quickly became obvious that something was wrong, very wrong, with these young Afghan men: they were committing sex crimes to a much greater extent than other refugees… It took a while for the pattern to be recognized because, until recently, western European media deliberately refrained from identifying an assailant’s refugee or asylum status, or his country of origin.”
  4. Personality, Gender, and Age in the Language of Social Media: The Open-Vocabulary Approach (Schwartz HA, Eichstaedt JC, Kern ML, Dziurzynski L, Ramones SM, Agrawal M, et al., PLOS One) – This one is from 2013. Pay particular attention to Figure 6 and notice the cluster of words associated with emotional stability. #blessed #on_my_way to #church
  5. No Retreat: Lecrae’s Approach to “Culture-Making” (Jemar Tisby, Christ and Pop Culture): “But Lecrae couldn’t fulfill his mission if his beats only banged in Christian ears, though not because Christians aren’t important to him. It was Christian fans who propelled him to popularity and still continue to support him. Nevertheless, having testified in Jerusalem, so to speak, Lecrae felt compelled to testify also in Rome (Acts 23:11).” This is related to what we’re covering in our summer reading project, and you’re welcome to join us. 
  6. In Praise of Extreme Medicine (Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution): “It’s odd that we allow some crazy things and ban others—even more that the crazy things we allow are sometimes socially useless while the crazy things that we ban are sometimes socially valuable. The case for banning extreme sports, for example, is much stronger than the case for banning extreme medicine.”
  7. ‘Born this way’? It’s way more complicated than that (Alia E. Dastagir, USA Today): “Getting America to believe that people are born gay — that it’s not something that can be chosen or ever changed — has been central to the fight for gay rights. If someone can’t help being gay any more than they can help the color of their skin, the logic goes, denying them rights is wrong. But many members of the LGBTQ community reject this narrative…”
  8. Why Roman concrete still stands strong while modern version decays (Nicola Davis, The Guardian): recommended by an alumnus. I sometimes hear people state it like a self-evident truth that we are smarter than the ancients. I see no evidence we are any more intelligent than them. We just have more accumulated knowledge in certain domains.

Things Glen Found Entertaining

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have On Obstinacy In Belief (C.S. Lewis, The Sewanee Review). Lewis explains why Christians are justified in continuing to believe even when they encounter an argument they can’t immediately answer (first shared in volume 6).

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 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.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 91

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 Crisis of Liberty In The West (Ryan Anderson, Heritage Foundation): “Freedom today is understood as a matter of indifference—a freedom from constraint. But freedom rightly understood is a freedom for—a freedom for excellence.” This. Read this.
  2. Gender Reversal Teaches Uncomfortable Lessons (Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution): “How would the Trump-Clinton debates have been perceived if the genders had been reversed? Two professors worked with trained actors to duplicate not just the words but also the mannerisms of Trump and Clinton–only with a female actor playing Trump, now called Brenda King, and a male actor playing Clinton, now called Jonathan Gordon.” The professors found the opposite of what they expected. There is a video clip so you can judge for yourself. A little mind-blowing.
  3. American Carnage (Christopher Caldwell, First Things): “Calling addiction a disease usefully describes certain measurable aspects of the problem—particularly tolerance and withdrawal. It fails to capture what is special and dangerous about the way drugs bind with people’s minds. Almost every known disease is something people wish to be rid of. Addiction is different. Addicts resist known cures—even to the point of death.” A powerful article.
  4. There’s Enough Time To Change Everything (Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic): “If I were loosely gathering topics of study into categories, I might call them arts, religion, scholarship, and science. As important as scholarship and science are, arts and religion are more important” A wide-ranging and fascinating interview with Yale professor David Gelernter. This one is long.
  5. Faith Is Changing The Way People Think About Music (Marc Barnes, Relevant): “The creative arts have a long history of taking to what is taboo in the public square. It is no surprise that they are taking religion, the ugly duckling of modern secular life, under their wing.”
  6. North Korea Is Practicing For Nuclear War (Jeffrey Lewis, Foreign Policy): “Whatever restraint Kim or Trump might show — and let’s be honest, our expectations here are not high — each will face enormous pressure to start the attack lest his opponent beat him to the punch.” Ouch.
  7. 10 Questions for Shadi Hamid (Razib Khan, personal blog): “It’s not so much that [devout Muslims] want to die; it’s more that they are ready to die, and it doesn’t frighten them as much as it might frighten someone else, because they believe there’s a pretty good chance that they’ll be granted paradise especially if they happen to killed while they’re in the middle of an act that they consider to be in the service of God and his message.” The interviewer is a doctoral candidate in genetics at UC Davis and the interviewee is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Also worth reading is Rod Dreher’s reaction piece Islam: The Last Badass Religion.

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.