Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 136

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. Trump has been president for about a year now. Here are some perspectives (if you only read one, read the one you think you’ll disagree with most):
    • Trump’s first year was even worse than feared (Eugene Robinson, Washington Post):  “Many of us began 2017 with the consoling thought that the Donald Trump presidency couldn’t possibly be as bad as we feared. It turned out to be worse.”
    • I wasn’t a Trump supporter. I am now. (Mollie Hemingway, Washington Post): “My expectations were low — so low that he could have met them by simply not being President Hillary Clinton. But a year into this presidency, he’s exceeded those expectations by quite a bit. I’m thrilled.”
    • ‘Vision, Chutzpah and Some Testosterone’ (New York Times): “Granted we have the most unpresidential president of our time. Crude, rude, clueless dude — but I believe, with the help of his friends, he’s stumbling through one of the most effective presidencies in memory.” This is from a collection of letters to the NY Times by Trump supporters.
    • This one trick explains the pattern of conservative praise for Trump’s first year (Dan Drezner, Washington Post): “All of this is consistent with assessments that Trump’s first year, even from a conservative perspective, has been pretty mediocre.”
    • Trump So Far Is More Farce Than Tragedy (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “A vast gulf between the things Trump says he wants — which are, indeed, often authoritarian — and the things that actually happen is the essential characteristic of his presidency’s first year…. his cabinet looks a lot like a generic Republican administration, whose efforts liberals understandably oppose and sometimes deplore, but which are not remotely like the workings of a fascist cabal circa 1935.”
    • President Trump’s First Year, in 14 Metrics (Mike Nizza, Blomberg View): “Last year our columnists selected a range of conventional and whimsical metrics by which to judge the success of the new president. We revisit them here. Bottom line: By these measures, he’s doing better than his opponents will admit and worse than his supporters believe.”
  2. Is everything you think you know about depression wrong? (Johann Hari, The Guardian): “Once you settle into a story about your pain, you are extremely reluctant to challenge it. It was like a leash I had put on my distress to keep it under some control. I feared that if I messed with the story I had lived with for so long, the pain would run wild, like an unchained animal. Yet the scientific evidence was showing me something clear, and I couldn’t ignore it.”
    • This reminds me of an article that made an impression upon me back in 2003: The Pursuit of Happiness (Benjamin Healy interviewing Carl Elliott, The Atlantic): “On Prozac, Sisyphus might well push the boulder back up the mountain with more enthusiasm and more creativity. I do not want to deny the benefits of psychoactive medication. I just want to point out that Sisyphus is not a patient with a mental health problem. To see him as a patient with a mental health problem is to ignore certain larger aspects of his predicament connected to boulders, mountains, and eternity.”
    • See also Staying Awake Is A Surprisingly Effective Way To Treat Depression (Linda Geddes, Digg):  “‘Sleep deprivation really has opposite effects in healthy people and those with depression,’ says Benedetti. If you’re healthy and you don’t sleep, you’ll feel in a bad mood. But if you’re depressed, it can prompt an immediate improvement in mood, and in cognitive abilities.”
  3. Follow up to last week: Bolivia’s President Revokes Evangelism Restrictions (Morgan Lee, Christianity Today): “President Evo Morales Ayma announced that he will tell the South American nation’s Legislative Assembly to repeal the entire penal code in the wake of recent changes that, among other tweaks, introduced severe restrictions on religious freedom.”
  4. Of Money and Morals (Alex Mayyasi, Aeon): “Today, a banker listening to a theologian seems like a curiosity, a category error. But for most of history, this kind of dialogue was the norm.” I was reluctant to read this piece because I’ve read others that were off-puttingly ill-informed, but I was pleasantly surprised.
  5. It’s the (Democracy-Poisoning) Golden Age of Free Speech (Zeynep Tufekci, Wired): “The most effective forms of censorship today involve meddling with trust and attention, not muzzling speech itself. As a result, they don’t look much like the old forms of censorship at all. They look like viral or coordinated harassment campaigns, which harness the dynamics of viral outrage to impose an unbearable and disproportionate cost on the act of speaking out.”

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 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.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 134

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. ‘Walking a line’: The shrewd tactics of the White House’s evangelical gatekeeper (Michelle Boorstein & Sarah Pulliam Bailey, The Washington Post):  “The Senate race in Alabama and Christian nationalist Roy Moore? ‘I’m not involved.’ Trump’s penchant for lying? ‘I don’t want to get into it. Because I don’t focus on those things.’ The GOP tax law that bitterly divided religious leaders? ‘I don’t think there’s an answer.’ ‘For me, that’s all noise,’ he said. ‘It’s not that it isn’t important, but I don’t have time for all that. . . If I did dig into it, I might have stronger opinions, and that would be a distraction for me.’”
  2. The Top 50 Countries Where It’s Most Dangerous to Follow Jesus (Sarah Zylstra, Christianity Today): “For decades, North Korea has clearly been the world’s worst persecutor of Christians. But now, another nation nearly matches it.” Spoiler alert: Afghanistan.
  3. Classical Liberalism Strikes Out (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “Thus, the irony: individualism and statism are not opposites, but grow together in tandem. In our daily partisan politics, we have tended to pit individualism against statism – Ayn Rand against Karl Marx – with conservatives claiming to be individualists and progressives claiming to support an expansive state. But what we have witnessed is the simultaneous growth of both the state and the rise of individualism, not as opposites, but as necessary partners. The world has never seen a more individualistic society nor a more encompassing state. The state has empowered itself by claiming to empower the individual.” This is a very stimulating interview with Notre Dame professor Patrick Deneen. Highly recommended.
  4. Higher Education Is Drowning In BS (Christian Smith, Chronicle of Higher Education): “Ideas and their accompanying practices have consequences. What is formed in colleges and universities over decades shows up for better or worse in the character and quality of our public servants, political campaigns, public-policy debates, citizen participation, social capital, media programming, lower school education, consumer preferences, business ethics, entertainments, and much more. And the long-term corrosive effects on politics and culture can also be repaired only over the long term, if ever. There are no quick fixes here.” Side note: I’ve met Dr. Smith, who is a sociologist at Notre Dame, before. He’s a smart cookie. 
  5. Oprah: Prophet, Priestess … Queen? (Ross Douthat, New York Times):  “American culture is divided between three broad approaches to religious questions: one traditional, one spiritual and one secular. The traditional approach takes various forms (Catholic and Protestant, Muslim and Orthodox Jewish) but its instincts are creedal, confessional, dogmatic; it believes in a specific revelation, a specific authority and a specific holy book, and seeks to conform itself to teachings handed down from the religious past. The secular approach is post-religious, scientistic, convinced that the laboratory and the microscope will ultimately account for everything that matters, while hopefully justifying a liberal society’s still-somewhat-Christian moral commitments along the way. But in between secularism and traditionalism lies the most American approach to matters of faith….”
  6. Can We Teach Ourselves to Believe? (Agnes Callard, New York Times): “Pascal seems to concede that trying to believe is a matter of wishful thinking, self-deception or self-manipulation. He thinks we should do it anyway. But I think our hope of becoming better people — whether in respect of religion, friendship or justice, or in any number of different ways — rests on the possibility that there is a more straightforward and less self-abasing way to try to believe.” The author is a professor of philosophy at the University of Chicago. 
  7. The Legion Lonely (Steven Thomas, Hazlitt): “Friendship in adulthood is a challenge for a lot of people. On average, both men and women start to lose friends around age 25, and continue to lose friends steadily for the rest of our lives.”

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 Obstinacy In Belief (C.S. Lewis, The Sewanee Review): this is a rewarding essay from way back in 1955. (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 133

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. Fractured West (Michael Totten, City Journal): “…I interviewed a gay Native American who sports an ‘I Stand with Standing Rock’ T-shirt on his Facebook page. You might think that a gay Native American must have voted for Hillary Clinton, but you would be wrong.” This is a tremendously fascinating article about Oregon politics.
    • Speaking of Oregon: Collective Action Kills Innovation (Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution): “Most of the rest of the America–where people pump their own gas everyday without a second thought–is having a good laugh at Oregon’s expense. But I am not here to laugh because in every state but one where you can pump your own gas you can’t open a barbershop without a license.”
  2. The Hardest Workers Don’t Do the Best Work (Jerry Useem, Bloomberg View): “It turned out that some people who did less just accomplished less. But the top performers also did less, and seemed to have a knack for figuring out how to sidestep inessential tasks to obsess on a few important things.
  3. Reality Has A Surprising Amount of Detail (John Salvatier, personal blog): “The important details you haven’t noticed are invisible to you, and the details you have noticed seem completely obvious and you see right through them. This all makes makes it difficult to imagine how you could be missing something important.”
  4. Why you can’t blame mass incarceration on the war on drugs (German Lopez, Vox): “It’s not drug offenses that are driving mass incarceration, but violent ones. It’s not the federal government that’s behind mass incarceration, but a whole host of prison systems down to the local and state level. It’s not solely police and lawmakers leading to more incarceration and lengthy prison sentences, but prosecutors who are by and large out of the political spotlight.”
  5. “Oh My God, This Is So F—ed Up”: Inside Silicon Valley’s Secretive, Orgiastic Dark Side (Emily Chang, Vanity Fair): “Rich men expecting casual sexual access to women is anything but a new paradigm. But many of the A-listers in Silicon Valley have something unique in common: a lonely adolescence devoid of contact with the opposite sex.”
  6. Two Taxpayers, Two Definitions of ‘Progressive’ (Ramesh Ponnuru, Bloomberg View): “…liberal analyses of the tax cut emphasize that it generally raises after-tax income more for high earners than for low earners. Conservative analyses tend to point out that lower earners will generally see their tax bills decline by the same percentage that higher earners will (and sometimes will see them drop more). Neither side is distorting the truth. They’re looking at the same thing from different angles.”
  7. When Democracy Hinges On a Single Vote (Stephen Carter, Bloomberg View): “…it turns out that we don’t count votes terribly well. A 2012 study found that although some methods of tabulating ballots are better than others, we can generally expect an error rate of 1 to 2 percent. Although we can’t predict which way the errors will fall, it’s unlikely that they will sum precisely to zero – in other words, there will always be mistakes. So each time we count, we can expect a different result.” The author is a law professor at Yale.
  8. Making China Great Again (Evan Osnos, The New Yorker): “For years, China’s startups lagged behind those in Silicon Valley. But there is more parity now. Of the forty-one private companies worldwide that reached “unicorn” status in 2017—meaning they had valuations of a billion dollars or more—fifteen are Chinese and seventeen are American.” Also, I found this bit very amusing: “In the city of Shenzhen, the local government uses facial recognition to deter jaywalkers. (At busy intersections, it posts their names and I.D. pictures on a screen at the roadside.) In Beijing, the government uses facial-recognition machines in public rest rooms to stop people from stealing toilet paper; it limits users to sixty centimetres within a nine-minute period.”

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have The 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)

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 132

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.

There will probably be no email next Friday – I’m going to be visiting family and won’t do much reading on the internet.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Not-So-White Evangelicalism: How Conservative Denominations Actually Fare Better on Diversity (Rebecca Randall, Christianity Today): “In the United States today, 1 in 3 self-identified evangelicals is nonwhite, according to a September study from PRRI. This rises to 4 in 10 evangelicals when measured by theological belief, according to a December study from LifeWay Research. Of those that are white, 1 in 3 attends a multiracial church, reported another study, published in June in the Review of Religious Research. Researchers Joseph Yi and Christopher Graziul dug into the more than 3,000 responses to the 2006 Faith Matters Survey, and found that more than a quarter of white evangelicals reported having a close Hispanic friend. Even more—about 2 out of 5—said they have a close friend that is African American… In other words, evangelicals are now more likely than mainline Protestants to attend multiracial congregations and to report African American and Hispanic friends.”
  2. The Zealous Faith Of Secularism (Mary Eberstadt, First Things): “Paganization as we now know it is driven by a new historical phenomenon: the development of a rival faith—a rival, secularist faith which sees Christianity as a competitor to be vanquished, rather than as an alternative set of beliefs to be tolerated in an open society. How do we know this? We know it in part because today’s secularist faith behaves in ways that only a faith can.”
  3. Is Trump a Blessing or Curse for Religious Conservatives? (Ross Douthat, David French, John Zmirak): “A year in, Trump has delivered on many of his specific promises, particularly where judicial appointments are concerned. At the same time, there’s a great deal of angst within religious circles about what his personal moral defects and his administration’s deep unpopularity mean for Christian cultural witness, and (among evangelicals, especially) whether the Trump era is setting up a kind of generational schism that will contribute to institutional Christianity’s crisis going forward.”
    • Incidentally, I find many people are unaware of (or unwilling to admit) how much Trump has accomplished. See The Show So Far by Tyler Cowen (Marginal Revolution), President Trump’s 2017 Report Card (A First Draft) by Scott Adams, and  A War Trump Won (Ross Douthat, New York Times). Love him or loathe him (apparently the only two options), admit that he’s been busy.
    • Related: Can Evangelicalism Survive Donald Trump and Roy Moore? (Tim Keller, The New Yorker): “Some time ago, the word ‘liberal’ was largely abandoned by Democrats in favor of the word ‘progressive.’ In some ways, the Democratic Party is more liberal now than when the older label was set aside, evidence that it is quite possible to change the name but keep the substance. The same thing may be happening to evangelicalism. The movement may abandon, or at least demote, the prominence of the name, yet be more committed to its theology and historic impulses than ever.” Recommended by an alumnus.
  4. Silicon Valley Is Turning Into Its Own Worst Fear (Ted Chiang, Buzzfeed): “Billionaires like Bill Gates and Elon Musk assume that a superintelligent AI will stop at nothing to achieve its goals because that’s the attitude they adopted.” This essay is built on a clever insight that it presses too far.
  5. What Putin Really Wants (Julia Ioffe, The Atlantic): “[Interfering with the US election] is a stunning escalation of hostilities for a troubled country whose elites still have only a tenuous grasp of American politics. And it is classically Putin, and classically Russian: using daring aggression to mask weakness, to avenge deep resentments, and, at all costs, to survive.” This is a long article.
  6. Why We Shouldn’t Let the #MeToo Movement Change History (David Greenberg, Politico): “Today we remember little more from that era than the taunt that greeted presidential candidate Grover Cleveland in 1884—‘Ma, Ma, Where’s my Pa?’—when he copped to fathering a child with an unwed woman. (He weathered the story, prompting the riposte from his supporters, ‘Gone to the White House, ha, ha, ha.’ Two years later, at age 49, he married a 21-year-old, Frances Folsom, in the White House.)” The author is a professor at Rutgers. This one comes recommended by a student and has a different focus than you probably assume from the title and the excerpt.
  7. Glowing Auras and ‘Black Money’: The Pentagon’s Mysterious U.F.O. Program (Helene Cooper, Ralph Blumenthal and Leslie Kean, New York Times):  “The program collected video and audio recordings of reported U.F.O. incidents, including footage from a Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet showing an aircraft surrounded by some kind of glowing aura traveling at high speed and rotating as it moves. The Navy pilots can be heard trying to understand what they are seeing. ‘There’s a whole fleet of them,’ one exclaims. Defense officials declined to release the location and date of the incident.”

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 The Spiritual Shape of Political Ideas (Joseph Bottum, The Weekly Standard): many modern political ideas are derived from Christian theological concepts. (first shared in volume 1)

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 131

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 Western Elite from a Chinese Perspective (Puzhong Yao, American Affairs): “Certain beliefs are as ubiquitous among the people I went to school with as smog was in Shijiazhuang. The doctrines that shape the worldviews and cultural assumptions at elite Western institutions like Cambridge, Stanford, and Goldman Sachs have become almost religious. Nevertheless, I hope that the perspective of a candid Chinese atheist can be of some instruction to them.” This is quite funny in places, especially his experiences at the Stanford GSB.
  2. University evicts Christian club over leadership faith requirement (Caleb Parke, Fox News): “‘The [University of Iowa] knows that what it is doing to BLinC is unfair, illegal, and unconstitutional,’ the complaint prepared by the firm says, adding that, while BLinC only requires adherence to their beliefs for their leaders and not their members, university policy is that campus organizations can require members to believe a certain way.’” Read the actual legal complaint – it’s straight fire. I was especially tickled by paragraph 76.
  3. How Culture Affects Depression (Marianna Pogosyan, Psychology Today): “However, teaching people that this very complex social, cultural, and biological phenomenon is entirely biological can backfire. It encourages people to ignore environmental factors, and instead, essentialize depression as a characteristic of themselves and their biology.” An interview with a Georgetown psychology professor.
  4. The Warlock Hunt (Claire Berlinski, The American Interest): “Given the events of recent weeks, we can be certain of this: From now on, men with any instinct for self-preservation will cease to speak of anything personal, anything sexual, in our presence. They will make no bawdy jokes when we are listening. They will adopt in our presence great deference to our exquisite sensitivity and frailty. Many women seem positively joyful at this prospect. The Revolution has at last been achieved! But how could this be the world we want? Isn’t this the world we escaped?”
  5. Evangelicals and Domestic Violence: Are Christian Men More Abusive? (Brad Wilcox, Christianity Today):  “…churchgoing evangelical Protestant husbands were the least likely to be engaged in abusive behavior…. Although the empirical story of religion and domestic violence looks good for practicing believers, it’s much less rosy for others. My research suggests that the most violent husbands in America are nominal evangelical Protestants who attend church infrequently or not at all.” Brings to mind Rev 3:15-16 – be hot or cold, not lukewarm. The author is a sociologist at UVA.
  6. I read many articles about the Alabama election – these stood out.
    • Roy Moore and the Invisible Religious Right  (Benjamin Wallace-Wells, The New Yorker): “…what was most notable about the pastors on Moore’s list was their obscurity. I found a list of the pastors of the thirty-six largest churches in Alabama, assembled this summer by the Web site of the Birmingham News; no pastor on that list appeared on Moore’s. I called leaders within the deeply conservative Southern Baptist Church—the largest denomination in Alabama and, for decades, the core of the religious right—and was told that not a single affiliated Southern Baptist pastor in the state was openly allied with Moore.”
    • Roy Moore Had Lowest White Evangelical Support Of Any Alabama Republican In The 21st Century (Lyman Stone, The Federalist): “Exit polls from the Alabama Senate special election on Tuesday show that Roy Moore got 80 percent of the white evangelical vote, but nonetheless went down to defeat. This is shocking, because white evangelicals are a big share of Alabama’s population…. So if it’s a big voting bloc and they’re 80 percent for a candidate, shouldn’t that candidate win?”
    • For a critical take on the above claim: Is it possible that white evangelicals swung the Alabama election against Roy Moore? (Scott Clement, Washington Post): “Moore’s support among white evangelicals is historically low for a Republican. At the same time, the drop-off in Moore’s support among other white groups from previous elections (particularly non-evangelicals, white women and whites with college degrees) is far larger, indicating that evangelicals were far less likely than other typical Republican voters to alter their party support with Moore as a candidate.”
    • And more generally: Pro-life Voters and Pro-Choice Politicians (Michael Wear, personal blog): “The way some invoke conscience in politics reflects an odd morality that puts one’s conscience at risk for supporting a candidate who opposes Roe v. Wade, but rationalizes away moral responsibility for a candidate who intentionally seeks to disenfranchise African-Americans or restrict the right of worship for Muslims or wantonly breaks up families through deportation or mass incarceration. Perhaps abortion as a political issue carries greater moral weight than these other issues—an idea some pro-lifers seem a bit too eager to accept, I have to say—but is there no confluence of evil that can affect the voting calculation of the pro-life person who believes their conscience requires them to vote for whoever the pro-life candidate happens to be?” Wear, an evangelical, was an Obama White House staffer.
    • Also more generally: Why I Can No Longer Call Myself an Evangelical Republican (Peter Wehner, New York Times): “the events of the past few years — and the past few weeks — have shown us that the Republican Party and the evangelical movement (or large parts of them, at least), have become what I once would have thought of as liberal caricatures. Assume you were a person of the left and an atheist, and you decided to create a couple of people in a laboratory to discredit the Republican Party and white evangelical Christianity. You could hardly choose two more perfect men than Donald Trump and Roy Moore.” (this one came recommended by a student)
  7. Is AlphaZero really a scientific breakthrough in AI? (Jose Camacho Collados, Medium):  “I am a researcher in the broad field of Artificial Intelligence (AI), specialized in Natural Language Processing. I am also a chess International Master, currently the top player in South Korea although practically inactive for the last few years due to my full-time research position…. However, there are reasonable doubts about the validity of the overarching claims that arise from a careful reading of AlphaZero’s paper.”  I was recently hyping this to someone and clearly did not know as much about it as I thought. Interesting pushback.
  8. And last but not least : Want to raise employee morale? Treat every day as an experiment (Christos Makridis, Medium): our very own Christos continues to put his work out into the public square. Go, Christos!

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 a provocative read: In Defense of Flogging (Peter Moskos, Chronicle of Higher Education) – the author is a former police officer and now a criminologist at the City University of New York. This one was shared back before I started sending these emails in a blog post called Punishment.

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.