Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 130

On Fridays I share articles/resources about broad cultural, societal and theological issues. Be sure to see the explanation and disclaimers at the bottom. I welcome your suggestions. If you read something fascinating please pass it my way.

Things Glen Found Interesting

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

Things Glen Found Amusing

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have 20 Arguments For God’s Existence (Peter Kreeft, personal website): “You may be blessed with a vivid sense of God’s presence; and that is something for which to be profoundly grateful. But that does not mean you have no obligation to ponder these arguments. For many have not been blessed in that way. And the proofs are designed for them—or some of them at least—to give a kind of help they really need. You may even be asked to provide help.” The author is a philosophy professor at Boston College. (first shared in volume 116)

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

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

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

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

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 129

On Fridays I share articles/resources about broad cultural, societal and theological issues. Be sure to see the explanation and disclaimers at the bottom. I welcome your suggestions. If you read something fascinating please pass it my way.

Things Glen Found Interesting

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

Things Glen Found Amusing

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have Letter To My Younger Self (Ryan Leaf, The Player’s Tribune): “Congratulations. You officially have it all — money, power and prestige. All the things that are important, right?… That’s you, young Ryan Leaf, at his absolute finest: arrogant, boorish and narcissistic. You think you’re on top of the world and that you’ve got all the answers. Well I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but the truth is….” Such a gripping letter. Highly recommended. (first shared in volume 99)

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

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

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

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

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 128

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

Since this is issue 128 and that’s an important number in base 2 and I’m a nerd, I’m going to tweak this issue slightly by giving my actual opinion (or at least the brief version of it) after each article.

Also, I am sad that so much of this week’s email is about sexual harassment. There’s a lot of stuff I would gladly link to if I saw it. To give a few examples: I’d love to see thoughtful articles about what’s happening in Zimbabwe, some insights about the amazing tumult in Saudi Arabia, something more comprehensive about Richard Spencer’s visit to campus (ideally something that deals with the way he treated students, with the accuracy of his core claims about Islam, and with the administration’s decision to bar the doors once people left considered in light of the heckler’s veto), and a piece about how India is developing compared with China. But nope – this week there’s a ton of stuff about men being jerks sprinkled with a handful of other observations.

If you find more edifying fare, please send it my way.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. There are so many sexual assault stories in the news right now. It’s overwhelming. The one I find most interesting at the moment is the story of Republican state legislator Wes Goodman, who made vulgar and unwelcome sexual advances to many young men. Rod Dreher has a strong series of posts about it.
    • Wes Goodman And Religious Conservatism, Inc. (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “Turns out that Ohio State Rep. Wes Goodman, has been leading a secret promiscuous gay life, despite being married and opposing LGBT rights in his career as a conservative activist and legislator. The story is lurid, including allegations (with screenshots) that he propositioned college students who were political activists, inviting them to join him (and sometimes him and his wife) for sex.”
    • More Wes Goodman Fallout (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “ You cannot judge an entire religion — any religion — entirely by the worst behavior of its adherents, any more than you can judge it entirely by the best behavior of its adherents. Nevertheless, it’s a dodge when Christian leaders say, ‘Oh, Billy Graham is who Evangelicals are, not Wes Goodman,’ or ‘St. Teresa of Calcutta is who Catholics are, not Father Geoghan.’ All of us are the best and the worst of our communions. You, with all your sins and all your virtues, are who Catholics/Orthodox/Protestants are, or who Jews are, or Muslims, and so forth. We are both our ideals and our failure to live up to those ideals.”
    • One Of Wes Goodman’s Marks Speaks (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “But I hope that Wes is, like me, a sinner with a future. And this is the second reason that I have not de-friended him yet. Now is the time for him to heartily repent of his sins, believe in Jesus Christ and sincerely and honestly intend by the help of God and the Holy Spirit henceforth to amend his life. Often, the journey in sackcloth and ashes is a lonesome one and one fraught with depression. I have been there. But I hope that if Wes intends to make it, he realizes he doesn’t have to do so alone.”
    • How Washington, DC Predators Target Interns (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “To answer the second question—how sexual predators operate—I want to begin by talking a bit about the kind of place Washington was when I lived there in the early 2010s. Washington is a city that turns over a large sector of its workforce every four months. Roughly corresponding with the academic year, thousands of interns — for the branches of government, for the non-profits, for the consulting firms, for the startups — arrive, sometimes by plane with a single suitcase and sometimes in their parents’ SUVs with the back seats covered with cardboard boxes.”
    • Glen’s take: I know some of you are considering a life in public service. Keep Numbers 32:23  – “your sin will find you out” – close to your heart. The reckoning is coming not only for the state legislator in question but also for those who covered up for him.
    • Related: The absurd arguments we make to defend Roy Moore and Al Franken are getting dangerous (Russell Moore, Washington Post): “Once the next generation comes to see that progressives don’t really care about ‘social justice’ or that conservatives don’t really care about ‘family values’ except as rhetorical tools, they will walk away, toward something else. Note the collapsing trust in institutions, seen in virtually every survey of younger Americans. Many factors account for this, but one driving factor is cynicism, the idea that institutions are just about keeping power for those who already have it.”
    • Also related: The Danger of Knowing You’re on the ‘Right Side of History’ (Andrew Sullivan, NY Mag): “There is a moment here. No party is immune from evil; no tribe has a monopoly of good. If these bipartisan sex-abuse revelations can begin to undermine the tribalism that so poisons our public life, to reveal that beneath the tribes, we are all flawed and human, they may not only be a long-overdue turning point for women. They may be a watershed for all of us.”
  2. What Do We Do with the Art of Monstrous Men? (Claire Dederer, The Paris Review): “They did or said something awful, and made something great. The awful thing disrupts the great work; we can’t watch or listen to or read the great work without remembering the awful thing. Flooded with knowledge of the maker’s monstrousness, we turn away, overcome by disgust. Or … we don’t. We continue watching, separating or trying to separate the artist from the art.” The language in this piece is vulgar.
    • Glen’s take: From a Christian perspective, someone like Bill Cosby or Woody Allen is only a extreme example of a larger issue. Most Hollywood products were made by people who sleep around or watch porn or otherwise violate basic Biblical norms. If wickedness in the creator taints all their creative products then there’s very little for a Christian to read, to listen to, or to watch. Creative works stand or fall on their own apart from the moral virtue of the creator. 1 Corinthian 5:9-13 has relevance for how we relate to culture at large.
  3. Apple Sabotages Itself (Justin Lee, First Things): “A definition of speech narrow enough to exclude decorative arts will almost certainly exclude source code as well. The FBI could easily use such a precedent in court to compel Apple to write code capable of breaching their iPhone users’ privacy.”
    • Glen’s take: I am 100% on the side of Masterpiece Cakeshop. Jack Phillips is right and his critics are dangerously wrong. If he loses his case, unintended consequences will abound. This article highlights one.
  4. Reporting on Paula White and the White House (Julia Duin, GetReligion): this is a follow-up to the profile of White I shared last week and it contains more fascinating anecdotes. “Much of what she told me about 2007, her year from hell when she got divorced, her church was losing members and she was investigated by a U.S. Senate committee didn’t make it into the final draft but she lost 20 pounds during that time. ‘I had my first glass of wine in 2007,’ she said. ‘I asked God permission to cuss. I used every word except His in vain. I searched for what door I’d left open for all this to go wrong.’”
    • Glen’s take: Reading these articles makes me think I would like Paula White. Then again, I’m partial to Paulas. 🙂
  5. Republicans’ beliefs are bending to Trump. Here’s why they might not even notice. (Brian Resnick, Vox): “…when people change their mind on a subject, they have a hard time recalling that they ever felt another way. It’s an intriguing finding in part because it affirms that people think their beliefs are more stable than they actually are.”
    • Glen’s take: As a pastor I observe this all the time. We are all less rational than we believe. “Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool” (Proverbs 28:26a, ESV).
  6. Why would-be parents should choose to get married (The Economist): “You could make enough confetti for a summer of weddings with all the academic papers that show how much children gain from being brought up in stable, loving families, and how much they suffer when those families break down…. And one strong claim that can be made for marriage is that it appears to glue parents together more tightly than any other arrangement.”
    • Glen’s take: It’s enough to make you think God’s plan is wise. Shocking. Also, in case you’ve ever wondered: the Economist doesn’t identify which authors wrote which articles. It’s a philosophy of theirs.
  7. What Are the Lessons of the Post-Weinstein Moment? (Rebecca Traister and Ross Douthat, The Cut): “I do think porn has had some sort of weird effect on the male imagination. And that masturbation plus a morality of consent convinces some men to think, Okay, I accept that the rules say, I can’t actually rape you but under the rules of consent, I’m just standing over here, you know, doing my own thing.
    • Glen’s take: Wow. A civil and intelligent conversation between two very different people who find common ground amidst their differences (where they differ I largely agree with Douthat). A hundred million more conversations like this and our culture might get healthier.

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 hilarious Everything That’s Wrong Of Raccoons (Mallory Ortberg, The Toast): “Once when my dog died a passel of raccoons showed up in the backyard as if to say ‘Now that he’s gone, we own the night,’ and they didn’t flinch when I yelled at them, and I found it disrespectful to 1) me personally and 2) the entire flow of the food chain. Don’t disrespect me if you can’t eat me, you false-night-dogs.” (first shared in volume 97)

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 127

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.

Also, next issue is volume 128, an important computer science number. I should do something to make it special. If you have an idea, let me know.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The Enduring Appeal of Creepy Christianity (David French, National Review): “The Bible doesn’t have a clear, specific prescription for every life challenge. But rather than seeking God prayerfully and with deep humility and reverence, we want answers, now. And thus we gravitate to those people who purport to offer more than the Bible.”
  2. China Tells Christians to Replace Images of Jesus with Communist President (Kate Shellnut, Christianity Today): “‘Many poor households have plunged into poverty because of illness in the family. Some resorted to believing in Jesus to cure their illnesses,’ the head of the government campaign told SCMP. ‘But we tried to tell them that getting ill is a physical thing, and that the people who can really help them are the Communist Party and General Secretary Xi.’”
  3. She led Trump to Christ: The rise of the televangelist who advises the White House (Julia Duin, Washington Post): This is an amazing profile. “White insists that lecturing Trump is not her job. ‘I don’t preach to anyone on behavior modification,’ she says. ‘There are things I can speak, but that’s not anyone’s business what I say. Why would I as a pastor expose that relationship? Everyone needs a safe place in life, and pastors can be people’s safe place. That’s why I have this relationship, because I don’t talk about it.’”
    • Speaking of Trump’s evangelical advisors… What Trump’s Evangelical Advisers Took Out of Egypt (Jayson Casper, Christianity Today): “Rosenberg thanked [Egyptian President] Sisi for rescuing Egypt and its Christians from the Muslim Brotherhood. He commended the president for reaching out to Jews and to Roman Catholics. ‘But there is one group I don’t see: evangelicals,’ he told Sisi. ‘It’s not your fault; probably we haven’t asked. But would you like us to bring a delegation of leaders to come and visit you?’”
  4. A Harvest Of Witnesses (William Mumma, First Things): “The fight for religious liberty is not a sub-category of the electoral contest between Republicans and Democrats. It is a struggle over whether the state has the authority to banish the greatest rival to temporal power that exists. It is the age-old contest between the King and the Church, between Caesar and the Truth. It is a contest over who gets to decide: ‘What is truth?’” The piece is a little partisan, but makes an important point.
  5. The Politicization of Motherhood (James Taranto, Wall Street Journal): “The premise of Ms. Komisar’s book—backed by research in psychology, neuroscience and epigenetics—is that ‘mothers are biologically necessary for babies,’ and not only for the obvious reasons of pregnancy and birth. ‘Babies are much more neurologically fragile than we’ve ever understood,’ Ms. Komisar says.”
  6. Stanford Students Pretend to Support Free Speech, Stumble at Final Hurdle (Stanford Review, Sam Wolfe): “…at 8:40 p.m., 20 minutes after he began his talk, over 150 members of the crowd ostensibly gathered to hear him speak promptly stood up and left, while Arabic music blared from Bluetooth speakers concealed around the hall. The students, planted by SAI, had arrived at the event early to clog up the venue. As a result, dozens of students, many of whom were presumably interested in starting a genuine dialogue with Spencer about his views and rebuffing him, were turned away. I myself arrived at about 7:20 for an event scheduled to begin an hour later, and was one of the last people admitted… imagine if they had, instead of occupying the seats and subsequently vacating them, simply blocked others from entering, and left the seats unfilled that way. The result would have been the same, the intention largely the same, and their actions rightly condemned. This was better than violence, yes, better than shouting Spencer down. But the protest was a deliberate attempt to block students from engaging with Spencer in any capacity.”
  7. Police: ‘Every 16-year-old girl in Fresno’ has been targeted by sex trade recruiters (Rory Appleton, Fresno Bee): the entire story is horrifying. This segment caught my eye: “It is rare for boys to be trafficked, Chastain said, but it does happen. It is even more difficult for detectives to discover these victims because it is almost always done in total secrecy, as even criminal gangs believe trafficking boys goes too far.” The instinct to consider yourself an okay person because at least you don’t do _______ is present even in very wicked people.
  8. Solar eclipse of 1207 BC helps to date pharaohs (Colin Humphreys and Graeme Waddington, Astronomy and Geophysics): “However, a plausible alternative meaning [to the sun and moon standing still in Joshua 10] is that the Sun and Moon stopped doing what they normally do: they stopped shining.” File under speculative – I am not convinced. If true, however, this would be evidence for the later date of the Exodus (13th century vs 15th century). The authors have been using astronomy to study the Bible for some time (see, for example, The Date of the Crucifixion written back in 1985).

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’re going back to an article first shared in volume 95, the long and amazing Book Review: Seeing Like A State (Scott Alexander, Slate Star Codex): “Peasants didn’t like permanent surnames. Their own system was quite reasonable for them: John the baker was John Baker, John the blacksmith was John Smith, John who lived under the hill was John Underhill, John who was really short was John Short. The same person might be John Smith and John Underhill in different contexts, where his status as a blacksmith or place of origin was more important. But the government insisted on giving everyone a single permanent name, unique for the village, and tracking who was in the same family as whom. Resistance was intense.”

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 126

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. For elites, politics is driven by ideology. For voters, it’s not.  (Ezra Klein, Vox): “In theory, ideology comes first and party comes second. We decide whether we’re for single-payer health care, or same-sex marriage, or abortion restriction, and then we choose the party that most closely fits our ideas. You’re a liberal and so you become a Democrat; you’re a conservative and so you become a Republican. The truth, it seems, is closer to the reverse….”
    • I found the above interesting to read in conjunction with this article – it’s on the long side:  The Primal Scream of Identity Politics (Mary Eberstadt, The Weekly Standard): “Isn’t it suggestive that the earliest collective articulation of identity politics came from the community that was first to suffer from the accelerated fraying of family ties, a harbinger of what came next for all? Identity politics cannot be understood apart from the preceding and concomitant social fact of family implosion.”
    • Also relevant: Conservatives, Don’t Dismiss the Sexual Misconduct Claims Against Roy Moore (David French, National Review): “Each day seems to bring a new story of yet another powerful person facing a string of accusations. While there is a danger of a witch hunt, the presence of multiple claims of misconduct from multiple sources should always make us pause — regardless of whether the alleged abuser comes from the Left or the Right. It’s a moral imperative that we not determine the veracity of the allegations by the ideology of the accused.” Roy Moore has been previously mentioned in volumes 121 and 31.
  2. Fires Aren’t the Only Threat to the California Dream (Enrico Moretti, NY Times): “Over the past two years, San Francisco County added 38,000 jobs, reaching its highest employment level ever. Yet only 4,500 new housing units were permitted. For all those new families knocking on San Francisco doors, new units are available for less than 12 percent of them. The numbers for Silicon Valley are even worse. This is why the rents skyrocket. The problem is largely self-inflicted: the region has some of the country’s slowest, most political and cumbersome housing approval processes and most stringent land-use restrictions.” The author is an economics prof at UC Berkeley.
  3. Sculpted By Evolution (David Schmitt, Psychology Today): “…empirical evidence shows that most sex differences are conspicuously larger in cultures with more egalitarian gender roles—as in Scandinavia…. Extremes of sexual freedom beget larger psychological sex differences. Or as explained by Israeli psychologists Shalom Schwartz and Tammy Rubel-Lifshitz, it may be that having fewer gendered restrictions in a culture allows ‘both sexes to pursue more freely the values they inherently care about more.’” The author was mentioned back in volume 113 in connection with the Google gender memo.
  4. Liberal Tradition, Yes; Liberal Ideology, No (R.R. Reno, First Things): this is long, very Catholic, and veers into occasional brilliance. Recommended if that description appeals to you. “Liberalism, properly understood, is not a creed; it is a tradition, a set of institutions, and a habit of mind.”
  5. Something Is Wrong On The Internet (James Bridle, Medium): “…I don’t even have kids and right now I just want to burn the whole thing down. Someone or something or some combination of people and things is using YouTube to systematically frighten, traumatise, and abuse children, automatically and at scale, and it forces me to question my own beliefs about the internet, at every level.” This is really interesting.
  6. John Walton and Israel’s Conquest of Canaan: Did God Really Command Genocide? (Spoiler Alert: No, he didn’t..and the Israelites didn’t claim he did to justify mass killing either) (Joel Anderson, personal blog):  “if you object to what is being described in the book of Joshua, that’s like objecting to the Allies banning Nazism and Nazi symbols in Germany, or to the United States trying to get rid of the Taliban who had inflicted horrendous atrocities on the innocent Afghani people. But who in their right mind would do that?”
  7. Are Christians Supposed To Be Communists? (David Bentley Hart, New York Times): “There were no political ideologies in the ancient world, no abstract programs for the reconstitution of society. But if not a political movement, the church was a kind of polity, and the form of life it assumed was not merely a practical strategy for survival, but rather the embodiment of its highest spiritual ideals. Its ‘communism’ was hardly incidental to the faith.” This is ultimately a meditation on the Greek word koinonia. Hart leaves out some important parts of the New Testament witness (such as 1 Tim 6:17-18 and Acts 5:4) and thereby veers from the truth a little. Still, anytime someone gets a theological op-ed published in the NYT I’m impressed.

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 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).

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 121

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 Exchanged Life (J. Husdon Taylor, a letter to his sister): “It little matters to my servant whether I send him to buy a few cash worth of things, or the most expensive articles. In either case he looks to me for the money, and brings me his purchases. So, if God place me in great perplexity, must He not give me much guidance; in positions of great difficulty, much grace; in circumstances of great pressure and trial, much strength? No fear that His resources will be unequal to the emergency!” (brought to my attention by a student, highly recommended)
  2. The news from Las Vegas is so heartbreaking. Here are a few pieces about it and also about the issue of guns more generally.
  3. A Brief History of Cessationism (Thomas Kidd, Gospel Coalition): “In the 1700s and 1800s, suspicion of claimed miracles was connected to anti-Catholicism. Protestant critics saw the Catholic tradition as riddled with fake claims of miracles. Ridiculing the fake miracle claims of Catholics (such as icons bleeding a liquid that turned out to be cherry juice) became a staple of Reformed polemics against the Catholic Church. So when seemingly miraculous events happened in Protestant churches, even sympathetic observers warned against the threat of bogus miracles.”
  4. The Limits of “Diversity” (Kelefa Sanneh, The New Yorker): “It is possible that ‘diversity’ will ultimately prove too weak a term to do all that is asked of it. Contemporary advocates sometimes emphasize, instead, “inclusion,” a less neutral concept, and one that gestures at the political agendas that inevitably shape these debates.”
  5. ‘Panicked’ London train commuters force open doors, flee onto tracks when man reads the Bible aloud (Douglas Perry, Oregon Live). I’ve said it before – our culture has replaced the fear of God with the fear of religion. It’s a poor trade.
  6. Why the rule of law suffers when we have too many laws (Ilya Somin, Washington Post): “Because of the vast scope of current law, in modern America the authorities can pin a crime on the overwhelming majority of people, if they really want to. Whether you get hauled into court or not depends more on the discretionary decisions of  law enforcement officials than on any legal rule…. the rule of law has largely been supplanted by the rule of chance and the rule of executive discretion. Inevitably, political ideology and partisanship have a major impact on the latter. For example, federal law enforcement priorities are very different under Trump than they were under Obama.”
  7. Roy Moore is a fascinating figure with a compelling story. He’s the guy you might know as “that Ten Commandments judge from the South.” He is running for a seat in the US Senate and he just won the primary election and seems on track to win the general election. There are interesting times ahead as a result.

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 117

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. America’s Changing Religious Identity (Daniel Cox and Robert Jones, PRRI): There’s a lot of data here. One bit that stood out to me: “Atheists and agnostics account for a minority of all religiously unaffiliated. Most are secular. Atheists and agnostics account for only about one-quarter (27%) of all religiously unaffiliated Americans. Nearly six in ten (58%) religiously unaffiliated Americans identify as secular, someone who is not religious; 16% of religiously unaffiliated Americans nonetheless report that they identify as a ‘religious person.’”
  2. Risky road: China’s missionaries follow Beijing west (BBC): “As a self-declared atheist government, news of Chinese Christian missionaries getting into trouble abroad is embarrassing. But at the same time, Beijing needs to show it can protect its citizens as it goes global. As Fenggang Yang, an expert on religion in China at Purdue University, puts it: ‘They thought Christianity was a western religion imported into China, so how can you export Christianity from China?’” Recommended by an alumnus.
  3. There was a lot written about campus sexual assault recently. Here are some standouts:
    • The Campus Sex-Crime Tribunals Are Losing (KC Johnson, Commentary Magazine): “Barrett’s decision marked the 59th judicial setback for a college or university since 2013 in a due-process lawsuit brought by a student accused of sexual assault. (In four additional cases, the school settled a lawsuit before any judicial decision occurred.) This body of law serves as a towering rebuke to the Obama administration’s reinterpretation of Title IX, the 1972 law barring sex discrimination in schools that receive federal funding.”
    • The Uncomfortable Truth About Campus Rape Policy (Emily Yoffe, The Atlantic): “A troubling paradox within the activist community, and increasingly among administrators, is the belief that while women who make a complaint should be given the strong benefit of the doubt, women who deny they were assaulted should not necessarily be believed. ”
    • The Bad Science Behind Campus Response to Sexual Assault (Emily Yoffe, The Atlantic): “The spread of an inaccurate science of trauma is an object lesson in how good intentions can overtake critical thinking, to potentially harmful effect.”
    • Here Is Every Crazy Title IX Rape Case Betsy DeVos Referenced, Plus a Bunch More (Robby Soave, Reason): “Critics of DeVos will say that her plan to reform Title IX is some kind of giveaway to rapists. But it’s not. Today, DeVos recognized a basic and obvious truth that every objective chronicler of the college rape crisis already knows: The Obama-era modifications to Title IX utterly failed to bring justice to campuses.”
  4. To Understand Rising Inequality, Consider the Janitors at Two Top Companies, Then and Now (Neil Irwin, New York Times): “The right product engineer or marketing executive can mean the difference between success or failure, and companies tend to hire such people as full-time employees and as part of a long-term relationship — something like the transmission supplier. What has changed in the last generation is that companies today view more and more of the labor it takes to produce their goods and services as akin to staplers: something to be procured at the time and place needed for the lowest price possible.” Recommended by a student.
  5. I also read a lot about DACA this week:
    • Trump’s decision to end DACA, explained (Daniel Bush, PBS Newshour): “In June, 11 attorneys general — from conservative states like Texas, Arkansas, West Virginia and Kansas — threatened to sue the Trump administration unless it took steps by Sept. 5 to end the program. For months, senior Trump administration officials have expressed concern that DACA would not stand up in court.”
    • Trump Ends DACA, Despite Pleas from Evangelical Advisers  (Kate Shellnut, Christianity Today): “In addition to the 57 percent of US evangelicals that favor citizenship and the 19 percent that favor deportation, 15 percent say DACA recipients should be allowed to become legal residents but not citizens, while 9 percent don’t know.”
    • Can these Democratic attorneys general save DACA? I asked 9 legal experts. (Sean Illing, Vox): The experts seem pessimistic.
    • Donald Trump is right: Congress should pass DACA (Economist): “If you could design people in a laboratory to be an adornment to America they would look like the recipients of DACA…. They are a high-achieving lot. More than 90% of those now aged over 25 are employed; they create businesses at twice the rate of the public as a whole; many have spouses and children who are citizens. They are American in every sense bar the bureaucratic one.”
    • Rescinding DACA Is The Right Thing To Do (David Harsyani, The Federalist): “There are a vast number of solid economic and moral arguments for legalizing the children of illegal immigrants. In substance, I agree with DACA. Yet… the Constitution makes no allowance for the president to write law ‘if Congress doesn’t act.’”
  6. Should a Judge’s Nomination Be Derailed by Her Faith? (Emma Green, The Atlantic): “She and other Democratic senators on the committee seemed troubled by Barrett’s Catholic convictions, particularly on the issues of abortion and same-sex marriage, which came up later during questioning. But when Barrett repeatedly stated that she would uphold the law, regardless of her personal beliefs, they didn’t seem to believe her.” For a less restrained perspective, read Democratic McCarthyites (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative).  And it’s not just conservatives displeased. Check out [Princeton] President Eisgruber asks Senate committee to avoid ‘religious test’ in judicial appointments (Princeton Office of Communications).

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 debate I featured way back in volume 48 between two pastors on guns – both are very thoughtful and are skillful debaters.  All the posts are pretty short.

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.