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 83

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

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

Things Glen Found Interesting

There are a few more links than normal because I missed sending out last weeks’s email.

  1. Northwestern Grad Student Sues Evanston Police; Dashcam Arrest Video Released (Laura Podesta, ABC Chicago Eyewitness News): Lawrence is an alumnus of our ministry. This one hits close to home.
  2. The Sex Bureaucracy (Jacob Gersen & Jeannie Suk Gersen, Chronicle of Higher Education): “Under the rubric of preventing sexual violence, colleges are now deep in the business of providing advice on sex and relationships. And they’re not good at it.” Even from a secular perspective, college administrators are acting absurdly.
  3. We’re Living Through The First World Cyberwar – But Just Haven’t Called It That (Marin Belam, The Guardian): “It is important to remember that the internet originally came from defence research….. we are living through the first time it is being used in anger.”
  4. Putin’s Real Long Game (Molly McKew, Politico): “What both administrations fail to realize is that the West is already at war, whether it wants to be or not…. This war seeks, at home and abroad, to erode our values, our democracy, and our institutional strength; to dilute our ability to sort fact from fiction, or moral right from wrong; and to convince us to make decisions against our own best interests.”
  5. Sugar, Explained (Julia Belluz and Javier Zarracina, Vox): “The backlash against sugar, and the science behind it, is a lot more complicated than it seems.”
  6. The Life And Death Of Evangelicalism’s Little Magazine (John Schmalzbauer,Comment): this was extremely interesting to me, although probably less so to many others.
  7. When There’s No Therapist, How Can The Depressed Find Help? (Joanne Silberner, NPR): Difficult to excerpt – very interesting story.
  8. Sometimes the People Need to Call the Experts (Tyler Cowen, Bloomberg View): There are some good insights here. My favorite line, though, was this: “It’s a good rule of governance that policy cannot race too far ahead of the citizenry, and I don’t view faculty as a class of people well-suited for that kind of humility.”
  9. The Ideological Reasons Why Democrats Have Neglected Local Politics (Emma Green, The Atlantic): “The progressive project is ultimately about working toward a society built on one unified vision of policy and culture, rather than a diverse array of policies and cultures.”
  10. Intellectuals For Trump (Kelefah Sanneh, New Yorker):  “We have grown accustomed to hearing stories about the liberal bubble, but the real story of this year’s election was about the conservative bubble: the results showed how sharply the priorities of the movement’s leaders differed from those of their putative followers.”
  11. Harvard’s George J. Borjas (Robert Verbruggen, The American Conservative): “Perhaps oddly for someone who gained immensely from moving from one country to another, Borjas has spent much of his career trying to answer the questions of who loses from immigration and how much.”

Things Glen Found Entertaining

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

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

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

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

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 80

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

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

Things Glen Found Interesting

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

Things Glen Found Amusing

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

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

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

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

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