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 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 122

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

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. I knew the fires north of us were bad, but this floored me: Seen From Above: California Fires Reduced Entire Communities to Ash (Josh Haner, Troy Griggs and Anjali Singhvi, New York Times).
  2. America’s Many Divides Over Free Speech (Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic): “An under-appreciated feature of the First Amendment is that even as it assures that almost everyone will hear that which offends them, it spares the country lots of thorny policy fights over speech and expression that would divide an already-polarized country deeply along partisan and racial lines.” This article is full of fascinating statistics. Highly recommended.
  3. 6 Things Trump’s Religious Liberty Memo Does (and Doesn’t) Do (Kate Shellnut, Christianity Today): “While critics have characterized such protections as a ‘license’ to discriminate, religious liberty experts state that the memo—while a major move—does not do everything that advocates have hoped or that opponents have feared.”
  4. Study: Anti-Christian Bias Hasn’t Grown. It’s Just Gotten Richer (Kate Shellnut, Christianity Today): “Sociologist George Yancey analyzed 30-plus years of data to track approval ratings for evangelical and fundamentalist Christians. His big takeaway: What has changed is not the number of Americans who dislike conservative Christians, but which Americans.”
  5. From Aggressive Overtures to Sexual Assault: Harvey Weinstein’s Accusers Tell Their Stories (Ronan Farrow, New Yorker): This is super-disturbing. I include it only in case you have not heard of the wicked events because the next few entries require an awareness of both the charges and their severity.
    • The Pigs of Liberalism (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “Consent alone is not a sufficient guide to ethics…. Older rules of moral restraint were broader for a reason. If your culture’s code is libertine, don’t be surprised that worse things than libertinism flourish.”
    • The Integrity of Harvey Weinstein’s Work (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “Artists are very rarely saints, but that does not compromise the worth of the work that they do. Purging his name from the artistic record is an injustice not simply to Harvey Weinstein, but to the truth. We cannot allow ourselves to get into the habit of lying about history for moral reasons. This is corrupt. Yes, this involves standing up for Harvey Weinstein, but more than that, it involves standing up for the truth.”
    • Harvey Weinstein Contract With TWC Allowed For Sexual Harassment  (TMZ): Wow. You’d think the board would say, “That’s an oddly specific provision to add to the contract. Why are you so keen on this?”
  6. Productive on six hours of sleep? You’re deluding yourself, expert says (Keri Wiginton, Chicago Tribune): “If you were not to set an alarm clock, would you sleep past it? If the answer is yes, then there is clearly more sleep that is needed.”
  7. ‘Our minds can be hijacked’: the tech insiders who fear a smartphone dystopia (Paul Lewis, The Guardian): “Rosenstein purchased a new iPhone and instructed his assistant to set up a parental-control feature to prevent him from downloading any apps. He was particularly aware of the allure of Facebook ‘likes’, which he describes as ‘bright dings of pseudo-pleasure’ that can be as hollow as they are seductive. And Rosenstein should know: he was the Facebook engineer who created the ‘like’ button in the first place.”

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 How Can I Learn To Receive – And Give – Criticism In Light Of The Cross? (Justin Taylor, Gospel Coalition): “A believer is one who identifies with all that God affirms and condemns in Christ’s crucifixion. In other words, in Christ’s cross I agree with God’s judgment of me; and in Christ’s cross I agree with God’s justification of me. Both have a radical impact on how we take and give criticism.” This is based on a longer article (4 page PDF). (first shared in volume 63)

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 118

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. Eat, pray, live: the Lagos megachurches building their very own cities (Ruth Mclean, The Guardian): “Redemption Camp has 5,000 houses, roads, rubbish collection, police, supermarkets, banks, a fun fair, a post office – even a 25 megawatt power plant. In Nigeria, the line between church and city is rapidly vanishing.”
  2. An Open Letter to Ta-Nehisi Coates (Jason D. Hill, Commentary Magazine): a gay black man strongly believes in the American dream and takes issue with Coates’ disparagement of it. “I expected no special treatment because, as an American, I was already part of an exceptional process. My ideas, I had decided on the flight over, would one day be taught in colleges and universities. I will tell you presently the extent to which that willed decision became reality, and why it was possible only in the United States of America.” (incidentally, I featured an essay by Coates back in issue 80)
  3. The Question of Race in Campus Sexual-Assault Cases (Emily Yoffe, The Atlantic): “Kagle believes that men of color—and especially foreign men of color, students from Africa and Asia—were uniquely defenseless when charged with sexual assault, typically lacking financial resources, a network of support, and an understanding of their rights.” I linked Yoffe’s two previous articles in last week’s edition. They should be read in conjunction with Campus Rape, A Survivor’s Story (Bret Stephens, NY Times).
  4. They Serve Gay Clients All The Time. So Why Won’t They Cater A Same-Sex Wedding? (Josh Shepherd, The Federalist): “Phillips choked up with emotion as he continued: ‘You can’t serve God and money. I didn’t open this so I could make a lot of money. I opened it up so it would be a way that I could create my art, do the baking that I love and serve the God that I love in ways that would hopefully honor Him.’” See also Icing on the Cake: Justice Dept. Backs Christian Baker Bound for Supreme Court (Kate Shellnut, Christianity Today). The latter is tremendous news, and presumably due to the influence of Mike Pence.
  5. How Many Churches Does America Have? More Than Expected (Rebecca Randall, Christianity Today): “According to a recent paper published by sociologist Simon Brauer in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, the number of religious congregations in the United States has increased by almost 50,000 since 1998.” You can see the original research here – the researcher is a sociologist at Duke University. Interesting news. It’s almost like the gates of hell cannot prevail against the church. 
  6. Faith groups provide the bulk of disaster recovery, in coordination with FEMA (Paul Singer, USA Today):  “‘About 80% of all recovery happens because of non-profits, and the majority of them are faith-based,’ said Greg Forrester, CEO of the national VOAD. The money is ‘all raised by the individuals who go and serve, raised through corporate connections, raised through church connections,’ and amounts to billions of dollars worth of disaster recovery assistance, he said.”
  7. The Human Fetus Preferentially Engages with Face-like Visual Stimuli (Current Biology, Reid et al): apparently about a month and a half before birth babies can perceive faces through the uterine wall. You can read a popular summary of the research at Seeker: Human Fetuses Can See and React to Faces From Inside the Womb. I found this research both amazing and depressing. I wonder how many babies were excited to be making a new friend up until they were aborted.
  8. Harvard Calls Chelsea Manning Invite A ‘Mistake,’ Rescinds Fellowship Offer — Here’s What’s Going On (Benjamin Goggin, Digg). For a good explanation of reasons so many were opposed to this appointment, read When Transgender Trumps Treachery (James Kirchick, NY Times). Kirchick is gay, which makes his piece all the more interesting to read.

Things Glen Found Amusing

  • Magic 8 Ball (reddit)
  • Too Dumb To Understand (Dilbert)
  • A Frog Prince – Penn and Teller (Youtube)
  • Study: College Students Spend Far More Time Playing Than Studying (Megan Oprea, The Federalist): “The sad truth is that universities have begun to exist for the sake of their own existence, rather than the education of their undergrads. Meanwhile, students are taking their studies less and less seriously as they realize that they need only go through the motions to graduate and get on the job market, which is their ultimate goal. No wonder they’re spending their time on everything except their studies.” Disclaimer: yes, I know the numbers are different at Stanford. I also know you spend more time on non-academic activities than you think. #justsayin

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have Making Sense of the Numbers of Genesis [pdf link] (Carol Hill, Perspectives on Science and the Christian Faith): “Joseph and Joshua were each recorded as dying at age 110—a number considered ‘perfect’ by the Egyptians. In ancient Egyptian doctrine, the phrase ‘he died aged 110’ was actually an epitaph commemorating a life that had been lived selflessly and had resulted in outstanding social and moral benefit for others. And so for both Joseph and Joshua, who came out of the Egyptian culture, quoting this age was actually a tribute to their character. But, to be described as ‘dying at age 110’ bore no necessary relationship to the actual time of an individual’s life span.” You will not agree with everything in this article, but it is full of fascinating insights. (first shared in volume 51)

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 112

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. ‘God’s ACLU’ Seeks Freedom For The Faithful (Tunku Varadarajan, Wall Street Journal): “The progressive or liberal approach is to equate free exercise of religion with the freedom to worship and to deny that it has anything to do with how a person organizes his life. The Becket Fund and others assert that most religions have complete codes governing not only worship but other aspects of conduct. This comprehensive Way of Life—which leads a devoutly Christian baker to decline to decorate a cake for a same-sex wedding, for instance—commands much more from believers than progressives will allow.” Becket is Chi Alpha’s pro bono legal team. The author is a fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution.
  2. For Culturally Illiterate Science Reporters, Canaanite DNA Yields Occasion to Slap Bible Around (David Klinghoffer, Evolution News): Did you see all those headlines suggesting that a DNA study proved the Biblical accounts wrong? Yeah… don’t lose any sleep over that. When someone tells you that the Bible is wrong, don’t assume they actually know what the Bible says. See also a longer and more reflective post from an OT scholar Breaking News: Science Disproves The Bible (but I really like the short and punchy one that’s the main link).
  3. The ‘Prophets’ and ‘Apostles’ Leading the Quiet Revolution in American Religion (Bob Smietana, Christianity Today): “It’s very spontaneous. We went to a conference where a number of apostles were speaking and Bill Johnson was doing a Bible teaching. He had probably talked 20 or 30 minutes, and you could feel the restlessness in the room. He said, ‘I know you are just waiting for me to stop preaching because you want the power. But just hang with me here.’ People weren’t there to listen to him. What they wanted was for him to lay hands on them.” Interesting read that is not entirely fair but also fairly insightful. 
  4. Venezuela’s Unprecedented Collapse (Ricardo Hausmann, Project Syndicate). “Measured in the cheapest available calorie, the minimum wage declined from 52,854 calories per day to just 7,005 during the same period, a decline of 86.7% and insufficient to feed a family of five, assuming that all the income is spent to buy the cheapest calorie.” The author is a Harvard professor and former Venezuelan official.
  5. Why The Scariest Nuclear Threat May Be Coming From Inside The White House (Michael Lewis, Vanity Fair): “The United States government might be the most complicated organization on the face of the earth. Two million federal employees take orders from 4,000 political appointees. Dysfunction is baked into the structure of the thing: the subordinates know that their bosses will be replaced every four or eight years, and that the direction of their enterprises might change overnight—with an election or a war or some other political event.” Fascinating and frightening, even once you factor in the author’s hostility to the Trump administration.
  6. Marriage Matters (W. Bradford Willcox, City Journal): “…young adults who follow three steps—getting at least a high school degree, then working full-time, and then marrying before having any children, in that order—are very unlikely to become poor.” The author is a sociologist at UVA.
  7. From the Enlightenment to the Dark Ages: How “new atheism” slid into the alt-right (Phil Torres, Salon): “As a philosopher — someone who cares deeply about intellectual honesty, verifiable evidence, critical thinking and moral thoughtfulness — I now find myself in direct opposition with many new atheist leaders. That is, I see my own advocacy for science, critical thought and basic morality as standing in direct opposition to their positions.”

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 Reading The Whole Bible in 2016: A FAQ (Gospel Coalition, Justin Taylor). How much time each day would it take you to read the entire Bible in a year? “There are about 775,000 words in the Bible. Divided by 365, that’s 2,123 words a day. The average person reads 200 to 250 words per minute. So 2,123 words/day divided by 225 words/minute equals 9.4 minutes a day.” This article is full of good advice for what could be the best commitment you make all year. Do it! (first shared in volume 31 and useful for any year)

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.