Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 151

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. These Bombs Led Me To Christ (Kim Phuc Phan Thi, Christianity Today): “You have seen my picture a thousand times. It’s a picture that made the world gasp—a picture that defined my life. I am nine years old, running along a puddled roadway in front of an expressionless soldier, arms outstretched, naked, shrieking in pain and fear, the dark contour of a napalm cloud billowing in the distance.” WHOA.
  2. If I Were 22 Again (John Piper, Desiring God): “There have been about 18,340 days since I turned 22, and I think I have read my Bible on more of those days than I have eaten. I have certainly read my Bible on more of those days that I have watched television or videos.… Read your Bible every day of your life. If you have time for breakfast, never say that you don’t have time for God’s word.” This whole thing is really good. Highly recommended.
  3. What Happened To Alan Dershowitz? (Evan Mandery, Politico Magazine): “Talking to him, it’s not hard to get the impression that exposing that truth—the hypocrisy of both sides—may be his ultimate project. As he sees it, the best way to achieve his goal—and to get it the attention it deserves—is by defending the most odious clients in the most provocative possible way on the very principles liberals claim to love.” I really liked this article.
  4. A Muslim Among Israeli Settlers (Wajahat Ali, The Atlantic): “Ever since the creation of the modern state of Israel—a miracle for the Jews, the Nakba (‘catastrophe’) for the Palestinians—Jerusalem’s daily weather forecast could be described as sunny with a slight chance of apocalypse.”
  5. Give Amnesty for College Writings (David Lat, Wall Street Journal): “Collegiate scribblings from decades ago should have no bearing on one’s fitness for public office, and making an issue of them is bad for the country. College is traditionally a time of experimentation and exploration. We adopt and discard ideas and try out different identities, sometimes in rapid succession. These identities often bear little resemblance to our mature selves— Hillary Clinton was once a ‘Goldwater girl,’ while Clarence Thomas was a Black Panther sympathizer—but exploring them is how we learn about ourselves and acquire wisdom—how we grow up.”
    • Speaking of college writings, here are two pieces by Stanford students. They are presented without any implication that these are views the authors will later recant; rather, by putting them here as sub-bullet points I can tell myself I limited myself to seven topics this week.
    • Think the Right Cares About Free Speech? Not Always. (Annika Nordquist, Stanford Review): “Within American politics, freedom of speech is a topic of great self-righteousness on both fronts. As the Left adopts an increasingly politicized definition of ‘hate speech,’ including even the most mundane topics like ‘microaggressions,’ the Right pats itself on the back for defending natural liberties. Yet in Poland, where progressives have been voted almost entirely out of government, the Right instead restricts the speech of the Left.” That’s our very own Annika.
    • The Original Sin of Stanford Dining (Andrew Friedman, Stanford Review): “Currently 12 administrators run R&DE, along with numerous assistants. If administrators object to turning the school’s food service into a landlord, it is likely because they know leasing space to third party vendors, besides being better for everyone else, could be done by a single person, without the bureaucratic bloat of the current system.”
  6. A real-life Lord of the Flies: the troubling legacy of the Robbers Cave experiment (David Shariatmadari, The Guardian): “The ‘Robbers Cave experiment’ is considered seminal by social psychologists, still one of the best-known examples of ‘realistic conflict theory’. It is often cited in modern research. But was it scientifically rigorous? And why were the results of the Middle Grove experiment – where the researchers couldn’t get the boys to fight – suppressed? … [The researcher’s method was] think of the theory first and then find a way to get the results that match it. If the results say something else? Bury them.”
  7. A Design Lab Is Making Rituals for Secular People (Sigal Samuel, The Atlantic): “Ritual Design Lab has its roots in Stanford’s Institute of Design, where Ozenc and Hagan both teach. In 2015, they proposed a new course on ritual design. To their surprise, more than 100 students signed up. Most were secular.” I largely agree with Rod Dreher’s take: New Rituals For Self-Worship

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 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.

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Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 21

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.

To that end, on Fridays I’ve been sharing articles/resources I have found helpful recently in thinking about broader cultural and societal issues (be sure to see the disclaimer at the bottom). May these give you greater insight, so that you may continue the tradition of Issachar. Past emails are archived at http://glenandpaula.com/wordpress/category/links

Without further ado, I give you the interesting things:

  1. How big of a deal do you have to be for POTUS to interview you? President Obama & Marilynne Robinson: A Conversation In Iowa (NY Review of Books). You might recall that Robinson is speaking at Stanford soon and also that I mentioned her essay “Fear” a few emails back.
  2. Wondering why people are fleeing Syria? Check out Syria’s War: A Five Minute History (a Vox video). This is really well-done. 
  3. There is also violence erupting in Israel. Foreign Policy asks Can Anyone Prevent A Third Intifada?  Incidentally, if you wonder why people are skeptical of the way news concerning Israel is reported, take a look at Returning to the Copy Desk, Briefly (Kevin Williamson, National Review). It is a takedown of a NY Times article showing how much bias can creep into an apparently objective article (this is from the right critiquing the left — for counterexamples search for clips from the Daily Show). Bottom line: it’s really hard to find trustworthy news about Israel.
  4. Lying About Our Religion, and Other Problems With Polling (Religion Dispatches). There really is a problem developing with polling, which is bad news because we rely upon polling in our national life to tell us what the public thinks. Nate Silver is also worried about this — Polling Is Getting Harder, But It’s A Vital Check On Power (FiveThirtyEight).
    • An insightful observation from the “Lying About Our Religion” article: “In a democracy with hundreds of millions of people, how do you know what the public thinks and wants? How do you figure out what binds them together, besides an annual obligation to the IRS and a love of fireworks? In short: how do you know what the public is? Like many hard questions, these problems have been rendered largely invisible, in no small part because “The Public” and “The American People” are favorite fictional characters for politicians and journalists, who speak of them without a trace of precision. So let’s indulge in a quick reality check. The Super Bowl—that national spectacle that unites us around the flickering LCD hearth—had 115 million viewers in the United States last February; in other words, nearly two-thirds of us weren’t watching it. The most-viewed political spectacle of the year, the State of the Union address, draws around 10% of the population. Barack Obama won the 2012 presidential election with 62 million votes, meaning that fewer than 20% of us voted for him. The people have spoken…kind of.”
  5. Quick links:

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.