Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 238

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 Nuclear Family Was a Mistake (David Brooks, The Atlantic): “If you want to summarize the changes in family structure over the past century, the truest thing to say is this: We’ve made life freer for individuals and more unstable for families. We’ve made life better for adults but worse for children. We’ve moved from big, interconnected, and extended families, which helped protect the most vulnerable people in society from the shocks of life, to smaller, detached nuclear families (a married couple and their children), which give the most privileged people in society room to maximize their talents and expand their options. The shift from bigger and interconnected extended families to smaller and detached nuclear families ultimately led to a familial system that liberates the rich and ravages the working-class and the poor.” Highly recommended.
  2. Will Somebody Please Hate My Enemies for Me? (David French, The Dispatch): “Here’s the end result—millions of Christians have not just decided to hire a hater to defend them from haters and to hire a liar to defend them from liars, they actively ignore, rationalize, minimize, or deny Trump’s sins.”
    • Not quite in response, but kinda related: Understanding Why Religious Conservatives Would Vote for Trump (Andrew Walker, National Review): “In my experience, huge numbers of religious conservatives are not proud about voting for Trump. They don’t need any more hot takes denouncing them as irredeemable hypocrites. Their consciences bear a discomfort governed by their love for America and the reputation of their faith. But if these religious conservatives have to choose between the dueling dumpster fires of either Trump or a possible Bernie Sanders presidency, they will vote overwhelmingly for Trump. And anyone who misunderstands this will continue projecting onto religious conservatives the usual tired bromides that refuse to reckon with a complicated situation.”
    • Definitely in response to both articles: Evangelicals Still Agonizing Over Trump (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “It’s not sexy to say it, but I don’t hate people who vote for Trump, I don’t hate people who vote against Trump, I don’t hate people who vote for Sanders, or anybody. I don’t believe we are facing a Twilight Of The Gods showdown between Good and Evil. I believe we are facing a particularly vivid, emotionally charged version of the usual choice between deeply flawed candidates. Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t get worked up into spiting the Other, because if I put myself in their shoes, I can see why they would vote as they do, even if I think they’re wrong. Is this lukewarmness? OK, it’s lukewarmness. But politics are not my god, so I don’t care.” 
  3. Is Critical Race Theory Compatible with Christian Faith? (Gerald McDermott, Juicy Ecumenism): “Slavery and Jim Crow were evil and systemic. Racism is sin. But Christians must not allow their hatred for the sin of racism to so cloud their vision that they put their faith in a philosophy that has become a new religion for its devotees—a religion that in significant ways conflicts with historic Christian faith.” The author is a professor of divinity at Beeson.
  4. Generation Z and Religion: What New Data Show (Melissa Deckman, Religion In Public): “…it appears that the rate of younger Americans departing from organized religion is holding steady… As America heads ever more quickly into becoming a minority majority nation with respect to race/ethnicity, with White Christian America becoming a less dominant presence in society, scholars should pay more attention to how minority groups are starting to shift their religious behavior. My data suggest that these groups are looking very different from counterparts in older generations.” The author is a professor at Washington College. 
    • Is the rise of the nones slowing? Scholars say maybe (Yonat Shimron, Religion News): “There are a couple of possible explanations for the slowing of religious decline: The country’s growing racial diversity…. The culture war sorting is mostly over…. A changing social desirability bias”
    • The Decline of Religion May Be Slowing (Paul A. Djupe and Ryan P. Burge, Religion In Public): “This bombshell finding sent us running for other datasets. Like all good scientists, we trust, but verify. In this post, we run through evidence from the General Social Survey, 2018 Cooperative Congressional Election Study (a RIP favorite), and the recent release of the Voter Study Group panel. The takeaway is that the finding is validated – the rate driving up the religious nones has appeared to be slowing to a crawl.”
    • Reasons to be Cautious About a Gen Z “Religious Rebound” (Joseph O. Baker, Religion In Public): “…if we look at religious salience, Gen Z is less likely to say they are ‘not religious’ (25.3%) compared to Millennials (28.4%), but Gen Z is also less likely to say they are ‘very religious’ (7.8%) compared to Millennials (10.2%). So, if anything, Gen Z is more ‘meh’ about religion.”
  5. What Can We Learn from the #MeToo Moments in Genesis? (Kevin DeYoung, Gospel Coalition): “The first book of the Bible is a picture of sin run amuck. Of course, we also find in Genesis a display of God’s creative power, his plan of redemption, and his sovereign mercy in blessing his undeserving people. But even amid this wonderful good news, we see plenty of examples of the corrupting effects of sin from Genesis 3 through the end of the book. In particular, Genesis is replete with examples of sexual sin.”
  6. Why Didn’t Ancient Rome have Dungeons and Dragons? (Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution): “Innovation doesn’t happen very often. How many people have ever invented a new way of doing anything? If stasis is the norm, then we should expect that many great ideas are routinely overlooked. For an economist this is an uncomfortable thought because we tend to think that profit opportunities are quickly exploited (no $500 bills on the ground). But while that is certainly true for choices within constraints it may not be true for choices that change constraints.”
  7. No One Can Explain Why Planes Stay in the Air (Ed Regis, Scientific American): “accounts of lift exist on two separate levels of abstraction: the technical and the nontechnical. They are complementary rather than contradictory, but they differ in their aims. One exists as a strictly mathematical theory, a realm in which the analysis medium consists of equations, symbols, computer simulations and numbers. There is little, if any, serious disagreement as to what the appropriate equations or their solutions are…. But by themselves, equations are not explanations, and neither are their solutions.” I had low expectations of this article, but it is pretty good.

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have The world will only get weirder (Steven Coast, personal blog): “We fixed all the main reasons aircraft crash a long time ago. Sometimes a long, long time ago. So, we are left with the less and less probable events.” The piece is a few years old so the examples are dated, but it remains very intriguing. (first shared in volume 67

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). And to the extent you can discern my opinions, please understand that they are my own and not necessarily those of Chi Alpha or any other organization I may be perceived to represent. 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. If this was forwarded to you and you want to receive future emails, sign up here. You can also view the archives.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 18

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. Downwardly Mobile For Jesus (Lawrence Lanahan, Al Jazeera): this is a really well-written and engaging story that weaves together faith, race, poverty and justice.
  2. If you are in the social sciences, read this journal article from Behavioral and Brain Sciences: Political Diversity Will Improve Social Psychological Science (summary by one of the authors here). There is an article with related insights at The American Sociologist: How Ideology Has Hindered Sociological Insight. There are many implied religious issues at play besides the political ones which are the focus of these two pieces.
  3. Sad truths: The Decline and Fall Of American Political Debate (John Davidson, The Federalist). Davidson says “our fragmentation and insularity has reached a dangerous tipping point: we no longer agree on what’s real.” Read especially the section labeled “Take Two Recent Examples.”
  4. A surprisingly fascinating article: More Titillated Than Thou: How the Amish Conquered the Evangelical Romance Market (Ann Newumann, The Baffler). Really.
  5. An unexpected perspective: Why The Best Thing This Generation Can Do Is Put Down The Drink (Alexia LaFeta, Elite Daily): the comments section, unsurprisingly, is filled with vitriolic objections. Some of the language in the article, incidentally, is less than refined and genteel.
  6. This is Timi’s mom: Funke Opeke: Nigeria’s Cyber Revolutionary (Femke van Zeijl, Al Jazeera). I hope her name is pronounced the way I am pronouncing it in my head, because that would be awesome. Also, Timi’s mom is a boss.

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.