Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 190

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. Inside the Secret Facebook War For Mormon Hearts and Minds (Kevin Poulson, The Daily Beast): “We may be resigned to faceless corporations buying their way into our thoughts, but are we ready for a world where our neighbors and in-laws can do the same?” Genius and super-interesting.
  2. The scandal of sexual abuse in Southern Baptist churches:
    • Part One: Abuse of Faith (Robert Downen, Lise Olsen, and John Tedesco, Houston Chronicle): “In all, since 1998, roughly 380 Southern Baptist church leaders and volunteers have faced allegations of sexual misconduct, the newspapers found. That includes those who were convicted, credibly accused and successfully sued, and those who confessed or resigned. More of them worked in Texas than in any other state. They left behind more than 700 victims, many of them shunned by their churches, left to themselves to rebuild their lives. Some were urged to forgive their abusers or to get abortions. About 220 offenders have been convicted or took plea deals, and dozens of cases are pending.”
    • Part Two: Offend, then repeat (Robert Downen, Lise Olsen, and John Tedesco, Houston Chronicle): ”No religion is immune to sexual misconduct in its ranks. But unlike the Roman Catholic Church, which is wrestling with its own sex-abuse scandal, Baptists don’t answer to a pope or bishop. Local church autonomy is a bedrock foundation of Baptist faith. There’s no diocese that assigns priests to a parish. Instead, each church is responsible for ordaining and hiring its own ministers.”
    • Part Three: Preying On Teens (Robert Downen, Lise Olsen, and John Tedesco, Houston Chronicle): “More than 100 Southern Baptists described as former youth pastors or youth ministers are now in prison, are registered as sex offenders or have been charged with sex crimes, the newspapers found. Their most common targets were teenage girls and boys, though smaller children also were molested, sometimes in pastors’ studies and Sunday school rooms.”
    • Southern Baptists and the Scandal of Church Sexual Abuse (Russell Moore, personal blog): “Jesus does not cover up sin within the temple of his presence. He brings everything hidden to light. We should too. When we downplay or cover over what has happened in the name of Jesus to those he loves we are not “protecting” Jesus’ reputation. We are instead fighting Jesus himself. No church should be frustrated by the Houston Chronicle’s reporting, but should thank God for it. The Judgment Seat of Christ will be far less reticent than a newspaper series to uncover what should never have been hidden.” — he also wrote an op-ed for the New York Times a few days after this: Southern Baptists Face Their #MeToo Moment (Russell Moore, New York Times).
    • The Reality of Sexual Abuse Hits Home: What Happened? What Do We Do Now? (Al Mohler, personal blog): “Southern Baptists, by instinct, have practiced a form of moralism that views sexual misbehavior as an isolated event—deal with it and move on. This simplistic moralism reduces sexual abuse and glosses over the severity of the crime. Sexual abuse is not an isolated act of misbehavior; it leaves in its wake scarred victims as well as malicious victimizers. Abuse of this nature snowballs.” This article has some insightful commentary on the unique challenges facing the Southern Baptists because of their structure.
    • Evangelical Apocalypse (Dale M. Coulter, First Things): “As one denominational leader pointed out to me, ministers brought up on charges and dismissed from one denomination have simply gone to another for credentials. It’s not just laity who take advantage of evangelicalism’s big tent to move around. These open networks for ministerial movement from one part of evangelicalism to another allow sexual abusers to escape judgment and start over. We don’t need a database of sexual abusers for the Southern Baptist Convention, we need it for evangelicalism as a whole.” I don’t know how feasible that specific suggestion is, but I do know Coulter is pointing out a real and very hard-to-address problem.
    • In a different neck of the woods: Why Does the Catholic Church Keep Failing on Sexual Abuse? (Emma Green, The Atlantic): “O’Malley’s career, with all of its successes and frustrations, illuminates why the sex-abuse crisis has once again subsumed the Catholic Church—and why this institution, one of the world’s great moral authorities, has been incapable of solving one of the most morally straightforward problems of our time.”
  3. Bill Gates tweeted out a chart and sparked a huge debate about global poverty (Dylan Matthews, Vox): “Hickel argues that focusing on data showing declines in global poverty does political work on behalf of global capitalism, defending an inherently unjust global system that has failed residents of rich and poor nations alike. Pinker agrees that the data supports the idea that capitalism is working for the world’s poorest, and says that’s a decisive rebuttal of Hickel’s narrative of enduring persecution.”
  4. An African-American Woman Reflects on the Transgender Movement (Nuriddeen Knight, Public Discourse): “Paradoxically, the more our society tries to free itself from gender stereotypes, the more it becomes enslaved to them. By saying that people can be born in a body of the wrong gender, transgender activists are saying there is a set of feelings that are only allocated to women and another set for men. Therefore, they believe, those who feel things that do not conform to their sex’s acceptable set of feelings must outwardly change their gender to match their mind.”
  5. Trevor Noah on Liam Neeson’s Racist Confession (YouTube): much more thoughtful than anything else I have come across.
  6. A (Not So) Secular Saint (James K.A. Smith, Los Angeles Review of Books): “Mill’s legacy was effectively ‘edited’ by his philosophical and political disciples, excising any hint of religious life. One would never know from the canon in our philosophy departments, for example, that Mill wrote an appreciative essay on ‘Theism.’”
    • I am pretty sure I shared a similar link before, but I can’t find it searching my archives. Maybe I cut it at the last minute one week. Fascinating regardless.
  7. Science Is The Evangelical Trophy Wife (David Heddle, personal blog): “In many evangelical circles, science has become a trophy wife. Put her front and center, and show her beauty in, say, the form of Hubble nebulae photographs, with the requisite Psalm 19:1 caption, but do not ever let her speak, for she is likely to embarrass you. Her theological utility is only in the pleasant optics, not in the substance.” Beautiful title.

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 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). 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 189

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. Biohackers Encoded Malware In A Strand Of DNA (Andy Greenberg, Wired): “…a group of researchers from the University of Washington has shown for the first time that it’s possible to encode malicious software into physical strands of DNA, so that when a gene sequencer analyzes it the resulting data becomes a program that corrupts gene-sequencing software and takes control of the underlying computer.”
    • WHOA. Also, the term “biohacker” is much cooler than “hacker.”
  2. The Nature of Sex (Andrew Sullivan, NY Magazine): “It’s no accident that some of the most homophobic societies, like Iran, for example, are big proponents of sex-reassignment surgery for gender-nonconforming kids and adults (the government even pays for it) while being homosexual warrants the death penalty…. If you abandon biology in the matter of sex and gender altogether, you may help trans people live fuller, less conflicted lives; but you also undermine the very meaning of homosexuality.”
  3. How A Demon-Slaying Pentecostal Billionaire Is Ushering In A Post-Catholic Brazil (Alexander Zaitchik and Christopher Lord, The New Republic): “When Macedo completed his $249 million headquarters in 2014, his point of comparison wasn’t John Hagee’s megachurch or Pat Robertson’s TV studio. It was the Christ the Redeemer statue atop Mount Corcovado, overlooking Rio de Janeiro, the symbol of Catholic dominance since 1921. In interviews, Macedo made sure to note that his Solomonic church was nearly twice as tall.”
  4. E Pluribus Unum? (Stacey Abrams, Foreign Policy): “…minorities and the marginalized have little choice but to fight against the particular methods of discrimination employed against them. The marginalized did not create identity politics: their identities have been forced on them by dominant groups, and politics is the most effective method of revolt.”
    • I don’t see many straightforward defenses of identity politics. Worth reading.  This is a rebuttal to an article by Francis Fukuyama. Further down the page a few others respond as well, and then he offers a rejoinder.
    • Abrams is a Democratic politician, currently out of office. She was the one chosen to give the Democratic response to Trump’s State of the Union address.
    • A  vaguely related article by one of my students: Failed and Racist: Why Stanford Should Ditch Affirmative Action (Annika Nordquist and Jose Antonio Avalos, Stanford Review): “African American and Hispanic representation at elite universities is actually lower than it was 35 years ago, and the minority students who attend appear to be primarily upper class…. Elite universities are able to pat themselves on the back and pad their promotional materials with pictures of a diverse student body, while leaving minority students genuinely trapped in cycles of poverty almost untouched.”
    • Confession: it’s not really all that related, but I try to limit myself to 7 main bullet points. I also have a commitment to posting stuff that my students get published. This is my best compromise. 🙂  Also, if you’re in Chi Alpha and get something published be sure that I know about it.
  5. The Philosopher Redefining Equality (Nathan Heller, New Yorker): “When she was three, her mother asked, ‘Why do you allow your brother to talk for you?’—why didn’t she speak for herself? ‘Until now, it simply was not necessary,’ Elizabeth said. It was the first full sentence that she had ever uttered.” I think that’s the best first sentence I’ve ever heard of. A tad long, but recommended.
  6. This Black History Month, don’t pretend racism has disappeared from the church (Jemar Tisby, Washington Post): “Many people, including Christians, like to believe that if they were alive during the 1960s, they would have participated in the civil rights movement. If Christians refuse to acknowledge racism and fight against it today, then it is clear where they would have stood half a century ago, too.”
    • Tisby is a Ph.D. candidate in history and graduated from Reformed Theological Seminary.
    • Related: a thoughtful review of Tisby’s book by George P. Wood, an acquaintance of mine.
    • Related: To All The White Friends I Couldn’t Keep (Andre Henry, personal blog): “I thought that if you heard from a black person you trusted—me—that racism is alive and well in our times, that you would come to understand that what happened to Mr. Castile, to Mr. Martin, Ms. Bland, Ms. Boyd, Mr. Sterling, Mr. Brown, Mr. Garner, Mr Grey, Ms. Shirley, Ms. Gaines, and so many others were not unique, isolated incidents but parts of a pattern.”
  7. The State of American Fact-Checking Is Completely Useless (David Harsanyi, The Federalist): “There are plenty of legitimately misleading statements worthy of fact-checkers’ attention. Yet, with a veneer of impartiality, fact-checkers often engage in a uniquely dishonest style of partisanship.”

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 Weight of Glory (C.S. Lewis): It was originally preached as a sermon and then printed in a theology magazine. Related: see the C. S. Lewis Doodle YouTube channel – it’s really good! (first shared in volume 36)

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 188

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. Assessing Betsy DeVos’s Proposed Rules on Title IX and Sexual Assault (Jeannie Suk Gerson, New Yorker): “The truth is that there is much to criticize in DeVos’s proposal but also much that would help to make schools’ processes for handling sexual misconduct fairer to all parties.” Gerson, a Harvard law prof, consistently offers insightful perspective on issues surrounding campus sexual assault.
  2. Cruel and Unusual Punishment (Lionel Shriver, Harpers): “The contemporary impulse to rebuke disgraced creators by vanishing their work from the cultural marketplace exhibits a mean-­spiritedness, a vengefulness even, as well as an illogic. Why, if you catch someone doing something bad, would you necessarily rub out what they’ve done that’s good? If you’re convicted of breaking and entering, the judge won’t send bailiffs around to tear down the tree house you built for your daughter and to pour bleach on your homemade pie.”
  3. How I Knew the #CovingtonBoys Video Was Clickbait (Clair Potter, Public Seminar): “I think the most underreported story about #CovingtonBoys is how it got to us in the first place. It originated with a piece of clickbait that was chosen and edited, by persons unknown, to produce outrage on the right and the left. Originating in a fake account, and proliferated by other fake accounts, it was part of a professional social media campaign intended to disrupt.”
    • Related: Bad, Press (Charles Cooke, National Review): “For a neat illustration of how farcical things have become, take a look at the Washington Post’s most recent ‘fact check,’ which helpfully informs its readers that the claimed ‘one thousand burgers’ President Trump bought for the Clemson football team were not, in fact, ‘piled up a mile high’ because, ‘at two inches each, a thousand burgers would not reach one mile high.’ Democracy dies in darkness, indeed.”
  4. Imagine Nations Were Selfless—It’s No Paradise (Brad Littlejohn, Providence): “We hear often today about how we live in “a global society” and have to take up the responsibilities of “global citizenship.” But what these exhortations miss is that the exponential growth in human knowledge over the past century has not been matched by nearly as rapid growth in human agency. It is now possible for a housewife in Tennessee to be aware of a rape in Bangladesh within hours or minutes, but she is only marginally more able to do anything about it now than she was 100 years ago.” The article as a whole is not great, but it makes a very interesting argument: patriotism is a necessary way to make our empathy productive.
  5. In polarized Washington, a Democrat anchors bipartisan friendships in faith (Jack Jenkins, Religion News Service): “A bridge builder with Republicans, Coons is known for helping create rare flickers of bipartisan agreement. Part of his secret, it seems, is religion…. Coons, who grew up attending Red Clay Creek Presbyterian Church in Hockessin, Del., explained that his faith has not only provided grounding for his own life but has also emerged as a point of connection with Republicans, with whom he has forged lasting relationships — and legislation.”
  6. What The Establishment Right Doesn’t Get (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): this essay, a large part of which is actually commentary from a reader, is like a flamethrower. “…those who preach the bourgeois virtues can’t get a hearing if there is no stable employment for people who do the right thing. And, if those who do the right thing (by which I mean play by the rules: live lives of hard work, fair play, and self-discipline) can find everything kicked out from under them all of a sudden, it destabilizes the entire society.”
    • The follow-up, Liberty, Equality — But Where’s The Fraternity? is also stimulating.
    • Reading the latter one brought to my attention a very short essay by G.K. Chesterton. I highly recommend it. “The English people as a body went blind, as the saying is, for interpreting democracy entirely in terms of liberty. They said in substance that if they had more and more liberty it did not matter whether they had any equality or any fraternity. But this was violating the sacred trinity of true politics; they confounded the persons and they divided the substance.”
  7. 4 Facts Every American Should Know About Third-Trimester Abortions (Joe Carter, Gospel Coalition): “As I noted in an article last week, Democratic legislators in places like New York and Virginia are moving to codify abortion rights in state law to prepare for the day when Roe and Doe are overturned. When the Supreme Court throws the abortion issue back to the individual states, third-trimester abortions will still be protected in states that reiterate Doe’s standards for ‘viability’ or ‘health.’”

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 No Food Is Healthy. Not Even Kale. (Michael Ruhlman, Washington Post): People can be healthy. Food can be nutritious. This is a wonderful essay about how we misuse language to our detriment. If you’re surprised I included this, I believe that our culture has a quasi-religious relationship to health and to food, and I also believe that the use of language is profoundly moral and that our culture is a linguistic mess (to which I know of no finer guide than The Underground Grammarian). (first shared in volume 33)

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 187

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. Emotions Make Terrible Gods (Greg Morse, Desiring God): “We live in an emoji world where self-expression and ‘being the true you’ hold highest priority — no one can tell us how to feel…. In all, the assumption stands: you are your emotions — for better or worse. To repress them is to repress yourself.”
  2. ‘I Was a TSA Agent, and You Fed Me’ (Kate Shellnut, Christianity Today): “But churches, as they join in prayer for a legislative solution, have also stepped up to support community members affected by the budgeting stalemate. Here are 10 places where Christians are reaching out to love their furloughed and unpaid neighbors…” This is an inspiring list. I am struck by both the geographic and the denominational diversity. The extent to which churches bless their communities is difficult to overstate.
  3. Is Big Tech Merging With Big Brother? Kinda Looks Like It (David Samuels, Wired): “A national or global surveillance network that uses beneficent algorithms to reshape human thoughts and actions in ways that elites believe to be just or beneficial to all mankind is hardly the road to a new Eden. It’s the road to a prison camp.”
  4. Death on demand: has euthanasia gone too far? (Christopher de Bellaigue, Guardian): “Altogether, well over a quarter of all deaths in 2017 in the Netherlands were induced.… suicide leaves scars on friends and family that may never heal. But suicide is an individual act, self-motivated and self-administered, and its force field is contained. Euthanasia, by contrast, is the product of society. When it goes wrong, it goes wrong for everyone.” In case you’re reading quickly, read that first sentence again. Over 25%!
  5. The Gay Church (Andrew Sullivan, New York Magazine): “A church that, since 2005, bans priests with ‘deep-seated homosexual tendencies’ and officially teaches that gay men are ‘objectively disordered’ and inherently disposed toward ‘intrinsic moral evil’ is actually composed, in ways very few other institutions are, of gay men.” I find his lack of engagement with Scripture and focus on church history striking and very Catholic.
  6. A lot of articles about the dustup at the March for Life. I find polarizing situations like this fascinating and frequently revealing.
    • The Media Botched the Covington Catholic Story (Caitlin Flanagan, The Atlantic): “Among other things, journalistic ethics held that if you didn’t have the reporting to support a story, and if that story had the potential to hurt its subjects, and if those subjects were private citizens, and if they were moreover minors, you didn’t run the story. You kept reporting it; you let yourself get scooped; and you accepted that speed is not the highest value. Otherwise, you were the trash press.” This piece is brutal. If you only read one of the articles in this section, make it this one.
    • For an example of a harsher perspective: Why do the Covington Catholic kids get the benefit of the doubt? (Laura Turner, Religion News Service): “There’s no virtue in rushing to get in a hot take! But neither is there in ignoring clear evidence of racism and cruelty. As new accounts and new videos of the incident emerged, more stayed the same than changed: Sandmann’s simpering expression remained, as did his immovable opposition to Phillips. (In his ‘Today’ show interview, Sandmann says he now wishes he ‘could’ve walked away and avoided the whole thing.’ The use of ‘could’ve’ is doing a lot of work there — he always could have chosen to walk away. He chose not to.)”
    • The Covington Scissor (Ross Douthat, NY Times): “To understand what makes this incident so brilliant in its divisiveness, you need to see the tapestry in full, how each constituent element (abortion, race, MAGA, white boys, Catholicism, Native American ritual) automatically confirms priors on both sides of our divide. And you also need to see how the video itself, far from being a means to achieving consensus, is an amazing accelerant of controversy…” Douthat’s op-ed is inspired by the short story Sort By Controversial (Scott Alexander, Slate Star Codex). It’s an easy read and I recommend it.
    • Another perspective less sympathetic to the boys: The real politics behind the Covington Catholic controversy, explained (Zack Beauchamp, Vox): “The argument here is not that it’s wrong to care about the Covington students per se. Rather, it’s a kind of disgust at the hypocrisy on display: Conservatives and the mainstream media don’t, in the left-liberal view, ever display the same levels of concern for minority kids accused of actual crimes. All the sympathy being extended to these kids, all the benefit of the doubt, reflects the ability of the privileged to command a level of sympathy that the less privileged lack.”
    • Covington isn’t about facts, but about identity politics. Nick Sandmann committed ‘facecrime’ (Tucker Carlson, Fox News): “People’s views evolve over time. Political divisions can heal and often do. But fights over identity do not; they are different. Identity does not change. It can’t be moderated or controlled. It’s inherent. We’re born that way. When we go to war over who we are, it’s a permanent battle. It is a disaster that lasts for generations. Identity politics will destroy this country faster than a foreign invasion.”
    • The Abyss of Hate Versus Hate (Andrew Sullivan, NY Magazine): “To put it bluntly: They were 16-year-olds subjected to verbal racist assault by grown men; and then the kids were accused of being bigots. It just beggars belief that the same liberals who fret about ‘micro-aggressions’ for 20-somethings were able to see 16-year-olds absorbing the worst racist garbage from religious bigots … and then express the desire to punch the kids in the face…. this is what will inevitably happen once you’ve redefined racism or sexism to mean prejudice plus power. ”
  7. US missionary who engaged with reclusive Brazilian tribe could be charged with genocide (Phoebe Loomes, NZ Herald): “Campbell has claimed that he made the expedition to the remote region at the request of the Jamamadi people, who he is in contact with, as they wanted to learn to use GPS navigators. During this expedition he encountered the isolated Hi-Merimã tribe. For this, Brazilian officials say Campbell could be charged with a slew of offences, including genocide.“
    • Genocide seems much too strong a term for a situation in which no one is known to have died or even so much as sneezed. Maybe the word translated as genocide is broader in Portuguese?
    • Helpful context: Brazil Investigates If US Missionary Encroached on Isolated Amazon Tribe (Kate Shellnut, Christianity Today): “Ribeiro shared concerns about indigenous people receiving assistance from groups appointed by the government, since they rarely stay in a community long enough to build relationships and learn the language. Meanwhile, she says field missionaries often bring high levels of technical training—from anthropology to nursing—while committing to serve for an extended amount of time.”

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 This Is What Makes Republicans and Democrats So Different (Vox, Ezra Klein): the title made me skeptical, but there are some good insights in this article (first shared in volume 32 back in 2016).

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 186

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

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. America in one tweet:“We are living in an era of woke capitalism in which companies pretend to care about social justice to sell products to people who pretend to hate capitalism.” (Clay Routledge, Twitter)
  2. Engineers of the Soul: Ideology in Xi Jinping’s China (John Garnaut, Sinocism): “In classical Chinese statecraft there are two tools for gaining and maintaining control over “the mountains and the rivers”: The first is wu (weapons, violence — 武) and the second is wen (language, culture — 文). Chinese leaders have always believed that power derives from controlling both the physical battlefield and the cultural domain. You can’t sustain physical power without discursive power. Wu and wen go hand-in-hand.”
  3. A Strange Argument for the Commonplace (Cato Unbound, Agnes Callard): “We should not equalize the rich and poor, but rather endeavor to make the poor of tomorrow wealthier than the rich of today.” I’m including this link mostly because of that quote. Also because it has some commentary on Peter Singer which dovetails with a conversation I had earlier this week.
  4. Most Teenagers Drop Out of Church as Young Adults (Aaron Earls, Lifeway Research ): “Almost half (47 percent) of those who dropped out and attended college say moving to college played a role in their no longer attending church for at least a year…. Among all those who dropped out, 29 percent say they planned on taking a break from church once they graduated high school. Seven in 10 (71 percent) say their leaving wasn’t an intentional decision.”
    • The title is a bit misleading. Yes, a majority of young adults who previously attended church do stop attending church for at least one year between the ages of 18–22, but if you look at their underlying research about 70% eventually start attending again. Also, it doesn’t seem to ask whether any of these people were involved in an activity that they might not characterize as church (like Chi Alpha or Intervarsity). I know some of my Chi Alpha students are not currently worshiping with a Sunday morning congregation, but it would be wrong to infer that their faith has been put on pause.
  5. Have Aliens Found Us? A Harvard Astronomer on the Mysterious Interstellar Object ‘Oumuamua (Isaac Chotiner, New Yorker): “Last year, I wrote a paper about cosmology where there was an unusual result, which showed that perhaps the gas in the universe was much colder than we expected. And so we postulated that maybe dark matter has some property that makes the gas cooler. And nobody cares, nobody is worried about it, no one says it is not science. Everyone says that is mainstream—to consider dark matter, a substance we have never seen. That’s completely fine. It doesn’t bother anyone. But when you mention the possibility that there could be equipment out there that is coming from another civilization—which, to my mind, is much less speculative, because we have already sent things into space—then that is regarded as unscientific.”
    • I am skeptical, but I find the conversation fascinating. Related: an article on the Fermi paradox I shared back in volume 159 and an article on government investigation of UFO reports from volume 132.
  6. The marvel of the human dad (Anna Machin, Aeon): “But crucially, dad has not evolved to be the mirror to mum, a male mother, so to speak. Evolution hates redundancy and will not select for roles that duplicate each other if one type of individual can fulfil the role alone. Rather, dad’s role has evolved to complement mum’s.” Dr. Machin is a professor of evolutionary anthropology at Oxford.
  7. The Virtue Signalers Won’t Change the World (John McWhorter, The Atlantic): “Just as the first and second waves of both feminism and antiracism transformed social structures, third-wave antiracism may seem parallel to third-wave feminism in moving on to a different form of abuse, psychological rather than institutional. But this focus on the psychological has morphed, of late, from a pragmatic mission to change minds into a witch hunt driven by the personal benefits of virtue signaling, obsessed with unconscious and subconscious bias. As noble as this culture of shaming genuinely seems to many, it’s a dead end.”
    • A useful, detailed follow-up: The Perils of a Psychological Approach to Anti-racism (Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic): “If the phenomenon McWhorter described is real, we should be able to find leftists who intend to fight bias by calling out psychological harms, only to fall into ‘hypersensitivity, oversimplification, and even a degree of performance’ as participants signal virtue in ways that help no one.”

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 Inside Graduate Admissions (Inside Higher Ed, Scott Jaschick): if you plan to apply to grad school, read this. There is one revealing anecdote about how an admissions committee treated an application from a Christian college student. My takeaway: the professors tried to be fair but found it hard to do, and their stated concerns were mostly about the quality of the institution rather than the faith of the applicant. Troubling nonetheless. (first shared in volume 32)

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 185

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

In case you’re wondering: I just don’t find stories about the Russia investigation or the government shutdown interesting. I think they’re important, but few people are writing things about them that catch my attention. Recommendations are welcome.

Also, one of you mentioned that you sometimes can’t open the links. If you, being a broke college student, ever can’t access an article because of a paywall, try putting http://outline.com/ in front of the link. I did it for the first article as an example. Having said that, please support journalism once you are able.

  1. Is Marijuana as Safe as We Think? (Malcolm Gladwell, The New Yorker): “The authors assumed that alcohol use among students would be a predictor of violent behavior, and that marijuana use would predict the opposite. In fact, those who used only marijuana were three times more likely to be physically aggressive than abstainers were; those who used only alcohol were 2.7 times more likely to be aggressive. Observational studies like these don’t establish causation. But they invite the sort of research that could.”
    • This Reporter Took a Deep Look Into the Science of Smoking Pot. What He Found Is Scary. (Stephanie Mencimer, Mother Jones): “I smoked plenty of weed in high school and so did all my friends, and none of us jumped off a balcony or killed anyone—we could barely get off the couch. But the marijuana sold today is not what we smoked, which at 1 percent to 2 percent THC was the equivalent of smoking oregano. Today’s weed is insanely more potent, as are products like “wax” and “shatter”—forms of butane hash oil designed to be vaped or dabbed that come pretty close to 100 percent THC. And these high-potency products usually contain very little CBD oil, the ingredient in cannabis that’s supposed to account for many of its supposed health benefits.”
  2. Is Sunscreen the New Margarine? (Rowan Jacobsen, Outside): “People of color rarely get melanoma. The rate is 26 per 100,000 in Caucasians, 5 per 100,000 in Hispanics, and 1 per 100,000 in African Americans. On the rare occasion when African Americans do get melanoma, it’s particularly lethal—but it’s mostly a kind that occurs on the palms, soles, or under the nails and is not caused by sun exposure. At the same time, African Americans suffer high rates of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, internal cancers, and other diseases that seem to improve in the presence of sunlight, of which they may well not be getting enough. Because of their genetically higher levels of melanin, they require more sun exposure to produce compounds like vitamin D, and they are less able to store that vitamin for darker days. They have much to gain from the sun and little to fear.”
  3. Leaving Religion at Home: Engaging Religious Thought and Action in American Society (Nathalie Kiersznowski, Stanford Politics): “People’s beliefs about the world will inevitably influence their positions on issues like morality, politics, dress, gender, sex and more. Similarly, politicians will naturally support legislation in accordance with their values, religious or not. Many politicians, like Vice President Mike Pence, have faced criticism for allowing religion to shape their political decisions. It would be unwarranted, though, to expect Pence to act ‘un-Christian’ or ‘non-religious’ exclusively at his place of work. The notion of having both a ‘secular public self’ and a ‘religious private self’ is impossible: any private value system will influence decisions throughout all areas of life.”
  4. The case for going to bed at 2:30 am (Kate Shellnut, Vox): “My faith doused our cultural preference for early birds with biblical backing, too, making me feel even guiltier. Within American evangelicalism, many expect faithful Christians to dedicate the ‘first fruits’ of each day to ‘quiet time’ with the Lord (prayers, devotional reading, Bible study). Researchers even found people to be more ‘spiritually aware’ early in the mornings. Faced with these expectations, I really did question whether my habits were sinful: Was I being selfish by staying up late? Was I putting productivity over the natural patterns of work and rest?”
  5. China’s Gulag for Muslims (Mustafa Akyol, New York Times): “…Russia’s gulags are long gone, as is the Communist Party of the Soviet Union that operated them. But now another dictatorship, ruled by another Communist Party, is operating a new chain of prisons that evoke memory of the gulags — more modern, more high-tech, but no less enslaving.”
    • Where Did the One Million Figure for Detentions in Xinjiang’s Camps Come From? (Jessica Batke, ChinaFile): “Two key studies independently arrived around the one million mark, by using limited data samples to estimate what percentage of the ethnic minority Muslim population is detained. Both studies arrive at a detention rate of 10 percent —at least in some areas of Xinjiang—suggesting that just over one million of the region’s 11 million ethnic Uighur population could be in the camps.”
  6. Conquerors of the Courts (David Montgomery, Washington Post): “The society itself lobbies for no policies; it never signs amicus briefs or represents clients in cases. No one at Federalist Society headquarters in Washington dictated Barnett’s moves or told him how to advocate for what positions. It’s just that at a few gatherings made possible by the Federalist Society that Barnett happened to attend, synapses fired, a corner of the hive mind engaged, and Barnett took it from there. Multiply that chemistry tens of thousands of times over the past 36 years and you have the Federalist Society’s true source of power.”
  7. Elected leaders who weaponize religion are playing a dangerous game (Tulsi Gabbard, The Hill): “While I absolutely believe in the separation of church and state as a necessity to the health of our nation, no American should be asked to renounce his or her faith or membership in a faith-based, service organization in order to hold public office.” Gabbard is a Democratic congresswoman representing Hawaii.

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 unfortunately date-specific Reading The Whole Bible in 2016: A FAQ (Gospel Coalition, Justin Taylor): “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 — 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). 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 184

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 Moral Horror of America’s Prisons (Tyler Cowen, Bloomberg): “…if you think America’s current penal system is the very best we can do, that is about the most pessimistic verdict on this country I have ever heard. Has anyone ever suggested that the American prison system is the world’s best? The can-do attitude is one of my favorite features of American life. We just need to apply it a little more broadly.”
  2. The Number 1 Reason For The Decline In Church Attendance… (Thom Ranier, Facts & Trends): “Stated simply, the number one reason for the decline in church attendance is that members attend with less frequency than they did just a few years ago. Allow me to explain. If the frequency of attendance changes, then attendance will respond accordingly. For example, if 200 members attend every week the average attendance is, obviously, 200. But if one-half of those members miss only one out of four weeks, the attendance drops to 175. Did you catch that? No members left the church. Everyone is still relatively active in the church. But attendance declined over 12 percent because half the members changed their attendance behavior slightly.”
  3. Biblical Archaeology’s Top 10 Discoveries of 2018 (Gordon Govier, Christianity Today): “These discoveries, relatively insignificant individually, join with many other discoveries over the decades to give us a great deal of confidence in the historical details contained in the Bible.” Note: these are precisely the sort of mundane, ongoing discoveries we would expect from a book describing real people doing real things in real places. I encourage you to contrast it with the texts of other religions.
  4. Facts Are Not Self-Interpreting (Twitter) — this is a short, soundless video. Recommended.
  5. Evangelical Mega-donors Are Rethinking Money in Politics (Emma Green, The Atlantic): “‘What Christian philanthropists see now, maybe more than in past generations, is the full landscape of how they can deploy their [money] toward the entirety of what God cares about,’ said Josh Kwan, who was recently appointed the head of the Gathering—the organization’s first new leader in its three-decade run.”
  6. Two Roads for the New French Right (Mark Lilla, New York Review of Books): “Continental conservatism going back to the nineteenth century has always rested on an organic conception of society. It sees Europe as a single Christian civilization composed of different nations with distinct languages and customs. These nations are composed of families, which are organisms, too, with differing but complementary roles and duties for mothers, fathers, and children. On this view, the fundamental task of society is to transmit knowledge, morality, and culture to future generations, perpetuating the life of the civilizational organism. It is not to serve an agglomeration of autonomous individuals bearing rights.”
    • This article provoked letters to the editor to which Lilla responded: How to Write About the Right: An Exchange. Lilla ends his rebuttal with this, “For those concerned about the antiliberal forces gaining strength in world politics, the most important thing is to maintain one’s sangfroid. Before we judge we must be sure of what exactly we are judging. We need to take ideas seriously, make distinctions, and never presume that the present is just the past in disguise. Greil Marcus falls into that last trap, I’m afraid, by shifting from discussing the affinities among countries to imagining a Fascist International with poles in the US and Russia. Whatever we are facing, it is not twentieth-century fascism. Hell keeps on disgorging new demons to beset us. And as seasoned exorcists know, each must be called by its proper name before it can be cast out.”
    • There is something helpful about reading about politics in another culture. If you are inclined to skip this because you’re not French, I encourage you to at least skim it.

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). 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 183

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. You Are Doing It Wrong: Reading Entire Books Of The Bible (Tim Miller, Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary): “Imagine being in Rome when the book of Romans was first delivered. Now imagine the reader only reading for three minutes (corresponding to the end of chapter one) and saying, ‘well, that is enough for today, we will read some more tomorrow.’ The crowd would be outraged and would demand the man continue reading.”
  2. Shame Storm (Helen Andrews, First Things): “The more online shame cycles you observe, the more obvious the pattern becomes: Everyone comes up with a principled-sounding pretext that serves as a barrier against admitting to themselves that, in fact, all they have really done is joined a mob. Once that barrier is erected, all rules of decency go out the window, but the pretext is almost always a lie.” I found this essay engrossing.
  3. China’s Detention Camps for Muslims Turn to Forced Labor (Chris Buckley and Austin Ramzy, New York Times): “The evolution of the Xinjiang camps echoes China’s ‘re-education through labor’ system, where citizens once were sent without trial to toil for years. China abolished ‘re-education through labor’ five years ago, but Xinjiang appears to be creating a new version.”
  4. Internet Church Isn’t Really Church (Laura Turner, New York Times): “The intention behind live-streaming services — to make church, and its attendant benefits of community, prayer and worship, available to everyone with a smartphone — is a good one. But it presumes that God is primarily present to us one on one, as individuals, rather than as a community of believers.” Kind of a follow-up to last week’s John Crist video.
  5. A mother’s leap of faith at an African airport, and a 15-year mystery (Petula Dvorak, Washington Post): “The story of Tom and Maya and Zainab is about trust, about listening to your heart over your mind, and about that gut feeling you have when you meet a good person. And it’s a story that could’ve gone horribly wrong.” Heartwarming.
  6. Is There Such a Thing as an Authoritarian Voter? (Molly Worthen, New York Times): “In one of the ironies of history, as the social scientific portrait of humanity grows more psychological and irrational, it comes closer and closer to approximating the old Adam of traditional Christianity: a fallen, depraved creature, unable to see himself clearly except with the aid of a higher power.”
  7. Men and Marriage: Debunking The Ball and Chain Myth (Brad Wilcox & Nicholas Wolfinger, National Marriage Project): “…the benefits of marriage for men are substantial by every conceivable measure, including more money, a better sex life, and significantly better physical and mental health. Yet many men remain ignorant of these benefits, a view seemingly promoted by popular culture.” This is a PDF of a brochure from the Institute for Family Studies. The two authors are sociologists whom I have linked to in previous issues.

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 Alcohol, Blackouts, and Campus Sexual Assault (Texas Monthly, Sarah Hepola): I think this is the most thoughtful secular piece I’ve read on the issue. “Consent and alcohol make tricky bedfellows. The reason I liked getting drunk was because it altered my consent: it changed what I would say yes to. Not just in the bedroom but in every room and corridor that led into the squinting light. Say yes to adventure, say yes to risk, say yes to karaoke and pool parties and arguments with men, say yes to a life without fear, even though such a life is never possible… We drink because it feels good. We drink because it makes us feel happy, safe, powerful. That it often makes us the opposite is one of alcohol’s dastardly tricks.” (first shared in volume 25)

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 182

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. If They Weren’t Taking Notes, How Did the Disciples Remember Jesus’s Exact Teaching? The 3-Step Process for Formulating the 4 Gospels (Justin Taylor, Gospel Coalition): “I might not be able to tell you what I did last week, but I could give you a three-hour lecture about Jesus and the Jewish roots of the Last Supper with zero preparation because I have been talking about it all the time for the last ten years. That’s one key difference between rehearsed memories and incidental memories.”
  2. What Straight-A Students Get Wrong (Adam Grant, New York Times): “The evidence is clear: Academic excellence is not a strong predictor of career excellence. Across industries, research shows that the correlation between grades and job performance is modest in the first year after college and trivial within a handful of years. For example, at Google, once employees are two or three years out of college, their grades have no bearing on their performance.” The author is an organizational psychologist at Penn’s Wharton School.
    • This article was sent to me by an alumna who said, “I sometimes skipped Chi Alpha or other meaningful activities with friends for that one extra hour of studying, which I now regret.”
  3. Hundreds of sex abuse allegations found in fundamental Baptist churches across U.S. (Sarah Smith, Star-Telegram): “One hundred and sixty-eight church leaders were accused or convicted of committing sexual crimes against children, the investigation found. At least 45 of the alleged abusers continued in ministry after accusations came to the attention of church authorities or law enforcement.… Independent fundamental Baptist churches preach separation: Stay separate from the world, separate from non-believers and separate from Christians who do not believe as they do. That includes Southern Baptists, who are deemed by the strict sect as too liberal.” This is horrifying stuff.
  4. China cracks down on Christians — a new era of religious persecution has arrived (Nina Shea and Bob Fu, Fox News): “The government’s repression against the churches is being done in the name of President Xi Jinping’s ‘sinicization’ campaign, ostensibly to strengthen Chinese culture. However, it increasingly appears aimed at removing the Bible and its teachings from Chinese Christianity.” (related coverage at the New York Times)
    • My Declaration of Faithful Disobedience (Wang Yi, Christian Daily Reporter): “As a pastor, my disobedience is one part of the gospel commission. Christ’s great commission requires of us great disobedience. The goal of disobedience is not to change the world but to testify about another world.” A now-imprisoned pastor wrote this letter with instructions that it be published if he was detained for more than 48 hours. STRAIGHT FIRE.
  5. Masterpiece Cakeshop and how “religious liberty” became so toxic (Andrew Koppelman, Vox): “Deep disagreement about moral fundamentals is nothing new; it is what religious diversity consists of. That ought to include disagreement about such fraught matters as sexuality. Moral disagreement about things that matter a lot is an inevitable consequence of a free society. The best we can hope for is to live peacefully together in mutual contempt.” The author is a law professor at Northwestern University.
    • Related: ‘Fairness For All’: Smart Politics, Or A Sellout? (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “…there really is a question of justice within a pluralistic society that conservative Christians have to face. We may sincerely believe that homosexuality is morally wrong, but at what point does the common good require that we agree that gay people have a right to be wrong? Especially because we are asking them to agree that we have a right to be wrong (in their eyes) too.”
    • Response to the above: Misguided Proposal From Christian Leaders and LGBT Activists Is Anything but ‘Fairness for All’ (Ryan T. Anderson, The Daily Signal): “Establishing bad public policy for everyone and then exempting select religious institutions is not acting for the common good—and is certainly not fair for all. And there are better ways forward for those who seek compromise.”
    • Kinda different, but kinda related: The Culture Wars Are Ancient History (Peter Leithart, Christianity Today): “The real fight isn’t between religion and secularism, but between two kinds of religion. His book makes the case that today’s culture war shares much in common with the culture war that rocked ancient Rome.” Insightful.
  6. The Case Against Meritocracy (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “…meritocrats are often educated to be bad leaders, and bad people, in a very specific way — a way of arrogant intelligence unmoored from historical experience, ambition untempered by self-sacrifice. The way of the ‘best and the brightest’ at the dawn of the technocratic era and the ‘smartest guys in the room’ decades later, the way of the arsonists of late-2000s Wall Street and the ‘move fast and break things’ culture of Silicon Valley.”
  7. Is Sex Socially Constructed? (Alex Byrne, Arc Digital): “Clearly many animals have belonged to the category female (or male) without existing within a society of any kind. Indeed, there would have been females and males even if life on Earth had been destroyed by an asteroid half a billion years ago and humans had never evolved. Female and male are therefore not socially constructed categories; that is, sex is not socially constructed.” Byrne is the head of MIT’s department of linguistics and philosophy. I shared a related article of his back in issue 177.

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 On Obstinacy In Belief (C.S. Lewis, The Sewanee Review): this is a rewarding essay from way back in 1955. (first shared in volume 6)

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 181

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

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. America’s New Religions (Andrew Sullivan, New York Magazine): “The need for meaning hasn’t gone away, but without Christianity, this yearning looks to politics for satisfaction. And religious impulses, once anchored in and tamed by Christianity, find expression in various political cults. These political manifestations of religion are new and crude, as all new cults have to be. They haven’t been experienced and refined and modeled by millennia of practice and thought. They are evolving in real time. And like almost all new cultish impulses, they demand a total and immediate commitment to save the world.”
  2. Is the Protestant Work Ethic Real? (Stephen J. Dubner, Freakonomics): “The randomized controlled trial of a missionary project in the Philippines found that very poor people earned more money as a result of receiving religious instruction. Why? The researchers suspect there were two primary drivers: optimism and grit.”
    • The researchers in question wrote up their research in Randomizing Religion: The Impact of Protestant Evangelism on Economic Outcomes (Gharad T. Bryan, James J. Choi, Dean Karlan, NBER): “To study the causal impact of religiosity, we partnered with International Care Ministries (ICM), an evangelical Protestant anti-poverty organization that operates in the Philippines, to conduct an evaluation that randomly assigned invitations to attend Christian theology and values training.” The authors are affiliated with the London School of Economics, Yale, and Northwestern. The second author, Choi, is an evangelical Christian.
  3. Dutch Asylum Service Nears 1,000 Hours, With Evangelicals’ Support (Christianity Today): “A marathon worship service held by a church in the Netherlands to shield a family of asylum seekers has garnered worldwide attention. The feat has proved impressive for its longevity alone—now going on six weeks—but also represents a unique ecumenical moment among Christians in the tiny European nation.”
  4. Former Stanford postdoc criticized for creating the world’s first gene-edited babies (Elena Shao, Stanford Daily): “On Nov. 28, He Jianku — a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford from 2011–2012 — announced to hundreds of scientists, colleagues and journalists that he had created the world’s first genetically edited babies: twin girls with the pseudonyms Lulu and Nana whose DNA he claims to have altered to make them HIV-resistant.” FYI Bill Hurlburt, one of the Stanford bioethics experts interviewed in this article, is a solid believer.
  5. Godspeed: The Pace Of Being Known (Vimeo): a frosh brought this 30 minute video to my attention and said it made her think about how she should be living in her dorm. Recommended.
  6. I read two interesting profiles of famous Christians from the past this week:
    • Phillis Wheatley: An Evangelical and the First Published African American Female Poet (Thomas Kidd, Gospel Coalition): “Phillis Wheatley, the first published African American female poet and a devout Christian, died on December 5, 1784. We can’t be sure of her birthdate, because she was born in West Africa and sold into slavery by 1761.”
    • Evangelical retailer John Wanamaker built fortune by blending faith with business (Mark Kellner, Religion News Service): “Wanamaker, who also served four years as postmaster general of the United States, was foremost an evangelical Christian who melded faith and works, specifically the working of his retail empire. While building the first department store in Philadelphia, he also funded the growth of the city’s first megachurch, which featured a range of social services undergirded by a strong evangelistic outreach. He offered young male employees of his store guidance through a YMCA-like program aimed at promoting spiritual discipline. All employees could spend a summer vacation at a church-run resort, albeit with strict behavioral codes.”
  7. Have U.S. Protestants gone soft on alcohol? (Richard Ostling, Patheos): “…from 2007 to 2017 U.S. deaths attributed to alcohol increased 35 percent, and 67 percent among women (while teen deaths declined 16 percent). These fatalities well outnumber those from opioid overdoses that have roused such public concern…. Only 2 percent of evangelicals admitted they sometimes over-indulge.”

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 Land of We All (Richard Mitchell, The Gift of Fire), an essay  built on this insight: “Thinking can not be done corporately. Nations and committees can’t think. That is not only because they have no brains, but because they have no selves, no centers, no souls, if you like. Millions and millions of persons may hold the same thought, or conviction or suspicion, but each and every person of those millions must hold it all alone.” (first shared in volume 2)

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.

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