Glen Davis
Glen, an ordained Assemblies of God minister, is the adviser to Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship at Stanford University. He blogs and maintains a database of quotes.

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Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 454

Fri, May 24th 2024



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.

This is volume 454, a number whose symmetry pleases me.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The Nones Have Hit a Ceiling (Ryan Burge, Substack): “The rise of the nones may be largely over now. At least it won’t be increasing in the same way that it did in the prior thirty years. Of course, the question is why? I don’t know if I have a bulletproof answer. I think the easiest explanation is that a lot of marginally attached people switched to ‘no religion’ on surveys over the last decade or two. Eventually, there weren’t that many marginally attached folks anymore. All you had left were the very committed religious people who likely won’t become nones for any reason. The loose top soil has been scooped off and hauled away, leaving nothing but hard bedrock underneath.”
    • Emphasis removed for readability.
  2. ‘Loud-mouthed bully’: CS Lewis satirised Oxford peer in secret poems (Dalya Alberge, The Guardian): “Joking that an infuriated Lewis had perhaps composed them during one of Wyld’s lectures, Horobin noted that one of them identifies Wyld through an acrostic with the initial letters spelling out the name ‘Henry Cecil Wyld’. He added: ‘On the remaining blank pages he penned a series of additional satirical verses lampooning Wyld – one in English, alongside others in Latin, Greek, French and even Old English.’ ”
    • Even Lewis’s shade was epic and erudite. I love this story. Also, a reminder that every word will be brought into judgement — even words uttered (or penned) in secret. I should mention he would not yet have been a Christian when these poems appear to have been composed.
  3. What Do Students at Elite Colleges Really Want? (Francesca Mari, New York Times): “…everyone arrived on campus hoping to change the world. But what they learn at Harvard, he said, is that actually doing anything meaningful is too hard. People give up on their dreams, he told me, and decide they might as well make money. Someone else told me it was common at parties to hear their peers say they just want to sell out.”
    • Unlocked
  4. Redefining the scientific method: as the use of sophisticated scientific methods that extend our mind (Alexander Krauss, PNAS Nexus): “This study reveals that 25% of all discoveries since 1900 did not apply the common scientific method (all three features)—with 6% of discoveries using no observation, 23% using no experimentation, and 17% not testing a hypothesis. Empirical evidence thus challenges the common view of the scientific method.”
    • From the abstract because it is so succinctly put, but the article itself is easy to read. Recommended. The author is a philosopher of science at the London School of Economics.
  5. American Missionaries Killed in Port-au-Prince (Daniel Silliman, Christianity Today): “Criminal gangs killed nearly 5,000 people in Haiti last year. Then, in 2024, the gangs banded together, turned against the politicians who had once collaborated with them for power, and launched coordinated attacks on the government. The gangs set police stations on fire, shut down the main airport and seaport, and broke open two prisons, releasing an estimated 4,000 inmates. They vandalized government offices, stormed the National Palace, and took control of about 80 percent of the capital.”
  6. Group chats rule the world. (Sriram Krishnan, personal blog): “Most of the interesting conversations in tech now happen in private group chats: Whatsapp, Telegram, Signal, small invite-only Discord groups.… The great culture wars of 2020 meant people, especially in tech, weren’t comfortable sharing their views in public lest they get various online mobs after them.”
  7. What ‘Tradwives’—and Some of Their Critics—Miss (Hannah Anderson, The Dispatch): “But women haven’t been uniquely lied to. Families have been lied to about what their homes can and should be. Men and women alike have been told that their greatest achievements lie outside of it. And yet, a marriage reduced from two ‘careerists’ to one is still serving corporate interests. At best, a woman sacrificing her career to enable her husband’s career (as Butker asserts his wife does and as he counseled new female graduates) misses the point. At worst, it enables the very marketplace that desires nothing more than to creep into our homes and commodify every expression of goodness and beauty that happens there—even if what we’re selling is traditionalism.”

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

  • Stanford University Tour by Drone (YouTube): six minutes (it’s a little long, but the first bit is nice to watch)
  • Will 18 year old Emma Olson FOOL Penn & Teller with a Rubik’s cube? (Penn & Teller Fool Us, YouTube): nine minutes
  • When an Eel Takes a Bite Then an Octopus Might Claim an Eyeball (Joshua Rapp Learn, New York Times): “In each video, the common octopus may sacrifice arms, much as lizards drop their tails to distract predators, Dr. Hernández-Urcera said. In the first video, the octopus loses three arms while the one in the second video loses two — but they can fully regrow limbs in about 45 days, some lab tests show.”
    • Rarely do I find that news articles are improved by embedded videos. This is one of the exceptions. Very cool.
  • Are Plants Intelligent? If So, What Does That Mean for Your Salad? (Elizabeth A. Harris, New York Times): “Obviously we’re animals that need to eat plants. There’s no way around that. But there is a way of imagining a future with agricultural practices and harvesting practices that are more tuned into the life style of the plant, the things it’s capable of and its proclivities. This opens up the world of plant ethics.”
    • The article itself is interesting. The title made me laugh.

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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.

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Paula Davis
Paula, a licensed minister with the Assemblies of God, also serves with Chi Alpha.

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