Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 369

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 post 369, which I like simply because 3+6=9.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The Sugar Babies of Stanford University (Nicola Buskirk, Substack): “But decades after the unwinding of America’s traditional sexual mores, no new morality has clearly emerged, and young people increasingly find themselves navigating a culture of sexual anarchy, in which — provided an act is consensual — there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong.’ Such thinking has brought us inevitably to the rise of OnlyFans, the normalization of sex work, and the curious story of Stanford University’s sugar babies.”
    • A curious story indeed!
  2. Wikipedia Is Making Us More Political (Samuel D. James, Substack): “There is simply no parallel to this with any other period of media history; the digital age is the very first to say that we should have access to a repository of a person’s most controversial sentences, permanently accessible through their biographical data.… All of these examples amplify the role of politics in culture, by making partisan opinions a vital part of a person’s biographical data. There is no distinction any more between the person who, through their vocational or personal choices, decides to become a political figure, and the person who is perceived as political. What we know about the one is pretty much what we know about the other. Thus, hyper-politicization of everything feels much more normal.”
  3. So you haven’t caught COVID yet. Does that mean you’re a superdodger? (Michaeleen Doucleff, NPR): “Your immune response and these T cells fire up much more quickly [than in a person without the HLA mutation],” Hollenbach says. “So for lack of a better term, you basically nuke the infection before you even start to have symptoms.… It’s definitely luck,” she says. “But, you know, this mutation is quite common. We estimate that maybe 1 in 10 people have it. And in people who are asymptomatic, that rises to 1 in 5.”
    • Related: The COVID-19 pandemic feels over but is not actually over. (Dan Drezner, Substack): “For the time being I will still mask at airports and on airplanes and occasionally in very large indoor gatherings. Other than that, I’m done. I am vaccinated, boosted and had COVID-19 earlier this year, so the prospect of contracting it again seems both less likely and less scary. The thing is, I confess to being unsure whether I have made the right probability calculations.” The author is a professor of international politics at Tufts.
  4. Why Is The Central Valley So Bad? (Scott Alexander, Astral Codex Ten): “A short drive through [the Central Valley] is enough to notice poverty, decay, and homeless camps worse even than the rest of California. But I didn’t realize how bad it was until reading this piece on the San Joaquin River. It claims that if the Central Valley were its own state, it would be the poorest in America, even worse than Mississippi. This was kind of shocking. I always think of Mississippi as bad because of a history of racial violence, racial segregation, and getting burned down during the Civil War. But the Central Valley has none of those things, plus it has extremely fertile farmland, plus it’s in one of the richest states of the country and should at least get good subsidies and infrastructure. How did it get so bad?”
  5. Coverage of churches:
    • Doug Wilson in Idaho:
      1. Pastor Seeks To Make Moscow, Idaho A ‘Christian Town’  (NBC News, YouTube): twelve minutes.
      2. What NBC Didn’t Show You (Douglas Wilson, YouTube): Wilson’s response video, four and a half minutes.
      3. NBC News Lends a Hand (Douglas Wilson, personal blog): “As I have said elsewhere, I am grateful that it was not a hit piece—they let both sides talk, in other words. It was even-handed in that way. At the same time, it was clear that what we were saying must have sounded something like Middle Klingon to them, and this of course affects the editing process.”
    • Gracepoint at Berkeley:
      1. The Ungodly Surveillance of Anti-Porn ‘Shameware’ Apps (Dhruv Mehrotra, Wired): “At its most basic level, the idea is pretty straightforward: Why would anyone watch porn if they are going to have to talk to their parents or pastor about it?… The trouble is, according to Hao-Wei Lin, providing his church leader with a ledger of everything he did online meant his pastor could always find something to ask him about, and the way Covenant Eyes flagged content didn’t help. For example, in Covenant Eyes reports that Hao-Wei Lin shared with WIRED, his online psychiatry textbook was rated ‘Highly Mature,’ the most severe category of content reserved for ‘anonymizers, nudity, erotica, and pornography.’ ”
      2. At Gracepoint Ministries, ‘Whole-Life Discipleship’ Took Its Toll (Curtis Yee, Christianity Today): “Thirty-two former Gracepoint members who spoke with Christianity Today for this story described a culture that was ‘controlling’ and ‘coercive’ for the sake of ministry efficiency. Members said they were manipulated into confessing sins, screamed at by leaders, and overloaded with obligations to the point of illness. To keep members focused on mission work, Gracepoint effectively restricted dating, media consumption, and pet ownership. Leaders directed staff on how to arrange their homes, where to shop for clothes, and what cars to drive.”
  6. Rich Mullins: Ragamuffin, Celebrity, Disciple (Bethel McGrew, Plough): “You might have called him a frustrated struggling artist: a successful artist who never wanted to succeed. When Myrrh records first called to say Amy Grant wanted to record his song ‘Sing Your Praise to the Lord,’ he nearly hung up. But it would be a hit, the first of many. He wrote naturally to the people, complementing his poetic lyricism with a good pop writer’s ear for how to convey profound ideas simply. His arrangements were an eclectic fusion of pop and folk, most famously introducing radio to his signature instrument, the hammered dulcimer. This was the secret sauce that made hit singles out of songs like the atmospheric Western nature poem ‘Calling Out Your Name’ – a tune which, by all the rules of hit singles, should never even have been on the air. As one fan put it, Mullins was weird, but he was also so good that radio had to play him.”
    • Mullins was unique and brilliant and I am still sad he is dead. He was before your time, so I doubt you will believe me when I say that he by himself outweighed the entire Christian music industry that you have been exposed to. But he was that good. It was more than his music. It was his life.

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 Killing Human Monsters (Mark LiVecchi, Providence): “‘The internal condition of God’s external expression of wrath,’ writes the theologian and rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, ‘is grief.’ To the best I can deduce, therein is communicated the complex disposition of the just warrior.… I do not rejoice that I worship a God who kills. I only rejoice that I worship a God who is willing to.” From volume 236.

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 368

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 368, which is apparently how many ways there are to tile a 4×15 rectangle with the pentominoes.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Gradually, then Suddenly (Lawrence Freedman, Substack): “It would of course be premature to pronounce a complete Ukrainian victory in the war because of one successful and unexpected breakthrough. But what has happened over the past few days is of historic importance. This offensive has overturned much of what was confidently assumed about the course of the war.… Russia is losing but it has not yet lost. It still occupies a large chunk of Ukrainian territory and still has substantial military assets in the country.”
    • Good news from Ukraine. The author is professor emeritus of war studies at King’s College in London. He’s not some rando popping off.
  2. An Icon, Not An Idol (Andrew Sullivan, Substack): “The Crown represents something from the ancient past, a logically indefensible but emotionally salient symbol of something called a nation, something that gives its members meaning and happiness. However shitty the economy, or awful the prime minister, or ugly the discourse, the monarch is able to represent the nation all the time. In a living, breathing, mortal person. The importance of this in a deeply polarized and ideological world, where fellow citizens have come to despise their opponents as enemies, is hard to measure. But it matters that divisive figures such as Boris Johnson or Margaret Thatcher were never required or expected to represent the entire nation. It matters that in times of profound acrimony, something unites.”
  3. No Longer Struggling To Believe (John W. Kennedy, AG News): “The first week on campus in Conway, Schiefer went to a Chi Alpha gathering — on accident. She saw a flyer advertising an event with a band. She appreciated the music, but no so much the lyrics. Jesus kept popping up in the words of the choruses. ‘It’s not that I hated Christians,’ says the straightforward Schiefer. ‘I just thought they were stupid.’ Still, Schiefer left the initial meeting with a nagging sensation that she had a void in her life. That first semester, several of her dormmates who treated her with respect regularly went to Chi Alpha gatherings and they invited her along. Soon she began attending every Monday night. ‘I found friendship before faith,’ Schiefer says. ‘My classmates weren’t intimidated by my lack of faith or my asking questions.’ ”
  4. Ex-Alien Judge Speaks Out in Favor of Using the Statutory Term “Alien” Rather Than “Noncitizen” (Eugene Volokh, Reason): “Defenders of ‘noncitizen’ sometimes claim that this word is interchangeable with alien because everyone is a citizen of somewhere, sans the unusual case of the individual who has somehow been rendered stateless. This contention is not an accurate excuse. For one, monarchies exist. A Spanish born person is a ‘subject’ of the Kingdom of Spain, albeit he may have democratic rights. One born in Saudi Arabia is similarly a ‘subject’ of the House of Saud. Even more, a person born in American Samoa or Swains Island is a U.S. national, but not a citizen; he or she cannot vote in federal elections nor hold federal office. These distinctions matter. Words matter. Our federal immigration statutes concern themselves with aliens. This word is not a pejorative nor an insult. I certainly did not consider it an insult to be referred to as an alien in my deportation proceedings.” Fascinating.
  5. The Debate Over Muslim College Students Getting Secret Marriages (Emma Green, The New Yorker): “Mohajir tries to be direct in her book. She writes that ‘there appears to be a profound rise in the prevalence of secret marriages among Muslim Americans, especially polygynous secret marriages,’ in which men take more than one wife. ‘I personally have a major, visceral reaction to polygamy,’ Quraishi-Landes, the Wisconsin scholar, who also edited the book, said. ‘I was, like, ‘I don’t want to normalize secret polygamy. I don’t like that.’ Mohajir replied, ‘Look, the whole book is about real-life relationships. And if people are really in a real-life polygamous relationship, here’s how we can help them make it healthy and not abusive.’ ”
    • I had heard of secret marriages, but I hadn’t considered that secret marriages among young Muslim men would almost certainly be polygamous.
  6. How the Media Fell for A Racism Sham (Jesse Singal, Bari Weiss’s Substack): “For millions of people watching this story unfold, this was yet another example of the ineradicable stain of American racism, of just how little progress we’ve really made. Except it didn’t happen.… All the journalists who credulously reported on this event were wrong—and it was an embarrassing kind of wrong, because the red flags were large, numerous, and flapping loudly. Richardson and her family members reported that racial slurs had been hurled with abandon, loudly and repeatedly, in a crowded gym filled with more than 5,000 people. But the journalists covering this incident never stopped to notice how odd it was that none of these vile slurs were captured by any of the thousands of little handheld cameras in the gym at the time, nor on the bigger cameras recording the match. Nor did they find it strange that in the days following the incident, not a single other eyewitness came forward—none of Richardson’s black teammates, and none of the players for either team.”
    • I’ve been following this story, waiting for a thorough well-put together piece. This is it. It illuminates something very sad about contemporary media.
  7. Blunt Vietnam Marine Tells You Exactly What Happened To Him (Bill Ehrhart, YouTube): sixteen minutes. Recommended by a student — extremely interesting. In the comments the filmmaker recommends watching Magnificent Vietnam Green Beret Tells What Happened To Him (David Christian, YouTube, one hour long!) to hear an equally articulate but differing perspective. I have watched excerpts from it and can confirm he’s a good storyteller and disagrees with the first gent quite strongly. Both recommended if you have the time and are interested in war/foreign policy.

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 Weathering the Storm: How Faith Affects Well-Being (Byron Johnson & Christos Makridis, Public Discourse): “First, and consistent with prior studies, active Christians exhibit 6 percent greater current life satisfaction and are 6 percentage points more likely to report that they are thriving—a measure from Gallup that combines respondent information on both current life satisfaction and expected future life satisfaction over the next five years. Second, and at least as important, we found that SWB is either acyclical or slightly countercyclical for active Christians, whereas it is strongly procyclical for (inactive) Christians and theists.” Christos is an alumnus of our ministry. The study which this article summarizes is on SSRN: Does Religious Affiliation Protect People’s Well-being? Evidence from the Great Recession After Correcting for Selection Effects.  From volume 235.

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 367

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 the 367th installment, notable because 367 is a prime number and also the largest number whose square is composed of strictly increasing digits: 3672 = 134689.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Socialism, Nationalism, and Tolkien (Alec Dent, The Dispatch): “In our time of unprecedented wealth and safety, the once-defeated foe of illiberalism has made a reappearence.… due largely to a lack of appreciation for how good we have things right now, a lack of understanding of how we got here, and a lack of understanding of how a radical overhaul of society would alter the world as we know it.”
  2. The Despotism of Isaias Afewerki (Alex de Waal, The Baffler): “…fighters protested the decision that they should continue to serve without pay for two more years. A group of disabled veterans marched—there’s no verb that conveys the determined collective motion of their wheelchairs, artificial limbs, and sticks—towards the capital to demand their pensions. They were shot at with live ammunition. Some were killed, others were arrested and disappeared.”
    • I’d heard before that Eritrea was worse than North Korea in some ways, but this article really drove it home. Wow.
  3. Why People Are Losing Faith In Public Institutions (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “…if you relied on the Post to tell you about the world you actually live in, it would not have occurred to you that there is any other side to the library story than the virtuous pink-haired queer librarian and her allies versus the mob of bigots. If you are on the Left, isn’t it in your interest to understand why people are so upset, even if you don’t agree with them? Isn’t it in your interest to at least think about why the people of a town would rather defund their library rather than see it used in this way?”
    • This one is wild and Dreher, as they say, has the receipts.
  4. Can an Atheist Be a Moral Realist? (J. Budziszewski, personal blog): “…I can’t see how you can be an atheist and a moral realist at the same time. It is like eating a cake and still having it. If naturalism is true, then aren’t we just meat bags full of water with no dignity? My friend says I am caricaturing his position. Am I missing something, or is he?”
    • This is well argued. The author is a professor of government and philosophy at the University of Texas.
  5. Trump should fill Christians with rage. How come he doesn’t? (Michael Gerson, Washington Post): “I know that people inspired by [Jesus] have done great things in the past — building hospitals for the poor, improving the rights of women and children, militating against slavery, caring for the mentally disabled, working for a merciful welfare state, fighting prejudice, improving global health. But precisely because these things have happened, it is difficult for me to comprehend why so many American evangelicals have rejected the splendor and romance of their calling and settled for the cultural and political resentments of the hard right.”
    • Long and a bit rambly, nonetheless interesting.
  6. Publishing needs JK Rowling to be a monster (Victoria Smith, The Critic Magazine): “The trouble with JK Rowling is that she has done nothing wrong. Back in 2020, she wrote a carefully worded, compassionate piece about sex and gender.… This is a situation in which the punishment has created the crime and it’s one that is needed by members of the publishing industry who have spent years embracing the arguments of the most extreme trans activists while ignoring those of feminists. They need Rowling to be a monster. Otherwise they might have to respond, not just to what Rowling has written, but to the realities of the movement to which they have pledged allegiance.”
  7. Died: Queen Elizabeth II, British Monarch Who Put Her Trust in God (Dudley Delffs, Christianity Today): “The Queen’s love of the Bible and its gospel message led to her participation in the publication of a special book to commemorate her 90th birthday. Titled The Servant Queen and the King She Serves.… Her Majesty personally wrote the foreword, thanking readers for their prayers and good wishes. ‘I have been—and remain—very grateful to … God for His steadfast love. I have indeed seen His faithfulness,’ she wrote. The book was distributed to thousands of churches across the UK and throughout many Commonwealth countries prior to the Queen’s birthday in 2016. The book proved so popular that the Bible Society had to print another 150,000 copies to meet demand.”

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 Big Data+Small Bias « Small Data+Zero Bias (Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution): “Suppose you want to estimate who will win the 2016 US Presidential election. You ask 2.3 million potential voters whether they are likely to vote for Trump or not. The sample is in all ways demographically representative of the US voting population but potential Trump voters are a tiny bit less likely to answer the question, just .001 less likely to answer (note they don’t lie, they just don’t answer).” I was stunned. From volume 234.

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 366

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 the 366th of these missives, which is not only the number of days in a leap year but also  82 + 9+ 102+ 112.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. No Promises (Eve Tushnet, Plough): “In confession you do not seek primarily moral improvement but reconciliation with God. The confessional is less a classroom and more a trysting place. In my own life, my best current understanding of what I’m doing is not that I’ve turned away from drunkenness and to abstinence; abstinence is an absence. It’s slightly more true to say that I am turning from drunkenness to sobriety: a path of peace. But it is most true to say that I hope to turn from drunkenness to Christ. And this in all things: not from vice to virtue but from vice to God.”
  2. Humans Are All More Closely Related Than We Commonly Think (Scott Hershberger, Scientific American): “…our most recent common ancestor probably lived no earlier than 1400 B.C.and possibly as recently as A.D. 55. In the time of Egypt’s Queen Nefertiti, someone from whom we are all descended was likely alive somewhere in the world. Go back a bit further, and you reach a date when our family trees share not just one ancestor in common but every ancestor in common.… somewhere between 5300 and 2200 B.C.,according to Rohde’s calculations.”
    • If only there was an ancient and holy book which attested something similar…
  3. Why Are We in Ukraine? (Christopher Caldwell, Claremont Review of Books): “The attempt to isolate Russia from the American world system has had a striking unintended consequence—the possible founding of an alternative world system that would draw power away from the existing one. Twenty years ago, under George W. Bush, the United States removed the Iraqi deterrent from Iran’s neighborhood, transforming Iran overnight into a regional power. This year, under Joe Biden, the United States has made China a gift of Russia’s exportable food and mineral resources. We are displaying an outright genius for identifying our most dangerous military adversary and solving its most pressing strategic challenge.”
    • In related news, these two articles by Rod Dreher are the clearest things I’ve seen highlighting the problems Europe is facing as a result of the Ukrainian war. Scary times.
    • Neronian Ruling Class Fiddles While West Burns (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “As rich as the West is, it can’t keep its people warm in the winter by burning cash. And so, European households are now being forced to ask if freezing in the dark for Ukraine is something they really want to do. This is not going to happen to Americans — but you should think about how you would react if this were you, and your elderly parents, and your kids. Yes, Putin is an SOB, but this is the real world.”
    • Can You Heat Europe With Von Der Leyen’s Hot Air? (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “To be clear: Putin was wicked to invade Ukraine, and I wish Russia would lose that war. But Russia is not losing that war; the West is. It is unspeakably arrogant for Ursula von der Leyen to say Putin is not being cricket to use economics as a weapon of war, when she and the group of nations she leads have spent the last six months doing exactly the same thing to Russia, only without much effect. Russia, obviously, has the better hand — and it’s playing it. Again: we are ruled by fools who prefer sunny ideological dreams to cold reality … of the sort that’s going to hit European homes and businesses very hard by January.”
  4. Submarine Cables and Container Shipments: Two Immediate Risks to the US Economy if China Invades Taiwan (Christine McDaniel and Weifeng Zhong, Mercatus): “The potential effects of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan on the US economy are far greater than those of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Container shipments to and from major ports in the region, as well as digital flows, would be at direct risk. China and Taiwan are also major suppliers and consumers for US major trading partners around the globe from Japan and Germany to Saudi Arabia. The effects of a crisis or blockade would be felt by every major economy, which, in turn, would produce additional negative effects for the US economy.”
  5. Octopuses Don’t Have Backbones — or Rights (New York Times): “…male blue-ringed octopuses could use touch to recognize females they’d already mated with. After bumping into a former mate, the males fled, perhaps to avoid being eaten. Such research suggests that octopuses and other cephalopods are smart and sensitive.”
    • That’s a funny excerpt. More seriously, I thought this point was quite interesting: “Dr. Niemi said critics have pointed out that animal care committees have rarely denied approval to researchers. But in his experience, this is because committees go back and forth with a scientist to revise the plan until it is acceptable.”
  6. Death in Navy SEAL Training Exposes a Culture of Brutality, Cheating and Drugs (Dave Philipps, New York Times): “Sailors who enter the program bolstered by steroids and hormones can push harder, recover faster and probably beat out the sailors who are trying to become SEALs while clean, said one senior SEAL leader with multiple combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. The inevitable effect, he said, is that a course designed to select the very best will end up selecting only the very best cheaters, and steadily fill the SEAL teams with war fighters who view rules as optional. ‘What am I going to do with guys like that in a place like Afghanistan?’ said the leader. ‘A guy who can do 100 pull-ups but can’t make an ethical decision?’ ” 
    • This story has INSANE details.
  7. New stories on New Apostolic Reformation, Sean Feucht keep assuming a right-wing takeover (Julia Duin, GetReligion): “…he doesn’t claim to be a pastor who’s expected to take a quasi-vow of property; he’s a rock musician who does what other entertainers do: Haul in the cash. He just happens to have put a Christian veneer on it all, and he’s doing for conservatives what liberal Hollywood elites have done for the Left for years.  If you look at Feucht in that light — as an astute entertainer who wisely grasped peoples’ anger at church shut-downs in 2020 and exploited it in a series of concerts — his wealth doesn’t seem as unusual.”
    • I found this piece very interesting. At its best, GetReligion highlights how news stories in major publications get basic facts wrong about religion (especially traditional religions) and miss important insights as a result. This is one of their better pieces in a while.

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  Film Experts: Why Christian Movies Are a Joke (Douglas Wilson): “Stefan Malarney (Hot Tub Time Machine) made the observation that Christian film makers simply refuse to pick material that is true to life. Andre Caproni (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) agreed, adding that unless we address the human condition with integrity, we are denying something essentially spiritual about ourselves.” For the record, this is satire. From volume 233.

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 365

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 365, which is the number of days in most years. In other words, I’ve done the equivalent of working on this email daily for a year. In reality I just add a little bit every day as I’m reading things, but it’s still a big statistic.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. I’m 30. The Sexual Revolution Shackled My Generation. (Louise Perry, Bari Weiss’s Substack): “We need to re-erect the social guard rails that have been torn down. To do that, we have to start by stating the obvious: Sex must be taken seriously. Men and women are different. Some desires are bad. Consent is not enough. Violence is not love. Loveless sex is not empowering. People are not products. Marriage is good. And, above all, listen to your mother.”
    • Warning: the header picture is risque but the article is worth it. The author is not a Christian and unsurprisingly comes to some non-Christian conclusions — still fascinating to see a forceful secular rejection of the sexual revolution.
  2. Racism-related:
    • Black couple sues after they say home valuation rises nearly $300,000 when shown by White colleague (Justin Gamble and Virginia Langmaid, CNN): “Connolly and Mott later re-applied with another lender, and ‘whitewashed’ their home, according to the lawsuit. This included removing photos of their Black family from the home, and having a White colleague present the property to the appraiser. The suit claims this valuation came back at $750,000, more than a quarter of a million dollars higher than 20/20 Valuations’ appraisal of $472,000.”
    • In California’s largest race bias cases, Latino workers are accused of abusing Black colleagues (Margot Roosevelt, Los Angeles Times): “Though the agency tracks the race and ethnicity of victims, it does not compile official statistics on offenders. Nor are there databases of private cases categorized by perpetrators’ race. This makes it hard to gauge the extent of anti-Black hostility from Latino workers. But court filings, victims’ allegations and employer records show that in the last decade, about a third of anti-Black bias suits filed by the EEOC’s Los Angeles and San Francisco offices involved discrimination by Latinos, about a third involved white offenders and a third were unspecific.”
  3. Christian Political Ethics Are Upside Down (David French, The Dispatch): “…both the Republican and Democratic parties are utterly dependent upon their most devout members for their electoral success. As I’ve noted before, nonwhite Democrats (and especially black Democrats) are among the most God-fearing, churchgoing members of American society. At the same time, the Republican Party would be irrelevant without its own white Evangelical base. The bottom line is that Christians in both parties have absolute veto power over (at the very least) the party’s national candidates.”
  4. Silent crisis of soaring excess deaths gripping Britain is only tip of the iceberg (Sarah Knapton, The Telegraph via Yahoo News): “For 14 of the past 15 weeks, England and Wales have averaged around 1,000 extra deaths each week, none of which are due to Covid. If the current trajectory continues, the number of non-Covid excess deaths will soon outstrip deaths from the virus this year – and be even more deadly than the omicron wave. So what is going on? Experts believe decisions taken by the Government in the earliest stages of the pandemic may now be coming back to bite. Policies that kept people indoors, scared them away from hospitals and deprived them of treatment and primary care are finally taking their toll.”
  5. The Rise of the Worker Productivity Score (Jodi Kantor and Arya Sundaram, New York Times): “…two years ago, her employer started requiring chaplains to accrue more of what it called ‘productivity points.’ A visit to the dying: as little as one point. Participating in a funeral: one and three-quarters points. A phone call to grieving relatives: one-quarter point.”
  6. Good conversations have lots of doorknobs (Adam Mastroianni, Substack): “Conversational affordances are things like digressions and confessions and bold claims that beg for a rejoinder. Talking to another person is like rock climbing, except you are my rock wall and I am yours. If you reach up, I can grab onto your hand, and we can both hoist ourselves skyward. Maybe that’s why a really good conversation feels a little bit like floating. What matters most, then, is not how much we give or take, but whether we offer and accept affordances.” The author has a PhD in psychology from Harvard and is doing a postdoc at Columbia studying conversations.
    • Related: Why Your Social Life Is Not What It Should Be (David Brooks, New York Times): “…most of us are systematically mistaken about how much we will enjoy a social encounter. Commuters expected to have less pleasant rides if they tried to strike up a conversation with a stranger. But their actual experience was precisely the opposite. People randomly assigned to talk with a stranger enjoyed their trips consistently more than those instructed to keep to themselves. Introverts sometimes go into these situations with particularly low expectations, but both introverts and extroverts tended to enjoy conversations more than riding solo.”
  7. Put Down the Woke Man’s Burden (James Hankins, First Things): “The Harvard being whipped along by the administrative caste, by contrast, resembles the Children’s Crusade of the Middle Ages: wrong cause, wrong army. And it ends up attacking the wrong enemies.” The author is a history professor at Harvard.
    • Related: Harvard’s Status as Wealthiest School Faces Oil-Rich Contender in the University of Texas (Janet Lorin & Sergio Chapa, Bloomberg): “Oil reached a high of $120 a barrel earlier this year as a result of a war-induced energy crunch. The revenue is expected to help narrow the gap between the Texas system’s $42.9 billion endowment and Harvard’s $53.2 billion as of June 2021. ‘The University of Texas has a cash windfall when everyone is looking at a potential cash crunch,’ said William Goetzmann, a professor of finance and management studies at Yale University’s School of Management. ‘Adjusting your portfolio for social concerns is not costless.’ ”

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 Too much transparency makes the world more opaque. (Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution): “The demand for transparency seems so innocuous. Who could be against greater transparency? But transparency is inimical to privacy. And we care about privacy in part, because we can be more honest and truthful in private than in public.”First shared in volume 233.

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 364

a mix of links more rarified and more spicy than normal

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, the 364th installment, can also be expressed as the sum of consecutive primes: 11 + 13 + 17 + 19 + 23 + 29 + 31 + 37 + 41 + 43 + 47 + 53

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. One Manner of Law (Marilynne Robinson, Harpers): “Almost fifty years ago, I learned by pure accident that a code of law was drawn up in Massachusetts in 1641 that substantially anticipated the Bill of Rights. I happened to read a letter to the editor in the New York Times that mentioned the Massachusetts Body of Liberties. I had a PhD by then and was supposedly an Americanist by training, yet I was learning of this for the first time. When I finally read these laws, I wondered why the narrative of American history did not begin with them.”
  2. The Girls Who Resisted Boko Haram (Jonathon Van Maren, First Things): “While the world demanded their return, the captive girls were under relentless pressure to convert to Islam and marry militants chosen for them. They were threatened with beheading or brutal slavery if they refused. Many of the girls, paralyzed with fear, succumbed. Others buckled under the brainwashing of a militant assigned to inculcate them into the doctrines of Islam. He forced the ‘daughters of infidels’ to take hours-long classes in which they memorized the Quran. The girls were told that if they married, they would receive homes, slaves, and honor. In secret, the girls shared Bible passages and prayed fervently together for strength and rescue. They sang hymns into their hands and cups of water to stifle the sound.”
  3. Why I Left Academia (Since You’re Wondering) (William Deresiewicz, Quillette): “…it wasn’t so much that I wanted to be treated differently than everybody as that I wanted everybody to be treated differently. I wanted the rules to change; I played by the ones that I thought we should have. I insisted on behaving as if I existed in an environment that valued teaching as much as scholarship and intellectualism as much as specialization. Where opening the eyes of a hundred undergraduates was worth as much as supervising one more dissertation, and publishing an essay in a periodical that’s read by tens of thousands was as valuable as adding one more item to the pile of disregarded studies.” This is quite good, more relevant to the humanities than to the sciences. 
  4. I Didn’t Want It to Be True, but the Medium Really Is the Message (Ezra Klein, New York Times): “Americans are capitalists, and we believe nothing if not that if a choice is freely made, that grants it a presumption against critique. That is one reason it’s so hard to talk about how we are changed by the mediums we use. That conversation, on some level, demands value judgments. This was on my mind recently, when I heard Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist who’s been collecting data on how social media harms teenagers, say, bluntly, ‘People talk about how to tweak it — oh, let’s hide the like counters. Well, Instagram tried — but let me say this very clearly: There is no way, no tweak, no architectural change that will make it OK for teenage girls to post photos of themselves, while they’re going through puberty, for strangers or others to rate publicly.’ ”
    • Related: When Bots Write Your Love Story (Samuel D. James, Substack): “That machines are telling us particular stories about our world is one of the main reasons I keep coming back time and again to digital culture, epistemology, and theology. Our default posture toward the Internet is still, to this day, a posture of intuitive belief: to genuinely accept that what we see on the screen is a piece of ‘real life,’ representative of someone who is really somewhere. And in many cases, of course, this is more or less true. But there are also very real cases where the intensity or the vividness of what we see online is disproportionate to its weight or validity outside.”
    • Related: Speech Without Accountability: Reckoning with Anonymous Christian Trolls (Patrick Miller, Mere Orthodoxy): “…there is at least one clear analog to anon speech in the Bible that I have not yet touched on: the speech of the serpent in Eden. He was the first character in Genesis to conceal his identity in order to critique a person—God himself. The first anon words in human history set human history on fire.”
      • This piece is far too long, rambles needlessly, and at one point says something I think very silly. Nonetheless, I read to the end with interest. The best parts were the reflections on anonymous/disguised speech in the Bible.
    • Related: The Seat of Mockers (Brian Mattson, Substack): “The defenders and practitioners of smash-mouth incendiary rhetoric insist that we must do this so as to adequately combat the world and the infiltration of worldliness into the church. It seems to me that in reality, it is the world and the infiltration of worldliness into the church.” This is quite good, and I found it by following a link in the preceding point.
  5. Some links related to the ongoing sexual revolution, mostly critical:
    • Christians Volunteering Pronouns? (Andrew T. Walker, American Reformer): “We should name the pronoun issue for what it is: A language game. Language is about naming reality. Pronouns of any sort are instruments that individuals use to wield power. Pronouns possess power only because the culture we live in deems one’s chosen individual identity to be absolutely central to who one is. Pronouns serve the subjective self, so if one rejects another’s chosen pronouns, it is doubtlessly interpreted as rejecting the person’s attempt at self-description and self-autonomy. That’s what this is all fundamentally about—creating a private field of reality defined by the wishes and fantasies of individuals who know they can provoke submission for fear of cancellation. We should be clear-eyed about this and refuse to go along with it.”
    • Zoophilia: The Last Taboo Will Fall (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “Seriously, how do you stop legalizing zoophilia, especially in a popular culture in which internal barriers within the masses will have been broken down by widespread hardcore pornography? ‘What does my neighbor’s habit of being cornholed by his German shepherd have to do with my marriage?’ say the nitwit libertarians. ‘Animals can’t consent!’ squeal the nitwit liberals, though I hope they have the sense not to say so with their mouth full of ham.”
      • This is a well-documented piece and the updates at the end are very much worth reading, especially the Scalia quote.
    • I Regret Being A Slut (Bridget Phetasy, Substack): “I know regretting most of my sexual encounters is not something a sex-positive feminist who used to write a column for Playboy is supposed to admit. And for years, I didn’t. Let me be clear, being a ‘slut’ and sleeping with a lot of men is not the only behavior I regret. Even more damaging was what I told myself in order to justify the fact that I was disposable to these men: I told myself I didn’t care. I didn’t care when a man ghosted me. I didn’t care when he left in the middle of the night or hinted that he wanted me to leave. The walks of shame. The blackouts. The anxiety. The lie I told myself for decades was: I’m not in pain—I’m empowered. Looking back, it isn’t a surprise that I lied to myself. Because from a young age, sex was something I was lied to about.” This is in no way a Christian article — but it is interesting.
    • Monkeypox And The Face Of Gay Promiscuity (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “I remember being told by the media that gay men were vastly more promiscuous than straight men because society compelled them to be. Normalize homosexuality and grant same-sex marriage, and that would change. I never believed it because I knew perfectly well that gay men were insanely promiscuous not because they were gay, but because they were men. An ordinary male unrestrained by religious or moral scruple, and faced with a wide variety of willing partners who demand no emotional commitment, or even to know one’s name, before having sex — that man will likely behave exactly as most gay men do.”
      • WARNING — the picture in the link is jarring. The comments at the end are quite interesting and not at all what most observers would expect — Dreher really does appreciate his audience even when they disagree with him.
  6. ‘Disturbing’: Experts troubled by Canada’s euthanasia laws (Maria Cheng, Washington Post): “Canada prides itself on being liberal and accepting, said David Jones, director of the Anscombe Bioethics Centre in Britain, ‘but what’s happening with euthanasia suggests there may be a darker side.’”
  7. As India marks its first 75 years, Gandhi is downplayed, even derided (Gerry Shih, Washington Post): “Today, at rallies of Hindu nationalist hard-liners, Gandhi is routinely vilified as feeble in his tactics against the British and overly conciliatory to India’s Muslims, who broke off and formed their own state, Pakistan, on Aug. 14, 1947. On social media and online forums, exaggerations and falsehoods abound about Gandhi’s alleged betrayal of Hindus. And in popular films and the political mainstream, Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru — the first prime minister — are sidelined, while nationalists who advocated the force of arms have been elevated.”

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  Having Kids (Paul Graham, personal blog): “I remember perfectly well what life was like before. Well enough to miss some things a lot, like the ability to take off for some other country at a moment’s notice. That was so great. Why did I never do that? See what I did there? The fact is, most of the freedom I had before kids, I never used. I paid for it in loneliness, but I never used it.” First shared in volume 233.

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 363

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 number 363, which can be represented as 31 + 3+ 3+ 3+ 35

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Why aren’t smart people happier? (Adam Mastroianni, Substack): “My grandma does not know how to use the ‘input’ button on her TV’s remote control, but she does know how to raise a family full of good people who love each other, how to carry on through a tragedy, and how to make the perfect pumpkin pie.… Excluding this kind of intelligence from our definitions doesn’t just hurt our grandmas—it hurts us too. If you don’t value the ability to solve poorly defined problems, you’ll never get more of it. You won’t seek out people who have that ability and try to learn from them, nor will you listen to them when they have something important to say. You’ll spend your whole life trying to solve problems with cleverness when what you really need is wisdom.”
  2. New York City’s Largest Evangelical Church Plans Billion-Dollar Development (Emily Belz, Christianity Today): “On 10.5 acres of church land, the proposed village would include thousands of units of affordable housing, a trade school, a supermarket, a performing arts center, 24/7 childcare for night-shift workers, senior living facilities, and other amenities designed to revitalize the East New York neighborhood.”
    • But I thought churches were leeches on society exploiting their tax-exempt status without helping their communities! I’m sure someone told me that once. 
  3. When mixing faith with furries, things can get hairy (Riley Farrell, Religion News Service): “…Christians in the furry community are cautious about who knows about both their furry and faithful selves. Christian furries interviewed for this story, including leaders of the group that calls itself the Christian Furry Fellowship, asked to be anonymous, fearing ‘doxxing’ from within the largely secular furry community for their Christian identity and ostracization from their professional lives for their furry hobby.”
    • This was by far the most unexpected article I read this week. There’s a lot happening here. I draw your attention to my disclaimers.
  4. Fact-Checking Randall Balmer’s Urban Legend on the Real Origin of the Religious Right (Jonathan Whitehead, The Gospel Coalition): “By the early 1970s, Evangelicals, Catholics, and other religious voters had discovered that politics would not leave them alone. Then their concerns about abortion, government overreach in schools, secular humanism at the FCC, and an unresponsive ‘born again’ President all merged into a single outlet, creating a torrent of Republican voters in 1978 and beyond.”
    • I posted a debunking of this claim a while ago, but this one is quite good. And the claim gets repeated enough in certain circles that debunkings should be repeated as well.
  5. There Is a Secular Case for Life (David French, The Dispatch): “Amidst a squadron of religious conservative lawyers, there was a single atheist progressive. He was bearded, disheveled, and quiet, but when he spoke everyone fell silent. Everyone leaned forward to hear what he had to say. His name was Nat Hentoff. He was a writer for the Village Voice; he’d published in Playboy. He was a progressive civil libertarian. He was also one of the most persuasive pro-life voices in the land.”
  6. Yearning for a Banana Republic (Jonah Goldberg, The Dispatch): “When serious people talk seriously about changing a regime, they’re talking about changing the system of government. Regime change in Iraq meant getting rid of a totalitarian, terroristic dictatorship, not simply replacing Saddam Hussein with a more pliable and cooperative tyrant. America’s regime isn’t on any ballot. Symbolically, it is the ballot. More properly, it is the constitutional system that requires our leaders to be elected.”
    • This is straight fire. Not especially partisan but definitely political. Goldberg is a tremendous wordsmith.
  7. 1st synthetic mouse embryos — complete with beating hearts and brains — created with no sperm, eggs or womb (Nicoletta Lanese, Live Science): “To achieve this feat, the researchers used only stem cells and a spinning device filled with shiny glass vials.”
    • The title is, I think, poorly worded. These are not embryos assembled from raw materials; rather, the researchers successfully morphed a stem cell into an embryo. Which is also amazing!

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  Evangelicalism’s Silent Majority (Emma Green, The Atlantic): “One of my big takeaways from reporting on evangelical communities is that, contrary to some stereotypes, evangelicals are some of the most globally minded people in America. They donate to charities that do extensive aid work overseas. They’re exposed to other countries through mission work or humanitarian trips.” First shared in volume 232. (sadly, this is paywalled)

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 362

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.

362 feels like a number that should have lots of factors, but it’s only got the prime factors 2 and 181.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Exploring AI-Assisted Bible Study (John Dyer, personal blog): “I prompted GPT‑3 to generate text for each chapter in the Bible in each category. For example, the prompt to generate a prayer was: “Write 5 prayers inspired by John 3 in the Bible. Remember that the events described here are in the past. First include a short observation or lesson for each prayer, and then write a personal prayer related to the lesson.”  I reviewed the generated text to avoid (or at least minimize) unhelpful or heretical content. I accepted about 90% of GPT‑3’s suggestions on its first pass and regenerated the rest until it gave me something useful. It cost about $150 over six weeks to generate this content, which consists of 71,062 generations and 1.1 million words.”
    • This is the same guy who generated the AI Bible artwork I shared recently (these and other experiments of his are available at http://www.openbible.info/labs/).
  2. What an Overly Pessimistic View of America Gets Wrong (Yascha Mounk interviewing Eboo Patel, Persuasion): “If every institution founded by a faith community in your city disappeared overnight, preschools, hospitals, and universities would be gone. YMCAs would be gone, places where AA groups meet would be gone. Half of your social services would probably be gone. It feels to me that religious identity diversity should be at the center of our national conversation, and I’m curious as to why it’s not.” This conversation is full of wisdom and I highly recommend it.
  3. People Are Dating All Wrong, According to Data Science (Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, Wired): “Good romantic partners are difficult to predict with data. Desired romantic partners are easy to predict with data. And that suggests that many of us are dating all wrong.”
    • From later in the article: “…how a person answered questions about themselves was roughly four times more predictive of their relationship happiness than all the traits of their romantic partner combined.”
  4. A Crucial Court Case Exposes the Darkness of America’s Worst Industry (David French, The Dispatch): “If someone wanted to create a system that was designed to facilitate the distribution of child pornography, videos of rape and other kinds of abuse, or revenge porn, it would be hard to construct a more efficient system than MindGeek’s. And the sheer amount of MindGeek’s traffic and the volume of the downloads demonstrates that Pornhub and other sites are injecting poison into American life at an industrial scale.”
    • A student recommended this piece from a month ago in addition to the above: The Fight to Hold Pornhub Accountable (Sheelah Kolhatkar, The New Yorker): “Pschorr was surprised by the lack of regulation in the U.S. ‘It was always interesting for me as a German to see that, in the U.S., you’d get I.D.’d if you went to a bar, and if you’re not twenty-one you get in big trouble,’ he said. ‘But if you want to consume porn all you have to do is click ‘Yes, I’m 18,’ and you’re in the realm of dirt.’ ” I found this article interesting because it portrays Christians both favorably and unfavorably in short order.
  5. How Did a Two-Time Killer Get Out to Be Charged Again at Age 83? (Rebecca Davis O’Brien & Ali Watkins, New York Times): “A homeless shelter worker and people close to Ms. Leyden questioned whether, despite her gender identity, Ms. Harvey should have been placed in a homeless shelter for women, given her history of attacking and murdering them.” Read that sentence slowly. Wow. And the last eight paragraphs are jaw dropping.
  6. A large new study offers clues about how lower-income children can rise up the economic ladder. (David Leonhardt, New York Times): “Churches and other religious organizations may have some lessons to teach other parts of society. Although many churches are socioeconomically homogeneous, those with some diversity tend to foster more cross-class interactions than most other social activities. Churchs [sic] have lower levels of what the researchers call socioeconomic ‘friending bias.’ ”
    • Sadly there isn’t more info on the religious dynamic, even though this section of the newsletter is called “How Churches Shine”
    • Although this is a NYT piece, it is not paywalled because it is from their morning newsletter.
  7. Nondenominational Churches Are Adding Millions of Members. Where Are They Coming From? (Ryan P. Burge, Christianity Today): “What is driving the growth of nondenominational churches? While in the past it resulted from a significant portion of individuals leaving a mainline tradition, now it looks like nondenominational congregations are increasing by taking in people who were raised Catholic—which is about a quarter of the general population.”

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 Problem Isn’t the ‘Merit,’ It’s the ‘Ocracy’ (Tanner Greer, personal blog): “The American system of government was built on the assumption that the most salient political divides would reflect geography, not ideology or class. The senator from Massachusetts would share bonds in common with the lay citizenry of Boston that he did not share with a senator from South Carolina. On the national sphere this would allow him to represent the interests of his constituents as if they were his own. This has proven more true at some times in American history than others; yet because of the way American politicians are elected, this sense of representing the interests of a geographically bounded group of people is more true in the political arena than in most others.” First shared in volume 232

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 361

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 361, which is also the number of intersections on a Go board.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Actually Good AI-Generated Bible Art with DALL·E 2 (John Dyer, personal blog): “The GPT‑3 prompts I used evolved over time, but this one is emblematic: Suggest 5 unique concept ideas for a work of visual art inspired by Luke 14:7–11 (do not pick the place of honor) in the Bible. Include art direction and a specific medium and artist to emulate. Include artists from a variety of eras, styles, and media. Try for an unusual perspective. Title, year, medium. Description.”
    • Some of these are stunning. Recommended.
  2. Religion Is Dying? Don’t Believe It (Byron R. Johnson & Jeff Levin, Wall Street Journal): “Data from five recent U.S. population surveys point to the vibrancy, ubiquity and growth of religion in the U.S. Americans are becoming more religious, and religious institutions are thriving. Consistent with some previous studies but contrary to widely held assumptions, many people who report no religious affiliation—and even many self-identified atheists and agnostics—exhibit substantial levels of religious practice and belief.”
    • The authors are professors of social science and epidemiology, respectively. I one hundred percent believe this report. The so-called “rise of the nones” is mostly the result of confirmation bias by secular academics and journalists who find religiously committed people annoying.
    • This WSJ article (which I think is paywalled) is based on the freely available scholarly article: Are Religious “Nones” Really Not Religious?: Revisiting Glenn, Three Decades Later (Levin et al, Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion): “The use of words and phrases such as none, no religion, and not religious to describe this group of unaffiliated individuals is thus inappropriate, inaccurate, and misleading.”
  3. Which Sins Are Feeding Your Sin of Lust? (David Powlison, Crossway): “Tom concentrated all his attention on one marquee sin that surfaced sporadically, defining and energizing all his guilty feelings. But that narrowing of attention served to mask far more serious, pervasive sins. As a pastor, friend, or other counselor, you don’t want to concentrate all your energies in the same place Tom did. There were other, deeper opportunities for grace and truth to rewrite the script of this man’s life.”
  4. A Media-Fueled Social Panic Over Unmarked Graves (Jonathan Kay, Quillette): “It’s now been 14 months since the original announcement was made about presumed graves in Kamloops, and no physical evidence has been unearthed. No graves. No corpses. No human remains.… I’ve been in journalism for a quarter century, and have witnessed plenty of bizarre controversies within my trade. But I’ve never witnessed anything similar to this phenomenon. It’s like one of those case-studies in mass hysteria and popular delusion that you read about in history books.”
    • This is not a claim that bad things didn’t happen. It’s more of a claim that the specific bad things that are alleged didn’t happen or that they didn’t happen on the scale widely reported.
  5. China related:
  6. NHS will SHUT its controversial Tavistock transgender clinic for children after damning report warned it was ‘not safe’ (John Ely and Laurence Dollimore, The Daily Mail): “It follows an announcement last month that every child treated for gender dysphoria in the last decade will have their medical records scrutinised to see if NHS care is causing them more harm than good.”
  7. Hot Takes Don’t Belong in Church (Chris Nye, Christianity Today): “So long as we are creating a palatable statement for social media or Sunday’s sermon, we are not praying, worshiping, or organizing ourselves for meaningful action. But in today’s culture, the appearance of morality is more important than moral actions, and speaking is more highly valued than praying.”
    • This is full of good points. Chris is an acquaintance of mine.

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 Cultural Moment (podcast): I listened to this podcast about following Jesus in the post-Christian world upon the recommendation of some alumni and a student. It’s quite good. Definitely start with episode 1. First shared in volume 231.

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 360

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.

360 is, of course, the number of degrees in a circle. It’s also due north on a compass.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The God Gap Helps Explain a ‘Seismic Shift’ in American Politics (David French, Substack): “Countless political and cultural issues don’t have a clear ‘Christian’ policy solution, yet when a party’s members perceive it to be the party of American Christianity, then the platform is wrongly infused with religious fervor, even on issues (like tax rates, gun policy, environmental policy, foreign policy, and countless others) where the correct religious answer is far from clear.”
    • The excerpt is not the main point, which is also good. Highly recommended.
  2. I’m a Scam Prevention Expert, and I Got Scammed (Natasha Lupinia, personal website): “This scam went against everything I thought I knew about social engineering attacks. The caller was professional, knowledgeable, patient, and easy to understand (connection issues notwithstanding). He had so much information about me already that, even knowing how easy it is to find sensitive information about people, I was inclined to take him at face value…”
    • Recommended by an alumnus.
  3. A cluster of links which touch on common college scenarios:
    • Pronouns: Progressivism’s Preposterous Plight (Farhana K, Traversing Tradition): “Without the ability to define a woman as female, for example, encroachment into women’s only spaces will become commonplace. There is no way for the state to protect the needs and wants of women, because nothing is essential to being a woman and no definitive feature of women that require such protections, because a woman is anyone who defines themselves as one. Yet for the Muslim woman who abides by the shar’i commands to veil from unrelated men and minimize physical contact, increasingly deconstructive attitudes to gender will pose a clash that few policymakers and members of the public have had the strength to accommodate.”
      • Interesting to see a Muslim perspective.
  4. The Great Fiction of AI (Josh Dzieza, The Verge): “…it might not be such a bad thing to have to apply a Turing test to everything I read, particularly in the more commercialized marketing-driven corners of the internet where AI text is most often deployed. The questions it made me ask were the sorts of questions I should be asking anyway: is this supported by facts, internally consistent, and original, or is it coasting on pleasant-sounding language and rehashing conventional wisdom?; how much human writing meets that standard?; how often am I reading with enough attention to notice? If this is the epistemic crisis AI-generated text is going to bring, maybe it’s a healthy one.”
    • I found this one super interesting and somewhat amazing.
  5. The Hypocrisy of Elites (Erik Torenberg, Substack): “…we see this everywhere: elites promote body positivity — the idea that being overweight is healthy — while being most obsessed with maintaining perfect health. Elites promote sexual independence and polyamory, yet themselves are most likely to be monogamous in stable long-term relationships. Elites complain about overpopulation and carbon footprint, but they’re the ones having the most kids and inflicting the largest carbon footprint.”
  6. The Fall of History as a Major–and as a Part of the Humanities (Tanner Greer, personal blog): “American culture has lost faith in history as a vehicle for understanding the human experience. Our high culture questions the very concept of shared human experience. It is hard for history—or any of the humanities—to flourish in a world that does not put much stock in the human. By adopting intersectional ideology as their own, the professional humanists have confirmed that they do not believe in the promise of their own discipline. And if they do not believe in it…. why should any 18 year old student?” This is an extraordinarily insightful essay.
  7. 33 Problems With Media in One Chart (Nick Routley, Visual Capitalist): recommended by an alumnus. I now know what astroturfing is.

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 Dishonesty of the Abortion Debate (Caitlin Flanagan, The Atlantic): “The argument for abortion, if made honestly, requires many words: It must evoke the recent past, the dire consequences to women of making a very simple medical procedure illegal. The argument against it doesn’t take even a single word. The argument against it is a picture…. The truth is that the best argument on each side is a damn good one, and until you acknowledge that fact, you aren’t speaking or even thinking honestly about the issue. You certainly aren’t going to convince anybody. Only the truth has the power to move.” First shared in volume 227. I know I shared this recently in light of the Dobbs decision, and it is definitely worth sharing again.

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.