Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 328

Everything from baptisms to abortion to perceived nooses. Also self-replicating robots which is nothing to worry about at all.

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 328, which is the year that one of my favorite church leaders became a bishop: Athanasius.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The Supreme Court reconsiders abortion:
    • The Supreme Court seems poised to uphold Mississippi’s abortion law. (Adam Liptak, New York Times): “The Supreme Court seemed poised on Wednesday to uphold a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, based on sometimes tense and heated questioning at a momentous argument in the most important abortion case in decades. Such a ruling would be flatly at odds with what the court has said was the central holding of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to abortion and prohibited states from banning the procedure before fetal viability, or around 23 weeks. But the court’s six-member conservative majority seemed divided about whether to stop at 15 weeks, for now at least, or whether to overrule Roe entirely, allowing states to ban abortions at any time or entirely.”
    • For a free, nonpaywalled analysis check out Majority of court appears poised to roll back abortion rights (Amy Howe, SCOTUSblog)
    • Why Roe Will Fall And Obergefell Won’t (Andrew Sullivan, Substack): “In Roe, the Court tried to jumpstart a consensus and failed to secure it, with public opinion very similar now to where it was half a century ago. In Obergefell, the Court waited until there was majority support, which arrived, according to Gallup, in 2011, and the Court then validated a still-growing societal consensus four years later.”
  2. Lowering the Voting Age (J. Budziszewski, personal blog): “People who discuss lowering the voting age – not only those for it but also those against – assume that it would mean a transfer of political influence to the young. That is absurd. It would mean no such thing. Although the very young are often very sure of their opinions and convinced that they have made up their own minds, they lack the maturity to form their minds independently. So to lower the voting age would not mean increasing the political influence of the young. It would only mean increasing the political clout of those who have influence through the young.”
    • That’s a really good point I hadn’t considered. The author is a professor of philosophy and of government at UT Austin.
  3. Horse Troughs, Hot Tubs and Hashtags: Baptism Is Getting Wild (Ruth Graham, New York Times): “Contemporary evangelical baptisms are often raucous affairs. Instead of subdued hymns and murmurs, think roaring modern worship music, fist pumps, tears and boisterous cheering. There are photographers, selfie stations and hashtags for social media. One church in Texas calls its regular mass baptism event a ‘plunge party.’ ”
    • This is an interesting article mostly for how interesting utterly normal things can seem to NY Times readers.
  4. She set out to save her daughter from fentanyl. She had no idea what she would face on the streets of San Francisco (Heather Knight, San Francisco Chronicle): “I asked Jessica if she thought she would ever leave San Francisco. ‘It’s like a vortex,’ she said. ‘I want to get out of here. But why the f— would I leave here if I have everything I need given to me? It might be enabling or it might be keeping you in a cycle, but at least you can survive,’ she continued. ‘That’s better than a lot of places.’ ”
    • The wages of sin is death. What a gut-punch of a story.
  5. Race Panic! Stanford investigates “cords with loops that may represent nooses” (Maxwell Meyer, Stanford Review): “Calling out and addressing racism? No, these Stanford administrators are committed to inventing racism. Though, I must hand it to them: Dean Hicks and her ‘institutional equity’ sidekick Mr. Dunkley might not realize it, but there is a beautiful, almost poetic irony to the timing of their email. They rushed to inform Stanford students of an alleged race incident on the very day that the criminal trial of Jussie Smollett, the greatest of all race hoaxers, began in Chicago. That little coincidence is the cherry on top of this giant farce.”
    • Meyer’s take is, as far as I can tell, entirely correct. If those loops looked at all like nooses we’d have photos.
  6. Team builds first living robots—that can reproduce (Joshua Brown, University of Vermont press release): “Some people may find this exhilarating. Others may react with concern, or even terror, to the notion of a self-replicating biotechnology. For the team of scientists, the goal is deeper understanding.”
  7. The Business of Extracting Knowledge from Academic Publications (Markus Strasser, personal blog): “I had to wrap my head around the fact that close to nothing of what makes science actually work is published as text on the web. Research questions that can be answered logically through just reading papers and connecting the dots don’t require a biotech corp to be formed around them. There’s much less logic and deduction happening than you’d expect in a scientific discipline.”
    • Long and poorly formatted, but with an interesting core idea. Emphasis in original.

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 Elisha and the She‐bears (Peter J Williams, Twitter): an insightful Twitter thread about a disturbing OT story. The author is the Warden of Tyndale House at Cambridge. First shared in volume 179.

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 327

Two weeks of content distilled into one. It’s like juice concentrate!

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 327, and 327 is the largest number such that it together with its double and triple contain every digit 1–9 once: 327 doubled is 654 and tripled it is 981. Odd but cool.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The Teacher Who Never Spoke (Maureeen Swinger, Plough): “The summer my brother Duane turned twenty, a formidable young man stayed with us on a break from the Ivy League. He had never, to anyone’s knowledge, lost an argument. Several weeks into his visit, my mother walked into the dining room where my brother and his friend were, in theory, eating lunch. In reality, both men were sitting at the table with locked jaws. One didn’t have to say, ‘I need you to eat.’ The other didn’t need to say, ‘Hell, no.’ They both knew exactly what was going on: the Ivy Leaguer was losing an argument to my brother, who had never learned to speak.”
    • This is from a while ago (2017), but I must have missed it. Simply astounding. I wept while reading it. Anyone taking a class where Peter Singer’s philosophy is highly regarded should read this ASAP.
  2. She was sold to a stranger so her family could eat as Afghanistan crumbles (Anna Coren, Jessie Yeung and Abdul Basir Bina, CNN): “Magul, a 10-year-old girl in neighboring Ghor province, cries every day as she prepares to be sold to a 70-year-old man to settle her family’s debts. Her parents had borrowed 200,000 Afghanis ($2,200) from a neighbor in their village — but without a job or savings, they have no way of returning the money.”
    • This is one of the most depressing things I have read in some time.
  3. What happens when people in Texas can’t get abortions: ‘Diapers save a lot more babies than ultrasounds’ (Casey Parks, Washington Post): “I always tell people, ‘Diapers save a lot more babies than ultrasounds.’ ” Haring said. “I don’t want an ultrasound machine. I want tons of diapers. Buy me $20,000, $40,000, $50,000 worth of diapers because if you have a woman who comes in with four kids — yeah, looking at the baby, she realizes it’s a human being. But if you tell her, ‘I’m going to give you diapers for all four kids,’ believe me, the diapers for all four kids is going to save that baby a lot quicker than a little pennant on the screen.”
    • It’s rare to read a sympathetic story about a pro-life center in a major American newspaper.
  4. Philip Yancey’s Message of Grace (Peter Wehner, The Atlantic): “Yancey told the parents in the audience that, biblically, God grieves as much as they do; that God loves their children as much as they do; and that God is deeply pained by the state of this broken world. To his surprise, he found his faith affirmed rather than shattered. He witnessed in person something the theologian Miroslav Volf wrote on the day after the Newtown shootings: ‘Those who observe suffering are tempted to reject God; those who experience it often cannot give up on God, their solace and their agony.’ ”
    • This is one of the most gospel-centric articles I have read in a major publication in quite some time.
  5. When All The Media Narratives Collapse (Andrew Sullivan, Substack): “If you look back at the last few years, the record of errors, small and large, about major stories, is hard to deny. It’s as if the more Donald Trump accused the MSM of being ‘fake news’ the more assiduously they tried to prove him right.”
  6. His Reasons for Opposing Trump Were Biblical. Now a Top Christian Editor Is Out. (Ben Smith, New York Times): “As the longtime editor of World, a Christian news organization that has a website, a biweekly magazine and a set of podcasts, Mr. Olasky has delivered a mix of hard news and watchdog articles about the evangelical realm under a journalistic philosophy he calls ‘biblical objectivity.’ It involves taking strong stands where the Bible is clear, which has led World to oppose abortion rights and support refugees, he says, and to follow reportable facts where the Bible doesn’t provide clear guidance.”
  7. Some pandemic perspectives:
    • The Covid pandemic is not taking the very best of turns (Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution): “While the fog of war is thick right now, the early data on Nu suggests that it may be a big deal. Even if it’s not, however, it has been obvious since we got the vaccines that vaccine escape is a concern. You can debate whether the probability of a vaccine escaping variant is 20% or 80%, but in any case we need effective contingency plans in place. If we fail to respond effectively to Nu, that will be a considerably greater institutional failure than anything that happened at the outset of the pandemic. We’ve had almost two years since the first COVID case and one year from the vaccine approvals to prepare. So I ask: what is the plan for the vaccine-escaping variant?”
    • The Weirdness of Government Variation in COVID-19 Responses (Richard Hanania, Substack): “But imagine at the start of the pandemic, someone had said to you ‘Everyone will face the existence of the same disease, and have access to the exact same tools to fight it. But in some EU countries or US states, people won’t be allowed to leave their house and have to cover their faces in public. In other places, government will just leave people alone. Vast differences of this sort will exist across jurisdictions that are similar on objective metrics of how bad the pandemic is at any particular moment.’ I would’ve found this to be a very unlikely outcome! You could’ve convinced me EU states would do very little on COVID-19, or that they would do lockdowns everywhere. I would not have believed that you could have two neighboring countries that have similar numbers, but one of them forces everyone to stay home, while the other doesn’t. This is the kind of extreme variation in policy we don’t see in other areas.”
    • The Vaccine Moment, part one (Paul Kingsnorth, Substack): “Covid is a revelation. It has lain bare splits in the social fabric that were always there but could be ignored in better times. It has revealed the compliance of the legacy media and the power of Silicon Valley to curate and control the public conversation. It has confirmed the sly dishonesty of political leaders, and their ultimate obeisance to corporate power. It has shown up ‘The Science’ for the compromised ideology it is. Most of all, it has revealed the authoritarian streak that lies beneath so many people, and which always emerges in fearful times.”
    • A tweet that made me laugh: “The WHO chose Omicron over Nu for the variant of concern, probably because it sounds too much like ‘new.’ But the next letter is not Omicron but Xi. Was that a little too on the nose?” (Jared Walczak, Twitter)

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 What Is It Like to Be a Man? (Phil Christman, The Hedgehog Review): “I live out my masculinity most often as a perverse avoidance of comfort: the refusal of good clothes, moisturizer, painkillers; hard physical training, pursued for its own sake and not because I enjoy it; a sense that there is a set amount of physical pain or self‐imposed discipline that I owe the universe.” Very well‐written. Everyone will likely find parts they resonate with and parts they reject. The author is a lecturer at the University of Michigan and based on his CV seems to be a fairly devoted Episcopalian. First shared in volume 178.

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.

Happy Thanksgiving!

At Thanksgiving I often think of Corrie Ten Boom and her fleas. 

If you don’t know the reference, Corrie and her sister Betsie were Christians who were thrown into a Nazi concentration camp and placed in a barracks infested with fleas. Straightaway Betsie said that the only way to respond to such a place was with Scripture and reminded Corrie of the Bible passage they had read that morning from 1st Thessalonians 5, especially verses 16–18.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thess 5:16–18

So Betsie led Corrie in prayer, giving thanks that at least they were together, that they had a Bible with them, and then Betsie began to give thanks for the fleas which had bitten their legs. Corrie thought that was silly and said, “Betsie, there’s no way even God could make me grateful for a flea.” But Betsie insisted.

Later they learned that the fleas which afflicted them also protected them. The guards wouldn’t enter the barracks because they didn’t want to get fleas. Corrie realized that Betsie had been right to be thankful for the fleas — the fleas prevented assaults by the guards and the fleas also gave them a measure of privacy allowing them to lead a Bible study in a concentration camp.

This story and many others are told in Corrie Ten Boom’s book The Hiding Place and I highly recommend it to you (the story of the fleas unfolds from pages 218–231 in the edition I consulted to get Corrie’s quote right).

Even in challenging situations there are occasions for gratitude. I don’t know all you’re going through right now (I barely know all I’m going through right now!) , but I’m sure there’s at least one part of your life that you wish was different than it is. Whatever the hardship, I pray it passes quickly. I also pray that while it lasts God opens your heart to experience genuine gratitude in the midst of it. 

May you have a delightful Thanksgiving — and remember the fleas!

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 326

I had to cut this down from 20 candidate links to 7. It was grueling. Only gold remains.

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 326, which makes me a little happy because last week I observed that 3 +2 = 5 and this week we can see a similar coincidence with multiplication: 3 ⋅ 2 = 6.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. U.S. missionaries have long tried to convert the ‘unreached’ in the Amazon. Now Indigenous groups are fighting back. (Terrence McCoy, Washington Post): “But the biblical commission that followers of Jesus ‘make disciples of all nations’ is increasingly colliding with the laws of man in Brazil, where the right to voluntary isolation is enshrined in the constitution and where it’s illegal to contact isolated Indigenous groups without government permission.”
    • The details in the story show that things are more complex than the headline leads you to believe. The indigenous people are divided — some want the missionaries and some do not. The ones who do not are represented by a lawyer and he is the focus of this story. Surely the rights of those who wish to hear new ideas should also be respected? The people who applaud this development are almost certainly glad that they don’t believe what their ancestors believed, but they apparently hope these people are not exposed to multiple religious perspectives.
    • There is probably close to a 100% inverse correlation between those who believe the indigenous people should be able to keep outsiders away and those who believe America should build a wall. It’s an interesting ideological consistency test. And this would be more than a wall with controlled access — this would be a force field.
  2. How I Became Extremely Open-Minded (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “When I set out to write about the entire chronic-illness experience, I hesitated over whether to tell this kind of story. After all, if you’re trying to convince skeptical readers to take chronic sickness seriously, and to make the case for the medical-outsider view of how to treat Lyme disease, reporting that you’ve been dabbling in pseudoscience and that it works is a good way to confirm every stereotype about chronic ailments and their treatment…” Engrossing.
  3. Truth, justice and the torturing of tolerance (Karen Swallow Prior, Religion News Service): “Too many in the church have tolerated too much for too long. To be sure, situations can be complicated. Motives and actions can be mixed. Facts can be disputed. Perspectives can differ. Pictures can be incomplete. Nevertheless, some things are clearly and simply wrong. It takes wisdom to discern what should be tolerated and what should not.” The story starts in one place and winds up somewhere completely different. Recommended.
  4. Some pandemic and pandemic-adjacent news:
    • Vaccines for Children (5–11 years old) (Matt Shapiro, Substack): “There seemed to be a resilient faith among the doctors in this discussion that the only appropriate way to move forward would be to make the vaccine available and then trust parents and caregivers to take into consideration all the risks and make the right decisions given the evidence that is available. Hearing them say this is so strange to me because that is exactly my position.” This is good, sane commentary.
    • How SARS-CoV‑2 in American deer could alter the course of the global pandemic (Michaeleen Doucleff, NPR): “Now veterinarians at Pennsylvania State University have found active SARS-CoV‑2 infections in at least 30% of deer tested across Iowa during 2020. Their study, published online last week, suggests that white-tailed deer could become what’s known as a reservoir for SARS-CoV‑2. That is, the animals could carry the virus indefinitely and spread it back to humans periodically. If that’s the case, it would essentially dash any hopes of eliminating or eradicating the virus in the U.S. — and therefore from the world — says veterinary virologist Suresh Kuchipudi at Penn State, who co-led the study.”
      • Have they tried masking the deer?
    • Good morning. Is it time to start moving back to normalcy? (David Leonhardt, New York Times): “The bottom line is that Covid now presents the sort of risk to most vaccinated people that we unthinkingly accept in other parts of life. And there is not going to be a day when we wake up to headlines proclaiming that Covid is defeated. In many ways, the future of the virus has arrived. All of which raises the question of which precautions should end — now or soon — and which should become permanent.”
      • Gonna tip my hand here: we should accept that COVID is not going away, lament those we have lost, rejoice that we have vaccines and are even starting to see effective treatments emerge, and get on with life. Unvaccinated people have made their choice and I’m happy to respect it, doubly so now that deer seem to be repositories for COVID (widespread animal infections undermine the only strong argument I know for vaccine mandates — namely that the unvaccinated allow the virus to circulate and perhaps mutate).
    • God’s Mercy in a New Malaria Vaccine (Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra interviews Kelly Chibale, The Gospel Coalition): “Science is a gift from God, out of his mercy for us. As a scientist, I am doing God’s work, attempting to alleviate human suffering in partnership with God. And other Christians cannot say that we don’t need the scientific part of the body of Christ. The finger cannot say it doesn’t need the nose (1 Cor. 12:12–27).” The interviewee is a professor of Organic Chemistry at the University of Cape Town.
  5. Meta-analysis suggests that emotional intelligence is declining among college students (Beth Ellwood, Psy Post): “Western culture has undergone remarkable change in the past 20 years. For one, a rise in economic liberalism and free-market capitalism has encouraged an environment of competitive individualism. Secondly, social media emerged and has grown rapidly, along with smartphone technology. Studies suggest these changes may have led to generational differences in personality, revealing generational rises in narcissism, self-esteem, self-focus, and materialism.”
    • This feels related: A “proliferation of administrators”: faculty reflect on two decades of rapid expansion (Philip Mousavizadeh, Yale Daily News): “Lauren Noble, the founder and executive director of the William F. Buckley Jr. program at Yale, pointed to the fact that the number of Yale’s administrators today exceeds the number of faculty — 5,066 compared to 4,937 — which ‘raises important questions about the university’s allocation of resources,’ she said. ‘It’s unclear how such a significant increase advances Yale’s mission.’ ”
    • For context, there are only 4,664 undergrads at Yale: more than one administrator per student! Not all administrators deal with students (some work with faculty, for example), but that is still a stunning comparison.
  6. Some thoughts about critical race theory in schools:
    • The Woke Meet Their Match: Parents (Andrew Sullivan, Substack): “And when the Democrats and the mainstream media insist that CRT is not being taught in high schools, they’re being way too cute. Of course K‑12 kids in Virginia’s public schools are not explicitly reading the collected works of Derrick Bell or Richard Delgado — no more than Catholic school kids in third grade are studying critiques of Aquinas. But they are being taught in a school system now thoroughly committed to the ideology and worldview of CRT, by teachers who have been marinated in it, and whose unions have championed it.… To use a term the woke might understand, it is, in fact, structural.”
    • “Critical Race Theory” and actual education policy, part one (Matt Yglesias, Substack): “Standardized testing has become a weird discourse flashpoint, but I think everyone agrees that you can, in principle, assess someone’s competence in a given subject area with a test. And if you want to compare different people, you need to give them the same test. It’s only by making comparisons across classrooms and across time that we are able to persuasively demonstrate that particulates are bad for school performance, healthy meals are good for school performance, and air conditioning improves school performance in the summer.”
    • “Critical Race Theory” and actual education policy, part two (Matt Yglesias, Substack): “That said, my view on [teaching history] as a K‑12 education issue has always had two parts:
      • Public schools are public, and to some extent, they inevitably have to reflect mass opinion. You can try to buck that trend and lose the school board election, handing all control over to right-wingers who don’t even think public schools should exist, or you can acknowledge that in a patriotic country you basically have to come up with a way to craft a patriotic narrative that’s also inclusive.
      • This is not actually very significant. The kids who are good at school will go on to attend selective colleges where they will absolutely be exposed to left-wing intellectuals’ thoughts on patriotism and American exceptionalism. The kids who are not good at school, meanwhile, are not paying close attention to the content of history classes.”
  7. How NFTs Create Value (Steve Kaczynski and Scott Duke Kominers, Harvard Business Review): “But NFTs don’t just provide a kind of digital ‘deed.’ Because blockchains are programmable, it’s possible to endow NFTs with features that enable them to expand their purpose over time, or even to provide direct utility to their holders. In other words, NFTs can do things — or let their owners do things — in both digital spaces and the physical world. In this sense, NFTs can function like membership cards or tickets, providing access to events, exclusive merchandise, and special discounts — as well as serving as digital keys to online spaces where holders can engage with each other. Moreover, because the blockchain is public, it’s even possible to send additional products directly to anyone who owns a given token. All of this gives NFT holders value over and above simple ownership — and provides creators with a vector to build a highly engaged community around their brands.” This is the first explanation of NFTs I’ve read that makes them sound useful.

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 Eat, Pray, Code: Rule of St. Benedict Becomes Tech Developer’s Community Guidelines (Kate Shellnutt, Christianity Today): “SQLite—a database management engine used in most major browsers, smart phones, Adobe products, and Skype—adopted a code of ethics pulled directly from the biblical precepts set by the venerated sixth‐century monk.” This article blew my mind. First shared in volume 175.

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 325

Volume 325. Since 3+2=5, I consider that auspicious.

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 325, which I think is kind of cool since 3 + 2 = 5 (I am, as they say, easily amused).

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Some faith & politics content. The last two are a bit partisan.
    • A Christian Defense of American Classical Liberalism (David French, The Dispatch): “There is no perfect form of government on this side of the new heavens and the new earth. But the alternatives to classical liberalism suffer by comparison to the imperfect system we possess. When post-liberals magnify the power of the state, they risk degrading the dignity of the individual. When they trust the wisdom of rulers, they neglect their own fallen nature. People are of incalculable worth, and we are stained with sin. Classical liberalism recognizes both realities. We disregard its protections at our profound peril.”
    • The “Chop” and Liberalism’s Crisis of Meaning (Samuel D. James, Substack): “Without a coherent moral framework, contemporary progressivism has to constantly manufacture norms and enforce them not through shared community stigmas but by authority structures. The new norms, though, are not infused with meaning. Intersectionality is Christian theology with rigor mortis: the cold, clammy remains of long dead Protestant social ethic.” That final sentence… wow.
    • The Cautionary Tale of Francis Collins (Justin Lee, First Things): “[Collins] showed that it was possible for an evangelical from a working-class background to rise to the heights of scientific and bureaucratic accomplishment. His presence in the halls of medical power was also a testament to the harmony of faith and reason. Collins has championed the compatibility of science and religion and encouraged Christians to accept theistic evolution through his bestselling 2006 book The Language of God and a spin-off organization, BioLogos. His witness is singular, and singularly powerful—if we don’t look too closely.” I have conflicted feelings about this article (I think it is unduly harsh on Dr. Collins), but it is a perspective I have encountered several times. I’m also not sure it belongs under the politics bullet point, but it’s at least adjacent.
    • Faith trumps Trump in Virginia (Tony Carnes, A Journey Through NYC Religions): “Youngkin goes to an evangelical Episcopal church Holy Trinity Church and provides a retreat center for FOCUS (Fellowship of Christians in Universities & Schools), an evangelical outreach to prep school students. In UK Youngkin served on the executive committee of Holy Trinity Brompton (the home church of the Alpha course). The GOP Lt Governor-elect Winsome Sears is an African American who headed a homeless ministry for the Salvation Army (as well as being vice president of the Board of Education for Virginia, an elected official, and a Marine). Attorney General-elect Jason Miyares is a Latino Christian, a member of Galilee Episcopal Church, an evangelical leaning Episcopal church.” Brief but super interesting.
    • Pence says James Madison and the Bible helped him certify election results against Trump’s wishes (Timothy Bella, Washington Post): “The former vice president, whose answer was met with applause from the Iowa City audience, denied that he was advised it would hurt his chances of running for president if he followed Trump’s plan. ‘Everything you’ve recited relative to me is false,’ he said to the audience member. Pence, referring to the oath he took to uphold the Constitution, also cited a Bible verse he said he leaned on: ‘Psalm 15 says he who keeps his oath even when it hurts.’ ”
  2. Pandemic restrictions were a blow to religious liberty (Christos Makridis, NY Post): “Of all the unequal impacts of the pandemic, the costs of state and local restrictions that fell squarely on religious households seem underappreciated. Although everyone felt the effects of national and state quarantines, and Americans struggled with mental health more broadly, my paper shows that religious adherents, especially Catholics or other Christians, experienced unique harm. Even more troubling is that the costs of shutdowns for places of worship were not limited to the congregants. Evidence from a Baylor University study led up by Byron Johnson shows that faith-based organizations shoulder the bulk of the homelessness burden in cities, caring for the least fortunate. In this sense, cutting off in-person worship simultaneously cuts off one of the primary ways that houses of worship serve their broader communities.”
  3. Billionaire Seeks to Build Largely Windowless Dorm In ‘Social and Psychological Experiment’ (Aaron Gordon, Vice): “According to the Independent, 94 percent of dorm rooms in Munger Hall [at UCSB] will be tiny, windowless pods that open onto a central common area. And it will stuff so many students [4,500] into such a small space that Dennis McFadden, the architect who resigned from the university’s review committee, said in his resignation letter it ‘would qualify as the eighth densest neighborhood on the planet, falling just short of Dhaka, Bangladesh.’ McFadden said the university had provided no justification for ignoring established research that natural light and views of the outdoors are vital to healthy living, except to say they were bound to Munger’s vision.” Recommended by a student.
    1. Munger rebuts: Munger on controversial UCSB dorm: Fake windows are better than real windows (CNN). He is totally and awesomely intransigent.
  4. What Happened to Matt Taibbi? (Ross Barkan, New York Magazine): “ ‘One of the moments that solidified in my mind the difficult path I’d have going forward in mainstream media, and that pushed me toward the decision to do Substack full-time, came when I did a campaign piece on Biden for Rolling Stone,’ Taibbi said. ‘I was noticing what everyone else saw, that the man was having trouble remembering things, among other issues. I called back some of the medical sources who were glad to violate the ‘Goldwater rule’ against diagnosing people from afar to talk to me about Trump being crazy, just to ask for their assessment of Biden. None responded, and one literally hung up on me. Even off the record they wouldn’t talk about it. It hit me in that moment that Trump had so fundamentally changed the business that even sources were behaving differently, and I’d have to adapt one way or the other.’ ”
  5. Katharine Birbalsingh is right: children do have original sin (Theo Hobson, The Spectator): “When my son was about six he heard something at school about slavery but was not quite clear what it was all about. So I spelled it out. I told him that a slave was someone that someone else owned and ordered around and probably mistreated. I waited for the proper response of moral horror to show on his innocent features. Instead he said, ‘Cool, I want one!’” What a phenomenal opening anecdote.
  6. Liberals Read, Conservatives Watch TV (Richard Hanania, Substack): “Conservative media perfecting the ‘infotainment’ genre of news commentary brought people into politics that a generation earlier would’ve paid more attention to professional wrestling or monster truck rallies instead. Liberalism has captured a combination of an overeducated class with more desire for status than intellectual curiosity along with mentally ill individuals who in the 1990s might have joined some apolitical subculture instead of becoming passionate about race and gender issues.” Very long and insightful article (9,000ish words)
  7. Survey: One-third of Jewish college students have experienced antisemitism (Yonat Shimron, Religion News): “…the most common form of antisemitism was offensive comments online. Only 1% of students were victims of antisemitic violence, and only 1% were threatened with violence. In all, the survey found 43% of Jewish college students had experienced and/or witnessed antisemitic activity in the past year. Among those who witnessed it, the most common experience was seeing swastikas around campus or vandalism to Jewish fraternities, sororities and cultural buildings.”

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 How the State Serves Both Salvation and Religious Freedom (Jonathan Leeman, 9 Marks): “Two basic kinds of governments, then, show up in the Bible: those that shelter God’s people, and those that destroy them. Abimelech sheltered; Pharoah destroyed. The Assyrians destroyed; the Babylonians and Persians, ultimately, sheltered. Pilate destroyed; Festus sheltered. And depending on how you read Revelation, the history of government will culminate in a beastly slaughter of saintly blood. Romans 13 calls governments servants; Psalm 2 calls them imposters. Most governments contain both. But some are better than others.” First shared in volume 165.

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 324

some pre-Halloween links

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 324, which is 182.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Empty Pews Are an American Public Health Crisis (Tyler J. VanderWeele and Brendan Case, Christianity Today): “Religious participation strongly promotes health and wellness. This means that Americans’ growing disaffection with organized religion isn’t just bad news for churches; it also represents a public health crisis, one that has been largely ignored but the effects of which are likely to increase in coming years.”
    • The authors are part of the Human Flourishing Program at Harvard. I have quoted Tyler VanderWeele’s research several times in the past.
  2. Some perspectives on the American church:
    • J.D. Vance and the Great Challenge of Christian Malice (David French, The Dispatch): “The real crisis [in American Christian political engagement] is instead a crisis of the heart. Our orthodoxy is undermined by our actions, and our actions spring forth from the deepest parts of our being. At a time of rising antipathy, a Christian political community should blaze forth with a radiant countercultural embrace of kindness and grace. Instead, all too many of us have forgotten a fundamental truth. There are no ‘right people’ to hate.”
    • Why ‘Evangelical’ Is Becoming Another Word for ‘Republican’ (Ryan Burge, New York Times): “For instance, in 2008, just 16 percent of all self-identified evangelicals reported their church attendance as never or seldom. But in 2020, that number jumped to 27 percent. In 2008, about a third of evangelicals who never attended church said they were politically conservative. By 2019, that had risen to about 50 percent.… [also] more people are embracing the label who have no attachment to Protestant Christianity. For example, the share of Catholics who also identified as evangelicals (or born again) rose to 15 percent in 2018 from 9 percent in 2008. That same pattern appears with Muslims. In fact, there’s evidence that the share of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Orthodox Christianity and Hinduism who identify as evangelical is larger today than it was just a decade ago.”
    • The Evangelical Church Is Breaking Apart (Peter Wehner, The Atlantic): “Scott Dudley, the senior pastor at Bellevue Presbyterian Church in Bellevue, Washington, refers to this as ‘our idolatry of politics.’ He’s heard of many congregants leaving their church because it didn’t match their politics, he told me, but has never once heard of someone changing their politics because it didn’t match their church’s teaching. He often tells his congregation that if the Bible doesn’t challenge your politics at least occasionally, you’re not really paying attention to the Hebrew scriptures or the New Testament.”
    • Church Membership Is Not a One-Way Street (Alex Duke, Crossway): “Think of your church as a lightbulb hooked up to a dimmer switch in a dark room. Everything we do makes our witness brighter or darker. Practicing meaningful membership is one of the surest ways to turn that dimmer switch up; ignoring it is one of the surest ways to turn it down. Meaningful membership is more important than you think.”
  3. The Problem With Dave Chappelle (Samuel D. James, Substack): “Chappelle is not a hapless victim of a crushing ideological agenda; he’s not Barronelle Stutzman or James Eich. Chappelle is, like many before and many after him, a Robespierre of the very revolution that’s after him now. His fortune was made inside the same progressive sensibility that threatens him, and it is precisely Chappelle’s (and many other comedians) skill with which he dismissed any notion of the sacred that has taken root in the people who are walking out on his un-PC act.” Really solid insights here.
  4. The parenting problem the government can’t fix (Stephanie H. Murray, The Week): “There is a cultural weight dangling from the yoke of modern American parenthood — one that is probably beyond the government to alleviate.… Children are a personal choice and therefore a personal problem, many people seem to believe. Have as many as you want — just make sure they don’t bother the rest of us. The problem is that this credo is totally out of step with reality.… parenting is an inherently social occupation. Trying to cram it into an individualist framework, where the costs and consequences of children fall on parents and no one else, distorts the whole endeavor.”
    • I have long thought that disliking children is profoundly hypocritical. You were once a child who craved affection and understanding, how rude to reject children now that you have learned to navigate the world more effectively.
  5. Scientists Built an AI to Give Ethical Advice, But It Turned Out Super Racist (Tony Tran, Futurism): “And as is often the case, part of the reason Delphi’s answers can get questionable can likely be linked back to how it was created. The folks behind the project drew on some eyebrow-raising sources to help train the AI, including the ‘Am I the Asshole?’ subreddit, the ‘Confessions’ subreddit, and the ‘Dear Abby’ advice column, according to the paper the team behind Delphi published about the experiment. It should be noted, though, that just the situations were culled from those sources — not the actual replies and answers themselves.… the team behind Delphi used Amazon’s crowdsourcing service MechanicalTurk to find respondents to actually train the AI.”
  6. About Israel and Jewish people:
    • When Your Body Is Someone Else’s Haunted House (Dara Horn, Bari Weiss’ Substack): “Those girls were not stupid, and probably not even bigoted. But in their entirely typical and well-intentioned education, they had learned about Jews mainly because people had killed Jews. Like most people in the world, they had only encountered dead Jews: people whose sole attribute was that they had been murdered, and whose murders served a clear purpose, which was to teach us something. Jews were people who, for moral and educational purposes, were supposed to be dead.”
    • Whose Promised Land? A Journey Into a Divided Israel (Patrick Kingsley & Laetitia Vancon, New York Times): “‘I believe in the country as long as it doesn’t fight religion, as long as it doesn’t fight me,’ he said. In his view, the new government has undermined Israel’s Jewishness, undercutting the state’s legitimacy. ‘If it’s not a Jewish state, then we have no right to exist here,’ he said. ‘Our right to exist here is based on the fact that God gave us the land.’”
    • Palestine Isn’t Ferguson (Susie Linfield, The Atlantic): “Any useful analysis of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict requires engaging with an unresolved, frustratingly complex, grievously resilient struggle between two national movements, each with a justified claim to the land. Once that effort is abandoned, a vacuum ensues. It is filled by the transformation of a country into a metaphor; by the rewriting (or ignoring) of history; by Manichean thinking; and by the conversion of language into a means of performance rather than a description of reality.”
  7. Learning From Our Defeat: The Skill of the Vulcans (Tanner Greer, personal blog): “…both of these relative non-entities were pulled aside from their regular positions and handed an additional responsibility— coordinator of the American effort in Afghanistan.Read that again: they were both given the same job at the same time. Yet the problem was worse than just duplication of effort and confused lines of authority. The two men were not even aware the other man was working the same portfolio!”

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 Dissolving the Fermi Paradox (Scott Alexander, Slate Star Codex): “Imagine we knew God flipped a coin. If it came up heads, He made 10 billion alien civilization. If it came up tails, He made none besides Earth. Using our one parameter Drake Equation, we determine that on average there should be 5 billion alien civilizations. Since we see zero, that’s quite the paradox, isn’t it? No. In this case the mean is meaningless. It’s not at all surprising that we see zero alien civilizations, it just means the coin must have landed tails. SDO say that relying on the Drake Equation is the same kind of error.”  First shared in volume 159.

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 323

Articles about everything from Jill Biden’s faith to Yale Law School’s failings to an analysis of American divorce to a common-sense argument against pornography. Enjoy!

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.

323 is 17 · 19, which are two of my favorite numbers. I particularly delight in using them on the microwave.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Evangelical Elites, Fighting Each Other (David French, The Dispatch): “…the older culture war categories are being supplemented and sometimes supplanted by a new confrontation between liberalism and illiberalism. While illiberal right and illiberal left snarl at anyone not in their tribes, the liberal right and the liberal left are forming new relationships and new alliances.” An excellent piece, and the first comment is also worth reading (it’s by French himself about something he  meant to include in the article).
  2. Jill Biden paid a surprise visit to the woman who helped her regain faith in God (Jada Yuan, Washington Post): “For five years after the death of her son, Jill Biden says, she lost her faith in God. She ‘felt betrayed, broken’ when Beau died of brain cancer at 46, and she had stopped going to church or even praying, she told the congregants of Brookland Baptist Church late Sunday afternoon. But she found her way back, and over the weekend traveled nearly 500 miles to surprise the woman who’d helped her get there.” I was deeply moved by this story.
  3. A Worrisome Peek Inside Yale Law’s Diversity Bureaucracy (Conor Friedersforf, The Atlantic): “[Oddly,] the diversity administrators spent many hours on this low-stakes drama among high-IQ adults, affording outsiders an unusual peek at their methods and a related series of crucial mistakes, most stemming from an inability or unwillingness to see how the interests of students diverge from the interests and incentives of their office.”
  4. Two articles discussing the research suggesting conservatives are happier than liberals:
    • From the left: Conservatives Are Happier Than Liberals. Discuss. (Thomas B. Edsall, New York Times): “Ultimately, though, this line of inquiry raises an even broader question: whether liberals and conservatives function on fundamentally different moral planes.”
    • From the right: Friends and Ex-Friends (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “I admit to being skeptical of any attempt to quantify happiness, which is a subjective judgment. Nevertheless, if it is true that conservatives are happier on balance than liberals, I think it has to do with two basic things. First, conservatives tend to accept that the world will never be perfect, and find it easier to live with imperfections.… Second, conservatives tend to care less about political crusading.… I don’t know any ordinary conservatives who would cut off a friend over their liberal politics.”
  5. The Naked Truth: Porn is Bad For You (Katherine Dee, The American Mind): “Common sense is vitally useful, especially in personal decision-making. So, here’s what I know. I know that immersion in, or even just regular usage of, anything has an impact on a person’s psychology.”
  6. The Evolution of Divorce (W. Bradford Wilcox, National Affairs): “In the case of divorce, as in so many others, the worst consequences of the social revolution of the 1960s and ’70s are now felt disproportionately by the poor and less educated, while the wealthy elites who set off these transformations in the first place have managed to reclaim somewhat healthier and more stable habits of married life. This imbalance leaves our cultural and political elites less well attuned to the magnitude of social dysfunction in much of American society, and leaves the most vulnerable Americans — especially children living in poor and working-class communities — even worse off than they would otherwise be.” The author is a sociologist at UVA.
  7. Is College Worth It? A Comprehensive Return on Investment Analysis (Preston Cooper, FreeOpp): “The analysis reveals that a student’s choice of program is perhaps the most important financial decision he or she will ever make. Most bachelor’s degree programs in engineering, computer science, economics, and nursing increase lifetime earnings by $500,000 or more, even after subtracting the costs of college. But most programs in fields such as art, music, philosophy, religion, and psychology leave students financially worse off than if they had never gone to college at all.” Search the table at We Calculated Return On Investment For 30,000 Bachelor’s Degrees. Find Yours. (Preston Cooper, FreeOpp)

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 Planet of Cops (Freddie de Boer, personal blog): “The woke world is a world of snitches, informants, rats. Go to any space concerned with social justice and what will you find? Endless surveillance. Everybody is to be judged. Everyone is under suspicion. Everything you say is to be scoured, picked over, analyzed for any possible offense. Everyone’s a detective in the Division of Problematics, and they walk the beat 24/7…. I don’t know how people can simultaneously talk about prison abolition and restoring the idea of forgiveness to literal criminal justice and at the same time turn the entire social world into a kangaroo court system.” First shared in volume 161.

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 322

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 322nd installment, and today I learned that 322 is the 12th Lucas number.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The State of Evangelical Leadership (Mark Galli, Substack): “This tendency has only gotten worse, as now the mark of a successful evangelical writer is to get published regularly in the Times, Atlantic, and so forth. What’s interesting about such pieces is that (a) such writers make a point that affirms the view of the secular publication (on topics like environmental care, racial injustice, sexual abuse, etc.) and (b) they preach in such pieces that evangelicals should take the same point of view. However, their writing doesn’t reach the masses of evangelicals who take a contrary view and don’t give a damn what The New York Times says. If these writers are really interested in getting those evangelicals to change their minds, the last place they should be is in the mainstream press. Better to try to get such a column published in the most popular Pentecostal outlet, Charisma. Ah, but that would do nothing to enhance the prestige of evangelicals among the culture’s elite.”
    1. This is a SUPER interesting article that makes good points… but the author somehow avoided looking in a mirror while writing it. He was the editor-in-chief of Christianity Today!
    • Follow-up: Falling from Grace into Mercy— or Elite Evangelicalism, Part 2 (Mark Galli, Substack): “But one thing about retirement is the time one has to reflect on one’s career, and I see more clearly how much I was willing to go along to get along, and how much I was part of the system.… I don’t think there is much hope in reforming many things that course through the veins of elite evangelicals.”
  2. Two of the most distressing news items I’ve seen in some time.
  3. Hunting the Satanists (Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution): “…the worldview of QAnon and Yale’s diversity office are surprisingly similar. Both see a world in which Satan, literal or metaphorical, is an active force in the world corrupting individuals and institutions. Satan is powerful but hidden. He only reveals his influence when the corrupted slip-up and by the incorrect use of a word, phrase, or gesture reveal their true natures. Since Satan is powerful and hidden the good people must constantly monitor everyone.” An astutely observed parallel.
  4. It’s Time for a Better and Smarter Alliance Against Porn (David French, The Dispatch): “One of the most fascinating developments of modern times has been the way in which American ideas and American conduct frequently contradict each other. The world of ideas mostly (though not exclusively) has moved left, quickly. Ideas move from progressive fringe to mainstream with stunning speed.… But in the world of conduct, something else is happening. Social conservative lifestyles are making a comeback. Divorce rates are down. Teen pregnancy is down. Abortion rates (abortions per 1,000 women) and ratios (abortions per 1,000 pregnancies) are way down. Single parenting has stabilized, and the percentage of children living with both parents is inching up.”
  5. Please Don’t Give Up On Having Kids Because Of Climate Change (Scott Alexander, Astral Codex Ten): “If you think privileged modern Americans shouldn’t have children now because of quality-of-life issues [related to climate change], you implicitly believe that nobody in the Third World, or nobody before 1900, should ever have had children.”
  6. Two tidbits from China:
    • Terror & tourism: Xinjiang eases its grip, but fear remains (Dake Kang, AP News): “Anytime I tried to chat with someone, the minders would draw in close, straining to hear every word. It’s hard to know why Chinese authorities have shifted to subtler methods of controlling the region. It may be that searing criticism from the West, along with punishing political and commercial sanctions, have pushed authorities to lighten up. Or it may simply be that China judges it has come far enough in its goal of subduing the Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim minorities to relax its grip.”
    • The Triumph and Terror of Wang Huning (N.S. Lyons, Palladium Magazine): “Wang recorded his observations in a memoir that would become his most famous work: the 1991 book America Against America. In it, he marvels at homeless encampments in the streets of Washington DC, out-of-control drug crime in poor black neighborhoods in New York and San Francisco, and corporations that seemed to have fused themselves to and taken over responsibilities of government.… Americans can, he says, perceive that they are faced with ‘intricate social and cultural problems,’ they ‘tend to think of them as scientific and technological problems’ to be solved separately. This gets them nowhere, he argues, because their problems are in fact all inextricably interlinked and have the same root cause: a radical, nihilistic individualism at the heart of modern American liberalism.”
      • Surprisingly engrossing. One of China’s key leaders has accurately diagnosed certain challenges their nation is facing but his solutions are lacking (and evil). And he seems to have come to many of his convictions by visiting America and witnessing our cultural folly.
  7. Don’t Let Religious Liberty Claims Mask Bad Faith Arguments (Daniel Bennett, Christianity Today): “Religious liberty is too important to let it get misused. It’s not a waiver to avoid all inconveniences in life or, worse, a tool to make political statements. For religious liberty to survive political and legal scrutiny in the future, we must safeguard exemptions against abuse.” The author is a political science professor at John Brown University.

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 When Children Say They’re Trans (Jesse Singal, The Atlantic): “ …to deny the possibility of a connection between social influences and gender‐identity exploration among adolescents would require ignoring a lot of what we know about the developing teenage brain—which is more susceptible to peer influence, more impulsive, and less adept at weighing long‐term outcomes and consequences than fully developed adult brains—as well as individual stories like Delta’s.” This is a long and balanced piece which has garnered outrage in some online circles. First shared in volume 157.

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 321

I always try to trim these to seven items. Cutting the 8th was brutal this week — so many good options!

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 321, which is not only a number but also a countdown.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Top Trans Doctors Blow the Whistle on ‘Sloppy’ Care (Abigail Shrier, Bari Weiss’s Substack): “[The] new orthodoxy has gone too far, according to two of the most prominent providers in the field of transgender medicine: Dr. Marci Bowers, a world-renowned vaginoplasty specialist who operated on reality-television star Jazz Jennings; and Erica Anderson, a clinical psychologist at the University of California San Francisco’s Child and Adolescent Gender Clinic. In the course of their careers, both have seen thousands of patients. Both are board members of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), the organization that sets the standards worldwide for transgender medical care. And both are transgender women. Earlier this month, Anderson told me she submitted a co-authored op-ed to The New York Times warning that many transgender healthcare providers were treating kids recklessly. The Times passed, explaining it was ‘outside our coverage priorities right now.’ ”
    • A sobering article, and also a tragic but unsurprising revelation about the New York Times editorial team.
  2. Highlights From The Comments On Modern Architecture (Scott Alexander, Astral Codex Ten): “I might be the only person in the world who likes McMansions. They just look like nice, pleasant buildings made by people who want to vaguely enjoy the place where they live. Probably the least offensive thing people are making these days.”
    • Judging from the comments he really struck a chord with the “Whither Tartaria?” piece I linked two weeks ago. Fascinating stuff, highly recommended.
  3. What American Christians Hear at Church (Casey Cep, New Yorker): “Homiletics—the proper name for the art of preaching—is still taught in seminaries and divinity schools, but it is not often studied outside of those institutions. This is regrettable, since many more Americans attend church than subscribe to a newspaper.… Taking advantage of the technologies that have allowed churches to stream services and post them online, Pew has studied the length, language, and content of tens of thousands of sermons, by denomination and tradition, most recently for the nine Sundays before and the Sunday after last fall’s Presidential election.” Quite interesting.
  4. Slavery vs. White Supremacy (Van Gosse & Sean Wilentz, New York Review of Books): “Antislavery and anti-racist politics appeared only in the 1760s—and only in the American colonies. Those politics, hailed by later abolitionists as of world-historical importance, engaged blacks and whites, enslaved and free. Inspired by the Revolution’s egalitarianism, antislavery advocates overcame powerful opposition and enacted the first emancipations of their kind in history, in seven of the thirteen original states.… The United States, in short, was founded not on slavery and white supremacy but amid an unprecedented struggle over slavery and white supremacy, which the Constitution left open.” Illuminating letters between two history professors.
  5. ‘Some are just psychopaths’: Chinese detective in exile reveals extent of torture against Uyghurs (Rebecca Wright, Ivan Watson, Zahid Mahmood and Tom Booth, CNN): “ ‘Kick them, beat them (until they’re) bruised and swollen,’ Jiang said, recalling how he and his colleagues used to interrogate detainees in police detention centers. ‘Until they kneel on the floor crying.’ During his time in Xinjiang, Jiang said every new detainee was beaten during the interrogation process — including men, women and children as young as 14.” The details in this story are dark. I’ve seen other stories with testimonies from former prisoners, this one features one of the guards speaking up in addition to stories from prisoners.
  6. Trainings (Alan Jacobs, personal blog): “Universities don’t usually create their own training modules — they buy products from companies that specialize in that kind of thing. And those companies want to save money by reusing their old code. So they extract the content of their Title IX courses and simply stuff new content into the existing frameworks. Easy-peasy. And the upper-level administrators of the university, who don’t want to spend any more money on such projects than they have to, accept the Frankenstein’s jury-rigged monster they’ve been handed. But that creates a big problem: the kind of structure needed to communicate to people the contours of a law and the expectations generated by that law is not the kind of structure needed to explore the moral development of a community.”
  7. Yale and the Education of Governing Elites (Tanner Greer, personal blog): “A program conceived to teach future elites how to wisely use state power has morphed into a program teaching them how to wisely oppose it. This transformation is one more illustration of Dashan’s thesis. At Yale we see the American predicament made concrete: an entrenched governing class that enjoys the privileges of elite status but refuses to prepare for the responsibilities of elite station.”

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 Are Satanists of the MS‐13 gang an under‐covered story on the religion beat? (Julia Duin, GetReligion): this is a fascinating bit of news commentary. My favorite bit: “How does one get out of MS‐13? An opinion piece in the New York Times this past April gives a surprising response: Go to a Pentecostal church.” Highly recommended. First shared in volume 158.

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 320

delicious news nuggets of particular interest to thoughtful Christians and people connected to Stanford

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 320, which is 28 + 26.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The Mistakes We Cannot Make Again (David French, The Dispatch): “…if people of faith are to be concerned about justice (and they are!), then justice is rarely more immediate and important than when confronting both the scourge of crime and the tragedy of excess enforcement and mass incarceration.”
  2. A Cog in the College Admissions Scandal Speaks Out (Billy Witz, New York Times): “Vandemoer, unlike the others accused in the plot, did not personally gain in the transactions. He handed checks totaling $770,000 from Singer to Stanford development officers, who planned to use the money for new boats.… So as he told his story to Stanford’s investigators, he wondered why no one had ever come to him when the indictments came down, noting that even federal prosecutors had acknowledged he did not enrich himself from the scheme. It reinforced the notion that he was simply an asset — a nameless, expendable cog in a corporation with a $29 billion endowment.” Recommended by a student. Stanford does not come off looking good at all.
  3. Stanford students are more likely to wear masks on bicycles than helmets (Maxwell Meyer, Stanford Review): “In April of this year, I witnessed something on the Stanford campus that will be seared into my memory forever: a student on a bicycle, wearing flip-flops, AirPods in ear, going the wrong way through a roundabout in an active construction zone, with no helmet. But like any good follower of science, the student was wearing a disposable blue face mask — for safety, I guess.” Should he desire to, Meyer will become a well-known national commentator someday. He’s quite good.
  4. Why I Am a Conspiracy Theorist (Hans Boersma, First Things): “When rulers mandate vaccine passports and establish elaborate electronic systems to police compliance, it doesn’t take a great deal of imagination to see how the same system might be used—and in the eyes of many should be used—to regulate carbon emissions, expenditures, and even opinions. After all, it’s not just the coronavirus that is dangerous. So are climate change, social inequality, and certain moral and religious convictions. Technologically, traveling from vaccine passports to a social credit system—the kind that China already has in place—takes no time at all.… This is not an argument against vaccination per se. It is an argument to take conspiracy theorists—David foremost among them—seriously.” The author is an Anglican theologian.
  5. The Public Continues to Underestimate COVID’s Age Discrimination (David Wallace-Wells, NY Magazine): “After 18 months of public-health guidance promoting universal vigilance, I think hardly any American has a clear view of just how dramatic these differentials are. All else being equal, an unvaccinated 66-year old is about 30 times more likely to die, given a confirmed case, than an unvaccinated 36-year-old, and someone over 85 is over 10,000 times more at risk of dying than a child under 10.… a vaccinated 80-year-old has about the same mortality risk as an unvaccinated 50-year-old, and an unvaccinated 30-year-old has a lower risk than a vaccinated 45-year-old.”
  6. Inside the Church That Preaches ‘Wives Need to Be Led with a Firm Hand’ (Sarah Stankorb, Vice): “Mother Kirk can be a joyous, faithful community. But the conservative congregation also is at odds with Moscow’s more liberal population (surrounding Latah county voted for President Biden in 2020). Depending upon whom you ask, the town either hosts a Calvinist utopia or a patriarchal cult in which women must submit or face discipline at home and at church. At the center of it all is notoriously controversial Douglas Wilson, the firebrand pastor who has been presiding over his Mother Kirk fiefdom for more than 40 years.” Many of the details in this story are very bad.
    • A Taste of November in the Air (Doug Wilson, personal blog): “Incidentally, in case you are curious, I haven’t read the Vice piece because I did read the questions that the writer sent to Nancy and to me while ‘researching,’ and the said questions were all more loaded than the entrees at Tater’s, Home of the Grand Stuffed Potato Buffet. Way too many bacon bits.… If you read anything that unsettles you, and you would like particular answers to specific questions, we have made them readily available. On the top of this page, over to the right, we have a box called Critical Questions.” Wilson’s response to the Vice piece. 
  7. Unpopulism (David Leonhardt and Ian Prasad Philbrick, New York Times): “In elite circles, including Capitol Hill, people often misunderstand American public opinion in a specific way. They imagine that the median voter resembles a type of political moderate who is quite common in those elite circles — somebody who is socially liberal and fiscally conservative.… In the rest of the country, however, this ideological combination is not so common, polls show. If anything, more Americans can accurately be described as the opposite — socially conservative and economically liberal. That’s true across racial groups, including among Black and Hispanic voters.” Not paywalled.

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 a compelling series of articles on China by a history professor at Johns Hopkins (who also happens to be a Stanford grad): China’s Master Plan: A Global Military Threat, China’s Master Plan: Exporting an Ideology, China’s Master Plan: A Worldwide Web of Institutions and China’s Master Plan: How The West Can Fight Back (Hal Brand, Bloomberg). The money quote from the second article: “If the U.S. has long sought to make the world safe for democracy, China’s leaders crave a world that is safe for authoritarianism.” First shared in volume 156.

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.