On Fridays I share articles/resources I have found helpful recently in thinking about broader cultural, societal and theological issues. Be sure to see the explanation and disclaimers at the bottom.
- Jesus of Nazareth, Whose Messianic Message Captivated Thousands, Dies at About 33 (Sam Roberts, Vanity Fair): What would Jesus’ New York Times obituary have looked like? Clever, well‐done, and Good Friday appropriate.
- Anatomy of Doubt (Ira Glass, This American Life): this is an amazing, disturbing story. There are companion print pieces as well, but listen to the podcast.
- Do We Still Need Prisons? (Paul Kirby, Volteface): this article by David Cameron’s former director of public policy is full of creative ideas. Two related thoughts worth pondering: the Bible never commands a government to build prisons, and Jesus said He came to set the prisoners free.
- How well online dating works, according to someone who has been studying it for years (Roberto Ferdman, Wonkblog): this an interview with a Stanford prof. “It’s kind of superficial. But it’s superficial because we’re kind of superficial; it’s like that because humans are like that. Judging what someone else looks like first is not an attribute of technology, it’s an attribute of how we look at people. Dating, both modern and not, is a fairly superficial endeavor.”
- A Dialog On Race and Speech at Yale (Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic): the columnist has a very insightful email interchange with a Yale undergrad.
- Banning Credit Checks Harms African‐Americans (Tyler Cowen): “In states that passed credit‐check bans, it became easier for people with bad credit histories to compete for employment. But disproportionately, they seem to have elbowed aside black job‐seekers.” — read a more thorough summary at Wonkblog.
- A cluster of voices speaking about the religious freedom case recently argued before the Supreme Court:
- Stanford professor Michael McConnell’s take on the oral arguments: “At a time of rising divisiveness and polarization, it would be greatly calming if the Court could unite in this case to protect the rights of many with absolutely no injury to anyone else, or to the public good.”
- Religious Freedom Deserves Deference: Our View Editorial Board, USA Today): “To imagine that non‐profits whose very existence is tied to religion do not deserve more deference than for‐profit businesses is quite a stretch.”
- Little Sisters, Big Case (Russell Moore, The Hill): “Over 100 million Americans don’t have health plans that must offer the government’s drugs. The government exempts big businesses such as Exxon and big municipalities such as New York City, and does so just to reduce administrative inconvenience for these entities. The government even exempts itself, refusing to require the U.S. military—the nation’s largest employer—to provide the same drugs they want to force the Little Sisters of the Poor to provide.”
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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.
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).
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.