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.
This week there are a few more links than normal. Enjoy!
- New Evidence On When The Bible Was Written: Ancient Shopping Lists (Isabel Kershner, New York Times): “One of the longstanding arguments for why the main body of biblical literature was not written down in anything like its present form until after the destruction and exile of 586 B.C. is that before then there was not enough literacy or enough scribes to support such a huge undertaking. But if the literacy rates in the Arad fortress were repeated across the kingdom of Judah, which had about 100,000 people, there would have been hundreds of literate people, the Tel Aviv research team suggests.” — also check out the AP/Guardian on this.
- Is Porn Immoral? That Doesn’t Matter: It’s a Public Health Crisis (Gaile Dines, Washington Post): “After 40 years of peer‐reviewed research, scholars can say with confidence that porn is an industrial product that shapes how we think about gender, sexuality, relationships, intimacy, sexual violence and gender equality — for the worse…. just as the tobacco industry argued for decades that there was no proof of a connection between smoking and lung cancer, so, too, has the porn industry, with the help of a well‐oiled public relations machine, denied the existence of empirical research on the impact of its products.”
- Facebook Employees Asked Mark Zuckerberg If They Should Try To Stop A Donald Trump Presidency (Michael Nunez, Gizmodo): “Facebook has toyed with skewing news in the past. During the 2008 presidential election, Facebook secretly tampered with 1.9 million user’s news feeds. An academic paper was published about the secret experiment, claiming that Facebook increased voter turnout by more than 340,000 people. In 2010, the company tampered with news feeds again. It conducted a 61‐million‐person experiment to see how Facebook could impact the real‐world voting behavior of millions of people. In 2012, Facebook deliberately experimented on its users’ emotions. The company, again, secretly tampered with the news feeds of 700,000 people and concluded that Facebook can basically make you feel whatever it wants you to.”
- I Was A Closeted Christian At The Pentagon (Matthew Spence, Washington Post): “I feared how coming out as a practicing Christian would define me. I worried that my bosses, peers and subordinates might associate me with American officials who have spoken of U.S. military engagements in the Middle East as ‘crusades’ or with the Islamic State’s declaration of holy war. I feared that talking about my faith would detract from the logic of my arguments. And, as a relatively young person in a senior position, I needed every scrap of credibility I could claim.”
- Why Jesus’ Skin Color Matters (Christena Cleveland, Christianity Today): “While Christ the Lord transcends skin color and racial divisions, white Jesus has real consequences.”
- Houston police officer presents a few “double‐edged sword” scenarios regarding body cameras (reddit): unintended consequences are always difficult to predict.
- Was It Wrong To Hack and Leak the Panama Papers? (Tyler Cowen, blog): surprisingly stimulating.
- Onward Christian Soldiers: In the Era of Trump‐Style Politics, Evangelical Voters Are Not a Monolith (Julie Lyons, Houston Press): this is a very insightful and data‐rich article.
- The Tensions Threatening the Future of Religious Freedom Law (Kelsey Dallas, Deseret News): this is a very good summary of the current state of religious freedom legislation.
- Christianity and Korea (Dave Hazzan, The Diplomat): “Evangelical zeal to send missionaries to places most others would never go – including Afghanistan, Iraq, Jordan, and Yemen – have caused headaches for the government. In 2007, after ignoring the government’s advice, 27 Korean missionaries to Afghanistan were kidnapped by the Taliban, and two were killed. In 2009, the Korean foreign ministry warned Korean Christians to stop missionizing in Arab countries, fearing it was making Koreans terrorist targets.”9
- Kinda Random
- Our Collective Responsibility and the Weaponization of Satire (The Flipside): consistently the funniest publication on campus
- Sorry About That KKK Thing, Father (Jeremy Lott, AMI Newswire): I find this hilarious. Eric Metaxas teases out some of the implications in Not “Getting” Religion.
- The Museum Filled With Poisonous Spiders That Just Won’t Die (Henry Nicholls, BBC): “But 14 females survived total starvation for an average of 453 days. One spider – a female – lived without food or water for 755 days. That’s over two years.”
- Brothers Convince Little Sister of Zombie Apocalypse (YouTube): this is wonderful. I hope my children develop that kind of relationship.
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.