Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 52

On Fridays I share articles/resources about cultural, societal and theological issues, with a preference for content from academics and influential voices. Be sure to see the explanation and disclaimers at the bottom.

  1. Nicole Cliffe: How God Messed Up My Happy Atheist Life (Nicole Cliffe, Christianity Today): “I emailed a friend who is a Christian, and I asked if we could talk about Jesus. I instantly regretted sending that email and if humanly possible would have clawed it back through the Internet.”
  2. The Sun Is Always Shining In Modern Christian Pop (Leah Libresco, FiveThirtyEight): interesting, although the author is comparing contemporary performance songs to older worship songs, and I suspect the genre difference accounts for some of her findings. Doing some research on the author I discovered that she wrote a fascinating article at First Things called Statting While Catholic — you should read it if you’re a social scientist.
  3. Why Americans Don’t Trust Government (Larry Summers, Washington Post): “I’m a progressive, but it seems plausible to wonder if government can build a nation abroad, fight social decay, run schools, mandate the design of cars, run health insurance exchanges, or set proper sexual harassment policies on college campuses, if it can’t even fix a 232‐foot bridge competently.“ Summers is, of course, the former president of Harvard.
  4. Could a neuroscientist understand a microprocessor? (Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution): “Could the tools of neuroscience be used to understand the much simpler Atari brain? The answer is mostly no. The authors, for example, looked at three ‘behaviors’, Donkey Kong, Space Invaders and Pitfall (!) and they are able to find transistors which uniquely crash one of the games but not the others. ‘We might thus conclude they are uniquely responsible for the game – perhaps there is a Donkey Kong transistor or a Space Invaders transistor.’ Of course, this conclusion would be very misleading but what are we then to make of similar brain lesion studies?”
  5. Study: Same‐sex experiences are on the rise, and Americans are increasingly chill about it (Rachel Feltman, Washington Post): nothing to see here, folks. Everything is 100% genetic. There are no moral choices involved at any point on the journey. Move along, please.
  6. The Return of Bernard Lewis (Martin Kramer, Mosaic): “Forty years ago, nobody foresaw the rise of radical Islam—except for the preeminent historian who both predicted and explained it, and much else besides.”
  7. Under Attack (editorial, The Economist): “…when progressive thinkers agree that offensive words should be censored, it helps authoritarian regimes to justify their own much harsher restrictions…“
  8. Like A Prayer: Is Social Justice The New Campus Religion? (Ana Marie Cox, MTV News): Cox came out as a Christian (her words) last year. She has a much more enthusiastic take on campus activism than many of the articles I share (such as the ones above and below).
  9. The amazing 1969 prophecy that racial preferences would cause the exact grievances of protesters today (Jonathan Haidt, Heterodox Academy): the disclaimers at the bottom apply to this one most of all. I at first wondered if it was based upon a hoax, but it seems legitimate. If you have a strong negative reaction to this piece, you’re welcome. Thinking through why will help you be more persuasive.
  10. Amusing:

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.

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