Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 109

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.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. How We Are Ruining America (David Brooks, NYT): “To feel at home in opportunity-rich areas, you’ve got to understand the right barre techniques, sport the right baby carrier, have the right podcast, food truck, tea, wine and Pilates tastes, not to mention possess the right attitudes about David Foster Wallace, child-rearing, gender norms and intersectionality.” This column spawned much derision on social media, but I strongly agree with Brooks — and so do many commentators. Here are sympathetic reactions from Freddie deBoer on the left and from Rod Dreher on the right. Dan Drezner takes it in a different direction, and the Monkey Cage says “duh” while Alan Jacobs calls people unwilling to acknowledge Brooks’ observation “willfully blind”.
  2. Luther’s Revolution (The Nation, Elizabeth Bruenig): “Theology is morality is politics is law—and whether or not it’s immediately obvious, the world is steeped in theology. In contemporary America, and especially in the more secular precincts of Western Europe, it seems unlikely that one could look at a property deed or a government budget and find, just beneath its explicit reasoning, traces of old theological disputes and their resolutions. But they’re there…”
  3. I’ve Worked with Refugees for Decades. Europe’s Afghan Crime Wave Is Mind-Boggling. (Cheryl Benard, The National Interest): “Europeans were predisposed to be positive towards Afghan refugees. But it quickly became obvious that something was wrong, very wrong, with these young Afghan men: they were committing sex crimes to a much greater extent than other refugees… It took a while for the pattern to be recognized because, until recently, western European media deliberately refrained from identifying an assailant’s refugee or asylum status, or his country of origin.”
  4. Personality, Gender, and Age in the Language of Social Media: The Open-Vocabulary Approach (Schwartz HA, Eichstaedt JC, Kern ML, Dziurzynski L, Ramones SM, Agrawal M, et al., PLOS One) — This one is from 2013. Pay particular attention to Figure 6 and notice the cluster of words associated with emotional stability. #blessed #on_my_way to #church
  5. No Retreat: Lecrae’s Approach to “Culture-Making” (Jemar Tisby, Christ and Pop Culture): “But Lecrae couldn’t fulfill his mission if his beats only banged in Christian ears, though not because Christians aren’t important to him. It was Christian fans who propelled him to popularity and still continue to support him. Nevertheless, having testified in Jerusalem, so to speak, Lecrae felt compelled to testify also in Rome (Acts 23:11).” This is related to what we’re covering in our summer reading project, and you’re welcome to join us. 
  6. In Praise of Extreme Medicine (Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution): “It’s odd that we allow some crazy things and ban others—even more that the crazy things we allow are sometimes socially useless while the crazy things that we ban are sometimes socially valuable. The case for banning extreme sports, for example, is much stronger than the case for banning extreme medicine.”
  7. ‘Born this way’? It’s way more complicated than that (Alia E. Dastagir, USA Today): “Getting America to believe that people are born gay — that it’s not something that can be chosen or ever changed — has been central to the fight for gay rights. If someone can’t help being gay any more than they can help the color of their skin, the logic goes, denying them rights is wrong. But many members of the LGBTQ community reject this narrative…”
  8. Why Roman concrete still stands strong while modern version decays (Nicola Davis, The Guardian): recommended by an alumnus. I sometimes hear people state it like a self-evident truth that we are smarter than the ancients. I see no evidence we are any more intelligent than them. We just have more accumulated knowledge in certain domains.

Things Glen Found Entertaining

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have On Obstinacy In Belief (C.S. Lewis, The Sewanee Review). Lewis explains why Christians are justified in continuing to believe even when they encounter an argument they can’t immediately answer (first shared in volume 6).

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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