Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 118

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. Eat, pray, live: the Lagos megachurches building their very own cities (Ruth Mclean, The Guardian): “Redemption Camp has 5,000 houses, roads, rubbish collection, police, supermarkets, banks, a fun fair, a post office – even a 25 megawatt power plant. In Nigeria, the line between church and city is rapidly vanishing.”
  2. An Open Letter to Ta-Nehisi Coates (Jason D. Hill, Commentary Magazine): a gay black man strongly believes in the American dream and takes issue with Coates’ disparagement of it. “I expected no special treatment because, as an American, I was already part of an exceptional process. My ideas, I had decided on the flight over, would one day be taught in colleges and universities. I will tell you presently the extent to which that willed decision became reality, and why it was possible only in the United States of America.” (incidentally, I featured an essay by Coates back in issue 80)
  3. The Question of Race in Campus Sexual-Assault Cases (Emily Yoffe, The Atlantic): “Kagle believes that men of color—and especially foreign men of color, students from Africa and Asia—were uniquely defenseless when charged with sexual assault, typically lacking financial resources, a network of support, and an understanding of their rights.” I linked Yoffe’s two previous articles in last week’s edition. They should be read in conjunction with Campus Rape, A Survivor’s Story (Bret Stephens, NY Times).
  4. They Serve Gay Clients All The Time. So Why Won’t They Cater A Same-Sex Wedding? (Josh Shepherd, The Federalist): “Phillips choked up with emotion as he continued: ‘You can’t serve God and money. I didn’t open this so I could make a lot of money. I opened it up so it would be a way that I could create my art, do the baking that I love and serve the God that I love in ways that would hopefully honor Him.’” See also Icing on the Cake: Justice Dept. Backs Christian Baker Bound for Supreme Court (Kate Shellnut, Christianity Today). The latter is tremendous news, and presumably due to the influence of Mike Pence.
  5. How Many Churches Does America Have? More Than Expected (Rebecca Randall, Christianity Today): “According to a recent paper published by sociologist Simon Brauer in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, the number of religious congregations in the United States has increased by almost 50,000 since 1998.” You can see the original research here — the researcher is a sociologist at Duke University. Interesting news. It’s almost like the gates of hell cannot prevail against the church. 
  6. Faith groups provide the bulk of disaster recovery, in coordination with FEMA (Paul Singer, USA Today):  “ ‘About 80% of all recovery happens because of non-profits, and the majority of them are faith-based,’ said Greg Forrester, CEO of the national VOAD. The money is ‘all raised by the individuals who go and serve, raised through corporate connections, raised through church connections,’ and amounts to billions of dollars worth of disaster recovery assistance, he said.”
  7. The Human Fetus Preferentially Engages with Face-like Visual Stimuli (Current Biology, Reid et al): apparently about a month and a half before birth babies can perceive faces through the uterine wall. You can read a popular summary of the research at Seeker: Human Fetuses Can See and React to Faces From Inside the Womb. I found this research both amazing and depressing. I wonder how many babies were excited to be making a new friend up until they were aborted.
  8. Harvard Calls Chelsea Manning Invite A ‘Mistake,’ Rescinds Fellowship Offer — Here’s What’s Going On (Benjamin Goggin, Digg). For a good explanation of reasons so many were opposed to this appointment, read When Transgender Trumps Treachery (James Kirchick, NY Times). Kirchick is gay, which makes his piece all the more interesting to read.

Things Glen Found Amusing

  • Magic 8 Ball (reddit)
  • Too Dumb To Understand (Dilbert)
  • A Frog Prince — Penn and Teller (Youtube)
  • Study: College Students Spend Far More Time Playing Than Studying (Megan Oprea, The Federalist): “The sad truth is that universities have begun to exist for the sake of their own existence, rather than the education of their undergrads. Meanwhile, students are taking their studies less and less seriously as they realize that they need only go through the motions to graduate and get on the job market, which is their ultimate goal. No wonder they’re spending their time on everything except their studies.” Disclaimer: yes, I know the numbers are different at Stanford. I also know you spend more time on non-academic activities than you think. #justsayin

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have Making Sense of the Numbers of Genesis [pdf link] (Carol Hill, Perspectives on Science and the Christian Faith): “Joseph and Joshua were each recorded as dying at age 110—a number considered ‘perfect’ by the Egyptians. In ancient Egyptian doctrine, the phrase ‘he died aged 110’ was actually an epitaph commemorating a life that had been lived selflessly and had resulted in outstanding social and moral benefit for others. And so for both Joseph and Joshua, who came out of the Egyptian culture, quoting this age was actually a tribute to their character. But, to be described as ‘dying at age 110’ bore no necessary relationship to the actual time of an individual’s life span.” You will not agree with everything in this article, but it is full of fascinating insights. (first shared in volume 51)

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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