Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 123

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. Meet The “Young Saints” Of Bethel Who Go To College To Perform Miracles (Molly Hensley-Clancy, Buzzfeed): “Behind Bethel’s rise is the enormous talent and ambition of the church’s magnetizing leaders, Bill Johnson and Kris Vallotton, who cofounded BSSM in 1998. Depending on who you ask, Vallotton and Johnson are geniuses, false prophets, or both. What’s undeniable is that with Vallotton at his side, Johnson, a fifth-generation pastor, has transformed a small, unremarkable local church into what Christianity Today called ‘a hub of a global revival movement.’” Fair and interesting — much better than other stories I have seen. I know a lot about Bethel and I learned several things from this piece.
  2. A Letter to Jamie Dimon (and anyone else still struggling to understand cryptocurrencies) (Adam Ludwin, company blog): this is a genuinely helpful explanation of what Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are good for. “They’re a new model for creating, financing, and operating software services in a way that is decentralized top-to-bottom. That doesn’t make them better or worse than existing software models or the corporate entities that create them. As we’ll see later, there are major trade-offs. What we can say is simply that they are radically different from software as we know it today and radically different from the forms of organization we are used to.”
  3. Meeting Middle East Christians is where Western stereotypes go to die (John Allen, Crux): “Spending time among the Christians of the Middle East is always an edifying experience, but for Westerners it packs a special punch. That’s because the Christian population of this perennially troubled region often is where Western stereotypes about the Middle East go to die.” The more you follow global news the more surprising you will consider the author’s claims to be.
  4. Chinese House Church Leaders and Toddler Arrested After Singing in Public Park (Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra, Christianity Today): “Other provinces have been coming down especially hard on religious education for children. In Zhejiang province—where hundreds of crosses were torn off churches over the past several years—elementary and middle school children weren’t allowed to attend church or Sunday school this summer.”
  5. 4 Specific Things You Lose When You Leave Christianity (Kristi Harrison, Cracked) — this is well-written and heartbreaking. “I have no idea why anyone thinks church is boring. In my experience, church was not a slog through old songs, tired rituals, or heavy-handed sermons; it was an addictive, engaging experience where I felt like I had a seat at the table with the creator of the Universe.”
  6. Science v. Science+ (David Heddle, personal blog): “So scientifically, at least, science and faith are not incompatible–unless you devise a way to measure/detect the incompatibility. I have proposed two experiments: 1. I’ll give you ten papers from tier‑1 peer-reviewed journals. Five from atheists, five from theists, with the names redacted. Detect the incompatibility and accurately separate the papers into the two groups. 2. Design an experiment that can be done by an atheistic scientist and not a theistic scientist.” The author is a physics professor at Christopher Newport University.
  7. Freedom not to choose is a faith worth believing in (David Mitchell, The Guardian):  “I always say I’m agnostic because I’d like there to be a God – a nice liberal one – but I can’t be sure there is and the idea of regular religious observance unnerves me because it would be unusual in my peer group. Not a very well thought-through philosophy, I know. But in the absence of family or societal pressures, in a context of almost complete religious freedom, many of us rely on similar back-of-an-envelope answers to eternal questions, because adopting the answers thousands of full-time ponderers have come up with over thousands of years feels like squandering that freedom.” David Mitchell is a British comedian/public intellectual (sort of) — if you’re unfamiliar with him, watch some clips from the British game show Would I Lie To You? A good first clip is David Mitchell’s Code For Noteworthiness.

Things Glen Found Entertaining/Amusing

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have The world will only get weirder (Steven Coast, personal blog): “We fixed all the main reasons aircraft crash a long time ago. Sometimes a long, long time ago. So, we are left with the less and less probable events.” The piece is a few years old so the examples are dated, but it remains very intriguing. (first shared in volume 67)

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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