On Fridays I share articles/resources about broad cultural, societal and theological issues. Be sure to see the explanation and disclaimers at the bottom.
Since this is issue 128 and that’s an important number in base 2 and I’m a nerd, I’m going to tweak this issue slightly by giving my actual opinion (or at least the brief version of it) after each article.
Also, I am sad that so much of this week’s email is about sexual harassment. There’s a lot of stuff I would gladly link to if I saw it. To give a few examples: I’d love to see thoughtful articles about what’s happening in Zimbabwe, some insights about the amazing tumult in Saudi Arabia, something more comprehensive about Richard Spencer’s visit to campus (ideally something that deals with the way he treated students, with the accuracy of his core claims about Islam, and with the administration’s decision to bar the doors once people left considered in light of the heckler’s veto), and a piece about how India is developing compared with China. But nope — this week there’s a ton of stuff about men being jerks sprinkled with a handful of other observations.
If you find more edifying fare, please send it my way.
Things Glen Found Interesting
- There are so many sexual assault stories in the news right now. It’s overwhelming. The one I find most interesting at the moment is the story of Republican state legislator Wes Goodman, who made vulgar and unwelcome sexual advances to many young men. Rod Dreher has a strong series of posts about it.
- Wes Goodman And Religious Conservatism, Inc. (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “Turns out that Ohio State Rep. Wes Goodman, has been leading a secret promiscuous gay life, despite being married and opposing LGBT rights in his career as a conservative activist and legislator. The story is lurid, including allegations (with screenshots) that he propositioned college students who were political activists, inviting them to join him (and sometimes him and his wife) for sex.”
- More Wes Goodman Fallout (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “ You cannot judge an entire religion — any religion — entirely by the worst behavior of its adherents, any more than you can judge it entirely by the best behavior of its adherents. Nevertheless, it’s a dodge when Christian leaders say, ‘Oh, Billy Graham is who Evangelicals are, not Wes Goodman,’ or ‘St. Teresa of Calcutta is who Catholics are, not Father Geoghan.’ All of us are the best and the worst of our communions. You, with all your sins and all your virtues, are who Catholics/Orthodox/Protestants are, or who Jews are, or Muslims, and so forth. We are both our ideals and our failure to live up to those ideals.”
- One Of Wes Goodman’s Marks Speaks (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “But I hope that Wes is, like me, a sinner with a future. And this is the second reason that I have not de-friended him yet. Now is the time for him to heartily repent of his sins, believe in Jesus Christ and sincerely and honestly intend by the help of God and the Holy Spirit henceforth to amend his life. Often, the journey in sackcloth and ashes is a lonesome one and one fraught with depression. I have been there. But I hope that if Wes intends to make it, he realizes he doesn’t have to do so alone.”
- How Washington, DC Predators Target Interns (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “To answer the second question—how sexual predators operate—I want to begin by talking a bit about the kind of place Washington was when I lived there in the early 2010s. Washington is a city that turns over a large sector of its workforce every four months. Roughly corresponding with the academic year, thousands of interns — for the branches of government, for the non-profits, for the consulting firms, for the startups — arrive, sometimes by plane with a single suitcase and sometimes in their parents’ SUVs with the back seats covered with cardboard boxes.”
- Glen’s take: I know some of you are considering a life in public service. Keep Numbers 32:23 — “your sin will find you out” — close to your heart. The reckoning is coming not only for the state legislator in question but also for those who covered up for him.
- Related: The absurd arguments we make to defend Roy Moore and Al Franken are getting dangerous (Russell Moore, Washington Post): “Once the next generation comes to see that progressives don’t really care about ‘social justice’ or that conservatives don’t really care about ‘family values’ except as rhetorical tools, they will walk away, toward something else. Note the collapsing trust in institutions, seen in virtually every survey of younger Americans. Many factors account for this, but one driving factor is cynicism, the idea that institutions are just about keeping power for those who already have it.”
- Also related: The Danger of Knowing You’re on the ‘Right Side of History’ (Andrew Sullivan, NY Mag): “There is a moment here. No party is immune from evil; no tribe has a monopoly of good. If these bipartisan sex-abuse revelations can begin to undermine the tribalism that so poisons our public life, to reveal that beneath the tribes, we are all flawed and human, they may not only be a long-overdue turning point for women. They may be a watershed for all of us.”
- What Do We Do with the Art of Monstrous Men? (Claire Dederer, The Paris Review): “They did or said something awful, and made something great. The awful thing disrupts the great work; we can’t watch or listen to or read the great work without remembering the awful thing. Flooded with knowledge of the maker’s monstrousness, we turn away, overcome by disgust. Or … we don’t. We continue watching, separating or trying to separate the artist from the art.” The language in this piece is vulgar.
- Glen’s take: From a Christian perspective, someone like Bill Cosby or Woody Allen is only a extreme example of a larger issue. Most Hollywood products were made by people who sleep around or watch porn or otherwise violate basic Biblical norms. If wickedness in the creator taints all their creative products then there’s very little for a Christian to read, to listen to, or to watch. Creative works stand or fall on their own apart from the moral virtue of the creator. 1 Corinthian 5:9–13 has relevance for how we relate to culture at large.
- Apple Sabotages Itself (Justin Lee, First Things): “A definition of speech narrow enough to exclude decorative arts will almost certainly exclude source code as well. The FBI could easily use such a precedent in court to compel Apple to write code capable of breaching their iPhone users’ privacy.”
- Glen’s take: I am 100% on the side of Masterpiece Cakeshop. Jack Phillips is right and his critics are dangerously wrong. If he loses his case, unintended consequences will abound. This article highlights one.
- Reporting on Paula White and the White House (Julia Duin, GetReligion): this is a follow-up to the profile of White I shared last week and it contains more fascinating anecdotes. “Much of what she told me about 2007, her year from hell when she got divorced, her church was losing members and she was investigated by a U.S. Senate committee didn’t make it into the final draft but she lost 20 pounds during that time. ‘I had my first glass of wine in 2007,’ she said. ‘I asked God permission to cuss. I used every word except His in vain. I searched for what door I’d left open for all this to go wrong.’”
- Glen’s take: Reading these articles makes me think I would like Paula White. Then again, I’m partial to Paulas. 🙂
- Republicans’ beliefs are bending to Trump. Here’s why they might not even notice. (Brian Resnick, Vox): “…when people change their mind on a subject, they have a hard time recalling that they ever felt another way. It’s an intriguing finding in part because it affirms that people think their beliefs are more stable than they actually are.”
- Glen’s take: As a pastor I observe this all the time. We are all less rational than we believe. “Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool” (Proverbs 28:26a, ESV).
- Why would-be parents should choose to get married (The Economist): “You could make enough confetti for a summer of weddings with all the academic papers that show how much children gain from being brought up in stable, loving families, and how much they suffer when those families break down…. And one strong claim that can be made for marriage is that it appears to glue parents together more tightly than any other arrangement.”
- Glen’s take: It’s enough to make you think God’s plan is wise. Shocking. Also, in case you’ve ever wondered: the Economist doesn’t identify which authors wrote which articles. It’s a philosophy of theirs.
- What Are the Lessons of the Post-Weinstein Moment? (Rebecca Traister and Ross Douthat, The Cut): “I do think porn has had some sort of weird effect on the male imagination. And that masturbation plus a morality of consent convinces some men to think, Okay, I accept that the rules say, I can’t actually rape you but under the rules of consent, I’m just standing over here, you know, doing my own thing.”
- Glen’s take: Wow. A civil and intelligent conversation between two very different people who find common ground amidst their differences (where they differ I largely agree with Douthat). A hundred million more conversations like this and our culture might get healthier.
Things Glen Found Amusing
- Facebook Can Now Translate Your Friends’ Intentionally Vague Status Updates (Babylon Bee)
- An optical illusion — it hurts me that I can be so mistaken (reddit)
- A crazy orange carving (gfycat)
Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago
Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have the hilarious Everything That’s Wrong Of Raccoons (Mallory Ortberg, The Toast): “Once when my dog died a passel of raccoons showed up in the backyard as if to say ‘Now that he’s gone, we own the night,’ and they didn’t flinch when I yelled at them, and I found it disrespectful to 1) me personally and 2) the entire flow of the food chain. Don’t disrespect me if you can’t eat me, you false-night-dogs.” (first shared in volume 97)
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.
Archives at http://glenandpaula.com/wordpress/category/links.