Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 130

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. There is a small but vocal group of skeptics who claim that Jesus never existed. Larry Hurtado, a professor of early Christianity, takes them down in a series of blog posts.
    • Why The Mythical Jesus Claim Has No Traction With Scholars (Larry Hurtado, personal blog): “The attempts to deny Jesus’ historical existence are, for anyone acquainted with the relevant evidence, blatantly silly.”
    • Focus, Focus, Focus! (Larry Hurtado, personal blog): “Another reader seems greatly exercised over how much of the Jesus-tradition Paul recounts in his letters, and how much Paul may have known…. Paul ascribes to Jesus a human birth, a ministry among fellow Jews, an execution specifically by Roman crucifixion, named/known siblings, and other named individuals who were Jesus’ original companions (e.g., Kephas/Peter, John Zebedee).  Indeed, in Paul’s view, it was essential that Jesus is a real human, for the resurrected Jesus is Paul’s model and proto-type of the final redemption that Paul believes God will bestow on all who align themselves with Jesus.”
    • Gee, Dr. Carrier, You’re Really Upset! (Larry Hurtado, personal blog): “This example will adequately serve to illustrate why Carrier’s work hasn’t had any impact in scholarly circles.  He gets himself into a muddle.”
  2. Four Questions About American Greatness (Bret Stephens, New York Times): Difficult to excerpt but good. Stephens says America is great and that to retain our greatness we must have a proper attitude toward immigrants, independent thinking, failure, and global leadership. Recommended by a friend — thank you!
  3. A Police Killing Without a Hint of Racism (Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic): “No unjust killing of a black person should go uncovered. But I suspect it would be in everyone’s interest if journalists and activists paid more attention to egregious police killings of white people. If you’re horrified by Daniel Shaver’s untimely death, yet against Black Lives Matter, consider that Shaver might well be alive if only the Mesa police department had long ago adopted reforms of the sort that Black Lives Matter suggests.” There is a follow-up article — Footage Of A Police Shooting Jurors Chose Not To Punish.
  4. The world is relying on a flawed psychological test to fight racism (Olivia Goldhill, Quartz): “meta-analyses showed that the [Implicit Association Test] is no better at predicting discriminatory behavior (including microaggressions) than explicit measures of explicit bias, such as the Modern Racism Scale, which evaluates racism simply by asking participants to state their level of agreement with [racist statements].”
  5. Survey: Evangelical Label, Beliefs Often At Odds (Bob Smietana, Baptist Press): “Fewer than half of those who identify as evangelicals (45 percent) strongly agree with core evangelical beliefs…. Only two-thirds (69 percent) of evangelicals by belief self-identify as evangelicals.” This is important to remember both when reading the news and when talking with others — the label evangelical doesn’t mean what it should. Usefully illustrated in visual form on Twitter.
  6. The Origin of Silicon Valley’s Dysfunctional Attitude Toward Hate Speech (Noam Cohen, The New Yorker): “Censoring a newsgroup, he explained to those who might not be familiar with Usenet, was like pulling a book from circulation. Since ‘Mein Kampf’ was still on the library shelves, it was hard to imagine how anything else merited removal.” The article is about Stanford, and it led me to entirely different conclusions than the author intended.
  7. The Church’s Fate Is Not Electoral: Our Roy Moore Moment (Greg Forster, Gospel Coalition): ”There are no Flight 93 moments for the church; there never have been and never will be. Certainly God’s people will continue to face persecution from worldly powers, as we always have. But the idea that we have to compromise moral standards in order to prevent the destruction of the church reflects an appalling failure to grasp where the church’s fate really lies. The church’s fate is not electoral; it’s eschatological. The church’s triumph over its enemies comes with the King’s return.”
  8. The Supreme Court heard arguments on Tuesday about the Colorado baker who refuses to bake cakes for events he find objectionable — including gay weddings.
    • Argument analysis: Conservative majority leaning toward ruling for Colorado baker (Amy Howe, SCOTUSblog): “Although making predictions based on oral argument is always dangerous, it seemed very possible that there are five votes for Phillips among the court’s more conservative justices, even if it is less clear how broadly they will rule.”
    • A Baker’s First Amendment Rights (Robert P. George and Sherif Girgis, New York Times): “You need the First Amendment precisely when your ideas offend others or flout the majority’s orthodoxies. And then it protects more than your freedom to speak your mind; it guards your freedom not to speak the mind of another.”
    • We’re lawyers who support same-sex marriage. We also support the Masterpiece Cakeshop baker. (Douglas Laycock & Thomas Berg, Vox): “The case tests the nation’s commitment to liberty and justice for all. And we aren’t doing well on the part about ‘for all.’ Too many Americans, left and right, religious and secular, want liberty for their own side in the culture wars, but not for the other side.” The authors are not just lawyers — they are professors of constitutional law.
    • How Not To Advance Gay Marriage (David Brooks, New York Times): “If you want to know why we have such a polarized, angry and bitter society, one reason is we take every disagreement that could be addressed in conversation and community and we turn it into a lawsuit. We take every morally supple situation and we hand it over to the legal priesthood, which by necessity is a system of technocratic rationalism, strained slippery-slope analogies and implied coercion.”

Things Glen Found Amusing

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have 20 Arguments For God’s Existence (Peter Kreeft, personal website): “You may be blessed with a vivid sense of God’s presence; and that is something for which to be profoundly grateful. But that does not mean you have no obligation to ponder these arguments. For many have not been blessed in that way. And the proofs are designed for them—or some of them at least—to give a kind of help they really need. You may even be asked to provide help.” The author is a philosophy professor at Boston College. (first shared in volume 116)

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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