Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 134

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. ‘Walking a line’: The shrewd tactics of the White House’s evangelical gatekeeper (Michelle Boorstein & Sarah Pulliam Bailey, The Washington Post):  “The Senate race in Alabama and Christian nationalist Roy Moore? ‘I’m not involved.’ Trump’s penchant for lying? ‘I don’t want to get into it. Because I don’t focus on those things.’ The GOP tax law that bitterly divided religious leaders? ‘I don’t think there’s an answer.’ ‘For me, that’s all noise,’ he said. ‘It’s not that it isn’t important, but I don’t have time for all that… If I did dig into it, I might have stronger opinions, and that would be a distraction for me.’”
  2. The Top 50 Countries Where It’s Most Dangerous to Follow Jesus (Sarah Zylstra, Christianity Today): “For decades, North Korea has clearly been the world’s worst persecutor of Christians. But now, another nation nearly matches it.” Spoiler alert: Afghanistan.
  3. Classical Liberalism Strikes Out (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “Thus, the irony: individualism and statism are not opposites, but grow together in tandem. In our daily partisan politics, we have tended to pit individualism against statism – Ayn Rand against Karl Marx – with conservatives claiming to be individualists and progressives claiming to support an expansive state. But what we have witnessed is the simultaneous growth of both the state and the rise of individualism, not as opposites, but as necessary partners. The world has never seen a more individualistic society nor a more encompassing state. The state has empowered itself by claiming to empower the individual.” This is a very stimulating interview with Notre Dame professor Patrick Deneen. Highly recommended.
  4. Higher Education Is Drowning In BS (Christian Smith, Chronicle of Higher Education): “Ideas and their accompanying practices have consequences. What is formed in colleges and universities over decades shows up for better or worse in the character and quality of our public servants, political campaigns, public-policy debates, citizen participation, social capital, media programming, lower school education, consumer preferences, business ethics, entertainments, and much more. And the long-term corrosive effects on politics and culture can also be repaired only over the long term, if ever. There are no quick fixes here.” Side note: I’ve met Dr. Smith, who is a sociologist at Notre Dame, before. He’s a smart cookie. 
  5. Oprah: Prophet, Priestess … Queen? (Ross Douthat, New York Times):  “American culture is divided between three broad approaches to religious questions: one traditional, one spiritual and one secular. The traditional approach takes various forms (Catholic and Protestant, Muslim and Orthodox Jewish) but its instincts are creedal, confessional, dogmatic; it believes in a specific revelation, a specific authority and a specific holy book, and seeks to conform itself to teachings handed down from the religious past. The secular approach is post-religious, scientistic, convinced that the laboratory and the microscope will ultimately account for everything that matters, while hopefully justifying a liberal society’s still-somewhat-Christian moral commitments along the way. But in between secularism and traditionalism lies the most American approach to matters of faith….”
  6. Can We Teach Ourselves to Believe? (Agnes Callard, New York Times): “Pascal seems to concede that trying to believe is a matter of wishful thinking, self-deception or self-manipulation. He thinks we should do it anyway. But I think our hope of becoming better people — whether in respect of religion, friendship or justice, or in any number of different ways — rests on the possibility that there is a more straightforward and less self-abasing way to try to believe.” The author is a professor of philosophy at the University of Chicago. 
  7. The Legion Lonely (Steven Thomas, Hazlitt): “Friendship in adulthood is a challenge for a lot of people. On average, both men and women start to lose friends around age 25, and continue to lose friends steadily for the rest of our lives.”

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

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): this is a rewarding essay from way back in 1955. (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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