Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 136

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. Trump has been president for about a year now. Here are some perspectives (if you only read one, read the one you think you’ll disagree with most):
    • Trump’s first year was even worse than feared (Eugene Robinson, Washington Post):  “Many of us began 2017 with the consoling thought that the Donald Trump presidency couldn’t possibly be as bad as we feared. It turned out to be worse.”
    • I wasn’t a Trump supporter. I am now. (Mollie Hemingway, Washington Post): “My expectations were low — so low that he could have met them by simply not being President Hillary Clinton. But a year into this presidency, he’s exceeded those expectations by quite a bit. I’m thrilled.”
    • ‘Vision, Chutzpah and Some Testosterone’ (New York Times): “Granted we have the most unpresidential president of our time. Crude, rude, clueless dude — but I believe, with the help of his friends, he’s stumbling through one of the most effective presidencies in memory.” This is from a collection of letters to the NY Times by Trump supporters.
    • This one trick explains the pattern of conservative praise for Trump’s first year (Dan Drezner, Washington Post): “All of this is consistent with assessments that Trump’s first year, even from a conservative perspective, has been pretty mediocre.”
    • Trump So Far Is More Farce Than Tragedy (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “A vast gulf between the things Trump says he wants — which are, indeed, often authoritarian — and the things that actually happen is the essential characteristic of his presidency’s first year.… his cabinet looks a lot like a generic Republican administration, whose efforts liberals understandably oppose and sometimes deplore, but which are not remotely like the workings of a fascist cabal circa 1935.”
    • President Trump’s First Year, in 14 Metrics (Mike Nizza, Blomberg View): “Last year our columnists selected a range of conventional and whimsical metrics by which to judge the success of the new president. We revisit them here. Bottom line: By these measures, he’s doing better than his opponents will admit and worse than his supporters believe.”
  2. Is everything you think you know about depression wrong? (Johann Hari, The Guardian): “Once you settle into a story about your pain, you are extremely reluctant to challenge it. It was like a leash I had put on my distress to keep it under some control. I feared that if I messed with the story I had lived with for so long, the pain would run wild, like an unchained animal. Yet the scientific evidence was showing me something clear, and I couldn’t ignore it.”
    • This reminds me of an article that made an impression upon me back in 2003: The Pursuit of Happiness (Benjamin Healy interviewing Carl Elliott, The Atlantic): “On Prozac, Sisyphus might well push the boulder back up the mountain with more enthusiasm and more creativity. I do not want to deny the benefits of psychoactive medication. I just want to point out that Sisyphus is not a patient with a mental health problem. To see him as a patient with a mental health problem is to ignore certain larger aspects of his predicament connected to boulders, mountains, and eternity.”
    • See also Staying Awake Is A Surprisingly Effective Way To Treat Depression (Linda Geddes, Digg):  “‘Sleep deprivation really has opposite effects in healthy people and those with depression,’ says Benedetti. If you’re healthy and you don’t sleep, you’ll feel in a bad mood. But if you’re depressed, it can prompt an immediate improvement in mood, and in cognitive abilities.”
  3. Follow up to last week: Bolivia’s President Revokes Evangelism Restrictions (Morgan Lee, Christianity Today): “President Evo Morales Ayma announced that he will tell the South American nation’s Legislative Assembly to repeal the entire penal code in the wake of recent changes that, among other tweaks, introduced severe restrictions on religious freedom.”
  4. Of Money and Morals (Alex Mayyasi, Aeon): “Today, a banker listening to a theologian seems like a curiosity, a category error. But for most of history, this kind of dialogue was the norm.” I was reluctant to read this piece because I’ve read others that were off-puttingly ill-informed, but I was pleasantly surprised.
  5. It’s the (Democracy-Poisoning) Golden Age of Free Speech (Zeynep Tufekci, Wired): “The most effective forms of censorship today involve meddling with trust and attention, not muzzling speech itself. As a result, they don’t look much like the old forms of censorship at all. They look like viral or coordinated harassment campaigns, which harness the dynamics of viral outrage to impose an unbearable and disproportionate cost on the act of speaking out.”

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 Christian Missions and the Spread of Democracy (Greg Scandlen, The Federalist): This is a summary of some rather wonderful research Robert Woodberry published in The American Political Science Review back in 2012: The Missionary Roots of Liberal Democracy. If it looks familiar it’s because I allude to it from time to time in my sermons and conversations. (first shared in volume 14)

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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