Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 145

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’ve been traveling a lot this week, so I haven’t done as much online reading as normal. A few of these links are actually leftovers from previous weeks that didn’t quite make the original cut. Let me know if I overlooked something you think I’d find interesting!

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Why I’m Happy My Son Married at 20 (Rebecca Brewster Stevenson, Christianity Today): “The prevalent message in our culture is that young adulthood is the time to build a foundation for a healthy life. Those in their early 20s are encouraged to pursue education, travel, and gain life experience, all unhindered by wedlock. Marriage is viewed by many as something that comes only after adequate time to develop personal identity and establish a strong financial footing. But inherent in this delay is a reality we as parents are very cognizant of: Young adults, like all of us, are sexual beings. When marriage is delayed, so is the opportunity to experience sexual intimacy within God’s parameters of a marriage covenant.”
  2. Stanford’s Proposed Renaming Principles: when I read the principles, my initial thought was that Serra’s name was secure on campus. But at least one student strongly disagrees.  
  3. The Perils of Paid Content (Andrew Potter, In Due Course): “When I was a student journalist, it was axiomatic that advertising was the biggest threat to independent media. Putting your livelihood in the hands of capitalists meant, ipso facto, doing their bidding. Experience is a great teacher though, and when I started working as an editor at a newspaper, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that you didn’t wake up every day to a swarm of calls from outraged advertisers threatening to pull their campaigns if we didn’t smarten up….  But you know who does complain a lot? Subscribers do, endlessly.”
  4. Last Fall This Scholar Defended Colonialism. Now He’s Defending Himself. (Vimal Patel, Chronicle of Higher Education): “There are two separate issues. One is the substantive issue of colonialism. I think the academy remains highly illiberal and intolerant of my viewpoint. It remains the case that most of the people who supported me didn’t support me because they agreed with my argument. I think my supporters came in two types: those who agreed with my argument, and others who said that even bad arguments that have gone through the process of being published should be responded to, not silenced.”
  5. Empire State Of Mind (Doug Mack, Slate): “If you can find Iowa on the map and rattle off a few facts about the state (corn, caucuses, Field of Dreams, a really big state fair), you should be able to do the same for Puerto Rico, which has a larger population. That’s especially important for leaders in Washington, given that the territories have no full‐fledged congressional representation of their own, and given that a certain baseline level of knowledge is a prerequisite for sound policymaking.”
  6. The Cambridge Analytica Scandal, in 3 Paragraphs (Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic): “About 270,000 people installed Kogan’s app on their Facebook account. But as with any Facebook developer at the time, Kogan could access data about those users or their friends. And when Kogan’s app asked for that data, it saved that information into a private database instead of immediately deleting it. Kogan provided that private database, containing information about 50 million Facebook users, to the voter‐profiling company Cambridge Analytica. Cambridge Analytica used it to make 30 million ‘psychographic’ profiles about voters.
  7. John Bolton Is Right About the U.N. (Bret Stephens, New York Times): “The U.N. is a never‐ending scandal disguised as an everlasting hope. The hope is that dialogue can overcome distrust and collective security can be made to work in the interests of humanity. Reality says otherwise. Trust is established by deeds, not words. Collective security is a recipe for international paralysis or worse. Just ask the people of Aleppo.”

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.

Disclaimer

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.

If this was forwarded to you and you want to receive future emails, sign up here. You can also view the archives.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 144

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. Extensive Data Shows Punishing Reach of Racism for Black Boys (Emily Badger, Claire Cain Miller, Adam Pearce And Kevin Quealy, NY Times): “The authors, including the Stanford economist Raj Chetty and two census researchers, Maggie R. Jones and Sonya R. Porter, tried to identify neighborhoods where poor black boys do well, and as well as whites. ‘The problem,’ Mr. Chetty said, ‘is that there are essentially no such neighborhoods in America.’ And, intriguingly, these pockets — including parts of the Maryland suburbs of Washington, and corners of Queens and the Bronx — were the places where many lower‐income black children had fathers at home. Poor black boys did well in such places, whether their own fathers were present or not.”
    • The main takeaway from this research is that American society is failing black men. The sole ray of hope I saw in the article was in the paragraph above: poor black boys apparently do as well as similarly‐situated poor white boys if there are black fathers nearby. It’s stunning: a dense gathering of fathers can bring health even into fatherless situations. The family is a basic building block of society and we weaken it at great risk. I’m shocked this result from the study hasn’t received more coverage.
  2. Marriage Has Become a Trophy (Andrew Cherlin, The Atlantic): “For many people, regardless of sexual orientation, a wedding is no longer the first step into adulthood that it once was, but, often, the last. It is a celebration of all that two people have already done, unlike a traditional wedding, which was a celebration of what a couple would do in the future.” The author is a sociologist at Johns Hopkins.
  3. This Preacher Would Be Happy to Share Your Bowl of Açaí (Laura Wilson, New York Times): “Pastors today who want to start a ministry for those 40 and under follow a well‐traveled path. First, they lease an old theater or club. Next, they find great singers and backup musicians. A fog machine on stage is nice. A church should also have a catchy logo or catchphrase that can be stamped onto merchandise and branded — socks, knit hats, shoes and sweatshirts. (An online pop‐up shop on Memorial Day sold $10,000 in merchandise its first hour, Mr. Veach said.) And lastly, churches need a money app — Zoe uses Pushpay — to make it easy for churchgoers to tithe with a swipe on their smartphones.”
    • I thought this was an odd paragraph: “‘Instagram built our church,’ he said one afternoon at his office here a block from the El Rey Theater. ‘Isn’t that fascinating?’ Mr. Veach believes he can save souls by being the hip and happy‐go‐lucky preacher, the one you want to share a bowl of açaí with at Backyard Bowls on Beverly Boulevard, who declines to publicly discuss politics in the Trump era because it’s hard to minister if no one wants to come to church. Jesus is supposed to be fun, right? ‘I want to be loud and dumb,’ Mr. Veach said with a wide, toothy grin. ‘That’s my goal. If we aren’t making people laugh, what are we doing? What is the point?’”
  4. Why Cloudflare Let An Extremist Stronghold Burn (Steven Johnson, Wired): “Literally, I woke up in a bad mood and decided someone shouldn’t be allowed on the internet. No one should have that power.” I shared one of the related articles back in issue 136, but didn’t realize it was the theme of the whole issue: The (Divisive, Corrosive, Democracy‐Poisoning) Golden Age of Free Speech. The other articles are worth checking out as well. Recommended by a friend.
  5. Terry Crews: How to Have, Do and Be All You Want (Tim Ferriss Podcast): this is a moving interview. Highly recommended. Worth mentioning: Terry Crews is public about his Christian faith on social media, although it does not come through in this interview. I mention that because he says some things about guilt and shame towards the end that are not quite right theologically, but are still worth thinking about.  
  6. God Made Me Black On Purpose (Tim Alberta, Politico): “A pillar of the area’s African‐American community, the shop features aging walls covered in photos, news clippings and other paraphernalia. Two individuals in particular are lionized: Barack Obama, the country’s first black president; and Scott, the first black senator from the South since Reconstruction—and the only African‐American ever to serve in both chambers of Congress. Both are children of single mothers, but politically, the pair have little in common: Obama, a liberal Democrat raised primarily by well‐off whites in Hawaii before adopting Chicago’s impoverished South Side as his political base; Scott, a conservative Republican who grew up poor in North Charleston, and whose initial ticket to D.C. was punched by affluent voters in the state’s three‐quarters‐white 1st Congressional District. Still, they are members of a small fraternity—two of just 10 African‐Americans ever to serve in the Senate—and both are an immeasurable source of pride for the barber shop and its customers.”
    • One detail from later in the article that stood out to me: Scott got saved in college at a Bible study. College ministry matters. Also, the way he became a Republican is actually really funny. Search the article for the phrase, “Scott knew immediately he would run; what he didn’t know was for which party.”
  7. How many hours does it take to make a friend? (Jeffrey Hall, Journal of Social and Personal Relationships):  “Taken together, results suggest that the chance of transitioning from casual friend to friend is greater than 50% after around 80–100 hr together. Results suggest that the chance of transitioning from friends to good/best friends is greater than 50% after 119 hr over 3 weeks and 219 hr over 3 months.” The author is a communications professor at the University of Kansas.

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 How Can I Learn To Receive – And Give – Criticism In Light Of The Cross?(Justin Taylor, Gospel Coalition): “A believer is one who identifies with all that God affirms and condemns in Christ’s crucifixion. In other words, in Christ’s cross I agree with God’s judgment of me; and in Christ’s cross I agree with God’s justification of me. Both have a radical impact on how we take and give criticism.” This is based on a longer article (4 page PDF). (first shared in volume 63)

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.

Disclaimer

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.

If this was forwarded to you and you want to receive future emails, sign up here. You can also view the archives.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 143

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. I’m a scholar of the “prosperity gospel.” It took cancer to show me I was in its grip. (Kate Bowler, Vox): “Every day I pray the same prayer: God, save me. Save me. Save me. Oh, God, remember my baby boy. Remember my son and my husband before you return me to ashes. Before they walk this earth alone. I plead with a God of Maybe, who may or may not let me collect more years. It is a God I love, and a God that breaks my heart.” The author is a professor at Duke Divinity School.
  2. Two intriguing articles on the transgender movement in America:
    • The Disappearance of Desire (Sohrab Ahmari, Commentary Magazine):  “Sexuality is a bodily experience. It stretches credulity to suggest that a trans person’s decision to alter his or her sexed body has nothing to do with what he or she wishes to do with that body—and whom he or she wishes to attract. Yet, as with gender itself, the trans activists treat sexual desire as an abstract and disembodied thing.”
    • Divorcing The Transgender Community (Gretchen Rachel Hammond, Tablet Magazine): the language in this one is uncouth. “It was then that I began to notice that those transgender people who started to speak out as an activist, journalist, celebrity, organizer, commentator or even via a social media post were coming under attack, not just from the usual crowd of Evangelical Conservative hysterics, but increasingly and unnervingly from their own community.”
  3. For the lawyers: Disagreement is Not Always Discrimination: On Masterpiece Cakeshop and the Analogy to Interracial Marriage (Ryan Anderson, Georgetown Journal of Law and Public Policy): “Colorado is part of a larger national trend in which authorities are using antidiscrimination statutes as swords to punish already marginalized people (such as supporters of the conjugal understanding of marriage), rather than as shields to protect people from unjust discrimination (such as African Americans in the wake of Jim Crow and today).… support for marriage as the union of husband and wife is essentially different from opposition to interracial marriage, and that the status of African Americans is importantly different from that of Americans who identify as gay. As a result, First Amendment protections for people who act on the belief that marriage unites husband and wife differ in critical ways from hypothesized First Amendment protections for racists—and the courts can distinguish the two cases…. protections for citizens who support the conjugal understanding of marriage bear much more similarity to protections for pro‐life citizens.”
  4. The Ignoble Lie (Patrick Deneen, First Things): “This helps explain the strange and often hysterical insistence upon equality emanating from our nation’s most elite and exclusive institutions. The most absurd recent instance was Harvard University’s official effort to eliminate social clubs due to their role in ‘enacting forms of privilege and exclusion at odds with our deepest values,’ in the words of its president. Harvard’s opposition to exclusion sits comfortably with its admissions rate of 5 percent (2,056 out of 40,000 applicants in 2017). The denial of privilege and exclusion seems to increase in proportion to an institution’s exclusivity.” The author is a professor of Constitutional Studies at Notre Dame.
  5. Sex, Lies, and Spies (Darrell Cole, Providence): “Once the case for employing a spy in the first place has been made, the question of how to spy comes into focus, and thus one of the major moral problems for spies is trying to make a case that lying and sex are just (combat) tactics…. We can make a clear and convincing case that the Christian tradition may support the idea that lies told for the public good are justifiable. When spies tell such lies in the line of duty, their deceptions fall into that category and, so, are justifiable. Can the same be said for sex in the line of duty? Can manipulative sex for the public good be justifiable?” A fascinating discussion of a question that had never crossed my mind. The author is an ethics professor at Drew University.
  6. The Last Temptation (Michael Gerson, The Atlantic): “In a remarkably free country, many evangelicals view their rights as fragile, their institutions as threatened, and their dignity as assailed. The single largest religious demographic in the United States—representing about half the Republican political coalition—sees itself as a besieged and disrespected minority. In this way, evangelicals have become simultaneously more engaged and more alienated…. It is true that insofar as Christian hospitals or colleges have their religious liberty threatened by hostile litigation or government agencies, they have every right to defend their institutional identities—to advocate for a principled pluralism. But this is different from evangelicals regarding themselves, hysterically and with self‐pity, as an oppressed minority that requires a strongman to rescue it. This is how Trump has invited evangelicals to view themselves.” The author worked in the Bush White House and describes himself as an evangelical.
    • In response: The True Sin of American Evangelicals in the Age of Trump (David French, National Review): “it matters exactly how Evangelicals arrived where they are today. It wasn’t the hysterical reaction of a self‐pitying people. For most it was the sad result of a series of tough choices — made in response to difficult and unreasonable challenges. Even today there are millions of Evangelicals — people who still count themselves reluctant Trump supporters — who are deeply uneasy with the president and the state of their own religious movement. It serves no one’s interests to minimize the legitimacy of their deep political concern.”
    • My take: Gerson’s essay is very good and French adds a needed perspective. Bonus quote from Gerson’s essay: “The banishment of fundamentalism from the cultural mainstream culminated dramatically in a Tennessee courthouse in 1925. William Jennings Bryan, the most prominent Christian politician of his time, was set against Clarence Darrow and the theory of evolution at the Scopes ‘monkey trial,’ in which a Tennessee educator was tried for teaching the theory in high school. Bryan won the case but not the country. The journalist and critic H. L. Mencken provided the account accepted by history, dismissing Bryan as ‘a tin pot pope in the Coca‐Cola belt and a brother to the forlorn pastors who belabor half‐wits in galvanized iron tabernacles behind the railroad yards.’ Fundamentalists became comic figures, subject to world‐class condescension. It has largely slipped the mind of history that Bryan was a peace activist as secretary of state under Woodrow Wilson and that his politics foreshadowed the New Deal. And Mencken was eventually revealed as a racist, an anti‐Semite, and a eugenics advocate.” Emphasis mine. I consider myself fairly well‐informed about American religious history and found the bolded details surprising.
  7. The real Down syndrome problem: Accepting genocide (George Will, Washington Post): “Iceland must be pleased that it is close to success in its program of genocide, but before congratulating that nation on its final solution to the Down syndrome problem, perhaps it might answer a question: What is this problem? To help understand why some people might ask this question, meet two children. One is Agusta, age 8, a citizen of Iceland. The other is Lucas, age 1, an American citizen in Dalton, Ga., who recently was selected to be 2018 ‘Spokesbaby’ for the Gerber baby food company. They are two examples of the problem. Now, before Iceland becomes snippy about the description of what it is doing, let us all try to think calmly about genocide, without getting judgmental about it. It is simply the deliberate, systematic attempt to erase a category of people. So, what one thinks about a genocide depends on what one thinks about the category involved. In Iceland’s case, the category is people with Down syndrome.”
    • Related: a Facebook post from one of our sophomores (shared with his permission): “My parents were told that I would be born with down syndrome and advised to abort me. In response my father pulled us out of the hospital’s mandatory counseling program, spent a lot of time in prayer, and decided emphatically that I would be born. I had no say in the matter, as I was too small to communicate or understand. I couldn’t cry or plead for my life. I couldn’t even look the people in the eyes who wanted to kill me. 20 years later, I have my God and my parents to thank for defending me, defending an unborn child wrongly accused of a crime that carried a death sentence: a defect. My parents had no idea exactly where God wanted to take me, but because of their defense, I’m here, down syndrome free, sitting in a classroom at Stanford University.” (source) By the way, he was was not only admitted to Stanford. He was admitted to every single Ivy League school.

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 Every Place Has Detractors. Consider Where They’re Coming From.(Megan McCardle, Bloomberg View): “There is grave danger in judging a neighborhood, or a culture, by the accounts of those who chose to leave it. Those people are least likely to appreciate the good things about where they came from, and the most likely to dwell on its less attractive qualities.” Bear this in mind when listening to conversion testimonies (both secular and religious). (first shared in volume 62)

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.

Disclaimer

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.

If this was forwarded to you and you want to receive future emails, sign up here. You can also view the archives.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 142

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. A Quiet Exodus: Why Black Worshipers Are Leaving White Evangelical Churches (Campbell Robertson, NY Times): As the headlines of the outside world turned to police shootings and protest, little changed inside majority‐white churches. Black congregants said that beyond the occasional vague prayer for healing a divided country, or a donation drive for law enforcement, they heard nothing. The dynamic described is real and one I have personally witnessed.  All in all a pretty good article although it has a few glaring blind spots, mostly because it focuses almost exclusively on those who chose to leave and doesn’t tell the story of those who chose to stay.
  2. And while we’re talking about race: “I Hope We Have No Crackers Here”: EBF Staff Sanction Racial Slur (Anna Mitchell & Philip Clark, Stanford Review): “You would think that residents of a supposedly progressive and racially conscious house would jump to remove a racial epithet from house property.”
  3. This is also relevant to the first article: In Donald Trump, Evangelicals Have Found Their President (David Brody, New York Times): “In fact, evangelicals take the long view on Mr. Trump; they afford him grace when he doesn’t deserve it. Few dispute that Mr. Trump may need a little more grace than others. But evangelicals truly do believe that all people are flawed, and yet Christ offers them grace. Shouldn’t they do the same for the president?”
  4. This Is How To Pay College Athletes (Patrick Hruby, Deadspin): “Because here’s the thing: nobody asks how’s it going to work when it comes to, say, paying dentists. Or investment bankers. Or programmers. Or professors. Or for that matter college coaches, athletic directors, and school presidents. There are no master compensation plans for those and hundreds of other lines of work because there’s no need for a plan. The very notion of coming up with a complicated, centralized set of rules dictating how much plumbers can earn and under what circumstances they can earn it would be un‐American…” 
  5. Was the apostle Paul married? Yes, he was. Here’s how we know. (Denny Burk, Personal Blog):  “It may be that Paul’s words have implications for all who are unmarried, but I think Paul’s reference to the unmarried refers to widowers specifically. There are a number of reasons for this. Not the least of which is the fact that the Greek word for ‘widower’ was rarely used in ancient Greek and was never used in the Koine period…. Paul uses the term ‘unmarried’ two other times in this chapter to refer to those who were previously married.” The author is a professor of Biblical studies.
  6. Leaving Blokesworld: Why You Can’t Have Your Porn and #MeToo (Meagan Tyler, Australian Broadcasting Company: Religion and Ethics): “In one of the few attempts to link #MeToo and porn culture, two Dutch filmmakers asked men to try and differentiate between women’s accounts of sexual assault and scripts from porn films. The comparison highlights the difficultly in discerning any difference…. So, for all the men who have been asking what they can do in light of #MeToo, here’s a place start: stop linking your sexual arousal to women’s sexual subordination. Stop watching porn.”
  7. The Center Left Is On Life Support (Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review): “As liberals backed away from the hard politics of material redistribution, they found themselves trying to redistribute the honorific resources of society. Instead of dramatically expanding day care, you could talk about single mothers as heroes.” The author is on the right and is diagnosing a problem he sees across the aisle. His comments about redistributing honorifics are insightful and remind me of Tyler Cowen’s observation that politics is often more about raising or lowering some group’s social status than actually solving pressing problems. 
  8. What’s an Inclusion Rider? Let the Professor Who Helped Invent the Concept Explain (Rebecca Keegan, Vanity Fair): Smith said that an inclusion rider is a provision added to actors’ contracts to ensure that casting on productions is more representative. ‘It stipulates that in small and supporting roles, characters should reflect the world we live in,’ she said. That includes 50 percent gender parity, 40 percent inclusion for people of color, 5 percent L.G.B.T.Q., and 20 percent disabled.” This is a clever maneuver. Unsurprisingly, there does not seem to be a provision for highlighting evangelical Christians according to our proportional representation in society. What if in every sitcom there was a Ned Flanders character?

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 Making Sense of the Numbers of Genesis [pdf link] (Carol Hill, Perspectives on Science and the Christian Faith): “Joseph and Joshua were each recorded as dying at age 110—a number considered ‘perfect’ by the Egyptians. In ancient Egyptian doctrine, the phrase ‘he died aged 110’ was actually an epitaph commemorating a life that had been lived selflessly and had resulted in outstanding social and moral benefit for others. And so for both Joseph and Joshua, who came out of the Egyptian culture, quoting this age was actually a tribute to their character. But, to be described as ‘dying at age 110’ bore no necessary relationship to the actual time of an individual’s life span.” You will not agree with everything in this article, but it is full of fascinating insights. (first shared in volume 51)

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.

Disclaimer

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.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 141

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. Plenty of the ‘Nones’ Actually Head Back to Church (Ryan Burge, Christianity Today): “For atheists, the defection rate is about 18 percent. Even more striking, about 48 percent of agnostics defected, as did 42 percent of those who described their faith as ‘nothing in particular.’ That’s a staggering amount of flux: About half of the agnostics in the US in 2010 were no longer agnostics by 2014.” There are many details not reflected in this quote — read the whole thing. The author is a professor of political science at Eastern Illinois University.
  2. Holy Ambivalence (Brad East, LA Review of Books): “The arc of history does not bend toward justice; it bent and cracked long ago under the weight of another Empire’s injustice, under Pontius Pilate; now it wends in unknown and sometimes wicked ways, under our own disordered direction. Faith confesses that it has been and will be righted, once for all, but we know not when or how the denouement will come; only that it will be beyond history.” This is a very thoughtful commentary about how Christians should think about the Western world.  The author is a theology professor at Abilene Christian University.
  3. The Syria Memory Hole Is Opening Up a Bigger Danger (Tyler Cowen, Bloomberg View): “Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes referred to the dog that didn’t bark as a telltale sign that something unusual was going on during a horse theft. The relative lack of attention being paid to the news that U.S.-backed forces killed 200 to 300 Russian mercenary soldiers this month in Syria seems like a non‐barking dog to me…. I have found that I know plenty of well‐educated people, with graduate degrees and living in and near Washington, who aren’t even aware this occurred. The story has fallen into a memory hole, in part because neither the Americans nor the Russians wish to escalate the conflict.”
  4. No, Fascism Can’t Happen Here (Tyler Cowen, Politico): “My argument is pretty simple: American fascism cannot happen anymore because the American government is so large and unwieldy. It is simply too hard for the fascists, or for that matter other radical groups, to seize control of.”
  5. Many things were written about the recently‐deceased Billy Graham  this week. Here are a few that caught my eye:
    • How Billy Graham Killed Communism with Kindness (David Aikman, Christianity Today): “But 19 years later, at least one major journalistic critic of that day had changed his tune. ‘Graham’s efforts contributed to the fall of communism, and in no small way,’ said Dan Rather in a 2001 interview. ‘He was right; I was wrong, big time.’”
    • What Is Billy Graham’s Friendship with Martin Luther King Jr. Worth? (Kate Shellnut, Christianity Today): “King is quoted as saying, ‘Had it not been for the ministry of my good friend Dr. Billy Graham, my work in the civil rights movement would not have been as successful as it has been.’”
    • Graham And The Jews: A Complex Connection (David Neff, Christianity Today): “When Syria and Egypt launched a surprise attack on Israel in October 1973, it soon became evident that Israel was under severe stress. The European powers refused to help. Richard Nixon hesitated to aid Israel for fear of escalating international tensions. But as the crisis grew graver, and Israel quietly threatened to use nuclear warheads, Nixon delivered weapons and supplies to stabilize Israel. Years later, Tanenbaum’s widow told The New York Times that it was only after Graham personally telephoned Nixon that the airlift began.”
    • The Wrong Spite Of History (Samuel James, Mere Orthodoxy): “Social media doesn’t usually shock me, but it got me this week. I was genuinely taken aback by the bile and viciousness I saw toward Billy Graham and his family from progressives, especially LGBT progressives. What I saw in dozens of tweets from accounts with shiny blue checkmarks was hatred of the simplest and most unembarrassed kind. It bothered me, not least because it threw me: This is Billy Graham we’re talking about. Not a politician, not a culture warrior. Is it even possible to be meeker and milder as a Christian than Billy Graham was, and still actually believe the gospel?”
  6. Expropriating land without compensation is impossible—take it from Zimbabwe (Johann Kirsten and Wandile Sihlobo, Quartz): “South Africa will now begin to reclaim land taken from black people near a century ago without payback to the current owners, dividing public sentiment along fears of a ‘land grab’ and cries for justice. On Feb. 27, lawmakers overwhelmingly voted in favor to amend the constitution to allow land expropriation without compensation…. If the South African government seizes private property for free, someone somewhere within the economy will have to pay.”  The authors are economists in South Africa. One is black and one is white.
  7. More on guns — the debate roils on with no sign of abating:
    • A ‘Deeply Libertarian’ Plan To Restrict Gun Sales (Stephen Carter, Bloomberg View): “The state establishes a ‘No Gun’ registry. Joining is entirely voluntary, but upon adding my name, I give up my right to purchase a firearm. Not forever. Not for some set period of time. The waiver is in effect only until I change my mind, which I am free to do whenever I like. Sound too easy? This is where the elegant part comes in. When I join, I can supply the email addresses for people who should be notified if I change my mind. If I decide later to drop my name from the registry, nobody can stop me, but there’s a three‐week cooling‐off period.” The author is a law professor at Yale.
    • What Critics Don’t Understand About Gun Culture (David French, The Atlantic): “Because of the threats against my family—and because I don’t want to be dependent on a sometimes shockingly incompetent government for my family’s security—I carry a weapon. My wife does as well. We’re not scared. We’re prepared, and that sense of preparation is contagious. Confidence is contagious. People want to be empowered. That’s how gun culture is built.”
    • Some Thoughts on School Shootings, Media, and the Consequences of Fear (Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution): “Contrary to common wisdom, mass shootings also occur in European countries. I suspect, however, that the Finnish media don’t cover German shootings as frequently as shootings in Florida are covered in Nebraska–as a result the larger the media‐market the greater the extent of availability bias. In other words, the larger the media market the greater the over‐estimation of rare but vivid events.”
    • Why Gun Laws May Finally Change: Kids Are Leading (Tyler Cowen, Bloomberg View): “Children are effective messengers because they are difficult to convincingly attack. It’s easier to forgive their excesses and their mistakes, and they are not constrained by having full‐time jobs. The very fact that children are doing something attracts news coverage.”
    • Why Did It Take Two Weeks To Discover Parkland Students’ Astroturfing? (David Hines, The Federalist): “On Twitter, I lost track of the number of bluechecks rhapsodizing over how effective the kids’ organizational instincts were. But organizing isn’t instinctive. It’s skilled work; you have to learn how to do it, and it takes really a lot of people. You don’t just get a few magical kids who’re amazing and naturally good at it.” This is an excellent article with a unfortunately off‐putting title. It’s about how real political advocacy happens.
    • Nation That Calls Trump ‘Hitler’ Demands He Take All Guns Away (Babylon Bee)
  8. Beauty and the Body of the Beholder: Raters’ BMI Has Only Limited Association with Ratings of Attractiveness of the Opposite Sex (many authors, Obesity: A Research Journal): “In summary, individual variations in ratings of physical attractiveness are large. There was little support for the idea of mutual attraction as a driver for assortative mating. Our data suggest that despite overall trends favoring leaner phenotypes of both sexes as most attractive, everyone is beautiful to somebody of the opposite sex.” (emphasis added)

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

  1. Christian Breakup Lines (John Crist, YouTube)
  2. Calvinist Dog Corrects Owner: ‘No One Is A Good Boy’ (Babylon Bee)
  3. Black Panther star boldly proclaims “I fell in love with Jesus” (Philip Kosloski, Aleteia): “One of the causes behind that success is breakout star Letitia Wright, who plays T’Challa’s little sister Shuri, a brainy technician who is one of the most likable characters of the movie. Interestingly, Wright almost never got the role, as she left acting completely to purse a relationship with God.”

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have The Weight of Glory (C.S. Lewis): It was originally preached as a sermon and then printed in a theology magazine. Related: see the C. S. Lewis Doodle YouTube channel – it’s really good! (first shared in volume 36)

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.

Disclaimer

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.