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.


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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