Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 152

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. Love, Again: on a celibate breakup and what happened after. (Wesley Hill, Comment Magazine): “For a long time, I found abstinence relatively easy. It’s not trendy to admit this, but I didn’t experience a sexless adulthood to be a fate worse than death, in part, perhaps, because I tried not to rev up my libido by seeing how close I could get to the line of intercourse without stepping over it…. What I didn’t realize, though, is that, for the intentionally abstinent, giving up sex is only part of the deal, and there’s more than one line you can step across.”
  2. Let’s Not Forget How Wrong Our Crime Data Are (Cathy O’Neil, Bloomberg): “A year after Trump was elected, the number of reported rapes among the Latino population of Houston declined by 40 percent, a strong indication that people became afraid to report the crimes. Police often don’t take rape victims’ reports seriously, a problem that is probably even worse for male victims. So how can we get a better understanding of the underlying rate of crime? Surveys typically don’t help: People who get away with committing serious offenses aren’t likely to admit it, even if they’re guaranteed anonymity. The one notable exception is marijuana use, which — though still illegal in most places — is mild and socially acceptable enough that people are willing to tell the truth. Hence, if we compare the reported rate of marijuana use to the arrest data, we can gain some insight into how useful the latter really is. The picture isn’t pretty. The latest government surveys, for example, suggest that black and white Americans use marijuana at about the same rate. Yet blacks get arrested about four times more often than whites — and 15 times more often in Manhattan, according to a recent New York Times analysis.” The author has her Ph.D. in mathematics from Harvard University.
  3. This week the US moved our embassy in Israel to Jerusalem on the 70th anniversary of Israel’s modern instantiation. Violence ensued.
    • Israel faces outcry over Gaza killings during Jerusalem embassy protests (Oliver Holmes and Hazem Balousha, The Guardian): “Gaza has had its bloodiest day in years on Monday after Israeli forces shot and killed 58 Palestinians and wounded at least 1,200 as tens of thousands protested along the frontier against the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem.”
    • The Real Dispute Driving the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (Yossi Klein Halevi, The Atlantic): “Abbas’s speech only confirmed for many Israelis that this conflict isn’t primarily about redressing the Palestinian grievances over the consequences of the events of 1967—the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza—but of 1948: the creation of Israel. Even if we were to uproot every last settlement and withdraw to the 1967 lines, some Israelis say, it won’t bring us any closer to peace, because the real Palestinian grievance is Israel’s existence…. Israelis and Palestinians are caught in what could be called a “cycle of denial.” The Palestinian national movement denies Israel’s legitimacy, and Israel in turn denies the Palestinians’ national sovereignty. The cycle of denial has defined this shared existence since the creation of Israel 70 years ago.”
    • Pulling an article I first shared back in volume 5What The Media Gets Wrong About Israel (Matti Friedman, The Atlantic): “…one of the most important aspects of the media-saturated conflict between Jews and Arabs is also the least covered: the press itself. The Western press has become less an observer of this conflict than an actor in it, a role with consequences for the millions of people trying to comprehend current events, including policymakers who depend on journalistic accounts to understand a region where they consistently seek, and fail, to productively intervene.”
    • Israel’s Massacre of Palestinian Civilians Should Spark Horror—and Action (Ian S. Lustick, The Nation): “As documented by the Israeli military, there are now more Palestinians under the control of the Israeli state than there are Jews. Indeed, for all intents and purposes the Palestinians of Gaza and of the West Bank are already within the Jewish state. They are citizens of no other country, no other recognized state. As measured by how much impact the State of Israel has over the intimate details of their lives, and indeed over whether they will live at all, they are as much inhabitants of the State of Israel as black slaves were inhabitants of the United States or as Africans in the Bantustans were inhabitants of apartheid South Africa.” The author is a poli sci professor at Penn.
    • Israel Has the Right and Obligation to Defend Its Border with Deadly Force (David French, National Review): “What would you have Israel do when thousands of people march on the border, some armed, some not? What would you have Israel do when you know that terrorists are certainly mixed in that crowd, people who’d gladly shoot or stab Israeli civilians if they were ever to gain access to Israeli towns?”
  4. Basic Income, Not Basic Jobs: Against Hijacking Utopia (Scott Alexander, Slate Star Codex):  “I grudgingly forgive capitalism the misery it causes, because it’s the engine that lifts countries out of poverty. It’s a precondition for a free and prosperous society; attempts to overthrow it have so consistently led to poverty, tyranny, or genocide that we no longer believe its proponents’ earnest oaths that this time they’ve got it right. For right now, there’s no good alternative. But if we have a basic jobs guarantee, it will cause all the same misery, and I won’t forgive it.“ This is a long article — skim it. Overall a very strong argument.
  5. An atheist Muslim on what the left and right get wrong about Islam (Sean Illing, Vox): “I think the left has a blind spot when it comes to Islam and the right has a blind spot when it comes to Muslims.” This article is an interesting mix of insight and folly.
  6. Interesting observations from a political scientist (Corrinne McConaughy, Twitter): “How hard is it to reach into politics and say simultaneously that you are owed more and less than you have been given? Like, that’s a hard argument to make—so hard that the elites trying to explain this sort of tension keep whiffing past it.” She is a political scientist at George Washington University. I don’t know if she is a Christian, but the way she worded that bit was very gospelish.
  7. The Fall of The German Empire (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “And thinking about the European Union this way, as a Germanic empire as well as a liberal-cosmopolitan project, is a helpful way of understanding how it might ultimately fall…. if the test of Europe’s unity feels like a test for liberal democracy, it’s a mistake to see it only in those terms. It is also a struggle of nations against empire, of the Continent’s smaller countries against German mastery and Northern European interests, in which populist parties are being elected to resist policies the center sought to impose upon the periphery without a vote.”

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 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.” I was reminded of this by a conversation with an alumnus. 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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