Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 158

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.

Before I share this week’s links: yes, I am aware that Anthony Kennedy retired from the Supreme Court and think it is likely to be one of the most significant political developments of my lifetime. I don’t have any links about it because not much interesting has been written about it yet simply because Trump has not nominated a successor yet. Once he does, please let me know if you find anything fascinating about either his nominee or the process.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Suspect in Stanford church murder kills self (Palo Alto Daily News): this is a tragic and freaky story. A less horrific detail which amused me: “Crawford stayed on at Stanford until 1976, but he found ways to exact revenge against the university, Herhold said. ‘He began stealing stuff from offices,’ said Herhold, who added examples, including a human skull, a walking cane given to university founder Leland Stanford and rare books. ‘The kicker was he went down to a print shop and got a degree from Stanford,’ he said, using a blank Stanford diploma.”
  2. Ebola Deaths Rise As Patients Turn to Miracles Over Medicine (Griffin Paul Jackson, Christianity Today): “Two Ebola patients died last month after fleeing a hospital isolation ward so they could be taken to a prayer meeting, where they exposed up to 50 others.” Wow. Bad theology leads to tragedy. Somebody never taught them Leviticus 13:46. If you’re infectious, pay attention to the phrase “call for” in James 5:14–16 and ask the elders to come to you. Quarantine Laws and the Bible (Larry Ball, The Aquila Report) is worth reading in this regard.
  3. The Spanish Inquisition Was a Moderate Court by the Standard of Its Time (Ed Condon, National Review): “Because it was a serious court, meticulous case files and court records were kept. Libraries in Toledo, Salamanca, and other cities are home to thousands of such case files. In the second half of the 20th century, Henry Kamen and other historians were given access to them. What they discovered changed the scholarly understanding of the Inquisition. So, what of those dank dungeons and hot pokers? Well, for a start, the jails of the Inquisition were universally known to be hygienic and well maintained. They were neither built nor run as places of punishment. The standard of care that inmates received was high enough that prisoners held by the Crown would often petition to be moved to Inquisition jails. There are recorded cases of criminals committing public heresy with the express purpose of being held and tried by the Inquisition, rather than the secular courts.” This is not a fringe view among scholars, but is definitely contrary to the popular understanding of the Spanish Inquisition.
  4. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on her Catholic faith and the urgency of a criminal justice reform (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, America): “By nature, a society that forgives and rehabilitates its people is a society that forgives and transforms itself. That takes a radical kind of love, a secret of which is given in the Lord’s Prayer: Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And let us not forget the guiding principle of “the least among us” found in Matthew: that we are compelled to care for the hungry, thirsty, homeless, naked, sick and, yes—the imprisoned.” This, of course, is the socialist candidate who unseated powerful incumbent Joe Crowley in the Democratic primary. She is almost certain to become the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.
    • Related: Democratic Socialists of America Membership Surges After Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Stunning Victory (Gideon Resnick, The Daily Beast): “According to Lawrence Dreyfuss, a program associate for DSA, the organization saw a surge of 1,152 new memberships on Wednesday—about 35 times more sign-ups than on an average day. The last major membership bump DSA experienced was in the month following President Trump’s election, during which time they had about six times more sign-ups than in the previous month.” Note that the organization itself is still relatively small (40,000 members).
    • Possibly related: Democrats are losing the millennial vote and need to change message (Cas Mudde, The Guardian): “a recent Reuters/Ipsos mega poll of 16,000 respondents, found that the Democrats are losing ground with millennials. While millennials still prefer the Democratic party over the Republicans, that support is tanking. In just two years, it dropped sharply from 55% to 46%. Meanwhile, their support for Republicans has remained roughly stable in the past two years, falling from 28% to 27%.… their dislike of the Republicans should not be interpreted as a like of Democrats.” Caveats apply: this is based on the results of one poll.
    • Definitely related: Dear Democratic Socialists Who Think You’re Having a Moment: It’s Me, a Libertarian, Who’s Been Through This. (Robby Soave, Reason): “Democratic socialism, the ideology with which Ocasio-Cortez identifies, appears to be having a political moment. To which I say, as a libertarian who has been through the whole an-idea-whose-time-has-finally-come experience: good luck with that, comrades. The signs are easy to misread.”
  5. Right-to-work laws make unions work harder for their members (Christos Makridis, The Hill): “RTW [Right To Work] laws force unions to become more competitive. When unions are guaranteed a permanent income stream, they don’t need to work as hard to win the hearts and minds of their employees; that is, they face weaker incentives to provide valuable services. The adoption of RTW laws changes that by making union dues a voluntary contribution.” Yes, this is our very own recently-graduated Christos.
  6. Are Satanists of the MS-13 gang an under-covered story on the religion beat? (Julia Duin, GetReligion): this is a fascinating bit of news commentary. My favorite bit: “How does one get out of MS-13? An opinion piece in the New York Times this past April gives a surprising response: Go to a Pentecostal church.” Highly recommended.
  7. How The Democrats Lost Their Way On Immigration (Peter Beinert, The Atlantic): “Liberals must take seriously Americans’ yearning for social cohesion. To promote both mass immigration and greater economic redistribution, they must convince more native-born white Americans that immigrants will not weaken the bonds of national identity. This means dusting off a concept many on the left currently hate: assimilation.” Recommended by a student.

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)

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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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