Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 167

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. The Catholic Church is facing a tremendous crisis, one potentially far bigger than any I have seen in my lifetime. There’s been a lot of ink spilled about it. Here are some pieces I found illuminating.
    • Protestants Should Care Deeply about the Catholic Catastrophe (David French, National Review): “The Church is like a navy, a collection of ships united in purpose and in destination. Each denomination is like a different ship in that navy, and while each crew is primarily tasked with the health and well-being of its own vessel, it’s also deeply invested in the strength of the fleet. Each vessel is more vulnerable as the fleet weakens. Each vessel is stronger surrounded by its protective armada. If the analogy holds, then one of the mightiest battleships in the fleet, the Catholic Church, is taking torpedoes left and right.”
    • A Catholic Civil War? (Matthew Schmitz, New York Times): “…the Catholic Church has been plunged into all-out civil war. On one side are the traditionalists, who insist that abuse can be prevented only by tighter adherence to church doctrine. On the other side are the liberals, who demand that the church cease condemning homosexual acts and allow gay priests to step out of the closet.” This may sound like hyperbole, but I believe it is accurate.
    • Catholics Face A Painful Question: Is It True? (Elizabeth Bruenig, Washington Post): “In his statements on Viganò’s testimony last Sunday, Francis invited journalists to use their skills and capacities to draw conclusions about the matter. And so, on Monday morning, I began to try.” This is sad. It seems the only person doing actual journalism on this for a major newspaper is… an opinion columnist. It stinks to high heaven that the major papers aren’t ferociously pursuing this.
    • What Did Pope Francis Know? (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “this doesn’t mean that the pope should resign — not even if Viganò is fully vindicated. One papal resignation per millennium is more than enough. That cop-out should not be easily available to pontiffs confronted with scandals, including scandals of their own making, any more than it should be available to fathers.”
    • Answering Vigano’s Critics (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “Again: if the allegations are false, you say, ‘They’re false.’ But that’s not what the Pope said. At all. If the Pope thinks he can ignore Vigano as he has ignored the dubia cardinals, he is gravely mistaken.”
    • Story of bombshell charges against Pope more surreal by the minute (John L. Allen, Jr., Crux): “If there’s one thing anyone who’s covered the Vatican for a long time ought to have learned by now, it’s never to say a particular story just can’t get anymore surreal, because trust me — it always can.”
  2. The School Shootings That Weren’t (Anya Kamenetz, Alexis Arnold, and Emily Cardinali, NPR): Difficult to excerpt the key data, so here’s the summary: schools reported 240 shootings in the 2015–2016 school year, but NPR followed up and was only able to verify 11. How did this happen? “the law of really, really big numbers. Temkin notes that ‘240 schools is less than half of 1 percent,’ of the schools in the survey. ‘It’s in the margin of error.’ ”
  3. There was a revealing kerfluffle at Brown University.
    • Rapid-onset gender dysphoria in adolescents and young adults: A study of parental reports (Lisa Littman, PLOS ONE): “The elevated number of friends per friendship group who became transgender-identified, the pattern of cluster outbreaks of transgender-identification in these friendship groups, the substantial percentage of friendship groups where the majority of the members became transgender-identified, and the peer group dynamics observed all serve to support the plausibility of social and peer contagion for ROGD [Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria]. The worsening of mental well-being and parent-child relationships and behaviors that isolate teens from their parents, families, non-transgender friends and mainstream sources of information are particularly concerning. More research is needed to better understand rapid-onset gender dysphoria, its implications, and scope.” The research paper in question.
    • Journal Looking Into Study on ‘Rapid-Onset Gender Dysphoria’ (Colleen Flaherty, Inside Higher Ed): “Brown University and PLOS ONE have distanced themselves from a controversial, peer-reviewed published study on ‘rapid-onset gender dysphoria,’ or gender identity issues that present not early and over a lifetime but quickly, in teenagers and young adults.” This is the neutral take.
    • New paper ignites storm over whether teens experience ‘rapid onset’ of transgender identity (Meredith Wadman, Science): “The actions by the journal and the university have infuriated some researchers who say the moves trample academic freedom, although the paper remains freely available. ‘This is a sad day for @BrownUniversity, and an indictment of the integrity of their academic and administrative leadership,’ Jeffrey Flier, a former dean of Harvard Medical School in Boston and a professor of medicine there, tweeted on Monday.” This is a slightly more feisty take.
    • Ryan T. Anderson on Twitter: “If this is the sort of censorship that takes place out in the open, just image what’s taking place behind closed doors. All because this research reached politically incorrect conclusion. But when lives are at stake, it’s more important to be correct than politically correct.” A feisty and I suspect very accurate take.
  4. The French, Coming Apart (Christopher Caldwell, City Journal): “Since Tocqueville, we have understood that our democratic societies are emulative. Nobody wants to be thought a bigot if the membership board of the country club takes pride in its multiculturalism. But as the prospect of rising in the world is hampered or extinguished, the inducements to ideological conformism weaken. Dissent appears. Political correctness grows more draconian. Finally the ruling class reaches a dangerous stage, in which it begins to lose not only its legitimacy but also a sense of what its legitimacy rested on in the first place.” This is a fascinating article that’s sort of about France, sort of about America, and mostly about Western modernity.
  5. China Is Treating Islam Like A Mental Illness (Sigal Samuel, The Atlantic): “The medical analogy is one way the government tries to justify its policy of large-scale internment: After all, attempting to inoculate a whole population against, say, the flu, requires giving flu shots not just to the already-afflicted few, but to a critical mass of people. In fact, using this rhetoric, China has tried to defend a system of arrest quotas for Uighurs. Police officers confirmed to Radio Free Asia that they are under orders to meet specific population targets when rounding up people for internment. In one township, police officials said they were being ordered to send 40 percent of the local population to the camps.” I’ve mentioned this before, but it truly is one of the scandals of the modern world.
  6. With Flowers In Their Hair (Andrew Ferguson, The Weekly Standard): “The seeds of the destruction of the Haight experiment could be found in its own antinomianism, in its original inspiration. Maybe the wholesale rejection of time-honored and time-tested values — monogamy, moderation, good manners, self-denial, self-control, the sanctity of private property, personal accountability to higher authorities, both material and spiritual — leads to squalor and misery. Maybe the project they’re celebrating in San Francisco this summer was doomed from the start.” Long and good.
  7. America Soured on My Multiracial Family (David French, The Atlantic): “There are three fundamental, complicating truths about adoption. First, every single adoption begins with profound loss. Through death, abandonment, or even loving surrender, a child suffers the loss of his or her mother and father. Second, the demographics of those in need of loving homes do not precisely match the demographics of those seeking a new child. Adoptive parents are disproportionately white. Adopted children are not. Thus, multiracial families are a natural and inevitable consequence of the adoption process. Third, American culture has long been obsessed with questions of race and identity.”

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 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.


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). And to the extent you can discern my opinions, please understand that they are my own and not those of any organization I work for or represent.

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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