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
- So I was mostly ignoring the Kavanaugh nomination, but this week things turned way up. Wow. Here are the articles that have helped to shape my thinking.
- What Would a Serious Investigation of Brett Kavanaugh Look Like? (Jeannie Suk Gerson, New Yorker): “…Kavanaugh does not stand to lose something that he already has. He is petitioning the public for the privilege of holding one of the highest public offices in the country, and he should have to persuade us that he didn’t do what he is accused of doing. ”
- The Kavanaugh Debacle (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “I am glad that Ford will have a chance to speak her mind, and that Kavanaugh will have the opportunity to defend himself. But I think this will only make things worse for all of us. If Kavanaugh gets a Senate vote, and prevails, he will forever be tainted as a Supreme Court justice. If he is forced to withdraw (that is, without further evidence against him emerging), or is voted down, he will become a martyr to many, and will, as the Wall Street Journal editorial page said, legitimize ‘weaponizing every sexual assault allegation no matter the evidence.’”
- I Believe Her (Caitlin Flanagan, The Atlantic): “I have been entirely agnostic about Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination. Republican presidents nominate conservative judges, and Democratic presidents nominate liberal judges. This guy sounded like he was entirely qualified for the job. When Dianne Feinstein made her announcement about the super‐secret mystery letter by the anonymous woman that she had sent to the FBI, I thought it was a Hail Mary pass aimed at scotching the nomination, the kind of distasteful tactic that makes people hate politics.”
- In Evaluating Credibility, the Signs Point in Brett Kavanaugh’s Favor (Dan McLaughlin, National Review): “It’s always a good idea, in politics, to evaluate accusations against your friends as if they were made against your enemies, and to evaluate accusations against your enemies as if they were made against your friends.” This is a very thorough argument.
- The Unlikely Endurance of Christian Rock (Kelefah Sanneh, The New Yorker): “On Billboard’s list of the twenty most popular rock songs of 2017, fully half of them were by bands whose members have espoused the Christian faith.” A striking claim, but you have to count Mormons as Christians for the math to work. A fascinating and well‐researched article nonetheless.
- The Tiny Blond Bible Teacher Taking on the Evangelical Political Machine (Emma Green, The Atlantic): “Whereas her criticisms of church leaders were once veiled, she now speaks her mind freely. She blogged icily about meeting a prominent male theologian who looked her up and down and told her she was prettier than another famous female Bible teacher. She has castigated the evangelical movement for selling its soul to buy political wins. “
- Good article, but see also this analysis piece for context: Is Beth Moore really taking on the ‘evangelical political machine,’ whatever that is? (Julia Duin, GetReligion): “As is often the case, the headline is a overly alarmist and zooms past the actual facts reported in the article.… I’m unconvinced that Moore is taking on any monolithic machine, much less some kind of evangelical Deep State apparatus.”
- The Other Political Correctness (Isaac Stone Fish, The New Republic): “There is an epidemic of self‐censorship at U.S. universities on the subject of China, one that limits debate and funnels students and academics away from topics likely to offend the Chinese Communist Party.”
- From someone not worried about offending China: The People’s Republic of Cruelty (Bret Stephens, New York Times): “In the list of what ails China — slowing growth; corrupt officialdom; a declining birth rate; a trade war with the U.S.; Xi Jinping’s cult of personality; the inherent disconnect between a politics of repression and the spirit of innovation — the regime’s war on the soul doesn’t usually rank high. But it matters most. It means the regime has made an enemy of the one thing it cannot kill, capture, eradicate or cure. At some point it will either have to abandon the struggle or destroy itself in the effort, much as the Soviet Union did.”
- So a Chicago priest who was once abused burns a rainbow‐cross flag: All heck breaks out (Terry Mattingly, GetReligion): the title is clickbaity, but the article delivers. “Well, here is a hot‐button story if I’ve ever seen one.”
- The Liberalism of the Religious Right (Emily Ekins, New York Times): “Religion appears to actually be moderating conservative attitudes, particularly on some of the most polarizing issues of our time: race, immigration and identity. Churchgoing Trump voters have more favorable feelings toward African‐Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Jews, Muslims and immigrants compared with nonreligious Trump voters. This holds up even while accounting for demographic factors like education and race.“ Recommended by an alumnus.
- What Do We Owe Her Now? (Elizabeth Bruenig, Washington Post): “‘The examination that I did was consistent with what [Wyatt] said,’ [Nurse] Schiavo told me when I contacted her this May to discuss her finding. ‘That girl was raped.’ As I read her exam notes aloud to her over the phone, Schiavo began to fill in details on her own. She remembered Wyatt’s case all these years later, right down to the fact that she was never called to court to testify about it.” This is a depressing story, well‐researched.
- The follow‐up is more encouraging: Amber Wyatt told her story of rape. This is how the world responded. (Elizabeth Bruenig, Washington Post): “The day after her 29th birthday, which was also the day after her story first appeared online, Amber Wyatt, now Wilson, stood in the shower in her San Marcos home and sobbed — hard, wrenching, wrung‐out tears. They had been a long time in coming.”
Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen
- Celebrity Pastor Fantasy Draft (John Crist, YouTube)
- Superman Wants To Learn Martial Arts (Texts From Superheroes)
- How To Be Successful (Pearls Before Swine)
Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago
Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have On Political Correctness (William Deresiewicz, The American Scholar): a long and thoughtful article. “Selective private colleges have become religious schools. The religion in question is not Methodism or Catholicism but an extreme version of the belief system of the liberal elite: the liberal professional, managerial, and creative classes, which provide a large majority of students enrolled at such places and an even larger majority of faculty and administrators who work at them. To attend those institutions is to be socialized, and not infrequently, indoctrinated into that religion…. I say this, by the way, as an atheist, a democratic socialist, a native northeasterner, a person who believes that colleges should not have sports teams in the first place—and in case it isn’t obvious by now, a card‐carrying member of the liberal elite.” (first shared in volume 92)
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 necessarily those of Chi Alpha or any other organization I may be perceived to 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.