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
- Emotions Make Terrible Gods (Greg Morse, Desiring God): “We live in an emoji world where self-expression and ‘being the true you’ hold highest priority — no one can tell us how to feel…. In all, the assumption stands: you are your emotions — for better or worse. To repress them is to repress yourself.”
- ‘I Was a TSA Agent, and You Fed Me’ (Kate Shellnut, Christianity Today): “But churches, as they join in prayer for a legislative solution, have also stepped up to support community members affected by the budgeting stalemate. Here are 10 places where Christians are reaching out to love their furloughed and unpaid neighbors…” This is an inspiring list. I am struck by both the geographic and the denominational diversity. The extent to which churches bless their communities is difficult to overstate.
- Is Big Tech Merging With Big Brother? Kinda Looks Like It (David Samuels, Wired): “A national or global surveillance network that uses beneficent algorithms to reshape human thoughts and actions in ways that elites believe to be just or beneficial to all mankind is hardly the road to a new Eden. It’s the road to a prison camp.”
- Death on demand: has euthanasia gone too far? (Christopher de Bellaigue, Guardian): “Altogether, well over a quarter of all deaths in 2017 in the Netherlands were induced.… suicide leaves scars on friends and family that may never heal. But suicide is an individual act, self-motivated and self-administered, and its force field is contained. Euthanasia, by contrast, is the product of society. When it goes wrong, it goes wrong for everyone.” In case you’re reading quickly, read that first sentence again. Over 25%!
- The Gay Church (Andrew Sullivan, New York Magazine): “A church that, since 2005, bans priests with ‘deep-seated homosexual tendencies’ and officially teaches that gay men are ‘objectively disordered’ and inherently disposed toward ‘intrinsic moral evil’ is actually composed, in ways very few other institutions are, of gay men.” I find his lack of engagement with Scripture and focus on church history striking and very Catholic.
- A lot of articles about the dustup at the March for Life. I find polarizing situations like this fascinating and frequently revealing.
- The Media Botched the Covington Catholic Story (Caitlin Flanagan, The Atlantic): “Among other things, journalistic ethics held that if you didn’t have the reporting to support a story, and if that story had the potential to hurt its subjects, and if those subjects were private citizens, and if they were moreover minors, you didn’t run the story. You kept reporting it; you let yourself get scooped; and you accepted that speed is not the highest value. Otherwise, you were the trash press.” This piece is brutal. If you only read one of the articles in this section, make it this one.
- For an example of a harsher perspective: Why do the Covington Catholic kids get the benefit of the doubt? (Laura Turner, Religion News Service): “There’s no virtue in rushing to get in a hot take! But neither is there in ignoring clear evidence of racism and cruelty. As new accounts and new videos of the incident emerged, more stayed the same than changed: Sandmann’s simpering expression remained, as did his immovable opposition to Phillips. (In his ‘Today’ show interview, Sandmann says he now wishes he ‘could’ve walked away and avoided the whole thing.’ The use of ‘could’ve’ is doing a lot of work there — he always could have chosen to walk away. He chose not to.)”
- The Covington Scissor (Ross Douthat, NY Times): “To understand what makes this incident so brilliant in its divisiveness, you need to see the tapestry in full, how each constituent element (abortion, race, MAGA, white boys, Catholicism, Native American ritual) automatically confirms priors on both sides of our divide. And you also need to see how the video itself, far from being a means to achieving consensus, is an amazing accelerant of controversy…” Douthat’s op-ed is inspired by the short story Sort By Controversial (Scott Alexander, Slate Star Codex). It’s an easy read and I recommend it.
- Another perspective less sympathetic to the boys: The real politics behind the Covington Catholic controversy, explained (Zack Beauchamp, Vox): “The argument here is not that it’s wrong to care about the Covington students per se. Rather, it’s a kind of disgust at the hypocrisy on display: Conservatives and the mainstream media don’t, in the left-liberal view, ever display the same levels of concern for minority kids accused of actual crimes. All the sympathy being extended to these kids, all the benefit of the doubt, reflects the ability of the privileged to command a level of sympathy that the less privileged lack.”
- Covington isn’t about facts, but about identity politics. Nick Sandmann committed ‘facecrime’ (Tucker Carlson, Fox News): “People’s views evolve over time. Political divisions can heal and often do. But fights over identity do not; they are different. Identity does not change. It can’t be moderated or controlled. It’s inherent. We’re born that way. When we go to war over who we are, it’s a permanent battle. It is a disaster that lasts for generations. Identity politics will destroy this country faster than a foreign invasion.”
- The Abyss of Hate Versus Hate (Andrew Sullivan, NY Magazine): “To put it bluntly: They were 16-year-olds subjected to verbal racist assault by grown men; and then the kids were accused of being bigots. It just beggars belief that the same liberals who fret about ‘micro-aggressions’ for 20-somethings were able to see 16-year-olds absorbing the worst racist garbage from religious bigots … and then express the desire to punch the kids in the face…. this is what will inevitably happen once you’ve redefined racism or sexism to mean prejudice plus power. ”
- US missionary who engaged with reclusive Brazilian tribe could be charged with genocide (Phoebe Loomes, NZ Herald): “Campbell has claimed that he made the expedition to the remote region at the request of the Jamamadi people, who he is in contact with, as they wanted to learn to use GPS navigators. During this expedition he encountered the isolated Hi-Merimã tribe. For this, Brazilian officials say Campbell could be charged with a slew of offences, including genocide.“
- Genocide seems much too strong a term for a situation in which no one is known to have died or even so much as sneezed. Maybe the word translated as genocide is broader in Portuguese?
- Helpful context: Brazil Investigates If US Missionary Encroached on Isolated Amazon Tribe (Kate Shellnut, Christianity Today): “Ribeiro shared concerns about indigenous people receiving assistance from groups appointed by the government, since they rarely stay in a community long enough to build relationships and learn the language. Meanwhile, she says field missionaries often bring high levels of technical training—from anthropology to nursing—while committing to serve for an extended amount of time.”
Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen
- More Unborn Babies In New York Identifying As Convicted Criminals So They Can’t Legally Be Executed (Babylon Bee): ouch.
- Snopes Introduces New ‘Factually Inaccurate But Morally Right’ Fact Check Result (Babylon Bee): actually, though
- Press That Sicced Mob On Teenagers Based On 10-Second Video Clip Unsure Why Some People Call Them ‘Fake News’ (Babylon Bee)
- God on Sleep (Pearls Before Swine)
- College Is One Big Mistake (Pearls Before Swine)
- Bob Mortimer, The Cockroach King (Would I Lie To You?, YouTube)
- Baby Spice and Excrements (Would I Lie To You?, YouTube)
- Diane Morgan’s Teeth (Would I Lie To You?, YouTube)
- Having a Ph.D. (Dilbert)
Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago
Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have This Is What Makes Republicans and Democrats So Different (Vox, Ezra Klein): the title made me skeptical, but there are some good insights in this article (first shared in volume 32 back in 2016).
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.