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.
FYI: there’s an excellent chance I won’t be sending my Friday roundup next week.
Things Glen Found Interesting
- Christ in the Camps (Caitlin Flanagan, The Atlantic): “I humbly reach out to the only faction of Americans I know of who have the ear of the administration and who care about children: my brothers and sisters in Christ who attend evangelical churches. It seems clear that we are in the midst of a profound humanitarian crisis and that children are being forced to suffer in terrible ways. Maybe it was never supposed to be this way; maybe the system just got overwhelmed. But this is a disaster.” Searing. Recommended by an alumnus.
- The horrifying conditions facing kids in border detention, explained (Dara Lind, Vox): “It is apparent that even an administration acting with the best interests of children in mind at every turn would be scrambling right now. But policymakers are split on how much of the current crisis is simply a resource problem — one Congress could help by sending more resources — and how much is deliberate mistreatment or neglect from an administration that doesn’t deserve any more money or trust.
- Why a Government Lawyer Argued Against Giving Immigrant Kids Toothbrushes (Ken White, The Atlantic): “This administration is merely the latest one to subject immigrant children to abusive conditions. It’s been 35 years since Jenny Flores was strip‐searched in an adult facility. Before Sarah Fabian defended concrete floors and bright lights for President Donald Trump, she defended putting kids in solitary confinement for President Barack Obama. The fault lies not with any one administration or politician, but with the culture: the ICE and CBP culture that encourages the abuse, the culture of the legal apologists who defend it, and our culture—a largely indifferent America that hasn’t done a damn thing about it.”
- Indirectly related: I’m a Journalist but I Didn’t Fully Realize the Terrible Power of U.S. Border Officials Until They Violated My Rights and Privacy (Seth Harp, The Intercept): “As I was walking out, I said to Moncivias and Villarreal, ‘It’s funny, of all the countries I’ve been to, the border guards have never treated me worse than here, in the one country I’m a citizen of, in the town where I was born.’” This is unsettling.
- People Who Pay People to Kill People (Rene Chun, The Atlantic): “The authors determined that 2 percent of all murders in Australia were contract killings and that contracts were, in some cases, surprisingly affordable. One unfulfilled contract was for 500 Australian dollars; another job was completed for just $2,000.” This is wild to me because those are close to the amounts that a minister might get paid for preaching at a retreat or officiating a wedding. Who knew assassins and ministers had similar pay scales? Recommended by a student.
- Some LGBT links (largely occasioned by Pride Month).
- A Match Made In Heaven (Nathaniel Frank, Washington Post): “What may seem like a straightforward chance to celebrate progress actually masks a fault line that has divided our movement since its start: whether our goal is equality or liberation, a fight for the right to be treated like everyone else or the freedom to be authentically ourselves. Do we seek belonging in the world as it is (including the military, marriage and parenting) or the chance to transform the world, by throwing off repressive norms, into a place where all of us — queer and non‐queer alike — can be more free?”
- Response: Stonewall’s ‘Gift’ (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “To an old‐school Cassandra like me — one of the Cassandras who was mocked in the 2000s as a paranoid — this entire column reads like an I told you so, and a vindication of the Law of Merited Impossibility (‘It will never happen, and when it does, you bigots will deserve it’). Not that it does a bit of good now.”
- Rugby Australia’s “Own Goal” (Peter Singer, Project Syndicate): “Rugby Australia would have a stronger basis for its decision if Folau’s post had expressed hatred toward homosexuals and could have been interpreted as an incitement to violence against them. But the post no more expresses hatred toward homosexuals than cigarette warnings express hatred toward smokers.” Yes, this is the famous philosopher Peter Singer. I rarely agree with him, but in this case I strongly do.
- The Religious Roots of Pride (Brett Krutzsch, The Advocate): “What most Americans do not know when they gaze on the parade’s nearly‐naked dancers, ‘dykes on bikes,’ and transgender teenagers is that Pride parades exist because of a devout Pentecostal minister.” The author is a professor of religion at Haverford College. One quibble: describing Troy Perry as a “devout Pentecostal” is not accurate. He said, “ I knew that I was not starting another Pentecostal church. I was starting a church that would be truly ecumenical.” (source: the history of the Metropolitan Community Churches). It would be fair to say “ex‐Pentecostal minister Troy Perry”, though. His background was news to me.
- The Christian Case for Marijuana (Jonathan Merritt, New York Times): “America is sick, and the Christian call to compassion obligates the faithful to act. Chronic pain and illness now affect tens of millions of Americans, and in many cases the cause eludes the brightest medical minds. To fight these ailments, Americans have been prescribed mind‐altering anti‐depressants, highly addictive pain relievers and opioids, and all manner of legal substances with a list of side effects so long that drug commercials feel like ‘Saturday Night Live’ shorts.”
- The Perception Gap: How False Impressions are Pulling Americans Apart (Sean Stevens, Heterodox Academy): Democrats and Republicans significantly overestimate how many people on the ‘other side’ hold extreme views. Typically, their estimates are roughly double the actual numbers for a given issue…. Education seems to increase, rather than mitigate, the Perception Gap (just as increased education has found to track with increased ideological prejudice). College education results in an especially distorted view of Republicans among liberals in particular.” The original research is at https://perceptiongap.us/ (recommended by a student)
Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen
- Need a new one‐piece swimsuit? (BoingBoing)
- Absent‐Minded (SMBC)
- Eden (Pearls Before Swine)
- Root Sins (SMBC) — bad theology but amusing. I like the meta‐data concept.
- Obituaries for the Recently Canceled (Sarah Lazarus, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency): I find this sadly amusing rather than uproariously funny.
- Heisenbergian Relationships (from the New Yorker)
- Danny Cole (Penn & Teller Fool Us, YouTube): seven minutes
- Penn & Teller Show Off a Lying, Cheating, Swindling Card Trick (The Tonight Show, YouTube): five minutes
- Rebecca Herrera (Penn & Teller Fool Us, YouTube): eight minutes
- Javi Benitez (Penn & Teller Fool Us, YouTube): ten minutes
Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago
Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have The Problem with Dull Knives: What’s the Defense Department got to do with Code for America? (Jennifer Pahlka, Medium): “I have a distinct memory of being a kid in the kitchen with my mom, awkwardly and probably dangerously wielding a knife, trying to cut some tough vegetable, and defending my actions by saying the knife was dull anyway. My mom stopped me and said firmly, ‘Jenny, a dull knife is much more dangerous than a sharp knife. You’re struggling and using much more force than you should, and that knife is going to end up God Knows Where.’ She was right, of course…. But having poor tools [for the military] doesn’t make us fight less; it makes us fight badly.” (some emphasis in the original removed). Highly recommended. First shared in volume 155.
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. If this was forwarded to you and you want to receive future emails, sign up here. You can also view the archives.