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
- The Lesson To Unlearn (Paul Graham, personal blog): “The most damaging thing you learned in school wasn’t something you learned in any specific class. It was learning to get good grades.” Stanford students: if you feel attacked, you are. He is aiming at you. Worth pondering.
- The Christians I Know (Eboo Patel, Inside Higher Ed): “Too often when I talk about the importance of positively engaging religious identity in a progressive higher ed space, the first question that gets asked is this: ‘Christians hate gays and refugees and poor people, so why should I create a space for their identities?’ That’s the same view of Christians that bigots have of Muslims: knowing only the bad stuff. My hope is that people will remember that Christians often start and run the programs that provide direct service to those very people when they are suffering the most.”
- British Evangelicals Brace for Brexit (Ken Chitwood, Christianity Today): “The generally pro-remain stance of British evangelicals might be surprising to some. However, political scientist Andrea Hatcher of the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, found British evangelicals are ‘less boundaried’ and generally ‘more internationalist in outlook’ than either their Anglican and Pentecostal peers or US evangelicals. They are also more willing to work across political divides.” I find this interesting for several reasons, one of which is the way the author separates Pentecostals from evangelicals. Is that a UK thing? In the USA Pentecostals are generally seen as a subset of evangelicals.
- Related: The Beginning of the End of the United Kingdom (First Things): “It may seem hysterical to proclaim the end to a country that has basically existed in its present form—minus the Republic of Ireland, of course—since 1707. But the evidence is building by the day. In thirty years, it is far more likely than not that the United Kingdom will not exist. What will exist is an England that will be poorer, fractured between the London elite and the rest of the country, and possibly subject to demographic factionalism.”
- Related: The Blundering Brilliance of Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Andrew Sullivan, New York Magazine): “It is this aspect of Boris’s politics that some of his close allies insist has been misunderstood. He has done what no other conservative leader in the West has done: He has co-opted and thereby neutered the far right. The reactionary Brexit Party has all but collapsed since Boris took over. Anti-immigration fervor has calmed. The Tories have also moved back to the economic and social center under Johnson’s leadership. And there is a strategy to this. What Cummings and Johnson believe is that the E.U., far from being an engine for liberal progress, has, through its overreach and hubris, actually become a major cause of the rise of the far right across the Continent. By forcing many very different countries into one increasingly powerful Eurocratic rubric, the E.U. has spawned a nationalist reaction.” This one is long but really good. If you enjoy it, I super highly recommend a very amusing article about Boris Johnson I shared back in volume 208 (scroll down to the funny section).
- Religion, Retention, and Why We Stay or Go (Ryan Burge, Christianity Today): “What to make of all this? First, evangelicals are doing a good job of keeping people inside the tent…. The other thing worth pondering is that almost no one is moving toward Catholicism or mainline Protestant Christianity. Instead, the movement is all at the edges of the spectrum — evangelicals on one end, and the nones on the other.” The author is a professor of political science at Eastern Illinois University and is himself an ex-evangelical.
- A guide to having an actually happy Christmas (Tim Harford, personal blog): “Mr Mutz found that Christians felt happier at Christmas, while others felt less happy. Similarly Messrs Kasser and Sheldon found that people who spent more time with their families or engaging in religious practices tended to have a better time of things. Consumerism fared less well, according to Messrs Kasser and Sheldon; for all the money and effort buying and wrapping gifts, the activity ‘apparently contributes little to holiday joy’.”
- 200 Researchers, 5 Hypotheses, No Consistent Answers (Christie Aschwanden, Wired): “When various research teams designed their own means of testing the very same set of research questions, they came up with divergent, and in some cases opposing, results. The crowdsourced study is a dramatic demonstration of an idea that’s been widely discussed in light of the reproducibility crisis—the notion that subjective decisions researchers make while designing their studies can have an enormous impact on their observed results. Whether through p‑hacking or via the choices they make as they wander the garden of forking paths, researchers may intentionally or inadvertently nudge their results toward a particular conclusion.” I don’t think this is surprising to anyone who knows many scientists, but it’s definitely interesting.
- Are We in the Midst of a Transgender Murder Epidemic? (Willfred Reilly, Quillette): “The Human Rights Campaign maintains a year-by-year database containing every known case of a transgender individual being killed by violent means, and gives this number as 29 in 2017, 26 in 2018, and 22 in 2019. Not only do these figures not reflect a year-by-year increase in attacks on trans persons—they are remarkably consistent, and may be trending slightly downwards—they also indicate that the trans murder rate is significantly lower than the murder rate for Americans overall.” Any number of murders is too many. Still, I found this interesting because I hear the contrary so often. In light of the previous article, if you know opposing research I’d like to see it. The author is a professor of political science at Kentucky State University.
Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen
- You will love or hate this. I love it. (Pearls Before Swine)
- Study Finds Connection Between Beard Length And Preaching Ability (Babylon Bee) — shared with me by a student.
Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago
Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have Reading The Whole Bible in 2016: A FAQ (Gospel Coalition, Justin Taylor): How much time each day would it take you to read the entire Bible in a year? “There are about 775,000 words in the Bible. Divided by 365, that’s 2,123 words a day. The average person reads 200 to 250 words per minute. So 2,123 words/day divided by 225 words/minute equals 9.4 minutes a day.” This article is full of good advice for what could be the best commitment you make all year. Do it! (first shared in volume 31 — useful for any year)
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.