Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 267

some apologetically-interesting links near the top — recommended!

On Fridays I share articles/resources about broad cultural, societal and theological issues.

We have some new members on our mailing list — welcome! I’d like to direct you to the disclaimers at the end of this email — they really do matter and I really do mean them.

I welcome your suggestions. If you read something fascinating please pass it my way!

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Unconscious Learning Underlies Belief in God – Stronger Beliefs in People Who Can Unconsciously Predict Complex Patterns (Sci Tech Daily): “Individuals who can unconsciously predict complex patterns, an ability called implicit pattern learning, are likely to hold stronger beliefs that there is a god who creates patterns of events in the universe, according to neuroscientists at Georgetown University.” Shocker: people who see reality clearly are more likely to perceive God’s hand at work in reality. 
  2. Redeeming Condos, Presbyterians Buy NYC Building for $30 Million (Kathryn Watson, Christianity Today): “In a study of 22 US cites—including Grand Rapids, Detroit, Minneapolis, San Francisco, and Seattle—Hartson and Williams looked at mailing list data to identify addresses that were labeled as churches in 2003 but not in 2018. They identified approximately 200 church buildings that had been flipped for commercial or residential use. In the same cities, in the same 15 years, they found about 2,000 commercial spaces that had been turned into houses of worship. While there are many sacred spaces becoming secular, it seems more are converting the other way.” 👀 — I did not know this and am very encouraged by it. 
  3. On politics:
    • No Longer Human (George Yancey, Patheos): “In one way it really does not matter if Trump or Biden wins the presidency. Either way you will have a substantial percentage of individuals who will feel displaced. They will be tempted to create an us versus them mentality in which they can envision the election victors as enemies of the state who must be defeated at all costs. ” The author is a sociologist at Baylor. 
    • Related — two articles highlighting how the right is afraid of the left in America:
      1. Ideology Binds And Blinds (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “As I see it, the ‘major threat of the far left’ to us on the right — the major threat, not the only threat — is that in power, they will go pedal to the medal on a soft totalitarian ‘social justice’ regime that would punish dissenters by costing them their livelihoods, and ruining their churches and other institutions.”
      2. On Not Accepting Stolen Elections (Douglas Wilson, personal blog): “Don’t take your eye off the ball. Who is going to be rioting in late November after the election? Well, who’s rioting now? This is not a trick question.”
    • And it’s not just one-sided. Here are two articles highlighting how the left is afraid of the right in America:
      1. The Left Secretly Preps for MAGA Violence After Election Day (Sam Stein, The Daily Beast): “‘I don’t know what the strategy is when armed right-wing militia dudes show up in polling places,’ the same source said. ‘This [Kyle] Rittenhouse guy is being lionized on the right, right now. If it is being unleashed that you can shoot people and be a hero, I don’t know what preparation we can possibly do for that.’”
      2. We Don’t Know How to Warn You Any Harder. America is Dying. (umair haque, Medium): “There is a crucial lesson there. America already has an ISIS, a Taliban, an SS waiting to be born.A group of young men willing to do violence at the drop of a hat, because they’ve been brainwashed into hating. The demagogue has blamed hated minorities and advocates of democracy and peace for those young men’s stunted life chances, and they believe him. That’s exactly what an ISIS is, what a Taliban is, what an SS is. The only thing left to do by an authoritarian is to formalize it.”
  4. Democratic Change Still Works (Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic): “…look at the mountain of evidence that change through the civic process is not only possible, but a recurring reality, and that it began long before Floyd’s death.” I believe much of our current cultural conflict can be understood in terms of the Tocqueville Paradox, which I have also heard referred to as “The Paradox of Rising Expectations.”
  5. On racism:
    • Princeton’s President Is Wrong. The University Is Not Systemically Racist (Sergiu Klainerman, Newsweek): “Unable to identify specific cases of racism, these warriors for social injustice are advancing their agenda by claiming instead that all American institutions, including Princeton, are structurally and systemically racist (‘SSR’). That is to say, that they are racist even as they manifestly do everything imaginable to promote under-represented groups. Princeton, for example, has had for years an extraordinarily large number of administrators (by some counts, over 65) dedicated to promoting diversity and inclusion.” The author is a professor of mathematics at Princeton.
    • Scholastics contra racism (Ed Feser, personal blog): “The falsity and evil of racism, and thus of those institutions, clearly follows from standard Scholastic [theological] thinking about human nature and natural law.”
    • Book Review: How to be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi(Bill Melone, Mere Orthodoxy): “But recent criticism of social justice advocacy and the Black Lives Matter movement has failed to criticize the best of antiracist thinking, and is much the lesser for it. This is particularly true when that criticism does not engage seriously with the work of Ibram X. Kendi.”
    • No, racism isn’t a ‘creation of white people’ (David Abulafia, The Spectator): “It is therefore a sad and horrible truth that every continent has experienced racist persecutions before as well as after the age of the European empires. Quite possibly the first Homo Sapiens played a big role in the disappearance of the Neanderthals.” The author is a history professor at Cambridge.
  6. Christian musician Sean Feucht held defiant Seattle worship protest after concert was banned (Julia Duin, Religion News Service): “Sean Feucht, 37, the rally organizer, laughed about the conflict with city officials while welcoming the crowd of 800 to 900 people. ‘Welcome to Seattle’s largest worship protest,’ he said at the beginning of a two-hour set. ‘Turn to each other and say, “Welcome to the protest.” In this city, that makes it a legal gathering.’”
  7. Christians, Gun Rights, and the American Social Compact (David French, The Dispatch): “The distinctive Christian presence has to include modeling the responsible, virtuous exercise of the rights its political movements seek to secure. It has to include using its voice and power to advocate for that responsibility and to oppose recklessness. Simply put, the republic was not designed to thrive if those who are religious are not also moral.” 

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 Philosopher Redefining Equality (Nathan Heller, New Yorker): “When she was three, her mother asked, ‘Why do you allow your brother to talk for you?’—why didn’t she speak for herself? ‘Until now, it simply was not necessary,’ Elizabeth said. It was the first full sentence that she had ever uttered.” I think that’s the best first sentence I’ve ever heard of. The article is a tad long, but recommended. First shared in volume 189.

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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.

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