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
- How does Google’s monopoly hurt you? Try these searches. (Geoffrey Fowler, Washington Post): “Googling didn’t used to require so much … scrolling. On some searches, it’s like Where’s Waldo but for information. Without us even realizing it, the Internet’s most-used website has been getting worse. On too many queries, Google is more interested in making search lucrative than a better product for us.”
- A shadowy AI service has transformed thousands of women’s photos into fake nudes: ‘Make fantasy a reality’ (Drew Harwell, Washington Post): “An artificial intelligence service freely available on the Web has been used to transform more than 100,000 women’s images into nude photos without the women’s knowledge or consent, triggering fears of a new wave of damaging ‘deepfakes’ that could be used for harassment or blackmail. Users of the automated service can anonymously submit a photo of a clothed woman and receive an altered version with the clothing removed.” Well, that’s not terrifying at all.
- Of Course We’re Not a Democracy (Mike Lee, First Things): “Our system of government is best described as a constitutional republic. Power is not found in mere majorities, but in carefully balanced power.” The author is a US Senator (R — Utah).
- Should the Professional Be Political? (Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic): “The Coinbase decision captured the attention of CEOs, tech workers, and members of the media who are asking themselves a timely question: What role, if any, should political activism play in the workplace? If Coinbase’s approach doesn’t lead to a staff exodus or legal setbacks or some other unforeseen harm, it is likely to be adopted at other companies––probably for the better––because it is well suited to helping workplaces stay diverse and inclusive in a polarized moment.”
- Election-related articles
- My favorite political ad of 2020 (Twitter): 30 seconds, and I am quite serious.
- The Spiritual Blessing of Political Homelessness (David French, The Dispatch): “More and more, thoughtful (mainly young) Christians say to me, ‘I’m pro-life, I believe in religious freedom and free speech, I think we should welcome immigrants and refugees, and I desperately want racial reconciliation. Where do I fit in?’ The answer is clear. Nowhere. And that truth is a blessing, if you embrace it.”
- Policies, Persons, and Paths to Ruin (John Piper, Desiring God): “Actually, this is a long-overdue article attempting to explain why I remain baffled that so many Christians consider the sins of unrepentant sexual immorality (porneia), unrepentant boastfulness (alazoneia), unrepentant vulgarity (aischrologia), unrepentant factiousness (dichostasiai), and the like, to be only toxic for our nation, while policies that endorse baby-killing, sex-switching, freedom-limiting, and socialistic overreach are viewed as deadly.”
- Could Trump Be A Christ-Figure: A Response to John Piper About Trump (C. Michael Patton, Credo House): “I don’t know if Trump is who the media says he is, I can only go off what I hear him say and see him do. Take away the accusations of xenophobia, racism, and misogyny and what do you have? An alleged sordid past with women (me too) and a present of enacting the policies I agree with.” The title is so provocative and I almost didn’t read it, but I found it genuinely interesting. The title is over-the-top, though.
- Why Most Evangelical Christians are Political Conservatives (JP Moreland, personal blog): “Suffice it to say that, when carefully examined, the texts show that the state is not to be in the business of showing compassion or providing positive rights for its citizens through its use of coercive power (e.g. taxation). These are matters of individual moral responsibility and obligation for the people of God (and various charities). Rather, the state is the protector of negative rights.” The link is to a short blog entry that contains a link to a 20 page PDF. The excerpt is from the PDF. The author is a philosopher at Biola University and brought up some points about the Old Testament I had never considered before.
- 2020 Polls: Voters Have Never Been More Divided by Gender (Eric Levitz, NY Magazine): “And today, young women in the U.S. aren’t just unprecedentedly single; they also appear to be unprecedentedly uninterested in heterosexuality: According to private polling shared with Intelligencer by Democratic data scientist David Shor, roughly 30 percent of American women under 25 identify as LGBT; for women over 60, that figure is less than 5 percent.” 👀👀👀
- A response: No Families, No Children, No Future (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “There is nothing remotely normal about that number. It is a sign of a deeply decadent culture — that is, a culture that lacks the wherewithal to survive. The most important thing that a generation can do is produce the next generation. No families, no children, no future.”
- How fascist is President Trump? There’s still a formula for that. (John McNeill, Washington Post): “In a federal, decentralized state with constitutional checks and balances, it’s harder to govern as a fascist than to run as one. Trump’s political outlook and behavior bear many similarities to those of fascist leaders, but he has not ruled like an authentic fascist.” Recommended by an alumnus. The author is a history professor at Georgetown.
- ICE Detainees in Georgia Say They Had Unneeded Surgeries (Caitlin Dickerson, Seth Freed Wessler and Miriam Jordan, New York Times): “Immigrants detained at an ICE-contracted center in Georgia said they had invasive gynecology procedures that they later learned might have been unnecessary.” About a month old, recommended by an alumnus.
- In a year of political anger, undecided voters inspire a special kind of scorn (Maura Judkis, Washington Post): “With so much on the line, the Undecideds have become more mystifying — and frustrating — than ever. Nobody believes they are real. Oh, and everyone hates them.”
- The Real Causes of Human Sex Differences (David C. Geary>, Quillette): “People have many stereotypes about boys and men and girls and women and most of them are accurate and, if anything, underestimate the magnitude of actual sex differences.The key question is whether these stereotyped beliefs create a self-fulfilling prophecy or are largely a description of sex differences that children and adults have observed in their day-to-day life.” The author is an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Missouri
- Global things to remember in prayer:
- Nigerian forces killed 12 peaceful protesters, Amnesty says (Sam Olukoya And Lekan Oyekanmi, Associated Press): “At least 56 people have died during two weeks of widespread demonstrations against police violence, including 38 on Tuesday, the group said…. citing eyewitnesses, video footage and hospital reports.”
- Nigeria Is Murdering Its Citizens (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, New York Times): “The Nigerian state has turned on its people. The only reason to shoot into a crowd of peaceful citizens is to terrorize: to kill some and make the others back down. It is a colossal and unforgivable crime.”
- Turks and Armenians Reconcile in Christ. Can Azeris Join Them? (Jayson Casper, Christianity Today): “Beytel became a Christian in 2000. But it was not until 2009 when he met Jacob Pursley, an American minister to Turkey, that he began to wrestle with his share in the national responsibility. The spiritual growth of the church is hindered by the unconfessed sin of genocide, Pursley implored the believers. He urged Turkish Christians to seek reconciliation with Armenians, on behalf of the nation.”
- Azerbaijan Evangelicals: Conflict with Armenians Is Not a Religious War (Jayson Casper, Christianity Today):“Originally a ‘Muslim atheist’ from a well-educated family, he was saved in 1991 after following a beautiful girl and her mysterious leather-bound book to a Bible study. Within a year, he was assistant pastor, and in 1997 he was ordained a minister in the Greater Grace Christian movement.” Including entirely for that luminous excerpt.
- Biden and Big Tech have Poland and Hungary in their crosshairs (Gladden Pappin, Newsweek): “The real reason that Poland and Hungary have been demonized in the United States is that they represent a successful alternative to the failed American combination of industrial and family collapse.” The author is a professor of politics at the University of Dallas. I don’t have strong opinions about European politics, but I am struck by how passionate some Americans are about them.
Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen
- Ladies, Lower Your Expectations (one minute video)
- In effort to reach more students, CAPS renames itself Stanford Missed Connections (Stanford Daily)
- You Can Always Spot The Cheerleader (Susan Jones, YouTube): four minutes
- Ring Magic (Penn & Teller Fool Us, YouTube): eight minutes, stunning.
- Magician EATS A CARD (Penn & Teller Fool Us, YouTube): nine minutes
Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago
Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have Artificial Intelligence and Magical Thinking (Ed Feser, personal blog): “Building a computer is precisely analogous to putting together a bit of magical sleight of hand. It is a clever exercise in simulation, nothing more. And the convincingness of the simulation is as completely irrelevant in the one case as it is in the other. Saying ‘Gee, AI programs can do such amazing things. Maybe it really is intelligence!’ is like saying ‘Gee, Penn and Teller do such amazing things. Maybe it really is magic!’” Feser is one of my favorite philosophers. First shared in volume 197, and I recall a CS major telling me how much he disagreed with it.
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.