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.
This is volume 301, which is what is known as a Happy Number. So there.
Things Glen Found Interesting
- The Cross and the Machine (Paul Kingsnorth, First Things): “It kept happening, for months. Christ to the left of me, Christ to the right. It was unnerving. I turned away again and again, but every time I looked back, he was still there. I began to feel I was being … hunted? I wanted it to stop; at least, I thought I did. I had no interest in Christianity. I was a witch! A Zen witch, in fact, which I thought sounded pretty damned edgy. But I knew who was after me, and I knew it wasn’t over.” A wonderfully-told conversion story.
- Why We Should Read What We Cite (Because It Matters) (Joseph Latham & Gilly Koritzky, Heterodox Academy): “Consider an academic article that came out at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and argues that doctors’ racist biases are a main reason for the higher COVID-19-related hospitalization and mortality rates among African Americans. It says that ‘there is evidence of medical bias in the testing and treatment of African-Americans with COVID-19’ and cites this report as the source. The problem? The report contains no such evidence.” The excerpt does not do it justice. Highly recommended. The authors are psychologists.
- How We Got to the Equality Act (Matthew Lee Anderson, Christianity Today): “The story that evangelicals are (merely) victims of progressive aggressors not only fails to account for the ways in which the LGBT movement was shaped by populist evangelical rhetoric and tactics. It also forgets that the gay liberation movement was a direct response to the systemic and pervasive exclusion of lesbian and gay individuals from the structures of our public life—including from America itself. Perfectionism in politics breeds radicalism in response.”
- When a Famous Literary Critic Unraveled Silicon Valley’s Most Sensational Murder Case (Ted Gioia, Substack): “Imagine a violent murder at the epicenter of early Santa Clara Valley—soon to be renamed Silicon Valley in the popular imagination—and an innocent man sent to Death Row at San Quentin. But a famous literary critic emerges as the super sleuth who gets him freed, amid dark evocations of scandal involving corrupt politicians and murky underworld figures. You don’t need to imagine it, because it really happened.” A engrossing Stanford story.
- About the current conflict in Israel:
- This was written before the current violence: Eight Tips for Reading About Israel (Matti Friedman, Sapir): “If you’re critical of open-fire orders on the Gaza fence, you should know how that works on the India-Pakistan border, or the Turkey-Syria border, or on the perimeters of U.S. military bases in Afghanistan. Same goes for refugee absorption, press freedom, minority rights, or anything. Israel doesn’t always come out looking great. But you’ll find that most criticism of Israel doesn’t compare it with anything. That’s a sign the discussion isn’t about a real country.”
- Against Israel: A bad partner is worse than rain (Freddie de Boer, Substack): “If every word that they have said about the perfidy and self-destruction of the Palestinians was correct, it would make no difference. The moral obligation falls on the dominant party, and Israel is beyond dominant. The mythmaking about all of the opportunities they squandered does not make a lick of moral difference.”
- For Israel: For the Sake of Peace, Israel Must Rout Hamas (Bret Stephens, New York Times): “Israel made plenty of mistakes in the run-up to the current fighting, including heavy-handed policing in Jerusalem at Ramadan and inadequate policing in Arab-Israeli towns that have been hit by mob violence. But there is a vast difference in moral weight between Israel’s miscalculations and Hamas’s calculations, between blunders and crimes. That’s something to bear in mind when Palestinian rockets hit Israeli civilians by design and Israeli missiles hit Palestinian civilians inadvertently.”
- Against Israel: A Nightmare of Terror Across the Landscape of Palestine (Yousef Munayyer, The Nation): “In towns throughout Israel, Palestinians have been beaten and terrorized by rampaging mobs; one man was dragged from his car and brutalized in what many are describing as a lynching. In the West Bank, Palestinians have been shot and killed in raids by the Israeli military. In Jerusalem, Palestinian families, facing the ongoing threat of expulsion, have been harassed by settlers and military alike. And across Gaza, Israeli war planes have dropped bomb after bomb, destroying entire apartment buildings. Many have died, many more have been injured. If they manage to survive, they will witness their society shattered when the smoke clears.”
- For Israel: The Two Wrongs of the Gaza Narrative (David French, The Dispatch): “Any discussion of the law of war often sounds cold and clinical, even though we’re discussing matters of life and death, including the inevitable and tragic deaths of civilians who always suffer when wars rage in city centers—especially when jihadists wear civilian clothes and embed themselves in civilian structures. When Hamas does so, it violates the law of war by inhibiting the distinction between civilian and military targets. The legal and moral responsibility for resulting civilian deaths rests with Hamas, not Israel.”
- Against Israel: The U.S. Must Stop Being an Apologist for the Netanyahu Government (Bernie Sanders, New York Times): “No one is arguing that Israel, or any government, does not have the right to self-defense or to protect its people. So why are these words repeated year after year, war after war? And why is the question almost never asked: ‘What are the rights of the Palestinian people?’ And why do we seem to take notice of the violence in Israel and Palestine only when rockets are falling on Israel?”
- For Israel: The Bad Optics of Fighting for Your Life (Bari Weiss, Substack): “The goal here is the eradication of the Jewish people. That is the bone-chilling truth. That is the core obstacle to peace. Anyone who insists that the ongoing rocket barrage is about a particular Israeli government policy must be made to answer for this.”
- Religious Liberty and Economic Freedom (Christos Makridis, City Journal): “Using data on more than 146 countries since 1996, my research finds that increases in religious freedom precede, and help explain, increases in economic freedom. The logic is simple: since religious freedom fundamentally involves granting individuals the autonomy to think and worship in whatever form they wish, it is arguably the most basic of all freedoms. Property rights are of little use if those who retain them do not have the freedom to think what they wish and practice what they believe.” Christos, an economist at Arizona State, is an alumnus of our ministry.
- Rival thoughts on Bitcoin:
- Bitcoin Is Civilization (Balaji S. Srinivasan, Bari Weiss’ Substack): “Bitcoin might seem like a curiosity in a democracy with a stable currency. But in countries with deeply unstable economies and authoritarian politics, it is a lifeline. As Alex Gladstein recently explained in Reason Magazine, Bitcoin has been used by dissidents and activists in places like Cuba, Nigeria, and Belarus. In Russia, the country’s most prominent opposition politician and Putin critic, Alexei Navaly, has raised millions in Bitcoin. As Gladstein wrote: ‘Putin can do a lot of things, but he can’t freeze a bitcoin account.’ If you want to understand what crypto is really about, ask Venezuelans if they’d rather own bolívar or Bitcoin.”
- The Case Against Bitcoin (Michael W. Green, Bari Weiss’s Substack): “In the last week of April, mining pools based in China accounted for roughly 90% of the processing power (‘hash rate’) in the Bitcoin network. Roughly three weeks ago, a power outage in the Xinjiang region of China resulted in a plunge in global Bitcoin processing. Bitcoin mining — the process of record keeping for the ‘immutable’ chain of record on which the Bitcoin network depends — is dominated by entities in countries with the stated objective to harm the interests of the United States. Bitcoin proponents continuously assure us that this is ‘just about to change,’ but the data has not shifted in a meaningful manner in the last five years. This is not a decentralized system. It is centralized in the countries that seek our destruction.”
Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen
- Border Crisis Worsens As Biden’s New Cat Stands At Gate To Mexico And Can’t Decide Whether To Go In Or Out (Babylon Bee) — a political joke that isn’t partisan — it’s almost a miracle!
- “I am Aragorn son of Arathorn, and am called Elessar the Elfstone, Dunadan (he/him).” (Twitter thread — some of the replies are awesome)
Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago
Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have the timely What The Media Gets Wrong About Israel (Matti Friedman, The Atlantic): “…one of the most important aspects of the media-saturated conflict between Jews and Arabs is also the least covered: the press itself. The Western press has become less an observer of this conflict than an actor in it, a role with consequences for the millions of people trying to comprehend current events, including policymakers who depend on journalistic accounts to understand a region where they consistently seek, and fail, to productively intervene.” (first shared back in volume 5, note that the first Israel article in today’s roundup is by the same author).
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.