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 the 322nd installment, and today I learned that 322 is the 12th Lucas number.
Things Glen Found Interesting
- The State of Evangelical Leadership (Mark Galli, Substack): “This tendency has only gotten worse, as now the mark of a successful evangelical writer is to get published regularly in the Times, Atlantic, and so forth. What’s interesting about such pieces is that (a) such writers make a point that affirms the view of the secular publication (on topics like environmental care, racial injustice, sexual abuse, etc.) and (b) they preach in such pieces that evangelicals should take the same point of view. However, their writing doesn’t reach the masses of evangelicals who take a contrary view and don’t give a damn what The New York Times says. If these writers are really interested in getting those evangelicals to change their minds, the last place they should be is in the mainstream press. Better to try to get such a column published in the most popular Pentecostal outlet, Charisma. Ah, but that would do nothing to enhance the prestige of evangelicals among the culture’s elite.”
- This is a SUPER interesting article that makes good points… but the author somehow avoided looking in a mirror while writing it. He was the editor-in-chief of Christianity Today!
- Follow-up: Falling from Grace into Mercy— or Elite Evangelicalism, Part 2 (Mark Galli, Substack): “But one thing about retirement is the time one has to reflect on one’s career, and I see more clearly how much I was willing to go along to get along, and how much I was part of the system.… I don’t think there is much hope in reforming many things that course through the veins of elite evangelicals.”
- Two of the most distressing news items I’ve seen in some time.
- Black Children Were Jailed for a Crime That Doesn’t Exist. Almost Nothing Happened to the Adults in Charge. (Meribah Knight, Nashville Public Radio, and Ken Armstrong, ProPublica): “In the wake of these mass arrests, lawyers would see inside a secretive legal system that’s supposed to protect kids, but in this county did the opposite. Officials flouted the law by wrongfully arresting and jailing children. One of their worst practices was stopped following the events at Hobgood, but the conditions that allowed the lawlessness remain. The adults in charge failed. Yet they’re still in charge. Tennessee’s systems for protecting children failed. Yet they haven’t been fixed.”
- Loudoun County father arrested at school board event says school tried to cover up daughter’s bathroom assault (Jessica Chasmar, Fox News): “A parent who was arrested during a June school board meeting in Loudoun County, Virginia, is accusing the district of trying to cover up an alleged bathroom sexual assault by a gender-fluid individual against his daughter in order to further its transgender rights agenda.”
- Regarding the latter story: the original investigation is paywalled, so I kept waiting for coverage of this story to show up in a national publication like the NYT or the Washington Post. Nope. Unless I’ve missed something, only Fox News seems willing to cover this. The local paper has some coverage as well: Parents, Students Press for Reform in Schools’ Handling of Sexual Assaults (Hayley Milon Bour, Loudoun Now).
- The Twitter thread by the investigating journalist is really something: https://twitter.com/lukerosiak/status/1447694543856586757
- Hunting the Satanists (Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution): “…the worldview of QAnon and Yale’s diversity office are surprisingly similar. Both see a world in which Satan, literal or metaphorical, is an active force in the world corrupting individuals and institutions. Satan is powerful but hidden. He only reveals his influence when the corrupted slip-up and by the incorrect use of a word, phrase, or gesture reveal their true natures. Since Satan is powerful and hidden the good people must constantly monitor everyone.” An astutely observed parallel.
- It’s Time for a Better and Smarter Alliance Against Porn (David French, The Dispatch): “One of the most fascinating developments of modern times has been the way in which American ideas and American conduct frequently contradict each other. The world of ideas mostly (though not exclusively) has moved left, quickly. Ideas move from progressive fringe to mainstream with stunning speed.… But in the world of conduct, something else is happening. Social conservative lifestyles are making a comeback. Divorce rates are down. Teen pregnancy is down. Abortion rates (abortions per 1,000 women) and ratios (abortions per 1,000 pregnancies) are way down. Single parenting has stabilized, and the percentage of children living with both parents is inching up.”
- Please Don’t Give Up On Having Kids Because Of Climate Change (Scott Alexander, Astral Codex Ten): “If you think privileged modern Americans shouldn’t have children now because of quality-of-life issues [related to climate change], you implicitly believe that nobody in the Third World, or nobody before 1900, should ever have had children.”
- Two tidbits from China:
- Terror & tourism: Xinjiang eases its grip, but fear remains (Dake Kang, AP News): “Anytime I tried to chat with someone, the minders would draw in close, straining to hear every word. It’s hard to know why Chinese authorities have shifted to subtler methods of controlling the region. It may be that searing criticism from the West, along with punishing political and commercial sanctions, have pushed authorities to lighten up. Or it may simply be that China judges it has come far enough in its goal of subduing the Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim minorities to relax its grip.”
- The Triumph and Terror of Wang Huning (N.S. Lyons, Palladium Magazine): “Wang recorded his observations in a memoir that would become his most famous work: the 1991 book America Against America. In it, he marvels at homeless encampments in the streets of Washington DC, out-of-control drug crime in poor black neighborhoods in New York and San Francisco, and corporations that seemed to have fused themselves to and taken over responsibilities of government.… Americans can, he says, perceive that they are faced with ‘intricate social and cultural problems,’ they ‘tend to think of them as scientific and technological problems’ to be solved separately. This gets them nowhere, he argues, because their problems are in fact all inextricably interlinked and have the same root cause: a radical, nihilistic individualism at the heart of modern American liberalism.”
- Surprisingly engrossing. One of China’s key leaders has accurately diagnosed certain challenges their nation is facing but his solutions are lacking (and evil). And he seems to have come to many of his convictions by visiting America and witnessing our cultural folly.
- Don’t Let Religious Liberty Claims Mask Bad Faith Arguments (Daniel Bennett, Christianity Today): “Religious liberty is too important to let it get misused. It’s not a waiver to avoid all inconveniences in life or, worse, a tool to make political statements. For religious liberty to survive political and legal scrutiny in the future, we must safeguard exemptions against abuse.” The author is a political science professor at John Brown University.
Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen
- The Christians Who Mock Wokeness for a Living (Emma Green, The Atlantic): “What satire does is it takes this extreme position and exaggerates and stretches it to the point of absurdity. There are crazy racists on the far right. And there are crazy racists on the far left. To find the humor, you have to play on those fringes. If we said, ‘Well, there’s some nuance here …’ you’re not making a joke anymore. Now you’re just writing a think piece.” Putting this article here is kind of cheating because it’s substantive. But it’s also funny.
- You Can Make a Netflix Style Doco About Literally Anything (YouTube): four and a half minutes
- We acknowledge our occupation of stolen land and our responsibility to honor Indigenous peoples in any way that lets us keep it (Ben Lees, Stanford Daily)
- Dr. Fauci Says Unvaccinated Kids Can Trick Or Treat But They Only Get Candy Corn (Babylon Bee)
- Gator garbage can capture: Florida man uses trash can to capture alligator (YouTube): three minutes. Recommended by an alumnus.
- Singer-Songwriter Bruce Cockburn’s Latest Gig? His Church’s Worship Band (John Longhurst, Christianity Today): “Still, Cockburn, 76, didn’t see a reason to mention his musical career, even after he was invited to play in the church’s worship band. ‘Nobody knew who I was’ when they extended the invitation to play, he said. ‘They needed a guitar player, so they were foolish enough to ask me.’ If, three years later, no one had figured out that the house guitarist has 35 albums and 13 Junos—the Canadian Grammys—to his name, they likely realized it in May, when Cockburn released four songs he’d written as a fundraiser for the church’s programs to assist homeless people and combat human trafficking.”
- The New York Times (Pearls Before Swine)
- Magic Max! (Penn & Teller Fool Us, YouTube): seven minutes. The performer is just a kid.
- Impossible Card Thru Glass (Penn & Teller Fool Us, YouTube): seven minutes
- Jandro Vanishes 2 Statues Of Liberty (Penn & Teller Fool Us, YouTube): nine minutes
- A Hat Trick (Penn & Teller Fool Us, YouTube): eight minutes
- Piff the Magic Dragon Returns (Penn & Teller Fool Us, YouTube): fourteen minutes
Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago
Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have When Children Say They’re Trans (Jesse Singal, The Atlantic): “ …to deny the possibility of a connection between social influences and gender‐identity exploration among adolescents would require ignoring a lot of what we know about the developing teenage brain—which is more susceptible to peer influence, more impulsive, and less adept at weighing long‐term outcomes and consequences than fully developed adult brains—as well as individual stories like Delta’s.” This is a long and balanced piece which has garnered outrage in some online circles. First shared in volume 157.
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.