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 327, and 327 is the largest number such that it together with its double and triple contain every digit 1–9 once: 327 doubled is 654 and tripled it is 981. Odd but cool.
Things Glen Found Interesting
- The Teacher Who Never Spoke (Maureeen Swinger, Plough): “The summer my brother Duane turned twenty, a formidable young man stayed with us on a break from the Ivy League. He had never, to anyone’s knowledge, lost an argument. Several weeks into his visit, my mother walked into the dining room where my brother and his friend were, in theory, eating lunch. In reality, both men were sitting at the table with locked jaws. One didn’t have to say, ‘I need you to eat.’ The other didn’t need to say, ‘Hell, no.’ They both knew exactly what was going on: the Ivy Leaguer was losing an argument to my brother, who had never learned to speak.”
- This is from a while ago (2017), but I must have missed it. Simply astounding. I wept while reading it. Anyone taking a class where Peter Singer’s philosophy is highly regarded should read this ASAP.
- She was sold to a stranger so her family could eat as Afghanistan crumbles (Anna Coren, Jessie Yeung and Abdul Basir Bina, CNN): “Magul, a 10-year-old girl in neighboring Ghor province, cries every day as she prepares to be sold to a 70-year-old man to settle her family’s debts. Her parents had borrowed 200,000 Afghanis ($2,200) from a neighbor in their village — but without a job or savings, they have no way of returning the money.”
- This is one of the most depressing things I have read in some time.
- What happens when people in Texas can’t get abortions: ‘Diapers save a lot more babies than ultrasounds’ (Casey Parks, Washington Post): “I always tell people, ‘Diapers save a lot more babies than ultrasounds.’ ” Haring said. “I don’t want an ultrasound machine. I want tons of diapers. Buy me $20,000, $40,000, $50,000 worth of diapers because if you have a woman who comes in with four kids — yeah, looking at the baby, she realizes it’s a human being. But if you tell her, ‘I’m going to give you diapers for all four kids,’ believe me, the diapers for all four kids is going to save that baby a lot quicker than a little pennant on the screen.”
- It’s rare to read a sympathetic story about a pro-life center in a major American newspaper.
- Philip Yancey’s Message of Grace (Peter Wehner, The Atlantic): “Yancey told the parents in the audience that, biblically, God grieves as much as they do; that God loves their children as much as they do; and that God is deeply pained by the state of this broken world. To his surprise, he found his faith affirmed rather than shattered. He witnessed in person something the theologian Miroslav Volf wrote on the day after the Newtown shootings: ‘Those who observe suffering are tempted to reject God; those who experience it often cannot give up on God, their solace and their agony.’ ”
- This is one of the most gospel-centric articles I have read in a major publication in quite some time.
- When All The Media Narratives Collapse (Andrew Sullivan, Substack): “If you look back at the last few years, the record of errors, small and large, about major stories, is hard to deny. It’s as if the more Donald Trump accused the MSM of being ‘fake news’ the more assiduously they tried to prove him right.”
- His Reasons for Opposing Trump Were Biblical. Now a Top Christian Editor Is Out. (Ben Smith, New York Times): “As the longtime editor of World, a Christian news organization that has a website, a biweekly magazine and a set of podcasts, Mr. Olasky has delivered a mix of hard news and watchdog articles about the evangelical realm under a journalistic philosophy he calls ‘biblical objectivity.’ It involves taking strong stands where the Bible is clear, which has led World to oppose abortion rights and support refugees, he says, and to follow reportable facts where the Bible doesn’t provide clear guidance.”
- Some pandemic perspectives:
- The Covid pandemic is not taking the very best of turns (Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution): “While the fog of war is thick right now, the early data on Nu suggests that it may be a big deal. Even if it’s not, however, it has been obvious since we got the vaccines that vaccine escape is a concern. You can debate whether the probability of a vaccine escaping variant is 20% or 80%, but in any case we need effective contingency plans in place. If we fail to respond effectively to Nu, that will be a considerably greater institutional failure than anything that happened at the outset of the pandemic. We’ve had almost two years since the first COVID case and one year from the vaccine approvals to prepare. So I ask: what is the plan for the vaccine-escaping variant?”
- The Weirdness of Government Variation in COVID-19 Responses (Richard Hanania, Substack): “But imagine at the start of the pandemic, someone had said to you ‘Everyone will face the existence of the same disease, and have access to the exact same tools to fight it. But in some EU countries or US states, people won’t be allowed to leave their house and have to cover their faces in public. In other places, government will just leave people alone. Vast differences of this sort will exist across jurisdictions that are similar on objective metrics of how bad the pandemic is at any particular moment.’ I would’ve found this to be a very unlikely outcome! You could’ve convinced me EU states would do very little on COVID-19, or that they would do lockdowns everywhere. I would not have believed that you could have two neighboring countries that have similar numbers, but one of them forces everyone to stay home, while the other doesn’t. This is the kind of extreme variation in policy we don’t see in other areas.”
- The Vaccine Moment, part one (Paul Kingsnorth, Substack): “Covid is a revelation. It has lain bare splits in the social fabric that were always there but could be ignored in better times. It has revealed the compliance of the legacy media and the power of Silicon Valley to curate and control the public conversation. It has confirmed the sly dishonesty of political leaders, and their ultimate obeisance to corporate power. It has shown up ‘The Science’ for the compromised ideology it is. Most of all, it has revealed the authoritarian streak that lies beneath so many people, and which always emerges in fearful times.”
- A tweet that made me laugh: “The WHO chose Omicron over Nu for the variant of concern, probably because it sounds too much like ‘new.’ But the next letter is not Omicron but Xi. Was that a little too on the nose?” (Jared Walczak, Twitter)
Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen
- Chronically Late People (Pearls Before Swine)
- Mexican Food Place With ‘A’ Health Rating Probably Terrible (Babylon Bee): same with Cajun roadside restaurants. You want to eat at a place that looks like it serves Ebola on the side.
- Heart-Stopping Texts (xkcd)
- Bayes’ Theorem (xckd)
- How Painful Is ‘Hypnotic Amputation?’ (QI, YouTube): four minutes with apologetic implications. The really intriguing part starts about 40 seconds in.
- Italian Mentalist Luca Volpe (Penn & Teller Fool Us, YouTube): eight minutes
- The Power of the X (Penn & Teller Fool Us, YouTube): nine minutes
- Getting Past German Immigration (Foil Arms and Hog, YouTube): three minutes
- Skillful Coin Magic (Penn & Teller Fool Us, YouTube): six and a half minutes
- Optimism vs Pessimism (Pearls Before Swine): optimism is no substitute for hope
- A Dog Does Magic (Penn & Teller Fool Us, YouTube): nine minutes
- Wolverine Is A Christian (X‑Men, YouTube): four and a half minutes of surprising content: Nightcrawler witnessing effectively to Wolverine.
- Republican or Not? (Saturday Night Live, YouTube): five and a half minutes that’s cleverer than you might think
Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago
Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have What Is It Like to Be a Man? (Phil Christman, The Hedgehog Review): “I live out my masculinity most often as a perverse avoidance of comfort: the refusal of good clothes, moisturizer, painkillers; hard physical training, pursued for its own sake and not because I enjoy it; a sense that there is a set amount of physical pain or self‐imposed discipline that I owe the universe.” Very well‐written. Everyone will likely find parts they resonate with and parts they reject. The author is a lecturer at the University of Michigan and based on his CV seems to be a fairly devoted Episcopalian. First shared in volume 178.
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.