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.
I’m a simple man, and I appreciate that volume 336 is comprised of digits easily put into an equation: 3 + 3 = 6.
Things Glen Found Interesting
- This Innovative Christian Homeless Shelter Is Rising To California’s Housing Challenge (Liza Vandenboom Ashley, Religion Unplugged): “…Orange County Rescue Mission [is] an innovative Christian homeless shelter based in Tustin with several other locations. The Tustin campus, known as the Village of Hope, runs without government funding or private debt and employs an organizational and aesthetic ethos that more closely resembles a college campus than a homeless shelter.” This is an uplifting read. Recommended.
- Christ and cocaine: Rio’s gangs of God blend faith and violence (Tom Phillips, The Guardian): “Drug lords, some regular churchgoers, have incorporated Christian symbols into their ultra-violent trade. Packets of cocaine, handguns and uniforms are emblazoned with the Star of David – a reference to the Pentecostal belief that the return of Jews to Israel represents progress towards the second coming. Gang-commissioned graffiti offers spiritual guidance and heavenly praise.” Recommended by an alumnus. What a wild story! Seeing their blind spots, my main takeaway is to wonder what my blind spots are.
- Nothing Sacred: These Apps Reserve The Right To Sell Your Prayers (Emily Baker-White, BuzzFeed): “It is common for free apps to profit from sharing their users’ data and to be vague about exactly how and with whom they share it, but users feel like Pray.com’s data practices are at odds with the deeply personal nature of prayer itself. Jenny, a recent college graduate who prayed about the infidelity of a romantic partner in the app, said ‘there is an expectation of privacy’ among Christians sharing prayers.”
- From later in the article: “At least one government has taken an interest in prayer app data, too — the US military bought extensive location data mined from Muslim prayer apps back in 2020 for use in special forces operations.”
- Superhero Secret Identities Aren’t Possible with Today’s Computing Technologies (Jason Hong, Communications of the ACM): “Superheroes have to worry about having their identity being revealed, but the rest of us in the real world have to worry about just how much information about us is out there, how widely available many of these technologies are, and how both of these can be easily abused—sometimes accidentally, sometimes intentionally—by advertisers, governments, employers, stalkers, criminals, and more.” I enjoyed this.
- On Russia/Ukraine:
- US Blunders, Ukraine’s War (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “Putin or no Putin, no Russian leader could allow Ukraine to join NATO, any more than any American leader could allow Mexico to join a defensive alliance formed out of opposition to American power. Every American president since James Monroe has upheld the so-called Monroe Doctrine, which claims the entire Western hemisphere as a zone of American influence. By what crackpot logic can we advance and defend that claim, but expect Russia, another great power, to acquiesce to Ukraine, a border state to Russia, joining NATO?”
- Russia as the “Great Satan” in the Liberal Imagination (Richard Hanania, Substack): “…the US foreign policy establishment believes that every country in Europe should eventually be part of the EU and NATO, and none should be allowed to get close to Russia or adopt a ‘nondemocratic’ form of government, with “democracy” again being defined as making internal decisions that reflect the policy outcomes that State Department officials wish a Democratic president would implement at home.”
- Defend Chernobyl During an Invasion? Why Bother, Some Ukrainians Ask. (Andrew Kramer & Tyler Hicks, New York Times): “Mr. Prishepa said he would prefer that Ukraine set up the defensive lines further south, giving the irradiated zone over to whomever might want it. ‘It’s a wasteland,’ he said. ‘No crop will ever grow here.’ ” Recommended by an alumnus.
- Pandemic perspectives:
- I Had COVID. Am I Done Now? (Emily Oster, Substack): “I think part of what has made this transition difficult, even if we say we have accepted it, is the residual fear of the unknown that has been hard to shake. It’s not unknown to as many of us as before. I spent the past two years taking a million PCR and rapid tests, which were all negative. When I finally got a positive result last week, I felt a bit of loss and defeat but also a bit of release. Maybe it’s the same for others.“The author is an economist at Brown University.
- Why Are We Boosting Kids? (David Zweig, Bari Weiss’s Substack): “Monica Gandhi, a doctor and an infectious-disease specialist at the University of California, San Francisco, was blunt in her assessment. ‘I am not giving my 12 and 14-year-old boys boosters,’ she told me. Dr. Gandhi is not the only expert to publicly state an intention to not comply with the CDC’s recommendation. Dr. Paul Offit is the director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, a member of the FDA’s vaccine advisory committee, and is considered one the country’s top authorities on pediatric vaccine policy. He recently said that getting boosted would not be worth the risk for the average healthy 17-year-old boy, and he advised his son, who is in his 20s, not to get a third dose.”
- Society has a trust problem. More censorship will only make it worse. (Hamish McKenzie, Chris Best & Jairaj, Substack): “…as we face growing pressure to censor content published on Substack that to some seems dubious or objectionable, our answer remains the same: we make decisions based on principles not PR, we will defend free expression, and we will stick to our hands-off approach to content moderation. While we have content guidelines that allow us to protect the platform at the extremes, we will always view censorship as a last resort, because we believe open discourse is better for writers and better for society.” Bravo to Substack.
- The Folly of Pandemic Censorship (Matt Taibbi, Substack): “Censors have a fantasy that if they get rid of all the Berensons and Mercolas and Malones, and rein in people like Joe Rogan, that all the holdouts will suddenly rush to get vaccinated. The opposite is true. If you wipe out critics, people will immediately default to higher levels of suspicion. They will now be sure there’s something wrong with the vaccine. If you want to convince audiences, you have to allow everyone to talk, even the ones you disagree with. You have to make a better case.” Parts of this are straight fire.
- How an Anonymous Reporting System Made Yale a COVID ‘Surveillance State’ (Aaron Sibarium, Washington Free Beacon): “At Yale, those lost social connections have killed more people than COVID-19. In September 2020, a Yale freshman told the Yale Daily News that the isolation of the pandemic had made her worried about her mental health. In March 2021, she committed suicide in her dorm. Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been no reported COVID deaths among Yale’s students, faculty, or staff.” The article describes a few absolutely bonkers encounters.
- The NYT’s polarizing pandemic pundit (Joanne Kenen, Politico): “Other public health experts Nightlyinterviewed — some of whom are sources for New York Times health journalists or have media gigs of their own — didn’t want to be quoted, or said they were too busy taking care of patients, ciao. One well-known research scientist, who is part of this critical conversation but who admires Leonhardt overall, wouldn’t even praise him on the record.”
Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen
- We Don’t Talk About COVID — “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” Parody (The Holderness Family, YouTube): four minutes
- Card Stab (Penn & Teller Fool Us, YouTube): nine minutes
- World’s coldest marathon at blistering minus 53C is complete in Yakutia (Siberian Times): “The winner was Vasily Lukin, teacher from Churapcha Institute of Physical Culture and Sport. This is his second victory in the extreme race; this year he reached the finish line at Tomtor in three hours twenty two minutes.”
- Guinness World Record awarded to Russian for the world’s first truly retractable lightsaber (Joel Abbott, Not The Bee): “The lightsaber produces a plasma blade measuring over 1 m (3.28 ft) in length. Reaching temperatures over 2,800°C (5,072°F), the blade has the ability to cut through steel.”
- The Hitler Family Name (Bill Burr, YouTube): two minutes
- Who Was Traditionally Dressed In Pink And Called A Girl? (QI, YouTube): three and a half minutes
- The Difference Between A Nerd And A Dork (Don McMillan, YouTube): five minutes
- Conspiracy Magic (Penn & Teller Fool Us, YouTube): eight minutes
- ACCUSED of keeping a baby in my suitcase (Would I Lie To You?, YouTube): three minutes
- Is Money Even Real? An Economist Explains (John Stewart, YouTube): six minutes
- Student distraught to discover that her Zoom crush is actually 5’4 (Michelle Fu, Stanford Daily): “When pressed for further information, the 5’2’’ Johnson said that ‘it just hurt that he wasn’t actually 6’6” as I’d imagined in my head.’”
Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago
Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have If Liberals Won’t Enforce Borders, Fascists Will (David Frum, The Atlantic): “Demagogues don’t rise by talking about irrelevant issues. Demagogues rise by talking about issues that matter to people, and that more conventional leaders appear unwilling or unable to address: unemployment in the 1930s, crime in the 1960s, mass immigration now. Voters get to decide what the country’s problems are. Political elites have to devise solutions to those problems. If difficult issues go unaddressed by responsible leaders, they will be exploited by irresponsible ones.” I highlighted a piece by Frum with a similar theme back in issue 175. This is a very thoughtful article. First shared in volume 194.
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.