Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 340

Lots of Ukraine/Russia links, plus more entertaining links than normal as a compensation.

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 340, which is cool because it’s a multiple of 17 and I really like the number 17.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. On Ukraine and Russia: a lot of links here, just open the interesting titles in new tabs.
    • To Stay and Serve: Why We Didn’t Flee Ukraine (Vasyl Ostryi, Gospel Coalition): “How should the church respond when there is a growing threat of war? When there is constant fear in society? I’m convinced that if the church is not relevant at a time of crisis, then it is not relevant in a time of peace.… while the church may not fight like the nation, we still believe we have a role to play in this struggle. We will shelter the weak, serve the suffering, and mend the broken. And as we do, we offer the unshakable hope of Christ and his gospel.” Respect.
    • We lack the ability to ideate and innovate on foreign policy (Melissa Wear, Substack): “Why is it that the media and experts marveled so much at the unprecedented sharing of intelligence on President Putin’s next moves? Because it was something new. And it’s no surprise it comes from the intelligence community. They and those in the military and defense are not as often cultivated under the banner of progress and peace and the End of History in typical IR and political sciences courses, narratives, and hallways of power.”
    • We’re All Ukrainians Now (David French, The Dispatch): “No one claims that Ukraine is a perfect country. Like many former Soviet republics, it has struggled to find its footing. It’s endured authoritarianism, and it battles corruption. But, in Lewis’s words, it is ‘not in the least aggressive.’ It ‘asks only to be let alone.’ As a nation that has endured its own aggressive attacks, how can we not empathize? How can we not do what we reasonably can to deter Russian aggression and help Ukrainians defend themselves?” 
    • Thoughts On Shitpost Diplomacy (Tanner Greer, personal blog): “The American diplomat who posted this meme should have known this. He or she was almost certainly a Foreign Service Officer in the Public Diplomacy cone; a public diplomat’s first charge is learning how to communicate persuasively to the people of the region stationed in. It is not that this officer lacked the raw intelligence to fulfill this role: four out of every five applicants fail the Foreign Service’s selective entrance tests. It is what this diplomat did after receiving his or her post that mattered. This diplomat did not study. Memes like these are the product of a culture that retweets more than it reads.”
    • On Ukraine (George Weigel, First Things): “For months now, the world press has described Russian troop deployments along Ukraine’s borders as spearheads of a possible invasion. The truth, however, is that Russia invaded Ukraine seven years ago, when it annexed Crimea and Russian ‘little green men’ ignited a war in eastern Ukraine that has taken over 14,000 lives and displaced over a million people. Whatever the current military developments, a Russian invasion of Ukraine has not been ‘imminent’; the invasion is ongoing.”
    • Amid War and Rumors of War, Ukraine Pastors Preach and Prepare (Jayson Casper, Christianity Today): “Preaching on the Sermon on the Mount’s injunction toward peacemaking, Kulakevych continued his laser-sharp focus on the possible Russian invasion. Five weeks ago, as the separatist conflict in the eastern Donbas region began to escalate, he surveyed the Bible for its teaching on ‘wars and rumors of war.’ He followed that with an application of ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled’ and, on the next Sunday, a treatise on worry.”
    • Russia Keeps Punishing Evangelicals in Crimea (Kate Shellnutt and Forum 18, Christianity Today): “Since Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014—one of the central points of conflict in the current clash between the two countries—Protestant Christians in the territory have faced greater government penalties for practicing their faith.”
    • Russia’s space agency warns US sanctions could ‘destroy’ cooperation on the International Space Station (Kristin Fisher, CNN): “If you block cooperation with us, who will save the International Space Station (ISS) from an uncontrolled deorbit and fall into the United States or…Europe?” Rogozin said. “There is also the possibility of a 500-ton structure falling on India and China. Do you want to threaten them with such a prospect? The ISS does not fly over Russia, therefore all the risks are yours. Are you ready for them?” Recommended by an alumnus.
    • Putin as a man of ideas (Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution): “If you write books, whether good or bad ones, and wonder whether your work matters, I suggest the answer lies before you on your TV screen each evening. Russia is a nation of ideas, led by people who are obsessed with ideas. The rest of the world, most of all Europe, will need better ideas in turn.”
    • Putin’s spiritual destiny (Giles Fraser,  UnHerd): “Last year, on the anniversary of the baptism of the Rus, [Patriarch] Kirill preached to his people, urging them to stay true to Vladimir’s conversion and the blood of the orthodox martyrs. He told them to love ‘our homeland, our people, our rulers and our army’. The Western secular imagination doesn’t get this. It looks at Putin’s speech the other evening, and it describes him as mad — which is another way of saying we do not understand what is going on. And we show how little we understand by thinking that a bunch of sanctions is going to make a blind bit of difference. They won’t.”
    • Putin’s Attack on Ukraine Is a Religious War (John Schindler, Substack): “Every secular geostrategic challenge cited as a reason for Putin’s aggression – NATO expansion, Western military moves, oil and gas politics – existed in 2014, yet Putin then chose to limit his attacks on Ukraine to Crimea and the Southeast. What’s changed since then that makes his effort to subdue all Ukraine seem like a good idea in the Kremlin? The creation of an autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine in 2019, with official American backing, is the difference, and Moscow believes this was all a nefarious U.S. plot to divide world Orthodoxy at Russia’s expense. Clearly Putin has decided that reclaiming Ukraine and its capital, ‘the mother of Russian cities,’ for Russian Orthodoxy is worth a major war. Make no mistake, this is a religious war, even if almost nobody in the West realizes it.“This is in the mix. I don’t know what percentage of the mix it is, but it’s definitely in the mix.
    • War and dating apps (swipe left) (Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution): “Ukrainian women in second city Kharkiv — just 20 miles from tyrannical Vladimir Putin’s vast invasion force — have been stunned by a salvo of admirers in uniform. Hunky Russian troops called Andrei, Alexander, Gregory, Michail and a bearded Chechen fighter nicknamed ‘Black’ were among dozens whose profiles popped up.” This is a link to a summary of an article from the Sun. The summary is enough, but if you click through you’ll see actual Tinder photos.
  2. I spent six months in a cult. They’re still here on campus. (Camille Williams, The Daily Northwestern): “So, you are probably wondering: how did I get out? …Some may call it a gut instinct; I call it the Holy Spirit within me squirming in revolt. After that conversation, I ran out of my bedroom and yelled to my mother, ‘I accidentally joined a cult.’ After she went from confused laughter to vowing to throw hands with these people, I finally started to feel this burden release.”
    • This is an article by a student in Chi Alpha at Northwestern. She was in Chi Alpha, got sucked into a cult, and then got out and returned to Chi Alpha.
  3. Gangsters want to be good people too (Chris Blattman, blog): “I remember meeting one gang leader on the streets of Chicago. We were standing in line at a nacho and ice cream truck (yes that exists) chatting. I was trying to understand how one of the violence reduction programs I was working on affected his operations. After all, we were trying to recruit away his best young men—his star dealers and shooters. We wanted to get them into other kinds of jobs. Surely he was frustrated. On the contrary. He was delighted. ‘I only do this for the boys,’ he said. ‘They need something to do. Your program is even better. I’m happy they’re going.’ In his mind, the violent drug-dealing was a public employment program, and he the administrator.”
  4. Some Canadian Convoy Aftermath:
    • Convoy Crackdown (Zvi Mowshowitz, Substack): “Family members having trouble living their lives is being treated not as a bug but as a feature. The sins of the father are to be laid upon the children, it seems. This extends as noted above to those who provide financial assistance to those engaging in disapproved activities, and that such retaliation will continue to happen after the activities in question cease, so not only is one without one’s money and other assets, and without the ability to spend what one does have, others may reasonably fear that helping you not end up on the street might land them in the same situation.” Emphasis in original.
    • Trudeau ends use of Emergencies Act, says ‘situation is no longer an emergency’ (Nick Boisvert, CBC): “The Senate was in the midst of debating the act on Wednesday but withdrew the motion shortly after Trudeau made his announcement.” I am glad the emergency measures have been lifted, but what should concern us all is that this is now on the table as an option for otherwise rights-based governments.
    • What Led to Canada’s Crisis (Nathan Pinkoski,First Things): “The crisis had its origins in material conditions unique to Canada. A combination of elite overproduction and Canada’s position in the shadow of the United States has produced an ideologically supercharged managerial class that has accelerated the adoption of a new kind of emergency politics.“The author is at the nearby Zephyr Institute.
  5. By Any Other Name (Helena, Substack): “UK NHS referral data shows a 4000% increase in pediatric gender service referrals (not a typo). So-called ‘gender dysphoria’, which was once a very rare diagnosis that described mostly prepubescent boys and adult men, is now most commonly diagnosed in teenage girls. Activists will argue that these explosive numbers are a result of increased societal acceptance, and that at long last trans people are coming out of hiding and living as their authentic selves. If this were true, one might expect to see comparable rates of transgender identity across all age groups and between both sexes, but its disproportionately adolescent females feeling that warm and fuzzy inclusive acceptance.” A very personal narrative. Long, recommended.
  6. The C.D.C. Isn’t Publishing Large Portions of the Covid Data It Collects (Apoorva Mandavilli, New York Times): “…the C.D.C. has been routinely collecting information since the Covid vaccines were first rolled out last year, according to a federal official familiar with the effort. The agency has been reluctant to make those figures public, the official said, because they might be misinterpreted as the vaccines being ineffective.” My level of confidence in our public health agencies cannot go much lower. And sadly, in an attempt to prevent people believing disapproved thoughts the CDC has inflamed conspiracy theorists. Outrageous.

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have From Midwest Drug Dealer to The Farm: Jason Spyres Shares His Inspiring Story (Yasmin Samrai, Stanford Review): “To justify his criminal behaviour, he told himself that though selling pot was illegal, it wasn’t immoral. This theory came crashing down when two gangs broke into his house, split his head open, and robbed him. When Spyres discovered that the burglars had nearly mistaken his house for his neighbor’s, he realized that selling drugs put other people’s safety in jeopardy. ‘I was shocked and sickened with myself,’ he recalled. ‘I was part of a black market and my actions had unintended consequences.’” What a wild story. First shared in volume 204 

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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.

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