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 344, and 344 is the 8th octahedral number.
Things Glen Found Interesting
- No, Christianity Is Not as Bad as You Think (Josh Howerton, The Gospel Coalition): “In addition to having flaws and sins, churches also have an Enemy whose primary weapon is lies.… Satan tries to deconstruct the church Jesus is constructing (Matt. 16:18) by leveraging her faults to slander her with plausible false narratives. And that is exactly what we find: a wide and growing gap between cultural narratives about Christianity and the reality of Christianity.”
- The truth about nuclear deterrence (Hebert Lin, Institute of Art and Ideas): “… it presumes all nuclear powers recognize their ultimate self-interest in avoiding nuclear war, since nuclear war would lead to devastation for both sides. But this neat picture becomes very messy very quickly when one realizes that nations have other goals in addition to that of avoiding nuclear war.” The author is a professor at Stanford. Recommended by an alumnus.
- Government Is Flailing, in Part Because Liberals Hobbled It (Ezra Klein, New York Times): “..one generation’s solutions have become the next generation’s problems. Processes meant to promote citizen involvement have themselves been captured by corporate interests and rich NIMBYs. Laws meant to ensure that government considers the consequences of its actions have made it too difficult for government to act consequentially.” This is quite good. This is not an angry partisan piece — Klein is himself a liberal engaging in public reflection.
- Some articles about transgenderism:
- I Am a Woman (And a Biologist) (Heather Heying, Substack): “Just as pineapples are not apples, transwomen are not women. Because transwomen are male.” A short piece.
- Hospital told police a woman who complained she was raped that only other women were present on the single-sex ward — before admitting after a YEAR that one was trans (Laurence Dollimore, Daily Mail): “When police were called to the unnamed hospital in England, they were allegedly told by staff that ‘there was no male’ on the single-sex ward, ‘therefore the rape could not have happened’. But almost 12 months later, they revealed one of the patients had been trans.”
- What Do We Do When People Are Equal, But Not Alike? (David French, The Dispatch): “Lia Thomas and other trans individuals are human beings created in the image of God. They are ‘created equal,’ but they are not created the same in all meaningful respects as the women they compete against or share locker rooms with. Our nation and culture can respect their dignity and protect their rights without denying the distinctions that really do make a difference.” Recommended by a student. This is a very gentle essay, much gentler than I expected.
- What Operation Warp Speed Did, Didn’t and Can’t Do (Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution): “First, it’s important to understand that OWS did not create any scientific innovations or discoveries. The innovative mRNA vaccines are rightly lauded but all of the key scientific ideas behind mRNA as a delivery mechanism long predate Operation Warp Speed. The scientific advances were the result of many decades of work, some of it supported by university and government funding and also a significant fraction by large private investments in firms such as Moderna and BioNTech. It was BioNTech recall that hired Katalin Karikó (and many other mRNA researchers) when she couldn’t get university or government funding. Since OWS created no new scientific breakthroughs there isn’t much to learn from OWS about the efficacy of large scale programs for that purpose.” Interesting throughout.
- Thread about cancel culture (Greg Lukianoff, Twitter): “We tracked 563 attempts to get scholars canceled since 2015 — including 283 just since 2020. Nearly 2/3 were successful, resulting in sanction, & 1‑in‑5 resulted in termination (that includes 30 tenured professors!).”
- We are reinstating our SAT/ACT requirement for future admissions cycles (Stu Schmill, MIT Admissions): “…standardized tests also help us identify academically prepared, socioeconomically disadvantaged students who could not otherwise demonstrate readiness because they do not attend schools that offer advanced coursework, cannot afford expensive enrichment opportunities, cannot expect lengthy letters of recommendation from their overburdened teachers, or are otherwise hampered by educational inequalities.” Recommended by an alumnus.
Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen
- You’re Perfect Just The Way You Are: Op-Ed By Satan (Babylon Bee)
- Batmobile (Texts From Superheroes)
- What’s The Worst That Could Happen? (Dilbert)
- Ethics vs Morals (Dilbert)
- Graphic Designers (xkcd)
- Some People Love Dogs (Pearls Before Swine)
- This is a cool website: it produces a simple road map for any given city. Here’s the Stanford one: https://anvaka.github.io/city-roads/?q=stanford%2C%20ca&areaId=3601546085
- Australia’s Clever Birds Did Not Consent to This Science Experiment (Anthony Ham, New York Times): “In a remarkable act of cooperation, the magpie wearing the tracker remained still while the other magpie worked at the harness with its beak. Within 20 minutes, the helping magpie had found the only weak point — a single clasp, barely a millimeter long — and snipped it with its beak. Dr. Potvin and her team later saw different magpies removing harnesses from two other birds outfitted with them. The scientists took six months to reach this point. Within three days, the magpies had removed all five devices.”
Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago
Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have An Epidemic of Disbelief (Barbara Bradley Hagerty, The Atlantic): “Historically, investigators had assumed that someone who assaults a stranger by the railroad tracks is nothing like the man who assaults his co‐worker or his girlfriend. But it turns out that the space between acquaintance rape and stranger rape is not a wall, but a plaza. When Cleveland investigators uploaded the DNA from the acquaintance‐rape kits, they were surprised by how often the results also matched DNA from unsolved stranger rapes. The task force identified dozens of mystery rapists this way.” Infuriating and highly recommended. First shared in volume 211.
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.