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.
362 feels like a number that should have lots of factors, but it’s only got the prime factors 2 and 181.
Things Glen Found Interesting
- Exploring AI-Assisted Bible Study (John Dyer, personal blog): “I prompted GPT‑3 to generate text for each chapter in the Bible in each category. For example, the prompt to generate a prayer was: “Write 5 prayers inspired by John 3 in the Bible. Remember that the events described here are in the past. First include a short observation or lesson for each prayer, and then write a personal prayer related to the lesson.” I reviewed the generated text to avoid (or at least minimize) unhelpful or heretical content. I accepted about 90% of GPT‑3’s suggestions on its first pass and regenerated the rest until it gave me something useful. It cost about $150 over six weeks to generate this content, which consists of 71,062 generations and 1.1 million words.”
- This is the same guy who generated the AI Bible artwork I shared recently (these and other experiments of his are available at http://www.openbible.info/labs/).
- What an Overly Pessimistic View of America Gets Wrong (Yascha Mounk interviewing Eboo Patel, Persuasion): “If every institution founded by a faith community in your city disappeared overnight, preschools, hospitals, and universities would be gone. YMCAs would be gone, places where AA groups meet would be gone. Half of your social services would probably be gone. It feels to me that religious identity diversity should be at the center of our national conversation, and I’m curious as to why it’s not.” This conversation is full of wisdom and I highly recommend it.
- People Are Dating All Wrong, According to Data Science (Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, Wired): “Good romantic partners are difficult to predict with data. Desired romantic partners are easy to predict with data. And that suggests that many of us are dating all wrong.”
- From later in the article: “…how a person answered questions about themselves was roughly four times more predictive of their relationship happiness than all the traits of their romantic partner combined.”
- A Crucial Court Case Exposes the Darkness of America’s Worst Industry (David French, The Dispatch): “If someone wanted to create a system that was designed to facilitate the distribution of child pornography, videos of rape and other kinds of abuse, or revenge porn, it would be hard to construct a more efficient system than MindGeek’s. And the sheer amount of MindGeek’s traffic and the volume of the downloads demonstrates that Pornhub and other sites are injecting poison into American life at an industrial scale.”
- A student recommended this piece from a month ago in addition to the above: The Fight to Hold Pornhub Accountable (Sheelah Kolhatkar, The New Yorker): “Pschorr was surprised by the lack of regulation in the U.S. ‘It was always interesting for me as a German to see that, in the U.S., you’d get I.D.’d if you went to a bar, and if you’re not twenty-one you get in big trouble,’ he said. ‘But if you want to consume porn all you have to do is click ‘Yes, I’m 18,’ and you’re in the realm of dirt.’ ” I found this article interesting because it portrays Christians both favorably and unfavorably in short order.
- How Did a Two-Time Killer Get Out to Be Charged Again at Age 83? (Rebecca Davis O’Brien & Ali Watkins, New York Times): “A homeless shelter worker and people close to Ms. Leyden questioned whether, despite her gender identity, Ms. Harvey should have been placed in a homeless shelter for women, given her history of attacking and murdering them.” Read that sentence slowly. Wow. And the last eight paragraphs are jaw dropping.
- A large new study offers clues about how lower-income children can rise up the economic ladder. (David Leonhardt, New York Times): “Churches and other religious organizations may have some lessons to teach other parts of society. Although many churches are socioeconomically homogeneous, those with some diversity tend to foster more cross-class interactions than most other social activities. Churchs [sic] have lower levels of what the researchers call socioeconomic ‘friending bias.’ ”
- Sadly there isn’t more info on the religious dynamic, even though this section of the newsletter is called “How Churches Shine”
- Although this is a NYT piece, it is not paywalled because it is from their morning newsletter.
- Nondenominational Churches Are Adding Millions of Members. Where Are They Coming From? (Ryan P. Burge, Christianity Today): “What is driving the growth of nondenominational churches? While in the past it resulted from a significant portion of individuals leaving a mainline tradition, now it looks like nondenominational congregations are increasing by taking in people who were raised Catholic—which is about a quarter of the general population.”
Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen
- Parenting Techniques (SMBC)
- Happiness (Pearls Before Swine)
- Don’t Look Away! Maxence Vire’s Magic Moves Fast (America’s Got Talent, YouTube): eight minutes. This one has a slow start.
- After Unfortunate Autocorrect Error, Thousands Of Condemned Souls Sent To He’ll (Babylon Bee)
- How Are There Not More Homeless People? (Jason Cheny, YouTube): three minutes
- Mind2Mind’s Psychic Powers Leave The Judges in Shock (America’s Got Talent, YouTube): eight minutes
- BBQ Joint Logos are Out of Control (It’s a Southern Thing, YouTube): four minutes. Something like this has def happened before.
- Zephaniah Tired Of His Parents Asking Why He’s Not A Major Prophet Yet (Babylon Bee)
- If Fast Food Places Could Meet (Matt Mitchell, YouTube): three and a half minutes
Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago
Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have The Problem Isn’t the ‘Merit,’ It’s the ‘Ocracy’ (Tanner Greer, personal blog): “The American system of government was built on the assumption that the most salient political divides would reflect geography, not ideology or class. The senator from Massachusetts would share bonds in common with the lay citizenry of Boston that he did not share with a senator from South Carolina. On the national sphere this would allow him to represent the interests of his constituents as if they were his own. This has proven more true at some times in American history than others; yet because of the way American politicians are elected, this sense of representing the interests of a geographically bounded group of people is more true in the political arena than in most others.” First shared in volume 232
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.