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, the 364th installment, can also be expressed as the sum of consecutive primes: 11 + 13 + 17 + 19 + 23 + 29 + 31 + 37 + 41 + 43 + 47 + 53
Things Glen Found Interesting
- One Manner of Law (Marilynne Robinson, Harpers): “Almost fifty years ago, I learned by pure accident that a code of law was drawn up in Massachusetts in 1641 that substantially anticipated the Bill of Rights. I happened to read a letter to the editor in the New York Times that mentioned the Massachusetts Body of Liberties. I had a PhD by then and was supposedly an Americanist by training, yet I was learning of this for the first time. When I finally read these laws, I wondered why the narrative of American history did not begin with them.”
- The Girls Who Resisted Boko Haram (Jonathon Van Maren, First Things): “While the world demanded their return, the captive girls were under relentless pressure to convert to Islam and marry militants chosen for them. They were threatened with beheading or brutal slavery if they refused. Many of the girls, paralyzed with fear, succumbed. Others buckled under the brainwashing of a militant assigned to inculcate them into the doctrines of Islam. He forced the ‘daughters of infidels’ to take hours-long classes in which they memorized the Quran. The girls were told that if they married, they would receive homes, slaves, and honor. In secret, the girls shared Bible passages and prayed fervently together for strength and rescue. They sang hymns into their hands and cups of water to stifle the sound.”
- Why I Left Academia (Since You’re Wondering) (William Deresiewicz, Quillette): “…it wasn’t so much that I wanted to be treated differently than everybody as that I wanted everybody to be treated differently. I wanted the rules to change; I played by the ones that I thought we should have. I insisted on behaving as if I existed in an environment that valued teaching as much as scholarship and intellectualism as much as specialization. Where opening the eyes of a hundred undergraduates was worth as much as supervising one more dissertation, and publishing an essay in a periodical that’s read by tens of thousands was as valuable as adding one more item to the pile of disregarded studies.” This is quite good, more relevant to the humanities than to the sciences.
- I Didn’t Want It to Be True, but the Medium Really Is the Message (Ezra Klein, New York Times): “Americans are capitalists, and we believe nothing if not that if a choice is freely made, that grants it a presumption against critique. That is one reason it’s so hard to talk about how we are changed by the mediums we use. That conversation, on some level, demands value judgments. This was on my mind recently, when I heard Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist who’s been collecting data on how social media harms teenagers, say, bluntly, ‘People talk about how to tweak it — oh, let’s hide the like counters. Well, Instagram tried — but let me say this very clearly: There is no way, no tweak, no architectural change that will make it OK for teenage girls to post photos of themselves, while they’re going through puberty, for strangers or others to rate publicly.’ ”
- Related: When Bots Write Your Love Story (Samuel D. James, Substack): “That machines are telling us particular stories about our world is one of the main reasons I keep coming back time and again to digital culture, epistemology, and theology. Our default posture toward the Internet is still, to this day, a posture of intuitive belief: to genuinely accept that what we see on the screen is a piece of ‘real life,’ representative of someone who is really somewhere. And in many cases, of course, this is more or less true. But there are also very real cases where the intensity or the vividness of what we see online is disproportionate to its weight or validity outside.”
- Related: Speech Without Accountability: Reckoning with Anonymous Christian Trolls (Patrick Miller, Mere Orthodoxy): “…there is at least one clear analog to anon speech in the Bible that I have not yet touched on: the speech of the serpent in Eden. He was the first character in Genesis to conceal his identity in order to critique a person—God himself. The first anon words in human history set human history on fire.”
- This piece is far too long, rambles needlessly, and at one point says something I think very silly. Nonetheless, I read to the end with interest. The best parts were the reflections on anonymous/disguised speech in the Bible.
- Related: The Seat of Mockers (Brian Mattson, Substack): “The defenders and practitioners of smash-mouth incendiary rhetoric insist that we must do this so as to adequately combat the world and the infiltration of worldliness into the church. It seems to me that in reality, it is the world and the infiltration of worldliness into the church.” This is quite good, and I found it by following a link in the preceding point.
- Some links related to the ongoing sexual revolution, mostly critical:
- Christians Volunteering Pronouns? (Andrew T. Walker, American Reformer): “We should name the pronoun issue for what it is: A language game. Language is about naming reality. Pronouns of any sort are instruments that individuals use to wield power. Pronouns possess power only because the culture we live in deems one’s chosen individual identity to be absolutely central to who one is. Pronouns serve the subjective self, so if one rejects another’s chosen pronouns, it is doubtlessly interpreted as rejecting the person’s attempt at self-description and self-autonomy. That’s what this is all fundamentally about—creating a private field of reality defined by the wishes and fantasies of individuals who know they can provoke submission for fear of cancellation. We should be clear-eyed about this and refuse to go along with it.”
- Zoophilia: The Last Taboo Will Fall (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “Seriously, how do you stop legalizing zoophilia, especially in a popular culture in which internal barriers within the masses will have been broken down by widespread hardcore pornography? ‘What does my neighbor’s habit of being cornholed by his German shepherd have to do with my marriage?’ say the nitwit libertarians. ‘Animals can’t consent!’ squeal the nitwit liberals, though I hope they have the sense not to say so with their mouth full of ham.”
- This is a well-documented piece and the updates at the end are very much worth reading, especially the Scalia quote.
- I Regret Being A Slut (Bridget Phetasy, Substack): “I know regretting most of my sexual encounters is not something a sex-positive feminist who used to write a column for Playboy is supposed to admit. And for years, I didn’t. Let me be clear, being a ‘slut’ and sleeping with a lot of men is not the only behavior I regret. Even more damaging was what I told myself in order to justify the fact that I was disposable to these men: I told myself I didn’t care. I didn’t care when a man ghosted me. I didn’t care when he left in the middle of the night or hinted that he wanted me to leave. The walks of shame. The blackouts. The anxiety. The lie I told myself for decades was: I’m not in pain—I’m empowered. Looking back, it isn’t a surprise that I lied to myself. Because from a young age, sex was something I was lied to about.” This is in no way a Christian article — but it is interesting.
- Monkeypox And The Face Of Gay Promiscuity (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “I remember being told by the media that gay men were vastly more promiscuous than straight men because society compelled them to be. Normalize homosexuality and grant same-sex marriage, and that would change. I never believed it because I knew perfectly well that gay men were insanely promiscuous not because they were gay, but because they were men. An ordinary male unrestrained by religious or moral scruple, and faced with a wide variety of willing partners who demand no emotional commitment, or even to know one’s name, before having sex — that man will likely behave exactly as most gay men do.”
- WARNING — the picture in the link is jarring. The comments at the end are quite interesting and not at all what most observers would expect — Dreher really does appreciate his audience even when they disagree with him.
- ‘Disturbing’: Experts troubled by Canada’s euthanasia laws (Maria Cheng, Washington Post): “Canada prides itself on being liberal and accepting, said David Jones, director of the Anscombe Bioethics Centre in Britain, ‘but what’s happening with euthanasia suggests there may be a darker side.’”
- As India marks its first 75 years, Gandhi is downplayed, even derided (Gerry Shih, Washington Post): “Today, at rallies of Hindu nationalist hard-liners, Gandhi is routinely vilified as feeble in his tactics against the British and overly conciliatory to India’s Muslims, who broke off and formed their own state, Pakistan, on Aug. 14, 1947. On social media and online forums, exaggerations and falsehoods abound about Gandhi’s alleged betrayal of Hindus. And in popular films and the political mainstream, Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru — the first prime minister — are sidelined, while nationalists who advocated the force of arms have been elevated.”
Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen
- Things At Church Can Get Pretty Wild. (YouTube): four amusing minutes
- Chip To Control Brains (Dilbert)
- Weak Christian Needs Bible Tabs To Find Habakkuk (Babylon Bee)
- giving snakes there legs back (Allen Pan, YouTube): ten minutes of some guy trying to undo the curse in Genesis. Entertaining and absurd, mild language warning. Warning: if he gives it a voice as well, don’t listen to what it says. Typo in original.
- Heaven (Pearls Before Swine) — bad but amusing theology
- Church Puzzled By Low Attendance At Its ‘Sit Around and Talk About Your Feelings’ Men’s Conference (Babylon Bee)
- The Overthinking Song — “If You’re Happy And You Know It” Parody (Holderness Family, YouTube): three minutes of song plus some random talking at the end
Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago
Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have Having Kids (Paul Graham, personal blog): “I remember perfectly well what life was like before. Well enough to miss some things a lot, like the ability to take off for some other country at a moment’s notice. That was so great. Why did I never do that? See what I did there? The fact is, most of the freedom I had before kids, I never used. I paid for it in loneliness, but I never used it.” First shared in volume 233.
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.