Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 369

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 post 369, which I like simply because 3+6=9.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The Sugar Babies of Stanford University (Nicola Buskirk, Substack): “But decades after the unwinding of America’s traditional sexual mores, no new morality has clearly emerged, and young people increasingly find themselves navigating a culture of sexual anarchy, in which — provided an act is consensual — there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong.’ Such thinking has brought us inevitably to the rise of OnlyFans, the normalization of sex work, and the curious story of Stanford University’s sugar babies.”
    • A curious story indeed!
  2. Wikipedia Is Making Us More Political (Samuel D. James, Substack): “There is simply no parallel to this with any other period of media history; the digital age is the very first to say that we should have access to a repository of a person’s most controversial sentences, permanently accessible through their biographical data.… All of these examples amplify the role of politics in culture, by making partisan opinions a vital part of a person’s biographical data. There is no distinction any more between the person who, through their vocational or personal choices, decides to become a political figure, and the person who is perceived as political. What we know about the one is pretty much what we know about the other. Thus, hyper-politicization of everything feels much more normal.”
  3. So you haven’t caught COVID yet. Does that mean you’re a superdodger? (Michaeleen Doucleff, NPR): “Your immune response and these T cells fire up much more quickly [than in a person without the HLA mutation],” Hollenbach says. “So for lack of a better term, you basically nuke the infection before you even start to have symptoms.… It’s definitely luck,” she says. “But, you know, this mutation is quite common. We estimate that maybe 1 in 10 people have it. And in people who are asymptomatic, that rises to 1 in 5.”
    • Related: The COVID-19 pandemic feels over but is not actually over. (Dan Drezner, Substack): “For the time being I will still mask at airports and on airplanes and occasionally in very large indoor gatherings. Other than that, I’m done. I am vaccinated, boosted and had COVID-19 earlier this year, so the prospect of contracting it again seems both less likely and less scary. The thing is, I confess to being unsure whether I have made the right probability calculations.” The author is a professor of international politics at Tufts.
  4. Why Is The Central Valley So Bad? (Scott Alexander, Astral Codex Ten): “A short drive through [the Central Valley] is enough to notice poverty, decay, and homeless camps worse even than the rest of California. But I didn’t realize how bad it was until reading this piece on the San Joaquin River. It claims that if the Central Valley were its own state, it would be the poorest in America, even worse than Mississippi. This was kind of shocking. I always think of Mississippi as bad because of a history of racial violence, racial segregation, and getting burned down during the Civil War. But the Central Valley has none of those things, plus it has extremely fertile farmland, plus it’s in one of the richest states of the country and should at least get good subsidies and infrastructure. How did it get so bad?”
  5. Coverage of churches:
    • Doug Wilson in Idaho:
      1. Pastor Seeks To Make Moscow, Idaho A ‘Christian Town’  (NBC News, YouTube): twelve minutes.
      2. What NBC Didn’t Show You (Douglas Wilson, YouTube): Wilson’s response video, four and a half minutes.
      3. NBC News Lends a Hand (Douglas Wilson, personal blog): “As I have said elsewhere, I am grateful that it was not a hit piece—they let both sides talk, in other words. It was even-handed in that way. At the same time, it was clear that what we were saying must have sounded something like Middle Klingon to them, and this of course affects the editing process.”
    • Gracepoint at Berkeley:
      1. The Ungodly Surveillance of Anti-Porn ‘Shameware’ Apps (Dhruv Mehrotra, Wired): “At its most basic level, the idea is pretty straightforward: Why would anyone watch porn if they are going to have to talk to their parents or pastor about it?… The trouble is, according to Hao-Wei Lin, providing his church leader with a ledger of everything he did online meant his pastor could always find something to ask him about, and the way Covenant Eyes flagged content didn’t help. For example, in Covenant Eyes reports that Hao-Wei Lin shared with WIRED, his online psychiatry textbook was rated ‘Highly Mature,’ the most severe category of content reserved for ‘anonymizers, nudity, erotica, and pornography.’ ”
      2. At Gracepoint Ministries, ‘Whole-Life Discipleship’ Took Its Toll (Curtis Yee, Christianity Today): “Thirty-two former Gracepoint members who spoke with Christianity Today for this story described a culture that was ‘controlling’ and ‘coercive’ for the sake of ministry efficiency. Members said they were manipulated into confessing sins, screamed at by leaders, and overloaded with obligations to the point of illness. To keep members focused on mission work, Gracepoint effectively restricted dating, media consumption, and pet ownership. Leaders directed staff on how to arrange their homes, where to shop for clothes, and what cars to drive.”
  6. Rich Mullins: Ragamuffin, Celebrity, Disciple (Bethel McGrew, Plough): “You might have called him a frustrated struggling artist: a successful artist who never wanted to succeed. When Myrrh records first called to say Amy Grant wanted to record his song ‘Sing Your Praise to the Lord,’ he nearly hung up. But it would be a hit, the first of many. He wrote naturally to the people, complementing his poetic lyricism with a good pop writer’s ear for how to convey profound ideas simply. His arrangements were an eclectic fusion of pop and folk, most famously introducing radio to his signature instrument, the hammered dulcimer. This was the secret sauce that made hit singles out of songs like the atmospheric Western nature poem ‘Calling Out Your Name’ – a tune which, by all the rules of hit singles, should never even have been on the air. As one fan put it, Mullins was weird, but he was also so good that radio had to play him.”
    • Mullins was unique and brilliant and I am still sad he is dead. He was before your time, so I doubt you will believe me when I say that he by himself outweighed the entire Christian music industry that you have been exposed to. But he was that good. It was more than his music. It was his life.

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: On Killing Human Monsters (Mark LiVecchi, Providence): “‘The internal condition of God’s external expression of wrath,’ writes the theologian and rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, ‘is grief.’ To the best I can deduce, therein is communicated the complex disposition of the just warrior.… I do not rejoice that I worship a God who kills. I only rejoice that I worship a God who is willing to.” From volume 236.

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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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