Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 372

On Fridays (apparently some Saturdays) 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 372, a number I think is cool because it can be expressed as the sum of successive primes: 31 + 37 + 41 + 43 + 47 + 53 + 59 + 61 = 372.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. How Convenient, That Kanye West’s Behavior Could Not Possibly Be Influenced by His Mental Illness (Freddie deBoer, Substack): “Two things I really hate: morals of convenience and false friends. The types of people who say ‘mental illness doesn’t do that’ are the types to profess support for those with psychiatric disorders, but only when it’s easy, when the mentally ill are doing the socially approved things like talking to themselves on the subway. Which of course means that they are no friend to the mentally ill at all; support only means something when it comes at a cost.”
    • Somewhat related: How Kanye West’s Breakdown Makes Sense of Our Social Crisis (Russell Moore, Christianity Today): “Instability from this artist is hardly surprising. Several years ago, I noted that I was worried for the rapper—not because of his mental health challenges but because of what American evangelicals often do to celebrities who profess faith. Too often we claim them as, at best, mascots for ‘our side’ and, at worst, as trophies from the culture wars. Over and over, the church has expected things from these figures that they do not have the maturity, wisdom, or even stability to handle.”
  2. Review: When Narcissism Comes to Church (Samuel D. James, Substack): “But this book makes a monumental decision: a decision to put the Bible’s moral language to the side, to call a disorder what the Bible calls sin, to call self-actualization what the Bible calls repentance. This book’s aversion to biblical categories does not empower readers to confront spiritually abusive systems. It instead makes those systems harder to disrupt.”
    • This is an outstanding book review that puts its finger on a problem I frequently notice — when we disregard Biblical analysis we make it needlessly hard to bring Biblical solutions to bear.
  3. The Woman Who Gave the World a Thousand Names for God (Jordan K. Monson, Christianity Today): “Has there been a single translator in church history with Barnwell’s sway? We could talk about Jerome and his Latin Vulgate, used by the Roman Catholic Church as its principal translation for over 1,500 years. There was Luther and his German-language Bible. There was England’s King James I, if you credit him for commissioning his KJV—or William Tyndale if you feel like the KJV was mostly cribbed from his work.” The claim feels like hyperbole until you read the article. Wowsers. What a legacy!
  4. How California’s Bullet Train Went Off the Rails (Ralph Vartabedian, New York Times): “ ‘There were so many things that went wrong,’ Mr. McNamara said. ‘[The rail company] was very angry. They told the state they were leaving for North Africa, which was less politically dysfunctional. They went to Morocco and helped them build a rail system.’ Morocco’s bullet train started service in 2018.”
  5. 10 Affirmations and Denials on Ethnic Harmony, Justice, and the Church (Justin Taylor, The Gospel Coalition): “We simply cannot allow politics or secular culture to define our terms or determine our beliefs. Jesus puts his finger on ethnic harmony and says, ‘Mine.’ Therefore, the aim of these affirmations and denials is to rightly represent the voice of Jesus Christ. The One who designed ethnic diversity has unparalleled authority and has the final word on the whole issue.”
    • Somewhat related: The Placebo Of Affirmative Action (Andrew Sullivan, Substack): “A recent David Shor analysis found that, among Democratic policies, affirmative action was among the most unpopular — with even less support than ‘defund the police.’ More tangibly: on the nine occasions the policy has been put to the electoral test since 1996, it has lost eight times, most recently in super-liberal California in 2020.”
  6. Three Paradoxes of Atheism (Neil Shenvi, personal website): “Historically, one of the most attractive features of atheism has been its claim to stark realism. No matter how unappealing a godless universe may turn out to be, atheists claim to be committed to adhering to the truth at all costs. However, in this essay I would like to show that at the very heart of atheism are several extremely unexpected paradoxes, areas in which atheism is shown to be in tension with a commitment to realism and a life consistent with truth.” Recommended by a student.
  7. Spread of Catholic hospitals limits reproductive care across the U.S. (Frances Stead Sellers and Meena Venkataramanan, Washington Post): “Catholic systems now control about 1 in 7 U.S. hospital beds, requiring religious doctrine to guide treatment, often to the surprise of patients.”
    • The above article annoyed me and I was pleased to see this response: As Washington Post targets Catholic hospitals, every religious institution needs to build defenses (Timothy P. Carney, Washington Examiner):  “These journalists write as if the baseline is total acceptance of abortion, gay marriage, and transgender ideology and that the scary new thing is the religious hospitals or teachings that have been around for centuries or millennia. ‘Spread of Catholic hospitals’ is a funny headline because Catholics were the ones who invented hospitals. If you wanted to write a trend piece, you should really write about the spread of laws and lawsuits threatening Catholic hospitals, which are actually new.”

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 Is Joshua’s Altar on Mount Ebal in Israel Myth? Or Reality? (Ralph Hawkins, Logos): “When I was working on my doctoral dissertation about the Ebal site, I spent a week with Zertal. One morning while we were driving to the site, he told me his critics had accused him of trying to prove the Bible. They said he imposed a cultic interpretation onto the stone structure he had found. He explained, though, that he had been born and raised in Ein Shemer, Israeli kibbutz that was affiliated with a secular movement. He said he had grown up believing that the Bible was full of myths. When he did his graduate work in archaeology, he did it at Tel Aviv, the most liberal university in Israel, where those views were reinforced. He insisted he had not embarked on his excavation at Mount Ebal in order to prove the Bible. What he found there, however, had a profound effect on him. He said, ‘I became a believer at Mount Ebal.’” I love stories like this. Archaeology and the Bible is fascinating to me. From volume 243.

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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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