Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 388

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 388, which has 97 as one of its prime factors. I just think that’s cool.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Be Open to Spiritual Experience. Also, Be Really Careful. (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “But precisely because an attitude of spiritual experimentation is reasonable, it’s also important to emphasize something taught by almost every horror movie but nonetheless skated over in a lot of American spirituality: the importance of being really careful in your openness, and not just taking the beneficence of the metaphysical realm for granted. If the material universe as we find it is beautiful but also naturally perilous, and shot through with sin and evil wherever human agency is at work, there is no reason to expect that any spiritual dimension would be different — no reason to think that being a ‘psychonaut’ is any less perilous than being an astronaut, even if the danger takes a different form.””
    • Douthat speaking a rare type of truth at the New York Times.
    • Dreher responds to Douthat’s column and goes much deeper: Psychonauts, Plinths, & Re-Paganizing Pop Culture (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “Douthat is emphatically correct that one should be extremely careful about this stuff. There is no reason at all to believe that the spiritual realm is benign.”
  2. Layoffs Broke Big Tech’s Elite College Hiring Pipeline (Anna Kramer, Wired): “…the fact that layoffs haven’t excluded the graduates of the top schools cleanly illustrates an argument that labor experts, computer science professors, and unions have been trying to make for years: The skills required for most of the jobs that power these larger institutions do not actually require degrees from the world’s premier computer science programs. If they did, Meta would hardly have choked off the internship pipeline it had spent years building, risking losing the trust of a generation of elite college graduates.”
  3. On Scientific Transparency, Researcher Degrees Of Freedom, And That NEJM Study On Youth Gender Medicine (Jesse Singal, Substack): “If you compare that to the protocol document, you’ll notice that of the eight key variables the researchers were most interested in — ‘gender dysphoria, depression, anxiety, trauma symptoms, self-injury, suicidality, body esteem, and quality of life’ — the ones I bolded are not reported in the NEJM paper. That’s six out of eight, or 75% of the variables covered by the researchers’ hypothesis in their protocol document (including the ‘officially’ preregistered shorter version).”
    • Emphasis in original. This is thorough. Singal is really, really good at this. I hate to say that I am instinctively skeptical of academic studies when they touch on human sexuality, but I am. It’s stuff like this over and over again.
  4. Pentecostalism from soup to nuts: A (near) complete history of this movement in America (Julia Duin, GetReligion): “Without a doubt, the portion of Christianity known as Pentecostalism was — by far — the fastest-growing movement of the 20th century, going from zero members on Jan. 1, 1901 to 644 million adherents worldwide now. It is the primary expression of Christianity in the Global South. It is the one form of Christianity to mount a serious challenge to the growth of Islam, mainly because of its appeal to the very poor and its reliance on the miraculous.”
  5. Why Not Mars (Maciej Cegłowski, personal website): “When the great moment finally came, and the astronauts had taken their first Martian selfie, strict mission rules meant to prevent contamination and minimize risk would leave the crew dependent on the same robots they’d been sent at enormous cost to replace. Only the microbes that lived in the spacecraft, uninformed of the mission rules, would be free to go wander outside. They would become the real explorers of Mars, and if their luck held, its first colonists.”
    • This is really well-written!
  6. Misinformation on Misinformation: Conceptual and Methodological Challenges (Sacha Altay, Manon Berriche, & Alberto Acerbi, Social Media + Society): “…the internet is not rife with misinformation or news, but with memes and entertaining content.… people do not believe everything they see on the internet: the sheer volume of engagement should not be conflated with belief.”
    • From the abstract. The authors are at Oxford, Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques, and Brunel.
  7. As Refugees Flood Into U.S., Chinese Christians Told To Wait (Susan Crabtree, RealClearPolitics): “The United States could grant the church members immediate emergency asylum, as it has done for tens of thousands of Ukrainians fleeing their war-ravaged country and the first group of Afghans airlifted into the United States amid the chaotic U.S. evacuation in August 2021. Just this month, President Biden announced plans to allow Venezuelans, Nicaraguans, and Cubans fleeing persecution priority asylum status as long as they arrived by plane and had private sponsors ready to help them resettle. When it comes to Chinese Christians trapped in limbo, the Biden administration is balking, while offering no explanation for the dramatically different treatment of these groups of foreign nationals seeking asylum. Human rights advocates believe they already have the answer: The Biden administration is wary of further rocking the boat with China amid efforts to repair basic lines of communication.”

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 The particle collection that fancied itself a physicist (Ed Feser, personal blog): “Democritus’s point is that if the atomist says both that atoms are all that exist and that color, sweetness, etc. and the other qualities of conscious experience are not to be found in the atoms, then we have a paradox.” From volume 264.

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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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