Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 389

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 389, a prime number.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. American Christianity Can Still Come Back (Tim Keller, The Atlantic): “There was no such thing as monasticism—through which pagan Northern Europe was turned Christian—until there was. There was no Reformation until there was. There was no revival that turned Methodists and Baptists into culturally dominant forces in the midwestern and southeastern United States—until there was. There was no East African Revival, led primarily by African people, that helped turn Africa from a 9 percent Christian continent in 1900 into a 50 percent Christian continent today—until there was. Christianity, like its founder, does not go from strength to strength but from death to resurrection.”
  2. Is the Public Domain Just?: Biblical Stewardship and Legal Protection For Traditional Knowledge Assets (Ruth L. Okediji, The Columbia Journal of Law and the Arts): “The Article proposes a theological framework of ‘biblical stewardship’ rooted in imago Dei—the foundational concept informing Jewish and Christian understandings of human nature and social interaction—to address the socio-moral dimensions that are constitutive of TK [traditional knowledge] systems and the institutional context in which they unfold. The biblical stewardship framework focuses on the cooperative and kinship arrangements that enable and sustain productive capacity for TK.”
    • The author is a professor at Harvard Law and a solid Christian. I just heard her speak and the person introducing her mentioned this article as an example of how bold she is in integrating her faith into her scholarship.
  3. Some COVID perspectives
    • Surely Right (Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution): “…the only sensible position is to advocate for early and widespread vaccine access, be highly critical of all the politicking about vaccine timing around the election, and to avoid mandates unless you intend to enforce them at gunpoint.… Because we live in a world where the default is not to vaccinate, politics poisons everything it touches, and the childhood mandates are historical accidents that could very well fall to concerted political action.”
      • A brief, fascinating read.
    • Why the Odds Are Stacked Against a Promising New Covid Drug (Benjamin Mueller, The New York Times): “By fortifying the body’s own mechanisms for quashing an invading virus, they can potentially help defend against not only Covid, but also the flu and other viruses with the potential to kindle future pandemics.… For all of its promise, though, the drug — called pegylated interferon lambda — faces an uncertain road [due to the FDA].”
    • Not paywalled. Infuriating. Outrageous. Ridiculous.
    • Bureaucrats: “COVID is so bad we need to change every aspect of society to deal with it. But don’t change our bureaucracy. It’s not THAT bad.”
  4. Boston University provides update on CTE study, discovers brain disease in 92 percent of ex-NFL players analyzed (Victoria Hernandez, USA Today): “The Boston University CTE Center studied the brains of 376 deceased former NFL players and diagnosed 345 of them with chronic traumatic encephalopathy. This is 91.7 percent of those studied.”
    • I’ve been saying this for about two student generations now, but football’s days are numbered in America. It’s hard to imagine the sport surviving the sorts of reforms that would be necessary.
  5. I Thought I Was Saving Trans Kids. Now I’m Blowing the Whistle. (Jamie Reed, The Free Press): “I am a 42-year-old St. Louis native, a queer woman, and politically to the left of Bernie Sanders.… I’m now married to a trans man, and together we are raising my two biological children from a previous marriage and three foster children we hope to adopt.… Given the secrecy and lack of rigorous standards that characterize youth gender transition across the country, I believe that to ensure the safety of American children, we need a moratorium on the hormonal and surgical treatment of young people with gender dysphoria.”
    • Not surprising if you’ve been following this topic, but depressing and with new anecdotes.
  6. ChatGPT Is a Blurry JPEG of the Web (Ted Chiang, The New Yorker): “Think of ChatGPT as a blurry JPEG of all the text on the Web. It retains much of the information on the Web, in the same way that a JPEG retains much of the information of a higher-resolution image, but, if you’re looking for an exact sequence of bits, you won’t find it; all you will ever get is an approximation. But, because the approximation is presented in the form of grammatical text, which ChatGPT excels at creating, it’s usually acceptable. You’re still looking at a blurry JPEG, but the blurriness occurs in a way that doesn’t make the picture as a whole look less sharp.”
    • This is a good analogy.
  7. A Black Professor Trapped in Anti-Racist Hell (Vincent Lloyd, Compact Magazine): “Each student read from a prepared statement about how the seminar perpetuated anti-black violence in its content and form, how the black students had been harmed, how I was guilty of countless microaggressions, including through my body language, and how students didn’t feel safe because I didn’t immediately correct views that failed to treat anti-blackness as the cause of all the world’s ills.… I am a black professor, I directed my university’s black-studies program, I lead anti-racism and transformative-justice workshops, and I have published books on anti-black racism and prison abolition. I live in a predominantly black neighborhood of Philadelphia, my daughter went to an Afrocentric school, and I am on the board of our local black cultural organization.”
    • The author is a professor at Villanova (which is not, to be clear, the location of this debacle).

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 Unconscious Learning Underlies Belief in God – Stronger Beliefs in People Who Can Unconsciously Predict Complex Patterns (Sci Tech Daily): “Individuals who can unconsciously predict complex patterns, an ability called implicit pattern learning, are likely to hold stronger beliefs that there is a god who creates patterns of events in the universe, according to neuroscientists at Georgetown University.” Shocker: people who see reality clearly are more likely to perceive God’s hand at work in reality. From volume 267.

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.

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