Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 399

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 399, a Harshad number. That means it is divisible by the sum of its digits. 3+9+9=21 and 399÷21 = 19.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Science is a strong-link problem (Adam Mastroianni, Substack): “There are two kinds of problems in the world: strong-link problems and weak-link problems. Weak-link problems are problems where the overall quality depends on how good the worst stuff is. You fix weak-link problems by making the weakest links stronger, or by eliminating them entirely.… Science is a strong-link problem. In the long run, the best stuff is basically all that matters, and the bad stuff doesn’t matter at all.”
    • Highly recommended, has application to multiple domains.
  2. The Myth of Sexual Experience (Jason S. Carroll & Brian J. Willoughby, Institute for Family Studies): “…we review a series of recent studies using different national datasets that show that having multiple sexual partners during the dating years leads to higher divorce rates in future marriages. We also report the findings of a new study that examined how sexual experience histories are associated with the quality of current marriage relationships. Overall, we found that ‘sexually inexperienced’ individuals, or the ones who have only had sex with their spouse, are the one’s mostly likely to be flourishing in marriage.  These ‘sexually inexperienced’ individuals report the highest levels of relationship satisfaction, relationship stability, sexual satisfaction, and emotional closeness with their spouses.”
    • The article ends with this wonderful line: “While the benefit of experience can be seen in many aspects of life, sexual inexperience appears to still be the best pathway to marital flourishing.”
    • The authors are professors at BYU.
  3. The Toxic Reality of a Post-Familial Society (Aaron M. Renn, Substack): “South Korea is a particularly interesting case study. It has the world’s lowest fertility rate, with a total fertility rate or TFR of 0.78 (2.1 is needed just to keep population constant). It has also developed particularly unhealthy gender relations, elements of which we see echoed in our own country. As here, these have even started to carry over into politics. What we see in South Korea is that post-familialism can produce unhappiness and dysfunctional social and political dynamics.”
    • Related: Stop Treating Women Like Men (Sophie Fujiwara, Stanford Review): “In college, we don’t differentiate between men and women when advising students about their careers, as if their life arcs will follow the same trajectory. The greatest privilege that high-earning, educated women have is the privilege of choice, but this notion of perfectly equal career trajectories disadvantages women.”
  4. When Ideology Drives Social Science (Michael Jindra & Arthur Sakamoto, The Chronicle of Higher Education): “In complex areas like the study of racial inequality, a fundamentalism has taken hold that discourages sound methodology and the use of reliable evidence about the roots of social problems. We are not talking about mere differences in interpretation of results, which are common. We are talking about mistakes so clear that they should cause research to be seriously questioned or even disregarded. A great deal of research… rigs its statistical methods in order to arrive at ideologically preferred conclusions.”
    • The authors are a cultural anthropologist at BU and a sociologist at Hong Kong Baptist University, respectively.
  5. I was a teenage evangelical missionary (Jon Ward, Yahoo News): “These leaders wanted a muscular faith that didn’t shrink back from a fight. They wanted a dramatic faith too, full of spectacle. They were all big personalities, which they used to compensate for their lack of training, expertise, and experience. Faith, for them, was not the act of extending one’s self beyond the realm of what could be known to trust in what one hoped could be true. They had more certainty than anything. Christianity was true, no questions asked. For them, faith was a belief that they could call down miracles from heaven to heal the sick or predict the future or change world events. Leaders like Engle and Ahn didn’t come across as charlatans. They were very sincere. But early on in their lives, they got locked into a particular type of faith ministry, and they built audiences and followings based on that brand and that kind of faith. At that point, their livelihoods and incomes became dependent on catering to those same types of Christians. Personal evolution or growth became constrained by their business model.”
  6. Something interesting is happening in Tulsa (Trevor Klee, Substack): “I visited Tulsa through Tulsa Tomorrow, a program that flies out young Jews to Tulsa for a weekend to try to get them to live there. So far, from their own numbers, they’ve flown out about 150 Jews over the last 6 years and about 70–80 have moved.”
    • A fascinating story, not very long.
  7. A Radical Experiment in Mental Health Care, Tested Over Centuries (Matina Stevis-Gridneff and Koba Ryckewaert, New York Times): “By the end of the 19th century, nearly 2,000 [people with mental health problems] lived among the Geelians, as the locals call themselves.… That has made Geel both something of a model for a particular paradigm of psychiatric care and an outlier, often regarded over the centuries with suspicion (including by The New York Times, which, in a headline from March 23, 1891, called Geel ‘a colony where lunatics live with peasants’ that had been ‘productive of misery and evil results’).”
    • Recommended by a student.

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 Q: What Is a Hole? A: We’re Not Sure! (Jason Kottke, personal website): “As for straws — reason tells me they only have one hole but I know in my heart they have two.”  From volume 276.

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.

Leave a Reply