Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 404

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 404, which makes me happy that I’ve finally found it. If you know, you know.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Two articles for spiritual growth, both recommended by a student.
    • Roast What You Kill: Becoming a Man Who Follows Through (Greg Morse, Desiring God): “What a strange picture. The man woke up early. He prepared his tools. He lay in wait. He acted deliberately, forcefully. He took the prize, brought home the meat — but never cooked it. Perhaps he decided he had worked hard enough for one day. Perhaps he realized just how tired he felt. His enthusiasm died before the meal was prepared. He labored promisingly, for a time. He remained focused, for a while. His was hard but unfinished work. In the end, his plate is just as empty as that of the other sluggard, waking at his return.”
      • Recommended by a student who notes: “The author focuses on men, but I think a lot of his points apply to women too.”
    • 3 Reasons We Avoid Evangelism (Matt Smethurst, Gospel Coalition): “In a post-Christian age, we can’t presume any basic assumptions in those we’re trying to reach with the gospel. So we must take care to lean in and listen well, to climb into our neighbor’s way of seeing and inhabiting the world. Otherwise, we’ll be speaking about terms—even biblical ones—that’ll be simply misunderstood or rejected outright. ‘God loves you’ is great news, but meaningless if you don’t understand the nature of God (or for that matter, love).”
      • Recommended by the very same student
  2. Why this Jew is binge-watching The Chosen (and maybe you should too) (Faydra Shapiro. The Times of Israel): “I wish that Jews could understand that the New Testament is thoroughly Jewish – replete with Jewish categories and Jewish practices, Jewish controversies, Jewish scripture, and brimming with Jews – I think we could reclaim some of our own history. Because let’s face it, if we want to understand something about the Judaism of our ancestors in this specific period, the New Testament has some real value. And if Jews could feel more comfortable with the New Testament as comprising an important piece of Jewish cultural literature, we might be able to engage more deeply together as Jews and Christians.”
    • I’ve met Faydra twice and will probably meet her again this summer on the Passages trip.
  3. What Christian Nationalism Has Done to My State and My Faith Is a Sin (Susan Stubson, New York Times): “I am adrift in this unnamed sea, untethered from both my faith community and my political party as I try to reconcile evangelicals’ repeated endorsements of candidates who thumb their noses at the least of us. Christians are called to serve God, not a political party, to put our faith in a higher power, not in human beings. We’re taught not to bow to false idols. Yet idolatry is increasingly prominent and our foundational principles — humility, kindness and compassion — in short supply.”
    • A good read. Unlocked.
  4. When the Therapeutic God Isn’t Sufficient (John Carpenter, Mere Orthodoxy): “God’s people have to endure the catastrophes of the world. We can protest ‘it’s not fair, why should we taste the wormwood and the gall when we didn’t do what brought about the judgment?’ But it happens. People live materialistically, taking loans they can’t pay, getting houses too expensive for them. It’s greed; it’s materialism. Then the economy crashes, like it did in 2008. Is it only the greedy and materialistic who suffer? No. Many are swept along into unemployment and bankruptcy. Ethiopia made some horrible economic and political choices in the twentieth century. One result was that our daughter died and there was blood everywhere.”
    • This is quite good.
  5. The Price of Pot (Aaron Renn, Institute for Family Studies): “According to a new study from Columbia University researchers, recreational pot use in teens is associated with increased depression and increased suicidal thoughts. It’s also associated with higher levels of truancy and fighting, as well as lower grade point averages. It’s important to note that this study zeroed in on non-abusive recreational use, excluding people that researchers identified as having a drug problem.”
  6. I taught in San Francisco. Children are trained to be offended (James Vescovi, Newsweek): “The city’s troubles are in large part due to a mindset that seems to pervade life and that I encountered in schools, where I was a high school teacher. In a nutshell, adults are afraid to offend, while children seem trained to be offended.”
    • Recommended by a student. A different student, for those keeping track at home.
  7. Yet more praise for Tim Keller
    • 5 ways Tim Keller was the anti-celebrity celebrity pastor (Katelyn Beaty, Substack): “This might sound insulting, but I mean it in the best way: Tim Keller didn’t lead with his looks. His appearance and dress were pleasant, and pleasantly unremarkable. I loved this anecdote from Tyler Huckabee, that Keller declined doing a photoshoot for a magazine profile. (Free makeover and glossy images? Sign me up!) Huckabee said Keller just didn’t seem interested. Another way of saying this: Keller valued substance over style. He didn’t need to be dressed in luxury clothing for New Yorkers to find his message compelling.”
    • A Tale of Two New York City Pastors (Kara Bettis Carvalho, Christianity Today): “[In college I attended both Redeemer and Hillsong and] it was hard to miss the stark differences between both churches and their leaders: One formed me. The other entertained me.… The nefarious truth is that we, too, are often responsible for creating celebrity pastors. In college, was I hungry for Scripture and gospel-centered community? Yes. Was I also willing to be emotionally titillated, spiritually distracted and even entertained, and looking for a place to belong? Also, yes.”
    • The Far-Seeing Faith of Tim Keller (Michael Luo, New Yorker): “His limited preaching experience, in a small-town church in the Bible Belt, made him an unlikely fit for New York City. Within three years of its founding, however, Redeemer had swelled from fifty people to a thousand. By the mid-aughts, it had become a beacon, around the world, for pastors interested in ministering to cosmopolitan audiences. Unlike many suburban megachurches, with their soft-rock praise bands and user-friendly sermons, Redeemer’s services were almost defiantly staid, featuring traditional hymns and liturgy. But the sermons were wry and erudite, filled with literary allusions and philosophical references, and Keller was shrewd about urging his congregants to examine their ‘counterfeit gods’—their pursuit of totems like power, status, and wealth, which the city encouraged.”
    • Tim Keller Lives (Marvin Olasky, Religion and Liberty Online): “I had one-to-one talks with Keller only three times, so I hope you’ll read elsewhere about his influence via friendships. My wife and I did listen in person to his sermons from 2008 to 2011, and at first we did so anxiously. Listening to how he handled difficult Bible passages was like watching a shortstop ranging far to his right on a hard-hit ball: Will he be able to reach it? He has. He’s on the outfield grass: How can he possibly throw out the runner at first? He just did.”
      • As a preacher, I want to highlight this. Keller’s preaching was extraordinary. Listening to him preach was like watching a gold medalist compete. No. That’s not right, because listening to preaching isn’t passive. Listening to him preach was like being in the ring with a champion — when you weren’t busy getting pummeled you were in awe of his skill.
    • What Has Trump Cost American Christianity? (Ross Douhat, New York Times): “When religious conservatism made its peace with Donald Trump in 2016, the fundamental calculation was that the benefits of political power — or, alternatively, of keeping cultural liberalism out of full political power — outweighed the costs to Christian credibility inherent in accepting a heathen figure as a political champion and leader. The contrary calculation, made by the Christian wing of Never Trump, was that accepting Trump required moral compromises that American Christianity would ultimately suffer for, whatever Supreme Court seats or policy victories religious conservatives might gain.”
      • Does not go where you expect — this is actually an interesting reflection on Tim Keller. Recommended.

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 Great Unraveling (Bari Weiss, Substack): “I don’t know the answer. But I know that you have to be sort of strange to stand apart and refuse to join Team Red or Team Blue. These strange ones are the ones who think that political violence is wrong, that mob justice is never just and the presumption of innocence is always right. These are the ones who are skeptical of state and corporate power, even when it is clamping down on people they despise.” From volume 284.

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