Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 411

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 411, which is the number you used to dial to get directory assistance from the phone company. It’s now slang for information, so an eminently appropriate number for today’s compilation.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. This roundup has more spiritually enriching content than usual.
    • The Shepherd Boy Who Wasn’t (Jordan K. Monson, Christianity Today): “If we stick only to the ‘God can use anyone’ reading of David’s origin story, we celebrate God’s elevation of the overlooked and risk missing God’s clear warning to the elevated: It can happen to you. But if we see David for who he really was, we realize that every great man or woman who rises to power in the church is only one rooftop stroll away from a David-sized crash.”
      • I have unlocked this article. It’s longer than it needs to be, but good. The author is a professor of Old Testament at Huntington University.
    • Fearing God as Sons, Not Slaves (Ben Edwards, Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary): “This distinction is perhaps most clearly seen in Exodus 20: ‘And all the people were watching and hearing the thunder and the lightning flashes, and the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it all, they trembled and stood at a distance. 19 Then they said to Moses, ‘Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but do not have God speak to us, or we will die!’ However, Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you will not sin.’’ Moses tells Israel: ‘Don’t be afraid, but fear.’ The Israelites were tempted to cower in terror as they beheld God’s majesty. But the fear they truly needed was one that would lead them to avoid sin.”
      • Emphasis in original
    • Why I Gave Up Drinking (Sarah Bessey, Relevant Magazine): “I think that conviction has gotten a bit of a bad rap in the Church over the past little while. It’s understandable. We have an overcorrection to a lot of the legalism and boundary-marker Christianity that damaged so many, the behaviour modification and rule-making and imposition of other people’s convictions onto our own souls. But in our steering away from legalism, I wonder if we left the road to holiness or began to forget that God also cares about what we do and how we do it and why.”
      • From last year, but was just recommended to me by a friend. It’s good.
    • Why Do We Go to Church? (Mike Glenn, Substack): “Why do so many of us who claim to be Christians never attend church? I know everyone has their reasons, but here’s the hard truth: Jesus loves the church. He gave His life for the church. Jesus considers the church to be His bride. I don’t care how close you are to Jesus, you can’t tell Him His wife is ugly. If we love Jesus, then we love His church. If you don’t love the church, then there’s reason to question if you love Jesus.”
    • Rapture (Precept Austin): “In our day, the Rapture has come under attack by many. Some think it represents the novel teachings of ‘defeatist Christians.’ Others think it is pure fantasy. Still others seem to savor the idea of the Church going through the events of the Tribulation in order to ‘prove her metal’ or refine her. We find it difficult to understand why there is such opposition by Christians to the idea that the bridegroom would come for His bride prior to pouring forth His wrath (John 14:1–3)?”
      • Recommended by a student and I quite liked this one. I’m pretty familiar with the arguments in favor of a pretribulational rapture (a position I myself hold), but there was stuff in here that was new to me.
  2. Why Match School And Student Rank? (Scott Alexander, Astral Codex Ten): “…elite colleges are machines for laundering privilege. That is: Harvard accepts (let’s say) 75% smart/talented people, and 25% rich/powerful people. This is a good deal for both sides. The smart people get to network with elites, which is the first step to becoming elite themselves. And the rich people get mixed in so thoroughly with a pool of smart/talented people that everyone assumes they must be smart/talented themselves. After all, they have a degree from Harvard!”
  3. A Church’s Quest for Enchantment (Maggie Phllips, Tablet): “[Pentecostalism] began in the 19th century, with the parallel development throughout the Anglosphere of a grassroots spiritual enthusiasm grounded in personal experience. Its theology is rooted in history both ancient and more contemporary: a key event in the Christian Bible’s Book of the Acts of the Apostles, as well as the theology of John Wesley, who is recognized as the father of Methodism. In the U.S., its catalyst is usually identified as a religious revival movement that began in Los Angeles in 1906; over a century later, it still enjoys a widespread presence in the U.S., and is a rapidly growing global phenomenon.”
    • This is actually a pretty good overview of Pentecostal Christianity for a secular audience. She gets a few details wrong, but overall this is solid.
  4. The Church in a Time of Gender War (Samuel D. James, Substack): “What I am saying is that I now believe most evangelical churches should look at their single members with both eyes open: an appreciation for the wonderful potential of their season of life, but also a desire and strategy, as the Lord permits, to find ways to get these people Christian spouses. In other words, I don’t think we should fear admitting that marriage is, in the majority of situations we will come across, preferable to singleness.”
    • Some people think I emphasize romance too much. I actually wonder if I emphasize it too little.
    • Also, not reflected in the excerpt but very much at the heart of the piece is the author’s concern that men and women in our culture are collectively believing the worst of each other and assuming the answer is for the other gender to become more like them. He’s getting at something real here. I think Chi Alpha has a healthier dating culture than other places at Stanford, and I still see the tendencies James critiques in this piece in members of our community.
    • Men are awesome. Women are awesome. You should probably want to get married. Which means you should probably go on dates.
  5. Men are lost. Here’s a map out of the wilderness. (Christine Emba, Washington Post): “To the extent that any vision of ‘nontoxic’ masculinity is proposed, it ends up sounding more like stereotypical femininity than anything else: Guys should learn to be more sensitive, quiet and socially apt, seemingly overnight.… I’m convinced that men are in a crisis. And I strongly suspect that ending it will require a positive vision of what masculinity entails that is particular — that is, neither neutral nor interchangeable with femininity. Still, I find myself reluctant to fully articulate one. There’s a reason a lot of the writing on the crisis in masculinity ends at the diagnosis stage.”
    • Unlocked. Solid overall but amusingly clueless at a few points. 
    • Related, although the author disclaims it: Fighting (Marc Andreesen, Substack): “At a private conference this week, I was asked what I think of Mark Zuckerberg’s recent Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) training, Elon Musk’s challenge to a cage fight, and public reports that a Zuckerberg/Musk MMA fight may well happen later this year, perhaps in the actual Roman Colosseum. I said, ‘I think that’s all great.’ And in this post I explain why.… I was also asked whether I consider Mark and Elon to be role models to children in their embrace of fighting, and I said, enthusiastically, yes. And I further recommended to the audience that they have their children trained in MMA, as my wife and I are.”
  6. The Triumph of the Good Samaritan (Ash Milton, Palladium Magazine): “The activist defenders of the tent cities had seized on a moral language deeply ingrained in Western societies. The notion of duty to neighbors, especially those who are poor and vulnerable, is a particularly strong inheritance from Christianity. But they were using concepts they did not care to understand. For the activists, the homeless weren’t neighbors in any reciprocal sense, just a battering ram to use in their own conflicts with society. By rhetorically re-premising neighborly duties as a one-way relationship of tribute and deference paid to the wretched by society, they rendered the very moral concepts they invoked useless. They demanded neighborly duties from strangers but provided no possibility of those involved ever becoming anything like real neighbors to each other.”
    • A bit longer than necessary, but quite good.
  7. Who’s Afraid of Moms for Liberty? (Robert Pondiscio, The Free Press): “Moms for Liberty is the beating heart of this country’s movement of angry parents—and American education has never seen anything quite like it.… The basic thrust of Moms for Liberty’s advocacy—that parents, not the government, should have the ultimate say in what children are taught in public schools—has legs. Not one subgroup in McLaughlin’s crosstabs—Trump or Biden voters; pro-life or pro-choice; black, white, or Hispanic; urban, rural, or suburban—disagrees.”

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 Book Review: The Cult Of Smart (Scott Alexander, Astral Codex Ten): “DeBoer recalls hearing an immigrant mother proudly describe her older kid’s achievements in math, science, etc, “and then her younger son ran by, and she said, offhand, ‘This one, he is maybe not so smart.’ ” DeBoer was originally shocked to hear someone describe her own son that way, then realized that he wouldn’t have thought twice if she’d dismissed him as unathletic, or bad at music. Intelligence is considered such a basic measure of human worth that to dismiss someone as unintelligent seems like consigning them into the outer darkness.” Normally the best thing about Alexander’s blog is his book reviews. This one was just okay (smart and well-written but not astounding) and then all of a sudden he turned his rant up to 11. Hang in until you reach the phrase “child prison.” If you’re not sold at that point, stop reading. From volume 289.

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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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