Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 413

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 issue 413, which I have been told is a structured hexagonal diamond number. I don’t know what that means, but it sounds very impressive. I also know that 413 = 7 · 59, which I find both cool and understandable.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. I’m a Continuationist with Cancer. I Still Believe in Healings. (Tim Shorey, The Gospel Coalition): “I live my life and face my cancer somewhere between seemingly sincere ‘namers and claimers’ who expect healing every time and seemingly surrendered ‘if-the-Lord-willers’ whose prayers affirm God’s healing power but whose caveats and qualifiers make it sound like he’s not likely to use it. God alone knows the heart. But the tone of the former party can sound like presumption masquerading as faith, while the tone of the latter can sound like doubt masquerading as humility.”
    • Recommended by a student who appropriately asks, “if you read this, please also pray for the author, Tim Shorey.”
  2. Date to marry, not to have fun (Bethany Mandel, The Spectator): “A lot of things are important in a marriage: love, respect, trust, laughter. But perhaps most important is to remember that it’s a partnership for life; and as such, dating should not be considered fun, but instead like a job interview for the most important role you’ll ever have, that of a spouse. If you were interviewing for a job, would you allow the process to drag on, long after you know it’s the right fit (or not)?”
    • Broadly agree, with the provision that this is advice about dating relationship and not just about going on dates. In other words, go on dates to have fun and then carefully discern who is a good match for progressing into a serious dating relationship. Too many Christians want to know they want to marry someone before they go out for coffee with them, and that’s a lot of pressure to put on a latte.
    • Related: Swiping and Dating Preferences (Rob K. Henderson, Substack): “Here’s a sketch of what might be happening: Men high on the Dark Triad (psychopathy, narcissism, Machiavellianism) use dating apps. They might make up 10–20% of users. They go on a rampage, sleeping with lots of women, playing games with them, leading them on, ghosting them, lying to them, etc. Dark Triad men are excellent impostors; they are good at mimicking desirable romantic qualities, and are thus able to procure lots of sex partners. The women they sleep with become disillusioned. These women begin to behave in psychopathic and narcissistic ways to protect themselves from emotional vulnerability and pain, and perhaps as a way to even the score with ‘men’ as a category. They learn to avoid Dark Triad men and exploit normal men. These men become confused and upset, and begin to treat other women the same way to ‘get even.’ In short, Dark Triad men mistreat women, who then mistreat ordinary men, who then mistreat ordinary women. Bad behavior drives out the good. A system tailor-made for psychopathic males (dating apps facilitate anonymity, superficiality, and deception) predictably gives rise to a defect-defect equilibrium.”
    • Full of interesting data.
  3. Study of Elite College Admissions Data Suggests Being Very Rich Is Its Own Qualification (Aatish Bhatia, Claire Cain Miller and Josh Katz, New York Times): “Elite colleges have long been filled with the children of the richest families: At Ivy League schools, one in six students has parents in the top 1 percent.… For applicants with the same SAT or ACT score, children from families in the top 1 percent were 34 percent more likely to be admitted than the average applicant, and those from the top 0.1 percent were more than twice as likely to get in.”
  4. Why won’t Indiana Jones convert to something after all he has seen in his life? (Terry Mattingly, On Religion): “What we want to know is why he is always back to square one at the start of every adventure – a skeptic, or even a scoffer. I mean, think about it: He has seen the Ark of the Covenant opened and the destroying angels pour out God’s vengeance on his enemies. He has seen the sacred Hindu stones come to life. …He has seen the true cup of Christ heal his own father from a fatal gunshot wound – on screen, with no ambiguity.”
    • It’s revealing about modern assumptions that almost no one thinks to ask this question.
  5. Are We Living Through ‘End Times’? (Bari Weiss interviewing Peter Turchin, The Free Press): “Elite overproduction turns out to be the best predictor of a crisis to come. It is essentially ubiquitous in the pre-crisis periods of all societies. I used the game of musical chairs to illustrate it, except in the usual game, you start with 11 players and ten chairs, and one person loses. Here, instead of removing chairs, you keep chairs constant, and we add more players. You can imagine the amount of chaos that is going to happen. Now let’s connect this to the overproduction of wealthy people in the United States. As more and more of them become players in politics, they drive up the price of getting into office. And more importantly, the more people are vying for these positions, the more people are going to be frustrated. They’re going to be losers. But humans don’t have to follow rules. This is the dark side of competition: if it’s too extreme, it creates conditions for people to start to break rules.”
    • Turchin is a social scientist at U Conn. Recommended by a student.
    • The author explains the relationship between what he does and the science fiction we see in the Foundation series: Psychohistory and Cliodynamics (Peter Turchin, personal blog): “Prediction is overrated. What we really should be striving for, with our social science, is ability to bring about desirable outcomes and to avoid unwanted outcomes. What’s the point of predicting future, if it’s very bleak and we are not able to change it? We would be like the person condemned to hang before sunrise – perfect knowledge of the future, zero ability to do anything about it.”
  6. Bad Definitions Of “Democracy” And “Accountability” Shade Into Totalitarianism (Scott Alexander, Astral Codex Ten): “You could, in theory, define ‘democratic’ this way, so that the more areas of life are subjected to the control of a (democratically elected) government, the more democratic your society is. But in that case, the most democratic possible society is totalitarianism — a society where the government controls every facet of life, including what religion you practice, who you marry, and what job you work at. In this society there would be no room for human freedom.”
  7. The Importance Of Saying “Yes” To The “But” (Andrew Sullivan, Substack): “One of the enduring frustrations of living in a politically polarized country is the evaporation of nuance. As the muscles of liberal democracy atrophy, and as cultural tribalism infects everyone’s consciousness, it becomes more and more difficult to say, ‘Yes, but …’ Everyone hates the but. It complicates; it muddles; it can disable a slogan; and puncture a politically useful myth.”

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 Religious Community and Human Flourishing (Tyler J. VanderWeele, Psychology Today): “In some cases, our results closely replicated past work. For example, we found that, even after controlling for the factors above, individuals who attended religious services weekly or more were 16% less likely to become depressed, and saw a 29% reduction in smoking and 34% reduction in heavy drinking. These results match reasonably closely results from several prior studies, including the prior meta-analyses mentioned above. Somewhat strikingly, but again in line with prior analysis, weekly service attendees were 26% less likely to die during the follow-up period.” VanderWeele, himself a Christian, is an epidemiologist at Harvard and I have shared some of his work before. From volume 290.

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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