Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 424

lots of articles from an emotionally draining week

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 424, which is symmetrical and also the sum of 10 consecutive primes. 424 = 23 + 29 + 31 + 37 + 41 + 43 + 47 + 53 + 59 + 61.

Things Glen Found Interesting

Today’s roundup was difficult to assemble. First, there are the obvious emotional challenges of reading too much about the horrific raid by Hamas. If you are wondering whether you should dive deeply into original sources (Instagram stories from on the field, etc), no you should not. It will harm your soul. Second, there is a whole sea of information and opinions and I have a very small bucket. Third, it was a busy week (and today in particular was quite hectic for me). All that having been said, if you find other interesting stories about the unfolding situation in Israel, please send them my way.

  1. The best/most interesting stories I’ve seen about the Hamas attack on Israel.
    • ‘We’re Going to Die Here’ (Yair Rosenberg, The Atlantic): “First I’m hearing this gunfire from the fields. But then I hear it from the road, then I hear it from the neighborhood, and then I hear it outside my window. I’m in the room with my wife, and I hear the gunfire directly outside my window, as well as shouting. I understand Arabic. I understood exactly what was happening: that Hamas has infiltrated our kibbutz, that there are terrorists outside my window, and that I’m locked in my house and inside my safe room with two young girls, and I don’t know if anyone is going to come to save us.”
      • This is an amazing story. 100% worth reading.
    • The attacks on Israel, and the response. (Isaac Saul, Tangle): “Am I pro-Israel or pro-Palestine? I have no idea. I’m pro-not-killing-civilians. I’m pro-not-trapping-millions-of-people-in-open-air-prisons. I’m pro-not-shooting-grandmas-in-the-back-of-the-head. I’m pro-not-flattening-apartment-complexes. I’m pro-not-raping-women-and-taking-hostages. I’m pro-not-unjustly-imprisoning-people-without-due-process. I’m pro-freedom and pro-peace and pro- all the things we never see in this conflict anymore. Whatever this is, I want none of it.”
      • This is a well-done roundup featuring diverse viewpoints.
    • Darkness Visible (Andrew Sullivan, Substack): “The more I’ve thought and read about Israel, the more it seems that its founding was both a moral necessity and a practical insanity. The moral necessity is proven by last weekend. If Jews can be subject to a medieval pogrom in their own country in 2023, what hope could they ever have without a country at all? The practical insanity lies in the simple fact that the state of Israel was created on land laden with deep religious symbolism, where much of the existing population did not give consent, and despite the early promise, no country for the Palestinians was ever constructed alongside it.”
      • A more comprehensive essay than many I’ve read so far.
    • What It Would Mean to Treat Hamas Like ISIS (David French, New York Times): “…Israel’s goal is not to punish Hamas but to defeat it — to remove it from power in Gaza the way the Iraqi military, the United States and their allies removed ISIS from Mosul, Falluja, Ramadi and every other city ISIS controlled in Iraq. That can’t be accomplished by air power alone. If removing Hamas from power is the goal, then that almost certainly means soldiers and tanks fighting in Gazan cities, block by block, house to house in an area of roughly two million people. The purpose of this newsletter is to give you a primer on both the military difficulty of the task and the humanitarian constraints on it, along with the limitations that are unique to Israel.”
      • Unlocked — a thorough article from an author with highly relevant expertise.
    • Hamas practiced in plain sight, posting video of mock attack weeks before border breach (Michael Beisecker &  Sarah El Deeb, Associated Press): “A slickly produced two-minute propaganda video posted to social media by Hamas on Sept. 12 shows fighters using explosives to blast through a replica of the border gate, sweep in on pickup trucks and then move building by building through a full-scale reconstruction of an Israeli town, firing automatic weapons at human-silhouetted paper targets. The Islamic militant group’s live-fire exercise dubbed operation ‘Strong Pillar’ also had militants in body armor and combat fatigues carrying out operations that included the destruction of mock-ups of the wall’s concrete towers and a communications antenna, just as they would do for real in the deadly attack last Saturday.”
    • As Deaths Soar in Gaza From Israeli Strikes, Egypt Offers Aid, but No Exit (Declan Walsh, New York Times): “Egypt has long insisted that Israel must solve the Palestinian issue within its borders, to keep alive aspirations for a future Palestinian state. Allowing large numbers of Gazans to cross over, even as refugees, would ‘revive the idea that Sinai is the alternative country for the Palestinians,’ said Mustapha Kamel al-Sayyid, a political scientist at Cairo University. A related scenario that worries Egypt is that it could end up as the de facto administrator of Gaza.”
      • Egypt, of course, is the only nation besides Israel that shares a border with the Gaza Strip. It is often overlooked by Americans because we don’t know our geography very well, but Egypt is equally involved in preventing the migration of the Palestinians in Gaza.
    • How Hamas breached Israel’s ‘Iron Wall’ (Samuel Granados, Ruby Mellen, Lauren Tierney, Artur Galocha, Cate Brown and Aaron Steckelberg, Washington Post): “The fence was breached at 29 points, according to the Israel Defense Forces. Though there wereIsraeli guard towers positioned every 500 feet along the perimeter of the wall at some points, the fighters appeared to encounter little resistance. The border was minimally staffed, it soon became apparent,with much of Israel’s military diverted to focus on unrest in the West Bank.”
      • Detailed and quite interesting. Also not very long to read.
    • The Progressives Who Flunked the Hamas Test (Helen Lewis, The Atlantic): “In the fevered world of social media, progressive activists have often sought to discredit hateful statements and unjust policies by describing them as ‘violence,’ even ‘genocide.’ This tendency seems grotesque if the same activists are not prepared to criticize Hamas, a group whose founding charter is explicitly genocidal… Fitting Israel into the intersectional framework has always been difficult, because its Jewish citizens are both historically oppressed—the survivors of an attempt to wipe them out entirely—and currently in a dominant position over the Palestinians, as demonstrated by the Netanyahu government’s decision to restrict power and water supplies to Gaza. The simplistic logic of pop intersectionality cannot reconcile this, and the subject caused schisms within the left long before Saturday’s attacks.”
      • This one is especially worth reading for university students. It highlights weaknesses in a perspective you are often taught from.
    • A wounded, weakened Israel is a fiercer one (Haviv Rettig Gur, The Times of Israel): “Hamas seemed to do everything possible to shift Israeli psychology from a comfortable faith in their own strength to a sense of dire vulnerability. And it will soon learn the scale of that miscalculation. A strong Israel may tolerate a belligerent Hamas on its border; a weaker one cannot. A safe Israel can spend much time and resources worrying about the humanitarian fallout from a Gaza ground war; a more vulnerable Israel cannot. A wounded, weakened Israel is a fiercer Israel. Hamas was once a tolerable threat. It just made itself an intolerable one, all while convincing Israelis they are too vulnerable and weak to respond with the old restraint.”
  2. Some theological/Christian perspectives:
    • The Way Out is Through: Peace Must Start with the End of Hamas (Marc LiVecche, Providence): “Israel must do everything possible to minimize the toil on the innocent, and to multiply hell on the monsters.”
      • The author is a research fellow at the Naval War College and is writing about just war theory as it applies to the conflict between Israel and Hamas.
    • Amid Israel-Hamas War, Local Christians Seek Righteous Anger and Gospel Hope (Jayson Casper, Christianity Today): “Nothing about this situation is right or good,” said Lisa Loden, a Messianic Jewish member of the Bethlehem Institute of Peace and Justice. “But there is a strong desire to see the Lord use these events to draw people to himself.”
    • Israel’s 9/11: The Need for Moral Clarity (Bernard N. Howard and Ivan Mesa, The Gospel Coalition): “Moral clarity also allows for suitably one-sided prayer. It’s right to pray for the swift defeat of Hamas. The murderous operations room of Hamas will never provide good leadership for the Palestinians living in Gaza. We should by all means pray for both-sided things too: the salvation of people on both sides; the protection, healing, and comfort of people on both sides; and the growth of the church that lives inside the borders of both nations. Even as we pray for these both-sided things, let us boldly call on our God to thwart, frustrate, and defeat the one side that is hell-bent on terrorism.”
    • American Christians Should Stand with Israel under Attack (Russell Moore, Christianity Today): “Sometimes, especially in the early moments of any war, we may be uncertain about who is right and who is wrong. There is no such moral confusion here. Hamas—and its state sponsors—attacked innocent people, as they have done repeatedly in the past, this time employing a force and brutality previously unseen.… As Christians, we should pay special attention to violence directed toward Israel—just as we would pay special attention to a violent attack on a member of our extended family. After all, we are grafted on to the promise made to Abraham (Rom. 11:17). Our Lord Jesus was and is a Jewish man from Galilee.”
  3. Some Stanford-connected articles:
    • This Was Never Supposed to Happen (Amichai Magen, Persuasion): “Analysts keen to convey the magnitude of October 7th to American audiences have already tagged it Israel’s Pearl Harbor or 9/11. Neither label adequately captures the day’s true significance. A more accurate name might be something like ‘Israel’s civic Yom Kippur.’ Why? Because the very existence of the State of Israel was supposed to guarantee that a day like this would never happen. In the Yom Kippur War of October 1973—when Egypt and Syria launched a surprise assault—Israel lost some 2,700 soldiers, but it managed to effectively protect its civilian population. No Israeli towns or villages were ever breached. The social contract was honored, albeit at a terrible price. On October 7, 2023, it was primarily civilians who were killed, maimed, and kidnapped. This was the day when the IDF wasn’t there to defend the people it was created to protect.”
      • The author, himself Israeli, is a Visiting Professor and Fellow in Israel Studies at the Freeman-Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University.
    • The impact of Hamas’ devastating attack (Matthew Wigler, Stanford Daily): “Like most Jews, I seek the peace and security of Israel as a Jewish state in the indigenous homeland of the Jewish people, a safe haven after millennia of persecution where Jews can finally claim control over their own destiny. Likewise, like most Jews, I also dream of a future of dignity and freedom for the Palestinian people, who, by the very same principles of self-determination, deserve a state of their own in a land that they too have called home for many centuries. However, Hamas’ ideology of hate and methods of terrorism are contrary to that vision.”
  4. Other interesting stuff not related to the war:
    • 5 Reasons Gen Z Is Primed for Spiritual Renewal (Kyle Richter & Patrick Miller, The Gospel Coalition): “Our last meeting of the year was bigger than the first. We started with 300 students and ended with 400. That never happens. Then in the fall of this year, it happened again: 500 students attended our first meeting; 600 showed up the next week. This doesn’t happen.But it did. And it’s not unique to us. As we talk to campus ministers and pastors from San Francisco to Jacksonville, Billings to Atlanta, DC to Dallas, we know we aren’t alone. Some will urge caution before drawing conclusions. Isn’t this the era of dechurching, deconstruction, and rising “nones”? But data lags behind reality and we don’t want the church to miss what may be happening.”
    • The Copenhagen Interpretation of Ethics (Jai, Substack): “The Copenhagen Interpretation of Ethics says that when you observe or interact with a problem in any way, you can be blamed for it. At the very least, you are to blame for not doing more. Even if you don’t make the problem worse, even if you make it slightly better, the ethical burden of the problem falls on you as soon as you observe it. In particular, if you interact with a problem and benefit from it, you are a complete monster. I don’t subscribe to this school of thought, but it seems pretty popular.”
      • A few years old, but really good.
    • Reproducibility trial: 246 biologists get different results from same data sets (Anil Oza, Nature): “In a massive exercise to examine reproducibility, more than 200 biologists analysed the same sets of ecological data — and got widely divergent results. The first sweeping study1 of its kind in ecology demonstrates how much results in the field can vary, not because of differences in the environment, but because of scientists’ analytical choices.”

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

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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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