Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 428

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 428 and I, being an easily amused man, am pleased that 4*2=8.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. C.S. Lewis and T.S. Eliot: How Rivals Became Friends (Joel J. Miller, Rabbit Room): “Did Charles Williams know what would happen when he invited his mutuals, C.S. Lewis and T.S. Eliot, to tea? One suspects. Lewis had long registered disapproval of Eliot’s work. But surely they’d get on in person, no? No. It was 1945 and the trio convened at the Mitre Hotel in Oxford. The first words out of Eliot’s mouth? ‘Mr. Lewis,’ he exclaimed, ‘you are a much older man than you appear in photographs!’ The meeting deteriorated from there.”
  2. Abundance: The Deepest Reality (Bethany Lorden, Stanford Review): “It is true, I have never lacked food or shelter or any necessity; yet every day, I see the most privileged people in the world live as though they are impoverished. As students, we hoard our time, fear our midterms, and dread the future. But what if the blessings that landed us at Stanford continue into our future? What if our classes were not a burden, but a gift of learning? What if our lives and our society mirror nature, where alpine sunflowers reemerge every spring on the harshest tundra, where a square foot of dry prairie nourishes three dozen species of plants, where no tree or animal dies without sustaining new life?”
    • Disclaimer: Bethany is a student in Chi Alpha. Also, I especially liked this bit: “R&DE seems to assume that student satisfaction is a zero-sum game: the website states that ‘Direct swaps between students are not permitted, as the housing assignment process is meant to be equitable, and not based on who you know.’ If a roommate switch makes one student better off, then the trade must have exploited another. Yet by dealing with relationships as if they were a limited resource, R&DE has made them so. Instead of creating community (by definition, a network ‘based on who you know’), R&DE has made everyone ‘equitably’ miserable.”
  3. Why I Ran Away from Philosophy Because of Sam Bankman-Fried (Ted Gioia, Substack): “It’s true, of course, that a philosophical system is not disproved if its advocates are criminals and tyrants—but this linkage must be a cause for alarm and suspicion. The burden of proof is on those who want to separate a person’s core principles from the results they produce in actual life.”
    • I sometimes bag on utilitarianism generally (and sometimes specifically the effective altruism movement). This essay may help you see why. Utilitarian/consequentialist ethical systems are just wrong. Not merely wrong in the sense of being incorrect, but also wrong in the sense of being immoral.
  4. Some Israel / Hamas war articles:
    • Behind Hamas’s Bloody Gambit to Create a ‘Permanent’ State of War (Ben Hubbard and Maria Abi-Habib, The New York Times): “Thousands have been killed in Gaza, with entire families wiped out. Israeli airstrikes have reduced Palestinian neighborhoods to expanses of rubble, while doctors treat screaming children in darkened hospitals with no anesthesia. Across the Middle East, fear has spread over the possible outbreak of a broader regional war. But in the bloody arithmetic of Hamas’s leaders, the carnage is not the regrettable outcome of a big miscalculation. Quite the opposite, they say: It is the necessary cost of a great accomplishment — the shattering of the status quo and the opening of a new, more volatile chapter in their fight against Israel.”
      • Unlocked and well worth reading.
    • “No parent is going to do that”: Shafai family from Massachusetts trapped in Gaza told they can leave without their children (Christina Hager, CBS News): “They had the names of my brother and his wife on the list, but they didn’t have the kids,” said Hani Shafai. His brother Hazem and his wife Sanaa were excited to see their names on a list customs authorities put out naming people who could cross into Egypt to safety. The problem was, there was no mention of their three children. “They were told they can cross, but they have to leave the kids behind. And, as you know, no parent is going to do that, and he said no,” said Hani Shafai.
      • Bro. Database errors happen, I get it. But it seems to me this is the kind of situation where instead of turning them away you ask them to step to the side, offer them some water and snacks, and have someone investigate to figure out what happened so they can leave with their kids.
    • Inside a Gaza bedroom, soldiers searching for tunnels find how low Hamas can go (Emanuel Fabian, Times of Israel): “In terms of its size, where it led and what it was intended for, the tunnel was much like the other 90 found in the area. What set it apart, though, was its location. The shaft had been uncovered by soldiers of the Combat Engineering Corps’ 614th Battalion as they carried out a second round of sweeps in a single-family home — with an outdoor swimming pool — in an upscale beachside neighborhood. Inside a bedroom scattered with brightly colored clothes, underneath one of three child-sized beds, soldiers had found a portal to where monsters were hiding.”
    • The “Genocide” Canard Against Israel (Andrew Sullivan, Substack): “…if Israel were interested in the “genocide” of Palestinian Arabs, it has had the means to accomplish it for a very long time. And yet, for some reason, the Arab population of Israel and the occupied territories has exploded since 1948, and the Arabs in Israel proper have voting rights, and a key presence in the Knesset.… And real genocide is happening elsewhere in the world right now as well, but it receives a fraction of the attention. In Darfur, between 2003 and 2005, around 200,000 members of the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups were murdered in a clear case of genocide that has recently revived. This year, some 180,000 civilians have fled to Chad, pursued by the Janjaweed — the Einsatzgruppen of central Africa. If your view is derived from critical race theory, you should be particularly concerned about this genocide, since it is directed at black Africans by Islamist Arabs. But the campus left is uninterested.”
    • ‘I Feel a Human Deterioration’ (Lulu Garcia-Navarro, New York Times): “And when I see people watching the horrible tragedy that is happening here as if it were a Super Bowl of victimhood, in which you support one team and really don’t care about the other, empathy becomes very, very selective. You see only some pain. You don’t want to see other pain.”
  5. Died: Frank Borman, Apollo 8 Astronaut Who Broadcast Genesis from Space (Daniel Silliman, Christianity Today): “On December 24, as a camera showed the lunar surface passing below a window, the three astronauts read the Scripture from a piece of paper. Borman went last, closing with verses 9 and 10: ‘And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.’ Then he said, ‘From the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas and God bless all of you—all of you on the good Earth.’ ”
  6. Critical Grace Theory (Carl Trueman, First Things): “Isaiah, Paul, and Augustine are far better sources of social criticism than Horkheimer, Marcuse, or Crenshaw. Yes, the world is imperfect and unjust and filled with strife. Sadly, such are the wages of sin. Acknowledging the fall of man does not entail a passive acceptance of injustice or evil. The doctrine of original sin does not entail the conclusion that nothing can ever be improved and that efforts of social reform are pointless. But a recognition that sin underlies unjust social systems means that our critical theorizing must be shaped by our belief in God’s grace and the healing power of forgiveness, both for ourselves and for others. No critical theory that fails to place these theological truths at the center of its analysis and proposals is compatible with Christianity.”
  7. How Early Morning Classes Change Academic Trajectories: Evidence from a Natural Experiment (Anthony LokTing Yim, SSRN): “Using a natural experiment which randomized class times to students, this study reveals that enrolling in early morning classes lowers students’ course grades and the likelihood of future STEM course enrollment. There is a 79% reduction in pursuing the corresponding major and a 26% rise in choosing a lower-earning major, predominantly influenced by early morning STEM classes. To understand the mechanism, I conducted a survey of undergraduate students enrolled in an introductory course, some of whom were assigned to a 7:30 AM section.”
    • Disclosure: I only skimmed the article. I find it plausible enough to pass on and am not skeptical enough of its claims to feel motivated to read it thoroughly. The author is an economist at Brigham Young University, and the study is about students at Purdue University.
    • Bottom line: avoid early morning classes.

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

  • God vs Nothing (Pete Holmes, YouTube): one minute, language is a bit crude but this is brilliant at points
  • Hardball Questions For The Next Debate (Scott Alexander, Astral Codex Ten): “Hello, and welcome to the third Republican primary debate. To shore up declining voter interest, we’ve decided to make things more interesting tonight. In this first round, each candidate will have to avoid using a specific letter of the alphabet in their answer. If they slip up, they forfeit their remaining time, and the next candidate in line gets the floor. Our candidates who have qualified today are Chris Christie, Nikki Haley, Ron DeSantis, and Donald Trump.”
    • This gets increasingly absurd and amusing and I actually laughed out loud at the end.
  • “Octobunk” stacks up fun at Stanford (Anna Yang, Stanford Daily): “In the early hours of Oct. 20, a group of around 20 freshmen assembled on the Oval, ready to begin the construction of the ‘Octobunk.’ Their plan was to stack eight dorm beds on top of each other in the Oval, making a tower that created a large bunk bed. Nearly 100 students showed up to observe the event at around 2 a.m. — a combination of people who had heard of the tremendous feat by word-of-mouth, or people who had simply been walking past.”
    • This is glorious and the students who organized it should automatically be elected to ASSU and only displaced by people who spark equal or greater joy.

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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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