Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 432

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 432, a number pleasant to look at because of the smoothly decreasing digits. Also, 432 = 4 · 33 · 22, which is kinda cool.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Why Two Parents Are the Ultimate Privilege (Bari Weiss, Substack): “Two parents combined have more resources than one. Two parents in a home bring in the earnings—or at least the earnings capacity—of two adults. And so, in a very straightforward way, we see that kids growing up in single-mother homes are five times more likely to live in poverty than kids growing up in married parent homes. (Kids in single-father homes are three times as likely to live in poverty.) Some of that reflects the fact that people with lower levels of education or income are more likely to become single parents. But even if you compare across moms of the same education group, you see that kids who grow up in a household with two parents have household incomes that are about twice as high. That means that those parents are paying for things like a nicer house in a safe neighborhood with good school districts. But they also spend more time with their kids. We see that kids who grow up with married parents have more parental time invested in them: reading to your kid, talking to your kid, driving your kids to activities. If there are two parents in the household, there’s just more time capacity.”
    • The interviewee, Melissa Kearney, is an economist at the University of Maryland.
    • This part near the end also caught my attention: “You write that you would speak to your fellow scholars about your plans for writing this book, and they would say things along the lines of, ‘I tend to agree about all of this, but are you sure you want to be out there saying this publicly?’ How many areas of research, inquiry, and basic curiosity about the most important things in our lives and culture are third rail now? If it’s taboo to write a book saying two parents in a house are better materially than one, what else is off-limits, and what can we do to combat that?”
  2. Some links related to academia, congressional testimony, and speech in general:
    • You Could Not Pay Me Enough to Be a College Administrator (Dan Drezner, Substack): “Why are these horrible, no-win positions? Because the primary job of any college dean or university president is to deal with the most spoiled, entitled, pig-headed interest groups imaginable. First, there are the students…”
    • Freedom of speech for university staff? (Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution): “Freedom of speech for university staff is a harder question than for students or faculty. Students will move on, and a lot of faculty hate each other anyway, and don’t have to work together very much. Plus the protection of tenure was (supposedly?) designed to support freedom of speech and opinion, even ‘perceived to be offensive’ opinions. As for students, we want them to be experimenting with different opinions in their youth, even if some of those opinions are bad or stupid. Staff in these regards are different.”
    • What the University Presidents Got Right and Wrong About Antisemitic Speech (David French, New York Times): “I’m a former litigator who spent much of my legal career battling censorship on college campuses, and the thing that struck me about the presidents’ answers wasn’t their legal insufficiency but rather their stunning hypocrisy. And it’s that hypocrisy, not the presidents’ understanding of the law, that has created a campus crisis.”
    • Penn’s Leadership Resigns Amid Controversies Over Antisemitism (Stephanie Saul and Alan Blinder, New York Times): “The president of the University of Pennsylvania, M. Elizabeth Magill, resigned on Saturday, four days after her testimony at a congressional hearing in which she seemed to evade the question of whether students who called for the genocide of Jews should be disciplined.… Ms. Magill, a former Stanford Law School dean and University of Virginia provost, had come to the university as part of a wave of women to lead Ivy League colleges.”
  3. Some reflections on the war between Israel and Hamas:
    • Who’s a ‘Colonizer’? How an Old Word Became a New Weapon (Roger Cohen, New York Times): “The clash over purported Israeli colonialism is part of something larger, a profound movement in people’s minds. The Palestinian national struggle has become the cause of the justice-seeking dispossessed throughout the world. At the same time, the quest of the Jews to find refuge in a national homeland as the only answer to being the perennial outcast has become a battle to demonstrate that, far from being colonialist, Israel is a diverse nation largely formed by a gathering-in of the persecuted.”
      • Covers a lot of ground, broadly helpful.
    • What Justice Requires in Gaza (Jack Omer-Jackaman, Persuasion): “How much injustice can a war contain before it is no longer a just war? History is certainly replete with wars we consider just on the whole, but which were littered with gross violations of human rights and decency. What was true on October 7th is true today: Hamas is a mass-raping, civilian-slaughtering, baby-kidnapping evil, whose defeat should be supported by all friends of Israel and all friends of Palestine. But I cannot be silent when my own reason and my own heart conclude that Gazan civilians are not being sufficiently protected. In the failure of Israeli strikes to distinguish between civilian and terrorist, and in the hampering of humanitarian aid efforts, too much of this war is being fought unjustly.”
  4. In 2024, the Tension Between Macroculture and Microculture Will Turn into War (Ted Gioia, Substack): “The clash has reached some kind of brutal tipping point. I believe it’s about to turn into war. The fact that 2024 is an election year will escalate the conflict. Just wait and see. But even right now you can feel the ground shaking.… [alternative platforms are outperforming Hollywood.] This seems impossible. A single individual living in Greenville, North Carolina defeats enormous global businesses with tens of thousands of employees and decades of experience—and does it repeatedly every month. But that’s exactly what’s happening.”
    • Fascinating stats in here.
    • Related (at least to me): When the New York Times lost its way (James Bennet, The Economist): “This is a bit of a paradox. The new newsroom ideology seems idealistic, yet it has grown from cynical roots in academia: from the idea that there is no such thing as objective truth; that there is only narrative, and that therefore whoever controls the narrative – whoever gets to tell the version of the story that the public hears – has the whip hand. What matters, in other words, is not truth and ideas in themselves, but the power to determine both in the public mind. By contrast, the old newsroom ideology seems cynical on its surface. It used to bug me that my editors at the Times assumed every word out of the mouth of any person in power was a lie. And the pursuit of objectivity can seem reptilian, even nihilistic, in its abjuration of a fixed position in moral contests. But the basis of that old newsroom approach was idealistic: the notion that power ultimately lies in truth and ideas, and that the citizens of a pluralistic democracy, not leaders of any sort, must be trusted to judge both.”
    • This one is very long but I found it compelling.
  5. Conservatives are suing law firms over diversity efforts. It’s working. (Julian Mark and Taylor Telford, Washington Post): “Kenji Yoshino, a law professor and director of the Meltzer Center for Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging at New York University, said targeting law firms is effective because it can serve as a warning to other industries. ‘If you sue a law firm, then the law firm gets up to speed very, very quickly on what is permissible and what’s impermissible,’ Yoshino said, noting that many law firms advise Fortune 500 companies, government agencies and nonprofits. ‘It’s a way of getting the message out about people needing to flip over their policies in a wide variety of domains — not just fellowships, but hiring, recruiting retreats and the like.’”
    • Interesting. I don’t remember having seen this strategy (sue law firms to bring about broader cultural change) used by either the left or the right before. Is it an innovation or am I just not remembering something in history?
  6. How 1 in 4 Countries Restrict Religious Conversion (Jayson Casper, Christianity Today): “The USCIRF report grouped the laws into four categories. First, anti-proselytizing laws restrict witnessing of one’s faith in 29 nations, including in Indonesia, Israel, and Russia. In Morocco, for example, it is illegal to cause a Muslim to question his or her religion. The second category of interfaith marriage is restricted in 25 nations, including in Jordan, the Philippines, and Singapore. In Qatar, for example, if a wife converts to Islam but the husband does not, a judge may annul their marriage. Identification document laws—the third category—in 7 nations restrict the right of an individual to formally convert to another religion, including in Iraq, Malaysia, and Turkey. Myanmar, for example, requires converts to submit an application and be subject to questioning about the genuineness of the conversion. And finally, apostasy laws in 7 nations make conversion illegal, including in Brunei, Mauritania, and Saudi Arabia. In Yemen, for example, the punishment is death.”
  7. A Korean Sect Targeted New Zealand Christians. Did Churches Respond Effectively? (Willliam Chong, Christianity Today): “Shincheonji instructors eventually convinced their recruits that God permits lying if it is done for ‘God’s will.’ Before Josh’s sessions commenced in January 2019, his mentor warned him to keep them a secret, pointing to Abraham’s silence before heading out to sacrifice Isaac in Genesis 22. Josh concocted a story about teaching private guitar lessons three mornings a week, a lie he told his parents, his girlfriend, and Student Life colleagues. When church leaders and a campus staff worker confronted Josh with evidence that he was attending Shincheonji classes, his Shincheonji instructors gave him step-by-step instructions on how to deny his involvement. They even gave Josh pre-written letters expressing ‘inexplicable hurt and confusion’ about his family and friends’ accusations and claiming that he was no longer involved in Shincheonji activities. Josh sent the letter to the church yet continued his classes, and in May 2019 he ‘passed over’ into the group.”
    • Related: Escaping High-Control Religious Groups (William Chong, Christianity Today): “[If a friend is in a cult,] try to maintain the relationship and communication at all costs. Making direct statements like ‘You’re in a cult!’ or ‘You’re deceived!’ are not helpful. Cult members have often been warned that ‘a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household’ (Matt. 10:36), so to confront their group will be to fulfill prophecies given to them by their leaders and further prove the group to be correct. It’s important not to drive them further into the group. Ask yourself what need the group is fulfilling in your loved one’s life.”

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

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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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