Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 356

from the week abortion fell

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 356, which is a happy number (something I learned about only today). A happy number is a number whose digits when squared sum to 1 if the process is repeated long enough. 356 takes six iterations.

  1. 356 ==> 32+52+62 = 9+25+36 = 70.
  2. 70 ==> 72+02 = 49.
  3. 49 ==> 42+92 = 16+81 = 97.
  4. 97 ==> 92+72 = 81+49 = 130
  5. 130 ==> 12+32+02 = 1+9+0 = 10
  6. 10 ==> 12 + 02 = 1

I got way more into that than I expected.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The huge news today is that abortion is no longer a constitutional right in America. I expect deeper analyses to appear by next week — most columnists appear to be saving their big pieces for the Sunday papers. Send recommendations my way!
    • What changed from Justice Alito’s draft opinion to final ruling on Roe (Kelly Hooper, Politico): “…Alito did add to his original opinion, with a fierce rebuttal of the court’s liberal dissenters, plus a direct shot at Chief Justice John Roberts in the final text. Roberts was the only conservative justice on the court to side with its three liberals, making the final vote 5–4 in the decision to strike down Roe and give states the green light to ban abortion.”
    • Supreme Court overturns constitutional right to abortion (Amy Howe, SCOTUSblog): “Stare decisis, Alito stressed, ‘is not a straitjacket’ when a ruling is grievously incorrect.… Notably, the dissenters finished by noting only that they dissented, omitting the word ‘respectfully’ that commonly accompanies the dissent.”
      • A good summary of the opinion. The author used to teach at Stanford Law School. That last sentence is important.
    • From the right: The Land is Bright (Jake Meador, Mere Orthodoxy): “Some desire to downplay this victory or even to lament the manner of it. We should not. Federal law in America once recognized a right to kill unborn children. Now it does not. Our feelings should be unambiguous: it is a great good that over half the states in our union are soon likely to have laws granting sweeping protections to the unborn. And we can just say that it is good.”
    • From the left: Which rights are next on the Supreme Court’s chopping block? (Ian Millhouser, Vox): “In any event, the future of rights other than abortion will likely need to be litigated. There is no doubt that Thomas would happily light many existing rights on fire. And there is little doubt that Alito, based on his Obergefell dissent, would also happily tear down same-sex marriage. But it takes five votes to strip away an existing constitutional right, and it remains to be seen whether Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett — conservatives who sometimes break with Alito’s most aggressive attempts to drive the law to the right — will support mass rollbacks of existing rights.”
      • Millhouser is often hyperbolic and fails to read ideas he disagrees with fairly, but this is a pretty good summary.
    • From the right: The Supreme Court strikes down Roe and Casey (Albert Mohler, World): “…pro-life Americans have learned not to assume anything and to wait to see any decision in the black and white of plain text. Well, we have the plain text. It is explosive. It is earthshaking.… It is an answer to prayer.”
      • The author is a seminary president and also the president of the Evangelical Theological Society.
    • From the left: Getting Real About the Post-‘Roe’ World (Scott Lemieux, The American Prospect): “The theory went that Republican elites didn’t really want to overrule Roe, but were merely pretending to for the sake of pandering to their base. This narrative was always false; the survival of Roe was always a highly contingent fluke, the product of several mistakes by Republican presidents.”
    • From the right: The Long Battle to Overturn Roe (Ed Whelan, National Review): “There are at least two large reasons that the long battle to overturn Roe has succeeded. First, pro-lifers did not heed Casey’s command that they give up on working to defend the lives of unborn human beings, and they remained a powerful political force in the Republican party, all the more so as nearly all Democrats had abandoned the pro-life cause. Second, the conservative legal movement grew and flourished, thanks in large part to the Federalist Society and to Justice Scalia and Justice Thomas.”
    • From the left: Republicans Are Willing to Pay a Political Price to Ban Abortion. It’s Up to Democrats to Make Them Pay It. (Josh Barro, Substack): “After the draft decision leaked, Democrats brought a wish-list bill to the floor of both chambers that even pro-choice Republicans — even Sen. Susan Collins — were able to comfortably vote against on the grounds that it was too extreme, more expansive than Casey. Democrats need to break the agenda into pieces.… Unlike a catch-all bill, there are many individual ideas about protecting abortion rights that are very broadly popular — bringing them to the floor puts Republicans in the position of either voting for policies to protect abortion rights, or going home to defend votes that are actually hard to defend in election campaigns.”
      • Both parties should do this on a whole host of issues. Politics would change quickly if our leaders governed this way. Barro is right about the shrewd strategy, but I think it unlikely that his party will heed him.
  2. Made in America: Goods Exports by State (Raul Amoros, Visual Capitalist): “Texas has been the top exporting state in the U.S. for an incredible 20 years in a row. Last year, Texas exported $375 billion worth of goods, which is more than California ($175 billion), New York ($85 billion), and Louisiana ($77 billion) combined. The state’s largest manufacturing export category is petroleum and coal products, but it’s also important to mention that Texas led the nation in tech exports for the ninth straight year. California was the second highest exporter of goods in 2021 with a total value of $175 billion, an increase of 12% from the previous year.”
    • Surprises here, recommended by an alumnus. Emphasis in the original.
  3. Mike Pence and the Christian Conflict on January 6 (David French, The Dispatch): “A healthy national culture both condemns cowardice and honors valor, even when valor is simply part of the job. And we should do both with an immense measure of humility. How many of us have proven our own courage under similar circumstances? Pence faced threats to his family, threats to himself, threats to his power, and threats to the rest of his career. How many of us have prevailed in the face of such pressure?  To scorn courage in such circumstances further incentivizes cowardice. At least the cowardly retain their political power and their political home.”
  4. In Defense of Political Escalation (Abigail Shrier, Bari Weiss’ Substack): “If our ultimate goal is returning to a normalcy in which government agencies and corporations treat all Americans fairly regardless of viewpoint, how are we to achieve this? At a minimum, we must acknowledge that these institutions are already weaponized and their artillery points only in one direction: against the opponents of the left.”
    • To my knowledge Shrier is not religious and is in no way conservative, but she is articulating an argument that I see frequently on the right (most famously in the French/Ahmari dustup). It animates Trumpism and is one of the reasons DeSantis is so popular on the right and that American conservatives have such a fascination with Orban in Hungary.
  5. Pentecostals’ Political Warfare (Miguel Petrosky, The Revealer): “Issues like abortion and same-sex marriage, and even fears of creeping ‘Marxism,’ have long been of concern to some factions of American conservatism. But in parts of the Pentecostal and charismatic world, these issues contain cosmic implications for the country’s relationship with God. In the Hebrew Scriptures, each of Israel’s kings either ‘did what was right’ or ‘did what was evil’ in the eyes of God—with either blessings or curses for the kingdom. Since Pentecostals view themselves as being a continuation of the biblical narrative, they are certain God will judge America by the issues they view as straying from the Bible.”
  6. Leaked Audio From 80 Internal TikTok Meetings Shows That US User Data Has Been Repeatedly Accessed From China (Emily Baker-White, BuzzFeed News): “Lawmakers’ fear that the Chinese government will be able to get its hands on American data through ByteDance is rooted in the reality that Chinese companies are subject to the whims of the authoritarian Chinese Communist Party, which has been cracking down on its homegrown tech giants over the last year. The risk is that the government could force ByteDance to collect and turn over information as a form of ‘data espionage.’ There is, however, another concern: that the soft power of the Chinese government could impact how ByteDance executives direct their American counterparts to adjust the levers of TikTok’s powerful ‘For You’ algorithm, which recommends videos to its more than 1 billion users. Sen. Ted Cruz, for instance, has called TikTok ‘a Trojan horse the Chinese Communist Party can use to influence what Americans see, hear, and ultimately think.’ ”
  7. Quest to Conquer a Disease (Amy Lynn Smith, AG News): “Gibson met Hong as he ate lunch with another intern in the student union. Hong asked to join them, and afterward Gibson and Hong began meeting for tea or coffee every week. Gibson learned that Hong, the night before he introduced himself, had a dream in which a man encouraged Hong to meet people on campus. Hong later came to recognize the man in the dream as Jesus. A friendship developed between Hong and Gibson.”
    • This is about two of our alumni: Dan Gibson, who did his ministry training with Chi Alpha Stanford several years ago, and Guosong “Frank” Hong who did his PhD here and is now a professor.

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 How To Ask Your Mentors For Help (Derek Sivers): this is super‐short and very good. Excerpting it would ruin it. Read the whole thing. First shared in volume 224.

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.

Disclaimer

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.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 351

this week’s news was full of stuff I did not like

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 the 351st installment. 351 is, I am told, the smallest number such that it and its surrounding numbers are all products of 4 or more primes (in the case of 351=3·3·3·13).

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. My College Students Are Not OK  (Jonathan Malesic, New York Times): “Higher education is now at a turning point. The accommodations for the pandemic can either end or be made permanent. The task won’t be easy, but universities need to help students rebuild their ability to learn. And to do that, everyone involved — students, faculties, administrators and the public at large — must insist on in-person classes and high expectations for fall 2022 and beyond.” The author has a PhD in religious studies and was a tenured theology prof, but now teaches writing at another university. His personal journey seems interesting.
  2. MIT, Harvard scientists find AI can recognize race from X‑rays — and nobody knows how (Hiawatha Bray, Boston Globe): “Ghassemi and her colleagues remain baffled, but she suspects it has something to do with melanin, the pigment that determines skin color. Perhaps X‑rays and CT scanners detect the higher melanin content of darker skin, and embed this information in the digital image in some fashion that human users have never noticed before. It’ll take a lot more research to be sure.”
  3. Pandemic news, not great this week:
    • The Covid Capitulation (Eric Topol, Substack): “To recap, we have a highly unfavorable picture of: (1) accelerated evolution of the virus; (2) increased immune escape of new variants; (2) progressively higher transmissibility and infectiousness; (4) substantially less protection from transmission by vaccines and boosters; (5) some reduction on vaccine/booster protection against hospitalization and death; (6) high vulnerability from infection-acquired immunity only; and (7) likelihood of more noxious new variants in the months ahead” The author is a professor of molecular medicine at the Scripps Institute.
    • Permanent Pandemic (Justin E. H. Smith, Harper’s Magazine): “That the political is always biopolitical, in at least this general sense, may be a fact that recedes from view in those rare moments when things are functioning smoothly. At such times, the various documents that governments make us fill out and sign, or fill out on our behalf when we are born, married, arrested, or dead; the various licenses we get renewed; and the accreditations we collect come to appear as ends in themselves rather than as part of a vast apparatus that limits what we can do with our own bodies.” The author is a philosophy professor at the University of Paris.
    • The new Covid equilibrium (Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution): “I know many of you like to say ‘No worse than the common cold!’ Well, the thing is…the common cold imposes considerable costs on the world. Imagine a new common cold, which you catch a few times a year, with some sliver of the population getting some form of Long Covid. One 2003 estimate suggested that the common cold costs us $40 billion a year, and in a typical year I don’t get a cold even once.… Even under mild conceptions of current Covid, it is entirely plausible to believe that the costs of Covid will run into the trillions over the next ten years.”
    • With Plunging Enrollment, a ‘Seismic Hit’ to Public Schools (Shawn Hubler, New York Times): “No overriding explanation has emerged yet for the widespread drop-off. But experts point to two potential causes: Some parents became so fed up with remote instruction or mask mandates that they started home-schooling their children or sending them to private or parochial schools that largely remained open during the pandemic. And other families were thrown into such turmoil by pandemic-related job losses, homelessness and school closures that their children simply dropped out.”
  4. Abortion-related:
    • Roe draft is a reminder that religion’s role in politics is older than the republic (Ron Elving, NPR): “The question arises: Since when did so much of our politics have to do with religion? And the answer is, since the beginning – and even before. Religion was a driving and determinative force in politics on this continent even before the ‘United States’ had been formed.And it has been brought to bear in widely disparate causes. Religion has been invoked to condemn slavery and segregation, to ban alcohol and the teaching of evolutionary science and to bolster anti-war movements.”
    • When an Abortion Is Pro-Life (Matthew Loftus, New York Times): “I view my work as a physician as part of a battle against brokenness in the physical health of my patients, a battle whose tide was turned when Jesus Christ rose from the dead. The Bible teaches that our physical bodies will one day be resurrected as Christ’s was, mysteriously transformed but somehow also continuous with our present flesh and blood — like a seed is transformed into a plant. I teach and work alongside local health professionals so that we can care holistically for people in need, following in the footsteps of Jesus, the healer.… Here, I think the exception proves the rule: Ending a child’s life before birth is so wrong that only saving another life could be worth it.” This is a remarkable op-ed.
    • A critique of the religious pro-life movement: The Religious Right and the Abortion Myth (Randall Balmer, Politico): “White evangelicals in the 1970s did not mobilize against Roe v. Wade, which they considered a Catholic issue. They organized instead to defend racial segregation in evangelical institutions, including Bob Jones University. To suggest otherwise is to perpetrate what I call the abortion myth, the fiction that the genesis of the Religious Right — the powerful evangelical political movement that has reshaped American politics over the past four decades — lay in opposition to abortion.”
    • But actually no: What everyone gets wrong about evangelicals and abortion (Gillian Frank & Neil J. Young, Washington Post): “Twelve years before the Roe decision, a young woman wrote to the leading U.S. evangelist, the Rev. Billy Graham, with the following question: ‘Through a young and foolish sin, I had an abortion. I now feel guilty of murder. How can I ever know forgiveness?’ Graham, whose syndicated newspaper column ‘My Answer’ reached millions of Americans, replied: ‘Abortion is as violent a sin against God, nature, and one’s self as one can commit.’ Graham telegraphed evangelicals’ unease with abortion, which would become increasingly political in the coming years.”
    • Really actually no: There’s been some discussion about how evangelicals in the U.S. didn’t start opposing abortion until the late 1970s – several years after Roe v. Wade in 1973. There’s a lot more nuance to that history. (Andrew Lewis, Twitter): an interesting thread from a professor of political science at the University of Cincinnati.
    • As in strongly no: Ballmer also misrepresented the legal aspects of this story (Jon Whitehead, Twitter)
  5. How Mary Whitehouse Waged War on Pornography (Jonathon Van Maren, First Things): “Whitehouse was mocked for predicting that sexual messaging would soon target children; it is now the norm for LGBT content to appear on children’s TV shows and in storybooks. She warned that films such as Bernardo Bertolucci’s Last Tango in Paris crossed a line; it was later revealed that the rape scene in the movie deeply traumatized the scene’s young actress, who received vile treatment at the hands of older men. On the big cultural questions, Whitehouse was right and her critics were wrong.”
  6. Naomi Judd: ‘It’s scary to show that part of you that is the not so smart, not so together side’ (Terry Mattingly, GetReligion): “Naomi Judd thought she understood the ties that bind country-music stars and their audience – then one aggressive fan went and joined the Pentecostal church the Judd family called home. ‘It really burdened me,’ said Judd, after signing hundreds of her ‘Love Can Build a Bridge’ memoir back in 1993. ‘I just don’t sign autographs at church. The best way I can explain it to children … is to say, ‘Honey, Jesus is the star.’ ” What a great opening story.
  7. On the shootings:
    • Faith on the ground in Buffalo: Voice Buffalo executive director Denise Walden (Adelle M. Banks, Religion News Service): “They are some of the matriarchs and the pillars of our community. They will be missed in ways that I don’t think I can do justice to describing, but who bring joy to this community. They’re the ones who help stand and hold this community together.”
    • The FAQs: What Christians Should Know About the ‘Great Replacement’ Theory (Joe Carter, Gospel Coalition): “The recent shooting in Buffalo is the fifth terrorist attack in the past five years in which a white supremacist gunman made reference to the Great Replacement conspiracy theory.… Christians should be the first to decry the racism and xenophobia of the theory, along with condemning the violence it has perpetuated.”
    • Doctor Who Fought Church Gunman Remembered as Kind Protector (Julie Watson, Ministry Watch): “The family and sports medicine physician was like family to the staff and he encouraged them to learn kung fu, telling them about the importance of knowing self-defense techniques. He also learned how to handle a gun for that same reason. That preparedness combined with Cheng’s serene disposition likely gave him a proclivity for acting heroically, according to active shooter experts.… Authorities credit Cheng’s quick action with saving perhaps dozens of lives at a celebratory luncheon for congregants and their former pastor at Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church, which worships at Geneva Presbyterian Church in the Orange County community of Laguna Woods.”
    • After Shooting, Churches Navigate China-Taiwan Tensions Under the Surface (Kate Shellnutt & Sean Cheng, Christianity Today): “As soon as they heard that a gunman attacked a Taiwanese church in California on Sunday, some Taiwanese correctly assumed political motives.… The shooting suspect, David Wenwei Chou, was born and raised in Taiwan but considers himself Chinese. (China currently claims Taiwan as its territory.) He left notes in Chinese in his car stating he did not believe Taiwan should be independent from China. Chinese social media circulated photos of Chou indicating that he was a leader of a Chinese pro-unification organization in Las Vegas.”

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 A Study Guide For Human Society, Part 1 (Tanner Greer, The Scholar’s Stage): “…there are two methods [for finding good history books] in particular I have often have useful. The first is to Google syllabi. If you are interested in the history of the Roman Republic, Google ‘Roman Republic syllabus’ and see what pops up. Read a few courses and see what books are included. Alternatively, if you just read a book you thought was particularly good, put its title into Google and then the word ‘syllabus’ afterwards and see what other readings college professors have paired with that book in their courses.”  First shared in volume 217.

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.

Disclaimer

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.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 350

Fewer main topics than normal, but a bunch of articles in the topics

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 350, and 350 is a very respectable number. I’m impressed.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. How Politics Poisoned the Evangelical Church (Tim Alberta, The Atlantic): “Having grown up just down the road, the son of the senior pastor at another church in town, I’ve spent my life watching evangelicalism morph from a spiritual disposition into a political identity. It’s heartbreaking. So many people who love the Lord, who give their time and money to the poor and the mourning and the persecuted, have been reduced to a caricature. But I understand why. Evangelicals—including my own father—became compulsively political, allowing specific ethical arguments to snowball into full-blown partisan advocacy, often in ways that distracted from their mission of evangelizing for Christ.”
  2. Being a Political Journalist Made Me a Better Christian (Jon Ward, Christianity Today): “But Christians cannot be the conscience of the state if we are not first the conscience of whichever political party we belong to. We have the difficult task of belonging to political parties and working for the good of the country through those institutions, while also standing apart from those parties to criticize them at times for their weaknesses, errors, and corruptions.” The entire essay is delightful.
  3. A controversy about how Christians should engage in the public square:
    • How I Evolved on Tim Keller (James R. Wood, First Things): “If we assume that winsomeness will gain a favorable hearing, when Christians consistently receive heated pushback, we will be tempted to think our convictions are the problem. If winsomeness is met with hostility, it is easy to wonder, ‘Are we in the wrong?’ Thus the slide toward secular culture’s reasoning is greased. A ‘secular-friendly’ politics has problems similar to ‘seeker-friendly’ worship. An excessive concern to appeal to the unchurched is plagued by the accommodationist temptation.”
    • A Critique of Tim Keller Reveals the Moral Devolution of the New Christian Right (The Dispatch, David French): “Yet even if the desperate times narrative were true, the desperate measures rationalization suffers from profound moral defects. The biblical call to Christians to love your enemies, to bless those who curse you, and to exhibit the fruit of the spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control—does not represent a set of tactics to be abandoned when times are tough but rather a set of eternal moral principles to be applied even in the face of extreme adversity…
    • Is it Time to Move Past Tim Keller? (Samuel D. James, Substack): “The question is not whether love of neighbor doesn’t work and should be forgotten, the question is what love of neighbor demands from us, and whether such love might look different when the presenting moral and spiritual needs of our neighbors might not be what they were a generation ago.”
    • some thoughts on Tim Keller (Alan Jacobs, personal blog): “Like Diogenes with his lantern, I’m looking for one critic of Tim Keller who shows some awareness that Christians are commanded by their Lord to act in certain ways and to refrain from acting in others. To think only in terms of what is effective or strategic is to fight on the Devil’s home ground.”
    • This Article is Not About Tim Keller (James Wood, American Reformer): “How do we know what the future holds for the public’s perception of Christians and their attempts to love their neighbors through political action? We might be surprised what the judgments of history have in store. Not only do I question the certainty we can have in these assessments about how our political actions will impact our long-term gospel witness, but I also think this is a category error. Politics is not about minimizing offense in order to maximize openness to the evangelistic message. Politics is, rather, focused on the pursuit of justice and the just ordering of society.”
  4. Against longtermism (Phil Torres, Aeon): “…longtermism might be one of the most influential ideologies that few people outside of elite universities and Silicon Valley have ever heard about. I believe this needs to change because, as a former longtermist who published an entire book four years ago in defence of the general idea, I have come to see this worldview as quite possibly the most dangerous secular belief system in the world today.”
    • Recommended by a student who thinks this is especially important for Silicon Valley people to hear. From Oct 2021.
  5. More on the Supreme Court and abortion
    • How Roe Warped the Republic (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “And the way Roe was decided made this polarization worse. From the perspective of geography and class, a group of robed lawyers in Washington, D.C., demanding that the country simply accept their settlement on one of the gravest moral questions imaginable is the perfect primer for a populist revolt. What has happened in similar ways with other issues — immigration, most notably — happened with abortion first: The elite settlement failed to settle the issue, and the backlash encompassed not just the issue itself but elite legitimacy writ large.”
    • Protest supporting Roe v. Wade takes over campus (Bryan Steven Monge Serrano, Stanford Daily): “About 250 students, faculty and staff came together to chant and march.” ]
      • “Takes over campus” is an exaggeration. 250 people? There are classes larger than that. Having said that, the bulk of the student body at Stanford is undeniably on the pro-Roe side. I wonder if the small rally indicates a level of apathy or simply a desire to wait for the actual verdict to be released.
    • Why I welcome the prospect of Roe v. Wade being overturned (Avi Shafran, NBC News): “Roe was a sledgehammer, and wrongly wielded. In the wake of its reversal, citizens in each state would be charged with using a scalpel to instead craft laws that treat nascent life with respect while accommodating the protection of women’s well-being.”
      • Interesting thoughts from a Rabbi. He comes down in a different place than most people you have heard from.
    • How Dare They! (Andrew Sullivan, Substack): “What strikes me most in these takes is the underlying contempt for and suspicion of the democratic process — from many of the same people who insist they want to save it. How dare voters have a say on abortion rights! The issue — which divides the country today as much as it has for decades — is one that apparently cannot ever be put up for a vote. On this question, Democrats really do seem to believe that seven men alone should make that decision — once, in 1973. Women today, including one on SCOTUS? Not so much.”
    • Pro-Life Ministries Have Been Caring For Women And Babies For Generations (Warren Cole Smith, Ministry Watch): “More than 2500 pro-life Pregnancy Resource Centers (PRCs) are a compassionate army of staff, donors, and volunteers that number in the hundreds of thousands. They are committed to helping women make life-giving choices, and they often support these women for years after their babies are born. The total amount of money these organizations spend in support of women and babies is not known, but it likely exceeds $1 billion annually. We should also note that the vast majority of adoptions in this country are done by Christian families and through Christian adoption agencies.”
    • The Supreme Court Leak Was an Unplanned Complication for Pregnancy Centers (Emily Belz, Christianity Today): “I try to shield my team from it here,” she said, telling them not to get online and try to defend themselves. “I saw a post on Instagram: ‘I’ve never met a pro-life person who is addressing access to health care, accessible childcare, college education.’ Hundreds of people are commenting, ‘Yeah I’ve never met one of those.’ I’m thinking I’m going to lose my mind. We’re here! We’re getting women into housing same day, we’re getting them out of domestic violence same day, we’re getting them furniture the same day,” Marten continued. “For my team to go home every day and turn on the news and social media and get gaslit, saying, ‘If you really cared …’ It’s an emotional toll.”
  6. On China
    • China’s Bizarre Authoritarian-Libertarian COVID Strategy (Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution): “On the one hand, China has confined millions of people to their homes, even to the extent of outlawing walking outside or having food delivered. Many thousands of other people have been taken from their homes and put into quarantine centers. On the other hand, vaccination is not mandatory! I can understand authoritarianism. I can understand libertarianism. I have difficulty understanding how jailing people, potentially without food, is ok but requiring vaccinations is not.”
    • Dramatic story of Kyrgyz Christian swept up in China’s Uyghur repression gets very little ink (Julia Duin, GetReligion): “While unimaginable horrors persisted in the camp, Joseph testified about how God worked in the hearts of the inmates around them. They had no privacy in any part of the complex, with cameras in their rooms and microphones for monitoring. Thus, 50 to 60 inmates filled the shower room every day and it was the only place where Joseph could share his faith. The water from the shower heads made enough noise to mask their conversations.  In the first few months, there was hardly anyone who would talk to him about God. Then the question began. ‘How could God let us be here in this place?’ they would ask. ‘How could God allow our children to be abandoned?’ ” Crazy details, especially if you follow the links in the article.
    • TikTok May Be More Dangerous Than It Looks (Ezra Klein, New York Times): “TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company. And Chinese companies are vulnerable to the whims and the will of the Chinese government.… TikTok’s real power isn’t over our data. It’s over what users watch and create. It’s over the opaque algorithm that governs what gets seen and what doesn’t. TikTok has been thick with videos backing the Russian narrative on the war in Ukraine. Media Matters, for instance, tracked an apparently coordinated campaign driven by 186 Russian TikTok influencers who normally post beauty tips, prank videos and fluff. And we know that China has been amplifying Russian propaganda worldwide. How comfortable are we with not knowing whether the Chinese Communist Party decided to weigh in on how the algorithm treats these videos?”
    • Why Chinese Culture Has Not Conquered Us All (Tanner Greer, personal blog): “Outside of its own borders, post-Deng China has a poor record selling the intangible. Chinese cultural influence is not commensurate with China’s economic power or geopolitical heft. For the last two decades observers of China have pondered this mystery. Why has China’s growing global prominence, prosperous commercialized economy, and huge global diaspora not led to cultural influence? Why have both China’s intellectual high culture and its expansive pop culture offerings failed to take root outside of the Sinosphere?” Very thoughtful, as I have come to expect from Greer.

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 The Pint‐Size Nation off the English Coast (Ian Urbina, The Atlantic): “Though no country formally recognizes Sealand, its sovereignty has been hard to deny. Half a dozen times, the British government and assorted other groups, backed by mercenaries, have tried and failed to take over the platform by force.” First shared in volume 217.

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.

Disclaimer

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.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 349

much about Dobbs, Roe, and the implications thereof

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.

I wish this issue was less rushed (and therefore better edited and more compact), but I’ve been dealing with a family emergency and have had less time to read and write than normal.

This is volume 349, a prime number.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The big news this week is the leak of the Supreme Court draft opinion portending a reversal of Roe v Wade.
    • It’s not often that I interject my own views into one of these weekly roundups, but given the contentiousness of this issue I think it is only fair you know where I am coming from. I am pro-life. In solidarity with the Christmas story (wherein God became incarnate in the womb) and with Christians throughout the ages, I believe abortion is a bad thing and the rare cases where it is medically necessary to save the life of the mother are tragic. I am grateful that the Supreme Court appears to be on the verge of righting a great injustice for which they are responsible in the first place. Furthermore, I do not view this as a partisan issue even though it is commonly perceived that way: there are pro-life Democrats as well as pro-life Republicans. In fact, there would be many more pro-life Democrats in office were it not for a concerted effort to marginalize them within the party.
    • If you have not read this classic article in the Atlantic I suggest you read it before anything else: The Dishonesty of the Abortion Debate (Caitlin Flanagan, The Atlantic): “The truth is that the best argument on each side is a damn good one, and until you acknowledge that fact, you aren’t speaking or even thinking honestly about the issue. You certainly aren’t going to convince anybody. Only the truth has the power to move.”
    • If Roe Is Dead (Colin Hansen, Gospel Coalition): “If Roe is dead, more children will live.… this is the day so many of us have labored and prayed to see. We can rejoice that God has heard our pleas that he would rectify this injustice. And we can move forward in every way possible to protect as many children as we can: by banning abortion where possible, by bolstering crisis pregnancy centers, by building stronger foster care systems, and much more.”
    • Receiving Justice with Gratitude (Samuel D. James, Substack): “It has commonly been suggested that opposing Roe v Wade is morally illegitimate unless it is accompanied with a kind of maximalist support for a social safety net. In other words, it has been suggested that you’re not really pro-life if you oppose abortion but support capitalism; you’re not really pro-life if you hate Roe v. Wade but don’t vote for candidates who vow to redistribute wealth; you’re not really pro-life if all you want is to stop abortion rather than providing extensive care and support for baby and mother.… Receive justice with gratitude.” This gets to close to something I’ve been trying to articulate to myself, but it’s not quite what I want to say. But it’s close.
    • Statement on the leaked Alito draft opinion in Dobbs (Robert George, Mirror of Justice): “If, as the leaked draft opinion seems to suggest, the Supreme Court has decided to reverse Roe and return the question of abortion entirely to the legislative domain, then the pro-life movement faces a new set of challenges—challenges even more daunting than overturning Roe. In the face of profound opposition from the wealthiest, most powerful, and most influential forces and institutions in the country, the movement needs to extend the protections of law on terms of fairness and equality to mothers and children alike. Going still further, it needs to work in both the public and private spheres to provide necessary support for mothers and children, never allowing their interests or well-being to be pitted against each other. To its great credit, the pro-life movement has been doing this since before Roe v. Wade—again, in the face of hostility from the most powerful forces. We will need now to do more and better. We can and we will.” Robert George is a law professor at Princeton.
    • If Roe v. Wade Is Overturned, What’s Next? (Jeannie Suk Gersen, New Yorker): “It may also be only a matter of time, if Mississippi prevails, before pro-life legal efforts turn toward getting the Supreme Court to recognize the constitutional rights of the fetus. These efforts would focus on the same part of the Constitution that was previously held to provide the right to abortion, the Fourteenth Amendment, which prohibits states from depriving ‘any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.’” The author is a Harvard Law prof.
    • About post-Roe politics and Biden’s evolving doctrines on choosing to ‘abort a child’ (Terry Mattingly, GetReligion): “Once upon a time, Sen. Joe Biden was almost a pro-life Catholic Democrat. This may be the reason — as journalists frequently note — that he seems uncomfortable saying ‘abortion’ in public remarks.”
    • An article by someone outraged: Of Course the Constitution Has Nothing to Say About Abortion (Jill Lepore, The New Yorker): “This will be, in large part, because Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito is surprised that there is so little written about abortion in a four-thousand-word document crafted by fifty-five men in 1787. As it happens, there is also nothing at all in that document, which sets out fundamental law, about pregnancy, uteruses, vaginas, fetuses, placentas, menstrual blood, breasts, or breast milk. There is nothing in that document about women at all.”
      • Overall a good article (although I think it demonstrates the opposite of what it intends to demonstrate). Also, although the rhetoric in the excerpt is powerful, it’s unfair — there’s also nothing in the Constitution about testes, sperm or penises. I find this is often the case in the abortion debate: powerful rhetoric that covers over weaknesses in the the substance of the argument.
    • Another not-thrilled perspective: God Damn America (Jack Mirkinson, Substack): “The final opinion could differ, but what we have in front of us is an extremist, illegitimate opinion from an extremist, illegitimate court, one that sees women as serfs and breeders, that sees queer people as subhuman, that sees minorities of every kind as dirt under its collective shoe. It is happily dragging us into the dark ages. Alito and everyone who joins him are evil people. No hell is too hot for them.”
    • A pretty extreme outraged perspective: As the US supreme court moves to end abortion, is America still a free country? (Moira Donegan, The Guardian): “Some have raised doubts about whether America can call itself a democracy, now that policymaking power has been largely taken over by the unelected courts – whose decisions, like this one, are so radically out of step with, and indifferent to, public opinion. But it is also worth wondering whether any country can call itself a democracy that does not protect abortion rights.”
      • It is odd to claim now as the point when courts have taken over electoral power when it was the Supreme Court itself that imposed abortion upon every state outside of their democratic processes. If this draft is illegitimate because it’s not a byproduct of an electoral process, then that’s one more reason that Roe v Wade was itself illegitimate.
    • You can see other abortion-related content from previous weekly roundups at https://glenandpaula.com/wordpress/archives/tag/abortion
  2. Not related but related: Is Support for Single Motherhood and Cohabitation Falling in the U.S.? (Alysse ElHage, Institute for Family Studies): “…as more Americans have experienced cohabitation, either personally or through watching friends or family cohabit, more people are realizing that living together just does not compare to marriage in terms of relationship quality or stability. That could explain why Pew found a difference based on age. A Pew spokeswoman told me via email, ‘adults ages 30 to 49, 50 to 64, and ages 65+ were more likely than in 2018 to say [cohabitation] is a bad thing for society.’ However, there was no similar shift among 18 to 29-year-olds.”
  3. About the leak itself:
    • Why the Dobbs Leak Is Dangerous (Mark Movsesian, First Things): “In disclosing the draft opinion now, rather than in February when it circulated, the leaker presumably means to do one of two things. First, the leaker might hope that public pressure will intimidate one or more of the justices and affect the outcome of the case. Possibly, the leaker is a conservative clerk trying to keep Alito’s majority intact, on the theory that it would be too embarrassing for a justice to change his or her mind in these circumstances. More likely, though, the leaker is a progressive who hopes an angry public reaction will make a member of Alito’s majority reconsider.  Alternatively, the leaker might know that Justice Alito’s majority is solid and that trying to change anyone’s mind is useless. In that case, the leaker’s goal likely would be, quite simply, to wreck the Court as an institution—because that is what a leak like this accomplishes.” The author is a former Supreme Court clerk and currently a law professor at St. John’s University.
    • How rare is a Supreme Court breach? Very rare (Josh Gerstein, Politico): “[Law prof and Supreme Court biographer] Wermiel said the justices typically argue that confidentiality is critical to the high court’s operation and collegiality. ‘They think it will chill their deliberation with one another and their candor and willingness to be open in exchange of views,’ Wermiel said. Some also contend that such reports distract from the court’s most enduring work: its opinions.”
    • Whodunnit? (Josh Blackman, The Volokh Conspiracy): “And a Justice must know that authorizing this leak would probably lead to impeachment proceedings. I do not think this leak came from a chambers.There is [another] option: the leak did not come from a chambers.… Rather, the leak may have come from someone with access to the Supreme Court’s draft opinions. And history suggest that this sort of leak is possible.” The author is a law prof at South Texas College of Law.
    • What If The SCOTUS Leak Came From A Foreign Hack? (Josh Blackman, The Volokh Conspiracy): “But there is another entity that may want to burn down the Supreme Court, and tear apart the American people: a foreign government. If that was the intent, the plan was successful. Look no further than the groups publishing the addresses of Supreme Court justices. Plus, as a benefit to foreign states, the torrent of news has taken Ukraine out of the headlines. Through this lens, the hack becomes much more plausible.”
  4. 103 Bits of Advice I Wish I Had Known (Kevin Kelly, personal blog): this is something he does every year. My two favorites were: “There is no such thing as being ‘on time.’ You are either late or you are early. Your choice.” and “Aim to die broke. Give to your beneficiaries before you die; it’s more fun and useful. Spend it all. Your last check should go to the funeral home and it should bounce.
  5. What if You Didn’t Have to File a Tax Return? (Jeremy Horpedahl, blog): “In ‘Automatic Tax Filing: Simulating a Pre-Populated Form 1040,’ the authors use a large sample of tax returns to estimate how many taxpayers a pre-filled return would work for. The results are almost split down the middle: it would work well for maybe half of US taxpayers (41–48% of taxpayers, depending on how we are defining successful). For the other half, it wouldn’t give you an accurate estimate of how much tax you owed. And the errors can be large.“The author is an econ prof at the University of Central Arkansas (home of a great Chi Alpha, incidentally). I had assumed this was simply a byproduct of lobbying, not that there were actual technical reasons not to do it.
  6. The UFO briefings on Capitol Hill have begun. Lawmakers aren’t impressed. (Bryan Bender, Politico): “Lawmakers receiving the latest secret briefings on UFOs say national security agencies still aren’t taking seriously the reports of highly advanced aircraft of unknown origin violating protected airspace.”
  7. America flexes its maritime muscles! U.S. Air Force successfully tests 2,000-pound air-launched ‘quicksink’ bomb and blasts cargo ship out of the sea in one strike (Tom Brown, Daily Mail): “Quicksink risks relatively low-cost aircraft when compared with the danger of losing a submarine to enemy retaliation after a torpedo strike.… A single F‑15EX costs $87.7 million per aircraft, whereas a US submarine can cost up to $2.8 billion per unit, according to Aero Corner.” The accompanying video is impressive.

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 How Pornography Makes Us Less Human and Less Humane (Matthew Lee Anderson, The Gospel Coalition): “Beneath pornography is the supposition that the mere fact of our desire for a woman makes us worthy of her. And so, not being bound by any kind of norm, desire must proceed endlessly. It is no surprise that the industrialized, cheap‐and‐easy sex of pornography has answered and evoked an almost unrestrained sexual greed, which allows us to be gods and goddesses within the safety of our own fantasies. It is for deep and important reasons that the Ten Commandments use the economic language of ‘coveting’ to describe the badness of errant sexual desires.” First shared in volume 216.

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.

Disclaimer

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.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 335

spicier content than normal — you have been warned

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 335. The number 335 is pretty cool because it is divisible by the number of primes below it (335 = 67 · 5, and there are 67 primes less than 335).

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. No, Religious Freedom Doesn’t Send People to Hell (Russell Moore, Christianity Today): “Religious freedom is a restriction on the power of the state to set itself up as a mediator between God and humanity. It is not an affirmation of idolatry, just as saying, ‘The government shouldn’t take your baby away and raise your children’ is not an affirmation of bad parenting. Saying parents should raise their children, instead of the government, does not mean everyone’s parenting is good.”
  2. About identity issues
    • No, the Revolution Isn’t Over (N.S. Lyons, Substack): “In what is rapidly becoming one of my preferred explanations for the Revolution, the evolutionary anthropologist/mathematician/prophet of doom Peter Turchin has identified ‘elite overproduction’ as having been one of the top drivers of revolution and civil conflict throughout history. He points to the tendency for decadent societies to produce far more overeducated elites than there are elite-level jobs, leading to large numbers of underemployed, resentful elite-class intellectuals of the type who tend pine after the position and status they ‘deserve’ and eventually start spending their free time starting revolutionary cells.”
      • This is long and full of insight. And very, very spicy. I have no idea who the author is — N.S. Lyons is a pen name for a DC area analyst with expertise in the Chinese Communist Party. I assume he finds the pen name necessary to protect his professional reputation when he writes about American culture. Did I mention it was spicy?
    • The Trans Movement Is Not About Rights Anymore (Andrew Sullivan, Substack): “This week, the writer Colin Wright posed on Twitter the following question: ‘What rights do trans people currently not have but want that don’t involve replacing biological sex with one’s subjective ‘gender identity’?’ And the response was, of course, crickets. The truth is: the 6–3 Bostock decision places trans people in every state under the protection of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It’s done. It’s built on the sturdy prohibition on sex discrimination. A Trump nominee wrote the ruling. What the trans movement is now doing, after this comprehensive victory, is not about rights at all. It is about cultural revolution.”
    • Why I am no longer a tenured professor at the University of Toronto (Jordan Peterson, National Post): “My students are also partly unacceptable precisely because they are my students. I am academic persona non grata, because of my unacceptable philosophical positions. And this isn’t just some inconvenience. These facts rendered my job morally untenable. How can I accept prospective researchers and train them in good conscience knowing their employment prospects to be minimal?”
    • Being Jewish in an Unraveling America (Bari Weiss, Substack): “The bad guy was killed. The good guys were saved. It doesn’t often turn out that way. All the Jews I know—even the atheists—are thanking God.  But why, despite my gratitude, do I feel so much rage? Why does it feel like there is so little comfort to be found? What has changed? I did not feel this way in the horrific aftermath of the Tree of Life massacre—the most lethal in all of American Jewish history.… What I now see is this: In America captured by tribalism and dehumanization, in an America swept up by ideologies that pit us against one another in a zero-sum game, in an America enthralled with the poisonous idea that some groups matter more than others, not all Jews—and not all Jewish victims—are treated equally. What seems to matter most to media pundits and politicians is not the Jews themselves, but the identities of their attackers. And it scares me.”
  3. The Pro-Life Movement’s Moral Doublespeak (Aaron Renn, Substack): “But the modern Christian church has put forth a fake reality in which women are almost always the victim except in rare, extreme cases. They seem incapable of admitting that women who abort their babies know what they are doing. They can’t bring themselves to even acknowledge that women initiate about 70% of all divorces. When pastors write entire books about marriage and never once mention the basic and well known fact that women file for the vast majority of divorces – and that’s every Christian marriage book I’ve ever read – they aren’t serious people. They justify and excuse almost any female behavior, and even twist reality to somehow blame men for it.” There are several uncomfortable insights in this essay.
  4. China’s Births Hit Historic Low, a Political Problem for Beijing (Steven Lee Myers and Alexandra Stevenson, New York Times): “The number of births fell to 10.6 million in 2021, compared with 12 million the year before, according to figures reported on Monday by the National Bureau of Statistics. That was fewer even than the number in 1961, when the Great Leap Forward, Mao Zedong’s economic policy, resulted in widespread famine and death.”
  5. Buy Things, Not Experiences (Harold Lee, personal blog):  “…the focus on minimalism sounds like a new form of conspicuous consumption. Now that even the poor can afford material goods, let’s denigrate goods while highlighting the remaining luxuries that only the affluent can enjoy and show off to their friends.”
    • This is a short, well-argued contrarian take. Stuff like this is catnip to me.
  6. About the pandemic:
    • Hong Kongers Rebel Against Order to Hand Over Hamsters (Rob Quinn, Newser): “After a woman and 11 hamsters in the pet shop she worked in tested positive for COVID, authorities said Tuesday that anybody who bought a hamster on or after Dec. 22 should hand it in to be euthanized. But while the territory generally has a high level of compliance with COVID orders, the hamster order was widely seen as a step too far…”
    • To Fight Covid, We Need to Think Less Like Doctors (Aaron E. Carroll, New York Times): “Caring for an individual and protecting a population require different priorities, practices and ways of thinking. While it may sound counterintuitive, to heal the country and put our Covid-19 response on the right track, we need to think less like doctors.” The author is both a physician and also the chief health officer at Indiana University.
    • Omicron optimist, pessimist or fatalist – which are you? (Tim Harford, personal blog): “Is this the point at which we should shrug our shoulders and give up? Omicron has prompted three kinds of reaction: optimism, pessimism and fatalism.… What’s confusing is that all three views may be right. Omicron is quite plausibly mild, catastrophic and inevitable all at once.” The author is a British economist. 
    • Lying About Covid For ‘International Harmony’ (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “Inch by painful inch, the truth is being dragged out about how this pandemic started. It is just about understandable, if not forgivable, that Chinese scientists have obfuscated vital information about early cases and their work with similar viruses in Wuhan’s laboratories: they were subject to fierce edicts from a ruthless, totalitarian regime. It is more shocking to discover in emails released this week that some western scientists were also saying different things in public from what they thought in private.” Contains excerpts from a paywalled article.
    • School Closures Were a Catastrophic Error. Progressives Still Haven’t Reckoned With It. (Jonathan Chait, NY Magazine): “It is always easier to diagnose these pathologies when they are taking place on the other side. You’ve probably seen the raft of papers showing how vaccine uptake correlates with Democratic voting and COVID deaths correlate with Republican voting. Perhaps you have marveled at the spectacle of Republican elites actively harming their own audience. But the same thing Fox News hosts were doing to their elderly supporters, progressive activists were doing to their side’s young ones.” It may not be obvious, but this article dovetails very nicely with the Dreher article about elites not being truthful and not reckoning with mistakes.
  7. The long-term effects of protestant activities in China (Yuyu Chen, Hui Wang, Se Yan, Journal of Comparative Economics): “Our findings imply that late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century Protestant missionaries pioneered that modernization movement by disseminating, along with Christianity, Western science and technology to even the most remote regions of China. Such efforts accelerated the pace of modernization, contributed to the accumulation of human capital, and reshaped the social values of local people. Although these historical legacies of missionaries’ undertakings were suppressed during the Cultural Revolution, they rapidly resurged and began to contribute to socioeconomic developments when China began to open up and reform.” The authors appear to be scholars at Peking University.

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 Jesus, Mary, and Joe Jonas (Jonathan Parks‐Ramage, Medium): “How, in famously liberal Hollywood and among statistically progressive millennials, had good old‐fashioned evangelism [sic] gained popularity? In this context, a church like Reality L.A. seemed like something that could never work. But that evening, as I reflected on the troubled actress and the psychic brutalities inflicted by the entertainment industry, it occurred to me that I had underestimated Hollywood’s biggest product: lost souls.” First shared in volume 192 

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.

Disclaimer

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.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 328

Everything from baptisms to abortion to perceived nooses. Also self-replicating robots which is nothing to worry about at all.

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 328, which is the year that one of my favorite church leaders became a bishop: Athanasius.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The Supreme Court reconsiders abortion:
    • The Supreme Court seems poised to uphold Mississippi’s abortion law. (Adam Liptak, New York Times): “The Supreme Court seemed poised on Wednesday to uphold a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, based on sometimes tense and heated questioning at a momentous argument in the most important abortion case in decades. Such a ruling would be flatly at odds with what the court has said was the central holding of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to abortion and prohibited states from banning the procedure before fetal viability, or around 23 weeks. But the court’s six-member conservative majority seemed divided about whether to stop at 15 weeks, for now at least, or whether to overrule Roe entirely, allowing states to ban abortions at any time or entirely.”
    • For a free, nonpaywalled analysis check out Majority of court appears poised to roll back abortion rights (Amy Howe, SCOTUSblog)
    • Why Roe Will Fall And Obergefell Won’t (Andrew Sullivan, Substack): “In Roe, the Court tried to jumpstart a consensus and failed to secure it, with public opinion very similar now to where it was half a century ago. In Obergefell, the Court waited until there was majority support, which arrived, according to Gallup, in 2011, and the Court then validated a still-growing societal consensus four years later.”
  2. Lowering the Voting Age (J. Budziszewski, personal blog): “People who discuss lowering the voting age – not only those for it but also those against – assume that it would mean a transfer of political influence to the young. That is absurd. It would mean no such thing. Although the very young are often very sure of their opinions and convinced that they have made up their own minds, they lack the maturity to form their minds independently. So to lower the voting age would not mean increasing the political influence of the young. It would only mean increasing the political clout of those who have influence through the young.”
    • That’s a really good point I hadn’t considered. The author is a professor of philosophy and of government at UT Austin.
  3. Horse Troughs, Hot Tubs and Hashtags: Baptism Is Getting Wild (Ruth Graham, New York Times): “Contemporary evangelical baptisms are often raucous affairs. Instead of subdued hymns and murmurs, think roaring modern worship music, fist pumps, tears and boisterous cheering. There are photographers, selfie stations and hashtags for social media. One church in Texas calls its regular mass baptism event a ‘plunge party.’ ”
    • This is an interesting article mostly for how interesting utterly normal things can seem to NY Times readers.
  4. She set out to save her daughter from fentanyl. She had no idea what she would face on the streets of San Francisco (Heather Knight, San Francisco Chronicle): “I asked Jessica if she thought she would ever leave San Francisco. ‘It’s like a vortex,’ she said. ‘I want to get out of here. But why the f— would I leave here if I have everything I need given to me? It might be enabling or it might be keeping you in a cycle, but at least you can survive,’ she continued. ‘That’s better than a lot of places.’ ”
    • The wages of sin is death. What a gut-punch of a story.
  5. Race Panic! Stanford investigates “cords with loops that may represent nooses” (Maxwell Meyer, Stanford Review): “Calling out and addressing racism? No, these Stanford administrators are committed to inventing racism. Though, I must hand it to them: Dean Hicks and her ‘institutional equity’ sidekick Mr. Dunkley might not realize it, but there is a beautiful, almost poetic irony to the timing of their email. They rushed to inform Stanford students of an alleged race incident on the very day that the criminal trial of Jussie Smollett, the greatest of all race hoaxers, began in Chicago. That little coincidence is the cherry on top of this giant farce.”
    • Meyer’s take is, as far as I can tell, entirely correct. If those loops looked at all like nooses we’d have photos.
  6. Team builds first living robots—that can reproduce (Joshua Brown, University of Vermont press release): “Some people may find this exhilarating. Others may react with concern, or even terror, to the notion of a self-replicating biotechnology. For the team of scientists, the goal is deeper understanding.”
  7. The Business of Extracting Knowledge from Academic Publications (Markus Strasser, personal blog): “I had to wrap my head around the fact that close to nothing of what makes science actually work is published as text on the web. Research questions that can be answered logically through just reading papers and connecting the dots don’t require a biotech corp to be formed around them. There’s much less logic and deduction happening than you’d expect in a scientific discipline.”
    • Long and poorly formatted, but with an interesting core idea. Emphasis in original.

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 Elisha and the She‐bears (Peter J Williams, Twitter): an insightful Twitter thread about a disturbing OT story. The author is the Warden of Tyndale House at Cambridge. First shared in volume 179.

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.

Disclaimer

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.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 327

Two weeks of content distilled into one. It’s like juice concentrate!

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 327, and 327 is the largest number such that it together with its double and triple contain every digit 1–9 once: 327 doubled is 654 and tripled it is 981. Odd but cool.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The Teacher Who Never Spoke (Maureeen Swinger, Plough): “The summer my brother Duane turned twenty, a formidable young man stayed with us on a break from the Ivy League. He had never, to anyone’s knowledge, lost an argument. Several weeks into his visit, my mother walked into the dining room where my brother and his friend were, in theory, eating lunch. In reality, both men were sitting at the table with locked jaws. One didn’t have to say, ‘I need you to eat.’ The other didn’t need to say, ‘Hell, no.’ They both knew exactly what was going on: the Ivy Leaguer was losing an argument to my brother, who had never learned to speak.”
    • This is from a while ago (2017), but I must have missed it. Simply astounding. I wept while reading it. Anyone taking a class where Peter Singer’s philosophy is highly regarded should read this ASAP.
  2. She was sold to a stranger so her family could eat as Afghanistan crumbles (Anna Coren, Jessie Yeung and Abdul Basir Bina, CNN): “Magul, a 10-year-old girl in neighboring Ghor province, cries every day as she prepares to be sold to a 70-year-old man to settle her family’s debts. Her parents had borrowed 200,000 Afghanis ($2,200) from a neighbor in their village — but without a job or savings, they have no way of returning the money.”
    • This is one of the most depressing things I have read in some time.
  3. What happens when people in Texas can’t get abortions: ‘Diapers save a lot more babies than ultrasounds’ (Casey Parks, Washington Post): “I always tell people, ‘Diapers save a lot more babies than ultrasounds.’ ” Haring said. “I don’t want an ultrasound machine. I want tons of diapers. Buy me $20,000, $40,000, $50,000 worth of diapers because if you have a woman who comes in with four kids — yeah, looking at the baby, she realizes it’s a human being. But if you tell her, ‘I’m going to give you diapers for all four kids,’ believe me, the diapers for all four kids is going to save that baby a lot quicker than a little pennant on the screen.”
    • It’s rare to read a sympathetic story about a pro-life center in a major American newspaper.
  4. Philip Yancey’s Message of Grace (Peter Wehner, The Atlantic): “Yancey told the parents in the audience that, biblically, God grieves as much as they do; that God loves their children as much as they do; and that God is deeply pained by the state of this broken world. To his surprise, he found his faith affirmed rather than shattered. He witnessed in person something the theologian Miroslav Volf wrote on the day after the Newtown shootings: ‘Those who observe suffering are tempted to reject God; those who experience it often cannot give up on God, their solace and their agony.’ ”
    • This is one of the most gospel-centric articles I have read in a major publication in quite some time.
  5. When All The Media Narratives Collapse (Andrew Sullivan, Substack): “If you look back at the last few years, the record of errors, small and large, about major stories, is hard to deny. It’s as if the more Donald Trump accused the MSM of being ‘fake news’ the more assiduously they tried to prove him right.”
  6. His Reasons for Opposing Trump Were Biblical. Now a Top Christian Editor Is Out. (Ben Smith, New York Times): “As the longtime editor of World, a Christian news organization that has a website, a biweekly magazine and a set of podcasts, Mr. Olasky has delivered a mix of hard news and watchdog articles about the evangelical realm under a journalistic philosophy he calls ‘biblical objectivity.’ It involves taking strong stands where the Bible is clear, which has led World to oppose abortion rights and support refugees, he says, and to follow reportable facts where the Bible doesn’t provide clear guidance.”
  7. Some pandemic perspectives:
    • The Covid pandemic is not taking the very best of turns (Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution): “While the fog of war is thick right now, the early data on Nu suggests that it may be a big deal. Even if it’s not, however, it has been obvious since we got the vaccines that vaccine escape is a concern. You can debate whether the probability of a vaccine escaping variant is 20% or 80%, but in any case we need effective contingency plans in place. If we fail to respond effectively to Nu, that will be a considerably greater institutional failure than anything that happened at the outset of the pandemic. We’ve had almost two years since the first COVID case and one year from the vaccine approvals to prepare. So I ask: what is the plan for the vaccine-escaping variant?”
    • The Weirdness of Government Variation in COVID-19 Responses (Richard Hanania, Substack): “But imagine at the start of the pandemic, someone had said to you ‘Everyone will face the existence of the same disease, and have access to the exact same tools to fight it. But in some EU countries or US states, people won’t be allowed to leave their house and have to cover their faces in public. In other places, government will just leave people alone. Vast differences of this sort will exist across jurisdictions that are similar on objective metrics of how bad the pandemic is at any particular moment.’ I would’ve found this to be a very unlikely outcome! You could’ve convinced me EU states would do very little on COVID-19, or that they would do lockdowns everywhere. I would not have believed that you could have two neighboring countries that have similar numbers, but one of them forces everyone to stay home, while the other doesn’t. This is the kind of extreme variation in policy we don’t see in other areas.”
    • The Vaccine Moment, part one (Paul Kingsnorth, Substack): “Covid is a revelation. It has lain bare splits in the social fabric that were always there but could be ignored in better times. It has revealed the compliance of the legacy media and the power of Silicon Valley to curate and control the public conversation. It has confirmed the sly dishonesty of political leaders, and their ultimate obeisance to corporate power. It has shown up ‘The Science’ for the compromised ideology it is. Most of all, it has revealed the authoritarian streak that lies beneath so many people, and which always emerges in fearful times.”
    • A tweet that made me laugh: “The WHO chose Omicron over Nu for the variant of concern, probably because it sounds too much like ‘new.’ But the next letter is not Omicron but Xi. Was that a little too on the nose?” (Jared Walczak, Twitter)

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 What Is It Like to Be a Man? (Phil Christman, The Hedgehog Review): “I live out my masculinity most often as a perverse avoidance of comfort: the refusal of good clothes, moisturizer, painkillers; hard physical training, pursued for its own sake and not because I enjoy it; a sense that there is a set amount of physical pain or self‐imposed discipline that I owe the universe.” Very well‐written. Everyone will likely find parts they resonate with and parts they reject. The author is a lecturer at the University of Michigan and based on his CV seems to be a fairly devoted Episcopalian. First shared in volume 178.

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.

Disclaimer

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.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 318

First, a word to new students: welcome! This might be your first email from Chi Alpha and if so you might be a little confused.

For the last several years, I have been sharing articles/resources every Friday about broad cultural, societal and theological issues.

I was inspired by the tribe of Issachar from the time of King David. They 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.

Be sure to see the disclaimers at the bottom. Also, I welcome your suggestions. If you read something fascinating please pass it my way.

All that having been said, here is 318th roundup of things I have found interesting (318, I am told, is the number of unlabeled partially ordered sets of 6 elements).

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The American Crisis of Selective Empathy (David French, The Dispatch): “…America is experiencing an empathy crisis. But it’s not quite the crisis you might think. Our empathy can overflow for the people we love, for the people within our tribe—even when they make grave errors. But what about our empathy for ‘them,’ the people we distrust? Then empathy is in short supply. Indeed, in some cases, the very concept of empathy is under fire.”
    • Related: The Limits of My Empathy for Covid Deniers (Tressie McMillan Cottom, New York Times): “Because I value being a thinking person, I honor emotions like empathy, fear, joy and trust to guide me around the pitfalls of my ego. Ego makes for really sloppy analysis and writing. I am at a point where headlines about ill and dying Covid deniers do not pull at my empathy strings the way I want them to.”
  2. Norm Macdonald’s Spiritual Journey (Nic Rowan, First Things): “Macdonald may have only been dabbling in Christianity, but his criticisms of the post-Christian world were often incisive. He had no tolerance for scientism and laughed at atheists. He frequently lampooned the likes of Neil deGrasse Tyson, Richard Dawkins, and Bill Maher. And he wasn’t afraid to make dark predictions about a future dominated by their successors.”
  3. Fired After Getting Vaccinated—And Encouraging Others to Do So (Emma Green, The Atlantic): “I was trying to use my platform to share the truth. You’re right that Christians should be people of the truth—not just that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, but also the truth about what is real. The question is: How do you get the truth to people? We live in a time where information is coming at us from all over. It’s not necessarily that people don’t want to believe the truth.” This is a solid interview. Darling comes off very well.
  4. Effect size is significantly more important than statistical significance. (Ben Recht, personal blog): “In either case we are talking about a difference of 15 cases between the treatment and control villages in a population of 32,000 individuals.… If the effect size is so small that we need sophisticated statistics, maybe that means the effect isn’t real. Using sophisticated statistical scaffolding clouds our judgement. We end up using statistical methods as a crutch, not to dig signals out of noise, but to convince ourselves of signals when there are none.” The author is a professor of machine learning and data analysis at Berkeley.
  5. Why America needs the Black church for its own survival (Charlie Date, Washington Post): “The difference between the Black church and any other Christian institution in America is that rather than abandoning Scripture as a tool of our oppression, we apply Scripture as God’s rule for our liberty and living. The difference is in how our social ethic is rooted in both righteousness and justice, not either righteousness or justice. The difference is that we’ve come to see Jesus and his power to sustain and flourish us from the margins without the benefit of large donors, political capital or ownership of media outlets.” The author is pastor of a prominent Black church in Chicago as well as a seminary professor.
  6. Roe Will Go (Robert P. George, First Things): “Let me offer a prediction, free of any face-saving hedge: Next year, the Supreme Court will hold that there is no constitutional right to elective abortions. In Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case pending before the court, it will return the issue to the states for the first time in forty-nine years. It will do so explicitly, calling out by name, and reversing in full, the two major cases that confected and then entrenched a constitutional right to elective abortion: Roe v. Wade (1973) and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992). And the vote will be six to three.” The author is a law professor at Princeton.

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 A One Parameter Equation That Can Exactly Fit Any Scatter Plot (Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution): “Overfitting is possible with just one parameter and so models with fewer parameters are not necessarily preferable even if they fit the data as well or better than models with more parameters.” Researchers take note. The underlying mathematics paper is well‐written and interesting: One Parameter Is Always Enough (Steven T. Piantadosi) — among other things, it points out that you can smuggle in arbitrarily large amounts of data into an equation through a single parameter because a number can have infinite digits. Obvious once stated, but I don’t know that it ever would have occurred to me. First shared in volume 154.

Disclaimer

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.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 317

lots of pandemic and vaccination stuff

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 317 — a prime number.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Too Good To Check: A Play In Three Acts (Scott Alexander, Astral Codex Ten): “Did you believe that? I mean, that’s also a pretty cool story, isn’t it? Right-wing news outlets accuse the so-called ‘liberal media’ of bias, then get hoist on their own petard? Seems a bit too cute. Have you clicked through to any of the links yet? No? Not even after I admitted I’m probably biased here?”
  2. On vaccinations
    • It’s Time to Stop Rationalizing and Enabling Evangelical Vaccine Rejection (David French, The Dispatch): “For the Christian believer, the pursuit of freedom is inseparable from the pursuit of virtue. We do not seek liberty simply to satisfy our desires or to appease our fears. In fact, when we pursue the freedom to make our neighbors sick, we violate the social compact and undermine our moral standing in politics, law, and culture. Christian libertinism becomes a long-term threat to religious liberty itself.”
      • Although I am vaccinated myself, I am more sympathetic to vaccine reluctants than French is. I definitely do not think it is a religious liberty issue, though. It seems to me that this is more a matter of personal autonomy and the reluctance is largely driven by self-inflicted damage from the authorities. The CDC (for example) has repeatedly said and done extraordinarily stupid things in this pandemic. Very often you would have been better off doing the opposite of what they advocated for. People noticed. And so now that the official advice is to receive the vaccine, people who are resistant are applying an understandable heuristic.
    • I’m a Former Pastor, and I Don’t Believe in ‘Religious Exemptions’ to Vaccine Mandates (Curtis Chang, New York Times): “Christians who request religious exemptions rarely even try to offer substantive biblical and theological reasoning. Rather, the drivers for evangelical resistance are nonreligious and are rooted in deep-seated suspicion of government and vulnerability to misinformation.… The biggest threat to any legitimate right is the illegitimate abuse of that right.” Recommended by a student. Curtis Chang used to pastor near here and although we’ve never met I emailed with him once about a book he had written.
    • NRB spokesman Dan Darling fired after pro-vaccine statements on ‘Morning Joe’ (Bob Smietana, Religion News Service): “Daniel Darling, senior vice president of communications for the National Religious Broadcasters, was fired Friday (Aug. 27) after refusing to recant his pro-vaccine statements, according to a source authorized to speak for Darling.”
    • The ACLU, Prior to COVID, Denounced Mandates and Coercive Measures to Fight Pandemics (Glenn Greenwald, Substack): “What makes the ACLU’s position so remarkable — besides the inherent shock of a civil liberties organization championing state mandates overriding individual choice — is that, very recently, the same group warned of the grave dangers of the very mindset it is now pushing. In 2008, the ACLU published a comprehensive report on pandemics which had one primary purpose: to denounce as dangerous and unnecessary attempts by the state to mandate, coerce, and control in the name of protecting the public from pandemics.”
  3. The pandemic more generally
    1. One in 5,000 (David Leonhardt, New York Times): “Here’s one way to think about a one-in-10,000 daily chance: It would take more than three months for the combined risk to reach just 1 percent… I will confess to one bit of hesitation about walking you through the data on breakthrough infections: It’s not clear how much we should be worrying about them. For the vaccinated, Covid resembles the flu and usually a mild one. Society does not grind to a halt over the flu.”
    2. New Details Emerge About Coronavirus Research at Chinese Lab (Sharon Lerner & Mara Hvistendahl, The Intercept): “The documents contain several critical details about the research in Wuhan, including the fact that key experimental work with humanized mice was conducted at a biosafety level 3 lab at Wuhan University Center for Animal Experiment — and not at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, as was previously assumed.” Recommended by a student
    3. New Studies Find Evidence Of ‘Superhuman’ Immunity To COVID-19 In Some Individuals (Michaleen Doucleff, NPR): “In fact, these antibodies were even able to deactivate a virus engineered, on purpose, to be highly resistant to neutralization. This virus contained 20 mutations that are known to prevent SARS-CoV‑2 antibodies from binding to it. Antibodies from people who were only vaccinated or who only had prior coronavirus infections were essentially useless against this mutant virus. But antibodies in people with the ‘hybrid immunity’ could neutralize it.”
  4. Steven Pinker Thinks Your Sense of Imminent Doom Is Wrong (David Marchese, New York Times): “Given that virtually every climate scientist believes that human activity is warming the planet, how could anyone deny it? The answer is, people don’t necessarily believe what scientists say because they correctly sense that within academia a person can get punished for unorthodox beliefs.”
    • Including entirely for that excerpt. What I find fascinating is that the journalist is dismissive of this idea, which is not only clearly true but at the root of much societal dysfunction. We have a crisis of confidence in our culture because our experts seem determined to demonstrate their untrustworthiness again and again. Journalists are even more to blame than academics, which is why I think it is so hard for this journalist to accept Pinker’s claim.
  5. Perspective: The moral utility of history (Jon Meacham, Deseret News): “As a matter of observable fact, the United States, through its sporadic adherence to its finest aspirations, is the most durable experiment in pluralistic republicanism the world has known. Other national revolutions have descended into dictatorship and persecution; ours has produced enviable, if fragile, democratic institutions. In the main, the America of the 21st century is, for all its shortcomings, freer and more accepting than it has ever been.” Recommended by an alumnus.
  6. On the Texas abortion law
    1. Texas’ Abortion Law Should Force America to Change Its Ways (Karen Swallow Prior, New York Times): “In America, of all the pregnancies that don’t end in miscarriage, nearly one in five is aborted; this is a society in which things are wildly off track. A world like this, spun by forces that lead to that many lives being undone, doesn’t happen by chance. It takes all of us. It takes a village to make abortion seem like the best choice. We can change our ways, though.” The author is an English professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
    2. The Pro-Life Movement Must Transcend Politics (David French, The Dispatch): “To be pro-life does not mean supporting every possible strategy, even if only temporarily successful (a Texas state court has already issued a broad injunction against the law), designed to ban or limit abortion. Strategies designed to ban abortion do not necessarily help end abortion, and ending abortion is the ultimate aim of the pro-life movement.”
    3. How a former SLS professor and Hoover fellow helped shape the Texas abortion ban (Sarina Deb and Georgia Rosenberg, Stanford Daily): “Jonathan Mitchell was a visiting professor at Stanford Law School and former fellow at the Hoover Institution when he theorized the legal mechanism which laid the groundwork for the controversial Texas abortion ban that went into effect last week. If states wanted to circumvent judicial review, Mitchell wrote in a 2018 law review article, they could delegate the power of enforcement to private citizens. That is exactly what S.B. 8 does.”
  7. Strategic Citing (Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution): “[Scholars are more likely to cite other scholars who can help them out]… The finding is robust to controlling for self-citations, own-journal citations, and a variety of other possibilities. The authors also show that deceased authors get fewer citations than matched living authors. For example, living Nobel prize winners get more citations than dead ones even when they were awarded the prize jointly.”

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 Why Being a Foster Child Made Me a Conservative (Rob Henderson, New York Times): “Individuals have rights. But they also have responsibilities. For instance, when I say parents should prioritize their children over their careers, there is a sense of unease among my peers. They think I want to blame individuals rather than a nebulous foe like poverty. They are mostly right.” At the time of writing, the author had just graduated from Yale. Worth reading regardless of your political allegiances. First shared in volume 153.

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.

Disclaimer

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.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 312

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.

312 is an idoneal number (which apparently there are only 65, 66 or 67 of — it’s wild how in math you can prove things that seem totally impossible to prove).

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The Bereans Had No Bibles: Re-envisioning Acts 17 (Griffin Gulledge, The Gospel Coalition): “The Bereans had no Bibles. It was rare for average folks in the early church to have an individual copy of the Scriptures. Indeed, it wasn’t until the Reformation era that mass production of God’s Word was even possible. What they had instead was a community—in this case the synagogue—which had a collection of writings we know as the Old Testament.”
  2. How Big Tech Targets Faith Groups for Censorship (Joshua D. Holdenried, Real Clear Religion): “Most tech companies’ user agreements ban content that discriminates on the basis of religion, yet their policies enable them to engage in such discrimination themselves.”
    • That is a very succinct way to express the hypocrisy. Put that sentence in your pocket — you will have occasion to use it more than you’d like in the future.
  3. Becerra and Biden Betray Medical Professionals Being Forced to Assist in Abortions (Roger Severino, National Review):  “The facts were stunning in their clarity, the victim was extremely credible and sympathetic, and the violator remained entirely callous and unrepentant. The UVMMC matter was the most open and shut conscience case in over a decade. I say was, because on Friday, the DOJ quietly, and voluntarily, dismissed the case. No admission of guilt, no injunction, no corrective action, no settlement, no nothing.”
  4. Related to health care:
    • Mistaken identity lands man in Hawaii mental hospital (Jennifer Sinco Kelleher, Associated Press): “Instead, against Spriestersbach’s protests that he wasn’t Castleberry, he was eventually committed to the Hawaii State Hospital. ‘Yet, the more Mr. Spriestersbach vocalized his innocence by asserting that he is not Mr. Castleberry, the more he was declared delusional and psychotic by the H.S.H. staff and doctors and heavily medicated… despite his continual denial of being Mr. Castleberry and providing all of his relevant identification and places where he was located during Mr. Castleberry’s court appearances, no one would believe him or take any meaningful steps to verify his identity and determine that what Mr. Spriestersbach was telling the truth – he was not Mr. Castleberry.’ No one believed him — not even his various public defenders — until a hospital psychiatrist finally listened.”
    • Dance Till We Die (Ari Schulman, The New Atlantis): “Covid security theater is when we claim our actions are aimed at fighting Covid, but actually part of our motivation is just to give the impression that we’re fighting Covid. Genuinely fighting Covid may or may not be one of our goals too, but what makes theater theater is that performance is one of our goals.”
      • Provides an interesting defense of wise security theater while also absolutely slamming what we got in its place.
    • Adumbrations Of Aducanumab (Scott Alexander, Astral Codex Ten): “I worry that people are going to come away from this with some conclusion like ‘wow, the FDA seemed really unprepared to handle COVID.’ No. It’s not that specific. Every single thing the FDA does is like this. Every single hour of every single day the FDA does things exactly this stupid and destructive, and the only reason you never hear about the others is because they’re about some disease with a name like Schmoe’s Syndrome and a few hundred cases nationwide instead of something big and media-worthy like coronavirus. I am a doctor and sometimes I have to deal with the Schmoe’s Syndromes of the world and every f@$king time there is some story about the FDA doing something exactly this awful and counterproductive.”
    • We Walk Among You (Freddie deBoer, Substack): “I do not want my mental illness to be accepted by strangers. I hate it and I hate myself for having it. Mental illness is not an expression of the beauty of every individual who has it but the most ugly element of their most ugly selves.… The worst part of this caricature of kindness towards the mentally ill may seem contradictory: it extinguishes the capacity for mercy. For only the guilty can be shown mercy; that is the most essential quality of mercy, its only meaning. And I am guilty. Many of us who suffer from mental illness are. Perhaps someday our culture will mature enough to understand that what we need is not to be absolved, nor to be exonerated, nor to be excused, but to be forgiven.”
  5. Anatomy of a Bad Idea: Affirmative Consent (Freddie deBoer, Substack): “So you get this huge policy change at hundreds of universities that does effectively nothing to stop sexual assault, infringes on the rights of the accused, and functions as a make-work program for overpaid ‘consultants’ and liberal writers, all while most people quietly recognize that nobody follows it, and support for that empty policy is enforced with missionary zeal not by true believers but almost entirely by people who are too scared to ask whether any of it makes any sense.”
    • My hot take? “No means no” and “yes means yes” are both pale imitations of “I do means I do” — and until we move back from consent to covenant we’re going to have lots of needless suffering.
  6. On Hungary
    1. Hungary is No Model for the American Right (David French, The Dispatch): “If you’ve been a conservative for any length of time, you’ve likely had what I like to call the ‘Sweden conversation,’ or perhaps the ‘Denmark debate.’ A socialist-leaning progressive friend will wax eloquent about the Scandinavian countries that combine high standards of living with generous welfare states and ask, ‘Why not here?’ .… Well, Hungary is the new right’s Denmark. Except that Hungary is a much worse place to live than Denmark.”
    2. “My favorite things Hungary” — my revisionist take (Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution): “Way back in 2011, when I was visiting Hungary, I did a post in typical MR style: My Favorite Things Hungary. I had no particular political point in mind, and indeed the current disputes over Hungary did not quite exist back then. Nonetheless, if you survey the list, just about every one of my favorites listed ended up leaving Hungary. The one exception, as far as I can tell, is film director Béla Tarr, but he is a critic of both nationalism and Orban. All the rest left Hungary.”
    3. Unpatriotic ConservativesTM 2021 (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “I can’t think of anything in recent memory that has been more revealing of where we Americans actually stand politically than Tucker Carlson’s visit to Hungary. As I wrote in The Spectator a couple of days ago, Hungary is a country with lots of troubles, including corruption. I won’t go once again into listing all the reasons why it’s important for Western right-of-center people to come here and learn from the Hungarians — I’ve been blogging about that all summer; I invite you to go through the archives here — so I’m going to try to boil it down.”
      • Dreher has a very different perspective than most American commentators, and I include him because his argument is interesting. I truly know almost nothing about Orban or Hungarian politics — but I am intrigued by how divisive Orban is in America.

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 20 Arguments For God’s Existence (Peter Kreeft, personal website): “You may be blessed with a vivid sense of God’s presence; and that is something for which to be profoundly grateful. But that does not mean you have no obligation to ponder these arguments. For many have not been blessed in that way. And the proofs are designed for them—or some of them at least—to give a kind of help they really need. You may even be asked to provide help.” I was reminded of this by a conversation with an alumnus. The author is a philosophy professor at Boston College. (first shared in volume 116)

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.

Disclaimer

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.