Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 53

On Fridays I share articles/resources about broad cultural, societal and theological issues, with a preference for content from academics and influential voices. Be sure to see the explanation and disclaimers at the bottom.

  1. Why I Believe Again (A.N. Wilson, The New Statesman): this piece is about seven years old, but I don’t remember seeing it before. “one thing that finally put the tin hat on any aspirations to be an unbeliever was writing a book about the Wagner family and Nazi Germany, and realising how utterly incoherent were Hitler’s neo‐Darwinian ravings, and how potent was the opposition, much of it from Christians; paid for, not with clear intellectual victory, but in blood.”
  2. The Evangelical Roots of American Economics (Bradley Bateman, The Atlantic): “One unlikely example of the Protestant influence on American culture is the formation of economics as an academic discipline in the United States.” Fascinating and highly recommended.
  3. Evangelicals like me can’t vote for Trump — or Clinton. Here’s what we can do instead. (Alan Noble, Vox): This is a long and thoughtful piece. “unless a third‐party candidate with broad appeal emerges, evangelical Christians would be better served by abstaining from [the presidential] vote and shifting their energy toward electing people to Congress and local and state governments who have the opportunity to restrain whichever candidate is elected as needed.“  
  4. Here Is The Powerful Letter The Stanford Victim Read Aloud To Her Attacker (Katie J.M. Baker, Buzzfeed): many of you have seen this. If not, it’s worth reading. Powerful and insightful.
    • In relation to this case, an anonymous alumna contacted me recently to say: “I’m frustrated [that people] are not making an effort or recognizing the role that alcohol and the culture surrounding the whole situation had. What they’re calling for is greater punishment on college kids who commit sexual assault but I think that kinda misses a huge point. They refuse to recognize the sin in being ok with college drinking and the whole frat party thing.” I replied with a suggestion that she read something I shared way back in issue 25 titled Alcohol, Blackouts, and Campus Sexual Assault, which I still believe is the most thoughtful secular analysis I’ve read of the issue.
    • Many people feel that to criticize the party scene is to exculpate rapists. That seems odd to me, because we recognize that when someone drives drunk they accept moral responsibility for any accidents they cause. Their inebriation is not a defense — it is an admission of culpability. And we also recognize the principle does not flow in both directions — if you stab me while I am drunk, the fact that I am drunk does not provide you with any excuse. The same principle holds here: Brock Turner’s drunkenness is no defense and the victim’s drunkenness is no justification. Furthermore, our convictions about drunk driving hint at a broader principle: drunkenness is a sin because over time it predictably leads to deplorable outcomes. This means that Brock Turner is to blame — and so are the parts of campus culture which encourage drunkenness. The party scene is no excuse for Brock’s wickedness, but that does not make the party scene a virtuous one. 
    • In fact, the party scene on our campus abounds with sin even when it fails to make national news. The worst sin that night (that we know of) was the sexual assault committed by Brock Turner. But it was far from the only sin. There were numerous consensual nonmarital sexual encounters that night — each of them also sinful (although less so). There were many people drunk that night — they too sinned, every one of them. There was arrogant posturing, envy, lust, anger, lying, betrayal, gossip, slander and a whole host of sins exacerbated by alcohol and the social scenario. Our alumna’s instincts are correct — the system itself makes sin likely and it should not be embraced by Christians.
    • In case you stumbled over the “worst sin/less sinful” judgments I made, you should read All Sins Are Not Equal (J.I. Packer, Christianity Today).
    • Thank you for your patience. I rarely add lengthy editorial comments, but my words ran away with me today.
  5. My Life as a ‘Sex Object’ (Jessica Valenti, The Guardian): this is powerful, slightly vulgar piece. I am always intrigued by authors who embrace the sexual revolution and are dismayed by some of its manifestations.
  6. Amusing:

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).

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 you have a non‐Stanford friend who might be interested in these emails, they can sign up at http://glenandpaula.com/wordpress/subscribe, and if you want to view the archives they are at http://glenandpaula.com/wordpress/category/links.

[minor edit for clarity shortly after posting]

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 32

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.

To that end, on Fridays I’ve been sharing articles/resources I have found helpful recently in thinking about broader cultural, societal and theological issues (be sure to see the disclaimer at the bottom). May these give you greater insight, so that you may continue the tradition of Issachar. Past emails are archived at http://glenandpaula.com/wordpress/category/links

Without further ado, I give you the interesting things:

  1. This Is What Makes Republicans and Democrats So Different (Vox, Ezra Klein): I was skeptical of this piece, but it’s insightful.
  2. Recognition: How A Travesty Led to Criminal‐Justice Innovation In Texas  (New Yorker, Paul Kix): this is a powerful article with a heartbreaking story at its center.
  3. North Korea Gets Competition: The Top 50 Countries Where It’s Now Hardest To Be A Christian (Christianity Today, Sarah Zylstra). Sobering and sadly unsurprising. “2014 was the world’s worst year for the persecution of Christians in the modern era. Until 2015 surpassed it.”
  4. College Party Culture and Sexual Assault (NBER, Lindo, Siminksi, Swensen): “We find significant and robust evidence that football game days increase reports of rape victimization among 17–24 year old women by 28 percent. Home games increase reports by 41 percent on the day of the game and away games increase reports by 15 percent.” They propose parties associated with the game as a causal mechanism.
  5. Inside Graduate Admissions (Inside Higher Ed, Scott Jaschick): if you plan to apply to grad school, read this. There is one revealing anecdote about how an admissions committee treated an application from a Christian college student. My takeaway: the professors tried to be fair but found it hard to do, and their stated concerns were mostly about the quality of the institution rather than the faith of the applicant. Troubling nonetheless.
  6. Shorter Pieces:

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.

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.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 18

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.

To that end, on Fridays I’ve been sharing articles/resources I have found helpful recently in thinking about broader cultural and societal issues (be sure to see the disclaimer at the bottom). May these give you greater insight, so that you may continue the tradition of Issachar. Past emails are archived at http://glenandpaula.com/wordpress/category/links

Without further ado, I give you the interesting things:

  1. Downwardly Mobile For Jesus (Lawrence Lanahan, Al Jazeera): this is a really well‐written and engaging story that weaves together faith, race, poverty and justice.
  2. If you are in the social sciences, read this journal article from Behavioral and Brain Sciences: Political Diversity Will Improve Social Psychological Science (summary by one of the authors here). There is an article with related insights at The American Sociologist: How Ideology Has Hindered Sociological Insight. There are many implied religious issues at play besides the political ones which are the focus of these two pieces.
  3. Sad truths: The Decline and Fall Of American Political Debate (John Davidson, The Federalist). Davidson says “our fragmentation and insularity has reached a dangerous tipping point: we no longer agree on what’s real.” Read especially the section labeled “Take Two Recent Examples.”
  4. A surprisingly fascinating article: More Titillated Than Thou: How the Amish Conquered the Evangelical Romance Market (Ann Newumann, The Baffler). Really.
  5. An unexpected perspective: Why The Best Thing This Generation Can Do Is Put Down The Drink (Alexia LaFeta, Elite Daily): the comments section, unsurprisingly, is filled with vitriolic objections. Some of the language in the article, incidentally, is less than refined and genteel.
  6. This is Timi’s mom: Funke Opeke: Nigeria’s Cyber Revolutionary (Femke van Zeijl, Al Jazeera). I hope her name is pronounced the way I am pronouncing it in my head, because that would be awesome. Also, Timi’s mom is a boss.

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.