Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 426

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 426, and I am absurdly pleased that 4+2=6. In some regards I am very easy to amuse.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Keeping the Faith at Stanford (Isabella Griepp, The Stanford Review): “Staying true to your faith is a serious undertaking at a place like Stanford, but it can also be the most rewarding part of your time on campus. It is vital that you use your first quarter in college to get plugged into Christian community.”
    • The author is in Chi Alpha.
  2. How Rich Donors and Loose Rules Are Transforming College Sports (David A. Fahrenthold and Billy Witz, New York Times): “One player at Michigan State University now makes $750,000 a year, according to the group that pays him. At Ohio State University, some players not only get a paycheck — they get a free car lease to boot, courtesy of a donor collective.… The New York Times identified more than 120 collectives, including at least one for every school in each of the five major college football conferences. The average starter at a big-time football program now takes in about $103,000 a year, according to Opendorse, a company that processes payments to the players for the collectives.”
  3. 15 Reasons Why Mass Media Employees Act Like Propagandists (Caitlin Johnston, personal blog): “Just because a lot of the mass media’s propagandistic behavior can be explained without secret conspiracies doesn’t mean secret conspiracies aren’t happening. In 1977 Carl Bernstein published an article titled ‘The CIA and the Media’ reporting that the CIA had covertly infiltrated America’s most influential news outlets and had over 400 reporters who it considered assets in a program known as Operation Mockingbird. We are told that this sort of covert infiltration doesn’t happen anymore today, but that’s absurd.”
    • Recommended by an alumnus in response my commentary last week on how to think about journalism. Most of the 15 reasons seem to revolve around this insight: journalists respond to incentives and the system provides rewards that benefit them but not their readers/viewers. We should remain mindful of this.
  4. Two articles about manhood:
    • Understanding the Young Male Syndrome (Rob K Henderson, Substack): “In his cross-cultural research, the psychologist Martin J. Seager has found 3 consistent requirements to achieve the status of manhood in various societies around the world. First, the individual must be a fighter and a winner. Second, he must be a provider and protector. And third, he must maintain mastery and control of himself at all times. Across cultures, there seems to be an implicit understanding of what being a man is… Indeed, masculinity is widely considered to be an artificially induced status, achievable only through testing and careful instruction. Real men do not simply emerge like butterflies from their boyish cocoons. Rather, they must be carefully shaped, nurtured, counseled, and prodded into manhood.”
      • This is long and worth reading for anyone who has an interest in gender dynamics.
    • News Men Can Use (Aaron Renn, Substack): “I also do these practical posts because it’s important for those of us Christian lay people who have skills and knowledge to step up and share them. The truth is, pastors aren’t life coaches and often don’t know what they are talking about in areas outside of their core competency in preaching the Bible and theology. So it’s unfair and even dangerous to rely on them to be general purpose guides to life. That means lay people have to be willing to step up in the areas where they have real insight and experience.”
      • I cannot endorse the point Renn makes in this excerpt strongly enough. There’s a lot pastors don’t know. I get nervous when I hear a minister opining publicly on a topic I know the Bible says very little about.
      • When you look for pastors, look for those with enough humility to know that they are not an expert in things like business, law, politics, leadership, international relations, consulting, biology, astrophysics, investment banking, immigration policy, etc. There may be specific statements in some of those fields that pastors can make with God’s authority, but they are surely limited.
      • You want a pastor who speaks confidently where the Bible speaks clearly and speaks cautiously where the Bible is silent. But as a Christian layperson, you should feel empowered to speak confidently when you have relevant knowledge in your field of expertise.
  5. Two Christians — one on the left and one on the right.
    • On the left: Shawn Fain’s Old-Time Religion (Elizabeth Bruenig, The Atlantic): “ ‘One of the first things I do every day when I get up is I crack open my devotional for a daily reading, and I pray. Earlier this week, I was struck by the daily reading, which seemed to speak directly to the moment we find ourselves in,’ Fain explained in his speech. The commentary Fain read observed that great acts of faith are rarely born of careful calculation, and most often include an element of fear. ‘When I made the decision to run for president of our union, it was a test of my faith, because I sure as hell had doubts,’ Fain said. ‘So I told myself: Either you believe it’s possible to stand up and make a difference, or you don’t. And if you don’t believe, then shut up and stay on the sideline.’ ”
    • On the right: Evangelical Mike Johnson ‘Raised Up’ as House Speaker (Jack Jenkins, a Religion News Service wire story reprinted in Christianity Today): “Johnson has been tied to multiple Baptist churches over the years and currently attends Cypress Baptist Church in Benton, Louisiana, according to the Louisiana Baptist Message. He is also a former lawyer and communications staffer with the Alliance Defense Fund, which later became known as Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian legal firm.”
  6. What “Latino” Misses (Luis Parrales, Persuasion): “Latinos are proud of their ancestry, especially when it’s related to national origin. But most don’t accept the significance or the weight of ethnoracial identity that our discourse projects onto them. It’s an attitude that’s not exactly color-blind or post-racial; it simply recognizes how race, ethnicity, national origin (or whatever label we use to categorize people) often blend together.”
  7. More commentary on the Israel/Gaza war:
    • I Don’t See a Better Way Out (Ned Lazarus, The Atlantic): “I have dedicated much of my professional life to seeking peaceful change in this conflict, trying to listen to and understand Israelis and Palestinians and find ways to work toward peace or justice or coexistence or mutual understanding or anything better than what there is now.… I see no way out of the nightmare so long as Hamas continues to rule the Gaza Strip, and no viable way to remove it from power without an Israeli ground offensive.”
      • The author is a professor of international affairs at George Washington University.
    • The Problem of West Bank Settlements (Tomas Pueyo, Substack): “You can’t understand the Palestinian perspective without understanding the issue of settlements in the West Bank. It’s their biggest source of irritation, it makes many Palestinians’ lives insufferable, and it’s probably Israel’s most contentious policy. So let’s understand why Israel is there in the first place, why it’s building settlements there, and what will happen to them.”
      • Looking over his Substack, the author has written several articles about Israel and Palestine lately and they seem to be well-researched and are also trying to present the strongest, fairest arguments from both sides. Recommended.
    • Debunking Myths About Israel & Palestine (Gurwinder, Substack): “Israel must curb its fanatical elements — its bombs are hitting too many civilians, its settlement-building is out of control, its Supreme Court is under attack by its own government, and its ultra-orthodox citizens are rapidly outbreeding its secular ones. But Israel’s excesses are Hamas’s norms. Further, it’s the only liberal democracy in a sea of autocracies, and unlike all of them it’s willing to openly criticize itself and set high humanitarian standards even if it can’t always meet them.”
    • Holocaust Memorial Day (Antonin Scalia, C‑SPAN): eleven minutes of now-deceased Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia speaking about the Holocaust and the highly-educated and refined society that produced it.
    • For Israel, There Are No Good Options Now (Andrew Sullivan, Substack): “I wish I had some sane idea of what happens now. We can only grieve for all those innocents trapped in this hell. All I can say is that if Israel continues to wage war in Gaza with this level of civilian casualties, and continues to expand its footprint on the West Bank this aggressively at the same time, and responds to Western requests to take a pause and think things through with anger and defiance, it will be hard to sustain Western support indefinitely.”
    • A War Against the Jews (Michael Oren, Substack): “…dead Jews buy us only so much sympathy. In fact, there is probably a formula. Six million dead in the Holocaust procured us roughly 25 years of grace before the Europeans refused to refuel the U.S. planes bringing lifesaving munitions to Israel during the Yom Kippur War in 1973. Fourteen hundred butchered Jews bought us a little less than two weeks’ worth of positive coverage.”
      • The author is a former Israeli politician and served as Israel’s ambassador to the US.

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

  • Wrong Psalm (Tim Hawkins, YouTube): four amusing minutes
  • AI Humor (SMBC): the mouseover text on this one is actually wise
  • Self-Esteem (SMBC)
  • The Florida Man Games: including such gems as “EVADING ARREST OBSTACLE COURSE: Jump over fences, through back yards, and away from actual police officers to earn your freedom!” and “A CATALYTIC CONVERTER, 2 BIKES, AND A HANDFUL OF COPPER PIPES: RACE AGAINST TIME: Compete head to head in a race that lets you live a day in the life of a Florida man headline” 
  • A store let customers steal shoes — if they could outrun a pro sprinter (Kyle Melnick, Washington Post): “Some customers thoughtthe managers were joking, but they still took the chance. Most did not recognize Zeze — who has run the 100-meter dash in 9.99 seconds and the 200-meter dash in 19.97 seconds — or know he was a professional sprinter. Zeze wore a black polo and a band on his left arm that said ‘SECURITY.’ Zeze easily caught the first runner, who grabbed a pair ofblack shoes around 11:30 a.m. and ran away on a busy sidewalk. Zeze said he sprinted at about 35 percent of his maximum speed to catch most customers.”

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 425

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 425, the sum of 3 consecutive primes. 425 = 137 + 139 + 149

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. I’m going to start today’s roundup off with an explanation of why this email is the way it is. First read this brief article by Nate Silver: It’s easy to screw up on breaking news. But you have to admit when you do. (Nate Silver, Substack): “This morning, Gallup published its annual poll on trust in the media. Overall, only 32 percent of Americans say they trust the mass media ‘a great deal’ or ‘a fair amount’ to ‘report the news fully, accurately and fairly’ — tied with 2016 for a record low. ”
    • Silver’s article made me reflect on how I think about modern journalism and then made me want to explain it. First, I do believe journalists try to get things right. Places like the NYT and the Washington Post rarely publish false information and generally correct falsehoods when they become aware of them. The more specific a claim is the more likely it is to be true.
    • Journalists do, however, frequently fail to report true information they are not interested in or excited about. This is rarely a conscious choice — it’s just a byproduct of the way they think about reality. This comes up especially on so-called “culture war” issues. Many top-notch reporters are simultaneously unaware of and strangely incurious about many of the facts and stories around transgenderism, marriage, religious liberty, and so on.
    • In fact, newsrooms are so ideologically monocultural that there are often massive holes in what is reported. Not only are reporters blind to inconvenient facts, they are often blind to entire stories and trends. An excellent historical example of this is whenever the 60s and 70s are remembered. America legit experienced a Great Awakening (the Jesus People movement) that happened in parallel with the Sexual Revolution. We only ever talk about the second not because reporters/commentators are suppressing knowledge of the Jesus People but because they genuinely are not even aware that they existed or that what happened then is still shaping our culture today.
    • And so when I want a fact, I turn to someplace like the NYT, WaPo, WSJ, Reuters or to a credible expert who writes directly to the public (Ryan Burge is a good example of this). But when I want an analysis, I look for credible, sane voices both within and without the confines of the media establishment. I frequently look to places like Substack or niche websites like Mere Orthodoxy or to mainstream media commentators like Ross Douthat or David French or Megan McArdle who have a track record of synthesizing information accurately and forming opinions wisely.
    • And when I’m reading something, I often ask, “Does this perspective seem plausible in light of my experience?” Especially when it is a claim about evangelicalism or charismatic/Pentecostal Christianity — I likely know more about that world than 98% of the staff of the New York Times (and after reading some articles I think I know more about it than all their staff put together). Sometimes they take an oddball church or religious leader and put their story forward as representative when it is not at all.
    • Anyway, there is probably a lot more to say about modern media, but what I just said is pretty much why this weekly update features the mix of content that it does: mainstream media sources for facts and a diverse array of experts for analysis, all filtered through evangelical sensibilities.
    • A related thought on news consumption: periodicity (Alan Jacobs, personal blog): “The more unstable a situation is, the more rapidly it changes, the less valuable minute-by-minute reporting is. I don’t know what happened to the hospital in Gaza, but if I wait until the next issue of the Economist shows up I will be better informed about it than people who have been rage-refreshing their browser windows for the past several days, and I will have suffered considerably less emotional stress.… If you’re reading the news several times a day, you’re not being informed, you’re being stimulated.”
  2. Moving on, here are some articles that give context for the Israel war on Hamas:
    • Palestinian right of return matters (Matt Yglesias, Substack): “Because it seems to me that whatever you personally think about [the Palestinian right of return], it is absolutely central to how the Arab world and diaspora Jews and secular Israelis all view the conflict. Which in turn means that it’s central to the collapse of the Two-State Solution as a political construct and to the collapse of the peace camp in Israeli politics that might have been inclined make a deal that was favorable to Palestinian interests. There is, in fact, a whole school of thought associated with Bill Clinton and American negotiator Dennis Ross that holds the right of return almost single-handedly responsible for scuttling the Camp David talks and preventing the emergence of an independent Palestine. Of course, many other well-informed people deny that’s the case or believe it’s an oversimplification. But even if you think it is factually incorrect to say the resolution of this conflict hinges on the right of return, its centrality to so many of the narratives around this issue makes it an important concept to understand.”
    • The Forgotten History of the Term “Palestine” (Douglas J. Feith, Mosaic): “The term ‘Palestine’ was used for millennia without a precise geographic definition. That’s not uncommon—think of ‘Transcaucasus’ or ‘Midwest.’ No precise definition existed for Palestine because none was required. Since the Roman era, the name lacked political significance. No nation ever had that name.”
      • This is from back in 2021. Super interesting stuff.
    • Hamas does not yet understand the depth of Israeli resolve (Haviv Rettig Gur, Times of Israel): “That enemy is not the Palestinian people, of course, even though support for terror attacks is widespread among Palestinians. The enemy is not exactly Hamas either, though Hamas is part of it. The enemy is the Palestinian theory of Israelis that makes the violence seen on October 7 seem to many of them a rational step on the road to liberation rather than, as Israelis judge it, yet another in a long string of self-inflicted disasters for the Palestinian cause.… A tragedy is about to unfold in Gaza made worse by the long learning curve it will take for Hamas to grasp the depth of Israeli resolve. It has robbed Israel of any other interest but its destruction. In the Israeli mind, any brutality Hamas can commit it will commit. And so it cannot be allowed to ever commit any act ever again.”
  3. Some Christian perspectives
    • Antisemitic Violence and Its Shameful Defense (Mike Cosper, Christianity Today): “To be horrified by the slaughter of Israeli innocents doesn’t require denying the suffering of the Palestinian people. And caring for Palestinian innocents doesn’t require being cold or numb to the horrors of antisemitism and Hamas. We can condemn Hamas while demanding accountability from Israeli leaders who have fomented violence, elevated right-wing extremists, and excused violations of international law. Indeed, Christians should be marked by our willingness to oppose all injustice and to care for Israeli and Palestinian victims alike. And while that includes understanding that Palestinians have suffered great injustices from the government of Israel—as well as neighboring states of Egypt, Jordan, Iran, Lebanon, Syria, and Saudi Arabia, as well as Hamas and the Palestinian Authority itself—it must also include active rejection of antisemitism.”
    • Wither the Poisonous Plant of Hamas (Tamir Khouri, Christianity Today): “In this environment of hatred, racism, and violence, Hamas has exploited young people with false promises. With no horizon of hope, Hamas’s adherents in Palestine sank into darkness and helped Hamas victimize Israelis too. But it does not have to be this way. As Christians, we believe in the power of redemption. With real hope for the future of this land, these hateful movements will wither. For a lasting peace, we must respect the image of God in Israelis and Palestinians alike. Is it too much to ask that we don’t see this as a zero-sum game? Shouldn’t both Israelis and Palestinians live in the dignity God intended for us?”
      • The pseudonymous author is a Palestinian Christian who is an Israeli citizen.
  4. Some articles about modern academia:
    • Why Big Money Can’t Easily Change Campus Politics (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “…donors should find ways to give money to the actual students — through the Hillel or other Jewish or Israeli student groups if you’re especially concerned with the Jewish place on campus, but more generally through political or religious groups that promise to work against the school’s dominant assumptions, or through student associations that seem to foster free debate, or through campus-adjacent institutions that serve students but are independent of the schools. But not with the goal of using such student groups as a means of conflict with the administration or the faculty. Rather, with the goal that such groups can become microcosms of the university you loved once and fear no longer exists, cells in a body yet to be restored, whose health and flourishing within the large world of Penn or Harvard or wherever is an end unto itself.”
      • Ross Douthat speaks nothing but truth throughout this essay. If you know any gazillionaires who want to influence the trajectories of elite universities have them read this essay and then tell them about Chi Alpha. Mention we’d like a building near campus.
    • The War Comes to Stanford (Pamela Paul, New York Times): “Alma Andino, a Jewish senior at Stanford University, spent the day of Hamas’s attacks against Israel crying and distraught. Like many Jews around the country, much of the weekend passed on the phone with family members, fearing for the safety of friends and extended family in Israel. Andino’s fellow students in Columbae, the social justice and antiwar residential house where she is a residential assistant, held her through her panic attacks. ‘I felt so powerless,’ she recalled when we spoke this week. On Monday, a friend asked if she’d seen the banner some of her housemates were preparing to hang on the front of Columbae, the house she considered to be her community and her home. The sheet bore the slogan ‘Zionism is genocide’ in red letters, styled to look as if they were dripping with blood.… For Alma Andino, events on campus have already reached a breaking point. After begging her housemates not to hang the banner, she said the group debated for hours, with the implication they would desist only if a suitable justification for Israel’s existence could be given. They told her they felt that as student activists, they needed to display a message that would put them on the right side of history. We should be advocating for marginalized communities, they said. ‘Except for Jews?’ Alma replied. The group scoffed.”
    • What Conservatives Misunderstand About Radicalism at Universities (Tyler Austin Harper, The Atlantic): “The tension bursting into view right now—between a majority of scholars, for whom ‘decolonization’ means putting fewer white Europeans on their syllabi, and a small minority who believe it entails anything-goes violent revolution—is the unwelcome and unsurprising result of universities wanting to cosplay rebellion while still churning out Wall Street–executive alumni who will one day pad endowments that are larger than Israel’s annual defense budget.”
      • The title makes this sound more partisan than it is. 100% worth a read and ponder.
    • Students for Pogroms in Israel (Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic): “Looking back on the Manson killings, Joan Didion wrote, ‘Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969, ended at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive traveled like brushfire through the community, and in a sense this is true. The tension broke that day. The paranoia was fulfilled.’ A few people I know believe last Saturday’s attack on Israel and the responses from leftist student groups mark the end of the ‘Great Awokening.’ Although it is too early to evaluate the accuracy of that hypothesis, campus politics have certainly transformed in recent days. Now we are left wondering whether what comes next is better or worse than what preceded it.”
      • He makes specific mention of Stanford at one point, although it is hardly his focus.
    • Moral controversies and academic public health: Notes on navigating and surviving academic freedom challenges (Tyler VanderWeele, Global Epidemiology): “I think that there needs to be more open discussion in academia, and in society, about these matters. Most people, even those who are deeply concerned, seem very uneasy discussing these issues, for fear of being attacked for simply raising them. Colleagues at Harvard, ranging from an expert in child development to a clinician providing mental health care for teenage girls, have told me that they are uncomfortable sharing their concerns on these matters in many or most settings at Harvard. An evolutionary biologist at Harvard likewise recently came under attack because she explicitly stated that sex was biological and binary, even though she also noted that we can nevertheless respect a person’s gender identity. The attack was sufficiently severe, and the administration’s response sufficiently weak, that she eventually felt she had no choice but to resign. Rather than open discussion, it seems we are often now relying on anonymous articles, or brave, and subsequently vilified, authors and whistle-blowers to raise alternative viewpoints. One may strongly disagree with their positions, but it is not unreasonable to raise the questions.”
      • I removed hyperlinked footnotes from this excerpt for readability. This is worth reading as a model of maturely and wisely responding to academic intolerance. Not many scholars have comported themselves with as much class as VanderWeele when their views came under attack. Also, I learned in this article that VanderWeele is Catholic. I had assumed he was an evangelical based on something I heard elsewhere.
  5. Thinking about the moral dimensions of the war
    • The Moral Questions at the Heart of the Gaza War (David French, New York Times): “This is the problem Israeli soldiers and commanders face. They must protect their citizens from savagery. They must comply with the laws of war. And they must make a series of moral choices, under extreme duress, that can define them and their nation — all while they face a terrorist enemy that appears to possess no conscience at all.”
      • Worth reading. As I mentioned when I shared French’s previous article, he is more qualified than any other columnist I know to weigh in on this.
    • This Way for the Genocide, Ladies and Gentlemen (Chris Hedges, ScheerPost): “I spent seven years reporting on the conflict, four of them as the Middle East Bureau Chief of The New York Times. I stood over the bodies of Israeli victims of bus bombings in Jerusalem by Palestinian suicide-bombers. I saw rows of corpses, including children, in the corridors in Dar Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. I watched Israeli soldiers taunt small boys who in response threw rocks and were then callously shot in the Khan Younis refugee camp. I sheltered from bombs dropped by Israeli warplanes. I climbed over the rubble of demolished Palestinian homes and apartment blocks along the border with Egypt. I interviewed the bloodied and dazed survivors. I heard the soul crushing wails of mothers keening over the corpses of their children.… it is not Israel’s assault on Gaza I fear most. It is the complicity of an international community that licenses Israel’s genocidal slaughter and accelerates a cycle of violence it may not be able to control.”
      • Recommended by an alumnus.
  6. Smartphones Have Turbocharged the Danger of Porn (Mary Harrington, Wall Street Journal): “It should come as no surprise that the personalized, tactile, portable smartphone would be the digital portal of choice for something as intimate as porn consumption. But of the new compulsive behaviors enabled by smartphones, few have as intense and immediate a reward cycle as porn—or as many far-reaching consequences.”
  7. Is It Wrong to Cure Blindness? (Francesca Block, The Free Press): “The National Institutes of Health, the $40 billion-endowed funding arm of the Department of Health and Human Services, recently took a stand against ableism by proposing a change to its mission statement, which promises to ‘enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce illness and disability.’ An advisory committee within the NIH took issue with the phrase ‘reduce… disability,’ writing in a 66-page report published last December that it ‘could be interpreted as perpetuating ableist beliefs that disabled people are flawed and need to be ‘fixed.’ ”
    • There are legit insane perspectives being normalized in the world right now. Curing blindness is an unequivocal good.

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 The Media Gets Wrong About Israel (Mattie Friedman, The Atlantic): “…one of the most important aspects of the media-saturated conflict between Jews and Arabs is also the least covered: the press itself. The Western press has become less an observer of this conflict than an actor in it, a role with consequences for the millions of people trying to comprehend current events, including policymakers who depend on journalistic accounts to understand a region where they consistently seek, and fail, to productively intervene.” This is an old article I share periodically, I think I first shared it way back in my fifth Friday email. Helpful in parsing media coverage in the current war.

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 325

Volume 325. Since 3+2=5, I consider that auspicious.

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 325, which I think is kind of cool since 3 + 2 = 5 (I am, as they say, easily amused).

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Some faith & politics content. The last two are a bit partisan.
    • A Christian Defense of American Classical Liberalism (David French, The Dispatch): “There is no perfect form of government on this side of the new heavens and the new earth. But the alternatives to classical liberalism suffer by comparison to the imperfect system we possess. When post-liberals magnify the power of the state, they risk degrading the dignity of the individual. When they trust the wisdom of rulers, they neglect their own fallen nature. People are of incalculable worth, and we are stained with sin. Classical liberalism recognizes both realities. We disregard its protections at our profound peril.”
    • The “Chop” and Liberalism’s Crisis of Meaning (Samuel D. James, Substack): “Without a coherent moral framework, contemporary progressivism has to constantly manufacture norms and enforce them not through shared community stigmas but by authority structures. The new norms, though, are not infused with meaning. Intersectionality is Christian theology with rigor mortis: the cold, clammy remains of long dead Protestant social ethic.” That final sentence… wow.
    • The Cautionary Tale of Francis Collins (Justin Lee, First Things): “[Collins] showed that it was possible for an evangelical from a working-class background to rise to the heights of scientific and bureaucratic accomplishment. His presence in the halls of medical power was also a testament to the harmony of faith and reason. Collins has championed the compatibility of science and religion and encouraged Christians to accept theistic evolution through his bestselling 2006 book The Language of God and a spin-off organization, BioLogos. His witness is singular, and singularly powerful—if we don’t look too closely.” I have conflicted feelings about this article (I think it is unduly harsh on Dr. Collins), but it is a perspective I have encountered several times. I’m also not sure it belongs under the politics bullet point, but it’s at least adjacent.
    • Faith trumps Trump in Virginia (Tony Carnes, A Journey Through NYC Religions): “Youngkin goes to an evangelical Episcopal church Holy Trinity Church and provides a retreat center for FOCUS (Fellowship of Christians in Universities & Schools), an evangelical outreach to prep school students. In UK Youngkin served on the executive committee of Holy Trinity Brompton (the home church of the Alpha course). The GOP Lt Governor-elect Winsome Sears is an African American who headed a homeless ministry for the Salvation Army (as well as being vice president of the Board of Education for Virginia, an elected official, and a Marine). Attorney General-elect Jason Miyares is a Latino Christian, a member of Galilee Episcopal Church, an evangelical leaning Episcopal church.” Brief but super interesting.
    • Pence says James Madison and the Bible helped him certify election results against Trump’s wishes (Timothy Bella, Washington Post): “The former vice president, whose answer was met with applause from the Iowa City audience, denied that he was advised it would hurt his chances of running for president if he followed Trump’s plan. ‘Everything you’ve recited relative to me is false,’ he said to the audience member. Pence, referring to the oath he took to uphold the Constitution, also cited a Bible verse he said he leaned on: ‘Psalm 15 says he who keeps his oath even when it hurts.’ ”
  2. Pandemic restrictions were a blow to religious liberty (Christos Makridis, NY Post): “Of all the unequal impacts of the pandemic, the costs of state and local restrictions that fell squarely on religious households seem underappreciated. Although everyone felt the effects of national and state quarantines, and Americans struggled with mental health more broadly, my paper shows that religious adherents, especially Catholics or other Christians, experienced unique harm. Even more troubling is that the costs of shutdowns for places of worship were not limited to the congregants. Evidence from a Baylor University study led up by Byron Johnson shows that faith-based organizations shoulder the bulk of the homelessness burden in cities, caring for the least fortunate. In this sense, cutting off in-person worship simultaneously cuts off one of the primary ways that houses of worship serve their broader communities.”
  3. Billionaire Seeks to Build Largely Windowless Dorm In ‘Social and Psychological Experiment’ (Aaron Gordon, Vice): “According to the Independent, 94 percent of dorm rooms in Munger Hall [at UCSB] will be tiny, windowless pods that open onto a central common area. And it will stuff so many students [4,500] into such a small space that Dennis McFadden, the architect who resigned from the university’s review committee, said in his resignation letter it ‘would qualify as the eighth densest neighborhood on the planet, falling just short of Dhaka, Bangladesh.’ McFadden said the university had provided no justification for ignoring established research that natural light and views of the outdoors are vital to healthy living, except to say they were bound to Munger’s vision.” Recommended by a student.
    1. Munger rebuts: Munger on controversial UCSB dorm: Fake windows are better than real windows (CNN). He is totally and awesomely intransigent.
  4. What Happened to Matt Taibbi? (Ross Barkan, New York Magazine): “ ‘One of the moments that solidified in my mind the difficult path I’d have going forward in mainstream media, and that pushed me toward the decision to do Substack full-time, came when I did a campaign piece on Biden for Rolling Stone,’ Taibbi said. ‘I was noticing what everyone else saw, that the man was having trouble remembering things, among other issues. I called back some of the medical sources who were glad to violate the ‘Goldwater rule’ against diagnosing people from afar to talk to me about Trump being crazy, just to ask for their assessment of Biden. None responded, and one literally hung up on me. Even off the record they wouldn’t talk about it. It hit me in that moment that Trump had so fundamentally changed the business that even sources were behaving differently, and I’d have to adapt one way or the other.’ ”
  5. Katharine Birbalsingh is right: children do have original sin (Theo Hobson, The Spectator): “When my son was about six he heard something at school about slavery but was not quite clear what it was all about. So I spelled it out. I told him that a slave was someone that someone else owned and ordered around and probably mistreated. I waited for the proper response of moral horror to show on his innocent features. Instead he said, ‘Cool, I want one!’” What a phenomenal opening anecdote.
  6. Liberals Read, Conservatives Watch TV (Richard Hanania, Substack): “Conservative media perfecting the ‘infotainment’ genre of news commentary brought people into politics that a generation earlier would’ve paid more attention to professional wrestling or monster truck rallies instead. Liberalism has captured a combination of an overeducated class with more desire for status than intellectual curiosity along with mentally ill individuals who in the 1990s might have joined some apolitical subculture instead of becoming passionate about race and gender issues.” Very long and insightful article (9,000ish words)
  7. Survey: One-third of Jewish college students have experienced antisemitism (Yonat Shimron, Religion News): “…the most common form of antisemitism was offensive comments online. Only 1% of students were victims of antisemitic violence, and only 1% were threatened with violence. In all, the survey found 43% of Jewish college students had experienced and/or witnessed antisemitic activity in the past year. Among those who witnessed it, the most common experience was seeing swastikas around campus or vandalism to Jewish fraternities, sororities and cultural buildings.”

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 the State Serves Both Salvation and Religious Freedom (Jonathan Leeman, 9 Marks): “Two basic kinds of governments, then, show up in the Bible: those that shelter God’s people, and those that destroy them. Abimelech sheltered; Pharoah destroyed. The Assyrians destroyed; the Babylonians and Persians, ultimately, sheltered. Pilate destroyed; Festus sheltered. And depending on how you read Revelation, the history of government will culminate in a beastly slaughter of saintly blood. Romans 13 calls governments servants; Psalm 2 calls them imposters. Most governments contain both. But some are better than others.” First shared in volume 165.

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 304

fascinating links — enjoy

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 304th installment, an interesting number because it is the sum of consecutive primes. 304 = 41 + 43 + 47 + 53 + 59 + 61

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Sinning in the Rain: Weather Shocks, Church Attendance and Crime (Jonathan Moreno-Medina, The Review of Economics and Statistics): “Based on a panel between 1980 and 2016, I find that one more Sunday with precipitation at the time of church increases yearly drug-related, alcohol-related and white-collar crimes.” Fascinating. The author is a Ph.D. candidate in econ at Duke.
  2. America Loses Religion, Somewhat (Lyman Stone, National Review): “Americans today are more likely to be part of a religious community than they were in 1800; the change over time can be characterized neither by a gradual decline from a religiously pristine past nor by the onward march of rational thinking.”
  3. Some thoughts on race in America:
    • When Our Forefathers Fail (David French, The Dispatch): “Humanity has not transformed its fundamental nature in the last 100 years. A nation full of people no better than us can do great good. A nation full of people no worse than us can commit great evil. Remembering our nation’s virtues helps give us hope. Remembering our sin gives us humility. Remembering both gives us the motivation and the inspiration necessary to repair our land.”
    • T. D. Jakes on How White Evangelicals Lost Their Way (Emma Green, The Atlantic): ‘Where I’ve tried to focus is on the white pastors who spoke out and tried to say something positive that was misunderstood. And I literally got on the phone with some of them and encouraged them to keep talking. Their immediate reaction was “I got it wrong; I’m not going to broach that subject again. I’m going to stay away from it. I’m just not going to talk about it.” And if we do that, we’ll never get better. We have to keep talking.’ The title is pretty misleading — that’s definitely not the vibe you pick up from the article itself.
    • What Happens When Doctors Can’t Speak Freely? (Katie Herzog, Bari Weiss’ Substack): “‘Whole research areas are off-limits,’ he said, adding that some of what is being published in the nation’s top journals is ‘shoddy as hell.’  Here, he was referring in part to a study published last year in the Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences. The study was covered all over the news, with headlines like ‘Black Newborns More Likely to Die When Looked After by White Doctors’ (CNN), ‘The Lack of Black Doctors is Killing Black Babies’ (Fortune), and ‘Black Babies More Likely to Survive when Cared for by Black Doctors’ (The Guardian). Despite these breathless headlines, the study was so methodologically flawed that, according to several of the doctors I spoke with, it’s impossible to extrapolate any conclusions about how the race of the treating doctor impacts patient outcomes at all. And yet very few people were willing to publicly criticize it.”
    • Those Who Didn’t Make the List (Freddie deBoer, Substack): “I absolutely believe that we can theoretically build admissions systems that increase diversity and inclusion, including specifically for Black and Hispanic applicants, without perpetuating other kinds of injustice. I just have zero faith our actually-existing universities and employers will put them together. Why do good when it’s so much easier to appear to be good?”
  4. COVID perspectives:
    • Why the Lab Leak Theory Matters (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “First, to the extent that the United States is engaged in a conflict of propaganda and soft power with the regime in Beijing, there’s a pretty big difference between a world where the Chinese regime can say, We weren’t responsible for Covid but we crushed the virus and the West did not, because we’re strong and they’re decadent, and a world where this was basically their Chernobyl except their incompetence and cover-up sickened not just one of their own cities but also the entire globe.”
    • Media Groupthink and the Lab-Leak Theory (Bret Stephens, New York Times): “If the lab-leak theory is finally getting the respectful attention it always deserved, it’s mainly because Joe Biden authorized an inquiry and Anthony Fauci admitted to doubts about the natural-origin claim. In other words, the right president and the right public-health expert have blessed a certain line of inquiry. Yet the lab-leak theory, whether or not it turns out to be right, was always credible. Even if Tom Cotton believed it.”
    • The Lab-Leak Theory: Inside the Fight to Uncover COVID-19’s Origins (Katherine Eban, Vanity Fair): “A months long Vanity Fair investigation, interviews with more than 40 people, and a review of hundreds of pages of U.S. government documents, including internal memos, meeting minutes, and email correspondence, found that conflicts of interest, stemming in part from large government grants supporting controversial virology research, hampered the U.S. investigation into COVID-19’s origin at every step. In one State Department meeting, officials seeking to demand transparency from the Chinese government say they were explicitly told by colleagues not to explore the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s gain-of-function research, because it would bring unwelcome attention to U.S. government funding of it.” Long, detailed.
  5. A Dangerous State of Affairs (Kevin Williamson, National Review): “In Dallas, a recent class for those seeking a license to carry was well attended in spite of the fact that Texas is about to implement ‘constitutional carry,’ under which no license would be required to carry a firearm that the carrier is legally eligible to own. Middle-aged African Americans made up almost exactly one half of that class. Black buyers account for about one in five of the guns sold nationwide in recent years, and Hispanic buyers a similar share. And about one in five buyers last year were first-time buyers.”
  6. Woke Institutions is Just Civil Rights Law (Richard Hanania, Substack): “The US seems to elect some of the most conservative politicians in the Western world, but has perhaps the wokest institutions. Civil rights law makes all major institutions subject to the will of left-wing bureaucrats, activists, and judges at the expense of normal citizens.”
  7. I read two surprisingly complementary articles about abortion this week:
    • Abortion as an Instrument of Eugenics (Michael Stokes Paulsen, Harvard Law Review): “If the intuition of the wrongness of trait-selection abortion has moral salience — the intuition that it is simply wrong to kill a fetus for reasons of race, sex, or disability — it is because of the implicit recognition of the humanity of the fetus. If killing a fetus because she is female (or Black, or disabled) is thought horrible, it can only be because the human fetus is thought to possess moral status as human — because ‘it’ is a baby girl or a baby boy, a member of the human family.” The author is a law professor at the University of St. Thomas. The article itself is very long. Unless you are in law school, reading the introduction, section IV, and the conclusion is probably enough.
    • Dawkins is wrong – grossly wrong – about Down’s syndrome (Simon Barnes, Tortoise): “[Dawkins] is in the position of the brilliant philosopher telling us that the table at which we are sitting does not exist.”

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 Can I Learn To Receive – And Give – Criticism In Light Of The Cross? (Justin Taylor, Gospel Coalition): “A believer is one who identifies with all that God affirms and condemns in Christ’s crucifixion. In other words, in Christ’s cross I agree with God’s judgment of me; and in Christ’s cross I agree with God’s justification of me. Both have a radical impact on how we take and give criticism.” This is based on a longer article (4 page PDF). (first shared in volume 63)

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 286

some very strong articles in this roundup

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 286th of these roundups. 286 is a tetrahedral number, which basically means you could stack 286 marbles into a three-sided pyramid (four sides if you count the base).

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. California Is Cleansing Jews From History (Emily Benedek, Tablet Magazine): “Kaplan, 53, a Bay Area mother of two grown children who describes herself as a lifelong Democrat, was further surprised to discover that a list of 154 influential people of color did not include Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis, or Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, though it included many violent revolutionaries. There was even a flattering description of Pol Pot, the communist leader of Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge, who was responsible for the murder of a quarter of the Cambodian population during the 1970s.” THIS IS WILD.
  2. The New National American Elite (Michael Lind, Tablet Magazine): “…from the American Revolution until the late 20th century, the American elite was divided among regional oligarchies. It is only in the last generation that these regional patriciates have been absorbed into a single, increasingly homogeneous national oligarchy, with the same accent, manners, values, and educational backgrounds from Boston to Austin and San Francisco to New York and Atlanta. This is a truly epochal development.” Lind is a professor at UT Austin in the school of public affairs, and I featured another article by him recently.
  3. In Which I Finally Lose My Mind (PoliMath, Substack): “After a reasonable amount of time for the vaccination to produce an immune response (aim for 2 weeks), you are not in danger and you are not a danger to others. Yes, wear a mask for social cohesion or to follow the rules or just generally to be polite. Wash your hands, use your common sense, and ignore the news written by people who seem to want this crisis to last forever. Make it a priority to get your second dose on schedule. Once you are vaccinated with the second dose, this crisis is over for you.” The author is
  4. The Religious Roots of Our Free Enterprise System (Alan Wolfe, New York Times): “What does an esoteric concept like Calvinist soteriology have to do with the rise of modern economics? Does laissez-faire have its roots in the arcane Quinquarticular Controversy? Can one find the origins of the welfare state in postmillennialist eschatology? Questions like these, according to the Harvard economist Benjamin M. Friedman, are essential to understanding his discipline today.”
  5. How Redditors Beat Hedge Funds at Their Own Game(Stop) (Eric Levitz, New York Magazine): “Another less-than-populist aspect of this drama is that the hedge fund that’s been hardest hit — Melvin Capital — did not become the favored target of WallStreetBets on account of its unique avarice or unscrupulousness, but rather, its exceptional transparency.… Thus, for Wall Street, the upshot of all this is going to be: Never let regulators or the public know what your short positions are. Which doesn’t seem like a huge win for ‘the 99 percent.’”
    • A youth pastor interviewed about the stock market on MSNBC (Twitter): I’ve mentioned before that some Christians are too tentative when speaking about the gospel in high-profile media environments. Not this guy. He just throws down some Bible. He’s the youth pastor at Beachpoint Church in Orange County.
    • The GameStop Fiasco Proves We’re in a ‘Meme Stock’ Bubble (James Surowiecki, Medium): “The point, then, is that even though GameStop’s current stock price is utterly irrational — it will never make enough money to justify a $6 billion market cap — the way Redditors and others have driven its price up has been quite smart.”
    • The GameStop Reckoning Was a Long Time Coming (Kevin Roose, New York Times): “If you can get past the all-caps lunacy and strange inside jargon, the Redditors make some good points. Big banks and hedge funds really do play by different rules than retail investors. Wall Street banks really did get bailed out after the 2008 financial crisis while Main Street homeowners suffered. M.B.A.s in fancy suits are probably no more likely to give you good investing advice than guys on YouTube with names like ‘RoaringKitty.’ ” Recommended by a student.
  6. What Thomas Jefferson Could Never Understand About Jesus (Vinson Cunningham, New Yorker): “In the years before emancipation, the best arguments against slavery were also arguments about God.… Jefferson’s Jesus is an admirable sage, fit bedtime reading for seekers of wisdom. But those who were weak, or suffering, or in urgent trouble, would have to look elsewhere.” This is quite an article. Recommended.
  7. Two Stanford-relevant articles:
    • Editor’s Note: The Twilight of Stanford (Annika Nordquist, Stanford Review): “Stanford’s reputation, which attracted me and countless others to the University, offers students a stake in the birthplace of Silicon Valley, the world’s epicenter of creativity and risk. Stanford students are less elitist than our East Coast peers, and more well-rounded: Stanford offers amenities, like Greek life and competitive athletic teams, absent in earlier iterations of the prestigious American university. The university’s unstructured curriculum expects its students to either succeed at the highest level in their own arenas, or create entirely new spheres for success. Stanford revels in nonconformity and experimentation. It was through these characteristics that Stanford gained its prestige. I do believe that this Stanford once existed. But it is close to destruction, hastened by a caste of administrators, parasites who jump from one top university to another, who care only for raising Stanford’s rankings, and lack an intimate understanding of what makes Stanford special.” Annika is a student in Chi Alpha.
    • The Education of Josh Hawley (Ruairi Arrieta-Kenna and and Emily Cadei, Politico): “Other classmates, however, say that while Hawley was ardently against abortion, his faith during college seemed less an obvious motivation for his political aspirations and more a guide for his social interactions. Friends of Hawley’s told POLITICO they didn’t ever see Hawley drink, smoke or ‘bring a girl back’ to his dorm room. By many accounts, he preferred to stay in and study on weekend nights than to go out and party.” I found this article fascinating. His evangelical ethics were so incomprehensible to some of the people quoted in this article (the bit about the dancing girl was particularly striking). Also, I wonder why it focuses on his time at Stanford and not Yale.

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 Conservatives Clash on the Goal of Government (Jonathan Leeman, Providence): “There is no neutrality. The public square is a battleground of gods. Our culture wars are wars of religion. For the time being, liberalism keeps us from picking up sixteenth‐century swords for those wars, which is no small achievement. But don’t assume it won’t control us with the subtler tools of a twenty‐first century legal totalitarianism.” Insightful reflections on how Christians should form their political positions. First shared in volume 218.

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 204

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 one is coming out extra-early today because my schedule has been and will continue to be absurdly busy for the next bit. Prayers appreciated!

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. How lawyers are distorting religious freedom (Asma Uddin, Deseret News): “Last summer, the court decided Trump v. Hawaii (the travel ban case) only three weeks after it decided Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which involved a Christian baker who refused on religious grounds to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple…. The stark contrast in the court’s approach to anti-religious hostility raised the question: Does religious freedom apply equally to Muslims and Christians? But in all the panic and punditry that ensued, Americans overlooked a critical factor: The lawyers challenging the ban left out legal arguments under the Free Exercise Clause that, if not omitted, might have changed the outcome.” This is a very good (and somewhat discouraging) op-ed.
  2. Literature as Flattery (James McElroy, American Affairs Journal): “Contemporary American literature is creatively exhausted because free indirect style places the reader above the characters…. Characters have to be blind to the obvious for the story to work. We are told this style is all about engendering empathy, but in actuality it functions by creating stunted characters. The reader is trained to look down at others, and the writer becomes obsequious to the oh-so-intelligent readers’ egos, always telling them, ‘Look how smart you are.’”
  3. The APA Meeting: A Photo-Essay (Scott Alexander, Slate Star Codex): “Were there really more than twice as many sessions on global warming as on obsessive compulsive disorder? Three times as many on immigration as on ADHD? As best I can count, yes. I don’t want to exaggerate this. There was still a lot of really meaty scientific discussion if you sought it out. But overall the balance was pretty striking…. If you want to model the APA, you could do worse than a giant firehose that takes in pharmaceutical company money at one end, and shoots lectures about social justice out the other.” This is funny, rambling, insightful commentary on the American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting.
  4. Two Stanford stories:
    • What I Learned When I Called Out an Anti-Semitic Cartoonist at Stanford Earlier This Month (Ari Hoffman, Mosaic): “Perhaps my most surprising realization was how few are those willing to speak publicly, under their own name. After my op-ed appeared, some individuals approached me to say they agreed with me but didn’t have the necessary eloquence to speak out. To them I would reply: what matters is not poetics but principles.” What I found fascinating about this article is how universal the principles he articulates are. If you are a Christian debating whether and how to speak out about an issue that grieves you, you will find helpful advice here.
    • From Midwest Drug Dealer to The Farm: Jason Spyres Shares His Inspiring Story (Yasmin Samrai, Stanford Review): “To justify his criminal behaviour, he told himself that though selling pot was illegal, it wasn’t immoral. This theory came crashing down when two gangs broke into his house, split his head open, and robbed him. When Spyres discovered that the burglars had nearly mistaken his house for his neighbor’s, he realized that selling drugs put other people’s safety in jeopardy. ‘I was shocked and sickened with myself,’ he recalled. ‘I was part of a black market and my actions had unintended consequences.’” What a wild story.
  5. The Impossible Future of Christians in the Middle East (Emma Green, The Atlantic): “The numbers in Iraq are especially stark: Before the American invasion, as many as 1.4 million Christians lived in the country. Today, fewer than 250,000 remain—an 80 percent drop in less than two decades.” Recommended by a student.
  6. Religious Men Can Be Devoted Dads, Too (W. Bradford Wilcox, Jason S. Carroll & Laurie DeRose, New York Times): “It turns out that feminism and faith both have high expectations of husbands and fathers, if for very different ideological reasons, and that both result in higher-quality marriages for women.”
    • The title is funny and was probably not chosen by the authors (that’s usually the case in newspapers). This op-ed is a summary of some findings from their larger report The Ties That Bind: Is Faith a Global Force for Good or Ill in the Family? , where they discover, among other things, that “When it comes to relationship quality in heterosexual relationships, highly religious couples enjoy higher-quality relationships and more sexual satisfaction, compared to less/mixed religious couples and secular couples. For instance, women in highly religious relationships are about 50% more likely to report that they are strongly satisfied with their sexual relationship than their secular and less religious counterparts.”
  7. Why Christianity Quit Growing in Korea (Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra, The Gospel Coalition): “By 1970, 18 percent of the population was Christian; by 2000, it was 31 percent. (Those counts include Protestants and Catholics.) By 2006, South Korea was sending out more missionaries than any other country except the much-larger United States. By 2015, Seoul was behind only Houston and Dallas in number of megachurches—and Seoul’s were much larger…. And then, things stalled. Growth slowed way down, and church attendance began to shrink.” A long and very interesting article.

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 provocative “In Defense of Flogging” (Peter Moskos, Chronicle of Higher Education) — the author is a former police officer and now a criminologist at the City University of New York. This one was first shared back before I started sending these emails in a blog post called Punishment.

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.

UPDATE: I mistakenly attributed the story about Jason Spyres to the Stanford Daily. It was actually in the Stanford Review. I’ve corrected the offending paragraph.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 201

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.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The alleged synagogue shooter was a churchgoer who articulated Christian theology, prompting tough questions for evangelical pastors (Julie Zauzmer, The Washington Post va SF Gate): “Before he allegedly walked into a synagogue in Poway, California and opened fire, John Earnest appears to have written a seven-page letter spelling out his core beliefs: That Jewish people, guilty in his view of faults ranging from killing Jesus to controlling the media, deserved to die. That his intention to kill Jews would glorify God…. Earnest, 19, was a member of an OPC congregation. His father was an elder. He attended regularly. And in the manifesto, the writer spewed not only invective against Jews and racial minorities, but also cogent Christian theology he heard in the pews.”
    • Kinism, Cultural Marxism, and the Synagogue Shooter (Joe Carter, Gospel Coalition): “Several years ago a friend of mine, a Presbyterian minister, asked me to speak to his congregation about cultural issues. During the discussion, an older couple asked me a question about separation of ethnic groups, specifically white Americans from blacks and Jews. I told them I must have misunderstood their question, because what they were talking about could be mistaken for promoting a view called kinism. The wife replied, ‘And what’s wrong with kinism?’”
    • Why white nationalism tempts white Christians (Jemar Tisby, Religion News Service): “I absolutely do not believe that pastors in the OPC or any similar denomination are regularly spewing anti-Semitism and racism from the pulpit or on any other occasion. But the rigid exclusion of discussions of racial injustice from the regular preaching and teaching in these churches means that white nationalists are seldom challenged in their beliefs.”
    • a Twitter thread in which Duke Kwon talks about this
  2. https://scite.ai/ — this is a cool concept. Enter a research paper and it will algorithmically assess whether subsequent research supports or undermines the conclusions. For example: https://scite.ai/reports/10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.1615
  3. As churches are demolished at home, Chinese Christians find religious freedom in Kenya (Jenni Marsh, CNN): “Kenya is not a place you’d expect to find an underground church. Christianity is the lifeblood of the nation’s politics and societal fabric, and is celebrated in huge, rambunctious services attended by thousands of dancing and singing worshipers. But, in the northern stretches of the sprawling, traffic-choked capital of 4 million people, an underground Chinese house church is exactly what May Li, wife of a Malaysian-Chinese pastor, helps to lead — illustrating just how far the Communist Party’s religious crackdown has traveled. Li and other Chinese Christians in this story did not want to use their real names for fear of being punished by the government when they return to China. The Chinese embassy in Nairobi has already reached out to the leaders of some Chinese Christian groups in the city and asked them to desist, says Li. Her service tries to stay below the radar.”
  4. The Belt and Road is about domestic interest groups, not development (Andrew Batson, personal blog): “The broader point here is that looking at the Belt and Road through the lens of ‘grand strategy’ or ‘geopolitics,’ as so many commentators do, or even portraying it as some kind of new philosophy of economic development, is quite misleading. All of these grand concepts are justifications invented after the fact for a pattern of actions that was already well underway before Xi Jinping made his 2013 speech about the Belt and Road. The Belt and Road is really the expansion of a specific part of China’s domestic political economy to the rest of the world.”
  5. Ro Khanna and the tensions of Silicon Valley liberalism (Ezra Klein, Vox): “Pelosi invited me to her house,” Khanna recalls. “And when I asked her not to make an endorsement, she said, ‘Absolutely not. I stand for my incumbents.’ So I get very discouraged, and Pelosi could see that. As I’m leaving the room, she said, ‘Ro, let me tell you something. If I had waited around, I’d have never been speaker of the House. Power is never given. It’s always taken.’”
  6. Is Times Columnist David Brooks a Christian or a Jew? (Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Washington Post via the Salt Lake Tribune): “In the world of national columnists, David Brooks is a star. But in the past few years, The New York Times writer and author has whipped up fascination among a certain subset of readers for a specific, gossipy reason: They wonder if the Jewish writer has become a Christian.”
    • Related: David Brooks’s Conversion Story (Benjamin Wallace-Wells, The New Yorker): “For Brooks, this carried the clarity of revelation, and soon he let it be known, among his acquaintances, that he was experiencing religious curiosity. An informal competition opened for David Brooks’s soul. He received, by his own estimation, three hundred gifts of spiritual books, ‘only one hundred of which were different copies of C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity.’ ”
  7. Terrorists in Burkina Faso Execute Six at Pentecostal Church (Kate Shellnutt, Christianity Today): “A dozen gunmen on motorcycles stormed the courtyard of the Sirgadji church after worship, fatally shooting its longtime pastor as well as five other congregants after demanding they convert to Islam, according to a statement sent to CT by the general superintendent of the Assemblies of God in Burkina Faso, Michel Ouédraogo.”

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 Sister… Show Mercy! (Dan Phillips, Team Pyro): “Sister, if there’s one thing you and I can certainly agree on, it’s this: I don’t know what it’s like to be a woman, and you don’t know what it’s like to be a man. We’re both probably wrong where we’re sure we’re right, try as we might. So let me try to dart a telegram from my camp over to the distaff side.” (first shared in volume 148)

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.