Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 386

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.

386 is interesting because it feels like it ought to have lots of divisors, but it’s just 2 · 193. Of course you can double any prime, but it still surprises me when I run across it. Primes doubled are, by definition, exactly as rare as primes.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Why I am a Christian (James Choi, Yale Faculty Website): “There are things about Christianity that are confusing or hard to accept as true. But in math, if we start with axioms that are solid, then we can prove easy theorems based on those axioms, and then use those easy theorems to prove counterintuitive, seemingly false theorems. We can believe the hard theorems because we have confidence in the axioms and the easy theorems. To me, the resurrection of Christ is the fundamental theorem of Christianity. If we can gain confidence in this, then this provides a foundation for us to have faith in the rest of the claims of Christianity.”
    • The author is a professor of finance at Yale. He’s had a version of this page on his official website ever since he was a sophomore at Harvard. He kept it up while applying to grad school and while going on the job market. Respect.
  2. Why the Media is Honest and Good (Richard Hanania, Substack): “My advice is to read the mainstream media, and trust the facts they present, while questioning the narratives. Understand where the biases are and correct for them. Read some of their critics too, but understand that those critics are almost more biased and less intelligent and honest than those that they attack. The few media critics who are better than the press are rare and deserve your support. The exception here is anything having to do with race, gender, or sexual orientation, where you should understand that establishment journalists are trying their best but can’t be trusted because they’ve lost their minds, or are scared of those that have, and you’d be better off listening to people with cancelable views.”
  3. The battle of the standards: why the US and UK can’t stop fighting the metric system (James Vincent, The Verge): “It all went back to Nimrod, he was saying. Nimrod, great-grandson of Noah and the ‘mighty hunter before the Lord,’ who had attempted to unite the world’s population by building the Tower of Babel so that humanity might climb up to Heaven itself. ‘And God intervened, stopping him from building the tower,’ said Tony. God then spread humanity across the globe, dividing us up into different nations with their own languages and traditions. As Tony understood the message of the Tower of Babel, it was that ‘People should live in distinct nations because it provides a unifying force in their lives. It gives them a sense of purpose.’”
  4. What if Diversity Trainings Are Doing More Harm Than Good? (Jesse Singal, New York Times): “Over the years, social scientists who have conducted careful reviews of the evidence base for diversity trainings have frequently come to discouraging conclusions. Though diversity trainings have been around in one form or another since at least the 1960s, few of them are ever subjected to rigorous evaluation, and those that are mostly appear to have little or no positive long-term effects… Some diversity initiatives might actually worsen the D.E.I. climates of the organizations that pay for them.”
  5. If Affirmative Action Ends, College Admissions May Be Changed Forever (Stephanie Saul, New York Times): “Colleges are planning behind the scenes for the court ruling, though they are reluctant to release plans, worried about potentially opening themselves up to legal action. ‘“‘We don’t want to get ahead of the court, and we don’t want to give the court any ideas,’”’ Dr. Pérez said.” Recommended by a student.
  6. Who is included by “inclusive” language? (Matt Yglesias, Substack): “…one thing you’d learn in a fancy American school is why you shouldn’t talk about the economic underdevelopment of Africa like this. You’d learn better etiquette. Or at least different etiquette — etiquette that will differentiate you from less sophisticated people who might run around saying offensive things about poverty in the Global South. For instance, a person without a proper education might refer to the countries in question as ‘the third world’ without having read Marc Silver’s January 2021 NPR piece about why this is offensive. But to Bright’s point, speaking differently doesn’t actually change anything.  And that, perhaps, is a big part of the appeal.”
  7. NHL player refuses to wear Pride Night jersey during warm-ups, citing religious beliefs (Jared Gans, The Hill): “I respect everybody, and I respect everybody’s choices. My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion,” he said while taking questions in the Flyers’ locker room after the team’s 5–2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks. “That’s all I’m going to say.”
    • Simple faithfulness is a beautiful thing.

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have A Biblical Critique of Secular Justice and Critical Theory (Tim Keller, Gospel In Life): “In the Bible Christians have an ancient, rich, strong, comprehensive, complex, and attractive understanding of justice. Biblical justice differs in significant ways from all the secular alternatives, without ignoring the concerns of any of them. Yet Christians know little about biblical justice, despite its prominence in the Scriptures.” The read of the week. From volume 262

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 385

On Fridays (this did go to my Substack on Friday, but my website crashed and I only just got it back up) 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 385, which is 5 x 7 x 11. That feels cool to me and I don’t know exactly why.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. How Tall Would a Stack of New Testament Manuscripts Be? (Daniel B. Wallace, personal blog): “If you could stack up all handwritten manuscripts of the New Testament—Greek, Syriac, Latin, Coptic, all languages—how tall would the stack be? I  was recently challenged on my numbers in a Facebook discussion in the group ‘New Testament Textual Criticism.’ I have said in many lectures that it would be the equivalent of c. 4 & 1/2 Empire State Buildings stacked on top of each other. How did I come up with that number?”
  2. A Poet for ‘Bruised Evangelicals’ (Kara Bettis, Christianity Today): “My publisher was very reluctant to take on my book, because ‘Nobody’s writing sonnets now, and young people won’t like that,’ ” Guite told me at a sandwich shop in Vancouver. “But actually, it turns out that’s exactly what they like, because it’s precisely not a tweet.”
  3. What’s Up with Weird Bible Sex? (Dru Johnson, Christianity Today): “Anyone who reads the Bible today may be tempted to skip over the sex. It can seem too crude, too impolite, or at least not spiritually edifying for our morning devotions. But I want to argue that we should read the Bible that we have and take it seriously. Even the R‑rated bits. When you read Genesis, pay attention to the details of the sex. They are trying to teach us about the nature of our bodies and communities before God.”
  4. How Stanford Failed the Academic Freedom Test (Jay Battacharya, Tablet Magazine): “Faculty at Stanford should rightly worry whether their professional work will lead to deplatforming, excommunication, and political targeting. In this environment, professors and students alike would be wise to look over their shoulders at all times, in the knowledge that the university no longer has your back. And members of the public should understand that many of those urging them to ‘trust the science’ on complicated matters of public concern are also those working to ensure that ‘the science’ never turns up answers that they don’t like.” Dr. Battacharya is both a believer and a professor at Stanford.
    • Kinda related: How DEI Is Supplanting Truth as the Mission of American Universities (John Sailer, The Free Press): “One medical researcher at an elite institution who requested anonymity told me that grants for medical research increasingly use veiled ideological language that focuses on issues such as health equity and racial disparities. ‘The answer is preordained: The cause of disparities is racism,’ he told me. ‘If you find some other explanation, even if it’s technically correct, that’s problematic.’  This fixation can have a stultifying effect on medical research, and eventually medical care, the researcher told me. ‘We’re abdicating our responsibility. We’re creating fake research and fake standards, aligning ideology with medicine, and undermining our basic ability to engage in meaningful sensemaking.’”
  5. Why is progress in biology so slow? (Sam Rodriques, personal blog): “The biomedical literature is vast and suffers from three problems: it does not lend itself to summarization in textbooks; it is unreliable by commission; and it is unreliable by omission. The first problem is simple: biology is too diverse. Every disease, every gene, every organism, and every cell type is its own grand challenge. The second problem is trickier — some things in the literature are simply wrong, made up by trainees or professors who were desperate to publish rather than perish. But it is the third problem that is really pernicious: many things in the literature are uninterpretable or misleading due to the omission of key details by the authors, intentional or otherwise. Authors may report a new, general strategy for targeting nanoparticles to cells expressing specific receptor proteins and show that it works for HER2 and EGFR, while declining to mention that it does not work for any one of the 20 other receptors they tried.“Excellent reflections on how AI will and will not help with medical/etc research. The author holds a PhD from MIT and is  biotech researcher and entrepreneur.
  6. I’m homeless in California. And I have an easy, cost-free solution to homelessness (Lydia Blumberg, Sacramento Bee): “One thing that would dramatically improve the lives of unhoused people in California could be done today, wouldn’t cost taxpayers any money and would require no effort by politicians or city workers. It’s as simple as a governor or mayor uttering three words: Stop sweeps now. Each time a homeless camp is dismantled, people’s lives are destroyed. All the effort we put into creating a home — we do not actually consider ourselves homeless because our camp is our home — is wiped away. Our worldly possessions, including identification, medical records, family heirlooms, clothing, electronics, furniture, instruments, bedding, tents, tools and other items that we use to earn income, are literally thrown into garbage trucks. Our handmade shelters are smashed by giant machines as we watch.”
  7. Yes, Critical Race Theory Is Being Taught in Schools (Zach Goldberg &  Eric Kaufmann, City Journal): “We began by asking our 18- to 20-year-old respondents (82.4 percent of whom reported attending public schools) whether they had ever been taught in class or heard about from an adult at school each of six concepts—four of which are central to critical race theory. The chart below, which displays the distribution of responses for each concept, shows that ‘been taught’ is the modal response for all but one of the six concepts. For the CRT-related concepts, 62 percent reported either being taught in class or hearing from an adult in school that ‘America is a systemically racist country,’ 69 percent reported being taught or hearing that ‘white people have white privilege,’ 57 percent reported being taught or hearing that ‘white people have unconscious biases that negatively affect non-white people,’ and 67 percent reported being taught or hearing that ‘America is built on stolen land.’ ”

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 I Rediscovered Faith (Malcolm Gladwell, Relevant Magazine): “I have always believed in God. I have grasped the logic of Christian faith. What I have had a hard time seeing is God’s power. I put that sentence in the past tense because something happened to me…” From volume 261. It’s been paywalled since I first shared it. There is a substantive excerpt at https://aleteia.org/2020/08/02/author-malcolm-gladwell-relates-how-he-re-found-christianity/

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 383

On Fridays (Saturdays when I officiate a wedding on Friday — congrats Alex & Andrea!) 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.

Happy New Year! Most of my readers know this, but this bundle of links is an overflow from a ministry called Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship at Stanford University. Today is December 31st, which is the biggest giving day of the year. If you are inclined toward generosity on New Year’s Eve, consider making a year-end donation to support the ministry.

This is volume 383, which is both a prime number and a palindrome. Not too shabby, 383. Hold your head up high among the numbers.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Reasons to believe, Christmas edition:
    • How Would You Prove That God Performed a Miracle? (Molly Worthen, New York Times): “Josh Brown directs the program in neuroscience at Indiana University Bloomington. He has published dozens of articles on topics like the neural basis of decision making in the brain. He has wire-rimmed glasses and a calm, methodical way of speaking. And after almost two decades of keeping relatively quiet, he is now speaking openly about his most surprising research finding: He believes that God miraculously healed him of a brain tumor.”
      • Highly recommended. The author is a historian at UNC.
    • When Mary Met the Angel (Rebecca McLaughlin, Wall Street Journal): “ ‘Science is the description of how God chooses to work most of the time,’ writes Russell Cowburn, a professor of physics at the University of Cambridge. ‘We know dead bodies don’t come back to life according to science. And yet Christianity is built on the observation that Jesus came back to life. I am very happy to say that at that special moment, God was acting differently.’ Like many other world-class scientists I’ve interviewed—including Francis Collins, former director of the National Institutes of Health—Prof. Cowburn came to faith in Jesus as an adult. He is not just trying to make scientific sense of a childhood faith that he cannot shed.”
      • Disclaimer: I know the author and am thrilled she was invited to write about faith for the WSJ.
    • A Christmas Conversation About Christ (Nicolas Kristof interviewing Russell Moore, New York Times): “The most important blind spot is perhaps missing why so many of us are drawn to faith in the first place. We really do believe the Gospel is Good News that answers the deepest longings of the human heart. I would just recommend that people read one of the Gospels with an open mind. Jesus loves New York Times readers, too.”
  2. A Darkness Revealed (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “…the great challenge here, as ever, is to strive to see our ancestors and our contemporaries with moral clarity, not whitewashing their sins and failings with poetic memory, while also recognizing their virtues — and in all cases, never, ever allowing their full humanity, the good and the bad alike, to be assimilated into the realm of ideas.”
    • I found this gripping. A man wrestles with the not-entirely-surprising revelation that his father was in the KKK.
  3. Urbana Missions Conference That Once Drew 20,000 Expected to Fall Far Short (Bob Smietana, Ministry Watch): “Jao said that lingering concerns over COVID-19 and the country’s economic woes are helping to drive projected attendance down for the conference, usually held every three years, but delayed until this year by the pandemic. Like many churches, he said, InterVarsity and other campus ministries are still rebuilding their attendance.”
  4. Our First Closeup Image of Mars Was a Paint-By-Numbers Pastel Drawing (Jason Kottke, personal blog): “On July 15, 1965, NASA’s Mariner 4 probe flew within 6,118 miles of the surface of Mars, capturing images as it passed over the planet. The image data was transmitted back to scientists on Earth, but they didn’t have a good way to quickly render a photograph from it. They determined that the fastest way to see what Mariner 4 had seen was to print out the imaging data as a series of numbers, paste them into a grid, buy a set of pastels from a nearby art store, and do a paint-by-numbers job with the pastels on the data grid.”
    • This is actually beautiful.
  5. Americans Have Found Their Happy Place (Tyler Cowen, Bloomberg): “Two economists, David G. Blanchflower of Dartmouth and Alex Bryson of University College London, have come up with a new and more intuitive way to measure well-being. The results are striking. If you consider US states as comparable to countries, 16 of the top 20 political units in the world for well-being are in the US — including the top seven.”
  6. The Media Very Rarely Lies (Scott Alexander, Astral Codex Ten): “The point is: the media rarely lies explicitly and directly. Reporters rarely say specific things they know to be false. When the media misinforms people, it does so by misinterpreting things, excluding context, or signal-boosting some events while ignoring others, not by participating in some bright-line category called ‘misinformation’.”
    • Follow-up: Sorry, I Still Think I Am Right About The Media Very Rarely Lying (Scott Alexander, Astral Codex Ten): “…I find it really interesting that so many commenters were so resistant to the idea that the worst and dumbest conspiracy theories of our time don’t involve outright lies. I think all of us — not just censors — want to maintain the comforting illusion that the bad people are doing something fundamentally different than the good people, something that marks them as Obviously Bad in bright neon paint.”
  7. Is the right winning the comedy wars? (Constance Grady, Vox): “It’s as though there’s some sort of fundamental disconnect between right and left on the issue of comedy. On a very basic level, the two sides seem to disagree on the question of what a joke should look like, what it’s okay to joke about, and what is so under threat that to joke about it would be unthinkable. No one seems sure how to talk about the difference, exactly. They just know that they want to be the funny ones.”

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 Fertility rate: ‘Jaw-dropping’ global crash in children being born (James Gallagher, BBC): “China, currently the most populous nation in the world, is expected to peak at 1.4 billion in four years’ time before nearly halving to 732 million by 2100. India will take its place.” From a long-term perspective, this is possibly the most significant news you will read this year. Some of you will still be alive when China’s population is half what it is now. And it’s not just China — many nations are on the same path (with only a few sizable ones headed in the opposite direction). From volume 259

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 377

things which grabbed my attention

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 377, the 14th Fibonacci number.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. sprawling along the way: a polemic and an exhortation (Alan Jacobs, personal blog): “Whenever Christians decide that they need a strategy, they’re writing a recipe for disobedience to the Lord Jesus. As Stanley Hauerwas has always said in response to people who say that the Church needs a social strategy, ‘the Church is a social strategy.…’ The Church’s job is to be the Church, and the Christian’s task is to be like Christ, and strategies invariably get in the way of both.”
    • This is insightful.
  2. How Should Christians Speak in Public? (Tim Keller, Mere Orthodoxy): “The fruit of the Spirit includes love, joy and peace, patience and kindness, and humility. These must be evident as we speak about the gospel publicly. Right now, the most popular public figures show confidence and fearlessness but not love and humility. We cannot follow in that train.”
    • Difficult to excerpt fairly.
  3. Does education ‘cure’ people of faith? The data says no (Ryan Burge, Religion News): “Those who are the most likely to be religiously unaffiliated are those with the lowest levels of formal education. The group that is the most likely to align with a faith tradition? Those who have earned a college degree or more.”
    • This is one of those true things that people have a hard time believing.
  4. Iran and China Use Private Detectives to Spy on Dissidents in America (Benjamin Weiser and & William K. Rashbaum, New York Times): “Across America, investigators are increasingly being hired by a new kind of client — authoritarian governments like Iran and China attempting to surveil, harass, threaten and even repatriate dissidents living lawfully in the United States, law enforcement officials said.”
  5. Aella & The Futility Of ‘Consent’ (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “I’ve heard that ‘but animals can’t consent!’ argument from people before, as a defense against normalizing bestiality, and it has never made sense. You think animals can consent to being eaten?”
    • I remember when I first talked with a student who seriously claimed that consent was the only moral rule applicable to sex. I was so stunned I don’t think I had the wherewithal to laugh. It’s such an absurd claim.
  6. Leprosy: Ancient disease able to regenerate organs (James Gallagher, BBC): “Animal experiments have uncovered the bacteria’s remarkable ability to almost double the size of livers by stimulating healthy growth. It is a sneakily selfish act that gives the bacteria more tissue to infect. But working out how they do it could lead to new age-defying therapies, the scientists say.”
    • This is super cool! I hope it pans out.
  7. The top 10 most-regretted college majors — and the degrees graduates wish they had pursued instead (Jessica Dickler, CNBC): “Computer science majors, with an average annual starting salary of almost $100,000, were the happiest overall, according to ZipRecruiter. Students who majored in criminology, engineering, nursing, business and finance also felt very good about their choices.”

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 Religious Liberty and the Common Good (National Affairs, William Haun): “Many of today’s progressives, conservatives, and libertarians [cannot] explain why religion in particular and religious exercise in particular should shape the common good, even when they go against the grain of secular visions adopted in law.” Not light reading but worthwhile. The author is a lawyer for the Becket Fund. From volume 248

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 373

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 373, a permutable prime. That means it is a prime number even when you rearrange its digits (337, 733).

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Reconstructing Faith: Christianity in a New World (Tim Keller, Life In The Gospel): “Christians in our cultural moment will have to rethink their faith, but at the same time they must learn to ‘doubt their doubts.’ They must deconstruct not only their tacit, mistaken beliefs and their secondary beliefs that pose as primary, but also just as importantly, the cultural narratives that are offered as the alternatives to Christian faith.” Recommended by a student.
  2. The Math of Measurements (Tumblr): “The base 12 system of the traditional English foot is fantastic for mental math, because 12 is a highly divisible number. It’s easily divisible into halves, thirds, quarters, and sixths by most people in their heads.… This is the kind of math most artisans need to do. You want supports placed evenly along a wall, to divide a piece of fabric in half, or to double a recipe. Nobody 1.7x’s a recipe. Metric would be great for that, but why would you do that? It wouldn’t be worth the math involved.”
    • I very much like this rant. There’s a lot to like about metric, but not as much as some of its enthusiasts claim.
  3. Co-ops are the New Greek Life (Julia Steinberg, Stanford Review): “While attempting to provide an alternative social and living environment based on principles of counterculturalism, many co-ops recreate the social pressures of Greek Life through a flimsy veneer of counterculturalism.… co-ops present a space to safely pretend to be countercultural, while forging a living community with people who are just like them, preventing the expression of true difference and diversity. If co-ops seek to hold onto the legacy of the 60s and 70s that birthed these houses, they must reckon with the fact that they are currently co-ed Greek Houses in a crochet sweater.”
  4. Boston University CREATES a new Covid strain that has an 80% kill rate — echoing dangerous experiments feared to have started pandemic (Caitlin Tilley, Daily Mail): “It will no doubt surprise many Americans that such experiments continue to go on in the US despite concerns similar studies may have led to the global Covid outbreak.”
    • Another rational response that also addresses common objections: Can We At Least Ban Gain of Function Research? (Zvi Mowshowitz, Substack): “Imagine the worst thing you could do that doesn’t involve nuclear weapons. Then imagine someone went ahead and did it, and published, and it was all not only legal. It was funded. Here in America.”
  5. American Idol: How Politics Replaced Spiritual Practice (Michael Wear, Christianity Today): “…the Christian faith offers tremendous resources for combating political sectarianism and so much else that ails our politics, but we have to connect those resources to our public life and politics. Christians don’t need to be reminded of kindness, gentleness, and joy. But many do need to be convinced that the way of Jesus is up to the task of politics. They need to be convinced that the public arena, too, is a forum for faithfulness.”
  6. Key findings from The Post’s series on veterans’ lucrative foreign jobs (Craig Whitlock and Nate Jones, Washington Post): “More than 500 retired U.S. military personnel — including scores of generals and admirals — have taken jobs as contractors and consultants for foreign governments since 2015, cashing in on their military expertise and political clout. Most have worked as civilian contractors for Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other Persian Gulf monarchies, playing a critical, though largely invisible, role in upgrading their militaries.”
    • Somewhat related: American technology boosts China’s hypersonic missile program (Cate Cadell & Ellen Nakashima, Washington Post): “Military research groups at the leading edge of China’s hypersonics and missile programs — many on a U.S. export blacklist — arepurchasing a range of specialized American technology, including products developed by firms that have received millions of dollars in grants and contracts from the Pentagon, a Washington Post investigation has found.”
    • See a non-paywalled summary of the missile story at US software gives China its hypersonic edge (Gabriel Honrada, Asia Times)
  7. Stanford Apologizes for Limiting Jewish Admissions in the 1950s (Amanda Holpuch, New York Times): “Several colleges and universities, including Harvard, Yale and Dartmouth, limited Jewish enrollment in the 1920s through the 1960s, but Stanford had long denied rumors that it had used similar practices.” Of interest in this story is (a) the interview at the end with Jessica, the director of Hillel and (b) the fact that a Substack article started all this.
    • The Substack article which launched it: How I Discovered Stanford’s Jewish Quota (Charles Petersen, Substack): “One Jewish student who attended Stanford in the 1960s was told by his high school guidance counselor that the university would only accept one Jewish student from each high school each year — he had been the one to get in. If this is true (and this student verified the claim from personal experience), it might offer an explanation for how Snyder implemented the suggestion, mentioned earlier, from the Jewish president of Stanford’s board of trustees. When Snyder wanted to admit a few Gentiles with less than stellar grades, he made sure to admit precisely one Jewish applicant near the top of the class.”

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 3 Types of Skeptics (C. Michael Patton, Credo House): “1. Those who need answers…. 2. Those who don’t like the answers…. 3. Those who need healing.” From volume 244.

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 372

On Fridays (apparently some Saturdays) 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 372, a number I think is cool because it can be expressed as the sum of successive primes: 31 + 37 + 41 + 43 + 47 + 53 + 59 + 61 = 372.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. How Convenient, That Kanye West’s Behavior Could Not Possibly Be Influenced by His Mental Illness (Freddie deBoer, Substack): “Two things I really hate: morals of convenience and false friends. The types of people who say ‘mental illness doesn’t do that’ are the types to profess support for those with psychiatric disorders, but only when it’s easy, when the mentally ill are doing the socially approved things like talking to themselves on the subway. Which of course means that they are no friend to the mentally ill at all; support only means something when it comes at a cost.”
    • Somewhat related: How Kanye West’s Breakdown Makes Sense of Our Social Crisis (Russell Moore, Christianity Today): “Instability from this artist is hardly surprising. Several years ago, I noted that I was worried for the rapper—not because of his mental health challenges but because of what American evangelicals often do to celebrities who profess faith. Too often we claim them as, at best, mascots for ‘our side’ and, at worst, as trophies from the culture wars. Over and over, the church has expected things from these figures that they do not have the maturity, wisdom, or even stability to handle.”
  2. Review: When Narcissism Comes to Church (Samuel D. James, Substack): “But this book makes a monumental decision: a decision to put the Bible’s moral language to the side, to call a disorder what the Bible calls sin, to call self-actualization what the Bible calls repentance. This book’s aversion to biblical categories does not empower readers to confront spiritually abusive systems. It instead makes those systems harder to disrupt.”
    • This is an outstanding book review that puts its finger on a problem I frequently notice — when we disregard Biblical analysis we make it needlessly hard to bring Biblical solutions to bear.
  3. The Woman Who Gave the World a Thousand Names for God (Jordan K. Monson, Christianity Today): “Has there been a single translator in church history with Barnwell’s sway? We could talk about Jerome and his Latin Vulgate, used by the Roman Catholic Church as its principal translation for over 1,500 years. There was Luther and his German-language Bible. There was England’s King James I, if you credit him for commissioning his KJV—or William Tyndale if you feel like the KJV was mostly cribbed from his work.” The claim feels like hyperbole until you read the article. Wowsers. What a legacy!
  4. How California’s Bullet Train Went Off the Rails (Ralph Vartabedian, New York Times): “ ‘There were so many things that went wrong,’ Mr. McNamara said. ‘[The rail company] was very angry. They told the state they were leaving for North Africa, which was less politically dysfunctional. They went to Morocco and helped them build a rail system.’ Morocco’s bullet train started service in 2018.”
  5. 10 Affirmations and Denials on Ethnic Harmony, Justice, and the Church (Justin Taylor, The Gospel Coalition): “We simply cannot allow politics or secular culture to define our terms or determine our beliefs. Jesus puts his finger on ethnic harmony and says, ‘Mine.’ Therefore, the aim of these affirmations and denials is to rightly represent the voice of Jesus Christ. The One who designed ethnic diversity has unparalleled authority and has the final word on the whole issue.”
    • Somewhat related: The Placebo Of Affirmative Action (Andrew Sullivan, Substack): “A recent David Shor analysis found that, among Democratic policies, affirmative action was among the most unpopular — with even less support than ‘defund the police.’ More tangibly: on the nine occasions the policy has been put to the electoral test since 1996, it has lost eight times, most recently in super-liberal California in 2020.”
  6. Three Paradoxes of Atheism (Neil Shenvi, personal website): “Historically, one of the most attractive features of atheism has been its claim to stark realism. No matter how unappealing a godless universe may turn out to be, atheists claim to be committed to adhering to the truth at all costs. However, in this essay I would like to show that at the very heart of atheism are several extremely unexpected paradoxes, areas in which atheism is shown to be in tension with a commitment to realism and a life consistent with truth.” Recommended by a student.
  7. Spread of Catholic hospitals limits reproductive care across the U.S. (Frances Stead Sellers and Meena Venkataramanan, Washington Post): “Catholic systems now control about 1 in 7 U.S. hospital beds, requiring religious doctrine to guide treatment, often to the surprise of patients.”
    • The above article annoyed me and I was pleased to see this response: As Washington Post targets Catholic hospitals, every religious institution needs to build defenses (Timothy P. Carney, Washington Examiner):  “These journalists write as if the baseline is total acceptance of abortion, gay marriage, and transgender ideology and that the scary new thing is the religious hospitals or teachings that have been around for centuries or millennia. ‘Spread of Catholic hospitals’ is a funny headline because Catholics were the ones who invented hospitals. If you wanted to write a trend piece, you should really write about the spread of laws and lawsuits threatening Catholic hospitals, which are actually new.”

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 Is Joshua’s Altar on Mount Ebal in Israel Myth? Or Reality? (Ralph Hawkins, Logos): “When I was working on my doctoral dissertation about the Ebal site, I spent a week with Zertal. One morning while we were driving to the site, he told me his critics had accused him of trying to prove the Bible. They said he imposed a cultic interpretation onto the stone structure he had found. He explained, though, that he had been born and raised in Ein Shemer, Israeli kibbutz that was affiliated with a secular movement. He said he had grown up believing that the Bible was full of myths. When he did his graduate work in archaeology, he did it at Tel Aviv, the most liberal university in Israel, where those views were reinforced. He insisted he had not embarked on his excavation at Mount Ebal in order to prove the Bible. What he found there, however, had a profound effect on him. He said, ‘I became a believer at Mount Ebal.’” I love stories like this. Archaeology and the Bible is fascinating to me. From volume 243.

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 367

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 367th installment, notable because 367 is a prime number and also the largest number whose square is composed of strictly increasing digits: 3672 = 134689.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Socialism, Nationalism, and Tolkien (Alec Dent, The Dispatch): “In our time of unprecedented wealth and safety, the once-defeated foe of illiberalism has made a reappearence.… due largely to a lack of appreciation for how good we have things right now, a lack of understanding of how we got here, and a lack of understanding of how a radical overhaul of society would alter the world as we know it.”
  2. The Despotism of Isaias Afewerki (Alex de Waal, The Baffler): “…fighters protested the decision that they should continue to serve without pay for two more years. A group of disabled veterans marched—there’s no verb that conveys the determined collective motion of their wheelchairs, artificial limbs, and sticks—towards the capital to demand their pensions. They were shot at with live ammunition. Some were killed, others were arrested and disappeared.”
    • I’d heard before that Eritrea was worse than North Korea in some ways, but this article really drove it home. Wow.
  3. Why People Are Losing Faith In Public Institutions (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “…if you relied on the Post to tell you about the world you actually live in, it would not have occurred to you that there is any other side to the library story than the virtuous pink-haired queer librarian and her allies versus the mob of bigots. If you are on the Left, isn’t it in your interest to understand why people are so upset, even if you don’t agree with them? Isn’t it in your interest to at least think about why the people of a town would rather defund their library rather than see it used in this way?”
    • This one is wild and Dreher, as they say, has the receipts.
  4. Can an Atheist Be a Moral Realist? (J. Budziszewski, personal blog): “…I can’t see how you can be an atheist and a moral realist at the same time. It is like eating a cake and still having it. If naturalism is true, then aren’t we just meat bags full of water with no dignity? My friend says I am caricaturing his position. Am I missing something, or is he?”
    • This is well argued. The author is a professor of government and philosophy at the University of Texas.
  5. Trump should fill Christians with rage. How come he doesn’t? (Michael Gerson, Washington Post): “I know that people inspired by [Jesus] have done great things in the past — building hospitals for the poor, improving the rights of women and children, militating against slavery, caring for the mentally disabled, working for a merciful welfare state, fighting prejudice, improving global health. But precisely because these things have happened, it is difficult for me to comprehend why so many American evangelicals have rejected the splendor and romance of their calling and settled for the cultural and political resentments of the hard right.”
    • Long and a bit rambly, nonetheless interesting.
  6. Publishing needs JK Rowling to be a monster (Victoria Smith, The Critic Magazine): “The trouble with JK Rowling is that she has done nothing wrong. Back in 2020, she wrote a carefully worded, compassionate piece about sex and gender.… This is a situation in which the punishment has created the crime and it’s one that is needed by members of the publishing industry who have spent years embracing the arguments of the most extreme trans activists while ignoring those of feminists. They need Rowling to be a monster. Otherwise they might have to respond, not just to what Rowling has written, but to the realities of the movement to which they have pledged allegiance.”
  7. Died: Queen Elizabeth II, British Monarch Who Put Her Trust in God (Dudley Delffs, Christianity Today): “The Queen’s love of the Bible and its gospel message led to her participation in the publication of a special book to commemorate her 90th birthday. Titled The Servant Queen and the King She Serves.… Her Majesty personally wrote the foreword, thanking readers for their prayers and good wishes. ‘I have been—and remain—very grateful to … God for His steadfast love. I have indeed seen His faithfulness,’ she wrote. The book was distributed to thousands of churches across the UK and throughout many Commonwealth countries prior to the Queen’s birthday in 2016. The book proved so popular that the Bible Society had to print another 150,000 copies to meet demand.”

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 Big Data+Small Bias « Small Data+Zero Bias (Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution): “Suppose you want to estimate who will win the 2016 US Presidential election. You ask 2.3 million potential voters whether they are likely to vote for Trump or not. The sample is in all ways demographically representative of the US voting population but potential Trump voters are a tiny bit less likely to answer the question, just .001 less likely to answer (note they don’t lie, they just don’t answer).” I was stunned. From volume 234.

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 366

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 366th of these missives, which is not only the number of days in a leap year but also  82 + 9+ 102+ 112.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. No Promises (Eve Tushnet, Plough): “In confession you do not seek primarily moral improvement but reconciliation with God. The confessional is less a classroom and more a trysting place. In my own life, my best current understanding of what I’m doing is not that I’ve turned away from drunkenness and to abstinence; abstinence is an absence. It’s slightly more true to say that I am turning from drunkenness to sobriety: a path of peace. But it is most true to say that I hope to turn from drunkenness to Christ. And this in all things: not from vice to virtue but from vice to God.”
  2. Humans Are All More Closely Related Than We Commonly Think (Scott Hershberger, Scientific American): “…our most recent common ancestor probably lived no earlier than 1400 B.C.and possibly as recently as A.D. 55. In the time of Egypt’s Queen Nefertiti, someone from whom we are all descended was likely alive somewhere in the world. Go back a bit further, and you reach a date when our family trees share not just one ancestor in common but every ancestor in common.… somewhere between 5300 and 2200 B.C.,according to Rohde’s calculations.”
    • If only there was an ancient and holy book which attested something similar…
  3. Why Are We in Ukraine? (Christopher Caldwell, Claremont Review of Books): “The attempt to isolate Russia from the American world system has had a striking unintended consequence—the possible founding of an alternative world system that would draw power away from the existing one. Twenty years ago, under George W. Bush, the United States removed the Iraqi deterrent from Iran’s neighborhood, transforming Iran overnight into a regional power. This year, under Joe Biden, the United States has made China a gift of Russia’s exportable food and mineral resources. We are displaying an outright genius for identifying our most dangerous military adversary and solving its most pressing strategic challenge.”
    • In related news, these two articles by Rod Dreher are the clearest things I’ve seen highlighting the problems Europe is facing as a result of the Ukrainian war. Scary times.
    • Neronian Ruling Class Fiddles While West Burns (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “As rich as the West is, it can’t keep its people warm in the winter by burning cash. And so, European households are now being forced to ask if freezing in the dark for Ukraine is something they really want to do. This is not going to happen to Americans — but you should think about how you would react if this were you, and your elderly parents, and your kids. Yes, Putin is an SOB, but this is the real world.”
    • Can You Heat Europe With Von Der Leyen’s Hot Air? (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “To be clear: Putin was wicked to invade Ukraine, and I wish Russia would lose that war. But Russia is not losing that war; the West is. It is unspeakably arrogant for Ursula von der Leyen to say Putin is not being cricket to use economics as a weapon of war, when she and the group of nations she leads have spent the last six months doing exactly the same thing to Russia, only without much effect. Russia, obviously, has the better hand — and it’s playing it. Again: we are ruled by fools who prefer sunny ideological dreams to cold reality … of the sort that’s going to hit European homes and businesses very hard by January.”
  4. Submarine Cables and Container Shipments: Two Immediate Risks to the US Economy if China Invades Taiwan (Christine McDaniel and Weifeng Zhong, Mercatus): “The potential effects of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan on the US economy are far greater than those of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Container shipments to and from major ports in the region, as well as digital flows, would be at direct risk. China and Taiwan are also major suppliers and consumers for US major trading partners around the globe from Japan and Germany to Saudi Arabia. The effects of a crisis or blockade would be felt by every major economy, which, in turn, would produce additional negative effects for the US economy.”
  5. Octopuses Don’t Have Backbones — or Rights (New York Times): “…male blue-ringed octopuses could use touch to recognize females they’d already mated with. After bumping into a former mate, the males fled, perhaps to avoid being eaten. Such research suggests that octopuses and other cephalopods are smart and sensitive.”
    • That’s a funny excerpt. More seriously, I thought this point was quite interesting: “Dr. Niemi said critics have pointed out that animal care committees have rarely denied approval to researchers. But in his experience, this is because committees go back and forth with a scientist to revise the plan until it is acceptable.”
  6. Death in Navy SEAL Training Exposes a Culture of Brutality, Cheating and Drugs (Dave Philipps, New York Times): “Sailors who enter the program bolstered by steroids and hormones can push harder, recover faster and probably beat out the sailors who are trying to become SEALs while clean, said one senior SEAL leader with multiple combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. The inevitable effect, he said, is that a course designed to select the very best will end up selecting only the very best cheaters, and steadily fill the SEAL teams with war fighters who view rules as optional. ‘What am I going to do with guys like that in a place like Afghanistan?’ said the leader. ‘A guy who can do 100 pull-ups but can’t make an ethical decision?’ ” 
    • This story has INSANE details.
  7. New stories on New Apostolic Reformation, Sean Feucht keep assuming a right-wing takeover (Julia Duin, GetReligion): “…he doesn’t claim to be a pastor who’s expected to take a quasi-vow of property; he’s a rock musician who does what other entertainers do: Haul in the cash. He just happens to have put a Christian veneer on it all, and he’s doing for conservatives what liberal Hollywood elites have done for the Left for years.  If you look at Feucht in that light — as an astute entertainer who wisely grasped peoples’ anger at church shut-downs in 2020 and exploited it in a series of concerts — his wealth doesn’t seem as unusual.”
    • I found this piece very interesting. At its best, GetReligion highlights how news stories in major publications get basic facts wrong about religion (especially traditional religions) and miss important insights as a result. This is one of their better pieces in a while.

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  Film Experts: Why Christian Movies Are a Joke (Douglas Wilson): “Stefan Malarney (Hot Tub Time Machine) made the observation that Christian film makers simply refuse to pick material that is true to life. Andre Caproni (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) agreed, adding that unless we address the human condition with integrity, we are denying something essentially spiritual about ourselves.” For the record, this is satire. From volume 233.

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 363

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 number 363, which can be represented as 31 + 3+ 3+ 3+ 35

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Why aren’t smart people happier? (Adam Mastroianni, Substack): “My grandma does not know how to use the ‘input’ button on her TV’s remote control, but she does know how to raise a family full of good people who love each other, how to carry on through a tragedy, and how to make the perfect pumpkin pie.… Excluding this kind of intelligence from our definitions doesn’t just hurt our grandmas—it hurts us too. If you don’t value the ability to solve poorly defined problems, you’ll never get more of it. You won’t seek out people who have that ability and try to learn from them, nor will you listen to them when they have something important to say. You’ll spend your whole life trying to solve problems with cleverness when what you really need is wisdom.”
  2. New York City’s Largest Evangelical Church Plans Billion-Dollar Development (Emily Belz, Christianity Today): “On 10.5 acres of church land, the proposed village would include thousands of units of affordable housing, a trade school, a supermarket, a performing arts center, 24/7 childcare for night-shift workers, senior living facilities, and other amenities designed to revitalize the East New York neighborhood.”
    • But I thought churches were leeches on society exploiting their tax-exempt status without helping their communities! I’m sure someone told me that once. 
  3. When mixing faith with furries, things can get hairy (Riley Farrell, Religion News Service): “…Christians in the furry community are cautious about who knows about both their furry and faithful selves. Christian furries interviewed for this story, including leaders of the group that calls itself the Christian Furry Fellowship, asked to be anonymous, fearing ‘doxxing’ from within the largely secular furry community for their Christian identity and ostracization from their professional lives for their furry hobby.”
    • This was by far the most unexpected article I read this week. There’s a lot happening here. I draw your attention to my disclaimers.
  4. Fact-Checking Randall Balmer’s Urban Legend on the Real Origin of the Religious Right (Jonathan Whitehead, The Gospel Coalition): “By the early 1970s, Evangelicals, Catholics, and other religious voters had discovered that politics would not leave them alone. Then their concerns about abortion, government overreach in schools, secular humanism at the FCC, and an unresponsive ‘born again’ President all merged into a single outlet, creating a torrent of Republican voters in 1978 and beyond.”
    • I posted a debunking of this claim a while ago, but this one is quite good. And the claim gets repeated enough in certain circles that debunkings should be repeated as well.
  5. There Is a Secular Case for Life (David French, The Dispatch): “Amidst a squadron of religious conservative lawyers, there was a single atheist progressive. He was bearded, disheveled, and quiet, but when he spoke everyone fell silent. Everyone leaned forward to hear what he had to say. His name was Nat Hentoff. He was a writer for the Village Voice; he’d published in Playboy. He was a progressive civil libertarian. He was also one of the most persuasive pro-life voices in the land.”
  6. Yearning for a Banana Republic (Jonah Goldberg, The Dispatch): “When serious people talk seriously about changing a regime, they’re talking about changing the system of government. Regime change in Iraq meant getting rid of a totalitarian, terroristic dictatorship, not simply replacing Saddam Hussein with a more pliable and cooperative tyrant. America’s regime isn’t on any ballot. Symbolically, it is the ballot. More properly, it is the constitutional system that requires our leaders to be elected.”
    • This is straight fire. Not especially partisan but definitely political. Goldberg is a tremendous wordsmith.
  7. 1st synthetic mouse embryos — complete with beating hearts and brains — created with no sperm, eggs or womb (Nicoletta Lanese, Live Science): “To achieve this feat, the researchers used only stem cells and a spinning device filled with shiny glass vials.”
    • The title is, I think, poorly worded. These are not embryos assembled from raw materials; rather, the researchers successfully morphed a stem cell into an embryo. Which is also amazing!

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  Evangelicalism’s Silent Majority (Emma Green, The Atlantic): “One of my big takeaways from reporting on evangelical communities is that, contrary to some stereotypes, evangelicals are some of the most globally minded people in America. They donate to charities that do extensive aid work overseas. They’re exposed to other countries through mission work or humanitarian trips.” First shared in volume 232. (sadly, this is paywalled)

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 361

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 361, which is also the number of intersections on a Go board.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Actually Good AI-Generated Bible Art with DALL·E 2 (John Dyer, personal blog): “The GPT‑3 prompts I used evolved over time, but this one is emblematic: Suggest 5 unique concept ideas for a work of visual art inspired by Luke 14:7–11 (do not pick the place of honor) in the Bible. Include art direction and a specific medium and artist to emulate. Include artists from a variety of eras, styles, and media. Try for an unusual perspective. Title, year, medium. Description.”
    • Some of these are stunning. Recommended.
  2. Religion Is Dying? Don’t Believe It (Byron R. Johnson & Jeff Levin, Wall Street Journal): “Data from five recent U.S. population surveys point to the vibrancy, ubiquity and growth of religion in the U.S. Americans are becoming more religious, and religious institutions are thriving. Consistent with some previous studies but contrary to widely held assumptions, many people who report no religious affiliation—and even many self-identified atheists and agnostics—exhibit substantial levels of religious practice and belief.”
    • The authors are professors of social science and epidemiology, respectively. I one hundred percent believe this report. The so-called “rise of the nones” is mostly the result of confirmation bias by secular academics and journalists who find religiously committed people annoying.
    • This WSJ article (which I think is paywalled) is based on the freely available scholarly article: Are Religious “Nones” Really Not Religious?: Revisiting Glenn, Three Decades Later (Levin et al, Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion): “The use of words and phrases such as none, no religion, and not religious to describe this group of unaffiliated individuals is thus inappropriate, inaccurate, and misleading.”
  3. Which Sins Are Feeding Your Sin of Lust? (David Powlison, Crossway): “Tom concentrated all his attention on one marquee sin that surfaced sporadically, defining and energizing all his guilty feelings. But that narrowing of attention served to mask far more serious, pervasive sins. As a pastor, friend, or other counselor, you don’t want to concentrate all your energies in the same place Tom did. There were other, deeper opportunities for grace and truth to rewrite the script of this man’s life.”
  4. A Media-Fueled Social Panic Over Unmarked Graves (Jonathan Kay, Quillette): “It’s now been 14 months since the original announcement was made about presumed graves in Kamloops, and no physical evidence has been unearthed. No graves. No corpses. No human remains.… I’ve been in journalism for a quarter century, and have witnessed plenty of bizarre controversies within my trade. But I’ve never witnessed anything similar to this phenomenon. It’s like one of those case-studies in mass hysteria and popular delusion that you read about in history books.”
    • This is not a claim that bad things didn’t happen. It’s more of a claim that the specific bad things that are alleged didn’t happen or that they didn’t happen on the scale widely reported.
  5. China related:
  6. NHS will SHUT its controversial Tavistock transgender clinic for children after damning report warned it was ‘not safe’ (John Ely and Laurence Dollimore, The Daily Mail): “It follows an announcement last month that every child treated for gender dysphoria in the last decade will have their medical records scrutinised to see if NHS care is causing them more harm than good.”
  7. Hot Takes Don’t Belong in Church (Chris Nye, Christianity Today): “So long as we are creating a palatable statement for social media or Sunday’s sermon, we are not praying, worshiping, or organizing ourselves for meaningful action. But in today’s culture, the appearance of morality is more important than moral actions, and speaking is more highly valued than praying.”
    • This is full of good points. Chris is an acquaintance of mine.

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 This Cultural Moment (podcast): I listened to this podcast about following Jesus in the post-Christian world upon the recommendation of some alumni and a student. It’s quite good. Definitely start with episode 1. First shared in volume 231.

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.