Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 454



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 454, a number whose symmetry pleases me.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The Nones Have Hit a Ceiling (Ryan Burge, Substack): “The rise of the nones may be largely over now. At least it won’t be increasing in the same way that it did in the prior thirty years. Of course, the question is why? I don’t know if I have a bulletproof answer. I think the easiest explanation is that a lot of marginally attached people switched to ‘no religion’ on surveys over the last decade or two. Eventually, there weren’t that many marginally attached folks anymore. All you had left were the very committed religious people who likely won’t become nones for any reason. The loose top soil has been scooped off and hauled away, leaving nothing but hard bedrock underneath.”
    • Emphasis removed for readability.
  2. ‘Loud-mouthed bully’: CS Lewis satirised Oxford peer in secret poems (Dalya Alberge, The Guardian): “Joking that an infuriated Lewis had perhaps composed them during one of Wyld’s lectures, Horobin noted that one of them identifies Wyld through an acrostic with the initial letters spelling out the name ‘Henry Cecil Wyld’. He added: ‘On the remaining blank pages he penned a series of additional satirical verses lampooning Wyld – one in English, alongside others in Latin, Greek, French and even Old English.’ ”
    • Even Lewis’s shade was epic and erudite. I love this story. Also, a reminder that every word will be brought into judgement — even words uttered (or penned) in secret. I should mention he would not yet have been a Christian when these poems appear to have been composed.
  3. What Do Students at Elite Colleges Really Want? (Francesca Mari, New York Times): “…everyone arrived on campus hoping to change the world. But what they learn at Harvard, he said, is that actually doing anything meaningful is too hard. People give up on their dreams, he told me, and decide they might as well make money. Someone else told me it was common at parties to hear their peers say they just want to sell out.”
    • Unlocked
  4. Redefining the scientific method: as the use of sophisticated scientific methods that extend our mind (Alexander Krauss, PNAS Nexus): “This study reveals that 25% of all discoveries since 1900 did not apply the common scientific method (all three features)—with 6% of discoveries using no observation, 23% using no experimentation, and 17% not testing a hypothesis. Empirical evidence thus challenges the common view of the scientific method.”
    • From the abstract because it is so succinctly put, but the article itself is easy to read. Recommended. The author is a philosopher of science at the London School of Economics.
  5. American Missionaries Killed in Port-au-Prince (Daniel Silliman, Christianity Today): “Criminal gangs killed nearly 5,000 people in Haiti last year. Then, in 2024, the gangs banded together, turned against the politicians who had once collaborated with them for power, and launched coordinated attacks on the government. The gangs set police stations on fire, shut down the main airport and seaport, and broke open two prisons, releasing an estimated 4,000 inmates. They vandalized government offices, stormed the National Palace, and took control of about 80 percent of the capital.”
  6. Group chats rule the world. (Sriram Krishnan, personal blog): “Most of the interesting conversations in tech now happen in private group chats: Whatsapp, Telegram, Signal, small invite-only Discord groups.… The great culture wars of 2020 meant people, especially in tech, weren’t comfortable sharing their views in public lest they get various online mobs after them.”
  7. What ‘Tradwives’—and Some of Their Critics—Miss (Hannah Anderson, The Dispatch): “But women haven’t been uniquely lied to. Families have been lied to about what their homes can and should be. Men and women alike have been told that their greatest achievements lie outside of it. And yet, a marriage reduced from two ‘careerists’ to one is still serving corporate interests. At best, a woman sacrificing her career to enable her husband’s career (as Butker asserts his wife does and as he counseled new female graduates) misses the point. At worst, it enables the very marketplace that desires nothing more than to creep into our homes and commodify every expression of goodness and beauty that happens there—even if what we’re selling is traditionalism.”

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

  • Stanford University Tour by Drone (YouTube): six minutes (it’s a little long, but the first bit is nice to watch)
  • Will 18 year old Emma Olson FOOL Penn & Teller with a Rubik’s cube? (Penn & Teller Fool Us, YouTube): nine minutes
  • When an Eel Takes a Bite Then an Octopus Might Claim an Eyeball (Joshua Rapp Learn, New York Times): “In each video, the common octopus may sacrifice arms, much as lizards drop their tails to distract predators, Dr. Hernández-Urcera said. In the first video, the octopus loses three arms while the one in the second video loses two — but they can fully regrow limbs in about 45 days, some lab tests show.”
    • Rarely do I find that news articles are improved by embedded videos. This is one of the exceptions. Very cool.
  • Are Plants Intelligent? If So, What Does That Mean for Your Salad? (Elizabeth A. Harris, New York Times): “Obviously we’re animals that need to eat plants. There’s no way around that. But there is a way of imagining a future with agricultural practices and harvesting practices that are more tuned into the life style of the plant, the things it’s capable of and its proclivities. This opens up the world of plant ethics.”
    • The article itself is interesting. The title made me laugh.

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 447

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 447, which I kinda hoped would be prime. Alas, 447 = 3 · 149.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. One of the Most Overlooked Arguments for the Resurrection (Michael J. Kruger, blog): “…the earliest Christians came to believe, against all odds and against all expectations, that Jesus of Nazareth had been raised from the dead. Notice the distinctive nature of this claim. The claim is not that Jesus rose from the dead (though, I think he did). The claim is that the earliest followers of Jesus came to believe—and very strongly believe— that he did. And that is a wholly other matter. Why? Because it is a historical fact that is not disputed.”
  2. The Problem With Saying ‘Sex Assigned at Birth’ (Alex Byrne and Carole K. Hooven, New York Times): “Sexed organisms were present on Earth at least a billion years ago, and males and females would have been around even if humans had never evolved. Sex is not in any sense the result of linguistic ceremonies in the delivery room or other cultural practices. Lonesome George, the long-lived Galápagos giant tortoise, was male. He was not assigned male at birth — or rather, in George’s case, at hatching. A baby abandoned at birth may not have been assigned male or female by anyone, yet the baby still has a sex. Despite the confusion sown by some scholars, we can be confident that the sex binary is not a human invention.”
    • One author is a philosopher at MIT, the other an evolutionary biologist at Harvard. Unlocked.
  3. Rival perspectives on the war between Israel and Hamas
    • https://twitter.com/AGHamilton29/status/1775980849944539391 (Coleman Hughes, Twitter): a two and a half minute video sympathetic to Israel
    • Bomb First, Ask Questions Later (Andrew Sullivan, Substack): “To hit one car is a misfortune; to destroy three cars consecutively on a pre-approved route, not so much. The cars were clearly marked and in a deconfliction zone — but the IDF policy is to target anywhere Hamas could be present, even if some civilians were killed. As we’ll see, one dead Hamas member and seven dead civilians was well within the margin of error Israel had set for itself. So it appears they methodically took out each car to make sure they finished the job. No, I don’t believe that Israel deliberately murdered the aid workers; but I do think that, in context, the IDF’s effective rules of engagement — strike places like hospitals and schools because Hamas is there, even though there will be many civilian casualties — made this kind of indifference to human life possible.”
  4. The Church of Trump: How He’s Infusing Christianity Into His Movement (Michael C. Bender, New York Times): “The apparent effectiveness of such tactics has made Mr. Trump the nation’s first major politician to successfully separate character from policy for religious voters, said John Fea, a history professor at Messiah University, an evangelical school in Pennsylvania. ‘Trump has split the atom between character and policy,’ Mr. Fea said. ‘He did it because he’s really the first one to listen to their grievances and take them seriously. Does he really care about evangelicals? I don’t know. But he’s built a message to appeal directly to them.’”
    • Unlocked
  5. The Case for Marrying an Older Man (Grazie Sophia Christie, The Cut): “Very soon, we will decide to have children, and I don’t panic over last gasps of fun, because I took so many big breaths of it early: on the holidays of someone who had worked a decade longer than I had, in beautiful places when I was young and beautiful, a symmetry I recommend. If such a thing as maternal energy exists, mine was never depleted. I spent the last nearly seven years supported more than I support and I am still not as old as my husband was when he met me. When I have a child, I will expect more help from him than I would if he were younger, for what does professional tenure earn you if not the right to set more limits on work demands — or, if not, to secure some child care, at the very least?”
    • A well-written and unusual position. Not the only path to consider, but certainly a path to consider.
  6. Breakthrough in prime number theory demonstrates primes can be predicted (Michael Gibb, Phys.org): “Contrary to what just about every mathematician on Earth will tell you, prime numbers can be predicted, according to researchers at City University of Hong Kong (CityUHK) and North Carolina State University, U.S.”
  7. Are Members of the Clergy Miserable? (Ryan Burge, Substack): “I really wanted to key in on a few questions about job/life satisfaction. The survey replicates a question from ‘The Satisfaction with Life Scale.’ The statement is simply: In most ways my life is close to my ideal.… The mean score for this was 5.6 in the clergy sample. Among members of Israel’s Defense Force it was 4.7, among some university students it was found to 5.23. Among nurses it was 3.81. In a sample of people living in Colombia it was only 3.67. The long and short of it was this — I can’t find another population group that scores higher on this metric than clergy.… I’m pretty confident in saying that clergy seemed pretty content with their station in life (or at least this was the case before the pandemic).”
    • Maybe laypeople don’t hear this very often, but I am often in circles where they talk about an epidemic of ministerial dissatisfaction. But I’ve never seen it. I love my job and pretty much all my peers do, too. What we do is amazing. I’m glad to see a scholar vindicating my intuition.

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

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 435

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 435, a triangular number.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The Ground of Our Assurance (D. A. Carson, YouTube): three and a half excellent minutes
  2. No, Not Everyone Needs Therapy (Freya India, Substack): “… there are people who now feel pressured to get professional help for normal negative emotions—teens and pre-teens convinced the reason they’re sad sometimes is because they’re broken and haven’t paid enough to be healed. Now not going to therapy is a red flag. Seeking support from friends and family is exploiting their ’emotional labour’. And men are shamed for preferring to chat to their mates about their problems than pay a stranger, like that one BetterHelp ad where a woman dismisses a guy she’s dating because he ‘doesn’t do therapy’. Think about that! How have we reached the point where we’re stigmatising people for not needing mental health support?”
  3. What If There Is No Such Thing as ‘Biblical’ Productivity? (Brady Bowman, Mere Orthodoxy): “…the ‘productivity mindset’ seems to me, at least in some ways, deeply incongruent with the Bible’s vision of reality. To say it more simply, to adopt an outlook dominated by speed and efficiency and productivity is to adopt a perspective that is alien to the writers of Scripture.…”
  4. New technology interprets archaeological findings from Biblical times (Tel Aviv University, Phys.org): “Applying their method to findings from ancient Gath (Tell es-Safi in central Israel), the researchers validated the Biblical account, ‘About this time Hazael King of Aram went up and attacked Gath and captured it. Then he turned to attack Jerusalem’ (2 Kings 12, 18). They explain that, unlike previous methods, the new technique can determine whether a certain item (such as a mud brick) underwent a firing event even at relatively low temperatures, from 200°C and up.”
  5. US Intelligence Shows Flawed China Missiles Led Xi to Purge Army (Peter Martin and Jennifer Jacobs, Bloomberg): “The corruption inside China’s Rocket Force and throughout the nation’s defense industrial base is so extensive that US officials now believe Xi is less likely to contemplate major military action in the coming years than would otherwise have been the case, according to the people, who asked not to be named discussing intelligence.”
    • This may be the most important bit of geopolitical news you read this year.
  6. The Misguided War on the SAT (David Leonhardt, New York Times): “With the Supreme Court’s restriction of affirmative action last year, emotions around college admissions are running high. The debate over standardized testing has become caught up in deeper questions about inequality in America and what purpose, ultimately, the nation’s universities should serve. But the data suggests that testing critics have drawn the wrong battle lines. If test scores are used as one factor among others — and if colleges give applicants credit for having overcome adversity — the SAT and ACT can help create diverse classes of highly talented students. Restoring the tests might also help address a different frustration that many Americans have with the admissions process at elite universities: that it has become too opaque and unconnected to merit.”
    • Not the main point of the essay, but worth commenting that politics poisons whatever it polarizes.
  7. The Peculiar Story of C. S. Lewis and Janie King Moore (Bethel McGrew, First Things): “Lewis’s letters from this period are marked by an understated deep relief. He wrote to a frequent correspondent that he was only just beginning to appreciate ‘how bad it was’ in hindsight. And yet, though we miss the works he might have written under different circumstances, we might also wonder whether the books we have would have been the same, had duty not compelled him to die to self every day for the sake of one fragile, impossible old woman. In the end, his own words rang as true for himself as they did for everyone else: ‘Whether we like it or not God intends to give us what we need, not what we now think we want.’”

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

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 434

On (most) Fridays I share articles/resources about broad cultural, societal and theological issues. I skipped last week due to the holidays.

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 434, a number which is a palindrome. It is also the sum of consecutive primes: 434 = 61 + 67 + 71 + 73 + 79 + 83

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Our Godless era is dead (Paul Kingsnorth, UnHerd): “I grew up believing in things which I now look on very differently. To put career before family. To accumulate wealth as a marker of status. To treat sex as recreation. To reflexively mock authority and tradition. To put individual desire before community responsibility. To treat the world as so much dead matter to be interrogated by the scientific process. To assume our ancestors were thicker than us. I did all of this, or tried to, for years. Most of us did, I suppose. Perhaps above all, and perhaps at the root of all, there was one teaching that permeated everything. It was to treat religion as something both primitive and obsolete. Simply a bunch of fairy stories invented by the ignorant. Simply a mechanism of social control. Nothing to do with us, here, now, in our very modern, sexually liberated, choose-your-own-adventure world.”
  2. Part of a Christian’s Job is to Point Out that Modern Life Stinks (Samue D. James, Substack): “Part of the evangelical witness right now should be to point out that modern life stinks. Its technology makes us lonely. Its sexuality makes us empty. Its psychotherapy makes us self-obsessed. Many people are on the brink of oblivion, held back in some cases only by medication or political identity. We struggle to articulate why we should continue to live. Evangelicals should jump in here.”
    • The end is straight fire.
  3. Universities Are Not on the Level (Josh Barro, Substack): “I personally have also developed a more negative view of colleges and universities over the last decade, and my reason is simple: I increasingly find these institutions to be dishonest. A lot of the research coming out of them does not aim at truth, whether because it is politicized or for more venal reasons. The social justice messaging they wrap themselves in is often insincere. Their public accountings of the reasons for their internal actions are often implausible. They lie about the role that race plays in their admissions and hiring practices. And sometimes, especially at the graduate level, they confer degrees whose value they know will not justify the time and money that students invest to get them. The most recent debacle at Harvard, in which large swathes of academia seem to have conveniently forgotten what the term ‘plagiarism’ means so they don’t have to admit that Claudine Gay engaged in it, is only the latest example of the lying that is endemic on campus.”
    • Related: Harvard Couldn’t Save Both Claudine Gay and Itself (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “The Ivy League believes in its progressive doctrines, but not as much as it believes in its own indispensability, its permanent role as an incubator of privilege and influence.”
    • Also related: The Claudine Gay Affair (Frederick M. Hess, American Enterprise Institute): “Higher ed doesn’t have many friends on the right. In my experience, elite college leaders aren’t all that bothered by this (some seem perversely proud of it). Well, when publicly-supported, highly visible institutions choose to take sides in political and cultural fights, there are consequences. With the right having lost faith in higher ed and becoming increasingly comfortable pushing back on the college cartel, campus leaders had better strap in for a bumpy ride.”
      • Brief and interesting, especially the personal connection to Claudine Gay.
  4. My Bible Reading Feels Flat — What Can I Do? (John Piper, Desiring God): “Is there something you can do to move from ears attending to words and minds grasping for knowledge to hearts experiencing pleasantness of what is within? Is there anything you can do? [The writer of Proverbs 22 says] yes, and the words he uses go like this: ‘Apply your heart to what your ear has heard and the knowledge that’s forming in your mind.’”
    • Recommended by a student
  5. Did Islamic beliefs trigger the use of rape in Hamas attacks? If ‘yes,’ reporters should say so (Julia Duin, GetReligion): “Well, what happened to these Israeli women was off the charts and it’s about time reporters called it out for what it was. The attackers believed that their violence was sanctioned by religion, just as much as it was driven by revenge. Hindu human-rights activists have no illusions about these realities. I chanced upon a political Hindu site that compares the Hamas brutalities against Jewish women with Muslim invasions of India and the mass rapes of Hindu women as recently as 1971.… [it blames] the whole rape-and-sex-slavery emphasis of invading Islamic hordes on Islam allowing each man four wives and limitless slaves and concubines. The latter really aren’t in vogue in the 21st century but ISIS had a huge sex slave system going among captive Yazidi women in Iraq and Syria roughly from 2014–2017.”
    • This is a disturbing read. Also, this is not an indictment of Islam as a whole, but it is certainly an indictment of some Muslim theologies.

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

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 432

On Fridays I share articles/resources about broad cultural, societal and theological issues. Be sure to see the explanation and disclaimers at the bottom. I welcome your suggestions. If you read something fascinating please pass it my way.

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

Things Glen Found Interesting

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

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

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 430

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. That’s especially true this week: I skipped last week because of Thanksgiving, and I still feel behind on my reading.

This is volume 430, a sphenic number. That means it is the product of three primes, namely 2 · 5 · 43.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Stanford neuroscientist Andrew Huberman recently mentioned that he believes in God. Here’s a 13 minute video of him explaining why (YouTube) or you can just watch this two minute excerpt which contains the essence of his point (Twitter).
    • For the record, I’ve never met Huberman and do not know what his specific religious beliefs are. I just find it interesting that a prominent public intellectual affiliated with Stanford is a believer.
  2. This Is Not the Way to Help Depressed Teenagers (Darbe Saxbe, New York Times): “[Programs designed to help young people instead] made their mental-health problems worse. Understanding why these efforts backfired can shed light on how society can — and can’t — help teenagers who are suffering from depression and anxiety.… Teenagers, who are still developing their identities, are especially prone to take psychological labels to heart. Instead of ‘I am nervous about X,’ a teenager might say, ‘I can’t do X because I have anxiety’ — a reframing that research shows undermines resilience by encouraging people to view everyday challenges as insurmountable.”
    • The author is a psychology prof at USC.
  3. Religion isn’t sexually repressive. Just read the data. (Stephen Cranney, Deseret News): “…contrary to widely held belief, religious people report better sex lives, and married religious couples have more frequent and better sex than others (non-married religious people, intuitively, have less sex). These results were supported by one study that found religious British people reported more satisfying sex lives. A separate BYU study, published by Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, found similar results for married couples in the U.S. while another found that highly religious people had higher sexual ‘passion’ than more moderately religious people (nonreligious people also reflected higher ‘passion’ levels).”
    • This sentence made me chuckle: “It may well be that the most sexually active campuses in the U.S. aren’t the famous party schools, but rather the more religiously conservative schools with more married students.”
    • The author is a sociologist and a demographer with appointments at Baylor’s Institute for the Study of Religion and at the Catholic University of America
  4. Solomon Friedman is on a mission to save Pornhub (Andrew Duffy, Ottowa Citzen): “Solomon Friedman is not someone readily defined: He’s a defence lawyer and an organ donor; a firearms advocate and an ordained rabbi; an investor, philanthropist, and pornography magnate. If the 37-year-old father of three is not the most interesting man in Ottawa, then the licensed pilot and part-time law professor is certainly one of the busiest.”
    • This is actually insane.
  5. Why I No Longer Support the Death Penalty (Matthew T. Martens, Crossway): “8,790 people have been sentenced to death in the United States since 1973. One hundred and eighty-four of those men and women were exonerated as of the end of 2022.11 They were innocent of the crimes of which they were convicted and sentenced to die. In other words, we know that at least 2 percent of people sentenced to death since 1973 were wrongly condemned. Even if we have identified all of those wrongly convicted and the error rate is ‘only’ 2 percent, that is an error rate higher than I am willing to tolerate.… I am unwilling to wager another man’s life. I would not wager my own under those conditions.”
    • The author has recently written a book about a Christian perspective on criminal justice. He is a defender of the death penalty as a concept yet opposed to it as practiced in America today.
  6. TikTok parent company used AI to optimize Linux kernel, boosting performance and efficiency (Matthew Connatser, Tom’s Hardware): “The general gist of the presentation: ByteDance used AI to make the Linux kernel (the core of the operating system) much more efficient and performant across all kinds of hardware.… AI optimizations were able to reduce memory usage by 30% — and that was using existing Linux tools, just more efficiently. Network latency was also improved by up to 12% with AI that has prior knowledge (which wouldn’t be hard to obtain on a computer used regularly).”
  7. On Culture War, Doug Wilson, and the Moscow Mood (Kevin DeYoung, personal blog): “My concerns are not so much with one or two conclusions that Christians may reach if Wilson becomes their intellectual mentor. My bigger concern is with the long-term spiritual effects of admiring and imitating the Moscow mood. For the mood that attracts people to Moscow is too often incompatible with Christian virtue, inconsiderate of other Christians, and ultimately inconsistent with the stated aims of Wilson’s Christendom project.”
    • Broadly correct, although I think DeYoung overstates his case a few times. Wilson does present the gospel more than DeYoung acknowledges and that is one of his appeals. Still, as I said, broadly correct.

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

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 428

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 428 and I, being an easily amused man, am pleased that 4*2=8.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. C.S. Lewis and T.S. Eliot: How Rivals Became Friends (Joel J. Miller, Rabbit Room): “Did Charles Williams know what would happen when he invited his mutuals, C.S. Lewis and T.S. Eliot, to tea? One suspects. Lewis had long registered disapproval of Eliot’s work. But surely they’d get on in person, no? No. It was 1945 and the trio convened at the Mitre Hotel in Oxford. The first words out of Eliot’s mouth? ‘Mr. Lewis,’ he exclaimed, ‘you are a much older man than you appear in photographs!’ The meeting deteriorated from there.”
  2. Abundance: The Deepest Reality (Bethany Lorden, Stanford Review): “It is true, I have never lacked food or shelter or any necessity; yet every day, I see the most privileged people in the world live as though they are impoverished. As students, we hoard our time, fear our midterms, and dread the future. But what if the blessings that landed us at Stanford continue into our future? What if our classes were not a burden, but a gift of learning? What if our lives and our society mirror nature, where alpine sunflowers reemerge every spring on the harshest tundra, where a square foot of dry prairie nourishes three dozen species of plants, where no tree or animal dies without sustaining new life?”
    • Disclaimer: Bethany is a student in Chi Alpha. Also, I especially liked this bit: “R&DE seems to assume that student satisfaction is a zero-sum game: the website states that ‘Direct swaps between students are not permitted, as the housing assignment process is meant to be equitable, and not based on who you know.’ If a roommate switch makes one student better off, then the trade must have exploited another. Yet by dealing with relationships as if they were a limited resource, R&DE has made them so. Instead of creating community (by definition, a network ‘based on who you know’), R&DE has made everyone ‘equitably’ miserable.”
  3. Why I Ran Away from Philosophy Because of Sam Bankman-Fried (Ted Gioia, Substack): “It’s true, of course, that a philosophical system is not disproved if its advocates are criminals and tyrants—but this linkage must be a cause for alarm and suspicion. The burden of proof is on those who want to separate a person’s core principles from the results they produce in actual life.”
    • I sometimes bag on utilitarianism generally (and sometimes specifically the effective altruism movement). This essay may help you see why. Utilitarian/consequentialist ethical systems are just wrong. Not merely wrong in the sense of being incorrect, but also wrong in the sense of being immoral.
  4. Some Israel / Hamas war articles:
    • Behind Hamas’s Bloody Gambit to Create a ‘Permanent’ State of War (Ben Hubbard and Maria Abi-Habib, The New York Times): “Thousands have been killed in Gaza, with entire families wiped out. Israeli airstrikes have reduced Palestinian neighborhoods to expanses of rubble, while doctors treat screaming children in darkened hospitals with no anesthesia. Across the Middle East, fear has spread over the possible outbreak of a broader regional war. But in the bloody arithmetic of Hamas’s leaders, the carnage is not the regrettable outcome of a big miscalculation. Quite the opposite, they say: It is the necessary cost of a great accomplishment — the shattering of the status quo and the opening of a new, more volatile chapter in their fight against Israel.”
      • Unlocked and well worth reading.
    • “No parent is going to do that”: Shafai family from Massachusetts trapped in Gaza told they can leave without their children (Christina Hager, CBS News): “They had the names of my brother and his wife on the list, but they didn’t have the kids,” said Hani Shafai. His brother Hazem and his wife Sanaa were excited to see their names on a list customs authorities put out naming people who could cross into Egypt to safety. The problem was, there was no mention of their three children. “They were told they can cross, but they have to leave the kids behind. And, as you know, no parent is going to do that, and he said no,” said Hani Shafai.
      • Bro. Database errors happen, I get it. But it seems to me this is the kind of situation where instead of turning them away you ask them to step to the side, offer them some water and snacks, and have someone investigate to figure out what happened so they can leave with their kids.
    • Inside a Gaza bedroom, soldiers searching for tunnels find how low Hamas can go (Emanuel Fabian, Times of Israel): “In terms of its size, where it led and what it was intended for, the tunnel was much like the other 90 found in the area. What set it apart, though, was its location. The shaft had been uncovered by soldiers of the Combat Engineering Corps’ 614th Battalion as they carried out a second round of sweeps in a single-family home — with an outdoor swimming pool — in an upscale beachside neighborhood. Inside a bedroom scattered with brightly colored clothes, underneath one of three child-sized beds, soldiers had found a portal to where monsters were hiding.”
    • The “Genocide” Canard Against Israel (Andrew Sullivan, Substack): “…if Israel were interested in the “genocide” of Palestinian Arabs, it has had the means to accomplish it for a very long time. And yet, for some reason, the Arab population of Israel and the occupied territories has exploded since 1948, and the Arabs in Israel proper have voting rights, and a key presence in the Knesset.… And real genocide is happening elsewhere in the world right now as well, but it receives a fraction of the attention. In Darfur, between 2003 and 2005, around 200,000 members of the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups were murdered in a clear case of genocide that has recently revived. This year, some 180,000 civilians have fled to Chad, pursued by the Janjaweed — the Einsatzgruppen of central Africa. If your view is derived from critical race theory, you should be particularly concerned about this genocide, since it is directed at black Africans by Islamist Arabs. But the campus left is uninterested.”
    • ‘I Feel a Human Deterioration’ (Lulu Garcia-Navarro, New York Times): “And when I see people watching the horrible tragedy that is happening here as if it were a Super Bowl of victimhood, in which you support one team and really don’t care about the other, empathy becomes very, very selective. You see only some pain. You don’t want to see other pain.”
  5. Died: Frank Borman, Apollo 8 Astronaut Who Broadcast Genesis from Space (Daniel Silliman, Christianity Today): “On December 24, as a camera showed the lunar surface passing below a window, the three astronauts read the Scripture from a piece of paper. Borman went last, closing with verses 9 and 10: ‘And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.’ Then he said, ‘From the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas and God bless all of you—all of you on the good Earth.’ ”
  6. Critical Grace Theory (Carl Trueman, First Things): “Isaiah, Paul, and Augustine are far better sources of social criticism than Horkheimer, Marcuse, or Crenshaw. Yes, the world is imperfect and unjust and filled with strife. Sadly, such are the wages of sin. Acknowledging the fall of man does not entail a passive acceptance of injustice or evil. The doctrine of original sin does not entail the conclusion that nothing can ever be improved and that efforts of social reform are pointless. But a recognition that sin underlies unjust social systems means that our critical theorizing must be shaped by our belief in God’s grace and the healing power of forgiveness, both for ourselves and for others. No critical theory that fails to place these theological truths at the center of its analysis and proposals is compatible with Christianity.”
  7. How Early Morning Classes Change Academic Trajectories: Evidence from a Natural Experiment (Anthony LokTing Yim, SSRN): “Using a natural experiment which randomized class times to students, this study reveals that enrolling in early morning classes lowers students’ course grades and the likelihood of future STEM course enrollment. There is a 79% reduction in pursuing the corresponding major and a 26% rise in choosing a lower-earning major, predominantly influenced by early morning STEM classes. To understand the mechanism, I conducted a survey of undergraduate students enrolled in an introductory course, some of whom were assigned to a 7:30 AM section.”
    • Disclosure: I only skimmed the article. I find it plausible enough to pass on and am not skeptical enough of its claims to feel motivated to read it thoroughly. The author is an economist at Brigham Young University, and the study is about students at Purdue University.
    • Bottom line: avoid early morning classes.

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

  • God vs Nothing (Pete Holmes, YouTube): one minute, language is a bit crude but this is brilliant at points
  • Hardball Questions For The Next Debate (Scott Alexander, Astral Codex Ten): “Hello, and welcome to the third Republican primary debate. To shore up declining voter interest, we’ve decided to make things more interesting tonight. In this first round, each candidate will have to avoid using a specific letter of the alphabet in their answer. If they slip up, they forfeit their remaining time, and the next candidate in line gets the floor. Our candidates who have qualified today are Chris Christie, Nikki Haley, Ron DeSantis, and Donald Trump.”
    • This gets increasingly absurd and amusing and I actually laughed out loud at the end.
  • “Octobunk” stacks up fun at Stanford (Anna Yang, Stanford Daily): “In the early hours of Oct. 20, a group of around 20 freshmen assembled on the Oval, ready to begin the construction of the ‘Octobunk.’ Their plan was to stack eight dorm beds on top of each other in the Oval, making a tower that created a large bunk bed. Nearly 100 students showed up to observe the event at around 2 a.m. — a combination of people who had heard of the tremendous feat by word-of-mouth, or people who had simply been walking past.”
    • This is glorious and the students who organized it should automatically be elected to ASSU and only displaced by people who spark equal or greater joy.

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 422

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 422, a number which feels like it should have a lot of prime factors but which only has two: 422 = 2·211.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Why religious belief provides a real buffer against suicide risk (David H Rosmarin, Psyche): “The scientific world in general, and the disciplines of behavioural health in particular, tend to be biased against matters of spirituality and religion. The existing literature is enough to show that these factors have large protective effects against suicide. If another variable had even half the value for any major public health concern, I suspect it would receive substantially more attention.”
    • The author is a professor at Harvard Medical School.
  2. Being There (David French, New York Times): “I’ve never met a person who wants to lose friends. But I’ve met many, many people who suffer from loneliness and say that they just ‘lost touch.’ What happened? I ask. ‘Life happened,’ they say. At each new stage of life it was easier to say no to a friend than to say no to work, to a spouse, to one’s kids. And while each individual no can be understandable and even justifiable, the accumulation of noes suffocates friendships, even without an argument, a breach or a betrayal.”
  3. Unable to Find Ultimate Truth in Zen Buddhism, I Turned to Jesus (Sita Slavov, Christianity Today): “In Zen, I often felt alone in the trenches with my darkest thoughts and feelings. And even the most beautiful moments I experienced during meditation—those moments of delight in God’s creation—were useless without a compelling framework to process and integrate them into my life. In contrast, when I meditate on God’s Word and presence, the Holy Spirit sustains me in the trenches, and Scripture provides the framework to understand my experience.”
    • Unlocked.
  4. Winners don’t do irony (Janan Ganesh, Financial Times): “People who deal in higher stakes have to insulate themselves from the archness and cynicism of the wider culture. Irony gets nothing done. It is the creed of the passive observer. Not everyone who is incapable of irony is a winner, no. But lots of winners are incapable of irony.”
  5. New atheism has collapsed. The tide is turning on belief in God (Justin Brierly, Premiere Christianity): “Science and reason alone won’t buy you meaning, purpose and value. Apart from its internal squabbles, the real reason that New Atheism stalled as a cultural movement was that it failed to give people a story to live their life by, so people went looking for a story elsewhere.”
  6. A green card processing change means US could lose thousands of faith leaders from abroad (Giovanna Dell’Orto, AP News): “A sudden procedural change in how the federal government processes green cards for foreign-born religious workers, together with historic highs in numbers of illegal border crossers, means that thousands of clergy like him are losing the ability to remain in this country.”
    • This observation was interesting to me: “Those from religious orders with vows of poverty, like Catholic nuns and Buddhist monks, are especially hard hit, because most other employment visa categories require employers to show they’re paying foreign workers prevailing wages. Since they’re getting no wages, they don’t qualify.”
    • Sentences like that are precisely why religious exemptions are needed for some laws — the law on its face seems reasonable and is designed to protect workers, but it has the effect of harming religious workers of multiple faiths because the totally fine way they do things doesn’t map onto the way most of society works.
  7. Drones Everywhere: How the Technological Revolution on Ukraine Battlefields Is Reshaping Modern Warfare (Yaroslav Trofimov, Wall Street Journal): “ ‘It’s a question of cost,’ said Phillips O’Brien, a professor of strategic studies at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. ‘If you can destroy an expensive, heavy system for something that costs much much less, then actually the power differential between the two countries doesn’t matter as much.’… When it comes to tanks, in particular, the lesson of the Ukrainian war is that tank-on-tank battles have become a rarity—which means that the relative sophistication of a tank is no longer as important. Fewer than 5% of tanks destroyed since the war began had been hit by other tanks, according to Ukrainian officials, with the rest succumbing to mines, artillery, antitank missiles and drones.”

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

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 420

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 420, a number with cultural significance and also two interesting mathematical properties. 420 = 101 + 103 + 107 + 109 = 20 x 21. In other words, it is both the sum of consecutive primes and also the product of two consecutive numbers.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. We Are Repaganizing (Louise Perry, First Things): “The supremely strange thing about Christianity in anthropological terms is that it takes a topsy-turvy attitude toward weakness and strength. To put it crudely, most cultures look at the powerful and the wealthy and assume that they must be doing something right to have attained such might. The poor are poor because of some failing of their own, whether in this life or the last. The smallness and feebleness of women and children is a sign that they must be commanded by men. The suffering of slaves is not an argument against slavery, but an argument against allowing oneself to be enslaved. Most cultures—perfectly logically—glorify warriors and kings, not those at the bottom of the heap. But Christianity takes a perverse attitude toward status and puts that perversity at the heart of the theology. ‘God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong’ is a baffling and alarming claim to anyone from a society untouched by the strangeness of the Jesus movement.”
    • This is a remarkable essay about Christianity by a non-Christian. 10/10 recommend.
  2. Ross Douthat’s Theories of Persuasion (Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker): “This is not conspiracy-adjacent, but I think that nice secular people like you and Sam are sort of blind to some obvious supernatural realities about the world. I think lots of people have good reasons to end up in that kind of territory. And the question I don’t know the answer to is: Why is it so natural once you’re in that territory to go all the way to where R.F.K. is?” He continued, “I spend a lot of my own intellectual energy trying not to let my sort of eccentric views blind me to the fact that the establishment still gets a lot of boring, obvious things right.”
    • I found this interview/profile of Douthat charming.
  3. Singleness Is Not a Sin (Lyman Stone, Christianity Today): “Marriage is instituted for mutual service by spouses and joint service to the next generation. Celibacy is instituted for service to the church (not as a requirement for church service but as a possible aid to it). Widows likewise are commanded to be hospitable and helpful to younger people. Unless singleness is clearly defined as a state that has some purpose oriented toward the good of the neighbor (not just incidentally beneficial but purposively so), it is difficult to understand what possible endorsement the status can be given. It is not sinful, but it is not good.”
  4. Let’s Have a Talk About Education and Religious Attendance (Ryan Burge, Substack): “I just don’t know how you look at all this data that I’ve brought to bear and conclude that there’s not a positive relationship between education and religious attendance. You most certainly cannot conclude that it’s a negative relationship. That finds basically no support in this data at all. There’s some evidence that the relationship may not be statistically significant, but for me, the regression clears that up. People who are more educated are more likely to be attending a religious service in the local house of worship this weekend than those with a high school diploma or less. That’s what the preponderance of evidence tells me.”
    • A deeper dive than you often find on this topic. Emphasis in original.
  5. ‘O Slay the Wicked’: How Christians Sing Curses (Greg Morse, Desiring God): “Do we ever say anything uncomfortable in the presence of evil — or worse, do we even care? The psalmists did. We accuse them of cruelty; they accuse us of a twisted sentimentality. We accuse them of not considering man; they accuse us of not considering God.”
    • Recommended by a student.
  6. Before You Share Your Faith! How to Be ‘Evangelism Ready’ (Matt Smethurst, The Gospel Coalition): a 16 minute podcast recommended by a student. I liked the content, the delivery was less gripping than I expected. Worthwhile.
  7. Book Review: Elon Musk (Scott Alexander, Astral Codex Ten): “I think Elon Musk is 1‑in‑1,000 level intelligent — which is great, but means there are still 300,000 people in America smarter than he is. I think he wins by being 1‑in-10,000,000 intense.”
    • This review is full of fascinating stories. 10/10 recommend if you have any interest whatsoever in Elon Musk.

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

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 410

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 410, which happens to be the HTTP status code for a resource being permanently gone.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. How elite schools like Stanford became fixated on the AI apocalypse (Nitasha Tiku, Washington Post): “Students who join the AI safety community sometimes get more than free boba. Just as EA conferences once meant traveling the world and having one-on-one meetings with wealthy, influential donors, Open Philanthropy’s new university fellowship offers a hefty direct deposit: undergraduate leaders receive as much as $80,000 a year, plus $14,500 for health insurance, and up to $100,000 a year to cover group expenses.”
    • Bro — what? Stanford won’t even let us pay for a guest speaker with outside funds. It’s not clear that the undergrad students leaders at Stanford are making $80k a year, but it’s not clear that they’re not, either. Some student somewhere is, and that’s wild.
  2. Where’s Waldo? How to Mathematically Prove You Found Him Without Revealing Where He Is (Jack Murtagh, Scientific American):  “Amazingly, every claim that I can prove to you with a traditional mathematical proof can also be proved in zero knowledge. Take your favorite result in math, and you could in principle prove it to a friend while showing them bupkes about how it works. This is a profound discovery about the nature of proof itself. Certainty does not require understanding.”
    • Zero-knowledge proofs are wild. That last sentence “certainty does not require understanding” helped me realize that there are interesting parallels to how people come to faith.
      • It is usually an interactive process. God begins to draw someone repeatedly.
      • It is a probabilistic process. Things keep happening to the soon-to-be convert that don’t make sense. I mean, sure they could have happened by chance because anything can happen by chance. But they keep happening in a way that is exceedingly improbable.
      • The new convert’s confidence in God far exceeds their understanding of God.
    • God — the original zero-knowledge prover. To wax Aristotelian, He is the unproved prover.
  3. Pastor Douša’s case shows the U.S. is not immune to authoritarian crackdowns on dissent (Scott Welder, Protect Democracy): “…DHS retaliated against Pastor Douša for ministering to migrants and refugees in Mexico in December 2018 by restricting her Trusted Traveler privileges; subjecting her to extra screening at the southern border; and telling Mexican authorities, falsely, that there was ‘a great possibility’ that she did not have ‘adequate documentation to be in Mexico’ and suggesting that the Mexican government ‘deny [her] entry to Mexico’ and ‘send [her] back to the United States.’ A CBP official later admitted that the request to Mexican authorities was ‘creative writing,’ ‘without any basis.’ But DHS’s actions made it more difficult for Pastor Douša to continue her ministry, eventually causing her to limit her activities in the United States and to end her ministry in Mexico altogether.”
  4. On some of the recent Supreme Court decisions:
    • Why the Champions of Affirmative Action Had to Leave Asian Americans Behind (Jay Caspian Kang, The New Yorker): “Asian Americans, the group whom the suit was supposedly about, have been oddly absent from the conversations that have followed the ruling. The repetitiveness of the affirmative-action debate has come about, in large part, because both the courts and the media have mostly ignored the Asian American plaintiffs and chosen, instead, to relitigate the same arguments about merit, white supremacy, and privilege. During the five years I spent covering this case, the commentators defending affirmative action almost never disproved the central claim that discrimination was taking place against Asian Americans, even as they dismissed the plaintiffs as pawns who had been duped by a conservative legal activist. They almost always redirected the conversation to something else—often legacy admissions.”
    • On Race and Academia (John McWhorter, New York Times): “As an academic who is also Black, I have seen up close, over decades, what it means to take race into account. I talked about some of these experiences in interviews and in a book I wrote in 2000, but I’ve never shared them in an article like this one. The responses I’ve seen to the Supreme Court’s decision move me to venture it. The culture that a policy helps put into place can be as important as the policy itself. And in my lifetime, racial preferences in academia — not merely when it comes to undergraduate admissions but also moving on to grad school and job applications and teaching careers — have been not only a set of formal and informal policies but also the grounds for a culture of perceptions and assumptions.”
      • This is a very raw and vulnerable piece. Recommended. His Ph.D. is from Stanford.
    • Covering the 303 Creative decision: Why do reporters keep ignoring the fine print? (Julia Duin, GetReligion): “I wish reporters would be honest in admitting that much of the anger expressed over the verdict stems from how Lorie Smith outwitted her opponents by filing suit first, rather than enduring  a string of lawsuits like what Jack Phillips is having to endure. I’m looking for that investigative piece on the Colorado Civil Rights Commission that, after having been reproved twice now by the Supreme Court, hasn’t changed its ways at all. Where is that New Yorker take-out on Autumn Scardina, the transgender attorney whose personal vendetta against Phillips just never ends because the courts have given her a free pass? I’m waiting.”
    • My Win at the Supreme Court Is a Win for All Americans (Lorie Smith, Real Clear Religion): “I can’t say everything everyone wants me to. I can’t pretend to agree with every idea presented to me. None of us can. None of us should have to. Each of us should be free to pursue truth, hold to our faith, respectfully speak our beliefs, and thoughtfully live them out day by day, without the government telling us what to believe or say. If that’s the freedom you want – for yourself, for your family and friends, for all of those who share your ideas and convictions – then my victory is a victory for you. Whatever you may think of me and my beliefs, we’re all freer today than we were yesterday. I hope you find that cause for celebration.”
      • The author is the victorious plaintiff in the gay wedding website case.
    • The state’s authority does not extend to the human mind (Kristen Waggoner, World): “The decision means that government officials cannot misuse the law to compel speech or exclude from the marketplace people whose beliefs it dislikes.That’s a win for all Americans—whether one shares Lorie’s beliefs or holds different beliefs. Each of us has the right to decide for ourselves what messages we will communicate—in our words, in our art, in our voice—without interference from the government. The state’s authority does not extend to the human mind.”
      • The author is the lawyer who argued this case before the Supreme Court. She is an Assemblies of God layperson, btw.
  5. Christians: More Like Jesus or Pharisees? (Barna Research Group): “In this nationwide study of self-identified Christians, the goal was to determine whether Christians have the actions and attitude of Jesus as they interact with others or if they are more akin to the beliefs and behaviors of Pharisees, the self-righteous sect of religious leaders described in the New Testament.… The findings reveal that most self-identified Christians in the U.S. are characterized by having the attitudes and actions researchers identified as Pharisaical. Just over half of the nation’s Christians—using the broadest definition of those who call themselves Christians—qualify for this category (51%). They tend to have attitudes and actions that are characterized by self-righteousness.”
    • This research is a decade old, but quite interesting. Recommended by a student.
    • I do have some reservations about the methodology. Some of the questions are just wrong. For example, categorizing “I listen to others to learn their story before telling them about my faith” being Christlike rather than Pharisaical isn’t really a Biblical stance, it’s just a personal opinion. It may be a shrewd strategy and overall commendable, but I don’t see Jesus listening to a lot of stories in the Bible. It’s a poorly chosen question for this scale. Quibbles like that aside, I think the overall vibe probably solid.
  6. Living on a prayer? How attending worship can improve your physical and mental health. (Phil McGraw and John White, USA Today): “Despite the proven health benefits, religiosity is on the decline in America. The fastest-growing religious segment of the U.S. population is now ‘nones’ − those who profess no religion. We’re not here to evangelize, but as a doctor and a mental health professional, it’s important to note that a decline of religion and spirituality seems to be associated with potentially negative health effects.”
    • I love that the authors are Dr. Phil and the chief medical officer at WebMD. To the average American they’ve probably got more credibility than any medical association or even the NIH, FDA, and CDC.
  7. How to Do Great Work (Paul Graham, personal blog): “Four steps: choose a field, learn enough to get to the frontier, notice gaps, explore promising ones. This is how practically everyone who’s done great work has done it, from painters to physicists.… What should you do if you’re young and ambitious but don’t know what to work on? What you should not do is drift along passively, assuming the problem will solve itself. You need to take action. But there is no systematic procedure you can follow. When you read biographies of people who’ve done great work, it’s remarkable how much luck is involved. They discover what to work on as a result of a chance meeting, or by reading a book they happen to pick up. So you need to make yourself a big target for luck, and the way to do that is to be curious. Try lots of things, meet lots of people, read lots of books, ask lots of questions.”
    • This is super-long but worthwhile. He rambles and is mistaken at points, but his core insights are solid and important.

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 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. From volume 286.

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.