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.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 407

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 407, which is the sum of the cubes of its digits: 43 + 03 + 73

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Is Religion Good for Your Health? (David DeSteno, Wall Street Journal): “Ongoing surveys like these, as well as more targeted studies, show a strong link between religion and better physical and mental health. Of course, this doesn’t mean that religion should be prescribed as a medicine, either in addition to or in place of other established treatments. The choice to be spiritually active is a personal one, and religion is only one of many factors that affect health. Nonetheless, it’s time for health sciences to take religion seriously and consider what it offers the body and mind.”
    • The author is a psych prof at Northeastern. In this essay he alludes to Tyler VanderWeele’s research which I have spotlighted on many occasions.
  2. Richard Dawkins’ Ex-Right-Hand Man Comes to Christ! (Living Waters, YouTube): fifty-five minutes long (nearly an hour!). Recommended by a student. The testimony itself kicks in at 37 minutes in.
  3. Trump’s Justices Didn’t Doom Affirmative Action. Demography Did. (Christopher Caldwell, New York Times): “The arrival of large numbers of immigrants over the past half-century has upset the logic of affirmative action in several ways. For one thing, white Americans no longer dominate the educational system. (They make up only 22 percent of the Stanford class of 2026, for instance.) Early on, affirmative action was also extended to Latinos, whose numbers continue to grow. In addition, African and Caribbean immigrants and their children now account for more than 40 percent of the Black enrollment in the Ivy League, which risks crowding out the people that affirmative action was originally intended to help.” 
    • Paywall is unlocked.
  4. Should Women Preach? Huge Majorities of Evangelical Think They Should (Ryan Burge, Substack): “I don’t know how many ways I can show this: the support for women preaching on Sunday morning from behind the pulpit is strong among evangelicals. Even among those who say that the Bible is literally true and attend church every week, 74% are in favor of women preaching.
    • Emphasis in original.
  5. Universities Shouldn’t Be Ideological Churches (Robert P. George, The Atlantic): “If academic units are permitted to make statements on political issues, then the following will be the case: When considering a job or tenure candidate, voting faculty members will anticipate that he or she, if appointed, will vote on future political statements. So they will perfectly reasonably want to know, and will take into account, the candidate’s ideological leanings and political views and affiliations in deciding whether to support or oppose the appointment.… After all, voting on political statements—if departments were to be authorized to do so and chose to act on that authorization—would be one of the things a faculty member is, as a practical matter, hired to do.”
    • Robbie George is a gem.
    • I would post more content from The Atlantic but I don’t have a subscription and their paywall is pretty limiting.
  6. How Assisted Suicide Destroys the Loved Ones Left Behind (Jonathon Van Maren, First Things): “The simple, central argument of the suicide activists is that the right to bodily autonomy includes the right to suicide, and that legalization is necessary in order to reduce suffering in society. The reality we see unfolding tells a very different story. Far from reducing suffering, assisted suicide has become the catalyst for spreading it. In many if not most cases, a death by lethal injection transfers temporal suffering to heartbroken loved ones who struggle to process what has taken place.”
  7. The illusion of moral decline (Adam Mastroianni, Substack): “…two well-known psychological phenomena can combine to produce an illusion of moral decline.… Biased exposure means that things always look outrageous: murder and arson and fraud, oh my! Biased memory means the outrages of yesterday don’t seem so outrageous today. When things always look bad today but brighter yesterday, congratulations pal, you got yourself an illusion of moral decline. We call this mechanism BEAM (Biased Exposure and Memory), and it fits with some of our more surprising results.”

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 Christian Citizens Owe Government Leaders (George P. Wood, Influence Magazine): “In this new year, with a new presidential administration, let us renew our commitment to praying for our government officials, to sharing the gospel with them, to obeying the law and respecting the lawgivers, and to holding them accountable while giving them our good example! These are the basic duties of Christian citizenship.” This is an excellent summary. Disclaimer: the author is an acquaintance of mine. From volume 285.

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 393

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 393, which I find interesting because it only has two factors: 131 and 3.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Some AI thoughts
    • The Waluigi Effect (mega-post) (Cleo Nardo, Less Wrong): “Here’s an example — in 101 Dalmations, we meet a pair of protagonists (Roger and Anita) who love dogs, show compassion, seek simple pleasures, and want a family. Can you guess who will turn up in Act One? Yep, at 13:00 we meet Cruella De Vil — she hates dogs, shows cruelty, seeks money and fur, is a childless spinster, etc. Cruella is the complete inversion of Roger and Anita. She is the waluigi of Roger and Anita. Recall that you expected to meet a character with these traits moreso after meeting the protagonists. Cruella De Vil is not a character you would expect to find outside of the context of a Disney dog story, but once you meet the protagonists you will have that context and then the Cruella becomes a natural and predictable continuation. [And since LLMs are all about continuation, simulated Cruellas emerge predictably.]”
      • This was easily the most interesting thing I read this week. A very clever argument.
    • Why am I not terrified of AI? (Scott Aaronson, personal blog): “In the Orthodox AI-doomers’ own account, the paperclip-maximizing AI would’ve mastered the nuances of human moral philosophy far more completely than any human—the better to deceive the humans, en route to extracting the iron from their bodies to make more paperclips. And yet the AI would never once use all that learning to question its paperclip directive. I acknowledge that this is possible. I deny that it’s trivial.”
      • The author is a CS prof from UT who works at OpenAI
  2. Why the Mental Health of Liberal Girls Sank First and Fastest (Jonathan Haidt, Substack): “We are now 11 years into the largest epidemic of adolescent mental illness ever recorded. I know so many families that have been thrown into fear and turmoil by a child’s suicide attempt. You probably do too, given that the recent CDC report tells us that one in ten adolescents now say they have made an attempt to kill themselves. It is hitting all political and demographic groups. The evidence is abundant that social media is a major cause of the epidemic, and perhaps the major cause. It’s time we started treating social media and other apps designed for ‘engagement’ (i.e., addiction) like alcohol, tobacco, and gambling, or, because they can harm society as well as their users, perhaps like automobiles and firearms.”
    • A well-written and distressing summary of the current state of adolescent and young adult mental health. The author is a social psychologist at NYU.
    • Related: Review of 1,039 studies indicates exercise can be more effective than counselling or medication for depression (Ben Singh, Carol Maher, & Jacinta Brinsley, PsyPost): “When comparing the size of the benefits of exercise to other common treatments for mental health conditions from previous systematic reviews, our findings suggest exercise is around 1.5 times more effective than either medication or cognitive behaviour therapy.”
      • I expect this will be contested in future studies. Fascinating, though. The authors are all at the University of South Australia. The lead author seems to be the Australian equivalent of a MD/PhD.
    • Related: Lynching the Deplorables (Chris Hedges, Substack): “The Jan. 6 protestors were not the first to occupy Congressional offices, including Nancy Pelosi’s office. Young environmental activists from the Sunrise Movement, anti-war activists from Code Pink and even congressional staffers have engaged in numerous occupations of congressional offices and interrupted congressional hearings. What will happen to groups such as Code Pink if they occupy congressional offices with Republicans in control of the White House, the Congress and the courts? Will they be held for years in pretrial detention? Will they be given lengthy prison terms based on dubious interpretations of the law? Will they be considered domestic terrorists? Will protests and civil disobedience become impossible?”
      • This is a sane and sobering essay.
  3. Testing Common Theories on the Relationship Between Premarital Sex and Marital Stability (Jesse Smith and Nicholas H. Wolfinger): “The table below shows the wide range of variables we used to try to explain the relationship between premarital sex partners and divorce. Do any of them matter? The answer is a clear no. Without controls, people with premarital partners are 161% more likely to dissolve their marriages compared to people who tie the knot as virgins. In other words, premarital sex increases the chances of divorce between twofold and threefold. After including the laundry list of covariates shown in the table, the odds of divorce remain 151% higher—in other words, a statistical artifact away from being identical.”
    • This falls into the category of “research which is obviously true but which many people wish to disbelieve”
  4. Some COVID thoughts:
    • Covid backlash hobbles public health and future pandemic response (Lauren Weber and Joel Achenbach, Washington Post): “When the next pandemic sweeps the United States, health officials in Ohio won’t be able to shutter businesses or schools, even if they become epicenters of outbreaks. Nor will they be empowered to force Ohioans who have been exposed to go into quarantine. State officials in North Dakota are barred from directing people to wear masks to slow the spread. Not even the president can force federal agencies toissuevaccination or testing mandates to thwart its march.”
      • America usually comes through in the end. The article is super-angsty about all this, but I view it as an inevitable response to administrative overreach and also a fundamentally good thing. Distributed power is safer power.
    • Related: When a Renegade Church and a Zealous County Health Department Collide (David Zweig, Substack): “…extensive legal documents, totaling more than a thousand pages, reveal a county, and its health department, that went to extraordinary, and potentially unlawful, lengths to enforce its decrees. These efforts include levying more than $2 million in fines against Calvary, and a multi-faceted surveillance program of the church and its members, breathtaking in scope and reminiscent of totalitarian regimes, rather than an American county health department — the spy operation included stakeouts, forced in-person monitoring of prayer groups and other intimate activities, and tracking the cellular mobility data of churchgoers.”
      • The details in here are pretty wild. The comments are interesting — one of the pastors of a neighboring church disputes part of the account, but the author is like, “I’ve read sworn affidavits testifying to the contrary.”
      • So much going on — my main takeaway is that it really was worse in Santa Clara County than almost anywhere else in America. The technocrats felt empowered to an absurd degree.
    • Having said that: Here’s Why the Science Is Clear That Masks Work (Zeynep Tufekci, New York Times): “Brown, who led the Cochrane review’s approval process, told me that mask mandates may not be tenable now, but he has a starkly different feeling about their effects in the first year of a pandemic. ‘Mask mandates, social distancing, the other shutdowns we had in terms of even restaurants and things like that — if places like New York City didn’t do that, the number of deaths would have been much higher,” he told me. “I’m very confident of that statement.’ So the evidence is relatively straightforward: Consistently wearing a mask, preferably a high-quality, well-fitting one, provides protection against the coronavirus.”
  5. Earnings Are Greater and Increasing in Occupations That Require Intellectual Tenacity (Christos Makridis, Louis Hickman & Benjamin Manning, SSRN): “…we identify two broad occupational personality requirements, which we label intellectual tenacity and social adjustment. Intellectual tenacity encompasses achievement/effort, persistence, initiative, analytical thinking, innovation, and independence. Social adjustment encompasses emotion regulation, concern for others, social orientation, cooperation, and stress tolerance. Both occupational personality requirements relate similarly to occupational employment growth between 2007 and 2019. However, among over 10 million respondents to the American Community Survey, jobs requiring intellectual tenacity pay higher wages…”
    • Christos is one of our alumni.
  6. Sam Bankman-Fried is under house arrest at Stanford. Students are obsessed. (Lisa Bonos, Washington Post): “The university seems keen to play down his presence. Officially, the university doesn’t talk about Bankman-Fried. Stanford Law School didn’t respond to requests for comment. When asked whether they could confirm a rumor that a nearby student co-op had attacked the Bankman-Fried home with eggs, Stanford campus police did not respond.”
    • I have unlocked the paywall for this article.
  7. Dropping the SAT Requirement Is a Luxury Belief (Rob K. Henderson, Substack): “Columbia University, has just become the first Ivy League school to permanently abandon the SAT/ACT requirement for college admission. Elite colleges are eliminating standardized tests before they eliminate legacy admissions. Tells you all you need to know.…  Standardized testing should be freely available and compulsory for all high school students.”
    • This is 100% true.

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 Stop Being Shocked (Bari Weiss, Tablet): “The hatred we experience on campus has nothing to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It’s because Jews defy anti-racist ideology simply by existing. So it’s not so much that Zionism is racism. It’s that Jewishness is.“ From volume 272.

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 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.