Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 213

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

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Several articles related to the mass shootings:
  2. Conservative Christians have a porn problem, studies show, but not the one you think (Jana Riess, Religion News Service): “Drawing on numerous studies, Perry finds that, despite the statistical finding that conservative Christians are less likely to use porn, the perception within evangelical churches is that this has become an enormous problem for the faithful.”
  3. What Ails the Right Isn’t (Just) Racism (Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic): “Put another way, the right is correct that crying wolf matters. And the left is correct that The Boy Who Cried Wolf ends with a wolf feasting on folks who concluded that they shouldn’t worry about wolves because one kid fibbed.” I found this far more interesting than the title led me to anticipate.
  4. Against Against Billionaire Philanthropy (Scott Alexander, Slate Star Codex): “I worry the movement against billionaire charity is on track to damage charity a whole lot more than it damages billionaires.” This is a very interesting essay, and he has a follow‐up, Highlights From The Comments on Billionaire Philanthropy, which thoughtfully responds to criticisms. Highly recommended.
  5. How (and Why) to KISSASS (Kevin Mims, Quillette): “…if you’re not a member of the professional class, the key to getting your personal essays published in prominent publications is KISSASS—Keep It Short, Sad, And Simple, Stupid.” This is a follow‐up to an article I shared previously and I found it fascinating.
  6. Carol Swain Worked to Hold Politicians Accountable. Then She Felt God Call Her to Run. (David Roach, Christianity Today): “For Swain, change has been a recurring theme in her life. She went from low‐income single mother to Ivy League academic, from Democrat to Republican media commentator, and from Jehovah’s Witness turned non‐churchgoer to committed follower of Christ.” What a fascinating lady.
  7. Why I’m Not A Liberal (Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review): “Because liberalism is based on individual rights, it naturally favors the individual asserting his rights against traditional social subjects, whether they be the community, the family, or even his own marriage. If a classically liberal system has no effect on the values of society, it is an astonishing coincidence that wherever liberal political arrangements emerge, a new liberal understanding of marriage eventually replaces the previous Christian understandings as the legal and social reality.” This essay covers a lot of ground.

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 Dissolving the Fermi Paradox (Scott Alexander, Slate Star Codex): “Imagine we knew God flipped a coin. If it came up heads, He made 10 billion alien civilization. If it came up tails, He made none besides Earth. Using our one parameter Drake Equation, we determine that on average there should be 5 billion alien civilizations. Since we see zero, that’s quite the paradox, isn’t it? No. In this case the mean is meaningless. It’s not at all surprising that we see zero alien civilizations, it just means the coin must have landed tails. SDO say that relying on the Drake Equation is the same kind of error.”  First shared in volume 159.

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 19

In the time of King David, the tribe of Issachar produced shrewd warriors “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chron 12:32). In a similar way, we need to become wise people whose faith interacts with the world.

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

Without further ado, I give you the interesting things:

  1. There was a shooting at a college in Oregon yesterday. There’s a religious angle to this story, but the details are still not clear.
  2. For completely different news, read Googling For God (NY Times, Seth Stephens‐Davidowitz): file under “interesting but not that surprising” (although I am surprised at the relative positions of questions 1 and 2  — I assumed they were swapped)
  3. Pope Francis and the Not‐Quite‐Secular West (NY Times, Ross Douthat): Secularism’s grip on America is weaker than it appears.
  4. Stop The Robot Apocalypse (Amia Srinivasan, London Review of Books): the title is misleading — this is an insightful critique of the effective altruism movement from the left.
  5. Huh. The Correlations Between Arts and Crafts and a Nobel Prize (Rosie Cima, Priceonomics).

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.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 13

In the time of King David, the tribe of Issachar produced shrewd warriors “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chron 12:32). In a similar way, we need to become wise people whose faith interacts with the world.

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

  1. From the provocative‐but‐not‐fully‐explained department: Marissa Johnson, Part of a New, Disruptive Generation of Activists (Nina Shapiro, Seattle Times): turns out that Marissa Johnson (the Black Lives Matter activist famous for disrupting a Bernie Sanders speech) attends an evangelical church and studied theology in college. Fascinating profile, although it leaves me with many questions.
  2. From the friends‐in‐high‐places department: The Late, Great Stephen Colbert (Joel Lovell, GQ): Colbert has deep faith, and it really comes out in this interview. It’s long, so if you just want the faith bit search for the phrase “He lifted his arms as if to take in the office” and start reading there.
  3. From the spiritual insight department:
    • Faithfulness in College Is “Life‐Wide” (Stephen Lutz, Gospel Coalition): what good does it profit a person to get a 4.0 and lose their soul? This one comes recommended by an alumnus.
    • Keep Your Enthusiasm In Check (George Wood, personal blog): very short but helpful. The author is the leader of the Assemblies of God, the group which sponsors Chi Alpha (and which I am ordained by).
  4. From the people‐of‐this‐world‐are‐shrewd department: Effective Altruism: Where Charity and Rationality Meet (Tyler Cowen, NY Times): there is nothing overtly Christian about this piece, but the subject should be of great interest to Christians. We are called to give to spread the gospel and help the poor — and the Church can do better at both.
  5. From the politics‐and‐the‐pulpit department: Ten Things To Remember As the Presidential Campaign Season Gets Into Full Swing (Kevin DeYoung, personal blog): DeYoung is a well‐known pastor and author. Points 6, 7, and 8 are especially good.
  6. From the unexpected bedfellows department: Scalia Gets It Pretty Much Right (Stanley Fish, Huffington Post): I share this mostly because famed postmodern (or anti‐foundationalist) theorist Stanley Fish is one of the most unlikely defenders of the famed originalist Justice Scalia I can imagine. The world is an odd place. Be sure to read the follow‐up Respond To The Column That Was Actually Written.

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.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 3

In the time of King David, the Bible says that the tribe of Issachar produced shrewd warriors “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chron 12:32). In a similar way, we need to become wise people whose faith interacts with the world.

To that end, I share articles/resources I have found helpful recently in thinking about broader cultural and societal issues (be sure to see the disclaimer at the bottom). May these give you greater insight, so that you may continue the tradition of Issachar.

  1. From the everyone’s a critic department: The Media Loves The Gates Foundation — These Experts Are More Skeptical (JuliaBelluz, Vox). This piece never mentions God, but I found it theologically fascinating for three reasons:
    1. This article reminds me that no matter how much good you do there will always be critics. Jesus was perfect and the world nailed him to a cross.
    2. This article reminds me that it is far easier to criticize than to accomplish. The article left me far more impressed with the Gates than with their critics. And I reflected upon the fact that the critics are unwittingly storing up judgment for themselves in heaven where they will be measured by the same standards they apply to Bill and Melinda Gates (Romans 2).
    3. But Bill and Melinda do not get off scot‐free. This article also reminds me of Isaiah 64:6 — our righteous deeds are like filthy rags before the Lord. These criticisms (at least those which are well‐founded) are mere hints of the limitations God sees in the righteous deeds of Bill and Melinda Gates. All of us need Jesus — even our most moral friends.
  2. From the responding to criticisms department: On Conservative Religious Activism, The Numbers Speak For Themselves (originally Washington Post, but better‐formatted at RNS)  People sometimes claim that Christians spend too much of their time and money fighting political battles rather serving the poor. This op‐ed provides numbers to rebut the claim. A related article by a non‐Christian journalist explains why many people believe the charge despite the data:  Verily I Say Unto You: Christians Care About the Poor (Megan McArdle, Bloomberg  View).
  3. From the self‐deception department: If You Use Facebook to Get Your News, Please — For the Love of Democracy — Read This First (Caitlyn Dewey, Washington Post): Nancy sent me this interesting article about how Facebook’s filtering algorithms subtly reinforce our biases. In related news, Ezra Klein at Vox explains Why The Most Informed Voters Are Often The Most Badly Misled.
  4. From the laughter is good department: Dilbert meets an Internet star. The last panel kills me. Yesterday’s strip about brainstorming was insightfully funny as well.

Suggestions for a better title/frequency/best day to send the email on/articles to consider/etc are welcome. My current plan is to send out an email with 3–5 topics every Friday.

Disclaimer

Chi Alpha is not a partisan organization. To paraphrase another minister: we are not about the donkey’s agenda and 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 will 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.