Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 186

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. America in one tweet:“We are living in an era of woke capitalism in which companies pretend to care about social justice to sell products to people who pretend to hate capitalism.” (Clay Routledge, Twitter)
  2. Engineers of the Soul: Ideology in Xi Jinping’s China (John Garnaut, Sinocism): “In classical Chinese statecraft there are two tools for gaining and maintaining control over “the mountains and the rivers”: The first is wu (weapons, violence — 武) and the second is wen (language, culture — 文). Chinese leaders have always believed that power derives from controlling both the physical battlefield and the cultural domain. You can’t sustain physical power without discursive power. Wu and wen go hand-in-hand.”
  3. A Strange Argument for the Commonplace (Cato Unbound, Agnes Callard): “We should not equalize the rich and poor, but rather endeavor to make the poor of tomorrow wealthier than the rich of today.” I’m including this link mostly because of that quote. Also because it has some commentary on Peter Singer which dovetails with a conversation I had earlier this week.
  4. Most Teenagers Drop Out of Church as Young Adults (Aaron Earls, Lifeway Research ): “Almost half (47 percent) of those who dropped out and attended college say moving to college played a role in their no longer attending church for at least a year…. Among all those who dropped out, 29 percent say they planned on taking a break from church once they graduated high school. Seven in 10 (71 percent) say their leaving wasn’t an intentional decision.”
    • The title is a bit misleading. Yes, a majority of young adults who previously attended church do stop attending church for at least one year between the ages of 18–22, but if you look at their underlying research about 70% eventually start attending again. Also, it doesn’t seem to ask whether any of these people were involved in an activity that they might not characterize as church (like Chi Alpha or Intervarsity). I know some of my Chi Alpha students are not currently worshiping with a Sunday morning congregation, but it would be wrong to infer that their faith has been put on pause.
  5. Have Aliens Found Us? A Harvard Astronomer on the Mysterious Interstellar Object ‘Oumuamua (Isaac Chotiner, New Yorker): “Last year, I wrote a paper about cosmology where there was an unusual result, which showed that perhaps the gas in the universe was much colder than we expected. And so we postulated that maybe dark matter has some property that makes the gas cooler. And nobody cares, nobody is worried about it, no one says it is not science. Everyone says that is mainstream—to consider dark matter, a substance we have never seen. That’s completely fine. It doesn’t bother anyone. But when you mention the possibility that there could be equipment out there that is coming from another civilization—which, to my mind, is much less speculative, because we have already sent things into space—then that is regarded as unscientific.”
    • I am skeptical, but I find the conversation fascinating. Related: an article on the Fermi paradox I shared back in volume 159 and an article on government investigation of UFO reports from volume 132.
  6. The marvel of the human dad (Anna Machin, Aeon): “But crucially, dad has not evolved to be the mirror to mum, a male mother, so to speak. Evolution hates redundancy and will not select for roles that duplicate each other if one type of individual can fulfil the role alone. Rather, dad’s role has evolved to complement mum’s.” Dr. Machin is a professor of evolutionary anthropology at Oxford.
  7. The Virtue Signalers Won’t Change the World (John McWhorter, The Atlantic): “Just as the first and second waves of both feminism and antiracism transformed social structures, third-wave antiracism may seem parallel to third-wave feminism in moving on to a different form of abuse, psychological rather than institutional. But this focus on the psychological has morphed, of late, from a pragmatic mission to change minds into a witch hunt driven by the personal benefits of virtue signaling, obsessed with unconscious and subconscious bias. As noble as this culture of shaming genuinely seems to many, it’s a dead end.”
    • A useful, detailed follow-up: The Perils of a Psychological Approach to Anti-racism (Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic): “If the phenomenon McWhorter described is real, we should be able to find leftists who intend to fight bias by calling out psychological harms, only to fall into ‘hypersensitivity, oversimplification, and even a degree of performance’ as participants signal virtue in ways that help no one.”

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 Inside Graduate Admissions (Inside Higher Ed, Scott Jaschick): if you plan to apply to grad school, read this. There is one revealing anecdote about how an admissions committee treated an application from a Christian college student. My takeaway: the professors tried to be fair but found it hard to do, and their stated concerns were mostly about the quality of the institution rather than the faith of the applicant. Troubling nonetheless. (first shared in volume 32)

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 185

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

In case you’re wondering: I just don’t find stories about the Russia investigation or the government shutdown interesting. I think they’re important, but few people are writing things about them that catch my attention. Recommendations are welcome.

Also, one of you mentioned that you sometimes can’t open the links. If you, being a broke college student, ever can’t access an article because of a paywall, try putting http://outline.com/ in front of the link. I did it for the first article as an example. Having said that, please support journalism once you are able.

  1. Is Marijuana as Safe as We Think? (Malcolm Gladwell, The New Yorker): “The authors assumed that alcohol use among students would be a predictor of violent behavior, and that marijuana use would predict the opposite. In fact, those who used only marijuana were three times more likely to be physically aggressive than abstainers were; those who used only alcohol were 2.7 times more likely to be aggressive. Observational studies like these don’t establish causation. But they invite the sort of research that could.”
    • This Reporter Took a Deep Look Into the Science of Smoking Pot. What He Found Is Scary. (Stephanie Mencimer, Mother Jones): “I smoked plenty of weed in high school and so did all my friends, and none of us jumped off a balcony or killed anyone—we could barely get off the couch. But the marijuana sold today is not what we smoked, which at 1 percent to 2 percent THC was the equivalent of smoking oregano. Today’s weed is insanely more potent, as are products like “wax” and “shatter”—forms of butane hash oil designed to be vaped or dabbed that come pretty close to 100 percent THC. And these high-potency products usually contain very little CBD oil, the ingredient in cannabis that’s supposed to account for many of its supposed health benefits.”
  2. Is Sunscreen the New Margarine? (Rowan Jacobsen, Outside): “People of color rarely get melanoma. The rate is 26 per 100,000 in Caucasians, 5 per 100,000 in Hispanics, and 1 per 100,000 in African Americans. On the rare occasion when African Americans do get melanoma, it’s particularly lethal—but it’s mostly a kind that occurs on the palms, soles, or under the nails and is not caused by sun exposure. At the same time, African Americans suffer high rates of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, internal cancers, and other diseases that seem to improve in the presence of sunlight, of which they may well not be getting enough. Because of their genetically higher levels of melanin, they require more sun exposure to produce compounds like vitamin D, and they are less able to store that vitamin for darker days. They have much to gain from the sun and little to fear.”
  3. Leaving Religion at Home: Engaging Religious Thought and Action in American Society (Nathalie Kiersznowski, Stanford Politics): “People’s beliefs about the world will inevitably influence their positions on issues like morality, politics, dress, gender, sex and more. Similarly, politicians will naturally support legislation in accordance with their values, religious or not. Many politicians, like Vice President Mike Pence, have faced criticism for allowing religion to shape their political decisions. It would be unwarranted, though, to expect Pence to act ‘un-Christian’ or ‘non-religious’ exclusively at his place of work. The notion of having both a ‘secular public self’ and a ‘religious private self’ is impossible: any private value system will influence decisions throughout all areas of life.”
  4. The case for going to bed at 2:30 am (Kate Shellnut, Vox): “My faith doused our cultural preference for early birds with biblical backing, too, making me feel even guiltier. Within American evangelicalism, many expect faithful Christians to dedicate the ‘first fruits’ of each day to ‘quiet time’ with the Lord (prayers, devotional reading, Bible study). Researchers even found people to be more ‘spiritually aware’ early in the mornings. Faced with these expectations, I really did question whether my habits were sinful: Was I being selfish by staying up late? Was I putting productivity over the natural patterns of work and rest?”
  5. China’s Gulag for Muslims (Mustafa Akyol, New York Times): “…Russia’s gulags are long gone, as is the Communist Party of the Soviet Union that operated them. But now another dictatorship, ruled by another Communist Party, is operating a new chain of prisons that evoke memory of the gulags — more modern, more high-tech, but no less enslaving.”
    • Where Did the One Million Figure for Detentions in Xinjiang’s Camps Come From? (Jessica Batke, ChinaFile): “Two key studies independently arrived around the one million mark, by using limited data samples to estimate what percentage of the ethnic minority Muslim population is detained. Both studies arrive at a detention rate of 10 percent —at least in some areas of Xinjiang—suggesting that just over one million of the region’s 11 million ethnic Uighur population could be in the camps.”
  6. Conquerors of the Courts (David Montgomery, Washington Post): “The society itself lobbies for no policies; it never signs amicus briefs or represents clients in cases. No one at Federalist Society headquarters in Washington dictated Barnett’s moves or told him how to advocate for what positions. It’s just that at a few gatherings made possible by the Federalist Society that Barnett happened to attend, synapses fired, a corner of the hive mind engaged, and Barnett took it from there. Multiply that chemistry tens of thousands of times over the past 36 years and you have the Federalist Society’s true source of power.”
  7. Elected leaders who weaponize religion are playing a dangerous game (Tulsi Gabbard, The Hill): “While I absolutely believe in the separation of church and state as a necessity to the health of our nation, no American should be asked to renounce his or her faith or membership in a faith-based, service organization in order to hold public office.” Gabbard is a Democratic congresswoman representing Hawaii.

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have the unfortunately date-specific Reading The Whole Bible in 2016: A FAQ (Gospel Coalition, Justin Taylor): “There are about 775,000 words in the Bible. Divided by 365, that’s 2,123 words a day. The average person reads 200 to 250 words per minute. So 2,123 words/day divided by 225 words/minute equals 9.4 minutes a day.” This article is full of good advice for what could be the best commitment you make all year. Do it! (first shared in volume 31 — useful for any year)

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 183

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. You Are Doing It Wrong: Reading Entire Books Of The Bible (Tim Miller, Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary): “Imagine being in Rome when the book of Romans was first delivered. Now imagine the reader only reading for three minutes (corresponding to the end of chapter one) and saying, ‘well, that is enough for today, we will read some more tomorrow.’ The crowd would be outraged and would demand the man continue reading.”
  2. Shame Storm (Helen Andrews, First Things): “The more online shame cycles you observe, the more obvious the pattern becomes: Everyone comes up with a principled-sounding pretext that serves as a barrier against admitting to themselves that, in fact, all they have really done is joined a mob. Once that barrier is erected, all rules of decency go out the window, but the pretext is almost always a lie.” I found this essay engrossing.
  3. China’s Detention Camps for Muslims Turn to Forced Labor (Chris Buckley and Austin Ramzy, New York Times): “The evolution of the Xinjiang camps echoes China’s ‘re-education through labor’ system, where citizens once were sent without trial to toil for years. China abolished ‘re-education through labor’ five years ago, but Xinjiang appears to be creating a new version.”
  4. Internet Church Isn’t Really Church (Laura Turner, New York Times): “The intention behind live-streaming services — to make church, and its attendant benefits of community, prayer and worship, available to everyone with a smartphone — is a good one. But it presumes that God is primarily present to us one on one, as individuals, rather than as a community of believers.” Kind of a follow-up to last week’s John Crist video.
  5. A mother’s leap of faith at an African airport, and a 15-year mystery (Petula Dvorak, Washington Post): “The story of Tom and Maya and Zainab is about trust, about listening to your heart over your mind, and about that gut feeling you have when you meet a good person. And it’s a story that could’ve gone horribly wrong.” Heartwarming.
  6. Is There Such a Thing as an Authoritarian Voter? (Molly Worthen, New York Times): “In one of the ironies of history, as the social scientific portrait of humanity grows more psychological and irrational, it comes closer and closer to approximating the old Adam of traditional Christianity: a fallen, depraved creature, unable to see himself clearly except with the aid of a higher power.”
  7. Men and Marriage: Debunking The Ball and Chain Myth (Brad Wilcox & Nicholas Wolfinger, National Marriage Project): “…the benefits of marriage for men are substantial by every conceivable measure, including more money, a better sex life, and significantly better physical and mental health. Yet many men remain ignorant of these benefits, a view seemingly promoted by popular culture.” This is a PDF of a brochure from the Institute for Family Studies. The two authors are sociologists whom I have linked to in previous issues.

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 Alcohol, Blackouts, and Campus Sexual Assault (Texas Monthly, Sarah Hepola): I think this is the most thoughtful secular piece I’ve read on the issue. “Consent and alcohol make tricky bedfellows. The reason I liked getting drunk was because it altered my consent: it changed what I would say yes to. Not just in the bedroom but in every room and corridor that led into the squinting light. Say yes to adventure, say yes to risk, say yes to karaoke and pool parties and arguments with men, say yes to a life without fear, even though such a life is never possible… We drink because it feels good. We drink because it makes us feel happy, safe, powerful. That it often makes us the opposite is one of alcohol’s dastardly tricks.” (first shared in volume 25)

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 182

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. If They Weren’t Taking Notes, How Did the Disciples Remember Jesus’s Exact Teaching? The 3-Step Process for Formulating the 4 Gospels (Justin Taylor, Gospel Coalition): “I might not be able to tell you what I did last week, but I could give you a three-hour lecture about Jesus and the Jewish roots of the Last Supper with zero preparation because I have been talking about it all the time for the last ten years. That’s one key difference between rehearsed memories and incidental memories.”
  2. What Straight-A Students Get Wrong (Adam Grant, New York Times): “The evidence is clear: Academic excellence is not a strong predictor of career excellence. Across industries, research shows that the correlation between grades and job performance is modest in the first year after college and trivial within a handful of years. For example, at Google, once employees are two or three years out of college, their grades have no bearing on their performance.” The author is an organizational psychologist at Penn’s Wharton School.
    • This article was sent to me by an alumna who said, “I sometimes skipped Chi Alpha or other meaningful activities with friends for that one extra hour of studying, which I now regret.”
  3. Hundreds of sex abuse allegations found in fundamental Baptist churches across U.S. (Sarah Smith, Star-Telegram): “One hundred and sixty-eight church leaders were accused or convicted of committing sexual crimes against children, the investigation found. At least 45 of the alleged abusers continued in ministry after accusations came to the attention of church authorities or law enforcement.… Independent fundamental Baptist churches preach separation: Stay separate from the world, separate from non-believers and separate from Christians who do not believe as they do. That includes Southern Baptists, who are deemed by the strict sect as too liberal.” This is horrifying stuff.
  4. China cracks down on Christians — a new era of religious persecution has arrived (Nina Shea and Bob Fu, Fox News): “The government’s repression against the churches is being done in the name of President Xi Jinping’s ‘sinicization’ campaign, ostensibly to strengthen Chinese culture. However, it increasingly appears aimed at removing the Bible and its teachings from Chinese Christianity.” (related coverage at the New York Times)
    • My Declaration of Faithful Disobedience (Wang Yi, Christian Daily Reporter): “As a pastor, my disobedience is one part of the gospel commission. Christ’s great commission requires of us great disobedience. The goal of disobedience is not to change the world but to testify about another world.” A now-imprisoned pastor wrote this letter with instructions that it be published if he was detained for more than 48 hours. STRAIGHT FIRE.
  5. Masterpiece Cakeshop and how “religious liberty” became so toxic (Andrew Koppelman, Vox): “Deep disagreement about moral fundamentals is nothing new; it is what religious diversity consists of. That ought to include disagreement about such fraught matters as sexuality. Moral disagreement about things that matter a lot is an inevitable consequence of a free society. The best we can hope for is to live peacefully together in mutual contempt.” The author is a law professor at Northwestern University.
    • Related: ‘Fairness For All’: Smart Politics, Or A Sellout? (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “…there really is a question of justice within a pluralistic society that conservative Christians have to face. We may sincerely believe that homosexuality is morally wrong, but at what point does the common good require that we agree that gay people have a right to be wrong? Especially because we are asking them to agree that we have a right to be wrong (in their eyes) too.”
    • Response to the above: Misguided Proposal From Christian Leaders and LGBT Activists Is Anything but ‘Fairness for All’ (Ryan T. Anderson, The Daily Signal): “Establishing bad public policy for everyone and then exempting select religious institutions is not acting for the common good—and is certainly not fair for all. And there are better ways forward for those who seek compromise.”
    • Kinda different, but kinda related: The Culture Wars Are Ancient History (Peter Leithart, Christianity Today): “The real fight isn’t between religion and secularism, but between two kinds of religion. His book makes the case that today’s culture war shares much in common with the culture war that rocked ancient Rome.” Insightful.
  6. The Case Against Meritocracy (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “…meritocrats are often educated to be bad leaders, and bad people, in a very specific way — a way of arrogant intelligence unmoored from historical experience, ambition untempered by self-sacrifice. The way of the ‘best and the brightest’ at the dawn of the technocratic era and the ‘smartest guys in the room’ decades later, the way of the arsonists of late-2000s Wall Street and the ‘move fast and break things’ culture of Silicon Valley.”
  7. Is Sex Socially Constructed? (Alex Byrne, Arc Digital): “Clearly many animals have belonged to the category female (or male) without existing within a society of any kind. Indeed, there would have been females and males even if life on Earth had been destroyed by an asteroid half a billion years ago and humans had never evolved. Female and male are therefore not socially constructed categories; that is, sex is not socially constructed.” Byrne is the head of MIT’s department of linguistics and philosophy. I shared a related article of his back in issue 177.

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 On Obstinacy In Belief (C.S. Lewis, The Sewanee Review): this is a rewarding essay from way back in 1955. (first shared in volume 6)

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 179

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. ‘God, I don’t want to die,’ U.S. missionary wrote before he was killed by tribe on Indian island (Joanna Slater and Annie Gowen, Washington Post): “An American missionary trying to meet and convert one of the most isolated hunter-and-gatherer tribes in the world offered them fish and other small gifts before the tribesmen killed him and buried his body on the beach, journals and emails show.”
    • Related: US Missionary Killed by ‘World’s Most Isolated’ Tribe (Kate Shellnut, Christianity Today): “Some have declared Chau a martyr and compared him to Jim Elliot, who was famously killed at age 28 while attempting to evangelize an isolated indigenous group in Ecuador.”
    • Related: Death Of A Missionary (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “If Chau had been a missionary trying to sneak into North Korea, I would have thought him insanely brave. But the law against visiting that island was there for a very good reason: this tribe has had no exposure to outsiders, and is enormously vulnerable to communicable diseases. There are only a small number of them in existence, and they could be wiped out quickly by common illnesses for which they have no immunity…. It is one thing to be willing to lay down your life for these tribal people. It is cruel to expect them to lay down their lives so you can prove your love for God.”
  2. How do conservatives respond to archaeologists’ skepticism about Bible history? (Richard Ostling, Patheos): “There’s vast unexplored terrain in Israel, where only 50 of an estimated 6,000 sites have undergone thorough examination, with limited work at another 300. Surviving evidence from ancient times is necessarily spotty and interpretations can be subjective. Scholars usually end up with circumstantial plausibility, not absolute proof or disproof.”
  3. Ex-Detainee Describes Torture In China’s Xinjiang Re-Education Camp (Rob Schmitz, NPR): “Samarkand says he was transferred to a re-education camp, where people were separated into three groups: those who were religious, those who were suspected of being criminals, and those, like him, who had traveled abroad. All of them, says Samarkand, had one thing in common, though: They had grown up in Muslim families and communities.”
  4. Infographic: You Have More Time for Bible Reading than You Think (Crossway): “In just 12 minutes per day, you could read the whole Bible in a year. Does that still feel a bit ambitious? In just 6 minutes per day, you could read the entire New Testament over the course of 6 months.”
  5. Elisha and the She-bears (Peter J Williams, Twitter): a very insightful Twitter thread about a disturbing OT story. The author is the Warden of Tyndale House at Cambridge.
  6. Sir Roger Scruton Is a Friend to Muslims and Jews (Jibran Khan, National Review): “There can be no real dialogue with someone who doesn’t believe in anything, and yet this has been the guiding principle of liberal ‘interfaith’ discussion, to so water down the discourse that no one gets to encounter, let alone tolerate and appreciate, difference.” I did not think I would find this article interesting.
  7. It’s time we balance the scales of justice in our schools (Betsy DeVos, Washington Post): “A fair process treats each party with dignity and ensures the integrity of final decisions. Having outcomes overturned and relitigated because of process concerns — which has happened dozens of times in recent years — can be counterproductive to survivors.”
    • Related: The ACLU Declines to Defend Civil Rights (Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic): “the ACLU issued a public statement that constituted a stark, shortsighted betrayal of the organization’s historic mission: It vehemently opposed stronger due-process rights for the accused.”
    • Related: One Criminal-Defense Attorney’s Lament (Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic): “In certain ways, social condemnation has become something even worse, the mere accusation being all that’s required for a mob of unduly passionate people to crush a career. There’s no opportunity to defend and no means to challenge an accusation. While the ‘punishment’ isn’t levied by government, and is therefore beyond any required involvement of such niceties as due process, the net result can be as destructive given the current tide of blind acceptance and capitulation.”

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have the provocative In Defense of Flogging (Peter Moskos, Chronicle of Higher Education) — the author is a former police officer and now a criminologist at the City University of New York. This one was shared back before I started sending these emails in a blog post called Punishment.

Why Do You Send This Email?

In the time of King David, the tribe of Issachar produced shrewd warriors “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chron 12:32). In a similar way, we need to become wise people whose faith interacts with the world. I pray this email gives you greater insight, so that you may continue the tradition of Issachar.

Disclaimer

Chi Alpha is not a partisan organization. To paraphrase another minister: we are not about the donkey’s agenda and we are not about the elephant’s agenda — we are about the Lamb’s agenda. Having said that, I read widely (in part because I believe we should aspire to pass the ideological Turing test and in part because I do not believe I can fairly say “I agree” or “I disagree” until I can say “I understand”) and may at times share articles that have a strong partisan bias simply because I find the article stimulating. The upshot: you should not assume I agree with everything an author says in an article I mention, much less things the author has said in other articles (although if I strongly disagree with something in the article I’ll usually mention it). And to the extent you can discern my opinions, please understand that they are my own and not necessarily those of Chi Alpha or any other organization I may be perceived to represent.

Also, remember that I’m not reporting news — I’m giving you a selection of things I found interesting. There’s a lot happening in the world that’s not making an appearance here because I haven’t found stimulating articles written about it.

If this was forwarded to you and you want to receive future emails, sign up here. You can also view the archives.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 176

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. Mass Shootings at Houses of Worship: Pittsburgh Attack Was Among the Deadliest (Sarah Mervosh, NY Times): “Mass shootings have become a recurring part of American life, and religious institutions a recurring setting. In each case, the shock is compounded by the violence at what is supposed to be a safe space for peace and healing.”
    • Related: If You Hate Jews, You Hate Jesus (Russell Moore, personal blog): “I will often hear Christians say, ‘Remember that Jesus was Jewish.’ That’s true enough, but the past tense makes it sound as though Jesus’ Jewishness were something he sloughed off at the resurrection. Jesus is alive now, enthroned in heaven…. When Jesus appeared before Saul of Tarsus on the Road to Damascus, the resurrected Christ introduced himself as ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ (Acts 22:8). Jesus is Jewish, present tense.”
    • Related: Holiness & Dr. Cohen (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “What Dr. Cohen — who is a member of Tree of Life synagogue — and his Jewish staff showed is moral courage, but more than that, it is holiness.”
    • Related: The Jews of Pittsburgh Bury Their Dead (Emma Green, The Atlantic): “‘We, the Jews, are good at death,’ says Rabbi Seth Adelson, whose synagogue, Beth Shalom, is less than a mile from Tree of Life. ‘The customs that we fulfill at this time are really helpful for those who have suffered a loss.’ In the face of extraordinary tragedy—the deadliest attack on Jews in American history, according to the Anti-Defamation League—ordinary rituals help Jews grieve.”
  2. ‘God Is Going to Have to Forgive Me’: Young Evangelicals Speak Out (Elizabeth Dias, New York Times): “With just days left before the midterm elections — two years after President Trump won the White House with a record share of white, evangelical support — we asked young evangelicals to tell The Times about the relationship between their faith and their politics.” These are interesting interviews, although I suspect a skew in the sample.
  3. The Big and Small World of Bible Geography (David Barrett, The Gospel Coalition): “As I have studied and mapped the events of Scripture over the years, I have been struck by an intriguing paradox: The world of the Bible was at the same time very small and very large.” Recommended for the pictures even more than the text.
  4. What Progressives Can Learn From Michael Avenatti’s Mistake (Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic): “Insofar as Democrats are convinced that America is a white-supremacist patriarchy, that racism and sexism were the decisive factors costing Democrats the 2016 election, and that fascism is nigh, you can see how they would conclude that a Cory Booker or an Elizabeth Warren can’t really best Trump, or would face much longer odds than a white man, and that winning should be the priority. Conjure in your mind an institutionally racist, white-supremacist patriarchy. Does its popularly elected president look like Kamala Harris?” This is the most provocatively insightful thing I read this week.
    • Not really related, just similarly provocative: The Real Reason They Hate Trump (David Gelernter, Wall Street Journal): “The difference between citizens who hate Mr. Trump and those who can live with him—whether they love or merely tolerate him—comes down to their views of the typical American: the farmer, factory hand, auto mechanic, machinist, teamster, shop owner, clerk, software engineer, infantryman, truck driver, housewife.” The author is a professor of computer science at Yale..
  5. Free rent in Seattle, no catch: Landlords’ faith inspired a gift for tenants (Mike Rosenberg, Seattle Times): “They’re also devout Pentecostal Christians. When Slaatthaug, a 74-year-old retired carpenter, does repairs at the building, he drives there in a Jeep with a 4-foot-tall Bible on top. The Old Testament has a passage about the year of jubilee — every 50 years, debts are to be forgiven. So Slaatthaug and Bambrick are celebrating the family’s 50 years as property owners by doing something unheard of for a landlord: For the month of November, everyone in the 11-unit building goes rent-free.”
  6. Kissing Purity Culture Goodbye (Abigail Rine Favale, First Things): “Christianity does not offer mere prescriptions; it offers a worldview, one centered on a God who descended into our bodily nature and thereby vivified it. Within the context of this worldview, the sexual mores of Christianity become compelling, connected as they are to the cosmos as a whole. Removed from this context, they enslave.”
  7. Lack Of Attention To Chinese Interpol Chief’s Disappearance Shows The Khashoggi Furor’s Fakery (Ben Weingarten, The Federalist): “Why do certain individual victims of tyrannical regimes become cause célèbres, worthy of dramatically altering U.S. foreign policy, while others disappear into the ether? …concurrent with the Khashoggi affair, Meng, the president of Interpol, also disappeared, and may have succumbed to a similarly grim fate at the hands of Chinese henchmen. Let me repeat that: The president of Interpol, the world’s largest international police organization, disappeared.” I dislike the title of this piece and the way it frames a few things, but it raises a very important point.

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

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

Why Do You Send This Email?

In the time of King David, the tribe of Issachar produced shrewd warriors “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chron 12:32). In a similar way, we need to become wise people whose faith interacts with the world. I pray this email gives you greater insight, so that you may continue the tradition of Issachar.

Disclaimer

Chi Alpha is not a partisan organization. To paraphrase another minister: we are not about the donkey’s agenda and we are not about the elephant’s agenda — we are about the Lamb’s agenda. Having said that, I read widely (in part because I believe we should aspire to pass the ideological Turing test and in part because I do not believe I can fairly say “I agree” or “I disagree” until I can say “I understand”) and may at times share articles that have a strong partisan bias simply because I find the article stimulating. The upshot: you should not assume I agree with everything an author says in an article I mention, much less things the author has said in other articles (although if I strongly disagree with something in the article I’ll usually mention it). And to the extent you can discern my opinions, please understand that they are my own and not necessarily those of Chi Alpha or any other organization I may be perceived to represent.

Also, remember that I’m not reporting news — I’m giving you a selection of things I found interesting. There’s a lot happening in the world that’s not making an appearance here because I haven’t found stimulating articles written about it.

If this was forwarded to you and you want to receive future emails, sign up here. You can also view the archives.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 172

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.

I didn’t think I’d be able to send the email this week because I’m preaching in rural Alaska without reliable WiFi, but I was able to grab a bit this morning. As a result, this edition feels a bit bigger than normal to me — compiling the list is quick because whenever I read a good article I throw it on the pile, but editing it down takes time I don’t have today. So here you go. Enjoy!

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. First, a bit about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. I’ve had less time than normal for reading this week, so I am certain there are interesting and insightful articles I never stumbled upon. Send me things you think I missed! Of one thing I am convinced: the level of fury on both sides over this nomination is off-the-charts, and both sides seem to underestimate just how outraged the other side is.
    • Only the Truth Can Save Us Now (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “even more than before the hearings, my feeling after over eight hours in purgatory is that I still really want to know the truth. And surprisingly, I left the long day of testimony convinced that for all the years that have passed since the summer of 1982, the truth might actually be accessible, and there are obvious questions and avenues of inquiry, unpursued by both parties, that could bring us closer to understanding which of the two witnesses were telling the real truth.”
    • I Know Brett Kavanaugh, but I Wouldn’t Confirm Him (Benjamin Wittes, The Atlantic): “Faced with credible allegations of serious misconduct against him, Kavanaugh behaved in a fashion unacceptable in a justice, it seems preponderantly likely he was not candid with the Senate Judiciary Committee on important matters, and the risk of Ford’s allegations being closer to the truth than his denial of them is simply too high to place him on the Supreme Court…. As much as I admire Kavanaugh, my conscience would not permit me to vote for him.” This makes the most thoughtful case against Kavanaugh. See last week’s edition for a similar piece that comes to the opposite conclusion.
    • The Rachel Mitchell Memo -“A ‘he said, she said’ case is incredibly difficult to prove. But this case is even weaker than that. Dr. Ford identified other witnesses to the event, and those witnesses either refuted her allegations or failed to corroborate them….I do not think that a reasonable prosecutor would bring this case based on the evidence before the Committee. Nor do I believe that this evidence is sufficient to satisfy the preponderance-of-the-evidence standard.” This is the report written by the sex-crimes prosecutor who interviewed Dr. Ford on the Republicans’ behalf in the Senate hearing.
    • A Non-scandalous, Non-ideological Case Against Brett Kavanaugh (Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic): “I do worry about a Supreme Court where literally all nine members received their respective legal education at either Harvard or Yale Law.”
    • Conservative Women Are Angry About Kavanaugh—And They Think Other Voters Are, Too (Emma Green, The Atlantic): “These women are infuriated with the way the sexual-assault allegations against the Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh have been handled. They are not convinced by Ford or any other woman who has come forward. They resent the implication that all women should support the accusers. And they believe that this scandal will ultimately hurt the cause of women who have been sexually assaulted. Above all, these women, and the women they know, are ready to lash out against Democrats in the upcoming midterm elections.”
    • The Pernicious Double Standards Around Brett Kavanaugh’s Drinking (Megan Garber, The Atlantic): “There’s been a lot of talk about double standards of late—rightfully so—and here is one more: the assumption that alcohol is one thing for men and another for women.” This one comes recommended by an alumnus. For the record, you should not get drunk regardless of your gender. Ephesians 5:18, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.”
    • Poll: Amid Kavanaugh Confirmation Battle, Democratic Enthusiasm Edge Evaporates (Domenico Montanaro, NPR): “While Democrats and Republicans are now equally enthusiastic about the midterms, the story is very different for key Democratic base groups and independents. While 82 percent of Democrats say the midterms are very important, that’s true of just 60 percent of people under 30, 61 percent of Latinos and 65 percent of independents.”
  2. On the broader implications of the Ford/Kavanaugh drama.
    • Six Broader Insights From the Kavanaugh Saga So Far (Tyler Cowen, Bloomberg): “Most men are not abusers, yet very large numbers of women have been abused. So if a man is an abuser, there is a good chance he has abused a fair number of women. That means many well-meaning men experience sexual abuse as a relatively rare phenomenon. They haven’t done it, and most of their male friends haven’t either. At the same time, most women have abuse, rape or #MeToo stories, and they experience these phenomena as relatively common and often life-altering. Probably they also have heard multiple such stories from their female friends. This structural asymmetry of perspectives is crucial to understanding the discourse and the often fundamental differences in opinion.”
    • An Age Divided By Sex (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “the culture war as we’ve known it since has not been a simple clash of conservatives who want to repress and liberals who want to emancipate. Rather it’s been an ongoing argument between two forces — feminists and religious conservatives — that both want to remoralize American society, albeit in very different ways.”
    • The Meritocracy Against Itself (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “the whole meritocratic game… depends on a reproduction of privilege that pretends to be something else, something fair and open and all about hard work and just deserts. In this game the people whose privilege is particularly obvious, the boarding schoolers and New York toffs and Bethesda country clubbers, play a crucially important role. It’s not just that their parents pay full freight and keep the economics of tuition viable for everyone. It’s that the eliter-than-elite kids themselves help create a provisional inside-the-Ivy hierarchy that lets all the other privileged kids, the ones who are merely upper-upper middle class, feel the spur of resentment and ambition that keeps us running, keeps us competing, keeps us sharp and awful in all the ways that meritocracy requires.” This is not really about Kavanaugh, but it is certainly about the world most of you inhabit at Stanford.
    • See this insightful response: Brett Kavanaugh and the Limits of Social-Class Privilege for Conservatives (David French, National Review): “The social battles of the elite college represent the squabbling of men and women at the tip of the privilege spear in the most powerful nation in the history of the planet. But as real as these petty resentments were and are, they pale in comparison to the most important thing. They miss the real roots of Ivy rage. Brett Kavanaugh’s true sin isn’t his connections, his popularity, or his prep school. His true sin is that he’s a conservative. And now he’s a particular kind of conservative — a conservative who matters, a conservative who will have the power (and might actually have the convictions) to threaten one or more of the most sacred elements of progressive jurisprudence. He can potentially affect the law and the culture in a profound way. So what we’re watching is the systematic revocation of his elite privilege.”
    • One of the Best Speeches You Will Ever Hear from the Senate Floor (Justin Taylor, Gospel Coalition): “I believe that we have a widespread legacy of sexual assault in this country. I believe we don’t have much of a shared sexual ethic right now—and we haven’t for quite some time—and I think horrible stuff has happened, and continues to happen. I’ve wept with the victims of sexual assault, and I believe the advocacy groups’ data that between one-fifth and one-third of American women have been sexually assaulted at some point in their lives. And given that most women have many other important women in their lives—a mom, and a daughter, sisters, and a couple of close friends—it means that the overwhelming majority of American women have been deeply affected, deeply hurt, by the tragedy of sexual violence.” The speech is by Ben Sasse, a former seminary president now serving as a senator from Nebraska.
    • Rage Politics On The Left (R. R. Reno, First Things): “Of the utopian dreams of the 1960s, only the sexual revolution has attained cultural dominance. To a great degree, we as a society believe in the promises of that revolution: that sex can be safe; that men and women can enjoy sexual freedom to the same degree and in the same way; that sex need have nothing to do with children; that sex is purely private. These promises are backstopped by abortion, the constitutional status of which fuels the urgency surrounding the Kavanaugh appointment.”
      • In a similar vein: Believability Is The Road To National Ruin (Bret Stephens, New York Times): “When politics becomes solely a matter of ‘I believe’ versus ‘I believe,’ it descends into a raw contest for power. Historically, it’s been fascists, not liberals, who tend to win such contests.”
    • I was sexually assaulted and thought it was my fault. It’s past time for a 1980s reckoning. (Kirsten Powers, USA Today): “There is a problem, though, and it’s this: The culture failed to give us the language to describe such violations, and made us feel that talking about what happened to an authority figure would only make things worse for us. Fortunately for women, what happened in the 1980s isn’t staying in the 1980s. It’s a reckoning that is well overdue.”
  3. Steelmanning the NIMBYs (Scott Alexander, Slate Star Codex): “San Francisco is easy to hate. Even a lot of the people who already live there hate it. They hate the streets piled with discarded needles and human waste. They hate the traffic (fifth worst in the world) and the crime (third most property crime in the US). They hate living five people to a three-bedroom apartment. They hate having aggressive people scream incomprehensible things at them on the sidewalk. They hate the various mutually hostile transit systems that interlock in a system I would call byzantine except that at least you could get around medieval Constantinople without checking whether the Muni and CalTrain were mysteriously failing to connect to each other today. They hate that everyone else in the city hates them, from visible KILL ALL TECHIES graffiti on their commute to work, to a subtle mood of seething resentment from everyone they meet. They hate the omnipresent billboards expecting them to have strong opinions on apps. I’m not saying everyone in San Francisco hates it. There are people who like all sorts of things. Some people like being tied up, whipped, and electrocuted by strangers. And a disproportionate number of these people live in San Francisco. I am just saying this isn’t a coincidence.”
    • Steelmanning refers to the opposite of attacking a straw man argument. Instead of making your opponent’s argument weaker, you strengthen it as much as you can.
    • Counterpoint: YIMBY! (Scott Sumner, EconLib): “Think of it this way. Lots of parents don’t let their kids play outside by themselves, because other parents don’t let their kids play outside. If you choose to be the exception, then (unlike during the 1960s) your kid is the only one available for pedophiles to prey upon. Lots of the anti-NIMBY feeling comes from a false perception of what the real estate market would look like if complete laissez-faire were adopted, based on the current distorted market.”
  4. The Disappearing Conservative Professor (Jon A. Shields, National Affairs): “Professors are even less tolerant of evangelicals, whom they associate with social conservatism. Nearly 60% of anthropologists, 50% of literature professors, 39% of political scientists and sociologists, 34% of philosophy professors, and 29% of historians say they would be less inclined to hire evangelicals. Yancey further found that female professors expressed more anti-conservative bias than men, perhaps in part because female professors tend to be more progressive than their male peers.” The author is a professor of government at Claremont McKenna.
  5. The Big Hack: How China Used a Tiny Chip to Infiltrate U.S. Companies (Jordan Robertson and Michael Rieey, Bloomberg): “Nested on the servers’ motherboards, the testers found a tiny microchip, not much bigger than a grain of rice, that wasn’t part of the boards’ original design. Amazon reported the discovery to U.S. authorities, sending a shudder through the intelligence community. Elemental’s servers could be found in Department of Defense data centers, the CIA’s drone operations, and the onboard networks of Navy warships. And Elemental was just one of hundreds of Supermicro customers. During the ensuing top-secret probe, which remains open more than three years later, investigators determined that the chips allowed the attackers to create a stealth doorway into any network that included the altered machines. Multiple people familiar with the matter say investigators found that the chips had been inserted at factories run by manufacturing subcontractors in China.”
    • This bit made me chuckle: “Two of Elemental’s biggest early clients were the Mormon church, which used the technology to beam sermons to congregations around the world, and the adult film industry, which did not.”
  6. How Do Christians Fit Into the Two-Party System? They Don’t (Tim Keller, New York Times): “Christians are pushed toward two main options. One is to withdraw and try to be apolitical. The second is to assimilate and fully adopt one party’s whole package in order to have your place at the table. Neither of these options is valid.”
  7. Are You a Young Evangelical? We Want to Hear From You Ahead of the Midterm Elections (Elizabeth Dias, New York Times): “If you are an evangelical born after 1980, I’d love to hear about the relationship between your faith and politics today. And if you grew up evangelical and your views are shifting, feel free to share that, too. We may publish a selection of the responses.” Take a few minutes and respond to this — you might get printed in the New York Times.

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  Book Review: Seeing Like A State (Scott Alexander, Slate Star Codex): “Peasants didn’t like permanent surnames. Their own system was quite reasonable for them: John the baker was John Baker, John the blacksmith was John Smith, John who lived under the hill was John Underhill, John who was really short was John Short. The same person might be John Smith and John Underhill in different contexts, where his status as a blacksmith or place of origin was more important. But the government insisted on giving everyone a single permanent name, unique for the village, and tracking who was in the same family as whom. Resistance was intense.” This is long and amazing. (first shared in volume 95)

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 170

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. So I was mostly ignoring the Kavanaugh nomination, but this week things turned way up. Wow. Here are the articles that have helped to shape my thinking.
    • What Would a Serious Investigation of Brett Kavanaugh Look Like? (Jeannie Suk Gerson, New Yorker): “…Kavanaugh does not stand to lose something that he already has. He is petitioning the public for the privilege of holding one of the highest public offices in the country, and he should have to persuade us that he didn’t do what he is accused of doing. ”
    • The Kavanaugh Debacle (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “I am glad that Ford will have a chance to speak her mind, and that Kavanaugh will have the opportunity to defend himself. But I think this will only make things worse for all of us. If Kavanaugh gets a Senate vote, and prevails, he will forever be tainted as a Supreme Court justice. If he is forced to withdraw (that is, without further evidence against him emerging), or is voted down, he will become a martyr to many, and will, as the Wall Street Journal editorial page said, legitimize ‘weaponizing every sexual assault allegation no matter the evidence.’”
    • I Believe Her (Caitlin Flanagan, The Atlantic): “I have been entirely agnostic about Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination. Republican presidents nominate conservative judges, and Democratic presidents nominate liberal judges. This guy sounded like he was entirely qualified for the job. When Dianne Feinstein made her announcement about the super-secret mystery letter by the anonymous woman that she had sent to the FBI, I thought it was a Hail Mary pass aimed at scotching the nomination, the kind of distasteful tactic that makes people hate politics.”
    • In Evaluating Credibility, the Signs Point in Brett Kavanaugh’s Favor (Dan McLaughlin, National Review): “It’s always a good idea, in politics, to evaluate accusations against your friends as if they were made against your enemies, and to evaluate accusations against your enemies as if they were made against your friends.” This is a very thorough argument.
  2. The Unlikely Endurance of Christian Rock (Kelefah Sanneh, The New Yorker): “On Billboard’s list of the twenty most popular rock songs of 2017, fully half of them were by bands whose members have espoused the Christian faith.” A striking claim, but you have to count Mormons as Christians for the math to work. A fascinating and well-researched article nonetheless.
  3. The Tiny Blond Bible Teacher Taking on the Evangelical Political Machine (Emma Green, The Atlantic): “Whereas her criticisms of church leaders were once veiled, she now speaks her mind freely. She blogged icily about meeting a prominent male theologian who looked her up and down and told her she was prettier than another famous female Bible teacher. She has castigated the evangelical movement for selling its soul to buy political wins. “
  4. The Other Political Correctness (Isaac Stone Fish, The New Republic): “There is an epidemic of self-censorship at U.S. universities on the subject of China, one that limits debate and funnels students and academics away from topics likely to offend the Chinese Communist Party.”
    • From someone not worried about offending China: The People’s Republic of Cruelty (Bret Stephens, New York Times): “In the list of what ails China — slowing growth; corrupt officialdom; a declining birth rate; a trade war with the U.S.; Xi Jinping’s cult of personality; the inherent disconnect between a politics of repression and the spirit of innovation — the regime’s war on the soul doesn’t usually rank high. But it matters most. It means the regime has made an enemy of the one thing it cannot kill, capture, eradicate or cure. At some point it will either have to abandon the struggle or destroy itself in the effort, much as the Soviet Union did.”
  5. So a Chicago priest who was once abused burns a rainbow-cross flag: All heck breaks out (Terry Mattingly, GetReligion): the title is clickbaity, but the article delivers. “Well, here is a hot-button story if I’ve ever seen one.”
  6. The Liberalism of the Religious Right (Emily Ekins, New York Times): “Religion appears to actually be moderating conservative attitudes, particularly on some of the most polarizing issues of our time: race, immigration and identity. Churchgoing Trump voters have more favorable feelings toward African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Jews, Muslims and immigrants compared with nonreligious Trump voters. This holds up even while accounting for demographic factors like education and race.“ Recommended by an alumnus.
  7. What Do We Owe Her Now? (Elizabeth Bruenig, Washington Post): “‘The examination that I did was consistent with what [Wyatt] said,’ [Nurse] Schiavo told me when I contacted her this May to discuss her finding. ‘That girl was raped.’ As I read her exam notes aloud to her over the phone, Schiavo began to fill in details on her own. She remembered Wyatt’s case all these years later, right down to the fact that she was never called to court to testify about it.” This is a depressing story, well-researched.
    • The follow-up is more encouraging: Amber Wyatt told her story of rape. This is how the world responded. (Elizabeth Bruenig, Washington Post): “The day after her 29th birthday, which was also the day after her story first appeared online, Amber Wyatt, now Wilson, stood in the shower in her San Marcos home and sobbed — hard, wrenching, wrung-out tears. They had been a long time in coming.”

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 On Political Correctness (William Deresiewicz, The American Scholar): a long and thoughtful article. “Selective private colleges have become religious schools. The religion in question is not Methodism or Catholicism but an extreme version of the belief system of the liberal elite: the liberal professional, managerial, and creative classes, which provide a large majority of students enrolled at such places and an even larger majority of faculty and administrators who work at them. To attend those institutions is to be socialized, and not infrequently, indoctrinated into that religion…. I say this, by the way, as an atheist, a democratic socialist, a native northeasterner, a person who believes that colleges should not have sports teams in the first place—and in case it isn’t obvious by now, a card-carrying member of the liberal elite.” (first shared in volume 92)

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 169

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

This one is coming to you from Seoul. I’ve been super busy on this mission trip, so these are selected from a less wide range than normal.

  1. The Ideological Blindness at the Heart of Media Bias (David French, National Review): “It is consistently interesting to me that mainstream media outlets have somehow convinced themselves of two contradictory things at once: 1) They cannot fairly cover America without a newsroom that more or less looks like America, but 2) they can cover American without a newsroom that thinks like America.”
  2. God Doesn’t Turn A Blind Eye To Abuse, Neither Should The Church (Russell Moore, Gospel Coalition): “Many throughout the centuries have sought to protect the reputation of God by downplaying his wrath. To some degree, the impulse here is good, because many have a false view of God as an angry, sullen, punitive deity, not as the God of overflowing love Jesus revealed to us. God’s wrath isn’t a temper tantrum. On the other hand, those who point us away from the wrath of God do so at the peril of eclipsing God’s own revelation of himself as holy and just, the One who ‘does not leave the guilty unpunished’ (Ex. 34:7). At the cross, the apostle Paul wrote, God ‘condemned sin in the flesh’ (Rom. 8:3). This is important for us to know, especially those who have survived awful things…. At the cross, God’s wrath and God’s love come together. They don’t cancel one another out.”
  3. Remember those articles I shared about the horrific China crackdown on Muslims? Now they are turning their attention to Christians (although much less intensely — the situation with the Muslims has echoes of concentration camps).
    • China Bans Zion, Beijing’s Biggest House Church (Christianity Today): “Beijing authorities threatened to close Zion Church last month after the 1,500-member congregation, one of the Chinese capital’s largest house churches, refused to install surveillance cameras in its sanctuary. After services on Sunday, officials delivered on their threat to the unofficial Protestant congregation, which meets in a renovated hall in northern Beijing. Zion is now banned and its materials confiscated.…”
    • Group: Officials destroying crosses, burning bibles in China (AP News): “China’s government is ratcheting up a crackdown on Christian congregations in Beijing and several provinces, destroying crosses, burning bibles, shutting churches and ordering followers to sign papers renouncing their faith, according to pastors and a group that monitors religion in China.”
    • Church raided amid escalating crackdown (ChinaAid): “All across China, churches are facing pressures unprecedented since the reign of dictator Mao Zedong. In Henan, where a concentrated crackdown is occurring, seven ministers were arrested and then later released that evening…. Additionally, local officials in Wenzhou, Zhejiang distributed a form collecting information on the religious beliefs of middle school students and their parents. This could have dangerous repercussions, as Chinese regulations forbid parents from teaching religion to their children.”
    • China Mulls Major Restrictions on Online Ministries (Christianity Today): “Chinese Christians have one month to tell their government what they think of proposed new rules that ban the sharing of prayer, Bible reading, baptism, communion, and other forms of religious activity online.“
  4. Vice And Fire (Peter Hitchens, First Things): “As far as I can find out, ­Martin is a lapsed Roman Catholic and has quite banal views about how religion causes wars and God is a ‘giant invisible guy in the sky.’ I do not think he has set out to make an attack on Christianity. I do not think he especially likes it, but I suspect he has discarded it, and so he has written an account of a world in which it simply does not exist. His fantasy greatly disturbs me, because it helps to normalize the indifference to Christianity which is a far greater threat to it than active atheism.” This is an excellent critique of the hugely overrated Game Of Thrones.
  5. After Botham Jean’s shooting death, his Dallas church intent on seeking justice (Bobby Ross, Jr., The Christian Chronicle): “By all accounts, Botham Jean was a devoted man of faith with a ‘beautiful’ and ‘powerful’ singing voice. He was baptized at age 10 in his native St. Lucia and moved to the U.S. at age 19 to attend Harding University in Searcy, Ark., where he often led worship in chapel and served as a ministry intern with the College Church of Christ.”
    • Related: The Worst Police Shooting Yet (David French, National Review): “We ask police officers to be brave. We ask officers to face a much higher degree of danger than civilians. We ask them to show restraint even in the face of provocations and tense confrontations. There are countless among them who do all we ask, and more. But we also ask something else: that police officers be subject to the very laws they’re sworn to enforce.”
    • Related: End Qualified Immunity (David French, National Review): “A police officer killed a completely innocent man because of the officer’s inexcusable mistake. He escaped criminal prosecution. And then he even escaped civil liability — because of a little-known, judge-made legal doctrine called qualified immunity.” Note that French is writing about a different case in this article.
    • Related: Should Cops Be Immune From Lawsuits? (Matt Ford, The New Republic): “The problems with qualified immunity mirror a deeper and more disturbing trend in the law. Courts, which are supposed to be the great vindicators of Americans’ rights and liberties, are increasingly closed off to them.”
  6. California legislator shelves bill to ban paid ‘gay conversion therapy’ for adults (Melanie Mason, LA TImes): “The news of Low’s decision was lauded by opponents to the measure. Jonathan Keller, president of the socially conservative organization California Family Council, said his group was ‘inexpressibly grateful’ to Low for listening to religious communities.”
  7. Does Our Cultural Obsession With Safety Spell the Downfall of Democracy? (Thomas Chatterton Williams, New York Times): These are “‘the three Great Untruths’ of the current moment: ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you weaker’; ‘always trust your feelings’; ‘life is a battle between good people and evil people.’” This is a review of two books and is quite insightful.

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 some thoughts about slavery and the Bible – Does The Bible Support Slavery? (a lecture given by the warden of Tyndale House at Cambridge University, the link is to the video with notes) and Does God Condone Slavery In The Bible? (Part One – Old Testament) and also Part Two – New Testament (longer pieces from Glenn Miller at Christian Thinktank). All three are quite helpful. (first shared in volume 76)

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 167

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

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The Catholic Church is facing a tremendous crisis, one potentially far bigger than any I have seen in my lifetime. There’s been a lot of ink spilled about it. Here are some pieces I found illuminating.
    • Protestants Should Care Deeply about the Catholic Catastrophe (David French, National Review): “The Church is like a navy, a collection of ships united in purpose and in destination. Each denomination is like a different ship in that navy, and while each crew is primarily tasked with the health and well-being of its own vessel, it’s also deeply invested in the strength of the fleet. Each vessel is more vulnerable as the fleet weakens. Each vessel is stronger surrounded by its protective armada. If the analogy holds, then one of the mightiest battleships in the fleet, the Catholic Church, is taking torpedoes left and right.”
    • A Catholic Civil War? (Matthew Schmitz, New York Times): “…the Catholic Church has been plunged into all-out civil war. On one side are the traditionalists, who insist that abuse can be prevented only by tighter adherence to church doctrine. On the other side are the liberals, who demand that the church cease condemning homosexual acts and allow gay priests to step out of the closet.” This may sound like hyperbole, but I believe it is accurate.
    • Catholics Face A Painful Question: Is It True? (Elizabeth Bruenig, Washington Post): “In his statements on Viganò’s testimony last Sunday, Francis invited journalists to use their skills and capacities to draw conclusions about the matter. And so, on Monday morning, I began to try.” This is sad. It seems the only person doing actual journalism on this for a major newspaper is… an opinion columnist. It stinks to high heaven that the major papers aren’t ferociously pursuing this.
    • What Did Pope Francis Know? (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “this doesn’t mean that the pope should resign — not even if Viganò is fully vindicated. One papal resignation per millennium is more than enough. That cop-out should not be easily available to pontiffs confronted with scandals, including scandals of their own making, any more than it should be available to fathers.”
    • Answering Vigano’s Critics (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “Again: if the allegations are false, you say, ‘They’re false.’ But that’s not what the Pope said. At all. If the Pope thinks he can ignore Vigano as he has ignored the dubia cardinals, he is gravely mistaken.”
    • Story of bombshell charges against Pope more surreal by the minute (John L. Allen, Jr., Crux): “If there’s one thing anyone who’s covered the Vatican for a long time ought to have learned by now, it’s never to say a particular story just can’t get anymore surreal, because trust me — it always can.”
  2. The School Shootings That Weren’t (Anya Kamenetz, Alexis Arnold, and Emily Cardinali, NPR): Difficult to excerpt the key data, so here’s the summary: schools reported 240 shootings in the 2015–2016 school year, but NPR followed up and was only able to verify 11. How did this happen? “the law of really, really big numbers. Temkin notes that ‘240 schools is less than half of 1 percent,’ of the schools in the survey. ‘It’s in the margin of error.’”
  3. There was a revealing kerfluffle at Brown University.
    • Rapid-onset gender dysphoria in adolescents and young adults: A study of parental reports (Lisa Littman, PLOS ONE): “The elevated number of friends per friendship group who became transgender-identified, the pattern of cluster outbreaks of transgender-identification in these friendship groups, the substantial percentage of friendship groups where the majority of the members became transgender-identified, and the peer group dynamics observed all serve to support the plausibility of social and peer contagion for ROGD [Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria]. The worsening of mental well-being and parent-child relationships and behaviors that isolate teens from their parents, families, non-transgender friends and mainstream sources of information are particularly concerning. More research is needed to better understand rapid-onset gender dysphoria, its implications, and scope.” The research paper in question.
    • Journal Looking Into Study on ‘Rapid-Onset Gender Dysphoria’ (Colleen Flaherty, Inside Higher Ed): “Brown University and PLOS ONE have distanced themselves from a controversial, peer-reviewed published study on ‘rapid-onset gender dysphoria,’ or gender identity issues that present not early and over a lifetime but quickly, in teenagers and young adults.” This is the neutral take.
    • New paper ignites storm over whether teens experience ‘rapid onset’ of transgender identity (Meredith Wadman, Science): “The actions by the journal and the university have infuriated some researchers who say the moves trample academic freedom, although the paper remains freely available. ‘This is a sad day for @BrownUniversity, and an indictment of the integrity of their academic and administrative leadership,’ Jeffrey Flier, a former dean of Harvard Medical School in Boston and a professor of medicine there, tweeted on Monday.” This is a slightly more feisty take.
    • Ryan T. Anderson on Twitter: “If this is the sort of censorship that takes place out in the open, just image what’s taking place behind closed doors. All because this research reached politically incorrect conclusion. But when lives are at stake, it’s more important to be correct than politically correct.” A feisty and I suspect very accurate take.
  4. The French, Coming Apart (Christopher Caldwell, City Journal): “Since Tocqueville, we have understood that our democratic societies are emulative. Nobody wants to be thought a bigot if the membership board of the country club takes pride in its multiculturalism. But as the prospect of rising in the world is hampered or extinguished, the inducements to ideological conformism weaken. Dissent appears. Political correctness grows more draconian. Finally the ruling class reaches a dangerous stage, in which it begins to lose not only its legitimacy but also a sense of what its legitimacy rested on in the first place.” This is a fascinating article that’s sort of about France, sort of about America, and mostly about Western modernity.
  5. China Is Treating Islam Like A Mental Illness (Sigal Samuel, The Atlantic): “The medical analogy is one way the government tries to justify its policy of large-scale internment: After all, attempting to inoculate a whole population against, say, the flu, requires giving flu shots not just to the already-afflicted few, but to a critical mass of people. In fact, using this rhetoric, China has tried to defend a system of arrest quotas for Uighurs. Police officers confirmed to Radio Free Asia that they are under orders to meet specific population targets when rounding up people for internment. In one township, police officials said they were being ordered to send 40 percent of the local population to the camps.” I’ve mentioned this before, but it truly is one of the scandals of the modern world.
  6. With Flowers In Their Hair (Andrew Ferguson, The Weekly Standard): “The seeds of the destruction of the Haight experiment could be found in its own antinomianism, in its original inspiration. Maybe the wholesale rejection of time-honored and time-tested values — monogamy, moderation, good manners, self-denial, self-control, the sanctity of private property, personal accountability to higher authorities, both material and spiritual — leads to squalor and misery. Maybe the project they’re celebrating in San Francisco this summer was doomed from the start.” Long and good.
  7. America Soured on My Multiracial Family (David French, The Atlantic): “There are three fundamental, complicating truths about adoption. First, every single adoption begins with profound loss. Through death, abandonment, or even loving surrender, a child suffers the loss of his or her mother and father. Second, the demographics of those in need of loving homes do not precisely match the demographics of those seeking a new child. Adoptive parents are disproportionately white. Adopted children are not. Thus, multiracial families are a natural and inevitable consequence of the adoption process. Third, American culture has long been obsessed with questions of race and identity.”

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have The world will only get weirder (Steven Coast, personal blog): “We fixed all the main reasons aircraft crash a long time ago. Sometimes a long, long time ago. So, we are left with the less and less probable events.” The piece is a few years old so the examples are dated, but it remains very intriguing. (first shared in volume 67)

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 those of any organization I work for or 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.