Fridays (this did go to my Substack on Friday, but my website crashed and I only just got it back up) I share articles/resources about broad cultural, societal and theological issues. Be sure to see the explanation and disclaimers at the bottom. I welcome your suggestions. If you read something fascinating please pass it my way.
This is volume 385, which is 5 x 7 x 11. That feels cool to me and I don’t know exactly why.
Things Glen Found Interesting
- How Tall Would a Stack of New Testament Manuscripts Be? (Daniel B. Wallace, personal blog): “If you could stack up all handwritten manuscripts of the New Testament—Greek, Syriac, Latin, Coptic, all languages—how tall would the stack be? I was recently challenged on my numbers in a Facebook discussion in the group ‘New Testament Textual Criticism.’ I have said in many lectures that it would be the equivalent of c. 4 & 1/2 Empire State Buildings stacked on top of each other. How did I come up with that number?”
- A Poet for ‘Bruised Evangelicals’ (Kara Bettis, Christianity Today): “My publisher was very reluctant to take on my book, because ‘Nobody’s writing sonnets now, and young people won’t like that,’ ” Guite told me at a sandwich shop in Vancouver. “But actually, it turns out that’s exactly what they like, because it’s precisely not a tweet.”
- What’s Up with Weird Bible Sex? (Dru Johnson, Christianity Today): “Anyone who reads the Bible today may be tempted to skip over the sex. It can seem too crude, too impolite, or at least not spiritually edifying for our morning devotions. But I want to argue that we should read the Bible that we have and take it seriously. Even the R‑rated bits. When you read Genesis, pay attention to the details of the sex. They are trying to teach us about the nature of our bodies and communities before God.”
- How Stanford Failed the Academic Freedom Test (Jay Battacharya, Tablet Magazine): “Faculty at Stanford should rightly worry whether their professional work will lead to deplatforming, excommunication, and political targeting. In this environment, professors and students alike would be wise to look over their shoulders at all times, in the knowledge that the university no longer has your back. And members of the public should understand that many of those urging them to ‘trust the science’ on complicated matters of public concern are also those working to ensure that ‘the science’ never turns up answers that they don’t like.” Dr. Battacharya is both a believer and a professor at Stanford.
- Kinda related: How DEI Is Supplanting Truth as the Mission of American Universities (John Sailer, The Free Press): “One medical researcher at an elite institution who requested anonymity told me that grants for medical research increasingly use veiled ideological language that focuses on issues such as health equity and racial disparities. ‘The answer is preordained: The cause of disparities is racism,’ he told me. ‘If you find some other explanation, even if it’s technically correct, that’s problematic.’ This fixation can have a stultifying effect on medical research, and eventually medical care, the researcher told me. ‘We’re abdicating our responsibility. We’re creating fake research and fake standards, aligning ideology with medicine, and undermining our basic ability to engage in meaningful sensemaking.’”
- Why is progress in biology so slow? (Sam Rodriques, personal blog): “The biomedical literature is vast and suffers from three problems: it does not lend itself to summarization in textbooks; it is unreliable by commission; and it is unreliable by omission. The first problem is simple: biology is too diverse. Every disease, every gene, every organism, and every cell type is its own grand challenge. The second problem is trickier — some things in the literature are simply wrong, made up by trainees or professors who were desperate to publish rather than perish. But it is the third problem that is really pernicious: many things in the literature are uninterpretable or misleading due to the omission of key details by the authors, intentional or otherwise. Authors may report a new, general strategy for targeting nanoparticles to cells expressing specific receptor proteins and show that it works for HER2 and EGFR, while declining to mention that it does not work for any one of the 20 other receptors they tried.“Excellent reflections on how AI will and will not help with medical/etc research. The author holds a PhD from MIT and is biotech researcher and entrepreneur.
- I’m homeless in California. And I have an easy, cost-free solution to homelessness (Lydia Blumberg, Sacramento Bee): “One thing that would dramatically improve the lives of unhoused people in California could be done today, wouldn’t cost taxpayers any money and would require no effort by politicians or city workers. It’s as simple as a governor or mayor uttering three words: Stop sweeps now. Each time a homeless camp is dismantled, people’s lives are destroyed. All the effort we put into creating a home — we do not actually consider ourselves homeless because our camp is our home — is wiped away. Our worldly possessions, including identification, medical records, family heirlooms, clothing, electronics, furniture, instruments, bedding, tents, tools and other items that we use to earn income, are literally thrown into garbage trucks. Our handmade shelters are smashed by giant machines as we watch.”
- Yes, Critical Race Theory Is Being Taught in Schools (Zach Goldberg & Eric Kaufmann, City Journal): “We began by asking our 18- to 20-year-old respondents (82.4 percent of whom reported attending public schools) whether they had ever been taught in class or heard about from an adult at school each of six concepts—four of which are central to critical race theory. The chart below, which displays the distribution of responses for each concept, shows that ‘been taught’ is the modal response for all but one of the six concepts. For the CRT-related concepts, 62 percent reported either being taught in class or hearing from an adult in school that ‘America is a systemically racist country,’ 69 percent reported being taught or hearing that ‘white people have white privilege,’ 57 percent reported being taught or hearing that ‘white people have unconscious biases that negatively affect non-white people,’ and 67 percent reported being taught or hearing that ‘America is built on stolen land.’ ”
Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen
- Crypto Hobo (Dilbert)
- Jesus Heals Lame Man By Giving Him Dope Shades And Cool Leather Jacket (Babylon Bee)
- Nation Devastated As Congress Resumes Functioning (Babylon Bee)
- Speaking About Race (Pearls Before Swine)
- Certainty (SMBC)
- Noah’s Ark (The Far Side)
- Stanford admin discourages swimming in Lake Lagunita for fear of Lag Ness Monster (Om Jahagirdar, Stanford Daily): “Though your foolish, naive instincts may be to do lake activities at the lake, it is incredibly important to refrain from entering Lake Lagunita in light of several sightings of the Lag Ness Monster.”
- Radical Conspiracy Theorist Says Most Mental Health Problems Can Be Solved With Exercise, Fresh Air, Spending Time With Family (Babylon Bee): sometimes meds are essential, but yeah.
- You Make Me Better (Nathan W. Pyle, Twitter)
Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago
Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have How I Rediscovered Faith (Malcolm Gladwell, Relevant Magazine): “I have always believed in God. I have grasped the logic of Christian faith. What I have had a hard time seeing is God’s power. I put that sentence in the past tense because something happened to me…” From volume 261. It’s been paywalled since I first shared it. There is a substantive excerpt at https://aleteia.org/2020/08/02/author-malcolm-gladwell-relates-how-he-re-found-christianity/
Why Do You Send This Email?
In the time of King David, the tribe of Issachar produced shrewd warriors “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chron 12:32). In a similar way, we need to become wise people whose faith interacts with the world. I pray this email gives you greater insight, so that you may continue the tradition of Issachar.
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.