Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 370

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

This is volume 370, a narcissistic number (sometimes also called an Armstrong number). It has three digits, and when you raise each digit to the third power they sum to the original number: 370 = 33 + 73 + 03. There are only 88 narcissistic numbers in base 10, and only 4 of those have three digits (153, 370, 371, and 407).

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. YouTube May Force You to Watch 10 (or More) Unskippable Ads in a Row (Ted Gioia, Substack): “This, my friends, is the web we asked for. We wanted everything for free—but what we really got was a swamp where all the costs are still there, just hidden. And the experience we have gained from other industries where prices are mostly hidden from view—healthcare is the most obvious example, but of course there are others—is that this usually turns out to be the most expensive transaction of them all.”
    • This is really good!
  2. For Suburban Texas Men, a Workout Craze With a Side of Faith (Ruth Graham, New York Times): “This is F3 — that’s fitness, fellowship and faith — a fast-growing network of men’s workouts that combine exercise with spiritually inflected camaraderie.… I first heard about F3 through a few acquaintances in Texas, men who spoke about their local groups with the zeal of evangelists. It reminded me of how urban women used to talk with me about SoulCycle, only these guys were suburban fathers.”
    • A Short Story of Men (David French, The Dispatch): “What is the short story of modern men? Life has changed forever. Ideologues pull men and boys into destructive and unsustainable extremes. Yet virtuous purpose can still be found in the fundamental building blocks of the good life. Only a man can be a husband, only a man can be a father, and men need male friends. If a man can fill those roles with integrity and courage, then doubts about his masculinity should not ever darken his heart.”
    • This is a response piece inspired by the above story about F3.
  3. The Cherokee Nation is again calling on Congress to deliver on a 200-year-old promise (Harmeet Kaur, CNN): “The Cherokee Nation is renewing its campaign for representation in Congress, calling on federal legislators to honor a treaty that the US government made nearly 200 years ago. In a video released last week, the tribal nation reasserted its demand that Congress seat its delegate in the House of Representatives – a right stipulated by the 1835 Treaty of New Echota.”
    • From what I can tell this is a legit claim: the treaty was approved by the US Senate even though shady things happened on the the Cherokee side (the treaty was entered into by Cherokees not authorized to negotiate on behalf of their tribe). I don’t know why this is controversial: America took the land, we need to honor all the terms of the deal.
  4. ‘Out of control’ STD situation prompts call for changes (Mike Stobbe, Associated Press): “New syphilis infections plummeted in the U.S. starting in the 1940s when antibiotics became widely available. They fell to their lowest ever by 1998, when fewer than 7,000 new cases were reported nationwide. The CDC was so encouraged by the progress it launched a plan to eliminate syphilis in the U.S. But by 2002 cases began rising again, largely among gay and bisexual men, and they kept going. In late 2013, CDC ended its elimination campaign in the face of limited funding and escalating cases, which that year surpassed 17,000. By 2020 cases had reached nearly 41,700 and they spiked even further last year, to more than 52,000.”
    • That’s a 26% jump just last year!
    • As STD rates explode, are we still sure God’s way isn’t better? (Peter Heck, Not The Bee): “There’s more to the Christian sexual ethic than a despotic list of don’ts. There’s a holistic and healthy ideal that includes recognizing the person you are dating is someone’s future spouse and should be treated with the same dignity that we would want another treating our future spouse. There’s an enduring commendation of the formation of lifelong, loving relationships built not upon tawdry lusts but self-sacrificial commitment; the recognition that love is not something we feel, but something we do. There’s a self-control that protects humanity and liberates it from sickness and suffering. It’s God’s way…”
    • I often think upon this fact: if the Christian sexual ethic were universally observed for one generation STDs would be essentially eliminated.
  5. Illiberalism Is For (Cultural) Losers (Brian Mattson, Substack): “Illiberalism, the deep desire to deny to others their rights of conscience and belief and property that we ourselves enjoy and to force them into conformity to our vision of the common good by way of coercive State power is the last resort of losers. Cultural losers. Abigail Adams would judge that such people are unfit for liberty; or at least they are people who can’t accomplish anything fruitful with it. I have a better idea. Reform our weak institutions, and where we cannot, we build better ones and be cultural winners.”
  6. An ‘us’ vs. ‘them’ mentality on campuses turns potential friends into allies — or enemies (Pamela Paresky and Samuel J. Abrams, Boston Globe): “According to an NBC poll released in August, only 20 percent of college sophomores surveyed said they can definitely see themselves rooming with someone who voted differently than they did in the 2020 presidential election. And more than half said they probably or definitely couldn’t see themselves dating such a student. Campus culture seems to further social disconnection rather than foster friendship across the political divide.”
    • The authors are scholars of psychology and politics, respectively. I read this one mostly because the thumbnail preview is of Stanford.
  7. The ‘Lizzo Playing James Madison’s Flute’ Controversy: A Blogger’s Analysis (Nick Catoggio, The Dispatch): “H ad you heard of Madison’s flute before Lizzo played it? I hadn’t. I’d heard of her but not it. It was she who lent celebrity to the instrument, not vice versa. You may find that dispiriting, although I’m not sure why any of us should have baseline knowledge about a random gift given to James Madison that played no meaningful role in American history. Me, I’m thrilled to have learned about it via this episode. A crystal flute! Made for the father of the Constitution! Played for the first time in 200 years by a celebrity—totally randomly! It wouldn’t surprise me if it turns out to have magical powers and Lizzo has now been possessed by Madison’s ghost. Which, if so, would make her next concert a must-see. But I digress. The last reason this story is instant blog fodder is because, per the foregoing, it’s quirky as all hell.”

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 Nuclear Family Was a Mistake (David Brooks, The Atlantic): “If you want to summarize the changes in family structure over the past century, the truest thing to say is this: We’ve made life freer for individuals and more unstable for families. We’ve made life better for adults but worse for children. We’ve moved from big, interconnected, and extended families, which helped protect the most vulnerable people in society from the shocks of life, to smaller, detached nuclear families (a married couple and their children), which give the most privileged people in society room to maximize their talents and expand their options. The shift from bigger and interconnected extended families to smaller and detached nuclear families ultimately led to a familial system that liberates the rich and ravages the working-class and the poor.” Highly recommended. From volume 238.

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 365

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

This is volume 365, which is the number of days in most years. In other words, I’ve done the equivalent of working on this email daily for a year. In reality I just add a little bit every day as I’m reading things, but it’s still a big statistic.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. I’m 30. The Sexual Revolution Shackled My Generation. (Louise Perry, Bari Weiss’s Substack): “We need to re-erect the social guard rails that have been torn down. To do that, we have to start by stating the obvious: Sex must be taken seriously. Men and women are different. Some desires are bad. Consent is not enough. Violence is not love. Loveless sex is not empowering. People are not products. Marriage is good. And, above all, listen to your mother.”
    • Warning: the header picture is risque but the article is worth it. The author is not a Christian and unsurprisingly comes to some non-Christian conclusions — still fascinating to see a forceful secular rejection of the sexual revolution.
  2. Racism-related:
    • Black couple sues after they say home valuation rises nearly $300,000 when shown by White colleague (Justin Gamble and Virginia Langmaid, CNN): “Connolly and Mott later re-applied with another lender, and ‘whitewashed’ their home, according to the lawsuit. This included removing photos of their Black family from the home, and having a White colleague present the property to the appraiser. The suit claims this valuation came back at $750,000, more than a quarter of a million dollars higher than 20/20 Valuations’ appraisal of $472,000.”
    • In California’s largest race bias cases, Latino workers are accused of abusing Black colleagues (Margot Roosevelt, Los Angeles Times): “Though the agency tracks the race and ethnicity of victims, it does not compile official statistics on offenders. Nor are there databases of private cases categorized by perpetrators’ race. This makes it hard to gauge the extent of anti-Black hostility from Latino workers. But court filings, victims’ allegations and employer records show that in the last decade, about a third of anti-Black bias suits filed by the EEOC’s Los Angeles and San Francisco offices involved discrimination by Latinos, about a third involved white offenders and a third were unspecific.”
  3. Christian Political Ethics Are Upside Down (David French, The Dispatch): “…both the Republican and Democratic parties are utterly dependent upon their most devout members for their electoral success. As I’ve noted before, nonwhite Democrats (and especially black Democrats) are among the most God-fearing, churchgoing members of American society. At the same time, the Republican Party would be irrelevant without its own white Evangelical base. The bottom line is that Christians in both parties have absolute veto power over (at the very least) the party’s national candidates.”
  4. Silent crisis of soaring excess deaths gripping Britain is only tip of the iceberg (Sarah Knapton, The Telegraph via Yahoo News): “For 14 of the past 15 weeks, England and Wales have averaged around 1,000 extra deaths each week, none of which are due to Covid. If the current trajectory continues, the number of non-Covid excess deaths will soon outstrip deaths from the virus this year – and be even more deadly than the omicron wave. So what is going on? Experts believe decisions taken by the Government in the earliest stages of the pandemic may now be coming back to bite. Policies that kept people indoors, scared them away from hospitals and deprived them of treatment and primary care are finally taking their toll.”
  5. The Rise of the Worker Productivity Score (Jodi Kantor and Arya Sundaram, New York Times): “…two years ago, her employer started requiring chaplains to accrue more of what it called ‘productivity points.’ A visit to the dying: as little as one point. Participating in a funeral: one and three-quarters points. A phone call to grieving relatives: one-quarter point.”
  6. Good conversations have lots of doorknobs (Adam Mastroianni, Substack): “Conversational affordances are things like digressions and confessions and bold claims that beg for a rejoinder. Talking to another person is like rock climbing, except you are my rock wall and I am yours. If you reach up, I can grab onto your hand, and we can both hoist ourselves skyward. Maybe that’s why a really good conversation feels a little bit like floating. What matters most, then, is not how much we give or take, but whether we offer and accept affordances.” The author has a PhD in psychology from Harvard and is doing a postdoc at Columbia studying conversations.
    • Related: Why Your Social Life Is Not What It Should Be (David Brooks, New York Times): “…most of us are systematically mistaken about how much we will enjoy a social encounter. Commuters expected to have less pleasant rides if they tried to strike up a conversation with a stranger. But their actual experience was precisely the opposite. People randomly assigned to talk with a stranger enjoyed their trips consistently more than those instructed to keep to themselves. Introverts sometimes go into these situations with particularly low expectations, but both introverts and extroverts tended to enjoy conversations more than riding solo.”
  7. Put Down the Woke Man’s Burden (James Hankins, First Things): “The Harvard being whipped along by the administrative caste, by contrast, resembles the Children’s Crusade of the Middle Ages: wrong cause, wrong army. And it ends up attacking the wrong enemies.” The author is a history professor at Harvard.
    • Related: Harvard’s Status as Wealthiest School Faces Oil-Rich Contender in the University of Texas (Janet Lorin & Sergio Chapa, Bloomberg): “Oil reached a high of $120 a barrel earlier this year as a result of a war-induced energy crunch. The revenue is expected to help narrow the gap between the Texas system’s $42.9 billion endowment and Harvard’s $53.2 billion as of June 2021. ‘The University of Texas has a cash windfall when everyone is looking at a potential cash crunch,’ said William Goetzmann, a professor of finance and management studies at Yale University’s School of Management. ‘Adjusting your portfolio for social concerns is not costless.’ ”

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 Too much transparency makes the world more opaque. (Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution): “The demand for transparency seems so innocuous. Who could be against greater transparency? But transparency is inimical to privacy. And we care about privacy in part, because we can be more honest and truthful in private than in public.”First shared in volume 233.

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 361

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

This is volume 361, which is also the number of intersections on a Go board.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Actually Good AI-Generated Bible Art with DALL·E 2 (John Dyer, personal blog): “The GPT‑3 prompts I used evolved over time, but this one is emblematic: Suggest 5 unique concept ideas for a work of visual art inspired by Luke 14:7–11 (do not pick the place of honor) in the Bible. Include art direction and a specific medium and artist to emulate. Include artists from a variety of eras, styles, and media. Try for an unusual perspective. Title, year, medium. Description.”
    • Some of these are stunning. Recommended.
  2. Religion Is Dying? Don’t Believe It (Byron R. Johnson & Jeff Levin, Wall Street Journal): “Data from five recent U.S. population surveys point to the vibrancy, ubiquity and growth of religion in the U.S. Americans are becoming more religious, and religious institutions are thriving. Consistent with some previous studies but contrary to widely held assumptions, many people who report no religious affiliation—and even many self-identified atheists and agnostics—exhibit substantial levels of religious practice and belief.”
    • The authors are professors of social science and epidemiology, respectively. I one hundred percent believe this report. The so-called “rise of the nones” is mostly the result of confirmation bias by secular academics and journalists who find religiously committed people annoying.
    • This WSJ article (which I think is paywalled) is based on the freely available scholarly article: Are Religious “Nones” Really Not Religious?: Revisiting Glenn, Three Decades Later (Levin et al, Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion): “The use of words and phrases such as none, no religion, and not religious to describe this group of unaffiliated individuals is thus inappropriate, inaccurate, and misleading.”
  3. Which Sins Are Feeding Your Sin of Lust? (David Powlison, Crossway): “Tom concentrated all his attention on one marquee sin that surfaced sporadically, defining and energizing all his guilty feelings. But that narrowing of attention served to mask far more serious, pervasive sins. As a pastor, friend, or other counselor, you don’t want to concentrate all your energies in the same place Tom did. There were other, deeper opportunities for grace and truth to rewrite the script of this man’s life.”
  4. A Media-Fueled Social Panic Over Unmarked Graves (Jonathan Kay, Quillette): “It’s now been 14 months since the original announcement was made about presumed graves in Kamloops, and no physical evidence has been unearthed. No graves. No corpses. No human remains.… I’ve been in journalism for a quarter century, and have witnessed plenty of bizarre controversies within my trade. But I’ve never witnessed anything similar to this phenomenon. It’s like one of those case-studies in mass hysteria and popular delusion that you read about in history books.”
    • This is not a claim that bad things didn’t happen. It’s more of a claim that the specific bad things that are alleged didn’t happen or that they didn’t happen on the scale widely reported.
  5. China related:
  6. NHS will SHUT its controversial Tavistock transgender clinic for children after damning report warned it was ‘not safe’ (John Ely and Laurence Dollimore, The Daily Mail): “It follows an announcement last month that every child treated for gender dysphoria in the last decade will have their medical records scrutinised to see if NHS care is causing them more harm than good.”
  7. Hot Takes Don’t Belong in Church (Chris Nye, Christianity Today): “So long as we are creating a palatable statement for social media or Sunday’s sermon, we are not praying, worshiping, or organizing ourselves for meaningful action. But in today’s culture, the appearance of morality is more important than moral actions, and speaking is more highly valued than praying.”
    • This is full of good points. Chris is an acquaintance of mine.

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 This Cultural Moment (podcast): I listened to this podcast about following Jesus in the post-Christian world upon the recommendation of some alumni and a student. It’s quite good. Definitely start with episode 1. First shared in volume 231.

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 354

there’s a really fun optical illusion at the end as a reward for persevering

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

This is volume 354, which is the sum of the first four 4th powers: 14+24+34+44 = 1+16+81+256=354.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. When to Distrust Your Pastor (Garrett Kell, Gospel Coalition): “Shepherds should be known by their sheep. Appearing in the pulpit is only a small part of a pastor’s responsibility. If church members lack any visibility into their pastors’ lives, they are unable to ‘consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith’ (Heb. 13:7).”
  2. Concerning marriage:
    • The benefits of marriage shouldn’t only be for elites (Brad Wilcox, Deseret News): “We’re thinking here of the way in which the U.S. military has increased the rate of marriage among its ranks, many of whom are from working-class backgrounds. What’s also interesting is the research suggests there is virtually no racial gap in marriage in the military. Whites and Blacks marry at about the same rate. What’s the military’s secret? It provides great benefits and doesn’t give them to cohabiting couples. In other words, it privileges marriage. The rest of the government should do likewise.” Interesting throughout.
    • I Married the Wrong Person, and I’m So Glad I Did (Tish Harrison Warren, New York Times): “I want to normalize significant periods of confusion, exhaustion, grief and unfulfillment in marriage. There’s an older couple I know who are in their fifth decade of marriage. They are funny and kind and, by almost any standard, the picture of #relationshipgoals. Early on in our marriage they told us, ‘There are times in marriage when the Bible’s call to love your enemies and the call to love your spouse are the same call.’ ”
  3. Concerning Ukraine:
    • Western Leaders Ought to Take Escalation Over Ukraine Seriously (Michael Lopate and Bear Braumoeller, War On The Rocks): “Most wars will either be far less lethal or far more lethal than the median. The bottom 50 percent of wars have an average of about 2,900 battle deaths, while the top 50 percent have an average of 653,000, and it is effectively a coin-flip which half any given war will end up in. In Ukraine, after three months and with no end in sight, Western analysts estimate at least 20,000 fatalities, putting this war well into the top half of conflicts.”
      • The authors are political scientists at The Ohio State University (if you did not know, having “The” in the university’s name is very important to Ohions).
    • Of Sanctions and Strategic Bombers (Tanner Greer, personal blog): “This is most clear in our recent sanctions campaign against the Russians. As with strategic bombing, the entire enterprise is premised on exploiting a psychological and social divide between ruler and ruled that might not exist. Like our grandfathers before us, we have a difficult time accepting that the everyday citizen of an authoritarian regime might be motivated to sacrifice their lives and living standards for abstract, nationalist ideals. As in World War II, we deny these civilians culpability for the war while simultaneously devising tactics that make them the first target of our fury.”
      • This is an interesting critique of economic sanctions as a tool in international relations.
  4. What America Needs Is a Liberalism That Builds (Ezra Klein, New York Times): “…the Empire State Building was constructed in just over a year. We are richer than we were then, and our technology far outpaces what was available in 1930. And yet does anyone seriously believe such a project would take a year today?”
  5. What Comes After the Religious Right? (Nate Hochman, New York Times): “Rather than invocations of Scripture, the right’s appeal is a defense of a broader, beleaguered American way of life. For example, the language of parental rights is rarely, if ever, religious, but it speaks to the pervasive sense that American families are fighting back against progressive ideologues over control of the classroom.”
  6. Your Kids Are Not Doomed (Ezra Klein, New York Times): “Over the past few years, I’ve been asked one question more than any other. It comes up at speeches, at dinners, in conversation. It’s the most popular query when I open my podcast to suggestions, time and again. It comes in two forms. The first: Should I have kids, given the climate crisis they will face? The second: Should I have kids, knowing they will contribute to the climate crisis the world faces?”
  7. The African Roots of the Day of Pentecost (Daniel Isgrigg, personal blog): “If Oden is right, the first Pentecostal church was in the home of an African disciple. Is it any wonder, then, that the modern Pentecostal Movement was launched by a prayer meeting at an African American home that was led by the a son of an African slave? Or that an African American mission on Azusa Street became the nexus for a global revival that changed Christianity? Or is it any wonder that African spirituality has shaped Pentecostal worship aesthetics such as shouting, dancing, and tarrying?  Finally, if Pentecost began in an African woman’s home, is it any wonder that Pentecostalism has included women as co-laborers and proclaimers of the gospel around the world?”

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 Too Much Dark Money in Almonds (Scott Alexander, Slate Star Codex): “Everyone always talks about how much money there is in politics. This is the wrong framing. The right framing is Ansolabehere et al’s: why is there so little money in politics? But Ansolabehere focuses on elections, and the mystery is wider than that. Sure, during the 2018 election, candidates, parties, PACs, and outsiders combined spent about $5 billion – $2.5 billion on Democrats, $2 billion on Republicans, and $0.5 billion on third parties. And although that sounds like a lot of money to you or me, on the national scale, it’s puny. The US almond industry earns $12 billion per year. Americans spent about 2.5x as much on almonds as on candidates last year.” It builds to a surprising twist. Highly recommended. First shared in volume 219.

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 352

a heartbreaking week

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

This is volume 352, which is (I am informed) the number of ways to place 9 queens on a 9×9 chessboard so that they cannot attack each other.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The Southern Baptist abuse crisis:
    • Southern Baptists Refused to Act on Abuse, Despite Secret List of Pastors (Kate Shellnutt, Christianity Today): “Guidepost Solutions, the third-party investigative firm, wants the 13-million-member denomination to create an online database of abusers, offer compensation for survivors, sharply limit non-disclosure agreements, and establish a new entity dedicated to responding to abuse. The directives in the 288-page report will sound familiar for survivors and advocates, who have been calling for those measures all along.”
    • This Is the Southern Baptist Apocalypse (Russell Moore, Christianity Today): “Indeed, the very ones who rebuked me and others for using the word crisis in reference to Southern Baptist sexual abuse not only knew that there was such a crisis but were quietly documenting it, even as they told those fighting for reform that such crimes rarely happened among “people like us.” When I read the back-and-forth between some of these presidents, high-ranking staff, and their lawyers, I cannot help but wonder what else this can be called but a criminal conspiracy.”
    • No Atheist Has Done This Much Damage to the Christian Faith (Peter Wehner, The Atlantic): “It’s nearly impossible to overstate how much damage these new revelations—these necessary and long-overdue revelations—are doing to the Christian witness. No atheist, no secularists or materialists, could inflict nearly as much damage to the Christian faith as these leaders within the Christian Church have done.“This is a general principle: skeptics rarely hurt the Church. Christians, though, hurt the Church all the time.
    • Avoiding Financial And Governance Disasters (Warren Cole Smith, Ministry Watch): “…in some very important ways, sexual abuse and sexual harassment in the church are effects. They are consequences. They are fruits, not the root, of the problem.So what’s the cause? It’s pretty un-glamorous. It doesn’t generate as many headlines, and when it does generate a headline, that headline tends to be ignored, or quickly forgotten. And that cause is money. More specifically, the love of money.… So, at a minimum, I think we evangelicals should be spending as much time understanding and uncovering financial fraud as we spend on sexual abuse and toxic leadership.”
    • How the ‘Apocalyptic’ Southern Baptist Report Almost Didn’t Happen (Bob Smietana, MinistryWatch): “In other words, the Executive Committee would be put in charge of investigating itself. Then-President J.D. Greear was ready to move on when Benkert stood up at a microphone with a motion of his own, based on another section of bylaw 29. ‘I would like the opportunity to make a motion to overrule the Committee on Order of Business at the appropriate time,’ he said. Benkert’s motion was met with applause. Then a second, and then almost all of the 15,000 local church delegates, known as messengers, raised their yellow voting cards in the air—far more than the two-thirds majority needed to overrule the committee.”
    • In reference to the immediately preceding article: knowing how the system works is really important. I’ve seen shady stuff happen at some meetings but wasn’t quick enough to get to the floor or wasn’t sure enough of the rules to intervene. In a business meeting knowledge truly is power.
    • In reference to the larger story, there are so many things happening here:
    • This is an occasion for lamentation. I have long said that the Protestant sexual abuse crisis will dwarf the Catholic Church’s (because we tend to have less control/screening of ministers) and that both will be dwarfed by the public school crisis (which is yet to fully reveal itself but I believe will be far worse).
    • The Southern Baptist executives genuinely had less control over the situation(s) than some of their critics allege, but they had far more control than they pretended and when they did act it was often to conceal wicked things.
    • The fact that the SBC commissioned this report and made it public is very much to their credit and over time will loom larger in the remembrance of this.
    • The scope of the abuse, while broad, appears to be less than I feared.
    •  The SBC legal team and the former executives come off looking like evil religious leaders written by a lazy hack writer. It’s staggeringly bad.
    • This entire debacle is germane to the Tim Keller/winsomeness debate: do we operate according to the standards of our culture or the standards of the Kingdom? Christ demands another way, and if that opens us up to negative cultural consequences (whether electoral defeats or ruinous lawsuits) then so be it.
  2. The school shooting:
    • A fourth-grader who survived the shooting says she smeared friend’s blood on herself to appear dead (Nora Neus, CNN): “Miah said she was scared the gunman would come back to kill her and a few other surviving friends. So, she put her hands in her friend’s blood, who laid next to her— and already looked dead—and then smeared it all over herself to appear dead.… She says afterwards, she overheard talk of police waiting outside the school. Recounting this during the interview, she started crying, saying she just didn’t understand why they didn’t come inside and get them.” Heartbreaking. Details are still coming out, and none of them are good.
    • Texas school shooter Salvador Ramos once cut up his face with knives ‘just for fun,’ friends say (Yaron Steinbuch, New York Post): “The gunman who slaughtered 19 kids and two teachers at a Texas elementary school reportedly exhibited increasingly bizarre behavior leading up to the rampage – including cutting up his face with knives just ‘for fun,’ friends said.”
    • Pass and Enforce Red Flag Laws. Now. (David French, The Dispatch): “Mass killings are their own thing. Mass shooters are frequently law-abiding, right up until the moment when they commit mass murder. Mass shootings are often meticulously planned, which means that they can circumvent common gun control laws. For example, the Buffalo shooter legally purchased the weapon he used and then illegally modified it to make it more lethal. So when we talk about common gun control proposals after mass shootings—whether we’re referring to expanded background checks, assault weapons bans, or limits on magazine capacity—the general rule is that none of those measures, even if implemented, would have actually prevented any recent mass shooting.” This is a thoughtful piece with a specific and constructive policy suggestion.
    • The Children Who Kill Children (Samuel D. James, First Things): “There are some who sneer at people, like me, who offer prayers in times like these. Prayer, they say, is non-action: an ineffective, meaningless piety meant to maintain the status quo on gun control. Yet it’s these same scoffers who instinctively pivot to the topic of gun control whenever a child takes the lives of other children, and their political rage is no less a religious recitation simply because they confuse Congress for God. An inability to talk about anything other than gun control threatens to deaden our lament and neutralize a vital conversation about why so many of our country’s most lost, most hateful people are boys with their whole lives ahead of them.” This is a strong article.
    • ‘The Onion’ has republished a grim headline about mass shootings 21 times since 2014 (Rachel Treisman, NPR): “There are a couple of inevitable responses to a mass shooting in America: funerals and fundraisers, prayers from politicians and the resurfacing of one particular article from satirical site The Onion. ‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens’ has been republished 21 times in almost exactly eight years.” The repetition of this headline has probably shifted more hearts than any other argument I am aware of.
  3. Covid was liberalism’s endgame (Matthew B. Crawford, Unherd): “The innovation achieved here is in the way government conceives its subjects: not as citizens whose considered consent must be secured, but as particles to be steered through a science of behaviour management that relies on our pre-reflective cognitive biases.”
  4. A Commitment to Kindness Does Not Mean Surrendering Your Convictions (David French, The Dispatch): “Time and again I read about how bad things are now, how vile the left has become, and how a commitment to ‘winsomeness’ or kindness is simply inadequate to the moment. Even worse, it’s sometimes seen as evidence of weakness or fear—an effort curry favor with people who hate you.  But the conversation consistently misconstrues what commitments to civility and decency do and don’t mean—that civility is somehow a shorthand for surrender on matters of deep conviction. It is not. Or that a commitment to civility implies an aversion to conflict and a timidity in the face of opposition. It does not.”
  5. The LGBTsQewing of America (Alexander Zubatov, The American Conservative): “We have strongly suggestive evidence, moreover, that social cues can play causal roles in swaying impressionable teens to adopt new sexual identities.… The simple message such research conveys is something that those of us who have not lost touch with our childhood and our awkward teen years will find unsurprising, and indeed, even obvious: Most kids and teens are works in progress and undecided and confused about many key aspects of their lives.”
  6. In Partial, Grudging Defense Of The Hearing Voices Movement (Scott Alexander, Astral Codex Ten): “I still remember a patient who asked me if I could cure his anxiety within a week. I told him absolutely not — medications take a few weeks to even kick in, and managing anxiety can be a lifelong process — and why did he need a cure in a week anyway? He said he was an inspirational speaker on the topic ‘How I Overcame My Anxiety’, and he had a speech scheduled next week, but was too anxious to work on it. I think about this person often.” Interesting throughout and the anecdote I excerpted is actually tangential to the main point.
  7. Why This Computer Scientist Says All Cryptocurrency Should “Die in a Fire” (Nathan Robinson interviewing Nicholas Weaver, Current Affairs): “Is it accurate to summarize what you were saying before as, essentially: There is no problem that cryptocurrency solves, and to the extent that it is functional, it does things worse than we can already do them with existing electronic payment systems. To the extent it has advantages, the advantage is doing crimes. And every other claim made for the superiority of cryptocurrency as currency falls apart if you scrutinize it.” This spicy meatball comes recommended by a student.
  8. Global religious persecution:
    • The faces from China’s Uyghur detention camps (John Sudworth, BBC): “The documents provide some of the strongest evidence to date for a policy targeting almost any expression of Uyghur identity, culture or Islamic faith — and of a chain of command running all the way up to the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping.”
    • Nigerian Christians Protest Deborah’s Death (Jayson Casper, Christianity Today): “Two weeks ago, in Nigeria’s northwestern-most state of Sokoto, Deborah Samuel was beaten to death and set on fire by fellow students at Shehu Shagari College of Education. Officials and police intervened in vain.”

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 Conservatives Clash on the Goal of Government (Jonathan Leeman, Providence): “There is no neutrality. The public square is a battleground of gods. Our culture wars are wars of religion. For the time being, liberalism keeps us from picking up sixteenth‐century swords for those wars, which is no small achievement. But don’t assume it won’t control us with the subtler tools of a twenty‐first century legal totalitarianism.” Insightful reflections on how Christians should form their political positions. First shared in volume 218.

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 347

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

This is volume 347, a Friedman number. That means it can be written as an equation comprised of its own digits (3+4=7).

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. What John Updike and Gerard Manley Hopkins knew about the power of Easter (Tish Harrison Warren, New York Times): “If Jesus wasn’t actually resurrected, then Easter is less real than the budding buzz of spring, less real than a dying breath, less real than my own hands, feet and skin. I have no interest in a Christianity that isn’t deeply, profoundly, irreducibly material.”
  2. Fragmentation Is Not What’s Killing Us (Russell Moore, Christianity Today): “[The breakdown at Babel] does indeed sound like now. But the lessons we learn will be wrong if we don’t see the primary point of the Babel story: The problem wasn’t the fragmentation. The problem was the unity.”
  3. China Covid #2 (Zvi Mowshowitz, Substack): “I want to emphasize that it is very difficult to know what is going on inside China and my sources for this are not the best. I find the Ukraine war a relative epistemic cakewalk compared to this. So please understand that the alarmist claims from various threads are to be taken with large heapings of salt.”
  4. Solve for the wartime presentation equilibrium (Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution): “The country’s IT Army, a volunteer force of hackers and activists that takes its direction from the Ukrainian government, says it has used [facial recognition searches] to inform the families of the deaths of 582 Russians, including by sending them photos of the abandoned corpses. The Ukrainians champion the use of face-scanning software from the U.S. tech firm Clearview AI as a brutal but effective way to stir up dissent inside Russia, discourage other fighters and hasten an end to a devastating war.” Technologies always have unexpected applications.
  5. Helping the Poor: The Great Distraction (Bryan Caplan, Substack): “Governments around the world impose numerous policies that actively hurt the poor. The whole debate about ‘helping the poor’ creates the illusion that the sole reason for their suffering is mere neglect, even though outright abuse is rampant.… They don’t need us to help them; they need us to stop hurting them.”
  6. There is No Pink Tax (Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution): “Preferences differ systematically across genders leading to subtly different products even in categories which appear similar on the surface.… Women and men could save money by buying products primarily marketed to the opposite gender–like 2‑in‑1 shampoo+conditioner–but only by buying products that they prefer less than the products they choose to buy.”
  7. Study explores academic success among Jewish girls (Tulane University, Phys.org): “Girls raised by Jewish parents are 23 percentage points more likely to graduate college than girls with a non-Jewish upbringing, even after accounting for their parents’ socioeconomic status. Girls raised by Jewish parents also graduate from more selective colleges, according to a newly published study by Tulane University professor Ilana Horwitz.” Recommended by an alumnus. One of our PhD candidates is coauthor on the paper — congratulations!

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 Revolt of the Feminist Law Profs (Wesley Yang, Chronicle of Higher Education): “The sex bureaucracy, in other words, pivoted from punishing sexual violence to imposing a normative vision of ideal sex, to which students are held administratively accountable.” First shared in volume 214.

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 321

I always try to trim these to seven items. Cutting the 8th was brutal this week — so many good options!

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

This is volume 321, which is not only a number but also a countdown.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Top Trans Doctors Blow the Whistle on ‘Sloppy’ Care (Abigail Shrier, Bari Weiss’s Substack): “[The] new orthodoxy has gone too far, according to two of the most prominent providers in the field of transgender medicine: Dr. Marci Bowers, a world-renowned vaginoplasty specialist who operated on reality-television star Jazz Jennings; and Erica Anderson, a clinical psychologist at the University of California San Francisco’s Child and Adolescent Gender Clinic. In the course of their careers, both have seen thousands of patients. Both are board members of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), the organization that sets the standards worldwide for transgender medical care. And both are transgender women. Earlier this month, Anderson told me she submitted a co-authored op-ed to The New York Times warning that many transgender healthcare providers were treating kids recklessly. The Times passed, explaining it was ‘outside our coverage priorities right now.’ ”
    • A sobering article, and also a tragic but unsurprising revelation about the New York Times editorial team.
  2. Highlights From The Comments On Modern Architecture (Scott Alexander, Astral Codex Ten): “I might be the only person in the world who likes McMansions. They just look like nice, pleasant buildings made by people who want to vaguely enjoy the place where they live. Probably the least offensive thing people are making these days.”
    • Judging from the comments he really struck a chord with the “Whither Tartaria?” piece I linked two weeks ago. Fascinating stuff, highly recommended.
  3. What American Christians Hear at Church (Casey Cep, New Yorker): “Homiletics—the proper name for the art of preaching—is still taught in seminaries and divinity schools, but it is not often studied outside of those institutions. This is regrettable, since many more Americans attend church than subscribe to a newspaper.… Taking advantage of the technologies that have allowed churches to stream services and post them online, Pew has studied the length, language, and content of tens of thousands of sermons, by denomination and tradition, most recently for the nine Sundays before and the Sunday after last fall’s Presidential election.” Quite interesting.
  4. Slavery vs. White Supremacy (Van Gosse & Sean Wilentz, New York Review of Books): “Antislavery and anti-racist politics appeared only in the 1760s—and only in the American colonies. Those politics, hailed by later abolitionists as of world-historical importance, engaged blacks and whites, enslaved and free. Inspired by the Revolution’s egalitarianism, antislavery advocates overcame powerful opposition and enacted the first emancipations of their kind in history, in seven of the thirteen original states.… The United States, in short, was founded not on slavery and white supremacy but amid an unprecedented struggle over slavery and white supremacy, which the Constitution left open.” Illuminating letters between two history professors.
  5. ‘Some are just psychopaths’: Chinese detective in exile reveals extent of torture against Uyghurs (Rebecca Wright, Ivan Watson, Zahid Mahmood and Tom Booth, CNN): “ ‘Kick them, beat them (until they’re) bruised and swollen,’ Jiang said, recalling how he and his colleagues used to interrogate detainees in police detention centers. ‘Until they kneel on the floor crying.’ During his time in Xinjiang, Jiang said every new detainee was beaten during the interrogation process — including men, women and children as young as 14.” The details in this story are dark. I’ve seen other stories with testimonies from former prisoners, this one features one of the guards speaking up in addition to stories from prisoners.
  6. Trainings (Alan Jacobs, personal blog): “Universities don’t usually create their own training modules — they buy products from companies that specialize in that kind of thing. And those companies want to save money by reusing their old code. So they extract the content of their Title IX courses and simply stuff new content into the existing frameworks. Easy-peasy. And the upper-level administrators of the university, who don’t want to spend any more money on such projects than they have to, accept the Frankenstein’s jury-rigged monster they’ve been handed. But that creates a big problem: the kind of structure needed to communicate to people the contours of a law and the expectations generated by that law is not the kind of structure needed to explore the moral development of a community.”
  7. Yale and the Education of Governing Elites (Tanner Greer, personal blog): “A program conceived to teach future elites how to wisely use state power has morphed into a program teaching them how to wisely oppose it. This transformation is one more illustration of Dashan’s thesis. At Yale we see the American predicament made concrete: an entrenched governing class that enjoys the privileges of elite status but refuses to prepare for the responsibilities of elite station.”

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 Are Satanists of the MS‐13 gang an under‐covered story on the religion beat? (Julia Duin, GetReligion): this is a fascinating bit of news commentary. My favorite bit: “How does one get out of MS‐13? An opinion piece in the New York Times this past April gives a surprising response: Go to a Pentecostal church.” Highly recommended. First shared in volume 158.

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 305

more sublists than normal

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.

305 is apparently the 5th ‘hexagonal prism number’, which totally sounds made up and I am slightly skeptical of. This is because 305 = (n + 1)(3n2 + 3n + 1) where n=4 (presumably the first hexagonal prism number is 1, when n=0).

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The Fading of Forgiveness (Tim Keller, Cardus): “In other words, we no longer ground our values in the sacred. We simply treat the values themselves as sacred.… When the moral norms are detached from faith in a just God, it detaches them also from faith in a merciful and forgiving God. In such a ‘secular religion,’ deviation from norms is simply unforgiveable.” Full of insights.
  2. Loving the Foreigners—Even When They Have a Deadly Disease (Hwee Hwee Tan, Christianity Today): “While migrant workers had long lived challenging lives in Singapore, it was their unique vulnerability during the circuit-breaker period that really woke up local Christians to the need to help them—in both the short and long term.”
  3. A crisis inside America’s largest evangelical denomination:
    • Russell Moore’s Warnings Should Bring a Reckoning (David French, The Dispatch): “Christians, let me ask you a question. When the #MeToo movement launched… did you think, ‘Stop obsessing over scandal. Most members of the media and most folks in Hollywood are good people’? Or did you think that multiple powerful American institutions were beset with deep cultural and spiritual problems? .… #MeToo did reveal moral rot. But let’s flip it all around. When you heard about corruption and sexual misconduct at America’s largest Christian university, what did you think? What did you think when you read about the sexual scandal at Hillsong or when you learned about Ravi Zacharias’ record of abuse and his ministry’s terrible mistreatment of whistleblowers? Did you pause to consider the larger implications of a decade of sexual predation at one of America’s largest Christian camps or the camp’s efforts to intimidate and coerce victims into silence?” I don’t often tip my hand, but FYI Moore and French are two of my favorite evangelical cultural commentators. If they ever agree on something, you can be pretty sure that is my position as well.
    • The Scandal Rocking the Evangelical World (Pete Wehner, The Atlantic): “And the rot that has been so powerfully and so painfully exposed by Russell Moore is not an indictment of Jesus any more than the failures of the religious authorities in first-century Palestine were. A theologian recently reminded me that the Church is not the hope of the world; its purpose is to be a witness to the hope of the world, even if that witness is often imperfect. But those of us of the Christian faith do seem to be overdoing the imperfect part.”
    • Where Did All the Evangelical Prophets Go? (Samuel D. James, Substack): “The godlessness of the left maps very cleanly onto the evangelical church’s radar because its institutions and leaders are watching for it all the time, but the godlessness of the right is obviously not yet something someone can talk about confidently, expecting their denomination or ecclesiastical support system to back them on.” Some good insights here.
  4. The future of America:
    • A calm perspective: Are We Destined for a Trump Coup in 2024? (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “Then keep in mind, too, that in the event of a Biden-Trump rematch in 2024, Biden, not Trump, will enjoy the presidency’s powers; Kamala Harris, not Mike Pence, will preside over the electoral count; and Trump will be four years older, unlikely to run a fourth time, and therefore somewhat less intimidating in defeat.”
    • Alarmed from the left: 9/11 and 1/6 (Timothy Snyder, Substack): “The scenario then goes like this. The Republicans win back the House and Senate in 2022, in part thanks to voter suppression. The Republican candidate in 2024 loses the popular vote by several million and the electoral vote by the margin of a few states. State legislatures, claiming fraud, alter the electoral count vote. The House and Senate accept that altered count. The losing candidate becomes the president. We no longer have ‘democratically elected government.’ And people are angry. No one is seeking to hide that this is the plan.”  The author is a historian at Yale.
    • Alarmed from the right: Our Increasingly Unrecognizable Civilization (Mark Steyn, Imprimis): “…one notices that America is farther down this road than any other country in the Western world. In other words, at this moment of crisis for Western Civilization, or for what we used to call Christendom, the leading country of the free world is pulling the wrong way.” Sent my way by a friend of the ministry.
  5. A few thoughts on depression (Noah Smith, Substack): “For some reason, human company helps. In fact, it is the single thing that helps the most. But not the kind of company a sad person needs. What a depressed person needs is simply to talk to people, not about their problems or their negative thoughts or their depression, but about anything else — music, animals, science. The most helpful topic of conversation, I’ve found, is absurdity — just talking about utterly ridiculous things, gross things, vulgar offensive things, bizarre things. Shared activities, like going on a hike or playing sports, are OK, but talking is much, much more important.”
  6. Once a Bastion of Free Speech, the A.C.L.U. Faces an Identity Crisis (Michael Powell, New York Times): “I got the sense it was more important for A.C.L.U. staff to identify with clients and progressive causes than to stand on principle,” he said in a recent interview. “Liberals are leaving the First Amendment behind.”
  7. Some snapshots of academia:
    • The Native Scholar Who Wasn’t (Sarah Viren, New York Times): “Of the 1,500 university educators listed as Native American at the time, said Bill Cross, who helped found the American Indian/Alaska Native Professors Association, “we’re looking realistically at one-third of those being Indians.”
    • Gripped by ‘Dinner Party-gate,’ Yale Law Confronts a Venomous Divide (Sarah Lyell and Stephanie Saul, New York Times): “At the law school, the episode has exposed bitter divisions in a top-ranked institution struggling to adapt at a moment of roiling social change. Students regularly attack their professors, and one another, for their scholarship, professional choices and perceived political views. In a place awash in rumor and anonymous accusations, almost no one would speak on the record.”

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 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 298

surprisingly little from the news this week — just randomly interesting things

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

This is volume 298, which is a fairly uninteresting number.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. New Rule: Give It to Me Straight, Doc (Bill Maher, YouTube): eight minutes. This is a very good clip about COVID misinformation, although the language is not family-friendly. It goes in a direction I did not expect towards the end.
    • Related: Why do so many vaccinated people remain irrationally fearful? Listen to the professor’s story. (David Leonhardt, New York Times): “To take just one example, major media outlets trumpeted new government data last week showing that 5,800 fully vaccinated Americans had contracted Covid. That may sound like a big number, but it indicates that a vaccinated person’s chances of getting Covid are about one in 11,000.… A car trip is a bigger threat, to you and others. About 100 Americans are likely to die in car crashes today. The new federal data suggests that either zero or one vaccinated person will die today from Covid.”
  2. On Good Parties (Tara Isabella Burton, Breaking Ground): “A Good Party is a place where bonds of friendship, fostered in a spirit of both charity and joy, serve as the building blocks for communal life overall. The wedding feast, that abundant banquet of Christian life, is always prefigured in the convivial symposium of friendship. The kingdom of heaven, when it comes, will be a very Good Party. Good Parties don’t merely offer us the opportunity to gather with those we love. Rather, more importantly, they teach us how to love.” This is really quite something. I like it a lot.
  3. The Question That Dictates How Christians Approach Culture and Politics (David French, The Dispatch): “It’s becoming increasingly obvious that one explanation for profoundly different Christian approaches to politics and culture rests with different answers to the following question: Does the primary threat to the church come from within the church or without? Put differently, does the church stumble and fall primarily because of the sins of the church or because of the cultural and political headwinds directed against the church?”
    • In Here, Out There: On Assessing Spiritual Threats (Dan Darling, Substack): “At times when we are combating cultural ideas, we are not arguing with the world, but trying to equip the next generation of Christians whose faith will be challenged by ideas that run contrary to Scripture. Our people are inundated on every side by messages that are at odds with Jesus’ teachings. Pop culture, social media, friends, etc form a powerful influence on this cohort of young people.” Not a rebuttal, but a complement.
  4. It’s Time for Social Conservatives to Stop Fawning Over Hungary (Lyman Stone, The Public Discourse): “What made Hungary’s family policy work wasn’t the populism, but the boring technocracy of it. Flashy populist programs failed, while just pushing cash out the door to families (as is the norm in countries like Sweden, Denmark, or Norway, all of which have higher birth rates than Hungary) worked. American conservatives should learn from this: if you want a higher birth rate, you’re going to have to pay for it.” This was way more interesting than I anticipated.
  5. Why is Everything Liberal? (Richard Hanania, Substack): “In a democracy, every vote is supposed to be equal. If about half the country supports one side and half the country supports another, you may expect major institutions to either be equally divided, or to try to stay politically neutral. This is not what we find.” This is basically one really good observation expounded in detail. The author, a political scientist, is a research fellow at Columbia University.
  6. Reparations: A Critical Theological Review (Kevin DeYoung, Gospel Coalition): “With tax collectors and soldiers throughout the Gospels, there is no talk of restitution for imperial supremacy or extractive systems, nor any summons to dismantle the structures they inhabited, just the straightforward command to live a godly life, be generous to others, and repay what you have stolen.” Well done book reviews are amazing. This is as good as the best reviews by Scott Alexander.
  7. The Great Unsettling (Paul Kingsnorth, Substack): “We in the West invented this thing called ‘modernity’, and then we took it out into the world, whether the world wanted it or not. Once we called this process ‘the white man’s burden’ and exported it with dreadnoughts. Now we call it ‘development’ and export it via the World Bank.” Wide-ranging.

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 This Is What Makes Republicans and Democrats So Different (Vox, Ezra Klein): the title made me skeptical, but there are some good insights in this article (first shared in volume 32 back in 2016).

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 289

A collection of links ranging from the future of America to the impacts of hypocrisy.

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

This is volume 289, which is a Friedman number because 289 = (8 + 9)2

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Why will the important thinkers of the future be religious ones? (Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution): “Fourth, if you live amongst the intelligentsia, being religious is one active form of rebellion. Rebelliousness is grossly correlated with intellectual innovation, again even if the variance of quality increases.” Cowen is not religious himself.
  2. Book Review: The Cult Of Smart (Scott Alexander, Astral Codex Ten): “DeBoer recalls hearing an immigrant mother proudly describe her older kid’s achievements in math, science, etc, “and then her younger son ran by, and she said, offhand, ‘This one, he is maybe not so smart.’ ” DeBoer was originally shocked to hear someone describe her own son that way, then realized that he wouldn’t have thought twice if she’d dismissed him as unathletic, or bad at music. Intelligence is considered such a basic measure of human worth that to dismiss someone as unintelligent seems like consigning them into the outer darkness.”
    • Normally the best thing about Alexander’s blog is his book reviews. This one was just okay (smart and well-written but not astounding) and then all of a sudden he turned his rant up to 11. Hang in until you reach the phrase “child prison.” If you’re not sold at that point, stop reading.
  3. The “Majority-Minority” Myth (Andrew Sullivan, Substack): “Most demographic estimates of the ‘white’ population are based on the Census definition: ‘non-Hispanic white.’ But what of ‘Hispanic whites’ — those whose lineage may come from South or Latin America in ethnicity but who also identify racially and socially as white? If you include them in this category, America remains two-thirds ‘white’ all the way through 2060 and beyond.” A fascinating read.
  4. ‘Horrible’: Witnesses recall massacre in Ethiopian holy city (Cara Anna, Associated Press): “Bodies with gunshot wounds lay in the streets for days in Ethiopia’s holiest city. At night, residents listened in horror as hyenas fed on the corpses of people they knew. But they were forbidden from burying their dead by the invading Eritrean soldiers.… some 800 people were killed that weekend at the church and around the city.”
  5. The Doublethinkers (Natan Sharansky with Gil Troy, Tablet Magazine):  “Step by liberating step, I was running toward freedom. By the time I was imprisoned in 1977, I had been free for at least four years. As thrilling as it was to be released from prison after nine long years in 1986, leaving the prison of doublethink years earlier made me even more euphoric.” The author has had quite the life — beginning as a scientist in Soviet Russia, becoming a dissident, and then eventually reaching Israel and becoming a politician.
    • Related: Firing Actors for Being Conservative Is Another Hollywood Blacklist (Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine): “What’s most striking about the news coverage of Carano’s defenestration is the utter absence of any scrutiny of her employer or her (now-former) agency. The tone of the reporting simply conveys her posts as though they were a series of petty crimes, the punishment of which is inevitable and self-evidently justified. The principle that an actor ought to be fired for expressing unsound political views has simply faded into the background.”
    • Also related: Gina Carano and Crowd-Sourced McCarthyism (Bari Weiss, newsletter): “Things have gotten so ridiculous so quickly — Bon Appetit is currently going back and editing insufficiently sensitive recipes in what they call (I kid you not) an ‘archive repair effort’ — that my baseline assumption is that 99 percent of cancellations are unwarranted. In other words, people are losing their jobs and their reputations not for violating genuine taboos but for simple mistakes, minor sins or absolute nonsense.”
    • And a different related story:  Whistleblower at Smith College Resigns Over Racism (Bari Weiss, Substack): “Under the guise of racial progress, Smith College has created a racially hostile environment in which individual acts of discrimination and hostility flourish. In this environment, people’s worth as human beings, and the degree to which they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, is determined by the color of their skin.”  
  6. ‘You Are One Step Away from Complete and Total Insanity’ (David French, The Dispatch): “This has been a difficult newsletter to write. I’ve had to confront my own negligence. I’m a Christian writer and journalist, and I paid insufficient attention to Thompson’s initial claims. I was only vaguely aware of her allegations at the time, and had I dug down into the story, it would have been obvious that Zacharias’s account had serious problems. It is no excuse to say that I can’t cover everything. I should have covered this. I’m terribly sorry I did not.”
    • Related: The Wreckage of Ravi Zacharias (Rusell Moore, newsletter): “Your salvation and discipleship are not dependent on whether the preacher from whom you heard the gospel is genuine, but rather on whether the gospel itself is genuine. It is. Predators often move forward by hiding behind mimicked truth. Predatory filmmakers proceed by learning how to make good films. Predatory politicians go forward by honing political skills. Fraudulent religious leaders often peddle false doctrine, but some of them also traffic in true doctrines by which they have not personally been transformed. Yes, wolves often come with false doctrine. But that does not mean that wolves are limited to the flocks that tolerate false doctrine. In infiltrating a sheep pen, a wolf will come in the skin of a sheep, not that of a goat.”
    • Also related: Ravi Zacharias, Rich Mullins, and a Ragamuffin Legacy (Esther O’Reilly, Patheos): “As I was reflecting on all this recently, my mind went back to another figure who was a ‘celebrity Christian’ in his own way, yet attained this status reluctantly, almost by accident. This figure also had a magnetic appeal, also had a lucrative and popular ministry, and also used his platform to address the challenges of the Christian walk. He also spoke often about sin, grace, moral purity and spiritual integrity, while wrestling with private sin. I’m speaking about Christian singer-songwriter Rich Mullins…” Rich Mullins is actually one of my heroes.
  7. Essentially Fertile: Notes Toward a Land Ethic (Jacquelyn Lee, First Things): “Whatever one’s opinion about climate change—true, false, man-made, natural course of events, the most acute problem humanity faces, leftist unicorn, etc.—it’s undeniable that the average American is estranged from the land. That the earth is humanity’s sole source of food and water is as inescapable as ‘male and female he created them.’ And just as conservatives insist that without a rightly ordered sexual ethic society will be in disarray, so should we insist that without a rightly ordered ‘land ethic’ society is unsustainable.” I was not sure what to expect as I began reading this article and was pleasantly surprised.

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have How To Ask Your Mentors For Help (Derek Sivers): this is super‐short and very good. Excerpting it would ruin it. Read the whole thing. First shared in volume 224.

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.