Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 271

I’m just glad there’s a magic video at the end

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

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The Language of Privilege (Nicholas Clairmont, Tablet Magazine): “So, in the end, the question raised by wokeness is a simple one: Doesn’t it actually just favor rich people?”
  2. The Students Left Behind by Remote Learning (Alec MacGillis, ProPublica): “But it was not hard to see how parents could have got the impression that children were at great risk. Towns and cities had closed playgrounds, wrapping police tape around them. People in heavily Democratic areas were wearing masks even on empty streets. There may have been an implicitly political dynamic at work: the greater the threat posed by COVID-19, the greater Trump’s failure in not containing it.”
    • This is a very long but absolutely engrossing article. Highly recommended that you at least skim it.
  3. Liberalism and Its Discontents (Francis Fukuyama, American Purpose): “Democracy itself is being challenged by authoritarian states like Russia and China that manipulate or dispense with free and fair elections. But the more insidious threat arises from populists within existing liberal democracies who are using the legitimacy they gain through their electoral mandates to challenge or undermine liberal institutions.” The author directs the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law at Stanford University. This is from the inaugural issue of a promising new magazine.
    • Related: Suicide of the Liberals (Gary Saul Morson, First Things): “One sometimes hears that ‘the pendulum is bound to swing back.’ But how does one know there is a pendulum at all, rather than—let us say—a snowball accelerating downhill? It is unwise to comfort oneself with metaphors. When a party is willing to push its power as far as it can go, it will keep going until it meets sufficient opposition.” The author is a humanities prof at Northwestern.
  4. Diversity At the Oscars (Filip Mazurczak, First Things): “At a time of declining readership worldwide, and because of the magical connection hundreds of millions have to the movies, film is perhaps the most effective medium with which to educate people about history. Certain topics, such as the Armenian Genocide or communist crimes, deserve a definitive epic on the scale of Schindler’s List or Saving Private Ryan. But ironically, the Academy’s new diversity rules will make it even less likely for such topics to receive the silver screen treatment they deserve.” The author is a Ph.D. candidate in history.
  5. Armenia is under attack by Azerbaijan. Hearing that is as distressing as hearing that a German politician is making loud complaints against the Jews.
    • Armenians Fight to Hold Ancient Homeland Within Azerbaijan (Jayson Casper, Christianity Today): “Fierce fighting has broken out in the Caucasus Mountains between the Caspian and Black Seas, pitting Christian Armenians versus Muslim Azeris. But is it right to employ their religious labels?”
    • Defending Christian Armenia (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “Most Americans have no idea that in the 20th century, the Turks waged a true genocide against the Armenian Christian people. The book to read is 2019’s The Thirty-Year Genocide: Turkey’s Destruction of Its Christian Minorities, 1894–1924, by the Israeli historians Benny Morris and Dror Ze’evi. I had to put it down — a lot — because its record of the atrocities the Turks wrought on innocent Armenians in the ethnic and religious cleansing of Turkey was too much to bear.”
    • Turkey is Normalizing Militant Jihadism (Armen V. Sahakyan, Providence): “Ankara’s destabilizer-in-chief Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has now extended his menacing military involvement to the South Caucasus, where Turkish army personnel are assisting Ankara’s satellite state Azerbaijan in a massive invasion against Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) and Armenia. But what grabbed international headlines are the appalling reports of Turkey’s deliberate misuse of the ‘religious card’ in the Artsakh-Azerbaijan conflict and its transport of 4,000 jihadist terrorists in Syria to fight against Christian Armenians.”
  6. I’m going to link to some political articles which interested me, some of which are extremely partisan. If you only have time to read one, please read one whose slant you disagree with. Given that I could not possibly agree with all of these articles, I hope it is clear that the standard disclaimers apply even more than usual.
    • What Makes A Vote Moral or Immoral? The Ethics of Voting (Jonathan Leeman, 9 Marks): “…I think I would be pastorally overstepping were I to tell you how I think you positively should vote, assuming there is more than one permissible option (which includes not voting, voting for a third party, writing in a candidate, or even civil disobedience if you live in a country with compulsory voting). At most, I think a pastor can, from time to time, warn you against paths you should not take. Seldom if ever should he tell you which path you should take, assuming that doing so closes down other morally permissible paths.”
    • 7 Reasons Why It Is Possible for Christians to Vote for Trump in 2020 Without Getting a Defiled Conscience and/or Losing Their Soul (Douglas Wilson, personal blog): “So the proposal that follows is intended to enable you to go and vote for Trump, ideally without a mask, and not give way afterward to any temptation to flush red or laugh a little furtive heh heh if asked about it. You are not a criminal. You are not insane. You are not a fascist. You are not a hazard to the republic. You are not trying to ring in The Handmaid’s Tale. You have good reasons, oh ye easily gaslit evangelicals.”
    • Christian Witness Demands That We Defend Truth—and Reject Donald Trump (O. Alan Noble, Public Discourse): “By its very nature, falsehood breeds chaos. To support Trump would require me to support four more years of epistemological chaos. I fear that if I were to support his reelection, even grudgingly, eventually I would find myself apologizing for his lies, and then excusing his lies, and then defending his lies, and finally believing his lies. Better men and women than I have grown confused in just this way since 2016.”
    • Voting for Life (Ramesh Ponnuru & Robert P. George, National Review): “Neither of us has endorsed Donald Trump. Both of us have been intensely critical of him on issues of personal character and, in some cases, public policy. We do not claim, as some have claimed, that Catholics and other pro-life citizens have an obligation to cast their ballot for him. The premises of the argument against abortion do not by themselves compel such a stance. People who share the view that the abortion license is a profound injustice on a massive scale that must be resolutely opposed can reach different conclusions about whether Trump deserves their vote. If, however, the considerations we have adduced in this essay are sound, they practically preclude a vote for Biden.”
    • A new group of evangelical leaders forms in support of Biden (Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Washington Post): “The group favoring Biden, set up by longtime evangelical leaders Ron Sider and Rich Mouw, includes several leaders who have since retired from major evangelical institutions. Among them is John Huffman, who was board chair of Christianity Today magazine, a lifelong Republican and former pastor to President Richard Nixon. He is planning to vote for a Democrat for the first time.”
    • “You’re hired” Mulligan review (John Cochrane, personal blog): “For in much of the rhetoric about ‘science,’ and ‘experts,’ we are exhorted to ignore every day truths and the scattered information of actual people, and surrender to unaccountable technocrats, who chat and social climb with each other, but who have been wrong about so much lately.” The author is a senior fellow at Hoover. I learned more from this book review than I do from many books.
  7. Scarlet fever making a comeback thanks to a toxic virus, researchers say (Holly Richardson, Australia Broadcasting Corporation): “Professor Walker said while one might expect that a virus infecting a bacteria was bad for the bacteria, this was not always so. ‘In this case, the bacterial virus is carrying three new toxins and because it’s carrying those toxins when it infects the bacteria, it gives the bacteria this extra virulence potential.’” 👀 This is like two supervillains teaming up.

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 An MIT Professor Meets the Author of All Knowledge (Rosalind Picard, Christianity Today): “I once thought I was too smart to believe in God. Now I know I was an arrogant fool who snubbed the greatest Mind in the cosmos—the Author of all science, mathematics, art, and everything else there is to know. Today I walk humbly, having received the most undeserved grace. I walk with joy, alongside the most amazing Companion anyone could ask for, filled with desire to keep learning and exploring.” First shared in volume 194.

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 162

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

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. How to Witness to a Distracted World (O. Alan Noble, Christianity Today): “Let me give you a scenario. I believe it’s entirely possible today to sit down with a non-believing friend and have a passionate, lengthy conversation about the gospel and never plant a seed deeply. Because as soon as you both rise from the table, he pulls out his phone and checks Facebook or responds to a text from his wife…. It was all a kind of rhetorical dance or game that we play. And the primary purpose of the dance is not to win over the other person but to define your identity. The game is called expressive individualism. And most of us play it.”
  2. A Global Guide To State-Sponsored Trolling (Michael Riley, Lauren Etter, and Bibhudatta Pradhan, Bloomberg): “‘People sometimes worry that Azerbaijan will shut down Facebook,’ said Katy Pearce, a communications professor at the University of Washington who has studied the platform’s use in that country. ‘Why would it? Facebook is the most effective tool of control the government has.’”
  3. Housing Costs Reduce The Returns To Education (Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution): “The return to education, for example, has increased in the United States but it’s less well appreciated that in order to earn high wages college educated workers must increasingly live in expensive cities. One consequence is that the net college wage premium is not as large as it appears and inequality has been over-estimated.”
  4. The many deaths of liberalism (Daniel Cole and Aurelian Craiutu, Aeon): “The problem for anyone declaring the death of liberalism is that it has not one but several pillars and dimensions: legal, political, economic and moral (or religious). The weakening or disappearance of one or two liberal pillars or tenets would not be enough to declare liberalism as a whole dead.”
  5. Epistocracy: a political theorist’s case for letting only the informed vote (Sean Illing interviewing Jason Brennan, Vox): “I like to say I’m a fan of democracy, and I’m also a fan of Iron Maiden, but I think Iron Maiden has quite a few albums that are terrible — and I think democracy is kind of like this. It’s great, it’s the best system we have so far, but we shouldn’t accept that it can’t be improved.” The title is inaccurate — Brennan goes so far as to favor extending the right to vote to children.
  6. The Trump Administration Convenes the ‘Super Bowl’ of Religious Freedom (Emma Green, The Atlantic): “This ministerial, which is really just a fancy word for ‘big meeting,’ could be interpreted as the unveiling of an element of the Trump administration’s foreign-policy strategy. For the last three days, delegations from around the world have gathered to hear victims of religious persecution share their stories. American officials have declared in no uncertain terms that they believe the United States should evangelize religious liberty around the world, and that democracy is built on a foundation of freedom in faith.”
    • Related: Pence and Pompeo Make Big Religious Freedom Pledges (Morgan Lee, Christianity Today): “The Vice President called out countries across the globe, starting with Nicaragua where he accused the Ortega administration of ‘virtually waging war on the Catholic Church.’ He condemned China’s persecution of its Tibetan Buddhists, Uyghur Muslims, and Christians, as well as the actions of its authoritarian neighbor: North Korea…. Pence also called out Iran. While acknowledging that its Christians, Jews, and Baha’i are all persecuted by its Shia government, he specifically singled out its Sunni Kurd population…. Russia’s Jehovah’s Witnesses, who have been subject to intense persecution in recent years, were also recognized by Pence…. The Vice President also called for an end to anti-Semitic attacks in Western Europe.”
    • Related: Turkey Lets Andrew Brunson Leave Prison (Christianity Today)
    • Related: The World’s Next Religious Freedom Success Story: Uzbekistan? (Christianity Today): “‘That [panel was] different than anything you’ve ever heard from almost any place in the former Soviet Union,’ said Chris Seiple, president emeritus of the Institute for Global Engagement, who organized the panel and will lead a delegation to Uzbekistan this fall. ‘… They’re institutionalizing the process of change. That’s the key. The process is the goal.’”
  7. Is There Recourse When Fact Checkers Get It Wrong? (Kalev Leetaru, RealClearPolitics): “In short, through the business decision of a single Silicon Valley corporation, fact checkers have been elevated from helpful reference librarians into a position of ultimate arbitrator of truth in our online world, without the attendant checks and balances to mitigate abuse.”

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 No Food Is Healthy. Not Even Kale. (Michael Ruhlman, Washington Post): People can be healthy. Food can be nutritious. This is a wonderful essay about how we misuse language to our detriment. If you’re surprised I included this, I believe that our culture has a quasi-religious relationship to health and to food, and I also believe that the use of language is profoundly moral and that our culture is a linguistic mess (to which I know of no finer guide than The Underground Grammarian). (first shared in volume 33)

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).

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 79

1 Chronicles 12:32 - they "understood the times"
1 Chronicles 12:32 — they “understood the times”

On Fridays I share articles/resources about broad cultural, societal and theological issues. Be sure to see the explanation and disclaimers at the bottom.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. First Dinosaur Tail Found Preserved In Amber (Kristin Romey, National Geographic): this is awesome. And yo, it’s got feathers. Feathers! I’ve heard for years that dinosaurs likely had feathers, but seeing them is super-cool. Quick, someone redo the CGI in Jurassic Park.
  2. Requiem For A Despot (Carlos Eire, First Things): some of you have asked what I thought of Fidel Castro. This sums it up well. He was a cartoonishly wicked man. The author is a professor of history at Yale.
  3. The Necessity Of Credibility (Nathan J. Robinson, Current Affairs): “Currently, people don’t trust the mainstream media. And the first thing the media must do is acknowledge that part of that mistrust is entirely rational and reasonable” (emphasis in original). An insightful critique of the media from the left.
  4. The Media Kowtow (Mark Hemingway, The Weekly Standard): this is an older piece but still very relevant.  “For the last several years, a hugely influential portion of the American media has vacillated between openly admiring the Chinese government and providing a forum for its apologists.” With that in mind, read this — Tsai calls Trump, World Commentariat IQ drops 50 points (Michael Turton, personal blog). The author lives in Taiwan and has a unique perspective. His follow-up is also worth reading.
  5. Seven Reasons You Should Not Indulge In Pornography (Andy Naselli, Themelios): “You should not indulge in pornography for at least seven reasons: (1) It will send you to hell. (2) It does not glorify God with your body. (3) It is a poisonous, fleeting pleasure. (4) It foolishly wastes your life. (5) It betrays your wife and children. (6) It ruins your mind and conscience. (7) It participates in sex slavery.”
  6. Contra Robinson on Schooling (Slate Star Codex): like all Slate Star Codex articles, this is long, thoughtful, and well-researched. The follow-up post is extremely informative.

Things Glen Found Amusing

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).

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.

Archives at http://glenandpaula.com/wordpress/category/links.