Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 456



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 456, a very satisfying number: each digit increases and I like it.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Holy Haggling: Learn to Pray like Abraham (Justin Dillehay, The Gospel Coalition): “We’re often ready to write off an otherwise good church or organization because of a few bad apples within it. But Abraham is the exact opposite—he asks God to spare an entire city of bad apples for the sake of a few good apples within it.”
    • Recommended by a student.
  2. The Nonprofit Industrial Complex and the Corruption of the American City (Jonathan Ireland, American Affairs): “Whoever came up with the idea of calling these organizations ‘nonprofits’ was a marketing genius on the level of Steve Jobs. When someone hears the word nonprofit, they assume that such an organization is working for the public good; that it serves the homeless, protects the weak, exists for the benefit and the betterment of society at large.… Consequently, nonprofits receive a benefit of the doubt that would not be granted to any other form of private corporation. Yet nonprofit organizations are frequently the exact opposite of what they appear to be.”
    • Stunning stories in here. 100% worth your time.
  3. Why the Pandemic Probably Started in a Lab, in 5 Key Points (Alina Chan, New York Times): “Ultimately, a never-before-seen SARS-like virus with a newly introduced furin cleavage site, matching the description in the Wuhan institute’s Defuse proposal, caused an outbreak in Wuhan less than two years after the proposal was drafted.…”
    • Unlocked. Emphasis removed for readability. The author is a molecular biologist at a joint MIT/Harvard institute.
  4. Men Only Want One Thing (Nathan Beacom, Comment): “Over a hundred years ago, William James, the father of American psychology, argued that men need a ‘moral equivalent of war.’ To retain virtue, James thought, men needed the soul-shaping force of military life without war’s destructive consequences.”
    • This is a solid article, especially recommended for guys. Ladies, you can eavesdrop if you like.
  5. Why No One Will Save Sudan (Cameron Hudson, Persuasion): “For those tracking events in the country, a seemingly endless thread of headlines and editorials lament this ‘forgotten conflict.’ But this is the wrong framing. The crisis in Sudan is neither forgotten nor ignored. It is de-prioritized. And that is worse.… Over the past several weeks, a new Benghazi-like slaughter has been taking shape in the North Darfur city of El Fasher. With nearly one million internally displaced already taking refuge there and more than one million more awaiting a coming onslaught by the Rapid Support Forces militia, which has promised to take the city and complete their takeover of all of Darfur, the specter of genocide once again hangs over the region. Egress out of the city has been cut off, as have aid flows into the city, leading analysts to refer to the city as a ‘kill box.’ ”
  6. Does Divorce Make You Hotter? (Kat Rosenfield, The Free Press): “…[celebratory stories about divorce are] a product of a popular ‘woman empowered by everything woman does’ paradigm, where all choices made by women are a product of liberation, hence feminist, hence good. There is no error or disappointment that can’t be yass-kweened away.… It’s only women who are seen as requiring this particular brand of cheerleading, who are relentlessly encouraged to reframe all their negative experiences as the best thing they ever did.”
    • Straight fire throughout. Recommended.
  7. Speech Under the Shadow of Punishment (Jeannie Suk Gersen, New Yorker): “…administrators have become accustomed to using punishment as a go-to solution rather than as a last resort. The emphasis on disciplinary action became particularly pronounced in the twenty-tens, when universities were under urgent pressure to address campus sex discrimination and harassment.… [furthermore] some students may have been disciplined not merely for participating in an encampment but for violating discrimination, harassment, or bullying policies. The pressure to enforce those policies cannot be overstated. In the twenty-tens, the Department of Education investigated many schools, including Harvard, for failing to adequately address allegations of sexual misconduct; universities today are once again under federal scrutiny, which threatens their federal funding and tax-exempt status, for failing to address allegations of antisemitism.”
    • The author is a law prof at Harvard.

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

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 454



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 454, a number whose symmetry pleases me.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The Nones Have Hit a Ceiling (Ryan Burge, Substack): “The rise of the nones may be largely over now. At least it won’t be increasing in the same way that it did in the prior thirty years. Of course, the question is why? I don’t know if I have a bulletproof answer. I think the easiest explanation is that a lot of marginally attached people switched to ‘no religion’ on surveys over the last decade or two. Eventually, there weren’t that many marginally attached folks anymore. All you had left were the very committed religious people who likely won’t become nones for any reason. The loose top soil has been scooped off and hauled away, leaving nothing but hard bedrock underneath.”
    • Emphasis removed for readability.
  2. ‘Loud-mouthed bully’: CS Lewis satirised Oxford peer in secret poems (Dalya Alberge, The Guardian): “Joking that an infuriated Lewis had perhaps composed them during one of Wyld’s lectures, Horobin noted that one of them identifies Wyld through an acrostic with the initial letters spelling out the name ‘Henry Cecil Wyld’. He added: ‘On the remaining blank pages he penned a series of additional satirical verses lampooning Wyld – one in English, alongside others in Latin, Greek, French and even Old English.’ ”
    • Even Lewis’s shade was epic and erudite. I love this story. Also, a reminder that every word will be brought into judgement — even words uttered (or penned) in secret. I should mention he would not yet have been a Christian when these poems appear to have been composed.
  3. What Do Students at Elite Colleges Really Want? (Francesca Mari, New York Times): “…everyone arrived on campus hoping to change the world. But what they learn at Harvard, he said, is that actually doing anything meaningful is too hard. People give up on their dreams, he told me, and decide they might as well make money. Someone else told me it was common at parties to hear their peers say they just want to sell out.”
    • Unlocked
  4. Redefining the scientific method: as the use of sophisticated scientific methods that extend our mind (Alexander Krauss, PNAS Nexus): “This study reveals that 25% of all discoveries since 1900 did not apply the common scientific method (all three features)—with 6% of discoveries using no observation, 23% using no experimentation, and 17% not testing a hypothesis. Empirical evidence thus challenges the common view of the scientific method.”
    • From the abstract because it is so succinctly put, but the article itself is easy to read. Recommended. The author is a philosopher of science at the London School of Economics.
  5. American Missionaries Killed in Port-au-Prince (Daniel Silliman, Christianity Today): “Criminal gangs killed nearly 5,000 people in Haiti last year. Then, in 2024, the gangs banded together, turned against the politicians who had once collaborated with them for power, and launched coordinated attacks on the government. The gangs set police stations on fire, shut down the main airport and seaport, and broke open two prisons, releasing an estimated 4,000 inmates. They vandalized government offices, stormed the National Palace, and took control of about 80 percent of the capital.”
  6. Group chats rule the world. (Sriram Krishnan, personal blog): “Most of the interesting conversations in tech now happen in private group chats: Whatsapp, Telegram, Signal, small invite-only Discord groups.… The great culture wars of 2020 meant people, especially in tech, weren’t comfortable sharing their views in public lest they get various online mobs after them.”
  7. What ‘Tradwives’—and Some of Their Critics—Miss (Hannah Anderson, The Dispatch): “But women haven’t been uniquely lied to. Families have been lied to about what their homes can and should be. Men and women alike have been told that their greatest achievements lie outside of it. And yet, a marriage reduced from two ‘careerists’ to one is still serving corporate interests. At best, a woman sacrificing her career to enable her husband’s career (as Butker asserts his wife does and as he counseled new female graduates) misses the point. At worst, it enables the very marketplace that desires nothing more than to creep into our homes and commodify every expression of goodness and beauty that happens there—even if what we’re selling is traditionalism.”

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

  • Stanford University Tour by Drone (YouTube): six minutes (it’s a little long, but the first bit is nice to watch)
  • Will 18 year old Emma Olson FOOL Penn & Teller with a Rubik’s cube? (Penn & Teller Fool Us, YouTube): nine minutes
  • When an Eel Takes a Bite Then an Octopus Might Claim an Eyeball (Joshua Rapp Learn, New York Times): “In each video, the common octopus may sacrifice arms, much as lizards drop their tails to distract predators, Dr. Hernández-Urcera said. In the first video, the octopus loses three arms while the one in the second video loses two — but they can fully regrow limbs in about 45 days, some lab tests show.”
    • Rarely do I find that news articles are improved by embedded videos. This is one of the exceptions. Very cool.
  • Are Plants Intelligent? If So, What Does That Mean for Your Salad? (Elizabeth A. Harris, New York Times): “Obviously we’re animals that need to eat plants. There’s no way around that. But there is a way of imagining a future with agricultural practices and harvesting practices that are more tuned into the life style of the plant, the things it’s capable of and its proclivities. This opens up the world of plant ethics.”
    • The article itself is interesting. The title made me laugh.

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 453

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. Reconciling Christianity with intellectual curiosity (Nadia Jo, Stanford Daily): “One of the values Jesus emphasized most is humility, and I strive to implement that value in my intellectual life in addition to my personal life. My ethos of intellectual curiosity involves curiosity, challenging and wrestling with claims and lines of reasoning, flexible thinking and respect for people who put in the same effort. I hope that my nonreligious peers can come to understand and appreciate Christianity’s deep intellectual tradition, even if they don’t agree with its conclusions. And, I encourage more Christians to live up to that tradition and examine their own belief. You’ll probably find it more rewarding than you expect.”
    • Nadia is a student in Chi Alpha.
  2. Homeless man is brought to church and starts CURSING right in the middle of the sermon while the pastor is preaching on the parable of the lost sheep. (Twitter): the link title is clickbaity, but the video is really good. 17 minutes but 100% worth your time.
  3. The Single Christian (Alexandra DeSanctis Marr, Religion & Liberty Online): “Rather than offering sympathy to those who are single for reasons outside their control, Broadway argues, Christians often send the message that singleness is an affliction endured by those who simply aren’t trying hard enough to find a spouse. But, as she explains, there isn’t an easy answer to what is ultimately a problem of numbers: ‘When women outnumber men in the church, that leaves three options: polygamy, marrying a non-Christian or staying single. Which would you like us to choose?’”
    • That’s a great line by Broadway.
  4. The Scholar of Comedy (David Remnick interviewing Jerry Seinfeld, The New Yorker): “Every artist is only showing you his best. When you watch a movie, every scene—they only show you the one take that worked. Seventeen times, they missed it. You’re only seeing the peak of it. But in standup you gotta make it happen every night. That’s the difference. That’s why actors, I think, like to do the theatre. They want to be honest. They want to be held to account. And only a live audience holds you to account.”
  5. Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker says Pride Month is example of ‘deadly sin’ during commencement speech (Lukas Weese, New York Times): “Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker, speaking during a commencement speech at Benedictine College, referred to Pride Month, the events in June demonstrating inclusivity and support for the LGBTQ+ community, as an example of the ‘deadly sins’ as he advocated for a more conservative brand of Catholicism.”
    • I am always surprised when people seem surprised when religious people say religious things.
    • Related: Harrison Butker jersey sales increase in aftermath of Benedictine College address (Greg Dailey and Ryan Hennessy, KCTV 5): “Amid reaction to Harrison Butker’s now-viral commencement speech at Benedictine College on Saturday, the placekicker seems to have gained several new fans in the process. According to NFL.com, Butker’s jersey sales are among the most popular online. Only Travis Kelce rated higher than Butker, with Mahomes coming in right behind the star from Georgia Tech.”
    • This is common enough that there is probably a term for it: high-status people denounce something and or pretend it doesn’t exist, whereas many lower-status people really like it. This is a good example of this, as is the New York Times bestseller list compared to actual sales numbers.
  6. Campus protest-related:
    • Seeing the University More Clearly (David Pozen, blog): “To simplify somewhat, we might say that professors are granted a number of basic rights within the university, including rights to free speech and due process and quasi-property rights in the job itself. Students and staff are granted a partially overlapping, though weaker, bundle of rights. What none of us have are governance rights against the trustees who really run the place. We enjoy various individual privileges and protections, but not the franchise. Legal scholars and political scientists have a term for this sort of arrangement, too: liberal autocracy.”
      • The author is a law prof at Columbia and has some insightful thoughts about how shifts in university governance in recent years have provided the context for how campuses are responding to protests.
    • Modern Protest Culture is Crippled by Internet-Brain (Samuel D. James, Substack): “A transformational protest is one that bears the brunt of reality and, in so doing, convinces others to join in changing it. The inability to bear this reality is not just fragility, it is precisely the way computer systems work; when the autonomous system fails to yield a pleasant or smooth solution, it must be fixed, not endured. Contemporary student activism reflects the assumptions and habits of the digital era.”
      • Emphasis in original.
  7. Belgian Government Will Intervene In Cases Where Prostitutes Refuse Sexual Acts Too Often (Amy Hamm, ProPublica): “Prostitutes are to be granted ‘rights’ to refuse sexual acts, stop sexual acts, perform sexual acts in the manner they prefer, and refuse to sit behind Amsterdam-style windows (public facing windows where prostitutes are on display). However, should a prostitute use these ‘rights’ 10 times within six months, their pimp can then call on a government mediator to intervene.”
    • Pimps used to have to beat their prostitutes. Now they can have the government use force on their behalf. #progress
    • This is the logic of “bake the cake, bigot” taken to its ultimate conclusion — conscience is nothing and the market is everything and personal convictions are inconveniences to be trampled upon.
    • If, as some feminists tell us, sex work is real work then you can’t be shocked at stuff like this. If, on the other hand, prostitution is both a tragedy and a vice you can get outraged.

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

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 452

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.

452 is a product of 113. Specifically, 452 = 4 · 113. A website informed that it is also the closest integer to 7π, but that’s a weird fact.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. I Knew I Would Pay a Price for My Faith’: China Releases Missionary After Seven Years (CJ Wu interviewing John Cao, Christianity Today): “I did not have a Bible while in prison. Although both my mother and my lawyer brought Bibles to my prison, the correctional staff refused to hand them over to me. My mother would write down Bible verses in her letters to me. Yet the police checked our correspondence: If faith was mentioned in my letters, they would not be delivered. Both prisons had small libraries with hundreds of books. I would search for Leo Tolstoy’s books, since there are some Bible verses in his books. When I found them, I’d be very, very happy and copy the verses in my notebook. In the four years I was there, I copied dozens of verses.”
  2. The adolescent mental health mess (Lucy Foulkes, Medium): “We are in a situation where some adolescents are very legitimately experiencing mental health crises, without decent treatment, while others are inaccurately describing typical developmental stress with the language of disorder.… The whole thing is a mess, and a thousand miles away from the original goal of mental health awareness.”
    • The author is a psychologist at Oxford.
    • Amplified by the New York Times: Are We Talking Too Much About Mental Health? (Ellen Barry, New York Times): “[The] training could encourage ‘co-rumination,’ the kind of long, unresolved group discussion that churns up problems without finding solutions.… Co-rumination appears to be higher in girls, who tend to come into the program more distressed, as well as more attuned to their friends, he said. ‘It might be,’ he said, ‘that they kind of get together and make things a little bit worse for each other.’”
  3. Perspectives and news about the college protests
    • The People Setting America on Fire (Park MacDougald, Tablet Magazine): “In fact, it is a mistake both to view the campus protests as a ‘student’ movement and to regard the outsiders as ‘infiltrators’ or somehow separate from the movement. Rather, student activists have been working together with outsiders, with whom they are linked via overlapping activist networks and nationwide organizations.… wealthy donors have been subsidizing months of rolling disruptive street protests by a grab bag of revolutionary and anti-Israel radicals. That leads naturally to a question: To what end?”
    • An Inside Look at the Student Takeover of Columbia’s Hamilton Hall (Sharon Otterman, New York Times): “[The maintenance worker] said he tried to block them and they tried to reason with him to get out of the way, telling him ‘this is bigger than you.’ One person, he recalled, told him he didn’t get paid enough to deal with this. Someone tried to offer him ‘a fistful of cash.’ He said he replied: “I don’t want your money, dude. Just get out of the building.” … Both Mr. Torres and Mr. Wilson said they strongly objected to the tactics of the occupiers, which they said had taken a toll on them. Neither man ever wants to work in Hamilton Hall again.”
      • A pretty wild story told from a unique perspective
    • How Counterprotesters at U.C.L.A. Provoked Violence, Unchecked for Hours (EIGHT JOURNALISTS!, New York Times): “A New York Times examination of more than 100 videos from clashes at the University of California, Los Angeles, found that violence ebbed and flowed for nearly five hours, mostly with little or no police intervention. The violence had been instigated by dozens of people who are seen in videos counterprotesting the encampment.… Fifteen people were reportedly injured in the attack, according to a letter sent by the president of the University of California system to the board of regents.”
    • Behind the Ivy Intifada (Musa al-Gharbi, Compact Magazine): “Contrary to earlier claims by university and city officials about a large proportion of ‘outside agitators,’ more than 70 percent of those arrested at Columbia had a direct institutional tie to the university. This was reflected in how they were treated after arrest. Most of those swept up were released without charges. Among Columbia affiliates who were formally charged, none faced more than a single misdemeanor charge. Meanwhile, those who faced charges at City College, the nearby public university raided by police the same night, were all hit with felonies. While it’s possible that the City College kids just engaged in more extreme and unlawful activity, it seems more likely that belonging to the elite paid criminal-justice dividends for the Columbia arrestees.”
      • Wow. Well worth reading. Full of snarky insight. The author is a professor of communication at Stony Brook and is pro-Palestinian.
    • Check Your Privilege (Nick Catoggio, The Dispatch): “Academia could select for kids who show intellectual humility and curiosity, to borrow a point from my colleague Sarah Isgur. Instead they’ve selected for kids who feel not merely entitled to demand that their elders ‘check their privilege’ but morally justified in acting aggressively to make sure they do. All told, one might say that progressives, the great enemies of colonialism, have … colonized higher education over the past half-century. And you know how settler-colonialists are. They can be very defensive when you demand that they vacate territory they regard as rightly theirs. The behavior of campus progressives this month has radiated the sense that American universities are ‘theirs’ in a way that isn’t true of other students. It’s been pointed out repeatedly but can’t be emphasized enough that the sort of disruption in which they’ve engaged wouldn’t be tolerated from those whose political beliefs offended the administration’s leftist orthodoxy.”
  4. Perspectives and news about the war in Gaza
    • One Photo That Captures the Loss in Gaza (Nicholas Kristof, New York Times): “An American surgeon who volunteered in Gaza sent me a photo that sears me with its glimpse of overwhelming grief: A woman mourns her young son.… The nurses and other doctors who were in the I.C.U. that day said that Karam died of complications from malnutrition.”
    • Israel orders Al Jazeera to close its local operation and seizes some of its equipment (Tia Goldenberg and Jon Gambrell, AP News): “The extraordinary order, which includes confiscating broadcast equipment, preventing the broadcast of the channel’s reports and blocking its websites, is believed to be the first time Israel has ever shuttered a foreign news outlet operating in the country.… While including on-the-ground reporting of the war’s casualties, its Arabic arm often publishes verbatim video statements from Hamas and other regional militant groups.… Al Jazeera has been closed or blocked by other Mideast governments.”
    • Kol Hakavod (Russ Roberts, Substack): “Israel going to the finals really shouldn’t float my boat and make my heart sing. But it did. Because here’s the thing. The decision about who advanced to the Eurovision finals tomorrow night was done by a popular vote. There’s no panel of judges in the semifinal round.… Golan advanced. Despite the thousands who marched in the streets and the dozens who booed Golan in the rehearsal hall, probably millions, from the safety of their homes, were able to cast an anonymous vote for Israel.”
  5. The Heresy of Christian Buddhism (Anonymous, Substack): “…while many men can easily recognise the moral evil of debauchery and worldliness, not many see the danger of an ascetic puritanism that pushes too far. Too much emphasis on sin, too much emphasis on humility, too much emphasis on heaven and even too much emphasis on Christ to the exclusion of man soon leads to a Christianity that hates the individual, individuation and the created world. Christianity starts to resemble Buddhism.”
    • Follow-up: The Buddhist Mood in Evangelicalism (Aaron Renn, Substack): “…the de facto definition of idolatry is wanting anything so much that, if you don’t get it, you are very upset. Hence, the path to avoiding sin and idolatry, the way to please God, is to purge oneself of desires. This is Buddhism. Undoubtedly it would be possible for someone to be engaged in idolatry in some of these cases. But there are a lot of things in this world you should be upset about.”
  6. When Intrusive Thoughts Come (John Beeson, The Gospel Coalition): “Nurture mental playgrounds of gospel creativity.Many of us expend so much energy trying to knock down destructive intrusive thoughts that we have no energy to build constructive imaginations. We believe our minds are dangerous and need to be shut down. But your mind is a gift God intends to be leveraged for his glory. He desires to reshape your mind to become a factory of God-glorifying curiosity.”
    • Recommended by a student

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

  • Cruise ship sails into New York City port with 44-foot dead whale across its bow (ABC News): “A cruise ship sailed into a New York City port with a 44-foot dead whale across its bow, marine authorities said. The whale, identified as an endangered sei whale, was caught on the ship’s bow when it arrived at the Port of Brooklyn on Saturday, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration fisheries spokesperson Andrea Gomez said.”
    • I guess it’s the nautical equivalent of a car hitting a deer. Yikes.

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 451

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 451, which feels like it is maybe a prime number but it turns out that 451 = 11 · 41.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Was Paul a Slave? (Mark R. Fairchild and Jordan K. Monson, Christianity Today): “Reconciling the Pharisee, Hebrew of Hebrews, Aramaic-speaking zealot Paul with the Roman citizen, globetrotting, Greek-speaking Paul seems impossible. Unless, that is, we consider the early church’s recollection of Paul’s upbringing as a child in an enslaved family. ‘The manumission of Paul’s father solves these problems,’ Riesner told me.”
    • The title is a little misleading — the question is really whether Paul was born a slave and later freed (they do explain Acts 22:28, “When Paul told the commander in Acts 22:28 that he was ‘born’ a Roman citizen, that word, gennao, can refer to birth or adoption. Freed Roman slaves were often adopted into their master’s family and given a Roman name and citizenship.”
    • The authors are scholars with relevant expertise. The middle section of the article is where all the meat is and makes some good points. The opening and closing felt like fluff to me.
    • Unlocked.
  2. Stuff about the college protests
    • For most people, politics is about fitting in (Nate Silver, Substack): “People are trying to figure out where they fit in — who’s on their side and who isn’t. And this works in both directions: people can be attracted to a group or negatively polarized by it.… Notice what’s missing from my list? The notion of politics as a battle of ideas.”
    • College protesters seek amnesty to keep arrests and suspensions from trailing them (Jocelyn Gecker, AP News): “Petocz said protesting in high school was what helped get him into Vanderbilt and secure a merit scholarship for activists and organizers. His college essay was about organizing walkouts in rural Florida to oppose Gov. Ron DeSantis’ anti-LGBTQ policies. ‘Vanderbilt seemed to love that,’ Petocz said.’ ”
    • What Students Read Before They Protest (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “[Reading the syllabus explains] the two things that seem so disproportionate in these protests and the culture that surrounds them. First, it explains why this conflict attracts such a scale of on-campus attention and action and disruption, while so many other wars and crises (Sudan, Congo, Armenia, Burma, Yemen …) are barely noticed or ignored. Second, it explains why the attention seems to leap so quickly past critique into caricature, past sympathy for the Palestinians into justifications for Hamas, past condemnation of Israeli policy into anti-Semitism.”
    • In an Online World, a New Generation of Protesters Chooses Anonymity (Nicholas Fandos, New York Times): “On campuses from New England to Southern California, students leading one of the largest protest movements in decades have increasingly strapped on face masks and checkered Palestinian kaffiyehs in a polarizing bid to protect their anonymity even as they demand universities and governments be held to account. The choice represents a sharp break by many, though not all, of these students from earlier generations of university activists, who gained their moral force in part by putting their words on record and their futures in jeopardy for a larger cause.”
    • How Protesters Can Actually Help Palestinians (Nicholas Kristof, New York Times): “…this may sound zany, but how about raising money to send as many of your student leaders as possible this summer to live in the West Bank and learn from Palestinians there (while engaging with Israelis on the way in or out)? West Bank monitors say that a recent Israeli crackdown on foreigners helping Palestinians, by denying entry or deporting people, has made this more difficult but not impossible. Student visitors must be prudent and cautious but could study Arabic, teach English and volunteer with human rights organizations on the ground. Palestinians in parts of the West Bank are under siege, periodically attacked by settlers and in need of observers and advocates.”
  3. Some stuff about gender:
    • The Battle of the Sexes Needs a Truce (Thomas Adamo and Isabella Griepp, Stanford Review): “We must acknowledge how society has lied to both men and women since they were boys and girls—lies that have done nothing but bring about disharmony between the sexes. In seeking to empower young girls, parents and teachers have de-emphasized the innate differences between the sexes. And, any differences between the sexes were explained in terms of how men had historically oppressed women, rather than the unique and valuable characteristics that men and women inherently possess.”
      • The authors are students in Chi Alpha.
    • The Masculinity Pyramid (Seth Troutt, Mere Orthodoxy): “A man who is overly concerned with how he is different from women is missing the holy instinct of Adam, who first notices the sameness of Eve and second notices their differences (Gen 2:23).”
    • Scripts for Healthy Masculinity (Seth Troutt, Mere Orthodoxy): “…men ought to be differentiated from God, animals, boys, and women. When properly considered, those four distinctions yield the four core masculine virtues of humility (in our differentiation from God), discipline (in our differentiation from animals), responsibility (in our differentiation from boys), and chivalry (in our differentiation from women).”
  4. There’s Really No Good Reason to Use TikTok (Samuel D. James, Substack): “TikTok is, in my view, a social media platform devoid of positive benefit. I do not mean by that that it is wholly evil or cannot be used except sinfully. Rather, I think TikTok simply lacks any merit as a platform and is only useful in the sense that it is passively entertaining. This is also how I would describe things like soap operas, professional wrestling, and the national hot dog eating contest. The difference, though, between TikTok and those things, is that TikTok is 1) addictive, 2) actively corrosive to thinking, and 3) marketed to and consumed by an enormous number of children.”

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 450

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.

450 is a cool number because it ends in 50. Which is just cool.

It’s also something called an Arabian Nights factorial, meaning that 450! has 1001 digits. What a fun concept!

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Pro-Palestinian Encampments Spread, Leading to Hundreds of Arrests (Anna Betts, New York Times): “In the week since Columbia University started cracking down on pro-Palestinian protesters occupying a lawn on its campus, protests and encampments have sprung up at other colleges and universities across the country. Police interventions on several campuses have led to more than 400 arrests so far.”
    • Scenes of Protests Spread at Elite Campuses (Troy Closson, New York Times): “Nearly 50 people were arrested at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., on Monday morning, following the arrests last week of more than 100 protesters at Columbia University in New York City. The arrests unleashed a wave of activism across other campuses.… The flurry of protests has presented a steep challenge for university leaders, as some Jewish students say they have faced harassment and antisemitic comments. Early Monday morning, Columbia announced a same-day shift to online classes because of the protests. Barnard College, across the street, followed suit hours later.”
    • The Carnage Is the Point (Dan Drezner, Substack): “Universities like Columbia have handled this poorly, although their response pales in comparison to how some elected officials want them to respond. An awful lot of politicians have been calling on the use of force against protestors. Senators Tom Cotton and Josh Hawley have called for the National Guard to be deployed in Columbia, as has Speaker of the House Mike Johnson. Earlier this week Texas governor Greg Abbott enthusiastically sent Texas state troopers to conduct mass arrests, breaking up an unsanctioned but nonviolent demonstration at the University of Texas at Austin. Cotton, Hawley, Johnson, and Abbott are a lot of things, but stupid they are not. Why would they call for coercion when they must be fully aware that such an approach would further fan the flames of protest?”
    • An interesting analysis. Worth your time.
  2. No, There Are No “Trans” Animals (Emma Hilton and Jonathan Kay, Quillette): “Do some creatures change sex? Absolutely. But this isn’t new information. It’s a fact that biologists have known about for a long time. What is also well-known is that none of these sex-changing creatures are mammals, much less human. Rather, they’re insects, fish, lizards, and marine invertebrates whose biology is different from our own in countless (fascinating) ways. What’s more, in every single case described above, there are always (at most) just two distinct sexes at play—no matter how those two sexes may switch or combine. One of those sexes is male, a sex associated with gonads that produce sperm (testes); and the other is female, with gonads that produce eggs (ovaries). There’s nothing else on the menu. It’s just M and F.”
    • Recommended by a student.
  3. Ex-athletic director accused of framing principal with AI arrested at airport with gun (Kristen Griffith & Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Banner): “Eiswert’s voice, which police and AI experts believe was simulated, made disparaging comments toward Black students and the surrounding Jewish community, was widely circulated on social media.”
    • AI crimes are fixing to get wild. In case you haven’t been keeping up, AI-generated video and audio is shockingly good. https://twitter.com/reidhoffman/status/1783145009153450374 <– check this wild example. Reid Hoffman (one of the so-called ‘Paypal Mafia’, founder of LinkedIn) interviews an AI avatar of himself for about 14 minutes.
  4. What Is a Woman? What Is a Man? (Aaron Renn, Substack): “The key is to understand who men and women are, biologically, sociologically, and culturally. What we will see is that evangelicals have very little to say about this.”
  5. How do you get siblings to be nice to each other? Latino families have an answer (Michaeleen Doucleff, NPR): “I ask Cindy the same question I posed to scientists: How do you teach children to find joy in helping their siblings? And she answers exactly the same as the scientists answered: ‘We model it.’ Cindy says. Cindy models not just helping her siblings, but also the joy she receives from the relationships she has with her brothers and sisters.”
  6. Changes in College Admissions (Zvi Mowshowitz, Substack): “Starting in August 2024, LSAT to eliminate the Logic Games (Analytic Reasoning) section, the hardest, most fun and most objective and intelligence-testing part of the whole test. Normally I would be against dumbing down our testing, but keeping smart people from becoming lawyers is not the worst idea.”
    • The whole thing is interesting. The excerpt is amusing.
  7. Astronomers Find Evidence Of A Massive Object Beyond The Orbit Of Neptune (James Felton, IFL Science): “Carrying out simulations to try and discover what best explains the orbits of these objects, the team found that a model that includes a massive planet beyond the region of Neptune explained the steady state of these objects much better than in simulations where planet 9 was not included. In the model, the team included other variables, such as the galactic tide and the gravitational influence of passing stars.”

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

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 445

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 445, which feels like it ought to have many factors. But it’s just 89 * 5.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Harvard, M.I.T. and Systemic Antisemitism (David French, New York Times): “…what’s happening to Jewish students and faculty at several elite campuses is so comprehensive and all-consuming that it can only be described as systemic antisemitism.”
    • Recommended by a student. Worth reading. Unlocked.
  2. How To Save a Democracy (Quico Toro, Substack): “Watching videos of the protest now, what strikes you is that Bernardo Arévalo is seldom mentioned. K’iche’ leaders were at pains to emphasize they were not there to favor one politician or another. They were there to defend their votes. If Arévalo’s name was seldom uttered, the name of Jesus Christ was constantly invoked.”
    • A remarkable story. 
  3. Piety and Profanity: The Raunchy Christians Are Here (Ruth Graham, New York Times): “The partial embrace of vulgarity, Dr. Kobes Du Mez pointed out, is happening in a moment of deep conservative outrage, an often visceral disgust, at rising rates of nontraditional gender and sexual identities, particularly among young people. In that context, an indulgence in heterosexual lust, even if in poor taste, is becoming seen as not just benign, but maybe even healthy and noble. Part of the reason transgender identities are considered a threat is that they blur gender difference, Dr. Kobes Du Mez said. ‘Against that backdrop, it’s a wholesome thing for a boy to be lusting after a very sexy woman.’”
    • Unlocked.
  4. Steven D. Levitt (Freakonomics co-author and University of Chicago Economics Professor) on His Career And Decision To Retire From Academic Economics (Jon Hartley, Capitalism and Freedom): “I had always been the smartest kid or close to the smartest kid, but then I got to MIT and I realized my God these people are incredible. Not just what they know but how they think. So, I knew from day one I was the odd man out. I mean I’m not even exaggerating when I say that there was a group of people in the in-crowd. Austan Goolsbee, my good friend Austan Goolsbee was one of the in-crowds. And Austan told me that maybe a month into our first year at MIT, the in-crowd sat down and they made a list of the five people most likely to fail out. And I was on that list of five.”
    • An absolutely delightful interview. The above link is to the transcript, but I recommend the audio version.
  5. The Policy Stakes in this Election Are High (Josh Barro, Substack): “This presidential election is not very interesting, but it is important. And some of the reasons it’s important are the banal reasons that every presidential election is important: You get different policy outcomes depending on who gets elected.”
    • Written from a center-left perspective. Even if you disagree with Barro on your preferred policy outcomes, I think he does a nice job of summarizing some of the most important differences (although he leaves off a few big ones about which the two administrations have different track records such as religious freedom, DEI issues, etc).
  6. Are Drunk People in New Orleans More Sensible Than Congress? (Ben Meets America, YouTube): four minutes. If the quality continues, I will probably be sharing most installments of this series.
  7. Which Cities are the Least Religious? (Ryan Burge, Substack): “The least religious cities are at the top and there are two clear winners here: San Francisco and Seattle. In both cases, about seven in ten adults are attending religious services less than once a year. But I think that San Francisco make take the crown for most secular — just 12% of folks in that city are attending church at least once a month.”
    • Emphasis removed for readability

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

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 444

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 444, which is just the same digit repeated. I like that. Clean. Classy. Elegant.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Rant About Worship Songs (Jeremy Pierce, First Things): “Here are some of the things I really hate in a worship song.”
    • This is brilliant, from back in 2010.
  2. Top OnlyFans creator making $300,000 a month turns to Christ, walks away from porn industry (John Knox, Not The Bee): “From what I can tell, Nala here isn’t going through a Lil’ Nas X ‘Christian era’ where she’s aging out of porn and wants to rebrand herself as a good girl again before pivoting to another grift. All I see is genuine joy, like the prostitute who wept and was forgiven at Jesus’ feet.”
    • Includes a video of her sharing her testimony. I love this part: “The devil can truly give you things in this life. He has a budget, though. He can only go so far.… The devil has a budget, but God does not.”
  3. Latinos Are Flocking to Evangelical Christianity (Marie Arana, The Free Press): “In fact, some researchers project that by 2030, half of the entire population of American Latinos will identify as Protestant evangelicals. Compare that growth with white evangelical Protestants, whose numbers have declined from 23 percent of the American population in 2006 to 14 percent in 2020. With the Hispanic population’s projected growth, in less than a decade, we may see forty million Latinos—a congregation the size of California—heading to American evangelical churches every Sunday.”
  4. Is Rome a True Church? (Chris Castaldo, Mere Orthodoxy): “Protestants tend to answer the question of Roman Catholicism’s status in one of two ways. Looking through the lens of the early creeds (i.e., Nicene and Apostles’), some understand it to be fundamentally orthodox. The rationale is simple: because the creeds uphold the basic tenets of Christianity, and Rome upholds those creeds, her apostolicity is affirmed. Roman Catholicism is thus regarded as ‘inside the pale.’ An alternative reading, one that probably informed the Facebook comment, is to view the Roman Catholic Church through the lens of the sixteenth-century Reformation in which the Council of Trent anathematized (pronounced to be cursed) the doctrine of justification by faith alone. Because such faith is recognized as the driving center of the biblical gospel, and Rome forcefully repudiates the doctrine, the Roman Church is therefore considered incompatible with biblical faith.  I recognize the logic in these positions, but in my opinion, both are incomplete.”
  5. Journalism Has a Religion Problem (Andrew T. Walker, National Review): “Journalism has a religion problem. More specifically, journalists are either unaware or unwilling to admit that their own views, presumably untouched by ‘religion,’ are nonetheless passionately held convictions grounded, well, somewhere. What do I mean by that? Well, journalism that touches on religion and politics tends to see religious viewpoints as carrying a special burden. It goes something like this: ‘Tell me, Mr. Pious, why a diverse population should accept your views on morality, considering they come from religion.’ ”
  6. Harvard Tramples the Truth (Martin Kulldorff,City Journal): “…as I discovered, truth can get you fired. This is my story—a story of a Harvard biostatistician and infectious-disease epidemiologist, clinging to the truth as the world lost its way during the Covid pandemic.… Two Harvard colleagues tried to arrange a debate between me and opposing Harvard faculty, but just as with Stanford, there were no takers. The invitation to debate remains open. The public should not trust scientists, even Harvard scientists, unwilling to debate their positions with fellow scientists.”
  7. How the Gaza Ministry of Health Fakes Casualty Numbers (Abraham Wyner, Tablet Magazine): “If Hamas’ numbers are faked or fraudulent in some way, there may be evidence in the numbers themselves that can demonstrate it. While there is not much data available, there is a little, and it is enough: From Oct. 26 until Nov. 10, 2023, the Gaza Health Ministry released daily casualty figures that include both a total number and a specific number of women and children.”
    • The author is a professor of statistics at the Wharton School, and I find his analysis compelling.

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

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 441

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 441, which is 212 and also the smallest square which is the sum of six consecutive cubes: 13 + 23 + 33 + 43 + 53 + 63

No amusing stuff at the end this week. I’ve been busy traveling and am vastly underamused.😅

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Blessed Are Those Who Mourn (T. M. Suffield, Mere Orthodoxy): “Pennington describes the beatitudes as ‘divine gold of priceless worth’ that ‘appears to be only darkness.’ Like wisdom sayings they don’t give up their gold immediately. They are supposed to shock us and I fear we have become overly familiar with them. Jesus is arguing that flourishing, the good life, requires mourning. The thing the modern world wants to avoid most, sadness, is somehow a key to a good life. To us this appears to be profoundly non-flourishing. The shock we should feel is part of how the beatitudes are meant to work.”
    • This is a wise and perceptive essay. 10/10 recommend.
  2. How Feminism Ends (Ginevra Davis, American Affairs Journal): “If the goal of feminism is to improve the lot of females, then there are dozens of changes, social and scientific, that could help alleviate their condition. But if the goal of feminism is perfect sexual equality—that no mind should ever have to make sacrifices, in productivity or love, because of its body—then the end of feminism must, necessarily, mean the end of females. There is no other way.”
    • A long but fabulous essay. It’s by a Stanford grad, incidentally — this is the same author who wrote about Stanford’s war on fun a while back. I don’t think we ever crossed paths when she was a student.
    • Vaguely related (but interesting enough in its own right that I would have included it regardless): Stanford Medicine study identifies distinct brain organization patterns in women and men (Stanford Medicine): “A new study by Stanford Medicine investigators unveils a new artificial intelligence model that was more than 90% successful at determining whether scans of brain activity came from a woman or a man. The findings, published Feb. 20 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, help resolve a long-term controversy about whether reliable sex differences exist in the human brain and suggest that understanding these differences may be critical to addressing neuropsychiatric conditions that affect women and men differently.”
  3. I’m a foster kid who went to Yale —and I think two-parent families are more important than college (Rikki Schlott, New York Post): “Even though I was always academically inclined, the level of disorder in my life was weighing me down so much that I wasn’t in a position to fully exploit my own capabilities.… I had a class where a professor administered an anonymous poll. Out of the 20 students, 18 of them had been raised by both of their birth parents. That just floored me because where I grew up it was zero.”
  4. Kinda Nice (Damola Morenikeji, Substack): “A kind person will help you understand reality as it is, prompt you to reflect, and nudge you to fine-tune your position till you get to a place where your resolution is helpful for you. A nice person will tell you what feels good — and often what you think you want to hear at that time — even if it doesn’t help you move past that situation.”
  5. Our Unhappy Youth (Anthony Esolen, Crisis Magazine): “Instead of asking why they are unhappy, we might ask why they aren’t happy,which might in turn lead us to ask what they have to be happy about. That might reveal to us in all its drabness what appears to be the most antihuman way of life that any civilization has ever settled into: becalmed without rest, somber without sobriety, abstracted without thought, licentious without even the animal vigor of license; ever shouting, but without good cheer.”
  6. Are ‘Islamists in Charge of Britain’? (Konstantin Kisin, The Free Press): “In one sense, the Speaker’s decision was not unfounded. MPs really are at risk. Only weeks prior, Mike Freer, a Conservative MP who represents a constituency with a significant Jewish population, announced that he would not be seeking reelection because of threats to him and his family over his support for Israel. Explaining his decision, he revealed that he had started wearing stab-proof vests when meeting constituents. In 2021 another Conservative MP, Sir David Amess, was stabbed to death by an Islamist at such a meeting. In 2017, an Islamist terrorist mowed down pedestrians before stabbing an unarmed police officer to death outside the gates of Parliament.”
    • Recommended by an alumnus.
  7. Gaza’s Past Is Calling (Sarah Aziza, Lux Magazine): “Coming up in the 1990s and 2000s, the word ‘Gaza’ was already synonymous with ‘Hamas’ — a term which, I quickly learned, rendered an entire population monstrous. I am ashamed I often mumbled the name — Gaza — when white Americans asked about my family origins. It hurt to watch them flinch, to see in their cold stares the impossibility that Gaza could ever mean mothers, banana, joy. The world they erased — and erase — my father’s fingers, drawing in the sand. My grandmother’s pigeons, her particular way of brewing tea. The thousand, thousand feet that have run into the Mediterranean, each laughter a different splash. Gaza, for me, means teeming — a cruel over-concentration of bodies, yes, but at the same time, one of the world’s densest points of human love.”

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 439

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 439, which is not only a prime number and the sum of three consecutive primes (139 + 149 + 151), but also the sum of nine consecutive primes (31 + 37 + 41 + 43 + 47 + 53 + 59 + 61 + 67). Which is, you know, a lotta primes.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. How Digital Apps Are Changing How We Read the Bible (John Dyer, Text & Canon): “I asked both groups to read the book of Jude and then tell me (1) what the point of the book was, and (2) how it made them feel. Interestingly, two opposite trends emerged. The print readers said they felt Jude was about God’s judgment while the phone readers tended to emphasize God’s faithfulness. But then, on the second question, their answers seemed to split. The print readers, who felt the book was about God’s judgment, said they were encouraged by the reading. The phone readers on the other hand who said Jude was about God’s faithfulness, said after reading it that they felt discouraged and confused. So what can account for that difference? Why is a judgmental God encouraging and a faithful God discouraging?”
  2. The Grand Canyon-Sized Chasm Between Elites and Ordinary Americans (Rob K. Henderson, Substack): “Perhaps the most striking divergence between elite and non-elite opinion: Although the majority of ordinary voters oppose the strict rationing of meat, electricity, and gas to fight climate change, 89% of Ivy graduates and 77% of elites overall are in favor of it.”
  3. What Happened When My Church Encountered Negative World (Patrick Miller, Mere Orthodoxy): “You can tell our church’s story in a way that makes us the victims of the progressives, but that’s not our full story. Nor is it the story of most non-coastal churches that refused to go pro-Trump or pro-Biden in 2020. Pastors at such churches will tell you the same story: The negative world bows before golden donkeys and elephants.”
  4. Sarah Isgur’s Majority Report (Kelefah Sanneh, The New Yorker): “Through the eyes of Isgur and French, the American legal system generally appears to be a place where smart people assess good-faith arguments and compose thoughtful essays explaining their decisions. Their underlying contention is that the Supreme Court is good, even, or perhaps especially, in its current incarnation.… In an era of aggrieved political discourse, Isgur is something unusual: a commentator who truly seems to love the government institution she covers.”
    • Advisory Opinions is one of my favorite podcasts and I’m not remotely a lawyer. Isgur and French are amazing.
  5. The Devil’s Face in Gaza (Gerald McDermott, First Things): “The minister of tourism, a rabbi, told an Israeli Christian leader, ‘We hope you send missionaries to the Arabs here.’ The Christian was shocked: ‘Don’t you hate missionaries?’ The government minister replied, ‘If you teach them what you believe, we will have peace in the Middle East.’”
  6. Some Stanford news:
    • Sit-in on Islamophobia replaces pro-Israel tent in White Plaza (Dilan Gohill, Stanford Daily): “Organizers set up the Sit-in to Stop Islamophobia on the White Plaza lawn — a space previously occupied by the Blue and White Tent. Tent organizers told The Daily they made an indefinite reservation through Cardinal Engage. According to Feigelis, University administration told the Sit-In to Stop Islamophobia that the space was reserved for the Blue and White Tent. He said as long as the sit-in refuses to relocate, the tent cannot reassemble. The Daily has reached out to the University for comment. ‘We did not move your stuff — the wind destroyed it, you cleaned it up. We saw an open space, we set up here, we’re happy to coexist.’ El Boudali said. He added that organizers set up in White Plaza due to its high traffic.”
    • Stanford students protest new ban on overnight sit-in camping (Lauren Irwin, The Hill): “Stanford said its level of concern has risen to a point that it can no longer support overnight activities.”
    • Read the official Stanford statement: Preserving free speech and safety on White Plaza (Stanford News): “Moving forward, any tents, tables, chairs, or other similar items will need to be removed from White Plaza between the hours of 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. Any overnight displays and/or camping items left unoccupied are subject to removal for health and safety reasons. Students who violate the no-camping policy will be subject to a disciplinary referral to the Office of Community Standards and may also be cited for trespass for failing to comply with a university directive.”
    • And not exactly Stanford news, but not not Stanford news: Law schools must adopt free speech policies to maintain ABA accreditation (Lexi Lonas, The Hill): “The new standard requires schools to adopt a policy that would allow faculty, students and staff ‘to communicate ideas that may be controversial or unpopular, including through robust debate, demonstrations or protests,’ and would forbid activities that disrupt or impinge on free speech. But it wouldn’t impose specific policy language,’”’ the statement added.”
  7. The Political Preferences of LLMs (David Rozado, Substack): “When probed with questions/statements with political connotations most conversational LLMs tend to generate responses that are diagnosed by most political test instruments as manifesting preferences for left-of-center viewpoints. This does not appear to be the case for base (i.e. foundation) models upon which LLMs optimized for conversation with humans are built. Though not conclusive, our results provide supporting evidence for the intriguing hypothesis that the embedding of political preferences into LLMs might be happening mostly post-pretraining. Namely, during the supervised fine-tuning (SFT) and/or Reinforcement Learning (RL) stages of the conversational LLMs training pipeline.”
    • In other words, the AI tools we see appear to have political preferences trained into them by the companies that are creating them, although it is not clear to what extent this is deliberately being done.
    • The author is a professor of data science in New Zealand — https://drozado.github.io/

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

  • History of Japan (Bill Wurz, YouTube): nine amazing minutes — genuinely worth your time if you have any interest in Japan at all. Or in how to teach history using video. He leaves a bunch out and definitely throws his opinion around, but it’s hard to see how he could have done anything else in nine minutes. Really good.

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.