Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 434

On (most) Fridays I share articles/resources about broad cultural, societal and theological issues. I skipped last week due to the holidays.

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 434, a number which is a palindrome. It is also the sum of consecutive primes: 434 = 61 + 67 + 71 + 73 + 79 + 83

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Our Godless era is dead (Paul Kingsnorth, UnHerd): “I grew up believing in things which I now look on very differently. To put career before family. To accumulate wealth as a marker of status. To treat sex as recreation. To reflexively mock authority and tradition. To put individual desire before community responsibility. To treat the world as so much dead matter to be interrogated by the scientific process. To assume our ancestors were thicker than us. I did all of this, or tried to, for years. Most of us did, I suppose. Perhaps above all, and perhaps at the root of all, there was one teaching that permeated everything. It was to treat religion as something both primitive and obsolete. Simply a bunch of fairy stories invented by the ignorant. Simply a mechanism of social control. Nothing to do with us, here, now, in our very modern, sexually liberated, choose-your-own-adventure world.”
  2. Part of a Christian’s Job is to Point Out that Modern Life Stinks (Samue D. James, Substack): “Part of the evangelical witness right now should be to point out that modern life stinks. Its technology makes us lonely. Its sexuality makes us empty. Its psychotherapy makes us self-obsessed. Many people are on the brink of oblivion, held back in some cases only by medication or political identity. We struggle to articulate why we should continue to live. Evangelicals should jump in here.”
    • The end is straight fire.
  3. Universities Are Not on the Level (Josh Barro, Substack): “I personally have also developed a more negative view of colleges and universities over the last decade, and my reason is simple: I increasingly find these institutions to be dishonest. A lot of the research coming out of them does not aim at truth, whether because it is politicized or for more venal reasons. The social justice messaging they wrap themselves in is often insincere. Their public accountings of the reasons for their internal actions are often implausible. They lie about the role that race plays in their admissions and hiring practices. And sometimes, especially at the graduate level, they confer degrees whose value they know will not justify the time and money that students invest to get them. The most recent debacle at Harvard, in which large swathes of academia seem to have conveniently forgotten what the term ‘plagiarism’ means so they don’t have to admit that Claudine Gay engaged in it, is only the latest example of the lying that is endemic on campus.”
    • Related: Harvard Couldn’t Save Both Claudine Gay and Itself (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “The Ivy League believes in its progressive doctrines, but not as much as it believes in its own indispensability, its permanent role as an incubator of privilege and influence.”
    • Also related: The Claudine Gay Affair (Frederick M. Hess, American Enterprise Institute): “Higher ed doesn’t have many friends on the right. In my experience, elite college leaders aren’t all that bothered by this (some seem perversely proud of it). Well, when publicly-supported, highly visible institutions choose to take sides in political and cultural fights, there are consequences. With the right having lost faith in higher ed and becoming increasingly comfortable pushing back on the college cartel, campus leaders had better strap in for a bumpy ride.”
      • Brief and interesting, especially the personal connection to Claudine Gay.
  4. My Bible Reading Feels Flat — What Can I Do? (John Piper, Desiring God): “Is there something you can do to move from ears attending to words and minds grasping for knowledge to hearts experiencing pleasantness of what is within? Is there anything you can do? [The writer of Proverbs 22 says] yes, and the words he uses go like this: ‘Apply your heart to what your ear has heard and the knowledge that’s forming in your mind.’”
    • Recommended by a student
  5. Did Islamic beliefs trigger the use of rape in Hamas attacks? If ‘yes,’ reporters should say so (Julia Duin, GetReligion): “Well, what happened to these Israeli women was off the charts and it’s about time reporters called it out for what it was. The attackers believed that their violence was sanctioned by religion, just as much as it was driven by revenge. Hindu human-rights activists have no illusions about these realities. I chanced upon a political Hindu site that compares the Hamas brutalities against Jewish women with Muslim invasions of India and the mass rapes of Hindu women as recently as 1971.… [it blames] the whole rape-and-sex-slavery emphasis of invading Islamic hordes on Islam allowing each man four wives and limitless slaves and concubines. The latter really aren’t in vogue in the 21st century but ISIS had a huge sex slave system going among captive Yazidi women in Iraq and Syria roughly from 2014–2017.”
    • This is a disturbing read. Also, this is not an indictment of Islam as a whole, but it is certainly an indictment of some Muslim theologies.

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 425

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 425, the sum of 3 consecutive primes. 425 = 137 + 139 + 149

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. I’m going to start today’s roundup off with an explanation of why this email is the way it is. First read this brief article by Nate Silver: It’s easy to screw up on breaking news. But you have to admit when you do. (Nate Silver, Substack): “This morning, Gallup published its annual poll on trust in the media. Overall, only 32 percent of Americans say they trust the mass media ‘a great deal’ or ‘a fair amount’ to ‘report the news fully, accurately and fairly’ — tied with 2016 for a record low. ”
    • Silver’s article made me reflect on how I think about modern journalism and then made me want to explain it. First, I do believe journalists try to get things right. Places like the NYT and the Washington Post rarely publish false information and generally correct falsehoods when they become aware of them. The more specific a claim is the more likely it is to be true.
    • Journalists do, however, frequently fail to report true information they are not interested in or excited about. This is rarely a conscious choice — it’s just a byproduct of the way they think about reality. This comes up especially on so-called “culture war” issues. Many top-notch reporters are simultaneously unaware of and strangely incurious about many of the facts and stories around transgenderism, marriage, religious liberty, and so on.
    • In fact, newsrooms are so ideologically monocultural that there are often massive holes in what is reported. Not only are reporters blind to inconvenient facts, they are often blind to entire stories and trends. An excellent historical example of this is whenever the 60s and 70s are remembered. America legit experienced a Great Awakening (the Jesus People movement) that happened in parallel with the Sexual Revolution. We only ever talk about the second not because reporters/commentators are suppressing knowledge of the Jesus People but because they genuinely are not even aware that they existed or that what happened then is still shaping our culture today.
    • And so when I want a fact, I turn to someplace like the NYT, WaPo, WSJ, Reuters or to a credible expert who writes directly to the public (Ryan Burge is a good example of this). But when I want an analysis, I look for credible, sane voices both within and without the confines of the media establishment. I frequently look to places like Substack or niche websites like Mere Orthodoxy or to mainstream media commentators like Ross Douthat or David French or Megan McArdle who have a track record of synthesizing information accurately and forming opinions wisely.
    • And when I’m reading something, I often ask, “Does this perspective seem plausible in light of my experience?” Especially when it is a claim about evangelicalism or charismatic/Pentecostal Christianity — I likely know more about that world than 98% of the staff of the New York Times (and after reading some articles I think I know more about it than all their staff put together). Sometimes they take an oddball church or religious leader and put their story forward as representative when it is not at all.
    • Anyway, there is probably a lot more to say about modern media, but what I just said is pretty much why this weekly update features the mix of content that it does: mainstream media sources for facts and a diverse array of experts for analysis, all filtered through evangelical sensibilities.
    • A related thought on news consumption: periodicity (Alan Jacobs, personal blog): “The more unstable a situation is, the more rapidly it changes, the less valuable minute-by-minute reporting is. I don’t know what happened to the hospital in Gaza, but if I wait until the next issue of the Economist shows up I will be better informed about it than people who have been rage-refreshing their browser windows for the past several days, and I will have suffered considerably less emotional stress.… If you’re reading the news several times a day, you’re not being informed, you’re being stimulated.”
  2. Moving on, here are some articles that give context for the Israel war on Hamas:
    • Palestinian right of return matters (Matt Yglesias, Substack): “Because it seems to me that whatever you personally think about [the Palestinian right of return], it is absolutely central to how the Arab world and diaspora Jews and secular Israelis all view the conflict. Which in turn means that it’s central to the collapse of the Two-State Solution as a political construct and to the collapse of the peace camp in Israeli politics that might have been inclined make a deal that was favorable to Palestinian interests. There is, in fact, a whole school of thought associated with Bill Clinton and American negotiator Dennis Ross that holds the right of return almost single-handedly responsible for scuttling the Camp David talks and preventing the emergence of an independent Palestine. Of course, many other well-informed people deny that’s the case or believe it’s an oversimplification. But even if you think it is factually incorrect to say the resolution of this conflict hinges on the right of return, its centrality to so many of the narratives around this issue makes it an important concept to understand.”
    • The Forgotten History of the Term “Palestine” (Douglas J. Feith, Mosaic): “The term ‘Palestine’ was used for millennia without a precise geographic definition. That’s not uncommon—think of ‘Transcaucasus’ or ‘Midwest.’ No precise definition existed for Palestine because none was required. Since the Roman era, the name lacked political significance. No nation ever had that name.”
      • This is from back in 2021. Super interesting stuff.
    • Hamas does not yet understand the depth of Israeli resolve (Haviv Rettig Gur, Times of Israel): “That enemy is not the Palestinian people, of course, even though support for terror attacks is widespread among Palestinians. The enemy is not exactly Hamas either, though Hamas is part of it. The enemy is the Palestinian theory of Israelis that makes the violence seen on October 7 seem to many of them a rational step on the road to liberation rather than, as Israelis judge it, yet another in a long string of self-inflicted disasters for the Palestinian cause.… A tragedy is about to unfold in Gaza made worse by the long learning curve it will take for Hamas to grasp the depth of Israeli resolve. It has robbed Israel of any other interest but its destruction. In the Israeli mind, any brutality Hamas can commit it will commit. And so it cannot be allowed to ever commit any act ever again.”
  3. Some Christian perspectives
    • Antisemitic Violence and Its Shameful Defense (Mike Cosper, Christianity Today): “To be horrified by the slaughter of Israeli innocents doesn’t require denying the suffering of the Palestinian people. And caring for Palestinian innocents doesn’t require being cold or numb to the horrors of antisemitism and Hamas. We can condemn Hamas while demanding accountability from Israeli leaders who have fomented violence, elevated right-wing extremists, and excused violations of international law. Indeed, Christians should be marked by our willingness to oppose all injustice and to care for Israeli and Palestinian victims alike. And while that includes understanding that Palestinians have suffered great injustices from the government of Israel—as well as neighboring states of Egypt, Jordan, Iran, Lebanon, Syria, and Saudi Arabia, as well as Hamas and the Palestinian Authority itself—it must also include active rejection of antisemitism.”
    • Wither the Poisonous Plant of Hamas (Tamir Khouri, Christianity Today): “In this environment of hatred, racism, and violence, Hamas has exploited young people with false promises. With no horizon of hope, Hamas’s adherents in Palestine sank into darkness and helped Hamas victimize Israelis too. But it does not have to be this way. As Christians, we believe in the power of redemption. With real hope for the future of this land, these hateful movements will wither. For a lasting peace, we must respect the image of God in Israelis and Palestinians alike. Is it too much to ask that we don’t see this as a zero-sum game? Shouldn’t both Israelis and Palestinians live in the dignity God intended for us?”
      • The pseudonymous author is a Palestinian Christian who is an Israeli citizen.
  4. Some articles about modern academia:
    • Why Big Money Can’t Easily Change Campus Politics (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “…donors should find ways to give money to the actual students — through the Hillel or other Jewish or Israeli student groups if you’re especially concerned with the Jewish place on campus, but more generally through political or religious groups that promise to work against the school’s dominant assumptions, or through student associations that seem to foster free debate, or through campus-adjacent institutions that serve students but are independent of the schools. But not with the goal of using such student groups as a means of conflict with the administration or the faculty. Rather, with the goal that such groups can become microcosms of the university you loved once and fear no longer exists, cells in a body yet to be restored, whose health and flourishing within the large world of Penn or Harvard or wherever is an end unto itself.”
      • Ross Douthat speaks nothing but truth throughout this essay. If you know any gazillionaires who want to influence the trajectories of elite universities have them read this essay and then tell them about Chi Alpha. Mention we’d like a building near campus.
    • The War Comes to Stanford (Pamela Paul, New York Times): “Alma Andino, a Jewish senior at Stanford University, spent the day of Hamas’s attacks against Israel crying and distraught. Like many Jews around the country, much of the weekend passed on the phone with family members, fearing for the safety of friends and extended family in Israel. Andino’s fellow students in Columbae, the social justice and antiwar residential house where she is a residential assistant, held her through her panic attacks. ‘I felt so powerless,’ she recalled when we spoke this week. On Monday, a friend asked if she’d seen the banner some of her housemates were preparing to hang on the front of Columbae, the house she considered to be her community and her home. The sheet bore the slogan ‘Zionism is genocide’ in red letters, styled to look as if they were dripping with blood.… For Alma Andino, events on campus have already reached a breaking point. After begging her housemates not to hang the banner, she said the group debated for hours, with the implication they would desist only if a suitable justification for Israel’s existence could be given. They told her they felt that as student activists, they needed to display a message that would put them on the right side of history. We should be advocating for marginalized communities, they said. ‘Except for Jews?’ Alma replied. The group scoffed.”
    • What Conservatives Misunderstand About Radicalism at Universities (Tyler Austin Harper, The Atlantic): “The tension bursting into view right now—between a majority of scholars, for whom ‘decolonization’ means putting fewer white Europeans on their syllabi, and a small minority who believe it entails anything-goes violent revolution—is the unwelcome and unsurprising result of universities wanting to cosplay rebellion while still churning out Wall Street–executive alumni who will one day pad endowments that are larger than Israel’s annual defense budget.”
      • The title makes this sound more partisan than it is. 100% worth a read and ponder.
    • Students for Pogroms in Israel (Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic): “Looking back on the Manson killings, Joan Didion wrote, ‘Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969, ended at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive traveled like brushfire through the community, and in a sense this is true. The tension broke that day. The paranoia was fulfilled.’ A few people I know believe last Saturday’s attack on Israel and the responses from leftist student groups mark the end of the ‘Great Awokening.’ Although it is too early to evaluate the accuracy of that hypothesis, campus politics have certainly transformed in recent days. Now we are left wondering whether what comes next is better or worse than what preceded it.”
      • He makes specific mention of Stanford at one point, although it is hardly his focus.
    • Moral controversies and academic public health: Notes on navigating and surviving academic freedom challenges (Tyler VanderWeele, Global Epidemiology): “I think that there needs to be more open discussion in academia, and in society, about these matters. Most people, even those who are deeply concerned, seem very uneasy discussing these issues, for fear of being attacked for simply raising them. Colleagues at Harvard, ranging from an expert in child development to a clinician providing mental health care for teenage girls, have told me that they are uncomfortable sharing their concerns on these matters in many or most settings at Harvard. An evolutionary biologist at Harvard likewise recently came under attack because she explicitly stated that sex was biological and binary, even though she also noted that we can nevertheless respect a person’s gender identity. The attack was sufficiently severe, and the administration’s response sufficiently weak, that she eventually felt she had no choice but to resign. Rather than open discussion, it seems we are often now relying on anonymous articles, or brave, and subsequently vilified, authors and whistle-blowers to raise alternative viewpoints. One may strongly disagree with their positions, but it is not unreasonable to raise the questions.”
      • I removed hyperlinked footnotes from this excerpt for readability. This is worth reading as a model of maturely and wisely responding to academic intolerance. Not many scholars have comported themselves with as much class as VanderWeele when their views came under attack. Also, I learned in this article that VanderWeele is Catholic. I had assumed he was an evangelical based on something I heard elsewhere.
  5. Thinking about the moral dimensions of the war
    • The Moral Questions at the Heart of the Gaza War (David French, New York Times): “This is the problem Israeli soldiers and commanders face. They must protect their citizens from savagery. They must comply with the laws of war. And they must make a series of moral choices, under extreme duress, that can define them and their nation — all while they face a terrorist enemy that appears to possess no conscience at all.”
      • Worth reading. As I mentioned when I shared French’s previous article, he is more qualified than any other columnist I know to weigh in on this.
    • This Way for the Genocide, Ladies and Gentlemen (Chris Hedges, ScheerPost): “I spent seven years reporting on the conflict, four of them as the Middle East Bureau Chief of The New York Times. I stood over the bodies of Israeli victims of bus bombings in Jerusalem by Palestinian suicide-bombers. I saw rows of corpses, including children, in the corridors in Dar Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. I watched Israeli soldiers taunt small boys who in response threw rocks and were then callously shot in the Khan Younis refugee camp. I sheltered from bombs dropped by Israeli warplanes. I climbed over the rubble of demolished Palestinian homes and apartment blocks along the border with Egypt. I interviewed the bloodied and dazed survivors. I heard the soul crushing wails of mothers keening over the corpses of their children.… it is not Israel’s assault on Gaza I fear most. It is the complicity of an international community that licenses Israel’s genocidal slaughter and accelerates a cycle of violence it may not be able to control.”
      • Recommended by an alumnus.
  6. Smartphones Have Turbocharged the Danger of Porn (Mary Harrington, Wall Street Journal): “It should come as no surprise that the personalized, tactile, portable smartphone would be the digital portal of choice for something as intimate as porn consumption. But of the new compulsive behaviors enabled by smartphones, few have as intense and immediate a reward cycle as porn—or as many far-reaching consequences.”
  7. Is It Wrong to Cure Blindness? (Francesca Block, The Free Press): “The National Institutes of Health, the $40 billion-endowed funding arm of the Department of Health and Human Services, recently took a stand against ableism by proposing a change to its mission statement, which promises to ‘enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce illness and disability.’ An advisory committee within the NIH took issue with the phrase ‘reduce… disability,’ writing in a 66-page report published last December that it ‘could be interpreted as perpetuating ableist beliefs that disabled people are flawed and need to be ‘fixed.’ ”
    • There are legit insane perspectives being normalized in the world right now. Curing blindness is an unequivocal good.

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 What The Media Gets Wrong About Israel (Mattie Friedman, The Atlantic): “…one of the most important aspects of the media-saturated conflict between Jews and Arabs is also the least covered: the press itself. The Western press has become less an observer of this conflict than an actor in it, a role with consequences for the millions of people trying to comprehend current events, including policymakers who depend on journalistic accounts to understand a region where they consistently seek, and fail, to productively intervene.” This is an old article I share periodically, I think I first shared it way back in my fifth Friday email. Helpful in parsing media coverage in the current war.

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 417

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 417, which is clearly not prime because 4+1+7=12, but the prime factorization is surprising: it’s 3·139.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Advice for Students Entering College (Robert P. George, Mirror of Justice): “As the new academic year begins, I have some advice for conservative and religiously observant students who are entering colleges and universities in which their beliefs will place them in the minority, and perhaps make them feel like ‘outsiders.’ ”
  2. Glorifying God and Glorifying Mountains (Tim Challies, personal blog): “As I drove along the road I couldn’t help but notice how many people put themselves between the camera and the mountain so that the mountain was merely a prop, the backdrop for a photo that featured themselves. Often these influencers would be doing something showy or wearing something skimpy that was meant to draw the eye to themselves rather than to the mountain behind. They made themselves the focus of the photograph rather than the mountain. They stole the glory of the mountain by using it to glorify themselves. And this helps us understand how we can fail to glorify God. We place ourselves in the foreground so that God winds up in the background.”
  3. A single reform that could save 100,000 lives immediately (Ned Brooks and ML Cavanaugh, LA Times): “The head of the National Kidney Foundation testified in March that Medicare spends an estimated $136 billion, nearly 25% of its expenditures, on the care of people with a kidney disease. Of that, $50 billion is spent on people with end-stage kidney disease, on par with the entire U.S. Marine Corps budget.… The National Organ Transplant Act prohibits compensating kidney donors, which is strange in that in American society, it’s common to pay for plasma, bone marrow, hair, sperm, eggs and even surrogate pregnancies. We already pay to create and sustain life. Another way to think about this, as one bioethicist points out: ‘Every person in the chain of living organ donation, except one, profits.’ The hospital gets paid, the doctors and nurses and staff get paid, the pharmaceutical industry gets paid and the recipient is the main beneficiary. Everyone benefits except the donors, who get reimbursed only for their expenses.”
  4. Without Belief in a God, But Never Without Belief In A Devil (Rob K. Henderson, Substack): “Personally, I saw this when I first arrived at Yale. I recall being stunned at how status anxiety pervaded elite college campuses. Internally, I thought, ‘You’ve already made it, what are you so stressed out about?’ Hoffer, though, would say these students believed they had almost made it. That is why they were so aggravated. The closer they got to realizing their ambitions, the more frustrated they became about not already achieving them.”
  5. Why are Charismatics so Weird? (Sam Storms, personal blog): “There are approximately 645 million people in the world today who identify as either Pentecostal or charismatic. Among them there are certain leaders and popular voices who believe ‘weird’ things and have amassed a considerable following among those who are gullible and undiscerning. But for every one misguided teacher or internet personality there are thousands of faithful and biblically rooted, gospel-centered pastors and professors in the charismatic community. And for every one of those who naively falls for the ‘weird’ things said and done there are, again, thousands who do not.”
  6. Should I Offer My Pronouns? (Kara Bettis Carvalho, Christianity Today): “Earlier this year, Atlantic journalist George Packer argued against what he called ‘equity language’ and the often unreasonable pressure it puts on the culture. It is polite and dignifying to ‘address people as they request,’ Packer wrote, but equity language isn’t organic; it’s being ‘handed down in communiqués written by obscure ‘experts’ who purport to speak for vaguely defined ‘communities,’ remaining unanswerable to a public that’s being morally coerced.’ New language makes ideological claims, he wrote. ‘If you accept the change—as, in certain contexts, you’ll surely feel you must—then you also acquiesce in the argument.’ ”
    • Unlocked. Allows people from multiple perspectives to make their arguments.
  7. When few do great harm (Inquisitive Bird, Substack): “Another notable fact: approximately half of violent crime convictions were committed by people who already had 3 or more violent crime convictions. In other words, if after being convicted of 3 violent crimes people were prevented from further offending, half of violent crime convictions would have been avoided.… The fact that a small minority is responsible for a large chunk of crime is true for shoplifting and burglaries as well, perhaps to an even greater extent. Data from New York City finds that a tiny number of shoplifters commit thousands of theft. The police stated that nearly a third of all shoplifting arrests in the city in 2022 involved just 327 people, who collectively were arrested and rearrested more than 6,000 times. Thus 0.00386% of New York City’s population (327 out of 8.468 million, 1 in ~26,000) accounted for nearly a third of all shoplifting arrests in the city.” Emphasis in original.

    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 416

    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 416, which is mildly interesting in the following equation: ‑4162+7682 = 416,768 (note the negative in front of 4162)

    Things Glen Found Interesting

    1. To Be Happy, Marriage Matters More Than Career (David Brooks, New York Times): “My strong advice is to obsess less about your career and to think a lot more about marriage. Please respect the truism that if you have a great career and a crappy marriage you will be unhappy, but if you have a great marriage and a crappy career you will be happy. Please use your youthful years as a chance to have romantic relationships, so you’ll have some practice when it comes time to wed. Even if you’re years away, please read books on how to decide whom to marry. Read George Eliot and Jane Austen. Start with the masters.”
      • Unlocked. I am sure the comments section on this article will explode with outraged New York Times readers, but Brooks is correct and obviously so.
      • Related: He’s The One (Bryan Caplan, Substack): “The woman who discards the traditional ‘Men have to ask me’ social norm has a superpower. Just profile guys who meet your standards and take the initiative, and you generate a menu of prime options. Yes, conventional wisdom says that a woman can subtly let a guy know that she likes him. But this overlooks men’s abject cluenessness and timidity. Instead, be forthright. Crazy as it seems, earnestly telling your first choice, ‘I should be your girlfriend’ will almost never be mistaken for ‘throwing yourself’ at a guy.”
        • Caplan’s follow-up to his earlier post helping guys screen gals. This one helps gals screen guys. Most of his insights ring true to me.
      • Related: You Don’t Have Plenty of Time (Abby Farson Pratt, Substack): “There’s an odd preoccupation in our culture with ‘readiness,’ as if it were a universal truth. But ‘readiness’ is never defined. We’re given the vague, unhelpful advice to ‘wait until we’re ready’ to get married or have kids. What would that even mean? How do you know when you’re ‘ready’ for that kind of responsibility? You won’t. You’ll never be ready. Aside from choosing a good partner, there’s no amount of preparation that will make child-rearing easier or smoother or simpler. You become ready through the very act of being married and raising children. Lord willing, this is the time in your life to rise to the occasion and put fears of ‘readiness’ to rest.”
    2. Does God Control History? (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “Indeed, while allowing for the complexity of debates about what God wills as opposed to what God merely permits, providentialism is basically inescapable once you posit a divinity who made the world and acts in history. Which is why providentialist interpretations endure among the most liberal Christians as well as the most traditional, with both progressive and conservative theologies justifying themselves through readings of the ‘signs of the times,’ the seasons of history, the action of the Holy Spirit and the like.”
      • Unlocked. I really liked this one.
    3. What Rise of Christian Nationalism? (Jesse Smith, Current): “What has surged in recent years isn’t Christian nationalism so much as the rejection of religion in the public square. The percentage of Americans reporting no religious affiliation has skyrocketed in the 21st century, from little over 5% in 1990 to nearly 30% in 2021. Most of these people belonged to a religious community at some point. Many did not part on the best of terms and would be happy to see the status of American religion taken down a peg.”
      • The author is a sociologist at Benedictine College.
    4. The Man Who Knows What the World’s Richest People Want (and How To Get It) (Maxwell Strachan, Vice): “To Flemings, the concept that the world’s richest people are conspiring together to rig the game in their favor seems foolish. He believes the closest the rich have come to assembling as an illuminati-like clan is in St. Barts between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, because he’s been there. ‘I gotta tell you, some of the richest people in the world are struggling to talk to a girl,’ he said. ‘There is no way these people are leading some fucking global conspiracy.’ ”
      • Overall quite interesting. From back in June.
    5. Legacy admissions are crucial to America’s higher education dominance (Jamie Beaton, The Hill): “Oxford was founded in 1096. Despite its storied history, it has a far smaller donation culture and less engaged alumni. Its biggest donors — among them Bill Gates and Steven Schwarzman — didn’t even attend the university. It has no legacy admissions, and at points in its history, it has struggled financially. In contrast, Harvard cultivates an amazingly engaged alumni community with frequent, well-attended reunions, advisory boards featuring all of their prominent alumni and an aspirational message that once you are a part of this community, it will become your community for life. Legacy admissions — the practice of preferentially admitting the children of alumni — is one of the powerful, tangible characteristics that helps foster that sense of community.”
      • I have never seen someone contrast the elite US schools with their international counterparts this way. I am sure there is a counterargument to be made, but this made for fascinating reading and I find his argument plausible.
    6. Stanford WBB Star Cameron Brink Opens Up On How NIL Wealth Allowed Her Stay In School Over WNBA (Grayson Weir, Outkick): “NIL has made it so that Brink can earn just as much money as an ‘amateur’ as she can in the WNBA. It is probably more lucrative to stay in school than to go pro.… Brink said that her NIL wealth has set her up for the rest of her life. If basketball didn’t work out, she could be self-sufficient. She would ‘continue to live comfortably.’ ”
    7. The real reason the highest-paid doctors are in the Dakotas (Andrew Van Dam, Washington Post): “Overall, the average U.S. lawyer can expect about $7.1 million in lifetime income, a bit higher than a primary-care doctor ($6.5 million) but well behind the broader physician average of $10 million, according to a sophisticated analysis of about 2 million tax records from lawyers and more than 10 million tax records from doctors.”

    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 413

    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 issue 413, which I have been told is a structured hexagonal diamond number. I don’t know what that means, but it sounds very impressive. I also know that 413 = 7 · 59, which I find both cool and understandable.

    Things Glen Found Interesting

    1. I’m a Continuationist with Cancer. I Still Believe in Healings. (Tim Shorey, The Gospel Coalition): “I live my life and face my cancer somewhere between seemingly sincere ‘namers and claimers’ who expect healing every time and seemingly surrendered ‘if-the-Lord-willers’ whose prayers affirm God’s healing power but whose caveats and qualifiers make it sound like he’s not likely to use it. God alone knows the heart. But the tone of the former party can sound like presumption masquerading as faith, while the tone of the latter can sound like doubt masquerading as humility.”
      • Recommended by a student who appropriately asks, “if you read this, please also pray for the author, Tim Shorey.”
    2. Date to marry, not to have fun (Bethany Mandel, The Spectator): “A lot of things are important in a marriage: love, respect, trust, laughter. But perhaps most important is to remember that it’s a partnership for life; and as such, dating should not be considered fun, but instead like a job interview for the most important role you’ll ever have, that of a spouse. If you were interviewing for a job, would you allow the process to drag on, long after you know it’s the right fit (or not)?”
      • Broadly agree, with the provision that this is advice about dating relationship and not just about going on dates. In other words, go on dates to have fun and then carefully discern who is a good match for progressing into a serious dating relationship. Too many Christians want to know they want to marry someone before they go out for coffee with them, and that’s a lot of pressure to put on a latte.
      • Related: Swiping and Dating Preferences (Rob K. Henderson, Substack): “Here’s a sketch of what might be happening: Men high on the Dark Triad (psychopathy, narcissism, Machiavellianism) use dating apps. They might make up 10–20% of users. They go on a rampage, sleeping with lots of women, playing games with them, leading them on, ghosting them, lying to them, etc. Dark Triad men are excellent impostors; they are good at mimicking desirable romantic qualities, and are thus able to procure lots of sex partners. The women they sleep with become disillusioned. These women begin to behave in psychopathic and narcissistic ways to protect themselves from emotional vulnerability and pain, and perhaps as a way to even the score with ‘men’ as a category. They learn to avoid Dark Triad men and exploit normal men. These men become confused and upset, and begin to treat other women the same way to ‘get even.’ In short, Dark Triad men mistreat women, who then mistreat ordinary men, who then mistreat ordinary women. Bad behavior drives out the good. A system tailor-made for psychopathic males (dating apps facilitate anonymity, superficiality, and deception) predictably gives rise to a defect-defect equilibrium.”
      • Full of interesting data.
    3. Study of Elite College Admissions Data Suggests Being Very Rich Is Its Own Qualification (Aatish Bhatia, Claire Cain Miller and Josh Katz, New York Times): “Elite colleges have long been filled with the children of the richest families: At Ivy League schools, one in six students has parents in the top 1 percent.… For applicants with the same SAT or ACT score, children from families in the top 1 percent were 34 percent more likely to be admitted than the average applicant, and those from the top 0.1 percent were more than twice as likely to get in.”
    4. Why won’t Indiana Jones convert to something after all he has seen in his life? (Terry Mattingly, On Religion): “What we want to know is why he is always back to square one at the start of every adventure – a skeptic, or even a scoffer. I mean, think about it: He has seen the Ark of the Covenant opened and the destroying angels pour out God’s vengeance on his enemies. He has seen the sacred Hindu stones come to life. …He has seen the true cup of Christ heal his own father from a fatal gunshot wound – on screen, with no ambiguity.”
      • It’s revealing about modern assumptions that almost no one thinks to ask this question.
    5. Are We Living Through ‘End Times’? (Bari Weiss interviewing Peter Turchin, The Free Press): “Elite overproduction turns out to be the best predictor of a crisis to come. It is essentially ubiquitous in the pre-crisis periods of all societies. I used the game of musical chairs to illustrate it, except in the usual game, you start with 11 players and ten chairs, and one person loses. Here, instead of removing chairs, you keep chairs constant, and we add more players. You can imagine the amount of chaos that is going to happen. Now let’s connect this to the overproduction of wealthy people in the United States. As more and more of them become players in politics, they drive up the price of getting into office. And more importantly, the more people are vying for these positions, the more people are going to be frustrated. They’re going to be losers. But humans don’t have to follow rules. This is the dark side of competition: if it’s too extreme, it creates conditions for people to start to break rules.”
      • Turchin is a social scientist at U Conn. Recommended by a student.
      • The author explains the relationship between what he does and the science fiction we see in the Foundation series: Psychohistory and Cliodynamics (Peter Turchin, personal blog): “Prediction is overrated. What we really should be striving for, with our social science, is ability to bring about desirable outcomes and to avoid unwanted outcomes. What’s the point of predicting future, if it’s very bleak and we are not able to change it? We would be like the person condemned to hang before sunrise – perfect knowledge of the future, zero ability to do anything about it.”
    6. Bad Definitions Of “Democracy” And “Accountability” Shade Into Totalitarianism (Scott Alexander, Astral Codex Ten): “You could, in theory, define ‘democratic’ this way, so that the more areas of life are subjected to the control of a (democratically elected) government, the more democratic your society is. But in that case, the most democratic possible society is totalitarianism — a society where the government controls every facet of life, including what religion you practice, who you marry, and what job you work at. In this society there would be no room for human freedom.”
    7. The Importance Of Saying “Yes” To The “But” (Andrew Sullivan, Substack): “One of the enduring frustrations of living in a politically polarized country is the evaporation of nuance. As the muscles of liberal democracy atrophy, and as cultural tribalism infects everyone’s consciousness, it becomes more and more difficult to say, ‘Yes, but …’ Everyone hates the but. It complicates; it muddles; it can disable a slogan; and puncture a politically useful myth.”

    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 Religious Community and Human Flourishing (Tyler J. VanderWeele, Psychology Today): “In some cases, our results closely replicated past work. For example, we found that, even after controlling for the factors above, individuals who attended religious services weekly or more were 16% less likely to become depressed, and saw a 29% reduction in smoking and 34% reduction in heavy drinking. These results match reasonably closely results from several prior studies, including the prior meta-analyses mentioned above. Somewhat strikingly, but again in line with prior analysis, weekly service attendees were 26% less likely to die during the follow-up period.” VanderWeele, himself a Christian, is an epidemiologist at Harvard and I have shared some of his work before. From volume 290.

    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 411

    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 411, which is the number you used to dial to get directory assistance from the phone company. It’s now slang for information, so an eminently appropriate number for today’s compilation.

    Things Glen Found Interesting

    1. This roundup has more spiritually enriching content than usual.
      • The Shepherd Boy Who Wasn’t (Jordan K. Monson, Christianity Today): “If we stick only to the ‘God can use anyone’ reading of David’s origin story, we celebrate God’s elevation of the overlooked and risk missing God’s clear warning to the elevated: It can happen to you. But if we see David for who he really was, we realize that every great man or woman who rises to power in the church is only one rooftop stroll away from a David-sized crash.”
        • I have unlocked this article. It’s longer than it needs to be, but good. The author is a professor of Old Testament at Huntington University.
      • Fearing God as Sons, Not Slaves (Ben Edwards, Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary): “This distinction is perhaps most clearly seen in Exodus 20: ‘And all the people were watching and hearing the thunder and the lightning flashes, and the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it all, they trembled and stood at a distance. 19 Then they said to Moses, ‘Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but do not have God speak to us, or we will die!’ However, Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you will not sin.’’ Moses tells Israel: ‘Don’t be afraid, but fear.’ The Israelites were tempted to cower in terror as they beheld God’s majesty. But the fear they truly needed was one that would lead them to avoid sin.”
        • Emphasis in original
      • Why I Gave Up Drinking (Sarah Bessey, Relevant Magazine): “I think that conviction has gotten a bit of a bad rap in the Church over the past little while. It’s understandable. We have an overcorrection to a lot of the legalism and boundary-marker Christianity that damaged so many, the behaviour modification and rule-making and imposition of other people’s convictions onto our own souls. But in our steering away from legalism, I wonder if we left the road to holiness or began to forget that God also cares about what we do and how we do it and why.”
        • From last year, but was just recommended to me by a friend. It’s good.
      • Why Do We Go to Church? (Mike Glenn, Substack): “Why do so many of us who claim to be Christians never attend church? I know everyone has their reasons, but here’s the hard truth: Jesus loves the church. He gave His life for the church. Jesus considers the church to be His bride. I don’t care how close you are to Jesus, you can’t tell Him His wife is ugly. If we love Jesus, then we love His church. If you don’t love the church, then there’s reason to question if you love Jesus.”
      • Rapture (Precept Austin): “In our day, the Rapture has come under attack by many. Some think it represents the novel teachings of ‘defeatist Christians.’ Others think it is pure fantasy. Still others seem to savor the idea of the Church going through the events of the Tribulation in order to ‘prove her metal’ or refine her. We find it difficult to understand why there is such opposition by Christians to the idea that the bridegroom would come for His bride prior to pouring forth His wrath (John 14:1–3)?”
        • Recommended by a student and I quite liked this one. I’m pretty familiar with the arguments in favor of a pretribulational rapture (a position I myself hold), but there was stuff in here that was new to me.
    2. Why Match School And Student Rank? (Scott Alexander, Astral Codex Ten): “…elite colleges are machines for laundering privilege. That is: Harvard accepts (let’s say) 75% smart/talented people, and 25% rich/powerful people. This is a good deal for both sides. The smart people get to network with elites, which is the first step to becoming elite themselves. And the rich people get mixed in so thoroughly with a pool of smart/talented people that everyone assumes they must be smart/talented themselves. After all, they have a degree from Harvard!”
    3. A Church’s Quest for Enchantment (Maggie Phllips, Tablet): “[Pentecostalism] began in the 19th century, with the parallel development throughout the Anglosphere of a grassroots spiritual enthusiasm grounded in personal experience. Its theology is rooted in history both ancient and more contemporary: a key event in the Christian Bible’s Book of the Acts of the Apostles, as well as the theology of John Wesley, who is recognized as the father of Methodism. In the U.S., its catalyst is usually identified as a religious revival movement that began in Los Angeles in 1906; over a century later, it still enjoys a widespread presence in the U.S., and is a rapidly growing global phenomenon.”
      • This is actually a pretty good overview of Pentecostal Christianity for a secular audience. She gets a few details wrong, but overall this is solid.
    4. The Church in a Time of Gender War (Samuel D. James, Substack): “What I am saying is that I now believe most evangelical churches should look at their single members with both eyes open: an appreciation for the wonderful potential of their season of life, but also a desire and strategy, as the Lord permits, to find ways to get these people Christian spouses. In other words, I don’t think we should fear admitting that marriage is, in the majority of situations we will come across, preferable to singleness.”
      • Some people think I emphasize romance too much. I actually wonder if I emphasize it too little.
      • Also, not reflected in the excerpt but very much at the heart of the piece is the author’s concern that men and women in our culture are collectively believing the worst of each other and assuming the answer is for the other gender to become more like them. He’s getting at something real here. I think Chi Alpha has a healthier dating culture than other places at Stanford, and I still see the tendencies James critiques in this piece in members of our community.
      • Men are awesome. Women are awesome. You should probably want to get married. Which means you should probably go on dates.
    5. Men are lost. Here’s a map out of the wilderness. (Christine Emba, Washington Post): “To the extent that any vision of ‘nontoxic’ masculinity is proposed, it ends up sounding more like stereotypical femininity than anything else: Guys should learn to be more sensitive, quiet and socially apt, seemingly overnight.… I’m convinced that men are in a crisis. And I strongly suspect that ending it will require a positive vision of what masculinity entails that is particular — that is, neither neutral nor interchangeable with femininity. Still, I find myself reluctant to fully articulate one. There’s a reason a lot of the writing on the crisis in masculinity ends at the diagnosis stage.”
      • Unlocked. Solid overall but amusingly clueless at a few points. 
      • Related, although the author disclaims it: Fighting (Marc Andreesen, Substack): “At a private conference this week, I was asked what I think of Mark Zuckerberg’s recent Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) training, Elon Musk’s challenge to a cage fight, and public reports that a Zuckerberg/Musk MMA fight may well happen later this year, perhaps in the actual Roman Colosseum. I said, ‘I think that’s all great.’ And in this post I explain why.… I was also asked whether I consider Mark and Elon to be role models to children in their embrace of fighting, and I said, enthusiastically, yes. And I further recommended to the audience that they have their children trained in MMA, as my wife and I are.”
    6. The Triumph of the Good Samaritan (Ash Milton, Palladium Magazine): “The activist defenders of the tent cities had seized on a moral language deeply ingrained in Western societies. The notion of duty to neighbors, especially those who are poor and vulnerable, is a particularly strong inheritance from Christianity. But they were using concepts they did not care to understand. For the activists, the homeless weren’t neighbors in any reciprocal sense, just a battering ram to use in their own conflicts with society. By rhetorically re-premising neighborly duties as a one-way relationship of tribute and deference paid to the wretched by society, they rendered the very moral concepts they invoked useless. They demanded neighborly duties from strangers but provided no possibility of those involved ever becoming anything like real neighbors to each other.”
      • A bit longer than necessary, but quite good.
    7. Who’s Afraid of Moms for Liberty? (Robert Pondiscio, The Free Press): “Moms for Liberty is the beating heart of this country’s movement of angry parents—and American education has never seen anything quite like it.… The basic thrust of Moms for Liberty’s advocacy—that parents, not the government, should have the ultimate say in what children are taught in public schools—has legs. Not one subgroup in McLaughlin’s crosstabs—Trump or Biden voters; pro-life or pro-choice; black, white, or Hispanic; urban, rural, or suburban—disagrees.”

    Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

    Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

    Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have Book Review: The Cult Of Smart (Scott Alexander, Astral Codex Ten): “DeBoer recalls hearing an immigrant mother proudly describe her older kid’s achievements in math, science, etc, “and then her younger son ran by, and she said, offhand, ‘This one, he is maybe not so smart.’ ” DeBoer was originally shocked to hear someone describe her own son that way, then realized that he wouldn’t have thought twice if she’d dismissed him as unathletic, or bad at music. Intelligence is considered such a basic measure of human worth that to dismiss someone as unintelligent seems like consigning them into the outer darkness.” Normally the best thing about Alexander’s blog is his book reviews. This one was just okay (smart and well-written but not astounding) and then all of a sudden he turned his rant up to 11. Hang in until you reach the phrase “child prison.” If you’re not sold at that point, stop reading. From volume 289.

    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 410

    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 410, which happens to be the HTTP status code for a resource being permanently gone.

    Things Glen Found Interesting

    1. How elite schools like Stanford became fixated on the AI apocalypse (Nitasha Tiku, Washington Post): “Students who join the AI safety community sometimes get more than free boba. Just as EA conferences once meant traveling the world and having one-on-one meetings with wealthy, influential donors, Open Philanthropy’s new university fellowship offers a hefty direct deposit: undergraduate leaders receive as much as $80,000 a year, plus $14,500 for health insurance, and up to $100,000 a year to cover group expenses.”
      • Bro — what? Stanford won’t even let us pay for a guest speaker with outside funds. It’s not clear that the undergrad students leaders at Stanford are making $80k a year, but it’s not clear that they’re not, either. Some student somewhere is, and that’s wild.
    2. Where’s Waldo? How to Mathematically Prove You Found Him Without Revealing Where He Is (Jack Murtagh, Scientific American):  “Amazingly, every claim that I can prove to you with a traditional mathematical proof can also be proved in zero knowledge. Take your favorite result in math, and you could in principle prove it to a friend while showing them bupkes about how it works. This is a profound discovery about the nature of proof itself. Certainty does not require understanding.”
      • Zero-knowledge proofs are wild. That last sentence “certainty does not require understanding” helped me realize that there are interesting parallels to how people come to faith.
        • It is usually an interactive process. God begins to draw someone repeatedly.
        • It is a probabilistic process. Things keep happening to the soon-to-be convert that don’t make sense. I mean, sure they could have happened by chance because anything can happen by chance. But they keep happening in a way that is exceedingly improbable.
        • The new convert’s confidence in God far exceeds their understanding of God.
      • God — the original zero-knowledge prover. To wax Aristotelian, He is the unproved prover.
    3. Pastor Douša’s case shows the U.S. is not immune to authoritarian crackdowns on dissent (Scott Welder, Protect Democracy): “…DHS retaliated against Pastor Douša for ministering to migrants and refugees in Mexico in December 2018 by restricting her Trusted Traveler privileges; subjecting her to extra screening at the southern border; and telling Mexican authorities, falsely, that there was ‘a great possibility’ that she did not have ‘adequate documentation to be in Mexico’ and suggesting that the Mexican government ‘deny [her] entry to Mexico’ and ‘send [her] back to the United States.’ A CBP official later admitted that the request to Mexican authorities was ‘creative writing,’ ‘without any basis.’ But DHS’s actions made it more difficult for Pastor Douša to continue her ministry, eventually causing her to limit her activities in the United States and to end her ministry in Mexico altogether.”
    4. On some of the recent Supreme Court decisions:
      • Why the Champions of Affirmative Action Had to Leave Asian Americans Behind (Jay Caspian Kang, The New Yorker): “Asian Americans, the group whom the suit was supposedly about, have been oddly absent from the conversations that have followed the ruling. The repetitiveness of the affirmative-action debate has come about, in large part, because both the courts and the media have mostly ignored the Asian American plaintiffs and chosen, instead, to relitigate the same arguments about merit, white supremacy, and privilege. During the five years I spent covering this case, the commentators defending affirmative action almost never disproved the central claim that discrimination was taking place against Asian Americans, even as they dismissed the plaintiffs as pawns who had been duped by a conservative legal activist. They almost always redirected the conversation to something else—often legacy admissions.”
      • On Race and Academia (John McWhorter, New York Times): “As an academic who is also Black, I have seen up close, over decades, what it means to take race into account. I talked about some of these experiences in interviews and in a book I wrote in 2000, but I’ve never shared them in an article like this one. The responses I’ve seen to the Supreme Court’s decision move me to venture it. The culture that a policy helps put into place can be as important as the policy itself. And in my lifetime, racial preferences in academia — not merely when it comes to undergraduate admissions but also moving on to grad school and job applications and teaching careers — have been not only a set of formal and informal policies but also the grounds for a culture of perceptions and assumptions.”
        • This is a very raw and vulnerable piece. Recommended. His Ph.D. is from Stanford.
      • Covering the 303 Creative decision: Why do reporters keep ignoring the fine print? (Julia Duin, GetReligion): “I wish reporters would be honest in admitting that much of the anger expressed over the verdict stems from how Lorie Smith outwitted her opponents by filing suit first, rather than enduring  a string of lawsuits like what Jack Phillips is having to endure. I’m looking for that investigative piece on the Colorado Civil Rights Commission that, after having been reproved twice now by the Supreme Court, hasn’t changed its ways at all. Where is that New Yorker take-out on Autumn Scardina, the transgender attorney whose personal vendetta against Phillips just never ends because the courts have given her a free pass? I’m waiting.”
      • My Win at the Supreme Court Is a Win for All Americans (Lorie Smith, Real Clear Religion): “I can’t say everything everyone wants me to. I can’t pretend to agree with every idea presented to me. None of us can. None of us should have to. Each of us should be free to pursue truth, hold to our faith, respectfully speak our beliefs, and thoughtfully live them out day by day, without the government telling us what to believe or say. If that’s the freedom you want – for yourself, for your family and friends, for all of those who share your ideas and convictions – then my victory is a victory for you. Whatever you may think of me and my beliefs, we’re all freer today than we were yesterday. I hope you find that cause for celebration.”
        • The author is the victorious plaintiff in the gay wedding website case.
      • The state’s authority does not extend to the human mind (Kristen Waggoner, World): “The decision means that government officials cannot misuse the law to compel speech or exclude from the marketplace people whose beliefs it dislikes.That’s a win for all Americans—whether one shares Lorie’s beliefs or holds different beliefs. Each of us has the right to decide for ourselves what messages we will communicate—in our words, in our art, in our voice—without interference from the government. The state’s authority does not extend to the human mind.”
        • The author is the lawyer who argued this case before the Supreme Court. She is an Assemblies of God layperson, btw.
    5. Christians: More Like Jesus or Pharisees? (Barna Research Group): “In this nationwide study of self-identified Christians, the goal was to determine whether Christians have the actions and attitude of Jesus as they interact with others or if they are more akin to the beliefs and behaviors of Pharisees, the self-righteous sect of religious leaders described in the New Testament.… The findings reveal that most self-identified Christians in the U.S. are characterized by having the attitudes and actions researchers identified as Pharisaical. Just over half of the nation’s Christians—using the broadest definition of those who call themselves Christians—qualify for this category (51%). They tend to have attitudes and actions that are characterized by self-righteousness.”
      • This research is a decade old, but quite interesting. Recommended by a student.
      • I do have some reservations about the methodology. Some of the questions are just wrong. For example, categorizing “I listen to others to learn their story before telling them about my faith” being Christlike rather than Pharisaical isn’t really a Biblical stance, it’s just a personal opinion. It may be a shrewd strategy and overall commendable, but I don’t see Jesus listening to a lot of stories in the Bible. It’s a poorly chosen question for this scale. Quibbles like that aside, I think the overall vibe probably solid.
    6. Living on a prayer? How attending worship can improve your physical and mental health. (Phil McGraw and John White, USA Today): “Despite the proven health benefits, religiosity is on the decline in America. The fastest-growing religious segment of the U.S. population is now ‘nones’ − those who profess no religion. We’re not here to evangelize, but as a doctor and a mental health professional, it’s important to note that a decline of religion and spirituality seems to be associated with potentially negative health effects.”
      • I love that the authors are Dr. Phil and the chief medical officer at WebMD. To the average American they’ve probably got more credibility than any medical association or even the NIH, FDA, and CDC.
    7. How to Do Great Work (Paul Graham, personal blog): “Four steps: choose a field, learn enough to get to the frontier, notice gaps, explore promising ones. This is how practically everyone who’s done great work has done it, from painters to physicists.… What should you do if you’re young and ambitious but don’t know what to work on? What you should not do is drift along passively, assuming the problem will solve itself. You need to take action. But there is no systematic procedure you can follow. When you read biographies of people who’ve done great work, it’s remarkable how much luck is involved. They discover what to work on as a result of a chance meeting, or by reading a book they happen to pick up. So you need to make yourself a big target for luck, and the way to do that is to be curious. Try lots of things, meet lots of people, read lots of books, ask lots of questions.”
      • This is super-long but worthwhile. He rambles and is mistaken at points, but his core insights are solid and important.

    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 What Thomas Jefferson Could Never Understand About Jesus (Vinson Cunningham, New Yorker): “In the years before emancipation, the best arguments against slavery were also arguments about God.… Jefferson’s Jesus is an admirable sage, fit bedtime reading for seekers of wisdom. But those who were weak, or suffering, or in urgent trouble, would have to look elsewhere.” This is quite an article. From volume 286.

    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 409

    Read it for the amusing bits 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.

    This is volume 409, a prime number.

    Things Glen Found Interesting

    1. Religion Has Become a Luxury Good (Ryan Burge, Substack): “More educated people are more likely to claim a religious affiliation on surveys. It’s true in every single wave of the Cooperative Election Study. It’s also the case in the Nationscape survey, which is 477K respondents. They even have 4,000 people with doctoral degrees in their sample. The most likely to be non-religious? Those who didn’t finish high school. As education increases, so does religious affiliation. The group with the highest level of religious affiliation are those with a master’s degree.” Emphasis in original.
    2. When the Sermon Fizzles Instead of Sizzles (Tim Challies, personal blog): “But who’s to say that, in the mind of God, the power of the preaching is entirely in the hands of the preacher? Who’s to say that the pastor’s task is to prepare the sermon while the congregation’s task is merely to prepare their own hearts to hear it? What if preaching is powerless not because of the pastor’s lack of preparation but because of the church’s lack of prayer? What if poor preaching is not the consequence of any failure on the pastor’s part but on the congregation’s?”
    3. Why I’m Not a Liberal Catholic (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “But I just don’t see how you can look at the modern world, writ large, and its most developed precincts especially — the world of sex education via ubiquitous pornography, faltering marriage rates, collapsing birthrates, the alienation of the sexes from one another, the rising existential angst attending all these trends and the creep of euthanasia as a ‘merciful’ solution — and say that clearly what the church needs to do at this historical moment is water down or just talk less about its teachings on sex and marriage and family, rather than find a way to reassert them or offer them anew.”
      • The whole thing is specifically about the Roman Catholic Church, but is relevant to Protestant Christianity as well.
      • While we’re on the subject The 5 Minute Case for Protestantism (Gavin Ortlund, YouTube): five minutes
    4. Is There An Illusion Of Moral Decline? (Scott Alexander, Astral Codex Ten): “…I’ve been reading the biases and heuristics literature for fifteen years now, and developed the following heuristic: if a researcher finds that ordinary people are biased about how many marshmallows to take in a rigged experiment, this is probably an interesting and productive line of research. But if a researcher finds that ordinary people are biased about their most foundational real-life beliefs, probably those ordinary people are being completely sensible, and it’s the researcher who’s trying to shoehorn their reasoning into some mode it was never intended to address.”
    5. ‘Exhausted’ pastors suffering decline in overall health, respect, friendship: study (Jon Brown, Fox News): “Pastors who reported that their mental and emotional health was below average spiked from 3% in 2015 to 10% in 2022, and those who said they were in excellent mental and emotional health cratered from 39% in 2015 to 11% last year.”
      • This corresponds with what I am hearing anecdotally. Which is bizarre to me, because ministry is awesome and rewarding
    6. Saudi Arabia Wants Tourists. It Didn’t Expect Christians. (Vivian Nereim, Yahoo News): “No one in the conservative Islamic kingdom had planned for the Christians. Yet Christians of many stripes — including Baptists, Mennonites and others who call themselves ‘children of God’ — were among the first people to use the new Saudi tourist visas. Since then, they have grown steadily in numbers, drawn by word of mouth and viral YouTube videos arguing that Saudi Arabia, not Egypt, is the site of Mount Sinai, the peak where Jewish and Christian Scriptures describe God revealing the Ten Commandments.”
    7. The recent Supreme Court decisions:
      • I don’t have any articles about the Supreme Court decision in favor of the web designer who refuses to design websites for gay marriages, simply because I haven’t read anything very good about it. Most articles seem to misunderstand both the case and the decision entirely. It was a wonderful outcome and should be praised — the government cannot compel you to say something you do not believe or to celebrate something you do not approve. Suggestions for thoughtful articles welcome, even those with which you think I will disagree.
      • Affirmative Action Thoughts in an Inelegant List Format (Freddie deBoer, Substack): “…we demand that our education system be both a ladder of success, a sorting system that creates a hierarchy of excellence, and a great equalizer, a way to make society more equitable. These are flatly contradictory purposes. They are directly antagonistic to each other.”
      • Burn Down the Admissions System (Yascha Mounk, Persuasion): “Whenever I think of the role that personal statements play in America’s landscape of higher education, I remember a classmate of mine at Cambridge. He came from an aristocratic family, grew up in London, and attended Eton. He was, in other words, about as privileged as you can be in the United Kingdom. But when it came time to apply for admission to a prestigious scholarship that would send him to Harvard, he wrote movingly about how his passion for public policy was awakened when he grew up among the ravages of the troubles in Northern Ireland; at one point, he suggested, his house was even bombed. (Those who knew him realized that this was one of his family’s ancestral castles, not his primary family home, a fact he obviously omitted from his application.)  These kinds of absurdities are not a bug of the strange American reverence for personal statements; they are a feature of it.”
      • I Teach at an Elite College. Here’s a Look Inside the Racial Gaming of Admissions (Tyler Austin Harper, New York Times): “Nearly every college admissions tutoring job I took over the next few years would come with a version of the same behest. The Chinese and Korean kids wanted to know how to make their application materials seem less Chinese or Korean. The rich white kids wanted to know ways to seem less rich and less white. The Black kids wanted to make sure they came across as Black enough. Ditto for the Latino and Middle Eastern kids. Seemingly everyone I interacted with as a tutor — white or brown, rich or poor, student or parent — believed that getting into an elite college required what I came to call racial gamification.”
        • The author is a professor of environmental studies at Bates College and is himself black.
      • 10 Notes on the End of Affirmative Action (Coleman Hughes, Substack): “My personal view is that diversity is like love. When it happens naturally, it’s the most beautiful thing in the world. But the moment it’s arranged, legislated, or mandated, you’ve somewhat missed the point.”

    Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

    Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

    Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have A youth pastor interviewed about the stock market on MSNBC (Twitter): I’ve mentioned before that some Christians are too tentative when speaking about the gospel in high-profile media environments. Not this guy. He just throws down some Bible. He’s the youth pastor at Beachpoint Church in Orange County. From volume 286

    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 393

    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 393, which I find interesting because it only has two factors: 131 and 3.

    Things Glen Found Interesting

    1. Some AI thoughts
      • The Waluigi Effect (mega-post) (Cleo Nardo, Less Wrong): “Here’s an example — in 101 Dalmations, we meet a pair of protagonists (Roger and Anita) who love dogs, show compassion, seek simple pleasures, and want a family. Can you guess who will turn up in Act One? Yep, at 13:00 we meet Cruella De Vil — she hates dogs, shows cruelty, seeks money and fur, is a childless spinster, etc. Cruella is the complete inversion of Roger and Anita. She is the waluigi of Roger and Anita. Recall that you expected to meet a character with these traits moreso after meeting the protagonists. Cruella De Vil is not a character you would expect to find outside of the context of a Disney dog story, but once you meet the protagonists you will have that context and then the Cruella becomes a natural and predictable continuation. [And since LLMs are all about continuation, simulated Cruellas emerge predictably.]”
        • This was easily the most interesting thing I read this week. A very clever argument.
      • Why am I not terrified of AI? (Scott Aaronson, personal blog): “In the Orthodox AI-doomers’ own account, the paperclip-maximizing AI would’ve mastered the nuances of human moral philosophy far more completely than any human—the better to deceive the humans, en route to extracting the iron from their bodies to make more paperclips. And yet the AI would never once use all that learning to question its paperclip directive. I acknowledge that this is possible. I deny that it’s trivial.”
        • The author is a CS prof from UT who works at OpenAI
    2. Why the Mental Health of Liberal Girls Sank First and Fastest (Jonathan Haidt, Substack): “We are now 11 years into the largest epidemic of adolescent mental illness ever recorded. I know so many families that have been thrown into fear and turmoil by a child’s suicide attempt. You probably do too, given that the recent CDC report tells us that one in ten adolescents now say they have made an attempt to kill themselves. It is hitting all political and demographic groups. The evidence is abundant that social media is a major cause of the epidemic, and perhaps the major cause. It’s time we started treating social media and other apps designed for ‘engagement’ (i.e., addiction) like alcohol, tobacco, and gambling, or, because they can harm society as well as their users, perhaps like automobiles and firearms.”
      • A well-written and distressing summary of the current state of adolescent and young adult mental health. The author is a social psychologist at NYU.
      • Related: Review of 1,039 studies indicates exercise can be more effective than counselling or medication for depression (Ben Singh, Carol Maher, & Jacinta Brinsley, PsyPost): “When comparing the size of the benefits of exercise to other common treatments for mental health conditions from previous systematic reviews, our findings suggest exercise is around 1.5 times more effective than either medication or cognitive behaviour therapy.”
        • I expect this will be contested in future studies. Fascinating, though. The authors are all at the University of South Australia. The lead author seems to be the Australian equivalent of a MD/PhD.
      • Related: Lynching the Deplorables (Chris Hedges, Substack): “The Jan. 6 protestors were not the first to occupy Congressional offices, including Nancy Pelosi’s office. Young environmental activists from the Sunrise Movement, anti-war activists from Code Pink and even congressional staffers have engaged in numerous occupations of congressional offices and interrupted congressional hearings. What will happen to groups such as Code Pink if they occupy congressional offices with Republicans in control of the White House, the Congress and the courts? Will they be held for years in pretrial detention? Will they be given lengthy prison terms based on dubious interpretations of the law? Will they be considered domestic terrorists? Will protests and civil disobedience become impossible?”
        • This is a sane and sobering essay.
    3. Testing Common Theories on the Relationship Between Premarital Sex and Marital Stability (Jesse Smith and Nicholas H. Wolfinger): “The table below shows the wide range of variables we used to try to explain the relationship between premarital sex partners and divorce. Do any of them matter? The answer is a clear no. Without controls, people with premarital partners are 161% more likely to dissolve their marriages compared to people who tie the knot as virgins. In other words, premarital sex increases the chances of divorce between twofold and threefold. After including the laundry list of covariates shown in the table, the odds of divorce remain 151% higher—in other words, a statistical artifact away from being identical.”
      • This falls into the category of “research which is obviously true but which many people wish to disbelieve”
    4. Some COVID thoughts:
      • Covid backlash hobbles public health and future pandemic response (Lauren Weber and Joel Achenbach, Washington Post): “When the next pandemic sweeps the United States, health officials in Ohio won’t be able to shutter businesses or schools, even if they become epicenters of outbreaks. Nor will they be empowered to force Ohioans who have been exposed to go into quarantine. State officials in North Dakota are barred from directing people to wear masks to slow the spread. Not even the president can force federal agencies toissuevaccination or testing mandates to thwart its march.”
        • America usually comes through in the end. The article is super-angsty about all this, but I view it as an inevitable response to administrative overreach and also a fundamentally good thing. Distributed power is safer power.
      • Related: When a Renegade Church and a Zealous County Health Department Collide (David Zweig, Substack): “…extensive legal documents, totaling more than a thousand pages, reveal a county, and its health department, that went to extraordinary, and potentially unlawful, lengths to enforce its decrees. These efforts include levying more than $2 million in fines against Calvary, and a multi-faceted surveillance program of the church and its members, breathtaking in scope and reminiscent of totalitarian regimes, rather than an American county health department — the spy operation included stakeouts, forced in-person monitoring of prayer groups and other intimate activities, and tracking the cellular mobility data of churchgoers.”
        • The details in here are pretty wild. The comments are interesting — one of the pastors of a neighboring church disputes part of the account, but the author is like, “I’ve read sworn affidavits testifying to the contrary.”
        • So much going on — my main takeaway is that it really was worse in Santa Clara County than almost anywhere else in America. The technocrats felt empowered to an absurd degree.
      • Having said that: Here’s Why the Science Is Clear That Masks Work (Zeynep Tufekci, New York Times): “Brown, who led the Cochrane review’s approval process, told me that mask mandates may not be tenable now, but he has a starkly different feeling about their effects in the first year of a pandemic. ‘Mask mandates, social distancing, the other shutdowns we had in terms of even restaurants and things like that — if places like New York City didn’t do that, the number of deaths would have been much higher,” he told me. “I’m very confident of that statement.’ So the evidence is relatively straightforward: Consistently wearing a mask, preferably a high-quality, well-fitting one, provides protection against the coronavirus.”
    5. Earnings Are Greater and Increasing in Occupations That Require Intellectual Tenacity (Christos Makridis, Louis Hickman & Benjamin Manning, SSRN): “…we identify two broad occupational personality requirements, which we label intellectual tenacity and social adjustment. Intellectual tenacity encompasses achievement/effort, persistence, initiative, analytical thinking, innovation, and independence. Social adjustment encompasses emotion regulation, concern for others, social orientation, cooperation, and stress tolerance. Both occupational personality requirements relate similarly to occupational employment growth between 2007 and 2019. However, among over 10 million respondents to the American Community Survey, jobs requiring intellectual tenacity pay higher wages…”
      • Christos is one of our alumni.
    6. Sam Bankman-Fried is under house arrest at Stanford. Students are obsessed. (Lisa Bonos, Washington Post): “The university seems keen to play down his presence. Officially, the university doesn’t talk about Bankman-Fried. Stanford Law School didn’t respond to requests for comment. When asked whether they could confirm a rumor that a nearby student co-op had attacked the Bankman-Fried home with eggs, Stanford campus police did not respond.”
      • I have unlocked the paywall for this article.
    7. Dropping the SAT Requirement Is a Luxury Belief (Rob K. Henderson, Substack): “Columbia University, has just become the first Ivy League school to permanently abandon the SAT/ACT requirement for college admission. Elite colleges are eliminating standardized tests before they eliminate legacy admissions. Tells you all you need to know.…  Standardized testing should be freely available and compulsory for all high school students.”
      • This is 100% true.

    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 Stop Being Shocked (Bari Weiss, Tablet): “The hatred we experience on campus has nothing to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It’s because Jews defy anti-racist ideology simply by existing. So it’s not so much that Zionism is racism. It’s that Jewishness is.“ From volume 272.

    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 392

    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.

    392 is a Harshad Number in base 5, where it is written as 3032 base 5. The sum of its digits is 13 base 5, which divides to 144 base 5, thereby fulfilling the conditions for a Harshad Number. In base five. Kinda feels like a stretch to be honest. 392 is not a super-interesting number.

    Things Glen Found Interesting

    1. Dishonor Code: What Happens When Cheating Becomes the Norm? (Suzy Weiss, The Free Press): “And at Dartmouth—once the reserve of the WASPiest of the WASPs, in beautiful, cloistered Hanover, New Hampshire—an anonymous source told me that students have developed the habit of breaking into groups of four when given online multiple-choice quizzes. Each guesses a different answer (A, B, C, or D) to each question. Because students get two chances to take the quiz—why that is, no one seems to know—they all have the right answer by the time they take the quiz for a second time. And wind up with a perfect score. They don’t even have to read the question. If you’re reading the question, you’re doing it wrong.”
      • Related: Stanford Has an Integrity Problem (Thomas Adamo, The Stanford Review): “When students nearly unanimously agree that it would be better to lie and cheat their way through school than fail or scrape by on their own merit, is it really that surprising to know that as fully-socialized Stanford grads they would also try to lie and cheat and scrape their way through their careers, their projects and their relationships. Virtue is a habit that must be practiced repeatedly—strengthened like a muscle—not left as an exercise to the reader.”
    2. Why You Can’t Predict the Future of Religion (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “…religious history is shaped as much by sudden irruptions as long trajectories, as much by the mystical and personal as by the institutional and sociological.… I can quote you chapter and verse on the reasonability of theism, but in the causal chain of history I’m a Christian because two thousand years ago a motley group of provincials in Roman Palestine believed they’d seen their teacher heal the sick and raise the dead and then rise transfigured from the grave — and then because, two millenniums later, as a child in suburban Connecticut, I watched my own parents fall to the floor and speak in tongues.”
      • I have unlocked the paywall for this one (I can unlock ten NYT articles a month).
    3. Fertility Rate Roundup #1 (Zvi Mowshowitz, Substack): “This looks like a fantastically successful program. The previous trend was declining births. At the cost of $1,000 per child in progressive transfer payments, Australia seemingly raised births by 6%. That’s about $17k per additional birth. Insanely cheap. I am confident China would be thrilled to pay quite a lot more than that. America would be insane not to, we would save more money than this on long term interest rates on our government debt alone.”
      • This is honestly one of the greatest global crisis and not nearly enough people are talking intelligently about it.
      • In related news, this is one of the ways religion triumphs over secularism. Religious people reproduce (and usually pass on their values to their children) and far too many secular people die lonely.
    4. The Build-Nothing Country (Noah Smith, Substack): “For decades now, Americans have told ourselves that we’re the richest nation on Earth, and that as long as we had the political will to write big checks, we could do anything we wanted. But that was never really true, was it? The inflation that followed the pandemic should have been a wake-up call — we had all this excess cash, and we started spending it on physical goods, and mostly what happened was just that the price of the physical goods went up. And so R.I.P. to all that cash. From meaningless numbers on a spreadsheet you came, and to meaningless numbers on a spreadsheet you shall return.”
    5. The Imminent Danger of A.I. Is One We’re Not Talking About (Ezra Klein, The New York Times): “The question at the core of the Roose/Sydney chat is: Who did Bing serve? We assume it should be aligned to the interests of its owner and master, Microsoft. It’s supposed to be a good chatbot that politely answers questions and makes Microsoft piles of money. But it was in conversation with Kevin Roose. And Roose was trying to get the system to say something interesting so he’d have a good story. It did that, and then some. That embarrassed Microsoft. Bad Bing! But perhaps — good Sydney?”
    6. Is Physical Attractiveness Normally Distributed? (anonymous, Substack): “This may explain in part why, although we see assortative mating in physical attractiveness (men and women pick partners of a similar level of physical attractiveness), women are also slightly more attractive on average than their partners (McNulty, 2008). There may be a good explanation for this as well. Jokela (2009) found that moderately attractive women were more likely to reproduce (7%), while highly attractive women were even more likely to reproduce (16%). Moreover, both were more likely to have daughters than sons. As such, we see a gradual shift over time of women becoming more physically attractive than men.”
      • The author’s bio says he’s a grad student in cognitive psych, but is pretty vague on details. His online handle is Alexander.
    7. Have The Ancient Gods Returned? (Naomi Wolf, Brownstone Institute): “The sheer amoral power of Baal, the destructive force of Moloch, the unrestrained seductiveness and sexual licentiousness of Astarte or Ashera — those are the primal forces that do indeed seem to me to have ‘returned.’  Or at least the energies that they represent — moral power over; death-worship; antagonism to the sexual orderliness of the intact family and faithful relationships — seem to have ‘returned,’ without restraint.”
      • Naomi Wolf is a controversial and well-known feminist who has her PhD from Oxford. This long essay is a wild ride. She is writing as a Jew in response to a book by a Christian (who is himself a Messianic Jew).

    Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

    Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

    Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have The 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?” From volume 271.

    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.