Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 368

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 368, which is apparently how many ways there are to tile a 4×15 rectangle with the pentominoes.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Gradually, then Suddenly (Lawrence Freedman, Substack): “It would of course be premature to pronounce a complete Ukrainian victory in the war because of one successful and unexpected breakthrough. But what has happened over the past few days is of historic importance. This offensive has overturned much of what was confidently assumed about the course of the war.… Russia is losing but it has not yet lost. It still occupies a large chunk of Ukrainian territory and still has substantial military assets in the country.”
    • Good news from Ukraine. The author is professor emeritus of war studies at King’s College in London. He’s not some rando popping off.
  2. An Icon, Not An Idol (Andrew Sullivan, Substack): “The Crown represents something from the ancient past, a logically indefensible but emotionally salient symbol of something called a nation, something that gives its members meaning and happiness. However shitty the economy, or awful the prime minister, or ugly the discourse, the monarch is able to represent the nation all the time. In a living, breathing, mortal person. The importance of this in a deeply polarized and ideological world, where fellow citizens have come to despise their opponents as enemies, is hard to measure. But it matters that divisive figures such as Boris Johnson or Margaret Thatcher were never required or expected to represent the entire nation. It matters that in times of profound acrimony, something unites.”
  3. No Longer Struggling To Believe (John W. Kennedy, AG News): “The first week on campus in Conway, Schiefer went to a Chi Alpha gathering — on accident. She saw a flyer advertising an event with a band. She appreciated the music, but no so much the lyrics. Jesus kept popping up in the words of the choruses. ‘It’s not that I hated Christians,’ says the straightforward Schiefer. ‘I just thought they were stupid.’ Still, Schiefer left the initial meeting with a nagging sensation that she had a void in her life. That first semester, several of her dormmates who treated her with respect regularly went to Chi Alpha gatherings and they invited her along. Soon she began attending every Monday night. ‘I found friendship before faith,’ Schiefer says. ‘My classmates weren’t intimidated by my lack of faith or my asking questions.’ ”
  4. Ex-Alien Judge Speaks Out in Favor of Using the Statutory Term “Alien” Rather Than “Noncitizen” (Eugene Volokh, Reason): “Defenders of ‘noncitizen’ sometimes claim that this word is interchangeable with alien because everyone is a citizen of somewhere, sans the unusual case of the individual who has somehow been rendered stateless. This contention is not an accurate excuse. For one, monarchies exist. A Spanish born person is a ‘subject’ of the Kingdom of Spain, albeit he may have democratic rights. One born in Saudi Arabia is similarly a ‘subject’ of the House of Saud. Even more, a person born in American Samoa or Swains Island is a U.S. national, but not a citizen; he or she cannot vote in federal elections nor hold federal office. These distinctions matter. Words matter. Our federal immigration statutes concern themselves with aliens. This word is not a pejorative nor an insult. I certainly did not consider it an insult to be referred to as an alien in my deportation proceedings.” Fascinating.
  5. The Debate Over Muslim College Students Getting Secret Marriages (Emma Green, The New Yorker): “Mohajir tries to be direct in her book. She writes that ‘there appears to be a profound rise in the prevalence of secret marriages among Muslim Americans, especially polygynous secret marriages,’ in which men take more than one wife. ‘I personally have a major, visceral reaction to polygamy,’ Quraishi-Landes, the Wisconsin scholar, who also edited the book, said. ‘I was, like, ‘I don’t want to normalize secret polygamy. I don’t like that.’ Mohajir replied, ‘Look, the whole book is about real-life relationships. And if people are really in a real-life polygamous relationship, here’s how we can help them make it healthy and not abusive.’ ”
    • I had heard of secret marriages, but I hadn’t considered that secret marriages among young Muslim men would almost certainly be polygamous.
  6. How the Media Fell for A Racism Sham (Jesse Singal, Bari Weiss’s Substack): “For millions of people watching this story unfold, this was yet another example of the ineradicable stain of American racism, of just how little progress we’ve really made. Except it didn’t happen.… All the journalists who credulously reported on this event were wrong—and it was an embarrassing kind of wrong, because the red flags were large, numerous, and flapping loudly. Richardson and her family members reported that racial slurs had been hurled with abandon, loudly and repeatedly, in a crowded gym filled with more than 5,000 people. But the journalists covering this incident never stopped to notice how odd it was that none of these vile slurs were captured by any of the thousands of little handheld cameras in the gym at the time, nor on the bigger cameras recording the match. Nor did they find it strange that in the days following the incident, not a single other eyewitness came forward—none of Richardson’s black teammates, and none of the players for either team.”
    • I’ve been following this story, waiting for a thorough well-put together piece. This is it. It illuminates something very sad about contemporary media.
  7. Blunt Vietnam Marine Tells You Exactly What Happened To Him (Bill Ehrhart, YouTube): sixteen minutes. Recommended by a student — extremely interesting. In the comments the filmmaker recommends watching Magnificent Vietnam Green Beret Tells What Happened To Him (David Christian, YouTube, one hour long!) to hear an equally articulate but differing perspective. I have watched excerpts from it and can confirm he’s a good storyteller and disagrees with the first gent quite strongly. Both recommended if you have the time and are interested in war/foreign policy.

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 Weathering the Storm: How Faith Affects Well-Being (Byron Johnson & Christos Makridis, Public Discourse): “First, and consistent with prior studies, active Christians exhibit 6 percent greater current life satisfaction and are 6 percentage points more likely to report that they are thriving—a measure from Gallup that combines respondent information on both current life satisfaction and expected future life satisfaction over the next five years. Second, and at least as important, we found that SWB is either acyclical or slightly countercyclical for active Christians, whereas it is strongly procyclical for (inactive) Christians and theists.” Christos is an alumnus of our ministry. The study which this article summarizes is on SSRN: Does Religious Affiliation Protect People’s Well-being? Evidence from the Great Recession After Correcting for Selection Effects.  From volume 235.

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 367

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 the 367th installment, notable because 367 is a prime number and also the largest number whose square is composed of strictly increasing digits: 3672 = 134689.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Socialism, Nationalism, and Tolkien (Alec Dent, The Dispatch): “In our time of unprecedented wealth and safety, the once-defeated foe of illiberalism has made a reappearence.… due largely to a lack of appreciation for how good we have things right now, a lack of understanding of how we got here, and a lack of understanding of how a radical overhaul of society would alter the world as we know it.”
  2. The Despotism of Isaias Afewerki (Alex de Waal, The Baffler): “…fighters protested the decision that they should continue to serve without pay for two more years. A group of disabled veterans marched—there’s no verb that conveys the determined collective motion of their wheelchairs, artificial limbs, and sticks—towards the capital to demand their pensions. They were shot at with live ammunition. Some were killed, others were arrested and disappeared.”
    • I’d heard before that Eritrea was worse than North Korea in some ways, but this article really drove it home. Wow.
  3. Why People Are Losing Faith In Public Institutions (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “…if you relied on the Post to tell you about the world you actually live in, it would not have occurred to you that there is any other side to the library story than the virtuous pink-haired queer librarian and her allies versus the mob of bigots. If you are on the Left, isn’t it in your interest to understand why people are so upset, even if you don’t agree with them? Isn’t it in your interest to at least think about why the people of a town would rather defund their library rather than see it used in this way?”
    • This one is wild and Dreher, as they say, has the receipts.
  4. Can an Atheist Be a Moral Realist? (J. Budziszewski, personal blog): “…I can’t see how you can be an atheist and a moral realist at the same time. It is like eating a cake and still having it. If naturalism is true, then aren’t we just meat bags full of water with no dignity? My friend says I am caricaturing his position. Am I missing something, or is he?”
    • This is well argued. The author is a professor of government and philosophy at the University of Texas.
  5. Trump should fill Christians with rage. How come he doesn’t? (Michael Gerson, Washington Post): “I know that people inspired by [Jesus] have done great things in the past — building hospitals for the poor, improving the rights of women and children, militating against slavery, caring for the mentally disabled, working for a merciful welfare state, fighting prejudice, improving global health. But precisely because these things have happened, it is difficult for me to comprehend why so many American evangelicals have rejected the splendor and romance of their calling and settled for the cultural and political resentments of the hard right.”
    • Long and a bit rambly, nonetheless interesting.
  6. Publishing needs JK Rowling to be a monster (Victoria Smith, The Critic Magazine): “The trouble with JK Rowling is that she has done nothing wrong. Back in 2020, she wrote a carefully worded, compassionate piece about sex and gender.… This is a situation in which the punishment has created the crime and it’s one that is needed by members of the publishing industry who have spent years embracing the arguments of the most extreme trans activists while ignoring those of feminists. They need Rowling to be a monster. Otherwise they might have to respond, not just to what Rowling has written, but to the realities of the movement to which they have pledged allegiance.”
  7. Died: Queen Elizabeth II, British Monarch Who Put Her Trust in God (Dudley Delffs, Christianity Today): “The Queen’s love of the Bible and its gospel message led to her participation in the publication of a special book to commemorate her 90th birthday. Titled The Servant Queen and the King She Serves.… Her Majesty personally wrote the foreword, thanking readers for their prayers and good wishes. ‘I have been—and remain—very grateful to … God for His steadfast love. I have indeed seen His faithfulness,’ she wrote. The book was distributed to thousands of churches across the UK and throughout many Commonwealth countries prior to the Queen’s birthday in 2016. The book proved so popular that the Bible Society had to print another 150,000 copies to meet demand.”

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 Big Data+Small Bias « Small Data+Zero Bias (Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution): “Suppose you want to estimate who will win the 2016 US Presidential election. You ask 2.3 million potential voters whether they are likely to vote for Trump or not. The sample is in all ways demographically representative of the US voting population but potential Trump voters are a tiny bit less likely to answer the question, just .001 less likely to answer (note they don’t lie, they just don’t answer).” I was stunned. From volume 234.

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.