Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 378

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 378, which is apparently the maximum number of objects you can slice a cube into using 13 cuts.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Jesus Christ, Streaming Star (Ruth Graham, New York Times): “Conceived by a little-known creator, featuring no major stars and funded primarily, at first, through small contributions without the support of a Hollywood studio, [The Chosen] began on an obscure proprietary app and is now given away for free. Its I.P. is 2,000 years old. But despite the long odds, the faith-based drama series has become a bona fide phenomenon in many parts of Christian culture, attracting a fervent ecumenical fandom while remaining almost invisible to others.”
  2. How Colleges and Sports-Betting Companies ‘Caesarized’ Campus Life (Anna Betts, Andrew Little, Elizabeth Sander, Alexandra Tremayne-Pengelly & Walt Bogdanich, New York Times): “The deals came together largely in private, The Times found, with minimal discussion on campus about their potential impact on students, athletes and the integrity of college sports.”
    • I love that the lead author is named Betts.
  3. AI Conquers Diplomacy (Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution): “Keep in mind that since the game is zero-sum to do well the AI must convince humans to do what is NOT in their interest. We really do need to invest more in the alignment problem.”
  4. Responses to the proposed “Respect for Marriage Act”
    • No respect for religious freedom in the “Respect for Marriage Act” (Kristen Waggoner, World): “[This legislation] fuels hostility towards Americans who hold beliefs about marriage rooted in honorable or philosophical premises.It imposes a new obligation to recognize same-sex relationships on religious organizations that work closely with government. It creates new tools for progressive activists and the Department of Justice to enforce that obligation. It gives the Internal Revenue Service a new argument for taking tax-exempt status away from religious non-profits. It makes religious freedom and free speech cases harder to win by elevating the federal government’s interest in same-sex marriage.”
    • Why I Changed My Mind About Law and Marriage, Again (David French, The Dispatch): “I agree with University of Virginia professor Douglas Laycock. ‘The act contains “important protections” for religious liberty, including “an explicit statement by Congress that “diverse beliefs about the role of gender in marriage”—including the belief that marriage is between a man and woman rather than between persons of the same sex—“are held by reasonable and sincere people based on decent and honorable philosophical premises” and that such beliefs “are due proper respect.“ ‘ Other provisions provide protections for the tax exemptions for religious organizations, hold that religious organizations don’t have to participate in the solemnization of same-sex marriages, and specifically reject the approach of the Equality Act, which sought to undermine the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”
    • Respect For Marriage Act: An Imprudent Compromise (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “[Lawmakers] have to make their political decisions recognizing the social and cultural realities of contemporary America, a country where a majority of young people prize sexual autonomy more than religious liberty, and who love gay more than God. That’s not likely to get any better, and is in fact likely to get far worse. What then? I don’t identify with David French’s eagerness to compromise, and I would draw the lines of compromise in different places … but French seems to understand the shaky ground on which Christian trads stand better than a lot of people who are right about marriage do.” Dreher is responding to a different article by French than the one below, which was printed a day later.
    • An Open Letter to Those Who Think I’ve Lost My Christian Faith (David French, The Dispatch): “…read the text of the bill. Does that language truly give the IRS a ‘new argument for taxing tax-exempt status away’? And does the act create ‘new tools for progressive activists and the Department of Justice’ to enforce an obligation to recognize same-sex marriages on ‘religious organizations that work closely with government’? [It does not.]”
  5. Two articles describing how out-of-control euthanasia is getting in some countries:
    • Scheduled to Die: The Rise of Canada’s Assisted Suicide Program (Rupa Subramanya, Bari Weiss’s Substack): “Next March, the government is scheduled to expand the pool of eligible suicide-seekers to include the mentally ill and ‘mature minors.’ According to Canada’s Department of Justice, parents are generally ‘entitled to make treatment decisions on their children’s behalf. The mature minor doctrine, however, allows children deemed sufficiently mature to make their own treatment decisions.…’ Dr. Dawn Davies, a palliative care physician who supported MAiD when it was first conceived, said she had ‘tons of worries’ about where this might lead. She could imagine kids with personality disorders or other mental health issues saying they wanted to die. ‘Some of them will mean it, some of them won’t,’ she said. ‘And we won’t necessarily be able to discern who is who.’ ”
    • “Safeguards” Cannot Make Euthanasia Safe (Robert Clarke, First Things): “There is a clear slippery slope from approving euthanasia in rare terminal cases to approving just about any mental health diagnoses. Twenty-three-year-old Shanti de Corte was recently euthanized due to the mental trauma she suffered from the 2016 Brussels airport terrorist attack, after which she ‘never felt safe.’ Her death signals our society’s failure to support the vulnerable and wounded. We have abandoned authentic care and compassion in favor of death.”
  6. Megalopolis: how coastal west Africa will shape the coming century (Howard W French, The Guardian): “By 2100, the Lagos-Abidjan stretch is projected to be the largest zone of continuous, dense habitation on earth, with something in the order of half a billion people [all in one giant megalopolis].”

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have Are the Wages of Sin Really Death?: Moral and Epidemiologic Observations (David Lyle Jeffrey and Jeff Levin, Christian Scholar’s Review): “So, are the wages of sin really death? As far as population-health research suggests, the answer is a guarded yes.” The authors are professors at Baylor, one of epidemiology and the other of literature. From volume 250. I know I shared it recently. It’s worth sharing again.

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 364

a mix of links more rarified and more spicy than normal

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

This, the 364th installment, can also be expressed as the sum of consecutive primes: 11 + 13 + 17 + 19 + 23 + 29 + 31 + 37 + 41 + 43 + 47 + 53

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. One Manner of Law (Marilynne Robinson, Harpers): “Almost fifty years ago, I learned by pure accident that a code of law was drawn up in Massachusetts in 1641 that substantially anticipated the Bill of Rights. I happened to read a letter to the editor in the New York Times that mentioned the Massachusetts Body of Liberties. I had a PhD by then and was supposedly an Americanist by training, yet I was learning of this for the first time. When I finally read these laws, I wondered why the narrative of American history did not begin with them.”
  2. The Girls Who Resisted Boko Haram (Jonathon Van Maren, First Things): “While the world demanded their return, the captive girls were under relentless pressure to convert to Islam and marry militants chosen for them. They were threatened with beheading or brutal slavery if they refused. Many of the girls, paralyzed with fear, succumbed. Others buckled under the brainwashing of a militant assigned to inculcate them into the doctrines of Islam. He forced the ‘daughters of infidels’ to take hours-long classes in which they memorized the Quran. The girls were told that if they married, they would receive homes, slaves, and honor. In secret, the girls shared Bible passages and prayed fervently together for strength and rescue. They sang hymns into their hands and cups of water to stifle the sound.”
  3. Why I Left Academia (Since You’re Wondering) (William Deresiewicz, Quillette): “…it wasn’t so much that I wanted to be treated differently than everybody as that I wanted everybody to be treated differently. I wanted the rules to change; I played by the ones that I thought we should have. I insisted on behaving as if I existed in an environment that valued teaching as much as scholarship and intellectualism as much as specialization. Where opening the eyes of a hundred undergraduates was worth as much as supervising one more dissertation, and publishing an essay in a periodical that’s read by tens of thousands was as valuable as adding one more item to the pile of disregarded studies.” This is quite good, more relevant to the humanities than to the sciences. 
  4. I Didn’t Want It to Be True, but the Medium Really Is the Message (Ezra Klein, New York Times): “Americans are capitalists, and we believe nothing if not that if a choice is freely made, that grants it a presumption against critique. That is one reason it’s so hard to talk about how we are changed by the mediums we use. That conversation, on some level, demands value judgments. This was on my mind recently, when I heard Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist who’s been collecting data on how social media harms teenagers, say, bluntly, ‘People talk about how to tweak it — oh, let’s hide the like counters. Well, Instagram tried — but let me say this very clearly: There is no way, no tweak, no architectural change that will make it OK for teenage girls to post photos of themselves, while they’re going through puberty, for strangers or others to rate publicly.’ ”
    • Related: When Bots Write Your Love Story (Samuel D. James, Substack): “That machines are telling us particular stories about our world is one of the main reasons I keep coming back time and again to digital culture, epistemology, and theology. Our default posture toward the Internet is still, to this day, a posture of intuitive belief: to genuinely accept that what we see on the screen is a piece of ‘real life,’ representative of someone who is really somewhere. And in many cases, of course, this is more or less true. But there are also very real cases where the intensity or the vividness of what we see online is disproportionate to its weight or validity outside.”
    • Related: Speech Without Accountability: Reckoning with Anonymous Christian Trolls (Patrick Miller, Mere Orthodoxy): “…there is at least one clear analog to anon speech in the Bible that I have not yet touched on: the speech of the serpent in Eden. He was the first character in Genesis to conceal his identity in order to critique a person—God himself. The first anon words in human history set human history on fire.”
      • This piece is far too long, rambles needlessly, and at one point says something I think very silly. Nonetheless, I read to the end with interest. The best parts were the reflections on anonymous/disguised speech in the Bible.
    • Related: The Seat of Mockers (Brian Mattson, Substack): “The defenders and practitioners of smash-mouth incendiary rhetoric insist that we must do this so as to adequately combat the world and the infiltration of worldliness into the church. It seems to me that in reality, it is the world and the infiltration of worldliness into the church.” This is quite good, and I found it by following a link in the preceding point.
  5. Some links related to the ongoing sexual revolution, mostly critical:
    • Christians Volunteering Pronouns? (Andrew T. Walker, American Reformer): “We should name the pronoun issue for what it is: A language game. Language is about naming reality. Pronouns of any sort are instruments that individuals use to wield power. Pronouns possess power only because the culture we live in deems one’s chosen individual identity to be absolutely central to who one is. Pronouns serve the subjective self, so if one rejects another’s chosen pronouns, it is doubtlessly interpreted as rejecting the person’s attempt at self-description and self-autonomy. That’s what this is all fundamentally about—creating a private field of reality defined by the wishes and fantasies of individuals who know they can provoke submission for fear of cancellation. We should be clear-eyed about this and refuse to go along with it.”
    • Zoophilia: The Last Taboo Will Fall (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “Seriously, how do you stop legalizing zoophilia, especially in a popular culture in which internal barriers within the masses will have been broken down by widespread hardcore pornography? ‘What does my neighbor’s habit of being cornholed by his German shepherd have to do with my marriage?’ say the nitwit libertarians. ‘Animals can’t consent!’ squeal the nitwit liberals, though I hope they have the sense not to say so with their mouth full of ham.”
      • This is a well-documented piece and the updates at the end are very much worth reading, especially the Scalia quote.
    • I Regret Being A Slut (Bridget Phetasy, Substack): “I know regretting most of my sexual encounters is not something a sex-positive feminist who used to write a column for Playboy is supposed to admit. And for years, I didn’t. Let me be clear, being a ‘slut’ and sleeping with a lot of men is not the only behavior I regret. Even more damaging was what I told myself in order to justify the fact that I was disposable to these men: I told myself I didn’t care. I didn’t care when a man ghosted me. I didn’t care when he left in the middle of the night or hinted that he wanted me to leave. The walks of shame. The blackouts. The anxiety. The lie I told myself for decades was: I’m not in pain—I’m empowered. Looking back, it isn’t a surprise that I lied to myself. Because from a young age, sex was something I was lied to about.” This is in no way a Christian article — but it is interesting.
    • Monkeypox And The Face Of Gay Promiscuity (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “I remember being told by the media that gay men were vastly more promiscuous than straight men because society compelled them to be. Normalize homosexuality and grant same-sex marriage, and that would change. I never believed it because I knew perfectly well that gay men were insanely promiscuous not because they were gay, but because they were men. An ordinary male unrestrained by religious or moral scruple, and faced with a wide variety of willing partners who demand no emotional commitment, or even to know one’s name, before having sex — that man will likely behave exactly as most gay men do.”
      • WARNING — the picture in the link is jarring. The comments at the end are quite interesting and not at all what most observers would expect — Dreher really does appreciate his audience even when they disagree with him.
  6. ‘Disturbing’: Experts troubled by Canada’s euthanasia laws (Maria Cheng, Washington Post): “Canada prides itself on being liberal and accepting, said David Jones, director of the Anscombe Bioethics Centre in Britain, ‘but what’s happening with euthanasia suggests there may be a darker side.’”
  7. As India marks its first 75 years, Gandhi is downplayed, even derided (Gerry Shih, Washington Post): “Today, at rallies of Hindu nationalist hard-liners, Gandhi is routinely vilified as feeble in his tactics against the British and overly conciliatory to India’s Muslims, who broke off and formed their own state, Pakistan, on Aug. 14, 1947. On social media and online forums, exaggerations and falsehoods abound about Gandhi’s alleged betrayal of Hindus. And in popular films and the political mainstream, Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru — the first prime minister — are sidelined, while nationalists who advocated the force of arms have been elevated.”

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  Having Kids (Paul Graham, personal blog): “I remember perfectly well what life was like before. Well enough to miss some things a lot, like the ability to take off for some other country at a moment’s notice. That was so great. Why did I never do that? See what I did there? The fact is, most of the freedom I had before kids, I never used. I paid for it in loneliness, but I never used it.” First shared in volume 233.

Why Do You Send This Email?

In the time of King David, the tribe of Issachar produced shrewd warriors “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chron 12:32). In a similar way, we need to become wise people whose faith interacts with the world. I pray this email gives you greater insight, so that you may continue the tradition of Issachar.

Disclaimer

Chi Alpha is not a partisan organization. To paraphrase another minister: we are not about the donkey’s agenda and we are not about the elephant’s agenda — we are about the Lamb’s agenda. Having said that, I read widely (in part because I believe we should aspire to pass the ideological Turing test and in part because I do not believe I can fairly say “I agree” or “I disagree” until I can say “I understand”) and may at times share articles that have a strong partisan bias simply because I find the article stimulating. The upshot: you should not assume I agree with everything an author says in an article I mention, much less things the author has said in other articles (although if I strongly disagree with something in the article I’ll usually mention it). And to the extent you can discern my opinions, please understand that they are my own and not necessarily those of Chi Alpha or any other organization I may be perceived to represent. Also, remember that I’m not reporting news — I’m giving you a selection of things I found interesting. There’s a lot happening in the world that’s not making an appearance here because I haven’t found stimulating articles written about it. If this was forwarded to you and you want to receive future emails, sign up here. You can also view the archives.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 187

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

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Emotions Make Terrible Gods (Greg Morse, Desiring God): “We live in an emoji world where self-expression and ‘being the true you’ hold highest priority — no one can tell us how to feel…. In all, the assumption stands: you are your emotions — for better or worse. To repress them is to repress yourself.”
  2. ‘I Was a TSA Agent, and You Fed Me’ (Kate Shellnut, Christianity Today): “But churches, as they join in prayer for a legislative solution, have also stepped up to support community members affected by the budgeting stalemate. Here are 10 places where Christians are reaching out to love their furloughed and unpaid neighbors…” This is an inspiring list. I am struck by both the geographic and the denominational diversity. The extent to which churches bless their communities is difficult to overstate.
  3. Is Big Tech Merging With Big Brother? Kinda Looks Like It (David Samuels, Wired): “A national or global surveillance network that uses beneficent algorithms to reshape human thoughts and actions in ways that elites believe to be just or beneficial to all mankind is hardly the road to a new Eden. It’s the road to a prison camp.”
  4. Death on demand: has euthanasia gone too far? (Christopher de Bellaigue, Guardian): “Altogether, well over a quarter of all deaths in 2017 in the Netherlands were induced.… suicide leaves scars on friends and family that may never heal. But suicide is an individual act, self-motivated and self-administered, and its force field is contained. Euthanasia, by contrast, is the product of society. When it goes wrong, it goes wrong for everyone.” In case you’re reading quickly, read that first sentence again. Over 25%!
  5. The Gay Church (Andrew Sullivan, New York Magazine): “A church that, since 2005, bans priests with ‘deep-seated homosexual tendencies’ and officially teaches that gay men are ‘objectively disordered’ and inherently disposed toward ‘intrinsic moral evil’ is actually composed, in ways very few other institutions are, of gay men.” I find his lack of engagement with Scripture and focus on church history striking and very Catholic.
  6. A lot of articles about the dustup at the March for Life. I find polarizing situations like this fascinating and frequently revealing.
    • The Media Botched the Covington Catholic Story (Caitlin Flanagan, The Atlantic): “Among other things, journalistic ethics held that if you didn’t have the reporting to support a story, and if that story had the potential to hurt its subjects, and if those subjects were private citizens, and if they were moreover minors, you didn’t run the story. You kept reporting it; you let yourself get scooped; and you accepted that speed is not the highest value. Otherwise, you were the trash press.” This piece is brutal. If you only read one of the articles in this section, make it this one.
    • For an example of a harsher perspective: Why do the Covington Catholic kids get the benefit of the doubt? (Laura Turner, Religion News Service): “There’s no virtue in rushing to get in a hot take! But neither is there in ignoring clear evidence of racism and cruelty. As new accounts and new videos of the incident emerged, more stayed the same than changed: Sandmann’s simpering expression remained, as did his immovable opposition to Phillips. (In his ‘Today’ show interview, Sandmann says he now wishes he ‘could’ve walked away and avoided the whole thing.’ The use of ‘could’ve’ is doing a lot of work there — he always could have chosen to walk away. He chose not to.)”
    • The Covington Scissor (Ross Douthat, NY Times): “To understand what makes this incident so brilliant in its divisiveness, you need to see the tapestry in full, how each constituent element (abortion, race, MAGA, white boys, Catholicism, Native American ritual) automatically confirms priors on both sides of our divide. And you also need to see how the video itself, far from being a means to achieving consensus, is an amazing accelerant of controversy…” Douthat’s op-ed is inspired by the short story Sort By Controversial (Scott Alexander, Slate Star Codex). It’s an easy read and I recommend it.
    • Another perspective less sympathetic to the boys: The real politics behind the Covington Catholic controversy, explained (Zack Beauchamp, Vox): “The argument here is not that it’s wrong to care about the Covington students per se. Rather, it’s a kind of disgust at the hypocrisy on display: Conservatives and the mainstream media don’t, in the left-liberal view, ever display the same levels of concern for minority kids accused of actual crimes. All the sympathy being extended to these kids, all the benefit of the doubt, reflects the ability of the privileged to command a level of sympathy that the less privileged lack.”
    • Covington isn’t about facts, but about identity politics. Nick Sandmann committed ‘facecrime’ (Tucker Carlson, Fox News): “People’s views evolve over time. Political divisions can heal and often do. But fights over identity do not; they are different. Identity does not change. It can’t be moderated or controlled. It’s inherent. We’re born that way. When we go to war over who we are, it’s a permanent battle. It is a disaster that lasts for generations. Identity politics will destroy this country faster than a foreign invasion.”
    • The Abyss of Hate Versus Hate (Andrew Sullivan, NY Magazine): “To put it bluntly: They were 16-year-olds subjected to verbal racist assault by grown men; and then the kids were accused of being bigots. It just beggars belief that the same liberals who fret about ‘micro-aggressions’ for 20-somethings were able to see 16-year-olds absorbing the worst racist garbage from religious bigots … and then express the desire to punch the kids in the face…. this is what will inevitably happen once you’ve redefined racism or sexism to mean prejudice plus power. ”
  7. US missionary who engaged with reclusive Brazilian tribe could be charged with genocide (Phoebe Loomes, NZ Herald): “Campbell has claimed that he made the expedition to the remote region at the request of the Jamamadi people, who he is in contact with, as they wanted to learn to use GPS navigators. During this expedition he encountered the isolated Hi-Merimã tribe. For this, Brazilian officials say Campbell could be charged with a slew of offences, including genocide.“
    • Genocide seems much too strong a term for a situation in which no one is known to have died or even so much as sneezed. Maybe the word translated as genocide is broader in Portuguese?
    • Helpful context: Brazil Investigates If US Missionary Encroached on Isolated Amazon Tribe (Kate Shellnut, Christianity Today): “Ribeiro shared concerns about indigenous people receiving assistance from groups appointed by the government, since they rarely stay in a community long enough to build relationships and learn the language. Meanwhile, she says field missionaries often bring high levels of technical training—from anthropology to nursing—while committing to serve for an extended amount of time.”

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have This Is What Makes Republicans and Democrats So Different (Vox, Ezra Klein): the title made me skeptical, but there are some good insights in this article (first shared in volume 32 back in 2016).

Why Do You Send This Email?

In the time of King David, the tribe of Issachar produced shrewd warriors “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chron 12:32). In a similar way, we need to become wise people whose faith interacts with the world. I pray this email gives you greater insight, so that you may continue the tradition of Issachar.

Disclaimer

Chi Alpha is not a partisan organization. To paraphrase another minister: we are not about the donkey’s agenda and we are not about the elephant’s agenda — we are about the Lamb’s agenda. Having said that, I read widely (in part because I believe we should aspire to pass the ideological Turing test and in part because I do not believe I can fairly say “I agree” or “I disagree” until I can say “I understand”) and may at times share articles that have a strong partisan bias simply because I find the article stimulating. The upshot: you should not assume I agree with everything an author says in an article I mention, much less things the author has said in other articles (although if I strongly disagree with something in the article I’ll usually mention it). And to the extent you can discern my opinions, please understand that they are my own and not necessarily those of Chi Alpha or any other organization I may be perceived to represent.

Also, remember that I’m not reporting news — I’m giving you a selection of things I found interesting. There’s a lot happening in the world that’s not making an appearance here because I haven’t found stimulating articles written about it.

If this was forwarded to you and you want to receive future emails, sign up here. You can also view the archives.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 149

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

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The Ugly Coded Critique of Chick-Fil-A’s Christianity (Stephen Carter, Bloomberg View): “A few years ago, a well-known progressive commentator mused to his large Twitter following that sometimes he wishes all the Christians would just disappear. I would like to believe he was simply too uninformed to realize that he was wishing for a whiter world.” This article makes an important point that you may find useful in campus discussions. It is in response to the very odd Chick-Fil‑A’s Creepy Infiltration Of New York City (Dan Piepenbring, New Yorker). Recommended to me by an alumnus.
  2. Church Of The Donald (Ruth Graham, Politico): “Trump personally has appeared 11 times on CBN since his campaign began; in 2017 alone, he gave more interviews to CBN than to CNN, ABC or CBS…. Christian broadcasters offer an unmediated channel to the living rooms of a remarkably wide swath of American believers, an audience more politically and racially diverse than you might expect. TBN alone has more local stations to its name than Fox or the three major networks.” Insightful and recommended.
  3. When the Rohingya Came, This Christian Hospital Was Ready (Sarah Eekhof Zylstra, Christianity Today): this is a gripping story and difficult to excerpt. Wow.
  4. Alfie Evans and Our Moral Crossroads (Charles Camosy, First Things): “Alfie Evans’s death is being aimed by the very people whose vocation it is to help and protect him. The difference in Alfie’s case is that, because he has continued to breathe, the pretense of ‘removal of burdensome treatment’ is patently absurd. In a situation that was no doubt distressing to those who hoped he would die, Alfie’s continuing to breathe has clarified the true object of the act of removing his ventilator.” The more I read about this case the angrier I become.
  5. Alan Jacobs: a Christian intellectual for the internet age (David J. Michael, America): “…he was publishing scholarly work within his field but was increasingly devoting time to writing essays and theological pieces for Christian magazines and journals. Switching back and forth could be disorienting, and he spent several years debating and praying about which audience he should focus on. ‘At one point, I just had an epiphany: You don’t get to choose.You’re gonna have to write for your scholarly peers, and you’re gonna have to write for your fellow Christians because you have things to say to both audiences. So, that means, you gotta learn to code switch.’” I am a big fan of Alan Jacobs’ writing.
  6. Dear Humanities Profs: We Are The Problem (Eric Bennett, Chronicle of Higher Education): “Three generations ago, literature professors exchanged a rigorously defined sphere of expertise, to which they could speak with authority, for a much wider field to which they could speak with virtually no power at all…. Literature professors have affected America more by sleeping in its downtown hotels and eating in its fast-food restaurants than by telling one another where real prospects for freedom lay. ” Oof. That’s a solid blow, right there. The author is an English professor at Providence College.
  7. Uncanny Vulvas (Diana Fleischman, Jacobite Magazine): “Video games and social media already undermine the native psychological mechanisms that make us work towards status — they supply more immediate rewards and take far less effort than anything we work towards out in the real world. Sex robots are only going to make that worse, especially for young men.” Definitely not a Christian article. From a somewhat related Christian standpoint: The Economics of Sexual Purity (Douglas Wilson, personal blog).

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: Seeing Like A State (Scott Alexander, Slate Star Codex): “Peasants didn’t like permanent surnames. Their own system was quite reasonable for them: John the baker was John Baker, John the blacksmith was John Smith, John who lived under the hill was John Underhill, John who was really short was John Short. The same person might be John Smith and John Underhill in different contexts, where his status as a blacksmith or place of origin was more important. But the government insisted on giving everyone a single permanent name, unique for the village, and tracking who was in the same family as whom. Resistance was intense.” This is long and amazing. (first shared in volume 95)

Why Do You Send This Email?

In the time of King David, the tribe of Issachar produced shrewd warriors “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chron 12:32). In a similar way, we need to become wise people whose faith interacts with the world. I pray this email gives you greater insight, so that you may continue the tradition of Issachar.

Disclaimer

Chi Alpha is not a partisan organization. To paraphrase another minister: we are not about the donkey’s agenda and we are not about the elephant’s agenda — we are about the Lamb’s agenda. Having said that, I read widely (in part because I believe we should aspire to pass the ideological Turing test and in part because I do not believe I can fairly say “I agree” or “I disagree” until I can say “I understand”) and may at times share articles that have a strong partisan bias simply because I find the article stimulating. The upshot: you should not assume I agree with everything an author says in an article I mention, much less things the author has said in other articles (although if I strongly disagree with something in the article I’ll usually mention it).

Also, remember that I’m not reporting news — I’m giving you a selection of things I found interesting. There’s a lot happening in the world that’s not making an appearance here because I haven’t found stimulating articles written about it.

If this was forwarded to you and you want to receive future emails, sign up here. You can also view the archives.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 77

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

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

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. White Christian Apocalypse? (Philip Jenkins, The American Conservative): Jenkins is a well-known historian. “On one critical issue, though, contemporary debate and theorizing really is trespassing on my areas of expertise.” Jenkins unpacks some long-term trends and their implications for America’s demographic destiny.
  2. The End of Identity Liberalism (Mark Lilla, NY Times): One of the more insightful things I’ve read lately. It’s inspired by the recent election, but is about something much broader — some intrinsic weaknesses of identity politics. For a very strong reaction against it, read Making White Supremacy Respectable. Again. (Katherine Franke, LA Review of Books). Both authors are professors at Columbia, which will no doubt make for tense times in the faculty lounge.
  3. Yes, Trump will build his border wall. Most of it is already built. (Peter Andreas, Washington Post): “It is important to remember that Trump’s predecessors carefully avoided calling any new border barriers a ‘wall.’” Wow. I did not realize how much of the southern border is already barricaded. It would be helpful if reporters periodically brought this fact up for context.
  4. Trying To Think Through The Logic Of Abortion Rights (Justin Taylor, The Gospel Coalition): Taylor summarizes the arguments of two philosophy professors. For me, meditating on Luke 1:39–45 has been important when thinking about abortion. 
  5. Everyone should have the right to assisted suicide — or no one should (Felicia Nimue Ackerman, Vox): “a society that ‘pathologizes’ suicidal feelings of indignity and degradation in rape victims while endorsing them in the terminally ill is, I contend, engaging in a horrifying, odious form of bigotry.” The author is a philosophy professor at Brown.

Why Do You Send This Email?

In the time of King David, the tribe of Issachar produced shrewd warriors “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chron 12:32). In a similar way, we need to become wise people whose faith interacts with the world. I pray this email gives you greater insight, so that you may continue the tradition of Issachar.

Disclaimer

Chi Alpha is not a partisan organization. To paraphrase another minister: we are not about the donkey’s agenda and we are not about the elephant’s agenda — we are about the Lamb’s agenda. Having said that, I read widely (in part because I believe we should aspire to pass the ideological Turing test and in part because I do not believe I can fairly say “I agree” or “I disagree” until I can say “I understand”) and may at times share articles that have a strong partisan bias simply because I find the article stimulating. The upshot: you should not assume I agree with everything an author says in an article I mention, much less things the author has said in other articles (although if I strongly disagree with something in the article I’ll usually mention it).

Also, remember that I’m not reporting news — I’m giving you a selection of things I found interesting. There’s a lot happening in the world that’s not making an appearance here because I haven’t found stimulating articles written about it.

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

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 56

On Fridays I share articles/resources about broad cultural, societal and theological issues, with a preference for content from academics and influential voices. Be sure to see the explanation and disclaimers at the bottom.

Articles I Found Interesting

  1. Your Unchurched Friends Want to Know About Your Faith (Bob Smietana, Christianity Today):  “Almost half [of unchurched Americans] say they discuss religion freely if the topic comes up (47%). A third say they listen without responding (31%), while 11 percent change the subject. Only about a third say someone has explained the benefits of being a Christian to them (35%).”
  2. Obergefell and the New Gnosticism (Sherif Girgis, First Things): “For decades, the Sexual Revolution was supposed to be about freedom. Today, it is about coercion. Once, it sought to free our sexual choices from restrictive laws and unwanted consequences. Now, it seeks to free our sexual choices from other people’s disapproval.” Sherif has spoken for Chi Alpha before.
  3. As a Psychiatrist I Diagnose Mental Illness. And, Sometimes, Demonic Possession (Richard Gallagher, Washington Post): “Questions about how a scientifically trained physician can believe ‘such outdated and unscientific nonsense,’ as I’ve been asked, have a simple answer. I honestly weigh the evidence.”
  4. Most American Christians Believe They’re Victims of Discrimination (Emma Green, The Atlantic): “Almost half of Americans say discrimination against Christians is as big of a problem as discrimination against other groups, including blacks and minorities.”
  5. Nine Prayers For The Not-Yet-Married (Marshall Segal, Desiring God): recommended by a student, relevant to many of you.
  6. Man Seeks Euthanasia To End His Sexuality Struggle (Jonathan Blake, BBC): sanctioning euthanasia is unwise and leads to unexpected outcomes. For a theological argument see Is There No Moral Law? (Douglas Farrow, First Things).
  7. Russia’s Proposed Law: No Evangelizing Outside of Church (Kate Shellnut, Christianity Today): “To share their faith, citizens must secure a government permit through a registered religious organization, and they cannot evangelize anywhere besides churches and other religious sites. The restrictions even apply to activity in private residences and online.
  8. Some more on Brexit:
    • Why Brexit Happened And What It Means (Tyler Cowen): “The actual practical problems with immigration are much greater here in Brussels, but the country is much further from ‘doing anything about it,’ whether prudently or not, and indeed to this day Belgium is not actually a mature nation-state and it may splinter yet.  That England did something is one reflection of the fact that England is a better-run region than Belgium, even if you feel as I do that the vote was a big mistake…. Most of all, I conclude that the desire to preserve the English nation [sic] as English is stronger than I or indeed most others had thought.  There is a positive side to that.  And if all along you thought there was no case for Leave, probably it is you who is the provincial one.” Oddly, the [sic] is in the original.
    • A great piece from shortly before the vote: Reflections Of A Referendum Fence-Sitter (David Goodhart, Prospect Magazine)
    • An interesting piece on the theology of Brexit: For hard-line Protestants, leaving Europe is a matter of eschatology (“Erasmus”, The Economist)

Interesting Research Findings

  • Why People With No Religion Are Projected To Decline As A Share Of The World’s Population (Michael Lipka, Pew Research): “These projections, which take into account demographic factors such as fertility, age composition and life expectancy, forecast that people with no religion will make up about 13% of the world’s population in 2050, down from roughly 16% as of 2010.”
  • The Data On Children In Same-Sex Households Get More Depressing (Mark Regnerus, Public Discourse): “…during adolescence the children of same-sex parents reported marginally less depression than the children of opposite-sex parents. But by the time the survey was in its fourth wave—when the kids had become young adults between the ages of 24 and 32—their experiences had reversed. Indeed, dramatically so: over half of the young-adult children of same-sex parents report ongoing depression, a surge of 33 percentage points (from 18 to 51 percent of the total). Meanwhile, depression among the young-adult children of opposite-sex parents had declined from 22 percent of them down to just under 20 percent. A few other findings are worth mentioning as well. Obesity surged among both groups, but the differences became significant over time, with 31 percent obesity among young-adult children of opposite-sex parents, well below the 72 percent of those from same-sex households.”
  • Church Attendance Linked With Reduced Suicide Risk, Especially For Catholics, Study Says (Melissa Healy, LA Times): “Compared with women who never participated in religious services, women who attended any religious service once a week or more were five times less likely to commit suicide between 1996 and 2010, says a study published Wednesday by JAMA Psychiatry.” See the underlying study in JAMA Psychiatry.
  • Researchers Have Found That War Has A Remarkable and Miraculous Effect (Jeff Guo, Wonkblog): “the experience of wartime violence somehow changes people for the better, making them more cooperative and more trusting.”
  • Concrete Problems in AI Safety (multiple impressive authors, arXiv.org): CS people please read this, especially in conjunction with AI Downs Fighter Pilot.

A Quote To Ponder

“Being part of community takes time and involves restrictions. Merely having an identity doesn’t. In our cultural emphasis and life, we’ve gone from a community focus to an identity focus.” David Brooks (source)

Something Amusing To End On

Why Do You Send This Email?

In the time of King David, the tribe of Issachar produced shrewd warriors “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chron 12:32). In a similar way, we need to become wise people whose faith interacts with the world. I pray this email gives you greater insight, so that you may continue the tradition of Issachar.

Disclaimer

Chi Alpha is not a partisan organization. To paraphrase another minister: we are not about the donkey’s agenda and we are not about the elephant’s agenda — we are about the Lamb’s agenda. Having said that, I read widely (in part because I believe we should aspire to pass the ideological Turing test and in part because I do not believe I can fairly say “I agree” or “I disagree” until I can say “I understand”) and may at times share articles that have a strong partisan bias simply because I find the article stimulating. The upshot: you should not assume I agree with everything an author says in an article I mention, much less things the author has said in other articles (although if I strongly disagree with something in the article I’ll usually mention it).

Also, remember that I’m not reporting news — I’m giving you a selection of things I found interesting. There’s a lot happening in the world that’s not making an appearance here because I haven’t found stimulating articles written about it.

If you have a non-Stanford friend who might be interested in these emails, they can sign up at http://glenandpaula.com/wordpress/subscribe, and if you want to view the archives they are at http://glenandpaula.com/wordpress/category/links.