Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 303

topics range from the pandemic to a Biblical view of UFOs

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 303rd edition, which is fun because 303 is a lucky number, a category of numbers that gives us insight into prime numbers.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Dr. Francis Collins Discusses The Complexities Of Herd Immunity (Colbert Report, YouTube): seven minutes. Dr. Collins is a fellow believer and eminent scientist. He flat-out shares his testimony! Recommended by an alumnus.
  2. Why I Didn’t “Just Bake the Cake” (Jack Phillips, First Things): “My commitment to God and to the truth of a book I believe to be his holy Word is the defining premise of my life, the focus of my faith, and the guiding directive for my actions. If you ask me to separate all of that from my work, from my decisions, from my art … I simply can’t do that. Not just won’t—can’t. It’s like asking a contractor to build a great building, but first remove the foundation.”
  3. It’s Time to Develop a Biblical Ufology (Kyle Beshears, Theology in the Middle): “What is the relationship, if any, between UAP phenomena and Christian angelologies and demonologies? How does the doctrine of the imago Dei fit in? Can our theology of the fall address extraterrestrials? What if they arrive denying the lordship of Christ (Gal 1:8; 1 John 2:22)? What if they arrive proclaiming the lordship of Christ (Rom 10:9)?”
  4. The Myth of the Value-Neutral Market (Mark Movsesyian, First Things): “The neutral market does not create tolerance for diverse views; rather, it’s the other way around. Tolerance for diverse views creates the neutral market; when tolerance disappears, the market becomes as polarized as everything else.”
  5. The future of war is bizarre and terrifying (Noah Smith, Substack): “The world may yet explode into another WW2-style conflagration, or the kind of nuclear holocaust we feared during the Cold War. If so, then my bet is that drones will dominate that battlefield. But most of the modern military technologies led themselves to a very different kind of great-power war — a war of constant sniping and harassment. Assassin drones, cyberattacks, info ops, and bioweapons raise the possibility of never-ending low-grade attacks that are below the threshold of massive retaliation.”
  6. For Cosmopolitan Christians, Secular Approval Is a Common Temptation (Justin E. Giboney, Christianity Today): “We need Christians who aren’t smitten with the culture or merely proficient at regurgitating its liturgy. We need believers who can wrestle with secular thought, affirming the merits and opposing the lies. Christians must be confident and distinctly Christian in our fields—boldly speaking up when the emperor is striding around with no clothes. When change is necessary, we must correct the mistakes of our elders by moving closer to the Bible, not further from it.”
  7. Some thoughts about Wuhan:
    • The media’s lab leak fiasco (Matt Yglesias, Substack): “If something is a 70–30 issue but the 30 are keeping their heads down, it can look like a 98–2 issue.… There is just more disagreement and dissension than you would know unless you took the time to reach out to people and speak to them in a more relaxed way. My strong suspicion is that this is true across domains of expertise, and is creating a lot of bubbles of fake consensus that can become very misleading.”
    • Checking Facts Even If One Can’t (Zeynep Tufekci, Substack): “If anything, all this overreach and hurry to declare everything a conspiracy theory or ‘not following the science’ just helps erode what trust authorities or fact-checkers may have had in their pronouncements. Imagine that in a few years, we do get some evidence that really helps resolve the question one way or the other, and the scientific community were indeed able achieve a consensus of sorts. Who’d believe it after this?”
    • The Considerable, If Circumstantial, Evidence of a Wuhan Lab Leak (Jim Geraghty, National Review): “Perhaps the least plausible argument in opposition to the lab-leak theory is that the staff of the Wuhan Institute of Virology or other Chinese facilities are just too diligent to ever make a consequential mistake. The original SARS virus had accidentally leaked from the Chinese Institute of Virology in Beijing, part of China’s Center for Disease Control. Twice.” The compilation of the evidence is compelling. To use a legal image, if I was a on a jury I’d vote to convict unless the opposing counsel had some slam dunk arguments — and in this situation the opposing counsel is frantically trying to get the case dismissed before it comes to court.

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 Every Place Has Detractors. Consider Where They’re Coming From. (Megan McArdle, Bloomberg View): “There is grave danger in judging a neighborhood, or a culture, by the accounts of those who chose to leave it. Those people are least likely to appreciate the good things about where they came from, and the most likely to dwell on its less attractive qualities.” Bear this in mind when listening to conversion testimonies (both secular and religious). (first shared in volume 62)

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 301

perspectives on Israel, Bitcoin, and intellectual honesty

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 301, which is what is known as a Happy Number. So there.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The Cross and the Machine (Paul Kingsnorth, First Things): “It kept happening, for months. Christ to the left of me, Christ to the right. It was unnerving. I turned away again and again, but every time I looked back, he was still there. I began to feel I was being … hunted? I wanted it to stop; at least, I thought I did. I had no interest in Christianity. I was a witch! A Zen witch, in fact, which I thought sounded pretty damned edgy. But I knew who was after me, and I knew it wasn’t over.” A wonderfully-told conversion story.
  2. Why We Should Read What We Cite (Because It Matters) (Joseph Latham & Gilly Koritzky, Heterodox Academy): “Consider an academic article that came out at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and argues that doctors’ racist biases are a main reason for the higher COVID-19-related hospitalization and mortality rates among African Americans. It says that ‘there is evidence of medical bias in the testing and treatment of African-Americans with COVID-19’ and cites this report as the source. The problem? The report contains no such evidence.” The excerpt does not do it justice. Highly recommended. The authors are psychologists.
  3. How We Got to the Equality Act (Matthew Lee Anderson, Christianity Today): “The story that evangelicals are (merely) victims of progressive aggressors not only fails to account for the ways in which the LGBT movement was shaped by populist evangelical rhetoric and tactics. It also forgets that the gay liberation movement was a direct response to the systemic and pervasive exclusion of lesbian and gay individuals from the structures of our public life—including from America itself. Perfectionism in politics breeds radicalism in response.”
  4. When a Famous Literary Critic Unraveled Silicon Valley’s Most Sensational Murder Case (Ted Gioia, Substack): “Imagine a violent murder at the epicenter of early Santa Clara Valley—soon to be renamed Silicon Valley in the popular imagination—and an innocent man sent to Death Row at San Quentin. But a famous literary critic emerges as the super sleuth who gets him freed, amid dark evocations of scandal involving corrupt politicians and murky underworld figures. You don’t need to imagine it, because it really happened.” A engrossing Stanford story.
  5. About the current conflict in Israel:
    • This was written before the current violence: Eight Tips for Reading About Israel (Matti Friedman, Sapir): “If you’re critical of open-fire orders on the Gaza fence, you should know how that works on the India-Pakistan border, or the Turkey-Syria border, or on the perimeters of U.S. military bases in Afghanistan. Same goes for refugee absorption, press freedom, minority rights, or anything. Israel doesn’t always come out looking great. But you’ll find that most criticism of Israel doesn’t compare it with anything. That’s a sign the discussion isn’t about a real country.”
    • Against Israel: A bad partner is worse than rain (Freddie de Boer, Substack): “If every word that they have said about the perfidy and self-destruction of the Palestinians was correct, it would make no difference. The moral obligation falls on the dominant party, and Israel is beyond dominant. The mythmaking about all of the opportunities they squandered does not make a lick of moral difference.”
    • For Israel: For the Sake of Peace, Israel Must Rout Hamas (Bret Stephens, New York Times): “Israel made plenty of mistakes in the run-up to the current fighting, including heavy-handed policing in Jerusalem at Ramadan and inadequate policing in Arab-Israeli towns that have been hit by mob violence. But there is a vast difference in moral weight between Israel’s miscalculations and Hamas’s calculations, between blunders and crimes. That’s something to bear in mind when Palestinian rockets hit Israeli civilians by design and Israeli missiles hit Palestinian civilians inadvertently.”
    • Against Israel: A Nightmare of Terror Across the Landscape of Palestine (Yousef Munayyer, The Nation): “In towns throughout Israel, Palestinians have been beaten and terrorized by rampaging mobs; one man was dragged from his car and brutalized in what many are describing as a lynching. In the West Bank, Palestinians have been shot and killed in raids by the Israeli military. In Jerusalem, Palestinian families, facing the ongoing threat of expulsion, have been harassed by settlers and military alike. And across Gaza, Israeli war planes have dropped bomb after bomb, destroying entire apartment buildings. Many have died, many more have been injured. If they manage to survive, they will witness their society shattered when the smoke clears.”
    • For Israel: The Two Wrongs of the Gaza Narrative (David French, The Dispatch): “Any discussion of the law of war often sounds cold and clinical, even though we’re discussing matters of life and death, including the inevitable and tragic deaths of civilians who always suffer when wars rage in city centers—especially when jihadists wear civilian clothes and embed themselves in civilian structures. When Hamas does so, it violates the law of war by inhibiting the distinction between civilian and military targets. The legal and moral responsibility for resulting civilian deaths rests with Hamas, not Israel.”
    • Against Israel: The U.S. Must Stop Being an Apologist for the Netanyahu Government (Bernie Sanders, New York Times): “No one is arguing that Israel, or any government, does not have the right to self-defense or to protect its people. So why are these words repeated year after year, war after war? And why is the question almost never asked: ‘What are the rights of the Palestinian people?’ And why do we seem to take notice of the violence in Israel and Palestine only when rockets are falling on Israel?”
    • For Israel: The Bad Optics of Fighting for Your Life (Bari Weiss, Substack): “The goal here is the eradication of the Jewish people. That is the bone-chilling truth. That is the core obstacle to peace. Anyone who insists that the ongoing rocket barrage is about a particular Israeli government policy must be made to answer for this.”
  6. Religious Liberty and Economic Freedom (Christos Makridis, City Journal): “Using data on more than 146 countries since 1996, my research finds that increases in religious freedom precede, and help explain, increases in economic freedom. The logic is simple: since religious freedom fundamentally involves granting individuals the autonomy to think and worship in whatever form they wish, it is arguably the most basic of all freedoms. Property rights are of little use if those who retain them do not have the freedom to think what they wish and practice what they believe.” Christos, an economist at Arizona State, is an alumnus of our ministry.
  7. Rival thoughts on Bitcoin:
    • Bitcoin Is Civilization (Balaji S. Srinivasan, Bari Weiss’ Substack): “Bitcoin might seem like a curiosity in a democracy with a stable currency. But in countries with deeply unstable economies and authoritarian politics, it is a lifeline. As Alex Gladstein recently explained in Reason Magazine, Bitcoin has been used by dissidents and activists in places like Cuba, Nigeria, and Belarus. In Russia, the country’s most prominent opposition politician and Putin critic, Alexei Navaly, has raised millions in Bitcoin. As Gladstein wrote: ‘Putin can do a lot of things, but he can’t freeze a bitcoin account.’ If you want to understand what crypto is really about, ask Venezuelans if they’d rather own bolívar or Bitcoin.”
    • The Case Against Bitcoin (Michael W. Green, Bari Weiss’s Substack): “In the last week of April, mining pools based in China accounted for roughly 90% of the processing power (‘hash rate’) in the Bitcoin network. Roughly three weeks ago, a power outage in the Xinjiang region of China resulted in a plunge in global Bitcoin processing. Bitcoin mining — the process of record keeping for the ‘immutable’ chain of record on which the Bitcoin network depends — is dominated by entities in countries with the stated objective to harm the interests of the United States. Bitcoin proponents continuously assure us that this is ‘just about to change,’ but the data has not shifted in a meaningful manner in the last five years. This is not a decentralized system. It is centralized in the countries that seek our destruction.”

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 timely What The Media Gets Wrong About Israel (Matti 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.” (first shared back in volume 5, note that the first Israel article in today’s roundup is by the same author).

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 300

some of the articles have higher-quality arguments than the norm

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 300, which is how many Spartans it takes to fend off a Persian army.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. When Men Behave Badly — A Review (Rob Henderson, Quillette): “Intriguingly, men and women converge in their answers when asked what percentage of men would be willing to commit rape. Women estimate that about one-third of men would commit rape if there were no consequences, and about one-third of men report that they would commit rape if they believed they could get away with it.” The author is a PhD candidate at Cambridge reviewing a book by a professor at UT Austin. Extremely interesting throughout. Highly recommended.
  2. Proof That Political Privilege Is Harmful for Christianity (Nilay Saiya, Christianity Today): “In a peer-reviewed study published this month in the journal Sociology of Religion, my coauthor and I challenge the perceived wisdom that education and affluence spell Christianity’s demise. In our statistical analysis of a global sample of 166 countries from 2010 to 2020, we find that the most important determinant of Christian vitality is the extent to which governments give official support to Christianity through their laws and policies. However, it is not in the way devout believers might expect.”
  3. The Redemption of Justin Bieber (Zach Baron, GQ): “And then there is God. If you ask Chance the Rapper why he and his friend seem so happy in an industry that tends to grind people to dust, he will answer without hesitation. ‘Both of us, our secret sauce is Jesus,’ Chance says. ‘Justin doesn’t fake the funk. He goes to Jesus with his problems, he goes to Jesus with his successes. He calls me just to talk about Jesus.’ ”
  4. In Deciding Fulton v. Philadelphia, the Supreme Court Should Remember That Foster Care Is for the Children (James Dwyer, National Review): “But foster care is not a public accommodation nor a service to ‘the public.’ Children are not generic goods for sale (like donuts or cups of coffee), to which everyone has an equal right. Instead, when the government is making decisions on behalf of foster children, it is obligated to act only in that child’s best interest.” The author is a law prof at William and Mary and this article is really good.
  5. Pandemic-related:
    • COVID-19 Rewired Our Brains (Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review): “At some point, the pandemic — the provisional and practical judgments in favor of caution that can justify restrictive behaviors — became an unshakeable moral purpose. Actual weighing of risks went out the window: There’s a deadly disease out there; my actions can contribute to the end of the disease or to its spreading in perpetuity. ” This articulates something I’ve dimly felt. Very good.
    • The Liberals Who Can’t Quit Lockdown (Emma Green, The Atlantic): “But personal decisions during the coronavirus crisis are fraught because they seem symbolic of people’s broader value systems. When vaccinated adults refuse to see friends indoors, they’re working through the trauma of the past year, in which the brokenness of America’s medical system was so evident. When they keep their kids out of playgrounds and urge friends to stay distanced at small outdoor picnics, they are continuing the spirit of the past year, when civic duty has been expressed through lonely asceticism. For many people, this kind of behavior is a form of good citizenship. That’s a hard idea to give up.”
    • Believe Science: Get Vaccinated. Then Relax. (Bari Weiss, Substack): “In other words, once we are stuck inside it is very hard to unstick ourselves. I’m trying to remind myself of this truth when I find myself wanting to berate friends who, fully vaccinated, look at me with crazy eyes when I suggest coming over for dinner. PTSD might be too strong a descriptor, but it’s not so far off either.”
    • Data Shows White Evangelicals And Catholics More Likely to Get Vaccine Than ‘Nones’ and General Public (Ryan Burge, Religion Unplugged): “…when the sample is broken down into the three of the largest religious groups: White evangelicals, White Catholics and the religiously unaffiliated, some disparities begin to emerge. It’s noteworthy that White Christians were significantly more likely to get the vaccine than the general public between January and April. In the latest wave of the survey, nearly 60% of White Catholics had been vaccinated and just about half of White evangelicals said the same. It was the religious “nones” that were lagging far behind, with only 31% indicating that they had received one dose.” That is definitely not the impression I’ve gotten from the media, but it is the impression I’ve gotten from my friends. The author is a professor of political science at Eastern Illinois University.
    • Patents are Not the Problem! (Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution): “Patents are not the problem. All of the vaccine manufacturers are trying to increase supply as quickly as possible. Billions of doses are being produced–more than ever before in the history of the world. Licenses are widely available.… Plastic bags are a bigger bottleneck than patents. The US embargo on vaccine supplies to India was precisely that the Biden administration used the DPA to prioritize things like bioreactor bags and filters to US suppliers and that meant that India’s Serum Institute was having trouble getting its production lines ready for Novavax. CureVac, another potential mRNA vaccine, is also finding it difficult to find supplies due to US restrictions (which means supplies are short everywhere).” Loosely related, but such a glorious rant I had to share it.
    • The origin of COVID: Did people or nature open Pandora’s box at Wuhan? (Nicholas Wade, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists): “Science is supposedly a self-correcting community of experts who constantly check each other’s work. So why didn’t other virologists point out that the Andersen group’s argument was full of absurdly large holes? Perhaps because in today’s universities speech can be very costly. Careers can be destroyed for stepping out of line. Any virologist who challenges the community’s declared view risks having his next grant application turned down by the panel of fellow virologists that advises the government grant distribution agency.” Very thorough, very readable, very persuasive. There is a real chance humans are responsible for COVID and we need to investigate it.
  6. How the Pentagon Started Taking U.F.O.s Seriously (Gideon Lewis-Kraus, New Yorker): “Despite the fact that most adults carry around exceptionally good camera technology in their pockets, most U.F.O. photos and videos remain maddeningly indistinct, but the former Pentagon official implied that the government possesses stark visual documentation; Elizondo and Mellon have said the same thing.”
  7. I Became a Mother at 25, and I’m Not Sorry I Didn’t Wait (Elizabeth Bruenig, New York Times): “But what of having children — or getting married, for that matter — before establishing oneself? That is: What to say to the young person who might consider those kinds of commitments if not for the finality of it all, the sense that she may be making somebody else before knowing who she herself really is?”

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 Weight of Glory (C.S. Lewis): It was originally preached as a sermon and then printed in a theology magazine. Related: see the C. S. Lewis Doodle YouTube channel – it’s really good! (first shared in volume 36)

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 295

A lot about Jesus and a little bit about the news cycle.

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 volume 295, which is not a terribly interesting number. According to one website it is a “structured deltoidal hexacontahedral number” but that sounds silly and is even less interesting to me than the simple fact that 295 = 59 ⋅ 5.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Tennant on Aquinas’s Second Way (Ed Feser, personal blog): “…I don’t mean to be too hard on Tennant, specifically. There is nothing unique about his objections. On the contrary, variations on them are constantly raised against Aquinas by mainstream academic philosophers and by mainstream academics and intellectuals from other fields (not to mention countless amateurs). And yet they are all demonstrably based on egregious errors and misunderstandings. Which, while it tells you nothing about Aquinas, says much about what you should think of mainstream academic and intellectual opinion.” 
  2. From the Empty Tomb to Today’s Abuse: Believe Women (Amy Orr-Ewing, Gospel Coalition): “If we don’t believe women, then we have to dismiss the eyewitnesses to the Incarnation, Atonement, and Resurrection. If we won’t listen, we don’t have access to the evidence for the central truths of the Christian faith.”
  3. Is Christianity a White Man’s Religion? (Claude Atcho, Gospel Coalition): “[This] example and exhortation show how to disentangle rather than deconstruct. Through careful disentangling and patient recovery, we find that Christianity uniquely speaks to the concerns of Black people with experiential and historical foundations that have empowered our people for centuries.”
  4. He’s a Famous Evangelical Preacher, but His Kids Wish He’d Pipe Down (Nicholas Kristof, New York Times): “I told Rick Joyner that I thought his struggles with his children reflected a larger generation gap and dwindling of influence of the religious right. To my surprise, he agreed. ‘The church in America has been tremendously weakened,’ he acknowledged. If the Joyners are a microcosm of a nation divided, perhaps they also offer a ray of hope in their ability to bridge differences. They remain close and get together for holidays, even if gatherings are tense.” Really interesting.
  5. How America’s surveillance networks helped the FBI catch the Capitol mob (Drew Harwell & Craig Timberg, Washington Post): “Whenever you see this technology used on someone you don’t like, remember it’s also being used on a social movement you support,” said Evan Greer, director of the digital rights advocacy group Fight for the Future. “Once in a while, this technology gets used on really bad people doing really bad stuff. But the rest of the time it’s being used on all of us, in ways that are profoundly chilling for freedom of expression.”
  6. Welcome to the Decade of Concern (Tanner Greer, Scholar’s Stage): “The 2020s will see both the growth of Chinese military power to new heights and a temporary nadir in American capacity to intervene in any conflict in China’s near abroad. The ‘temporary’ part of that equation is important. Historians of the First World War and the Pacific War trace the origins of those conflicts to pessimistic assessments of the changing balance of power. The belligerency of imperial Japan and Wilhelmine Germany rested on a belief that their position vis a vis their enemies could only decline with time. Any statesman who believes that a temporary military advantage over an enemy will soon erode will have a strong incentive to fight it out before erosion has begun.”
    • China-related: The cost of speaking up against China (Joel Gunter, BBC): “Some of those who spoke to the BBC — from the US, UK, Australia, Norway, the Netherlands, Finland, Germany, and Turkey — provided screenshots of threatening WhatsApp, WeChat and Facebook messages; others described in detail what had been said in phone and video calls. Everyone described some form of detention or harassment of their family members in Xinjiang by local police or state security officials.”
  7. On the Georgia voting law:
    • Positive: Why State Election Reform Bills Don’t Signal a New Jim Crow Era (Walter Olson, The Dispatch): “The law, widely portrayed as a horrendous venture into so-called voter suppression, actually contains many provisions that liberalize access to ballot methods that came in handy during the pandemic, such as early voting, as well as addressing the genuine problem of long lines at polling places.”
    • Negative: What Georgia’s Voting Law Really Does (Nick Corasaniti and Reid J. Epstein, New York Times): “Go page by page through Georgia’s new voting law, and one takeaway stands above all others: The Republican legislature and governor have made a breathtaking assertion of partisan power in elections, making absentee voting harder and creating restrictions and complications in the wake of narrow losses to Democrats.”
    • Positive: No, Georgia’s new voting law is not a return to Jim Crow (Henry Olsen, Washington Post): “No bill is perfect, and reasonable people can disagree about the balance between voter access and election integrity. But Democratic claims that this law amounts to racist voter suppression should be seen for what they are: overwrought partisan rhetoric that unnecessarily increases racial and political tensions.” The author is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center
    • Outraged: Voter Suppression Is Violence (Jamil Smith, Rolling Stone): “This neo-Jim Crow measure builds upon the mayhem that has already cost lives, not just at the Capitol, but also thanks to the malevolent governance of Republicans nationwide. After decades of working to erode the promise of the American experiment, or perhaps to simply reserve it for themselves, it appears that Republicans want to finish the job this year. This is why S.B. 202, and the laws surely to be modeled after it, are designed to ensure that white men with regressive politics will continue to hold power.”
    • Negative-ish: Fact check: What the new Georgia elections law actually does (Daniel Dale and Dianne Gallagher, CNN): “As critics have correctly said, the law imposes significant new obstacles to voting. It also gives the Republican-controlled state government new power to assert control over the conduct of elections in Democratic counties. The law does, however, contain some provisions that can be reasonably be described as pro-voting, and critics have not always described all of the text accurately.”

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

  • Lifeguard Earnings Here May Have You Practicing Your Strokes (Arden Dier, Newser): “According to Forbes, seven lifeguards made more than $300,000 in 2019, which was the most recent year for which data was available, while 82 lifeguards made more than $200,000. Thirty-one lifeguards made more than $50,000 in overtime pay, while three collected more than $100,000, per Forbes.”
  • John Morton (Penn & Teller Fool Us, YouTube): the trick is about nine minutes, although the video is longer due to ads at the end.
  • Chick-Fil‑A Drug Dealer (John Crist, YouTube): five minutes

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have From the happy news department: Christian Missions and the Spread of Democracy (Greg Scandlen, The Federalist): This is a summary of some rather wonderful research Robert Woodberry published in The American Political Science Review back in 2012: The Missionary Roots of Liberal Democracy. If it looks familiar it’s because I allude to it from time to time in my sermons and conversations. (first shared in volume 14)

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 292

there is an absurdly long list of entertaining YouTube videos 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 292, which is the number of ways you can break a dollar into two or more coins.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Growing My Faith in the Face of Death (Tim Keller, The Atlantic): “Most particularly for me as a Christian, Jesus’s costly love, death, and resurrection had become not just something I believed and filed away, but a hope that sustained me all day. I pray this prayer daily. Occasionally it electrifies, but ultimately it always calms: And as I lay down in sleep and rose this morning only by your grace, keep me in the joyful, lively remembrance that whatever happens, I will someday know my final rising, because Jesus Christ lay down in death for me, and rose for my justification.”
  2. The Empty Religions of Instagram (Leigh Stein, New York Times): “I have hardly prayed to God since I was a teenager, but the pandemic has cracked open inside me a profound yearning for reverence, humility and awe. I have an overdraft on my outrage account. I want moral authority from someone who isn’t shilling a memoir or calling out her enemies on social media for clout.”
  3. Do Liberals Care if Books Disappear? (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “In the last stages of the same-sex marriage debate, I never encountered a flicker of private doubt from liberal friends. But in the gender-identity debate, there are pervasive liberal doubts about the current activist position. Yet without liberal objection, that position appears to set rules for what Amazon will sell.”
  4. The Miseducation of America’s Elites (Bari Weiss, City Journal): “So children learn how the new rules of woke work. The idea of lying in order to please a teacher seems like a phenomenon from the Soviet Union. But the high schoolers I spoke with said that they do versions of this, including parroting views they don’t believe in assignments so that their grades don’t suffer.… One English teacher in Los Angeles tacitly acknowledges the problem: she has the class turn off their videos on Zoom and asks each student to make their name anonymous so that they can have uninhibited discussions.”
    • Related: Private Schools Have Become Truly Obscene (Caitlin Flanagan, The Atlantic): “Private schools regularly make decisions that parents don’t understand. Like ancient peoples, the parents try to make sense of the clues. They decide that college admissions must be the god of private school—wrong—or that the god must be AP scores, or sports, or institutional reputation. Wrong, wrong, and wrong. The god of private school is money.“A little uneven but a viscerally fun read.
  5. Canceling Is Powerless (Freddie deBoer, Substack): “Politics is about power. Cancel mobs don’t have it, and they never will. You wanted reparations; you got Dr. Seuss. Maybe time to take a hard look at why.” His follow-up Perhaps We Cannot Do Both is also worthwhile.
  6. Why Reformed Evangelicalism Has Splintered: Four Approaches to Race, Politics, and Gender (Kevin DeYoung, Gospel Coalition): “By virtue of our upbringing, our experiences, our hurts, our personalities, our gifts, and our fears, we gravitate toward certain explanations and often think in familiar patterns when it comes to the most complicated and controversial issues. Why is it that by knowing what someone thinks about, say, mask wearing that you probably have a pretty good idea what they think about Christian Nationalism and systemic racism?” His breakdown of approaches is helpful even outside the Reformed tribe. You can see all four responses within Chi Alpha. Highly recommended if you want a framework for understanding why fellow believers disagree with you.
  7. Two articles about China:

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 Land of We All (Richard Mitchell, The Gift of Fire), an essay built on this insight: “Thinking can not be done corporately. Nations and committees can’t think. That is not only because they have no brains, but because they have no selves, no centers, no souls, if you like. Millions and millions of persons may hold the same thought, or conviction or suspicion, but each and every person of those millions must hold it all alone.” (first shared in volume 2)

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 289

A collection of links ranging from the future of America to the impacts of hypocrisy.

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 289, which is a Friedman number because 289 = (8 + 9)2

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Why will the important thinkers of the future be religious ones? (Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution): “Fourth, if you live amongst the intelligentsia, being religious is one active form of rebellion. Rebelliousness is grossly correlated with intellectual innovation, again even if the variance of quality increases.” Cowen is not religious himself.
  2. 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.
  3. The “Majority-Minority” Myth (Andrew Sullivan, Substack): “Most demographic estimates of the ‘white’ population are based on the Census definition: ‘non-Hispanic white.’ But what of ‘Hispanic whites’ — those whose lineage may come from South or Latin America in ethnicity but who also identify racially and socially as white? If you include them in this category, America remains two-thirds ‘white’ all the way through 2060 and beyond.” A fascinating read.
  4. ‘Horrible’: Witnesses recall massacre in Ethiopian holy city (Cara Anna, Associated Press): “Bodies with gunshot wounds lay in the streets for days in Ethiopia’s holiest city. At night, residents listened in horror as hyenas fed on the corpses of people they knew. But they were forbidden from burying their dead by the invading Eritrean soldiers.… some 800 people were killed that weekend at the church and around the city.”
  5. The Doublethinkers (Natan Sharansky with Gil Troy, Tablet Magazine):  “Step by liberating step, I was running toward freedom. By the time I was imprisoned in 1977, I had been free for at least four years. As thrilling as it was to be released from prison after nine long years in 1986, leaving the prison of doublethink years earlier made me even more euphoric.” The author has had quite the life — beginning as a scientist in Soviet Russia, becoming a dissident, and then eventually reaching Israel and becoming a politician.
    • Related: Firing Actors for Being Conservative Is Another Hollywood Blacklist (Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine): “What’s most striking about the news coverage of Carano’s defenestration is the utter absence of any scrutiny of her employer or her (now-former) agency. The tone of the reporting simply conveys her posts as though they were a series of petty crimes, the punishment of which is inevitable and self-evidently justified. The principle that an actor ought to be fired for expressing unsound political views has simply faded into the background.”
    • Also related: Gina Carano and Crowd-Sourced McCarthyism (Bari Weiss, newsletter): “Things have gotten so ridiculous so quickly — Bon Appetit is currently going back and editing insufficiently sensitive recipes in what they call (I kid you not) an ‘archive repair effort’ — that my baseline assumption is that 99 percent of cancellations are unwarranted. In other words, people are losing their jobs and their reputations not for violating genuine taboos but for simple mistakes, minor sins or absolute nonsense.”
    • And a different related story:  Whistleblower at Smith College Resigns Over Racism (Bari Weiss, Substack): “Under the guise of racial progress, Smith College has created a racially hostile environment in which individual acts of discrimination and hostility flourish. In this environment, people’s worth as human beings, and the degree to which they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, is determined by the color of their skin.”  
  6. ‘You Are One Step Away from Complete and Total Insanity’ (David French, The Dispatch): “This has been a difficult newsletter to write. I’ve had to confront my own negligence. I’m a Christian writer and journalist, and I paid insufficient attention to Thompson’s initial claims. I was only vaguely aware of her allegations at the time, and had I dug down into the story, it would have been obvious that Zacharias’s account had serious problems. It is no excuse to say that I can’t cover everything. I should have covered this. I’m terribly sorry I did not.”
    • Related: The Wreckage of Ravi Zacharias (Rusell Moore, newsletter): “Your salvation and discipleship are not dependent on whether the preacher from whom you heard the gospel is genuine, but rather on whether the gospel itself is genuine. It is. Predators often move forward by hiding behind mimicked truth. Predatory filmmakers proceed by learning how to make good films. Predatory politicians go forward by honing political skills. Fraudulent religious leaders often peddle false doctrine, but some of them also traffic in true doctrines by which they have not personally been transformed. Yes, wolves often come with false doctrine. But that does not mean that wolves are limited to the flocks that tolerate false doctrine. In infiltrating a sheep pen, a wolf will come in the skin of a sheep, not that of a goat.”
    • Also related: Ravi Zacharias, Rich Mullins, and a Ragamuffin Legacy (Esther O’Reilly, Patheos): “As I was reflecting on all this recently, my mind went back to another figure who was a ‘celebrity Christian’ in his own way, yet attained this status reluctantly, almost by accident. This figure also had a magnetic appeal, also had a lucrative and popular ministry, and also used his platform to address the challenges of the Christian walk. He also spoke often about sin, grace, moral purity and spiritual integrity, while wrestling with private sin. I’m speaking about Christian singer-songwriter Rich Mullins…” Rich Mullins is actually one of my heroes.
  7. Essentially Fertile: Notes Toward a Land Ethic (Jacquelyn Lee, First Things): “Whatever one’s opinion about climate change—true, false, man-made, natural course of events, the most acute problem humanity faces, leftist unicorn, etc.—it’s undeniable that the average American is estranged from the land. That the earth is humanity’s sole source of food and water is as inescapable as ‘male and female he created them.’ And just as conservatives insist that without a rightly ordered sexual ethic society will be in disarray, so should we insist that without a rightly ordered ‘land ethic’ society is unsustainable.” I was not sure what to expect as I began reading this article and was pleasantly surprised.

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 How To Ask Your Mentors For Help (Derek Sivers): this is super‐short and very good. Excerpting it would ruin it. Read the whole thing. First shared in volume 224.

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 288

I keep thinking one week there won’t be enough content… this isn’t that week

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 288. The number 288 is interesting in that it can also be written 4! ⋅ 3! ⋅ 2! ⋅ 1!

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. How Long Can COVID Cases Keep Plummeting? (David Wallace-Wells, NY Magazine): “It’s insane. It’s totally crazy. And so, you’re absolutely right, we have chosen that the best way forward is to live in a state of uncertainty rather than giving people all the tools and information, even if it isn’t perfect. It turns out that in many cases we’d rather not engage with that knowledge at all than have any sources of error in whatever it is we’re doing.“An interview with a Harvard epidemiologist. Highly recommended, although be warned that it will frustrate you with how reasonable and yet underimplemented his suggestions are. The title is poorly chosen.
    • The Vaccine Had to Be Used. He Used It. He Was Fired. (Dan Barry, New York Times): “The Texas doctor had six hours. Now that a vial of Covid-19 vaccine had been opened on this late December night, he had to find 10 eligible people for its remaining doses before the precious medicine expired. In six hours. [He did and for] his actions, Dr. Gokal was fired from his government job and then charged with stealing 10 vaccine doses worth a total of $135 — a shun-worthy misdemeanor that sent his name and mug shot rocketing around the globe.” The doctor comes across as a hero and the prosecutor as a villain. Not even a real villain — cartoon villain. I am actually a little worked up about this.
  2. 10 Lessons of an MIT Education (Gian-Carlo Rota, Texas A&M University): “At certain liberal arts colleges, sports appear to be more important than classroom subjects, and with good reason. A sport may be the only training in ‘knowing how’-in demonstrating certifiable proficiency-that a student undertakes at those colleges. At MIT, sports are a hobby (however passionately pursued) rather than a central focus because we offer a wide range of absorbing ‘knowing how’ activities.” Apparently one of an MIT professor’s advisees archived his faculty website after his death.
    • Related: Ten Lessons I Wish I Had Been Taught (Gian-Carlo Rota, Notices Of The AMS): “You have to keep a dozen of your favorite problems constantly present in your mind, although by and large they will lay in a dormant state. Every time you hear or read a new trick or a new result, test it against each of your twelve problems to see whether it helps. Every once in a while there will be a hit, and people will say, ‘How did he do it? He must be a genius!’ ” This link is a PDF.
  3. With a Star Science Reporter’s Purging, Mob Culture at The New York Times Enters a Strange New Phase (Quillette editorial): “So what we’re left with is the spectacle of an acclaimed reporter being purged not for malevolent actions, nor even malevolent intent, but rather for making a certain kind of sound. This is an important departure from ordinary mobbings because, even in their most dogmatic form, theories of social justice generally are at least nominally concerned with the improvement of human morality, which, crucially, is inseparable from the question of intent. McNeil, on the other hand, is being judged according to a theory of wrongdoing that presents certain words or phrases as evil by their mere utterance, as with a Harry Potter spell.” This is very cleverly written. Also, extremely correct.
  4. All In One (John Tasioulas, Aeon): “If, for example, human rights are demands that are generally high-priority in nature, such that it’s seldom if ever justified to override them, then we lose our grip on that important idea if we start including under the heading of ‘human rights’ valuable objectives – for example, access to a high-quality internet connection – that don’t plausibly enjoy that kind of priority.” Recommended by a student. The author is a philosopher at Oxford.
  5. Ravi Zacharias Hid Hundreds of Pictures of Women, Abuse During Massages, and a Rape Allegation (Daniel Silliman and Kate Shellnutt, Christianity Today): “A 12-page report released Thursday by Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) confirms abuse by Zacharias at day spas he owned in Atlanta and uncovers five additional victims in the US, as well as evidence of sexual abuse in Thailand, India, and Malaysia.” The full report is here (pdf).
  6. We Need Balance When It Comes To Gender Dysphoric Kids. I Would Know (Scott Newgent, Newsweek): “So if we are now waking up to the fact that gender dysphoria is over-simplistically conflated with transgenderism, medical treatments have understudied long-term consequences, some are getting rich off transgender medicine and de-transitioners are speaking up in skyrocketing numbers, why are we only making it easier for children to unquestioningly transition? We now have the obligation to work together to slow trans medicalization of minors until they are adults and have the capacity to truly understand the lifelong consequences of transitioning. As a former lesbian and current trans man, I maintain this is not transphobic.”
  7. How To Be Pro-Life in Joe Biden’s America (David French, The Dispatch): “There remains no barrier for pro-life Americans to love their neighbor and directly support mothers and children who face dire need. There is even an opportunity to enact legislation that can further ease the fears of young mothers and increase their confidence that they can raise and support a child… Politics do matter, certainly, but there’s a deeper truth. Christians don’t need to win Senate races to love their neighbors.”

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 Importance of Stupidity in Scientific Research (Martin A. Schwartz, Journal of Cell Science): “At some point, the conversation turned to why she had left graduate school. To my utter astonishment, she said it was because it made her feel stupid. After a couple of years of feeling stupid every day, she was ready to do something else. I had thought of her as one of the brightest people I knew and her subsequent career supports that view. What she said bothered me. I kept thinking about it; sometime the next day, it hit me. Science makes me feel stupid too. It’s just that I’ve gotten used to it. So used to it, in fact, that I actively seek out new opportunities to feel stupid.” The author is a professor at Yale. First shared in volume 221.

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 283

perspectives on a day students will cover in their US History classes

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. WHAT HAPPENED
    • Madness on Capitol Hill (Andrew McCormick, The Nation): “For all the violence in the air, the mood was less coup and more college football tailgate. Pop songs blared from speakers. Somewhere, snare drums went rat-a-tat-tat. And the chants were so loud they rumbled in your chest.” This is the most vivid article I have come upon so far.

    • ‘Is This Really Happening?’: The Siege of Congress, Seen From the Inside (various, Politico): “One member at one point, a Democrat, Steve Cohen, yelled over towards the Republican side of the room and said, ‘Call Trump and tell him to call this off.’ And then a little bit later on, a lawmaker sitting on the Republican side shot back and said something along the lines of, ‘I bet you liberals are glad now you didn’t defund the police.’”This is amazing. And reading this I have a much more positive view of the frontline police response than I had gleaned from previous reporting. The issue was higher in the command structure.

    • Let me tell you about my experience at yesterday’s Trump Rally. (Not The Bee): “Again, pictures never do a crowd justice, but I went to a Big 10 college football school, I know what tens of thousands of people looks like, and this was that at least.”

    •  ‘What else could I do?’ NJ Rep. Kim helps clean up Capitol (Mike Catalini, AP News): “‘When you see something you love that’s broken you want to fix it. I love the Capitol. I‘m honored to be there,’ he said. ‘This building is extraordinary and the rotunda in particular is just awe-inspiring. How many countless generations have been inspired in that room? It really broke my heart and I just felt compelled to do something. … What else could I do?’” A profile of the man behind a photo you’ve no doubt seen.

  2. WHAT HAPPENED IN CONTEXT
    • America’s History of Political Violence (Darel E. Paul, First Things): “Early reactions to the incursion tended toward the catastrophic, and more than one journalist spoke of a ‘coup,’ the death of the Republic, and ‘civil war.’ By evening calmer heads and cooler emotions began to emerge as the rioters were arrested and dispersed, revealing less a Bolshevik storming of the Winter Palace than a LARPing event by QAnon paranoids.” The author is a professor of political science at Williams College.

    •  The Five Crises of the American Regime (Michael Lind, Tablet Magazine): “In the past eight months, two Capitol Hills have fallen. Two shocking events symbolize the abdication of authority by America’s ruling class, an abdication that has led to what can be described, not without exaggeration, as the slow-motion disintegration of the United States of America in its present form.… What is the meaning of these dystopian scenes? Many Democrats claim that Republicans are destroying the republic. Many Republicans claim the reverse. They are both correct.” The author is a professor in the UT Austin school of public affairs. This is the most comprehensive (and to my mind, largely correct) analysis I’ve come across.

    • Violence in the Capitol, Dangers in the Aftermath (Glenn Greenwald, Substack): “One need not dismiss the lamentable actions of yesterday to simultaneously reject efforts to apply terms that are plainly inapplicable: attempted coup, insurrection, sedition.… That the only person shot was a protester killed by an armed agent of the state by itself makes clear how irresponsible these terms are.” 

  3. THEOLOGICAL/RELIGIOUS COMMENTARY
    • Christian Leaders Pray for Peace and Safety Amid Capitol Mob (Kate Shellnutt, Christianity Today): “Pastor Rick Warren called the attack ‘domestic terrorism,’ while Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission president Russell Moore condemned their actions as ‘immoral, unjust, dangerous, and inexcusable’ and called on the president to direct his supporters to ‘stop this dangerous and anti-constitutional anarchy.’ ”There’s a wide roundup of voices here.

    • Like A Fire Shut Up In My Bones (Paul Shult, Lutherans For Racial Justice): “My thoughts I share with you are shaped by my calling as a pastor. I am not a political science major, a lawyer, a public policy expert, or a business owner. I don’t want to argue politics, which is very difficult because so much in our nation and in Christianity has become politicized. So, here are my thoughts around just a few things I think are important to consider — perhaps they can be helpful to some.” The author pastors a church near campus that several of our students have attended (one of them brought this article to my attention).

    • The Gospel in a Democracy Under Assault (Russell Moore, Gospel Coalition): “Countries can fall. I hope this one doesn’t. But, either way, let’s not fall with it.”

    • Illegitimate Times (Douglas Wilson, personal blog): “So it is looking as though one way or another we are going to have to learn how to live under a government we believe to be at bottom illegitimate. And that looks to be the case no matter what happens today, actually, which happens to be January 6, the day when Congress ratifies the votes of the Electoral College. If Biden is confirmed, which seems likely, a very large number of Americans will believe he got there by fraudulent means. And if Trump is confirmed—by some sort of extraordinary long shot—that irregular process, whatever it was, will be considered by a very large number of Americans to have been fraudulent in a very different way. And even though a larger number of Christians will be in the first group, our numbers in both groups will not be insignificant.” Please note, this is from before the events in question! I share it because it contains some very unusual insights.

  4. APOLOGETICALLY INTERESTING
    • Why Religious Couples Thrive in a Pandemic (Liz HoChing & Spencer James, Real Clear Religion): “It is no surprise therefore that home-worshipping couples were significantly more likely to be highly satisfied with their sexual relationship, compared with couples in a shared secular relationship. Women in shared home-worshipping relationships were found to be twice as likely to be sexually satisfied from the international data, and three-times as likely to be sexually satisfied from data gathered in the United States. These are numbers that cannot be ignored.”
      • There are many interesting quotes I could have chosen. I pick this one because it is something I commonly see come up in research and yet so contrary to the prevailing narrative in our culture. And also because most of you are yet to pick your spouse — this is a reminder to pick someone who shares your vibrant faith in the Lord.
    • Standing By: The Spatial Organization of Coercive Institutions in China (Adam Y. Liu and Charles Chang, Social Science Research): “We find that police stations are more likely to be located within walking distance of foreign religious sites (churches) than other sites (temples), even after controlling for the estimated population within 1km of each site and a set of key site attributes.” The authors are scholars at the National University of Singapore and at Yale, respectively.
    • Interesting tidbits from the article itself (the above is from the abstract):
      • “…among all major religions in China, Christianity has since the late 19th century been persistently viewed by the Chinese state—the incumbent atheistic party state in particular—as the most threatening to social order and state power.”
      • “…one of the most consistent and surprising social scientific findings is the extent of the involvement of religious groups in large scale social and political movements.”
      • “Scholars find that the participatory and civic attitudes embedded in Christianity make its believers more likely to engage in collective contention.”
      • “In a sharp contrast, the party state sees other religions, such as Buddhism, as not only non-threatening, but also conducive to strengthening its grip on power. In some instances, local officials have even supported the construction of non-Western religious sites as an explicit way to counter the growing influence of Christianity in their jurisdictions.”
    • Let me be clear: I lack the expertise to evaluate their findings. What I find fascinating is the matter-of-fact way these scholars refer to a consensus in their field about Christianity. It is interesting to read this in conjunction with the news about this week.
  5. UNRELATED THINGS
    • Rev. William Barber on Greed, Poverty and Evangelical Politics (David Marchese, New York Times): “Very few religious leaders are able to inspire political action on the part of large numbers of people who don’t share their church, their denomination or their faith. Yet the Rev. Dr. William Barber, senior pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, N.C., has done just that.” This is an interesting (and at times perplexing) interview.
    • some problems don’t have solutions, or the demand game (Freddie DeBoer, personal blog): “Here’s the reality with pornography: it may very well be very bad, and there is probably nothing that we can do about it. Technology changed the world and made something for which their is huge demand effortlessly easy to transmit and receive. And that’s that; that’s the story of pornography. Some problems don’t have solutions.” The author, an atheist socialist, inadvertently comes close to agreeing with Jesus that “the poor you will have with you always.”
    • Inside RZIM, Staff Push Leaders to Take Responsibility for Scandal (Daniel Silliman, Christianity Today): “At an online all-staff meeting in mid-October, however, RZIM speaker Sam Allberry, who officiated at Zacharias’s graveside service, asked why ‘ministry teammates’ had been included in the official denial. They had not been consulted before leadership crafted the unsigned statement denying the claims. ‘Why are you putting words in my mouth?’ said Allberry, according to people who attended the meeting. ‘Frankly, I believe these women and find their allegations to be credible.’”
      • This makes me very sad. Also, there’s a personal caution in here. One of the details is that Zacharias lied about smaller things. If you ever see me lying or exaggerating (except for obvious humor), please call me on it. I’d rather be embarrassed socially in the moment than lay the foundation for ruin later.
    • The Awokening Will Not Bring an End to the Nightmare (Musa al-Gharbi, Interfaith Youth Core) : “…the whites who seem most eager to condemn ‘ideological racism’ (i.e. people saying, thinking or feeling the ‘wrong’ things about minorities), and who are most ostentatious in demonstrating their own ‘wokeness,’ also tend to be the people who benefit the most from what sociologists describe as ‘institutional’ or ‘systemic’ racism. Consequently, the places in America with the highest concentrations of whites who are ‘with it’ also happen to be the most unequal places in the country.” The author is a sociologist at Columbia.
    • Making policy for a low-trust world (Matthew Yglesias, substack): “The correct way to respond to a low-trust environment is not to double down on proceduralism, but to commit yourself to the ‘it does exactly what it says on the tin’ principle and implement policies that have the following characteristics: It’s easy for everyone, whether they agree with you or disagree with you, to understand what it is you say you are doing. It’s easy for everyone to see whether or not you are, in fact, doing what you said you would do. It’s easy for you and your team to meet the goal of doing the thing that you said you would do.”
    • Like Preacher-Politicians Before Him, Senator Raphael Warnock Will Keep His Pulpit (Adelle Banks, Christianity Today): “ ‘It’s unusual for a pastor to get involved in something as messy as politics, but I see this as a continuation of a life of service: first as an agitator, then an advocate, and hopefully next as a legislator’” Warnock said as he was closing in on the top spot of a wide-open primary. ‘I say I’m stepping up to my next calling to serve, not stepping down from the pulpit.’ ” I did not know this history, and after reading it I am pleased to inform you that if I am elected to the US Senate I will continue to minister with Chi Alpha at Stanford.
    • The Real Problem with 4‑Letter Words (Karen Swallow Prior, Gospel Coalition): “Cursing falls into different categories. Strictly speaking, profanities are words that desacralize what is holy. Words misusing the names of God and his judgments are profane; the worst of these are blasphemy.While profanities are related to the divine, obscenities are related to the human. This category of words serves to coarsen bodily functions (whether sexual or excretory).… Another category of curse words consists of those the cognitive scientist Steven Pinker calls ‘abusive.’ ”
    • California’s Donor-Disclosure Law Threatens Religious Charities (John Bursch, Real Clear Religion): “Not once has the attorney general given a convincing reason for collecting donors’ names and addresses en masse. His office has effectively regulated charities for decades without that information. In 10 years, the attorney general only used donor lists in five out of 540 investigations. And even in those five, he could have obtained the same information through targeted subpoenas or audits, all without risking the massive disclosure of sensitive information from all registered charities.”
    • The New Strain: How Bad Is It? (Brendan Foht and Ari Schulman, The New Atlantis): “The steps that most need to be taken in response to the new strain are the same ones that should have been taken for the last year anyway, but that our government has proved largely unable or unwilling to take. An effective regime of testing, tracing, and isolating, for example, has been needed throughout the pandemic, but never really implemented.” One of the authors posted on Twitter: “In the course of working on this piece, my concern about the new Covid strain went from about a 4 to an 8.5, with the remaining 1.5 composed mostly of generalized skepticism and motivated disbelief.”

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 How Pornography Makes Us Less Human and Less Humane (Matthew Lee Anderson, The Gospel Coalition): “Beneath pornography is the supposition that the mere fact of our desire for a woman makes us worthy of her. And so, not being bound by any kind of norm, desire must proceed endlessly. It is no surprise that the industrialized, cheap‐and‐easy sex of pornography has answered and evoked an almost unrestrained sexual greed, which allows us to be gods and goddesses within the safety of our own fantasies. It is for deep and important reasons that the Ten Commandments use the economic language of ‘coveting’ to describe the badness of errant sexual desires.” First shared in volume 216.

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 282

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

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. How Perfectionism Has Made the Pandemic Worse (Miles Kimball, personal blog): “I’ve noticed one regularity in how the US (and many other countries) have handled the pandemic: perfectionism has been getting in the way of a quick and powerful response. Every little bit would have helped reduce the reproduction ratio of the coronavirus, but only things that were big bits were allowed.” The author is an economist at UC Boulder.
    • Public health bodies may be talking at us, but they’re actually talking to each other (Megan McArdle, Washington Post): “…when a large group acts as though a complicated problem is a no-brainer, that doesn’t mean the solution is obvious; it means something has gone badly wrong.”
    • My vaccine crackpottery: a confession (Scott Aaronson, personal blog): “I think [our failure] will be clear to future generations, who’ll write PhD theses exploring how it was possible that we invented multiple effective covid vaccines in mere days or weeks, but then simply sat on those vaccines for a year, ticking off boxes called ‘Phase I,’ ‘Phase II,’ etc. while civilization hung in the balance.” The author is a CS prof at UT Austin.
    • Small Number of Covid Patients Develop Severe Psychotic Symptoms (Pam Belluck, New York Times): “[she] had become infected with the coronavirus in the spring. She had experienced only mild physical symptoms from the virus, but, months later, she heard a voice that first told her to kill herself and then told her to kill her children.” Shared with me by a student who noted it is both interesting and freaky. This really highlights what a bullet we dodged with this pandemic — can you imagine a plague whose main effect was to make people violently psychotic? Society would end. Full-on zombie apocalypse.
  2. Rick Warren On The Year We Had (Cameron Strang, Relevant Magazine): “We have led over 16,000 people to Christ since March. We’re in revival. We’re averaging about 80 people a day coming to Christ—80 people a day.… Of those 16,000 people who have come to Christ, over 12,000 of them have come through personal, one-on-one witnessing by my members. Not led to Christ by my sermons. By one on one evangelizing.”
  3. East Africa fears second wave — of locust swarms (Navin Singh Khadka, BBC): “New swarms of desert locusts are threatening the livelihoods of millions of people in the Horn of Africa and Yemen despite a year of control efforts, the United Nations has warned.” This is the latest news concerning an article from August an alumnus recently shared with me: The Biblical locust plagues of 2020 (David Njagi, BBC): “In 2020, locusts have swarmed in large numbers in dozens of countries, including Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Somalia, Eritrea, India, Pakistan, Iran, Yemen, Oman and Saudi Arabia. When swarms affect several countries at once in very large numbers, it is known as a plague.”
  4. Why You Can’t Meet God Over Zoom (Esau McCaulley, New York Times): “The very inadequacy of church services, Zoom and otherwise, is a reminder we do not come into churches to encounter a life lesson on how to raise our children or to learn to be good Americans, whatever that means. Our aim is much more audacious. We are attempting to encounter God and, in so doing, find ourselves, possibly for the first time.” The author is a New Testament professor at Wheaton College.
    • This isn’t really a knock on McCaulley so much as an observation and a hope: many Christians who write for publications like the NYT lead with the negatives and slowly build to their point that “church isn’t so bad really and maybe someday you should check it out.” I wonder if that is a byproduct of the editorial process or if it is simply a selection effect in the sort of Christian intellectual who wants to (and is permitted to) write an op-ed for a culturally influential publication.
    • Thinking about this puts me in mind of Erica Campbell’s song I Luh God (YouTube, three minutes). It swept through our ministry a few years ago, I think because it scratched an itch in our students. Our students had dance parties to it after our worship services. She sang with confident joy: “I luh God, you don’t luh God? What’s wrong with chu?”
    • When we discuss the faith as though it were a series of syllogisms we’re being foolish. People’s questions need answers, certainly. But all the answers in the world will do no good if, at some level, people don’t hope Christianity is true. We must kindle hope before we go to the trouble of overcoming objections to hope.
    • I say all that to say this: if you ever write an op-ed for the New York Times, do apologetics without being apologetic. Bring as much joy to it as you can and let your writing be filled with winsome confidence. We need a whole flock of Christian intellectuals with the swagger of a G.K. Chesterton.
  5. Higher Education Risks No Longer Being Worth It – Here’s How to Change Course (Christos Makridis, Quillette): “For all the talk about racial equity in colleges, you would think that faculty would be working with local small business owners, especially minorities, to mentor and equip them to drive greater profitability and impact. Unfortunately, that rarely happens.” Christos is an alumnus of our ministry.
  6. The Church Needs Prophets, But It Wants Lawyers (David French, The Dispatch): “American Christian culture is rife with congregants looking for lawyers, not prophets and not pastors. The church-shopping phenomenon puts us in churches that make us feel quite comfortable, and the sheer number of available congregations (especially in the South and parts of the Midwest) makes us quite mobile.”
    • I almost didn’t share this one because I thought it was more useful for ministry leaders, but after I had mentally deep-sixed it a student emailed me and said: “I think it could be useful for Christians who find themselves frustrated by and unable to support blanket criticism of the church and of organized religion from the left, but also dissatisfied by responses from the right that frame any criticism as part of a culture war and trivialize issues within the church as just a few bad examples. I think for me it also was helpful in thinking of how I might respond to non-Christians when these kinds of criticisms come up in conversation and how I can be both defend Christianity and the good parts of the church while acknowledging continued brokenness and need for improvement. It also happened to tie in nicely with a sermon I heard on Sunday about how Christians have no problem recognizing sin as the cause of brokenness in the world but often point to the sins of others, whether of peers, leaders, or past generations, instead of their own sin as the cause of that brokenness. In that sense I think it both helped me think about how to process the failings of prominent Christians and talk about them with non-believers as well as be reminded by these failings to remember that beyond defending the church, my response as an individual should also be to identify and root out sin in my own life even when the damage is not as obvious to my community.”
  7. WHAT HAPPENS ON JANUARY 6th (Ben Sasse, Facebook): “There is some voter fraud every election cycle – and the media flatly declaring from on high that ‘there is no fraud!’ has made things worse. It has heightened public distrust, because there are, in fact, documented cases of voter fraud every election cycle. But the crucial questions are: (A) What evidence do we have of fraud? and (B) Does that evidence support the belief in fraud on a scale so significant that it could have changed the outcome? We have little evidence of fraud, and what evidence we do have does not come anywhere close to adding up to a different winner of the presidential election.”
    • Sasse is one of the Nebraska senators and is also a former seminary president. Missouri senator Josh Hawley, who this seems to be aimed at, is also an outspoken believer on Capitol Hill. Hawley, incidentally, did his undergrad at Stanford. He graduated the year we were launching Chi Alpha, so our paths have never crossed.
    • Hawley doesn’t have a statement as comprehensive as Sasse’s, but here is an excerpt from his press release: “I cannot vote to certify the electoral college results on January 6 without raising the fact that some states, particularly Pennsylvania, failed to follow their own state election laws. And I cannot vote to certify without pointing out the unprecedented effort of mega corporations, including Facebook and Twitter, to interfere in this election, in support of Joe Biden.”
    • I generally avoid political posts like this because I find the minutia of politics uninteresting. In this case, the fact that two evangelicals who are normally political allies are having a substantive and public disagreement intrigues me.

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 Real Problem at Yale Is Not Free Speech (Natalia Dashan, Palladium): “The campus ‘free speech’ debate is just a side‐effect. So are debates about ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion.’ The real problems run much deeper. The real problems start with Marcus and me, and the masks we wear for each other…. In a world of masks and façades, it is hard to convey the truth. And this is how I ended up offering a sandwich to a man with hundreds of millions in a foreign bank account.” I liked this one a lot. First shared in volume 215.

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 279

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. Blows to volleyball star Hayley Hodson’s head changed her life (Patrick Hruby, LA Times): “The family did not trust Stanford. School doctors, Hodson says, had diagnosed her foot pain as inflammation and told her that she wasn’t risking further injury by playing. Medical records show that an independent doctor subsequently reviewed MRI scans taken by Stanford and determined she had a stress fracture.” Hayley was a student in Chi Alpha.
  2. My White Privilege Didn’t Save Me. But God Did (Edie Wyatt, Quillette): “Not long after, I walked into a suburban Baptist church, full of strange, unfashionably dressed, conservative Christians. I was a Marxist, a feminist, foul-mouthed, a chain-smoker, and desperate. The love I received in that place is the reason that I will defend the rights of fundamentalist Christians to my dying breath.” This is amazing. If you only read one thing this week, make it this one. Reminder: titles are rarely chosen by the author and often do not reflect the essence of an article.
  3. A pastor’s life depends on a coronavirus vaccine. Now he faces skeptics in his church. (Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Washington Post): “Before the pandemic, the 45-year-old minister, who normally leads nearly 2,000 people, would stand by the entrance to shake hands and offer hugs. Now, before services, he stays secluded in a room offstage until it is time to preach while an armed church member who works for Homeland Security watches the door.”
  4. Americans’ Mental Health Ratings Sink to New Low (Megan Brenan, Gallup): “Although the majority of U.S. adults continue to rate their mental health as excellent (34%) or good (42%), and far fewer say it is only fair (18%) or poor (5%), the latest excellent ratings are eight points lower than Gallup has measured in any prior year.” 
    • Recommended by a student because of one very interesting statistic: the only group that showed an increase in mental health was weekly churchgoers (the weekly part matters — monthly churchgoers experienced a decline). I looked at the more detailed PDF and it was unclear to me how they asked about church attendance, and of course it is impossible to identify causation from a survey like this.
    • I found this comment by an economist on Twitter funny: “This is absolutely the least surprising thing ever. Church folks are like, “The pandemic sucks, but my church did these 57 things and I’m overwhelmed with people trying to find ways to support during these times.” Everybody else is like, ‘I’M SO ALONE’” 
  5. The Rise and Fall of Carl Lentz, the Celebrity Pastor of Hillsong Church (Ruth Graham, New York Times): “Soon the church’s cultural cachet grew outside Christian circles. ‘I knew people who came to church not because they were Christians but because they thought Carl was hot,’ said Heather McClanahan, who worked for the church in 2014 and 2015.”
    • The Crisis of Christian Celebrity (David French, The Dispatch): “The way I’ve put it in speeches to young Christians is simply this, ‘Make the easy choice so you don’t have to make the hard choice.’ Saying no to the extra drink is much easier than halting a drunken flirtation.”
  6. Prominent evangelicals are directing Trump’s sinking ship. That feeds doubts about religion. (Michael Gerson, Washington Post): “When prominent Christians affirm absurd political lies with religious fervor, nonbelievers have every reason to think: ‘Maybe Christians are prone to swallowing absurd religious lies as well. Maybe they are simply credulous about everything.’ If we should encounter someone who believes — honestly and adamantly believes — in both the existence of the Easter Bunny and in the resurrection of Christ, it would naturally raise questions about the quality of his or her believing faculties.”
  7. The coming war on the hidden algorithms that trap people in poverty (Karen Hao, MIT Technology Review): Not until they were standing in the courtroom in the middle of a hearing did the witness representing the state reveal that the government had just adopted a new algorithm. The witness, a nurse, couldn’t explain anything about it. “Of course not—they bought it off the shelf,” Gilman says. “She’s a nurse, not a computer scientist. She couldn’t answer what factors go into it. How is it weighted? What are the outcomes that you’re looking for? So there I am with my student attorney, who’s in my clinic with me, and it’s like, ‘Oh, am I going to cross-examine an algorithm?’”

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

QI’s Gift-Wrapping Life Hack! (QI, YouTube): mind blown in less than three minutes

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have Tourist Journalism Versus the Working Class (Kevin Mims, Quillette): “To university‐educated media professionals like Carole Cadwalladr, James Bloodworth, and John Oliver, an Amazon warehouse must seem like the Black Hole of Calcutta. But I’ve done low‐paying manual labor for most of my working life, and rarely have I appreciated a job as much as my role as an Amazon associate.” I learned many things from this article. First shared in volume 212, with a follow-up shared the next week: How (and Why) to KISSASS (Kevin Mims, Quillette): “…if you’re not a member of the professional class, the key to getting your personal essays published in prominent publications is KISSASS—Keep It Short, Sad, And Simple, Stupid.”

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.