Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 21

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.

To that end, on Fridays I’ve been sharing articles/resources I have found helpful recently in thinking about broader cultural and societal issues (be sure to see the disclaimer at the bottom). May these give you greater insight, so that you may continue the tradition of Issachar. Past emails are archived at

Without further ado, I give you the interesting things:

  1. How big of a deal do you have to be for POTUS to interview you? President Obama & Marilynne Robinson: A Conversation In Iowa (NY Review of Books). You might recall that Robinson is speaking at Stanford soon and also that I mentioned her essay “Fear” a few emails back.
  2. Wondering why people are fleeing Syria? Check out Syria’s War: A Five Minute History (a Vox video). This is really well-done. 
  3. There is also violence erupting in Israel. Foreign Policy asks Can Anyone Prevent A Third Intifada?  Incidentally, if you wonder why people are skeptical of the way news concerning Israel is reported, take a look at Returning to the Copy Desk, Briefly (Kevin Williamson, National Review). It is a takedown of a NY Times article showing how much bias can creep into an apparently objective article (this is from the right critiquing the left — for counterexamples search for clips from the Daily Show). Bottom line: it’s really hard to find trustworthy news about Israel.
  4. Lying About Our Religion, and Other Problems With Polling (Religion Dispatches). There really is a problem developing with polling, which is bad news because we rely upon polling in our national life to tell us what the public thinks. Nate Silver is also worried about this — Polling Is Getting Harder, But It’s A Vital Check On Power (FiveThirtyEight).
    • An insightful observation from the “Lying About Our Religion” article: “In a democracy with hundreds of millions of people, how do you know what the public thinks and wants? How do you figure out what binds them together, besides an annual obligation to the IRS and a love of fireworks? In short: how do you know what the public is? Like many hard questions, these problems have been rendered largely invisible, in no small part because “The Public” and “The American People” are favorite fictional characters for politicians and journalists, who speak of them without a trace of precision. So let’s indulge in a quick reality check. The Super Bowl—that national spectacle that unites us around the flickering LCD hearth—had 115 million viewers in the United States last February; in other words, nearly two-thirds of us weren’t watching it. The most-viewed political spectacle of the year, the State of the Union address, draws around 10% of the population. Barack Obama won the 2012 presidential election with 62 million votes, meaning that fewer than 20% of us voted for him. The people have spoken…kind of.”
  5. Quick links:


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.