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 293

featuring several perspectives about the murders in Atlanta

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 293 — a prime number.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Article related to violence against Asian-Americans:
    • Religion, Race, and the Atlanta Murders (Ed Stetzer, Christianity Today): “There are so many threads to this knot that need to be slowly untangled. There are elements related to pornography, sex trafficking, religion, evangelicalism, Southern Baptists, and many others just outside our periphery. But neither the complexity of this event nor the tribalism of our cultural discourse must not allow us to avoid self-reflection and scrutiny. We must confront the reality that something is horribly wrong in our midst when a person kills to ‘eliminate’ temptation.”
    • We Need to Put a Name to This Violence (Jay Caspian Kang, New York Times): “There is no shared history between, say, Thai immigrants who saw images of one of their own attacked in San Francisco, and the Chinese-American population of Oakland alarmed by the assault in Chinatown.Asian-American identity is fractured and often incoherent because it assumes kinship between people who do not speak the same language, and, in many cases, dislike one another.” This was written before the Atlanta murders and is discussing the trend wave of violence more generally.
    • The Muddled History of Anti-Asian Violence (Hua Hsu, New Yorker): “Some have wondered if these horrific, viral videos constitute a wave, or if they were just random incidents. When your concerns have gone unrecognized for decades, it’s understandable why some within the Asian-American community remain so invested in using these highly visible moments as an opportunity to call attention to hate, even if the incidents seem more varied than that. The wave in question isn’t just two or three incidents.” Also written before the Atlanta shootings.
    • Racializing The Atlanta Massage Parlor Killings (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “It is striking to see how quickly our media has racialized the narrative of the horrific murders at the Georgia massage parlors. From what we know so far, the alleged murderer was a young man tormented by his compulsive sexual desires. He visited massage parlors in the past, and went to this one to kill the women he once depended on to gratify his desires. From all the available evidence, these killings were the misogynistic act of a sexually depraved man.” As is often the case with Dreher, some of the best material is in the updates at the end (usually a comment from a reader that Dreher thought significant).
    • When The Narrative Replaces The News (Andrew Sullivan, Substack): “Mass killers, if they are motivated by bigotry or hate, tend to let the world know… This mass murderer in Atlanta actually denied any such motive, and, to repeat myself, there is no evidence for it — and that has been true from the very start.”
    • The Media Got It Wrong: Police Captain Didn’t Say the Atlanta Spa Killer Was Having a ‘Bad Day’ (Robby Soave, Reason): “A police officer excusing Long’s actions as merely the result of him having a ‘bad day’ would indeed be contemptible. But that’s not what Baker did. In fact, many of the people so infuriated about the quote were misled by Rupar’s edit of the video. The full video (the relevant section starts at about 13:50) makes clear that Baker was not providing his own commentary, but rather summarizing what Long had told the investigators.”
  2. Third Places and the Horizons of Male Friendships (Ryan McCormick, Mere Orthodoxy): “Generally speaking, typical male friendship is different from typical, contemporary female friendship. A failure to recognize the different ways that men and women form intimate bonds in friendship is what breeds so much confusion and leads to the misdiagnosis of ‘toxic masculinity.’” I will add one extra layer of diagnosis that the author didn’t address: many in our culture have a horror of male-only spaces. How are we surprised to discover a dearth of male friendships when we view the very existence of masculine communities as evidence of something amiss?
  3. The False and Exaggerated Claims Still Being Spread About the Capitol Riot (Glenn Greenwald, Substack): “Despite this alleged brutal murder taking place in one of the most surveilled buildings on the planet, filled that day with hundreds of cellphones taping the events, nobody saw video of it. No photographs depicted it. To this day, no autopsy report has been released. No details from any official source have been provided.”
    • Follow-up: As the Insurrection Narrative Crumbles, Democrats Cling to it More Desperately Than Ever (Glenn Greenwald, Substack): “As I detailed several weeks ago, so many of the most harrowing and widespread media claims about the January 6 riot proved to be total fabrications. A pro-Trump mob did not bash Office Brian Sicknick’s skull in with a fire extinguisher. No protester brought zip-ties with them as some premeditated plot to kidnap members of Congress (two rioters found them on a table inside). There’s no evidence anyone intended to assassinate Mike Pence, Mitt Romney or anyone else.”
    • Related: Two are charged in the assault of a Capitol Police officer who died after the Jan. 6 riot. (Katie Benner and Adam Goldman, New York Times): “The Justice Department has charged two men in the assault on Brian D. Sicknick, a Capitol Police officer who died the day after he fought rioters storming the Capitol on Jan. 6, according to a law enforcement official briefed on the case and court documents.… It is not clear whether Officer Sicknick died because of his exposure to the spray.”
  4. Covid’s Partisan Errors (David Leonhardt, New York Times): “ ‘Republicans consistently underestimate risks, while Democrats consistently overestimate them.’  …The reasons for these ideological biases aren’t completely clear, but they are not shocking. Conservatives tend to be more hostile to behavior restrictions and to scientific research. And liberals sometimes overreact to social problems.”
  5. Timing the SARS-CoV‑2 index case in Hubei province (Science, Jonathan Pekar et al):  “Empirical observation throughout the SARS-CoV‑2 pandemic has shown the outsized role of superspreading events in the propagation of SARS-CoV‑2, wherein the average infected person does not transmit the virus. Our results suggest the same dynamics likely influenced the initial establishment of SARS-CoV‑2 in humans, as only 29.7% of simulated epidemics from the primary analysis went on to establish self-sustaining epidemics. The remaining 70.3% of epidemics went extinct.… Furthermore, the large and highly connected contact networks characterizing urban areas seem critical to the establishment of SARS-CoV‑2. When we simulated epidemics where the number of connections was reduced by 50% or 75% (without rescaling per-contact transmissibility), to reflect emergence in a rural community, the epidemics went extinct 94.5% or 99.6% of the time, respectively.”
    • This is really interesting. The researchers are largely at UCSD. One implication is that there are a LOT more animal-to-human COVID-like infections that simply never make the leap to becoming widespread. Kind of like music: there are a ton of great musicians who just never catch their big break. Without superspreaders, this kind of pandemic appears unlikely. I hope researchers can find a way to address whatever causes someone to be a superspreader.
  6. Raising Beef Cattle (Tom Blanton, Quillette): “It is by cherry-picking images of the times of confinement from around the world that the gruesome image of ‘factory farms’ is created. Often the images are taken from countries that don’t have the humanitarian regulations that most Western nations have.… If those genuinely concerned for the suffering of animals could find it within themselves to recognize that it is not immoral to slaughter animals humanely for food, they would find many allies for the cause of reducing animal suffering amongst the people who raise and work with these animals on a daily basis.”
  7. Could It Be… Genes? (Freddie deBoer, Substack): “This is an article about how family influences children without a consideration of the most direct and powerful way. The words ‘gene’ and ‘genes’ and ‘genetic’ do not appear in this paper. Neither do ‘heritable’ or ‘heredity’ or ‘hereditary.’ The concept of the transfer of genetic information from parent to offspring simply does not exist in this mental space… in a paper about how families influence the characteristics of their children. I would call this odd, but it’s par for the course in social science research.”

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 On Obstinacy In Belief (C.S. Lewis, The Sewanee Review): this is a rewarding essay from way back in 1955. (first shared in volume 6)

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 273

Honestly, there are too many political articles in this one.

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. How does Google’s monopoly hurt you? Try these searches. (Geoffrey Fowler, Washington Post): “Googling didn’t used to require so much … scrolling. On some searches, it’s like Where’s Waldo but for information. Without us even realizing it, the Internet’s most-used website has been getting worse. On too many queries, Google is more interested in making search lucrative than a better product for us.”
  2. A shadowy AI service has transformed thousands of women’s photos into fake nudes: ‘Make fantasy a reality’ (Drew Harwell, Washington Post): “An artificial intelligence service freely available on the Web has been used to transform more than 100,000 women’s images into nude photos without the women’s knowledge or consent, triggering fears of a new wave of damaging ‘deepfakes’ that could be used for harassment or blackmail. Users of the automated service can anonymously submit a photo of a clothed woman and receive an altered version with the clothing removed.” Well, that’s not terrifying at all. 
  3. Of Course We’re Not a Democracy (Mike Lee, First Things): “Our system of government is best described as a constitutional republic. Power is not found in mere majorities, but in carefully balanced power.” The author is a US Senator (R — Utah).
  4. Should the Professional Be Political? (Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic): “The Coinbase decision captured the attention of CEOs, tech workers, and members of the media who are asking themselves a timely question: What role, if any, should political activism play in the workplace? If Coinbase’s approach doesn’t lead to a staff exodus or legal setbacks or some other unforeseen harm, it is likely to be adopted at other companies––probably for the better––because it is well suited to helping workplaces stay diverse and inclusive in a polarized moment.”
  5. Election-related articles
    • My favorite political ad of 2020 (Twitter): 30 seconds, and I am quite serious. 
    • The Spiritual Blessing of Political Homelessness (David French, The Dispatch): “More and more, thoughtful (mainly young) Christians say to me, ‘I’m pro-life, I believe in religious freedom and free speech, I think we should welcome immigrants and refugees, and I desperately want racial reconciliation. Where do I fit in?’ The answer is clear. Nowhere. And that truth is a blessing, if you embrace it.”
    • Policies, Persons, and Paths to Ruin (John Piper, Desiring God): “Actually, this is a long-overdue article attempting to explain why I remain baffled that so many Christians consider the sins of unrepentant sexual immorality (porneia), unrepentant boastfulness (alazoneia), unrepentant vulgarity (aischrologia), unrepentant factiousness (dichostasiai), and the like, to be only toxic for our nation, while policies that endorse baby-killing, sex-switching, freedom-limiting, and socialistic overreach are viewed as deadly.” 
    • Could Trump Be A Christ-Figure: A Response to John Piper About Trump (C. Michael Patton, Credo House): “I don’t know if Trump is who the media says he is, I can only go off what I hear him say and see him do. Take away the accusations of xenophobia, racism, and misogyny and what do you have? An alleged sordid past with women (me too) and a present of enacting the policies I agree with.” The title is so provocative and I almost didn’t read it, but I found it genuinely interesting. The title is over-the-top, though.
    • Why Most Evangelical Christians are Political Conservatives (JP Moreland, personal blog): “Suffice it to say that, when carefully examined, the texts show that the state is not to be in the business of showing compassion or providing positive rights for its citizens through its use of coercive power (e.g. taxation). These are matters of individual moral responsibility and obligation for the people of God (and various charities). Rather, the state is the protector of negative rights.” The link is to a short blog entry that contains a link to a 20 page PDF. The excerpt is from the PDF. The author is a philosopher at Biola University and brought up some points about the Old Testament I had never considered before. 
    • 2020 Polls: Voters Have Never Been More Divided by Gender (Eric Levitz, NY Magazine): “And today, young women in the U.S. aren’t just unprecedentedly single; they also appear to be unprecedentedly uninterested in heterosexuality: According to private polling shared with Intelligencer by Democratic data scientist David Shor, roughly 30 percent of American women under 25 identify as LGBT; for women over 60, that figure is less than 5 percent.” 👀👀👀
    • A response: No Families, No Children, No Future (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “There is nothing remotely normal about that number. It is a sign of a deeply decadent culture — that is, a culture that lacks the wherewithal to survive. The most important thing that a generation can do is produce the next generation. No families, no children, no future.”
    • How fascist is President Trump? There’s still a formula for that. (John McNeill, Washington Post): “In a federal, decentralized state with constitutional checks and balances, it’s harder to govern as a fascist than to run as one. Trump’s political outlook and behavior bear many similarities to those of fascist leaders, but he has not ruled like an authentic fascist.” Recommended by an alumnus. The author is a history professor at Georgetown. 
    • ICE Detainees in Georgia Say They Had Unneeded Surgeries (Caitlin Dickerson, Seth Freed Wessler and Miriam Jordan, New York Times): “Immigrants detained at an ICE-contracted center in Georgia said they had invasive gynecology procedures that they later learned might have been unnecessary.” About a month old, recommended by an alumnus.
    • In a year of political anger, undecided voters inspire a special kind of scorn (Maura Judkis, Washington Post): “With so much on the line, the Undecideds have become more mystifying — and frustrating — than ever. Nobody believes they are real. Oh, and everyone hates them.”
  6. The Real Causes of Human Sex Differences (David C. Geary>, Quillette): “People have many stereotypes about boys and men and girls and women and most of them are accurate and, if anything, underestimate the magnitude of actual sex differences.The key question is whether these stereotyped beliefs create a self-fulfilling prophecy or are largely a description of sex differences that children and adults have observed in their day-to-day life.” The author is an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Missouri 
  7. Global things to remember in prayer:
    • Nigerian forces killed 12 peaceful protesters, Amnesty says (Sam Olukoya And Lekan Oyekanmi, Associated Press): “At least 56 people have died during two weeks of widespread demonstrations against police violence, including 38 on Tuesday, the group said…. citing eyewitnesses, video footage and hospital reports.”
    • Nigeria Is Murdering Its Citizens (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, New York Times): “The Nigerian state has turned on its people. The only reason to shoot into a crowd of peaceful citizens is to terrorize: to kill some and make the others back down. It is a colossal and unforgivable crime.”
    • Turks and Armenians Reconcile in Christ. Can Azeris Join Them? (Jayson Casper, Christianity Today): “Beytel became a Christian in 2000. But it was not until 2009 when he met Jacob Pursley, an American minister to Turkey, that he began to wrestle with his share in the national responsibility. The spiritual growth of the church is hindered by the unconfessed sin of genocide, Pursley implored the believers. He urged Turkish Christians to seek reconciliation with Armenians, on behalf of the nation.”
    • Azerbaijan Evangelicals: Conflict with Armenians Is Not a Religious War (Jayson Casper, Christianity Today):“Originally a ‘Muslim atheist’ from a well-educated family, he was saved in 1991 after following a beautiful girl and her mysterious leather-bound book to a Bible study. Within a year, he was assistant pastor, and in 1997 he was ordained a minister in the Greater Grace Christian movement.” Including entirely for that luminous excerpt. 
    • Biden and Big Tech have Poland and Hungary in their crosshairs (Gladden Pappin, Newsweek): “The real reason that Poland and Hungary have been demonized in the United States is that they represent a successful alternative to the failed American combination of industrial and family collapse.” The author is a professor of politics at the University of Dallas. I don’t have strong opinions about European politics, but I am struck by how passionate some Americans are about them.

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 Artificial Intelligence and Magical Thinking (Ed Feser, personal blog): “Building a computer is precisely analogous to putting together a bit of magical sleight of hand. It is a clever exercise in simulation, nothing more. And the convincingness of the simulation is as completely irrelevant in the one case as it is in the other. Saying ‘Gee, AI programs can do such amazing things. Maybe it really is intelligence!’ is like saying ‘Gee, Penn and Teller do such amazing things. Maybe it really is magic!’” Feser is one of my favorite philosophers. First shared in volume 197, and I recall a CS major telling me how much he disagreed with it.

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 268

This installment can be titled “America In Decline, but the Bible Looking Pretty Solid. Also Australia.”

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.

After largely finishing this email I learned that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died. I expect a TON of ink to be spilled on this and on whatever develops politically next week. Keep an eye out for thoughtful commentary and send it my way. Please do pray for her family and for our nation — an already tense election season just became even more fraught.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Does the Bible Pass the Bechdel Test? A Data-Driven Look at Women in the Story of Scripture (John Dyer, personal blog): “So does the Bible pass the Bechdel test? This short answer is: yes, there are scenes where two named women have a conversation not about a man. The longer answer is more complex, but also, I think, richer.” This is REALLY well done.
  2. Seven Deadly Sins, One Presidential Election (Bonnie Kristian, Christianity Today): “The seven deadly sins—wrath, sloth, pride, envy, greed, gluttony, and lust—as we now list them came to us in the Western church through Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century, Pope Gregory the Great seven centuries prior, and a mystic named Evagrius two centuries before that…. The 2020 election gives occasion to deal with them all.”
  3. Ecological insights ignored:
    • They Know How to Prevent Megafires. Why Won’t Anybody Listen? (Elizabeth Weil, ProPublica): “Academics believe that between 4.4 million and 11.8 million acres burned each year in prehistoric California…. We live with a deathly backlog. In February 2020, Nature Sustainability published this terrifying conclusion: California would need to burn 20 million acres — an area about the size of Maine — to restabilize in terms of fire.”
    • Is Plastic Recycling A Lie? Oil Companies Touted Recycling To Sell More Plastic (Laura Sullivan, NPR): “All of these problems [with recycling] have existed for decades, no matter what new recycling technology or expensive machinery has been developed. In all that time, less than 10 percent of plastic has ever been recycled. But the public has known little about these difficulties.”
    • Neither article is giving us much new information — I have heard knowledgeable people say similar things for quite some time now. The fact that we have not changed is disappointing but not surprising: politicians (like most people) “listen to science” when the findings of scientists align with their self-interest. The continued existence of these and other glaring problems in American life make me sad.
  4. EXCLUSIVE: Education Department opens investigation into Princeton University after president deems racism ’embedded’ in the school (Tiana Lowe, Washington Examiner): “The Department of Education has informed Princeton University that it is under investigation following the school president’s declaration that racism was ‘embedded’ in the institution.”
  5. Statistics, lies and the virus: five lessons from a pandemic (Tim Harford, personal blog): “You can appreciate, I hope, my obsession with these two contrasting accounts of statistics: one as a trick, one as a tool.… Scepticism has its place, but easily curdles into cynicism and can be weaponised into something even more poisonous than that. “ Very good insights from a British economist.
  6. Racism Is Real. But Is “Systemic Racism”? That Time I Was Published by Newsweek—For Two Hours (Matthew Franck, Public Discourse): “If everyone in general but no one in particular is to blame, the few remaining actual racists among us are let off the hook. They’re no worse than the rest of us. Of course, unlike all of us who are invited to affirm our collective guilt for the ‘system,’ the truly guilty won’t feel guilty.”
    • The author is the Associate Director of the James Madison Program at Princeton University. This one is included mostly for the drama of it being published and then unpublished by Newsweek. There is an unhealthy intellectual climate at many of our major publications.
  7. When you browse Instagram and find former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s passport number (Alex Hope, personal website): “The point of this story isn’t to say ‘wow Tony Abbott got hacked, what a dummy’. The point is that if someone famous can unknowingly post their boarding pass, anyone can.” Surprisingly entertaining and informative.

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have A (Not So) Secular Saint (James K.A. Smith, Los Angeles Review of Books): “Mill’s legacy was effectively ‘edited’ by his philosophical and political disciples, excising any hint of religious life. One would never know from the canon in our philosophy departments, for example, that Mill wrote an appreciative essay on ‘Theism.’” First shared in volume 190.

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 240

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. I often bury my perspective, but here is my two ¢ on the Coronavirus: America is responding to this disease so badly that I find it hard to believe. Given the amazingly competent people who populate this country, our collective ineptitude is staggering.
    • Dealing With a Once-In-A-Century Pathogen (Claire Lehmann, Quillette): “In early October 1918, when the Spanish flu hit the east coast of the United States, the health commissioner of St Louis, Max Starkloff, ordered the closure of schools, movie theaters, saloons, sporting events and other public gathering spots. While the measures were protested by some citizens, the quarantine went ahead. A month later, as the pandemic raged on, he ordered the closure of all business, with a few exceptions, such as banks. While drastic quarantine measures were being implemented in St Louis, the health commissioner of Philadelphia, Wilmer Krusen, gave permission for a parade for the war effort to go ahead in his city. It is reported that within 72 hours of the parade, every bed in Philadelphia’s 31 hospitals was filled, and in the week ending October 5th, 1918, 2,600 people in Philadelphia had died, with the figure almost doubling a week later. At the end of the outbreak, St Louis had the lowest recorded death rate in the US, while in Philadelphia mortuaries overflowed and ‘bodies [were] piled up on sidewalks.’”
    • Coronavirus: Links, Speculation, Open Thread (Scott Alexander, Slate Star Codex): “If we hadn’t let our culture reach the point where governments ban things by default and review at leisure, and where individual initiative is frowned upon in favor of waiting for official permission to do the right thing, we could have recovered from all of these mistakes. Hospitals would have used their existing tests which they already have more than enough of, doctors would have had permission to test suspicious cases at their discretion, and we would have had a chance to catch infections early before they could spread. If the government didn’t already regulate adrenaline, buspirone, insulin, and genetic testing to the point of near-unavailability, maybe people would have thought it was weirder, or raised more of a fuss, when they started doing it for coronavirus tests.”
    • Exclusive: The Strongest Evidence Yet That America Is Botching Coronavirus Testing (Robinson Meyer & Alexis C. Madrigal, The Atlantic): “Testing is the first and most important tool in understanding the epidemiology of a disease outbreak. In the United States, a series of failures has combined with the decentralized nature of our health-care system to handicap the nation’s ability to see the severity of the outbreak in hard numbers.”
    • Before and after: coronavirus empties world’s busiest spaces  (Agence France-Presse, The Guardian): “Empty public squares, a highway with no cars on it and deserted holy sites – a series of striking satellite images have revealed the impact of the coronavirus epidemic on some of the world’s busiest spaces.”
    • Preparing Your Church For Coronavirus (Lyman Stone, The American Conservative): “Thus, Christians have two crucial duties. First, not to use plague, and the fear of the death of the body, as an excuse to abandon our God-given duties. We must care for the sick, both the sick in soul and in body. Where disease kills parents, we must care for the children. Where disease kills children, we must tend to the wounds of the family. Where disease spreads fear, we must be bold in faith. But we should not be idiots. We have a moral obligation to protect others by limiting the spread of disease. To ignore that duty murders our neighbors.” A bit long but excellent. 
  2. Men Too Easily Forgotten (Greg Morse, Desiring God): “Real men do not bully. Real men do not watch porn. Real men do not abuse women. Real men do not live at home after college playing video games in their parent’s basement. Amen to what real men are not, but what, then, is a real man? Can we not say more than just a male who doesn’t do bad? We need men who not only avoid evil but embody what is good. There is a profound difference. One sees manhood as an incurable illness of society to be managed; the other, a pillar to build civilization upon.” Recommended by a student.
  3. Low-Income College Students Are Being Taxed Like Trust-Fund Babies (Erica L. Green, New York Times): “In the past, a student from a household with a joint income of $50,000 who was awarded a scholarship that covered $11,500 in room and board would be taxed at their parents’ rate of 12 percent. Under the new law, that money would be taxed up to 35 percent.” This is a few months old, shared with me by a student. For the record, this is insane.
  4. The other way to lose a war (Ed Feser, personal blog): “Some critics like to chalk up prolonged American engagement in places like Afghanistan and Iraq to warmongering or realpolitik or some other sinister motivation. In my opinion, that is the reverse of the truth. The fault of those who advocate such engagement isn’t worldly cynicism, but otherworldly idealism.” Thoughtful and thought-provoking. Recommended. 
  5. My Same-Sex Attraction Has an Answer (Rachel Gilson, Christianity Today): “For people like me who experience same-sex attraction, the world begs us to believe that our authentic selves are only found in giving in. It promises hero status if we submit to our attractions. Our desires whisper, like a serpent in a garden, that there is no death in going against God’s Word.”
  6. The lure of ‘cool’ brain research is stifling psychotherapy  (Allen Frances, Aeon): “…I can affirm confidently that there are no neat answers in psychiatry. The best we can do is embrace an ecumenical four-dimensional model that includes all possible contributors to human functioning: the biological, the psychological, the social, and the spiritual. Reducing people to just one element – their brain functioning, or their psychological tendencies, or their social context, or their struggle for meaning – results in a flat, distorted image that leaves out more than it can capture.” The author was chair of the psychiatry department at Duke. 
  7. Let’s Deconstruct a Deconversion Story: The Case of Rhett and Link (Alisa Childers, Gospel Coalition): “Our cultural moment is a cauldron of information and celebrity worship in which the cult of personality can ferment and grow. With every hit of the ‘like’ button, the personalities we’ve subscribed to have become our authorities for truth.”
    • Red Flags in the Spiritual Deconstruction of My Old Friends Rhett and Link (Shelby Abbot, personal blog): “After they left staff with Cru, I kept in touch with the guys for a few years. But time and life happened, and my communication with them faded. Every now and then I’d send a message, but both Rhett and Link stopped reciprocating. I figured they probably changed their numbers and email addresses, or had too many DM’s from fans to find my random messages saying hello. [After hearing their] personal spiritual deconstruction stories. It suddenly made a lot sense to me why I never heard back from them.”

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 On Political Correctness (William Deresiewicz, The American Scholar): a long and thoughtful article. “Selective private colleges have become religious schools. The religion in question is not Methodism or Catholicism but an extreme version of the belief system of the liberal elite: the liberal professional, managerial, and creative classes, which provide a large majority of students enrolled at such places and an even larger majority of faculty and administrators who work at them. To attend those institutions is to be socialized, and not infrequently, indoctrinated into that religion…. I say this, by the way, as an atheist, a democratic socialist, a native northeasterner, a person who believes that colleges should not have sports teams in the first place—and in case it isn’t obvious by now, a card-carrying member of the liberal elite.” (first shared in volume 92)

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 235

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. Weathering the Storm: How Faith Affects Well-Being (Byron Johnson & Christos Makridis, Public Discourse): “First, and consistent with prior studies, active Christians exhibit 6 percent greater current life satisfaction and are 6 percentage points more likely to report that they are thriving—a measure from Gallup that combines respondent information on both current life satisfaction and expected future life satisfaction over the next five years. Second, and at least as important, we found that SWB is either acyclical or slightly countercyclical for active Christians, whereas it is strongly procyclical for (inactive) Christians and theists.”
  2. More Non-Evangelicals Are Calling Themselves Born Again (Ryan Burge, Christianity Today): “Just over 36 percent of the entire sample said that they were born again in 1988, the first year the question was asked. The question appeared sporadically on the GSS until 2004, when it became a part of every bi-annual survey as the number of affirmative responses began to rise. In the last 14 years, the share of born-again Americans has risen to 41 percent, and much higher (54%) among people of color. Since 2010, at least half of people of color say that they have had a ‘turning point in their life’ when they committed themselves to Christ.”
  3. Sex differences in chimpanzees’ use of sticks as play objects resemble those of children (Sonya M. Kahlenberg & Richard W. Wrangham, Current Biology): “…when presented with sex-stereotyped human toys, captive female monkeys play more with typically feminine toys, whereas male monkeys play more with masculine toys. In human and nonhuman primates, juvenile females demonstrate a greater interest in infants, and males in rough-and-tumble play. This sex difference in activity preferences parallels adult behavior and may contribute to differences in toy play. Here, we present the first evidence of sex differences in use of play objects in a wild primate, in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). We find that juveniles tend to carry sticks in a manner suggestive of rudimentary doll play and, as in children and captive monkeys, this behavior is more common in females than in males.” https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2010.11.024
  4. When a sex offender calls, she’s there to listen (Serena Solomon, Vox): “On the desk in her living room, a [Women Against Registry] sign summarizes her pitch: ‘Destroying Families Does Not Protect Children.’ It’s a message geared toward women. WAR argues that the registry can prevent registrants from living with supporting relatives; it can bankrupt families and invites vigilante attacks.” A fascinating article. Recommended by a Chi Alphan.
  5. Detroit man settles race discrimination lawsuit, then bank won’t cash his check (Tresa Baldas, Detroit Free Press): “Thomas closed his [existing bank] account that day and left the premises. Within an hour, he deposited the checks into a new account at a Chase bank in Detroit. They cleared within 12 hours. Thomas, who had no car and walked to work, used the money to buy a 2004 Dodge Durango.” This story boggles the mind.
  6. Adventures in the Old Atheism, Part IV: Marx (Ed Feser, personal blog): “Indeed, opposition to Marxism is in my view a prerequisite to being a serious critic of capitalism, for Marxism contains none of the good that is in capitalism, much of the bad that is in it, and adds grave evils of its own to boot.” That’s not the main thrust of this essay, but I loved that quote. The whole thing is worth reading.
  7. People criticize pro-lifers for focusing so much on abortion. But there’s a reason we do. (Matthew Lee Anderson, Vox): “But for the pro-lifer, that ‘clump of cells’ is as wondrous, as potent, as mysterious as, well, the cosmos. The recognition of the ‘baby’ induces a hushed reverence. The universe once appeared out of nothing, a fact that reasonably seems to induce the strange vertigo of awe, but the formation of a new human being is not so different from this. The embryo contains a whole world of possibilities and adventures.”
    • Related: Abortion Regret Isn’t a Myth, Despite New Study (Maria Baer, Christianity Today): “…researcher Michael J. New noted that women who volunteer to respond to questions following an abortion are more likely to be the ones who feel positively about it, and therefore the findings do not represent the full spectrum of women who have had abortions. New—a professor at the Catholic University of America and a scholar with the pro-life Charlotte Lozier Institute—noted that of all the women asked to participate, less than 40 percent agreed, and roughly 30 percent of the 667 who participated had stopped responding by the end of the five-year study.”
    • Related: Trump Marches For Life (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “So, I am genuinely surprised that Donald Trump has been so good on prolife issues, and that he came to the March For Life today. And if people worry that the march is becoming too associated with Republican politics, then they should not fault Trump for it, but should redouble efforts to get more Democrats to get involved.”

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 Making Sense of the Numbers of Genesis [pdf link] (Carol Hill, Perspectives on Science and the Christian Faith): “Joseph and Joshua were each recorded as dying at age 110—a number considered ‘perfect’ by the Egyptians. In ancient Egyptian doctrine, the phrase ‘he died aged 110’ was actually an epitaph commemorating a life that had been lived selflessly and had resulted in outstanding social and moral benefit for others. And so for both Joseph and Joshua, who came out of the Egyptian culture, quoting this age was actually a tribute to their character. But, to be described as ‘dying at age 110’ bore no necessary relationship to the actual time of an individual’s life span.” You will not agree with everything in this article, but it is full of fascinating insights. (first shared in volume 51)

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 225

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.

Incidentally, 225 is a very cool number.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Meet the Minnie Church (Ted Olsen, Christianity Today): “Cast Member Church is truly a church for Disney Cast Members. It’s not a church to attend on vacation. It’s not a church for Disney fans in Central Florida. It’s a church for a certain kind of employee from one company…. Walt Disney World has almost 70,000 employees—a population about the size of Canton, Ohio. It’s the largest single-site employer in the country. At 40 square miles, it’s about as big as Miami or San Francisco.” I did not think I would find this article interesting, but it’s thorough and explores some unexpected angles. 
  2. “This Should Be a Wake-up Call to the Whole World”: Inside the Hong Kong Protests (Jordan Ritter Conn, The Ringer): “The street goes quiet. The protesters crouch and face the police together, remaining still. They open their umbrellas and hold them aloft. Seconds later, the explosions begin.”
  3. Did Emma Sulkowicz Get Redpilled? At the very least, she’s found a new social set. (Sylvie McNamara, The Cut): “Sulkowicz is telling me about the “political journey” she’s lately been on, a listening tour of ideological positions that she’s always considered too right-wing to engage: centrists, conservatives, libertarians, and whatever Jordan Peterson is — various and sundry souls that Jezebelhas canceled, whose names chill dinner conversation across progressive New York. Sulkowicz hasn’t been redpilled; she’s still a feminist and an advocate for survivors of sexual assault. What’s changed is her posture.“ This article was fun to read and full of surprises.
  4. Have 1 in 5 Americans Been in a Consensual Non-Monogamous Relationship? (Charles Fain Lehman, Institute For Family Studies): “In promoting the show, the network tweeted out the eye-catching claim that ‘1 in 5 Americans have been involved in a consensually non-monogamous relationship at some point in their life.’ CBS is far from the only outlet to push the ‘one in five’ claim: it’s appeared in Rolling Stone, Quartz (as cited by NPR), Time, Men’s Health, and Psychology Today, among others. Where does that number come from?”
  5. The Global Protest Wave, Explained (Max Fisher and Amanda Taub, New York Times): “Only 20 years ago, 70 percent of protests demanding systemic political change got it — a figure that had been growing steadily since the 1950s. In the mid-2000s, that trend suddenly reversed. Worldwide, protesters’ success rate has since plummeted to only 30 percent, according to a study by Erica Chenoweth, a Harvard University political scientist who called the decline ‘staggering.’”
  6. And if you haven’t heard Kanye West is now professing Christ and people have opinions.
    1. Kanye West Airpool Karaoke (The Late Late Show with James Corden, YouTube): first some thoughts from the man himself, 20 minutes. Recommended by a student.
    2. ‘Jesus Is King’ and Kanye West is a tax collector (Esau McCaulley, Washington Post): “As an African American Christian trying to make sense of West’s decisions, I have repeatedly reflected on the stories of Jesus eating with tax collectors that upset many of his contemporaries.” The author is a professor at Wheaton. Recommended by an alumnus.
    3. Yeezus Follows Jesus (Nic Rowan, First Things): “I’m good with it. After all, perfectly nice people don’t become saints. God tends to prefer working with jackasses.”
    4. Kanye West’s Conversion Could Be a Cultural Wrecking Ball (Andrew Walker, National Review): “The Apostle Paul warns in the New Testament about vesting too much hope and confidence in new converts, fearing they would be puffed up with pride (something, let’s be honest, Kanye has no problem exuding). We need to let Kanye be a Christian Kanye without making him into a Christian celebrity.”
  7. 11 Places Where Persecuted Christians Need Our Prayers (Megan Fowler, Christianity Today): “Over 245 million Christians live in the 50 countries ranked on the World Watch List as worst for Christians. Between November 2017 and October 2018, 4,136 Christians were killed for their faith in these countries, over 1,266 churches or Christian buildings were attacked, and 2,625 believers were detained, arrested, sentenced, or imprisoned — many of them without a trial.”

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 Spiritual Shape of Political Ideas (Joseph Bottum, The Weekly Standard): many modern political ideas are derived from Christian theological concepts. (first shared in volume 1)

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 219

New students: if this is your first email from the Chi Alpha list, welcome! Every Friday I email out a compilation of articles about broad cultural, societal and theological issues. My hope is that everyone will find at least one link intriguing enough to click through for more.

Most of the list’s content isn’t remotely like this, so even if this isn’t your cup of tea be sure to stick around (although I’ve heard rumors that some people stay on our list just for this Friday email). Also pay attention to the explanation and disclaimers at the bottom — I really mean them. And I welcome your suggestions, so if you read something fascinating please pass it my way.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Legacy and Athlete Preferences at Harvard (Peter Arcidiacono, Josh Kinsler and Tyler Ransom, link is a PDF of a working paper): “The lawsuit Students For Fair Admissions v. Harvard University provided an unprecedented look at how an elite school makes admissions decisions. Using publicly-released reports, we examine the preferences Harvard gives for recruited athletes, legacies, those on the dean’s interest list, and children of faculty and staff (ALDCs). Among white admits, over 43% are ALDC. Among admits who are African American, Asian American, and Hispanic, the share is less than 16% each. Our model of admissions shows that roughly three quarters of white ALDC admits would have been rejected if they had been treated as white non-ALDCs. Removing preferences for athletes and legacies would significantly alter the racial distribution of admitted students, with the share of white admits falling and all other groups rising or remaining unchanged.” The lead author is an econ professor at Duke.
  2. Too Much Dark Money in Almonds (Scott Alexander, Slate Star Codex): “Everyone always talks about how much money there is in politics. This is the wrong framing. The right framing is Ansolabehere et al’s: why is there so little money in politics? But Ansolabehere focuses on elections, and the mystery is wider than that. Sure, during the 2018 election, candidates, parties, PACs, and outsiders combined spent about $5 billion – $2.5 billion on Democrats, $2 billion on Republicans, and $0.5 billion on third parties. And although that sounds like a lot of money to you or me, on the national scale, it’s puny. The US almond industry earns $12 billion per year. Americans spent about 2.5x as much on almonds as on candidates last year.” It builds to a surprising twist. Highly recommended.
  3. I normally avoid two links from one author, but every once in a while someone is on fire. Against Against Pseudoaddiction (Scott Alexander, Slate Star Codex): “Let me confess: I think pseudoaddiction is real. In fact, I think it’s obviously real. I think everyone should realize it’s real as soon as it’s explained properly to them. I think we should be terrified that any of our institutions – media, academia, whatever – think they could possibly get away with claiming pseudoaddiction isn’t real. I think people should be taking to the streets trying to overthrow a medical system that has the slightest doubt about whether pseudoaddiction is real. If you can think of more hyperbolic statements about pseudoaddiction, I probably believe those too.” I am fully persuaded by this article. 
  4. ‘I Basically Just Made It Up’: Confessions of a Social Constructionist (Christopher Dummitt, Quillette): “In my defence, I wasn’t alone. Everyone was (and is) making it up. That’s how the gender-studies field works. But it’s not much of a defence. I should have known better. If I were to retroactively psychoanalyze myself, I would say that, really, I did know better. And that’s why I was so angry and assertive about what I thought I knew. It was to hide the fact that, at a very basic level, I didn’t have proof for part of what I was saying. So I stuck to the arguments with fervor, and denounced alternative points of view.” The author is a historian at Trent University (in Canada). 
  5. The Christian Right Is Helping Drive Liberals Away From Religion (Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux and Daniel Cox, FiveThirtyEight): “Researchers haven’t found a comprehensive explanation for why the number of religiously unaffiliated Americans has increased over the past few years — the shift is too large and too complex. But a recent swell of social science research suggests that even if politics wasn’t the sole culprit, it was an important contributor.”
    • Related: Not everybody wants thoughts and prayers after a disaster, according to a study of hurricane survivors (Allen Kim, CNN): “Thinking of sending your ‘thoughts and prayers’ to those affected by tragedy or a natural disaster? Well, not everyone wants them. While Christians value these gestures from religious people, some atheists and agnostics would pay money to avoid them, according to a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.” I am shocked at how allergic some people are to religion. The academic article upon which this news story was based is The value of thoughts and prayers (Linda Thunström and Shiri Noy, PNAS).
  6. World Vision Flips the Script on Child Sponsorship (Jeremy Weber, Christianity Today): “Almost 1,000 children in rural Guatemala gained sponsors this month from a megachurch in southern Indiana. But in this case, it was the indigenous children in need who pondered photos of smiling faces and chose one they felt a connection with. And it was the adult donors in the United States who nervously waited, wondering who would pick them.”
  7. The grandmaster diet: How to lose weight while barely moving (Aishwarya Kumar, ESPN): “Robert Sapolsky, who studies stress in primates at Stanford University, says a chess player can burn up to 6,000 calories a day while playing in a tournament, three times what an average person consumes in a day. Based on breathing rates (which triple during competition), blood pressure (which elevates) and muscle contractions before, during and after major tournaments, Sapolsky suggests that grandmasters’ stress responses to chess are on par with what elite athletes experience.”

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 Godspeed: The Pace Of Being Known (Vimeo): a student brought this 30 minute video to my attention and said it made her think about how she should be living in her dorm. Recommended. First shared in volume 181.

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 210

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.

It’s good to be back after last week’s hiatus.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. AI Trained on Old Scientific Papers Makes Discoveries Humans Missed (Madeleine Gregory, Motherboard): “In a study published in Nature on July 3, researchers from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory used an algorithm called Word2Vec sift through scientific papers for connections humans had missed. Their algorithm then spit out predictions for possible thermoelectric materials, which convert heat to energy and are used in many heating and cooling applications.”
  2. Can Christian Compassion Influence How We Treat Migrants? (Alan Cross, The Bulwark): “Compassion is not inherited, either in individuals nor in nations. It must be cultivated and that cultivation often happens in trial when we are tested. America is being tested right now. How will we respond to the migrants coming to us desperate for help and refuge? How will we respond to the sight of Oscar and Valeria drowning and being found face down on the banks of Rio Grande in each other’s arms?”
    • Related: In the ‘battle at the border,’ evangelical leaders jostle for Trump-era media relevancy (Julia Duin, GetReligion): “Unless you’ve been under a rock recently, you know much of the country is fixated on the mess at our border. What’s not as visible is how evangelical Christians are fighting among themselves over all of this.”
    • And yet: Republicans turn more negative toward refugees as number admitted to U.S. plummets (Hannah Hartig, Pew Research): “By more than two-to-one (68% to 25%), white evangelical Protestants say the U.S. does not have a responsibility to accept refugees. Other religious groups are more likely to say the U.S. does have this responsibility. And opinions among religiously unaffiliated adults are nearly the reverse of those of white evangelical Protestants: 65% say the U.S. has a responsibility to accept refugees into the country, while just 31% say it does not.”
  3. Manly wedding rings for tough guys who are dudes (Dan Brooks, The Outline): “I don’t hunt, but I briefly considered buying a camouflage ring, partly to signal my deep commitment to irony and partly to get better service at the auto parts store.” I really enjoyed this essay, and I hope that many of you have need of wedding bands in the not-too-distant future.
  4. Evangelical Christians Face A Deepening Crisis (Peter Wehner, The Atlantic): “Coppock mentioned to me the powerful example of St. Ambrose, the bishop of Milan, who was willing to rebuke the Roman Emperor Theodosius for the latter’s role in massacring civilians as punishment for the murder of one of his generals. Ambrose refused to allow the Church to become a political prop, despite concerns that doing so might endanger him. Ambrose spoke truth to power. (Theodosius ended up seeking penance, and Ambrose went on to teach, convert, and baptize St. Augustine.) Proximity to power is fine for Christians, Coppock told me, but only so long as it does not corrupt their moral sense, only so long as they don’t allow their faith to become politically weaponized. Yet that is precisely what’s happening today.”
    • Recommended by an alumnus. I wish that the American church was more visibly dismayed at some of Trump’s obvious sins. I remind people of all political inclinations that you can support someone’s overall agenda and still rebuke them for acts of wickedness. In fact, being willing to do so makes your support more meaningful. So vote for whoever you want, and hold the leaders you support to a high standard.
  5. Taiwan’s Status is a Geopolitical Absurdity (Chris Horton, The Atlantic): “’Taiwan’s government is democratically elected—we have a president, we have a parliament,’ Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said plaintively at a briefing for foreign media earlier this year. At the time, his government was trying to be included in the World Health Assembly. (It was ultimately blocked by China.) ‘We issue visas, we issue passports,’ he said, practically pleading. ‘We have a military and a currency … Taiwan exists by itself; Taiwan is not a part of any other country.’”
  6. Robespierre’s America (Bret Stephens, New York Times): “The data confirm what one hears and experiences anecdotally all the time: In the proverbial land of the free, people live in mortal fear of a moral faux pas. Opinions that were considered reasonable and normal a few years ago are increasingly delivered in whispers. Professors fear their students. Publishers drop books at the slightest whiff of social-media controversy.”
  7. Gay Rites Are Civil Rites (Scott Alexander, Slate Star Codex): “‘Civil religion’ is a surprising place for social justice to end up. Gay pride started at Stonewall as a giant ****-you to civil society. Homeless people, addicts, and sex workers told the police where they could shove their respectable values. But there was another major world religion that started with beggars, lepers, and prostitutes, wasn’t there? One that told the Pharisees where to shove their respectable values.”

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have a compelling series of articles on China by a history professor at Johns Hopkins (who also happens to be a Stanford grad): China’s Master Plan: A Global Military Threat, China’s Master Plan: Exporting an Ideology, China’s Master Plan: A Worldwide Web of Institutions and China’s Master Plan: How The West Can Fight Back (Hal Brand, Bloomberg). The money quote from the second article: “If the U.S. has long sought to make the world safe for democracy, China’s leaders crave a world that is safe for authoritarianism.” First shared in volume 156.

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 203

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

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The Heart of the Evangelical Crisis (Mark Galli, Christianity Today): “My next thought was, ‘Well, if I call myself a Christian, I should have greater love and desire to know God more deeply. Perhaps I should pray for that.’ And that’s when something occurred to me with great force: I wasn’t sure I wanted that. I recognize that was an odd admission for a person who claimed to be a good Christian. But there it was. I didn’t think I really wanted to love God more. The reasons for that are complex and will be touched on later, but the bottom line was: I really didn’t want to love God.” First essay in a series.
  2. Abortion in America, explained in 10 facts (Anna North, Vox): “Even though the abortion rate has declined, the procedure remains commonplace. According to a 2017 analysis by the Guttmacher Institute, 23.7 percent of women in the United States will have an abortion by the age of 45. Nineteen percent will have one by age 30, and 4.6 percent will have one by age 20.”
    • Debunking 9 Myths Surrounding Alabama’s Abortion Law (Carole Novielli, Live Action): “This bill, HB314, was sponsored by a female lawmaker, Representative Terri Collins, and was signed into law by female Governor Kay Ivey. Pro-life organizations are led by women. The Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, on the other hand, was imposed by all men.”
    • Alabama and Georgia Are Throwing Down the Gauntlet against Roe. Good. (David French, National Review): difficult to excerpt. A good summary of the legal strategy the southern states are pursuing.
    • I’m an anti-abortion Christian. But Alabama’s ban will do more harm than good. (Katherine Kelaidis, Vox): “Draconian bans on abortion — and frankly anything other than liberal access to abortions along with comprehensive sex education and access to contraception — fail to protect human life, both in the womb and outside of it. This, in itself, should be intolerable to any Christian, particularly one who views abortion as morally suspect.”
    • Why some anti-abortion conservatives think Alabama’s abortion law goes too far (Jane Coaston, Vox): “A 2018 Gallup poll found that just 29 percent of Americans believe abortion should be legal in all circumstances, but that outweighs the 18 percent of Americans who believe abortion should be illegal in all circumstances. The vast majority of Americans think abortion should be legal, with restrictions of some kind (abortions being permitted only within the first three months of pregnancy, for example).”
    • That latest Pat Robertson juridical quote: Journalists may want to note these interesting facts (Terry Mattingly, GetReligion): “Robertson is (a) making a comment about legal questions linked to this Alabama law and, (b) also about the political realities surrounding it. Thus, I am asking: Should journalists consider adding one or two sentences to their reports noting that Robertson is (a) a graduate of Yale Law School and (b) someone who grew up in Washington, D.C., as the son of a U.S. Senator? How many readers know these two facts about this famous religious leader?” Wait. What? I had no idea.
    • Most Abortion-Minded Women Aren’t Calculating Killers. They’re Afraid (Maria Baer, Gospel Coalition): the whole thing is worth reading — this bit caught my attention but isn’t really close to her main point: “Evil often begets more evil. While many who support so-called abortion rights believe they’re serving needy women, they’re overlooking one critical reality: Women are often brought—reluctantly—to the abortion doctor. These women are compelled toward abortion not by their own empowering, my-body-is-my-own sense of autonomy, but by another person seeking control. Angry boyfriends, angry husbands, angry mothers, angry employers—these are so often the wind at the back of an abortion-minded woman.”
  3. Too many men: China and India battle with the consequences of gender imbalance (Simon Denyer & Annie Gowen,South China Morning Post): this article is a year old, it’s long but good. “Nothing like this has happened in human history. A combination of cultural preferences, government decree and modern medical technology in the world’s two largest countries has created a gender imbalance on a continental scale. Men outnumber women by 70 million in China and India…. In any given age group, a proportion of men will fail to find brides, but they will stay in the marriage market, competing with younger men to marry younger women. The disproportion keeps growing. By 2050, French demographer Christophe Guilmoto estimates, there could be between 150 to 190 men for every 100 women in China’s marriage market.”
  4. A few brief observations about thinking clearly:
    • Accounting Identities and the Implicit Theory of Inertia (Nick Rowe, Worthwhile Canadian Initiative): “Animals can be divided into Carnivores and Non-Carnivores: A = C + NC. Therefore, if we add some wolves to an island of sheep, the number of animals on that island will increase. It’s easy to see why that argument might not be right. Wolves kill sheep. But if you didn’t know that fact about wolves and sheep, the argument looks very appealing. But the equation A = C + NC tells us absolutely nothing about the world; it’s an accounting identity that is true by definition. The only thing it tells you is how I have chosen to divide up the world into parts. And I can choose an infinite number of different ways to divide the world up into parts.” This is an important insight.
    • Why Do Experiments Make People Uneasy? (Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution): “One factor which comes out of respondent comments is that the experiment forces people to reckon with the idea that even experts don’t know what the right thing to do is and that confession of ignorance bothers people. (This is also one reason why people may prefer pundits who always ‘know’ the right thing to do even when they manifestly do not).”
    • Our first instinct is far too often wrong (Tim Harford, Financial Times): “In a multiple-choice test, you sometimes write down an answer and then have second thoughts. Is it wise to stay with your first instincts, or better to switch? Most people would advise that the initial answer is usually better than the doubt-plagued second guess…. Researchers have been studying this question since the 1920s. They have overwhelmingly concluded both that individual answer changes are more likely to be from wrong to right, and that students who change their answers tend to improve their scores.”
    • The Big Story You Don’t Read About (David Brooks, New York Times): “How did we in our business get in the spot where we spend 90 percent of our coverage on the 10 percent of our lives influenced by politics and 10 percent of our coverage on the 90 percent of our lives influenced by relationship, community and the places we live in every day?”
  5. When Male Runners Lose to Women (Leyland Cecco, The Walrus): “Studies are starting to show that male and female bodies respond differently to fatigue: during long periods of exercise, the brain monitors and triages the body’s output, regulating feelings of exhaustion to ensure the runner doesn’t overextend themselves. If the central nervous system senses the activity is becoming too intense, it reduces the muscle’s output…. ‘It turns out women have a slightly, it seems, better resistance to that kind of fatigue.’”
  6. The Incompatibility of Critical Theory and Christianity (Neil Shenvi & Pat Sawyer, Gospel Coalition): “Christianity provides us with an overarching metanarrative that runs from creation to redemption: We are creatures made in God’s image, who have sinned against him, who need to be rescued through the atoning work of Jesus, and who are called to love both God and neighbor. In contrast, critical theory is associated with a metanarrative that runs from oppression to liberation: We are members either of a dominant group or of a marginalized group with respect to a given identity marker. As such, we either need to divest ourselves of power and seek to liberate others, or we need to acquire power and liberate ourselves by dismantling all structures and institutions that subjugate and oppress. In critical theory, the greatest sin is oppression, and the greatest virtue is the pursuit of liberation.”
    • Related (at least in my mind): Christians Cannot Be Mistreated (George Yancey, Patheos): “I believe that some individuals are unable to see anti-Christian discrimination no matter what evidence is presented to them. For them the cultural narrative that Christians are the dominant group is simply too powerful for them to consider alternative information.” The author, whose work I have featured before, is a sociologist at the University of North Texas.
  7. The ‘3.5% Rule’: How A Small Minority Can Change The World (David Robson, BBC): “Looking at hundreds of campaigns over the last century, Chenoweth found that nonviolent campaigns are twice as likely to achieve their goals as violent campaigns. And although the exact dynamics will depend on many factors, she has shown it takes around 3.5% of the population actively participating in the protests to ensure serious political change.”

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 an eye-opening (and dismaying) article, What The Media Gets Wrong About Israel (Mattie Friedman, The Atlantic). (first shared back in volume 5): “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.”

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.