Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 9

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, I share 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 http://glenandpaula.com/wordpress/category/links

  1. From the party-with-puritans department: Our Puritan Heritage (Democracy, Jim Sleeper): the author, a political science lecturer at Yale, is not a Christian. I think parts of his argument are wrong, but I found the whole thing stimulating (the comments are worth reading as well). For something more practically helpful, see Puritan Resources For Biblical Counseling (Journal of Biblical Counseling, Tim Keller): good stuff about how to grow spiritually.
  2. From the sister-in-Christ-doing-good department: Grieving Gov. Nikki Haley Forever Changed By Church Massacre (Post and Courier, Jennifer Berry Hawes): Nikki Haley, the governor of South Carolina, is an adult convert to Christianity. There’s a 2012 interview about her faith at Christianity Today.
  3. From the still-working-to-show-the-world-that-we-are-one department: Dear Pastor, Can I Come To Your Church? (Christianity Today, Bradley Wright): an interesting study on implicit racial bias in welcoming newcomers to church. It may be behind a paywall — I was able to access the whole thing but someone else told me they only got a snippet. The author, a sociologist at U Conn, gives references on his website (the Christianity Today article is a popularization of a forthcoming academic article).
  4. From the it-sounds-clever-the-first-time-you-hear-it-department: Why Privatizing Marriage Would Be A Disaster (The Week, Shikha Dalmia): I’ve heard some Christians suggest that we erect a wall of separation between marriage and state. This article suggests that is a foolish idea. For a Christian take (the author of the previous article is agnostic) that comes to similar conclusion, read Douglas Wilson’s In Which First Things Does Some Fourth Things (Doug Wilson is a fascinating and polarizing figure: read The Controversialist from Christianity Today to learn more about him).
  5. From the making-a-difference-is-hard department: The Myth of the Ethical Shopper (Huffington Post, Michael Hobbes): I posted a similar piece a few weeks ago. You have less control as a consumer than you think because companies have less control than you think.
  6. From the in-our-backyard department: Spiritual Opportunity in Silicon Valley (Leadership Journal, Daniel Darling): an interview with the author of a forthcoming book about Christianity in Silicon Valley. The book looks interesting. The author blogs at http://findinggodinsiliconvalley.com/

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.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 1

[this was an email I sent to the students in Chi Alpha @ Stanford]

In the time of King David, the Bible says that the tribe of Issachar produced shrewd warriors “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chron 12:32). That’s a worthy goal — to understand our times and know how to live wisely in them. We need to learn how our faith interacts with the world.

To that end, I’m going to try something: for the next few weeks I’ll send out three to five articles/resources I have found helpful in thinking about national, global and theological issues (be sure to see the disclaimer at the bottom). My hope is these readings nudge you into continuing the tradition of Issachar. If these emails are well-received then they may become an ongoing thing.

So here’s the first batch:

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

  2. What ISIS Really Wants (Graeme Wood, The Atlantic): the key to understanding ISIS is understanding their faith, particularly their eschatology. A takeaway for Christians — your eschatology matters (so get it right).

  3. Evangelical Protestants Are The Biggest Winners Whenever People Change Faiths (Leah Libresco, FiveThirtyEight): this is the most interesting take I’ve seen on the Pew Forum study that filled the news recently. If current trends continue until they reach an equilibrium point, then evangelicalism will become the largest religious identity in America (followed by either the religiously unaffiliated or the Mormons depending on whether fertility is factored in).

  4. God’s Forever Family: The Jesus People Movement in America (Larry Eskridge, Oxford University Press): a scholarly history of an oft-overlooked Great Awakening — the Jesus People revival among the hippies. It is full of delightful anecdotes, including this charmer: one couple “began to talk to their friends about Jesus and even went so far as to name their dog ‘Repent’ so they could stand in the city’s parks and shout the canine’s name and their message at the top of their lungs.”  (p 148). The book is available online through Stanford’s library system — the link will take you right there.

Suggestions for a better title / articles to consider / best day to send the email on / etc. are welcome, as is feedback on the idea as a whole.

Disclaimer

Chi Alpha is not a partisan organization. To paraphrase another minister: we are not about the donkey’s agenda and are not about the elephant’s agenda — we are about the Lamb’s agenda. Having said that, I read stuff (and may therefore share stuff) from all over the ideological map. I read widely in part because I aspire to pass an ideological Turing test and more generally because I do not believe I can fairly say “I agree” or “I disagree” until I can say “I understand.” I encourage you to adopt a similar perspective.

Also, for the first few installments I’ll probably reach farther back than normal for some articles that stand out in my memory. As time goes on I imagine the links will become more and more recent.