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 232

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’ve missed sending this email due to holiday travels for a while, and I’ve got nothing on Iran yet. Too much is happening and I’m in a remote place with limited internet access. Anything you find great please send my way.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The Problem Isn’t the ‘Merit,’ It’s the ‘Ocracy’ (Tanner Greer, personal blog): “The American system of government was built on the assumption that the most salient political divides would reflect geography, not ideology or class. The senator from Massachusetts would share bonds in common with the lay citizenry of Boston that he did not share with a senator from South Carolina. On the national sphere this would allow him to represent the interests of his constituents as if they were his own. This has proven more true at some times in American history than others; yet because of the way American politicians are elected, this sense of representing the interests of a geographically bounded group of people is more true in the political arena than in most others.” Highly recommended.
  2. Decade in review: Marital norms erode (Ryan T. Anderson and Robert P. George, USA Today): “Law shapes culture; culture shapes beliefs; beliefs shape action. The law now effectively teaches that mothers and fathers are replaceable, that marriage is simply about consenting adult relationships, of whatever formation the parties happen to prefer. This undermines the truth that children deserve a mother and a father — one of each.”
    • Follow‐up by Rod Dreher: Family, Memory, Power (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “If you’re one of those people with a habit of saying, nobody has ever explained how all this is going to hurt heterosexual me, this is a good basic place to start. Morality is an ecology. This is the equivalent of injecting something into the groundwater. It may be a good thing, or it may be a bad thing, but it does affect everybody. People who say it doesn’t are lying — perhaps to themselves.”
    • That follow‐up inspired Professor George to reply: The Shame Of The Conformists (this is on Dreher’s blog): “Someone might say, ‘this is no time for recriminations.’ Well, I don’t agree. This is precisely the time for recriminations. Indeed, there was never a better time. Standing boldly for what is true and good and right and just is everybody’s job. It’s not just ‘other people’s’ job. Especially to my fellow Christians I say, it is OUR job. It comes with the Gospel territory. You say ‘it’s hard’? Of course, it’s hard. But who ever told you that Christian discipleship was not going to be hard? Or risky? Or costly? Not Jesus, that’s for sure. He told us–in the most explicit terms–that it was going to be hard–very hard–and risky, and costly. “
  3. Yes, Jesus Was a Refugee. He Still Is. (Tyler Huckabee, Relevant): “When most people talk about Jesus being a refugee, they’re not talking about Bethlehem but the family’s flight to Egypt. Some time after his birth, Herod got panicky about rumors of a new king and sent soldiers to kill all the newborns in Bethlehem. An angel warned Joseph and Mary to hightail it to Egypt where they could safely lay low. Egypt made for an ideal hiding place, connected to Judea via a well‐traveled and relatively safe trade route known as the Via Maris. The argument for Mary and Joseph’s refugee status here is about as strong as it could be under the circumstances.”
  4. Biblical Archaeology’s Top 10 Discoveries of 2019 (Gordon Govier, Christianity Today): “…many of the mainstream media stories announcing these discoveries acknowledged that the Bible was right all along or right after all in these instances. Archaeologist Nelson Glueck’s declaration that ‘no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference’ still stands.”
  5. Some follow‐ups to the Christianity Today article I shared last time calling for Trump’s removal from office:
    • The Flag in the Whirlwind: An Update from CT’s President (Tim Dalrymple, Christianity Today): “In a political landscape dominated by polarization, hostility, and misunderstanding, we believe it’s critical for Christians to model how to have a firm opinion and host free discussion at the same time. Evangelicals of different stripes cannot continue to shout one another down, bully those who disagree, or exclude one another and refuse to listen. We hold fast to our view that the wholehearted evangelical embrace of Trump has been enormously costly—but we are committed to irenic conversation with men and women of good faith who believe otherwise.”
      • Side note: the author was a gymnast at Stanford who was actively involved in campus ministry while here (his time preceded my tenure at Chi Alpha, to my knowledge we have never met or even been in the same ZIP code). There’s an article about his story back in volume 191
    • What It Would Take for Evangelicals to Turn on President Trump (Michael Luo, New Yorker): “…though greater religiosity is correlated with Christian‐nationalist beliefs, once those beliefs are accounted for, Americans who engaged in more frequent religious practice—church attendance, prayer, and bible reading—were less likely than their less observant peers to subscribe to political views normally associated with Christian nationalism, such as believing that refugees from the Middle East pose a terrorist threat to the United States, or that illegal immigrants from Mexico are mostly dangerous criminals. In other words, Whitehead and Perry find that the threat to democratic pluralism is not evangelicalism itself but the culture around evangelicalism.”
    • Evangelicalism’s Silent Majority (Emma Green, The Atlantic): “One of my big takeaways from reporting on evangelical communities is that, contrary to some stereotypes, evangelicals are some of the most globally minded people in America. They donate to charities that do extensive aid work overseas. They’re exposed to other countries through mission work or humanitarian trips.”
    • Trump Should Not Be Removed from Office: A Response to Mark Galli and Christianity Today (Wayne Grudem, Townhall): “If evangelicals fail to support Donald Trump after he has delivered on so many issues important to Christian values, many people will conclude that we really do not care about conservative judges, the protection of the unborn, the protection of gender distinctions, religious freedom, conscience protections for Christians in the workplace, a strong enough military to protect us against threats from China, North Korea, Russia, and Iran, jobs,wages, economic opportunities for minorities, a secure border, Israel, affordable energy (especially for the poor), energy independence, the protection of property rights, expanding parental choice for schools, revitalizing NATO, protecting freedom of speech on campuses, and many other things. Galli dismisses these concerns with the label ‘political expediency,’ but all of these issues affect people’s ordinary lives. These issues really do matter. On issue after issue, President Trump is changing the direction of the country for the better. When I weigh these results against his sometimes imprecise and coarse speech, there is no comparison.”
    • Where Cain Got His Wife, and Other Issues Related to the 2020 Election (Douglas Wilson, personal blog): “As mentioned above, I did not vote for the president in 2016. I did not vote for him because character matters, and because I did not trust him to do what he was promising to do…. And with that said, I have to acknowledge I was wrong… If anything, the great mass of evangelical voters have demonstrated that they actually have a better set of political instincts than their leaders, me included.”
  6. My Semester With the Snowflakes (James Hatch, Medium): “In May of 2019, I was accepted to the Eli Whitney student program at Yale University. At 52, I am the oldest freshman in the class of 2023. Before I was accepted, I didn’t really know what to expect. I had seen the infamous YouTube video of students screaming at a faculty member. I had seen the news stories regarding the admissions scandal and that Yale was included in that unfortunate business. I had also heard the students at Yale referred to as ‘snowflakes’ in various social media dumpsters and occasionally I’d seen references to Ivy League students as snowflakes in a few news sources.” (there’s an interesting follow‐up interview with him on NPR)
  7. Two academic things I found interesting:
    • Comparing meta‐analyses and preregistered multiple‐laboratory replication projects (Amanda Kvarven, Eirik Strømland & Magnus Johannesson, Nature Human Behavior): “We compare the results of meta‐analyses to large‐scale preregistered replications in psychology carried out at multiple laboratories. The multiple‐laboratory replications provide precisely estimated effect sizes that do not suffer from publication bias or selective reporting. We searched the literature and identified 15 meta‐analyses on the same topics as multiple‐laboratory replications. We find that meta‐analytic effect sizes are significantly different from replication effect sizes for 12 out of the 15 meta‐replication pairs. These differences are systematic and, on average, meta‐analytic effect sizes are almost three times as large as replication effect sizes.” uh‐oh. 
    • The Many Faces of Scientific Fraud (Nicolas Chevassus‐au‐Louis, Quillette): “Is every scientific article a fraud? This question may seem puzzling to those outside the scientific community. After all, anyone who took a philosophy course in college is likely to think of laboratory work as eminently rational. The assumption is that a researcher faced with an enigma posed by nature formulates a hypothesis, then conceives an experiment to test its validity…. However, as every researcher knows, it is pure falsehood. In reality, nothing takes place the way it is described in a scientific article. The experiments were carried out in a far more disordered manner, in stages far less logical than those related in the article. If you look at it that way, a scientific article is a kind of trick.” The author has a Ph.D. in biology and this is an excerpt from a book he is publishing with Harvard University Press.

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

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

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

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

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 231

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

A Christmas reminder: Chi Alpha is a donor‐funded ministry. This weekly roundup of links is one small part of what we do to equip students to live for Christ in a confused culture. If you’d like to make a special year‐end gift to help us reach future leaders, visit https://glenandpaula.com/giving. Every penny counts — thanks!

On to the things Glen found interesting:

  1. Trump Should Be Removed from Office (Mark Galli, Christianity Today): “Whether Mr. Trump should be removed from office by the Senate or by popular vote next election—that is a matter of prudential judgment. That he should be removed, we believe, is not a matter of partisan loyalties but loyalty to the Creator of the Ten Commandments.”
    • Emma Green nabbed an interview with Galli about the editorial: How Trump Lost an Evangelical Stalwart (Emma Green, The Atlantic): “So I am a great believer in the providence of God, and that he will, in his grace, mercy, and mysterious judgment, help us through this period. It’s not my responsibility to heal the breach among evangelicals. It’s not my responsibility to bring peace to the world. My responsibility, given the position I have, whatever it might be, is to speak the truth. If it makes a difference, I am thankful to God. And if it doesn’t make a difference, that’s kind of up to him.”
    • When the CT Editor’s Feelings Trump Facts (Jim Garlow, Charisma News): “Numerous high‐visibility evangelicals have had opportunity to be with the president, to counsel him and to pray with him. Some have spoken truth to leadership. Wisely, they do not discuss the content of those meetings publicly. Nor should they. They are considerably more aware of the ‘heart’ of the president than is Mr. Galli. If he knew what they know about Mr. Trump, Galli would not have written such an article.”
    • I suspect Charisma’s op‐ed is closer to the perspective of most evangelical Trump supporters than Christianity Today’s is. For context, Christianity Today posted similar op‐eds during each of the two previous impeachments.
    • Speaking of the previous impeachments, did you realize that from Nixon until now ⅓ of U.S. presidents have been impeached? Props to Ross Douthat for noticing that
  2. A Science‐Based Case for Ending the Porn Epidemic (Pascal‐Emmanuel Gobry, American Greatness): “Since it seems somehow relevant, let me state at the outset that I am French. Every fiber of my Latin, Catholic body recoils at puritanism of any sort, especially the bizarre, Anglo‐Puritan kind so prevalent in America. I believe eroticism is one of God’s greatest gifts to humankind, prudishness a bizarre aberration, and not so long ago, hyperbolic warnings about the perils of pornography, whether from my Evangelical Christian or progressive feminist friends, had me rolling my eyes…. The evidence is in: porn is as addictive as smoking, or more, except that what smoking does to your lungs, porn does to your brain.”
    • Related: Let’s Fix the Pornography Problem (Jim Banks, First Things): “The prevalence of pornography in our society has consequences, especially for our children. It’s time to start talking about it, and it’s time for the government to get involved.” The author is a Republican member of congress.
  3. The New Testament Doesn’t Say What Most People Think It Does About Heaven (N.T. Wright, Time): “The book of Revelation ends, not with souls going up to heaven, but with the New Jerusalem coming down to earth, so that ‘the dwelling of God is with humans.’ The whole creation, declares St. Paul, will be set free from its slavery to corruption, to enjoy God’s intended freedom.”
  4. Losing Faith in the Humanities (Simon During, Chronicle of Higher Education): “Faith has been lost across two different zones: first, religion; then, high culture…. Cultural secularization resembles earlier religious secularization. What happened to Christian revelation and the Bible is now happening to the idea of Western civilization and ‘the best that has been thought and said,’ in Arnold’s famous phrase.”
  5. This Cultural Moment (podcast): I’ve been listening to this podcast about following Jesus in the post‐Christian world upon the recommendation of some alumni and a student. It’s quite good. Definitely start with episode 1.
  6. What Would Jesus Do About Inequality? (Molly Worthen, New York Times): “In today’s evangelicalism, this is where the theological action is: the faith and work movement, the intersection of Christianity with the demands of the workplace and the broader economy — in a society that is one of the world’s wealthiest, yet persistently inhumane.”
  7. The Digital Pulpit: A Nationwide Analysis of Online Sermons (Pew Research): “For instance, sermons from evangelical churches were three times more likely than those from other traditions to include the phrase ‘eternal hell’ (or variations such as ‘eternity in hell’). However, a congregant who attended every service at a given evangelical church in the dataset had a roughly one‐in‐ten chance of hearing one of those terms at least once during the study period. By comparison, that same congregant had a 99% chance of hearing the word ‘love.’”
    • Related with some good interviews: How long is the sermon? Study ranks Christian churches (David Crary, AP News): “According to Pew, the median length of the sermons was 37 minutes. Catholic sermons were the shortest, at a median of just 14 minutes, compared with 25 minutes for sermons in mainline Protestant congregations and 39 minutes in evangelical Protestant congregations. Historically black Protestant churches had by far the longest sermons, at a median of 54 minutes. Pew said sermons at the black churches lasted longer than mainline Protestant sermons even though, on average, they had roughly the same number of words.”

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 Inside Graduate Admissions (Inside Higher Ed, Scott Jaschick): if you plan to apply to grad school, read this. There is one revealing anecdote about how an admissions committee treated an application from a Christian college student. My takeaway: the professors tried to be fair but found it hard to do, and their stated concerns were mostly about the quality of the institution rather than the faith of the applicant. Troubling nonetheless. (first shared in volume 32).

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 229

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. Should Lebanon’s Christians Join Protests? Viral Sermons Argue Yes and No. (Jayson Casper, Christianity Today): “”For the past month, Lebanese evangelicals have debated Scripture, sharing sermons online. One viral effort urges believers to stay away from widespread demonstrations in submission to authority. Another licenses participation in the popular push for justice.”
    • I like this article because it helps us look at a contentious Biblical issue in a setting where most of us don’t have a strong bias one way or the other. Decide whose arguments you find most compelling, and then think about how they apply in your own setting.
  2. Most people are bad at arguing. These 2 techniques will make you better. (Brian Resnick, Vox): “1) If the argument you find convincing doesn’t resonate with someone else, find out what does…. 2) Listen. Your ideological opponents want to feel like they’ve been heard.”
  3. Seeing Like A Finite State Machine (Henry Farrell, Crooked Timber): “In short, there is a very plausible set of mechanisms under which machine learning and related techniques may turn out to be a disaster for authoritarianism, reinforcing its weaknesses rather than its strengths, by increasing its tendency to bad decision making, and reducing further the possibility of negative feedback that could help correct against errors.” The author is a political science professor at George Washington University.
  4. LGBT Rights‐Religious Liberty Bill Proposed in Congress (Daniel Silliman, Christianity Today): “Congressman Chris Stewart doesn’t expect his bill to pass. But he is proposing the Fairness for All Act anyway. It’s a step of faith for Stewart, a Republican who represents Utah’s second district, and a marker on the bet that it’s possible to find a compromise that protects both religious liberty and LGBT rights.”
  5. How the Trump Cabinet’s Bible Teacher Became a Shadow Diplomat (Mattathias Schwartz, New York Times): “Seven years ago, Drollinger published a short book called ‘Rebuilding America: The Biblical Blueprint,’ which lays out his ambition to ‘to reach all the capitals of the world for Christ.’ Drollinger, like many evangelicals, refers to this God‐given global remit as the Great Commission, a phrase popularized by the 19th‐century missionary James Hudson Taylor; Drollinger traces its mandate to Jesus’ charge, as related by Matthew, to ‘make disciples of all the nations.’ A chart in ‘Rebuilding America’ diagrams the ‘influence path’ of a public servant as a baseball diamond, running through local government (first base), state government (second base) and national government (third base) and culminating in ‘international influence’ (home plate).” I shared another article about Drollinger back in volume 147.
  6. China’s Sovereignty Tripwire in Hong Kong (David P. Goldman, First Things): “China is a polyglot, multiethnic empire, not a nation‐state. Infringement of its control over any part of its territory threatens the whole. Foreign intervention and regional divisions is the stuff of China’s historical nightmares. Any loss of sovereignty, in China’s experience, begins a slippery slope toward imperial crackup. Foreign invasion is still a living memory in China, and Beijing reads the worst into American intervention over Hong Kong.”
  7. The Salvation Army’s Actions Speak Louder Than Its Theology (Stephen L. Carter, Bloomberg): “Volunteers are significantly more likely than non‐volunteers to be religious; and the religious are significantly more likely than the non‐religious to volunteer. As religion declines, so does volunteering. If we put the religious volunteers out of business, a lot of people will suddenly be unhelped. We need all the volunteers we can get. And we cannot reasonably expect to replace them with paid labor. According to the Urban Institute, the 8.7 billion hours volunteered in the U.S. in 2016 were worth about $187.4 billion.” The author is a law professor at Yale.

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 Christian Missions and the Spread of Democracy (Greg Scandlen, The Federalist): This is a summary of some rather wonderful research Robert Woodberry published in The American Political Science Review back in 2012: The Missionary Roots of Liberal Democracy. If it looks familiar it’s because I allude to it from time to time in my sermons and conversations. (first shared in volume 14)

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

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

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 228

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. A Tale of Two Churches (Batya Ungar‐Sargon, NY Review of Books): “To many religious people, there’s no such thing as coincidence: Pastor Jay and Pastor Derrick felt acutely the prophetic nature of their union taking place just the day before the shooting. It felt as though, in the midst of the chaos and the confusion, God was using them to write a better story. The Lord had guided them to their merger at exactly the right time to redirect the anger and pain in the community to a higher, holy purpose.”
    • This my must‐read link of the week. SO GOOD. I almost cried.
    • Kind of related but only marginally: Praying for Hong Kong Can Be Politically Disruptive—Even in America  (D Cheng, Christianity Today): “Different origins among ethnic Chinese immigrants can foster different political views, with more Christians from China supporting the policies of the Chinese government, and those from elsewhere often more critical of the Chinese Communist Party.”
  2. ‘Absolutely No Mercy’: Leaked Files Expose How China Organized Mass Detentions of Muslims (Austin Ramzy and Chris Buckley, NY Times): “…one of the most significant leaks of government papers from inside China’s ruling Communist Party in decades. They provide an unprecedented inside view of the continuing clampdown in Xinjiang, in which the authorities have corralled as many as a million ethnic Uighurs, Kazakhs and others into internment camps and prisons over the past three years.” Recommended by a student.
  3. More Pregnancy, Less Crime (Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution): “More generally, however, there are policy implication if we think beyond the immediate results. First, these results show that crime isn’t simply a product of family background, poverty and neglect. Crime is a choice.”
    • The original study: Family Formation and Crime (Maxim Massenkoff and Evan K. Rose, job market paper, pdf link): “Our event‐study analysis indicates that pregnancy triggers sharp declines in crime rivaling any known intervention.”
    • Somewhat related: The Dating Market (Tyro Partners, pdf link): “With the advent of online dating, women in prime reproductive age are in the dominant position in the dating market for the first time in human history.This comes with huge social ramifications.” The authors are hedge fund guys. Interesting throughout and at times quite amusing. I especially commend to you the chart at the bottom of the page 5 contrasted with the chart at the top of page 6.
  4. Thread on the protests in Iran (Shay Khatiri, Twitter): “During its first 24 hours, it’s already been the most violent protests in decades, if not ever. 1979 revolution did not reach this level of violence.”
    • Amnesty Says At Least 106 Killed In Iran Protests (John Gambrell, Associated Press): “Days of protests in Iran over rising fuel prices and a subsequent government crackdown have killed at least 106 people across the Islamic Republic, Amnesty International said Tuesday, citing ‘credible reports.’”
  5. Why Some People Are Impossibly Talented (David Robson, BBC): “…influential scientists are much more likely to have diverse interests outside their primary area of research than the average scientist, for instance. Studies have found that Nobel Prize‐winning scientists are about 25 times more likely to sing, dance or act than the average scientist. They are also 17 times more likely to create visual art, 12 times more likely to write poetry and four times more likely to be a musician.”
  6. 2019 Religious Freedom Index (Becket Law): “If America is becoming less religious, as some polls indicate, does that necessarily mean it is also becoming less supportive of religious liberty protections? Are we, in fact, divided on questions of religious freedom?… With a current score of 67, the 2019 Index indicates strong support for religious freedom protections. ”
  7. Why Did the Wall Fall, 30 Years Ago? (George Weigel, First Things): “Getting this history straight is important, not just as a matter of intellectual hygiene but for the future. Public officials who do not grasp the centrality of religious freedom to the collapse of European communism and the emergence of new democracies in central and eastern Europe are unlikely to appreciate the centrality of religious freedom to free and virtuous 21st‐century societies and to 21st‐century democracy.”

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 Alcohol, Blackouts, and Campus Sexual Assault (Texas Monthly, Sarah Hepola): I think this is the most thoughtful secular piece I’ve read on the issue. “Consent and alcohol make tricky bedfellows. The reason I liked getting drunk was because it altered my consent: it changed what I would say yes to. Not just in the bedroom but in every room and corridor that led into the squinting light. Say yes to adventure, say yes to risk, say yes to karaoke and pool parties and arguments with men, say yes to a life without fear, even though such a life is never possible… We drink because it feels good. We drink because it makes us feel happy, safe, powerful. That it often makes us the opposite is one of alcohol’s dastardly tricks.” (first shared in volume 25)

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 223

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. Ethiopia’s Evangelical Prime Minister Wins Nobel Peace Prize (Kate Shellnutt, Christianity Today): “The son of a Muslim father and Orthodox mother, Ahmed is a Protestant Pentecostal, or ‘Pentay,’ like many Ethiopian politicians. His faith is seen as a driving factor in his push for peace.”
  2. Algeria Forces Christians Out of the Country’s Largest Churches (Kate Shellnutt, Christianity Today): “At least 15 Protestant churches—out of only about 46 in the country—have been shuttered since January 2018, according to the Christian advocacy group Middle East Concern. The country, home to just 125,000 Christians, fewer than 1 percent of the population, ranks 22nd on Open Doors’ World Watch List. Christian congregations struggle to register with the government agency tasked with regulating non‐Muslim worship, per a 2006 law. It never convenes and has not issued a single approval.”
  3. The Perilous Power of the Preacher’s Wife (Kate Bowler, New York TImes): “Ordained progressive women secure a measure of institutional sway, but they lack the cultural capital of their conservative counterparts. My research shows that conservative women gain considerable influence without institutional power, and liberal women gain institutional power without considerable influence.” The author is a professor at Duke Divinity School and I have spotlighted articles by her three times previously, in volume 37, volume 116, and volume 143.
  4. The deluded cult of social justice (John Gray, UnHerd): “Seldom have the demands of justice been so manifestly faddish. Increasingly, justice is seen as not an attribute of legal systems but of entire societies. At the same time it is believed to be owed to groups more than individuals. In these circumstances, everything depends on whether the group to which people are deemed to be belong is in vogue.” The author is a retired professor of political philosophy (London School of Economics) and a well‐known atheist. 
  5. How to Convince an Atheist that God Exists (John Ellis, personal blog): “I didn’t become an atheist because that’s what I wanted; I became an atheist because I believed it was the truth. So, standing on that sidewalk while trying not to think about my mom praying for me, I cursed a God I didn’t even believe existed.”
  6. Some thoughts about China’s government:
    • What are the Options Part III: The Bigger Picture (Christopher Balding, personal blog): “The United States must be prepared to layout a vision for the value it wants to promote, to make the biggest sacrifices to realize those values, share the benefits with aligned countries, and deny benefits to adversary or nonaligned countries.” Recommended by a student. I linked to another of Balding’s posts about China back in volume 162
    • Here’s a growing list of companies bowing to China censorship pressure (Natasha Pinon, Mashable): “Major global companies have been bowing to both direct and indirect pressure from China’s political leaders to control how the economic powerhouse of a country is portrayed for some time.”
    • China’s Vision of Victory? (Tanner Greer, personal blog): “So‐called influence operations are aimed at the enemies China’s leaders fear most: the ones who pose an ideological, not a geopolitical, threat to the Communist Party. These are the hostile forces that threaten the stability of the Communist regime, and many of them—from Christians and Uighurs fleeing religious persecution to Taiwanese, Hong Kongers, and others of Chinese descent who dare imagine different futures for their people—live in America. As long as these groups can safely assemble and freely speak within the United States, America will be seen as a threat to the Chinese party‐state. Similar fears have already led Beijing to demand ideological fealty from its foreign debtors. China’s leaders do not ask clients to change their system of government but to squelch criticism of Chinese communism inside their borders.” Greer has appeared once before in volume 217.
    • China’s Looming Class Struggle (Joel Kotkin, Quillette): “Initially, China’s progress lifted up all classes, raising as many as 850 million people out of extreme poverty in 40 years, one of the greatest economic accomplishments in history. Yet the boom has been less successful in creating a Western‐style mass middle class which analyst Nan Chen estimates at roughly 12 percent of the population. ‘Rather than replicating the middle‐class growth of post‐World War II America,’ she observes, ‘China appears to have skipped that stage altogether and headed straight for a model of extraordinary productivity but disproportionately distributed wealth.’” Kotkin is a professor of urban studies at Chapman University.
  7. Attorney General William P. Barr Delivers Remarks to the Law School and the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture at the University of Notre Dame (William Barr, Department of Justice): “From the Founding Era onward, there was strong consensus about the centrality of religious liberty in the United States. The imperative of protecting religious freedom was not just a nod in the direction of piety. It reflects the Framers’ belief that religion was indispensable to sustaining our free system of government.” (you can watch a video of the speech instead)
    • What Barr Got Right — And What He Might Add (Howard Husock, National Review): “Barr stands accused of endorsing some sort of Christian theocracy. Barr, of course, hardly endorsed the idea the church–state divide should be erased in the United States. Nor did he insist that only the religious could live a healthy and productive life. Rather, he singled out for criticism those who believe that, in effect, government social programs could replace the virtues instilled by religion. It’s an important distinction.”
    • William Barr Is Neck‐Deep in Extremist Catholic Institutions (Joan Walsh, The Nation): “In a histrionic speech at Notre Dame Law School on Friday, he blamed ‘secularists’ and ‘so‐called progressives’ for destroying society and precipitating the crises of family dissolution, crime, and drugs, while talking of a war between religious and nonreligious Americans.”
    • Bill Barr: Religious Liberty Warrior (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “It’s a standard defense of religion’s role in American life. It would have been unremarkable for any US Attorney General, Republican or Democrat, prior to 2008 to have given. But now, many on the Left have become so hateful of religion that Barr’s speech strikes the ears of people like Nobel Prize‐winning economist Paul Krugman as the handiwork of a Cossack propagandist…” I probably include more articles from Dreher than anyone else because he is so amazingly prolific and often writes about topics I am interested in.

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 221

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, so if you read something fascinating please pass it my way.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The Black Church After Christendom (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “I don’t know about you, but I cannot recall the last time I witnessed more powerful public expressions of what it means to be a Christian than what Brandt Jean and Judge Tammy Kemp did in that courtroom. Guyger — again, a white woman — is going to prison to do time for her crime — but both Mr. Jean and Judge Kemp wanted her to know that there is hope for her, and redemption.”
    • There are lots of news sources that feature the video clip of Brandt Jean. I chose Dreher’s piece because he also focuses on the judge. Both of their actions inspire me.
    • I first saw video clips of Brandt Jean’s moving words surging on social media, and I almost immediately afterwards saw a backlash which I found perplexing. Some commenters even suggested that there is something racist about liking this video. I think the truth is much more wholesome — Christians love seeing costly acts of obedience to Christ. Witness the similar reactions Christians had to the gospel‐fueled testimony of Rachael Denhollander against Larry Nassar and to the Amish community’s forgiveness of a school shooter years ago. There were different racial dynamics but similar responses from Christians.
  2. The Internet Is Overrun With Images of Child Sexual Abuse. What Went Wrong? (Michael Keller and Gabriel Dance, The New York Times): “Pictures of child sexual abuse have long been produced and shared to satisfy twisted adult obsessions. But it has never been like this: Technology companies reported a record 45 million online photos and videos of the abuse last year…. the problem of child sexual abuse imagery faces a particular hurdle: It gets scant attention because few people want to confront the enormity and horror of the content, or they wrongly dismiss it as primarily teenagers sending inappropriate selfies.” WARNING — this is very disturbing. The reporters non‐gratuitously describe some of the content. If you suspect that the scene preceding “The predominant sound is the child screaming and crying” will bother you, it will.
    • I know some of our alumni who work in tech and in policy still receive my Friday emails. If that is you, you need to read the preceding article.
    • Related: Porn Culture and Political Courage (Terry Schelling, First Things): “The uncomfortable truth is that the rapid growth in child pornography is connected to the cultural normalization of online pornography as a whole.”
  3. I Spent Years Searching for Magic—I Found God Instead (Tara Isabella Burton, Catapult): “I wanted magic. I didn’t think too much about meaning. Or at least, as long as everything meant something, the specifics didn’t seem to matter. Basil could mean love. Thursdays could mean power. The full moon purity. Why not? The alternative was that nothing meant anything at all.” This is wonderfully written. Highly recommended.
  4. How Do Christians Fit Into the Two‐Party System? They Don’t (Tim Keller, New York Times): “I know of a man from Mississippi who was a conservative Republican and a traditional Presbyterian. He visited the Scottish Highlands and found the churches there as strict and as orthodox as he had hoped. No one so much as turned on a television on a Sunday. Everyone memorized catechisms and Scripture. But one day he discovered that the Scottish Christian friends he admired were (in his view) socialists. Their understanding of government economic policy and the state’s responsibilities was by his lights very left‐wing, yet also grounded in their Christian convictions. He returned to the United States not more politically liberal but, in his words, ‘humbled and chastened.’ He realized that thoughtful Christians, all trying to obey God’s call, could reasonably appear at different places on the political spectrum, with loyalties to different political strategies.”
    • Related: A Basic Primer on Rights and Obligations (Justin Taylor, The Gospel Coalition): “…the Bible doesn’t say much about rights. It does, however, frequently address obligations, so the key to formulating a biblical doctrine of rights is to flip the doctrine of obligation.”
  5. How Stanford Hides Conflicts of Interest (Daniel “Bob” Ferreira, Stanford Sphere): “We started by going through all 127 full‐time, non‐courtesy professors in Biology, Chemistry, Bioengineering, and Chemical Engineering, and we checked what Bloomberg, Crunchbase, and the SEC had on them. Then, we went on to verify whether this information was current—through company websites, mentions on their own public CVs, or media coverage. Finally, we removed faculty whose links to businesses had nothing to do with biotech.”
  6. Hong Kong: First Line of Defence against a Rising Fascist Power (Aaron Sarin, Quillette): “China’s government has only retained the name ‘Communist Party’ because to do otherwise would be a first step towards admitting the atrocities of the past. The severing of the link between Xi and Mao would make it possible to acknowledge that Mao was one of history’s worst villains. This would set a precedent for criticising authority that would inevitably lead to Xi’s own downfall. So the name stays, but in truth there is nothing ‘communist’ about this Communist Party (save its authoritarianism). In fact, Marxist students, activists, and social workers have been arrested and tortured since Xi took power, and universities have shut down Marxist societies.”
    • The Prophetic Voice of Hong Kong’s Protesters (Christianity Today): “Many Hong Kong Christians, while comprising less than 12 percent of the population, have played a prominent role in the protests—marching, singing hymns, holding prayer circles, and providing food and shelter to other demonstrators. (The Jesus People song ‘Sing Hallelujah to the Lord’ became an unexpected anthem of the protests, as participants sang the tune to calm confrontations with police.) For Christians there, the Chinese Communist Party may be the greatest existential threat to the Hong Kong church.”
  7. The Importance of Stupidity in Scientific Research (Martin A. Schwartz, Journal of Cell Science): “At some point, the conversation turned to why she had left graduate school. To my utter astonishment, she said it was because it made her feel stupid. After a couple of years of feeling stupid every day, she was ready to do something else. I had thought of her as one of the brightest people I knew and her subsequent career supports that view. What she said bothered me. I kept thinking about it; sometime the next day, it hit me. Science makes me feel stupid too. It’s just that I’ve gotten used to it. So used to it, in fact, that I actively seek out new opportunities to feel stupid.” The author is a professor at Yale. This essay is about a decade old but I only recently stumbled upon it.

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 America in one tweet:“We are living in an era of woke capitalism in which companies pretend to care about social justice to sell products to people who pretend to hate capitalism.” (Clay Routledge, Twitter) First shared in volume 186.

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 220

On Fridays I share articles/resources 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. Be sure to see the explanation and disclaimers at the bottom. I welcome your suggestions, so if you read something fascinating please pass it my way.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Does a Religious Upbringing Promote Generosity or Not? (Tyler J. VanderWeele, Psychology Today): “In 2015, a paper by Jean Decety and co‐authors reported that children who were brought up religiously were less generous. The paper received a great deal of attention, and was covered by over 80 media outlets including The Economist, the Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times, and Scientific American. As it turned out, however, the paper by Decety was wrong.” Recommended by an alumnus who noted, “it seemed up your alley.” A story which touches on religion, features a statistical screwup, and highlights media bias? Indeed it is! The author is an epidemiologist at Harvard whose writing I have highlighted before
  2. Is American Christianity on Its Last Legs? The Data Say Otherwise. (Bradley Wright, Christianity Today): “…evangelical Christianity is doing rather well for itself. Where it is not increasing, it is holding steady. As Stanton writes, ‘Churches that are faithfully preaching, teaching, and practicing Biblical truths and conservative theology are holding stable overall. In some areas, they are seeing growth.’ In contrast, the fortunes of mainline Protestantism in America are falling fast. Its long decline has been documented before, and Stanton updates our understanding of it. As he puts it, ‘people are leaving those churches like the buildings are on fire.’” The author is a sociologist at U Conn whose writing I have highlighted before.
  3. Looking back at the Snowden revelations (Matthew Green, personal blog): “One of the most important lessons we learned from the Snowden leaks was that the NSA very much prioritizes its surveillance mission, to the point where it is willing to actively insert vulnerabilities into encryption products and standards used on U.S. networks…. This kind of sabotage is, needless to say, something that not even the most paranoid security researchers would have predicted from our own intelligence agencies. Agencies that, ostensibly have a mission to protect U.S. networks.” The author is a professor at Johns Hopkins.
  4. Harvard’s Legacies Are Nothing to Be Proud Of (Tyler Cowen, Bloomberg Opinion): “If you are wondering why Americans do not trust the current establishment, or why Americans are not so convinced that the Democratic Party actually will reverse income inequality, look no further than the Harvard admissions case.”
  5. Inside Stanford’s Last Fallout Shelter: a time capsule to Cold War politics and protests (Patrick Monreal, Stanford Daily): “At the height of the Cold War, Stanford and the Office of Civil Defense, a federal agency established by Franklin D. Roosevelt, designated as many as 56 fallout shelters on campus. The University managed these shelters, which collectively had a maximum occupancy of 49,269 people, as a part of emergency plans in the event of a nuclear strike or natural disaster.”
  6. Some diverse perspectives on maximizing your time at Stanford.
    • Classes for the College Contrarian: The Comprehensive Guide to Getting More out of Stanford (Annika Nordquist, Stanford Review): “Although Stanford’s dominance in STEM fields is universally acknowledged, it can be harder to find stellar humanities and social sciences classes, which don’t have the same structured curriculums and are more likely to suffer from severe grade inflation. This is not even to mention the difficulty of finding classes which represent opposing viewpoints and teach critical thought rather than academic orthodoxy.” Annika is involved in Chi Alpha. 
    • Eleven Must‐Take Classes This Fall (Stanford Sphere editorial board): “In our oldest recurring feature, we present below an alphabetized list of the most interesting classes of the fall.”
    • I propose a new rule at Stanford — all students shall be automatically enrolled in any courses which are recommended by both the Sphere and the Review 
    • How to Major in Unicorn (Max Read & Andrew Granato, New York Magazine): “Google was founded by two Stanford graduate students, Instagram by two Stanford alumni, Snapchat by a Stanford dropout. WhatsApp, Netflix, LinkedIn, Yahoo, and Hewlett‐Packard were all founded by onetime Stanford students; the earliest investors in Facebook and Amazon were Stanford graduates. Even Elizabeth Holmes, symbol of Silicon Valley self‐delusion and fraud, was a student at Stanford when she dropped out to found Theranos. About the only two famous tech founders with no immediately apparent Stanford connection are Steve Jobs and Bill Gates — though is it a coincidence that each had a daughter attend the school?”
    • If Not Snapchat, What? A Guide to Stanford’s Non‐Tech Fiefdoms (Andrew Granato, New York Magazine): “An anecdote about the university that is positioning itself to take charge of the 21st century: Jackson Beard ’17, the former student body president, told me a story about how a cabinet member of hers tried to schedule a meeting with the head of the student health center to discuss school policy on involuntary psychiatric holds of students. After many delays, a meeting occurred where the administrator ‘just asked, straight up, “When do you two graduate?” He said, “I want to know when you’ll stop caring about this issue.”’” A remarkably brief summary of a very real Stanford dynamic.
    • An Optimist’s Guide to Finding Meaning at Stanford (Ibrahim Bharmal and Alina Utrata, Medium) “The best advice I ever got about picking a major was: plan out all the classes you want to take, and then see what major lets you take those classes. YOU HAVE TONS OF TIME! Spend freshman and sophomore year taking all the classes you’re interested in and expanding your horizons — even classes that don’t seem ‘useful’ to you.”
  7. The Danger of Reusing Natural Experiments (Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution): “A correspondent writes to ask whether I was aware that Regulation SHO has been used by more than fifty other studies to test a variety of hypotheses. I was not! The problem is obvious. If the same experiment is used multiple times we should be imposing multiple hypothesis standards to avoid the green jelly bean problem, otherwise known as the false positive problem.” 

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 Facts Are Not Self‐Interpreting (Twitter) — this is a short, soundless video. Recommended. First shared in volume 184.

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 217

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. A Study Guide For Human Society, Part 1 (Tanner Greer, The Scholar’s Stage): “…there are two methods [for finding good history books] in particular I have often have useful. The first is to Google syllabi. If you are interested in the history of the Roman Republic, Google ‘Roman Republic syllabus’ and see what pops up. Read a few courses and see what books are included. Alternatively, if you just read a book you thought was particularly good, put its title into Google and then the word ‘syllabus’ afterwards and see what other readings college professors have paired with that book in their courses.” I just found this blog and am loving it.
  2. When Faith Comes Up, Students Avert Their Eyes (Michael Roth, The Atlantic): “As a nonbeliever myself, I am not trying to convert any student to any religion. Yet how to discuss religious faith in class poses a major challenge for nonreligious colleges and universities. How can such an institution claim to educate students about ideas, culture, and ways of life if students, professors, or both are uncomfortable when talking about something that’s been central to humanity throughout recorded history?” Roth is a historian and the president of Wesleyan University. Recommended by an alumnus.
  3. The Pint‐Size Nation off the English Coast (Ian Urbina, The Atlantic): “Though no country formally recognizes Sealand, its sovereignty has been hard to deny. Half a dozen times, the British government and assorted other groups, backed by mercenaries, have tried and failed to take over the platform by force.” Recommended by a student. Very entertaining.
  4. Elite Failure Has Brought Americans to the Edge of an Existential Crisis (Derek Thompson, The Atlantic): “What Americans young and old are abandoning is not so much the promise of family, faith, and national pride as the trust that America’s existing institutions can be relied on to provide for them.”
    • Usefully read alongside The End of the Roman Empire Wasn’t That Bad (James Fallows, The Atlantic): “Governmental ‘failure’ comes down to an inability to match a society’s resources to its biggest opportunities and needs. This is the clearest standard by which current U.S. national governance fails. In principle, almost nothing is beyond America’s capacities. In practice, almost every big task seems too hard. Yet for our own era’s counterparts to duchies and monasteries—for state and local governments, and for certain large private organizations, including universities and some companies—the country is still mainly functional, in exactly the areas where national governance has failed.”
    • Related: How Universities Have Been Part of the Problem (And Can Be Part of the Solution) for America’s Civic Crises (Musa al‐Gharbi, Heterodox Academy): “Students are taught to really hone their critical capacities at university – but what of their affirmative ones? Put another way, there is a big focus on identifying problems, criticizing, problematizing, deconstructing, highlighting differences, etc. – but much less on coming up with practical solutions, or explaining what works, what is good (and why), or acknowledging what the people we engage are right about, or building consensus through the things we share in common. These are not skills that are prioritized in higher education today.” The author is a sociologist at Columbia. Recommended by an alumnus. Also see his companion piece Academic and Political Elitism at Inside Higher Ed.
  5. Can Jesus Close the Wage Gap? Inside Hillsong’s Instagram‐Fueled Women’s Movement (Hayley Phelan, Elle): “This year’s theme, ‘Be Found in the New,’ is taken from the Book of Revelation. But if you didn’t know that, the pamphlet could be an Urban Outfitters catalog or an Everlane lookbook—a sign of both Hillsong’s cultural fluency and marketers’ awareness of consumer fatigue. A new sofa or cute leggings are just the window dressing in a life of purpose—a way to transcend exhaustion, loneliness, and low self‐esteem, and step into a world of our own making. Which, when you get right down to it, sounds a lot like religion.”
  6. Five Things They Don’t Tell You About Slavery (Rich Lowry, National Review): “None of the other societies tainted by slavery produced the Declaration of Independence, a Washington, Jefferson, and Hamilton, the U.S. Constitution, or a tradition of liberty that inspired people around the world for centuries. If we don’t keep that in mind, as well as the broader context of slavery, we aren’t giving this country — or history — its due.” The title is not great but the article is quite interesting. 
  7. Homelessness and the high cost of living (Christos Makridis, The Hill): “…economists have reached a consensus that the primary driver behind increasing housing prices and rental rates is the presence of, and increase in, land use restrictions. Put simply, land use restrictions, or housing market regulations more generally, place restrictions on the types of structures that can be built — that either implicitly or explicitly raise the cost for developers.” Christos is an alumnus of our ministry.

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 What Is It Like to Be a Man? (Phil Christman, The Hedgehog Review): “I live out my masculinity most often as a perverse avoidance of comfort: the refusal of good clothes, moisturizer, painkillers; hard physical training, pursued for its own sake and not because I enjoy it; a sense that there is a set amount of physical pain or self‐imposed discipline that I owe the universe.” Very well‐written. Everyone will likely find parts they resonate with and parts they reject. The author is a lecturer at the University of Michigan and based on his CV seems to be a fairly devoted Episcopalian. First shared in volume 178.

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.