Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 455



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

This is volume 455, which is the result of 15 choose 3 — how many ways you can select three objects from a collection of fifteen.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. What I’ve Learned From a Decade on the Dating Apps (Katelyn Beaty, Substack): “Dating apps are not a neutral tool for finding love. Like all technologies, they act on us, even as we think we are in control, acting on them. They shape how we see other people, and ourselves, and romantic love itself. According to the apps, love is the optimization of traits that yield the highest rates of mutual satisfaction and personal growth for two atomized individuals. This self-expressive model of romance may be fine as far as it goes, but it’s a major departure from the basis of love in previous eras.”
    • Emphasis in original.
    • I also liked this bit: “It’s as if these apps don’t want users to find romance, because they are incentivized, to the tune of $5.3 billion in 2022, to keep us swiping and searching.”
  2. Are Gaza Protests Happening Mostly at Elite Colleges? (Marc Novicoff & Robert Kelchen, Washington Monthly): “Using data from Harvard’s Crowd Counting Consortium and news reports of encampments, we matched information on every institution of higher education that has had pro-Palestinian protest activity (starting when the war broke out in October until early May) to the colleges in our 2023 college rankings. Of the 1,421 public and private nonprofit colleges that we ranked, 318 have had protests and 123 have had encampments. By matching that data to percentages of students at each campus who receive Pell Grants (which are awarded to students from moderate- and low-income families), we came to an unsurprising conclusion: Pro-Palestinian protests have been rare at colleges with high percentages of Pell students. Encampments at such colleges have been rarer still.”
    • Contains interesting charts.
  3. Spying Arrests Send Chill Through Britain’s Thriving Hong Kong Community (Megan Specia, New York Times): “This month, three men were charged in London with gathering intelligence for Hong Kong and forcing entry into a British residence. While the men have not yet been found innocent or guilty — the trial will not begin until February — the news of the arrests threw a spotlight on many activists’ existing concerns about China’s ability to surveil and harass its citizens abroad, particularly those who have been critical of the government.”
  4. Two articles about surviving cancer:
    • Marital Status and Survival in Patients With Cancer (Aizer et al, Journal of Clinical Oncology): “For five cancers studied (prostate, breast, colorectal, esophageal, and head/neck cancers), the survival benefit associated with marriage was larger than the published survival benefit of chemotherapy. The importance of this study is that it highlights the consistent and substantial impact that features of marriage, particularly social support, can have on cancer detection, treatment, and survival.”
      • From 2013. Marriage is better than chemotherapy. To be clear: if you have cancer also receive medical treatment even if you’re married.
    • Trial results for new lung cancer drug are ‘off the charts’, say doctors (Andrew Gregory, The Guardian): “Lung cancer is the world’s leading cause of cancer death, accounting for about 1.8m deaths every year. Survival rates in those with advanced forms of the disease, where tumours have spread, are particularly poor. More than half of patients (60%) diagnosed with advanced forms of lung cancer who took lorlatinib were still alive five years later with no progression in their disease, data presented at the world’s largest cancer conference showed. The rate was 8% in patients treated with a standard drug, the trial found.”
      • Amazing!
  5. Two articles about the job market:
    • Why Can’t College Grads Find Jobs? Here Are Some Theories — and Fixes. (Peter Coy, New York Times): “Even though the unemployment rate is low, fewer people are quitting, so fewer jobs are becoming available, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. LinkedIn’s estimate of the national hiring rate was down 9.5 percent in April from a year earlier.”
      • The article contains other substantive insights, but that one stood out to me.
    • The case of the angry history postdoc (Noah Smith, Substack): “Why is no one hiring historians? There are four basic reasons. The first and most important — which almost no one ever talks about, because it’s supposed to be so obvious — is that the U.S. university system is largely done expanding. The 20th century saw a massive build-out of universities, which required hiring a massive number of tenure-track professors. Then it stopped. And because tenure is for life, the departments at the existing universities are clogged with a ton of old profs who will never leave until they age out. New hires must therefore slow to a trickle, since as long as the number of profs is roughly constant, they can only be hired to replace people who retire or die.”
  6. Live by the Law or Die on the Cross (Jeremy England, Tablet Magazine): “What would Jesus do if a Hamas fighter held a Gazan Arab child up as a shield while firing? Hard to say for sure, but anyone who argues that a properly humane response is to die rather than to try to shoot around the child has ample basis in Christianity. The image of the Crucifixion may mean many things, but part of what it means is that accepting corporeal defeat in this world can be a path to God-like virtue and spiritual victory in the world of tomorrow. You will not hear Jesus mentioned when Western leaders speak on how important it is that Israel adhere to international laws of war, but the concept of the innocent civilian enshrined in these laws grew practically out of wars fought within Christendom during the last several hundred years.”
    • Recommended by a student who does not endorse all of the argument but found it fascinating.
  7. A Redemptive Thesis for Artificial Intelligence (Andy Crouch with others, Praxis Labs): “Like the Internet, electricity, and agriculture, AI is a general-purpose technology that can be harnessed to many ends. Redemptive entrepreneurs can lead the way in demonstrating that AI can be deployed — in fact, is best deployed — in ways that dethrone pride, magic, and Mammon and that elevate the dignity of human beings and their capacity to flourish as image bearers in the world.”

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 452

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.

452 is a product of 113. Specifically, 452 = 4 · 113. A website informed that it is also the closest integer to 7π, but that’s a weird fact.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. I Knew I Would Pay a Price for My Faith’: China Releases Missionary After Seven Years (CJ Wu interviewing John Cao, Christianity Today): “I did not have a Bible while in prison. Although both my mother and my lawyer brought Bibles to my prison, the correctional staff refused to hand them over to me. My mother would write down Bible verses in her letters to me. Yet the police checked our correspondence: If faith was mentioned in my letters, they would not be delivered. Both prisons had small libraries with hundreds of books. I would search for Leo Tolstoy’s books, since there are some Bible verses in his books. When I found them, I’d be very, very happy and copy the verses in my notebook. In the four years I was there, I copied dozens of verses.”
  2. The adolescent mental health mess (Lucy Foulkes, Medium): “We are in a situation where some adolescents are very legitimately experiencing mental health crises, without decent treatment, while others are inaccurately describing typical developmental stress with the language of disorder.… The whole thing is a mess, and a thousand miles away from the original goal of mental health awareness.”
    • The author is a psychologist at Oxford.
    • Amplified by the New York Times: Are We Talking Too Much About Mental Health? (Ellen Barry, New York Times): “[The] training could encourage ‘co-rumination,’ the kind of long, unresolved group discussion that churns up problems without finding solutions.… Co-rumination appears to be higher in girls, who tend to come into the program more distressed, as well as more attuned to their friends, he said. ‘It might be,’ he said, ‘that they kind of get together and make things a little bit worse for each other.’”
  3. Perspectives and news about the college protests
    • The People Setting America on Fire (Park MacDougald, Tablet Magazine): “In fact, it is a mistake both to view the campus protests as a ‘student’ movement and to regard the outsiders as ‘infiltrators’ or somehow separate from the movement. Rather, student activists have been working together with outsiders, with whom they are linked via overlapping activist networks and nationwide organizations.… wealthy donors have been subsidizing months of rolling disruptive street protests by a grab bag of revolutionary and anti-Israel radicals. That leads naturally to a question: To what end?”
    • An Inside Look at the Student Takeover of Columbia’s Hamilton Hall (Sharon Otterman, New York Times): “[The maintenance worker] said he tried to block them and they tried to reason with him to get out of the way, telling him ‘this is bigger than you.’ One person, he recalled, told him he didn’t get paid enough to deal with this. Someone tried to offer him ‘a fistful of cash.’ He said he replied: “I don’t want your money, dude. Just get out of the building.” … Both Mr. Torres and Mr. Wilson said they strongly objected to the tactics of the occupiers, which they said had taken a toll on them. Neither man ever wants to work in Hamilton Hall again.”
      • A pretty wild story told from a unique perspective
    • How Counterprotesters at U.C.L.A. Provoked Violence, Unchecked for Hours (EIGHT JOURNALISTS!, New York Times): “A New York Times examination of more than 100 videos from clashes at the University of California, Los Angeles, found that violence ebbed and flowed for nearly five hours, mostly with little or no police intervention. The violence had been instigated by dozens of people who are seen in videos counterprotesting the encampment.… Fifteen people were reportedly injured in the attack, according to a letter sent by the president of the University of California system to the board of regents.”
    • Behind the Ivy Intifada (Musa al-Gharbi, Compact Magazine): “Contrary to earlier claims by university and city officials about a large proportion of ‘outside agitators,’ more than 70 percent of those arrested at Columbia had a direct institutional tie to the university. This was reflected in how they were treated after arrest. Most of those swept up were released without charges. Among Columbia affiliates who were formally charged, none faced more than a single misdemeanor charge. Meanwhile, those who faced charges at City College, the nearby public university raided by police the same night, were all hit with felonies. While it’s possible that the City College kids just engaged in more extreme and unlawful activity, it seems more likely that belonging to the elite paid criminal-justice dividends for the Columbia arrestees.”
      • Wow. Well worth reading. Full of snarky insight. The author is a professor of communication at Stony Brook and is pro-Palestinian.
    • Check Your Privilege (Nick Catoggio, The Dispatch): “Academia could select for kids who show intellectual humility and curiosity, to borrow a point from my colleague Sarah Isgur. Instead they’ve selected for kids who feel not merely entitled to demand that their elders ‘check their privilege’ but morally justified in acting aggressively to make sure they do. All told, one might say that progressives, the great enemies of colonialism, have … colonized higher education over the past half-century. And you know how settler-colonialists are. They can be very defensive when you demand that they vacate territory they regard as rightly theirs. The behavior of campus progressives this month has radiated the sense that American universities are ‘theirs’ in a way that isn’t true of other students. It’s been pointed out repeatedly but can’t be emphasized enough that the sort of disruption in which they’ve engaged wouldn’t be tolerated from those whose political beliefs offended the administration’s leftist orthodoxy.”
  4. Perspectives and news about the war in Gaza
    • One Photo That Captures the Loss in Gaza (Nicholas Kristof, New York Times): “An American surgeon who volunteered in Gaza sent me a photo that sears me with its glimpse of overwhelming grief: A woman mourns her young son.… The nurses and other doctors who were in the I.C.U. that day said that Karam died of complications from malnutrition.”
    • Israel orders Al Jazeera to close its local operation and seizes some of its equipment (Tia Goldenberg and Jon Gambrell, AP News): “The extraordinary order, which includes confiscating broadcast equipment, preventing the broadcast of the channel’s reports and blocking its websites, is believed to be the first time Israel has ever shuttered a foreign news outlet operating in the country.… While including on-the-ground reporting of the war’s casualties, its Arabic arm often publishes verbatim video statements from Hamas and other regional militant groups.… Al Jazeera has been closed or blocked by other Mideast governments.”
    • Kol Hakavod (Russ Roberts, Substack): “Israel going to the finals really shouldn’t float my boat and make my heart sing. But it did. Because here’s the thing. The decision about who advanced to the Eurovision finals tomorrow night was done by a popular vote. There’s no panel of judges in the semifinal round.… Golan advanced. Despite the thousands who marched in the streets and the dozens who booed Golan in the rehearsal hall, probably millions, from the safety of their homes, were able to cast an anonymous vote for Israel.”
  5. The Heresy of Christian Buddhism (Anonymous, Substack): “…while many men can easily recognise the moral evil of debauchery and worldliness, not many see the danger of an ascetic puritanism that pushes too far. Too much emphasis on sin, too much emphasis on humility, too much emphasis on heaven and even too much emphasis on Christ to the exclusion of man soon leads to a Christianity that hates the individual, individuation and the created world. Christianity starts to resemble Buddhism.”
    • Follow-up: The Buddhist Mood in Evangelicalism (Aaron Renn, Substack): “…the de facto definition of idolatry is wanting anything so much that, if you don’t get it, you are very upset. Hence, the path to avoiding sin and idolatry, the way to please God, is to purge oneself of desires. This is Buddhism. Undoubtedly it would be possible for someone to be engaged in idolatry in some of these cases. But there are a lot of things in this world you should be upset about.”
  6. When Intrusive Thoughts Come (John Beeson, The Gospel Coalition): “Nurture mental playgrounds of gospel creativity.Many of us expend so much energy trying to knock down destructive intrusive thoughts that we have no energy to build constructive imaginations. We believe our minds are dangerous and need to be shut down. But your mind is a gift God intends to be leveraged for his glory. He desires to reshape your mind to become a factory of God-glorifying curiosity.”
    • Recommended by a student

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

  • Cruise ship sails into New York City port with 44-foot dead whale across its bow (ABC News): “A cruise ship sailed into a New York City port with a 44-foot dead whale across its bow, marine authorities said. The whale, identified as an endangered sei whale, was caught on the ship’s bow when it arrived at the Port of Brooklyn on Saturday, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration fisheries spokesperson Andrea Gomez said.”
    • I guess it’s the nautical equivalent of a car hitting a deer. Yikes.

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 451

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

This is volume 451, which feels like it is maybe a prime number but it turns out that 451 = 11 · 41.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Was Paul a Slave? (Mark R. Fairchild and Jordan K. Monson, Christianity Today): “Reconciling the Pharisee, Hebrew of Hebrews, Aramaic-speaking zealot Paul with the Roman citizen, globetrotting, Greek-speaking Paul seems impossible. Unless, that is, we consider the early church’s recollection of Paul’s upbringing as a child in an enslaved family. ‘The manumission of Paul’s father solves these problems,’ Riesner told me.”
    • The title is a little misleading — the question is really whether Paul was born a slave and later freed (they do explain Acts 22:28, “When Paul told the commander in Acts 22:28 that he was ‘born’ a Roman citizen, that word, gennao, can refer to birth or adoption. Freed Roman slaves were often adopted into their master’s family and given a Roman name and citizenship.”
    • The authors are scholars with relevant expertise. The middle section of the article is where all the meat is and makes some good points. The opening and closing felt like fluff to me.
    • Unlocked.
  2. Stuff about the college protests
    • For most people, politics is about fitting in (Nate Silver, Substack): “People are trying to figure out where they fit in — who’s on their side and who isn’t. And this works in both directions: people can be attracted to a group or negatively polarized by it.… Notice what’s missing from my list? The notion of politics as a battle of ideas.”
    • College protesters seek amnesty to keep arrests and suspensions from trailing them (Jocelyn Gecker, AP News): “Petocz said protesting in high school was what helped get him into Vanderbilt and secure a merit scholarship for activists and organizers. His college essay was about organizing walkouts in rural Florida to oppose Gov. Ron DeSantis’ anti-LGBTQ policies. ‘Vanderbilt seemed to love that,’ Petocz said.’ ”
    • What Students Read Before They Protest (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “[Reading the syllabus explains] the two things that seem so disproportionate in these protests and the culture that surrounds them. First, it explains why this conflict attracts such a scale of on-campus attention and action and disruption, while so many other wars and crises (Sudan, Congo, Armenia, Burma, Yemen …) are barely noticed or ignored. Second, it explains why the attention seems to leap so quickly past critique into caricature, past sympathy for the Palestinians into justifications for Hamas, past condemnation of Israeli policy into anti-Semitism.”
    • In an Online World, a New Generation of Protesters Chooses Anonymity (Nicholas Fandos, New York Times): “On campuses from New England to Southern California, students leading one of the largest protest movements in decades have increasingly strapped on face masks and checkered Palestinian kaffiyehs in a polarizing bid to protect their anonymity even as they demand universities and governments be held to account. The choice represents a sharp break by many, though not all, of these students from earlier generations of university activists, who gained their moral force in part by putting their words on record and their futures in jeopardy for a larger cause.”
    • How Protesters Can Actually Help Palestinians (Nicholas Kristof, New York Times): “…this may sound zany, but how about raising money to send as many of your student leaders as possible this summer to live in the West Bank and learn from Palestinians there (while engaging with Israelis on the way in or out)? West Bank monitors say that a recent Israeli crackdown on foreigners helping Palestinians, by denying entry or deporting people, has made this more difficult but not impossible. Student visitors must be prudent and cautious but could study Arabic, teach English and volunteer with human rights organizations on the ground. Palestinians in parts of the West Bank are under siege, periodically attacked by settlers and in need of observers and advocates.”
  3. Some stuff about gender:
    • The Battle of the Sexes Needs a Truce (Thomas Adamo and Isabella Griepp, Stanford Review): “We must acknowledge how society has lied to both men and women since they were boys and girls—lies that have done nothing but bring about disharmony between the sexes. In seeking to empower young girls, parents and teachers have de-emphasized the innate differences between the sexes. And, any differences between the sexes were explained in terms of how men had historically oppressed women, rather than the unique and valuable characteristics that men and women inherently possess.”
      • The authors are students in Chi Alpha.
    • The Masculinity Pyramid (Seth Troutt, Mere Orthodoxy): “A man who is overly concerned with how he is different from women is missing the holy instinct of Adam, who first notices the sameness of Eve and second notices their differences (Gen 2:23).”
    • Scripts for Healthy Masculinity (Seth Troutt, Mere Orthodoxy): “…men ought to be differentiated from God, animals, boys, and women. When properly considered, those four distinctions yield the four core masculine virtues of humility (in our differentiation from God), discipline (in our differentiation from animals), responsibility (in our differentiation from boys), and chivalry (in our differentiation from women).”
  4. There’s Really No Good Reason to Use TikTok (Samuel D. James, Substack): “TikTok is, in my view, a social media platform devoid of positive benefit. I do not mean by that that it is wholly evil or cannot be used except sinfully. Rather, I think TikTok simply lacks any merit as a platform and is only useful in the sense that it is passively entertaining. This is also how I would describe things like soap operas, professional wrestling, and the national hot dog eating contest. The difference, though, between TikTok and those things, is that TikTok is 1) addictive, 2) actively corrosive to thinking, and 3) marketed to and consumed by an enormous number of children.”

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 450

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.

450 is a cool number because it ends in 50. Which is just cool.

It’s also something called an Arabian Nights factorial, meaning that 450! has 1001 digits. What a fun concept!

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Pro-Palestinian Encampments Spread, Leading to Hundreds of Arrests (Anna Betts, New York Times): “In the week since Columbia University started cracking down on pro-Palestinian protesters occupying a lawn on its campus, protests and encampments have sprung up at other colleges and universities across the country. Police interventions on several campuses have led to more than 400 arrests so far.”
    • Scenes of Protests Spread at Elite Campuses (Troy Closson, New York Times): “Nearly 50 people were arrested at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., on Monday morning, following the arrests last week of more than 100 protesters at Columbia University in New York City. The arrests unleashed a wave of activism across other campuses.… The flurry of protests has presented a steep challenge for university leaders, as some Jewish students say they have faced harassment and antisemitic comments. Early Monday morning, Columbia announced a same-day shift to online classes because of the protests. Barnard College, across the street, followed suit hours later.”
    • The Carnage Is the Point (Dan Drezner, Substack): “Universities like Columbia have handled this poorly, although their response pales in comparison to how some elected officials want them to respond. An awful lot of politicians have been calling on the use of force against protestors. Senators Tom Cotton and Josh Hawley have called for the National Guard to be deployed in Columbia, as has Speaker of the House Mike Johnson. Earlier this week Texas governor Greg Abbott enthusiastically sent Texas state troopers to conduct mass arrests, breaking up an unsanctioned but nonviolent demonstration at the University of Texas at Austin. Cotton, Hawley, Johnson, and Abbott are a lot of things, but stupid they are not. Why would they call for coercion when they must be fully aware that such an approach would further fan the flames of protest?”
    • An interesting analysis. Worth your time.
  2. No, There Are No “Trans” Animals (Emma Hilton and Jonathan Kay, Quillette): “Do some creatures change sex? Absolutely. But this isn’t new information. It’s a fact that biologists have known about for a long time. What is also well-known is that none of these sex-changing creatures are mammals, much less human. Rather, they’re insects, fish, lizards, and marine invertebrates whose biology is different from our own in countless (fascinating) ways. What’s more, in every single case described above, there are always (at most) just two distinct sexes at play—no matter how those two sexes may switch or combine. One of those sexes is male, a sex associated with gonads that produce sperm (testes); and the other is female, with gonads that produce eggs (ovaries). There’s nothing else on the menu. It’s just M and F.”
    • Recommended by a student.
  3. Ex-athletic director accused of framing principal with AI arrested at airport with gun (Kristen Griffith & Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Banner): “Eiswert’s voice, which police and AI experts believe was simulated, made disparaging comments toward Black students and the surrounding Jewish community, was widely circulated on social media.”
    • AI crimes are fixing to get wild. In case you haven’t been keeping up, AI-generated video and audio is shockingly good. https://twitter.com/reidhoffman/status/1783145009153450374 <– check this wild example. Reid Hoffman (one of the so-called ‘Paypal Mafia’, founder of LinkedIn) interviews an AI avatar of himself for about 14 minutes.
  4. What Is a Woman? What Is a Man? (Aaron Renn, Substack): “The key is to understand who men and women are, biologically, sociologically, and culturally. What we will see is that evangelicals have very little to say about this.”
  5. How do you get siblings to be nice to each other? Latino families have an answer (Michaeleen Doucleff, NPR): “I ask Cindy the same question I posed to scientists: How do you teach children to find joy in helping their siblings? And she answers exactly the same as the scientists answered: ‘We model it.’ Cindy says. Cindy models not just helping her siblings, but also the joy she receives from the relationships she has with her brothers and sisters.”
  6. Changes in College Admissions (Zvi Mowshowitz, Substack): “Starting in August 2024, LSAT to eliminate the Logic Games (Analytic Reasoning) section, the hardest, most fun and most objective and intelligence-testing part of the whole test. Normally I would be against dumbing down our testing, but keeping smart people from becoming lawyers is not the worst idea.”
    • The whole thing is interesting. The excerpt is amusing.
  7. Astronomers Find Evidence Of A Massive Object Beyond The Orbit Of Neptune (James Felton, IFL Science): “Carrying out simulations to try and discover what best explains the orbits of these objects, the team found that a model that includes a massive planet beyond the region of Neptune explained the steady state of these objects much better than in simulations where planet 9 was not included. In the model, the team included other variables, such as the galactic tide and the gravitational influence of passing stars.”

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

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 448

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

This is volume 448, an untouchable number. Which is an absolutely cool designation for a number to have.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Gossip is good, Stanford scientist suggests (Sarayu Pai, Stanford Daily): “Although gossiping is typically cast in a negative light, a study conducted by researchers from Stanford and the University of Maryland found that gossiping may be a beneficial practice, as long as information remains ‘reliable.’ Study co-author Michele Gelfand, who is a professor at the Graduate School of Business, estimates that people gossip an hour a day on average — defined as the ‘exchange [of] personal information about absent third parties.’ ”
    • Recommended to me by a student, who said “these people need a dose of the Kingdom principle of the week : gossip is corrosive!” [Glen’s note — the Kingdom principle of the week is a thing we do in our Chi Alpha, and “gossip is corrosive” is one of them]
    • Indeed they do, and this is useful launching point for a brief discourse on gossip. In this study, gossip is defined as “exchange [of] personal information about absent third parties.” But that’s not what we’re condemning when we condemn gossip! If someone tells you, “wow — that Caleb guy is super charming and handsome” and you reply, “You know he’s married, right?” then you’ve done nothing wrong — that’s not the sin of gossip. But if you spread a false negative rumor about Caleb “you know he does drugs, right?”, that is the sin of gossip. This study conflates those two very different conversations.
    • The sin of gossip can be described as bearing bad news behind someone’s back with a bad heart. The bad news can be bad in the sense of being untrue or it can be bad in the sense of unnecessary and unhelpful. For more on this helpful framing, check out What Is Gossip? Exposing a Common and Dangerous Sin (Matt Mitchell, Desiring God).
    • This is a recurring pattern, by the way: some researcher wants to study something interesting but needs to operationalize a variable in some unorthodox way to make the research feasible. Then they do their research and find something that would be counterintuitive relative to the original meaning of the word they’re using (although maybe not that surprising given their operationalization of the variable), and then the media repeats it as a commentary on the actual thing — a thing which the scientists never studied. In this case, the study didn’t actually analyze the sin of gossip, but nonetheless near the end of the article we learn that “some students with previously negative views of gossip report seeing it differently in light of this study.”
  2. Why We Fast (Ross Byrd, Mere Orthodoxy): “Fasting is no magic fix. In fact, it’s almost the exact opposite of a magic fix. It takes time, patience, and discipline—dare I say, suffering—to see its fruit. But the fruit is no less than the ability to see more of God. Here are three ways to understand Christian fasting: 1. Fasting makes space for God. 2. Fasting interrupts and reorients our unconscious patterns. 3. Fasting gives us eyes to see the unseen.”
    • Emphasis in original. Lots of good insights in this one.
  3. ‘Little Women’ and the Art of Breaking Grammatical Rules (John McWhorter, New York Times): “Curzan notes, for example, that the use of ‘literally’ to exaggerate is no recent anomaly but rather goes back to, for example, our ‘Little Women,’ in which Louisa May Alcott has it that at a gathering ‘the land literally flowed with milk and honey.’ The March girls, also, would have said ‘sneaked’ where, since just the 1970s, as Curzan charts, we have been increasingly likely to say ‘snuck.’ Are you a little irked by the youngs saying ‘based off of’ rather than ‘based on’? That one threw me when I started hearing my students saying it about 15 years ago; Curzan calms us down and demonstrates how ordinary and even logical it is. Curzan is also good on the use of ‘hopefully’ to mean ‘it is hoped.’ This became a punching bag only in the 1960s — until then, not even grammar scolds cared, too busy complaining that, for example, the ‘proper’ meaning of obnoxious is ‘subject to harm.’” Recommended by a student.
  4. Some more Israel/Hamas commentary
    • Fractured Are the Peacemakers (Sophia Lee, Christianity Today): “I spent a week in Israel and the West Bank meeting Palestinian Christians and Messianic Jews who are pastors, youth leaders, YMCA leaders, tour guides, lawyers, and students. Many of them aren’t professional peace activists, but all of them, from what I could tell, take seriously Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and strive to embody his proclamation that ‘blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God’ (Matt. 5:9). The problem is, I spoke to about two dozen individuals about what peacemaking means and got almost two dozen different answers.” Unlocked.
    • Israel Has Created a New Standard for Urban Warfare. Why Will No One Admit It? (John Spencer, Newsweek): “In my long career studying and advising on urban warfare for the U.S. military, I’ve never known an army to take such measures to attend to the enemy’s civilian population, especially while simultaneously combating the enemy in the very same buildings. In fact, by my analysis, Israel has implemented more precautions to prevent civilian harm than any military in history—above and beyond what international law requires and more than the U.S. did in its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
      • The author is the chair of urban war studies at the Modern War Institute at West Point. Recommended by a student.
    • There Shall Be None to Make Him Afraid: American Liberty and the Jews (Mike Cosper, Acton Institute): “Historically speaking, the emergence of anti-Semitism is always a sign of something poisonous taking root in a society. It doesn’t just spell danger for Jews; it spells danger for everyone. As Bari Weiss has put it, ‘What starts with the Jews never ends with the Jews.’ The rise of anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, and half a dozen Middle Eastern states was quickly followed by other forms of violence, tyranny, and authoritarianism.” This is a long and solid article that covers much more than anti-Semitism (although that is at its heart).
  5. Schools are using research to try to improve children’s learning – but it’s not working (Sally Riordan, The Conversation): “A series of randomised controlled trials, including one looking at how to improve literacy through evidence, have suggested that schools that use methods based on research are not performing better than schools that do not.”
    • British context, hence the spelling.
  6. The Anti-Fragile Brendan Eich (Andrew Beck, First Things): “I am not here to complain about cancel culture. Brendan Eich does not. He is too busy. He refuses to be defined by the evil done to him, or by the purported heterodoxy of his beliefs, but by the work he does and by his character, as known by those closest to him. Rather than taking to the airwaves and leaning into the role of martyr, as have so many others who have endured similar abuse, Eich never speaks publicly about the wrong done to him—not once even in private to me. Instead, he diligently pursues his vocation.”
  7. The Great Hypocrisy of the Pro-Life Movement (David French, New York Times): “The older I get, the more I’m convinced that we simply don’t know who we are — or what we truly believe — until our values carry a cost. For more than 40 years, the Republican Party has made the case that life begins at conception. Alabama’s Supreme Court agreed. Yet the Republican Party can’t live with its own philosophy. There is no truly pro-life party in the United States.”

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

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 447

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

This is volume 447, which I kinda hoped would be prime. Alas, 447 = 3 · 149.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. One of the Most Overlooked Arguments for the Resurrection (Michael J. Kruger, blog): “…the earliest Christians came to believe, against all odds and against all expectations, that Jesus of Nazareth had been raised from the dead. Notice the distinctive nature of this claim. The claim is not that Jesus rose from the dead (though, I think he did). The claim is that the earliest followers of Jesus came to believe—and very strongly believe— that he did. And that is a wholly other matter. Why? Because it is a historical fact that is not disputed.”
  2. The Problem With Saying ‘Sex Assigned at Birth’ (Alex Byrne and Carole K. Hooven, New York Times): “Sexed organisms were present on Earth at least a billion years ago, and males and females would have been around even if humans had never evolved. Sex is not in any sense the result of linguistic ceremonies in the delivery room or other cultural practices. Lonesome George, the long-lived Galápagos giant tortoise, was male. He was not assigned male at birth — or rather, in George’s case, at hatching. A baby abandoned at birth may not have been assigned male or female by anyone, yet the baby still has a sex. Despite the confusion sown by some scholars, we can be confident that the sex binary is not a human invention.”
    • One author is a philosopher at MIT, the other an evolutionary biologist at Harvard. Unlocked.
  3. Rival perspectives on the war between Israel and Hamas
    • https://twitter.com/AGHamilton29/status/1775980849944539391 (Coleman Hughes, Twitter): a two and a half minute video sympathetic to Israel
    • Bomb First, Ask Questions Later (Andrew Sullivan, Substack): “To hit one car is a misfortune; to destroy three cars consecutively on a pre-approved route, not so much. The cars were clearly marked and in a deconfliction zone — but the IDF policy is to target anywhere Hamas could be present, even if some civilians were killed. As we’ll see, one dead Hamas member and seven dead civilians was well within the margin of error Israel had set for itself. So it appears they methodically took out each car to make sure they finished the job. No, I don’t believe that Israel deliberately murdered the aid workers; but I do think that, in context, the IDF’s effective rules of engagement — strike places like hospitals and schools because Hamas is there, even though there will be many civilian casualties — made this kind of indifference to human life possible.”
  4. The Church of Trump: How He’s Infusing Christianity Into His Movement (Michael C. Bender, New York Times): “The apparent effectiveness of such tactics has made Mr. Trump the nation’s first major politician to successfully separate character from policy for religious voters, said John Fea, a history professor at Messiah University, an evangelical school in Pennsylvania. ‘Trump has split the atom between character and policy,’ Mr. Fea said. ‘He did it because he’s really the first one to listen to their grievances and take them seriously. Does he really care about evangelicals? I don’t know. But he’s built a message to appeal directly to them.’”
    • Unlocked
  5. The Case for Marrying an Older Man (Grazie Sophia Christie, The Cut): “Very soon, we will decide to have children, and I don’t panic over last gasps of fun, because I took so many big breaths of it early: on the holidays of someone who had worked a decade longer than I had, in beautiful places when I was young and beautiful, a symmetry I recommend. If such a thing as maternal energy exists, mine was never depleted. I spent the last nearly seven years supported more than I support and I am still not as old as my husband was when he met me. When I have a child, I will expect more help from him than I would if he were younger, for what does professional tenure earn you if not the right to set more limits on work demands — or, if not, to secure some child care, at the very least?”
    • A well-written and unusual position. Not the only path to consider, but certainly a path to consider.
  6. Breakthrough in prime number theory demonstrates primes can be predicted (Michael Gibb, Phys.org): “Contrary to what just about every mathematician on Earth will tell you, prime numbers can be predicted, according to researchers at City University of Hong Kong (CityUHK) and North Carolina State University, U.S.”
  7. Are Members of the Clergy Miserable? (Ryan Burge, Substack): “I really wanted to key in on a few questions about job/life satisfaction. The survey replicates a question from ‘The Satisfaction with Life Scale.’ The statement is simply: In most ways my life is close to my ideal.… The mean score for this was 5.6 in the clergy sample. Among members of Israel’s Defense Force it was 4.7, among some university students it was found to 5.23. Among nurses it was 3.81. In a sample of people living in Colombia it was only 3.67. The long and short of it was this — I can’t find another population group that scores higher on this metric than clergy.… I’m pretty confident in saying that clergy seemed pretty content with their station in life (or at least this was the case before the pandemic).”
    • Maybe laypeople don’t hear this very often, but I am often in circles where they talk about an epidemic of ministerial dissatisfaction. But I’ve never seen it. I love my job and pretty much all my peers do, too. What we do is amazing. I’m glad to see a scholar vindicating my intuition.

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

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 446

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

This is volume 446, which is equal to 92 + 102 + 112 + 122

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The War at Stanford (Theo Baker, The Atlantic): “At one point, some members of the group turned on a few Stanford employees, including another rabbi, an imam, and a chaplain, telling them, ‘We know your names and we know where you work.’ The ringleader added: ‘And we’ll soon find out where you live.’ The religious leaders formed a protective barrier in front of the Jewish students. The rabbi and the imam appeared to be crying.”
    • Full of gripping anecdotes, most new to me. 100% worth reading.
    • A response that caught my attention: Are the Kids Alright? (Robert Farley, blog): “Israel-Palestine is to international relations what St. Patrick’s Day is to an alcoholic; amateur night, when every idiot is not only entitled to an opinion but absolutely must tell you about it in the most abrasive terms possible. But the divide between elite and non-elite campus engagement with Israel-Palestine is deeply interesting to me, and I think that it’s a divide that has largely been missed by media institutions that a) are headquartered in places like Washington, New York, and San Francisco, and b) are populated by graduates of elite colleges and universities.”
    • The author is a professor of political science (I think that’s his department — the university website is a bit confusing) at the University of Kentucky.
  2. A Christian revival is under way in Britain (Justin Brierley, The Spectator): “All that our post-Christian society has delivered so far is confusion, a mental health crisis in the young and the culture wars. It’s not surprising then that a movement of New Theists has sprung up.… As a Christian I believe things that are dead can come back to life. That’s the point of the story after all. As G.K. Chesterton wrote: ‘Christianity has died many times and risen again; for it had a God who knew the way out of the grave.’”
    • The author did not choose the title of this column and stated on Twitter he does not consider what is happening a revival… yet.
  3. 101 things I would tell my self from 10 years ago (Leila Clark, blog): “10 years ago, I started my freshman year of college. This is the advice I needed to hear… I would trade half my current net worth for a world in which I had a stronger community of friends and had worked more on my own projects instead of someone else’s.”
    • A high percentage of this advice is good.
  4. The Online Degradation of Women and Girls That We Meet With a Shrug (Nicholas Kristof, New York Times): “The greatest obstacles to regulating deepfakes, I’ve come to believe, aren’t technical or legal — although those are real — but simply our collective complacency. Society was also once complacent about domestic violence and sexual harassment. In recent decades, we’ve gained empathy for victims and built systems of accountability that, while imperfect, have fostered a more civilized society.”
    • Unlocked
  5. The Quest for a New Vision of Sexual Morality (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “You can have a culture of hard moral constraint, a conservative order that imposes norms that intentionally limit human freedom — remain faithful to your chosen spouse, live with your given body. Or you can have the kind of freedom-maximizing culture that removes limits and strictures but creates new regrets, new kinds of suffering, new dangers for the vulnerable and weak.”
    • Unlocked
  6. Some thoughts about relationships:
    • Resentment Between Men and Women in the Church: 4 Observations (Samuel D. James, Substack): “…marriage creates empathy between the sexes in a way that platonic friendship or mere collegiality cannot. If this is true, in a society where fewer people are opting to get married, we should see evidence that men and women are becoming ideologically polarized and suspicious of one another. That’s what we see… there needs to be some kind of thought given to helping foster solidarity between Christian men and women that goes beyond marriage.”
      • Recommended by a student
    • How To Choose A Romantic Partner (Rob Henderson, Substack): “You can commit a lot of blunders in your life, but if you manage to get two things right, you will maximize your chance of long-term wellbeing. Our choice of job and our choice of spouse are central to our happiness because they are where we spend most of our lives—at work and with our families. Therefore, we should devote a good deal of time concentrating on how to make the best possible decision for these two sources of potential happiness.”
      • Advice aimed at men, but useful to ladies as well.
    • 11 Reasons Why Two Parents Are Better Than One (Aaron Renn, Substack): “There’s a massive outcome gap between children growing up in two parent vs. single parent homes. The differences are so large, and the attempts to help kids in single parent homes so limited in their impact, that if we don’t reduce the share of children in single family homes, we are not going to make a dent in many of our social problems.”
  7. Water isn’t normal (Derek Lowe, Chemistry World): “The next time you see the reflection of a white cloud in a puddle of water, one of the most familiar sights in all of human history, take a moment to realise just what a mystery you are really looking at, and how much about it we still have to understand.”
    • The author has his PhD in Organic Chemistry from Duke.

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

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 444

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

This is volume 444, which is just the same digit repeated. I like that. Clean. Classy. Elegant.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Rant About Worship Songs (Jeremy Pierce, First Things): “Here are some of the things I really hate in a worship song.”
    • This is brilliant, from back in 2010.
  2. Top OnlyFans creator making $300,000 a month turns to Christ, walks away from porn industry (John Knox, Not The Bee): “From what I can tell, Nala here isn’t going through a Lil’ Nas X ‘Christian era’ where she’s aging out of porn and wants to rebrand herself as a good girl again before pivoting to another grift. All I see is genuine joy, like the prostitute who wept and was forgiven at Jesus’ feet.”
    • Includes a video of her sharing her testimony. I love this part: “The devil can truly give you things in this life. He has a budget, though. He can only go so far.… The devil has a budget, but God does not.”
  3. Latinos Are Flocking to Evangelical Christianity (Marie Arana, The Free Press): “In fact, some researchers project that by 2030, half of the entire population of American Latinos will identify as Protestant evangelicals. Compare that growth with white evangelical Protestants, whose numbers have declined from 23 percent of the American population in 2006 to 14 percent in 2020. With the Hispanic population’s projected growth, in less than a decade, we may see forty million Latinos—a congregation the size of California—heading to American evangelical churches every Sunday.”
  4. Is Rome a True Church? (Chris Castaldo, Mere Orthodoxy): “Protestants tend to answer the question of Roman Catholicism’s status in one of two ways. Looking through the lens of the early creeds (i.e., Nicene and Apostles’), some understand it to be fundamentally orthodox. The rationale is simple: because the creeds uphold the basic tenets of Christianity, and Rome upholds those creeds, her apostolicity is affirmed. Roman Catholicism is thus regarded as ‘inside the pale.’ An alternative reading, one that probably informed the Facebook comment, is to view the Roman Catholic Church through the lens of the sixteenth-century Reformation in which the Council of Trent anathematized (pronounced to be cursed) the doctrine of justification by faith alone. Because such faith is recognized as the driving center of the biblical gospel, and Rome forcefully repudiates the doctrine, the Roman Church is therefore considered incompatible with biblical faith.  I recognize the logic in these positions, but in my opinion, both are incomplete.”
  5. Journalism Has a Religion Problem (Andrew T. Walker, National Review): “Journalism has a religion problem. More specifically, journalists are either unaware or unwilling to admit that their own views, presumably untouched by ‘religion,’ are nonetheless passionately held convictions grounded, well, somewhere. What do I mean by that? Well, journalism that touches on religion and politics tends to see religious viewpoints as carrying a special burden. It goes something like this: ‘Tell me, Mr. Pious, why a diverse population should accept your views on morality, considering they come from religion.’ ”
  6. Harvard Tramples the Truth (Martin Kulldorff,City Journal): “…as I discovered, truth can get you fired. This is my story—a story of a Harvard biostatistician and infectious-disease epidemiologist, clinging to the truth as the world lost its way during the Covid pandemic.… Two Harvard colleagues tried to arrange a debate between me and opposing Harvard faculty, but just as with Stanford, there were no takers. The invitation to debate remains open. The public should not trust scientists, even Harvard scientists, unwilling to debate their positions with fellow scientists.”
  7. How the Gaza Ministry of Health Fakes Casualty Numbers (Abraham Wyner, Tablet Magazine): “If Hamas’ numbers are faked or fraudulent in some way, there may be evidence in the numbers themselves that can demonstrate it. While there is not much data available, there is a little, and it is enough: From Oct. 26 until Nov. 10, 2023, the Gaza Health Ministry released daily casualty figures that include both a total number and a specific number of women and children.”
    • The author is a professor of statistics at the Wharton School, and I find his analysis compelling.

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

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 441

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

This is volume 441, which is 212 and also the smallest square which is the sum of six consecutive cubes: 13 + 23 + 33 + 43 + 53 + 63

No amusing stuff at the end this week. I’ve been busy traveling and am vastly underamused.😅

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Blessed Are Those Who Mourn (T. M. Suffield, Mere Orthodoxy): “Pennington describes the beatitudes as ‘divine gold of priceless worth’ that ‘appears to be only darkness.’ Like wisdom sayings they don’t give up their gold immediately. They are supposed to shock us and I fear we have become overly familiar with them. Jesus is arguing that flourishing, the good life, requires mourning. The thing the modern world wants to avoid most, sadness, is somehow a key to a good life. To us this appears to be profoundly non-flourishing. The shock we should feel is part of how the beatitudes are meant to work.”
    • This is a wise and perceptive essay. 10/10 recommend.
  2. How Feminism Ends (Ginevra Davis, American Affairs Journal): “If the goal of feminism is to improve the lot of females, then there are dozens of changes, social and scientific, that could help alleviate their condition. But if the goal of feminism is perfect sexual equality—that no mind should ever have to make sacrifices, in productivity or love, because of its body—then the end of feminism must, necessarily, mean the end of females. There is no other way.”
    • A long but fabulous essay. It’s by a Stanford grad, incidentally — this is the same author who wrote about Stanford’s war on fun a while back. I don’t think we ever crossed paths when she was a student.
    • Vaguely related (but interesting enough in its own right that I would have included it regardless): Stanford Medicine study identifies distinct brain organization patterns in women and men (Stanford Medicine): “A new study by Stanford Medicine investigators unveils a new artificial intelligence model that was more than 90% successful at determining whether scans of brain activity came from a woman or a man. The findings, published Feb. 20 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, help resolve a long-term controversy about whether reliable sex differences exist in the human brain and suggest that understanding these differences may be critical to addressing neuropsychiatric conditions that affect women and men differently.”
  3. I’m a foster kid who went to Yale —and I think two-parent families are more important than college (Rikki Schlott, New York Post): “Even though I was always academically inclined, the level of disorder in my life was weighing me down so much that I wasn’t in a position to fully exploit my own capabilities.… I had a class where a professor administered an anonymous poll. Out of the 20 students, 18 of them had been raised by both of their birth parents. That just floored me because where I grew up it was zero.”
  4. Kinda Nice (Damola Morenikeji, Substack): “A kind person will help you understand reality as it is, prompt you to reflect, and nudge you to fine-tune your position till you get to a place where your resolution is helpful for you. A nice person will tell you what feels good — and often what you think you want to hear at that time — even if it doesn’t help you move past that situation.”
  5. Our Unhappy Youth (Anthony Esolen, Crisis Magazine): “Instead of asking why they are unhappy, we might ask why they aren’t happy,which might in turn lead us to ask what they have to be happy about. That might reveal to us in all its drabness what appears to be the most antihuman way of life that any civilization has ever settled into: becalmed without rest, somber without sobriety, abstracted without thought, licentious without even the animal vigor of license; ever shouting, but without good cheer.”
  6. Are ‘Islamists in Charge of Britain’? (Konstantin Kisin, The Free Press): “In one sense, the Speaker’s decision was not unfounded. MPs really are at risk. Only weeks prior, Mike Freer, a Conservative MP who represents a constituency with a significant Jewish population, announced that he would not be seeking reelection because of threats to him and his family over his support for Israel. Explaining his decision, he revealed that he had started wearing stab-proof vests when meeting constituents. In 2021 another Conservative MP, Sir David Amess, was stabbed to death by an Islamist at such a meeting. In 2017, an Islamist terrorist mowed down pedestrians before stabbing an unarmed police officer to death outside the gates of Parliament.”
    • Recommended by an alumnus.
  7. Gaza’s Past Is Calling (Sarah Aziza, Lux Magazine): “Coming up in the 1990s and 2000s, the word ‘Gaza’ was already synonymous with ‘Hamas’ — a term which, I quickly learned, rendered an entire population monstrous. I am ashamed I often mumbled the name — Gaza — when white Americans asked about my family origins. It hurt to watch them flinch, to see in their cold stares the impossibility that Gaza could ever mean mothers, banana, joy. The world they erased — and erase — my father’s fingers, drawing in the sand. My grandmother’s pigeons, her particular way of brewing tea. The thousand, thousand feet that have run into the Mediterranean, each laughter a different splash. Gaza, for me, means teeming — a cruel over-concentration of bodies, yes, but at the same time, one of the world’s densest points of human love.”

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 439

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

This is volume 439, which is not only a prime number and the sum of three consecutive primes (139 + 149 + 151), but also the sum of nine consecutive primes (31 + 37 + 41 + 43 + 47 + 53 + 59 + 61 + 67). Which is, you know, a lotta primes.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. How Digital Apps Are Changing How We Read the Bible (John Dyer, Text & Canon): “I asked both groups to read the book of Jude and then tell me (1) what the point of the book was, and (2) how it made them feel. Interestingly, two opposite trends emerged. The print readers said they felt Jude was about God’s judgment while the phone readers tended to emphasize God’s faithfulness. But then, on the second question, their answers seemed to split. The print readers, who felt the book was about God’s judgment, said they were encouraged by the reading. The phone readers on the other hand who said Jude was about God’s faithfulness, said after reading it that they felt discouraged and confused. So what can account for that difference? Why is a judgmental God encouraging and a faithful God discouraging?”
  2. The Grand Canyon-Sized Chasm Between Elites and Ordinary Americans (Rob K. Henderson, Substack): “Perhaps the most striking divergence between elite and non-elite opinion: Although the majority of ordinary voters oppose the strict rationing of meat, electricity, and gas to fight climate change, 89% of Ivy graduates and 77% of elites overall are in favor of it.”
  3. What Happened When My Church Encountered Negative World (Patrick Miller, Mere Orthodoxy): “You can tell our church’s story in a way that makes us the victims of the progressives, but that’s not our full story. Nor is it the story of most non-coastal churches that refused to go pro-Trump or pro-Biden in 2020. Pastors at such churches will tell you the same story: The negative world bows before golden donkeys and elephants.”
  4. Sarah Isgur’s Majority Report (Kelefah Sanneh, The New Yorker): “Through the eyes of Isgur and French, the American legal system generally appears to be a place where smart people assess good-faith arguments and compose thoughtful essays explaining their decisions. Their underlying contention is that the Supreme Court is good, even, or perhaps especially, in its current incarnation.… In an era of aggrieved political discourse, Isgur is something unusual: a commentator who truly seems to love the government institution she covers.”
    • Advisory Opinions is one of my favorite podcasts and I’m not remotely a lawyer. Isgur and French are amazing.
  5. The Devil’s Face in Gaza (Gerald McDermott, First Things): “The minister of tourism, a rabbi, told an Israeli Christian leader, ‘We hope you send missionaries to the Arabs here.’ The Christian was shocked: ‘Don’t you hate missionaries?’ The government minister replied, ‘If you teach them what you believe, we will have peace in the Middle East.’”
  6. Some Stanford news:
    • Sit-in on Islamophobia replaces pro-Israel tent in White Plaza (Dilan Gohill, Stanford Daily): “Organizers set up the Sit-in to Stop Islamophobia on the White Plaza lawn — a space previously occupied by the Blue and White Tent. Tent organizers told The Daily they made an indefinite reservation through Cardinal Engage. According to Feigelis, University administration told the Sit-In to Stop Islamophobia that the space was reserved for the Blue and White Tent. He said as long as the sit-in refuses to relocate, the tent cannot reassemble. The Daily has reached out to the University for comment. ‘We did not move your stuff — the wind destroyed it, you cleaned it up. We saw an open space, we set up here, we’re happy to coexist.’ El Boudali said. He added that organizers set up in White Plaza due to its high traffic.”
    • Stanford students protest new ban on overnight sit-in camping (Lauren Irwin, The Hill): “Stanford said its level of concern has risen to a point that it can no longer support overnight activities.”
    • Read the official Stanford statement: Preserving free speech and safety on White Plaza (Stanford News): “Moving forward, any tents, tables, chairs, or other similar items will need to be removed from White Plaza between the hours of 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. Any overnight displays and/or camping items left unoccupied are subject to removal for health and safety reasons. Students who violate the no-camping policy will be subject to a disciplinary referral to the Office of Community Standards and may also be cited for trespass for failing to comply with a university directive.”
    • And not exactly Stanford news, but not not Stanford news: Law schools must adopt free speech policies to maintain ABA accreditation (Lexi Lonas, The Hill): “The new standard requires schools to adopt a policy that would allow faculty, students and staff ‘to communicate ideas that may be controversial or unpopular, including through robust debate, demonstrations or protests,’ and would forbid activities that disrupt or impinge on free speech. But it wouldn’t impose specific policy language,’”’ the statement added.”
  7. The Political Preferences of LLMs (David Rozado, Substack): “When probed with questions/statements with political connotations most conversational LLMs tend to generate responses that are diagnosed by most political test instruments as manifesting preferences for left-of-center viewpoints. This does not appear to be the case for base (i.e. foundation) models upon which LLMs optimized for conversation with humans are built. Though not conclusive, our results provide supporting evidence for the intriguing hypothesis that the embedding of political preferences into LLMs might be happening mostly post-pretraining. Namely, during the supervised fine-tuning (SFT) and/or Reinforcement Learning (RL) stages of the conversational LLMs training pipeline.”
    • In other words, the AI tools we see appear to have political preferences trained into them by the companies that are creating them, although it is not clear to what extent this is deliberately being done.
    • The author is a professor of data science in New Zealand — https://drozado.github.io/

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

  • History of Japan (Bill Wurz, YouTube): nine amazing minutes — genuinely worth your time if you have any interest in Japan at all. Or in how to teach history using video. He leaves a bunch out and definitely throws his opinion around, but it’s hard to see how he could have done anything else in nine minutes. Really good.

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.