Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 45

On Fridays I share articles/resources I have found helpful recently in thinking about broader cultural, societal and theological issues. Be sure to see the explanation and disclaimers at the bottom.

This week there are a few more links than normal. Enjoy!

  1. New Evidence On When The Bible Was Written: Ancient Shopping Lists (Isabel Kershner, New York Times): “One of the longstanding arguments for why the main body of biblical literature was not written down in anything like its present form until after the destruction and exile of 586 B.C. is that before then there was not enough literacy or enough scribes to support such a huge undertaking. But if the literacy rates in the Arad fortress were repeated across the kingdom of Judah, which had about 100,000 people, there would have been hundreds of literate people, the Tel Aviv research team suggests.” — also check out the AP/Guardian on this.
  2. Is Porn Immoral? That Doesn’t Matter: It’s a Public Health Crisis (Gaile Dines, Washington Post): “After 40 years of peer‐reviewed research, scholars can say with confidence that porn is an industrial product that shapes how we think about gender, sexuality, relationships, intimacy, sexual violence and gender equality — for the worse…. just as the tobacco industry argued for decades that there was no proof of a connection between smoking and lung cancer, so, too, has the porn industry, with the help of a well‐oiled public relations machine, denied the existence of empirical research on the impact of its products.”
  3. Facebook Employees Asked Mark Zuckerberg If They Should Try To Stop A Donald Trump Presidency (Michael Nunez, Gizmodo): “Facebook has toyed with skewing news in the past. During the 2008 presidential election, Facebook secretly tampered with 1.9 million user’s news feeds. An academic paper was published about the secret experiment, claiming that Facebook increased voter turnout by more than 340,000 people. In 2010, the company tampered with news feeds again. It conducted a 61‐million‐person experiment to see how Facebook could impact the real‐world voting behavior of millions of people. In 2012, Facebook deliberately experimented on its users’ emotions.  The company, again, secretly tampered with the news feeds of 700,000 people and concluded that Facebook can basically make you feel whatever it wants you to.
  4. I Was A Closeted Christian At The Pentagon (Matthew Spence, Washington Post): “I feared how coming out as a practicing Christian would define me. I worried that my bosses, peers and subordinates might associate me with American officials who have spoken of U.S. military engagements in the Middle East as ‘crusades’ or with the Islamic State’s declaration of holy war. I feared that talking about my faith would detract from the logic of my arguments. And, as a relatively young person in a senior position, I needed every scrap of credibility I could claim.”
  5. Why Jesus’ Skin Color Matters (Christena Cleveland, Christianity Today):  “While Christ the Lord transcends skin color and racial divisions, white Jesus has real consequences.”
  6. Houston police officer presents a few “double‐edged sword” scenarios regarding body cameras (reddit): unintended consequences are always difficult to predict.
  7. Was It Wrong To Hack and Leak the Panama Papers? (Tyler Cowen, blog): surprisingly stimulating.
  8. Onward Christian Soldiers: In the Era of Trump‐Style Politics, Evangelical Voters Are Not a Monolith (Julie Lyons, Houston Press): this is a very insightful and data‐rich article.
  9. The Tensions Threatening the Future of Religious Freedom Law (Kelsey Dallas, Deseret News): this is a very good summary of the current state of religious freedom legislation.
  10. Christianity and Korea (Dave Hazzan, The Diplomat): “Evangelical zeal to send missionaries to places most others would never go – including Afghanistan, Iraq, Jordan, and Yemen – have caused headaches for the government. In 2007, after ignoring the government’s advice, 27 Korean missionaries to Afghanistan were kidnapped by the Taliban, and two were killed. In 2009, the Korean foreign ministry warned Korean Christians to stop missionizing in Arab countries, fearing it was making Koreans terrorist targets.”9
  11. Kinda Random

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).

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.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 44

On Fridays I share articles/resources I have found helpful recently in thinking about broader cultural, societal and theological issues. Be sure to see the explanation and disclaimers at the bottom.

  1. How Covenants Make Us (David Brooks, NYT): “A contract protects interests, Pally notes, but a covenant protects relationships. A covenant exists between people who understand they are part of one another. It involves a vow to serve the relationship that is sealed by love: Where you go, I will go. Where you stay, I will stay. Your people shall be my people. People in a contract provide one another services, but people in a covenant delight in offering gifts.”
  2. When Religious Groups Do What the Government Won’t (Alana Semuels, The Atlantic): interesting throughout.
  3. Let’s Make Football A College Major (David Johnson, Aeon): I am largely persuaded. If a performance art can be a major, then why not a sport such as football? At least give athletes academic credit for the work they put in.
  4. Is It Time for American Christians to Disobey the Government? (David Koyzis, Christianity Today): the piece is much less alarmist than the title suggests. Worth reading.
  5. PIN Analysis (Nick Berry, blog): this is a pretty cool analysis of the distribution of four digit PIN codes.
  6. Finally, some articles by students in or alumni from our ministry. If you get something published, be sure to let me know!

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).

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. Your suggestions are welcome.

 

 

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 42

On Fridays I share articles/resources I have found helpful recently in thinking about broader cultural, societal and theological issues. Be sure to see the explanation and disclaimers at the bottom.

  1. Jesus of Nazareth, Whose Messianic Message Captivated Thousands, Dies at About 33 (Sam Roberts, Vanity Fair): What would Jesus’ New York Times obituary have looked like? Clever, well‐done, and Good Friday appropriate.
  2. Anatomy of Doubt (Ira Glass, This American Life): this is an amazing, disturbing story. There are companion print pieces as well, but listen to the podcast. 
  3. Do We Still Need Prisons? (Paul Kirby, Volteface): this article by David Cameron’s former director of public policy is full of creative ideas. Two related thoughts worth pondering: the Bible never commands a government to build prisons, and Jesus said He came to set the prisoners free.
  4. How well online dating works, according to someone who has been studying it for years (Roberto Ferdman, Wonkblog): this an interview with a Stanford prof.  “It’s kind of superficial. But it’s superficial because we’re kind of superficial; it’s like that because humans are like that. Judging what someone else looks like first is not an attribute of technology, it’s an attribute of how we look at people. Dating, both modern and not, is a fairly superficial endeavor.”
  5. A Dialog On Race and Speech at Yale (Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic): the columnist has a very insightful email interchange with a Yale undergrad.
  6. Banning Credit Checks Harms African‐Americans (Tyler Cowen): “In states that passed credit‐check bans, it  became easier for people with bad credit histories to compete for employment. But disproportionately, they seem to have elbowed aside black job‐seekers.” — read a more thorough summary at Wonkblog.
  7. A cluster of voices speaking about the religious freedom case recently argued before the Supreme Court:
    • Stanford professor Michael McConnell’s take on the oral arguments: “At a time of rising divisiveness and polarization, it would be greatly calming if the Court could unite in this case to protect the rights of many with absolutely no injury to anyone else, or to the public good.”
    • Religious Freedom Deserves Deference: Our View Editorial Board, USA Today): “To imagine that non‐profits whose very existence is tied to religion do not deserve more deference than for‐profit businesses is quite a stretch.”
    • Little Sisters, Big Case (Russell Moore, The Hill): “Over 100 million Americans don’t have health plans that must offer the government’s drugs. The government exempts big businesses such as Exxon and big municipalities such as New York City, and does so just to reduce administrative inconvenience for these entities. The government even exempts itself, refusing to require the U.S. military—the nation’s largest employer—to provide the same drugs they want to force the Little Sisters of the Poor to provide.”
  8. Quick Links

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).

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.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 34

Here are some things I found interesting this week. See the bottom for context.

  1. On The Viability of Conspiratorial Beliefs (David Robert Grimes, PLOS One): Oxford physicist Grimes came up with an equation that shows how likely a conspiracy will be to succeed under ideal conditions. Of particular interest is the chart on the bottom of page 11, showing that a conspiracy with more than 502 people has a 95% likelihood of exposure after just 25 years. Reading that puts 1 Corinthians 15:3–6 in a new light: “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.” Please note that there are all kinds of assumptions in the paper that are subject to challenge… but if one of your friends brings this study up you should mention this passage to them. 🙂
  2. Certitude And Seeking The Truth (Peter Wehner, Commentary). Recommended by an alumnus (the recommendation was actually for a blog post excerpting this article, but I thought the whole thing was worth reading — it aligns nicely with my disclaimer at the bottom).
  3. My Major, Myself: (Olga Khazan, The Atlantic). What does your major reveal (probabilistically) about your personality?
  4. Why Humans Find It Hard To Do Away With Religion (John Gray, The New Statesman): Gray is himself an atheist. My favorite line: “The inveterate human inclination to religion is, in effect, the atheist problem of evil.” This isn’t quite right but it is amusing.
  5. People Can Be Convinced They Committed A Non‐Existant Crime In Just Three Hours (Bec Crew, Science Alert). Disturbing. This is a summary of the findings of an academic paper: Constructing Rich False Memories of Committing Crime (Shaw & Porter, Psychological Science).
  6. How Religion Is Shaping the 2016 Presidential Race (Pew Research). If politics is your thing, this article will be interesting.
  7. Are Academics Disproportionately Gay? (Colleen Flaherty, Inside Higher Education). The tl;dr version is yes.

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.

To that end, on Fridays I’ve been sharing articles/resources I have found helpful recently in thinking about broader cultural, societal and theological issues (be sure to see the disclaimer at the bottom). 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).

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.

Past emails are archived at http://glenandpaula.com/wordpress/category/links

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 32

In the time of King David, the tribe of Issachar produced shrewd warriors “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chron 12:32). In a similar way, we need to become wise people whose faith interacts with the world.

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

Without further ado, I give you the interesting things:

  1. This Is What Makes Republicans and Democrats So Different (Vox, Ezra Klein): I was skeptical of this piece, but it’s insightful.
  2. Recognition: How A Travesty Led to Criminal‐Justice Innovation In Texas  (New Yorker, Paul Kix): this is a powerful article with a heartbreaking story at its center.
  3. North Korea Gets Competition: The Top 50 Countries Where It’s Now Hardest To Be A Christian (Christianity Today, Sarah Zylstra). Sobering and sadly unsurprising. “2014 was the world’s worst year for the persecution of Christians in the modern era. Until 2015 surpassed it.”
  4. College Party Culture and Sexual Assault (NBER, Lindo, Siminksi, Swensen): “We find significant and robust evidence that football game days increase reports of rape victimization among 17–24 year old women by 28 percent. Home games increase reports by 41 percent on the day of the game and away games increase reports by 15 percent.” They propose parties associated with the game as a causal mechanism.
  5. 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.
  6. Shorter Pieces:

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.

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.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 24

News News News 98/365In the time of King David, the tribe of Issachar produced shrewd warriors “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chron 12:32). In a similar way, we need to become wise people whose faith interacts with the world.

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

Without further ado, I give you the interesting things:

  1. I heard a moving Radiolab episode: Gray’s Donation. If you’ve never listened to Radiolab before, I highly recommend the episodes Colors and Oops. If you’re into podcasts, check out a list of thoughtful Christian podcasts I compiled a while back.
  2. ’A Tour of Burned Churches’ Explores Race, Resilience, and Religion in America (Huffington Post, Christopher Mathias): an interview with a podcaster about a series he did on the burning of black churches in America. I have not listened to the series, but the interview was good.
  3. Data about Adults Who Do Not Believe In God (Pew Forum) — one of the charts makes me think of a funny clip about atheism as white privilege [the whole thing is worth watching, but you can jump to the sound bite at 5:45]. There is a good summary of some of the takeaways at GetReligion. On a related note, there is a study in Current Biology: The Negative Association Between Religiousness and Children’s Altruism Across The World. The comments on reddit are interesting (more interesting to me than the study itself).
  4. A somewhat contrarian piece: Liberals Are Losing The Culture War (Molly Ball, The Atlantic). A semi‐response piece: This Isn’t A Culture War, It’s A War On Culture (The Federalist, David Harsanyi).
  5. File under sad: The State Department Turns Its Back on Syrian Christians and Other Non‐Muslim Refugees (National Review, Nina Shea)
  6. The story I alluded to in my sermon: How Prop 47 Helped One Man Keep His Job (KQED,  Sara Hossaini). This is an illustration of what justification involves — a legal decree that exempts you from penalties the law would otherwise apply (when I quote stuff in my sermon I try to remember to share it here).
  7. Quick Links:

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.

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