Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 234

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

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Reflections on Intersectionality (Coleman Hughes, Quillette): “I don’t know what proportion of students at elite schools are part of the intersectional subculture. But it is common enough that I never go more than a few days without encountering it. As a crude point of comparison, I’m more likely to meet a committed intersectionalist on any given day at Columbia than I am to meet a committed vegetarian, and much more likely than I am to meet a committed Christian.”
  2. The United States is Starved for Talent (Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution): “Overall, getting (approximately) one extra high‐skilled [H1‐B] worker causes a 23% increase in the probability of a successful IPO within five years (a 1.5 percentage point increase in the baseline probability of 6.6%). That’s a huge effect. Remember, these startups have access to a labor pool of 160 million workers.”
  3. Why Bad Things Must Happen to Good People (Nathaniel Givens, Public Square): “It’s also fair to say that when we know in advance the boundaries of the bad that can happen, we can hedge our bets and selectively choose our course through life to optimize risk and reward. The problem isn’t that we will make different decisions under conditions like these. The problem is that we will make them for different reasons.” A Mormon take on theodicy, quite interesting and not contingent on Mormon distinctives.
  4. Australian raptors start fires to flush out prey (John Pickrell, Cosmos): “Black kites (Milvus migrans), whistling kites (Haliastur sphenurus) and brown falcons (Falco berigora) all regularly congregate near the edges of bushfires, taking advantage of an exodus of small lizards, mammals, birds and insects – but it appears that some may have learnt not only to use fire to their advantage, but also to control it.”
  5. Big Data+Small Bias « Small Data+Zero Bias (Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution): “Suppose you want to estimate who will win the 2016 US Presidential election. You ask 2.3 million potential voters whether they are likely to vote for Trump or not. The sample is in all ways demographically representative of the US voting population but potential Trump voters are a tiny bit less likely to answer the question, just .001 less likely to answer (note they don’t lie, they just don’t answer).” I was stunned.
  6. Coach O. Vs. The Acela Gradgrind (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “You’d think that the media elites would by now have learned the cost to their own credibility of not understanding this country. But they keep being surprised. Nobody expects a New York Times editorial writer to agree with the decision to cancel college classes because of a football game. But one would like to think that a man of the world such as himself would have enough sense to think about why this decision might have been made, and what it says about cultural difference. I suspect if the LSU Board of Supervisors had cancelled classes for Transgender Day Of Remembrance, the New York Times editorial board would have wet its collective pants with delight.”
    • Related: Where Ivy Matters: The Educational Backgrounds of U.S. Cultural Elites (Brint et al, Sociology of Education): “We find that the leading U.S. educational institutions are substantially more important for preparing future members of the cultural elite than they are for preparing future members of the business or political elite. In addition, members of the cultural elite who are recognized for outstanding achievements by peers and experts are much more likely to have obtained degrees from the leading educational institutions than are those who achieve acclaim from popular audiences.”
  7. Seeing Both Sides (Andrew Bunt, Think Theology): “One of the things I find most difficult about being a celibate gay/same‐sex attracted Christian is when I feel a strong attraction to a specific guy.”

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have The Weight of Glory (C.S. Lewis): It was originally preached as a sermon and then printed in a theology magazine. Related: see the C. S. Lewis Doodle YouTube channel – it’s really good! (first shared in volume 36)

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

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

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 232

On Fridays I share articles/resources about broad cultural, societal and theological issues. Be sure to see the explanation and disclaimers at the bottom.

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

Things Glen Found Interesting

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

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

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

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

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

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 230

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

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The Lesson To Unlearn (Paul Graham, personal blog): “The most damaging thing you learned in school wasn’t something you learned in any specific class. It was learning to get good grades.” Stanford students: if you feel attacked, you are. He is aiming at you. Worth pondering.
  2. The Christians I Know (Eboo Patel, Inside Higher Ed): “Too often when I talk about the importance of positively engaging religious identity in a progressive higher ed space, the first question that gets asked is this: ‘Christians hate gays and refugees and poor people, so why should I create a space for their identities?’ That’s the same view of Christians that bigots have of Muslims: knowing only the bad stuff. My hope is that people will remember that Christians often start and run the programs that provide direct service to those very people when they are suffering the most.”
  3. British Evangelicals Brace for Brexit (Ken Chitwood, Christianity Today): “The generally pro‐remain stance of British evangelicals might be surprising to some. However, political scientist Andrea Hatcher of the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, found British evangelicals are ‘less boundaried’ and generally ‘more internationalist in outlook’ than either their Anglican and Pentecostal peers or US evangelicals. They are also more willing to work across political divides.” I find this interesting for several reasons, one of which is the way the author separates Pentecostals from evangelicals. Is that a UK thing? In the USA Pentecostals are generally seen as a subset of evangelicals.
    • Related: The Beginning of the End of the United Kingdom (First Things): “It may seem hysterical to proclaim the end to a country that has basically existed in its present form—minus the Republic of Ireland, of course—since 1707. But the evidence is building by the day. In thirty years, it is far more likely than not that the United Kingdom will not exist. What will exist is an England that will be poorer, fractured between the London elite and the rest of the country, and possibly subject to demographic factionalism.”
    • Related: The Blundering Brilliance of Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Andrew Sullivan, New York Magazine): “It is this aspect of Boris’s politics that some of his close allies insist has been misunderstood. He has done what no other conservative leader in the West has done: He has co‐opted and thereby neutered the far right. The reactionary Brexit Party has all but collapsed since Boris took over. Anti‐immigration fervor has calmed. The Tories have also moved back to the economic and social center under Johnson’s leadership. And there is a strategy to this. What Cummings and Johnson believe is that the E.U., far from being an engine for liberal progress, has, through its overreach and hubris, actually become a major cause of the rise of the far right across the Continent. By forcing many very different countries into one increasingly powerful Eurocratic rubric, the E.U. has spawned a nationalist reaction.” This one is long but really good. If you enjoy it, I super highly recommend a very amusing article about Boris Johnson I shared back in volume 208 (scroll down to the funny section).
  4. Religion, Retention, and Why We Stay or Go (Ryan Burge, Christianity Today): “What to make of all this? First, evangelicals are doing a good job of keeping people inside the tent…. The other thing worth pondering is that almost no one is moving toward Catholicism or mainline Protestant Christianity. Instead, the movement is all at the edges of the spectrum — evangelicals on one end, and the nones on the other.” The author is a professor of political science at Eastern Illinois University and is himself an ex‐evangelical. 
  5. A guide to having an actually happy Christmas (Tim Harford, personal blog): “Mr Mutz found that Christians felt happier at Christmas, while others felt less happy. Similarly Messrs Kasser and Sheldon found that people who spent more time with their families or engaging in religious practices tended to have a better time of things. Consumerism fared less well, according to Messrs Kasser and Sheldon; for all the money and effort buying and wrapping gifts, the activity ‘apparently contributes little to holiday joy’.”
  6. 200 Researchers, 5 Hypotheses, No Consistent Answers (Christie Aschwanden, Wired): “When various research teams designed their own means of testing the very same set of research questions, they came up with divergent, and in some cases opposing, results. The crowdsourced study is a dramatic demonstration of an idea that’s been widely discussed in light of the reproducibility crisis—the notion that subjective decisions researchers make while designing their studies can have an enormous impact on their observed results. Whether through p‐hacking or via the choices they make as they wander the garden of forking paths, researchers may intentionally or inadvertently nudge their results toward a particular conclusion.” I don’t think this is surprising to anyone who knows many scientists, but it’s definitely interesting.
  7. Are We in the Midst of a Transgender Murder Epidemic? (Willfred Reilly, Quillette): “The Human Rights Campaign maintains a year‐by‐year database containing every known case of a transgender individual being killed by violent means, and gives this number as 29 in 2017, 26 in 2018, and 22 in 2019. Not only do these figures not reflect a year‐by‐year increase in attacks on trans persons—they are remarkably consistent, and may be trending slightly downwards—they also indicate that the trans murder rate is significantly lower than the murder rate for Americans overall.” Any number of murders is too many. Still, I found this interesting because I hear the contrary so often. In light of the previous article, if you know opposing research I’d like to see it. The author is a professor of political science at Kentucky State University.

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have Reading The Whole Bible in 2016: A FAQ (Gospel Coalition, Justin Taylor): How much time each day would it take you to read the entire Bible in a year? “There are about 775,000 words in the Bible. Divided by 365, that’s 2,123 words a day. The average person reads 200 to 250 words per minute. So 2,123 words/day divided by 225 words/minute equals 9.4 minutes a day.” This article is full of good advice for what could be the best commitment you make all year. Do it! (first shared in volume 31 — useful for any year)

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

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

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 229

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

Things Glen Found Interesting

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

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

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

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

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

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 227

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.

In case you were wondering, so far I have found the impeachment hearings and the commentary on them uninteresting. Let me know if you read something fascinating about them, though.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The Dishonesty of the Abortion Debate (Caitlin Flanagan, The Atlantic): “The argument for abortion, if made honestly, requires many words: It must evoke the recent past, the dire consequences to women of making a very simple medical procedure illegal. The argument against it doesn’t take even a single word. The argument against it is a picture…. The truth is that the best argument on each side is a damn good one, and until you acknowledge that fact, you aren’t speaking or even thinking honestly about the issue. You certainly aren’t going to convince anybody. Only the truth has the power to move.”
    • This article has received praise from across the ideological spectrum. There is an interesting Twitter response thread by Charlie Camosy, a professor of ethics at Fordham. 
  2. India is trying to build the world’s biggest facial recognition system (Julie Zaugg, CNN): “‘We were able to match 10,561 missing children with those living in institutions,’ he told CNN. ‘They are currently in the process of being reunited with their families.’ Most of them were victims of trafficking, forced to work in the fields, in garment factories or in brothels, according to Ribhu. This momentous undertaking was made possible by facial recognition technology provided by New Delhi’s police. ‘There are over 300,000 missing children in India and over 100,000 living in institutions,’ he explained. ‘We couldn’t possibly have matched them all manually.’”
    • That’s a really wonderful use of the technology and it makes me very afraid, because the obvious positive uses are likely to prevent us from building in adequate legal safeguards against the outlandish tyrannical power this technology makes possible.
  3. Mental Health, Bullying, Career Uncertainty (Colleen Flaherty, Inside Higher Ed): “More than a third of Ph.D. students have sought help for anxiety or depression caused by Ph.D. study, according to results of a global survey of 6,300 students from Nature. Thirty‐six percent is a very large share, considering that many students who suffer don’t reach out for help. Still, the figure parallels those found by other studies on the topic. A 2018 study of mostly Ph.D. students, for instance, found that 39 percent of respondents scored in the moderate‐to‐severe depression range. That’s compared to 6 percent of the general population measured with the same scale.”
  4. Pete Buttigieg wants to build a bridge to the religious right. But tension within his in‐laws’ family highlights how difficult that may be. (Amy B. Wang, Washington Post): “Three days after Christmas 2017, Rhyan Glezman got a text from his youngest brother, Chasten, saying he was engaged to his boyfriend of 2½ years — Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Ind. Rhyan, an evangelical Christian pastor, texted back: ‘I love you and is the only reason I’m going to share this one question to you. Are you willing to surrender to God ‘the one who created you and I’ to whatever he says? I love you beyond what you will ever think or know. I think the world of you and Pete, you need to know that. Have a great day brother!!!’”
  5. Why my college pals went to Yale while my high school friends went to jail (Rob Henderson, NY Post): “It is fascinating to hear affluent people discuss the reasons for upward mobility. They suggest solutions like ‘opportunity’ and ‘education.’ Seldom do they mention ‘parents’ or ‘family.’ This is why: Affluent people take their families for granted. They’re so used to having stable families, it doesn’t occur to them what it would be like to go without. It’s like asking a fish about the importance of water.”
    • This is something I’ve been fascinated by for years — Stanford students are far more likely to come from intact families than are the students I meet while doing retreats for other Chi Alphas. The author is a doctoral candidate in psychology at Cambridge.
  6. Statement from Medill Dean Charles Whitaker (Northwestern University):”…I patently reject the notion that our students have no right to report on communities other than those from which they hail, and I will never affirm that students who do not come from marginalized communities cannot understand or accurately convey the struggles of those populations. And, unlike our young charges at The Daily, who in a heartfelt, though not well‐considered editorial, apologized for their work on the Sessions story, I absolutely will not apologize for encouraging our students to take on the much‐needed and very difficult task of reporting on our life and times at Northwestern and beyond.” This is straight fire. Recommended by an alumnus.
    • The backstory: Jeff Sessions (former US Attorney General) spoke at Northwestern University. The campus paper covered the event and the protestors, and received sharp criticism from activists for so doing. The editorial board of the Daily Northwestern issued an apology via op‐ed. A lot of people (including high‐profile professional journalists) expressed strong opinions about the coverage of the event and the apology, and this is the dean’s response.
  7. The Place of Christian Religion in the American Founding (Thomas Tacoma, Public Discourse): “Take the notion that ‘almost all’ of the American founders were deists. Ethan Allen was the lone confirmed American deist of any influence in the founding period. Thomas Paine, who spent relatively little time in the United States—and became deeply unpopular in America after writing The Age of Reason—was the era’s other famous deist. Jefferson, Adams, and Franklin were much quieter about their heterodox beliefs, and even they were not dyed‐in‐the‐wool deists. Franklin, for example, often spoke of Providence, and of a God who did in fact intervene in the affairs of men.” The author is a history professor at Blue Mountain College and is reviewing a book by Mark Hall, a professor of political science at George Fox University.

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have On Obstinacy In Belief (C.S. Lewis, The Sewanee Review): this is a rewarding essay from way back in 1955. (first shared in volume 6)

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

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

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 216

On Fridays I share articles/resources about broad cultural, societal and theological issues. Be sure to see the explanation and disclaimers at the bottom. No, really. I mean them and they matter. I welcome your suggestions, so if you read something fascinating please pass it my way.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The Cops Who Abused Photoshop (Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic): this is outrageous. Difficult to excerpt, but well worth reading. Recommended by a student.
  2. How Pornography Makes Us Less Human and Less Humane (Matthew Lee Anderson, The Gospel Coalition): “Beneath pornography is the supposition that the mere fact of our desire for a woman makes us worthy of her. And so, not being bound by any kind of norm, desire must proceed endlessly. It is no surprise that the industrialized, cheap‐and‐easy sex of pornography has answered and evoked an almost unrestrained sexual greed, which allows us to be gods and goddesses within the safety of our own fantasies. It is for deep and important reasons that the Ten Commandments use the economic language of ‘coveting’ to describe the badness of errant sexual desires.” Many insights in this essay.
    1. Related: In the Face of Sexual Temptation, Repression Is a Sure‐Fire Failure (Rachel Gilson, Christianity Today): “Repression and avoidance are ultimately human‐centered responses. They stuff desire, suffocate it, banish it, and yet rarely succeed at engendering true purity. By contrast, Christian asceticism reminds us that we are not stronger than desire and then invites us to cast our gaze toward the One who is. It asks the Christian to follow the sight line of desire—like looking down the barrel of a gun—and train it on what all desire is ultimately satisfied by: the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:6).”
    2. Related What Genetics Is Teaching Us About Sexuality (Steven M. Phelps and Robbee Wedow, New York Times): “…genetic differences account for roughly one‐third of the variation in same‐sex behavior.” The authors are professors (one of biology at UT Austin and the other of sociology at Harvard). They are also both gay men. They are reflecting on research published in the journal Science: Large‐scale GWAS reveals insights into the genetic architecture of same‐sex sexual behavior (which Wedow coauthored).
  3. What Majority‐World Missions Really Looks Like (Dorcas Cheng‐Tozun, Christianity Today): “In 2015, 9 of the top 20 sending countries—including Brazil, the Philippines, China, India, Nigeria, and South Africa—were in the majority world (also referred to as the developing world), with a total of 101,000 international missionaries.” For context, the combined total is close to the number sent from the USA.
  4. Why do Chinese people like their government? (Kaiser Kuo, SupChina): “It’s the rare person who can truly separate, at both an intellectual and an emotional level, criticism of his or her country from criticism of his or her country’s government — especially if that government is not, at present, terribly embattled and is delivering basic public goods in a reasonably competent manner.”
    1. Related: 9 questions about the Hong Kong protests you were too embarrassed to ask (Jen Kirby, Vox): “”What began as a targeted protest against a controversial extradition bill in June has transformed into what feels like a battle for the future of Hong Kong. Protesters are not just fighting their local government. They’re challenging one of the most powerful countries on earth: China.
    2. Related: Hong Kong Democracy Activists Arrested Ahead Of Planned March (Emily Feng & Scott Neuman, NPR): “Joshua Wong, Hong Kong’s most famous pro‐democracy leader, was arrested on Friday along with fellow activists and politicians in what appeared to be a coordinated sweep by the city’s police ahead of a mass anti‐government march that had been planned for the weekend.”
    3. Related: The One United Struggle For Freedom (David Brooks, New York Times): “Many suspect America will never step in to help. The American right no longer believes in spreading democracy to foreigners. The American left embraces a national narrative that emphasizes slavery and oppression, not that America is a beacon or an example. Neither party any longer sees America as a vanguard nation whose very mission is to advance universal democracy and human dignity.”
    4. Related: China’s Spies Are On The Offensive (Mike Giglio, The Atlantic): “Espionage and counterespionage have been essential tools of statecraft for centuries, of course, and U.S. and Chinese intelligence agencies have been battling one another for decades. But what these recent cases suggest is that the intelligence war is escalating—that China has increased both the scope and the sophistication of its efforts to steal secrets from the U.S.” Recommended by a student.
  5. Why Everything They Say About The Amazon, Including That It’s The ‘Lungs Of The World,’ Is Wrong (Michael Shellenberger, Forbes): “‘What is happening in the Amazon is not exceptional,’ said Coutinho. ‘Take a look at Google web searches search for ‘Amazon’ and ‘Amazon Forest’ over time. Global public opinion was not as interested in the ‘Amazon tragedy’ when the situation was undeniably worse. The present moment does not justify global hysteria.’ And while fires in Brazil have increased, there is no evidence that Amazon forest fires have.” I found this article quite informative.
  6. The Trump Administration Sides With Nurses Who Object to Abortion (Emma Green, The Atlantic): “Beyond its outcome, this case is a signal of the Trump administration’s priorities: It sees religious freedom and conscience protections as central parts of American civil rights, and officials plan to enforce those laws.”
    1. Related: By their tweets you will know them: The Democrats’ continuing God gap (Ryan Burge, Religion News Service): “While the Nones have grown dramatically over the last 20 years, it’s still important to realize that more than six in ten Americans identify as a Christian, according to the 2018 Cooperative Congressional Election Study. If Democrats want to win back the White House, it would behoove them to reach out to those Christian voters. However, at least on social media, Democratic candidates fail to do so.”
    2. Related: Democratic Party embraces nonreligious voters, criticizes ‘religious liberty’ in new resolution (Caleb Parke, Fox News): “The Democratic National Committee (DNC) passed a resolution Saturday praising the values of ‘religiously unaffiliated’ Americans as the ‘largest religious group within the Democratic Party.’ The resolution, which was unanimously passed at the DNC’s summer meeting on Aug. 24 in San Francisco, Calif., was championed by the Secular Coalition of America, an organization that lobbies on behalf of atheists, agnostics, and humanists on public policy.”
    3. Related: Michael Wear’s commentary on Twitter: “I just want to be clear. This is both politically stupid, but also, just stupid on a fundamental level that transcends electoral politics.” (Wear was an Obama staffer)
  7. Let’s have open borders for people and closed borders for capital (Jeff Spross, The Week): “…human beings aren’t the only things that cross borders: goods, services, and financial capital do it all the time as well. A better response to Trump might not be to debate whether borders should be enforced, but rather enforced against what? Specifically, the left‐progressive position on borders should be something like: maximum enforcement against the movement of financial capital, moderate enforcement against goods and services, and minimal enforcement against people.”
    1. Related: Christianity and Capitalism Reconsidered (Alan Jacobs, personal blog): “[the claim] that capitalism makes us wealthier, lets us live longer, and improves our ethics — could be right and even so Christianity and capitalism might not be compatible. Maybe God doesn’t want us to be richer and longer‐lived, and maybe there are certain matters of faithfulness that transcend what most people call ‘ethics.’”

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have Eat, Pray, Code: Rule of St. Benedict Becomes Tech Developer’s Community Guidelines (Kate Shellnutt, Christianity Today): “SQLite—a database management engine used in most major browsers, smart phones, Adobe products, and Skype—adopted a code of ethics pulled directly from the biblical precepts set by the venerated sixth‐century monk.” This article blew my mind. First shared in volume 175.

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 212

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

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Tourist Journalism Versus the Working Class (Kevin Mims, Quillette): “To university‐educated media professionals like Carole Cadwalladr, James Bloodworth, and John Oliver, an Amazon warehouse must seem like the Black Hole of Calcutta. But I’ve done low‐paying manual labor for most of my working life, and rarely have I appreciated a job as much as my role as an Amazon associate.” I learned many things from this article.
  2. Sixteen and Evangelical (Laura Turner, Slate): “A world without God wouldn’t make sense to me. But it now makes sense to many of my friends. I finally understand that we never had a shared faith structure. We went to the same church, some of us for years. We heard the same sermons, slept in the same cabins at camp, read the same books of the Bible, listened to the same music. But we went home to different families.” The author is John & Nancy Ortberg’s daughter.
  3. Stanford University Reportedly Bans All Martial Arts Groups Without Warning Over Email (Jin Hyun, NextShark): “According to Choi, the university’s justification behind the shutdown can be summarized in four points: ‘the groups like to unofficially practice during dead week, they recruit professional, internationally renowned coaches to run their practices, they compete and regularly win national championships without University help, they participate heavily in the local community by teaching students, alumni, and community members.’”
    • Stanford often seems conflicted about whether its undergrads are future leaders to be empowered or liabilities to be micromanaged.
  4. As administrators walk back ‘insufficient’ response, police reveal noose may have been on campus since March (Elena Shao and Daniel Martinez‐Krams, Stanford Daily): “The new information comes amid criticism of University administrators’ response to the incident, and one day after they held a solidarity rally and town hall. A self‐care event is scheduled to take place Friday afternoon.” There have been a lot of articles about this — but this once grabbed me with the tidbit in the headline. SINCE MARCH?
  5. On Court Prophets and Wilderness Prophets  (Timothy Dalrymple, Christianity Today): “Whether you view Trump as a David or an Antipas, whether you serve at the court of the resplendent king or stand over against the court from the wilderness, one thing Nathan and John the Baptist held in common was that both were willing to condemn unrighteousness in their rulers—even if it cost them everything.”
    • Also political: The Democratic Party Is Actually Three Parties (Thomas Edsall, New York Times): “What the data demonstrates is that the group containing the largest proportion of minority voters is the most skeptical of some of the most progressive policies embraced by Democratic candidates like Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris.” Perhaps the most interesting part of this op‐ed is when he talks about the unintended consequences of favoring small donors over large donors.
  6. In Hong Kong Protests, Faces Become Weapons (Paul Mozur, New York Times): “The police officers wrestled with Colin Cheung in an unmarked car. They needed his face. They grabbed his jaw to force his head in front of his iPhone. They slapped his face. They shouted, ‘Wake up!’ They pried open his eyes. It all failed: Mr. Cheung had disabled his phone’s facial‐recognition login with a quick button mash as soon as they grabbed him.”
  7. Canada’s bizarre trans‐waxing controversy (Brendan O’Neill, Spiked): “Yaniv says if the case is lost then a dangerous precedent will be set for trans people. In truth, the real danger is if Yaniv wins the case, because that would set a precedent whereby the law could require that women must touch penises or risk losing their jobs. It would be profoundly misogynistic.” The language in this piece is vulgar at times but in my estimation not recklessly so. Rod Dreher sums things up pithily with the headline: From ‘Bake My Cake’ to ‘Wax My Testicles’ (The American Conservative)
    • Related: Liberals’ astonishingly radical shift on gender (Damon Linker, The Week): “Slaves everywhere presumably know that they are unfree, even if they accept the legitimacy of the system and the master that keeps them enslaved. But what is this bondage we couldn’t even begin to perceive in 2009 that in under a decade has become a burden so onerous that it produces a demand for the overturning of well‐settled rules and assumptions, some of which (‘the gender binary’) go all the way back to the earliest origins of human civilization?”

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have Are Satanists of the MS‐13 gang an under‐covered story on the religion beat? (Julia Duin, GetReligion): this is a fascinating bit of news commentary. My favorite bit: “How does one get out of MS‐13? An opinion piece in the New York Times this past April gives a surprising response: Go to a Pentecostal church.” Highly recommended. First shared in volume 158.

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 211

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

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. American journalists have duty to report on tragedies in countries like Sudan. (Isaha Sesay, USA Today): “If the suffering of these girls and their parents is not enough to make us pay attention to what has happened in Chibok, there is something else to consider: the threat to global security. The fate of these girls is in many ways a reflection of the Nigerian federal government’s longstanding inability to maintain peace and stability in the northeast of the country. Americans should see the disappearance of the Chibok girls as a flare, illuminating the existence of an ‘ungoverned space’ that is fertile ground for a powerful terrorist group.”
  2. Facebook and Google track what porn you’re watching, even when you’re in incognito (Isobel Asher Hamilton, Business Insider): “Researchers from Microsoft, Carnegie Mellon, and the University of Pennsylvania analyzed 22,484 pornography sites using a site called webXray to identify tracking tools feeding data back to third parties. ‘Our results indicate tracking is endemic on pornography websites: 93% of pages leak user data to a third‐party,’ the study concludes.”
    • Numbers 32:23 comes to mind: “be sure that your sin will find you out.”
    • An unexpected consequence of porn: Streaming online pornography produces as much CO2 as Belgium (Michael Le Page, NewScientist): “The transmission and viewing of online videos generates 300 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, or nearly 1 per cent of global emissions. On‐demand video services such as Netflix account for a third of this, with online pornographic videos generating another third.”
  3. An Epidemic of Disbelief (Barbara Bradley Hagerty, The Atlantic): “Historically, investigators had assumed that someone who assaults a stranger by the railroad tracks is nothing like the man who assaults his co‐worker or his girlfriend. But it turns out that the space between acquaintance rape and stranger rape is not a wall, but a plaza. When Cleveland investigators uploaded the DNA from the acquaintance‐rape kits, they were surprised by how often the results also matched DNA from unsolved stranger rapes. The task force identified dozens of mystery rapists this way.” Infuriating and highly recommended. 
  4. Oil‐patch evangelicals: How Christianity and crude fueled the rise of the American right (Darren Dochuk, Washington Post): “In the face of the Rockefellers’ progressive way, Texan oilers championed a theology of personal encounter with scripture and an active Higher Being. They heralded church autonomy and gospel teachings about prosperity and end times, a message that anticipated the violent disruptions of the oil age and the need to save souls and reap God’s — and the earth’s — riches before the world’s end.” The author is a history professor at Notre Dame and describes an aspect of modern evangelical history I had not heard before.
    • An interview with the above author: Anointed with Oil: Evangelicals and the Petroleum Industry (Thomas Kidd, The Gospel Coalition): “Oil historians may be surprised to hear it, but in some instances oil’s corporate structures evolved directly out of the theological commitments of its leaders.” The first piece felt a little hostile to me, whereas this one did not at all. 
  5. Stanford opposes bill that would let college athletes in California profit from endorsements (Ian Park, Stanford Daily): “The NCAA earns more than $1 billion in annual revenue from broadcasting rights and championships. In return, student‐athletes receive little to no compensation, other than scholarships. According to a study by Drexel University and the National College Players Association, scholarships aren’t enough for many student‐athletes, as surveyed athletes had to pay colleges scholarship shortfalls of as much as $17,000.”
    • In other and completely unrelated local news: SF does not have the highest rents in the Bay Area (Adam Brinklow, Curbed): “Menlo Park, home of Facebook, has the highest rents in the region, averaging $4,638 per month. Palo Alto also beat out SF with a startling $3,857 per month price tag.” 
    • Elsewhere in the article we learn that Redwood City rents average $1,956. I love Menlo Park, but there’s no way it is twice as nice as Redwood City. Sheesh!
  6. Trump vs. Dems: ‘Racist,’ ‘socialist’ lines drawn for 2020 (Lisa Mascaro, AP News): “With tweets and a vote, President Donald Trump and House Democrats established the sharp and emotionally raw contours of the 2020 election campaigns. In the process, they have created a fraught political frame: ‘racists’ vs. ‘socialists.’”
    • What Pelosi Versus the Squad Really Means (David Brooks, New York Times): “Liberalism arose out of the fact that political revolutions, while exciting at the outset, usually end up in brutality, dictatorship and blood. Working within the system is best. People who came of age in the past few decades did not grow up in an atmosphere of assumed liberalism. They often grew up in an atmosphere that critiques it.”
    • ‘It Makes Us Want to Support Him More’ (Peter Nicholas, The Atlantic): “A few conceded that Trump occasionally fires off an inappropriate tweet, but said his accomplishments in office overshadow any offense. If anything, they said, his language springs from an authenticity they find refreshing. None of the people I spoke with considered his comments about the congresswomen racist.”
    • People Who Have Screamed ‘Racism’ For Decades Wonder Why No One Is Listening To Them About Trump (Babylon Bee): this would normally go down in the amusing section because the headline is from a satire site, but this is one of those times where the Bee’s insight is relevant: “‘I mean, we compared John McCain to George Wallace,’ stated Democrat Maggie Wilkins, ‘and I’m not sure who to compare Trump to in order to show he’s an even more worser racist.’ Activists are considering coming up with other words to express that Trump is a worse kind of racist. They considered ‘white supremacist,’ but they’ve been using that a lot lately, so it would only mean to most people that Trump is as bad as the Betsy Ross flag. So they tried to invent a new term — double plus racist — to express how extra racist Trump is, but then remembered they already used that on Mitt Romney.”
  7. 5 Reasons to Disentangle Sexuality and Race (Rebecca McLaughlin, The Gospel Coalition): “Christian sexual ethics were as shocking to their original first‐century Greco‐Roman context as they are today. If Christians are to learn from history, the lesson must be this: hold fast to Scripture’s radical demands, whether the cultural tide is coming in or out. You won’t know which side of history you’re on until the last day.” Disclaimer: I know the author and have collaborated with her on events at Stanford.

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have When Children Say They’re Trans (Jesse Singal, The Atlantic): “ …to deny the possibility of a connection between social influences and gender‐identity exploration among adolescents would require ignoring a lot of what we know about the developing teenage brain—which is more susceptible to peer influence, more impulsive, and less adept at weighing long‐term outcomes and consequences than fully developed adult brains—as well as individual stories like Delta’s.” This is a long and balanced piece which has garnered outrage in some online circles. First shared in volume 157.

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

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

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 210

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

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

Things Glen Found Interesting

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

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

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

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

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

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 209

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.

FYI: there’s an excellent chance I won’t be sending my Friday roundup next week.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Christ in the Camps (Caitlin Flanagan, The Atlantic): “I humbly reach out to the only faction of Americans I know of who have the ear of the administration and who care about children: my brothers and sisters in Christ who attend evangelical churches. It seems clear that we are in the midst of a profound humanitarian crisis and that children are being forced to suffer in terrible ways. Maybe it was never supposed to be this way; maybe the system just got overwhelmed. But this is a disaster.” Searing. Recommended by an alumnus. 
    • The horrifying conditions facing kids in border detention, explained (Dara Lind, Vox): “It is apparent that even an administration acting with the best interests of children in mind at every turn would be scrambling right now. But policymakers are split on how much of the current crisis is simply a resource problem — one Congress could help by sending more resources — and how much is deliberate mistreatment or neglect from an administration that doesn’t deserve any more money or trust.
    • Why a Government Lawyer Argued Against Giving Immigrant Kids Toothbrushes (Ken White, The Atlantic): “This administration is merely the latest one to subject immigrant children to abusive conditions. It’s been 35 years since Jenny Flores was strip‐searched in an adult facility. Before Sarah Fabian defended concrete floors and bright lights for President Donald Trump, she defended putting kids in solitary confinement for President Barack Obama. The fault lies not with any one administration or politician, but with the culture: the ICE and CBP culture that encourages the abuse, the culture of the legal apologists who defend it, and our culture—a largely indifferent America that hasn’t done a damn thing about it.”
    • Indirectly related: I’m a Journalist but I Didn’t Fully Realize the Terrible Power of U.S. Border Officials Until They Violated My Rights and Privacy (Seth Harp, The Intercept): “As I was walking out, I said to Moncivias and Villarreal, ‘It’s funny, of all the countries I’ve been to, the border guards have never treated me worse than here, in the one country I’m a citizen of, in the town where I was born.’” This is unsettling. 
  2. People Who Pay People to Kill People (Rene Chun, The Atlantic): “The authors determined that 2 percent of all murders in Australia were contract killings and that contracts were, in some cases, surprisingly affordable. One unfulfilled contract was for 500 Australian dollars; another job was completed for just $2,000.” This is wild to me because those are close to the amounts that a minister might get paid for preaching at a retreat or officiating a wedding. Who knew assassins and ministers had similar pay scales? Recommended by a student.
  3. Some LGBT links (largely occasioned by Pride Month).
    • A Match Made In Heaven (Nathaniel Frank, Washington Post): “What may seem like a straightforward chance to celebrate progress actually masks a fault line that has divided our movement since its start: whether our goal is equality or liberation, a fight for the right to be treated like everyone else or the freedom to be authentically ourselves. Do we seek belonging in the world as it is (including the military, marriage and parenting) or the chance to transform the world, by throwing off repressive norms, into a place where all of us — queer and non‐queer alike — can be more free?”
    • Response: Stonewall’s ‘Gift’ (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “To an old‐school Cassandra like me — one of the Cassandras who was mocked in the 2000s as a paranoid — this entire column reads like an I told you so, and a vindication of the Law of Merited Impossibility (‘It will never happen, and when it does, you bigots will deserve it’). Not that it does a bit of good now.”
    • Rugby Australia’s “Own Goal” (Peter Singer, Project Syndicate): “Rugby Australia would have a stronger basis for its decision if Folau’s post had expressed hatred toward homosexuals and could have been interpreted as an incitement to violence against them. But the post no more expresses hatred toward homosexuals than cigarette warnings express hatred toward smokers.” Yes, this is the famous philosopher Peter Singer. I rarely agree with him, but in this case I strongly do.
    • The Religious Roots of Pride (Brett Krutzsch, The Advocate): “What most Americans do not know when they gaze on the parade’s nearly‐naked dancers, ‘dykes on bikes,’ and transgender teenagers is that Pride parades exist because of a devout Pentecostal minister.” The author is a professor of religion at Haverford College. One quibble: describing Troy Perry as a “devout Pentecostal” is not accurate. He said, “
I knew that I was not starting another Pentecostal church. I was starting a church that would be truly ecumenical.” (source: the history of the Metropolitan Community Churches). It would be fair to say “ex‐Pentecostal minister Troy Perry”, though. His background was news to me.
  4. The Christian Case for Marijuana (Jonathan Merritt, New York Times): “America is sick, and the Christian call to compassion obligates the faithful to act. Chronic pain and illness now affect tens of millions of Americans, and in many cases the cause eludes the brightest medical minds. To fight these ailments, Americans have been prescribed mind‐altering anti‐depressants, highly addictive pain relievers and opioids, and all manner of legal substances with a list of side effects so long that drug commercials feel like ‘Saturday Night Live’ shorts.”
  5. The Perception Gap: How False Impressions are Pulling Americans Apart (Sean Stevens, Heterodox Academy): Democrats and Republicans significantly overestimate how many people on the ‘other side’ hold extreme views. Typically, their estimates are roughly double the actual numbers for a given issue…. Education seems to increase, rather than mitigate, the Perception Gap (just as increased education has found to track with increased ideological prejudice). College education results in an especially distorted view of Republicans among liberals in particular.” The original research is at https://perceptiongap.us/ (recommended by a student)

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have The Problem with Dull Knives: What’s the Defense Department got to do with Code for America? (Jennifer Pahlka, Medium): “I have a distinct memory of being a kid in the kitchen with my mom, awkwardly and probably dangerously wielding a knife, trying to cut some tough vegetable, and defending my actions by saying the knife was dull anyway. My mom stopped me and said firmly, ‘Jenny, a dull knife is much more dangerous than a sharp knife. You’re struggling and using much more force than you should, and that knife is going to end up God Knows Where.’ She was right, of course…. But having poor tools [for the military] doesn’t make us fight less; it makes us fight badly.” (some emphasis in the original removed). Highly recommended. First shared in volume 155.

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.