Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 454



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

This is volume 454, a number whose symmetry pleases me.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The Nones Have Hit a Ceiling (Ryan Burge, Substack): “The rise of the nones may be largely over now. At least it won’t be increasing in the same way that it did in the prior thirty years. Of course, the question is why? I don’t know if I have a bulletproof answer. I think the easiest explanation is that a lot of marginally attached people switched to ‘no religion’ on surveys over the last decade or two. Eventually, there weren’t that many marginally attached folks anymore. All you had left were the very committed religious people who likely won’t become nones for any reason. The loose top soil has been scooped off and hauled away, leaving nothing but hard bedrock underneath.”
    • Emphasis removed for readability.
  2. ‘Loud-mouthed bully’: CS Lewis satirised Oxford peer in secret poems (Dalya Alberge, The Guardian): “Joking that an infuriated Lewis had perhaps composed them during one of Wyld’s lectures, Horobin noted that one of them identifies Wyld through an acrostic with the initial letters spelling out the name ‘Henry Cecil Wyld’. He added: ‘On the remaining blank pages he penned a series of additional satirical verses lampooning Wyld – one in English, alongside others in Latin, Greek, French and even Old English.’ ”
    • Even Lewis’s shade was epic and erudite. I love this story. Also, a reminder that every word will be brought into judgement — even words uttered (or penned) in secret. I should mention he would not yet have been a Christian when these poems appear to have been composed.
  3. What Do Students at Elite Colleges Really Want? (Francesca Mari, New York Times): “…everyone arrived on campus hoping to change the world. But what they learn at Harvard, he said, is that actually doing anything meaningful is too hard. People give up on their dreams, he told me, and decide they might as well make money. Someone else told me it was common at parties to hear their peers say they just want to sell out.”
    • Unlocked
  4. Redefining the scientific method: as the use of sophisticated scientific methods that extend our mind (Alexander Krauss, PNAS Nexus): “This study reveals that 25% of all discoveries since 1900 did not apply the common scientific method (all three features)—with 6% of discoveries using no observation, 23% using no experimentation, and 17% not testing a hypothesis. Empirical evidence thus challenges the common view of the scientific method.”
    • From the abstract because it is so succinctly put, but the article itself is easy to read. Recommended. The author is a philosopher of science at the London School of Economics.
  5. American Missionaries Killed in Port-au-Prince (Daniel Silliman, Christianity Today): “Criminal gangs killed nearly 5,000 people in Haiti last year. Then, in 2024, the gangs banded together, turned against the politicians who had once collaborated with them for power, and launched coordinated attacks on the government. The gangs set police stations on fire, shut down the main airport and seaport, and broke open two prisons, releasing an estimated 4,000 inmates. They vandalized government offices, stormed the National Palace, and took control of about 80 percent of the capital.”
  6. Group chats rule the world. (Sriram Krishnan, personal blog): “Most of the interesting conversations in tech now happen in private group chats: Whatsapp, Telegram, Signal, small invite-only Discord groups.… The great culture wars of 2020 meant people, especially in tech, weren’t comfortable sharing their views in public lest they get various online mobs after them.”
  7. What ‘Tradwives’—and Some of Their Critics—Miss (Hannah Anderson, The Dispatch): “But women haven’t been uniquely lied to. Families have been lied to about what their homes can and should be. Men and women alike have been told that their greatest achievements lie outside of it. And yet, a marriage reduced from two ‘careerists’ to one is still serving corporate interests. At best, a woman sacrificing her career to enable her husband’s career (as Butker asserts his wife does and as he counseled new female graduates) misses the point. At worst, it enables the very marketplace that desires nothing more than to creep into our homes and commodify every expression of goodness and beauty that happens there—even if what we’re selling is traditionalism.”

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

  • Stanford University Tour by Drone (YouTube): six minutes (it’s a little long, but the first bit is nice to watch)
  • Will 18 year old Emma Olson FOOL Penn & Teller with a Rubik’s cube? (Penn & Teller Fool Us, YouTube): nine minutes
  • When an Eel Takes a Bite Then an Octopus Might Claim an Eyeball (Joshua Rapp Learn, New York Times): “In each video, the common octopus may sacrifice arms, much as lizards drop their tails to distract predators, Dr. Hernández-Urcera said. In the first video, the octopus loses three arms while the one in the second video loses two — but they can fully regrow limbs in about 45 days, some lab tests show.”
    • Rarely do I find that news articles are improved by embedded videos. This is one of the exceptions. Very cool.
  • Are Plants Intelligent? If So, What Does That Mean for Your Salad? (Elizabeth A. Harris, New York Times): “Obviously we’re animals that need to eat plants. There’s no way around that. But there is a way of imagining a future with agricultural practices and harvesting practices that are more tuned into the life style of the plant, the things it’s capable of and its proclivities. This opens up the world of plant ethics.”
    • The article itself is interesting. The title made me laugh.

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 453

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. Reconciling Christianity with intellectual curiosity (Nadia Jo, Stanford Daily): “One of the values Jesus emphasized most is humility, and I strive to implement that value in my intellectual life in addition to my personal life. My ethos of intellectual curiosity involves curiosity, challenging and wrestling with claims and lines of reasoning, flexible thinking and respect for people who put in the same effort. I hope that my nonreligious peers can come to understand and appreciate Christianity’s deep intellectual tradition, even if they don’t agree with its conclusions. And, I encourage more Christians to live up to that tradition and examine their own belief. You’ll probably find it more rewarding than you expect.”
    • Nadia is a student in Chi Alpha.
  2. Homeless man is brought to church and starts CURSING right in the middle of the sermon while the pastor is preaching on the parable of the lost sheep. (Twitter): the link title is clickbaity, but the video is really good. 17 minutes but 100% worth your time.
  3. The Single Christian (Alexandra DeSanctis Marr, Religion & Liberty Online): “Rather than offering sympathy to those who are single for reasons outside their control, Broadway argues, Christians often send the message that singleness is an affliction endured by those who simply aren’t trying hard enough to find a spouse. But, as she explains, there isn’t an easy answer to what is ultimately a problem of numbers: ‘When women outnumber men in the church, that leaves three options: polygamy, marrying a non-Christian or staying single. Which would you like us to choose?’”
    • That’s a great line by Broadway.
  4. The Scholar of Comedy (David Remnick interviewing Jerry Seinfeld, The New Yorker): “Every artist is only showing you his best. When you watch a movie, every scene—they only show you the one take that worked. Seventeen times, they missed it. You’re only seeing the peak of it. But in standup you gotta make it happen every night. That’s the difference. That’s why actors, I think, like to do the theatre. They want to be honest. They want to be held to account. And only a live audience holds you to account.”
  5. Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker says Pride Month is example of ‘deadly sin’ during commencement speech (Lukas Weese, New York Times): “Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker, speaking during a commencement speech at Benedictine College, referred to Pride Month, the events in June demonstrating inclusivity and support for the LGBTQ+ community, as an example of the ‘deadly sins’ as he advocated for a more conservative brand of Catholicism.”
    • I am always surprised when people seem surprised when religious people say religious things.
    • Related: Harrison Butker jersey sales increase in aftermath of Benedictine College address (Greg Dailey and Ryan Hennessy, KCTV 5): “Amid reaction to Harrison Butker’s now-viral commencement speech at Benedictine College on Saturday, the placekicker seems to have gained several new fans in the process. According to NFL.com, Butker’s jersey sales are among the most popular online. Only Travis Kelce rated higher than Butker, with Mahomes coming in right behind the star from Georgia Tech.”
    • This is common enough that there is probably a term for it: high-status people denounce something and or pretend it doesn’t exist, whereas many lower-status people really like it. This is a good example of this, as is the New York Times bestseller list compared to actual sales numbers.
  6. Campus protest-related:
    • Seeing the University More Clearly (David Pozen, blog): “To simplify somewhat, we might say that professors are granted a number of basic rights within the university, including rights to free speech and due process and quasi-property rights in the job itself. Students and staff are granted a partially overlapping, though weaker, bundle of rights. What none of us have are governance rights against the trustees who really run the place. We enjoy various individual privileges and protections, but not the franchise. Legal scholars and political scientists have a term for this sort of arrangement, too: liberal autocracy.”
      • The author is a law prof at Columbia and has some insightful thoughts about how shifts in university governance in recent years have provided the context for how campuses are responding to protests.
    • Modern Protest Culture is Crippled by Internet-Brain (Samuel D. James, Substack): “A transformational protest is one that bears the brunt of reality and, in so doing, convinces others to join in changing it. The inability to bear this reality is not just fragility, it is precisely the way computer systems work; when the autonomous system fails to yield a pleasant or smooth solution, it must be fixed, not endured. Contemporary student activism reflects the assumptions and habits of the digital era.”
      • Emphasis in original.
  7. Belgian Government Will Intervene In Cases Where Prostitutes Refuse Sexual Acts Too Often (Amy Hamm, ProPublica): “Prostitutes are to be granted ‘rights’ to refuse sexual acts, stop sexual acts, perform sexual acts in the manner they prefer, and refuse to sit behind Amsterdam-style windows (public facing windows where prostitutes are on display). However, should a prostitute use these ‘rights’ 10 times within six months, their pimp can then call on a government mediator to intervene.”
    • Pimps used to have to beat their prostitutes. Now they can have the government use force on their behalf. #progress
    • This is the logic of “bake the cake, bigot” taken to its ultimate conclusion — conscience is nothing and the market is everything and personal convictions are inconveniences to be trampled upon.
    • If, as some feminists tell us, sex work is real work then you can’t be shocked at stuff like this. If, on the other hand, prostitution is both a tragedy and a vice you can get outraged.

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

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

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 447

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

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

Things Glen Found Interesting

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

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

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

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 442

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

This is the 442nd edition of these emails. 442 is the sum of eight consecutive prime numbers: 41 + 43 + 47 + 53 + 59 + 61 + 67 + 71

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The State of the Culture, 2024 (Ted Gioia, Substack): “The tech platforms aren’t like the Medici in Florence, or those other rich patrons of the arts. They don’t want to find the next Michelangelo or Mozart. They want to create a world of junkies—because they will be the dealers. Addiction is the goal.”
    • Highly recommended. Includes an anecdote about a Stanford undergrad near the end.
  2. Men Are From Mercury, Women Are From Neptune (David French, New York Times): “…if there are pre-existing political differences between men and women — and it’s true that in aggregate men are more conservative than women — then those differences will be exacerbated as men spend more time with men, and women spend more time with women. The more that men and women live separate lives, the more we would expect to see separate beliefs.”
    • Recommended to me by a student, and I highly recommend it to you.
  3. My Mom’s Rules For Cults (Ben Landau-Taylor, Substack): “…when I was 25 years old I told my parents I was moving to San Francisco to join a new-wave radical movement and a self-development psychology I‑swear-we’re-not-a-cult group. And she sat me down and gave me three things to check before I went: 1. Are the members of the group in contact with their families? 2. How does the group react when members are close with friends who don’t share the group’s beliefs and ideology? Is this discouraged? Is it seen as normal and healthy? 3. How does the group relate to former members who have left? Are they old friends who are welcome at parties, or are they vile traitors, or what? In my experience this is the best and fastest way to tell the difference…”
  4. ‘I Said, ‘What’s Your Plan About Marriage and Dating?’ And There Was Silence.’ (Jane Coaston, New York Times): “I was talking to a graduate student recently. He had a very clear sense of his plan for schooling and work, and then I said, ‘What’s your plan about marriage and dating?’ And there was silence. He didn’t really have a plan. I think that’s part of the challenge — that people are not being intentional enough about seeking opportunities to meet, date and marry young adults in their world.”
    • An interview with Brad Wilcox, who is often cited in these updates. Recommended by a student.
  5. The Rise of the Non-Christian Evangelical (Ryan Burge, Substack): “Nine percent of Republican Jews self-identify as evangelical, compared to 3% of Democratic Jews. For Muslims, the gap is huge: 32% vs 11%. It’s also fairly large for Buddhists (16% vs 6%) and Hindus (18% vs 10%). You can even see it among nothing in particulars. 19% of the Republicans are evangelicals; it’s just 9% of the Democrats.”
    • Wild and interesting.
  6. The Takeover (Neetu Arnold, Tablet Magazine): “…even in the vanishingly rare event that universities attempt to cultivate an environment of academic freedom and free speech on campus, it will never fully apply to sponsored international students from countries with authoritarian governments. In many ways, this defeats the main purpose of having international students on American campuses in the first place: the free and open cultural exchange that occurs between them and American students. What kind of skewed cultural education will American students receive about Saudi Arabia and China if their friends from those countries aren’t even allowed to criticize their own governments, and if the main source of teaching and scholarship on such countries comes out of ‘centers’ funded by those governments?”
    • This is an odd article. Lots of interesting stats framed strangely, but definitely interesting.
  7. Academia’s “Pretendian” Problem Stems From a Few Very Obvious and Basic Realities (Freddie deBoer, Substack): “You’ve created a fiercely competitive process in which a segment of people are given a very large advantage, there are few if any objective markers that can disprove that someone is a member of that segment, and you’ve declared it offensive to question whether someone really is a member of that segment, outside of very specific scenarios. (When I was in academia people spoke very darkly about the concept of ever questioning someone’s indigenous identity, called it the act of a colonizer, etc etc.) The obvious question is… what did you think was going to happen? Humanities and social sciences departments have, through the conditions described above, rung the dinner bell for people pretending to have indigenous heritage. They now act shocked when such people show up. I find it disingenuous and untoward. This behavior is the product of the incentives that you yourself built.

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

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

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 440

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

This is volume 440, the sum of the first seventeen prime numbers. 440 = 2 + 3 + 5 + 7 + 11 + 13 + 17 + 19 + 23 + 29 + 31 + 37 + 41 + 43 + 47 + 53 + 59 and that fact makes me happy.

Also, I’ve had a busy travel schedule lately and haven’t kept us with as much stuff as I normally do, so this is a shorter compilation than usual.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The Christian Super Bowl Ad They SHOULD Have Made | He Saves Us (Jamie Bambrick, YouTube): one compelling minute. I don’t have anything against the He Gets Us ads, but this is pretty great.
  2. Christians Are Not Ready for the Age of “Adult AI” (Samuel D. James, Substack): “All variables being equal, it is likely that within twenty years, most online pornography will not feature real human beings. Artificial intelligence systems are already sophisticated enough to fabricate entire bodies convincingly.… It simply won’t do anymore to try to elicit post-Christian outrage against porn by emphasizing the possibility of sex trafficking or exploitation. In the era of digitally-generated content, the question will no longer be, ‘Who was hurt in the making of this’ (for the practical answer to that question will be, ‘No one’). Rather, the question will be, ‘How am I hurt by consuming this,’ and, ‘Why is this objectively wrong for me to enjoy?’ ”
  3. How China Miscalculated Its Way to a Baby Bust (Liyan Qi, Wall Street Journal): “Following the data release, researchers from Victoria University in Australia and the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences predicted that China will have just 525 million people by the end of the century. That’s down from their previous forecast of 597 million and a precipitous drop from 1.4 billion now.” Recommended by a student.
  4. Marry Young (Kasen Stephenson, Stanford Review): “Although I’m now twenty-four, I got married as a twenty-two year old undergrad. I then bid farewell to my dorm in Roble and moved into a cozy apartment beyond EVGR with my wife. I have found that most of my classmates are convinced that marriage is in their future, yet they are quite surprised that I married so young. While it’s difficult to exercise control over any timeline, I’m a strong advocate for getting married young, especially at Stanford where young marriages are most uncommon.”
  5. The Lure of Divorce (Emily Gould, The Cut): “It began to seem like I only ever talked to friends who had been through divorces or were contemplating them. One friend who didn’t know whether to split up with her husband thought opening their marriage might be the answer. Another friend described the ease of sharing custody of his young daughter, then admitted that he and his ex-wife still had sex most weekends. In my chronically undecided state, I admired both of these friends who had found, or might have found, a way to split the difference.”
    • A wild and illuminating story, although I suspect I am taking away some different lessons than the author intended.

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

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

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 432

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

This is volume 432, a number pleasant to look at because of the smoothly decreasing digits. Also, 432 = 4 · 33 · 22, which is kinda cool.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Why Two Parents Are the Ultimate Privilege (Bari Weiss, Substack): “Two parents combined have more resources than one. Two parents in a home bring in the earnings—or at least the earnings capacity—of two adults. And so, in a very straightforward way, we see that kids growing up in single-mother homes are five times more likely to live in poverty than kids growing up in married parent homes. (Kids in single-father homes are three times as likely to live in poverty.) Some of that reflects the fact that people with lower levels of education or income are more likely to become single parents. But even if you compare across moms of the same education group, you see that kids who grow up in a household with two parents have household incomes that are about twice as high. That means that those parents are paying for things like a nicer house in a safe neighborhood with good school districts. But they also spend more time with their kids. We see that kids who grow up with married parents have more parental time invested in them: reading to your kid, talking to your kid, driving your kids to activities. If there are two parents in the household, there’s just more time capacity.”
    • The interviewee, Melissa Kearney, is an economist at the University of Maryland.
    • This part near the end also caught my attention: “You write that you would speak to your fellow scholars about your plans for writing this book, and they would say things along the lines of, ‘I tend to agree about all of this, but are you sure you want to be out there saying this publicly?’ How many areas of research, inquiry, and basic curiosity about the most important things in our lives and culture are third rail now? If it’s taboo to write a book saying two parents in a house are better materially than one, what else is off-limits, and what can we do to combat that?”
  2. Some links related to academia, congressional testimony, and speech in general:
    • You Could Not Pay Me Enough to Be a College Administrator (Dan Drezner, Substack): “Why are these horrible, no-win positions? Because the primary job of any college dean or university president is to deal with the most spoiled, entitled, pig-headed interest groups imaginable. First, there are the students…”
    • Freedom of speech for university staff? (Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution): “Freedom of speech for university staff is a harder question than for students or faculty. Students will move on, and a lot of faculty hate each other anyway, and don’t have to work together very much. Plus the protection of tenure was (supposedly?) designed to support freedom of speech and opinion, even ‘perceived to be offensive’ opinions. As for students, we want them to be experimenting with different opinions in their youth, even if some of those opinions are bad or stupid. Staff in these regards are different.”
    • What the University Presidents Got Right and Wrong About Antisemitic Speech (David French, New York Times): “I’m a former litigator who spent much of my legal career battling censorship on college campuses, and the thing that struck me about the presidents’ answers wasn’t their legal insufficiency but rather their stunning hypocrisy. And it’s that hypocrisy, not the presidents’ understanding of the law, that has created a campus crisis.”
    • Penn’s Leadership Resigns Amid Controversies Over Antisemitism (Stephanie Saul and Alan Blinder, New York Times): “The president of the University of Pennsylvania, M. Elizabeth Magill, resigned on Saturday, four days after her testimony at a congressional hearing in which she seemed to evade the question of whether students who called for the genocide of Jews should be disciplined.… Ms. Magill, a former Stanford Law School dean and University of Virginia provost, had come to the university as part of a wave of women to lead Ivy League colleges.”
  3. Some reflections on the war between Israel and Hamas:
    • Who’s a ‘Colonizer’? How an Old Word Became a New Weapon (Roger Cohen, New York Times): “The clash over purported Israeli colonialism is part of something larger, a profound movement in people’s minds. The Palestinian national struggle has become the cause of the justice-seeking dispossessed throughout the world. At the same time, the quest of the Jews to find refuge in a national homeland as the only answer to being the perennial outcast has become a battle to demonstrate that, far from being colonialist, Israel is a diverse nation largely formed by a gathering-in of the persecuted.”
      • Covers a lot of ground, broadly helpful.
    • What Justice Requires in Gaza (Jack Omer-Jackaman, Persuasion): “How much injustice can a war contain before it is no longer a just war? History is certainly replete with wars we consider just on the whole, but which were littered with gross violations of human rights and decency. What was true on October 7th is true today: Hamas is a mass-raping, civilian-slaughtering, baby-kidnapping evil, whose defeat should be supported by all friends of Israel and all friends of Palestine. But I cannot be silent when my own reason and my own heart conclude that Gazan civilians are not being sufficiently protected. In the failure of Israeli strikes to distinguish between civilian and terrorist, and in the hampering of humanitarian aid efforts, too much of this war is being fought unjustly.”
  4. In 2024, the Tension Between Macroculture and Microculture Will Turn into War (Ted Gioia, Substack): “The clash has reached some kind of brutal tipping point. I believe it’s about to turn into war. The fact that 2024 is an election year will escalate the conflict. Just wait and see. But even right now you can feel the ground shaking.… [alternative platforms are outperforming Hollywood.] This seems impossible. A single individual living in Greenville, North Carolina defeats enormous global businesses with tens of thousands of employees and decades of experience—and does it repeatedly every month. But that’s exactly what’s happening.”
    • Fascinating stats in here.
    • Related (at least to me): When the New York Times lost its way (James Bennet, The Economist): “This is a bit of a paradox. The new newsroom ideology seems idealistic, yet it has grown from cynical roots in academia: from the idea that there is no such thing as objective truth; that there is only narrative, and that therefore whoever controls the narrative – whoever gets to tell the version of the story that the public hears – has the whip hand. What matters, in other words, is not truth and ideas in themselves, but the power to determine both in the public mind. By contrast, the old newsroom ideology seems cynical on its surface. It used to bug me that my editors at the Times assumed every word out of the mouth of any person in power was a lie. And the pursuit of objectivity can seem reptilian, even nihilistic, in its abjuration of a fixed position in moral contests. But the basis of that old newsroom approach was idealistic: the notion that power ultimately lies in truth and ideas, and that the citizens of a pluralistic democracy, not leaders of any sort, must be trusted to judge both.”
    • This one is very long but I found it compelling.
  5. Conservatives are suing law firms over diversity efforts. It’s working. (Julian Mark and Taylor Telford, Washington Post): “Kenji Yoshino, a law professor and director of the Meltzer Center for Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging at New York University, said targeting law firms is effective because it can serve as a warning to other industries. ‘If you sue a law firm, then the law firm gets up to speed very, very quickly on what is permissible and what’s impermissible,’ Yoshino said, noting that many law firms advise Fortune 500 companies, government agencies and nonprofits. ‘It’s a way of getting the message out about people needing to flip over their policies in a wide variety of domains — not just fellowships, but hiring, recruiting retreats and the like.’”
    • Interesting. I don’t remember having seen this strategy (sue law firms to bring about broader cultural change) used by either the left or the right before. Is it an innovation or am I just not remembering something in history?
  6. How 1 in 4 Countries Restrict Religious Conversion (Jayson Casper, Christianity Today): “The USCIRF report grouped the laws into four categories. First, anti-proselytizing laws restrict witnessing of one’s faith in 29 nations, including in Indonesia, Israel, and Russia. In Morocco, for example, it is illegal to cause a Muslim to question his or her religion. The second category of interfaith marriage is restricted in 25 nations, including in Jordan, the Philippines, and Singapore. In Qatar, for example, if a wife converts to Islam but the husband does not, a judge may annul their marriage. Identification document laws—the third category—in 7 nations restrict the right of an individual to formally convert to another religion, including in Iraq, Malaysia, and Turkey. Myanmar, for example, requires converts to submit an application and be subject to questioning about the genuineness of the conversion. And finally, apostasy laws in 7 nations make conversion illegal, including in Brunei, Mauritania, and Saudi Arabia. In Yemen, for example, the punishment is death.”
  7. A Korean Sect Targeted New Zealand Christians. Did Churches Respond Effectively? (Willliam Chong, Christianity Today): “Shincheonji instructors eventually convinced their recruits that God permits lying if it is done for ‘God’s will.’ Before Josh’s sessions commenced in January 2019, his mentor warned him to keep them a secret, pointing to Abraham’s silence before heading out to sacrifice Isaac in Genesis 22. Josh concocted a story about teaching private guitar lessons three mornings a week, a lie he told his parents, his girlfriend, and Student Life colleagues. When church leaders and a campus staff worker confronted Josh with evidence that he was attending Shincheonji classes, his Shincheonji instructors gave him step-by-step instructions on how to deny his involvement. They even gave Josh pre-written letters expressing ‘inexplicable hurt and confusion’ about his family and friends’ accusations and claiming that he was no longer involved in Shincheonji activities. Josh sent the letter to the church yet continued his classes, and in May 2019 he ‘passed over’ into the group.”
    • Related: Escaping High-Control Religious Groups (William Chong, Christianity Today): “[If a friend is in a cult,] try to maintain the relationship and communication at all costs. Making direct statements like ‘You’re in a cult!’ or ‘You’re deceived!’ are not helpful. Cult members have often been warned that ‘a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household’ (Matt. 10:36), so to confront their group will be to fulfill prophecies given to them by their leaders and further prove the group to be correct. It’s important not to drive them further into the group. Ask yourself what need the group is fulfilling in your loved one’s life.”

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

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

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 420

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

This is volume 420, a number with cultural significance and also two interesting mathematical properties. 420 = 101 + 103 + 107 + 109 = 20 x 21. In other words, it is both the sum of consecutive primes and also the product of two consecutive numbers.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. We Are Repaganizing (Louise Perry, First Things): “The supremely strange thing about Christianity in anthropological terms is that it takes a topsy-turvy attitude toward weakness and strength. To put it crudely, most cultures look at the powerful and the wealthy and assume that they must be doing something right to have attained such might. The poor are poor because of some failing of their own, whether in this life or the last. The smallness and feebleness of women and children is a sign that they must be commanded by men. The suffering of slaves is not an argument against slavery, but an argument against allowing oneself to be enslaved. Most cultures—perfectly logically—glorify warriors and kings, not those at the bottom of the heap. But Christianity takes a perverse attitude toward status and puts that perversity at the heart of the theology. ‘God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong’ is a baffling and alarming claim to anyone from a society untouched by the strangeness of the Jesus movement.”
    • This is a remarkable essay about Christianity by a non-Christian. 10/10 recommend.
  2. Ross Douthat’s Theories of Persuasion (Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker): “This is not conspiracy-adjacent, but I think that nice secular people like you and Sam are sort of blind to some obvious supernatural realities about the world. I think lots of people have good reasons to end up in that kind of territory. And the question I don’t know the answer to is: Why is it so natural once you’re in that territory to go all the way to where R.F.K. is?” He continued, “I spend a lot of my own intellectual energy trying not to let my sort of eccentric views blind me to the fact that the establishment still gets a lot of boring, obvious things right.”
    • I found this interview/profile of Douthat charming.
  3. Singleness Is Not a Sin (Lyman Stone, Christianity Today): “Marriage is instituted for mutual service by spouses and joint service to the next generation. Celibacy is instituted for service to the church (not as a requirement for church service but as a possible aid to it). Widows likewise are commanded to be hospitable and helpful to younger people. Unless singleness is clearly defined as a state that has some purpose oriented toward the good of the neighbor (not just incidentally beneficial but purposively so), it is difficult to understand what possible endorsement the status can be given. It is not sinful, but it is not good.”
  4. Let’s Have a Talk About Education and Religious Attendance (Ryan Burge, Substack): “I just don’t know how you look at all this data that I’ve brought to bear and conclude that there’s not a positive relationship between education and religious attendance. You most certainly cannot conclude that it’s a negative relationship. That finds basically no support in this data at all. There’s some evidence that the relationship may not be statistically significant, but for me, the regression clears that up. People who are more educated are more likely to be attending a religious service in the local house of worship this weekend than those with a high school diploma or less. That’s what the preponderance of evidence tells me.”
    • A deeper dive than you often find on this topic. Emphasis in original.
  5. ‘O Slay the Wicked’: How Christians Sing Curses (Greg Morse, Desiring God): “Do we ever say anything uncomfortable in the presence of evil — or worse, do we even care? The psalmists did. We accuse them of cruelty; they accuse us of a twisted sentimentality. We accuse them of not considering man; they accuse us of not considering God.”
    • Recommended by a student.
  6. Before You Share Your Faith! How to Be ‘Evangelism Ready’ (Matt Smethurst, The Gospel Coalition): a 16 minute podcast recommended by a student. I liked the content, the delivery was less gripping than I expected. Worthwhile.
  7. Book Review: Elon Musk (Scott Alexander, Astral Codex Ten): “I think Elon Musk is 1‑in‑1,000 level intelligent — which is great, but means there are still 300,000 people in America smarter than he is. I think he wins by being 1‑in-10,000,000 intense.”
    • This review is full of fascinating stories. 10/10 recommend if you have any interest whatsoever in Elon Musk.

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

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

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 416

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

This is volume 416, which is mildly interesting in the following equation: ‑4162+7682 = 416,768 (note the negative in front of 4162)

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. To Be Happy, Marriage Matters More Than Career (David Brooks, New York Times): “My strong advice is to obsess less about your career and to think a lot more about marriage. Please respect the truism that if you have a great career and a crappy marriage you will be unhappy, but if you have a great marriage and a crappy career you will be happy. Please use your youthful years as a chance to have romantic relationships, so you’ll have some practice when it comes time to wed. Even if you’re years away, please read books on how to decide whom to marry. Read George Eliot and Jane Austen. Start with the masters.”
    • Unlocked. I am sure the comments section on this article will explode with outraged New York Times readers, but Brooks is correct and obviously so.
    • Related: He’s The One (Bryan Caplan, Substack): “The woman who discards the traditional ‘Men have to ask me’ social norm has a superpower. Just profile guys who meet your standards and take the initiative, and you generate a menu of prime options. Yes, conventional wisdom says that a woman can subtly let a guy know that she likes him. But this overlooks men’s abject cluenessness and timidity. Instead, be forthright. Crazy as it seems, earnestly telling your first choice, ‘I should be your girlfriend’ will almost never be mistaken for ‘throwing yourself’ at a guy.”
      • Caplan’s follow-up to his earlier post helping guys screen gals. This one helps gals screen guys. Most of his insights ring true to me.
    • Related: You Don’t Have Plenty of Time (Abby Farson Pratt, Substack): “There’s an odd preoccupation in our culture with ‘readiness,’ as if it were a universal truth. But ‘readiness’ is never defined. We’re given the vague, unhelpful advice to ‘wait until we’re ready’ to get married or have kids. What would that even mean? How do you know when you’re ‘ready’ for that kind of responsibility? You won’t. You’ll never be ready. Aside from choosing a good partner, there’s no amount of preparation that will make child-rearing easier or smoother or simpler. You become ready through the very act of being married and raising children. Lord willing, this is the time in your life to rise to the occasion and put fears of ‘readiness’ to rest.”
  2. Does God Control History? (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “Indeed, while allowing for the complexity of debates about what God wills as opposed to what God merely permits, providentialism is basically inescapable once you posit a divinity who made the world and acts in history. Which is why providentialist interpretations endure among the most liberal Christians as well as the most traditional, with both progressive and conservative theologies justifying themselves through readings of the ‘signs of the times,’ the seasons of history, the action of the Holy Spirit and the like.”
    • Unlocked. I really liked this one.
  3. What Rise of Christian Nationalism? (Jesse Smith, Current): “What has surged in recent years isn’t Christian nationalism so much as the rejection of religion in the public square. The percentage of Americans reporting no religious affiliation has skyrocketed in the 21st century, from little over 5% in 1990 to nearly 30% in 2021. Most of these people belonged to a religious community at some point. Many did not part on the best of terms and would be happy to see the status of American religion taken down a peg.”
    • The author is a sociologist at Benedictine College.
  4. The Man Who Knows What the World’s Richest People Want (and How To Get It) (Maxwell Strachan, Vice): “To Flemings, the concept that the world’s richest people are conspiring together to rig the game in their favor seems foolish. He believes the closest the rich have come to assembling as an illuminati-like clan is in St. Barts between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, because he’s been there. ‘I gotta tell you, some of the richest people in the world are struggling to talk to a girl,’ he said. ‘There is no way these people are leading some fucking global conspiracy.’ ”
    • Overall quite interesting. From back in June.
  5. Legacy admissions are crucial to America’s higher education dominance (Jamie Beaton, The Hill): “Oxford was founded in 1096. Despite its storied history, it has a far smaller donation culture and less engaged alumni. Its biggest donors — among them Bill Gates and Steven Schwarzman — didn’t even attend the university. It has no legacy admissions, and at points in its history, it has struggled financially. In contrast, Harvard cultivates an amazingly engaged alumni community with frequent, well-attended reunions, advisory boards featuring all of their prominent alumni and an aspirational message that once you are a part of this community, it will become your community for life. Legacy admissions — the practice of preferentially admitting the children of alumni — is one of the powerful, tangible characteristics that helps foster that sense of community.”
    • I have never seen someone contrast the elite US schools with their international counterparts this way. I am sure there is a counterargument to be made, but this made for fascinating reading and I find his argument plausible.
  6. Stanford WBB Star Cameron Brink Opens Up On How NIL Wealth Allowed Her Stay In School Over WNBA (Grayson Weir, Outkick): “NIL has made it so that Brink can earn just as much money as an ‘amateur’ as she can in the WNBA. It is probably more lucrative to stay in school than to go pro.… Brink said that her NIL wealth has set her up for the rest of her life. If basketball didn’t work out, she could be self-sufficient. She would ‘continue to live comfortably.’ ”
  7. The real reason the highest-paid doctors are in the Dakotas (Andrew Van Dam, Washington Post): “Overall, the average U.S. lawyer can expect about $7.1 million in lifetime income, a bit higher than a primary-care doctor ($6.5 million) but well behind the broader physician average of $10 million, according to a sophisticated analysis of about 2 million tax records from lawyers and more than 10 million tax records from doctors.”

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

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

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 414

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

This is volume 414, which is a multiple of 23.

A day late because I was traveling. Next week’s may be delayed as well.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The best predictor of happiness in America? Marriage (W. Bradford Wilcox and David Bass, Unherd): “This truth is borne out yet again in new research from the University of Chicago, which found that marriage is the ‘the most important differentiator’ of who is happy in America, and that falling marriage rates are a chief reason why happiness has declined nationally. The research, surveying thousands of respondents, revealed a startling 30-percentage-point happiness divide between married and unmarried Americans. This happiness boost held true for both men and women.… Other factors do matter — including income, educational achievement, race, and geography — but marital status is most influential when it comes to predicting happiness in the study.”
    • Related: More on Singleness, Marriage, and the Church (Samuel D. James, Substack): “…some readers took me to be saying that single people are in sin or not growing in their faith the way that married people are. Not so. There is a profound (subtle, perhaps, but profound) difference between saying that something has intrinsic value in the normative life of an individual or the church, and saying that this thing is compulsory.”
    • Very helpful followup to the article I shared last week.
  2. The Hard-Drug Decriminalization Disaster (Bret Stephens, New York Times): “…the sticky fact that proponents of decriminalization rarely confront is that addicts are not merely sick people trying to get well, like cancer sufferers in need of chemotherapy. They are people who often will do just about anything to get high, however irrational, self-destructive or, in some cases, criminal their behavior becomes. Addiction may be a disease, but it’s also a lifestyle — one that decriminalization does a lot to facilitate. It’s easier to get high wherever and however you want when the cops are powerless to stop you.”
    • Unlocked.
  3. She’s the One (Bryan Caplan, Substack): “Humans are good at hedonically adapting to most material conditions. You get used to your house, your car, your clothes, your granite countertop, and your money. What humans are bad at hedonically adapting to is… other people. If you spend a lot of time around humans whose company you enjoy, you will probably be happy. If you spend a lot of time around human whose company you detest, you will probably be unhappy. Over your lifetime, you will probably spend more time around your spouse than any other human. So while finding good friends and good co-workers is crucial for happiness, finding a good spouse is even more so.”
    • This is full of mostly-good advice for guys.
  4. What’s going on with the reports of a room-temperature superconductor? (John Timmer, Ars Technica): “The perfect time to write an article on those results would be when they’ve been confirmed by multiple labs. But these are not perfect times. Instead, rumors seem to be flying daily about possible confirmation, confusing and contradictory results, and informed discussions of why this material either should or shouldn’t work.”
    • Related: LK-99 Is the Superconductor of the Summer (Kenneth Chang, New York Times): “I truly don’t get the excitement about her preprint,” said Douglas Natelson, a professor of physics at Rice University in Houston. “That’s not to say that it’s wrong, just that theorists and computational materials folks very often produce preprints based on the latest claimed material of interest. There’s nothing exceptional in that.”
  5. You’re probably recycling plastic wrong. And it’s not your fault. (Robert Gebelhoff, Washington Post):  “Picture this: You finish a drink from a red Solo cup, and before throwing it out, you check the bottom of the cup to see the iconic recycling symbol. That means it can be tossed in the recycling bin, right? Wrong. Solo cups are made of polystyrene, a plastic that is very difficult to recycle.… Nowadays, the only plastic items that are consistently recycled are bottles and jugs made out of polyethylene terephthalate (which is labeled with a ‘1’) and high-density polyethylene (labeled with a ‘2’), as a survey of recycling facilities by Greenpeace shows. Recycling plants typically reject almost everything else, meaning it ends up in landfills.”
  6. He Held Up a Bank to Get His Own Money (Raja Abdulrahim, New York Times): “The central bank has not allowed depositors to withdraw more than a few hundred dollars a month since a financial collapse in 2019. So, like other desperate Lebanese before him — some of them similarly compelled by the need for medical treatment — Mr. al-Hajjar went to his bank in November, threatening to burn it down unless it gave him some of the $250,000 he had in his account. More than 12 hours later, he left with $25,000 in stacks of cash. ‘If you don’t go in and threaten to hurt them, they won’t give you anything,’ he said months later.”
    • Absolutely wild (and sad) story.
  7. California’s free prison calls are repairing estranged relationships and aiding rehabilitation (Kwasi Gyamfi Asiedu & Helen Li, Los Angeles Times): “At a time when most consumers enjoy free or low-cost calling, prison phone calls at their peak in California cost more than $6 per 15 minutes via a private telecommunications provider. That allowed only hurried, superficial conversations between the siblings — with one eye always on the clock.”

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 The Experience of Being Poor-ish, For People Who Aren’t (Anonymous, Substack): “When someone is telling me they are or have been poor and I’m trying to determine how poor exactly they were, there’s one evergreen question I ask that has never failed to give me a good idea of what kind of situation I’m dealing with. That question is: ‘How many times have they turned off your water?’.” Follow up: Being Poor-ish Revisited: Reader Questions These are both really good. From volume 291.

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 412

On Fridays (Saturdays when I feel ill on Friday) 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.

412 is the sum of twelve consecutive primes: 13 + 17 + 19 + 23 + 29 + 31 + 37 + 41 + 43 + 47 + 53 + 59

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. If Satan Took Up Marriage Counseling  (Tim Challies, personal blog) : “If Satan took up marriage counseling, he would want people to believe marriage is so risky that it is best to postpone it almost indefinitely, that it is so significant and perilous an undertaking that people should not even consider it until they have completed their education, begun a career, and become well established in life. He would especially want young people to anticipate it with a sense of dread instead of excitement.”
    • Recommended by a student. Well worth your time.
  2. Spirits of the Cloud: A Demonology of the Internet (Thomas Harmon, The American Mind): “…there is much wisdom that can be gained by turning to ancient sources to understand how these mysterious forces operate and how to resist them. In brief, they operate by preying on our imaginations and desires, which are oftentimes obscure even to us, especially when we try to penetrate the veil between present and future or between human and divine by some sort of magical or technical means. James Lindsay zeroes in on this aspect: ‘Demons influence people through their emotions and their interpretations of features of their lives.’ Since they are airy, and proud of their elevation over our earthiness, they have a weakness: humility and an embrace of our earthbound bodies (as a matter of fact, the word ‘humility’ is derived from a Latin word meaning ‘dirt’ or ‘earth’, humus).”
    • The author is a Catholic theologian.
  3. Many on dating apps are already in relationships or aren’t seeking actual dates, new study finds (Angela Yang, NBC News): “Hopeful swipers looking to find their next partners on dating apps have grown increasingly disillusioned in recent years, and a new study reveals the potential root of their difficulties: Many dating app users aren’t seeking romantic meetups at all. Half of nearly 1,400 Tinder users surveyed said they weren’t interested in actually finding dates, according to research published last month. Nearly two-thirds reported they were already in relationships, and some were married while they were using the app.”
    • Just meet someone cute and flirt with them in real life. Like, say, in your campus ministry or church.
  4. What’s Wrong With the “What’s Wrong With Men” Discourse (Conor Fitzgerald, Substack): “…men find therapy and the therapeutic worldview alien and unhelpful. Even the flimsiest male specimen has psychological needs related to accomplishment, strength, usefulness and capability; an atmosphere of unconditional empathy and unrestrained emotional disclosure can be poisonous to those things. Whatever the reason, men understand that therapy (the practice) is mostly just the medical codification of a typically female worldview as objectively true and correct. Most men aren’t going to be interested in joining a conversation conducted in that spirit.”
    • This is very well put. The whole essay is interesting. Ignore the typos and dig in!
    • Related: Gender crisis is really a marriage crisis (Inez Stepman, Tribune-Democrat): “…women with few or no ties to the opposite sex in the form of marriage and family are diverging sharply not only from the views of men, but also from those of their married sisters. Married men, unmarried men and married women are registering primarily the same political preferences, with only small gaps in voting patterns between them, while single women are running fast in the opposite direction from the rest. For example, a poll in the past round of midterms found married people of both sexes and single men all going for Republicans by majority margins within a handful of points of each other (52% to 59%). Single women, on the other hand, went strongly Democratic by a landslide of 68% to 31%.”
  5. Stanford President Will Resign After Report Found Flaws in His Research (Stephanie Saul, New York Times): “Dr. Tessier-Lavigne, 63, will relinquish the presidency at the end of August but remain at the university as a professor of biology.”
    • Tessier-Lavigne matter shows why running a lab is a full-time job (H. Holden Thorp, Science): “I had seen many researchers who had taken big administrative jobs struggle with overseeing their research group. Many incidents similar to those involving Tessier-Lavigne arose because the principal investigators were too busy attending to their other high-profile jobs. David Baltimore had to resign as president of Rockefeller University when scientific misconduct in his laboratory was uncovered (he later became the president of the California Institute of Technology, and like Tessier-Lavigne, was not found to have direct knowledge of the misconduct). In a different set of problematic interactions related to research, José Baselga resigned as head of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center because he failed to disclose (intentionally or not) industry relationships in papers published by his research group. These examples reflect how tending to a major administrative position and running a laboratory at the same time are simply too much for one person.”
    • Richard Saller to take over as interim president in September (Oriana Riley, Stanford Daily): “Stanford University is a huge operation with a $9 billion budget — about 10 times larger than the first Roman emperor Augustus had for the whole empire,” Saller wrote. “I have a steep learning curve ahead of me.”
  6. Religion as a Cultural and Political Identity (Ryan Burge, Substack): “People like the *idea* of religion, without the actual trappings of said religion. They are the kind of folks that talk about concepts like biblical values without every stepping foot inside a church. They want (primarily) Christian values to be protected, but they don’t actually want to spend much time understanding the theology around the values. For them, religion has become a social and cultural marker — not a spiritual one. It’s basically become another cudgel in the culture war. So, when the debate heats up over issues of sexuality, gender, or abortion these are the kind of folks who will post memes on Facebook that include references to scripture verses, despite the fact that they themselves never read the Bible.”
    • Emphasis in original.
  7. The Consuming Fire of Love (Peter J. Leithart, First Things): “God isn’t terrifying because he’s unloving. He’s terrifying because Love is terrifying—undiluted love, love that refuses compromise with evil, love that will not negotiate away the good of the beloved by allowing the beloved to set the terms of her love, love that promises a good and a future beyond all the beloved can ask or imagine.”

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 “Majority-Minority” Myth (Andrew Sullivan, Substack): “Most demographic estimates of the ‘white’ population are based on the Census definition: ‘non-Hispanic white.’ But what of ‘Hispanic whites’ — those whose lineage may come from South or Latin America in ethnicity but who also identify racially and socially as white? If you include them in this category, America remains two-thirds ‘white’ all the way through 2060 and beyond.” A fascinating read. From volume 289

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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.