Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 419

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 419, a twin prime number (paired with 421).

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. I Left Out the Full Truth to Get My Climate Change Paper Published (Patrick T Brown, The Free Press): “In theory, scientific research should prize curiosity, dispassionate objectivity, and a commitment to uncovering the truth. Surely those are the qualities that editors of scientific journals should value. In reality, though, the biases of the editors (and the reviewers they call upon to evaluate submissions) exert a major influence on the collective output of entire fields. They select what gets published from a large pool of entries, and in doing so, they also shape how research is conducted more broadly. Savvy researchers tailor their studies to maximize the likelihood that their work is accepted. I know this because I am one of them.”
  2. Texting With AI Jesus (Casey Chalk, First Things): “Text With Jesus represents the age-old human vice of pride. Through our creativity and brilliance, we seek to ascend to God’s level, to be like him, and even to dictate terms to the divine. Or rather, the app is a diabolical inversion of this: Instead of being transformed into God’s image, we aim to make him into our own.”
  3. Baptized Bronze Age Pervert (Brian Mattson, Substack): “So-called ‘Christian Nationalism’ is a renaissance of 19th century ‘blood and soil’ nationalism with some ‘Christiany’ language sprinkled on top.… They are baptizing the language, ethos, and ethics of a Nietzschean pagan—a literal antichrist. An awful lot of ‘Christian Nationalism’ sounds to me like Baptized Bronze Age Pervert. Perverse, is right.”
  4. Who Has The Best Food? (Zvi Mowshowitz, Substack): “It is a fun question going around the internet this past week, so here we go. In particular, people focused on the question of France vs. America. As one would expect, those on the French side think those on the American side are crazy, it is insulting to even consider this a question. Those on the American side like food.… What I love most about American food, and eating in America in general, is that it is the opposite of the French mistake of trying to impress you or waste your time. American food wants you to be happy, it wants to give you the experience you want and not hold back, it values your time and it does not much care how it looks doing it.”
  5. Burning Man is a capitalist lie (Mary Harrington, UnHerd): “Sometimes described as an experiment in ‘radical self-sufficiency’, Burning Man is perhaps more accurately an experiment in creating a radical post-scarcity society by having done all your shopping ahead of time.”
  6. How to actually win back trust in news. (Isaac Saul, Tangle): “Now, there are a few things worth noting here. One is that a reporter who is liberal is not definitively a biased liberal reporter. There are fair journalists and there are hacks. I know a lot of journalists with liberal political beliefs who are harder on Democrats precisely because they care about fairness and about how Democrats act. I know a lot of liberal journalists whose politics you’d never spot by reading their reporting.…  This, in some ways, actually creates an unexpected imbalance in the media: Conservative journalists and pundits, sensing that they are the minority in the space, are far more reluctant to criticize ‘their side.’ Liberal journalists and pundits, understanding that they can ‘stick out’ or earn credit by being hard on both sides, are more willing to do so. It’s complicated. Just because The New York Times is overwhelmingly made up of people who probably vote for Democrats doesn’t mean that it’s always going to play nice with Democratic politicians. My favorite example to cite is that it was The New York Times that broke the ‘Hillary emails’ story, which effectively ruined her political career.”
    • Recommended by an alumnus.
  7. The Misogyny Myth (John Tierney, City Journal): “Gender disparities generally matter only if they work against women. In computing its Global Gender Gap, the much-quoted annual report, the World Economic Forum has explicitly ignored male disadvantages: if men fare worse on a particular dimension, a country still gets a perfect score for equality on that measure. Prodded by the federal Title IX law banning sexual discrimination in schools, educators have concentrated on eliminating disparities in athletics but not in other extracurricular programs, which mostly skew female. The fact that there are now three female college students for every two males is of no concern to the White House Gender Policy Council. Its ‘National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality’ doesn’t even mention boys’ struggles in school, instead focusing exclusively on new ways to help female students get further ahead.”
    • Long, worth the read especially if you’re unfamiliar with the arguments that modern society is structured to advantage women over men.
    • Related: How Then Should Men Live? (Mike Cosper, Christianity Today): “The new social script for women is at once purposeful and libertarian. Girls can do anything, as the slogan goes, including—if they want—pursuing a traditional model of marriage and family. Meanwhile, Reeves says, men have yet to find our new social script. The old role of breadwinner, protector, and spiritual head of the household isn’t merely viewed as quaint; it’s often seen as paternalistic or worse.”
    • I also believe this to be related: Secularization Begins at Home (Lyman Stone, The Institute For Family Studies): “By now, it should be clear that childhood, including before age 13, is the key battleground for religious formation, not adulthood. By the time a child goes to college, much of the religious question has already been settled.… For parents to keep their kids in the faith, they must recapture their influence. Shield children from schooling environments that relegate faith to a second-class topic, deny access to unsupervised online communities and pornography, and have daily, parent-led activities centered on family solidarity around shared faith. Families that do these things still have extremely high rates of successful religious transmission, but families who trust that children will ‘pick it up along the way’ fail to transmit their religious beliefs, and suddenly find to their great surprise that their 20-something children categorically reject their faith.”

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 391

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 391, which is a product of two of my favorite prime numbers. 391 = 17 * 23.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Facts Don’t Care About Your Healings (Samuel D. James, Substack): “Historically, ‘justice’ is about law. There’s an objective givenness to it that transcends personal narrative or experience, which helps to explain why justice historically has been right-coded. But this is no longer true. ‘Justice’ is left-coded because it has become narratival. Justice is what people talk about when they talk about their personal experiences. Justice is the subtext of people speaking their truth.”
    • This is an exceptionally acute bit of cultural analysis. Recommended for its core insight.
  2. America’s Culture Is Booming. Really. (Ted Goia, The Free Press): “Consider the fact that there are now 36 YouTube channels with more than 50 million subscribers—each of these has far more reach than any record label or newspaper.… Can all this transform our culture? The simple fact is that it already has. And it will continue to do so at an accelerating rate.”
    • There are some shocking stats in here even if you already know the broad outlines. Recommended.
  3. The Bitter End of “Content” (Freddie deBoer, Substack): “So long as advertising is the dominant funding source of the online world, any and every creative platform will be a race to the bottom. People will find ways to abuse the system to receive attention and money based on nothing more than manipulation.”
    • This essay is built around a really important insight. It’s worth reading.
  4. More on Asbury. I find it interesting that the New York Times, CNN, and the Washington Post all published relatively solid articles about it.
    • ‘No Celebrities Except Jesus’: How Asbury Protected the Revival (Daniel Silliman, Christianity Today): “By evening the crowd had grown to about 3,000, and the university had to set up overflow rooms. At the same time, an uncoordinated infrastructure of support began to appear. An Asbury student set up a table and started handing out tea and coffee. She said Jesus told her to. A woman in Indianapolis baked chocolate chip cookies for a full day and then drove down to give them away. A professor went and got cases of bottled water. Pizza appeared, unbidden, along with homemade potato soup, cake, a table of protein bars, and what one volunteer called ‘all the Chick-fil‑A.’ Someone volunteered to start organizing housing and put up signs with QR codes that people could scan to start the process of finding a place to sleep.”
      • I’ve unlocked the paywall for this one. Recommended for the behind-the-scenes info. Also, the “all the Chick-fil‑A” line made me chuckle.
    • ‘Woodstock’ for Christians: Revival Draws Thousands to Kentucky Town (Ruth Graham, New York Times): “The university estimates that the revival has drawn more than 50,000 people to Wilmore, a sleepy town of 6,000 people where the grocery store hosts a weekly Bible study and police cars read ‘In God We Trust.’ Asbury was founded in 1890, and its roots are in the Methodist and Wesleyan-Holiness tradition, which has a historical emphasis on transformative movements of the Holy Spirit.”
      • I have unlocked the paywall for this article. Includes details that are not in other articles I have read.
    • Why Students in Kentucky Have Been Praying for 250 Hours (Olivia Reingold, The Free Press): “It all started on Wednesday, February 8, when Zach Meerkreebs, a volunteer soccer coach who had addressed the student body only twice before, gave an improvised sermon about love.… In a final, kind of corny throwaway line, he said: ‘I pray that this sits on you guys like an itchy sweater, and you gotta itch, you gotta take care of it.’ Meerkreebs told me he was certain that he had ‘totally whiffed’ the sermon, and immediately got off stage and texted his wife, ‘Latest stinker. I’ll be home soon.’ ”
      • What a wonderful anecdote.
    • A nonstop worship gathering at a Kentucky school echoes an old Christian tradition (AJ Willingham, CNN): “The Asbury Revival, as it has been called, has captured the attention and imagination of every possible circle in the expansive Venn diagram of Christianity. Among their endless debates are some questions likely shared by those on the outside, looking in at the commotion: What in the world is going on here? And what, exactly, is a Christian revival?”
    • Opinion: What is Revival—and is it Happening at Asbury? (Craig Keener, The Roys Report): “Calvinists dominated the First Great Awakening, the Hebrides Revival, and the West Timor Revival. Wesleyans dominated the Second Great Awakening, the Azusa Street Revival, and the 1950 and 1970 Asbury Revivals. Witnesses from the West Timor Revival reported a sound like a rushing wind. Witnesses from the revival at Pandita Ramabai’s orphanage in India reported tongues of fire. Miraculous signs accompanied evangelism in the Shandong Revival. Why should an infinite God fit our boxes?”
      • Keener is an eminent New Testament scholar at Asbury Seminary (and, I might add, a graduate of my own seminary — AGTS).
    • Nonstop worship service at a Kentucky college is spreading through TikTok (Amber Ferguson, Washington Post): “Asbury University is no stranger to revivals but thanks to social media the latest gathering has sparked both national and international attention, attracting groups of students from at least 22 colleges and universities to descend upon its campus, and even gaining the support of former vice president Mike Pence, who tweeted his support of the movement.”
      • Pence apparently got saved while visiting Asbury years ago.
      • Also, the byline is surprising. She’s not one of their religion beat specialists.
  5. Time to Think by Hannah Barnes review – what went wrong at Gids? (Rachel Cooke, The Guardian): “Hannah Barnes’s book about the rise and calamitous fall of the Gender Identity Development Service for children (Gids), a nationally commissioned unit at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust in north London, is the result of intensive work, carried out across several years.… As Barnes makes perfectly clear, this isn’t a culture war story. This is a medical scandal, the full consequences of which may only be understood in many years’ time.”
    • Not much new here if you’ve been following. But the info is becoming more and more widespread.
  6. Selling a Positive Culture War Message (Richard Hanania, Substack): “The high-status way to oppose wokeness runs away from conspiracy theories, which are not only false and stupid, but have the added effect of portraying one’s opponents as extremely smart, successful, and competent. High-status opposition to wokeness is not only better electorally, but will bring higher quality individuals to the cause that will be willing and able to focus on making important policy changes.”
    • Mostly about presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, but also about larger issues of politics. Quite interesting.
  7. Do masks work? (Katelyn Jetelina & Kristen Panthagani, Substack): “The scientific ‘arc’ of mask discovery is ongoing. Science is always evolving. Do not let anyone convince you of a one word answer to the question: Do masks work? It depends.”

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 New Research Shows Religious Liberty Drives Human Flourishing – And Why This Matters Now More Than Ever (Christos Makridis, Real Clear Religion): “…religious liberty is an integral prerequisite for democratic governance, aiding the process for civic engagement and women’s empowerment and reducing the potential for public and political corruption.” Christos is an alumnus of our ministry. From volume 270.

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 390

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 390, which is the number of unique ways to sum up to 32 (in other words, 32 has 390 distinct partitions).

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Concerning Asbury:
    • Asbury Professor: We’re Witnessing a ‘Surprising Work of God’ (Tom McCall, Christianity Today): “By Thursday evening, there was standing room only. Students had begun to arrive from other universities: the University of Kentucky, the University of the Cumberlands, Purdue University, Indiana Wesleyan University, Ohio Christian University, Transylvania University, Midway University, Lee University, Georgetown College, Mt. Vernon Nazarene University, and many others.… In previous revivals, there has always been fruit that has blessed both the church and society. For instance, even secular historians acknowledge that the Second Great Awakening was pivotal to bringing about the end of slavery in our country. Likewise, I look forward to seeing what fruit God will bring from such a revival in our generation.”
    • a quirky but positive take on Asbury by Lyman Stone (Twitter)
    • Another interesting take by a PhD student at Asbury Seminary (Twitter)
    • A nonstop Kentucky prayer ‘revival’ is going viral on TikTok, and people are traveling thousands of miles to take part (Jake Traylor, NBC News): “The setup is simple. No projector screens or high-tech integrations, just wooden sanctuary chairs filled with people, and an open altar call with an invitation to prayer that still hasn’t ended. That equation has been a powerful recipe on social media. On TikTok and Instagram, videos hashtagged ‘Asbury Revival’ are racking up millions of views. At the time this article was published, the hashtag #asburyrevival had 24.4 million views on TikTok.”
    • The Revival at Asbury (Thomas Lyons, Substack): “For what it’s worth, it’s my initial evaluation that this is the real deal. None of the hallmarks of manufactured revival are present. And I’m not alone in this evaluation. As Lawson Stone, an Old Testament Professor at Asbury Theological Seminary, recently stated on social media, ‘The old saints know.’ Arguably more significant for the evaluation of the revival’s authenticity than the opinions of revival scholars are the testimonies of the prior generations who were present at similar moves of God within the community.”
    • The author is a scholar whose dissertation focused on revivals.
  2. No Hookups, No ‘Talking,’ and No Breakups: A Better Way to Date (Charles E. Stokes, Institute for Family Studies): “My wife and I have served as relationship mentors now for 10 years, and as a family scholar and professor, I’ve paid attention to every nugget of wisdom I could glean—not only from academics but from many of my students. I have been able to craft a better approach to dating that I believe improves the chances of success for singles desiring a lifelong monogamous relationship.”
    • The author is a sociologist at Samford. I am deliberately not including his proposed solution in the excerpt because it’s worth reading in full. If you read his suggestion out of context you’ll probably form an opinion about it too quickly.
  3. ‘Honoring’ Your Father and Mother Isn’t Always Biblical (Karen Wong, Christianity Today): “But does the Chinese understanding of filial piety really mean exactly the same as the biblical description of honoring parents? And can an emphasis on obeying the fifth commandment overlook or even rationalize parent-child relationships characterized by contention, pain, disrespect, and suffering?”
    • Not paywalled — I have unlocked it for you.
  4. Why America Needs Football. Even Its Brutality. (Ethan Strauss, The Free Press): “Modern life might be unfulfilling, but the fact remains you’re unlikely to die on a beach separated from your entrails. Still, the old imperatives remain. We have war within us, whether or not there’s one to wage. And the NFL gives Americans that war, as spectacle, week after week.”
    • Recommended by an alumnus. I am still skeptical American football can survive moms pulling their kids out of the sport and directing them to safer athletic exploits.
  5. Contra Kavanagh On Fideism (Scott Alexander, Astral Codex Ten): “In a free society, at one or another point in your life, you’ll actually have to form your own opinion about something. You’ll do better at that if you have some practice forming opinions. When experts have strong opinions on something, this is a good opportunity to practice your opinion-forming skills, see whether you get the same result as the experts, and, if not, figure out where you went wrong. This requires people to have some tolerance for others doing this.”
    • Started off quite uninteresting and then quickly ramped up. The question under consideration: how to balance deferring to experts with investigating things on your own.
    • A follow-up Trying Again On Fideism (Scott Alexander, Astral Codex Ten): “I come back to this example again and again, but only because it’s so blatant: the New York Times ran an article saying that only 36% of economists supported school vouchers, with a strong implication that the profession was majority against. If you checked their sources, you would find that actually, it was 36% in favor, 19% against, 46% unsure or not responding. If you are too quick to seek epistemic closure because ‘you have to trust the experts’, you will be easy prey to people misrepresenting what they are saying.”
  6. McCullough’s Mistake, and Ours (Adrian Gaty, Substack): “As long as education stays true to its past and cultivates faith and virtue, McCullough’s mistake doesn’t matter. But once education becomes unmoored from its origins, once it becomes openly hostile to religion, we betray our own origins – and condemn our future – by continuing to ’emphasize’ schooling. Our founders, pioneers like the Reverend Cutler, spread the gospel of public education not for its own sake but because such education in turn spread the Gospel. To achieve that good government and happiness they envisioned, our task today is not to encourage public education as it currently exists – it is to remake it in His image.”
    • Recommended by a student.
    • This is a follow up to the also interesting This is… Science! (Adrian Gaty, Substack): “These are profoundly anti-life, anti-human movements – yet they advance by manipulating our humanity, our tenderness, our hatred of suicide. Spoiler alert: the doctors and ethicists making these claims about abortion and affirmation are 100% on board with doctor-assisted suicide (which killed over ten thousand Canadians last year). They don’t hate suicide, not in the least — but they know that you do. They are using your compassion to create a culture of death.”
  7. In Defense of J.K. Rowling (Pamela Paul, New York Times): “Take it from one of her former critics. E.J. Rosetta, a journalist who once denounced Rowling for her supposed transphobia, was commissioned last year to write an article called ’20 Transphobic J.K. Rowling Quotes We’re Done With.’ After 12 weeks of reporting and reading, Rosetta wrote, ‘I’ve not found a single truly transphobic message.’ On Twitter she declared, ‘You’re burning the wrong witch.’ ”
    • The tide is turning on Rowling. She’s not where I am ideologically, but watching her be tarred and feathered for saying common sense things has been dismaying.

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 Does the Bible Pass the Bechdel Test? A Data-Driven Look at Women in the Story of Scripture (John Dyer, personal blog): “So does the Bible pass the Bechdel test? This short answer is: yes, there are scenes where two named women have a conversation not about a man. The longer answer is more complex, but also, I think, richer.” This is REALLY well done. From volume 268.

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 388

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 388, which has 97 as one of its prime factors. I just think that’s cool.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Be Open to Spiritual Experience. Also, Be Really Careful. (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “But precisely because an attitude of spiritual experimentation is reasonable, it’s also important to emphasize something taught by almost every horror movie but nonetheless skated over in a lot of American spirituality: the importance of being really careful in your openness, and not just taking the beneficence of the metaphysical realm for granted. If the material universe as we find it is beautiful but also naturally perilous, and shot through with sin and evil wherever human agency is at work, there is no reason to expect that any spiritual dimension would be different — no reason to think that being a ‘psychonaut’ is any less perilous than being an astronaut, even if the danger takes a different form.””
    • Douthat speaking a rare type of truth at the New York Times.
    • Dreher responds to Douthat’s column and goes much deeper: Psychonauts, Plinths, & Re-Paganizing Pop Culture (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “Douthat is emphatically correct that one should be extremely careful about this stuff. There is no reason at all to believe that the spiritual realm is benign.”
  2. Layoffs Broke Big Tech’s Elite College Hiring Pipeline (Anna Kramer, Wired): “…the fact that layoffs haven’t excluded the graduates of the top schools cleanly illustrates an argument that labor experts, computer science professors, and unions have been trying to make for years: The skills required for most of the jobs that power these larger institutions do not actually require degrees from the world’s premier computer science programs. If they did, Meta would hardly have choked off the internship pipeline it had spent years building, risking losing the trust of a generation of elite college graduates.”
  3. On Scientific Transparency, Researcher Degrees Of Freedom, And That NEJM Study On Youth Gender Medicine (Jesse Singal, Substack): “If you compare that to the protocol document, you’ll notice that of the eight key variables the researchers were most interested in — ‘gender dysphoria, depression, anxiety, trauma symptoms, self-injury, suicidality, body esteem, and quality of life’ — the ones I bolded are not reported in the NEJM paper. That’s six out of eight, or 75% of the variables covered by the researchers’ hypothesis in their protocol document (including the ‘officially’ preregistered shorter version).”
    • Emphasis in original. This is thorough. Singal is really, really good at this. I hate to say that I am instinctively skeptical of academic studies when they touch on human sexuality, but I am. It’s stuff like this over and over again.
  4. Pentecostalism from soup to nuts: A (near) complete history of this movement in America (Julia Duin, GetReligion): “Without a doubt, the portion of Christianity known as Pentecostalism was — by far — the fastest-growing movement of the 20th century, going from zero members on Jan. 1, 1901 to 644 million adherents worldwide now. It is the primary expression of Christianity in the Global South. It is the one form of Christianity to mount a serious challenge to the growth of Islam, mainly because of its appeal to the very poor and its reliance on the miraculous.”
  5. Why Not Mars (Maciej Cegłowski, personal website): “When the great moment finally came, and the astronauts had taken their first Martian selfie, strict mission rules meant to prevent contamination and minimize risk would leave the crew dependent on the same robots they’d been sent at enormous cost to replace. Only the microbes that lived in the spacecraft, uninformed of the mission rules, would be free to go wander outside. They would become the real explorers of Mars, and if their luck held, its first colonists.”
    • This is really well-written!
  6. Misinformation on Misinformation: Conceptual and Methodological Challenges (Sacha Altay, Manon Berriche, & Alberto Acerbi, Social Media + Society): “…the internet is not rife with misinformation or news, but with memes and entertaining content.… people do not believe everything they see on the internet: the sheer volume of engagement should not be conflated with belief.”
    • From the abstract. The authors are at Oxford, Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques, and Brunel.
  7. As Refugees Flood Into U.S., Chinese Christians Told To Wait (Susan Crabtree, RealClearPolitics): “The United States could grant the church members immediate emergency asylum, as it has done for tens of thousands of Ukrainians fleeing their war-ravaged country and the first group of Afghans airlifted into the United States amid the chaotic U.S. evacuation in August 2021. Just this month, President Biden announced plans to allow Venezuelans, Nicaraguans, and Cubans fleeing persecution priority asylum status as long as they arrived by plane and had private sponsors ready to help them resettle. When it comes to Chinese Christians trapped in limbo, the Biden administration is balking, while offering no explanation for the dramatically different treatment of these groups of foreign nationals seeking asylum. Human rights advocates believe they already have the answer: The Biden administration is wary of further rocking the boat with China amid efforts to repair basic lines of communication.”

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 particle collection that fancied itself a physicist (Ed Feser, personal blog): “Democritus’s point is that if the atomist says both that atoms are all that exist and that color, sweetness, etc. and the other qualities of conscious experience are not to be found in the atoms, then we have a paradox.” From volume 264.

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 386

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.

386 is interesting because it feels like it ought to have lots of divisors, but it’s just 2 · 193. Of course you can double any prime, but it still surprises me when I run across it. Primes doubled are, by definition, exactly as rare as primes.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Why I am a Christian (James Choi, Yale Faculty Website): “There are things about Christianity that are confusing or hard to accept as true. But in math, if we start with axioms that are solid, then we can prove easy theorems based on those axioms, and then use those easy theorems to prove counterintuitive, seemingly false theorems. We can believe the hard theorems because we have confidence in the axioms and the easy theorems. To me, the resurrection of Christ is the fundamental theorem of Christianity. If we can gain confidence in this, then this provides a foundation for us to have faith in the rest of the claims of Christianity.”
    • The author is a professor of finance at Yale. He’s had a version of this page on his official website ever since he was a sophomore at Harvard. He kept it up while applying to grad school and while going on the job market. Respect.
  2. Why the Media is Honest and Good (Richard Hanania, Substack): “My advice is to read the mainstream media, and trust the facts they present, while questioning the narratives. Understand where the biases are and correct for them. Read some of their critics too, but understand that those critics are almost more biased and less intelligent and honest than those that they attack. The few media critics who are better than the press are rare and deserve your support. The exception here is anything having to do with race, gender, or sexual orientation, where you should understand that establishment journalists are trying their best but can’t be trusted because they’ve lost their minds, or are scared of those that have, and you’d be better off listening to people with cancelable views.”
  3. The battle of the standards: why the US and UK can’t stop fighting the metric system (James Vincent, The Verge): “It all went back to Nimrod, he was saying. Nimrod, great-grandson of Noah and the ‘mighty hunter before the Lord,’ who had attempted to unite the world’s population by building the Tower of Babel so that humanity might climb up to Heaven itself. ‘And God intervened, stopping him from building the tower,’ said Tony. God then spread humanity across the globe, dividing us up into different nations with their own languages and traditions. As Tony understood the message of the Tower of Babel, it was that ‘People should live in distinct nations because it provides a unifying force in their lives. It gives them a sense of purpose.’”
  4. What if Diversity Trainings Are Doing More Harm Than Good? (Jesse Singal, New York Times): “Over the years, social scientists who have conducted careful reviews of the evidence base for diversity trainings have frequently come to discouraging conclusions. Though diversity trainings have been around in one form or another since at least the 1960s, few of them are ever subjected to rigorous evaluation, and those that are mostly appear to have little or no positive long-term effects… Some diversity initiatives might actually worsen the D.E.I. climates of the organizations that pay for them.”
  5. If Affirmative Action Ends, College Admissions May Be Changed Forever (Stephanie Saul, New York Times): “Colleges are planning behind the scenes for the court ruling, though they are reluctant to release plans, worried about potentially opening themselves up to legal action. ‘“‘We don’t want to get ahead of the court, and we don’t want to give the court any ideas,’”’ Dr. Pérez said.” Recommended by a student.
  6. Who is included by “inclusive” language? (Matt Yglesias, Substack): “…one thing you’d learn in a fancy American school is why you shouldn’t talk about the economic underdevelopment of Africa like this. You’d learn better etiquette. Or at least different etiquette — etiquette that will differentiate you from less sophisticated people who might run around saying offensive things about poverty in the Global South. For instance, a person without a proper education might refer to the countries in question as ‘the third world’ without having read Marc Silver’s January 2021 NPR piece about why this is offensive. But to Bright’s point, speaking differently doesn’t actually change anything.  And that, perhaps, is a big part of the appeal.”
  7. NHL player refuses to wear Pride Night jersey during warm-ups, citing religious beliefs (Jared Gans, The Hill): “I respect everybody, and I respect everybody’s choices. My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion,” he said while taking questions in the Flyers’ locker room after the team’s 5–2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks. “That’s all I’m going to say.”
    • Simple faithfulness is a beautiful thing.

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 Biblical Critique of Secular Justice and Critical Theory (Tim Keller, Gospel In Life): “In the Bible Christians have an ancient, rich, strong, comprehensive, complex, and attractive understanding of justice. Biblical justice differs in significant ways from all the secular alternatives, without ignoring the concerns of any of them. Yet Christians know little about biblical justice, despite its prominence in the Scriptures.” The read of the week. From volume 262

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 383

On Fridays (Saturdays when I officiate a wedding on Friday — congrats Alex & Andrea!) 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.

Happy New Year! Most of my readers know this, but this bundle of links is an overflow from a ministry called Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship at Stanford University. Today is December 31st, which is the biggest giving day of the year. If you are inclined toward generosity on New Year’s Eve, consider making a year-end donation to support the ministry.

This is volume 383, which is both a prime number and a palindrome. Not too shabby, 383. Hold your head up high among the numbers.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Reasons to believe, Christmas edition:
    • How Would You Prove That God Performed a Miracle? (Molly Worthen, New York Times): “Josh Brown directs the program in neuroscience at Indiana University Bloomington. He has published dozens of articles on topics like the neural basis of decision making in the brain. He has wire-rimmed glasses and a calm, methodical way of speaking. And after almost two decades of keeping relatively quiet, he is now speaking openly about his most surprising research finding: He believes that God miraculously healed him of a brain tumor.”
      • Highly recommended. The author is a historian at UNC.
    • When Mary Met the Angel (Rebecca McLaughlin, Wall Street Journal): “ ‘Science is the description of how God chooses to work most of the time,’ writes Russell Cowburn, a professor of physics at the University of Cambridge. ‘We know dead bodies don’t come back to life according to science. And yet Christianity is built on the observation that Jesus came back to life. I am very happy to say that at that special moment, God was acting differently.’ Like many other world-class scientists I’ve interviewed—including Francis Collins, former director of the National Institutes of Health—Prof. Cowburn came to faith in Jesus as an adult. He is not just trying to make scientific sense of a childhood faith that he cannot shed.”
      • Disclaimer: I know the author and am thrilled she was invited to write about faith for the WSJ.
    • A Christmas Conversation About Christ (Nicolas Kristof interviewing Russell Moore, New York Times): “The most important blind spot is perhaps missing why so many of us are drawn to faith in the first place. We really do believe the Gospel is Good News that answers the deepest longings of the human heart. I would just recommend that people read one of the Gospels with an open mind. Jesus loves New York Times readers, too.”
  2. A Darkness Revealed (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “…the great challenge here, as ever, is to strive to see our ancestors and our contemporaries with moral clarity, not whitewashing their sins and failings with poetic memory, while also recognizing their virtues — and in all cases, never, ever allowing their full humanity, the good and the bad alike, to be assimilated into the realm of ideas.”
    • I found this gripping. A man wrestles with the not-entirely-surprising revelation that his father was in the KKK.
  3. Urbana Missions Conference That Once Drew 20,000 Expected to Fall Far Short (Bob Smietana, Ministry Watch): “Jao said that lingering concerns over COVID-19 and the country’s economic woes are helping to drive projected attendance down for the conference, usually held every three years, but delayed until this year by the pandemic. Like many churches, he said, InterVarsity and other campus ministries are still rebuilding their attendance.”
  4. Our First Closeup Image of Mars Was a Paint-By-Numbers Pastel Drawing (Jason Kottke, personal blog): “On July 15, 1965, NASA’s Mariner 4 probe flew within 6,118 miles of the surface of Mars, capturing images as it passed over the planet. The image data was transmitted back to scientists on Earth, but they didn’t have a good way to quickly render a photograph from it. They determined that the fastest way to see what Mariner 4 had seen was to print out the imaging data as a series of numbers, paste them into a grid, buy a set of pastels from a nearby art store, and do a paint-by-numbers job with the pastels on the data grid.”
    • This is actually beautiful.
  5. Americans Have Found Their Happy Place (Tyler Cowen, Bloomberg): “Two economists, David G. Blanchflower of Dartmouth and Alex Bryson of University College London, have come up with a new and more intuitive way to measure well-being. The results are striking. If you consider US states as comparable to countries, 16 of the top 20 political units in the world for well-being are in the US — including the top seven.”
  6. The Media Very Rarely Lies (Scott Alexander, Astral Codex Ten): “The point is: the media rarely lies explicitly and directly. Reporters rarely say specific things they know to be false. When the media misinforms people, it does so by misinterpreting things, excluding context, or signal-boosting some events while ignoring others, not by participating in some bright-line category called ‘misinformation’.”
    • Follow-up: Sorry, I Still Think I Am Right About The Media Very Rarely Lying (Scott Alexander, Astral Codex Ten): “…I find it really interesting that so many commenters were so resistant to the idea that the worst and dumbest conspiracy theories of our time don’t involve outright lies. I think all of us — not just censors — want to maintain the comforting illusion that the bad people are doing something fundamentally different than the good people, something that marks them as Obviously Bad in bright neon paint.”
  7. Is the right winning the comedy wars? (Constance Grady, Vox): “It’s as though there’s some sort of fundamental disconnect between right and left on the issue of comedy. On a very basic level, the two sides seem to disagree on the question of what a joke should look like, what it’s okay to joke about, and what is so under threat that to joke about it would be unthinkable. No one seems sure how to talk about the difference, exactly. They just know that they want to be the funny ones.”

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 Fertility rate: ‘Jaw-dropping’ global crash in children being born (James Gallagher, BBC): “China, currently the most populous nation in the world, is expected to peak at 1.4 billion in four years’ time before nearly halving to 732 million by 2100. India will take its place.” From a long-term perspective, this is possibly the most significant news you will read this year. Some of you will still be alive when China’s population is half what it is now. And it’s not just China — many nations are on the same path (with only a few sizable ones headed in the opposite direction). From volume 259

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 367

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 367th installment, notable because 367 is a prime number and also the largest number whose square is composed of strictly increasing digits: 3672 = 134689.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Socialism, Nationalism, and Tolkien (Alec Dent, The Dispatch): “In our time of unprecedented wealth and safety, the once-defeated foe of illiberalism has made a reappearence.… due largely to a lack of appreciation for how good we have things right now, a lack of understanding of how we got here, and a lack of understanding of how a radical overhaul of society would alter the world as we know it.”
  2. The Despotism of Isaias Afewerki (Alex de Waal, The Baffler): “…fighters protested the decision that they should continue to serve without pay for two more years. A group of disabled veterans marched—there’s no verb that conveys the determined collective motion of their wheelchairs, artificial limbs, and sticks—towards the capital to demand their pensions. They were shot at with live ammunition. Some were killed, others were arrested and disappeared.”
    • I’d heard before that Eritrea was worse than North Korea in some ways, but this article really drove it home. Wow.
  3. Why People Are Losing Faith In Public Institutions (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “…if you relied on the Post to tell you about the world you actually live in, it would not have occurred to you that there is any other side to the library story than the virtuous pink-haired queer librarian and her allies versus the mob of bigots. If you are on the Left, isn’t it in your interest to understand why people are so upset, even if you don’t agree with them? Isn’t it in your interest to at least think about why the people of a town would rather defund their library rather than see it used in this way?”
    • This one is wild and Dreher, as they say, has the receipts.
  4. Can an Atheist Be a Moral Realist? (J. Budziszewski, personal blog): “…I can’t see how you can be an atheist and a moral realist at the same time. It is like eating a cake and still having it. If naturalism is true, then aren’t we just meat bags full of water with no dignity? My friend says I am caricaturing his position. Am I missing something, or is he?”
    • This is well argued. The author is a professor of government and philosophy at the University of Texas.
  5. Trump should fill Christians with rage. How come he doesn’t? (Michael Gerson, Washington Post): “I know that people inspired by [Jesus] have done great things in the past — building hospitals for the poor, improving the rights of women and children, militating against slavery, caring for the mentally disabled, working for a merciful welfare state, fighting prejudice, improving global health. But precisely because these things have happened, it is difficult for me to comprehend why so many American evangelicals have rejected the splendor and romance of their calling and settled for the cultural and political resentments of the hard right.”
    • Long and a bit rambly, nonetheless interesting.
  6. Publishing needs JK Rowling to be a monster (Victoria Smith, The Critic Magazine): “The trouble with JK Rowling is that she has done nothing wrong. Back in 2020, she wrote a carefully worded, compassionate piece about sex and gender.… This is a situation in which the punishment has created the crime and it’s one that is needed by members of the publishing industry who have spent years embracing the arguments of the most extreme trans activists while ignoring those of feminists. They need Rowling to be a monster. Otherwise they might have to respond, not just to what Rowling has written, but to the realities of the movement to which they have pledged allegiance.”
  7. Died: Queen Elizabeth II, British Monarch Who Put Her Trust in God (Dudley Delffs, Christianity Today): “The Queen’s love of the Bible and its gospel message led to her participation in the publication of a special book to commemorate her 90th birthday. Titled The Servant Queen and the King She Serves.… Her Majesty personally wrote the foreword, thanking readers for their prayers and good wishes. ‘I have been—and remain—very grateful to … God for His steadfast love. I have indeed seen His faithfulness,’ she wrote. The book was distributed to thousands of churches across the UK and throughout many Commonwealth countries prior to the Queen’s birthday in 2016. The book proved so popular that the Bible Society had to print another 150,000 copies to meet demand.”

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 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. From volume 234.

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 360

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.

360 is, of course, the number of degrees in a circle. It’s also due north on a compass.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The God Gap Helps Explain a ‘Seismic Shift’ in American Politics (David French, Substack): “Countless political and cultural issues don’t have a clear ‘Christian’ policy solution, yet when a party’s members perceive it to be the party of American Christianity, then the platform is wrongly infused with religious fervor, even on issues (like tax rates, gun policy, environmental policy, foreign policy, and countless others) where the correct religious answer is far from clear.”
    • The excerpt is not the main point, which is also good. Highly recommended.
  2. I’m a Scam Prevention Expert, and I Got Scammed (Natasha Lupinia, personal website): “This scam went against everything I thought I knew about social engineering attacks. The caller was professional, knowledgeable, patient, and easy to understand (connection issues notwithstanding). He had so much information about me already that, even knowing how easy it is to find sensitive information about people, I was inclined to take him at face value…”
    • Recommended by an alumnus.
  3. A cluster of links which touch on common college scenarios:
    • Pronouns: Progressivism’s Preposterous Plight (Farhana K, Traversing Tradition): “Without the ability to define a woman as female, for example, encroachment into women’s only spaces will become commonplace. There is no way for the state to protect the needs and wants of women, because nothing is essential to being a woman and no definitive feature of women that require such protections, because a woman is anyone who defines themselves as one. Yet for the Muslim woman who abides by the shar’i commands to veil from unrelated men and minimize physical contact, increasingly deconstructive attitudes to gender will pose a clash that few policymakers and members of the public have had the strength to accommodate.”
      • Interesting to see a Muslim perspective.
  4. The Great Fiction of AI (Josh Dzieza, The Verge): “…it might not be such a bad thing to have to apply a Turing test to everything I read, particularly in the more commercialized marketing-driven corners of the internet where AI text is most often deployed. The questions it made me ask were the sorts of questions I should be asking anyway: is this supported by facts, internally consistent, and original, or is it coasting on pleasant-sounding language and rehashing conventional wisdom?; how much human writing meets that standard?; how often am I reading with enough attention to notice? If this is the epistemic crisis AI-generated text is going to bring, maybe it’s a healthy one.”
    • I found this one super interesting and somewhat amazing.
  5. The Hypocrisy of Elites (Erik Torenberg, Substack): “…we see this everywhere: elites promote body positivity — the idea that being overweight is healthy — while being most obsessed with maintaining perfect health. Elites promote sexual independence and polyamory, yet themselves are most likely to be monogamous in stable long-term relationships. Elites complain about overpopulation and carbon footprint, but they’re the ones having the most kids and inflicting the largest carbon footprint.”
  6. The Fall of History as a Major–and as a Part of the Humanities (Tanner Greer, personal blog): “American culture has lost faith in history as a vehicle for understanding the human experience. Our high culture questions the very concept of shared human experience. It is hard for history—or any of the humanities—to flourish in a world that does not put much stock in the human. By adopting intersectional ideology as their own, the professional humanists have confirmed that they do not believe in the promise of their own discipline. And if they do not believe in it…. why should any 18 year old student?” This is an extraordinarily insightful essay.
  7. 33 Problems With Media in One Chart (Nick Routley, Visual Capitalist): recommended by an alumnus. I now know what astroturfing is.

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 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.” First shared in volume 227. I know I shared this recently in light of the Dobbs decision, and it is definitely worth sharing again.

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 327

Two weeks of content distilled into one. It’s like juice concentrate!

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 327, and 327 is the largest number such that it together with its double and triple contain every digit 1–9 once: 327 doubled is 654 and tripled it is 981. Odd but cool.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The Teacher Who Never Spoke (Maureeen Swinger, Plough): “The summer my brother Duane turned twenty, a formidable young man stayed with us on a break from the Ivy League. He had never, to anyone’s knowledge, lost an argument. Several weeks into his visit, my mother walked into the dining room where my brother and his friend were, in theory, eating lunch. In reality, both men were sitting at the table with locked jaws. One didn’t have to say, ‘I need you to eat.’ The other didn’t need to say, ‘Hell, no.’ They both knew exactly what was going on: the Ivy Leaguer was losing an argument to my brother, who had never learned to speak.”
    • This is from a while ago (2017), but I must have missed it. Simply astounding. I wept while reading it. Anyone taking a class where Peter Singer’s philosophy is highly regarded should read this ASAP.
  2. She was sold to a stranger so her family could eat as Afghanistan crumbles (Anna Coren, Jessie Yeung and Abdul Basir Bina, CNN): “Magul, a 10-year-old girl in neighboring Ghor province, cries every day as she prepares to be sold to a 70-year-old man to settle her family’s debts. Her parents had borrowed 200,000 Afghanis ($2,200) from a neighbor in their village — but without a job or savings, they have no way of returning the money.”
    • This is one of the most depressing things I have read in some time.
  3. What happens when people in Texas can’t get abortions: ‘Diapers save a lot more babies than ultrasounds’ (Casey Parks, Washington Post): “I always tell people, ‘Diapers save a lot more babies than ultrasounds.’ ” Haring said. “I don’t want an ultrasound machine. I want tons of diapers. Buy me $20,000, $40,000, $50,000 worth of diapers because if you have a woman who comes in with four kids — yeah, looking at the baby, she realizes it’s a human being. But if you tell her, ‘I’m going to give you diapers for all four kids,’ believe me, the diapers for all four kids is going to save that baby a lot quicker than a little pennant on the screen.”
    • It’s rare to read a sympathetic story about a pro-life center in a major American newspaper.
  4. Philip Yancey’s Message of Grace (Peter Wehner, The Atlantic): “Yancey told the parents in the audience that, biblically, God grieves as much as they do; that God loves their children as much as they do; and that God is deeply pained by the state of this broken world. To his surprise, he found his faith affirmed rather than shattered. He witnessed in person something the theologian Miroslav Volf wrote on the day after the Newtown shootings: ‘Those who observe suffering are tempted to reject God; those who experience it often cannot give up on God, their solace and their agony.’ ”
    • This is one of the most gospel-centric articles I have read in a major publication in quite some time.
  5. When All The Media Narratives Collapse (Andrew Sullivan, Substack): “If you look back at the last few years, the record of errors, small and large, about major stories, is hard to deny. It’s as if the more Donald Trump accused the MSM of being ‘fake news’ the more assiduously they tried to prove him right.”
  6. His Reasons for Opposing Trump Were Biblical. Now a Top Christian Editor Is Out. (Ben Smith, New York Times): “As the longtime editor of World, a Christian news organization that has a website, a biweekly magazine and a set of podcasts, Mr. Olasky has delivered a mix of hard news and watchdog articles about the evangelical realm under a journalistic philosophy he calls ‘biblical objectivity.’ It involves taking strong stands where the Bible is clear, which has led World to oppose abortion rights and support refugees, he says, and to follow reportable facts where the Bible doesn’t provide clear guidance.”
  7. Some pandemic perspectives:
    • The Covid pandemic is not taking the very best of turns (Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution): “While the fog of war is thick right now, the early data on Nu suggests that it may be a big deal. Even if it’s not, however, it has been obvious since we got the vaccines that vaccine escape is a concern. You can debate whether the probability of a vaccine escaping variant is 20% or 80%, but in any case we need effective contingency plans in place. If we fail to respond effectively to Nu, that will be a considerably greater institutional failure than anything that happened at the outset of the pandemic. We’ve had almost two years since the first COVID case and one year from the vaccine approvals to prepare. So I ask: what is the plan for the vaccine-escaping variant?”
    • The Weirdness of Government Variation in COVID-19 Responses (Richard Hanania, Substack): “But imagine at the start of the pandemic, someone had said to you ‘Everyone will face the existence of the same disease, and have access to the exact same tools to fight it. But in some EU countries or US states, people won’t be allowed to leave their house and have to cover their faces in public. In other places, government will just leave people alone. Vast differences of this sort will exist across jurisdictions that are similar on objective metrics of how bad the pandemic is at any particular moment.’ I would’ve found this to be a very unlikely outcome! You could’ve convinced me EU states would do very little on COVID-19, or that they would do lockdowns everywhere. I would not have believed that you could have two neighboring countries that have similar numbers, but one of them forces everyone to stay home, while the other doesn’t. This is the kind of extreme variation in policy we don’t see in other areas.”
    • The Vaccine Moment, part one (Paul Kingsnorth, Substack): “Covid is a revelation. It has lain bare splits in the social fabric that were always there but could be ignored in better times. It has revealed the compliance of the legacy media and the power of Silicon Valley to curate and control the public conversation. It has confirmed the sly dishonesty of political leaders, and their ultimate obeisance to corporate power. It has shown up ‘The Science’ for the compromised ideology it is. Most of all, it has revealed the authoritarian streak that lies beneath so many people, and which always emerges in fearful times.”
    • A tweet that made me laugh: “The WHO chose Omicron over Nu for the variant of concern, probably because it sounds too much like ‘new.’ But the next letter is not Omicron but Xi. Was that a little too on the nose?” (Jared Walczak, Twitter)

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

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

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

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

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 317

lots of pandemic and vaccination stuff

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 317 — a prime number.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Too Good To Check: A Play In Three Acts (Scott Alexander, Astral Codex Ten): “Did you believe that? I mean, that’s also a pretty cool story, isn’t it? Right-wing news outlets accuse the so-called ‘liberal media’ of bias, then get hoist on their own petard? Seems a bit too cute. Have you clicked through to any of the links yet? No? Not even after I admitted I’m probably biased here?”
  2. On vaccinations
    • It’s Time to Stop Rationalizing and Enabling Evangelical Vaccine Rejection (David French, The Dispatch): “For the Christian believer, the pursuit of freedom is inseparable from the pursuit of virtue. We do not seek liberty simply to satisfy our desires or to appease our fears. In fact, when we pursue the freedom to make our neighbors sick, we violate the social compact and undermine our moral standing in politics, law, and culture. Christian libertinism becomes a long-term threat to religious liberty itself.”
      • Although I am vaccinated myself, I am more sympathetic to vaccine reluctants than French is. I definitely do not think it is a religious liberty issue, though. It seems to me that this is more a matter of personal autonomy and the reluctance is largely driven by self-inflicted damage from the authorities. The CDC (for example) has repeatedly said and done extraordinarily stupid things in this pandemic. Very often you would have been better off doing the opposite of what they advocated for. People noticed. And so now that the official advice is to receive the vaccine, people who are resistant are applying an understandable heuristic.
    • I’m a Former Pastor, and I Don’t Believe in ‘Religious Exemptions’ to Vaccine Mandates (Curtis Chang, New York Times): “Christians who request religious exemptions rarely even try to offer substantive biblical and theological reasoning. Rather, the drivers for evangelical resistance are nonreligious and are rooted in deep-seated suspicion of government and vulnerability to misinformation.… The biggest threat to any legitimate right is the illegitimate abuse of that right.” Recommended by a student. Curtis Chang used to pastor near here and although we’ve never met I emailed with him once about a book he had written.
    • NRB spokesman Dan Darling fired after pro-vaccine statements on ‘Morning Joe’ (Bob Smietana, Religion News Service): “Daniel Darling, senior vice president of communications for the National Religious Broadcasters, was fired Friday (Aug. 27) after refusing to recant his pro-vaccine statements, according to a source authorized to speak for Darling.”
    • The ACLU, Prior to COVID, Denounced Mandates and Coercive Measures to Fight Pandemics (Glenn Greenwald, Substack): “What makes the ACLU’s position so remarkable — besides the inherent shock of a civil liberties organization championing state mandates overriding individual choice — is that, very recently, the same group warned of the grave dangers of the very mindset it is now pushing. In 2008, the ACLU published a comprehensive report on pandemics which had one primary purpose: to denounce as dangerous and unnecessary attempts by the state to mandate, coerce, and control in the name of protecting the public from pandemics.”
  3. The pandemic more generally
    1. One in 5,000 (David Leonhardt, New York Times): “Here’s one way to think about a one-in-10,000 daily chance: It would take more than three months for the combined risk to reach just 1 percent… I will confess to one bit of hesitation about walking you through the data on breakthrough infections: It’s not clear how much we should be worrying about them. For the vaccinated, Covid resembles the flu and usually a mild one. Society does not grind to a halt over the flu.”
    2. New Details Emerge About Coronavirus Research at Chinese Lab (Sharon Lerner & Mara Hvistendahl, The Intercept): “The documents contain several critical details about the research in Wuhan, including the fact that key experimental work with humanized mice was conducted at a biosafety level 3 lab at Wuhan University Center for Animal Experiment — and not at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, as was previously assumed.” Recommended by a student
    3. New Studies Find Evidence Of ‘Superhuman’ Immunity To COVID-19 In Some Individuals (Michaleen Doucleff, NPR): “In fact, these antibodies were even able to deactivate a virus engineered, on purpose, to be highly resistant to neutralization. This virus contained 20 mutations that are known to prevent SARS-CoV‑2 antibodies from binding to it. Antibodies from people who were only vaccinated or who only had prior coronavirus infections were essentially useless against this mutant virus. But antibodies in people with the ‘hybrid immunity’ could neutralize it.”
  4. Steven Pinker Thinks Your Sense of Imminent Doom Is Wrong (David Marchese, New York Times): “Given that virtually every climate scientist believes that human activity is warming the planet, how could anyone deny it? The answer is, people don’t necessarily believe what scientists say because they correctly sense that within academia a person can get punished for unorthodox beliefs.”
    • Including entirely for that excerpt. What I find fascinating is that the journalist is dismissive of this idea, which is not only clearly true but at the root of much societal dysfunction. We have a crisis of confidence in our culture because our experts seem determined to demonstrate their untrustworthiness again and again. Journalists are even more to blame than academics, which is why I think it is so hard for this journalist to accept Pinker’s claim.
  5. Perspective: The moral utility of history (Jon Meacham, Deseret News): “As a matter of observable fact, the United States, through its sporadic adherence to its finest aspirations, is the most durable experiment in pluralistic republicanism the world has known. Other national revolutions have descended into dictatorship and persecution; ours has produced enviable, if fragile, democratic institutions. In the main, the America of the 21st century is, for all its shortcomings, freer and more accepting than it has ever been.” Recommended by an alumnus.
  6. On the Texas abortion law
    1. Texas’ Abortion Law Should Force America to Change Its Ways (Karen Swallow Prior, New York Times): “In America, of all the pregnancies that don’t end in miscarriage, nearly one in five is aborted; this is a society in which things are wildly off track. A world like this, spun by forces that lead to that many lives being undone, doesn’t happen by chance. It takes all of us. It takes a village to make abortion seem like the best choice. We can change our ways, though.” The author is an English professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
    2. The Pro-Life Movement Must Transcend Politics (David French, The Dispatch): “To be pro-life does not mean supporting every possible strategy, even if only temporarily successful (a Texas state court has already issued a broad injunction against the law), designed to ban or limit abortion. Strategies designed to ban abortion do not necessarily help end abortion, and ending abortion is the ultimate aim of the pro-life movement.”
    3. How a former SLS professor and Hoover fellow helped shape the Texas abortion ban (Sarina Deb and Georgia Rosenberg, Stanford Daily): “Jonathan Mitchell was a visiting professor at Stanford Law School and former fellow at the Hoover Institution when he theorized the legal mechanism which laid the groundwork for the controversial Texas abortion ban that went into effect last week. If states wanted to circumvent judicial review, Mitchell wrote in a 2018 law review article, they could delegate the power of enforcement to private citizens. That is exactly what S.B. 8 does.”
  7. Strategic Citing (Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution): “[Scholars are more likely to cite other scholars who can help them out]… The finding is robust to controlling for self-citations, own-journal citations, and a variety of other possibilities. The authors also show that deceased authors get fewer citations than matched living authors. For example, living Nobel prize winners get more citations than dead ones even when they were awarded the prize jointly.”

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 Why Being a Foster Child Made Me a Conservative (Rob Henderson, New York Times): “Individuals have rights. But they also have responsibilities. For instance, when I say parents should prioritize their children over their careers, there is a sense of unease among my peers. They think I want to blame individuals rather than a nebulous foe like poverty. They are mostly right.” At the time of writing, the author had just graduated from Yale. Worth reading regardless of your political allegiances. First shared in volume 153.

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.