Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 452

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

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

Things Glen Found Interesting

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

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

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

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

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

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 436

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 436, which isn’t an especially interesting number. It is, apparently, nontotient, but even after reading about totients I remain uninterested.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. From Vexing Uncertainty to Intellectual Humility (Michael Dickson, Schizophrenia Bulletin):  “I am a 55-year-old husband, father, friend, and professional philosopher. In 1992, as a graduate student at Cambridge University, a porter found me amongst the cows in the meadows of King’s College, after being there for 2 or 3 days. I was in bad physical shape, having eaten nothing, and apparently getting water from the river. He asked what I was doing. I replied: ‘I’m solving a problem about stochastic calculus.’ This statement was true, but did not answer his question. He took me to the hospital, where I remained for some weeks. It wasn’t the first time that I was psychotic, but it was, maybe, the first time that anybody noticed, the first time that I was unable to hide it from others, and therefore from myself.”
    • The author is a professor of philosophy at the University of South Carolina. A remarkable (and fairly brief) article. 
  2. GovDocs to the Rescue! Debunking an Immigration Myth (Rosemary Meszaros and Katherine Pennavaria, Policy Commons): “No one’s family name was changed, altered, shortened, butchered, or ‘written down wrong’ at Ellis Island or any American port. That idea is an urban legend. Many names did get changed as immigrants settled into their new American lives, but those changes were made several years after arrival and were done by choice of someone in the family.”
  3. A Peaceful Solution on Taiwan Is Slipping Away (Michael Beckley, New York Times): “…Taiwan provokes China simply by being what it is: A prosperous and free society. Taiwan’s blooming national identity threatens China with the prospect of permanent territorial dismemberment; and Taiwan’s elections, rule of law and free press make a mockery of Beijing’s claim that Chinese culture is incompatible with democracy. America’s words can’t change any of that. Chinese law explicitly states that Beijing may use force if possibilities for peaceful unification are ‘completely exhausted.’ Because of politics in Taiwan and the United States, those possibilities are dwindling.”
    • The author is a political scientist at Tufts.
    • Related: Taiwan’s China-skeptic ruling-party candidate wins presidential election (Emily Feng, NPR): “For security reasons, Taiwan does not allow absentee voting, mandating that all voters cast their ballots in-person, on paper only. The physical ballots are then counted by hand at every polling station, a process that is completely open to the public.” The implication being that they are so worried about Chinese meddling that they engage in radical transparency. Wow.
  4. Xi Jinping Is Not Trying to Make Christianity More Chinese (Fenggang Yang, Christianity Today): “Throughout December, the authorities once again tried hard to contain and curb Christmas celebrations inside and outside churches, prohibited students and others from participating in Christmas activities, and detained some house church leaders to prevent them from organizing congregational gatherings. Yet most churches, both the officially sanctioned churches and unregistered house churches, held Christmas Eve and Christmas Day worship services. The online evangelistic galas by Beijing Zion Church and other house churches on Zoom and other platforms are of high artistic quality. Christians shared discreetly on social media that church leaders baptized a number of new believers despite the current ‘bitter winter’ for churches in China.”
    • I found this bit fascinating: “Many people in the West may not know that in the Chinese Communist political system, the party’s policy is superior to state laws and trumps the constitution. The Chinafication policy has led to the promulgation of a series of administrative regulations and measures, including the vastly expanded Regulations of Religious Affairs that took effect in 2018.”
    • The author is a professor of sociology at Purdue.
  5. You Need To Be Cringemaxxing (Mary Harrington, Substack): “There is no way in the world to make going to church cool, and the most cringe thing of all is trying. Here’s the thing though: data consistently show that the happiest people — those who feel that their lives are most filled with purpose and fulfilment — are not necessarily those with kids — it’s those who go to church. Those, in other words, who are not just to be indifferent to cool, but actively anti-cool. The first step to a happy and fulfilled life, it appears, is cringemaxxing.”
    • Some other vaguely-related life advice: Risk-Aversion Is Killing Romance (Freya India, Substack): “Sometimes it seems to me we’ve become so suspicious of each other’s intentions that we pathologise romance and commitment, and end up psychoanalysing to death behaviour that’s actually decent. Now we take everything that comes with real love—being affected by someone else’s emotions, putting your partner’s needs first, depending on them—and call it damage or anxious attachment or trauma. No! It’s called deep connection! And God, yes, wouldn’t it be much easier if it was a pathology, a disease, one we could diagnose and solve because it’s scary and it comes without guarantees. But it isn’t.”
  6. “How Do I Find the Main Point of a Psalm?” (John Piper, Desiring God): “So, the point is to look at the pieces very carefully, to fit them together in midsize units, to jot down the main points of the midsize units until you have them all on a half sheet of paper, and then to think and think, and pray and pray, and think and pray and think and pray, and to organize and draw lines, and to try to fit them all together until they fall into place and you see how these five, six, seven, eight, nine points of the midsize units are in a flow that make one big overarching point. You will be surprised, if you take up pencil and paper and do this, what you will see.”
    • Recommended by a student
  7. Death by a Thousand Paper Cuts (David Brooks, The New York Times): “…[sometimes I] find a problem so massive that I can’t believe I’ve ever written about anything else. This latter experience happened as I looked into the growing bureaucratization of American life. It’s not only that growing bureaucracies cost a lot of money; they also enervate American society. They redistribute power from workers to rule makers, and in so doing sap initiative, discretion, creativity and drive. Once you start poking around, the statistics are staggering.”
    • Related: No joke: Feds are banning humorous electronic messages on highways (AP News): “Among those that will be disappearing are messages such as ‘Use Yah Blinkah’ in Massachusetts; ‘Visiting in-laws? Slow down, get there late,’ from Ohio; ‘Don’t drive Star Spangled Hammered,’ from Pennsylvania; ‘Hocus pocus, drive with focus’ from New Jersey; and ‘Hands on the wheel, not your meal’ from Arizona.”
      • You think Stanford hates fun? Try the federal bureaucracy!

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 435

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 435, a triangular number.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The Ground of Our Assurance (D. A. Carson, YouTube): three and a half excellent minutes
  2. No, Not Everyone Needs Therapy (Freya India, Substack): “… there are people who now feel pressured to get professional help for normal negative emotions—teens and pre-teens convinced the reason they’re sad sometimes is because they’re broken and haven’t paid enough to be healed. Now not going to therapy is a red flag. Seeking support from friends and family is exploiting their ’emotional labour’. And men are shamed for preferring to chat to their mates about their problems than pay a stranger, like that one BetterHelp ad where a woman dismisses a guy she’s dating because he ‘doesn’t do therapy’. Think about that! How have we reached the point where we’re stigmatising people for not needing mental health support?”
  3. What If There Is No Such Thing as ‘Biblical’ Productivity? (Brady Bowman, Mere Orthodoxy): “…the ‘productivity mindset’ seems to me, at least in some ways, deeply incongruent with the Bible’s vision of reality. To say it more simply, to adopt an outlook dominated by speed and efficiency and productivity is to adopt a perspective that is alien to the writers of Scripture.…”
  4. New technology interprets archaeological findings from Biblical times (Tel Aviv University, Phys.org): “Applying their method to findings from ancient Gath (Tell es-Safi in central Israel), the researchers validated the Biblical account, ‘About this time Hazael King of Aram went up and attacked Gath and captured it. Then he turned to attack Jerusalem’ (2 Kings 12, 18). They explain that, unlike previous methods, the new technique can determine whether a certain item (such as a mud brick) underwent a firing event even at relatively low temperatures, from 200°C and up.”
  5. US Intelligence Shows Flawed China Missiles Led Xi to Purge Army (Peter Martin and Jennifer Jacobs, Bloomberg): “The corruption inside China’s Rocket Force and throughout the nation’s defense industrial base is so extensive that US officials now believe Xi is less likely to contemplate major military action in the coming years than would otherwise have been the case, according to the people, who asked not to be named discussing intelligence.”
    • This may be the most important bit of geopolitical news you read this year.
  6. The Misguided War on the SAT (David Leonhardt, New York Times): “With the Supreme Court’s restriction of affirmative action last year, emotions around college admissions are running high. The debate over standardized testing has become caught up in deeper questions about inequality in America and what purpose, ultimately, the nation’s universities should serve. But the data suggests that testing critics have drawn the wrong battle lines. If test scores are used as one factor among others — and if colleges give applicants credit for having overcome adversity — the SAT and ACT can help create diverse classes of highly talented students. Restoring the tests might also help address a different frustration that many Americans have with the admissions process at elite universities: that it has become too opaque and unconnected to merit.”
    • Not the main point of the essay, but worth commenting that politics poisons whatever it polarizes.
  7. The Peculiar Story of C. S. Lewis and Janie King Moore (Bethel McGrew, First Things): “Lewis’s letters from this period are marked by an understated deep relief. He wrote to a frequent correspondent that he was only just beginning to appreciate ‘how bad it was’ in hindsight. And yet, though we miss the works he might have written under different circumstances, we might also wonder whether the books we have would have been the same, had duty not compelled him to die to self every day for the sake of one fragile, impossible old woman. In the end, his own words rang as true for himself as they did for everyone else: ‘Whether we like it or not God intends to give us what we need, not what we now think we want.’”

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 399

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 399, a Harshad number. That means it is divisible by the sum of its digits. 3+9+9=21 and 399÷21 = 19.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Science is a strong-link problem (Adam Mastroianni, Substack): “There are two kinds of problems in the world: strong-link problems and weak-link problems. Weak-link problems are problems where the overall quality depends on how good the worst stuff is. You fix weak-link problems by making the weakest links stronger, or by eliminating them entirely.… Science is a strong-link problem. In the long run, the best stuff is basically all that matters, and the bad stuff doesn’t matter at all.”
    • Highly recommended, has application to multiple domains.
  2. The Myth of Sexual Experience (Jason S. Carroll & Brian J. Willoughby, Institute for Family Studies): “…we review a series of recent studies using different national datasets that show that having multiple sexual partners during the dating years leads to higher divorce rates in future marriages. We also report the findings of a new study that examined how sexual experience histories are associated with the quality of current marriage relationships. Overall, we found that ‘sexually inexperienced’ individuals, or the ones who have only had sex with their spouse, are the one’s mostly likely to be flourishing in marriage.  These ‘sexually inexperienced’ individuals report the highest levels of relationship satisfaction, relationship stability, sexual satisfaction, and emotional closeness with their spouses.”
    • The article ends with this wonderful line: “While the benefit of experience can be seen in many aspects of life, sexual inexperience appears to still be the best pathway to marital flourishing.”
    • The authors are professors at BYU.
  3. The Toxic Reality of a Post-Familial Society (Aaron M. Renn, Substack): “South Korea is a particularly interesting case study. It has the world’s lowest fertility rate, with a total fertility rate or TFR of 0.78 (2.1 is needed just to keep population constant). It has also developed particularly unhealthy gender relations, elements of which we see echoed in our own country. As here, these have even started to carry over into politics. What we see in South Korea is that post-familialism can produce unhappiness and dysfunctional social and political dynamics.”
    • Related: Stop Treating Women Like Men (Sophie Fujiwara, Stanford Review): “In college, we don’t differentiate between men and women when advising students about their careers, as if their life arcs will follow the same trajectory. The greatest privilege that high-earning, educated women have is the privilege of choice, but this notion of perfectly equal career trajectories disadvantages women.”
  4. When Ideology Drives Social Science (Michael Jindra & Arthur Sakamoto, The Chronicle of Higher Education): “In complex areas like the study of racial inequality, a fundamentalism has taken hold that discourages sound methodology and the use of reliable evidence about the roots of social problems. We are not talking about mere differences in interpretation of results, which are common. We are talking about mistakes so clear that they should cause research to be seriously questioned or even disregarded. A great deal of research… rigs its statistical methods in order to arrive at ideologically preferred conclusions.”
    • The authors are a cultural anthropologist at BU and a sociologist at Hong Kong Baptist University, respectively.
  5. I was a teenage evangelical missionary (Jon Ward, Yahoo News): “These leaders wanted a muscular faith that didn’t shrink back from a fight. They wanted a dramatic faith too, full of spectacle. They were all big personalities, which they used to compensate for their lack of training, expertise, and experience. Faith, for them, was not the act of extending one’s self beyond the realm of what could be known to trust in what one hoped could be true. They had more certainty than anything. Christianity was true, no questions asked. For them, faith was a belief that they could call down miracles from heaven to heal the sick or predict the future or change world events. Leaders like Engle and Ahn didn’t come across as charlatans. They were very sincere. But early on in their lives, they got locked into a particular type of faith ministry, and they built audiences and followings based on that brand and that kind of faith. At that point, their livelihoods and incomes became dependent on catering to those same types of Christians. Personal evolution or growth became constrained by their business model.”
  6. Something interesting is happening in Tulsa (Trevor Klee, Substack): “I visited Tulsa through Tulsa Tomorrow, a program that flies out young Jews to Tulsa for a weekend to try to get them to live there. So far, from their own numbers, they’ve flown out about 150 Jews over the last 6 years and about 70–80 have moved.”
    • A fascinating story, not very long.
  7. A Radical Experiment in Mental Health Care, Tested Over Centuries (Matina Stevis-Gridneff and Koba Ryckewaert, New York Times): “By the end of the 19th century, nearly 2,000 [people with mental health problems] lived among the Geelians, as the locals call themselves.… That has made Geel both something of a model for a particular paradigm of psychiatric care and an outlier, often regarded over the centuries with suspicion (including by The New York Times, which, in a headline from March 23, 1891, called Geel ‘a colony where lunatics live with peasants’ that had been ‘productive of misery and evil results’).”
    • Recommended by a student.

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have Q: What Is a Hole? A: We’re Not Sure! (Jason Kottke, personal website): “As for straws — reason tells me they only have one hole but I know in my heart they have two.”  From volume 276.

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 395

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 395, which feels like it ought to have a lot of factors but only has 79 and 5.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. What if Kids Are Sad and Stressed Because Their Parents Are? (David French, New York Times): “The same year that 44 percent of teenagers reported suffering from serious sadness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 41.5 percent of adults reported ‘recent symptoms of an anxiety or depressive disorder,’ an increase from an already high baseline of 36.4 percent just months before. Moreover, while suicide rates have gone up in the youngest cohort of Americans, they still materially lag suicide rates among their parents and grandparents.… Teens do not exist on an island. The connection between parental emotional health and the emotional health of their kids is well established. Moreover, the way parents raise their kids can, of course, directly affect emotional health.”
    • I have unlocked the paywall on this one.
  2. Company that Trademarked ‘Worship Leader’ Makes Others Drop the Term (Kelsey Kramer McGinnis, Christianity Today): “Since 2016, Authentic Media has owned the rights to the phrase ‘worship leader’ when applied to periodicals, online publications, and websites with resources around worship. Prior to that, the trademark had been owned by Maranatha Music, Worship Leader’s previous owner, since 1993. The company also holds trademarks for ‘worship leader workshop’ and ‘song discovery.’ ”
  3. Is It Time to Quit ‘Quiet Time’? (Dru Johnson and Celina Durgin, Christianity Today): “If today’s common rituals of Bible engagement are not working, then we must disrupt them in favor of deep learning practices. These new habits could consist of communal listening, deep diving, repeated reading of whole books of the Bible, or some other strategy. But the assumption that daily devotions alone will yield scriptural literacy and fluency no longer appears tenable, because it never was.”
    • Recommended by a student, who says, “The title is very clickbaitish, but the article itself has good points. It’s critiquing the practice of only superficially and passively reading short passages of Scripture isolated from their context in the rest of the Bible and isolated from other believers.”
  4. Education Commentary is Dominated by Optimism Bias (Freddie deBoer, Substack): “The optimism bias in education circles has several orthodoxies. 1. Every student is capable of academic flourishing, and every time a student does not flourish, it must be the result of some sort of error or injustice.… 5. Anyone who disagrees with this doctrine hates children, supports inequality, and doesn’t care about poor people.”
  5. How to Learn and Teach Economics with Large Language Models, Including GPT (Tyler Cowen & Alexander T. Tabarrok, SSRN): “One general rule is that you should keep on asking GPT follow-up questions to get more out of it. It is more like squeezing a lemon than throwing a dart at a target.… Don’t be passive, as with GPTs you always need to ask, and it rewards you when you are being demanding.”
    • A lot of very good advice about using GPT and other LLMs in here in here.
  6. How to Understand the Well-Being Gap between Liberals and Conservatives (Musa al-Gharbi, American Affairs Journal): “The well-being gap between liberals and conservatives [showing that conservatives are happier and better-adjusted than liberals] is one of the most robust patterns in social science research. It is not a product of things that happened over the last decade or so; it goes back as far as the available data reach. The differences manifest across age, gender, race, religion, and other dimensions. They are not merely present in the United States, but in most other studied countries as well.”
    • The author is a sociologist at Colombia.
  7. A lot of Stanford-related stories, mostly negative:
    • The Marvellous Boys of Palo Alto (David Leavitt, The New Yorker): “To grow up in Stanford is to be a son of Stanford in a way that no mere graduate can ever know. Bankman-Fried is a son of Stanford if there ever was one, as am I. And what are sons of Stanford taught? That if we should get into trouble, even real bad trouble, we can rest assured that our parents will bail us out, which is tantamount to resting assured that Stanford will bail us out, since Stanford has taken our parents to its heart and feeds money regularly into their bank accounts and owns the land on which they live. This faith in the certitude of protection, if not unique to the Stanford nation-state, is, I am convinced, one of its most essential aspects.”
      • The author grew up in the house in which Sam Bankman-Fried is now under house arrest.
    • Stanford’s War Against Its Own Students (Francesca Block, The Free Press): “Any place that sets a bar so high that you have to be literally perfect to get there; and when you get here, if you don’t stay perfect, [Stanford] will punish you with every administrative resource they have for embarrassing them,” Paulmeier added. “To me, that just sounds like an abusive parent, not like an educational institution you should model your kid’s life around.”
    • Stanford’s Dark Hand in Twitter Censorship (Thomas Adamo & Josiah Joner, The Stanford Review): “Emails revealed that the Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO) actively collaborated with Twitter to suppress information they knew was factually true. Taibbi’s investigation revealed that Stanford’s Virality Project ‘recommends that multiple platforms take action even against ‘stories of true vaccine side effects’ and ‘true posts which could fuel hesitancy.’”
      • Emphasis in original.
    • Next Steps on Protests and Free Speech (Dean Jenny S. Martinez, letter to the Stanford Law School): “I want to set expectations clearly going forward: our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion is not going to take the form of having the school administration announce institutional positions on a wide range of current social and political issues, make frequent institutional statements about current news events, or exclude or condemn speakers who hold views on social and political issues with whom some or even many in our community disagree. I believe that focus on these types of actions as the hallmark of an ‘inclusive’ environment can lead to creating and enforcing an institutional orthodoxy that is not only at odds with our core commitment to academic freedom, but also that would create an echo chamber that ill prepares students to go out into and act as effective advocates in a society that disagrees about many important issues.”
      • The dean is spitting straight fire in this letter.

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 Sins That Cry Out to Heaven (Eduardo Andino, First Things): “The Christian tradition speaks of four peccata clamantia, or sins that cry out to heaven for vengeance: murder, sodomy, oppression of the poor, and defrauding workers of their wages…. This is not an arbitrary collection of sins.” From volume 274

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 393

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 393, which I find interesting because it only has two factors: 131 and 3.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Some AI thoughts
    • The Waluigi Effect (mega-post) (Cleo Nardo, Less Wrong): “Here’s an example — in 101 Dalmations, we meet a pair of protagonists (Roger and Anita) who love dogs, show compassion, seek simple pleasures, and want a family. Can you guess who will turn up in Act One? Yep, at 13:00 we meet Cruella De Vil — she hates dogs, shows cruelty, seeks money and fur, is a childless spinster, etc. Cruella is the complete inversion of Roger and Anita. She is the waluigi of Roger and Anita. Recall that you expected to meet a character with these traits moreso after meeting the protagonists. Cruella De Vil is not a character you would expect to find outside of the context of a Disney dog story, but once you meet the protagonists you will have that context and then the Cruella becomes a natural and predictable continuation. [And since LLMs are all about continuation, simulated Cruellas emerge predictably.]”
      • This was easily the most interesting thing I read this week. A very clever argument.
    • Why am I not terrified of AI? (Scott Aaronson, personal blog): “In the Orthodox AI-doomers’ own account, the paperclip-maximizing AI would’ve mastered the nuances of human moral philosophy far more completely than any human—the better to deceive the humans, en route to extracting the iron from their bodies to make more paperclips. And yet the AI would never once use all that learning to question its paperclip directive. I acknowledge that this is possible. I deny that it’s trivial.”
      • The author is a CS prof from UT who works at OpenAI
  2. Why the Mental Health of Liberal Girls Sank First and Fastest (Jonathan Haidt, Substack): “We are now 11 years into the largest epidemic of adolescent mental illness ever recorded. I know so many families that have been thrown into fear and turmoil by a child’s suicide attempt. You probably do too, given that the recent CDC report tells us that one in ten adolescents now say they have made an attempt to kill themselves. It is hitting all political and demographic groups. The evidence is abundant that social media is a major cause of the epidemic, and perhaps the major cause. It’s time we started treating social media and other apps designed for ‘engagement’ (i.e., addiction) like alcohol, tobacco, and gambling, or, because they can harm society as well as their users, perhaps like automobiles and firearms.”
    • A well-written and distressing summary of the current state of adolescent and young adult mental health. The author is a social psychologist at NYU.
    • Related: Review of 1,039 studies indicates exercise can be more effective than counselling or medication for depression (Ben Singh, Carol Maher, & Jacinta Brinsley, PsyPost): “When comparing the size of the benefits of exercise to other common treatments for mental health conditions from previous systematic reviews, our findings suggest exercise is around 1.5 times more effective than either medication or cognitive behaviour therapy.”
      • I expect this will be contested in future studies. Fascinating, though. The authors are all at the University of South Australia. The lead author seems to be the Australian equivalent of a MD/PhD.
    • Related: Lynching the Deplorables (Chris Hedges, Substack): “The Jan. 6 protestors were not the first to occupy Congressional offices, including Nancy Pelosi’s office. Young environmental activists from the Sunrise Movement, anti-war activists from Code Pink and even congressional staffers have engaged in numerous occupations of congressional offices and interrupted congressional hearings. What will happen to groups such as Code Pink if they occupy congressional offices with Republicans in control of the White House, the Congress and the courts? Will they be held for years in pretrial detention? Will they be given lengthy prison terms based on dubious interpretations of the law? Will they be considered domestic terrorists? Will protests and civil disobedience become impossible?”
      • This is a sane and sobering essay.
  3. Testing Common Theories on the Relationship Between Premarital Sex and Marital Stability (Jesse Smith and Nicholas H. Wolfinger): “The table below shows the wide range of variables we used to try to explain the relationship between premarital sex partners and divorce. Do any of them matter? The answer is a clear no. Without controls, people with premarital partners are 161% more likely to dissolve their marriages compared to people who tie the knot as virgins. In other words, premarital sex increases the chances of divorce between twofold and threefold. After including the laundry list of covariates shown in the table, the odds of divorce remain 151% higher—in other words, a statistical artifact away from being identical.”
    • This falls into the category of “research which is obviously true but which many people wish to disbelieve”
  4. Some COVID thoughts:
    • Covid backlash hobbles public health and future pandemic response (Lauren Weber and Joel Achenbach, Washington Post): “When the next pandemic sweeps the United States, health officials in Ohio won’t be able to shutter businesses or schools, even if they become epicenters of outbreaks. Nor will they be empowered to force Ohioans who have been exposed to go into quarantine. State officials in North Dakota are barred from directing people to wear masks to slow the spread. Not even the president can force federal agencies toissuevaccination or testing mandates to thwart its march.”
      • America usually comes through in the end. The article is super-angsty about all this, but I view it as an inevitable response to administrative overreach and also a fundamentally good thing. Distributed power is safer power.
    • Related: When a Renegade Church and a Zealous County Health Department Collide (David Zweig, Substack): “…extensive legal documents, totaling more than a thousand pages, reveal a county, and its health department, that went to extraordinary, and potentially unlawful, lengths to enforce its decrees. These efforts include levying more than $2 million in fines against Calvary, and a multi-faceted surveillance program of the church and its members, breathtaking in scope and reminiscent of totalitarian regimes, rather than an American county health department — the spy operation included stakeouts, forced in-person monitoring of prayer groups and other intimate activities, and tracking the cellular mobility data of churchgoers.”
      • The details in here are pretty wild. The comments are interesting — one of the pastors of a neighboring church disputes part of the account, but the author is like, “I’ve read sworn affidavits testifying to the contrary.”
      • So much going on — my main takeaway is that it really was worse in Santa Clara County than almost anywhere else in America. The technocrats felt empowered to an absurd degree.
    • Having said that: Here’s Why the Science Is Clear That Masks Work (Zeynep Tufekci, New York Times): “Brown, who led the Cochrane review’s approval process, told me that mask mandates may not be tenable now, but he has a starkly different feeling about their effects in the first year of a pandemic. ‘Mask mandates, social distancing, the other shutdowns we had in terms of even restaurants and things like that — if places like New York City didn’t do that, the number of deaths would have been much higher,” he told me. “I’m very confident of that statement.’ So the evidence is relatively straightforward: Consistently wearing a mask, preferably a high-quality, well-fitting one, provides protection against the coronavirus.”
  5. Earnings Are Greater and Increasing in Occupations That Require Intellectual Tenacity (Christos Makridis, Louis Hickman & Benjamin Manning, SSRN): “…we identify two broad occupational personality requirements, which we label intellectual tenacity and social adjustment. Intellectual tenacity encompasses achievement/effort, persistence, initiative, analytical thinking, innovation, and independence. Social adjustment encompasses emotion regulation, concern for others, social orientation, cooperation, and stress tolerance. Both occupational personality requirements relate similarly to occupational employment growth between 2007 and 2019. However, among over 10 million respondents to the American Community Survey, jobs requiring intellectual tenacity pay higher wages…”
    • Christos is one of our alumni.
  6. Sam Bankman-Fried is under house arrest at Stanford. Students are obsessed. (Lisa Bonos, Washington Post): “The university seems keen to play down his presence. Officially, the university doesn’t talk about Bankman-Fried. Stanford Law School didn’t respond to requests for comment. When asked whether they could confirm a rumor that a nearby student co-op had attacked the Bankman-Fried home with eggs, Stanford campus police did not respond.”
    • I have unlocked the paywall for this article.
  7. Dropping the SAT Requirement Is a Luxury Belief (Rob K. Henderson, Substack): “Columbia University, has just become the first Ivy League school to permanently abandon the SAT/ACT requirement for college admission. Elite colleges are eliminating standardized tests before they eliminate legacy admissions. Tells you all you need to know.…  Standardized testing should be freely available and compulsory for all high school students.”
    • This is 100% true.

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 Stop Being Shocked (Bari Weiss, Tablet): “The hatred we experience on campus has nothing to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It’s because Jews defy anti-racist ideology simply by existing. So it’s not so much that Zionism is racism. It’s that Jewishness is.“ From volume 272.

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 372

On Fridays (apparently some Saturdays) 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 372, a number I think is cool because it can be expressed as the sum of successive primes: 31 + 37 + 41 + 43 + 47 + 53 + 59 + 61 = 372.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. How Convenient, That Kanye West’s Behavior Could Not Possibly Be Influenced by His Mental Illness (Freddie deBoer, Substack): “Two things I really hate: morals of convenience and false friends. The types of people who say ‘mental illness doesn’t do that’ are the types to profess support for those with psychiatric disorders, but only when it’s easy, when the mentally ill are doing the socially approved things like talking to themselves on the subway. Which of course means that they are no friend to the mentally ill at all; support only means something when it comes at a cost.”
    • Somewhat related: How Kanye West’s Breakdown Makes Sense of Our Social Crisis (Russell Moore, Christianity Today): “Instability from this artist is hardly surprising. Several years ago, I noted that I was worried for the rapper—not because of his mental health challenges but because of what American evangelicals often do to celebrities who profess faith. Too often we claim them as, at best, mascots for ‘our side’ and, at worst, as trophies from the culture wars. Over and over, the church has expected things from these figures that they do not have the maturity, wisdom, or even stability to handle.”
  2. Review: When Narcissism Comes to Church (Samuel D. James, Substack): “But this book makes a monumental decision: a decision to put the Bible’s moral language to the side, to call a disorder what the Bible calls sin, to call self-actualization what the Bible calls repentance. This book’s aversion to biblical categories does not empower readers to confront spiritually abusive systems. It instead makes those systems harder to disrupt.”
    • This is an outstanding book review that puts its finger on a problem I frequently notice — when we disregard Biblical analysis we make it needlessly hard to bring Biblical solutions to bear.
  3. The Woman Who Gave the World a Thousand Names for God (Jordan K. Monson, Christianity Today): “Has there been a single translator in church history with Barnwell’s sway? We could talk about Jerome and his Latin Vulgate, used by the Roman Catholic Church as its principal translation for over 1,500 years. There was Luther and his German-language Bible. There was England’s King James I, if you credit him for commissioning his KJV—or William Tyndale if you feel like the KJV was mostly cribbed from his work.” The claim feels like hyperbole until you read the article. Wowsers. What a legacy!
  4. How California’s Bullet Train Went Off the Rails (Ralph Vartabedian, New York Times): “ ‘There were so many things that went wrong,’ Mr. McNamara said. ‘[The rail company] was very angry. They told the state they were leaving for North Africa, which was less politically dysfunctional. They went to Morocco and helped them build a rail system.’ Morocco’s bullet train started service in 2018.”
  5. 10 Affirmations and Denials on Ethnic Harmony, Justice, and the Church (Justin Taylor, The Gospel Coalition): “We simply cannot allow politics or secular culture to define our terms or determine our beliefs. Jesus puts his finger on ethnic harmony and says, ‘Mine.’ Therefore, the aim of these affirmations and denials is to rightly represent the voice of Jesus Christ. The One who designed ethnic diversity has unparalleled authority and has the final word on the whole issue.”
    • Somewhat related: The Placebo Of Affirmative Action (Andrew Sullivan, Substack): “A recent David Shor analysis found that, among Democratic policies, affirmative action was among the most unpopular — with even less support than ‘defund the police.’ More tangibly: on the nine occasions the policy has been put to the electoral test since 1996, it has lost eight times, most recently in super-liberal California in 2020.”
  6. Three Paradoxes of Atheism (Neil Shenvi, personal website): “Historically, one of the most attractive features of atheism has been its claim to stark realism. No matter how unappealing a godless universe may turn out to be, atheists claim to be committed to adhering to the truth at all costs. However, in this essay I would like to show that at the very heart of atheism are several extremely unexpected paradoxes, areas in which atheism is shown to be in tension with a commitment to realism and a life consistent with truth.” Recommended by a student.
  7. Spread of Catholic hospitals limits reproductive care across the U.S. (Frances Stead Sellers and Meena Venkataramanan, Washington Post): “Catholic systems now control about 1 in 7 U.S. hospital beds, requiring religious doctrine to guide treatment, often to the surprise of patients.”
    • The above article annoyed me and I was pleased to see this response: As Washington Post targets Catholic hospitals, every religious institution needs to build defenses (Timothy P. Carney, Washington Examiner):  “These journalists write as if the baseline is total acceptance of abortion, gay marriage, and transgender ideology and that the scary new thing is the religious hospitals or teachings that have been around for centuries or millennia. ‘Spread of Catholic hospitals’ is a funny headline because Catholics were the ones who invented hospitals. If you wanted to write a trend piece, you should really write about the spread of laws and lawsuits threatening Catholic hospitals, which are actually new.”

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 Is Joshua’s Altar on Mount Ebal in Israel Myth? Or Reality? (Ralph Hawkins, Logos): “When I was working on my doctoral dissertation about the Ebal site, I spent a week with Zertal. One morning while we were driving to the site, he told me his critics had accused him of trying to prove the Bible. They said he imposed a cultic interpretation onto the stone structure he had found. He explained, though, that he had been born and raised in Ein Shemer, Israeli kibbutz that was affiliated with a secular movement. He said he had grown up believing that the Bible was full of myths. When he did his graduate work in archaeology, he did it at Tel Aviv, the most liberal university in Israel, where those views were reinforced. He insisted he had not embarked on his excavation at Mount Ebal in order to prove the Bible. What he found there, however, had a profound effect on him. He said, ‘I became a believer at Mount Ebal.’” I love stories like this. Archaeology and the Bible is fascinating to me. From volume 243.

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 312

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.

312 is an idoneal number (which apparently there are only 65, 66 or 67 of — it’s wild how in math you can prove things that seem totally impossible to prove).

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The Bereans Had No Bibles: Re-envisioning Acts 17 (Griffin Gulledge, The Gospel Coalition): “The Bereans had no Bibles. It was rare for average folks in the early church to have an individual copy of the Scriptures. Indeed, it wasn’t until the Reformation era that mass production of God’s Word was even possible. What they had instead was a community—in this case the synagogue—which had a collection of writings we know as the Old Testament.”
  2. How Big Tech Targets Faith Groups for Censorship (Joshua D. Holdenried, Real Clear Religion): “Most tech companies’ user agreements ban content that discriminates on the basis of religion, yet their policies enable them to engage in such discrimination themselves.”
    • That is a very succinct way to express the hypocrisy. Put that sentence in your pocket — you will have occasion to use it more than you’d like in the future.
  3. Becerra and Biden Betray Medical Professionals Being Forced to Assist in Abortions (Roger Severino, National Review):  “The facts were stunning in their clarity, the victim was extremely credible and sympathetic, and the violator remained entirely callous and unrepentant. The UVMMC matter was the most open and shut conscience case in over a decade. I say was, because on Friday, the DOJ quietly, and voluntarily, dismissed the case. No admission of guilt, no injunction, no corrective action, no settlement, no nothing.”
  4. Related to health care:
    • Mistaken identity lands man in Hawaii mental hospital (Jennifer Sinco Kelleher, Associated Press): “Instead, against Spriestersbach’s protests that he wasn’t Castleberry, he was eventually committed to the Hawaii State Hospital. ‘Yet, the more Mr. Spriestersbach vocalized his innocence by asserting that he is not Mr. Castleberry, the more he was declared delusional and psychotic by the H.S.H. staff and doctors and heavily medicated… despite his continual denial of being Mr. Castleberry and providing all of his relevant identification and places where he was located during Mr. Castleberry’s court appearances, no one would believe him or take any meaningful steps to verify his identity and determine that what Mr. Spriestersbach was telling the truth – he was not Mr. Castleberry.’ No one believed him — not even his various public defenders — until a hospital psychiatrist finally listened.”
    • Dance Till We Die (Ari Schulman, The New Atlantis): “Covid security theater is when we claim our actions are aimed at fighting Covid, but actually part of our motivation is just to give the impression that we’re fighting Covid. Genuinely fighting Covid may or may not be one of our goals too, but what makes theater theater is that performance is one of our goals.”
      • Provides an interesting defense of wise security theater while also absolutely slamming what we got in its place.
    • Adumbrations Of Aducanumab (Scott Alexander, Astral Codex Ten): “I worry that people are going to come away from this with some conclusion like ‘wow, the FDA seemed really unprepared to handle COVID.’ No. It’s not that specific. Every single thing the FDA does is like this. Every single hour of every single day the FDA does things exactly this stupid and destructive, and the only reason you never hear about the others is because they’re about some disease with a name like Schmoe’s Syndrome and a few hundred cases nationwide instead of something big and media-worthy like coronavirus. I am a doctor and sometimes I have to deal with the Schmoe’s Syndromes of the world and every f@$king time there is some story about the FDA doing something exactly this awful and counterproductive.”
    • We Walk Among You (Freddie deBoer, Substack): “I do not want my mental illness to be accepted by strangers. I hate it and I hate myself for having it. Mental illness is not an expression of the beauty of every individual who has it but the most ugly element of their most ugly selves.… The worst part of this caricature of kindness towards the mentally ill may seem contradictory: it extinguishes the capacity for mercy. For only the guilty can be shown mercy; that is the most essential quality of mercy, its only meaning. And I am guilty. Many of us who suffer from mental illness are. Perhaps someday our culture will mature enough to understand that what we need is not to be absolved, nor to be exonerated, nor to be excused, but to be forgiven.”
  5. Anatomy of a Bad Idea: Affirmative Consent (Freddie deBoer, Substack): “So you get this huge policy change at hundreds of universities that does effectively nothing to stop sexual assault, infringes on the rights of the accused, and functions as a make-work program for overpaid ‘consultants’ and liberal writers, all while most people quietly recognize that nobody follows it, and support for that empty policy is enforced with missionary zeal not by true believers but almost entirely by people who are too scared to ask whether any of it makes any sense.”
    • My hot take? “No means no” and “yes means yes” are both pale imitations of “I do means I do” — and until we move back from consent to covenant we’re going to have lots of needless suffering.
  6. On Hungary
    1. Hungary is No Model for the American Right (David French, The Dispatch): “If you’ve been a conservative for any length of time, you’ve likely had what I like to call the ‘Sweden conversation,’ or perhaps the ‘Denmark debate.’ A socialist-leaning progressive friend will wax eloquent about the Scandinavian countries that combine high standards of living with generous welfare states and ask, ‘Why not here?’ .… Well, Hungary is the new right’s Denmark. Except that Hungary is a much worse place to live than Denmark.”
    2. “My favorite things Hungary” — my revisionist take (Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution): “Way back in 2011, when I was visiting Hungary, I did a post in typical MR style: My Favorite Things Hungary. I had no particular political point in mind, and indeed the current disputes over Hungary did not quite exist back then. Nonetheless, if you survey the list, just about every one of my favorites listed ended up leaving Hungary. The one exception, as far as I can tell, is film director Béla Tarr, but he is a critic of both nationalism and Orban. All the rest left Hungary.”
    3. Unpatriotic ConservativesTM 2021 (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “I can’t think of anything in recent memory that has been more revealing of where we Americans actually stand politically than Tucker Carlson’s visit to Hungary. As I wrote in The Spectator a couple of days ago, Hungary is a country with lots of troubles, including corruption. I won’t go once again into listing all the reasons why it’s important for Western right-of-center people to come here and learn from the Hungarians — I’ve been blogging about that all summer; I invite you to go through the archives here — so I’m going to try to boil it down.”
      • Dreher has a very different perspective than most American commentators, and I include him because his argument is interesting. I truly know almost nothing about Orban or Hungarian politics — but I am intrigued by how divisive Orban is in America.

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 20 Arguments For God’s Existence (Peter Kreeft, personal website): “You may be blessed with a vivid sense of God’s presence; and that is something for which to be profoundly grateful. But that does not mean you have no obligation to ponder these arguments. For many have not been blessed in that way. And the proofs are designed for them—or some of them at least—to give a kind of help they really need. You may even be asked to provide help.” I was reminded of this by a conversation with an alumnus. The author is a philosophy professor at Boston College. (first shared in volume 116)

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.