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.