Merry Christmas! 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 331, a prime number.
Things Glen Found Interesting
- Mark Lowry, Did You Know Your Mary Song Would Be Controversial? (Bob Smietana, Christianity Today): “He added that most of the questions he had did not make their way into the song—only the ones that rhymed made it.”
- Kidnapped Missionaries Made Daring Escape from Their Captors, Fled for Their Lives on Foot at Night (Steve Warren, CBN News): “ ‘After much discussion and prayer, they became solidly united that God seemed to be leading them [to escape]. He said they sought specific signs from God, and He confirmed over and over that the timing wasn’t right yet. Then, the night of Wednesday, December 15 arrived. When they sensed the timing was right, they found a way to open the door that was closed and blocked, filed silently to the path that they had chosen to follow, and quickly left the place that they were held despite the fact that numerous guards were close by,’ Showalter said.”
- COVID related news
- Media Ignores GOOD NEWS On Pandemic (Breaking Points, YouTube): thirteen encouraging minutes. The title is a little clickbaity, but I guess they gotta pay the bills.
- The F.D.A. clears Pfizer’s Covid pills for high-risk patients 12 and older. (Rebecca Robbins and Carl Zimmer, New York Times): “Within a week of authorization, Pfizer is expected to deliver to the United States enough of its pills to cover 65,000 Americans. At current infection rates, that would be enough supply for less than one day if it were given to half of people in the United States who test positive for the virus. Pfizer is expected to deliver to the United States another 200,000 treatment courses in January and then another 150,000 treatment courses in February. The pace of deliveries is expected to increase sharply after that.” This is tremendous news.
- Professional Sports Are Learning to Live With COVID. We’re Next. (Will Leitch, NY Mag): “The leagues are now admitting what most of us are realizing but wary of saying out loud: COVID is just a part of our lives now, and if we don’t learn to live with it, we’re never going to be able to do anything.”
- The Vaccine Moment, part three (Paul Kingsnorth, Substack): “It’s fair to say that the ‘conspiracy theorists’ have had a good pandemic.”
- Covid Panic is a Site of Inter-Elite Competition (Freddie deBoer, Substack): “Rare and fatal events sometimes occur; that’s life. When you can you mitigate the risk. Death from a car accident is far more likely for me than death from Covid. It’s still rare, but there’s a risk, and putting on a seatbelt is a reasonable mitigation tactic. Simply never getting in a car, though, would not be reasonable. The risk reduction would not outweigh the considerable costs. So I don’t make that bargain. And thus with Covid. I’m vaccinated, I mask in most indoor settings, and if I develop symptoms I’ll immediately seek a test and quarantine myself. Those are acceptable tradeoffs, for me. As a now triple-vaxxed person who has had the virus previously I am intent on living my life as normally as possible, which includes not unduly worrying about it or demanding others do so. And I would argue that expecting otherwise from me would make you functionally an anti-vaxxer.”
- Why the Supreme Court Hasn’t Ruled (For Now) on Vaccine Mandates (Mark Movsesian, The Public Discourse): “The Court has not explained its reasons in these cases. But the justices’ caution is not surprising, for a few reasons. First, religious exemption claims generally pose hard questions, which are particularly troublesome in this context. The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified divisions about the value of religion and religious freedom in our country, and the justices might wish to avoid doing something to provoke further conflict. Second, the Maine and New York lawsuits are currently at the preliminary injunction stage, and the factual records in the cases are still unclear. The Court might reasonably think that it should allow the lower courts an opportunity to consider the claims further before it issues any rulings. Finally, the Court might think that state and local governments will themselves see the prudence of offering religious exemptions, as many already have done, considering the difficulties vaccine mandates have created for healthcare and other services.”
- COVID-adjacent but really about the FDA
- The FDA Has Punted Decisions About Luvox Prescription To The Deepest Recesses Of The Human Soul (Scott Alexander, Astral Codex Ten): “As a psychiatrist, I’m not supposed to say flippant things like ‘we give SSRIs out like candy’. We do careful risk-benefit analysis and when appropriate we screen patients for various risk factors. But after we do all that stuff, we give them to 10% of Americans, compared to 12% of Americans who got candy last Halloween. So you can draw your own conclusion about how severe we think the risks are.”
- This Scientist Created a Rapid Test Just Weeks Into the Pandemic. Here’s Why You Still Can’t Get It. (Lydia DePillis, ProPublica): “American medical device regulators have never been enthusiastic about letting people test themselves. In the 1980s, the FDA banned home tests for HIV on the grounds that people who tested positive might do harm to themselves if they did not receive simultaneous counseling. In the 2010s, the agency cracked down on home genetic testing kits, concerned that people might make rash medical decisions as a result.”
- Also COVID-adjacent but really about Facebook: Rapid Response: Open letter from The BMJ to Mark Zuckerberg (Fiona Godlee & Kamran Abbasi, The BMJ): “We are aware that The BMJ is not the only high quality information provider to have been affected by the incompetence of Meta’s fact checking regime.… Rather than investing a proportion of Meta’s substantial profits to help ensure the accuracy of medical information shared through social media, you have apparently delegated responsibility to people incompetent in carrying out this crucial task.”
- According to Wikipedia. the BMJ is the fourth-highest-ranked medical journal in the world by impact factor.
- Why the **** Do You Trust Harvard? (Freddie deBoer, Substack): “Harvard exists to make sure our society is not equal. That is Harvard’s function. You get that they just want to make it easier to turn down the poor but brilliant children of Asian immigrants, right? You understand that what Harvard and its feckless peers would like is to admit fewer students whose Korean parents clear $40,000 a year from their convenience stores, right? And you think, what, they’re going to be walking around Brownsville, handing out admissions letters to kids with holes in their pockets and a dream in their hearts? To the extent that any Black students are added to the mix by these policies, it’s going to be the Jaden and Willow Smiths of the world. If you think Harvard has any actual, genuine desire to fill its campus with more poor American-born descendants of African slaves you are out of your fucking mind.” Language warning, in case that was not obvious from the title. Also, much more correct than many people would like to believe
- Foreign Drones Tip the Balance in Ethiopia’s Civil War (Declan Walsh, New York Times): “Mr. Singer, the drone expert, said the experimentation with drone warfare in Ethiopia and Libya has parallels with the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s, when outside powers used the fight to test new military technologies and to gauge international reaction to determine what they could get away with. ‘It’s a combination of war and battle lab,’ he said.”
Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen
- Would you carry a walnut in your pocket for ten years? (Would I Like To You?, YouTube): four minutes
- How to Make a Flag (Penn & Teller Fool Us, YouTube): seven minutes
- Church Livestream Hits Record 3 Viewers (Babylon Bee) — livestreaming really does serve a need, but the numbers are funny
- It’s Official: New White House Dog To Be Named Karl Barx (Babylon Bee): partisanship aside, that would be a great name for a dog.
- Neighbor Bob’s Friend (Pearls Before Swine)
- A Simple Misunderstanding (Pearls Before Swine)
Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago
Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have America in one tweet:“We are living in an era of woke capitalism in which companies pretend to care about social justice to sell products to people who pretend to hate capitalism.” (Clay Routledge, Twitter) First shared in volume 186.
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.
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.