Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 280

I think this is the first time two of the articles are by alumni. Maybe someday it will be all seven!

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.

Next Friday is Christmas and a week later is New Year’s Day, so I’ll probably either skip the next two weeks or send something out on Thursday/Saturday.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Is Christmas a Pagan Rip-off? (Kevin DeYoung, Gospel Coalition): “…whatever the Christmas holiday has become today, it started as a copycat of well-established pagan holidays. If you like Christmas, you have Saturnalia and Sol Invictus to thank. That’s the story, and everyone from liberal Christians to conservative Christians to non-Christians seem to agree that it’s true. Except that it isn’t.”
  2. What I Saw At The Jericho March (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “Let me repeat this: a black Evangelical pastor denounced witches and Marxists and blew a shofar to defend Donald Trump’s presidency. If you had gone back in history a decade and told the world that this would happen one day on the National Mall, they would have put you in an asylum. Now you would be forgiven for thinking that our country has become an asylum.” This is long and engrossing.
    • The Dangerous Idolatry of Christian Trumpism (David French, The Dispatch): “A significant segment of the Christian public has fallen for conspiracy theories, has mixed nationalism with the Christian gospel, has substituted a bizarre mysticism for reason and evidence, and rages in fear and anger against their political opponents—all in the name of preserving Donald Trump’s power.” 
    • The Cult of Christian Trumpism (Michael Horton, Gospel Coalition): “My public calling is not to bind Christian consciences to my own political positions. Rather, as a minister of the Word, I am joining others in sounding the alarm that a line has been crossed into rank spiritual adultery.” The author is a professor of theology.
    • A Defense Of Jericho March Criticism (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “The kind of crazy talk at the Jericho March rally is going to get us all targeted by the state, and by wokesters in institutions, but will not advance our cause one bit. Besides, as a conservative and a Christian whose writing in recent years has been dominated by anger and anxiety over the loss of religious and civil liberties in the face of wokeness, I can say without a doubt that I would not want to live in a country governed by the radical nationalism and emotivist Christianity of the Jericho Marchers.” A follow-up to the long and engrossing piece atop this section.
  3. Why the coronavirus vaccine may not be accessible for the people who need it most (Rebekah Fenton, Washington Post): “Government authorities should keep this in mind. The most respected members of a community may not be those with the most education or the fanciest titles. Churches, community organizations and health-outreach programs often know the needs of the people they serve, have long records of meeting them, and have established strong bonds of trust….. Public health officials should respect these leaders’ commitment to service and involve them at the planning stages, instead of just relying on them to spread the word after decisions are made.” Rebekah, a doctor in Chicago, is an alumnus of our ministry. 
    • The Elderly vs. Essential Workers: Who Should Get the Coronavirus Vaccine First? (Abby Goodnough and Jan Hoffman, New York Times): “Ultimately, the choice comes down to whether preventing death or curbing the spread of the virus and returning to some semblance of normalcy is the highest priority. ‘If your goal is to maximize the preservation of human life, then you would bias the vaccine toward older Americans,’ Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former Food and Drug Administration commissioner, said recently. ‘If your goal is to reduce the rate of infection, then you would prioritize essential workers’…. The trade-off between the two is muddied by the fact that the definition of ‘essential workers’ used by the C.D.C. comprises nearly 70 percent of the American work force.”
    • A critical Twitter thread about vaccine rollout plans (David Algonquin, Twitter)
  4. Does Religious Affiliation Protect People’s Well-Being? Evidence from the Great Recession after Correcting for Selection Effects (Christos Makridis, Byron Johnson and Harold G. Koenig, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion): “Using Gallup’s U.S. Daily Poll between 2008 and 2017, we find that those who are engaged in their local church and view their faith as important to their lives have not only higher levels of subjective well-being, but also acyclical levels. We show that the acyclicality of subjective well-being among Christians is not driven by selection effects or the presence of greater social capital, but rather a sense of purpose over the business cycle independent of financial circumstances.” You should have access to the full text using your Stanford login. Christos is an alumnus of our ministry and is an economist in Washington, DC. 
  5. Like It Or Not, Keira Bell Has Opened Up a Real Conversation About Gender Dysphoria (Quillette): “In the debate about transitioning children who experience gender dysphoria, Ms. Bell’s case represents an important turning point. Ms. Bell, now 23, was 16 years old when she presented to the Tavistock Centre in London, which runs Britain’s Gender Identity Development Service. In a landmark ruling delivered earlier this month, a British court upheld her claim that she’d been rushed through gender reassignment without proper safeguards.” The author is unlisted, although this is perhaps simply a website error.
  6. Nuclear weapons agency breached amid massive cyber onslaught (Natasha Bertrand and Eric Wolff, Politico): “They found suspicious activity in networks belonging to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories in New Mexico and Washington, the Office of Secure Transportation at NNSA, and the Richland Field Office of the DOE. The hackers have been able to do more damage at FERC than the other agencies, and officials there have evidence of highly malicious activity, the officials said, but did not elaborate.”
    • Why the US government hack is literally keeping security experts awake at night (Brian Fung, CNN): “I woke up in the middle of the night last night just sick to my stomach,” said Theresa Payton, who served as White House Chief Information Officer under President George W. Bush. “On a scale of 1 to 10, I’m at a 9 — and it’s not because of what I know; it’s because of what we still don’t know.”
    • I Was the Homeland Security Adviser to Trump. We’re Being Hacked.(Thomas Bossart, New York Times): “The logical conclusion is that we must act as if the Russian government has control of all the networks it has penetrated. But it is unclear what the Russians intend to do next. The access the Russians now enjoy could be used for far more than simply spying.… Domestic and geopolitical tensions could escalate quite easily if they use their access for malign influence and misinformation — both hallmarks of Russian behavior.”
  7. Pornhub Removes Majority of Videos in a Victory for Exodus Cry (Kate Shellnutt, Christianity Today): “An announcement on Pornhub claims it has better policies than other platforms and blames Exodus Cry and the National Center on Sexual Exploitation for targeting the site. ’These are organizations dedicated to abolishing pornography, banning material they claim is obscene, and shutting down commercial sex work.’” Shared with me by an alumnus.

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 Against Against Billionaire Philanthropy (Scott Alexander, Slate Star Codex): “I worry the movement against billionaire charity is on track to damage charity a whole lot more than it damages billionaires.” This is a very interesting essay, and he has a follow‐up, Highlights From The Comments on Billionaire Philanthropy, which thoughtfully responds to criticisms. Highly recommended. First shared in volume 213.

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 129

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

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The homeless who help themselves get a needed lift (Kevin Kelly, San Jose Mercury News): “LifeMoves, formerly known as InnVision Shelter Network, is a 44-year-old [Bay Area] nonprofit that specializes in getting individuals into temporary housing and on a path to permanent housing. It claims a 93 percent success rate of getting homeless families housed and self-sufficient, and a 72 percent success rate with individuals. There is just one caveat: People who receive assistance — referred to as clients — must demonstrate a willingness to better themselves.”
    • Related: 5 Harsh Realities Of Homeless Camps Nobody Talks About (Evan Symon, Cracked): “If you live in a major American city, you’ve probably seen your fair share of homeless camps. They usually crop up in empty lots, parks, and Big Rock Candy Mountains. City governments generally have them torn down and cleaned up whenever they can. Leaving aside whether or not that’s the right way to address homelessness, somebody has to do the work of cleaning those places up. Our source, Carol, did just that.”
  2. People for sale: Where lives are auctioned for $400 (Nima Elbagir, Raja Razek, Alex Platt and Bryony Jones, CNN). There is a text story at the link, but the embedded seven minute video is worth watching, especially the first four minutes. This is a horrifying development in the migrant crisis — slave auctions.
  3. How To Think About Vladimir Putin (Christopher Caldwell, Imprimis): “When Putin took power in the winter of 1999–2000, his country was defenseless. It was bankrupt. It was being carved up by its new kleptocratic elites, in collusion with its old imperial rivals, the Americans. Putin changed that…. Russian people not only tolerate him, they revere him. You can get a better idea of why he has ruled for 17 years if you remember that, within a few years of Communism’s fall, average life expectancy in Russia had fallen below that of Bangladesh. ” This is a slightly older article, and so his comments about Russia’s role in the U.S. election aren’t very current. His broader observations are worth pondering.
  4. The Supreme Court hears arguments about the Christian baker who refused to bake a cake for a gay wedding on Tuesday. Lots of people are writing about it.
      • Against the baker: The Christian Legal Army Behind ‘Masterpiece Cakeshop’ (Sarah Posner, The Nation): “On December 5, with the full force of the United States government behind it, ADF will be asking the Supreme Court to carve out yawning exemptions from civil-rights laws for conservative Christians.” (this is less about the case and more about the firm representing the baker — it’s a hit piece but is full of interesting info)
      • Against the baker: The Masterpiece Cakeshop Case Is Not About Religious Freedom (Jennifer Finney Boylan, New York Times): “But Masterpiece has nothing to do with religious freedom. It’s about enshrining a freedom to discriminate. Historically, religious exemptions from the law have occasionally been granted to protect the person who holds the belief. But this case is different, in that it gives an individual the right to harm someone else. And that’s what the Masterpiece case is about: It would give individuals the right to discriminate.” The author is an English professor at Barnard College.
      • Against the baker: The Gay Wedding Cake Case Isn’t About Free Speech (Andrew Koppelman, The American Prospect).”It is merely telling him that if he sells any products to heterosexual couples, he must sell the same products to same-sex couples. He is free to refuse to write ‘Support Gay Marriage’ on any cakes that he sells, so long as he refuses that to both gay and heterosexual customers. So this is an easy case. Phillips should lose.“ The author is a law professor at Northwestern. This is the strongest argument I have read against the Christian baker.
      • For the baker: Stop Misrepresenting Masterpiece Cakeshop (David French, National Review): “Phillips isn’t discriminating against a protected class. I’ll repeat this until I’m blue in the face. He serves gay customers.”
      • For the baker: The Christian Baker’s Unanswered Legal Argument: Why the Strongest Objections Fail (Sherif Girgis, Public Discourse): “Should an Islamophobic sect get to force Muslim caricaturists to sketch mocking images of the Prophet? Clearly not.” Disclaimer: Sherif was a roommate of one of our alumni and is an acquaintance of mine.
  5. Dueling perspectives on the family lives of blue state and red state Americans:
    • Blue States Practice the Family Values Red States Preach (Nicholas Kristof, New York Times): “The liberal impulse may be to gloat: Those conservatives thunder about ‘family values’ but don’t practice them. But there’s also perhaps a measure of hypocrisy in the blue states. As Cahn and Carbone put it: ‘Blue family values bristle at restrictions on sexuality, insistence on marriage or the stigmatization of single parents. Their secret, however, is that they encourage their children to simultaneously combine public tolerance with private discipline, and their children then overwhelmingly choose to raise their own children within two-parent families.’” Kristof is a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist who was a Rhodes Scholar and is on the Board of Overseers for Harvard University.
    • No, Republicans Aren’t Hypocrites on Family Values W. Bradford Wilcox and Vijay Menon, Politico): “In other words, even though Southerners in general are at greater risk of family instability than Northerners, Republicans in the South enjoy markedly higher levels of family stability than their fellow citizens—a family stability advantage that puts them above Democrats and independents in the North. Another way to put this: It’s blue and purple Americans in the South who are really pulling down family stability in the South, not red Americans.” Wilcox is a sociology prof at UVA, where Minon is also a grad student.
  6. We Didn’t Become Christians Because Of The Hucksters (Michael Wear, Fathom): “If the world criticizes the pride of someone who claims the name of Christ—or who won the votes of those who do—point them to Jesus, who was born into poverty, who instructed his followers to take the low position, and humbled himself on the way to the cross…. There is nothing so wrong with the poor example of Christians that can’t be solved by proclaiming the perfect example of Christ.”
  7.  Stanford can take Junipero Serra’s name off its buildings, but it can’t purge him from its history (Charlotte Allen, LA Times): “The Main Quad, part of a master plan designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead, imitates Serra’s missions (with some Romanesque touches). Besides the Mall and the boulevard, other campus streets are named after his friar-disciples (Lasuén and Francisco Palóu), as well as José de Gálvez, the inspector general for New Spain who facilitated Serra’s missionary work in Alta California. If the Stanford activists aim to obliterate Serra’s presence from their campus, they’ve got their work cut out for them.” I didn’t know Serra’s influence was so pervasive at Stanford.

Things Glen Found Amusing

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have Letter To My Younger Self (Ryan Leaf, The Player’s Tribune): “Congratulations. You officially have it all — money, power and prestige. All the things that are important, right?… That’s you, young Ryan Leaf, at his absolute finest: arrogant, boorish and narcissistic. You think you’re on top of the world and that you’ve got all the answers. Well I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but the truth is….” Such a gripping letter. Highly recommended. (first shared in volume 99)

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).

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.

Archives at http://glenandpaula.com/wordpress/category/links.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 83

1 Chronicles 12:32 - they "understood the times"
1 Chronicles 12:32 — they “understood the times”

On Fridays I share articles/resources about broad cultural, societal and theological issues. Be sure to see the explanation and disclaimers at the bottom.

Things Glen Found Interesting

There are a few more links than normal because I missed sending out last weeks’s email.

  1. Northwestern Grad Student Sues Evanston Police; Dashcam Arrest Video Released (Laura Podesta, ABC Chicago Eyewitness News): Lawrence is an alumnus of our ministry. This one hits close to home.
  2. The Sex Bureaucracy (Jacob Gersen & Jeannie Suk Gersen, Chronicle of Higher Education): “Under the rubric of preventing sexual violence, colleges are now deep in the business of providing advice on sex and relationships. And they’re not good at it.” Even from a secular perspective, college administrators are acting absurdly.
  3. We’re Living Through The First World Cyberwar — But Just Haven’t Called It That (Marin Belam, The Guardian): “It is important to remember that the internet originally came from defence research….. we are living through the first time it is being used in anger.”
  4. Putin’s Real Long Game (Molly McKew, Politico): “What both administrations fail to realize is that the West is already at war, whether it wants to be or not…. This war seeks, at home and abroad, to erode our values, our democracy, and our institutional strength; to dilute our ability to sort fact from fiction, or moral right from wrong; and to convince us to make decisions against our own best interests.”
  5. Sugar, Explained (Julia Belluz and Javier Zarracina, Vox): “The backlash against sugar, and the science behind it, is a lot more complicated than it seems.”
  6. The Life And Death Of Evangelicalism’s Little Magazine (John Schmalzbauer,Comment): this was extremely interesting to me, although probably less so to many others.
  7. When There’s No Therapist, How Can The Depressed Find Help? (Joanne Silberner, NPR): Difficult to excerpt — very interesting story.
  8. Sometimes the People Need to Call the Experts (Tyler Cowen, Bloomberg View): There are some good insights here. My favorite line, though, was this: “It’s a good rule of governance that policy cannot race too far ahead of the citizenry, and I don’t view faculty as a class of people well-suited for that kind of humility.”
  9. The Ideological Reasons Why Democrats Have Neglected Local Politics (Emma Green, The Atlantic): “The progressive project is ultimately about working toward a society built on one unified vision of policy and culture, rather than a diverse array of policies and cultures.”
  10. Intellectuals For Trump (Kelefah Sanneh, New Yorker):  “We have grown accustomed to hearing stories about the liberal bubble, but the real story of this year’s election was about the conservative bubble: the results showed how sharply the priorities of the movement’s leaders differed from those of their putative followers.”
  11. Harvard’s George J. Borjas (Robert Verbruggen, The American Conservative): “Perhaps oddly for someone who gained immensely from moving from one country to another, Borjas has spent much of his career trying to answer the questions of who loses from immigration and how much.”

Things Glen Found Entertaining

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).

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.

Archives at http://glenandpaula.com/wordpress/category/links.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 81

1 Chronicles 12:32 - they "understood the times"
1 Chronicles 12:32 — they “understood the times”

On Fridays I share articles/resources about broad cultural, societal and theological issues. Be sure to see the explanation and disclaimers at the bottom.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Pastor, Am I A Christian? (Nicholas Kristof, NY Times): Skeptical but interested public intellectual invites Tim Keller to answer his questions about Christianity and then publishes the conversation. #goals  (recommended by a student)
  2. Free Pastor Andrew: Christians Rally for Missionary Jailed in Turkey (Kate Shellnut, Christianity Today) : “Turkey has accused multiple pastors of being ‘a threat to national security.’”
  3. China’s Great Leap Backward (James Fallows, The Atlantic): “This assessment implies that U.S. attention should be focused on getting through an upcoming time of difficulty, which could last years or decades, without panicking that history now seems to favor the repressive Chinese model of governance.” This is a long piece, but the issue is an important one and it is worth your time. For some sorta semi-related thoughts on Russia, read The Russian Question by Niall Ferguson: “the United States should be closer to each of Russia and China than they are to one another.”
  4. How Outrageous Are the New North Carolina Laws? (Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution) is helpful, and for some perspective read History Can Teach Both Parties (John Hood, Carolina Journal). The most alarmist view I have seen is North Carolina Is No Longer Classified as a Democracy, an op-ed by a political science professor at UNC. 
  5. Why the Catholic Church sometimes turns to science to investigate miracles (Kelsey Dallas, Deseret News): “The patient is still alive, posing an ongoing challenge to scientific researchers. ‘I have zero explanation for why she’s alive. She does,’ Duffin said.
  6. Why Oxford Dictionary’s 2016 Word of the Year Matters (Ravi Zacharias, Gospel Coalition): “There is an ultimate cry for justice in every heart. Justice counts on the truth. Without those two realities, civilization will die.” Recommended by a student.
  7. The Impact of Holy Land Crusades on State Formation: War Mobilization, Trade Integration, and Political Development in Medieval Europe (Lisa Blaydes and Christopher Paik, International Organization): “Areas with high levels of crusader mobilization witnessed more political stability in the centuries to follow. The causal mechanism that we put forward is that the departure of relatively large numbers of European landed elites for the Holy Land reduced the absolute number of elites who might serve as challengers to the king.” File away under explanations I had never considered. Blaydes is a professor at Stanford and Paik at NYU Abu Dhabi.

Things Glen Found Amusing

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).

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.

Archives at http://glenandpaula.com/wordpress/category/links.