Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 356

from the week abortion fell

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 356, which is a happy number (something I learned about only today). A happy number is a number whose digits when squared sum to 1 if the process is repeated long enough. 356 takes six iterations.

  1. 356 ==> 32+52+62 = 9+25+36 = 70.
  2. 70 ==> 72+02 = 49.
  3. 49 ==> 42+92 = 16+81 = 97.
  4. 97 ==> 92+72 = 81+49 = 130
  5. 130 ==> 12+32+02 = 1+9+0 = 10
  6. 10 ==> 12 + 02 = 1

I got way more into that than I expected.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The huge news today is that abortion is no longer a constitutional right in America. I expect deeper analyses to appear by next week — most columnists appear to be saving their big pieces for the Sunday papers. Send recommendations my way!
    • What changed from Justice Alito’s draft opinion to final ruling on Roe (Kelly Hooper, Politico): “…Alito did add to his original opinion, with a fierce rebuttal of the court’s liberal dissenters, plus a direct shot at Chief Justice John Roberts in the final text. Roberts was the only conservative justice on the court to side with its three liberals, making the final vote 5–4 in the decision to strike down Roe and give states the green light to ban abortion.”
    • Supreme Court overturns constitutional right to abortion (Amy Howe, SCOTUSblog): “Stare decisis, Alito stressed, ‘is not a straitjacket’ when a ruling is grievously incorrect.… Notably, the dissenters finished by noting only that they dissented, omitting the word ‘respectfully’ that commonly accompanies the dissent.”
      • A good summary of the opinion. The author used to teach at Stanford Law School. That last sentence is important.
    • From the right: The Land is Bright (Jake Meador, Mere Orthodoxy): “Some desire to downplay this victory or even to lament the manner of it. We should not. Federal law in America once recognized a right to kill unborn children. Now it does not. Our feelings should be unambiguous: it is a great good that over half the states in our union are soon likely to have laws granting sweeping protections to the unborn. And we can just say that it is good.”
    • From the left: Which rights are next on the Supreme Court’s chopping block? (Ian Millhouser, Vox): “In any event, the future of rights other than abortion will likely need to be litigated. There is no doubt that Thomas would happily light many existing rights on fire. And there is little doubt that Alito, based on his Obergefell dissent, would also happily tear down same-sex marriage. But it takes five votes to strip away an existing constitutional right, and it remains to be seen whether Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett — conservatives who sometimes break with Alito’s most aggressive attempts to drive the law to the right — will support mass rollbacks of existing rights.”
      • Millhouser is often hyperbolic and fails to read ideas he disagrees with fairly, but this is a pretty good summary.
    • From the right: The Supreme Court strikes down Roe and Casey (Albert Mohler, World): “…pro-life Americans have learned not to assume anything and to wait to see any decision in the black and white of plain text. Well, we have the plain text. It is explosive. It is earthshaking.… It is an answer to prayer.”
      • The author is a seminary president and also the president of the Evangelical Theological Society.
    • From the left: Getting Real About the Post-‘Roe’ World (Scott Lemieux, The American Prospect): “The theory went that Republican elites didn’t really want to overrule Roe, but were merely pretending to for the sake of pandering to their base. This narrative was always false; the survival of Roe was always a highly contingent fluke, the product of several mistakes by Republican presidents.”
    • From the right: The Long Battle to Overturn Roe (Ed Whelan, National Review): “There are at least two large reasons that the long battle to overturn Roe has succeeded. First, pro-lifers did not heed Casey’s command that they give up on working to defend the lives of unborn human beings, and they remained a powerful political force in the Republican party, all the more so as nearly all Democrats had abandoned the pro-life cause. Second, the conservative legal movement grew and flourished, thanks in large part to the Federalist Society and to Justice Scalia and Justice Thomas.”
    • From the left: Republicans Are Willing to Pay a Political Price to Ban Abortion. It’s Up to Democrats to Make Them Pay It. (Josh Barro, Substack): “After the draft decision leaked, Democrats brought a wish-list bill to the floor of both chambers that even pro-choice Republicans — even Sen. Susan Collins — were able to comfortably vote against on the grounds that it was too extreme, more expansive than Casey. Democrats need to break the agenda into pieces.… Unlike a catch-all bill, there are many individual ideas about protecting abortion rights that are very broadly popular — bringing them to the floor puts Republicans in the position of either voting for policies to protect abortion rights, or going home to defend votes that are actually hard to defend in election campaigns.”
      • Both parties should do this on a whole host of issues. Politics would change quickly if our leaders governed this way. Barro is right about the shrewd strategy, but I think it unlikely that his party will heed him.
  2. Made in America: Goods Exports by State (Raul Amoros, Visual Capitalist): “Texas has been the top exporting state in the U.S. for an incredible 20 years in a row. Last year, Texas exported $375 billion worth of goods, which is more than California ($175 billion), New York ($85 billion), and Louisiana ($77 billion) combined. The state’s largest manufacturing export category is petroleum and coal products, but it’s also important to mention that Texas led the nation in tech exports for the ninth straight year. California was the second highest exporter of goods in 2021 with a total value of $175 billion, an increase of 12% from the previous year.”
    • Surprises here, recommended by an alumnus. Emphasis in the original.
  3. Mike Pence and the Christian Conflict on January 6 (David French, The Dispatch): “A healthy national culture both condemns cowardice and honors valor, even when valor is simply part of the job. And we should do both with an immense measure of humility. How many of us have proven our own courage under similar circumstances? Pence faced threats to his family, threats to himself, threats to his power, and threats to the rest of his career. How many of us have prevailed in the face of such pressure?  To scorn courage in such circumstances further incentivizes cowardice. At least the cowardly retain their political power and their political home.”
  4. In Defense of Political Escalation (Abigail Shrier, Bari Weiss’ Substack): “If our ultimate goal is returning to a normalcy in which government agencies and corporations treat all Americans fairly regardless of viewpoint, how are we to achieve this? At a minimum, we must acknowledge that these institutions are already weaponized and their artillery points only in one direction: against the opponents of the left.”
    • To my knowledge Shrier is not religious and is in no way conservative, but she is articulating an argument that I see frequently on the right (most famously in the French/Ahmari dustup). It animates Trumpism and is one of the reasons DeSantis is so popular on the right and that American conservatives have such a fascination with Orban in Hungary.
  5. Pentecostals’ Political Warfare (Miguel Petrosky, The Revealer): “Issues like abortion and same-sex marriage, and even fears of creeping ‘Marxism,’ have long been of concern to some factions of American conservatism. But in parts of the Pentecostal and charismatic world, these issues contain cosmic implications for the country’s relationship with God. In the Hebrew Scriptures, each of Israel’s kings either ‘did what was right’ or ‘did what was evil’ in the eyes of God—with either blessings or curses for the kingdom. Since Pentecostals view themselves as being a continuation of the biblical narrative, they are certain God will judge America by the issues they view as straying from the Bible.”
  6. Leaked Audio From 80 Internal TikTok Meetings Shows That US User Data Has Been Repeatedly Accessed From China (Emily Baker-White, BuzzFeed News): “Lawmakers’ fear that the Chinese government will be able to get its hands on American data through ByteDance is rooted in the reality that Chinese companies are subject to the whims of the authoritarian Chinese Communist Party, which has been cracking down on its homegrown tech giants over the last year. The risk is that the government could force ByteDance to collect and turn over information as a form of ‘data espionage.’ There is, however, another concern: that the soft power of the Chinese government could impact how ByteDance executives direct their American counterparts to adjust the levers of TikTok’s powerful ‘For You’ algorithm, which recommends videos to its more than 1 billion users. Sen. Ted Cruz, for instance, has called TikTok ‘a Trojan horse the Chinese Communist Party can use to influence what Americans see, hear, and ultimately think.’ ”
  7. Quest to Conquer a Disease (Amy Lynn Smith, AG News): “Gibson met Hong as he ate lunch with another intern in the student union. Hong asked to join them, and afterward Gibson and Hong began meeting for tea or coffee every week. Gibson learned that Hong, the night before he introduced himself, had a dream in which a man encouraged Hong to meet people on campus. Hong later came to recognize the man in the dream as Jesus. A friendship developed between Hong and Gibson.”
    • This is about two of our alumni: Dan Gibson, who did his ministry training with Chi Alpha Stanford several years ago, and Guosong “Frank” Hong who did his PhD here and is now a professor.

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 How To Ask Your Mentors For Help (Derek Sivers): this is super‐short and very good. Excerpting it would ruin it. Read the whole thing. First shared in volume 224.

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 350

Fewer main topics than normal, but a bunch of articles in the topics

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 350, and 350 is a very respectable number. I’m impressed.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. How Politics Poisoned the Evangelical Church (Tim Alberta, The Atlantic): “Having grown up just down the road, the son of the senior pastor at another church in town, I’ve spent my life watching evangelicalism morph from a spiritual disposition into a political identity. It’s heartbreaking. So many people who love the Lord, who give their time and money to the poor and the mourning and the persecuted, have been reduced to a caricature. But I understand why. Evangelicals—including my own father—became compulsively political, allowing specific ethical arguments to snowball into full-blown partisan advocacy, often in ways that distracted from their mission of evangelizing for Christ.”
  2. Being a Political Journalist Made Me a Better Christian (Jon Ward, Christianity Today): “But Christians cannot be the conscience of the state if we are not first the conscience of whichever political party we belong to. We have the difficult task of belonging to political parties and working for the good of the country through those institutions, while also standing apart from those parties to criticize them at times for their weaknesses, errors, and corruptions.” The entire essay is delightful.
  3. A controversy about how Christians should engage in the public square:
    • How I Evolved on Tim Keller (James R. Wood, First Things): “If we assume that winsomeness will gain a favorable hearing, when Christians consistently receive heated pushback, we will be tempted to think our convictions are the problem. If winsomeness is met with hostility, it is easy to wonder, ‘Are we in the wrong?’ Thus the slide toward secular culture’s reasoning is greased. A ‘secular-friendly’ politics has problems similar to ‘seeker-friendly’ worship. An excessive concern to appeal to the unchurched is plagued by the accommodationist temptation.”
    • A Critique of Tim Keller Reveals the Moral Devolution of the New Christian Right (The Dispatch, David French): “Yet even if the desperate times narrative were true, the desperate measures rationalization suffers from profound moral defects. The biblical call to Christians to love your enemies, to bless those who curse you, and to exhibit the fruit of the spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control—does not represent a set of tactics to be abandoned when times are tough but rather a set of eternal moral principles to be applied even in the face of extreme adversity…
    • Is it Time to Move Past Tim Keller? (Samuel D. James, Substack): “The question is not whether love of neighbor doesn’t work and should be forgotten, the question is what love of neighbor demands from us, and whether such love might look different when the presenting moral and spiritual needs of our neighbors might not be what they were a generation ago.”
    • some thoughts on Tim Keller (Alan Jacobs, personal blog): “Like Diogenes with his lantern, I’m looking for one critic of Tim Keller who shows some awareness that Christians are commanded by their Lord to act in certain ways and to refrain from acting in others. To think only in terms of what is effective or strategic is to fight on the Devil’s home ground.”
    • This Article is Not About Tim Keller (James Wood, American Reformer): “How do we know what the future holds for the public’s perception of Christians and their attempts to love their neighbors through political action? We might be surprised what the judgments of history have in store. Not only do I question the certainty we can have in these assessments about how our political actions will impact our long-term gospel witness, but I also think this is a category error. Politics is not about minimizing offense in order to maximize openness to the evangelistic message. Politics is, rather, focused on the pursuit of justice and the just ordering of society.”
  4. Against longtermism (Phil Torres, Aeon): “…longtermism might be one of the most influential ideologies that few people outside of elite universities and Silicon Valley have ever heard about. I believe this needs to change because, as a former longtermist who published an entire book four years ago in defence of the general idea, I have come to see this worldview as quite possibly the most dangerous secular belief system in the world today.”
    • Recommended by a student who thinks this is especially important for Silicon Valley people to hear. From Oct 2021.
  5. More on the Supreme Court and abortion
    • How Roe Warped the Republic (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “And the way Roe was decided made this polarization worse. From the perspective of geography and class, a group of robed lawyers in Washington, D.C., demanding that the country simply accept their settlement on one of the gravest moral questions imaginable is the perfect primer for a populist revolt. What has happened in similar ways with other issues — immigration, most notably — happened with abortion first: The elite settlement failed to settle the issue, and the backlash encompassed not just the issue itself but elite legitimacy writ large.”
    • Protest supporting Roe v. Wade takes over campus (Bryan Steven Monge Serrano, Stanford Daily): “About 250 students, faculty and staff came together to chant and march.” ]
      • “Takes over campus” is an exaggeration. 250 people? There are classes larger than that. Having said that, the bulk of the student body at Stanford is undeniably on the pro-Roe side. I wonder if the small rally indicates a level of apathy or simply a desire to wait for the actual verdict to be released.
    • Why I welcome the prospect of Roe v. Wade being overturned (Avi Shafran, NBC News): “Roe was a sledgehammer, and wrongly wielded. In the wake of its reversal, citizens in each state would be charged with using a scalpel to instead craft laws that treat nascent life with respect while accommodating the protection of women’s well-being.”
      • Interesting thoughts from a Rabbi. He comes down in a different place than most people you have heard from.
    • How Dare They! (Andrew Sullivan, Substack): “What strikes me most in these takes is the underlying contempt for and suspicion of the democratic process — from many of the same people who insist they want to save it. How dare voters have a say on abortion rights! The issue — which divides the country today as much as it has for decades — is one that apparently cannot ever be put up for a vote. On this question, Democrats really do seem to believe that seven men alone should make that decision — once, in 1973. Women today, including one on SCOTUS? Not so much.”
    • Pro-Life Ministries Have Been Caring For Women And Babies For Generations (Warren Cole Smith, Ministry Watch): “More than 2500 pro-life Pregnancy Resource Centers (PRCs) are a compassionate army of staff, donors, and volunteers that number in the hundreds of thousands. They are committed to helping women make life-giving choices, and they often support these women for years after their babies are born. The total amount of money these organizations spend in support of women and babies is not known, but it likely exceeds $1 billion annually. We should also note that the vast majority of adoptions in this country are done by Christian families and through Christian adoption agencies.”
    • The Supreme Court Leak Was an Unplanned Complication for Pregnancy Centers (Emily Belz, Christianity Today): “I try to shield my team from it here,” she said, telling them not to get online and try to defend themselves. “I saw a post on Instagram: ‘I’ve never met a pro-life person who is addressing access to health care, accessible childcare, college education.’ Hundreds of people are commenting, ‘Yeah I’ve never met one of those.’ I’m thinking I’m going to lose my mind. We’re here! We’re getting women into housing same day, we’re getting them out of domestic violence same day, we’re getting them furniture the same day,” Marten continued. “For my team to go home every day and turn on the news and social media and get gaslit, saying, ‘If you really cared …’ It’s an emotional toll.”
  6. On China
    • China’s Bizarre Authoritarian-Libertarian COVID Strategy (Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution): “On the one hand, China has confined millions of people to their homes, even to the extent of outlawing walking outside or having food delivered. Many thousands of other people have been taken from their homes and put into quarantine centers. On the other hand, vaccination is not mandatory! I can understand authoritarianism. I can understand libertarianism. I have difficulty understanding how jailing people, potentially without food, is ok but requiring vaccinations is not.”
    • Dramatic story of Kyrgyz Christian swept up in China’s Uyghur repression gets very little ink (Julia Duin, GetReligion): “While unimaginable horrors persisted in the camp, Joseph testified about how God worked in the hearts of the inmates around them. They had no privacy in any part of the complex, with cameras in their rooms and microphones for monitoring. Thus, 50 to 60 inmates filled the shower room every day and it was the only place where Joseph could share his faith. The water from the shower heads made enough noise to mask their conversations.  In the first few months, there was hardly anyone who would talk to him about God. Then the question began. ‘How could God let us be here in this place?’ they would ask. ‘How could God allow our children to be abandoned?’ ” Crazy details, especially if you follow the links in the article.
    • TikTok May Be More Dangerous Than It Looks (Ezra Klein, New York Times): “TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company. And Chinese companies are vulnerable to the whims and the will of the Chinese government.… TikTok’s real power isn’t over our data. It’s over what users watch and create. It’s over the opaque algorithm that governs what gets seen and what doesn’t. TikTok has been thick with videos backing the Russian narrative on the war in Ukraine. Media Matters, for instance, tracked an apparently coordinated campaign driven by 186 Russian TikTok influencers who normally post beauty tips, prank videos and fluff. And we know that China has been amplifying Russian propaganda worldwide. How comfortable are we with not knowing whether the Chinese Communist Party decided to weigh in on how the algorithm treats these videos?”
    • Why Chinese Culture Has Not Conquered Us All (Tanner Greer, personal blog): “Outside of its own borders, post-Deng China has a poor record selling the intangible. Chinese cultural influence is not commensurate with China’s economic power or geopolitical heft. For the last two decades observers of China have pondered this mystery. Why has China’s growing global prominence, prosperous commercialized economy, and huge global diaspora not led to cultural influence? Why have both China’s intellectual high culture and its expansive pop culture offerings failed to take root outside of the Sinosphere?” Very thoughtful, as I have come to expect from Greer.

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 Pint‐Size Nation off the English Coast (Ian Urbina, The Atlantic): “Though no country formally recognizes Sealand, its sovereignty has been hard to deny. Half a dozen times, the British government and assorted other groups, backed by mercenaries, have tried and failed to take over the platform by force.” First shared in volume 217.

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 349

much about Dobbs, Roe, and the implications thereof

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.

I wish this issue was less rushed (and therefore better edited and more compact), but I’ve been dealing with a family emergency and have had less time to read and write than normal.

This is volume 349, a prime number.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The big news this week is the leak of the Supreme Court draft opinion portending a reversal of Roe v Wade.
    • It’s not often that I interject my own views into one of these weekly roundups, but given the contentiousness of this issue I think it is only fair you know where I am coming from. I am pro-life. In solidarity with the Christmas story (wherein God became incarnate in the womb) and with Christians throughout the ages, I believe abortion is a bad thing and the rare cases where it is medically necessary to save the life of the mother are tragic. I am grateful that the Supreme Court appears to be on the verge of righting a great injustice for which they are responsible in the first place. Furthermore, I do not view this as a partisan issue even though it is commonly perceived that way: there are pro-life Democrats as well as pro-life Republicans. In fact, there would be many more pro-life Democrats in office were it not for a concerted effort to marginalize them within the party.
    • If you have not read this classic article in the Atlantic I suggest you read it before anything else: The Dishonesty of the Abortion Debate (Caitlin Flanagan, The Atlantic): “The truth is that the best argument on each side is a damn good one, and until you acknowledge that fact, you aren’t speaking or even thinking honestly about the issue. You certainly aren’t going to convince anybody. Only the truth has the power to move.”
    • If Roe Is Dead (Colin Hansen, Gospel Coalition): “If Roe is dead, more children will live.… this is the day so many of us have labored and prayed to see. We can rejoice that God has heard our pleas that he would rectify this injustice. And we can move forward in every way possible to protect as many children as we can: by banning abortion where possible, by bolstering crisis pregnancy centers, by building stronger foster care systems, and much more.”
    • Receiving Justice with Gratitude (Samuel D. James, Substack): “It has commonly been suggested that opposing Roe v Wade is morally illegitimate unless it is accompanied with a kind of maximalist support for a social safety net. In other words, it has been suggested that you’re not really pro-life if you oppose abortion but support capitalism; you’re not really pro-life if you hate Roe v. Wade but don’t vote for candidates who vow to redistribute wealth; you’re not really pro-life if all you want is to stop abortion rather than providing extensive care and support for baby and mother.… Receive justice with gratitude.” This gets to close to something I’ve been trying to articulate to myself, but it’s not quite what I want to say. But it’s close.
    • Statement on the leaked Alito draft opinion in Dobbs (Robert George, Mirror of Justice): “If, as the leaked draft opinion seems to suggest, the Supreme Court has decided to reverse Roe and return the question of abortion entirely to the legislative domain, then the pro-life movement faces a new set of challenges—challenges even more daunting than overturning Roe. In the face of profound opposition from the wealthiest, most powerful, and most influential forces and institutions in the country, the movement needs to extend the protections of law on terms of fairness and equality to mothers and children alike. Going still further, it needs to work in both the public and private spheres to provide necessary support for mothers and children, never allowing their interests or well-being to be pitted against each other. To its great credit, the pro-life movement has been doing this since before Roe v. Wade—again, in the face of hostility from the most powerful forces. We will need now to do more and better. We can and we will.” Robert George is a law professor at Princeton.
    • If Roe v. Wade Is Overturned, What’s Next? (Jeannie Suk Gersen, New Yorker): “It may also be only a matter of time, if Mississippi prevails, before pro-life legal efforts turn toward getting the Supreme Court to recognize the constitutional rights of the fetus. These efforts would focus on the same part of the Constitution that was previously held to provide the right to abortion, the Fourteenth Amendment, which prohibits states from depriving ‘any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.’” The author is a Harvard Law prof.
    • About post-Roe politics and Biden’s evolving doctrines on choosing to ‘abort a child’ (Terry Mattingly, GetReligion): “Once upon a time, Sen. Joe Biden was almost a pro-life Catholic Democrat. This may be the reason — as journalists frequently note — that he seems uncomfortable saying ‘abortion’ in public remarks.”
    • An article by someone outraged: Of Course the Constitution Has Nothing to Say About Abortion (Jill Lepore, The New Yorker): “This will be, in large part, because Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito is surprised that there is so little written about abortion in a four-thousand-word document crafted by fifty-five men in 1787. As it happens, there is also nothing at all in that document, which sets out fundamental law, about pregnancy, uteruses, vaginas, fetuses, placentas, menstrual blood, breasts, or breast milk. There is nothing in that document about women at all.”
      • Overall a good article (although I think it demonstrates the opposite of what it intends to demonstrate). Also, although the rhetoric in the excerpt is powerful, it’s unfair — there’s also nothing in the Constitution about testes, sperm or penises. I find this is often the case in the abortion debate: powerful rhetoric that covers over weaknesses in the the substance of the argument.
    • Another not-thrilled perspective: God Damn America (Jack Mirkinson, Substack): “The final opinion could differ, but what we have in front of us is an extremist, illegitimate opinion from an extremist, illegitimate court, one that sees women as serfs and breeders, that sees queer people as subhuman, that sees minorities of every kind as dirt under its collective shoe. It is happily dragging us into the dark ages. Alito and everyone who joins him are evil people. No hell is too hot for them.”
    • A pretty extreme outraged perspective: As the US supreme court moves to end abortion, is America still a free country? (Moira Donegan, The Guardian): “Some have raised doubts about whether America can call itself a democracy, now that policymaking power has been largely taken over by the unelected courts – whose decisions, like this one, are so radically out of step with, and indifferent to, public opinion. But it is also worth wondering whether any country can call itself a democracy that does not protect abortion rights.”
      • It is odd to claim now as the point when courts have taken over electoral power when it was the Supreme Court itself that imposed abortion upon every state outside of their democratic processes. If this draft is illegitimate because it’s not a byproduct of an electoral process, then that’s one more reason that Roe v Wade was itself illegitimate.
    • You can see other abortion-related content from previous weekly roundups at https://glenandpaula.com/wordpress/archives/tag/abortion
  2. Not related but related: Is Support for Single Motherhood and Cohabitation Falling in the U.S.? (Alysse ElHage, Institute for Family Studies): “…as more Americans have experienced cohabitation, either personally or through watching friends or family cohabit, more people are realizing that living together just does not compare to marriage in terms of relationship quality or stability. That could explain why Pew found a difference based on age. A Pew spokeswoman told me via email, ‘adults ages 30 to 49, 50 to 64, and ages 65+ were more likely than in 2018 to say [cohabitation] is a bad thing for society.’ However, there was no similar shift among 18 to 29-year-olds.”
  3. About the leak itself:
    • Why the Dobbs Leak Is Dangerous (Mark Movsesian, First Things): “In disclosing the draft opinion now, rather than in February when it circulated, the leaker presumably means to do one of two things. First, the leaker might hope that public pressure will intimidate one or more of the justices and affect the outcome of the case. Possibly, the leaker is a conservative clerk trying to keep Alito’s majority intact, on the theory that it would be too embarrassing for a justice to change his or her mind in these circumstances. More likely, though, the leaker is a progressive who hopes an angry public reaction will make a member of Alito’s majority reconsider.  Alternatively, the leaker might know that Justice Alito’s majority is solid and that trying to change anyone’s mind is useless. In that case, the leaker’s goal likely would be, quite simply, to wreck the Court as an institution—because that is what a leak like this accomplishes.” The author is a former Supreme Court clerk and currently a law professor at St. John’s University.
    • How rare is a Supreme Court breach? Very rare (Josh Gerstein, Politico): “[Law prof and Supreme Court biographer] Wermiel said the justices typically argue that confidentiality is critical to the high court’s operation and collegiality. ‘They think it will chill their deliberation with one another and their candor and willingness to be open in exchange of views,’ Wermiel said. Some also contend that such reports distract from the court’s most enduring work: its opinions.”
    • Whodunnit? (Josh Blackman, The Volokh Conspiracy): “And a Justice must know that authorizing this leak would probably lead to impeachment proceedings. I do not think this leak came from a chambers.There is [another] option: the leak did not come from a chambers.… Rather, the leak may have come from someone with access to the Supreme Court’s draft opinions. And history suggest that this sort of leak is possible.” The author is a law prof at South Texas College of Law.
    • What If The SCOTUS Leak Came From A Foreign Hack? (Josh Blackman, The Volokh Conspiracy): “But there is another entity that may want to burn down the Supreme Court, and tear apart the American people: a foreign government. If that was the intent, the plan was successful. Look no further than the groups publishing the addresses of Supreme Court justices. Plus, as a benefit to foreign states, the torrent of news has taken Ukraine out of the headlines. Through this lens, the hack becomes much more plausible.”
  4. 103 Bits of Advice I Wish I Had Known (Kevin Kelly, personal blog): this is something he does every year. My two favorites were: “There is no such thing as being ‘on time.’ You are either late or you are early. Your choice.” and “Aim to die broke. Give to your beneficiaries before you die; it’s more fun and useful. Spend it all. Your last check should go to the funeral home and it should bounce.
  5. What if You Didn’t Have to File a Tax Return? (Jeremy Horpedahl, blog): “In ‘Automatic Tax Filing: Simulating a Pre-Populated Form 1040,’ the authors use a large sample of tax returns to estimate how many taxpayers a pre-filled return would work for. The results are almost split down the middle: it would work well for maybe half of US taxpayers (41–48% of taxpayers, depending on how we are defining successful). For the other half, it wouldn’t give you an accurate estimate of how much tax you owed. And the errors can be large.“The author is an econ prof at the University of Central Arkansas (home of a great Chi Alpha, incidentally). I had assumed this was simply a byproduct of lobbying, not that there were actual technical reasons not to do it.
  6. The UFO briefings on Capitol Hill have begun. Lawmakers aren’t impressed. (Bryan Bender, Politico): “Lawmakers receiving the latest secret briefings on UFOs say national security agencies still aren’t taking seriously the reports of highly advanced aircraft of unknown origin violating protected airspace.”
  7. America flexes its maritime muscles! U.S. Air Force successfully tests 2,000-pound air-launched ‘quicksink’ bomb and blasts cargo ship out of the sea in one strike (Tom Brown, Daily Mail): “Quicksink risks relatively low-cost aircraft when compared with the danger of losing a submarine to enemy retaliation after a torpedo strike.… A single F‑15EX costs $87.7 million per aircraft, whereas a US submarine can cost up to $2.8 billion per unit, according to Aero Corner.” The accompanying video is impressive.

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 How Pornography Makes Us Less Human and Less Humane (Matthew Lee Anderson, The Gospel Coalition): “Beneath pornography is the supposition that the mere fact of our desire for a woman makes us worthy of her. And so, not being bound by any kind of norm, desire must proceed endlessly. It is no surprise that the industrialized, cheap‐and‐easy sex of pornography has answered and evoked an almost unrestrained sexual greed, which allows us to be gods and goddesses within the safety of our own fantasies. It is for deep and important reasons that the Ten Commandments use the economic language of ‘coveting’ to describe the badness of errant sexual desires.” First shared in volume 216.

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 341

a lot about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but don’t sleep on the rest — there’s good stuff!

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

This is volume 341, which when rendered in base 2 (34110=1010101012) is apparently the smallest pseudoprime in that base.

Also, there’s a lot happening this week and I feel underinformed. These are the things that stood out to me from the less-than-I-would-have-liked that I did read.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine:
    • Just war theory and the Russo-Ukrainian war (Ed Feser, blog): “One of the striking features of the catastrophe in Ukraine is how unambiguously the principles of just war doctrine seem to apply. On the one hand, Russia’s invasion cannot be justified given the criteria of just war theory. On the other hand, NATO military action against Russia cannot be justified either.” The author, a Christian, is a philosophy professor at Pasadena City College.
    • We Are All Realists Now (Ryan Fedasiuk, Georgetown Security Studies Review): “After a sleepless night spent reading takes about every modern geopolitical issue under the sun I found, honestly, that I could not care less about any of them. Can people get to safety? Where are the medical facilities? How many refugees can the United States admit? — These are the questions that matter. War may be an object of academic study, but it is first and foremost a human catastrophe.” The author is pursuing his master’s at Georgetown. This is brief and quite good. Recommended by an alumnus.
    • Pausing at the Precipice (Tanner Greer, Scholar’s Stage): “This is a powerful framework for understanding foreign policy crises. Catastrophic misjudgment rests on the convergence of two elements: an emergent sense that there is a moral imperative to act paired with a breakdown in the formal decision-making processes designed to force policy makers to carefully weigh the potential consequences of their decisions.”
    • The Absence Of A Tragic Sense (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “…we have just entered into an extremely dangerous period of life on this planet. People who are thrilled over the moral clarity of the moment must have forgotten that the Cold War, with the terror of nuclear war hanging over our heads constantly, was a time of moral clarity too.”
    • We Have Never Been Here Before (Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times): “…today’s world is resting on two simultaneous extremes: Never have the leaders of two of the three most powerful nuclear nations — Putin and Xi — had more unchecked power and never have more people from one end of the world to the other been wired together with fewer and fewer buffers. So, what those two leaders decide to do with their unchecked power will touch virtually all of us directly or indirectly. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is our first real taste of how crazy and unstable this kind of wired world can get. It will not be our last.”
    • Ukraine war: ‘My city’s being shelled, but mum won’t believe me’ (Maria Korenyuk and Jack Goodman, BBC): “My parents understand that some military action is happening here. But they say: ‘Russians came to liberate you. They won’t ruin anything, they won’t touch you. They’re only targeting military bases’.”
    • Russian Degradation and Ukrainian Hope: The Example of Christian Higher Education (Perry Glanzer, The Gospel Coalition): “Russian political leaders continually exalt corruption, dysfunction, and the pursuit of power. This leads them to undermine burgeoning efforts to rebuild civil society, improve religious liberty, or expand religious education. Unfortunately, the dominant Russian Orthodox Church makes things worse. Former communists largely control the Russian Orthodox Church, and they use this power to support a Russian version of Christian nationalism—making the church an instrument of the state. In Ukraine I have found hope and courage among educators and Christians trying to build civil society in the context of religious freedom in ways that some political leaders supported.” This was unexpectedly interesting. The author is an education prof at Baylor.
    • How Putin Wants Russians to See the War in Ukraine (Masha Gessen, The New Yorker): “While news channels around the world broadcast special reports from Ukrainian cities that are being bombarded by the Russian military, Russian newscasts on state-controlled channels, which have a monopoly on broadcast television, are short and uneventful.” Recommended by a student.
    • The West’s Green Delusions Empowered Putin (Michael Shellenberger, Bari Weiss’ Substack): “Green campaigns have succeeded in destroying German energy independence—they call it Energiewende, or ‘energy turnaround’—by successfully selling policymakers on a peculiar version of environmentalism. It calls climate change a near-term apocalyptic threat to human survival while turning up its nose at the technologies that can help address climate change most and soonest: nuclear and natural gas.… Germany has trapped itself. It could burn more coal and undermine its commitment to reducing carbon emissions. Or it could use more natural gas, which generates half the carbon emissions of coal, but at the cost of dependence on imported Russian gas. Berlin was faced with a choice between unleashing the wrath of Putin on neighboring countries or inviting the wrath of Greta Thunberg. They chose Putin.” Those last two sentences…
    • When the Man Meets the Moment (David French, The Dispatch): “The future is opaque. The fog of war has descended over the battlefield. Much is unknown, but this much is clear: An ordinary man has answered the call of an extraordinary time, and he has sparked hope in his own people and in a cynical and weary west.”
    • A Tale of Two Masculinities (Andrew T. Walker, World): “…compare the rival masculinities of Zelenskyy and Vladimir Putin. Zelenskyy’s common grace demonstration of healthy masculinity exudes leadership, courage, resolve, and sacrifice. He does not tell you of his courage; he simply shows it. And then there is the so-called ‘manliness’ of Putin, who boasts of a masculinity with ridiculous photos of himself riding horses while shirtless.”
    • ‘Yes, He Would’: Fiona Hill on Putin and Nukes (Maura Reynolds, Politico): “Putin is increasingly operating emotionally and likely to use all the weapons at his disposal, including nuclear ones. It’s important not to have any illusions — but equally important not to lose hope.” Not the main point of the piece, but my favorite part is when she says sanctions won’t be enough and then suggests stronger sanctions. Overall a mixed article but worth reading if you’re interested in the subject.
    • Ukrainian sailor in Majorca tried to sink yacht of Russian boss (BBC): “He told a judge that he regretted nothing and would do it again.” Recommended by an alumnus.
    • Former Miss Grand Ukraine joins fight against Russian invasion (Patrick Reilly, New York Post): “[Anastasia Lenna] had previously worked as a model and a public relations manager in Turkey, according to her Miss Grand International profile, a whole world away from the violence of the battlefield. She also speaks five languages and has worked as a translator.”
  2. Supreme Court:
    • Ketanji Brown Jackson Thanks God for Supreme Court Nomination (Jack Jenkins, Christianity Today): “Jackson did not mention a specific faith tradition in her remarks, so it was not immediately clear whether she would alter the religious makeup of the Supreme Court, which currently consists primarily of Catholic and Jewish justices (Justice Neil Gorsuch was raised Catholic but attended an Episcopal Church in Colorado).… Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley noted Jackson had served on the board of Montrose Christian School. The Maryland school, which has since been closed, operated under a statement of faith that declared ‘we should speak on behalf of the unborn and contend for the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death’ and outlined a belief that marriage exists only between a man and a woman. In responding to Hawley, who said he agreed with the statements, Jackson distanced herself from the school’s beliefs. She said she did not ‘necessarily agree with all of the statements,’ and was not previously aware of their existence.”
    • The Long Crusade of Clarence and Ginni Thomas (Danny Hakim and Jo Becker, New York Times): “Ginni Lamp, as she was known then, was on a cheer squad for taller girls known as the Squires, brandishing a sword and a shield before football games. ‘She would march in front with that; she loved doing that,’ said Sue Norby, a classmate. ‘My other friends were on the pompom squad because they were so short, but Ginni was on a different squad because she was tall, with other tall girls. She was the warrior woman.’”
      • I have mentioned this before, but I am a sucker for stories about the Justices. They are all such fascinating people. Even ideological pieces like this reveal their idiosyncratic wonderfulness. Warning: this is very long.
  3. Covid Arithmetic for Anxious Parents (Bryan Caplan, blog): “The most ‘adult’ thing for parents and teachers to do on this March 1 [when Virginia lifts its school mask mandate] is walk kids through the Covid math. Even third-graders should be able to follow it. And if you really want to show your maturity, you should confess that for the last two years, most adults have been acting like children. Life gave us a math project, yet we acted like it was a poetry assignment.”
  4. Walking in the Purpose of God (Christos Makridis, XA Alumni): “Put simply, I never would have guessed what I’m doing now three years ago. While my engagement in the cryptocurrency and NFT sphere ‘might’ have been possible on paper, it wouldn’t have been nearly this rich and diversified absent my saying ‘yes’ to the Lord one step at a time and simply walking in obedience.” Christos is an alumnus of XA at Stanford.
  5. Study Examines Link Between Accountability to God and Psychological Well-Being (Neuroscience News): “Religious believers who embrace accountability to God (or another transcendent guide for life) experience higher levels of three of the four variables of psychological well-being – mattering to others, dignity and meaning in their lives, though not happiness – according to a study from researchers with Baylor University, Westmont College and Hope College.”
  6. Against alcohol, #6437 (Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution): “…a sudden and unexpected nation-wide alcohol sales ban in South Africa… causally reduced injury-induced mortality in the country by at least 14% during the five weeks of the ban.” Links to a brief summary of some research with links to the original article.
  7. There’s No Crisis of Faith on Campus (Ryan Burge, Wall Street Journal): “Looked at in its entirety, the college experience may actually make students more sure of their religious beliefs after they graduate. This is the idea known to psychologists as the ‘inoculation effect’: When someone is confronted with weak attacks on their beliefs, they become more prepared to defend those beliefs when they come under serious attacks. This is essentially how a vaccine works: It gives an individual a weakened version of the virus, so that when the immune system encounters the real thing, it can easily fight off the villain. Similarly, challenging a young person to defend their beliefs in a supportive, open environment like college may leave them better prepared to hold firm to their convictions later in life.“The author, whom I have cited before, is a pastor and professor of political science at Eastern Washington University.

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 APA Meeting: A Photo‐Essay (Scott Alexander, Slate Star Codex): “Were there really more than twice as many sessions on global warming as on obsessive compulsive disorder? Three times as many on immigration as on ADHD? As best I can count, yes. I don’t want to exaggerate this. There was still a lot of really meaty scientific discussion if you sought it out. But overall the balance was pretty striking…. If you want to model the APA, you could do worse than a giant firehose that takes in pharmaceutical company money at one end, and shoots lectures about social justice out the other.” This is funny, rambling, insightful commentary on the American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting. First shared in volume 204

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 328

Everything from baptisms to abortion to perceived nooses. Also self-replicating robots which is nothing to worry about at all.

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 328, which is the year that one of my favorite church leaders became a bishop: Athanasius.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The Supreme Court reconsiders abortion:
    • The Supreme Court seems poised to uphold Mississippi’s abortion law. (Adam Liptak, New York Times): “The Supreme Court seemed poised on Wednesday to uphold a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, based on sometimes tense and heated questioning at a momentous argument in the most important abortion case in decades. Such a ruling would be flatly at odds with what the court has said was the central holding of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to abortion and prohibited states from banning the procedure before fetal viability, or around 23 weeks. But the court’s six-member conservative majority seemed divided about whether to stop at 15 weeks, for now at least, or whether to overrule Roe entirely, allowing states to ban abortions at any time or entirely.”
    • For a free, nonpaywalled analysis check out Majority of court appears poised to roll back abortion rights (Amy Howe, SCOTUSblog)
    • Why Roe Will Fall And Obergefell Won’t (Andrew Sullivan, Substack): “In Roe, the Court tried to jumpstart a consensus and failed to secure it, with public opinion very similar now to where it was half a century ago. In Obergefell, the Court waited until there was majority support, which arrived, according to Gallup, in 2011, and the Court then validated a still-growing societal consensus four years later.”
  2. Lowering the Voting Age (J. Budziszewski, personal blog): “People who discuss lowering the voting age – not only those for it but also those against – assume that it would mean a transfer of political influence to the young. That is absurd. It would mean no such thing. Although the very young are often very sure of their opinions and convinced that they have made up their own minds, they lack the maturity to form their minds independently. So to lower the voting age would not mean increasing the political influence of the young. It would only mean increasing the political clout of those who have influence through the young.”
    • That’s a really good point I hadn’t considered. The author is a professor of philosophy and of government at UT Austin.
  3. Horse Troughs, Hot Tubs and Hashtags: Baptism Is Getting Wild (Ruth Graham, New York Times): “Contemporary evangelical baptisms are often raucous affairs. Instead of subdued hymns and murmurs, think roaring modern worship music, fist pumps, tears and boisterous cheering. There are photographers, selfie stations and hashtags for social media. One church in Texas calls its regular mass baptism event a ‘plunge party.’ ”
    • This is an interesting article mostly for how interesting utterly normal things can seem to NY Times readers.
  4. She set out to save her daughter from fentanyl. She had no idea what she would face on the streets of San Francisco (Heather Knight, San Francisco Chronicle): “I asked Jessica if she thought she would ever leave San Francisco. ‘It’s like a vortex,’ she said. ‘I want to get out of here. But why the f— would I leave here if I have everything I need given to me? It might be enabling or it might be keeping you in a cycle, but at least you can survive,’ she continued. ‘That’s better than a lot of places.’ ”
    • The wages of sin is death. What a gut-punch of a story.
  5. Race Panic! Stanford investigates “cords with loops that may represent nooses” (Maxwell Meyer, Stanford Review): “Calling out and addressing racism? No, these Stanford administrators are committed to inventing racism. Though, I must hand it to them: Dean Hicks and her ‘institutional equity’ sidekick Mr. Dunkley might not realize it, but there is a beautiful, almost poetic irony to the timing of their email. They rushed to inform Stanford students of an alleged race incident on the very day that the criminal trial of Jussie Smollett, the greatest of all race hoaxers, began in Chicago. That little coincidence is the cherry on top of this giant farce.”
    • Meyer’s take is, as far as I can tell, entirely correct. If those loops looked at all like nooses we’d have photos.
  6. Team builds first living robots—that can reproduce (Joshua Brown, University of Vermont press release): “Some people may find this exhilarating. Others may react with concern, or even terror, to the notion of a self-replicating biotechnology. For the team of scientists, the goal is deeper understanding.”
  7. The Business of Extracting Knowledge from Academic Publications (Markus Strasser, personal blog): “I had to wrap my head around the fact that close to nothing of what makes science actually work is published as text on the web. Research questions that can be answered logically through just reading papers and connecting the dots don’t require a biotech corp to be formed around them. There’s much less logic and deduction happening than you’d expect in a scientific discipline.”
    • Long and poorly formatted, but with an interesting core idea. Emphasis in original.

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 Elisha and the She‐bears (Peter J Williams, Twitter): an insightful Twitter thread about a disturbing OT story. The author is the Warden of Tyndale House at Cambridge. First shared in volume 179.

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 318

First, a word to new students: welcome! This might be your first email from Chi Alpha and if so you might be a little confused.

For the last several years, I have been sharing articles/resources every Friday about broad cultural, societal and theological issues.

I was inspired by the tribe of Issachar from the time of King David. They 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.

Be sure to see the disclaimers at the bottom. Also, I welcome your suggestions. If you read something fascinating please pass it my way.

All that having been said, here is 318th roundup of things I have found interesting (318, I am told, is the number of unlabeled partially ordered sets of 6 elements).

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The American Crisis of Selective Empathy (David French, The Dispatch): “…America is experiencing an empathy crisis. But it’s not quite the crisis you might think. Our empathy can overflow for the people we love, for the people within our tribe—even when they make grave errors. But what about our empathy for ‘them,’ the people we distrust? Then empathy is in short supply. Indeed, in some cases, the very concept of empathy is under fire.”
    • Related: The Limits of My Empathy for Covid Deniers (Tressie McMillan Cottom, New York Times): “Because I value being a thinking person, I honor emotions like empathy, fear, joy and trust to guide me around the pitfalls of my ego. Ego makes for really sloppy analysis and writing. I am at a point where headlines about ill and dying Covid deniers do not pull at my empathy strings the way I want them to.”
  2. Norm Macdonald’s Spiritual Journey (Nic Rowan, First Things): “Macdonald may have only been dabbling in Christianity, but his criticisms of the post-Christian world were often incisive. He had no tolerance for scientism and laughed at atheists. He frequently lampooned the likes of Neil deGrasse Tyson, Richard Dawkins, and Bill Maher. And he wasn’t afraid to make dark predictions about a future dominated by their successors.”
  3. Fired After Getting Vaccinated—And Encouraging Others to Do So (Emma Green, The Atlantic): “I was trying to use my platform to share the truth. You’re right that Christians should be people of the truth—not just that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, but also the truth about what is real. The question is: How do you get the truth to people? We live in a time where information is coming at us from all over. It’s not necessarily that people don’t want to believe the truth.” This is a solid interview. Darling comes off very well.
  4. Effect size is significantly more important than statistical significance. (Ben Recht, personal blog): “In either case we are talking about a difference of 15 cases between the treatment and control villages in a population of 32,000 individuals.… If the effect size is so small that we need sophisticated statistics, maybe that means the effect isn’t real. Using sophisticated statistical scaffolding clouds our judgement. We end up using statistical methods as a crutch, not to dig signals out of noise, but to convince ourselves of signals when there are none.” The author is a professor of machine learning and data analysis at Berkeley.
  5. Why America needs the Black church for its own survival (Charlie Date, Washington Post): “The difference between the Black church and any other Christian institution in America is that rather than abandoning Scripture as a tool of our oppression, we apply Scripture as God’s rule for our liberty and living. The difference is in how our social ethic is rooted in both righteousness and justice, not either righteousness or justice. The difference is that we’ve come to see Jesus and his power to sustain and flourish us from the margins without the benefit of large donors, political capital or ownership of media outlets.” The author is pastor of a prominent Black church in Chicago as well as a seminary professor.
  6. Roe Will Go (Robert P. George, First Things): “Let me offer a prediction, free of any face-saving hedge: Next year, the Supreme Court will hold that there is no constitutional right to elective abortions. In Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case pending before the court, it will return the issue to the states for the first time in forty-nine years. It will do so explicitly, calling out by name, and reversing in full, the two major cases that confected and then entrenched a constitutional right to elective abortion: Roe v. Wade (1973) and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992). And the vote will be six to three.” The author is a law professor at Princeton.

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have A One Parameter Equation That Can Exactly Fit Any Scatter Plot (Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution): “Overfitting is possible with just one parameter and so models with fewer parameters are not necessarily preferable even if they fit the data as well or better than models with more parameters.” Researchers take note. The underlying mathematics paper is well‐written and interesting: One Parameter Is Always Enough (Steven T. Piantadosi) — among other things, it points out that you can smuggle in arbitrarily large amounts of data into an equation through a single parameter because a number can have infinite digits. Obvious once stated, but I don’t know that it ever would have occurred to me. First shared in volume 154.

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 278

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. Why Obama Fears for Our Democracy (Jeffrey Goldberg interviewing Barack Obama, The Atlantic) “You mentioned earlier that I’m in some ways a never-Trump conservative. That’s not quite right, but what is true is that temperamentally I am sympathetic to a certain strain of conservatism in the sense that I’m not just a materialist. I’m not an economic determinist. I think it’s important, but I think there are things other than stuff and money and income—the religious critique of modern society, that we’ve lost that sense of community.” There is an absurdly lengthy introduction. Skip down to “Our conversation has been edited for clarity and concision” about a fifth of the way down the page.
  2. The Children of Pornhub (Nicholas Kristof, New York Times): “The world has often been oblivious to child sexual abuse, from the Catholic Church to the Boy Scouts. Too late, we prosecute individuals like Jeffrey Epstein or R. Kelly. But we should also stand up to corporations that systematically exploit children. With Pornhub, we have Jeffrey Epstein times 1,000.” Kristof goes out of his way to make it clear that he is not condemning pornography itself, just abuse. I’ll go farther: pornography is vile and I think it is a national shame. If you watch porn, know that forgiveness and freedom are available in Christ and I a happy to talk with you about it.
  3. The Mass Murder of Nigerian Christians (Rabbi Abraham Cooper and Rev. Johnnie Moore, Tablet Magazine): “Officials’ initial refusal to attribute the attack in Kaduna to Islamists—in any form—reflects a black hole of denial that is pronounced in Nigerian politics. This endemic self-censorship has now been absorbed by many professionals in the foreign policy establishment who have adopted a policy of not mentioning the religious components of these outrages at any cost, in order to prevent being accused of politicizing religion. This denial serves as an accelerant of religion-fueled conflict—until the facts and blood on the ground can no longer be denied.”
  4. Big Government’s Overlooked Americans (Nicholas Eberstadt, National Review): “How could American health authorities completely miss a domestic epidemic of such severity and duration? Even during the Cold War, remember, U.S. researchers were quicker to spot the advent of the health crisis for the working-age population of the Soviet Union: and this during the heyday of Soviet disinformation and strategic deception, long before glasnost. Whatever else may be said about this signal U.S. failure in disease prevention and control, it occasioned remarkably little reflection, self-criticism, and course correction on the part of America’s public-health apparatus.” 
  5. The Supreme Court Was Right to Block Cuomo’s Religious Restrictions (Michael W. McConnell and Max Raskin, New York Times): “In the beginning of the pandemic, no one knew what worked and what didn’t. Courts were understandably reluctant to second-guess. But we are now 10 months into the pandemic. Why are governments still picking and choosing among constitutional rights without explaining their reasoning?” McConnell is a Stanford law prof, Raskin a law prof at New York University.
  6. Denigrating Hoover (Victor Davis Hanson, Stanford Daily): “[Some Stanford students and faculty complain about Hoover, yet] Hoover scholars as a general rule do not fixate on Stanford, whether the University, its students or its professors, for their perceived lapses in judgement or controversies that often can arise at large campuses — such as the recent sensational allegations concerning admissions fraud; a recent Stanford affiliated visiting researcher arrested for allegedly hiding ties with the Chinese military; Department of Education allegations that Stanford had not properly and fully disclosed, as required, sizable gifts from Chinese government-related sources; sex scandal allegations at the business school; efforts to disrupt a campus speaker while spreading a grotesque anti-Semitic flyer; and general concern on the campus concerning a wave of anti-Semitic incidents.”
  7. Misaligned incentives and the scale of incarceration in the United States (Aurélie Ouss, Journal of Public Economics): “Typically, prison is paid for at the state level, but county employees (such as judges, prosecutors or probation officers) determine time spent in custody. I exploit a natural experiment that shifted the cost burden of juvenile incarceration from state to counties, keeping overall costs and responsibilities unchanged. This resulted in a stark drop in incarceration, and no increase in arrests, suggesting an over-use of prison when costs are not internalized. The large magnitude of the change suggests that misaligned incentives in criminal justice may be a significant contributor to the current levels of incarceration in the United States.” The author is a criminologist at U Penn. Found via Tyler Cowen.

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 An Epidemic of Disbelief (Barbara Bradley Hagerty, The Atlantic): “Historically, investigators had assumed that someone who assaults a stranger by the railroad tracks is nothing like the man who assaults his co‐worker or his girlfriend. But it turns out that the space between acquaintance rape and stranger rape is not a wall, but a plaza. When Cleveland investigators uploaded the DNA from the acquaintance‐rape kits, they were surprised by how often the results also matched DNA from unsolved stranger rapes. The task force identified dozens of mystery rapists this way.” Infuriating and highly recommended. First shared in volume 211.

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 270

this one has a lot more domestic political content than my typical roundup

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.

Things I’m looking for good articles about: the Armenian/Aberbaijani conflict, what is happening in Hong Kong, and Trump’s COVID diagonosis. If you read something fascinating please pass it my way.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Americans Increasingly Believe Violence is Justified if the Other Side Wins (Larry Diamond, Lee Drutman, Tod Lindberg, Nathan P. Kalmoe and Lilliana Mason, Politico): “At the presidential debate this week, the Republican candidate voiced his concern about political violence—left-wing political violence. And the Democratic candidate likewise voiced concern about political violence—right-wing political violence. They were both right.” The authors are all academics.
    • Related: The Truth About Today’s Anarchists (Farah Stockman, New York Times): “Mr. Quinn discovered a thorny truth about the mayhem that unfolded in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man in Minneapolis. It wasn’t mayhem at all. While talking heads on television routinely described it as a spontaneous eruption of anger at racial injustice, it was strategically planned, facilitated and advertised on social media by anarchists who believed that their actions advanced the cause of racial justice.” 👀 👀 👀. The author is on the NYT editorial board, so take these claims seriously.
  2. Justin Giboney’s Both/AND Politics (Sarah Zylstra, The Gospel Coalition): “In 2015, Giboney, Baraka, and Angel Maldonado started the AND Campaign, which aims to connect conviction and compassion. The organization sets out a platform you won’t find at either political convention—anti-abortion, pro-social safety nets, pro-family, pro-criminal justice reform. The point isn’t to endorse legislation or candidates or judicial decisions—AND doesn’t do that—but to ‘bring Christians of both parties together on those issues.’ The AND Campaign leans left, but has increasingly become a space for Christians dissatisfied with both political parties.”
    • I have been following this movement with interest for some time and this is a good introduction.
    • Related: Evangelical Biden Voters Straddle Partisan Divides(Kate Shellnutt, Christianity Today): “The Pew Research Center recently found few Americans, Republicans or Democrats, have many close friends who support a different presidential candidate in the 2020 race. In religious breakouts provided to Christianity Today, evangelical Biden supporters emerged as the exception. Just under half say their close friends disagree with them over the upcoming election.”
    • Related: Evangelical Vote Once Again Split on Ethnic Lines (Aaron Earls, Christianity Today): “President Trump’s advantage among evangelicals, however, comes primarily from white evangelicals, among whom he leads Biden 73 percent to 18 percent. African Americans with evangelical beliefs overwhelmingly plan to vote for Biden (69% to 19%). Among American evangelicals of other ethnicities, however, Trump has a 58 percent to 32 percent lead.”
  3. What is Pentecostalism? (Doug Clay, Assemblies of God): “The modern Pentecostal movement took its name from the moment of the Church’s birth on the Day of Pentecost, as recorded in Acts 2. Pentecostals and charismatics believe that the gifts of the Spirit as described in the Bible are active today as the Holy Spirit empowers Christ’s followers. Researchers estimate this movement to now include 669 million people — or one in four Christians globally — making it the fastest-growing movement in the history of Christianity.”
    • The author is the General Superintendent (top leader) in the American branch of the Assemblies of God, the denomination with which I am ordained. We had lunch once in a cafeteria. Nice guy.
  4. For Conservative Christian Women, Amy Coney Barrett’s Success Is Personal (Ruth Graham, New York Times): “Judge Barrett, for them, is a new kind of icon — one they have not seen before in American cultural and political life: a woman who is both unabashedly ambitious and deeply religious, who has excelled at the heights of a demanding profession even as she speaks openly about prioritizing her conservative Catholic faith and family. Judge Barrett has seven children, including two children adopted from Haiti and a young son with Down syndrome.”
    • Amy Coney Barrett: A New Feminist Icon (Erika Bachiochi, Politico): “Barrett embodies a new kind of feminism, a feminism that builds upon the praiseworthy antidiscrimination work of Ginsburg but then goes further. It insists not just on the equal rights of men and women, but also on their common responsibilities, particularly in the realm of family life. In this new feminism, sexual equality is found not in imitating men’s capacity to walk away from an unexpected pregnancy through abortion, but rather in asking men to meet women at a high standard of mutual responsibility, reciprocity and care.”
    • Amy Coney Barrett Deserves to Be on the Supreme Court (Noah Feldman, Bloomberg): “I got to know Barrett more than 20 years ago when we clerked at the Supreme Court during the 1998–99 term. Of the thirty-some clerks that year, all of whom had graduated at the top of their law school classes and done prestigious appellate clerkships before coming to work at the court, Barrett stood out. Measured subjectively and unscientifically by pure legal acumen, she was one of the two strongest lawyers. The other was Jenny Martinez, now dean of the Stanford Law School.” The author is a professor at Harvard Law.
    • The People of Praise, Charismatic Catholics, and Fringe Religious Groups (Ed Stetzer, Christianity Today): “For people on the outside, the charismatic and Pentecostal movements may seem odd. But globally, some 600 million people are affiliated with the charismatic and Pentecostal movement worldwide. This is not ‘remarkably out of the mainstream’ as one commentator indicated. There are 80 million Anglicans in the world, compared to 600 million Pentecostal / charismatic / third wave Christians (and, yes, that includes many Anglicans).”
    • Amy Coney Barrett and the New Feminism of Interdependence (Serena Sigillito, Newsweek): “It’s time for a new kind of feminism to emerge—and for GOP lawmakers to demonstrate that their commitment to family values is more than just lip service. That will require two significant shifts. The first is a philosophical one, defining a new feminism of interdependence rather than radical autonomy. The second is a political one, pursuing a pro-family economic agenda.”
  5. New Research Shows Religious Liberty Drives Human Flourishing – And Why This Matters Now More Than Ever (Christos Makridis, Real Clear Religion): “…religious liberty is an integral prerequisite for democratic governance, aiding the process for civic engagement and women’s empowerment and reducing the potential for public and political corruption.” Christos is an alumnus of our ministry. 
  6. The Woke and the Un-Woke (Matthew Schmitz, Tablet Magazine): “In the 1950s, the sociologist Will Herberg famously described America as divided into three religious camps: Protestant, Catholic, and Jew. These divisions were a matter of belonging rather than belief. Even an unbeliever would count as belonging to one of the three categories on the basis of his background and milieu. If a similar study were conducted today, the picture would be radically different… Woke, Trad, and None.”
    • Is the Culture War Lost? (Sarah Haider, Letter): “Nearly all our educational, media, and non-profit institutions (including major grant-making organizations) are advancing in one direction. Meanwhile, the hearts and minds of the global elite are almost uniformly supportive of this new secular faith.” The author
  7. Rod Dreher Is Not Pessimistic Enough (Perry L. Glanzer, The Gospel Coalition): “We will increasingly be tempted to deny bits of Christian theology and ethics to keep our level of comfort. God save us and help us stand against that spreading evil.”
    • This is a review of Rod Dreher’s book Live Not By Lies (which was, incidentally, the number one seller on Amazon when it was released). Dreher is one of the columnists who is often found in these emails. 

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 If Liberals Won’t Enforce Borders, Fascists Will (David Frum, The Atlantic): “Demagogues don’t rise by talking about irrelevant issues. Demagogues rise by talking about issues that matter to people, and that more conventional leaders appear unwilling or unable to address: unemployment in the 1930s, crime in the 1960s, mass immigration now. Voters get to decide what the country’s problems are. Political elites have to devise solutions to those problems. If difficult issues go unaddressed by responsible leaders, they will be exploited by irresponsible ones.” I highlighted a piece by Frum with a similar theme back in issue 175. This is a very thoughtful article. First shared in volume 194.

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 269

I share a few personal thoughts about criminal justice reform in this one. Just a few.

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. Some thoughts following the Breonna Taylor verdict:
    • Correcting the misinformation about Breonna Taylor (Radley Balko, Washington Post): “We could prevent the next Breonna Taylor. We could ban forced entry raids to serve drug warrants. We could hold judges accountable for signing warrants that don’t pass constitutional muster. We could demand that police officers wear body cameras during these raids to hold them accountable, and that they be adequately punished when they fail to activate them. We could do a lot to make sure there are no more Breonna Taylors. The question is whether we want to.”
    • From a month ago, but timely now: Supreme Court Precedent Killed Breonna Taylor (David French, The Dispatch): “Something (or some things) have to give, and those ‘things’ are no-knock raids and qualified immunity. Individual liberties should not be sacrificed on the altar of police drug raids, and victims of civil rights abuses should be entitled to receive compensation for their losses, including their injuries and wounds.”
    • My 2 cents: America’s justice system would be greatly improved if no-knock raids and qualified immunity were either eliminated or greatly constrained. And if we get rid of civil asset forfeiture at the same time — wow.
  2. Review: ‘Dominion: How the Christian Revolution Remade the World’ by Tom Holland (Tim Keller, Gospel Coalition): “…the shame-and-honor cultures of old, pagan Europe—of the Anglo-Saxons, the Franks, and the Germans—thought that the Christian ethic of forgiving one’s enemies and of honoring the poor and weak to be completely unworkable as a basis for society. These ideas would’ve never occurred to anyone unless they held to a universe with a single, personal God who created all beings in his image, and with a Savior who came and died in sacrificial love. The ideas only could’ve grown from such a worldview—they don’t make sense in a different one. If, instead, we believe we’re here by accident through a process of survival of the fittest, then there can be no moral absolutes, and life must be, if anything, about power and the mastery of others, not about love. That, declared Nietzsche, is the only way to live once you are truly willing to admit that the Christian God does not exist.”
  3. We Are All Algorithms Now (Andrew Sullivan, SubStack): “In the past, we might have turned to more reliable media for context and perspective. But the journalists and reporters and editors who are supposed to perform this function are human as well. And they are perhaps the ones most trapped in the social media hellscape…. The press could have been the antidote to the social media trap. Instead they chose to become the profitable pusher of the poison.“ This was written before news of RBG’s death and is even more timely now.
  4. Concerning the Supreme Court:
    • Leading Republican politicians have flip-flopped What Senate Republicans have said about filling a Supreme Court vacancy (one minute video, YouTube)
    • Leading Democratic politicians have flip-flopped What leading Democrats have said about filling a Supreme Court vacancy (two minute video, Twitter) 
    • A thought from the left: Down With Judicial Supremacy! (Jamelle Bouie, New York Times): “The Supreme Court has the power to interpret the Constitution and establish its meaning for federal, state and local government alike. But this power wasn’t enumerated in the Constitution and isn’t inherent in the court as an institution. Instead, the court’s power to interpret and bind others to that interpretation was constructed over time by political and legal actors throughout the system, from presidents and lawmakers to the judges and justices themselves.”
    • A thought from the right: How the G.O.P. Might Get to Yes on Replacing Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “Since I became opposed to abortion, sometime in my later teens, I have never regarded the Supreme Court with warmth, admiration or patriotic trust. What my liberal friends felt after Bush v. Gore or after Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation or in imagining some future ruling by Amy Coney Barrett, I have felt for my entire adult life.”
  5. On faith and politics:
    • How Faith Shapes My Politics (David Brooks, New York Times): “In a society that is growing radically more secular every day, I’d say we have more to fear from political dogmatism than religious dogmatism.” 
    • Related: This just in! Evangelicals are actually America’s least politicized group of churches (Richard Ostling, GetReligion): “…the emerging scenario appears to indicate a relatively small and unrepresentative band of evangelical partisans at the national level has — aided by massive amounts of news coverage — distorted the public image of grass-roots white evangelicalism.”
    • What are your Expectations of Jesus’ Local Church? (Adam Sinnett, church website): “Over the last six months the elders of DCC have received numerous questions, recommendations, and criticisms in relation to what we should be doing as a church in regards to: our pandemic response, the relationship between church and state, timing and content of communication, growing unemployment, the homelessness crisis, political partisanship, systemic injustice, police brutality, social protests, and more.”
    • Follow-up: Who Does What in the Life of the Church? (Adam Sinnet, church website): “If we think of the church primarily as ‘the leaders’ we’ll place the burden of responsibility for the life of the church on the pastors. If we think of the church primarily as ‘the people’, we’ll place the burden of responsibility on the individuals. If we think of the church primarily as an ‘institution’, we’ll place the burden of responsibility on the organization, its structures, and processes. Who then is responsible for fulfilling God’s purpose for his church? Is it the leaders, or the people, or the institution? Put simply, everyone is responsible, though in different ways.”
    • Mark Dever’s Capitol Hill Baptist Sues to Not Forsake the Assembly (Kate Shellnut, Christianity Today): “…the DC congregation’s legal fight is uniquely tied to its theological beliefs around how a church should gather. Dever has long resisted multi-site, multi-service models of church, though they are very popular among fellow Southern Baptists. The DC Baptist church does not stream services online, and hasn’t made an exception to that rule during the pandemic.”
    • Capitol Hill Baptist, a large evangelical church, sues DC Mayor Muriel Bowser over coronavirus restrictions (Michelle Boorstein, Washington Post): “The vote Sunday at a members meeting to pursue litigation was 402 in favor, 35 against, members said, though church leaders would not confirm specific numbers.”
  6. Two random articles touching on race:
    • This Is How Biden Should Approach the Latino Vote (Ian Haney López and Tory Gavito, New York Times): “Progressives commonly categorize Latinos as people of color, no doubt partly because progressive Latinos see the group that way and encourage others to do so as well. Certainly, we both once took that perspective for granted. Yet in our survey, only one in four Hispanics saw the group as people of color.”
      • I am uninterested in the partisan angle of this op-ed, but the statistic I excerpted stood out to me. I wonder what percentage of Stanford students would have predicted it? I suspect the overwhelming majority of Stanford students would have bet on the opposite.
    • The Pretense That Princeton Is Racist (Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic): “I object to the entire witch hunt of an investigation, which Republicans would recognize as a flagrant abuse of federal power were it aimed at Liberty University. No reasonable person could conclude that an onerous probe of Princeton for anti-Black racism is the best use, or even a good use, of scarce resources to safeguard civil rights. The decision to grapple with racism should not trigger a federal investigation, whether or not that grappling is totally honest.”
  7. Tea Time: The Christian Mission to Preserve Culture (Lyman Stone, The Plough): “As strange as it may seem for a white American missionary to be teaching an eight-year-old Chinese girl from the tea capital of the world how to pour tea, such I understood to be my Christian duty.”

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 Jesus, Mary, and Joe Jonas (Jonathan Parks‐Ramage, Medium): “How, in famously liberal Hollywood and among statistically progressive millennials, had good old‐fashioned evangelism [sic] gained popularity? In this context, a church like Reality L.A. seemed like something that could never work. But that evening, as I reflected on the troubled actress and the psychic brutalities inflicted by the entertainment industry, it occurred to me that I had underestimated Hollywood’s biggest product: lost souls.” First shared in volume 192

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 160

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. Democrats Are Wrong About Republicans. Republicans Are Wrong About Democrats. (Perry Bacon Jr., FiveThirtyEight): “Blacks made up about a quarter of the Democratic Party, but Republicans estimated the share at 46 percent. Republicans thought 38 percent of Democrats were gay, lesbian or bisexual, while the actual number was about 6 percent. Democrats estimated that 44 percent of Republicans make more than $250,000 a year. The actual share was 2 percent. People also overstated the numbers of these stereotypical groups within their own party — Democrats thought 29 percent of their fellow Democrats were gay, lesbian or bisexual — but they weren’t off by as much as members of the other party.”
  2. The Socialist Network (Gilad Edelman, Washington Monthly): “At the heart of the split between liberals and socialists, at least in theory, is the question of what to do about capitalism. Liberals tend to see it as something that needs to be fixed. Socialists see it as something to be defeated. They say they do, anyway. As we’ve seen, the Millennial socialist intellectuals aren’t really calling for government takeover of industry.”
  3. Affirming Disadvantage (John McWhorter, The American Interest): “Do I oppose affirmative action? Not at all. But I suggest that what we now ‘affirm’ is disadvantage suffered by all kinds of people.” The author is a linguistics professor at Columbia. He earned his Ph.D. at Stanford, btw.
  4. Culture War As Class War: How Gay Rights Reinforce Elite Power (Darel E. Paul, First Things): “Privileging the normalization of homosexuality rather than, say, racial integration allows elites to have their diversity cake and eat it, too.” The author is a professor of political science at Williams College.
  5. If You Care About NATO You Should Care About German Military Readiness (David French, National Review): “…Germany’s military made headlines when it used broomsticks instead of machine guns during a NATO exercise because of a shortage of equipment. The lack of real weapons in the European Union’s most populous nation was seen as symptomatic of how underfunded its military has long been.” This is scary.
  6. Learning From ‘The Final Pagan Generation’ (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): this is a long and illuminating post. “Understand that we, like the final pagan generation [in ancient Rome], might think we are fighting for tolerance, but our opponents are fighting for victory. We have to change our tactics.” (emphasis removed)
  7. President Trump has nominated Brett Kavanaugh to be a Supreme Court Justice. I’ve got a lot of links here — just pick one or two.
    • It Took a Village to Raise Kavanaugh (David Brooks, New York Times): “Kavanaugh is the product of a community. He is the product of a conservative legal infrastructure that develops ideas, recruits talent, links rising stars, nurtures genius, molds and launches judicial nominees…. If you emphasize professional excellence first, if you gain a foothold in society’s mainstream institutions, if you build a cohesive band of brothers and sisters, you can transform the landscape of your field.”
    • As Trump picks Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court, evangelicals rejoice: ‘I will vote for him again’ (Julie Zauzmer, Washington Post): “Many evangelical pastors and activists said they would have been pleased with any of the names reported to be on Trump’s shortlist for the nomination. After all, that was the gambit that won Trump so many evangelical votes in 2016: He made the unusual move of releasing, before he was even president, a list of judges he would consider for the Supreme Court if elected. And evangelicals liked what they saw.”
    • Brett Kavanaugh, Donald Trump’s Supreme Court pick, explained (Dylan Matthews, Vox): “Kavanaugh continued to compile a legal record that would lead to Durbin’s description of him as ‘the Zelig or Forrest Gump of Republican politics. You show up at every scene of the crime … whether it is Elián González or the Starr Report, you are there.’”
    • Will Brett Kavanaugh Pass the Religious Right’s New Litmus Test? (Sarah Posner, The Nation): “Even without the Trump-appointed Kennedy successor, the Court had already expanded ‘religious freedom’ to include previously unimagined religious rights.” This is an extremely misleading article, but interesting in the misunderstandings it reveals.
    • You’ll Hate This Post On Brett Kavanaugh And Free Speech (Ken White, Popehat): “Kavanaugh has been an appellate judge for 12 years and has written many opinions on free speech issues. They trend very protective of free speech, both in substance and in rhetoric.”
    • Judge Kavanaugh and the Second Amendment (David Kopel, Volokh Conspiracy): “Judge Kavanaugh’s text, history, and tradition methodology for Second Amendment cases will not please people who believe that all gun control is impermissible, nor will it please advocates who want to make the Second Amendment a second-class right.”

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

I thought the Babylon Bee was exceptionally funny this week. Maybe I was just feeling giggly.

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have Inside Graduate Admissions (Inside Higher Ed, Scott Jaschick): if you plan to apply to grad school, read this. There is one revealing anecdote about how an admissions committee treated an application from a Christian college student. My takeaway: the professors tried to be fair but found it hard to do, and their stated concerns were mostly about the quality of the institution rather than the faith of the applicant. Troubling nonetheless. (first shared in volume 32)

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.

If this was forwarded to you and you want to receive future emails, sign up here. You can also view the archives.