Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 348

A reminder not to be cool plus other provocations.

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.

348 is the sum of four consecutive primes: 79 + 83 + 89 + 97 = 348.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”… And other stupid statements (C. Michael Patton, Credo House): “ ‘Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.’ While this may seem like sound reasoning at first glance, it fails in significant ways. Try using this phrase and switch out the modifier. What if I said, ‘physical claims require physical evidence.’ Or what about this: ‘miraculous claims require miraculous evidence’? How about ‘canine claims require canine evidence’? Of course, you would see the fallacy right away. The equivocation creates an apparent profundity that misdirects our senses. In every case claims just need evidence.”
  2. In Praise of the Boring, Uncool Church (Brett McCracken, Gospel Coalition): “It seems almost every ‘leader of Christian cool’—whether a tattooed celebrity pastor or a buzzy nightclub church—flames out and loses its footing fairly quickly. Which is not at all surprising. By their very nature, things that are cool are ephemeral. What’s fashionable is, by the necessity of the rules of fashion, quickly obsolete. This is one of many reasons why chasing cool is a fool’s errand for churches and pastors…”
  3. Unexpected negative impacts of COVID:
    • Report: 26 Million Americans Stopped Reading the Bible Regularly During COVID-19 (Adam MacInnis, Christianity Today): “Plake thinks the dramatic change shows how closely Bible reading—even independent Bible reading—is connected to church attendance. When regular services were interrupted by the pandemic and related health mandates, it impacted not just the corporate bodies of believers but also individuals at home.”
    • Researchers: COVID-19, Israel-Gaza war fueled antisemitism (Laurie Kellman, AP News): “The study compiled data from 22 countries. French authorities, for instance, reported a 36% jump in antisemitic incidents involving physical violence, from 44 to 60. The United Kingdom saw a 78% jump in incidents of assault, from 97 to 173. The number of antisemitic incidents in Canada rose 54%, from 173 to 266, the report said.… [In America] The Anti-Defamation League counted 2,717 antisemitic incidents of assault, harassment and vandalism in 2021, a 34% increase over the previous year. It was the highest number since the New York City-based group began tracking such incidents in 1979.”
  4. Red Flags for Faith-Based Liberty in Hong Kong (Susan Crabtree, Real Clear Politics): “Under President Xi Jinping, all religions have faced persecution.… For several years, the Christian church in Hong Kong was largely spared. But recent actions taken against Hong Kong’s Christian churches are chipping away at the religious freedom the city has enjoyed since the British established it as a colony in the early 1840s.”
  5. Tips From the Top: Do the Best Performers Really Give the Best Advice? (David E. Levari, Daniel T. Gilbert & Timothy D. Wilson, Psychological Science): “Although advice from the best-performing advisors was no more beneficial than advice from other advisors, participants believed that it had been—and they believed this despite the fact that they were told nothing about their advisors’ performance. Why? The best performers did not give better advice, but they did give more of it, and participants apparently mistook quantity for quality.” The researchers are at Harvard and UVA. I did not read the article itself because I found the abstract instantly plausible.
  6. John Adams’ Fear Has Come to Pass (David French, The Dispatch): “…the most polarized Americans are disproportionately white and college-educated on the left and disproportionately white and retired on the right. The people disproportionately driving polarization in the United States are not oppressed minorities, but rather some of the most powerful, most privileged, wealthiest people who’ve ever lived. They enjoy more freedom and opportunity than virtually any prior generation of humans, all while living under the protective umbrella of the most powerful military in the history of the planet.” Recommended by a student.
  7. A Political Scientist on Ukraine (Mike Mazarr, Twitter): “Very struck by recent analysis + reporting that highlights a risk–highly uncertain but not so far widely discussed–of a significant escalation of the Ukraine war in coming weeks. What it means, and what it implies for US policy, are not at all clear.”

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 Real Problem at Yale Is Not Free Speech (Natalia Dashan, Palladium): “The campus ‘free speech’ debate is just a side‐effect. So are debates about ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion.’ The real problems run much deeper. The real problems start with Marcus and me, and the masks we wear for each other…. In a world of masks and façades, it is hard to convey the truth. And this is how I ended up offering a sandwich to a man with hundreds of millions in a foreign bank account.” I liked this one a lot. First shared in volume 215.

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 343

a briefer collection than normal

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 343, which has an unusual relationship with the number 18. Namely 343 = 180 + 181 + 182.

I don’t have much access to my computer this week, so this is a briefer collection than the norm. And there may not be an update next week at all — we’ll see.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. How Readers Around the World Are Praying for Ukraine (Tish Harrison Warren, New York Times): “…prayer is indeed powerful, often in ways we can’t account for. War, whatever else it is, is spiritually dark, even demonic. From the first days of the Russian invasion, religious people and institutions around the world have responded by praying. Written prayers and Psalms can be a lifeline, helping us pray when our own words — and even our own faith — fail.”
    • The last prayer is amazing content for the New York Times and I post it here in full since some of you don’t have access through the NYT paywall:
    • “Father-God, may the attackers’ fingers freeze; may they drop things; may they not see clearly; may their equipment malfunction; may they experience
    • overwhelming hopelessness, enormous fatigue and a complete loss of any desire to fight; may their communication be broken; may there be confusion. Lead them to surrender. Stretch the kilometers before them into endless kilometers of nonadvancement. Remove their leadership and replace them with people who make decisions that reflect a fear of you.
      Oh, God, infuse defenders with incredible surges of renewed alertness, strength, hope, courage. Inspire those who want to help. Show them specific, effective ideas. Move them swiftly and safely.
      The worst is yet to come, Lord, if you do not stop it. But please, no peace where there is no peace. We ask for peace united with righteousness and truth.God of all comfort, be physically present with all the mothers, fathers, grandparents and children who are hiding, hearing, smelling, enduring. Warm them; fill them with food; give them water, toilets, communication with their loved ones, the Gospel, hope in you.
      We repent of making idols of political leaders and news outlets. Forgive us for wanting them to be our gods and saviors. Forgive us for being unreasonable, for not wanting to admit both the good and bad in all of our leaders. It is this spirit that leads us to dictators because we abandon responsibility and reason. We confess the seeds of war that live in our own hearts.
      We humble our hearts, our bodies. We ask you for mercy. Thank you that you love mercy and have all power.”
  2. How Religious Faith Can Shape Success in School (Ilana M. Horwitz, New York Times): “I found that what religion offers teenagers varies by social class. Those raised by professional-class parents, for example, do not experience much in the way of an educational advantage from being religious. In some ways, religion even constrains teenagers’ educational opportunities (especially girls’) by shaping their academic ambitions after graduation; they are less likely to consider a selective college as they prioritize life goals such as parenthood, altruism and service to God rather than a prestigious career. However, teenage boys from working-class families, regardless of race, who were regularly involved in their church and strongly believed in God were twice as likely to earn bachelor’s degrees as moderately religious or nonreligious boys.”
    • I find the tension between faith and wealth interesting. They emerge as rivals in all sorts of situations. The author is a sociologist at Tulane.
  3. This 47-year-old left a $800,000 salary to coach basketball – now his small school is headed to NCAA March Madness (Tom Huddleston, Jr): “In 2016, Aldrich was in the midst of a lucrative career. After being a partner at one of the world’s top law firms, he’d become the chief financial officer of a private equity firm, with a salary of $800,000 per year, he told The Washington Post last week. But then, his best friend and former college basketball teammate Ryan Odom landed the job as head basketball coach at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Odom offered Aldrich a position as director of recruiting, a job that paid only $32,000 per year. But it got Aldrich closer to fulfilling a lifelong dream: a career coaching college basketball. He accepted.” Recommended by a student. I did some digging and turns out the coach is a devout Christian.
  4. The Semiconductor Ecosystem – Explained (Steve Blank, blog): “Controlling advanced chip manufacturing in the 21st century may well prove to be like controllin g the oil supply in the 20th. The country that controls this manufacturing can throttle the military and economic power of others.” Recommended by a student.
  5. SF is now boycotting most of the United States (Joe Eskenazi,Mission Local):  “It will come as little surprise to anyone familiar with the M.O. of San Francisco government that we have no tests nor audits nor analysis nor methodology to determine if our travel bans or boycotts are making any difference for the good.… You could argue that, in 2016, San Francisco put itself in the vanguard of a movement. But, in the ensuing six years, nobody else has joined up. ‘No city has reached out to say they want to mirror our rules,’ confirms Chu.” 
  6. The Real Reason That Pornography Can Lead to Male Sexual Dissatisfaction (Ross Pomeroy, Real Clear Science): “…the unrealistic depictions of sex, female partners, and relationships commonly seen in pornography can warp men’s expectations of real-life sex. When heterosexual men expect sex with their partners to be just like the staged fantasies they see on the Internet, this can lead to dissatisfaction and even lower their well-being.”
    • Science, catching up to youth pastors since 2022.
    • Catching up to bad youth pastors, actually. The advice at the end is pretty terrible by almost anyone’s standards.
  7. The Christians Who Think the Ukraine Invasion Means Jesus Is Returning to Earth (Alex Morris, Rolling Stone): “For millennia, end times Christians have tried to shoehorn current events into proof of Jesus’ imminent return, taking cryptic language from the books of Ezekiel, Daniel, Matthew, and Revelation to come up with various theories as to how the world will end. In most of these theories — embraced by conservative evangelical or fundamentalist branches of the faith — an entity referred to as Gog and Magog descends from the ‘far north’ upon a peaceful, reconstituted Israel, whose people had been ‘brought out from the nations, and all now dwell securely,’ as it is described in Ezekiel. The resulting war that follows allows a Messiah to swoop in and come to Israel’s rescue. It also ushers in the end of the world as we know it and the establishment of a new and better kingdom of God on earth.”
    • The author mostly did his homework, but did misspell “pentacostal” later in the essay and definitely gets some of the mentality wrong.

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 one I have fondness in my heart for: Manly wedding rings for tough guys who are dudes (Dan Brooks, The Outline): “I don’t hunt, but I briefly considered buying a camouflage ring, partly to signal my deep commitment to irony and partly to get better service at the auto parts store.” I really enjoyed this essay, and I hope that many of you have need of wedding bands in the not‐too‐distant future. First shared in volume 210.

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 342

the long collections of links are at the end — punchy stuff up top

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 342, which is 666 in base 7. Do with that information as you see fit.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. I Came to College Eager to Debate. I Found Self-Censorship Instead. (Emma Camp, New York Times): “…my college experience has been defined by strict ideological conformity. Students of all political persuasions hold back — in class discussions, in friendly conversations, on social media — from saying what we really think. Even as a liberal who has attended abortion rights protests and written about standing up to racism, I sometimes feel afraid to fully speak my mind.”
    • This is a strong column. And the anecdote about her first amendment sign is amusing.
  2. We’re All Sinners, and Accepting That Is Actually a Good Thing (Tish Harrison Warren, New York Times): “My favorite definition of sin comes from the English author Francis Spufford. He says that most of us in the West think of sin as a word that ‘basically means “indulgence” or “enjoyable naughtiness.“ ‘ Instead, he calls sin ‘the human propensity to mess things up’ — only he doesn’t use the word ‘mess,’ and his word is probably closer to the truth of things.”
    • This sentence from later on was quite good: “The Lutheran theologian Martin Marty wrote that we live in a culture where ‘everything is permitted and nothing is forgiven.’ ”
  3. Women who self-objectify are less aware of the cold during nights out, study finds (Beth Elwood, PsyPost): “Self-objectification is when a person is overly concerned with how others perceive their appearance. When people self-objectify, they view themselves as objects of attraction. Interestingly, a greater tendency to self-objectify has been associated with reduced attention to one’s bodily processes, for example, difficulty identifying feelings of hunger.”
    • “Self-objectify.” I love when we come up with new words that we don’t need. Vain will do fine, thank you. And I doubt this is as gendered as the headline suggests — I see frat bros in their muscle shirts even when it is chilly out. Vain people are apparently not lying when they say they don’t feel the cold.
  4. A feud between mail carriers, wild turkeys comes to a deadly climax near Sacramento (Christian Martinez, LA Times): “For months, mail carriers in the Sacramento County enclave of Arden-Arcade have been terrorized by wild turkeys, at times disrupting deliveries. This week, tensions between the fowl and one U.S. Postal Service worker reached a violent climax when the carrier killed a turkey while on duty, officials said, prompting an investigation by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.”
    • If a crime was committed then California laws need reform. If self-defense is a legitimate excuse in human death how much more when an animal is killed? I stan the letter carrier.
  5. On Ukraine:
    • Why Forecasting War Is Hard (Richard Hanania, Substack): “If North Korea can maintain a formidable army, I suspect that Russia can too no matter how bad sanctions get.… I keep trying to play the scenario out in my head as to what a Russian loss looks like and it’s hard to see it.”
    • Ukraine is around the same size as Texas. (My Life Elsewhere)
    • The U.S. Is Not at War, But Its Civil Society Is Mobilizing Against Russia (Benjamin Parker, The Bulwark): “While no state of war exists between the government of the United States and the government of Russia, a sort of opt-in, cultural-economic quasi-war exists between American civil society and the Russian government. The same goes for many if not all of the other countries arrayed against Russia. This raises lots of interesting and difficult questions…”
    • Related: Putin Dons President Xi Mask So Companies Will Stop Boycotting Them (Babylon Bee): ouch
    • Go Ahead. Pray for Putin’s Demise. (Tish Harrison Warren, Christianity Today): “Very often in the imprecatory psalms, we are asking that people’s evil actions would ricochet back on themselves. We are not praying that violence begets more violence or that evil starts a cycle of vengeance or retaliation. But we are praying that people would be destroyed by their own schemes and, as my professor prayed, that bombs would explode in bombers’ faces.”
    • They Predicted the Ukraine War. But Did They Still Get It Wrong? (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “It’s a curious feature of Western debate since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that a school of thought that predicted some version of this conflict has been depicted as discredited by the partial fulfillment of its prophecies.”
    • Ukraine’s Believers and the ‘Christian’ Putin (Mindy Belz, Wall Street Journal): “Pro-Russian fighters in Donbas seized churches and Christian universities, some violently. Militiamen abducted, tortured and killed four Pentecostal deacons. Their bodies were found in a mass grave along with two dozen others. One watchdog group, the European Evangelical Alliance, called Donbas ‘the area of Europe where the church suffers the most.’ ” Recommended by an alumnus.
    • Facebook allows war posts urging violence against Russian invaders (Munsif Vengattil & Elizabeth Culliford, Reuters): “The calls for the leaders’ deaths will be allowed unless they contain other targets or have two indicators of credibility, such as the location or method, one email said, in a recent change to the company’s rules on violence and incitement.”
      • It’s like a modern-day version of the religious gymnastics Jesus condemned in Mark 7:9–13. Facebook is opposed to calls for violence except when they are not.
    • Why white evangelical Christians are Putin’s biggest American fan base (Anthea Butler, MSNBC): “…more pro-Putin American evangelicals are coming into sharp focus. Televangelist Pat Robertson proclaimed that Putin is ‘being compelled by God’ to invade Ukraine — his take on Putin’s motivations is questionable at best, but his support for Putin as part of a divine plan is notable.”
      • Ummm… not a Pat Robertson fanboy here, but I feel the need to point out to the author that Judas was part of a divine plan. Being part of a divine plan is not automatically commendable. The article is interesting regardless.
    • The Real Russia ‘Reset’: Reassessing US Sanctions Policy Against Russia (Daniel P. Ahn, Russia Matters):  “…the pecuniary cost of sanctions to Russia has been larger than previously estimated, but these sanctions have had an effect on domestic politics that is not necessarily favorable to U.S. interests. Namely, the Russian government’s attempts to protect economic sectors it considers strategic have made the country’s powerful elites even more dependent on the Kremlin, while the bottom-line costs are borne by ordinary people.”
      • This is recent yet from before the current sanctions in response to the invasion of Ukraine (and thus less caught up in the moment). Recommended by a student.
  6. On the pandemic:
    • Tolerating COVID Misinformation Is Better Than the Alternative (Conor Friedersdor, The Atlantic): “On December 30, 2019, Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist at Wuhan Central Hospital in Hubei, China, began to warn friends and colleagues about the outbreak of a novel respiratory illness. Four days later, he was summoned to appear before local authorities, who reprimanded him for ‘making false comments’ that ‘severely disturbed the social order.’ In hindsight, Li was the first person accused of disseminating medical misinformation during the coronavirus pandemic, despite the fact that he was telling the truth.”
    • Secondary Attack Rates for Omicron and Delta Variants of SARS-CoV‑2 in Norwegian Households (Jørgensen, Nygård & Kacelnik, JAMA): “Secondary attack rate [chance of transmitting to someone else in your household] was 25.1% (95% CI, 24.4%-25.9%) when the variant of the index case was Omicron, 19.4% (95% CI, 19.0%-19.8%) when it was Delta, and 17.9% (95% CI, 17.5%-18.4%) when it was nonclassified.”
      • This is straight-up surprising to me. If you got COVID there was only a 1/5 to 1/4 chance of spreading it to the people who live with you. This is based on national-level Norwegian data and I don’t know enough about Norway’s architecture, culture, or COVID restrictions compared to the USA to know how well this maps to us, but it’s really interesting. For context, when I got COVID so did most (but not all) of my family.
    • An Anti-Vax Judge Is Preventing the Navy From Deploying a Warship (Mark Joseph Stern, Slate): “The Navy and the federal judiciary are therefore in a standoff. The Navy will not deploy Doe’s warship until he is stripped of command [because of his response to COVID]. Merryday will not allow it to do so. As a result, Merryday has effectively taken a 10,000 ton, $1.8 billion guided-missile destroyer out of commission.”
      • This is more of an op-ed than an article and is very hostile to the officer and the judge. Nonetheless interesting.
    • Destroyer can’t deploy because CO won’t get COVID vaccine, Navy says (Geoff Ziezulewicz, Navy Times): “But according to Mat Staver of the Liberty Counsel, a religious freedom non-profit representing the plaintiffs, the government is ‘putting in these histrionic kinds of statements into the record that are completely contrary to the evidence.’ While Navy leaders have professed lost confidence in the CO, they still sent him and his ship out to sea for two weeks of training, Staver told Navy Times on Monday. ‘When this was filed in court saying the ship is not deployable because they lost confidence in the Commander, the Commander was on board the ship out to sea for two weeks of testing and training for military readiness,’ Staver said.”
      • A more comprehensive accounting. The legal context about the requirements of RFRA at the end are clarifying.
  7. Florida’s education bill:
    • For the bill: Why are they really wanting to talk to 1st graders about sexuality? (Peter Heck, Substack): “What am I missing? Why are there people so invested in talking to kindergartners about sex that they are railing against this law and rallying Hollywood, media, and their entire progressive pop culture apparatus into misrepresenting and reversing it?”
    • For the bill: “Don’t Say Gay” is a lie (Allie Beth Stuckey, World): “..what is the well-meaning, reasonable opposition to this bill? I am hard-pressed to think of one valid reason, even as I have attempted a good faith effort of putting myself in a progressive’s shoes. The most charitable explanation I can give is that most people angrily protesting and reporting on the bill have not read it.”
    • Against the bill: Bills like ‘Don’t Say Gay’ hurt LGBTQ youth already at high risk of suicide (Amit Paley, USA Today): “LGBTQ youth are already placed at significantly increased risk for suicide because of how they are mistreated and stigmatized. The Trevor Project’s  2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, capturing the experiences of nearly 35,000 LGBTQ youth across the United States, found that 42% of respondents seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half of trans and nonbinary youth.”
    • The above claim in academic context: Suicide by Clinic-Referred Transgender Adolescents in the United Kingdom (Michael Biggs, Archives of Sexual Behavior): “From 2010 to 2020, four patients were known or suspected to have died by suicide, out of about 15,000 patients (including those on the waiting list). To calculate the annual suicide rate, the total number of years spent by patients under the clinic’s care is estimated at about 30,000. This yields an annual suicide rate of 13 per 100,000 (95% confidence interval: 4–34). Compared to the United Kingdom population of similar age and sexual composition, the suicide rate for patients at the GIDS was 5.5 times higher.”
      • Summary: this study suggests that UK youth who consider themselves trans are more likely to attempt suicide than their peers but at a much lower rate than the fifty percent which is often thrown around. The suicide rate among this population is actually thousands of times smaller than that, slightly above one hundredth of one percent. Each of those deaths is a tragedy, and having an accurate understanding of the problem is essential to planning effective societal responses.
      • Incidentally, this far lower number is actually compatible with the 50% claim in the preceding article when the phrase “seriously considered attempting suicide” is rightly understood. The academic paper delves into some relevant considerations and I commend it to you.

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 Asymmetric Weapons Gone Bad (Scott Alexander, Slate Star Codex): “Every day we do things that we can’t easily justify. If someone were to argue that we shouldn’t do the thing, they would win easily. We would respond by cutting that person out of our life, and continuing to do the thing.” This entire series of articles (this is the fourth, the others are linked at the top of it) is 100% worth reading. It’s a very interesting way to think about the limits of reason and the wisdom hidden in tradition. First shared in volume 206.

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 340

Lots of Ukraine/Russia links, plus more entertaining links than normal as a compensation.

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 340, which is cool because it’s a multiple of 17 and I really like the number 17.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. On Ukraine and Russia: a lot of links here, just open the interesting titles in new tabs.
    • To Stay and Serve: Why We Didn’t Flee Ukraine (Vasyl Ostryi, Gospel Coalition): “How should the church respond when there is a growing threat of war? When there is constant fear in society? I’m convinced that if the church is not relevant at a time of crisis, then it is not relevant in a time of peace.… while the church may not fight like the nation, we still believe we have a role to play in this struggle. We will shelter the weak, serve the suffering, and mend the broken. And as we do, we offer the unshakable hope of Christ and his gospel.” Respect.
    • We lack the ability to ideate and innovate on foreign policy (Melissa Wear, Substack): “Why is it that the media and experts marveled so much at the unprecedented sharing of intelligence on President Putin’s next moves? Because it was something new. And it’s no surprise it comes from the intelligence community. They and those in the military and defense are not as often cultivated under the banner of progress and peace and the End of History in typical IR and political sciences courses, narratives, and hallways of power.”
    • We’re All Ukrainians Now (David French, The Dispatch): “No one claims that Ukraine is a perfect country. Like many former Soviet republics, it has struggled to find its footing. It’s endured authoritarianism, and it battles corruption. But, in Lewis’s words, it is ‘not in the least aggressive.’ It ‘asks only to be let alone.’ As a nation that has endured its own aggressive attacks, how can we not empathize? How can we not do what we reasonably can to deter Russian aggression and help Ukrainians defend themselves?” 
    • Thoughts On Shitpost Diplomacy (Tanner Greer, personal blog): “The American diplomat who posted this meme should have known this. He or she was almost certainly a Foreign Service Officer in the Public Diplomacy cone; a public diplomat’s first charge is learning how to communicate persuasively to the people of the region stationed in. It is not that this officer lacked the raw intelligence to fulfill this role: four out of every five applicants fail the Foreign Service’s selective entrance tests. It is what this diplomat did after receiving his or her post that mattered. This diplomat did not study. Memes like these are the product of a culture that retweets more than it reads.”
    • On Ukraine (George Weigel, First Things): “For months now, the world press has described Russian troop deployments along Ukraine’s borders as spearheads of a possible invasion. The truth, however, is that Russia invaded Ukraine seven years ago, when it annexed Crimea and Russian ‘little green men’ ignited a war in eastern Ukraine that has taken over 14,000 lives and displaced over a million people. Whatever the current military developments, a Russian invasion of Ukraine has not been ‘imminent’; the invasion is ongoing.”
    • Amid War and Rumors of War, Ukraine Pastors Preach and Prepare (Jayson Casper, Christianity Today): “Preaching on the Sermon on the Mount’s injunction toward peacemaking, Kulakevych continued his laser-sharp focus on the possible Russian invasion. Five weeks ago, as the separatist conflict in the eastern Donbas region began to escalate, he surveyed the Bible for its teaching on ‘wars and rumors of war.’ He followed that with an application of ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled’ and, on the next Sunday, a treatise on worry.”
    • Russia Keeps Punishing Evangelicals in Crimea (Kate Shellnutt and Forum 18, Christianity Today): “Since Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014—one of the central points of conflict in the current clash between the two countries—Protestant Christians in the territory have faced greater government penalties for practicing their faith.”
    • Russia’s space agency warns US sanctions could ‘destroy’ cooperation on the International Space Station (Kristin Fisher, CNN): “If you block cooperation with us, who will save the International Space Station (ISS) from an uncontrolled deorbit and fall into the United States or…Europe?” Rogozin said. “There is also the possibility of a 500-ton structure falling on India and China. Do you want to threaten them with such a prospect? The ISS does not fly over Russia, therefore all the risks are yours. Are you ready for them?” Recommended by an alumnus.
    • Putin as a man of ideas (Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution): “If you write books, whether good or bad ones, and wonder whether your work matters, I suggest the answer lies before you on your TV screen each evening. Russia is a nation of ideas, led by people who are obsessed with ideas. The rest of the world, most of all Europe, will need better ideas in turn.”
    • Putin’s spiritual destiny (Giles Fraser,  UnHerd): “Last year, on the anniversary of the baptism of the Rus, [Patriarch] Kirill preached to his people, urging them to stay true to Vladimir’s conversion and the blood of the orthodox martyrs. He told them to love ‘our homeland, our people, our rulers and our army’. The Western secular imagination doesn’t get this. It looks at Putin’s speech the other evening, and it describes him as mad — which is another way of saying we do not understand what is going on. And we show how little we understand by thinking that a bunch of sanctions is going to make a blind bit of difference. They won’t.”
    • Putin’s Attack on Ukraine Is a Religious War (John Schindler, Substack): “Every secular geostrategic challenge cited as a reason for Putin’s aggression – NATO expansion, Western military moves, oil and gas politics – existed in 2014, yet Putin then chose to limit his attacks on Ukraine to Crimea and the Southeast. What’s changed since then that makes his effort to subdue all Ukraine seem like a good idea in the Kremlin? The creation of an autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine in 2019, with official American backing, is the difference, and Moscow believes this was all a nefarious U.S. plot to divide world Orthodoxy at Russia’s expense. Clearly Putin has decided that reclaiming Ukraine and its capital, ‘the mother of Russian cities,’ for Russian Orthodoxy is worth a major war. Make no mistake, this is a religious war, even if almost nobody in the West realizes it.“This is in the mix. I don’t know what percentage of the mix it is, but it’s definitely in the mix.
    • War and dating apps (swipe left) (Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution): “Ukrainian women in second city Kharkiv — just 20 miles from tyrannical Vladimir Putin’s vast invasion force — have been stunned by a salvo of admirers in uniform. Hunky Russian troops called Andrei, Alexander, Gregory, Michail and a bearded Chechen fighter nicknamed ‘Black’ were among dozens whose profiles popped up.” This is a link to a summary of an article from the Sun. The summary is enough, but if you click through you’ll see actual Tinder photos.
  2. I spent six months in a cult. They’re still here on campus. (Camille Williams, The Daily Northwestern): “So, you are probably wondering: how did I get out? …Some may call it a gut instinct; I call it the Holy Spirit within me squirming in revolt. After that conversation, I ran out of my bedroom and yelled to my mother, ‘I accidentally joined a cult.’ After she went from confused laughter to vowing to throw hands with these people, I finally started to feel this burden release.”
    • This is an article by a student in Chi Alpha at Northwestern. She was in Chi Alpha, got sucked into a cult, and then got out and returned to Chi Alpha.
  3. Gangsters want to be good people too (Chris Blattman, blog): “I remember meeting one gang leader on the streets of Chicago. We were standing in line at a nacho and ice cream truck (yes that exists) chatting. I was trying to understand how one of the violence reduction programs I was working on affected his operations. After all, we were trying to recruit away his best young men—his star dealers and shooters. We wanted to get them into other kinds of jobs. Surely he was frustrated. On the contrary. He was delighted. ‘I only do this for the boys,’ he said. ‘They need something to do. Your program is even better. I’m happy they’re going.’ In his mind, the violent drug-dealing was a public employment program, and he the administrator.”
  4. Some Canadian Convoy Aftermath:
    • Convoy Crackdown (Zvi Mowshowitz, Substack): “Family members having trouble living their lives is being treated not as a bug but as a feature. The sins of the father are to be laid upon the children, it seems. This extends as noted above to those who provide financial assistance to those engaging in disapproved activities, and that such retaliation will continue to happen after the activities in question cease, so not only is one without one’s money and other assets, and without the ability to spend what one does have, others may reasonably fear that helping you not end up on the street might land them in the same situation.” Emphasis in original.
    • Trudeau ends use of Emergencies Act, says ‘situation is no longer an emergency’ (Nick Boisvert, CBC): “The Senate was in the midst of debating the act on Wednesday but withdrew the motion shortly after Trudeau made his announcement.” I am glad the emergency measures have been lifted, but what should concern us all is that this is now on the table as an option for otherwise rights-based governments.
    • What Led to Canada’s Crisis (Nathan Pinkoski,First Things): “The crisis had its origins in material conditions unique to Canada. A combination of elite overproduction and Canada’s position in the shadow of the United States has produced an ideologically supercharged managerial class that has accelerated the adoption of a new kind of emergency politics.“The author is at the nearby Zephyr Institute.
  5. By Any Other Name (Helena, Substack): “UK NHS referral data shows a 4000% increase in pediatric gender service referrals (not a typo). So-called ‘gender dysphoria’, which was once a very rare diagnosis that described mostly prepubescent boys and adult men, is now most commonly diagnosed in teenage girls. Activists will argue that these explosive numbers are a result of increased societal acceptance, and that at long last trans people are coming out of hiding and living as their authentic selves. If this were true, one might expect to see comparable rates of transgender identity across all age groups and between both sexes, but its disproportionately adolescent females feeling that warm and fuzzy inclusive acceptance.” A very personal narrative. Long, recommended.
  6. The C.D.C. Isn’t Publishing Large Portions of the Covid Data It Collects (Apoorva Mandavilli, New York Times): “…the C.D.C. has been routinely collecting information since the Covid vaccines were first rolled out last year, according to a federal official familiar with the effort. The agency has been reluctant to make those figures public, the official said, because they might be misinterpreted as the vaccines being ineffective.” My level of confidence in our public health agencies cannot go much lower. And sadly, in an attempt to prevent people believing disapproved thoughts the CDC has inflamed conspiracy theorists. Outrageous.

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 From Midwest Drug Dealer to The Farm: Jason Spyres Shares His Inspiring Story (Yasmin Samrai, Stanford Review): “To justify his criminal behaviour, he told himself that though selling pot was illegal, it wasn’t immoral. This theory came crashing down when two gangs broke into his house, split his head open, and robbed him. When Spyres discovered that the burglars had nearly mistaken his house for his neighbor’s, he realized that selling drugs put other people’s safety in jeopardy. ‘I was shocked and sickened with myself,’ he recalled. ‘I was part of a black market and my actions had unintended consequences.’” What a wild story. 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 336

I was quarantined this week, so I had an extra-large pile of stuff to sift through. Enjoy these gems!

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’m a simple man, and I appreciate that volume 336 is comprised of digits easily put into an equation: 3 + 3 = 6.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. This Innovative Christian Homeless Shelter Is Rising To California’s Housing Challenge (Liza Vandenboom Ashley, Religion Unplugged): “…Orange County Rescue Mission [is] an innovative Christian homeless shelter based in Tustin with several other locations. The Tustin campus, known as the Village of Hope, runs without government funding or private debt and employs an organizational and aesthetic ethos that more closely resembles a college campus than a homeless shelter.” This is an uplifting read. Recommended.
  2. Christ and cocaine: Rio’s gangs of God blend faith and violence (Tom Phillips, The Guardian): “Drug lords, some regular churchgoers, have incorporated Christian symbols into their ultra-violent trade. Packets of cocaine, handguns and uniforms are emblazoned with the Star of David – a reference to the Pentecostal belief that the return of Jews to Israel represents progress towards the second coming. Gang-commissioned graffiti offers spiritual guidance and heavenly praise.” Recommended by an alumnus. What a wild story! Seeing their blind spots, my main takeaway is to wonder what my blind spots are.
  3. Nothing Sacred: These Apps Reserve The Right To Sell Your Prayers (Emily Baker-White, BuzzFeed): “It is common for free apps to profit from sharing their users’ data and to be vague about exactly how and with whom they share it, but users feel like Pray.com’s data practices are at odds with the deeply personal nature of prayer itself. Jenny, a recent college graduate who prayed about the infidelity of a romantic partner in the app, said ‘there is an expectation of privacy’ among Christians sharing prayers.”
    • From later in the article: “At least one government has taken an interest in prayer app data, too — the US military bought extensive location data mined from Muslim prayer apps back in 2020 for use in special forces operations.”
  4. PDF: So Long, And No Thanks for the Externalities: The Rational Rejection of Security Advice by Users (Cormac Herley, Microsoft): “For example, much of the advice concerning passwords is outdated and does little to address actual treats, and fully 100% of certificate error warnings appear to be false positives. Further, if users spent even a minute a day reading URLs to avoid phishing, the cost (in terms of user time) would be two orders of magnitude greater than all phishing losses. Thus we find that most security advice simply offers a poor cost-benefit tradeoff to users and is rejected.” Recommended by a student.
  5. Superhero Secret Identities Aren’t Possible with Today’s Computing Technologies (Jason Hong, Communications of the ACM): “Superheroes have to worry about having their identity being revealed, but the rest of us in the real world have to worry about just how much information about us is out there, how widely available many of these technologies are, and how both of these can be easily abused—sometimes accidentally, sometimes intentionally—by advertisers, governments, employers, stalkers, criminals, and more.” I enjoyed this.
  6. On Russia/Ukraine:
    • US Blunders, Ukraine’s War (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “Putin or no Putin, no Russian leader could allow Ukraine to join NATO, any more than any American leader could allow Mexico to join a defensive alliance formed out of opposition to American power. Every American president since James Monroe has upheld the so-called Monroe Doctrine, which claims the entire Western hemisphere as a zone of American influence. By what crackpot logic can we advance and defend that claim, but expect Russia, another great power, to acquiesce to Ukraine, a border state to Russia, joining NATO?”
    • Russia as the “Great Satan” in the Liberal Imagination (Richard Hanania, Substack): “…the US foreign policy establishment believes that every country in Europe should eventually be part of the EU and NATO, and none should be allowed to get close to Russia or adopt a ‘nondemocratic’ form of government, with “democracy” again being defined as making internal decisions that reflect the policy outcomes that State Department officials wish a Democratic president would implement at home.”
    • Defend Chernobyl During an Invasion? Why Bother, Some Ukrainians Ask. (Andrew Kramer & Tyler Hicks, New York Times): “Mr. Prishepa said he would prefer that Ukraine set up the defensive lines further south, giving the irradiated zone over to whomever might want it. ‘It’s a wasteland,’ he said. ‘No crop will ever grow here.’ ” Recommended by an alumnus.
  7. Pandemic perspectives:
    • I Had COVID. Am I Done Now? (Emily Oster, Substack): “I think part of what has made this transition difficult, even if we say we have accepted it, is the residual fear of the unknown that has been hard to shake. It’s not unknown to as many of us as before. I spent the past two years taking a million PCR and rapid tests, which were all negative. When I finally got a positive result last week, I felt a bit of loss and defeat but also a bit of release. Maybe it’s the same for others.“The author is an economist at Brown University.
    • Why Are We Boosting Kids? (David Zweig, Bari Weiss’s Substack): “Monica Gandhi, a doctor and an infectious-disease specialist at the University of California, San Francisco, was blunt in her assessment. ‘I am not giving my 12 and 14-year-old boys boosters,’ she told me. Dr. Gandhi is not the only expert to publicly state an intention to not comply with the CDC’s recommendation. Dr. Paul Offit is the director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, a member of the FDA’s vaccine advisory committee, and is considered one the country’s top authorities on pediatric vaccine policy. He recently said that getting boosted would not be worth the risk for the average healthy 17-year-old boy, and he advised his son, who is in his 20s, not to get a third dose.”
    • Society has a trust problem. More censorship will only make it worse. (Hamish McKenzie, Chris Best & Jairaj, Substack): “…as we face growing pressure to censor content published on Substack that to some seems dubious or objectionable, our answer remains the same: we make decisions based on principles not PR, we will defend free expression, and we will stick to our hands-off approach to content moderation. While we have content guidelines that allow us to protect the platform at the extremes, we will always view censorship as a last resort, because we believe open discourse is better for writers and better for society.” Bravo to Substack.
    • The Folly of Pandemic Censorship (Matt Taibbi, Substack): “Censors have a fantasy that if they get rid of all the Berensons and Mercolas and Malones, and rein in people like Joe Rogan, that all the holdouts will suddenly rush to get vaccinated. The opposite is true. If you wipe out critics, people will immediately default to higher levels of suspicion. They will now be sure there’s something wrong with the vaccine. If you want to convince audiences, you have to allow everyone to talk, even the ones you disagree with. You have to make a better case.” Parts of this are straight fire.
    • How an Anonymous Reporting System Made Yale a COVID ‘Surveillance State’ (Aaron Sibarium, Washington Free Beacon): “At Yale, those lost social connections have killed more people than COVID-19. In September 2020, a Yale freshman told the Yale Daily News that the isolation of the pandemic had made her worried about her mental health. In March 2021, she committed suicide in her dorm. Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been no reported COVID deaths among Yale’s students, faculty, or staff.” The article describes a few absolutely bonkers encounters.
    • The NYT’s polarizing pandemic pundit (Joanne Kenen, Politico): “Other public health experts Nightlyinterviewed — some of whom are sources for New York Times health journalists or have media gigs of their own — didn’t want to be quoted, or said they were too busy taking care of patients, ciao. One well-known research scientist, who is part of this critical conversation but who admires Leonhardt overall, wouldn’t even praise him on the record.”

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.