Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 2

In the time of King David, the Bible says that 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.

To that end, I share articles/resources I have found helpful recently in thinking about broader cultural and societal issues (be sure to see the disclaimer at the bottom). I’m thinking I’ll send these roughly once a week. May these give you greater insight, so that you may continue the tradition of Issachar.

  1. From the depressing department: Hot Girls Wanted (Kenneth Morefield, Christianity Today): a sobering review of a Netflix documentary (from Sundance) about the “amateur” porn industry. Read it if you have a hard time explaining why pornography is a bad thing. Prepare to be bummed.

  2. From the faith and politics department: Is Obama Really a Christian? (David French, National Review): this is the most detailed article I have read about President Obama’s faith.

  3. From the higher education department: I’m a Liberal Professor, and My Liberal Students Terrify Me (Edward Schlosser, Vox): the article is better than you might expect from the clickbait title. It’s a critique of the current practice of identity politics at American universities by someone sympathetic to identity politics.

  4. From the learning to think clearly department: The Land of We All (Richard Mitchell, The Gift of Fire): this essay teases out the implications of this insight: “Thinking can not be done corporately. Nations and committees can’t think. That is not only because they have no brains, but because they have no selves, no centers, no souls, if you like. Millions and millions of persons may hold the same thought, or conviction or suspicion, but each and every person of those millions must hold it all alone.” Warning: the formatting is horrid. It is worth reading anyway. Either use the Readability bookmarklet, an app like Pocket, or just cut and paste it into a text document on your computer.

Disclaimer

Chi Alpha is not a partisan organization. To paraphrase another minister: we are not about the donkey’s agenda and 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 will 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.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 1

[this was an email I sent to the students in Chi Alpha @ Stanford]

In the time of King David, the Bible says that the tribe of Issachar produced shrewd warriors “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chron 12:32). That’s a worthy goal — to understand our times and know how to live wisely in them. We need to learn how our faith interacts with the world.

To that end, I’m going to try something: for the next few weeks I’ll send out three to five articles/resources I have found helpful in thinking about national, global and theological issues (be sure to see the disclaimer at the bottom). My hope is these readings nudge you into continuing the tradition of Issachar. If these emails are well-received then they may become an ongoing thing.

So here’s the first batch:

  1. The Spiritual Shape of Political Ideas (Joseph Bottum, The Weekly Standard): many modern political ideas are derived from Christian theological concepts.

  2. What ISIS Really Wants (Graeme Wood, The Atlantic): the key to understanding ISIS is understanding their faith, particularly their eschatology. A takeaway for Christians — your eschatology matters (so get it right).

  3. Evangelical Protestants Are The Biggest Winners Whenever People Change Faiths (Leah Libresco, FiveThirtyEight): this is the most interesting take I’ve seen on the Pew Forum study that filled the news recently. If current trends continue until they reach an equilibrium point, then evangelicalism will become the largest religious identity in America (followed by either the religiously unaffiliated or the Mormons depending on whether fertility is factored in).

  4. God’s Forever Family: The Jesus People Movement in America (Larry Eskridge, Oxford University Press): a scholarly history of an oft-overlooked Great Awakening — the Jesus People revival among the hippies. It is full of delightful anecdotes, including this charmer: one couple “began to talk to their friends about Jesus and even went so far as to name their dog ‘Repent’ so they could stand in the city’s parks and shout the canine’s name and their message at the top of their lungs.”  (p 148). The book is available online through Stanford’s library system — the link will take you right there.

Suggestions for a better title / articles to consider / best day to send the email on / etc. are welcome, as is feedback on the idea as a whole.

Disclaimer

Chi Alpha is not a partisan organization. To paraphrase another minister: we are not about the donkey’s agenda and are not about the elephant’s agenda — we are about the Lamb’s agenda. Having said that, I read stuff (and may therefore share stuff) from all over the ideological map. I read widely in part because I aspire to pass an ideological Turing test and more generally because I do not believe I can fairly say “I agree” or “I disagree” until I can say “I understand.” I encourage you to adopt a similar perspective.

Also, for the first few installments I’ll probably reach farther back than normal for some articles that stand out in my memory. As time goes on I imagine the links will become more and more recent.