Glen Davis
Glen, an ordained Assemblies of God minister, is the adviser to Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship at Stanford University. He blogs and maintains a database of quotes.

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Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 460

Fri, Jul 5th 2024

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 460, a largely uninteresting number. It’s a multiple of 23, so I guess that’s kinda cool (for a certain definition of cool).

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Your Constitutional Right to Be a Pirate (A.J. Jacobs, The Free Press): “It may not get much publicity, but there it is, smack-dab in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution: Congress has the power to grant citizens ‘letters of marque and reprisal.’ Meaning that, with Congress’s permission, private citizens can load weapons onto their fishing boats, head out to the high seas, capture enemy vessels, and keep the booty. Back in the day, these patriotic pirates were known as ‘privateers.’ ”
  2. the Pentateuch in brief outline (Alan Jacobs, personal blog): “As Robert Alter has pointed out, the long-time obsession with sources among scholars of the Hebrew Bible — their slightly mad-eyed teasing out of the contributions of their posited authors J, E, D, and P — led them to the assumption that ‘the redactors were in the grip of a kind of manic tribal compulsion, driven again and again to include units of traditional material … for reasons they themselves could not have explained.’ Yet if that were true, why does an outline of the Pentateuch look so orderly — indeed, almost excessively so?”
  3. The Codger-in-Chief (Dan Drezner, Substack): “[We are seeing] coverage that bears more of a passing resemblance to what I saw during the Toddler-in-Chief days. In other words, there are some disturbing parallels in how Biden’s staffers are talking about him to the press when compared to Trump’s White House staffers. Furthermore, I strongly suspect the staffers now talking to the press are higher-ranking than, say, the deputy director of photography.”
    • I read a lot of post-debate articles, most of them strongly partisan one way or the other. This one summarizes a lot of threads well. The author is a political science professor at Tufts.
    • Not directly related, but also related to the upcoming presidential election — My Unsettling Interview With Steve Bannon (David Brooks, New York Times): “I should emphasize that I wasn’t trying to debate Bannon or rebut his beliefs; I wanted to understand how he sees the current moment. I wanted to understand the global populist surge from the inside.”
    • Fascinating. Unlocked.
  4. Notes From a Formerly Unpromising Young Person (Rebecca Snyder, New York Times): “My situation was this: I was finishing my sophomore year of high school and had probably attended fewer days than I’d missed. I’d failed nearly all my classes, and my transcript boasted a 0.47. (I say ‘boasted’ because you really do have to miss quite a lot of school to fail so spectacularly.) Then there were the fistfights. The weed. The acid.… [Yet] someone had taken the time to meet me, to listen and to ultimately believe I had potential. When Mr. Spencer sat in the admissions office of North Central College and said, ‘I’m going to take a chance on you, Rachel Snyder,’ those were probably the most important words of my life.”
  5. Why a New Conservative Brain Trust Is Resettling Across America (Ruth Graham, New York Times): “The idea was a ‘fraternal community,’ as one leader put it, that prioritized in-person meetings. The result was the all-male Society for American Civic Renewal, an invitation-only social organization reserved for Christians.… Members must be male, belong to a ‘Trinitarian Christian’ church, a broad category that includes Catholics and Protestants, but not members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Members must also describe themselves as ‘unhyphenated Americans,’ a reference to Theodore Roosevelt’s speech urging the full assimilation of immigrants.”
    • Both the existence of this movement and the way it is reported on are interesting. Unlocked.
  6. Loving America Means Expecting More From It (Esau McCaulley, New York Times): “Too often we worry that if we tell our children about our complex and sometimes dark history, their response will be debilitating shame. But instead of lying to our youth, we can give them a task that demands the best of them. We can call upon them to close the often-gaping chasm between our ideals and practices. This is the gift the past offers us, a chance to flee old evils and pursue new goods.”
  7. Revival and Revolution (John Fea, Commonweal): “Since Evangelicalism is an inherently populist and anti-intellectual movement, most born-again Christians do not trust academics and rely instead on such ‘experts.’ When they need to know something about science, they turn to Ken Ham, host of the popular radio show Answers in Genesis and founder of the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky. They get their psychology and social philosophy from James Dobson, the longtime culture warrior and founder of the lobbying organization Focus on the Family. Their political philosophy comes from sources like Fox News’s Sean Hannity, the Liberty University Standing for Freedom Center, or the Robertson School of Government at Pat Robertson’s Regent University. And for American history, conservative Evangelicals turn to David Barton, the founder and CEO of WallBuilders, an Evangelical organization in Aledo, Texas.”
    • The author is a history prof at Messiah University, an evangelical school.

Why Do You Send This Email?

In the time of King David, the tribe of Issachar produced shrewd warriors “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chron 12:32). In a similar way, we need to become wise people whose faith interacts with the world. I pray this email gives you greater insight, so that you may continue the tradition of Issachar.


Chi Alpha is not a partisan organization. To paraphrase another minister: we are not about the donkey’s agenda and we are not about the elephant’s agenda — we are about the Lamb’s agenda. Having said that, I read widely (in part because I believe we should aspire to pass the ideological Turing test and in part because I do not believe I can fairly say “I agree” or “I disagree” until I can say “I understand”) and may at times share articles that have a strong partisan bias simply because I find the article stimulating. The upshot: you should not assume I agree with everything an author says in an article I mention, much less things the author has said in other articles (although if I strongly disagree with something in the article I’ll usually mention it). And to the extent you can discern my opinions, please understand that they are my own and not necessarily those of Chi Alpha or any other organization I may be perceived to represent. Also, remember that I’m not reporting news — I’m giving you a selection of things I found interesting. There’s a lot happening in the world that’s not making an appearance here because I haven’t found stimulating articles written about it. If this was forwarded to you and you want to receive future emails, sign up here. You can also view the archives.

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Paula Davis
Paula, a licensed minister with the Assemblies of God, also serves with Chi Alpha.

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