Saturday Ramblings: September 24, 2016 – Grandpa’s Pride Edition


Look what we got this week!

A new grandson! Number 5 grandchild. Little JD broke the tie we had — 2 girl grandchildren, 2 boy grandchildren, and now boys have taken the lead, 3-2. But, God willing, there’s plenty more to come.

At any rate, we’re rambling up in northern Indiana to see the little bugger this weekend and to give our daughter and son-in-law mad love for this indescribable gift.

Thanks be to God!

• • •


Just as our family welcomes a new fellow into the human race, here’s a guy who decided to take a break from — well — from being human.

Lydia Ramsey at Business Insider reports:

When life gets unbearably stressful, most of us opt for a vacation that relieves us of the worries of day-to-day life.

Thomas Thwaites, a UK-based designer, decided to take that a step further and take a break from being a human entirely. He became a goat — or at least he tried to, through some pretty extreme measures.

And now he has an Ig Nobel Award to show for it. The Ig Nobels, not to be confused with the actual Nobel Prizes, are designed to recognize achievements and studies that “first make people laugh then make them think.” Thwaites won the biology award alongside Charles Foster, who also lived as a number of different animals.

With the help of a team of researchers and the financial support of London-based biomedical research group Wellcome Trust, Thwaites built himself a suit to achieve goat status and cross the Alps, all of which he chronicled in his book, “GoatMan: How I Took a Holiday from Being a Human.”




• • •


who-were-the-first-human-race-on-earth_cddd4840-106a-42aa-8a14-f0c216831739Meanwhile, CBS News ran a story this week about three studies of modern DNA from around the world, released Wednesday by the journal Nature, which suggests that the genetic ancestry of people living outside Africa can be traced almost completely to a single exodus of humans from that continent long ago

In addition, a tiny legacy from an earlier exit may persist in some native islanders in the southwestern Pacific Ocean.

Our species, Homo sapiens, arose about 200,000 years ago in Africa. From there, it colonized the world, and scientists are still trying to understand the timing of that expansion.

The new work takes advantage of the fact that human DNA accumulates tiny changes over time. That can be used like a clock to estimate how long ago two populations split off from each other. The approach can’t reveal every migration out of Africa, just those that left a genetic legacy that has been handed down to this day.

Scientists have long traced one such exit to a single population that left around 40,000 to 80,000 years ago, probably over time rather than all at once. But some other work has turned up potential signs of a previous migration as early as 120,000 to 130,000 years ago.

…Overall, the evidence shows that the vast majority of modern human ancestry outside of Africa comes from a single exit from Africa, said David Reich of Harvard Medical School.

• • •


welchsgrapejuiceco001Who was the worst President of the U.S. ever?

Shouldn’t it be harder to press a button like this?

Should kids be forced to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance?

How did grape juice come to be used for communion?

Why does Tony Campolo no longer want to be called an “evangelical”?

Was Elizabeth Warren’s epic excoriation of Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf overwrought?

Are we reaching the end of the trend for longer, healthier lives?

Would homeschoolers be better off attending public schools?

Isn’t this way cool?

• • •


A striking headline tops a story at the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) this week: Exodus: Why Americans are Leaving Religion—and Why They’re Unlikely to Come Back.

628x471The American religious landscape has undergone substantial changes in recent years. However, one of the most consequential shifts in American religion has been the rise of religiously unaffiliated Americans. This trend emerged in the early 1990s. In 1991, only six percent of Americans identified their religious affiliation as “none,” and that number had not moved much since the early 1970s. By the end of the 1990s, 14% of the public claimed no religious affiliation. The rate of religious change accelerated further during the late 2000s and early 2010s, reaching 20% by 2012. Today, one-quarter (25%) of Americans claim no formal religious identity, making this group the single largest “religious group” in the U.S.

…The growth of the unaffiliated has been fed by an exodus of those who grew up with a religious identity. Only nine percent of Americans report being dd in a non-religious household. And while younger adults are more likely to report growing up without a religious identity than seniors (13% vs. 4%, respectively), the vast majority of unaffiliated Americans formerly identified with a particular religion.

No religious group has benefitted more from religious switching than the unaffiliated. Nearly one in five (19%) Americans switched from their childhood religious identity to become unaffiliated as adults, and relatively few (3%) Americans who were raised unaffiliated are joining a religious tradition. This dynamic has resulted in a dramatic net gain—16 percentage points—for the religiously unaffiliated.

While non-white Protestants and non-Christian religious groups have remained fairly stable, white Protestants and Catholics have all experienced declines, with Catholics suffering the largest decline among major religious groups: a 10-percentage point loss overall. Nearly one-third (31%) of Americans report being raised in a Catholic household, but only about one in five (21%) Americans identify as Catholic currently. Thirteen percent of Americans report being former Catholics, and roughly 2% of Americans have left their religious tradition to join the Church. White evangelical Protestants and white mainline Protestants are also witnessing negative growth, but to a much more modest degree (-2 percentage points and -5 percentage points, respectively).

…The reasons Americans leave their childhood religion are varied, but a lack of belief in teaching of religion was the most commonly cited reason for disaffiliation. Among the reasons Americans identified as important motivations in leaving their childhood religion are: they stopped believing in the religion’s teachings (60%), their family was never that religious when they were growing up (32%), and their experience of negative religious teachings about or treatment of gay and lesbian people (29%).

Fascinating. As the headlines about this study highlighted this week: the main reason people are leaving religion is simply this — they don’t believe it any more.

• • •


Reports are circulating — and it remains to be seen how accurate they are — that Chaplain Mike was the actual inspiration for this article…


Mr. Autumn Man Walking Down Street With Cup Of Coffee, Wearing Sweater Over Plaid Collared Shirt

The twigs and acorns crunching pleasurably beneath his boots, Mr. Autumn Man Dennis Clemons, 32, reportedly strolled down Massachusetts Avenue on Wednesday wearing a gray sweater over a plaid collared shirt as he cradled a cup of pumpkin-spiced coffee and relished the crisp October morning.

“Nothing beats autumn in New England,” said His Excellency, the Duke of Fall, who began the day swaddled in a warm flannel blanket, gazing out the window at the golden-hued landscape, as is his custom this time of year. “Everywhere the leaves are changing and the temperature is starting to drop off. You can smell it in the air.”

“Tonight it may even dip into the 30s,” added the cozy autumnal personage, who at several points wrapped both hands around his warm container of coffee and inhaled deeply. “Perfect weather for building a fire.”

Mr. Fall, who sources speculate loves Thanksgiving, butternut squash soup, homecoming parades, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” apple-picking, and haunted hayrides, emerges reliably every year around this time in his traditional uniform, sometimes alternating his iconic sweater with a fleece vest or pullover.

The Autumnal Ambassador is also believed to be an avid consumer of seasonal produce, his home and hearth redolent of roasting Indian corn, gourds, and other root vegetables.

“I’m thinking about taking a trip to Salem with my girlfriend this weekend,” said Mr. Autumn Man, trying to decide whether to wear beige or brown corduroy pants for the excursion with his leather-gloved counterpart, Ms. Autumn Woman. “The variety of colors is incredible once you get out of the city.”

“Between the trees and the forest floor, it’s like a giant mural,” continued the veritable High Priest of the Harvest Season, adding that he would soon have to rake his driveway, an activity for which he will most certainly don a cashmere scarf.

Sources said that in addition to snuggling up on the couch sipping hot apple cider and watching Meet Me In St. Louis on DVD, Mr. Autumn Man will also spend part of the weekend meeting up with his friends, the Autumn Gang, to watch fall sports and eat fall snacks.

“Getting together with the guys for football and wings is kind of like a tradition,” said the walking, talking essence of the Northern Hemisphere’s annual tilt away from the sun. “From pretty much September onwards, no Sunday afternoon feels complete without it.”

“You’ve got to take it all in and enjoy it while you still can, though, because December will be here in the blink of an eye,” he added.

According to reports, Mr. Fall will then put on a down jacket with a fur-trimmed hood, buy a lift ticket at a local ski slope, and start getting short with people at work because the early sunset “affects his mood,” thus signaling the completion of his metamorphosis into Mr. Wintertime Asshole Man.

• • •

Have a great weekend. I have to go hug a baby.

134 thoughts on “Saturday Ramblings: September 24, 2016 – Grandpa’s Pride Edition

  1. Home schooled kids often test academically high … Though many are academically competent they tend to be social “retards”…

    You can get that way by a different route. One of the side effects (and dangers) of growing up a Kid Genius is emotional/social retardation, which can easily be made worse when you look at the kid and see only that IQ, academic test scores, and/or a giant brain in a jar. I know this because I got that side effect BAD; to this day my emotional age is somewhere around Twentysomething while my physical age is 60..


  2. I’ll never forget the pastor I heard speak – decades ago – about how Apartheid in South Africa was a political fiction because there was really no such word as “apartheid”, it was a “made up” word.

    I assume this preacher-man was speaking English?
    You know, the language which “makes up” words left and right — coined neologisms, loanwords from other languages, noun-to-verb, and all possible combinations of the above? And has been for centuries?

    Fastest-mutating language with the largest vocabulary (constantly growing) and THE most flexible. Real bitch to learn with all that vocabulary and irregular spellings…


  3. Oh, yeah.
    The Obamanation of Desolation(TM) enthroned in the White House.

    (I won’t be able to use that expression much longer, so may as well make the most of it!)


  4. Very likely. A lot of people apparently voted for Prohibition without realizing it meant *ZERO* alcohol: There was widespread assumption that wine and beer would be exempted. A classic case of missing the fine print.


  5. It’s worth reading up on the origins of the pledge. First off, it’s hilarious that some people assume Washington or Lincoln recited it: The pledge was written in 1892 and didn’t become commonplace until WWI.

    And it was written by a socialist, Francis Bellamy. And it wasn’t even originally intended by him to be U.S.-specific: His idea was that it could be a ‘template’ for a pledge of allegiance to the flag of *any* country, in this form:

    “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

    And the original form of the salute for civilians? Right hand extended upwards toward the flag. That method lasted well into the 1940s until it, um, gained other connotations:


  6. Remember: conservatives are ‘outsiders’ who are going to ‘shake up the system’. The system they control more of than at any time since 1928 and in which they are in no particular danger of losing any time soon. Congressman running unopposed for a fourth term in his basically depopulated rural district? Outsider. Megachurch pastor with three homes and a private plane? Outsider. Police chief standing behind 100 men in armor and rifles with 25 unarmed protesters in front of them? Outsider.

    How did the Empire convince so many people to become stormtroopers? Easy: They just told them they were joining the Rebel Alliance.


  7. they stopped believing in the religion’s teachings

    Not hard to do when things like YEC are taught as if you don’t believe YEC then you can’t be a Christian. So they say “oh well, I guess I’m not” and move on.


  8. My mother honestly believed that you could become an alcoholic by drinking one drink.

    The problem is that some can. For many (most?) alcoholics there is a genetic aspect. It seems to be wired into their brains.

    Says he who had a nice glass of wine with dinner last night.


  9. If you follow my ancestry on the male side we tend to spread things out. My great great grandfather was born around 1800. Most people have twice an many greats or more to get back that far. My grandfather was 40 when my father was born. My father was 39 for me. I was a young 35 when my oldest was born. And my two are in their mid twenties and likely years away from having children.

    Is there something in our genes?


  10. +1

    We could use more of Warren’s brand of righteous anger.

    A lot of average folks were victims of these execs scams, including some of their lowest paid employees. The least of these got shafted.

    I think Jesus would be just about as angry as Warren was.


  11. Temperance did come down to abstinence.

    “Lips that touch liquor will nevrr touch mine,” “Ten Nights in a Barroom,” Carry Nation smashing up liquor bottles with her hatchet or with paper-wrapped stones and all. You might like the 1st episode of Ken Burns’ docu on Prohibition quite a lot. It covers the beginnings and growth of the Temperance movement.


  12. Well, not entirely. Welch’s is a hop, skip and a jump away ftom Chataqua, NY, which started as a Methodist campground and is still a dry resort. The Welch’s pavilion holds pride of place. Must say that their red grape juice is excellent, especially as it’s fresh.

    The rest of the vineyards in that part of the country are wine-making enterprises.


  13. Yes, but I think Dana is pointing out the differences betwern the two setups. Which are vadt.

    Fwiw, there are some Lutheran parochial schools in the D.C. area (LCMS).


  14. Should kids be compelled to stand for the national anthem?

    Well, we compelled them to go to church, and today’s Ramblings show how well that’s working out. If we can’t instill religious beliefs through compulsory ritual, why should we think we’ll be any more successful at instilling patriotism through compulsory ritual?


  15. I interrupted once. We were pastorless, I was on the elder’s board, and the guest speaker kept slamming other churches.

    I eventually stood up and said. “Excuse me, but we don’t do that here. Please don’t put down other churches that are trying to serve God as best as they know how.” Didn’t feel good doing it, and got very mixed reactions, but under similar circumstances I would do it again.


  16. Thomas Bramwell Welch was indeed a Wesleyan Methodist and was an ordained clergyman at one point in his life. However, he left the ministry and became a medical doctor and then a dentist by 1856. He did not invent and patent the process for pasteurizing grape juice until 1869. So, at the time, he was not preaching, so there woudn’t have been any conflict of interest.


  17. I have heard that. My comment is basically describing the media-driven, non-reading, non-historical voter who can’t name any President before Clinton or Reagan. Just venting today I guess!


  18. Your dollar figures seem low. I would guess that if they have about twenty on a random Sunday, there are probably about fifty adult members, and they probably get seventy or eighty in the doors on Christmas Even and Easter. What this translates to in dollars depends on their affluence, but assuming a middle class membership I would expect it is well over $20K: closer to $50K. On the other hand, if they have paid clergy, even half-time, plus running the building, I would expect their expenses to be significantly over $50K per annum. And that is before the roof starts leaking. I agree it is unsustainable, absent a substantial endowment.


  19. Catholic parochial schools are an entirely different social phenomenon from the modern “Christian” school. This is slightly obscured by the superficial similarity that they are both private schools with church affiliations, but they come out of different places for different reasons, and the end effect is different. To further confuse the issue, in some parts of the country you will find old, established Lutheran schools. A reasonable person might assume they are like the modern “Christian” schools, but they actually are much more like Catholic parochial schools, but in places with different immigration patterns.


  20. Fall. Love it. I could be Mr. Fall, aside from his uniform. Mine would be different. However, here in my part of alabama, we’re still waiting on fall. As I write this, my AC is humming away, while I take a break from some outdoor work. It is currently 96deg. Please fall. Come quickly.


  21. Charles, the Pledge of Allegiance thing- yes, but that is a push from the right. Not in curriculae as far as I know.

    Extreme political correctness? Examples?


  22. I attended public school through the sixth grade. I was a socially awkward kid to begin with and a brainy and geeky kid before such things were cool, so starting at about the age of ten I began to experience severe social rejection. By halfway through the sixth grade, I realized I was looking at spending the next six years with a giant target on my back and sat down at my desk one day to write up a formal list of reasons why my parents should homeschool me. After much begging, they finally agreed.
    Was it a good decision? Academically, probably not the best. My parents aren’t fundies, but we did wind up using a fundie curriculum and I’ve spent much of my free time as an adult trying to make up deficiencies incurred by fundie history (slavery apologism!) and literature (Charles Dickens is immoral!). However, my parents have a deep appreciation for classic literature and art which they shared with me and I was always an ambitious and self-driven learner, so I had very little trouble in college and now have a perfectly satisfactory career. I am far more inclined to attribute this to my own personality and circumstances than to homeschooling.
    Socially? Being homeschooled may well have saved my life. I had only one friend for most of high school, but that beats getting bullied every day by everyone. Homeschooling allowed me to dodge the rest of my fellow teenagers until they matured enough to act like decent human beings. Once I got to college, I managed to pick up social interaction pretty quickly because I wasn’t constantly being made fun of for stupid reasons anymore. So there’s that, too.
    All of which is to say, homeschooling happened to work for me, but I am very careful about recommending it to anyone else. With the right kid and the right circumstances, it can be a very good thing, but I think the right combination is pretty rare.


  23. A pox on private Christian schools as well. The vast majority of them were founded for racist motives and do a craptastic job of teaching kids.

    I’ve been homeschooled, I’ve been private Christian schooled, and I was public schooled for one year. BY FAR the public school year was the best. And I know many, many homeschooled and private school kids, how successful or wasted their lives are, and how many well adjusted normal and successful public school Christian kids are.


  24. On the homeschooling issue, it really just depends on the parents. How are they teaching their children? All education has some indoctrination. People here have mentioned that they have seen home schooled children who are socially awkward and ignorant. Well, I’ve seen plenty of public school kids who turned out the same way, so does my anecdotal evidence prove that public schooling is horrible?
    On the pledge issue, I have no problem with the reciting of the pledge in school, though it certainly shouldn’t be forced. Many have commented how they wouldn’t say it because there really isn’t “liberty and justice for all”. And yet, reciting the pledge is one way we learn that there should be liberty and justice for all in this country. The one place I feel like the pledge is totally out of place is during a church service, but it is not a hill I’m going to die on.
    Who is the worst president? Probably the next one.


  25. Gotta save face. Maybe make a joking comment before leading the closing prayer, or saying something afterwards. But never, under any circumstances, can you interrupt the speaker, the Man of God, and correct them publicly and loudly in the moment.

    Remember, if you have a grievance, best to take it to them privately first…just to be Biblical and all.


  26. Yeah. I don’t believe it much anymore either. And with good reasons: the more you study it, the more you discover how much was made up over the centuries, often by people who didn’t believe it either.

    So why stick around? Idk.


  27. It’s because we’ve been under an oppressive regime from a foreign leader since 2008.

    Truly, we are the new Israel. And we must cast out Palestine.


  28. The executives’ defense is that they are obviously too incompetent to have had any idea what was going on.

    And they insist that they deserve to be handsomely rewarded for their incompetence (or worse).


  29. Suburban mega-church. He was a guest speaker, and knowing the pastors I have no doubt at least some of them were uncomfortable. But… Nobody said anything.


  30. BUT – Catholic schools began 150 years ago in this country, serving immigrants, who were mostly poor. They are still a huge presence in areas like Chicago’s South Side, and discrimination is very much less a factor with them. In my experience, they will go as far as they can financially to enable children to attend. Academically, they are usually ahead of public schools, probably largely because of more parental involvement.


  31. Read Jack Kerouac’s account of climbing California’s Matterhorn Peak in his novel The Dharma Bums to understand that you can’t fall off a mountain…..The goats have always known this, that’s why they’re such good climbers.


  32. Ah, homeschooling. We tinkered with that for a year and a half with one of our kids while waiting to be annexed into a town that had started its own school. All of my other kids had made or were working their way thru the county public school system, but the discipline problems had begun to mount. She wasn’t temperamentally suited for the middle school her older sister had attended three years earlier. So we homeschooled. How eye opening! In Alabama, you have to attend a school with state certified teachers, hire a certified tutor, attend a church or religious affiliated school, or homeschool under a religious exemption via a ‘cover’ school. That’s really the word in the law. Anybody can declare they are a religious ministry and start a cover school. Minimal record keeping requirements. Parents only have to report attendance and self-report grades only at the high school level. The meetings of the cover school were a sight to see. It was an Evanglical brush arbor revival at each one we went to. I refused to go after the first one. There were a few very bright kids getting personalized attention and learning, but they were few. Many were dodging the predominantly black county school system. There was a smattering of black parents and students, but not many. many of these homeschooled kids end up poorly educated and barely literate. To be fair, quite a few of our local public high schools have a similar record. Ymmv.


  33. Who Was The Worst President of the U.S. in History?….

    Obvious answer:

    Whoever isn’t “your guy” and the most recent in office.

    Yes, it IS that simple. The President most likely to run your country into the ground and eat your children. For Republicans, it’s obviously Obama. For Democrats, usually ‘Dubya or Reagan.


  34. The picture of the goat guy looks much like commercial tree planting for reforestation aside from the differences of equipment. We used caulked boots, called “corks”, to keep from falling off the side of the mountain. Is that a doobie in his mouth?


  35. I dunno, for a start look around this page for comments on the Pledge to Allegiance and on enforced extreme political correctness. Of course this is anecdotal evidence, and thus outside the realms of reality.


  36. Yes, who held the patents on pasteurizing grape juice. He was also a “No Demon Rum” preacher. If you wanted to be Godly and take Communion unfermented, you had to buy the juice from REVEREND Welch. Anyone see a Conflict of Interest here?


  37. I know two homeschoolers, both Christian, both in the second group. One was because his (civilian) job kept him uprooting and moving a lot, the other because the local public schools were among the worst in his state.

    For the “Idaho Armed Compound Crowd” homeschooler (and its enmeshment with Quiverfull, Dominionism, and Ezzo/Pearl Godly child abuse), check out Homeschoolers Anonymous sometime. “Idaho Armed Compund Attitude” has become 100% synonymous with “Christian(TM)” when it comes to homeschooling.


  38. Check out Homeschoolers Anonymous for some of the horror stories. They’ve been on top of this for a long time.


  39. It certainly is disgusting and reprehensible the way the company is laying the blame for the whole thing on low-level, low-paid employees.

    They must think they’re Megachurch Pastors or something.
    You find the exact same attitude in a LOT of Pastors (GAWD’s Elect vs the Pewpeons); just check out Wartburg Watch for some horror stories.


  40. Congrats on the new little one, Chaplain Mike!At the rate my children are going in the finding a mate category, I’ll be so old if a grandchild comes along, I won’t be able to enjoy it!


  41. Some homeschooling curricula have their share of issues. Then again, so do the curricula in plenty of public school systems. The schools in the county where I live, for example, are filled with “political correctness.” If I had children, I’m not sure I’d want them to be educated in the local schools.

    Private or Christian schools are also an option for those who can afford them, but plenty of parents can’t afford that option.


  42. Does it seem to anyone here that the Pledge is becoming more common in public or meeting situations? If so, does anyone have an idea why? Delayed reaction to 9/11? But a 15-YEAR delay?


  43. I also have the issue of the “under God” part—which god is the US under? What about those that don’t believe in a god or gods?

    The “Under God” line is an artifact of the Cold War; a contrast to the officially atheist USSR.

    Not sure when the Pledge actually got established in schools; my guess is probably during one of the World Wars.

    Anecdote: A couple months ago, one club I belong to (local chapter of IPMS/International Plastic Modelers’ Society) started doing the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of their meetings. (Giving me flashbacks to grade school…) I don’t know why; some of the guys there are retired/ex-military, but it seems to have come out of the blue.


  44. I agree that many church goers really never believed. Growing up, going to church was just something you did. It was your social structure, where you did business networking, met your neighbors. In other words, there were many benefits for you outside of simply religiosity. This is no longer the case. Church getting too entwined with politics has not helped. The past few years have proven that offering giveaways, flashy bands, and seminars on leadership & sex aren’t giving people any new and overwhelming reason to engage with churches. So, they don’t bother.


  45. Okay this is weird. I immediately recognized the church sanctuary in the picture underneath the heading “THE AMERICAN RELIGIOUS EXODUS”. My former church bought that building (located in San Francisco) back in 2011 (this picture must have been taken before that). I left in 2013.


  46. We recited the Pledge of Allegiance daily in elementary school, but in middle and high school we only did so at assemblies. One of my high school teachers wasn’t an American citizen; she stood at attention while the rest of us recited the pledge. The same was expected of any students who weren’t American citizens.


  47. I don’t know how things are where you live, but my experience here in Canada is quite different with public schools. They encourage independent thinking, respect for others’ beliefs (religious or political) etc. Which is very much the opposite of indoctrination.

    Do you have any evidence for widespread indoctrination in public schools?


  48. What you folks didn’t read the article?

    I was raised in the rural south by country Southern Baptist teetotalers who thought that one sip was one sip too many. My mother honestly believed that you could become an alcoholic by drinking one drink. The Georgia county I lived in didn’t go wet until 1972 and it was after a knock down drag out fight between the clergy and the business community. I remember a couple who were born and raised in Germany who joined the church when I was a teenager and the teetotaler point of view just flabbergasted them. (C S Lewis was reportedly mystified after he became famous and would receive these letters from his American fans excoriating him because he celebrated the pleasures of the brew among friends in some of his writings.) It’s funny how so many of our deepest held religious convictions just turn out to be cultural anomalies. Abuse is real but all use is not abuse. I think we’re reaching that same place in this country now with Pot.


  49. The picture of the church brings forth my favorite question: what’s wrong with this picture? There are roughly twenty people including staff there in a church that would comfortably hold a hundred and probably routinely had at least fifty, maybe even seventy-five, when it was built. Some ball park estimates come up with a yearly income from offerings of $20,000 and a yearly bare-bones expenditure needed to keep going of $50,000. This is a holographic view of the church at large in this country. A reasonable projection would expect it to continue dwindling.

    Solutions? The church I attended a year ago is closed and up for sale. The congregation could have chosen to continue meeting in the school or library or tavern or someone’s home, not to mention the sister church five miles away. They declined all of the above, because none of those places were “church” where their grandparents went. Before closing they ran off the Jesus-filled pastor, who had served both churches, and the overseers brought in the kind of guy you would hire to manage your shoe store if it was heading toward bankruptcy. They have new programs to increase attendance every month. We’ll see. A friend from the sister church was in the hospital recently and was visited by the new pastor, which was an ordeal, and by the old pastor, which lifted her spirit. I’m attending a meeting weekly that meets in homes and has expenses of the refreshments which are served afterward, which are met by those hosting, and no offering is taken or expected. This is a first-century solution and a twenty-first. Attendance is quite regular and looked forward to. It meets my need. I’m looking for ways to contribute more.

    Here’s a question I’m asking more and more these days. Why do I have to go to sources mostly outside the institutional church to find relevant and meaningful spiritual teaching?


  50. I had a weird experience back in 2014 at the SME (Society of Mining, Metallurgy and Engineering ) convention in Salt Lake City. Lots of other non-Americans like myself attended. And yet they started meetings with the pledge of allegiance to a flag in the corner of the room. I found that weird and somewhat creepy. A bit like the old Soviet academies….


  51. He may be trying to look like a goat, but he still looks far more like an ape to me. I don’t think the goats were fooled, even if they decided to humor him.


  52. >> Among “Christians” it is purposeful indoctrination.

    Which pretty much also sums up public compulsory education. I have no good solution for others other than to observe the rock and the hard place. My own solution involves lifelong self-education, which includes unlearning much of what I learned in school and church. If I had children, I would try to instill this in their thinking but ongoing self-education is not a very popular concept in either child or adult.


  53. I would be more inclined to go to public meetings if they did not start with the Pledge. When I have to go for some reason, my solution is to stand for the Pledge without reciting it. My standing is out of courtesy to the reciters, not out of respect for the pledge. I would offer this solution to children who are troubled by this obvious indoctrination of propaganda, while making it clear that they were not legally required to stand, and that refusing to stand may cause more problems than it solves. I would hope that I myself would go to prison before reciting this abomination.


  54. An exception to this is Roger Olson, an evangelical who w/o questions leans left politically yet who is classified as an evangelical by Patheos.

    Also, his comments about the meaning of the word “evangelical” have been interesting.

    While the meaning of words are not solely determined by their etymology, it is important to keep the etymological roots of words in mind if one is to have the best understanding of words. “Evangelical” has acquired a political meaning that is not inherent in its original meaning. This has obviously confused the overall meaning of the word.

    This debate is quite apart from the ridiculous and pseudo-intellectual disparaging of the importance of apartheid.


  55. I have sympathy for the 2nd group, Richard.

    Spot on about Xian private schools, especially in the South, being a response to integration. Evangelicalism, at least in the South, is racist to the core.


  56. Some people really are idiots. “Apartheid” as a word might be made up, but it was made up by the politicians, especilly HF Verwoerd who formalized and expanded a pre-existing (from British colonial days) system of segregation into a Nationalistic political ideology. It is derived from the Afrikaans word “apart”, meaning the same as the English word spelt the same, and the suffix “-heid” which has the same function as “-dom” in freedom.

    What kind of church was this?


  57. On a related note, look at which blogs at Patheos are classified as “Evangelical” and which are “Progressive Christian.” The Evangelical category includes a conservative Lutheran, while Fred Clark, who self-identifies as Evangelical, is placed in the Progressive Christian category. Both of these are very weird. The functional distinction seems to be that if you are Protestant and vote Republican, you are classified as Evangelical, while if you vote Democratic you are classified as Progressive.

    The problem stems from Patheos having an incoherent taxonomy, but given the classification system it has, the actual application reasonably approximates common usage. If Campolo had a blog at Patheos, it would undoubtedly be put in the Progressive category.


  58. Life spans: the Biblical three score and ten has always been “unless something else kills you first.” Back in the day, people–especially men–hit the prime stroke and/or heart attack age around fifty. Guys would simply drop in the street, and there wasn’t really anything anyone could do. If you dodged that bullet, then you would likely live that Biblical life span, give or take ten years. People living beyond that were rare outliers. For women, add ten years, keeping in mind that this was for those who survived childbirth.

    Modern medicine largely, though not entirely, gets up past that stroke/heart attack hump. Our chances of living the Biblical life span are much higher nowadays. But after that, your body parts start failing simply because they weren’t designed to last that long. Sure, you can get a new hip or knee, but your mobility will never be the same, and your enforced sedentary lifestyle will do nothing to help the overall situation. And if that doesn’t get you, eventually cancer will. Cancer, after all, is just body parts failing on the molecular level.

    It was never in the cards for 20th century medicine to greatly extend the lifespan. It was all about getting people into old age, but had only incidental things to help you once things really started breaking down. It may be that future advances will address this. There are a lot of rich old people, or rich people who expect to grow old, so this is a problem that receives a lot of funding. But I don’t expect that this affect my personal lifespan.


  59. Back in the day, before Evangelical Protestants started pushing private Christian schools and home schooling (and let us not forget that both of these were about racial integration), there were two types of home schoolers.

    One was the anti-government ideologists. These were the people prone to moving into armed compounds in Idaho. Nowadays they move into tract housing in New Hampshire. They were against public schools not necessarily because of what actually went on in them, but in principle.

    The second group was intelligentsia who found themselves in absolutely terrible school districts, with no good private school options. You might have, for example, a college professor living in a rural area with no functional schools of any sort, so Johnny would stay home and Mom, who also had an advanced degree, would teach him. A variant on this was the family who might live in a place with adequate schools for most purposes, but had nothing for Johnny, either because he had disabilities, or because he was a genius. The genius kid was a particular problem. You want the schooling for socialization skills, but he is bored out of his mind by the inadequate academics.

    I have a lot of sympathy for the second group. They are making the least bad decision under tough circumstances. Fortunately public schools are better at handling such things now, though more with disabilities than with genius. The modern Evangelical homeschooler is much more akin to the Idaho armed compound crowd.


  60. I love it! Top executives at a huge bank set up a system of incentives that encourage–nay, force—lower level employees to systematically steal from the bank’s customers. Upon getting caught, said executives blame the employees and fire them en masse. The executives’ defense is that they are obviously too incompetent to have had any idea what was going on. (Those of a certain age will recognize this as the “Sgt. Schultz” defense.) Upon be confronted with this being an obvious lie, harsh words are said. What is Fox Business’s take on all this? That people are being mean to those poor executives. They have feelings, you know!


  61. My kids’ public elementary school does the pledge.

    I find Oscar’s supposition that public schools the second most interesting part of his comment. This, however, comes out a distant second behind the suggestion that *not* doing the pledge is an example of telling kids what they are supposed to think.


  62. At the public schools I work at as a substitute, they do the pledge every single day. As a sub, I’m supposed to say it to “set a good example” according to admin. I don’t say it as I find the whole thing stinking of nationalism. I also have issues with the “liberty and justice for all” part as we don’t have that in this country yet. Once we do, perhaps I’ll say it, but until then I won’t. I also have the issue of the “under God” part—which god is the US under? What about those that don’t believe in a god or gods?

    I did get a talking to one day by admin for allowing a student to remain seated, and when other students asked me why I didn’t make him stand, I explained that legally it was his right to do so and explained that there was a Supreme Court Case etc., but admin was not happy with it as in their eyes I should force them all to participate so they can show their patriotism (eyeroll).


  63. After you hug your new grandchild (Congratulations), drive down to northern Kentucky to the Creation Museum to learn about the first humans. I assume that you will be told that the earth in only a little over 6,000 years old, so references to the origin of homo sapiens about 200,000 years ago are just plain wrong, not to mention “unbiblical” according to the views of the founder of the museum. 🙂


  64. How did grape juice come to be used for communion?

    Off the top of my head…

    I think it had much to do with the Temperance Movement of the late 1800 into the 1920’s. The TM played well with most fundamentalist groups, especially the S. Baptist and CofC. And, throw in the rabid anti-RCism of the period–“priest are all drunks, and we can’t be anything like THAT!” gives us the Zwingli-ian “symbolic” Eucharist without the spirits of alcohol or any sniff of trans/consubstantiation.


  65. It certainly is disgusting and reprehensible the way the company is laying the blame for the whole thing on low-level, low-paid employees. It’s not even credible that careful management and oversight would’ve missed so much unethical, illegal activity for so long; management must either have been involved in the activity, or incompetent.

    As to whether or not the exec should be in prison: As much as we loath greedy executives of big banks, he too is entitled to the legal presumption of innocence. The government would need to prove that he is criminally culpable, which they may or may not be able to do. At the very least, if negligence was all that was involved, it is good evidence that these super-banks are too big for responsible management, and should be broken up.


  66. Adam, I was about to type much the same as you have. My distaste of “Christian” home schooling is so intense that I had decided to not type a response on the subject until I had taken at least 100 breaths. ;o)

    Some of my personal observations;

    Among “Christians” it is purposeful indoctrination. Given that education and cultural indoctrination go hand in hand, the Xian form inculcates Separatism and Elitism both socially and religiously. It is a product of the us vs them mentality.

    Home schooled kids often test academically high–though some kids end up being stay at home ignoramuses because of the laziness or incompetence of their parents. Though many are academically competent they tend to be social “retards”; they often think they are the center of the universe and have rarely had to wait to have their questions or issues addressed. A significant portion of “going to school” is socialization.

    Too often ime, parents home school from a cultural “fear motive”–protecting Johnny and Janet from “inappropriate” “worldly” influences. Has anyone noticed the back-lash of “Quiver Full” now young adults to their parents indoctrination?

    ALL of my 5 children were educated in the public system — and they excelled and are doing just fine, thank you. A pox on Christian home schooling.


  67. > Would homeschoolers be better off attending public schools?

    Yes, no question what-so-ever. Home schooling is an injustice practiced against children.

    Again, as a once-upon-a-time college ministry leader… you could line up a group of young adults and visually identify those that were home schooled. Sure, there may be a few exceptions. But I am not even much interested in the discussion – it is a terrible very bad idea. It is primarily a way ideologically intense parents harm their children.

    Articles such as this which compare Home Schooling [a predominately middle and upper middle class indulgence] to public school which takes everyone [America is a poverty heavy nation] serves to feed the Home Schooling mythos.


  68. > Let’s face it, many never believed it.


    They even may have never even known what it was they no longer believe.

    As a once-upon-a-time leader of college ministry – I am not surprised by any of this. Good Christian children from good Christian homes who were sent to good Christian schools… and knew scandalously little about Christianity; that was the norm. The Evangelical Bubble is holding up better than the others as it is primarily a construct of social class, not religion, much more so than the other groups. Class in America is consistently generational.


  69. > Why does Tony Campolo no longer want to be called an “evangelical”?

    Because he has a real-world rational understanding of how human language and communication works!

    I’ll never forget the pastor I heard speak – decades ago – about how Apartheid in South Africa was a political fiction because there was really no such word as “apartheid”, it was a “made up” word. Not usually quite as horribly, but way too many religious people approach language this way – they demand that etymology = meaning.

    (Etymology == Meaning) -> False. You learn meaning by listening.

    The constant and wearying defenses of the term Evangelical… and the rise of The Unaffiliated surprises anyone?


  70. Out of school.

    There may well be Western countries that have similar rituals, and I would like to find out more. I suspect many countries associate such pledges with WWII-era fascism. To me, the pledge seems to be about indoctrination and blind belief, and I can’t imagine the Founders expecting school children to participate in anything like it.

    “Funny” how much wishful thinking is involved, as whe I was young, and Jim Crow, lynchings and firebombings by the Klan were very real and gave the lie to the claims of liberty and justice for all. All white folks, maybe, but not Native Americans and anyone with skin a few shades darker than the average white person’s…


  71. > Have they bowed to the angst and moralizing of their minders

    Or they just want to get on with the business of being educators.

    > anything that has been taken for granted in generations past?

    The pledge of allegiance is barely older than a generation; there are not generationS past to take for granted. It was not adopted until 1942, has been tweaked, and been a political totem during its entire existence.

    I would be totally OK with a pledge rewritten to resemble the presidential oath of office; and I would still only accept it as appropriate for adults.. The common pledge is propagandizing rubbish – it is just sweeping terms about the nation in which the citizen says nothing about themselves – a very strange construct for an oath/pledge [because it is propaganda].


  72. Why should the pledge be required of anyone? I don’t know of other Western countries that have similar rituals, in or 8ut of school. It is sbsurd, and the “with liberty and justice for all” part was and still is patently untrue, during my childhood and now.

    I quit saying the pledge on grounds of conscience when I was in 8th grade, and got in a lot of trouble for it, fomented by adults who had nothing better to do. It cost me, with my peers as well as the school administration. If I were confronted with that situation now, I’d still stick to not saying it. And even though it was very hard to get through the backlash when I was young, I’m glad I did it.


  73. If a kid is not able to think about the pledge, why the hell should they be saying it at all? It is creepy brainwashing.


  74. I suspect you are correct. There has never been an age without unbelief, and without the social and political rails to force people to stay on the Church track, they just aren’t.


  75. “As the headlines about this study highlighted this week: the main reason people are leaving religion is simply this — they don’t believe it any more.”

    Let’s face it, many never believed it. Quite a few who haven’t left don’t either, they just haven’t found a better social club yet.


  76. from Questions of the Week ……
    concerning Elizabeth Warren, I thought she was magnificently over the top ……. and it’s about time our elected officials started breathing fire on behalf of the people ……. that exec should be in PRISON


  77. Should kids be forced to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance?

    Yes, at least for the first few school years. Kids in primary school do not have the necessary mental and emotional abilities to think critically about complex issues. For this reason they should be guided into basic societal practices until which time they are able to judge them for themselves as to the truth of the practices.

    But that may be a moot point, since I do not know how many elementary schools actually recite the Pledge at ALL! Private schools may still do so, but what about public schools? Have they bowed to the angst and moralizing of their minders, leading them to ape those over wrought anxieties that the adults exhibit? Has critical thinking been short circuited for a new fundamentalism that requires distrust of anything that has been taken for granted in generations past? Are we now telling kids “This is what you are supposed to think”?

    The churches have done this for so long, but we have rebelled against orthodoxy in favor of skepticism and doubt, but in out schools we preach a NEW certainty, the certainty of the morally correct!


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