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From: Brumar898/10/2010 11:27:19 AM
   of 3816
 
Are Evangelicals the New Mainline?

Monday, August 9, 2010, 9:00 AM
Joe Carter

Patheos has an excellent interview with sociologist and historian of religion Rodney Stark. As with anything from Stark, it’s difficult to choose just one section to quote. But here’s the core of his claim:

When I was very young, there was a Protestant mainline and they were the Congregationalists, the Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists, American Baptists, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and more recently the media would include the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Once in a while they would even stretch things far enough to include the Unitarians and Quakers. These were the high prestige denominations, and when people became prominent and successful they would shed their old denomination and join one of these.

Now, the belief that these are the mainline denominations simply won’t go away. Everyone keeps pretending that these are the folks that count. But the fact is: that’s ancient history.

. . . Yet one keeps hearing about the “mainline” denominations and this “periphery” called evangelicalism. Well, the periphery is now the mainline, and the mainline is the sideline.


I also decided to write [How Denominations Die: The Continuing Self-Destruction of the Protestant "Mainline] partly because of the misperception that this transformation began in the 1960s. The 1760s may be more accurate, and certainly the 1860s, but it didn’t start in the 1960s. The 1960s is just when it began to be noticed.

Exactly. No offense to my mainline friends, but I’ve never understood why they continue to be considered mainstream by the the mainstream media. The Southern Baptist Convention has as many members as all mainline denominations combined.

[ And they seem to have stalled. Though that may be due to over-counting in the past. ]

Yet the dying denominations get all the attention.

I suspect that within my lifetime the only mainline denominations that will continue to exist will be those that, as Stark notes, are led by clergy who are “generally evangelical in their convictions.”

Anyway, back to the interview. With Stark, I can’t ever stick to just one excerpt so here are a few more quotable passages:

I’ve had people tell me: “I quit that mainline church because, in the whole year, the minister didn’t say the words Jesus Christ.”

[. . .]

What if you went to a baseball game, and nobody brought a ball? The players just stir around for two hours. I don’t think you’d go back, would you? Likewise, when you go to church, but the minister doesn’t bother to hold church because he wants to talk about Medicare or something, why go back? Well, people don’t.

[. . .]

The denominational leaders would pass resolutions that “everybody in prison is a political prisoner,” for example, or that “everybody commits crimes but only the poor are sent to prison for it.” Well, I don’t know about you, but I don’t have many friends who engage in drive-by shootings and stick up liquor stores. I just don’t. (Granted, they’re a bunch of cowardly professors, but still.)

Read more . . .

Comments (9)

9 Comments
Irenaeus
August 9th, 2010 | 10:02 am The Assemblies of God has 2,899,702 members, while the Episcopal Church has 2,057,292, according to the NCC. Given our British heritage and the influence of the Episcopal Church, I find this fascinating.

[ The AoG number is probably understated. I went from Southern Baptist to nothing to Methodist to nothing to General Baptist and unaffiliated to defacto AoG (recently). And the AoG church I go to hardly ever mentions AoG or even keeps a church roll. The only people they keep track of are the little kids - they print out a little sticker and you need it to pick them up. ]

Your post deals largely with numbers, with quantity. Working as I do at an evangelical institution, I see another, qualitative, indication that evangelicals are becoming the mainline: We’re often given over to a more experiential pietism than an intellectual, cognitive-propositional orthodoxy. (This shift happened, I think, in the 70s and 80s.) And, as pietism is wont to do, evangelicalism is devolving into a sort of theological liberalism. I see my students regularly embracing ideas that are essentially classical liberal Protestant ideas. This qualitative shift should be something sociologists pay attention to…

Jane
August 9th, 2010 | 10:21 am I am Catholic but have had significant interaction with mainline Protestant institutions (mainly schools). The Episcopal church I know is barely a church anymore – it is a social institution and performance space that caters to the rich while it works very hard to become diverse, mostly by reaching out to the very poor. The school attached to it will do anything to boost its diversity numbers – as long as it keeps test scores up and donor funding flowing. The one subject everyone can discuss amicably is sports – a “safe space” where discussions of character are attached to achievement by people of all ethnic and racial backgrounds.

Mike Melendez
August 9th, 2010 | 11:50 am I wonder if “mainline” applies to any church anymore. The old mainline used to be source of the powerful in the U.S. The evangelicals are not in that position. I suggest that it is good for a religion not to be in that position. Power seems to corrupt religion disproportionately. Much better to be influential with the ideas and beliefs that form the faith.

firstthings.com

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To: Brumar89 who wrote (3786)8/10/2010 1:00:58 PM
From: Brumar89
   of 3816
 
Is Islam Really the Second-Fastest Growing Religion?
The religious makeup of the world is changing, but the media’s focus on the West is causing many to be blind to Islam’s losing of ground in the third world.
August 10, 2010 - by Ryan Mauro Share |
It’s a stated fact everywhere from the media to academia to churches: Islam is the second-fastest growing religion. It will become the biggest religion during this century. Christianity is going out of style and Islam is the new kid on the block. We hear it from those wanting to give the Muslim community a bigger voice; from those complaining about Western ignorance; from those trying to put Islam on the same plane as Christianity and Judaism; and even in churches decrying the lack of evangelical fervor among the congregation.

But is it really true?

It’s true that Islam (as well as atheism and universalism) is growing in the West, mostly because of high birth rates among Muslims and immigration, but the exploding growth of evangelical Christianity around the world through conversion is unreported. The analysis is distorted because of the lack of reporting from places like Africa, where nearly half of the population is estimated to be Christian. In other places like China, news of such trends is suppressed, leaving few to know that some estimates put the Christian population there at up to 111 million. There may be more members in the underground evangelical movement there than in the 75-million strong Chinese Communist Party. It’s been reported that 10,000 Chinese convert to Christianity per day. That number may be a stretch, but if current trends hold, predictions that China will become the country with the largest number of Christians by the middle of the century could come true.

The image in one’s mind of a Christian is usually of an American or European. The decline of Christianity in the West gives the impression that the religion is collapsing when it is really transforming. In Dinesh D’Souza’s What’s So Great About Christianity, he writes that in 1900, over 80 percent of Christians lived in Europe and the U.S. Now, two out of three evangelicals live in Asia, Africa, and South America. South Korea now holds the title as the second-place country in sending out missionaries, despite the fact that the number one country, the U.S., has over six times as many people.

Another fact to consider is that while the number of Christians overall is declining in the West, the number of evangelicals is rising. There are less of those “Sunday Christians” who do the church routine and don’t make having a relationship with God part of their very being. They are falling away from church as it becomes more socially acceptable to do so and are turning to agnosticism, atheism, and a universalism that believes all religions are one and the same. Christianity is changing into a smaller but more devout and active force.

It is much harder to detect “Friday Muslims” in the Islamic world than it is “Sunday Christians” in the West because of the societal repercussions and the suppression of other religions. Those questioning their faith are likely to keep it private and still go to mosque even if they party on the weekends. The dismal state of the Islamic world economically and politically and the savagery of extremism is turning many Muslims away. For example, I’ve been surprised at how many Iranians I’ve communicated with are atheists or aren’t devout Muslims. There is a clandestine movement to acquire Bibles and practice Christianity in private homes, as up to 1 million are said to have turned to Christianity in the past five years.

This is a problem that raises significant concern in the Muslim world, but the West misses it. In April 2008, Andrew Walden wrote a top-notch piece here at Pajamas Media about this phenomenon. One top Islamic scholar in Libya says that 16,000 Muslims convert to Christianity every day and Walden writes that evangelist Wolfgang Simpson says that “more Muslims have come to Christ in the last two decades than in all of history.” He writes that the mufti of the Malaysian state of Perak says that about 250,000 Muslims in his country have filed to officially leave Islam, including 100,000 that have converted to Christianity. The mufti warned that this number doesn’t include those who are non-practicing Muslims.

It is undeniable that Islam is growing in the West, but there are signs that the number of Muslims that don’t diligently practice the faith is increasing just as is the case with Christianity. In February 2005, the Sunday Times wrote that “one estimate suggests that as many as 15 per cent of Muslims in Western societies have lost their faith.” A Pew poll in July 2007 found that Muslim-Americans are in third place in how many describe religion as playing a “very important” role in their lives, with 72 percent affirming the statement as compared to 79 percent of white evangelicals and 85 percent of black Protestants. Most interestingly, only 50 percent of Muslim-Americans take their holy book, the Koran, literally, whereas 66 percent of white evangelicals and 68 percent of black Protestants take the Bible literally.

The religious makeup of the world is changing, but the media’s focus on the West is causing many to be blind to Islam’s losing of ground in the third world. Adam Housley reported for FoxNews.com in January 2003 that “most experts agree Christianity does have the most believers. And recent reports estimate that by 2025, that gap will widen even further, making Christianity by far the world’s largest religion.”

The geographic distribution of Christianity, specifically of the evangelicals, is changing as it spreads more evenly throughout the world. At more evangelical-oriented churches today, funds are raised to send missionaries to places like Africa, India, and South Korea. The day may soon come when it is these places that are reaching out to the U.S. and Europe.

pajamasmedia.com

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To: Brumar89 who wrote (3786)8/10/2010 5:52:38 PM
From: Oeconomicus
   of 3816
 
"The Southern Baptist Convention has as many members as all mainline denominations combined."

Well ... according to the National Council of Churches USA, while the "mainline" churches are losing members (as did the So Baptists in 2010), United Methodist, Episcopal, Presbyterian, Evangelical Lutheran, United Church of Christ, AME, AMEZion, American Baptist, and Christian Churches/Churches of Christ churches total over 26 million members. Baptists count 16.3 million members as of this year.

I'm not clear, though, on what denominations count as "evangelicals". There are five other flavors of Baptist among the top 25 denominations in addition to the two above. Where do they fall? And where do you put Jehovah’s Witnesses? They're growing faster than anyone lately (though still only 23rd).

BTW, for those like Mr. Carter who are keeping score, the fastest growing churches (among the top 25 Christian denominations, besides Jehovah’s Witnesses) are currently the Catholics (who massively outnumber So. Baptists 68 to 16) and the Mormons (who rank 4th at 6 mil).

ncccusa.org

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To: Oeconomicus who wrote (3788)8/10/2010 7:30:44 PM
From: Brumar89
   of 3816
 
I haven't looked at the numbers on any of these denominations.

The Methodist, Episcopal, Presbyterian type denominations have been going downhill for decades. The So Baptists have been having churches drop out so am not surprised if they've slipped.

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To: Brumar89 who wrote (3786)8/11/2010 10:25:05 AM
From: Peter Dierks
   of 3816
 
I was a member of one of the oldest mainline churches. They tried to shed their traditions in some ways but kept them in others. In whole it is just a an empty shell of a Christian religion.

I joined a very contemporary church in the ELCA. It is vibrant and there are things going on all over.Most of them have to do with Christian education and outreach. What an alive church.

What a contrast from a dead church.

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From: Brumar898/13/2010 9:10:46 PM
   of 3816
 
"I swear, but since I am the owner of this company that is my privilege, and this privilege is not to be interpreted as the same for any employee. That differentiates me from you, and I want to keep it that way. There will be absolutely no swearing, by any employee, male or female, in this office, ever."
.........
"Do not speak to me when you see me. If I want to speak to you, I will do so. I want to save my throat. I don't want to ruin it by saying hello to all of you sons-of-bitches."

scribd.com

Those memos of Edward Mike Davis of Tiger Oil and Tiger Drilling from the late '70's make for some funny reading. In one he tells his staff, 'what differentiates you from me is I am a known son of a bitch.' Looking up the guy "Tiger" Mike Davis, one finds a weird and amazing story.

He went bankrupt in 1980 but that wasn't the end, he's a rich old man in Vegas now.
vlex.com

Backstory on Tiger Mike Davis:

Grifters, Oil Men, Tabloids, The Scrappy Ingenue, The Titans and the Hardass: An American Story
August 13, 2008 9:09 AM Subscribe

Corrupt U.S. Government officials leased the Teapot Dome oil field to one Harry F. Sinclair in 1922 in a sleazy no-bid contract.

Turn back the clock. 27 years earlier, suspected grifter Gilmer Bonfils had seized control of the Denver Post; he and his family turned it from a sleepy, staid paper into a wild, brazen broadsheet. So brazen they were shot by a furious lawyer. For an editorial page, Tammen and Bonfils substituted invective, raked up so much scandal—a good deal of it true — that they kept a loaded shotgun in their office to discourage reader complaints. As the Post grew in power and prosperity, its proprietors branched into other fields; the Post became the first and last U.S. daily ever to own a circus (Sells-Floto), run a burlesque house and sell coal."

It was this paper that, through the machinations of Sinclair's enemies, began excoriating the Teapot Dome deal under the editorial byline "So That The People May Know". Eventually, Frederick G. Bonfils rumoredly took a million dollar payoff from Sinclair as hush money.

Fast forward. The Post hired professionals and lost its edge. But then, in 1960, into Denver's mile-high sunshine stepped the fastest-growing newspaper publisher in the U.S. In one hand he carried a battered 13-year-old briefcase bulging with the blueprints of a big deal.

But Si Newhouse Sr., who was rich enough to buy Conde Nast as a surprise anniversary present for his wife the year previously, for all his business acumen and deal-making wiles, didn't expect to run into Helen Bonfils...

cogreatwomen.org

Helen, one of the daughters entrusted with the Post, reacted to Newhouse's hostile purchases by declaring "No further sales are contemplated. Not under any circumstances." And for many rollicking years, the fight continued. Eventually, outmaneuvered legally, Newhouse gave up. But the story doesn't end there.

A tall, slender, blonde with bright blue eyes and a husky voice, Helen was theatrical, energetic and a millionaire. Bejeweled and befurred, she toured the town in her Pierce Arrow with Colorado license plate No. 1. She would be accompanied by her chauffeur (more on this in a moment...), favorite poodle, and spiritual adviser, the Rev. John Anderson, who shared her interest in philanthropy. And when the Rocky Mountain News says 'theatrical', they mean it; she in her youth starred in extravagant musicals with casts of hundreds, always as the principal angel. Her hunger for the spotlight grew over the years as she acted in and produced a score of productions, and created the Helen Bonfils Theater Complex at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. She also found the time to create the Belle Bonfils Memorial Blood Bank, named after her mother -- now a fixture of the Denver healthcare system; and, having seen people faint in its stuffy basement for lack of air conditioning, to fund the completion of the Holy Ghost church -- as well as 'innumerable' other charities, including the Dumb Friends League and the Denver Zoo.

But does the story end there? No it does not. Helen, at age 69, fell in love with her chauffeur -- "Tiger" Mike Davis, a strapping young college dropout of 28. Their romance died, and a nasty divorce ensued, in which he received a large settlement. Rolling that money into oil field investments, "Tiger" Davis got rich.

In May 2008, none other than the Denver Post reported that he had gotten paid off for helping to move control of oil interests -- unlike Teapot Dome, this time legally -- by introducing an old friend, an ex-amateur boxer named "Rifle Right" Kirk Kerkorian to Delta Petroleum. Turns out having friends earned him a cool 263,158 shares, which if he still holds it is as of this writing.

But that's not the story either, dear reader -- the story is that "Tiger" Mike Davis, in between marrying the scrappiest, most extravagant and most powerful women in Denver and helping to broker a gigantic oil investment deal for one of the titans of industry, ran his own business. And he ran it real tight. And the memos of that business -- which spawned this post -- are some of the funniest interoffice memos on the planet.
metafilter.com

Davis was born in Lebanon, had no education, emigrated to the US, and drove taxis in Denver. He was originally hired by Helen Bonfils’ husband and remained her chauffeur after his death. Once he inherited part of her fortune, he invested in several drilling rigs. Later this business, known as Tiger Drilling Co., was bought out by Cleveland Cliffs, lining Davis’ pockets even further. As a newly minted “oil baron,” he proceeded to drill 49 dry holes and went broke.

Tiger Drilling Company is still in business, presumably after reorganization:
msoil.com

Also in business is Tiger Mike himself:

Edward Mike Davis LLC

730 17th Street # 450
Denver, CO 80202-3554 map
Denver, CO Metro Area
Phone:
(720) 946-6700
Website:
Information not found
Edward Mike Davis LLC is a private company categorized under Oil and Gas Exploration and Development and located in Denver, CO. Current estimates show this company has an annual revenue of $500,000 to $1 million and employs a staff of approximately 5 to 9.
manta.com

Now here he is selling oil properties in 2003 to Delta Petroleum of Denver and gettng $2M in cash, a $6M note and a million shares of Delta Petroleum.

DELTA PETROLEUM CORPORATION ACQUIRES PRODUCTION AND DRILLING PROSPECTS IN COLORADO AND WYOMING
DENVER, Colorado (September 24, 2003) -- Delta Petroleum Corporation (NASDAQ: DPTR); (FRANKFURT STOCK EXCHANGE: DPE), an independent energy exploration and development company, today announced that it has acquired production and drilling prospects in Colorado and Wyoming.
The Company has acquired, from Edward Mike Davis LLC and Edward Mike Davis (“Davis”), operations and a 90% working interest in the producing Christianson Field and two other fields. The acquisition includes approximately 100,000 acres of prospect leases in Washington County, Colorado, and approximately 20,000 acres of prospect leases in Laramie County, Wyoming. The fields are currently producing approximately 500 barrels of oil per day net to Delta.
The consideration paid by Delta totaled $8 million and 1,000,000 shares of the Company’s common stock. Closing occurred on September 19, 2003, at which time Delta paid $2 million in cash and executed a short-term promissory note for $6 million that is due and payable on October 3, 2003. ........
deltapetro.com

Late on he sold a drilling company to Delta Petroleum too:

Delta recently purchased all of Edward Mike Davis' ("Davis") ownership in Big Dog Drilling Co., LLC's Rig #2 and Rig #3 in exchange for 100,000 shares of Delta's common stock and Delta's interest in Shark Trucking Co., LLC. Delta has agreed to contribute both of these rigs to DHS in exchange for its 90% ownership interest.
In addition, DHS has agreed to acquire Big Dog Drilling Co., LLC's Rig #1 from Davis and three other rigs with depth ratings of 12,500 feet to 18,000 feet. These acquisitions are anticipated to expand DHS' fleet to six working rigs by approximately June 15, 2005.
......
deltapetro.investorroom.com

Then 2 years ago, Tiger Mike arranges for his buddy from 60 years back when neither man was rich, Kirk Kerkorian, to buy into Delta Petroleum:

DELTA PETROLEUM CORPORATION ANNOUNCES CLOSE OF
STRATEGIC INVESTMENT BY TRACINDA
DENVER, Colorado (February 20, 2008) — Delta Petroleum Corporation (NASDAQ Global Market: DPTR), an independent oil and gas company (“Delta” or the “Company”), today announced the close of the previously approved strategic investment by the Tracinda Corporation (“Tracinda”). As agreed, Tracinda invested $684 million to acquire 36 million shares of Delta’s common stock from the company, or the equivalent of $19 per share.
...........
Delta would like to further express its appreciation to Edward “Tiger” Mike Davis for his participation and introduction between the Company and Mr. Kerkorian.
...
secinfo.com

..........
Edward "Tiger" Mike Davis, who has been friends with Kerkorian for the past 60 years, introduced the two businessmen and suggested that Tracinda take a look at the energy company. Davis was familiar with Delta's assets and strategy because about five years ago. Delta acquired some property from Davis.
........
allbusiness.com

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To: Brumar89 who wrote (3791)8/13/2010 10:45:31 PM
From: Brumar89
   of 3816
 
More on the Tiger Mike character:

.....
The stories of Tiger Mike resonate in Houston oil and gas circles to this day. At one point, Tiger Mike was allegedly carrying on a torrid affair with one of the McGuire sisters (a popular singing group from the 1960's) at the same time as Ms McGuire was the mistress of Sam Giancana, the notorious Chicago Mafia boss. No one was ever quite sure whether Tiger Mike had Sam's consent to that arrangement.

Another time, during a particularly difficult work-out negotiations over a botched drilling project, Tiger Mike waltzed into a conference room filled with creditors and their lawyers in his trademark one-piece khaki polyester leisure suit with white shoes and belt. He proceeded to throw his briefcase on the conference room table, grabbed a 45 caliber pistol out of the briefcase and slammed it on the table to the astonishment of everyone in the room.

"Now," exclaimed Tiger Mike. "It's time to deal!"
.....
blog.kir.com

-----------------------------------------------

Funny, my boss's boss might have heard that story as he pulled the same trick - pulled out a 45 and laid it on the table just to get everyone's attention at the start of a meeting back in the '70's. I regretted I hadn't been there - it would have been a blast to take a restroom break, call the police and report a crazy looking (and he was crazy looking) man with a gun at the location and give his description. Would have pleased me to see him confronted by the police but would have been tough to keep a straight face.

Times have changed.

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From: Brumar898/15/2010 7:21:45 PM
   of 3816
 
.New study shows how fathers reduce stress in children

Story from ultra-left-wing CNN. (H/T ECM)

Excerpt:

A new study presented at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association reveals that men who had positive relationships with their fathers are better equipped to deal with the stress of everyday life than men who did not remember their dads fondly.

“A big take-home message is that if there is a father present in a child’s life, he needs to know how important it is to be involved,” said Melanie Mallers of California State University, Fullerton.

Researchers interviewed 912 men and women during an eight-day period about their psychological and emotional state that day. Participants also had to answer questions about their relationships with their mothers and fathers growing up, and how much attention their parents gave them.

The major finding of the study is that men who said they had bad relationships with their fathers in childhood were more likely to be distressed by the stressful incidents of daily life.

If we as a society would like to have men who are able to love and support families, then we need to vote for policies that keep fathers in the home. We can’t just do whatever makes us feel good and impose anti-father ideologies like feminism and then expect men to just keep doing what they normally do. Men respond to these changes in , and the answer is not to blame them. If we want men to get married and become fathers, then we need to understand what men are like, and to have policies that help them. Policies like all-male schools, male teachers, abolition of welfare for single mothers, abolition of Title IX, abolition of no-fault divorce, etc.

winteryknight.wordpress.com

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From: Brumar898/15/2010 8:30:10 PM
   of 3816
 
Tom Sawyer and today's children: Same behavior, different treatment

By Anne Applebaum
Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Everyone remembers the whitewashing scene in "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer." But how many recall the scene that precedes it? Having escaped from Aunt Polly, Tom is "playing hooky" and teaching himself to whistle when he spies a "newcomer" in his village -- a newcomer with "a citified air." Their conversation unfolds like this:

"I can lick you!"

"I'd like to see you try it."

"Well, I can do it."

"No you can't, either."

After that, the encounter deteriorates further ("Can! Can't!") until finally the two boys are wrestling in the dirt. Tom wins the battle -- the citified newcomer is made to shout "Nuff!" -- but returns home late and is thus commanded to whitewash the famous fence.

After this incident, the reader's sympathies are meant to lie with Tom. But try, if you can, to strip away the haze of nostalgia and sentiment through which we generally perceive Mark Twain's world, and imagine how a boy like Tom Sawyer would be regarded today. As far as I can tell, that fight is not just "inappropriate behavior," to use current playground terminology, but is also one of the many symptoms of "oppositional defiant disorder" (ODD), a condition that Tom manifests throughout the book.

And Tom is not merely ODD: He clearly has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as well, judging by his inability to concentrate in school. "The harder Tom tried to fasten his mind on his book, the more his mind wandered," Twain writes at one point. Unable to focus ("Tom's heart ached to be free") he starts playing with a tick. This behavior is part of a regular pattern: A few days earlier in church (where he had to sit "as far away from the open window and the seductive outside summer scenes as possible"), Tom had been unable to pay attention to the sermon and played with a pinch bug instead.

In fact, Tom manifests many disturbing behaviors. He blames his half-brother for his poor decisions, demonstrating an inability to take responsibility for his actions. He provokes his peers, often using aggression. He deliberately ignores rules and demonstrates defiance toward adults. He is frequently dishonest, at one point even pretending to be dead. Worst of all, he skips school -- behavior that might, in time, lead him to be diagnosed with conduct disorder (CD), from which his friend Huck Finn clearly suffers.

I am not being entirely sarcastic here: I have reread both "Tom Sawyer" and "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" several times in recent years, precisely because Twain draws such fascinating portraits of children whose behavior is familiar, even if we now describe it differently. As a mother of boys, I find this weirdly reassuring: Although ADHD and ODD are often dismissed as recently "invented" disorders, they describe personality types and traits that have always existed. A certain kind of boy has always had trouble paying attention in school. A certain kind of boy has always picked fights with friends, gone smoking in the woods and floated down the river on rafts.

In previous eras, such behavior was just as problematic for adults as it is today. Poor old Aunt Polly -- how many times does she "fall to crying and wringing her hands"? To cope with Tom, she seeks names for his disorder -- he is "full of the Old Scratch," meaning the devil -- and searches for ways to control him ("Spare the rod and spile the child," she tells herself).

But if the behavior or actions of the children and the parents are familiar, the society surrounding them is not. Tom Sawyer turns out fine in the end. In 19th-century Missouri, there were still many opportunities for impulsive kids who were bored and fidgety in school: The very qualities that made him so tiresome -- curiosity, hyperactivity, recklessness -- are precisely the ones that get him the girl, win him the treasure and make him a hero. Even Huck Finn is all right at the end of his story. Although he never learns to tolerate "sivilization," he knows he can head out to "Indian territory," to the empty West, where even the loose rules of Missouri life won't have to be followed.

Nothing like that is available to children who don't fit in today. Instead of striking out into the wilderness like Huck Finn, they get sent to psychologists and prescribed medication -- if they are lucky enough to have parents who can afford that sort of thing. Every effort will rightly be made to help them pay attention, listen to the teacher, stop picking fights in the playground. Nowadays, there aren't any other options.

washingtonpost.com

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From: Brumar898/15/2010 8:59:59 PM
   of 3816
 
Toleration of gays a product of modern medicine?

Half Sigma recently bashed the gays. And by bashing the gays, I mean noticing the negative consequences of tolerance of homosexuality, both to homosexuals and to everyone else. Half Sigma blames the AIDS plague on homosexuals. I'm sure he's right - if there were no gays, there would be very few HIV+ people, at least in the West. And if homosexuality was still suppressed as it was in the past, most gays were still in the closet, and vice cops were keeping a lid on promiscuous gay behavior, the HIV epidemic would be much less prevalent than it is now. It might even be non-existent.

You can say that the problem is gay promiscuity or unsafe gay sex rather than homosexuality per se, but the two are hard to separate. Gay men are, first and foremost, men, with promiscuous instincts, and promiscuity is what happens when a bunch of naturally promiscuous people want to fuck each other. If women had the same inclinations as men, heterosexuals would be equally promiscuous (though still not as likely to transmit HIV because vaginal sex is less likely to do that), but they don't, so they aren't.

Besides the direct tragedy of people dying AIDS, the AIDS population is a reservoir of other diseases that can affect anyone. For example, the AIDS epidemic has played a role in the reemergence of tuberculosis, which can affect people who don't show up in the HIV statistics. Treatment for HIV and related conditions has been expensive, and not all of the expenses have been borne by the direct victims - tax dollars pay for antiretrovirals too. And HIV research has sucked up many research dollars that could have been spent on other things. Chances are that other people have died because the funding for research that would have saved their lives went to HIV instead, although there's no way to know who suffered in this case.

The price of tolerating homosexuality has not been cheap.

But it has been bearable. We have been living with all of these problems, are for most of us they are fairly minor concerns. The costs have mainly accrued to the gays themselves, and they show no indication of wanting to go back into the closet. Excepting the unlucky few heterosexuals who have suffered from AIDS or related illnesses, most of us have much bigger problems than the costs of homosexuality and HIV. I'm not going to say that I'm pro gay-rights, but the issue is unimportant enough to me that this is the first time I've mentioned it on this blog.

But what if there had been a gay rights movement 100 years previously?

Here's an excerpt from a bio of a "clap doctor" who specialized in treating promiscuous gay men:

n the mid-seventies, Sonnabend's office was crowded with people suffering from syphilis and gonorrhea of the penis, the mouth, the anus. Chlamydia was also rampant in the gay community. But there was a lot more than the clap walking through Sonnabend's door. Hepatitis B was almost epidemic, and even tuberculosis was making a comeback. Oral and anal herpes were so common they barely were worth a mention to those infected. Sonnabend thought the gay population, at least the slice of it he was seeing in the Village, was clearly sicker, with stranger diseases, than the populace at large.

In the late seventies, a new wave of disease hit his community parasites. Amebiasis, giardia lamblia, shigellosis, and cryptosporidium, a parasite that usually inhabits the bowels of sheep. These enteric diseases are caused when certain organisms get into peoples, gastrointestinal tracts. How they were getting there was no mystery. The parasites are present in fecal matter. Anal intercourse increases the chances of the parasites infecting one or both sex partners. But the growing popularity of rimming, or oral-anal intercourse, in the late seventies provided an almost perfect vector for these parasites to enter parts of the body unaccustomed to their presence.

Note that this was in the seventies, before the HIV epidemic.

1970s medicine was capable of treating or at least managing most of those diseases - a course of antibiotics would take care of most STDs. Being gay or living among gays was harmful, but tolerable. But, in an earlier era, unrestricted homosexuality would have been a complete disaster. Diseases that are curable with few pills would have been fatal or very harmful. More so when you throw AIDS into the mix. Prevention would have been much more difficult because there was no such thing as latex condoms. I'm not sure if they even had anything capable of making sex safe, but if they did, I'm sure it felt like f*cking a saddlebag, so people wouldn't have used it. Fecal parasites would have made their way into the water, so everybody would have suffered from giardia and other parasites spread by rimjobs.

I quote Michael Blowhard again:

Modernism: Endless experiments based in theory and speculation, very few of which work out. Tradition: Practices based in experience that almost always succeed.

Indeed, the gay rights experiment would have blown up in the faces of our ancestors if they had tried it. The traditional position is still right, but it's not as right as it used to be. Technology has enabled us to break with tradition at a tolerable cost.

"Us" meaning first-world Westerners. In poor countries, they're no more tolerant of gays than our "benighted" ancestors. I've spoken to people from rural, third-world backgrounds who absolutely loath gays and would consider it just to kill them. In their countries, medical treatment for giardia, chlamydia, or tuberculosis is harder to come by, let alone expensive, cutting-edge antiretrovirals. If they opened up bathhouses, the results would be about the same as they would have been in 19th century America. Is it a coincidence that they both couldn't handle and don't tolerate homosexuality?
I don't know, but it's probably just as well.

thecoldequations.blogspot.com

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