Tuesday Highlights

Good morning.

  1. A Lenten blog fer da younger set (HT: ByzTex)
  2. Faith as hermeneutic.
  3. Roman and Orthodox on Original sin compared.
  4. 7 deadly sins … and a book. And the count was 8! Hmmph.
  5. This and that recession … a graph.
  6. State and size of same.
  7. On inerrancy.
  8. Love and fear.
  9. Failure to govern … and why.
  10. An important conservative book noted.
  11. Reading On Being Human.
  12. Some thoughts on the Super Bowl. My view of the Super Bowl is still partially transfixed with the vision of the scrum after the on-side kick. That many guys who are that strong all fighting that hard for one ball. It’s hard to imagine what that was like I think.

35 Responses to Tuesday Highlights

  1. An important conservative book noted.

    From an organization that refuses to allow gays and atheists with logic such as this:

    “The Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God.”

    and

    “”Boy Scouts of America believes that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the obligations in the Scout Oath and Scout Law to be morally straight and clean in thought, word, and deed.”

    Sadly it’s all too emblematic of the conservative movement. Morally repugnant.

  2. …and that’s without even getting into the dubious idea of “manliness” — the idea that there is one right way to be a man.

  3. JA,
    Those are quotes from the book? Oh, wait … never mind.

    Do you get your notions of the BSA from some liberal brain dump/download?

  4. The quotes are from the Boy Scouts’ bylaws… is that what you consider a liberal brain dump/download?

  5. Don’t get me wrong, I think the Scouts can be helpful and good for children. It’s just unfortunate that they feel the need to spread their bigotry against atheists and homosexuals both by example (not allowing them) and by instruction (saying atheists can’t be “the best kind of citizen” and that homosexuals can’t be “morally straight and clean.”)

    By their logic, Pat Tillman (an atheist) was not “the best kind of citizen” and Mary Cheney and many others are not “morally straight and clean.” Well fuck you, Boy Scouts.

  6. Yea I’m kind of skeptical of the Boy Scouts too. Not so much because they take a stance against atheism and homosexuality but because their stance seems exclusionary rather than inclusionary. What do I mean by that. Well take the Catholic Church. Basically the Catholic Church has a set of religious beliefs that excludes something like 90% of other faiths. In other words, you can’t be both Jewish and Catholic. So the Catholic Church isn’t about excluding Jews but about including those who hold the particular set of beliefs that make up the core doctrines of the Catholic faith.

    The Boy Scouts, though, claim to be non-denominational. They want to include not only Jews and Christians but Muslims, Hindus and more. In other words, just about any ‘spiritual belief’ is enough to meet their requirements. But the only real exception to this is banning homosexuality which isn’t even an exclusively Christian idea since there are Christian denominations that accept homosexuality. To me it seems like instead of saying “we have very particular beliefs in this club” they are saying “we have very vague beliefs in this club but we will go out of our way to exclulde a very specific kind of human person”.

  7. Boonton and JA,
    Uhm, I’m going to take a wild stab in the dark here, I’m guessing neither of you were scouts in your younger days. I was a scout in the early 70s (~72-76ish). Oddly enough we didn’t read “by-laws.” You may find it unusual as well that religion and matters concerning sexual orientation, well, rarely came up. Oh, wait they didn’t come up at all.

    The bigger deal in the 70s was that some conservative Christian groups didn’t like the references at the closing “the ‘great scoutmaster’ of all great scouts be with us until we meet again,” which they took as an unauthorised reference to God. My question about being sensitive to things like that, is how dumb and naive do you really think 11-15 year old kids are?

    Scouting was mostly about learning to organize, take responsibilities to plan and execute things like hiking, camping, canoe expeditions, rope bridges and so on, e.g., bring the right equipment, organize food and cooking (and cleaning) and working in a team. Merit badges were an additional opportunity to explore unusual career possibilities and suchlike.

    The point is, it wasn’t quasi-religious nor it “denominational”. Your thinking that it is about “exclusion”, “particular beliefs” and so on … mostly is about outsiders not having a clue about what scouting is about.

    Boonton,

    Palin – This is the style I use when I speak extemporaneously and when I used to be in high school debate I used a short outline type style to prepare my speeches. This is more of a glass house type thing. If you’re going to mock someone for using a teleprompter then don’t use one yourself. If you use crib notes use them for something that might be hard to remember or perhaps some rhetorical sequence you want to hit. Palin’s crib notes are kind of like a quarterback who needs to keep what team he is playing for written on his hand.

    Well, I looked around, and found this. It seems the notes are morel like the ones you used not the ones you are accusing her of using, i.e., topics to touch on. That must be embarrassing for you, eh?

    JA,
    No the liberal braindump/brainwash was your preconceived notions of what the BSA is like.

  8. Uhm, I’m going to take a wild stab in the dark here, I’m guessing neither of you were scouts in your younger days. I was a scout in the early 70s (~72-76ish). Oddly enough we didn’t read “by-laws.” You may find it unusual as well that religion and matters concerning sexual orientation, well, rarely came up. Oh, wait they didn’t come up at all.

    That’s because all the gays and atheists were closeted back then. And they were closeted because most organizations would have excluded them if they came out.

    I’m glad to hear it “never came up” for you white Christians, though. It’s so… uncomfortable when you have to talk about the rules that keep out everybody who doesn’t fit your white bread mold.

  9. And w/r/t atheists, did you not have the oath back then?

  10. JA,
    Actually “gays and atheist” kids would not be excluded. If I recall, the point was that one cannot be an adult scout leader and be openly gay. Any exclusion of gays is cultural, that being the culture of 11-14 y/o boys being boys.

    And yes, we did have the oath, but “duty to God and country” can be interpreted hermeneutically in a number of different ways not all of which depend on a literal belief in a deity … and I’m guessing you knew that.

  11. Actually “gays and atheist” kids would not be excluded. I

    This is not true. From the Boy Scouts’ website:

    Because of Scouting’s methods and beliefs, Scouting does not accept atheists and agnostics as members or adult volunteer leaders.

    Emphasis mine. Spin that one.

    And yes, we did have the oath, but “duty to God and country” can be interpreted hermeneutically in a number of different ways not all of which depend on a literal belief in a deity … and I’m guessing you knew that.

    There you go again using a six (!) syllable word to obfuscate the fact that you mean LYING. Atheists in my experience are too honest to “interpret” (whether you call it hermeneutically or ontologically or parametaphysically or superfragicaligiously or whatever) a “duty to God” in a way that can be reconciled with not believing in God. You have to be religious to get in the habit of such apologetics.

  12. Gays also were not allowed as members prior to 2004. They CONTINUE to not be allowed as members unless they stay in the closet.

    Pure, unadulterated bigotry. Against children.

  13. Any exclusion of gays is cultural, that being the culture of 11-14 y/o boys being boys.

    …and the “conservative” adults in their lives encouraging it by, for example, forbidding gays from being scout leaders and by insisting that gay people cannot be moral.

  14. I was a scout in the early 70s (~72-76ish). Oddly enough we didn’t read “by-laws.” You may find it unusual as well that religion and matters concerning sexual orientation, well, rarely came up. Oh, wait they didn’t come up at all.

    Actually I was a scout in the mid 80′s. Like you I didn’t read the by-laws or think much about them. Unlike you I think that’s because I was only in scouting for a few years and treated it in a childlike manner (it was a fun thing to do), not because they are unimportant. These are not only the by-laws scouts have adopted for themselves but have insisted on maintaining in the face of harsh criticism. Why do you not respect the organizations right to tell us these are things it considers very important?

    The point is, it wasn’t quasi-religious nor it “denominational”. Your thinking that it is about “exclusion”, “particular beliefs” and so on … mostly is about outsiders not having a clue about what scouting is about.

    Actually this is the problem. Scouts imply they are about everyone but are really exclusionary. I think its cruel to put all these fun things out in front of a kid and then yank them back because, guess what, they suddenly say they really are a secular organization after all!

    that being the culture of 11-14 y/o boys being boys

    You seem very self centered. OK, you weren’t coming out as a gay or atheist kid and neither were your friends therefore the Scouts can’t discriminate against them! You sound like the old white guy who can’t believe his country club could be discriminatory because they always treated him with the utmost respect!

    Anyway you are aware I hope that scouting continues past 11-14. I hope you realize that just because you and most of us dropped it past the boy scouts level that it does actually have some existence larger than our own?

    Palin:
    Well, I looked around, and found this. It seems the notes are morel like the ones you used not the ones you are accusing her of using, i.e., topics to touch on. That must be embarrassing for you, eh?

    Actually no “Energy, tax, budget cut, lift American spirits” I could remember without crib notes if I had to spend an hour giving a Palin speech. On oil drilling Palin’s been hitting energy for years now. Budgets and taxes are pretty muc cliches for Republicans. Lift American Spirits? Sorry Obama doesn’t need the teleprompter to remind him to say ‘hope and change’. Palin’s tossing stones in a glass house and the foreclosure note is past due.

  15. I do agree though that the Scouting book is essentially a conservative one for the reasons the article talks about and not because of their policies against gays and athiests. It’s kind of a shame that given a choice between promoting their positive values and preserving bias against gays conservatives always seem to opt for the latter.

  16. JA,

    …and the “conservative” adults in their lives encouraging it by, for example, forbidding gays from being scout leaders and by insisting that gay people cannot be moral.

    Huh? Scouting isn’t about sex or gender. It’s orthogonal to all that discussion. This insistence that it is very weird.

    Boonton,

    Like you I didn’t read the by-laws or think much about them. Unlike you I think that’s because I was only in scouting for a few years and treated it in a childlike manner (it was a fun thing to do), not because they are unimportant.

    Because I don’t think they are important to Scouting.

    And yes, Scouting continues past 14/15 … you can remain a Scout until you are 18 … and after that as a parent be a scout leader. Oddly enough 15 -> 18 isn’t such a big difference.

    On the Palin thing, … are you being paid to tout that line of reasoning? Because it’s not working. The notion that these are not reminders of major outline headers for a prepared speech is a stretch.

  17. Huh? Scouting isn’t about sex or gender. It’s orthogonal to all that discussion. This insistence that it is very weird.

    It *should* be orthogonal to all that discussion, but it’s not, because they choose to be a part of the problem. We wouldn’t even be having this discussion if they didn’t explicitly discriminate against gays. But they do, so we are.

    You imply that 11-15 year old boys are homophobic. And of course many are. But responsible adults who are tasked with or take on the task of guiding those children should be teaching them that it’s not right to be homophobic, not codifying that bigotry into their bylaws!

    Think about the 12 or 13 year old who is starting to realize that he’s gay (or the many who know it before puberty.) You think he’s not aware that leaders aren’t allowed to be gay or that members can’t be open about it? I guarantee you, he knows. And how do you think that makes him feel?

    And can you imagine how much it would help him to have a gay role model he could look up to as a scout leader? What it could do for his life?

    And what about the straight kids? Don’t you think it would be a good experience for them to have a gay leader? To realize that gays aren’t the icky perverted demon of “conservative” fantasies but are regular human beings just like them?

    It’s just so senseless and mean, this bigotry. And it’s exactly the opposite of the lessons we should be teaching our children.

  18. Because I don’t think they are important to Scouting.

    Ok, so how did it come to be that you get to decide whats important to the Scouts whereas their own statements of what they view as important are ignored? What’s next, does JA get to declare the Trinity is unimportant to Catholicism?

  19. Boonton,
    You question, “Because I don’t think they are important to Scouting. ” Note emphasis. JA can say he doesn’t think the Trinity is important, say to modern Catholics, based for example is observation of their praxis. I don’t think gender is important to BSA based on what I saw (and see) them doing. Rhetoric vs practice.

    JA,

    It *should* be orthogonal to all that discussion, but it’s not, because they choose to be a part of the problem. We wouldn’t even be having this discussion if they didn’t explicitly discriminate against gays

    They don’t “discriminate” against gays. Women cannot be Scout leaders, why might that be? Perhaps its because putting adolescent teenagers under people in extended and lightly (non-parental) supervision by people with whom there may be sexual tension is not deemed wise or appropriate. Gay men, oddly enough (apparently this is a surprise to you), are sexually attracted to men. Hence, like women they are not appropriate as scouting leaders for much the same reason. Gay boys can be scouts. You may search Jason Kuznicki’s posts on Positive Liberty. He is gay and was a scout. The prohibition is about leaders not the kids.

    And for the umpteenth time. Scouting isn’t “about” this controversy. The size and scope and importance of this controversy looms large in the progressive vision but its neither the point or the focus.

    Contra Boonton’s assertion (“It’s kind of a shame that given a choice between promoting their positive values and preserving bias against gays conservatives always seem to opt for the latter.”) the BSA doesn’t “promote” this controversy, its forced on them by exterior people for their own agendas.

  20. They don’t “discriminate” against gays… Gay men, oddly enough (apparently this is a surprise to you), are sexually attracted to men. Hence, like women they are not appropriate as scouting leaders for much the same reason.

    Are you really this bad at logic? In the SAME PARAGRAPH you claim that (1) they don’t discriminate AND (2) they have a good reason for their discrimination.

    Gay boys can be scouts.

    Maybe, but atheist boys cannot be, unless they’re willing to lie as you suggest. Nice lesson, there.

    And for the umpteenth time. Scouting isn’t “about” this controversy. The size and scope and importance of this controversy looms large in the progressive vision but its neither the point or the focus.

    I’m not saying it’s “about” that controversy. But “that controversy” is a pretty huge stain on them and I think it’s actually emblematic of their one-size-fits-all idea of masculinity and virtue and patriotism and duty and all that.

    the BSA doesn’t “promote” this controversy, its forced on them by exterior people for their own agendas.

    WTF? Who forced them to exclude gays or atheists? They chose to do that and CONTINUE to do it in the face of said controversy.

    If I have a son some day who takes after his old man and doesn’t believe in God, the Scouts won’t have them unless he swears to uphold “his duty to God,” etc. Are you really defending that?!

  21. JA,
    They don’t discriminate because they have a good reason what they do.

    Man, there is a serious problem of communication. “unless they’re willing to lie as you suggest.” Why does the phrase “duty to God and country” imply to anything concrete about the nature of God to you? And I didn’t say lie.

    But “that controversy” is a pretty huge stain on them

    Only in certain bigoted circles.

    the Scouts won’t have them unless he swears to uphold “his duty to God,” etc. Are you really defending that?!

    Certainly. I just did. Have you ever heard of an language usage called “idiom”. Duty to God and country is an idiomatic expression. But you knew that. Alas, admitting the same is not helpful because it gives you less (or little) cause for outrage. I guess, in light of today’s link, go ahead and hate away. It helps your building community over their on the left.

  22. Why does the phrase “duty to God and country” imply to anything concrete about the nature of God to you?

    Do you never run out of weasel words? We’re not talking about “the nature of God.” We’re talking about the existence of God. If you believe God does not exist, how can you swear to uphold your duty to God without lying??

  23. JA,
    I expanded my comment. Refresh.

    Idiom.

  24. Why do you just make crap up Mark. The Scouts have openly said they reject gays because they think they are de facto immoral. Not because there might be some ‘sexual tension’ that might ruin what is otherwise healthy (such as women scout leaders….which BTW the Scouts did have when I was in them).

  25. Duty to God and country is an idiomatic expression.

    Wow you are so full of bullshit.

    Is there no statement so obviously false you won’t defend it? If someone you support said that 2+2=5, you’d be there going, “well for very large values of 2…”

  26. Only in certain bigoted circles.

    It’s bigoted to think that excluding gays and atheists is a stain on the BSA?!?! What is this, bizarro-world?

  27. Boonton,
    You had mom’s as acting scoutmaster? Huh?

    JA,
    I see you think “duty to God and country” is a theological statement and not one locating a current in normative ethics. Whatever, bizarro-world indeed.

    You notions of “multiple” expressions of manliness I think is a topic worthy of some expansion.

  28. Mark,

    You notions of “multiple” expressions of manliness I think is a topic worthy of some expansion.

    I think it gets at a fundamental difference between our worldviews. You (and conservatives in general I suspect) think of platonic ideals like “manliness” as the things that life imperfectly resembles. I think of the ideals as imperfect estimations of reality.

    Conservatives see men who like men as being flawed because they aren’t like the “ideal.” I see conservatives’ ideal of “man” as being flawed because it doesn’t include gay men.

    You see?

  29. JA,
    I think a gay man can be “manly.”

    Perhaps it’s that conservatives think their are ideal for and to which we should aspire, and progressives think that we should work at reconciling ourselves to where we are at.

    I’m not OK, you’re not OK vs I’m OK you’re OK.

    You see?

  30. Mark,

    It’s not that liberals don’t think there are ideals to strive for, just that we don’t think people need to fit into predefined boxes.

  31. JA,
    “I think of the ideals as imperfect estimations of reality.” and “It’s not that liberals don’t think there are ideals to strive for …”

    Those two statements don’t mesh well.

  32. You had mom’s as acting scoutmaster? Huh?

    Actually I think they were ‘den mothers’. When I did it there was a shortage of men who were willing to volunteer for scouting so most dens were being run by moms. We also didn’t get the full flavor of scouting. I recall a ‘hike’ that consisted of walking around the neighborhood and retreating back home when someone pointed out and old mine in the woods (the town I grew up in did mining in revolutionary times so there’s ‘holes’ in some parts of the woods you have to watch out for). I suppose you are probably right that the higher level of scout leaders were reserved for men and if I had stuck with it through my teen years I’d have a different set of experiences. But nontheless that does short circuit your ‘sexual tension’ theory. Those closest to the kids were opposite gender and presumably heterosexual.

    I see you think “duty to God and country” is a theological statement and not one locating a current in normative ethics. Whatever, bizarro-world indeed.

    I think its very frustrating that you refuse to actually listen to what BSA says while touting their virtues. They have said very forcefully they consider themselves a religious organization which is why they reject agnostic and athiest members either as children or adults. When given the opportunity, they have rejected the assertion that ‘God and country’ is just some fluffy words that don’t actually require the Scout to believe in God (or some higher supernatural power as I believe Hindus and some other Eastern religions are allowed to join BSA). LIkewise they have said very forcefully that they consider gays to be de facto immoral regardless of their actual behavior.

    You would rob them of their dignity as an independent organization by ignoring what they say are important beliefs and pretend they are just a regular secular organization that happens to have some old fashioned sayings in their by-laws that they want to preserve for historic purposes. You’re not as great a friend to BSA as you’d like to believe.

  33. Boonton,
    “Den?” That’s cub scouts. Boy Scouts starts at 11 and doesn’t have the whole “crafty/mom” aspect.

    I’ll admit I haven’t followed the recent rhetoric on BSA etc, and rely instead on my youth and the decade, my brother, myself and father’s involvement.

    I haven’t said “God and country” are “fluffy words” but can be argued is primarily an idiomatic expression which is part of a cultural heritage which has a particular normative implication toward expected behavior. “He did his duty to God and country” or “Do your duty to God and country” is not a theological statement, it is political and ethical.

  34. Cub scouts are part of BSA are they not?

    I understand what you’re saying but you’re still denying what BSA has clearly said. “Duty to God and Country” could, the way you use it, be applied to someone like JA. It cannot the way the BSA uses it. This they have gone to great lengths to make their position clear.

  35. Mark,

    Those two statements don’t mesh well.

    I’m making a distinction between moral ideals (selflessness, compassion, etc.) and Platonic ideals (manliness, femininity, etc.) Liberals believe in the former but think conservatives try to make reality conform to the map rather than vice-versa regarding the latter.

    And Boonton has a great point about your attempt to turn “duty to God” into an idiom. If that were the case, the Boy Scouts would welcome atheists as long as they were willing to take the oath. They do not.

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