Thursday, May 31, 2007

Evangelical Teens Do It Too

This is a really good article on Slate about the sexual beliefs and practices of religious people in America. It's actually the result of a book by UT Austin sociologist Mark Regnerus called Forbidden Fruit: Sex & Religion in the Lives of American Teenagers.

There are of course the depressing facts in the book, which are all-too-well-known:

Teenagers who identify as "evangelical" or "born again" are highly likely
to sound like the girl at the bar; 80 percent think sex should be saved for
marriage. But thinking is not the same as doing. Evangelical teens are actually
more likely to have lost their virginity than either mainline Protestants or
Catholics. They tend to lose their virginity at a slightly younger age—16.3,
compared with 16.7 for the other two faiths. And they are much more likely to
have had three or more sexual partners by age 17: Regnerus reports that 13.7
percent of evangelicals have, compared with 8.9 percent for mainline

The fate of the True Love Waits movement, which began with the Southern
Baptist Convention in the '90s, is a perfect example. Teenagers who signed the
abstinence pledge belong to a subgroup of highly motivated virgins. But even
they succumb. Follow-up surveys show that at best, pledges delayed premarital
sex by 18 months—a success by statistical standards but a disaster for Southern
Baptist pastors..."It just sort of happened," one girl told the researchers, in
what could be a motto for this generation of evangelical teens.

However, the sociologist is a solid researcher, and bothers to go one helpful step further by differentiating between people who are truly dedicated to their faith and those who are marginal:

Regnerus' ultimate conclusion is not all that surprising. What really matters is
not which religion teenagers identify with but how strongly they identify. After
controlling for all factors (family satisfaction, popularity, income), religion
matters much less than religiosity. Among the mass of typically promiscuous
teenagers in the book, one group stands out: the 16 percent of American teens
who describe religion as "extremely important" in their lives. When these guys
pledge, they mean it. One study found that the pledge works better if not
everyone in school takes it. The ideal conditions are a group of pledgers who
form a self-conscious minority that perceives itself as special, even embattled.

Hmm... chalk one up for Dr. Stark and Nate - looks like the "lean and mean" Church wins another one.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Big Oil defense

Who's to blame for oil prices? See a reasonable defense of Big Oil's innocence in this article by Jon Meachum. He suggests that the joke may be, in fact, on us :-p

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Class of 2007 awards

Now time for the Ray presentation of the Class of 2007 Awards that Really Matter:

Overall MVP: Nathan

Most Intelligent: Nathan

Best Humor: tie - Shoji and Abi

Commendation for Community Service: Nathan

Most Endearing: Shoji

Most Entertaining: Abi

Most Handy: Abi

Most Hospitable: Garklavs

Best Massage: Rocknage

Most Liturgical: Phil M.

Best Ordination: Fr. Phil Rogers

Hardest Music: tie - Royer and Ian

Underclassman MVP: tie between B-rock and Rivers

BBC coverage of a US 'surge' outpost

This is an excellent coverage of a US 'surge' outpost from the BBC. Balanced and sane coverage.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

You Reach, I Teach

Many years ago, playing basketball with my next door neighbor Creed, he had a favorite saying: "You reach, I teach." He was referring to my tendency to reach and try to slap his dribble away. Now he didn't always succeed in showing me up every time I tried it, but he did make a lasting impression on my defense; there is something to be said for physical and close-body defending, rather than going for the quick slap away.

Also, I've found that as I evolve academically, the same basic principle applies. Many authors are doing quite well in explaining their theory, and then suddenly they "reach." Some kind of mildly good point is suddenly extended into an immaculate meta-narrative of the entire field, and simply begs for a good drubbing. For example, the Historical Jesus people made many good contributions to biblical studies over the years, but when they tried to completely rewrite the canon of Scripture and faith itself by applying their principles in a totalizing manner, Luke Johnson had to teach. Likewise, many feminist have made good points about the disparity of sex roles in certain cultural constructs, but as they've gradually had to extend their ideas into the mainstream, some teaching has been necessary.

Such very good lessons were learned early in life, and I certainly have to include "you reach, I teach" among their number. Nice work Creed.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

BBQ in the 4 corners described

Here is a Bar-B-Que guide for all BBQ-challenged-northerners (sorry about the redundancy of that statement). Also, in addition to giving you ideas of how to BBQ right, this article might also allow for more meaningful conversations regarding what kind of BBQ we're sitting down to enjoy.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Enya pities the foo!

So I'm going out for a frosty, my choice way of breaking the thesis monotony. I'm listening to Enya. This guy pulls up next to me in the other lane at a red light: his car is massive, his shades are on, his windows are rolled down, his rap is blaring.

All I can hear is something about ho's, something else degrading about women, something angry, all along with a steady thump...thump... thu-thump-thump-thump....thump. So, I do all that is in my power.

Soon his loud music is met by a foe of equal volume. If every man, says all he can, if every man is truuuuuuuueeee! Do I believe, the sky above, is Carribbean bluuuueeeeee....AAAAAAAAAAAAAA OOOOOOOOOOO

He looks at me in disgust. I calmly return the stare with a slight left-eyebrow raise as if to say "That's right. What now dawg? Enya ownz you."

Green light.

It's the size of the fight in the dog

Give a terrier a chance and they'll be heroic. This terrier died the way all these little sparkplug dogs dream of - going toe-to-toe with two substantially larger opponents, saving five human children, and living long enough to bask in the glory of their warrior spirit before the valkyries have to take them to doggy Valhalla. This is why my family only raises terriers (and Ace).

It's all there folks, check it out.