Who the unchurched actually are

You want church growth?  You want to reach the unchurched?  Stop the preoccupation with middle class suburbanites and young urban professionals.  The fields that are in the greatest need of harvest are the less educated, the lower income, and the blue collar.  THAT’S the group that has stopped going to church:

If you don’t have a college degree, you’re less likely to be up early on Sunday morning, singing church hymns.

That’s the upshot of a new study that finds the decline in church attendance since the 1970s among white Americans without college degrees is twice as high as for those with college degrees.

“Our study suggests that the less-educated are dropping out of the American religious sector, similarly to the way in which they have dropped out of the American labor market,” said W. Bradford Wilcox, a professor of sociology at the University of Virginia, who was lead researcher on the project.

The research, presented this week at American Sociological Association’s annual meeting, found that 37% of moderately educated whites – those with high school degrees but lacking degrees from four-year colleges – attend religious services at least monthly, down from 50% in the 1970s.

Among college-educated whites, the dropoff was less steep, with 46% regularly attending religious services in the 2000s, compared with 51% in the ’70s.

The study focuses on white Americans because church attendance among blacks and Latinos is less divided by education and income.

Most religiously affiliated whites identify as Catholics, evangelical Protestants, mainline Protestants, Mormons or Jews.

Lower church attendance among the less-educated may stem from a disconnect between them and modern church values, the study theorizes.

Religious institutions tend to promote traditional middle-class family values like education, marriage and parenthood, but less-educated whites are less likely to get or stay married and may feel ostracized by their religious peers, the researchers said.

via Less-educated Americans are losing religion, study finds – CNN Belief Blog – CNN.com Blogs.

Why do you think these folks, who used to be avid church goers, have become alienated from churches?  What in churches today, including their church growth strategies, would turn them off?  How might they be brought back into the fold?

UPDATE:  Be sure to read the comments for some very insightful and challenging thoughts.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • fws

    I suspect it might be the dis-integration of the social structures that many just conformed to without really thinking alot about it. Mom and dad went to church, so then so do I. And with unemployment comes people moving to look for work, comes disruption of lots of other stuff, divorce, etc.

    I notice that in the midwest churches dont really evangelize their own members beyond the weekly divine service. There is nothing wrong with trying to grow a church. One of my old pastors would get information from various sources of new moves into town and make a point of visiting those people. I wish more pastors would be that proactive.

    Hospital and prison visitations are another great way to get new members. People in crisis are people who are hearing the Law screaming in their ears and are really ready to hear the Holy Gospel and the Good News that we can hide our own failed works in the Works of Another.

    Or another problem, example the WELS and the ELCA and maybe the LCMS encourage some magnet mega-style church that really just robs talent from the more traditional churches even in rural areas.

  • fws

    I suspect it might be the dis-integration of the social structures that many just conformed to without really thinking alot about it. Mom and dad went to church, so then so do I. And with unemployment comes people moving to look for work, comes disruption of lots of other stuff, divorce, etc.

    I notice that in the midwest churches dont really evangelize their own members beyond the weekly divine service. There is nothing wrong with trying to grow a church. One of my old pastors would get information from various sources of new moves into town and make a point of visiting those people. I wish more pastors would be that proactive.

    Hospital and prison visitations are another great way to get new members. People in crisis are people who are hearing the Law screaming in their ears and are really ready to hear the Holy Gospel and the Good News that we can hide our own failed works in the Works of Another.

    Or another problem, example the WELS and the ELCA and maybe the LCMS encourage some magnet mega-style church that really just robs talent from the more traditional churches even in rural areas.

  • James Sarver

    “Stop the preoccupation with middle class suburbanites and young urban professionals. The fields that are in the greatest need of harvest are the less educated and the blue collar. ”

    There is the problem and the solution. Stop chasing high end demographics. In the last quarter century the Church (at least in the U.S) has behaved as if only the young and affluent need to hear the Gospel. The pattern for mission starts in the LCMS is to identify underserved areas and then locate multiple starts in the affluent areas. Nice business model.

  • James Sarver

    “Stop the preoccupation with middle class suburbanites and young urban professionals. The fields that are in the greatest need of harvest are the less educated and the blue collar. ”

    There is the problem and the solution. Stop chasing high end demographics. In the last quarter century the Church (at least in the U.S) has behaved as if only the young and affluent need to hear the Gospel. The pattern for mission starts in the LCMS is to identify underserved areas and then locate multiple starts in the affluent areas. Nice business model.

  • Bassett Horn

    My experience is that Xenophobia runs rampant in churches. That if you are demographically different from the majority of the membership you are left out of a lot of things and basically ignored most of the time. Since the less educated and less well off are different from the majority of the folks in the churches they are alienated socially which leads to them dropping out. An effort has to be made to reach out to the people that are different socially or economically within your own congregation before reaching outside your own church.

  • Bassett Horn

    My experience is that Xenophobia runs rampant in churches. That if you are demographically different from the majority of the membership you are left out of a lot of things and basically ignored most of the time. Since the less educated and less well off are different from the majority of the folks in the churches they are alienated socially which leads to them dropping out. An effort has to be made to reach out to the people that are different socially or economically within your own congregation before reaching outside your own church.

  • Dan Kempin

    OK, so I’m normally the one to push back against the mega-church bashing, but in this particular case I’m going to be the first to pile on. I remember reading Rick Warren’s book, “the Purpose Driven Church,” some years ago, and among many theological problems (and some great insights), the thing that troubled me most was the talk of “target” members. I even remember a poster that they had made for Saddleback church that described their target prospect–young, educated, and rich, it turns out. It was followed with the briefest of explanations that all churches have to find their own targets, etc. Theirs just happened to be the young professionals. How convenient. (So I thought then and so I think now.)

    The practice among churches has seemed to follow Saddleback’s target without the diversification pastor Warren envisioned. (Who could have seen that coming?) The unifying practice of church growth seems to be, first and above all else, to find a nice location in a growing and thriving economy. You know, where the rich people are. Then build an amazing building that reflects corporate style and corporate leadership. I’m not bashing those points in particular, but again, white collar structure for a white collar demographic.

    So maybe we are losing the blue collar folks because, as a larger trend, we haven’t really been trying to get them for some time.

  • Dan Kempin

    OK, so I’m normally the one to push back against the mega-church bashing, but in this particular case I’m going to be the first to pile on. I remember reading Rick Warren’s book, “the Purpose Driven Church,” some years ago, and among many theological problems (and some great insights), the thing that troubled me most was the talk of “target” members. I even remember a poster that they had made for Saddleback church that described their target prospect–young, educated, and rich, it turns out. It was followed with the briefest of explanations that all churches have to find their own targets, etc. Theirs just happened to be the young professionals. How convenient. (So I thought then and so I think now.)

    The practice among churches has seemed to follow Saddleback’s target without the diversification pastor Warren envisioned. (Who could have seen that coming?) The unifying practice of church growth seems to be, first and above all else, to find a nice location in a growing and thriving economy. You know, where the rich people are. Then build an amazing building that reflects corporate style and corporate leadership. I’m not bashing those points in particular, but again, white collar structure for a white collar demographic.

    So maybe we are losing the blue collar folks because, as a larger trend, we haven’t really been trying to get them for some time.

  • Dan Kempin

    I see James Sarver has scooped me while I was typing my comment, so I guess I’m the “second” to pile on . . .

  • Dan Kempin

    I see James Sarver has scooped me while I was typing my comment, so I guess I’m the “second” to pile on . . .

  • SKPeterson

    I have to agree with James and Dan – the preeminence of prosperity Gospel theology is leaving the less educated behind. Our congregation is making a small and very modest step to address this by focusing on single mothers. Often less well educated, working long hours, and absolutely beat by the competing demands of work and childcare; we’re trying to provide a place where they can, quite literally, unload and relax. The next step is to convince them to come to Divine Service as both a service to them and especially to their kids. It’s not easy, but it is rewarding. Unfortunately, I think many of our modern prosperity-driven churches seek the easy way out – they have a business model and the pursue it to the exclusion of those who desperately need what the Church was commissioned to provide.

  • SKPeterson

    I have to agree with James and Dan – the preeminence of prosperity Gospel theology is leaving the less educated behind. Our congregation is making a small and very modest step to address this by focusing on single mothers. Often less well educated, working long hours, and absolutely beat by the competing demands of work and childcare; we’re trying to provide a place where they can, quite literally, unload and relax. The next step is to convince them to come to Divine Service as both a service to them and especially to their kids. It’s not easy, but it is rewarding. Unfortunately, I think many of our modern prosperity-driven churches seek the easy way out – they have a business model and the pursue it to the exclusion of those who desperately need what the Church was commissioned to provide.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “You want church growth?”

    Um, sure, it would be fine, but we don’t to have to inconvenience ourselves at all. That is why we only have on average two kids, although, the Lord would send his church a higher average number if the church members would accept them. They won’t.

    “You want to reach the unchurched?”

    Um, sure, it would be fine, especially if we don’t have to personally do it. If it will be done across town or around the world.

    “Stop the preoccupation with middle class suburbanites and young urban professionals.”

    Um, but who is going to pay the mortgage on the church when we are gone? It won’t be our kids. There aren’t enough of them and they haven’t been trained to give to the church.

    “The fields that are in the greatest need of harvest are the less educated and the blue collar.”

    Okay, now this is just nuts. You want to build the church from proles? Good luck with that. They have to work on Sundays so the rest of us can eat out and go shopping.

    Our materialistic idolatry is what stands in the way of growth.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “You want church growth?”

    Um, sure, it would be fine, but we don’t to have to inconvenience ourselves at all. That is why we only have on average two kids, although, the Lord would send his church a higher average number if the church members would accept them. They won’t.

    “You want to reach the unchurched?”

    Um, sure, it would be fine, especially if we don’t have to personally do it. If it will be done across town or around the world.

    “Stop the preoccupation with middle class suburbanites and young urban professionals.”

    Um, but who is going to pay the mortgage on the church when we are gone? It won’t be our kids. There aren’t enough of them and they haven’t been trained to give to the church.

    “The fields that are in the greatest need of harvest are the less educated and the blue collar.”

    Okay, now this is just nuts. You want to build the church from proles? Good luck with that. They have to work on Sundays so the rest of us can eat out and go shopping.

    Our materialistic idolatry is what stands in the way of growth.

  • Booklover

    The blue collar worker is very good at detecting what is REAL. He goes to church for worship and confession. He doesn’t deal with Madison Avenue techniques in his profession; why should he have to in his worship life?

    Why would a blue collar worker escape from his middle class existence on Sunday by entering just another gymnasium or auditorium to hear just another song from the radio? His worship experience used to be a more transcending one.

    Lastly, the “I’ve accepted Jesus, I have now arrived, now I need to make everyone like me” mindset of many evangelicals would turn off the average blue-collar worker. He knows what is real.

  • Booklover

    The blue collar worker is very good at detecting what is REAL. He goes to church for worship and confession. He doesn’t deal with Madison Avenue techniques in his profession; why should he have to in his worship life?

    Why would a blue collar worker escape from his middle class existence on Sunday by entering just another gymnasium or auditorium to hear just another song from the radio? His worship experience used to be a more transcending one.

    Lastly, the “I’ve accepted Jesus, I have now arrived, now I need to make everyone like me” mindset of many evangelicals would turn off the average blue-collar worker. He knows what is real.

  • Tom Hering

    Like prefers to associate with like. That’s (fallen) human nature.

    One of the class divisions in America is between those with a college degree and those without. Guess which class most pastors, and so most denominational officials, belong to. Except, perhaps, among the Pentecostals – who don’t seem to have a problem reaching the less educated. (Don’t the denominations look down their noses at Pentecostals for that very reason?) Add to this that most pastors and officials are (or hope to become) middle class, and there’s a class division there, too. Then there’s the whole “family man” thing, and churches centering everything they do on families.

    So if you’re single, lower income, and less educated …

  • Tom Hering

    Like prefers to associate with like. That’s (fallen) human nature.

    One of the class divisions in America is between those with a college degree and those without. Guess which class most pastors, and so most denominational officials, belong to. Except, perhaps, among the Pentecostals – who don’t seem to have a problem reaching the less educated. (Don’t the denominations look down their noses at Pentecostals for that very reason?) Add to this that most pastors and officials are (or hope to become) middle class, and there’s a class division there, too. Then there’s the whole “family man” thing, and churches centering everything they do on families.

    So if you’re single, lower income, and less educated …

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “So if you’re single, lower income, and less educated …”

    Well they deserve to be single because they don’t have enough money to buy all the stuff that Americans are entitled to. (Sarcasm) Marriage is for the Lake Woebegone folk. It would be ‘irresponsible’ to get married if you don’t have a degree to support a family in the style of the proverbial Jones family. It is a catch-22. Irresponsible to get married. Irresponsible not to. Too little credit given for integrity and work, and too much given for material success. Too often a community of believers has too much competition and too little cooperation. Would many really be so happy to have uneducated folks sitting next to them on Sunday? It is sad to have to ask that, but we do have to ask. I mean how many folks are going to invite their cleaning lady, or yard guy to church? It isn’t honest to say those folks wouldn’t come if the truth is that they aren’t invited.

    One other question I have is that many lower income folks may see very expensive facilities and think, “Uh, these folks are going to be hitting me up for some serious cash if I were to join, cause this is some really costly stuff.” They know what that stuff costs because they are often the installers or friends of the installers and they talk about who worked on what stuff, how much it cost, etc.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “So if you’re single, lower income, and less educated …”

    Well they deserve to be single because they don’t have enough money to buy all the stuff that Americans are entitled to. (Sarcasm) Marriage is for the Lake Woebegone folk. It would be ‘irresponsible’ to get married if you don’t have a degree to support a family in the style of the proverbial Jones family. It is a catch-22. Irresponsible to get married. Irresponsible not to. Too little credit given for integrity and work, and too much given for material success. Too often a community of believers has too much competition and too little cooperation. Would many really be so happy to have uneducated folks sitting next to them on Sunday? It is sad to have to ask that, but we do have to ask. I mean how many folks are going to invite their cleaning lady, or yard guy to church? It isn’t honest to say those folks wouldn’t come if the truth is that they aren’t invited.

    One other question I have is that many lower income folks may see very expensive facilities and think, “Uh, these folks are going to be hitting me up for some serious cash if I were to join, cause this is some really costly stuff.” They know what that stuff costs because they are often the installers or friends of the installers and they talk about who worked on what stuff, how much it cost, etc.

  • Bassett Horn

    Actually I have more education (Masters + 35 credits) then most in my congregation but am in the ranks of the chronically underemployed, (no jobs in my field, Target won’t give me the time of day) so economically I don’t keep up and because I have been in the situation that in order for us to have kids, we would have to go on the government dole, since neither of us felt it was responsible we haven’t had kids even though we wanted to. I feel like don’t get the respect that other people my age (43) do, don’t get asked to be in leadership etc. At a lot of the social events we seem to be left off to the side, because of those differences. It has been that case in every church I have ever been a member of.

  • Bassett Horn

    Actually I have more education (Masters + 35 credits) then most in my congregation but am in the ranks of the chronically underemployed, (no jobs in my field, Target won’t give me the time of day) so economically I don’t keep up and because I have been in the situation that in order for us to have kids, we would have to go on the government dole, since neither of us felt it was responsible we haven’t had kids even though we wanted to. I feel like don’t get the respect that other people my age (43) do, don’t get asked to be in leadership etc. At a lot of the social events we seem to be left off to the side, because of those differences. It has been that case in every church I have ever been a member of.

  • Tom Hering

    “One other question I have is that many lower income folks may see very expensive facilities and think, ‘Uh, these folks are going to be hitting me up for some serious cash if I were to join, cause this is some really costly stuff.’” – sg @ 10.

    Yes, and when they see how concerned a congregation is with building projects, and nice stuff for its building(s), as well as the kind of cars that fill the parking lot (maybe not expensive, but nice), they also think, “That’s not the world I live in every day. Those aren’t people who can understand my life.”

  • Tom Hering

    “One other question I have is that many lower income folks may see very expensive facilities and think, ‘Uh, these folks are going to be hitting me up for some serious cash if I were to join, cause this is some really costly stuff.’” – sg @ 10.

    Yes, and when they see how concerned a congregation is with building projects, and nice stuff for its building(s), as well as the kind of cars that fill the parking lot (maybe not expensive, but nice), they also think, “That’s not the world I live in every day. Those aren’t people who can understand my life.”

  • Tom Hering

    Bassett Horn @ 11, yes, income level is the primary class division in America.

  • Tom Hering

    Bassett Horn @ 11, yes, income level is the primary class division in America.

  • Jonathan

    Race is another huge divide among American protestants.

  • Jonathan

    Race is another huge divide among American protestants.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    One of the things that annoys me is the ethic of collect money and hire professionals for everything. My very well to do neighbors attend the not at all fancy Church of Christ in a modest neighborhood with mostly parishioners of modest means and some of less than modest means. Whenever I have been there, it has been packed. Every now and then when we invite them over, they tell us they can’t because it’s their turn to clean the church (including the bathrooms) or cut the grass at church or some such. It is an interesting contrast to our church that is almost never full, everything is professionally done and paid for. Very little volunteer work on the grounds. Right now the grass is dead due to the drought, even though the premises are occupied all week with the school staff and students. Apparently watering the few grassy areas was not directly assigned to a paid pro, so no one did it and it was out of range of the professionally installed sprinkler system. It just goes against my grain. I remember my mom making me fix a window I broke when I was like in 6th grade. I had to measure it, walk to the hardware store, get the glass and putty, walk home and chip out the broken glass and install the new pane. It taught me to just do stuff rather than hire it all done. I cut my own grass etc. So, I can appreciate lower income folks not wanting to shell out big bucks to go to a church where their money is just paid to the professionals to do stuff anyone could do.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    One of the things that annoys me is the ethic of collect money and hire professionals for everything. My very well to do neighbors attend the not at all fancy Church of Christ in a modest neighborhood with mostly parishioners of modest means and some of less than modest means. Whenever I have been there, it has been packed. Every now and then when we invite them over, they tell us they can’t because it’s their turn to clean the church (including the bathrooms) or cut the grass at church or some such. It is an interesting contrast to our church that is almost never full, everything is professionally done and paid for. Very little volunteer work on the grounds. Right now the grass is dead due to the drought, even though the premises are occupied all week with the school staff and students. Apparently watering the few grassy areas was not directly assigned to a paid pro, so no one did it and it was out of range of the professionally installed sprinkler system. It just goes against my grain. I remember my mom making me fix a window I broke when I was like in 6th grade. I had to measure it, walk to the hardware store, get the glass and putty, walk home and chip out the broken glass and install the new pane. It taught me to just do stuff rather than hire it all done. I cut my own grass etc. So, I can appreciate lower income folks not wanting to shell out big bucks to go to a church where their money is just paid to the professionals to do stuff anyone could do.

  • –helen

    Down here in Texas if the grass isn’t green, it’s because of the watering restrictions. :( (We had green grass, last year.) :)

    We have a facilities manager because we have a church and school.
    A lot of the work is done by the trustees. Some of the more economically “advantaged” people are more likely to volunteer, maybe because they can remember when they weren’t (?) or maybe because nobody can consider them “menial” for doing it. (If they are able, they clean their own houses and mow their own grass, too.)

  • –helen

    Down here in Texas if the grass isn’t green, it’s because of the watering restrictions. :( (We had green grass, last year.) :)

    We have a facilities manager because we have a church and school.
    A lot of the work is done by the trustees. Some of the more economically “advantaged” people are more likely to volunteer, maybe because they can remember when they weren’t (?) or maybe because nobody can consider them “menial” for doing it. (If they are able, they clean their own houses and mow their own grass, too.)

  • –helen

    Bassett Horn @ 11
    Have you volunteered for things? Do you attend Voters’/Adult Bible class/something else going on in your congregation? People get to know you in the smaller groups.

    Some places, yes, Mr Hering; others are more interested in what you are willing to do. Time can be worth more than money.

    I sometimes feel like an observer, but it’s when I’m being one. I have to crack my shell and do what I can to be something more.

    It’s true congregations can measure you by your address or contributions (the real “growth” goal in CG, IMHO) but not all of them do.

    BTW, women whose fathers thought a real education was “wasted on girls who would just get married anyway” have resented my degree and told me so to my face. I wasn’t meaning to come off as “better because better schooled” but they took it that way, even though they had the social standing and the money!

  • –helen

    Bassett Horn @ 11
    Have you volunteered for things? Do you attend Voters’/Adult Bible class/something else going on in your congregation? People get to know you in the smaller groups.

    Some places, yes, Mr Hering; others are more interested in what you are willing to do. Time can be worth more than money.

    I sometimes feel like an observer, but it’s when I’m being one. I have to crack my shell and do what I can to be something more.

    It’s true congregations can measure you by your address or contributions (the real “growth” goal in CG, IMHO) but not all of them do.

    BTW, women whose fathers thought a real education was “wasted on girls who would just get married anyway” have resented my degree and told me so to my face. I wasn’t meaning to come off as “better because better schooled” but they took it that way, even though they had the social standing and the money!

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “a real education was “wasted on girls who would just get married anyway”

    Depends on the degree.

    Some majors are remunerative, but the most able women academically are often the most desirable as wives to men who make enough that the wives quit. So while those guy were rude and nasty to personally attack you, the point isn’t entirely invalid. Smart women make good moms and are probably more valuable to society in that role precisely because men can’t be mothers, but can cover everything else just fine.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “a real education was “wasted on girls who would just get married anyway”

    Depends on the degree.

    Some majors are remunerative, but the most able women academically are often the most desirable as wives to men who make enough that the wives quit. So while those guy were rude and nasty to personally attack you, the point isn’t entirely invalid. Smart women make good moms and are probably more valuable to society in that role precisely because men can’t be mothers, but can cover everything else just fine.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Jon @14: Yes, indeed. The study cited in the post focused on low income whites. As I recall, from another study, low income African-Americans DO tend to go to church with great faithfulness.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Jon @14: Yes, indeed. The study cited in the post focused on low income whites. As I recall, from another study, low income African-Americans DO tend to go to church with great faithfulness.

  • Bassett Horn

    @17 Yes I do all those, voters assembly, choir, Bible study, small group, lector, volunteer at VBS, cleaning etc. And still seem to be isolated and it has never mattered what church I have been a member of, other then the degree that I am ostracized.

  • Bassett Horn

    @17 Yes I do all those, voters assembly, choir, Bible study, small group, lector, volunteer at VBS, cleaning etc. And still seem to be isolated and it has never mattered what church I have been a member of, other then the degree that I am ostracized.

  • Suzanne

    In this country, people tend to worship free market capitalism and success much more than God. Therefore, a church full of low income dysfunctional people would be considered a failure and the feeling would be that the market can and should weed it out. Only those activities that generate a profit and a successful outcome are considered worthwhile. The notion of social service seems to no longer exist. Just because a program to help the poor never becomes self-sustaining financially doesn’t mean it isn’t worthwhile. But that, too often, is the mentality.

  • Suzanne

    In this country, people tend to worship free market capitalism and success much more than God. Therefore, a church full of low income dysfunctional people would be considered a failure and the feeling would be that the market can and should weed it out. Only those activities that generate a profit and a successful outcome are considered worthwhile. The notion of social service seems to no longer exist. Just because a program to help the poor never becomes self-sustaining financially doesn’t mean it isn’t worthwhile. But that, too often, is the mentality.

  • Cincinnatus

    In my opinion, this is just an epiphenomenon of the larger moral crisis in the American working/lower classes. Church, even for those who only nominally believed, once provided a core, both moral and physical, for working class (immigrant) communities. The law, the social pressures exerted by religious ethical codes, once tempered the mores of the working classes and contributed hugely to a stable and ordered American society. No more. The working classes are increasingly infamous for their depraved morals, their serial polygamy, their broken marriages in the rare cases when marriage even happens, their chronic unemployment, their teen pregancies, their spirit of ambivalence and underachievment, their religious nonchalance. All of these troubling phenomena register at a much higher rate in the (former) working classes in America, those classes once known for their dignity, industry, and common sense morality, than in the educated upper and middle classes. “White trash” has come to be an accurate label not merely for a specific set of lower class, morally dissolute whites in states of the former Confederacy but now for essentially anyone below a given income and educational level. What happened? Did church attendance decline before morals?

    And what can we do to recover the vitiated morals of our lower classes? Is this a concern? Can evangelism bring it back?

  • Cincinnatus

    In my opinion, this is just an epiphenomenon of the larger moral crisis in the American working/lower classes. Church, even for those who only nominally believed, once provided a core, both moral and physical, for working class (immigrant) communities. The law, the social pressures exerted by religious ethical codes, once tempered the mores of the working classes and contributed hugely to a stable and ordered American society. No more. The working classes are increasingly infamous for their depraved morals, their serial polygamy, their broken marriages in the rare cases when marriage even happens, their chronic unemployment, their teen pregancies, their spirit of ambivalence and underachievment, their religious nonchalance. All of these troubling phenomena register at a much higher rate in the (former) working classes in America, those classes once known for their dignity, industry, and common sense morality, than in the educated upper and middle classes. “White trash” has come to be an accurate label not merely for a specific set of lower class, morally dissolute whites in states of the former Confederacy but now for essentially anyone below a given income and educational level. What happened? Did church attendance decline before morals?

    And what can we do to recover the vitiated morals of our lower classes? Is this a concern? Can evangelism bring it back?

  • –helen

    sg @ 18
    The one I remember (there were others who weren’t quite so blunt) was a woman who resented my Lutheran college degree because her father would only send her to secretarial school. [I daresay she married in the company she worked for, and they did well, but she would have liked her imputed "rank" and my education, too.]

    It’s a long time ago now! ;)

    Bassett Horn @ 20
    I don’t know what else you can do. I’m sorry.
    I know I’m not “in step” with my age group but perhaps I’m introverted enough so that it doesn’t often bother me.

    A good friend/teacher once told me that one or two good friends is all one can expect to have at any one time. It has worked out that way.

  • –helen

    sg @ 18
    The one I remember (there were others who weren’t quite so blunt) was a woman who resented my Lutheran college degree because her father would only send her to secretarial school. [I daresay she married in the company she worked for, and they did well, but she would have liked her imputed "rank" and my education, too.]

    It’s a long time ago now! ;)

    Bassett Horn @ 20
    I don’t know what else you can do. I’m sorry.
    I know I’m not “in step” with my age group but perhaps I’m introverted enough so that it doesn’t often bother me.

    A good friend/teacher once told me that one or two good friends is all one can expect to have at any one time. It has worked out that way.

  • Tom Hering

    Re: Cincinnatus @ 22. A rather intense example of “blame the poor” thinking.

  • Tom Hering

    Re: Cincinnatus @ 22. A rather intense example of “blame the poor” thinking.

  • Cincinnatus

    Tom@24: Where did I “blame” the poor? I didn’t impute causes–not yet. Perhaps “the system” left them behind, though I’m always suspicious of systemic explanations that remove blame to some foggy notion of elitist oppressors. Demonstrate to me that it’s true, though, if you think something similar to be the case.

    Everything I noted above, though, is fact, as simple Google searches will demonstrate. The real crisis in America’s economically lower classes isn’t an economic crisis at all but a shocking moral crisis. First Things did a wonderful piece on this question recently, but my internet connection is slow at the moment. I’ll find it when I have faster bandwidth.

    But aside from the facts of the moral crisis, I stated neither the cause nor the cure of the same. I am open to your suggestions. What is not in dispute is the crisis itself. “Rich,” educated Americans demonstrate both vastly “better” (i.e., more rigid, traditional) morals and “more” religious (and civic) participation. This hasn’t always been the case, and it is in fact counterintuitive in some ways.

  • Cincinnatus

    Tom@24: Where did I “blame” the poor? I didn’t impute causes–not yet. Perhaps “the system” left them behind, though I’m always suspicious of systemic explanations that remove blame to some foggy notion of elitist oppressors. Demonstrate to me that it’s true, though, if you think something similar to be the case.

    Everything I noted above, though, is fact, as simple Google searches will demonstrate. The real crisis in America’s economically lower classes isn’t an economic crisis at all but a shocking moral crisis. First Things did a wonderful piece on this question recently, but my internet connection is slow at the moment. I’ll find it when I have faster bandwidth.

    But aside from the facts of the moral crisis, I stated neither the cause nor the cure of the same. I am open to your suggestions. What is not in dispute is the crisis itself. “Rich,” educated Americans demonstrate both vastly “better” (i.e., more rigid, traditional) morals and “more” religious (and civic) participation. This hasn’t always been the case, and it is in fact counterintuitive in some ways.

  • –helen

    Cincinnatus @ 22
    And what can we do to recover the vitiated morals of our lower classes? Is this a concern? Can evangelism bring it back?

    Why should they behave better than Newt Gingrich, John Edwards, and numerous Hollywood stars who are continually on the front pages, and not for their good example!

    FDR had a mistress but it was an unwritten about secret just as his disability was. Now, it’s the fashion to “let it all hang out” and the poor imitate the rich… When the TVangelists have feet of clay, it sours many on religion.

    Many of our “working class” immigrants were middle class in their country of origin and took a step down because of language. My Grandfather had a Danish business degree which “didn’t count” here. But it’s true that the church was their social and religious center. Language was a bond for that.

  • –helen

    Cincinnatus @ 22
    And what can we do to recover the vitiated morals of our lower classes? Is this a concern? Can evangelism bring it back?

    Why should they behave better than Newt Gingrich, John Edwards, and numerous Hollywood stars who are continually on the front pages, and not for their good example!

    FDR had a mistress but it was an unwritten about secret just as his disability was. Now, it’s the fashion to “let it all hang out” and the poor imitate the rich… When the TVangelists have feet of clay, it sours many on religion.

    Many of our “working class” immigrants were middle class in their country of origin and took a step down because of language. My Grandfather had a Danish business degree which “didn’t count” here. But it’s true that the church was their social and religious center. Language was a bond for that.

  • Cincinnatus

    helen@26: The loose morals of a small subset of the uber-rich American aristocracy are of ancient vintage. New England elites, etc., have been canoodling with mistresses long, long before the working classes descended into mass depravity. I’m thus skeptical of the idea that the poor in America are morally lax because they’re imitating the Kardashians–though I have little doubt that the moral “flexibility” of the American media and entertainment industries has done its part to corrupt the youth and television viewers.

    But something more than that is going on. And I’m not saying that the “poor” and working classes are morally depraved because they are poor. Quite the contrary! America’s working classes, as I noted above, were once renowned for their moral rigidity and churchgoing ways. Again, what happened?

  • Cincinnatus

    helen@26: The loose morals of a small subset of the uber-rich American aristocracy are of ancient vintage. New England elites, etc., have been canoodling with mistresses long, long before the working classes descended into mass depravity. I’m thus skeptical of the idea that the poor in America are morally lax because they’re imitating the Kardashians–though I have little doubt that the moral “flexibility” of the American media and entertainment industries has done its part to corrupt the youth and television viewers.

    But something more than that is going on. And I’m not saying that the “poor” and working classes are morally depraved because they are poor. Quite the contrary! America’s working classes, as I noted above, were once renowned for their moral rigidity and churchgoing ways. Again, what happened?

  • –helen

    Good news isn’t “newsworthy”.
    How often do the tabloids write about lifetime marriages in Hollywood? There have been some.

    We are repeatedly told that “half the US marriages end in divorce”.
    That does not mean that half the couples you meet have or will split; a relative few “serial adulterers” (or “serial polygamists”) as one of my religion profs described it, run up the score, while the majority live with one spouse “till death do us part”.

    Meanwhile people read the papers and think marriage is “for life or until I want a different life.”

  • –helen

    Good news isn’t “newsworthy”.
    How often do the tabloids write about lifetime marriages in Hollywood? There have been some.

    We are repeatedly told that “half the US marriages end in divorce”.
    That does not mean that half the couples you meet have or will split; a relative few “serial adulterers” (or “serial polygamists”) as one of my religion profs described it, run up the score, while the majority live with one spouse “till death do us part”.

    Meanwhile people read the papers and think marriage is “for life or until I want a different life.”

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    @22

    Mostly agree except for teen pregnancy which is half what it was in the 50′s. Most of the women in my family history married and were moms by age 20. However in the 50′s and before, 90% of teen moms were 18 or 19 and married. So, births to married teens have dropped 90% and births to unmarried teens are about 2.5 times higher.

    Young adult married women (18-19) having babies is healthy and normal and always has been. Using contraceptives for ten years (18-28) while having multiple partners before marrying is not healthy and never will be. Obviously those aren’t the only choices. Unfortunately many parents, teachers, etc., make absolutely clear to their high school aged daughters that the latter is infinitely preferable to the former, even though it is harmful to the girls’ health and emotional well being. College or careers are absolute non negotiable requirement. Marriage and family entirely optional. Sex? Don’t ask don’t tell. That is the current message for girls these days.

    Ask yourself honestly if your church would welcome a married couple aged 19? They aren’t doing anything immoral, quite the opposite, but they lack the appearance of upward mobility.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    @22

    Mostly agree except for teen pregnancy which is half what it was in the 50′s. Most of the women in my family history married and were moms by age 20. However in the 50′s and before, 90% of teen moms were 18 or 19 and married. So, births to married teens have dropped 90% and births to unmarried teens are about 2.5 times higher.

    Young adult married women (18-19) having babies is healthy and normal and always has been. Using contraceptives for ten years (18-28) while having multiple partners before marrying is not healthy and never will be. Obviously those aren’t the only choices. Unfortunately many parents, teachers, etc., make absolutely clear to their high school aged daughters that the latter is infinitely preferable to the former, even though it is harmful to the girls’ health and emotional well being. College or careers are absolute non negotiable requirement. Marriage and family entirely optional. Sex? Don’t ask don’t tell. That is the current message for girls these days.

    Ask yourself honestly if your church would welcome a married couple aged 19? They aren’t doing anything immoral, quite the opposite, but they lack the appearance of upward mobility.

  • –helen

    Cincinnatus @ 27
    America’s working classes, as I noted above, were once renowned for their moral rigidity and churchgoing ways. Again, what happened?

    I don’t know.
    I can remember when a clergy divorce would mean an automatic removal from the roster. It doesn’t, any more. There was a reason for the strict advice in Scripture on who an Elder/Pastor should be and how he should behave.

    More recently, I was told that the shortest way out of the ministry was a declaration of bankruptcy!

  • –helen

    Cincinnatus @ 27
    America’s working classes, as I noted above, were once renowned for their moral rigidity and churchgoing ways. Again, what happened?

    I don’t know.
    I can remember when a clergy divorce would mean an automatic removal from the roster. It doesn’t, any more. There was a reason for the strict advice in Scripture on who an Elder/Pastor should be and how he should behave.

    More recently, I was told that the shortest way out of the ministry was a declaration of bankruptcy!

  • Tom Hering

    Cincinnatus, I’m not sure we lower classes were ever the moral exemplars you claim we once were. Except, perhaps, during the 19th/20th century waves of immigration. Then, ambitious to join the middle class, immigrants behaved like the middle class – who in turn behaved morally because they had a lot to lose if they didn’t (reputation, standing, acceptance, opportunity). Today’s poor, with little hope of upward mobility (because we don’t need them, economically, the way we did back then) have little to lose, and so little reason to imitate their “betters.” The rich, of course, feel (for good reason these days) that they can’t lose what they have – not for behaving immorally, anyways.

    “What is not in dispute is the crisis itself. ‘Rich,’ educated Americans demonstrate both vastly ‘better’ (i.e., more rigid, traditional) morals and ‘more’ religious (and civic) participation.”

    What is not in dispute is that the comments section of a blog abhors a vacuum left by Porcell. :-D

  • Tom Hering

    Cincinnatus, I’m not sure we lower classes were ever the moral exemplars you claim we once were. Except, perhaps, during the 19th/20th century waves of immigration. Then, ambitious to join the middle class, immigrants behaved like the middle class – who in turn behaved morally because they had a lot to lose if they didn’t (reputation, standing, acceptance, opportunity). Today’s poor, with little hope of upward mobility (because we don’t need them, economically, the way we did back then) have little to lose, and so little reason to imitate their “betters.” The rich, of course, feel (for good reason these days) that they can’t lose what they have – not for behaving immorally, anyways.

    “What is not in dispute is the crisis itself. ‘Rich,’ educated Americans demonstrate both vastly ‘better’ (i.e., more rigid, traditional) morals and ‘more’ religious (and civic) participation.”

    What is not in dispute is that the comments section of a blog abhors a vacuum left by Porcell. :-D

  • Jonathan

    Porcell, come home. All is forgiven.

  • Jonathan

    Porcell, come home. All is forgiven.

  • Cincinnatus

    Tom,

    Your hypothesis about working class attempts to imitate the respectable middle class is thoughtful. I’m not entirely convinced, but it’s worth consideration. But why did the lower classes stop imitating the middle and upper classes? I’m not convinced that all hope of upward mobility has vanished, except perhaps in eviscerated rural communities. Then again, you may be correct.

    But no, I’m not being Porcell, God bless him. The moral gulf between the middle classes and the lower classes in America is indisputed and indisputable fact, demonstrated by reams of statistics. Use your Google-fu. All is not necessarily well in the upper echelons morally speaking, but it’s a whole lot better than what’s going on on the “other side of the tracks.” True story.

  • Cincinnatus

    Tom,

    Your hypothesis about working class attempts to imitate the respectable middle class is thoughtful. I’m not entirely convinced, but it’s worth consideration. But why did the lower classes stop imitating the middle and upper classes? I’m not convinced that all hope of upward mobility has vanished, except perhaps in eviscerated rural communities. Then again, you may be correct.

    But no, I’m not being Porcell, God bless him. The moral gulf between the middle classes and the lower classes in America is indisputed and indisputable fact, demonstrated by reams of statistics. Use your Google-fu. All is not necessarily well in the upper echelons morally speaking, but it’s a whole lot better than what’s going on on the “other side of the tracks.” True story.

  • Cincinnatus

    And I’m not celebrating this fact, Jonathan.

  • Cincinnatus

    And I’m not celebrating this fact, Jonathan.

  • –helen

    sg @29
    True. One third of the girls in my high school class married right after graduation. “They had to.” ["The first child comes anytime; the rest take nine months."]
    Back then the family and the church had enough influence so that if you started a baby, you got married. It caused some chat, but most of the parents didn’t have too much right to complain. [Their kids could count, too.]

    The only real (and rare) scandal was if the girl wasn’t sure who the father was.

    These were “churchgoing working class people”, Cincinnatus!

  • –helen

    sg @29
    True. One third of the girls in my high school class married right after graduation. “They had to.” ["The first child comes anytime; the rest take nine months."]
    Back then the family and the church had enough influence so that if you started a baby, you got married. It caused some chat, but most of the parents didn’t have too much right to complain. [Their kids could count, too.]

    The only real (and rare) scandal was if the girl wasn’t sure who the father was.

    These were “churchgoing working class people”, Cincinnatus!

  • Cincinnatus

    helen@35 (and sg): Yes, I know. Obviously, I wasn’t claiming that the working classes (or any classes) were once morally pristine. But social and religious pressures kept things in check. My wife’s own grandparents are products of this pressure to marry a girl you’ve (illicitly) gotten pregnant. They’ve also, due in large part to social pressures, remained married for ~60 years and raised a wonderful and large family.

    What can I say? That scenario is far more desirable than the one that is much more common in today’s lower class white “communities”: abandonment of the mother, single parenthood (if abortion hasn’t been selected instead), moral and economic poverty, serial unemployment, endless legal battles for child support, etc., while both mother and father move on to other sexual adventures. With all the harm to the child such a scenario entails.

  • Cincinnatus

    helen@35 (and sg): Yes, I know. Obviously, I wasn’t claiming that the working classes (or any classes) were once morally pristine. But social and religious pressures kept things in check. My wife’s own grandparents are products of this pressure to marry a girl you’ve (illicitly) gotten pregnant. They’ve also, due in large part to social pressures, remained married for ~60 years and raised a wonderful and large family.

    What can I say? That scenario is far more desirable than the one that is much more common in today’s lower class white “communities”: abandonment of the mother, single parenthood (if abortion hasn’t been selected instead), moral and economic poverty, serial unemployment, endless legal battles for child support, etc., while both mother and father move on to other sexual adventures. With all the harm to the child such a scenario entails.

  • Tom Hering

    Cincinnatus @ 33. What? Me thoughtful? Nah, I’m still the same knee-jerk liberal I’ve always been. Or just jerk, if you prefer. :-D

    Let’s say you’re right about the today’s lower classes being far more immoral then the middle and upper. It’s a “rule” I don’t necessarily dispute. (Though I personally know a few exceptions to this rule.) I haven’t looked at the statistics (or examined their assumptions). We’re still left with the question of how the Church reaches them. As well as the question of whether or not the Church wants to.

  • Tom Hering

    Cincinnatus @ 33. What? Me thoughtful? Nah, I’m still the same knee-jerk liberal I’ve always been. Or just jerk, if you prefer. :-D

    Let’s say you’re right about the today’s lower classes being far more immoral then the middle and upper. It’s a “rule” I don’t necessarily dispute. (Though I personally know a few exceptions to this rule.) I haven’t looked at the statistics (or examined their assumptions). We’re still left with the question of how the Church reaches them. As well as the question of whether or not the Church wants to.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Look on the bright side. At least we don’t have baby farming
    like in the Victorian era.

    As for hordes of lower class folks coming from Europe and behaving better and being more of church attenders, I would argue several points. First, those folks were oppressed people. They were at the bottom of society by caste, not behavior. It appears they were a subset of the bottom, not a representative sample because they had to plan and save and determine to leave. They had high future time orientation. Therefore, given opportunity, their good behavior translated into prosperity. In the old country their productivity translated into prosperity for the upper classes. By now many of the upwardly mobile folks have already moved up. The second point, I would offer is that birth control allowed married conscientious folks to have small families and invest heavily in each child. Just as teen pregnancy within marriage has dropped like a rock, and illegitimacy increased significantly, the same has happened to pregnancies occurring among 20-30 year olds. Marital pregnancies down in the extreme, and illegitimacy up significantly. So the trend is affected at both ends.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Look on the bright side. At least we don’t have baby farming
    like in the Victorian era.

    As for hordes of lower class folks coming from Europe and behaving better and being more of church attenders, I would argue several points. First, those folks were oppressed people. They were at the bottom of society by caste, not behavior. It appears they were a subset of the bottom, not a representative sample because they had to plan and save and determine to leave. They had high future time orientation. Therefore, given opportunity, their good behavior translated into prosperity. In the old country their productivity translated into prosperity for the upper classes. By now many of the upwardly mobile folks have already moved up. The second point, I would offer is that birth control allowed married conscientious folks to have small families and invest heavily in each child. Just as teen pregnancy within marriage has dropped like a rock, and illegitimacy increased significantly, the same has happened to pregnancies occurring among 20-30 year olds. Marital pregnancies down in the extreme, and illegitimacy up significantly. So the trend is affected at both ends.

  • kerner

    This may be strictly anecdotal, but when I was a kid the precursors to the hippies used to complain about “middle class morality”, and I later thought about why morality would be associated with the middle class. I believe that there were de facto moral requirements incentives for getting into, and staying in, the middle class.

    What I mean is that really rich people could afford to cover up the results of their immorality. They could keep mistresses in separate households, pay reasonably competent abortionists, move pregnant women to some far away place, raise illigitimate children from afar as well; things like that. And plenty of people with money did just that.

    The middle class couldn’t get away with any of that. An unmarried pregnant woman was almost certainly on a one way ride to poverty. The male members of her family might simply kick her out. If they were going to do smething to help her, it would mean forcing the man who got her that way to pay up the cost of raising the child. If it was a single man, marrying her was essential to avoiding poverty. The concept of “shotgun weddings’ can be clearly linked to keeping the pregnant girl and her family out of the poverty that would be caused by having to raise he child without a father.

    If he was already married, there would be major economic repercussions for the father and his family. And if an immoral middle class married man shirked those obligations, his girlfriend’s family could threaten his life, and the law might not protect him. Again, this would jeopardize his economic position. Concrete consequenses that could cause a slide from the middle class to poverty were no joke back in the day.

    Nowadays, we have ways of avoiding pegnancy such that the risk of any consequences for immorality has been significantly diminished. Between birth control and abortion, tere is much less risk involved in sexual immorality.

    Also, having an economic safety net and a fairly efficient legal child support collection system has taken a lot of the economic incentive for the shotgun wedding away. If a middle class woman gets pegnant, she can collect child support that is deducted right out of loverboy’s paycheck. If he doesn’t make much money, she’ll get rent assistance, food stamps (or a qwest card) and maybe aid for dependent children. She can move out of her parents’ home and set up her own household. Her lifestyle might actually improve.

    Since morality is no longer a necessity to avoid poverty, the middle class is less likely to adhere to it.

  • kerner

    This may be strictly anecdotal, but when I was a kid the precursors to the hippies used to complain about “middle class morality”, and I later thought about why morality would be associated with the middle class. I believe that there were de facto moral requirements incentives for getting into, and staying in, the middle class.

    What I mean is that really rich people could afford to cover up the results of their immorality. They could keep mistresses in separate households, pay reasonably competent abortionists, move pregnant women to some far away place, raise illigitimate children from afar as well; things like that. And plenty of people with money did just that.

    The middle class couldn’t get away with any of that. An unmarried pregnant woman was almost certainly on a one way ride to poverty. The male members of her family might simply kick her out. If they were going to do smething to help her, it would mean forcing the man who got her that way to pay up the cost of raising the child. If it was a single man, marrying her was essential to avoiding poverty. The concept of “shotgun weddings’ can be clearly linked to keeping the pregnant girl and her family out of the poverty that would be caused by having to raise he child without a father.

    If he was already married, there would be major economic repercussions for the father and his family. And if an immoral middle class married man shirked those obligations, his girlfriend’s family could threaten his life, and the law might not protect him. Again, this would jeopardize his economic position. Concrete consequenses that could cause a slide from the middle class to poverty were no joke back in the day.

    Nowadays, we have ways of avoiding pegnancy such that the risk of any consequences for immorality has been significantly diminished. Between birth control and abortion, tere is much less risk involved in sexual immorality.

    Also, having an economic safety net and a fairly efficient legal child support collection system has taken a lot of the economic incentive for the shotgun wedding away. If a middle class woman gets pegnant, she can collect child support that is deducted right out of loverboy’s paycheck. If he doesn’t make much money, she’ll get rent assistance, food stamps (or a qwest card) and maybe aid for dependent children. She can move out of her parents’ home and set up her own household. Her lifestyle might actually improve.

    Since morality is no longer a necessity to avoid poverty, the middle class is less likely to adhere to it.

  • V. Williams

    Might part of the problem be that the modern evangelical churches have changed what church is? Rather than a place to receive God’s gracious gifts to us and to be nourished and comforted, church is now a place where the believer is expected to deliver the goods: legalistic expectations that must be conformed to, not because it is good and right to _____ , but because it demonstrates your Christian status (yes, status). In many places, it’s just another proving ground, not a place of respite for the tired and broken. Those that have nothing to bring are maybe not encouraged that they aren’t supposed to bring, but rather to receive. They fail to perceive the Gospel, so why would they be drawn there?

  • V. Williams

    Might part of the problem be that the modern evangelical churches have changed what church is? Rather than a place to receive God’s gracious gifts to us and to be nourished and comforted, church is now a place where the believer is expected to deliver the goods: legalistic expectations that must be conformed to, not because it is good and right to _____ , but because it demonstrates your Christian status (yes, status). In many places, it’s just another proving ground, not a place of respite for the tired and broken. Those that have nothing to bring are maybe not encouraged that they aren’t supposed to bring, but rather to receive. They fail to perceive the Gospel, so why would they be drawn there?

  • http://blog.captainthin.net/ Captain Thin

    I’ll just point out that, while it’s fair game to bash the mega-churches for failing to reach out to the lower-income, the article in question says blue-collar workers are dropping out ofall religious groups; it’s not like they’re flocking to traditional Lutheran churches or anything.

    Clearly the problem is bigger than just people saying “look at all the expensive furnishings; I don’t fit in here” or “this sounds like what I hear on the radio, so what’s the point?”…

  • http://blog.captainthin.net/ Captain Thin

    I’ll just point out that, while it’s fair game to bash the mega-churches for failing to reach out to the lower-income, the article in question says blue-collar workers are dropping out ofall religious groups; it’s not like they’re flocking to traditional Lutheran churches or anything.

    Clearly the problem is bigger than just people saying “look at all the expensive furnishings; I don’t fit in here” or “this sounds like what I hear on the radio, so what’s the point?”…

  • Bassett Horn

    @V Williams #40 Exactly that is why I think American “evangelicalism” (I prefer to call it fundamentalism) gives Christianity a bad name, and since that is the cartoon character view of what Christianity is in the media, turns a lot of people off or away as well. Since most people don’t know the difference between “Evangelicals” and Lutheran, Catholic, Methodist, Salvationists etc. They think all Christians are like that. (long aside, the group that has become the political movement evangelicals aren’t very, they seem to me to be very law oriented)

  • Bassett Horn

    @V Williams #40 Exactly that is why I think American “evangelicalism” (I prefer to call it fundamentalism) gives Christianity a bad name, and since that is the cartoon character view of what Christianity is in the media, turns a lot of people off or away as well. Since most people don’t know the difference between “Evangelicals” and Lutheran, Catholic, Methodist, Salvationists etc. They think all Christians are like that. (long aside, the group that has become the political movement evangelicals aren’t very, they seem to me to be very law oriented)

  • Rose

    In the old midwestern cities, the many city spires tell a mute story. They witness to the extravagant faith of the people long gone.
    The beauty of the architecture and liturgy drew millions to the churches each Sunday. The model of church and school served the people well. Our school had a bowling alley in the basement just for the men.

  • Rose

    In the old midwestern cities, the many city spires tell a mute story. They witness to the extravagant faith of the people long gone.
    The beauty of the architecture and liturgy drew millions to the churches each Sunday. The model of church and school served the people well. Our school had a bowling alley in the basement just for the men.

  • Suzanne

    kerner @39
    “Since morality is no longer a necessity to avoid poverty, the middle class is less likely to adhere to it.” I think you are right and also correct that the rich have the means to cover their immorality. With the dawn of 24/7 media, we lower levels now see what the rich have been doing all along and many want to join in on the fun. After all, it works for them, right? They lead immoral lives, but are rich and successful anyway.

    The thing is that 50 years ago, people went to church because they just did. That was where you did your “networking”. That was the center of your social life, especially women. Now, women are working full time to make ends meet, and have no time or energy for church activities. Our church’s youth group is practically non-existent because they have so many sports and other school activities to attend. Church is not the social center of a community that it used to be.

    I truly believe that the mindset of most Christians in this country is that God loves a successful capitalist. So, they look at the lower classes with an Ayn Randian mindset of get with the program or get out. Why would any one who life has slapped in the face a few times want to go to church to be told that if they truly followed God, they wouldn’t be in their lousy situation? I sure wouldn’t.

  • Suzanne

    kerner @39
    “Since morality is no longer a necessity to avoid poverty, the middle class is less likely to adhere to it.” I think you are right and also correct that the rich have the means to cover their immorality. With the dawn of 24/7 media, we lower levels now see what the rich have been doing all along and many want to join in on the fun. After all, it works for them, right? They lead immoral lives, but are rich and successful anyway.

    The thing is that 50 years ago, people went to church because they just did. That was where you did your “networking”. That was the center of your social life, especially women. Now, women are working full time to make ends meet, and have no time or energy for church activities. Our church’s youth group is practically non-existent because they have so many sports and other school activities to attend. Church is not the social center of a community that it used to be.

    I truly believe that the mindset of most Christians in this country is that God loves a successful capitalist. So, they look at the lower classes with an Ayn Randian mindset of get with the program or get out. Why would any one who life has slapped in the face a few times want to go to church to be told that if they truly followed God, they wouldn’t be in their lousy situation? I sure wouldn’t.

  • Tom Hering

    Or if they pulled themselves up by their bootstraps, or got tough and got going when the going got tough, or worked hard and harder in order to (surely) be rewarded, or just believed they can be anything they want to be if they just set their minds to it. The American religion is clear: ours is a land of infinite opportunity, and God helps those who help themselves.

  • Tom Hering

    Or if they pulled themselves up by their bootstraps, or got tough and got going when the going got tough, or worked hard and harder in order to (surely) be rewarded, or just believed they can be anything they want to be if they just set their minds to it. The American religion is clear: ours is a land of infinite opportunity, and God helps those who help themselves.

  • Cincinnatus

    Tom@45: Ok, lame mockery of American bootstrappery is somewhat warranted, but not because what we need is more government programs and welfare relief. What we need is a return to the communal structures–which, as I noted above, were often centered on the church–that enabled individuals “be anything they want[ed] to be” and pull on their bootstraps, etc. Somehow I think this is not what “liberals” have in mind when they jest about the bootstrap ethic, however. Too often it is presumed that what we need is for the “community”–by which they mean the state–to give a “helping hand.” No, this is not what we need.

  • Cincinnatus

    Tom@45: Ok, lame mockery of American bootstrappery is somewhat warranted, but not because what we need is more government programs and welfare relief. What we need is a return to the communal structures–which, as I noted above, were often centered on the church–that enabled individuals “be anything they want[ed] to be” and pull on their bootstraps, etc. Somehow I think this is not what “liberals” have in mind when they jest about the bootstrap ethic, however. Too often it is presumed that what we need is for the “community”–by which they mean the state–to give a “helping hand.” No, this is not what we need.

  • Tom Hering

    Oh wait. I forgot. Ocean platforms are the new lands of infinite opportunity, and God now helps those who offshore themselves. :-D

  • Tom Hering

    Oh wait. I forgot. Ocean platforms are the new lands of infinite opportunity, and God now helps those who offshore themselves. :-D

  • Cincinnatus

    Actually, the ocean platforms are an interesting experiment. I’m anxious to see how they turn out. I suspect that, like all utopian schemes and planned communities of all ideological persuasions, they will fail spectacularly.

  • Cincinnatus

    Actually, the ocean platforms are an interesting experiment. I’m anxious to see how they turn out. I suspect that, like all utopian schemes and planned communities of all ideological persuasions, they will fail spectacularly.

  • Tom Hering

    Cincinnatus @ 48, I don’t know any liberals who think a helping hand from government is the whole answer. (Of course, that’s just the liberals I, myself, know. I’m sure you know some real extremists.) We do, however, think it’s an important part of the answer. As did good doctor Luther, who heartily approved the Wittenberg Chest.

  • Tom Hering

    Cincinnatus @ 48, I don’t know any liberals who think a helping hand from government is the whole answer. (Of course, that’s just the liberals I, myself, know. I’m sure you know some real extremists.) We do, however, think it’s an important part of the answer. As did good doctor Luther, who heartily approved the Wittenberg Chest.

  • Cincinnatus

    Tom: I really couldn’t care less what Luther has to say about the question. Or the Catholic Church, for that matter, which loudly proclaims the same.

    I’m not opposed to “safety nets” and other basic welfare programs. But I don’t believe they are even a small part of the solution to the current crisis of the American underclass. All welfare does and will do at this point is create a dependency class. In fact, there is a substantial literature, both empirical and theoretical, demonstrating that welfare programs actually contribute to the moral decay of their recipients.

  • Cincinnatus

    Tom: I really couldn’t care less what Luther has to say about the question. Or the Catholic Church, for that matter, which loudly proclaims the same.

    I’m not opposed to “safety nets” and other basic welfare programs. But I don’t believe they are even a small part of the solution to the current crisis of the American underclass. All welfare does and will do at this point is create a dependency class. In fact, there is a substantial literature, both empirical and theoretical, demonstrating that welfare programs actually contribute to the moral decay of their recipients.

  • Tom Hering

    Cincinnatus, you don’t care what thoughtful Christians have to say on the matter?? And prefer to proceed from the findings of the secular (and squishy soft) social sciences??

  • Tom Hering

    Cincinnatus, you don’t care what thoughtful Christians have to say on the matter?? And prefer to proceed from the findings of the secular (and squishy soft) social sciences??

  • Cincinnatus

    Well, the social science to which I prefer isn’t particularly secular nor “soft” (whatever you mean by that)–certainly no softer than what Luther happened to say in his spare time. But what I meant was that I don’t find a quote from Luther to be convincing prima facie. What, did you expect me to agree with you simply because Martin Luther does? Truth be told, Martin Luther is one of my least “favorite” political thinkers in all of history.

    But keep thinking that government welfare programs can help solve the moral crisis of the American underclass. American progressives have been furiously asserting and practicing the same thing since LBJ’s Great Society, which is now generally acknowledged as an abject failure that accomplished little more than the creation of the aforementioned dependency class.

    Again, I’m not opposed to safety nets for the limited purpose of staving off abject poverty and starvation. But believing they are fit for anything more than that is an ideological and pathological delusion. The real problem, again, is the utter destruction of the social institutions that once held together coherent working class communities, tempering the mores and fostering stable relationships and societies. No welfare program can bring any part of such an ethos back.

  • Cincinnatus

    Well, the social science to which I prefer isn’t particularly secular nor “soft” (whatever you mean by that)–certainly no softer than what Luther happened to say in his spare time. But what I meant was that I don’t find a quote from Luther to be convincing prima facie. What, did you expect me to agree with you simply because Martin Luther does? Truth be told, Martin Luther is one of my least “favorite” political thinkers in all of history.

    But keep thinking that government welfare programs can help solve the moral crisis of the American underclass. American progressives have been furiously asserting and practicing the same thing since LBJ’s Great Society, which is now generally acknowledged as an abject failure that accomplished little more than the creation of the aforementioned dependency class.

    Again, I’m not opposed to safety nets for the limited purpose of staving off abject poverty and starvation. But believing they are fit for anything more than that is an ideological and pathological delusion. The real problem, again, is the utter destruction of the social institutions that once held together coherent working class communities, tempering the mores and fostering stable relationships and societies. No welfare program can bring any part of such an ethos back.

  • kerner

    Rose@43:

    Did you go to St. Martini Milwaukee? I’ve bowled there.

  • kerner

    Rose@43:

    Did you go to St. Martini Milwaukee? I’ve bowled there.

  • Lou

    While there might be a stereotypical group of “white trash” within the blue collar demographic we’re talkign about, I’m not at all comfortable allowing the comments to pass ascribing that label broadly to the category as whole.

    Take for instance that important demographic to which Joe Biden attempted to appeal during the 2008 primaries — people like those from his hometown in Scranton, PA. Both of my parents were raised in a coal town outside of that area in the 40′s and 50′s. Their generation was by and large hard-working and very morally minded. As their generation married and raised their own children, they began to adopt the highly popularized child-rearing advice of social liberals like Dr. Spock and others whereby the child’s autonomy was to be encouraged and nurtured, while spurning consistent and appropriate discipline. That was seen as too harsh.

    In terms of church-going, they generally allowed their kids to chose whether they wanted to attend church or not and which faith they would attend. For the most part, work ethic, personal responsibility and accountability were still largely instilled, but my generation was driven by a longing for personal fulfillment and meaning in our vocations because of the emphasis of the parents on encouraging autonomy and creativity.

    The reason I mention this anecdote is to draw attention to the fact that there is a very significant demographic of very principled blue-collar voters that often gets overlooked, marginalized and absorbed into the ‘white trash’ desparagement that is being used here. It’s the demographic that almost elected Hillary over Obama and that still appreciates Biden because he is one of them.

    I can speak this way because I am the first in my family on both sides, first of my cousins, aunts, uncles, all the way down the line, to earn a college degree. And now I even have my MPA thanks to the GI Bill. Nearly all of my family members are from this group even today. Some of the characteristics in Cincy’s stereotype fit for a few of them, but none of them fit his description completely. The fact that this disparagement has been mostly unchallenged speaks volumes about how we (church people) view the lower class in general, and proves our ignorance. No wonder they’re not interested in what we’re doing.

  • Lou

    While there might be a stereotypical group of “white trash” within the blue collar demographic we’re talkign about, I’m not at all comfortable allowing the comments to pass ascribing that label broadly to the category as whole.

    Take for instance that important demographic to which Joe Biden attempted to appeal during the 2008 primaries — people like those from his hometown in Scranton, PA. Both of my parents were raised in a coal town outside of that area in the 40′s and 50′s. Their generation was by and large hard-working and very morally minded. As their generation married and raised their own children, they began to adopt the highly popularized child-rearing advice of social liberals like Dr. Spock and others whereby the child’s autonomy was to be encouraged and nurtured, while spurning consistent and appropriate discipline. That was seen as too harsh.

    In terms of church-going, they generally allowed their kids to chose whether they wanted to attend church or not and which faith they would attend. For the most part, work ethic, personal responsibility and accountability were still largely instilled, but my generation was driven by a longing for personal fulfillment and meaning in our vocations because of the emphasis of the parents on encouraging autonomy and creativity.

    The reason I mention this anecdote is to draw attention to the fact that there is a very significant demographic of very principled blue-collar voters that often gets overlooked, marginalized and absorbed into the ‘white trash’ desparagement that is being used here. It’s the demographic that almost elected Hillary over Obama and that still appreciates Biden because he is one of them.

    I can speak this way because I am the first in my family on both sides, first of my cousins, aunts, uncles, all the way down the line, to earn a college degree. And now I even have my MPA thanks to the GI Bill. Nearly all of my family members are from this group even today. Some of the characteristics in Cincy’s stereotype fit for a few of them, but none of them fit his description completely. The fact that this disparagement has been mostly unchallenged speaks volumes about how we (church people) view the lower class in general, and proves our ignorance. No wonder they’re not interested in what we’re doing.

  • Lou

    “What is not in dispute is the crisis itself. ‘Rich,’ educated Americans demonstrate both vastly ‘better’ (i.e., more rigid, traditional) morals and ‘more’ religious (and civic) participation.”

    The key word here is “demonstrate”, because we know that the Pharisees were widely regarded as demonstrating vastly “better” morals and more religious participation than anyone else in their day. And we also know what Jesus thought about that fact. Even Isaiah wasn’t too keen on it (64:6).

  • Lou

    “What is not in dispute is the crisis itself. ‘Rich,’ educated Americans demonstrate both vastly ‘better’ (i.e., more rigid, traditional) morals and ‘more’ religious (and civic) participation.”

    The key word here is “demonstrate”, because we know that the Pharisees were widely regarded as demonstrating vastly “better” morals and more religious participation than anyone else in their day. And we also know what Jesus thought about that fact. Even Isaiah wasn’t too keen on it (64:6).

  • Rose

    Cincinnatus,
    There’s a simple solution to illegitimacy.
    If parents are unmarried, the child is given to the custody of the father.
    This will cause people to stop and think.

  • Rose

    Cincinnatus,
    There’s a simple solution to illegitimacy.
    If parents are unmarried, the child is given to the custody of the father.
    This will cause people to stop and think.

  • Rose

    Kerner,
    No, it was Grace LCMS in Chicago.
    Now we are blessed to attend a town-and-country church where the men are building a Youth Center themselves.

  • Rose

    Kerner,
    No, it was Grace LCMS in Chicago.
    Now we are blessed to attend a town-and-country church where the men are building a Youth Center themselves.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    The “poor” in America now are materially better off, than “middle class” a hundred years ago. So, what we are really talking about is social status. Blue collar and lower income folks do have trouble being accepted and participating socially with folks of higher social status. However, the point is church attendance. Belief among lower income folks is not lower, church attendance is lower. Some have noted that membership and participation in social organizations is higher among the higher income groups because they have higher social function. This also contributes to attaining or maintaining social status. It seems a Christian principle to reach out to those who would not or could not organize themselves as a matter of just supporting our weaker brethren.

    One of the worst consequences of lower church attendance is that the children are not hearing the Word of God.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    The “poor” in America now are materially better off, than “middle class” a hundred years ago. So, what we are really talking about is social status. Blue collar and lower income folks do have trouble being accepted and participating socially with folks of higher social status. However, the point is church attendance. Belief among lower income folks is not lower, church attendance is lower. Some have noted that membership and participation in social organizations is higher among the higher income groups because they have higher social function. This also contributes to attaining or maintaining social status. It seems a Christian principle to reach out to those who would not or could not organize themselves as a matter of just supporting our weaker brethren.

    One of the worst consequences of lower church attendance is that the children are not hearing the Word of God.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “There’s a simple solution to illegitimacy.
    If parents are unmarried, the child is given to the custody of the father.
    This will cause people to stop and think.”

    Come on Rose, we don’t want a guy punished with a baby. Seriously though, how about preaching and teaching to love and serve our neighbors and that one who doesn’t care for his family is the worst of all. I mean where is the love and service to neighbor and family when a man father’s a child and then abandons him and his mother.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “There’s a simple solution to illegitimacy.
    If parents are unmarried, the child is given to the custody of the father.
    This will cause people to stop and think.”

    Come on Rose, we don’t want a guy punished with a baby. Seriously though, how about preaching and teaching to love and serve our neighbors and that one who doesn’t care for his family is the worst of all. I mean where is the love and service to neighbor and family when a man father’s a child and then abandons him and his mother.

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  • helen

    In the old country their [immigrants] productivity translated into prosperity for the upper classes. By now many of the upwardly mobile folks have already moved up.

    By now that upward mobility has been squashed in this country by moving the jobs overseas, to benefit the upper classes! Where can the next generation emigrate to, with the hope their grandparents or great grandparents had, for a better life?

    So far, the immigrants are still coming here, aided by a number of laws to give them preference in education and jobs, that native born [immigrants' grandsons] don’t qualify for [and their antecedents never had either.] E.g. children of illegal aliens (“undocumented workers”) pay in state tuition at college and are likely to benefit from places reserved for “diversity” over talent.
    [Some argue that Barack Obama is an example.] ;(

  • helen

    In the old country their [immigrants] productivity translated into prosperity for the upper classes. By now many of the upwardly mobile folks have already moved up.

    By now that upward mobility has been squashed in this country by moving the jobs overseas, to benefit the upper classes! Where can the next generation emigrate to, with the hope their grandparents or great grandparents had, for a better life?

    So far, the immigrants are still coming here, aided by a number of laws to give them preference in education and jobs, that native born [immigrants' grandsons] don’t qualify for [and their antecedents never had either.] E.g. children of illegal aliens (“undocumented workers”) pay in state tuition at college and are likely to benefit from places reserved for “diversity” over talent.
    [Some argue that Barack Obama is an example.] ;(

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    So far, the immigrants are still coming here, aided by a number of laws to give them preference in education and jobs, that native born [immigrants' grandsons] don’t qualify for [and their antecedents never had either.] E.g. children of illegal aliens (“undocumented workers”) pay in state tuition at college and are likely to benefit from places reserved for “diversity” over talent.

    Based on immigrants’ children’s performance in school, it appears that immigrants are coming from opposite tails of the distribution. We are getting disproportionally very high performing immigrants as well as very low performing immigrants with fewer average folks. As for discrimination, hispanics are “underrepresented” so discrimination is in their favor in colleges and hiring. It makes little difference because there aren’t that many who are going to be qualified enough to take advantage of it. Asians on the other hand are heavily discriminated against in admissions and hiring. Because there are so many qualified Asians and they are overrepresented, they end up working for less money sometimes and depress wages. I am not saying low wages just somewhat lower than their skills set might predict. That isn’t so horrible because it is still a decent living. Of course with high unemployment, immigration is a sore spot, especially illegal indigent immigration.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    So far, the immigrants are still coming here, aided by a number of laws to give them preference in education and jobs, that native born [immigrants' grandsons] don’t qualify for [and their antecedents never had either.] E.g. children of illegal aliens (“undocumented workers”) pay in state tuition at college and are likely to benefit from places reserved for “diversity” over talent.

    Based on immigrants’ children’s performance in school, it appears that immigrants are coming from opposite tails of the distribution. We are getting disproportionally very high performing immigrants as well as very low performing immigrants with fewer average folks. As for discrimination, hispanics are “underrepresented” so discrimination is in their favor in colleges and hiring. It makes little difference because there aren’t that many who are going to be qualified enough to take advantage of it. Asians on the other hand are heavily discriminated against in admissions and hiring. Because there are so many qualified Asians and they are overrepresented, they end up working for less money sometimes and depress wages. I am not saying low wages just somewhat lower than their skills set might predict. That isn’t so horrible because it is still a decent living. Of course with high unemployment, immigration is a sore spot, especially illegal indigent immigration.

  • Tom Hering

    Three possible reasons for not reaching out to the lower classes.

    (1.) Homogeneity. We all prefer it in all our groups and communities.

    (2.) Middle Class. Being part of the middle class (especially the upper middle class) is the goal in America, and American churches are made up of individuals with this goal.

    (3.) Resources. The lower classes will drain a church’s resources rather than contributing to them (or so it may be feared). This would interfere with the goal of becoming or remaining a middle class church, by taking resources away from the material symbol of the middle class church – the church building. Think of the value the middle class places on home ownership and improvement. (Church plants may be better at reaching out to the lower classes precisely because they operate from rented spaces. I wonder how many lower class members of a church plant stay with their church when it finally acquires a building, and begins to focus on gaining middle class members? Has anyone studied this? How many exit, and how many stay – perhaps hoping the church’s new “respectability” will be credited to them by association?)

  • Tom Hering

    Three possible reasons for not reaching out to the lower classes.

    (1.) Homogeneity. We all prefer it in all our groups and communities.

    (2.) Middle Class. Being part of the middle class (especially the upper middle class) is the goal in America, and American churches are made up of individuals with this goal.

    (3.) Resources. The lower classes will drain a church’s resources rather than contributing to them (or so it may be feared). This would interfere with the goal of becoming or remaining a middle class church, by taking resources away from the material symbol of the middle class church – the church building. Think of the value the middle class places on home ownership and improvement. (Church plants may be better at reaching out to the lower classes precisely because they operate from rented spaces. I wonder how many lower class members of a church plant stay with their church when it finally acquires a building, and begins to focus on gaining middle class members? Has anyone studied this? How many exit, and how many stay – perhaps hoping the church’s new “respectability” will be credited to them by association?)

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Morals and economics have something to do with it, but I half wonder if it’s partially because (a) the Gospel will in its effects make people wealthier than they otherwise would be and (b) we’re often reluctant to go on the wrong side of the tracks.

    That said, I’ve had a lot of good experiences on the “wrong side of the tracks,” from outreaches in Compton, Dallas, and Phoenix poor areas to a church which for some reason attracted the poor. Most of the kids in children’s church were from the trailer park for some reason–a humble building probably had something to do with this.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Morals and economics have something to do with it, but I half wonder if it’s partially because (a) the Gospel will in its effects make people wealthier than they otherwise would be and (b) we’re often reluctant to go on the wrong side of the tracks.

    That said, I’ve had a lot of good experiences on the “wrong side of the tracks,” from outreaches in Compton, Dallas, and Phoenix poor areas to a church which for some reason attracted the poor. Most of the kids in children’s church were from the trailer park for some reason–a humble building probably had something to do with this.

  • Cincinnatus

    Bike Bubba:

    “[T]he Gospel will in its effects make people wealthier than they otherwise would be.”

    Huh?

  • Cincinnatus

    Bike Bubba:

    “[T]he Gospel will in its effects make people wealthier than they otherwise would be.”

    Huh?

  • jbo

    Is it as simple as demographics? Like, the perceived marketing type? As in, churches have aimed at segments of the population and these people are “told” they don’t belong there? And we’re so used to being told where we fit into our society that we believe them? Mega-churches have better-off suburban families, while elites are part of mainline churches. African Americans and Latino groups have their own expected affiliations. What does blue collar have? I don’t know from what I see…Maybe they feel like they’re being attacked by advertising…

  • jbo

    Is it as simple as demographics? Like, the perceived marketing type? As in, churches have aimed at segments of the population and these people are “told” they don’t belong there? And we’re so used to being told where we fit into our society that we believe them? Mega-churches have better-off suburban families, while elites are part of mainline churches. African Americans and Latino groups have their own expected affiliations. What does blue collar have? I don’t know from what I see…Maybe they feel like they’re being attacked by advertising…

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I second Cincinnatus’ poignant question (@64).

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I second Cincinnatus’ poignant question (@64).

  • larry

    Having come from a multigenerational blue collar home, on both sides of my family; Booklover is getting close to the reality.

    1. They can sense BS piety on the one hand and understand reality a lot more “real” than the “keeping up with the spiritual Jones”. Sin is real sin and not pretend sin, but what passes in most churches today as “sin” is pretend sin. Families have REAL struggles, not every family is Beaver Cleaver. But the “church” (and I use that term very lightly) wants the Cleaver’s for membership and not the Bundy’s.

    2. Secondly, they tend to not be able to keep up with the “tithe police” and generally have real bills to pay week to week and day to day, real mouths to feed, real homes to pay for, real energy bills, etc… They can hardly scrap the money together to buy the protestant indulgences, “good boy tithe records”, to rebuild what really is the protestant version of the St. Peter’s Square.

    3. My own father was driven away after years in the SB church of being looked down upon, often in silence, over the fact that he smoked. He knew BS “fruits of the faith” when he saw it. So that lingers in a LOT of “churches” (again a very loose use of the term) across the landscape.

    4. Then there’s the “gotta get you involved” into church yard duties for “real spiritual work”. Most blue collar workers work real days real hard and have little extra curricular time for “church yard works”, so they feel outcast from the “more spiritual” busy bodies.

    5. Most blue collar homes are male oriented, that is they want the real theology and not the mauve colors and fluffy glory theology. They don’t have time for “emotional appeals”, nor desire them, reality is in their faces more often, they want reality, has Christ done something for me that I need to know. So they don’t have time for enthusiam and tear jerking moments. A good spiritual cry is as useless as Oprah.

  • larry

    Having come from a multigenerational blue collar home, on both sides of my family; Booklover is getting close to the reality.

    1. They can sense BS piety on the one hand and understand reality a lot more “real” than the “keeping up with the spiritual Jones”. Sin is real sin and not pretend sin, but what passes in most churches today as “sin” is pretend sin. Families have REAL struggles, not every family is Beaver Cleaver. But the “church” (and I use that term very lightly) wants the Cleaver’s for membership and not the Bundy’s.

    2. Secondly, they tend to not be able to keep up with the “tithe police” and generally have real bills to pay week to week and day to day, real mouths to feed, real homes to pay for, real energy bills, etc… They can hardly scrap the money together to buy the protestant indulgences, “good boy tithe records”, to rebuild what really is the protestant version of the St. Peter’s Square.

    3. My own father was driven away after years in the SB church of being looked down upon, often in silence, over the fact that he smoked. He knew BS “fruits of the faith” when he saw it. So that lingers in a LOT of “churches” (again a very loose use of the term) across the landscape.

    4. Then there’s the “gotta get you involved” into church yard duties for “real spiritual work”. Most blue collar workers work real days real hard and have little extra curricular time for “church yard works”, so they feel outcast from the “more spiritual” busy bodies.

    5. Most blue collar homes are male oriented, that is they want the real theology and not the mauve colors and fluffy glory theology. They don’t have time for “emotional appeals”, nor desire them, reality is in their faces more often, they want reality, has Christ done something for me that I need to know. So they don’t have time for enthusiam and tear jerking moments. A good spiritual cry is as useless as Oprah.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Cincinnatus, tODD; very simple. What happens when a man repents of his sins and is immersed? Well, he’s repented of his sins; laziness, drunkenness, fornication, theft, murder, living for self, right?

    All of these things–and many other sins from which a Christian ought to repent–suck the life out of a bank account, don’t they?

    It’s not a guarantee of wealth to the believer–the “health and wealth Gospel”–but it is a fact that many of the traits of repentance are quite frankly good financial habits that will take a man out of the trailer park or public housing. It’s been known to be a big problem in developing countries–those who come to Christ find, through marriage, work, thrift, and such, that their members quickly join the middle class.

    And I dare suggest that if it’s not happening in your church, you seriously need to consider what’s being preached from the pulpit.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Cincinnatus, tODD; very simple. What happens when a man repents of his sins and is immersed? Well, he’s repented of his sins; laziness, drunkenness, fornication, theft, murder, living for self, right?

    All of these things–and many other sins from which a Christian ought to repent–suck the life out of a bank account, don’t they?

    It’s not a guarantee of wealth to the believer–the “health and wealth Gospel”–but it is a fact that many of the traits of repentance are quite frankly good financial habits that will take a man out of the trailer park or public housing. It’s been known to be a big problem in developing countries–those who come to Christ find, through marriage, work, thrift, and such, that their members quickly join the middle class.

    And I dare suggest that if it’s not happening in your church, you seriously need to consider what’s being preached from the pulpit.

  • kerner

    “The best thing you can do for the poor is not be one of them.”
    Rev. Ike

    Not sure I totally agree with him, but food for thought, don’t you think?

  • kerner

    “The best thing you can do for the poor is not be one of them.”
    Rev. Ike

    Not sure I totally agree with him, but food for thought, don’t you think?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bubba said (@68):

    I dare suggest that if it’s not happening in your church, you seriously need to consider what’s being preached from the pulpit.

    So my pastor needs to spend more time preaching about how I can have my Best Life Now? Honestly, I’d rather he stick to preaching the Law and Gospel — and I dare say he does a better job distinguishing those than you do.

    After all, you started this off by saying (@63):

    The Gospel will in its effects make people wealthier than they otherwise would be

    And ended up justifying this claim by discussing (@68) moral living. Which means that you think that moral living = “the Gospel”? Man, I hope not, but that’s sure what it looks like.

    Also, it wouldn’t hurt for you to reread Romans 7, as far as a Biblical depiction of what happens when a man repents of his sins. Please note how Paul expresses the actual Gospel — not a man-made “and then I made a decision to live real good”, but rather “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

    Finally, a person might find it easy to mistake your comment for saying that people are poor because of their sins.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bubba said (@68):

    I dare suggest that if it’s not happening in your church, you seriously need to consider what’s being preached from the pulpit.

    So my pastor needs to spend more time preaching about how I can have my Best Life Now? Honestly, I’d rather he stick to preaching the Law and Gospel — and I dare say he does a better job distinguishing those than you do.

    After all, you started this off by saying (@63):

    The Gospel will in its effects make people wealthier than they otherwise would be

    And ended up justifying this claim by discussing (@68) moral living. Which means that you think that moral living = “the Gospel”? Man, I hope not, but that’s sure what it looks like.

    Also, it wouldn’t hurt for you to reread Romans 7, as far as a Biblical depiction of what happens when a man repents of his sins. Please note how Paul expresses the actual Gospel — not a man-made “and then I made a decision to live real good”, but rather “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

    Finally, a person might find it easy to mistake your comment for saying that people are poor because of their sins.

  • larry

    I agree Todd!

    Success gospel in whatever for is not the Gospel, and cursed is the preacher and church that preaches it in whatever form it finds itself. Quite frankly I have family that preach that crap to you (baptist), it’s the very opposite of suffering the cross. It is more often the case that Christians will suffer. One can be entirely thrifty, dedicated to their marriage and families 200+% and still find themselves barely making it or in great need. In fact if one actually follows along with the Scriptures and does not abort or prevent their children from becoming, one will find in most cases that they will struggle financially and support wise to keep it all together.

    At our church its tiny, small, aging for the most part, looks like it could fall apart any minute with the number of health issues within its ranks; but hidden under this we have the real treasure. It’s not money or wealth or power but every Sunday the very body and blood of the Son of God given to us. Next to that NO amount of money, success, nice life, comfortable life can compare. I’d rather be naked and in the streets with the true Gospel Word and sacraments, than have all the wealth, success and “best life anyway” in the world.

    There is no merit in suffering in and of itself, Luther knew this, yet he like Paul could glory in suffering and called it the true treasury of Christ’s cross. Why? Because when brought low and in need we find ourselves, at last, emptied and in need of the Cross of Christ. The greatest persecution against faith, said Luther, is no suffering or trial at all because faith thrives on suffering looking beyond to the Word hidden beneath it finding God’s “Yes” under the hidden cloak of “no”. One caveat to this, even “no suffering” can become a suffering, i.e., “if we are in the true faith then why are we not suffering”, becomes a trial in and of itself. This is why Paul and Luther can glory in suffering and “kiss” these treasures of Christ’s cross given us, for “in, with and under” them we find the promises (in spite of) all appearances, experiences, emotions and other empirical evidences. The one who finds so called “blessing” in “your best life anyway” in whatever form it takes is truly the cursed one who in reality is naked and in great need but thinks they are well clothed without need.

  • larry

    I agree Todd!

    Success gospel in whatever for is not the Gospel, and cursed is the preacher and church that preaches it in whatever form it finds itself. Quite frankly I have family that preach that crap to you (baptist), it’s the very opposite of suffering the cross. It is more often the case that Christians will suffer. One can be entirely thrifty, dedicated to their marriage and families 200+% and still find themselves barely making it or in great need. In fact if one actually follows along with the Scriptures and does not abort or prevent their children from becoming, one will find in most cases that they will struggle financially and support wise to keep it all together.

    At our church its tiny, small, aging for the most part, looks like it could fall apart any minute with the number of health issues within its ranks; but hidden under this we have the real treasure. It’s not money or wealth or power but every Sunday the very body and blood of the Son of God given to us. Next to that NO amount of money, success, nice life, comfortable life can compare. I’d rather be naked and in the streets with the true Gospel Word and sacraments, than have all the wealth, success and “best life anyway” in the world.

    There is no merit in suffering in and of itself, Luther knew this, yet he like Paul could glory in suffering and called it the true treasury of Christ’s cross. Why? Because when brought low and in need we find ourselves, at last, emptied and in need of the Cross of Christ. The greatest persecution against faith, said Luther, is no suffering or trial at all because faith thrives on suffering looking beyond to the Word hidden beneath it finding God’s “Yes” under the hidden cloak of “no”. One caveat to this, even “no suffering” can become a suffering, i.e., “if we are in the true faith then why are we not suffering”, becomes a trial in and of itself. This is why Paul and Luther can glory in suffering and “kiss” these treasures of Christ’s cross given us, for “in, with and under” them we find the promises (in spite of) all appearances, experiences, emotions and other empirical evidences. The one who finds so called “blessing” in “your best life anyway” in whatever form it takes is truly the cursed one who in reality is naked and in great need but thinks they are well clothed without need.

  • kerner

    Just playing devil’s advocate a little bit here, but (putting the best construstion on it) I think Bike was trying to say that some people are poor because of their sins.

    Take the people in prison. Many spent their lives committing crimes and all their money on drugs; now they have nothing. Are they now poor because of their own sinful choices? It’s hard to argue otherwise.

    And just so we aren’t confining this to the underclass types, what about the investment broker who comes up with a fraudulent pyramid scheme that cheats all his clients but allows him to maintain a gluttonous lifestyle, including a couple of mistresses. Then he gets caught, all his property is confiscated, he loses all his professional licenses, and he goes to prison. Poor because of his sins? Well, if he had lived an honest but less oppulent lifestyle, he would still be doing better than a lot of people, but now he is poor.

    On the other hand, plenty of people live sinful lifestyles and are not poor, so I’m not sure how much value these observations have. For every example of sinners getting their come-upance, we can point to an example of the evil prospering or the comparitively virtuous struggling.

    Conclusive proof that life is not fair (as to who gets ahead financially) can be found in 3 words:

    Anna. Nicole. Smith.

  • kerner

    Just playing devil’s advocate a little bit here, but (putting the best construstion on it) I think Bike was trying to say that some people are poor because of their sins.

    Take the people in prison. Many spent their lives committing crimes and all their money on drugs; now they have nothing. Are they now poor because of their own sinful choices? It’s hard to argue otherwise.

    And just so we aren’t confining this to the underclass types, what about the investment broker who comes up with a fraudulent pyramid scheme that cheats all his clients but allows him to maintain a gluttonous lifestyle, including a couple of mistresses. Then he gets caught, all his property is confiscated, he loses all his professional licenses, and he goes to prison. Poor because of his sins? Well, if he had lived an honest but less oppulent lifestyle, he would still be doing better than a lot of people, but now he is poor.

    On the other hand, plenty of people live sinful lifestyles and are not poor, so I’m not sure how much value these observations have. For every example of sinners getting their come-upance, we can point to an example of the evil prospering or the comparitively virtuous struggling.

    Conclusive proof that life is not fair (as to who gets ahead financially) can be found in 3 words:

    Anna. Nicole. Smith.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Kerner said (@72):

    On the other hand, plenty of people live sinful lifestyles and are not poor, so I’m not sure how much value these observations have.

    “Plenty of people live sinful lifestyles”? Um, how about all of them? Given that we’re all sinful, how exactly are you going to correlate sinning with economic status? What’s your non-sinning control group?

    “I think Bike was trying to say that some people are poor because of their sins.” Okay, but some people are rich because of their sins — pretty sure the love of money is still the root of all kinds of evil, and that not a few rich people love their (as well as others’) money. Jesus might have touched on this somewhere.

    But Bubba has confined his points only to chastising the poor for their sinful behavior. My question is: why?

    It still sounds like a slightly milder “prosperity gospel” to me: live right, and join the middle class.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Kerner said (@72):

    On the other hand, plenty of people live sinful lifestyles and are not poor, so I’m not sure how much value these observations have.

    “Plenty of people live sinful lifestyles”? Um, how about all of them? Given that we’re all sinful, how exactly are you going to correlate sinning with economic status? What’s your non-sinning control group?

    “I think Bike was trying to say that some people are poor because of their sins.” Okay, but some people are rich because of their sins — pretty sure the love of money is still the root of all kinds of evil, and that not a few rich people love their (as well as others’) money. Jesus might have touched on this somewhere.

    But Bubba has confined his points only to chastising the poor for their sinful behavior. My question is: why?

    It still sounds like a slightly milder “prosperity gospel” to me: live right, and join the middle class.

  • kerner

    “Plenty of people live sinful lifestyles”? Um, how about all of them?

    OK, OK, tODD, I know its all of them. You will notice that my “controll group” was only comparitively virtuous.

    So, Bike, care to expand a little on your last comment?

  • kerner

    “Plenty of people live sinful lifestyles”? Um, how about all of them?

    OK, OK, tODD, I know its all of them. You will notice that my “controll group” was only comparitively virtuous.

    So, Bike, care to expand a little on your last comment?

  • kerner

    “Plenty of people live sinful lifestyles”? Um, how about all of them?

    OK, OK, tODD, I know its all of them. You will notice that my “control group” was only comparitively virtuous.

    So, Bike, care to expand a little on your last comment?

  • kerner

    “Plenty of people live sinful lifestyles”? Um, how about all of them?

    OK, OK, tODD, I know its all of them. You will notice that my “control group” was only comparitively virtuous.

    So, Bike, care to expand a little on your last comment?

  • kerner

    oops, sorry for the double post

  • kerner

    oops, sorry for the double post

  • Stephen

    Kerner,

    You’re mixing law and gospel (just like bubba).

    Romans 3:10 “As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one.”

    and then . . .

    Romans 4:5 “However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness.”

    Old Adam does not get fixed by “doing the law.” The rain falls on the just and the unjust. The gospel frees us from the accusations of the law when we put on the works of Christ, remembering our baptism and what is done for us in it, and not when we “do the right thing.”

    I think a better way to say it is that some people are in jail because they broke the law “in its first use.” But the Law (writ large) always accuses, which means that just because we don’t go to jail for our sins does not make them any less sinful. Realizing that we may or may not be criminals is one thing, and that it is generally better to abide by the law of the land. But seeing that we are sinners is where the law strikes us down. Jesus points this out in the Sermon on the Mount.

    Matthew 5:21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment.

    What does that mean? I’ve never been in fear of going to prison for my anger. But I have felt the sting of conscience when anger has gotten the best of me. So, in terms of sin, Jesus seems to point to the condition of the heart and not just the outward keeping of the law, wouldn’t you say? “Out of the heart comes all manner of evil” says Jesus elsewhere. This is what the Gospel addresses, the heart, making new creations. But what we see is Old Adam sinners everywhere.

    So what of the law? In the Small Catechism, the explanation to the Ten Commandments says that God promises good to those who keep his law (written in the mind of all people) and punishment to those who do not, quoting Exodus 20. So there is a sense in which doing what is commanded (by conscience/reason) promises to bring goodness and mercy rather than wrath. That is common sense. Even if we don’t call it Divine Law it still is. And it is still all law accusing, proding, forcing us to love our neighbor (live in peace, do what is right, avoid punishments, etc.). It is not gospel. It all happens in this earthly kingdom where we use our reason (the divine law written in the mind of all as conscience) to bring about a peaceful and just existence. So it is not us doing it, but the law doing it to us, literally civilizing us.

    Love your neighbor as you love yourself. That is all law, not gospel, working on our conscience, and it is no different than living in peace with my next door neighbor or my city or country and fellow citizens. This is what the law demands. But this is also where the heterodox get it flat wrong. We are not justified by what we do at all, because we are all sinners and cannot love perfectly. No deeds supercede what we believe (creeds!). If they did, we would not need Christ. That is not to say we cannot love or don’t know how. We do! That’s exactly why our conscience is bothered when we don’t. Love is given at the urging of conscience – the law written in the mind. We love because he first loved us (law), and gave up his life for us (gospel) .

    Nothing we do is eternal. What is eternal is faith alone in Christ alone, which frees us from the accusations of the law.

    Here’s just little bit of what the Confessions say about trusting in our works.

    “Thus the adversaries teach nothing but the righteousness of reason, or certainly of the Law, upon which they look just as the Jews upon the veiled face of Moses; and, in secure hypocrites who think that they satisfy the Law, they excite presumption and empty confidence in works [they place men on a sand foundation, their own works] and contempt of the grace of Christ. On the contrary, they drive timid consciences to despair, which laboring with doubt, never can experience what faith is, and how efficacious it is; thus, at last they utterly despair.”

    “Empty confidence” sounds like believing that if I do the right thing God will bless me with a middle class lifestyle, I won’t get sick, won’t have trouble or suffering, won’t lose my shirt when the rich run off with my pension. And worse, I will trust that my behavior will put me in good stead with God. That is old Adam thinking his religion (piety) will fix him. That is to make religion into a drug, an elixir. That is the snake oil of theologies of glory. No Christ, no cross. Instead, my good works are sacrificed to God rather than in service to my neighbor. It leads to despair because the law always accuses. No one is righteous. Sin abounds. And it all stems from our many false gods, the worst of which is to trust in ones own abiltiy to keep the law perfectly.

    We are in good stead with God because of Jesus. That is promised to us in baptism. That is the very good news. No matter what this world throws at us, we have this treasure, even if we land in prison (that happened to Paul). His mercies never end.

  • Stephen

    Kerner,

    You’re mixing law and gospel (just like bubba).

    Romans 3:10 “As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one.”

    and then . . .

    Romans 4:5 “However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness.”

    Old Adam does not get fixed by “doing the law.” The rain falls on the just and the unjust. The gospel frees us from the accusations of the law when we put on the works of Christ, remembering our baptism and what is done for us in it, and not when we “do the right thing.”

    I think a better way to say it is that some people are in jail because they broke the law “in its first use.” But the Law (writ large) always accuses, which means that just because we don’t go to jail for our sins does not make them any less sinful. Realizing that we may or may not be criminals is one thing, and that it is generally better to abide by the law of the land. But seeing that we are sinners is where the law strikes us down. Jesus points this out in the Sermon on the Mount.

    Matthew 5:21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment.

    What does that mean? I’ve never been in fear of going to prison for my anger. But I have felt the sting of conscience when anger has gotten the best of me. So, in terms of sin, Jesus seems to point to the condition of the heart and not just the outward keeping of the law, wouldn’t you say? “Out of the heart comes all manner of evil” says Jesus elsewhere. This is what the Gospel addresses, the heart, making new creations. But what we see is Old Adam sinners everywhere.

    So what of the law? In the Small Catechism, the explanation to the Ten Commandments says that God promises good to those who keep his law (written in the mind of all people) and punishment to those who do not, quoting Exodus 20. So there is a sense in which doing what is commanded (by conscience/reason) promises to bring goodness and mercy rather than wrath. That is common sense. Even if we don’t call it Divine Law it still is. And it is still all law accusing, proding, forcing us to love our neighbor (live in peace, do what is right, avoid punishments, etc.). It is not gospel. It all happens in this earthly kingdom where we use our reason (the divine law written in the mind of all as conscience) to bring about a peaceful and just existence. So it is not us doing it, but the law doing it to us, literally civilizing us.

    Love your neighbor as you love yourself. That is all law, not gospel, working on our conscience, and it is no different than living in peace with my next door neighbor or my city or country and fellow citizens. This is what the law demands. But this is also where the heterodox get it flat wrong. We are not justified by what we do at all, because we are all sinners and cannot love perfectly. No deeds supercede what we believe (creeds!). If they did, we would not need Christ. That is not to say we cannot love or don’t know how. We do! That’s exactly why our conscience is bothered when we don’t. Love is given at the urging of conscience – the law written in the mind. We love because he first loved us (law), and gave up his life for us (gospel) .

    Nothing we do is eternal. What is eternal is faith alone in Christ alone, which frees us from the accusations of the law.

    Here’s just little bit of what the Confessions say about trusting in our works.

    “Thus the adversaries teach nothing but the righteousness of reason, or certainly of the Law, upon which they look just as the Jews upon the veiled face of Moses; and, in secure hypocrites who think that they satisfy the Law, they excite presumption and empty confidence in works [they place men on a sand foundation, their own works] and contempt of the grace of Christ. On the contrary, they drive timid consciences to despair, which laboring with doubt, never can experience what faith is, and how efficacious it is; thus, at last they utterly despair.”

    “Empty confidence” sounds like believing that if I do the right thing God will bless me with a middle class lifestyle, I won’t get sick, won’t have trouble or suffering, won’t lose my shirt when the rich run off with my pension. And worse, I will trust that my behavior will put me in good stead with God. That is old Adam thinking his religion (piety) will fix him. That is to make religion into a drug, an elixir. That is the snake oil of theologies of glory. No Christ, no cross. Instead, my good works are sacrificed to God rather than in service to my neighbor. It leads to despair because the law always accuses. No one is righteous. Sin abounds. And it all stems from our many false gods, the worst of which is to trust in ones own abiltiy to keep the law perfectly.

    We are in good stead with God because of Jesus. That is promised to us in baptism. That is the very good news. No matter what this world throws at us, we have this treasure, even if we land in prison (that happened to Paul). His mercies never end.

  • larry

    Some very earthly virtuous, let us narrow, believers are poor not necessarily due to a direct cause and effect sin, but in fact the weight of the fallen world is against them. Take for example the couple that does not abort nor prevent the birth of their children and receive all and as many as they are blessed to have and thus have “quiver full” of them. Financially in most cases they will find themselves strapped on all sides. Some are poor due to their God placed providence in a third world country. Some are poor in heathen lands DUE TO THE FACT of their faith. And that’s just the money, health and other things come into play as well. The Christian can and should expect the cross and suffering and not necessarily success by whatever measure (health, money, etc…). In fact these crosses and sufferings Paul (and Luther) call the true treasures of Christ, not because there’s some merit inherent to suffering (both were aware of this false glory religion of self appointed meritorious sufferings. No true crosses and suffering are laid upon one for that is the real essence of suffering, not just pain and distress but that one cannot “turn it on and off” at one’s willing, it is beyond one’s willing. Why are these treasures? Because they make room for faith (alone) in the promises/Word (alone) and pull a man from faith in empirical life (idolatry).

    We also confuse cause, especially in things concerning health good or bad. E.g. a smoker gets lung cancer and dies. Immediately theologians of glory assess, it was his cigarettes that “caused” his death. No, not at all, means perhaps, the cause of death is sin without exception.

    Thus, toward heaven wealth or poverty, health or sickness, etc…are neither here nor there. Both can cause a theology of glory depending on which empirical evidence one views as a “sign” of God’s favor, both are false, both are idolatry, both are unbelief.
    Let us look at Christ as our control for he who was sinless, led an utterly sinless life. Did he have “His Best Life Now?” What was the effect? He was not rich (rich man had to give him a tomb, oil was donated via a woman to anoint him) but died in poverty, He never had a place to lay his head like the foxes who had burrows, etc… And at last He was crucified by the very moral “Best Life” Pharisees and very immoral Romans.

  • larry

    Some very earthly virtuous, let us narrow, believers are poor not necessarily due to a direct cause and effect sin, but in fact the weight of the fallen world is against them. Take for example the couple that does not abort nor prevent the birth of their children and receive all and as many as they are blessed to have and thus have “quiver full” of them. Financially in most cases they will find themselves strapped on all sides. Some are poor due to their God placed providence in a third world country. Some are poor in heathen lands DUE TO THE FACT of their faith. And that’s just the money, health and other things come into play as well. The Christian can and should expect the cross and suffering and not necessarily success by whatever measure (health, money, etc…). In fact these crosses and sufferings Paul (and Luther) call the true treasures of Christ, not because there’s some merit inherent to suffering (both were aware of this false glory religion of self appointed meritorious sufferings. No true crosses and suffering are laid upon one for that is the real essence of suffering, not just pain and distress but that one cannot “turn it on and off” at one’s willing, it is beyond one’s willing. Why are these treasures? Because they make room for faith (alone) in the promises/Word (alone) and pull a man from faith in empirical life (idolatry).

    We also confuse cause, especially in things concerning health good or bad. E.g. a smoker gets lung cancer and dies. Immediately theologians of glory assess, it was his cigarettes that “caused” his death. No, not at all, means perhaps, the cause of death is sin without exception.

    Thus, toward heaven wealth or poverty, health or sickness, etc…are neither here nor there. Both can cause a theology of glory depending on which empirical evidence one views as a “sign” of God’s favor, both are false, both are idolatry, both are unbelief.
    Let us look at Christ as our control for he who was sinless, led an utterly sinless life. Did he have “His Best Life Now?” What was the effect? He was not rich (rich man had to give him a tomb, oil was donated via a woman to anoint him) but died in poverty, He never had a place to lay his head like the foxes who had burrows, etc… And at last He was crucified by the very moral “Best Life” Pharisees and very immoral Romans.

  • kerner

    Stephen:

    “Kerner,

    You’re mixing law and gospel (just like bubba). ”

    Yeah. I said I was playing devil’s advocate.

  • kerner

    Stephen:

    “Kerner,

    You’re mixing law and gospel (just like bubba). ”

    Yeah. I said I was playing devil’s advocate.

  • Martin

    Kerner, Larry, Bike and Stephen,
    Given your discussion of the gospel, faith and morals, I would be interested in you all interacting with Mr. Cincinnatus judgemental proposition in comment #22;

    http://www.geneveith.com/2011/08/26/who-the-unchurched-actually-are/#comment-125525

  • Martin

    Kerner, Larry, Bike and Stephen,
    Given your discussion of the gospel, faith and morals, I would be interested in you all interacting with Mr. Cincinnatus judgemental proposition in comment #22;

    http://www.geneveith.com/2011/08/26/who-the-unchurched-actually-are/#comment-125525

  • Cincinnatus

    I won’t deny that my original post was judgmental. And?

    Here’s the First Things article to which I then referred. http://www.firstthings.com/article/2011/05/the-preferential-option-for-the-poor

    I’m merely reciting facts as far as statistics on lower class “morals,” etc., go. You can call me a snob for expressing concern about these facts, as Reno does (much as those who point out high rates of black incarceration are apparently racist), but it is what it is.

  • Cincinnatus

    I won’t deny that my original post was judgmental. And?

    Here’s the First Things article to which I then referred. http://www.firstthings.com/article/2011/05/the-preferential-option-for-the-poor

    I’m merely reciting facts as far as statistics on lower class “morals,” etc., go. You can call me a snob for expressing concern about these facts, as Reno does (much as those who point out high rates of black incarceration are apparently racist), but it is what it is.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I’d rather see Martin (@80) do his own work, rather than asking others to write his comments for him. What, exactly, is your issue, Martin?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I’d rather see Martin (@80) do his own work, rather than asking others to write his comments for him. What, exactly, is your issue, Martin?

  • kerner

    Cincinnatus:

    Is there an answer in history, do you think? I’m just talking off the top of my head, without any statistics to back me up. But, haven’t there been times throughout western European history when the morals of the lower economic classes were as bad as they are now? What was done in the past to improve them?

    I mean, as a Lutheran, I really hesitate to point to American revivalism, but did the great awakening have anything to do with it?

    As I say, I don’t have the answers at hand. For the moment I’m just asking questions.

  • kerner

    Cincinnatus:

    Is there an answer in history, do you think? I’m just talking off the top of my head, without any statistics to back me up. But, haven’t there been times throughout western European history when the morals of the lower economic classes were as bad as they are now? What was done in the past to improve them?

    I mean, as a Lutheran, I really hesitate to point to American revivalism, but did the great awakening have anything to do with it?

    As I say, I don’t have the answers at hand. For the moment I’m just asking questions.

  • larry

    First of all the proposition that the “morals” of the “lower class” now or then or anytime is worse than some form of an upper class is a complete false distinction. It is assumed based mainly on what is perceived as “baser sins” that occur more openly in lower classes that their morals are worse.

    We confuse “crude” with “sin” and then compare it to “sophistication” as if it is “virtue” or not sin, this perpetuates the error: e.g. upper classes tend to mask their sins more because external appearance is what really counts. E.g. CS Lewis point on what is real gluttony. There’s the open glutton who tends to be poor and exhibits their gluttony, then there is the svelte upper class prim and proper lady her turns her nose up at the open glutton but sneers at food that doesn’t meet her expectation. She is a “hidden” glutton (same thing with dry drunk versus a wet drunk). The lower class sin might be to rob a liquor store, but the upper class sin of usury is well accepted. Yet both are robbery and a NOT loving of the neighbor, on just looks cleaner than the other, one is on the dirty side and the other the clean side of the broad road that leads to hell. A lower class individual may use more crass language to bear false witness against his neighbor, while the upper crust snips with more erudite sounding cuts to accomplish the same false witness.

    Then there is the broader reality, ALL, without exception apart from faith is sin and damnable such that if one was a doctor, saved 1000s of lives, a great father to their children, a dedicated husband to their wife, altruistic above all his whole entire life without interruption – his works become a martyrdom to his perdition.

    So there really is no situation when the morals of some lower class is worse than some upper class, we tend to be blinded by perceived glory works and white wash that looks better than the rougher more crass appearances of the gross sins.

    The (Best Life Now) upper crust rich young ruler completely puffed up by his façade said he always kept the commandments, never murdered, robbed, committed adultery. However, he comes to find out that his “best life now” status and commandment keeping damns him because he forgot the head and chief of all “faith” and rather had faith in the creatures (what do I lack), denying God as his God (creature bound will to the Creator) and thus by the law keeping attempting to be god himself.

    Jesus said that the tax collectors (think pimp party animals) and prostitutes would see the kingdom of God before the Pharisees (think pious good guy), because Christ knows how the later are blinded by the radiance of works. Yet we look at the outward crass foulness of the former and assess “more sin” than the later. Thus, we make Christ’s point all the more real, blinded by the radiance of works.

    The fallen world is the fallen world and the crassness of sin versus the whitewash of sin is going to wax and wane. Money, tends to be a pacifier for persons who with a lot of it put on a good show, but take it away and the fallen monster reveals his/her real essential temperament. Take a fairly well to do person and remove their resources and then watch if they don’t turn ever increasingly to illegal crass sins to survive. This is the essence of what is behind “give us this day our daily bread” or as Luther prayed in an expanded form based on this and the Psalms, “give us this day ONLY our daily bread, lest we be FILLED and deny Thee saying, ‘who is the Lord our God’, or lest we go in want and profane Your name by stealing.”

  • larry

    First of all the proposition that the “morals” of the “lower class” now or then or anytime is worse than some form of an upper class is a complete false distinction. It is assumed based mainly on what is perceived as “baser sins” that occur more openly in lower classes that their morals are worse.

    We confuse “crude” with “sin” and then compare it to “sophistication” as if it is “virtue” or not sin, this perpetuates the error: e.g. upper classes tend to mask their sins more because external appearance is what really counts. E.g. CS Lewis point on what is real gluttony. There’s the open glutton who tends to be poor and exhibits their gluttony, then there is the svelte upper class prim and proper lady her turns her nose up at the open glutton but sneers at food that doesn’t meet her expectation. She is a “hidden” glutton (same thing with dry drunk versus a wet drunk). The lower class sin might be to rob a liquor store, but the upper class sin of usury is well accepted. Yet both are robbery and a NOT loving of the neighbor, on just looks cleaner than the other, one is on the dirty side and the other the clean side of the broad road that leads to hell. A lower class individual may use more crass language to bear false witness against his neighbor, while the upper crust snips with more erudite sounding cuts to accomplish the same false witness.

    Then there is the broader reality, ALL, without exception apart from faith is sin and damnable such that if one was a doctor, saved 1000s of lives, a great father to their children, a dedicated husband to their wife, altruistic above all his whole entire life without interruption – his works become a martyrdom to his perdition.

    So there really is no situation when the morals of some lower class is worse than some upper class, we tend to be blinded by perceived glory works and white wash that looks better than the rougher more crass appearances of the gross sins.

    The (Best Life Now) upper crust rich young ruler completely puffed up by his façade said he always kept the commandments, never murdered, robbed, committed adultery. However, he comes to find out that his “best life now” status and commandment keeping damns him because he forgot the head and chief of all “faith” and rather had faith in the creatures (what do I lack), denying God as his God (creature bound will to the Creator) and thus by the law keeping attempting to be god himself.

    Jesus said that the tax collectors (think pimp party animals) and prostitutes would see the kingdom of God before the Pharisees (think pious good guy), because Christ knows how the later are blinded by the radiance of works. Yet we look at the outward crass foulness of the former and assess “more sin” than the later. Thus, we make Christ’s point all the more real, blinded by the radiance of works.

    The fallen world is the fallen world and the crassness of sin versus the whitewash of sin is going to wax and wane. Money, tends to be a pacifier for persons who with a lot of it put on a good show, but take it away and the fallen monster reveals his/her real essential temperament. Take a fairly well to do person and remove their resources and then watch if they don’t turn ever increasingly to illegal crass sins to survive. This is the essence of what is behind “give us this day our daily bread” or as Luther prayed in an expanded form based on this and the Psalms, “give us this day ONLY our daily bread, lest we be FILLED and deny Thee saying, ‘who is the Lord our God’, or lest we go in want and profane Your name by stealing.”

  • Cincinnatus

    larry: You’ve missed the point spectacularly. What we’re talking about here are not minor “vices” or major transgressions, secret or public. Or maybe they are. That’s really beside the point. At issue here are the basic social moral codes that make ordered communal life possible–marital fidelity, sexual modesty, thrift, diligence, basic manners, common decency, etc. The American lower classes have essentially cast all these to the wind, at great cost not only to themselves but to American society as a whole.

    Kerner raises an interesting question: could mass revival be the answer? Is that even a viable proposition? Kerner is correct to observer that, in the United States (and England and German), popular religious revivals have usually correlated in a decline in vice and moral lassitude among the “commoners.”

  • Cincinnatus

    larry: You’ve missed the point spectacularly. What we’re talking about here are not minor “vices” or major transgressions, secret or public. Or maybe they are. That’s really beside the point. At issue here are the basic social moral codes that make ordered communal life possible–marital fidelity, sexual modesty, thrift, diligence, basic manners, common decency, etc. The American lower classes have essentially cast all these to the wind, at great cost not only to themselves but to American society as a whole.

    Kerner raises an interesting question: could mass revival be the answer? Is that even a viable proposition? Kerner is correct to observer that, in the United States (and England and German), popular religious revivals have usually correlated in a decline in vice and moral lassitude among the “commoners.”

  • larry

    Cincin,

    Actually I have not missed the point at all and understand perfectly that’s what’s being discussed. I was not talking about “vices” but sins, because if it’s truly immoral then its sin. All societies employ some version of moral codes for the sake of stability because the Law is fundamentally written on every fallen human heart without exception. This is why the conscience accuses, usually with a crass sin, or excuses, usually with an acceptable sin.

    The blame always goes to the “lower class” and the so called “upper class” is preached as better. That’s the comparison made. I come from the lower class of which I would consider myself financially and my family history, blue collar – yet I grew up in an a VERY conservative family, marine father and we (and many other lower class fellows we knew) were very morally conservative second to none, and where taught nothing but the “basic social moral codes that make ordered communal life possible–marital fidelity, sexual modesty, thrift, diligence, basic manners, common decency, etc.” We didn’t try to earn money by loaning it out to a needy person then gain interest off of it, if you needed you’d get it. I saw my own father make a deal with a man on some inherited farm land he was selling on a hand shake, was offered a few weeks later a LOT more money for the land and there was no contract beholding him to the first man. And he turned the second man down saying, “No I gave this man my word” and he sold it to the first man at a significant loss to himself and we could have CERTAINLY used the extra money. You know one of those fidelities (a poor lower class man’s word) you prattle about. When disaster struck us when I was young, and one finds out REALLY who exercises those “the basic social moral codes that make ordered communal life possible…” we and many more during a natural disaster found ourselves without a home for a long time. It was those fellow lower class folks that helped us and many others out, opened their homes to us to live in as long as we needed free of charge, helped us rebuild, fed us and generally exercised great love for their neighbors. These “lower class” individuals exercised as you say, “the basic social moral codes that make ordered communal life possible–marital fidelity, sexual modesty, thrift, diligence, basic manners, common decency, etc.”

    However, when one looks at some upper class examples, say Hollywood or such who are exceedingly rich and upper class, it is they who have, how was it you put it, ah yes, “essentially cast all these to the wind, at great cost not only to themselves but to American society as a whole”. It is these you hear constantly of the 15th divorce, abort their children, prevent their births.

    Having given counter examples and said that, the issue is not really about lower class versus upper class at all as if one or the other produces something moral. I now have many good and upstanding fairly well off friends and extended family too. The reality is that sinners too rich forget their God and sin immorally as do equally those in want find themselves stealing and profane His name.

    The American lower classes are not the sole guilty ones in casting off all these to the wind, in fact its been the more middle to upper class that have altered “the basic social moral codes that make ordered communal life possible–marital fidelity, sexual modesty, thrift, diligence, basic manners, common decency, etc.” Most of these basic tenets have been altered not by the lower class but the middle to upper class. Most poor folks I run into are exceedingly faithful in their marriages, sexually modest, VERY thrifty because the HAVE to be, work 60-80 hour weeks often two jobs often very physical labor, and I hear a LOT of “Yes sir, no thank you maam” from children raised in very modest homes. In fact the talk back to you, no respect for elders, unfettered brats tend to come from the better off homes.

    So your having missed the point is legendary.

  • larry

    Cincin,

    Actually I have not missed the point at all and understand perfectly that’s what’s being discussed. I was not talking about “vices” but sins, because if it’s truly immoral then its sin. All societies employ some version of moral codes for the sake of stability because the Law is fundamentally written on every fallen human heart without exception. This is why the conscience accuses, usually with a crass sin, or excuses, usually with an acceptable sin.

    The blame always goes to the “lower class” and the so called “upper class” is preached as better. That’s the comparison made. I come from the lower class of which I would consider myself financially and my family history, blue collar – yet I grew up in an a VERY conservative family, marine father and we (and many other lower class fellows we knew) were very morally conservative second to none, and where taught nothing but the “basic social moral codes that make ordered communal life possible–marital fidelity, sexual modesty, thrift, diligence, basic manners, common decency, etc.” We didn’t try to earn money by loaning it out to a needy person then gain interest off of it, if you needed you’d get it. I saw my own father make a deal with a man on some inherited farm land he was selling on a hand shake, was offered a few weeks later a LOT more money for the land and there was no contract beholding him to the first man. And he turned the second man down saying, “No I gave this man my word” and he sold it to the first man at a significant loss to himself and we could have CERTAINLY used the extra money. You know one of those fidelities (a poor lower class man’s word) you prattle about. When disaster struck us when I was young, and one finds out REALLY who exercises those “the basic social moral codes that make ordered communal life possible…” we and many more during a natural disaster found ourselves without a home for a long time. It was those fellow lower class folks that helped us and many others out, opened their homes to us to live in as long as we needed free of charge, helped us rebuild, fed us and generally exercised great love for their neighbors. These “lower class” individuals exercised as you say, “the basic social moral codes that make ordered communal life possible–marital fidelity, sexual modesty, thrift, diligence, basic manners, common decency, etc.”

    However, when one looks at some upper class examples, say Hollywood or such who are exceedingly rich and upper class, it is they who have, how was it you put it, ah yes, “essentially cast all these to the wind, at great cost not only to themselves but to American society as a whole”. It is these you hear constantly of the 15th divorce, abort their children, prevent their births.

    Having given counter examples and said that, the issue is not really about lower class versus upper class at all as if one or the other produces something moral. I now have many good and upstanding fairly well off friends and extended family too. The reality is that sinners too rich forget their God and sin immorally as do equally those in want find themselves stealing and profane His name.

    The American lower classes are not the sole guilty ones in casting off all these to the wind, in fact its been the more middle to upper class that have altered “the basic social moral codes that make ordered communal life possible–marital fidelity, sexual modesty, thrift, diligence, basic manners, common decency, etc.” Most of these basic tenets have been altered not by the lower class but the middle to upper class. Most poor folks I run into are exceedingly faithful in their marriages, sexually modest, VERY thrifty because the HAVE to be, work 60-80 hour weeks often two jobs often very physical labor, and I hear a LOT of “Yes sir, no thank you maam” from children raised in very modest homes. In fact the talk back to you, no respect for elders, unfettered brats tend to come from the better off homes.

    So your having missed the point is legendary.

  • Cincinnatus

    larry: As I acknowledged earlier, the aristocrats have always been, well, “the aristocrats” to a greater or lesser degree. The comparatively rich in America are a small class and always will be, and it is a huge copout to blame anything on them, including the decline in American morality.

    But, no, you apparently did not read my posts or do any research of your own: the American bourgeois/middle class is doing a far better job at maintaining the social virtues, morals, and ethical codes that enable community life than the lower/blue collar/working classes. This is a fact. They are also more religious. Instead of complaining that I’m being judgmental or reciting tired histories of your family and anecdotes about the “working poor,” why don’t you take a stab at interpreting the facts? I too was raised by a working class family in a fairly isolated working class town. My own family was very conservative, but (and I’m probably a bit younger than you) the children of the formerly noble working families that populated my town–and thousands of other towns across America–were moral basketcases at all levels both public and private.

  • Cincinnatus

    larry: As I acknowledged earlier, the aristocrats have always been, well, “the aristocrats” to a greater or lesser degree. The comparatively rich in America are a small class and always will be, and it is a huge copout to blame anything on them, including the decline in American morality.

    But, no, you apparently did not read my posts or do any research of your own: the American bourgeois/middle class is doing a far better job at maintaining the social virtues, morals, and ethical codes that enable community life than the lower/blue collar/working classes. This is a fact. They are also more religious. Instead of complaining that I’m being judgmental or reciting tired histories of your family and anecdotes about the “working poor,” why don’t you take a stab at interpreting the facts? I too was raised by a working class family in a fairly isolated working class town. My own family was very conservative, but (and I’m probably a bit younger than you) the children of the formerly noble working families that populated my town–and thousands of other towns across America–were moral basketcases at all levels both public and private.

  • Cincinnatus

    In short, your cataloguing of working families who allegedly work 80 hour weeks and say “sir” and “ma’am” are connected more to nostalgia than to the actual facts supplied by demography.

  • Cincinnatus

    In short, your cataloguing of working families who allegedly work 80 hour weeks and say “sir” and “ma’am” are connected more to nostalgia than to the actual facts supplied by demography.

  • Martin

    tODD, I would rather see you stop being a self appointed moderator of sorts. Why is it wrong for me to suggest the discussion would be interesting, while you scorn me for it? This is Gene’s blog, I assume, unless he ascribed the role of moderator to you.

    Cincinnatus, seems your study is skewed by the fact that only the poor and lower classes are “caught” and/or “punished”. The rich and upper classes literally get away with murder, theft, adultery and the whole nine yards because they can cover it up and they can hire lawyers to get it swept under the carpet. The link you pointed to is totally unconvincing.

  • Martin

    tODD, I would rather see you stop being a self appointed moderator of sorts. Why is it wrong for me to suggest the discussion would be interesting, while you scorn me for it? This is Gene’s blog, I assume, unless he ascribed the role of moderator to you.

    Cincinnatus, seems your study is skewed by the fact that only the poor and lower classes are “caught” and/or “punished”. The rich and upper classes literally get away with murder, theft, adultery and the whole nine yards because they can cover it up and they can hire lawyers to get it swept under the carpet. The link you pointed to is totally unconvincing.

  • Cincinnatus

    Martin@89: Again, you’re misunderstanding the problem. Of course, you don’t have to be convinced by the particular link I provided, which is an editorial not a study. But there are reams of statistics on this question.

    Anyway, let’s assume for the sake of discussion that your rather conspiratorial claim is correct: that the “rich and upper classes literally get away with murder, theft, and adultery” because they have the means to obscure their crimes. Maybe this is so. Probably it has always been so. What is your point? The rich are a tiny minority of the population. Their dalliances can’t bring down society single-handedly. Meanwhile, there are scores of millions of members of the lower/working classes, and statistical studies show that, in comparison with the middle (not necessarily the upper) class, they are, to be as simplistic as possible, not as virtuous. This is a major problem for our society.

  • Cincinnatus

    Martin@89: Again, you’re misunderstanding the problem. Of course, you don’t have to be convinced by the particular link I provided, which is an editorial not a study. But there are reams of statistics on this question.

    Anyway, let’s assume for the sake of discussion that your rather conspiratorial claim is correct: that the “rich and upper classes literally get away with murder, theft, and adultery” because they have the means to obscure their crimes. Maybe this is so. Probably it has always been so. What is your point? The rich are a tiny minority of the population. Their dalliances can’t bring down society single-handedly. Meanwhile, there are scores of millions of members of the lower/working classes, and statistical studies show that, in comparison with the middle (not necessarily the upper) class, they are, to be as simplistic as possible, not as virtuous. This is a major problem for our society.

  • Martin

    Cincinnatus, it wouldn’t surprise me if it were true that the middle class was quantifiably more virtuous than the lower classes. However, I’m wondering if this has a correlation, either direct or indirect, to church attendence? I’m not convinced that regular church going is the key. For instance, African Americans have an extremely high level of church attendence and as far as I know this is not dependent upon social class.

    Perhaps, rather than church-going, it is deep commitment to Biblical study. I have known men who hadn’t picked up a single book since they were in 11th grade who now read their Bibles daily, and read regularly of good Christian authors, AND also have become decent blog authors. I’ve known guys like this who eventually went to seminary or returned to college after becoming a Christian. My brother read only catalogs before he became a Christian, and now 10 years later, he has graduated from college with a 3.7. Before that, he was a C student when he went to k-12.

    As far as virtues go, it would seem that going from lifetime subscription to the corps of manual labor to becoming one among the white collar professional ranks does something to one’s psyche and self-expections – for the better and in some ways for worse.

    There may be something to it, but I’d rather see some sort of study.

  • Martin

    Cincinnatus, it wouldn’t surprise me if it were true that the middle class was quantifiably more virtuous than the lower classes. However, I’m wondering if this has a correlation, either direct or indirect, to church attendence? I’m not convinced that regular church going is the key. For instance, African Americans have an extremely high level of church attendence and as far as I know this is not dependent upon social class.

    Perhaps, rather than church-going, it is deep commitment to Biblical study. I have known men who hadn’t picked up a single book since they were in 11th grade who now read their Bibles daily, and read regularly of good Christian authors, AND also have become decent blog authors. I’ve known guys like this who eventually went to seminary or returned to college after becoming a Christian. My brother read only catalogs before he became a Christian, and now 10 years later, he has graduated from college with a 3.7. Before that, he was a C student when he went to k-12.

    As far as virtues go, it would seem that going from lifetime subscription to the corps of manual labor to becoming one among the white collar professional ranks does something to one’s psyche and self-expections – for the better and in some ways for worse.

    There may be something to it, but I’d rather see some sort of study.

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  • http://Www.Toddstadler.com tODD

    Martin (@89) said, “tODD, I would rather see you stop being a self appointed moderator of sorts.” So you decided to appoint yourself moderator to show me how terrible it is when people suggest what other people should talk about? Which is what you did in the first place?

    Or is it possible that suggesting what people should or shouldn’t say, as you’ve done twice now, isn’t actually tantamount to being a “self appointed moderator”?

    Anyhow, I asked you to clarify your issue for me, but I guess you thought having this pedantic discussion was more important.

  • http://Www.Toddstadler.com tODD

    Martin (@89) said, “tODD, I would rather see you stop being a self appointed moderator of sorts.” So you decided to appoint yourself moderator to show me how terrible it is when people suggest what other people should talk about? Which is what you did in the first place?

    Or is it possible that suggesting what people should or shouldn’t say, as you’ve done twice now, isn’t actually tantamount to being a “self appointed moderator”?

    Anyhow, I asked you to clarify your issue for me, but I guess you thought having this pedantic discussion was more important.

  • Martin

    Don’t even try it t ODD. I saw a possible connection — which by the way panned out quite interestingly — between the conversation that larry, Kerner, and stephen were having about law and grace and the other thread that was happening within the comments. I simply asked whether folks might want to engage it. As it turns out, the conversation has been quite fruitful (up until #92 that is).

    Being interested in creating engagement on a worthwhile (and not at all pedantic) topic looks ALOT different from telling someone to effectively ‘shut up’ in your self-moderator way that I have seen before. Admit it. You think you are ruler of Veith’s blog comments. Fess up.

  • Martin

    Don’t even try it t ODD. I saw a possible connection — which by the way panned out quite interestingly — between the conversation that larry, Kerner, and stephen were having about law and grace and the other thread that was happening within the comments. I simply asked whether folks might want to engage it. As it turns out, the conversation has been quite fruitful (up until #92 that is).

    Being interested in creating engagement on a worthwhile (and not at all pedantic) topic looks ALOT different from telling someone to effectively ‘shut up’ in your self-moderator way that I have seen before. Admit it. You think you are ruler of Veith’s blog comments. Fess up.

  • jbo

    I’m sure this comment thread is dead now, but I thought I would at least see if anyone has anything to comment on about the relationship between science and religion. That is, is the perception of the uneducated as creationists and the highly educated as “evolutionists” (origin of species, life, big bang, etc…) accurate? Or is there another distinction within the different denominations and their education and the education of those that hold these views of science? I don’t know, maybe this isn’t going to go anywhere in particular…

  • jbo

    I’m sure this comment thread is dead now, but I thought I would at least see if anyone has anything to comment on about the relationship between science and religion. That is, is the perception of the uneducated as creationists and the highly educated as “evolutionists” (origin of species, life, big bang, etc…) accurate? Or is there another distinction within the different denominations and their education and the education of those that hold these views of science? I don’t know, maybe this isn’t going to go anywhere in particular…

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Martin (@93), it sounds like you have some issues to work out:

    Being interested in creating engagement on a worthwhile (and not at all pedantic) topic looks ALOT different from telling someone to effectively ‘shut up’ in your self-moderator way that I have seen before.

    It’s a funny way I have to tell you to “effectively ‘shut up’” by asking you to explain what you meant (cf. “What, exactly, is your issue, Martin?” @82).

    I don’t know why you feel inferior to me, but I’m just a commenter, like you. Is there a reason you think I can’t voice my opinions, but you have free rein to tell others what they should or shouldn’t talk about?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Martin (@93), it sounds like you have some issues to work out:

    Being interested in creating engagement on a worthwhile (and not at all pedantic) topic looks ALOT different from telling someone to effectively ‘shut up’ in your self-moderator way that I have seen before.

    It’s a funny way I have to tell you to “effectively ‘shut up’” by asking you to explain what you meant (cf. “What, exactly, is your issue, Martin?” @82).

    I don’t know why you feel inferior to me, but I’m just a commenter, like you. Is there a reason you think I can’t voice my opinions, but you have free rein to tell others what they should or shouldn’t talk about?

  • larry

    Cincin,

    You like to huff and puff a lot about facts yet comment about my ‘tired old recitation of my family/life/experience’, then say what I state is based more on nostalgia and thus conveniently ignoring the FACT that the reason I’m giving these examples is because they are – as you pretend to spout -ACTUAL FACTS and not heady nostalgic hypotheticals that never happened. I was not reciting nostalgia but reality that happened, so you are either calling me a liar or ignoring reality. And “research by Google” hardly passes as real research. Try defending a thesis by citing as source material, “Google”. So spare me your pretend “I have facts you don’t” BS.

    Second in your “fact” searching that the highly prized middle to upper classes are so exceptionally virtuous and moral goes back to the difference between crass sins that offend the eye and pious whitewash sin that are treasured idolatries by many (the point I was making). So its not at all surprising that a fallen pharisaical mind set that is mesmerized by the shine of white wash thinks they see virtue in places where white wash dominates, and sees immorality “more” where white wash is not so much utilized.

    Thirdly, your entire “fact driven” argument is overthrown by the FACT that the US is the country with the highest percentage middle class but yet is also the country in which the highest number and occurrence of violent crimes occur such rape and murder. One is more likely to be raped or murdered or suffer some other violent crime in this by in large very virtuous middle class country by a statistical long shot than in many third world countries.

    Returning back to the question of church going and the evil sin producing “lower class”, while it is not possible to exhaust why every single individual stops going, by in large many stop going BECAUSE the “churches” they attended where of the kind Bubba spoke and lauded who basically preach their pagan message disguised as Christian of law and moralism. Because that’s all they are served up is this other gospel and other christ. They are not served with the Gospel Word or the body and blood of Christ to feast upon at all, rather they are given to eat Sunday after Sunday an overly baked dried husk of dull moralisms, best life’s now and pretend “law” served with a thin sauce of religion so that they can attempt force it down without choking to death.

    Finally, the ENTIRE proposition from a Christian point of view that one would sit and point at one class over another and say, “See X is ‘more’ immoral than Y and needs to be cowed down with some moral preaching”, is antichristic and pagan to the hilt. A church that does not clearly and constantly preach Christ and Him crucified for the forgiveness of your sins in Word and REAL sacrament, really is not a church at all but a false church.

    I realize real and true facts that really and truly happen measurably in time and space tend to bother Cincinnatus as hypothetical nostalgic imaginations, but just a month ago I was talking to one of my “grew up lower blue collar working class” now middle class friends and he was bothered by his reformed church in which he grew up from birth and thinking of leaving the denomination. He couldn’t quite put his finger on it what was bothering him. In passing I mentioned what is being preached and sung to you in the church, what Christ did for you or “what you are gonna do for Christ and improve upon”. It was like a bolt of lightening to him and he replied, “I think you’ve nailed what I couldn’t quite put my finger but has been bothering me”. So I passed on to him a CD of Dr. Rosenbladts wonderful two part conference series on “For Those Broken By The Church” and The Gospel. A few weeks passed and I didn’t push the issue and when we met again he’d listen to it with his brothers on a trip and told me, “That was great. My brother and I were listening to it and looked at each other saying, “Where can I hear more of THAT.” Then told me he was going to pass this on to his parents, much older folks (and very conservative blue collar folks), struggling too in their life long family reformed church. And I can repeat a story like this that actually factually happened more than once first hand and directly second hand time and time again.

    You want to know why many, not just blue collar lower class folks no longer attend church? Because most of the heterodox (and if Lutherans are not too careful) either never did or don’t any longer preach even a minimal “Christ and Him crucified” in Word, have no Gospel Sacraments and bury them under their doctrines and at length they can basically get the good moral message from any pagan outlet.

    Tell the starving African that if “he’ll just try harder God may bless him” and see how that flies for long. There is no true faith and hope in such an antichristic message disguised as Christ.

  • larry

    Cincin,

    You like to huff and puff a lot about facts yet comment about my ‘tired old recitation of my family/life/experience’, then say what I state is based more on nostalgia and thus conveniently ignoring the FACT that the reason I’m giving these examples is because they are – as you pretend to spout -ACTUAL FACTS and not heady nostalgic hypotheticals that never happened. I was not reciting nostalgia but reality that happened, so you are either calling me a liar or ignoring reality. And “research by Google” hardly passes as real research. Try defending a thesis by citing as source material, “Google”. So spare me your pretend “I have facts you don’t” BS.

    Second in your “fact” searching that the highly prized middle to upper classes are so exceptionally virtuous and moral goes back to the difference between crass sins that offend the eye and pious whitewash sin that are treasured idolatries by many (the point I was making). So its not at all surprising that a fallen pharisaical mind set that is mesmerized by the shine of white wash thinks they see virtue in places where white wash dominates, and sees immorality “more” where white wash is not so much utilized.

    Thirdly, your entire “fact driven” argument is overthrown by the FACT that the US is the country with the highest percentage middle class but yet is also the country in which the highest number and occurrence of violent crimes occur such rape and murder. One is more likely to be raped or murdered or suffer some other violent crime in this by in large very virtuous middle class country by a statistical long shot than in many third world countries.

    Returning back to the question of church going and the evil sin producing “lower class”, while it is not possible to exhaust why every single individual stops going, by in large many stop going BECAUSE the “churches” they attended where of the kind Bubba spoke and lauded who basically preach their pagan message disguised as Christian of law and moralism. Because that’s all they are served up is this other gospel and other christ. They are not served with the Gospel Word or the body and blood of Christ to feast upon at all, rather they are given to eat Sunday after Sunday an overly baked dried husk of dull moralisms, best life’s now and pretend “law” served with a thin sauce of religion so that they can attempt force it down without choking to death.

    Finally, the ENTIRE proposition from a Christian point of view that one would sit and point at one class over another and say, “See X is ‘more’ immoral than Y and needs to be cowed down with some moral preaching”, is antichristic and pagan to the hilt. A church that does not clearly and constantly preach Christ and Him crucified for the forgiveness of your sins in Word and REAL sacrament, really is not a church at all but a false church.

    I realize real and true facts that really and truly happen measurably in time and space tend to bother Cincinnatus as hypothetical nostalgic imaginations, but just a month ago I was talking to one of my “grew up lower blue collar working class” now middle class friends and he was bothered by his reformed church in which he grew up from birth and thinking of leaving the denomination. He couldn’t quite put his finger on it what was bothering him. In passing I mentioned what is being preached and sung to you in the church, what Christ did for you or “what you are gonna do for Christ and improve upon”. It was like a bolt of lightening to him and he replied, “I think you’ve nailed what I couldn’t quite put my finger but has been bothering me”. So I passed on to him a CD of Dr. Rosenbladts wonderful two part conference series on “For Those Broken By The Church” and The Gospel. A few weeks passed and I didn’t push the issue and when we met again he’d listen to it with his brothers on a trip and told me, “That was great. My brother and I were listening to it and looked at each other saying, “Where can I hear more of THAT.” Then told me he was going to pass this on to his parents, much older folks (and very conservative blue collar folks), struggling too in their life long family reformed church. And I can repeat a story like this that actually factually happened more than once first hand and directly second hand time and time again.

    You want to know why many, not just blue collar lower class folks no longer attend church? Because most of the heterodox (and if Lutherans are not too careful) either never did or don’t any longer preach even a minimal “Christ and Him crucified” in Word, have no Gospel Sacraments and bury them under their doctrines and at length they can basically get the good moral message from any pagan outlet.

    Tell the starving African that if “he’ll just try harder God may bless him” and see how that flies for long. There is no true faith and hope in such an antichristic message disguised as Christ.

  • Cincinnatus

    Martin,

    No need to be huffy and indignant. We’re having a civil debate here. So let’s continue:

    First, while your anecdotes may well be factual–I have no reason to doubt you–they do not constitute rigorous evidence. I, too, knew many, many good, honest working people of the classic mold who exemplify precisely the virtues we’ve been outlining. But isolated anecdotes cannot form the stable basis for a theory. If you want anecdotes, I could provide countless examples. Merely spend some time in a decaying industrial city with some of the white “townies.” Have a conversation, if you can stomach it. Ask them the details of their personal lives, if, due to their utter lack of scruples, they don’t simply share the gory details unsolicited. But I have statistics on my side. I could provide a long bibliography of studies, books, and articles on the topic, but I simply haven’t the time at the moment (also, comments with more than two links aren’t allowed to be posted without moderation). Here’s just one: http://www.nationalaffairs.com/publications/detail/the-evolution-of-divorce

    I could cite dozens more if you like. One of the theses of this particular article is to interpret statistics demonstrating, essentially, that America’s lower classes are marrying less often and getting divorced more–both in relation to themselves in previous decades and in relation to their current middle and upper class counterparts.

    Second, your continual reversion to the alleged sins of the rich is irrelevant, primarily because they are such a small proportion of the population. They have probably always been a cancerous influence, and God knows the shenanigans in Wall Street and Washington have done great damage to our nation. But what exactly are they doing in their personal lives to destroy the fabric of society? What exactly are these shadowy sins obscured by “white wash” that are “worse” than anything perpetrated by the (non)working poor? And how is it relevant? And why is my concern that the large working class in America is literally falling apart morally speaking? This seems to be an example of class conspiracy and envy rather than an attempt to get to the bottom of actual moral problems afflicting American society.

    Third, your assertion that the United States “boasts” a higher rate of violent crimes like rape and murder is simply, laughably false. Our rates for those crimes are modestly higher than some nations in Europe, but, for example, South Africa has a murder rate 34 times higher than the American rate. Don’t even start on Latin America, etc. I don’t even know how that’s relevant. America has more middle class people than other countries so middle class people must be more murderous? What about Brazil, with a small (but growing) middle class and horrifying murder rates? In fact, the vast majority of murders in the United States are committed by a largely black underclass. I suggest you drop this argument before digging your hole deeper, as I can’t see any way this line of thinking will help you.

    Finally, your most significant argument is the one about moralism and pharasaism, etc. It is a good one. But I am not being a pharisee. Granted, my emphasis has been slightly different than Veith’s in the original post: my original intention was simply to pose the question of whether the staggering moral crisis in America’s lower classes–which, again, is factual–has anything to do with their steep decline in church attendance/participation. No, I am not suggesting that the Church preach law instead of Gospel. No, I am not claiming that the true value of Christianity is in its tendency to promote social order and virtue. But I do think, nonetheless, that social order and virtue are important things in themselves, that the lower classes have lost both, and that their declining religious participation may have something to do with it. I don’t know if it has. That’s why I asked. But to go off on tangents about how the rich are (allegedly) even more immoral behind closed doors or on anecdotal accounts of your working class friends is to ignore the scope of the problem.

    (btw, most of your “anecdotes” actually corroborate my point, not yours: you know plenty of formerly blue collar folks who have ascended to the middle class and, accordingly, conformed to bourgeois virtue)

  • Cincinnatus

    Martin,

    No need to be huffy and indignant. We’re having a civil debate here. So let’s continue:

    First, while your anecdotes may well be factual–I have no reason to doubt you–they do not constitute rigorous evidence. I, too, knew many, many good, honest working people of the classic mold who exemplify precisely the virtues we’ve been outlining. But isolated anecdotes cannot form the stable basis for a theory. If you want anecdotes, I could provide countless examples. Merely spend some time in a decaying industrial city with some of the white “townies.” Have a conversation, if you can stomach it. Ask them the details of their personal lives, if, due to their utter lack of scruples, they don’t simply share the gory details unsolicited. But I have statistics on my side. I could provide a long bibliography of studies, books, and articles on the topic, but I simply haven’t the time at the moment (also, comments with more than two links aren’t allowed to be posted without moderation). Here’s just one: http://www.nationalaffairs.com/publications/detail/the-evolution-of-divorce

    I could cite dozens more if you like. One of the theses of this particular article is to interpret statistics demonstrating, essentially, that America’s lower classes are marrying less often and getting divorced more–both in relation to themselves in previous decades and in relation to their current middle and upper class counterparts.

    Second, your continual reversion to the alleged sins of the rich is irrelevant, primarily because they are such a small proportion of the population. They have probably always been a cancerous influence, and God knows the shenanigans in Wall Street and Washington have done great damage to our nation. But what exactly are they doing in their personal lives to destroy the fabric of society? What exactly are these shadowy sins obscured by “white wash” that are “worse” than anything perpetrated by the (non)working poor? And how is it relevant? And why is my concern that the large working class in America is literally falling apart morally speaking? This seems to be an example of class conspiracy and envy rather than an attempt to get to the bottom of actual moral problems afflicting American society.

    Third, your assertion that the United States “boasts” a higher rate of violent crimes like rape and murder is simply, laughably false. Our rates for those crimes are modestly higher than some nations in Europe, but, for example, South Africa has a murder rate 34 times higher than the American rate. Don’t even start on Latin America, etc. I don’t even know how that’s relevant. America has more middle class people than other countries so middle class people must be more murderous? What about Brazil, with a small (but growing) middle class and horrifying murder rates? In fact, the vast majority of murders in the United States are committed by a largely black underclass. I suggest you drop this argument before digging your hole deeper, as I can’t see any way this line of thinking will help you.

    Finally, your most significant argument is the one about moralism and pharasaism, etc. It is a good one. But I am not being a pharisee. Granted, my emphasis has been slightly different than Veith’s in the original post: my original intention was simply to pose the question of whether the staggering moral crisis in America’s lower classes–which, again, is factual–has anything to do with their steep decline in church attendance/participation. No, I am not suggesting that the Church preach law instead of Gospel. No, I am not claiming that the true value of Christianity is in its tendency to promote social order and virtue. But I do think, nonetheless, that social order and virtue are important things in themselves, that the lower classes have lost both, and that their declining religious participation may have something to do with it. I don’t know if it has. That’s why I asked. But to go off on tangents about how the rich are (allegedly) even more immoral behind closed doors or on anecdotal accounts of your working class friends is to ignore the scope of the problem.

    (btw, most of your “anecdotes” actually corroborate my point, not yours: you know plenty of formerly blue collar folks who have ascended to the middle class and, accordingly, conformed to bourgeois virtue)

  • larry

    Cincin,

    I think you mean Larry.

    You misunderstand me, I’m not angry or indignant at all, I understand this is a civil debate so don’t think incorrectly that I’m upset with you.

    First of all, these are not mere anecdotes. Your division of poor (experience) in the down urban areas obscures the reality of the poor I grew up around in the more rural areas. So the division is not in reality poor versus middle class versus upper class. Merely spend some time in the exceedingly morally conservative rural areas of lower middle class to poor and you will find an entirely different picture from your urban industrial decay centers. The division there is not poor versus rich, but culture.

    Second, in scientific inquiry, which I’m well aware of and use daily, statistics by definition are not facts but the manipulation of facts in order to assess some cause and effect (sometimes correctly sometimes incorrectly). It’s all about the parameters built into the statistic around which facts and content are inserted. Statistics in and of themselves do not constitute rigorous evidence of the facts. I can cite tons of risk statistics that scare the hell out of most people, however, when one examines the parameters built into the statistic one finds that the fear generated by the conclusion of the statistic is largely fictional.

    Thirdly, the white wash is not irrelevant because it is by the white wash that the statistical parameters are set that accuse by weight more the poor. “What exactly are these shadowy sins obscured by “white wash” that are “worse” than anything perpetrated by the (non)working poor? And how is it relevant?” Here is the problem, because they are white wash, when they are cited the delusional eyes will say, “What is that in comparison to this GREAT dirty sin of the poor” (which is what you are doing in this very statement/paragraph). It’s like trying to explain to a fish, “you realize you are all wet” and the fish says, “What’s the wet he speaks of”. Now, I’ve used the pronoun “you” but I’m not isolating and pointing to you cincin… but the principle is what I’m explaining here. Therein lay the difficulty, for the ‘white wash’ sin by definition is by and large accepted by the larger more (pretend) moral society. Thus, when its cited all what often happens is (best case) “well that’s not THAT bad” or (worse case) a gnashing of teeth (which is why the Pharisee reference is so apropos). So if I cite one of these great white wash sins it will immediately receive one or both of these reactions. Yet, I’ve cited one twice, usury for it does not love the neighbor but destroys him/her. Yet, usury is such an accepted white wash sin, in fact the fabric of our countries essence, it will surely never be seen as “evil” as the crass sins of the poor and will receive a gnashing teeth defense. Yet, usury serves to dissolve, stress and destroy families (a moral fabric) every bit as much if not more than divorce rates. In reality when the facts are looked at in reality usury quite often leads to many of the stresses that in turn cause strife and divorce in families. It is a rather telling phenomena, and sad one, when one sees a formerly comfortable middle class family who during financial crisis due to the stress of usury is reduced effectively and functionally as poor, then strife is not far off as the couple far apart trying to “keep it together financially” and then often times this strife develops into divorce.

    I did not say all third world countries, but many have much lower rates, by magnitudes than us. And its more than just murder. The point is “upper class” = better morality and “lower class” = immorality is utter nonsense. In fact it ignores the REAL fact of the source of immorality altogether, your whole argument is utterly overthrown by Scripture. For the source and reality of all sin (which is the only immorality there really is) is the fall of man, not man’s poor or wealthy position in life. In fact Luther makes this very point that men well become lazy and sleepy eyed to this reality for they observe the outward things and good things in life as measure of success and reward, yet these at best are temporal and will end and at the same time forsake the real treasure and reality that is eternal in the forgiveness of sins in Christ. This is why Paul glories that whether one is poor, naked, distress, neither angel or any created thing can separate us from the love of God we have in Christ Jesus.

    You miss my point about the rich or middle class, I’m not accusing them of being more immoral than the poor, which I’ve explicitly stated several times. I’m utterly leveling the field and saying, CLEARLY SO YOU MIGHT GRASP IT, rich, middle class or poor is in reality irrelevant.

    Does the, “staggering moral crisis in America’s lower classes–which, again, is factual—has (have) anything to do with their steep decline in church attendance/participation?” No. You are confusing cause and effect. Scripture is clear on this matter, crystal clear. Idolatry leads to moral decay not vice versa. In fact it’s the entire principle of the fall of man. Just so its very very very clear let me draw the lines between the dots: idolatry means the first commandment, the fear, love and trust of God (ALONE) is not being done, hence the second table sins (immoralities in your language) or the sins against neighbor. This is Paul’s concise argument in Romans 1:18-ff, idolatry leads to the sins against neighbor, even the invention of sins. Not vice versa as you propose, to wit, “…the staggering moral crisis in America’s lower classes–which, again, is factual–has anything to do with their steep decline in church attendance/participation.” The decline in church starts at the church not the outside. So the idolatry starts in the church, the false churches, the heterodoxies. Heterodoxies are by definition idolatries. That which steers away from the Gospel in Word and Sacrament begets idolatry which begets the moral declines in the second table. When men and women reject these, then they run into the immoral fall outs we see. The entire fall of man is this process, first the Word is put on trial in which faith rest alone (hath God really said), then the act of sin consummates.

    This is the great irony of it all. It was not open immoralism (of the poor or any other) that has begotten the moral decay we see! Rather, ironically, the idolatry of the idolatrous false teachings over decades and decades of these heterodoxies that slowly exhibits the gross immoralities we see today. That’s the irony, the preaching, more or less, of morality in all its forms as “the way to God” (explicitly or implied) is the idolatry that begets the immorality we so painfully observe today.

    BTW most of my anecdotes don’t corroborate your point. I did not say I know many former blue collar folks who (were immoral) then ascended to the middle class whereby then they “conformed to the bourgeois virtue”. I know many blue collar folks who were exceedingly moral WHEN they were poor blue collar folks and they carried that into their middle class ascent. I know many blue collar folks who to this minute still blue collar folks who ARE still exceedingly moral as poor blue collar folks. And I know many middle class folks who always were and remain middle class folks who too are upstanding moral folks. And I know many very well off (rich as you might say) folks who remain so and too are upstanding moral folks. Which gets back to my original point you entirely miss, I’m leveling the playing field. It is NOT rich versus middle versus poor, but idolatry, false doctrine, false teaching, false churches, and the rejection of the true doctrine that are the cause of these things – not a man’s pocket book.

    Finally, I was not calling you a Pharisee or that you in particular have a pharisaical mindset, rather that we all do and we all are subject to this blindness of the glory of good works and white wash. I’d be a complete LIAR if I didn’t confess that I myself can EASILY fall into this. It was meant to be an all inclusive statement of men, including me. I apologize that it did not clearly come off that way.

    So, again, nobodies mad or angry in this debate that I know of.

  • larry

    Cincin,

    I think you mean Larry.

    You misunderstand me, I’m not angry or indignant at all, I understand this is a civil debate so don’t think incorrectly that I’m upset with you.

    First of all, these are not mere anecdotes. Your division of poor (experience) in the down urban areas obscures the reality of the poor I grew up around in the more rural areas. So the division is not in reality poor versus middle class versus upper class. Merely spend some time in the exceedingly morally conservative rural areas of lower middle class to poor and you will find an entirely different picture from your urban industrial decay centers. The division there is not poor versus rich, but culture.

    Second, in scientific inquiry, which I’m well aware of and use daily, statistics by definition are not facts but the manipulation of facts in order to assess some cause and effect (sometimes correctly sometimes incorrectly). It’s all about the parameters built into the statistic around which facts and content are inserted. Statistics in and of themselves do not constitute rigorous evidence of the facts. I can cite tons of risk statistics that scare the hell out of most people, however, when one examines the parameters built into the statistic one finds that the fear generated by the conclusion of the statistic is largely fictional.

    Thirdly, the white wash is not irrelevant because it is by the white wash that the statistical parameters are set that accuse by weight more the poor. “What exactly are these shadowy sins obscured by “white wash” that are “worse” than anything perpetrated by the (non)working poor? And how is it relevant?” Here is the problem, because they are white wash, when they are cited the delusional eyes will say, “What is that in comparison to this GREAT dirty sin of the poor” (which is what you are doing in this very statement/paragraph). It’s like trying to explain to a fish, “you realize you are all wet” and the fish says, “What’s the wet he speaks of”. Now, I’ve used the pronoun “you” but I’m not isolating and pointing to you cincin… but the principle is what I’m explaining here. Therein lay the difficulty, for the ‘white wash’ sin by definition is by and large accepted by the larger more (pretend) moral society. Thus, when its cited all what often happens is (best case) “well that’s not THAT bad” or (worse case) a gnashing of teeth (which is why the Pharisee reference is so apropos). So if I cite one of these great white wash sins it will immediately receive one or both of these reactions. Yet, I’ve cited one twice, usury for it does not love the neighbor but destroys him/her. Yet, usury is such an accepted white wash sin, in fact the fabric of our countries essence, it will surely never be seen as “evil” as the crass sins of the poor and will receive a gnashing teeth defense. Yet, usury serves to dissolve, stress and destroy families (a moral fabric) every bit as much if not more than divorce rates. In reality when the facts are looked at in reality usury quite often leads to many of the stresses that in turn cause strife and divorce in families. It is a rather telling phenomena, and sad one, when one sees a formerly comfortable middle class family who during financial crisis due to the stress of usury is reduced effectively and functionally as poor, then strife is not far off as the couple far apart trying to “keep it together financially” and then often times this strife develops into divorce.

    I did not say all third world countries, but many have much lower rates, by magnitudes than us. And its more than just murder. The point is “upper class” = better morality and “lower class” = immorality is utter nonsense. In fact it ignores the REAL fact of the source of immorality altogether, your whole argument is utterly overthrown by Scripture. For the source and reality of all sin (which is the only immorality there really is) is the fall of man, not man’s poor or wealthy position in life. In fact Luther makes this very point that men well become lazy and sleepy eyed to this reality for they observe the outward things and good things in life as measure of success and reward, yet these at best are temporal and will end and at the same time forsake the real treasure and reality that is eternal in the forgiveness of sins in Christ. This is why Paul glories that whether one is poor, naked, distress, neither angel or any created thing can separate us from the love of God we have in Christ Jesus.

    You miss my point about the rich or middle class, I’m not accusing them of being more immoral than the poor, which I’ve explicitly stated several times. I’m utterly leveling the field and saying, CLEARLY SO YOU MIGHT GRASP IT, rich, middle class or poor is in reality irrelevant.

    Does the, “staggering moral crisis in America’s lower classes–which, again, is factual—has (have) anything to do with their steep decline in church attendance/participation?” No. You are confusing cause and effect. Scripture is clear on this matter, crystal clear. Idolatry leads to moral decay not vice versa. In fact it’s the entire principle of the fall of man. Just so its very very very clear let me draw the lines between the dots: idolatry means the first commandment, the fear, love and trust of God (ALONE) is not being done, hence the second table sins (immoralities in your language) or the sins against neighbor. This is Paul’s concise argument in Romans 1:18-ff, idolatry leads to the sins against neighbor, even the invention of sins. Not vice versa as you propose, to wit, “…the staggering moral crisis in America’s lower classes–which, again, is factual–has anything to do with their steep decline in church attendance/participation.” The decline in church starts at the church not the outside. So the idolatry starts in the church, the false churches, the heterodoxies. Heterodoxies are by definition idolatries. That which steers away from the Gospel in Word and Sacrament begets idolatry which begets the moral declines in the second table. When men and women reject these, then they run into the immoral fall outs we see. The entire fall of man is this process, first the Word is put on trial in which faith rest alone (hath God really said), then the act of sin consummates.

    This is the great irony of it all. It was not open immoralism (of the poor or any other) that has begotten the moral decay we see! Rather, ironically, the idolatry of the idolatrous false teachings over decades and decades of these heterodoxies that slowly exhibits the gross immoralities we see today. That’s the irony, the preaching, more or less, of morality in all its forms as “the way to God” (explicitly or implied) is the idolatry that begets the immorality we so painfully observe today.

    BTW most of my anecdotes don’t corroborate your point. I did not say I know many former blue collar folks who (were immoral) then ascended to the middle class whereby then they “conformed to the bourgeois virtue”. I know many blue collar folks who were exceedingly moral WHEN they were poor blue collar folks and they carried that into their middle class ascent. I know many blue collar folks who to this minute still blue collar folks who ARE still exceedingly moral as poor blue collar folks. And I know many middle class folks who always were and remain middle class folks who too are upstanding moral folks. And I know many very well off (rich as you might say) folks who remain so and too are upstanding moral folks. Which gets back to my original point you entirely miss, I’m leveling the playing field. It is NOT rich versus middle versus poor, but idolatry, false doctrine, false teaching, false churches, and the rejection of the true doctrine that are the cause of these things – not a man’s pocket book.

    Finally, I was not calling you a Pharisee or that you in particular have a pharisaical mindset, rather that we all do and we all are subject to this blindness of the glory of good works and white wash. I’d be a complete LIAR if I didn’t confess that I myself can EASILY fall into this. It was meant to be an all inclusive statement of men, including me. I apologize that it did not clearly come off that way.

    So, again, nobodies mad or angry in this debate that I know of.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Larry (@98), I’m pretty sure Cincinnatus (@97) was replying to Martin (@93), not you (@96). Just FYI.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Larry (@98), I’m pretty sure Cincinnatus (@97) was replying to Martin (@93), not you (@96). Just FYI.

  • larry

    Todd,

    Are you sure? His paragraph responses seem to be speaking directly line by line to my previous and appeared to be a contiuation of our conversation. I reread them after you clarified, but I could be wrong and if so I stand corrected that he meant Martin.

    Thanks,

    Larry

  • larry

    Todd,

    Are you sure? His paragraph responses seem to be speaking directly line by line to my previous and appeared to be a contiuation of our conversation. I reread them after you clarified, but I could be wrong and if so I stand corrected that he meant Martin.

    Thanks,

    Larry

  • larry

    Back to the study:

    What’s interesting is that the study focused on white Americans and indicated that the church difference is not as prominent among African Americans and Latinos. Though they don’t delve into confessional issues they “accidently” allude to the problem when they state that, “Lower church attendance among the less-educated may stem from a disconnect between them and modern church values, the study theorizes.”

    Just because a group or building or confession calls itself a church, does not mean it is a true church and most are false churches by confession. The word that really kicks it off is the term “values”, its already alluding to the law idea of a false church. This begets what such “churches” witness really is, “values”, “morals” and not really the place within whose four walls is given richly and constantly gifts bestowing the forgiveness of sins. The law is written on every heart by virtue of creation and thus does not distinguish the church, rather, it is utterly and absolutely undifferentiating and all inclusive of human.

    Another way to look at it is that the entire basic premise of the statement or that such a statement could be made that identifies this as a real Christian church in this way, “…and modern church values…”, is in really speaking of something other than what is the real church. For that part of the statement, its basis, “…and modern church values…”, is not what is the sine quo non that constitutes the church. That can be said about any institution, including rank cults, utter secular organizations, Masons and many, many more who are constituted around a set of values.

    Thus the statement, “Lower church attendance among the less-educated may stem from a disconnect between them and modern church values, the study theorizes”, can have a single noun altered and not alter its meaning one single iota:
    “Lower cult attendance among the less-educated may stem from a disconnect between them and modern cult values, the study theorizes.”
    “Lower Blue Lodge attendance among the less-educated may stem from a disconnect between them and modern Masonic values, the study theorizes.”
    “Lower Moral Majority attendance among the less-educated may stem from a disconnect between them and modern Moral Majority values, the study theorizes.”
    Etc…

    Now had it said, “Lower church attendance among the less-educated may stem from a disconnect between them and churches distribution of the forgiveness of sins through the means of grace for Christ’s sake, the study theorizes”, then we’d really be talking about THE church as it is constituted and charged and not these dopple gangers out there parading around as “the church”.

    Thus to state, “Lower church attendance among the less-educated may stem from a disconnect between them and modern church values, the study theorizes”, is merely stating that one set of self righteous works to get to God does not identify with another set of self righteous works to get to God. Or as Paul spells out in Romans when the Law on one accuses the conscience (in this case a group of), that conscience (the group) excuses their actions – both groups identifying for themselves the works righteousness whereby they may attain to God. Both lower the law via the conscience excusing themselves from it to “house pet” whereby they can work their way toward heaven. Thus, the “church” in this statement is not the church, but in reality just another theology of glory or more bluntly unbelieving paganism.

  • larry

    Back to the study:

    What’s interesting is that the study focused on white Americans and indicated that the church difference is not as prominent among African Americans and Latinos. Though they don’t delve into confessional issues they “accidently” allude to the problem when they state that, “Lower church attendance among the less-educated may stem from a disconnect between them and modern church values, the study theorizes.”

    Just because a group or building or confession calls itself a church, does not mean it is a true church and most are false churches by confession. The word that really kicks it off is the term “values”, its already alluding to the law idea of a false church. This begets what such “churches” witness really is, “values”, “morals” and not really the place within whose four walls is given richly and constantly gifts bestowing the forgiveness of sins. The law is written on every heart by virtue of creation and thus does not distinguish the church, rather, it is utterly and absolutely undifferentiating and all inclusive of human.

    Another way to look at it is that the entire basic premise of the statement or that such a statement could be made that identifies this as a real Christian church in this way, “…and modern church values…”, is in really speaking of something other than what is the real church. For that part of the statement, its basis, “…and modern church values…”, is not what is the sine quo non that constitutes the church. That can be said about any institution, including rank cults, utter secular organizations, Masons and many, many more who are constituted around a set of values.

    Thus the statement, “Lower church attendance among the less-educated may stem from a disconnect between them and modern church values, the study theorizes”, can have a single noun altered and not alter its meaning one single iota:
    “Lower cult attendance among the less-educated may stem from a disconnect between them and modern cult values, the study theorizes.”
    “Lower Blue Lodge attendance among the less-educated may stem from a disconnect between them and modern Masonic values, the study theorizes.”
    “Lower Moral Majority attendance among the less-educated may stem from a disconnect between them and modern Moral Majority values, the study theorizes.”
    Etc…

    Now had it said, “Lower church attendance among the less-educated may stem from a disconnect between them and churches distribution of the forgiveness of sins through the means of grace for Christ’s sake, the study theorizes”, then we’d really be talking about THE church as it is constituted and charged and not these dopple gangers out there parading around as “the church”.

    Thus to state, “Lower church attendance among the less-educated may stem from a disconnect between them and modern church values, the study theorizes”, is merely stating that one set of self righteous works to get to God does not identify with another set of self righteous works to get to God. Or as Paul spells out in Romans when the Law on one accuses the conscience (in this case a group of), that conscience (the group) excuses their actions – both groups identifying for themselves the works righteousness whereby they may attain to God. Both lower the law via the conscience excusing themselves from it to “house pet” whereby they can work their way toward heaven. Thus, the “church” in this statement is not the church, but in reality just another theology of glory or more bluntly unbelieving paganism.

  • Martin

    Moderation fail @99. (BTW, you missed commenting on jbo’s discussion suggestion. Shouldn’t you have told him that you’d rather that he’d do his own work??).

  • Martin

    Moderation fail @99. (BTW, you missed commenting on jbo’s discussion suggestion. Shouldn’t you have told him that you’d rather that he’d do his own work??).

  • Martin

    Cincinnatus, I’m pretty sure I haven’t been huffy and indignant at all toward you, but if you think I have I would like to know how so, that I may apologize for it.

    I think my post at @91 was actually very polite and was hoping you’d understand the main points, which were:
    – Perhaps, rather than church-going, it is the deep commitment to Biblical study that propels morality in the more educated (middle class) over and above the less or non-educated (lower class), and
    – As far as virtues go, it would seem that going from lifetime subscription in the corps of manual labor to becoming one among the white collar professional ranks does something to one’s psyche and self-expections – for the better (and in some ways for worse).

    I’m not saying that human depravity goes away just because of a heightened awareness and sense of belonging in society. But I do believe that possessing the ability to read, understand and apply the Bible IS the gateway to Christian transformation. The majority of the poor classes have not been trained to read nor have they developed the discipline of doing it well. I see this as the key, not money or status.

    Martin

    “We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.” – Anonymous

  • Martin

    Cincinnatus, I’m pretty sure I haven’t been huffy and indignant at all toward you, but if you think I have I would like to know how so, that I may apologize for it.

    I think my post at @91 was actually very polite and was hoping you’d understand the main points, which were:
    – Perhaps, rather than church-going, it is the deep commitment to Biblical study that propels morality in the more educated (middle class) over and above the less or non-educated (lower class), and
    – As far as virtues go, it would seem that going from lifetime subscription in the corps of manual labor to becoming one among the white collar professional ranks does something to one’s psyche and self-expections – for the better (and in some ways for worse).

    I’m not saying that human depravity goes away just because of a heightened awareness and sense of belonging in society. But I do believe that possessing the ability to read, understand and apply the Bible IS the gateway to Christian transformation. The majority of the poor classes have not been trained to read nor have they developed the discipline of doing it well. I see this as the key, not money or status.

    Martin

    “We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.” – Anonymous

  • Martin

    Larry, thanks for this pull quote: “Lower church attendance among the less-educated may stem from a disconnect between them and modern church values, the study theorizes”. The false assumption behind this statement is a common view held by many in and outside of the church, which is that one should possess “modern church values” prior to established church attendence, rather than the other way around.

    Seems to me you nailed one of the big problems, which is that this view of the Church is man-centered. If this is our approach it is unbiblical and deserves to be shunned.

  • Martin

    Larry, thanks for this pull quote: “Lower church attendance among the less-educated may stem from a disconnect between them and modern church values, the study theorizes”. The false assumption behind this statement is a common view held by many in and outside of the church, which is that one should possess “modern church values” prior to established church attendence, rather than the other way around.

    Seems to me you nailed one of the big problems, which is that this view of the Church is man-centered. If this is our approach it is unbiblical and deserves to be shunned.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Man, Martin (@102), you just won’t let it go, will you?

    “Moderation fail”? What are you talking about? Am I allowed to write comments, or are you making your own bid to be the Cranach “moderator” of your semi-paranoiac dreams?

    Cincinnatus (@97) made reference to your “anecdotes” (cf. “I have known men who…”, “I’ve known guys like this who…”, and “My brother…” @91).

    He referred to “your continual reversion to the alleged sins of the rich” (cf. “The rich and upper classes literally get away with murder, theft, adultery and the whole nine yards” @89).

    I honestly thought he was referring to you. But yes, I now see he was more likely replying to either Larry or a conflation of you and Larry. So what?

    BTW, you missed commenting on jbo’s discussion suggestion. Shouldn’t you have told him that you’d rather that he’d do his own work??

    Um, you’ve apparently failed to notice the difference between JBO’s inquiry (“I would at least see if anyone has anything to comment on” @94) and your, in essence, tattling on Cincinnatus (“I would be interested in you all interacting with Mr. Cincinnatus judgemental proposition” @80) and asking others to write the critique you thought of but couldn’t be bothered to formulate.

    Now, if I were an actual moderator, maybe your points about my comments would reveal (shock!) a complete lack of objectivity on my part. But I’m not, even though you keep pretending like I am, even as you tell me I’m not, but I think I am. I’m just a part of the conversation, like you. But you somehow think it’s wrong for me to tell people what I think of their comments, even as you continue to do it yourself. How is that not hypocrisy?

    Honestly, get over yourself.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Man, Martin (@102), you just won’t let it go, will you?

    “Moderation fail”? What are you talking about? Am I allowed to write comments, or are you making your own bid to be the Cranach “moderator” of your semi-paranoiac dreams?

    Cincinnatus (@97) made reference to your “anecdotes” (cf. “I have known men who…”, “I’ve known guys like this who…”, and “My brother…” @91).

    He referred to “your continual reversion to the alleged sins of the rich” (cf. “The rich and upper classes literally get away with murder, theft, adultery and the whole nine yards” @89).

    I honestly thought he was referring to you. But yes, I now see he was more likely replying to either Larry or a conflation of you and Larry. So what?

    BTW, you missed commenting on jbo’s discussion suggestion. Shouldn’t you have told him that you’d rather that he’d do his own work??

    Um, you’ve apparently failed to notice the difference between JBO’s inquiry (“I would at least see if anyone has anything to comment on” @94) and your, in essence, tattling on Cincinnatus (“I would be interested in you all interacting with Mr. Cincinnatus judgemental proposition” @80) and asking others to write the critique you thought of but couldn’t be bothered to formulate.

    Now, if I were an actual moderator, maybe your points about my comments would reveal (shock!) a complete lack of objectivity on my part. But I’m not, even though you keep pretending like I am, even as you tell me I’m not, but I think I am. I’m just a part of the conversation, like you. But you somehow think it’s wrong for me to tell people what I think of their comments, even as you continue to do it yourself. How is that not hypocrisy?

    Honestly, get over yourself.

  • Martin

    tODD, that’s all very well and good. It’be beyond time to end the cross-talk shennanigans. I’m all for it. I usually enjoy your thoughtful and relavent comments. However, the last time you actually engaged someone “on-topic” was #72, soooo…. you got anything or not???

  • Martin

    tODD, that’s all very well and good. It’be beyond time to end the cross-talk shennanigans. I’m all for it. I usually enjoy your thoughtful and relavent comments. However, the last time you actually engaged someone “on-topic” was #72, soooo…. you got anything or not???

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    tODD, others, why is it apparently so offensive to you to suggest that those who follow Paul’s commands in his epistles–e.g. Ephesians 4 not to live like other gentiles–might benefit from it in other than spiritual ways?

    Is that such an obnoxious idea? If so, you’d better get rid of large portions of Paul’s epistles, the Sermon on the Mount, and such. If I am mixing law and Gospel, so did our Lord, and so did Paul, and so ought any faithful believer.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    tODD, others, why is it apparently so offensive to you to suggest that those who follow Paul’s commands in his epistles–e.g. Ephesians 4 not to live like other gentiles–might benefit from it in other than spiritual ways?

    Is that such an obnoxious idea? If so, you’d better get rid of large portions of Paul’s epistles, the Sermon on the Mount, and such. If I am mixing law and Gospel, so did our Lord, and so did Paul, and so ought any faithful believer.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bubba asked (@107):

    why is it apparently so offensive to you to suggest that those who follow Paul’s commands in his epistles–e.g. Ephesians 4 not to live like other gentiles–might benefit from it in other than spiritual ways?

    Well, to begin with, because Scripture itself fails to suggest that. You’re adding something to God’s promises. That’s rarely a good thing. You’re also qualifying it into the realm of meaninglessness (as, of course, any promise that’s not from God should be) — “might benefit”, etc.

    But it’s offensive because it sounds like the prosperity “gospel” — indeed, I can’t see any real difference between that and your suggestion, your complaints notwithstanding.

    If so, you’d better get rid of large portions of Paul’s epistles, the Sermon on the Mount, and such.

    Wow, what a uselessly vague allusion that is. Why don’t you cite me actual verses that convey that “the Gospel will in its effects make people wealthier than they otherwise would be”?

    If I am mixing law and Gospel, so did our Lord, and so did Paul, and so ought any faithful believer.

    Another uselessly vague assertion. Do you know what the Gospel is? Tell me. And then explain how the Gospel will “make people wealthier than they otherwise would be”.

    When I read Scripture — whether Jesus’ words or Paul’s — I come away with a clear understanding of what the Gospel is. When I read your comments here … not so much.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bubba asked (@107):

    why is it apparently so offensive to you to suggest that those who follow Paul’s commands in his epistles–e.g. Ephesians 4 not to live like other gentiles–might benefit from it in other than spiritual ways?

    Well, to begin with, because Scripture itself fails to suggest that. You’re adding something to God’s promises. That’s rarely a good thing. You’re also qualifying it into the realm of meaninglessness (as, of course, any promise that’s not from God should be) — “might benefit”, etc.

    But it’s offensive because it sounds like the prosperity “gospel” — indeed, I can’t see any real difference between that and your suggestion, your complaints notwithstanding.

    If so, you’d better get rid of large portions of Paul’s epistles, the Sermon on the Mount, and such.

    Wow, what a uselessly vague allusion that is. Why don’t you cite me actual verses that convey that “the Gospel will in its effects make people wealthier than they otherwise would be”?

    If I am mixing law and Gospel, so did our Lord, and so did Paul, and so ought any faithful believer.

    Another uselessly vague assertion. Do you know what the Gospel is? Tell me. And then explain how the Gospel will “make people wealthier than they otherwise would be”.

    When I read Scripture — whether Jesus’ words or Paul’s — I come away with a clear understanding of what the Gospel is. When I read your comments here … not so much.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    I have actually gotten in a debate over whether people who actually bother to work might be financially more prosperous.

    tODD, if this is where Lutheranism leads you, you need to change churches. Good grief. This is nothing short of pathetic on your part, and that of many others.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    I have actually gotten in a debate over whether people who actually bother to work might be financially more prosperous.

    tODD, if this is where Lutheranism leads you, you need to change churches. Good grief. This is nothing short of pathetic on your part, and that of many others.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bubba said (@109):

    I have actually gotten in a debate over whether people who actually bother to work might be financially more prosperous.

    Sorry, but if that’s how you’re now trying to characterize your original statement here, I’m not buying it. Your original statement (@63) was not about working vs. not-working. It was about Gospel vs. not-Gospel: “the Gospel will in its effects make people wealthier than they otherwise would be”. As written, that says that a person who is working (whether they be the working poor or the working middle class) “might be financially more prosperous” if they become a Christian.

    tODD, if this is where Lutheranism leads you, you need to change churches. Good grief. This is nothing short of pathetic on your part, and that of many others.

    Oh please! Is that all you have? You’re going to fail to engage any actual debate — and in a notable dodge, quite obviously fail to answer the specific questions I asked you (@108) — and then just toss out broad-brush ad hominems like that and call it debate? And then have the chutzpah to suggest that bad rhetoric like yours is reason to leave my church to go to places where they don’t even know the Gospel when they hear it?

    Yeah, no. God willing, tomorrow morning will once again find me in a church where they know what the Gospel is.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bubba said (@109):

    I have actually gotten in a debate over whether people who actually bother to work might be financially more prosperous.

    Sorry, but if that’s how you’re now trying to characterize your original statement here, I’m not buying it. Your original statement (@63) was not about working vs. not-working. It was about Gospel vs. not-Gospel: “the Gospel will in its effects make people wealthier than they otherwise would be”. As written, that says that a person who is working (whether they be the working poor or the working middle class) “might be financially more prosperous” if they become a Christian.

    tODD, if this is where Lutheranism leads you, you need to change churches. Good grief. This is nothing short of pathetic on your part, and that of many others.

    Oh please! Is that all you have? You’re going to fail to engage any actual debate — and in a notable dodge, quite obviously fail to answer the specific questions I asked you (@108) — and then just toss out broad-brush ad hominems like that and call it debate? And then have the chutzpah to suggest that bad rhetoric like yours is reason to leave my church to go to places where they don’t even know the Gospel when they hear it?

    Yeah, no. God willing, tomorrow morning will once again find me in a church where they know what the Gospel is.