America’s culture gap

Democrats are often citing a widening economic gap between the affluent and those barely scraping by.  The controversial social scientist Charles Murray, who is more on the conservative side, says that’s just the half of it.  There is a growing cultural gap between the affluent (who still, usually, get educated, get married, and go to church) and the working class (who increasingly raise children without marriage and are becoming more and more secular).

Note how this flies in the face of conventional wisdom, that religion is for the poor and uneducated, and the upper crust lives a hedonistic, permissive lifestyle.  It’s actually the reverse!  And this isn’t a racial thing:  Murray is looking specifically at the demographics of white people. (Lower-income blacks, for example, tend to be very religious, unlike lower-income whites.)

Murray, drawing from his new book, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 explains his findings in the Wall Street Journal from earlier in the year.  He describes  two fictional-but-based-in-fact cities, the upper-income suburb of Belmont and the lower-income community of Fishtown (both predominately white):

In Belmont and Fishtown, here’s what happened to America’s common culture between 1960 and 2010.

Marriage: In 1960, extremely high proportions of whites in both Belmont and Fishtown were married—94% in Belmont and 84% in Fishtown. In the 1970s, those percentages declined about equally in both places. Then came the great divergence. In Belmont, marriage stabilized during the mid-1980s, standing at 83% in 2010. In Fishtown, however, marriage continued to slide; as of 2010, a minority (just 48%) were married. The gap in marriage between Belmont and Fishtown grew to 35 percentage points, from just 10.

Single parenthood: Another aspect of marriage—the percentage of children born to unmarried women—showed just as great a divergence. Though politicians and media eminences are too frightened to say so, nonmarital births are problematic. On just about any measure of development you can think of, children who are born to unmarried women fare worse than the children of divorce and far worse than children raised in intact families. This unwelcome reality persists even after controlling for the income and education of the parents.

In 1960, just 2% of all white births were nonmarital. When we first started recording the education level of mothers in 1970, 6% of births to white women with no more than a high-school education—women, that is, with a Fishtown education—were out of wedlock. By 2008, 44% were nonmarital. Among the college-educated women of Belmont, less than 6% of all births were out of wedlock as of 2008, up from 1% in 1970.

Industriousness: The norms for work and women were revolutionized after 1960, but the norm for men putatively has remained the same: Healthy men are supposed to work. In practice, though, that norm has eroded everywhere. In Fishtown, the change has been drastic. (To avoid conflating this phenomenon with the latest recession, I use data collected in March 2008 as the end point for the trends.)

The primary indicator of the erosion of industriousness in the working class is the increase of prime-age males with no more than a high school education who say they are not available for work—they are “out of the labor force.” That percentage went from a low of 3% in 1968 to 12% in 2008. Twelve percent may not sound like much until you think about the men we’re talking about: in the prime of their working lives, their 30s and 40s, when, according to hallowed American tradition, every American man is working or looking for work. Almost one out of eight now aren’t. Meanwhile, not much has changed among males with college educations. Only 3% were out of the labor force in 2008.There’s also been a notable change in the rates of less-than-full-time work. Of the men in Fishtown who had jobs, 10% worked fewer than 40 hours a week in 1960, a figure that grew to 20% by 2008. In Belmont, the number rose from 9% in 1960 to 12% in 2008.

Crime: The surge in crime that began in the mid-1960s and continued through the 1980s left Belmont almost untouched and ravaged Fishtown. From 1960 to 1995, the violent crime rate in Fishtown more than sextupled while remaining nearly flat in Belmont. The reductions in crime since the mid-1990s that have benefited the nation as a whole have been smaller in Fishtown, leaving it today with a violent crime rate that is still 4.7 times the 1960 rate.

Religiosity: Whatever your personal religious views, you need to realize that about half of American philanthropy, volunteering and associational memberships is directly church-related, and that religious Americans also account for much more nonreligious social capital than their secular neighbors. In that context, it is worrisome for the culture that the U.S. as a whole has become markedly more secular since 1960, and especially worrisome that Fishtown has become much more secular than Belmont. It runs against the prevailing narrative of secular elites versus a working class still clinging to religion, but the evidence from the General Social Survey, the most widely used database on American attitudes and values, does not leave much room for argument.

For example, suppose we define “de facto secular” as someone who either professes no religion at all or who attends a worship service no more than once a year. For the early GSS surveys conducted from 1972 to 1976, 29% of Belmont and 38% of Fishtown fell into that category. Over the next three decades, secularization did indeed grow in Belmont, from 29% in the 1970s to 40% in the GSS surveys taken from 2006 to 2010. But it grew even more in Fishtown, from 38% to 59%.

It can be said without hyperbole that these divergences put Belmont and Fishtown into different cultures.

via Charles Murray on the New American Divide – WSJ.com.

What are the implications of  this cultural divide?  I would think it means, for one thing, that churches should concentrate their evangelistic efforts in working class areas rather than the current target of affluent suburbs.  (Working class folks used to be the backbone of the church.  What would be necessary to make that happen again?)

HT:  Roberta Bayer

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.

  • Pete

    “And this isn’t a racial thing: Murray is looking specifically at the demographics of white people. (Lower-income blacks, for example, tend to be very religious, unlike lower-income whites.)”

    ???

    How is looking “specifically at the demographics of white people” not a racial thing? Or the observation that lower-income blacks are more religious than lower-income whites, for that matter.

    But that’s nit-picking. Murray has always had useful and intuitively accurate observations that somehow don’t get broadcast very widely and seem to attract controversy.

  • Pete

    “And this isn’t a racial thing: Murray is looking specifically at the demographics of white people. (Lower-income blacks, for example, tend to be very religious, unlike lower-income whites.)”

    ???

    How is looking “specifically at the demographics of white people” not a racial thing? Or the observation that lower-income blacks are more religious than lower-income whites, for that matter.

    But that’s nit-picking. Murray has always had useful and intuitively accurate observations that somehow don’t get broadcast very widely and seem to attract controversy.

  • Michael B.

    Go to the sentence in the blog, and replace “Church” will “PepsiCo”, and it’ll sound like you’re in a marketing meeting for a major corporation:
    “I would think it means, for one thing, that PepsiCo should concentrate their efforts in working class areas rather than the current target of affluent suburbs. (Working class folks used to be the backbone of PepsiCo. What would be necessary to make that happen again?)”

    In a real meeting though, you’ll have more specific numbers: “There has been a sharp decline in men age 18-39 with incomes from $35,000-$59,000 who use our product , which is down 43% from 1990 to 2010. Why has this happened and how can we return this to previous levels?”

  • Michael B.

    Go to the sentence in the blog, and replace “Church” will “PepsiCo”, and it’ll sound like you’re in a marketing meeting for a major corporation:
    “I would think it means, for one thing, that PepsiCo should concentrate their efforts in working class areas rather than the current target of affluent suburbs. (Working class folks used to be the backbone of PepsiCo. What would be necessary to make that happen again?)”

    In a real meeting though, you’ll have more specific numbers: “There has been a sharp decline in men age 18-39 with incomes from $35,000-$59,000 who use our product , which is down 43% from 1990 to 2010. Why has this happened and how can we return this to previous levels?”

  • Tom Hering

    If affluent suburbs have been the target of evangelism efforts (read: membership efforts), why is it a surprise that the poor and the working class have become more secular?

  • Tom Hering

    If affluent suburbs have been the target of evangelism efforts (read: membership efforts), why is it a surprise that the poor and the working class have become more secular?

  • larry

    I cannot speak for anyone but my own very personal familial situation but his “fictional accounting of statistical facts” could read precisely as a biography of not just my family but many families I know. I.e. it rings true as far as I’ve seen/experienced and especially on the church issue. It would do the church well to consider this.

    Why so many “Fishtown” drop out of church? I’ve heard and heard alluded to various answers. Some, believe it or not, feel they can’t keep up with the tithe monster. They simply feel guilty that they don’t have the spare money, and I mean by that, they don’t ever have the money nor foresee they ever will. There’s always that “Don’t worry about it now, but when you get back up on your feet you can” pressure. Of course if the “church” is trying to “build its rolls” so that it can basically expand needing money and warm bodies, well “Fishtown” is not a hot prospect. I’m reminded of one of my favorite Saints, St. Lawrence. As the account goes Rome demanded that St. Lawrence turn over the treasures of the Church. He then presented the poor, the crippled, the blind and the suffering, and said that these are the treasures of the Church.

    For some its because in “Fishtown” there is a tendency to live, eat and breath practicality and earthiness, church on the other hand has tended to be for them “highly theoretical “ or “no real earthy grit to it”. Church has become more “ideal” than sacramental and something that belongs more to philosophers over moral ideals than God sinking down into the mud with them, i.e. it no longer even has a toe much less one that touches the ground. One thing about Luther was his very earthiness, much like the Hebrews and not this kind of wispy clean cut ideal gnosis.

    In “Fishtown” the television rules. And in Fishtown, especially among the men, they get their informal religion and philosophy from secular teachings via the Discovery Channel. They flit past the idiots like Benny Hinn and all those “Christian stations” (a good thing) and go to what at least appears to be real ‘meat and potatoes” over on the Discovery and like channels. It’s not that they are not intellectual and cannot handle ‘thinking things’, quite the opposite and in fact that’s why they (men mostly) don’t watch the blather on stations like TBN, et. al. and go to Discovery, et. al. The TV can be good or bad, its just a medium, yet it reaches still a lot, but their choices are the thin religiosity and false teachings on TBN, et. al. versus what appears to at least be meat on Discovery, et. al. with no countering answers. And so they watch things about Jesus that basically deny Christ. And they find that real earthiness, this truth you can sink your teeth into, in Discovery, et. al. Perhaps solid Lutheran teaching and outreach ought to seek a television venue? I know for multiple facts personal to me that one of the groups that Issues Etc… and WHI reach are those whose jobs require a lot of travel and road time. Again this is mostly men. Especially those who have either walked away from church or don’t know anymore where to go. Why? Because 1. That’s where they are most of the time, in a vehicle and 2. those two shows present real, earthy, gritty doctrine and theology, not that wispy gnosis. So they listen, its their de facto TV if you will (I myself came this route). But not everyone travels for a living and thus the other big venue is TV. It might be an effort for orthodox teachings to consider. You have to realize, educated people by their nature go to talks all the time, one learns this in college and in their profession. So its natural in a way to “go to church”. Blue collar folks don’t typically get use to this idea of going somewhere to hear something, so they don’t. So a lot of times the TV and radio fill in the gap.

    Just some ideas.

  • larry

    I cannot speak for anyone but my own very personal familial situation but his “fictional accounting of statistical facts” could read precisely as a biography of not just my family but many families I know. I.e. it rings true as far as I’ve seen/experienced and especially on the church issue. It would do the church well to consider this.

    Why so many “Fishtown” drop out of church? I’ve heard and heard alluded to various answers. Some, believe it or not, feel they can’t keep up with the tithe monster. They simply feel guilty that they don’t have the spare money, and I mean by that, they don’t ever have the money nor foresee they ever will. There’s always that “Don’t worry about it now, but when you get back up on your feet you can” pressure. Of course if the “church” is trying to “build its rolls” so that it can basically expand needing money and warm bodies, well “Fishtown” is not a hot prospect. I’m reminded of one of my favorite Saints, St. Lawrence. As the account goes Rome demanded that St. Lawrence turn over the treasures of the Church. He then presented the poor, the crippled, the blind and the suffering, and said that these are the treasures of the Church.

    For some its because in “Fishtown” there is a tendency to live, eat and breath practicality and earthiness, church on the other hand has tended to be for them “highly theoretical “ or “no real earthy grit to it”. Church has become more “ideal” than sacramental and something that belongs more to philosophers over moral ideals than God sinking down into the mud with them, i.e. it no longer even has a toe much less one that touches the ground. One thing about Luther was his very earthiness, much like the Hebrews and not this kind of wispy clean cut ideal gnosis.

    In “Fishtown” the television rules. And in Fishtown, especially among the men, they get their informal religion and philosophy from secular teachings via the Discovery Channel. They flit past the idiots like Benny Hinn and all those “Christian stations” (a good thing) and go to what at least appears to be real ‘meat and potatoes” over on the Discovery and like channels. It’s not that they are not intellectual and cannot handle ‘thinking things’, quite the opposite and in fact that’s why they (men mostly) don’t watch the blather on stations like TBN, et. al. and go to Discovery, et. al. The TV can be good or bad, its just a medium, yet it reaches still a lot, but their choices are the thin religiosity and false teachings on TBN, et. al. versus what appears to at least be meat on Discovery, et. al. with no countering answers. And so they watch things about Jesus that basically deny Christ. And they find that real earthiness, this truth you can sink your teeth into, in Discovery, et. al. Perhaps solid Lutheran teaching and outreach ought to seek a television venue? I know for multiple facts personal to me that one of the groups that Issues Etc… and WHI reach are those whose jobs require a lot of travel and road time. Again this is mostly men. Especially those who have either walked away from church or don’t know anymore where to go. Why? Because 1. That’s where they are most of the time, in a vehicle and 2. those two shows present real, earthy, gritty doctrine and theology, not that wispy gnosis. So they listen, its their de facto TV if you will (I myself came this route). But not everyone travels for a living and thus the other big venue is TV. It might be an effort for orthodox teachings to consider. You have to realize, educated people by their nature go to talks all the time, one learns this in college and in their profession. So its natural in a way to “go to church”. Blue collar folks don’t typically get use to this idea of going somewhere to hear something, so they don’t. So a lot of times the TV and radio fill in the gap.

    Just some ideas.

  • Cincinnatus

    Michael B.:

    No. Murray’s point, if you’ve read the book or just the blurbs above, is that “religiosity”–church attendance, subscription to religious ethical codes, etc.–is empirically beneficial to community cohesion and stability. That is, Murray isn’t a religious booster; he has no interest in evangelism to advance “the Gospel” or the “cause of Christ” or anything like that; rather, “religiosity”–which is a stupid word, by the way–possesses a measurable sociological value. Religiosity improves communities at a tangible level, regardless of its “truth value.”

    What does Pepsi Co. offer local communities other than a commodity?

  • Cincinnatus

    Michael B.:

    No. Murray’s point, if you’ve read the book or just the blurbs above, is that “religiosity”–church attendance, subscription to religious ethical codes, etc.–is empirically beneficial to community cohesion and stability. That is, Murray isn’t a religious booster; he has no interest in evangelism to advance “the Gospel” or the “cause of Christ” or anything like that; rather, “religiosity”–which is a stupid word, by the way–possesses a measurable sociological value. Religiosity improves communities at a tangible level, regardless of its “truth value.”

    What does Pepsi Co. offer local communities other than a commodity?

  • Peter S.

    Murray will be interviewed today at Patrick Henry College. http://www.phc.edu/120808_Newsmakers1.php

  • Peter S.

    Murray will be interviewed today at Patrick Henry College. http://www.phc.edu/120808_Newsmakers1.php

  • Cincinnatus

    Larry,

    Since when does the Discovery Channel–among its current offerings are Moonshiners, American Chopper, and Auction Kings–offer “gritty, earthy” food for the brain? Cable channels today are orgies of anti-intelligence, so if the working class is as attached to the television as you say, that speaks ill and not well of their place in Murray’s so-called “cognitive hierarchy.”

    I was fortunate to grow up in a working-class household that actually valued education and “esoteric” pursuits. That was not the case with most other working-class families in our working-class community. I don’t think valorizing the lower classes and their “earthy, gritty” interests does anyone any favors. Murray’s “Fishtown” may be highly stylized, but he’s on to something when he documents a moral and intellectual collapse among its inhabitants.

  • Cincinnatus

    Larry,

    Since when does the Discovery Channel–among its current offerings are Moonshiners, American Chopper, and Auction Kings–offer “gritty, earthy” food for the brain? Cable channels today are orgies of anti-intelligence, so if the working class is as attached to the television as you say, that speaks ill and not well of their place in Murray’s so-called “cognitive hierarchy.”

    I was fortunate to grow up in a working-class household that actually valued education and “esoteric” pursuits. That was not the case with most other working-class families in our working-class community. I don’t think valorizing the lower classes and their “earthy, gritty” interests does anyone any favors. Murray’s “Fishtown” may be highly stylized, but he’s on to something when he documents a moral and intellectual collapse among its inhabitants.

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

    Industriousness: The norms for work and women were revolutionized after 1960, but the norm for men putatively has remained the same: Healthy men are supposed to work. In practice, though, that norm has eroded everywhere.

    This is enforced by codified law. How could we possibly have 95% employment of men, when there is only x amount of work to do and the law prohibits discrimination against women in hiring? Only three English professor positions? Three men and fourteen women apply, all equally qualified? Well, you could hire all the men, but I am guessing it will be more like two or three women and one or zero men will be hired. Fourteen bureaucrat positions? Fourteen men and 100 women apply, all qualified. Will they hire all the men first?
    The fact that male labor participation is as high as it is in this numerically competitive market is a testament to men’s determination to work and extremely limited alternatives to doing so. Also, studies of women hiring employees reveals that they prefer more attractive people even more than men do.

    How is looking “specifically at the demographics of white people” not a racial thing?

    It eliminates racial confounding. One less variable.

    I would love to see an Asian only study. It would reveal even lower non marital births, higher education and lower religiosity. Of course, no one wants to study Asian performance because it will reveal in brilliant contrast many things that pretty much all groups in a multi ethnic society don’t wish to discuss.

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

    Industriousness: The norms for work and women were revolutionized after 1960, but the norm for men putatively has remained the same: Healthy men are supposed to work. In practice, though, that norm has eroded everywhere.

    This is enforced by codified law. How could we possibly have 95% employment of men, when there is only x amount of work to do and the law prohibits discrimination against women in hiring? Only three English professor positions? Three men and fourteen women apply, all equally qualified? Well, you could hire all the men, but I am guessing it will be more like two or three women and one or zero men will be hired. Fourteen bureaucrat positions? Fourteen men and 100 women apply, all qualified. Will they hire all the men first?
    The fact that male labor participation is as high as it is in this numerically competitive market is a testament to men’s determination to work and extremely limited alternatives to doing so. Also, studies of women hiring employees reveals that they prefer more attractive people even more than men do.

    How is looking “specifically at the demographics of white people” not a racial thing?

    It eliminates racial confounding. One less variable.

    I would love to see an Asian only study. It would reveal even lower non marital births, higher education and lower religiosity. Of course, no one wants to study Asian performance because it will reveal in brilliant contrast many things that pretty much all groups in a multi ethnic society don’t wish to discuss.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    I can’t believe this but I am agreeing with Tom. I am not surprised that lower income whites are increasingly secular. For thirty some years the church growth movement told churches to move where the money was so they could build their shopping mall churches and entertain the masses with large budget special effects laden services. Meanwhile, in areas that were largely working classes slid into decline and the people watched as church after church closed so they could follow the money. The people in these low income neighborhoods learned that the only thing churches care about is money and not the people.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    I can’t believe this but I am agreeing with Tom. I am not surprised that lower income whites are increasingly secular. For thirty some years the church growth movement told churches to move where the money was so they could build their shopping mall churches and entertain the masses with large budget special effects laden services. Meanwhile, in areas that were largely working classes slid into decline and the people watched as church after church closed so they could follow the money. The people in these low income neighborhoods learned that the only thing churches care about is money and not the people.

  • Tom Hering

    I can’t believe this but Dr. Luther made the point better than I did. ;-)

  • Tom Hering

    I can’t believe this but Dr. Luther made the point better than I did. ;-)

  • Cincinnatus

    Tom and Dr. Luther:

    I’m equally unsurprised that the lower socioeconomic classes are (allegedly) increasingly secular (according to Murray himself, the picture is more complex than pure secularity–e.g., most of them profess a belief in God and some kind of transcendent moral order–but for the sake of argument, let’s use that term). But I think you’re interpreting the facts improperly–or at least implausibly.

    Namely, “the church” didn’t abandon the working class, geographically speaking, because there is no “the church” in any contiguous, unified sense, sociologically speaking. It’s not like Bigass Megachurch of Baby Jesus was formerly located in a gritty working-class urban neighborhood, but decided to move to a wealthy suburban enclave. No, BMBJ was founded by wealthy suburbanites who wanted a church in their neighborhood.

    Similarly, it’s not as if “mainline” churches–note the distinction in denomination here–have closed their doors due to a nefarious plot by hierarchs to maximize their profits. Those pews were empty before the doors were closed–in fact, that’s why the doors were closed. We can argue about whether the pews were emptied because mainline clergy “lost touch” with the needs of their congregants, etc. But the point is that the working classes and below abandoned the church before the church abandoned them in any physical sense. Anyway, in spite of such church closures, lower class neighborhoods are still chock full of steeples. They just operate on skeleton crews and tiny congregations. My own massive parish used to play host to 400+ congregants every Sunday; not about 20 people attend morning services.

    My broader point is that the moral and religious decline of the lower classes is much more complex than the thesis you two are advancing.

  • Cincinnatus

    Tom and Dr. Luther:

    I’m equally unsurprised that the lower socioeconomic classes are (allegedly) increasingly secular (according to Murray himself, the picture is more complex than pure secularity–e.g., most of them profess a belief in God and some kind of transcendent moral order–but for the sake of argument, let’s use that term). But I think you’re interpreting the facts improperly–or at least implausibly.

    Namely, “the church” didn’t abandon the working class, geographically speaking, because there is no “the church” in any contiguous, unified sense, sociologically speaking. It’s not like Bigass Megachurch of Baby Jesus was formerly located in a gritty working-class urban neighborhood, but decided to move to a wealthy suburban enclave. No, BMBJ was founded by wealthy suburbanites who wanted a church in their neighborhood.

    Similarly, it’s not as if “mainline” churches–note the distinction in denomination here–have closed their doors due to a nefarious plot by hierarchs to maximize their profits. Those pews were empty before the doors were closed–in fact, that’s why the doors were closed. We can argue about whether the pews were emptied because mainline clergy “lost touch” with the needs of their congregants, etc. But the point is that the working classes and below abandoned the church before the church abandoned them in any physical sense. Anyway, in spite of such church closures, lower class neighborhoods are still chock full of steeples. They just operate on skeleton crews and tiny congregations. My own massive parish used to play host to 400+ congregants every Sunday; not about 20 people attend morning services.

    My broader point is that the moral and religious decline of the lower classes is much more complex than the thesis you two are advancing.

  • Joe

    I agree with Tom and Dr.L21C too. Think of all the urban areas that have basically been abandoned by churches. LCMS has had to call a missionary to Philadelphia …

  • Joe

    I agree with Tom and Dr.L21C too. Think of all the urban areas that have basically been abandoned by churches. LCMS has had to call a missionary to Philadelphia …

  • larry

    Cin.

    I too grew up in a very poor blue collar/farming community/family and I valued highly education and pursued it and still do. I don’t disagree with the dribble of channels like that and I just said “Discovery Channel” because I personally don’t watch TV and that’s the only name I recognize. Apparently you know and watch far more of this fine intellectual pursuit called TV than ever would and know far more about it being able to specify with authority Moonshiners, American Chopper, and Auction Kings because I’m wholly unfamiliar with Moonshiners, American Chopper, and Auction Kings. It could be other channels that had the “jesus” stuff on it, PBS and other presentations, the name of the actual channel is largely irrelevant. So you are largely crafting a straw man and then knocking him down. Nonetheless I can guess by the genius of the names Moonshiners, American Chopper, and Auction Kings that the difference between this and what passes as church/Sunday school in most churches is really about six one way, half a dozen another.

    And I meant to speak that this speaks ill of them in Murray’s assessment, so you’ve basically pretended to correct absolutely nothing with straw man #2.

    You are confounding what I mean by earthy gritty to mean basically “intellectual”. Not at all. Theology, true theology of the cross, is very earthy, in opposition to glory theology. By earthy I mean truth, and by truth I do not mean only the opposite of falsehood, but that which is real as the origins of the term actually mean. I was contra positioning that against this basic Gnostic religion that goes under the guise of “Christian”, i.e. ‘not real’ where everything is largely read as metaphorical and thus the highway works righteousness either through said esoteric knowledge or morals. Blue collar folks deal more as default of their life style in base reality than esoteric Gnosticism, dirt is a real thing that the hand can touch, not an airy metaphor. True Christianity deals IN the material not freed from it.

    Most churches offer little more than this Gnosticism guised as “Christian”. After all has not heterodoxy been preaching for millennia that Jesus is not really present but only symbolically, metaphorically, etc… It’s little more than Buddhism and mindless mumbling with a “jesus” tag on it. And so someone like Carl Sagan comes along to explain the universe on their television “preaching” in the concrete and it seems to offer some real tangible things, comparatively speaking and that’s why they gravitate there.

  • larry

    Cin.

    I too grew up in a very poor blue collar/farming community/family and I valued highly education and pursued it and still do. I don’t disagree with the dribble of channels like that and I just said “Discovery Channel” because I personally don’t watch TV and that’s the only name I recognize. Apparently you know and watch far more of this fine intellectual pursuit called TV than ever would and know far more about it being able to specify with authority Moonshiners, American Chopper, and Auction Kings because I’m wholly unfamiliar with Moonshiners, American Chopper, and Auction Kings. It could be other channels that had the “jesus” stuff on it, PBS and other presentations, the name of the actual channel is largely irrelevant. So you are largely crafting a straw man and then knocking him down. Nonetheless I can guess by the genius of the names Moonshiners, American Chopper, and Auction Kings that the difference between this and what passes as church/Sunday school in most churches is really about six one way, half a dozen another.

    And I meant to speak that this speaks ill of them in Murray’s assessment, so you’ve basically pretended to correct absolutely nothing with straw man #2.

    You are confounding what I mean by earthy gritty to mean basically “intellectual”. Not at all. Theology, true theology of the cross, is very earthy, in opposition to glory theology. By earthy I mean truth, and by truth I do not mean only the opposite of falsehood, but that which is real as the origins of the term actually mean. I was contra positioning that against this basic Gnostic religion that goes under the guise of “Christian”, i.e. ‘not real’ where everything is largely read as metaphorical and thus the highway works righteousness either through said esoteric knowledge or morals. Blue collar folks deal more as default of their life style in base reality than esoteric Gnosticism, dirt is a real thing that the hand can touch, not an airy metaphor. True Christianity deals IN the material not freed from it.

    Most churches offer little more than this Gnosticism guised as “Christian”. After all has not heterodoxy been preaching for millennia that Jesus is not really present but only symbolically, metaphorically, etc… It’s little more than Buddhism and mindless mumbling with a “jesus” tag on it. And so someone like Carl Sagan comes along to explain the universe on their television “preaching” in the concrete and it seems to offer some real tangible things, comparatively speaking and that’s why they gravitate there.

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

    Do people go to church to display their righteousness or to confess of their unrighteousness?

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

    Do people go to church to display their righteousness or to confess of their unrighteousness?

  • Steve Billingsley

    Cincinnatus @ 11
    I totally agree. Believe it or not, the problems of the world (or even the Church in America) cannot be blamed on the dreaded Megachurch.

    1. Not all Megachurches are the same.
    2. Some of the most effective ministries among the working class are actually being facilitated by what could be characterized as Megachurches.
    3. The truth is that Megachurches (and organizations and associations surrounding them) are increasingly playing the role that denominational structures played in the 19th and early 20th centuries. That is to say, facilitating new church starts and funding associated ministries that share their vision and values.

    This isn’t a defense of the Megachurch per se, but IMO what Murray brings up is only relevant to the Megachurch in the slightest of ways.

  • Steve Billingsley

    Cincinnatus @ 11
    I totally agree. Believe it or not, the problems of the world (or even the Church in America) cannot be blamed on the dreaded Megachurch.

    1. Not all Megachurches are the same.
    2. Some of the most effective ministries among the working class are actually being facilitated by what could be characterized as Megachurches.
    3. The truth is that Megachurches (and organizations and associations surrounding them) are increasingly playing the role that denominational structures played in the 19th and early 20th centuries. That is to say, facilitating new church starts and funding associated ministries that share their vision and values.

    This isn’t a defense of the Megachurch per se, but IMO what Murray brings up is only relevant to the Megachurch in the slightest of ways.

  • Leif

    Cin @11

    While I agree with your broader points I’d like to bring up that my old “mainline” church did exactly the thing that you said they don’t do. They pulled up stakes from the older/poorer part of town so that they could revel in the possibilities of church growth. Which, mind you, hasn’t really payed off for them but still.

  • Leif

    Cin @11

    While I agree with your broader points I’d like to bring up that my old “mainline” church did exactly the thing that you said they don’t do. They pulled up stakes from the older/poorer part of town so that they could revel in the possibilities of church growth. Which, mind you, hasn’t really payed off for them but still.

  • Dust

    i wonder if the increase in government assistance to the older/poorer folks has anything to do with these statistics?

    also, wonder if the catholic church is one of the more well attended churches in this group, as they seem to say a lot about the dignity of the poor, whereas the protestants seem to look at it as a bad thing and indeed some of the mega churches and other very popular tv pastors sort of preach affluence or upward mobility as a sign that god loves you and wants you to be happy.

    we all know the real answer to that is beer :)

    cheers!

  • Dust

    i wonder if the increase in government assistance to the older/poorer folks has anything to do with these statistics?

    also, wonder if the catholic church is one of the more well attended churches in this group, as they seem to say a lot about the dignity of the poor, whereas the protestants seem to look at it as a bad thing and indeed some of the mega churches and other very popular tv pastors sort of preach affluence or upward mobility as a sign that god loves you and wants you to be happy.

    we all know the real answer to that is beer :)

    cheers!

  • Morgan

    What about the rural/metropolitan shift? I know plenty of churches in the little farming county where I grew up that are absolutely starved for people. Specifically young people. A huge percentage of that demographic moved to urban/suburban areas to find work. They did, and are in some cases making multiples of what they might have earned back home.

    I also reject that churches moved from poor areas into rich areas, especially by conscious design. Poor churches died because poor areas are dying. Affluent areas are growing (especially in the religious South) and churches are growing with them.

  • Morgan

    What about the rural/metropolitan shift? I know plenty of churches in the little farming county where I grew up that are absolutely starved for people. Specifically young people. A huge percentage of that demographic moved to urban/suburban areas to find work. They did, and are in some cases making multiples of what they might have earned back home.

    I also reject that churches moved from poor areas into rich areas, especially by conscious design. Poor churches died because poor areas are dying. Affluent areas are growing (especially in the religious South) and churches are growing with them.

  • Leif

    And on that note…

    Larry @4

    “They simply feel guilty that they don’t have the spare money, and I mean by that, they don’t ever have the money nor foresee they ever will. There’s always that “Don’t worry about it now, but when you get back up on your feet you can” pressure.”

    After leaving the quasi-growth church I have since started attending another LCMS Church in a higher fallutin’ area (I’m still, btw, pauper poor) and it wasn’t until that happened that I started to really feel the eyes from what you said above. To such an extant that at one service (we’re having a capital drive) the pastor called out an older member as having given something like 400K and how great that is. Meanwhile, I’m sitting there feeling like I need to be out by the burning trashcans warming my hands and eating sterno. I’m there because I want to be in Church but I’d just like it if the gut punches would come a little less frequently.

    I guess, the in short of this is that I can testify to the fact that when a church ups and leaves the “ghetto” it has a dramatic affect on the people still stuck in the mud–even if they can find alternate churches. I can’t say that I ever left the church or any of that but it does leave a sour taste in my mouth because you end up feeling a lot less valued than your richer counterparts.

  • Leif

    And on that note…

    Larry @4

    “They simply feel guilty that they don’t have the spare money, and I mean by that, they don’t ever have the money nor foresee they ever will. There’s always that “Don’t worry about it now, but when you get back up on your feet you can” pressure.”

    After leaving the quasi-growth church I have since started attending another LCMS Church in a higher fallutin’ area (I’m still, btw, pauper poor) and it wasn’t until that happened that I started to really feel the eyes from what you said above. To such an extant that at one service (we’re having a capital drive) the pastor called out an older member as having given something like 400K and how great that is. Meanwhile, I’m sitting there feeling like I need to be out by the burning trashcans warming my hands and eating sterno. I’m there because I want to be in Church but I’d just like it if the gut punches would come a little less frequently.

    I guess, the in short of this is that I can testify to the fact that when a church ups and leaves the “ghetto” it has a dramatic affect on the people still stuck in the mud–even if they can find alternate churches. I can’t say that I ever left the church or any of that but it does leave a sour taste in my mouth because you end up feeling a lot less valued than your richer counterparts.

  • Tom Hering

    Has anyone conducted a survey among the poor and the working class to discover their reasons for being less religious than they used to be? I mean, as opposed to our theories.

  • Tom Hering

    Has anyone conducted a survey among the poor and the working class to discover their reasons for being less religious than they used to be? I mean, as opposed to our theories.

  • Steve Billingsley

    Tom @ 20
    That’s a good question. I’m sure there has been some work done, but I am not familiar with it.

  • Steve Billingsley

    Tom @ 20
    That’s a good question. I’m sure there has been some work done, but I am not familiar with it.

  • Tom Hering

    Leif @ 19, maybe you could nail a photocopy of James 2 to the door. :-D

  • Tom Hering

    Leif @ 19, maybe you could nail a photocopy of James 2 to the door. :-D

  • Dust

    you can hear and see (hopefully) Dr. Murray in his own words here (it’s from the hoover institute series uncommon knowledge):

    http://www.hoover.org/multimedia/uncommon-knowledge/by-guest/9511

    give it a try….he won’t bite you :)

    cheers!

  • Dust

    you can hear and see (hopefully) Dr. Murray in his own words here (it’s from the hoover institute series uncommon knowledge):

    http://www.hoover.org/multimedia/uncommon-knowledge/by-guest/9511

    give it a try….he won’t bite you :)

    cheers!

  • Leif

    Tom @22

    Ha! The thing that keeps me from getting too angry and acting out is that I’m not sure where the bad feelings come from. Should it matter to me if a guy gave 5 Bajillion dollars and is thanked for it? Probably not. I’m still treated well. People say hi to me. I mean, shoot, if I had the money to spare–I’d probably do the same thing. So it seems like it’s probably my own hang-ups that bring out the worst feelings.

    I try to not comment on things here (I don’t really have much to say) but the poor vs rich church thing always gets me personally and riles up the blood. Mostly I just wanted to cite an example of the mainline church pulling up anchor on the ghetto in search of better prospects.

  • Leif

    Tom @22

    Ha! The thing that keeps me from getting too angry and acting out is that I’m not sure where the bad feelings come from. Should it matter to me if a guy gave 5 Bajillion dollars and is thanked for it? Probably not. I’m still treated well. People say hi to me. I mean, shoot, if I had the money to spare–I’d probably do the same thing. So it seems like it’s probably my own hang-ups that bring out the worst feelings.

    I try to not comment on things here (I don’t really have much to say) but the poor vs rich church thing always gets me personally and riles up the blood. Mostly I just wanted to cite an example of the mainline church pulling up anchor on the ghetto in search of better prospects.

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

    not to be a jerk, but how are sub urban mega churches different from the old cathedrals? Because back in the day, Rome had prominence because it was where the influential rich people lived. Now, people and pastors listen to what mega church pastors have to say because they want the same kind of thing they see the mega church leader has.

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

    not to be a jerk, but how are sub urban mega churches different from the old cathedrals? Because back in the day, Rome had prominence because it was where the influential rich people lived. Now, people and pastors listen to what mega church pastors have to say because they want the same kind of thing they see the mega church leader has.

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

    “Has anyone conducted a survey among the poor and the working class to discover their reasons for being less religious than they used to be? I mean, as opposed to our theories.”

    Let’s be clear here.

    Higher income correlates to lower levels of belief and higher levels of attendance.

    Lower income correlates to higher levels of belief and lower levels of attendance.

    Basically higher income correlates to doing what you say you believe. Lower income, not so much. Probably lower levels of conscientiousness.

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

    “Has anyone conducted a survey among the poor and the working class to discover their reasons for being less religious than they used to be? I mean, as opposed to our theories.”

    Let’s be clear here.

    Higher income correlates to lower levels of belief and higher levels of attendance.

    Lower income correlates to higher levels of belief and lower levels of attendance.

    Basically higher income correlates to doing what you say you believe. Lower income, not so much. Probably lower levels of conscientiousness.

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

    “While I agree with your broader points I’d like to bring up that my old “mainline” church did exactly the thing that you said they don’t do. “

    Yeah, I know congregations that moved their buildings to the burbs because the people of the congregation had already mostly moved. My mother-in-law’s ELCA church just completed their move a little while ago. They now have a new building further out. She is now much farther from church.

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

    “While I agree with your broader points I’d like to bring up that my old “mainline” church did exactly the thing that you said they don’t do. “

    Yeah, I know congregations that moved their buildings to the burbs because the people of the congregation had already mostly moved. My mother-in-law’s ELCA church just completed their move a little while ago. They now have a new building further out. She is now much farther from church.

  • Dust

    Tom at 20….our theories? that’s just another fancy name for our opinions, eh?

    not sure who said it, but it’s something like, we are entitled to our own opinions, but not our own facts?

    for some facts, regardless of our opinion of them, or theories to explain them, please check out the link in 23 (click on the name in red “Charles Murray on Coming Apart”)….it’s from the hoover institution at stanford university, a wonderful place in my opinion :)

    cheers!

  • Dust

    Tom at 20….our theories? that’s just another fancy name for our opinions, eh?

    not sure who said it, but it’s something like, we are entitled to our own opinions, but not our own facts?

    for some facts, regardless of our opinion of them, or theories to explain them, please check out the link in 23 (click on the name in red “Charles Murray on Coming Apart”)….it’s from the hoover institution at stanford university, a wonderful place in my opinion :)

    cheers!

  • SKPeterson

    Maybe poor people don’t go to church because they’re working Sunday mornings at the restaurants people go to after the service lets out, or at the grocery stores and malls everyone heads to after lunch. Or maybe they got off their late factory shift which runs Monday evening through Saturday starting at 10 pm and they’re just too tired. That was me for a few years.

  • SKPeterson

    Maybe poor people don’t go to church because they’re working Sunday mornings at the restaurants people go to after the service lets out, or at the grocery stores and malls everyone heads to after lunch. Or maybe they got off their late factory shift which runs Monday evening through Saturday starting at 10 pm and they’re just too tired. That was me for a few years.

  • Cincinnatus

    In addition to SKPeterson’s (probably valid) hypothesis @29, I’ll contribute a few more variables that explain the absence of poor and working class folks from church pews:

    1) A collapse in the social perception that one ought to be in church on Sundays. I suspect that there weren’t all that many “true believers” in, say, the 1950′s than there are now. There was simply quite a lot of implicit social pressure that dictated one ought to be sitting in the pew on Sunday mornings. Similarly, when I was growing up–not so long ago, in the South–it was still frowned upon to do loud yardwork, open a business (except for restaurants), etc. on Sunday. Now no one cares. “Society” as a collective no longer gives a rip whether you’re in church every week. Most people who go to church these days are doing so purely voluntarily because they are deeply committed to their faith and its practices. This was not always the case–until relatively recently.

    Which may relate to #2…

    2) Part of Murray’s thesis in Coming Apart is that the lower classes are, well, coming apart because they no longer have access to concrete exemplars of appropriately moral patterns of living in the form of bourgeois families actually living morally and successfully. Why? Because the middle class white folks have moved as far away from the poor people as possible. Class stratification is geographically higher than it’s ever been in America. You can claim that this thesis is “elitist” or “patronizing” to poor people, but the idea is that the average white trash teenager doesn’t see successful middle class people on a daily basis, and is thus unable to draw any kind of implicit connections between their choices for familial stability, etc., and their material success. (Murray argues somewhat sanctimoniously that the middle and upper class people should therefore move back to “Fishtown,” but I’m not sure that’s a tenable or attractive solution.)

    3) If you don’t live near a thriving megachurch, what’s the point in going to church? As sg notes, most working class people profess an often fervent faith in God. So? Believing in God doesn’t have anything intrinsic to do with showing up in church every Sunday or handing over 10% of your paycheck to a smarmy cleric. Churches used to provide holistic communal goods: they were a site for regular neighborhood gatherings, they provided numerous “social” services like education (both sacred and secular) to local children, etc.–in general, they were “pillars of the community” in a literal, tangible sense. Now the average church in working-class neighborhoods is open a few hours per week for abbreviated services. If you’re a single mother, knocked up by your abusive alcoholic boyfriend, with no manners or proper clothing, paying for your frozen dinners with your welfare check, what does the church offer you?

    We could add several more reasons here, I’m sure.

  • Cincinnatus

    In addition to SKPeterson’s (probably valid) hypothesis @29, I’ll contribute a few more variables that explain the absence of poor and working class folks from church pews:

    1) A collapse in the social perception that one ought to be in church on Sundays. I suspect that there weren’t all that many “true believers” in, say, the 1950′s than there are now. There was simply quite a lot of implicit social pressure that dictated one ought to be sitting in the pew on Sunday mornings. Similarly, when I was growing up–not so long ago, in the South–it was still frowned upon to do loud yardwork, open a business (except for restaurants), etc. on Sunday. Now no one cares. “Society” as a collective no longer gives a rip whether you’re in church every week. Most people who go to church these days are doing so purely voluntarily because they are deeply committed to their faith and its practices. This was not always the case–until relatively recently.

    Which may relate to #2…

    2) Part of Murray’s thesis in Coming Apart is that the lower classes are, well, coming apart because they no longer have access to concrete exemplars of appropriately moral patterns of living in the form of bourgeois families actually living morally and successfully. Why? Because the middle class white folks have moved as far away from the poor people as possible. Class stratification is geographically higher than it’s ever been in America. You can claim that this thesis is “elitist” or “patronizing” to poor people, but the idea is that the average white trash teenager doesn’t see successful middle class people on a daily basis, and is thus unable to draw any kind of implicit connections between their choices for familial stability, etc., and their material success. (Murray argues somewhat sanctimoniously that the middle and upper class people should therefore move back to “Fishtown,” but I’m not sure that’s a tenable or attractive solution.)

    3) If you don’t live near a thriving megachurch, what’s the point in going to church? As sg notes, most working class people profess an often fervent faith in God. So? Believing in God doesn’t have anything intrinsic to do with showing up in church every Sunday or handing over 10% of your paycheck to a smarmy cleric. Churches used to provide holistic communal goods: they were a site for regular neighborhood gatherings, they provided numerous “social” services like education (both sacred and secular) to local children, etc.–in general, they were “pillars of the community” in a literal, tangible sense. Now the average church in working-class neighborhoods is open a few hours per week for abbreviated services. If you’re a single mother, knocked up by your abusive alcoholic boyfriend, with no manners or proper clothing, paying for your frozen dinners with your welfare check, what does the church offer you?

    We could add several more reasons here, I’m sure.

  • Steve Billingsley

    Cincinnatus @ 30
    I think that all of the above are true to some extent and you can add one more that is related to #1
    Pop culture used to reinforce traditional (some would say bourgeois) values and behavior patterns. Ward and June Cleaver (or Ozzie and Harriett) were presented as the “typical” heads of household and while there wasn’t any religiosity displayed – they were married, Dad held down a regular job and was involved in disciplining the kids (in a loving, benevolent, if sometimes befuddled way). Kids weren’t openly disrespectful to their parents or other authority figures and other social institutions such as school, police, firefighters, etc. were presented in a positive light.

    Now, not so much.

    I think pop culture has an enormous influence, particularly where other institutions such as family and church are dysfunctional or absent.

  • Steve Billingsley

    Cincinnatus @ 30
    I think that all of the above are true to some extent and you can add one more that is related to #1
    Pop culture used to reinforce traditional (some would say bourgeois) values and behavior patterns. Ward and June Cleaver (or Ozzie and Harriett) were presented as the “typical” heads of household and while there wasn’t any religiosity displayed – they were married, Dad held down a regular job and was involved in disciplining the kids (in a loving, benevolent, if sometimes befuddled way). Kids weren’t openly disrespectful to their parents or other authority figures and other social institutions such as school, police, firefighters, etc. were presented in a positive light.

    Now, not so much.

    I think pop culture has an enormous influence, particularly where other institutions such as family and church are dysfunctional or absent.

  • Dust

    wish it were just the church and pop culture..but it’s education and economics, political and medical, social and lifestyles…it’s systemic and huge and not going away anytime soon…..although the rich will always be comfortable and generally happy, albeit in more and more closed communities?

    am not much of a scholar on all this, it’s just my opinion :)

    cheers!

  • Dust

    wish it were just the church and pop culture..but it’s education and economics, political and medical, social and lifestyles…it’s systemic and huge and not going away anytime soon…..although the rich will always be comfortable and generally happy, albeit in more and more closed communities?

    am not much of a scholar on all this, it’s just my opinion :)

    cheers!

  • helen

    Anyone who values discipline, education, safe streets and the like will move, if they can afford it, to find those things. More and more those things are reserved for the people who can afford complexes that are not only gated but have guards on duty.

    Schools are not improved by the people who flee them to “homeschool” but I can’t say that I blame them for doing it.
    [The 1% send their kids to private schools so they have no clue at all.]

    Churches in old neighborhoods had schools once. The children grew up and went where their jobs took them. Eventually the school had to close. It’s an uphill job to rebuild a church with few children in the congregation, but a couple of my friends are trying.

  • helen

    Anyone who values discipline, education, safe streets and the like will move, if they can afford it, to find those things. More and more those things are reserved for the people who can afford complexes that are not only gated but have guards on duty.

    Schools are not improved by the people who flee them to “homeschool” but I can’t say that I blame them for doing it.
    [The 1% send their kids to private schools so they have no clue at all.]

    Churches in old neighborhoods had schools once. The children grew up and went where their jobs took them. Eventually the school had to close. It’s an uphill job to rebuild a church with few children in the congregation, but a couple of my friends are trying.

  • Dust

    another problem is we don’t have good music any more like this one:

    cheers!

  • Dust

    another problem is we don’t have good music any more like this one:

    cheers!

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

    People don’t move away from lower income areas because they are snobs. They move away when the neighborhoods are not safe. Safety is the motivating factor.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/07/american-murder-mystery/306872/

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

    People don’t move away from lower income areas because they are snobs. They move away when the neighborhoods are not safe. Safety is the motivating factor.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/07/american-murder-mystery/306872/

  • larry

    SG,

    I don’t know of any en masse research, but the point of my real life recollection and Leif’s is was that, whether or not this is a “trend” issue, these are real life accounts and not theory. May just be my ‘neck of the woods’ and Liefs but in those two particulars, it’s not theory. I generally don’t give names of family and friends in particular on open blogs for multiple reasons but I assure you the account I give is real life, real people, real events.

    If its one thing my short involvment with a very larger heavy church growth movement type church did do for me was give me an inside of how operations are. That’s why a lot of the funny business going on in the LCMS is so identifiable to me, if you’ve already “been there”, then you smell coming a mile a way. I was very intimately involved with our outreach back then and extremely active. I can tell you, by mutliple direct and indirect accounts, churches and events, that such churches do in fact conscienciously actively target by design the “upper crust” and yes it does have to do with money. Of course pragmatic arguments are given so that you don’t sound like you are saying, “I’m looking to evangelize/outreach the 250K+ areas”. And of course to assuage this you outreach, over top of the local “ghettos” and lower crust, to overseas poor areas. But locally “you want” top dollar. Top dollar tithes. Tithes pay for things and so forth. It’s simple math and business models. Oh you are not going to directly turn down the poor guy that comes in locally, but he’s not your target. That’s the way the model works. Its 101 in church growth movements, even classes are given if you are serious about it.

    Mormons do the same thing if you look at their bee hive model. Why do I know this? Because we would counter target their areas and their areas always had high dollar houses in them on the highest end of town.

    It’s not as if you totally ignore the local poor, but its not the model. And you want your church in a “nice” area because of curb appeal. And again, you give pragmatic reasons for it.

    Hell if you want to basically get an inexpensive practical baseline pragmatic real time business education/experience, don’t waste thousands of dollars and student loans at the university. Join a church growth church. Of course I’m being sarcastic.

  • larry

    SG,

    I don’t know of any en masse research, but the point of my real life recollection and Leif’s is was that, whether or not this is a “trend” issue, these are real life accounts and not theory. May just be my ‘neck of the woods’ and Liefs but in those two particulars, it’s not theory. I generally don’t give names of family and friends in particular on open blogs for multiple reasons but I assure you the account I give is real life, real people, real events.

    If its one thing my short involvment with a very larger heavy church growth movement type church did do for me was give me an inside of how operations are. That’s why a lot of the funny business going on in the LCMS is so identifiable to me, if you’ve already “been there”, then you smell coming a mile a way. I was very intimately involved with our outreach back then and extremely active. I can tell you, by mutliple direct and indirect accounts, churches and events, that such churches do in fact conscienciously actively target by design the “upper crust” and yes it does have to do with money. Of course pragmatic arguments are given so that you don’t sound like you are saying, “I’m looking to evangelize/outreach the 250K+ areas”. And of course to assuage this you outreach, over top of the local “ghettos” and lower crust, to overseas poor areas. But locally “you want” top dollar. Top dollar tithes. Tithes pay for things and so forth. It’s simple math and business models. Oh you are not going to directly turn down the poor guy that comes in locally, but he’s not your target. That’s the way the model works. Its 101 in church growth movements, even classes are given if you are serious about it.

    Mormons do the same thing if you look at their bee hive model. Why do I know this? Because we would counter target their areas and their areas always had high dollar houses in them on the highest end of town.

    It’s not as if you totally ignore the local poor, but its not the model. And you want your church in a “nice” area because of curb appeal. And again, you give pragmatic reasons for it.

    Hell if you want to basically get an inexpensive practical baseline pragmatic real time business education/experience, don’t waste thousands of dollars and student loans at the university. Join a church growth church. Of course I’m being sarcastic.

  • larry

    “Churches in old neighborhoods had schools once”.

    Helen I agree and lament similarly.

    “Schools are not improved by the people who flee them to “homeschool” but I can’t say that I blame them for doing it.”

    But that’s neither directly their intent nor goal. None the less, that is not entirely true, you just don’t see the immediate direct affect of it but indirectly and often years later. Because many of these homeschoolers go onto advance degrees in teaching and improve from the top down by then becoming vocationally teachers at universities and schools, replacing the old guard as it were (you have to think bigger, longer term and not just immediate). Why? Because they know where the baseline principles have been jettisoned for “methods” and “achieving goals to get more funding” rather than teaching kids. Other indirect affects are very local and subtle, meaning you’d only see it if you lived there long enough with eyes open. On the ground in the trenches good teachers in public systems that have friends and family doing this begin to learn and pick up on it and very locally employ it in their own class rooms. No you are not going to see it in government statistic nor is it largely going to be “in the news” but its there quietly working. Homeschooling also has largely shown an up tick in what use to be appreciated other government run agencies and such that have fallen by the wayside and disinterest. Homeschoolers more use the public library system, the local farm and nature agencies and so forth to learn. Public schools talk about environmental things in an agenda form, homeschools learn from actual experts in the field what nature is. Local expertise, such as music instruction is more tapped by these, other local arts the same (one more and more sees such folks “marketing” to homeschoolers because of this), and thus it locally helps the small economy. What one sees is the transfer of the knowledge of actual vocations rather than “methods” indirectly and poorly attempting to do the same.

  • larry

    “Churches in old neighborhoods had schools once”.

    Helen I agree and lament similarly.

    “Schools are not improved by the people who flee them to “homeschool” but I can’t say that I blame them for doing it.”

    But that’s neither directly their intent nor goal. None the less, that is not entirely true, you just don’t see the immediate direct affect of it but indirectly and often years later. Because many of these homeschoolers go onto advance degrees in teaching and improve from the top down by then becoming vocationally teachers at universities and schools, replacing the old guard as it were (you have to think bigger, longer term and not just immediate). Why? Because they know where the baseline principles have been jettisoned for “methods” and “achieving goals to get more funding” rather than teaching kids. Other indirect affects are very local and subtle, meaning you’d only see it if you lived there long enough with eyes open. On the ground in the trenches good teachers in public systems that have friends and family doing this begin to learn and pick up on it and very locally employ it in their own class rooms. No you are not going to see it in government statistic nor is it largely going to be “in the news” but its there quietly working. Homeschooling also has largely shown an up tick in what use to be appreciated other government run agencies and such that have fallen by the wayside and disinterest. Homeschoolers more use the public library system, the local farm and nature agencies and so forth to learn. Public schools talk about environmental things in an agenda form, homeschools learn from actual experts in the field what nature is. Local expertise, such as music instruction is more tapped by these, other local arts the same (one more and more sees such folks “marketing” to homeschoolers because of this), and thus it locally helps the small economy. What one sees is the transfer of the knowledge of actual vocations rather than “methods” indirectly and poorly attempting to do the same.


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