Christian, Christian-influenced, and anti-Christian

Ross Douthat, a Catholic columnist for the New York Times, has written about the difference between some of the various strains of orthodox Christianity and the various heresies that are still in the Christian orbit (including what he calls “Americanized Christianity”).  Then there is Christian influence, which can even be seen in people who reject Christianity.  But at some point, as we are starting to see, there is a mindset and a culture that are utterly devoid of anything Christian.  Please read his whole essay, but I quote how he finishes after the jump. [Read more...]

Winfield, Kansas, and the musical world

I have been gorging myself on western and midwestern small-town culture, since retiring.  In the last few weeks, I’ve been to a rodeo, a county fair, and Charlie Adams Day (a festival honoring a town legend and his horse).  Last week I attended a huge event that shows just how influential a small town can be.

Winfield is a little town in rural Kansas that was the home of the now defunct but much-beloved Lutheran school St. John’s College.  It was also the home of a man named S. L. Mossman.  He made guitars.  Really good guitars.  In the 1960s, more and more people wanted them, and his business grew, though he refused to mass produce the guitars and kept making them by hand.  After awhile, his company sponsored a competition there in Winfield for the best flat-pick guitar player.  Around that event grew a festival, with more championships (in finger-style guitar, mandolin, banjo, dulcimer, autoharp, and fiddle) and performances in bluegrass, folk, and other kinds of acoustic music.  Thus was born the Walnut Valley Festival, which has launched the careers of countless musicians and has become one of the premier events in American music.

My brother Jimmy, author of the most-read post ever on this blog, and I went to Winfield last week for the festival along with my friend the musician, novelist, and pastor, the right Rev. Fred Baue.  After the jump, I will tell you of our adventures, my musical discoveries with YouTube videos, and some of what I learned. [Read more...]

Why football?

A reporter transplanted from Chicago to work on the Daily Oklahoman who cares nothing for football was given the assignment to find out why Oklahomans care so much about the sport.

This turned into an interesting article, which I excerpt and link to after the jump, whereupon I then raise questions for my fellow football fans. [Read more...]

Hackers enforcing morality?

So the Ashley Madison site, designed to hook up people who want to commit adultery, was hacked, leading to the release of data about some of the website’s 30 million customers (including already disgraced “family values” activist Josh Duggar).

This has created some indignation about the hackers’ “public shaming” of would-be adulterers.  But the fear of public shaming has kept people in line across all cultures for millennia, enforcing the external morality that is necessary for social order (a.k.a. “the first use of the Law”).  The internet has promised to get around that with total secrecy and anonymity, but the web isn’t as secret and anonymous as people assume.

So do you consider the Ashley Madison hacks to be egregious violations of privacy, or a fitting outing of cheating husbands and wives? [Read more...]

Now sexual orientation is seen as “fluid”

Now that gays have won the right to marry, the tune is changing.  Instead of the view that homosexuality is a fixed, permanent, non-alterable state, the word now, including among gays, is that sexual preference is “fluid” and exists along a continuum.

Kinsey’s scale, ranking people somewhere along the continuum of exclusively heterosexual (zero) to exclusively homosexual (6), has come back, with everybody in between to some degree or another being bisexual.  (Watch for a new trend of people sharing their numbers in this sense.)

A study in the UK, using this continuum,  found that 49% of British 18-24 year- olds consider themselves bisexual!  With three times as many as other age groups saying they are gay.  The study has other age groups at 19% on the bi-continuum.  (But when asked if they are  clear-cut gay or bi-, only 1.5% of men were the former and 0.3% were the latter.)

How could young people have such high rates if sexuality is genetically or biologically determined?  Could a hypersexualized culture have something to do with it? [Read more...]

Why there is heroin in the heartland

Heroin used to be a plague in the big cities, but today heroin addiction is rampant in the small towns of America’s heartland.  Rod Dreher reviews what sounds like an important book, Sam Quinones, Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic.  It is a tale of a peaceful network of illegal immigrants, a new marketing strategy featuring personal deliveries and customer service, and the legacy of pain pill addiction.  Underlying it all is the goal of avoiding all pain and of attaining a state of “permanent pleasure.” [Read more...]