That’s what they said

“This myth that slideshows are the path to salvation has got to be put into a rocket and sent hurtling into the sun.”

But what about the dolphin babies?

“My experience as a bully has been fundamental to the creation of my conscience, because it is what prevents me from making the basic human claim that I am a good person.”

“That this scenario describes fewer and fewer of us with each passing day is of little account.”

You are hereby granted permission to evolve on same-sex marriage.”

This is Richard Boyle, who makes his living in one of the most repugnant ways imaginable.

“While Americans across the board get the president’s religion wrong, the religious group that most often thinks Obama is Muslim is white evangelical Protestants.”

It’s a terrible thing to bear false witness.”

“In my opinion there is no reason for a festive Council Gala but rather for an honest service of penance or a funeral service.”

A Roman Catholic cardinal and his top aides lied to their lawyer about shredding a key piece of evidence in the Philadelphia clergy-abuse scandal, the lawyer testified Monday.”

“So if Chaput ‘cleaned up’ the Legionaries, but they never were really cleaned up, and if he’s now ‘cleaning up’ Philadelphia, what does this breaking news mean about the Philadelphia situation?”

“Cardinal Timothy Dolan has made defeating statute of limitations reform one of his top legislative priorities.”

“The church’s credibility in the eyes of many, many Catholics has become so thin you can practically see through it.”

“The nun’s firm but understated conviction about the need to simply do the right thing sent a ripple of excitement through courtroom spectators.”

“All bureaucracies are good at one thing: self-perpetuation. They may be good at other things, too, but the propagation of the gospel is not one of those.”

Faith as science or faith as politics is really just science and politics.”

“I can’t think of anything any politician ever has said that has denigrated the allegedly exalted status of ‘faith’ more than that.”

“Romney mentioned 19 people in his speech — all male.”

“I don’t think Mitt Romney is stupid. I do think Romney is operating from the assumption that voters are stupid.”

“More than two dozen faculty members have resigned from Shorter University, a Baptist school in Georgia, after it required them to sign a ‘personal lifestyle statement’ that condemns homosexuality, premarital sex and public drinking.”

“Philip Caminiti, pastor of Aleitheia Bible Church in Black Earth, Wisconsin, argued that his convictions on eight counts of conspiracy to commit child abuse violate his right to religious freedom.”

“Ominously, the shredding of Philadelphia’s public schools isn’t even news outside Philly.”

‘For a woman alone, there is much danger,’ said one female farm worker.”

“For lots of people, bankruptcy has been taken off the table as an option because of the severe fees involved.”

“Edifying anecdotal tales of the remarkable individuals who triumph against all odds are great to hear. But to take those tales and generalize, claiming ‘anyone can do the same if they just try hard enough’ is deceptive and harmful.”

The bill was favored by debt collectors, which buy delinquent accounts from banks and credit card companies for pennies on the dollar.”

Every schmucky right-wing man-led corporation is probably rushing to their lawyer’s office right now to figure which tenet of Scientology they can adopt in their articles of incorporation to keep women from being slut-whores and daring to use contraception.”

The Virgin Daughters

Equality is yet to be attained.”

“‘Holy crap,’ you’re saying, ‘if we have a law that awesome, surely come powerful constituency must be trying to screw it up!’ Right you are.”

“Romney hasn’t actually picked his VP candidate yet, but we can already say with near-100 percent certainly that it’ll be someone who’s skeptical about the climate crisis and doubts that it’s significantly driven by human activity.”

“If you devote your life to elephants, they might come to your funeral.”

“But it turns out the kids hadn’t been burned by the sun, he said; they had been chemically burned by all the acids in the water.”

“The Institute of Medicine refutes the idea that obesity is largely the result of a lack of willpower on the part of individuals.”

“If Canada proceeds, and we do nothing, it will be game over for the climate.”

“They are like islands in the sky, covered with low forests and shrublands that support a diversity of animals.”

Other things to be avoided, according to Jones: Krokus; Jimi Hendrix; Ouija boards; sex-education teachers whose mission is not to teach “but to convert you” to homosexuality; the “pro-homosexual” film Philadelphia; White Zombie; Kurt Cobain and River Phoenix; Larry Cramer [sic], the ‘homosexual and internationally known playwright;’ Tupac; Motley Crue; all religions that are not Christianity; Iron Maiden; ‘the rock group Piledriver.'”

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  • ““All bureaucracies are good at one thing: self-perpetuation. ” indeed

  • Fred, when you consider that every Methodist who has a blog has been blogging for the last two weeks about “The Methodist Fiasco”, what made you choose Tony Jones’ blog to link to?

  • You know, I thought that first article was going to be about the use of slideshows in sermons by megachurch pastors.

  • Evan

    It’s a real pity when a religious group can be defined as not just “Evangelical Protestants,” but “white evangelical Protestants.”

  • That’s what I thought, too.

  • “This myth that slideshows are the path to salvation has got to be put into a rocket and sent hurtling into the sun.”

    Someone should have said that to Bruce Barnes and Paul Campbell. ;)

  • LoneWolf343

     “The bureaucracy is expanding to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy.”

  • If you want a more complete overview of what happened at the UMC General Conference than Tony Jones gave, The United Methodist Reporter has several commentaries that give all sides of the controversy around restructuring:

    If I give a list of permanent links to the commentaries Discus will eat my post, but start with Bishop Willimon’s commentary on May 17 and work your way to the top of the page to We Hyun Chang’s commentary from yesterday and you’ll get a variety of views on what happened.

    Keep in mind that the UMC’s Judicial Committee’s decsion to strike down the restructuring plan as unconstitutional was unanimious vote of nine people who spanned the political spectrum, so personally, I don’t think it was simply a case of  bureaucracies [being] good at one thing: self-perpetuation. The church does have a constitution; the committee charged with interpreting that constitution couldn’t just ignore it. However, as I said, the special commenters in the UM Reporter give a variety of points of view, so you aren’t stuck with just mine.

  • Lori


    You know, I thought that first article was going to be about the use of slideshows in sermons by megachurch pastors.  

    I thought the same thing—and I had already read the article at The Atlantic. I think there’s a lesson in there somewhere for both editors and megachurch pastors. I leave it to them to suss it out.

  • mud man

    Is there a pernicious myth that context-free links to other sites generate goodness if people just poke a few of them at random? Or what?

  • Dash1

    OK, I’m confused. I’ve looked over the documents, but I don’t know what to look for. Could someone summarize the “Methodist fiasco” for me in a few words? Because what I could read of the General Conference sounded like pretty much every denomination’s general conference.

    Sorry to be so obtuse, and not that it’s any of my business, but I’m just wondering….


    “The bureaucracy is expanding to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy.”

    One of the many quotes that I will always hear in Leonard Nimoy’s voice. (Well, except for the ones that are in Sid Meier’s voice.)

  • I can’t believe we’re fighting over the right to contraception. CONTRACEPTION. Welcome to 1890.

    I can’t believe we still live in a world in which people think they have the right to tell anyone not to have sex without marriage. A world in which anyone thinks that they have the right to screech at women who have sex without being married to the person or persons they’re having sex with. A world in which anyone thinks they have the right to tell women not to use birth control!

    Well, as one of those evil slut-whores who has had a whole lot of sex without being married and without having kids, I do feel a little smug. You see, I’ve had a whole lot of great sex. And the assholes who think there’s something wrong with me for that quite obviously have not. 

  • Sort of.

    Let’s say you have no moral compunctions about using other people’s hard work to make money, without caring what the people have to say about it. And you have a for-profit website called You pull a lot of shady tricks to increase your Google rank. Then you link to a bunch of sites, including If you’re good enough at shady tricks, when someone searches for the CuteKittens website, the first link Google will pull up is for 

    Edit: Those are imaginary sites, don’t bother clicking. Here is a cute kitten though:

  •  Any excuse to blog-whore my post on Marty Tinglehoffs “Expose on Rock, Soul, and Country Music” at

    It’s the all-time leader in hits at my blog.

  • It’s hard to explain in a few words. One of the issues at the conference was a proposal for restructuring the way the church is governed, that had been in the works for some time. In addition to the main proposal, there was a second proposal, called Plan B, and a third that would not call for restructuring but that would downsize the current commissions. None of the plans made it out of committee. A fourth plan, Plan UMC,  was cobbled together behind the scenes and passed by the General Conference by a wide margin. It was then sent to the Judicial Committee to review whether it was constitutional. Around 4 PM on the last day of the conference, the Judicial Committee announced its unanimous decision that the plan was not just unconstitutional, but “unsalvageable”. I wrote about it here, but I can’t promise my account is particularly coherent.

  • Tonio

    From the Ethics Daily article: “In
    order to have the doctrine of creation taught in public schools,
    creationists were willing to yield to science the role as the final
    arbiter of truth.” No, most of them probably still believe that scientific truth is subordinate to biblical truth. They’re merely making a show of using scientific methods as a propaganda tactic while rejecting the principles behind them. They’ve turned science on its head, starting with a conclusion and then searching for evidence that supports the conclusion instead of letting the evidence drive the conclusion. Some of them may desire scientific validation, but I suspect most are really trying to defeat science on its own turf.

  • friendly reader

    Okay, that program on Purity Balls made me so mad, and I need to rant why.

    I have an excellent relationship with my father, one that started when I was a child. He’s not perfect, but he’s a great guy, and yes, I’d love to marry a man as reliable and honest and nice as him. Not exactly like him, mind you, because my dad’s and my personality are way too similar and that would be a total disaster. Also, he’s never learned to not put clothes in the dryer on high heat.

    And yeah, I do think having a good parental role models can help people in the long run for choosing a spouse. If you’ve seen a functional, happy marriage modeled for you your whole life, you may have your head on straight when it comes to finally deciding on who you want to marry. And I sympathize with the two fathers who imagine they can use “purity” as a way of keeping their children from going through what they did.

    But OH MY GOD the creepy way that it’s all tied in with your daddy as your first husband! Ew ew ew ew. Your dad is supposed to be your dad, not the prototype of the person you marry. Yes, he should be a role model of good behavior; yes, he should help his daughter’s self-esteem. But he shouldn’t be the object of her love letters or her date to a ball. You’re introducing romance into a familial relationship. I don’t care how you parse it, that’s incestuous.

    Also, why no credit to mothers? My mother and I are very close, and she’s a large part of why I don’t feel I ever have to “settle” for a man or rush into relationships. She’s modeled being an independent woman who is happily married to her best friend. She’s been there for me when I’ve cried over always being the socially awkward girl with mental health problems who was convinced she would never be with someone*.

    And how are you helping with self-esteem by telling girls that it’s all tied up on pushing your lips onto someone else’s? One bad choice and they’re worthless? Hell, as we all know things don’t always even happen by choice. Does rape count as losing your virginity?

    And how are you helping people stay celibate when you give such high regard to the idea of “one true love.” If you then turn down several men before finally picking one, how is the girl not supposed to interpret that as her “sign” that she’s finally met Mr. Right that she can bestow her First Everything on?

    And lastly, if I ever finally do consider a guy marriage material, I will want to screen him by my parents – to see if he likes them, not if they like him. My family is an important part of my life, and I want everyone to mesh.

    *I still haven’t, really, at age 28. I’ve dated all of one guy, briefly. This is not due so much to any sort of commitment to celibacy as to my own weird self. I have a number of mental and physical health issues, as well as strange and picky libido coupled with bad luck. Hence a lot of unrequited lusting that might’ve amounted to something, but he was in a relationship of some kind already. I’ve never been in a situation where I’ve even had to think about whether I wanted to wait until I was married or not. While I’d like to meet someone to marry, someday (though I have no real interest in having children), it’s rather low on my list of priorities, after getting a steady job, writing a book and collecting all of the manga Urasawa Naoki ever wrote.

  • The linked article on Mark Trail has two beautiful examples of one of my favorite features of the strip — not just random animal closeups, but panels where the animals appear to actually be delivering the dialogue.  The first time I saw this, it took me a moment to realize that the animal was not actually participating in the discussion.

    I’m not sure if I prefer the fish updating us on Sally’s bank account status or the mallard expounding on Snake’s and Jake’s (Snake and Jake?) blood thirst, though.

  • hidden_urchin

    I’m right there with ya’, friendly reader.  The idea that a daughter should have a positive relationship with her father is great.  The execution is squicky to say the least.

    Also, you’re not alone with your relationship status.  I, too, am mid-20s and have not dated due to an interesting and complex combination of circumstances and personality.  Never even kissed a guy.  Sometimes I feel a bit awkward and left out but it really is healthier for me (and the other person) to be highly selective about close relationships (any relationship, not just potentially romantic ones) due to my personality quirks.

  • Ken

    “Every schmucky right-wing man-led corporation is probably rushing to their lawyer’s office right now to figure which tenet of Scientology they can adopt in their articles of incorporation to keep women from being slut-whores and daring to use contraception.”

    I wish I could be so optimistic. I’m expecting some sort of Jehovah’s Witness-Scientology-Christian Science hybrid that disallows contraception, transfusions, anesthesia, psychiatric care, surgery, dentistry, and antibiotics.

  • Daughter

    Ya know, my daughter is seven, and she has a very involved father. But I have never heard her say, “When I grow up, I want to marry my daddy.” According to the minister in the video, that’s what little girls want.

    Instead, what makes my daughter feel good about herself and secure is when her father is loving toward me. When we’re mad at each other, she wants us to apologize to each other. When we’re cuddly, she laughs and claps.


    Did anyone read the bullying article? (3rd one down). It’s very moving.

  • hidden_urchin

    Yeah, I can honestly say that I have neither ever wanted to marry my father nor do I really want to marry anyone like him.  That includes when I was a kid.

  • Attn:  To Whom It May Concern.

    In the off chance that I ever get married, I do not, repeat, do not want to be encouraged to think of myself as my wife’s replacement father.  There may be some of you who find this odd.  Who may think that I and all other men instinctively want to be surrogate fathers to the women we have sex with, and that it must be some modernist corruption that has twisted what I should instinctively want. 

    I assure you this is not the case.  In fact my revulsion to the thought of such a thing comes from a very deep natural, reflexive, primal place in the very heart of my bowels.  This True Christian ‘objective morality’ of yours; these divinely mandated, ‘natural gender roles’ make me physically ill and give me the God damn creeps.  My God but what sort of horrible twisted things are going on between very proper-looking people inside of their very proper-looking McMansions?  

    And by the way; no, I don’t want to marry a virgin either.  If you were able to take pleasure in actually having fun with a woman who knows what she’s doing, instead of only in constantly reassuring yourself of your own supremacy in everything you do; you would understand why I don’t want to marry a virgin. 

  • Trixie_Belden

    Amen to  debunking the whole “girls want to marry someone just like their father” theory.  I was very lucky to have the father I did – he was fair-minded and good-humored.  But he could be a stick-in-the-mud and he had no taste in music.  I often try to imagine how he might have handled a particular situation as a guide when I’m trying to figure something out.  Even though I am but a feeble woman, I would like to think that I can possess the traits I admired in him myself, rather than marrying someone who has them.  Of course, I would like any potential partner to have these good traits.  Who wouldn’t? But the idea that you want to marry someone just like your father seems creepy to me.  I loved my dad, but I’m not a carbon copy of my mom, after all.  I’m different, and I want someone different. 

    Where did that theory come from, anyway?  It turns up in all sorts of places

  • Where did that theory come from, anyway?  It turns up in all sorts of places

    Even Freud had difficulty with it and was uncomfortable with it. He twisted his Oedipal Complex idea into an Electra Complex for women, and realized it didn’t-quite work (not that the Oedipal Complex does, but anyway).

    Though I think in reality it dates back to the idea that a father owns his daughter — which means owning her sexuality, because her sexuality is all a woman is — until he hands her off to the husband he chooses for her. The Christian Church  actually went against this, believe it or not, in saying that the consent of the two people who married was what mattered, and that parental approval meant diddly squat. This meant that parents could not force their children to marry, nor could people who married and regretted it divorce on the grounds of not having parental approval. The Church went against the state in this, and the Church won.

    But certain of the patriarchal state traditions remained, and now people have adopted them as religious traditions. A father giving his daughter away at the altar is a clear (and disgusting) example of this. Your father is in charge of your sexuality until he hands you off to your husband who is then in charge of your sexuality. You never get to be in charge of your sexuality, because duh, you’re a woman, you don’t think you’re a person do you?

  • Saying a woman who is not a virgin is more valuable than a woman who is a virgin isn’t really much better. You’re still placing a woman’s entire value in whether or not she has had sex.

  • And by the way; no, I don’t want to marry a virgin either.  If you were able to take pleasure in actually having fun with a woman who knows what she’s doing, instead of only in constantly reassuring yourself of your own supremacy in everything you do; you would understand why I don’t want to marry a virgin.

    Gosh. Thanks.

  • To tell you the truth, I loathe intimacy and have always shrunk away from any friend, family member or bed partner who has assumed some entitlement to my intimacy.  The strictly physical qualities of good sex are the only  way I am able to imagine ever being able to tolerate not living alone.  As I’ve mentioned before I have no real desire to ever be married.  Or even to be in a ‘serious relationship’, whatever those are.  It has nothing to do with any ‘value’ I place on this or that woman.  They’re people trying to be safe and happy, as I am. 

  • Can you see how this is in fact a judgment, saying women who are not virgins are not good marriage partners? It carries this weight of privilege that presses us down. Women are being judged for our sexuality constantly. We’ve had too much sex, we haven’t had enough, we like it too much, we’re frigid, we dress too sexy, we don’t dress sexy enough, our boobs are too big, they aren’t big enough, we wear too much makeup, we don’t wear enough, we’re gross for shaving our pubic hair, we’re gross for not shaving our pubic hair, we are too fuckable and therefore sluts, we aren’t fuckable and therefore we’re worthless. It is absolutely constant, and though I know you did not intend to add your voice to that chorus, you did.

    But also: the idea that a virgin cannot have good sex is quite incorrect. Yes, the first time isn’t gonna be great. The first time is very rarely great with anyone, no matter how experienced they are. Experience and good sex do not necessarily correlate. Like anything else, great sex is learned, and it’s going to be different with every partner. 

    Personally, I can’t conceive of tolerating sex without intimacy, or of tolerating a marriage without great sex. But that’s me. If you would rather have a different kind of marriage, or no marriage at all, that’s great! But please do not bring women’s “virginity” into it. (Virginity is a fluid concept in any case, as shown by how much hand-wringing is devoted over exactly where the line is between “done it” and “not done it”.)

  •  It has nothing to do with any ‘value’ I place on this or that woman.

    Mr Heartland, you flat-out said that no-one would want to have sex with me for fun, but only so they could feel superior, and that if they wanted to have pleasurable sex they should find someone who isn’t me.

    Damn straight you are judging what my value is.

  • Look, I’m honestly sorry if I hurt you, but no.  I was not placing any value judgment on you or any other virgins.  I was only trying to say that I find the old virgin fetish to be really squicky, at best.  As far as virgins themselves.  Well, they, I mean, you, I guess virginity had become something of an abstraction to me, a distant myth.  I have no memory of the last time I’ve spoken to a virgin, to my knowledge anyway.  I had simply forgotten that there are in fact flesh and blood people who do abstain, for their own moral reasons or something else.  That was wrong of me; and I am sorry. 

  • Dash1

     Thank you! It sounds like quite the bureaucratic debacle, but not one unique to the United Methodists. I’m sorry to hear, from other sources, that they failed to remove the anti-LGBT language from their statement of principles.

    And thank you for the link. Your summary was quite the most coherent thing I’ve read on the subject.

  • Look, I’m honestly sorry if I hurt you, but no.  I was not placing any value judgment on you or any other virgins.

    You may not have been intending to, but you still did.

  • You know, normally society doesn’t place a huge premium on the lack of experience with something. In point of fact, one usually wants those who lack experience with something to get experience, either through theoretical instruction or practical training or a combination of both.

    You wouldn’t let someone who hadn’t even read the instruction manual for your car start trying to change the oil, so by analogy to the need to understand what you’re doing when undertaking a task, why does society seem to bizarrely think that people should not be taught properly about that all-important biological activity known as sex? And why does society seem to insist that women in particular be “preserved” and “special” with no knowledge of what it is they’re going to be doing at some point in their lives, even if it’s just by themselves to start with?

    It’s not like knowledge is transferred by magical osmosis, as much as some people would love to pretend it is.

  • hidden_urchin

    And why does society seem to insist that women in particular be “preserved” and “special” with no knowledge of what it is they’re going to be doing at some point in their lives…”

    Easy.  In a time before DNA testing, the only way to know that the kid belonged to the husband would be to be absolutely certain that the woman had no sexual experience prior to intercourse with him.  This is no trivial matter when power and wealth arre passed through offspring.

  • Don’t forget, until the late 19th century, telegony was one of the core tenets of the “science” of heredity. Even if you were somehow 100% absolutely certain that the woman had been with only one man for ten years prior to the birth of someone’s purported heir, you couldn’t be entirely sure that it was really the son of her husband, and not just one of the baby-seeds that had been planted by a prior lover decades earlier suddenly spontaneously germinating.

    Or heck, maybe they could *both* be the daddy. Worked for Achilles.  

  • Yes, well, it’s the 21st century and frankly, that sort of male-centric attitude really needs to wither away quickly.


    The idea that young people will go out and have irresponsible sex in ever greater numbers if they're taught how to have sex and masturbate in a reasonably safe and enjoyable manner is akin to assuming that people will have more car accidents if they're taught how to properly drive cars.

    I might thus point out that in fact it tends to be precisely those drivers who aren't taught well who tend to get into the most accidents, statistically speaking.

  • Tonio

    And that was a time when women couldn’t own property, which means that the control of female sexuality was about preserving male power and wealth.

  • alfgifu

    Don’t want to pile on you, Mr. Heartland, but just so you know – I got married 32 days ago, at the age of 26, and up until that point I was a virgin.  People like me do exist, and are far more common than you might imagine.  I mean, I was making a deliberate choice to wait for marriage, and I’m aware that that is fairly unusual, but there are plenty of people out there who are waiting for something: the right partner, the right time, the right circumstances.  And most of them won’t go around yodelling about their lack of sexual experience from the rooftops, either.  I wouldn’t be at all surprised if you know more virgins than you think you do.

  • Mr Heartland:

    Upon re-reading, I conclude you really should have just stopped at the second paragraph.

  •  Congrats on your marriage! Hurrah and so forth!

    *hangs out flags*

  • I wouldn’t be at all surprised if you know more virgins than you think you do.

    Especially since it doesn’t exactly come up in conversation in ways that make it natural for you to mention that you’re a virgin…

    I mean – my massage therapist would swear on her life that I’m not a virgin, because when two strangers are chatting about back pain and one says “Maybe your boyfriend could get massage lessons?” a response of “Well, actually, I’m a virgin, so he’s not going to give me massages anyway” is… awkward. In standard small talk, there is NO good place for inserting your virginity into nice chatty conversations about where you’re going on holidays, or your sunburn, or your cat. Which means that our nice chatty conversations about holidays, sunburn, and cats have left my massage therapist with the distinct impression that I’m sleeping with my boyfriend – simply because I’ve never found a polite, non-awkward way to say otherwise.

  • alfgifu

    Thanks, Deird. *cheesy grin of newlywed joy*

    On the thread topic, it’s not so much virginity in and of itself that is the problem, and it’s a pity when people start talking as though it was.  It’s a problem when the value people place on virginity cause them to a) do stupid things, like take their young daughters to a creepy purity ball, and b) push other people into doing stupid things, like not touching or kissing before the wedding day.

    Two parts of that documentary that really struck me were, firstly, the bit where one young woman was asked what she would do if her husband turned out to be a rubbish kisser.  She just laughed it off: of course my fairytale husband will be a good kisser (and presumably, sexually compatible).  That’s dangerous as well as naive, particularly in a culture where her own wishes are likely to be dominated by her father’s idea of a good match.  The second part, the bit that really disgusted me, was the woman (I think she was 21) who said that she’d had some interested suitors, and one who was really keen – a man she hadn’t met much, who had been ruled out by her father after a few interviews.  She’s lost all control of her choices, and is quite relaxed about it.  Eurgh.

    It seems to me that deliberate virginity, like any other sexual choice, should be an informed choice.  Treating it like magic to ensure a good marriage is hideously risky.  The concept of marrying someone without being sure of mutual physical attraction is frankly terrifying.  The concept of letting someone else make all your choices for you is even worse.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Adding to the woohoo congrats for alfgifu :-)

  • Coming from the other end of the gender-roles-and-virginity spectrum, 32-year-old male virgin here. Obviously, the stigma I get is very different, since A Man is Not a Virgin. (Warning: TV tropes link, not safe for your free time.)