7 things at 11 o’clock (6.25)

1. Darrel Dow shares a “Pre-Courtship Questionnaire” he says was “received from a church in fundy circles.” It lists 423 questions.

Part of me thinks this must be some kind of parody, but then I don’t think someone writing a parody would have the obsessive determination to just go on and on and on and on and on with the joke like this. The sheer amount of work it took to create this much of whatever-this-is suggests it’s genuine. Genuinely what I can’t fully say.

2. Gene Robinson on how, again, sometimes the biggest news is that what used to be big news is no longer big news.

3. Here’s a Greenwald article on how Big Data is creating “a groundswell of social good.” That’s Ted Greenwald, not the other one. It’s an interesting look at Rayid Ghani’s ideas for how to harness big data for collaboration and hopey change-y goodness.

4. Richard Beck writes about memory and old-time gospel hymns, including “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.”

Here’s the greatest version of that song ever recorded, a duet between Robert Mitchum and Lillian Gish. “It’s a hard world for little things.”

I’d bet the Coen brothers had that scene in mind when they decided to use Iris Dement’s terrific version of the song in True Grit.

5. “A place that’s far, so far away.” The song. The person who inspired it. (via) Rockville is in that radio deadzone between Philly and D.C., so I always wind up with this song stuck in my head when I’m driving that way on I-95.

6. Congratulations to New Civil Rights Movement founder David Badash and Caleb Eigsti.

7. “Well, I’m at home at about 12 – I’d say about 11:30, almost 12 o’clock at night. And I’m hunkered down in my bed with my husband, very pregnant, and we got a call from a dear friend of mine and producer named Jack Nitzsche. Jack Nitzsche called and said you know, Merry, are you busy? I said No, I’m in bed. he says, well, you know, There are some guys in town from England. And they need someone to come and sing a duet with them, but I can’t get anybody to do it. Could you come?”


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  • Carstonio

    I suppose Rockville would qualify as a factory town in the metaphorical sense, assuming most residents work for the federal government or its contractors.


    Dumb question – how can Rockville be in Fred’s radio deadzone between Philly and DC if that town is not on I-95?

    I found the outcome of the Gimmie Shelter session chilling. For years I didn’t know what the song was about, because I couldn’t make out either line before “it’s just a shot away.” As a teenager I wondered if “shot” had the same meaning as Motley Crue’s “Ten Seconds to Love.” (Forgive me for the sin of mentioning that band in the same breath as the Stones.)

  • Sam Kabo Ashwell

    226. Are pants ever acceptable

    I know this means ‘on women’, but I really like the idea of a sect that regards pants as impermissible for either gender.

  • P J Evans

    the questionnaire is now 404.

  • hQ

    Granted a few of those questions are a little over the top, but I don’t think it’s a truly awful list of things to consider. It would probably best be titled “Pre-Marriage Questions” – and presumably many of these things would come out in ordinary situations/conversations during courtship. It’s really the title that seems all wrong; but I can’t find any MAJOR flaws with the list itself.

    I can say — as a former fundie and now atheist — that there are a lot of questions on there I wish I’d asked my partner, or delved into more, before getting serious (#5, 64, 66-69, 80, 159, 171, 190, 202, 293-338, 365…)

  • Alix

    It’s working for me.

  • Alix

    The thing weirding me out isn’t the questions, necessarily, but the way this is intended to be utilized. As a checklist of things to make sure you know about your partner before settling in for the long haul – aside from some I disagree with, it’s mostly okay. As a pre-dating questionnaire you make your prospective partner answer instead of getting to know them in an organic way? That’s creepy to me.

    Edit: if someone presented that questionnaire to me, I’d consider it a warning sign.

  • Shay Guy

    Pants are an illusion, and so is death.

  • Shay Guy

    And I’m hunkered down in my bed with my husband, very pregnant,

    My reaction: Wait, your husband was pregnant?

  • Carstonio

    Do you mean both genders must wear skirts, or that both must dispense with all clothing for the lower body other than underwear?

  • Baby_Raptor

    I am the only member of my (admittedly not huge) social circle that doesn’t despise pants and only consent to wear them when they absolutely have to. It may be relevant that I am the only female in this group also, I am unsure.

    I do not understand this hatred for leg coverings. It confounds me.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Very pregnant, apparently. Poor man. I’ve been very pregnant…It really is not fun.

  • Baby_Raptor

    I kinda want to nose through that questionaire and see how the boyfriend and I rate, but…Damn. 423 questions?

  • Alix

    I hate pants. Too restrictive, too hot in summer/cold in winter, and I swear the earth itself will split open if I ever find the right size. If they’re not trying to cut off my circulation or cut into some part of my anatomy, they’re either way too long or (surprisingly) way too wide.

    *sigh* It is so much easier to just buy skirts.

  • Carstonio

    While I admit I like the sight of female skin, I don’t like the double standard for clothing between the genders, particularly in the business environment. It seems to be about expecting women to display themselves for men. Seems fairer to me to either allow men to wear elegant-looking shorts and sleeveless shirts, or else require both genders to cover up. Interesting that on ancient vases from Greece, men’s clothing was miniskirt-length and women’s clothing was ankle-length.

  • AnonaMiss

    Presumably he means Rockville is his destination. Though I disagree with his assessment of it as a ‘radio deadzone’. I used to take trips regularly through the rural midwest in which there were no radio stations in range, period, for miles upon miles. Rockville’s radio is about as good as the radio in the Chicago suburbs.

    Speaking of which, hello from Rockville. Drop me a line next time you’re in town and I’ll get you lunch. (Invitation extends to most Slacktivist regulars, though you’ll have to pay for your own food because I love Fred more).

  • MaryKaye

    To me an objectionably large fraction of the questions presuppose that there is a “right” answer and you’re supposed to give it. That doesn’t strike me as a productive way to find out about another person.

    8. Are you humble about seeking counsel or do you already have all the answers?

    I mean, really, what are you going to say in response to this? No, I already have all the answers? Obviously you are not “supposed” to say that. So the question doesn’t really find out if you are open to going to counseling; it finds out if you are willing to say what you’re supposed to say. Contrast this with the (equally objectionable) possible alternative:

    8a. Would you go to counseling if you encountered marital difficulties or do you believe that God’s support is enough for any family?

    Other questions that strike me like this: Who are your disciples? (Yikes!) When did you start to obey the Word because it was the Word? (Have you stopped beating your wife?) What do you believe about sin; what do you believe about Rom 6&7? (Talk about providing a BIG HINT as to what answer is wanted!)

    “What is your attitude toward historically held positions?” I think this can only be answered within a specific subculture; I sure would have no clue what it means.

    58. Do you plan for us to read the Bible together as a couple?
    59. Do you plan to initiate Family Devotions with our future family?

    The questionnaire is written for a woman to give to a man (many gender-specific references) and here you have the pernicious thing where the man is supposed to be the leader so the woman has to…ask him to lead.

    There are some better, non-leading questions later on. (“How do you feel about adoption?” etc.) But there are long sections where most of the questions are leading ones. If someone handed me this at *any* point in a relationship I would be very disturbed; it seems passive-aggressive.

  • Alix

    I agree, sort of? But I think a fairer idea is to let people cover up or not as they wish. One reason I will actually break down and buy pants* is for business attire, since I hate baring my legs and the only skirts people seem to find acceptable are knee-length and usually have a slit up the ass to boot.

    *Men’s pants, at that, since I swear to god it’s impossible to find women’s pants that don’t try to be as formfitting as possible, and are thus impossible to actually inhabit. For me, anyway. Apparently, all my muscles and fat deposits are in entirely the wrong spots. As, apparently, is my pelvis. Shaped for female** bodies, my ass.

    Ahem. Rant over. XD

    I prefer men’s clothes in general – skirts excepted – but that’s not why I buy men’s suit pants.

    **Totally resisting the urge to do my usual semantic shenanigans here. :/ But damn I wish there were a shorter way to say “female-bodied but not female-gendered”.

  • Lori

    The content and use of the questions on the courtship questionnaire is obviously a problem, but I don’t think we can take much issue with the number of questions. The eHarmony questionnaire has slightly more and signing up for eHarmony doesn’t have nearly the implications that “courtship” has for that subculture.

    That said, the mindset behind many of those questions is horrifying to me. Also, I don’t think that answering a questionnaire about things like the hardest thing you’ve ever done is at all productive. That’s a conversation, one to be had after a significant degree of trust has been established, not a short essay.

  • Evan

    For a moment I thought you meant it’d dropped to only 404 questions!

    (No, all 423 are still there and correctly loading for me.)

  • Lori

    So the question doesn’t really find out if you are open to going to counseling; it finds out if you are willing to say what you’re supposed to say.

    It occurs to me that the question is in fact finding out what it really wants to know. As you say, it’s obviously not going to get an answer to the question that’s asked, but I think it’s telling them what they want to know.

  • Lori

    It would probably best be titled “Pre-Marriage Questions” – and
    presumably many of these things would come out in ordinary
    situations/conversations during courtship.

    Courtship is a term of art for the subculture in question. It’s a lot closer to what we would consider engagement. And stuff like this is far less likely to come up in ordinary situations for this subculture because interaction between the sexes is really controlled.

    Basically they’ve created a really rigid situation and then come up with a really rigid way to compensate for difficulties caused by that rigidity.

  • Patter

    “94. Are there any verses that helped you confirm the decision?”

    Ezekiel 23:20

  • Lori


  • Launcifer

    This question #226 seems to have kicked up a weird potential prejudice of mine that I never even knew existed.

    I don’t think I’ve ever been out with anyone who willingly wore a skirt to anything that wasn’t a wedding (and the lady in question was wearing a kilt, so I don’t know if that counts, strictly speaking). Hell, at least two didn’t even *own* a skirt. And now I don’t know if that’s simply how it goes or a genuine unconscious *thing* of mine.

  • Launcifer

    Ah, I never tire of seeing that verse quoted – in any context.

  • Lori

    If you were actively anti-skirt you probably would have noticed before now. I suspect that you have a type, for all the complex reasons that many people have a type, and that type tends not to wear skirts.

  • Lori

    For the folks using this questionnaire “courting” is basically settling in for the long haul. It’s a lot closer to an engagement than dating. They think dating is bad.

  • Carstonio

    “I think a fairer idea is to let people cover up or not as they wish.” – I agree in principle. I’m saying that if an organization is to have a standard, it should be a gender-neutral one.

  • Alix

    I agree with that!

  • Launcifer

    You’re probably right, of course. I think it might actually have been a moment of cultural confusion on my part. I was just so flummoxed by the question that I did a quick mental inventory and came up with what I assume would be an unacceptable answer for the author of the questionnaire.

  • Launcifer

    And I have to say that I never get tired of hearing that Gimme Shelter anecdote, either. No idea why – it just brings a wry little smile to my face.

  • Lori

    Yeah, for most of us that question is the kind of weird that tends to make the mental gears lock up.

  • FearlessSon

    Kilts for everyone!

  • Launcifer

    That said, I do believe that I’m going to use “Unacceptable Pants” as a title for something, one day.

  • FearlessSon

    I’ve been very pregnant…It really is not fun.

    I continue to be confounded that some people see it as a desirable state.

  • The only grown-ups I’ve known to dislike pants are also men. I wonder if they get squished. I think it would make more sense, anatomically, for men to wear skirts.

    ETA: And I love that this got downvoted. *sigh*

  • “What is your attitude toward historically held positions?”

    I’d appreciate anyone explaining wtf this means. Because my answer is: historically held positions by whom and when and where and which subculture are you talking about from that time and which person within that subculture? To me, the question looks like, “what is your opinion on anything anyone else has thought ever?”

  • It’s like those huge sex quizzes (called, tongue-in-cheek, “purity tests”) my friends and I used to take at parties in college. Except without the sex. Otoh, it might be fun to get a group of people together to take it, though I think a translator would be needed.

  • My mom barfed her guts out her entire pregnancy. Her best friend never threw up once, had happy hormones the whole time, and her worst side effect was needing to pee a lot near the end.

    For some people, it really is an enjoyable state. For others, it is torture.

  • Jonna

    I dunno. I’ve seen couples who’d been much better off if they had answered a questionnaire (not necessarily this one) before getting emotionally invested. On the other hand, it basically is treating a potential mate like a potential car. But on third tentacle, they kinda are: you’re probably stuck with them for a long time, so you’d better make sure you can live with that – and, since they’re a human too, make sure they’ve done the same.

    So, it’s one of those things that can be a horribly creepy shopping list for a trophy-spouse seeking psycho, or a perfectly reasonable checklist for a horribly awkward person who nonetheless still needs love. Take your pick.

  • Lori

    It sounds like a Fug Girls recap of some Hollywood event where none of the lady stars wore dresses. I wish both the event and the Fug Girls recap would actually happen.

  • Launcifer

    I figure the answer should have something to do with the Maginot Line, personally.
    Joking aside, I was going to ask a similar question before my mind leapt to some very unsavoury places indeed and I realised that one of those might just mirror the sentiment underpinning the question.

  • Alix

    “What is your attitude toward historically held positions?”

    Answer: People held them at one point or another.

    …Yeah, I’d totally not be able to resist the urge to be snarky.

  • Alix

    Fair point. I imagine a lot depends on the relationship between the people involved and the manner of presentation.

  • FearlessSon

    As my mother once said when she was in labor with my younger sister and only sibling, “Oh God, why did I do this again!?”

  • themunck

    One word, though. Pockets.

  • Alix

    It’s not hard to find skirts with pockets, in my experience. And honestly, I have difficulty using the ones in pants, because of the fit issues. So.

  • There are lots of skirts with pockets these days. Actually, I think all the skirts in my closet have pockets.

  • I share in this pain. My choices are either “way too wide, so a belt creates bunched up fabric” or “way too long so I walk on the heels.”

  • themunck

    Hmm….Don’t suppose you could point me in the direction of somewhere I could find some? My girlfriend has been quite insistant that it’s impossible :P