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The U.S. Military vs. the Great Commission II

Sometimes, one really hates to be right. Two and a half years ago I warned that we are moving, in the United States, toward a state in which Christian witnessing is demonized under the heading of "proselytizing." My impression is that this attitude has long been held by secularists--that it is inherently offensive, even inherently deeply wrong, ever to try in any way to convince someone else to accept a religion that is not presently his religion. And my impression also is that in Europe this idea that all such behavior should be called "proselytizing" and by this means dismissed as unacceptable is more widespread than it has heretofore been in America. But, just as our current administration wants to redefine freedom of religion to mean only freedom of (private) worship, so here: If you want to be a Christian, shut up and get back in the closet, and maybe we'll tolerate you. Only private, even secret, religion is acceptable. That way we can feel proud of our sophistication and not hang our heads with shame over the crudity of religion in our country when we hang out with our British and European secularist buddies.

Now the U.S. military is getting into the act with newly published Air Force regulations designed to discourage "proselytizing" by military personnel.

Before I go any further, a few words about the alleged misrepresentations concerning the role of Mikey Weinstein of the (misnamed) Religious Military Freedom Foundation in all of this.

Any of you who have been following this story know that Fox News broke the story that the military (specifically, the Air Force) was consulting Weinstein on its anti-proselytizing regulations. Weinstein is virulently, wildly anti-Christian. More quotes on that below. He also has some eccentric views of legality, regarding "proselytizing" as sedition and treason, which is pretty hard to wrap one's brain around no matter how hard one thinks about it.

You may also know that it turned out that Weinstein

a) isn't getting paid by the U.S. military for any advice he is giving

and

b) was granted a meeting with Pentagon officials at his own request, not at theirs, and hence isn't an official consultant.

These bombshell "corrections" to "right-wing fear-mongering" have evidently been spun by the left into a new meta-story: "Right Wing Misleads and Exaggerates" rather than "Military Members May be Court-Martialed for Sharing Their Faith" or "Mouth-Foaming Anti-Christian Granted Private Meeting With Pentagon Officials, Who Then Release New Policies Prohibiting Witnessing."

Russell D. Moore and Kevin Ezell of the Southern Baptist Convention are concerned about the new policy and have issued a statement about it (more about that statement in a moment), but in the spirit of not looking like those foolish Right-Wing Fear Mongers, they felt led to distance themselves from all worries about Weinstein's role in this, almost completely dismissing his involvement from their list of concerns.

So, okay, Weinstein isn't being paid as a consultant and does not have an official role. Big whoop. For a different angle, let's look at this Washington Post article by Sally Quinn, which is not Right-Wing Fear Mongering. Instead, it falls into the category of pro-Weinstein, left-wing bullying. Here is what Quinn says (emphasis added):

After demands from Weinstein, the Air Forced published, but has yet to distribute, a 27- page document, which includes a cover sheet that states: “COMPLIANCE WITH THIS PUBLICATION IS MANDATORY.”

“Leaders at all levels,” the document says, “must avoid the actual or apparent use of their position to promote their personal religious beliefs to their subordinates or to extend preferential treatment for any religion.” It even suggested that noncompliance could result in court-martial.

Oh, that's interesting. So according to Quinn, Weinstein was in some sense behind the new regulations, which were published after (and she is clearly implying as a result of) his demands. When did that happen? Did Weinstein have earlier meetings, or were his demands (her word) conveyed to the compliant Pentagon in writing only? Of course, she hastens to add that Weinstein and his friends aren't yet satisfied, because the pamphlet hasn't been released yet and because they haven't started actually "enforcing" it, meaning prosecuting people for sharing their faith:

According to Weinstein, this has not been backed up.

“You need half a dozen court-martials real quick,” Wilson said.

But there is hope, because Weinstein continues to have influence:

They [Weinstein and others on his side of the issues] were on their way to a meeting at the Pentagon on April 23 where they would discuss religious issues in a group that included several generals and a military chaplain.
At the meeting at the Pentagon, according to Weinstein, Air Force Lt. Gen. Richard C. Harding said the instruction booklet, scheduled to be released in a few weeks as a blue pamphlet, will be a panacea to all religious issues.

Weinstein’s reaction? “I said that I don’t want to hear about blue books. What is stopping Secretary Hagel from putting out a letter that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated? Where are the commanders? And [an announcement] that the moment someone goes against the ruling they will immediately be court-martialed?”

The meeting ended on a positive note, according to Weinstein. “I said, ‘What is needed gentlemen, is leadership.’ ”

So Weinstein is still making demands, and the Air Force is hurrying to distribute the new policy, apparently in response to these demands. Weinstein is merely annoyed that the witch hunt isn't proceeding fast and furiously enough.

Again, this article isn't from Fox News. This article isn't by a right-wing blogger. This article is by Sally Quinn of the Washington Post, who is rabidly pro-Weinstein, has been interviewing him, and obviously only wishes, along with him, that his blood-lust against Christians were being satisfied more rapidly and harshly. But that he is influencing the actions of U.S. military brass and that he approves of and influenced the release of the new policy is quite clearly implied by Quinn's article. So let's not dismiss this.

Moreover, what about this recent meeting? Oh, so he asked for it. Big deal. Suppose I asked for a meeting at the Pentagon with a group of military brass "including several generals." Would I get it? Are such meetings just granted for the asking? And why does this meeting appear to have had such a heavy representation of people who all agree with Weinstein about the horrible, horrible dangers of "proselytizing" in the military? (Quinn also interviews Larry Wilkerson and Joe Wilson, who were on the way to the same meeting and were singing the same song.)

Let's look at some of the things Weinstein says:

Today, we face incredibly well-funded gangs of fundamentalist Christian monsters who terrorize their fellow Americans by forcing their weaponized and twisted version of Christianity upon their helpless subordinates in our nation’s armed forces.
We MUST vigorously support the continuing efforts to expose pathologically anti-gay, Islamaphobic, and rabidly intolerant agitators for what they are: die-hard enemies of the United States Constitution. Monsters, one and all. To do anything less would be to roll out a red carpet to those who would usher in a blood-drenched, draconian era of persecutions, nationalistic militarism, and superstitious theocracy.
This is a national security threat. What is happening [aside from sexual assault] is spiritual rape. And what the Pentagon needs is to understand is that it is sedition and treason. It should be punished.
If these fundamentalist Christian monsters of human degradation … and tyranny cannot broker or barter your acceptance of their putrid theology, then they crave for your universal silence in the face of their rapacious reign of theocratic terror. Indeed, they ceaselessly lust, ache, and pine for you to do absolutely nothing to thwart their oppression. Comply, my friends, and you become as monstrously savage as are they. I beg you, do not feed these hideous monsters with your stoic lethargy, callousness and neutrality. Do not lubricate the path of their racism, bigotry, and prejudice. Doing so directly threatens the national security of our beautiful nation.

This man is a complete loony. The word "unhinged" comes to mind. Can anyone imagine someone who said those kinds of things about Muslims ever being granted a meeting with Pentagon officials to discuss policy concerning religious activities in the military? You have to be kidding.

So color me unimpressed with the supposed revelations of "exaggeration" by the right on this one. Mikey Weinstein's involvement in this situation is extremely alarming, especially in light of the actual Air Force policy just now being released, which Weinstein approves and only wants enforced. So let's turn to the question of military policy.

“Leaders at all levels,” the [Air Force] document says, “must avoid the actual or apparent use of their position to promote their personal religious beliefs to their subordinates or to extend preferential treatment for any religion.” It even suggested that noncompliance could result in court-martial.

Please note, again: That quotation and summary come from Quinn, not from Fox or any right-wing source.

Here is another quotation from that 2012 (being released now) Air Force document:

Leaders at all levels must balance constitutional protections for an individual's free exercise of religion or other personal beliefs and the constitutional prohibition against governmental establishment of religion. For example, they must avoid the actual or apparent use of their position to promote their personal religious beliefs to their subordinates or to extend preferential treatment for any religion. Commanders or supervisors who engage in such behavior may cause members to doubt their impartiality and objectivity. The potential result is a degradation of the unit's morale, good order, and discipline.

And here is a "clarification" (hmmm) by Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen of the DoD:

The U.S. Department of Defense has never and will never single out a particular religious group for persecution or prosecution. The Department makes reasonable accommodations for all religions and celebrates the religious diversity of our service members.

Service members can share their faith (evangelize), but must not force unwanted, intrusive attempts to convert others of any faith or no faith to one's beliefs (proselytization).

Christensen evidently emphasized that what he is expressing is long-standing military policy, but with a new pamphlet coming out, with the harrying of Weinstein behind it, in the Air Force, I think we can definitely say that, whatever official policy has been before, the AF brass is now trying to "crack down" in some special and new way on alleged violations of said policy. That this is likely to encourage new complaints of alleged "proselytizing" should go without saying.

Now, what about this distinction between proselytizing and evangelization? It sounds pretty subjective. Why do we need a special category of banned "proselytizing," anyway? (And as a passing comment, isn't it ironic that the military holds sensitivity training and other brain-washing sessions for PC attitudes, and nobody worries in that context about authority figures bullying military members to hold a particular viewpoint, but that small-print verses on rifles or chaplains who remind soldiers that they may die in battle and should think about their eternal destiny are considered a horrible threat to "good order and discipline"?)

Who decides what constitutes "proselytizing"? I note that The Tennessean quotes the following from a response the Air Force Public Affairs Office apparently made to their query:

The Air Force’s public affairs office, using the Merriam-Webster dictionary, defines proselytizing as “to induce someone to convert to one’s faith,” said Capt. Jody Ritchie in an email.

“When on duty or in an official capacity, Air Force members are free to express their personal religious beliefs as long as it does not make others uncomfortable,” he said in an email. “Proselytizing, as defined above, goes over that line.”

Now, that's very interesting. Notice that there isn't even any mention from Capt. Jody Ritchie of coercion, is there? No, according to Capt. Ritchie, it is attempting to induce someone to convert to one's faith that is prohibited. I have news for you, Capt. Ritchie: That's what Christians call "witnessing," "sharing their faith," or "evangelizing." Capt. Ritchie says only that they can "express their personal religious beliefs as long as it does not make others uncomfortable." So

1) Religious faith must be treated as a subjective matter, not recommended to others. It's just "my personal belief" which I'm "expressing," not something I'm recommending or urging as being universally true or good for anyone other than myself,

2) The minute someone else "feels uncomfortable," the religious believer has to shut up, giving the one who "feels uncomfortable" absolute veto power even over "expressing personal religious beliefs."

Capt. Christensen and all the other "move along, folks, nothing to see here" people will have to forgive me if I consider Capt. Ritchie's remarks to be more than a little disturbing. Contrary to what you might like to believe, it looks like we are not simply talking about forbidding superior officers from telling soldiers that they must kneel down and pray to Jesus. And I doubt that we have an epidemic of such behavior anyway. Indeed, the supposedly terrible and shocking examples given by Quinn of religious persecution and harassment by the "Christian monsters" of Weinstein's fevered dreams don't amount to jolly much. The most forthright one was a chaplain who preached to troops in Afghanistan that they had only a short time to live and "needed to get right with Jesus." God forbid that a chaplain should actually preach the Gospel with even a tiny smidgen of fire and brimstone.

That brings us to another point: Chaplains are, if I'm not mistaken (correct me if I'm wrong) often higher-ranking than the men they counsel. This policy may very well mean that even chaplains (chaplains!) cannot attempt to lead men to the Lord Jesus Christ lest they be accused of abusing their higher status as officers. This is a major matter. How can a chaplain carry out his duty qua chaplain if he is literally required by military policy not to urge the religion he believes to be true, the most important truth in the universe, when counseling military members or when preaching?

Joe Carter of the Gospel Coalition points out some of the issues in play here. Apropos of the analogy to alleged "workplace discrimination," Carter says, "We don’t want your boss saying you have to go to a Bible study, [b]ut what if he just invites you?” Good point. Isn't that trying to "induce" other people to accept your faith?

On this issue, Moore and Ezell explain the problem quite well:

Of the items mentioned above, we are most concerned about the language of “proselytizing” as a punishable offense. We agree, of course, that no one should coerce religious beliefs on anyone else. As a matter of fact, if the military were to allow some sort of coercive conversion—to any religion, including ours—we would object to such as a violation of both the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and of our consciences. We believe the New Birth comes by the Spirit of Christ not by the sword of Caesar.

This behavior is, of course, clearly already prohibited as harassment. What incidents have taken place, we wonder, that would call for this seemingly arbitrary distinction between “evangelizing” and “proselytizing”? Proselytizing, after all, includes a range of meaning, encompassing a definition of “seeking to recruit to a cause or to a belief.” With a subjective interpretation and adjudication of such cases, we need reassurance that such would not restrict the free exercise of religion for our chaplains and military personnel.

After all, who defines what is proselytizing and what is evangelism? What could seem to be a friendly conversation about spiritual matters to one serviceperson could be perceived or deliberately mischaracterized as “proselytizing” to the person on the receiving end. The fact that this has been raised at all in such a subjective fashion could have a chilling effect on service personnel sharing their faith at all.

In my opinion, we should not listen to those saying "peace, peace" when there is no peace. There are so many reasons to think that the U.S. military is becoming a place that is not good for Christians to be. The new hyper-concern about the dreadful crime of "proselytizing" is just one more reason. If you have a young man of your acquaintance, especially a son, thinking of joining the military, I suggest that you attempt to dissuade him.

In case you were wondering about the "II" in the title, here is post #1.

Comments (106)

There are so many reasons to think that the U.S. military is becoming a place that is not good for Christians to be.

Lydia, I wouldn't draw that conclusion from the sad history you've documented here. Withdrawing simply makes more likely the outcome you don't want. I would think it reasonable to hope that bad rules could be changed. Even if they won't be, Christians have more difficult choices than merely checking if there's an ideological welcome sign out.

If you have a young man of your acquaintance, especially a son, thinking of joining the military, I suggest that you attempt to dissuade him.

Pardon me, but how far from this position were you before? And there have been contributors at W4 who can hardly forebear shrieking about pornography any time the military is discussed. I share your concerns above completely, but your conclusions don't follow and I'm not sure what standing you have to give advice about the wisdom of joining the military, especially since it isn't at all clear you ever thought it was a very good idea. Maybe those who've served or knew it from would be a better judge?

I don't see the problem.
The role Weinstein and his organisation played might be questionable, but

Leaders at all levels,must avoid the actual or apparent use of their position to promote their personal religious beliefs to their SUBORDINATES or to extend preferential treatment for any religion.
Do you really want to contest THAT? If so, you should consider Saudi Arabia as a new home.
To anyone interested in the issue I recommend the Washington Post article instead of Lydia's misinformation and cherry-picking.
Here are four examples Weinstein took issue with

-So called “Jesus rifles,” with gun sights inscribed with Bible quotations, were used in battle by troops. The MRFF fought successfully to have the New Testament passages removed.

- Last year, Marine officers at a U.S. base changed the name of their fighter attack squadron from “Werewolves” to “Crusaders,” with a cross and shield as an insignia. MRFF fought the change after receiving many complaints from Marines. MRFF won, and the squadron is back to Werewolves.

- A chaplain in Afghanistan recently was the target of complaint for sermonizing to troops, including Afghan soldiers, that they had approximately 2,000 days to live and needed to “get right with Jesus.”

-Weinstein even got the military to force an officer to remove an atheist bumper sticker from his car. An evangelical Christian complained about the sticker, which bore a drawing of Satan and a Christian fish.

Opposed to idolatry, blasphemy, lunacy and ouvert atheism? Phew, what a "virulently anti Christian guy" this Weinstein is...


Mark, there's absolutely nothing wrong with saying the same thing one thought again when another reason comes up that supports the conclusion. This is _one_ reason. There are _other_ reasons. Plenty of them. I'm not going to have this entire thread be about the last two lines of the post, and I don't claim to have given all those reasons, but they are legion. What my having changed my mind more about the matter has to do with it I don't know. As for my "standing," I calls 'em like I sees 'em. I read the news a lot and follow a lot of these things. Plenty of Christians of my acquaintance don't even know about many of the things I have in mind. If you do and disagree, whatever, but blogging is often about saying what one thinks in areas where no one has given you a little special badge for saying them. You observe, report, and give your opinion. That's blogging. Sorry if you don't like it. C'mon, buddy, you usually don't annoy me around here as much as you annoy some other people, but this is a little silly.

Grobi, yeah, I do object to that policy for reasons I explained. (Cherry picking? I'm the one who quoted the policy that you think sounds like no problem?) It's subjective, overly broad, and encourages frivolous complaints. Such as about the alleged "appearance" that a higher-ranked officer (who might even be a chaplain) has "promoted" his religion to someone lower ranked. Big jolly deal. I know a man who goes around witnessing to anybody who will listen. (He's not in the military.) He does so winsomely, though I have no doubt the Weinstein types would take offense. But he works in a corporation, and some of the people he has conversations with over coffee might be (gasp) his subordinates! The same thing could happen in the military. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the appearance that a higher-ranked person has "promoted his personal religious beliefs to his subordinates."

I could have gone over all those examples individually, but the entry was already rather long. I think they're pretty darned silly. Oh, the horror: Rifles with Bible verses on them! Marines calling their group "Crusaders"! And so forth. If I were the evangelical Christian and knew what Weinstein has written elsewhere, I wouldn't have accepted his help. The bumper sticker on the other person's personal car is no big deal, and Christians who believe in sharing their faith are going to suffer a lot more from the policies he supports than having their eyes insulted with a bumper sticker!

As for whether Weinstein is virulently anti-Christian, his unhinged ravings speak for themselves. The guy is a nut. Nobody even here at W4 has gone around ranting, "Monsters, all of them!" about Muslims who merely *verbally witness* for their religion, yet the things we say about Muslims make you uncomfortable.

Grobi, you have a typical left-wing tin ear.

I notice you also ignore other things I quoted, such as Capt. Ritchie's prohibition on trying to induce other people to accept your religion.

Can anyone imagine someone who said those kinds of things about Muslims ever being granted a meeting with Pentagon officials to discuss policy concerning religious activities in the military?

Yes, easily. They might leave off the qualifier "fundamentalist" too.

...whatever official policy has been before, the AF brass is now trying to "crack down" in some special and new way on alleged violations of said policy.

As I've made clear many times before, I'm not a fan of unenforced rules and policies. If the rule has never or rarely been enforced there may be a need for a grace period to educate the groups affected, but that is the only good reason for delay.

But he works in a corporation, and some of the people he has conversations with over coffee might be (gasp) his subordinates!

My supervisor has a sign on his office wall that reads:
oLd
tIme
rEligion
Needless to say it doesn't bother me, but I can at least see how it would be offensive to some people. The weird part of this post is that you refuse to see that it would be offensive - his right to witness his belief outweighs any trouble it might cause with subordinates.

Here's what politifact says: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2013/may/06/blog-posting/bloggers-say-pentagon-may-court-martial-christian-/

I never got the idolization of PolitiFact. It's just another news site. I have no idea why we're supposed to assume it has no bias. But there you go.

Here's an interesting line:

Weinstein also got an officer to remove an atheist bumper sticker from his car because it bothered an evangelical Christian.

Here's a quote from Nate Christensen of the defense department:


"If a service member harasses another member on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, or disability, then the commander takes action based on the gravity of the occurrence. Likewise, when religious harassment complaints are reported, commanders take action based on the gravity of the occurrence on a case by case basis.

Here's the money section that PolitiFact mentions at the end of the article.


But groups such as the Family Research Council argue the policy outlined by the Defense Department spokesman last week is "incoherent," asking how the military will distinguish between "evangelizing" and "proselytizing." It has launched a petition to urge the defense secretary from censoring "the full solace of the gospel." Meanwhile, a Coast Guard rear admiral, William Lee, spoke last week of his discomfort with current rules — he wants to be able to hand Bibles to suicidal servicemen.

Ken Klukowski, director of the Center for Religious Liberty at the Family Research Council, says millions of Christians, including "evangelicals, devout Catholics and observant Mormons," believe they are required by the New Testament to share their faith with others.

"This is to be done respectfully and peacefully, at appropriate times and in an appropriate manner, but it must be done when such opportunities present themselves," he wrote. "To say that sharing the gospel is a crime under military law … is to say that tens of millions of Americans are not allowed to serve in our military."

So, there you go. Pretty much what you said.

Here's PolitiFact's ruling:

Still, there’s a sliver of truth — if you believe your Christian faith compels you to try to convert others in a way people find harassing, it’s possible you could face court-martial, though such a thing has yet to happen.

We rate the claim Mostly False.

Color me unimpressed.

oLd tIme rEligion Needless to say it doesn't bother me, but I can at least see how it would be offensive to some people. The weird part of this post is that you refuse to see that it would be offensive - his right to witness his belief outweighs any trouble it might cause with subordinates.

This is wilfully obtuse. What you call "his belief" is being expressed by way of a calculated insult. He's not telling you what he thinks ultimate reality is like. He's telling you that he has vicious contempt for your faith. That's rather a different thing, isn't it? I don't think Lydia ever said that it would be in keeping with basic military decorum and discipline for a commander to tell his subordinate that his whole way of life is "a flaming pile of b*** S****" and just, you know, leave it at that.

These ae the kinds of pathetic refusals to make elementary distinctions that contemporary liberalism thrives on.

Yes, MarcAnthony, it's interesting to see the gaping split people's reactions to this reveal in our country. Some people look at the supposed "violations," such as handing Bibles to suicidal servicemen or Bible verses in small print on rifles and cannot see what in the world the fuss is all about. Others, like Grobi, seriously believe that I am being dishonest by not quoting all the silly examples that they are getting exercised about. As a matter of fact, I did discuss the _most_ potentially offensive one, which I "cherry picked" precisely because it wasn't as trivial as the others! My opinion, however, is that there really isn't anything punishment-worthy or complaint-worthy about a chaplain being a chaplain, and that a chaplain preaching, "You're going to die, plausibly soon, and you should get right with Jesus" is the kind of thing that is quite understandable and legitimate, if, y'know, the chaplain believes that people actually do die and go to hell if they reject Jesus.

So one group of people looks at all of this and thinks, "HOrrors!" and the other group looks and shrugs. Vide our growing and gaping divisions in the West. Or, to turn it around, one group of people looks at a policy according to which you can't give Bibles to suicidal servicemen and according to which chaplains are supposed to be glorified secular psychologists and not try to win people to Jesus and thinks, "This is bad stuff!" while the other group thinks, "That's exactly how it should be."

Step2, yeah, that's a pretty darned offensive thing on the door. Sage is quite right that you are failing to make an elementary distinction between being extremely insulting and witnessing for Christ.

OTOH, I'm used to an academic atmosphere, and interestingly, nowadays, academic atmospheres are starting to seem more open-minded than the corporate or military atmosphere, due to tenure. I think people need to develop thicker skin about "being offended." I wish I could make a trade: You can put your LIE atheist insult, even though it is _just_ a contentless insult_, up on your door without being punished, in return for which I can witness, yea, even to a "subordinate" without being punished. It's a rather lopsided deal, but it might well be worth it, even in the military. The fact is that policies that you have a "right not to be offended" almost always, as enforced, end up harming people on my side of the religious and political line more than they help us as potential victims of offense.

Lydia,

Can you at least acknowledge that you've seen one of my last 4 posts trying to draw your attention to the undercover abortion video? I feel like I've been chasing you all over this blog! Just tell me something - even if it's 'go away'!

Daniel, it's a terrible video. I have seen it. Listen: If you have something OT you want to convey to me, try this: Click on my name at the right under "Authors." Then click on "email."

Oh OK, I will do that in the future Lydia... Thanks!

He's telling you that he has vicious contempt for your faith. That's rather a different thing, isn't it?

If someone tells me they are a fundamentalist Christian I can be confident they will have contempt for an overwhelming majority of my beliefs and view them as lies. I especially like the uncritical respect and admiration required in telling people to "get right with Jesus" lest they go to hell - while not flaming b.s. hell does reportedly contain flaming brimstone. I suppose deserving an eternity of fiery torture for disbelief is not considered extremely insulting to someone's whole way of life under a Christian view. Whatever, I'm just an obtuse liberal pathetically refusing to make elementary distinctions.

Wow, so Step2 has this sort of notion of "indirect insult" according to which just telling somebody you're a fundamentalist Christian is just about as offensive as putting a sign on your door that says that old-time religion is a lie, because fundamentalist Christians can be presumed to have contempt for a large majority of the beliefs of unbelievers. Or something.

It's this sort of thing that shows that it isn't an exaggeration to say that Christians are being asked to stay in the closet.

It would be nice if alleged conservatives in Congress would stop mindlessly "supporting the troops" and threaten to defund the Department of Defense if these policies continue.

[quote]This is wilfully obtuse. What you call "his belief" is being expressed by way of a calculated insult. He's not telling you what he thinks ultimate reality is like. He's telling you that he has vicious contempt for your faith.
[/quote]

Suppose I am gay and do not think there is anything wrong with my lifestyle. Why should Christians be able to preach to me about a religion that says my lifestyle is an "abomination" and that I am going to to burn in hell if I don't choose to repent? Am I allowed to find that insulting? I'm not gay, but it's rather absurd to pretend that Christianity doesn't make rather unflattering claims about relatively large groups of people. Secondly, what if I actually believe Christianity is evil and corrupts our society? You might find that belief insulting, but there are people who genuinely believe that in the way that Christians believe homosexuality is a sin.


I don't think that any professional organization should allow its leaders to attempt to convert or deconvert their subordinates. That sort of behavior is inappropriate, and it is especially troubling when it happens in a military context. Our soldiers are not "crusaders" and they are not fighting for the Christian god. Get this stuff out of military now. I also think it's appropriate to punish someone who continues to try to convert you after you have told them explicitly to stop. That is a form of harassment.

Our soldiers are not "crusaders" and they are not fighting for the Christian god.

Really? How original. Thank you, Dunsany, I shall have to write that down.

It should go without saying that "I know how lousy and hateful Religion X really is" doesn't constitute any kind of real argument for why witnessing to that faith ought to be banned by the military. It's just a restatement of the speaker's personal prejudices which, be they right or wrong, aren't protected from on high by challenge.

After all, modern homosexualist ideology is explicitly anti-Christian, and I don't see anybody arguing that homosexuals should be banned from arguing for the rightness of their opinions. Quite the contrary--their opinions are now official military orthodoxy. And does anybody really think that Christian witness within the military between soldiers and sailors really takes the form of "You are evil and you are going to hell and your whole way of life is an abomination and you must repent or die, etc., etc." Sounds like somebody's pretty darned sheltered, reads too much leftist cant, and should try ignoring childish ignoramuses like Bill Maher for a while. In the end, you're not actually protected from having your poor virgin ears tainted by Christian witness (sheesh, what puerile whining we have to expect from people these days), even if you have decided in advance that you don't like Christianity.

So anyway, yes, Lydia, that's what it amounts to--an argument that the official position of the US military must be that Christianity is simply wrong, and that all advocacy for it should be silenced in the ranks. Not everybody is as explicit in this regard as "Mikey," but the practical aim is pretty much identical, and for pretty much the same reasons as his.

I find it interesting that both Dunsany and Step2 worded what they said in a way that could, not implausibly, be interpreted as meaning that advocating conversion to Christianity is offensive per se because of what Christianity allegedly implies about other people, even if the person advocating for Christianity doesn't himself state these alleged implications. So, even if the Christian himself doesn't say, "Your lifestyle is an abomination and will damn you," because it happens to be known (accurately, I fully acknowledge) that it is the traditional Christian position that homosexual activity is an abomination and that continuing in it can damn your soul, it therefore follows that telling people that they should "accept Jesus" or giving arguments for or presenting Christian doctrine generally as true is offensive even if one does not happen to be expressing the view that homosexual acts are an abomination. I find that pretty revealing. Christianity per se is now inherently offensive and advocating it to others must be stifled, especially if, the ACLU forfend, the one doing the advocating is superior in rank to the one to whom he happens to be speaking.

I notice that those on the other side of this aren't addressing the whole issue of chaplains giving spiritual advice. Basically, what this would mean is that if a chaplain is superior in rank to a man consulting him about his problems, and if the man consulting him isn't already a Christian, the chaplain can't tell the man that getting right with God would help to solve his problems. That this is a reductio of the position in question, because it would amount to making good chaplains into secular puppets, does not seem to occur to the people advocating the position.

Lydia, Christian attempts to convert non-believers are offensive to many people. Do you think that's some sort of revelation or that I am going to deny it? Christianity and Secular Humanism are incompatible worldviews that start with entirely different premises. Why shouldn't someone who believes in Secular Humanism be disgusted by Christianity? Would you be repulsed by someone who tried to convert you to National Socialism or White Nationalism? I'm not saying that Christianity is as bad as either, but there is nothing strange about being upset when someone tries to convert you to an ideology you fundamentally disagree with. I find Christian views on gays repulsive, they disgust me. I'm not going to apologize for that, and I don't expect you to apologize for your beliefs about homosexuality. As for chaplains, I do think an exception should be made for soldiers who voluntarily seek them out. Chaplains should be provided to the soldiers that choose to ask them for spiritual guidance and forbidden from evangelizing to anyone who hasn't made that decision.


"And does anybody really think that Christian witness within the military between soldiers and sailors really takes the form of "You are evil and you are going to hell and your whole way of life is an abomination and you must repent or die, etc., etc"


*raises hand*

I do. Most forms of Christian evangelism boil down to threatening people with hell, especially when the person being witnessed to is in a dangerous situation. I don't blame Christians for that given that getting sent to hell is basically the worst thing that can happen to someone, but it's disingenuous to argue that Christian sermons aren't filled with fire and brimstone.

Mark, there's absolutely nothing wrong with saying the same thing one thought again when another reason comes up that supports the conclusion.

Um, well it's not as honest as titling it "yet another reason not to join the military" if that's what you think now is it? So you mean to tell me that it's ok NOT so say "I'd never recommend that any man join the military in any case, but …" if that is in fact the case? Really?

-Christians shouldn't segregate themselves by having non-governmental marriages, thus appearing to leave non-Christians with something less

-Have you ever argued that Christians should leave Michigan over Dearborn?

-Have you ever argued that Christians should leave Dearborn over Dearborn?

I notice you also ignore other things I quoted, such as Capt. Ritchie's prohibition on trying to induce other people to accept your religion.

Oh don't give me this "oh you sound like you're sympathetic" to Weinstein. As I said, I fully deplore "the sad history you've documented here". Full stop. And as I said, your recommendations don't follow in any case. And you have no credibility whatever to recommend what you did in the last paragraph, and "oh but 98% of my post was great" doesn't change that as you know. This is rational discourse, not a can of coffee beans. Lydia, you've never shown here any knowledge whatever about the military, or real interest beyond headlines. The military is a microcosm of America. They are us, the men anyway. Maybe a soccer mom isn't the best judge of what young men should do?

Saying you think we ought to "dissuade" the "young men of our acquaintance" from joining the military is outrageous. Simply outrageous. Because they're dumb and won't know if the good folks at W4 don't tell them? It's a ridiculous feminist and paternalistic statement to make, dangerous if you think that is good advice, and ruined the goodwill you'd have if you'd left out your moralizing from an otherwise good article.

Oops. Didn't edit properly. But the idea is that it makes no sense to argue that Christian men shouldn't join the military because of problems like this uniquely, while arguing that we should be "salt and light" in other institutions and locations. This is merely and blatantly an anti-military bias. And Lydia apparent won't deny it, but apparently feels no need to say it, unless you ask her. Nah, nothing wrong with that.

I am a young man, and this fully indicates to me why I am loathe to get involved in any form of military service. When I was younger I considered the Marine Corps as a means of avoiding college, and I am glad at this point that I made the decision to remain at my studies, despite my funding difficulties.

Your accusations of feminism are utter nonsense to me. The military today is no bastion of traditional masculinity.

I think that one major difference between, to use an example, the Dearborn case and the military is that joining the military is totally optional, but if you live in Dearborn you live there. Moving out of town is a a heck of a lot different than joining an organization. The way the military works (when there's no draft) just makes avoiding it by all accounts very, very easy.

Lydia has generally shown herself to be more of a hawk than not from what I've seen and she certainly doesn't seem to be advocating disrespecting those in the military, in which case I wouldn't be on her side either, my grandfather having been a marine and a good friend's father being a Green Beret. But it doesn't appear she's doing that.

Maybe a soccer mom isn't the best judge of what young men should do?

She's a chess mom, you condescending twit.

And what the Pentagon needs is to understand is that it is sedition and treason. It should be punished.

Secular American Dhimmitude.

I think that one major difference between, to use an example, the Dearborn case and the military is that joining the military is totally optional, but if you live in Dearborn you live there. Moving out of town is a a heck of a lot different than joining an organization. The way the military works (when there's no draft) just makes avoiding it by all accounts very, very easy.

Moving out is still not difficult and most of the barriers to doing so are psychological.

Lydia has generally shown herself to be more of a hawk

That's not a counter-argument to Mark's point. There are plenty of hawks (indeed probably most) who are as ignorant of the actual military as Mark accuses them of being. Just look at all of the hawks in the Bush Administration and how they sacked every military man who backed Shinseki when he said we'd need at least 200k troops to pacify Iraq. Being good, ignorant hawks they knew how to shock and awe. They didn't so much understand much beyond that like the need to be able to both hold territory and carry out pacification operations when the natives get restless.

The idea that Lydia, in articulating the view that Christians ought to think very seriously about whether the US military continues to earn their honor and esteem, has undertaken a singular adventure in "feminist and paternalistic" [both at once?] hectoring, that she speaks only for herself, is patent and easily-falsified nonsense; but it is entirely characteristic of the ill-mannered immaturity of the commenter who levels the accusation.

Meanwhile, since Dunsany is such an expert in Christian evangelism, the particular oratorical forms it takes, and the theology that underlies it, perhaps he or she will enlighten us on the following: How precisely does Christianity differ from other religions and philosophies on the question of what justice means for abominable conduct?

On some matters, of course, there is no consensus as to whether X or Y conduct is indeed abominable; but on others, thankfully, there is a very strong consensus. For instance, we all in perfect agreement that the conduct of the abductor in Cleveland was abominable, and deserving of the most severe punishment. One hardly need be a Christian to believe this.

It follows from a belief in rational justice (that is, a moral order not subject to human will) that abominable conduct deserves punishment. This is not unique to the Christian faith. But Christianity, though emphatically upholding rational justice and the penalties that follow from its breach, does very much differ from other systems on the question of what people justly deserving of punishment should do with themselves, should they become aware of their depravity. Whether Dunsany has even an inkling of these key substantive details, is very much an open question.

Mike T, you're pretty amazing. Is it just that you have a knee-jerk support for anyone who accuses someone of being a feminist? Good grief, man, I know the things you have said both here and on other threads. You have not only agreed with me but gone farther than I in condemning the anti-Christian, hyper-feminist, etc., etc. atmosphere that has been brought to the military, yet you feel you have to make some positive comment about Mark just because...just because...? What? I mean, you're the guy who hopes it all comes crashing down just to show those darned feminists! At least I wish we could get this stuff cleaned up so that our military _could_ be a place that our young men could be encouraged to join, if their bent lies that way.

Mark, my comment was divided in two. The statement about ignoring what else I have said about Capt. Ritchie was addressed to the liberal Grobi. I had nouns in direct address separating the parts of the comment. Learn to read.

As for my level of knowledge, I am a citizen who takes probably more interest in what is going on in the military than the average citizen. Citizens in that situations are allowed to, y'know, blog about what they are reading and are concerned about. The insult that my information doesn't "go beyond headlines" is silly even vis a vis this particular entry, but I have researched other stories and not only stories but movements. For example, I've had an interest for decades in the rise of feminism in the military and the misguided deployment of women, as witness my frequently expressed admiration for Mitchell's book _Women in the Military: Flirting with Disaster_, which I found quite convincing and which is all the more timely now than when it was written. A real feminist book, that./sarc

Sheesh. Don't be a jerk just for the sake of being a jerk, Mark.

"I'm not saying that Christianity is as bad as either, but there is nothing strange about being upset when someone tries to convert you to an ideology you fundamentally disagree with. I find Christian views on gays repulsive, they disgust me. I'm not going to apologize for that, and I don't expect you to apologize for your beliefs about homosexuality."

This reduces Christianity to another opinion among many. It is not. At the center of Christianity is The Truth and it always will be. As such, one can only quote to the Air Force officers the words of another officer, a captain:

"The first duty of every Starfleet officer is to the truth, whether it's scientific truth or historical truth or personal truth! It is the guiding principle on which Starfleet is based! And if you can't find it within yourself to stand up and tell the truth about what happened, you don't deserve to wear that uniform! I'm going to make this simple for you, Mr. Crusher: Either you come forward and tell Admiral Brand what really took place, or I will."
"Captain..."
"Dismissed!"

Indeed, no military can long stand on the foundations of lies. Christianity, truth be told, is why the American military has been sucessful for so long. If its deep connections to it are removed, it will turn, first, vicious, then confused, and then scared.

In fact, I would argue that removing the influence of Christianity in the military should be grounds for court martial as it is a long-term act of slow treason.

Of course, we may only see the results of this experiment in secular-induced cowardice after the patient is already dead. Real men are always asserting a truth. If the truth becomes merely an exercise in relative opinions, then the concept of what it takes to be a man become nothing more than an opinion and those opinions, like those men, will become nothing worthy of dying for.

The Chicken

Fair enough Lydia on the Grobi bit Lydia. But I still would like to know what other institution(s) you recommend that Christians abandon. On the one hand you accept that the whole nation is moving in a certain direction, but you advocate abandoning only one of the nation's institutions. It is very bad theology in light of the biblical admonitions, and one I don't think you'd endorse in any other area.

You say you take more interest than the average citizen "in what is going on" in the military, but your interest seems to be limited to military politics as related to hot button issues. And you seem not to feel inclined to inform us to what degree it owes to things other than military politics, even though you acknowledge that it does. I just don't know why anyone should accept your gratuitous and insulting suggestions to give gratuitous, insulting, and politicized advice to young men of our acquaintance when your primary interest in the military politics.

There is no shortage of men who've served and love the institution, and there is no reason to abandon hope now. I deplore these developments as much as you do, and I applaud your reporting them, but your advice you're handing out just isn't good advice nor anything but bad theology if it is based on articles like this. And if your advice isn't based on the politics of the articles then you should tell us what it is based on.

Need I remind you that we have the most Left-wing and radical president in our history and little respect for pubic opinion, and he is packing all areas of government and public policy roles with radicals? Is this really the time to advise your readers to dissuade young men from joining the military based on military politics of Obama appointments? Really?

Mark, _many_ of the other problems in the military have continued through Republican administrations as well. The extremely unwise deployment of women was not turned back by Republican administrations. Paul Ryan said on behalf of himself and Mr. Romney that the invitation to open homosexuals to serve in the military was already water under the bridge (after such a short time!) and that they would not try to turn it back if elected. This isn't just about the Obama administration, more's the pity.

Look, you've just gotten angry about one sentence in my post. Too bad. Bag it. Your anger is noted and logged. The fact is that plenty of idealistic families, *some of them of my acquaintance*, have young men making life choices right now, the parents are going to influence their sons, and they are lacking information. They haven't even thought through many of these problems, including the new homosexualization of the military (which unfortunately we can now count on a future Republican administration to support, if the Romney campaign's statements are any indication). Young men listen to their parents for advice. The parents sometimes follow the events of the day more than an idealistic 15-year-old boy dreaming of a future in a military that, frankly, no longer exists. His parents need to start informing him now. Maybe some of them read my blog. If you don't like my seeing my role that way, go jump in the lake.

No, I'm not going to launch into some general discussion of when we should not enter or get out of some institution in our country. Many people are upset at home schoolers for the very reason that you are evidently upset that anyone would _dare_ to suggest that the military isn't the best career goal for a Christian young man. Again, too bad. You have a heck of a nerve: "I don't like this sentence in your post, so I now demand that you debate me on exactly when and where Christians have a duty to stay in some institution to be salt and light. C'mon, c'mon!" People have a perfect right to take such considerations into account in deciding what field to go into, and people like you should get over yourselves. To listen to you, you'd think every x number of young men has a duty to enter the military so as not to abandon the institution. Maybe we should draw their names from a hat and guilt-trip them--a sort of "Christian salt and light draft." Good grief.

Overall, you're behaving badly. Stop it.

Gee Mark, you really don't know when to give it up don't you? Can't you hear yourself? Condescending twit is about right. If you won't grow up, at least you could shut up.

As a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure Lydia would be "consistent" in advising Christians to abandon a national institution such as the Boy Scouts, where gay members are now allowed. She also vigorously advocates that Christians not send children to public school. So... so much for accusations of inconsistency, at least as it pertains to remotely parallel examples (marriage doesn't count).

Also, where in the Bible does it say that Christians must deliberately imperil their own souls (and possibly the souls of their children) on the chance that they might get the opportunity to witness to somebody?

Ha, my comment was written before Lydia's. Told you so.

By the way, I don't support civil marriage so that Christians can be "salt and light to married people" or something bizarre like that. The word "institution" as applied to an organization in which one might work such as the military (or to public schools, for that matter) and as applied to the legal category of civil marriage is clearly being used in two different senses. What a lot of nonsense.

Dusany,

You say, "I don't blame Christians for that given that getting sent to hell is basically the worst thing that can happen to someone, but it's disingenuous to argue that Christian sermons aren't filled with fire and brimstone."

Where do you go to church -- I was just thinking the other day that I could use more "fire and brimstone" sermons. Quite frankly, the quality of sermons one gets at my catholic church are quite variable and one never hears anything about hell. Sign me up for more fire and brimstone!

Dunsany, as Jeffrey says, most Christian sermons aren't in fact filled with fire and brimstone.

But I will simply note re. your comments that what they come to is that Christians should be forced to shut up when it comes to trying to induce people to become Christians, because their religion is inherently offensive and their attempts at witnessing must therefore be by definition offensive. That this is an extreme position should be evident. Also, as far as I know, Christians do _not_ hold (and I certainly do not hold) that "secular humanists" should be similarly banned in the military from having conversations in which they attempt to convince Christians to convert to their position.

Lydia,

Mike T, you're pretty amazing.

It never gets old hearing that.

Is it just that you have a knee-jerk support for anyone who accuses someone of being a feminist? Good grief, man, I know the things you have said both here and on other threads. You have not only agreed with me but gone farther than I in condemning the anti-Christian, hyper-feminist, etc., etc. atmosphere that has been brought to the military, yet you feel you have to make some positive comment about Mark just because...just because...? What? I mean, you're the guy who hopes it all comes crashing down just to show those darned feminists! At least I wish we could get this stuff cleaned up so that our military _could_ be a place that our young men could be encouraged to join, if their bent lies that way.

I didn't side with Mark against you. I attacked MarcAnthony's logic. The idea that you being a hawk makes you knowledgeable about the military is logically preposterous on the same level as saying that a pacifist is obviously a more loving and caring person than someone who is more hawkish.

And yes, I do think you are a bit ignorant and naive on the military from some of your comments. However, I don't think that negates any of the sound points you've made in the past.

Though I do disagree with you on young men not going into the military. That is a recipe for disaster for Christians. No small part of the reason why Rome capitulated was the realization that over 1/3 of its military was composed of the very religion it was persecuting. Imagine the impunity with which they'd consider using the military if it were thoroughly purged of Christians.

It doesn't seem to occur to Grobi and Dusany that Christians actually believe that the teachings on Hell are both true and their truthfulness independent of our desires. It's like none of us know plenty of people who are going to Hell if our beliefs are true that we REALLY don't want going to Hell. There might even be a few homosexuals in that category too!

"Meanwhile, since Dunsany is such an expert in Christian evangelism, the particular oratorical forms it takes, and the theology that underlies it, perhaps he or she will enlighten us on the following: How precisely does Christianity differ from other religions and philosophies on the question of what justice means for abominable conduct"

Irrelevant. I was responding to someone who said that Christian evangelism is not focused on hell and is therefore not offensive to groups that are condemned by the Christian bible (eg homosexuals). If Christian evangelism is focused on punishment and trying to inspire fear in those who lead "sinful" lifestyles then those groups will find offensive. Whether or not other moral systems also proscribe punishment for wrongdoing is therefore irrelevant. That said, many modern ethicists explicitly reject the idea of retribution. The belief that the guilty should be punished "because they deserve it" is far form universal and is in fact totally incompatible with most ethical systems.

But I will simply note re. your comments that what they come to is that Christians should be forced to shut up when it comes to trying to induce people to become Christians, because their religion is inherently offensive and their attempts at witnessing must therefore be by definition offensive. That this is an extreme position should be evident.


I don't think my position is that extreme. If I find Christian beliefs offensive you shouldn't be allowed to push them on me in a professional setting. Why is that extreme? Should super officers be allowed to attempt to convert their subordinates to Nazism or to convince them that the KKK is right about blacks?

Naive? Well, I guess that proves that I can't win. Mark says I don't know what I'm talking about because I'm too _negative_ about the problems in the military. Mike T thinks I'm naive. Whatevs, guys.

Btw, Mike T., you might be interested in what you have said on this subject before. First, you quoted, apparently approvingly, the following from Jeff Culbreath:

Seventeen years ago I considered joining the Navy Reserves and spent some time with the officers and recruits. The anti-Christian atmosphere was palpable, sorry to say. Abu Ghraib did not come as a surprise to me, not in the least.

Then, you said,

A Christian friend of mine just got out of the Army. From his description, it was probably the most profoundly anti-Christ environment he'd ever been exposed to. For perspective, our university was rated as one of the top party schools in the country or something like that by Playboy not long before we got there.

http://www.whatswrongwiththeworld.net/2010/09/i_only_recently_became_aware.html#comment-153287

Yeah, Dunsany, it's extreme. There's this thing called the "exchange of ideas." As Sage put it above, why should your virgin ears be protected from attempts to discuss religion with you and convince you of a position that another person thinks is importantly right and important _for you_? I imagine people discuss a lot of things in the military as in any professional environment. I imagine even superiors have conversations with lower-ranked personnel. And people will influence each other on _all manner_ of things in such conversations. There is no reason why religious influence and persuasion per se should be off the table any more than political discussions or scientific discussions or anything else. Should military personnel be forbidden to attempt to convince one another of the tenets of feminism or of particular alleged facts about the environment? What if one is a vegetarian and they have a discussion about the ethics of meat-eating? Proselytizing!!

Christians are often told to grow up and enter the big world where others don't always agree with them, but I guess non-Christians have to be sheltered forever from disagreement, debate, and persuasion. Childish.

Now, you can pretend that we're talking about someone's tying you down and blaring Bible verses in your ears night and day, but to pretend that would be dishonest, because you must know that isn't what we're talking about. We're also not talking about twisting your arm and saying, "Kneel, boy, and pray to Jesus now!" You can use invidious phrases like "push it on me," but, to quote from some more moderate people than I as I did in the post above,

What could seem to be a friendly conversation about spiritual matters to one serviceperson could be perceived or deliberately mischaracterized as “proselytizing” to the person on the receiving end. The fact that this has been raised at all in such a subjective fashion could have a chilling effect on service personnel sharing their faith at all.

Dunsany, whatever you thought you were responding to, your arguments have so far rested on an assumed base of knowledge of what constitutes Christian evangelism. I for one am very suspicious that said base of knowledge exists. The question I posed, if answered correctly, would put that issue to bed.

I tend to think that each of us has the right to end a conversation whenever they want to. You have the right to preach in public places, but if you are talking to me and I tell you to stop then you should listen to me. If I don't want to hear your ideas I shouldn't have to, and that is why professional organizations like the military should try to keep that stuff out of the workplace. As for whether attempting to change someone's entire worldview is akin to discussing vegetarianism, you are being extremely disingenuous. We all know that those issues are not nearly as important to most people, and it is highly unlikely that someone would be offended by a conversation about whether we should eat meat. Conversations about the inferiority of African Americans on the other hand......We have to draw a line somewhere, and I think Christian teachings are offensive enough to enough people to be placed over the line.

Suppose an "officers for the kkk" club is started on a military base. Should its members have the right to try to get other people to join using "private conversations?" Yes or no?

That's not a counter-argument to Mark's point. There are plenty of hawks (indeed probably most) who are as ignorant of the actual military as Mark accuses them of being.

I wasn't talking about military or lack thereof. LYdia was accused of having an anti-military bias, and I disagreed.

Moving out is still not difficult and most of the barriers to doing so are psychological.
You're kidding, right? My family has wanted to move from where we live now for, what, maybe 7 years now? We can't for a ton of reasons, not the least of which being the huge amount of debt we're in and the housing market. Also, fixing up our house would take an enormous amount of money that we don't have.

And yeah, there are psychological barriers. It's WAY different than NOT joining an optional organization.

Dunsany, with every word you write you make it clear that your anti-Christian position is extreme. You analogize Christianity to a KKK club (so presumably a Christian Bible study would be like a KKK meeting). You say we should try to "keep that stuff out of the workplace," meaning Christianity and Christian conversations aimed at changing people's minds! Yet you say that your position is not extreme. In fact, you illustrate exactly the sort of massive Christian bias, the demand that Christians must shut up and live in the closet because Christianity is horrible and bad and intrinsically offensive, that I have been arguing for! So I'm not sure how much there is in your comment to answer. You just keep illustrating my point. (As a matter of fact, there are lots of _very_ passionate vegans and vegetarians around. I would say "religiously passionate." They're pretty evangelistic about it and "judgemental" of us meat eaters, which is annoying. So, yeah, that was a good analogy.)

I can certainly see restricting the promotion of certain ideas in the military based on content. I wouldn't approve of advocacy for pedophilia in the military, for example. Or of armed revolution or jihad! But if you think that Christianity itself is akin to the KKK or anything else that is so bad that advocating it in the military should essentially be banned, then you're unhinged. You and Mikey Weinstein should get along just great.

In which case, Dunsany, don't pretend that people like me are right-wing alarmists. When people who think like you are influencing the military and its policies concerning religion, we have good reason to be very concerned.

MarcAnthony, I suppose there are people who would consider me anti-military, but that all depends on what one means. I'm certainly no pacifist! There are many issues here. To speak in general terms, I think that our troops often have not been well-served by their leadership. In Democrat administrations going back to the Carter administration, the military is too often treated as a gigantic guinea pig farm and jobs factory and accordingly used for promoting highly dubious social policies and social experiments. The pattern is usually that the Republicans, though they did not instigate these experiments, lack the will entirely to turn them back. (And, yes, I'm afraid to some extent this was true of the Reagan administration as well.) The quisling comments by Ryan apropos of the homosexualization of the military, and Rubio's passive and even enthusiastic acceptance of women in combat, are just the most recent and most extreme examples of this Republican complicity. Then there are various policies of "winning hearts and minds" which put our troops at unfair risk, such as the requirement in Afghanistan that they walk rather than riding in vehicles, resulting in gruesome injuries from land minds. (This is to "show our trust" of the Afghanis!) Add to this the fact that too often we take on nation-building ventures abroad which are questionably do-able and which do not have clear and reachable military objectives, and you have a pattern of really serious problems of many different kinds.

If this brief critique makes me anti-military in the eyes of some (which it might) or leaves me seeming "naive" and "ignorant" in the eyes of others, so be it. It is not, in any event, based on a _lack_ of information but on citizen observance, reading, information-gathering, discussion, and reflection over quite a number of years.

Moreover, the ability of individual service members to influence policy is extremely limited. The military is far from being a democratic institution! During the Clinton administration, I recall reading about soldiers being punished for criticizing the President, which was evidently openly prohibited. The rights of military members are far from being the same as those of civilians. Far too often, men's careers have been harmed because they have dared to criticize policy. Sometimes this is even daring to criticize policies that haven't been implemented. Mitchell's book mentions the fact that men could have their careers deep-sixed for saying that they didn't think women should be in combat, even though officially women were not allowed in combat! And this was quite some time ago! The best way to "have influence" was to say shibboleth so that one could have a career, which of course meant that one really didn't have that much influence! All of which calls very much into question the idea of going into the military for purposes of influencing or changing it.

In any event, individuals have to make up their own minds. Speaking for myself, I'm opposed to sacrificing the individual for some merely hypothetical benefit to the "institution as a whole," which is just one of many reasons why I home school! The important thing is that information is known. I believe that if parents and young men (many men join the military very young) know the facts, they will hesitate greatly about taking on this career. As far as I'm concerned, that's a rational response. But what I would hope all conservatives could agree on is that young men shouldn't be going into the contemporary military without knowledge of "the worst," whether "the worst" is something recent, long-standing, or a recent intensification or out-working of something set going long ago, and then getting an unpleasant surprise.

By the way, I don't support civil marriage so that Christians can be "salt and light to married people" or something bizarre like that.

Um, not quite what I meant Lydia by "other institutions". I ask again, what other civil institution do you recommend that Christians abandon? Answer: none, for obvious reasons. Why is the military special in being a bad place for Christians to be if that is the direction the whole country is headed? It makes no sense.

Mark, _many_ of the other problems in the military have continued through Republican administrations as well.

Lydia, that wasn't my point but in any case you never thought is was a good idea for young men to go into the military. And you say men are going into a military of their dreams that "no longer exists", yet I know Christians in it now that love it despite its flaws. Moreover, the military of your dreams never did exist. There is no shortage of accounts of the depredations of camp life since the founding of the country, and you won't admit that bothers you at all, but want us to believe it that bad politics, as much as I deplore them and think we must fight them, is so dangerous for Christians who decide knowingly on a dangerous occupation. You are anxious to prove your self knowledgable about military-politics, while being uninformed about the military generally. Makes no sense. Meanwhile millions of students go into college every year with idealistic dreams and poisonous political *content* and definitely more subtle, and you don't have the same recommendations. It's just bias.

But on the other hand, maybe I'm wrong. After all who knows more about what young men should do than a middle-aged mom packing hand sanitizer?

Well, I really regret that last paragraph. Sorry I was so mean.

It's not just "meanness" Mark (though yes, you are being a jerk). It's condescension, lack of information, presumption, etc. Every time you open your mouth, you're displaying your ignorance about this issue and your failure to recognize the considerable research Lydia has done on it. Maybe you could (gasp!) learn something from her.

But yes, it's a good start to apologize for being such an ass about it. It's nice that you're slowing down and starting to hear yourself for a change.

Naive? Well, I guess that proves that I can't win. Mark says I don't know what I'm talking about because I'm too _negative_ about the problems in the military. Mike T thinks I'm naive. Whatevs, guys.

I said you are a bit naive. For example, I recall you trying to work a bit around the idea that military service for women inherently puts them at some risk of actual armed combat. Maybe my memory is faulty on that point; I don't spend as much mental energy on online discussions as I used to so maybe that is misremembering on my part.

Btw, Mike T., you might be interested in what you have said on this subject before. First, you quoted, apparently approvingly, the following from Jeff Culbreath:

I don't think an anti-Christian atmosphere is sufficient to keep Christian men away. I think it's an argument for making sure that the men who are encouraged to go into it have a working pair and faith strong enough to make them able to resist falling into that culture. At the end of the day, it can work but only if the man really has some testicular fortitude and a faith that reinforce one another.

Okay, Mark, "mean"? Try "totally jerkish." Did it ever occur to you just to disagree with someone civilly? You could disagree without insult. But I dunno, you don't seem capable of that.

As for "other institutions that Christians should abandon," yes, I think there are such. As for what military used to exist, I never said the military used to be pure, holy, and no challenge to a young man's morals! In fact, not a single thing I happen to have mentioned in this thread has to do with challenging a young man's morals (though I could have mentioned that), yet I still had plenty to say.

Nor is this chiefly a matter of a "dangerous occupation." In fact, I understand full-well that its dangers may be part of its attraction to manly men, and that's fine. What I'm talking about are not dangers per se nor even dangers to faith per se but things that are more utterly disheartening than that--and such a variety of them, too.

Mike T, I completely agree that as things have been for a long time, military service for women inherently puts them at some risk of actual armed conflict. I suppose I can dream up something like a desk job on a state-side base that wouldn't have that effect, or would have it so negligibly as not to be worth mentioning, but I have always staunchly asserted that the military has for decades blurred (deliberately, I would say) the distinction between support and combat roles for women. Probably what you are remembering is that I *think it worth opposing* (for various reasons) and *think there is in fact some relevant difference* between the enhanced "support roles" we have had up until now and full-bore combat roles. For this judgement I rely on several things written by people who are (unlike me) supportive of the present roles of women in the military, who have been on the ground in combat situations, who say there is a difference, and who give details. Yet when I talk to people about these issues, I always emphasize the insidiously enhanced "support" roles that have been going on for a long time and their resemblance to combat roles, and their risks.

And, yes, Mark, I suggest that Christians "abandon" the public schools. If it mattered, and even though I don't have to provide some answer to your aggressive challenge. For that matter, I think sensible secular people should "abandon" them as well. As for marriage, you are the one who made the ridiculous analogy between getting married and joining the military. ???

You could disagree without insult. But I dunno, you don't seem capable of that.

If you define insult as saying things you don't wish to hear in public debate without respect to their truth value. The price of your approval is too high. I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but it is quite obvious your approval was never in the cards for me. Your price is control. No thanks. Among those two choices, I prefer your disapproval.

Your accusations of feminism are utter nonsense to me. The military today is no bastion of traditional masculinity.

Utter nonsense? Bah. You have always displayed a conflicted understanding on such things. On the one hand, you bemoan a lack of robust cultural confidence you think typified by previous generations of the Americans and the British. On the other, you disapprove comes along with confidence. There has never been a nation in the history of the world who had the cultural confidence you claim to wish to see, and not done the things of which you withhold your approval. The Americans came far, far closer to any nation in displaying cultural confidence but rejecting the conquests of empire, but you sniff and say it isn't good enough. But it seems pretty obvious that what they do politically isn't the problem for you. the American military has a view of masculinity you disapprove of. It always did.

In your view of the military we see the typical feminine conflict over views of masculinity. They want strong men and strong leaders, as long as they can control the image of what a "good" man is.

Masculinity is the last thing feminism wants to deal with. The feminist viewpoint will not allow men to define what masculinity means. Women are the best ones to define masculinity, and they don't need men's input. Believe it or not it is possible to be a “good” man without the permission, advice, or consent of women. It isn't the politics that bothers you about the military, what bothers you is that it's a bunch of men operating on men's understanding of what masculinity is, rather than the feminine ideal of it.

Mark, again, civility is what we are talking about as a prerequisite for "approval." If it's a matter of principle to you to say the kinds of things, such as gratuitous personal insult, which you yourself later realize that you need to apologize for, then you are the conflicted one. Also, you are in that case behaving like a troll. Also, you are in violation of our comment policies. A word to the wise should be sufficient, but I doubt that it will be.

Also, if you think that the military in general, across the board, as run by the U.S., exemplifies "a bunch of men operating on men's understanding of what masculinity is," I can only say wow. I can't believe you really believe that. In many individual situations, probably that's true. Across the board, it absolutely is not true, since the integration of many explicitly feminist policies.

So Mark, if I understand you correctly, you're accusing Lydia of... feminism?

You'll forgive me if I laugh a little bit too loudly. With all due respect, you seem rather disconnected from reality.

He also seems to think that Anymouse and I are the same person...It was Anymouse who said that the accusations of feminism are utter nonsense, and I really don't think we have enough comments on these subjects from Anymouse over his entire time with us to make Mark think that he knows all the things he goes on to attribute to the person who said that the accusations of feminism are utter nonsense. So I infer that Mark thinks he was quoting me.

But that's okay, I'll say it now: Mark's use of the term "feminism" here with application to me, apparently because I, a female, have the gall to have some negative opinions of the military and to suggest that it isn't the best career choice for a conservative young man, is utter nonsense. But that really goes without saying.

You say we should try to "keep that stuff out of the workplace," meaning Christianity and Christian conversations aimed at changing people's minds!

I don't believe that is an accurate description of what is being done. The rule being proposed is aimed at military leaders trying to convert people under their command, either directly by proselytizing or indirectly through preferential treatment. You mentioned a supervisor in a company engaging people over coffee breaks, but what if he brought the employee into his office and started a discussion about their eternal salvation? Would that not have a more coercive element to it that would make you rethink your notion there is nothing improper? Because the thing about the military is that it has a very strong and highly regulated command structure, so unless you want to cause heaps of trouble you should not be looking for ways to promote personal disputes within the ranks. In fact, you should be doing the exact opposite. I suspect you will attempt some variant of: "What conflicts could result from simply sharing religious truth?" Which I will go ahead and shoot down for you, because nobody familiar with history and religion could make such a naive claim.

I notice that those on the other side of this aren't addressing the whole issue of chaplains giving spiritual advice.

Simple, chaplains should not be considered commanding officers in this particular instance. They are still due the basic respect of superior officers, if they are in fact higher rank, but they aren't the ones who give orders that must be followed under threat of court-martial.

First of all, Step2, you are quoting my response to Dunsany. Dunsany obviously hopes that this policy will "keep that stuff out of the workplace." His rants sound a bit like Weinstein's, in fact. Now, what's interesting is that we have this kind of schizophrenia going on. Or perhaps it's just a desire to have one's cake and eat it. On the one hand, people like Dunsany and Weinstein (and, in some of your earlier comments, you) imply that Christianity is *inherently offensive* (analogies to the KKK can be found in Dunsany's comments) and that therefore witnessing for Christianity needs to be "gotten out of the workplace." Dunsany, in his KKK analogy, clearly ruled out even friendly, private conversations. ("Should its members have the right to try to get other people to join using 'private conversations?'" he asked.) These statements are made in the context of discussing the Air Force policy, with the implication that the policy is a good one because it will have the desired effect.

When people like me point out how extreme a position this is and how alarming, we are told that we are misunderstanding, misrepresenting, and overreacting, that _all_ that is in view is the elimination of truly coercive situations.

Well, you can't really have it both ways. The fact is that all the references to getting rid of all attempts to "proselytize" are just as creepy as they seem, and guess what: WE DON'T TRUST PEOPLE LIKE YOU GUYS TO BE REASONABLE. I trust that is clear enough.

And since people like you guys are the ones approving of this policy and saying it will achieve your desired goals, then that just proves our point: That this policy is something to be concerned about.

As to your question: I don't think that the mere fact that a convo. about Christian conversion, etc., takes place in the superior's office is enough to make it per se inappropriate. So we just disagree.

I certainly do understand the rigid and hierarchical nature of the military command structure. I also know that it has been blatantly used (via sensitivity training, career-harming marks, etc.) for purposes of ideological coercion in the political realm. Try having an up-and-coming career in the navy, for example, while going around saying openly that you think women don't belong in combat, that it's scandalous that there have been pregnant sailors on war ships, and so forth. In the context of today's military, claims of deep concern about not "using one's superior position of power" to "promote religion" are particularly annoying. Apparently when it's religion, we have to put a gigantic bubble zone around it and not, God forbid, discuss it in the superior's office, because there might be some faint taint or hint which someone might take for coercion. When it's political correctness, heck, we just twist your arm without the slightest compunction! Color me unamused and unimpressed.

Oh, and by the way: It's so very nice of you to make an exception for chaplains, but it does not appear that the present policy does so. Comments by the people what's-her-name interviews in her article make this quite clear.

The fact is that all the references to getting rid of all attempts to "proselytize" are just as creepy as they seem, and guess what: WE DON'T TRUST PEOPLE LIKE YOU GUYS TO BE REASONABLE. I trust that is clear enough.

What you should be worried about is the law doesn't trust religious belief to be reasonable. When Terry Morris in your CPS thread started making hints about Social Security numbers being marks of the devil, I went looking for case law on it where I came across this incredible citation:

In applying the free exercise clause of the First Amendment, courts may not inquire into the truth, validity, or reasonableness of a claimant's religious beliefs. See United States v. Ballard, 322 U.S. 78, 87, 64 S.Ct. 882, 886, 88 L.Ed. 1148 (1944); Stevens v. Berger, 428 F.Supp. 896, 899 (E.D.N.Y.1977) ("A religious belief can appear to every other member of the human race preposterous, yet merit the protections of the Bill of Rights.")

Of course military personnel are not protected directly by the Constitution, their modified rights come from the UCMJ.

It's so very nice of you to make an exception for chaplains, but it does not appear that the present policy does so.

Gosh, I wonder if it is possible to change the policy?

Lydia, you know very well that feminism, or any ism, has components, each with their own reasons. Acting otherwise is silly, as you know. But good luck with that going forward as a strategy. It will be interesting to watch.

When you attack you expose yourself, and the harder the attack the more you do expose what you really believe. You made an outrageous statement of which you're not qualified to judge, much less advise that your readers should "attempt to dissuade" young men "thinking of joining the military".

Lydia, you know very well that feminism, or any ism, has components, each with their own reasons.

Once again Mark, confronted with his errors and misrepresentations, retreats into obscurity. Obscurity that takes the form of a pompous lecture, as ill-mannered as it is ungrammatical. He crowns incoherence with arrogance.

What the above-quoted sentence means is anybody's guess. It's doubtful Mark even knows.

Then we get

[Lydia] made an outrageous statement of which [she's] not qualified to judge

As a matter of fact, it's been demonstrated that Mark does not know with much exactitude who made which statement. The error is as demonstrable as Mark's self-importance is comical.

Add to this the fact that too often we take on nation-building ventures abroad which are questionably do-able and which do not have clear and reachable military objectives, and you have a pattern of really serious problems of many different kinds.

Not to mention the penchant in the army for shooting the messenger bringing news that prior (politically correct) strategy isn't going to win wars. I mean actual, physical, hot fighting wars, that is - the main reason the army exists. Due to a politicization of the strategists' play-book.

"A religious belief can appear to every other member of the human race preposterous, yet merit the protections of the Bill of Rights."

Yes, Step2, that's part of the underlying problem right there. We have the federal courts making forth with secular Enlightenment (sic) premises about the place of religion in the world, without the least shred of self-consciousness of the irony. Tin ear and tone deaf, again. If (all) religion is merely a preposterous, superstitious, incoherent (or at least non-rational) body of beliefs, then of course no one religion's views can merit more protection than the other's. But that's not what Christians believe. Just for example, Christians believe that some religious claims are dismissable on sufficient rational grounds alone, without recourse to any religious sentiment or revelation. Not all religion is equal before rational standards, and there is no a-priori reason to think they should all be equal before the law in every single venue. Moloch-worship should not be protected.

It isn't the politics that bothers you about the military, what bothers you is that it's a bunch of men operating on men's understanding of what masculinity is, rather than the feminine ideal of it.

Oh, barfberries, Mark. That's one of the nuttier things you've said yet. When you can see historically the change in some public arena - take American public schools, for example, from 1900 to 1990 - and you compare it to the kind of change the army is going through right now, you can see such similarity that it behooves us to pay attention. My mother went to public schools, and she described that they taught (fairly forthrightly) a kind of Christian non-denominational religious sentiment in the first half of last century. The sea-change that occurred after 1950, first not allowing explicit prayer, to not allowing this, that, and the other practice that fostered basic Christian perspectives, to the now-current attitude among education elites that Christianity has NO PLACE in schools other than to be mis-treated, mis-characterized, maligned and suppressed, is a clear historical precedent.

That change is now being engineered in the military.

Just as Lydia (and I, and a million others) think putting your kids in the anti-Christian public schools is a doubtful proposition, so also it is getting to be true of the military.

And just to pile on: one of the most significant critiques of the "modernization" of schools is that they have been feminized. They are arranged to support and encourage many of the virtues of women, and virtually none of men. (You know the stuff: that little boys are not designed to be able to sit still for 50 minutes at a time, but "success" in school is defined around that criterion - so kids are labelled ADHD or "a problem" when they are just normal boys). If this critique is valid of the schools, and we find that the same overall psychological underpinnings are being used to remodel the military, it isn't at all a stretch to say that

part of what Lydia objects to is the feminization of the military.

For you to imply that she objects to the revised standards based on (your imagined) objection to its masculinity is just...just...beyond funny into the sublimely ridiculous.

It's rather astonishing to me that Mark should consider advice that the military is not a wise career move to be an "outrageous statement." It's hardly unique with me. As far as my being "qualified to judge" it, I don't agree that a layman has to shut up about everything about which he isn't an expert. If a blog reader happens to get angry about a layman's considered opinion on a subject, the blog reader can stop reading that layman. That would be better than getting personally nasty and then doubling down and making absurd psychological conjectures as to the motivation. Why bother? If one can't engage in civil, rational discussion, or doesn't want to, it's just a waste of everyone's time to be personal about the matter.

They are arranged to support and encourage many of the virtues of women, and virtually none of men.

Hmmm, if you want me to quote my official source I'll grab my Education textbook, but even now girls are really only starting to catch up to guys in the science and math fields, and statistically guys are still called on in class more often than girls.

On the flipside, middle class white women still make up the vast majority of teachers - it's a feminine profession.

I thought I would hate the class, but it actually ended up as my favorite class. I had a good teacher who wasn't afraid to criticize things like the tenure system and who allowed opinions to be shared.

MarcAnthony--I realize the discussion of education is getting somewhat OT, but it does sound to me like your textbook was more than a bit glib on these subjects.

1) What you said didn't address the examples Tony gave of the feminization of the educational context. I could add more to that--the current hysteria about playing cops and robbers or pointing a finger and saying "bang bang," for example.

2) The phrase "catch up" regarding numbers of women entering those fields is invidious. Where is it written that something is wrong with education if equal numbers of women do not enter mathematics to the numbers of men? The assumptions there are huge, and I suspect an intelligent person could deny all of them.

3) Women are now out-numbering men, so I've read, in college-entering classes. I submit that _that_ is more likely to be a sign of something wrong in our education (and likely to produce serious negative social consequences over time, as well) than any remaining disparity in the STEM fields in favor of men.

4) Attempts to equalize numbers of women in the STEM fields promise to be disastrous, consisting in affirmative action, lowering of standards, pressing for more people and positions in ersatz sub-disciplines specially created to attract women, and the like. That is not improving educational quality but harming it.

5) Nose counting on boys allegedly being "called on more often in class" is a highly suspect way of deciding whether somehow classes are anti-girl. I've read some of that stuff. It's junk. It usually dismisses the response that girls may be raising their hands less often than boys. The feminist narrative is that you just have to make equal outcomes happen, even if that means pressing people to talk in class who would prefer not to, and that you have to flagellate yourself with guilt if your class participation isn't working out according to prescribed group ratios. Pshaw on that. And I note in passing that I seriously doubt that they would care if more girls than boys were being called upon in class.

6) Feminists have more or less given away the game with their response to the fact of more women than men in college. They think it's great. Presumably, "paybacks" of some kind for times when things were otherwise. Suddenly the drive for equality disappears. This should make us highly suspicious about the rationality of claims of evidence of an anti-female bias in the classroom. Such claims are being made by people with an agenda, and it isn't a good one.

Step2, btw, I agree that some religions aren't reasonable. If someone were proposing a plausible policy for preventing another Fort Hood, I'd be listening. This ain't it.

I generally hesitate to use an argument from silence, but I think it isn't unreasonable to guess that the examples given in the news article are the worst that they can come up with. And I think they're all no big deal, including the chaplain's sermon--in fact, massively overblown. We should have more important things to worry about in our military than whether some rifle company printed small verses on the guns or whether some group calls themselves "the Crusaders."

If this is the worst they can come up with, no wonder we are suspicious of these policies. _This_ is what they think we need to prevent? These are not examples of true coercion. Therefore, the policy isn't really aimed only at true coercion. Therefore, we who think little of these examples have reason to be alarmed by the policies. To say, "Some religions aren't reasonable," is no answer to this argument.

If (all) religion is merely a preposterous, superstitious, incoherent (or at least non-rational) body of beliefs, then of course no one religion's views can merit more protection than the other's. But that's not what Christians believe.

I am glad you understand, even though you disbelieve.

We should have more important things to worry about in our military than whether some rifle company printed small verses on the guns or whether some group calls themselves "the Crusaders."

Okay, but the military can walk and chew gum at the same time. There is a good reason to keep it from becoming a more serious problem. Furthermore, as a propaganda disaster to our war narrative of liberation not conquest it should have ended as soon as a senior officer discovered it.

P.S. One of the many other things to worry about is the lowering of admission standards to dangerously low levels.
http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/in-the-army-now-gangs-nazis-and-the-mentally-ill/

I am glad you understand, even though you disbelieve.

Fine, but you can't foist secular Enlightenment (sic) prejudices on Christians without undermining your very own claims of neutrality. All we are really getting is secular superstitious beliefs running roughshod over religious ones - hardly any sort of principled improvement.

There is a good reason to keep it from becoming a more serious problem.

A) That's assuming these things constitute a problem, which I don't grant.
B) That's also assuming that an anti-proselytizing policy is a reasonable response.
C) That's assuming an anti-proselytizing policy doesn't create more problems than it allegedly solves.
D) That's assuming that if we don't freak out over verses on rifles there is some intrinsic tendency hanging around out there, like a disturbance in the force, that makes it likely that "this" will "grow" into a "serious problem." I don't grant that either.

It's rather astonishing to me that Mark should consider advice that the military is not a wise career move to be an "outrageous statement."

If only that's what you said. You know full well it isn't since you just read my quote of you. I said:

You made an outrageous statement of which you're not qualified to judge, much less advise that your readers should "attempt to dissuade" young men "thinking of joining the military".

Anything so benign as a statement that the military isn't a wise career move I wouldn't object to. Even those who've served and love the military and retired from it wouldn't say otherwise. There is nothing to object to if that is what you said. If you'd have said that was all you meant I would have said "Oh, okay" and dropped the entire matter. But you didn't and went much farther showing you meant what it seemed to me you did, and far beyond the idea that military service isn't a good career move. Why you'd claim now that was all you meant all along seems like the ad-hoc defensive move it probably is.

part of what Lydia objects to is the feminization of the military.

For you to imply that she objects to the revised standards based on (your imagined) objection to its masculinity is just...just...beyond funny into the sublimely ridiculous.

Tony, who is "you" here? I can't even find anyone that said that via a page search. Cut and paste are your friend. I have no idea who you're attributing the statement to. It's hard to believe I said that. If I did I shouldn't have. And when you quote anyone do and cut and paste please.

And just to pile on: one of the most significant critiques of the "modernization" of schools is that they have been feminized. They are arranged to support and encourage many of the virtues of women, and virtually none of men. (You know the stuff: that little boys are not designed to be able to sit still for 50 minutes at a time, but "success" in school is defined around that criterion - so kids are labelled ADHD or "a problem" when they are just normal boys). If this critique is valid of the schools, and we find that the same overall psychological underpinnings are being used to remodel the military, it isn't at all a stretch to say that

Again, I have no idea who you're piling onto, but yes, I know all about this Tony. In fact if I have time tonight I might have time to an extremely concise one-paragraph history of American education as it bears on this. And it does bear on this. Until then, look before you pile please, or at least say who you're piling onto. :)

Nothing concise in any way here of course. If you thought I was a jerk before, well nothing has changed on that. It isn't anything personal, but I'm sure some will take it that way anyway. I put this together in a hurry on my lunch hour so I'm sorry for direct language. If I had a de-jerkify filter I'd use it. I think Google is working on it.


The military today is no bastion of traditional masculinity.

Your accusations of feminism are utter nonsense to me.

Your assertions that it is absurd to say you're view of how men should see themselves dependent on the traditional feminist view I think is a stretch. My mother would think the same thing based on what you've said here. Past generations of women understood perfectly well that men shouldn't be judged on women's standards. They would have distrusted a man who didn't have the approval of other men, and preferred a man be judged to be a good man on men's standards. But you're not even aware of this common view of a generation previous, and not even past. If you want a man that needs a woman's approval to validate his manhood, you've got a pretty weak man on your hands and that's going to be a problem. There have always been words for those things.

You attribute my and other's respect for the institution with an idealization; that we don't get that there is some ugliness there. It's absurd. No institution is without ugliness. Look at the hookup culture in most colleges. I am surrounded by people who've served in the military and always have been. I've been surrounded by people in business who've served. My first job in a Fortune 500 organization where I worked for 7 years was formed by military men and on military understandings that preferred former military as employees. I know people that are recently retired from it, I know quite a few men (including a number of close friends and family) that served for 4-6 years and out, that I have extended family members in now. No one, and I mean NO ONE thinks it is for everybody. Even people that love it will tell you that. And they'll tell you about the bad apples too. There's never a shortage of them anywhere. And some I know say "I'm glad I did it but I wouldn't do it again". This is all what any reasonable person would expect. But I've never, ever heard anyone whose served say "Christians shouldn't serve in the military". It's absurd on its face. Decrying the politics and then not being willing to deny it isn't the politics that motivates your view is not an inspiring strategy. And where do we find a healthy masculine culture? Where is one we can find one that Lydia approves of? She's not saying.

Look, no woman is to be blamed who doesn't get men and what makes them tick. No man would really care if a woman turned up her nose at the military, or any other vocation dominated by men. Men don't require women to understand them, any more than women necessarily require men to understand them.

My father also served in the military for a short time and was always proud of his service. My mother has the same respect for the military that I do now, but I didn't get from either parent since I'm not that way. And I didn't have it as a young man because at the time our culture did not have a lot of respect for the military generally, and I was in thrall to many of the ideas you are now. But as we get older and encounter more of life and learn the folly of some bad ideas we've imbibed from higher education drops away if we apply ourselves to test what we've been taught. And since I developed a love for history later in life, and I've had an unlimited access to free books for the last seven years or so I've not been idle in adding to my knowledge a considerable amount of U. S. military history and military men from the beginning to the *present* with great interest, right down to soldier diaries and letters home.

If you think my mother doesn't know what goes on in the military you'd be very wrong. She does a) because she's not stupid, and b) my dad told her much if not all of it. Still she knows he liked it for the short time he served and was always very proud of that. She's seen the impact on her extended family members just in the last five years who entered in their early 20's. She and anyone with eyes can see they went in very unsure of themselves and developed a confident bearing very quickly (was it manliness? gasp!), whatever they thought of serving. And the idea that young men who idealize the military and have real heroes are wrong to do so just shows how unfriendly a place the world is for men now. Schools are tuned for women now, and the arbitrary standards of higher ed look like a bunch of mush because it much of it is. Men have never, and will never, excel or even tolerate very well highly repetitious activity. I've never met a man that could stand it. I'd rather have my fingernails pulled out.

Lydia it is you that have an idealistic view of the military not born of knowledge. You won't even say when you thought it was good for men because you know it wouldn't stand up to scrutiny. Your romantic military good for men never existed. Like idealistic women reporters that went to the front in WWII Europe near the end they expected the men to be as happy in fighting it as the folks were at home since it seemed almost over. But the truth is that the fighting was no better near the end and often worse, and it never looks inspiring in any case. Their judgement was that the American GIs were "just as bad as the Germans". Well duh. A good cause does not turn the rough men who can win a fight into choirboys.

And for anyone whose thinks it out of bounds to notice the obvious effect of sex and feminism into this, I've got news. It is completely relevant. In a debate it frequently happens that a person attacks what someone else loves. You attack something I love I'm not happy. I attack something you love you're not happy. Both generate conflict. But to attribute an attack on something you love as a personal attack just isn't right. It is a misunderstanding of what conflict really entails, and it happens that women don't like conflict. They're natural conflict avoiders. In a femininized view of things anyone that causes conflict is bad, or certainly anything that causes strong emotions that may occur when deep and fundamental assumptions are attacked and things people have a deep investment in are threatened. So whoever causes this emotional discomfort is a jerk. It is a personalized understanding of external things to begin with, and the result of this misguided view is that false claims of personal attacks are likely to be made on no specific criteria. A jerk makes people uncomfortable, even if they've stepped into the arena of public and free debate. And that is how I became a jerk. Well, if that is the way it goes don't be surprised if it doesn't bother me much.

In fact if I have time tonight I might have time to an extremely concise one-paragraph history...

Sure is fun reading your stuff.

Okay, so Mark is fine with being a jerk. How about if we add:

a) can't read
b) can't write
c) is an idiot
d) doesn't know when to stop embarrassing himself by displaying all of the above

Lydia,
Your "crusade" to fix What Is Wrong With the World depends precisely upon reducing and preventing those things you think are problems, but in this case you are totally helpless and unable to respond? I don't think so - if you actually did consider it a problem you would at least think about ways to address it. It is also demonstrably false to accuse me of freaking out about this especially when you were the one abusing the caps lock key.

She didn't say she was helpless and unable to respond, she said that she does not grant that there is a problem that needs fixing. And she also didn't specifically accuse you of freaking out. She said that it wasn't necessary to freak out, i.e., wildly overreact, to a non-existent problem that is only being conjured up for obviously ideological and prejudicial reasons.

Everything I just wrote is screamingly obvious by just reading her comment in just a minimal degree of good faith.

Lydia, just a huimble suggestion: consider not responding to Mark any longer.

It's evident to all that he's arguing with a figment of his imagination, not you, and you shouldn't have to type another word explaining that you're Lydia and not the weird caricature in his head.

It's also evident that he simply doesn't know how to properly address an argument, whether good or bad.

As Masked Elephant said, he can't stop embarrassing himself. Decent people should be embarrassed for him.

"The military today is no bastion of traditional masculinity."

"Your accusations of feminism are utter nonsense to me."

Just to let everyone know, I was responsible for those statements, and I am the one who should be held responsible.

And I will come right out and say it if you want me to tell: One great example of an institution of masculinity is to be found in the better seminaries and monasteries in this country. Another institution is to be found in some of our agriculture, farms, and ranches. There we can find labor of body and intellect in a manner hostile to or unencumbered by feminist ideology. But the military today is certainly not as it was 100 years ago, and certainly not as it was before the evolution of modernism.

If you really want to see the contrast between the U.S. military that once was, until very recent times, and the pathetic immoral imitation that exists today, read "An American Knight: The Life of Colonel John W. Ripley, USMC"- http://americanknight.org .

And weep.

A crude history of education regarding sex as it relates to this debate and Tony's point about schools.


In the Renaissance (and to a large degree through the Middle Ages), teaching Latin in school had two purposes: a) to bring students into contact with the ancients; b) because the books in use, whether contemporary or ancient, were written in or translated into Latin.

When Latin passed out of vernacular usage, it set up a sharp societal distinction between those who knew it and those who did not. Some patterns Renaissance Latin teaching resembled a puberty rite because of the status and social implications of Latin as a learned language.

The divide between the vernacular and Latin world wasn't between literacy (reading and writing the vernacular) and illiteracy, but between family life among women and a type of extra-family life in an exclusively male world. Latin was the language of those on the inside, so learning Latin was the first step of initiation into this exclusive world.

Along with learned Latin went the classical rhetorical tradition. Classical rhetoric had been developed since antiquity as a rational form of ceremonial combat. Bottom line was that education was exciting because it was framed in conflict. Until the Romantic age, academic education was almost exclusively focused on polemics. It was defending a position and attacking the position of someone else. Even medicine was taught that way.

However it was that this tradition ended, one thing is clear. There isn't any way that an education that would be interesting to young men, one framed in conflict, could have survived co-ed schools. The two sexes see conflict very differently.

Now generally speaking in education conflict has been systematically removed. It is now boring to men but attractive to women, and made increasingly worse by increasing arbitrary educational requirements. So it is that systematically our institutions have been made uninviting and confusing places for men.

This is not a romantic view of schools, just a matter of historical lineage. I'm not arguing for a return to Latin or anything else. But we need some institutions where men can be men without conforming to a lowest common denominator of the two sexes.

I will add that the loss of an honorable, moral, Christian-friendly military is an abject tragedy and would seem to be the final stage of preparation for overt persecution. Throughout history in the Christian West - by which I include Latin America and all nations in the orbit of Christendom - it has been Christian military brass that rose up against persecuting republican governments. The Obama administration's attempt to purge serious Christians from the armed forces may spell the beginning of the end, unless ... well, I'll just leave it at that.

Now generally speaking in education conflict has been systematically removed. It is now boring to men but attractive to women, and made increasingly worse by increasing arbitrary educational requirements. So it is that systematically our institutions have been made uninviting and confusing places for men.

It benefits women and lesser men about equally. One of the few things that I truly loathed about the education system, especially college, was the focus on a few tests as opposed to practical demonstrations of the knowledge. This is how my alma mater managed to graduate a girl who was at the top of her class "academically" in Computer Science yet who literally could not teach herself Python over the course of 2-3 weeks. (For those unfamiliar with it, Python is about as hard as BASIC).

That's a good point Mike T. Action isn't valued and men check out.

Jeff, you're a romantic through and through. I've never seen a romantic ever know much about history, because it can't be relied on to affirm the romantic vision that is so satisfying to the holder.

Tony,

I've got a question for you. Your idea that opposition to attending public school (if anyone here were to actually advocate that) could be equated with the opposition to the joining the military is misguided. Public schools aren't a necessary institution. We have an obligation to learn and know things, and if the newness of compulsory education isn't enough, even after the advent there are and have always been alternate ways to gain knowledge and people who choose this. If everyone abandoned public schools, the alternatives could function in their stead, and many alternatives aren't schools, let alone institutions (except the family institution that educates) at all. And it is no single institution, but many individual ones.

No nation has multiple competing militaries, though they all have different functional branches. It is a part of the government as has already been said. So saying "Christians shouldn't join the military" isn't the same as saying "Christians shouldn't go to public school" (and no one here has actually said that and probably won't since it is presumptuous). So it is more like saying "Christians shouldn't run for Congress or President". Now if you want to say that go ahead, but I know you don't. Because I suspect you don't subscribe to such a sacred / secular distinction, unless you'd like to tell me differently. And if you don't like that, the analogy is quite direct with local government and police and emergency responders too. There are no alternative local police departments. Are you prepared to tell me if the police department in my city adopts a similar no proselytizing ordinance you'd advise Christians who feel called to serve in that capacity should not do so? Really? I hope not because this would be egregiously bad theology and practice. Wouldn't it be better to tell them to serve their fellow man the best they can and pray and work towards changing this rule or law? If so, why would this not hold in the military for men who feel it their vocation to serve in this capacity? So far from being "one of the nuttier things" I've said, I think you should have known better than to dismiss this fairly obvious point.

The second point is that a large part of my objections that what Lydia expressed is "outrageous" has nothing to do with the military. I probably wasn't as explicit about it as I should have been when I spoke of "heroes", but even Lydia recognized that she was saying something quite contriversial as you can see.

The parents sometimes follow the events of the day more than an idealistic 15-year-old boy dreaming of a future in a military that, frankly, no longer exists. His parents need to start informing him now. Maybe some of them read my blog. If you don't like my seeing my role that way, go jump in the lake.

It has to do with the thought and idea life of boys and young men. Let me tell you boys spontaneously get ideas on their heads about defending others. Trying to tamp down such "idealism" is feministic hogwash, with apologies to Lydia's sensibilities. There is no other way to say it. Boys and young men do it in their play, and their thought life. It is the way God made them, and for the same reasons it comes that they love to play with toy guns and such. It is perfectly natural for them to admire men of action and military men. What Lydia deplores is as natural as anything can be. Only another piece of evidence that what young men think and do aren't acceptable now. To see men who put their lives on the line and die, whatever their motivations, in the same category as a celebrity rap star who kids idealize and want to be like is a huge red flag. A gross mistake.

If it were true that Christians shouldn't join the military, parents should handle their boys far differently than they do, as Lydia is hinting. They should treat them as some Liberal parents attempt to do and drive out masculine inclinations. And any project to dissuade them from joining had better have some outlet for their aggression and defensive nature, or it would be severely harming to them. That no alternatives were even considered in this vision of hers only show how misguided, and how little connected to reality, that it is.

I would in all seriousness suggest joining a militia if one felt the need for military training or action.

Also, I would have serious personal reservations about joining the military and *perhaps* the police in the context of an anti proselytizing code. Particularly, the danger of court martial, criminal charges, etc. That danger is not present in most other fields.

Mark said:

"It has to do with the thought and idea life of boys and young men. Let me tell you boys spontaneously get ideas on their heads about defending others. Trying to tamp down such 'idealism' is feministic hogwash, with apologies to Lydia's sensibilities. There is no other way to say it. Boys and young men do it in their play, and their thought life. It is the way God made them, and for the same reasons it comes that they love to play with toy guns and such. It is perfectly natural for them to admire men of action and military men. What Lydia deplores is as natural as anything can be. Only another piece of evidence that what young men think and do aren't acceptable now. To see men who put their lives on the line and die, whatever their motivations, in the same category as a celebrity rap star who kids idealize and want to be like is a huge red flag. A gross mistake."

Mark, let me try to explain just how confused you are here. Lydia is not a feminist. Lydia does not believe it's wrong for boys to have military heroes. Lydia does not believe it's wrong for boys to enjoy playing with guns. In fact, you can probably find archived posts where Lydia is loudly speaking against the attempt to stifle all of these things in boys.

Here is what Lydia knows. Lydia knows that the military has been corrupted. Lydia knows that our soldiers are very often sent on pointless, costly missions which don't end up accomplishing any lasting good. Lydia knows that our soldiers are stripped of the basic rights ordinary citizens enjoy. Lydia knows this frequently means being bound and gagged when it comes to expressing any thought that deviates from the norm as pertains to politics. Lydia also knows that because our military has allowed women and homosexuals to join, this places a crushing burden on honorable heterosexual men to resist being tempted and to withstand being objects of temptation. She realizes that these changes have occurred because the military is run by feminists, and the military has been corrupted by feminists.

For all these reasons, Lydia believes that the military as it exists today is the perfect way to break the spirit of a Christian young man who enters with the illusion that he will be joining with other heterosexual men to effect real, significant change for good in the world, without being forced to hide the light of his convictions under a bushel. The contemporary military exists to crush each one of these dreams. Therefore, she opposes it, not because she believes the dreams are not God-given or that there is no way for boys to live them out well, but because she least of anyone wants to see the flower of a generation, the youthful glory of America, nipped before they have even finished unfolding.

You think you know what Lydia thinks. But you are wrong. Completely, wildly, embarrassingly wrong. It's making us wonder who you think you're really talking about, because whoever you're talking about is not Lydia, as Jeff has so aptly summed it up.

I repeat my word of advice: If you can't grow up, please do so completely shut up.

No nation has multiple competing militaries, though they all have different functional branches... There are no alternative local police departments. Are you prepared to tell me if the police department in my city adopts a similar no proselytizing ordinance you'd advise Christians who feel called to serve in that capacity should not do so?

Mark, it is my impression there are reserve and national guard units that operate under slightly different casts of "the rules" than the basic army. Maybe I am wrong about that.

If your town police force has draconian anti-proselytizing rules, ones for which you could be not only fired but saddled with penalties and a legal millstone around your neck for the rest of your life, I would strongly urge civic-minded young men to offer their services to the town next door instead. Maybe, after not getting many new policemen for your town, the department will re-think its rules. Something similar could apply for the military.

I admit the tension between the honorable and necessary role of men to serve the public and protect citizens, and the right and duty of men not to place themselves in unnecessary moral danger ("lead us not into temptation..."). I submit that choosing to resolve that tension by accepting the burdens of moral danger and temptation can be a reasonable choice, but only for a young man who has the real facts in hand and is (somewhat unusually) imbued with justified confidence in his ability to take the problems and deal with them. For that kind of a young man, the choice is understandable. But for him to make the choice based on mostly an idealized vision of service without the cold hard facts is one of the ways of being imprudent. Parents have a duty to help their young men avoid that kind of imprudence.

Mark, it is my impression there are reserve and national guard units that operate under slightly different casts of "the rules" than the basic army. Maybe I am wrong about that.

They're still part of the same command structure. While the guard might be able to operate under more lenient terms when deployed domestically, it falls firmly under federal regulations when deployed abroad.

Mark, it is my impression there are reserve and national guard units that operate under slightly different casts of "the rules" than the basic army. Maybe I am wrong about that.

If your town police force has draconian anti-proselytizing rules, ones for which you could be not only fired but saddled with penalties and a legal millstone around your neck for the rest of your life, I would strongly urge civic-minded young men to offer their services to the town next door instead. Maybe, after not getting many new policemen for your town, the department will re-think its rules. Something similar could apply for the military.

Tony, pardon me for observing that this is very, very, very weak stuff, and quite the comedown from your blusterous attempt at undermining me by ridicule in an ill-considered emotional haymaker. Now you say it is "your impression" about different rules? I think Mike is right in his answer, but in any case the point is that your local police force is as much "the government" as the military.

As an aside, do you have any idea the proportion of police officers who are former military? I'm not aware of any comprehensive statistics, but everyone knows it is exceedingly high. Such is the problematic nature of singling out the military from the agencies that wield societal violence, as is done here all the time. This isn't the first time I've made this point, and something tells me it won't be the last.

And if you're so concerned about separate command structures, why didn't you point out the folly of the original post about potential Air Force regulations, that she immediately moved "the U.S. military" generally being "not good for Christians to be". Surely this blatantly obvious fact is relevant, or maybe just one more piece of evidence that the post had little to do with the judgement of the final paragraph.

But I guess you can be forgiven for the fairly obvious reasons for biting the proverbial bullet and claiming that there is no institution that ought not to be abandoned by those who feel called to serve in a capacity that can only be done within a given government institution if proselytizing is proposed in a given agency, even if one thought it could be repealed later if imposed. I'm sure you're also aware that St. Francis is turning over in his grave at such intellectualization of Christian service. You are just perpetuating a confusion that was in the original post, and I don't see any reason to think it isn't just bad theology, as I've said from the beginning.

Now you say it is "your impression" about different rules?

Yeah, I said it was "my impression" because what I was really thinking of was state militias, but I was in a super hurry and didn't have time to get the right words off the back of my mind. State militias DO operate under a completely different command structure and a different set of rules.

attempt at undermining me by ridicule in an ill-considered emotional haymaker.

This from the guy who has been trying to bludgeon Lydia through several comments? What was that old rule about dishing it out...?

And if you're so concerned about separate command structures, why didn't you point out the folly of the original post about potential Air Force regulations, that she immediately moved "the U.S. military" generally being "not good for Christians to be".

An Obama administration that feels free to impose the rules on the Air Force today will be free to impose it on the Navy or Army tomorrow. They are all under the Pres and DoD. Lydia's point was at least as much about the shortly-to-be and long-range probable conditions as about the immediate conditions.

you can be forgiven for the fairly obvious reasons for biting the proverbial bullet and claiming that there is no institution that ought not to be abandoned by those who feel called to serve

I am so glad I can be forgiven for saying something, when I didn't even say it. In fact, for saying almost the exact opposite of what you claim I said:

I submit that choosing to resolve that tension by accepting the burdens of moral danger and temptation can be a reasonable choice,

I was making it clear that my recommendation (not to join) WAS NOT something that would fall on all equally, and that in some cases a young men would be OK with the trials and difficulties if he joined.

There are plenty of occupations that involve grave moral danger. A good society will have someone whose job it is to screen media (movies, TV, etc) and let people know which ones are extremely harmful to morals. Obviously, the fact that society desperately needs someone to fill the post doesn't mean JUST ANYONE is the right person to do so. Some people, such as most young men, probably are not morally ready for such a spiritually dangerous duty.

Ok, Tony I appreciate your clarifications. Our exchange began with your attributing another's quote to me and ridiculing it so I guess we're even. I'm not going to argue I'm not trying to bludgeon Lydia since no one will listen to the idea that this type of debate will never be what some people will always pretend it should be. If sports were played that way no one would watch. And yet there is a sportsmanlike conduct and everyone knows what it is. They hit just as hard when the whistle blows. The difference here is that there isn't anything between plays and having one's ideas challenged makes for a very emotionally wrenching experience.

"having one's ideas challenged makes for a very emotionally wrenching experience."

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA, AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA...

*collapses*

I guess you can be forgiven for the fairly obvious reasons for biting the proverbial bullet and claiming that there is no institution that ought not to be abandoned by those who feel called to serve in a capacity that can only be done within a given government institution if proselytizing is proposed in a given agency, even if one thought it could be repealed later if imposed
I'm not going to argue I'm not trying to bludgeon Lydia since no one will listen to the idea that this type of debate will never be what some people will always pretend it should be.

What did the English language ever do to deserve such abuse and mutilation?

Should he ever deploy a competence at English composition, it would be interesting to see Mark address the Masked Elephant's very cogent comment of May 17, 2013 at 4:40 PM.

But let's all keep in mind a certain matter of basic logic: Unless Mark takes the view that there are no conceivable circumstances which would compel Christians to renounce service in a given military, that no possible military culture could grow so depraved as to preclude Christian recruitment, he too could find himself in the position of perpetuating the outrage he attributes to Lydia: namely, recommending against service in the military. Should the military require public oaths of allegiance to morbid pagan deities, should the military establish an open dhimma covenant for non-Muslims, should the military require participation in child sacrifice: in each of these cases, I trust, Mark too would work to dissuade young men from military service.

So all this tiresome excursion in monomania comes down to is, far from a great clash of competing principles, or grand emotional challenge of ideas, little more than a difference in detail on the question of whether important moral lines have been crossed. Not whether those lines exist. Mark says no, the key lines have no yet been crossed, though he acknowledges trends are bad; Lydia says, cautiously, that she believes they have been crossed or very soon will be. And out of this mild disagreement in empirical judgment, Mark spins out a complicated, obscure, impenetrable psychological theory about Lydia's paternalistic romance of feminism. Remarkable.

Yeah, well Mark also owes our friend Jeff Culbreath an apology for this comment as well:

Jeff, you're a romantic through and through. I've never seen a romantic ever know much about history, because it can't be relied on to affirm the romantic vision that is so satisfying to the holder.

Mark, you don't know Jeff, and you don't know how much history he knows. For all you know, he could have a history Ph.D., or be equally well read in it without the degree. You could have structured your comment without much offense, by pointing out that SOME romantics are short on history, or with at least somewhat less offense by saying that your experience of other romantics is that they are short on history. Instead you used a construction that quite clearly includes Jeff personally because you have "seen" his work and commentary.

As a result, you devalued his commentary not on the basis of an argument showing that his commentary was wrong, but on the basis of his being a romantic. That's a classic ad hominem false form of rhetorical technique, and constitutes a kind of verbal injustice.

Which is a pretty good explanation for Elephant's collapse in hysterics.

Tony, why should I care if Jeff has a Ph.D.? What does a credential have to do with knowledge? But you're right, what I said was dismissive and I shouldn't have said it. And I don't hear you and Masked One booing so much, what I hear sounds more like "Mark! Mark! Mark!"

Look, I let foolishly let myself be sucked into a side discussion with you on one of the two points that I raised, and not the on that is most important in my opinion which isn't directly related to the military as I said before.

A misunderstanding of boy's and young men's desires and motives, which are then excluded or condemned for reasons other than what they really are. How this isn't functionally the same thing as what Tony has said (and I've endorsed) accurately described has been happening in schools for years I do not see. Both owe to good intentions.

The idea that boys who dream of fulfilling these needs and desires in their future should be mindful of the realities of the dangers of any political bureaucracy is fine and good, indeed anyone who doesn't consider such things is a fool.

Lampooning the problems with the latter is the subject of as wide and deep as mockery of politicians generally, the common aphorism about the oxymoronism of "military intelligence", countless novels and movies, and I've never thought it other than a healthy skepticism of such things that we ought to have. Is that really what young men are missing in this day and age? Really? I had a friend in the Navy who loved Catch-22 while in the Navy. Some more modern books with a dark cynical cast have a cult-like status in the ranks now. Men in uniform love that stuff, and make no secret of it and don't need to. It helps them cope. Soldiers read all manner of books before, during, and after their service that explore and lampoon every political-military aspect you can imagine, and deriding the military-political bureaucracy is something of which they're well aware and participate in. Is the perceived unrealistic or harmful idealism observed in boys mentioned in the last paragraph of the post the result of a faith that can't countenance (at least) healthy skepticism in the political aspects of the command structure? That's a big stretch. Or is it evidence of the confusion in what boys are actually idealizing by those who've never had these thoughts or had close relationships to men or boys who did, or denies that these natural desires are good in any case? I shouldn't have speculated that Lydia might be doing the former, but in terms of function and effect it is the same.

So if you don't want to call this feminism, then that's fine. I never considered it an epithet, but a technical term. I see others have a different view so I wouldn't use it knowing what I know now. But what is this phenomenon? It is the lack of a masculine sensibility as a counterbalance in the perspective. It can't be called a "soccer mom" perspective, because that is offensive to suggest some part of a woman's view might owe a good bit to her nature. So we can't say this if women are present, but we all know we'll do it when they're not, and that women say similar things about men. It's comical how even common knowledge can't be repeated publicly without censure if it clashes with an idealistic vision of who we are. This subject isn't any more abstract than what boys deal with in school each day, and it isn't even remotely limited to schools. Neither is it abstract that I deal with such trials and tribulations in assisting some very close to me. It isn't just boys who suffer the consequences of the view that nothing can fall outside the scope of a woman's judgement even if not tempered by the relevant experience, one way or the other, of the views of men. Even if said judgement is about men. It is somewhat ironic that it is unacceptable here to not assume the equality of the sexes in judgement given what people claim to believe here, but not surprising since I've made a career of pointing out how romantic visions (or individual aspects of them) are invariably modern ideologies in disguise. So it goes.

What does a credential have to do with knowledge?

Well, it does designate that he has completed a large amount of study in a particular area and has absorbed it well enough to pass extremely difficult classes. As a matter of fact, his particular credential is basically a way to designate the knowledge Jeffrey has of his particular subject area.

That's not to say you need to agree with everything somebody with a PhD says, but it certainly has an awful lot to do with knowledge.

In any case Mark, my serious advice, coming from somebody who has been thoroughly embarrassed as you have in a similar fashion and in a similar way: Instead of responding to Strawmen of everybody's views, you probably should ask for clarification first.

For example, if you think that Lydia saying "Christians should be dissuaded from joining the military" is obviously ridiculous, you may want to consider the fact that Lydia is an extremely smart person who has given a lot of thought to her views and doesn't just throw out her random opinion about things she doesn't understand. If her view seems so ridiculous to you at first glance more often than not there's a comprehension problem, and before you challenge her views outright you should probably ask her to explain more clearly what she means by that. The trick, of course, is not to be sarcastic, something that I think you'll find difficult at this point in the proceedings.

I'm not saying that you need to agree with her, of course. But you're implying (well, outright saying really) that she doesn't know what she's talking about, and that simply isn't the case.

Tony, you're absolutely right about the summary disrespect to Jeff. Even in apology this fool cannot help but run his mouth.

Look, I let foolishly let myself be sucked into a side discussion with you on one of the two points that I raised, and not the on that is most important in my opinion which isn't directly related to the military as I said before.

Heaven help us, this guy still thinks this thread is all about him and his opinions.

Message to Mark:

NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOUR OPINIONS.

You have so fully drained the well of good will around here, by a sharp tongue backed (upon examination) by ignorance, abbreviation and monomania, rather than knowledge and wisdom, that nobody gives a rip what you think. Even folks who share sympathies with you on certain matters of regular controversy, have now had done with you. It's bizarre and sad what you're doing.

Of course, what earned the petty heckling directed at Jeff Culbreath was, as usual, a concise comment of wisdom and pathos: "I will add that the loss of an honorable, moral, Christian-friendly military is an abject tragedy." Now I may prefer a future tense rendering of the being verb at the end of that sentence, and I may still hope for a future subjunctive; but I fully share Jeff's sense of mourning and horror.

Historically, America is reverting to the mean. The American soldier, sailor, marine, airman has distinguished himself, against the backdrop of what history records about the general conduct of fighting men. He can hold his head high. Above all, he can hold his head high about his tradition of honor in triumph: of magnanimity to the conquered. Sherman burned Atlanta's property, not the bodies of her violated women and slaughtered children. No Katyn Massacre attended the suppression of America's enemies in Europe. We only embraced wholesale slaughter of civilians late in the last most awful technological war; and since then our remembrance of that slaughter has been attended with trepidation, shame, and regret.

The distraction and harassment of a military tradition by zero-sum sexual politics will surely undermine the magnanimity I speak of. As our sexual mores return to a state of brutishness, so too our guard against brutish violence to the innocent or defenseless will relax. Our soldiers will become much closer to the general run of brutishness, which every student of history soon observes, in the great appalling drama of mankind's wars.

A final discouraging note: It is not at all clear that brutish sexuality is incompatible with very considerable military valor. One need only consult the most studied war in history, on the Peloponnese in ancient Greece, to learn that men degraded in their sexual mores may well prove formidable indeed on the field of battle.

Thus again we perceive the wisdom of Lydia's warnings here, to those who raise and assist-to-raise young men of the Cross of Christ.

I'm actually extremely positive to and sympathetic to the desire of young men to be warriors and to envisage themselves in military situations. I recognize that as a healthy aspect of boyhood and young manhood. Like Jeff Culbreath, I think it is a sad thing that today's U.S. military bears so little resemblance to what those healthy urges point towards. My statement that young men should not be encouraged to enter today's military is no more an attack on young men's healthy urges than it would be an attack on young women's healthy desires for marriage and motherhood to advise them not to work out those desires by marrying a Muslim from Saudi Arabia who already has three wives. Some life choices are wise outworkings of natural, healthy, gender-based dreams and desires, and some are unwise.

However, I'm strongly inclined to agree with Jeff Culbreath's wise advice that answering Mark is a waste of time.

Tony, Paul, and Lydia - bravo to all that you have said. As it happens, one of my sons (age 14) is a natural candidate for a military career, and truth be told, I have not ruled out directing him towards the U.S. Marines, to which he is already drawn. At present my position is that of "wait and see - and hope". If that option must be ruled out eventually, it will be a great loss indeed.

Well, the Marine Corp is probably least affected of all the services. It still retains a strong core orientation of being the go-to guys when the chips are down, the scenario is dirty and nasty, and you just have to bull your way through no matter what. That explicit orientation keeps them partially inoculated against some of the silliness, at least for a time. The writing is on the wall, though, for those who have eyes to see. If the trend isn't reversed, even the Corp will be damaged by the political nonsense.

"...the scenario is dirty and nasty, and you just have to bull your way through no matter what."

Well, if popular TV and movies are a good litmus test, it seems more and more people would be mightily offended if you dared to imply that women might not thrive as robustly as men under such circumstances.

ME, I have been seeing that - we have a plethora of movies and TV series with female "secret agent" types who fight and kill just like the guys, produced in the last few years. I think Tomb Raider started the genre. I have to admit that the observance of a woman taking on such roles does not uniformly offend my sensibilities, not on screen anyway. But the notion that this would be anything other than the most unusual, 1 in 10,000,000 women, is unrealistic. And people who don't think so don't seem to be in touch with reality, like the reality of the number of women who go into soft professions when they feel like they have truly free choice where to put their effort.

Jeff, I would just say that, among other things, I expect the homosexualization of the military to affect the Marines as well, and profoundly. I don't see how it could fail to do so, given the fact that now homosexuals may serve openly. It seems inevitable that authority will be used to stifle dissent on such issues, and there are all manner of very serious physical, privacy, etc., issues there as well. Just today I saw that a report came out indicating a horrifying number of male-on-male sexual assault in the military. I haven't seen a breakdown by the branch of the armed services. It's also going to be quite difficult to get a clear idea of how bad this sort of thing has become in some particular branch "from the outside," and once you're in, you're in.

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