"Where's the kaboom? There was supposed to be an earth-shattering kaboom?" –Marvin Martian

Does Tolkien count? I would also hope Flannery O’Connor gets read at some point by Protestants.

And yes, if you’re Protestant and unless you have direct contacts with Orthodox believers or writers in the US/Canada, it’s safe to assume you are unaware there’s a difference. Even after being told the differences, I’m assuming a few might not see much of a distinction.

Catholics that Protestants read

don’t all Reformed types already read Chesterton? :)

Jesse, my hunch is that most Protestants don’t think about the Orthodox at all by and large and those that do consider them distinct from Catholicism since the schism … or maybe I’m just speaking for myself.

Fr. Alexander Schmemann, especially For the Life of the World.

(“Catholic” includes “Orthodox”, right?)

Question: Other than Merton, who is a Catholic writer every protestant or evangelical should read?

In the late 1990′s / early 2000′s our Men’s group was studying the Seven Promises of a Promise Keeper book. During the discussion about sexual purity/lust, all the men in the group admitted to an ongoing struggle against lust. Even our oldest class member, in his late 70′s admitted to still struggling with lustful thoughts. Lust continues to affect even Christian men.


Chris, I’m having a really hard time with the picture you paint of a super fine line between modesty and shame. I simply cannot find a way to convince myself that this is a difficult balance to walk. And frankly you seem to be describing an anti-fundie/RHE blogosphere created tempest when in fact reality is as simple as sipping tea.

First off, I imagine it is true that there are some groups where female modesty and chastity is so over-taught, that a few females feel shame about their bodies. I can grant you that this probably exists in certain fundie groups.

However, what I observe is a much more simple reality.

  • Our culture is sex-saturated.
  • Boys and girls need to hear about the beauty of sex in marriage and dangers and sinfulness of sex outside of marriage.
  • Boys need to be taught to control themselves.
  • Girls need to be taught about the importance of modesty and the reality of how males respond to physical cues from females.
  • College girls need to know that going to parties and drinking heavily is ridiculously unwise. And that your dress choice at such parties is also part of being wise in social gatherings. (this opens up a different, but related, topic…)

My daughter and wife have not found this to be difficult. My daughter is careful about modesty and dresses appropriately—albeit sometimes complaining about the limited options. And sometimes telling my wife to make a better choice for herself! And my wife has spent some time helping her understand how males respond to the way she dresses and why that makes her choices even more important.

The other fundie issue you mentioned, alcohol, seems much more filled with shades of grey, as one tries to balance freedom in Christ with potentially frightening side-effects and social ramifications.

Let’s just all hope that none of our daughters end up on a wrecking ball.

Wait, wait. Who said that we should be shaming women for their shape? We should be shaming them for their dress, which is something entirely under their control.

My last thoughts on this one:

(1) If as JesseB says, shame in this area is truly a dichotomy, then shouldn’t the shame be on the men for their lust, rather than on the women for being the shape that God made them?

(2) I can’t help but think that this discussion is colored by the fact that we’re all a bunch of middle-aged men who, if statistics bear out, have all struggled with visual temptation for much of our lives.


Oh and $650K + $200K housing allowance? And “nobody needs to know” it? Lord have mercy.

Roy Baumeister once wrote that shame was one of the under-appreciated emotions in the 20th century

There’s such a thing as a lot of bad kinds of shame but in his book on violence and aggression Baumeister wrote that shame had probably the most important pre-emptive role in curbing human violence and aggression. Take away fear and shame and you may think you’re doing humanity a favor but you’re taking away the biggest emotional/social disincentives to harm people.

And didn’t even Paul write in one of the epistles not just “I don’t say this to shame you” but also “I say this to your shame”? We’ll never be able to avoid people feeling guilty and we’ll keep expecting that some people should feel guilty that won’t feel guilty.

It sounds like there’s at least some consensus here that whatever that golden mean might be nobody’s staking out precepts that would let us come close to finding it.

“Hope and redemption” doesn’t make biology stop being real. Testosterone increases sex drive, which is why teenage boys have had a well-deserved reputation for being horny for as long as humans have been observing teenage boys. You can’t pray the T away.

Here’s what we know works: Segregating the sexes. Don’t put them together when mating behavior isn’t desirable. But that makes women cry because they’re “denied opportunities,” so we can’t have that, unless it’s a left-wing all-female college like Wellesley, and then we’re creating a “safe space” for women.

So we also know, again from centuries of experience, that a bit of modesty goes a long way. We know, from decades of experience that when girls are twerking their spandex-clad butts at boys, the boys don’t learn what they’re supposed to learn in school.

The obvious solution is to re-segregate education, but the obvious is a hate crime now, so we can’t do the obvious. The next most obvious thing is to tell the girls to cover their boobs and wear actual pants, but it turns out that’s a hate crime, too.

So that’s not allowed.

What is allowed is to chide the boy and tell him to stop paying attention to the girl flashing her whale tail at him. He should just learn to not look, “because we as humans are better than that.”

Of course, we all know that’s absolute nonsense, because all of us were pubescent boys once. But by golly, that’s what feels like the moral thing to say, so that’s what we’re going to say, no matter how totally disconnected from reality it may be.

How can we help the guys out without making (some of) the girls feel guilty?

Why is guilt undesirable? Back in the bad old days when men felt they ought not to engage in sexual contact with women they weren’t married to, and women felt they ought not flaunt their assets at the men they lusted after, the divorce rate was lower, and there were fewer illegitimate children.

Maybe the previous millennia of human civilization knew something about the sexes that we’ve forgotten because we’ve become enchanted with the silly idea of equality.