Saturday, September 02, 2006

Corrupt Bastards Club

The FBI is getting ready to round up a gang of crooked politicians in Alaska. The crooks, no doubt wishing to be helpful and obliging, have provided clear labels.

While the FBI won't say what the investigation is about … they are seeking evidence of all kinds, even hats or other garments mockingly labeled "Corrupt Bastards Club," "Corrupt Bastards Caucus," or just "CBC."

Friday, September 01, 2006

Hairdressers, Don't Rat Out Your Clients to the Divorce Lawyers!

According to a story in the London Telegraph today, a law firm in Wiltshire is offering hairdressers a bounty of about $130 to refer any of the salon's clients who might want a divorce. This is so wrong that even other lawyers have protested.

Smartmarriage and other pro-marriage groups have long suggested that beauty salons display and distribute information from marriage counseling and marriage saving groups.

This is the sort of thing that gives lawyers a bad name.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

No Muslim Susannah Wesley

Sometimes when I read of Christian Puritan regimes of the past, they sound uncomfortably similar in some respects to Muslim Puritan regimes of today. Zealous restoration movements are, by their nature, intolerant of the old corruption that they are trying to clear away. Some of the excesses of Cromwell's Commonwealth, and Puritan Boston, were so wrong that even the most gung-ho Christian today must contemplate them with shame. I am glad that we don't massacre Irish villages or hang Quakers on the Common anymore.

The succeeding wave of Christian revitalization, with the Wesleys at its heart, was a much more humane and thoroughly honorable improvement. The Christian movement after the Puritan revival was better because women were at the honored center of it. And no woman deserves more credit for the pious remoralization of English-speaking society than Susannah Wesley. The mother of John and Charles Wesley, and 17 other children, schooled them in zeal and service. The fruit of her piety changed the world, and the Pentecostal heirs of the Wesleyan movement are still setting the world on fire for God.

In stark contrast, women are ruthlessly suppressed even by the "moderate" Puritans like the Saudi regime. Al Qaeda and the extreme Islamists are so brutal in their condemnation of women that you wonder if they had mothers.

Someday, perhaps a century from now, there will be another wave of Islamic revival. They will likely look back on the Taliban and their ilk with shame. But it is hard to see how a new Islamist movement, built on the smoking ruins of this one, could build an honored place for women teachers and spiritual leaders.

There will be no Susannah Wesley of Islamic Puritanism.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Polygamy's Young Face

Last week a dozen teenagers from polygamous families rallied in Utah to talk about how great polygamy is. "I love all my moms" read one of the signs they carried. They called their lives blessed, and asked for freedom to practice their religion.

This week the FBI caught Warren Jeffs, head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Jeffs had been on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list for the felony sex crime of arranging marriages of young teenage girls to middle-aged men. (In a wonderful touch, Jeffs was caught in a routine traffic stop driving a red Cadillac Escalade in Las Vegas with three wigs and $54,000 in cash, which I guess was an attempt to be inconspicuous.)

The first group of teenagers did not identify which polygamous group they were part of, or even whether they were religious, though they appeared to be. And the Fundamentalist LDS, which broke from the main Mormon Church years ago, seems to be a pretty scary cult, even by polygamist standards. Still, I think it likely that some of the 13-year-old girls married to Jeffs and the other patriarchs would probably go to a rally in Salt Lake City and talk about how wonderful their lives were, too.

In every oppressive social structure, some individuals will tell you they are happy.

I still think polygamy is an oppressive social structure. I expect that within the decade we will all be expected to take a position on polygamy, just as we are all expected to take a position on the same-sex marriage now.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Picking the Setting for Mate Selection

My parents met at a freshmen mixer dance at Swarthmore.

Mrs. Gruntled and I met during my freshman year at Swarthmore.

Today the eldest Gruntled child enrolls at Swarthmore.

I will keep you posted on whether history repeats itself. No pressure or anything …

Monday, August 28, 2006

Three Milestones

Today, as I return to the blog from vacation (for which I thank you all), I mark three milestones.

First, we begin classes this morning. This is a rich and wonderful thing.

Second, immediately after class, I take my eldest child to college for the first time. This is also a rich and wonderful thing, though it comes with some emotional trauma.

Third, today is the one-year anniversary of the start of this blog. I would welcome your assessments.