William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

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Stream: Why Mainline Churches Are Emptying

Stream: Why Mainline Churches Are Emptying.

The Episcopal Church in America reached peak membership in 1959, with about 3.5 million baptized members, rising from just over one million in a decade. Since the population of the USA also rose during this period, another way to put it is to say the Episcopal Church had in 1959 about 19.4 members per every 1,000 citizens, rising from 17 per 1,000 in 1949. Total church membership has since fallen, with membership about 1.8 million in 2015, or 5.5 per 1,000, and dropping none too slowly.

Similar rapid decreases are seen among the Presbyterian (PCUSA), United Methodist, and Lutheran (ELCA) churches.  Episcopalians, Presbyterians (USA), Lutherans (ELCA) and United Methodists represent historical or mainline Protestant Churches in the USA,

The much more evangelical Southern Baptist Convention, because of its age, is similarly situated. Numbers are better in the large Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) than in the Mainline. But membership in SBC congregations has not been keeping track with population increases.

In contrast, evangelical denominations, such as for example the Assemblies of God, while still individually smaller than mainline Protestant congregations, have seen significant growth. The Assemblies of God had only about 300 thousand members in 1950 (about 2.1 per 1,000), swelling ten times to 3.1 million last year (9.8 per 1,000).

Broadly speaking, and using the colloquial understanding of the terms, conservative Protestant churches have had increases this past half century, and liberal churches have had decreases. It is, of course, of interest to shore up these loose expressions and discover just what “conservative” and “liberal” mean in this context.

Enter the paper “Theology Matters: Comparing the Traits of Growing and Declining Mainline Protestant Church Attendees and Clergy” by David Millard Haskell, Kevin N. Flatt, and Stephanie Burgoyne in the journal Review of Religious Research. The trio asked questions of the clergy and congregations of 22 Protestant churches drawn from the Anglican Church of Canada (5), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (4), the Presbyterian Church in Canada (8), and the United Church of Canada (4) all centered in southern Ontario. Of these, 13 had declining populations from 2003 to 2013 and 9 had increasing populations.

Now this isn’t an especially large or necessarily representative sample of churches outside Canada; however, as the survey questions will show, there is still much that can be learned.

Several questions were asked of the congregants, and many answers showed wide disagreement between the Growing and Declining churches.

For instance, 79% of Growing congregants agreed strongly with the statement “Through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, God provided a way for the forgiveness of my sins,” whereas only 57% of Declining congregants thought the same. About 19% of Growing congregants strongly agreed that “the beliefs of the Christian faith need to change over time to stay relevant,” whereas 31% of Declining congregants thought so.

Three questions in particular were revealing in the conservative-liberal gap. Only 7% of Growing congregants strongly agreed that “the Bible is the product of human thinking about God, so some of its teachings are wrong or misguided,” whereas over 15% of Declining congregants strongly agreed.

About 13% of Growing congregants strongly agreed that “all major religions are equally good and true,” but more than twice as many Declining congregants, or 25%, thought so. On the fundamental basis of the Christian religion, 66% of Growing congregants strongly agreed that “Jesus rose from the dead with a real flesh and blood body, leaving behind an empty tomb,” but only 37% of Declining congregants did.

[The most surprising questions are of the clergy, which you can read at Stream.]

Hurry and click here before all the pews empty out.

Update Ken below makes a good point about pseudo-quantification of survey questions, a practice I continually deride. I still do. As I said, these particular results should be taken with a grain of salt. But about the answers to the questions, well, these have correct values. It is false, and false utterly in Christian theology, to say “the Bible is the product of human thinking about God, so some of its teachings are wrong or misguided”. Any disagreement to this statement, however it couched, using numbers or not, is of interest (the exact numbers are not of much or any interest). How can a congregant or clergyman still call himself a Christian and reject dogma? Incidentally, the editor added the last line of the story.

Alexander Dugin & The Pivot Of History: Part II — Guest Post by Ianto Watt

Read Part I.

Now we are at the heart of the problem I have detected in trying to discern the real role Dugin (and by implication, Mackinder) plays in relation to their perceived position of influence on Vlad Putin. Something’s fishy here. Something stinks. And being a Barbarian, things have to add up, or else I get suspicious. And when I get suspicious, I start counting. And this doesn’t add up. Unless we look at all of this from a different angle. The Golitsyn angle.

So here it is. Golitsyn, a KGB Major, defected in 1961, and told a fantastic story to his CIA handlers. Here was the story, in a nutshell: that the entire Communist world had bought into an incredible strategy of deception drawn up by Golitsyn and his fellow KGB operatives in the late 1950’s. This strategy, drawn directly from Odysseus, the Master Liar, was adopted by the worldwide Communist movement at the All Party Congress of 1959. This extraordinary session was held for the purpose of re-uniting the worldwide movement following the hijacking of the Commie-cause by Stalin. Uncle Joe had, according to his many Communistic critics, turned aside from espousing True Communism in order to establish his own Cult of Personality. That’s why Trotsky (and Rakovsky) claimed he was a Bonapartist. Which got both of them killed of course.

Anyway, the other national Communist parties, particularly throughout Europe, east to west, had grown disenchanted with Stalinism throughout the period from around 1935 to Stalin’s death in 1953. Stalin’s brand of Communism had placed the fortunes of national Russia (and Stalin, in particular) ahead of the well being of the Internationale movement.

The man who would try to heal this wound to the Communist body politic was Nikolai Khrushchev. Little Nicky. The most brilliant Russian of all time, in my estimation. He was the Sinon of his age. He was willing to sacrifice his own public persona for the good of the unity of the Party. He willingly gave up power in the first peaceful transition of power in the Communist world. What greater proof need we that he, Little Nicky, was a true Internationalist to the core, right Komrade? All aboard, Komrades, the train is ready to depart! But all these non-Russian Commie-idiots forgot something important—Khrushchev was a Slav. A Ukrainian-Russian Slav. Which means he was already infected with a greater, stronger disease than Communistic Idealism. He was a Russian, first, last and always.

If we are to believe in the finality of Dugin’s geopolitical thesis, we must therefore believe that Nicky would eventually double-cross all those idiot European Commies and their Leftist Front brethren. But we don’t have to fall for this modern Mackinder-Dugin thesis to reach this conclusion. All we have to do is to look at every Russian writer and philosopher from the time of Gogol onward to know this is the truth of the chauvinistic Orthodox Russian heart. Every one of them (except Chaadayev, Solovyev, Berdyaev and Solzhenitsyn) is a dyed-in-the-wool believer in the divine destiny of Orthodox-Russian Messianism. And those four exceptions still believe in the Russian messianic part. They just discount the Orthodox part. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Here was the brilliant KGB-copyrighted plan Little Nicky sold to the other parties, world-wide, that would seal the fate of the West. And the fate of the Euro-Commie dupes. And everyone else, including the Penguins. It was a simple plan. It was based on Quintus of Smyrna’s incredible tome, The War at Troy and Sun-Tzu’s seminal work, The Art of War. The heart of this plan was this: where we are weak, we will appear to be strong. And where we are strong, we will appear to be weak. To which they added a final technique: we will be as the Cheshire Cat. We will appear to disappear. Just like the Western Greeks, as they sailed from still-standing Troy.

What in the hell does all of this mean? It’s simple, my friend. Deception. The New Testament of the Pagan World. It works, you know. Just ask Madison Avenue. People love to be fooled. They think the bill will never come. Just think of the Peace Dividend, and how we can spend it!

So here is what Golitsyn predicted, and what the CIA geniuses decided to ignore. Anatoly Golitsyn told the story of how the Communist behemoth would one day appear to become fractured, divided and weak. Here was the part about ‘where we are strong, we shall appear weak’. Think of the purported ‘Sino-Soviet Split‘. Bogus, my friend. Totally bogus. Have you noticed who Vlad’s best friend is these days? Same thing with Yugoslavia. And Roumania. And Albania. Each and every one of these supposed disputes about the true path Socialism should follow was pure charade. All for the purpose of making the West think that there was internal division (and thus, weakness) within the world-wide Commie movement. All the West had to do, according to the idiots in charge of the West, was to entice these Commie-Mavericks further away from the orbit of Moscovian influence, right? Hey, let’s give Yugoslavia some trade credits, right? Let’s prop up these dissident regimes with western money and then watch International Communism dissolve into Nationalistic bickering. Sounds great, right? So much cheaper than war, eh?

What was the other side of this coin? The part about ‘where we are weak, we shall appear to be strong’? Well, where were the Russians weak? How about the economy? How many years did we in the West suffer under the CIA delusions that the Soviet economy was three times larger than it actually was? And that the ‘citizens’ of Communist lands were actually so much better off in so many ways than the people of the West? Think of health care. Think of education. Think of welfare. Think HEW. Think HUD. Think DOE. In the Soviet world, these things were guaranteed rights, and they were delivered, on time. Or so the story went, the story sung by the idiot Western press. Which, by the way, was riddled with socialist moles and their useful-idiot cousins, the progressive liberals. All of whom still exist today, by the way, if you haven’t noticed. Ever watch the evening news? Isn’t this a grand plan, Komrade? We can get these idiots in the West to sing our song, and we don’t even have to pay most of them.

Anyway, this brilliant plan was to have a climax. Let’s call it Glasnost (Act I) and Perestroika (Act II). Let’s appear to disappear, Komrades. Here’s Act III, The Cheshire Cat! And let’s watch these fools take the bait. Watch them gloat at the fall of the Berlin Wall. Watch them dance with joy at the withdrawal of the Soviet legions from East Europe. Watch them giggle as the Politburo falls apart, and Yeltsin the Drunk is replaced by Gorbachev the Tool! Can it get any better than this? Oh yes, my friend, it does. From the Russian point of view.

What is this viewpoint, Komrade? Well, as the West watched this orchestrated collapse, the East watched the perfectly predictable Western response. Why was it predictable? Because it was simple human nature. The West was tired. Tired of being strong and disciplined. Tired of being vigilant. Tired of paying for unrequited European security. But it was more than that. This tiredness was felt only by the older ones of the West. And that was natural. They had done their duty. And by rights, their sons should have taken up the burden. But their Baby-Boomer sons were wimps. Why? Because they were pampered. Pampered by their elders, who had suffered two historic horrors (WW I & II), and who had seen the prospects of a third one coming (Korea and Vietnam). These elders were tired of this game called ‘Let’s Be Policemen’. Guess who knew they were tired? The geniuses in the East. Know thine enemy. They had our number. And let’s be honest. By Vietnam, we in the West had begun to secretly suspect our leader’s intentions. Or at least their judgment. And we were tired of this game that had no payoff.

So what came next? Simple, my friend, and totally predictable, if you know anything about human nature. The West bought the lie. The lie that said the East had collapsed, without a fight. And that we no longer had to stand, armed and vigilant. Why did we buy this lie? Because we wanted to. Because it was enticing. Because it seemed just. Because it seemed logical. After all, just look at the Fulda Gap: all the Russian tanks were gone, right? Right. Just like all the ships of the Western Greeks were gone from the shores of the Dardanelles. Hallelujah, Troy has won! Yahoo, break out the juice, brothers! It’s Miller Time!!!

And so we sat back and celebrated. And gave our wives the credit card to spend the Peace Dividend on whatever they wanted. Want some new shoes? Nice! Want some lady Senators? Sure! Want more welfare? Why not? More education? You bet! More health care? Amen! Just be sure dinner’s ready soon, honey. And let’s get some of that fancy beer too, OK? Thanks. I love you too, baby. Huh? Ships on the horizon? Ah, don’t worry about it. It’s all good. I’ll be home right after the Victory Games.

Sound familiar? You didn’t know you were Trojan, did you? So where the hell is Aeneas when you need him? Whoa. He’s gone. He left. To found Rome. No, not Imperial Rome. That’s toast. The capital has moved. To Moscow. The Third Rome. So where’s that leave us? High and dry, that’s where. Sitting on a pile of debt. And social spending obligations that can’t be rescinded without provoking the howls of the entitled. Which is about half the populace, and growing. Don’t think the new Faux Emperor Donald can stop this spending train. He may slow it down, but even if he locks up the brakes, the train will slide for at least another mile or two. And the crossing gates are dead ahead. There’s three seconds left. We’re behind by six. It’s fourth down and 99 yards to go. Better buckle up, Komrade. Time for a Hail Mary. You do believe, right?

And so, my friend, this is the grand Russian strategy, vintage 1959: to drive the Atlanticists (the Sea People) out of continental (Land People) Europe by making them think they have won. And now that the wimpy Americans are in hock to the future, and too effeminate to care about what that future looks like, all the Russkies have to do is to overcome the historic antipathy of the Western Slavs (Poles and Lithuanians) and the Teuton/Huns (Germany, Austria and Hungary) to the idea of Russian domination. And to do this, all they have to do is to put a geographic mask over the historic Communistic and Eastern Orthodox past of Russia. Why?

Well, in order to appeal to the supposed ‘common continental comradeship’ of these nations that lie outside Russia’s immediate grasp. Given the emergent Islamic threat to all the members of this Pan-European group (both East and West), what else is needed to drive home this idea of their common interests? If the memory of the Communist and Tsarist ‘past’ has become clouded and begun to fade from the mind of the west because of this newly proposed theory of Dugin’s (and Mackinder), who can blame the befuddled West if they fail to remember the lessons of Troy?

What better disguise can you think of than Dugin and Mackinder’s geopolitical theory to accomplish such a task? Why resort to outright war when you can snooker these rubes for free? And what better plan than to invoke the spirit of Odysseus, wrapped in the sanitized lingo of geopolitics? Thank you, Komrade Dugin. Vladimir the Greatest salutes you. Here is your Order of Lenin medal. You have served the Tsar well. Your new dacha is waiting. It’s in New York. Enjoy!

Stream: When Marriage Can Be Anything, Marriage Can Be Anything

Stream: When Marriage Can Be Anything, Marriage Can Be Anything. It’s a good bet you haven’t heard of objectum-sexuals before. Though you might have seen “self marriage.”

It is only irrational animus, bigotry, and hatred that causes some to deny that human beings and fairground rides cannot marry. Love is love, and sometimes love extends to the soaring tracks, twisting hairpin curves, and thrilling loop-de-loops of roller coasters.

Yes. Two women have married, not each other, which would not be unusual these days, but each has married a roller coaster. Not the same roller coaster, of course; that would be absurd; different roller coasters.

One lady, a Miss Wolfe, 33, church organist, fell in love with the roller coaster in Knoebels Amusement Park, Pennsylvania. According to one report, “Although she faces discrimination from employers, most of her family and friends have been supportive. ‘I’m not hurting anyone and I can’t help it,’ she said. ‘It’s a part of who I am.'”

Don’t scoff. No one chooses to be an objectum-sexual; it is something which is forced upon one. What’s that? What’s an objectum-sexual? As defined by the second wedded lady, Linda, 56, who tied her knot to the backside of a roller coaster, an objectum-sexual is a person who “has romantic feelings for inanimate objects.”

Psychology Today reports many are objectum-sexuals, folks who view their objects of love as “equal” partners. Who isn’t for Equality? Reports are coming in from the across the globe of objectum-sexuals marrying smart phones, steam engines, video game characters, rocks, trees, dolls, electronic devices, radios, pillows, cars, and, yes, the Eiffel Tower.

Animus, bigotry, and hatred not only motivates people to deny the rights of objectum-sexuals, but also to disparage the needs and desires of self-sexuals. Self-sexuals are people who love best themselves, making it natural that the objects of their matrimonial instincts are, well, themselves.

No less conservative an organ than Good Housekeeping reports that “Self-marriage is a small but growing movement, with consultants and self-wedding planners popping up across the world.”

One such person is Brooklynite Erika Anderson who recently married herself. “It wasn’t an easy decision,” she said. “I had cold feet for 35 years. But then I decided it was time to settle down. To get myself a whole damn apartment. To celebrate birthday #36 by wearing an engagement ring and saying: YES TO ME. I even made a registry, because this is America.”

There is even, because this is America, a website, I Married Me, which advises readers to “Choose love.” Love is, after all, love. The site provides the unofficial motto for the self-marriage movement, “To honor myself is to understand and acknowledge that I am worthy”. Anybody can marry themselves, even folks who are already married to others, or to objects.

“It’s not a legal process — you won’t get any tax breaks for marrying yourself. It’s more a ‘rebuke’ of tradition, says Rebecca Traister, author of All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation.”

Rebuke? …

Click here to join the nuptial fun!

Summary Against Modern Thought: The Soul Is Not A Body

This may be proved in three ways. The first...

This may be proved in three ways. The first…

See the first post in this series for an explanation and guide of our tour of Summa Contra Gentiles. All posts are under the category SAMT.

Previous post.

We’re back at it, folks. Be sure to review. This is difficult material. The first Chapter, 64, is brief wrap-up material which can be glossed; the real meat is in 65, which follows also this week.

Chapter 64 That the soul is not a harmony. (alternate translation) We’re still using the alternate translation this week.

1 Along the lines of the foregoing theory is the view of those who say that the soul is a harmony. For these persons thought of the soul not as a harmony of sounds, but of the contraries of which they observed animate bodies to be composed. In the De anima [I, 4] this notion seems to be attributed to Empedocles, although Gregory of Nyssa ascribes it to Dinarchus. And it is disproved in the same way as Galen’s theory, as well as by arguments that apply properly to itself.

2 For every mixed body has harmony and temperament. Nor can harmony move a body or rule it or curb the passions, any more than can temperament. Moreover, harmony is subject to intensification and remission; and so, too, is temperament. All these things show that the soul is not a harmony, even as it is not a temperament…

4 Again, harmony has two senses; for it can be taken to signify the composition itself, or the mode of composition. Now, the soul is not a composition, since each part of the soul would have to consist in the composition of some of the parts of the body; and such an allotting of psychic part to corporeal part is impossible. Nor is the soul a mode of composition; for, since in the various parts of the body there are various modes or proportions of composition, each part of the body would have a distinct soul: since bone, flesh, and sinew are in each case composed according to a different proportion, each would possess a different soul. Now, this is patently false. Therefore, the soul is not a harmony.

Chapter 65 That the soul is not a body. (alternate translation) We’re still using the alternate translation this week.

1 There were also others whose thinking was even wider of the mark, since they asserted that the soul is a body. Although they held divergent and various opinions, it suffices to refute them here collectively.

2 For, since living things are physical realities, they are composed of matter and form. Now, they are composed of a body and a soul, which makes them actually living. Therefore, one of these two must be the form and the other matter. But the body cannot be the form, because the body is not present in another thing as its matter and subject. The soul, then, is the form, and consequently is not a body, since no body is a form.

Notes Short and sweet. Don’t forget to review about matter and form, from the early days of this series. Use the link at the bottom of the site, and choose SAMT as the category.

3 It is, moreover, impossible for two bodies to coincide. But, so long as the body lives, the soul is not apart from it. Therefore, the soul is not a body.

4 Then, too, every body is divisible. Now, whatever is divisible requires something to keep together and unite its parts, so that, if the soul is a body, it will have something else to preserve its integrity, and this yet more will be the soul; for we observe that, when the soul departs, the body disintegrates. And if this integrating principle again be divisible, we must at last either arrive at something indivisible and incorruptible, which will be the soul, or go on to infinity; which is impossible. Therefore, the soul is not a body.

Notes Being a body means being extended, or having extension. The key premise is that every body is divisible. The formula is matter + form = a body. In order for the premise to be true is that all matter in actuality must be divisible, or has extension. This has important implications in physics. Certainly all known bodies are divisible or have extension—even though we may not know how these bodies can be divided.

5 Again. It has been proved in Book I of this work, and in Physics VIII, that every self-mover is composed of two parts: one, the part that moves and is not moved; the other, the part that is moved. Now, the animal is a self-mover, and the mover in it is the soul, and the body is the moved. Therefore, the soul is an unmoved mover. But no body moves without being moved, as was shown in that same Book. Therefore, the soul is not a body.

Notes Souls can still change, however; souls have potentials that have to be actualized by something actual.

6 Furthermore, we have already shown that understanding cannot be the act of a body. But it is the act of a soul. Consequently, at least the intellective soul is not a body.

7 Now the arguments by which some have tried to prove that the soul is a body are easily solved. They argue as follows: that the son is like the father even in accidents of the soul, despite the fact that the begetting of the one by the other involves the parting of body from body; that the soul suffers with the body; that the soul is separate from the body, and separation is between mutually contacting bodies.

8 But against this argumentation it has already been pointed out that the bodily temperament has a certain dispositive causality with respect to the passions of the soul. Moreover, it is only accidentally that the soul suffers with the body; for, since the soul is the form of the body, it is moved accidentally by the body’s being moved. Also, the soul is separate from the body, not as a thing touching from a thing touched, but as form from matter, although, as we have shown, that which is incorporeal does have a certain contact with the body.

Notes Aha! “…that which is incorporeal does have a certain contact with the body.” What a loaded statement! A statement which we will return to more than once. Stay tuned.

9 Indeed, what motivated many to adopt this position was their belief that there is nothing that is not a body, for they were unable to rise above the imagination, which is exclusively concerned with bodies. That is why this view is proposed in the person of the foolish, who say of the soul: “The breath in our nostrils is smoke, and speech a spark to move our heart” (Wis. 2:2).

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