Overheard (v. 10)

Overheard — By on December 1, 2006 at 1:35 am

This idea that Christians are just as likely to divorce as secular folks is not correct if we factor church attendance into our thinking. Churchgoing evangelical Protestants, churchgoing Catholics, and churchgoing mainline Protestants are all significantly less likely to divorce.

Brad Wilcox, a sociologist, clarifying a much believed myth about Christians and divorce.

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Facing the Giants from any serious perspective is a fantasy film. Its message is very dangerous for Christians, and scandalous for pagans. Adult Evangelical Christians watching Facing the Giants is like sex addicts watching the Spice Channel.

Barbara Nicolosi, a Catholic blogger and scriptwriter, in a review of the film Facing the Giants. [HT: Jollyblogger]

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If you still, frequently, have to explain to people the difference between emergENT and emergeING, perhaps you need to pick a new moniker. I still don’t know what the difference is. And I’ve never quite figured out what they are “emerging” from. And do you ever quit emerging? Lots of things emerge, but they eventually stop emerging, right (once fully emerged, I mean)? Will the movement change its name to “Emerged” when it’s done? And is this the first movement to have a participle for a name?

Bill from The Thinklings, explaining his difficulty with “emergispeak.”

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Women have an eight-lane superhighway for processing emotion, while men have a small country road…I know it is not politically correct to say this but I’ve been torn for years between my politics and what science is telling us. I believe women actually perceive the world differently from men.

Dr. Luan Brizendine, a female psychiatrist who claims that inherent differences between the male and female brain explain why women are naturally more talkative than men.

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“He’s not a typical politician. He really has deep convictions.”

Senator Chuck Schumer, apologizing for his boorish new colleague Senator-elect Jim Webb. [HT: OTB]

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Washington has a way of quickly acculturating people, especially those who are most susceptible to derangement by the derivative dignity of office. But Jim Webb, Democratic senator-elect from Virginia, has become a pompous poseur and an abuser of the English language before actually becoming a senator.

George Will, lambasting Webb for remarks he’s made since the election.

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I’m disgusted with the American people, who allow themselves to be swayed by idiotic comparisons such as the fact that we’ve been in Iraq for as long as we fought World War II. We lost more than 400,000 men in World War II, and fewer than 3,000 in the present war. But you would have those men and women die in vain. You would desert the Iraqi people the same way we deserted the South Vietnamese. You think that any loss of American prestige that would come about as a result of a pullout is a minor detail, as if American prestige is some kind of international keeping up with the Joneses.
American prestige is no small thing. Loss of American prestige as a result of Vietnam, the Iran hostage crisis, Somalia and the bombing of the US Embassy in Lebanon emboldened Osama bin Laden to bomb the World Trade Center. Loss of American prestige gives Kim Jong Il the idea that he can test his nukes with impunity. Loss of American prestige tells the mullahs in Iran that no one and nothing can stop them from acquiring nukes and arming Hezbollah and Hamas.

Rachel from Tinkerty Tonk, who’s disgusted with…well, just about everybody. (Note: Read the whole thing) [HT: Chicago Boyz]

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When it gets to the point where I know I’m going to have sex two hours before I actually have it, I will be too old to have babies.

Sam, a 24-year-old administrative assistant, explaining why he wouldn’t take a male contraceptive pill.



  • http://www.politicalpistachio.blogspot.com Douglas V. Gibbs

    Facing the Giants has a great message, and was good entertainment. Obviously, being a Christian does not necessarily make it possible for us to suddenly when football games, but this film was an allegory about facing the storms of life. Jesus said he’d get us to the other side, but He never said it would be a smooth ride. But without faith, the trip is meaningless.

  • http://solshine7.blogspot.com SolShine7

    Nice post. I try to read your blog daily. I haven’t seen Facing the Giants yet but I still want to.

  • CroakerNorge

    Somebody should tell Sam that he won’t know that he is having sex 2 hours prior even when he is too old to have babies. Give me an amen, guys, you just never know.

  • tom

    Sorry, Douglas, but Facing the Giants is rubbish of the highest order, and its theology is seriously flawed. (Trust God and immediately all of your problems are solved! You’ll get a new pick-em-up truck, you’ll win the state championship, and your wife will suddenly conceive after years of trying! Can you spell Prosperity Gospel?)
    Would you tolerate poorly cooked food from a “Christian” restaurant, even if it was made with great sincerity? Of course not. So why do we accept such dreck from Christian “artists”? The same holds true for so-called Contemporary Christian Music. For the most part, it’s complete crap. Remember, folks, there are objective standards to judge art. Beauty is not in the eye of the beholder.
    We, of all people, should be making the greatest movies, the greatest music. Sadly, with a few exceptions, we make the crappiest.

  • http://ceruleansanctum.com DLE

    I don’t know about Wilcox’s divorce assertion. It sounds like spin to me.
    It’s been a few years, but when I was at Wheaton College in the early 1990s, the scandal that rocked the college was a sociological study showing 60% of grad students at Wheaton saw their marriages end in divorce–higher than the national average.
    The study also noted close to 100% consistent church attendance among those same grad students.
    Perhaps it’s *smart* Christians then who can’t hold their marriages together?
    Lies, damned lies, and statistics, right?

  • http://www.bradtalk.blogspot.com Brad

    How dare we admit that good things may happen if we really believe God, and then act on that belief!
    God is capricious! He wants us to SUFFER! We never know what He is going to do!
    That sounds much more like Islam and other religions that what the Bible describes. While God is far from a big slot machine, He does promise (over and over) that those who seek him will be blessed. Just because some have taken it to the extreme doesn’t negate the truth any more than someone living in sin because he has grace eliminates the powerful truth of the freedom God provides in that area too!
    Too much knee-jerk opposition to a “good God” on this blog….
    Brad

  • Larry (not Lord)

    Facing the Giants is no more a “prosperity gospel” story than is the book of Job. Only when the coach surrenders himself to God’s will, the bad along with the good, is everything restored to him. I don’t know why this film provokes such vitriol. Admittedly, the reason the 1976 “Rocky” won the oscar was because it was subtle–Rocky loses the fight but wins the internal battle. But “Rocky III” (the really formulaic one with Mr. T.) is on some cable channel almost every Saturday of the year–because Americans just love a fantasy sports story where the hopeless underdog comes out on top. (See also Rudy, Bad News Bears, Mighty Ducks, Karate Kid, Major League…) But if the cause of the success is the God of the universe rather than “the eye of the tiger,” some folks get their boxers in a bunch.

  • Tim L

    Hey guys, A little bit of a clue. Facing the Giants is a MOVIE!
    The movie is only showing what CAN happen if you put your trust in God. It is a funny and enjoyable movie. Is the movie unrealistic in its likeliness to happen in the way that the movie portrays? Yes, but thats because its a MOVIE! Thats what MOVIES do!
    Admittingly, I was a little uncomfortable with how perfectly everything turned out in the movie. But then I reminded myself that it is a MOVIE! And I just accepted that this is how life would FEEL if I did just hand my life over to God. And isn’t that what is important to realize? Isn’t that the point of the movie?

  • tom

    Americans just love a fantasy sports story where the hopeless underdog comes out on top.
    Yeah, and they like hot dogs and tater tots, too, and in small doses they’re okay. But if we tell people they’re fine food and the only diet they should consume, something’s wrong.
    Worse, the world thinks the only thing Christians are capable of creating is the artistic equivalent of hot dogs and tater tots, and we wonder why they don’t take us seriously.
    Nothing is ever “just a movie” unless you’re self-consciously being silly and facetious in how you choose to make it (the difference between a lot of Ahhnold fare vs. Stallone’s worst work, by the way). Christians are saying “Facing the Giants” is a great movie, which is truly sad.
    It’s like taking a Thomas Kinkade piece of dreck and offering it in place of an el Greco or a Bach, two devout Christians who created great, beautiful art.

  • http://scienceblogs.com/mixingmemory Chris

    Joe, for you:
    http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/003841.html
    On the Luan Brizendine article.

  • giggling

    tom:
    “We, of all people, should be making the greatest movies, the greatest music.”
    Yeah, and we should also be the greatest fathers, the most considerate husbands, the smartest investors, the wisest friends, etc.
    So why aren’t you any of these things, tom?
    While I agree with your basic point, my point is your comments reflect more self-righteousness than grace, less humility than self-assurance, and less love than disgust regarding a topic that is not of first importance.
    But I might be wrong, it’s just something to think about =)

  • http://triticale.mu.nu triticale

    Emerging is like ordinary merging, but it is done online…

  • tom

    Giggling
    But no one is defending poor fathering skills or unwise investing as a Christian ideal. We honor those things, even if in the breach.
    But people are defending “Facing the Giants” as a “good” Christian movie. I’ve seen people rave over it. Again, I equate that as defending hot dogs and tater tots as “good” food that everyone should consume all the time.
    And that’s simply wrong–and sad.

  • http://politicalpistachio.blogspot.com Douglas V. Gibbs

    Wow, Tom, settle. I said that Facing the Giants was a good movie, and I thought it was an inspiring story. Okay, the acting wasn’t top notch, but who cares? In the sense of the storyline, obviously, that’s not how life normally works, and becoming a Christian is not about life enhancement, but about entering the eternal Kingdom of God. Becoming a Christian opens the believer up to many storms, but it is those very storms that make us stronger. Nonetheless, in relation to the movie, with God all things are possible, so why wouldn’t what happened be possible? God often provides in unexpected ways, and sometimes as amazing as what happened in the movie. I am a product of such miraculous happenings when against the wall – nearly dead as well. Maybe sometime I will tell you my testimony. The movie was entertaining, and was one possible example of what God can do – but obviously prayer like that doesn’t necessarily turn on some magical miracle making situation. By the way, the Arkansas Razorbacks saw Facing the Giants the day before they faced number 2 Auburn and they won the game in the biggest upset up to that point of the season, and they credited a lot of their success on the inspiration of the movie.

  • http://nakedpastor.com nakedpastor

    i suspect that a couple-that-goes-to-church-together-stays-together angle is spin too. i just look around and what i see throws that into serious question

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    I don’t know about Wilcox’s divorce assertion. It sounds like spin to me.
    Sounds like it is very close to the border of the No True Scotsman fallacy. Why not just say real Christians don’t get divorced and presto! The divorce rate among Christians is 0%! What an amazingly successful religion.
    Larry
    Facing the Giants is no more a “prosperity gospel” story than is the book of Job. Only when the coach surrenders himself to God’s will, the bad along with the good, is everything restored to him.
    Job, though, had always been loyal to God. If you recall, Job ended up going through the wringer *because* he was so loyal to God that he ended up becomming the guinnie pig in Satan’s ‘experiment’ to test if he was so good only because God had given him such good fortune.
    It sounds like this movie stands Job on its head. It’s message is your life will be crappy from a materialistic perspective unless you surrender to God and then the slot machine will start pouring out the coins.
    This seems to be a rather debased legacy of the Puritan idea that earthly success could be a sign of being among the choosen by God. Three hundred years ago that motivated many to work hard and save their money. Today it’s become believe in God and you’ll get lots of $$$.
    Tim L
    The movie is only showing what CAN happen if you put your trust in God.
    YOu mean like those commercials for the lottery are only showing what COULD happen if you buy a ticket?

  • http://wondersforoyarsa.blogspot.com Wonders for Oyarsa

    I loathe the prosperity gospel as much as the next guy, and I haven’t seen the movie, but my instincts tell me that this criticism is a bit over-the-top.
    I mean, it is true that God delights to bless his children with gifts both in this age and the age to come. It is also true that he expects them to conform to the image of his crucified son, and that they will find life only by dying. Any orthodox theology needs to take both of these truths and run with it.
    I have no problem with a sappy Christian feel-good movie about a man finding God and having his life put back together. This is indeed the experience of many a convert, and God loves fresh acts of new creation. It’s a delight to see. But as we grow, we should also strive to follow in the blood stained footprints of our Lord. And, like Job, we will find that wounds precede the real glory.

  • ucfengr

    It’s been a few years, but when I was at Wheaton College in the early 1990s, the scandal that rocked the college was a sociological study showing 60% of grad students at Wheaton saw their marriages end in divorce–higher than the national average.
    If you want to people to consider a study authoritative, you probably need to cite it better than this. It’s pretty hard to evaluate a study that can be best described as “something you remember from over a decade ago that just happens to support your position”.

  • ucfengr

    Sounds like it is very close to the border of the No True Scotsman fallacy. Why not just say real Christians don’t get divorced and presto! The divorce rate among Christians is 0%! What an amazingly successful religion.
    Boonton–It’s really not that close to the No True Scotsman fallacy at all. Adjusting for regular church attendance is probably a pretty good control any study ostensibly evaluating Christian behavior. If you were to read a study purporting to ascribe some behavior to fisherman, but found in the study that only a small percentage of the subjects had ever touched a fishing rod or net or even been within 50 miles of a body of water bigger than a bathtub, you would probably be skeptical of the study, and rightly so. By the same token it would be hard to take seriously a study of self-described Christians who hadn’t been to a church since their baptism or wedding.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    True there is value in seeing if different types of Christians have different divorce rates. Push that too far, though, and you will start to loose valuable information. If, for example, you applied a strict definition that meant that only 3% of the US population was truely Christian then you’re failing to say anything about divorce rates among anything but a trivial nich of the population.
    Fishing is an activity that can be objectively observed and is relatively straightforward. One’s religion, though, is about one’s internal beliefs that cannot be so easily measured. Church attendance may be used as a proxy but as you know this has weaknesses of its own. Are you measuring the impact of Christian belief on people or simply the impact of a strong knit social group? Do Wiccians whose attendance at weekly meetings is just as strong have a higher or lower divorce rate? How do we know it’s the religion that’s decreasing the rate or just having a stable social group? Perhaps people who are members of a stable social group like stability more than average hence they would divorce less since divorce is a pretty destabalizing event.

  • http://wondersforoyarsa.blogspot.com Wonders for Oyarsa

    One’s religion, though, is about one’s internal beliefs that cannot be so easily measured.
    Here is where you go wrong, Boonton. Religion, particularly Christianity and Judaism, is about far more than one’s internal beliefs. For Christians, being a part of this “stable social group” we call the Church is absolutely foundational to both belief and praxis. To try to act as if someone’s Christian faith is separable from his part in Christian community is to redefine Christian faith in such a way that should be unrecognizable to any Christian.

  • ucfengr

    True there is value in seeing if different types of Christians have different divorce rates. Push that too far, though, and you will start to loose valuable information. If, for example, you applied a strict definition that meant that only 3% of the US population was truely Christian then you’re failing to say anything about divorce rates among anything but a trivial nich of the population.
    But I don’t think regular church attendance (2 or more times a month) would fall into that category.
    Do Wiccans whose attendance at weekly meetings is just as strong have a higher or lower divorce rate? How do we know it’s the religion that’s decreasing the rate or just having a stable social group?
    Do Wiccans have a strong religious doctrine against divorce, as Christians do? If they don’t and their divorce rates roughly mirror that of similarly observant Christians you may be able to make the case that it is more the the stable social group and less the religion. Anecdotally, I think there are some “stable social groups” that have higher than normal divorce rates, law enforcement officers for example.

  • John

    A lot of people are not going to like this post, but here goes…
    Divorce is one of the results of sin. Full stop. When two people who stand up in front of God Himself and other so-called Christians and agree with God to “let no man undo what God has done”, they are entering into a holy contract not only with each other, but with God. A large part of why people divorce is because they don’t take Christianity seriously.
    A man is to love his wife as Christ loved the Church, and a woman is to submit herself to her husband in love and respect (not submission). If every married person went out of their way to truly see Jesus in their spouse, there would be little to no divorce. Unfortunately, most marriages are not built on Christianity despite the adherents themeselves calling themselves Christian. People are largely self-serving, selfish, and focused more on fun and sex that on what builds a lasting, God-pleasing relationship.
    I cannot tell you the number of men I know who one week attend small groups, Promise Keepers, you name it, and then the following week or even the next day, sit in front of the TV on a Sunday all day watching football while their wives and/or kids wish they would spend time with them. Same goes for the women. They shop ’till they drop with their girlfriends all day Saturday or Sunday and leave their families or husbands at home.
    Everyone needs space, but when that space comes at the expense of the realtionship, that is when the marriage is no longer Christ-centered and cross-focused.
    Everyone sins. We all need Jesus Christ to be there for us, but when people let the desires of this world come between them and their spouse, there is trouble.
    The key is to love one’s spouse as Christ loves the Church. And since we are the Church, the body of believers, we have zero excuse.
    If everyone focused on pleasing their spouse before themselves, the world would be a better place.