The New Book, “Coming Apart”.

This book by Charles Murry is a much discussed critique of class structure in the U. S.  He gives evidence the lower 30 percent of income earners is growing less interested in church and civic behavior compared to the upper 20 percent. This is about class, not race or ethnicity.

I have not read the book, but he reportedly looked at “honesty, sobriety, family commitment and industriousness.”  Church membership is dropping more rapidly in the lower 30 percent as well.

A commentator today wrote the cause of church decline is the lack of clear moral preaching.  If preachers were delivering sermons of maintenance of moral standards instead of pandering to the wishes of congregations, he wrote, people would return to church and all this would change.

To the extent this deterioration to behavior is actually happening, certainly is it cause for concern.  It could not have anything to do with preachers or the church.  That preachers are skirting around moral condemnation and church membership is dropping is the result of this decline, not the cause of it.

I think most people view the growing divide between rich and poor as something benign, something that is only harmful to those on the lower end.  But what seems to be happening is that a larger proportion of our country’s citizens do not think of themselves as having ownership in it.

It seems inevitable all classes will eventually feel the effect of this. One thing I’ve noticed is in countries with very unequal distributions of income, homes have bars on their windows.

63 Responses

  1. entech

    How to Stem the Tide.
    Today, I listened to a religious right talk show and learned a host’s view about youth leaving the church as well as that of callers. They have their own idea of how to stem the tide of walk-away youth.
    They theorized youth they don’t like to hear themselves called sinners in church. But, the talk show hosts reminded listeners, there is an obligation to call out their sinfulness.

    The New Book, “Coming Apart”.
    A commentator today wrote the cause of church decline is the lack of clear moral preaching. If preachers were delivering sermons of maintenance of moral standards instead of pandering to the wishes of congregations, he wrote, people would return to church and all this would change.

    Tell them they are naughty and sinful and they walk away.

    If you do not: Tell them they are naughty and sinful then they walk away.


    1. Wanna B Sure

      That’s about right.
      But like Paul Harvey said; “The rest of the story”. Everything this article/book aparently embraces is sin, and sin only. The result of what the Law reveals. The second and omited part is the Gospel; the forgiveness of that/those sin/s, and the freedom of knowing that our guilt and obligation to those sins was paid for on the Cross. (Forensic Justification).
      I have said before—-“The Proper Distinction between Law and Gospel.”
      Without the Gospel, I would also disavow the Law and Sin. For in itself, it is repulsive. The two (Law and Gospel) stand together, and are inseperable. This is what is so difficult for non-faith people to comprehend.

      1. Wanna 1:19 I have said before–‘The Proper Distinction between Law and Gospel’. Without the Gospel, I would also disavow the Law and Sin. For in itself, it is replusive. The two (Law and Gospel) stand together, and are inseperable. This is what is so difficult for non-faith people to comprehend.

        I think the problem is not that we don’t understand the relationship you have provided us. The problem, at least as I see it, is that we have no emotional or irrational attachment to this concept of sin and forgiveness by the temporary death and myth of the cross. Once a person has honed in and locked on to this emotional concept, it’s difficult to treat the whole thing in a detached way.

        To quote you again, This is what is so difficult for (faith) people to comprehend.

        1. Wanna B Sure

          Jon; Misquote. I said non-faith. Many people of faith have been where people of non-faith are currently. They would know better than others, because they have been in both places. You claim to understand, but you don’t comprehend. You may understand WHAT it does, but you don’t comprehend THAT it does. “Forensially” does not imply “emotional”. “emotional” is poorly applied. I don’t feel emotional when a headache goes away, but I do feel thankfull.

          1. Wanna 3:34 Your emotional attachment to “Jesus who died on the cross” is so apparent, you cannot dismiss it by clever restatements of definitions. There is nothing complicated about our differing approaches, I feel no sense of presense of a deity, you feel one. Your interpretations of “law” and “gospel” fall out of that feeling.

          2. Wanna B Sure

            Jon; Your interpretation of my beliefs fall short. Again, Forensic Justification is not an emotional response. Sorry that you can’t understand that. The Law and Gospel thingie is not my invention, nor is an interpretation, or a result of “feeling”. That evidently slipped past the top of your head too. You are in the same position as Entech.

          3. Wanna 3:34 “I don’t feel emotional when a headache goes away, but I do feel thankfull.”

            That you “feel thankful” is an insight into your reasoning that needs some self study. That you “feel thankful” means you felt guilty for the sins you committed. These “laws”, those sins, which you treat as universal or great truths from a soverign source, are the first reason someone like myself cannot take you seriously. As entech so skillfully pointed out, they came from events which probably did not happen by people who were not there.

            After you subjectively adopt the “laws” as real, and feel you sinned, you accept the cross event as something you “feel thankful” for. Again, there is no universal or great truth that reveals there was a cross event, or, if there was it was just another ordinary thing that went on then–it’s something you “feel” was important. Good for you that your enjoy these feelings. But, to argue they have importance beyond yourself is, I’m afraid, an exercise in futility.

          4. Wanna B Sure

            Jon; As you so skilfully point out, you are beating the dead horse of a bound will. Your opinion/s of understanding of what/how/means/reason for faith, etc. are equally bound to the free will, that can only reject. Therein lies your self deception, and your own emotional attatchments. You and Entech are alike. You compliment each other . This last couple years has been interesting and fun in the sense that the more you talk, the more you have revealed the fact that “you’all” are just as much, if not more emotionally involved with your ism than anyone else. Your morbid attraction to sin, (which you constantly recycle) reveals an interest which probably even you don’t realize. It could be very well something outside you which constantly brings you back to sin. Yet your bound will resists. No wonder the Gospel has no effect/importance to you. You have no need for it, as you have no sin. YET. Again, I do find it quite interesting that you keep returning to sin, as if to dare it not to exist. You have no free will in any of this, but to reject, and how free is that? Answer–NOT FREE AT ALL.

          5. Wanna 1:16 “Therein lies your self deception, and your own emotional attachements…(entech and I) are are just as much, if not more emotionally involved with your ism than anyone else.”

            I have to agree, to own up, to an emotional element in my way to thinking. That is to say, each person is attached, through our own personal makeup and experience, to think of things in a certain way. Christianity, with all its myth and garbled history is something you have grabbed onto for whatever reason and receive something from it. When I bore back into the sources for declaring things as “sin”, and then forgiveness of sin, I find them arbitrary. There is no universal human experience or agreement as to what should be regarded as sin or who is authorized to forgive sin.

            There is a universal experience in human kind and this is where I get upset, or emotional, as it were. I see people behaving in ways documented history has shown are destructive to society. That is to say, certain behaviors have caused destruction of societies, or, misery within societies, and we can all observe these results. I get frustrated that people look to myths and their internal feelings to make broad judgements about great truths as to what is good for the broader society.

          6. Wanna 3:08 One nice thing about exchanging views here is we don’t need to decide ourselves who makes more sense, folks who read them can decide for themselves.

    2. Wanna B Sure

      Unfortunately, there are many post-reformed churches, especially, the hell-fire (earlier), and no-fire megas, and not so mega, currently that don’t apply/subscribe to the balanced Law/Gospel. (Problem-solution).

  2. entech

    Wanna 1:19 and most of the rest.
    You often accuse me of psycho babble, or similar, you r writing here is just babble. The law, the gospel all comes from the same source, the point of my comment was that the two ‘coming apart’ and ‘stemming the tide’ were in direct contradiction – this to be expected because the source is full of contradiction. Full of looking back and seeking something to validate the changes that crept in ie. indivisible somehow becoming three parts, Genesis 1 and 2, Bethlehem and invented travelling home for a census – deliberately invented to comply with a supposed prophecy. This is what is so difficult for non-faith people to comprehend.
    Not to mention talking snakes.

    1. Wanna B Sure

      Entech; Thank you for confirming my earlier posts on those of non-belief, going all the way back , and including the bondage of the will.

      1. entech

        Just think we should start and the beginning, not from where we want to be now .
        I have some difficulty with the variations on freedom of the will, predestination etc. What on earth do you mean by bondage of the will, some kind of slavery or perhaps submission will of god (or the imaginary Allah).

        1. Wanna B Sure

          Re. Bondage of the Will; seek and ye shall find. It would explain your situation. Has nothing to do with predestination, double predestination, TULIP, the Fates, submission or slavery.

          1. Wanna B Sure

            Entech; “What on earth do you mean by bondage of the will,…..” I have mentioned this subject on more than one occasion. Just goes to show you don’t care to even listen. So much for integrity in discussion.

    2. Wanna B Sure

      Entech; Let me also say that I am disapointed in your lack of ability to understand so many of the literary tools used in history. Historical, poetic , allegory, metaphore, Hebraisms, apocolyptic, etc. Also including translation, transliteration, historical-grammitical critical, historical-grammitical-contextual critical, literalist, and hyperliteralist. I suppose this also is “just babble” to you too. I doubt that you will be able to discern these items due to your bias. Sad really, when one considers your abilities. Your philosophy skills and pride, paint you into a corner from which you can’t escape. Have a nice life.

  3. entech

    OK. Just looked up bondage – Martin Luther. I have said before I don’t really have much interest after the first five hundred years, all just so many personal interpretations, people that know the truth and the rest of the universe is wrong, rather like yourself (how many times have I read such things as: I have mentioned before, I have told you before, I, I, I have explained but you refuse to understand, I have told you the truth and you reject it) . So I did seek (or at least Google search) and I did find, didn’t have the energy or interest to follow up with Luther, Calvin, Erasmus, etc. with the freewill, predestination, grace, good works and all the ways that Jesus will save you if only you find the right way to believe.
    I still seek for a reason to believe that your Trinitarian ideas have any basis or credibility, even if you accept the Hebrew God (rather than any of the other choices) I think William of Ockham had a good thought with the most straightforward answer being the most likely to be true. When you start to add the complications of first the Jesus character being the son and then adding the spirit to make a trinity you have complicated things to such an extent that the explanations and reasoning becomes close to insanity. (as Gregory the Theologian Born 329 CE and one of the Cappadocian Fathers said). I have not totally rejected your God, although he is only one contender including no god at all, but thanks to so many apologists at large and commenters here I do reject the idea of the Trinity, far too complicated, God as an intelligent designer would have made it much better and more straightforward.

    I do understand some of the tools used in history. I don’t understand any of the tools used in apologetics as they seem, to me, to be essentially commentary on a set of writings that you must assume to be true before you start: so I do not consider such things as apocalyptic, literalist and hyperliteralist, your Historical-grammatical and contextual methods for trying to work out who wrote the stuff and what they actually meant as anything other than babble. Reading into and out of, exegesis and eisegesis, is similarly futile. You are trying to analyse writings about things that probably never happened, by people, most of whom were not there.
    I don’t the Hebrew language so I don’t know how to interpret and apply the idioms, but for poetry, metaphor and allegory it would be a good idea to read the books from that standpoint and the history as the history of the Hebrews being partly exaggerated and partly invented.

    I don’t have a corner, a position to defend regardless, I am open to most things, even those that I have rejected can come back with sufficient evidence, it is your pride, your refusal to even contemplate that the universe was not designed for man and that it is not about you that leaves you in the corner trying to justify yourself with evermore outlandish explanations. I am quite happy to look in awe at the the universe and be happy to be even a small part of it.

    1. Wanna B Sure

      Entech; Is that all you have to offer? Everything you just said supports the bondage of your/the will. Thank you for your support.

      1. entech

        Whatever you say, Henry Wanna, one day you may realise that the world and the words do not mean what you would like them to mean. That the scriptures you rely on so much are just words. Live on in your dream world, the dream where you are right and the rest of the universe is wrong, Solipsism personified.

        1. Wanna B Sure

          Entech, I’m not Henry. “One day you may realise that the world and “…(your)…” words do not mean what you would like them to mean”. Don’t be so smug. You are not a young man. Neither am I or Jon. Your “One day you may realise…” indicates a future event. That day will come.
          In the meantime, your persistant resistance continues to validate my position. Thanks again.

          1. Wanna 9:53 “…your persistant resistance continues to validate my position. Thanks again.”

            I’m not sure declaring ourselves the winner in these exchanges (and I do it myself) ever influences the conclusions of lurkers who read here but don’t participate.

          2. Wanna B Sure

            Jon; As you yourself said, “Folks that read them can decide for themselves.” They are free or bound to do so.

        2. Wanna B Sure

          Entech; I will give you a hint, which you will/have strongly reject; A while ago we got into the Holy Spirit, and the “unforgivable sin” ie. the rejection of the Holy Spirit, and it’s works, and the resulting effect of not being able to come to the faith. The Holy Spirit calls EVERYONE, including those of non-faith. Without the Holy Spirit, no one can come to faith. No one “chooses” to come to the faith. Those who reject the HS reject the only means to the faith, hence the “unpardonable”. The will is in bondage from being free to accept the faith in Christ. In a sense you and Jon can exercise your free will to reject, but you can’t exercise your free will to accept. Your will is indeed not free once you reject the only means through which you can accept. After a while your “heart is hardened”, and you have no where to turn but to continue to reject. YOU ARE SCREWED. The more you thrash about in your denial, only enforces your situation, and validates my position.
          I fully expect more pages of validation. Thanks in advance.

          1. entech

            The depth of your self-deception is truly amazing, a result of that deep solipsism I mentioned. Somehow your failure to convince becomes my rejection, my failure to accept the world according to Wanna is a validation of that world? 🙄

          2. entech

            Expecting flack for misusing a concept, and all I get is it twisted around and aimed back at me. Validation of my position.

  4. How does the Holy Spirit call people? Are their legitimate and illigitimate callings? How do you tell the difference? Tounges of fire, ok. Buring bush, ok. Visions in the desert, ok. The visions of Black Elk? The Oracle of Delphi?

    Maybe the Truth is in the content rather than the source?

    1. sea 5:52 “How does the Holy Spirit call people?”

      Great questions. Without good answers as to how the call is made and how we are to identify the messenger, I don’t see how these conepts can have any substance.

      1. Wanna B Sure

        Jon; understanding where you constantly come from, you wouldn’t hear the call if it bit you on the ass. Something much more substantial and threatening might improve your perception/hearing, but as of yet, not yet.

        1. Wanna 6:44 “ wouldn’t hear the call if it bit you in the ass.”

          I really don’t know if that’s true or not. Show me a call from the great beyond so we can find out.

          1. Wanna B Sure

            Ah yes! That “Give us a sign”, or “show us a miracle then we will believe”. Rember the bitie thingie? It aint gonner happen for you I’m afraid to say. Maybe you could take a camel trip to Flasher, or Mott ND in the dead of winter,

    2. Wanna B Sure

      Discernment is also a gift of the HS. How it affects concience would be a good indicator. How it numbs concience would be a bad indicator. That “still small voice”, not a loud “Hey you stupie.” Is it self initiated, or external.

    3. Wanna B Sure

      Does it build up or tear down is another reliable indicator. If you are hearing voices that tell you to kill everyone at work, not a good model to follow.

      1. So if build up/tear down is an indicator I’m guessing that the whole bit about Jon not hearing if it “bit him in the ass” wasn’t The Spirit working through you.

        1. Wanna B Sure

          Not doing the biting. You could look at it as “tough love”, in an attempt to get his attention. The rest isn’t up to me. It’s up to Jon, but I fear the time is probably past. However there is always the chance for a change of heart for him. All the length of time needed is the time it takes from the time of jumping and the time the rope gets tight. Or at the onset of chest pain and when the Dr. pronounces you dead. (Just a couple of examples).

          1. Wanna 7:51 “ an attempt to get his attention.”

            You have my rapped attention. I just can’t see whatever it is you are trying to show me. Could it be it’s not there?

          2. Wanna B Sure

            Oh Jon; Let me assure you, it’s there. Again, you can’t see it, and you continue to reject. I have hopes, but not much any more. Stay healthy.

          3. Wanna B Sure

            Jon; you ask the same questions of the Pharisees. Matt 12:38-45, (the sign of Jona), and Matt 16: 1-4, (Moses and the Prophets), and yet they still asked for more signs with continued unbelief.
            Here you are today, and you reject any of the writings that even the Pharisees knew, and misused.
            You are not without excuse, other than the rejection of the Holy Spirit. That is your burden. Not mine. You have been informed.

          4. Wanna 9:14 “You have been informed.”

            That is certainly correct. Let’s see, all the years of my childhood in an evangelical church. Then, all the adult years as a practicing Christian. As Mayor, very often, because I defended the rights of women to use an abortion clinic in Fargo and later because of my support of gays. Now, it’s because I’m blogging as a Freethinker. Warnings, judgements and “being informed” by others has been a staple of my life.

            I can’t say I’ve minded “being informed”. Sometimes, like here on this board, it leads to fun exchanges with people.

          5. Wanna B Sure

            Jon; Besides, an occasional update/reminder can’t do any harm. Never know what state of mind or situation one is in. It could be that anyone might be more receptive at a later date. Don’t fly your little cessna over Lake Michigan. If I remember right, someone did last summer. Never heard more.

        2. Wanna B Sure

          Sea; The Holy Spirit can and has come to people in the most horrible conditions, or not. Some accept, some reject. No one is forced, but all are given the opportunity. Are you offended by the word “ass”? A common term of the human anatomy, or of the animal kingdom. Also as a metaphore, (as in “bite in the ass”). I believe the usage, to call one “an ass”would be offensive, but that I didn’t do, Although I have been tempted to on occasion. Possibly in your highly refined world, my application would be offensive, but that would be a narrow segment of the population looking to be offended.

  5. entech

    The Holy Spirit as wanna would like to call it, the holy ghost to some, simply the way God communicates to the Jews is to be found in the same place as you say the Allah of Islam is to be found: in the imagination of the true believer.
    “Bit em in the ass” is a good metaphor, to be a believer that it where you would need to be bitten, right where you keep your ears and brains, and incidentally from where your speech emanates.

      1. entech

        Doesn’t take much to convince some people that they are right and the rest are wrong, to some the other is always wrong. Sorry, in error.

        1. Wanna B Sure

          Oh, I think that is a fair statement. There are some, especially the young, or the newly introduced, that have not grown in their belief to the fullest potential maturity. Not really a problem though. A mustard seed is a mustard seed. But then this is a two way street, and there are those going in different directions.

          1. entech

            Thank you for the validation. You really do believe that all roads lead to Wanna, that if you reach a full maturity you will agree with Wanna, the epitome of faith is to believe as you do. Some follow you down the street and the rest all go in the wrong direction. A two way street can only have two directions, allow me to point out that this is a very simplistic view, a view common to Christians – you are for me or against me – there are more directions and possibilities than your narrow view can see or imagine.

            An appropriate use of your “mustard seed is a mustard seed” pointless truism is to point out that the mustard seed reaches its full potential maturity by being made into a sauce or condiment and passing through the human gut, an unkind analogy for your rhetoric but close to the truth.

          2. Wanna B Sure

            You present something close to Unitarianism. Next step—full blown atheism. A natural progression. You sly crafty person you.
            I wouldn’t be at all concerned as to who is for or against me if I were you. It is not” I “you should be worried about.
            So you don’t like the mustard seed comparison. Makes no difference to me.
            Now look who is using “narrow.”

          3. Wanna B Sure

            Looks like you would like to be the “leader of the pack”, but with so many possibilities, no one would know where you would be taking them. The best choice would be only confusion. You by your own admission can’t decide. How could you lead? The only point to your existence is to draw away. Like a bull elk who can’t handel what he already has. Yet he has to bull.

  6. entech

    4:08 am Unitarianism is too close to your ideas of God and Jesus. Something closer to the Hindu idea that Brahman “the one” not only creates but in the process becomes the universe. So not some kind of pantheism where they your say god is everything, you me and everything, this is as egotistical as your God made everything and I have a special place in it. Still thinking about it.
    Full blown atheism, sounds so dramatic, almost as if you thought it was diabolical. But never mind. been there done that, the whole argue and abuse thing.
    Mustard seed ? You just said that the same thing is the same thing, mindless – unless you were talking about faith as a mustard seed, or some similar I remember from my childhood
    6:00 am Me, leader of the pack, I am the original gutless wonder, couldn’t lead an accordion band. Did “handel” write music for the accordion?

    1. Wanna B Sure

      Unitarianism; a gateway heresy to atheism. (thought you might like that).
      Re “Pantheism”; You must do a little research on the pan, and mono. You have a problem in diferentiating.
      Re. mustard seed; “unless”? Of course. Thought you would pick up on that right away, but I guess not. You must have been away from the Bible too long to make the connection.
      I can see that you have no relationship with the accordion. To be in accord is to be in agreement and in harmony. Concordia. Even a triad (chord) has harmony. Different applications, (major, minor 7th, diminished, etc.) but each in harmony and in order. The circle of 5ths has order, as do the various progressions and modes. I am sure you would find that too internally egotistical. Especially when you get to the law of tendency in progression theory. It probably wouldn’t fit into your world view.
      Diabolical; Interesting that you should use that. Hmmmmm
      And last, every band needs a leader, even an accordion band/orchestra.

    2. Wanna B Sure

      Re. “did handel write mucis for the accordion”? He wrote music…..some of which has been adapted for the accordion. He couldn’t have written music specifically for the accordion because the accordion as we know it, both piano and chromatic button accordion (which both use the stradella bass) hadn’t been invented in Handel’s time. (late 1800’s- early 1900’s.) There were primitive bellowed free reed instruments similar to a harmonica wich are diatonic and bisonoric. No sharps or flats are available in these, as diatonic also means the voice scale of do-re mi, etc. Handel would probably not use these due to their limited ability and adaptability. Nice that you have been exposed to Handel, and probably his Messiah. The beauty of his art may just yet soften your opinion. Remember, the hearing is usually the last thing to go.

    1. Wanna B Sure

      Is that all you can say? No long ponderous philosophical circling? Come on over, I will dedicate a song for your condition. I can think of several. The wayward wind, The last word in lonesome is me, You always hurt the one you love, It’s now or never, and the most ecumenical; The St. Paul Waltz.

    2. Wanna B Sure

      Not using the meds you would be refering to right now. Advil seems to working reasonably well. Hopefully that continues, unless I reinjure myself.

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