Saturday, May 17, 2014

Modesty Culture Part 2: How “Modesty Culture” became a “Thing”

Modesty Culture Part 2: How “Modesty Culture” became a “Thing”

Not that long ago, a well-meaning and very nice friend from church posted the Rebelution Modesty Survey on our church website. It was all I could do to stop myself from responding with a very unkind remark, because this survey illuminates so much of what I believe is vile and evil about Modesty Culture, and how it has damaged my generation and the generations after mine. I will be discussing the survey in more detail later in this series.

Trends, whether in fashion or in doctrine, start somewhere. They don’t just happen. Typically, an idea will gain popularity within a small, insular, group first, and then spread to the culture at large through the influence of that small group.

Modesty Culture is no exception to this rule. It started somewhere. It became popular in a small group, and then has now spread to the church at large, even appearing in my own home church, despite my pastor’s general suspicion of legalistic trends. Over the last few years, the subject has become unavoidable, and the battle lines have been drawn.

And then, my blogger friend Thatmom linked to a site entitled “Is This Modest?” (Cliff Notes version of the answer: unless you dress like the Amish, no. The “immodest” girls and women shown were dressed like normal people in 21st Century America.) When my wife read through a sample post, her first response was to note that it was this creepy, middle aged man, looking through pictures of teenage girls on the internet, reposting without their permission, and commenting on their nubile bodies. Ewwwww.

It wasn’t just my wife who noticed. The internet magazine Jezebel picked up the story and made some insightful (if snarky) comments on the whole thing, and quite soon, Is This Modest disappeared from the internet. Perhaps the author realized that he looked like a pervert to everyone outside of the Modesty Culture bubble. (Jezebel’s pithy comment was “batshit ridiculous.”)

Back to the Rebelution survey. As I said, this has made the rounds of my conservative Christian friends, and everyone seems to nod along without actually thinking through its implications. It has been a test of my self control to hold my tongue until I could write a more detailed explanation of my opposition to the philosophy behind the survey. (Hang on, I’ll talk more about this later.)

So yes, “Modesty Culture” has definitely become a “thing” in conservative Christianity.

Why did this idea spread? Like any trend, there are multiple causes.

One of the reasons is a timeless, universal cultural phenomenon that I have decided to call “Snow White Syndrome,” after the well known fairy tale. This particular phenomenon has been described in different ways, but the essence of it can be expressed in the term “generation gap.” As it applies to sexuality, it might be stated as this: each generation believes that it invented sex, and that the subsequent generations ruined sex. It is this rather universal idea that leads each generation to believe that its parents were all uptight prigs, and that the children are a bunch of sluts. Since this is a more universal issue, rather than specific to our present times, I discuss it in a footnote. Suffice it to say that causation - for fads as well as other things - is complex. This is one factor, but it isn’t new, so it doesn’t explain the “why now?”

I do believe that there is an underlying cause within the heart of conservative Christian thought over the last 40 or so years which made this idea particularly attractive. This idea originated in the teachings of the Christian Reconstructionists half a century ago, but has been introduced into the mainstream primarily through the fundamentalist component of the homeschool movement.

The idea is that of a separateness of Christian culture from mainstream culture. In essence, it views anything cultural that is not expressly “Christian” to be by definition evil and wrong and bad and all that.

Thus, the essence of being a “Christian” has come to mean “to be in opposition to mainstream cultural norms.”

I don’t want to digress completely on this point, so I discuss this idea in a footnote as well. There is a general belief that Christians must, by definition, oppose popular mainstream culture as an end to itself, without actually analyzing the underlying ideas.

Thus, the idea that Christians must dress completely differently from non-Christians was easily assimilated into the existing framework.

So where did the current “Modesty Culture” come from?

The Origins of Modesty Culture

For most conservative Christians, it probably seems that the present focus on “modesty” bubbled up naturally from a revulsion at the sexualization of modern culture. You know, Madonna and the Kardashians, and all that rot. Most of us have no desire to see femininity reduced to the appeal of certain body parts. Agreed. None of us want to see our daughters in Playboy someday. Fine. Agreed. The vast majority of parents, Christian and otherwise agree too. I’m not going to argue against that one. None of us should think of our sex appeal as the only or most important thing about us. (I’ll address “sexualization” and “objectification” later.)

Rather, I might point out that NONE of my friends and acquaintances - including the atheist ones - think Miley Cyrus’ simulated sex on stage was anything other than pathetic and sad. Maybe I just have great friends (probably true) and there is still some vast majority of people out there who adored her “performance.” But I doubt it.

But where did the current “Modesty Culture” come from?

Again, I have the “advantage” of having listened to a LOT of teaching from Bill Gothard, and my wife had the “advantage” of actually living in a Christian Patriarchy home church.

The present “Modesty Culture” takes its underlying theology and philosophy from Bill Gothard, Douglas Phillips, the Harris family, and other leaders of the Christian Patriarchy Movement.

I know. I have listened to it years before it became a “thing” within mainstream evangelicalism and I understand the underlying philosophy.

Gothard's seminars were wildly popular in the 1980s - and beyond. Hundreds of thousands of Evangelicals attended them. The numbers were even higher among homeschoolers. The teachings started to become a part of the doctrine within the movement.

Later, as HSLDA pushed the catalogs and conferences put on by former HSLDA attorney Doug Phillips; and as homeschool conferences became more and more about lifestyle indoctrination, modesty culture became non-optional. Homeschoolers then took it back to the churches, where it went even more mainstream.

What I want my fellow Christians to understand is that “Modesty Culture” isn’t just a wish to keep our daughters out of the centerfold. It isn’t just a wish that they think of themselves as more than genitals. There is a whole constellation of ideas that are integrally connected with “Modesty Culture” that bespeak a particular worldview of gender, rape, sin, and responsibility.

I hope to lay out some of these ideas, and why I believe they are important.

Understanding the Fundamental Philosophy

Since my experience is with Bill Gothard’s teaching, I will refer to that. However, my wife confirmed that this was the teaching in Jonathan Lindvall’s group, and my research indicates it is a key teaching of Doug Phillips’ Vision Forum as well. The basic philosophy is essentially interchangeable. These men were highly influential in homeschool circles - and their influence remains great even after Gothard and Phillips resigned after committing alleged sexual assault against young women.

There are two key passages of Scripture which form the basis of the teaching. The first is from the Sermon on the Mount, found in Matthew 5-7. (All quotations are from the New American Standard Version unless otherwise noted.) (The Sermon on the Mount is THE text for Bill Gothard’s homeschool curriculum. His misuse and abuse of this text is why I still get cold sweats when hearing preaching on this text, even when done well. Spiritual PTSD, perhaps.) Matthew 5:27-30.

"You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY '; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.”

The second comes from I Timothy 2:9-10:

Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness.

I have quoted these passages from the NASB, but I should note that the originators of Modesty Culture believe in using the King James version only. Let me quote that version of I Timothy, because it has a bearing on their interpretation.

In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.

One word stands out here: “shamefacedness.” That will become important later on, because it ties in with the connection between “modesty” and a particular view of women. (This Greek word also is used in Hebrews 12:28, where it is translated to mean “reverence.”  “...whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear…”

Later on, I will discuss these passages a bit and my approach to them. For now, I will say that Gothard (and I believe the Reconstructionists in general) are prone to seriously bad exegesis, taking verses out of grammatical and historical context, using them as proof-texts for their own ideas. In general, I Timothy 2 is one of the most difficult to interpret passages in all of Scripture, but the Reconstructionists believe they have this one nailed. They know exactly what it means - and believe me, it means that women are essentially sub-human. But that is probably for another post.

So let me connect the dots for the Gothard/Phillips/Rebelution philosophy.

First of all, “proper clothing” or “modesty” as found in I Timothy has been interpreted as being in opposition to sex appeal. The original word does not have that meaning. The same Greek word is present later in the same book in chapter 3, when it says that a bishop (elder, overseer) should be “respectable.” A search of the web and a consultation of my concordance indicates that the original Greek meant “well ordered.” In other words, in both cases, one is expected to dress and behave in a manner that would be respectable within the culture.

But that is NOT what it means in the Modesty Culture definition. It almost means the opposite. Being respectable in one’s culture is most certainly NOT what they mean by “modest.” Since mainstream culture is by definition evil, one needs to find another, more “Godly” definition.

Again, one cannot look to the judgment of mainstream society for what is “modest,” because society is, by definition, evil and wrong. So they HAVE to find an alternative way to define “modesty.”

(Also, societies have differed by time in history and geographical location as to what qualifies as “modest.” As a basic example, the colder the climate, the more clothing the residents wear and vice versa. And even now, there are almost as many definitions of “modesty” as there are individual Christians. This is highly inconvenient, of course. But don’t worry, Gothard and Phillips have an idea that solves all the problems.)

The first quote is the key to their understanding.

“I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Rather than focus on the responsibility a man has for this - as Christ did - they focus on what the woman did that caused the lust.

So here we go: we have a fool-proof way to determine what is “modest” that supposedly can be applied to all people in all places at all times.

The standard for what is “modest” is determined by what a man feels when he looks at a woman.

Let me repeat that, for my non-fundamentalist friends:

The standard for what is “modest” is determined by what a man feels when he looks at a woman.

If you have never been part of Modesty Culture, this is the fundamental fact you need to know. When a woman decides what to wear, the most important thing she needs to think of is what some hypothetical man out there might feel when he sees her.

Again, I believe this is an example of how Gothard and others completely miss the point of the original, and instead use it to proof-text their own ideas. I’ll go into further detail about the theology and its implications in a future installment.

But first, in the next part, let’s take a look at what this really means in practice. As I have already hinted, it means that Good Christian Girls(TM) can’t wear culturally normal clothing, and that many other aspects of their behavior are likewise constrained. 

Posts in this series:

Modesty Culture Part 1: Introduction - "Whaaat?"
Modesty Culture Part 2: How "Modesty Culture" became a "Thing"
Modesty Culture Part 3: "Modesty" in Practice
Modesty Culture Part 4: The Concept of "Defrauding" and Rape Culture
Modesty Culture Part 5: The Faulty Definition of "Lust"  
Modesty Culture Part 6: The Real Meaning of I Timothy 2:8-10
Modesty Culture Part 7: Maybe Christian Women Should Buy Their Clothes at WalMart 
Modesty Culture Part 8: Sexism and Misogyny 
Modesty Culture Part 9: Inconsistent Application of Rules   
Modesty Culture Part 10: Social Signaling 
Modesty Culture Part 11: "Others May, We Cannot" is a Lie
Modesty Culture Part 12: Amanda's Story 

Note on the “Snow White Syndrome”:

Unless you grew up in the Jonathan Lindvall group, which didn’t believe that fiction should be read, (except for a few people that read the racist Elsie Dinsmore) you would be familiar with the story of Snow White and the evil stepmother.

“Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?”

Each generation finds it disconcerting when they lose their preeminence. At one time, they were the most sexually desirable age on the planet. But now. But now…

The next generation has hit puberty, and suddenly is the desire of all. And the woman of the previous generation is last year’s news. At best, one might be a MILF. (I’m not going to spell this one out. Google exists for a reason.)

For men, this also takes a dark and annoying turn. When one is sixteen, it is nice to imagine oneself mating with those hot sixteen-year-old girls. (How many songs are there about Sweet Sixteen?) It's all really cute and wholesome at that age.

Somehow, one eventually finds oneself close to forty, and things have changed.

Oh, we “older” men still find the young girls attractive. It’s biological. (The Darwinian explanation actually fits pretty well in this case.) We want to reproduce, and the young, nubile little things are cute.

But, unlike when we were sixteen ourselves, this biological desire isn’t societally acceptable. (In times past, it was oddly okay for an old man to take a much younger bride - at least if he was rich enough…) Instead of being normal teenage guys, we find ourselves in the unenviable position of “dirty old man.”

So, whether we are the displaced female or the “dirty old man,” we have to find some way to prove that we aren’t “washed up” or “lecherous.”

Thus, we say to ourselves that it really isn’t our fault. We aren’t jealous of youth or perving on the young girls.

Instead, they are SLUTS! Enticing us by their evil charms. Instead of facing the awful fact of our own aging and eventual death, we can focus on the evil of the young folk, still flush with the first bloom of their sexuality, and call them sluts.

The Evil StepmotherTM takes the worst approach, of course, seeking to kill the competition. But we do the same thing, viewing their very attractiveness as evidence of SIN. They are all SLUTS unless they cover their youth and beauty so all us older women and dirty old men don’t have to notice that they have we we lost years ago.

One of the reasons that I strongly encourage people to read literature is that it helps prevent a myopic view of history. It makes it harder to idolize the past. It also reveals that there is nothing truly new under the sun. In this case, there are many examples of “Snow White Syndrome” in action. Let me mention just a few.

In Shakespeare’s Richard II, old John of Gaunt bemoans the way the young folk have ruined everything. The sentiment in this case relates more to politics than to sexuality, but the idea is the same.

In The Man of Mode, written in the 1670s, contains the exact idea:

DORIMANT: Forms and ceremonies, the only things that uphold quality and greatness, are now shamefully laid aside and neglected.
LADY WOODVILL: Well, this is not the women's age, let 'em think what they will. Lewdness is the business now, love was the business in my time.

Yep. When she was young, all this philandering and love-making was about love. Now, with these young people, it’s just lewdness.

Or perhaps one of my favorite examples, from my beloved Anthony Trollope in He Knew He Was Right, quoting the older spinster who deplores the use of chignons.

“She would talk of ‘those bandboxes which the sluts wear behind their noddles;’ for Miss Stanbury allowed herself the use of much strong language.”

The rigid and judgmental Miss Stanbury, who never did catch a man, firmly believed that the young folk should dress exactly like she did. And wear their hair that way.  After all, it was good enough for her…

“Snow White Syndrome” is clearly nothing new. The choice of fashion has always been, and will always be a source of conflict between the generations.

Note on the origins of antipathy to mainstream culture:

I have mentioned some of these names in previous posts, because the ideas all tie together.

[Quick summary and oversimplification alert! I don’t have time for a full and nuanced theological discussion. I just want to trace who influenced whom.]

There was a split in Reformed thought in the early years of the Twentieth Century between the followers of Karl Barth and those of Cornelius Van Til. Note that both were fairly conservative, both were Calvinist (rather than Arminian), and both are considered to be on the more orthodox side of Christian thought.

However, Barth is regarded by the tradition in which I was raised as being a full bore heretic. As far as I can tell, this is because he did not believe that the Bible need be fully historically accurate and verifiable in every detail. [Again, a gross oversimplification of the issue.]

On the other side, Van Til’s big claim to fame was his idea that Christian and non-Christian thought are fundamentally incompatible and separate. That, in essence, one who is not a believer cannot possibly know or understand the truth about anything at all, because the depravity of Original Sin colors everything. [Again, a bit of an oversimplification.] Some on Van Til and the lack of common ground between Christians and non-Christians.

The key for me is not so much the interesting theological differences between the two, but of the doctrines that Van Til influenced.

The most important person for our discussion is Rousas Rushdoony. He was heavily influenced by Van Til’s thought, and took it further, as I shall explain.

That Rushdoony was also a full blown racist and anti-Semite is also indisputable. [Disturbing link to an White Supremacist site with some of his writings on race. ]

Rushdoony is also the founder of Christian Reconstructionism, the subject of an extended blog post here:

Rushdoony’s contribution, in addition to catering to the racial fears of white Christians, was his extension of Van Til’s dichotomy of thought to the realm of culture. That is, not only are non-Christians incapable of knowing truth, but their culture, but its very nature is evil. Since non-Christians (and for all practical purposes, anyone not a fundamentalist Christian) cannot know the truth at all or in any way, culture can only be “good” or “godly” if it arises from a society dominated by a certain type of Christian. In Rushdoony’s case, that society was the Antebellum South, before the forces of evil destroyed it.

Some of Rushdoony’s ideas in this regard were pretty evil, as can be seen from the link above. His support for segregation. His denial that the Holocaust was worse than the alleged lies told about it. His views on the evils of music which originated with African Americans. And so forth. These ideas were to a degree passed down to his friends and intellectual heirs such as Douglas Phillips and Bill Gothard and Gregg Harris, but were not necessarily adopted by the Evangelical mainstream.

However, others of his ideas definitely have had an influence. For example, he - along with Confederate chaplain R. L. Dabney - believed that Feminism was perhaps the greatest threat to Christianity. (Also VERY popular with Phillips and Gothard. See my post on how this affects their view of domestic violence and their view of women in general.) He also got started this idea of cultural separatism. That idea has really gone mainstream.

Although I think his ideas probably influenced a few Evangelicals directly, the biggest impact has been through the homeschooling movement. Although originally such luminaries as Raymond and Dorothy Moore were prominent (and were a big influence on my own parents), in the ensuing years, Rushdoony and his followers came to dominate the movement. Whereas the Moores advocated homeschooling primarily as a means to escape the oppressive educational-industrial complex, and free children from the lock-step sameness of standardized testing and uniform educational approach; Rushdoony and his followers looked upon homeschooling as a means of establishing an alternative Christian culture - and eventually an army to take over the world if possible. For a great summary of the Reconstructionist movement, see this link submitted by one of my thoughtful readers: 

Along with Rushdoony, the founders of this branch of the homeschooling movement included Michael Farris (of HSLDA - although he has since allegedly repudiated Reconstructionism), Gregg Harris - whose sons figure prominently in the next part of this series, and Bill Gothard.

That the Reconstructionist philosophy has had a tremendous influence on the homeschool movement would be a vast understatement. Take a quick google search of major homeschooling conferences in your state. I would wager that you are likely to see the following names headlining the conference: Douglas Phillips, Kevin Swanson (no relation of mine), Ken Ham, Gregg or other members of the Harris family, Jonathan Lindvall, and David Barton. All are Reconstructionist and Patriarchal in philosophy, if not always in name.

From the homeschooling movement, the idea of cultural separation from non-Christians spread. Where did the Rebelution survey come from? From Alex and Brett Harris. Name sound familiar? They are sons of Gregg Harris. Ever heard of I Kissed Dating Goodbye? Written by another Harris kid, Josh. (Courtship Culture is inextricably bound up with and related to Modesty Culture - but that will have to wait for a future post.)

Bill Gothard? Douglas Phillips of Vision Forum fame? The Harris family? All heavily influenced by Rushdoony. (Phillips was a close personal friend of Rushdoony’s and was also an attorney at HSLDA for many years. Gothard was heavily influenced by Rushdoony’s teaching. Although the Harrises are not explicitly connected with Rushdoony himself,, their philosophy contains many elements of his teachings.)

My summary of the essence of this philosophy? The “true Christian” is NOT to make non-Christian friends or to participate in non-Christian culture AT ALL. Rather, he is to focus on the use of governmental power to establish the future Christian Utopia on the lines of the Old Testament kingdom of Israel. Thus, it is completely out of the question for the Christian to have ANYTHING culturally in common with non-believers or to let his children interact with said persons . We are to establish an alternative, parallel society and culture, which will eventually destroy the secular one.

Note on how the fashion of a certain time and place became the “Godly” standard:

This follows pretty naturally from the Rushdoony Reconstructionist point of view. Society and culture were at their zenith when professing Christians dominated it. By definition, then, culture was “Godly” during certain times in history and in certain places in the world.

Most Christians, if they were honest, wish we could return to the 1950s. A time before sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll. When women stayed home and washed dishes in their high heels and cute checked dresses.

For the Patriarchist or the Reconstructionist, the clock needs to go further back. The most hardcore (Rushdoony and Douglas Phillips) believe that it should go back to the Old Testament Kingdom of Israel. (Phillips’ Tenets of Patriarchy look very much like the rules found in Hammurabi’s code.) Douglas Wilson has stated (in different places) that the most “Godly” times in history were the Middle Ages or the Antebellum South.

For fashion, though, the Antebellum South is pretty clearly the goal. Those glory days before blue jeans for men and pants of any kind for women.

The problem, of course, is that in order to glorify these times, one must either ignore or explain away the existence of serious injustices that characterized those societies.

For the Patriarchists, the systematic oppression of women is more of a feature than a bug. For Rushdoony and his followers, the existence of slavery was likewise a feature, not a bug. (Douglas Phillips composed a poetic ode to Confederate chaplain R. L. Dabney in which he praises Dabney for seeing the evils of abolitionists and suffragettes. I’m not kidding. I wrote a blog post about this here: )

But again, note that it is the ideas of Van Til and Rushdoony which frame the issue. Those eras were by definition more “Godly” than ours because Christians and the Church dominated society. Their culture was by definition more “Godly” than ours. Their music was by definition more “Godly” than ours.

And, make no mistake, their clothing was by definition, more “Godly” than ours.

Also interesting: Modesty Culture (and Christian Patriarchy in general) are trending more and more toward historical Mormanism.

Note on translations:
I think that it is all too easy to forget that translation is more art than science. There is no such thing as a perfect translation. Meaning in one language rarely directly matches meaning in another. Add in the additional difficulty of translating meaning from one culture to another and one time in history to another, and it just gets harder and less precise.

That’s why many denominations (such as the Evangelical Free Church) are careful to note that they believe that the Bible is inerrant in its original language, not as translated. This recognizes that no translation is perfect, all have compromises, and all err in some way.

For the “King James Only” crowd, they have a different belief: re-inspiration. That is, God not only inspired the original authors, he inspired the translators of that particular translation (and no others.) Thus, the KJV is the definitive version of God’s Word, and any deviations from that are false doctrine. Thus, to translate “shamefacedness,” for example, as “modest” is to change God’s intent.

I find it fascinating, though, to cross-check how the same word is translated in different contexts. The exact same words are quite often translated completely differently, depending on who or what is being discussed. This is not necessarily wrong: we use words differently in context all the time. However, often the choice of words betrays the translators’ own biases and agendas.

One of my favorite mistranslations from the KJV (and many later versions) is that of the word “deacon.” It is related to the the word for “ministry,” and is usually translated as that. To minister. One who minsters. However, in the KJV, the translators went out of their way to render it “one who serves in the office of Deacon.” Why? Well, it fit the Anglican church hierarchy - but not that of dissenting congregations. Thus, they made the passage about the qualifications for people who minster into an express endorsement of one form of church government. It is also used by many to deny that women can serve in a variety of church ministries. 

It is in those passages dealing with women, in fact, where the biases are the most pernicious. I already noted two of them above.

When the passage speaks of all people or of men, “well ordered” or “respectable” is used. “Modest” is used when referring to women. Similarly, all persons are to have reverence for God, but women are to be shamefaced. (And the word is generally used to mean women should be shamefaced toward men.) One more, for the fun of it. A few verses later in I Timothy, a certain word is translated as “silent” or “silence” when referring to women. Women are to be “silent” in church. (This is often taken very literally.) However, that exact word is used in other contexts as an admonition to all persons to lead “quiet” and sober lives. While a few religious orders do indeed believe in silence, few believe that all persons should be silent at all times.

The translation thus reflects the bias. The translators started with a particular view of women, and the translation shows that the gender of the person referred to determines the meaning of words that are exactly the same.


  1. This is really good. But wow, you make getting middle-aged sound *really* depressing.

    1. Should I say something about being able to afford a sports car?

      Actually, the undersold advantage of being middle aged is that middle aged women (in my case) and men are more likely not to be unbearably, well, immature.

      I suspect that most of the middle aged persons who obsess about the bodies of the young are not really enjoying what they do have. Those of us happily married are probably thinking with anticipation about spending time with our {ahem} hot and bothered spouses than dreaming about bonking a 16 year old.

      I probably didn't think to mention it, but I also think the transition is easier for those of us who never really attracted the young folk. It's easier being a "never was" than a "has been." After Jr. High as a sub 5'3" male, things got better. But I still have never had the illusion that some hot young chick would be interested in me. The fact that Amanda loves and desires me still blows my mind all the time.

    2. At some point in each of our lives, we discover that we are not the [smartest, sexiest, fastest, most whatever] in the world. That happened for me regarding my appeal to the opposite sex at age 5, when we were lined up by height in my kindergarten class. I was the shortest by far. It takes others longer to get to this point. Just saying.

  2. Is Good Christian Girls really trademarked?

    Sometimes I forget that the rest of this country isn't like San Francisco.

    1. If it isn't, I just did...

      And no, not even the rest of California is quite like San Francisco. ;)

  3. This series is awesome - thank you so much for taking the time to write this.

  4. I'm late to the party, having only recently discovered your blog, but this series is utterly fascinating. I'd love to argue some of the more minor points, but by and large, I must issue a resounding, "Well done" and "thank God" for the content. Yours is a quite brilliant and much-needed analysis of a deeply misunderstood phenomenon. Posting this from the ultra-conservative Midwest. Rock on, man.

    1. Welcome to the discussion. Thanks for the kind words!