It’s Always the Gulag!

Some Gulags are more bearable than others. This internet gulag is fine. Get me a frosty drink.

I was discussing the Worldcon follies with husband and he said “it’s always the Gulag, with these people.”

I was struck by the wisdom of these words, because… yeah, it’s always the gulag.

I remember P.J. O’Rourke describing the older cousins of our present progressives — the ones smart enough to read the communist manifesto and know that if they agreed with every point, yep, they were communists — as being like the children of strict religious ministers, fanatic and afraid to put a foot wrong.

He might have been right for that generation.  The current generation (and this includes the older people who have lost their minds and are acting like teens) remind me of nothing so much as the “perfect little girl” at religious education.

I just heard the rest of you groan.  At least those of you who were ever in religious education.

You know exactly the girl I mean.  She’s always more pious than you, and always ready to denounce you for telling Jesus jokes in the back of the classroom.  (What?  Like you didn’t.)   She always tells the teacher more in sorrow than in anger.  And she really doesn’t want you punished, she just doesn’t want you to detract from her piety and earnest desire to learn.  And oh, yeah, she always has a smile like that picture of Hillary as a little girl: the perfect sweet smile that doesn’t reach her eyes.

And she’s always so protective of the other kids who want to “earnestly learn” and so ready to tamp down any form of unapproved behavior.

Of course Jesus jokes were very far off approved behavior.  (“Lord, why don’t you turn the stones into bread?”  “No need I brought ham sandwiches.”  Okay, I was 10, okay?) But they really weren’t disrupting anyone else, and also the teacher was so boring it saved us from the indecorous behavior of falling asleep at our desks.  But, more importantly, the group of us telling rather innocuous jokes (trust me) might have been more sincerely religious than the perfect girl.  Part of the reason that we made the jokes is that we’d gotten the point of the lesson and we were bored senseless.  The perfect girl never listened to the lesson ONCE.  Instead, she sat there practicing her pious expression for the world.

We met a more secular version of her in high school, where she always had the perfect makeup, the perfect hair, ran little errands for teacher and in my case, considering the times I went to high school in, was often “impeccably leftist.”

She was, of course, always ready to denounce and isolate you.  In the US that ran to “you can’t sit at the cool kids table.”

I’ve long ago said the “new blood” in established science fiction fandom (not that new, not that young, they’re maybe ten years younger than I)are liberal arts graduates who found it tough to get anything published much less noticed in “literary fiction” and thus moved to the larger pond of science fiction, all the while lecturing us about our pulpy short comings.

They arrived among us like missionaries from England, landing in Papua New Guinea (Hi Joe) in the nineteenth century and demanding all the natives wear pants, as that would greatly improve them.

They ignore everything that went on before, including the many women who were published in science fiction before 2000.  They’re storming the ramparts, and SF was all princesses and bug eyed aliens before them.  (Has anyone seen my eyes?  I think they rolled out on the carpet.)

(I have a mild fever, so I’m trying not to get in facebook arguments, but I honest to Bob heard someone say that if there were no discrimination against women, J. K. Rowling wouldn’t have used her initials.  Yeah, sure.  Shame about J R R Tolkien.  Seriously, guys, if she did choose to hide her gender, and didn’t merely think her initials sounded better, it might have been because she was writing a boy character and was afraid that editors would complain of her “betraying her voice” as I’ve had happen to me.)

And once they’re published, these bunnies decide they’re the cool kids.  They’re civilizing the savages, after all, and making science fiction “respectable” and “Socially relevant.”

Of course, then, the cool kids must be “safe” in the conventions they neither started nor popularized, undisputed in their piety and their “suave” geekiness.  And the rest of us?  To the Gulag with us.

Over and over again we get messages we’re not welcome and they don’t want us.  They tell us to go start our own awards, then rage at the Dragons.

I’m fairly sure that if we take them at their word and stop showing up for religious ed—  worldcon and other traditional literary conventions where we’re not welcome, they’ll find out that the thing is mighty thin of company.

It’s okay.  They’ll attract more people like them, who are there for the virtue signal.

Fortunately these days, our gulag is not so gulagy.  Sure, you can ban us from your spaces, but it’s starting to sound about as “bad” as being declared persona non grata by the old soviet union.  Well, dang.

You guys go on and enjoy the lines for boots and cabbage.  We’ll be over here having fun with fully stocked supermarkets… Metaphorically speaking.

It’s always the gulag.  But no matter how technologically illiterate the “cool kids” are, the rest of us can get together, establish relationships on line, and even, you know, attend conventions (like Liberty con) where they don’t try to exclude us.

Fear not.  Eventually the cool kids will want to “distance” from us and will call themselves something like “relevant science fiction” or (can we persuade them) Woke SF or something.  And the rest of us will continue writing and reading stories that are fun, and frankly not much caring about thought crimes.

The fun part of the left’s “perfect girl” obsessions is that they care so much about appearances they often discard the gift and hold on tight to the wrapping.

They never seem to catch on it means nothing.



421 thoughts on “It’s Always the Gulag!

  1. The type of person you describe reminds me of the perfect little girl who was always so snide toward Wednesday Addams and the rest of the “losers” in the Addams Family movie sequel.

    And there was a gulag of sorts there, too.

  2. I just heard the rest of you groan. At least those of you who were ever in religious education.

    *sad sigh* Sadly, that kind might not exist anymore– it didn’t show up in an of our parishes.
    Hm, maybe it’d be an old style protestant thing, here?

    (No, I wouldn’t have been that little girl. My family does jokes as a way of showing love– if anything, we’d scandalize the Very Earnest Folks, if we weren’t careful, with various Catholic Jokes. The best ones are in the Devil’s Dictionary style, ie, “Procession: the begining of the Mass, made up of the priest, deacons, altar boys, and people trying to find a seat.”)

    1. That kind of person or that kind of religious education?

      Please remember that Sarah was living in a Catholic country. 😉

      On the other hand, those kind of persons exist IMO in every religious environment. 😦

      1. Oh, there’s no kind of person who doesn’t exist anymore. 😀

        That kind of religious education that would reward the behavior, basically.

        There wasn’t a single mention of felt banners!

        1. Yeah, the arts and crafts style of RE hadn’t invaded classes yet. Honestly, if they were guilty of anything was trying to introduce concepts way beyond our reach. Sure, we should hear about chastity, but not at 10 or 9 when our idea of “sex” was that adults kissed sometimes.

          1. Oooh!
            If you ever end up assigned/need to cover that topic for kids– remember it goes into the “treating people as things, including yourself” area. Little kids can get the idea of “eat a lot of sweets and your stomach feels like it wants to claw out of your body” just fine, and get the idea that if they keep THINKING about it, it’s Also Bad.

            I can imagine how they tried to cover it….

          2. Heh. I recall some memorable lessons as a teen regarding chastity in our LDS (aka Mormon) Sunday school and young women’s classes. (We did not, I am glad to report, get those lessons UNTIL we were teenagers, so there’s that.) Most of them…were not very effective, healthy, or good, since they came down on the side of “you will always be dirty.” Which is nonsense, and sort of negates the whole repentance thing. Also produces some very mixed signals regarding sex AFTER one is married (it was dirty/bad/terrible before, and suddenly the young person is supposed to now view it as sacred and awesome and…er, what?!). And, worst of all, it does not take into account any children who might have been victims of rape.

            As I recall, Elizabeth Smart had some scathing things to say regarding those very same lessons after she was recovered from her kidnapper. I haven’t seen the recent changes to the lessons in the manual–not currently being either a youth sunday school teacher or a young women’s leader–but I do hope they’ve been changed for the better.

            1. I didn’t go to a church. My education in chastity was being an overweight nerd who played Dungeons and Dragons.

              1. Hey! I resemble that remark! I met my first boyfriend at a high school D&D group.

                Its one of the reasons I *know* that the Sarkesian-Quinn-anti-GG-puppy kickers, are ALSO lying opportunistic colonizers.

                Gamers are the nicest, most open-minded welcoming guys you could ever want as the lone [fill in the blank] in the group.

                Potty mouth, lack of personal hygiene, tact and hilarious* cracks about the sexes were-semi-optional. And don’t justify bullying them to fit into some SJW prima donna fake-gamer’s delicate sensibilities

                (*I have low sense of humour)

                1. see, my HS didn’t have a D&D club because Dr Bracey didn’t want to allow anything that might rile up She Who Shall Not Be Named,

                  1. D&D books were almost contraband at my school. This was during the time when there was a lot of talk about it being a form of witchcraft or devil worship, so nope, not gonna have a D&D club at MY school!

                    1. Well, if you look for Bracey in any discussion of She Who Shall Not Be Named *spit* then you’ll understand why

                    1. well tbh it is much easier now that She Who Must Not Be Named isnt around anymore and her organization departed with her.

                    2. that would be her

                      (and that entire thing is also why i donated copies of the books i worked on for White Wolf to my high school’s library. :D)

                    3. If the game gets these bozos seal of approval, you probably don’t want it:

                      “New Agenda Publishing is a consortium dedicated to promoting diversity in the RPG community through our hiring and choices. We want to amplify underrepresented voices and help them tell new stories from their perspective. We want to bring more people of color and especially women of color to the table and we think the best way to do that is by hiring them to help us create the games and worlds they want to play in.”


                  2. If you’re talking about the person it appears you are talking about, I graduated high school the month before her son killed himself, so that wouldn’t have been the reason.

                2. Oh, they “fixed” that. By accepting you as you were, and treating you like one of them, they were denying you your special uniqueness.

                  You see, they have to accept you by treating you the way the SQaGGpk twits believe you must “really” be, due to whichever category they’ve put you in, or they’re dehumanizing you.

            2. Early morning seminary.


              (The LDS Church encourages those in grades 9-12 to attend a scripture study class called “Seminary”. The class consists of four rotating year-long courses. In places that don’t get release time from school – i.e. pretty much anywhere outside of Utah and parts of Idaho – it’s taught early in the morning before school. For some reason, the students tend to complain about it a lot…)

              1. Hehehe, ahhh, seminary. But since I was gonna be up early for band practice all through high school, an extra hour wasn’t a big deal at that point. And I was lucky enough to have some really excellent seminary teachers, so overall I enjoyed it. Though I did lose my temper with the bishop’s son one morning, because I was fed up with his being obnoxious–loudly obnoxious–during class. I was fine with having to be up early for seminary, not so fine with loud noises at six freaking a.m…

                It’s the sunday school ones who read the lesson directly out of the manual in a monotone that kill me. :p

          3. For the longest time, I thought “original sin” was, ahem, nookie. Thank you, church youth group in the late 1980s… And yes, being an overweight nerd does wonders to greatly limit the occasions for certain kinds of sin. Wrath I got good at, lust? Not a prayer, if you’ll pardon the mixed metaphor.

            1. That seems to be a view that far too many are willing to push. I remember having to read one rather dreary short story in a high school English class in which the female protagonist (who was a minor) heard bits of the grown-ups’ conversations that she didn’t quite understand (one of the bits was about an unmarried woman getting pregnant, though the protagonist clearly didn’t understand this), saw a picture of Eve holding an apple (which the protagonist was told represented “sin), and iirc ended up cheerfully endorsing a “rebel against that jerk God” attitude.

        2. Oooh! I have felt banners!

          Yep. We’re about to start confirmation classes with the yard ape. It will be interesting to see how much of what I recall is still extant.

      2. Eh – Lutherans do it differently; As I remember catechism classes were rather freewheeling, with explanations of the various points of dogma and interesting discussions.

        1. The good places do that, now– the bad ones…well, lots of jokes about the “spirit of vatican II.”

          So bad we actually had a priest that got moved because he mentioned that remarrying after a divorce, without a finding that the first marriage was not valid, was adultery. I think it came up because that week’s reading was Jesus…saying divorce and remarriage was adultery.

          But they’ve got lots of time for things like taking up the Sunday before Christmas to ask for money for the illegals, and brow-beating people about being kind to “immigrants.” (No, it never is actual immigrants, who want to join the country and follow the laws, etc….)


          Himself must be involved, no way it would last this long otherwise!

          1. From what I understand from those unfortunate friends who have gone through the process in eth church, there are the official channels for trying to get an after the fact annulment after a divorce, and then there are channels.

            Basically, the church bureaucracy is, in fact, a bureaucracy, so it behaves like one.

            1. Depends very much on where you are, too. Some the investigation is a farce– and it goes in both directions, as best I can tell for something as hot topic as a marriage that ended!

              Honestly, though, it’s not only for that–
              I tried to get married in the church in one area… they had a phone number you had to call.
              I did. Several times. Showed up in person twice, was informed I was required to use the number. This was almost a year before my fiance was supposed to be back, I knew I had a bunch of paperwork to do….
              Couldn’t ever reach ANYBODY.

              Moved to a good parish, the one where my husband decided to get confirmed, and our good Father like to have a heart attack finding out how that had gone. Good thing we weren’t in driving distance of the first place, I think he might’ve gone over and had a heart attack at their bishop and that whole mess.

              Over on the evangelizing front, the folks who own the website have a radio show. It’s called “Catholic Answers Live.” It’s like the Rush Limbaugh of Catholic phone-in theology radio shows.

              There are about four different “big” Catholic radio networks, meaning there’s more than two or three stations for it, and one of them recently basically booted the show from their stations– their requirement for a deal to air the show was that it had to be exclusive to their network (about a third of the size of the EWTN affiliated stations, and EWTN affiliated are far less numerous than the independent stations or the little networks) and required they hand over the marketing and distribution rights.

              Humans are still humans, no matter what organization. :/

              1. My late wife and I were/am both unapologetic Baptists, but neither of us had a church in town (long story), and had friends who went to a very conservative Episcopal church in the area. Their priest was a friend, so we decided we wanted him to marry us rather than try potluck.

                Problem was, she was divorced (another long story). Father T proceeded to investigate the circumstances and decided they might even have called for an annulment in an conservative Roman church, and agreed to officiate.

                He later told us he had reported his findings to the bishop, and that worthy had listened/read politely–and, he thought, with some amusement that he had mode that big a deal of it.

                Which is one reason we wanted him to officiate…

                1. Hello, Terry. Out of town, I presume.

                  It took me a moment or two to remember which church and priest you were talking about. A mind is a terrible thing to waste — and I had to look up the wording of the quote. Geez.

                  1. As always. Truckers are never in town, or so it seems.

                    I won’t hold your lapses against you–at least until I forget I promised not to.

              2. One of the reasons my Dad converted to Catholicism (besides the metaphorical poke in the eye to his parents) was the local priest where he was attending school was the only one in the area that was willing to marry a couple of his friends (one Lutheran, one Catholic) who wanted the big ceremony rather than a justice of the peace.

              3. In Protestant churches, “traditionally” a church wedding takes place in the woman’s church. Thus, when the author of The Amateur asked Jeremiah Wright about the Obamas, he said of Michelle that he thought she attended to have a church to wed in.

                I put scare quotes around “traditionally” because we were the first ones of our family to be wed in church. My parents were wed in a small service at the pastor’s residence (there was some decorations provided by friends), at it was by a minister both knew but not their home church pastor. My wife’s parents were wed at home by a minister, IIRC. My grandparents were wed as they sat in a buggy at the Justice of the Peace, and he conducted the ceremony standing on the front porch. Yes, it was a drive-through wedding.

                1. My mom is still proud of her wedding– the priest in dad’s town was an obnoxious prick who wanted to require them to do either six or nine months of marriage prep. (that didn’t become standard until at least a decade later)

                  She chose a nice, but definitely not traditional, dress; dad had the same suit he wore for EVERYTHING until it wore out. (He now has a sports coat and a really nice vest, and a pair of pants that “goes” with both, and his best straw hat.)

                  So she mentioned it to her priest, the guy who she’d poured her heart out to when she was in college, who knew her like family. Retired, but stayed in the area to help out. He agreed to do the “Five Minute Quickie” wedding.
                  And, I suspect, “suggested” a day that just happened to be right before the daughter of the richest guy in the county was getting married, and I suspect “mentioned” to the organist that there was going to be a wedding, if she wanted to practice with a life audience. 😉 I think he’s also the guy who did my baptism, in my godfather’s basement.

                  Wedding stories are fun. ^.^

                  1. Friend’s wedding was at his own house, officiated by another friend who was some sort of monk/priest (I remained unclear exactly what, but apparently Official). And since a bunch of us had suggested an old tradition… after the main ceremony, bride and groom jumped over a broomstick together. Into the pool. Still wearing gown and tux. It was glorious. 😀

                  2. It bothers me that a priest would actually make it difficult for a man and woman to marry. This is a young man and a young woman that we’re talking about. There are certain things that they’re anticipating (or possibly already engaging in). The Christian faiths (well, most of them, at any rate; and some of them not so much anymore) generally take a dim view of those things happening outside the bonds of matrimony.

                    And a priest wants to make them wait another six to nine months? Is he CRAZY!?

                    1. Well, some people are pretty shaky on the concept of “If you make a solemn vow, you have to keep the promise,” or exactly what marriage covenants are all about. So sacramental preparation time is supposed to reduce the rate of stupid divorces.

                      But I don’t know that it does, and it seems to be a violation of the sacramental rights of Catholics to withhold Sacraments for anything approaching a year.

                      My feeling is that a short, intense course and some one-on-one sessions with a priest or experienced married couple would probably work better, although I would say that the prep courses should be offered to engaged persons or those who are interested.

                    2. Even some of the ‘clergy’ have a hard time with the solemnity of vows. I kind of lost track of the Catholic Church during college, but my wife’s a pretty devout Baptist. We got married at her church (broke my mother’s heart) as she was still attending.

                      She called to make arrangements for pre-marital classes, hoping to get it done in one or two since we lived 4.5 hours apart and were a little older than average. First class we show up to he starts talking about how we should be there every weekend for the next twelve weeks. ‘Helloooo, McFly. Did you forget the part where I live on the other side of the state?’ We ended up with one class, which consisted of a half hour interview, two hours of videos and another half hour of going over the videos.

                      During the run through he remarked how he should update his notes as he still had the names of the prior couple. “Yes, you need to change that. Now.” He still called me by the wrong name during the actual service.

                      He married my brother-in-law the next summer. Then got caught schtuping the wife of one of the deacons that winter. Had tar and feathers still been readily available to my Father-in-law he would have looked a tad different leaving town. My wife and I have now been married longer than he was. And my Father-in-law, after preaching a few months at that church until they found a new pastor, is now pastor at a tiny Baptist church out in the country. He loves it.

                    3. My dad’s home town was even further out from “anyone that matters” than my mom’s– generally, they send priests that are Trouble out on the satellite circuit so they won’t cause as much trouble. The town we moved to when I was a teen, with the malicious parish council, was a bit bigger still– so they got the guys who were new until they figured out if they were trouble, and then anybody who pissed off the bishop. Oh, and one poor guy who finished seminary then found out he was terminal with like three years to live…..

                      Sometimes that turned out great, because one of the ways you can be a total pain in the rump to the bishop or your other priests is by being an orthodox priest who does stuff like stop by folks’ house just to say hi. ^.^

                      Now it’s standard to have the pre-marriage classes, and there’s a lot less chance to screw around for random jerks with a chip on their shoulder*; the idea is to make sure that the folks haven’t absorbed the popular culture “oh we’ll just get divorced if it doesn’t work” idea.

                      And yeah, inflicting that on someone who’s never been given the basic foundation they are due as a member of the Church is probably a big part of why folks leave the Church.
                      I’m a little peeved about how many places don’t share the really awesome stuff we have, and just leave folks hanging, defenseless. Some basic freaking natural law and kid-friendly level of teaching on why the Church opposes abortion, euthanasia and contraception would’ve gone a long way to smoothing my school years. (Starting with staying in the Church for good reason, rather than because I’m sure it’s true, even if I wasn’t sure WHY yet.)

                      * in half-hearted defense of that priest…he was probably scared of my grandmother. Anybody with sense would be, and she was not all that thrilled that the son Everyone Knew would be single and taking care of his parents had found a girl, and a Catholic! Add in that she was old-style Protestant, and her father had been the richest guy in the area and was years after death still a going concern, plus whatever the guy thought of granddad’s family….yeah, I can see a mess, although that doesn’t really justify being a jerk.

                    4. It might have been partly his assessment of me, and partly his assessment of him, and partly something he considered a generally applicable aphorism.

                      I think the occurrence of fell-in-love-married-right-away-still-lovey-dovey-5-decades-later is less than we like to think – except where the couple learned some important things about love during those 5 decades. A lot more couples learned that (because they basically had to) when they couldn’t just dissolve their marriage at the drop of a hat. (Though it was easier to disappear.)

                    5. *snickers* Oh, I didn’t even think of that silly “love at first sight” thing getting involved in the advice past high school… heck no they weren’t love at first sight– mom describes him as “this smart-ass little cowboy I only danced with because I really wanted to escape the guy (family friends) were trying to set me up with.” (Knowing the guy, thank God for dad!)

                      Dad just smiles. Only advice he voiced was that first impressions are important, but it’s further investigation that matters. (didn’t say it that way)

                      Likewise, I thought my husband looked like a kind of scary guy in a bad mood, and socialized with him because we were in the same group of geeks, and I’ll talk to a fence post if you put a hat on it. He turned out to be a really nice guy. (Although he will LOUDLY argue with that description.)

                    6. Each story is different. And I won’t gainsay any success. 🙂
                      (And I have no idea where the last reply actually ended up – it looks like it replied to your 9:22am rather than the intended 2:37pm. No guarantees with this one, either. D WP & IE e.)

                      And I have several hats. Never without one. 🙂

                    7. It’s based on several cultural shifts over the last century.

                      First, so many wanting a church wedding are not really part of the church, and the potential spouse is not really part of a wholly different church. When children come along, religious differences can present a real challenge if it hasn’t been worked out in the meantime.

                      Second, so many don’t know their potential spouses as well as they used to. Despite the talk about arranged marriages, most people used to marry people they grew up with. So they knew these people fairly well. This isn’t necessarily as true, anymore. Pre-marital counseling is intended to prevent ignorance killing the marriage.

                      Third, as Banshee mentions, long-term commitment is not as commonly grasped today as it used to. So, part of the counseling is to ensure that commitment is there.

                      As to the waiting, my dad told me this:
                      If you think you’ve found the girl you just have to marry, wait a year. If you can’t commit to wait a year to get to the marrying part, then you certainly can’t commit to a lifetime of the married part.

                    8. Huuuuuuuge digression/thinking out loud here!

                      It’s one of those areas where good advice is going to depend on actually knowing the person– REALLY knowing them, like a good parent, or my mom’s old priest, not “knowing” them like “I saw them for 20 minutes on Sunday for the last six months” or “I have been in the valley on those Sundays I can actually make it for the last 3 years, I know of his family.”

                      My mom is the kind of person who would fit right in for an anime– “I made a promise when I was eight, the entire freaking anime is going to be based around me fulfilling it.” Dad is even worse, but quiet– he’ll decide on something, and unless relevant information is applied, he’ll do it. And if he promises, same story, it’s over. (He was 30 when they got married– mom was 25 or 26, I can’t remember.)

                      On paper, it was a terrible idea– they met like half a year before.
                      With actual knowledge of them…well, you’ll note that my grandmother was PISSED, she didn’t try to talk him out of it, and my mom’s parents had met an even shorter time before they got married. (I don’t know how long grandma’s courtship lasted, but it couldn’t have been too long before she’d made up her mind, and the marriage was almost immediately followed by WWII, so…..)

                      I’m guessing, since you aren’t growling about your dad’s advice, that he was one of those parents that knows (probably shared) your weaknesses, and helped you adapt for them– that advice to me would’ve been terrible, because once I hit the “we are in a year of waiting” point hell or high water wouldn’t stop me. My folks’ advice was about being careful who you give your loyalty to, because it could break me.
                      My husband’s Good Parent advice was to marry your best friend.
                      Not sure what our kids are going to be like, yet….

                      Incidentally? My parents still get snide comments about being all lovey-dovey, and they’re headed for 40 years soon. So much for the bad idea. 😉

                    9. We did our marriage prep through a retreat weekend, which was an option for folks who wouldn’t necessarily be in the parish area for the required long prep. (We were married after college, and the timing didn’t work out for the long prep.) One of the priests had a really good argument for not getting into hanky panky* before marriage that wasn’t even religious—it basically went into research about relationships where the couple kept house before they got married, and the long-term effects from that. A couple who is being intimate before commitment tends to “use” sex to solve problems, which means when the sex isn’t so good (which happens, let’s be real), they haven’t developed problem-solving strategies, and the problems that haven’t actually been solved start to fester. Most couple arguments for people who haven’t learned relationship strategies aren’t actually about the thing they’re “about.” They’re about the things the couple isn’t talking about.

                      *I really hate the term “sleeping together” as a euphemism. My husband and I slept together before we got married because we were broke college graduates who couldn’t afford things like separate rooms and beds, but we didn’t “sleep together” because it was important to me and my husband is respectful.

                    10. As to the waiting, my dad told me this:
                      If you think you’ve found the girl you just have to marry, wait a year. If you can’t commit to wait a year to get to the marrying part, then you certainly can’t commit to a lifetime of the married part.

                      My counter-comment to that would be this bit of advice that I heard quite a while back –

                      Have a long courtship, and a short engagement.

                      Or in other words, take your time getting to know your potential spouse. You need to take time to figure out whether the person is compatible with you. And you don’t want to rush into things.

                      But engagement is effectively saying, “This is the person I’m going to marry.” At that point, the decision has been made. And if you’re part of a religious denomination that has traditional Christian views on sex, then you’re in a bit of a dangerous spot (the temptation is that since you already know you’re going to get married to each other, just go ahead and try it out).

                      I’m guessing that the pre-wedding classes discussed above typically come post-proposal. As such, dragging them out over a long period of time seems like a particularly bad idea.

                2. My wife and I pretty much had no choice in the matter where we were to marry. It was either at our current church (where we met), or I start the marriage off on the WAAAAAY wrong foot with my future father-in-law. He was the pastor there. 😀 Needless to say, he performed the ceremony. Until the day he died, he insisted that his mind blanked during the ceremony and he did it on autopilot. Seeing as he had a mind like a steel trap, I think he might’ve been pulling our leg. However, she’s a daddy’s girl, through and through (which is making the time since he passed on Veteran’s Day last year rough). Other folks around the community came to him, even if they were members of other churches. He was one of the GOOD ones. Almost 1000 people filled, and overflowed, the 500 seat sanctuary on the day of his funeral. They don’t make many of them like that, anymore.

      3. I had Catholic religious classes during the school day a couple times a week while in 1st through 3rd grade. Had to walk a couple blocks from the public school to the church, and back. Progressives would probably throw 6 kinds of a hissy fit over that nowadays.

      4. Whether that religion is Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Leftist, or Maoist. The only difference is Maoists turn the whole class into that girl.

      5. 𝑂𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑜𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑟 ℎ𝑎𝑛𝑑, 𝑡ℎ𝑜𝑠𝑒 𝑘𝑖𝑛𝑑 𝑜𝑓 𝑝𝑒𝑟𝑠𝑜𝑛𝑠 𝑒𝑥𝑖𝑠𝑡 𝐼𝑀𝑂 𝑖𝑛 𝑒𝑣𝑒𝑟𝑦 𝑟𝑒𝑙𝑖𝑔𝑖𝑜𝑢𝑠 𝑒𝑛𝑣𝑖𝑟𝑜𝑛𝑚𝑒𝑛𝑡.

        They certainly did in Sunday School at the Baptist Church. I showed up one Sunday morning to find a substitute teacher for my Sunday School class. (6th grade, I think.) I’d been away at a Boy Scout campout the previous weekend. The sub introduced herself, then said “So the book says last week you covered the story of Noah. Does anyone want to tell us what you learned?”

        Silence and lots of awkward glances around the room. The substitute teacher was puffing up and I could feel a rant and a repeat of the Noah story coming, so I raised my hand and told the story of Noah.

        “Well, at least SOMEONE was paying attention last week!”

        This was entirely too much for the perfect little girl. “But he wasn’t even HERE last week!”

        Much confusion from the sub and the perfect girl about how I could POSSIBLY know the story of Noah despite having missed the previous week.

        They’re lucky I didn’t give them the Bill Cosby version.

        1. At least at camp they teach you to tread water..
          I, sadly, have a nephew to whom I made some comment about Noah’s Ark and he asked, “Who’s Noah?”
          Free-range New Age parents.

      1. My husband spent most of his trying not to correct the teacher; when he taught, he had to fight to keep them from going way over time. Loving the topic can drag a lot of folks in.

        (Fear the geeks…..)

        1. My parents were teachers; so I always thought it was my duty to correct the teachers, and that of course they would be happy to know the real facts! I don’t think it ever sank in that not everybody felt that way, until I got to college. (Fortunately, my parents usually had me in with good teachers, because they knew everybody by reputation.)

          Unfortunately or fortunately, I didn’t really know all that much about pre-Vatican II doctrine or practices, as a kid. So on the one hand, I didn’t suffer the cognitive problems and stayed innocent of a lot of the stuff going on; but on the other hand, I really wish I had been able to contradict some of the stupider stuff.

          1. I didn’t have anybody picking good teachers– but I DID have a mother that hit “bear” and picked up speed, so I was very polite and earnest when I asked questions, usually assumed I’d been confused, and nobody tried to throw their authority around twice with me.
            (One teacher assumed that my mom spoiled me…got smacked down twice as hard when he tried it on my little brother, because mom was not impressed to be back correcting the science teacher on basic biology.)

            It took me YEARS to figure out what a pain I must have been as a student, and absolutely without malice!

      2. (I spent mine…wondering why we were coloring. Or cutting out felt. Or pictures. or reading inappropriately young storybooks….)

        1. We missed out on a lot, but we did get a lot of Salvation History spread out through the OT and NT. Although two different years covering the Mass, without actually covering a lot of the important bits, was pretty boring.

          And of course, they made us buy Bibles, which enabled me to have plenty to read during the boring parts of class. (I totally ignored the introductions and footnotes, which was a healthy decision about that particular Bible.)

          Finally, I am thankful that they never turfed us out of church to go listen to the “kid’s version” of the Liturgy of the Word. Better bored than dumbed down. (And no kid who has had his First Communion is below the age of reason, so why would you send him out with the toddlers? And how is it a good idea to have a separated herd of toddlers, anyway? Either have a full length nursery/Sunday School during Mass, or not.)

          1. Sure. Get to Heaven and find that all the adults are now in the kiddie section, and all the people who died as infants and children are the ones running the place.

            1. Which means kids in demanding academic programs CAN’T get confirmed, because they can’t take time for retreats etc. Also frankly because all they know of RE is mind numbing veggie tales stuff.
              Ask me how I know.

              1. In my experience, that mind numbing veggie tales stuff can be good for making sure the kids know more about the stories. Catholic RE didn’t impress me in terms of making sure they learned as much about the stories as the Protestant RE I had as a kid. That being said, the Catholic RE my 2 went through did get both of them through First Communion and then Confirmation and hopefully gave them enough grounding that they have something to come back to later.

                1. Protestant RE tends to be Sunday School. The quality varies. Basically, if you’re available to do the job, you’ve got it, which is how I ended up a teacher. The problem is that knowing the material cold does not mean you’re an effective teacher. There’s things beyond presenting info that a teacher has to do. It did not help that I’m not a people person and task oriented. Some incidentals that are not important to me are important to some people, and that can make or break a class.

                  Sometimes the teacher doesn’t know the material cold. The church usually provides teacher’s manuals, but some of the material is questionable. The old standby is to hand out parts to read the lesson and call it a day. But is that really teaching?

                  Most Baptist teachers end up cynical about the literature, which usually comes from Lifeway. The quality is such that I know a Baptist church that writes their own literature. Baptist churches don’t have to use Lifeway, but most do to make sure everyone is on the same page doctrinally. But it I don’t think the literature used at the church where a grandmother was a teacher came from the Baptist Publication Society, and that literature was my intro to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and C.S. Lewis.

                  What’s always bothered me about the literature is the lack of consistency. They tend to take a grasshopper approach, and there’s no real advancement from Youth grades on up. My wife would get constantly irked that her literature would not cover Christmas the Sunday before the event, or Easter on the event, and she’d often come up with her own lessons for those days.

                  Something that really bothers me is a lack of emphasis on why we believe what C.S. Lewis called “mere Christianity.” One Sunday, two upset classmates (I taught an adult class) were distraught over a child running into one of those professors who lived to tear down Christianity, and I set aside the planned lesson that day and gave a quick apologetics summary. There is nothing like that in our literature, and the results is that many grow up in churches and think it all amounts to “because a preacher/priest said so,” when there’s far more to it than that.

                  I haven’t taught in years because I simply was not an effective teacher, and knew it. But I think the preacher noticed me dozing during a sermon, and now I work in the audio/visual room. I have to pop verses on the walls on the fly, so no dozing is possible.

                  1. The truly sad part is the material is already there – curriculum or no. It’s a book that every Christian church in America has dozens of copies of, and is likely in the home of every child in the Sunday School.
                    It simply requires opening it, reading it, and believing it. Some of it requires explanation, but much does NOT (though more of it requires cross-reference to other parts of the same material for true understanding).

                    1. I always stressed that our text was a commentary on the bible and represented one person’s opinion. I stressed that the bible says what it says. Too often you read a commentary and wonder if the writer read the same bible you did.

              2. When would they need to go on retreats? Three years of 1/week classes followed by an exam, and Interrogation Night wherein the Elders grill you on what you believe and scriptural support for same ought to do the trick of making sure that your public declaration of Faith and capacity to understand and partake in the sacraments is a generous plenty.

                But … retreats?

                1. Oh, goodness, no– nothing objective like classes where you’re TAUGHT stuff, exams and questions. Lots of poorly chosen nights of the week spent in “meetings,” or requiring you to hang out at the parish for the whole Sunday (just consider, for a minute, what that does to the parking lot!), and then paying to ship them to one or two Friday afternoon to late Sunday “retreats” that are more like camp. And generally spend more time on the popular, prudential judgment pet topics of the teachers than on the basic, binding teachings of the Church.


                  But gosh, it looks great on paper! *shudder*

                  1. For those thinking this sounds familiar:
                    yep, same pattern as at school. They’re trying to “catch” the folks who are simply not interested, by making it “relevant,” and the idea is as best I can tell that the folks who are interested, or would be if they knew there was anything THERE, will figure it out on their own.

                    Nevermind a few hundred years of evidence suggesting that they need to at least have a hint that there’s a place to find out why we believe what we believe. (Title of a rather decent book, there.)

            2. Some of us weren’t mature enough to make an eternal soul kind of a decision even when we were old enough to drive. Join a club? Sure. Make an unnecessary, permanent, life-altering decision based on incomplete explanations from biased sources? Not so much.

              I put both of my boys through RE. Zero push from Mom and Dad on having to be confirmed. One choose to do so. The other said, not enough proof; and drove the RE instructors absolutely bonkers with “Why?” And none of them or the priest had answers that would satisfy him. I don’t blame him a bit for saying, “Nope, not yet, not now.”

              1. Dude. Here’s where I reveal that YOU HAVE BEEN LIED TO.

                Confirmation is not about making or confirming a decision, or having a Catholic bar mitzvah.

                Confirmation (in the Catholic definition) is the sacrament of having one’s faith strengthened (“confirmare”, to strengthen) by the Holy Spirit against assaults of the world, the flesh, and the Devil. It is the second Sacrament of Initiation, the one that comes right after Baptism on the Eastern side, and which still came before Confession or Communion on the Western side. Obviously you confer it on adults as soon as they come in; but Confirmation is ideally supposed to be conferred _before_ a child reaches the age of reason.

                Now, it is also the “seal” on Baptism, and formally asks for the person to receive all Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit, and whatever minor charismatic gifts are sitting around. But strengthened faith, and protection against demons, are also big gifts. And people need them long before they are old enough to drive and date.

                Finally, if a person is Catholic and has been baptized, and isn’t providing some kind of open scandal and being unrepentant enough, it is his absolute right to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation, freely and without anyone standing in the way. Because it is super-basic, and because it is all about protection and initiation. There are supposed to more bars to receiving First Communion than Confirmation, and First Communion’s restrictions have been greatly lowered for good reasons.

                What some US bishops have done to this simple, profound Sacrament is a disgrace, and it’s wonderful that some of the younger bishops have started to go back to the old order of Sacraments.

                Being without Confirmation throughout one’s childhood is like being spiritually malnourished.

                1. Catholic confirmation is it’s own thing.

                  Lutheran confirmation (which is more like marriage than baptism) is quite another

                  All the other confirmations are… something else again.

                  Third year Lutheran confirmation class: what Lutherans teach, what other faiths teach, and why we’re right 🙂

                  (Yes, I’m joking. But thanks to my teachers, I can make a vigorous and theologically sound defense most times)

                  1. Well, they’re supposed to be different things… but there were folks moving us over to the Lutheran model, but without the Lutheran memorization, or apologetics classes, or bupkis.

                    I have some of my mom’s old textbooks, and Catholic apologetics used to be something that even the little kids got a little bit about. (Because Catholic kids used to get a lot of pressure to convert. And in many places, they still do, but the apologetics were largely dropped after Vatican II because Happy Clappy does not include apologetics.) I’m happy to see a lot of Catholic religious ed bringing back substantial teaching and including apologetics.

                    1. The term “Happy Clappy” reminds me of what an old Baptist preacher said when he heard about a church that used a clown on the bus: “If it takes a clown to get them to church, it takes a clown to keep them there.”

                    2. A few years ago, long after I got married, my mother came across a book on what got lost in RE after VII. She apologized to me about how crappy my RE was growing up. She thought it was still like what she had growing up in the 50’s and early 60’s. Probably explains why I’m less concerned about where I’m worshiping than that I’m actually worshiping.

                  2. Lutheran confirmation isn’t even supposed to be what it is. Luther’s Small Catechism is supposed to be for HOME USE to catechize the child (and strengthen the whole family). A church class is really just supposed to reinforce that.

                    Sadly, that is NOT what happens with most catechumens.

                2. Forgot to say that, once a Catholic kid is past the age of reason, it’s his right to make his own decisions about Sacraments. But most kids don’t know that at the age of seven… while they do know it by the age of 16. I’m the kind of kid who did know it at the age of 7, but I guess it didn’t occur to me that anybody wouldn’t want to receive First Communion. (And I don’t think anybody was unwilling. We did a lot of coloring, but the prep was a lot better than what we got for Confirmation.)

                  Anyway, you can see that I feel strongly about it! It was a weird kind of info that was passed out to Catholic kids of that generation. Sort of like being anti-vaccination.

        2. I spent most of church trying to illustrate the book of Revelation. This caused a certain amount of concern among the adults, what with all the heads and stars and beasts and dragons and locusts…

            1. I credit/blame Revelation for getting me interested in sci-fi to start with. Between that and Tolkien, I never had a chance.

          1. Oooh, have you seen the “adult coloring books” from Daniel Mitsui?

            Saw it on one of the Catholic news things I follow, did a little interview and he got started because he does elaborate illumination type artwork and was giving the stuff that he messed up on to his kids.

            We bought three (pricy, we’ll do copies until I’m sure Eldest will be properly respectful, then get more for the littles– he definitely earns his money, but the idea of half the book ruined because LittleSister Got It is painful) and he’s got free pages for printing, too.


          2. Eye twitches. “Revelation.”

            There was an eschatology fad that coincided with the end of the Vietnam War and Watergate (make of that what you will). My eyes start to glaze when someone starts to discuss Revelation and Daniel’s seventy weeks.

            1. I was raised Lutheran (ALC and LCA; very little exposure to the German synods). Confirmation and Sunday school were an approximation of religious education; my half-century memory mostly points out the bits where Martin Luther deviated from the Catholic church, with bits a pieces of bible study.

              One fun, but kind of odd session was trying to deconstruct Revelation; as I recall it was “what kind of wild stuff can we do with this book?” I don’t recall anybody asking if John were on LSD, but that kind of comment would have fit in. that discussion.. I’d rate the entire confirmation experience as roughly as educational as study hall. Decent Bible; I still like the RSV, though I have a few translations on the shelf.

              Misplaced my faith after a couple of deaths in the family hit hard. Grampa Pete–Mon’s dad, and a bit over a year later, my own father. Pretty much found it again years later, but the local churches aren’t great. Was active in one for 5 years, but the stress levels were way too high. When AFIB gets painful, that’s a strong sign for me. $SPOUSE now watches Dr. Stanley on Sunday Mornings. I’ll crack a bible on occasion.

              1. Revelation makes a lot more sense, once you realize that John was quoting the Septuagint almost the whole time (which is why his Greek seems weird – it’s cut and paste quotes doing it), and that he was really big into all the Prophets and all their memorable imagery. (And that’s why I really like Beatus of Liebana’s Commentary on the Apocalypse, because it brings out all sorts of prophetic commentary.)

                It also helps to know about the whole Jewish idea that the earth was a cosmic Temple, but only reflected the perfect Temple which was Heaven. Among other things, John transposes this to the Eucharist, and shows the connection between Christian worship on Earth and the perfect Christian worship in Heaven.

                (It also helps to know that being “in the Spirit” was an expression associated with many Christian activities, one of which was saying Mass. John is traditionally having his vision while saying Mass on Patmos on the Lord’s Day.)

                1. It also helps to know that it’s a spiral revelation, not linear. Each occurrence is talking about the same sort of thing, not a different set of events.
                  And, that it was written to the churches currently suffering persecution, not directly to the future church.

            2. Lord. We had Prophecy Week once a year at my church-affiliated school. I still remember the 40-foot roll-out chart. *shudder*

          3. what with all the heads and stars and beasts and dragons and locusts

            Reminds me of junior high – one of the other girls in class decided to draw …Ehud’s assassination of Eglon of Moab, I think… in the style of those “Precious Moments” figurines.

            It ended up showing more of a dismemberment than an impalement, but the style was perfectly executed.

            1. I detest Precious Moments with every fiber of my slightly-battered being. I support this girl wholeheartedly.

          4. I’ve always thought that, if I was going to be dealing with Lovecraftian entities, that I would want people with me who believed in the books of Ezekiel and Revelation. Because once you accept that the four-faced creatures are real, seeing a Mi-go is much less likely to make you fail your SAN check.

              1. As has been mentioned by all good apologists I know who’ve touched the subject–
                There’s only one mention of someone meeting an angel, who wasn’t in extreme disguise, and not going all blue-screen.

                And that person was a teenage girl the angel’s boss thought was good enough to be Himself’s human mother!

                1. I’m in a *mood*…. thus

                  o/` Blue screens… laughing at me….
                  Nothing but blue screens.. do I see… o/`

                  (Well, not anymore. Haven’t run that thing in aaaages. And I cuss a LOT less at computing machinery, oddly enough… Except for Skype… gee, who sucked up Skype? Yeah… guess which is the ONE program I need to edit config files to make tolerable? Yeah. Enough irony for some high grade steel. Or, given the party involved, steal.)

                  1. Now I’ll be humming that all day. Totally sharing with my husband.

                    Ironic thing: earlier this week, AMD was making a ton of noise about how awesome their processors are because the new exploit doesn’t touch them.

                    Well, turns out that it does.

                    And… that the patches cause bluescreens, because AMD provided inaccurate information about their processors to the folks making patches….

                    (Which explains some of the issues that gamers have had with AMD.)

              2. There’s a reason that often the first thing an angel says is “Fear Not”. 😀

                1. The kids in the youth class that my daughter and I teach have pretty much got that part down cold. It was interesting to see when each of them caught on to the point.

                  1. Makes sense. People that merit an angelic visit are usually humble enough to be very much aware of their spiritual weaknesses and shortcomings. “Fear not” basically amounts to, “Calm down. I’m not here to punish you. This time.”


              3. … I am so tempted to read, because I want to see how the author depicts “perception-breaking”.

                On the other hand, “Bible fanfic” as a concept makes me want to break out the Holy Water and blessed Crucifix (and maybe the Inquisition for good measure) and I’m not even Catholic

                1. *chuckles* This is more like “pious fiction” than some of the gnostic stuff– sort of like the re-telling of various Bible stories in novel format. It can be really good or really bad, and tells you more about the person writing it than the original story, but it’s sometimes very helpful.

                  Stuff like this cartoon of Saint Valentine:
                  (there’s more, I’ll post them separate)

        3. I have my second child in First Communion prep, and one of the things that drives me ABSOLUTELY BONKERS is the mandatory once-a-month parent and child sessions. They’re way too weighted towards the coloring and felt, and Sister is really bad at telling us to explain something and then interrupting us every thirty seconds to expand on what she said. So there’s both too much time for the topic and not enough, since she keeps derailing everybody.

          She’s a sweet lady, but oh lordy she’s got me thinking homicidal thoughts.

          1. When I carefully asked about religious education in my homeschool group, I got a respectful silence and then they started to explain the weres and hows of doing it yourself, and making it official. 😉

            1. weres and hows
              Well, homeschooling *is* appropriate for those who don’t fit in with more “traditional” schooling methods……..
              (Had a MHI image pop into my head with that typo. 🙂 )

              1. I confess having to search out the specific linkage for hows as I was not entirely trusting of my memory’s associations (it hangs with a bad lot), but:

                howe or how
                [hou] Scot. and North England
                1. a hole.
                2. the hold of a ship.
                3. a hollow; dell.

            2. There are parts of canon law dealing with how you can not deny the sacraments to a properly disposed Catholic.

              1. For which I am girding my loins, because I’m expecting a “volunteer” requirement.

                Which my kids do fulfill, but dear Lord am I not going to risk them thinking they can BUY sacraments!

                1. No, you work an indenture to get Sacraments. Ptui.

                  (In my day, you had to do a couple hours of volunteer work, and it wasn’t a requirement but an enrichment project, “chust for nice.” The idea was that kids would try things and get interested, not that they’d reinvent the corvee and drive out adult volunteers.)

                  1. I am almost looking forward to someone trying to tell me they’re not allowed to pray the rosary for the salvation of souls, because they want “real” volunteer work.

                    ….I suspect that I may give off my mom’s aura, and it will somehow not be mentioned.

            3. This particular sister is obnoxious about trivial things. I understand the need for not having missed classes and tardies, but the thing where “these are the only two masses for mandatory enrollment, what’s important to you,” is really obnoxious when it conflicts with things that were literally scheduled months before. Gee, if it’s important, you think you could maybe tell us sooner than a few days before?

        4. Most of my CCD teachers were…let’s be kind and say poorly trained. One was a Vietnam Vet who I’m pretty sure was still trying to work things out in the real world. One was a college student that had a very difficult time answering any question at all. The only ones I can think of that were any good were Mrs. Zahn (3rd grade), the mother of my first ‘girlfriend’ – we went to the park and had icecream while watching the geese in the pond in 5th grade – and the couple who started out as a Seminary student and a nun (5th grade) before getting married.

          It probably didn’t help that my class is the one that kept getting put off on the confirmation course. When we were in 3rd grade they bumped it from 4th to 5th grade. In 4th, they bumped it to 7th. In 6th, they bumped it to 9th. I finally got confirmed as a Junior in High School. I think they had a problem finding people to fill the slot. We had nothing at all my Freshman and Sophomore years.

      1. My husband and I both giggle because one of our priests uses the standards where he says “The mass has ended” and everyone is supposed to answer “Thanks be to God.”

        It is the dramatically appropriate priest, too. *snickers*

          1. Thankfully, I avoided that ending when I was a kid, somehow, I would’ve gotten yelled at– the one that I remember being used most often was “the Mass is ended; go forth in peace to love and serve the Lord.”

            I wonder if he doesn’t realize the joke, given how many masses are done in Spanish….

            1. My favorite priest growing up was a chain smoker. His masses were always the quickest because he needed a cigarette. It was rare that his masses went 45 minutes. He’s also the priest that played cards and drank with my grandfather.

            2. We got the Aaronic blessing*

              My sister’s church has a pastor with a gorgeous baritone, so we sang the whole Christmas Liturgy together.

              *yes, I can sing that too 🙂

    2. I was sent to Sunday School for a while, but took to wandering around the Church instead. It was mostly mildly religious day care. It offended me that we weren’t reading the Bible and actually, you know, STUDYING Christianity. Instead the Happy Happy’s had taken over. Busy being Relevant, I suppose.


      I quit after the year I was dragooned into both the Public School Cristmas Choir and the Sunday School Christmas Choir, and they were singing most of the same Charols and none of the same arrangements.

        1. We went to see Dogma when it was released. We were obviously the only Catholics in the theater, because we were laughing at all sorts of points that the rest of the theater wasn’t. (Especially the golf clubs. We knew EXACTLY which priest at our college would do that.)

  3. Well, there is a SF gulag but “they are living in the one they created”. 😈

    1. Hmmm. PorcFest in northern New Hampshire with all the Free Staters might get close to being a gulag of kinda independent thinkers. Now if you could get a ten thousand convention goers of conservative bent and fundamental geekiness somewhere in downtown Boston, that would be impressive. I don’t think Boskone is conservative enough.

        1. Chattanooga is a bit of a hike. Too bad my Dad’s not alive anymore because that would be a good reason to visit him more. OTOH, that would be a good excuse to visit the wife’s cousin in Huntsville more. Spend the week puttering around the Rocket center, then take in the weekend in the Scenic City. Hmmmm.

          1. If you’re considering it, you should decide quickly LC fills up extremely quickly (I don’t know how many slots are still available at this time).

            1. Looks like the website 2018 just came on. Even their forums only have 37 registered atm. I see Findcons says LC only takes 500 maximum number of participants; so early registration is a great idea.

              Unfortunately, that’s the same week end as USFA Summer Nationals fencing in St Louis. While it’s not a given that I’ll qualify, I have qualified for the past 2 years and I’ll do so again this year; but won’t know until the April 14th tournament.

              While I could register early anyway to keep the option open, I don’t think that would be fair. If there’s still room after 4/14 and I didn’t qualify, then we’ll see.

              1. I think (don’t quote me) that they upped the max number to 750. Still, they’re usually about half taken within a few days of registration opening, so registering as early as possible is a good idea.

          2. Mike I’m pretty certain Boskone is not conservative, nor is it likely to have been so in a VERY long time. Given I live on the “North Shore” of
            Massachusetts it sounds like we might be almost neighbors.
            As for the NASA visitor center in Huntsville its not bad (been there), but you’ll probably need no more than a day for it. The big fun was the rocket garden which had some interesting stuff.

            1. I can spend a whole day just in the Huntsville Botanical gardens. Plus there’s the battlefield and other sights around Chattown to keep busy gawking at.

              1. I’ve had (not firm) plans to make a detailed visit to the Chickamauga battlefield using Matt Spruill’s guide written for the US Army War College:

                Anyone interested in finding a mutually acceptable date and making a Huns and Hoydens outing of it?

      1. “Because in the USSR, I know who I was and where I belonged, and so did other people,” paraphrasing some of those who escaped, then went back.

  4. “You can’t sit at the cool table with us…”

    [shrug] “Never wanted to anyway–you kids are boring as all get-out. The vo-tech guys are the fun ones…”

    1. I was invited to hang out with the cool kids for a while in Middle School. I eventually ditched the group because I got sick of spending all of my lunch periods in the bathroom while they redid their makeup.

      I think everyone was happier when I went off and did my own thing and left them to do theirs.

      1. There’s a group of Elder Statesfaans (who shall remain nameless) who hold decorous parties, and occasionally invite someone new to vet for their group. (They actually describe it that way.) Early in my faanish career I got an invite to one of their afternoon parties. Once. I have never been so bored, so it’s just as well I didn’t make the cut.

  5. JKR would now be in a heap o’ TROUBLE for gender appropriation, writing a boy’s point of view.

    Let us remember that if they WANT to close themselves off, they are doing it to themselves, of their own committee’s free will, and the assent of their supporters.

    1. I dunno. Seems that the stack means you can write any of the “more privileged” groups because the info is in the culture miasma. The oppressed groups are only authentic when written by them, though.

      1. You can apparently appropriate hoop earrings, so a social construct doesn’t seem like that much of a stretch.

  6. I think I was that little girl, or at least, I was standing in the way of that little girl and taking her rightful place. (Which might be why I got so much adverse attention from certain other girls, come to think of it.) I was knowledgeable and (hopefully) pious, but I didn’t really care to police anybody’s behavior but my own. Also, I wasn’t much of a smiler, and it made me look very strange on Photo Day.

    There was that time when I won the essay contest and I was supposed to read it at Mass during the homily time (which kinda scandalized me) at a Mass that parents were going to attend. It was an essay about the importance of Catholic schools. I wrote a good essay, but I did add a little thing before I read it. The bit where I explained how school and the various unjust practices going on there made me want to kill myself, but that religion class had taught me that suicide was wrong. And therefore, I would resolutely not kill myself, because I wanted to go to Heaven, not Hell.

    There were apparently a lot of dissatisfied parents already, and I guess things sorta blew up after that, unless I’ve got the chronology wrong. There was an investigation, and a lot of the dysfunctional practices and people went away. It was a really bathetic essay, as I realized even at the time; and I wish I had done a less self-serving job of it; but it did get something done. (And I didn’t suffer any retribution from it, to the parish and school’s credit.)

    1. Whoosh.
      And they probably didn’t do that particular bit of showmanship again….

      Glad it turned out well.

      (For those wondering, in a Catholic Mass, there are a lot of restrictions on who can give the homily for actually rather good reasons I won’t bore anybody with. 😀 I am pretty sure a deacon or non-celebrant priest can do it without the Bishop’s OK, but all the examples I’ve been at where a deacon was talking, the Bishop was the celebrant. The normal way to do a Very Special Thing like this is to wait until the Mass has ended and then have someone do it during the announcements…which I think is still technically not OK, but is just recognizing that when the priest gets up to walk down the isle half of the parish is going to be out the door before he reaches it!)

      1. It might be a diocesan thing. I grew up at a church that regularly had a deacon doing homilies (very good ones, too—he was fond of stories that were open-ended parables, and he was a religion teacher at my high school). And my current church has the deacon do homilies on a regular basis as well. Generally anyone outside the usual folk is going to be a visiting priest. And yes, they will do other speeches/whatever at the announcements point, though they usually keep those pretty short. (I once gave a short speech about joining the choir, which IIRC included the line “Many of these folk have been with the choir since it started 25 years ago. Some of them would like to retire.”)

        1. I went and looked it up– the regulation is either a priest or deacon, and there isn’t an exception, it’s a matter of holy orders. After a homily, they can call someone up to talk, but it’s “strongly suggested” that it be put off until after communion, to avoid confusing the homily with the talk.

          *sigh* If I thought the bishop in that area would care, I’d write in!

          1. Our announcements are literally the last thing before the final benediction and the walk down the aisle. And the priests have made a few snarky comments about how Mass continues after Communion, or how going forth in peace means don’t be a jerk getting out of the parking lot.

            1. Ooh, reminds me of another good one, but my memory isn’t perfect on it– something like:
              “it is a blessing that we don’t have to go to confession for venial sins*, because none of us would be able to receive communion after dealing with the parking lot each Sunday!”

              * that’s what the (literal) breast-beating and saying either mia culpa(sp) or “through my fault, through my fault, through my own fault/most grievous fault” thing is about. Sins that are still sins, but not really big ones. Probably the most well known part of mass not involving anybody in a funny hat.

              1. My church’s music is an occasion to sin, but I happily have volunteer jobs that keep me busy serving my brother’s and sisters in Christ until it’s over and the service begins.

          2. Yup. Although technically, it’s okay for the priest or deacon to say “Blah blah, homily over… and now, a word from our parish council!” But it’s tacky. Much better to wait until announcements, if you must do it.

            (It’s also allowable to have announcements or congregational music practice right before Mass, but it’s tacky because people are trying to pray and prepare themselves for Mass. Although these days, a lot of people are yakking and don’t want to be interrupted. Either way, it’s not a good time.)

      2. Sometimes you really have to wing it in a Catholic parish. I was a tag along for the wife’s choir, then got dragged into the lay Eucharistic minister job. The real kicker was the year wife and I were the ONLY ministers to show up for the early Easter Mass and I got stuck singing duo with wife, doing both readings, passing out hosts with the Priest, and doing the hospitality ministry afterwards. It’s not so much that I’m a terrible Catholic (I am), but that really illustrates that other people need to step up themselves to serve. Servant slave.

        1. *shudder* Holy cow, the Volunteer Mafia LET that happen?

          The one thing I hated about our last parish was that you couldn’t volunteer, not unless you had some sort of an “in” already. My husband basically got dragged into teaching religious ed by the priest politely ignoring the ladies, and if we’d stayed he could’ve gotten us in to more common service through the Knights, but…well, I only tied to show up for the food pantry once, we’ll say. They REALLY needed someone who could pack more than five pounds at a time, but it was made clear I was Not Welcome.

          Current parish has figured out an even better way to discourage volunteers: require multiple, expensive classes, on top of the “safe environment” ones, that require multiple days off of work to complete.


          1. Oh yeah. When the diocese said everyone had to have youth protection training yearly and wouldn’t accept the Boy Scouts youth protection training in its place, I said, “No thanks.” Of course when BSA decided that they wanted to do yearly background investigations and youth protection training yearly for all the merit badge counsellors, I had them take me off the list. If just enforcing the policy of no one-one leader-scout interactions wasn’t enough (1 leader, 2 or more scouts, or 1 scout and two or more leaders present); no amount of training would solve the problem. And I have enough problems with the Surveillance Police State of America as it is.

            1. Ugh, at least the VIRTUS program is only once, only like twenty bucks, and actually has some useful information.

              I was rather startled at how pretty much all of the things to watch out for were the same as for terrorism.

              1. The FBI has a list of reading material that might be found while investigating the residence of a suspected terrorist. At least 75% of it is on my shelves…

                1. I believe we’ve pointed out before that wolves and sheep-dogs are rather similar in their interests and habits, with one really big difference….

                  My husband got me to notice what motorcycles are likely to be an issue by telling me to look for the ones that rode like cops, and never pull over if I saw some in a parking area.
                  It’s pretty dang effective.

                  1. …how do cops ride? I am now madly curious, having never noticed much of a difference. (My usual motorcycle interactions being “eeek, small moving thing with unprotected driver BE VERY VERY CAREFUL”.)

                    1. It’s not 100%– sort of like you CAN’T really get 100% of veterans by how they walk– but I picture it as the difference between moving with a heavy jacket, a heavy belt, a re-enforced helmet, sometimes a vest under all of that, a bike that is really heavy and awareness that you’ve got a mic in your ear so even beyond enforcing the law, you’ve got to keep yourself alert because you CAN’T HEAR cars.

                      Now compare that to the guy in a t-shirt on a crotch rocket.

                      The cop is kinda stiff– the “normal” guy is all loopy.

                      This does get a false positive on both veterans and guys with major back problems, but they’re not usually pulled over in very small groups at rest areas.

                    2. My online encounters with motorcyclists have a distressing rate of stories about how people in cars and trucks either don’t see them or make eye contact and then actively try to kill them, and my in-person ones have a distressing rate of “Eeek, small moving thing with unprotected driver who is ZOOMING UP THE LANE DIVIDER BETWEEN TRAFFIC.”


                    3. Likewise. I always want to pull over and thank the guys who are driving like they realize they’re pretty much playing in traffic. (With bicycles, I have actually done that! Guy was signaling, wearing all the protective gear he’s supposed to, very easy to see, and was only in a 35mph zone because that was the only way across the freeway.)

                    4. Which is legal in CA, provided traffic is moving less than 35. That extra provision always seemed to get lost (I spent 2 years driving up around Pendleton, and the fact that the Marines weren’t having more casualties from motorcycle accidents than combat always seemed like a special miracle….).

                    5. Wow, even I had no idea about the 35mph part– possibly in part because even the cops don’t follow it, but woof.

                      (I nearly took a van off the road when someone zipped between it and the simi, and my first hint was seeing a police helmet by my elbow. he was RIGHT THERE against the dang line so I was kinda focused)

          2. Some years ago, I had the opposite problem. Community church, actually part of the Friends (the Pac NW group is a hair more conservative than the eastern ones…), but attendance was dropping from 30 people to under a dozen. Didn’t help that the minister at the time was a SJW, who actually did a sermon “God is an Environmentalist”. In a county devastated by logging bans.

            I volunteered to help and got stuck with everything. The SJW left in a huff after getting some pointed criticism, and the lay minister who replaced him managed to be worse in a different way. My heart was screaming at me (AFIB isn’t always painful, but when it is, it’s a sign.) I left, politely but finally. Last attendance at that time was 6 or so.

            A couple months later we were told that “another member had died and would we come to the funeral, and by the way, nothing is getting done around the church since Pete isn’t doing it”. Fortunately for all concerned, $SPOUSE took the call and said she’d pass the info on. We didn’t go.

            I’ve seen a few other congregations in that group; some are thriving. No expectation of that for this church.

              1. The smaller the congregation, the more people tend to be encouraged to help out. My parents ended up getting drafted, although they mostly managed to avoid that when in a large parish. 🙂

                But yeah, sometimes you get power-hungry people, or people who mean well but have a bad tendency to drink the Kool-Aid at liturgy workshops. So you get stuff like, “Members of the choir shouldn’t do any readings, or they should have to sit in the congregation and avoid choir that week. Because nobody can have two liturgical functions!” Or “The congregation doesn’t know when to sing the response to the psalm unless you raise your arm and wave it around!”

                Of course, all this regulation was pulled out of their butts, and has no support in current or previous canon law. Which is why I ignore it.

                I like doing the readings. I read them like they’re interesting, because they usually are. But since circumstances have me going to a university-based chapel instead of a regular parish, I agree with the schedulers that usually the students should be doing it. I don’t want to be That Person who keeps pretending she’s still in college. They always need folks during the semester breaks, anyway, and being in the choir is plenty to do.

              1. Yep. This was a community church, and the services were largely a mix of what everybody brought in; the majority of the congregation were not Quakers, and the ministers didn’t have to be. (One was Episcopal, the next Quaker, the next — not sure.)

  7. No need I brought ham sandwiches.

    Ham sandwiches? HAM sandwiches? You wicked child!

    Fish sandwiches, turkey sandwiches, roast beef with Swiss on rye, okay, but never HAM sandwiches.

      1. Sadly, I didn’t hear most of the good Bible and Catholic jokes until I grew up. This demonstrates just how much discontinuity there was, back in the Seventies.

        1. I grew up on Baptist jokes. Some preachers thought it showed they weren’t full of themselves.

          1. Likewise- most of the religious jokes I’ve heard were from the pulpit on Sunday mornings. Must be a Baptist thing.

            1. It’s supposed to be an ice breaker, just like any speaker. And, just like any speaker, some are better at it than others. Some would be funny if we hadn’t heard them so many times.

              OTOH, it was one Sunday on Independence Day when, after the service, our preacher asked for us to sing the first verse of the Star Spangled Banner, and when we were done, said “Gentlemen, start your engines – and go home.”

              Will confess to giving the following to a Church of God friend: “Just once I’d like to get to the Dairy Queen before the Baptists.”

              1. In northern Maine, full of country Baptist churches, we Lutherans always had a nice lunch with our choice of tables in the restaurants, for about a half hour before the Baptists showed up. 🙂

                  1. So that’s why pastors have such long prayers after the sermon. 😉

                    1. A Baptist boy goes to Mass with a friend, who explains the meaning of each movement and accessory as they come up.

                      Next week the Catholic boy goes to church with his friend. The preacher stands up, goes to the pulpit, takes out his pocket watch, and sets it beside his Bible.

                      “What does that mean?” The Catholic boy asks.

                      “That don’t mean nothin,'” his friend replies.

              2. That would be one more way to induce sleep for me. Since I don’t watch sports and tend towards the nocturnal (and am.. chronologically gifted?), the tune (outside of parades, etc.) means “This is the end of our broadcast day…”

            2. In a televised Baptist church service many years ago, when the preacher called the children down for “children’s church” before the sermon, he asked “What’s your favorite part of church?”

              The first answer was a little girl who said “When it’s over.”

          2. Seems like every where I go, I see signs saying First Baptist Church of such and such. Almost drove off the road in Maine in surprise this weekend when I drove past a sign saying Second Baptist Church.

            1. They’re not *that* uncommon. Usually in larger towns, like the Second National Bank.

    1. Most likely He brought Mutton, Lettuce and Tomato sandwiches, where the mutton is nice and lean and the tomatoes are ripe.

      1. Welllll…..

        Tomatoes are from the Americas so wouldn’t be around in the Middle East at that time.

        OH, Am I a nit-picker?

        Yes, how did you guess? 👿

    2. Ham sandwiches mean you don’t have to share with the orthodox Jewish or Muslim kids.

    3. That’s what I was thinking. Sarah deserved to be tattled on… Jesus would have stayed kosher.

    4. Beef with cheese? Hmmm . . .

      Reminds me of the prep for my Bad Boat Ride – Skipper (Jewish fella) brought us all ham & cheese sammiches for lunch one day. When I twigged him on it, he said he’d check with his rabbi on the propriety thereof, said personage we would probably find dining on a bacon cheeseburger. Apparently, his congregation was *not* orthodox . . .

      1. Yeah, cheeseburgers are not kosher. That whole not boiling the kid (baby goat) in its mother’s milk thing. Although thinly sliced, hot, BBQ goat gyros are yummy!

        1. Sounds tasty, though I must admit to (knowingly) eaten goat one time, the night before I left the U.S. for Panama for the first time. And quite the excursion it was . . .

          1. Site we were at in the desert had a vendor come in once a week. Always checked his truck for bombs. Don’t know how or if someone checked his meat supply for pathogens; but nobody apparently got sick from eating it.

            1. Headed to the sandbox in ’91 as a contractor, spent a week at Aberdeen Proving Grounds doing in-processing. One of the lectures was basically, “Never never never . . . eat on the economy. *Always* eat in an Uncle Sam-approved dining facility.” Since we were living and working off-base, that was a bit difficult to arrange. Besides, where’s the fun in that? And none of our guys ever had a problem. In fact, IIRC the only time one of our guys *got* sick was after eating in the PX snackbar in Khobar Towers.

              1. Heh, in Thailand, we were looking for a place to eat that wasn’t a street vendor (we were on a weekend trip from the exercise). Everyone else decided finally to eat at the 7-11 on the corner, while I went down to the street vendor. I got a huge heaping plate of hot kaow pad gai (chicken fried rice) and a bottle of water for about 75¢. It was delicious.

                I was the only one not sick the next day. 🙂

                1. Was that in Pattaya Beach?. Did you happen to dine at the Pizza Hut there? Perhaps the strangest pizza I’ve ever had: pepperoni and sausage – Vienna sausage. Mmmmm . . . tasty! :-/

                  And I’ve often wondered how much, or if, Pizza Hut corporate ever got from that establishment in franchise fees.

                  1. Nah, this was out at the Phi Mai temple site. We had finished the tour and were looking to eat before we left for the next stop (IIRC, it was an elephant ride).

                    There was a Pizza hut in Korat (where we were stationed every time I went), too. I think I ate there once in several trips. But it was a boon to “Skippy” who couldn’t handle Thai food. (He received that call sign because he packed PB and a couple of loaves of white bread every time we went to Thailand.)

                    We did eat (and drink) often at the Mexican restaurant in town. And the good German restaurant in town (there was also a meh one). Because even Thai food needs some variety mixed in.

          2. Goat is yummy. If your county has a local farm tour, the local goatfarmers will probably serve you goat. That’s also how you get to try ostrich and such.

  8. Indeed. I was a cool kid for a while in grade school, and then teenager happened and that was that. I hung out with the nerds and ROTC nerds from then on, when I wasn’t hiding in a sympathetic teacher’s classroom.

    If LibertyCon is the gulag, then the guards certainly are, um, lacking in observation and insight. “We’ll banish them to a little Con” where there’s a gun-range day as a warmup to the Con starting, and the dealers include people who sell lots of sharp, pointy things that have real, functional blades (and politically incorrect but historically accurate tee-shirts). And where one is encouraged not to leave one’s mind at the door.

  9. If I grasp this argument correctly, what you are saying is that the “New Wave” of literary SF writers and fans are an invasive species, appropriating a geek culture that their only contribution to was forcing geeks into a genre/gulag?

      1. I think I remember SF getting attention via courses in modern lit at colleges some time in the ’80s. Didn’t have first hand experience, but it was probably mentioned in Analog or Omni. If I had twigged onto the significance, I could have made a killing in Grey Goo futures. .

        1. Yeah, I took a SF & F course in college. The year before it had been one quarter of SF and then another quarter of F, but we switched to semesters and they rolled them into one course.

          Brave New World
          The Left Hand of Darkness
          The Tempest
          The Odyssey

          Really? Haven’t most of us interested in SF/F already read most of these?

        2. My anthro course on Contemporary Native American cultures actually had a more interesting reading list. Introduced me to Tony Hillerman’s books, which I got my mother and a couple of my aunts hooked on.

          1. English Rhetoric (aka 101) in 1970, the TA assigned Cat’s Cradle. That kind of stuck in memory. (I had to read Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, but beyond my naming the gas grill “Max”, it had little effect.)

    1. How do we use that? They’re culturally appropriating SF. Hmmmm….. wicked thought required here……………

      1. They’re doing their utmost to drive out the native fans. Notice how they denounce the genre’s founding authors and editors.

        1. David Burge’s description of the leftist modus operandi;

          1. Identify a respected institution.
          2. kill it.
          3. gut it.
          4. wear its carcass as a skin suit, while demanding respect.

          Which of course only works if the institution is the important part of the concept. In this case it just means we all left for a different institution.

          1. Thing is, eventually the SJWs will follow. WorldCon and the rest will whither and fade, so the SJWs will go to where the fans are. Then they’ll infiltrate as they always do, offer “helpful” advice that turns out to be poisonous, and generally work their way into positions of authority. And the whole cycle will start over again.

            1. Trust me when I tell you this–it will never happen to LibertyCon. Forewarned is forearmed.

              1. Well, you’ve probably met the family that runs it. Uncle Timmy is good people, and his daughter takes after him pretty well (her husband is a decent sort, too, from what I can tell).

  10. I get my best religious jokes from my pious Lutheran friend. 🙂 I have to admit that I didn’t hear any of these wonderful jokes until I left home.

      1. We heard the best ones from our pastor also … like the one about Jesus rescuing the woman who was about to be stoned for committing adultery, And He gets to the line about “Let he who is without sin among you, cast the first stone.”
        And a large stone comes out of the crowd, and clonks Him on the side of the head … and he sighs in exasperation: “Mother!”

        1. *claps* Oh, totally stealing!

          There’s a cartoon going around– shows the Virgin Mary looking very exasperated, and a maybe 3 year old Jesus by her knee, tugging on her sleeve, going “mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom!”

          The first rosary.

          1. “There have only been two perfect people in the history of the world, and Joseph had to deal with both of them. That is why he is a saint.”

            1. I am going to challenge the “Mary was innocent of sin” idea, although I am not going to delve into the source material. My understanding of the necessity for His Incarnation and Crucifixion is that no human could be totally free of sin.

              Mary’s perfection may be a Catholic thing, but I find the premise dubious.

              1. It is a Catholic Thing but this isn’t the place to argue about it.

                Said by a Baptist. 😉

                1. *grin* He did give me a great opening to drop where folks who are curious can get information, WITHOUT having to spend time going “aaargh, I don’t know enough to know if this source is worth a crud!” (the main thing that bugs me when researching religious issues)

              2. I’ve heard it said that she was protected from being inherently sinful, but she well could have fallen into sin eventually were it not for her son.

          2. Michelangelo was atop the scaffold painting the Sistine Chapel when he heard someone below him. He looks down, sees a little old woman praying and fingering her rosary, and decides to have some fun. He leans over and says “Hello, this is Jesus.”

            The woman pays him no mind, and continues praying.

            Michelangelo says, a little louder “Hello, this is Jesus.”

            The woman continues to pray.

            Michelangelo takes a deep breath and yells “Hello, this is Jesus!”

            The woman jerks her head toward the ceiling and says “Be quiet; I’m talking to your mother.”

            1. In history, the Jewish folk didn’t have a king married to a queen. They had a king married to his wife and his mother would be referred to as the Queen—and the people would go to her with problems, asking her to take them to the king. And the king would treat her with respect, because she was his mother.

              Mary as the Queen of Heaven makes a lot more sense in this context, and is why Catholics pray to her. “Could you maybe bring this up with your son?”

              1. A quick search through the Hebrew Bible for words translated as “queen” (מלכה, גבירה, and their variants) does not bear this out. Even ignoring the hundred or so instances of “Queen” in Esther (and the references to idolatrous worship of the “Queen of the Heavens” in Jeremiah), there are about equal number of each word used both for queen mother and queen consort. The King’s wife is not always called Queen, but that’s not the same thing.

                (Interestingly, the only queen regnant in Israel or Judea, Athaliah, is not called “Queen” anywhere I can find.)

                1. It’s not based off of a text, it’s based off of the tradition and customs of the time and area. (plus a focus on the throne of David, and some other stuff like Revelations)

                  Explained (in part) here, if you’re interested in the reasoning.

                  They’ve got a couple of other articles on it, you can probably find answers (if you find them persuasive or not) by searching for specific non-standard words.

          3. Consider this me mashing the “like” button. Too funny.

            Let me see if I can find… Ah. Here it is.

            when you were little you actually thought the Reverend’s first name was “Pastor.”
            …you only serve Jell-O in the proper liturgical color for the season.
            …during the entire service you hold your hymnal open but never look down at it.
            …you think Garrison Keillor’s stories are totally factual.
            …you have your wedding reception in the fellowship hall and feel guilty about not staying to help clean up.
            …in response to someone jumping up and shouting “Praise the Lord!”, you politely remind him or her that we don’t do that around here.
            …you hear something really funny and smile as loud as you can.
            …it takes 10 minutes (or more) to say good-bye.
            …you’re watching “Star Wars” in the theatre and when they say, “May the force be with you,” you reply, “and also with you.”
            …Bach is your favorite composer just because he was Lutheran, too.
            …you actually think the pastor’s jokes are funny.
            …you know all the words to the first verse of “Silent Night” in German but can’t speak a word of it.
            …you have an uncontollable urge to sit in the back of any room.
            …your mother reminds you often that she wishes you’d studied the organ.
            …you think that an ELCA Lutheran bride and an LCMS groom make for a “mixed marriage.”
            …you hold your family reunion in the church basement.
            …you sing “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus” while sitting down.
            …sharing the peace during the service takes more time than the sermon.
            …all your relatives graduated from a school named Concordia.

            1. “May the Force be with you,” also works for Catholics, except that now they’ve gone and changed the phrasing. (It’s a good way to tell who is an occasional attendee; they’ll stumble over “and with your spirit,” which isn’t as easy.)

          1. Even funny to somebody who doesn’t accept the “sinless nature” of Mary. 😉

      2. Oooh, one of our good priests!

        “You know, when I was a kid, I was always a little upset. There aren’t any Pats in the Bible. Then I got to seminary, and I realized– wait! My name is the most common one in the whole book! The Lord Kurst(cursed) Cain, the Lord Kurst this guy, the Lord Kurst that guy—”

        I can’t remember what point he made after that, if it was about mercy or about expectations messing you up, but it makes me smile every time I meet someone named Kurst.

        1. Once there was a monastery where they would start the morning devotions with the leader chanting “good morning,” upon which the rest of the monks would chant back “good morning.” Well, one morning, the local joker decided to do something different, so when everybody else chanted “good morning,” he chanted “good evening.” The leader stopped, squinted for a moment, and then sang out:

          “Someone chanted evening!”

          1. Caffeine kicked in.
            Double take.
            Oh, Jesus, loves me so because the Bible tells me so.

      3. Those who are secure with themselves can joke about themselves. That’s why Trump supporters can find the Dutch Trump video hilarious, while doing similar about Hillary would merit a “That’s not funny!” shriek from her supporters.

        (the punch line to “How many feminists does it take to change a light bulb?”)

          1. You mean there are people who haven’t seen the Trump video that a Dutch group released last year!?

    1. My father’s adoptive father was a Methodist minister….and his favorite joke was about the tent revival preacher who is taken bodily to Heaven in front of his congregation, and returns with a message about God…..”She’s Black”

      Mind you, this was his favorite joke from the 1930’s on….

      (He was White, BTW)

      1. A cardinal runs into the Vatican office and gasps out to the Pope, “I’ve got good news and bad news.”

        The Pope asks, “What’s the good news?”

        The cardinal replies, “Jesus is calling. On the phone.”

        The Pope says, “Alleluia! So what’s the bad news?”

        The cardinal says, “He’s calling from Salt Lake City.”

        1. Three men have died, and their souls reach the Pearly Gates at the same time. Saint Peter asks how they each have spent their lives.

          The first replies “I was a Catholic priest for twenty years.” Saint Peter gestures to him to step to one side.

          The second responds “I have been minister to a Baptist church for the last thirty years.” He too, is asked to step aside.

          The third answers “well, I was a New York cab driver. Been one for about ten years.” Saint Peter immediately allowed him through the Gates.

          Confused, the first two men asked why he was given precedence. “Simple, ” Peter replied. “He’s scared the Hell out of more people in one decade than the two of you have in half a century.”

          1. Heard a variation of that where the last guy’s a lawyer. Saint Peter’s response is, “That’s the first lawyer we’ve ever had here.”

      2. I went to a Jesuit college, and occasionally we got Christian proselytizers attempting to convert those poor Catholics (who were going to hell, y’know.) I only heard this story secondhand, but knowing the priest in question, it’s probably accurate.

        One of these Christianists was following this priest around, haranguing him about this and that. Note that said priest was one of the professors, and was wearing full clericals at the time, and he was needing to get to his next class. He wasn’t answering the increasingly annoyed guy. So the priest gets to his building and drops to his knees in prayer under the torrent of “God wants this” and “God requires that.” After a minute, he stands up, looks the guy in the eyes, and says, “God says you’re wrong,” and goes into the building.

        1. Story I heard in a Baptist setting (IIRC).

          Man walks into a Church saying “God wanted me to speak here”.

          Pastor replies “He didn’t tell me about it this morning”. 😉

  11. call themselves something like “relevant science fiction” or (can we persuade them) Woke SF or something
    “Woke SF” could easily come across as “Woke ‘s f***”, where “is” gets pronounced without really enunciating the “i”. Seems entirely appropriate to me.

    But you’re not talking a gulag, really, Sarah. You’re talking a briar patch. 🙂

  12. This must have gone up after I shut down last night. Why is Sarah writing about a small New Mexico town? Has PJM added a travelogue section?

    Truth and Consequences
    By Sarah Hoyt
    Lately, particularly over the latest kerfuffle in science fiction, but even before that, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend amid my progressive acquaintances.

    They will sometimes go so far as to mutter about how the First Amendment should not protect people who say this or that – you know what I mean – usually speech they don’t like under various guises: racism, sexism, and other things ending in “ism” such as any flavor of conservatism and libertarianism (they’re oddly okay with communism. Go figure.) I like to abbreviate this to “we’d like the First Amendment to exclude things that make us upset” which might be unkind, but is certainly truthful.

    But lately a smug and idiotic saying has shown up in those circles, “You’re allowed to say whatever you want to, so long as you take the consequences.”


    Apparently, they’d like to align themselves with places like, oh, the Islamic republics, Cuba, and North Korea, where you are also allowed to say whatever you want to as long as you take the consequences. …

    1. Oh, yes, though it does depend on the consequences. If you call someone an a**hole, don’t be surprised if they get huffy about it and protest, after all. That’s fair – heck, in fandom, even recently, that made for some pretty fun street theater.

      But I just saw a clip yesterday (this was in Australia, but I know there are similar situations elsewhere), where people are bringing court charges against people for saying the Wrong Things. And I’m thinking, Why is no one calling these people Fascists or Nazis?

        1. Does it matter if Big Brother uses his left boot, or his right boot to stamp on your face?

          1. Well, in American thinking, yes.
            Because if it’s the “right boot,” you’re going to have a gun, and so will your friends…..

          2. Oh, they’re all left boots in that cluster. Difference is primarily whether it’s a globalist boot or a nationalist one – a distinction without a difference, really.

              1. That’s because you’re fascist, you fascist! 😉

                Orwell had a bit to say about it. See “Politics and the English Language” or “What is Fascism?”.

    2. Somebody needs to take them gently aside and explain that before they make that policy, they’ll want to make sure they can survive trying to visit those ‘consequences’ on the people they despise….

  13. Does anyone here remember Douglas Adams’s character Wonko the Sane, who lives in “The Outside of the Asylum?” The ongoing SJW gulagization of us Deplorable Types calls him to mind.

  14. Blinks. Though I’ve told sacrilegious jokes, I don’t think I’ve told Jesus jokes. Sacrilegious, yes; Dirty, yes. All sorts of jokes, but not Jesus jokes. Kind of like a pirate who wouldn’t raid on Sundays.

    1. Some of the roughest sacrilegious jokes I’ve seen originated with a Missions rep who possesses a PHD in Biblical studies.

    2. All of the best Jesus jokes I know came from the more religious types. Like the time in the college chapel choir when somebody went back to get something, discovered they did box wine for Communion wine, and came out, saying, “They have the blood of Christ on tap!”

  15. Hi back at ya.
    Of course one thing about the introduction of pants* to PNG (sing the praises of pants!) is that they don’t itch as bad as grass skirts and pandanas leaves.

    Now gourds are a West Papuan thing appropriated for tourist.

    *if you want to get technical, first came the “laplap”- a kind of sarong worn by both sexes.

  16. Actually, JKR probably did use the initials to disguise her gender. It’s common enough that an author with initials only can pretty much be taken as “woman who wants to hide it.” Given the way a lot of women write – look at the YA section in the book stores these days – there’s a darn good reason boys are reluctant to read female authors.

    I’m female, about to put my first book out, and while I think I’m for the general fantasy market, my most focused market is teen boys (they’ve been the biggest fans of the book, and it does have a young male hero). So, yeah, I’m using initials only. Only, as a sensible adult, I don’t go all in a tizzy about it.

    I also know a guy who writes a bunch of different cozy mystery lines, all under female pen names. I don’t hear him complaining either.

    It’s all just marketing, or I heard an editor say, it’s like the mating plumage of colorful birds, trying to get the right person to pick up your book.

    1. sure. My indie space opera will have initials for that reason. I’ve noticed most big space opera authors in indie are male or not overtly female. So…
      It is what it is. I have male friends writing romance under female names. It’s no oppression, it’s pragmatism.

      1. You should use initials on either side of your middle name. Just really stir the pot. Especially if you now use your maiden name as your middle name.

        Make people go “Huh?!?” 😉

            1. NO. S. A. Hoyt.
              BTW the reason is simple. My name is attached to PJ which comes up in any search. S. A. Throws enough chaff in the air the casual reader doesn’t have to worry about how dangerous I am.

              1. S. A. Hoyt!!!???!!!!

                See! See! She’s adopted a pen name that celebrates Sturm Abteilung! NAAAAZZZZIIII. Reeeeeeeeeee
                /every SJW idjit on the planet.

                Sarah, there’s nothing you can do that won’t step on the tile. You know it. I know it.

      2. Um, Sarah… forgive me for pointing out the obvious here….

        You’re famous. People who read space opera already know who you are, and they like your stuff. Why would you want to hide your identity?

        I mean, geez, it’s like Doc Smith deciding he needs to start writing under the name of Janissaria Winterbourne.

        Now, maybe it could work, because Peter O’Donnell, the author of the Modesty Blaise comics and novels, did a nice sideline in Victorian-era Gothic fantasy romance bestsellers.under the name of Madeleine Brent. But there were a lot of Madeleine Brent fans who totally missed out on Modesty Blaise, and vice versa, so that kinda stunk for them.

        Also, S.M. Hoyt sounds like somebody writing erotica parodies of Darkship, so don’t use those initials. 🙂

          1. You get more “see also” references that way: very cool!

            ..and thanks to the tehnological revolution rendering card catalogues obsolete, I don’t have to hate you for it.

            Yes, somebody had to type up all those cards.

        1. I don’t know. I see S.M. Hoyt as Sam Hoyt. I wouldn’t think erotica; I’d think detective stories.

    2. R. A. Salvatore is hiding it really well, then….

      I do think it is a common tactic– at least as common as men using women’s names when that will convey a more accurate idea of what kind of book they’re selling. (Goes for other stuff, too–a Tolkien style high fantasy written by Kai Chang would probably not sell so well, and a Ninja Handbook by Jacob B. Smith, ditto.)

      1. Jake Smith, The Handbook of the Mall Ninja, The Code of the Mall Ninja, The Village Hidden in the Mall, et cetera.

        1. Notice the modifier. 😀 That from some guy with a standard Japanese name would have to explain why it was a mall ninja….

          Same reason that a fantasy by >>really obviously Asian name<< would probably sell well, but if it was a straight-up Tolkien style "English mythology grand epic that never was", it'd upset folks.

          1. It wouldn’t upset me. Record of Lodoss War was a series of novels, a couple of animes, some kind of video game… and now we’ve got Record of Grancrest War.

            There’s 130 volumes of Guin Saga. Yeah, that’s light novel volumes, but still.

            Brave Story is huge.

            Twelve Kingdoms is a little more Asian-flavored, as most epic fantasies in Japan are. But still, Japan is a big purveyor of epic fantasy in the Tolkien style, or of RPG-inspired fantasies with European backgrounds.

            Getting English translations that aren’t anime or manga, however… that’s the rub.

            1. Oh, very true– but part of what I like about Anime is that they’ve got some slightly different mythology assumptions. Same way you can “feel” a difference between the Norse stories and even re-told Lord of the Ring stuff. (I grew up with my mom telling Tolkien’s stories basically from memory.)

              I need to go over Twelve Kingdoms again, see if there’s anything I don’t want to discuss with the kids– we’ll run out of Fairy Tail eventually.

              1. I’m not sure about Gancrest and Lodoss, but Lodoss also ties in with Rune Soldier Louie and Legend of Crystania. Representing that you can have one campaign setting, and a lot of different kind of stories/games in it.

      2. My given name, OK nickname which is just a shortening of my given name, is gender neutral. And if I include a bio, sans photo, that lists my occupation for the last 20 years people will think I’m female simply because the stereotypical dispatcher (for good reason) is female.

    3. I wonder how many people saw J.K. and thought “Jack” because of the sounds of the letters, before they knew better?

      1. I wonder how many are convinced that e.e.cummings, C.S.Lewis and G.K. Chesterton are broads?

          1. My brother Kevin had to write as K.M. O’Brien, because there are so many Kevin O’Briens in print that it isn’t funny. And The Sculptured Ship is doing okay, although he was surprised to see how many people thought he was a she, despite his author’s note indicating his sex and full name!

            Same thing for me (except that half of the Maureen O’Briens are only O’Briens by marriage! It ain’t fair!). As soon as I found out that the Doctor Who actress who was my namesake was also writing mysteries, I started having to plan on using M.S. O’Brien for writing. And I’m just lucky nobody stole _that_.

            1. K.M. O’Brien does give a feel for a woman’s name Kim. Just so long as you don’t succumb to calling yourself Zer O’Brien. /laugh

          2. For such folk I can but quote the Waco Kid: “You’ve got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know… morons.”

            Fun fact: Brooks first offered the role to John Wayne. Wayne loved the script, said he’d be first in line to see the movie, but thought his fans wouldn’t accept it. I can imagine the typical 1974 Wayne fan sitting down, popcorn bucket in hand and reacting to the railroad worker chorus singing out “I get no kick from cocaine …”

    4. I literally can’t do that, because my initials are BAD. As in B.A.D. I don’t need that subliminal concept on the cover of my book. (It’s why my art signature is still BAY.)

    5. > there’s a darn good reason boys are reluctant to read female authors.

      Unfortunately, yes.

      I grew up reading Andre Norton, Leigh Brackett, C.L. Moore, and others. I didn’t care what sex they were; they wrote the stuff I liked to read.

      I still don’t care what’s behind the author’s zipper, but after the Great Cleansing of the 1990s there’s not much new stuff that I like, and almost none of it is written by women. A female name on the cover is almost certain to indicate some combination of feminism, leftism, and paranoia. I would get equal entertainment value from smashing my thumb with a hammer.

      There probably *are* great new books by female authors that would make me squee with delight, but they’re sitting in publisher slushpiles due to Gross .Political Incorrectness and Failure To Maintain The Narrative.

      1. Exactly. What has turned people against female writing is not that females can’t write, it’s the pap the gatekeepers are picking. It’s like aversion therapy.

      2. Well, it ain’t scifi, but C R Chancy is good. Probably skip the Vampire Brides one unless you’re into anime, though– from the reviews, you have to have a “feel” for what’s normal in anime or it sounds really odd.

      3. I’ll point out that if you smack your thumb with a hammer, there’s the possibility of us getting entertainment value out of it too, but not so much said books.

    1. Right? That’s all they ever do, since the 1960s. And it gets worse with every iteration.

      Throw this one out to the big carp farm out there, does anybody know of a book/story with genderless characters that wasn’t some grimdark dystopian niightmare? Anybody ever see a -fun- story with genderless characters?

      1. MewTwo is a great thing, and there are parts of the Pokemon world that can be interpreted in ways that don’t fit your description.

        Bolos, maybe.

      2. Personal rule- any “groundbreaking” achievement that the modern SJW’s crow and preen about has already been done before, and done better.

      3. Most of the examples I can think of, they’re angels Done Right. Usually not POV characters.

        Sadly, the last one I can think of and remember the name is one of the “Wizard in Rhyme” books, the one with the agnostic buddy; his guardian angel is a blast.

            1. I thiiiiink I read enough in my high school library to notice that he started repeating himself a bit, and I was still having fun but there were other things to read and the only one I tried to hunt down more of afterward was the… uh… Starship Troupers one. Still, I wouldn’t mind starting over.

              1. As for repeating himself, some of that was writing what readers wanted to buy. I thought the Warlock series (and its spin-offs about the next generation of Gallowglasses) suffered a little of that derivativeness, although in fairness much of that came out during a period when I was eschewing SF because of the long-term trending of which we are all sadly aware — the lack of fun in the genre managed even to mute enjoyment of good authors.

                The Wizard series started extremely well, but I think Stasheff wrote himself into a dead end once he started expanding to include Islamic Faith, as that somewhat undercut the thesis of the first few books.

                Starship Troupers has some very entertaining depictions of the magic that is theatre (and of the egos and competitions that lie behind the curtain.) Sadly, it seems to have been aborted after three books, possibly for the same reasons Stasheff has largely quit writing. I wonder what tales of publisher malpractice he might tell, and how much the flaws in later books are a consequence of publisher demands.

                I will always treasure him for writing of Totalitarians and Anarchists as villains during a time when the bien-pensants were arguing otherwise.

                1. The Wizard series started extremely well, but I think Stasheff wrote himself into a dead end once he started expanding to include Islamic Faith, as that somewhat undercut the thesis of the first few books.

                  I believe we had someone come by here– it may have been PJMedia, though– and mention that was…not his idea… and the obvious result was given as a reason to not buy the next book of the series.

                  I mostly remember because I was startled and delighted to hear he was still kicking around.

                  1. I’ve wondered why that “Wizard” book hadn’t been released in e-format. The next one (The Feline Wizard) has been but not the “The Crusading Wizard” (I might have the title wrong).

                  2. IIRC, it was a couple, three years ago (my, how Time doth fly) that one of our regulars reported on meeting Stasheff at a con in Cincinnati.

                    As Sarah has often noted, many a Bad Idea in a novel may well be the “contribution” of an editor or publisher. In similar vein, I have learned to grant an actor some leeway for a bad performance, as it may simply have been the performance the director wanted.

                    For example.

                  3. His son, or someone purporting to be, came by here and talked about indie publishing. IIRC.

      4. Not quite the same as being completely sexless, but in John Varley’s Nine Worlds series, it wasn’t uncommon for people to go without external genitalia for a while as a sort of vacation.

        That’s also the world where it was considered a fun surprise for your spouse to get a sex change on the way home from work (the way we’d get a haircut or buy a new suit of clothes).

        Of course, Varley is a Evil White Male, and was doing all that stuff back in the seventies. That doesn’t count for today’s “literary” crowd, for whom it is always the Year Zero.

        1. I liked Varley’s Wizard and Red Thunder stories. Protagonists weren’t all vanilla Caucasians but he didn’t seem to beat the reader’s over their heads about it.

      5. Seem to have misplaced the post I had. Pokemon, for one. MewTwo is genderless.

      6. Are my posts being caught be the thingy again?

        That Ken Sugimori/Satoshi Tajiri/Nintendo franchise. There are versions that aren’t grimdark.

        Anyway, the one based on Giygas from Earthbound/Mother 2 is one of genderless ones.

        I’m pretty sure I can think of other examples of properties, but I’m a bit stupid from bedtime ATM.

      7. Define “genderless”

        “Non binary:” Asimov’s The Gods Themselves. And a gazillion other stories featuring beings with non-mammalian biology.

        Not having sexual reproduction: a gazillion stories with Pure Intelligences e.g. Out of the Silent Planet.

        They just called it “science fiction” back then, rather than “tiresome virtue signalling.”

        1. Although CSL did make a significant and justified Point of the genders of Malacandra and Perelandra. 🙂

      8. “a book/story with genderless characters that wasn’t some grimdark dystopian nightmare?”

        Lois McMaster Bujold has genetic hermaphrodites on Beta in her Vorkosigan saga, and genderless created humans on Cetaganda. She also has an entire planet of males that isn’t a cesspool (though almost all of the action in that particular novel takes place off-planet, and has some very funny bits where the protagonist is totally freaked out by the presence of females.) It all basically comes down to “people are people, despite unusual facets. Let’s see what happens.”

    2. Or the opposite – a story about an entire planet full of what are essentially transgender humans who rotate their gender on a natural cycle.

      i.e. The Left Hand of Darkness, by Le Guin

    3. I volunteered to do some books reviews once, and wound up with Sturgeon’s “Some of Your Blood.”

      It would take extreme inducement to ever make me pick up a Sturgeon story again.

    1. Whatbook?

      Put this in your /etc/hosts or \windows\system32\hosts file:

  17. As someone who left science fiction fandom partly because of its hard left turn, it is a sad situation. Someone said that the SF world was returning to its Marxist roots. That person is probably all too correct.

    1. Was early SF Marxist? Sure, some of it, but it was a matter of the times, when Marxism was considered “scientific”. Now that it’s been disproved and discredited for a group concerned with the future to return to it is insane.
      Also popular SF was never hard Marxist. Campbell would be very shocked to be called that.

        1. I do not think Cyranno de Bergerac (A Voyage to the Moon) would have tolerated anyone declaring him Marxist to his face, nor does Samuel Butler (Erewhon) seem likely to wear the red star. While it is unfortunately easy to imagine a Catholic saint as Marxist, Sir Thomas More (Utopia) seems more a monarchist than socialist.

          As for Jonathan Swift, while Gulliver is indisputably SF it seems very un-Marxist.

        2. I don’t think I’d describe Wells as a Marxist. Certainly he would have disputed that. Socialist, yes. Marxist, no.

          One of the many intellectual frauds that the communists have run over the years is spreading the claim that all socialism is Marxist.

          This, despite the obvious counterexamples of Italian-style fascism and Naziism (both of which were socialist, but not Marxist).

          There are any number of other types of socialism, all of which are unworkable in the large scale. They can work pretty well for small groups, though. For example, there are Christian religious groups (monasteries and analogues) that operate on a socialist model, and have for a couple of millennia now, owing no debt whatsoever to Crazy Man Marx.

          1. At this point, I’m not sure that there is any extant flavor of socialism that isn’t Marxism. Fascism and Nazism both have features that match the changes that Marx rebranded socialism to have. There probably are extant flavors of socialist/leftwinger that aren’t communist, but “aren’t basically Marxist” strikes me as going too far. (The communist influence is very widespread and very pervasive.)

            1. At the current time, yes, that’s true. Marx is a jealous god, and there’s nothing more threatening to a cult than a heretical version of itself (which is what fascism and Nazism are).

              However, that wasn’t the case in time of H.G. Wells (or at least not as much).

          2. I’d put the origin of socialism at the family level– the Catholic examples are able to function by being an expansion of a nuclear family, including the extreme dependence on self-sacrificial love in order to function properly.

            That’s what makes it so appealing, and so horrific– you can’t build a system on “and everybody loves everybody else,” not in this world. So you make a dead machine of it, and it’s a horror, like rape is a special sort of horror because it’s got a superficial similarity to the mutual giving of love-making. See also, zombies of loved ones. *shudder*

            1. Those so advocating often come from dysfunctional family backgrounds, which makes their efforts to expand the system to universal status somewhat peculiar.

              1. Hm…or maybe explains why they don’t see the flaws. They know it works on the small scale, and because their best known example was a horrible example, don’t recognize that the scaled up version is horrible?

        1. Yes and No. You have to also consider “History doesn’t repeat, but it does rhyme.” That is, there are the parts that are repeating as farce, and then there are the parts that are different enough in kind and / or degree that they’re still getting through the tragedy cycle.

      1. You are certainly correct about J. W. Campbell, Jr. not being a Marxist. There were other conservatives writing SF in the early years. Heinlein comes to mind. Have to think some more about this one.

  18. The SJWs remind me of Lemongrab, from Adventure Time, who threatens anyone who displeases him with “ONE MILLION YEARS DUNGEON!”

  19. “I’m fairly sure that if we take them at their word and stop showing up for religious ed— worldcon and other traditional literary conventions where we’re not welcome, they’ll find out that the thing is mighty thin of company.”

    I was at Barnes & Ignoble today, since I’m visiting the warm Southwest, and I must say the frigging Big Five model is extremely, profoundly broken. In thre hours of browsing, I found one amusing thing. Japanese manga about monster girls. Imported, natch. Everything else, meh.

    I was briefly tempted by a hardcover, “Robots Vs. Fairies,” which is the kind of thing that could be right up my alley. But then I read the first two names on the authors list and quickly put it back. I really, profoundly don’t want to know what Cat Valenti and John (ptui!) Scalzi have to say about the idea. To say nothing of Jim C. Hines, and so forth.

    I did cute robots vs. demons in my last book. Spoiler, robots win.

      1. But cold iron so much heavier than steel or aluminum…

        Do university grants cover “decorative” inlay?

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