December 16, 2007

On "wussification"

Our conversation with the pugilistic pastor has turned into a discussion on torture and recent history. But it began with a discussion on masculinity. He is a member (or something) of a group that hopes to fight against the feminization of Christianity.


I have read Eldridge (not convinced) and I have also read my history. I know that this is just the latest in a long line of people who decide that Jesus has to be more like the one they want--Billy Sunday did it when he wanted a brawling Jesus. Bruce Barton did it when he created a Jesus who would be a kick-ass salesman and businessman. The Promise Keepers did it too.

Whatever. As far as I am concerned, if these men want to beat drums and play soldier--that is their choice.

But the "wussification" intrigues me. "Wussy," of course, is probably a combination of "wimp" and "..." well, the "P" word. The word used to denigrate women as weak and therefor denigrate men who might be like those women. The misogyny is palpable and the fact that this "comedian" has an album dedicated to this "wussification" speaks volumes.

Forget political correctness, the word is simply a "Christianese" attempt to avoid saying something coarse. But the meaning is still there, as is the attack on women. And he embraces it and uses it to disparage others. Just as Jesus would do, we are told. Somehow, the Jesus who spoke with the woman at the well and stopped the adulteress' execution would disparage other men by telling them they are like women. That he would disparage the traits of forgiveness, kindness, nurturing, compassion, etc.

Are we asked to follow a Christ who would do this? I would suggest not. Anymore than we are asked to follow a Christ who would sit smoking in the corner while his compatriots waterboarded Judas. Anymore than we are asked to follow a Christ who would cheer the death penalty, or mock the poor.

I think we can do better. We can move beyond obvious and antiquated gender stereotypes. We can do better. We can discuss gender roles without disparaging women. I think we can do better than this comedian and his followers.


Streak said...

FP asked to create a new post for comments. I guess Rob did too, but I am stubborn. Instead, let's use this related thread.

In that thread, FP said this:

Could you provide me ONE example of where the ACLU has ever sided with "conservative Christianity"?

I say this with respect, but I really fear that you are getting most of your information from a particularly bunkered version of Christianity that creates this victimized version of reality and history. You don't have to simply listen to Christian radio and the recycled misinformation.

For example:
The ACLU Is Not Evil | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction: "For example, in 2001, the group interceded with a school district in Michigan that had deleted a high school senior's yearbook entry because she included a Bible verse. In 2002, the ACLU filed a brief on behalf of a pastor associated with Operation Rescue who was prevented from participating in a parade because his pro-life poster showed a photograph of an aborted baby. And last September, the organization joined a lawsuit on behalf of a New Jersey second-grader who was not allowed to sing 'Awesome God' in a school talent show. (All of these examples are easily accessible on several Web pages now devoted to defending the ACLU 's record on Christianity.)"

Second, you wrote:

Womens liberation has nothing and I mean nothing to do with my wife. It has nothing to do with my wife's ability to run a business with me.

Though I would like to see what you think that the WLM has contributed and what they really stand for.

You say that feminism has nothing to do with your own life, and I am sure you believe it. But I wonder if your history teachers failed you, or this is more of the Christian Radio.

Let's take the obvious--do you really think that women's roles a hundred years ago allowed for a woman to be a kick-boxing instructor/business woman? And if not, how did that occur?

What has Women's LIberation created? How about the right to vote? The right to not be raped by your spouse--or at least to have the ability to respond legally. What about the right to work outside the home? Or the right to enter college in the major of her choice?

Do you think that those changes in society just happened?

And let's take the most obvious part of feminism that you perhaps don't realize effected your wife. Until the 1960s, most sports were limited to men. Colleges didn't offer scholarships for women athletes and most young girls lacked opportunities to play much beyond some token sports and half-court basketball.

As a part of the WLM, Congress passed Title IX which exponentially expanded the athletic opportunities for young girls. We are closing in on the time when the term "throws like a girl" will be a compliment, and high time.

With that contribution, the opportunities for women to play hockey, soccer, basketball, softball, etc. (and I assume martial arts--after all, it isn't as if many martial arts originate in cultures that are terribly open to women--at least historically).

The history of women in this country (and I am mostly comfortable speaking about American history) is one of gradual and continual push for autonomy. Without that movement, women could very easily still be in a situation where they lack even basic civil rights--voting, owning land, etc.

steves said...

I am not a fan of the ACLU. At one time, I was a member, but I let that lapse. I think their view on the Establishment Clause goes against both the intent and the plain language of the 1st Amendment. Their view of the 2nd Amendment defies logic and goes against what the vast majority of legal scholars say. That being said, they have defended conservative causes including issues related to religious freedom.

From the other thread: "And, btw, you are right, I often over generalize about conservatives too. My conservative friends here chastise me about that often."

As one of those that has chastised, I can say that he will admit when he does this and will respond to a reasonable argument.

My church has a variety of ministries and bible studies. I have no problem with men's ministries, women's minstries, and children's ministries, but there seems to be very little overlap. I have done couple's counseling (as a profession), so I know that men and women are different, but I have a tough time seeing why there has to be so much separate stuff. For example, every fall we have a trap shoot. We also end up shooting a bunch of other stuff. There were a few women that seemed interested in going, but backed out because it was a 'mens event.' This just seems silly to me. Women are perfectly capable of enjoying the shooting sports. As a firearms instructor, I prefer female students, as they tend to listen better and are more willing to accept feedback.

Bootleg Blogger said...

Streak: Good post. It leads me to think of some men I know who often refer to their wives as equals and qualify it with something like, "I couldn't get along without her" or "I couldn't live without her." The godman comedian did it in one of his interviews. I get the impression that this is somehow an attempt to emphasize their wife's importance. However, to me it just emphasizes the problem that their worth or equality has something to do with their necessity in the guy's life. In other words, their attempt to show that they value their wives serves to, in my hearing, demean them even more.

I've heard that there are less men in church than women. I don't know if that's a general trend- I'm sure there's data somewhere. I don't argue that point. If we concede that's true then that's all we have: data- more women, less men in church. My disagreement would be that Jesus needs to be Manned Up somehow to appeal to men. Maybe this is an attempt at gender contextualization. Personally I see it as another manufactured crisis that "our group" (insert godmen or whomever) are addressing with our "movement". I don't think there's any wussification of Jesus- just some guys that would rather hang out together and need to create a theological reason to do so. If that's what you want to do i.e. hang out with the boys, that's fine, but just say that.
Later- BB

Bootleg Blogger said...

Streak- I posted before you switched to a new thread. I think many people, including the folks that demonize feminism or women's rights or whatever label is applied, are now living in a system in which much of the advances are so seamless in our society now, that they don't see the connections. It's so integrated into the fabric of our society that people benefit every day and never give credit where it is due. My daughter will live in a world where she can vote, attend the college of her choice, ascent the professional ladder, and so many other benefits I can't name them all. So many people have disparaged "Women's liberation" for so long that the personal cost would be too much, evidently, to concede at all. Granted, sometimes the leadership of movements or the fringe, more extreme members of movements give the movements some bad publicity, but the passion and determination to make a difference doesn't often lend itself to mild personalities. The overall goal of bettering society has happened and there's no going back, thankfully.

Rob said...

BB, that's been on my mind the entire time. Having the Godman movement out there assumes that Christ needs to be remasculinized. If that's the basic assumption behind the movement then a disdain for all things "WLM" would be part and parcel of the theology. Regardless of actual stuff the WLM might have done in the real world.

Just like to FP, "liberal" doesn't actually mean liberal like I, or the dictionary might mean it. His liberal might not actually exist in real life, but it definitely exists in context of the theology. "Liberal" -- just like "WLM" -- signifies essentially the same thing: the feminine nature of Christ.

And Christ's nature has got to start off in thrall to the liberals and women's libbers, has got to be all girly and wussy, because if it doesn't, how can you take it back?

Rob said...

And BB, I feel much the same way about labor unions (re: your last comment). People have similarly forgotten what organized labor accomplished in its heyday: the 40 hour work week, overtime pay, the minimum wage, not to mention things like OSHA, workplace safety movement, etc.

Granted, most modern day unions have suffered serious ossification -- and in fact can be drags on entire industries (look at the auto unions, for instance). Still, to not have any independent mechanisms - no matter how stultified -- protecting people who work would be tragic indeed.

/rant off.

Streak said...


Of course there is much to criticize in the ACLU. The point was that they are not just evil--as the religious right presents them.

BB, great points. As you know, I am one of those men who left, but clearly not because the Church was too effeminate. And I obviously agree that women's liberation has done so very much--so much that current college students often shy away from the tag "feminist" but say they support every major feminist tenet.

Rob, great point to labor. I agree wholeheartedly. Very similar in that Americans have forgotten what early unions had to endure to get the bare bones like minimum wage and basic work safety. That is, until Bush rolled back much of those advances. :)

Bootleg Blogger said...

Good point about unions. One small town where I lived had a number of factories- stove foundries. I called on several old guys who would, if the topic came up, kind of brag that they'd kept the unions out. Then I'd open the gate for him since he was missing several fingers on one hand! Of course, the fact that we were surrounded by union towns may have had something to do with his ability to earn a good wage. The companies were only able to keep out unions with strong arm tactics at first and later paying well and providing benefits. If there hadn't been the threat of unionization no telling what conditions would have been like. Nowhere does that say that unions, or whatever you choose to substitute, are all good or don't have their drawbacks. Overall, though, I think we're all fortunate we're not the ones having to start them up. Later- BB

fightingpreacher said...

Streak, I just went to a WLM website and their objectives are quite different from those that you mention. One of the values that they are espouse are that of same sex relationships, etc. Now the stuff you mentioned I agree with, but I am afraid WLM doesnt represent that anymore.

Next, I dont believe the ACLU is evil, nor do I believe they are good.

I dont listen to Christian Radio or music that often so pick a new one liner.

Thanks to the abuse of that Law now they are canceling male sports like wrestling. So you will get no support from me there. Should women be allowed to play sports...ABSOLUTELY. But that doesnt mean cancel mens sports that have been around for the last century.

fightingpreacher said...

BB, I know Brad and his wife. That is meant as respect. My wife is my co-equal and it is awesome to have her with me. I am sorry that you cant see that there is a man that his wife is important part of life. A part of his life he couldnt live without.

BB out of curosity are you married? I would think that this would be a complement to the WLM that their are men that dont believe that they could live without the wives who contribute so significantly to their lives!

Men by in large are not attending church with conservative estimates at like 50% with more realistic estimates at 70% of men are not attending across denominational lines (meaning from the catholics to the pentecostals to the baptists)

Well what if it isnt Manning up Jesus, but recoginizing that Jesus was a man! There are lots of things in church that dont reasonate with men. Very little of it actually has to do with Jesus. More to do with the way we conduct our services!

How about maybe that through the last couple of centuries we have made Jesus more female than male and we are trying to bring back an understanding that Jesus was a man and everything about him was male.

Maybe we should back up and have a honest discussion about what is masculinity from 2 persepectives. A biblical perspective and a secular perspective.

There is definitely a wussification of Jesus. He was never angry, etc.

BTW I did say that some of this is just boys wanting to hang with boys

fightingpreacher said...

BB I think you are right. When I went to a website for WLM it had nothing to do with the great things streak mentioned it was all about things that I think have nothing to do with Women being honored and treated with respect.

fightingpreacher said...

streak how do you link on the blog so I dont offend you again by posting entire articles?

fightingpreacher said...

Streak could you share what the tenants of the WLM are?

Streak said...

No offense, but I am not sure you really can speak to what the women's liberation movement is or was about. I am not trying to be snide, but I don't sense much historical memory here.

To add to that, the connection between feminists and homosexuals is longstanding and has to do at least partially with conservatives dismissing any woman who didn't fit their ideals as being a "lesbian." So you might have to forgive the connection--it is one of share experience.

BB I think you are right. When I went to a website for WLM it had nothing to do with the great things streak mentioned it was all about things that I think have nothing to do with Women being honored and treated with respect.

Perhaps it is because I know the Bootlegger and have for years, but I don't see much in your statement that echoes his. Where are you agreeing? Where did he say that the women's movement didn't respect women now?

The fact that some male sports have been canceled is not an argument. YOU will have to do better there. That is tantamount to whites saying to blacks "hey, you can't discriminate against us" after discriminating against blacks for 300+ years.

With all due respect (and I am trying to be respectful) your comments here do not display much historical understanding of any of these experiences. In fact, you appear to look at the past as an echo of your own experience and use that to lament whatever change you see that doesn't match what you want. Don't cancel wrestling because it has been around for a long time, but it is perfectly fine to exclude all manner of female sports? And you ignore the connection to your own wife's experience?

And finally, just as in my answers on Eldredge and others, I have told you the tenets of the women's movement. They are not complicated. Equality and access. Freedom from violence. It is pretty simple stuff. The fact that you don't want to extend that to gay people is your issue--and is not a reasonable way to undermine the women's movement.

Streak said...

Oh, and:

There is definitely a wussification of Jesus.

It is as if you have not been listening at all.

Streak said...

BTW, FP if you want to link to an article, the easiest way is simply to cut and paste the url. We can cut and paste it into our browser.

Or, you can use html, but I am not sure the easiest way to explain it without putting in code.

Bootleg Blogger said...

FP: "I know Brad and his wife. That is meant as respect" - That's my point- it's meant as respect but those verbalizing it that way just don't hear the irony there.

"There is definitely a wussification of Jesus. He was never angry, etc."- I understand that this is your opinion. I don't know what you base it on so I can't address your evidence. I simply disagree based on personal experience.

"Well what if it isnt Manning up Jesus, but recoginizing that Jesus was a man!" I've never heard of anyone confusing that point. Even my most liberal acquaintences always refer to Jesus as "him" or "he".

"I just went to a WLM website...." Streak can correct me here where I'm off base, but my understanding is that the feminist movement or WLM, or women's rights movements to which I would generally refer wouldn't have a website, i.e. isn't a single, cohesive group. I would be speaking more to a much broader, organic movement that can trace its roots a few centuries back (Mary Wollstonecraft: A Vindication of the Rights of Woman) up through our own national history with big advances in the last century. Certainly some groups such as National Organization for Women would be a somewhat distinct group with a platform, etc... but would definitely not include all who would call themselves feminists or consider themselves a part of the women's liberation or women's rights movements.

"There are lots of things in church that dont reasonate with men. Very little of it actually has to do with Jesus. More to do with the way we conduct our services!" Not much argument there, but I could easily substitue the word "people" for "men" and have what I would consider a true statement that I really don't think has much to do with masculinity or gender issues.

Later- BB

Bootleg Blogger said...

"BB I think you are right. When I went to a website for WLM it had nothing to do with the great things streak mentioned it was all about things that I think have nothing to do with Women being honored and treated with respect."

I'm afraid I don't follow you on this one. What did I say that you are agreeing with?- BB

Leighton said...

To provide an active link to a URL, say,, you would code it like so:

< a href=""> YouTube </a>

The text in between the bracketed tags is the text of the link. The code above resolves to:


If this is even a little unclear, it's probably best to stick to copying-and-pasting the address (select it, go to the Edit menu, click "Copy", put the cursor in the window and Edit->Paste). It'll save a lot of frustration.

fightingpreacher said...

BB...where you were talking about that the WLM being defined by the fringe or the extremes of the movement.

Bootleg Blogger said...

BB...where you were talking about that the WLM being defined by the fringe or the extremes of the movement.

Gotcha.- BB

Streak said...

Of course, every movement has that problem. Christian conservatives would not want to be defined by Fred Phelps or some of the White Supremacy groups that claim Christianity.

fightingpreacher said...

Streak who is Fred Phelps?

Lets go back to a couple of things. First Streak can you provide me an example with the ACLU ever defending "conservative Christian" values?

If you will remember when you provided me with the information on waterboarding I quickly recanted!

Next, streak at current time I have about 5 friends who are homosexual or prior lesbians that I know of. All of those guys are true friends and know where I stand on homosexuality. You want to keep throwing me in some box you have created and I really dont fit there. Why is that you think because I disagree with the gay lifestyle that I demonize them and give them no rights?

Streak said...

In the first comment on this thread, I gave you a link and a brief paragraph listing several times that the ACLU has defended Christians. What more do you want? My point was never that the ACLU is the be all, end all, but merely pointing out that it isn't evil and anti-Christian. You may have not used the word evil, but you certainly suggested they were anti-Christian. They aren't. They take cases and stances that I don't always agree with either, but they are not evil.

Fred Phelps is the pastor at that church that hates gays and boycotts military funerals saying those soldiers died because of homosexuality.

And I don't think I said you were homophobic. I simply said that you were using some feminist support for same sex marriage as an excuse to dismiss feminism. Feminism has done much for this country--just as Rob and BB noted as has the labor movement. Doesn't mean that they have been right on everything, but your wife benefits from that feminism every day. Every young girl today can thank feminists for the expanded opportunities they will enjoy.

Unfortunately, I think far too many in the Christian right have so demonized feminism (aided by such idiots as Rush Limbaugh) and so many people really don't understand their contribution.

Bootleg Blogger said...

Streak- Point of clarification. Phelps and his group actually protest at the funerals- not boycott them. I'm sure the families wish they'd boycott them. Anyway, thought I'd point that out to avoid confusion.- BB

Streak said...

BB, right. I was thinking protest and wrote boycott.

fightingpreacher said...

ok those guys. They came here to our military base. There were several different groups who formed walls to protect our soldiers families...those guys never came close to our funerals.

BTW...if that is what you refer to as Conservative Christianity...that isnt me or the people I know that consider themselves Conservative Christians.

Streak said...

FP, I know. That is why I raised them. They do call themselves Christians and so one could (not validly) claim that they represent Christianity. So be careful in how you approach the women's movement. That was my only point. I know you don't like them and think you mentioned them before.

fightingpreacher said...

I totally am not reading into you guys that you are all gay or believe that we should be communist or something like that.

Streak said...

I totally am not reading into you guys that you are all gay or believe that we should be communist or something like that.


fightingpreacher said...

Alright someone I cant remember who at this point made the comment that liberals the way I think of them probably dont exist...I think it might of been Rob. So let me tell you some of the things that indicate liberalism to me.

1. Weak on ND
2. Prefer socialism (redistribution of the wealth)
3. Higher taxes to pay for bigger government
4. Try to take away the constitutional right to bear arms
5. Weak on border control and illegal immigration
6. Try to remove the reference of God from everything with bogus interpretation of separation of Church and State.

So obviously a conservative to me (which Bush isnt)
1. Strong on ND
2. Prefer Captialism
3. No income tax from federal government and no property taxes
4. Defend constitutional rights of the right to bear arms, freedom of speech, etc
5. Strong on border control and illegal immigration
6. Defend the original intent of the founding fathers as much as is possible in the change of our culture.

fightingpreacher said...

Streak, simply I am not judging the people on this board based on what I believe about WLM or liberals, etc...I let your own words make my determination.

Streak said...

That wasn't my point. My point was that you used something like support for same sex unions as a reason to dismiss feminism.

Before we move onto some discussion about conservative v. liberal, how about finishing up the attacks on feminism and the ACLU. You asked for evidence on both issues--and I gave them to you.

Rob said...

FP said: "So let me tell you some of the things that indicate liberalism to me . . ."

Waiter! New thread please! The talking points are stale in this one!

steves said...

Here is an article from the ACLU of Michigan that speaks about them and religion and specifically mentions a case where they defended someone's choice of religion.

"So obviously a conservative to me (which Bush isnt)
1. Strong on ND
2. Prefer Captialism
3. No income tax from federal government and no property taxes
4. Defend constitutional rights of the right to bear arms, freedom of speech, etc
5. Strong on border control and illegal immigration
6. Defend the original intent of the founding fathers as much as is possible in the change of our culture."

1. A true conservative would take a position somewhat like that of Ron Paul. The founding fathers loathed getting involved in foreign entanglements and would certainly not have approved of nation building and spreading democracy through force.

2. Liberals hate capitalism? There seem to be plenty of wealthy liberals that disagree.

3. As much as I would like to see the income tax decreased, it is here to stay. What would you replace it with? Opposition to property taxes is conservative? The US has always had property taxes. You'd have to go back to the 13th century to when there weren't property taxes. How would municipalities fund things like fire and police departments? How about snow removal?

4. Most liberals are pretty good on civil liberties, except the right to bear arms. Some conservatives have been pretty lousy on the 2nd Amendment, such as Bush I and II and Nixon.

5. I've heard plenty of talk from the candidates, but no realistic solutions. I am still waiting.

6. We could have a whole thread on Constitutional Theory. I will admit that I tend to be somewhat inconsistent. I think there have been some really good caselaw this is not supported by original intent (such as Brown v. Bd. of Ed. of Topeka Ks.). The other problem with orginal intent is that the framers never intended that original intent be a method of interpretation. If they did, they would have said so.

Bootleg Blogger said...

"The other problem with orginal intent is that the framers never intended that original intent be a method of interpretation. If they did, they would have said so."

I love the way you put that. I have had frequent lengthy discussions on the original intent, we're founded as a christian nation, etc.... type arguments. While I think our founders were mostly geniuses, I've never believed that they were, or considered themselves, infallable or able to foresee every possibility. If I'm mistaken correct me, but originally the only voters were white males. If I remember correctly some of the key founders wanted to require that they be landholders. The country was very small. The list could go on and on. So, my question for your legal expertise is where the "original intent" discussion originated and does it come into judicial constitutional ruling? I have to think that our founders, the instigators of rebellion themselves, would have a good chuckle at the thought of us, 200 years later, arguing over what their original intent might have been.
All for now- BB

Streak said...

Steve, good points. I am hoping that FP will respond to the original comments first before we get into a conservative v. liberal discussion.

Bootleg Blogger said...

Oops, Streak. Looks like I may have started a tangent. -BB

Streak said...

No worries. I just want FP to at least respond to what started this thread. The original intent stuff is important too and worthwhile.

steves said...

BB, you are correct. Until the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920, only men could vote. The ratification of the 15th Amendment, during Reconstruction eliminated race based voting requirements. Various states (especially in the south) got around this by having poll taxes and literacy requirements, which were especially onerous to minority voters. These were finally abolished by the Voting Rights Act in the 1960's.

I am having to dig back into my law school text books for the next stuff. Original intent, along with original meaning, fall under the theory of originalism, which was first coined in the 1980's. They are similar, but original intent looks to what the framers thought, while original meaning looks to what a 'reasonable person' at that time intended.

The other major theories are the following:

1. Strict Constructionism. This looks to the plain mening of the law. In other words, the law means exactly what it says and you don't look to outside sources.

2. Stare Decisis. This isn't really it's own theory, but it stands for the idea that precedent is important and should stand under most circumstnaces.

3. The Living Constitution. This group of theories state that the Constitution is flexible and contains terms and concepts that change over time.

I am sure there are others, but these are the main ideas. If people want, I can go into more depth, but for now, I'll stick with original intent. One problem is that the founders never sat down and wrote an annotated version of the Constitution. While many of them did publish articles and books on what they wanted, there is still no clear picture of their intent. Another related issue is how do you discern the intent of a very diverse group? People like Jefferson and Hamilton had very different ideas as to what the role of the gov't should be.

The other problem is that the Constitution is silent on how it is supposed to be interpreted. If the founders had a specific method in mind, wouldn't they have included it in the Constitution? Also, the founders began disagreeing and arguing amongst themselves following the ratification of the Constitution.

There are some positive aspects to original intent. It provides a stable framework and gives some needed predictibility to cases. It can also prevent justices from injecting their own biases. This is an important concern, as the Supreme Court is unelected and mostly accountable to no one but themselves. Only one Supreme Court Justice has ever been impeached.

Personally, I like all the theories. There all have positive aspects and I don't understand how anyone can only follow one of them and ignore the others. Supreme Court judges are also not etirely consistent. Scalia and Thomas have both used reasoning that falls under the The Living Constitution theory, even though they are most often associated with Originalism.

There are many conservative programs and laws that are outside original intent and they have benefitted from legal theories that fall under The Living Constitution umbrella, which they often critisize as judicial activism. One of the biggest is home schooling and private schooling. At one time, most states had compulsory public schooling. If you homeschooled or private schooled, you went to jail. Starting in the early 20th century, there were a series of cases that now allow parents to choose how to educate their children. They are based on the Due Process Clause of the 14th amendment and go way beyond the original intent of the ratifiers of that amendment. If those courts had stuck with original intent, homeschooling and private schooling could be banned by the States.

While frustrating, the brillance of our Constitution is it's language that allows some flexibility. This has allowed us to become the longest lasting Constitutional Republic and has served us relatively well as our country went from being a small, sparsely populated, agrarian economy to the vastly different superpower it is today.

fightingpreacher said...

Sorry streak I have been really really busy I will read teh ACLU article today.

fightingpreacher said...

Holy Crap Batman, Steve...uhmmm...what a post...I will have to read that like 10 times to understand it.

Streak said...

Just remember. There are other threads on this blog--including my most recent one on the army.