The Weekend Web
Today’s New York Times has a lengthy piece on sexual-abstinence groups at Ivy League schools. Harvard’s “True Love Revolution” began in 2006 with the intention of providing students with scientific research showing the many dangers of premarital sex. “We found a huge body of scholarship that suggested conclusions that nobody on our campus was making,” says the club founder. According to the Times,
They posted the conclusions on their Web site—the belief that “‘safe sex’ is not safe”; that even the most effective methods of birth control can fail; that early sexual activity is strongly associated with all manner of terrible outcomes, from increased risk of depression to greater likelihood of marital infidelity, divorce and maternal poverty. Premarital abstinence, on the other hand, is held up by True Love Revolution as improving health, promoting better relationships and, best of all, enabling “better sex in your future marriage.”
True Love Revolution has an active core membership of about a dozen people working to get their message out. Harvard professors and administrators, of course, are shamefully silent when it comes to the truth about fornication.
Each year, in my Principles of Living college course at Herbert W. Armstrong College, I have my students read a 1981 Esquire article titled, “The Trouble with Harvard.” Timothy Foote, who graduated from Harvard in 1952, wrote, “Many students drift through Harvard with a nagging sense of failure and anxiety.” They “are turned loose in a system practically without discipline, or order, or viable requirements, or supervision, or even advice.” Foote quoted one professor as saying, “On any given night, the odds are against finding anyone in his or her own bed.”
“Few people seem to disagree,” Foote continued. “By the standards of the age, there’s nothing wrong in that, either. Except that it tends to produce large amounts of emotional exhaustion, domestic squalor, and sheer noise.”
That was in 1981, when steady dating often resulted in promiscuous sex. Today, the deviancy standard has degenerated to a jungle-like, “hookup” culture where dating is now obsolete. According to a 2001 study, 40 percent of college women admitted to hooking up with a young man for casual sex. Ten percent had done it more than six times. Some 91 percent said hookups occurred “very often” or “fairly often” at their school.
Janie Fredell, the current co-president of True Love Revolution, arrived at Harvard in 2005 and quickly discovered that she was in “a culture that says sex is totally OK.” She told the Times, “The hookup culture is so absolutely all-encompassing. It’s shocking! It’s everywhere!”
Friends from her hometown had warned her about life at Harvard. But Fredell wants to be a lawyer, and “people take you more seriously as a Harvard student,” she says. As Foote noted in his 1981 piece, “In a society more preoccupied with the labels on the suitcase than with what’s inside, Harvard is still the best label in town.”
But, in more ways than one, that label comes with a heavy price.
Another point that struck me about True Love Revolution is how they present their message. From what I could tell, all of the club’s core members are deeply religious. But their sexual-abstinence message is presented from a purely secular standpoint. They have to preach this way, they say, in order to gain “credibility” within the university environment. The club’s former president urged its founding members to “shy away from arguments with religious premises.”
If only John Harvard, a Puritan minister, could have foreseen what his theological seminary would have turned into. The founders of America’s oldest educational institution inscribed this on the gates of the university: “After God had carried us safe to New England, and we had builded our houses, provided necessaries for our livelihood, reared convenient places for God’s worship, and settled the civil government; one of the next things we longed for and looked after was to advance learning, and perpetuate it to posterity; dreading to leave an illiterate ministry to the churches, when our present ministers lie in the dust.”
The Harvard of old had roots that were deeply religious. At Harvard today, nothing destroys your credibility quite like God and the Bible.
The Marriage Degree
As I wrote in my Friday column, the marriage rate in Britain has collapsed to its lowest point since its government began keeping statistics in 1862. Minette Marrin’s refreshing column in today’s Sunday Times pins much of the blame for this decline on parental negligence:
Socialization, or upbringing, is the complex process through which a child learns to be a social being—a responsible, considerate, self-disciplined, forbearing adult, who is capable of unselfish love and loyalty. That is to say, incidentally or perhaps not so incidentally, an adult who is capable of putting the best into and getting the best out of marriage.
It is hard to raise a child into such a social being. It takes a huge amount of time and effort. Increasingly it seems parents can’t or won’t spend time and care on their children. Increasingly both parents are working; increasingly single parents are anxious, harried and time-poor; increasingly children are consigned to inadequate day care and nurseries; increasingly they are offered wraparound educare (promoted by Gordon Brown). Increasingly we see the results. Evidence of the failures of this childcare—or child neglect—is constantly emerging. Recent Ofsted reports of preschool nurseries were alarming. Infants are neglected, disoriented and distressed; children in day care are more likely to have disturbed and aggressive behavior, and half of all toddlers arrive at primary school unable to speak properly for their age. Their numbers are growing. To say this suggests a widespread failure of socialization is surely an understatement. By five, a great deal of damage has been done. It only remains for poor schools, large classes, uncontrolled bullying and inaccessible parents, truanting, empty homes, solitary tv and the lonely refuge of cyberspace to reinforce it.
At Herbert W. Armstrong College, the primary focus of our curriculum is to train young people in the field of what Minette Marrin calls socialization. Marriage and family, we teach, is a lifelong career that must be prepared for like any position in the professional world—more so, in fact. As Herbert Armstrong wrote in one of our principle college textbooks, “The years between ages sixteen and twenty-five are the vitally important years of adult preparation for life’s work. These are the crucial years of preparation. During these years the mind is capable of acquiring faster than at any other stage of life the advanced knowledge needed before beginning one’s adult career—whether it be business, profession, occupation or marriage.”
That’s the missing dimension in education today. Universities may still turn out graduates capable of financial success in the professional world. But far too many of these students are failing at life. To learn more about the way of life at Herbert W. Armstrong College, read Education With Vision.
The Democrats’ New Savior?
With Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton nuking each other’s campaigns, Time magazine columnist Joe Klein wonders if Al Gore might emerge from the fallout to save the Democrats in November. In today’sSunday Telegraph, Tim Shipman explains how a Gore nomination, even if unlikely, is still possible:
If neither Mr. Obama nor Mrs. Clinton has the 2,025 delegates needed to win the nomination, and if both appear unable to beat Mr. McCain, under one scenario a group of about 100 party elders—the “super-delegates”—could sit out the first ballot in Denver, preventing either candidate winning outright, and then offer Mr. Gore the nomination for the good of the party.
Shipman interviewed two former Gore aides who said the scenario Gore’s inner circle mapped out last May “now has a sporting chance of coming true.” Shipman wrote, “The opening has emerged because opinion polls show Mr. McCain stretching his lead over both Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton, whose campaigns are engaged in a daily cycle of attacks, character assassination and mutual recriminations on religion, race and the economy.”
Divided We Stand
An interesting bit in the Economist this week about the two nations, as Shaw said, separated by a common language. A poll of Britons and Americans regarding their attitudes on social, political and economic issues revealed some interesting facts:
Like most west Europeans, Britons tend to have more left-wing views than Americans …. The gap between Britain and America is widest on religion: even British Conservatives are a great deal more secular than American Democrats are. The two are a bit closer on social values (abortion, homosexuality and so forth), and they overlap on ideology (mainly, how active the state should be), with Britain’s Tories to the right of America’s Democrats.
On five of the six groups of issues selected, American opinion is far more polarized than British (only nationalism seems to unite America’s left and right). Gone are the days when it was British politics that embraced political extremes and Americans looked on bemused. The gap between Republicans and Democrats is almost always far greater than that between Tories and (usually) Liberal Democrats.
In light of the common ancestry between the two people we often reference, explained in depth in our book The United States and Britain in Prophecy, this paragraph stood out:
Walter Russell Mead, an American observer of foreign affairs, maintains that America and Britain act together so often not because they set out deliberately to do so but because they frequently reach similar conclusions on their own. “The family resemblance is so strong that even our most casual acquaintances can see that we are related,” he writes in “God and Gold,” a good recent book.
Not only are the U.S. and UK related ancestrally, they share a common future, according to biblical prophecy. If you’ve never read The United States and Britain in Prophecy, you owe it to yourself.
Will Robert Mugabe Go Gently Into That Good Night?
Zimbabwe’s election yesterday was the strongest challenge to Robert Mugabe’s power he has yet faced. Voters seemed genuinely determined to express their dissatisfaction with his rulership, which has resulted in 80 percent unemployment and 100,000 percent inflation.
Yet despite the high turnout and widespread frustration, they also recognize the high likelihood that, once the votes are officially counted, Mugabe will somehow manage to secure the votes he needs to remain in power—as always tends to happen when Big Men such as he permit elections to take place. The opposition has claimed victory, but the government called that “speculation and lies,” and called any such proclamations before official results are announced a coup d’état. Monsters and Critics.com said the country is “on knife edge”:
“This is a very dangerous moment for Zimbabwe,” the Sunday Independent newspaper in neighboring South Africa, home to millions of Zimbabwean refugees, said, warning of the potential for violence “whatever the results.”
Just the Facts, Please
A new study shows just how bad the media is at reporting on events in Israel. Speculation in Israeli headlines has increased 250 percent over the past 20 years.
[Dr. Moti] Zeiger researched 1,745 front-page headlines in the three leading Israeli newspapers since 1985, and came up with this tidbit: A third of the headlines relate to events that may never happen.
Most significant is the fact that the phenomenon is very much on the rise. Twenty years ago, only 17 percent of the headlines were speculative, while today, that number has risen to 41 percent.
Memo to World: How to Get Britain Excited About Politics
Britain, which brought the world Dianamania, still goes gaga over pretty women on state business. French President Nicolas Sarkozy visited Britain this week with his new wife, former model Carla Bruni, and she enchanted them. The Timesreported,
[S]tate visits have seldom seemed so exciting.
Or frivolous, as some were saying. Is this what politics has come to: a circus or, as one commentator put it, a “soufflé of silliness”? Have we entered the epoch of the showmen presidents, the “barons of bling”? Seldom has Britain seen anything like the “Carlamania” that engulfed the nation when the Italian pin-up turned première dame stepped off her plane from Paris ….
Elsewhere on the Web
Geert Wilders’s controversial film about the Koran and radical Islam is now available on Arutz Sheva. The video was pulled from the website LiveLeak after its employees received death threats. Network Solutions has blocked Geert Wilders’s home page, leaving Arutz Sheva as one of the few websites showing it.
The New York Sunreported last week that the U.S. Federal Reserve had loans totaling $37 billion to large securities firms as of last Wednesday. Most telling, however, was that the figure had increased 28.5 percent over the previous week, indicating that the rupturing of the U.S. banking sector is far from over.
As fashionable as it might be for the major media to report on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s declining popularity in Iran, the Guardian’s Hossein Derakhshan says the facts on the ground suggest he is as popular as ever. “[H]is allies have won six consecutive elections in the past six years,” Derakhshan says, and even in elections where reformists were allowed to run.
And Finally …
In case you missed it, last night from 8 to 9 p.m., environmentalists valiantly turned off the power in an effort to slow global warming. “It’s largely a symbolic event,” said Leslie Aun, a spokeswoman for the World Wildlife Fund, which advocated the move. “But symbols are powerful things.”
Apparently she hasn’t been told about the global cooling that has occurred over the past decade. If electricity generation is actually warming temperatures as wwf suggests, we may need to stage a global campaign advocating two hours of gratuitous electricity usage in order to correct the situation.