- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 8, 2009

Teen effects

“The chain reaction was something out of central casting. A medical journal starts it off by announcing a study comparing teens who take a pledge of virginity until marriage with those who don’t. Lo and behold, when they crunch the numbers, they find not much difference between pledgers and nonpledgers. Like a pack of randy 15-year-old boys, the press dives right in.

“‘Virginity Pledges Don’t Stop Teen Sex,’ screams CBS News. ‘Virginity pledges don’t mean much,’ adds CNN. … Here’s the rub: It just isn’t true.

“In fact, the only way the study’s author, Janet Elise Rosenbaum of Johns Hopkins University, could reach such results was by comparing teens who take a virginity pledge with a very small subset of other teens: those who are just as religious and conservative as the pledge-takers. …

“Let’s put this another way. The real headline from this study is this: ‘Religious Teens Differ Little in Sexual Behavior Whether or Not They Take a Pledge.’”

- William McGurn, writing on “Like a Virgin: The Press Take On Teenage Sex,” on Jan. 6 at the Wall Street Journal Online

Generation gap

“Rock and roll, for example, was not a neutral musical genre. The music at my boyhood church was still stuck in the age of barbershop quartets. My parents thought Frank Sinatra was too racy, so they were hardly prepared for Elvis [Presley], [Bob] Dylan, or the Beatles. Rock has to be played loud to be enjoyed, or at least that is what we told our parents, who were constantly yelling at us to turn it down. Rock deafens the senses, including the moral sense, with its incessant beat and garbled lyrics. …

“When the rumor that Bob Dylan had converted to Christianity reached Indianapolis in 1979, during my senior year in high school, I was overjoyed. That one of the greatest rock stars had become one of us was too good to be true. The three Christian albums he recorded, ‘Slow Train Coming,’ ‘Shot of Love,’ and ‘Saved,’ spoke to my ears as much as my heart, because they brought together, for the first time, my faith and my musical taste.

“My students, however, have never heard of these albums, and they take it for granted that rock and Christianity can go hand in hand. They listen to Christian heavy metal bands that make me feel as out of it as my parents were 30 years ago. They do not think that the style of music has any affect on its message.”

- Stephen H. Webb, “Listening to Harry Chapin´s ‘Cat´s in the Cradle,’” on Jan. 1 at the First Things blog On the Square

Like the enemy

“The question is, why do humanists feel the need to preach the (probable) non-existence of the Lord to the commuting masses of London, Washington and beyond? After all, ours has been hailed as a godless age and the influence of religion is at a low ebb. The past couple of years have seen a steady stream of anti-religious books, many of which have topped best-seller lists on both sides of the Atlantic, by a range of atheists, agnostics and secular humanists.

“It seems that the New Atheists, their fans at the British and American Humanist Associations, and others who fear the popularity of god, fall back on religion-bashing rather than trying to convince others that there is merit in their own secular values. Really what irks them about the religious is that they have a grand vision and are committed to live by it - something that is sorely lacking in society at large.

“[Bus campaign designer Ariane] Sherine, writing in the Guardian, says that ‘there´s no doubt that advertising can be effective, and religious advertising works particularly well on those who are vulnerable, frightening them into believing.’ This assertion really brings out what is behind the atheist bus message: the secularists believe they must take it upon themselves to shine a guiding light and steer the easily-duped masses away from the darkness of unreason. The atheist campaigners, rather than trying to engage with the public, are simply preaching at us.”

- Nathalie Rothschild, writing on “All Aboard the Atheist Bus? No Thanks” on Jan. 7 at Spiked Online

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