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May 09, 2006

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will spotts

Very interesting set of statistics. (This fits fairly closely with patterns I see.) Still, I'm left to wonder if there is any measure beside self-identification that could be used? For one thing, we thrive on the "myth of the golden mean" ethos that prizes being "in the center" or "moderate". I would think (without statistical backup) that this would increase the self-identification of these groups.

Of course, out of the other side of my mouth . . . what do you make of the (still small, but statistically significant) shift to the poles?

Michael Kruse

I share your suspicion about the measure. However, despite its lack of precision I think gives a useful picture.

As to the shift in both directions away from the middle, I think it indicates a polarization within the denomination. I would be curious to see how the same question did with the larger culture during the same time period. Is this just a reflection of the culture or something specific to our denominational circumstances? I suspect it is largely a reflection of the culture.

One thing I found particularly interesting was Beau’s observation that the most strident at either end of the spectrum used here are disproportionately birthright Presbyterians. I had been coming to that conclusion before reading the book.

What are you thoughts on the shift?

will spotts

I concur that this is a cultural phenomenon. It's not unique to this time in history, but the US has been tilting toward the poles lately.

Part of the Presbyterian phenomenon may have to do with the loosening of denominational affiliation. Those who are most vocal about the direction of the church (which kind of have incompatible directions in mind) are those who have a strong buy in to Presbyterian heritage. On the left, these tend to identify that with modernist views (and now post-modern) -- viewing these as the logical progression of Reformed thought. On the conservative side, the content, rather than direction of reformed thought is more emphasized. Both feel that they are the legitimate inheritors of Presbyterianism.

Transplants don't tend to have that buy in. Thus they tend to be more phlegmatic about the direction of the church: they can always leave it it really offends them.

Michael Kruse

Interesting thoughts, Will. I think you may be on to something.

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