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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Mailvox: the anti-Puritans

SJ emails and makes what I consider to be an all-too-common mistake among Christians with regards to the rating system I created upon request yesterday:
Read your post on a Christian Ratings System. As the father of two young boys, there is a lot I like about this. And I laugh at how similar my experiences are with other Christian fathers. But I think it is important to think through one aspect of this sort of effort: Christians have self-selected towards being at the bottom of the food chain, often the victims, in our modern society.

That isn’t necessarily meant as a defense of modern society, other than being a reminder of the reality we live in. Regardless, I am sick and tired of Christians coming up on the short end, and I am concerned that the lesson that our churches and families are teaching our young men. With my own boys, I have taken the tack of raising Christian men in a Fallen and potentially violent world. I see no disparity between Christianity, being strong, and being realistic. In, not of.

Thus, I don’t necessarily argue with the idea of scores per se, but of the thresholds. For example, I am not sure that I wouldn’t let my boys read something more than a 15, and I balk at saying that a book that contains openly atheist characters scores a +3. What about the atheist characters being contrasted with Christian characters? What about setting up an atheist for a religious awakening?

My point is really not to pick nits, or to argue line items, but to try to argue for:

a) a more granular system that allows for more insight into the “Christians” of the book
b) in support of (a) but more tangentially, possibly having categories of scores
c) somehow trying to allow for books and material that encourages a realistic approach to Christianity

It’s really this latter point that makes me write this email because by making such a scoring system seems likely to help the self-same self-selecting Christians to self-select into ever more naive, victim-filled categories. I think this is especially true if the system is more or less linear and additive, as you have suggested. Ultimately, you are on to a great idea here, but it shouldn’t abide by the standards and metrics that a Fallen world has seen fit to place on Christianity. For example, some Christians swear, dammit, and the Song of Solomon is ostensibly about Sex. Perhaps with a little more granularity and possibly with some helpful Categories, this becomes a tool to teach rather than a grading system for my 4th grade Sunday School teacher.
I think we may need a word to describe the modern Christian anti-Puritan, the sort of Christian who fears that somewhere, somehow, there might be another Christian out there who is insufficiently exposed to the world. But is there truly a Christian in the world of 2015 who is insufficiently exposed to the material existence of godlessness, obscenity, sex, and sin? And what shall we call these advocates of being sufficiently engulfed by the world, though not of it? Soilitans? Filthians? Those Who Wallow? Edified Mudrollers?

My more literate response is to quote Aslan: “Child…I am telling your story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own.”

It is no more SJ's business to concern himself with how these self-selecting Christians self-select into ever more naive, victim-filled categories than it is for them to determine the precise threshold that will determine what books his young boys are permitted to read. And notice that all of his concerns are about influence and interpretation; he is bothered by the idea of simply permitting other Christians to acquire accurate information about the books and make their own judgments concerning them. In answer to his questions and points:
  1. What about the atheist characters being contrasted with Christian characters?
  2. What about setting up an atheist for a religious awakening?
  3. a more granular system that allows for more insight into the “Christians” of the book
  4. in support of (3) but more tangentially, possibly having categories of scores
  5. somehow trying to allow for books and material that encourages a realistic approach to Christianity 
1. What about them? Whether they are contrasted with Christian characters or not, the either exist in the book or they don't. Why should parents who don't want their children to be prematurely exposed to atheism be intentionally kept in the dark from knowing that there is a godless character in a book?

2. What about it? I'd rather like a system that would warn me: LAME AND UTTERLY CONVENTIONAL CONVERSION STORY AHEAD so I could avoid ever reading the book. "And then he became a Christian and lived happily ever after" is not the sort of thing I'm interested in supporting even if that was within the scope of the rating system. Which it isn't. Regardless of what happens to the atheist over the course of the book, he is still there. How can any Christian rationally oppose parents simply being informed of godlessness in their children's books?

I am perhaps uniquely qualified to comment on this. Does anyone seriously think I am even remotely afraid of exposing my children to atheist arguments, let alone fictional atheist characters presenting dumbed-down versions of those arguments? I throw Plato and Cicero and William S. Lind at my kids, does anyone seriously doubt that they can chew up arguments presented by the likes of Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins without even blinking? At the same time, I'd still like to know that they are being tested in this way when it is taking place.

3. No. That goes well beyond the purpose of the rating system, which is to simply inform parents what is in the book. It doesn't involve insight into anyone, for any reason. It describes, it doesn't interpret.

4. The more complicated the system, the less useful it is and the less anyone will use it. Again, this is an attempt to sneak interpretation and influence in through the back door.

5. And who is to define "a realistic approach to Christianity"? I doubt anyone wants me doing that. Here the attempt to influence is overt, which is in absolute contradiction to the intention of the ratings system, which is simply to inform parents of what specific elements are present within works of fiction.

The rating system is a tool for people to use, not a tool for using people. Try to keep that in mind if you're looking to improve it.

Labels: , ,

103 Comments:

Blogger Mr.MantraMan February 11, 2015 7:25 AM  

IMO there should be a rather large market for hope as represented by the good that Christianity at least in theory could provide to a hopeless people, and it seems to me that Americans and the American worshippers around the world are the most hopeless people on this planet. America's public face is hopelessness, and now a word from our advertisers to sooth your angst.

Blogger Subversive Saint February 11, 2015 7:31 AM  

There is hope when the end of the story is already known!

Faster Please.

Anonymous Stephen J. February 11, 2015 7:53 AM  

I think your point about simply describing rather than interpreting is a really good one, but maybe then it makes sense simply to use a very simple system like the rating system for movies or video games: G, PG, PG- 13, R and NC- 17, combined with simple verbal descriptions of the problematic elements -- extreme violence; explicit non-marital sexuality; explicit negations or contradictions of religion or Christianity, or negative depictions only of Christians, etc.

Blogger CDM February 11, 2015 8:03 AM  

"...the purpose of the rating system, which is to simply inform parents what is in the book. It doesn't involve insight into anyone, for any reason. It describes, it doesn't interpret."

Exactly. Reading the comments from the OP I still do not understand what on earth a professed Christian parent could object to in Vox's proposed rating system. Do these anti-puritans also object to nutrition labels?

Blogger Nate February 11, 2015 8:40 AM  

I would be proud to accept the term Anti-Puritan.

Awkward as it is mate... you don't live here. You don't know what's going on in the church day to day. These neo-puritans are by not what you think they are. They are not nice little Ned Flanders doing his own thing. They are asshole totalitarians.

Do I welcome a strong christian response to the moral decline in our nation? Absolutely. Do I think neo-puritanism is even remotely a desirable strategy? Hell no.

I have no problem with a parent wanting to control what their child is exposed to. In fact... I already criticized those who don't make major efforts to do so. But neo-puritanism? No.

I absolutely am an anti-puritan.

A pox on them.

Blogger Nate February 11, 2015 8:43 AM  

"Do these anti-puritans also object to nutrition labels?"

I have stickers on games that tell me nothing. I have ratings on movies that tell me nothing. I have warning labels on music that tells me nothing.

Yes. By all means! Lets have another label that tells us nothing.

Blogger Nate February 11, 2015 8:44 AM  

All of this clamouring for rating systems.

One wonders how many would be so enthusiastic if we called it a Trigger Warning System.

Blogger Vox February 11, 2015 8:50 AM  

I have stickers on games that tell me nothing. I have ratings on movies that tell me nothing. I have warning labels on music that tells me nothing.

They don't tell you nothing. And it is prodigiously stupid to pretend that you're going to read every book that your children read. I am certainly not wasting my time reading YA stuff of potential interest to an eight year old. If you want to occupy your time that way, go ahead.

Got atheists and homosexuals in it? That's all I need to know. There are plenty of other books out there and they can read something else.

Blogger Vox February 11, 2015 8:54 AM  

Awkward as it is mate... you don't live here. You don't know what's going on in the church day to day. These neo-puritans are by not what you think they are. They are not nice little Ned Flanders doing his own thing. They are asshole totalitarians.

I have no doubt. But anti-puritans are every bit as assholish. It's not their fucking business what I read, what my children read, or how I decide what I let my children read. And it's not your business either.

The fact that I am anti-anti-Puritan does not mean I am pro-Puritan. Everybody needs to mind their own Christian business. Jesus said it: log-eye. CS Lewis said it. I'm saying it. What more does anyone need to grasp this very simple concept?

It is absolutely and perfectly reasonable to want to know what is in a box before you open it. And that's all this is. Use it or not, as you wish.

Anonymous Jeanne February 11, 2015 9:04 AM  

I want to know if a book has atheism and godlessness, homosexuality, feministic themes, portrayal of single parents and divorced families, and/or sexual content.

I appreciate a rating system that gives me a heads up on things like that. I have already exhausted the supply of books that I read as a kid and know are okay and the ones that others I trust have recommended. My kids read a lot, and there is simply no way I can read every single book they want to read.

I would definitely use this system.

Anonymous Eowyn February 11, 2015 9:06 AM  

SJ must be the type that believes you're supposed to throw your kids into the lion's den that is public school so they can "witness" to the unwashed masses.

Anonymous Gecko February 11, 2015 9:07 AM  

I think one of the other big flaws here, which Vox hinted at in point 5, is the assumption that exposure to anti-Christian literature is like exposure to reality. For example, my biggest beef with A Song of Ice and Fire is that, despite what its proponents rabidly claim, it is NOT more realistic than The Lord of The Rings. Yes, I'm talking about fantasy worlds in the context of realism. Which work is honestly going to better prepare our children for the deep philosophical struggles of our day?

Blogger Nate February 11, 2015 9:07 AM  

:They don't tell you nothing. And it is prodigiously stupid to pretend that you're going to read every book that your children read. I am certainly not wasting my time reading YA stuff of potential interest to an eight year old. If you want to occupy your time that way, go ahead."

Why do I have to let my kid read YA shit? I don't. I let them read the good stuff I read when I was kid. It was funny to me how many people PM'd me yesterday to say "umm.. I read and watch everything my kid reads or watches too. what's the big deal?"

"It's not their fucking business what I read, what my children read, or how I decide what I let my children read. And it's not your business either."

Take it up with the puritans. They're the ones that are interested. I don't care. I dislike ratings systems because I view them a useless. They don't tell me what I want to know. I don't see how they can tell anyone what they need to know because everyone has such radically different ideas of what is and is not acceptable.

"Got atheists and homosexuals in it? That's all I need to know. "

Then why an elaborate numerical rating system that doesn't actually tell you that unless you dig through the description to learn it?




Anonymous Joe Doakes February 11, 2015 9:08 AM  

What rating would be assigned to popular young adult fantasy: the first Harry Potter book, Sorcerer's Stone; the first Harry Dresden book, Storm Front or any one of the Percy Jackson books? And how would you rate The War In Heaven series?

Blogger Joshua Dyal February 11, 2015 9:09 AM  

The fact that I am anti-anti-Puritan does not mean I am pro-Puritan. Everybody needs to mind their own Christian business. Jesus said it: log-eye. CS Lewis said it. I'm saying it. What more does anyone need to grasp this very simple concept?

Which is why I wonder at the grousing over the proposal. If it's not of use to you, or you don't like it--it's pretty easy to ignore it. If it's of use to some other Christian also fighting the good fight in their own way, so to speak, more power to them.

Blogger Vox February 11, 2015 9:12 AM  

It was funny to me how many people PM'd me yesterday to say "umm.. I read and watch everything my kid reads or watches too. what's the big deal?"

Not everyone has the same number of children or amount of time. The fact that you don't need a snowblower either doesn't mean that someone in Alaska doesn't.

Take it up with the puritans. They're the ones that are interested. I don't care.

You've chosen a strange way of showing that lack of interest. You're openly trying to prevent people from using a system a) they requested, b) they want, and c) in which they have declared they find value.

How is that different than a Puritan who wants you not to listen to Satanic rock music?

Anonymous MrGreenMan February 11, 2015 9:14 AM  

I remember back in grad school hearing from a topology professor that he had recommended the math journals remove all spacing and punctuation so as to save on printing costs, because only a handful of experts actually read the papers, and, if others needed to know about them and put the effort into reading it, they would hear that something transcended the cheaper option of not reading it.

In the same way, if this transcendent book existed - let's say it is of an atheist homosexual SJW advocate coming to Christ and then accepting that his life would be forfeit, and going on to speak truth to power to ISIS and be beheaded but knowing that it was the least he could do for his Lord, and it was, really, a perfect children's story too - and this transcendent book had a very high score, which would naturally put it off, well, in that case, somebody would talk about it, and they would start, "Despite it's high score, here's why you should read this." And, then you would be persuaded to consider bending the rule on the score, or not.

Yet you would have filtered out a giant amount of dreck by using the descriptive score to weed out the vast majority of books that are designed to do that thing Mr. Wilson so wanted - to permanently alienate the views and opinions of children from their fathers.

Seems like an excellent thing. The simpler the better. I thought the numbers in the first post were close enough to good that the perfect should not be sought in this case.

Blogger Nate February 11, 2015 9:16 AM  

"It is absolutely and perfectly reasonable to want to know what is in a box before you open it. And that's all this is. Use it or not, as you wish."

I dunno mate. Maybe I'm just numb to this now. Its been so long since I could even consider letting my kids read new sci-fi or fantasy I just don't even think about it. It was already going to total shit before my kids were born. Out side of the old stuff... It just doesn't exist for us.

Maybe the rating system could end up actually opening up a market.

I don't think a number is the way to go though.

Maybe create ranges... and assign ratings to those ranges... and then employ the number system behind the scenes to actually get the rating.

Blogger Nate February 11, 2015 9:20 AM  

"You've chosen a strange way of showing that lack of interest. You're openly trying to prevent people from using a system a) they requested, b) they want, and c) in which they have declared they find value."

Prevent?

How exactly is pointing out flaws trying to prevent? I certainly didn't tell anyone not to use a rating system. I said I think this is lazy parenting.

Blogger Nate February 11, 2015 9:21 AM  

'How is that different than a Puritan who wants you not to listen to Satanic rock music?"

The puritan wants to put labels on the satanic rock music so he can then get laws passed to ban the satanic rock music.

I just called someone lazy.

I think there is a fairly obvious difference.

Blogger Brad Andrews February 11, 2015 9:22 AM  

Small nit: "the either exist" should be "they either exist".

====

I would still argue that a multipart number is more valuable than a single number.

Split your questions into categories (sex, atheism/worldview,etc.) and note the score in each. That way I can keep my children from what I strongly thought about.

I could then filter out the explicit sexuality of some of the science fiction authors I read as a teen without purging out other things. The granularity allows the parent to better do what they find best without spending much time at all at it.

Four categories would seem about right. I have named two and I am sure we could agree on one or two more without huge difficulty.

Why must it be a single number?

Blogger Brad Andrews February 11, 2015 9:23 AM  

Small nit: "the either exist" should be "they either exist".

====

I would still argue that a multipart number is more valuable than a single number.

Split your questions into categories (sex, atheism/worldview,etc.) and note the score in each. That way I can keep my children from what I strongly thought about.

I could then filter out the explicit sexuality of some of the science fiction authors I read as a teen without purging out other things. The granularity allows the parent to better do what they find best without spending much time at all at it.

Four categories would seem about right. I have named two and I am sure we could agree on one or two more without huge difficulty.

Why must it be a single number?

Anonymous MrGreenMan February 11, 2015 9:28 AM  

"Why must it be a single number?"

What do you think the fraction of the popular culture is that is filth?

However great that fraction is, you want to invest commensurately less time in discarding. If filth is plentiful, then you want to filter quickly.

I thought the impetus behind this was that, upon surveying the horizon, the thinking was there was a high filth fraction, therefore, you are seeking gems in the rough, not seeking the one counterfeit in a sea of gold. Further, the desire is not to prod kids to read, but to have a way of quick discernment with high accuracy that what they are consuming is good, which means that you would be happier to throw out stuff that could be good because you want to filter out bad stuff quickly and with high accuracy.

Anonymous MrGreenMan February 11, 2015 9:29 AM  

"the desire is not to prod kids to read"

To clarify: Because they're already reaching for something, so the desire problem is solved, now it's onto phase two: appropriateness.

Blogger Marissa February 11, 2015 9:39 AM  

MrGreenMan, who is the Mr. Wilson you're referring to?

OpenID cailcorishev February 11, 2015 9:58 AM  

Why must it be a single number?

For the same reason that movies get a single rating, even though one R may be for very different reasons from another. The point is to quickly winnow down possibilities, not to give you a detailed look at every selection's qualities. If a movie is PG-13, you know right away that it won't have certain things, and you can look closer if you want. If it's X, you know it's not for family night and you can move on. If movies came with five different ratings on the screen for different things, no one would pay any attention to them.

Blogger JartStar February 11, 2015 10:03 AM  

Its been so long since I could even consider letting my kids read new sci-fi or fantasy I just don't even think about it. It was already going to total shit before my kids were born. Out side of the old stuff... It just doesn't exist for us.

This smacks of laziness to me. There is good stuff being currently written, Castalia House anyone? Or how about Monster Hunters or some of the Baen books? JCWs Count to a Trillion series is definitely appropriate for teens and is recent.


Blogger Aquila Aquilonis February 11, 2015 10:13 AM  

Since we are talking about books, may I state that I NEED more QUANTUM MORTIS? Reading the forcible laser removal scene was one of the highlights of my literary year so far.

Blogger Nate February 11, 2015 10:13 AM  

"This smacks of laziness to me. "

Again... why should I bother? I have tons of material for them to get through that they absolutely will love and do love... and I know its appropriate.

Blogger Giraffe February 11, 2015 10:25 AM  

I have all girls. I don't think they will be too interested in the books I read as a kid.

Blogger Student in Blue February 11, 2015 10:25 AM  

The puritan wants to put labels on the satanic rock music so he can then get laws passed to ban the satanic rock music.

You seem convinced that all labels lead to censoring.

Blogger sconzey February 11, 2015 10:33 AM  

Actually, I think modern Christians can have a blind spot when it comes to 'Christian' books. You couldn't ask for a kinder set of parents than raised me and I love them to bits, but there's something funny and ironic about my mum meekly paperclipping the pages together of -- what was in retrospect -- a fairly chaste sex scene in the first Michael Crichton book I read... but quite happily letting me read The Visitation and one of the Left Behind books -- I forget which. To this day, they remain the only two times I've read something that really freaked me out.

Blogger grendel February 11, 2015 10:33 AM  

Christian Libertards: haunted by the fear that someone out there isn't using their "Christian liberty" as an excuse to be vile.

Blogger Vox February 11, 2015 10:35 AM  

Christian Libertards: haunted by the fear that someone out there isn't using their "Christian liberty" as an excuse to be vile.

Wow, that's TOTALLY going to catch on. Well struck!

Blogger Simon Jester February 11, 2015 10:36 AM  

Hi ... SJ here. While Vox says that I miss the point of the ratings system, I would say that he is missing the effects of it.

I am not overly concerned with anyone else's Christianity, at least not in this context. And the existence or not of this ratings system won't necessarily help or hinder me from exposing my kids to things I think appropriate, regardless of what a rating system says.

I suspect my real problem is that a yardstick is very two dimensional, and there are at least two more dimensions to evaluate when I am trying to think about what / how / why to expose my children to. And because Vox is setting out a yardstick, it seems to me that a helpful yardstick is better than a simplistic two-dimensional yardstick that is as useless as the MPAA's.

In the larger socio-economic milieu, I worry that these sorts of yardsticks don't help you find challenging material and only act as a group defining metric. Seeing as how Christians are the most persecuted religion on Earth, it seems fair to want to direct Western Christians to material that encourages and teaches. I am all too familiar about the damage ... yes, damage ... that children overly weened by puritanical busy-bodies in our Christian churches, schools, and groups see. Part of my motivation is to raise children who see Christianity as a lens through which to view a broken world, not as an excuse to retreat from it.

Anyway, it's interesting that you want to lump me into a category of Filthiist; I find that more than a little objectionable and despicable. Nothing could be further from my intention, nor of my actions.

Blogger Nate February 11, 2015 10:38 AM  

'You seem convinced that all labels lead to censoringYou seem convinced that all labels lead to censoring"

I think Vox innocently stepped into a shit storm he didn't know existed. And indeed... most people don't.

I absolutely believe the neo-puritans would use such things for censoring. it starts out as "I want this to protect my family" and ends up as a hammer to bash other christians over the head with. "did you know X was reading Y? You know what that book was rated?"

I don't judge things like this by the good good people can use them for. I judge them by the bad bad people can use them for.

You see a tool.

I see a weapon.

Anonymous Donn February 11, 2015 10:39 AM  

Jartstar - My kid reads a book in a day or two. He has easily exhausted my library of books that are appropriate for him and I have thousands of books. Not all of CH is appropriate for him. Not all of the books I have read are appropriate for him either.

I read tens of thousands of books growing up. I own thousands now including old magazines with sci-fi and fantasy. Most of those books are not appropriate for a sensitive 11 year old who prefers the KJV of the Bible and Lord of the Rings to Harry Potter.

I'm just one parent who would like this. I think a numerical rating along with warnings like the MPAA ratings would work. For instance, '15 for deviant sexuality, atheism, feminism'. I don't think it's useful to include just a number without listing why it has a number.

Blogger Marissa February 11, 2015 10:40 AM  

but quite happily letting me read The Visitation

That's really not a scary part in the Bible.

Blogger Marissa February 11, 2015 10:46 AM  

You see a tool.

I see a weapon.


Dianne Feinstein? ::ducks::

Also, the MPAAs are a bad example. There is nothing Christian about them and something like recent Disney movies, which are rated G, would rate really high on this scale due to disrespectful children (who aren't disciplined), feminist ideas and anti-male messages.

Anonymous Donn February 11, 2015 10:47 AM  

So to prevent people from 'censoring' (censoring how I wonder) you'd discourage people from trying to find wholesome entertainment and education for their children.

There is no way on God's green earth that puritans or anti-puritans or anyone short of St Michael with a thunderbolt in his hand that anyone could forcibly censor anything in America in this day and age. Unless it was Christian and we're talking public school.

Anonymous P_R February 11, 2015 10:49 AM  

My only suggestion regarding the rating was instead of just saying "This book scored a 14", to instead say "This book scored a 14, because it got 5 for x, 5 for y, 4 for z). In this way over time I would begin to develop a sense for where my standards are on a given subject compared to that of the reviewer. Then I can say "Well this book got marks for violence, but I know that the reviewers standard for violence is much more strict than mine, so I'll buy this book" or "This book got marks for sex, but I know that the reviewer's standard for "sex" is much looser than mine, so I'll give this book a miss.

Blogger Nate February 11, 2015 10:51 AM  

" There is nothing Christian about them and something like recent Disney movies, which are rated G, would rate really high on this scale due to disrespectful children (who aren't disciplined), feminist ideas and anti-male messages."

And how would the actual Grimm Fairy Tales rate on this system?

Blogger Nate February 11, 2015 10:54 AM  

"So to prevent people from 'censoring' (censoring how I wonder) you'd discourage people from trying to find wholesome entertainment and education for their children. "

oh ffs... no one is telling you not to find wholesome entertainment for your children. ratings systems don't exist today and yet somehow we've (and by we I mean pretty much everyone that actually tried) managed to get it done.

I don't fault anyone for trying. i don't fault people for looking for new ways to achieve that goal.

I do not like this particular means.

Blogger Vox February 11, 2015 11:00 AM  

Anyway, it's interesting that you want to lump me into a category of Filthiist; I find that more than a little objectionable and despicable. Nothing could be further from my intention, nor of my actions.

What else would you call an anti-Puritan? Why do you think your meddling in other Christians' business would be any more welcome than theirs? And why would you think it was a serious suggestion when "Edified Mudrollers" was also an option?

You may have more in common with the Puritans than you think.

I suspect my real problem is that a yardstick is very two dimensional, and there are at least two more dimensions to evaluate when I am trying to think about what / how / why to expose my children to.

That's fine. But I didn't create this for you. And virtually no one is going to create ratings for, or use, a three-dimensional literary yardstick. If you want one, great, do it. It's not my concern.

I am all too familiar about the damage ... yes, damage ... that children overly weened by puritanical busy-bodies in our Christian churches, schools, and groups see.

I think you have a severely sheltered perspective on Western society if you think that's a serious problem. It's hardly comparable to the damage that stems from being overexposed to the filth.

I absolutely believe the neo-puritans would use such things for censoring. it starts out as "I want this to protect my family" and ends up as a hammer to bash other christians over the head with. "did you know X was reading Y? You know what that book was rated?"

You care a lot more about what neo-puritans may or may not do than me. I can honestly say that I am about as concerned what Nazis, Fabian Socialists, or platypuses might do with it.

Blogger Marissa February 11, 2015 11:02 AM  

The protagonists in Grimm's Fairy Tales are rewarded for virtue and suffering and punished for vice and indulgence. Mother Hulda is a good example. Some of them are explicitly Christian while those that pre-date the spread of Christianity to Germanic areas feature a pagan understanding of virtue (which is miles ahead of modern ideas of virtue). They are still entertainment though, and no one is owed Grimm's fairy tales.

I wouldn't read the Goose Girl to a 6-year-old girl though (maybe a boy of the same age).

Blogger Simon Jester February 11, 2015 11:04 AM  

So, I hate to criticize something without offering up a rejoinder.

John C Wright set out an incredibly insightful guide to RPG alignments. You can find it here:

http://www.scifiwright.com/2014/05/alignment-and-realism/

As to why this is important, Wright also provides a nice piece as to the problems I have with a ratings system in the first place:

http://www.scifiwright.com/2015/02/rating-wright-for-christ-friendliness/#more-13407

See his points about how to score his own material; it is a sure bet that his own scorings (which seem fair) would be challenged in a social medium as people wrestled with questions of measurement, intentionality, etc.

My point is this: a two dimensional yardstick like a simple number where more is worse than better precludes any insight into the material. We can all think of a bunch of examples (which is exactly my point), but take a movie like Ronin, rated R on a simple two dimensional scale, that I find almost unobjectionable. I have shown parts of this movie to my boys in discussing a warrior ethos. But a two dimensional guide would rate this as "R", or in Vox's system, something on the order of +26 (is physical violence additive?).

But Wright's alignment could be used to assay the worldview of a movie as judged by the moral choices the characters make through the arc of the story. So if you were to combine something like Wright's alignment this with a number, it would provide some real insight into material. Ronin might be a 26 Pragmatic. This at least paints a picture of the material, useful as a guide rather than a simplistic metric.

There are other ways to do this:

+ you could break the ratings into categories
+ you could subtract points for desirable qualities
+ you could create a table that provides ratings shaded against different axes of consideration

Blogger Nate February 11, 2015 11:08 AM  

"I think you have a severely sheltered perspective on Western society if you think that's a serious problem."

And that's the problem Vox... there very much IS a neo-puritan sub culture out there that you simply don't know about. And it is damaging. You've read some of the horror stories on this blog about guys marrying girls who have no idea what sex is and are so psychologically screwed up they can't actually have sex at all. You're read about these poor bastards in the whole 'courting' movement that desperately want to get married but can't because of some insane puritanical standard that no one can ever live up to.

Is it a Big Problem on the civilizational level? no. Are the puritans and anti-puritans on the same side of the culture war? Yes.

But people who are forced to deal with anti-puritan vs puritan struggle are going to see things like this very differently than people who are blissfully unaware that it exists.




Blogger Nate February 11, 2015 11:16 AM  

"They are still entertainment though, and no one is owed Grimm's fairy tales."

That's where you're mistaken. You see them as entertainment. I see them as teaching valuable lessons about the very real dangers in the world in ways children can easily understand.

Anonymous Eric Ashley February 11, 2015 11:16 AM  

The original Grimm's were for adults, or so I've heard.

/nit's picked.

Blogger Marissa February 11, 2015 11:18 AM  

What you said: You see them as entertainment. I see them as teaching valuable lessons about the very real dangers in the world in ways children can easily understand.

What I said: The protagonists in Grimm's Fairy Tales are rewarded for virtue and suffering and punished for vice and indulgence. Mother Hulda is a good example. Some of them are explicitly Christian while those that pre-date the spread of Christianity to Germanic areas feature a pagan understanding of virtue (which is miles ahead of modern ideas of virtue).

Both/and not either/or. What I mean by "it's entertainment" is that, ultimately, no one is owed Grimm's fairy tales.

OpenID cailcorishev February 11, 2015 11:25 AM  

Also, the MPAAs are a bad example.

It's a good example in the sense that it provides a single score which everyone knows is imperfect, yet it provides useful information. If a movie is G rated, that tells you certain things about it, especially about what will not be in it. If there are things the MPAA rating doesn't tell you, like whether it promotes non-Christian religions, then you have to research those things for yourself if they matter to you. But that doesn't mean the G was worthless.

As I often find myself saying in IQ discussions, you don't throw away your yardstick because it's bad for measuring farmland and worthless for measuring humidity. You use it for the information it gives you, and use something else if that's not all you need.

I don't think we have to worry about the neo-puritans using the Vox scale, because it's clearly nowhere near restrictive and nit-picky enough for them.

Blogger Nate February 11, 2015 11:29 AM  

"
I don't think we have to worry about the neo-puritans using the Vox scale, because it's clearly nowhere near restrictive and nit-picky enough for them."

Actually it looks perfect for them.

Anonymous Eric Ashley February 11, 2015 11:29 AM  

This reminds one a bit of the anti-anti-communists who did a good job of turning being anti-communist (or neo-puritan) into worse than communist.

Also 'libertard' is unexpectedly apt, I suspect because, my guess is that this is a proxy for the continuing war of Libertarians upon Socons. This helps explain the bizzarre level of enthusiasm the Filthiests are displaying.

One side is 'go away mosquito' and the other side is Most Impor10 Evar ElventyTen!!

Blogger Josh February 11, 2015 11:31 AM  

I don't think we have to worry about the neo-puritans using the Vox scale, because it's clearly nowhere near restrictive and nit-picky enough for them.

Well...also because the scale might point out that some of them, were they to apply the scale to every book, might find that some of the books they thought were okay were actually very very bad.

Blogger Nate February 11, 2015 11:33 AM  

Vox

Is CH going to start employing this rating system? Like including it on all the books?

Blogger Nate February 11, 2015 11:34 AM  

"This helps explain the bizzarre level of enthusiasm the Filthiests are displaying."

Again... who is advocating for filth?

Blogger Josh February 11, 2015 11:36 AM  

Also 'libertard' is unexpectedly apt, I suspect because, my guess is that this is a proxy for the continuing war of Libertarians upon Socons. This helps explain the bizzarre level of enthusiasm the Filthiests are displaying.

More accurate to state that some libertarians are trying to save the socons from themselves...

Anonymous Eric Ashley February 11, 2015 11:45 AM  

Nate...I'm using Vox's term cuz its funny, understood, concise, and as Rush said 'a joke has to have a grain of truth in it to be funny'.

Josh....now that clears the air of lies, and is a good thing to say.

Blogger Nate February 11, 2015 11:49 AM  

"Nate...I'm using Vox's term cuz its funny, understood, concise, and as Rush said 'a joke has to have a grain of truth in it to be funny'."

You're using it wrong. The Filthiests are people like Martin and Scalzi that write and create filth.

We're the anti-puritans... who would rather not have the puritans telling everyone that the whole western cannon of literature is actually really super double-plus naughty.

Blogger Vox February 11, 2015 11:50 AM  

Is CH going to start employing this rating system? Like including it on all the books?

I hadn't given the matter a moment's thought. I doubt it. We might host a reference guide if there is sufficient interest.

I have absolutely no problem warning parents not to let their kids read my books. Book Two is in Martin territory, although it's not pointless shock schlock designed to titillate.

Blogger Josh February 11, 2015 11:50 AM  

I have absolutely no problem warning parents not to let their kids read my books.

What age do you think would be appropriate for your books?

Blogger Vox February 11, 2015 11:51 AM  

And that's the problem Vox... there very much IS a neo-puritan sub culture out there that you simply don't know about. And it is damaging.

It's also trivial. You have only to read the female sex statistics to know it doesn't affect that many people.

Blogger Vox February 11, 2015 11:53 AM  

What age do you think would be appropriate for your books?

Depends on the book. I'd say 14 for most, 16 for ATOB and The World in Shadow.

Blogger Simon Jester February 11, 2015 11:53 AM  

Why do you think your meddling in other Christians' business would be any more welcome than theirs?

I am not meddling any more than you are. The intent is to create a useful ratings system. I don't hold sway over anyone other than my own family.

You are trying to make a rhetorical point by lumping me into a group of anti-puritanists. I think you are jumping to conclusions that are unwarranted by reality, and neither by my email.

You may have more in common with the Puritans than you think.

I don't think; I know. But I am trying to draw a line between the politics and rhetoric of an affirmative Christianity, and the realistic necessity of conservative libertarianism. It seems to me that this ratings guide hits that sweet spot, though not as you have detailed it out.

It seems clear that you have deeply misunderstood my email and my intentions. So be it.


That's fine. But I didn't create this for you. And virtually no one is going to create ratings for, or use, a three-dimensional literary yardstick. If you want one, great, do it. It's not my concern.

My impression was that by posting it on your blog and saying you wanted feedback that you were interested in actually getting feedback. I suspect that was my mistake.

I think you have a severely sheltered perspective on Western society if you think that's a serious problem. It's hardly comparable to the damage that stems from being overexposed to the filth.

Again, it's tough to draw broad conclusions from anecdotal evidence. But I have a lot of anecdotal evidence. From being a soccer coach for 7 years, raising my boys, schooling my boys in two parochial schools, now home schooling my boys, being involved in Church as a board member, having my wife teach both / coordinate / provide the curriculum for school and Sunday School, having left the Episcopal Church, being involved in Martial Arts, dealing with a slough of limousine liberal parents in the NW, dealing with Baptists in the SE, and all the while dealing with the other vagaries of a non-Christian secular society that God has seen fit to be visited on me. Again, it's anecdotal, but bears consideration. Maybe not with you Vox, but it was why I wrote you.

Again, my mistake.

Blogger Brad Andrews February 11, 2015 11:54 AM  

Nate,

You're read about these poor bastards in the whole 'courting' movement that desperately want to get married but can't because of some insane puritanical standard that no one can ever live up to.

I had sympathies toward that movement as what used to be the modern dating system was just setting people up for divorce, but I was not a part of it. I met and got engaged to my wife without dating her prior to that points. Lots of interaction in many forums, but no specific dates.

Civilization survived a long time without dating as it used to be practiced or even how it is practiced now.

Note that I refer to former dating practices because I am not sure the hook up culture we have now could even be called that. Packs of wild hedonists is far more likely, even in church circles.

The problem is that the foundation is falling apart and everyone is doing right in their own eyes. Standards can be pushed too hard, but the lack of a standard is not a positive thing either.

Someone else wrote,

My only suggestion regarding the rating was instead of just saying "This book scored a 14", to instead say "This book scored a 14, because it got 5 for x, 5 for y, 4 for z). In this way over time I would begin to develop a sense for where my standards are on a given subject compared to that of the reviewer.

Exactly! A single number ignores the nuance that can go into such decisions many times.

Blogger Josh February 11, 2015 11:58 AM  

Depends on the book. I'd say 14 for most, 16 for ATOB and The World in Shadow.

Thanks. That's a great reference point.

Blogger Nate February 11, 2015 12:03 PM  

'I hadn't given the matter a moment's thought. I doubt it. "

Ya should give it some thought. If you think there is value in doing this and you think people want it.. then its good business to provide it.

Personally I dont like and don't value it. but if people do... then seeing ratings on the books will give them a reason to CH books. Its one more way to separate CH from the others.

Blogger Nate February 11, 2015 12:05 PM  

"Civilization survived a long time without dating as it used to be practiced or even how it is practiced now."

yes. It did.

This is OT so I'm not going to go into it much more than this. But what is being called courting today is not traditional or old. Its now how it used to be done. It was never done the way the neo-puritans are attempting to do it today.

The way your grand parents dated was very different from dating as we know it. It was also miles away from what the neo-puritans label courting.

Blogger Nate February 11, 2015 12:07 PM  

"It's also trivial. You have only to read the female sex statistics to know it doesn't affect that many people. "

its trivial on the civilizational level. its not trivial if it is a big part of the sub-culture you live in.

Blogger Marissa February 11, 2015 12:08 PM  

Cail, as a general rating system, I completely agree that MPAA works fine. I consider the MPAA mostly useless for those trying to judge a movie on its appropriateness within a Christian context.

Anonymous Eric Ashley February 11, 2015 12:26 PM  

Nate, I'm using the term as Vox used it. Your defining Martin as such for another, less joking definition is fine, although I might prefer 'gallowsbait' if I'm in a bad mood.

I've thought to write in fantasy of a city on a well-defended hill, but the residents seeking private gain tunnel out the hill underneath for basements and such, making the city vulnerable to its enemies.

Blogger S1AL February 11, 2015 12:33 PM  

Going back to the rating system itself, I'm curious: Should "magic" (any ~supernatural power) and "sorcery" (traditional use - power gained by consorting with demons) fit into the same category? Similarly, should there be negating factors for books that condemn morally or sexually deviant acts (see: Narnia)?

And to some extent I have to agree with Nate. I was in middle school around the time that the neo-Puritans were burning Pokemon cards and Harry Potter books and getting them banned from schools. There are absolutely people who will use this sort of rating system as a justification for censorship.

Not that it means it shouldn't be done, but it is a real concern.

Blogger Vox February 11, 2015 12:37 PM  

I am not meddling any more than you are.

Allow me to remind you: "It’s really this latter point that makes me write this email because by making such a scoring system seems likely to help the self-same self-selecting Christians to self-select into ever more naive, victim-filled categories."

That's meddling. You want to influence their decisions. I'm simply informing their decisions. The distinction is important.

My impression was that by posting it on your blog and saying you wanted feedback that you were interested in actually getting feedback. I suspect that was my mistake.

Of course I'm interested in getting feedback on improving the system. But I'm not interested in feedback in changing it to an entirely different system.

I am a professional game and technology designer. I know how to design systems. What you have been suggesting is an entirely different type of system, with a different purpose, and a complexity that is unlikely to prove useful to the individual who requested the original system. This doesn't mean it is a bad suggestion for different purposes, but it cannot be reasonably described as an improvement of the previous system.

A single number ignores the nuance that can go into such decisions many times.

Nuance is irrelevant and inapplicable to anything mass market.

its trivial on the civilizational level. its not trivial if it is a big part of the sub-culture you live in.

Which I don't. So, it shouldn't be surprising that I neither know nor care about it. The weird thing about Europe is that it is more secular, but more socially conservative. A girl might move in with her boyfriend and his family at 15, but then she'll stay with him and marry him ten years later.

Blogger Nate February 11, 2015 12:46 PM  

"Which I don't. So, it shouldn't be surprising that I neither know nor care about it. The weird thing about Europe is that it is more secular, but more socially conservative. A girl might move in with her boyfriend and his family at 15, but then she'll stay with him and marry him ten years later."

agreed. I'm just trying to offer a bit of context as to why this turned out the way it did.

Blogger Simon Jester February 11, 2015 12:55 PM  

That's meddling. You want to influence their decisions. I'm simply informing their decisions. The distinction is important.

Again, you misunderstand. I have offered some detail as to how a rating system could be expanded that "informs" in your definition of the term. I don't claim these are the best ideas or the right ones, but they no more influence than your system does.

But I'm not interested in feedback in changing it to an entirely different system.

Fair enough. But yours as constituted is one more thing to ignore.

a complexity that is unlikely to prove useful to the individual who requested the original system.

Which, I am coming to the conclusion, is the graveyard for all 2D rating systems. I suspect that as conceived, any single number on any single scale is just so much noise. I wonder if the MPAAs are useful in any meaningful way?

The reason that Amazon ratings are helpful is that
a) they are story based
b) they are offered in multitude
c) they don't presume conclusions as to value

The same is true of the Re.co system. It is valuable because I can bring my own context, and then discern the intention of the evaluator.

Any single metric system fails to meet all of these criteria.

I am a professional game and technology designer. I know how to design systems.

Ok. You are not the only person in this exchange who carries that distinction.

I will only point out that very few systems meet the usable / useful criteria. My point is that what you offered was not useful, though it was useable. Mine is slightly more useful at the expense of useableness. But I think both are failures per the above criteria.

And lest you think I am "meddling" by trying to influence with that last statement, by "failure" I mean, "I will ignore them as so much noise."

Nuance is irrelevant and inapplicable to anything mass market.

That is profoundly wrong except for useless definitions of "nuance." The whole concept of product differentiation is built around real or perceived nuances ... it is why you have Cadillac versus Chevrolet.

The larger point is that Amazon, eg, is building and serving micro-markets based on the nuance of reviewers opinions. Frankly, Castalia House is doing the same thing.

Blogger doofus February 11, 2015 1:09 PM  

One nit to pick here. People keep saying this is a "two-dimensional" rating system. It isn't. It's one-dimensional.

In Cartesian style coordinates, a location in an n-dimensional space is described using an n-tuple where the ith number represents the location in the ith dimension. Here, we have a single number, ie a 1-tuple, so we have a one-dimensional system.

Think of it as a number line. The rating represents a sliding scale, but it can only go left or right on that scale, so the motion is inherently linear. Thus, one-dimensional.

Sorry, as a (former) professional mathematician, these things bother me, and I feel compelled to point them out. For those of you who were promised there would be no math on the blog, I apologize.

David

Blogger Vox February 11, 2015 1:20 PM  

Again, you misunderstand. I have offered some detail as to how a rating system could be expanded that "informs" in your definition of the term. I don't claim these are the best ideas or the right ones, but they no more influence than your system does.

No, Simon, I don't. You specifically said that you wanted to come up with a system that would not "help the self-same self-selecting Christians to self-select into ever more naive, victim-filled categories."

That's the meddling I'm talking about. You want a system that is designed to influence the behavior of other people. I don't.

The MPAA ratings are obviously effective to a degree or kids wouldn't have been trying to sneak into R-rated movies for decades. And prior to the Internet, the X-rating was very effective in allowing people to avoid seeing pornography they did not wish to see.

Blogger Nate February 11, 2015 1:23 PM  

"Nuance is irrelevant and inapplicable to anything mass market. "

I agree. But shouldn't there be some context to so the buyer knows what the number means? some scale of reference?

Blogger Nate February 11, 2015 1:24 PM  

Websites like Screen It already do this... but they have to be so detailed that it isn't an effective way to make it a rating system.

Anonymous roo_ster February 11, 2015 1:38 PM  

Simon Jester:
A single number rating system, that uses a continuum going from zero to some theoretical maxiumum, is a ONE dimensional rating system.

As described, this particular system has the _benefit_ of a single-number, one dimensional rating system, plus (perhaps) comonents of the reviewer's math: (+1 for THIS, +3 for THAT). Thus, the system likely produces as output both the roll-up number for the entire work...plus the components which refer to partcular objectionable bits if one desires to delve deeper.

Count me in as favoring such a system as described. Mostly used as a filter regarding works unfamiliar to myself.

Anonymous BoysMom February 11, 2015 1:58 PM  

I think the system as described would be useful to me. Now that all my boys are readers, that's a lot of books to screen. So being able to weed out some as objectionable at a glance for one or several children before I read them myself is useful. Since my boys all like different genres, this would save me some time.

Anonymous Alexander February 11, 2015 2:04 PM  

And that's where an A-E suffix is useful, where the letter corresponds to the largest point category involved. A 10A tells you that all ten points were racked up on things that are less likely to be a problem than a 10D. which has at least one thing in the +4 category.

This is the internet. Obviously, it's not a big deal to have a list and link each title to a more detailed accounting of the points involved. But you need something very quick and easy - like a 10 or a 10B, if you're going to have a list that people are going to skim or print and expect others to look at.

Blogger Simon Jester February 11, 2015 2:07 PM  

You specifically said that you wanted to come up with a system that would not "help the self-same self-selecting Christians to self-select into ever more naive, victim-filled categories."

That's the meddling I'm talking about. You want a system that is designed to influence the behavior of other people. I don't.


First, let me say that my statement was rhetorically aggressive, and doesn't explain my underlying ethos or intent.

To clarify, I thought it would be helpful to provide a ratings system that wasn't laden with some of assumptions you are making. But as this discussion has gone on, I don't think this is useful and concede your point.

The distinction between inform and influence is pretty fuzzy. Why put a rating system out at all if you weren't providing a barrier, even if it was opt-in?

The real point is that you take this as meaning that I want to tell you, or other Christians, what to do (or think or believe or value). Believe me: that is not what I am after at all. I believe that Christians have to participate in a Fallen World as joyful warriors. As a parent, coach, teacher, and leader, that is what I teach. I thought that content ratings could substitute for reviews to enable this interaction. I was wrong.

The MPAA ratings are obviously effective to a degree or kids wouldn't have been trying to sneak into R-rated movies for decades.

That doesn't mean they were effective. That means that their enactment had consequences. Effectiveness is determined by the system's design goal.

Blogger Simon Jester February 11, 2015 2:07 PM  

A single number rating system, that uses a continuum going from zero to some theoretical maxiumum, is a ONE dimensional rating system.

The value is a scalar, but the rating is a vector. It has magnitude and direction, with the direction implying value.

Thus, the system likely produces as output both the roll-up number for the entire work...plus the components which refer to partcular objectionable bits if one desires to delve deeper.

Having already conceded both Vox's intention and also the uselessness of this, maybe I should also say why I think this system stinks. His rating system had the following values:

+ contains suggestions of physical violence +1
+ contains direct descriptions of physical violence +2
+ contains detailed portrayals of physical violence +3
+ sadistic horror and physical violence +5

Above, I tried to put a value to Ronin, wherein a quasi-military unit plans to steal the McGuffin and then carries it out. Taking the rating system literally, I got a value of 26, because they planned on using violence (+1), described it (+2), portrayed it(+3), and was pretty graphic about it (+5). That is 11 out of the 26 points.

Now, there are value judgements to be made about these. Maybe the graphic violence didn't rise to the level of Psycho(?) or Nightmare on Elm Street(!), so maybe that is 5 points off. Should the system be taken literally? Are their rules to applying the rating system? Can these be systematically and rigorously applied without ambiguity? John C Wright, in his post on the subject, implied no.

The point is that as a rating system, there are now two deep flaws:
1) the additive nature of certain categories of badness
2) the judgement of relative merit

Contra to what Vox seems intent on claiming that I was saying, the case I have made is not to create a more complicated ratings system but to try to clarify this awful mess by adding a value component. The addition of Wright's alignment scale is helpful (if futile) because as a Pragmatic character arc, you can see that the suggestions and description of physical violence may have been warranted because of the nature of violent men pursuing honor, as defined in the movie. It's not perfect, but it is more helpful than a number that creates more doubt than it clarifies.

By the same token, a movie called "The Crusades", Rated R for violence, and rated in my scheme as a Principled_35 might still be worth showing my boys. But as I have said, it is sufficiently clear to me that any vectored ratings system will be a failure unless you add more vectors. And Amazon and Re.co come closest to that.

Anonymous cheddarman February 11, 2015 2:11 PM  

I keep seeing the initials CH in the above thread. I was thinking Chateau Heartiste. Probably not the CH you guys are talking about.

Blogger Rabbi B February 11, 2015 2:20 PM  

Castalia House

Blogger Simon Jester February 11, 2015 2:20 PM  

CH

Castalia House, Vox's publishing company

Anonymous Jeff Y. February 11, 2015 2:24 PM  

"the sort of Christian who fears that somewhere, somehow, there might be another Christian out there who is insufficiently exposed to the world"

Heh. Really clever inversion of Mencken.

Blogger Nate February 11, 2015 2:25 PM  

"The MPAA ratings are obviously effective to a degree or kids wouldn't have been trying to sneak into R-rated movies for decades."

BUT THIS IS NOT ABOUT CENSORSHIP

Anonymous Daniel February 11, 2015 2:32 PM  

Castalia House, cheddarman.

Blogger Mom February 11, 2015 4:34 PM  

I would love and truly appreciate this. We have a lot of kids and they are big readers also. I don't read everything they read and don't want to. I know the classics and many authors, but new books are a challenge. This blog has been helpful to find some great new books and I'm grateful. I love screen-it for the same reason; I want to know the specifics of the rating. For me, swearing is acceptable, a bikini scene isn't. Some violence is okay, but I don't want homosexuality portrayed as normal. With categories, one can judge for themselves what is acceptable and for what age.

Anonymous Donn February 11, 2015 4:38 PM  

Yes this is about censorship or as I like to call it using common sense. And a good common sense tool is to monitor what your kids have access to.

As for courtship guys and gals. I have no clue what that is about is it a southern thing? Because I have never heard of it in my life. I have never heard of an adult outside a couple in Asia somewhere who did not know how to have sex or that sex made babies. On the other hand I do know that there is a metric ton load of filth just waiting to pour into my home. It flows from nearly every source. Being able to find one stream of cleanliness in all that would be refreshing and different. I fail to see how having one just one, everyone else can have all the filth they can wallow in, one source of good wholesome books changes anything for the worse.

If and when after we have clean books to read we discover some problem like the dozens of people in the US who have problems preforming sexually because of the lack of porn available, then we can look at changing the system so that somehow we can get porn to those who need it.

Blogger doofus February 11, 2015 5:04 PM  

The value is a scalar, but the rating is a vector. It has magnitude and direction, with the direction implying value.

The statements the value is a scalar and the rating is a vector, it has magnitude and direction make no sense taken together. If the value is a scalar then it does not have a direction. A negative direction is not a direction, it is merely another value on a linear scale that goes below zero. Unless the rating incorporates two numbers, it cannot be a vector. Therefore, it is one-dimensional.

David

Blogger Markku February 11, 2015 5:52 PM  

Yep. SJ, you are just completely talking out of your ass.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scalar_%28physics%29

"In physics, a scalar is a one-dimensional physical quantity, i.e. one that can be described by a single real number (sometimes signed, often with units), unlike (or as a special case of) vectors, tensors, etc. which are described by several numbers which characterize magnitude and direction."

---

One number: Scalar. Two or more: Vector.

Blogger Markku February 11, 2015 6:03 PM  

I would make just one adjustment myself. The number, and then a possible stamp of approval for quality (and possibly a stamp of shittiness, in case of the other extreme). Click the title, and you get a list for the points the book hits. I mean, since the number is not given subjectively but actually going through that very list, it would be insane to then hide the list from the viewer.

"20, but a stamp of approval for quality? Hmm. Normally I set my line at around 15, but let's see how the rating was received. Ah, no SJW crap, just violence and emotionally difficult events. Ok, sounds good to me, I'll let my kid read it."

or

"2, but utter crap as far as quality goes? Well, maybe the kid would enjoy mowing the lawn instead"

Blogger Markku February 11, 2015 6:11 PM  

However, I would NOT judge quality except to recognize the two extremes in a binary fashion. Giving numeric ratings for quality is something that pretty much every similar site does already. That's just too much work with very little added value. It's much easier to just recognize the extremes, than to say precisely where the book falls on the value scale.

OpenID cailcorishev February 11, 2015 6:38 PM  

As for courtship guys and gals. I have no clue what that is about is it a southern thing?

No, I think they're talking about a weird subculture that's developed in some Christian circles, which takes the traditional idea of courtship and distorts it into something completely new, a sort of "extreme courtship" that becomes an end in itself. It's like they watched half of a 50s movie short about proper courting and the dangers of dating and tried to reenact it from memory a year later. So the boy comes to court the girl at her parents' home so they can meet him (good), but then they sit him down and grill him about things like his opinion about marital sex (creepy). If you look into it, you'll find pictures of fathers with their arms wrapped around their daughters in a way that's supposed to look protective but sometimes just looks like they want to keep them for themselves.

It's what you get when you take a basic traditional idea like having parents involved in their daughter's choice of a husband, but run it through the modern filter of "boys bad, girls good," and the idea that a girl needs a career and several years of life and work experience to protect herself from a bad husband. Dad has to keep Princess to himself as long as possible, because no man can be worthy of her.

Anonymous Billy February 11, 2015 6:43 PM  

The rating system sounds like a good idea.

Blogger Markku February 11, 2015 6:44 PM  

I checked "courtship" in Wikipedia, then checked the corresponding Finnish article. It said "seurustelu", which basically means "going together". So, yes, I can easily imagine that a very simple concept - taking romantic interest in each other without having made any absolute, implicit or explicit promise that it will be until death do you part, gets turned into something totally alien by Churchians because of the word "court" in it.

Emulating the romance of incestuous, aristocratic bloodlines is perhaps not the best way to go about it.

Anonymous Billy February 11, 2015 6:47 PM  

Kids are exposed to so much filth from every direction. Especially in public schools and the media. The rating system could help parents whom are overwhelmed. I wonder if Vox realizes how desperate it actually has become in the states.

Blogger Markku February 11, 2015 6:54 PM  

Here's the way it worked back in my day: One or the other, but usually the boy, asked the question aletaaks oleen?, "shall we start to be [together]" (but it is VERY important that you didn't say the word "together" - that was a faux pas that made you look like a pretentious shmuck).

If the answer was yes, now you were in courtship. If the answer was no, you weren't. And if the answer had been yes, then everybody was expected to learn about this new state of affairs, so that it was understood that any future approaches to the girl in question would result in a fistfight.

Blogger Markku February 11, 2015 6:57 PM  

Also, the word "courtship" (seurustelu) was an absolute faux pas. One guy actually used it about his "being [together]", and from that moment on he was known as "courtship-dude" (seurustelujäbä).

Blogger automatthew February 11, 2015 6:58 PM  

The rating scale has nothing to do with quality. Little Mommy and Swiss Family Robinson both are rated 1 on the Christian Book Rating scale. Prospective readers can probably figure out from the book covers, let alone the descriptions, which will suit them.

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