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Boomers, Stickers, & Evangelicals

While I was on vacation, there were a few really good essays on Benedict Option-related topics. One I especially loved was Jake Meador’s piece on how C.S. Lewis’s novel That Hideous Strength is going to be the text that helps Evangelicals navigate through the world to come. [1]Excerpts:

At the heart of American Evangelicalism has always been an unhealthy alliance between the two types of Americans that Wallace Stegner has described as “boomers” and “stickers.” Boomers are the industrialists, the progressives (in the general sense of believing in inevitable social progress, not the more specific political sense), the people who move from work to work, always in motion, always growing, always trying new things in hopes of earning more money or “advancing” society. Stickers are the Hobbits of the world, the people committed to a small way of life who tend to be less concerned with abstractions like “social progress” or even “economic growth,” which is a kind of abstraction as well.

For most of our history and certainly since the Second Great Awakening we have attempted to blend these two approaches, mixing an emphasis on revival, innovative techniques for preaching the gospel, and for growing churches with a desire to retain our commitment to basic Christian orthodoxy and piety. Whether it is George Whitefield, Charles Finney, Billy Sunday, Bill Hybels, or Mark Driscoll we evangelicals, like any good marketer hawking a product, have always had a talent for Americanizing our faith to suit the tastes of our target audience.

That alliance, however, is now collapsing. The boomers outside the church, who have always been averse to limitation, have now decided that even the natural design of our bodies should not limit our sexual expression just as their industrialist predecessors of the 19th century decided that the natural design of creation should not inhibit their ambition or wealth. And so the American business world has become one of the places most hostile to traditional Christian orthodoxy. This explains why “liberal” companies like Apple as well as more “conservative” companies like Walmart had the same reaction to religious freedom bills adopted in Indiana and Arkansas. Today’s boomers have discovered that orthodoxy is bad for business. And so they have turned on orthodoxy.

The result of this will be that it will become more and more difficult for American evangelicals to cozily nestle in with the bourgeois bohemian establishment in modern America as they will increasingly be forced to choose between faithful Christian practice or their place in the mainstream world of middle-to-upper class Americans. As my friend Matthew Anderson noted on Twitter [2] the other day, we will soon find out who the serious leaders of Evangelicalism are.

Read the whole thing [1] to find out what this has to do with That Hideous Strength and the culture war. The words “Benedict Option” do not come up at all in this piece, but that’s what he’s talking about, in an Evangelical key. Meador is one of the brightest lights among Evangelical writers of the Millennial generation.

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47 Comments To "Boomers, Stickers, & Evangelicals"

#1 Comment By Uncle Billy On July 29, 2015 @ 3:35 pm

The alliance between Evangelicals/SocialCons and Wall St. was bound to come apart sooner or later. Wall St. owns the Republican Party (and to a slightly lesser extent, the Democrats), and the GOP pays lip service to the Evangelicals, but when there is any conflict between the Evangelicals and Wall St., you can rest assured who the GOP Establishment knows who to obey.

The Evangelicals and SocialCons are stuck. They cannot support Democrats, thus the GOP can take their votes for granted. They have nowhere to go, and the GOP knows it.

#2 Comment By SueBob On July 29, 2015 @ 3:48 pm

Thanks Rod, for the link to the Meador piece, which I’ll read later. But I had to tell you right away that when I just read about it, I nearly fell out of my chair! For the past few months I have been telling anyone who would listen that one should read “That Hideous Strength” because everything that’s happening now is in that book. (Of course, no one is listening to me.) It’s true! It’s all right there, Lewis predicted it, even the creepy “trans-ing” of the sexes. I read the entire Space Trilogy once a year and it’s better and better with each re-reading but THS is the jewel in the crown. It’s both frightening and exhilarating, a splendid book. May I also recommend the best (and pretty much only) writing I’ve read yet on Lewis’ Space Trilogy books, particularly THS — “Narnia & Beyond” by the masterful Thomas Howard.

#3 Comment By Liam On July 29, 2015 @ 4:17 pm

Here’s a progressive-but-not-thoroughly-so whose a strong sticker, and who knows a fair number of same-sex married folks who are married precisely because they are strong stickers – much to the ire of the fading and dwindling (but periodicallly voluble) “liberationist” erswthile confreres. Conservatism as a temperament is not congruent with conservatism on policy positions – and vice-versa….

#4 Comment By mwing On July 29, 2015 @ 4:23 pm

So, research grant applications in the US very often have titles designed to be made into an acronym. I don’t know if this is a fashion thing among PIs or what, I can’t imagine the NSF really cares.
I saw one last month with the acronym “NICE”, and laughed.
I enjoyed reading “That HIdeous Strength” as a kid. In retrospect, I’m like, wait, the big secret was…the head was a head?

#5 Comment By Mike W On July 29, 2015 @ 4:43 pm

Okay, SueBob, I’ll bite. It has been years since I read Lewis’s Sci-Fi trilogy. Time to dust off my old copies and reread them again.

#6 Comment By Chris 1 On July 29, 2015 @ 4:56 pm

Loved the ending…

The good news is that the battle that is coming is not ours to win. In one of the essential texts for today’s church, C.S. Lewis’s That Hideous Strength, the insurgents rebelling against the sexual industrial complex of the modern west are not culture warriors assailing the institutions slowly consuming our earth and its creatures. Rather, their insurgency takes the form of faithful living in an out-of-the-way manor house out in the English countryside called St. Anne’s. It was at St. Anne’s that these people could live in fellowship with one another and with God’s creation while they waited for the undoing of the NICE in a Tower-of-Babel-style collapse. The future of Evangelicalism will either look less like Willow Creek or Mars Hill and more like St. Anne’s or it will not exist.

#7 Comment By Donald On July 29, 2015 @ 6:11 pm

I’d have more sympathy with all this if you were talking only about the PP video and not the terrifying prospect of same sex people living in loving and monogamous relationships which are considered marriages by most of society. I know two married gay couples–they seem like rather unlikely targets of vengeance for a resurrected 5th century practitioner of natural magic.

#8 Comment By MichaelGC On July 29, 2015 @ 7:58 pm

@Uncle Billy July 29, 2015 at 3:35 pm

The Evangelicals and SocialCons are stuck. They cannot support Democrats, thus the GOP can take their votes for granted. They have nowhere to go, and the GOP knows it.

The Evangelicals and SoCons can do what they have done before — they can stay home in droves on election night. People are beginning to understand that their votes make no difference anyway.

The losers in a Congressional election simply walk over to K Street and start making 5 times their former slary and benefits. Their new employer in the influence industry doesn’t care whether there was an R or a D by their name.

#9 Comment By Anand On July 29, 2015 @ 8:02 pm

Given that the solution in That Hideous Strength is angelus ex machina (and one bear) succeeding in a countercoup, it’s kind of hard to argue for this as a strategy for winning back society.

Moreover, there are some interesting points about St. Anne’s (that Meador doesn’t take into account) that are relevant for the BenOp. The inclusion of a resident skeptic, for example. The lack of ministry outside of this.

Where Meador is right, though, is in pointing out to modern evangelicals that the church succeeds not in co-opting the institutions of the world, but in building relationships. As the examples of Acts and modern China show us, the small group is in the long run more powerful than the megachurch. (At least I hope it is, but that may be my inner curmudgeon speaking).

#10 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On July 29, 2015 @ 8:04 pm

Count me sympathetic to the left wing of the stickers. Modest sized residential communities surrounding socialized industrial and commercial establishments, with only the minimum necessary zoning, and everyone free to pick their own church, if any, and freedom of movement between communities, but a general tendency to stay for the long term.

I kind of admired St. Anne’s, but the Pendragon was a potential cult leader, if not for the convenient fact that he was annointed of the Lord, something of an Aragorn who would actually do the right thing consistent. All in all, That Hideous Strength was a ponderous, contrived, and not very interesting tale. I loved The Screwtape Letters, I never stop re-reading Narnia, that space trilogy was just not in Lewis’s forte.

#11 Comment By Turmarion On July 29, 2015 @ 9:44 pm

Anand: Given that the solution in That Hideous Strength is angelus ex machina….

Even more than that, and interestingly in light of the Baphomet thread, it’s actually and occult solution. A revived Merlin sets in motion the solution using his ability to communicate with nature spirits and his arcane arts. Ransom notes that for modern men, such activity is more or less sinful; but in Merlin’s time it was more ambiguous, and so it’s OK for him. Which isn’t quite coherent, but still.

It’s worth mentioning that in the years during which he wrote the Space Trilogy, Lewis became increasingly close to the newer member of the Inklings, Charles Williams. Williams had been involved with one of the British Rosicrucian orders, and had some connections with the magical Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Tolkien disliked him for this, and also for partially replacing him in Lewis’s regard (for a short time). Certainly the Arthurian themes in That Hideous Strength were influenced by Williams, who was strongly interested in the Matter of Britain (something Tolkien also wasn’t interested in much) and who wrote about it in his long narrative poem Taliesin through Logres.

My take is that some things that get put in the category of “occultism”–e.g. Kabbalah, some aspects of Hermeticism, and such–are more along the lines of spiritual exercises and meditative practices, similar to some Hindu and Buddhist practices. Some things are indeed problematic and dangerous; but not all. It’s a matter of discernment.

#12 Comment By Fran Macadam On July 29, 2015 @ 11:10 pm

“Wall St. owns the Republican Party (and to a slightly lesser extent, the Democrats)”

A touching trope. In what way, lesser? (Why, Hillary even comes from a wealthy Republican family and has never missed a stock market trick.) Don’t even kid yourself, the blindfolded lady is holding evenly balanced parties on her gold weighing scale.

#13 Comment By df On July 29, 2015 @ 11:21 pm

Readers may enjoy this interview with Camille Paglia. Excerpt:

“We have a whole generation of young people who are clinging to politics and to politicized visions of sexuality for their belief system…”

[3]

#14 Comment By Fran Macadam On July 29, 2015 @ 11:26 pm

As time’s gone by, C.S. Lewis as theologian has come to loom less in my estimation. There is the matter of his silly justification of war, where he makes it of no concern that each Christian soldier (in the Great War) is commanded to render the other Caesar’s Christian soldier’s life to his own Caesar. As Lewis pens it, the moment after the opponents kill one another on command, they wake up in heaven, laughing joyfully in each other’s arms, neatly disposing of any and all ethical concerns rising out of Jesus commands to love your enemy – loving your enemy after all, despite appearances of a trench abattoir – legalistically, not in the here and now, but in the world to come. Which is why Lewis did so much better with fiction, in the masterpiece of the allegory of That Hideous Strength. The reality is that God and man would have been better served had the soldiers on both sides fraternizing on Christmas Eve and exchanging gifts never returned to their trench warfare and the millions in Europe died for no good reason. More often, those doing the killing didn’t wake up laughing in each others’ arms in heaven, but blind, limbless, suffocating and suffering often in horror the rest of their lives on earth. And Europe’s Christianity wouldn’t have become discredited in the aftermath of the deceit of calling this kickoff to the industrial scale mass murder of the twentieth century, “The War to End All Wars.”

#15 Comment By JonF On July 30, 2015 @ 5:47 am

Re: Which is why Lewis did so much better with fiction, in the masterpiece of the allegory of That Hideous Strength.

I actually prefer Lewis’ essays to his fiction. That Hideous Strength in particular suffers, IMO, from all the defects that makes so much of “Modern Christian Art” cringe-worthy, notably the need to bash readers over the head with his theological points rather than letting the story tell itself. Give me Tolkien any day.

#16 Comment By Anonymous On July 30, 2015 @ 8:33 am

I re-read the space trilogy a couple years ago and was surprised at its relevance. A few comments here made me laugh. Nay-sayers-cum-literalists.

#17 Comment By Andrew W On July 30, 2015 @ 9:17 am

@df

That article with Paglia is awesome. Rod if you haven’t read it, read it. It’s really good.

#18 Comment By Anand On July 30, 2015 @ 9:47 am

Turmarion,

My reading of it was that Merlin’s “spiritual exercises” with nature spirits prepared him for being an (expendable) channel for the Oyersu.

The contrast with Tolkien is interesting. In Tolkien, a key message is the cost that must be paid for the Shire to survive and flourish- Frodo never fully recovers from his adventures. The virtues of endurance and mercy are on display as well as simple physical courage. That Hideous Strength has more of a “God will work it all out in the end” vibe to it- there is little in the way of active virtue. I can see why Meador might see this as a useful corrective to those evangelicals who want to seize the reins of power for themselves. But once you’ve renounced the methods of N.I.C.E. what remains? Lewis doesn’t really provide a counter-narrative.

I’m also in agreement with those deprecating the novel. From a literary point of view, my favorite Lewis novel is his retelling of Cupid and Psyche- from a theological point of view The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Last Battle.

-Anand

#19 Comment By Fran Macadam On July 30, 2015 @ 10:40 am

This is hilarious for its inversion, even though it borrows from Franky Schaeffer’s “Addicted to Mediocrity” indictments against Christian art (before he went as bonkers as Dawkins and Harris in his own hatred of Christianity in general):

“all the defects that makes so much of “Modern Christian Art” cringe-worthy, notably the need to bash readers over the head with his theological points”

But doesn’t so much of what’s considered avante-garde and special in what’s laughably called our wider popular “culture” suffer even more egregiously from ham handed impositions of ideology and pandering to unexamined and ultimately indefensible assumptions? Particularly, isn’t it not only propagandistic, but very often based on multiple levels of deception?

Obviously, if you can’t stand the moral and philosophical perspective Lewis writes from, you aren’t going to enjoy his science fiction.

Maybe the mainstream celebrated Marion Zimmer Bradley would be for you less cringe worthy – she too had a penchant for Arthurian fiction writing – but rising out of her ideological landscape formed by feminist lesbianism, radical rationalizations in support of and actual practices of adult-child sexual predation and anti-Christian paganism.

In this case, the pot is grimier than the kettle.

#20 Comment By Fran Macadam On July 30, 2015 @ 11:11 am

For more on the cringe-worthy aspect of popular culture, which “Christian fiction” can’t hold a candle to, do a search of Zimmer Bradley and her NAMBLA spouse, Walter Breen. There’s even the odd side note of every young Ivy League university student being photographed nude – all Harvard and Yale students, too – including with pins sticking out of their spines, by one of Breen’s now discredited “scientific” collaborators. As Dick Cavett confirms, “yet none of us protested,” despite when he saw his own photos being haunted by a whiff of the concentration camp and a sense of discomfited perversion.

Yet during science fiction’s “Breendoggle” scandal, who supported the unrepentant child molester? Why, none other than that great sympathizer with the pederasty promoter, so much so that he cut contact with outraged fandom, iconic Robert A. Heinlein.

We live in the world these people made, standing on the shoulders of moral pygmies.

#21 Comment By Charles Cosimano On July 30, 2015 @ 11:54 am

If someone writes good stories they can practice bestiality with the neighbor’s goat for all I care.

That Hideous Strength is ponderous, boring and ultimately silly in its end. It is an excellent cure for insomnia because I don’t seee how anyone can stay awake through more than five pages at a time.

#22 Comment By Anand On July 30, 2015 @ 12:05 pm

Fran,

My criticism of That Hideous Strength isn’t so much that it hits one over the head. It’s that it’s argument it’s strengths are not what are being claimed for it-i.e. it gives very little sense (other than “winsomeness” and we know Rod feels about that) for how Christians should live.

There is a very good message there, though. In terms of heroism, it is Mark Studdock’s refusal to trample the figure of Jesus that stands out for me. And this arises not because he’s “accepted Jesus in his heart” or been visited by the BVM. It’s because when the crises of life come the message of the Cross and the lives of Christians are more powerful than scientific secularism.

-Anand

#23 Comment By Jeremy Hickerson On July 30, 2015 @ 12:17 pm

I don’t see the subtext of That Hideous Strength as being religious/secular culture war, I think it’s religious vs. secular world view. Much more of a focus on God vs. humanist philosophy. You can get to acceptance of gays from this, but it’s not the only way to get there. You can also get there by considering the fairness of God.

#24 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On July 30, 2015 @ 12:32 pm

Many authors acquire a kind of literary senility if they keep writing too long. This can apply to their career as a whole, or more acutely to the irresistable temptation to add a fourth or fifth novel to a trilogy. Heinlein suffered from the former, as to a milder extent did Arthur C. Clarke, while Asimov and Le Guin exemplify the latter.

#25 Comment By Jeremy Hickerson On July 30, 2015 @ 12:37 pm

This ties in with your previous post regarding faeries: remember the pivotal role of Merlin in “That Hideous Strength”, and how at first it wasn’t clear which side he would be on?

Perhaps your pagan friends are greater allies than you think.

#26 Comment By Fran Macadam On July 30, 2015 @ 1:04 pm

To some degree, science fiction is both prophetic and dystopian. 1984 by Orwell, Brave New World by Huxley – futuristic speculative fiction with serious attention paid to consequences of unthinking choices now. Think Philip K. Dick’s Minority Report, with the now accepted premise of pre-crime.

Like their Swiftian precursor, they disguise their concern with the growing horrors of the trajectory of the here and now with the trappings of the otner worldly and futuristic. Even H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds was a cautionary tale concerned with colonial extinction of native peoples in Australia and Africa and the unforeseen blowback.

Lewis is well within this allegorical tradition and I found it particularly compelling as science fiction entertainment. Not surprising Chuckie found it boring – even Christian genocide occurring today puts him to sleep. Which is precisely what he finds most comfortable to do. He could easily be in character as one of Lewis’ languid and morally ephemeral creatures haunting the institute.

#27 Comment By Turmarion On July 30, 2015 @ 2:08 pm

I agree with JonF in liking Lewis’s essays better than his fiction. I agree with both Jon and Anand that That Hideous Strength is the weakest of the Space Trilogy. I’d add that its greatest weakness, IMO, is the same, ironically, as the weakness of The Amber Spyglass, the last of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series, which he consciously wrote as an atheist rebuttal of the Narnia. That is, in each case, the author lost his grip and slid from a fairly well-controlled art with a purpose into more or less crass propaganda. I discuss some aspects of that [4].

Finally, I agree with Anand that Till We Have Faces, Lewis’s take on a pagan myth, is far and away his best novel and well worth reading.

#28 Comment By Franklin Evans On July 30, 2015 @ 4:24 pm

Fran: Yet during science fiction’s “Breendoggle” scandal, who supported the unrepentant child molester? Why, none other than that great sympathizer with the pederasty promoter, so much so that he cut contact with outraged fandom, iconic Robert A. Heinlein.

A simple search provides ample (as in severe lack of) evidence that your assertion about Heinlein is unsupportable, and strongly resembles the emotional conviction of the author via guilt by association.

#29 Comment By grumpy realist On July 30, 2015 @ 5:24 pm

The problem with writing with a message is that the propaganda takes precedence to telling a good story.
To have a good story, you need to have ambiguities, and characters, and questions, and true wonder about what a character will do.

Lewis’s futurism is better than Ayn Rand’s, but that’s not saying much. Both forget the story for the propaganda.

And speaking of Rand and since we’ve already mentioned Tolkien, I can’t help but close with the proverbial John Rogers quote:

“There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”

#30 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On July 30, 2015 @ 6:11 pm

Turmarion,

I completely disagree with you. I think Lewis’ essays were mediocre, at least by the standards of his fiction, and that his fiction was great. That Hideous Strength was arguably propaganda, but there was nothing crass about it: it was profound and well-made art written in the service of a religious and political theme. Of course, the thing to bear in mind is that when you’re controlling the narrative, you can make your villains as evil as you want, just like Victor Hugo did with Claude Frollo.

One of the best and most thoughtful critiques of the book was by the great biologist and polymath JBS Haldane (written shortly after it was published). The Haldane-Lewis correspondence is really fascinating: it shows one of the great scientists of his time (a Communist, to boot) and one of the great literary intellectuals (a Conservative) both seriously engaging with each other’s philosophy, each with a certain grudging respect for the other. Haldane actually though That Hideous Strength was well written and imaginatively powerful, though he deplored the ideas contained therein (and vice versa).

#31 Comment By Fran Macadam On July 30, 2015 @ 6:38 pm

I consider That Hideous Strength far and away the best of Lewis works. It probably can’t be made into a movie in today’s PC climate though – its time and subject matter are too close to our own and the issues become too controversial.

That disembodied head that needed to be animated by a bellows to communicate, and had become the repository for something else that couldn’t share an entire body, is redolent of our own donorists who control disembodied “empty suit” politicians whose heads are filled with a kind of other worldly propaganda, and are animated by the “puff” of corporate media. That is, except for Trump, who is doing his own bellowing.

#32 Comment By E. J. On July 30, 2015 @ 7:08 pm

Brilliant. I hadn’t thought of the opposing currents within evangelicism in that way, but it’s true.

#33 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On July 30, 2015 @ 10:22 pm

Great art is in the mind of the beholder. I know of no objective criteria to assert that Hector is right, and Turmarion is wrong, or vice versa, nor, for that matter, that the significance of Lewis’s writings is what I say it is. Maybe he had each of us in mind when writing different books? But I certainly can’t see in the space trilogy the deep significance that some of you have found. Thus, its not a medium for clarifying what is True.

#34 Comment By Fran Macadam On July 31, 2015 @ 12:05 am

Most of us who read science fiction are aware that Robert Heinlein young adult fiction is significantly self-bowdlerized from his adult novels and stories. Heinlein was an atheist libertarian with strong libertine overtones. He wrote favorably of polyamory, group sex and group marriage.

Marion Zimmer Bradley and her husband Walter Breen were his friends. Breen’s book extolling sex between adults and children right into infancy was edited by Bradley and dedicated to her. Her own works, some so shocking to the time’s sensibilities, even among avant garde science fiction fandom circles, were such that they were published under pseudonyms that were thinly veiled. Bradley sexually abused children and minors, as did her husband, which she condoned, with dozens of victims, including her own offspring. It was well known that Breen had been convicted already by the early sixties, and continued the behavior, which is why he was being excluded from science fiction conventions.

Heinlein, along with many others, did just about the same thing as the hierarchy of a church he had nothing but contempt for, as well as plenty of belly laughs over their theology. He condoned the predators and condemned their accusers. This is not the only extent evidence, but this is what he wrote in personal support for them:

“The fan nuisance we were subjected to was nothing like as nasty as the horrible things that were done to you two but it was bad enough that we could get nothing else done during the weeks it went on and utterly spoiled what should have been a pleasant, happy winter. But it resulted in a decision which has made our life much pleasanter already and which I expect to have increasingly good effects throughout all the years ahead. We have cut off all contact with organized fandom….I regret that we will miss meeting some worthwhile people in the future as a result of this decision. But the percentage of poisonous jerks in the ranks of fans makes the price too high; we’ll find our friends elsewhere.”

How happy and pleasant were the winters of the children who continued to be raped and abused for decades to come?

So you are wrong in the following:

“A simple search provides ample (as in severe lack of) evidence that your assertion about Heinlein is unsupportable, and strongly resembles the emotional conviction of the author via guilt by association.

#35 Comment By MikeN On July 31, 2015 @ 5:15 am

Very much enjoyed THS, though “Out of the Silent Planet” remains my favorite of the Space Trilogy.(Perelandra the least; a bit too purplish for my taste)

One of the excellent things about it was Lewis’s wonderful probing of one of the lesser-explored reasons for falling into sin: the desire to be on the inside; to be one of those in the know, not like those poor schnooks on the outside, even without any exercise of great power or privilege. One of the besettig temptations that lure all those young interns to Washington, I’d bet.

George Orwell’s quick contemporary review:

[5]

Conclusion: “However, by the standard of the novels appearing nowadays this is a book worth reading.”

#36 Comment By JonF On July 31, 2015 @ 11:58 am

Re: Her own works, some so shocking to the time’s sensibilities, even among avant garde science fiction fandom circles, were such that they were published under pseudonyms that were thinly veiled.

Not sure what works you were referring to? Her Darkover novels (about a “lost” space colony where humans have developed psychic powers but regressed to a quasi-feudal society) did feature some prominent lesbians– always adults– and a couple of male homosexual characters whose relationship is handled with almost Victorian primness. There was also “The Mists of Avalon”, a very complete retelling of the Arthurian legend through female and pagan eyes (and only a bare hint of any same-sex stuff). Most of this came out in the 80s, when it was titllating but not shocking (There was also Tanith Lee, recently deceased, writing some erotically tinged, but not explicit, fantasy at the same time). I don’t think MZB’s fan base, of whom I was numbered back in the day, ever knew anything about any pedophiliac works. Anne Rice (“Interview with the Vampire”) meanwhile did write some fairly explicit erotica under a pseudonym, and her chief vampire Lestat is very thinly veiled as a gay man who mostly bites and turns other guys.

As for Heinlein, the only work of his I read was “Stranger in a Strange Land”– which had a strongly polyamorous ethic, though no homosexuality that I recall. (It’s an older work so any gay angle might have gotten it banned in Boston).

#37 Comment By Franklin Evans On July 31, 2015 @ 1:53 pm

Fran, that one quote is the only extant “evidence” to be found. It has gaps to which we — I include myself in my own bias as a lifelong-reader fan of Heinlein — apply our assumptions. I respectfully recuse myself from our tangent.

JonF: Heinlein’s collected works in The Past Through Tomorrow are very entertaining and much more accessible than “Stranger”, being vignettes strung together under a common thread. His novel with “Lazarus Long” as the central character is Time Enough for Love, and has a more expansive view of relationship dynamics — including sexual relationships — than “Stranger”, if also being along the same lines.

#38 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On July 31, 2015 @ 4:30 pm

I’ve mentioned this before, but since Fran raises the matter again so vociferously:

Heinlein experimented with a number of social constructs, usually with some sound material basis for ‘what might make human culture turn this way?’ E.g., various forms of polyandry and the “line marriage” related directly to the unusual sex ratios in the lunar penal colony. He experimented with a militarized authoritarian planetary government on a similar basis… what if after a devastating world war there was no government left standing? I have started but never finished such late novels as Friday and Stranger in a Strange Land, because they lacked the charm, wit, and purpose of his earlier books, and because the explicit sexuality was distasteful. On the other hand, I would guess people immersed in the world of secret agentry, public and private, deal with a lot of stuff not unlike what Friday faced in the first chapter.

#39 Comment By Fran Macadam On July 31, 2015 @ 6:59 pm

Who is this Christian “bigot”?

The Story of Moira Greyland

I was born into a family of famous gay pagan authors in the late Sixties. My mother was Marion Zimmer Bradley, and my father was Walter Breen. Between them, they wrote over 100 books: my mother wrote science fiction and fantasy (Mists of Avalon), and my father wrote books on numismatics: he was a coin expert.

What they did to me is a matter of unfortunate public record: suffice to say that both parents wanted me to be gay and were horrifed at my being female. My mother molested me from ages 3-12. The first time I remember my father doing anything especially violent to me I was five. Yes he raped me. I don’t like to think about it. If you want to know about his shenanigans with little girls, and you have a very strong stomach, you can google the Breendoggle, which was the scandal which ALMOST drummed him out of science fiction fandom.

More profoundly, though was his disgust with my gender, despite his many relationships with women Moiraand female victims. He told me unequivocally that no man would ever want me, because all men are secretly gay and have simply not come to terms with their natural homosexuality. So I learned to act mannish and walk with very still hips. You can still see the traces of my conditioning to reject my femininity in my absolute refusal to give in and my outspokenness, and my choice of theatrical director for much of my life. But a good part of my outspokenness is my refusal to accept the notion that “deep down I must be a boy born in a girl’s body.” I am not. I am a girl reviled for being a girl, who tried very hard to be the “boy” they wanted.

Suffice to say I was not their only victim of either gender. I grew up watching my father have “romances” (in his imagination) with boys who were a source of frustration because they always wanted food and money as a result of the sex they were subjected to, and didn’t want HIM. (OF COURSE!) I started trying hard to leave home when I was ten, after the failure of my first suicide attempt, and to intervene when I was 13 by telling my mother and her female companion that my father was sleeping with this boy. Instead of calling the cops, like any sensible human being, they simply moved my father into their apartment, which I called “The Love Nest” and they moved back into our family home.

Naturally that made things much worse. I had already been couch-surfing at the home of my directors from the Renaissance Faire for some time, but nobody could take me all the time. As might be imagined, where my father was, there were teenaged boys, drugs, and not a whole lot of food, though I wasn’t really starved in my teens once my mother’s books began to sell really well. I lived all kinds of places as a teen, though I moved back in with my father when I started college.

One day he brought an eleven year old boy to stay with us for a week, with his mother’s permission, which horrified me. I made sure he had a room and bedding. When I saw my father holding him upside down kissing him all over, and saw the porn books out, I called my counselor who had already agreed to call the cops if I ever saw anything happen, and my father was arrested. For that offense, he was given three years of probation. However, word got around, and a man who had given him a place to stay in Los Angeles realized his son was of the age to be a target, and asked questions, which resulted in my father’s conviction on 13 counts of PC 288 A, B, C, and D. (Suffice to say that these are varying kinds of forcible sexual offenses that should never be committed on anyone, let alone a child!)

He died in prison in 1993, after my initial report in 1989. It should be noted that far from being a first offender, his first arrest had been in 1948, when he was 18.

As might be imagined, although my mother was perfectly well aware of my father’s crimes, and so was my “stepmother,” I was disbelieved almost up to the moment of his conviction, and discounted as “hysterical.” Again, much of that is in the public record: my mother’s cold indifference and my stepmother’s pretense of complete lack of responsibility is sickening in and of itself. Her words ought to suffice. She knew what he wanted to do.

At no time did I try to get justice for myself, because in my moral structure I was the protector of others and I loved my father very much. So although I thought I could forgive my father for what he did to me, in no way did I think it was my place to forgive him for what he did to someone else, and his latest victim was not a hooker, but an innocent child who was very badly hurt.

In any case, where my family had closed ranks around my father to protect him, more recently they’ve closed ranks around my nameless male relative, who stands accused of molesting his ex-boy-lover’s kids, whom he thinks of as his “grandchildren” as he “adopted” his boy-lover as his “son.” Yes I know, that is so sickening it is hard to read, and I am very sorry. Once more I am marginalized, called “crazy” and “hysterical” because after all, why would someone with a long history of molesting teenaged boys keep doing it? So as I did when I turned my father in, I’ve moved away. I made a police report, as did my students, who were horrified by what he said about his “grandkids.”

Now it should be noted that boy lovers do not think of what they are doing as “molestation.” To them it is sex, they imagine it is consensual, and any objections will certainly be overridden by the orgasms they are certain they can produce, and it is the shame of these orgasms that silences the boy-victims, and persuades them they “must” be gay. (Regardless of subsequent heterosexual marriages and children.)

Apparently, 33 reports against my nameless male relative for pedophilia were not enough, and he’ll skate on all this. Not my circus: not my monkeys. I did what I could, and I am easy to find, if ever I am needed to testify. Pardon my fatalism, but serial sexual offenders don’t stop, and there is likely to be another victim. Either someone will come forward, or he’ll offend again, or perhaps, being that he is older, he’ll pass on before he ever has any consequences.

Between the time of my reports of father’s offense and my nameless male relative’s, I went and got a Bachelor of Music Performance, and had a career as a wedding harpist and singer, then I married and had children, then I got a Master of Music Performance, and since 2007 I have mainly taught voice and harp and directed operas with two opera companies I founded: one in Southern CA and one in Northern CA. I also made an album of Celtic music. Yet I’ve always been dissatisfied with my career: artists need to tell their story, and mine was rather too ugly to be told.

Yes, I stupidly returned to Northern CA. My beloved cousin’s wife was dying of cancer and I wanted to be part of a family, hoping that since my father was dead his evil might have died with him. I was wrong.

Last June, (2014) a blogger named Deirdre Saoirse Moen asked me if there was any truth to the rumors about my parents, and I told her yes, that both of them had molested me and my brother as well as a HOST of other children, and I sent her two poems that I had written about that, never having breathed a word about what they had done to me in public before.

She printed my emails and poems on her blog, which promptly went to 92 countries around the world, to my utter shock. I was flooded with letters from survivors of sexual abuse, all of which I tried to answer promptly with sympathy and warmth, (which knocked me out, emotionally, in a way I can barely describe!) Everyone who wanted to send money, I asked them to send it to RAINN (Rape Abuse Incest National Network) and there were even anthology authors associated with my mother who turned over every cent of their royalties from her to charity. Other people burned their copies of her books, because they couldn’t stand to sell them and make any money off her evil. Still other people deleted her works from their Kindles and iPads.

The reason I have given, and stand by for not talking is this: I know many people found value in my mother’s books, and I did not want to harm them or disturb their lives. Thus my shock and embarrassment at how far this story went. Ironically, the survivors who benefited from her books have found more strength in standing against abuse than with her, and my admiration for them is ongoing!

Naturally, there was a lot of debate about her and my father. Every time someone tried to doubt my story, a hundred people would shout them down. The age-of-consent creeps came out and were also shouted down. I was, to my shock, believed. After watching what had happened to Woody Allen’s daughter, I had no expectation of anything other than a virtual public execution were I so stupid as to speak out, but in a way, my mother “protected” me with her OWN WORDS. She had testified, blandly, when accused of molesting me, that “children don’t have erogenous zones” and didn’t bother denying tying me to a chair and attacking me with a pair of pliers, claiming she was going to pull out my teeth. With her cold admissions, nobody could put much of ANYTHING past her.

In any event, since the truth came out, the pedophilic themes in her books became very obvious to people who had previously chalked them up to history or the license granted to an author of fiction. My father had written, with her editorial assistance, a book of apologetics for sex between adults and children called “Greek Love” under the pseudonym “J.Z. Eglinton.” All of a sudden, nobody could have any question about what had been so obvious to me all along.

So what has changed since last June? Since my (and others) report of my nameless male relative back in November and my decision to go No Contact with my family due to their response, it began to dawn on me that maybe the gayness WAS an issue. Naturally, I had been brought up to be completely tolerant. Years ago I read Satinover, who believed that gays were largely “pansexual” that is, preferring sex with EVERYONE of EVERY age and EVERY gender rather than wanting to be limited to one person, and he regarded it, credibly, as a moral and ethical problem, rather than a sexual “orientation.” I can’t tell you how many lesbians I know who simply hate men, or who have been raped and can’t face sex with men because of that. For me, my research about homosexuality was almost a guilty secret: me thinking the unthinkable. After all, gayness had always been presented to me as the natural state: I was “hung up” and a “prude” because despite my mother’s pleading with me to “try it the other way” and “how could I possibly know I was straight?” I just couldn’t hack being gay myself.

My observation of my father and mother’s actual belief is this: since everyone is naturally gay, it is the straight establishment that makes everyone hung up and therefore limited. Sex early will make people willing to have sex with everyone, which will bring about the utopia while eliminating homophobia and helping people become “who they really are.” It will also destroy the hated nuclear family with its paternalism, sexism, ageism (yes, for pedophiles, that is a thing) and all other “isms.” If enough children are sexualized young enough, gayness will suddenly be “normal” and accepted by everyone, and the old fashioned notions about fidelity will vanish. As sex is integrated as a natural part of every single relationship, the barriers between people will vanish, and the utopia will appear, as “straight culture” goes the way of the dinosaur. As my mother used to say: “Children are brainwashed into believing they don’t want sex.”

I know, I know. The stupidity of that particular thesis is boundless, and the actual consequence is forty-year-olds in therapy for sexual abuse, many, many suicides, and ruined lives for just about EVERYONE. But someone needed to say it. Will anyone hear it? There were six Johnny Does at my father’s trial, who would not testify, and two victims, who did. One of the victims I am in touch with. He was silenced so fiercely by fans of my mother years ago that he is not able to talk about it to this day. I don’t know the fate of all the Johnny Does, but I do know one of them is dead in his forties from an eating disorder, never having been able to talk about what happened, and I know at least one of the people on the list of 22 names I gave the cops as a potential abuse victim died from suicide last year. I also know a number of victims of my father who would not testify because they love him. As a personal note, I can understand why: of my parents, he was by far the kinder one. After all, he was only a serial rapist. My mother was an icy, violent monster whose voice twisted up my stomach.

A very brief note on my “stepmother:” she now denies ever having been gay, after 22 years with my mother, and she has married a man. So what was was she “born”? Was she born gay, and is now living in “denial” of her “true nature” as the gays would have it, or was she besotted in a childish way with my mother, who did what celebrities do, and took advantage of her innocence and emotional infantility? She was 26 when she got involved with my mother, and told me later she felt she had been “molested” by my mother. I can’t use that word for her: she was 26. But she DID call my mother “mommy” and most of the emotional content of their relationship was an attempt to prove that she was a “better daughter” than I was: a competition that for me, was over before it began. I am my mother’s daughter. It is a biological reality. Giving my mother orgasms does not make my stepmother a better daughter, simply a fool. And as it can be noted now, she MUST be the “better daughter” because I blew the whistle. I don’t speak to her.

This March I met Katy Faust online: one of the six children of gays who filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court opposing gay marriage. We corresponded, and I left CA. I am still reeling from the death of my last bits of denial. It IS the homosexuality that is the problem. It IS the belief that all sex all the time will somehow cure problems instead of creating them that is the problem.

So I have begun to speak out against gay marriage, and in doing so, I have alienated most of even my strongest supporters. After all, they need to see my parents as wacky sex criminals, not as homosexuals following their deeply held ethical positions and trying to create a utopia according to a rather silly fantasy. They do not have the willingness to accept the possibility that homosexuality might actually have the result of destroying children and even destroying the adults who insist on remaining in its thrall.

Now for all well-meaning people who believe I am extrapolating from my experience to the wider gay community, I would like to explain why I believe this is so: From my experience in the gay community, the values in that community are very different: the assumption is that EVERYONE is gay and closeted, and early sexual experience will prevent gay children from being closeted, and that will make everyone happy.

If you doubt me, research “age of consent” “Twinks,” “ageism” and the writings of the NUMEROUS authors on the Left who believe that early sexuality is somehow “beneficial” for children.

Due to my long experience with the BSDM community (bondage/discipline, Sado-Masochism) it is my belief that homosexuality is a matter of IMPRINTING, in the same way that BDSM fantasies are. To the BDSM’er, continued practice of the fantasy is sexually exciting. To the gay person, naturally, the same. However, from what I have seen, neither one creates healing. My mother became a lesbian because she was raped by her father. My father was molested by a priest–and regarded it as being the only love he had ever experienced. There are a vanishingly few people who are exclusively gay, but far more who have relationships with people of BOTH genders, as my parents and other relatives did.

What sets gay culture apart from straight culture is the belief that early sex is good and beneficial, and the sure knowledge (don’t think for a second that they DON’T know) that the only way to produce another homosexual is to provide a boy with sexual experiences BEFORE he can be “ruined” by attraction to a girl.

If you’re OK with that, and you might not be, it is worth your consideration. If you think I am wrong, that is your privilege, but watch out for the VAST number of stories of sexual abuse AND transgenderism that will come about from these gay “marriages.” Already the statistics for sexual abuse of children of gays are astronomically high compared to that suffered by the children of straights.

Naturally my perspective is very uncomfortable to the liberal people I was raised with: I am “allowed” to be a victim of molestation by both parents, and “allowed” to be a victim of rather hideous violence. I am, incredibly, NOT ALLOWED to blame their homosexuality for their absolute willingness to accept all sex at all times between all people.

But that is not going to slow me down one bit. I am going to keep right on speaking out. I have been silent for entirely too long. Gay “marriage” is nothing but a way to make children over in the image of their “parents” and in ten to thirty years, the survivors will speak out.

In the meantime, I will.

Moira Greyland

#40 Comment By Franklin Evans On August 1, 2015 @ 3:06 pm

Fran, I’m familiar with Ms. Greyland’s story, with some rational rejections of her “theory” about homosexuality, and some very compassionate reactions to her opposition to SSM.

In the meantime, I see nothing there about the approval of Heinlein for her parents on any level.

As I have in the past, I repeat: May Ms. Greyland find the best possible outcome from her egregious abuse at the hands of her parents. May she also never again be silent.

#41 Comment By JonF On August 2, 2015 @ 7:19 am

With respect to Moira Greyland, who endured something hideous and should be accorded every sympathy and support– I have never known a gay person, in real life or online, who espoused the crazy things she states of her parents– though I am not doubting her parents believed as she states. I think she indeed attributing to all the sins of the few. She is in the position of a Holocaust survivor who thinks all Gentiles are anti-Semites, a black person abused by racists who thinks all white people are racists, a woman beaten by her husband who thinks all men are abusive.
She is of course free to hold what political opinions she deems good and right– that must respected certainly. But slandering an entire class of people because she has suffered horribly at hands of specific members of that group is, morally, out of bounds.

#42 Comment By Fran Macadam On August 2, 2015 @ 10:54 am

“I have never known a gay person, in real life or online,”

It ought to go without saying, that online, you don’t know much of anything about the true nature of anyone.

The remarkable thing about the long history, is how easily all those who did see to greater or lesser degree what was happening, over decades, either looked away, excused the behavior in some way, didn’t see it as a problem or approved it. Both Breen and Bradley published and spoke in advocacy at public meetings in the abstract and theoretical about what they were actually doing and people attended and listened.

One can only imagine in the years to come when people with these sensibilities become mainstream in jurisprudence. Since concepts of morality can be seen as no more than the choices of either leading authorities and majority assent, anything is possible, as we have seen over and over in human history.

There is a reason that Breen and Bradley had an audience for their publications on “Greek Love.” No doubt at some time, just as with the Marquis de Sade’s increasing rehabilitation, it will be said there was nothing wrong with it per se, just the way in which it was “badly” carried out.

It remains true, once God is dead, there are no firm or permanent prohibitions.

My own initimate experiences in the California gay scene decades ago inform my understanding now.

#43 Comment By Fran Macadam On August 2, 2015 @ 11:05 am

“In the meantime, I see nothing there about the approval of Heinlein for her parents on any level.”

Heinlein was a close friend of them. He was outraged that Bradley’s significant other would be excluded from attending a large science fiction fan gathering (in San Francisco’s Bay Area) simply because he had an known ongoing and uncontrollable propensity for seducing minors. He knew. Didn’t consider it a big deal among his sexually liberated intellectual peers and it was another of the reasons he decided not to have anything to do with science fiction fans.

#44 Comment By Fran Macadam On August 2, 2015 @ 11:23 am

Marion Zimmer Bradley’s son, Mark Greyland:

How do you feel about the way your mother’s been regarded by many as a feminist and/or neo-pagan icon?

“What she did is to tell stories; long and hard enough she would act them out. When women started approaching her saying stuff like ‘you saved my life; now I don’t have to kill myself’, she started wearing new faces around them and more and more of them would gather around her.

“Some of them were so angry they treated me like I was a crime for daring to be male around her. Others would give me the deer in the headlights look then look away.

“There were times these unhappy women would gather around her by the dozens and I would stand back and watch her on stage and happy. I saw the rituals and the other weirdness close up and then at a distance. What they got out of it was something I did not understand, but I could see that the people were volatile and likely to blow up for invisible reasons.

“Feminism to me was a lot of very unhappy women telling stories to each other about how they had been hurt. They were getting ready to change the world and I didn’t want to be in front of that train when it started rolling. It didn’t matter what I thought about it when it was erupting right in front of my eyes in our back yard. I was already primed to be frightened of emotional scenes so I knew better than to try to introduce myself to these people, but it happened anyway in dribs and drabs and occasional floods.

“I don’t have to feel any way at all. I saw the transformation and the aftermath which continued after I left.”

[6]

#45 Comment By Fran Macadam On August 2, 2015 @ 11:47 am

As mentioned, science fiction often fulfills a prophetic as well as speculative role. What if?

In Heinlein’s case, his futurism extolled a kind of individual libertarianism cum sexual libertinism. He combined that with contemplations of a societal extreme militarism, even fascism.

I despise the advocacy, but recognize the accuracy of the prophecy.

#46 Comment By JonF On August 4, 2015 @ 1:58 pm

Fran,
The fact that MZB resented the fact that her daughter had been born female forever tarnishes her status as “feminist icon”– and would be quite damning even without the rest. The woman who wore her feminism on her sleeve in her fiction acting like some old Chinese mandarin when it came to real-world daughters — wow. Tarnish is not even a word for that. A bronze mirror dug up out of a moldly Minoan tomb is less tarnished than she.

#47 Comment By Fran Macadam On August 4, 2015 @ 10:00 pm

JonF, it’s also remarkable that Moira’s brother Mark, despite being born male, or because of that, appears to have suffered even more traumatically at their hands than she.