Friday, March 23, 2012

Small Arkansas publisher has poetry reading to open Rainbow Book Fair


Tonight, March 23, a small Arkansas publishing house called “Sibling Rivalry Press” (link),  hosted an LGBT poetry reading at the Graduate Center at the City University of New York near the Empire State Building in midtown Manhattan.  The company focuses on trade publication of experimental poetry, including LGBT and feminist poetry, as well as sci-fi and other genres.

The event was a kickoff for the Rainbow Book Fair (previous post). 

Sibling Rilvalry publishes an LGBT poetry print journal called Assaracus.

About twenty-five poets read selections.  Evan J. Peterson acted the role of a zombie, with makeup, as if in a stage play.
 
Later, Ian Young read a relative unknown early poem by Walt Whitman about male love, but the tone was platonic.
 
One writer, David-Glen Smith, talked about parenting a child in Texas.
 
A couple of the other poets had material that was “disturbing”. 


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Tom Baker's coming of age novel "The Sound of One Horse Dancing"; Rainbow Book Fair to be held in NYC


Author: Tom Baker

Title: “The Sound of One Horse Dancing

Publication: iUniverse, 201 pages, paper, 2011, ISBN 978-1-4620-5063-5, “Before” and 14 Chapters, fiction.

Amazon link:  

This is a first novel by Tom Baker (link), who attended and graduated from William and Mary in the 1960s, shortly after my own experience.  The novel seems to be based on Mr. Baker’s experiences during his coming of age (and “coming out”), at William and Mary, in the Army, at home in Connecticut, and as a fast rising advertising executive in New York in the 1970s, as well as personal matters up and down the range of the Kinsey Scale.  It is written in the first person as Tim Halladay, and I don’t know how close all or much of this is to “historical truth” for Mr. Baker himself.

The novel establishes a couple of parallel hooks for the readers.  In the beginning , Tim is suddenly fired from a job in an advertising agency after five years, the Friday before Thanksgiving, after an “intimate” night that leads him to be late for work.  Having lived on credit, he’s in immediate crisis, with almost no money.  How will he survive and rise again? 

Mr. Baker develops his “solution” by going back into the past with flashbacks, bringing up critical points in his life before.  One of the most critical past episodes is his whole interview experience getting his first job, under considerable pressure from his father, even though he has just gotten out of the Army.  He gets the job (at a shockingly low salary of $5200 a year, but this was around 1970), and also takes a gig helping a drama group in the City.  His father is offended by his association with artists, and throws him out of the house.
  
This sounds like conventional “homophobia”, but it’s a lot more.  Patriarchal dads often express irrational beliefs about homosexuality (when I started visiting New York City myself in 1972 while living and working in New Jersey, my own father said, “they’ll have you followed”), but this mindset belongs to a bigger problem, a need to have one’s sense of power and control over everyone else in one’s social unit (the nuclear family, even extending to adult children starting their own lives) to keep one's marriage alive, and to have one’s own family members on one’s side in a larger social system of questionable moral legitimacy. 

Baker’s experience in the Army is interesting.  He recreates the brutal atmosphere of the draft (which a lot of today’s young people are unaware of) and military culture, and of the “unfairness” that put the burden of sacrifice for Vietnam on lower income classes.  In my own experience, I found that the Army “asked” about “homosexual tendencies” in the 1964 physical, but had dropped the question when I retook the physical myself in 1966 and 1967 (when I passed).   By 1968, the military, in practice, was actually trying not to reject men for the draft for homosexuality, because it didn’t want to allow such a ruse.  Randy Shilts had documented as such in his 1993 St. Martin’s book, “Conduct Unbecoming: Gays and Lesbians in the U.S. Military”. 

Baker will have a table at the Rainbow Book Fair in New York City March 24, 2012, link

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Charles Murray: "Coming Apart". A pitch for more "social capital", without a nanny government


Author: Charles Murray

Title: “Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010"

Publication: New York: Crown Forum, 2012; ISBN 978-0-307-45342-, hardcover, 405 pages, indexed, Prologue, Three Parts, 17 chapters, 7 detailed appendices, endnotes; many embedded sidebars

Amazon link:   (Note the link gives a different version than the direct ad.) 

Shortly after I moved to Minneapolis in 1997, I bought and read Charles Murray’s short book “What It Means to Be a Libertarian”. Everyone in the local Libertarian Party thought he had summed things up pretty well.  Remember, Murray had become controversial with his earlier “The Bell Curve” and in this new book, he refers to his earlier “In Our Hands”.

The basic premise of Murray’s new book is that “class divisions” have become serious, enough to threaten sustainability.  They are no longer so dependent on race.  Murray builds his case, almost like a scientific dissertation, by presenting a series of studies based on numerous surveys, including the Census CPS.  He defines a largely white community in an affluent suburb of Boston, Belmont, and compares it to an old working class neighborhood in Philadelphia. He stratifies and redefines the samples somewhat, and then later brings back in the numbers for minority groups and shows that racial background now means much less than before.

Let’s also lay out his vocabulary. He lays out four virtues that help define American exceptionalism, as family (conceivably more flexibly defined now), faith, industriousness (or work ethic), and honesty. He also lays out the four domains of happiness, as family, community, vocation (including hobbies or avocation in some people), and faith or belief system of some sort.  He says that people can be happy without partaking in all four domains simultaneously. But people do need to take hold of themselves and contribute something. In a real world, people need to find inner satisfaction in marrying and raising families and holding down relatively low-level jobs when "they are where they are".  

He also talks about “social capital” a lot, and sometimes cultural capital.  Santorum’s “moral capital” would relate to Murray’s idea of faith, and intellectual and economic capital would equate to industriousness.  But social capital, if you look it up in Wikipedia, is of many types.  The kinds that would concern Murray the most would be “bonding” and “bridging” capital.

He maintains he is libertarian, in that he is critical of the idea of the liberal or European-style welfare state as defining values for people.  This has an effect on lower income classes as to remove their need to find satisfaction in taking care of themselves.  He is unlike Santorum in that he is not interested in seeing government define moral standards, but thinks these should naturally develop when people with influence, the upper classes who can take care of themselves, show some “bridging” social capital and reach out to set the right examples to those “below”.

I may have gotten ahead of myself here.  Murray starts his book by describing America as it was in 1963, one day before Kennedy was shot.  The differences between rich and poor were not as great, even though racial tensions were great.  Over time, technology, by saving labor and then by providing new modes of self-expression, allowed people to believe that they needed others less.  But this happened much more in lower and middle classes than in upper classes.   People in higher income classes were more cognitively capable, he maintains, and generally still did a pretty good job or raising their kids to be “nice” and to learn a reasonable work ethic.  In “working classes”, however, the interest in keeping families cohesive got weaker.  One reason may be that government “welfare” policies discouraged self-reliance and also inadvertently discouraged marriage and single parenthood (as an unintended consequence). But a deeper reason is that people in more privileged classes had relatively little contact with those less fortunate, did not develop empathy, and yet, when in positions of “cultural authority”, sent out signals where indifference or neutrality became confused with contempt or even nihilism.  Murray at one point has a phrase “preach what you practice”.

Following a chapter called “A New Kind of Segregation”, Murray offers “How Thick Is Your Bubble”? and offers a 25-question quiz to score the reader’s empathy with others in different classes.  I scored 30, which is below average but not much so. 

Murray often discusses “social capital” in terms of joining organizations which provide services, or which look after the community, and also in terms of voting, and perhaps even in willingness to work for candidates or even run for office.  He says that strong social capital does depend on having a community in which a considerable portion are (usually traditionally) married families with children.  He does mention “isolates”, people who sometimes do well on their own pursuing their own lives but who interact very little with others in their own community or other communities.

In a society with healthy social capital, there is strong “bonding capital” within extended families and the immediate community, and strong “bridge capital” to reach out to others in different communities or circumstances.  Both are necessary in some kind of balance.  Some religious denominations, usually the more conservative ones (such as the Mormons, and many evangelicals, as well as many Catholic dioceses) are vigorous in insisting that their members personally add to social capital. He doesn’t mention the Amish, but they would make an interesting example to study.

Murray admits that “social capital” is a difficult concept for many individualists to swallow.  By demanding time and attention to others outside the economy, it can interfere with individual creativity or productivity. It's fair for the reader who thinks he is aloof (as am I) to ask, what does this mean for me? How does Murray expect me to behave? 
   
He does not get into gay issues specifically (such as gay marriage).  I can only extrapolate into the logical conclusions from what he says. The government is to leave people alone. The effort to take care of needs should be localized (that sounds like Santorum’s “subsidiarity” or even the “natural family” idea, but hold on!).  “Usually”, gay people living in their own communities are not forming traditional families with children. My experience is that there has been strong “bonding capital” in facing issues like AIDS (the buddy programs that go back to the 80s) and some bridging capital with political efforts (helping candidates, sometimes running for office), but less bridging to people faced with raising children.  Eldercare is an area that could force more people to come together and develop several kinds of social capital, outside of the usual ideas of “choice” and “personal responsibility”  We know from the debate over gays in the military that gay people do bond into units much more seamlessly than people had expected.

At one point, Murray takes a swipe at entitlement programs, but mischaracterizes Social Security as a kind of wealth redistribution from the nanny state, when actually it is largely supported by worker FICA contributions (with benefits matched partially to these contributions).

He makes an interesting comment about the “proletariatization” of the values of the upper class at one point.

Here is a YouTube address by Murray from the National Center for Policy Analysis.


Update: March 17:

Richard Sincere has an Examiner article on Charles Murray and same-sex marriage, here.  "It's not a big deal".  Both Murray and Santorum are concerned about the breakdown of "social capital", but for some reason Santorum still seems focused on the physical nature of the marital relationship, as if it set an example for eveyone.


Update: Jan. 19, 2015

(Above.) Picture from Fishtown in Philadelphia, PA, personal trip today. Below, Port Richmond, a similar neighborhood on the other side of an Interstate.



Update:  August 9. 2016

Read the Vox review by Harold Pollack, "This election isn't about right vs. left; It's about 'we vs, I'", concerning the new book by Robert Punam, "Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis".  I'll get the book and review it on Wordpress.  I asked Murray, on Twitter, if new book says the same things, and he says, while policy recommendations are different, on substance, "pretty much".  The new book focuses on Port Clinton, OH.



Update: March 3, 2017

Violent protests shout down Charles Murray when he tries to speak at Middlebury College, Vermont; another professor injured. 

Monday, March 05, 2012

Rick Santorum: "It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good"; a just-in-time review on an older book


Author: Rick Santorum

Title: “It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good

Publication: 2005, ISI Books: Wilmington, DE;  Paper, ISBN 1-932236-83-X; 452 pages, indexed, 6 Parts, 40 Chapters, with Preface and Conclusion.

Amazon link

This is an older book (six years), and it’s long.  It’s philosophical, and moralistic. But it’s important reading given the tone of the GOP presidential debate and primaries, and because of the concern of the boldness of some of Santorum’s statements.  It’s conceivable (as of today) that he could be in the White House in 2013.  Even if not, the issues he raises, rather bluntly and with a kind of sledgehammer, are important and phone home.

The title, of course, plays on Hillary Clinton’s “It Takes a Village; and Other Lessons Children Teach Us” (1996, Simon & Schuster).  It is not exactly an antonym of Clinton’s work, but it anticipates another book “The Natural Family: A Manifesto” by Carlson and Mero (2007) that O reviewed here Sept. 18, 2009, and even looks back to George Gilder’s “Men and Marriage” in 1986.

So, let’s start with this: for Santorum, what does the “Common Good” comprise? It’s pretty apparent that it would imply a society where everyone has a chance to be needed by others and know that.  Santorum places particular emphasis that the Common Good means the capacity to bear and raise the next generation.  Other social scientists call this quality “generativity”. Of course, there is a likelihood that common goals are chosen based on religious precepts.

Santorum lists several “capital” components of the commons:  social capital, moral capital, cultural, intellectual, economic.  Social, moral and cultural capital are obviously interconnected.

He challenges the libertarian (or classically liberal) idea of individual sovereignty, or personal autonomy. His work comes across as a challenge to hyper-individualism (even Ayn Rand style) from the right. He derides modern individualism as “no-fault freedom”, and repeatedly. One of his most astonishing statements, on p. 264 as he quotes “Planned Parenthood v. Casey”: ‘“At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, or meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” Let me put that in plain English: you make your own laws, you are a god.’ Therefore, it follows that individuals in a Santorum-world will face strong pressure to follow goals chosen for them by others, even as adults.

This sounds a bit like an authoritarian society, or perhaps a cult (or collection of cults).  The opportunities for abuse by those in authority are obvious, as confirmed repeatedly by history. Doesn’t the de-centralizing aspect of individualism provide the best protection against tyranny, as libertarians believe?  Santorum goes to his Catholic bullpen to solve this one by bringing in the concept of subsidiarity, which generally means that problems are solved in the most local level possibly, usually the nuclear family, but sometimes the community, or larger governmental unit (state or federal) may have a role as an appeal point.  (But, in the pro-family past, did “subsidiarity” prevent slavery and then segregation, and other ills?)

The heart of society, then, is, of course, the traditional family. Without the strong and obligatory family (and some local organization of the community nearby), society tends to be run by whom he calls “the village elders” (in reference to Clinton’s book), who bow to pressures for political correctness and, in our culture, extend a false sense of freedom to individuals, where we live beyond our means, compared to cultures of earlier (Biblical) times.  One could say this sounds like a call for the return of patriarchal society as in the Old Testament.

Now, no social-political system of human activity is perfect and free of all possible contradictions.  (We need faith to deal with that.)  Santorum is bringing up a legitimate point, that man (in western society) seems to be becoming less social, more aloof, to the extent that there could be real questions about long term sustainability.  In describing and commenting on any social and political reform, a reviewer has to draw conclusions (or corollaries) of what he thinks the book author says; it becomes hard to distinguish between the ideas of the author and the commentator (me).
   
For one thing, Santorum’s focus on providing a future through children is obviously commendable, but he could be a lot more specific on other problems.  For example, he could look at the “inconvenient truth” of climate change.  He could spend more space on the aging population (which he deals with modestly in talking about Social Security reform, where I think he has the right ideas on eventual privatization).  He really could have come down hard on how this can affect younger individuals with a discussion of filial piety, which actually is defined by filial responsibility laws in about 28 states.

There is indeed an issue with “hyper-individualism”.  And much of it deals not so much with commission but with omission.  We become unresponsive to or disinterested in the real needs of others, and don’t recognize the bad karma, that we depend on them in ways we can’t see, and that we depend on laxity that tends to lead others in less fortuitous circumstances to put themselves in harm’s way.  I’ve written before about my concerns in this area in the Internet.  And although Santorum talks about pornography and violence in media a lot (he does mention P2P and piracy, but misunderstandstheir significance), he never gets around to the legal underpinnings of the downstream liability issues (Section 230 and DMCA safe harbor issues), or, particularly, online reputation and cyberbullying – or bullying in the real world, too. He missed a chance to weigh in on the CDA and COPA legal battles. (He does mention the library screening laws, and used of  iSafe (not to be confused with FOSI, Dec. 3, 2010 on my COPA blog). 

But Santorum’s emphasis on the “natural family” does bring up a really important point.  In a family, people care about each other, in a way responsive to need and complementarity (again, that’s a Catholic term), but only after dispensing with the idea that a particular person (starting with family member) is “imperfect” and that caring about him or her would be “beneath me”.  The same problem of false pride (and upward affiliation) spreads into the community in the way people start and then keep relationships.  Santorum may well be right that people are forgetting that they “need each other.”  (Remember how the Old Testament came down on both voyerurism and aloofness?) They may grow into adulthood unable to maintain, or even form, the intimate attachments needed to build a family and a future.  Santorum does, with some clumsiness, explain how this feeds back to the abortion debate (and even contraception).

And this observation seems to be a problem much more specific to the modern world than it was for past generations, where family members (particularly children) were viewed as a necessary economic asset. Today we have media – and fantasy, and various substitutes online for “real life”.

If one describes what’s wrong with our values with a broad paintbrush, a reader will then try to infer public policy changes that could be appropriate (Santorum is not as specific as he could be, given the length of his book), and then wonder, “How will this affect me?  Will I have to sacrifice?” (Ask yourself that if Santorum is elected.) This whole setting reminds me of the days of the draft and student deferments.

And there are really two kinds of problems.  One of them is the most familiar.  People make bad choices, want something for nothing, and don’t take responsibility for their “choices”.  Libertarians preach this.  (Look at the mortgage mess.)  But so did Dr. Laura.  If people didn’t get into “stupid conception”, abortions and single motherhoods wouldn’t happen.  Is the plethora of kids growing up in other than 2-parent-original-married homes (who are at a serious disadvantage, often) the sole responsibility of the individuals who had the kids in the first place?

The other problem is what I experience, and it’s more subtle, and it’s what affects gays and lesbians.  Yup, we’re perceived as avoiding responsibility by having access to sexuality with no risk of unwanted kids – in a world where the birthrate won’t replace the workforce and where families will die out.  (That sort of idea helps drive anti-gay bias in Uganda particularly. Santorum mentions Uganda and abstinence, but never mentions the anti-gay bills there.
   
Santorum doesn’t talk about homosexuals per se, and he doesn’t go into the Vatican arguments about “objective disorder”.  He does mention “original sin”, but mainly in the context that individualists think we can do without each other. (He could be right there.)  He does cast his objection to same-sex marriage as an issue about marriage itself, not about gays.  But, you can’t have it both ways.

His main objection to gay marriage seems innocent enough, but it can take us along a “third rail”. He says that it will lead to presentation of gay lifestyles to people in such a way as to legitimize them – and he avoids the debate over immutability (other Catholic theologians punt to “original sin” when presented with scientific evidence of immutability, which seems to get stronger all the time).  He then says that the debate and social legitimacy will lead young people to decide that they don’t need marriage and children (Uganda’s argument again, or call it “demographic winter”).  Of course, marriage was getting weak and divorce was skyrocketing (and the pre-nup business was booming for lawyers) long before gay marriage was gaining traction in courts and state legislatures (Santorum says, “you’re right and this has to stop.)  I think it’s rather obvious that marriage gets weaker in a technological society that satisfies adaptive needs more quickly, gives people more psychological surplus and more independence.

Later, he makes some scary comments about the “rule by judges” and their finding “fundamental rights” in the constitution under the 9th and 10th amendments.   In fact, until recently, many judges have followed the “Bork” model of saying that a fundamental right claim is not valid until it advances a “common good” interest, such as marriage and procreation, or perhaps faith, or child rearing, eldercare, etc.  It has been a matter of controversy (going back to Bowers v. Hardwick in 1986) whether an individual’s own purposes, when they don’t involve direct harm to others, are enough to create a right. Again, this is what Santorum says the liberals have invented as “no fault freedom”.  One must have some stake in the welfare of others, at least locally, and some exercise of complementarity (maybe even reciprocal “asylum” to those in bad families) before one has a claim for his own expressive rights.  (Elsewhere, I’ve called this “The Privilege of Being Listened To”, which might not exist until you have your own skin in the game.)  This idea certainly can affect the way we’ve developed the idea of “personal responsibility” in modern culture.

Santorum criticizes the findings (of “no fault liberty”) in the “Lawrence v. Texas” homosexual-only sodomy law overturning in 2003 by the Supreme Court, as inviting the legalization of gay marriage (he says that Massachusetts referred to the decision in its 2004 decision), a possibility Scalia had mentioned in his dissent.  But consider the implications of this reasoning. It means that sodomy laws could stay on the books, and that occasional harassment or bullying of gays by police (or peers in school) is acceptable so “uncompetitive” people (gender-speaking) will become conditioned to the idea that marriage and child rearing is expected of them if they are to have any access to sexuality or public expression at all.  Otherwise (unless they take a vow of celibacy and poverty, which the Catholic Church provides) they must remain in a subservient position, meeting the requirements of families set up by others.  They become second-class citizens, rather like “family slaves”.  (In fact, on p 33 Santorum makes a shocking comparison between marital commitment and slavery.)

Santorum (as have many other “natural family” advocates like Carlson and Mero) has been critical of the economics of the two-income family (and the erosion of the “family wage”), of the trend for women to “want it all”, and the disincentive for men (most of all gay men) to remain interested in others who need to remain economically dependent on them to give more time to raise children.  He is probably critical of professionals couples delaying children (and mentions that birth defects go up with age, but have been coming down with abortion, indicating that as a culture we are less welcoming to providing value to the lives of the disabled; I think many people would disagree with him).

I do think there is something to be said for the idea that people will need to accept more connections to others and more “locality” (or even “subsidiary”) to handle the serious challenges ahead.  A major breakdown in society’s technical infrastructure (whether from pandemic, war, massive terrorism with EMP attacks, or even solar flares – call it “The Purification”) could force people to rediscover their social capacities.

But to improve these social connections for everyone, do we need to put marital sexual intercourse on such a pedestal that those who do not or cannot enjoy it must subsidize it for others?  There seems to be a concern not only that everyone "pay his dues" and not "compete" unfairly with those who take on more responsibility. but also about the interpersonal intensity and attachment that sustainable family life requires, especially after a couple of decades where it has been looked at just as a "private choice".  I think the debates of gay marriage (and gays in the military) are more important to single, childless people than even to those in same-sex relationships (who do have legitimate concerns, as do children raised in their homes).  I found this out personally the hard way in the past years, with the eldercare needs of my mother, but also with the demands for unexpected intimacy and role-modeling that came up for me, a non-parent and never married man, as a substitute teacher.  There were a couple of incidents in that experience for me that seem to encapsulate all of Santorum’s ideas.      

Santorum mentions a couple of movies, particularly "The Ice Storm" (1997, Ang Lee), whih I saw with a friend in Minneapolis and found engrossing to watch families trapped by a winter storm lose it), and "Spanglish" (James Brooks, 2004), which I review on the movies blog Sept. 20, 2009), where a maid tells Adam Sandler's character, "There are mistakes you just don't risk when you have children". 


I see that there is a much briefer discussion of this book March 28, 2006 in comparison to Philip Longman's book ("The Empty Cradle") on low birth rates.

Friday, March 02, 2012

"The Inner Life" by Rufus Jones, a retrospect from 1917


A couple months ago, I picked up a copy from a Sunday School class of a short book, 193 pages, “The Inner Life”, by Rufus M. Jones, from Haverford College, published by the Macmillan Company in 1917. It comprises an Introduction and six chapters, some of which are in sections.

The writing style is dense and abstract, but it does lay out the idea of the “larger life” from a Christian perspective, with some migration toward New Age ideas.

One of the paradoxes of Judeo-Christian culture starts with the historical fact that it did generate an advanced technological culture which, today, for the most part, safely guards individual rights and struggles with notions like equality. At the same time, the Gospels are filled with calls for self-sacrifice to meet the needs of others and to follow a purpose that seems in large part given to one as a kind of “lot”.  That comports with the idea that "nature" isn't very fair on an individual level. The story of the Rich Young Ruler certainly encapsulates this paradox. The young man had obeyed the laws, paid his bills, and not “made mistakes” or harmed anyone. But he hadn’t paid his dues or learned to bond to real people. If he was to become a future Da Vinci, he would surely stand alone.

The book does cover some key “paradoxes”, such as “faith” vs. “works”, and “otherism” instead of “altruism”.  He does get into Paul’s theory of the “gnosis” of salvation. He talks about the problems that evolution and “nature” provide. On p. 119 he writes in metaphor, “In order to have ‘nature’ at all, there must be a heavy tinge of redness in tooth and claw.”    

He does get into the "born again" experience, suggesting that it is a kind of within-life reincarnation. The reborn person remembers his/her former life and takes responsibility for it, but it does seem like a past life.

He doesn’t get into marriage or “family values” as we debate them today, or even “subsidiarity”, which Santorum espouses (a future review). The biggest concern is how the individual should or must set his or her own priorities. It’s no small order, because a “rich young ruler” can be wiped out by circumstances beyond his control, by the crimes (possibly motivated by indignation); without a connection to the “social capital” around him, he runs out of purpose, and evaporates.  


It's interesting that the "inner life" tends to accept external hardships as inevitable.  The New Testament, for example, never directly criticizes slavery, as shocking as the idea is to us today.


It's a paradox, too, that there could be so much emphasis on connectedness with others while at the same time the personal, individualized experience of the "inner life".  But the Bible, and most religious texts, seem critical of hyperindividualism, excessive introversion or self-satisfaction. It's dangerous to think you don't need others.


While on the topic of older religious books, I have my father's old copy of "The Story of the Bible" by Hendrik Willem Van Loon, published by Garden City in 1936. The book was distinguished by its clever hand drawings that look like wood-cuts.  The author refers to God as "Jehovah" and the Israelites as "The Jews" and makes a lot of their tribal value system, while emphasizing that they were obscure in the ancient world before the time of Christ.