Goodenough Gismo

  • Gismo39
    This is the classic children's book, Goodenough Gismo, by Richmond I. Kelsey, published in 1948. Nearly unavailable in libraries and the collector's market, it is posted here with love as an "orphan work" so that it may be seen and appreciated -- and perhaps even republished, as it deserves to be. After you read this book, it won't surprise you to learn that Richmond Irwin Kelsey (1905-1987) was an accomplished artist, or that as Dick Kelsey, he was one of the great Disney art directors, breaking your heart with "Pinocchio," "Dumbo," and "Bambi."

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I wonder if a first step might be to re-start seriously teaching children about personal responsibility, and that actions have consequences. If they get those down early, dealing with sex merely becomes an application of something that they already know how to do: act responsible. And have even practiced.

In contrast, the Pope's approach (well, the Church has been going for it long before him, of course) is to insist that young men (and women) deal with something major and new at the same time. Some can; however, some find that they cannot innovate under stress. Which is why it works so badly overall.


I don't know: personal responsibility is kinda abstract, especially compared to the flood of sexual feeling at puberty. Nature is saying "If it feels good, do it." Traditionally, religion has instilled negative feelings of shame, fear, and guilt that would theoretically rival pleasure in their power. I would like to believe we could go around the spiral and come to self-control out of wisdom rather than fear. But, you know, I dunno.


The problem is the mindset of the LA Times reporter who wrote the article to which you posted. It is evident from the article that she believes that what the Church is teaching is "unrealistic," i.e., that young people (or older people for that matter) cannot be expected to master sexual desire. If a society's elites send the message that promiscuity is not all that big a deal and is in any event inevitable, it is hardly surprising that promiscuity on a mass scale results.

You are right to point out that the past is proof that we can do much, much better. In the 1940s and 1950s the illegitimacy rate was in the 2% to 3% range. Today it is around 33%. This is a direct result of a change in belief about what standard we should aspire to.

In our parents generation the culture espoused a higher ideal and elites were much more united in condemning pre-marital sex. This helped everyone approach the higher ideal.

The Pope's entire address to the young people is worth readng.
The gist of what he tells the young people is: aspire to moral greatness. The world would do a much better job of conforming to this message if the entire culture sent the message.

I recently gave a talk to a group 14 year old relatively poor Catholic Hispanic boys on sexuality. These were tough, street-wise kids, some of whom I have the impression may even be involved with gangs. In conveying to them that sex is a sacred and spiritual thing, one of the things I said to them is: The "culture" -- MTV, movies, etc. -- thinks that you are animals who can't control yourselves, doesn't it? It amazed me to see what a chord this struck. They exclaimed: "Yes!!!!" (I went on to point out that the Church has a much, much higher opinion of them: She calls each and everyone of them to be a saint.)


"Personal responsibility" is necessarily an abstraction. But that doesn't mean it can't be taught in concrete terms. And if it is, it can be every bit as effective as guilt or fear or shame ever were. It takes work, and practice, and repetition, and reinforcement -- but then does so any other non-traumatic teaching method.

And responsibility is a whole lot better psychologicially, IMHO, than shame and guilt and fear. Not to mention that it more easily spreads it's virtues beyond matters of sex.


Well then, more power to the church!! It sounds as if rather than shame and fear, the appeal is to pride, aspiration, and self-respect. Whether those higher-order emotions are equal to the task, or -- unlike fear and shame conditioned to be closely associated with pleasure -- go out the window in the heat of the moment, remains to be seen.

This is something else that interested me: kids who were evangelical Christians who, by their own account, found a creative outlet in dancing. It was an alternative to gang violence; whether it was also an alternative to sexual acting-out isn't clear, especially since some of the dancing (if you watch the documentary "Rize") looks very sexual.


As to the issue of men not ~waiting~ or girls holding out for marriage(and respect)-- it reminds me of two stories i've heard on NPR these past two mornings.

1) A 12 yr old boy died of severe tooth decay and abcessed teeth. The swelling/infection spread to his brain and he dies- due to the fault of(as i heard it) not enough dentists taking Medicare patients. ok?

&2) A four yr old boy- child of a former LA gang member is acting out in violence and wants guns. Know how he's calmed down? He plays a video/PlayStation game called ~Driver~ where he can be the driver/shooter in driveby shootings. ok?

Am i the only one here that can see a dis-connect?

Also, saw Dear Abby the other day- a letter about ~Porm Babies~. Hard to believe- that young, intelligent Ivy League bound ~women~ would resort to pregnancy to blame for their not going to college, eh?

Do you think- when a girl gets pregnant ~on accident~ (i did) that she doesn't really feel some shame- or that her family doesn't feel some letdown somewhere? I ask because it seems wj ~blames~ the Church for guilting kids chaste, but don't we feel the disappointor fear when it happens anyway?

I personally think that the Church may have worded things one way and parents- hoping to keep their kids ~safe~ may have re-arranged that wording and intent.


Uh, that was supposed to be PROM Babies. Sorry.


karen, I can only hope that your church was different than the one I was sent to as a child. (Lutheran, Missouri Synod) Or maybe the girls just got a different lesson than we did. But it was all guilt/shame, nothing like what dan reports. I'd think it was just me, if it hadn't been the report of every boy I knew in high school -- although maybe it was just California in the early '60s.


California in the early '60s- wow.

Uh, doesn't that dude from Lake Wobegone talk all the time about Lutherans? Garrison Keillor. Your church may have changed her tune, wj?

Peter Hoh

Karen, you have to understand that there are several Lutheran denominations, some rather liberal, and some very conservative. There are a few things that all (or most) Lutherans have in common, but politics is not one of them. Even among the more liberal (and largest) denomination of Lutherans in the U.S., there are stark differences in how individual churches approach a whole host of issues.

Lutheran Church A blesses same-sex unions, while Lutheran Church B threatens to leave the denomination because Church A is getting away with that. Lutheran Church C has a lesbian pastor, while Lutheran Church D is still not ready to accept a female pastor. And all of them are in the same denomination.

Meanwhile, in the more conservative Lutheran denominations, women aren't allowed to serve in leadership positions in the church, let alone serve as pastors.


I didn't know that at all. That sounds like what the Episcopalian Church is going through right now, right?

I don't know- i like unity, i guess. I'm a sheep- even if a little off-colour.

Peter Hoh

Well, the Episcopalians were a lot more unified a century ago, and right now, there's a splitting off of those who disagree with the way the denomination is moving.

Lutherans, on the other hand, were a lot more divided a century ago. The Norwegian Lutherans had their own denomination, as did the Swedes, the Germans, and the Danes. And over here, they splintered even more. The Danes fell into two groups, known as the Happy Danes and the Holy (or Sober) Danes. Those Norwegians who disliked church hierarchy created the Norwedian Free Church. And so on.

Over the course of the 20th Century, most Lutheran denominations joined together. In 1960, the Norwegians, the Holy Danes, and some of the Germans formed the ALC (American Lutheran Church). The Swedes, Finns, the Happy Danes, and some of the Germans formed the LCA (Lutheran Church in America) in 1962.

With each merger, there seemed to be a disgruntled group of refuseniks who broke away from the merging bodies. Meanwhile some Germans refused to merge -- most notably the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, and the even more conservative Wisconsin Synod.

Here's a wikipedia list of all Lutheran denominations in North America. Some of these denominations have been merged and no longer exist.

The Catholics had it easier. No matter that there were Polish, Italian, Irish, German and Hungarian Catholic churches in the US, they all fell under Rome.


Thank you, Peter. I love history of Religion.

Peter Hoh

You're welcome, Karen.

Rereading my comment, I realize that I left out the big merger in the late 1980s, between the ALC and the ELCA and a splinter group from the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS). Together, they formed the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).

My interest piqued, I spent a little time on wikipedia catching up on things I didn't know about my faith tradition. Like the doctrinal differences between the two more conservative Lutheran denominations, the LCMS and the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS). Both are in line with each other on issues like biblical inerrancy, and both agree that women can not serve as pastors.

See that section on this page:


Lutherans believe in the Eucharist? As more than a symbol?

Peter Hoh

Yes, but it's not a simple yes/no answer. I remember my pastor addressing this during confirmation. He said that we didn't believe that the bread and wine became the actual flesh and blood of Jesus, as in Catholic practice, but that we also did not take the position of most protestants that the elements were mere symbols.

So what do we Lutherans "confess"?

Best to look at this than to rely on my paraphrasing. Click on the Part III link to jump to the part about communion.

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