The book is out!

Well, folks…after several years of hard work, my book on the history of teen bedroom culture in America is finally out. Click on the photo below to purchase a copy.


And if you’re interested in reading parts of the original manuscript that didn’t make it into the final product, please check out some of my older blog posts.

A Guided Tour of Jughead’s Boudoir…

As one of the few comic book series to span the entire postwar period and address the unique experiences of America’s teenage population, Archie comics offer an excellent opportunity to assess certain features of teen bedroom culture. Although Archie and his pals have always been considered “square” in comparison to other types of postwar youth culture, locked as they were in a mythic age of small towns and wholesome Eisenhower-era values, their madcap adventures provide us with an intriguing glimpse into the idealized teen bedroom.

Archie and his friends made their first appearance in Pep Comics in December 1941. Eager to capitalize on the popularity of Mickey Rooney’s Andy Hardy films, publisher John L. Goldwater, with assistance from writer Vic Bloom and illustrator Bob Montana, brought the first stand-alone Archie comic, the fittingly titled Archie Comics, to American newsstands in the winter of 1942. Its protagonist, Archie Andrews, is an average middle-class American teenager, an affable redheaded boy whose circle of friends includes a pampered princess named Veronica Lodge, a wholesome girl-next-door type named Betty Cooper, a hamburger-obsessed slacker named Jughead Jones, and a vainglorious jock named Reggie Mantle. Archie and his pals attend high school in the fictional town of Riverdale, and although most of their social activities tend to take place in the hallways and classrooms of Riverdale High or various hangouts downtown—Pop Tates’ malt shop is an especially popular setting—several stories are set inside their bedrooms. Due to their economic and demographic circumstances, Archie and his friends were uniquely qualified to preside over rooms of their own. All of them were from either middle- or upper-class families, and for some strange reason not one of the main characters had a brother or sister. Archie, Jughead, Betty, Veronica, and Reggie, in short, had both the space and the requisite wealth to take an active part in teen bedroom culture during the postwar years.


Archie - Musclebound Madness - Aug-July 1947

An early glimpse into Archie Andrews’ sleeping quarters. The “he” Archie is referring to here is Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. This strip ends with Archie being called before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). Taken from “Musclebound Madness,” Archie, July-August 1947.


Visually speaking, the teen bedrooms that were found in Archie comics were drawn in such a way as to reflect the interests and hobbies of its owners and reinforce the primary features of their personalities. Archie’s room, for example, often features pin-ups of Betty and Veronica, the two girls who most often vied for his attention. Similarly, the walls of Veronica’s room are often decorated with pictures of Reggie and Archie, the two boys who most often vied for her attention. Jughead’s room, on the other hand, sometimes features pin-ups and framed portraits of food, including pork chops and hamburgers. This is entirely in keeping with Jughead’s persona, as his character is often portrayed as being both food-obsessed and asexual. Reggie Mantle’s room, meanwhile, is occasionally shown as having a giant mirror on the wall, a decor accessory that nicely illustrates his narcissistic tendencies.

The bedrooms Archie and his friends preside over also reinforce traditional ideas on gender and sexuality—especially during the 1940s, 1950s, and early 1960s, the years preceding the emergence of the counterculture. Rooms belonging to female characters are almost always decorated in a stereotypically feminine manner, featuring plenty of pastel colors and frilly decorative items. And of course it is exceedingly rare to see a girl’s bedroom that doesn’t feature an elaborate vanity, which suggests that the rooms occupied by Betty and Veronica were used first and foremost as a means of attending to various beautification rituals. Although telephones were occasionally shown in the rooms of Archie and some of his other male friends, the writers and illustrators responsible for creating these comics usually crafted bedroom scenes which reinforced the notion that girls were more likely to have telephones in their rooms than boys.


Frame Up - Archie's Pal Jughead - Dec 1954

A glimpse into Veronica’s bedroom. Note the frilly vanity in the background, the photos of Archie and Reggie, and, of course, the telephone. Taken from “Frame Up,” Archie’s Pal Jughead, December 1954.


Rooms belonging to boys, conversely, are portrayed in a much more Spartan manner, oftentimes emphasizing utilitarian designs based on traditionally masculine pursuits. The pastel colors and frilly bedroom accessories prized by Betty and Veronica are nowhere to be found in the rooms of Archie, Jughead, and Reggie, as the boys most often preferred to decorate their rooms with familiar symbols of masculinity, including pin-ups of girls and athletes, trophies, and high school banners.


Jughead - March 1966 - cropped

Even Jughead, the least athletic member of Archie’s gang, decorates his room with sports-related pin-ups and banners. Taken from the cover of Jughead, March 1966.


Similarly, boys’ rooms are almost always furnished with a desk, an important educational tool that is rarely ever seen in the rooms of female characters. This suggests that Archie, Jughead, and Reggie were expected to use their rooms as a means of attaining various educational goals, whereas Betty and Veronica were expected to use their rooms to attend to their physical appearance in an attempt, one presumes, to prepare them for their future roles as housewives and mothers.

The rooms that showed up in Archie comics also rarely ever played host to any serious acts of transgression. The teen bedroom was almost always conceived as a homosocial space, as male characters and female characters didn’t normally interact there in a prolonged or meaningful manner. The teen bedroom remained a wholesome space where pornography consumption, masturbation, and sexual experimentation were conspicuously absent, even after the sexual revolutions of the 1960s and 1970s began changing the sexual mores of the very teens and pre-teens who tended to read Archie comics.


Archie's Joke Book - October 1960 - cover

I’ve gone through a lot of Archie comics over the past few years and this is the only image I’ve seen in which a male and female character are shown spending time alone in the bedroom. Taken from the cover of Archie’s Joke Book, October 1960.


Similarly, the teen bedroom’s reputation as a place in which to store and consume drugs and alcohol did not often find expression in Archie comics. Male and female characters listened to records, ate food, and studied in their rooms, but one would be hard pressed to find a strip in which Reggie downs shots of tequila in his room or Betty Cooper cracks a window in her room while smoking a joint. The closest the writers of Archie comics ever came to discussing the dangers of the teen bedroom was a strip in which Jughead uses his bedroom window as a means of escaping from the family home. It should be noted, however, that Jughead doesn’t leap out of his window in order to break curfew or attend a high school party; instead, he does it to avoid doing household chores. Again, this is entirely keeping with Jughead’s reputation as a slacker rather than a comment on the teen bedroom’s value as a means of fleeing parental authority.


Loaf Oaf - Jughead - Nov 1979

Jughead beats a hasty retreat through his bedroom window. His aversion to chores is such that he ends up hiding in a sewer pipe, a dumpster, and his neighbor’s dog house. Taken from “Loaf Oaf,” Laugh, November 1979.


Ultimately, the people responsible for writing Archie comics offered a view of teen bedroom culture that was both familiar with contemporary trends and wildly anachronistic (which, come to think of it, is a somewhat apt description of Archie comics as a whole). On the one hand, they were quick to acknowledge that bedrooms were a prominent part of postwar teen culture and that identity issues often shaped how the average teenager decorated his or her room. On the other hand, the various activities Archie and his friends performed in their rooms would cause even the most obtuse among us to question the writers’ familiarity with contemporary teenagers. Obviously, the writers of Archie comics weren’t trying to attract the same audience as Zap or the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, but surely they could have presented a more complicated view of teen bedroom culture in which drug use, sex, and other non-wholesome topics are at least occasionally broached.

Interestingly enough, this task was left to some of the companies that advertised in Archie comics, many of whom ran ads for miniature vaults and safes disguised as books that promised to keep all sorts of teenage secrets “safe” from other family members.


Archie's Joke Book - October 1960 - p. Honor House advertisement - Archie's Gals & Pals - Feb 1968

It’s interesting to imagine what Archie would have kept in his own bedroom safe. A lock of Veronica’s hair? A “going steady” pin for Betty? An eight-ball of crystal meth? These ads were taken from Archie’s Joke Book, October 1960, and Archie’s Gals & Pals, February 1968, respectively.


Who’s to say what kind of things would have been stored away in these no doubt shabbily built products? Whereas one teen might have kept a diary and some assorted keepsakes in his or her “secret book safe,” another teen may have used it to hide cigarettes, drugs, or some other contraband item that ought not fall into the wrong hands. Either way, the folks who built and sold these products understood that even if Betty Cooper wasn’t going to smoke a joint in her room, there was a good chance that some of the teenagers who actually read Archie comics may have been inclined to do so—and that they probably needed a safe place to hide their stash.


Archie's Christmas Stocking - Number 20 - 1963

A controversial scene from a holiday-themed Archie comic in which our ginger hero ingests three hits of acid and interacts with an elf/hallucination named “Steve.” Taken from “The Return of Jingles,” Archie’s Christmas Stocking, December 1963.


Framed photos of Veronica and/or Betty show up in Archie’s room in “The Reel Thing,” Jughead, December 1968; “Instant-Mania,” Everything’s Archie, August 1974; “Late Fate,” Life With Archie, August 1980. Framed photos of Reggie and/or Archie show up in Veronica’s room in “Volley Folly,” Reggie and Me, October 1966. Jughead’s food-related décor choices can be seen in “Late Fate,” Life With Archie, August 1980. Reggie’s massive wall mirror can be found in “Sight Delight,” Reggie’s Wise Guy Jokes, February 1969.

The prevalence of vanities and traditionally feminine décor choices can be found in “Belle Telephone System,” Laugh, June 1963; “Disc-gusted,” Laugh, January 1965; “Recipe for Romance,” Betty & Veronica Double Digest, June 1989.

Athletic items are used for decorative purposes in “Safe Unsound,” Archie’s Pal Jughead, April 1957; “Farced Labor,” Laugh, July 1959; “Sick, Sick, Sick!” Laugh, July 1960; “Weak End Guest,” Laugh, November 1963; “Snooze Ruse,” Life With Archie, July 1986; “The Late Starter,” Betty & Veronica Double Digest, June 1989. Study desks figure prominently in “Tape Trouble,” Reggie and Me, October 1966; Jughead, December 1968, front cover; “Gift Rift,” Laugh, November 1974; “Adult Education,” Betty & Veronica Double Digest, June 1989; “Test Rest,” Laugh, June 1990.

Dewey Hate Him? And How!

I should preface this blog entry by pointing out that I’ve met and corresponded with several Objectivists recently, and the vast majority of them are perfectly reasonable and civil people. I might not agree with some of the tenets of their basic philosophy, but I’m reluctant to describe them as members of the Tinfoil Hat Brigade. However, as with any subculture—especially one that has established a solid presence on the Internet in recent years—there are a few Objectivists who become quite unhinged whenever certain topics come up. For example, while doing research for a scholarly article on Objectivist educational philosophies, I found that John Dewey, the renowned pragmatist philosopher and educator, inspires some rather extreme reactions among Ayn Rand’s followers in the Objectivist community.


John Dewey. Source: Columbia University.

I should also preface this entry by pointing out that I’m not a fan of John Dewey, be it in his role as educator or philosopher. His writing style is both dry and willfully obtuse, while his basic philosophy is, in my humble opinion, somewhat pedestrian. He is no doubt an important American thinker, but all in all I’d prefer to read almost anyone else when it comes right down to it. In other words, my attempts to point out just how unreasonable some Objectivists are when they attack Dewey shouldn’t be interpreted as an excuse to label me as an apologist for either Dewey as a person or his body of thought. I do not, in sum, have a horse in this race.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s begin by explaining the extent to which some Objectivists hate John Dewey. The most bizarre manifestation of this hate can be seen by examining a quotation that is often attributed to Dewey in which he argues that “you can’t make Socialists out of individualists. Children who know how to think for themselves spoil the harmony of the collective society which is coming, where everyone is interdependent.” Though this quote is often used by conservatives of all stripes to discredit Dewey—it even made an appearance in Anne Coulter’s 2007 book Godless—Objectivists have latched on to it as a means of illustrating how Dewey’s liberal approach to education was nothing more than an attempt to convert America into a worker’s paradise. For example, Amber Pawlik, a journalist and self-acknowledged “big fan of Ayn Rand,” used it to contrast Dewey’s so-called socialist inclinations with Montessori education and its purported emphasis on “developing the individual.”

The problem, of course, is that Dewey didn’t say anything of the sort. In fact, if you google the entire quotation—go ahead…I’ll wait—you’ll see thousands of results, yet none of them offer a means of tracking down the exact source. That’s because it simply doesn’t exist.

Whenever someone is accused of being a socialist you can almost always assume that the ghost of George Orwell will be evoked. The same holds true with John Dewey. In 2004, for example, Gennady Stolyarov, a commentator for a group called “Sense of Life Objectivists,” accused Dewey of advocating tactics associated with Big Brother from Orwell’s classic dystopian novel 1984. “A parallel can be produced to the theoretical suggestions of Mr. Dewey,” Stolyrov explained, “who proposed that schools remain continually vigilant in regard to the private lives of their students and even (as was also the purpose of the Spies in Oceania) recruit the youths themselves to watch their relatives with suspicion, all with the motive of broadening the influence of the socialist State.” Again, this is a completely unfounded claim—at no point did Dewey ever encourage educators to use children to spy on their parents. Dewey believed in state-run education, but one would be hard-pressed to suggest that he supported giving the state control over every aspect of our lives.

One prominent Objectivist even accused Dewey of espousing a philosophy that encouraged school shootings. In April 1999, just as the Columbine massacre was making headlines across much of the planet, Glenn Woiceshyn, a senior writer and curriculum expert for the Ayn Rand Institute, claimed that “the phenomenon of school violence, of classroom terrorism, gang fights, [and] the use of deadly weapons” was a by-product of Dewey’s views on education. Dewey’s purported disdain for reason and logic—an argument that can be dispelled by, you know, actually reading his works—were the culprits in this particular instance. Without reason to guide them, Woiceshyn argued, students are reduced “to the status of beasts—to slaves of their impulses—where no rational persuasion is possible. Their only ultimate recourse is to deal with each other by brute force—by the law of the jungle.”

So why all the hate?

In order to answer this question, one must go straight to the horse’s mouth. Ayn Rand, the founder of the Objectivist movement, often singled out Dewey’s philosophy as being particularly destructive because, unlike Rand and her peers, he didn’t believe in universal truths. His philosophy, in short, saw truth and knowledge as phenomena that were constantly being revised, an argument that flew in the face of Objectivism and its emphasis on immutable truths. Interestingly enough, Rand’s dislike of Dewey’s philosophy was such that she actually banished one of her acolytes from her inner circle for two years during the late-1950s after he expressed a fondness for Dewey and other so-called “subjectivist” philosophers.


Ayn Rand. Source: PBS.

And yet Rand’s scorn for Dewey alone doesn’t explain why her followers’ hate for the soft-spoken Columbia professor has only amplified in recent years. I would suggest that part of the problem is the very medium in which this blog is being transmitted: the Internet. Anyone who has taken part in an internet comment board knows that many online comments are nothing more than hyperbole and bile—what I like to call “hyperbile.” Though this alone doesn’t explain some of the arguments mentioned above, it might explain why John Dewey, a man who died well before the Internet was just a gleam in Uncle Sam’s eye, has been described by at least one New Jersey-area Objectivist as being “one of the most evil men to occupy America in the last 150 years.”

This topic is also briefly addressed in Jason Reid, “The Ayn Rand School for Tots: John Dewey, Maria Montessori and Objectivist Educational Philosophy during the Postwar Years” Historical Studies in Education 25 (Spring 2013): 73-94.

For more on Dewey’s reception on the internet, see Craig Cunningham’s excellent website.

Whatchu Talkin’ ‘bout, Phillip?: Diff’rent Strokes Examines the Legacy of Slavery

The mandate of this blog is to discuss some of the odd historical figures and events my peers and I have encountered while doing research for our various scholarly projects. This entry is no different, albeit with a slight twist: whereas my last blog post keyed in on a real life, violence-prone Baptist preacher whom I encountered while flipping through child-rearing manuals, this entry will examine a fictional character from an old sitcom I’ve been watching in order to figure out how teen room culture played out in the world of arts and entertainment.

The show I’m referring to—in case you were too lazy to even read the damn title—is Diff’rent Strokes, a ratings juggernaut that aired on ABC from 1978 to 1985 and NBC from 1985 to 1986. While much of the show’s humor was derived from the antics of young Arnold Jackson (played by Gary Coleman), his older brother Willis (played by Todd Bridges), and his older step-sister Kimberly (played by Dana Plato), the show’s moral center was always held by Phillip Drummond, the wealthy New Yorker who took in Arnold and Willis after their mother—Drummond’s housekeeper—died of an unspecified illness. Though his character was, in many respects, dull as dishwater, Phillip Drummond did something in a 1981 episode (entitled “The Ancestors”) that legitimately shocked me.

But first some background information…

“The Ancestors” begins with an appearance from a lawyer for the city of New York who informs Mr. Drummond that a plot of land in Harlem that was once assumed to be owned by the city was in actuality owned by one Heinrich Van Drummond, a distant uncle of Phillip’s who amassed a small fortune in the early nineteenth century. Phillip and his children are, of course, elated to find out that they may own a piece of property that could be worth as much as $2 million. Willis even suggests that his dad build a community center on the property in order to help out Harlem’s black community, an idea that Phillip, adopting a characteristically avuncular tone of voice, readily agrees to. There’s one hitch though: Phillip has to come up with evidence to prove that he’s actually related to Heinrich Van Drummond.

After a quick commercial break—let’s just imagine for a moment that ABC aired teasers for its other hit comedies Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, and Three’s Company—we see Phillip and his sister Sophia (played by Broadway veteran Dody Goodman) carrying some boxes filled with important family documents and other heirlooms. A portrait of Heinrich, which looks almost identical to Phillip save for some serious mutton chop sideburns, is produced, as is a journal in which Heinrich waxes poetic to his wife Martha. A marriage certificate is eventually pulled from the box, offering Phillip and his sister the evidence they need to prove that they are the descendents of Heinrich Van Drummond and, thus, the rightful owners of the property in Harlem.

Before they can celebrate, however, Aunt Sophia stumbles across a document that complicates matters somewhat. Sophia, the so-called “family historian,” reads a tattered ship’s manifest (a list of cargo on seafaring vessels) and hastily concludes that old Heinrich Van Drummond owned a cruise line that catered exclusively to African-Americans. The joke, of course, is that Sophia, who’s clearly a bit slow on the uptake, has unwittingly revealed that their ancestor was a slave-trader. Several important questions are asked: How will this affect the plans to build the community center? Will the residents of Harlem even want a community center built on land that was paid for with the blood of countless slaves? Will the community center one day need to be saved by a band of misfits who use their break dancing skills to vanquish a greedy developer?

In an extremely uncharacteristic move, Mr. Drummond, with the full support of his sister, decides that this information cannot be made public. He invites the city lawyer (an African-American fellow, by the way) over to the apartment and asks him for advice. For some strange reason, the lawyer agrees with Phillip and Sophia, telling them that their ancestor’s occupation cannot be revealed if they have any hope to get this community center built.

This is where shit gets real.

Not content to simply retreat into his web of lies, Phillip takes the tattered old ship’s manifest that revealed his uncle’s slave-trading ways and tears it to shreds in front of the lawyer. Now, I should point out that I am not easily shocked—I can watch the most violent movies and play the goriest video games without flinching, and I positively revel in anything that features copious amounts of profanity. But seeing Phillip Drummond tear up a priceless 170+ year old historical document produced a sensation in me not unlike being kicked in the chest. Though I don’t have the stats to back it up—I’m no damnable quantitative historian!—I suspect that March 25, 1981 (the night this episode originally aired) saw literally thousands of historians, archivists, antiquarians, and museum curators from across America suffer massive coronaries while basking in the warm glow of their television sets.

By the end of the episode, Phillip redeems himself somewhat by having one of those changes of heart that seemed to pop up in every family-oriented sitcom during the 1980s. Mr. Drummond eventually reveals his ancestor’s troubled past to the residents of Harlem during a groundbreaking ceremony, winning back the love and respect of his children in the process (Willis was particularly bothered by his father’s decision to sweep his family history under the rug). Thankfully, the citizens of Harlem don’t seem bothered by the news, offering support for the community center, despite its ties to the slave trade. In short, everyone has a reason to be happy.

Everyone, of course, but people like myself who work in the historical profession. Phillip Drummond once seemed like a harmless square—a cardigan-wearing father figure who spouted corny jokes and always did right. But now he seemed tainted. The futurist in me would like to think that Mr. Drummond represents a strain in American culture that refuses to be held back by the weight of the country’s history. The conspiracy theorist in me, however, arrived at a much different conclusion: Phillip Drummond hates historians.

Ladies & Gentlemen: C.S. Lovett

During the course of doing research on the topic of teen room culture, I’ve read quite a few parenting guides and other works that purport to instruct moms and dads on how to deal with surly teens. Most of these books—as well as their authors—can be best described as “benign” or even “boring.” One book I stumbled across, however, can only be described by using another phrase featuring the letter ‘B’: “batshit crazy.”

The book in question is called What’s A Parent To Do? It was written in 1971 by an evangelical minister from California named C.S. Lovett. As his website explains, Lovett has been presiding over a non-denominational Christian organization called Personal Christianity since 1951. In that time, he’s published numerous books on a wide array of topics, including weight loss (Help Lord, the Devil Wants Me Fat! and Jogging With Jesus), apostasy (What to Do When Your Friends Reject Christ), and how to manage your personal finances in the afterlife (Will You Be Poor In Heaven?).

Though What’s A Parent To Do? doesn’t have a particularly punchy title, the actual contents of the book are a bit too “punchy” for my tastes. Lovett, after all, uses the teachings of Christ to rationalize his support for corporal punishment, oftentimes citing the value of violence in bringing rebellious teens back in line. “God’s way,” Lovett explains, “is clearly the ‘rod of correction.’”

Lovett refers to his system of discipline as “The Nutcracker.” A two-pronged approach designed for use by both moms and dads, “The Nutcracker” relies just as much on psychologically terrorizing teens as it does on cowing them with brute force. For example, Lovett believes that teens should sit alone in their room shortly before they’re attacked, so that they can take a few minutes to dwell on their upcoming assault. “You want him to sit alone in his room for a few minutes before you come in,” Lovett explains. “This way he can be alone with his thoughts. It gives him a little time to determine how far he wants to carry this rebellion. Also his emotional buildup will be greater. Your words, ‘I’ll be along in a few minutes,’ have a familiar ring. He knows what’s coming.”

The act of assaulting teenagers is presented without any amount of shame, as Lovett seems to employ the same inane jargon commentators on the Golf Network might use to describe a particularly accurate drive: “That was the sound of your open palm striking him full across the cheek. It was a good blow. His skin reddens where your fingers landed. He’s surprised. Shocked is a better word.”

ImageThe Nutcracker in action…

It is worth noting, however, that even child abuse has a code that must be followed. As the illustration below suggests, Lovett feels that punching teenagers with a closed-fist is simply beyond the pale.

ImageIn this boy’s case, yeah his parents aren’t even close to being perfect…

Though the use of fists is forbidden—the author must be a fan of professional wrestling—Lovett thinks it’s entirely permissible to use a belt if slapping doesn’t have the intended effect: “Whap! Whap! Whap! Whap! Whap! Those were good blows,” Lovett exclaims, perhaps channeling the Marquis de Sade. “They hurt. He felt them, but good.”

Now, I imagine some of you are probably wondering what the teen pictured above (his name is Jerry, by the way) did to deserve being slapped and whipped with a belt? As it turns out, Jerry wasn’t doing drugs or performing home invasions or hanging around with loose women. No, Jerry was being beaten because he failed to keep a clean room. Lovett, moreover, encourages mothers to whip their teen daughters with a switch for something as inconsequential as lying about attending a slumber party at a friend’s house. Girls who lie to their mothers, the author suggests, “must pay the price.” At one point, Lovett even encourages parents to use the strap on boys who forget to rake the leaves.

Let me reiterate: C.S. Lovett feels that keeping a messy room, lying about a slumber party, and forgetting to rake the leaves necessitates using force against teenagers (and, I suspect, younger children as well). Even if you, dear reader, are in favor of corporal punishment, you have to admit that this is quite possibly the most terrifying piece of parenting advice ever. And if that doesn’t send chills down your spine, consider that Lovett is also willing to use starvation as a tool: “Don’t plan on Jerry for dinner. Until he submits to cleaning his room he should get NO FOOD at your house. You’re not going to feed a rebel.”

Lest I be accused of being anti-Christian, let me just say that I’ve read several other parenting guides that were written by prominent Christian leaders, and none of them come even close to approaching Lovett’s level of craziness. For example, Rupert Hoover, a Methodist minister from Michigan, published a book in 1962 entitled Enjoy Your Teenager that features (so far as I can tell) exactly zero acts of violence against teens. Even James Dobson, one of the most powerful (and conservative) evangelical leaders of the 1980s and 1990s, wrote advice books for parents (most notably, Hide and Seek and The Strong-Willed Child) that offer no support for the idea of whipping children with belts. C.S. Lovett, in other words, is extreme even by evangelical standards.

Lovett sums up his views on disciplining teens by pointing out how well “The Nutcracker” supposedly worked on his no doubt terrified hypothetical son. “Jerry goes to his room,” Lovett brags. “He makes his bed and puts things away. He’s not exactly happy. It’s a grudging service… His shell has cracked.” Unfortunately, Jerry can expect to be on the receiving end of even more beatings in the coming weeks and months. Lovett not only sees corporal punishment as a means of bringing teens back in line, but also in keeping them there. “Being in submission is a new role for him,” Lovett warns. “Even so, it’s a wonderful start. You’ve gained the upper hand—plan to keep it.”

All of the quotes and pictures in this entry can be found in C.S. Lovett, What’s A Parent To Do? (Baldwin Park, CA: Personal Christianity, 1971), 91-3, 109-11, 113-14, 129-31,156-57, 181.


This blog is devoted to discussing history—any field, geographic region, or era—placing particular emphasis on some of the more deranged events and personalities that have made their presence felt here on god’s grey earth. Basically, this blog is meant to highlight bizarre historical research that wouldn’t normally be submitted to peer review.