It's General Conference time in Mormonland this weekend, and I find my house is a bit like the Babylon 5 Station during the episode Day of the Dead at these times. My mother's room is definitely part of a different universe where she's watching the conference on television; the bathroom is sort of neutral ground, where I can hear (usually) that there are voices, but not what they are saying.
However, at one point I while there I was able to hear the traditional litany of how fast the LDS Church is growing, with various numbers and indicators being tossed about. I say traditional because every damn General Conference I had to sit thru as a child had at least one of the same type of talk. State of the Nation kind of stuff, I thought, if at times a little strident about things like relative birth-rates and nations where missionaries were allowed to visit.
But I'm struck just now, by the home page of Revolution in Jesusland, a blog that is trying to open a dialog between secular progressives and evangelical progressives. It's a worthy effort, what little I've poked around - I got there from a link from the Wildhunt and was admittedly surprised to find such a thing as progressive evangelical Christians are apparently a growing segment of society.
And that's just it, because there's a couple of paragraphs where they emphasize how fast their movement is growing, and how it "probably dwarfs the secular left" and it's incredibly large, and...
Hmm, this sounds familiar. What it makes me think of is both whistling in the dark and the phenomena of the marked case. A marked case is where you have an adjective modifying - marking - a noun to indicate that the situation is somehow unusual; the normative case usually lacks modifiers because, well, it's the normal state of affairs. You see it a lot in gender descriptions of professions, though thankfully not as much as in the past: male nurse is a marked case, because the unconscious assumption is that one of the sub-descriptors of nurse in the normative case is female.
So like a cat puffing up its tail to look bigger, both of these somewhat marginal groups appear to need reassurance, on some level, of the size of their movements. Whereas if they were really confident of how many people were coming to see things their way, they probably wouldn't feel such a strong need to emphasize that growth in devotion.
True strength doesn't need to advertise, because it simply is. People who are truly confident in their abilities don't need to boast, and usually don't, in my experience. I'll admit I could be way off base, but it was just to interesting a parallel not to mention.