How Society Works

How Society Works

We Are All Imitators: It’s the Way We Are Made

family, role models, social science, society No comments

I have spent a life in the social sciences, psychology and sociology, yet it was not till relatively recently that I dug into the work of René Girard. Within his work one fundamental insight stands out: man is an imitator.  This flies in the face of being an American, being modern and being independent. To imitate is to be dependent on another. Though independent people never want to be seen as dependent, this is a major shortcoming, especially when its power is not constantly taught.

It is extremely powerful.  We imitate those we trust, even in small things and even when we don’t know much about the people we rate as trustworthy: In an art gallery we are more likely to go to paintings looked at by others whose  faces seem trustworthy than to pictures looked at by those whose faces don’t seem trustworthy. This happens without our realizing it. The example of those we trust is powerful. We have yet to harness this power of imitation to mold the human soul.  It phenomenon is worth cultivating.

We could help those in society who are being left behind by teaching them, not what to do, or how to do it (evaluation data shows that does not work) but, instead, whom to copy.

Children from the inner-city have few-to-no examples of children who grew up in their neighborhood and made it to college, or who got married. Without others to imitate they cannot imitate. This is the great poverty. Today, many of our inner-city poor have a material well-being way greater than the middle class of the 1960’s, but their real poverty has grown much deeper. Congress suffers the same poverty  and all the mega-social agencies (HHS, HUD, DOE, DOJ, CDC) spend their behavior-improving-money uselessly (and the data show it so, again and again), because of the absence of an abundance of good examples.

When there are no good examples to imitate how do we break the cycle of bad choices made?

Stories abound of good folk who befriended those in need. But good folk don’t present themselves as examples to be imitated but rather are noticed as quietly go about helping. Those who receive the help and those who see the helping often get more from the example of their well-lived lives than from “the help”. I remember a Maryland pastor telling the story of his wife as a young girl. Her family was totally dysfunctional.  All her siblings were in jail.  She, however, was able to take a different path because of a kind couple who lived a on her street. With her parents’ permission, they took her in every weekend and brought her to church with them on Sunday, dressing her up for weekly worship. Those Saturdays and Sundays spent with that couple opened her eyes and she saw what life could be. The seed was sown and she cultivated it throughout her teens and into adulthood.

So how can the single mother break the cycle of single motherhood for her daughters? One way is to find single mothers who have raised daughters who married successfully and imitate them.  How can the absent-father break the cycle of father-absence for his son? They find single fathers who have raised sons who married successfully and imitate them.

But for the inner-city poor these examples may be so infrequent as not to be noticed (only 9% of African American seventeen-year-olds in SE Washington live with their married biological parents, 91 % have a different example). How do we help them?

Netflix could get creative, could do great good with all the profits they are making. Uplifting human-interest stories are always enjoyable. They can make the careers of scriptwriters and directors. Masterpiece Theatre, if it pulled off something like this would bring a totally new meaning to its name.  Bill and Melinda Gates, concerned that their spending may not be achieving as much good as they hoped, might invest in true stories of bravery and goodness and love giving birth to a stronger generation.

In a way, we all have this task of finding, and making known those hidden people who have achieved the worthiness of being imitated in their family life. We need others to imitate if we are to go forward to our next level of being better.  We all love a good story, especially one of rags to riches (and most especially from family relational rags to family relational riches).

Write Netflix or Masterpiece Theatre or The Gates Foundation.

Harvey Weinstein and His Child

abortion, gender, sexuality 1 comment

For men, women are the most desirable of all in God’s creatures.  Not only Adam has had this experience, all is descendants do too, and have their own ranking of the “desirability-from-afar” of women.  However, all men also learn (as do women about men) that up close and real many high rankings crumble because intrinsic to her desirability is her goodness.  Nobody but the insanely lustful wants a physically beautiful woman who comes with major vices. Which, sadly, brings us to “the modern woman”.

The search for the beginning of the end of Western Civilization can go back quite a distance, well into the middle ages.  I vote for Ockham, though others will go further backwards or forward.  But, within the modern maze of cracking foundations many would point to the acceptance of abortion in law as the most significant change. It changed, and was designed to change, the status of all women in law.  In social relations it also changed the more hidden status of those women who bought into it — who accepted “non-marital sex with abortion as backup insurance”.  Such women, at heart, are very different from those who reject regime.   Unwittingly, most of these new women have embraced grave evils.  They are changed and in this they are totally different from women “of old”.

And the men who welcome these new women are of the same heart, and probably even worse because they will have in spades that vice easily inflamed in the male:  to lust after many women, not just one.  He will be prone to lust after, use and then discard the woman of the moment as soon as the next desirable one comes along.  Enter myriad Harvey Weinsteins.   But, in this new regime, no man can be really at ease for all know we have a Harvey close within, locked up, we hope, but in a jail easily broken out of.

There is a real justice to the pursuit of Harvey and his imitators, no doubt, but  I am not sure there is much virtue to it because the rather immediate root causes (abortion as backup to sex outside of marriage) are still sacred cows in the religion of the accusers and the courts of the enforcers.

I am sure it has amazed all men — sexually virtuous or not, guilty as Harvey or not — who have seen some of the accusers still dressing in a way that is real “sexual harassment” of all men.  In effect these women say: “I present myself physically to you so that you will lust after me, but don’t you dare present yourself physically to me in response.  Do that and you will end up in court, hopefully in jail.”  It seems they are flaunting a legally protected form of sexual harassment.

This highlights the modern dilemma for Western civilization and its laws: it has lost its bearings on what it is to be a man and to be a woman, but is not yet prepared to go for deep reform on the difference, the intimate connection between male and female, where the connection which balances that difference is the child.

However, modern sexual relations are legally premised on the exclusion of the child, both in contraception and in abortion.  Yet that very child is the anchor of civilization, its compass and its destination. But no one is talking child as they talk Harvey Weinstein.  And most would think it crazy to bring the child into this conversation. And they are right.  In the modern world it is crazy, most especially in court, where the child, the ultimate victim is not admitted as witness, not even as observer.  Such is the constipated justice in this deserved but exacerbating pursuit of the Harvey Weinsteins of the world.

It used to be true that women were the cause of men becoming civilized.  Today the woman who rejects the child in “contraception + abortion” is incapable of being such a civilizing source.  Now the power to grow civilization lies neither with the man nor the woman but with the one between them — the most powerless of all, their child.  But power provides no path to the child, only love does.  And the love that unites man, woman and child —overwhelmingly is God.  So the data show.

When the child is front and center in all matters sexual the world will have found its way forward again.  And it will be easier for all men to keep their Harvey in jail.

A World of Order or Chaos

family, natural family planning, women 1 comment

Today we come to celebrate the work of Natural Womanhood, whose calling is to tip the world towards the future it needs if it is not to descend into yet more chaos. (A version of this with footnote references may be found on the MARRI site here.)

Every natural family planning method teaches the “how” of going about the marital act but they hide their fundamental purpose: a family built on the unity of wife and husband, and built on the woman’s personal choices. In the world where woman has her full dignity she controls access to sexual intimacy; thus, her desires and her fears take center stage in choosing “how” and when.  But to achieve this she needs her husband’s full cooperation.  With such a husband she has the man every woman dreams of:  one who cooperates with her and honors her at the deepest level – at the level of creating their child together.

One very significant piece of research was conducted on the NFP family but is virtually unknown: Dr. Robert Lerner’s comparison of an opportunity sample of Couple to Couple League graduates with a random national sample of all married couples with children.

Listen to this: On the question of success in raising their families 75 % of the NFP group scored in the “success group” (satisfied, very satisfied and extremely satisfied) while the national average was 6%.  At the other end, the unsuccessful group (dissatisfied, very dissatisfied and extremely dissatisfied), the national average was 69% while the NFP average was only 2%.  Differences such as these are very seldom seen in social science.

The reason, the cause, can be found in another result within the report:

On satisfaction with communication between spouses, 76% of NFP women are Satisfied (Satisfied, very satisfied, or extremely satisfied) while only 5% are Dissatisfied (dissatisfied, very dissatisfied, extremely dissatisfied). Seventy six percent versus five percent is virtually an unheard-of difference in the scientific literature, but I am certain of the cause because during my first three years as a therapist I learned the power of unity in marriage. By my third year of practice, I would not see a child until I could see the whole family (including father).   After a few sessions, keeping the focus off the child and on the whole family, I would suggest “Let us leave the children at home next time,” and then start working on the troubles in the marriage that invariably were a significant part of the picture.  When unity between the couple was restored, 95% of the children became symptom-free without “having to be treated”. The child thrives in the love that is unity between parents. This is the secret of success for NFP couples.

This is the great difference Natural Womanhood brings to the world. It offers a superior world, a world all women wish was accessible to them, a world of unity between husband and wife, where communications are great; where confidence in parenting is very high; where children thrive. And it all begins with sex: a choice between two lifestyles, two types of community, two cultures — two civilizations really–where people belong to each other or one where people are lost and reject each other and their children. The conversation about sex determines the way.

With the way of Natural Womanhood everyone wins: The couple, the child, the next generation, the community and the culture.

Why would anyone not accept this way? Because of the false promises, deceptions, easy “truths” that the “Cheap Sex” offered in contraceptive sexual intercourse — cheap because it promises the greatest of pleasures without Nature’s corresponding price of marriage and of children.  Contraception is inherently deceptive and hides — and never, ever acknowledges its costs, the highest often being the rejection, even the elimination of the child, as well as the relationship cost between the couple.   Everyone pays dearly.

Different women pay the price of myriad biological effects that at different rates, in different ways and with increasing visibility, are causing the bodies of women to breakdown in such illnesses as thrombosis, stroke, glaucoma, as well as breast, cervical, and liver cancers. It significantly increases weight gain, and complications with Type 2 diabetics. It changes brain functioning. All the woman’s biological systems are oriented towards attracting, conceiving, birthing, nursing.  Contraception closes these systems down, and different systems for different women crack under the strain. It is not nature’s way.

It has also brought us levels of STDs unknown in recorded history: We now have at least four “constant epidemics” with 20 million new infections per year, yielding a total of 110 million ongoing infections —- causing such damage as ectopic pregnancy, infertility and irregular bleeding.

The woman’s psychological costs include increased depression and anxiety. It even alters her perception of men leading her to choose a husband she never would have chosen were she not on the pill, or to not like her husband when she comes off the pill.

Ironically, it reduces the enjoyment of sexual intercourse for many women.

What a massive deception of women.

The Child (our future) has paid the highest price. Modern levels of child victimization are now so massive it is hard for the mind to grasp, and beyond anything ever experienced in human history — all because of sex gone wrong through contraception, which, without exception has invariably led to massive human deficits — starting with abortion, even in nations where it is outlawed.  Today, across the globe, 60 million new human beings are killed in the womb each year.  This is akin to deliberately repeating the total killings of WWII every year.

For those who live, in the US, by age seventeen, 54% live in a family without their biological mother and father living together — with all the concomitant weaknesses that brings in every major task in life. Most damaging of all is their diminished capacity and likelihood of belonging to a spouse and to their children in their own adult lives.

The biggest price for the man is that he is rejected by his woman (70% of the divorces and most of the cohabitations) after which he has less to live for.  And his father-absent sons, will in turn, become child-absent fathers in their time. These fathers die younger, sadder and lonelier, with addictions leading the way as the immediate cause, and suicide trailing a bit behind.

The community pays in the massive social costs of out of wedlock births, abortions and divorces, and these, not just at increased levels but at “culture shock” levels.  The sexual revolution of the 1960’s, the pill, has given us a severed nation where more than half of seventeen-year-olds now live in families where one of their parents has split.  For African Americans 83% have split.  The cost in the loss of human talent is astronomical, an absence compounded by its replacement by increased crime, poverty, addictions, mental illness, ill heath, educational failure!

Compounded over generations (now multiple generations for many) this is leading to increased victimization of children.

At the global level we see the depopulation of developed Western nations.  Europe is slowly dying, but by history’s timeline, very quickly. Northern Italy is the prime exhibit, where the child now has no brothers or sisters, aunts or uncles or cousins, where the future must belong to foreigner because the inhabitants are disappearing.  The same is playing out in Holland – which is likely to become a majority Moslem nation in your lifetime. God blesses those who give Him children; even God cannot bless those who do not exist!

The price to the body politic is an atmosphere of increased rejection, hostility, disunity and irreconcilable goals and factions.  Scapegoat-seeking is rising quickly: “You are the cause of this set of victims, for it cannot be me. And — if I get to say it first: you are the cause.”  This is the sound of a marriage breaking up. It is also the sound of a body politic breaking apart.

Culture pays the price in the death of romance — and with that the debasement of the arts and entertainment, along with the erosion of worship of God and the unleashing of lust, anger, hatred and violence. All the data show this.  And it all begins with sex gone wrong — with sex gone deceptive — with sex gone contraceptive.

Paraphrasing Longfellow we can say: “The wheels of nature grind slowly, but they grind exceeding small.”

Contraception has given us a world into which no sane adult would freely choose and only a diabolical architect would design. The world has been duped and deceived —- by the father of lies. But nobody believes in him anymore, so he continues to win.

Natural Womanhood offers a different world.

There is a trinitarian nature to human relationships — but it all depends on which trinity we put in place: the positive one or the negative one; the other-oriented one or the self-centered one.  The third person every sexually active couple deals with, inviting into or banishing from the conversation, is the child. One triad, the inclusive one, is like a three-atom molecule in stable orbit, the other, the excluding one, is composed of two atoms colliding with the third.  It is unstable and very dangerous as we have just listed.

We know and need not duck the reality that such stable couples are most often, though not exclusively, found among those who worship God regularly.

Though by now virtually every educated person knows that adults and children thrive most in the always-intact-married-family, but virtually no one knows that the same source of data – the US federal survey system — also shows, always, that the adults and children who thrive most also worship God weekly.  The royal road to thriving is the two great loves of marriage and the worship of God.  That NFP couples also often illustrate is thus no wonder.

And here is what they set in motion:

Without realizing it NFP couples openly teach the fundamental likeness of man to God in their conversations about intercourse, for they acknowledge the presence of the child, waiting eagerly on the sidelines, to be called into the ”game of life”, waiting so intensely it takes huge effort to keep him there till beckoned.  But when The Natural Woman and her husband call, that child is welcomed with a love that makes this new trinity on earth an image and likeness of  the Trinity in heaven — at least a beginning likeness.

This is the great reality that Natural Womanhood offers this child just conceived, the one cell zygote being shuttled by follicles down his mother’s fallopian tube to be lodged in her womb, there to grow into the baby that will soon upend her life and her husband’s forever, transforming her into a beautiful mother with a new fierce purpose in life while transforming him into a determined father, provider and protector.

Consider this: This newly conceived infant, at this point not even known to his parents but only to the Trinity, but drawing on the universal experience of the whole human race could say to his parents:

“I need your marriage, your growing unity, to become the person God intends me to be.  He has made me dependent on that love, which also happens to be the path for you to become the mature persons you must become— if I am to become the person I am meant to be.  From here on out, all three of us are dependent on this marriage. From here on we are a trinity.”

And we all are to worship God, at minimum, weekly if we are to become the person we are meant to be.  All human history, in all cultures across the globe, across all times, teaches this lesson. This way, together, we three can become much more the persons He wants us to be, so that we can be together with Him, after we have walked the full length of the path of life.” 

Natural Womanhood has appeared at its appointed time. By now many know about NFP, but barely and inadequately.  However, the deception of “Cheap Sex” is now more unmasked if only because the suffering it brings is more visible.  Furthermore, both social and biological sciences are on your side, because — when well done—they cannot but illustrate the way God made man.

But keep in mind that modern woman’s great conflict is the child.  Deep in her bones she knows the child is the price of happiness, but who can show her the way, and where does she find the man worthy of marrying her?

Because we all are created as imitators we have no choice but the wrong one if we do not have attractive people to imitate. Natural Womanhood is great work and must point to those worth imitating.  You are called to be great storytellers, called to build a new civilization worthy of a future by being worthy of the woman and the child.

I am sure God is with you as you set about your work.  May you experience His presence and His help, and enjoy heaven with those you help get there.

A Tipping Point in American History: New Forms of Violence

children, family structure, love, marriage, religion, violence 1 comment

Man thrives when he is loved, and needs love most especially when he is young so that he grows straight up and is not bent over by the burden of neglect.   A mature adult grown on love is then capable of giving love in more abundance, 10-fold, 50-fold or a 100-fold. When such a man or woman becomes a father and mother they can now give love and begin the cycle again.   As we have seen again and again, those in the intact married family are those most likely to give in abundance, not perfectly but in most abundance.

Therefore, the society of the future that will thrive most is the one with the most children growing up with the most love.  Thus the basic model of the thriving society is one that has more along three axes, the two axes of love and the axis of more children.  The more society worships, marries and has children the more it thrives — in everything.

The reverse model gives us much less good and much more weaknesses when there is less marriage, less worship and less children.

But with this negative/reverse model we are beginning to see that we get much more than “just less”.

Mary Eberstadt, in her recent critique of emerging patterns of violence across campuses  and other places in the US, is getting quite close to Rene Girard’s insights on the role of violence in society, and in starting new civilizations.  From the ‘almost-lynching’ of Charles Murray at Middlebury College earlier this year to the many similar incidents which have multiplied since then, she is highlighting an emerging violence new to our society, one that Charles Murray points out is going unpunished.  Professor Marsha Kinder of USC seems to suggest we are at a tipping point in saving or losing our society.

Going back to our reverse/negative model it occurs to me that what we are really seeing are the noxious weeds that are growing in the advanced de-Christianized section of America which is now in search of the new idols it needs to make America newly ‘sacred’ in its own terms.  In a very Girardian manner campus society (students and professors) is acting-out basic instincts of violence and hatred, testing their new “theology” as they search for victims to be successfully blamed and sacrificed.

Society’s laws, which attempt to contain violence, are undergirded by religious beliefs in turn undergirding the moral code that informs that code of laws.  Christianity, over the centuries, not only gradually contained violence but unmasked it through the Crucifixion. In that event the totally Innocent Victim was sacrificed but in so permitting Himself to be murdered overcame and exposed, for all future citizens of the world, the evil nature of violence and in the process made all innocent victims His closest collaborators across time and place.

There is a new rage loose in America that any rational person fears.   Should our leaders fail to contain this violence it will likely end in the murder of an innocent victim somewhere.  The violent part of America will continue to seek its “evil victim” who, by definition, is innocent in the eyes of Christians, but guilty in the eyes of the haters who marshal a Christianity-based victimology to condemn this ‘culprit’.  Cardinal George saw this phase  coming some time ago, when he reiterated and republished his lesson a year before his death:

“I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.”

According to Girard all other cultures got their start with a foundational violent event, the murder of an innocent victim in which all the onlookers partook.  If successful in making the victim “guilty” the mob’s hatred is assuaged, and the event becomes sacred to their history.

The ‘reverse/negative model’ fills the vacuum with hatred. Keep an eye on the emerging raw hatreds and violence, the noxious weeds that fill the vacuum created by generations who worship God less and less.  This is very new phenomenon in America and the nation’s rescuers will have to be endowed with a special genius.

Church and State: No; Government and Religion: Yes

religion, religious freedom, social science, society No comments

I bet there is not a single person in the United States who advocates for a Church established by the State.  We have never had a federal established Church though we had a few state-level established churches in the early days of the Republic.  Thanks be to God we no longer have them. Thus, on the issue of separation of Church and State we have total national agreement and it is a resounding: No, Never.

However, on the integration of government and religion the answer has to be a resounding ‘yes’.

Because we are a democratic Republic we have government by the people, and because all people live out their lives somewhere along the spectrum of religious beliefs at the individual, family and community levels it is impossible to discuss how we govern ourselves and shape our ‘polis’ without discussing and accommodating ourselves to each other’s type, level and practice of religious beliefs. The radical opponents of religious belief and practice are afraid of such free discussion because, though they all claim to believe in science, they are afraid of a scientific debate on the benefits of religious practice to the formation of a good citizenry.  At bottom they are afraid to debate and thus do all in their power to make sure the science does not get into the discussion.  They close it by insisting on the shibboleth of “Separation of Church and State”, a shibboleth because there are no proponents for that cause.

Because religious practice is so beneficial to society it ought to be much more a part of our political discussions. For instance in the Congressional discussion that led to the big, intrusive and expensive initiative called “No Child Left Behind”, on which billions were spent, there was no discussion of the impact of religious attendance on education performance, even though it may be the single biggest variable to effect educational outcomes, and is accessible to all who want it, and is (for the state) an option that costs them nothing.

As readers of this column know, all federal surveys that measure the frequency of religious practice constantly point out that those who worship weekly are, on average, the best citizens in the nation on every measure of concern in public policy, on every measure that makes for a good ‘polis’.   The same surveys also point out that those who worship little to none, on average, are the worst citizens in the United States on all the measures of greatest concern to good government.  This is what science says.  Thus, religious practice ought to be a key component of public policy discussions.  Not only do we have too little discussion of the benefits of religious practice in political debate, we have virtually none.

It is time to begin to change this, and not leave the field to the opponents of religious practice.

Many who give up on faith in God say instead they believe in science.  But they are unfaithful to their faith.  Science points out that the practice of religion is, on average, massively beneficial for those who practice it.  The academy, by and large, is the most anti-scientific community on this issue.  How massively ironic this is. And how indicative of the level of the crisis in education that all are beginning to realize with the academy’s handling of freedom on university campuses.

It is time for citizens to simultaneously affirm the separation of Church and State with a resounding no, while affirming an integration of government and religion with a resounding yes.  For the good of the nation, for the future of our polis, it is time to go on offense.  And George Washington in both his Inaugural and his Farewell speeches makes the same point.

The Hidden Economy that Love and Mothers Generate

economics, family, marriage, mothers No comments

In his book Redeeming Economics, John Mueller, of The Ethics and Public Policy Center, formerly  an economic forecaster with many Fortune 500 clients, traces the suppression and the loss of the Fourth Law of Economics – the law of distribution.  This law had been well known to economists of the Middle Ages when the study of economics boomed — along with the boom in the European economy   (Adam Smith tried to reduce the laws  to one, failed, and ended up with two, but suppressed two.) Others since have added back the third.  The fourth has yet to be “rediscovered”, if one does not count Mueller’s work.   The distribution of the income of a firm, a family or an individual goes a very long way in adding to the economy of the firm, family or individual.  One basic example is how much spending vs saving vs charitable giving goes on. Some in the family often forego their share to take care of others (the law of the gift — of redistribution, freely undertaken).  Charitable giving at the right moment can make a huge difference to the life of someone in need; saving to send a child to college or to private school is another form of the gift.  There are myriad.  But going to the family level is the mother at home raising her children is involved in multiple gift-giving all the time and Nobel Laureate Gary Becker says makes a greater contribution to the economy than her husband working out in the marketplace.   That mother has a hidden and powerful effect on the money her husband brings home to the family.  She can make it go much further if she is wise.  The husband who has such a wife is much wealthier than the husband with the same income but a wife not as wise or selfless.  With a little thought you can identify women on both sides of this divide.

How large is that mother’s contribution?  We get some idea from the research of a colleague of mine at Catholic University, Dr. Sophia Aguirre.  Drawing on multiple federal economic surveys she demonstrated that when the mother goes out to work she has to reach pretty high levels of income to replace the lost “amplifying redistribution” effect, as well as making  up for the extra costs involved in going to work (clothes, transportation, increased taxes and  child care to name but a few).  Aguirre’s conclusion: “Yet, we also find that for the most part, the net income is [on average] economically insignificant.  Furthermore, the results suggest that the lower the income and the education of the secondary earner, the higher the probability of the net contribution to the total income of the household to be zero, or possibly negative.”

In other words, the net contribution of most mothers to the family income is not great, unless she is very well educated and can command a significant income ($100,000 +, ten years ago when the study was done).  Though this is disappointing news for many, looked at differently it is fantastic news for most:  The mother at home makes enormous economic contributions to her family and multiplies the income her husband brings home – and that does not even address the huge educational, psychological and social benefits of her presence to her children and their future earnings capacity (which was the basis of Gary Becker’s insight of her contribution to the economy being much greater than her husbands.  That conclusion depends on the time frame used to judge her contribution.  In a world of quarterly reports that contribution is totally missed.)

Now back to John Mueller: At a recent conference when he presented on the major insights of “Redeeming Economics” I asked him how much of the economy is hidden by the law of redistribution (the law of the gift, which among other gifts includes  the mother’s contribution at home).  His public answer: “About 50%”.  That is our GDP is twice as big as we think it is.

Mueller’s analysis and Aguirre’s analysis coming from totally different perspectives end up in pretty much the same place.  Mother virtually doubles the family’s economic benefit!

If one were to include the costs to the economy of increases in crime, addiction, school failure, ill health and mental illness — all resulting from “anti-gifts” — the absence of the gift of marriage to the children — with the depletion from the economy (crime, stealing, robbery, fraud, and all costs that would be avoided were all children raised in married families), this changes the picture yet more.

There is a long research road to hoe before this basic insight will be absorbed by the academy, by economists, by professors and their students, by legislators and those interested in wealth (investors and bankers), but the preliminary evidence is very, very big.

It is amazing how learned we can be yet how ignorant at the same time.  No wonder economics is the “dismal science” when it leaves out 50% of its field, all because it leaves out the gift of love in its most basic form: married family life.

Pat Fagan

Culture and The Success Sequence

family, marriage, society, success sequence No comments

Culture and the child are interdependent. Another significant recent report by Professor Brad Wilcox of the University of Virginia makes the case, yet again, in a study for the American Enterprise Institute.  Both the parents and the child benefit if the child is born after the parents get married.

“Even millennials from low-income families are more likely to flourish if they married before having children: 71 percent who married before having children made it into the middle or higher end of the income distribution by the time they are age 28–34. By comparison, only 41 percent of millennials from lower-income families who had children first made it into the middle or higher end of the distribution when they reached ages 28–34.”

But seeing that the overall culture and cohesion of the US has significantly decreased, where do young folk go to imbibe the culture that guides them on these paths of human flourishing?  They need to find local mini-cultures, communities where the traditional elements of strong cultures are present and strong: married families, children, worship and prayer, all tied to happiness, neighborliness and mutual support.

And where will they find those local mini-cultures?  My grand-daughter and her mother were at a nearby parish for a soccer game and found the families there to be fun and involved and both hoped that some friendships might be nurtured.  However, they also found those local families to be so engrossed in each other they were not concerned to invite others in.  But behind the “exclusion” was the presence of a strength: local families taking intense care of each other.

In this mini-community, my daughter witnessed what the early Christians were known for: “See how they love one another!”  Local communities like that are needed to help those lost but looking.  It is important that those in such solid communities spot and welcome those who are seeking to join. (By the way, my granddaughter is doing fine: she has plenty of friends and her family is a member of a vibrant parish).

Our culture will be rebuilt one house of worship at a time.  By feeding the universal and fundamental need-to-belong, even financial benefits gradually accrue. The success sequence for millennials (one could say the sexual success sequence) is much the same as it has been for generations.

The Source and Power of Human Capital

family, family structure, human capital, marriage, religion 1 comment

Human Capital drives material and financial capital, across all the economies of the world.  That is why Harvard ranks so high: it “puts the best finishing touches” to the highest human capital it can lay its hands on (young people with high scores – who tend to come from good families) so their graduates can make the most of the future material and financial resources at their disposal.

 

But what is the source of human capital?   In three words: great long-term relationships.

 

The most fundamental of all relationships is that between our parents.  Nothing shapes the person as does his parents’ marriage (or lack of it).  Asian Americans have the most enduring marriages — and the highest achieving children in the US.

 

Some would contend — from the data — that one’s relationship with God is even more powerful and fundamental.

 

But really the question is: “Which comes first: the chicken or the egg?”

 

In the strongest families both relationships are present and the longer they are present the better the result – in all that the sciences measure.

 

The closer these relationships are, the stronger they are.  Close relationships, with God, spouse or children, demand care and nurturance. Ask any husband.  Ask any wife.

 

This is love – not romantic love, but enduring love.

 

The source of human capital is love: love of God and love of one’s closest neighbors: spouse and children.

 

The more generations these relationships have been in place the deeper and stronger the human capital.

 

That is what makes for Harvards, and economies and civilizations.  Love.

 

Thus, Africa is a growing civilization (religious practice is growing fast) while Europe and the US are diminishing civilizations.   The first is growing love more.  The latter are depleting love continuously.

 

Fifty to a hundred years from now the great migrations will be into Africa not out of it.

Rise of the “Nones” is a Disaster for Human Capital and Education Achievement

nones, religion, society 2 comments

The media tends to report the rise of ‘nones’ as if it were a neutral development, a phenomenon far from the case.

According to Pew Research Center (May 2015): ‘ Religious “nones” – a shorthand we use to refer to people who self-identify as atheists or agnostics, as well as those who say their religion is “nothing in particular” – now make up roughly 23% of the U.S. adult population. This is a stark increase from 2007, the last time a similar Pew Research study was conducted, when 16% of Americans were “nones.”’

Were analogous depletions happening to the financial and economic systems, all sorts of alarm bells would be sounding.

However from what we have learned again and again about the positive benefits of religious worship on adults and children this rise portends (and the adjective is deliberate) massive costs over the coming decades.  Health and longevity will be harmed (even as applied biology gives more benefits), the educational attainment of adults and children will be less than their religious peers, family fracturing will increase, addictions will increase and crime will increase.  These are all the natural consequences of the absence of a necessary human good.  Just as calcium is needed for strong bones religious practice is needed for good citizens.  The monetary costs of extra burdens will be enormous.

George Washington summed up the importance of religion to the new nation with particular eloquence in his Farewell Address:

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness — these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked, ‘Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice?’ And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

Truer words were never spoken about modern America. And what a source!

Cycles of Civilization

marriage, Rabbi Sacks, religion No comments

My blog today is the reproduction of part of a speech given by Rabbi Jonathan Saks in July this year.

Jonathan Henry Sacks, winner of the Templeton Prize in 2016, was the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the British Commonwealth from 1991-2013, and as such was a member of the House of Lords. He is now the Distinguished Professor of Judaic Thought at New York University and the Professor of Jewish Thought at Yeshiva University, and the Professor of Law, Ethics and the Bible at King’s College London.  I heard him speak at the Humanum Conference at the Vatican in 2014.  Here is an excerpt from his recent New York speech:

 —- We are entering one of the world’s great ages of desecularization and it is the rise of non-Western cultures that will shape the 21st century.

 

The end result is — as Rabbi Soloveitchik and Alasdair MacIntyre and others warned us decades ago — that if you lose religion from the mainstream of society, you will lose the sanctity of marriage.

 

You will lose the bond of community and you will lose the social covenant that says e pluribus unum: we’re all in this together.

 

One thing is clear.

 

Religion is not about to die.

 

The religious have bigger families and stronger communities.

 

They’re going to grow in numbers and confidence in the course of the 21st century.

 

But the secular West is in real trouble.

 

It’s re-enacting a scenario played out many times in the course of history, in Athens and Rome in antiquity, and Renaissance Italy.

 

The same thing happens each time.

 

A culture or civilization at the very height of its affluence and its creativity finds that people are becoming more individualistic. They become more hedonist. They become more skeptical of religious beliefs, and that causes a loss of social cohesion, social energy and social ideals.

 

No one said it better than a great American historian, Will Durant. As a young man he wanted to be a priest but actually became an atheist[1]. So listen to what this atheist says — and it’s unbelievably powerful. After his huge study of the story of civilization, he says:

 

“What happens at a certain point in history is that the intellectual classes abandon the ancient theology and, after some hesitation, the moral code allied with it. Literature and philosophy become anti-clerical. The movement of liberation rises to an exuberant worship of reason and falls to a paralyzing disillusionment with every dogma and every idea. Conduct deprived of its religious support deteriorates into epicurean chaos and life itself shorn of consoling faith becomes a burden alike to conscious poverty and to weary wealth. In the end, a society and its religion tend to fall together like body and soul in a harmonious death. Meanwhile, among the oppressed, another myth arises and gives new form to human hope, new courage to human effort and, after centuries of chaos, builds another civilization.”

 

You can view the whole speech at http://rabbisacks.org/cultural-climate-change/ . This excerpt begins at minute 46.

With an eye to the child – the future of us all.

Pat Fagan

 

[1]Fagan insert:   But in his last days Durant  received the last sacraments of the Catholic Church.:  see New York Times : http://www.nytimes.com/1985/12/08/nyregion/new-jersey-opinion-the-rise-and-fall-and-rise-again-of-willdurant-truth-seeker.html?mcubz=1