How Society Works

How Society Works

Every Society Begins with Sex

children, culture, divorce, family, MARRI, marriage, religion No comments

If you want to collapse a society burrow down to the sexual and begin the disintegration there. During the 1950’s and 1960’s the Frankfurt School was gradually gaining the insights that would permit this deconstruction (especially in the work of Shulamith Firestone and Kate Millett). This resulted in what can only be described as a diabolical agenda, nowhere made more explicit than in the opening ”litany” of the weekly meetings of the founders of the National Organization of Women. Their bottom line: separate the man, the father, from the family. It took them two generations (50 years), but they have succeeded: 54% of children by age 17 are without their father in their home.

At much the same time another revolution, this time a good one, was going on at the University of Krakow in Poland, where a young professor of philosophy, Karol Wojtyla was building the insights that eventually resulted in the “Theology of the Body”, and along the way was the major contributor to Pope Paul VI’s encyclical “Humanae Vitae,” laying out the positive path forward as well as prophesying the destruction inherent in the use of contraception.

Though many fathers prevail in marriage, “the pill” has gradually undermined their position in the family, especially as their children mature into active sexual beings. Mark Regnerus’s study, Cheap Sex, summarized in his recent WSJ op-ed, delineates the profound interior moral change in men but also in women, each paying its different half of the price-tag.

In the 1960s we began to perfect the separation of children from sex. This caused great debate across religions and across the globe. Some religious leaders and philosophers disagree with the separation unworn of the evil consequences. But everywhere there was either capitulation or deep divide. Most religions and religious leaders selected capitulation. The most notable holdout though by no means the only holdout, is the official teaching of the Catholic Church. However even there teaching the audible word is never to be heard. All seem to be struck dumb. There are two sacramental vocations in Christianity: the priesthood and marriage. As the second is gutted, the first looks on silently. Though the Little Sisters of the Poor stood up against the brilliant Frankfurt School President Obama, the local parish priest cannot stand up against those in his flock who disagree with the Church, and insist on their “new moral theology” that fuses the reception of Christ into their body in the Eucharist, even as they use that same body of theirs to say “non serviam” to their vocation (their calling from the same God) to be life-givers.

So, the Marxist-Feminist revolution and the life affirming counter-revolution are in a fight to the death for the family, for marriage, for children and for fatherhood.

As long as the sexual intercourse of male and female separates its two key components — mutual orgasmic pleasure of the highest kind in creation (the unitive aspect of sexual intercourse)—from the potential generation of new life (the generative aspect of sexual intercourse that gives mankind the future, the child)—the sidelining of the average male is guaranteed.

The resulting downward slide into a chaos demands holding society together through deep-state anomic regulation, which gradually displaces, then banishes the humanity of the normal health-giving caress of a morally integrated culture, the universal mode of social cohesion of all peoples and civilizations throughout history. Instead we have increasingly the broken family, the broken child, the broken heart, the broken society — all achieved by separating the father from his children. The crowning insult to it all: “patriarchy” (by Marxist-feminist definition, that form of the family where the father is present), is now a forbidden word in the public, politically correct, lexicon.

Consider, however, Rene Girard’s crowning achievement, the lecture, “How does Satan cast out Satan?” (I don’t think I have ever listened to any other lecture more than twice but this I listened to over fifty times — it is so densely rich in insights). Bishop Robert Barron thinks Girard will eventually be a Father (not a Doctor) of the Church. Girard describes Christ’s mission as leading all of humanity back to God the Father, but Satan — his ever-present competitor throughout the Gospels— in darkest envy, works always to become the new “Father” who displaces the Eternal Father: “that Father from Whom all fatherhood takes its title and derives its name.” What a crowning achievement for him that today even good folk today are afraid to use the word “patriarch”.

It is time to make the title of patriarch a great vision for young men: That they grow old with their married children around them and their grandchildren happy in the marriages of their parents. That is the normal vocation of every man and woman.

A couple of weeks ago we returned after a hiatus of five or six weeks and I promised an explanation. Steeped in the sociological and demographic data on marriage, family and children I was overwhelmed by the disastrous picture which had been unfolding before me for years and felt the need to figure a way forward out of the mess deliberately created by people bent on the destruction of the family and of religion.

As already stated, the most disastrous of all developments in millennia has been the joining of cultural Marxism (the Frankfurt school and the Gramsci school of thought) with modern feminist (the National Organization of Women and the many allied organizations it has given birth to).

They have been so successful that today their allies even include CEOs of even the biggest corporations in the world: Google, Facebook, Warren Buffett, Bill and Melinda Gates. They all contribute massively to movements and programs that dismantle families and marriages (some maybe unwittingly – I think especially of the Gates and the Zukerbergs). Together these movements (cultural Marxism and feminism) quickly gained toeholds that were expanded into dominance in certain schools in Columbia University and the State Department and expanded out from there to gain the control they now have many institutions PARTICULARLY those involved in culturally shaping relationships between people (schools, law schools, judiciaries, journalism schools and major media). These are stark realities, but they fulfil the collapse from within, that Lenin demanded of the Frankfurt school. This is the reality we live in today.

So, what is to be done in this situation? Simple: Go on offense, but quietly, for the opposition is powerful and vindictive. But reality is on the side of patriarchy (again, that form of the family where the father is present, the intact family).

The movements and institutions mentioned are flying in the face of the data, and contradicting universal, observable, realities. The two great loves — of God and neighbor — make the environment in which man has always thrived. In their absence (broken and unformed marriage and falling rates of worship of God) man wilts and breaks down.

The antidotes are myriad but the task is as simple as its animating principle: Grow the good! Grow the wheat, forget about pulling up the weeds. First shore up and give confidence to those who are on the right track: Married fathers (present patriarchs) –who cannot exist without married mothers— then pastors, teachers and doctors. Simultaneously bring back the broken… the constant cry of Pope Francis. These souls know the reality of the suffering caused by the breakdown of marriage and the abandonment of prayer and worship. But many of them feel ashamed, as the recent work of Brad Wilcox and Andrew Cherlin of Johns Hopkins University is making clear. But such marginalized people have always been fertile ground for revolutions (for good or evil).

Just as men were targeted by these movements, so too men will be significant leaders in rebuilding the good, particularly leading in rebuilding the traditional family, the intact married family, the patriarchal family. Patriarch is a good term…! Abraham was a patriarch. The ultimate patriarch is God the Father, from whom all fatherhood flows. On earth, the patriarchal family is the safest place for women and for children. This is the very opposite to what feminist claim. It is also the place where women and children thrive most — and men also. It is the place of the greatest educational output, the greatest financial output, the greatest contribution to the common good, the greatest likelihood to worship God, and the least troublesome to government, while it is the greatest contributor to the tax base of the whole country. It is that form of the family which most deserves to be protected, preserved and promulgated.

More anon.

For the good of the child, the future of society,

Pat Fagan

Fathers Raising Sons to be Good Fathers

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Fathers give the gift of existence when their sperm penetrates the mother’s egg. While the mother begins nurturing her child immediately, whether the father does so depends on the couple’s “mode of living” up to that point: their own family-of-origin culture and beliefs, moral norms, and their guiding insights and beliefs on life, sexuality, family, the complementarity of the sexes and on marriage.

Let us jump forward fourteen years from this moment, when the baby has just come into existence to the time he has reached puberty and is now biologically capable of becoming a father. His father began to prepare him on matters sexual four years earlier when they had “the talk” introducing him to sex — a task the father denies to anyone else, for that is his and his alone —so that his boy knows how much he owes his existence to his father, and how and why.

Even though he was trained to honor the privacy of his mother and sister — “the talk” began the development of “awe” of females, the father made sure that his mother had her “talk” with him a few weeks ago— to introduce him to the wonders and changes of the female body once the egg accepts the sperm. Having this taught him by his mother changed his idea of girls forever.

His father then began to form his capacity for future marriage: to be an affirmer, a protector and a provider. He had earlier started the formation of affirmation of the women in his life: his mother, and especially his sisters. Now he begins to tutor him in observing and listening carefully so that he gets to know more about who the young women he meets at school and at play and to understand them as much as they permit him to. He teaches him how to be a recognizer of inner beauty. He tutors him in how to listen and how to evaluate — with kindness and understanding when facets become obvious that are not so beautiful or good. He reminds him constantly that every woman is to be honored. By teaching him how to affirm women his father is developing his criteria for selecting a wife.

Having protected him from pornography many years ago — another talk — the boy is used to battling internally with sexual temptation that images that arouse lust (making of a woman an object to be used). The boy has seen its effects on some of his classmates and how their attitude to girls changed mightily. He makes sure his sisters never associate with them. This all led him to a shocking conclusion — that in the adult world he is entering males can be quite predatory.

His father told him how he won this internal battle and still has to win it constantly (how to wipe images away from the mind immediately; what happens when a man does not and how to recover).

But his father also taught him that women too can grow dragons within —slayers of the innocent— and that he had to learn to differentiate between the young women he meets so that he could avoid the trap of a “slayer” in disguise. His son thought this a bit harsh but his father insisted that clear understanding is necessary if he is to be savvy on selecting a wife.

He further instructed him that forgiveness is possible and he tutored him in the need for it — even of the best woman in the world (the one he hoped his son would select) — for her faults and failings will emerge as his future marriage progresses out of the intense romance stage to the long phase of working close together in raising their own children. He will need a wife who will forgive him for his faults too.

He gently advised his son:

“Son, when you are ready we can talk about what your major weaknesses are likely to be so that you will be readier to ask your wife’s forgiveness.”

“When your girlfriend questions you — if she questions you — about your sexual restraint and how you pulled it off — tell her the truth – most of it comes from you and I being close – close enough to have had these conversations over the years. Most young men don’t have that experience so they don’t have the “strength of their father in this area”. You do! It is my gift to you — and to her —– and to your children — my grandchildren.”

“Find the girl who is as close to her mother and father as you are to me and your mother.”

“Choosing who will be your wife and the mother of your children is the most important decision of your life…it will shape the rest of your existence as nothing else will… except your relationship with God. But you know that already even though you are still early in learning about your relationship with Him. There is no severing the connection between sex, egg and sperm, new life and existence and God. Well there is severing but it is disastrous. Just look around and look at the data.”

“Though my guidance is always there for you it is even better that you learn the silence in your heart that is necessary to have conversations with Him so that you get His guidance instead. That will be your strength: Inner certainty arising from inner silence. Without that silence the only voice you hear will be your own —- a bad advisor compared with YOU AND HIM together. That is where I get my deepest affirmation.”

“The other capacity you need to have — being a provider—in some ways it is the easiest part, in others it is the toughest because of the long hours of work. But you have learned to study hard so you already know how to work hard. For hard workers there are loads of job opportunities. But you must learn to save from your very first paycheck… If you can learn to live on 90% of your take-home pay you are doing well. Better still if you learn to do it on 80%… you will never have to worry about money if you learn to live below your means… and you won’t be tempted by money if you do.”

“This will also give you time for conversation in the family that other families will not have. Money and time are interchangeable. As we conquer material nature we seem to have less time — so become rich enough to have the time you need to have many conversations in the family. Protect your wife and children by keeping out the robbers of time – of conversation – of affirmation and understanding of each other.”

“Figure out first what you want: more money or more time. And choose a wife accordingly. If you choose time your children

will thank you. If you choose money they may curse you. They definitely will wish you had chosen time.”

“If you are an Affirmer and a Protector being a Provider comes naturally.”

In turn his son will respond: “But father so few of my friends have families like this!”

How true—that is the great task that confronts the world.

How to change the environment so that every child has such a habitat (a home). Solve this problem and all the others fall in place easily. Solve the other problems first and we will destroy what is left of the environment.

It is time for men to lead where only they can… in being fathers to the full.

A Return to Patriarchy?  

children, culture, family, fathers, intact family, men No comments

“Patriarchy” has become a” dirty word” because of Marxist Feminist political correctness. If one searches for what is meant by patriarchy (or what is included in their definition of patriarch) is the intact married biological family. Marriage is seen as patriarchy! And that has become an evil to be banished. We live in insane times — literally, not metaphorically speaking.

The fullest relationship between male and female occurs in marriage. When they engage in sexual intercourse (at minimum an action at the bodily level) they have the capacity, frequently, to generate the fruit of this physical relationship: a new human being —( the one-celled zygote the first stage of all of the developing human being they have just brought into existence).

This new being is hypersensitive to the relationship between itself and its mother. This latter relationship is more intimate at the physical level than any other physical relationship in human experience.

For nine months the new being grows in harmony with his mother’s body, and its mother’s body adapts to nurture and develop the new human being within her. Once the new human being exits the womb its first experience of external reality normally is (and always ought to be) the warm embrace and the affection, now external to the womb, of the same mother. Thus the mother in those first moments welcomes her new child into the external world of human reality be first letting it experience its first external human relationship as warm, loving, welcoming and nurturing .

By bonding fast and deep and accepting and enveloping it in love and affection way, the new human being feels affirmed warmly in its new external existence. This welcoming by the mother is the most profound experience of its life because it is the first experience of the reality it will inhabit for the rest of its life in this external world. One could say that nothing is more important for this new being than that the mother be prepared and ready to accept and envelop in affection and love and nurturance, her new child so that, right from the beginning, she reassures her child that it is loved, because she knows it is made to be loved, just as she experiencing now for the first time in a most profound way, she also is made to love (as well is to be loved as deeply as this).

This exchange of deepest loves between her and her new baby will be made most possible for her by the loving attention and care of her by her husband at these moments — assuring her by his silent, attentive presence, of his personal dedication to her and their child, even as she totally attends to that child’s needs in those first moments and hours. Her deepest needs being met at this most existential of moments in her life — are made possible by a husband, who at this time has no thoughts whatever of his needs but is fully consumed by his wife’s and his baby’s needs. His reason for existing right then is to sacrifice anything and everything for the needs of these two beings who are his family, even if their existence were to demand his sacrificing his life. All men would expect that of him (even as they wish it did not have to be so at all).

Thus, the human family is a family of deepest relational needs — fulfilled by each other for each other.

In these first moments of the new family a child is affirmed by the mother through her love, care, nursing, affection and attention. At the same time the mother experiences an affirmation of her motherhood in the satisfied response of her child to her care and nurturing. At that moment she is affirmed in her femaleness in a way she has never experienced before in her life. She feels fulfilled in her existence. That feeling of fulfillment is made possible by her having a nurturing environment around her and that environment is her loving, protecting, caring husband.

The process began with the father’s sperm travelling up to her egg – and that first stage ends with the father standing to the side loving, caring, and protecting the two — his spouse and his child. Thus, it is one of the most evil projects on earth, to pry the father apart from the mother of his child and from his child. This is a crime against father mother and child. This is a crime against the human race.

If culture is a tapestry of affirmations of the different relationships that make us human society, of relationships that can be ranked in importance and centrality, then those relationships that begin new life, the next generation of that society and culture, are the most to be treasured and protected.

That protection falls most to the father because his spouse is engaged in the intense around-the-clock nurturance of the new fetus or new child. This protection begins even before they become a family. As he selects his future spouse and as she selects him, though it is not foremost in his mind, it is deepest in his obligations even as he forms and nurtures from potentiality to reality, the relationship between him and his future, hoped-for, spouse. He protects her and their future children, by protecting all of them from those who would pry him from his spouse and his children: those enemies of the family who are set against patriarchy, for patriarchy, as used by these enemies of the family, means the married father with his spouse and his children. To these enemies every married father is a patriarch, is the one to be pried apart from his family.

If the destruction of patriarchy was the strategy of destroying society then the rebuilding of patriarchy is the strategy of rebuilding a family-centered culture.

In such a culture the woman is admired and honored especially for her motherhood.   The man who wants to “have a woman in his life” is also bringing a child into his life, for woman is most made woman in that moment of childbirth, and a man is most man at the same moment: selflessly dedicated to a project of the common good.

All human beings are made male or female for purposes of reproduction – for the purpose of the child, the next generation.   But within these very complementary differences is a common humanity. Humanity’s most common need is to belong or be understood. These are not synonyms in language but they are synonyms in human experience. We belong where we are understood and to whom we belong we most want to be understood. To be understood is the greatest form of affirmation. Thus male and female, husband and wife are most affirmed by each other when they are understood by the other.

But affirming does not come naturally to either male or female: it is an acquired disposition, skill and habit. But it is foundational to the couple and is the essence of culture. And children need their parents to be affirmers of each other.

The wife who has a man who understands her, who provides for her and protects her when she needs it is a well-fulfilled (not perfectly fulfilled but well fulfilled) woman. She will let him know her fears, and he will protect her.

Married women took to contraception because it alleviated one of life’s “dangers”: the “loss of self” in raising many children. However, there is a vast literature (and we at MARRI likely have the biggest collection of findings from that literature) now illustrating the dangers of contraceptives for many women. Frequently, one or more of her bodily functions and systems breaks down under a medication designed to suppress a woman’s fullness of female bodily maturity. A significant number of biological systems are in danger of severe injury and trauma, occasionally life threatening.

A protector husband would not want his wife to be subject to those dangers or suffer the frequent-enough consequences of using them. However, it is clear from the natural family planning research literature, that not many men have enough sexual self-control to abstain from sexual relations during the fertile days of his wife’s fertility cycle. Thus, if she does not use the pill he is a danger to her when she does not want to conceive. She then views her husband, not a protector, but as a big danger.

Thus, if a couple are to use natural family planning the husband has to be trusted by his wife, and known by his wife to be a man quite capable of the required level of sexual self-control that is necessary if natural family planning — working in total harmony with the woman’s biological systems — is to be the method by which couples choose whether to bring their next child into existence at this time in their marriage, or not.

What if their husbands were not only to be trusted but — at one and the same time and by the same level of necessary self-control — were to be the great lovers every woman wishes her man could be. That would quickly change the attitude of many women towards the pill. Both capacities: to abstain and to pleasure well are based on the capacity for self-control. The chaste man has that control in spades. Most modern men do not.

This sort of male is the one who is needed if we are to have a culture-building sexual counter-revolution. This time it must be the men who lead.

Affirmers, providers and protectors of women —men who provide for their wives and children, understand them deeply in a way no one else ever has, which gift of understanding yields the companion gift of unity between them, and to have such sexual self-control they have children when they want to and avoid conception when they are not ready for another child together; and lastly, she has greater sexual satisfaction that most women only dream of (and eventually forget about as unattainable from men).[1]

To achieve this quality a man must learn:

  • To communicate well (to listen deeply so as to understand well, and thus affirm where affiration is most needed);
  • To provide sufficiently (get enough education to work at the job he is prepared to do to bring in the income his wife will be happy with);
  • Become a man of sexual self-control so that the pill is not a temptation for either of them and his capacity to satisfy his wife is what both dream of.

If the culture is to be restored we must learn how to grow men like this.

Most ordinary fathers ensure their sons are capable of being providers. However, on the other two necessary capacities (the capacity to understand and affirm; and the capacity for sexual self-control at the level discussed above) most ordinary fathers do not develop these capacities in their sons, or even broach the topics with them. Thus, it behooves men to begin this change in capacity-development as soon as possible.

The most fundamental skill needed to achieve all three is the first: the capacity and skill to communicate a deep understanding of the other person (and of oneself). This is the key skill to everything else. And this capacity is quite developable!

Men skilled in communicating and affirming can mentor other men in acquiring the same capacities. Overtime a cascading network of mentoring men can have huge effects.

Women will notice the difference. Such men will be so valuable to them and the need for contraception will dissipate.

Science and Faith

Hawking, science 1 comment

Though Stephen Hawking made wonderful contributions to humankind and is rightfully lauded across the globe, scant attention has been paid to the harm he has done to belief in God, probably influencing many to drift further away from Him.  Some will not call that harm; many might even call it a contribution. However, both Dr. Hawking and those who agree with him are not paying attention to the data of a different branch of the sciences: the human sciences.  If he had, he would have found that the more people worship the more they thrive.

All who talk about God agree that He is not observable and therefore not measurable. By this alone everyone must admit that discussion of God lies outside the realm of science, and of mathematics.

However, social scientists can observe humans worshiping God and can measure the effects of this behavior. Thus, the social sciences, though they do not study God, can study human beings in their relationship with God.  It is here that Stephen Hawking’s contention that God does not exist runs into scientific trouble.

If God does not exist, paying lots of attention to him would be a waste, while not paying attention to Him would be a good.  However, in observing and measuring people’s behavior towards God — not their beliefs but their behavior — more worship is linked to better and better outcomes on all the major tasks of life: education, happiness, enjoyment of life, family relationships, marriage, child-raising, longer life, and greater sexual enjoyment. Less worship leads in the opposite direction.

For the atheist and many scientists these facts cause discomfort if not downright confusion, but if they are true scientists, they will explore the facts with curiosity so that they may better understand.  Scientists do not set out to attack or suppress facts but to understand them. ‘Contrary data’ is the lifeblood of growth in the sciences, human or material, and thus the data on religious behavior are ‘contrary data’, especially in our ‘scientific age’  and thus ought to be of keen interest.

Hawking’s observations about matter led him, and he in turn led many, to a deeper understanding of the beginnings of the universe. Going backwards in time, his phenomenal intellect and imagination made possible the formulation of the physics of the first moments of the universe. This astounding achievement places him in the pantheons of science for all time. However, it is clear he either could not, or willfully would not, step outside the canons of material sciences and admit that his formulation of the beginning of time must have had a preceding cause, and ultimately a first uncaused cause. But his spirit could not go there.  While it is legitimate and true to say that material sciences (including mathematics) cannot go there — they cannot — it is not legitimate to use one’s standing in these sciences, and particularly one’s standing in science on the beginnings of the universe, to go outside the sciences and pontificate about God. That is the great harm Stephen Hawking has done.

In stepping outside of material sciences and mathematics he stepped into philosophy– even as he contended that philosophy was dead– and his philosophical efforts were not reasoning at all but willful insistence.

Thus, in two sciences Dr. Hawking failed: in the human sciences and in philosophy.  The human sciences he avoided and philosophy he bastardized.  Both sciences point towards God.  Hawking could have remained an atheist, even a public atheist, without abusing the physical sciences by bringing them into a field they cannot enter because God is neither observable nor measurable.  Given his stature he has misled many people, both lesser intellects in the academy and millions of ordinary folk around the world. What a pity in a man of such wonderful accomplishments of mind and human spirit, but what irony that he be buried — with many sinners and a few saints — in Westminster Abbey, England’s great homage in stone to God, next to one of his peers, Isaac Newton, whose chair he held, who knew the difference and who believed deeply in God.

With an eye to the young adult, the future of the world,

Pat Fagan

Income Mobility

community, crime, divorce, economic well-being, environment, family structure, income, Income mobility 1 comment

Income mobility has been in the public discourse of late and is informed by some of the best scholarship ever done.  However, even the best sometimes need a bit more: this time, attention to self-sacrificing love and dedication.

Income mobility, the movement of an individual or family into a different income quintile, is not always upwards.  For every new entrant “from below” into any of the upper quintiles, another who used to occupy that slot is bumped down.  There will always be equal proportions of people in each quintile and there will always be a bottom quintile.

The best recent work on income mobility has been done by Raj Chetty, formerly of Harvard and now at Stanford, and his formidable intervarsity team of analysts. They report that, on average, about 10% of the bottom quintile (about 1/50th of our population) move up into the top quintile by age 26.  For them, this is a phenomenal achievement.

Chetty finds, when looking at 26 year-olds, that about 26% of the top quintile is made up of young folk from the bottom two quintiles.  Interestingly, when looking at 30-year-olds, that proportion from the bottom quintile shrinks to about 22% as those who studied longer for graduate degrees or advanced skills enter the top quintile.  (Those pushed out would end up in the fourth quintile — still quite desirable.)

Our real concern is not who gets displaced from the top, or even what happens in the middle, but what happens at the bottom, especially what happens to children at the bottom of the bottom:  the bottom 2 percent.  This bottom fiftieth is  defined by the neighborhood they are condemned, by budget, to live in.  From many studies we know they likely live in a disordered neighborhood with frequent crime, violence, abuse and low-quality schools.  The family structure that yields the disorder of the neighborhood  is the absence of marriage: the unmarried single mother, the absent father and the live-in boyfriend, who is often not the first, nor the last  The social disorder characteristic of these neighborhoods has its deepest roots in the multigenerational disorder of the mother/father relationship, leading to early out of wedlock births as teens imitate what they see.

Chetty et al., based on the evidence, recommend voucher assistance to help those who want to move to better neighborhoods to avoid the bad example around them.  But from among families who stay stuck, it is the children with imagination and grit who make it out.  Their ambition is likely kindled by a parent, relative, teacher, coach,  pastor, a volunteer from  Big Brothers or Big Sisters, but almost always by someone who sacrifices, if not their whole life (as many poor parents do) at least a portion of their time to help that child make it to the next step.  Their gift of time and attention enables motivates the effort to move. This form of love makes the difference: not the puppy love of romance but the tough love of sacrifice.  This is essential to Christianity. Though this self-sacrificing love is not confined to Christians, it has shined there the most.

Dagger John” Hughes, an Irish immigrant who started off as a garden-laborer in Pennsylvania and ended up as Archbishop of New York in the 1850’s, was dedicated to the lowest of the low at that time: the Irish poor who inhabited Lower Manhattan.  By the 1880’s the New York Times would refer to them as the “straight-laced” Irish.  They had become the policemen, teachers, and nurses of New York City.  Hughes pulled off this mobility miracle by attracting hundreds of celibate helpers (religious orders) who gave their lives to helping these poor Irish.  In modern history many Christian leaders have inspired thousands to dedicate  themselves to the poor of big cities:  Catherine and William Booth (Salvation Army, London); Frederic Ozanam (Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Paris) and of course, Mother Theresa of Calcutta.

While Raj Chetty’s work shows that helping the poor move to better neighborhoods helps them climb upwards, those stuck at the bottom of the bottom will need something more: the sort of help that demands sacrifice and committed relationship, the kind that Booth, Ozanam, and Mother Theresa all gave.

This form of love is beyond policy.  For income and vouchers, one can go to government, but not for self-sacrificing love.

We need this “idea correction” — better labeled an “idea addition” — to help those at the very bottom.  They need one-on-one self-sacrificing dedication from those prepared to give it.   Without that the bottom of the bottom will stay stuck, but with it we have a very different America, one we all will like a lot more.

 

With an eye to the child, the future of America,

Pat Fagan, Ph.D.
Director of the MARRI Project
Catholic University of America

Pornography

abstinence, adolescent sexuality, child well-being, children, community, culture, D.C., elections, family, fathers, pornography, Technology, youth 1 comment

Recently, for a talk in Chicago to parents of high school boys, I had to update my knowledge based on a 2009 review of the effects of pornography. On this issue the world has changed a lot in less than ten years: the use of pornography has escalated and the effects are alarming.

The most telling effect, I think, is the epidemic of erectile dysfunction (ED) among men.  For all of human history this was mainly an older man’s problem.  As recently as 2002 the rate of ED for men aged 40–80 was about 13% in Europe. By 2011 rates reached 28% for men aged 18–40. As reported above, a 2014 cross-sectional study of active duty, relatively healthy, 21–40 old males in the US military, found that one third (33.2%) suffered from ED.

Unaware of these changes, for the last year or so I had thought that the drop in high school students’ rate of sexual intercourse was good news and that, since 2007, abstinence ideas were winning, but given the above data, all of the causes may not be good news. Increased pornography use among teenage boys, resulting in decreased interest in girls, may be the cause. This also serves to put in context a disturbing experience I had a few weeks ago while driving through a wealthy Washington D.C. suburb during rush hour: I noticed (as must several other drivers waiting for the traffic lights to change) a 12-year-old moving along the sidewalk, intently looking at his smartphone in one hand while his other hand was engaged in self-abuse.  I had not yet reviewed the new research on the prevalence of pornography viewing and was quite taken aback.  No longer.  At age 12 he was already so addicted to porn and had no shame.  The average age of a boy’s first viewing of pornography has dropped to 10 years of age. Fathers be aware.

75 percent of porn-watching is done on smart phones.  25 percent of all internet searches are for pornography.  Tablets and computers make up the rest, computers being the smallest percentage. The average length of stay on a porn site is about 10 minutes. 70 percent of US college students watch porn — alone, with others, or in couples.  45 percent of women now accept it in their relationships.  10 percent of women refuse to view it themselves but accept it in their husbands or partners.

A decade ago women viewed pornography at about one sixth the rate of men.  Today, depending on the country, it varies from only one third the rate of men (US) to one half (the Philippines and Brazil).

Estimates of production range up to 4.2 million websites (12 percent of the total sites worldwide) with 420 million web pages. Every single day, worldwide, there are more than 68 million search engine requests for pornography (which is 25 percent of all search requests).

What are the negative effects for those who become habituated and especially for those who become addicted?  Changes in brain size (diminished); the younger boys start the greater the effects on their brain, and the more difficult to overcome the addiction; men see women as sex objects not as persons, have greater interest in pornography than in the company of women or girlfriends; they suffer increasingly from erectile dysfunction, become more aggressive in their relationships with spouses or partners, are more likely to believe the ‘rape myth’ (that women enjoy being sexually abused), and progress to more and more deviant pornography to attain sexual arousal, leading in turn to greater sexual deviancy;  teenagers will be more likely to engage in same-sex sexual activities. It is no wonder that American young adults and college students are less and less interested in marriage and may be on the way towards the “Japanese disease” of widespread withdrawal from interest in sexual matters among 30-year-olds.

This is a calamity of monumental proportions.  Combined with contraception and abortion, we now have a ‘society-collapsing’ conception and practice of human sexuality.

Given the borderless nature of the internet, pornography is difficult to control.  However, there is not a nation on earth for whom its effects are not massively deleterious.  This is one public health hazard on which the governments of the world should cooperate.  Without that cooperation it cannot be stamped out. And, given the rate at which porn movies are made, the industry would have to be a major source of the sexual exploitation of women, with probable links to sex-trafficking.

In the meantime, savvy parents — and even savvy teenagers — will switch to dumb phones.  Giving a teenage boy a smart phone is installing a porn-shop in his pocket… and a very alluring shop it is too: cheap (free) porn, immediately available, and anonymous. In ten minutes a teenage boy can see more and more beautiful undressed women than the greatest sultan harem-owner in history ever saw in a lifetime. Who could resist?  Not many.

One father, a friend of mine who took great care in introducing his boys into a gradual and full understanding of male sexuality and its foundational role in marriage, came up with a savvy way of helping his boys avoid pornography:  He told them that, if any boy at their school showed porn to them on a smartphone, they had his full permission to grab the phone, smash it on the ground, stomp it into bits, and then tell that classmate to have their father call his father. One can imagine their glee but, so far, they have not had the joy of following through.  Their school now forbids smartphones during school hours on school property.  Maybe the practice will spread. ‘Dumb phones’ work fine for communicating with parents, family, and friends. The world is different when dumb is smart!

Parenting

caring, child well-being, children, family, Uncategorized No comments

Recently, I led a group of young parents in a case study designed to teach them how to handle a three-year-old when he is throwing a temper tantrum.  The parents in the case study were dealing with their first child and made several typical mistakes: one parent spanked in anger and one parent denigrated the other in front of the child.

We dissected the case: what happened, what went wrong, what they needed to do in the future, and how to get there.  Towards the end of the session we gained a bird’s eye view when someone pointed out that the underlying issue was one of trust.  The whole episode came alive again with new energy as we analyzed the case from that perspective.

The case parents were trying to form a habit of restraint in their child so that they could trust him to practice restraint in the future.  When he demonstrates that he can restrain himself their trust in him will grow.  If he does not learn restraint, however, they will trust him less.

Ironically, to achieve this level of formation in their child, they need to be able to trust each other to “do the right thing” when disciplining their child.  Though they agree on what Johnny needs to do they do not yet agree on what each of them needs to do. In this situation they cannot trust each other yet.

This problem will be solved when they can agree: “You can rely on me to do this in this situation.  And I can rely on you to do that in this same situation.”  When they can both look each other in the eye and each say this to each other the ground beneath them has shifted. Not only has trust been restored, but the foundation of their marriage has grown and they have learned how to deepen it.  When they have solved a string of problems in this way they are well on their way to being great parents and a great couple because they have learned how to grow trust.

No matter what way they discipline their child he will turn out strong because they know it is all about trust. “Johnny, you can rely on me to do this for you.  Can I rely on you to do the same for me?”  Johnny learns many good habits but, more importantly, he learns the value of being trustworthy.

Given the massive disruption in trust that the US is experiencing in all its institutions (family, church, school, marketplace, and government) it seems that fellow citizens who are opponents on so many issues need to begin their discourse with: “You can rely on me to treat you with respect in our conversations.  Can I rely on the same from you?”   Without a “yes” there is no point in having the conversation. With a “yes” the ground has shifted— a brick has been laid in the infrastructure we need most: trust.

If we adopt this habit a lot will change. Is there anyone in your orbit with whom you need to practice this?  A spouse?  A child? A relative?  A co-worker? A neighbor?

 

With an eye to the child, the future of America,

Pat Fagan, Ph.D.
Director of the MARRI Project
Catholic University of America

Smartphones and Technology

community, depression, family, happiness, Technology, youth No comments

Today’s two findings link the digital world with relational outcomes that no one wants: abortion and unhappiness.  The digital world is a two-edged sword.  We know its benefits, but increasingly we are getting to know it’s down-sides.  Japan, one of the most digitally saturated societies on earth, is experiencing one of technology’s noxious byproducts: hikikomori  they call it, the shut-in lifestyle of young people who have withdrawn from society in fear and isolation to live, not socially, but digitally.

Being human, we are deeply relational from the first moments of our existence and thrive on good relationships throughout our lives. We are brought into existence by the most intimate and desirable of relational activities.  We come into the world to be nursed and cuddled in an intimacy many of us, subconsciously, seek to recreate throughout life, especially if we did not get enough in infancy.  We thrive in families that spend lots of time together, supporting each other in the tasks of life.  This is made even easier for us if we live in a close community.  Add lots of intact marriages and lots of weekly worship (both deeply relational) and life is pretty good for almost all involved.  Children who grow up in these environments are much more likely to thrive in adulthood.

Life in a Jewish Family” by Edith Stein, describes just such a family life in a close-knit Jewish community. It changed how my wife and I raised our children.  Later it led me to frequently suggest to my daughters that, in their turn, they consider living close to each other, if possible, when they married and began their own families because their children would benefit from all the aunts, uncles, and cousins they would have around them.  Better still, if they were anchored in a community of worship, and best of all if they had all this and friends close by.  What gifts for all the children involved!

Charles Murray of AEI in Coming Apart and Robert Putnam of Harvard in Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis tell pretty much the same story: upper-class parents, by and large, understand the relational needs of their children and that their own marriage is foundational to their children’s future.  These parents are well educated and know the research. These upper-class parents also understand and practice the worship of God more than most!

But all this good work can be undone, even for the best of parents, should the digital get a hold on the imagination and habits of their children.

Here too, savvy elites catch on quickly:  A few years ago, I gave a presentation to a group of very wealthy and highly educated married couples. The topic was ‘the benefits to children of the time married parents spend with them’.  One of the couples recounted their smartphone strategy: every family member, including each parent, puts his smartphone into a big ceramic bowl in the foyer when he arrives home.  The phones stay there until after dinner and, on going to bed, are put back there again until after breakfast … which they all have together as their start to the day.  They insisted they knew the value of things and that the most valuable of all is time with the most important people in their lives … each other and their children.

 

With an eye to the child, the future of America,

Pat Fagan,
Director, MARRI at CUA

Sexuality and Dating

abuse, Dating, marriage, sex No comments

“Grace” took serious revenge in an anonymous blog after feeling ill-treated on her date with TV comedian and filmmaker Aziz Ansari. Many in the media have weighed in on both sides. A bad night was had by both, much worse for the woman, but not great for repentant Aziz either.

The fall-out may be greater caution from men — much needed in Aziz’s world.  Clearly, neither he nor ‘Grace’ know where to find the most lovable, most enjoyable, and most cared-for sexual intercourse, with the least anxiety, least guilt, and least sadness. It lies where it always has: within the life-long monogamy of weekly-worshipping couples’ intact marriages.  The more a woman moves away from this type of love the more likely she is to experience what she fears most.  But who tells modern young women, or men, where and how to find this?  Hardly any of them would believe the data at first sight.  After reflection they might, for common sense and discreet observation of those around them would tell the same tale if they could overcome their prejudices long enough to look.

The massive irony of all this is that Aziz co-authored the book Modern Romance with much acclaimed NYU sociologist Eric Klinenberg. In their next volume, perhaps they could explore the pathways that successful couples have found to sexual intercourse full of love, respect, care, and enjoyment in an anxiety-free, sadness-free, and guilt-free way, where both the man and woman honor each other, the woman feels protected and safe all the time, and her man feels much the same way … in a manly sort of way.

For the (ultimate) good of the child,

Pat Fagan