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How Society Works

Secularization, Sacralization: Fertility and the Future of Mankind

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I invite your commentary and critique on the following essay which caused Faith and Family Findings (FFF) to take some time out for the last few weeks.  The implications of one research report sunk in: the human race and its various major cultures have moved beyond a tipping point. Grappling with this took time and the result is the following — a first attempt at a terra firma framework from which to make sense of the present and to use this social-science-based-compass for steering towards a better future.

The email to use if you wish to offer your critique is FFFessaycommentary@gmail.com.  It will be a great gift to give!

Sincerely,

Pat Fagan

By Patrick F Fagan

The world’s fertility rate continues to decline precipitously, with more and more countries falling  below replacement levels (2.1) across the developed regions of the world, and bottoming out somewhere in the region of 1.5 (EU)  or lower (0.9  for S Korea).

With replacement being at 2.1 child per woman the European Union’s (EU’s) emerging cohort three generations hence will be two thirds less than today’s, while South Korea’s nine tenths less! Even in a traditionally Catholic country like Ireland, the total fertility rate has dropped below the fertility rate of France.

Ireland’s Central Statistics Office recently states “To maintain the current ratio of five workers to one older person in 2051, it is estimated that an additional 4 million migrants would be needed.”  In other words, Ireland is hoping to double itself through immigration rather than do the work that marriage is designed for and which Ireland did with ease for centuries.

The United States is on the same track.

This depletion is most acute in the developed world and it should not take long before young migrants from developing countries  figure out how to auction their migration/life contributions to the highest bidding developed nation!

Within a generation or so, the developed world’s biggest problem will be a critical shortage of people, and an even greater shortage of those people capable of high productivity and the relational capacity to take care of both the young and the elderly.

While technology may increase human productivity to compensate somewhat for the shortfall in workers,[2] the much bigger danger is that mankind’s human and social capital will continue to drop, leading to a “relationship famine” and thus to less family-sustainment, less self-management and less self-governance.  The missing ingredient causing this shortfall is the married father.

The child of the future, with more parents and grandparents to take care of will need even greater caring capacity than today’s adult whose burden is much less than the future young adult will face.  However, rather than investing heavily in the relational capital and wellbeing of our children we are treating them less and less well.

The child is being left more and more alone, and less and less nurtured, as the US Census Bureau acknowledges in its recent announcement[3] of the US’s continuing increase in single parenthood  which “ living arrangements can have implications for children’s outcomes, such as academic achievements, internalizing problems (e.g., depression and anxiety), and externalizing problems (e.g., anger and aggression),” none of this being new to readers of Faith and Family Findings.

To raise a child well takes an enormous investment of the time and love — by a father and a mother who not only take care of the child, but also take good care of each other and those around them (community) and also take care of God (worship).  This is writ large in the social science data — and in common sense observation. This has huge implications for the Black family.

Over the years one of the most striking instances of ignoring this collapse, especially within the Black family, occurred within the often-amazing work of the Upshot Project of the New York Times when it dynamically  illustrated the upward and downward mobility of different US ethnic groups but which left out marital data (very deliberately I think) which quickly  explains why Black men rise less and fall more[4] in their income levels.  No ethnic group has abandoned marriage more than have Black Americans.[5] Yet Black Americans have the highest rate of weekly church attendance.

How did this disconnect between births, marriage and worship take place?

The answer lies outside what is being observed, — from outside sociology and the social sciences, as physics leaned some time ago, in the discovery of the principle of the detached observer (the Heisenberg principal[6]). For such an “outside observer or platform” a good fit is Joseph Ratzinger (the later Pope Benedict XVI), a major actor on the world stage since the late 1950’s and a continuous commentator on the state of humanity and the church.[7]  Sociological practice justifies such an observer/spokesman because in sociology Catholics are often taken as the occupants of one end of “of the fertility bell curve” and because Catholic practices are often taken as the “sacralized pole” opposite the  “secularized pole” of beliefs and practices.

In 1958, a young professor of theology Joseph Ratzinger wrote a  paper “The New Pagans and the Church”, which was startling for its time.  In it he fingered the secularization[8] within the Catholic Church:

”The outward shape of the modern Church is determined essentially by the fact that in a totally new way, she has become the Church of pagans, and is constantly becoming even more so. She is no longer, as she once was, a Church composed of pagans who have become Christians but a Church of pagans, who still call themselves Christians, but actually have become pagans…. And there can be no doubt that most of them, from the Christian point of view, should really no longer be called believers, because they follow, more or less, a secular philosophy.”

In other words, for Ratzinger and for sociologists, the two are on opposite ends of the spectrum of values-beliefs-practices.

In 1968 Pope Paul VI issued Humanae Vitae, a publication which reaffirmed the perennial Christian teaching on contraception dating back to Apostolic times.  This document, brought into the open the secularization-sacralization split in the church.[9]  The predictions of the effects of contraception enumerated by Paul VI with the encyclical give it, because of its predictive validity, Nobel Laureate status in science.  It remains an embarrassment within the social sciences to this day.

In 1969, the then more widely known Professor Ratzinger predicted a much smaller church.

In 1972 Pope Paul VI, known to have been stricken by the response of so many to Humanae Vitae, gave his “Smoke of Satan within the Church” speech, his own version of Ratzinger’s “pagans in the church” speech. For both, the sexual turned pagan is at the core of the secularization of the Church.

In 2021 a majority of the German bishops have backed documents that teach radical departures from Church moral teaching on sexuality.[9.5]

Though Ratzinger made the case about the Catholic Church he has to have his counterparts in Protestantism, Judaism, and other natural law religions. For Hinduism Gandhi comes to mind.[10]

These rather public arguments within the Catholic Church clearly illustrated the same competition and process underway across all societies: the competition between the way of secularization and the way of sacralization.  Within the church and all religions and denominations, competition over sexual norms continues to occupy center stage, shaping choices, habits, political parties, cultures, and denominations by shaping attitudes regarding sexual intercourse, the life of the child, the marriage of the couple, the family they are bring into existence, the community they are shaping and even the very existence of societies.

Contraception, more than any other issue — more even than abortion —- is the great ‘desacralizer’ of everything to do with matters sexual: romance, babies, marriage, vows, divorce, cohabitation, and abortion.  As the timeline of the US Supreme Court’s decisions on matters sexual also show, it was contraception that led the way to secularization,[11] and a speedy de-sacralization of sexual intimacy, of family life and of community life by which the worship of God was pushed to the sidelines — as recent Pew Research Center data on worship and affiliation illustrate yet again.[11.5]

With these secularization processes already well established across the developed world, the contrast in birthrates between the secularized end of society and the still sacralized opposite is strikingly clear.  Nothing else, comes close in explaining and predicting rates of fertility![12] This holds across nations, cultures, and religions. The more that women worship the more children they bring into existence.

The impact of secularization is even more alarming because recent research shows that as many as 80 percent of young women view marriage as an option, and not as a goal.[13] In other words, these future mothers are comfortable with the possibility of their children growing up without a father and are at ease with out-of-wedlock sexual intercourse and out-of-wedlock births. The remaining 20 percent plan to have their children within marriage.

The Embarrassing Solution: Re-sacralization

Despite these secularization processes being underway worldwide, the contrast in birth rates between secularized societies and the still sacralized societies is strikingly.  Nothing else comes close in explaining and predicting rates of fertility![14] This holds across nations, cultures, and religions. The more that women worship the more children they bring into existence, even highly educated women in France and the UK![15]

If secularization leads to wilting human relationships the re-sacralization of society beckons as the rebuilder in both the number of persons and their capacity to care and belong to others.  The data repeatedly makes this case.  It is simply yet powerfully illustrated in the Mapping America Project.  There the always-intact-married-family that worships God weekly is the greatest generator of all things good for both adults and children.  This holds for all races and income groups on all outcomes measured in the US federal data system. When man and God embrace in worship, man thrives.

So, the data show — even to those who do not believe in God. The more secularized people become (dropping worship or marriage or both) the weaker the results for adults and children.  This is so clear in the average data is seems like an iron law or a fundamental principle of human development.

Thus, the sacralization of family relationships leads to compounding growth in human flourishing across generations, while desacralization leads to compounding depletion.  Though material benefits buffer the depletion they do not eliminate it, most especially on the sine-qua-non of population replacement by which a society, literally, lives or dies.

Thus, it seems rather clear that:

  • The world is increasingly facing a shortage of people.
  • The young people the developed West is raising are less and less relationally-capable.

A ‘turn-around’ is urgently needed and sacralization is the way.

Therefore, those who can effectively re-sacralize individuals, couples, families, and communities are the most needed and most valuable human capital a society can have.

How to find these and “grow” them is every developed societies biggest challenge, because even to suggest this solution in the media of public discourse on social policy would be virtually impossible.  Getting to the point of engaging society at large would be to have gained immense ground. The first step is to get those who worship regularly to discuss this and to find such people among them and then to support them in getting educated and formed. These are the leaders in sacralizing and re-sacralizing those who want it.

——

Your critique is appreciated,

Sincerely,

Pat Fagan

FFFessaycommentary@gmail.com

 

[1] Faith and Family Findings (FFF) took time out for the last few weeks as the implications of one research report sunk in: the human race and its various major cultures have moved beyond a tipping point. The following is a first attempt at a terra firma framework from which to make sense of the present and to use this social science based compass for steering towards a better future.

[2] World poverty is likely to be eliminated within the next decade, See: https://data.worldbank.org/topic/poverty?most_recent_value_desc=false

[3]  Announced rather “merrily”  if the photo theme is indicative:

[4] http://marri.us/wp-content/uploads/June-29-2018-PFF.pdf

[5] See The Fifth Annual Index of Family Belonging and Rejection,

[6] See especially the section on Heisenberg’s microscope.

[7] When these demographic shifts began to take place.

[8] He called it the ‘paganization’.

[9] Made visible by the many national bishop assemblies which undermined the reception of the encyclical with their ambivalence while enabling a “private interpretation of natural law” — a veiled form of revolt against the encyclical.

[9.5] See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synodal_Path and  https://www.catholicworldreport.com/2021/04/28/cardinal-pell-the-duty-of-the-german-bishops-is-to-uphold-the-teachings-of-scripture-2/

[10]  Ghandi’s critique of the effects of contraception closely parallels Paul VI’s

[11] Griswold v. Connecticut381 U.S. 479 (1965)  and Eisenstadt v. Baird405 U.S. 438 (1972)

[11.5] See: https://www.pewresearch.org/catholic-attendance/ and https://www.pewforum.org/2019/10/17/in-u-s-decline-of-christianity-continues-at-rapid-pace/

[12] John Mueller “Redeeming Economics” 2014, chapter 11, figure 5

[13]  Shepherd and Marshall (2019) “Childbearing Worldviews and Contraceptive Behavior Among Young Women.” This report, not from national data but Michigan data,  is cause for alarm (and further, deeper study) because Michigan is considered a “median” state by family demographers, so the US is likely to be close to the same.

[14] John Mueller “Redeeming Economics” 2014, chapter 11, figure 5

[15] Nitzan Peri Rotem, Fertility differences by education in Britain and France: The role of religionPopulation Volume 75, Issue 1, January 2020, pages 9 to 36

 

 

The Synthesis Void in the Social Sciences

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At MARRI we hope to work with an emerging network of academics on “The Synthesis Project” to help ordinary folk in this time of need when cultures are being eroded.

Cultures expressed the centuries-accumulated wisdom of peoples and resulted in a taboo-enforced norms of “This is the way we live as a people.”  It was a powerful shaper of thought and behavior, operating for the good of families and the community, passed on by generations and resulting in functional stability, and a flourishing life.

But, with the modern erosion of culture, a vacuum now exists and needs to be filled by a deliberate education[1] that will be accepted by thoughtful people as trustworthy.  The social sciences can help fill that vacuum. But they confront a problem within their own ranks.

The material and social sciences differ in in how they handle new findings. In the material sciences (physics, chemistry, biology, and neuroscience to name but a few) synthesis is automatic once the new findings are replicated and significant enough. In the social sciences (psychology, sociology, economics to name the big ones) synthesis is not automatic particularly in  “hot topic” areas.  There synthesis is often avoided sometimes to a degree that that amounts to suppression.

This difference between the material and social sciences can be seen very clearly in college textbooks.  Compare a biology textbook of 1990, even of 2010 with a 2020 textbook.  Though there is large continuity they are different and each decade the difference mounts as later editions integrate (synthesize) new discoveries.

Not so in the social sciences. Much is left out especially in the study of marriage, family, religious practice, and sexual behavior. Textbooks differ on the content covered depending on the ideology of the authors, not depending on the robustly confirmed advances in the field.

Why does this difference — automatic synthesis in the material sciences but an avoidance in the social sciences — take place?

  • The material benefits of the material science are sufficient motive for integrating the new analytic discoveries into what was already known, because the benefits are often enormous and can be seen in engineering, transportation, energy production, communications, increased abundance in food s and enormous advances in health.
  • The social sciences work in the relational, behavioral dimensions of man to discover how he “works” — what helps or hinders in living a happy life. Like the material sciences, its findings are adding insights continuously on what works to make man thrive or wilt. These findings eventually lead to “man thrives when he acts this way, or wilts when he acts this other way”.  In other words, social sciences lead to (unstated) “oughts”.[2]  They have moral implications with attendant demands on humankind.  Such demands are not always welcome, for instance in the areas of sexuality and marriage. A professor who has just divorced her husband will be less inclined to review the effects of divorce on children — understandable from a human point of view, but unforgivable from a science point of view.  Thus, the social sciences run up against an emotional-moral barrier within the scientists themselves.  Though tasked with seeking and teaching truth on how man thrives they are reluctant if they want to practice otherwise.  Their students also may not want to hear the evidence about the effects. Fallen human nature often resists the true or the good.  Of those who practice science we expect better.
  • “Value neutrality” was taken to be core to the social sciences when I was an undergraduate. Today I would resist that mightily on science grounds.  I expect every scientist to hold to two values and raise them to virtues in practice: love of truth and the courage to say the truth.  Courageously truthful is the hallmark of the true scientist (assuming he is skilled in his science).

There is a vast array of topics in the social sciences waiting to be synthesized, the many pockets where synthesis has not happened. Thereafter the wider synthesis of cross-linking beckons. For instance a synthesis the impact of religious practice on sexual enjoyment, plus the synthesis of sexual abstinence and religious practice finally infused with the findings of  the impact of sexual abstinence before marriage will yield a very interesting picture of the lifetime — long term — enjoyment of the sexual within marriage.  Synthesizing each area by itself leads to interesting conclusions but meta-synthesizing all three areas can lead to conclusions that are unwelcome to some — because of the “ought” behind the very notion of science, the pursuit of truth.

Old cultures knew a lot about sexuality in its many dimensions.  They had integrated or synthesized the insights over time. It embodied and enforced the insights.

Such insights are no longer culturally transmitted and need deliberate presentation to cause people to develop their moral (their behavioral) compass.  Here robust, replicated social science helps.  Some will reject the invitation to accept truths; some may look but waver, and some will “align with the data” — adopt “the oughts” of the data.  Thus, the social sciences, robustly pursued have an important role in man’s search for happiness, for understanding himself.

For the good of the child, the focus of so much social science,

Pat Fagan

[1] Much cultural education was subconscious or preconscious.  Therein lies its power to shape.

[2] As do the material sciences — their “oughts” directed at how we ought to handle matter if we want to harness its potential for good and goods.

Material Success with Relational Failure on a Global Scale

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Materially, as a society, we thrive as never before in history while relationally, we are failing as never before.  As these opposites become more visible and disturbing, some people seek solutions in violence, others, in sex, booze, and drugs, all of which harm the relational even more.

When I was an undergraduate in the social sciences, the statement “Grace builds on nature” was common but regarded as theological and of no concern for social scientists.  Today, however, this phrase has a major place in the social sciences, as they play their part in building the new civilization the world now needs. They illustrate with data the way man thrives and fails.

America is at a cross-roads.  Along with the whole world, it experiences aspects of the Chinese form of totalitarianism and exploitation of its citizens. American mega-tech companies are tempted by the digital controls the Chinese exercise over their people, and, watching China closely, are manipulating their own markets in the US and in the West.

Europe has pockets of life, but, determined not to have babies, it is dying out. The same for Japan, only worse.

The Middle East is a cauldron of hatreds.

Africa, the populous continent of the future, is the playground of competing interests: China hopes to colonize it and dump its excess peoples there and as much of its toxic wastes it can get away with, while the American Left and Big Pharma work steadily to depopulate Africa.

South America’s population rates plunge towards below-replacement rates, with increasing numbers of totalitarian governments and ensuant economic decay.   Sexually, many of South American families are in chaos more than anywhere else in the world.  In Brazil out of wedlock births are the norm. What a chaotic future that portends!

Australia seems intent on the European way, though there are flickers of life.

This global overview is not pretty despite our massive gains in solving material and biological needs. On the relational level we see widespread family suffering: endemic abortion, STDs, sex-trafficking, sexual and physical abuse, depression, suicide and loneliness across the developed West.

Happiness within families seems less possible.  Man wants happiness without the effort needed to get there: lifelong marriage (where happiness comes from serving “the other”, not oneself) and worship.

Love is the heart of this relational crisis. With love everyone thrives. Without love everyone wilts.  It is as simple as that.

Relational solutions cannot be manufactured.  They are delivered in relationships: one relationship at a time, each one containing some aspect of love of the person or of God.

Though these truths also hold for a thriving marketplace, as the work of Brian Grim makes scientifically clear,  it is in personal relationships that humanity cries out, almost despairingly, for solutions. In practical terms there are two minimums for individual and societal thriving: marriage and worship.

In relationships grace perfects nature. Wanting happiness without self-sacrifice is like wanting material benefits without doing the work needed to produce them.  For human happiness the work needed is personal sacrifice. That takes grace.  And the social sciences illustrate it constantly and universally.

As the world starves for relational happiness, the two great loves will become more and more visible and attractive, despite their price. A new global culture will begin to emerge. Though history tells us man will constantly attempt the “easy” path, there is no alternative to sacrificial love. Every happy family is built on it.

For the good of the child, the future of mankind,

Pat Fagan PhD

We Wither Without the Most Powerful of Female Power

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Woman’s natural power is so immense that without balance on the male side the human project unravels.  For his own sense of worth within the family, the man needs to be the head in a circumscribed set of decision-making areas. The woman has so much power she does not need headship but does need to grant it.

The woman’s power commences with the birth of her first child. Though a father can give much, his wife gives more and more fundamentally.  When young men die on the battlefield, they call out for their mother. When grown sons call home the natural order is to talk first and longest with mother. Father-son conversations, even in the very best of relationships, tend to be shorter, less relational and more project focused.

Immediately the baby is born, the greatest power of woman comes into play.  For her child, she makes the world a good place to be in.  She treats her baby so well it is content to be alive and grow.  Babies who experience neglect –-or worse, abuse — turn away from reality and in upon themselves, sometimes never to emerge again, as with some forms of psychosis.  Such is the power of woman for good or ill.

In her relationship with her child, she shapes its foundational experience of human relationships.  For the child, that relationship shapes all its others.  Here lies the mother’s massive power. By shaping how her child relates the mother shapes the family, and shapes the sexual, the social, educational, economic, and political experiences of her grown child. When too many citizens have not experienced a loving, caring first relationship, collectively they shape the political very differently from those who are well nurtured.

For the child with a warm mother, life is experienced as wonderful.  Those deprived of such a mother live lives suffused with anxiety, depression, or anger. There are no data, but I’d bet the overwhelming majority, if not every single person, involved in rioting in recent months, lacks a secure attachment — not just to mother but especially to father. The father is the child’s first experience of those who inhabit “the world outside of mother”.

As the caring mother attends to her child, her husband steps somewhat to the side — taking care that his wife has all she needs to nurture her child. For most men, the intensity of the experience of a first birth is so overwhelming they forget their needs for some time but, eventually, the woman must take care of her husband, too. Prior to pregnancy her care was most expressed in their marital relations.  When she is physically and emotionally ready, she embraces him sexually again.  This is her other great power, used here again in service of the loved one.

All the above describes the optimal experience.  But first births are fraught with dangers:

  • Divorces are triggered by first births more than by any other single event in the life history of those married young.
  • Many women experience postpartum depression (PPD) rather than joy and happiness. For a certain portion of women this is biologically triggered,[1] but not for all.
  • Though very incompletely studied, men also suffer PPD and severe anxiety. In Asian countries postpartum depression in men[2] ranges from a low of 4% in Malaysia to a (questionable) high of 63% in Pakistan, whereas in the developed Western economy of New Zealand 2% of fathers showed severe depression and 4% a milder form. In the US 10% of fathers in “Fragile Families”(cohabiting biological parents) are depressed 3 years after the birth.

Combine all these facts, and the birth of the first-born jumps to the top of the list of the “most critical of human events”. It shapes virtually everything, from the life of the child to the life of the nation.  In practical terms, the child’s experience at this stage will shape, not only his own life but that of the future spouse and their children, and also his friendships and his relations with colleagues at work.  Furthermore, the new parents’ own experience has been shaped immensely by their own parents’ relationship and experiences a generation earlier. These grandparents’ levels of secure/insecure attachment shaped the new parents’ own attachment patterns and now influences their marriage, their first-child experience and future life together.

Today, the insecure cycle not only repeats but widens, and has done so increasingly for the last few hundred years, with the transitions from agricultural to post-industrial to digitally-shaped economic life.  The length of time for mother-infant bonding has received increasingly short shrift (except in Scandinavian countries, most notably Sweden).  Modern working mothers of newborns are caught “between a rock and a hard place”.  In Spain, professional middle-class mothers routinely return to work after 4 months leave. Some of these mothers, anticipating the pain of the impending separation from their newborn, choose not to bond as closely as nature would have them do!  What social disasters await Spain a generation from now!  And this is happening within married families! How much worse for the low-income couple, and even worse, for the single mother.

The economic world now militates against the nurturance of children.  Borrowing from the title and substance of Iain McGilchrist’s monumental work “The Master and His Emissary”, [3] we can deduce that women, rather  than being masters of a relational domain totally their own, by economic, educational and social pressure,  are becoming emissaries in the economic world.  Though welcome in the economic domain, she is essential in the relational.

Because of her absence more children whimper and more adults wilt.

In pursuing workplace power rather than relational power (child, marriage, and neighborhood power) women have, inadvertently, dissipated vast amounts of the relational ‘oxygen’ that human society needs for all its institutions. Both young adults and those approaching early middle age exhibit the symptoms: they are increasingly depressed, without spouses or families of their own. They are more isolated, alienated, and addicted.

Starved of the relational-generating power that women have in abundance, society cannot thrive, nor this civilization last.

For the good of the child, the future of mankind,

Pat Fagan Ph.D.

[1] The biological and psychosocial literatures are largely distinct, and few studies provide integrative analyses. The strongest PPD risk predictors among biological processes are hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal dysregulation, inflammatory processes, and genetic vulnerabilities. Among psychosocial factors, the strongest predictors are severe life events, some forms of chronic strain, relationship quality, and support from partner and mother.

[2] Risk factors for postpartum depression were clustered into five major groups: biological/physical (e.g., riboflavin consumption), psychological (e.g., antenatal depression), obstetric/pediatric (e.g., unwanted pregnancy), socio-demographic (e.g., poverty), and cultural factors (e.g., preference of infants’ gender).

[3] See minute 52.30 on this interview with McGilchrist.  His work is likely to be massive in its impact on shaping human knowledge-seeking from here on.  There are many wonderful interviews with him on You Tube.

The Newborn Child Needs the Cooperation of the Sexes

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In marital love touch is fundamental, thus it can be no surprise that the earliest touch experienced by a child affects all dimensions of his future life. Common sense and a knowledge of nature’s ways (God’s way of doing things), and in modern times, very explicit in research (see this week’s findings below), show the immense beneficial effects of breastfeeding for both mother and child and the impact of her attachment to her child.  But, now coming to the fore is the importance of father’s ‘behind the scenes’ role in arranging greater ease for mother in her care of their newborn.  The right sort of support from him adds immensely to the wellbeing of both mother and child.

It is not surprising, though likely not widely practiced, that the father’s touch also has beneficial effects: fathers who had 15 mins of skin-to- skin contact with their newborns,  daily for the first few days, became much more attached to them than fathers who did not hold them that way.

The father’s interaction with his child during the first early years also has a significant impact on the child’s brain development and cognitive development — the more interaction the greater the cognitive development.  Better still, when the father is less controlling (e.g. when the father follows the child in play rather than trying to get the child to follow him) the child’s cognitive development is even greater.

This “supportive without controlling” approach by father also holds in his effects on his wife’s breastfeeding of their child: she will breastfeed better and more efficiently (often needing less time) when her husband is supportive without being intrusive.  As the authors put it, the more the couple is a team as in tennis doubles or beach volleyball — independently competent but very responsive to the needs of the other — the more everyone thrives.

This “complementarity of the sexes” is the framework of male and female differences that the world needs, rather than APA’s toxic masculinity approach.  What husband does not want to give effective (rather than ineffective) support to his wife? What mother does not want such complementary support from her husband?  But, as the saying goes, “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”:  Men, also, have no doubt that the non-intrusive support and encouragement of a wife makes them much more effective and efficient. Complementary support yields a much more happier couple. When individual competence is dedicated to the service of the other, all thrive.

Given the dominance of a feminist mindset in so many walks of life today in the academy, the workplace, and in law, coupled with the increasing failure of males, especially in academic performance (which decreases their ability to support a wife and child later in life), it is time to shift from “feminist” to “complementarity”.  Moderate feminists have nothing to fear and everything to gain: the benefits for women are greater — for  the pattern holds across myriad outcomes of family life —  without its being at the radical feminist price of harming men.

Getting to such complementarity in marriage will always be a struggle (though less so when both husband and wife have been raised in such “complementarity families”); hence the great importance of mindsets transmitted in school curricula.  The birth of the first child is the first big test in marriage, when the attachment of the mother to their newborn child requires her husband to take second place by supporting his wife’s much more important role because of its much more powerful impact on their child’s development.

For the good of the child,

The future of America,

 

Pat Fagan Ph.D.

WHAT TO DO ABOUT OUR DYING CULTURE?

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The family has to take on the task of rebuilding society, for no other institution is prepared to.  Yet how can the smallest, weakest and least powerful institution rebuild what major institutions cannot?

By finding “birds of a feather”, by grouping together, by sharing wisdom and human resources, and by gradually bringing into the flock more and more of the “disenfranchised”.  Each family needs to do this at the most local of levels – among friends and trusted neighbors —for the sake of their own children. But in doing so they can spread the word and their know-how.  Every parent with half a heart wants his child to become a happy adult, and when you cut through all the discourse everything boils down to two goals: developing in the child the capacity for hard work and the capacity to attract a good spouse.  Lots of work goes into this but what has to be achieved is pretty simple and straightforward.

At the universal, natural-law level, the family has to accomplish these two goals for each child it brings into the world, and parents who pull this off are great successes. When their child walks down the aisle and is marrying a great spouse, then both sets of parents are really content and it is a happy wedding.  Once their last child is on his way, they can sit back a bit and let their children take on the heavy lifting —in turn aiming for the same two goals for their children. Thus, each generation succeeds when the new generation is ready to dedicate themselves to raising future parents.

Given this central measure in society’s success or failure, the ultimate measure of every other institution is whether is it facilitates these two goals. This is the measure, not just of the family, but of the church (at the natural level), the school, the marketplace and government.  If, in practice, they are stumbling blocks to these two goals one can say that whatever blocks these two goals is dysfunctional (or even more bluntly, evil).

Many may disagree but only if they are prepared to say they do not care about raising children and they do not care about the common good.  They are not of “the birds of a feather” that will rebuild America.  Though free, they are not free to claim they are building a solid society.  They are not. (This does not mean that everyone has to get married. But everyone had best, when their station in life calls for it, assist in ensuring fruitful marriage. Today’s social science findings on rising suicide rates points to many falling down on the job of these two goals.)

Given the widespread lack of support families will now have to strike out on their own to find other families that are serious about these two  tasks—by finding other couples that are raising the sort of children they want their own children to marry. They will cluster particularly around schools and colleges that support these goals.  One friend of mine sent all this daughters to the University of Dallas, saying “I am sending you there so that you can meet a good husband!”

These families have to be both conservative and liberal: on defense (to keep their children on track and off the other tracks) and on offense (pulling in all those other broken and lost families that want to give their children a better future — a good marriage to a good spouse).   There are lots of injured people needing help — yet if we grow enough cooperation among families-on-track we will pull in more and more over time. America has done this a number of times in its history, developing it’s famous “can do” spirit.  This time the goal is rebuilding the foundations, way more important than putting a man on the moon, or building 5G global connectedness for everyone, or renewable energy that never fails). The last few generations have learned that the pursuit of material successes does not give us thriving children nor a thriving society. Children were happier and better off in poorer times (so suicide numbers tell us) and many are in much poorer countries today.

It is time for America to take on the task of renewing itself.  By rough estimate I figure about one third of the nation is already committed to these goals.  Properly harnessed we have enough to give courage and hope to the other two thirds.

For the future of America let us work so that our children walk down the aisle to marry a good spouse,

Pat Fagan, Ph.D.

 

“Mindset”: A Major Contribution from the Social Sciences 

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Stanford University psychology professor, Carol Dweck, underwent a personal “mindset” change – from a ‘fixed mindset’ to a “growth” mindset, and through the influence of her work and students, is pulling the world along behind her.  Some people view their talents as fixed while growth mindset people view them as expandable through effort. No matter how bright one is, a fixed mindset is a handicap. No matter how less gifted you are, a growth mindset can take one to the top or, at least, close to it. Great educators, such as Marva Collins of Chicago’s inner city, or Jamie Escalante of Los Angeles instilled a growth mindset in their pupils, well portrayed in two major movies: The Marva Collins Story (1981) and Stand and Deliver (1988).  

As economic prosperity advances and technology eliminates many marketplace advantages men had, mindset becomes ever more important in helping all children develop their talents.  What is possible is amazing as Dweck’s book for the layman lays out and as the examples of Collins, Escalante and thousands of great teachers around the world demonstrate. 

But, I suspect, even where mindset is optimized, a variety of differences between male and female continue to emerge — very differently in different cultures, pronounced one way in some cultures and an opposite way in others, while hardly noticeable in yet others.  The following research reports contrasts many of these international differences.  No matter the outcome, each society is best served if all are honored for their different talents. That the sum is greater than the parts, is nowhere more visible than in the creation of a child and the success in raising it when cooperation and complementarity is fullest — lived out in an intact child-raising marriage. The data show this holds across the world.

The Phenomenal Rise and Fall of a Marriage-Based Culture

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Lifelong monogamous marriage is hardwired into the human heart (but so too are anger and lust, its two biggest obstacles). 

Not only Christian and Jewish but all great cultures rest on life-long marriage and cultivate it in their mores: Hindus most especially, but Shinto, Buddhist, Confucian, and, in the main, Muslim too.

Christ taught his disciples that marriage was monogamous. He began his ministry of converting sinners in his conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well. First he overturned Jewish doctrine on marriage and matters sexual:  marriage is between one man and one woman until death. Later he raised the bar again:  adultery (one of the most grievous of evils) is committed even by lusting (in thoughts and desires) after a woman. Lastly, he raised the bar still higher by indicating that “the few” can choose celibacy for life in order to be available for the spiritual service of others (“for the sake of The Kingdom”). 

Other than among Hindus, nowhere has lifelong marriage been more central than in Christianity. 

Over the next millennium more people became Christian, as the map shows.  The most obvious indications of Christianity were external manifestations in buildings and power: church-state interactions, the building of great churches, monasteries, and, in the middle ages, the cathedrals of Europe. While priests, monks and nuns, bishops and popes were the visible actors in all this religious activity, beneath it all a very different structural change was taking place, one that gave tremendous strength in industry, art, finance, politics, and learning: the practice of lifelong monogamous marriage.

With modern social sciences we can see very clearly the immense difference intact marriage makes to children: they are happier (mental health), they are physically healthier, they learn more, they are less troublesome.  They become much better citizens, better spouses, parents, workers, soldiers, savers, builders, and caretakers.  

Over ten centuries as more and more families became monogamous the compounded riches burst forth in great flowering in the early middle ages, yielding great vitality in commerce, finance, building, and arts in what is called “The Renaissance”.

Monogamous lifelong marriage survived the Protestant revolt of the 1500s, at least for the next 250 years. Then came the French Revolution which overturned the public culture of marriage and the private lives of increasing numbers of French citizens. “On September 20, 1792, the French National Assembly passed a decree regulating divorce, which for the first time in France opened the possibility of completely severing marital relationships. … One of the spouses may have a divorce decreed by the simple allegation of incompatibility of disposition or of character.”

Half a century later Marx and Engels formulated targeted marriage again in “The Communist Manifesto”, and Engels  in “The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State” by which “Any sexual relationship between mutually consenting persons would be possible. What would not be possible would be the security of a life-long marriage. This sexual relationship could not be chosen.”

Thirty years later, Lenin effectively abolished marriage in 1918 with the most lax of “no-fault divorce laws” then in existence, bringing all much closer to Marx’s ideal of the union of individuals being a purely private affair. By 1926 there was so much chaos —  millions of homeless children and widespread female poverty — that reform laws were passed restoring more stability. 

Around the same time as these revisions were being legislated a new Marxist initiative was underway in at Goethe University in Frankfurt Germany: The Institute for Social Research, now known as “The Frankfurt School”. This institute was destined to cause change to the culture, family, schools and even the constitution of the United States.  Its director from 1930 to 1953, Max Horkheimer, sums up their agenda and strategy: 

“The revolution won’t happen with guns; rather it will happen incrementally, year by year, generation by generation.  We will gradually infiltrate their educational institutions and their political offices, transforming them slowly into Marxist entities as we move towards universal egalitarianism.”

When the Nazis bested the Communists for control of Germany, the Frankfurt School faculty, all Marxists, and most secular Jews as well, had to flee the country. Through the mediation of John Dewey, Horkheimer met with the president of Columbia University, Nicholas Murray Butler, who offered The Institute a home and a building at Columbia.  Most of the faculty moved to New York, many taking posts at Columbia and especially in its Teachers College. Many stayed after the end of World War II, Herbert Marcuse being the most famous.  A number were used by the OSS in deciphering and analyzing German war intelligence, some of whom stayed on taking posts in the CIA and the State Department.  The combined diffuse influence of these brilliant intellectuals is hard to overestimate: critical theory (Horkheimer), post-modernism (Habermas), Marxist-Freudian psychology (Adorno and Fromm), sociology (Marcuse, Pollock and Lowenthal).

One of their protegees, Kate Millet, did her doctoral dissertation at Columbia “Sexual Politics”, the book form and her activism making her a Time Magazine cover story in 1970.   She was the leader of the group of feminist intellectuals who formed The National Organization of Women (NOW), which maybe the most influential fruit of all this Marxist scholarship. I have written before on the infamous opening litany of these meetings which signaled their key target — the married father of a family – and their key means: hyper-sexualization of the culture. 

One of the most notable early victories of NOW was “no-fault divorce”, paralleling Lenin in his first move against the family. Though NOW had many other victories, a few laudable, their most destructively influential one has been the network of Women’s Studies Centers at universities and colleges across the country, most supported by government grants.  In 2014 there were 684, all of them dedicated to radical, societally transformative sexual revolution.  The following June-2020 image from the web site of Cornell University’s Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program illustrates the perennial Marxist framing and underpinnings, as Horkheimer’s dream unfolds in America, 75 years after he returned to postwar Germany. 

The most recent manifestation of the Marxist advance against marriage and the family is “Black Lives Matter” who state on their homepage: “We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents and children are comfortable … with the intention of freeing ourselves from the tight grip of heteronormative thinking …”

Conclusion:  It is worth remembering that when Christ formed His first disciples most of the world — in matters sexual – lived polymorphously as Marx, Engels and Lenin envisaged and as we are now living again.  

Christians born in the West up until recent times have lived in the comfort of a Christian-molded legal order that protected women and children by expecting, and (where necessary) enforcing, monogamy. That day is gone. Welcome back to a hard and violent world of polymorphous sex, where the lifestyle of a Christian can be dangerous.  

It will take a few hundred years to build a new social order — if there are enough real Christians. It is worth remembering that Christians did not set out to build a new social order. That was a byproduct.  They set out to follow Christ, first and foremost in their hearts, the toughest territory to conquer. He gave them three levels of sexual aspiration: monogamy, purity of mind and heart and, for the few, celibacy for life (though for all, celibacy till marriage).  As Christians gradually abandoned these three interior struggles of the heart, their social structures collapsed around them.  

It is in the heart that the battle is won or lost, the family then won or lost, and the culture eventually won or lost. 

For the good of the child, who from the moment of conception has the right to demand of its parents their lifelong monogamous marriage,

Pat Fagan, Ph.D.

The Denial of Privilege to Black Children

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The chart below explains why the Midwest would be the prime spot for racial protest, either spontaneous or planned.

This chart shows the rate of marriage among the parents of 17-year olds in each major ethnic group, in four regions of the US: Midwest (MW), South (S) Northeast (NE) and West (W). The lowest marriage rate (extreme left) is where the recent violence has been most intense, the Midwest which includes Minneapolis. 

To understand some of the population dynamics in play a few facts are needed: 

The contrast between Whites and Blacks on rates of marriage is probably greater in the Midwest than anywhere else in the country. 

  • For family intactness Minnesota ranks at the top or in second place in the nation, every year.
  • Yet, the Midwest (which includes Minneapolis, Chicago and Milwaukee) has the lowest rate of black marriage in the country (see the chart above).

Though among Blacks Minnesota Blacks rank relatively high on marriage rates (20%), that is still more than three times lower than for Whites (62% intactness when teens are 17 years of age). 

There is no doubt a vast conspiracy to deny black children their right to the marriage of their parents. Though all ethnic groups suffer, none suffer this deficit more than black children do. 

Asians deny this privilege to their children at a rate of 38%, Whites at a rate of 46%; Hispanics at a rate of 60%; American Indians and Alaskan Natives at a rate of 76%, and Blacks at a rate of 83 %.

All good people must mourn for all these children! What suffering this rejection visits on them!

The solution proposed by marching protestors (government action to end racism) totally misdiagnoses the problem.  Nothing better illustrates the fallacy of this “solution” than a research piece by The New York Times “Upshot” team two years ago.  They did a magnificent portrayal of statistical data with live animation which you can still see here.  Their topic was the anti-black “racism” visible in the much lower upward mobility of Blacks.  However, as our blog pointed out the Upshot team  totally misdiagnosed the underlying causes — even though their own data pointed directly at the problem. They placed the blame on systemic workplace discrimination, but the major cause lay clearly in the breakdown of marriage among blacks, even among very successful blacks. Within the Upshot data Black men in the top 1% of income have a marriage rate lower than white men in the poorest income quintile!  All social scientists who study the issue know that marriage breakdown lowers human capital — the future earnings capacity — of children. Conversely, marriage contributes immensely to upward economic mobility, which the Upshot model also shows if you look for it— but you have to know what you are looking for. The Upshot team leaves it hidden, but the MARRI blog will help.

Black children are the most underprivileged in the nation, even rich black children, when it comes to having their parents marry and stay married.

Who is to blame? Is it God?  He permitted man to fall.

Are His pastors to blame?  Blacks are the most religious-worshipping Christian ethnic group in the States, yet the least married.  Do black pastors preach Christ’s teaching regarding Christian marriage and chastity to black teenagers?  Chastity is the great protector of marriage and children. So many Christian pastors talk much about the need for justice yet avoid this, the biggest justice issue, which also is their mandate from the God they serve.  They can do more than anyone else in the country on marriage and chastity should they have the courage to teach what Christ taught. They are most to blame.

Are teachers and schools to blame?  Public schools ensure Black children are not taught the benefits of marriage and chastity.  The NEA is in total cahoots with SIECUS and Planned Parenthood to bring an unchaste sexuality into the schools, effectively denying children the marriage of their parents, and giving them instead out-of-wedlock-births and abortion, and all the other evils that harm black children: poverty, physical and sexual abuse, crime, and  school dropout, to name just a few. 

With two major institutions arrayed against them on this issue — the church and the education establishment — what chance does the average Black child have? 

Add to this the “professional experts”:  psychologists — and especially developmental psychologists — sociologists, economists, psychiatrists, social workers, and counselors along with their professional associations. Include the vast majority of professors of these disciplines in the Ivy Leagues and the state universities.    They too (with rare personal exceptions) are part of the same conspiracy of silence regarding marriage and chastity.  By their silence, in effect all these professions suppress the data; they do not transmit it to their students or the public. Such abuse of data is a crime against science. Add the 680 feminist women’s studies centers at US universities and colleges which war against the family patriarch (the married father, be he white or black) and you begin to grasp the vastness of the conspiracy to deny black children their inherent right to the privilege of their parents’ marriage.  

Eventually we come to the parents themselves. Must we also blame those mothers and fathers who deny this right to their children? 

We cannot exclude them, yet, denied education and leadership, how guilty are they? How guilty is the young inner-city girl who is giving birth to her first child even as you are reading this piece?  She has never heard of, much less experienced, nor seen in her extended family or community, the marriage of parents. Who is guilty?  Who is keeping her in slavery?   

Is it Asians? Is it Whites? Hispanics? American Indians?  

No.  All who deny black children the marriage of their biological parents are the oppressors, be they bishops, pastors, professors, teachers, doctors, journalists, actors, singers, TV producers, governors, police chiefs, or Supreme Court justices. 

It is time for black parents to come together and, out of the experience of their own suffering, and their wounded lives, begin to figure out how to give to their children that which even their pastors are conspiring not to give to them: chastity and marriage.  Government cannot give this, though government can (and should) enshrine in law the right of every child to the marriage of his biological parents.  But only mothers and fathers can give their marriage to their children. Even after a mistake, the poorest parent single can (with heroic effort) pass on to his or her child the ideal of chastity and marriage.  These parents are our hope.

For the good of the child, the future of the nation,

Pat Fagan, Ph.D.

Social Scientists Need to Articulate their Moral Frameworks

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When I see what young adults believe about cohabitation (chart below) I am saddened by how misled they are.  On cohabitation we have plenty of robust data and strong conclusions — multiple deficits for many adults and most children. This is the very opposite to what most young adults think they know.  We also know that young people are more likely to put their trust in science than in other sources of wisdom. Therefore, that they hold these beliefs about cohabitation is damning evidence on the present practical effects of the social sciences. 

https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2019/11/06/marriage-and-cohabitation-in-the-u-s/

 

Social science education has failed — worse— has misled young adults in one of the most important areas of their lives and in the most important area of their future children’s lives: sexual partnerings. Sociology has failed students and most especially their yet-unborn children.

A bit of fantasy hyperbole will help get the point across:  If geography presently taught that the world is flat, or physics that gravity is magic, the bad effects would be much less than the damaged lives this chart predicts for the respondents.

However, there is a great role for sociology and the other social sciences: They can increase our insights on the operations of human nature, or the laws and principles of human behavior, if these behavioral principles (moral principles) are first articulated. 

Social sciences, without a moral philosophy to anchor the interpretation of data, can be destructive. This chart is major evidence that one of the biggest challenges of the social sciences is to establish the parameters of an effective moral framework, to “duke out” in the data which moral philosophy comports most with the data; which predicts the thriving of man, woman and child. 

More citizens need to demand that practicing social scientists declare their moral philosophical framework!   Then students can judge which framework makes the most sense of the data. 

All robust data point towards behaviors that help people thrive or wilt. It would be fun to hold professors accountable to both the data and their moral philosophies, to insist they reconcile both.  This would lead to greater fun — the greater learning in the classroom.

For the good of the child, especially the child born to cohabiting couples,

 

Pat Fagan, Ph.D.