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How Society Works

How Society Works

Chastity at Harvard, Catholic or Baltimore Community College©

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For college presidents and their students, decadence is the societal context in which the grand task of education now takes place:

  • a widespread disregard of traditional sexual moral teachings, 
  • a falloff in marriage, 
  • an exodus from the churches, 
  • a rise in cohabitation
  • 50% of first births out of wedlock, 
  • a million abortions a year, 
  • universal cohabitation before marriages, 
  • epidemics of STDs, 
  • pornography, 
  • sex trafficking, 
  • homosexual ‘marriages’ and LGBTQ.

As always on matters sexual the stakes are extraordinarily high: choices made today shape adult and children’s lives forever and change their communities.  The passions in play, lust and anger, are very powerful. Given these conditions what is a good college leader to do?  How to tackle the issues of chastity and marriage?

  • First, lay the groundwork (see below) on the relationship between freedom and the Commandments and the thriving of their students over a lifetime.  
  • Second, establish the relationship between mastery of one’s sexual capacities and the greatness of the institution of marriage (the sexual in its fullest expression) — all in the service of the children they will bring into existence.

A major purpose of an education is to cultivate the long view of life. The dean of a business school has a relatively easy time getting a business student to see himself as the head of a thriving business 20 years from now. The college president has a much more daunting task in helping students envision their personal lives 15 and  20 ahead: their future family and how their choices on sex and marriage will help or harm their children as nothing else will. These children will embody the choices they make. The greater the president the more compelling he will make his case.

Freedom and the Ten Commandments

When college presidents speak, they teach and the loftier the issue, the more inevitable the moment of confronting or dodging the issue of God.  Assuming they are rational they will, at minimum, permit that everything in creation comes from God and is good and positive. Soon enough this leads to the question of why God chooses to be so negative in most of His Commandments?  

Pope John Paul II’s answer  applies.  He describes the commandments as a behavioral floor below which we may not go, because below this floor we yield our freedom, and, as it were, put ourselves in prison.  We harm others when we break the commandments, but we harm ourselves even more by corrupting ourselves. Any analysis of history, ancient or recent, shows that going ‘below the floor’ leads to disaster: lying, cheating, stealing, rape, murder, affairs, backbiting, betrayals, overindulgence and addictions, the passions unbridled (lust, anger, envy, overindulgence, laziness, conformity).

Above the floor, by contrast, lies the wide-open space we are made for, freedom the way the Creator ordained it, with the right and capacity to do any good within our reach. Above the floor every individual, every couple, every family, community and nation thrive. Long term flourishing is found only there.  It does not take religious faith to see that, just honesty.

The simple image below applies to students at Harvard as much as to students at any community college. It summarizes the dynamics of the floor of the forbidden vs the open sky of the positive available to us.

Sex within the Commandments

Even non-Christians will agree that Christ began a sexual revolution.  He changed the “Old Law” and forbade divorce; He raised the bar on adultery by pointing out that a man commits adultery in his heart by looking at a woman lustfully.  Every man knows what He meant, and every wife or girlfriend, betrayed by the way her man looks at another woman, knows it too — all women know it, across all cultures, all religions and no religion. It became a universal once it was made authoritatively clear by Christ. 

As Christianity spread His family-sexual revolution spread — unnoticed because it was not Christianity’s goal but its fruit.  And Western civilization thrived on it, and now wilts in retreat.

To slip ‘below the floor’, though easy, if not quickly reversed, leads to immense and intense suffering for all involved, and spreading, wrecks the local community. Sex is extraordinarily powerful above or below ‘the floor’, for good or for ill.

The data of the social sciences continuously illustrate (and cannot but illustrate) the way God made man and how he thrives. Thriving demands a minimal greatness in the relationships between men and women on matters sexual.  

Confidence in God

For young believers at college, as they figure out how to thrive in a decadent society, the issue is likely one of not yet trusting God and His commandments on matters sexual: many suspect that everything related to sex is better and easier and more enjoyable outside God’s way.  Their conclusions will depend on whether they (and their teachers) take the long or the short view. Most older folks who have ‘seen it all’ and have their own long-term view, are more likely to agree that Christ’s sexual revolution enables human thriving. 

Back to Harvard and the social sciences.  The data continuously support the case for confidence in God’s way. For instance, college students should hear that the data repeatedly illustrate that those who were virginal at marriage and who worship God weekly enjoy the sexual intercourse the most.  Furthermore, those who have the self-mastery to practice natural family planning have superior outcomes in intercourse, communications in marriage and in success in raising their children. These data are little known (most social scientists are embarrassed by them) yet, if God’s way is best, they are most appropriate. But to accept them you need the long-term view.

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

Patrick F Fagan, Ph.D.

President, Marriage and Religion Research Institute

February 14 (Valentine’s Day), 2020 ©

Live Below Your Means

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In the late 1970’s there was a dinner in Washington DC, attended exclusively by psychotherapists who came to honor a man they considered the greatest therapist among them.  

After many speeches extolling him, one therapist asked him “What is the one piece of advice you would give to us, as therapists?”   His answer surprised everyone: “Live below your means.” If you live at — or worse — above your means, ‘billable hours’ drives your practice. Rather than serving your client you sacrifice their best to your bank account.  [Of course, this applies to all professions.]

The same advice, “Live below your means”, also holds for parents. What children need most from their parents is their time.  Time given is attention given. In family life and in marriage, time is love. Deliberately “living below your means” affords time for family dinner, for hours with the children, for walks with your spouse, for family gatherings.  

“Live below your means” is a strategic choice of monumental import that will enrich generations.  Children need their parent’s time more than their money. Time together results in affection, confidence and a great outlook on life and will greatly influence whom they choose to be their spouse. Real wealth is time for what is most important.  

Seeming to give their children less, parents are really giving them a gift for which they will be eternally grateful.

Living below your means has another effect:  It grows the family bank account!

The families live below their means will rebuild the nation while those who live above their means will impoverish the nation!  

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

Pat Fagan, Ph.D.

 

 

Building Patterns That Work: Festivals, Thanks and Taboos

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The breakdown in cultures worldwide stems from two phenomena: the technological fruits of science and the sexual revolution — deliberately fomented by some — but ever-ongoing because of contraception which really is a new biotechnology.  Combined, these have massively disrupted the patterns of human relationships at the sexual, mating, marrying, family, community and national levels. The old patterns — worked out over centuries and embodying the hard-won wisdom of many generations —- resulted in rhythms and rituals that made life predictable, peaceful and much more enjoyable. They survived because they worked.

These patterns are all but gone in many parts of society – most especially in the inner cities where their absence is their great poverty, for most of the poor there have the material comforts of the middle classes of a half-century ago, but do not have the patterns of peaceful life.  This dis-ease is spreading across income levels and across the world because new cultures have not evolved that can subject the technological to the needs of man.  Instead man is serving the “needs” of the technological.  The core functions of society have been upended and turned inside out. The tool has become the tyrant.

The needs of mankind scream out for new patterns of human relationship — new mores —- to make modern life easier to live, so that life is predictable, relationships are easier, and the pace of life is humane. One modern success, at the national level, is the emergence of August as an annual month of rest and relaxation in France and some contiguous countries.  That pattern is emerging because it works well and is a form of festival.  It is enjoyable and predictable; relationships are easier and the pace of life is humane.

As the world becomes more fruitful in agriculture and material goods those who live the good life of marriage and family centered around the worship of God will be the ones with the most surplus time and the gut instinct of how to envelop technology, subjecting it into a deliberate time-pattern so that man, woman and child are better served.

Effective cultural patterns involve both festival and taboo. For instance, time patterns are needed for when the use of personal mobile phones are acceptable and not. A few years ago I met a very wealthy family whose members, on arriving home for evening dinner at the same time each night, all put their cell phones in a big beautiful bowl in the entrance hall. For this hard-working family, home was for relationships, rest, relaxation, quite reflection or study. Phone use was taboo except for a small window of time later in the evening and even that had a strict ending time. Friends and colleagues all knew of this family’s pattern and quickly adapted. Their evening started with a daily “festival”, family dinner — learning what had happened to each that day, supporting and enjoying each other.  Thanksgiving framed the meal, before and after, with a mindful prayer to God for all they had received that day and thanks for each other’s existence.  What family does not its own way of containing digital technology in patterns that works daily for them to bring peace, rest and relaxation in a welcome, honored rhythm.

When such a pattern is well established taboos come into effect: it is a matter of disgust that a family member would violate the pattern.   Festival and taboo work hand in hand in a vibrant culture.

Families can reach out to local, like-minded families and cooperate in rekindling festivals that work well for them. Every vibrant culture has major festivals celebrating its iconic events and symbols.

Families, just like nations, need festivals that serve and honor virginity, marriage and motherhood.  Romance can be well served by St Valentine’s Day done well by those youth who know how to give their hearts ‘whole and not in parts’. Done well it would honor virginity, which honoring would have to be subtle, else sexual delicacy — of the essence of virginity — would be missing and the ‘honoring’ would be absent.

Motherhood is honored somewhat but Mother’s Day needs to become a much greater national festival; and Father’s Day needs augmenting, maybe with a masculine competitive twist with an emphasis on those fathers who qualify for the honor of ‘patriarch’.

Man needs the revival of the worship of God  — the weekly day-long celebration of key relationships — with God in worship, then with family over a nicer meal, then with friends, topped-off in favorite forms of relaxation together.  The Sabbath really is the weekly festival of thanks and enjoyment. Modern man needs this regular quiet time. One major obstacle is the large retail corporation. They are “big pigs to swallow” — technological behemoths to envelop in a rhythms of time.  Some smaller corporations pull it off:  interestingly, Chick Filet is the most profitable fast food chain but only operates six days a week.

Festivals will gradually emerge as those that work at a local level become apparent.  When they fill a big human need well the word will spread — one of the benefits of the new technologies!

Virginity, Motherhood and Culture

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Culture is like the fisherman’s net you have seen on sunny beaches.  When you lift one knot the other knots follow. This is how we rebuild culture: one person at a time, pulling a few others next to him: parents pulling children; friends pulling friends, teachers pulling students, — and when we are blessed, pastors pulling all.  

What causes this ‘pull’ between us?  Admiration, respect and joy in knowing the magnanimous one who attracts us.  

Mapping America, illustrating the strengths and weakness of the people of the US, shows that the most compellingly attractive people among us are those who have experienced the most love – the love of the intact married family, and love of God in weekly worship.   This the data show.

All living cultures have a religious core and hold women to be sacred, most especially in their virginity and motherhood.  Guarding that sacredness gives strength to families and gives to women a confidence in themselves as creators of life. This confidence is that strength only they can transmit in turn to each one of their children.   A child with such a confidence-giving mother is a gift to all.  

That is why we need those sacred cultural spaces devoted to virginity and motherhood. Men, who need to be adept at building this devotion, can bask in the confidence that this project is so powerful that a whisper sounds louder than an explosion.

 This admiration by men is joyful and gentle. It is fullness of desire in masculine form.  Such men must also be dangerous, with the danger that equips protectors of women and children. There is another space that cultivates that dangerous side of men.

Building such a culture is a task that will make men noble. It will bend the industrial, the technological and the digital to honor our women and give us the space where they can aspire to be their most attractive and men aspire to be their noblest. 

It is time to start weaving nets and pulling knots.  

For the good of the child, 

Pat Fagan, PhD

Magnanimous Humility: Rescuing Greatness from Pride

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Can a father teach his son to pursue greatness humbly? Alexandre Havard, an expert on magnanimity and formerly a professor of law at the Sorbonne, insists magnanimity is humble.  Otherwise magnanimity (the pursuit of great things) festers into pride and self-centeredness. 

I once had a professor of psychology who was commissioned by a major international health organization to lead a research team on a major child issue. This was his highest professional honor, but he mentioned it every few lectures in a self-aggrandizing way that weakened his capacity to inspire us. 

True greatness places itself at the service of others. Had he been humble, he would have used his great accomplishment to show us how to aspire to similar heights in our chosen specialties.  Who knows who among us would have become even greater. We did learn much from him and he was generous in other ways. But what opportunities our professor missed; with a humble core, how great he would have been. A savvy father wants his son to understand this difference.

In the absence of personal contact with great humble men and women, stories can instruct and inspire our children, as happened with a family friend.  Her parents divorced when she was six and she grew up as an only child in an irreligious, radical-feminist household.  Today she is a wonderful wife and mother of a large family that is extraordinarily close and competent, causing all who know them to marvel at her accomplishment, even more so considering her upbringing.

One day, discussing books with us, she mentioned she had recently handed her teenage son the novel ‘Meet the Austins’ without telling him what the book meant to her. It’s a pleasant story about a family with an understanding, nurturing mother. It had captured the imagination of our friend when she was sixteen and it became her goal in life to raise a family like the Austins. 

When her son finished the book, she asked him,

   “How’d you like it?”

    He said, “That’s us!”

Without knowing it, he had just given his mother a memory she has treasured ever since. And for us, he taught the power of stories to change lives.

The author of Meet the Austins cultivated her greatness to create a story that made it possible for a 16-year-old to aspire to her own singular greatness.  

Savvy parents make sure to have many inspiring stories in their home library collection.

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

Pat Fagan, 

P.S. I would welcome the titles of books and stories you recommend (marri.research@gmail.com)

Magnanimity: The Father Who Honors His Son

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Just as Spartan mothers told their sons to “Return with your shield or on it!” so too, great parents tutor their children in greatness, each child in his own way.

Public honors were the motivator for the great men of Greece, and to this day, we are used to drawing the best out of each other in sports: to win an Olympic gold is an honor that spurs athletes to ever-greater achievements. The great modern father teaches his son to strive in all areas of his life, not only in sports but also in his favorite subjects, his chosen field of work, in the arts, and in his areas of special gifts.  These battles extend the boundaries of his son’s soul — ultimately in the service of others. 

He teaches his son that in life you never coast. You’re either going uphill or sliding down.  You cannot coast on an inclined plane. Some try by moving sideways, but gravity distorts that journey.

Great fathers, families, schools and societies are aware of this “inclined plane” and make it clear that happiness comes from leaning into the hill. By adolescence, the well-tutored boy knows deep in his bones, the nature of this internal battle … small but, at times, intense and, like the Spartans, ever-ongoing.  

The father begins with his very young child by the way he plays with him. Taking delight in him the father draws out excellence — in a way the son loves! It might be to throw the ball a bit further, or straighter or faster.  The son who delights in his father, will push himself to that “little excellence” in order to see his father’s joy. A small honors for a small thing, but that is how the masculine “bond of doing” grows between father and son.

Though the time will come when being honored by his father alone is not sufficient, the father is prepared for this transition and teaches his son how to seek other men the son admires, men who will also draw the best out of him, and to whom he says: “I want to learn from you. What do I need to be permitted to do that?”  On being told the boy responds: “As soon as I am ready, I will be back for that honor!” Thus, the father has taught his son a strategic lesson: how to seek the one who can help expand his heart in his pursuit of excellence, and the father gets him to repeat this again and again during adolescence. 

In our times we need a civilization dedicated to excellence and can build it by seeking to be honored by those within our reach whom we hold in highest regard.  Imagine such a culture of such “honor seeking”: all seeking to be honored by those they admire and all bestowing honors on those who come to them. Such a civilization starts with fathers loving their toddlers enough to play ball when they are tired after a hard day’s work.  Such are the magnanimous men who raise magnanimous sons.

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

Pat Fagan, PhD

What a Son Needs to Win a Great Woman

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To win a great woman a boy must become a great man. The question then becomes: does his father know how to help him become a great man? How can an ordinary father grow a great son?

Many a man has known a great woman, yet did not win her because, out of fear, he failed to pursue her.  Every man understands this, both the brave man who has risked it all (and won or lost) and the timid man who did not dare.  The battle to take the great action required at these “make it or break it” moments is won or lost privately, deep in the heart.

The great man is “a big-hearted man” in the way the Greeks meant it: magnanimous.  “Magnus animus,” a great soul, a soul capable of daring great things.

The Greeks thought that magnanimity, “great soul-ness,” was a virtue meant only for extraordinary men capable of taking on great things.  For Aristotle and the Greeks, the ordinary man was not capable of being magnanimous.

But Aquinas expanded Aristotle’s understanding of magnanimity, explaining that the “ordinary man” can be magnanimous by doing ordinary things extraordinarily well for noble reasons.  Thus, an ‘ordinary working man’ can become a great father by doing fatherly tasks very well. Playing ball with his three-year-old, he can lead his little boy to pitch or kick the ball with all the flair his three years are capable of.[1]  By enjoying his son’s efforts (the boy will sense any indifference) the father becomes magnanimous. He develops a bigger heart and soul in himself and in his son by humbly placing himself at the service of the heart of his young son. As he looks at his three-year-old he sees within a powerful twenty-year-old in the making.

Dr. Tim Gray, co-founder of The St. Augustine Institute, in his lecture “The Virtue of Masculinity[2] tells a  story that brings to life this ‘magnanimity in small things’.  His 8-year-old son is on bat in the last moments of a Little League baseball cliffhanger: opponents ahead by one; he is the last hope of his team and now with two strikes, carries the honor of his team in his last swing. Will he be daring or fold in fear? He gives it his all and smacks it squarely. He is the hero of the hour.  In the crucial moment he pushed aside his fear of failing and went for the full-bodied swing.  Magnus animus. If he keeps this up, 20 years from now he will have won a great woman.

In the Father Son Project, the whole purpose of the sexual formation of the son is to help him become a great husband (a great lover of his woman) and a great father (a man capable of making his children great).  Therefore, the Father Son Project is also about growing a great heart in each father, urging him and teaching him how to lean into these small “make it or break it” moments with the hearts of his children.

 

[1] Giving great importance to magnanimity in small things, even making it a way of life, The Catholic Church made a Doctor of the Church of a twenty-four-year-old nun, Therese Martin, for her life’s work on this topic.  Her “doctoral dissertation” has become an international bestselling small paperback, The Story of a Soul.

[2] This lecture is an insight-laden response  to the subversive  “Toxic Masculinities” project of the American Psychological Association.

Acedia‘s Effect on the Use of Social Science

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I have often wondered why 25 years of strong data has made no difference to the Congressional debate on marriage, family and religious practice.  This week I was introduced to the phenomenon that explains a lot, acedia, the opposite of magnanimity or big heartedness. Acedia has no truck with data that disturbs. It seeks only pleasure.

Throughout history acedia has often accompanied prosperity.  The widespread presence of acedia among Roman higher classes scared Caesar Augustus into enacting marriage laws with draconian penalties for adultery. All this to reform the family life of the elite of Rome.

Acedia was a grave concern for the ancient Greeks and Romans, and later the Christians (Gregory the Great and Aquinas). It is a listless softness that pursues a life full of pleasures, leading in turn to passivity.  It has four major characteristics:

  • An inordinate amount of time spent on entertainment
  • Love of comfort in all things
  • Constant seeking of pleasure in food, drink and sex
  • Emotion overriding reason

Acedia robs people of the disposition to make the effort to achieve a desired good, a good they would like were it not for the price.

This passivity towards the good-not-pursued leads to:

  • Sadness / depression
  • A growing dislike of the particular good
  • Anger with those who pursue that good
  • Hatred of the good or of those who pursue it

Apply the above to modern America. With the richest economy in world history, we, like the Romans who scared Augustus, are giving up on marriage and have few children, judging them too costly. This fear of the effort involved is seen in a passivity regarding marriage and children, accompanied by the very same stages described by the ancients:

  • An epidemic of depression. One psychiatrist said (only half mockingly) that we should add Zoloft to the water supply.
  • A growing dislike of the child not pursued: child abuse and abortion are rampant.
  • Anger at the good. Witness the Women’s March on Washington and Judge Kavanagh’s confirmation farce.
  • Finally, hatred, as in the case of abortion. Neither love nor hate at their core are emotions but actions.  To kill an unborn child is to hate it.

What has this to do with data and social sciences?

Those who have reached the acedian stages of dislike, anger or hatred have no interest in good research (the truth) and can even hate it.

Given all this, what is the role of the social sciences? For those who want to pursue the good, the social sciences can show the quickest route there.  For the young and for those with an inquiring mind about human nature, the social sciences illustrate natural law.

But the clarity of the social sciences disturbs those in the throes of acedia. Hence, many professors do not teach students how to learn from the data.

This also applies to Congress and the media.

But for those looking to understand social realities, the data of the social sciences are a source of wonder and insight.

For the good of the child, the future of the world.

Pat Fagan Ph.D.

A New Deal by Grasping the Other “Third Rail”

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I was honored to be part of a meeting with some really great men who are working on connecting absent fathers to their children. Yet they are so busy they are too preoccupied to do anything about the cause, so their work grows rather than diminishes.

I understand.  Nobody wants to touch the cause. To tackle the cause of this cancer is to call down the wrath of almost everyone they work with — the parents, the extended family, most of the teachers, even the clergy.  

What causes fatherlessness?   More than anything else: out of wedlock births.  And we know what causes out of wedlock births!

What, in the past, dissuaded and prevented out of wedlock sex?  The cause was a culture that harshly punished out of wedlock births, monitored out of wedlock sex and shamed it harshly.  Taboos were present, powerful, and enforced by virtually everyone. Up to 1950 around 3% of births were out of wedlock

This culture (and its taboos) was the greatest ally parents had in shaping the sexual behavior of their children.  It taught the big lesson: sex is for marriage. Period. It was the floor below which you did not dare think of descending, or if you did you decided it was not worth the price.  Taboos constrained your choices. Taboos are the powerful defense mechanisms of society. 

Those taboos are gone.  Leaders today are afraid to lead, and we do not have a polis that permits a discussion about this.  The clergy will not speak about it, knowing that many in their congregation will rebel and go elsewhere, taking their money with them. Teachers will not speak about it. They fear getting fired. Doctors won’t touch it (most of them), though they, like teachers, see the consequences daily.  Lawyers won’t touch it, though they see the results in court every day. Actors and celebritites won’t touch it. 

Yet nobody will touch it.  Nobody wants to be the bad guy. That is why taboos were a society-wide task—spread out among all of us, for all had a stake though no-one wanted to be “the bad guy”.  Therefore, together we were, collectively, the “the bad guy”. That is how taboos work.  

This presents us with a huge problem. Taboos once violated without retribution lose their power.  That leaves us with only one option: persuasion. But how can persuasion work when a topic can’t be discussed openly and seriously?

One person has the podium big enough to get attention.  And he has the qualifications: he has violated these sexual norms, repeatedly.  Controversy is second nature to him. He is not afraid of it. He can get things done.

He has a wife who could stomach this attention and take it with calm, dignity and courage, even as he blows the lid off the topic by saying something like the following:

“You all know my history on this issue.  I can see my sexual past with increasing clarity. Many people would say I made many mistakes.  They are wrong. They were not “mistakes”. Mistakes are things that happen to you inadvertently, mainly through no fault of your own.  But I did what I wanted to do — deliberately. I did not make mistakes. I did wrong. Being blunt about it, I did things that were evil. 

“Consensual sex by a man and a woman can be one of the greatest joys on earth if they are married, but a great evil if they are not. Why? Because a baby can result!   And that baby is immediately in danger of being killed (in abortion) or having a life of pain and suffering (out of wedlock). The baby is a beautiful new being. The evil is present in the life sentence it is getting.

“I took that chance many, many times. Deliberately.  So, I have no authority to speak to anyone about being sexually pure.  But I have authority on this evil. I know it. I have practiced it. I wish I had not.  One thing you can be certain of I will not be casting any stones.  

“It is time for a new deal on matters sexual, a New Deal for Our Children.  They need it badly.   

“Our children need this new deal so that we stop wounding them through massively misguided sex.  It is time to call a spade a spade. Sex is meant for babies and love. Sex leads to babies, and babies need the love of their mother and father and their love for each other.  That is safe sex, great sex, beautiful sex, fruitful sex, challenging sex. All else is, ultimately, fake sex.  

“All babies are precious. No baby is evil. But a lot of evil can swirl around babies when they are not conceived and born in marriage.  We all know that. We all used to uphold that. Now we don’t and we pay a very big price, but no one pays a bigger one than the babies. The mothers and fathers pay, too, but not nearly as much as children do. They pay the price of evils done to them.  

“None of us can cast stones at anyone here, me least of all.  That is why I take up this topic because you know I cannot throw stones at anyone. But for our children we have to put this genie back in the bottle.  The genie is sex. The bottle is marriage.

“The baby is safest there, happiest there, healthiest there, wealthiest there, most learned there, most capable there, lives longest there.  We owe this to every baby. There is not a baby in existence who does not deserve the stable marriage of its parents. It is not only its birthright. It is its conception-right.  

“I have a great wife – better than I deserve.  How she puts up with me I will never understand.  Imagine having to live with me. How she loves me is a mystery.  Without her support I could not even think of speaking about this.  I am in awe of her that she permitted me to do so.

“But we need many others to speak:

“Governors, who want children to have their due.

“Actors and sports celebrities who want every child to have its due;

“Jail birds …yes, jailbirds. Many of them know these truths better than most of us do.  What it did to them and what they in turn have done to their children. 

“Many will say that I ought to be silent on this issue but the powerful in our county would speak up on this.  But they don’t: though almost all of them have married intact families. Here in the nation’s capital almost 90 percent of teenagers in the professional, wealthy Northwest DC are living with their married biological parents?  In Southeast DC where the poor live it is 9 percent.  

“The successful in life live this way but they are afraid to speak this way in public.  That is why I am speaking up for all our children. They need someone to speak for them, even if it turns out to be me. 

“For men this is about turning over a new leaf.  It is about honoring the woman in our lives by putting a ring on her finger before taking her to bed.

“We want to reduce fatherlessness.  If you are not for marriage you are for fatherlessness.  With marriage we will heal so many things that have gone wrong:

  • Poverty
  • School drop out
  • STDs and so many other illnesses
  • Child physical and sexual abuse
  • Violence in the family
  • Violence the neighborhood.

“And we will produce 

  • Increased happiness
  • Increased learning
  • Increased income and savings
  • Longer life
  • Healthier life
  • And better sex!  Yes, better, more frequent more enjoyable sex.

“What a deal!  

Money, Love, and Time

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Twice in my life I have had a look inside the female universe, bypassing the protections by which women naturally keep men out of certain conversations.  The first time, while I was in graduate school, was a Sunday walk with some single friends, male and female.  There were no romantic pairings and at one stage all the men were walking together ahead.  I was held up for a moment and overheard the young women behind me.  Amazed and intrigued, I resumed walking ahead but staying in earshot. They were assessing the income potential of each of us guys.  Two were medical school students, one was a lawyer, one an architect and I was a Ph.D. candidate in psychology. These women knew the income effect on lifestyles and family life (and ranked psychology pretty low!) The amazing thing to me was that this was not a “gold-diggers” conversation — they were all nice young women — but it clearly was an easy conversation for young women to have about the young men they might become interested in.  Of course, they were right:  they would have to depend on that income for a lot of what they were hoping to achieve during their life. They were wise to be clear about that before they set anything in motion.

(The second inside look inside the female universe has the makings of another blog — someday soon.)

Many great novels have dealt with this theme of the impact of income on the decision to marry, and we all relate to that.  I, too, had a similar role a few years ago, when a future son-in-law came asking for my blessing on his proposal to my daughter.  He was a good man and I gave him my blessing but only after we had a course-correcting chat about his education/income track.

Income is a key ingredient to a good marriage.  Any young man wanting to win his fair lady had better take care of this dimension, for money and time are interchangeable.  The more money he makes, the more time he will be able to devote to his wife and children, who will (subconsciously) measure his love of them by the time he gives to them, though in hard times they see their father’s long hours of work as loving them, especially if their mother sees it so. But aside from such circumstances, love and time-giving are almost equivalent. Good income makes that gift possible.

The good father passes on this wisdom to his so, most especially if he begins, during adolescence, to slacken off on schoolwork in favor of chasing girls because, inadvertently, he may be setting up his future loss of the girl of his dreams!

If the father is close to his sons, it is unlikely they will be out “chasing girls”.  What is more likely is either they are holding off or they have already set their heart on the girl of their dreams. Either way their future looks good though their income levels may be different.

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

Pat Fagan