Why Fathers Matter

Paul Raeburn is a journalist who specializes in research on fathers and fatherhood (see his blog here). Raeburn summarized some of his findings in a recent article.

Fathers, it turns out, contribute far more to their children than many of us realize.

Those contributions begin during pregnancy, before fathers and their children have even met. Studies show that the death rate of infants whose fathers were not around during pregnancy is nearly four times that of those with engaged dads. And depression in fathers during their partners’ pregnancies — which is more common than most people realize — can increase the child’s lifelong risk of depression.

After birth, children whose fathers play with them, read to them, take them on outings, and care for them have fewer behavioral problems during their early school years. And they have a lower risk of delinquency or criminal behavior as adolescents.

For many of us this is old news. But in a culture where fathers are widely ridiculed as bumbling, unimportant—or even dangerous—it refreshing to see someone take the subject seriously.

Raeburn has compiled the latest research on the role of fathers in childhood development in his new book, Do Fathers Matter?: What Science Is Telling Us About the Parent We’ve Overlooked (Scientific American / FSG, 2014).

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The Solution Is Not Political

As another election cycle heats up, we are once again being bombarded with campaign ads urging us to vote for this or that candidate because—you guessed it—the fate of the country depends on it!

Yet if recent trends are any indication, it is likely that no matter which political party we entrust with power, the level of corruption and negativity will remain unchanged or even worsen.

Shouldn’t that give us a clue? The solution to our nation’s problems is not political or partisan, because the problems are not political or partisan. They are spiritual and moral. Our political dysfunction is merely a symptom of a more serious disease.

In 1798, John Adams wrote a letter to officers of the Massachusetts Militia. In that letter he identified the Achilles heel of our nation’s strength:

We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. 1

Read that carefully: Human passions unbridled by morality and religion. That’s where we’re at as a nation now, and we are paying a steep price for our liberation. The coarseness and conflict that permeate our culture, including our politics, flow out of deeper wells of spiritual depravity: pride, envy, greed, lust, selfishness. We are rapidly ceasing to be a moral and religious people, so our form of government—being “wholly inadequate to the government of any other”—is gradually breaking down. Our political fortunes will never recover until the character of our people recovers.

That’s why I’m a preacher, not a politician. What our nation needs is not more political grandstanding, but amazing grace. At the moment, sadly, not many are interested in that solution.

1 John Adams, The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States: with a Life of the Author, Notes and Illustrations, by his Grandson Charles Francis Adams (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1856). 10 volumes. Vol. 9. 9/25/2014. http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/2107#lf1431-09_head_222.

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The Roots — and Fruits — of Radical Feminism

Mallory Millet is the sister of Kate Millet, an early pioneer in the radical feminist movement and author of numerous books that are required reading in Women’s Studies courses. In a recent article, Mallory unmasks the Marxist and anti-family foundation underlying much of modern feminism, and the human misery it leaves in its wake:

 It was clear they desired nothing less than the utter deconstruction of Western society. The upshot was that the only way to do this was “to invade every American institution.  Every one must be permeated with ‘The Revolution’”: The media, the educational system, universities, high schools, K-12, school boards, etc.; then, the judiciary, the legislatures, the executive branches and even the library system. . . .

I’ve known women who fell for this creed in their youth who now, in their fifties and sixties, cry themselves to sleep decades of countless nights grieving for the children they’ll never have and the ones they coldly murdered because they were protecting the empty loveless futures they now live with no way of going back.  “Where are my children?  Where are my grandchildren?” they cry to me. . . .

The girls have been up to something for years and it’s really not good. It’s evil. We should be sick to our souls over it.  I know I am. And so, mass destruction, the inevitable outcome of all socialist/communist experiments, leaves behind its signature trail of wreckage.

So much grace, femininity and beauty lost.

So many ruined lives.

As the impact of second- and third-wave feminism continues to reverberate through society, more and more women are awakening to the destructive effects of the movement and rejecting it. I fear, however, that the movement–and the destruction–has not yet run its course.

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Life at the Bottom

I’m currently reading Theodore Dalrymple’s Life at the Bottom: The Worldview that Makes the Underclass (Ivan R. Dee, 2001), a collection of essays written through the 1990s.  Dalrymple (pseudonym for Anthony Daniels) is a retired prison doctor and psychiatrist who spent a good portion of his career working in Great Britain’s National Health Service among the underprivileged. His experiences there gave him a unique insight into the circumstances that created and sustains the permanent underclass that exists in many Western countries.

Dalrymple argues that the source of the misery that plagues the underclass is not genetic, economic, political, or racial, but intellectual. People create their own hell out of the poor decisions they make, decisions based on a faulty view of how life works. He explains in the Introduction:

Human behavior cannot be explained without reference to the meaning and intentions people give to their acts and omissions. . . . It is the ideas my patients have that fascinate—and to be honest, appall—me; for they are the source of their misery.

Their ideas make themselves manifest even in the language they use. . . . An alcoholic, explaining his misconduct while drunk, will say, “the beer went mad.” A heroin addict, explaining his resort to the needle, will say, “Heroin’s everywhere.” It is as if the beer drank the alcoholic and the heroin injected the addict.

Dalrymple is not blaming the victim here, at least not entirely. He points to a deeper problem that has led to this twisted thinking:

Most of the social pathology exhibited by the underclass has its origin in ideas that have filtered down from the intelligentsia. . . . The climate of moral, cultural, and intellectual relativism—a relativism that began as a mere fashionable plaything for intellectuals—has been successfully communicated to those least able to resist its devastating practical effects.

Those “devastating practical effects,” in turn, take their revenge on the rest of society, as sloppy decision-making percolates through the entire culture.

. . . If blame is to be apportioned, it is the intellectuals who deserve most of it. They should have known better but always preferred to avert their gaze. They considered the purity of  their ideas to be more important than the actual consequences of their ideas.

A civilization collapses when those responsible for its cultural heritage fall asleep on their watch. The darkness that descended upon our intellectual class several generations ago is now bearing its ugly fruit.

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Old Things Have Become New

Christians today are routinely labeled as intolerant, bigoted, hateful, and generally a threat to civil society. Michael Kruger notes that these charges are not new. In fact, they bear a remarkable resemblance to the kind of complaints that Roman authorities had toward the early Christians. He relates examples in the writings of Pliny the Younger and Tacitus, then concludes:

The stories of Pliny and Nero are both encouraging and frightening. They are frightening because they sound eerily similar to the kind of language and accusations being used today against Christians. But instead of Christians being asked to pay homage to the Roman gods to prove their acceptability, they are now being asked to pay homage to the gods of tolerance or homosexual marriage or other practices forbidden by Scripture.

At the same time, these stories are encouraging. They remind us that this sort of persecution isn’t new. Indeed, this persecution was not the end of Christianity but the beginning. In the midst of it, the church thrived and expanded.

The flak is heaviest when you’re over the target. Press on.

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Video #4 – Does Religion Poison Everything?

It’s easy to knock religion as the source of much of the conflict in the world. But before we throw it under the bus, we should apply the same standard to other human enterprises.

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Wanna Be Free?

The mantra of our society is “freedom,” which leads many to reject God, morality, and accountability. But Tim Keller explains why, in the absence of these elements, life has no meaning and “freedom” is anything but. If you want to understand why our culture is in such a mess, this will be thirty minutes of your time well spent.

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