If it’s bad for the family, it’s bad

This truism, that almost sums up everything you need to know about Catholic Social Teaching, is grasped by The Quartermaster of the Barque, and gives me an excuse posting this essay by Chesterton (and I need little excuse for posting Chesterton):

THE DRIFT FROM DOMESTICITY

IN the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.”

This paradox rests on the most elementary common sense. The gate or fence did not grow there. It was not set up by somnambulists who built it in their sleep. It is highly improbable that it was put there by escaped lunatics who were for some reason loose in the street. Some person had some reason for thinking it would be a good thing for somebody. And until we know what the reason was, we really cannot judge whether the reason was reasonable. It is extremely probable that we have overlooked some whole aspect of the question, if something set up by human beings like ourselves seems to be entirely meaningless and mysterious. There are reformers who get over this difficulty by assuming that all their fathers were fools; but if that be so, we can only say that folly appears to be a hereditary disease. But the truth is that nobody has any business to destroy a social institution until he has really seen it as an historical institution. If he knows how it arose, and what purposes it was supposed to serve, he may really be able to say that they were bad purposes, or that they have since become bad purposes, or that they are purposes which are no longer served. But if he simply stares at the thing as a senseless monstrosity that has somehow sprung up in his path, it is he and not the traditionalist who is suffering from an illusion. We might even say that he is seeing things in a nightmare. This principle applies to a thousand things, to trifles as well as true institutions, to convention as well as to conviction. It was exactly the sort of person, like Joan of Arc, who did know why women wore skirts, who was most justified in not wearing one; it was exactly the sort of person, like St. Francis, who did sympathise with the feast and the fireside, who was most entitled to become a beggar on the open road. And when, in the general emancipation of modern society, the Duchess says she does not see why she shouldn’t play leapfrog, or the Dean declares that he sees no valid canonical reason why he should not stand on his head, we may say to these persons with patient benevolence: “Defer, therefore, the operation you contemplate until you have realised by ripe reflection what principle or prejudice you are violating. Then play leapfrog and stand on your head and the Lord be with you.”

Among the traditions that are being thus attacked, not intelligently but most unintelligently, is the fundamental human creation called the Household or the Home. That is a typical thing which men attack, not because they can see through it, but because they cannot see it at all. They beat at it blindly, in a fashion entirely haphazard and opportunist; and many of them would pull it down without even pausing to ask why it was ever put up. It is true that only a few of them would have avowed this object in so many words. That only proves how very blind and blundering they are. But they have fallen into a habit of mere drift and gradual detachment from family life; something that is often merely accidental and devoid of any definite theory at all. But though it is accidental it is none the less anarchical. And it is all the more anarchical for not being anarchist. It seems to be largely founded on individual irritation; an irritation which varies with the individual. We are merely told that in this or that case a particular temperament was tormented by a particular environment; but nobody even explained how the evil arose, let alone whether the evil is really escaped. We are told that in this or that family Grandmamma talked a great deal of nonsense, which God knows is true; or that it is very difficult to have intimate intellectual relations with Uncle Gregory without telling him he is a fool, which is indeed the case. But nobody seriously considers the remedy, or even the malady; or whether the existing individualistic dissolution is a remedy at all. Much of this business began with the influence of Ibsen, a very powerful dramatist and an exceedingly feeble philosopher. I suppose that Nora of THE DOLL’S HOUSE was intended to be an inconsequent person; but certainly her most inconsequent action was her last. She complained that she was not yet fit to look after children, and then proceeded to get as far as possible from the children, that she might study them more closely.

There is one simple test and type of this neglect of scientific thinking and the sense of a social rule; the neglect which has now left us with nothing but a welter of exceptions. I have read hundreds and thousands of times, in all the novels and newspapers of our epoch, certain phrases about the just right of the young to liberty, about the unjust claim of the elders to control, about the conception that all souls must be free or all citizens equal, about the absurdity of authority or the degradation of obedience. I am not arguing those matters directly at the moment. But what strikes me as astounding, in a logical sense, is that not one of these myriad novelists and newspaper-men ever seems to think of asking the next and most obvious question. It never seems to occur to them to enquire what becomes of the opposite obligation. If the child is free from the first to disregard the parent, why is not the parent free from the first to disregard the child? If Mr. Jones, Senior, and Mr. Jones, Junior, are only two free and equal citizens, why should one citizen sponge on another citizen for the first fifteen years of his life? Why should the elder Mr. Jones be expected to feed, clothe and shelter out of his own pocket another person who is entirely free of any obligations to him? If the bright young thing cannot be asked to tolerate her grandmother, who has become something of a bore, why should the grandmother or the mother have tolerated the bright young thing at a period of her life when she was by no means bright? Why did they laboriously look after her at a time when her contributions to the conversation were seldom epigrammatic and not often intelligible? Why should Jones Senior stand drinks and free meals to anybody so unpleasant as Jones Junior, especially in the immature phases of his existence? Why should he not throw the baby out of the window; or at any rate, kick the boy out of doors? It is obvious that we are dealing with a real relation, which may be equality, but is certainly not similarity.

Some social reformers try to evade this difficulty, I know, by some vague notions about the State or an abstraction called Education eliminating the parental function. But this, like many notions of solid scientific persons, is a wild illusion of the nature of mere moonshine. It is based on that strange new superstition, the idea of infinite resources of organisation. It is as if officials grew like grass or bred like rabbits. There is supposed to be an endless supply of salaried persons, and of salaries for them; and they are to undertake all that human beings naturally do for themselves; including the care of children. But men cannot live by taking in each other’s baby-linen. They cannot provide a tutor for each citizen; who is to tutor the tutors? Men cannot be educated by machinery; and though there might be a Robot bricklayer or scavenger, there will never be a Robot schoolmaster or governess. The actual effect of this theory is that one harassed person has to look after a hundred children, instead of one normal person looking after a normal number of them. Normally that normal person is urged by a natural force, which costs nothing and does not require a salary; the force of natural affection for his young, which exists even among the animals. If you cut off that natural force, and substitute a paid bureaucracy, you are like a fool who should pay men to turn the wheel of his mill, because he refused to use wind or water which he could get for nothing. You are like a lunatic who should carefully water his garden with a watering-can, while holding up an umbrella to keep off the rain.

It is now necessary to recite these truisms; for only by doing so can we begin to get a glimpse of that REASON for the existence of the family, which I began this essay by demanding. They were all familiar to our fathers, who believed in the links of kinship and also in the links of logic. To-day our logic consists mostly of missing links; and our family largely of absent members. But, anyhow, this is the right end at which to begin any such enquiry; and not at the tail-end or the fag-end of some private muddle, by which Dick has become discontented or Susan has gone off on her own. If Dick or Susan wish to destroy the family because they do not see the use of it, I say as I said in the beginning; if they do not see the use of it, they had much better preserve it. They have no business even to think of destroying it until they have seen the use of it.

But it has other uses, besides the obvious fact that it means a necessary social work being done for love when it cannot be done for money; and (one might almost dare to hint) presumably to be repaid with love since it is never repaid in money. On that simple side of the matter the general situation is easy to record. The existing and general system of society, subject in our own age and industrial culture to very gross abuses and painful problems, is nevertheless a normal one. It is the idea that the commonwealth is made up of a number of small kingdoms, of which a man and a woman become the king and queen and in which they exercise a reasonable authority, subject to the common sense of the commonwealth, until those under their care grow up to found similar kingdoms and exercise similar authority. This is the social structure of mankind, far older than all its records and more universal than any of its religions; and all attempts to alter it are mere talk and tomfoolery.

But the other advantage of the small group is now not so much neglected as simply not realised. Here again we have some extraordinary delusions spread all over the literature and journalism of our time. Those delusions now exist in such a degree that we may say, for all practical purposes, that when a thing has been stated about a thousand times as obviously true, it is almost certain to be obviously false. One such statement may be specially noted here. There is undoubtedly something to be said against domesticity and in favour of the general drift towards life in hotels, clubs, colleges, communal settlements and the rest; or for a social life organised on the plan of the great commercial systems of our time. But the truly extraordinary suggestion is often made that this escape from the home is an escape into greater freedom. The change is actually offered as favourable to liberty.

To anybody who can think, of course, it is exactly the opposite. The domestic division of human society is not perfect, being human. It does not achieve complete liberty; a thing somewhat difficult to do or even to define. But it is a mere matter of arithmetic that it puts a larger number of people in supreme control of something, and able to shape it to their personal liking, than do the vast organisations that rule society outside; whether those systems are legal or commercial or even merely social. Even if we were only considering the parents, it is plain that there are more parents than there are policemen or politicians or heads of big businesses or proprietors of hotels. As I shall suggest in a moment, the argument actually applies indirectly to the children as well as directly to the parents. But the main point is that the world OUTSIDE the home is now under a rigid discipline and routine and it is only inside the home that there is really a place for individuality and liberty. Anyone stepping out of the front-door is obliged to step into a procession, all going the same way and to a great extent even obliged to wear the same uniform. Business, especially big business, is now organised like an army. It is, as some would say, a sort of mild militarism without bloodshed; as I should say, a militarism without the military virtues. But anyhow, it is obvious that a hundred clerks in a bank or a hundred waitresses in a teashop are more regimented and under rule than the same individuals when each has gone back to his or her own dwelling or lodging, hung with his or her favourite pictures or fragrant with his or her favourite cheap cigarettes. But this, which is so obvious in the commercial case, is no less true even in the social case. In practice, the pursuit of pleasure is merely the pursuit of fashion. The pursuit of fashion is merely the pursuit of convention; only that it happens to be a new convention. The jazz dances, the joy rides, the big pleasure parties and hotel entertainments, do not make any more provision for a REALLY independent taste than did any of the fashions of the past. If a wealthy young lady wants to do what all the other wealthy young ladies are doing, she will find it great fun, simply because youth is fun and society is fun. She will enjoy being modern exactly as her Victorian grandmother enjoyed being Victorian. And quite right too; but it is the enjoyment of convention, not the enjoyment of liberty. It is perfectly healthy for all young people of all historic periods to herd together, to a reasonable extent, and enthusiastically copy each other. But in that there is nothing particularly fresh and certainly nothing particularly free. The girl who likes shaving her head and powdering her nose and wearing short skirts will find the world organised for her and will march happily with the procession. But a girl who happened to like having her hair down to her heels or loading herself with barbaric gauds and trailing garments or (most awful of all) leaving her nose in its natural state– she will still be well advised to do these things on her own premises. If the Duchess does want to play leap frog, she must not start suddenly leaping in the manner of a frog across the ballroom of the Babylon Hotel, when it is crowded with the fifty best couples professionally practising the very latest dance, for the instruction of society. The Duchess will find it easier to practise leap frog to the admiration of her intimate friends in the old oak-panelled hall of Fitzdragon Castle. If the Dean must stand on his head, he will do it with more ease and grace in the calm atmosphere of the Deanery than by attempting to interrupt the programme of some social entertainment already organised for philanthropic purposes.

If there is this impersonal routine in commercial and even in social things, it goes without saying that it exists and always must exist in political and legal things. For instance, the punishments of the State must be sweeping generalisations. It is only the punishments of the home that can possibly be adapted to the individual case; because it is only there that the judge can know anything of the individual. If Tommy takes a silver thimble out of a work-basket, his mother may act very differently according as she knows that he did it for fun or for spite or to sell to somebody, or to get somebody into trouble. But if Tomkins takes a silver thimble out of a shop, the law not only can but must punish him according to the rule made for all shoplifters or stealers of silver. It is only the domestic discipline that can show any sympathy or especially any humour. I do not say that the family always does do this; but I say that the State never ought to attempt it. So that even if we consider the parents alone as independent princes, and the children merely as subjects, the relative freedom of the family can and often does work to the advantage of those subjects. But so long as the children are children, they will always be the subjects of somebody. The question is whether they are to be distributed naturally under their natural princes, as the old phrase went, who normally feel for them what nobody else will feel, a natural affection. It seems to me clear that this normal distribution gives the largest amount of liberty to the largest number of people.

My complaint of the anti-domestic drift is that it is unintelligent. People do not know what they are doing; because they do not know what they are undoing. There are a multitude of modern manifestations, from the largest to the smallest, ranging from a divorce to a picnic party. But each is a separate escape or evasion; and especially an evasion of the point at issue. People ought to decide in a philosophical fashion whether they desire the traditional social order or not; or if there is any particular alternative to be desired. As it is they treat the public question merely as a mess or medley of private questions. Even in being anti-domestic they are much too domestic in their test of domesticity. Each family considers only its own case and the result is merely narrow and negative. Each case is an exception to a rule that does not exist. The family, especially in the modern state, stands in need of considerable correction and reconstruction; most things do in the modern state. But the family mansion should be preserved or destroyed or rebuilt; it should not be allowed to fall to pieces brick by brick because nobody has any historic sense of the object of bricklaying. For instance, the architects of the restoration should rebuild the house with wide and easily opened doors, for the practice of the ancient virtue of hospitality. In other words, private property should be distributed with sufficiently decent equality to allow of a margin for festive intercourse. But the hospitality of a house will always be different from the hospitality of a hotel. And it will be different in being more individual, more independent, more interesting than the hospitality of a hotel. It is perfectly right that the young Browns and the young Robinsons should meet and mix and dance and make asses of themselves, according to the design of their Creator. But there will always be some difference between the Browns entertaining the Robinsons and the Robinsons entertaining the Browns. And it will be a difference to the advantage of variety, of personality, of the potentialities of the mind of man; or, in other words, of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

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  • captcrisis

    Who exactly is attacking the family? Everyone agrees that families are good, that a happy home life is essential for children to grow up healthy, good, and productive.

    The problem is that to the modern mind, the prerequisite of the family is a couple united in love. To Catholic Social Teaching, the prerequisite is an erect penis ejaculating into a vagina.

    • Hezekiah Garrett

      I don’t think you can define “love” any better than you elucidate Catholic Social Teaching.

      • captcrisis

        It excludes gay couples, and includes fertile couple who don’t love each other. So I say it is quite (you might say) divorced from “love” as a prerequisite.

        • zoltan

          How is it loving to tell people it’s okay to commit a terrible sin (homosexual sex acts)? You are telling them you don’t care about their souls which is not love at all.

          “Love wills the good of the one loved.” Love is not mealy-mouthed apologies for horrific sins denounced in the Holy Scriptures.

    • chezami

      Corporations that suppress the middle class and force both parents to work multiple jobs attack the family.

      People who support no fault divorce attack the family.

      People who oppose social safety nets for the poor attack the family.

      People who support abortion attack the family.

      People who ridicule marriage attack the family.

      People who redefine the words “Marriage” and “family” attack the family.

      Just for starters.

      • Michaelus

        Dare I add people who support gigantic intrusive Government educational prisons attack the family?

        • Dan C

          Sure. But I will defend my public education as superb done by dedicated, committed teachers to whom I owe much of my life.

          My wife teaches in a charter school. My brother runs them. Many family members and friends are teachers.

          Let’s have at it.

          I loved school, my children at a public school are receiving an exquisite education. And as far as a work place that supports the teacher, while salary is low, my friend, a teacher, who became disabled this year, is well-cared for, as she should be, as a consequence of her benefits.

          Let’s have at it. Since you insult the legitimate work effort of many many teachers, I will take the unpopular role of defending teachers and schools.

          • Andy

            I think he is referring to the Common Core hassles.

            • Dan C

              He seems to be an anti-government dude. It’s not just Common Core. He felt like that anti-government nonsense oozed out of him.

          • Dave G.

            My wife was a teacher. We now homeschool. We were the last ones to just throw out random accusations and typically gave school systems and teachers the benefit of a few doubts. Nonetheless, our children received anything but an exquisite education. The problems continued until we finally had enough and pulled them to homeschool – something we never imagined we would do. So sometimes it can be a matter of personal experience.

            • Dan C

              I agree and inadequate education is inadequate.

              Simcha Fisher had a post on this recently.

              Does this indicate that such things as NCLB or other standards are needed?

              One important thing we know in organizations, if there are no standards, the organization behaves as if there are no standards.

              • Dave G.

                I’m not sure there is a single solution to the problems in schools. Like so many problems, I think the causes are legion, for they are many. My wife, basing on her experience, said that a major ongoing problem was the tendency to embrace new strategies and standards and approaches to education before really thinking them through, or testing them, or even waiting to see if the last batch of revolutionary approaches to education were working. No sooner had the last round of ‘fixing the problem’ been implemented, than a whole new battery of fixes came by. And at least in our area, that was certainly easy to see. Sometimes it almost looked desperate.

                • Dan C

                  Stability is key, again I agree.

                  I am not for changing what works, knowing, as my sister-in-law, an orthopedic surgeon will say, “Better is the enemy of good.”

          • Michaelus

            Can you as a superbly educated person explain why “gigantic intrusive Government educational prison” means “legitimate work of …teachers”? No, actually you cannot.

            Teachers existed prior to the Department of Education, the gigantic, powerful self serving teachers unions, the gigantic State Education Departments, hoards of Government busy-bodies dictating what children eat etc. Schools also existed prior to Government educational prisons. I do not insult teachers at all.

            • Dan C

              Sure you do. Most of the work product they do is part of this Prison Complex or whatever anti-government fantasy you fascinate yourself with.

              The work they do now and today is part and parcel, by almost all teachers in the US, by this evil Machine you claim exists as some Frankenstein.

              Go at it dude. It’s all part of the Catholic Culture War, may it rage forever amen.

              • Michaelus

                Did you read the Chesterton piece – particularly para. 5? Is he insulting teachers? He did not call schools prisons but he died before metal detectors, armed guards, dead bolted front doors etc. became common in schools.

                • Dan C

                  Yes. He attacks their work. He would at least man up and admit it.

      • captcrisis

        Yes, no, yes, no, yes, and no. I am applying one consistent principle — Love. You are applying Catholic legalisms.

    • Dan C

      “The problem is that to the modern mind, the prerequisite of the family is a couple united in love. To Catholic Social Teaching, the prerequisite is an erect penis ejaculating into a vagina.”

      I am instinctively hostile to this comment. But I would be interested in an elucidation of this point of view.

      My common thesis: common conservatives know less about liberals and hate them instinctively at this point, and as such have no ability to engage matters of Truth they present. CST is one such Truth.

      But I would just like the quotes paragraph defended. It is rather insulting.

      Because this paragraph is all about The Holy Catholic Culture War (may it rage forever amen).

      • captcrisis

        A man with permanent impotence cannot marry in the Catholic Church, and therefore cannot form a family with legal protection. This is true no matter how much he and his fiancee love each other.

        But a penis ejaculating into a vagina? The Catholic Church doesn’t care if they love each other — it can be an arranged marriage. But they can get married in the Catholic Church.

        • zoltan

          The marriage must be consented to, even if it’s arranged (not a boogeyman word).

    • Mike

      But NOT every child deserves DIVERSITY in the house i.e. a women and a man! Some kids just don’t deserve gender diversity in their homes and some DO NOT deserve their bio mom or dad, some do some don’t! Some kids really do deserve a mom and a dad while others do not!

      😉

    • Andy

      The attack is not in words – it is in actions — denying health care to families is an attack, scheduling work hours with little notice so parents cannot plan to be with their children is an attack on the family, failing to recognize that a child who is sick and has to stay at home and needs a parent present is an attack on the family. The worship of mammon and moloch is an attack on the family.
      Your comments about Catholic Social Teaching indicate that you have not really read Catholic Social Teaching.

    • neoconned

      What does “united in love” mean?

      • Mike

        It means a polyamorous union, or a throuple or anything else you want it to mean.

        • captcrisis

          Hardly. People who are in love tend to know it. And many decided to commit to each other.

          • Barbara

            Until the lovey dovey feelings run out, then it’s off to the divorce court then a second and third go round with the next “loving union” while the children from marriage #1 have to suck it up, swallow their pain and go along with mom and dad’s new circumstances. Because if mom and dad are self fulfilled, the kids will be alright….stewing in a deep vat of unacknowledged sorrow and anger, but they will survive. Hey, love makes its own rules, amirite?

            • captcrisis

              Another stereotype of liberals.

              • Barbara

                Not a stereotype. These were my parents

                • captcrisis

                  Well that does explain something about you. I sympathize, but you shouldn’t think that they were typical.

                  • Barbara

                    My story is not uncommon at all. Especially nowadays, and it is getting less and less uncommon with ART, gay marriage and the like. Ideas have consequences, are you afraid to face the fallout of yours?

              • Barbara

                Does it ever occur to you that your ideas have consequences, negative ones? By shifting the grounding of family from something solid and objective, biology, to something vaporous and subjective, feelings, ( because the liberal concept of love is all feeling based and not, as in Catholicism, an act of the will) you pretty much ensure that divorce becomes common. If family is feelings, than what do you do when the feelings change? Or when you find someone who makes you feel happier than your current spouse? You do what the baby boomers and their offspring do, get a divorce. After all, why should a silly thing like a solemn vow get in the way of your journey of self fulfillment? I grew up in the world you fight for. I had its catechisms on my tongue for most of my adult life ” the kids will be happy if you’re happy. All that matters is that they are loved.” Now I see it for what it is, a kind of bloodless child-sacrifice. Adults need to be fulfilled, if it’s with the father of their children, fine, if it’s with some guy she met at work relegating dad to weekends, it’s all the same. So the kids are forced to go along with it, to reconfigure their lives painfully.

              • http://janalynmarie.blogspot.com/ Beadgirl

                Not a stereotype, I can point you to all sorts of examples like that (and I *am* a liberal!). I think Barbara has a very good point in distinguishing between love as romantic feelings (which may or may not last, and will probably change over time) and love as an act of will.

                You write repeatedly about love in relationships, and I’d like to know what exactly you mean by it. That arranged marriage you mention dismissively could very well be a loving marriage, even if there is no romantic love, if the couple agree to respect and care for each other and any children they might have, to put each other first.

            • neoconned

              Couldn’t have said it better myself!

          • neoconned

            “..tend to know it…?” Think about that…

            • captcrisis

              A rhetorical understatement. Like, “rocks tend to fall down rather than up”. People who are in long-term committed relationships know they’re in love.

          • Mike

            I am in love with my pets.

    • Barbara

      Every human being is the product of a penis ejaculating into a vagina. Is it too much to ask that those penises and vaginas be committed to one another and to the people they create? Sexual morality is a kind of justice. It’s justice to the innocent and vulnerable people created by the act.

      • captcrisis

        So it that then the *only* family? I don’t kow of anyone who is advocating that biological parents not be allowed to form a family.

        • Barbara

          No, but the modern, “feelings” based concept of family laterally advocates making optional the right of children to their biological heritage. It’s a kind of body-denying Gnosticism which is going to cause an enormous amount of grief to the young people growing up in it. People want to know where they come from. It’s part of our nature to look to our roots for understanding of ourselves. The modern world is deracinating the next generation, all so that adults can experience “self fulfillment”

          • captcrisis

            Just about everything you say is not true. No, most children don’t care where they come from. What they care about is being loved.

            • Barbara

              Wrong. Everyone at some time or another wants to connect to their roots. Ask any person who was adopted. Maybe this is not an issue for them as children, but as they get older they start to feel the loss. Love is not a replacement for biology. As embodied human beings, we need both.

              • captcrisis

                I think this is an overstatement. A lot of adopted children don’t care aside from passing musings. Love is primary; biology is secondary.

                • Barbara

                  I really question whether you understand what love is. We are embodied beings, not angels or energy-spirits. There is no “I” outside of my physical reality. Biology is a huge part of my “I”, I see little flickers of myself in the chain of people who came before me, and you would deny that to the next generation. I think your concept of love is as disembodied as your concept of family. It’s virtual-love a kind of Care-Bears sentimentality that flees at the merest touch of pain. Real love sacrifices itself for the good of the other to the point of death. The generation that held together difficult marriages for the sake of the children understood this, the one that dissolved marriages in the name of adult happiness did not. Indeed, the generation that spoke the most about love knew it the least of all.

                  • captcrisis

                    “Real love sacrifices itself for the good of the other to the point of death.”

                    This is actually unrelated to biology, at least with humans. An adoptive parent may sacrifice herself for her adoptive child; while unfortunately many biological parents would not.

                    • Barbara

                      True, but the same philosophy that ignores or diminishes our biology also makes family cohesion dependent on changeable emotions. It’s not love vs. biology, both are important components of family life. Liberals bizarre, neocartesian disregard for human biology is baffling and, frankly, insensitive to those who have experienced the real pain of family loss, deprivation or breakdown. Losing a parent to divorce, or lacking one for whatever reason, even single parenting, ART, and gay marriage, is a source of real pain for real people. Are those who experience this pain supposed to merely bury it because children’s well being takes a back seat to adult happiness?

                    • captcrisis

                      Not any more real than the loss of an adoptive parent of many years.

                      You are placing a mother’s rapist on a higher plane than a loving adoptive parent — or the man that she eventually decides to marry — and I just refuse to see it that way.

                    • Barbara

                      And you are completely distorting my argument. My main point is that you can’t pull a thread out of the tapestry out of someone’s life without causing that person grief, and family of origin is a significant one for many people. I never once placed biology above love. I merely suggested that both are important. I refuse to accept that one must come before or after the other. To do so is like saying “Air is more important than water”. For survival you need both.

                      Actually this conversation has been illuminating. It has shown me that liberal philosophy is characterized by disregard for the body. I didn’t know this before, especially since Soul-body dualism is an accusation launched by liberals at Catholics, but the idea that our biological reality means something is what you seem to be fighting against.

                    • zoltan

                      And yet the biological parents are far less likely to abuse, rape, or murder the child than an adopted parent. Clearly there is something in biology.

                  • captcrisis

                    Most marriages dissolve for the sake of the happiness of the children, not the parents. You have a cartoonish view of divorce.

                    • Barbara

                      Citation needed. In my own experience all of the divorced couples I know did so because they were unhappy. The children’s potential unhappiness was used as justification.

                    • chezami

                      Most marriages dissolve because one of the partners has chosen to be massively selfish and destroy the marriage.

            • http://janalynmarie.blogspot.com/ Beadgirl

              If that were true, then why do so many adoptees (even those raised by wonderful, loving parents) and children created via sperm and egg donation want to learn more about their origins?

        • Jonk

          Aside from those who argue that children belong to the state, and parents are just caretakers. And those who want to criminalize parental decisions regarding the proper age and situation for unsupervised play. And pretty much everyone with an objection to infant baptism.

          I could go on, but you get the idea.

  • Rebecca Fuentes

    Which of Chesterton’s writing would you recommend someone start with?

    • Mike

      I’d recommend the man who was thursday.

    • http://www.likelierthings.com/ Jon W

      It depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re interested in his essays for their social commentary, I think What’s Wrong with the World is a good place to start. If you’re more interested in the theological or philosophical side, dip into both Heretics and Orthodoxy and see which one you like better. I actually liked Heretics better than Orthodoxy when I first encountered them. Once you’ve gotten the hang of his theological style you absolutely must not miss The Everlasting Man, which is one of those books I reread every couple of years.

      As far as stories go, Mike is right, The Man Who Was Thursday is excellent. It’s like some Coen bros films: every scene is realistic, but there’s sense of the super/preter-natural right below the surface at all times. You might also borrow a Fr Brown collection and dip into them. There’s no chronology you have to follow. For a really lightweight read, you can always try The Club of Queer Trades and stop when you get bored.

      Luckily, there’s more than enough free stuff at gutenberg.org to keep you occupied for years.

      • thisismattwade

        Amen.

    • Mike

      PS I also really like the Ball and the Cross even though it seems most ppl don’t mention it much.

    • chezami

      Orthodoxy
      The Everlasting Man
      St. Francis of Assisi
      St. Thomas Aquinas: The Dumb Ox
      The Father Brown Mysteries
      Manalive
      The Thing: Why I Am a Catholic
      The Ball and the Cross
      Just for starters.

    • Jonk

      All of it.

  • Mike

    If ppl especially many women want to work part-time we should make it easier for them; and for their husbands actually as not everyone wants to work 10 hours a day and drive a BMW7; many of us just want a decent middle class life style with time for home and kids and a modest vacation now and then.

  • Dan C

    The Quartermaster begins with fiction. He starts with the trop that lefties want everyone government dependent. Its like the George Will comment that public transportation is training for collectivism.

    Yawn.

    Second, the Quartermaster blames Welfare and Social Security for the destruction of the family. Not, for instance, the introduction of the car, the hghway and the suburb so all of us of the same salary can be sequestered in the same zip code in large numbers away from poor people.

    Nope. That could not be it, because that would tie behavior to wealth and that is only convenient when one is positing that wealthy folks have earned their welsth through good behavior, like good Calvinists.

    The Quartermaster fights the war that will not end, the Catholic War, with ten year old arguments.

  • captcrisis

    This is what aggravates me about Chesterton: he argues with straw men. To most people tearing down a fence, they are perfectly aware of why the fence was built and know that the reason is invalid. And who exactly is saying that a child is perfectly free to disobey everything a parent says?

    • http://www.likelierthings.com/ Jon W

      Human relationships are not less complex than their bodies. I’m reading Michael Pollan right now, and he’s pointing out how modern science perpetually tries to isolate the “ingredients” of nutrition, disregard the wisdom of traditional cuisine, and reconstruct foodstuffs based on the latest science. The results – as “scientific” as they can be based on what we know at the time – have been pretty disastrous for our health. Knowing a reason isn’t the same as knowing the reason – or the huge matrix of complex reasons.


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