Demographics, Large Families, and Spiritual Revival

Demographics, Large Families, and Spiritual Revival March 24, 2012
FamilyLarge
Large family group in Wales, c. 1885 [public domain / Wikimedia Commons]

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(3-24-12)

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This is drawn from lively discussions on my Facebook page. To tighten it up (people hate those long articles more and more these days!), I have excerpted my own observations only.
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The pro-life trend is upward: with a majority now identifying as pro-life, and growing all the time. Good laws are being passed. All we need is a real Catholic revival to bring about some profound change: and the possibility of that happening and huge societal changes that would result is evident throughout history. If it doesn’t come, I agree, things look very bleak, but who’s to say it won’t? God’s hands aren’t tied. I’m not convinced we are beyond all hope. I’ve said for years that I believe that revival will come, or start to, anyway, when I am an old man (which will be in about 20 years).

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If we Catholics and like-minded Protestants who believe in children have lots of kids, then demographics is destiny and things can change. God can bring about change, no matter how bleak it gets. We gotta share the faith (and the message of pro-life). And that is exactly what I devote all my working time to doing . . . I don’t deny that the society is anti-child (I’ve been nothing that for 30 years); only that it will be indefinitely. I follow one of the dicta of Servant of God, Fr. John A. Hardon: “the worst centuries are invariably followed by the best ones.” Since the 20th century was the worst ever, in God’s providence the 21st will be, eventually, one of the great ones, of revival. The century’s still young: we’re only 11 years + 3 months into it. Still got almost 89% of it to go.

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If you look at everything apart from God’s providence and His supernatural power, I agree, there would be little hope on a human level. But blessedly, we serve and worship a God Who brings about revival. He did it with the ancient Jews; He can even with us, too. It requires faith to believe and see this.

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We play our part by being faithful Catholics and having lots of kids. Demographics is destiny. The orthodox Catholics have lots of children, and properly disciple them in the faith, who in turn have lots of children. It doesn’t take long. The whole society need not join in: only enough good Catholics and other pro-natal Christians.
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I contend that the society can eventually be more so (and pro-life trends support that) by the pro-child folks having lots of children and raising them as good traditional Catholics or Protestants, and by the grace of God, Who ultimately grants whether revivals and societal transformation are to occur or not. But we can play our part by our prayers, observance of Catholic morality, and having children, or promoting the infinite value of more children, if we can’t produce them ourselves. God always works through His people as vessels.

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Positive trends are a different thing from “winning.” They do not reflect so much the current climate as the possible or likely climate in the years to come. We have a long, long way to go, but there is hope. There always is with God. I don’t follow a gloom-and-doom pessimistic scenario because I believe in a God Who can do anything, and has done so in the past. It’s not just a pipe-dream because we can point to past occurrences where there was extraordinary revival and change.

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Things have changed in the past: not over a thousand years, but much more quickly. I’d like to provide several examples from Chesterton. These two quotes that express it a lot better than I ever could:

I suspect that we should find several occasions when Christendom was thus to all appearance hollowed out from within by doubt and indifference, so that only the old Christian shell stood as the pagan shell had stood so long. But the difference is that in every such case, the sons were fanatical for the faith where the fathers had been slack about it. This is obvious in the case of the transition from the Renaissance to the Counter-Reformation. It is obvious in the case of a transition from the eighteenth century to the many Catholic revivals of our own time . . . Just as some might have thought the Church simply a part of the Roman Empire, so others later might have thought the Church only a part of the Dark Ages. The Dark Ages ended as the Empire had ended; and the Church should have departed with them, if she had been also one of the shades of night.

(The Everlasting Man, Garden City, New York: Doubleday Image, 1925, 250-252)

At least five times, . . . with the Arian and the Albigensian, with the Humanist sceptic, after Voltaire and after Darwin, the Faith has to all appearance gone to the dogs. In each of these five cases it was the dog that died.

(Ibid., 254)

It didn’t take a thousand years in any of these cases. Major change came about within a century’s time. That is the record. I appeal to faith, God’s providence, and actual history.  We can massively change our society fairly quickly by having lots of kids. Just look at what is happening in Europe. The Muslims increasingly take over simply by having lots of kids and continuing on in their faith. Catholics can do that, too: take a cue from the Muslims and “demographics is destiny.” We could. That’s what I am saying. I am not convinced that it won’t happen, because far stranger things already have. It could be that some horror like a nuclear war or complete economic collapse unlike anything ever seen will bring about the revival. We can do it the easy way (have lots of kids and disciple them) or the hard way (waking up after an existential catastrophe: like what was usually required with the ancient Hebrews).

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Homeschooling helps promote these goals, but is not absolutely necessary, as long as parents closely monitor education and make sure it is supplemented with spiritual and theological education. We home school (just for the record). Our children (20, 18, 15, 10) are all rock-solid Catholics, with no sign whatever of being anything different. It is possible, even today. You simply reject the nonsense that is occurring in society today and teach a better way, and teach why Catholic tradition (theological and moral) is far superior in every way.

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It would be a huge shift if Catholics would learn to not vote for childkilling advocates (usually Democrat candidates, but not always). It would seem to be elementary, yet every election year we go through this. I’ve yet to meet a Democrat in thirty years of discussions about pro-life, give a rational, sensible reason for why any Christian should vote for people who want to keep childkilling and child torture legal.

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Protestant evangelical voters are far smarter and more morally consistent. If Catholics alone understood this we wouldn’t have had a Democrat President since LBJ (unless the party was forced by polls to change its childkilling platform, which would have been quite possible if they lost the Presidency repeatedly).

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Catholics are not required to have huge families. I am saying that a pro-child outlook means that the average number of children should be way way more than 1.7 or whatever miserable figure it is now. Lots of variables are involved in individual cases. On the whole, Catholics ought to be having lots more children than they have been . . .

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The beauty of discipling through childrearing is that it is a golden opportunity to profoundly mold and shape a Christian life by the love and attention that goes into that. We can and should also go out and evangelize and share the faith, and that will bear fruit (I do it as a profession), but it’s not possible to have the personal impact that a parent has with their children. I’ve often pondered how I could show love in tangible ways in my outreach efforts. All I can really do is serve by writing, as a teacher, and try to extend Christian love on a personal level, as opportunity arises. But it’s a lot different with words on a screen, compared to real-life personal interaction.

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There is supposed to be a sufficiently serious reason to avoid having more children (financial, health, emotional, etc.). Deliberately deciding to have no children as a Catholic married couple (minus serious considerations) is contrary to what the Church teaches.

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Humanae Vitae states this, and I believe everything that the Church teaches. But the problem, of course, is that people are very quick to conclude that the reasons to not conceive outweigh the ones in favor. The societal tendency is anti-child and an overwhelming contraceptive mentality that has tragically led to abortion, that has obviously infected Catholics to a large extent, since our birth rates are scarcely any higher than the general public. As for affording “large families,” we are also far too quick to conclude that it is too difficult to do so. The problem often is that we value excessive materialism more than children, and because of that think that children are too big of a financial burden. Sometimes this is indeed true, but often not.

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Our family is a case-in-point. We have four children, and my wife homeschools. I’m bringing in the only income, yet we manage to make it with a yearly income so low, no one would believe it if I said how much it was. We’re paying our bills (including a mortgage), have good credit, rarely use credit cards, and take a decent vacation every year (camping to save motel costs, cheap food, free things to do, etc.). It can be done. That’s not to say that there is not sacrifice. There certainly is, but it comes down to what is most valued: family or material possessions and riches that are extraordinary by world and historical standards. I’m not trying to condemn anyone. I’m not being legalistic or callous to reality. I’m simply trying to state what the Church teaches, and to render a Catholic opinion as to why birthrates are alarmingly low. If we don’t analyze this and try to do something to change it, then things will only get worse. Societies that stop having children inevitably decay and die out.

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Society is anti-child to such an extent (with contraception and even abortion) that couples (including Catholic couples) are deliberately having far fewer children than they used to. I’m not talking about particular situations where there are obvious legitimate limitations, but making a sociological observation from the traditional Catholic perspective. 
I find it quite curious that we have more material wealth and luxury (even in the current relative crisis) than any culture in the history of the world has ever had, yet more and more couples seem to think that they can’t afford more than two children (sometimes only one), and that it would be financially and emotionally disastrous to even consider doing so.


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That’s simply not true, and most of human history shows that it is not, even before we get to the Bible and what it says about the blessing of children: even a “quiver full” (Psalm 127:3-5). The idol of materialism has replaced the love of children on a very wide scale. I can’t determine if this is the case for particular people; that is God’s place to judge their motivations and hearts, not mine, but I can say in a general sociological sense that in a culture that averages 1.7 children per couple, it is largely due to an anti-child, contraceptive mentality and the idolatry of luxury and excessive materialism. I don’t think that’s even arguable.

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This has all basically come about since 1960 and the Introduction of the Pill, followed by the sexual revolution and the outrage of legal abortion and 50 million legally murdered children: just a little over 50 years. We’re certainly well worthy of being judged and annihilated, based on abortion alone. If God wiped us out tomorrow, no one would have the slightest basis to complain about it. It would be perfectly just: much more than just for God to do so. The fact that we have not yet been wiped off the face of the earth for our unspeakable sins is testament to the extraordinary mercy and lovingkindness of God. I think the fact of non-judgment is itself an indication that God has in store for us a huge supernatural revival, so we can get back to some remote semblance of a life-affirming, children-loving Christian culture again.

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I note the high and astonishingly hypocritical irony of folks giving large families a “hard time”: 

1) as if it is any of their business in the first place, and

2) as if it is consistent with the supposed rhetoric of everyone being free to do as they please. 

I think it’s obvious that large families threaten some people precisely because it is in effect a rebuke to their own “anti-child” prejudice and inclinations. They don’t want children, and their antipathy runs so deep that they appear to not want anyone to have a large family, lest such an indescribable, unspeakable horror should catch on in society . . . Note what this idiotic, immoral outlook entails: killing children in their mother’s womb is well and good, to be encouraged and touted as a “right” — but daring and being silly enough to have lots of children!!!! My heavens, that is the most outrageous thing imaginable and good radical feminists must oppose and mock it at every turn.

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Lots of children are evil; whereas fewer being conceived, and lots being eliminated through torture and murder is a great thing that ought to be enshrined with the sanction of law, complete with highfalutin’ language about “rights” (of one person to the exclusion of the other), and the supposed callous indifference and oppression of those cruel souls who oppose childkilling, and so forth . . . 

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