Archives for posts with tag: family

I aver that Martin Luther King Jr. was a pretty good example of a husband and father, and it seems fitting on the day we honor him to note that for the most part, we’ve solved the problems for women of not having husbands.

That is, in most of our circumstances, we support single mothers. We don’t shun them. We typically work with them in personal and public ways.

For the most part, a single mother’s life is hard, but it is not life-threatening as it used to be.

Thus, we have many single mothers. That is, while there are still problems, the biggest problem, the problem that made women fear being a single mother, has been mitigated. While we have improved the lot of women, we have not improved the overall lot.

Fatherlessness, lack of a husband in the family, is a problem for society. It is a serious problem for children. Fatherlessness of families results in harm.

How do we fix that? I think it is obvious money and government programs cannot fix it.

How do we fix it?

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Additional detail in Stark’s Triumph of Christianity, chapter 7, where he discusses early Christian history with regard to women, he gives some eye-opening specifics.

I’ll admit I’m biased toward marriage. It seems clear that marriage and a nuclear family are essential to society in all forms we know. Without it, we are probably looking at something like the Borg (of the Star Trek fantasy universe) to expect humanity to continue rather than go extinct.

Stark points out that the Greek’s considered Roman marriage practices to be cruel, but Greeks were little different, mainly only ensuring the young women were past puberty before given in marriage.

The fact was, Christian women could expect to be physically and emotionally mature before being married, and they would have at least some say in who they married. They also had much more secure marriages, since men were also expected to be chaste and faithful, and couples were not allowed to divorce, except for marital infidelity.

Dr. Stark sites studies estimating that men in Rome outnumbered women 131 to 100. That is a lot of frustrated dudes. (Such is often suggested as a significant factor in wars. Killing the young men in battles tends to lower such troublesome ratios.) He also indicated that in most of the empire, the ratio was closer to 140 males to 100 females. The state even penalized women under 50 years of age who didn’t remarry if widowed or divorced. He gives examples, including Tullia, Cicero’s daughter, as married at 16, widowed at 22, remarried in a year, divorced at 28, remarried in a year, divorced at 33 (I assume she was pregnant) and she died at 34 after giving birth.

I think it worth mentioning the gruesome abortion procedures advised by Roman medical writer Aulus Cornelius Celsus. Relatively recently, historians have established that contraceptive methods were known and available, and generally effective. It is sad that women were of such low regard as to be subjected to such harsh and crude medical procedures to extract an unborn baby, especially when it was legal to just abandon the infant after it was born. I can only suppose most of the men of the era felt it shameful to do so. Or, perhaps they knew it was harder after seeing the baby. Regardless, it is disgusting and sad that men subjected women to such harm.

While many ancient philosophers justified abortion and exposure, even arguing it should be mandatory for women over the age of forty, the Jewish and Christian voices denounced it. “The second chapter of the Didache orders: “Thou shalt not murder a child by abortion nor kill them when born.””

I comment from time to time that I am willing to compromise with regard to abortion. It seems clear that even societies that condemned abortion allowed for it very early on, primarily, they would allow for no penalties or criminality if an accident or negligence (or violence) caused the miscarriage of a child if the child was unrecognizable as such. This is where I am willing to compromise. If we can societally and legally agree upon a demarcation in pregnancy  where before it is not considered, and after, we accord full personhood, individuality, and due process, I believe we will help our society. We will get along better. We will flourish more.

However, objectively, there is no way to demarcate a human being after conception. Once a unique egg and sperm join, that is a living human being. There is nothing easy about it, but we all like to think of ourselves as fair. There is nothing fair about arbitrarily taking another human’s life. “It’s a hell of a thing, killing a man. Take away all he’s got and all he’s ever gonna have.” Clint Eastwood line (as Will Money) in Unforgiven.

Continuing with the hard stuff, I consider rape the same.

Accordingly, I’m willing to afford a raped woman more latitude than most of the rest of us.

Finally, while I can use history, pretty much all of it, to justify some allowance for abortion, at least from secondary causes, the same can be said of slavery, and hopefully all of us alive today hold slavery and human trafficking to be intolerable abominations, reprehensible evils that justify the harshest punishments. We are also justified in making stern effort to quell such activity, and protect every person from such, and to seek out all such purveyors of such evil.

So, I hope we will all take stock of the past and resolve not to let such happen again. I pray for the time when abortion will be considered the same as slavery, considered simply unconscionable. We are not there yet. Some advancement of ourselves or our society or of our technology seems likely to accomplish it. I believe the day is far off but will come. In the meantime, let us work together, discuss publicly and reasonably, let us debate in our legislatures, and let the courts stand down. We the people can work this out. We can compromise and live together on the subject.

https://gottadobetterthanthis.wordpress.com/2016/07/03/summer-reading-3/

https://gottadobetterthanthis.wordpress.com/2016/06/12/summer-reading-2/

Revisiting my marriage bias, I am convinced the key is for those who believe in the value of the traditional family to live as exemplars. Family in most of our societies is far better off than in most of history. I hold family as key, but society seems to have a wide tolerance. Those who hold different views and values can be tolerated! We simply can accommodate. Nontraditionalists (excluding the violent) are no threat.

White Heart gave the indictment many years ago, “Are they working harder at what we think is wrong, Than we are at what we know is right?

With Gandalf (JRR Tolkien), I believe that it is the common folk doing the small kindnesses and simple toils. I believe it is everyman standing for his belief. This is how we progress toward rightness. Live as Micah prophesied. We know what is right. God has shown us. It is only this He requires of us: live justly, love mercy, walk humbly.

We simply have no standing to hold differently. I must do what I know is right and work to teach others what is best, but I have no justification whatsoever to impose or coerce. If I am right, I must show it by proof of action and result. I cannot enforce it by power, by violence, by politics. No.

Every single person must be respected as such. To each his own, and we all owe it to protect that.

At the moment of writing, my dear father-in-law is comfortable, but apparently the prognosis is quite dire. Measuring minutes, rather than hours, certainly not days. My wife, our children, and I are a few hours away. A family friend called to encourage us not to hurry in travel. Perhaps it is useful to suppose he reached a physiological cliff. Cancer can go that way. It is hard being distant at such times.

Lyle has had a good and full life, filled with success in his professional field, mathematics. He has been an excellent father, father-in-law, and grandfather. A blessed and successful man. I’m better for knowing him.

He is 89. He has been able to work in the yard, which he perhaps loves even more than his mathematics, even this spring. He has stayed active with friends, family, and professional associates. He still has full command of his impressive mind. All in all, a good life.

Still, we are, each one of us, a light mist that appears for just a little while, then vanish away.

Reference James 4:14 (Note the cross references on the page.)

It is so hard to keep things in perspective.

We all see ourselves so overlarge. We also undervalue our loved ones.

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful servants. http://biblehub.com/psalms/116-15.htm

A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of birth. http://biblehub.com/ecclesiastes/7-1.htm

1For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
2a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
3a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

For there is a proper time and procedure for every matter, though a person may be weighed down by misery. http://biblehub.com/ecclesiastes/8-6.htm

It is a miserable day, but it is a good day.

I’m barely old enough to remember any of the early days of Peter, Paul, and Mary, but Mom had the Peter, Paul, and Mommy album, and we played it a lot when I was young.

I pretty much know all the songs on it by heart, and it isn’t uncommon for me to sing out a chorus when events prompt a memory of one or another of the songs.

My kids know “It’s Raining,” “Going To The Zoo,” “Boa Constrictor,” “Mockingbird,” and “Puff (The Magic Dragon)” mostly from me singing. I’ve given them bits of “Make-Believe Town” before, but this morning at breakfast, Elizabeth was putting jam on a biscuit and exclaimed that she almost dropped her book in the jam.

I belted out, “He studies in books, where nobody looks, because they’re all covered with jam,” and the kids all said, “Huh?” Well, I managed to complete the verse, and they understood, but Joseph asked more, and so I pulled up Spotify, found the album, and started it playing.

That was neat! Not only was it quite nice to pull up the old memories and good feelings, but it was gratifying as a daddy to see the kids positive reactions, especially Joseph, the most artistic of us.

He started singing along, even to the ones he’d never heard before. It was almost like the “Marvelous Toy,” passing it along.

Does a daddy’s heart good.

I was also struck by the wisdom in those children’s songs.

I encourage all men to remember the advice of the turtle dove, “Court her night, court her day, never give her time to say, “Oh nay.” (That’s  how you win her, and that is how you keep the love strong!)

As a daddy, this one is particularly significant to me:

Tell me why you’re crying, my son
I know you’re frightened, like everyone
Is it the thunder in the distance you fear?
Will it help if I stay very near?
I am here.

Refrain:
And if you take my hand my son
All will be well when the day is done.
And if you take my hand my son
All will be well when the day is done.
Day is done, Day is done
Day is done, Day is done

Do you ask why I’m sighing, my son?
You shall inherit what mankind has done.
In a world filled with sorrow and woe
If you ask me why this is so, I really don’t know.

(Refrain)

Tell me why you’re smiling my son
Is there a secret you can tell everyone?
Do you know more than men that are wise?
Can you see what we all must disguise
Through your loving eyes?

(Refrain)

Elizabeth Scalia has written an insightful article at First Things, http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2013/10/when-no-one-wants-to-raise-the-parents.

She makes the point that we must, as adults with offspring, act as grownups and live for our children. Of course, we are all ill-equipped for this when we begin. Nearly all of us manage if we try. Some become quite good at it.

“A parent becomes [a parent] within the act of learning to be a family-unit, amid the constantly changing dynamics of individuals advancing through life-stages together. One could argue that as parents raise the children, the children, quite paradoxically, raise the parents. When parents resist being raised, families break down and collapse.”

We learn while we do, and one of the most important things we must know from the very beginning is that we are each individuals. We each are that special one. From the beginning, we are in a relationship with our child. Mothers have a relationship distinct from fathers. Mother knows the child from conception. Mother is affected by the child directly from the beginning and much more than Father.

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