The Thinking 

Browsing posts from May, 2011

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Marriage in the Major Cities

May 31, 2011



According to U.S. Census statistics released last week, six of the 25 largest cities in America have such high levels of family breakdown that the majority of homes with children are not headed by a married couple. Those cities are Boston, Washington D. C., Philadelphia, Memphis, Baltimore and Detroit.

The Married Families ratio (the proportion of homes with children under 18 headed by a married couple) continued to decline in all of the 25 most populous cities except New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

It held virtually steady in New York and increased by almost four percentage points in Washington, D.C. Looking at the figures for major cities, one finds vast differences. Chicago had a significantly higher Married Families ratio (57.3 percent), than both Philadelphia (44.4 percent) and Boston (49.1). The ratio was 62 percent in Phoenix and 37.5 percent in Baltimore. Heavily Hispanic cities have more married couples than comparably black cities.

The Married Families ratio in the worst city in 1950 was better than the best city in 2010, by a wide margin (83.6% versus 76.5%). Blacks had a higher Married Families ratio in 1950 than whites did in the year 2000 (80.1% versus 77.6%). (A racial breakdown for 2010 is not yet available, but the comparison obviously still holds.)

In 1950, the Married Families ratio for the nation overall was 92.3 percent. In 2010, the Married Families ratio for the nation overall dropped to 67.9 percent. Read More »


In Remembrance on Memorial Day

May 30, 2011


By Robert Frost

They sent him back to her. The letter came
Saying… And she could have him. And before
She could be sure there was no hidden ill
Under the formal writing, he was in her sight,
Living. They gave him back to her alive—
How else? They are not known to send the dead—
And not disfigured visibly. His face?
His hands? She had to look, and ask,
“What was it, dear?” And she had given all
And still she had all—they had—they the lucky! Read More »


When Playing Wimbledon Was No Big Deal

May 30, 2011


ALEX A. writes from England:

John Lavery’s evocative painting of a woman playing tennis shows us a serene world that has utterly vanished. Apart from the graceful woman at the centre of the picture, notice also the nonchalant posture of the gentleman watching the game. Sport was just a way of relaxing in those times – very far from the modern meretricious scrabble for adulation etc. Read More »


More on Fatherhood and Authority

May 30, 2011


JOHN E. writes:

Thank you for directing attention in your post “The Father and His Rightful Authority” to this very good essay. It is a unique admonition to men in that it presents first what is positively expected of men as husbands, and doesn’t mince words in doing so. Most admonitions men hear these days, if they are positive at all, are positive only in a weak or vaguely general sense, and reserve the specifics and forceful statements to be made in the negative, such as “Husbands, don’t lord it over your wives!” Men in our society are understandably scratching their heads wondering what they could possible hold in their possession with which to lord over their wives in the first place! Read More »


“Then the Wind Struck the School”

May 29, 2011


THE tornado that swept through Indiana, Illinois and Missouri on March 18, 1925 was 219 miles in length and killed 695 people. Known as the Tri-State Tornado, it was the most devastating in U.S. history. The 1,115 tornados of this especially destructive season have killed a total of about 550 people. Read More »


Tennis in Skirts

May 29, 2011


Played! John Lavery (1885)

Played! John Lavery (1885)

THIS painting of a Victorian lawn tennis match by the Irish artist Sir John Lavery just sold for 756,000 euros, about 1.07 million dollars, at Christie’s in London. I wonder if many years from now anyone will pay that kind of money to hang images of today’s tennis gladiators on a wall. I guess it depends on the artist.


The Father and His Rightful Authority

May 29, 2011

ALL of civilization depends on the father. As goes the father, so goes society. When fatherhood as an institution is strong, when a man governs his commonwealth in obedience and submission to God, order radiates throughout society.

“Power, like nature, abhors a vacuum,” writes Fr. Chad Ripperger. “Either the man will be head of the house or the wife will; it is that simple.”

Today, women rule not just their homes but the world. The pop singer Beyoncé is right: Women rule the world. They rule the world with their passions. They rule the world with their mounting unhappiness. They rule the world with their frustration and its accompanying irrationality. They sometimes rule like those capricious and unpredictable goddesses of the ancient world who alternated between wrath and seduction.

They rule because men have let them. Men have progressively denied their authority until it is all but gone.

A man is not in essence superior to a woman. But by the accidental conditions of nature, he is placed in loving authority over her. At his website Sensuus Traditionis, Fr. Ripperger’s essay “Parental Roles and Leadership” examines the issue of paternal authority. The essay is so excellent and so thorough in its exploration of the subtleties and complexities of the issue that I offer this lengthy quote:

If a wife refuses to submit to the authority of her husband, she loses the spiritual protection and providence of her husband. Whatever rises against an order or authority is deprived of that order and the principle of order. Read More »


A Young Woman Who Has Everything

May 29, 2011



Here is a composition by one of my students, a 19-year-old Japanese girl. I think it’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read, and I offer it here without comment, since it speaks for itself:

My future dream is to be a mother. Since I was a little girl, I have been dreaming of becoming one. I would like to have a husband who likes children, and someone who would take care of the children with me. I wouldn’t want someone who is aggressive or violent. I want my children to be honest, active, and loving. I want to raise them with lots and lots of love. I want to take them to zoos and amusement parks. From my experience I would love to take my children to my parents’ house. I remember from my childhood that visiting my grandparents was fun. I like the road to my grandparents’ house, and I also liked staying the night at their house. My mother’s parents are living with my cousin’s family, so it is a big family. I think they would have a nice time at my parents’ house, like I used to because my parents are fun people. My father loves telling jokes, and playing sports. I bet he would try to teach them golfing because he loves golfing. My mother is very nice and loving. She cooks very well, and she also bakes. Her cheesecakes are the best. There are so many things I want to teach my future children. I cannot wait to have my own.


A World of Impersonal, Pseudo-Food

May 27, 2011


BRETT writes:

You got me thinking about what types of food are popular in modern times. While I think canned food is emblematic of the era, I also noted that in addition to your favorite (pizza) there are sandwiches, the burrito, the salad and the wrap. These are all popular because, like modernity itself, they are the same mundane experience dressed up as variety. Read More »


May 27, 2011

A Shepherd and His Flock, Frederick William Hulme

A Shepherd and His Flock, Frederick William Hulme


Catholic Bishops Applaud the Construction of Mosque

May 27, 2011



The top story at Rorate Caeli yesterday was depressing and another example of how the liberalism of Vatican II has indeed let the smoke of Satan into Christian sanctuaries: Italian prelates’ advocating the building of an “official” (and no doubt enormous) mosque for the “Moslems of Milan.” Read More »


The Game and the Black Man

May 27, 2011


NO ONE is more immune from criticism in America than the black man. It’s true that when he is caught in the actual commission of a crime he is held to account for his actions as an individual, but not as part of a larger group. Otherwise, he can live a life of hedonism, selfishness and ingratitude without risking his image. The black man is guilty of only his own most outrageous crimes. While the white man is responsible for the sins of all white men, the black man’s sins are his alone, but even then he is suspected of being a victim. There are neighborhoods of hundreds of black families where there may be as few as half a dozen married men. We are to believe that the black man, due to the ravages of slavery, was forced to hand over support and care of his children to the government and the overworked black woman, who is his sex slave and economic drudge.

Still, despite the behavior of his peers, the black man is considered worthy of fame and adulation in the athletic world. Read More »


The Militant Sisterhood

May 27, 2011


IN AN EXCELLENT piece at City Journal, Heather Mac Donald comments on two recent items in the news: feminist outrage over all-male special-operations combat forces and a federal civil rights complaint by female students at Yale who say they have been denied an equal education by raunchy campus jokes.

Mac Donald points to the glaring contradiction of women claiming, on the one hand, that they can be toughened, elite warriors and, on the other, that they cannot function in life if they are the butt of offensive jokes. Mac Donald writes:

Not only has the rise of women to positions of power and control in American society not dented feminist irrationality, it seems to have exacerbated that irrationality.

Mac Donald looks at recent commentary in The Washington Post by Anna Holmes protesting the exclusion of women from the Navy SEALs even though few if any women could physically qualify for the SEALs. Very few men even qualify. The SEALs, it’s worth noting, are trained to withstand torture. How is it possible for women today to withstand torture when the slightest criticism of their attire or behavior causes them to break down and take to the streets?

The complaint by the women at Yale came after frat pledges walked through the freshman quad crudely chanting, “No means yes, and yes means anal.” (Don’t you hope your children attend Yale someday?) One would think some of the most intelligent female undergraduates in the free world would be capable of defending themselves against this base behavior with words of their own. For the Yale students, however, the jokes did nothing less than harm their lifelong opportunities, even in a world of institutionalized favoritism for women. A full-blown civil rights case was warranted.

MacDonald writes: 

To the civil rights complainants … the [frat] incident and Yale’s allegedly inadequate response to it “precludes women from having the same equal opportunity to the Yale education as their male counterparts,” in the words of signatory Hannah Zeavin. Read More »


The Rise of Matriarchy

May 26, 2011


FROM 2000 to 2010, the number of U.S. households with children headed by unmarried women rose by 18 percent, according to the latest Census Bureau figures. Also, married couples constitute less than half of all households for the first time in American history. In 1950, 78 percent of households included married couples.

New Census figures on the family will be officially released today. They document the rise of matriarchy and its consequences for children and society.  

According to a New York Times report on the figures: “just a fifth of households were traditional families — married couples with children — down from about a quarter a decade ago, and from 43 percent in 1950, as the iconic image of the American family continues to break apart.”


Baby Bird

May 25, 2011


NO CREATURE expresses the naked need of the young quite like the baby bird. At this time of year, in the springtime, the nestling and his siblings create an entire subculture of anarchy, unrest and desperation. In his twiggy, secretive nest, with his beak agape, waiting for the bug or the worm to drop, he is pure ego. He is all demand. He is hunger. He is greed. He is dire poverty. He expects nothing less than constant, unequivocal, unhestitating attention.

Human parents find here a worthwhile comparison. Things could be worse. The parent bird wings back and forth to the nest, communicating strategy to his spouse and retrieving every available form of food, and there is never enough. Even when he approaches with a fat, pinned, wriggling cricket, the screeches and squawks of reproach echo through the neighborhood. “That’s all!? That’s it!?” The children scold with fury.

The parental bird is inadequate. Love is definitely not enough. He finds a few moments of rest, when the nestlings sleep against their own best interests, but that is not time to recover. The day’s expenditure of energy is never recouped. He will die exhausted, not old. If not for his will and determination to see the species live, he might have survived for 20, maybe 30 years.

Some young nestlings chirp constantly. Others pose silent and accusingly, their empty gullets pointed toward the skies. ‘See this?” they say. “This is what you did to me. Hunger. I am dying.”

Springtime brings new life and rejuvenation. For the parent bird, it is the time to give. Never pause. It is the season to prove one’s own existence is not enough.


The Tornado Wreckage

May 25, 2011




THIS IS one of many astounding and horrifying Associated Press photos, found here, of the destruction from this week’s tornados in the Midwest. This man was driving his truck when it was swept off a road in El Reno, Oklahoma. Read More »


The Right to Choose in India

May 25, 2011


THE LATEST census figures from India show there are 7.1 million fewer girls than boys under the age of six. The disparity is caused by sex-selective abortion. A new public health report about the rise of sex-selective abortion of girls in India refers to the relative affluence and education of the women having the abortions. What the news accounts fail to mention is that the phenomenon accompanies a rise in feminism in the country.

Since feminism inhibits the commitment to motherhood in general and deflects the energies and focus of women toward money-making activity, it logically follows that it makes the abortion of girls more likely in a culture in which girls are considered more costly to the family. Read More »


Vanity Babies

May 24, 2011


THE BABY in modern society is a canvas on which the parent is free to paint his mischievous, wholly self-absorbed dreams. Modern liberals are prone, perhaps more than any other group in human history, to thinking babies remain babies forever.

The wildly sensational news story about a Toronto couple who have decided to conceal the sex of their baby so that he or she is not affected by conventional expectations is one example of this trend. Here are parents whose imaginations regarding their offspring are dwarfed by the present moment and radical egocentricity. They have named the baby Storm and maybe that’s exactly what he’ll be. A storm instead of a boy or a girl. 

Another example is this account of two lesbians who became mothers together at the same time, having artificially conceived their children with the same male donor. The story is a mind-blowing glimpse into the lesbian bourgeoisie and its staggering pretensions.

In both these cases, the babies won’t be babies forever. Someday they too will speak.


Read More »

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