The Thinking 

A College Student Surveys the Scene

July 31, 2012


MEGAN B. sends this e-mail:

I read your blog quite often and really appreciate all that I have learned from your words. From reading posts from your readers, however, I get a deep sense of ‘doom and gloom.’

Maybe this is the bright-eyed nineteen-year-old college student in me talking, but I don’t think it’s time to ‘throw in the towel’ or to sink our heads in mourning for our country. Sure, televisions are full of sex and profanity, the Constitution is becoming nothing more than an annoying piece of paper to many lawmakers, and the notion of a nuclear family is in shambles. The list goes on and on (unfortunately). At the same time, more Americans are pro-life than ever in recent history, abortion/illegitimate pregnancies are down, and teen abstinence rates are up. People like Taylor Swift (a Christian) are selling out stadiums full of impressionable, young girls. And, there are a whole lot of people really concerned about the absurd growth of government and questioning its usefulness in the recent decades. As I understand it, that wasn’t much of an issue with the majority of people fifteen years ago.

The Alliance Defending Freedom (previously Alliance Defense Fund) has something like an 80 percent success record in cases throughout the country, working to ensure religious freedom and traditional values. Among other organizations working to reinstate the principles of the Founding are Americans for Prosperity, The Institute For Justice, Family Research Council, Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute, Claremont Institute, Foundation For Economic Education, and many more. Those organizations – that happen to have a whole lot of money, donors, and power – are not going away, now matter how much those on the other side want them to.

I don’t mean to toot my own horn (well, maybe I will a little bit out of adoration for my college), but I attend Hillsdale College. Ranked 60th in the nation with a ‘rigor rating’ higher than some Ivy Leagues, and a reputation for excellence, this college is the real deal. Our mission is to pursue Truth and defend liberty, and we do so without a penny from the Federal Government. Think about that: this college (one that advocates traditional principles) receives so much money from donors that students are able to obtain impressive financial aid, professors and staff are paid well, and the college is able to cover all its other costs.

What one finds at Hillsdale is 1,400 young people studying the classics (Homer, Cicero), political philosophy (Aristotle, Locke, Plato), and searching to find the True, Good, and Beautiful. This college isn’t for the faint of heart. This is a place where political correctness is sacrificed and reality intercedes, where this very blog is recommended by professors, where we are taught how to think rather than what to think, where history isn’t fabricated or skewed by the politics of identity, and where the professors care more about your soul than pumping out a bunch of degree-holders with mediocre credentials. This is also a place where motherhood is encouraged, not condemned.

What’s the relevance?

As the years go by, those who love liberty will have to have to fight harder and harder against authority. But we are not afraid and we are not alone. We have Truth on our side, and we are darn-well prepared.

As the inconsistencies and fantasies of Progressivism grow and a large part of the population continues to insist on freedom from external constraints, people like those at Hillsdale College (our brilliant professors included) and other Truth-loving citizens will not back down. We simply will not. Liberty, freedom, and an adherence to the Good are too important and we will not sit by quietly as others try to rip that away.

I’m afraid this is where I may disagree with you, Mrs. Wood: It’s also going to take women politicians having the courage to speak frankly about the real war on woman – the terrors of abortion, the reality that women are increasingly being used as objects of pleasure thanks to artificial contraception, and that motherhood and marriage are positive goods and not evils. The absurdities of feminism have been disastrous, and they will not be corrected unless women who are great mothers, wives, and public servants (I do believe they exist, as I know many) stand up and say ‘Enough!’ The Right has been disgracefully unsuccessful in combating this – a man simply cannot win a woman’s fight just as a woman cannot win a man’s fight (even if men have been adversely affected too).

This will be an uphill battle. It’s going to take a lot of patience, too. When we get discouraged or show our frustration, they win. Please, stop the cynicism. That’s exactly what Progressives want. They want us to give up and give in! If we give in, they won’t have to deal with the ‘sleeping giant’ they’ve been aggravating for the past century.

Maybe I am far too optimistic, but I’m a glass-half-full kind of girl. I have a whole lot to learn, but I really do believe that we can defeat anything with Christ. If we don’t, we can spend all of eternity knowing we tried.

‘Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.’ – C.S. Lewis

Laura writes:

Thank you for writing. I am impressed by your eloquence.

All is not doom and gloom. The most important things take place in the innermost realm and that is an area in which we exert great control.

I am not as confident as you are about organizations fighting leftism. None are devoted to many of the issues discussed here, particularly the reign of government-enforced egalitarianism. Can you name a single well-known organization that is effectively fighting affirmative action for women? Even the Church has largely capitulated to feminism.

You say there is a need for women politicians, but if it is true, as you imply, that men are inherently unable to represent women in politics and do not care about the problems or suffering of women, then isn’t it also true that women are unable to represent men and to care for their problems? Thus what is politics by a battle of numbers between men and women and an arena of self-interest?

In reality, the very definition of a political leader is someone who is responsible to those who are not like him. A politician may be young and yet he must represent the old. He may be healthy and yet he must represent the sick. He may be wealthy and yet he must understand the poor. No politician can share in all the conditions of his constituents.

The assumptions upon which you base this claim that women must be politicians contain feminist suspicion and mistrust of men. Trust and interdependence, however, are the basis of social order.

Even when women are not politicians, they have very effective ways of influencing the thoughts and actions of men. You underrate how powerful women are, and have always been.

I’m not saying there should be no women politicians at all, but I believe the strengths of women lie elsewhere and there is much else for women to do. Men, on the other hand, do not have this other important role in culture.

—- Comments —-

Carolyn writes:

Well-spoken post, Megan B. Brava! And thank you.

I’m not writing to disagree with you, just to give another perspective from someone you might perceive as cynical–but who doesn’t think she is!

I, too, believe that we can defeat anything with Christ. (I’ve also read the end of the book and as a result am convinced the Good will ultimately triumph!)

But I also have been active in pro-life, pro-family politics at the local and state levels for over 20 years out here on the Left Coast–working for both candidates and issues (initiatives and referendums)–and have lost more campaigns than I’ve won. I poured my heart and soul into managing a campaign against assisted suicide four years ago, for example, gave it everything I had, worked to exhaustion, got almost no support from churches, and lost by a landslide. I’m currently involved in a campaign against homosexual marriage, getting very little support from churches, and not expecting to win. That doesn’t mean I work any less hard. When you’ve read the end of the Book, and you’re playing to an Audience of One, you can afford to go all out, joyously, regardless of the polls.

So I go into every campaign knowing we’ll very likely lose. I don’t think that’s cynical or defeatist. I think it’s being dug in for the long haul. (In our own American Revolution, American forces lost every major battle I can think of at the moment but still won the war!) I’ve seen lots of people over the last 21 years pour their heart and soul into a campaign, lose it, and go home to nurse their wounds. I’m still here, and still kicking!

Proph writes:

Allow me to rain on the optimism parade!

There are many encouraging trends among the youth, to be sure. These include, among Catholics, a rejuvenated love for the extraordinary form of the Mass. Attend any such Mass and you are likely to see not a single gray hair in the entire nave, and lots of squalling babies.

That said, the trends are meager and modest, and we’re not likely to see much fruit in our lifetimes. For myself, I know a lot more ex-Catholics than I do Catholics. And while it’s true that the Catholics my age are some of the best people I know, the non-Catholics my age are some of the worst — and there are lots more of them. I know my generation very well, having grown up in a pretty standard and representative white suburb in a moderately-conservative town in a fairly liberal state and attended a moderately prestigious East Coast liberal arts school. What I see in them has me worried about the future. They are largely aggressive, belligerent, ignorant, savage, and proud. And things will get worse as they come more fully into power, much worse.

The one positive is that these people are so utterly mired in perversion and selfishness that most of them won’t reproduce. Deo gratias! Evil is truly its own punishment, and undoing. Ms. “Megan B.” is right to say that there is cause for hope, but we cannot expect this hope to bear recognizable fruits in our lifetimes. Our children might, but we will die under the yoke of waxing liberalism. Our one comfort must be that God works in intervals greater than the brief lifetimes of men.

Jesse Powell writes:

I can see how one might get the impression that this site is all “doom and gloom.” But I think it is important to emphasize the many problems that American culture is facing and to emphasize the seriousness of these problems. What is typical is for people to deny that there are any “real problems” going on in the culture or that anything is “seriously wrong.” Indeed, quite the opposite is typical. People have a tendency to see things that are blatantly bad and glorify them as liberation. For instance, the divorce rate being 50 percent is usually viewed as a good thing because easy divorce means that all current marriages must be happy since the couple hasn’t divorced yet. In comparison when the divorce rate was 10 percent 100 years ago that must have been the result of “stifling oppression” and women in particular not being able to escape bad marriages. Another example is married women working. In the past a married woman working was considered scandalous and was definitely a black mark against her husband; it was known that a woman having to earn money represented a serious harm to the well being of the family. Today married women working is considered completely normal and it is the stay-at-home mother who is scandalous, who is lazy, who is “not contributing to society.” To know that there is something seriously wrong with the society is the first step to changing the society in the radical way it needs to be changed.

At the same time, not all is “doom and gloom”; the forces of creation have already established themselves in small enclaves and they are growing rapidly. That is the good news. The bad news is that the forces of destruction have a long head start in messing things up and they have completely taken over the mainstream of the culture. There are two broad forces at work in the culture today. The dominant force (at the current time) is the slow and continuous expansion of ever growing social disorder; this goes by the name of feminism or liberalism and the leading edge of this expansion of disorder is the mainstreaming of “homosexual marriage” and the rise of atheism especially among young adults. Social disorder in the United States has been growing continuously ever since reliable statistics on the subject started to be collected in 1870; social disorder accelerated after 1960. The other broad force at work in the culture today is a fast growing but very small revival in Christianity. This is a force of creation and growing social order; this goes by the name of the Christian Patriarchy Movement and the leading edge of this reemergence of social order is a collection of super-fast growing megachurches and the fast growing Christian home schooling movement. The beginnings of this revival can be traced back to 1970 when it started to be noticed that conservative Church denominations were growing faster than liberal Church denominations. It accelerated after 2000 when explicitly Christian Patriarchy Churches destined to grow to megachurches got started and when Christian Patriarchy home schooling materials became popularized.

Social liberalism is very large but growing slowly, social conservatism is very small but growing quickly. This means different things for the short term versus the long term. In the short term social liberalism’s huge size is dominant and social liberalism overall will grow in the short term. In the long term social conservatism’ fast growth will be dominant and social conservatism will become dominant over the long term. So, I am pessimistic short term and optimistic long term. However, each individual can embrace the social conservative cause today if they so choose and they will have allies to support them in their efforts. They will also get the satisfaction of seeing their little enclave of social conservatism grow thanks to their efforts and the efforts of their allies.

In terms of broad social indicators the best news is that women’s participation in the work force is falling; it peaked in 2000. Other important social indicators such as the out-of-wedlock birth ratio have noticeably slowed in their rate of increase. This shows that the revival is indeed having a noticeable effect on the society as a whole even though in its explicit Christian Patriarchy form is still very small.

When looking at a socially conservative organization one might want to support, the important consideration is whether it is moving in a more socially conservative direction over time or a more socially liberal direction. If the organization is becoming more conservative then it probably has some basis in faith; if it is becoming more liberal then it is probably a part of the wider liberal sphere regardless of how conservative it appears to be at the present time. Compare the organization’s positions today compared to five years ago to see what direction it is headed. The vast majority of secular organizations are moving in a liberal direction regardless of how conservative they appear right now. Some exceptions to this rule are Concerned Women for America, The Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society, and the Intercollegiate Studies Institute.

Laura writes:

Evangelical churches with guy pastors who play rock music and activities such as post-divorce seminars are not particularly “patriarchal” in my opinion, but that is a subject for another day.

Jeff W. writes:

Whenever someone says that only a woman can represent women, or only a black can represent blacks, etc., I am reminded of Samuel Johnson’s response when he heard it said, “He who rules o’er free men must himself be free.”

“To be sure,” said Dr. Johnson,  “Who drives fat oxen must himself be fat.”

Catherine H. writes:

It is important to distinguish between cynicism and despair. Unlike Megan, I am cynical about the current state of American society. The public practice of traditional Christianity and the arts of Western civilization are falling into decay, and show no signs of genuine recurrence. Nevertheless, there are a few communities (colleges, religious orders, parishes, even homeschooling families) that persevere in passing on what remains. Also, the true Church is immutable and eternal, regardless of the vanity and frailty of humans. Thus, I do not despair–that is, conclude that all is lost and give up. I will pass on what I know to my children, and pray that they will pass it on to theirs, and I will be doing all I can to preserve the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. I do not need to maintain hope for the preservation of American society to do this.

Incidentally, I do think that there will be an apocalypse encompassing the end to this current civilization. The book A Canticle for Leibowitz is an excellent depiction of what I have in mind, and makes for fascinating reading.

Alan writes:

In 1995 a St. Louis radio-TV announcer said on a TV program: “Young black males are destroying the city of St. Louis and destroying the schools of St. Louis.” He was promptly fired for telling the truth. It was true then and is still true today:

One night last month, a 26-year-old man was shot multiple times and killed and a 20-year-old woman was shot three times in the back, one block from the house where I lived 50 years ago. One night last week, three blocks from there, five people, ages 14-20, were shot, two killed and three injured, at Gravois Park, a small city park in south St. Louis. It is a safe bet that all the shots in both cases were fired by young black males.

This was the same city park where my mother and aunt took me to an Easter egg hunt in 1956. A hundred years ago, nuns from the Little Sisters of the Poor walked throughout that neighborhood to collect food and donations. My father and I walked at leisure through that park on summer days in 1962-’63 without a fear in the world. We would sooner have worried about being struck by a meteor falling out of the sky than being robbed, assaulted, or shot. That is because that neighborhood was clean, quiet, and peaceful in those years – because there was no “diversity” there. It is none of those things today – because it is filled with “diversity.”

There is nothing quite like seeing the neighborhoods where one lived and played as a child turned into combat zones by a consortium of do-gooders, “diversity” agitators, and spineless, acquiescent “conservatives.”

My father and uncle took part in World War II to defend this nation against savages. They knew how to repel savages. If they were here today, they would see large portions of American cities like St. Louis being surrendered to home-grown savages. And they might wonder whether their patriotic labor in that war was worth it.

Though she writes many things of merit, Megan B. is too young to comprehend how radically American culture has been changed (not by accident) over the past half century. I am old enough to have lived through all that, and I do not share her optimism, admirable and understandable though it is. Now-commonplace episodes like those I described above are one reason why. The refusal of “the law” and the courts – not inability, but refusal– to do what must be done to repel such criminal savages is another. A third is the fact that the Left controls the government, all major cultural institutions, and the very words and ideas through which most Americans now think, talk, and write about public policy issues. Undoing all those things will take a heroic, decades-long counter-revolution.

Traditionalist-minded websites like The Thinking Housewife, Tradition in Action, and View from the Right are a good step in that direction. And by all means I encourage Megan B. to stand firmly and unapologetically by her determination not to surrender to the decadent culture that surrounds all of us.

John E. writes:

Some women can, as Mrs. Wood acknowledges, “pull off” the politician/statesman role, but the ones who are truly successful at it are the ones who humbly and meekly understand and graciously accept that they are entering a masculine, male-dominated sphere and will not in any way seek to change that characteristic, even while still maintaining and holding true to her unchangeable feminine nature. It’s a very narrow tightrope than few women can be or should be expected to walk. Indeed, the advantage for the female politician may lie just there, in that she must embrace a particular humility even to start anywhere in public office, knowing that at no time should anyone be expected to take seriously an appeal she might bring forth about deference owed to her as a woman, which appeal is appropriate and ought to be honored in more private spheres. It would be appropriate for the public to be suspicious of the motives of the woman politician who particularizes and emphasizes “women’s issues.” It would be appropriate for the public to question whether she truly has the common good in mind like a good statesman ought to have. It is just this sort of activity, the emphasis on (dare I say obsession with) “women’s issues” that proves the mettle lacking in almost every female politician in higher office today. This does also, by the way, prove the same lacking in the vast majority of male politicians also, as the highest virtue to be found among their lot is apparently to appease and placate.

If there is one thing that I could correct about the liberal egalitarian order of our day it would be the naivete that so many women have in regard to the male psyche, specifically as relating to the concept that there are masculine activities that are necessary to be performed for civil society to survive, and that as a steadfast rule it should be men who perform these. I don’t want to come down too hard on Megan, who expressed many laudable sentiments of “holding fast no matter what” in her e-mail. We’ll fall for anything without fortitude. But it is extremely important for those women who desire civil order restored to understand what their insistence upon the preference to fight in the public sphere says to men, at least the men who don’t know better, which is so many in our day. Their insistence is a message to men that they can’t measure up in what is most fulfilling to the masculine nature, to protect and defend especially women. For those men with just a cursory sense of history, which is most men in our day, it says that the fact of men’s holding the role of safeguarding and protecting women through all of recorded history until just recently was merely a failed experiment, an accident.

 Laura writes:


Kimberly writes:

Laura said: “Even when women are not politicians, they have very effective ways of influencing the thoughts and actions of men. You underrate how powerful women are, and have always been.” This is the (not at all gloomy) truth that underlies The Thinking Housewife blog. It’s downright thrilling, if you ask me.

Most women underrate feminine power these days. Rather then coming to the humble understanding that it is impossible to be both a great mother and a great politician, we see that many bright young women have completely lost touch with the idea that feminine roles can earn the protection and support of a man, both physically and spiritually, and that men were made to fight this fight, and do a much better job fighting it than we could. And what is more flattering to a woman, or more thrilling a challenge for her, than to win a man’s heart so completely that he will stand up to defend something out of his realm based on pure love and loyalty to his wife? Breastfeeding for example; when you find a man that will defend breastfeeding even amongst feminist women, that is when you know that a woman in his life has won him over with her feminine role, with her life as a dedicated mother and the sweetness that he experienced in it.

It is not easy to change course for women today. I find very, very few who have. It takes either a (somehow?!) salvaged skill in using feminine mannerisms to sway men to a woman’s purposes, and the satisfying experience of its highly effective nature, or a tremendous amount of humility, courage, determination, and suffering, or a combination of all these.

Aug. 4

Megan B. writes:

As always, I have learned much already from your response as well as the responses of other readers (I especially enjoyed what Carolyn and John E. had to say).  Thank you :)

I fully concede that I have a lot more knowledge and experience yet to gain!  Let me also say that I do have days in which moving to an island and getting away from all the ridiculousness of this world is very appealing, so the optimism I usually have is not at all constant.

I do want to point out that I did not intend to imply that men are incapable of representing women (women like Hillary Clinton have done more harm to women than, for example, Ronald Reagan).  Rather, I was attempting to communicate that any man who is pro-life is immediately regarded as ‘anti-woman’, whatever that means, and targeted by the media.

The same way a man who comes from nothing is seen as more ‘relatable’ and therefore believed to be a champion of the poor man when running for office, it seems to me that a woman who sees the tragedies of feminism and who is actually a woman may be listened to more (whether or not that’s justified is another issue)…but then again, the media hates those women too.  Perhaps my generalization goes too far.

I also think that ‘woman leader’ looks a whole lot different for the people who read this blog than for those who champion the Huffington Post.  I consider women who love and cherish their husbands/children leaders in their communities, and they make far more of an impact than they and the rest of the world realize.

I’ve read various posts on this blog that describe the power of femininity…the world could really use a lot more of it, though I think we’re so far away from it that people, especially young women, don’t really understand it.  Before discovering this blog, I didn’t even know it existed.  But, I think that in the end a lot of women who have gotten caught up in trying to be more masculine end up being very jealous of, well, women like you! You and your blog are just wonderful.

Laura writes:

Thank you.

I misinterpreted Megan’s point about women in office and I can see her real argument makes more sense.

However, I don’t think it’s necessarily true that voters are more sympathetic to conservative women politicians, as we saw with the vicious treatment of Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin. In fact, liberal women may be more hostile to a conservative woman politician than to a male one.

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