The Thinking 


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Cuomo at Church

February 23, 2011


NEW YORK Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is divorced, has been living with his girlfriend, the Food Network celebrity Sandra Lee. Under Catholic canon law, that makes him guilty of “public concubinage” and he is not entitled to take communion. While many thousands of Catholics appear to be unaware of canon law, Cuomo cannot plead ignorance. As reported in The New York Times, Edward N. Peters, a consultant to Vatican court, has publicly criticized the governor for continuing to receive communion and has called for denying him communion. This is a positive development.

By the way, Cuomo took his young daughters to the gay pride parade in Manhattan last fall. He is an exemplary Catholic all around. Read More »


A Woman Who Speaks the Truth

February 22, 2011


I’VE OFTEN wondered why more people who have divorced their decent spouses don’t later publicly regret their selfishness and tell the whole world just how stupid and thoughtless they were. Probably because repentance hurts or because many people who initiate divorce are too far gone for self-reflection. Here, however, is just that: a woman who has devoted a blog to describing her divorce and its effects. She confirms my point. Divorce is spiritually destructive to those who initiate it. She writes:   

If you have forced a frivolous divorce on your spouse and children, you will never be able to shake off the stench of your selfish act. You will have to explain it to people you date and to their families and to their children and to the people your children marry and to your grandchildren when they start to ask questions about your life. Probably you will be ashamed to tell them the naked truth because it will reveal your selfish, frivolous character and there is nothing you can say to sugarcoat this huge personal defect without resorting to half truths. They won’t say anything to your face, but they will discuss it when you leave the room and they will question your suitability as a potential family member…as well they should.

Relatives and friends who witness divorce and say nothing, imposing no shame on the one who initiates divorce and pointing no fingers, are selfish too. It is not kind to withhold judgment.


Read More »


Abortion and Unwed Motherhood

February 21, 2011


TRAVEL THROUGHOUT America, into small towns, or big suburbs or dense cities, and you will find the phenomenon of single motherhood. One of the most obvious developments of recent years is the lower middle-class white girl who comes from an intact or relatively intact family and who ends up as a single mother. She finds herself in this situation because she is anti-abortion and yet not anti-fornication. There is no pressure on her to marry and yet there is the good and healthy moral incentive to refuse abortion.

She may be cheered by friends and religious organizations for her decision to have a child. And, refusing abortion is the right thing to do. However, it is easy to confuse this heroic decision as something that makes single motherhood right and good. Unless both abortion and unwed pregnancy are stigmatized, social conservatism becomes an unwitting promoter of single motherhood.

Abortion rates have fallen in recent years while single motherhood has increased precipitously. Here is a 2008 piece by Selwyn Duke on the relation between anti-abortion sentiment and the growth of single motherhood. The answer is not for anti-abortion efforts to become less zealous.  Both abortion and single motherhood were shameful fifty years ago and the incidence of both was much lower.


Brett Stevens on the Economic Value of Chastity

February 18, 2011


BRETT STEVENS, at the website Amerika, argues that the loss of chastity as a social ideal is part of a larger denigration of hierarchy. As such, it is connected to economic decline of the middle class. He writes:

Do we want each sexual act to have meaning, or should we remove context? Do we want a nation of equally impoverished middle classes, or a hierarchy? These questions are eternal because they are mathematical, not human, in origin.


Falling in Love with Me

January 26, 2011


PATRICK writes:

Attached is an article in which the author recounts her decision to terminate her marriage.

It is so familiar, so tired.  It is narcissistic and at points even solipsistic.  There is no thought given to duty or morality.   She infrequently refers to her husband’s feelings, and such references seem hollow.  I think her and her fellow travelers simply live in a separate moral universe than traditionalists – and I despair. Read More »


Beatrice and Sidney Webb, Part II

January 20, 2011



I have become a Socialist not because I believe it would ameliorate the conditions of the masses (though I think it would do so) but because I believe that only under communal ownership of the means of production can you arrive at the most perfect form of individual development – at the greatest stimulus to individual effort; in other words complete Socialism is only consistent with absolute individualism. As such, some day, I will stand on a barrel and preach it.

Beatrice Potter, the British heiress who ventured into London slums and dockyards, wrote these words in her diary in 1890. She was born to socialism on her first meeting with Sidney Webb, then civil servant and Fabian socialist. Or rather, as she put it in her diary, she realized then that she had been a socialist all along. There was an element of predestination in her understanding of the phenomenon: the elect were chosen from birth.

Beatrice’s two published diaries, My Apprenticeship and Our Partnership, provide insights into the psychology of a nineteenth-century Anglican collectivist. Reading her recollections, one can’t help but conclude that her illusions about the salutary effects of socialism had a lot to do with her illusions about herself. There is a running conflict with her own womanliness. She wants to commit herself to this bold project of reforming society. On the other hand, she realizes she is not cut out for it, and has painful memories of Joseph Chamberlain, “a sacrament of pain fitting me for a life of loneliness and work.” She seems embarrassed and disappointed in herself for having fallen in love.

Sidney Webb, as it turned out, would dispel this conflict. Before he could do this, she had to overcome her dislike of him. She wrote in her diary:

His tiny tadpole body, unhealthy skin, lack of manner, cockney pronunciation, poverty are all against him. This self-complacent egotism, this disproportionate view of his own position is at once repulsive and ludicrous.  Read More »


Famous Couples: Beatrice and Sidney Webb

January 18, 2011





Sidney Webb the socialist dined here to meet the Booths. A remarkable little man with a huge head on a very tiny body … somewhat unkempt, spectacles and a bourgeois black coat shiny with wear; somewhat between a London card and a German professor. His pronunciation is cockney, his H’s are shaky, his attitudes by no means elegant — with his thumbs fixed pugnaciously in a far from immaculate waistcoat, with is bulky head thrown back and his little body forward, he struts even when he stands, delivering himself with an extraordinary rapidity of thought and utterance and with an expression of inexhaustible self-complacency.

BEATRICE POTTER wrote these words in her diary the day of her first extended meeting with Sidney Webb in February, 1890 over dinner with others at the Devonshire House Hotel in London. The wealthy heiress, already considered a spinster at 32, was not entirely repulsed by this déclassé figure, the son of a Leicester hairdresser. She added to the above: “But I like the man. There is a directness of speech – an open-mindedness and imaginative warm-heartedness – which should carry him far.”

Two years later, after her repeated refusals and an almost constant exchange of letters, they married. 

This unlikely pair became an influential force in British politics and culture. Founders of the London School of Economics and the weekly journal The New Statesman, they were the foremost proponents of Fabianism, the idealistic strain of socialism which shaped the modern Nanny state. 

They were “two second-rate minds,” as Beatrice put it, a judgment that has been amply confirmed by posterity, especially in light of their later enthusiasm for Stalinism and their support for eugenics. Nevertheless, these architects of modern collectivism, with its bureaucratic governance by experts and gradual permeation of all institutions, were intelligent and enterprising. Their romance and marriage was a strange melding of Victorian refinement and quasi-religious political fervor. Read More »


The French Family Dissolves

May 26, 2010



There is a movement in the United States to bring about civil unions not just for homosexuals but for heterosexual couples too. It’s interesting to observe how this idea has been instituted in France and its effect on French society. France has not abolished marriage but it has done the next best thing, given couples the option of forming their own contractual relationships according to their own terms. France has created a legal relationship form called the “Civil Pact of Solidarity” in English, or PACS using the French acronym. Read More »


Illegitimacy, Class and an Anti-Child Culture

April 23, 2010


IN THIS PREVIOUS ENTRY, Jesse Powell and I discussed the differences in illegitimacy rates and family stability along class lines, looking at the widely held view that because the college-educated and affluent suffer relatively low rates of out-of-wedlock births, they are not seeing serious levels of family breakdown. We continue our discussion here. Read More »


Births to Unmarried Mothers Exceed 40 Percent; White Fertility Low

April 6, 2010



The federal government has released the preliminary birth data for 2008. For the first time the out-of-wedlock birth ratio is over 40 percent in the United States, at 40.6. For non-Hispanic whites the ratio is at 28.6 percent; for Hispanics (who may be of any race) it is 52.5 percent. For non-Hispanic blacks it is at 72.3 percent.

Of special note, the black out-of-wedlock birth ratio stayed about the same for 10 whole years, from 1995 until 2005 at about 70 percent (in 1995 it was 69.9 and in 2005 it was 69.3.) One would have hoped that this ratio had hit some kind of natural ceiling and that it couldn’t go any higher. Perhaps that was the end point of family breakdown and human resiliency meant it couldn’t continue to climb. Sadly, that is not the case. The black out-of-wedlock birth ratio has risen steadily and quickly for three years in a row. In 2005, the non-Hispanic black out-of-wedlock birth ratio was 69.9. In 2006, it was 70.7. In 2007, it was 71.6 and in 2008, 72.3 percent.  Read More »


A World of Mister Wrongs

February 20, 2010



WOMEN HAVE reacted with outrage at the proliferation of books and Internet sites recommending Game and pickup strategies for men. At the same time, many women pursue their own reductionist romancing.

Lori Gottlieb, the author of the new book Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough, has made a big hit with her advice. Here is a venomous critique of the book at The Spearhead website. By the way, Gottlieb is the perfect modern authority on love: She dated for 25 years and finally conceived a child through artificial insemination. In the words of the writer Obsidian:

Gottlieb’s book no doubt will be viewed as “dating advice;” perhaps even as “self-help”-and in any event, such books are marketed in droves to Women, for years. All kinds of truly dehumanizing language and allusions are made to Men, such as the very title of the book we’re discussing; we’re rated and objectified, ranked and given the heave-ho for the slightest imperfection, infraction or just the misfortune of being human -a necessary evil all in the name of the Precious Ladies’ search for “Mr. Right”…

The sheer arrogance, hubris and out and out megalomania, that this Woman exudes is something the likes of which I’ve never set my eyes on before-and believe you me, I done seen a lot of stuff…

Read More »


One Father’s ‘Remorseless Interrogations’

February 10, 2010



SOMETIMES it seems the world has been emptied of fatherliness. You know, father, the big guy who lives with your mother. You know, the guy who says no. Maybe the world took Jean-Paul Sartre too seriously when he said, “There are no good fathers … It is not the men who are at fault but the paternal bond which is rotten.”

Still here and there, fathers, typically men who haven’t gotten the message that the paternal bond is rotten through and through, show up for duty. Here’s one.

James H. writes:

As the father of four girls, I’ve faced many “dates” and do not feel as though I’ve done my job unless I’ve managed to instill some fear and trepidation. Read More »


The Unfaithful Wife, cont.

December 13, 2009


Fitzgerald writes:

I was glancing through some of your older posts and found this entry on unfaithful women. I wanted to offer a few comments on the remark by a woman reader who said women have been forced to put up with male infidelity for eons.This is, sadly, very naive. While it may be true that men are more apt to cheat than women, it is not true that it’s the rare woman who cheats. This is a form of the same lie that says women don’t have sex drives, good girls don’t, women want commitment and use sex to get love… blah, blah, blah. Balderdash.bigstockphoto_Abstract_Pattern_2492330[1]


Read More »


When a Husband Fails as a Man

December 13, 2009


A reader takes strong exception to my advice to a woman who feels her husband is not manly. Laurence Butler, in his comments in the previous post, writes to the woman:

If the leadership role has been temporarily vacated, you had better step in lest your children grow up to imitate a stoic but sorrowful mother doting on an unimpressive father. I think it’s totally appropriate for you to tell him you are dissatisfied with his behavior, with his composure, and with his unwillingness to supply the manly presence you fell in love with and pledged to spend the rest of your life with. If he ‘wishes’ for you to leave him alone and let him keep his femininity, I think you have an obligation to the both of you to not respect that wish. This isn’t to recommend incessant nagging or anything, but woman in her highest role, the heroines in the great plays remembered throughout history, did not sit idly by and watch their lord’s mind, body, and manor decay from the foundation while she put up nice curtains. Too frequently now are the women who allowed this, or worse those who encouraged the emasculation of men/the masculation of women, being reenacted by posterity.



Married to a Wimp

December 12, 2009


Dear Thinking Housewife,

Men are not taught how to be men nowadays. What can I do about the fact that my husband is such a girl?

Regards,                                                                                   bigstockphoto_Ashberry_356525[1]

Anonymous (in an unspecified location)


Dear Anonymous,

I’m sorry, Anonymous, this question makes me mad. Not mad at you, but mad at this. In many ways, the debate over marriage is over, isn’t it? Women are already married to women. And, men are already married to men.

Read More »

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