The Thinking 


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Why We Can Afford Children

January 14, 2010


A return to traditional family values may sound nice, but it makes no sense economically. The world has changed. We can no longer afford many children; women must devote themselves to work; and institutions must take over child-rearing.

This is the common objection to any proposals for restoring the traditional family. But it is a myth. In fact, the opposite is true. We cannot afford to go on as we are.bigstockphoto_Abstract_Floral_Decoration_Com_1081762[1]


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The Earthquake

January 14, 2010


A Coast Guard cutter in Guantánomo Bay rocked back and forth when the earthquake in Haiti struck even though the epicenter was 200 miles away. The scale of the disaster is unimaginable. My heart and prayers go out to all Haitians.


Popularizing Gnosticism

January 14, 2010


OLIVE CHANCELLOR, the bluestocking feminist in Henry James’s The Bostonians, is a classic gnostic, if one draws on the definition of Eric Voegelin. “It was the usual things of life that filled her with silent rage; which was natural enough, inasmuch as, to her vision, almost everything that was usual was iniquitous.” Olive dreams of martyrdom and, as Thomas Bertonneau pointed out in the previous thread, she appears to view herself as a descendent of Hypatia, the Neo-Platonist scholar in early fifth century A.D., whom a Christian mob murdered during the burning of the famous Musaeon, or Library, at Alexandria. The gnostic is radically dissatisfied with the world at large and nevertheless retains hope that it can be changed. If that means going down in flames, as Olive does in her own way, that is the price to pay.

Lawrence Auster writes:

Your summation of the six characteristics of the gnostic is good. I am excited to see people picking up on the recent discussions and trying to bring gnosticism into ordinary usage as an accessible concept and analytical tool which can help us understand so many contemporary belief systems.

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Miss Birdseye

January 13, 2010


Miss Birdseye is a delightful character in Henry James’s novel The Bostonians. Or let’s say the elderly activist and irrepressible humanitarian would be delightful if she weren’t so vividly and painfully real. I have known Miss Birdseye in various young and old incarnations, and perhaps you have too. The problem with this woman is that she is fundamentally decent. She is just so blind to human nature. She is lost, astray in her grandiose fantasies of rescuing the dispossessed and fanatically prejudiced against her own people. Here is a description of her early in the book:

She was a little old lady, with an enormous head; that was the first thing Ransom noticed – the vast, fair, protruberant, candid, ungarnished brow, surmounting a pair of weak, kind, tired-looking eyes, and ineffectually balanced in the rear by a cap which had the air of falling backward, and which Miss Birdseye suddenly felt for with unsuccesful irrelevant movements. Read More »


Those Scruffy, No-Good Homeschoolers

January 13, 2010


An article in the University of Maryland’s Philosophy and Public Policy Quarterly argues the evils of homeschooling. It states:

The husbands and wives in these families feel themselves to be under a religious compulsion to have large families, a homebound and submissive wife and mother who is responsible for the schooling of the children, and only one breadwinner. These families are not living in romantic, rural, self-sufficient farmhouses; they are in trailer parks, 1,000 square foot homes, houses owned by relatives, and some, on tarps in fields or parking lots.

Izzy Lyman offers an excellent rebuttal at the website Big Journalism.

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Beards in American History

January 13, 2010


According to this fascinating glimpse into the subject of male facial hair and presidential politics, only five U.S. presidents have worn full beards, supporting the argument by one commenter that while facial hair may be for frontiersmen, hippies and prophets, it is essentially un-American. However, when one takes into consideration mustaches and mutton chops, the claim becomes more dubious. Nevertheless, there has not been a bearded presidential candidate since 1916 and the last man with facial hair to win the presidency was Taft in 1908. The 1912 election marked a turning point as it was the first time a candidate with facial hair was defeated since 1856.

Nicholas Whyte writes:

The last bearded man to run for the Presidency was Charles Evan Hughes, the Republican candidate narrowly defeated by Woodrow Wilson in 1916. It is said that Hughes “grew his famous beard in 1890 in the interest of efficiency – to save trips to the barber.” Theodore Roosevelt, reconciled with the Republican Party, unenthusiastically campaigned for Hughes whom he called “Wilson with whiskers.”

William Howard Taft



Why We Must Discriminate, cont.

January 12, 2010


Tammy writes:

A friend directed me to your blog today and I am so glad she did. I decided to drop you a note and let you know how much I enjoyed it. After reading your current post, I clicked on your first entry in your Featured Posts list, “Why We Must Discriminate.” My first thought while reading it was, “Wow, this is a very brave woman to even touch this subject in a public blog.”

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The Bostonians – A Book Club Selection

January 12, 2010


The Bostonians, by Henry James
A Thinking Housewife Book Club Selection

Before there were pick up artists, dark lords of singles bars and beta men studying the fine points of female psychology, there was Basil Ransom, a man who knew how to conquer and reform a feminist.

That’s depressing when you think about it. One hundred and twenty five years ago next month, the first installment of one of the most perceptive books ever written about the cultural decline and fall of Western women, the Henry James novel The Bostonians, was serialized in a magazine. Thirty-five years before female suffrage and long before the birth control pill was in stock, James saw it all. He foresaw the catastrophic shriveling up of the feminine life force into a strained caricature of masculinity. He knew Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem before they ever drew a breath. He could have written the manifesto for NOW (with more eloquence) and delivered Nancy Pelosi’s first speech as Speaker of the House. He warned the world. And no one listened.

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In Defense of a Clean Shave and the Chiseled Chin

January 12, 2010


Michael Hegel writes:

I recently discovered your blog and must commend you for not covering day-to-day politics but instead taking the time to address the more interesting social questions that actually impact our daily lives. I can’t say beards are a hot topic, but as your readers appear to have some preference for the look, I’d like to offer a contrary and perhaps ridiculously principled defense of the clean-shaven, Roman way.

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The Dressed-to-Kill Feminist

January 11, 2010

 Home Living

At her wonderful blog, Lydia Sherman promotes modest feminine clothing in a forum of engaging civility. She often recommends lovely, easy-to-make patterns for clothes to wear both at home and on special occasions for the homemaker who is pressed for cash. For this she has been the frequent target of breathakingly vicious hatred.

Yup. You heard me right. A woman who publicly honors home and family, who promotes domestic crafts and home-sewn clothes, who praises the tranquility of a well-kept house, is hated. She is hated with the sort of ferocity typically reserved for kidnappers, axe murderers or cruel, villainous dictators. 

Here is a comment Lydia received today from a feminist reader in Europe:

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The Discredited Beard

January 11, 2010




Women, or let’s say most women, cannot grow beards. That is a biological fact. The cultural meaning of the beard, this seemingly incontrovertible emblem of masculinity, has undergone a profound and rarely-discussed transformation in recent years.  

Sage McLauglin writes:

Thank you for your lovely and challenging weblog. It is a delight. 

I have only one thing to add to the discussion you’ve begun about “the male with no plumage.” There is another data point which is consistent with your view that the contemporary move toward casual dress is an assault on masculine authority. Notice the difference between the men in the two photos (see below). Yes, all the men in that goofy shot of Bill Gates and his cuddly buddies are clean-shaven, whereas almost all the men in the older photo are wearing at least some part of their beards. In my own work I have noticed a palpable suspicion for men with facial hair. Read More »


Girls on the Go

January 11, 2010


Two teenagers, one possibly as young as 12, walked into a bank in suburban Cincinnati last week and demanded cash. They did not have weapons. The bank turned the money over.

There are two interesting aspects to this story: the ease with which unarmed teenagers committed a robbery of a financial institution with surveillance cameras in broad daylight and the fact that the teenagers were girls.

According to this USA Today story about the case, crime among teenage girls has risen 38 percent since 1999. The article states:

Although robbery by females is not as common as robbery by males, the gender gap is narrowing, said James Garbarino, professor of child psychology at Loyola University in Chicago and author of See Jane Hit: Why Girls are Growing More Violent and What We Can Do About It.

“Parents are telling their girls, ‘You can do anything a boy can.’ That makes them now vulnerable” to television violence and other social influences, Garbarino said.

The two girls, who are black, are apparently still at large, anothing astounding facet of this story. There are no news reports stating otherwise.

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Fashionably Patriarchal

January 9, 2010


Charles W. Eliot

Charles W. Eliot, former president of Harvard, was misidentified in this recent post on men’s clothing. Here is a striking photo of him dressed like a man of his time. He is with his grandson. Notice how he does not look at the camera in the cuddly, I-just-want-to-be-loved manner of the eminent men of our time. (See any photo of Bill Gates for contrast.)

Dale F., who sent the photo, writes:

I was intrigued by the comment from one of your readers on the post “The Male with No Plumage,” about the correct identification of the men in the first row. She was right; the caption in the original had the identifications transposed. 

In the course of confirming that, I came upon this photo that fits rather well with the topic of the post. Read More »


Gnosticism 101

January 9, 2010


Mary Daly. who died earlier this week, was a gnostic prophet. If you have any doubt on this score, read Gloria Steinem’s words upon news of Miss Daly’s death:

“She was a great trained philosopher, theologian, and poet, and she used all of those tools to demolish patriarchy — or any idea that domination is natural — in its most defended place, which is religion.”[emphasis mine]

Gnosticism is ….. well, it is the air we breathe, the sun on our faces, the water we drink. It is the ersatz religions that have changed our lives: feminism,  Marxism, homosexualism, environmentalism, Darwinism, etc. In short, liberalism is gnostic.

For excellent discussion of gnosticism, see Lawrence Auster here and here. In his Science, Politics and Gnosticism, Eric Voegelin gives six characteristics of the gnostic. In summary, these are:

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Men in Suits

January 9, 2010



In comments on the post Every Day is Dress-Down Day, James P. nicely sums up what others have expressed regarding the pervasive rejection of traditional business attire for men:

Men in suits and ties radiate power and prestige, but women cannot gain such an appearance of power and prestige, because women who wear suits and ties simply look ridiculous. Therefore, the solution, from the feminist standpoint, is to reduce the male appearance of power and prestige by discouraging them from wearing suits and by encouraging them to look as slovenly as possible. In this, as in so many other realms, if liberalism cannot build up the “underprivileged,” it seeks to tear down the “privileged.”  


The Queen and her Ruler

January 9, 2010



The 1937 movie Victoria the Great is a moving portrayal of the marriage of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. It illustrates how the most powerful woman in the world managed to retain her husband’s love and express her tender submission to him.

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The Home That Doesn’t Satisfy

January 8, 2010



Now that housing prices are relatively stagnant, is there any purpose to home ownership? The men interviewed for this New York Times article view houses as burdens unless they make them rich. A single man who has no intention of marrying wonders why he cannot find any satisfaction in his 3,300-square-foot home. And a couple who work a combined 150 hours a week at their jobs give up on ownership.

Michael S., who sent the article, writes:

Since when is it a “fairy-tale” to regard the house you own as a place to live in? Isn’t that what houses are for? Seems to me that, in light of the past decade or so, it’s a “fairy tale” to suppose that buying a house is going to make you financially rich. Seems to me that the purpose of “owning” the house in which you live is to create wealth of another, more lasting, kind.

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The Unexpected Pregnancy

January 7, 2010



In 2007, Mia Sardella, then an 18-year-old honor student at Drexel University, secretly gave birth and left the infant to die in the trunk of a car. No one – not even her friends or her divorced parents – knew she was pregnant. Sardella, the granddaughter of a prominent financial executive, may seem an evil woman, but I think she was temporarily insane, a victim of profound cultural dissonance.

Young women today are fed the constant message that sex is natural and simple. They inhabit an intensely erotic world. Despite the widespread availability of contraceptives, adolescents are careless and no matter how enlightened sex education is, this carelessness is quite normal in a young virgin. Some of these deceived girls suddenly face the fact that sex is not so simple; it is all too natural. A small percentage enter a state of such strong denial that they do not tell anyone that they are pregnant and even appear to deny the obvious to themselves. They move through life like automatons. They are the living embodiment of cognitive dissonance on a mass level.

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