- The Washington Times - Monday, October 31, 2005

Material Mom

“Am I a good parent? I find myself wondering this a lot recently. In part this is because of a minor child-behavior crisis we’re going through with one of our kids; in part it’s the result of some news stories I’ve been reading.

“Exhibit A: Madonna. The Material Girl has been giving forth with her opinions about parenting. She is strict, especially where the media are concerned. ‘TV is poison. No one even talks about it around here. We have televisions, but they’re not hooked up to anything but movies. We don’t have magazines or newspapers in the house, either.’ Nor is messiness tolerated chez Madonna: ‘If you leave your clothes on the floor, they’re gone when you come home. … [Daughter] Lourdes has to earn all her clothes back.’ … Reading this makes me cringe … at my own slovenly incompetence at parenting. I could never consistently enforce that kind of discipline. My kids know that with a tremble of the lip, a winning smile, or an especially diligent piano practice, they can turn all my disciplinary intentions to mush.”

— John Derbyshire, writing on “Teach Your Children Well,” Thursday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

Breeding right

“The decline of mainline church membership over the last century had more to do with sex than theology, according to research by a trio of sociologists. The popular notion that conservative churches are growing because mainline churches are too liberal is being challenged by new research that suggests a simpler cause: the use of birth control. …

“Differences in fertility rates account for 70 percent of the decline of mainline Protestant church membership from 1900 to 1975 and the simultaneous rise in conservative church membership, the sociologists said. …

“Or to put the matter differently, the so-called decline of the mainline may ultimately be attributable to its earlier approval of contraception. … The researchers investigated other possible causes for mainline decline — support for homosexual and abortion rights, a lower view of the Bible, a higher ‘apostasy’ rate, and fewer conversions from outside the Christian fold. But they dismissed these other factors as ‘irrelevant’ because none could produce numerical changes significant enough to explain the shift in church membership.

“‘Higher fertility and better retention thus account for the conservatives’ rising share of the Protestant population,’ they concluded.”

— Greg Warner in “Birth control, not liberalism, explains mainline decline, researchers say” Oct. 18 in Associated Baptist Press

Blame game

“One cannot help but be struck by the intensity of the blame game that erupted in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. …

“There is, and must be, a guilty party. Someone, some person or persons, some sinister congeries, some identifiable and vested interests, can and must be held accountable. …

“A widely shared assumption is gradually becoming a part of our era’s unstated desiderata: Simply put, we seem increasingly to assume that everything untoward happening in the world can and should ultimately be attributed to the malfeasance of some human being or human agency. If most educated Americans now find ridiculous the idea of supernatural intervention, they find it equally difficult to accept the possibility that there can be any inherent limits on human agency. Nothing, so to speak, is ever reliably left to chance.”

— Wilfred M. McClay, writing on “Master’s Anger,” in the November issue of Touchstone

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