The Rarity of the God-Fearing Man by Russell Kirk

The Rarity of the God-Fearing Man

by Russell Kirk

A Michigan farmer, some years ago, climbed to the roof of his silo, and there he painted, in great red letters that the Deity could see, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” These words are on that roof yet. When in his cups, which was often enough, that farmer thrashed his daughter to fill her with a holy terror.

In his way, I suppose, the drunken brute did fear God. Surviving the thrashings, his daughter grew to be a woman; and though she did not much fancy her father’s company, she lived as decent a life as most. Her upbringing, bad though it was, may have been better than the formative years of the average American child nowadays, “permissively” reared. To the permitted brat with the permissive parents, few appetites are denied, and he grows up ignorant of the norms of human existence. Never learning in childhood that certain things exist which we ought to fear, he slides into physical maturity, bored, flabby in character, and moved by irrational impulses toward violence and defiance, the consequence of a profound disorder in personality.

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