October 19, 2018
What Good Men Dare Dream When Together
October 19, 2019: Feast Day of the Prophet Joel (St. James Calendar)
" . . . your old men shall dream dreams and your young men shall see visions . . . " (2:28)
There were old men and young men, as well as sons, and women and daughters, in attendance at Touchstone's Patriarchy: Fatherhood & the Restoration of Culture conference last week.
While no one claimed to have dreamed a dream or to have seen a vision at the conference, the revelation of Holy Scripture, along with facts of human life, were presented in all their clarity on the topic under discussion.
By all accounts, "Patriarchy" was the finest conference we've ever held. Over parts of three days, fifteen (if I count myself) speakers explored fatherhood (human and divine) and manhood through the lenses of theology, history, sociology, education, economics, psychology, literature, humor, sports, narrative, cinema, and pastoral mentoring. I hope we will be able to present the results in a book.
Perhaps the most politically incorrect note sounded (and there were many), aside from the title of the conference itself, was from Tony Esolen, a concluding proposal about recovering the "boy genius" through "patriarchal—including fraternal—groups." That is, exclusively male institutions or groups. Applied to education itself, this would not go down well with today's liberal educators. (Besides, they can no longer conceive of boys' groups: how would you divide up today's new students in boys and girls when they've been taught they can claim to be the opposite sex of their own bodies? Look what's become of the Boy Scouts: now just "Scouts." Gone are the "Boys.") Esolen's paper will appear in Touchstone in due course, as will other talks.
Allan Carlson's concluding talk, "Is Patriarchy Inevitable?" will appear in the January/February 2019 issue of Touchstone. It is not only timely, given the recent explosive rhetoric in the war between the sexes, but wise and objective in presenting the true nature of the conflict as well as its future. Stay tuned!
May I suggest that if you do not subscribe to Touchstone, now would be a opportune time to sign up, either for print or digital? And if you are already a subscriber, now would be a perfect time to give a (discounted) gift subscription to a friend. Forthcoming articles for January/February 2019 include, in addition to Allan C. Carlson's:
• S. M. Hutchens on GAFCON and women's ordination, "the issue that will not go away"
• Kristen Gregory on talking to one's children about sex
• David F. Watson on Down syndrome, human life & the will to power
• John Williams on the powerful connection between contraception and cultural/moral decline
•Chris Humphrey on how advertising pregnancy help reduces abortion numbers
• Anthony Esolen "Surprised by Delight"; on the sexes being enthralled by each other, and man being enthralled by God
• James Altena on the link between women's ordination and sodomy
• Rebekah Curtis "Big Family Character"; on literary case studies of large families
• Pete Jermann "A Sexuality That Speaks to Us"; on how true sexuality is defined by three words: father, mother, and child
Edited videos of our Patriarchy conference will be available in about a month to all conference participants, and to the public for a fee.
While it is fashionable today to call patriarchy toxic, it is worth remembering that patriarchy as intended and modeled in God the Father, and the Son, is healing for all. Yes, there is a fallen, toxic, abusive patriarchy, just as there are toxic presidents, mothers, teachers, doctors, lawyers, clerics, coaches, and Sunday School teachers. We don't throw out their roles because of incompetence or worse. We go back to the ideal and strive for excellence and, in the case of patriarchy, virtue.
Edmund Burke said something like, when bad men combine, good men must associate. Otherwise, the bad will triumph. Such men associating might be called a patriarchal or fraternal group, but they're nothing to fear but to welcome, if we hope to restore culture.
Yours for Christ, Creed & Culture,
James M. Kushiner
Executive Director, The Fellowship of St. James
James M. Kushiner is Executive Editor of Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity, and Executive Director of The Fellowship of St. James.