It’s move-in time at college campuses around the country. I’ve participated in this annual event for many years now, as a student or faculty member. I’ve always loved the range of emotions associated with the event—not-fully stoical fathers, mothers offering final bits of life advice, bored siblings, some first years itching, just itching, for the minivan to drive away and adventure to begin, and other first years looking and feeling very, very young and out of their element.

Today, for the first time, I was neither student nor faculty but an utterly stoical father (I promise, utterly stoical) driving away from campus and, in what I’m sure is entirely stereotypical, wondering when the laws of the universe changed and time sped up. That rush to the hospital to meet this little, beautiful being who completely changed my life seems just a blink ago. Turns out my dad was right about the passage of time after all. Another point to Dad.

The adventure—including joy and heartbreak—of having children is central to the human condition. There is no history without it, no politics, art, music, religion, literature, poetry—none of it—if life is not given. No future, either. The book of Genesis tells us that a man will leave father and mother to cleave to his wife, but almost immediately the text informs us the direction of that cleaving, and Eve conceives. The story begins in marriage, but the story would not continue without children.

Odd, then, that so many people decide not to have children, and so few children at that.

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Perhaps it’s as interesting to observe how children are now often brought to life, increasingly, outside the bond of marriage and beyond the limits of natural conception. At Public Discourse this last month we’ve hosted several essays on procreation and the care of children. They’re well worth reading if you missed them, or at the very least, re-reading and sharing with others.

First, Kevin Schmiesing explores the ways in which sexual attraction can, when properly ordered, bring individuals out of their self-absorption and into the community of family. It’s no small thing, thus, when cultural mores and technological means allow people the option of “Procreating Alone” and risk the nature of human sociality itself.

Samantha Stephenson explores a similar theme in her essay, “Elon Musk and the Reproductive Revolution.” The sexual revolution upset gender relations, but the technological revolution shatters the historical conceptions of motherhood and fatherhood and their relationship to their children.

Our society might be producing children through technology rather than mutual self-gift, but the mindset of production and making doesn’t stop in the nursery. Once humans are thought of as attainments or choices rather than gifts, we tend to forget that children are persons, with all the needs persons have for leisure, adventure, and growth. Felix James Miller ponders the death of summer camps in America and their replacement with robotics seminars and summer study sessions. Replacing canoe races and archery classes with internships and skills-based boot camps might seem insignificant, but as Miller argues, something quite human is at stake.

In fact, much of our society seems to have lost touch with its humanity, as Shilo Brooks writes in his essay, “The Psychology of Digital Dehumanization,” and Devorah Goldman’s startling interview with Dr. Miriam Grossman on how gender activists deface pediatric medicine.

Against this cultural backdrop, Elayne Allen, our recently departed managing editor now beginning a Ph.D., and to whom we send our good wishes, thinks through audiobooks and their place in leisure reading, and Christopher Scalia justifies the study of literature.

Thomas Aquinas suggests that of all creation, only the person is created for its own sake, only the person is always an end in itself. Public Discourse is untiring in its support of the human person and joyfully resists dehumanization in all of its forms.

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From the Archives

While we’re thinking about children, the archives are bursting with great content, but I might suggest Nathanael Blake’s “The Problems of Putting off Children” and Alexandra Davis’s lovely reflection on why she’s not governed by fear in choosing to bring more children into the world. Alex is our new managing editor, and we’re delighted to have her join us at PD.

What We’re Reading Around the Web

Our contributing editors suggest the following as worth a click.


Thanks for reading PD.

R.J. Snell


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