The Counsel of Trent

writing is thinking

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Why do I read Commonweal?

I probably shouldn't, but it's like a car wreck: you don't really want to look, but you can't help yourself.

But in the November issue I was disappointed to see Daniel Callahan pour vitriol on George Weigel and make some really troubling remarks. He treats the issue of the population implosion with a recklessness that is out of step with his sometimes thoughtful treatments of bioethics (though he is so utterly committed to 60's-ism he exempts the unlimited abortion license, which he helped to grant). He had previously responded with a letter to the editor to this article by George Weigel in First Things, which was pretty calm, other than repeating his constant refrain that birthrates are so low in Eastern Europe because of the transition from communism to a market economy (I think that's probably true but for opposite reasons: he blames free-market economy, I blame communism [Isn't his view refuted by the fact that the biggest and freest (what a strange word, but it *is* a word) free market economy in the world--the US--has the highest birth-rate of any industrialized democracy?]), but given free reign in the leftist Commonweal he let it all hang out.

Anyway, that's not the point, the point is that he has this to say in response to the question whether he would have six kids again (he was once Roman Catholic). "If we could recreate the culture of those years, turning the clock back, we might be prepared to do it all over again--though perhaps settling for a more prudent number, say four or five children" (p. 16). I wonder what his 6th child thinks of that? Seriously, just imagine you're little Danny Jr. and you're reading Pop's latest article and he states that he'd rather you'd not existed. I don't think it's reasonable to balk at that interpretation. How else can one interpret this: he literally says that if he could turn back the clock he would not have had the last child. But I think I know what my problem is, for my family is the most important thing in my life and Mr. Callahan just doesn't go in for such homely sentimentalism, declaring: "I have never been one of those people who say that 'my family is the most important thing in my life'" (p. 16).

I think it was the poet Frank August (Father of five children) who once said that if someone complained about his profligacy he'd line his kids up and say: "Which one would you get rid of? Where would you draw the line?" Where indeed.


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