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Archive for the ‘education’ Category

The Empty Cradle, by Philip Longman, is a wide-scope book delving into a truth much more inconvenient than “global warming.”  It is a fact that birthrates are falling all over the world, and that in many countries, particularly Western nations, the rates are already below replacement.  In this well researched book, the author logically lays out a history of birthrates – particularly in the modern era (since the founding of America), the economic consequences of labor shortages, and some suggestions for stimulating a rise in birthrates again without relinquishing secular equalitarianism.  The author’s worldview is specifically secular, and he expresses some fear that religious fundamentalists (that would be me) may inherit the earth by default of having more children.  He describes the overcoming faith that such people have, enabling them to go ahead and have multiple children despite cultural and economic pressures that depress the birthrate among pragmatists. 

 

Once upon a time the government was concerned to see birthrates falling (they fell in the United States for about a century between the Civil War and the end of World War II).  In the 20th century, however, prominent voices began sounding an alarm of overpopulation – a myth, since the population of the world has multiplied magnificently in the ensuing decades and managing an ever-increasing productivity.  Quality of life has improved significantly since the middle ages, when the population of the earth was but a fraction of the present 6 billion. 

 

A few pages are devoted to the causes of declining birthrates.  Accessible and legal and socially acceptable birth control (the Pill) is mentioned, along with abortion.  Mostly the author discusses the “liberating” policies of equality and the economic forces of increasingly technological jobs.  There is also the cultural/materialistic glamorization of adults free of the burden of children. 

 

How important is the birthrate?  The middle of The Empty Cradle describes the devastating economic situation we can anticipate when 1) birthrates fall steeply and 2) birthrates fall below replacement levels.  The population ages.  Aging populations reproduce less even than their parents did.  This is a downward spiral with drastic consequences.  Most attempts to deal with these results depress the birthrate even more. 

 

Economics effect social structure and the type of government people find acceptable and necessary.  As he builds toward the concluding recommendations for turning these trends around, Mr. Longman incorporates a good tutorial on economics, the examples of history, and some political theory.  If you’re interested in the power of taxation and laws, read this book. 

 

In Chapter 7 is a discussion of the economic implications of having children, including “opportunity cost.”  At one point the author states that “cheaper by the dozen” is true, but he minimalizes this.  He is exaggerating when he uses the phrase, really only calculating for two or three children, not by a larger number like a dozen.  In a broad economic sense, one woman raising and educating 6-12 children, cooking for them at home, growing her own vegetables, etc. would be a much more efficient means of producing a crop of laborers than the present one.  Also the data he uses in calculating the cost of a child is an average, representing the values of a society that prefers things to people.  Priorities change (people whose priorities have not changed consider this a sacrifice) and thrift is employed when you really wish to invest in having many children.  What the author does not do in analyzing whether all the costs typical of raising a child are necessary or even beneficial, he does for the elderly.  There are many pages describing the extension of life expectancies, the ineffectiveness of healthcare, and environmental excesses that cost money to produce and to remedy but which could easily be avoided with a bit more prudence. 

 

The final chapter of the book (none of this book is superfluous; there is not even a summary conclusion – a concise style I appreciate) lists three primary recommendations the author has for making the most of the labor we have and for encouraging adults to invest in the future through bearing a next generation.  In keeping with his worldview, the recommendations avoid appeals to virtue or self-responsibility, instead increasing the role of governments wielding taxes and laws to corral the people to a preferred socially beneficial behavior (including more healthy lifestyles and diets).  My favorite recommendation is one that would be difficult for a government to force, but which may be the inevitable social response to increasing economic and political pressures from the declining population: return to smaller communities in which production is less efficient but healthier and more viable long term. 

 

All the facts, observations, and analyses of this book had the ring of truth (included are multiple sources and footnotes).  I disagree with interpretations in some places, and with prescriptions in others, but benefited from reading the author’s different point of view.  This is a book I want to own, to keep on my shelf and to use in home educating my, God willing, many children.  The information presented in The Empty Cradle is important for every person to know, and the writing and layout are superb.  Therefore, I recommend this book to you, and to all of my friends. 

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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I’ve just been thinking about the website I started a few months ago called When the Pen Flows. There have been a few contributions, and I am excited to have at least some people reading my old stories. My writing has been encouraged, as well.

The idea of the title comes from those moments when writers get an idea, and they can’t eat, sleep, or do anything else. If they must put the pen down, they pick it back up at the first opportunity so that they can finish getting the story on paper before they forget. Maybe math geniuses like those in Proof experience the same urgency.

Inevitably, the pen will stop flowing. The idea will hit a wall, and the writer can rest. In my experience, many of those great ideas were bursts, windows into a world of a story that I can never visit. Another window will catch my attention, and I’ll put it onto paper. The glimpses are no less beautiful than the whole. Is it lazy to stop when you hit the wall?

Writers need practice. I can see this in the folders and journals full of my old stories. The oldest are the worst. They reflect the limited education and experience and imagination I had at the time. And lack of practice putting images onto paper using words.

That means that the later ones are better. Putting the little windows onto paper, rather than ignoring them forever in search of the one idea that will be a complete novel, is important. Without that practice, when the book plot hits our imaginations, our skills will be unequal to the task.

Michael Card, in his book Scribbling in the Sand, writes that creativity flows from community. I have noticed that when I read a good book, I become inspired. So the dream I have for When the Pen Flows is that it would be a community of aspiring authors (whether they aspire to be better at expressing themselves or if they dream of being published) who read each others’ little works, and share their own, in order to benefit from the shared genius.

Let us hope that the world will be bettered by noble-minded people equipped to share their ideas with it, through training and practice, encouragement, criticism, and inspiration.

I close quoting Mansfield Park on the topic of communication: “The subject of reading aloud was farther discussed. The two young men were the only talkers, but they, standing by the fire, talked over the too common neglect of the qualification, the total inattention to it, in the ordinary school-system for boys, the consequently natural – yet in some instances almost unnatural degree of ignorance and uncouthness of men, of sensible and well-informed men, when suddenly called to the necessity of reading aloud, which had fallen within their notice, giving instances of blunders, and failures with their secondary causes, the want of management of the voice, of proper modulation and emphasis, of foresight and judgment, all proceeding from the first cause, want of early attention and habit; and Fanny was listening again with great entertainment.”

To God be all glory.

Thanks to Snapshots of Joy for the graphics.

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Many thanks to Dummies Guide to Google Blogger Beta which enabled me (finally, after trying several other sites’ suggestions) to implement expandable posting on When the Pen Flows. You really have no idea how excited I am to have found code and instructions that work. I was worried for a while that my entire template would have to be restarted from scratch. Fortunately I can follow instructions sufficiently to save myself from that, and thus backed up an earlier form of my template. All in all, it has been an improvement day over there.

I also have a link for anyone to email me story or short poem submissions. And there is a primitive (but pretty) counter. It’s exciting.

You know, I much prefer learning the slow way. I don’t like studying and memorizing, but I like immersion. Like the Pledge of Allegiance. I never repeated phrases or wrote the pledge a hundred times, but rather heard it every school day when I was little, so that eventually I knew it. Songs on the radio get into my head slowly, by my hearing them frequently. I learned to make maccaroni and cheese (not the boxed kind; don’t worry; I’m talking from scratch) by watching Mom do it over and over. And now I’m learning Blogger and HTML code little bits at a time.

This, I believe, is the essence of discipleship. You learn by example and proximity rather than by a good exposition. Church should be more about discipleship than preaching; it would be more effective. Michael Card wrote a wonderful book called The Walk on the subject of discipleship (blending the example of Jesus in Mark with real life observations of the relationship between Michael Card and his mentor). And one of my favorite songs is Michael Card’s Bearers of the Light, which describes the different relationships experienced between Paul, Barnabas, and Timothy.

To God be all glory.

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Last night I chose a battle I will have with my children if they should ever bring it up. And a thought struck me: so many people defend themselves, “You have to choose your battles.” But they’ve never decided how many they are able to fight. So they leave all but the most important (or easily won) battles in their eyes to the whims of their adversary.

My future-Marine brother was present, and we proposed a more military scenario. Suppose you are trying to conquer an archipelago in the middle of the ocean, and you decided to take a stand on only two of hundreds of islands. You are thrilled to have won the two battles, but you could have used your forces better and made more progress toward your goal. As it is, with hundreds of islands remaining in enemy hands, even though some are very small, you have lost the war.

How much more tragic to decide there are only a few battles to fight with your children. You take a stand against violence but let them play video games for long periods of time. You take a stand against fornication but give in on what they wear. You take a stand against hanging out with ‘really bad’ friends, but you let them gossip. In the end, you have a subversively wicked child who has no respect for you, but who looks remarkably like… the rest of the culture.

So the battle I chose yesterday is on teasing. My little boys will know that teasing little girls is a serious offense. Why? Because taunting is so opposite of what a girl needs from a boy. She looks to him for leadership and defense and courtesy – especially emotional, since girls are such inherently emotional creatures. By choosing this battle my children will be on the path to understanding each other, a skill needed for many things later in life (like getting married and building a marriage).

To God be all glory.

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In further intelligent design supression news, I just found this article by Ken Connor concerning an Iowa State professor who was denied tenure due to, according to available information, his belief in (not teaching of) intelligent design. His peer-reviewed papers, which are required for tenure consideration, did not deal with the intelligent design premises. He is a published author, writing on the evidence for design he discovered in his field of astronomy. The book is titled Privileged Planet.

My thoughts are:

  1. Censoring professors for a legitimate scientific conclusion at an educational institution is disturbing. Are they teaching students objective thinking or dogma?
  2. If the evolutionary establishment is so concerned about the threat to their theory from intelligent design that they cannot allow a believer in it to enter their privileged ranks, what does that say about the confidence they have in their own conclusions?
  3. I must acknowledge, however, that as it is illogical to believe in a theory without true supporting evidence, a coherent definition, or consistency – it would be unfair to expect these believers to act logically toward a colleague.

We most hope reason will shine through (the evolutionists will see the evidence for design) and justice will prevail (the professor will be esteemed and rewarded for his intelligence and hard work).

Meanwhile, Dr. Paleo has informed the blog world that the Institute for Creation Research will be launching a scientific journal soon, in which exiled members of the scientific community can engage in intellectually honest productive research sharing for the benefit of our world.

To God be all glory.

Read Full Post »

In further intelligent design supression news, I just found this article by Ken Connor concerning an Iowa State professor who was denied tenure due to, according to available information, his belief in (not teaching of) intelligent design. His peer-reviewed papers, which are required for tenure consideration, did not deal with the intelligent design premises. He is a published author, writing on the evidence for design he discovered in his field of astronomy. The book is titled Privileged Planet.

My thoughts are:

  1. Censoring professors for a legitimate scientific conclusion at an educational institution is disturbing. Are they teaching students objective thinking or dogma?
  2. If the evolutionary establishment is so concerned about the threat to their theory from intelligent design that they cannot allow a believer in it to enter their privileged ranks, what does that say about the confidence they have in their own conclusions?
  3. I must acknowledge, however, that as it is illogical to believe in a theory without true supporting evidence, a coherent definition, or consistency – it would be unfair to expect these believers to act logically toward a colleague.

We most hope reason will shine through (the evolutionists will see the evidence for design) and justice will prevail (the professor will be esteemed and rewarded for his intelligence and hard work).

Meanwhile, Dr. Paleo has informed the blog world that the Institute for Creation Research will be launching a scientific journal soon, in which exiled members of the scientific community can engage in intellectually honest productive research sharing for the benefit of our world.

To God be all glory.

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My brother told me about a conversation he entered at his college class this week:

“Who likes to think?” said a classmate.

Stunned, my brother answered, “I do.”

And then he thought, and I thought the same when he was telling me: What do you do if you don’t think? How do you spend your time?

The friend continued, “I would like to be a dog. Others take care of me, and I just live.”

Just live. How incredible! How could you “just live” without thinking? Why bother?

Yet I believe this is a great problem with the culture in America today: not only do people not think; they don’t want to! People in their twenties are content to do nothing, think nothing, and let life lap around them. If anything is done, it is for fun or absolute necessity.

How did they get that way? There are probably many reasons. Another that arose in conversation in my house today was the rise of autism. It directly coordinates with the rise of time spent watching television as a child. Some even argue that autism can be cured by turning off the TV and engaging the child in a relational and interactive way. As long as people are content to stare blankly and unresponsively at a television, entertainment being simply fed to them, they will never learn to think or be relational.

When I watch TV, I interact. I think what I would do, or why the characters are doing what they do. My family talks during TV (as much as we can get away with without annoying each other), sharing the experience. If the television is on for extended periods of time I start to get lethargic and irritated. After all, it is hard to engage with a screen for too long.

In the old days before TV or radio, humans entertained themselves by playing games or reading books, even aloud to each other. They conversed. Their activity was interactive and thoughtful. Even Winnie the Pooh, a stuffed bear from a children’s book is portrayed as think-think-thinking. Hm.

To God be all glory.

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