Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Post-christian barrenness

Confronted with all the begetting in the Old Testament, the modern mind says, "Well, naturally, these primitive societies were concerned with children. They needed someone to provide for them in their old age." In advanced Western society, we don't have to worry about that; we automatically have someone to provide for us in our old age: the state.

But the state -- at least in its modern social-democratic welfare incarnation -- needs children at least as much as those old-time Jews did. And the problem with much of the advanced world is that, like Elisabeth, it's barren. Collectively barren, I hasten to add. Individually, it's made up of millions of fertile women, who voluntarily opt for no children at all or one designer kid at 39. In Italy, the home of the Church, the birth rate's down to 1.2 children per couple -- or about half "replacement rate." You can't buck that kind of arithmetic.
Of the great powers of the 20th century, America's still healthy birth rate, like its still healthy Christianity, is now an anomaly.

Mark Steyn

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