Sunday June 20, 2021
This was going to be a column, with a hook at the beginning, a clear line of research in the middle, and a nice catch at the end. But it didn’t work out that way. Instead, it’s a collection of wonderings.
Why do we celebrate Father’s Day, after all? Is it just because we celebrated Mother’s Day a few weeks ago?
Or are we submissive victims of commercial hype? One retail website referred to Father’s Day as “Christmas in June.”
Father’s Day feels somewhat hypocritical.
On the one hand, we’re supposedly praising fathers for all the contributions they make to children’s growth and emotional stability.
And on the other hand, fathers are the only social group that can safely be ridiculed, scorned, and denigrated without inciting some kind of mass protest. TV – especially commercials – tend to portray fathers as bumbling klutzes who constantly need to be steered right by their feminine partners.
Don’t get me wrong – I don’t want to go back to the days of Father Knows Best where a wise male showed the helpless “little woman” how to operate a can opener. Or rescued her when she couldn’t back the car out of the garage. If she had a driver’s licence at all. Back then, men expected to be the drivers on life’s highways.
I remember my wife’s frustration when the bank we had been using for ten years wouldn’t let her open an account in her own name without her husband’s signature.
Today, it seems to me, the pendulum has swung to the opposite extreme. No one dares make woman-driver jokes anymore. Women are viewed as caring and competent; husbands are little more than dartboards for cheap shots.
Think of Marge and Homer Simpson as role models.
The mass media – sometimes including me, I regret – tend to portray males in general as a negative element of society. If there’s a rape, a murder, a mugging, a home invasion, whatever, guess who did it.
It hardly sets males up as essential father figures.
Balanced against that, though, there seems to be ample evidence of the ill-effects of the ABSENCE of a father. Here’s one line: “Children from fatherless families are ten times more likely to abuse chemical substances, four times more likely to be raised in poverty, twice as likely to commit suicide and nine times more likely to drop out of high school…”
At the same time, I haven’t seen any studies showing how the PRESENCE of a father prevents those outcomes.
And if so, what kind of father?
A cold, distant, Victorian father -knows-best who dispenses periodic packages of moral instruction? A father who shares housework and cooking, who takes paternity leave, who gets down on his hands and knees with his children and makes a fool of himself occasionally?
My own observation suggests that the latter model is healthier, for everyone.
But how do we know that? And how do we celebrate and encourage those fathers? Instead of just condemning the misfits?
Copyright © 2021 by Jim Taylor. Non-profit use in congregations and study groups encouraged; links from other blogs welcomed; all other rights reserved.
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Most of the letters this last week agreed with me (more or less) about the tragedy in London. ON. But rather than pat myself on the back, I’ll run two longish letters about an aspect of the crime that I overlooked.
Steve Roney: “I give you credit for not jumping to the conclusion, as almost everybody else has, that the London murders were a ‘hate crime’ expressing ‘Islamophobia.’ As you note, we seem to have no evidence for this.
“We have, on the other hand, clear evidence for a different motive. It turns out that, like most mass murderers in recent years, the unnamed perpetrator was being treated for depression.
“Current psychiatry cannot tell the difference between depression and narcissism—both types will claim to be anxious and unhappy. Very well, so both are sent away with antidepressants, generally SSRIs, that in effect flood the brain with joy juice, happiness hormones, to artificially make them feel everything is relatively well.
“For the depressed, this allows them to function relatively normally, although it tragically delays addressing the real problems in their lives.
“For the narcissistic, the effect is worse. They are feeling uneasy because they have been indulging themselves, with too few inhibitions on their behavior. This has caused alienation from others. Give them SSRIs, and they will feel freer to act out, to make their situation worse and worse.
“If a depressive feels bad, he wants to kill himself. If a narcissist feels bad, he wants to kill everyone else.
“He might be especially inclined to kill a visibly religious family—he will resent their evident happiness, as a family visibly happy together, and because the sincerely religious are generally happy. So they are hated by narcissists, who are driven above all by envy.
“Nothing to do with their being Muslim in particular.
“The symptoms [foundations? JT] of such narcissism are obvious in the perpetrator’s parents’ divorce papers. It would have been easy to avoid this. Until psychiatry and psychology can learn to admit the importance of ethics, people will continue to needlessly die.
“Those who died were victims of our health care system.”
Laurna Tallman: “Something routinely overlooked by newspaper articles about such atrocities as the slaughter of the Muslim family is that the troubled young man using a pickup truck as a weapon was seriously depressed, was experiencing shattering experiences in his family, and had been prescribed psychiatric drugs – antidepressants.
“Antidepressants and other psychiatric drugs [affect] rational thinking, and erode the capacity for rational thought. Whether the drugs still are being taken or have recently been refused or withdrawn, the damage has already been done.
“The people I consider the most responsible in these situations are the ignorant or stupid or willfully negligent physicians (and sometimes psychologists) who continue to prescribe these ‘medications.’ These are not failures of social values or of parenting or of our national ethos. These are cases of medical malpractice.
“You and your readers know that I have discovered the role of the ears, especially the right ear, in schizophrenia and other forms of mental illness. I hope you and your readers will look for the clues, often tucked into the last lines of an internet or newspaper article, that the person who came horribly unglued was driven into that mental space by medical ignorance – the prescription of psychiatric medications.
“The research on the effects of SSRIs is frightening. One researcher spent years collecting records of murders, suicides, and mass murders that were directly related to the use of antidepressants, starting with Columbine. People wonder why there are so many such incidents in the US. They started, according to this researcher, when antidepressants became a common treatment for depression.
“That young man, had he never been medicated, might have been no more anti-Muslim than anti-Christian, the faith in which he was raised.”
Beyond those two letters, Bob Thompson raised an important point: “where our community values come from. I think it is the most serious question that we face right now, as our community values are being increasingly challenged around indigenous discrimination, black lives matter, etc. I think the challenge was most clearly put by one of the people interviewed as a result of the killing in London. He said, ‘I am a white Christian man. I have never been afraid to walk in the streets where the Muslim family was killed.’ As these movements move forward, they are going to face all of us with the white privilege we have taken for granted. And then how will community values be formed?
“Community values are at a crossroads, and the way forward is not certain.”
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