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Friday, February 1, 2019

Keeping Kids (Too) Safe

Having just spent two weeks in Europe, much of it traveling by train, I was intrigued when I saw this article title: “After Living Abroad, Kids Struggle with American Overparenting” I’ve mentioned the American overparenting phenomenon before, but this international perspective seemed fresh to me. One example:
Thirteen-year-old Molly Lukas lives in Germany now, too, after stints in Belgium, Austria, and metro D.C. Her dad is in the Foreign Service. Molly loved being around her extended family when she was back in the States about a year ago, but there were some annoyances. "One time I made plans with my friend to go to Chick-fil-A. My friend's mom had to drive us and she stayed there to make sure we were OK while we were eating." In Germany, on the other hand, “I bike to school every day—it's about 10 minutes away—and I can take the bus and trains alone.”
Manhood: The Continuing Drama
A couple of events in particular—a Gillette shaving commercial and the revision of guidelines for treating male pathology from the American Psychological Association—have prompted a number of writers to weigh in on masculinity. Let me put my cards on the table: I’m in favor of it. But of course, one of the problems with this conversation is what “it” means. The articles that rose to the top for me were three.
Two were more feisty, one at the ever-feisty and libertarian spiked (“Gillette and the War on Masculinity”) and the Burkean The American Conservative (“The War Over ‘Toxic Masculinity”). The former argues that the very issues some define as toxic (like stoicism and competitiveness) are traits that also benefit societies. The latter looks at how this issue intersects with politics and transgender debates.
My favorite by a nose was Ross Douthat’s New York Times column in which he notes, as the subtitle put it, “The Victorian novelists understood the problem before we did.” He explains not only that masculinity took various forms in the past, but also, and more to the point, that we aren’t the first generation to wrestle with these issues:
One of the frustrating tics of our society’s progressive vanguard is the assumption that every evil it discovers was entirely invisible in the past, that this generation is the first to wrestle with dominance and cruelty. This forgetting of human experience, this perpetual present-tenseness, pervades the latest flashpoint in the culture war over the sexes.
Searching for and Running from God
I saw this piece after I’d already prepared two Galli Reports before I left on my trip. So it’s a tad old (by Internet Standard Time). Still, I so appreciated Jessica Hooten Wilson of John Brown University for her thoughtful book review, I saved it up for now:
The title of Richard Harries’s book, Haunted by Christ: Modern Writers and the Struggle for Faith, revolves around two contrasting metaphors for writers and religion. On the one hand, Christ is scary, unpursued, and ephemeral, haunting writers like a ghost. In the subtitle, though, the writers are active agents wrestling with an unknown entity, like Jacob with the angel, for the prize of faith. Harries explores both types of artists in his book, those who flee religion and those who chase it.
Good News of 2018
One more item that comes a bit late in the cycle. I don’t agree that every one of the items listed in “99 Good News Stories You Probably Didn’t Hear about in 2018” is actually good news, but it is nice to read about progress in so many areas that we can all agree on.
Grace and peace,

Mark GalliMark Galli
Mark Galli
Editor-in-Chief, Christianity Today

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