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Weekly Digest: The Evil That Men Do
And a roundup of the week's stop news on marriage and religion, egg freezing, and more
Welcome to my weekly digest for October 13, 2023, with the best articles from around the web and a roundup of my recent writings and appearances.
Last Saturday, somebody made an allusion to “events in Israel” in a group chat I’m part of. I assumed it was some protest around the judicial reforms and went about my business. Later, I opened the web and read about the barbaric attacks by Hamas.
It reminded me of Nassim Taleb’s talk of “black swans,” or more generally these hugely world-shaping events that occur seemingly out of the blue. Taleb grew up in Lebanon when it was the garden spot of the Middle East. It was an advanced, prosperous, peaceful country. Beirut was compared to Paris. Then the Lebanese civil war broke out, the country was wrecked, Beirut became a byword, and the country has never recovered. I’m sure that experience was key in understanding how he thinks about the world.
I don’t expect anything like that to happen to Israel, but events like this attack will have profound consequences there for years to come. This attack does show how things that we never dreamed of can hit out of the blue and upset our entire world, and even our entire idea of how the world works.
One of our modern conceits is the illusion of control. We think modern technology, modern culture, the “rules based international order”, etc. have rendered the world relatively predictable. But it isn’t so. That’s not just true in the Middle East, it’s true in the United States as well.
It also shows the evil that exists in the heart of man. Marauding hordes that rape women, kill children, carry off prisoners, and burn cities seems like a story from ancient history. But it’s actually from last weekend. There’s no escape from the human condition. Pray for peace to come.
Conservatives Love to Have Women Speaking About Men
As I noted last week, online men’s influencers are all men, whereas probably a majority of people talking about men’s issues in mainstream institutions are women. (The church is a bright spot here, with mostly male pastors talking about men).
I pointed out that this applies not just to the left aligned media, but to conservative organizations as well. An upcoming event at the Heritage Foundation, one of the very largest conservative non-profits, on the crisis of masculinity is a perfect example.
This event features three women and only one man.
I like what Kevin Roberts has been doing to reinvigorate Heritage. This is an area where there’s still work to be done.
Singleness and Religion
Ryan Burge has another great piece on the rise of singleness and religion. Here’s an interesting chart.
He observes of this:
What stood out to me here was that there wasn’t a big difference between men and women in terms of religious composition. Married folks are way more likely to be religious compared to never married folks, gender just doesn’t matter that much.
However, he also does some additional analysis and concludes:
For men, being unmarried is strongly predictive of being an atheist/agnostic/nothing in particular. The only variable that is more predictive in the positive direction is being white. For women, there is no statistical relationship between never being married and being a religious none when controlling for a host of other demographic factors. I find that to be fascinating. Singleness is not a gateway to a secular life for women, it seems to be strongly predictive for men…
For people who report that they have never been married, there is an increased likelihood of being a never/seldom attender. That’s true for both men and women. However, the relationship is much stronger for men than women. For men, being never married is about five times more predictive than the same variable for women.
Thus, there’s some real evidence here that never being married is intimately related to religion, especially for men. Among men who have never walked down the aisle, there’s data that indicates that they are more likely to be non-religious and more likely to be never or seldom attenders. For women, it’s only the attendance that is affected.
Click over to read the whole thing.
Related in the Institute for Family Studies: The Real Reason People Leave Religion
The question remains: what is the reason so many young people are leaving religion? There’s no single answer, but the most compelling explanation is that changes in American family life precipitated this national decline. American families have changed dramatically over the past few decades and many churches have been slow to respond. Americans raised in blended families, interfaith families, or single-parent families are far less likely to have participated in religion growing up. And these types of family arrangements have become far more common today than they once were.
Best of the Web
Financial Times: Egg Freezing as an Employment Benefit
Egg-freezing cycles are one of the fastest growing treatments in the UK, according to the UK’s Human Fertilisation and Embryo Authority (HFEA), which calculates there were 11 times more egg-freeze cycles in 2021 (4,215) than in 2011 (373). Though this is still a small proportion (4 per cent) of fertility treatments.
Okta is one of a rapidly growing number of companies offering egg freezing as part of a suite of reproductive benefits for staff. Mercer, the consultancy, says that in 2022, 16 per cent of US companies with 500 or more employees offered it, up from 11 per cent two years before. More than a quarter of larger employers, with 5,000 or more employees, provided it. Last year, Cooley, the law firm, announced a “fertility and family-forming benefit” worth up to £45,000, including in vitro fertilisation, adoption services and egg freezing. US bank Goldman Sachs offers up to $20,000 under its Pathways to Parenthood scheme.
The article notes one stat that’s very seldom discussed: only 18% of women who froze their eggs were able to get pregnant using those eggs. It doesn’t seem like egg freezing actually even works all that well. Probably many of these women are mislead about that.
Ted Gioia: The Most Dangerous Thing in Culture Right Now is Beauty - Interesting that his focus on aesthetics parallels the arguments of many in the dissident right space.
LAT/Yahoo: At far-right roadshow, Trump is God's 'anointed one,' QAnon is king, and 'everything you believe is right' - This piece is a hatchet job, but let’s be honest: a lot of this stuff is insane. However, as I’ve said, those are our people. We don’t have to affirm or support them in what they are doing. They are sheep without good shepherds. So we do need to compete for their affections and seek to provide a better direction for them. We won’t reach everybody, but I’m sure we can reach many. Relatedly, this article also shows how so many on the Christian left define their mission in the world primarily in attacking religious conservatives. What a sad, low rent way to live.
Jake Meador: Anti-Woke Evangelical Fracturing
Secondarily, we also need to dedicate resources toward the formation of new institutions to help incubate an emerging ecosystem of Christian public life, and toward the tasks of discipleship and catechesis that will form the leaders of these new institutions and movements. Tim Suffield says this will only work with patronage. He's correct. But for a patronage model to work, Christian non-profits need to view their donors as being just as integral to the mission as their producers and leadership. Their donors need to be as clear on the vision and purpose as the other two groups. If non-profits take large amounts of money from people who do not understand the mission sufficiently, they will eventually find themselves in crisis, forced to choose between appeasing donors that don't actually understand the work or producers who do and care about it but are not able themselves to support it financially.
The role of donors in some of these institutions’ mission drift is an underexplored topic. It’s come to my attention that some of these big orgs are now getting significant amounts of left-wing non-Christian billionaire money. Sometimes people and institutions have to make hard choices on money, but having a donor base that’s values aligned is critical to missional integrity.
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New Content and Media Mentions
My podcast this week was with a Gen-Z mainline Presbyterian who goes by the name “Redeemed Zoomer” and who has a plan to recapture the mainline denominations.
Paid subscribers can read the transcript.
New this week:
Treat men like they matter - Mainstream figures and institutions need to start treating men like they are important in their own right.
The feds come for the manosphere (paid only) - How the federal government is now funding anti-manosphere NGOs, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.
At American Reformer, Zachary Garris reviews Nancy Pearcey’s new book on masculinity.
Jordan Peterson tweeted by WSJ op-ed, but wouldn’t you know it, he does it doing the “how it affects women” approach. Oh, well. I’ll take it anyway.