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Weekly Digest: A Wonderful Father’s Day Message
Welcome to my weekly digest for July 21, 2023, with the best articles from around the web and a roundup of my recent writings and appearances.
Be sure to check out Sherwood Entertainment, a new streaming service launching soon that’s focused on wholesome family entertainment.
A Wonderful Father’s Day Message
It’s no secret that Father’s Day church services have often done more to dishonor fathers than honor them. It's a topic I’ve written about for years.
But in the last three to four years I’ve observed a shift. It’s been that long since I’ve been in a Father’s Day service that said negative things about dads. And I’ve seen some more positive examples out there. I don’t have hard data, but there does seem to be something of a “vibe shift” around Father’s Day at church.
I want to highlight one example. Last month Matt Chandler of the Dallas areas Village Church megachurch, gave this exhortation that might be the finest Father’s Day message I’ve heard in a church.
I want to join in the chorus of thanking our fathers. So let me just day it this way, dads. For all that you do and carry, seen and unseen, the Lord sees you. There are serious and significant weights that we endure as husbands and fathers. And that can feel lonely, and isolating - and I just want you to year me say, the Lord sees you. And really, on top of that, I would say, on behalf of human flourishing, thank you for carrying what you carry. There is no human flourishing without you stepping in to that post. Everything falls about without you. As imperfectly as you see yourself, I want to tell you today, the Lord sees you. And for all the lies that the enemy wants to convince you about you, I want to tell you you have an identity that’s greater than that, and a purpose that’s more profound than that. And if you feel like nobody sees you today, I’m not telling you leave here without me saying, the Lord sees you, and I’m going to be His mouthpiece today and say I see you. Well done, brothers. In your imperfections, in your striving, well done.
I want to be clear that I’m not saying Chandler used to be bad on this and now he’s good. For all I know, he’s always said good things on Father's Day. I just wanted to highlight this as a positive example.
There are a lot of negative trends in the world, but this shift towards treating dads better on Father’s Day is a positive trend that I hope continues on and grows.
The Childless City
The Financial Times ran a long feature last weekend on the prospect of the childless city. Since the FT has a hard paywall, I will excerpt liberally.
Randal Cremer is one of several planned primary school closures and mergers in inner London triggered by low birth rates, families moving away because of expensive childcare, Brexit, and parents re-evaluating their lives during the pandemic. The biggest factor, says Riley, is that “housing is just becoming unaffordable”. Philip Glanville, mayor of Hackney, calls it “the acute affordability crisis”. Retaining children in the area, he says, requires an intervention from central government, to provide “meaningful investment in social housing, match welfare support with the real cost of housing, and put controls on rocketing rents”. Please use the sharing tools found via the share button at the top or side of articles. Hackney is not the only area in the capital that is losing children. London Councils, which represents the 32 boroughs and the City of London Corporation, predicts a 7.6 per cent decrease in reception pupil numbers across the city between 2022-23 and 2026-27, the equivalent of about 243 classes.
A future with dwindling numbers of children is one many cities, including San Francisco, Seattle and Washington DC, are grappling with. In Hong Kong, for every adult over 65 there are, to put it crudely, 0.7 children, and in Tokyo it is even fewer (0.5).
The presence of children in a neighbourhood shapes the public and private provision of local facilities. Enrico Moretti, professor of economics specialising in urban economics at the University of California, Berkeley, notes the “demand for improvement in school quality is positively correlated with the number of families with children in an area, while the demand for entertainment — restaurants, pubs, and museums — is negatively correlated with the local number of families with children”.
Children are also a sign of a neighbourhood’s longer-term health. In Hackney, Glanville sees them as the only way to build “sustainable, future-proof neighbourhoods”. Areas that are full of “transients — [there for] five years and out — don’t get as much back from their citizens”, says Lange, who is based in the US. “Designing cities for families also allows cities to retain those 30-year-old men after they get married and have kids. That means they upgrade to larger apartments, have shorter commutes, pay taxes in town, use the public library, build community through schooling.”
Having children means people start paying attention and start contributing to their neighbourhood, says Lange. “These are people who fight for protected bike lanes, run for the school board, plan block parties.” It also has an impact on local services. “An increasing number of young Londoners being forced to leave the city by the inaccessibility of home ownership will also impact hiring conditions and the state of public services,” says Tabbush at the Centre for London. The capital has the highest vacancy rate for NHS workers anywhere in the UK, he adds, which is largely driven by a lack of nurses.
Click over to read the whole thing.
Best of the Web
On his 20th wedding anniversary, Michael Foster shares 20 lessons from 20 years of marriage.
WSJ: Divorce Parties Are a New Hot Invite. ‘It Sort of Ended Up as a Really Fun Funeral.’ - As this article hints at, in my observation is it overwhelming women who are likely to throw parties or otherwise celebrate their divorce. But just because women feel like they got a great deal in the moment, doesn’t mean that will be the case down the road, something I explore in newsletter #40.
A new study shows that couples who merge their finances “preserve stronger relationship quality throughout the newlywed period and potentially beyond.” I believe it is very common or even now the norm for younger couple who marry not to combine their finances.
Married couples filing a joint return put the male name first 88.1% of the time in tax year 2020, down from 97.3% in 1996. The man’s name is more likely to go first the larger is the fraction of the couple’s allocable income that goes to him, and the older is the couple. Based on state averages, putting the man’s name first is strongly associated with conservative political attitudes, religiosity, and a survey-based measure of sexist attitudes. Risk-taking and tax noncompliance are both associated with the man’s name going first.
Joe Gabriel Simonson notices on Twitter that Politico magazine’s masculinity issues has several longform articles - all written by women.
William Wolfe shares thoughts on blunting the appeal of Andrew Tate.
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New Content and Media Mentions
New this week:
My latest column for Governing magazine is why college towns need to grow for their states to thrive.
In case you missed it, newsletter #58 was out on Monday and was about the new push by some evangelical leaders to eliminate complementarianism as a community boundary and replace it with anti-fundamentalism.
Who is a fundamentalist? - I follow up on newsletter #58 by digging deeper into anti-fundamentalism, what is looks like, and how it works.