Living at the convergence of faith and art.

Post-Familialism: Is the Family Dead?

I don’t usually write about things like this, but I believe it has a great deal to do with the story we’re living in, and is worth some thought.

QUESTION: Is the family really dead?

I don’t think so, not by a long shot. Any Anthropologist worth their degrees will tell us that the human race would not, could not have survived these millenia had we chosen to forge off on our own as individuals without family, tribe, community, or nationhood. Loners die alone and lonely.

According to some however, post-familialsm is the current global trend among the human race. Apparently our self-absorption has gone so far that we humans are on a rampage, choosing to live life our way, or no way. Apparently we’re not interested in meaningful relationships of life-long commitment which might postpone or even alter our personal plans for what we want in our lives.

Please read;

The Age of Possibility / David Brooks

The Rise of Post-Famialism / Joel Kotkin

In reality though I think what we’ve actually lost sight of is love. We seem to have bought into the Western Pop-Cultural notion that love is good sex, good stuff, and boatloads of money. We seem to believe that love is a self-serving emotion in which we’re supposed to feel good, and we seem to be increasingly willing to discard any distractions, diversions, or impediments to get it good and to keep it good.

The best definition I’ve ever found for love however isn’t 1 Corinthians 13 (although excellent), no, it’s from a lone guy who set out to help middle and high school kids get a grip on reality. He’s the guy behind the Don’t Take Love Lying Down program – Mr. Brad Henning. Here’s what he teaches about love, in a nutshell, and I paraphrase;

Love is always, 1) an act of self-sacrifice, and 2) wanting the best for the other person.”

Now imagine human relationships built upon the premise that the other people in our lives are more precious to us than even our own wants/desires. Imagine relationships based upon the classic love story The Gift of the Magi by O.Henry  (PDF Version).

Imagine a world of selfless generosity, of giving instead of getting, and of giving without expectation of receiving. How do we get to that world?  Perhaps by becoming living examples ourselves. We certainly won’t get there through legislation, or tortuous religious rules and rituals. We’ll get there by minding the needs, (forget wants and desires) of others, and by giving until it hurts, just as Christ did for each of us.

This so-called Post-Familial Age is unsustainable. It simply won’t work. It’s an unraveling of the very fiber of human society. It’ll eventually run out of steam, just as so-called Post-Modernism has, and it’ll be just as vacuous, if not more so, but at what cost? How much damage will be done to the next two generations as humanity figures out that it has chosen yet again to walk down another cultural dead end?

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One response

  1. Love this. I happened to just listen to a speaker from Italy named Don Renzo Bonetti about the family unit. He’s a very thoughtful priest and made some interesting points about how important the family unit is in our culture. I loved hearing what you had to say about this as well. I can’t wait to read more!

    February 12, 2013 at 7:22 pm