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Opinions contained in The Iona Blog are not necessarily those of The Iona Institute. The Iona Blog is open to anyone who broadly shares the views of The Iona Institute. If you wish to post a comment on a relevant topic please email 200 – 400 words to firstname.lastname@example.org and it will be considered for inclusion in the blog.
One of Britain’s most acute and insightful thinkers today is Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks (pictured). Dr Sacks has written about the UK looting and arson for a number of publications, including in this article from the Wall Street Journal. In it he makes the point that the West has been spending its moral capital as fast and as recklessly as it spent its financial capital.
The topic of this year’s Merriman Summer School in Co Clare is ‘Changing Irish Childhoods’. It ends on Sunday. So far it has been addressed by such people as Children’s Minister, Frances Fitzgerald (pictured), Norah Gibbons of Bernardos, and Mary O’Rourke. To judge from the reports of their speeches in The Irish Times, one very important subject has been absent from them, namely the importance of marriage.
David Cameron was the most prominent figure who suggested that fatherlessness and general moral breakdown were behind last week's riots, but he wasn't on his own. David Lammy (pictured), The Labour MP for the Tottenham area, where the riots started said that the lack of male role models in young men’s lives was one of the long term reasons behind the trouble.
Monday's speech by Prime Minister David Cameron used some of the strongest language heard from any politician anywhere in Britain or Ireland in a very long time to describe the extent of the moral collapse which led to the anarchy and looting in British cities last week. Mr Cameron spoke of “people showing indifference to right and wrong” and “a complete absence of self-restraint” and stated, correctly, that the unwillingness of politicians to speak the truth about behaviour and morality had actually helped to cause the social problems we see around us.
A growing GDP is generally considered to be a very healthy and desirable thing for a country, but in fact as a measure of economic, much less social well-being, it is a very blunt instrument which for one thing ill-serves the family. Here is a useful article by Robert W. Patterson of the Family in America journal in which he points out that most people want to see an economy that supports families, not one that is simply about growth.
The looting and arson in Britain have many causes, but who can seriously doubt that one of the causes is the collapse of traditional morality and the traditional family in large parts of Britain. Notably, Indians were not among the rioters. Why not?
Many factors are to blame for the riots in London and other English cities. One of them has to be the absence of a father-figure from the lives of so many of the rioters. There is a well established link between father-absence and juvenile delinquency.
Kay Hymowitz has a useful piece in the US website, City Journal explaining the phenomenon of the gap in income between men and women. Hymowitz acknowledges that the gap exists, but rejects the notion that it is because of policy failures on the part of government.
Some months ago Robert P George, Ryan T Anderson and Sherif Girgis wrote one of the best papers to date on the same-sex marriage issue. That paper has prompted an ongoing debate with various advocates of same-sex marriage critiquing it and the paper’s authors, chiefly Girgis responding.
Last week the Law Reform Commission (LRC) published a report, Children and the Law: Medical Treatment, which said that teens as young as 16, and in some cases younger, should be able to access contraception without their parents approving or even knowing. This is in spite of the fact that age of legal consent for sexual intercourse is still 17.
Those who argue against same-sex marriage sometimes argue that to legalise it would be to fundamentally redefine marriage. Legalise same-sex marriage, they argue, and you may as well legalise polygamy. If marriage shouldn't be confined to a man and a woman, why should it be confined to just two people? Why not one man and two women, or one woman and two men etc.
Speaking at the Glenties Summer School at the weekend, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said it was the aim of his Government “to create the environment where the innocence of children can develop naturally through their formative years.” If he is serious about this, then the number one thing his Government needs to do is promote and strengthen marriage.
A new study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) indicates that children raised by cohabiting couples do no worse on average than children raised by married couples once socio-economic background is taken into account, and therefore there is no good reason on the part of the State to encourage marriage.
W. Brad Wilcox, a US sociologist who researches in area of marriage, had a piece in The Washington Post last week, attacking the idea, which appears to be gaining ground, that marriage be sexually exclusive is passé. Wilcox points out that there are a range of problems with marital infidelity; out-of-wedlock births, increased risk of sexually transmitted infections, lack of emotional satisfaction, and the emotional risk to children where there is, as Wilcox puts it “a revolving carousel of romantic partners in the home”.
In a prominently featured book extract entitled ‘The Divorce Generation’ published in the Wall Street Journal (Saturday/Sunday July 9-10, 2011), author Susan Gregory-Thomas discusses the impact of divorce on her generation, Generation X.
Ireland goes before the UN Human Rights Council in October to report on how well it is doing in conforming to the various UN human rights conventions and treaties the Irish State has signed. The Irish submission is now publicly available. It is very heavily biased towards a particular interpretation of human rights.
Ross Douthat in the New York Times has a useful piece on exactly why same-sex marriage damages the institution of marriage. His piece is a response to the argument that says that same-sex marriage will have no impact on the health of the institution.
Last week Charlie McConalogue of Fianna Fail tabled a Private Member’s Bill to allow the adoption of the children of married couples. He was supported in this by party colleague, John Browne. Browne said it a good thing overall that so few Irish children are available for adoption. To put it mildly, this is arguable.
Dr Tom Hickey has kicked off a lively and useful debate about our schooling system and the meaning of republicanism. In a blog last week, I took issue (among other things) with the phrase ‘child-citizen’ which Dr Hickey continually used in his article. In any event, Dr Hickey has responded in a blog of his own and it is worth a read.
One of the most difficult issues that has arisen in the context of the debate over the transfer of denominational primary schools to other patrons is whether the present owner and patrons of such schools should be financially compensated. The Church of Ireland has offered an imaginative solution to this problem.
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