A friend said, forget politics, the basic program for righting the world is

1. Get your act together, get an income.
2. Make a good family.
3. Get your kids to do steps 1-3.

He’s right.


Perhaps the main rare virtue of our friend Bruce Charlton is that he has the ability to see what is in front of his face and the clarity to then say it. Things like, we went to the moon once, no longer. Things like, any religion that isn’t having kids is a failure.

I’ve taken that insight and generalized it into two rules of thumb.

Any institution that isn’t reproducing itself with children is sick.
Any sick institution that is blase about its sickness is dying.

Some observations:

Yes, America is dying.

Reproduction means literally having kids. But not just that. It means raising them to carry on. It means step 3. This is where even some Mormon families fail. They think because they themselves are virtuous, their kids will automatically end up all right.

Some dying institutions die quietly. Other dying institutions are cancers. They try to take their host down with them. I’ve been thinking about vertical transmission of culture versus horizontal transmission of culture. Vertical transmission is having kids and raising them. Horizontal transmission is sharing from one person to another, religious conversion for example–or propaganda from media and academic organs. It seems to me that horizontal transmission is good only if it comes from a healthy core, from a group that is also engaged in vertical transmission. Just as loving others and self-sacrifice is good only if the person loves themself, trying to convert people to your point of view is good only if your point of view isn’t sick. Isn’t a cancer.

Is it a coincidence that the Great and Spacious Building is all about horizontal transmission and has no foundation, whereas Lehi’s first thought after taking the fruit was to get his family to come and share it with him? Vertical transmission is infinite. There is no end to step 3. Horizontal transmission is always ignoring the question, “and then what?”


  • These steps should not be done in order, rigidly. They all happen at once. A woman is only a woman, the poet said, but what a woman is is a great companion through the shipwreck of life. There is a lot to be said for marrying and raising children young.
  • Though I suspect that the program works best if it leads to the cross, the empty tomb, and the fruit of that tree which is delicious to the taste and desirable above all other fruit. In other words, this is not just a program for righting the world.  This is a program for the peace of God, passing understanding.

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