Posted tagged ‘kids’

The Papoose-Driven Life

May 14, 2010

What’s the expression? “In the kingdom of the psychotic, the merely crazy man is king.” Something like that. Or maybe, “…the merely crazy man is relatively sane, although still arguably out of his fucking mind.”

One is given to such thoughts–profane thoughts, yes–when one is exposed to the latest Tweet from Pastor Rick Warren. Here it is. Let’s listen:

KIDS WIN in Recession! In 2009 a MILLION more moms (vs 1986) stayed home with small kids instead of hiring daycare.

Kids Win! It’s like a headline in The New York Daily News or Variety. KIDS BOFFO IN ECON SLUMP. Resesh Job-Hunt Downturn Means More Moms Home With Less Bux, More Woes!

This is the kind of thing that gives foaming religious zealotry a bad name. It takes a deliberate act of mental weight lifting to remember that “Pastor Rick” is the reasonable one, the who’s not Franklin Graham, Jerry Falwell, Fred Phelps, or Torquemada. He is, one thought in one’s naivete, the thinking man’s evangelist.

Who knew that while the thinking man was busy thinking, the non-thinking man was reading Rick Warren’s tweets and thinking, “Moms spending more time at home with their kids, regardless of the reasons they’re at home, regardless of the increased stress and pressures they must be experiencing while (and because) they’re at home, and regardless of how those stresses affect the kids and the moms and the dads–WOW. WIN!”

But–because everything is connected in what I call “society”–there’s more. Guess who else wins during recession. If you said, “Oboists, phrenologists, and manufacturers of durable goods,” you’d be wrong. But if you said, “Police departments, emergency rooms, Family Services agencies, and child trauma psychologists,” you’d be right! They all get more business, because domestic violence increases during a recession, too.

Too good to be true? Too much WIN! ? Cf. here:

(Divorce, as it happens, goes down. Is it because battling couples decide that they love each other more during a recession? No. It’s because people can’t afford to divorce. Couples terminally opposed to living together but forced by economic circumstances to endure, resent, provoke, ignore, or attack each other with, yes, the kids in the middle: WIN!)

As a statement ostensibly about the unexpected benefits of a recession, Warren’s tweet is merely a dopey exercise in disingenuous, and therefore dishonest, optimism. He puts a gun to your back and frog-marches you down the sunny side of the street, and then wants you to tell him it’s fun.

But note the not-quite-hidden agenda. If moms-stay-at-home is Win, then moms-go-to-work is Lose. Warren, professional Christian that he is, wants moms to stay at home. Or so his tweet implies. In the nonstop state of delirium that characterizes the mind of the cultural right, women who “abandon” the kids to daycare are selfish monsters of feminism except for famous ones like Phyllis Schlafly and Sarah Palin, who are “leaders.” Those who abandon the kids for a job, because they need the money, are…well, let’s just say they’re poor victims of “secular culture” who–bless their hearts–mean well but still cause their kids, in the end, to lose.

This represents a view of kids (and adults) that makes the characters in Dennis the Menace seem like artfully rounded figures out of Chekhov. Warren may tell himself (and certainly others) that his main concern is “the children,” but it’s as though he’s never actually met any families other than those on their best behavior at church.

Which I don’t really think is the case. He’s not stupid. But he is, in his mild-mannered way, a religious fanatic, which leads to the same result.

How much effort would it have taken Rick Warren to look at that tweet and think, “Wait. I’m saying the recession is good because women who want to work, or have to work, are unable to. I’m saying a mother in the home is an unalloyed good, regardless of why she’s there and how her being there affects her and those around her. Am I nuts?” Apparently too much.

It’s all well and good to look on the sunny side and draw attention to it and cheer its bright, sunshiny glory. But what if it’s night?