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McPhersonSentinel - McPherson, KS
  • A belated Father’s Day reflection

  • Mothers have a natural connection with their children, in the sense that they are quite literally attached to them from the embryonic stage until birth. Even after birth, the woman will continue to sustain the child, nourishing it through her own body, often for several years. This is not even to mention the powerful “maternal instincts” that continue to reinforce and support the bond.
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  • Mothers have a natural connection with their children, in the sense that they are quite literally attached to them from the embryonic stage until birth. Even after birth, the woman will continue to sustain the child, nourishing it through her own body, often for several years. This is not even to mention the powerful “maternal instincts” that continue to reinforce and support the bond.
    The relationship is not completely biological, of course, since the whole process is deeply guided by “a mother’s love”— but the bond as a whole is grounded firmly and observably within nature, and its importance is undeniable even to the dullest of scientific minds.
    Infants would indeed starve if their mothers did not nurse and nurture them. The mother’s absence would not result in some abstract emotional problem within the child. It would result in actual physical death. Motherhood, then, is obvious and inescapable.
    Fatherhood is a different thing entirely. Aside from the momentary donation of his genetic material (and many later donations of his money) the father plays a minimal role in reproduction and early child-rearing. Instead of beginning with a biological unity, such as pregnancy, fatherhood begins in biological division. Whereas motherhood begins in intimacy and progresses toward an eventual separation, fatherhood begins in separation and works (if it works) toward intimacy. Needless to say, the natural bond between father and child is tenuous, at best.
    Even on an instinctual level, the fatherly relationship is quite unnatural to the man.
    Unlike the mother, his normal impulse is to behave with animal indifference to his offspring. His inclination amounts to a policy of distance (if not physical distance, at least emotional distance).
    This is why most men find great appeal in the John Wayne stereotype: that “Lone Drifter” character who is always rootless and detached, and who is often an absentee father. Men can relate to this sort of thing because it speaks to the independence of the masculine personality. But this is precisely what must be overcome in order for a man to become a father.
    As the inverse of the mother, the father actualizes himself by resisting and overcoming his animal nature, rather than submitting to it. He may automatically become a “parent” in the purely biological sense, but he must transcend his nature if he wishes to become a “Father.”
    We can now see that his role is not merely natural, but “super-natural” and even symbolic. By “going against himself,” the father asserts his transcendence and becomes reason, power, morality and law. He becomes a living expression of that link between the natural world and what is above it. His very presence is counter-natural. Animals do not need him, but mankind cannot exist without him, unless it wants to exist as a mere species of animal.
    Page 2 of 3 - With this in mind it should be obvious why traditional society saw him as the priest of  the family, and why such civilizations clung tightly to patriarchy. The father was the lawgiver and shepherd of the family, precisely because he was an earthly reflection of God.
    Even modern secular psychology will tell us that we form our ideas of God largely from our experiences with our fathers.
    This has been a basic intuition throughout human history. Woman was perfectly situated to develop the “horizontal” earthly dimension of the child’s existence — but it was up to the warrior-priest-king to pierce the “vertical” dimension of transcendence. Mothers transform babies into boys, and they do so with a tenderness and patience that men cannot hope to provide. Fathers, on the other hand, transform boys into men.
    Also, such a transformation from boy to man was never seen as a simple matter of biological maturity that would take care of itself. The child, like his ancestors before him, had to take up the scepter and the sword, ready to transcend nature and “go against himself.” He had to graduate and assume the self-guided soulfulness of manhood.
    This was usually acted out in various dramatic rites of passage. These rites seem quite severe and harsh to us today, but only because we are immersed in the material side of existence. We regularly put our children under the knife of the surgeon if their physical well-being demands it — why would we not extend this concern for well-being into the spiritual realm? Traditional societies were just being consistent, guarding the child beyond the merely physical plane. They knew that the spiritual dimension also might call for a kind of surgery, and so they brought boys, through fire, into adulthood.
    I admit that all of this is very difficult to comprehend and accept in a society which only measures morality in materialistic terms: productivity, “health,” science, practicality, and the like.
    I have said before that once a society devalues wisdom it will have no place for the elderly, because the elderly are the guardians of wisdom. So it is with fatherhood. If we value only those roles which manifest themselves in a naturalistic usefulness, and which conform to our superficial notions of equality, then we will have no place for the warrior, priest or King.
    The father will be reduced to a “breadwinner.” He will be equal with his wife and therefore redundant and unnecessary as a parent. His job will be to contribute money to the mother and child, but nothing else of any unique importance. He may contribute his DNA, but even for that purpose he may soon be unnecessary.
    Page 3 of 3 - These observations should do two things: First, they should cause us to look long and hard at what must be done to recover the institution of patriarchy, so that the flame of man’s higher possibilities can be rekindled. I can tell you it will require sacrifices.
    But, more importantly, it should inspire us to admiration for those men who, despite being constantly undermined by their society, have nonetheless “gone against themselves”; who have stuck with their offspring; who have acted out their role as warrior, priest and king; who continue each day to protect that tradition which we call fatherhood.
    The opinions in this column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the The McPherson  Sentinel or GateHouse Media. If you have any related questions or suggestions that you would like to see explored here, simply email me at daniel.schwindt@gmail.com.

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