Message from Malachi

The Turning: Why the State of the Family Matters, and What the World Can Do About It Richard and Linda EyreFamilius, 2014; 339 pages, $18.95 Sociologists, political scientists, ethical philosophers, demographers, psychologists, public-policy experts—these are the credentialed authori­ties loudly proffering their services as guides to a world confused about family life in the twenty-first century. So on whom do authors Richard and Linda Eyre rely in developing their perspective on this critically important topic? First and most fundamentally, they rely on Malachi, the ancient prophet who delivers the word of the Lord in the concluding lines of the Old Testament: “... turn the heart of the fathers to the chil­dren, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” (Malachi 4:6). Having taken these words as the epigraph and—implicitly—the title for their book on family issues, the Eyres cite them in a sobering opening chapter on the “curse” certain to fall upon the world “if families lose their cohesion, if the hearts of parents are not turned to their children and the hearts of children do not turn to parents.” In the modern pivot away from both the inherited social patterns of the past and from the revealed mandates of religion, the Eyres detect profound threats to family life—and to the freedom and well-being that depend on it. Resisting the bombardment of neophiliac media obsessed with the latest trends, the Eyres affirm “the basic, and ancient, institution of family” as the wellspring of timeless benefits. “The family,” they real­ize, “has functioned for millennia as the basic unit . . . for replacing and replenishing humanity, and for raising and rearing children by teaching and training them and integrating them into broader society.” Regardless of changes in economic, political, or cultural institutions, they insist, “the essence of families doesn’t change.” Underscori
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