“Families exist to die,” says Peter J. Leithart, cheerfully pondering the departure of his children in today’s On the Square.
As every nineteenth-century Russian novelist knew, the surface cracks and the old chasms reappear. Fathers become traditionalists who think that their way is the only way and their battles the only battles worth fighting. Fathers are tempted to keep their hands on the levers after they have become too feeble to be of much use. Other fathers slip away into a premature obsolescence, a retirement that is nothing more than irresponsibility in golf shoes. Sons think they are the first generation to occupy Earth, ready to correct all their fathers’ mistakes and start everything over again. Fathers are tempted by the decadence of traditionalism; sons become revolutionaries. Fathers pull back; sons pull forward. Together they threaten to rip the family fabric.