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In the first Petrine epistle, Peter exhorts his readers, “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.” His instruction presumes that our hope is visible, even startling or foolish in the eyes of the world. Christian hope provokes questions and confusion in a way the hope and happiness of a materially wealthy man does not.

So, before we ask whether we are prepared to explain our hope, we should ask: Do we order our lives according to this semi-scandalous hope? Do we live beyond worldly prudence in a way that prompts questions? In two new books on families and children, Timothy P. Carney (Family Unfriendly) and Jonathan Haidt (The Anxious Generation) argue persuasively that we are losing the most visible evidence of our hope—children.

America is facing a baby bust. The total fertility rate has fallen to 1.7 children per woman (well below the replacement rate of 2.1). It isn’t simply a matter of liberated men and women being free to “choose me” over potential children—women in America wind up having fewer children than they say they hope to have.

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