Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

Step 3

March 08th, 2017 by G.

A friend said, forget politics, the basic program for righting the world is three simple steps.

1. Get yourself together.
2. Get a good family going.
3. Get your kids to repeat steps 1-3.

He’s right.


Perhaps the main rare virtue of our friend Bruce Charlton is that he has the ability to see what is in front of his face and the clarity to then say it. Things like, we went to the moon once, no longer. Things like, any religion that isn’t having kids is a failure.

I’ve taken that insight and generalized it into two rules of thumb.

Any institution that isn’t reproducing itself with children is sick.

Any sick institution that shrugs off its sickness is dying.

Some observations:

* Yes, America is dying.

* Reproduction means literally having kids. But not just that. It means raising them to carry on. It means step 3. This is where even some Mormon families fail. They think because they themselves are virtuous, their kids will automatically end up all right.

* Some dying institutions die quietly. Other dying institutions are cancers. They try to take their host down with them. I’ve been thinking about vertical transmission of culture versus horizontal transmission of culture. Vertical transmission is having kids and raising them. Horizontal transmission is sharing from one person to another, religious conversion for example–or propaganda from media and academic organs. It seems to me that horizontal transmission is good only if it comes from a healthy core, from a group that is also engaged in vertical transmission. Just as its good for you to love others and to self-sacrifice only if you love yourself, trying to convert people to your point of view is good only if your point of view isn’t sick. Isn’t a cancer.

* Is it a coincidence that the Great and Spacious Building is all about horizontal transmission and has no foundation, whereas Lehi’s first thought after taking the fruit was to get his family to come and share it with him?

* Vertical transmission is infinite. There is no end to step 3. Horizontal transmission is always ignoring the question, “and then what?”


  • These steps should not be done in order, rigidly. They all happen at once. A woman is only a woman, the poet said, but what a woman is is a great companion through the shipwreck of life. There is a lot to be said for marrying and raising children young while you are still sorting out your career.
  • I suspect that the program works best if it leads to the cross, the empty tomb, and the fruit of that tree which is delicious to the taste and desirable above all other fruit. In other words, this is not just a program for righting the world.  This is a program for the peace of God, passing understanding.
Comments (31)
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March 08th, 2017 06:53:58

Bruce Charlton
March 8, 2017

Great stuff!

“Any institution that isn’t reproducing itself with children is sick.”
“Any sick institution that is blase about its sickness is dying.”


Excellent litmus test.

The West – Fail. The Western elites – Fail. Atheists – Fail. Sexual Revolutionaries – Fail. Mainstream (‘Liberal’) Christianity – Fail.

But (of course!) to pass these tests is merely the preliminary to further evaluation – to pass these tests does not mean you are healthy!

But *only if* an institution passes these tests is there even a *possibility* that it is healthy.

So we only need focus attention on those that pass the tests – the rest should be set-aside, not-supported (not with words, nor effort, nor resources) – probably shunned except for uncompromising mission work.

(It is also a logical possibility that no institutions – at any given time – are healthy. Presumably that will be the case in the End Times, the final Latter Days)

March 8, 2017

Yet another home run! Plenty of great stuff here.

I know this wasn’t your main thrust, but your three rules reminded me of a liberal book I read about poverty years ago, which wanted to show how people are oppressed by the system, but the only conclusion I took from it was the understanding that there are really just 3 rules for avoiding poverty: finish high school, don’t break the law, and don’t have children outside of marriage. That’s it. If people could follow those three little rules, virtually all poverty in America could be eliminated.

March 8, 2017

Huston, I usually add “Stay off drugs.”

One of my half-serious comments to parents is sometimes: “if your teenagers are not in jail, not doing drugs, and not making babies (out of wedlock), you’re doing a good job these days.”

We probably need to add “not consuming pronography” to that now. Though it is implicit in G’s step 2: make a good family.

I was going to liken pron to marijuana/tobacco, as in not noticeably or immediately harmful with infrequent low doses, but addictive, and leading to worse transgressions/consequences. However, recent medical/psych reports say pron is more like cocaine or even crack in its ability to quickly cause addiction in short term use. And I believe it was G who said something about when you view “x”/whatever there is (eventually if not immediately) spiritual and psychological/emotional effects created in the viewer just _as if_ he had done “x”/whatever.

Perhaps BC can weigh in on that latter statement.

The p-word seems high on the adversary’s list of tools to prevent family formation. Its consumption by minors is a stepping stone, and prepares them for participation in the sexual revolution.

John Mansfield
March 8, 2017

These three steps are necessary but not sufficient. A broken Christian culture is inward focused and claims that teaching our own children fulfills the command to publish the gospel to the world.

Spencer Kimball: “If there were no converts, the Church would shrivel and die on the vine.” Horizontal transmission is more than a consequence of a healthy core; it’s part of core health.

March 8, 2017

Book, amen on all of the above. You make me think of a comment lament I have about the young adults in the Church now. It’s shocking how very few of them even care about trying to date and marry. Many of the young men in their 20s simply shrug their shoulders at the idea.

The only possible explanations for this are a rampant addiction to porn, or an epidemic of sleeping around. OR, they all just stopped caring about sex, but that doesn’t seem right, now does it? Even worse is how many parents and other members who have their heads in the sand about this obvious fact.

When I was a kid, the mantra was “don’t date until you’re 16,” but for years now it’s been, “after 16, you really need to START dating.”

I expect the birth rate in the Church in the US to go down. Globally, though, I have higher hopes. Social changes in the US are hurting the Church and will continue to do so–international expansion and demographic change will be the lifeblood of the Church in the 21st century.

Ivan Wolfe
March 8, 2017

“The only possible explanations for this are a rampant addiction to porn, or an epidemic of sleeping around. OR, they all just stopped caring about sex, but that doesn’t seem right, now does it? ”

I can only go with anecdotal conversations I or my wife have had with YSA ward bishops, but –

Apparently, there are no YSA men in the church who are porn free, and most are addicted.

Ivan Wolfe
March 8, 2017

After my divorce, I got seriously annoyed being asked in every interview with a bishop or stake president if I was viewing porn.

But, after some explained to me how pervasive the issue is, it stopped bugging me. After I got married again, the questions stopped. However, I know of married me with porn “issues” so I can’t see why, unless it’s just so much worse among the YSAs.

Ivan Wolfe
March 8, 2017

That should be “I know of married men with porn “issues” – that was not a confession; I was referring to “men” not me.

March 8, 2017

JM, yes, to the absolute need for both generational members and converts. But almost every organization or movement does some form of recruiting, so that’s not a litmus-test issue.

Huston, I’m sorry for my faux pas. I just now realized that “don’t do drugs” is included in your “don’t break the law.”

March 8, 2017

Huston, two other factors I’ve noted among the unmarrieds (both never-marrieds and divorcees) are abuse/trauma, and (apparently genetic) mental/brain disorders.

Childhood abuse/trauma severely affects a person’s ability to form and maintain relationships. (Morbid obesity (not just “plain” obesity) and homosexuality are two of the more common outward indicators.)

When I was active in single adult events in the church I noted a very high occurrence of dysfunction and emotional “things” going on. That wasn’t an accurate sampling though, because the non-dysfunctional singles generally stayed away or quickly dropped out of participation.

BC has often written of “mutation accumulation” in the gene pool, and I suppose that plays a small part among the many reasons people are delaying or avoiding marriage.

It’s a rule/execption thing. Yes, the rule is to get married. But I’ve met plenty of people, and I include myself in that group, who really shouldn’t. At least not until the “deal killer” problems are fixed, assuming they are of the type that can be fixed or at least controlled.

March 8, 2017

AMEN to the dating thing. Too many of our young people in the Church are too caught up in stuff to date (or even go to dances), so that I wonder if they will ever learn to carry on a live conversation with a member of the opposite sex.

March 8, 2017

I would echo JM’s comment about missionary work. Having and raising children is of course missionary work. But there’s something special about converts. The rejuvenate and strengthen the converted just as they receive strength from the converted. There’s a nice parable about that in Jacob 5.

Without the converts, even if we were all raising children, the church would fail. They (non-member converts) can’t be made perfect without us, and we can’t be made perfect without them.

Ivan Wolfe
March 8, 2017

Possibly apropos:

“A 2016 UK survey found that, since 1990, rates of depression and anxiety among the young have increased by 70%, while the American Counseling Association has reported a “rising tide of personality disorders among millennials.”

That such disorders appear to be an acute problem with this generation may be an unintended outcome of the unprecedented experiment conducted in the 1990s and 2000s by progressive parents.

In 2014, a survey of 100,000 college students at 53 U.S. campuses by the American College Health Association found that 84% of U.S. students feel unable to cope, while more than half experience overwhelming anxiety.”

Andrew E.
March 8, 2017

“The only possible explanations for this are a rampant addiction to porn, or an epidemic of sleeping around. OR, they all just stopped caring about sex, but that doesn’t seem right, now does it? ”

Men, most especially average men, need status to attract women. A culture of monogamy, one woman for one man, and an economy geared towards real production, requiring real work and not fake make work, give men status. We don’t have either of those.

naked rat
March 8, 2017

With regard to getting the youth to date – could it be that the youth have been wired not to care anymore? We are giving them smart phones at earlier and earlier ages to fuel the distracted lifestyle.

March 9, 2017

I can accept that a religion that is not having kids is sick. I’m not so sure that it’s a failure. After all the Christian Church started out tiny, and look at it now. It may shrink for a generation or two, but it doesn’t follow that it’s done for.

Nor does it follow that its point of view is wrong. The problem may be one of praxis rather than belief.

(I realize you have not expressly said any of these things about the Christian churches in general, or any of them in particular, aside from alluding to statements of Bruce’s.)

Taking the Catholic Church as an example, I’m pretty sure that Catholics were having bigger families 50 years ago than Mormons are today. Does it follow that today’s Mormon Church is sicker than the Catholic Church of 1960?

The difference between the Catholic Church of large families of a half-century ago, and today, is that the bishops and priests of the Church of that time were dead serious about morality: A mortal sin could damn your soul for eternity, and Communion was not to be taken in the state of mortal sin, lest your sin be compounded by sacrilege. The teachings that resulted in large families back then, are still on the books today (namely, no thwarting the natural results of the procreative act). But like our immigration laws, those teachings are no longer “enforced”. It’s a matter of practice: before, the teachings were put into practice, today they’re not. That, rather than lack of procreation per se, is the Church’s sickness.

Non-procreation is a symptom of the underlying sickness, the sickness, again, being the failure to take sin seriously; the sin, in turn, being the thwarting of the natural results of the procreative act. This thwarting is the thing, directly affecting fertility rates, which sets our age apart from all others. People don’t need incentives to procreate, it’s as natural as eating or sleeping. But now they have easy access to the means of arresting the process or suppressing its effects, and are rarely given any reason not to do so. This is society-wide and no Christian church is immune to it. The Catholic Church at least has the weapons in its arsenal, a strong moral, theological and historical basis for putting a stop to it among the faithful, should its leaders choose to make that effort. Most churches don’t even teach that it’s wrong.

March 9, 2017

Excellent comments, all.

I don’t know if horizontal transmission is necessary over all for institutional health, but it certainly seems to be so for Mormons.

@Agellius, these are rules of thumb, not refined comparative measures. It doesn’t follow that an institution with a TFR of 3.75 is 50% more healthy than an institution with a TFR of 2.5. Nor do the tools or doctrines that *could* make an institution healthy matter much, if its not healthy and not trying to be. I believe there are multiple ways that an institution can become sick (stop reproducing)–your argument for how the Catholic Church got sick is plausible.

And, yes, the Catholic Church of the early 1960s was very healthy.

Bruce Charlton
March 9, 2017

@Books “BC has often written of “mutation accumulation” in the gene pool, and I suppose that plays a small part among the many reasons people are delaying or avoiding marriage.”

Looking around, it does seem to me that the most recent generation to come to maturity are indeed biologically different – as evident by a wide range of their social and sexual ‘instincts’ – and presumably this has been going-on for more than a century.

I do not think this is the cause of the problem of blasé subfertility, but it may be contributing to the failure to recognise it.


@G “I don’t know if horizontal transmission is necessary over all for institutional health” – Islam is an example of a rapidly-growing institution in which growth is almost entirely ‘vertical’ – by high fertility. Further examples are ultra-Orthodox Jews and Amish. These have all thriven in the context of the modern West – albeit highly cut-off from, un-integrated with, Western values.

That does not mean that all or any of these are healthy institutions by our own Christian standards – but it does imply that they are at-least examples which should be studied, for what may perhaps be learned.


@Agellius – by far the most worrying thing about the Western RCC at present (after ‘only’ two generations of decline) is being almost-wholly blasé about the reality and causes of its sickness – in a state of denial that the top-down, leadership policies, plans, aspirations are exacerbating the decline.

The same applies to the third largest Christian denomination – the Anglican – churches in the Western nations have been and are continuing to collapse rapidly.

Only – among large denominations – in some of the Orthodox nations is Christianity growing, and none of these growing Orthodox churches are in The West (assuming Russia and Eastern Europe are *not* Western). They have not really done anything much to reverse sub-fertility yet – but they are not blasé on the subject and are trying to make changes.

March 9, 2017

@naked rat:
I think that distraction is a huge factor, and that the youth may very well just not care because of it. I have harped on the dangers of giving kids devices over and over, because of personal observation. I have seen sharp, bright, eager kids in my ward turn into zombies that simply don’t want to engage anymore because of their stupid smartphones. moving pixels on a screen is far more interesting than anything else anyone offers (including food, sports, and games, so lessons and talks don’t stand a chance at all).

March 9, 2017


Of course, a doctrine that is not taught and lived can have no effect. People are living it notwithstanding, and it does have an effect on those who live it. But it could affect a lot more people if the hierarchy taught it vigorously. My point is that the sickness is the loss of the sense of the gravity and peril of sin, of the consequences of sin, and of our need to be saved from sin. This has various consequences, of which low fertility rates is just one, and not even the worst one.

March 9, 2017

Dr. Michael L. Brown, an Evangelical pastor, has similar concerns, especially in regards to commandment-keeping, in his books .”Whatever Happened to the Power of God?” and “It’s Time to Rock the Boat.”

I downloaded both of those books in one Kindle volume when it was free on Amazon and the offer came through BookBub.com. They are $7 plus $4 shipping in paperback, and $10 in Kindle format now.


Dr. Brown is not a “cheap grace” advocate, and his emphasis on commandment-keeping is downright Mormon-style and old-style Catholic.

As usual, I didn’t read the whole thing, but by skimming through, and reading a few chapters, I think his theme is that the power of God is manifested through our degree of holiness, and holiness is a matter of walking the walk, not lip service or just believing the right things.

If you read his books with a charitable interpretation of his evangelical terms into LDS-speak, it illustrates my thesis that sincere evangelicals are very close to LDS in both doctrine and outward practices.

Bruce Charlton
March 10, 2017

Agellius – “My point is that the sickness is the loss of the sense of the gravity and peril of sin, of the consequences of sin, and of our need to be saved from sin. ”

I think that this is a point on which, overall, the CJCLDS takes a very different view from the RCC (speaking as a non-insider of both).

It seems to me that Mormons nearly always stress the ‘positive’ benefits of their Christianity; whereas traditional Catholics stress the fact of being saved from terrible eternal consequences (many conservative Protestants share this basic stance).

(In simplified essence: the RCC believes in default damnation from which some may be saved by the church; the CJCLDS in default salvation – albeit to a lowish level of Heaven, still, one that is happier/ better than mortal life – the role of the church being to enable people to attain a higher level of Heaven.)

If I am correct; this is a very profound difference of emphasis; and is related to a deep divergence in the basic understanding of the Christian ‘message’ – of the nature of the Gospels’ ‘good’ news.

The reason for emphasising this is that it affects the analysis of the roots of current malaise – and how it should be addressed. For Catholics, I suspect that G’s 3-step program is peripheral; almost irrelevant to the real, deep problem of saving from sin.

March 10, 2017


The bad news is that we are a fallen race, enslaved to sin. The Good News is that we may be freed from our degrading slavery through Jesus’ sacrifice and thereby become servants of righteousness (Rom. 6:18) and live in eternal happiness with God.

The way in which this is related to the current malaise, is that the problem (now as in all times) is one of slavery to sin.

The failure to have children is a matter of sin and repentance because again, people procreate as naturally as eating and sleeping. When children don’t result it means people are sinning in some manner, by suppressing the natural results of the procreative act (no one believes that the reason for low fertility is that everyone is living celibately).

If you take artificial birth control (ABC) to be morally neutral, then yes, you need a positive incentive to procreate. You can’t count on nature to take care of it, since nature is being suppressed.

But the Catholic Church has always held ABC to be gravely immoral (as did all Christian churches prior to 1930). Therefore if the Church preached the immorality of ABC, as well as the danger of sin generally, then procreation would increase among conscientious Catholics according to nature.

The answer, as always, is conversion, turning away from sin and back to God. Can this be stated in a more “positive” way? I think it is positive. Obviously repenting from sin is negative in a sense. But since evil is nothing but the perversion of good, turning from sin to righteousness is turning from negative to positive, in a basic sense. This is why conversion experiences are invariably joyful.

A Gospel that doesn’t preach turning from sin as the first step, would leave people wallowing in negativity, that is, sin. Which is precisely the current sickness of the Catholic Church! In the name of preaching a “positive” Gospel, it fails to call people to repentance, hence the mess and mire in which we find ourselves. (Which also was the downfall of mainline Protestantism.)

This relates to G’s 3-step program in that, first, if you know that sexual activity must result in children, then you have a greater incentive to work to be able to support a family, since a family will happen, unless you’re committed to celibacy. Second, if the Church preached the gravity of sin, then people would be more apt to experience the joy of repentance. People who go through that experience want it for their kids — or rather, want them never to live a lifestyle of which they may find it hard to repent, and will raise them accordingly.

This is peripheral to the Gospel in the sense that these things are not primary but are the consequence of repentance and conversion, from which all the fruits of the Gospel flow.

March 10, 2017

Agellius, this brings up an important point: the Church handbook says that birth control is allowed, but should be directed by the Spirit: “The decision as to how many children to have and when to have them is extremely intimate and private and should be left between the couple and the Lord.”

What I see, though, is members taking this as a green light to do whatever they want. I can’t believe that the birth dearth among many Latter-day Saints is because the Lord prompted so many couples to stop having babies. Obviously, they’re taking the church’s “libertarian” stance on the issue as permission to do whatever’s easiest, without following the injunction to seek the Lord’s will.

I suppose that’s an apt metaphor for our people’s spiritual malaise in general…

March 10, 2017

@Huston – exactly right! I have heard so many comments from fellow church members who take that section to mean “Ain’t nobody’s business.” But it is the Lord’s business, and I think they brush that part aside. In other words, they figure that if it isn’t something that the bishop will ask in a temple recommend interview, then they can do whatever they want without consulting the Lord about it. I honestly doubt that people are fasting and praying about it and the Lord is telling them to stay on birth control for years until school is done, the car is paid for, and you have a down payment for a house.

March 10, 2017

Moreover, I am afraid that to a lot of our young people, it has never occurred to them that ABC has any sort of moral or spiritual implications at all. Certainly nobody ever mentioned anything about it to me. My wife and I only ever thought about it when we got married and were smacked in the face with the fact that a lot of these methods were uncomfortably close to abortifacient. And yet a lot of our newly married friends talked very blithely about them, as if there was no difference and it didn’t matter.

March 11, 2017


March 12, 2017

“We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”

Rep. Steve King, Iowa 4th.

The usual suspects caterwauled.

[…] is in response to a post and comment on the Junior Ganymede blog, regarding the way to “right” the world, which, according to the post, is for good […]

March 23, 2017

Thanks, Ag. I get a chuckle when I see a backlink to JrG from “Petty Armchair Popery.”

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