Volume 7, Issue 7
February 15th, 2012
Introducing the newest member to the Ruth Institute Circle of Experts: Scott Yenor
I’m writing this from a hotel room in Washington, D.C. I have speaking events every evening this week, including at Catholic University, Georgetown University and Mt. St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland. We have added many new subscribers in the last few weeks, including students from the University of Houston, Northern Arizona University and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Welcome, one and all! Please tell your friends about the Ruth Institute and our mission to promote lifelong married love to college students and young adults by creating an intellectual and social climate favorable to marriage. Share this newsletter with your friends, with your pastors and with your parents!
And please consider supporting the Ruth Institute with a gift. We think there are a million people in America who would contribute $10 to the Ruth Institute. Do you agree? We need your help finding those people! Make your most generous contribution today.
I am happy to introduce you to my friend Professor Scott Yenor, who is the newest member of our Ruth Institute Circle of Experts. I discovered Prof. Yenor’s wonderful book, Family Politics, which goes through all the major modern political thinkers to see what they have to say about marriage. He finds that most of them fall short of a real understanding of marriage, until he gets to Karol Wotyla, the Polish philosophy professor who became Pope John Paul II. When I read that he admires JPII, and has 5 children, I wondered if he was Catholic. When I realized that he lives in Idaho (teaching at Boise State University) I thought he might be Mormon. You’ll have to listen to my podcast interview with him below to find out for sure!
I had a chance to meet Prof. Yenor at a conference at BYU last fall. During that event, he said, “It is a house of cards,” referring to the caliber of the intellectual arguments we hear from our opponents. Do you ever think the Culture of Death is winning? Just remember Prof. Yenor’s comment, and know that you are on the winning side of the argument and the winning side of history.
Help us spread this good news to others. Consider giving a gift of just $10 to help us reach out to more people. Even small contributions can make a big difference.
Sincerely, Dr. J
Prof. Scott Yenor earned his Ph.D. from Loyola University Chicago in 2000 and now teaches political philosophy at Boise State University. His book, Family Politics: The Idea of Marriage in Modern Political Thought, was published by Baylor University Press in 2011. The book explores how family politics argues that marriage is more than a contract, though the perspective of contract has come to dominate Western thinking. Prof. Yenor has been trying, however imperfectly, to reduce this teaching to practice as he lives and loves his wife, Amy, and their five children.
Dr. J's interview with Scott Yenor
This time on "From the Front Lines of the Culture War" on Catholic Radio of San Diego, Dr. J interviews Dr. Scott Yenor, associate professor and chair of the political science department at Boise State University. He's written Family Politics: The Idea of Marriage in Modern Political Thought, which they're discussing. (Click the POD icon.)
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Better supervise the chores
When I was little, I, like all little boys (okay, and big boys) hated washing dishes. When it was my turn to clean up after dinner, instead of washing the plates and silverware, I Keep reading.
Scholar punctures illusions of pro-cohabitation study
by Benjamin Mann
This article was first published at catholicnewsagency.com on January 29, 2012.
A new study touting the “benefits” of cohabitation is based on deeply flawed ideas about human nature and fulfillment, according to a leading scholar on the social role of families.
“It's garbage-in, garbage out,” said Dr. Scott Yenor, the Boise State University political science professor whose book Family Politics: The Idea of Marriage in Modern Political Thought surveys changing ideas about society's fundamental institution.
CNA spoke with Yenor about a paper published in the February 2012 installment of the Journal of Marriage and Family, entitled “Reexamining the Case for Marriage: Union Formation and Changes in Well-being.”
The study, Yenor says, “uses the 'thinnest' understanding of human happiness – one that requires the least of any human being – and judges relationships on that basis.”
Lead author Dr. Kelly Musick, a Cornell University professor of policy analysis and management, says her research “shows that marriage is by no means unique in promoting well being, and that other forms of romantic relationships can provide many of the same benefits” to individuals.
“While married couples experienced health gains,” Musick says of her findings, “cohabiting couples experienced greater gains in happiness and self-esteem. For some, cohabitation may come with fewer unwanted obligations than marriage and allow for more flexibility, autonomy, and personal growth.”
But Yenor says Musick's study, coauthored with University of Wisconsin-Madison professor Larry Bumpass, reveals more about the authors' flawed assumptions, than it does about marriage and cohabitation.
“The standard that they're judging institutions by, is the self-assessment of individual happiness,” Yenor explained. “The questions that they ask these people are along the lines of: 'Do you feel good about yourself?' They use such low standards to judge these situations.”
“The lower the bar, the easier it is to hop over. They asked questions like whether married and cohabiting people were 'satisfied with themselves.' That's a very low bar.”