NEWS FROM THE CENTER FRIDAY DIGEST December 17, 2021 - Children of Men

In the LSB, the minister prays, "You have had mercy on those whom you created." In the Lutheran Worship, we hear the pastor intone "for you have had mercy on us children of men." In this instance, LW seems to get it right, not only in terms of poetry, but in tone and depth of meaning. Our Lord created all things, angels and animals included, but in the feast we thank God for the mercy he has shown to us, children of men. It is much more human.


And so I came across John Miller's National Review article commemorating P.D. James' 1991 novel The Children of Men. In James' dystopia focuses on a world in which there are in fact no children. None at all. The schools are empty, as are the playgrounds. No need for diapers, except for the aging. No need for cribs. And it's profoundly sad. So sad that it features the baptism of a cat, an idea that seems awfully prescient in a world of grand dogs, though the idea that baptism is still a thing in our cultural beehive mind is probably far fetched.

So, as the climate changers work their ways toward extermination, we are doing just fine on our own. You need a birth rate of 2.1 just to keep up. We're now at 1.7, with 1.5 in Germany, 1.3 in Italy, and South Korea just under 1.0. Stunning. Perhaps it's this kind of lifelessness that has inspired the grim and hopeless Squid Games.

It's hard not to think that we have been busy breaking the ties that bind us children of men. In abortion, it was the tie between mother and child. In birth control the link between marriage and children, so also gay marriage. Postponement of marriage means young people tied to nothing at all, save, perhaps the elusive promises of career, and the thought that co-workers and friends might serve as family substitutes. With that a drastic drop in church attendance, where the family bonds are renewed and rejuvenated in baptismal waters, in Jesus our brother, and God our Father.

In Children of Men, the people can hardly remember the cry of a baby or the laughter of children. P.D. James' 1991 novel sure seems to have nailed a world in we are offered "Freedom from fear, freedom from want, freedom from boredom." But, of course, none of this is freedom. Rousseau said that man is born free, yet is everywhere in chains. And that's a lie. We are born dependent, in a web of relationships, including mom and dad, God willing grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. We need one another, right from the start, and then at the end. And an ever growing government is hardly the answer, just makes it worse, for it severs us from our humanity.

The freedom that the world has sought ends only in loneliness, in the children of men being separated on our own islands, apart from the love of each other, apart from the love of God. It is worth noting that Children of Men ends on a hopeful note, the birth of a special child. That child has already come into our world, and so we still hope. And if you want to hear the cries of babies, and the laughter of children, check out our seminary chapel, especially during the Wednesday morning Communion service. And when the minister talks about God having mercy on those whom He has created, substitute in your mind children of men, and allow your heart to hope.

The Rev. Dr. Peter Scaer is chairman and professor of Exegetical Theology and director of the M.A. program at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind.

Be Informed

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Be Equipped

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Be Encouraged

“In carols of Christmas, you’ll sometimes hear more than gladness that the Child is born on Christmas. You’ll hear of deliverance: ‘Born that man no more may die. Born to raise the sons of earth …’ There is much to ponder before, during, and after Christmas. Let the meaning of Christmas fill our hearts with anticipation, wonder, and thanksgiving for many days! For death’s days are numbered because of a birth—the birth of the Key of David.” --James M. Kushiner, Fellowship of St. James

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