( Originally Published 1916 )
IN the modern dwelling the fireplace has disappeared, the steam radiator has been substituted.
The change is not without significance to the spirits of men. The fire on the hearth was the symbol of THE FAMILY. It was the original al-tar, the centre about which gathered the first human institution.
In the advance ranks of "progress" The Family is likewise vanishing. A certain group of futurist thinkers, typified by H. G. Wells, seriously propose the State instead of The Family as the proper agent to care for children.
We move from flat to flat, like gypsies. Our children are born at stations by the way, and have no home feeling.
Divorces increase; for women are travelling companions, not home makers.
By our most praiseworthy charities we are undermining The Family. By many of those schemes, both of Church and State, by which we seek to "save" the individual, we try to do what ought to be done through The Family.
Old ladies are put into institutional homes, often, when it is the duty and the blessing of The Family to keep them.
The children of the well-to-do, who ought to be growing up in daily contact with mother, father, brothers, and sisters, are sent away to private schools. They may get expert training, but they miss that family life that is infinitely more valuable to them, and equally as necessary to the parents.
Babies will be taken care of by hospitals, found-ling asylums, and other charitable institutions, provided the mother will renounce all claim to her offspring.
We heal defective souls and bodies and rescue the perishing generally, but we insist upon suppressing the function of The Family. The mother is incompetent, the father unfit, the environment is unideal; hence, take the child away to a huge brick barracks where he can be herded scientifically with other children.
Rational helpfulness should aid the defective individual by aiding The Family. For The Family is more important than the individual.
It is more to be desired that we maintain The Family than that we preserve the Nation or the Church.
Without Family life we are what Urbain Gohier calls "une poussiere de peuples," a dust-people, loose grains of sand, with no solidarity.
The "live your own life" gospel is often dangerously near humbuggery. Every young man
and young woman should plan to have children, born in happy marriage, growing up in an atmosphere of Family love; for there is nothing that so develops one's soul as the responsibilities, the joys, and sorrows of The Family.
We need a deal of wholesome human feeling to resist the entirely corrupting influence of artificial mantels over artificial grates where there is no fire, or at least but a gas log, and of radiators, and of registers, holes in the floors where hot air comes up. Would that there were some way to gather The Family once more around blazing logs and a hearthstone!
For the most beautiful cross in the world is composed of two sticks crossed and burning in the fireplace, with father, mother, and the children all gathered around it.
The Family is the first spiritual unit of mankind, the real Church, "and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."