Culture Making is now archived. Enjoy five years of reflections on culture worth celebrating.
For more about the book and Andy Crouch, please visit

Posts tagged children

a tumblr post by Keith Gessen, 25 July 2008

Speaking of literary critics, I was thinking yesterday of Rozanov’s devastating critique of Herzen: He is so good, wrote Rozanov, so reasonable, so sane—and yet he will never make a young girl cry over a page of his prose.

But then I thought, as I do whenever I think of that line: What’s so great about making young girls cry?

But also, this time: If a young girl ran into Herzen in the comments section of a blog, he would almost certainly make her cry.

Are you happy now, Rozanov?

"children and happiness," by Alan Jacobs, The American Scene, 18 July 2008

Meghan is reflecting on Will Wilkinson’s reflection on a Newsweek article on how having children doesn’t make people happy. The assumption all around seems to be that this tells us something about the costs of having children. But shouldn’t we also consider the possibility that this tells us something about the costs of monitoring our own happiness? Or the costs of having defined happiness in such a way — and having organized the structure of our lives around the pursuit of happiness in such a way — that having children compromises it? It’s interesting that we’re more willing to do a cost-benefit analysis of having children than to do a cost-benefit analysis of eagerly participating in a culture of narcissism.

Here’s my thought for the day. In 1991 Rolling Stone interviewed Bob Dylan on the occasion of his 50th birthday, and at one point the interviewer asked Dylan if he was happy. This seemed to puzzle him a bit, and he was silent for a minute. Then he said, “You know,” he said, “these are yuppie words, happiness and unhappiness. It’s not happiness or unhappiness, it’s either blessed or unblessed. As the Bible says, ‘Blessed is the man who walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly.’”


from All-the-way House, by Kimberley Sevik, Good Magazine

Even today, there are only a handful of other shelters in the United States that cater specifically to former prostitutes, despite the growing number of children in the trade (estimates say there are 250,000 at any given time in the States). GEMS, opened in New York in 2001, and another, Angela’s House, opened in Atlanta in 2003. Children of the Night was the prototype for both, but both are newer, smaller, and don’t have the capacity to house their charges indefinitely or to provide services to former residents. Another difference: COTN isn’t funded with government grants. It is supported entirely by private donations, which means that Lee can spend the money pretty much as she chooses.

What she chooses is to provide the kids at her shelter with the closest thing to a comfortable middle-class childhood that they have ever had. All of their needs are met, and many of their desires as well. They are flown into Los Angeles from all over the country, and delivered to the shelter in a cab. Upon their arrival, kids are assigned a semi-private bedroom, and issued either a CD player or a DVD player.

First, Children of the Night takes care of the basics: each girl is assigned a caseworker. She is sent to a doctor for a full physical, to an off-site therapist, to a dentist. She is also enrolled in school, which is right on-site, and fully accredited. Residents at COTN get haircuts and manicures at high-end salons that volunteer their services. They attend workshops, where professionals drop in to teach them photography, yoga, meditation, acting, screenwriting, and dance.

excerpt Room to Read

For our readers who are unfamiliar with Room to Read, can you explain what it is?
We do three things: We build schools. We establish multilingual libraries and fill them with thousands of books. And we provide long term scholarships for girls because girls are often left out of the education system. Basically, we’re a group that is committed to reaching 10 million kids across the world with the life-long gift of education. In education lies the key to self sufficiency—and the best long term ticket out of poverty.

What does a $20 Donation do for Room to Read?
This is a perfect price point. Twenty dollars is sufficient to sponsor a girl’s scholarship for one month. We can also print 20 local-language children books in languages that have never really had children’s books before. It’s one of the reasons there’s such an illiteracy problem in the developing world—there’s just no children’s book industry.

"Sections of a Happy Moment," by David Claerbout, 2007, at Galerie Micheline Szwajcer, Antwerp and Yvon Lambert, Paris and New York :: via lens culture
from "No Babies?," by Russell Shorto, The New York Times Magazine, 29 June 2008

There would seem to be two models for achieving higher fertility: the neosocialist Scandinavian system and the laissez-faire American one. Aassve put it to me this way: “You might say that in order to promote fertility, your society needs to be generous or flexible. The U.S. isn’t very generous, but it is flexible. Italy is not generous in terms of social services and it’s not flexible. There is also a social stigma in countries like Italy, where it is seen as less socially accepted for women with children to work. In the U.S., that is very accepted.”


The change in the way these children address their parents probably stems from baby boomers’ less authoritarian child-raising practices. Technology is a factor, too, given the offhand style that people use in instant messages and cellphone texts. The Internet has made people comfortable using names that are not their own - in particular, the frequent use of screen names online has made naming a bit more elastic, said Cleveland Evans, a psychology professor at Bellevue University in Nebraska who is a former president of the American Name Society, a group that studies the cultural significance of names. Screen names, he said, “might have made people freer to think of the same person addressed by multiple names, and that’s what nicknaming is.”

"Carillon, Amsterdam, September 2006," by David Urbano, at Les Rencontres d'Arles Photographie :: via lens culture