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Divided We Fall: Family Discord and the Fracturing of America

Recorded on March 7, 2006

Location: The Heritage Foundation's Van Andel Center

Following September 11, politicians of both major parties resolutely asserted America's national unity. Today, the rhetorical illusions of unity have given way to divisive oversimplifications of Red vs. Blue electoral maps. In Divided We Fall: Family Discord and the Fracturing of America, Bryce Christensen offers a more nuanced yet more disturbing picture of American disunity - a disunity both social and political, both public and personal. Deeper than the disagreements that separate voter from voter, this disunity increasingly separates man from woman, husband from wife, parent from child, grandparent from grandchild, and sibling from sibling.

Christensen explores the cross-cutting tensions surrounding these fissures. Finding ways to bridge such fissures, he argues, takes on particular urgency because of the mounting costs of family disintegration - social and legal, cultural and psychological. Additionally, pragmatic government responses to pressing social needs are no substitute for deeper probing into the cultural causes of these needs. Continued reliance on government to compensate for family failure will make matters worse in the long run. While family failure puts ever more burdens on government, his analysis shows how such failure withers the selfless civic impulses that sustain any healthy government.

BRYCE J. CHRISTENSEN is Assistant Professor of Composition in the English Department of Southern Utah University. He is also the author of Utopia Against the Family and many articles on cultural and literary issues in various scholarly journals.