Review - The Broken Hearth
Healing the American family
Best-selling author and former Secretary of Education Bill Bennett weighs in on the American family in The Broken Hearth (Doubleday, 2001, ISBN-0-385-49915-9), a concise treatment of the demise of the family. Citing facts and attitudes on topics like homosexuality, fatherlessness, co-habitation and divorce itself, Bennett lines up his suspects and points to each as complicit in challenging the ideals of family. Specifically, he reports the unprecedented high numbers of no-fault divorces, deserting fathers, out-of-wedlock births and co-habiting unmarried couples as the main culprits.
The product of a broken home himself, Bennett challenges that the nuclear family (a monogamous married couple living with their children) is vital to the success of civilization. Early in the book, Bennett provides an engaging historical recap of the family through the ages and the dynamics that compelled the changes we've come to know in contemporary culture. He outlines successes and failures in variations of the family structure.
Bennett does not just decry the situation, but offers a list of possible solutions. He proposes that churches reaffirm the "centrality of family" publicly. He would also change the no-fault divorce laws and defends the new Defense of Marriage Act. He would fight same-sex union recognition in states and tighten up regulations on "dead-beat dads."
Readers who are burdened with, what Bennett calls, "the fundamental crisis of our time," will bolster their practical knowledge of the problem and be reaffirmed in their desire for the healing of the American family. Even with the evidence of collapse around us, we can still strive to rebuild the American family to be the safeguard for society Bennett asserts it was always meant to be.