Death by Demographics
Death by demographics: A new novel by Dr. James Dobson and Kurt Bruner suggests a dark future when longer life spans meet lower birth rates
BY: John Kennedy
JWK: In your view, what, at this point, can society do to change its current trajectory?
DJD: Well, for one thing, Washington does not seem to value the family. Every enterprise in this country has lobbyists who are there trying to get money and trying to talk our legislatures into favoring them. There are almost no lobbyists for the family. And, as a result, Congress for 40 years has passed legislation that makes it difficult for families to survive. Something called the “Marriage Penalty Tax” started in 1969 which actually raised the tax rates for those who are raising children and trying to put a roof over their heads, trying to feed them, trying to medicate them, trying to educate them. They paid higher taxes than those who were living together without (the) benefit of marriage. That’s been the way it is. (Though the tax was mitigated by the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 and the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003 ) we’re just about to go back to that now. They’re toying with the same thing. We need to support policies that make it easier for families to thrive– certainly economically easier. But there are other aspects to it. I think, rather than just phrase your question in regard to what’s happening in the culture or we can do in the culture that will change things, it has to come down to the individual.
KB: The individual family in particular.
DJD: Exactly. How much sacrifice are we willing to invest in the next generation? I’m telling you that’s worth a man and woman’s time.
JWK: Do you think, however, that culture influences those individual decision through movies, TV shows and books that push the idea the true fulfillment is something that is found outside the family — that portray the family as even a hindrance to fulfillment?
KB: Well, absolutely. That’s all over the media. I mean if you’re a typical young man or young woman today, what’s the message that the general culture gives? Well, you know, put off marriage as long as possible because that takes a lot. And then, of course, if you’re gonna have children,have just a few — one or two because they’re expensive. So, those messages permeate the culture. We believe the hope is what we call “bright spots” throughout these novels. And that is those willing to make the sacrifice, invest themselves and experience the joy of family life, of parenthood but also, as a result, fuel the economy and begin to solve this problem that’s tipping us over the cliff.
JWK: You’ve both known each other for many years. What was it like for the two of you to collaborate on a novel? Did you find it easy to work together?
DJD: (laughs) He’s kinda cranky at times. Hey, this is a good man. I worked with him for many years at Focus on the Family. He was a vice president there and I really came to respect him and it was just a logical step now that I’m at Family Talk to work with him again.
KB: It’s been actually a really fun collaboration.
JWK: What differences have you found making a point head on in one of your non-fiction books versus making your point through a fictional narrative?
KB: Well, C.S. Lewis said it well. He said you tell stories because you go through the “backdoor” of the imagination and you surprise people with things that they may have resisted if you tried to go through the front door. Jesus did this with parables. He would plant these bombs called stories. People would walk away having laughed at the story and loved the story and later on they would say “Wait a minute! He was talking about something I don’t agree with.” The same thing can happen with great (modern) storytelling. That’s why Harriet Beecher Stowe, when the wrote what is considered the most influential book in American history, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, President Lincoln said that book started the Civil War.
JWK: Can you tell me about the other two books in your planned trilogy?
KB: The first book is Fatherless is set in the year 2042. The second book is called Childless. That comes out in the fall. It’s set in the year 2043. And then the third book will be next spring called Godless and that’s set a year later. The same characters overlap in these stories.
JWK: Any plans for a movie or movies based on these books?
KB: That would be up for the Lord to create those opportunities...We’re getting good feedback, real positive feedback. People can’t put it down once they start reading.