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

"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.’”