Happy Fathers’ Day!

I hope that every father had as happy a Fathers’ Day as I did. It started with going to church, a fun outdoor ceremony. Then we all–my wife and I and three of our four kids–packed up a picnic lunch and drove to a park near Lake Harriet in Minneapolis. We took a number of photos, of which I will share only a few. Here, Ali and Kathryn carry the cooler to our picnic site:

My son brought his dog Harper, a mutt that seems to be mainly German shorthaired pointer, with some pit bull and other unknown breeds mixed in. My son saved her from the pound, as she had been adopted and returned more than once and was about to be put down. At a year or two old, she is extremely energetic:

Harper is the sort of dog that can drive you crazy with her superhuman energy, but someday some miscreant might threaten you in her presence, in which case…well, it’s a really, really bad day for the miscreant.

I took this photo of my wife Loree, Harper, Eric, Kathryn and Ali, just moments before…well, hold that thought:

So we were resting in the shade when 15 or 20 young people, carrying ladders, an accordion and other paraphernalia, came along and started setting up three or four feet from our picnic blankets. Shakespeare in the park! They set up their “proscenium”–string in the grass, actually–and started practicing sword fighting and wailing in unison. It was a little much. So, having considered and rejected the idea of waiting until the players were midway into their act and letting Harper off the leash, we set out to walk around Lake Harriet–part way, anyway.

Hours later, after working in the garden and swimming in the pool, we grilled sensational steaks and had dinner on our screened-in porch–since a severe thunderstorm warning was in effect, nothing unusual for Minnesota in June. I’m sure I’ve had a better steak sometime, but I can’t exactly remember when. The one missing kid, Laura, who just got married, as some readers will remember, called to say Happy Fathers’ Day. For those who took note of her wedding, here she is on her honeymoon in Grand Cayman, snorkeling:

Does any of this have any public, or political, significance? One would prefer to say No. But the truth is that private life, as exemplified by the Fathers’ Day that my family has just enjoyed, is increasingly controversial. Whether anything is private–that is, none of the government’s business–is, these days, debatable. We have heard much in recent years about an alleged split between social and libertarian conservatives. In my opinion, that division is overblown. What all conservatives want, in essence, is to be left alone. Call yourself a social conservative or a libertarian, it doesn’t matter: on Fathers’ Day, you just want to enjoy your private pursuits. You want to picnic with your children and enjoy a somewhat over-the-top dog. But lurking in the background is another force, which goes by the name Liberalism, that doesn’t want you to have a private life. Liberalism wants to enlist you in the state’s project, whether you like it or not. It wants to replace family life with something else, something more modern. Which is why Fathers’ Day has a somewhat subversive aura.

So, we say: Happy Fathers’ Day!

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