• Michael Martin

The Children of Men

I have been thinking a lot about fertility.

Fertility, of course, is important to a farmer—fertility of the soil made possible through the use of compost and green manures, fertility of the animals on the farm, of honeybees and other pollinators, and of the plants which the farmer grows. Clean water also supports fertility, as does clean air. This is not hard to figure out.

The fertility of Creation, some might say “of the ecology” or “of the environment,” is also important to human fertility and procreation. Procreation, that is, is very Pro-Creation: it fulfills the terms of the contract for living in the Kingdom: “Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth’”(Gen 1:28). And the means to this end follow: “Then the Lord God took the man and placed him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it” (Gen 2:15).

Many commentators have read the language of Genesis—“subdue it; and have dominion over it”—as a kind of protocapitalist formula for exploitation. But ancient Hebraic culture was hardly a capitalist enterprise, as if this needs to be explained. Margaret Barker, for one, has suggested that the word “subdue” used here does not exactly capture the import of the Hebrew word kbš which also implies a bond, as in “being bound to” [1]. What’s important here is that Adam and the earth were bound to each other in a reciprocity of flourishing and fertility: for flourishing and fertility are spiritually, biologically, and economically enmeshed. Without the one, you cannot have the other.

But we live in a world hostile to fertility, and therefore hostile to flourishing.

This came to mind this week when I caught part of New York Senator Chuck Schumer’s remarks this week that the United States needs to allow as many immigrants (illegal or legal) into the country as possible because “we’re short of workers and we have a population that is not reproducing on its own.” I will pass over that the good senator supports abortion up until the moment of birth, which clearly would contribute to a population decline. I will also pass over that all-cause mortality is up drastically over the last two years and that thousands upon thousands of healthy young people have either died or been incapacitated due to a “mysterious cause” (that we all know). I will also pass over that this was on the heels of Bill Gates promoting the idea of death panels at the Cop27 meeting. And I won't even mention the now widespread enactment of laws that allow juveniles to self-sterlize without parental consent, as happened recently in my home state of Michigan.

But I will not pass over that fertility rates have been plummeting for decades and that this decline is accelerating. According to this report, sperm counts have plunged over 62% in under fifty years. Add to that the mounting evidence that C0vid v@ccines are probably contributing to infertility, especially in women, not to mention an alarming increase in miscarriages in vaccinated pregnant women, then we have a recipe for demographic disaster.

Given these developments, I decided to take a nostalgic peek into P. D. James’s masterful apocalyptic novel, The Children of Men. Written in the early-1990s and set in 2021, James tells the story of a world in which human fertility is no longer possible. Fertility, worldwide, suddenly stops. As a result, the surviving population watches as the world becomes incrementally more empty of souls, older and older. One character in the book, the Oxford historian of the Victorian age Theodore Faron marks the antecedents of the fall:

Much of this I can trace to the early 1990s: the search for alternative medicine, the perfumed oils, the massage, the smoking and anointing, the crystal-holding, the non-penetrative sex. Pornography and sexual violence in film, on television, in books, in life, had increased and become more explicit but less and less in the West we made love and bred children. It seemed a welcome development in a world grossly polluted by over-population. As a historian I see it as the beginning of the end.” [2]

First a drastic drop in birthrate (not unlike we’re seeing at the moment) was followed by a zero birthrate:

Overnight, it seemed, the human race had lost its power to breed. The discovery in July 1994 that even the frozen sperm stored for experiment and artificial insemination had lost its potency was a peculiar horror casting over Omega the pall of superstitious awe, of witchcraft, of divine intervention. The old gods reappeared, terrible in their power.” [3]

One of the eerier elements to The Children of Men is the post-Omega (the date fertility stopped) fad of women pushing prams bearing dolls instead of babies, a stunning psychological mechanism of the simulacra. The fad passes, as fads do, but makes a resurgence that Faron observes:

It had been years since he had seen a doll thus paraded, but they had been common twenty years ago, had become something of a craze. Doll-making was the only section of the toy industry which, with the production of prams, had for a decade flourished; it had produced dolls for the whole range of frustrated maternal desire, some cheap and tawdry but some of remarkable craftsmanship and beauty which, but for the Omega which originated them, could have become cherished heirlooms….. At one time it wasn’t possible to walk down High Street without being encumbered by their prams, by groups of admiring quasi-mothers. He seemed to remember that there had been pseudo-births and that broken dolls were buried with ceremony in consecrated ground. Wasn’t it one of the minor ecclesiastical disputes of the early 2000s whether churches could legitimately be used for these charades and even whether ordained priests could take part?” [4]

I don’t exactly expect to witness anything like what James describes in her book; she was not a prophetess. She was, however, incredibly perceptive and, though she speaks in metaphor, hers is an apt metaphor for a culture rich in sex but impoverished in love and fertility. But this is what happens when sex and procreation are unmoored from marriage in the cultural imaginary.

I wish I could say I’ve been shocked by the general ennui with which our governmental and corporate institutions—including the media—have treated our falling fertility rates and the added pressures of possible, likely true, v@x-related infertility and miscarriages. But I’m not. They seem to welcome such a development. It may even be part of the plan, as many physicians and other experts have been been warning for over two years that infertility and miscarriage were very real possibilities for an unproven and rushed mRNA product. They weren’t prophets either, just people looking to the canons of their tradition and employing a little common sense. Anyway, the indifference of the usual gatekeepers is appalling.

In his very interesting book The Function of the Orgasm, the psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich claimed to have found a kind of energy implicit to the orgasm that he also detected in various atmospheric conditions. He would come to call this phenomenon orgone energy, and it seems to have some resonances with the Vedic concept of prana or the classical Greek idea of zoë (life)—concepts materialist science dismisses. He ends his book with this observation:

Having come at the conclusion of this book, the reader, like the author himself, will not be able to avoid the impression that the study of the orgasm, the stepchild of natural science, has led us deep into the secrets of nature. The investigation of living matter went beyond the confines of depth psychology and physiology and enter unexplored biological territory. Sexuality and the living process became identical, and a new avenue of approach to the problem of biogenesis was opened. What was psychology became biophysics and a part of genuine, experimental natural science. Its core remains, as always, the enigma of love, to which we owe our being.” [5]

Could it be that the energy Reich discovered (but that was always there) has been compromised in its functioning by the absolutely degraded diets to which the industrial west has subjected itself, and that, combined with the soup of toxins we breathe and ingest every day, we have primed our biology for collapse via the introduction of foreign and synthetic substances the repercussions of which we know not? There are certainly other conclusions to which one could arrive; but the apathy of the gatekeepers and their abdication of anything resembling concern for the commonweal suggests that the reality may be far more sinister than even imaginable.

Reich’s pronouncement, that the core remains in the enigma of love to which we owe our being, does give me some comfort. For I find it to be a truly sophiological insight congruent with one of the key utterances of sophiological truth:

When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth:

When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep:

When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth:

Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him;

Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the children of men. (Proverbs 8:27-31)

Michael’s latest book is Sophia in Exile. He can be reached at director@thecenterforsophiologicalstudies.com Also check out the latest volume of Jesus the Imagination: Flesh & Spirit. Twitter: @Sophiologist_

1. Margaret Barker, Creation: A Biblical Vision for the Environment (T&T Clark, 2010), 122.

2. P. D. James, The Children of Men (Knopf, 1992), 7-8.

3. Ibid., 8.

4. Ibid., 34-45.

5. Wilhelm Reich, The Function of the Orgasm (1942; Souvenir Press, 1973), 386.

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