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Reports of the death of fatherhood have been greatly exaggerated. There are many good dads, like mine, quietly blessing their children.

Problems with fathers are nothing new. They go back to the beginning. Genesis alone is a vast catalog of fathers’ sins, whether those of Adam, Noah, and Lot, or the patriarchs themselves.

What about good fathers, though? Here is C. S. Lewis, writing in the 1940s:

We have learned from Freud and others about those distortions in character and errors in thought which result from a man’s early conflicts with his father. Far the most important thing we can know about George MacDonald is that his whole life illustrates the opposite process. An almost perfect relationship with his father was the earthly root of all his wisdom. From his own father, he said, he first learned that Fatherhood must be at the core of the universe. He was thus prepared in an unusual way to teach that religion in which the relation of Father and Son is of all relations the most central.

I first read these words in my teens, when a youth minister—a spiritual father in his own way—began putting Lewis and G. K. Chesterton and Dietrich Bonhoeffer in my hands. This excerpt comes from the opening page of a MacDonald anthology Lewis edited. The Scottish pastor, preacher, and novelist’s writings were crucial to Lewis’s conversion, so much so that Lewis called him “my master.”

Lewis writes that MacDonald had “an almost perfect relationship with his father.” This is remarkable on its face. But is it unique?

I don’t think so. Fatherlessness is a real problem, but reports of the death of fatherhood have been greatly exaggerated. In fact, the reason Lewis’s comment resonated when I was in high school was that it named my own experience. True, few of us would reach for the phrase …

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