Monday, February 25, 2008

Lack of Education is not the Problem

There are certain areas in which a lack of education is the problem, and for which education is the cure. Moral behavior is not one of them.

When it comes to issues of morality - obeying the law, and so forth - the core problem is one of character. If it is in a person's nature to abide by the law, they will. If it is in a person's nature to flaunt the law, they will.

The story that is on this link (link) is a great example. The poor person arrested in that story is a leading educator on the very topic in question. The person knows the subject inside and out. The result? The person still apparently (and the person has not been convicted) disobeyed the law.

This, of course, flies in the face of the very raison d'etre of the rahibilitation program that the person headed up. Education doesn't rehabilitate. That's why recitivism rates are so high. It is not nurture that is the root of the problem but nature.

It may make those prone to break the law more careful in how they do so, or more clever at avoiding arrest/conviction. It will, however, generally not alter a person's attitude toward the matter.

The causal basis for law-abiding or law-flaunting behavior is deeper - it resides in heart. Only God can change the heart. That's why God's grace is the solution for those who are involved in crime of one sort or another. When we break the law, we ought to pray to God for grace to overcome sin. When our brothers and sisters break the law, we ought to pray to God for them. And to those outside the faith, we ought to preach the gospel, and pray for its success.

Let us so do,


Friday, December 28, 2007

Homework too Hard?

A made-up reader writes:

My child has been complaining about the quantity and complexity of his homework lately, and I'm beginning to sympathize. I mean, I'm not sure I could handle many of the subjects he's working on, and some of the teacher's requests (such as requests to memorize the multiplication tables up to 12) seem to be outdated. Don't we have calculators for these things?

The Reformed Boor answers:

Tables up to 12? That's nothing. Compare what your child's mind may be capable of (link). Of course, not every child that plays soccer ends up Pelee, not every child that plays football ends up Brett Favre, not every child that plays hockey ends up Wayne Gretsky, not every child that learns the piano ends up Mozart. There are exceptional people in every category of achievement, whether athletic, artistic, or intellectual. Nevertheless, you should encourage your child to try to excel, working unto God in all that they do.

Or consider this remarkable (and completely different) achievement (link).


Thursday, November 8, 2007

Can One Leave if One is Unhappy?

One of Dr. Gail Saltz's readers asks:

I never fell in love with my husband. I made a good choice on paper, but I don't feel intrigued or stimulated emotionally or intellectually by him. I just don’t really care that much about him. I never have, even though we get along well.

I am bored, lonely and don’t feel I can ever manufacture what I want with him. I just don’t think we connect that way, or that he can really fulfill what I need emotionally. I am depressed and hopeless. We have been married five years and don’t have children. Please help me decide what to do.


The Reformed Boor responds:

The answer, of course, is that no - your lack of love is not an excuse to leave.

Let's dig in a bit more, though.

You stated: "I never fell in love with my husband."

So what? "Falling in love" is not a requirement for marriage. On top of that, according to your own testimony, you've only been married five years. That's a pretty short time to say "never." In other words, if you are holding out hope of falling in love, don't give up after such a short time.

You stated: "I made a good choice on paper."

The key thing is that you are married. It's not really a question of whether that choice was particularly voluntary on your part, the result of societal or family pressures, or the result of your husband to be's pestering. You're married.

You don't have to defend your choice - what's done is done.

You stated: "but I don't feel intrigued or stimulated emotionally or intellectually by him."

So what? Maybe those are areas where he can improve (and I'm not letting him off the hook), but what does that have to do with you staying in this marriage? Of course, we know the answer: you're dissatisfied with his performance. If he was a mutual fund, you'd sell. You, however, are no longer a free woman. Leaving him (absent some extraordinary circumstances) is not an option simply because he dissatisfies you.

You stated: "I just don’t really care that much about him. I never have, even though we get along well."

Shame on you! If this follows on your last comment, double-shame! It is your duty to care about your husband. You are not business partners, you are one flesh. You have a marital duties and responsibilities. One of those duties is to care about your spouse. Husbands have the duty of loving their wife, but wives have the duty of submitting to their husbands. How can either of you accomplish such a thing if you do not care for the other person?

You stated: "I am bored, lonely and don’t feel I can ever manufacture what I want with him."

So what? Did the marriage brochures advertise bliss? Are you asking for a refund? If so, you are confused. Stop thinking about yourself, think about your husband. Your desire is to be to him. Is he bored? Entertain him. Is he lonely? Provide companionship. Does he have needs? Fill them. But don't think that I would let him off the hook either. He ought to be engaging in the same calculus. He should be trying to entertain, accompany, and satisfy you. Nevertheless, his failings in those areas neither erase your obligations or provide you with any excuse.

You stated: "I just don’t think we connect that way, or that he can really fulfill what I need emotionally."

That is one of the most selfish statements imaginable, which is why you began by trying to use "we." The second half of the sentence is more honest and yet more despicable. Maybe your husband is awful at fulfilling your needs: perhaps he does not even care to try. That is changeable, and the number one way people change that is by adjusting their needs. Am I suggesting that his failures are your fault? Certainly not. Nevertheless, you can adjust your emotional needs, and you can assist your husband in fulfilling them. He needs your help in this area. Help him!

You stated: "I am depressed and hopeless."

You are clearly not "hopeless," you have the hope of breaking your vows, betraying your husband's trust, and leaving him. Furthermore, you are clearly considering that option.

You are depressed, though, to be sure. Why? In part it is because you recognize that your behavior and attitude is wrong. In part is because your husband has come up short. In part it is because you care a lot about your own satisfaction. I don't know you. Ask yourself, though: do you suppose you are the perfect wife? Have you felt depressed because you were unable to please him? I'm not trying to add to your depression, but to change your perspective.

No one is perfect. No marriage is perfect. For some people the marital life is easier than for others. For you, it's not going great so far. Still, work on it, and chances are it will improve. Buck up! Deal with the fact that you may not have Prince Charming as your spouse.

I am sorry that you are feeling down. The solution: Cheer up!

You wrote: "We have been married five years and don’t have children."

Five years is not that long. It's too bad you don't have children. If you can have children, have some. Be fruitful and multiply. That's part of marriage, and a very important part. Some women find solace in the love and attention of their children, even if their husbands fall short. When you are worrying about keeping your children satisfied, it will be harder for you to wallow in self-pity.

You wrote: "Please help me decide what to do."

Hopefully by this point you have the answer to that question.

To everyone else that may be reading, consider this: marriage is the joining of two human beings, both of whom have faults. Both are sinners. Both make mistakes. Both have fingers to point. When you are tempted to do so, try to restrain yourself. Try to forgive.

If you are a Christian, you have been forgiven. If you have been forgiven, why should it be so hard for you to forgive others! And if you have forgiven your spouse, you can stop wallowing in self-pity and start trying to help your spouse, among other things, to be a better spouse to you.


Saturday, October 20, 2007

What a web of lies we weave, when first we practice to deceive.

Readers may recall the reports from Iraq's propaganda machine during the war between Saddam and the coalition forces that ended with total defeat of the Iraqi Republican National Guard, despite constant reports of victory.

It seems Iran may have hired a relative of that propagandist.

"11,000 Rockets a Minute" (link)

That's the claim by Iran's propagandists. They claim that if Iran is attack they will fire 11,000 rockets within a minute at enemy bases, and "This volume and speed of firing would continue." It's a wholly incredible claim. There are no enemy bases close to Iran.

Long range rockets cost money, long range rockets that are capable of targeting and harming military installations cost considerably more money. Nevertheless, let's suppose that each rocket costs only $100.

Firing 11,000 rockets per minute would cost $1,100,000 per minute. There are 60 minutes in an hour, and about 12 hours of daylight. That's a cost of more than $700 Million a day or more than $4 Billion a week, assuming only daylight missions and taking off one day a week.

Iran may be rich, but there is no way that such a volume and speed of rocket attacks is credible.

And frankly, the cost of $100 is way too low. By way of comparison a FIM-92 Stinger Missile (surface-to-air, portable, infra-red homing) costs more than $30,000 per unit. If we figure that there is a good chunk of markup in that for Raytheon, we could still more accurately estimate the cost of a single rocket at $10,000.

That would increase the first minute cost to $100 Million, they daily cost to $70 Billion and the weekly cost to over $400 Billion.

The GDP of Iran is about $600 Billion.

Moral: Don't lie. If the propagandists had provided reasonable information, it could be believed. These lies are likely simply to make the world think Iran is hiding nuclear weapons and provoke a coalition attack.


Saturday, August 25, 2007


One of Prudie's readers writes:
I am a Dutchman married for seven years to a lovely American girl. All is well, unless we visit my family in Holland, which we do one week each year. Apart from the typical in-laws issues, there is a certain language barrier. Everybody in my family speaks decent English, and as long as the group isn't bigger than four or five, we all talk in English (well, OK, at least 90 percent of the time), but when bigger groups meet, like at dinner with my parents, three sisters, and their husbands, then the "only speak English" rule is quickly forgotten. My wife thinks this is rude, and if the others cannot always speak English, then I, at least, should translate for her. I find this an impossible task, as it entails translation and explanation (who is Uncle Sjoerd?), which means that I can't talk with my family. I have asked—begged—my wife to please learn some Dutch so she can follow the discussions. She can talk back in English, nobody would mind. She feels that, being over 30, she is too old to learn a foreign language. She has tried a few times halfheartedly, but a language is simply not something you acquire by listening to tapes in the car for a couple of weeks. Am I being uncaring, and should I keep translating, or could she make some more effort to learn some Dutch?


The Reformed Boor responds:

The answer, of course, is both. In an ideal world, your wife would take an interest in your family and express that interest by attempting to learn the language. It is somewhat boorish of your wife to insist that conversations be held in English or that translation be provided at someone else's effort. Learning a new language is a challenge for someone over 30, but she ought to make an effort to learn, if she wants to know what is going on. In this case, the language barrier is lower than it might be in other situations. For example, in some cross-cultural families, she would not be able to respond in English and expect people to understand what she is saying. Picking up conversational Dutch is not going to be an easy thing, but she should not give it a half-hearted attempt and then expect you to serve as her translator.

That is your position.

On the other hand, speaking in front of your wife in a language that she doesn't know is nearly the equivalent of whispering. Surely you can imagine how uncomfortable it would be if you sat a table where everyone was whispering so that you could not hear what was being said, or talking in a code that was incomprehensible to you. It is great that you are all willing to listen in English, but accomodating your guest's weakness is part of being a good host. It is a sacrifice, but as a matter of protocol it is a sacrifice a good host should make.

That is your wife's position.

On the whole, consider that your wife is the weaker vessel. Nurture and care for her. If you can assist her with translation, consider doing so, even while you try to encourage (gently!) her to study a little more Dutch so that she can begin picking up words and phrases at the annual get togethers. If she is up for it, start using a little Dutch around the house so that she can become accustomed to common words and phrases, and so she will feel less like everyone around her is talking in code when she goes to your family gatherings. You cannot fairly require that all your relatives speak a foreign language to accomodate your wife, but you might try to lead by example, replying to their Dutch in English (since you say that they will understand) as a gentle reminder that your wife otherwise is left out of the conversation. And, of course, if they continue to speak in Dutch, you should offer your wife the assistance you can provide, even though it is inconvenient for you.

May God give us clarity in our communication with others,


Thursday, August 23, 2007

Celebration of Sin

One of Prudie's readers writes:
I've got an etiquette question because I can't decide if I'm being cheap and greedy or thoroughly modern. Here's the deal. I have found the man I plan to spend the rest of my life with. We are very much in love and committed to each other, but we don't want to get married. It's just not important to us. We are, however, buying a home together. For me, it's a huge step and a statement of our relationship. It's a major commitment ceremony all its own. To mark and celebrate the occasion, I would like to host an elaborate housewarming party, with cocktails, supper, and formal dress. And I want all my friends and family to buy us gifts. My reasoning is that this is as close to a wedding as I will ever have. My sister and brother both got married and got to register for gifts. My grandparents gave each of them a substantial sum of money, which each used as a down payment on a house. Am I not entitled to the same, or do I get penalized because I'm not actually walking down an aisle? Would I be able to register and communicate to people that I want gifts? I'd appreciate your advice, as one modern woman to another.


The Reformed Boor responds:

Obviously, this writer is neither "modern" nor a "woman," nevertheless, as usual, this boor's opinion will be provided. Yes, as your conscience tells you, you are being greedy. Worse than that, though, you are not ashamed to celebrate your violation of the seventh commandment.

Fie! For shame!

Surely, many have fallen into temptation and have sinned sexually - but to suggest that one would celebrate one's shame by holding a party, and further to suggest that one's relatives might be expected to come and shower you with gifts for your open rebellion against the Creation ordinance of marriage is abhorent.

Even strictly as a matter of protocol, it is in poor taste for one to expect gifts, even at one's marriage. Accordingly, regardless of how you present your arrangement, you should not do so for the crude purpose of eliciting gifts.

Nevertheless, one traditional occassion for gift-giving is the house-warming party. If the house-warming party is to be a formal affair, polite guests are likely to bring nicer gifts. You could reasonably anticipate that your move to new quarters will be celebrated with relatively modest gifts by your friends who share your moral views.

And don't expect your grandparents to give you money: if you were "entitled" to it, it would be your wages, not a gift.

May God restrain his judgment on this adulterous generation of ours,


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Boss Wants to Party

An anonymous reader of Prudie's column writes:
My manager is extremely sensitive, the sort who borders on being self-involved. I can honestly say she's been a very good boss professionally, but personally she is driving me crazy. She and I are friendly, but she's pushing for us to be best friends. I enjoy her company, but want to keep it business-friendly; after all, she does my performance review! If I'm not overly animated and happy to see her, she assumes I'm mad at her. She then asks around about whether or not I'm mad at her and what she did to make me mad. If I see people from the office on the weekends, she'll sniff out all the details (which I do not broadcast), and then ask me about it, informing me about how much she can drink or how late she can stay up or how she would have added to the fun. She cried over not being invited to my birthday party. She does this to many other people, not just me. We all feel the same way but don't want to upset her. But on the other hand, doing constant damage control ("Oh, no, Susie isn't mad at you, really") is exhausting. How do I salvage this situation?


The Reformed Boor responds:

From a standpoint of protocol, you could politely decline your bosses' overtures of friendship. If you believe that your boss is genuinely interested in friendship, you might try pointing out that you do not want to create the appearance that you are being obsequious in order to attain "teacher's pet" status in your workplace. Indeed, you may be able to find an opportunity to explain to your boss that you are concerned that your friendship will be misinterpreted by your coworkers, who will become jealous.

As a matter of practicality, of course, to receive the favor of one's boss is a boon. The present boor is inclined to scold you for complaining too much: the situation where you are underliked by your boss is much worse than when you are overliked.

The root problem, though, may be that you have not compartmentalized your work/social life. Although you may not broadcast that you fraternize with other coworkers, it's bound to come out in water cooler conversation from time to time. Thus, you can hardly tell your boss that you want to keep your work and personal life separate.

Your comments mention that you are concerned because your performance review is at stake. Surely this is not the real reason: if you were concerned that your out-of-work behavior would be negatively reflected on your performance review, you would not include your coworkers there either, as comments regarding what "you know who" did at last weekend's party are likely to become office gossip - especially in a workplace such as you have described. On the other hand, a positive image from your out-of-work behavior would not harm your performance review - and could actually be to your professional advantage.

However you choose to proceed, you may want to consider that - from what you have described - your boss just wants to be one of the gals. The fact that she is the boss - an authority figure - is probably the reason that it would be a downer to have her at your parties. Maybe you should consider having less wild gatherings - grow up a little. There's more to life than weekend innebriation.

Consider how rarely Scripture speaks positively about partying - though there is a time and place for recreation. Soon enough you will have more responsibility: consider acting more responsible now in preparation.

May God give us wisdom that we may enjoy the good things He has provided, with thanks and moderation,