Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Why are Asian mothers so much better at raising high-performing children?

Consider this article in the Wall Street Journal.

But first – a little bit about Amy Chua, the author of the article:

Amy Chua is the John M. Duff Professor of Law at Yale Law School. Her first book World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability was a New York Times bestseller, was selected by both the Economist and the Guardian as one of the Best Books of 2003 and translated into eight languages. Her second book, Day of Empire: How Hyperpowers Rise to Global Dominance – and Why They Fall was a critically acclaimed Foreign Affairs bestseller. Amy Chua has appeared frequently on radio and television on programs such CNN Headline News, C-Span, The Lehrer News Hour, Bloomberg Television, and Air America. Her writings have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Financial Times, Harvard Business Review, and the Wilson Quarterly. She lives with her husband, two daughters, and two Samoyeds in New Haven, Connecticut.

And now, an excerpt from the piece itself:

A lot of people wonder how Chinese parents raise such stereotypically successful kids. They wonder what these parents do to produce so many math whizzes and music prodigies, what it’s like inside the family, and whether they could do it too. Well, I can tell them, because I’ve done it.

[…]Despite our squeamishness about cultural stereotypes, there are tons of studies out there showing marked and quantifiable differences between Chinese and Westerners when it comes to parenting. In one study of 50 Western American mothers and 48 Chinese immigrant mothers, almost 70% of the Western mothers said either that “stressing academic success is not good for children” or that “parents need to foster the idea that learning is fun.” By contrast, roughly 0% of the Chinese mothers felt the same way. Instead, the vast majority of the Chinese mothers said that they believe their children can be “the best” students, that “academic achievement reflects successful parenting,” and that if children did not excel at school then there was “a problem” and parents “were not doing their job.” Other studies indicate that compared to Western parents, Chinese parents spend approximately 10 times as long every day drilling academic activities with their children. By contrast, Western kids are more likely to participate in sports teams.

What Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you’re good at it. To get good at anything you have to work, and children on their own never want to work, which is why it is crucial to override their preferences. This often requires fortitude on the part of the parents because the child will resist; things are always hardest at the beginning, which is where Western parents tend to give up. But if done properly, the Chinese strategy produces a virtuous circle. Tenacious practice, practice, practice is crucial for excellence; rote repetition is underrated in America. Once a child starts to excel at something—whether it’s math, piano, pitching or ballet—he or she gets praise, admiration and satisfaction. This builds confidence and makes the once not-fun activity fun. This in turn makes it easier for the parent to get the child to work even more.

And here are her three main points:

Chinese parents demand perfect grades because they believe that their child can get them. If their child doesn’t get them, the Chinese parent assumes it’s because the child didn’t work hard enough. That’s why the solution to substandard performance is always to excoriate, punish and shame the child. The Chinese parent believes that their child will be strong enough to take the shaming and to improve from it. (And when Chinese kids do excel, there is plenty of ego-inflating parental praise lavished in the privacy of the home.)

[…]Chinese parents believe that their kids owe them everything. The reason for this is a little unclear, but it’s probably a combination of Confucian filial piety and the fact that the parents have sacrificed and done so much for their children. (And it’s true that Chinese mothers get in the trenches, putting in long grueling hours personally tutoring, training, interrogating and spying on their kids.) Anyway, the understanding is that Chinese children must spend their lives repaying their parents by obeying them and making them proud.

[…]Chinese parents believe that they know what is best for their children and therefore override all of their children’s own desires and preferences. That’s why Chinese daughters can’t have boyfriends in high school and why Chinese kids can’t go to sleepaway camp. It’s also why no Chinese kid would ever dare say to their mother, “I got a part in the school play! I’m Villager Number Six. I’ll have to stay after school for rehearsal every day from 3:00 to 7:00, and I’ll also need a ride on weekends.” God help any Chinese kid who tried that one.

[…]Here’s a story in favor of coercion, Chinese-style.

Now you go read the whole article to find out the three differences and read the coercion story. Read the coercion story now!

And what do we learn from it? Well, what I learned is that if we Christians want to have any hope of having an influence in the public square, then we will have to marry well, and we will have to train our children like Amy does. We should not be thinking of marriage as a way to have feelings and to gain happiness and fulfillment. Marriage should be about service to God. And one of the ways we serve is by producing children who will have an influence. I think that parents in the West tend to have the idea that the world is a safe place, and that we should try to please our children and make them like us – so that everyone will be happy. But there is one person who will not be happy if we focus on ourselves instead of serving God. Do you know who that might be?

One thing I would say in criticism of Amy is that she seems to only care about grades – which are assigned by teachers who are not necessarily going to have the same goals as a Christian parent. Teachers have their own agenda, and will happily give a child an F for espousing a belief in abstinence, or for talking about the Big Bang or protein sequence specificity, or for mentioning Climategate and dissent from man-made catastrophic global warming. If the class is math or computer science, then the children should be required to be the best. If the class is on hating America, then maybe the child should be going to a different school or being homeschooled. (Assuming that the Democrats have not banned all private schooling and homeschooling, which their masters in the teacher unions would dearly love to do).

My advice for men is this: Have a plan for marriage and parenting. Make decisions your whole life to implement that plan. Choose a wife based on the criteria of the job of marriage. And raise your children to have an influence for Christ.

If you cannot find a wife who actually puts serving God over her own feelings and desires, remain chaste and do not marry. There is no point in getting married unless marriage and parenting can serve God. The point of marriage is not to have a big wedding. The point of marriage is not to make women happy and fulfilled. The point of marriage is not for the woman to neglect her children while focusing on her career. The point of marriage is not to blindly hand children off to the schools to be indoctrinated as they obtain non-STEM degrees.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

On wargames, history and heroes: “this story shall the good man teach his son”

Memoir '44: Pegasus Bridge setup

Memoir ’44: Pegasus Bridge setup

Reposting this old post because Dina and I spent Friday night playing games again! And this is one of my favorite posts. Last night was Portal 2 and Orcs Must Die! 2.

Last night, I played through the Pegasus Bridge scenario from the Memoir ’44 wargame with Dina a few times. We actually played the online version of the game, using Steam. She was very gracious to play a wargame with me, which I don’t think is necessarily the first thing on most women’s lists of things to do on a Thursday night! I appreciated her agreeing to learn how to play and then playing with me several times. I think that Christians need to plan and execute more “together” activities like that – activities that involve interaction, co-operation, communication and engagement. We try to avoid doing things where we are both spectators. Playing wargames is not the only thing we do – we also do Bible study and cooking lessons (for me), for example.

Anyway, the point of this post is to express the deeper meaning behind playing wargames. I think that it is important to recognize and celebrate those who have demonstrated good character, whether it be now, or in the past. I think that it is important for us to search out the best role models ourselves, so that they will influence the way we act in our own lives. The second world war was a clear example of good versus evil. Anyone on the Allied side who demonstrated bravery and courage should be celebrated for safeguarding the security, liberty and prosperity that we enjoy today. In the case of Pegasus bridge, the hero is Major John Howard of the British paratroops.

Here is a quick re-cap of his exploits that day from the New York Times:

Maj. John Howard, the commander of glider-borne British infantrymen who seized the strategically vital Pegasus Bridge in the first battle of the D-Day invasion of Normandy, died Wednesday in a hospital in Surrey, England. He was 86 and had lived in Burford, near Oxford.

Under cover of night on June 6, 1944, six gliders carrying 181 officers and men of the Second Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry landed on the eastern flank of a 60-mile invasion front on the northern coast of France. The regiment had a heritage going back to the battles of Bunker Hill and New Orleans, to Waterloo and to World War I. Now its soldiers were in the vanguard of the invasion of Hitler’s Europe.

Major Howard’s D Company was ordered to seize two bridges, one over the Caen Canal and the other spanning the parallel Orne River. If the Germans held on to those bridges, panzer units could move across them in a counterattack isolating 10,000 British paratroopers jumping behind the British invasion beach known as Sword, where infantry forces would arrive at daybreak. And Major Howard’s men sought to strike swiftly to prevent the Germans from blowing up the bridges if they were overwhelmed; the British needed those bridges to resupply their airborne units.

British Halifax bombers towed the gliders over the English Channel, then cut them loose.

Major Howard’s lead glider landed at 12:16 A.M., only 50 yards from the Caen Canal bridge, but the glider’s nose collapsed on impact, knocking everybody aboard unconscious for a few seconds. The soldiers quickly emerged, and over the next five minutes the men directly under Major Howard killed the surprised German defenders.

The nearby Orne River bridge was captured by other troops in Major Howard’s unit, and soon the words ”Ham and Jam,” signifying mission accomplished, were radioed to the airborne.

Two British soldiers were killed and 14 wounded in the operation.

Over the next 12 hours, British paratroopers and commandos reinforced Major Howard’s men, and British forces were able to move toward the city of Caen, their flank having been protected by the capture of the bridges.

On July 16, Major Howard received the Distinguished Service Order, Britain’s second-highest award for valor. On the 10th anniversary of D-Day, he received the Croix de Guerre Avec Palme from the French Government, which had renamed the Caen Canal span Pegasus Bridge, for the flying horse symbolizing the British airborne. The road crossing the bridge was later renamed Esplanade Major John Howard.

Why is this important? Well, it’s important to think on the things that are excellent. There are so many things in the culture that are not excellent that we are confronted with every day. We have to make it our business to do things together where goodness is celebrated. Especially when manly virtues like courage are celebrated. We don’t do that much anymore. And I think there’s a connection between wargames and Christian apologetics that we need to deliberately encourage.

Here’s an excellent passage from Shakespeare’s “Henry V” that makes the point:

This day is called the feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say, ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian:’
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say, ‘These wounds I had on Crispin’s day.’
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words,
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remembered.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be rememberèd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England, now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day. (4.3.43)

This is from the famous speech in which King Henry charges his men to fight well before the famous Battle of Agincourt.

You can read more about the history of the British Airborne division and Pegasus bridge. The famous historian of the second world war Stephen E. Ambrose also wrote a history of the Pegasus bridge battle, called “Pegasus Bridge: June 6, 1944“. You won’t find many military historians better than Stephen E. Ambrose!

You might be surprised how many men are interested in military history and wargames, precisely because men instinctively look up to men like John Howard who embody qualities like bravery and courage. We have a dearth of moral character in this society. And we don’t do much to teach young men about manly virtues, even in the church. I think that it is important for us to think of creative ways for us to present good character to our young men. Young women should also learn about good character, because they must separate out the good men from the bad when they are courting.

Thanks to Dina for helping me to edit this post!

Filed under: Mentoring, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Pastor Matt is picking the best books of the year…

Here’s one from a recent blog post that I just bought for my good friend Dina, and she is really liking it.

Excerpt:

Dr. Qureshi’s book Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity (Zondervan 2014) is a compelling and necessary read for every committed Christian.  Nabeel, a medical doctor with masters degrees in religion and apologetics, has penned an apologetic, spiritual autobiography that is as much an intellectual challenge as an emotional roller coaster, which is a rare feat.

Querishi was raised in a loving, muslim family with a father that served faithfully in the U.S. Navy.  His family sacrificed to send him to fine universities and challenged him to think critically.  He befriended a committed Christian who had a series of graceful evangelistic discussions over many years.  His friend eventually introduced him to scholars Mike Licona and Gary Habermas who helped plant intellectual seeds that would eventually sprout into a faith that is shaking pillars around the world.

Look at this endorsement:

My story, however, is nothing compared to the one presented in “Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus.” Dr. Qureshi’s life is so well told that I found myself sneaking pages at every opportunity whether it be standing in line at the grocery store or waiting on that mysterious person who inexplicably spends ten minutes pounding buttons at the ATM (are they trying to take out a second mortgage on their house?).  I have even bought copies to give away to friends, which is something I have only done with Grek Koukl’s Tactics, Lee Strobel’s Case for a Creator and Det. J. Warner Wallace’s Cold-Case Christianity.

Dr. Qureshi, who now works for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, has written the book that is easily the best of the year so far. It is also a fine example of the power of combining story (a potent tool with postmoderns) with strong arguments.  I highly recommend it.  Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy ASAP.

By the way, the woman I am currently mentoring in apologetics loves Nabeel’s book and she even went to see him lecture. I was able to find her a DVD of Nabeel lecturing at Georgia Tech – you can get it here. I was also able to find the same lecture at Georgia Tech, apparently, on YouTube.

I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews of Nabeel’s book from people who have read it. It’s especially good for people who like biographies.

Filed under: Mentoring, , ,

A friend of mine is learning apologetics, here’s what she is using to learn

The woman I am mentoring the most energetically in apologetics sent me this list of resources below. I was so impressed by how disciplined she is that I wanted to post it.

This is what she does every day:

  • William Lane Craig’s Defenders podcasts (1 or 2 a day)
  • Bible in a year (a few chapters as per the schedule)
  • Read/listen through 6 chapters of the Bible, 20 times
  • Is God Just a Human Invention? by Morrow and McDowell (a few chapters per day)
  • True U DVDs (all 3 volumes) by Focus on the Family (one episode per day)
  • Knowing God by J. I. Packer (one chapter per day)
  • Knowledge of the Holy by A. W. Tozer (one chapter per day)
  • Signature in the Cell by Stephen C. Meyer (one chapter per day)

In addition to that, she is on chapter 3 of Scott Klusendorf’s “The Case for Life”. We are also working our way through “Money, Greed and God” by Jay W. Richards, we are on chapter 4 there.

She has books, podcasts, and DVD lectures in there. I also got her some debates on DVD to see what the other side can say. I got her the Lennox-Dawkins debate from the Oxford Museum of Natural History and the Craig-Hitchens debate at Biola University.

When we started out, I was trying to go over the chapters with her to get her started, but now she is busy learning these things on her own. I didn’t even know about most of this stuff that is on her list.

So here are some points I want to make about this.

  1. I think it’s good for Christians to study hard subjects and get good jobs so they have money to spend on books, lectures and DVDs. Not only can you loan out books and show DVDs to groups, but you when you get the resources for yourself, you can learn from them and share what you learn with anyone who is interested. They’ll be more interested in hearing it from you than reading a whole book anyway.
  2. I also think it’s good for Christians to be like this woman. She is interested in apologetics because she had a co-worker who asked her a lot of questions. She decided to answer his questions rather than to attack him personally for his unbelief, or punt to faith not needing reasons or evidence. So she started to look for answers on her own, and then I came along to guide her search, provide materials and practice with her.
  3. She is shy and not used to speaking up or disagreeing with others. So we are spending time discussing these materials and also debating issues. When we discuss a chapter, I highlight the three parts that are the most useful and relevant for debates, and try to show her the structure of the argument. She learns better when we discuss the material and when we practice debating it. I ask her – what would you say if I said this to you? And she answers. Role-play is good for learning apologetics.

So those are my three points.

I would just urge you all to be on the lookout for people who are smart and want to learn more about how to give an answer to anyone who asks them for a reason for their hope. If you are looking for a mentor, then pray that God will send you a mentor. If you want to be a mentor, pray that God will send you someone to mentor.

Filed under: Mentoring, ,

An apologetics reading plan for beginners

Would you like to have as much fun defending your faith as the Wintery Knight does?

Here is a post from Apologetics 315 that lists 10 basic apologetics books for brand new Christian apologists – and they are in a sensible order, too.

Here are my favorite 4:

2. The Case for a Creator by Lee Strobel

This book is just as readable as The Case for Christ, but this one delves into the evidence for the Creator. Another thing that makes this good reading for the beginner is this: whatever areas you find particularly interesting can be pursued further by reading the sources interviewed in the book.

6. Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions by Greg Koukl

Information without application results in stagnation when it comes to apologetics. That’s why it’s time for a good dose of Tactics, which will train you not only to use apologetic content in everyday life, but it will also train you to be a better, more critical thinker. This is another “must read” book, and mastering its contents early in your apologetic studies will put feet to your faith.

7. The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus by Mike Licona & Gary Habermas

The resurrection of Jesus is central to Christianity. This book equips you to understand and defend the resurrection from an historical perspective. Not only does the book have useful diagrams, summaries, and an accessible style, but it also comes with a CD-ROM with interactive software for teaching you the material. This is an essential book for the apologist.

8. Is God Just a Human Invention? And Seventeen Other Questions Raised by the New Atheists by Sean McDowell and Jonathan Morrow

Now it’s time to look at some of the most common objections that have come against Christianity since the rise of the new atheism. There’s no better book at dealing with these in a concise yet dense way, while providing additional reading suggestions and introducing some of the key apologists that deal with these questions. If you really want to master this material, consider taking part in the Read Along project for this book.

I’ve read 8 of them, and I have given 6 of them to my Dad (he’s just an ordinary Dad) and he really liked all 6. These are meant for all ages.

I have been giving away books like this to friends, and even to potential Mrs. Wintery Knights, for many years. And what I’ve found in that time is that Christians have a very different experience in their relationships with God when they are prepared to defend his existence and character in public. Instead of treating Christianity as a private set of beliefs which are mainly for feeling happy and getting along with family at holidays, they instead treat Christianity as true, and they have very interesting discussions with their friends about many topics related to Christianity. Instead of being frightened to speak up, they become bold and confident – that’s what happens when Christians study and prepare.

Jesus doesn’t want his followers to feel intimidated by non-Christians and non-Christian culture. He doesn’t want us hiding what we believe. When we take the time to read books like this, it becomes possible for us to get into conversations that turn our relationships with God through Christ into a public activity. Instead of just taking, taking, taking from God, now we are in a position to give back. If you ask any experienced apologist, they will tell you what it feels like to work through questions with a non-Christian. It is a way of feeling closer to God, and a way of being faithful in our two-way friendship with him. You do not want to miss out on that experience – it is an important part of being a Christian.

Click here for the full list and Brian’s mini-reviews.

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