Abigail Van Buren, (Dear Abby), known for her often wise counsel, died recently. Her real name was Pauline Phillips (1918-2013) which was something I never knew. I still read “Dear Abby,” although my wife hates it. I like reading it because I am a “life long-learner” and that comes from many sources, mostly books and training. Over the years, she gave many answers that were just wrong or based on limited expertise.
I remember one great answer that stuck with me for years. It was written by an older person, maybe a mother, who had adult children living with her in her 3 bedroom house. The writer was frustrated because her children, although adults, were immature, irresponsible, or just lazy. Sound familiar? It is a common phenomenon in any community where there is substance abuse. The young or middle age adult who can’t seem to get out of the nest, are hampered because their lifestyle is too often about getting hammered. “Drinkin’ and druggin’ leads to lazy and sluggin’.” Anyway, I appreciated Abby when she said, “sell your place and rent a one bedroom apartment!”
Abby was often on the upside of wisdom when alcoholism was involved. She referred many to the 12-Step programs and other support groups. I liked her common sense approach to reoccurring problems. Another wise writer, King Solomon, wrote that there was “nothing new under the sun.” (Eccl. 1:9). Many of the problems of those who wrote to Abby were the same sad songs being sung in a different year.
I often took issue with Abby advice, and even wrote her a few times to offer her a little critique of her counsel. In what little research I did, I could not find that she was a Christian. In her writing and advice I saw little or no evidence of a faith-based perspective. She was a very intelligent person writing responses to frequently foolish fans. She suffered from a need to be politically correct, or a lack of understanding of certain issues. A reoccurring point of confusion and contention was about homosexuality. She, like most journalists, believe in the “once gay, always gay” perspective. People can, and do change their same-sex attractions. Exodus Ministries, a Christian ministry, has thousands of examples of people who left the lifestyle. I met personally met another person two weeks ago, who is no longer gay.
I still read Abby because I can always learn a little more wisdom. It also reminds me of the confusion that litters the landscape. Too often the person will write in, “He got out of prison a year ago and hasn’t worked. Do you think I should continue with our marriage plans?” Abby is a valuable addition to our newspapers and websites. Often it does offer wise counsel in a foolish land. Unfortunately, based on what little I read about her faith, she may not have taken the ultimate advice of other just as wise writers, like Matthew, Mark, Luke or John!