Friday, July 28, 2017

Central America Does Not Need Evangelical Jesus!

For a couple of years now we've been reminded, again and again, about the hard work, sacrifice and need for money by one of Evangelical Quiverfull's royal families - Jill Duggar Dillard and her husband Derick and their mission for Christ to the poor nation of El Salvador in Central America.

The couple continually ask fans for their television show 'Counting On' to donate money towards their mission trip. They have to raise funding for their mission trip all the time because they have applied to different mission-sponsoring and certifying organizations and have been rejected. Most of the organizations have certain requirements to join, many times these requirements are minimal in nature. Usually something like a small number of classes in Bible studies at a university and other lower-level educational requirements. Nothing too tasking or onerous, but the Dillards have failed to meet the rules, or even make a cursory attempt to comply. They've demonstrated that they think they should be exempt from regulations because of who they are and their zeal for the Lord.

Here's the thing, looking through the postings of what the Dillards are doing in El Salvador it's not very clear exactly what they are doing. It looks much more like vacation-tourism-prayer situation.

Moving to a rural 3rd world area of Costa Rica five weeks ago has given me a completely different view of the Dillard's 'mission' in Central America. Yes, there are critical needs here in Central America, particularly I witnessed this in the country next to El Salvador - Nicaragua, but I'm also seeing oodles of tourism-missions going on in the area that do nothing to address any of the legitimate needs of the populace.

The closest to meeting needs I've experienced here was a group of teens purportedly here to built sidewalks around the schools. They seemed to spend minimal time mixing the cement and actually installing the needed walkways, and more time hanging around in big giggly groups at the luxurious American- style local coffee shop. Yes, I understand being without wifi might make that coffee shop something you really really want to visit since they have the only decent wifi in the area.

But even as many of the mission trips to Central America seem to be more tourist-oriented there's an even larger reason why people like the Dillards and church groups really do not need to be here using the local resources without providing a real benefit. Central America is one of the most religious places I've seen. I'm betting the pervasive religion in the culture of Central America rivals even the biggest towns in the US Bible Belt. It is in every single sphere of life here.

It's not uncommon to see random pictures of Jesus in places you would not expect, like the side of a bus, at a bus stop, in a cafe, and, of course, in everyone's homes. Jesus is EVERYWHERE!

Most of this area is heavily Catholic. Now I know the Duggars and pals think that Catholics are not real Christians and that they are going to hell, but having attended the local Catholic church here for a number of Sundays now I can only conclude that there's not a lot of difference in core beliefs based upon the sermons I've heard here. Plus, Evangelicalism has made vast inroads here. Most people attend church here, it is serious, taken more seriously than many places I've lived.

Faith is taken so serious here that there are national holidays based upon religion. Next Wednesday the nation takes a holiday named 'Virgen de Los Angeles' and if you scan through a list of Costa Rican holidays you will see many are based around religion. On August 2 locals will walk in pilgrimage to the basilica in Los Angeles to honor the La Negrita, the end of the trip taken on their knees.

So what are Derick and Jill supposedly saving people from here? Higher percentage of Christians here and a much higher percentage of weekly church attendance. Oh, I forgot, evil Catholics.

Evangelical missionaries aren't needed here, or at least the ones that don't do anything to meet the needs of the people. Missions shouldn't be endless vacations. If you want to come here and make a difference then come to do something like teaching English, or to help dig and set up a community well, to help out with medical treatment in communities several hours from medical help.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Godly Granite or Making This Up As You Go Along?

I've had a hard time keeping my mouth shut lately in regards to the total and complete hypocrisy of Quiverful/Evangelical female cultural enforcer Lori Alexander of The Transformed Wife.

Lori has recently been martyrbating over the fact that many of us resist her theology, mistakenly claiming that anyone not lining up with her claims hates her.

I don't know about everyone else that opposes her, but I don't hate her. I feel sorry for her mostly, occasionally amused by her words and claims, but my primary emotion towards her is the deepest of pities. An emotion you might feel towards someone unable to see, or walk, or suffering needlessly.

She's missed so much. In her book 'The Power of the Transformed Wife' she exhibits she's never experienced some of the best things about faith, grace, mercy, lovingkindness. She's looking through a glass darkly, but it's gone on so long that she's blinded to anything but judgment and fear. She's missed out on a satisfying marriage, happy fulfilled motherhood and being loved deeply by others. She flails around, from legalistic idea to idea, changing her theology to suit herself and her life. The clearest example of this is her recent kitchen remodel.

I just finished a kitchen remodel myself so in the past three or four months I've been immersed in researching the complexities of remodeling the kitchen. My kitchen is small, I've never been into material things, but I wanted to upgrade it and remodel because we're renting it out while we're living in Costa Rica. I haven't touched it as far as upgrading in over ten years, from the time when my asthma went insane.

Lori had this to say back in May 2011 about kitchen remodels and granite countertops, which I found surprising considering how many times Lori photographs her own kitchen for blog posts:

Ken always thought I wanted granite counter tops in my kitchen with gorgeous stainless steel appliances. I don't. I never have but after watching that show, I realized if I did get those counter tops and appliances, they wouldn't make me any happier. Stuff never makes anyone happier. Being content with what we have makes us happy. Working hard and having a purpose greater than ourselves makes us happy. Having meaningful relationships in our life make us happy. Knowing who I am in Christ and all the riches I have in Him, being thankful for all that I have; this is what makes me happy. What makes you happy?
 Recently, during my own kitchen remodel, Lori also remodeled her kitchen. Good for her, I'm happy for her. But, Lori did a serious flipflop and has been promoting false ideas about that remodel by claiming that granite countertops and sinks are somehow 'Godly' because granite is a natural stone.

After endless research this just makes me laugh! Granite countertops are natural stone, but they undergo a seriously unnatural transformation into those countertops. The granite sinks are not entirely natural stone, but an amalgam of granite pieces and unnatural plastics.

Here's Lori's claims from her new blog:

 Our old sink was completely rusted out so it leaked and our stove top didn’t work well, plus our counter-tops (Corian) had cracks in it so we changed to granite, an amazing sink (Blanco which is 80% granite), and a new stainless steel stove-top. We then had our cabinets painted an off-white (replacing them is way too expensive!) and had a great tile guy create our back-splash with natural stone and glass tiles. We will paint the walls a warm beige in the fall (yes, the sunflowers will go). One thing I do notice is that products made by God (wood floors, granite counter-tops and sinks, and stone tiles) are far more beautiful and stronger than anything man can make!
 Granite is beautiful, that is for sure, even if I'm hearing from a few interior designers I know that it's becoming less desirable and dated in some places. It's not the most durable, it can be burned, scored or break.

This is one of those things that makes me laugh because I think it's perfectly fine to have personal preferences. What's not fine is to wrap it in claims that it is 'God's Will', like Lori does. As women spent more time in the kitchen that men in most relationship (there are exception, like my father who did all the cooking) it just makes sense to decorate or set it up in a way pleasing to the person that uses the actual room the most.

Lori just needs to come out and admit she wanted a new kitchen. There's nothing wrong with wanting nice things and to have a kitchen you want to spend time in. Just admit it.

I did not go with granite. Our house is going as a rental. If it was me remodeling the kitchen for my happiness I would have gone with a recycled glass and seashell countertop, so beautiful! But I'm afraid to leave that countertop for a renter because, like granite, it has its fragility and quirks of use. I went with a higher grade laminate with a copper sink and faucet, copper backsplash and copper fittings with white painted walls and appliances.

If we come back to the States to live in that house again I'll remove the laminate for the recycled glass and seashell and mount all the copper panels on the walls. I like nice things too, I just don't think my opinions are also God's opinions.

The sink:

And the kitchen when it was near completion:

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Sin of Yoga Pants?

This morning as I was preparing upcoming posts for No Longer Quivering I ended up using a quote from always unpleasant and constantly blaming in a shameful way Lori Alexander.

If you don't know who Lori is consider yourself lucky. Lori was once affiliated with Ladies Against Feminism, although it's been a while since I've seen her finger prints on anything at their site. She used to have a blog called 'Always Learning' that truthfully should have been labeled 'Always Closed Minded and Judgmental'. Now she's opened a new blog to promote a rather sad tome she's written on how to fix your bad marriage by being the most submissive you can be. It's called 'The Transformed Wife' and is a thinly veiled rewrite of another awful marriage book - Created To Be A Help Meet by Debi Pearl.

I've read Lori's new book in preparation for doing a detailed book review for NLQ and mostly it's making me sad. I don't want to feel sorry for Lori, but I cannot help but reflect how sad and awful most of her life has been merely because she's rather too immature to be married to anyone and that husband of hers isn't exactly well-suited for any sort of marriage with healthy emotional barriers or happiness.

Such a horrible waste of life and many years!

But that's not what gave me pause today. That would be a rant she wrote trying to claim that women wearing yoga pants is about the same as aborting babies or other choices that supposedly mean women are selfish sin machines determined to have their own way.

While I agree that you're likely better off dressing for your age, your position, your body type and your activities of the day I feel even more strongly that the only person that should have any say in what you wear on your body is... drum roll please... yourself.

While I was quoting Lori I was laughing because today I'm wearing yoga pants. A rather old pair that is not as tight as they once were. It's turned cold here in the lovely Virginia Piedmont so I've paired my old blue leggings with a knee-length elegant mushroom-colored sweater with a cowl neck and a pair of riding boots. Only about two inches of legging are seen between the bottom of the sweater and the top of the boots. My rear end is covered, no one can see any possible camel toe status of my crotch and my basic curvy shape is disguised by the loose fit of the tunic sweater. Put me on a horse, slap a sword in my hand and a helmet on my head and I might look more like a mounted warrior in the Middle Ages. The only skin showing is my hands and my face.

So how is this not modest? No cleavage, no clinging fabric stretched over secondary sexual characteristics can be seen. It's not some outlandish color that catches the eyes. I dare to say I am dressed rather modestly today. Many days I wear a combination of comfortable tunic type tops and yoga pants and show very little.

While I was out running errands this morning I noticed the outfits of the ladies around me, some clearly fundamentalist mothers suffering the cold in their a-line type skirts and long sleeved tees and sweaters - the line and shapes of their bodies much more on display than my own. Women in looser fitting tees, jeans and pants, some with athletic jackets zipped over their clothing. Ladies in button ups, sweaters layered over and loose pants or skirts. Some in tight jeans and tops. In other words a variety of clothing in a array of fits on a wide range of body types.

Do you know which ones are proper and appropriate for being in public? ALL of them. What you wear is no else business EVER.

This is one of the many quibbling things that those in American Evangelical churches distract themselves with instead of the real issues of the world, of the things we are called to do as followers of Christ. Why aren't those so critical, controlling and judgment using that same energy to do something to really advance the kingdom, like help feed the poor, reach out to a struggling neighbor or just randomly love on a stranger? Instead they reduce faith down to rules on clothing and putting others down.

The church has to change if it's going to last much longer. The deeper truths of faith aren't this mean, petty and distracting.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Why Safe Spaces Aren't Very Safe

Last night as I did a quick look-see at the comments on No Longer Quivering before I turned in for the night I read several comments by Let Them Marry Vaughn Ohlman referencing a 'Safe Space'.

'Safe Space' – one of the most overused, fluidly defined, buzz words that keeps popping up in survivor and recovery groups as well as in conservative circles, some churches and online.

It kept me awake, thinking about what a 'Safe Space' is and if it truly exists anywhere. Is it important?
This is one of those subjects that I've discussed endlessly with my friend Cindy Kunsman. She's been writing a thoughtfully concise series of articles for her blog about trauma and how to heal from it. We've been reposting those articles at No Longer Quivering in the hopes that people struggling to recover will be helped.

Here's the conclusion I've come to after our long conversations and my own attempts to create safe spaces in my own life. There are not any really true 'Safe Spaces' in life. Life is messy, it's unpredictable. You cannot bubble wrap your entire life, your emotions, or the most painful bits of your past trauma. I tried to create a physical safe space yesterday afternoon for my asthma needs and failed abysmally. Most of the attempts I've seen on the behalf of others to somehow create those spaces of safety seem to be about as successful.

In survivor groups many people seeking that place of safety and refuge tend to just want that illusion of control. It is more about controlling the group dynamic, controlling their own pain and managing their exposure to triggers than any amount of safety. The more they try to control the safety of the group the less safe the environment actually becomes.

Sometimes it degenerates into bullying those that do not necessarily line up with the increasingly smaller focus of the group. People that were integral parts of the original group find themselves marginalized and demonized by those still in the group attempting to control the boundaries. People get hurt and retraumatized as they are bullied out of the group.

It becomes a way to try to lessen the triggers in groups and in lives, but as the safety boundaries keep being redraw the triggers themselves shift significantly until there's no safety at all.

Many times in these groups what happens is it starts out well, but eventually what happens is that they reassemble the same sort power structure as the cult they left. They call it something else but do all the same things as their former group. Which makes it all about as safe as a gorilla careening around on greased roller skates while carrying a loaded shotgun. Others will be hurt yet again as the group isolates and becomes even more insular with members of any given group turning on others they perceive as 'unsafe'.

Not sure if the safe spaces behavior in survivor groups is part of the psychology of reenacting trauma that happens before you get help to deal with the initial trauma, but it might be part of that loop in getting stuck in a place of victim hood.

Mr. Ohlman seems to think that the notion of a safe space is some silly liberal malarkey made up by coddled college students who were raised on participation trophies, This completely ignores the fact that the biggest users of the 'safe space' trope is Fundamentalist and Evangelical Christianity. You see it most strongly in those groups that believe you must control every aspect of your children's lives from every thing they think is somehow 'evil'. The children end up like veal raised in that tiny box, unable to function in a real world because of the extreme control and protection asserted on them their entire lives. These are kids that find routine things the most difficult and social interactions with anyone not in their family difficult to execute. They cannot parse body language or understand things like personal boundaries. Families that raise their offspring this way saddle them with a nearly insurmountable handicap.

Fundamentalist churches also love to use the idea of safe spaces to kick out people not lining up with their beliefs. Just like in survivor groups they use the notion to get rid of people, marginalize them, tell lies about the odd man out to destroy them.

This whole 'safe space' thing plays out very badly in the many church splits that happen in the more fundamentalist churches. They cannot get along or agree, many times over some very simple doctrinal issue and force a confrontation followed by a split. A ecclesiastical version of a nasty divorce complete with forcing people to chose sides and the telling of highly-embroidered negative tales about the other side. If I had a nickel for every time I've seen this play out just in my local area I'd have enough to buy a large pile of Nashville hot chicken I love so much.

Whenever I think of churches claiming safe spaces I am reminded of this song by Jason Upton from his cd "Beautiful People". The song is called 'Lullaby For a Petrified Sacred Society' - the lyrics reveal what the members think in these safe places that are so unsafe:

Shut up the windowsLock all the doors Make sure nobody gets in Learn to protect what is rightfully yours Or someone will take it, my friend We’ll all sleep well tonight With no worry about tomorrow Everything’s all right Safe in our panic room We’re building a wall Higher and higher Come, join the gospel crusade Don’t you know God loves Good little helpers Can’t wait to show Him what we’ve made There’re Doctors and Lawyers And Presidents here We’ve all become best of friends Finally people are lending an ear and Truth has become relevant Our prophets are nicer And kinder and sweeter We’ve partnered in their great reward They bless us with peace In exchange for a token What more could we ever ask for?
There's not much safety in forced 'safe spaces' because you really cannot control other people.
Life might be messy and unsafe, but learning to deal with adversity or others different than you are critical life skills that make staying in a 'safe space' a very bad idea. Some of the most important life lessons we all must experience only come from adversity.

The only really 'Safe Space' there truly is comes from inside ourselves. Friends are sometimes 'unsafe' and family can be fairly uncomfortable at times, but within yourself you have the potential for a space that allows you to experience your own emotions in a safe way.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Deadly Submission - Why Guys Like Biblical Gender Roles Matter & the Damage They Cause

We've followed Biblical Gender Roles for about six months now. Gasping in shock at some newer more outrageous statement of his, laughed at some of the things coming out of mouth like that disastrous Alan Combs interview he did. But one thing we have not done here at NLQ is realize how his contemptuous words against women in marriage could have serious influence on unhappy husbands and possibly lead to tragic circumstances, possibly even murder.

There's a developing case happening right now in Indianapolis right now that seems to be almost a direct result of the type of dangerous marriage and sex advice pushed by BGR and others on the fringes of the Evangelical Quiverfull movement. It's not as obvious a leap of logic and linking as Michael Pearl's influence on the parents of Hana Grace Williams and Zariah Shatz, oh no, it's more subtle. But it is a creeping thought process that could possibly lead to crimes such as the murder of pastor's wife Amanda Blackburn. 

Someone gained entry to the Blackburn home and shot 12 weeks pregnant Amanda in the face at extremely close range. At this point the police are looking for a stranger that broke into the home, even if there are no signs of forced entry, and executed the young mother. Tragic story, but one that plays out every single day somewhere in America. Wrong place, wrong time, and some innocent ends up dead.

What links this to the world view of Biblical Gender Roles and other male cultural enforcers who insist upon sex on demand and the complete groveling submission of their women are the whispers emerging from those that knew Amanda and her husband Davey. Davey Blackburn's own words, language patterns of deception and rumors leads some to think he was involved in the murder of his wife. Here's some of the suspicious things from his statements.
 I take this language from Blackburn, himself, who mentioned starting the work with "$100,000 of start up cash" and his wife's complaint that he was always at "work" beginning right after the honeymoon, which, from her perspective, led to the bad marriage.  From his perspective, it was not "work" that made the marriage bad, but pregnancy and his wife's inability or unwillingness to meet his sexual needs.  This, too, was her fault because he "articulated" his need, as he condemned other men for blaming their wives when they had not, in fact, "articulated" the need, leaving the wife to "guess" what was wrong.
Reading through the blogs and news stories there are aspects of the murder of Amanda Blackburn that seem too familiar, that have a great deal in common with both sets of Peterson murders, both the murder of Lacey Peterson and the murders of multiple wives of Drew Peterson. Both of these men claimed to have no knowledge of their wives whereabouts only to be found out later to be liars, to be the ones that murdered their spouses. Both men were making the major media rounds with repeated denials, just like Davey Blackburn is doing right now.

So neither of the Peterson killers were religious, like Davey Blackburn is. But if you are constantly absorbing messages such as 'Don't respect women,' 'Wives submit always in all things,' and 'You owe me sex' constantly churned out on websites like BGR (his recent posting 'How Doing LESS For Your Wife Can Make Your Marriage Better) and other good 'patriarchs' online like Deep Strength (posting "Why I Don't Respect Women") is it really that far a jump to murdering your wife because you don't feel like you are getting the sex and respect you demand in your marriage?

I don't know that Davey Blackburn murdered his wife Amanda, or if he's ever stumbled across the writings of BGR, but it would not surprise me if it comes out that both of those are exposed as the truth eventually. I do know that when men are constantly encouraged to view women as inhuman objects instead of fully developed human beings it's much easier to kill them.  Currently Blackburn is not a suspect due to footage of a strange man in a hoodie caught on security footage of the house. We will be watching this investigation, just like we've been watching BGR as he shouts out his advice to rape your wive and compel her submission by taking things away from her It's abuse, pure and simple.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Why Michelle Duggar Is Wrong About Jim Bob Duggar's Parenting Skills

Yesterday being Father's Day it wasn't too surprising to see that Michelle Duggar had written and posted something she'd written on the subject of fatherhood. She gave five reasons she thought Jim Bob was a virtuous paragon of fatherhood.

While expected it was a thinly-veiled attempt to white wash Jim Bob's role in the recent family scandal. An attempt to pretend things are back to normal while sweeping the fact that Josh Duggar molested his sisters and the babysitter not just under the rug but through the floorboards and under the basement. A cynical grab to continue their TLC show.

Let's examine Michelle's posted five reasons:

 ...and desiring to become the best dad that he can be!
 When he lacks wisdom in what to do, he goes to the best Father for advice, our Heavenly Father.

Keep in mind that Jim Bob Duggar's idea of 'wisdom' and 'teaching' are those awful Bill Gothard produced ATI Wisdom Booklets. The Duggar household is one in which so many things that a person might learn from are heavily restricted or banned. Things such as magazines, books (even classic literature taught in many schools), internet, movies and television. That's not even considering allowing the children to go out and be around others not in their cult. All 'learning' takes place under the command of King Daddy.
Being raised in such a restrictive environment does do any of those kids intellect much good.

 ...and he makes preparation for their future.
 1 Timothy 5:8
 But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
 He has worked many jobs, some simultaneously, just to make ends meet!

This might have been true back in the days before Jim Bob and family weren't featured on reality television. When they first appeared on television the entire family was crammed into a three bedroom rental home. Jim Bob had his used car lot, tow truck and rental properties at the time as well as his real estate license. But now... not so much. Reality television filming doesn't really count as 'working hard' as he once did.

3. HE LOVES HIS CHILDREN BY RESTRAINING THEIR SINFUL BEHAVIOR teaching them that true freedom is doing what is right before God regardless of what others, or even their own flesh may want to do!
He has taught his children that freedom is not the right to do what you want but the power to do what you ought.
He does not ignore offenses, nor does he eliminate the penalty or consequence for their offenses.

This is a pretty blatant lie to put out there considering we've all seen that Jim Bob hid the criminal behavior of his eldest son Josh just long enough to allow the statute of limitations to run out. He did eliminate both the legal penalty and consequences for Josh.

4. HE LOVES HIS CHILDREN BY BEING THEIR SPIRITUAL SERVANT/LEADER he leads them by his example, knowing that his personal relationship with God is his greatest priority in life.
He believes that each of his children are a gift, given to him, from God, and he treats them with respect.
As they walk through good and bad days they know that their Dad finds great joy in them and it is an honor for him to help and encourage them.

So treating his children with respect is what caused Jim Bob to sacrifice his daughters, the victims of his son Josh Duggar, during his televised interview with Fox New's Megyn Kelly? He and his wife are the ones that named two of the victims to the press and then had both young women go before the press and minimize what had happened to them. How is this respectful?

 Even after a long days work, he plays with his kids!
 He laughs and cuts up with them. He loves spending time with his kids riding bikes, playing broom ball, camping, traveling, or doing something that is of interest to each of them, individually.
 When some of our daughters wanted to obtain medical skills, Dad encouraged them to follow their dream. They enrolled in a first responders course, obtained the certification and have served on our local volunteer fire department and have gone on to gain midwifery and doula training.

While Jim Bob may play with his children he has never allowed any of them to receive any legitimate schooling in the subjects listed above. Locally obtained training with or without certification that was attended by a few of his children as a group. There's no one on one training, or going out for legitimate education alone. His control of the leash is still tight, while he pretends they have complete freedom in education.
This is in no way an exhaustive list of all the things that are disingenuous Michelle Duggar said in her blog posting. What did you think about what she said?

Monday, April 27, 2015

A True Vacation

As many of you know my husband and I recently took a vacation to the central American country of Costa Rica, with an eye for possibly retiring there next year. It was a wonderful vacation and I very quickly fell deeply in love with the place.

But the most surprising thing of all was that there were no Evangelicals that I could find. No one approached me once about the Good News, no one made the show of publicly praying, no one tried to frighten or shame the local populace into accepting Jesus. There were only Catholic churches scattered hither and yon. In fact, the closest I saw to the whole "Let's Save The WORLD!" thing that Evangelical Christians love to do and do so insistently in the USA was that as I was driving through the town of San Ramon I spied two Mormon missionaries walking down the main drag.

Which makes me wonder why that is? I did see a lot of America exported to Costa Rica, between the huge Wal Mart near the airport in San Jose and the many American fast food places, McDonalds, Taco Bell, Burger King, KFC and Popeyes, scattered through various towns. If the crappiest things about America have been exported then why on earth are the Evangelicals missing?