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?

Friday, February 27, 2015

Run, Rabbit, Run

Earlier this week I've had the opportunity to post in parts one of the most horrific pieces ever written by Debi Pearl of No Greater Joy Ministries and author of 'Created To Be A Help Meet' at NLQ. She has written about her early marriage to Michael Pearl and his 'obsession' (translation for normal folks 'hobby') of spending every winter Saturday hunting down those wascally wabbits.

It wasn't the fact that Michael likes to hunt or his spending of funds during a tight family economy that makes this piece stand out to me as awful, nor his typically arrogant behavior of bringing dead rabbits that had not been field dressed or cleaned home to Debi for her to clean while he socked in the tub. The scary part of this mess, scarier than the thought of having to dress out long dead stinking bunny corpses, is that Debi labels a man's hobbies as 'obsessions' with the double whammy of insisting you, the poor little woman, have to accept his hobbies and be cheerful about them.

What. The. Fudge!?

This is one of those rare times when I have to take Michael Pearl's side.
Hobbies, or what Debi calls 'obsessions', aren't necessarily bad. People working hard long hours need some sort of outlet, be it creative or not, as a way to deal with the pressure of their lives and their jobs. How better to accomplish relaxation than with something you have a passion for.

While it's probably inconsiderate for Mr. Pearl to take their one car every winter Saturday to go out and hunt, was it really so bad? He did bring the meat of the rabbits home and do something completely divorced from his work that satisfied some great need within him that did not involve hurting another person.

My husband has his 'obsessions' as I do have mine as well. He does the fantasy sports thing and rides his motorcycle while I quilt and paint in oils for mine. I would never consider asking Jim to ever give up either one. He has a long daily commute, works hard to support our family without complaint. Whatever he needs to do to relax from that is a-okay with me. It's not an obsession, it's a stress relief, a coping mechanism. We both know better than to try and take away a hobby from the other because life is so much sweeter when you have an outlet like that. It is a fact that all people need something of 'play' in their lives to stay mentally healthy.

The sad and silly thing about Debi's complaints, anger, attempts to manipulate him with sweetness, attempts to get Michael to give up his 'obsession' is that she completely misses what the 'answer' in all of this could have been for her. She could have picked up a hobby or interest to pursue whenever her husband decided he needed to stomp through the frozen woods hunting rabbits. Later she sort of comes to that conclusion in her article, talking about getting a set of materials at a garage sale on running a business and how that knowledge helped when setting up their No Greater Joy ministry. How studying and learning was her answer for dealing with the times she was left behind by Michael's 'obsessions'. But she doesn't come to that conclusion before warning her readers that they should not be involved in their own 'obsessions' because their husbands will be coming home in the middle of what they are doing and they'll be too distracted to be proper attentive wives. I guess she thinks that studying is easier to put aside when Michael arrives with his rotten rabbit carcasses needing skinning and dressing out.

As for her claims that men are the only ones prone to obsessions, what a sweeping generalization that is! And no, it's not linked to sex, people of all ages, sexes, walks of life can develop a passion for an interest outside of their realm of life. It's healthy, it's normal.

What isn't healthy or normal is denying yourself anything outside of the tightly controlled sphere of home and husband.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Duggar Fans Trolled?

We've written and posted too many times here and at NLQ about TLC's Duggar family, the stars of "19 Kids & Counting".  You can almost tell how well or not so well the show is doing in the ratings and when the premiere of the new season is by the flood of Duggar family related news/gossip that floods the internet. 'The Duggars stop for bagels!' or 'The Duggar Family says all drag queens need Jesus!' Ridiculous minutia everywhere to keep people talking about the show and the Duggars so all that sweet, sweet cash will keep coming on in like manna to TLC and the Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar compound. 
Last season there was some rating slippage and suddenly we're treated to Jill Duggar's engagement, marriage and pregnancy. This season Jessa Duggar is the bride-to-be/lil' ratings grabber.  More 'exclusive' articles have been churned out by journalists on everything from choosing Jill Duggar Dillard's wedding dress to Jessa Duggar's wedding registry and more. Enough Dugger-related info to choke a mule.
So when an article appeared online this weekend at a satire site saying that "19 Kids & Counting" had been cancelled because it had come out that Michelle Duggar had supposedly given birth as a teenager to a mixed race child many Duggar fans actually believed it, not bothering to stop and consider the only source for this information was a dubious site that doesn't understand how satire and parody was supposed to work.  There was a lot of angst on Duggar message boards and in some comment threads over this misunderstanding, commentary had to be erased at a couple of places due to some of the racist statements made by Duggar fans.
The Epoch Times, another site related to The National Report wrote a bit about the story being made up on a satire site and pointing out that Duggar fans had shared it thousands of times and thought it was real. This isn't the first time that The Epoch Times has had to explain that poorly thought out parody on The National Report is not true. TNR needs to rethink what they consider funny because they surely missed out on this one.
The site that pulled this very unfunny prank was The National Report - 20 Kids and Canceled - Michelle Duggar Gave Birth To Mixed-Race Child in 1986. The saddest thing about the article is this all too true statement about TLC's programming.
In 1991, TLC shifted its educationally oriented programming content to a more reality-based model, after the channel’s parent company declared bankruptcy.  The Discovery Channel purchased TLC, altering its lineup to reflect a more sensational tone.  Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, Toddlers & Tiaras, Extreme Cheapskates and America’s Worst Tattoos now dominate its broadcast content.
They missed a golden opportunity to actually make this all be truly funny, they could have posted an episode synopsis of "19 Kids" visiting this fake-child of Michelle's and doing something way way way out of the Duggar comfort-zone, such as having the Duggar's celebrating Kwanzaa with the new child. Think of the comedic possibilities, Jim Bob's obvious discomfort with another race, the new son trying to be too friendly to his hot new sisters, the general awkwardness of the entire situation. 
Duggar fans need to start considering the source on information about the family. People magazine legit, The Onion parody. Still, it's pretty comical to think how many people believed this and were eager to believe that a fifteen year old Michelle had a child she gave up for adoption.