Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Medical Care & Those Fundagelicals

The embrace of medical care by Zsuzsanna Anderson during her recent medical crisis confused me in many ways. Why? Because most of the of the mommas of the same sort of faith seem determined to confuse decent medical care with idolatry. More babies are lost to preventable conditions and bad birthing beliefs in the crunchy Christian home-birthing community than many others. Even some third world countries have a lower infant mortality rate than them.

When Zsuzsanna made the choice to do the sensible thing and seek real medical care it marked in my mind a different turn than I would have expected after reading her blog for many moons now. I was glad she took advantage of more options that many do but at the same time I wondered about the mental gyrations she would have to do to use real doctors. After all, she's been vocal about criticizing the use of antibiotics, doctors, conventional medical thought and most distressing of all, vaccinations.

I'm glad she went to a real doctor and had the procedures that at least gave her a chance to have both babies and I was sorry to hear that she'd lost one of the twins after the amnio patch. I suspect her thoughts on medical care will shift accordingly.

Just wish that part of that shift will about vaccines.

Just so you know I completely reject the idea that choosing to vaccinate your children against common childhood diseases is a personal choice. It is something that affects the entire community, the world and picking the option that puts the world at risk, children, the elderly and those with chronic illnesses is downright selfish and short-sighted. Already rates of infection from illnesses long thought eradicated have reemerged and started to climb.

The Religious Right likes to manipulate with fear and control others into a moralizing lockstep. This anti-vaccine crowd is just more of the same.

Of course, I could just be reacting to my own personal preference here considering six years ago I had whooping cough, likely contracted from some unvaccinated child. Because of my wrecked immune system I have had boosters of childhood inoculations and I can assure you I developed none of those supposedly bad things they say will happen. What I did gain was the possibility of not ending up in the hospital from Whooping Cough or having Shingles yet again. Plus immunity to all the other easily vaccinated against cooties of childhood.

I was vaccinated as a kid, but, because of the immunio suppressant therapy I am on I tend to pick up up just about everything. I am not alone in this, newborns, seniors, other sick people have that tendency too. So by vaccinating your children you are literally protecting everyone, practicing that good Christian love by caring for your brothers and sisters.

Recently I was reading a biography about our first First Lady, Martha Washington and her efforts to make sure those in her circle, her family and close friends, took the best available precautions against a killer illness in her time, Smallpox. She was vaccinated and had others inoculated. She understood the importance of eradicating what illnesses that impacted the young nation.

If Martha was able to be a Christian and see the need to protect others as well as herself then why can't a subset of our world understand they are impacting us all by refusing to even consider something that is simple and free under most healthcare plans? A moment's pain and a lifetime of protection.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Answering Kevin Swanson

Recently Kevin Swanson, radio babbler and righteous rabblerouser against all things not homeschooling fundamentalist Biblical patriarchy has been making more of an ass out of himself than usual. It's not merely due to the fact that he has a new book to flog about and promote by calling everyone that doesn't agree with him an 'Apostate', a title that is also a big part of the title of his new book. Oh no, Kevin seems to be off the internet deep end this week.

He's attacked some of No Longer Quivering's great friends and authors: Heather Doney of Homeschoolers Anonymous, Homeschooling's Invisible Children and Becoming Worldly, Kathryn Joyce author of Quiverfull, The Child Catchers and many articles in national publications (Salon, The Nation, Huffington Post and others), Ryan Stollar of Homeschoolers Anonymous, Vyckie Garrison founder of NLQ, Libby Anne of Love Joy Feminism, and many others...

Kevin has been saying some very harsh things in such blog postings as one I quoted tonight for NLQ - Trolls Spew, Silly Women, and Sons of Belial on the Internet Yep, not so much love of Christ in that title, is it?

I'm going to attempt to translate/answer his blog posting here, without using too many emotional nasty spewing words, unlike some coughcough*KevinSwanson*coughcoughcough people do.

Occasionally, I take a foray into the fray of the internet wars to see how the sons of Belial and the silly women (who creep into people’s houses via their blogs) are “working things out” in their theological meanderings. I thought I’d comment.  I’m not speaking of anybody in particular here. . . only assessing a whole lot of troll spews and unsavory bloggish communications.
In other words he's either bored at work or innately curious as to what those that don't slavishly hang on his every word as saying about him. Or he's just trying to scare up something to discuss on that show of his. Self-Googling is the sin of pride.

The errors are multitudinous.
i.e. not everyone agrees with him.

 1. People want to choose the wrong epistemological authority, which is usually themselves or the zeigeist.  They usually want to assume that the liberal press maintains a higher respect for truth than the Scriptures and all those “ignorant, horn-rimmed bespectacled” folks who like to quote Scripture.  They shudder when they see a Bible reference (several below).
Please point out exactly where you've seen people openly assuming the press has a lock on truth over the Bible. You can't.

The Bible references that most thinking people shudder over are those pulled completely out of context and twisted to suit manipulative purposes. If you weren't misusing the Bible to beat people up with then there would be much more reference for the Bible and scriptures. It's not your own personal weapon.

 2. I also find moral outrage everywhere. I’m always a little surprised when those who have abandoned all basis for absolute ethics, get all red-faced and huffy about their moral opinions that have no real basis in revelatory law.  Everybody seems to be very outraged about some moral thing or another (with very little if any basis for absolutist ethics, seeing as they left law somewhere back there for grace).
How does he know that others have abandoned all basis for ethics? Because they don't think he is the most mostest righteous dude this side of Jesus ever? Anyone following the goings on by prominent Christians in this world would be outraged. Trying to deprive the poor of food and access to health care? Busy disenfranchising large portions of the population? One of the few very famous Christian patriarchs that seems to have any clue or love for people is Pope Francis. Swanson would be a much better person if he only emulated the Pope and not Rush Limbaugh.

 A fair proportion of internet opinionators tend to lose all sense of proportion when it comes to morality, usually assuming again that the politically correct sins of the day is the appropriate standard of right and wrong (for now).  We believe that Scripture bears out that some sins of themselves and by reason of several aggravations are more heinous in the sight of God than others (Ezek. 8:6, 13, 1 John 5:16, Ps. 78:17,32, etc.)  Thankfully, the Bible provides us with some sense of proportion when it comes to sin.
No, it's not that silly buzz phrase "politically correct" that the internet opinionators apply as their standard. Most seem to apply the basic 'right' of being compassionate, caring for their fellow man, wanting to do what is right for everyone, not just some elite people thumping the Bible and throwing condemnation on others.

Yes, indeed, the Bible DOES provide guidance about sin. It even says that in the last days there will be tons of false prophets tooting out their own horns. Now why is it that seems to apply to many of the ones in the public eye at this moment?

These guys love putting “sic” in people’s quotes, but never really engage the argument itself (especially if it challenges their presuppositional framework).
It is really possible that a learned man such as Swanson doesn't understand what "sic" actually means? This is what one grammar site had to say about the usage of "sic" - "you’ll find that when writers are quoting the work or words of other people, they’ll insert [sic] to indicate that the quote has been reproduced verbatim. Typically, the quote will contain an incorrect or strange spelling of some kind and the writer wants to preserve that without it appearing to be a typo on their part."

You also see it when someone is using archaic language or is incorrect or their logic or point is inaccurate. I think that sums up much of Mr. Swanson's assertions on his blog and radio show. Some of the things posted he's said are so completely absurd that they read like an article from The Onion, almost a perfect parody.

3. Among the troll class, I also detect a serious lack of knowledge concerning or respect for history, especially church history.  This is not all that surprising, seeing as many bloggers express themselves as the first ones to discover truth in the history of the church/world.  Maybe they’ll be as successful as Jim Jones was with pulling together a nice little cult of 900+ in Guyana (back in the 1970s sometime).  Connection to church history in our thinking is critical, especially in a day of 100 million opinions and 50,000 cults.  I spend about half my extra-biblical reading time with the ancient church fathers.
That's another untruth. Many people coming out of spiritual abuse and the corrosive churches that abound have a better handle on history and the role of religion and churches upon history. They are the ones that search, seek the answers without settling for what someone else has told them. Which is about as far as one can get from a 'cult' member or leader. Cult leaders cannot stand for others to not worship them or have more knowledge than they do and frequently accuse others of not having sufficient understanding of history and whatever 'holy' book used. 

4. Too many of these folks love the world of lust and flesh and they hate their brothers (or don’t love them very much, anyway).  Technically, it’s supposed to be the other way around. The Bible wants us loving our brothers, hating the world of lust and flesh, and hating the lust and flesh stuff that corrupts the brother.  It’s the third part of this that’s the hardest to track down. And yes, you can get too picky with your brother.  Matthew 7:1-4 applies.  Maturity enables judgment. Immaturity disables moral judgment (2 Cor. 10:6).
 That's rather backwards. Most of the people coming out of cultist church situations have a passion for helping others not make the same mistakes as they, to see to their spiritual emotional healing, and it comes out of love for people. I haven't noticed much love for anyone but themselves in many of the fundamentalist churches lately. Statistics show that more what you would call Apostates volunteer to care for others in some charitable way than those that identify as conservative Christians.

 Church people in apostasy are usually gravitating towards the Hollywood gay-pride thing (ie. lust of flesh and pride of life), while at the same time they work very hard to create as much dissension between brothers in the church as they can.  They’ll separate chief friends if they can, hoping to the devil these friends won’t pick up the phone to call each other (and work it out). You can sniff these folks out pretty good, if your sniffer is calibrated/sanctified.  Most worldly types just love the lust-pride thing, and they could care less about Christians, unless the Christians are bugging them about their lust-pride thing. 
Gravitating towards the Hollywood gay-pride thing? Wasn't Swanson just going on about loving people and hating the sin? Who has the right to say their own sniffer is 'sanctified'? Plus most church people don't need the devil or anyone else stirring up dissension because many of them specialize in that very thing.

5. Finally, there just isn’t much fear of God before their eyes.  After reading the blog, try to imagine this person on his knees trembling before God, crying out for mercy, forgiving and being forgiven.   You don’t see much of that on the internet these days.
Can't imagine Kevin Swanson on his knees trembling before God. I can see him trying to tell the Almighty exactly what He should do next.




Thursday, December 12, 2013

Triggered Watching....

....or Dislike the idea but love the person.

The last few days have been highly triggering for me, putting me back in a not nice place involving my history with QF and the internet.

Why? Because I'm witnessing a large group of people openly harassing someone I've quoted in No Longer Quivering's 'Quoting Quiverfull' feature over her pregnancy problems.

Zsuzsunna Anderson, the author of the blog "Are They All Yours?", wife, mother, sharer of a very similar first name as I. She's from Germany, a place I came to deeply love during my years living there as a military wife.

She's having maternal twins, and has discovered that her twins have a condition known as TTTS -  twin to twin transfusion syndrome.

Mrs. Anderson is a Quiverfull adherent and something of a fundamentalist. I've been reading and following her blog for quite some time now, quoting it occasionally to illustrate some aspect of QF beliefs and actions. While I don't agree with her on many things about religion even as we're both Christians, I was heart sick to read her blog this week and find out that her twins are suffering from TTTS.

One of the big new things with me lately is gaining an ability to separate the person from the idea, love the person even when you think their beliefs might be wrong. As a result I have been able to look at things like the scandal with Doug Phillips and Vision Forum and feel bad for those affected, or to read about another mothers struggles and feel for her, know she needs positive support, not being torn down.

Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be many people that share the ability to look beyond the theology and see a living human being like themselves in need of support and love. Zsuzsanna is pinned between two very different, very critical groups of internet users that want mostly to impose their wills on her during this trying time.

I really should not be surprised at either group, the first group is upset that Zsuzsanna sought medical attention when it became apparent that things weren't going as planned. Yes, yes, the other Quiverfull Fundamentalist sold-out mommas are attacking her on message boards and on the comments of her blog. Many of them believe that medical intervention is like playing God, unnecessary and too close to idolatry. Which is too bad, didn't Jesus himself refer to physicians and sick people? Yes, yes he did.

The other thing they are objecting to is that Zsu not only consulted a physician but had a surgical procedure in an attempt to save both babies. For some reason I don't entirely understand some of them put this on equal footing as abortion, or as it's tidily named for this condition, selective reduction.

A personal decision. Really none of our business since none of us are in the exact same circumstances as Zsuzsanna. Who can say how they would decide if they were in that position. Her decision was to try and give both a shot at life. It was a brave one in my eyes. The kind a good mother makes.

At least she's not making the same decision that poor Carri Chmielewski made

Now that second group, they are part of what's triggering me about this entire thing. They are saying things on their board about how they hope that the Andersons twins are born with handicaps or deformities just so Zsuzsanna will realize how wrong it is to have a large family or be QF.

But that's just the thing that Free Jinger does. They pick apart fundamentalist bloggers and occasionally take it into real life to every ones detriment. One of my ever lasting regrets is in being involved with their board during the Carri Chmielewski pregnancy. None of us there did anything more than make an awful situation exponentially worse.

Makes me so sad that they seem so determined to punish Zsuzsanna Anderson instead of trying to understand where she is, accepting her and wishing for the best in this situation.

Why is that, do you think? Is looking down upon others and picking apart the deets of their lives done to make them feel better, superior to the poor schmoe they're trying to torment?

I am coming to the conclusion that in order for people to live in peace, receive the healing they need and make this world a better place we'd better all learn tolerance, how to treat others like human beings, develop empathy and love for our fellow man. Hate on ideas, not people.


Sunday, December 1, 2013

The "For Profit" Vision Forum Inc. Closing Dec. 31, 2013

...And so things get a bit more grim for the Phillips.

There's been no official word on the closing of the incorporated for profit side of Vision Forum closing after Doug Phillips stepped down after admitting his affair and the closing of the ministry side of Vision Forum, but it looks like that is indeed what is happening.

T.W. Eston of the blog Jen's Gems is reporting that many people working at the Inc have been given notices that they are losing their jobs.  Others are reporting that if you order from Vision Forum Inc. you'll receive notice that all sales are final and that an inventory liquidation is ongoing. Emails went out from other sources saying that FVI is having a Black Friday sale. Lots of compelling evidence that the money maker is shutting down as well at Spiritual Sounding Board

Starting January 1, 2014 the assets of Vision Forum will start being liquidated. The Phillips family has until New Years Eve to be out of their luxury mansion that is owned by the ministry. The mansion, vehicles, some of the personal belongings and clothes are rumored to be on the chopping block for sale since they were purchased with ministry funds.

Peter Bradrick, Doug Phillips former right hand man, has finally spoken out on the mess and about his being let go by Doug. Read his take at Homeschoolers Anonymous: Peter Bradrick, Former Executive Assistant to Doug Phillips, Speaks Out On Being "Formally Disowned" and "Declared to be a Destroyer"

If you still think that perhaps Doug Phillips and his wife have been handed a raw deal I suggest you real the series over at Jen's Gems on her own personal experiences attending the church Doug Phillips pastored.  Starting with Part 1 to the bitter end at Part 12. It's a fascinating and horrifying read on the way the Phillips acted towards church members.

Do you think perhaps this is it and nothing more 'wrong' will come out from the ministry or are there even worse allegations to come?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Duties, Rights and Privileges

The quotes and theology I stumble across as part of my posting and moderator duties at No Longer Quivering sometimes make me laugh, but many times I'm more likely to drop my full coffee cup in shock or dismay, just like the graphic of a spilled coffee cup I use for the Quoting Quiverfull feature.

The QQ quotes are chosen by their ability to make me do a sharp intake of air and lose my grip on my coffee. The outrageous, the ridiculous and sometimes, the downright dangerous.

This week between some of the quotes and some of the things written by the usual offenders I'm wondering how the uber religious can possibly think that curtaining the rights, duties, privileges and responsibilities of others based upon sexual gender and their own understanding of a book written in an ancient culture by many authors that may or may not be applicable in our modern times.

There are so many different meanings and translations of the Bible that I don't think anyone can genuinely claim to have a lock on ultimate truth. It is more like watching a group of blind men feeling up different parts of an elephant and saying only their understanding of what the elephant is like is the right one. They all have pieces of the picture, just not the entire thing. I think that is the state of the Christian church today, bits and pieces that perhaps fit together.

One of the most head scratching pieces this week was when I posted the quote of Jonathan Lindvall saying that it wasn't a good idea to have women on juries or allow them to vote, Allow? It's a right and a privilege in our country to vote and a part of good citizenship to serve on a jury.

His reasoning on the jury service was that it would not be good to expose a young woman to possible trauma from what she might see, or hear, or experience serving on a jury of her peers. He doesn't seem to realize that if there is anything even slightly untoward, such as viewing autopsy photos, that might occur the potential jurors are polled as to their ability to serve without being upset. You are given an out.

I've served on a few juries and it's mostly tedious waiting with short periods of interesting testimony and long hours discussing the proper verdict. Only once have I been in a potential jury pool and ended up traumatized. It was due to the fact that it was a murder trial and I knew the victim quite well. I asked to be excused, was questioned by the defense attorney, commonwealth attorney and the judge before being dismissed. I like to think I could have been fair but the reality was that I had already formed an opinion on the guilt of the defendant. None of which had any slight connection to my sex or religious beliefs.

One day soon I've have to tell the semi-comical story of the jury I served on for a lady who'd been video taped beating down the Safeway manager while stealing a buggy filled with steaks. Now that was a funny three ringed circus. How can you argue with a video tape of the crime?

Very few people actually enjoy jury duty but most people understand it is an important role in assuring that justice works as it should. Making half the population not eligible to serve is a grave disservice to our great nation. Even Supreme Court Justices will appear and serve on juries if called up.

Not voting? Same lame excuses the anti suffragette crowd tried to use to keep women from being allowed to have a voice in who represents them on the political stage.

With all the hue and cry about culture wars and Christians impacting the culture for Jesus you'd think that the Fundamentalist and Evangelical crowds would be all for women on juries and voting, if for no other reason than to swell their numbers and assure a bigger impact on the culture. They're hurting their own causes when they shut out their women folk from having a role in what they are trying to accomplish.

Also this week I featured a posting written by Vaughn Ohlman on his belief that women should not serve in the military at all, much less in combat.

To me this is all a moot point because there are occasions in the Bible where women were warriors or took part in defense against invading armies. I look too at history, at the warrior queens, at Joan of Arc: unlearned peasant girl who claimed that God called her to lead the French army to victory for the Dauphin.

Not to mention the fact that women in the military have been placed unofficially in combat situations around the world in the US military. When my husband was serving in Army Intel there were women at the various bases serving in areas that were considered potential front line. When you sign up, male or female, you realize there is always the possibility that you could be in a combat situation some day. It's not all holding hands and singing Kumbaya all day.

At no time was this not in the back of my mind when we lived in Germany near the Fulda Gap. During those days I worked at the base USO office as the welcome wagon/volunteer coordinator. Every fall we helped out when the military did a mock removal of military spouses and children, practicing for the remote possibility that war would be waged and non combatants would need to be shipped out for the States on a moments notice. If the Russians had decided to attack the West, then the Fulda Gap would have been right where they would have marched through. Every single spouse I knew there lived with the possibility that one day there could be war and we might be in the path. We chose to stay and support our military men and women.

So all this talk of not putting women in military harms way is just much too late. Again, it is the right and/or privilege of any heroic person feeling the patriotic call to serve their country. Time spent at any military base schools you in a hurry about the integrity and sacrifice these brave souls embody. Saying that some do not belong because of biology belittles all that serve.

I've always wanted to know exactly what the percentage of fundamentalists or evangelicals or theonomic men that have stepped up to defend our freedoms? I'm guessing from what I've observed over the years that very few from those groups end up in the military. Until they start stepping up in the numbers that other groups have to serve the citizens I have very little respect for their opinions on who is fit to serve.

On the eve of Thanksgiving, a time when we're celebrating our freedoms in America and those that made it possible to have freedom of or from religion, I think it's seditious and unAmerican to try and strip those same freedoms from half the population merely because of a random roll of the reproductive dice make them female.

Happy Thanksgiving. This year I am thankful that I live in a land where we all don't have to think or believe the same. Where there is freedom to think as you chose. Where all are considered to have been created equal. Freedom from state sponsored religion. Freedom to hug a tree or bow before your God.

Imagine how boring it would be if we weren't free to be ourselves?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Revisiting Modest: Skirts Versis Pants

In the modest battle exactly who gets to decide what is modest? Who's standards do we chose if we're going to present ourselves as 'modest'

The Bible doesn't say "You must wear skirts only!". It does address women and men not dressing the same. But in reality in those times women and men wore very similar garments, long robes very close to what is worn in the Middle East today by women. Abayas with a head dress called either a Jilbab or a Hijab.

An Abaya worn with a Jilbab. The ultimate in 'modest' clothing. But I know that Christian fundamentalism that insists only on the wearing of long skirts would reject this model as Biblical modesty, even if this is the reality of modest clothing in Biblical eras. THIS is what we're talking about, not modified Little House on the Prairie look, not long skirts sewn on an ancient Singer sewing machine, not my silly pants, this is what was worn when Paul was busy making up rules for men and women that might or might not have been divinely inspired.

I have several Abayas and I wear them on those days when I'm home sick from work. The days when I don't want to lay around in my night gown but I'm really feeling much too under the weather to wear other clothes. Very comfortable and beautifully embroidered. Rather impractical for much activity.

But how are carefully worn pants with the right tops any less modest. Yesterday the outfit I wore for work showed about as much skin as the lady in the Abaya photo. Just hands and face. Yes, I wore pants, loose corduroy pants, a black loose tunic turtleneck sweater topped with a silk brocade tunic vest that fell nearly to my knees, skimming over and disguising my rear end and the boobage. I thought I was was pretty modestly dressed and even my tops were nearly as long as dresses but somehow this doesn't meet a Biblical standard of modesty?

I've come to the conclusion if you are not showing off your 'goodies' then you're likely dressed modestly. But if you really want to make sure you're modest and Biblical then you should wear an Abaya and Jilbab. Easy to buy online.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Vision Forum Ministries Closing

Today it was announced on Vision Forum Ministries site that in light of the Doug Phillips scandal that the ministry would be locking the doors and shuttering the building. They are completely shutting down. Here's what they've posted on the Vision Forum Ministries site.
The Closing of Vision Forum Ministries
In light of the serious sins which have resulted in Doug Phillips’s resignation from Vision Forum Ministries, the Board of Directors has determined that it is in the best interests of all involved to discontinue operations. We have stopped receiving donations, and are working through the logistical matters associated with the closing of the ministry. While we believe as strongly as ever in the message of the ministry to the Christian family, we are grieved to find it necessary to make this decision. We believe this to be the best option for the healing of all involved and the only course of action under the circumstances.
Say what?

My first reaction upon hearing the news was 'oh holy *expletive*' Could not believe it, First Baptist Church and Hyles-Anderson College didn't close when either Jack Hyles or Jack Schaap were outed as adulterers. Jimmy Swaggart has been caught with nasty cheapo hookers more than once and he's still on the air touting his special blessed Bibles and other religious geegaws as it only ever temporarily slowed him down. Oh Lawd, oh how the money still rolls in!

I could just be engaging in idle speculation but this makes whatever it was that Mr. Phillips did or didn't do much worse than his published confession on the website of 'emotional infidelity'. VF has stopped taking ministry donations. When the money stops rolling in it sounds like something more serious. Could be there were other improprieties going on that haven't hit the press yet.

If I were a betting woman I would say it's likely some financial 'situation' has taken place and someone is nosing around the ministry's books. I suppose we'll find out soon enough.

Wonder what the staff at VF is going to do? The loss of jobs has to be heartbreaking to those staff members that believed they were helping do the Lord's work, had nothing to do with the scandal and are now facing unemployment at a time when the government has made serious curtailments to unemployment, food stamps and other assistance programs. They are being punished and have done nothing to deserve it.

Mrs. Doug Phillips and assorted little Phillips are being punished by this by no fault of their own.
But the ones I feel the worst for are the thousands nationwide that supported this ministry financially. They've been fleeced for years by someone that cannot even practice the same things he insists on from everyone else.

I'm of two minds about all of this. Glad that this means that Doug Phillips will no longer have a public bully pulpit to spread his warped ideas of what following Jesus means and unhappy for all those people that are humiliated, losing their livelihood or being punished in any way by the ministry closing.

Who will the Botkin Sisters follow now?

Tell me what you think about this sudden and unexpected news.

Friday, November 8, 2013

How, Michelle, How?

As I got up this morning and stumbled through my routines it came to me that one of the big reasons I've uncomfortable with the way Michelle Duggar promotes her lifestyle is that I cannot figure out how she manages to hand out that essential one on one time that good mothering takes every single day.

My children are all grown and out of the house, but my mornings are a cacophony of demands for attention. Because I have animals, a few rescue kitties and tropical birds, some of which are rescue. The numbers fluctuate depending on how many birds I'm fostering. The noise starts the second my feet hit the floor in the bedroom, everyone lets me know that they indeed know I am awake and they want me right that moment. My day starts taking care of their needs and showering them with one on one love and affection. It's not always easy.

If it's a big part of my morning to meet the needs of my poor abused little animals then I can just imagine how hard it would be to accomplish the same thing with a large family of little children.

How on earth can you possibly do that effectively when you have enough children to field a baseball team? The logistics of it would be staggering, you might only get a handful of minutes with each child to pour into them special love and attention. I can only imagine a scene like that in the animated movie "Antz" where the queen ant is handed each newborn she births every few seconds and gives them only a cursory bit of attention completely lacking in love.

But I know that's not the reality of Michelle Duggar's motherhood because she obviously does love her children from what we see on their show, books and website. She does want the best for them. But does her best include having time for each of her precious children? I can't see how, and I suspect this is where the 'buddy' system they use kicks in.

Which is really unfortunate. No older brother or sister is going to be able to completely replace mom and a mothers love.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Why Can't Pants Be 'Feminine'?

The Modesty Debate rages on.

Today for No Longer Quivering I posted a quote by Stacy McDonald of Ladies Against Feminism and Raising Virtuous Daughters about why she and her daughters always wear skirts.

I guess if you're swanning around doing dishes, updating your blog and attending prayer meetings as the main bulk of your day skirts might work. But you know what? For the rest of us poor slobs to wear a skirt all day and pretend you're all holy and righteous for not allowing the fabric of pants between our legs would be an awful choice.

Stacy claims it's because skirts are more 'modest'. Hate to bust her protected fantasy bubble life but it's possible to wear a skirt and be what she would consider 'immodest'. Or that ever popular Michelle Duggar term 'defrauding'. Just open your eyes and go out to just about any place in normal society and you will see girls in skirts of all lengths and tightness.

Wearing a skirt doesn't automatically confer modest status on anyone just like wearing pants doesn't turn a woman into manly being.

What about dressing appropriately for your day and stop with all this modesty nonsense? Has Stacy even bothered to notice that there are many job positions out there filled with ladies wearing pants. Nurses in hospitals wear pants and I don't think anyone could ever accuse them of being 'immodest'. Scrubs are meant to be worn loose, revealing nothing of the shape, not because it might tempt someone but because it's not comfortable, good for the patients or practical for the job to be tricked out like a hoochee momma.

The psychiatric facility I work at doesn't allow skirts to be worn for practical reasons, chasing a patient, the fact that it's a farm in the middle of nowhere, there are a thousand reasons why you wouldn't wear a skirt. Today's reason would be because it's in the high thirties out there right now. Your legs would freeze.

But there are rules about those pants, they have to be loose and cannot be leggings. Modesty at the facility. Not for some made up crap you're using a few out of context scriptures to support. Tight pants and low cut tops might trigger some of the sexually abused patients. It's for the protection of the patients. That sort of modesty makes logical sense.

You say you want to return to a Biblical standard of dress, but.. do you realize that in the Bible times both sexes dressed the same in long robes? Where's your long robes if you are trying to emulate the standards of the Bible?

Myself and most of the women I know are secure enough in their sexuality and bodies to wear what is appropriate for whatever we are doing for that day, knowing that clothes don't make the woman, you can be feminine and wear pants and who gives two hoots what other people think of your way of dressing.

I thought the same as you when I was still attending a patriarchal church even if the church said nothing about wearing skirts only all of the time. Somewhere along the line I absorbed that same poisonous message women's bodies were like snakes or deadly bombs so you had to disguise them to be pure. But eventually I realized that thinking that way was merely fetishizing clothing choices for the silliest of reasons, the reaction of someone else.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

ALTM: Chapter Two: Babies, Babies, BABIES!

I had the hardest time reading chapter two and writing about it. Every time I tried to read I was triggered and sickened, preferring to hide under the covers of my nice warm bed and eat popcorn instead of reading and writing.

As always the Duggars started this chapter with a Bible verse. Luckily this time they actually had the correct verse number - “God blessed them and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply.” - Genesis 1: 28. But I have to wonder why they lopped off the backside of 1:28, you know, all that jazz about filling and subduing the earth and its critters.

Chapter two of “A Love That Multiplies” is all about Babies, Babies and more BABIES!!!! The sole reason for the Duggar fame and their television show. More freakish breeding starting out with the Duggars talking about the arrival of their first grandbaby Mackynzie Renee Duggar.

A few months before Mackynzie's birth it seems most normal that Michelle Duggar, the grandmother-to-be would end up enceinte again. Their wallet is based upon militant fecundity and it wasn't likely that Michelle would either forgo the television dollars or lose her position of Duggar top momma to that upstart Anna Duggar.

Baby Jordyn Duggar was a mere six months old when Michelle took a pregnancy test and showed the little plus sign on the peed upon stick to Jim Bob. He claimed surprise to learn that he was going to be a daddy again, but really how much of a surprise could it have been?

He disingenuously stated in the book “You probably won't believe this, but I could hardly believe that. If just wasn't on my radar for possibilities at the time. I knew that having another baby was completely possible --- God had proven that again and again. But the timing was really surprising.”

The book goes on to explain how Jim Bob and Michelle use those ancient Old Testament rules about when to start having sex again, forty days after the birth of a boy and eighty days after a girl. He follows this with discussion over Michelle, her cycles, breast feeding and the usual time it takes her to conceive again.

Regular person translation: “I didn't want another baby quite so soon, and thought it was at least a few more months away, holy *insert favorite fake curse word*! I guess we need more money from the network.”

Or perhaps someone just needs to explain with graphics, pie charts and puppets how babies are conceived. If you have sex without birth control babies are usually the result. You'd think he would know this after all the kids! If water turns into ice cubes every time you put the tray full of water in the freezer eventually you figure out the cause and effect mechanism even if you no knowing about the process at first.

In a calculated move for the cameras Jim Bob decides to tell the kids during a bout of home-made Slip N Slide using black plastic, a back hoe, some dish soap and a hole in the front yard. But first Jim Bob assures his readers that everyone was fulled covered in swimsuits that went from neck to knee. No defrauding with random thigh viewing.

Remember SlipNSlide? I sure do. Many a bruises and scrapes happened while sliding over a plastic-coated front lawn. I have to wonder if at some subconscious level if Jim Bob isn't making a state about the nature of birth, a slippery slide.

Maw and Paw Duggar reminisce about how wonderful it is that Josh and Anna Duggar made the commitment to not use birth control followed by some gratuitous humble-bragging about their business savvy used car lots and acumen.

Jim Bob wisdom on car buying “Always negotiate to buy items at a price you could instantly get back if you decide to wholesale it.” Would you buy a used car from this man?

When Mackynzie's birth starts the Duggar are away at an ATI conference in Big Sandy, Texas. They attend every year and state so in the book, If their continued involvement with Advanced Training Institute headed by Bill Gothard doesn't point to the Duggars being part of a dangerous Quiverfull cult, then nothing will. No matter how much they downplay their links to the obvious and harmful Biblical Patriarchy the truth is that they are as much a part of it as they ever were, now it's not as visible in their show. Another deliberate attempt to whitewash their core beliefs to a middle American viewing audience to keep the series dollars steadily flowing in.

Speaking of cash, answering critics and white washing things, Michelle Duggar has posted different 'recipes' throughout the book and this chapter brings the first one, not so much a recipe but a listing of all the fruits and veggies that the kids snack on. In the first few Duggar specials people remarked upon how the majority of the time the kids were served heavy sodium very processed diet that seemed to be lacking any fresh produce. The next special showed the kids each getting an orange to eat with their balogna white bread sandwich to shut up those evil nay-saying critics. Her list of how to serve veggies and fruits for snacks reads very much like answering critics.

Sorry, Michelle, but canned green beans and frozen corn is still not exactly health food.

This chapter made me feel sick to my stomach as again and again, there were references to the camera crew for their show “19 Kids and Counting” being on hand to catch life's most memorable bits, like the birth of Mackynzie, Anna finding out she's pregnant, Anna and Michelle being pregnant at the same time.

The mere fact that they do mention being filmed so much tells me that most of what the Duggars do it carefully calculated for the cameras. Sad and twisted, turning touching intimate family moments into grist for TLC

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Interviewing Vaughn Ohlman Part 1

by Calulu cross posted from her blog True Love Doesn't Rape
A few months ago I decided that I needed to interview Vaughn Ohlman of True Love Doesn't Wait. I wanted to know how he was coming up with his interpretations of scripture to support young marriage and young motherhood. I've read those same scriptures many times over and not come up with the same meanings.
Shot off an email to Vaughn asking if he might just let me interview him for NLQ and he agreed. The ground rules were that I would ask no personal questions nor add or detract from his replies.
Which made coming up with the first set of questions nearly impossible as I wanted to ask background questions, not to dig up dirt in a gossipy fashion, but to see how the foundation of his life was laid and how his beliefs now had been shaped by his past. Sometimes testimony leads to an understanding of theology. So I hemmed and hawed, trying to come up with the least offensive versions of the questions, knowing that Vaughn might not answer any of them. Started with easy softball questions.
Let me state here for the record that there is something I like about Vaughn, unlike other fundamentalist Christians he will talk to people who are at the other end of the religious spectrum. Unlike most that will just hurtle names/insults/same old stuff Vaughn will engage and talk. I think we have to respect that even if we don't agree with all of his views. He is a rarity in that.
Here are the questions I asked:
  1. Were you raised in a religious household? If not what age were you saved at?
  2. What denomination were you raised in?
  3. How did that affect your views of the Bible and religion as you grew older? Were there things you rejected or felt the need to delve into deeper?
  4. Once you married and started having children how did that impact your beliefs?
  5. Did you find your wife through courtship or the church?
Vaughn did answer them in a fashion that did convey background without scads of personal things I didn't want to know in the first place.

Qivering Qestions 1-5

Suzanne Calulu, of ‘No Longer Qivering’ has asked to do an interview with me. Before we got started we set up some ground rules, namely:
a) There would be no personal questions. I do theology, not testimonial.
b) That I would not be asked if I still beat my wife (ie loaded questions).
I am also participating with the understanding that my words won’t be edited, but posted in full, which is fairly standard policy on her site. Now she has sent me her first set of questions.[3] I am a little afraid she has already violated the ‘no personal question’s’ thing; but her questions seem like legitimate background. I’m going to answer these with a couple of twists: I’m going to avoid all ‘personal’ information that might incriminate others along the way, and I think I will combine all my answers into one long prose segment.
Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
So, beginning at the beginning… I was born. No, don’t think I will go there. My early life was a bit confused, and involves an aircraft accident and all sorts of other otherwise interesting details. My life as she wishes to know it could be said to start when I was eight years old, and I was baptized. In an independent baptist church somewhere West of the Mississippi and North of Texas.
That was the church were my religious identity could be said to have been formed. Independent Baptist, the kind of church with Sunday School, Daily Vacation Bible School, the whole nine yards. I can remember our pastor going out into the local fields to try to talk little leaguers into coming to DVBS and trying to get our numbers up. One thing that the NLQ audience will appreciate is that we sang the songs ‘The B-I-B-L-E’ and ‘Tho none go with me…’.[1] And, of course, we memorized hundreds of verses.
This church, camp, and, later, Christian school laid the basic foundation of my religious philosophy. The foundation: the Scriptures. My life goal: to glorify God. (BTW a bit of a note along the way. I think one kind of funny issue that I have with the NLQ crowd is that they fail to realize that we have different life goals. For many of them (perhaps not all) their goals are ‘to be happy’ or ‘to be an important person’ or somesuch. We all need to realize that different life goals will require different methods to get there. We often argue as if we forgot that.)
Meanwhile life was changing around me. I suppose it has done for everyone, but I can’t help thinking that the difference was particularly large for my generation. When I was in elementary school practically every house in our neighborhood had kids in it, a mother who stayed home, both a father and a mother (who both happened to be the non-divorced parents of the child) living in the home, etc. Watching television was kind of a rare event, we mostly played out in the streets and fields, often not coming home until dark. Nope, no computers. Pretty much everyone went to church; even if it wasn’t ‘as good’ a church as we went to. It was a pretty Protestant area… I don’t even remember knowing any Jews or Catholics (I know a lot now!). Pretty much everyone would have agreed with my life goals, even if they didn’t really commit to it.
Which is not to say that I have remained where I grew up. The foundation is the same, but it has been much built on. I am no longer an ‘independent’ baptist, but a reformed baptist, a difference in theology of much importance but probably of little interest to the NLQ readers.
Oh, and camp, which I mentioned earlier, was really important. Going to public school for my early years, my Christian faith was pretty much of a ‘Sundays and Wednesday night’ thing… well, along with Bible stories at night for story time. But camp was different. Starting as a camper, and then moving to a counselor, camp was a time where Christianity was a 24/7 thing. Especially once I did become a counselor and was literally responsible for ‘counseling’ young people in the faith.  Nothing makes your ‘knowledge’ seem inadequate as having to teach, eh? I have found the same thing as a schoolteacher, nurse, EMT, etc.
James 5:10 Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.
Luke 6:2-4 And certain of the Pharisees said unto them, Why do ye that which is not lawful to do on the sabbath days? And Jesus answering them said, Have ye not read so much as this, what David did, when himself was an hungred, and they which were with him; How he went into the house of God, and did take and eat the shewbread, and gave also to them that were with him; which it is not lawful to eat but for the priests alone?
Another issue that was drilled into me during those years, and that forms such a gulf between myself and the NLQ crowd was the role of Biblical examples. I can’t really count how many times I have been lectured about the ‘fact’ that the Biblical narratives ‘aren’t law’. I think there are a dozen or so in just our most recent exchanges. But that kind of misses the point. Of course they aren’t law. They are examples.
In pretty much every field I have ever worked in (camp counselor, teacher, administrator, EMT, nurse) we have had both ‘law’ and ‘example’. And you spend about 1% of your time worrying about the laws, and about 99% following examples. In God’s Word we have law: Two great commandments: Love God and Love your neighbor. Then ten commandments which give us some flesh for that: Worship God alone, no idols, no blasphemy… honor your parents, don’t kill, don’t steal… etc.
And then we have voluminous case law and descriptions: what is incest (a violation of ‘thou shalt not commit adultery’), what is theft in this case or that case, etc.. But then, and this is really a huge portion of Scripture, even the part we traditionally call ‘Law’ (ie the Torah), we have ‘examples’. We have Godly man after Godly man, struggling to serve and glorify God, and we get to watch how they did things. Only a fool would call their examples law, but only a greater fool would dismiss them as irrelevant. Just as only a fool would ignore their nursing mentors because their actions ‘weren’t law’. And in the case of our nursing mentors you are merely dealing with fallible human beings. In the case of Biblical examples your are dealing with fallible human beings, specifically chosen by God to have their actions included in Scripture!
Proverbs 5:15-19 Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well. Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets. Let them be only thine own, and not strangers’ with thee. Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love.
So, moving along in my life, one area of our theology that has changed over the years comes in the area of marriage; especially the path to marriage.
My wife and I both grew up in the era of dating. There was not even any other option. Indeed I was expected to ‘recreational’ date. I wasn’t expected to have sex, that is intercourse, before marriage, but there were few other boundaries. We met at an airport on our way to a Missionary training course, where we spent the next few weeks… by the end of which we were all but engaged.
Getting married really forced both my wife and I to examine the Scripture much more seriously, as we started with rather different theological viewpoints. We both believed that Scripture was the place to go for the answers, though, and developed our theology together over the years. There is nothing that makes differences as important as living with someone as man and wife who holds different views.
And it was my role, as the husband, to be the one to whom my wife could come for questions.[4] I was to be the spiritual leader in our home. So I was bereft of excuses and really had to buckle down and study.
Psalms 127:3-5 Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.
Having kids, and having them grow up, was the real impetus for our study on marriage. By this time a lot of our theology had really settled down: we were basically theonomic, full quiver, homeschooling, moving toward family integrated, etc. etc. We had just become familiar with such names as Doug Phillips, Vodie Baucham, Paul Washer, etc. But we really hadn’t studied much on the idea of how to get married.
As we studied more and more of what the modern (conservative, family integrated) church was teaching on the path to marriage the more we saw that it had very little, if anything, to do with what Scripture taught. Law, teaching, example… none of it were reflected in this new thing called ‘courtship’. Oh, their rejection of dating made a lot of sense, dating is even less Scriptural. But this courtship thing?
The more we explored the more we found doctrines that the church has historically believed, that the modern church had thrown out. And so we kept studying and writing… and, through one thing and another, ended up where we are now.[2]
Well, there we go. I think I have answered pretty much all of her questions and, along the way, laid the foundation for the  issues of why I believe what I believe. The foundation is Scripture, the goal is to glorify God. Our search revealed a very different path to marriage than the world (dating) or the church (courtship) is currently teaching. So this we practice, and this we teach.

[1] Actual title ‘I have decided to follow Jesus’. The reference cited is from one particular verse.
[2] See http://truelovedoesntwait.com for more information on where that is.
[3] 1. Were you raised in a religious household? If not what age were you saved at? 2. What denomination were you raised in? 3. How did that affect your views of the Bible and religion as you grew older? Were there things you rejected or felt the need to delve into deeper? 4. Once you married and started having children how did that impact your beliefs? 5. Did you find your wife through courtship or the church?
[4] 1Co 14:34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. 1Co 14:35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.
Written by: Vaughn Ohlman
Approved by: Jeff Woodward: Caveat: While I agree that examples are very important, in the mind that “they aren’t law”, one must be careful to objectively consider whether any given examples is appropriate to follow or not–that is, whether they are “good” or “bad” examples. This is only possible by comparing their actions with relevant (explicit) biblical laws.
(Vaughn would encourage the reader to read our paper, “Our Hermeneutic” to see how we work this out in practice.)
Is there something, dear readers, that you would like to ask Vaughn that falls within his guidelines? Post it in the comments and I'll add it to the question list I'm working on now.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Love That Multiplies Chapter 1 Review

Chapter 1 - Little Eyes Watching: Psalm 127:2 - 'Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord and the fruit of the is his reward'

The start of this chapter gave me one the biggest laughs I've had in a long time. Psalm 127:2 actually reads - 'It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.'

I think what the Duggars were aiming for was Psalm 127:3 It makes me wonder exactly who edited this book. Was it their children? Crackheads on the street? Or just monkeys with keyboards? Freudian slip? How does something that glaringly wrong get through? I even spotted it and I stopped reading and memorizing scripture ages ago.
"We believe that children are a blessing from God"
I think it sort of sets the tone for this chapter. Michelle starts off by explaining how they'd decided to stop all birth control and let the crowd be created followed by cooing about blessings and joys and such having to do with having such a large number of children. Followed by saying how they've had hardships like everyone else.

But faith and prayer get them through, no mention of the hefty financial contributions towards their family by The Learning Channel. The same television channel that paid to finish their home, plucked them from obscurity, and an old small three bedroom rental. TLC turned the Duggars into a established  money-making brand.

Also the Duggars never mention that money does tend to smooth out many of the bumps in the road. Don't believe me? Just try living through the crisis of Josie Duggar's birth and many moons of medical care without having insurance and a serious amount of moolah.

Michelle and Jim Bob say that they wrote this book because of the oodles of emails, letters and questions they get every day, that people from all walks of life like what they see. So the book is supposed to answer those questions and share how they got through 2009 together.

The interesting thing to me about Michelle and Jim Bob answering 'questions' about their family, parenting practices et al is that with every different special, series, book released they feel compelled to 'explain' away things they have taken public heat for. This is typical for fundamentalists, the fundy must ALWAYS be RIGHT every single time. There's no self introspection, no learning from anyone else not within their own cultic sphere.

Remember when Michelle Duggar explained during the first television special using Michael Pearl's discipline method of 'blanket training' babies? Swatting a baby with a wooden spoon if it would not stay content on it's blanket? All mention gone now, edited out along with many other things.
"One of the most frequent comments was that we'd never experienced "real life," with all its hardships, challenges, setbacks, and pain"
Sure, Michelle and Jim Bob might have experienced "real life" but the Duggar children have been sheltered a ridiculous amount. They've never really had to deal any thing harsher than all those kids sharing one bath in their old house. They're kept away from everything people must learn to deal with in life, like peer pressure, how to handle a plethora of situations that most kids learn early on. I know the Duggar parents think they are helping their kids by sheltering them from anything off the compound but in reality they are delaying the maturation.

No one residing in the Fundigelical world bubble experiences life as most in the world do. They talk the Fundigelical talk, view natural consequences as 'tests of faith' from God and often fail to take necessary steps to resolve a challenge until it reaches crisis-proportions.

"We're not parenting experts"
What they've been through with first Josie and later Jubilee has done what terrible things usually do to religious people, make them cling ever tighter to their beliefs.

One thing that is common with everyone going to those type of hard times impacted the Duggars too, it's made them value their family and home more. They even said they no longer take health for granted, but you're never know that if you saw their ABC News interview last week. Michelle and Jim Bob both said they are trying for another baby, obviously that last lesson didn't stick.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

If Love Is Real It Shares

At the locked residential treatment center for kids I work at I am learning something that isn't taught in fundamentalism or evangelicalism. Sharing. Sharing with others.

Amidst all the work, kids, utter chaos that sometimes reigns at the treatment center I've been observing the phenomena of those with the least to give seem to give the easiest. Is it because they value possessions in a lesser way? Or is it being disadvantaged makes you realize that holding on to things doesn't keep you from losing them?

I don't know. I've thought about it a great deal as it seems many times the kids are eager to give people their drawings and sometimes even their personal possessions. Most of them have been either surrendered to the state or products of homes with little in the way of anything.

It reminds me of the story Laura told me after returning from her mission trip to Romania. To her the most touching moment was when a homeless Gypsy girl her own age offered to share her bag of potato chips. Someone with very little sharing with another without any expectation of favor or reward

But most the giving I've witnessed is with two of my coworkers. The two black ladies a few years younger than I who were hired at the same time I was to help out with audit season. Both were raised in incredibly difficult circumstances by mothers who struggled with substance abuse before being raised by extended families. They're both single moms who until recently were on WIC and food stamps themselves. Neither are what you'd call well off or even middle class. They don't have a lot to give but give they do to others at work, each other and anyone who looks their way.

They shame me with their ability to be generous easily. Until I started working with both of them I considered myself to be a giver, a generous person who gave to those less fortunate. While I have raised money and food for the local food bank and given tithes and money, man power and other things my giving hasn't been a natural part of who I am.

Their giving is a organic natural part of who they are, as reflexive as breathing.  I want that.

Giving with no expectation of receiving anything in return is the kind of selfless love I want. A way to love, in such short supply everywhere these days. True love gives.

I'm not talking about giving to people trying to scam you out of something or manipulate you into giving. I'm talking about a mindset that helps out all the time.

Looking back at my old Fundigelical church and many others, particularly others that are politically involved with the extreme right wing and/or Teaparty types, I see very little giving in day to day life, just carefully staged giving where everyone can see. Plus that ever charming proclamations that the poor need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and get a job like everyone else. Nothing for the poor.

Most of the people I know who are very religious or of a certain social class seem to equate giving with weakness instead of heeding what the book they claim to be following, the Bible, has to say about being generous. I think I'll ignore them, the politicians, the preachers and do what my two new friends at work do, actually live the spirit of giving, or try to. I'm working on it, started to share what I have with others that could use it better than I could including giving to those two ladies. It is going to take some work in my mind.

Part of that means staying away from restaurants and retail shops in my area tonight. It's the last day of the Values Voting conference in the Greater DC area and the poorer congregations usually end up staying in our tiny town. Last year when they were here I got some flack for wearing knee length baggy shorts. Being around those type of religious folks is going to short circuit my giving mindset and make me want to lay down a verbose beat down.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A Love That Multiplies Review: Introduction - Testy Already

Introduction – “Our Biggest Test Begins”

For the last year I’ve been gingerly attempting to read this book for the purposes of writing a review. Invariably what would happen is I would either snort in outrage or be triggered by some statement straight out of my old fundamentalist life and I’d end up abandoning the book in it’s entirety for months.


Let me state for the record that I am not a Duggar family fan. In fact, I believe they may be the most dangerous weapon that the Evangelical Right has.

How so? The Duggars show the lifestyle of Quiverfull in a way so attractive that it fools the average American television viewer into thinking that while the Duggars lead a lifestyle that is religious it is essentially harmless. You see a well-scrubbed, polite, behaved and parent-honoring brood of children without seeing any of the usual reality of families like theirs.

Sometimes I look at their family and think about that old horror movie “The Children of the Corn”

It’s the equivalent of sausage commercials, you see the beautifully cooked sausages arranged with loving care on an attractive porcelain plate without seeing the raising of the hogs, the kill floor, and the processing plant where those hogs are run through the grinders and stuffed into the casings. It skips all the unpleasant realities of the situation that have to happen for the sausages to land on that pretty china.
The Duggars show a side to American viewers, that while it does exist, it glosses over the things that led to this. Through the years references to ATI, blanket training and a slew of other things in the Duggaralia have disappeared as they’ve refined their message to the masses to make Quiverfull more socially desirable.

Most Duggar-like Quiverfull families you see are living fifteen children of all ages in a tiny three bedroom house with one bathroom. Bedrooms stacked with bunkbeds like cordwood. Second hand possessions and donated items. Financial struggles and some hardship. If I was one of them I’d be seriously pissed about how easy and perfect the Duggars make it all seem.

If this is what you want and you know going in that it might be a struggle that’s one thing, but to see the Duggars and accept their lifestyle as it is shown is being horribly deceived.

On to the book.

I was interested in reading the book because of the fact that this was the book that dealt with the challenges the family faced when their reproductive gambling came up snake eyes. How did the family manage to function during the premature birth of Josie Duggar. The birth of a premature baby would put undue stressers on any family, but might be a special challenge for a bigger family.

Usually this is where I would complain about how the Duggar fecundity would be sheer foolishness due to the advancing age of Michelle Duggar and the many children she’d birthed. Even statistics show that the older the mother is and the more births the odds are good something bad will eventually happen. You can only throw that hot dog down the hallway so many times before the door knobs get dented and floor greasy.

The introduction starts with Michelle describing Friday, December 4, 2009, before Josie and her early arrival. By the second paragraph you get a good taste of how ‘abnormal’, even by evangelical Christian measure, the day to day is in the Duggar family. The day starts with the kids getting ready for a film crew, grooming, chores, music practice and homeschooling. Half of the children are packing for an El Salvador mission trip. The first mention is the filming, not that the children should study or clean. Getting ready for filming took first priority.

The day was eaten up by the filming of the Australian film crew, the way the book reads the filming was the most important part of the busy day. Reenforces exactly what the priorities of JimBob and Michelle really are, raising their children in the media eye. Any publicity is good according to the gospel of JimBob. Even if it interferes with school and chores.

During much of the day Michelle was resting, thinking she was passing a kidney stone. But it’s obvious something more is going on and she goes to the hospital for tests. She managed to put off going to the hospital until after the film crew left.

I will give her credit for taking full advantage of modern medicine instead of shunning it and ending up with a much worse outcome.

The rest of the introduction was spend on babbling over how their faith would be tested and how even the very marital relationship would be challenged. Hey, but at least they don’t have to worry about keeping the house clean or having to find someone to babysit the kids. Built in ‘Buddies’ run everything.

JimBob broke the news to the kids, telling them that momma and baby might die:

“Pray hard,” Jim Bob would tell them as tears welled up in his eyes. “Pray to God for Mama and for the baby; pray like you’re never prayed before!”

Monday, September 30, 2013

No Fear in Being 'Ready'

Vaughn Ohlman of True Love Doesn't Wait has answered NLQ readers comments with claiming again that we don't understand and we're all a bunch of Anti Quiverfull Liberal Feminists with an agenda.

Dood, many of us have lived this or other things you refer to. Many of us escaped. We understand all too well where you are coming from in your ideas. The stuff we don't understand we've tried to wrap our minds around it. At least more than any fundamentalist has ever tried to understand our struggles and our journeys.

It is a funny difference between conservatives and liberals that conservatives seem to always question liberals ideas, and liberals question conservatives motives. Indeed, when a liberal makes a movie about an evil conservative the conservative is almost never doing what the conservative says he wants to do (ie he is a hypocrite[1]) whereas a conservative movie will often show liberals living up to their stated ideals (which just happen to be wrong, immoral, and lead to a deranged and deprived society).
A similar issue has cropped up, repeatedly, in the discussions on betrothal. There are, basically, two sets of opponents to the idea. The first is conservatives: the kind of people who are big on ‘courtship’. They have built themselves an entire edifice of extra-Biblical (and anti-Biblical) ideas and do not appreciate what we have to say.
 Those conservatives who choose to enter into the discussion do so primarily over the meaning and usefulness of the Scriptures on the issues. Or they point to general principles of hermeneutics to argue against any kind of mandate for the principles of betrothal.
 By questioning the entire idea of betrothal are we not at NLQ in essence questioning the idea of betrothal and courtship, questioning ideas instead of pure motives.

Now some of our number has developed motives for those ideas. I know I have. But people look at motives as a way to understand the way those ideas are developed and how the mindset and world view of the originator reached her/his hypothesis.

Contrast that with the pure courtship crowd you're mentioning in the second paragraph of your post. Those conservative Christians that oppose your type of betrothal aren't even going to attempt to understand your ideas or the motives behind them, they will continue to lockstep forward like lemmings until they reach their goal. They aren't know for deep thinking or questioning the rules.

You don't have the only correct understanding of the Bible any more than they do. All of you have your own views on the meanings of scripture without any room for the possibility that scripture might be something that is multi-faceted with more than one meaning. Can't you at least admit there might be different paths for different Christians?
However the liberals (the anti-quiverfull radical feminists so popular on some sites) take a different tack. While they occasionally mention (briefly) some Scripture or hermeneutic; they often, and enthusiastically, speak to my motives; claiming for me pretty much every nasty motive the modern mind can invent.
The readers and authors at NLQ aren't any one label and to label us all as one treats us all as if we aren't actually people, we're things that can be treated with disdain, dismissed and not part of the conversation. We are all different and all on a sliding scale of what it is we actually belief. The one thing that we all can agree on there is that most Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull groups are a slippery slope leading many times to spiritual abuse, the kind of dishonoring and destruction of self that leads people into all sorts of misery, pain, turning from God, losing themselves and sometimes losing their lives.

Vyckie Garrison nearly lost her life to Quiverfull. I nearly lost my life to Quiverfull, attempting to have a large brood while I had medical issues that made it very unlikely. Neither of us are unique in our experience,and we're not alone in this. Just read with an open mind many of the life stories at NLQ and you'll see that Quiverfull can lead into some very dark destructive hell for many woman. The entire purpose of NLQ is to help those that are struggling with the more harmful ideas this lifestyle can falsely teach women. Support. Healing.

How is warning others of the dangers of a man-made religion that doesn't much follow the red letter words of Jesus but mostly the control issues of men the stuff of dangerously liberal feminism?
Well, I’m a big boy, and can handle the flack. I’ve suffered worse. They don’t even bother to come over and make the comments on my site or my FaceBook page. But I do think that the motives they give are interesting ones and ones that could use some discussion. I won’t comment on their truth, which only God can judge, but I can comment on their logic and theological soundness… a more human endeavor.
Yes, you can comment on our logic and theological soundness, just as we can yours. But most of us will never be commenting on your Facebook or website because we're not interested in a flame war that would surely break out. Plus the list of things someone has to agree to in order to comment on your site is very controlling and almost farcical in their scope.

Which brings me to my next point. I have been contacted many times by people asking me if you're real, that surely you must be a parody of fundamentalists or a performance artist making fun of hyper religious people. I always tell them that you're the real deal, no comedian mining comic gold in the Bible.

The first thing they accuse me of is ‘fear’.  They think I am worried that my son will pick the ‘wrong’ wife; and are convinced that this is at least one of the reasons I want to pick for him.
Ironically this is true, although perhaps not in the way they intend. It is true that I ‘fear’ (at least as broadly defined) but the actual fear they propose is wrong.
I know, I know, you're referring to the fear of the Lord, which all followers of God are supposed to develop. But... you know... exerting that much control over a grown man (your son) does seem to posit that you are trying to control so much not because you don't trust your son to have good sense but because you fear the world and all the horrible things that could happen.

I think you mean well, you genuinely think you're doing what is best for your son, I get that. But when you try to control another human that intimately what you're doing could seriously impact their ability to grow as a person, develop in their lives, limit their potential and I know you are so passionate about the best for your son that you would never want to harm him in any way.
 I think my son is perfectly capable of ‘picking’ a good wife… at least, as compared to me. Indeed, if the common expression of ‘choosing’ one’s wife were literally true instead of being merely a figure of speech [2] I would consider my son fully capable of picking a very good wife, thank you very much. Perhaps not as good as I might pick but, as the picking is purely hypothetical… tis a moot point.
 Your son, from what little I know of him in his interview on your site, seems to be a perfectly nice young man so I have no doubt he could pick. I worry about people that don't have a say in who they marry because they are the very ones that will have to live out those vows they took, that life long commitment that isn't all moonlight and roses. Why should someone else pick for them? Guide them might be a better strategy. I see nothing set in stone in the Bible that says a father picks without any input from the adult child. 

This particular argument falls particularly flat. I think my son was readier to pick himself a wife at fifteen than the overwhelming majority, indeed probably the totality, of these anti-quiverful women are able to pick a husband.[3] Indeed they declare their rebellion to the Biblical qualifications for husbands and the role of the wife quite overtly. The site is dedicated to an open rebellion to a specific verse from God, after all.[4]
 Fifteen is too young for anyone to make such a serious decision with a long term impact no matter how wise that fifteen year old is. It's also very illegal in most states.

Believe it or not many at NLQ are married, happily married for many years. But that verse about a woman submitting to a man has most men skipping the back part which says that the man should also submit to his wife, that they should submit graciously to one another. Many of the times when Jesus was around women or talking to women in the New Testiment it's very clear that He treated women as equal to men, equal in such a way that was outrageously liberal and open minded for a society that treated women as chattel.

So why, then, do I propose betrothal as the ‘right’ way for my son to get married? Why did I think it better for me to ‘pick’ a wife for him than for he to pick one for himself?
Well, first of all, we don’t really have a marriage mart– we have dating and courting. We have two processes which force our young people into relationships which go beyond ‘brother and sister’, and yet are not yet husband and wife. I’m not opposed to, worried about, or fearful any of my sons picking out their own wife. I am opposed to the process proposed for doing it.
My actual ‘fear’ is something that my opponents are well aware of, since they have written articles about it. The term they use is ‘giving away pieces of their hearts’. Many of them were raised on the idea that dating involved ‘giving pieces of your heart away’ and that the end result would be a man or woman coming to their marriage with insufficient ‘heart’ (ie ability to love) left for their spouse.
Dating and courting? Whatever happened to friendship? Mixed outings that have nothing to do with dating? Your son is out in the world, it wouldn't be too hard I would think for him to pray and seek God's wisdom on someone to marry whatever your thoughts of betrothal/courtship/dating. That way doesn't work for everyone. Plus I've seen what happens in parent-picked arranged marriages, Christian ones at that, and it's not an ideal recipe. It doesn't seem to have any greater chance at success than anything else.

One of the things that has always bothered me about the idea of giving away pieces of your heart is that it divides people into "worthy" and "damaged" categories. It goes right back to those thoughts that being judgmental about the possible emotional life of others is awesome.

I think (as they do) the analogy is a bad one. Ironically I would use their very arguments against them when they condemn the Duggars.[5] I am not worried that my children will run out of love during the dating process. Love is not divided, it is multiplied.
Love is limitless and no one has ever accused your children of running out of love. The concern is more that they had bounded choice or no choice in their futures. The same complaint we've had of the Duggars, everything is decided for them and those children have no way to practice any agency or ability to take any steps towards maturity, only to be a mirror for their parents beliefs instead of developing their own.

But I do worry that they will violate the image of Christ and the church.[6] We are not given the impression that Christ ‘checked out’ a variety of brides before he finally settled on the church. Instead we are told He came to ‘choose’ only and all of those His Father had given Him. It is that image we are trying to portray in our human marriages and that is the image that, I am sorely afraid, is being destroyed by our current systems.
I would agree that human marriage is being destroyed and not taken seriously in this world. Which leads to divorce. There must be a return to reverence for marriage. If you're not sure, please don't get married. There are worse things than living a life without a marital partner.

On a purely factual basis, as well, I must say that our current system does not work. My opponents wax eloquent about the consequences of the betrothal system, but have they seen the consequences of dating? The child-murder rate, the divorce rate, the number of children living in single families or, worse, with foster families? Compare that to Scripture… where no Godly man was divorced. Or even the Christians in India, where those that don’t practice dating have an almost zero percent divorce rate.
Marriage is screwed up in this world but as I said earlier it is more due to the lack of reverence to the commitment and our disposable society than anything else. A world that treats people as objects tends to devalue any commitment by those objects. Patriarchy reduces women to objects as much as pornography or the world does. Attitudes towards marriage need to change but you cannot legislate the human heart.

The bottom line, of course, is that my opponents reject Scriptural pattern and precept in building their ideas for how marriages should happen. Scripture does not show the young man, fully ‘ready’ for such a decision, going out into the dating world and ‘picking’ a spouse. It does not show God encouraging or requiring such a thing.
 Nor does it show God requiring the father to always pick a mate for the child either.

People have value and should be allowed the freedom to make the most important decision of their lives without interference of family if that's what they desire. There is no one right or wrong way to pick a spouse.







Friday, September 27, 2013

Skewed View of "The World"

Vaughn Ohlman tried his hand at writing Bible parody to try and belabor his most beloved of points - that children must always trust their father, or in this case the father's servant, to pick the right spouse for them without taking into consideration concerns such as compatibility, sexual chemistry or even something as simple as common interests.

The parody falls flat on many different points but for me there were two huge glaring things that stood out.

First, this is the marriage of Isaac and Rebekah we're speaking of, a marriage that ends with Rebekah deceiving her husband at the very ending of his life by having tricked him into blessing the second son. She was pissed off with Laban because he married two Hittite women. I understand not being happy with the choice of your relative but who does that to their son?  Some cold-hearted woman playing favorites among her children, some role model there.

Isaac wasn't the most honorable guy either, he pretended his wife was his sister because he was afraid of getting his ass kicked in the land of the Philistines. Both Rebekah and Isaac were due some universal reciprocity or karma by their own actions. They both were deceitful.

Yes, Von, universal reciprocity is a real thing. I've heard it preached from many pulpits.

Going back to when Isaac and Rebekah married it states quite plainly that she has to give consent to marry Isaac.

Genesis 24:8  If the woman is unwilling to come back with you, then you will be released from this oath of mine. Only do not take my son back there.”

Genesis 24:54-60  When they got up the next morning, he said, “Send me on my way to my master.”
55 But her brother and her mother replied, “Let the young woman remain with us ten days or so; then you may go.”
56 But he said to them, “Do not detain me, now that the Lord has granted success to my journey. Send me on my way so I may go to my master.”
57 Then they said, “Let’s call the young woman and ask her about it.” 58 So they called Rebekah and asked her, “Will you go with this man?”
“I will go,” she said.
59 So they sent their sister Rebekah on her way, along with her nurse and Abraham’s servant and his men. 60 And they blessed Rebekah and said to her,

Regardless of Von's wishful thinking the Bible clearly demonstrates that there is a measure of the woman's consent that must be considered. Sure, the father had sent for a woman from among his own people but the woman still had the power to say no. In no way does Von's view give a woman any rights of her own, it's all shut up, lay down and put out as the subtext to his views of marriage.

Matthew Henry's Bible Commentary has this to say about consent in those passages:
As children ought not to marry without their parents' consent, so parents ought not to marry them without their own. Rebekah consented, not only to go, but to go at once. The goodness of Rebekah's character shows there was nothing wrong in her answer, though it be not agreeable to modern customs among us.
The second point is a tiny niggling one that has to do more with Von's own assumptions that all retirement homes, or what they used to term 'nursing homes' are horrible places where busy worldly children warehouse the elderly. I would suggest that he hasn't spent any time in the last decade at any of the many options for seniors that either shouldn't or decide they won't live alone or in a family member's home.

To say it is the way of the world to shut away the elderly is another lie he's picked up likely from an unreliable source like Fox News. All fear tactics all the time. These days there are all sorts of facilities for the elderly, such as programs during the day at community senior nutrition sites or adult clubs and daycare. There are huge leisure villages where you can live completely independent or with some level of care. Many places offer all sorts of activities for seniors to keep their minds and bodies sharp, such as golf, dancing, game nights, swimming, and outings. Most places offer on site amenities such as a beauty shop, hot tub, computer area, libraries and activities.

Even with families offering to take care of the elderly relatives many will chose to go into a retirement community rather than expect the family to care for them. There's nothing wrong with realizing you're better served by entering a senior living facility. It breaks no Biblical law and it's not like you are putting your loved one out on an ice floe to die.

It used to be shameful the way the elderly were treated in facilities but no longer. It is a valid choice.

Wake up and smell the espresso, Von. Your parody is flat and dated.