Saturday, May 1, 2021

Josh Duggar Arrested on Possession of Child Pornography Charges.

 I feel sick.   

I worked a long shift yesterday after getting my house cleaned up and didn't look at the news after around 9am.  

I woke up this morning and my Facebook feed was filled with various people telling Anna Duggar that if she's ready to leave Josh, there's a lot of support for her outside in the world.

I hit the internet and found out that Josh has been arrested for possession of child pornography.  

He's got a house filled with small children - and he's watching child porn.

I feel sick.  

Anna, it's time to go.   

You've hung in there with Josh for nearly thirteen years- and he's proven to be a terrible person.

Did he tell you about all the times he molested young women before you married?  Did he tell you that he molested them while they were asleep or too young to explain what happened to parents?   Or did he marry you with a giant secret that didn't come out until you were bonded to him?

In a thirteen year marriage, you've given him seven children - for most people, that'd be plenty of evidence that you've been available for sex plenty.   Instead, he cheated on you - and you had to deal with the fall-out of all of that in the public eye.   On television.   With a newborn.    Has he ever seemed genuinely remorseful for  all you had to do?  Or does he just talk about how hard all of it was for him?

While you were dealing with that with a level of aplomb that was admirable, your mother-in-law was posting that wives needed to be available for sex 24/7/365 days a week to keep their husbands from cheating.   I've had issues with my in-laws before - but that's psychotic.   It's also the type of parenting that raises abusive men, fyi. 

So far, all of Josh's sexual abuse had been "in the past" or aimed at his wife.    At this point, though, Josh is waving all of the red flags of abusing children right now.   And the children he has the easiest access to are your kids.   

Who would they tell?   Most of your family is still trapped in CP/QF land where admitting that abuse happens means that 1) you weren't submissive enough and 2) you need to forgive and show super-human spiritual gifts because of the abuse right now.

You need to go.   Ask your siblings for help - the ones who don't like Josh.    Ask Jill Dillard for advice; she's made it quite far away herself.  Read a book on abuse like "Why Does He Do That?" by Lundy Bancroft or "Protecting Your Children from Sexual Predators" by Dr. Leigh Baker.  Both of them are available for a few dollars on Amazon in the used-books section.   

It's one thing to tolerate an abusive husband who is harming you - although I don't want anyone in an abusive relationship period.   When your kids are at risk - you need to leave.    You'll get a new life, a better life in return - but you have to go first.

Friday, April 30, 2021

Maxwell Mania: Sarah Maxwell's Recovery and New Car!

 Hello!

Back in early February, Sarah Maxwell explained that she had been posting less than usual because she was recovering from a concussion she got while exercising at home.   She had been doing back extensions, overshot when returning to the initial starting position and smacked her head hard on a post.  Her description of a concussion brought back lots of memories for me.

Back in November of 2015, I was in a car accident on my way home from my graduate school program. I was driving north on a busy two-lane road and stopped on a bridge across the Grand River while wondering if the powers that be would ever widen the next intersection to include a left-turn lane with designated traffic pattern because traffic always backed up like this during the evening commute.   I had stopped a bit tighter than I liked to the truck in front of me because I had came up on the stopped traffic suddenly and I looked in my rear-view mirror to see that whoever was behind me was going to stop.  

What I saw was a 3/4 ton or 1 ton red pickup around 0.2 miles behind me going the normal speed of 60 miles per hour.   The driver was looking in his rearview mirror and had not seen the slowdown.   I honked my horn to try and get his attention.   It didn't work - so I prepared for an accident.  I made sure my wheels were dead straight.  I didn't want to hit the truck in front of me - but that was a much less risky option than being pushed to the left into oncoming traffic or to the right into the Grand River.   I took a half-a-second to make sure my seatbelt was low on my hips with the chest restraint in the right spot since I'm short and the belt always seems to be moving on me. I brace my arms against the steering wheel since I'd prefer an arm injury over a head injury.

I looked up to see the driver of the truck realize that he was going to hit me and slam on the brakes, but his reaction was far too late to slow the truck down. I closed my eyes.   I prayed fervently that the accident wouldn't hurt on impact - I'm a wuss about acute pain - and tried to relax my muscles as much as possible.

I was amazed and relieved when the accident didn't hurt at all.  The shoulder restraint caught my torso long before I got near the steering wheel and the car seat was surprisingly soft when it stopped my acceleration backwards.   My car had been shoved forward a few feet by the impact, but my brakes had held and I didn't hit the truck in front of me.   My car was still running and I was able to move it out of the way of traffic.  

In the immediate aftermath, I felt fine.   The accident took place in a slightly more populated rural area of a rural county so we had to wait a half an hour for an available officer to drive in from nearly the other end of the county.    I was decidedly jittery - but no pain or any signs of a concussion.  In one of those strange coincidences, my brother-in-law drove one of the family's cattle trucks by the accident soon after it happened so he called my husband immediately and my husband got to the scene before the officer did.   My husband agrees that I was acting like myself with no signs of a concussion.    

We reported the accident.  I drove the car to our standard auto body shop where my husband who had followed me picked me up..  My car was less maneuverable than I had expected from what I had classed in my head as a "minor" accident - but I wasn't planning on driving it again until it was checked out.  It turned out my car was totaled; the chassis had broken in multiple places and the mechanic was surprised/horrified that I had driven it 10 miles after the accident.  

I was starting to feel a bit off by the time we got home.  I chalked it up to nerves, fading adrenaline and a long day so I laid down and took a nap.   I got up in the evening and started trying to finish my proposal PowerPoint presentation I was going to make to my committee the following week.   I was struggling to summarize each paper.  I kept looking at my notes and the original papers - but I was making a mess of the PowerPoint.     I figured that this was not a great night to work on that, figured I'd be better in the morning and went to bed.

As the night went on, I alternated between wake and sleep - and was showing more signs of a concussion that I was too addled to figure out.   I couldn't remember the order I was meeting with my committee members the next day at first and lost the times I was meeting with people later.   I got up to take some Motrin for the headache that was bothering me and couldn't remember what the bottle looked like.   I read the bottles - and couldn't remember if I needed acetaminophen or ibuprofen.  I think one of the bottles said something like "Compare the active ingredients to Motrin" so I took that one.    I really wished I had an anti-nausea drug because my stomach was upset, too.

By the time my husband woke up at 7:30 that next morning, I was struggling to string sentences together and really dizzy.   He loaded me up in his truck and took me the nearest urgent care.   The receptionist listened to me struggle to answer questions like "What is your name?" and "What brings you hear today?" and went directly to the triage nurse who got a doctor ASAP.  (My husband could hear all of that while he was steering me towards the reception room. )

The doctor recognized that I had a blown pupil on my left side and recommended that my husband take me to one of the two emergency rooms that were a 5 to 7 minute drive away for an MRI or CAT scan to rule out a brain bleed.   I remember the doctor saying something about an ambulance vs. my husband driving me and I knew he was telling us one to be safe - but was softly recommending the other - and I couldn't figure out which one was which.   I decided that I'd just ask my husband to make the decision and my husband told me that we were going in his truck.   When I asked him about  it a few months later, he said that the doctor said that they could arrange ambulance transport if we preferred - but we'd get there much, much faster if he transported me himself. 

We went to the ER.  I was moved into a room quickly.  Doctors did a neurological exam and sent me back to get some imaging done.  My brain looked great - which is pretty standard for a concussion so they loaded me up with some anti-nausea meds and sent me home with instructions on how to gently add more activities and how to know when to back off on activities.

The next few months were rough.   At first, I was exhausted and nauseated.  My speech was slow and halting.  I couldn't read without feeling horrible.  Doing basic chores like unloading the dishwasher took 3-5x as long as normal - and I could only do one thing before needing a nap or I'd get waves of nausea.

The first activity I added back was walking.  I figured the last thing I needed was a bout of depression or anxiety and I knew my legs would start cramping if I didn't exercise so I started with very slow, gentle walks preceded and followed by naps.   

I had my husband set my Kindle font much larger than normal and load some easy reading books at junior high Lexile levels so I'd be able to read to relax again.   

I took up sewing and crocheting in earnest.  My procedural memories were still working fine so I could whip out a cloth diaper for my soon-to-be born nephew or crochet a baby hat even if I couldn't work out the math for what size I should cut the cloth.

I remember the first time I cooked a meal after the accident.  I chose a super-easy one pot meal  where I needed to make a box of couscous, add a can of drained tomatoes and top with sliced pre-cooked sausage.  That's an meal I've made while cooking another meal and cleaning the kitchen all at once; just doing that single, easy meal made me feel like I'd run a marathon.

I remember I could handle talking on the phone far better than reading, writing or watching TV - which came in handy while dealing with all of the appointments that came from the head injury.  I remember the rather freaked out expressions on my professors' faces when super-slow, halting speech Mel came into to school to fill out some paperwork to get a medical withdrawal.  I remember getting completely confused, disoriented and scared on my first trip to a slow grocery store on a weekday morning; I couldn't process all of the stimuli.

The accident was in early November.  The soonest I could get in at the regional concussion clinic was mid-January.     The timeline of when I was able to do different things is fuzzy - but by January, I was able to read and write again as well as talk on basic topics without noticeable impairment - and the headaches, nausea and fatigue were gone.  The part that was killing me was waiting until I could perform at the academic level I was used to - and the slow process of learning to drive again.   

I re-learned to drive by taking my husband's pick-up truck around the local roads at night.  My most vivid memory of that is having to figure out which lights I could see mattered because they were headlights compared to lights that didn't matter because they were street-lights.   The most bizarre thing about the concussion was that my procedural memories were all intact even though my declarative memories were shot.   In other words,  I had no problem getting into a truck, starting the engine or driving the truck - the only thing I struggled on was processing what I was seeing and what that meant.

The concussion clinic was anti-climatic.  I was given a short battery of very basic memory tests - the type where the proctor tells you three common words and sees if you can remember them a few minutes later - and a slightly more challenging processing test.   I passed both with flying colors and was pronounced to be functioning at the expected level for a 34 year old woman.  I remember saying something like "but I'm nowhere near functioning like the 34 year old woman I was before the accident" to the doctor who went over the results.   She was sympathetic - but said that the fact that I had healed as far as I had meant that my other skills would return given more time.  She compared it to how healing would look different from a desk worker compared to a professional athlete after a bad leg injury; the desk worker would be able to use their leg for their job much sooner than the athlete - but that's because the athlete is asking the leg to do a whole lot more than the desk worker.

The clinician was right.  I was able to start reading academic history books again within the next month, could make decent notes on education journals by February and was pretty much at my previous level by early March.  

That's a four month recovery from someone with a known history of brain damage due to prematurity. 

 Needless to say, I was freaked out when Sarah Maxwell disclosed that she was having headaches and nausea some days six months after her concussion - and had a major relapse when she smacked her head on some cabinets.  (Ouch!  Been there; done that; no relapse, though.)   I was really worried that her doctor told her that her self-care regimen was fine and was working a bit on the headaches.

Thankfully, in her most recent post, Sarah said that the doctor pretty quickly let her know it was time to see a specialist.   My family doctor got me signed up ASAP - but my family doctor is in the same hospital network as Mary Free Bed - a really good inpatient/outpatient rehab hospital that houses the Concussion Clinic.  Sarah had a 5 week therapy and medicine regime with them and seems to be doing really well now.  

Ironically, I had been wondering about how credit scores for stay-at-home daughters work.  It's not unheard of for someone who is 25 to not have much of a credit history - but Sarah is 39.   Most of us have at least a car loan or a student loan or two we paid off by that age.   By Sarah's age, a lot of middle class families have a mortgage as well.     

As I was thinking about that, I realized the biggest hurdle isn't the part-time, family based employment for the Maxwell daughters. 

No, the issue is their father's obsession with living completely debt-free - even though he admits that he was unable to do that in "Buying A House Debt-Free: Equipping Your Sons."

That line of thought smacked firmly into the fact that Maxwell's unmarried daughters have been sharing the family car.  Notice that Sarah refers to the family car in the singular tense - there's only one for Steven, Terri, Sarah, Anna and Mary to use.   

Now, the Maxwells will tell you that the girls don't have cars because they don't need one -  but that's highly unlikely.   Leavenworth, Kansas is not known for their public transportation options and the Maxwell's neighborhood looks to be residential without any commercial buildings in easy walking distance.

More honestly, the Maxwell parents raised their daughters to be minimally employed and unable to socialize with peers due to excessive sheltering and fear of being attacked or seduced.   Those traits will make it seem like their adult daughters don't need cars - but the lack of independent mobility also works to keep their daughters infantilized by adding complications to finding outside work and forcing their daughters to justify all social outings to their parents.  

I'm glad that Sarah Maxwell got her very own car.  That's a first step towards adulthood and a small step towards more freedom from her enmeshed family.


Friday, April 23, 2021

Maxwell Mania: Sheltering Our Children (and husbands.....) - Part Two

  Hello!

I'm fighting a mild stomach flu bug.  It's nothing that's going to kill me - but I'm already tired of eating saltines.  

It's been a crazy week.  My father-in-law tested positive for COVID last weekend and was hospitalized for a few days.  He's doing better now.   Apparently, he got his first dose of a two-dose vaccine but hadn't received the second dose yet. (His age group has had the vaccine available for several months here in Michigan, so I'm not particularly sympathetic when everyone I know in his age band was vaccinated in February.)   

So far, my sister-in-law has tested positive and my brother-in-law is waiting on his results.  This also mean my 4-year old nephew is stuck at home for the foreseeable future since he could be an asymptomatic carrier which means he's not getting the in-person therapies at school that have helped him a ton. 

Needless to say, I'm angry and rather crotchety right now.   The only reason I'm not incandescently furious is that by a sheer fluke no one in my immediate family was around my father-in-law long enough in the two weeks prior to risk infection.  (The only day my son normally would have been around him was the day that my mom-in-law and I went to the zoo.  She's fully vaccinated + several weeks out.)  

So, yeah.  Disgruntled writer on the loose.  That means it is a great time to take on the second half of Terri Maxwell's "Sheltering Our Children" article.  The first post covers a series of quotes that I'll summarize as "Men are horn-dogs who can barely keep it in their pants as is so it's everyone else's job to keep them from having a spontaneous affair."  The second half continues that theme while building on the Maxwellian belief that even grown-ass men can't handle hearing about sinful practices second-hand without being tempted:

Our twenty-two-year-old son volunteers one night a week at the City Union Mission in downtown Kansas City. In addition to being exposed to secular thinking in his work place, he is exposed to the real world at the mission. He is ready for this challenge. He has a one-on-one Bible study with one of the residents. We have encouraged him in this ministry, but have cautioned against such things as listening to details of immoral, or evil, practices.
Nathan's always had a smidge of a wild child in him that the Maxwells couldn't crush out of him.  In their book on childrearing, they allude to a time they sent Nathan to a teenage computer camp - or something like that - for two weeks and when he came home he wanted all sorts more freedom!   

Oh, the horrors!

Since then, everyone has been sent out in packs of Maxwells beside Sarah who was allowed to sporadically go visit married friends who needed respite care while having their 4th or 5th kid before the oldest kids were of an age to be useful.  The catty side of me thinks that the Maxwells couldn't bring themselves to make a different family pay for room and board for another adult daughter for two weeks under the guise of protecting Sarah.

Back to Nathan.  The Maxwells were sure as hell not going to let him slip up again - so when he worked as a computer support rep at the same company that Steve did - the two of them carpooled 70 miles each way every day.   That's a really long commute even for the Midwest where we're pretty car-centric.  By comparison, I have a 20 mile commute and a lot of people pity me for that.   My dad and I commuted together sometimes when we were both teaching at the same summer school program - but not every day.  We each had outside obligations and social commitments so somedays we each took our own vehicles.  Somehow, I doubt Nathan was allowed the freedom to take his own car to go out with co-workers after work.....

Nathan might have gotten some freedom when he took a job at a different major employer in the Kanas City area - or not.  If he was still living at home, Steve keeps a tight grip on his sons until they marry.

Here's another great example of Steve's need for protection:
Another example of our philosophy of “protectionism” involves not only our older children but also Steve. Steve chooses to not have lunch alone with another woman, or ride alone in a car with one, even when business related. One might ask if this means he is not strong in his faith or not independent. Of course not!
Nah, it just means that Steven is discriminating against female coworkers because he's afraid that his overwhelming attractiveness and suave conversational skills combined with being in the incredibly sensual environment of his high mileage economy car will lead to adultery.

To paraphrase the incomparable Alison Green of "Ask A Manager" -  you can accommodate religious beliefs by doing social gestures with everyone or no one.  If you cannot shake hands with members of the opposite gender, then shake hands with no one.  Yes, it will be slightly awkward - but much less offensive than shaking hands with three guys then refusing to shake hands with one woman.  This holds even more true with refusing to go to lunch with a female colleague alone.   In that case, she's being punished by less access to places where connection and mentorship happen because Steve is afraid of his dick.   Which  makes him A Dick - but I doubt he'd get the irony.  

The more I learn about Maxwell the less surprised I am that he didn't make it through a major downturn in aerospace construction in the late 1990's.   The fact that he was convicted and purposed to start his own business at that exact moment was a coincidence, I'm sure.

Next up: how the Maxwell daughters got trapped as superfluous virgin aunts:
As far as our daughters go, I wonder how many of us developed independent spirits during our college or working days. Has this made it more difficult for us to submit to our husbands in the meek and quiet way we would like? A family shared with us their concerns for their daughter after she began working. They said, “One of our goals for our daughter is for her to have a submissive spirit to a future husband, if she marries, but we are also training her towards an independent spirit.” They did ask her to stop working, sharing their heart’s concerns, and she was willing.
Terri Maxwell would not be on any list for wives who are independent.   To the best of my knowledge, she caters to Steven's whims even when they are directly harmful to her or the kids.   

She supported Steven's desire to reverse his vasectomy and spent fourteen subsequent years of her life depressed while raising eight kids.

At the same time, she was homeschooling her kids who were old enough despite clearly not enjoying homeschooling.   She had objected to homeschooling soon after she brought the oldest three out of private schools - but she caved nearly as soon as Steve asked her to continue.  This lead to the Maxwell Schedule and Maxwell Homeschooling.   The Maxwell Schedule is where a person pre-plans their day in 30 minute increments from the planned time of waking up to the planned time to go to bed.   The Maxwell Method of Homeschooling is the bleak logical next step: the parent decides what section of a textbook kids should read, which questions or worksheets they should answer and which tests they should take.  I assume the parent is around to answer questions - but this is far less interactive than a kid would receive in a bad public school classroom today.

She did fight slightly harder to keep Nathan and Christopher in sports - but Steven won out in the end as well.   

Did she have any energy left to fight by the time the kids were of courting age?  Probably not.  

Maybe the Maxwell girls are glad they've not married.  Their sisters-in-law seem to be doing ok - but the specter of untreated severe depression must hang over their childhood memories even if they don't consciously realize it. 

Did the other girl get married?  Who knows.   The Maxwells don't do follow-up very often.

Finally, one area the Maxwells have succeeded in:
Does this mean we keep our daughters in our house and never let them out? No, but it does mean we determine the learning, working, and ministry opportunities that will best help them toward their goals. One of our goals for all of our daughters is that they would remain holy and pure. When I hear worldly teens, and even some Christian teens, talk these days, I am very saddened by the crudeness and impurity of their conversation. I would hate to have my daughter in an environment where she was constantly exposed to that.
Their daughters have certainly remained pure.  (Also underemployed - but that's a whole other ball of wax.)

Unfortunately, becoming a wife and mother in CP/QF land does require having sex - albeit under the purifying action of married sex.   

The Maxwells seemed to have struggled hard with Jesse's wild-and-crazy idea of getting married, selling his debt-free house, and living in an apartment before moving to Kansas City.  (Actually, none of that is wild or crazy - but cultic living warps views.)   

With that much stress and wringing of hands around Jesse moving out of the neighborhood. I would not want to be around the first time the parents got together with their newly married daughter after she had sex.   They've spent so much time and effort on infantilizing Sarah, Anna and Mary that seeing one of them as sexually active adult women might cause some very ugly feelings and actions to rise to the surface.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Maxwell Mania: Sheltering Our Children (and husbands......) - Part One

 Good morning!

We are into the spring crazy time of year at my home improvement store.  I worked in the garden department for four hours today.  During that time, I sold three riding lawn mowers - which blows my mind.  I used to be really hesitant in talking to customers about large-ticket items that were for sale because I didn't feel like I knew enough about the products. 

To remedy that , over the slower winter season, I used downtime at work to research the major selling points of the models we carried in each brand - and I was surprised how much that increased my confidence. 

We're not sales people - I would hate to work under a required amount of sales per week - but I do like being able to help people who have decided that they want a riding mower find the best option for their lives.   

I also gained a lot of time at the Service Desk which has benefited my sales ability in a way I didn't expect.  Lawn tractors and zero-turn mowers generally need to be either ordered online or set up as a "Will Call" to be picked up when the person rents a trailer because relatively few people own a large enough vehicle to transport the new mower home.    Both of those methods of selling are done by service desk workers - but few garden associates are trained service desk workers.  This meant that the garden associates had to find a free service desk worker to finish the customer's order.   I, on the other hand, can find the right tractor for a customer and complete the order which saves a lot of time for everyone.

I didn't have time to transcribe a section I was hoping to this weekend because I covered an extra shift when so a coworker could attend a funeral.   Instead, I'm treating myself to the low hanging fruit that is Terri Maxwell's article "Sheltering Our Children" published on March 1st, 1999.  This was published after two articles where Terri described how the Maxwells slowly removed their kids from all interaction with outsiders.   There must have been a tiny bit of pushback - this was before the Maxwells disabled comments on their website - so Terri attempted to explain their rationale.     

The result is a great example of how sexual gatekeeping sits weirdly with the ideal of male headship.

Here we go!

The past two months’ Mom’s Corners have made me wonder if some of you may be thinking, “This sounds like too much sheltering to me. Shouldn’t we teach our children right from wrong as they grow up, and then let them sink or swim in the real world?”
Um....that's not what the rest of us do, Terri.     That's what CP/QF parents do when their kids finally become full-adults - but that's not what the rest of us do.

We teach our children right from wrong - and we let them move about in the real world.  This means that the first times that our children get conflicting messages from people outside of our family group the stakes are generally very low.   

I've worked diligently to suppress my vague unease around certain insects because I want my son to view insects as a normal, healthy part of the environment.    I have worked hard not to kill any insect if I can help it - and express a sense of remorse on the rare occasion when I do.  

And by the second week back at school this year, my son (in cahoots with his entire class) has decided that "bugs go squish!"    I found this out when we came home from school one day and saw a box-elder bug on the steps.  Spawn asked me what it was.  I told him.   He said - in a very sweet voice - "Oh, how nice!"   then yelled "SQUISH!" as he stomped on the insect.

He's getting two responses to insects.   

Did I yell at him for squishing the bug?  Nope. 

I said, "Oh, we don't squish outdoor bugs in our family" in the same calm, gentle tone of voice as I say other great moral lessons like "Please don't pull on Mama's ponytail; it's attached to my head" and "I love how you are pretending to be a puppy, but please don't lick the floor."  (Yes, the last one is more a social norm than a moral lesson - but please don't lick my floors; I know where we've been.)

Did I pull him out of preschool when I dropped him off the next day and his classmate was refusing to go on a piece of playground equipment unless an adult squished the insect on the equipment?   Nope.

I asked the teachers if I could use a piece of wood to remove the spider and show it to the kids.   With their permission, I showed the ones who wanted to look the eight legs on the spider and moved it to a safe location to eat mosquitos.  

Spawn's getting two responses to insects now - and eventually he'll get different responses to inclusion, sexuality, and recreational drugs.     My hope is by walking him through how we make our choices based on our values when he is very small he'll have an idea of how to do it when he is larger, too.

Subject change: Terri Maxwell and I have very different opinions on affairs:
How many of you have known a godly man who has fallen into immorality of some kind, perhaps adultery? It happens to pastors, deacons, elders, Sunday School teachers, even homeschooling dads. Do you think these men purposed to be unfaithful to their wives? I seriously doubt it!
Terri wrote this when I was 18 years old - and even that young, I would have called this as bullshit.

Yes, Terri, those men purposed to be unfaithful to their wives.   

Did they sit down one night alone in the living room and say "Yes, I am going to find someone to have an affair with tomorrow!" followed by a Montgomery Burns-style laugh?   

No - at least I hope not - but having an affair is not an accident.   It's not like tripping over a shoelace or slipping on some ice.   Being attracted to someone is far more accidental; a lot of physical attraction is simply a matter of unconscious preferences.  

Actions, on the other hand, are conscious.   A married man who is attracted to a coworker can choose to stay professional, on-task, and restrain conversational topics to the same level of intimacy that he has with coworkers who he is not attracted to.   If a woman flirts with him on a business trip, he can ignore the signals or let her know that 's he's unavailable because he's married.    That should work fine at stopping the relationship's momentum as long as the man is clear that he's not going to act on his feelings.   

Compare that view of male responsibility to female responsibility found a little later:
Unfortunately, the girls today are very aggressive, and while we discuss with our sons the need to guard themselves, we would not want them placed daily in the path of temptation.
Married men who were in positions of spiritual leadership had affairs - and Terri Maxwell claims that those men didn't plan or set a course that lead to the affair.

Teenage girls, on the other hand, are ravening man-eaters who will seduce and betray a virginal Maxwell son. 

Now, those girls are single and therefore can be involved in a romantic relationship with another single person without any condemnation from societal or religious mores - but Terri Maxwell slut-shames them far more fiercely than she condemned the men who broke a Commandment.

That might be because she's never detoxified her thinking from the 1950's - or it might be because the stories her husband has told her about his coworkers are wild:
Despite the better working environment of the corporate world, my husband has been happy to leave it, with its immodesty of dress, aggressiveness in women, and the propensity toward doing whatever is deemed necessary to get ahead.
I bet Maxwell's former coworkers love to hear that Steve's been telling his wife that he worked with wild party girls who wore bar-hopping outfits to work.   The bitches who weren't actively trying to seduce him were proteges of Nurse Ratched.   Meanwhile, his male coworkers were trying to outdo Gordon Gekko and - although Steve was too delicate to discuss it with Terri - everyone was snorting lines of cocaine in the bathroom.  

On a similar note, I have a pet unicorn named Starshine who I ride to work.   At night, Starshine snuggles up with our pet Tauntaun Chomp-Chomp.  *rolls eyes*

Seriously, he worked at an aerospace contracting company.   There might have been some solid angling for promotions - but I've never heard anything too horrible about his former company.  Similarly, the women he worked with most likely wore clothing that was more flattering than the tube-jumpers that Terri was sewing en masse for her daughters during this period - but that says more about how unflattering tube-jumpers are for every body type than anything else.    I do wonder how much of his condemnation was reserved for when people told him to knock off trying to convert people related to his job- or they'd go to HR?  
   
Well, that was fun.  Have a great day!

Friday, April 16, 2021

Joyfully At Home: Chapter 16 - Part Four

Good morning!

I'm nearing the end of my vacation and have got nearly none of what I hoped to get done - but I had a lot of fun and feel far more rested than I have in months so I'm satisfied.

Spawn and I went to the zoo with his paternal grandmother and had a blast.  Spawn is so much more mobile than the last time we went to the zoo that I was blown away.   As always, I brought our stroller - and he clambered in and out of it without any help.  The zoo has a small petting zoo area.  Spawn has always been a bit agnostic about petting animals; he likes looking at them - but generally doesn't want to touch them.   

This time, he decided he was going to chase chickens.   He'd look up at me and say, "Mama, let's run and chase chickens!"  I'd say, "Sounds good!" and we'd take off at a fast walk (for me) and a wobbly run (for him).   

Whenever he'd get close, he'd pipe up, "Chicken!  Wait!"  Unfortunately, the chickens didn't respond to that by waiting.

If he got close to a stopped chicken and the chicken started walking again, he'd say "Chicken!  Come back, chicken!"   

At no point did the chickens come back.  I have no idea who was training these chickens, but they don't respond very well to verbal commands from strange 4-year olds.   :-P 

He was so adorable I kept giggling.

Occasionally, he'd stop chicken chasing to go talk to the goats and sheep.   "Goat, how are you today?  Are you sleeping?  Time to wake up!  Oh, you are asleep."

Eventually, he decided to pet the goats - who felt like a dog according to Spawn - and he touched the sheep who were very soft.   

I petted a chicken.   The petting zoo chickens were so tame that one teenage girl was able to catch a hen and pick her up - but I didn't want to tempt fate.  I don't think Spawn petted any chickens; he enjoyed being able to chase an animal that was much smaller than him - but every time I broached the idea of petting the chicken, he looked at me as if I was insane.

I had a great time with my little boy - who I often cannot believe was the tiny, fragile baby I cradled on my chest in the NICU - even though he is.

Over time we all grow and change.  Jasmine Baucham mentions on her adult blog that having people read chunks of "Joyfully At Home" to her is awkwardly painful because she doesn't believe a lot of the same things as a woman in her late-twenties as she did at 19.    

I think nearly everyone can agree with that.  I often tell my husband that I am incredibly grateful that no one thought I should write a self-help book at age 19 or 20; I'd hate my book as much as she does.  

This next quote is one that didn't age well after being rather priggish and self-important when it was first written.  
But what about missionaries like Amy Carmichael, Gladys Aylward, and Mary Slessor?

I know a lot about these women. They were all heroes of mine growing up! (...) My opinion of women missionaries in no way invalidates the sacrifices they made, or that the sacrifices did, indeed bear great fruit.

However, I am not a pragmatist -- just because a Christian has done something that bears fruit, does not mean that there is a Biblical provision for that action. When I approach the question about the biblical validity of a female missionary, I try to approach it from a Biblical perspective, not necessarily a historical perspective, because even God's people are prone to misunderstanding his precepts.

These women were brave. They were incredibly virtuous, and they loved God with all their hearts. But that does not mean that they were above ignorance of the Lord's precepts, or above correction. We will never know if the same work could have been done by different people in different ways at different times, because the Lord ordained to use them, even if they were misguided. (pg. 193)
Allow me to paraphrase the quote:

Question: What about well-respected female missionaries who practiced the kind of service that Jesus preached while remaining single throughout their lives?

Response: While I cannot fault their works or the fruit thereof, they failed miserably because none of them conformed to the ideals my family preaches!   If they had stayed at home, gotten married and raised a brood of kids, God would have totally brought a man in to do the exact same thing they did.  Instead, they destroyed God's Real Plan - which I as a 19 year old stay-at-home daughter am privy to more than those women."

Now, I knew nothing about these three women - but the fact that a CP/QF writer disapproved of them is always a good sign in my opinion.

I've done some cursory research into their lives and here are the major themes in their lives:

1) Extensive work experience outside of their homes:  None of these women lived anything like a sheltered middle class life prior to entering missionary work.  Amy Carmichael's family planted a church in Ireland and she was intimately involved in working with girls who worked in the local mills.  By age 20, Miss Carmichael had expanded the building of the planted church by finding a single donor to buy a $500 prefabricated building that would hold 500 people at a time and by finding a mill owner who donated land to build on.  Gladys Aylward worked as a domestic worker from her teens until she was 30 years old to save up enough money to travel to China.  Mary Slessor's father was an alcoholic so she and her mother worked in the mills to support the family.  Slessor was working 12 hours shifts by the time she was 14.   

Ms. Baucham may have objected to working beyond the confines of a family - but self-reliance is an important skill that working gives women and helped these missionary women in the field.

2)Willingness to adapt to the culture of their new country:  All three of these women were raised in British or Irish homes but recognized that the local culture had equally valid traditions.  Amy Carmichael dressed in Indian clothing and gave rescued children Indian names.   Gladys Aylward spoke fluent Chinese and became a naturalized Chinese citizen.  Mary Slessor learned fluent Efik, ate local food, dressed far more simply than required by missionary codes, and lived among the people rather than at a mission station.  

American culture is fine for America - but Christianity is about more than forcing everyone to adapt American middle-class cultural norms regardless of what CP/QF leaders believe.

3) Attempted to facilitate change in cultural traditions that were harming local people:  Amy Carmichael provided homes and training for women and young girls in India who were members of the Dalit caste involved in prostitution.  Gladys Aylward worked with the Chinese government to monitor the progress of ending foot-binding for girls while caring for orphans.  Mary Slessor brought change in abandonment of twin babies into an area where that was still practiced while bringing vocational training opportunities to the local communities.

There's a saying attributed to St. Francis that I love: "Preach the Gospel always- and if necessary, use words."   This saying causes preachy theologians and priests to start explaining that we are really allowed to verbally teach people about the Gospel - but I think it provides a needed push-back against sermons without action.

4)Single motherhood:  Amy Carmichael spent 55 years raising girls who had been engaged in prostitution and the children born to women engaged in prostitution.  Gladys Aylward adopted several orphans, gave them meaningful Chinese names, and lead nearly 100 orphans through mountainous territory to avoid Japanese occupiers in the Second Sino-Japanese War.  She was particularly annoyed by a movie made on a biography written about her life because her movie character leaves the orphans at the end of a movie to follow the male love interest to another country.  This was particularly galling for a woman who prided herself on never having kissed a man at age 60.  Mary Slessor adopted and raised at least four abandoned babies.  

I often think single women adopting children is the largest threat to the CP/QF way of life.  After all, the 'prize' of motherhood in CP/QF land is the main carrot dangled out to sweeten the gall of being a subservient wife for the rest of a woman's life.    If a woman can become a mother without being a wife, why sacrifice her freedom?  Normally, the answer is an aghast "Sex outside of marriage is immoral!".   Well, ok, but then why not motherhood without sex?  These women pulled it off - and they seemed to have a lot more freedom to choose how to live their lives than, say, Terri Maxwell.

One last thought:  Young Jasmine objected that each of these women blocked the "correct person" - who is obviously a married man with pastoral training - from doing God's Work.   

That assertion ignores the fact that none of these women were working in areas that could be described as the mythical 'uncontacted people'. 

India was a colony of Great Britain nine years before Amy Carmichael was born.  China had been aware of Christianity for a millennia prior to Gladys Aylward. Similarly, traders had brought the ideas of Christianity to Nigeria overland and by sea for hundreds of years before Mary Slessor.  Each of these women joined existing missions in the country they served - although Gladys Aylward wins an award for crazy amounts of pluck in getting to her mentor.  

In other words, there were already enough white dudes in the area trying to convert people.   

What Carmichael, Aylward, and Slessor brought to the table was a recognition that women can often work in different ways than men can.  Raising children is often viewed as the major contribution that women bring to societies - and each of these women was able to tackle an area of humanitarian reform that fit under the scope of women's purview.   

Relatedly, I suspect the women's willingness to raise local children opened far more doors than standard missionary work.   Mary Slessor said as much when explaining why she was welcomed and incorporated into the local government of the people she approached.  (That and her willingness to drop all of the colonial cultural ideas when she realized that they were not serving the community she wanted to serve.)  Now, I suppose the local mission could have sent in more male missionaries - but since all the previous ones had been killed - Mary Slessor's methods are both effective and life-saving for more than one group of people.....

How many people did they convert?  I have no idea - but I suspect that their willingness to care for the "least of God's people" did more for interesting some people in Christianity than all of "The Good Person" Tests ever have.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Joyfully At Home: Chapter 16 - Part Three

Hello, friends!

I'm enjoying mellow spring weather here in Michigan.  My job has a use-it-or-lose it policy for paid vacation time so I'm taking this week off to use my hours before they expire.   My son and I are going to the zoo tomorrow and I am cautiously optimistic that I can get my garden ready during this week as well.

We're in the middle of Jasmine Baucham's self-help book "Joyfully at Home".  In Chapter 16, she makes a game attempt to define living as a sheltered, dependent stay-at-home daughter from after high school graduation as exactly what Jesus meant when he told his disciples to go out and make believers of all the world.

Needless to say, the result is less than convincing.

These last two posts in the chapter deal with two questions about missionary work for single women.  These two quotes are about a broad question if single women should spend the years before they marry to do work in the mission field:
I take issue with young women traipsing off to the mission field less because of my beliefs about womanhood then because of my beliefs about disciple-making. Long-term missions are far more effective than short-term, and church planting ( from my perspective) is the work of men. When entire families plant their lives on foreign soil, they minister to foreign communities in a whole new way. They impact entire families instead of just individuals. They change the tide of a culture instead of a few people.  They perform hospitality and show people Christian family life -- what are Christian culture -- looks like. (pg 192)
I agree in part with Jasmine; long-term missions are far more useful than short-term missions and the best missionaries plan to become members of the community in which they work.

We disagree with nearly everything else.  

First, church-planting is the least important and relatively easiest job in the mission field.   Running a church is pretty much fundraising, caring for members and leading worship.   All of those require some skill - but many pastors in the US essentially work as part-time ministers and have additional jobs.

The reason that long-term missions are more successful than short-term missions is that long-term missions have the time to find out from local community members the major problems the community is facing.  The missionaries, then, work at creating solutions to problems in areas like education or health.   In my church, missionaries are primarily members of religious orders who are adults who have taken vows of chastity.   The vow of chastity is to devote their energies to God - but as a side-effect - these are adults who do not have to burden a community with a dependent spouse or children.   The absence of a traditional nuclear family lets the sister or priest focus all of their career energy on their missionary work.

On that note, wouldn't it make more sense for a single man or woman who wanted to be a missionary to settle in their new country, marry someone from that culture and raise their family there?  I find it exceedingly hard to believe that a single woman missionary would be unable to find a man in the local community who was also Christian.   There's going to be more areas of tension in the marriage on paper - but a spouse who understand the local community and who can raise any children as full members of the community they live in is going to be more useful in spreading Christianity than two Americans who think that hospitality is a virtue found only in middle-class American household.....

Is the purpose of missionary work to spread Christianity or to spread American culture as interpreted by CP/QF adherents?  Ms. Baucham seems to be confusing the two and skating very close to the erroneous that Christianity comes with an obsession with nuclear family.

This next quote inadvertently points out how little a SAHD is honestly capable of helping out in her community:
Ministry in and through the home is simple. The Bible has given a clear directive for that as well: hospitality (Romans 12: 131 Timothy 5:10Hebrews 13:21 Peter 4:9).   Mothers without children have opportunities to invite families into their home several times a week to get to know them and minister to them; they can volunteer at their local crisis pregnancy center, counseling other women; they can help other women in their church who have children and may need a break; they can go out and witness to the sick and aid the elderly. Wives of missionaries across the world can do the same for unreached people groups. (pg. 192)
None of the cited verses support a SAHD whose family throws a barbeque for the local church twice a year in my humble opinion.  

I don't know if Baucham's editor missed something - but why is this entire paragraph about "mothers without children?"  Did she mean "women without children?"   That kind of makes sense - but it makes even more sense as "women with grown children" - who are really not the audience of this book. 

Even in the United States, the idea of sending members of the stay-at-home daughter cohort out to do these jobs is painful.   

As an wife and mother, I do not want to go to a young single woman's house to hear about how I'm raising my kids wrong or how I'd doing my relationship with Jesus wrong.   It would be doubly surreal to be lectured to by a young woman who is living at home in her twenties while not pursuing a career or education.

I can't imagine how a single woman who has been raised to view bearing children as her entire life goal would be good at crisis pregnancy counseling; the physical, psychological and financial costs of pregnancy and infant rearing are real and having a very sheltered, very na├»ve young thing tell me about how great motherhood is (based on her non-experience) might cause me to lose my mind.   Or start yelling while crying; I really don't miss pregnancy hormones.

Please don't witness to the sick; they're having a hard enough time without having to pretend to listen to a spiel about Jesus from the Evangelical Glee Club.

I will accept the SAHD girls club might be passably good at giving mothers breaks and aiding the elderly in household chores and errands.    That is something my siblings and I were expected to be able to do by age 16 - but SAHDhood is mostly about preventing women from growing beyond early adolescence prior to marriage so that's a feature, not a bug.

I've been waiting for the next post for a while; Jasmine attempts to teach her readers about why famous female missionaries did it wrong - and comes across as an entitled brat rather than an educated woman.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Joyfully At Home: Chapter 16 - Part Two

Hello!


We had a fun Easter egg hunt for my son and my nephew yesterday.   I was struggling to figure out how to make the event fun for both boys.   My nephew is high-energy and likes to run around a lot.   My son is fairly low energy and needs support to walk.   I wanted to make sure that my son had a chance to find eggs but didn't want my nephew to be stuck moving at the speed of my son.  

I ended up putting two eggs (or two toy cars) in each hiding spot.  Now, the boys are four so I dropped the eggs in easy to spot locations and we still needed to lead them about to help find all of the eggs.  I hid a few sets of eggs right next to the starting area and demonstrated that each boy got one egg.     I assumed that my nephew was going to run off pretty quickly - but he and Spawn actually stuck pretty close together and worked well as a team.   My nephew was great at picking up the eggs and putting them in a basket.  He'd also bring eggs he found back and put them in Spawn's basket.   Spawn, on the other hand, is built to search out an entire area carefully before moving on - so he'd find egg stashes that my nephew had missed.  Both boys had a blast and their shared grandmother got plenty of photos for her albums.

I'll let you know when the egg hunt ends.  I hid five sets of cars - but we only found four.   I have no idea where I put the last set - but I'm sure we'll find them soon.  :-)

We are working our way through Jasmine Baucham's chapter on how being a stay-at-home daughter (SAHD) fulfills the Great Commission in Matthew 28.   Her answer - in a whole lot more words - is that being a Christian Patriarchy/Quiverful (CP/QF) middle class family is fulfilling the Great Commission.    The reason she needs a lot more words is her dogged attempts to drag "normal daily life" into "major ministry contributions" like this relatively short quote:
The most obvious way I can think to do this would be to show hospitality to strangers ( Hebrews  13): visiting missionaries who need a place to stay-- unchurched neighbors-- those in need. We use it to train up children who may set up their homes in other states or on other continents as headquarters for ministry ( Psalm 127). We use it for a place to recharge and refocus after we've been out doing ministry in the community. (pg. 188)
 The first group - visiting missionaries who need a place to stay - is unintentionally ironic since adult Jasmine gets to see her parents twice a year when they return home from Zambia for furlough/fundraising. 

For a wider audience, how many visiting missionaries are there per year to room and board compared to the number of families in a church community?    Jasmine's family probably got more than their fare share since their family was small for a long time and her dad was the minister - but I'd be really impressed if their congregation had more than four visits a year.   

As for showing hospitality to unchurched neighbors and those in need - I agree that's bona fide Christian ministry work - but how do families pull that off while sheltering their kids from the malign influences of the unsaved?  Unchurched neighbors probably watch TV!  The women likely work outside the home!  OMG, they might have advanced degrees and no family business!    That's why I'm highly skeptical that much official ministry work gets done out of most CP/QF homes; the main thrust of the homes is to shelter children so effectively that they never have a chance to rebel against their parents' chosen lifestyle.   Interacting with people who need ministry makes sheltering kids much, much harder and a whole lot of this system is set up to make life easier for the parents.

I love that one example is kicking the can down the road.   Yeah, we're not doing ministry right now, but the kids who are being raised will do real ministry at some date in the future!   Spoiler alert:  that's not terribly likely.   Most of the former SAHDs who are my age are raising a family like their parents did while the women who remain SAHDs in their 30's and 40's are settling into the role of the spinster aunt of Victorian times.

Maybe Jasmine realized that kicking the can down the road was a cop-out - but she's very slim on details of what the ministry that is so demanding that people need to recharge at home entails.   

This next quote reminds me that Jasmine's surrounded by teenage and very young adult believers.   May God save us from being surrounded by the very young and very immature:
Even if your parents are "weaker" believers than you are - if you were saved first, or you have more conviction in certain areas that they do -- honor them by praying to the Lord for their spiritual growth, and letting them know that they are in your prayers. Instead of being puffed up in a sense of pride, model honor and submission before them, and encourage them as they grow in grace. Even if your dad is new to leading the family in family worship, for instance, do not laugh at any awkwardness he shows, or snicker when he trips over his words or become frustrated because you think 'other dads' could do things better. The Lord gave you the father you have or (sic) a purpose, and that man is precious in God's sight, especially when he's striving to carry out the Lord's commands in his family. (pg. 190)
Good Lord.  So young and so cocksure about their moral superiority over their own parents.

Being saved is not like seniority in a workplace.   A teenager who was saved 6 months before their parents does not automatically qualify to be the spiritual director of the entire family.   (Although I can see how teenage me might have been confused by that.  Life is linear, right?  Effort in gives direct result out, yeah?  I'm so glad I'm not 15.)  

If you are saved - or whatever the correct term is for a given denomination - and you are making fun of a new worship leader who is learning the ropes of leading prayer time,  you really have a long way to go in term of maturity.

But most importantly of all: don't tell your parents that you are praying for them to become more convicted or for their spiritual growth.    There is no way to say that sentence as a dependent member of a family structure and not sound weirdly passive-aggressive.

"Ok, Mom.  I understand you are not as convicted as I am about the importance of wearing skirts.  I'll pray for God to further your spiritual growth."

Yikes.  

Monday, April 5, 2021

Joyfully At Home: Chapter 16 - Part One

Hello!  Happy Easter!

At the end of February and beginning of March, Voddie Baucham had to return to from Zambia to the US for emergency medical treatment.   In Zambia, they had determined that he was in heart failure - but I'm not sure if the doctor was able to determine the cause prior to encouraging Baucham to travel as soon as he was stabilized back to the States to seek advanced care.  The original itinerary was nearly two weeks of travel; thankfully, one leg was able to be done much faster due to seats opening up on a flight.  

That reduced travel time likely saved his life.   

By the time Baucham arrived in Florida, he was in severe heart failure and had to be hospitalized in the cardiac ICU within a few hours of arrival.   

I was very worried for him and his family when a reader flagged that development for me.  (Thank you!).   Heart failure is often due to irreversible structural damage - and I was highly concerned that Baucham was facing a life-shortening diagnosis.   

Thankfully for Rev. Baucham, he was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation (A-Fib) which is when the upper two chambers of the heart (the atria) have an unorganized beat pattern compared to the two lower chambers known as ventricles.   Most people have a sensation of their heart racing or uncomfortable palpitations while also feeling fatigued or short of breath - but atrial fibrillation can be symptom free.   

The issue with A-Fib is that the disorganized pumping means that the heart needs to work harder to pump blood - and untreated A-Fib can lead to heart failure due to that increased work load.

The good news is that Rev. Baucham's doctors believe that the A-Fib caused the heart failure which means that he should have an excellent recovery after having surgery.    The surgery is fairly simple for a cardiac procedure; the doctors use a catheter to destroy areas of the right atria or pulmonary vein that are sending the wrong electrical signal.  

I feel like I've said this a lot this year - but while I disagree with nearly every statement ever made by Baucham - he's got a large family depending on him along with a wife and two adult children who love him a lot.   I sincerely wish him an easy, quick and full recovery.

We are beginning Chapter 16 of Jasmine Baucham's book "Joyfully at Home".   Ms. Baucham devoted a quick chapter to defending stay-at-home daughterhood from the charge of "How does that square with Jesus' Commandment to go out and make disciples of all the world in Matthew 28:19-10?"   

Jasmine's response is "Christianity means living like a middle-class American who is a bit out of date on cultural references and ignored the history of women working outside the home, right?"  

As an answer, that sounds a bit off - even to a very sheltered 19 year old woman - so she occasionally makes a point that illuminates far more about how Christian Patriarchy/Quiverful adherents view the Bible than it does about the topic at hand:
For me, whenever I receive that question, I always point out, for most, that Matthew 28:19-20 is not the only passage in God's Word. Titus 2:3-5, Proverbs 31:10-31, Ephesians 5:22ff; 6:1-4, Deuteronomy 6; 1 Peter 3:1-6 tell us that the Christian family is to be a priority to God's people. (pg.186)
For traditional Christians - and in this case I mean every Christian who supports some form of literary analysis of the Bible - not all books of the Bible are created equally.   

The four Gospels are written specifically about Jesus' time on Earth.   Those four books have higher authority than any of the other books within the Bible.   The Old Testament is important for understanding how God has been faithful to Israel through the generations and for the messianic prophecies that Christians believed were fulfilled by Jesus.   The books of the New Testament outside of the Gospel are important for seeing how early Christians dealt with emerging theological and practical question.   All of these other books are important - but a contrary statement in the Gospels often quashes scads of references in other books.

To explain it a bit more bluntly, Ms. Baucham's response is "I know Jesus' said to get out of your homes and convert people - but a bunch of other people said that I could stay home and I'm going to follow them."

This kind of slap-dash use of Epistles (primarily) to support an insular, female-subordinate home-focused life is part of the reason why some people - including me - believe that CP/QF adherents have actually become Paulines - people who follow the writings of the Apostle Paul in lieu of the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Here's Jasmine Baucham's launch into explaining why living in an American family as a CP/QF stay-at-home daughter is totally what Jesus meant by "Go out and make believers throughout the world":
Imagine, though, a different sort of place: home as a hub for ministry and discipleship. Home: where children are brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, diligently trained to impact the world outside their doors. Home: headquarters for visionary men to lead and inspire their families. Home: the domain of visionary women who desire to bless their families, their churches, and their communities. Home: the place were those who understand the critical importance of a strong biblically functioning family unit to the well-being of society flourish. (pg. 187)
Oh, I don't have to imagine it; Jasmine has described a pretty average American household.  Parents are running a household and raising their kids.  Kids are being raised while being kids.  To make it more CP/QF, Ms. Baucham jazzed up the jargon by adding "visionary", "biblical" and references alluding to Christian churches - but the family with children she's described is pretty standard issue in most communities.

My bigger question - how many CP/QF families are fundamentally different in more Christian ways than the average American families?  

CP/QF kids are brought up to change the world - but the first wave of the perfectly raised generation is is in their mid-forties and the results are underwhelming.   

- The Duggars:  Josh Duggar abused his sisters and cheated on his wife.   Nine of his siblings have married; John David seems to be over his family of origin and his sister Jill has had a falling out as well.   John David seems to have started his own construction work business.  The rest of the sons are working in their family business.

-The Botkins: One son started a family business that is supporting five siblings and his parents.  One son has left CP/QF; two are married with kids and in CP/QF.   The business son and one brother are still single as are both daughters.   Their ministry output is non-existent unless you count Geoffrey Botkin's obsession with QAnon as a new cult as I do.  

-The Maxwells: The family seems to have started two thriving computer businesses along with a vanity-press disguised as a ministry and a few failed businesses.  The two thriving businesses have scrubbed all mention of Christianity from their sites.  Three of the sons have married women who are much less sheltered than the Maxwells and seem to be raising their children in more "worldly" ways.  The youngest son sold his house when he married and is living in an apartment - which is approximately equivalent to Satan-worship in the Maxwell home One son married a woman who could out-Maxwell the Maxwells.   The three daughters are unmarried.

-The Bauchams:  Voddie and Bridget Baucham moved to Zambia to raise their still-at-home members of their family.   Jasmine married, has two sons and works part-time for a homeschool co-op.  She seems happy enough and has visibly rejected several of her family-of-origin's beliefs like Voddie's belief that racism in the US doesn't really exist.  I don't know how her younger brother is doing - but I worry less about him simply because the Bauchams seemed to take education a bit more seriously and Jasmine was able to get a college diploma which bodes well for her brother.

-The Mallys:  Sarah and Gracy Mally genuinely started independent ministries.  (They are literally the only people I can think of who did.)  Grace Mally married in her early thirties and has an infant daughter.   Sarah Mally wrote a book recently and got married in her early forties.   Both women look happy - which is nice to see.

The funny thing is that I don't begrudge the families I blog about here following their own lifestyles.  I think the lifestyle is harmful - but I do believe that adults have the right to choose how they live.   I just wish they'd offer the same grace to the rest of us.    I know my family has benefited from post-secondary education for me and my husband.  If nothing else, it caused both of us to delay marriage until we had some workable adulting strategies in place.   Raising my son has been a challenge and a joy - but I occasionally wake up in a cold sweat when I dreamt that I had Spawn when I was 22....or worse 16.... instead of 35.   Having another decade of life and work experience made caring for Spawn workable - especially becoming his medical scheduler and undertrained PT, OT, SPL and psychologist.   

I am planning to get back into "The Battle Of Peer Dependency" by Marina Sears - but the chapter we are in right now is such a stream-of-conscious rant with ADD subject jumps that reading it and finding quotes is a bit of a nightmare. 

Good news is that Geoffrey Botkin produced a darkly funny video about how to prepare for the dangers of the Biden administration where he explains how he procured multiple passports for his family.  I transcribe a bit and read it aloud to my husband.  We then laugh immoderately for a few minutes.   It's a nice way to kill some time on rainy days.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Babbling Botkin: What If My Husband Dies? Part Sixteen

 Hello, dear friends! 

I received the Janssen one-dose COVID-19 vaccine on Friday!   

I hadn't expected to be called up for vaccination until sometime between April and May of this year, but Michigan opened vaccination to parents and in-home caregivers of children with special needs on March 8th.     Even then, I didn't think I'd qualify because I assumed that the target group was kids with medical needs rather than developmental needs.   Thankfully, my son's PT told me that any child who needed in-person therapies at school or outpatient rehab was in the group the health board was targeting.    The rationale was simple: my son isn't at high risk - but he goes to school and PT with kids who are very high risk so vaccinating his parents expands the zone of safety around those kids.

I received a updated questionnaire on Friday, March 19 and completed it the same day.   On Wednesday, March 24 I received a email telling me to choose an appointment time and place for Friday, March 26.   The closest location only had times in the evening that conflicted with my work schedule but the second closest location had appointments available all day.     Because that vaccine is stable under the same conditions as the influenza vaccine,  a local grocery store with pharmacy was running appointments out of their pharmacy.   

For me, it was easier than getting my yearly influenza shot because the pharmacy had pre-completed all of the paperwork before my appointment.   

In terms of side-effects, I had more side-effects than most flu shots but much less than I got from the tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis vaccine earlier this year.    I started running a fever within two hours of the shot which is pretty standard for me.   Unlike the flu vaccine, I couldn't get the fever to break using NSAIDs.    I was fatigued and feverish for most of Friday and most of Saturday - but not so sick that I couldn't take care of my kid for the basics when my husband was at work. I stayed home from work Friday and Saturday.  The fever broke around 7pm on Saturday night.   I'm a bit tired - but I'm also fighting off the same cold that my son has so who knows?   My right arm where I got the shot is decidedly sore; I can use it, but rolling over onto it at night is painful.   By comparison, I was still running a fever, all of my muscles were aching and I had a 2inch by 2inch welt where I got my tetanus shot.

On that note, let us finish up with Geoffrey Botkin's video advice column "What If My Husband Dies?"   With my dark sense of humor, the title makes me want to reply "Well, clearly, you're screwed."

I digress.    

After 16 minutes of listening to a rambling monologue about re-written history and the idyllic glories of a family business, someone is clearly signaling to Botkin that he needs to stop.    A father who has set himself up as the master and commander of his family-based cult can lecture his offspring for as long as he wants.   You-Tube viewers, on the other hand, are not going to watch a 45 minute video with less than three minutes of unique content.   

Let us enjoy his attempts at finishing up a question about what a woman should do if her husband dies:
[00:16:01] Young boys, yeah, they should know about things like COPD which can kill, you know, good, strong men.  So, all boys, and I'll try to wrap this up now, should be preparing to launch themselves into responsible manhood at the earliest possible age.   You know, and what is that? I.... you know,,,,centuries ago, the typical date that was in the minds of parents and children and young boys as they were being trained at 13 you become a man.  At thirteen, you get to step into the real world.  At thirteen, you get to carry your arms if you are responsible and this is how people thought back then and we've really destroyed that idea now but there's no reason why we so misunder...muh....underestimate the ability of children to really grow up and take on really huge responsibilities.  Understand things.  Be able to learn things at young ages.  Much younger than we typically feed it to them in today's society. 
Back in Vision Forum's heyday of the early 2000's, Botkin could spin his dream of CP/QF families raising sons and daughters to maturity by age 13 without any discordant notes.   His children were either young teens or elementary school aged kids - so of course Botkin was going to be able to launch his kids perfectly at a Biblical mandated age!    Plus, an unforeseen benefit of extensively sheltering your kids is that parents don't have to compare their kids to anyone else's kids.     Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin's ability to write a full-length non-fiction book in their teens looks spectacular at a glance.  The fact that the book is a series of poorly researched essays that pad the length with multi-page quotes from published authors knocks the shine off the accomplishment.   

Actually, I can't imagine turning in an essay with a multiple page quote from another author.   In secondary school, I'd have been given a very poor grade for padding the assignment.  By college, I understood that if the topic I was writing on was so well encapsulated by someone else's writings, I should pick a different topic. 

I digress.

Hearing the same song-and-dance about how to correctly raise children from Botkin in 2020 is darkly amusing.    For a CP/QF son, full adulthood is reached when the son is able to marry and support his wife and children; the fact that he'll remain in CP/QF is assumed.    For Botkin's first two sons, the plan got them married and producing a few kids.   They work in the family business and seem to be onboard with CP/QF life.    The third son is married, has kids, and is the only member who is employed outside of the family business - but his family seems to have left CP/QF behind.  His wife posts pro-LGBT and pro-BLM posts on her Facebook feed - which must make family gatherings with Geoffrey Botkin a hoot.   The two youngest sons are unmarried in their twenties.   One of the single sons founded T.Rex Arms - the paramilitary business that supports his oldest two brothers and (I assume) the rest of this family of origin besides Ben.    The youngest son seems to be killing time  keeping up the family websites which is arduous in the extreme since most of them are defunct.  

So....he's launched two sons out of five to be married, employed CP/QF husbands and fathers.   That's not great odds considering the amount of effort the Botkins put into sheltering them.

His odds with his daughters are worse.   The Biblical admonition for daughters was really simple: marry them to men in the faith so they can raise families of believers.   Both of his daughters have been marriageable for 15 years - and neither of them are wives and mothers.    

He's got seven adult children - and a whopping two of the seven have reached adult status under the restoration Biblical rules that Botkin loves.    No wonder he's joined QAnon as a new cult rather than admit the miserable wreck he's done at raising his kids to the standards he espoused just a few years ago.

Minor production note: I'm a firm believer in doing a practice run prior to taping anything.   Botkin's understandable whiff when he substitutes "COPD" for "COVID-19" is the kind of unforced error that a practice run can eliminate. 
 [00:17:02] And so..... (jump cut) Boys should not be planning to be dependent on anybody.  So what is their plan on growing up?  Now, this is good thing to talk about.  "Boys, what are you thinking about? How are you going to step into manhood?  How are you going to launch yourselves into manhood?  We've provided these things for you; now what are you going to do to really make that a powerful fuel to launch yourselves into adulthood.  So work this out now with them and your husband as a family.  And the family can rely on this strength no matter what happens.     Thank you for writing to me.
I keep feeling like some bone-headed preteen is going to build a cannon out of a felled tree and black powder in his backyard if Botkin keeps harping on about "launching" kids into adulthood.

Look, most of us don't get launched into adulthood.   

We push off from shore like a canoe entering a lake from shore.     

The first bit is wobbly and uncertain because the same shallow waters that keep us safe if we fall make it harder to pick up steam.   For most young adults who circle between independent living and moving back with parents, the relative uncertainties of the labor market, little personal assets and no adult partner to increase household income, make it hard to pick up steam.   

On the flip side, those same drawback allow young adults to pursue more career options in wider locals than settled adults.   

Over time and with more experience, we move deeper and deeper into adulthood and away from the shores of childhood.   By that point, we've picked up the skills in managing our boat that we can handle stronger currents and waves without capsizing instantly.   

In spite of our skills, sometimes we capsize.   

We lose a job,  people divorce, a family member needs extensive care.   An adult - and an experienced canoeist -  knows that capsizes happens - and all we can do is get the canoe turned over, the people back in the canoe and head to a safe location to drain the water.

Being able to care for others, develop a plan to mitigate an unfortunate series of events, and the ability to recognize that this too will pass - that's the mark of adulthood.    

Not the ability to carry a gun.   Not the ability to snare a husband.  Not the ability to bear a child.   

Boys are not men at 13 - and that's ok.   Girls are certainly not women at age 12 - and that's ok, too.

For the original LW, I hope you and your family are in good health. By the time you wrote Botkin in July was over, the most dangerous part of the pandemic was over.   We handled it poorly in the US - but by July - we knew how to remain safer.   Stay home.  If you cannot stay home, stay 6 feet apart while wearing a mask.  Wash your hands before removing your mask and before eating.

I hope you listened to your husband's pulmonologist and followed the guidelines they set out for him.  

If your husband did catch COVID, I hope he had an uncomplicated illness with a quick recovery.

If he passed away, you have my deepest condolences.    

Please - don't ask Botkin for advice.    




Monday, March 22, 2021

Babbling Botkin: "What if My Husband Dies" - Part Fifteen

Hello!

I'm sorry I disappeared for a week and a half.   I had an unexpected outbreak of atopic dermatitis and needed to go on prednisone.   Normally, prednisone doesn't bother me much - but I was nauseous, jumpy and an insomniac this time through.     I mostly feel like myself again finally.

During the same time, Spawn's had another big jump forward in his confidence in walking by himself.   Like a lot of kids, he doesn't like to try a skill in a new place or in front of people until he's comfortable - and he's started walking short distances in new places.   At the local restaurant he waved my hands away when I reached out with the statement "Leave it alone.  Maybe do it later!" as he started walking towards the exit.   The regulars were so excited for him - and so was I.  

Thankfully, we are close to the end of Geoffrey Botkin's video titled "What if My Husband Dies?"   He's spent a lot of time rambling about how important he thinks a family-based business is and how important it is for a father to plan out exactly how he wants the kids raised - but none of that's particularly useful for keeping a roof over the heads of a family if the business is not profitable.

He's just finished encouraging women to figure out how much more money they could make in a family business rather than in low-wage jobs - of which I am skeptical - when he launches into this major subject change without any transition:
[00:15:02]  Part of life is protecting life the best you can and sometimes.....sometimes men....sometimes men are required to go off to war to protect homes and families and nations.   During those time periods, everyone knows they can die and maybe never come back.  And small boys know this.  It's a reality that they face, they talk about, they kiss their daddies goodbye at the train station when their dads are going off to war.  They know about this.  There's no reason why young boys shouldn't know about this kind of probability right now and talk about it.
Wait - are we talking about family businesses, foreign wars, or risks of death during a pandemic?   

I'm assuming this is an attempt to bring back the idea of the letter writer and her husband talking to their sons about their father's COPD and the increased risk level he has if he gets COVID - but what a strange way to re-introduce the topic.   CP/QF families are so staunchly individualistic that they don't join organizations where someone else would be able to give them commands like the military or a police department which makes Botkin's willingness to trot out military families ironic.

I think being open with the boys as far as their age allows about their father's higher risk of death due to COVID is a good idea.   I would also talk about what the entire family is going to do to help keep Dad safer like wearing masks, social distancing and washing hands.

I think it would also be a good idea for the sons to be aware of how much their life will likely change if their dad dies as well.  I don't see a way for a family with many small children with presumably limited assets to have a mother who is a full-time stay-at-home mom who homeschools especially once the youngest child is old enough for full-time public schooling.

[00:15:40]   I mean , these are the truths and realities of real life.  Life is short.  Life is fleeting.  We may not be around tomorrow.   If, if, if Dad's gone tomorrow, what would life look like?  Boys, would you be able to take care of your mom? Would you know what to do to take care of your mother.?"
Throughout this video, I've often felt enraged on behalf of Victoria Botkin. 

Like a lot of CP/QF moms, she's done the heavy work in her family for decades. 

She's given birth to seven children.  When she was hemorrhaging after having a home birth with Anna Sofia,  Geoffrey's response was to pray over the ovaries of her newborn daughter.   Geoffrey's told that story so many times publicly that  it's the opening vignette of Joyce's book on Quiverfull.   

She homeschooled her large family while Geoffrey was busy playing religious leader, lobbyist, media mogul, religious leader and pretend advisor to the president.   She's created plenty of media about homeschooling and worked the homeschooling conference circuit for decades.   I'm sure the income that she's brought in has equaled or exceeded the amount that Geoffrey brought in in certain years.    

And yet, when a question comes in about how a woman could support a smaller family after her husband's death,  Geoffrey never bothers to loop his wife in.   

Would Victoria Botkin be devastated if her husband died?  Of course she would.   

Would she have been able to take care of her family?   I believe she would.   She was already pulling more than her fair share of the responsibilities in the family between child-rearing, homeschooling, keeping up a home and running a small business while  Geoffrey dabbled in whatever new brilliant plan this year brought.

Would she need her sons' help?   I think that depends entirely on how many small children were in the house more than anything else.    Her oldest sons' ability to work part-time jobs as teenagers would have been a large help when there were still elementary school aged kids to be supported.    In one of those ironies that point out the flaws in the idea of "every man should own his own business" the son whose business is supporting most of his family members is the second youngest kid in the family.   To my way of thinking, that would mean that most of the family would have needed to get jobs as teenagers to help keep enough income coming into the family.    Geoffrey Botkin would be horrified at the idea of his precious, super-sheltered children mixing with the common riff-raff - but the kids would have likely benefited from that exposure.   

If nothing else, the Botkin offspring would have picked up that the family's habits of photographing the unmarried daughters and sons cuddled up together accidently sends a message in the US that those people are a romantic couple rather than available adults to be courted.    Different families are comfortable with different forms of affection - and that's great - but the conventions of formal family photographs in the US are that single adults stand without anyone's arms wrapped around them.  Married and committed couples stand together and are usually either turned towards each other or have some visible contact.    When Anna Sofia and Elizabeth sent an overwrought letter to Cindy K. years ago bemoaning how many romantic relationships never happened in their family due to her blog, I remember thinking that the family had probably had more damage done from friends of friends seeing the family Christmas picture and thinking "Oh, how nice that all of the Botkin kids are married now!" instead of "Huh, that cute Botkin girl or boy is still single.  I should mention that to so-and-so."

Such is life - and I've digressed a bit.

We are almost at the end of this series and I've not heard from the one person who could probably give actual advice - Victoria Botkin.

Maybe ask her for advice next time?