Monday, June 30, 2014

Preparing to Be a Help Meet: The Prophet - Part 4b

I'm gonna keep slogging through this chapter.

He will easily pick up and relocated without any idea of what he is going to do for a living at the new location.

That ended really well for the Pearls.

In his zeal for the truth, he may end up splitting the church.  He may be fanatical in his demand for doctrinal purity and proper dress and conduct.  Like a prophet, he will call people to task for their inconsistencies

I'm descended on both sides from a long line of stubborn opinionated people.
We have our quirks, but we've never split a local church apart in order to bring everyone to the truth.  Plus, if your children are hungry, doctrinal purity should drop to the bottom of the list of important topics.

Seriously.  Do not marry a person like this unless you enjoy poverty, loneliness and drama.

I am sure it was men of this caliber who conquered the Wild West.  They would have been the mountain men and explorers, going over the next mountain in search of knowledge and adventure. They would not be farmers who settled in one spot.

This reminded me of the less heroic stories that came from European expansion across the Plains.  I'm remembering stories of families whose husband was described as a 'drifter' or 'wild one'.  The family would start  farming somewhere with decent land.  The family would start having bad crop years which the husband blamed on bad land while the neighbors blamed it on the husband's sloth or incompetence.  The father would hear about better land in some western state, sell out the farm and move.  The cycle would repeat from the crop failures over and over again. 

It never ended well for the family.

Often the difference between a productive Prophet and a destructive Prophet is a good, supportive, stable woman.An unwise wife with negative words can turn a Prophet into an antichrist, an inventor into a destroyer.  Every...I say every Prophet needs a good, wise, prudent, stable wife who has a positive outlook on life.

Oh, great!  If your husband is a crazed lunatic, it's YOUR fault.

No, I don't buy that at all.  

Come to think of it, my husband is a little like a Prophet. [She then repeats the house = scraps = trailer = cows story, but removes the details.]

Debi, your husband is an abusive, narcissistic psychopath.  We'll learn more about those types in the King chapter, I know, but let's not kid ourselves. 

Your husband has never been counted among the 'productive' Prophets and never will be.

Greatness is a state of soul, not certain accomplishments.  Thomas Edison was great after his 999th failure to make a light bulb, though not recognized as such. The Wright brothers were great when they neglected their  lucrative occupation of fixing bicycles and 'wasted time' trying to get one of them to fly.  If the light bulb had never worked and the plane had never flown, and no one remembered their names today, they would have been the same men, and their lives would have been just as full and their days just as challenging.  Did Edison's wife think him great when he used his last dime on another failed idea?  If she didn't, just think of what she missed.

*slow claps*

Nice punt attempt, Debi.  Too bad it went out-of-bounds.

Edison had TWO wives - which is obvious from a cursory search on Wikipedia.  I'm assuming from a series of Rutgers articles on the subject that Debi is talking about his first wife Mary.  His financial troubles didn't come from his experimentation - that was completed by 1879.  His financial troubles came from trying to defend his patent - which took until 1889 to get straightened out - and prevented him from moving forward on producing the light bulb.
Who knows what Mary thought about the light bulb fiasco?  It's hard to say since Mary died in 1884 - and most likely was far more disturbed by the idea of leaving her three children under the age of 13 than anything about the light bulbs.

His second wife Mina also complained about Edison's long hours away from the house.

Why are we using Mary and Mina Edison as examples again?  

In a canny move, Edison teamed up with the British inventor who had a pre-existing patent for a similar light bulb to prevent an additional patent war.

Does that sound like a man who would tear a church apart over doctrinal purity?

What about the Wright brothers' wives?  Oh, wait.  They never married.

The Prophet man needs his woman's support, and he will appreciate it when it is freely given.  Without her, he feels alone.

Spouses like getting support from each other.  This is not ground-breaking news - or limited to Prophet-types.

This guy will be a little hard to live with at first.  Big, wild fights are the usual beginnings if a nice, normal girls marries one of  "the weird ones".

No.  That's NOT normal.  If you are in a relationship that has 'big, wild fights', please seek professional guidance from a licensed therapist.

Best case scenario is that you both learn better communication skills and enjoy a long, mostly happy, married life.  

Worst case scenario is that you married Michael Pearl and need to extract yourself ASAP. 

Either way, get help. 

I had really hoped I could finish off this topic in two posts, but Debi's got some bizarre pieces of advice in the next section and they deserve their own post....

AntiPearl: An actual Thomas Edison quote - "Genius is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration."

Preparing to Be a Help Meet: The Prophet - Part 4a

In this chapter, we get a series of stories and anecdotes about what living with a Prophet/Visionary Man is like.  I am certain 90% of these stories come from Debi's actual life with Mike Pearl...and that's depressing.

I'm just going to go sequentially from the beginning of the chapter where Debi has spoken about how an unbalanced Prophet/Visionary Man can get the whole family upset over issues.

You will hear them going on and on about issues like whether or not we should celebrate Christmas.  Should we accept a license from the state?  Should a Christian opt out of the Social Security system?  Why go to a doctor? No birth control!

Many opinionated people go through a phase like that.  I remember when I was a new teacher going out to a local watering hole after work with friends and having wonderfully heated arguments about minor life issues.

I still enjoy having conversations like that. 

The important bit, though, is that you need to be able to turn off the academic, pedantic arguing side of yourself when it comes to real-life decisions like getting medical care or opting out of Social Security.   When the stakes are high, rhetoric needs to stop.

If you marry one of these wild-headed fellows, expect to be rich or poor, rarely middle class. 

Another moment of truth from Debi.  Keep that in mind that if you follow her advice, you will be poor.  

He may invest everything in a chance and lose it all, or make a fortune.  He will not do well working 8:00 to 5:00  in the same place for thirty years, then retiring to live the good life.  If he works a regular job, he may either not show up half the time or he will work like a maniac 80 hours a week and love every minute.

Reality check:

  1. If your spouse is wiling to risk EVERYTHING, be sure YOU are comfortable risking everything.  In Debi's world, the wife is going to have to pick up the slack - and since women have no real marketable skills in CP/QF, that means you better enjoy grinding poverty that never lets up.
  2. If you work at a "regular" job and only show up half the time, you will not have that job for long.  
  3. Question deeply why someone cannot hold a job or is a repeated, epic failure at entrepreneurship.  I dated a man who kept losing jobs - even jobs that "no one had ever gotten fired from before" in the pointed words of a mutual friend.  After a brutal break-up, I realized that I had been deeply in denial about how severe his depression was and was ignoring the fact he was an alcoholic.   That relationship hurt me and I needed to spend a lot of time working on looking for red-flags.  Thank God I didn't marry him.
  4. Work-life balance is important.  Be sure you understand what an 80-hour work week looks like - and that you can handle being alone much of the time.

Now we get a real-life story that I am sure comes from Debi's life:

He may purchase an alligator farm in Florida or a ski resort in Colorado, or he may buy an old house trailer for $150 with hopes of fixing it up and selling it for $10,000, only to find that it is so deteriorated that it can't be moved.  He will then have his wife and all the kids help him tear off the top and carry the scraps to the dump, saving the appliances in the already crowded garage, so he can make a farm trailer out of the axles. 

*Laughs and laughs and laughs*


If your husband comes home with a plan that nets 6500% profit in real-estate, be sure you have the property appraised before you buy.  Be sure that you can move the house safely before you fork the money over.  

Good idea on keeping the appliances - if they work. You might recoup the $150 that way.   I'd have asked if the local fire department wanted to burn the trailer as a practice drill before tearing it apart - you'd save the money on the gasoline used to haul the scraps and the time of ripping it apart.

How exactly is he going to make a farm trailer out of the axles?  My husband and I agree that it is theoretically possible, but you'd need welding equipment and welding skills plus sheet metal. 

Now that he has a farm trailer and no animals, expect him to get a deal on three, old, sick cows and .... he may never be rich in money, but he will be rich in experience.

*Thumps head against desk repeatedly*

I live on a dairy farm.  Take a wild guess what is the least important piece of equipment on a small farm.  If you guessed "farm trailer", congratulations!  You are smarter than Mike Pearl!

Interesting fact: "Old, sick cows" don't live long enough to be sold - even to your gullible neighbor.   Once a cow is "old" (which is usually after her 3rd lactation or 6 years of age), an illness will kill the cow in really short order.  The older cows just don't have that much metabolic reserve left.

So how did the Pearls end up with three "old, sick cows"?  I have a theory.  Their oldest daughter, Rebekah, recounts

When my family first moved near the Amish community in TN, I was 14 years old. The first winter we had cabbage, wheat, raw milk, and canned cat food or poor quality tuna (the cans were missing labels when we bought them and we couldn't tell for sure if it was cat food or tuna.) 

Imagine you are the neighbor of this new family.  A family of 7 move in nearby and are clearly in bad financial straits.  They've got nothing and the kids are looking too skinny already.   The husband is a jerk, but the wife seems reasonably intelligent and you remember what it was like being a hungry child.  You have a good size dairy herd and had a few low producing cows that you were planning to sell out of the herd once their milk production dropped anyways.  (A low-producing cow can still easily produce plenty of milk for family use for really long periods of time.) The wife could probably figure out how to sell some of the extra milk or make cheese or something.  The family could graze the cows on their land during the warm months and you can find something for the kids to do on your farm to 'earn' enough to cover forage during the cold months.  All you need to do now is figure out a way to get the family the cows without hurting their pride because pride might be the only thing they have left right now.  You offer the jerk of a husband a deal on your 'old, sick cows" and drop off food when you can.

Why didn't the neighbors call CPS?  I don't know.  If they were Amish, they may not have known about CPS.  Even the "English" neighbors may not have known that not having food for your children is neglect...I don't know.  I wish they had called CPS.  But I am glad that the Pearl kids got that milk.


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Preparing to Be A Help Meet: The Prophet - Part 3

Last time, I gathered up all of the general descriptions of Prophet / Visionary Men that Debi sprinkled through Chapter 3.  Now, we get to move on to the specific examples of what life with a Prophet/Visionary Man is like according to Debi.

The Prophet type will make a great boyfriend because he will focus totally on his sweetie.  He will be very romantic, giving you flowers and gifts.  If you catch the heart of a Prophet you will be his consuming passion, his greatest challenge, his dream come true.  

In other words, the Prophet is in love with being in love with you.  That's not a great foundation for marriage.

A few weeks after marriage, though, his focus will turn to other challenges.  As his new bride you will feel abandoned.

Sounds lovely.  Debi sure knows how to make marriage sound appealing, doesn't she?

It is important for all girls to understand this great truth regardless of what type you marry: You need a life, a vibrant life, before your man comes on the scene.  A clingy useless wife that lacks drive, goals, ambitions or dreams is just that - useless.  Right now, do you have a life with purpose?

I wholeheartedly agree with Debi that women need a life with drive, goals, ambitions and dreams.  The difference between Debi and I is that I believe that all married women can still have their own drive, goals, ambitions and dreams.  For Debi, autonomy for women ends at the wedding if you marry a Prophet or a King.  (There's a nice little loop-hole:  Marry a Priest-type man.)

[Side note from the Visionary Man] A girl who lives a static life of waiting to be married is not attractive.  Think what it conveys: "I'll just sit here idly while waiting for someone to come and give me a purpose, and a house and money and food and make me happy and love me."  It's very needy.  A man wants a companion, not a sympathy case.

Oh, wise Visionary Man, please wander down off your mountain and grace us with the answer to one, tiny, insignificant question:  What do you want her to do in the meantime?

She can't go to a real college; she can't work outside the home in a meaningful way; she can't date; she can't pursue a career; she can't move out on your own.  Working as a nanny / junior teacher / housemaid at home is agonizingly boring.

If you want to marry someone more interesting, Visionary Man, give women a chance to grow.  If you want to control their lives absolutely, don't whine when your wife isn't perfect - you are not attractive when you whine.


Back to Debi.

[If you have a life], then when your new Prophet/Visionary husband suddenly becomes focused on some strange, new, driving project, your life will go on smoothly and happily.  Of course, as a wife you will still need to be ready to "ooh and aah" when he does come back to share his new vision with you.

What a terribly disjointed life.  A new wife follows whatever she's interested in, drops it when her new husband wants her attention, then takes it back up when his attention drifts off again.
Notice Debi never recommends that the husband make any sort of effort to connect with his wife.

When he does turn his attention back to you all the other wives will be jealous, for you will have the most romantic man around.

That's a truly pathetic prize to dangle out in front of a struggling young wife:  "Hey, don't feel bad - when your husband gets around to noticing you, the other wives will be jealous."  Whoop - de - fricking - doo - dah.

In (sic) you are fortunate enough to catch the attention of a Prophet/Visionary guy, you will never be bored.  In fact, you should be just a little bit reckless and blind in one eye if you are going to enjoy the ride.  If you end up with one of these guys, you need to learn two important things: learn how to be flexible, and learn how to always be loyal to your man.  You will be amazed how much happier you will be and how much fun life can be if you learn to go with the flow - his flow.  Life becomes an adventure.

But is the adventure worth the price?  Debi tells us some real life stories in the next installment of Chapter 3.

No partner in a love relationship should feel that he has to give up an essential part of himself to make it viable.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Preparing to Be a Help Meet: The Prophet - Part 2

In the next three chapters, I am covering portions of the chapter out of order because the information in each chapter is written in a chaotic style that zips about like a hummingbird in a hurricane.
In the last post, Debi dragged us through a theological swamp to explain how all men are created in one of three types which mimic the three-persons of the Trinity.  Today, we get to learn how The Prophet/Visionary Man / Holy Spirit's image on Earth works.


*stares blankly at the screen and reads the written portion aloud repeatedly*

A prophet is a human person who speaks the will of God.  

If God is a prophet, that means there is another God out in the cosmos somewhere who we will get to know through the God who uses prophets on Earth.   That sounds like a really complicated system, but Debi's already implied that God is not all-powerful, so perhaps multiple Gods need to band together to run things.

 He made some men in the image of that part of his nature. 

Let's accept that statement as a premise for now.  My mom and dad would tell me stories about being confirmed in the Catholic Church prior to Vatican II.  At some point, they got to memorize two lists:  The Gifts of the Holy Spirit and the Fruits of the Holy Spirit.   My siblings and I, living in the degenerate times post Vatican II, never had to memorize the lists.  (For which we are grateful - that's one of the gifts, right?  Or is it a fruit? Um.....)

Gifts of the Holy Spirit (based on Isaiah 11:2-3) are:

  • Wisdom
  • Understanding 
  • Counsel
  • Fortitude
  • Knowledge
  • Piety 
  • Fear of the Lord
Fruits of the Holy Spirit (based on Galatians 5:22-23) are:
My husband wants to try and make a pie out of the Fruits of the Holy Spirit now......
So, logically, the Visionary men should be paragons of the Gifts and Fruits of the Holy Spirit.  Let the counting begin!  Each example of a Gift/Fruit gets 1 point; each blatant lack of one gets a point taken away.

Some of you will marry men who will be shakers, changers, and dreamers.  One word that describes them is Visionary.  They see what can be and seek to change things.
The Prophet or Visionary is "the voice crying in the wilderness," striving to change the ways things are done, or change how humanity is behaving or thinking.  Prophet-type men are street preachers, political activists, organizers and instigators of any front-line social issue.

How about the men (and women) working to legalize homosexual marriage?  Would Debi see them as actors for the Holy Spirit?

They love confrontation, and hate the status quo.

That's a +1 for fortitude, but - 1 for lack of peace and -1 for lack of gentleness.

Good-hearted Prophets can be a lot of fun.  They are never Mr. Dull.  They can love with a passion and be aggressively loyal to their friends and family.  They can take the lead in calling the world to repentance and showing them a path of righteousness.

Add +1 for joy, +1 for love, +1 for piety, and +1 for fear of the Lord.

However, if they are not balanced, these Prophet/Visionary Types may get fanatically focused on one or two weird issues and, in the process upset the entire family.  (...) They may be extreme in their separation from the world. The issues they focus on may be serious and worthy of one's commitment, but, in varying degrees, these men can have tunnel vision, tenaciously focusing on single issues.
Ouch, that's gonna hurt the point total.  Add -4 for lack of wisdom, lack of understanding, lack of counsel and lack of knowledge.  They are dinged -2 more for lack of self-control and another example of lack of peace. 

The upside of the Prophet/Visionary is his creativity and tenaciousness in the face of difficulty.

+2 for patience and fortitude.

The downside of the Prophet types is that if they are not wise, they can be real fools who push their agenda, forcing others to go their way.
Good intentions don't always keep Prophet types from causing great harm.  If they are not wise, they can stir up the pudding and end with toxic waste.

- 8 for lacking wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, self-control, gentleness, patience and peace.

(Side note: That's one mixed metaphor involving pudding and toxic waste...)

That's the end of general descriptions about the Prophet/Visionary types.  In terms of representing the Gifts/Fruits of the Holy Spirit, they earned a total of negative 10 points.  The men who in Debi's own words represent the Holy Spirit....don't actually represent the Holy Spirit.

Next topic: Specific examples of Prophet/Visionary Men in action....

Now, if you will excuse me, I have a sudden craving for a banana.....


Friday, June 20, 2014

Preparing to Be A Help Meet: The Prophet - Part 1

The next three chapters cover Debi's conceptualization of the personality types of men.  I will give Debi credit for coming up with a schema that I've never heard or seen before.  The chapters on The Prophet (Visionary Man) and The Priest (Steady Man) are rather gentle and painless for a Pearl book.   She gives some breathtakingly bad advice but spends less time than normal running people down.

God tells us right at the beginning of the Bible that he created man in his own image. "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness" (Genesis 1:26)

One quibble: That's not the whole verse.  The rest of the verse talks about man's dominion over the all animal life.  I'm more annoyed about her (or her editor's) lazy refusal to mark that the verse has been divided than the choice to leave off the second half.

What is God's image? What is God's likeness? The word OUR is plural.  Why does God refer to himself as more than one?

*Raises and waves one hand*  

I know this one!  The belief system within the Hebrew Bible shows a transition from henotheism (God is the greatest of the many gods who exist) to monotheism (There is only one God).  God uses the word 'our' because there are literally other gods!

*sighs with nerdy contentment*

[Debi spends an absurd amount of time explaining that "likeness" and "image" mean exactly what a native English speaker would expect they mean. She must think her readers are stupid.]

God is Three Persons
When you think of God do you think of God the Father? Or does Jesus come to your mind, or maybe the Holy Spirit?  The Bible relates that the one God is manifested in three persons.  It is impossible for us to understand, but God has introduced himself to us as Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.

Boy, Debi, wouldn't this be a great spot for a rousing Bible quote that shows the nature of the triune God?

Or a series of strung together quotes that clearly talk about the Trinity?

*listens to the chirping crickets in the silence*

Oh, wait.  She can't do that.  The quotes don't exist.  The Trinity, as a theological concept, was worked out over the centuries after Jesus died.  Some Christian churches reject the doctrine of the Trinity for that exact reason.  (If you want to read about the history, the United Church of God has a long, but thorough, post on the subject.) 

All Debi can do is attempt to use one line from Genesis and punt.  I give her a point for effort.  To be fair, I doubt that Debi or Michael has ever learned about henotheism - or only as an example of how evil modern Biblical scholarship has become.

And yet, for nerds like me, this kind of Biblical scholarship enhances my faith rather than detracts from it.  This world is an awesome and wonderful place.  (And I've digressed again.)

God created man in his own image.  Which image? Well, all three persons, of course.  God's relationship with us and his ministry to us is different with each person of the godhead.

Debi or her editor should have removed "Which image? Well, all three persons, of course." because it's redundant, confusing and is the worst description of the Trinity I've read in a while.

Your husband-to-be will fall into one of these three categories:  He will be like God the Father, a King, or what I have dubbed a Command Man.  He will be healing and kind like Jesus, a Priest, or what I have called a Steady Man.  He will be in the image of the Holy Spirit, a Prophet type, or a man of ideas.  I call this type of man a Visionary.

Billions of people have read the Bible over the centuries between the final compilation of the canon when God wrote it down in English in the KJV and today.  

Billions of people.  

Debi and Mike Pearl were the first to see and write down God's triune nature = man's nature = three distinctive personality types. 

What a blessed age we must live in.  (Super snarky.)

When you can identify a man (your dad or brother) as expressing one of these type of traits, it will help you to understand men in general.

If you really want to understand men in general, be sure to meet men who are NOT your dad or brother.  Statistically, you are not going to meet enough men in your immediate family - even a bursting Quiver family - to draw any generalizations about men as a group.

Hint: Trying to generalize the personalities of ALL men on Earth by crunching them into three sub-types is NOT going to give you much information either.

I have never known a man that is a balance of all three.  Sometimes a man is mostly one with a little of another. but never balanced.  What I am saying is that is not realistic to expect any man to be perfectly balanced.  We must appreciate them as they are. [Debi tapdances around why women get a separate chapter] It should help us understand the men ins several wonderful love stories you are about to read.

Does this mean that any one, individual man is not created in God's image?  Or is God unbalanced?  Or is Debi so relieved to finally be off this painful theological tangent that she never brings it up again?

Well, I plan to bring it up again.  A LOT.  The book gets even funnier if you insert "The Holy Spirit" for "Prophet/Visionary" etc.

AntiPearls: It's a twofer!  I couldn't decide, so I included both.

“The old man was peering intently at the shelves. 'I'll have to admit that he's a very competent scholar.'
"Isn't he just a librarian?' Garion asked, 'somebody who looks after books?'                                                        

That's where all the rest of scholarship starts, Garion. All the books in the world won't help you if they're just piled up in a heap.” 
― David EddingsKing of the Murgos

“I will go wherever the truth leads me. It is secular scholarship, Rebbe; it is not the scholarship of tradition. In secular scholarship there are no boundaries and no permanently fixed views.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
"Lurie, if the Torah cannot go out into your world of scholarship and return stronger, then we are all fools and charlatans. I have faith in the Torah. I am not afraid of truth.” 

― Chaim PotokIn the Beginning

Monday, June 16, 2014

Criticism of "Good: The Joy of Christian Manhood and Womanhood" from an adult with cerebral palsy

This snippet of a book pushed all of my buttons at once.  I'd like to post the entire section first, then respond to the fallacies point-by-point.

This was published at Desiring God website, but please don't give these lunatics any more web traffic.  

It’s a story of a little boy whose body was weak. He couldn’t walk, and he was carried everywhere he went. Over time, he became needy, weepy, and constantly made requests of those around him. If you saw him, you would have pitied him. He was not even ten years of age and already way behind.
But then something happened. The little boy had spent most of his life in foster care. Then, one day, he was adopted by a Christian family. This was no ordinary family, however. It was one led by an old-fashioned father, a man whose blend of kindness and authority drew respect from his wife and children. His wasn’t the ultra-modern home you see on Hulu nowadays—teens eye-rolling, chaos reigning, dad zoned out on his iPhone, mom trying to tame the far-past-gone toddlers. This was a home where a father trained and pastored his children, and a mother devoted herself to her kids. This was a home where you were expected to pull your weight, pursue maturity, and sacrifice your interests to those of others.
This was the home the little boy entered. He couldn’t have articulated his feelings, but he knew something was different. There was order. There was discipline. And there was love, abundant love, that spilled out into laughter and playing and real conversation. But the boy wasn’t the only
one watching. The father was watching, too. He thought to himself, This boy isn’t lame. He’s not gonna be a track star. But I think he can walk.
After a couple days, he decided not to keep these thoughts to himself. He gently prodded the little boy, his new son, to try walking. So the boy did. At first it didn’t go well. This wasn’t supposed to happen. His self-identity was fixed. But then something clicked. The boy took one step, then another. A lurch became a walk. Pretty soon he, too, was caught up in the whirl of the home. He wasn’t the fastest, and the other kids had to help him at times. But the switch was back on. The boy had come alive. His strength was bigger than his weakness. His identity was refigured.
This true story elegantly illustrates what happens when the gospel speaks into our sexuality.
I'm so angry I'm having trouble typing coherently.
"It’s a story of a little boy whose body was weak. He couldn’t walk, and he was carried everywhere he went. Over time, he became needy, weepy, and constantly made requests of those around him"
Healthy children don't have weak bodies.  If child is old enough to speak, but can't walk, that child has a serious physical disability.  Responsible parents seek out medical help for children who have serious problems.
As an adult with mild cerebral palsy, I want you to know how much physical pain and limitations affect your emotional state.  This winter, I had a cerebral palsy "flare".  I have hypertonic cerebral palsy that affects my legs most noticeably.  The night after Christmas, I was awake all night with painful muscle cramps in my left calf.  I wasn't worried at first because I chalked the cramps up to a long car trip to visit family and not enough exercise.  Over the next four days, I slept about 10 hours because I could not get rid of the cramps in spite of exercise and lots of ibuprofen.

I was miserable.  All I wanted to do was sleep but I couldn't.  My leg hurt all the time.  I felt like crying, but tried my hardest to enjoy my extended family.  The only thought that kept me going was that I would feel better and sleep better when we got home.
Going home didn't work.  Because of the holidays, I had to wait nearly 2 weeks from when we got home until I could see a physical therapist on January 6th.  By that point, I felt emotionally wrecked.  
That little boy is not "needy"; he has real needs.  That little boy may be "weepy"; physical pain hurts.  If the little boy can't walk, he's going to need to make requests of the people around him to get items that he can't reach and to help him re-position his body.  If the author can't SEE that, he's got a far more severe disability than that little boy.
"If you saw him, you would have pitied him. He was not even ten years of age and already way behind."
Don't project YOUR flaws onto me.  I wouldn't pity that boy because of his disability.  I would empathize.  I would pity him for having such bat-shit crazy adoptive parents and I would report medical neglect if they were not having their son treated by a medical professional.

Plus, is the author a trained child development expert?  A pediatrician?  A physical or occupational therapist? A psychologist?  A special education teacher?
 No, Owen Strachen is a professor of theology.  His time would be better spent thinking about Mark 2:1-12 than pretending he knows how far behind the child is.
 The little boy had spent most of his life in foster care. Then, one day, he was adopted by a Christian family.
Look, foster care has problems, but I don't know how anyone would have missed a kid who was so very far behind on his physical milestones.  The foster parents I know would have pitched fits to be sure that this child received the physical and occupational therapy support that he needed.  Plus, if the kid is in foster care, the kid is in school.  He should have been receiving multiple pull-outs a week for work with trained professionals.  These glaring errors make me wonder if the author just made this story up because anyone with experience with public schools or the foster care system would know the details in the story are off.
Adopting a child out of foster care takes time.  People who want to adopt can't walk in, say "I'd like to adopt a child, please" and walk out with a kid - even if they are "Christian".  I know many people who have adopted children including special needs children.  Religion is not a key factor in building a new family.  Hard work, patience, and a willingness to ask for help matter far more than the religion of a family.
 It was one led by an old-fashioned father, a man whose blend of kindness and authority drew respect from his wife and children. His wasn’t the ultra-modern home you see on Hulu nowadays—teens eye-rolling, chaos reigning, dad zoned out on his iPhone, mom trying to tame the far-past-gone toddlers. This was a home where a father trained and pastored his children, and a mother devoted herself to her kids. This was a home where you were expected to pull your weight, pursue maturity, and sacrifice your interests to those of others. 
I can't believe I have to write this sentence. 
Shows on television are for entertainment purposes.  Do not use them for child-rearing advice.
More disturbingly, the author is setting up the "Hey, just give kids a normal home and everything will be great!" fallacy.  Life is not that simple.  This little boy will need more support and care than the average kiddo and pretending otherwise is a disaster in the making.
This was the home the little boy entered. He couldn’t have articulated his feelings, but he knew something was different. There was order. There was discipline. And there was love, abundant love, that spilled out into laughter and playing and real conversation
Now, Strachen takes the time to spell out what kids need: Order, discipline, and love will fix everything.  
Those three things are not enough.
 The father was watching, too. He thought to himself, This boy isn’t lame. He’s not gonna be a track star. But I think he can walk.
 Look at how quickly the adoptive father has limited the child's potential in his mind.  He's set the bar at "Walking is enough.  Kiddo will never be able to sprint, run long distances, throw a javelin, or jump high or far." 
That toxic mental limitation set by the father is going to hurt that kid way more than his physical disability.
Thank God my parents thought I could do anything I wanted to.  They encouraged me to run, jump, crawl, hike, ski, dance..... everything.  
Do I have physical limitations?  Yes.  To quote my physical therapist, "If you decide to take up running, you'll need to take up physical therapy too."  I'm never going to be a ballerina or gymnast.  On the other hand, I can walk long distances, swim a mile, garden, folk dance...well, the list is too long to type out.
After a couple days, he decided not to keep these thoughts to himself. He gently prodded the little boy, his new son, to try walking. So the boy did. At first it didn’t go well. This wasn’t supposed to happen. His self-identity was fixed. But then something clicked. The boy took one step, then another. A lurch became a walk. Pretty soon he, too, was caught up in the whirl of the home. He wasn’t the fastest, and the other kids had to help him at times. But the switch was back on. The boy had come alive. His strength was bigger than his weakness. His identity was refigured.
Ta-da!  All is well!  Like all magic tricks, don't be fooled by the illusion. 
Yes, with encouragement, the little boy started walking.  That tends to happen over time with any group of people with non-degenerative muscular disabilities.  As the boy grew, his body got stronger.  With practice, the boy learns how to walk.  That's a physical change, not a mental change in the kid.
Yet, by reaching that major milestone, the boy has reached his adopted father's goal: Make the kid less of an obvious burden. Now that his needs can be shifted off on to his siblings, there's no need for the father's involvement.

In a therapeutic setting, the child would have multiple, progressive goals set. The therapists would find ways to help the boy learn to walk faster, walk on uneven ground, climb, run on even ground, run on uneven ground, hop, jump, skip and gallop.  All of these are worthy goals.  
Plus, the boy is still growing.  He will need to be monitored for imbalances in his muscle development by an actual professional.
Years of work by the child, parents and medical professionals lie ahead.  Pretending otherwise is a slap in the face to people with disabilities, their families and the professionals who spend years mastering rehabilitation work.
This true story elegantly illustrates what happens whethe gospel speaks into our sexuality.
That sentence convinces me that the author either made the story up or it is "inspired by a true story" because sexuality has no real connection to anything previously written in the synopsis.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Preparing to Be a Help Meet: Creative Interpretations of the Book of Ruth

After Debi finishes twisting Esther from an active woman into a passive girl, Debi turns her attention to Ruth.  In her discussion of the Book of Ruth, Debi pulls a two-fer: Ruth is a passive follower as befits a young girl while Naomi, a wise older woman, gives her great counsel.  In short, Debi uses the story of Ruth to imply that Debi's young, naive readers should follow Debi's ideas unquestioningly.   On a positive note, Debi is blessedly brief on the subject.

Away we go!

[Ruth] was a young widow caring for her old mother-in-law.

Jeepers.  We're ONE sentence in and already Debi's drifted away from the Bible.  Nowhere in the Book of Ruth does it say that Ruth was caring for Naomi.  Yes, Naomi was past child-bearing years.  That doesn't make her in need of care - even in the much harder times of history.

Ruth was given an opportunity to leave the old woman, but chose to stay and help her.

Oh, good. We're back.  That sounds like Ruth 1:6-18.

This would have greatly limited her chances of marrying again and having children.

Nice use of the martyr card, Debi.  We know nothing about Ruth's life prior to her marriage. Ten years had passed since she married into Naomi's family.  Ruth may not have had a home to return to.  Her people might have expected the family of her husband to take care of her.  If Ruth left Moab and went to Judah with Naomi, she would at least have access to food through gleaning and whatever benefits Naomi's relatives could bring.  Like Esther, Ruth made a choice based on her circumstances and staying with Naomi could well have been a safer choice than returning to her home.   

Every day Ruth worked in the fields of Naomi's relatives in order to feed them both.

Who brings up the idea of Ruth working in the fields of Boaz?  Why, Ruth herself in 2:2!  Funny how Debi missed that.....

A wealthy man named Boaz took note of the hardworking girl who labored in his fields, gathering the leftovers after his workers had already harvested the grains.  Boaz was impressed by both her hard work and her faithfulness to her mother-in-law, yet the older Boaz still never considered Ruth for his wife.

I'm surprised how Debi can write a neat, concise description of a set of Bible verses like the passage above and also just make things up as she goes along.  Amazing how our minds work.

Debi ignores Boaz's protectiveness toward Ruth.  In Chapter 2, both Boaz and Naomi remind Ruth to stay with the young women of Boaz's family to prevent "being bothered" by the other male workers.  Boaz allows Ruth to eat with the hired reapers and instructs the hired workers to leave extra grain behind to make Ruth's job easier.  Boaz tries to keep Ruth safe from harm - an excellent quality in a partner.  Sadly, I doubt Mike Pearl keeps Debi safe....

It was the old woman who took matters into her own hands, forcing Boaz to notice the young Ruth.

Well, Debi, the Bible disagrees with you, again.  Boaz had noticed Ruth in Chapter 2.  In Chapter 3:1-5,  Naomi is giving Ruth a crash course in how Ruth can identify herself a member of the Jewish community that Boaz can legally marry (notice how Ruth doesn't call herself a foreigner anymore but a servant or handmaiden; it's an important distinction)  and how to request that he marry her as her nearest redeeming kinsman.   Important point to remember for later chapters: Ruth asks Boaz to marry her, not vice versa.

There is a bit of a hiccup; another man should be asked first to marry Ruth.  Boaz springs into action the next day and everything works out well in the end.

When you read the story you will notice that Ruth trusted and obeyed Naomi concerning Boaz. 

Yes, but not blindly.  Ruth was working with Boaz and/or the young women of his family for at least part of the barley harvest and all of the wheat harvest.  Ruth saw how Boaz prevented her from being harassed or raped while she worked.  Presumably, she saw how he treated the women in his family.  By the time Naomi instructs Ruth in how to properly ask Boaz to marry her, Ruth knows Boaz better than Naomi does.  

Debi, I know you're trying to draw parallels between Ruth's story to  Lydia's story, but doing that makes me feel even worse for Lydia.

Read the stories of these two young girls, Ruth and Esther. (...) Come to know these girls.  Think about their hardships, their pain, fear, worries and victories.  Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself how you would respond to situations they went through.

I agree.  Esther and Ruth are strong, vigorous role models for women today.  

(I'm trying to ignore the little voice in my head that says "Yes!  Set up an action plan for the eventuality of being recruited into a "divorced heathen" king's harem!  Do it now!  *giggles*)

AntiPearl:  My husband can't wear a wedding ring for safety reasons on the farm.  As a wedding gift, I gave him a pocket watch engraved with part of  Ruth 1: 16 so he could keep it in his pocket on the farm.  

Where you go, I will go;
Where you lodge, I will lodge;
your people shall be my people,
and your God my God.

(Well...that was the idea.  Cows intervened.)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Preparing to Be a A Help Meet: Creative Interpretation of the Book of Esther

The end of chapter 2 of  "Preparing to Be a Help Meet" disturbed me the first time I read it, but I couldn't exactly figure out why.  I mean, yeah, Debi twists the stories of Esther and Ruth, but she does that all the time.  I realized that I resented that Debi messed around with the stories to make both Esther and Ruth seem like passive women who did what men told them rather than active participants in their own lives.

Let's delve into the spin Debi puts on Esther first.

Two books of the Bible are named after the women the books are about - Esther and Ruth.  Both women had marriages that were either arranged or planned by others.

I was confused because I knew three books of the Bible that were named after women - Esther, Ruth and Judith.  Five minutes on Google reminded me that the Book of Judith is in the Apocrypha and so would be left out of the KJV.  That's too bad; Judith was a woman who does not fit the mold that Debi tries to cram all women into.

Esther was a young Jewish orphan who lived with her uncle and had the misfortune of being exceedingly beautiful:

That's a (mostly) reasonable paraphrase of Esther 2:7 . 

Mordecai[b] had brought up Hadassah, that is Esther, his cousin, for she had neither father nor mother; the girl was fair and beautiful, and when her father and her mother died, Mordecai adopted her as his own daughter.

 Debi twists the verse, though, by adding that Esther's beauty was a misfortune. After all, if she had been exceedingly ugly, she would have never become queen and the Jewish people under King Ahasuerus would have been destroyed.  

One day government officials came and took her away from her home.  She was taken to the castle and was told she was being considered, along with countless other girls, as a possible wife to the heathen king.

That's a fair paraphrase of Esther 2:3-4,8.  

He had discarded his first wife because she had not obeyed him.

Scholars have long debated if Queen Vashti was justified in not obeying the King Ahasuerus's order.  The disputed verses are Esther 1:8-12

 Drinks were served in golden goblets, goblets of different kinds, and the royal wine was lavished according to the bounty of the king. Drinking was by flagons, without restraint; for the king had given orders to all the officials of his palace to do as each one desired. Furthermore, Queen Vashti gave a banquet for the women in the palace of King Ahasuerus.
10 On the seventh day, when the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha and Abagtha, Zethar and Carkas, the seven eunuchs who attended him, 11 to bring Queen Vashti before the king, wearing the royal crown, in order to show the peoples and the officials her beauty; for she was fair to behold.

People who feel Queen Vashti was justified in disobeying the king point out that the Queen was completing state duties by entertaining the wives and/or concubines of the visiting officials.  They also point out that verse 11 could be read as a command for the Queen to appear before the men who had been partying for 7 days wearing ONLY her crown.  (This is the interpretation I heard as a teenager and adult in my church.)  In this interpretation, Vashti is a minor heroine along with Esther.

The other interpretation is that Queen Vashti refused to obey a simple command: put on your royal jewels and come to the party so the king can show off your beauty.  I'm confident Debi believes this version since it supports her overarching theme of "Obey your husband or BAD things will happen."

After a night with Ester (sic), the king chose her to be his queen.  Can you imagine how traumatic this must have been for this young virgin?

The way Debi tells the story of Esther sounds like the night with the king was traumatic.  The Bible, though, doesn't support that view.  Between when Esther arrived at the castle and had sex with the king, she did some shrewd prep work.  

  • Esther got the support of Hegai - the eunuch in charge of the women of the castle - and used his favor to get beauty treatments, extra food, seven maid servants and preferential treatment within the harem.  (Esther 2:9)
  • Esther kept a line of communication open to her uncle Mordecai (Esther 2:11)
  • Esther spent 12 months inside the harem before having sex with the king getting beauty treatments. (Esther 2:12)
  • Esther got advice from Hegai about what items to bring with her when she went to have sex with the king.  (Esther 2:15)
Plus, Esther received something from King Ahasuerus that was absent from Debi and Lydia's stories: love.  (Esther 2:17)

But her ordeal was just getting started.  Through political intrigue, laws were changed that threatened the lives of all Jews. 

A concise and accurate paraphrase of Esther 3.

 No one knew that Esther was a Jew.  She could have stayed safe and silent, but Esther knew that God had put her in this place for a reason.

Debi, you are lying through your teeth.  

First, Mordecai and anyone who knew Esther before she was collected for the king's harem knew Esther was a Jew.  

Second, when Mordecai found out about the plot to destroy the Jews, he dressed in mourning and planted himself in front of the king's castle. (Esther 4:1-2)  Since Esther was now part of the harem, she communicated with Mordecai through a eunuch. Mordecai gives her lots of evidence of the plot to destroy the Jews.  (Esther 4:5-8)  Esther balks at showing the evidence to King Ahasuerus because if she approaches him without his permission, the law states she will be killed - and he hasn't called for her in 30 days. (Esther 4: 10-11).  Mordecai tells the eunuch to tell Esther that she's no safer in the palace than any other Jew and that if she doesn't save her people, her family will be destroyed. (Esther 4: 12-14)  Once Mordecai sent that message back through the eunuch, Esther's safety was compromised; someone inside the palace knew she was a Jew.

She had to find a way to break the bond of a strong, evil, political leader.  It took courage, wisdom and a great deal shrewdness.  In the end she won the king's favor and saved the Israelite people.  Because one young girl was wise and sober-minded, and because she was willing to lay down her life, a whole nation was spared.

So how did Esther save the Israelite people?  She disobeyed the king.  She went to see him before he called for her (Esther 5:1-2).  She gets rid of Haman - the official who wanted to destroy the Jews (Esther 7), is awarded Haman's house (Esther 8:1-8), and writes a decree that allows Jews to take up arms to defend themselves from attackers and plunder anyone who attacks them (Esther 8:9-14). 

I'd add the adjectives 'strong' and 'persistent' to Debi's description of Esther's traits.

Think about her life.  Her marriage was arraigned.  She had no choice.  Her husband was a divorced heathen.  Yet she never woke up at night and thought to herself. "God, why did you put me here?"

Debi, drop the pity party. Esther was not a shrinking violet.  She looked at her situation, sized up her options and did what was in her best interest.  Esther was a mature woman controlling her life and the people around her.  No matter how much you try and twist her story, her strength stands out in the Bible.

Her story is one of courage.

Amen to that.

AntiPearl: “The thing women have yet to learn is nobody gives you power. You just take it.” ~Roseanne Barr -