Sunday, February 28, 2016

It's Not That Complicated: The Boys Interlude #1

Like "Preparing to Be a Helpmeet" by Debi Pearl, "It's Not That Complicated" includes random side notes from young men.  Honestly, I have no idea why these are included except to pad the length of the book.  There are 14 guys who are quoted.  Five of them are the Botkin Brothers.  Of the five Botkin Brothers, only Ben uses his actual name.  Rather than try to fit the boy quotes into the chapters, I'm going to insert chunks of them every so often.

There is an essay by Geoffrey Botkin at the end for fathers.  Geoffrey recommends:
"Sit down with your girls and read to them from the book that you hold in your hands.  Go to the little gray boxes and read what real guys have said about real girls.  Ask your girls to comment on each young man.  What do they think about him?   What do your girls think about his wisdom?  His opinion? His perspective? His relationships with girls? His future?  Could they be married to a man who thinks like he thinks? Why or why not? What would you esteem in a husband? Why? (...) As you find out what they think about other opinions expressed in this book, make sure they base their thinking on Scripture." (pg. 246)

Thursday, February 25, 2016

When Love Isn't Enough: The Musser Family Tragedy - Part 5

I would like to begin this post with an apology.

When I wrote the original four part series back in the summer of 2014, I believed that the Musser family was made a series of poor choices that lead to Tommy's death by drowning.  I still believe that.

 I also believed that the family would stop adopting during the aftermath of Tommy's death and focus their efforts on caring for their remaining children.

I was so terribly wrong about that assumption.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

It's Not That Complicated - Chapter 4 - Part Three

This section gets weird. So...very....weird.

Overarching Themes:

To get ready for marriage, sisters should practice being helpmeets to their brothers.

As always, the Botkins include a section that disavows that sisters should be helpmeets to their brothers.

"On one level, your relationship with your brother is one of the closest things you're going to experience to the relationship with your husband.  Obviously, certain things are sacred to the husband-wife relationship (and just to clarify, we're not suggesting that sisters are to be their brothers' helpmeets, or that they have a biblical duty to submit to them)." (pg. 56)
  • This reminds me of the Pearls' child beating book having a section that says "Don't kill your kids or abuse them." The entire rest of the book implies that a good sister should be subordinate to her brothers and that girls should be generally submissive towards boys.
  • I am appreciative that "certain things are sacred to the husband-wife relationship", but I have no idea exactly what the Botkins mean by that.  Sex is clearly off-limits - or did the Botkins need to explain that to their audience?    

Monday, February 22, 2016

It's Not That Complicated: Chapter 4 - Part Two

This book does have some fun side-effects.  My sister-in-law offered to lend me any and all books from her house to stop me from continuing to read this book.  The offer was tempting, but inflicting this book on my family is sweet.  (Reading chunks's a twisted pleasure for me.)

Well, we get a glimpse into the teenage Botkin sisters.

Overarching Themes:

The Botkin Sisters had the desires and dreams of normal teenagers..... 

I thought I was awkward teenager. I was nervous around boys, not very sure how to dress for my figure, and never really sure what the hell I was doing.

In hindsight, I was exactly as awkward as every teenager is.

The saving grace for me was that my parents always encouraged me to do what I wanted to do.  They supported my academic strengths and let me choose my extracurricular activities which is how they ended up with a daughter who earned varsity letters in theater, choir,  and academics, participated in district and state level choir competitions, and was on a math competition team that earned 3rd place at states.  (My only "regret" is that varsity jackets/sweaters were out of style when I was in HS; otherwise I would have had a near-perfect geek jacket. Oh, well....)

Because of my upbringing, I feel bad for the Botkin Sisters.

"As we first entered our teen years, we both knew that we needed to strive for maturity and mightiness in the faith.  We knew what we wanted to be when we grew up - we wanted to be spiritual warriors who would change the world by doing important things for Christ.  We wanted to be on the front lines, doing the big, hard jobs that no one else wanted to do." (pg. 53)

"...doing "spiritual" things, like studying New Testament Greek, reading theology or writing articles about spiritual matters." (pg. 53)

" ... we wanted to fixing this problem [e.g., the lack of good men] to be our personal ministry.  Our strategy was to write about the feminism that was causing this problem.  We jumped in with both feet doing copious research, interviewing college students, and talking to members of conservative think tanks on gender issues.  We even started writing a book, with the blustery and  pretentious title of "Where Have All the Men Gone?  A Young Woman's Handbook on the Rebuilding of Christendom After the Gender Holocaust That Has Robbed Us of Our Identity and Our Men." (pg. 58)

  • This sounds real.  I went to a Catholic school and there were definitely young teenager who were ready and willing to train to be "spiritual warriors".  It's a wonderful and generally transient type of optimism found in adolescents.
  •  The flip side of this exuberant optimism is the absolute lack of life experience to help ground expectations in reality.  I had several friends who were writing books or making films or nursing athletic dreams that were as unrealistic and absurd as the Botkin Sisters teenage dreams.
  • Why do I feel bad for the Botkin Sisters?  Well, their parents convinced them of the next big point.
...and were taught that "loving your brothers" requires the same amount of stretch and growth as doing real acts of charity in the community.
"And what was worse, [Anna Sophia and Elizabeth's younger brothers's] interruptions, annoyingness, and under-foot-ness kept bring out a side of us that was not very, um, Christian.  They were sabotaging our very best Christ-like efforts!  If all people have their burdens to bear, we thought, ours would be named Ben, Luke and Noah.  We loved them, of course, but felt like they strangled the fruits of the Spirit in us and made us act like heathens.  There were times where we felt like we could be much better Christians somewhere else." (pg. 53)

"There are plenty of ways that young people try to show their dedication for God.  But although you can go on charity walks, you can sleep in a cardboard box to end world poverty, you can go to missions trips to Mexico - if you're failing your own irritating little brother at home, your dedication is empty, and God is not fooled." (pg. 54)

"You know it's true: it's easier to love a starving orphan than to love your little brother.  It's easier to dish out soup at a soup kitchen than to set aside what you're doing to make your brother breakfast.  There are helpful voices out there inspiring us to do hard things for Christ; but for most of us, loving our own family is the hardest thing we can do.  There is challenge (and merit) in raising money for good Christian causes, starting ministries, making movies, putting on conferences - but this is easy Christian work compared to really loving our brothers." (pg. 54)

"The desire to make a dent in the world's suffering is a very popular cause these days. (...) It's true that there is suffering in the world from lack of food, lack of shelter, lack of education, lack of medical attention.  But every country in the world right now is suffering from a lack of real men." (pg. 57)
  • I've been pruning cherry trees on our farm.  Pruning is as much an art as an agricultural science.  The first step - always - is to look at the entire natural shape of the tree.  Each tree grows differently.  A pruner can force a tree to grow into nearly any shape - but the resulting tree will be weak and susceptible to injury.  A wise pruner augments the natural shape of the tree to guide the tree into the strongest shape possible so the tree will bear fruit for years.
  • Geoffrey and Victoria Botkin used homeschooling and literalistic Bible interpretations to warp the natural inclinations of their daughters.  Anna Sophia and Elizabeth as young teenagers wanted to lead projects that changed their community and their world.  Instead of shaping those inclinations into the community outreach activities they so badly wanted to do, the Botkin parents obliterated the strongest portions of their daughters personalities and desires and instead tried to force them backwards into the family cult.
  • The results show in the poisonous cankers that ooze out throughout the book.  The swipes that the Botkin sisters take at women who accomplished goals, the petulant dismissal of traditional acts of charity and education, the sad attempts to equate loss of "men" to starvation - this is the result of the pruning that Geoffrey and Victoria Botkins did to their daughters as young teens.  Geoffrey and Victoria Botkins be ashamed; their daughters have been crippled by their parents' choices.

Friday, February 19, 2016

It's Not That Complicated: Chapter 4 - Part One

Onwards to Chapter Four!  The title of this delightful chapter is "Relationship Boot Camp- Back to Square One: How to Be a Sister to Your Real Brothers."

Overarching Themes:

Do NOT question us, lowly peons!

There are a few chapter openings in this book that simply must be read.  This chapter open with this plum selection:

" 'Why should I have to read a chapter about my brothers in a book about guys?' some of you might be wondering at this point.  ' I didn't pay $14.95 to learn about people I've known my whole life.  I want to know about actual guys.  Maybe I can just skip over this chapter."

Please don't do that.  Because if any of us have this attitude, it probably infects more than our taste in reading material.  It's the attitude that has led most of us to skip over the relationships with our own family members, because we don't think they're as important as the relationships outside our family." (pg. 51)
  • First, if I was not blogging about this book, I would have skipped out after the first sentence of the introduction.  By chapter 4, most readers are in for the long haul.
  • Second, I'm certain I won't learn anything about my relationship with my brother from this book.
  • Third, I did not spend $15.00 on this book - more like $4.00 on the secondary market.  Either way, don't write how much you plan on selling the book for.  It's crass.
  • Fourth,  I thought that home-schooling guaranteed glowing sibling relationships that public/private schooler losers like my family could never achieve.  
The BIBLE says you should love your siblings perfectly or ELSE!

This theme flashes through the chapter like a red sock in a load of whites.  Rather than drag in all of the hand-wringing and exhorting, I'm gonna pull the two passages that introduce the Botkin theme of "Family First!"

"Most of us have heard that we're supposed to treat the young men we know as brothers.  This is based on Paul's instruction to Timothy to treat "younger women as sisters, in all purity." (1 Tim. 5:2)" (pg. 52)
  • The Botkin Sisters drag this verse through the rest of the book as the verse tries to break free screaming "That's not what I mean!  Take me in context!"
    • The full section is 1 Timothy 5:1-2.  "Do not speak harshly to an older man, but speak to him as to a father, to younger men as brothers, to older women as mothers, to younger women as sisters—with absolute purity."  Based on the fact that the initial clause of the first verse is talking about being harsh, I think a conservative interpretation of verse 2 is that men are not supposed to be jerks to other men or women.  
    • The Botkin Brood, however, uses the clause "in all purity" to independently create the "no pre-martial romantic/emotional attachments" advanced and partially renounced  later by Josh Harris in "I Kissed Dating Goodbye".
    • The rest of 1 Timothy 5 talks about the fact that young widows will want to remarry and should be encouraged to do so.  From that, I'm guessing that Paul (or whoever wrote this letter) realized that people often want to have emotional and sexual relationships.
"'If anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar," warns 1 John 4:20-21, "for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

Over and over, 1 John establishes this as the litmus test of whether we're really the children of God.  This is how we show that we love God - not just by studying theology for Him, but by loving your brothers." (pg. 53)
  • The Botkins have decided to be extreme literalists on this verse; God means your nuclear family brother and no others.  All Christian denominations I know of view this verse in the broader context of brother == other human beings (or at least fellow believers).  Not the Botkin Family.
  • I don't think God set that up as the litmus test.  If God did, Jesus failed it big time according to Matthew 12:46-50.  
Nuance?  What nuance?  All situations involving males are exactly the same.

"Ask yourself a question: If you really treated the young men you know exactly the way you treat your biological brothers (minus, for example, physical affection)....what would that look like?  This is the time to be brutally honest with yourself.  Visualize it in full Technicolor and surround sound, down to the way you respond to your little brother when he barges into your room for the hundredth time while you are in a crabby mood.  Then project that image onto how you might respond to Brandon when he accidently spills Cherry Coke on your new sweater.

What would it do to your social life?  The respect and appreciation you value so much from your guy friends now...would it still be there?  What would your reputation become?" (pg. 52)

  • Let's be honest; those are not the same situations.  Allow me to equalize them.
    • Situation Set A: 
      • Your 5 year-old brother knocks at your bedroom door.  When you open it, he asks you if you would get him a glass of water because he can't reach the sink.  You get it for him.  He says "Thank you!" and accidentally spills some on your new suede shoes.  The little guy bursts into tears.
      • You go out on a date with Brandon wearing your new sweater.  He's visibly nervous and accidentally spills some Cherry Coke on the sleeve while handing you dinner from the food court.
    • Situation Set B:
      • Your 5-year-old brother is a whirlwind on wheels who only stops yelling about superheros when he's asleep.  You've explained to him that when your bedroom door is closed he needs to knock three billion times, acted it out and practiced a million times.  The first time he crashes into your room without knocking, you escort him out and shut the door.  Now, you are on the 18th time today and you have a freaking headache.
      • You know a guy at your church group named Brandon.  Brandon is a jackass and more than a bit of a bully.  He takes pleasure in dumping drinks on people's clothing.  Brandon is approaching you with a glass of pop and you are wearing a new sweater.....
  • When you equalize the situations, the "ideal" solutions are damn near identical.  In situation A, accidents happen and most women would be reasonably calm about taking care of the problem.  In situation B, anger and self-protection methods are prudent and allowed.
Next Post: Insights into Anna Sophia and Elizabeth as teenagers and Botkin Family Drama!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

It's Not That Complicated: Chapter 3 - Part Three

In this book, the term "statism" or "statist" receives a lot of play.  The problem is that I could not figure out what the Botkins actually meant by either term.

According to Wikipedia, statism is the involvement of the government in economic or social policy in some form.  This roughly corresponded with what I remember hazily from some poli-sci discussions held in college.   This sort of explained why the Botkins seemed to conflate any Marxist governmental system with statism, but there seemed to be something else missing.

Then, I received my $4.00 second-party seller copy of "So Much More".  In their "Endnotes", the Botkin Sisters note that
"Statism is the rival religion that put the government in the place of God.  The Messianic State assumes God's authority in the preserving and governing of His creatures and all their actions.  Known in America as the Welfare State or the Nanny State.  Its main characteristics are compulsory government schooling, high taxes, an entrenched bureaucracy, police-state powers, and an ever-growing body of laws and regulations."  (pg. 143)

Problems I see:

  1. No one else defines statism as a rival religion - anywhere.
  2. I know that the Botkin Sisters mean that statism = "welfare state" or "Nanny state", but technically that sentence structure read to me that the Messianic State is the welfare/nanny state.
  3. The list of characteristics describes EVERY modern civilization since the body of laws and regulation grows over time.  
After that overview, here's a "history" lesson that is plunked in the middle of the chapter titled "Boys Are People Too".    Fair warning: the history is convoluted, exists mainly to hawk Botkin crap  merchandise and has nothing to do with the fact that boys are people.  On the positive side, it's a hoot to read aloud to your friends and family.  
"History gives us the next pieces of the puzzle.  What the record of history shows is that every time a society, like America, tries to move in a statist direction - towards centralized government rather than self-government - it puts power in the hands of the state instead of the people.  And it restricts those troublemakers who want to be freedom-fighters, leaders, outside-the-box thinkers, dominion-takers, conquerors - people who rock the boat or challenge the status quo.  In other words, people such as real men." (pg. 44)
  • The second sentence is a common weak writing flaw.  The sentence says "when we move in a direction, we move in that direction!"  
  • In the absence of a state, who the hell are the freedom-fighters fighting against?  Shouldn't they excel in a statist society?
  • Leaders and out-of-box thinkers arise in every group of people.  Don't believe me?  Watch children at a park for awhile.....
"Different governments have had different ways of neutralizing men: taking their guns (like the British tried to do in Pre-Revolutionary War America), keeping them illiterate (like the pharaonic elite did in Ancient Egypt), controlling their work and the fruit of their hands (like Communist governments do), and distracting their energies with sports and games (like the rulers did in ancient Greece and Rome), among others." (p. 44)"
  • That's quite a bizarre list.  The connection is the interests, businesses and products of the Botkin family.  
    • British removal of guns: The Botkin Brothers bring home the money through T.Rex Arms - custom plastic gun accessories.  I find the entire site creepy and will not link it.  That's where the anti-gun control schtick comes from.  (On the positive side, the boys are in favor of the "Appendix" concealed carry which gives carriers the chance to shoot their genitals and/or femoral arteries while drawing OR from clothing movement).
    • Illiteracy in Ancient Egypt: Issac Botkin did a whole "Ancient Egypt" movie and book.  (Also, Egypt was totally different than most societies within the last 100 years in terms of literacy /massive sarcasm)
    • Anti-Communism: Another nod to Geoffrey Botkin's imaginary upbringing in a massively Marxist family.
    • Can't find a direct link to the "Greece and Rome" bit, but I'm sure they'll pop something out.
"America began moving more deliberately in this direction in the 1930's, when a group of European socialists got a foothold in American education and media.  They were primarily working towards a goal that Karl Marx disciple Wilhelm Reich articulated: "to dethrone the patriarchal power of man." Or, as his comrade, Italian Comintern agent Antonio Gramsci, put it, imprisoning men's minds inside a psychic "iron cage" (where they couldn't cause any trouble)." (pg. 44)
  • When you quote, you should cite the source of the quotation.  There are plenty of options for HOW you cite - I am a APA junkie, but there are so many other options - but just dropping quotations without citations would have gotten me in trouble starting in 5th grade which is ~11 years of age.
  • I have no idea who this group of European socialists who moved into education and media are - but you should totally use them as a reason to opt out of public education and mainstream media.  Instead, you should use the Botkin Family Homeschooling Curriculum and allied Vision Forum films for entertainment!
  • I needed to look up both Wilhelm Reich and Antonio Gramsci on Wikipedia.  Antonio Gramsci was a critical Marxist thinker who wrote over 3,000 pages of information.  Wilhelm Reich tried to align Marxism and psychoanalysis - but he had a lot of personal issues and seemed very unstable.  
"Though this might be starting to sound like a far-fetched conspiracy theory, it's nothing new (or far-fetched) for God's enemies to make plans and wage war against Him. (...) For ungodly men to want bigger governments and more power over other men is the most natural thing in the world.  It happens all the time, and is well-documented through history, from Babel to Ancient Egypt to militant Prussia to Red China.  "The land of the free and the home of the brave" has never been immune to this, either. (...)" (pg. 45),

  • Conspiracy theories are (generally) interesting.  This feels like a novice attempt at a stream-of-consciousness conspiracy theory. 
  • IMHO, men who know they are "more godly" than others want more control over others.
  • Is there historical evidence for the Tower of Babel?  
  • Note the Botkins ability to insult Germans and China in a single clause of a sentence; they have a lot of biases in this section.

"Well, in the last two hundred years, shady socialists have tried a new tactic for un-manning men, and discovered a most effective weapon....Women." (p. 45)

  • Bomp-Bomp-Bomp!  The great reveal!  We have seen the enemy and it is US!

"Girl Power

Karl Marx declared in an 1868 letter, "Major social transformations are impossible without ferment among women." "Unless of millions of women are with us," stated communist dictator of Russia Vladimir Lenin, "we cannot exercise the proletarian dictatorship, cannot construct on communist lines.  We must find our way to them, we must study and try to find that way."  He insisted "There can be no real mass movement without women." His friend, Leon Trotsky wrote in 1917, "The women's liberation movement is a central part of the American socialist revolution in the making." (pg 45).

  • I don't think that Karl Marx was the first person to realize that women can be catalysts for social change.  In the USA, women were highly involved in anti-slavery and temperance movements prior to 1868.
  • Plus, I do have to give the underground Marxist/Communist/Socialist movement in the USA credit; they must be willing to play one hell of a long con game.  The most recent quote so far is from the 1930's and this book was published in 2011 when the USA was still a democratic republic.

"Plenty of women were ready to be recruited, including some of America's premier feminists, both first and second wave.  Wholesome, apple-pie Susan B. Anthony cut a surprising deal with a presidential candidate in 1905: "Give us suffrage, and we'll give you socialism."  More-radical Gloria Steinem declared, "Overthrowing capitalism is too small for us.  We must overthrow the whole #$#$ patriarchy."  Betty Friedan, possibly America's leading feminist, posed as a typical but disillusioned suburban housewife; but under her maiden name, Betty Goldstein, she was a Stalinist-Marxist activist, a professional propagandist working for the Communists. (...) And feminist leader Andrea Dworkin said: "Only when manhood is dead- and it will perish when ravaged femininity no longer sustains it - only then will we know what it is to be free." (p. 45)
  • Paragraph summary: Women can make deals in exchange for full participation in society.  Damn.  That's deep.  It's like women are people, too.
  • I feel that dropping Betty Friedman's maiden name has one purpose: anti-Semitism.   If she was only pretending to be a wife who found being a housewife boring as hell, she was a great actress; so many women agreed with her!
  • This paragraph brings us up to 1975 with Dworkin's quote - but I can't find any information that said she was on the Marxist/Communist spectrum of politics.  That makes the most recent Marxist/Communist quote from 1974.  That was 37 years before the book was written.

"Egalitarianism - leveling everything between the sexes and classes - was the goal of these women.  Their modus operandi: to do away with the biblical hierarchical relationship between men and women; to destroy marriage; to end patriarchy; to obliterate traditional gender roles; and to ostracize assertiveness, leadership and strength in men.  Only then would we know what it is to be free. (p. 45-46)"

  • Time out: what's wrong with getting rid of classes?  There are LOTS of Bible quotes about how to treat others and they lean strongly towards making sure the poor are taken care of?
  • Wait.  I thought this was all worked out by the evil MALE social planners.  The Botkins alluded to that in the last chapter.  Now, the Botkin sisters are saying that WOMEN have goals.  Which is it?
Next post - New chapter: Learn about how guys work from your brothers!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

It's Not that Complicated: Chapter 3 - Part Two

When I was teaching, I'd often be busy enough that I would be half-listening to a student talking about an interest of theirs while I was doing something fairly mindless like entering grades or double-checking chemistry worksheets to be sure the problems were solvable.  The problem with this method is that I found it hard to control my facial expression when a student-lead conversation took a strange turn.  For example, imagine listening to a student complain about how hard it is to get an after school job while you have an entire conversation in your head at the same time (italics)
Getting a job is hard... (*did I enter that right? Oh. Yup* *Nods to student*) transportation ("Yeah, not having a car sucks!  Is there someplace closer to you? *wait, who's name is this?  Are they even in that class?*) nice to make money (*OMG, why the hell would a biology student complete a chemistry worksheet?  Dear God.* "Yeah, money is nice").....this is all due to the Illuminati. (*Did they say Illuminati?*).....New World Order....("Wait a second, kiddo.  Let's run this by me again")

This section of the chapter FEELS like one of those conversations.  The chapter is (allegedly) about boys being people too, but all of a sudden devolves into a Botkin-lead social science lesson.

Overarching themes:

  • Boys have been doing worse and worse on all sorts of outcomes since girls have been doing better on outcomes.  
  • The Botkins start off with two pages of mocking a Christian psychologist/ Freudian analyst (which are not the same thing) they "shared the podium"(pg. 41) at a talk on self-esteem for girls when the Botkins were 16 and 18 years old.  I'm not sharing the quotes because a) they give no details that would allow the existence of the talk to be verified and b) this is all from their memories at least 12 years later.  No transcripts.  No videos.  Nothing that can be used to verify their catty critique of their co-speaker.
  • They also manage to pad the chapter with tons of quotes from "The Myth About Boys" by David Von Drehle (Time, 2007) and Kay Hymowisz's Manning up: How the Rise of Women has Turned Men into Boys.  The use of "The Myth About Boys" is ironic since the article points out that middle and upper-class boys are doing fine while the growing inequality between men and women is most severe in lower-income classes where women have had increased economic mobility through service work while men's jobs in manufacturing have disappeared.  Manning up is a longer version of the same theme.
  • "We know that our lives are tied to theirs, and that's why it terrifies us when, for example, we see grown men who are more interested in playing than working.  Men who don't seem to take themselves - or even life - seriously.  Men who have no direction, and wait for someone else to tell them what to do. (...).  The ones who don't view women as objects are more likely to view us as the man in the relationship, waiting for us to talk, lead and take initiative. Others are mama's boys.  Still others are goofy and silly, grown-up children.  And most aren't  ready to move on to marriage as early as they used to be." (pg. 42-43)
    • See, a good woman sits around and waits for a man to tell her what to do.  When men do the same thing, the world crashes to a halt as everyone sits around staring at each other.  /sarcasm.
    • Of the other complaints, the only real annoyance is a "mama's boy".  The other guys will be attracted to assertive, funny women who are also ready for marriage later in life.
    • Since the average age at marriage has been rising in the USA, this should give CP home-schooling families pause if they have planned - consciously or otherwise - to marry their daughters off at the end of high school rather than deal with any advanced career training.

  • Clearly, the only way to fix this is to have girls stop competing with boys.
  • "Was it our winning that turned [boys] into losers? To answer the question, here are three things to consider: First, there is a free market principle that applies to gender politics as well as well as economics: Nobody has to lose when somebody else succeeds.  One person's strength, capability, and intelligence should benefit everyone.  If everyone was fighting for the same job and leaving some vital positions unfilled, it would weaken the economy.  But if men did their job and women did theirs, everyone would win, even when women did their own job exceptionally well. "(pg. 49)
    • *blinks*
    • First, that principle is not from free-market theory; it's non-zero game theory.  
    • How exactly do the Botkins think supply and demand work?  When the demand drops, the amount of supply drops in reply. Yes, supply can drop by all operating businesses reducing supply - but the real method involves driving weak businesses to failure when they cannot sell enough products to clear costs while more desired products from other businesses increases.  Because of that, SOMEONE often loses when someone else wins.  Admitting this truth doesn't make you a statist communist or socialist; it simply means you can apply logic to a system.
    • There is always mismatches between available labor and the positions that need filling.  Generally, jobs that need specific training often go through periods where laborers are missing.  From a worker's point of view with the skills, this is sweet.  The scarcity of labor often lifts wages.
    • I can't figure out how everyone would win if women left the workforce en masse.  Employers who had hired the best candidate who was female would need to fill that position with a less skilled man.  In fact, the replacement male employee would likely be much worse since the male candidates with the strongest skill sets would already be employed.  That's not beneficial for the company, strong male employees or women; it is, however, beneficial for weak-to-middling male employees.  Does this mean the Botkins Sisters realize on some level that their fellow Vision Forum cult members can't compete in the workforce?
  • "Second, when in comes to measuring our own astounding success, we must recognize that the grade curve has been set in our favor.  In the same period of time in which men's performance began to slide, the standard by which performance was measured was switched out on them.  Today's education system and workplace are better suited to people who are good at following rules, being quiet and submissive, and coloring in the lines (such as girls).  Remember, we are living in a society that makes no room for real men.  Women are better at doing statism; real men don't do well under statism at all.  Yes, men are failing in many of the tests of real manhood, too, but even in the fake tests, the deck is stacked against them." (pg. 49)
    • First, the educational system goes through periodic swings in popular teaching methods.  Prior to 2000, the cycle took about 20 years to go from project-based lessons with portfolio style output to lecture based lessons with tests as outputs.  After No Child Left Behind was implemented,  the pendulum got stuck over at lecture/tests for ~12 years.  Since the Botkins are arguing that the educational system has been failing since the 1930's, we should be able to track male achievement compared to educational method.  To no one's surprise, boys show a great deal of individual variation in response to educational method...just like girls do.  
    • The changes in the workplace were caused by free-market forces.   (The Botkins LOVE the free-market, but I'm not sure they get how it works.)
    • My husband is grateful that he's not a real man as described by the Botkins - and so am I.
  • "Third, women themselves aren't doing as well as the numbers make it look like.  Oh, we're doing better on the SAT test than we did before there were SAT tests - but our success rate as wives, mothers, and good helpers to mankind has gone nowhere but down." (pg. 49)
    • *Mel lost 15 minutes because she was laughing so hard she had an asthma attack."
    • If the Botkin Sisters, their parents and whoever else edited this book can't see the massive problem in the statement "We're doing better on the SAT than we did on the SAT BEFORE it was written", they need a rudimentary logic course.  
    • How do you calculate the success rate of wives, mothers and general helpers?  Is it a formula, survey or test?  How did you get the "before" sample?
Next Post: A Botkins History lesson and the definition of "statism" from So Much More....which I believe should be retitled So Much Worse: Marginal Homeschooling Essays.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

It's Not that Complicated - Chapter Three - Part One

The title of Chapter Three is "Boys Are People Too: Learning to See Men as God Sees Them."  I'm pretty sure the Bible makes it clear that humans can't see anything as God sees, but that's the least annoying problem in this chapter.

Overarching Themes:

  • There are actually girls who are so sheltered that a Botkins talk leads them to have a major breakthrough.
  • "She was at least twenty and looked like a sensible, practical girl.  "I wanted to thank you for your speech," she said, referring to a talk we had just given about relationships with boys, "but I especially wanted to thank you for one thing you said that's going to change my life.  The lights really came on when you said, 'Boys are people too.'.  I know this sounds dumb, but I had never thought of it like that. It completely blew away my whole approach to relationships." This girl wasn't being dumb; she was being honest.  She saw past the "duh" factor of the statement, and realized we were challenging the way she and most girls subliminally think about the other sex." (pg 31).
    • *Blinks*
    • Reality check: The age at which the majority of females realize that "boys are people too!" is between 11-14 years of age.  The idea that boys are totally mysterious and inscrutable critters is age-appropriate for junior high students.  The way our society at large has dealt with that awkward phase is junior high dances.    I know that conservative religious homeschooling families don't do dances, but they need to figure some kind of alternative out because learning this at TWENTY FREAKING YEARS OLD is not acceptable.

  • At best, you will be the third most important thing in your husband's life.  Don't complain because God made men and women that way.
  • "[Men] can't be understood in reference to [women] - in fact, it's more like [women] have to be understood in reference to them.  Because our place in relationship to [men] is not at the center of their universe, but at their side, helping them with what we were both brought into the universe for: work and dominion.  This might be starting to sound terribly unromantic, but bear with us as we examine the orientation of a man's life in more depth. "(pg 33)
    • The lack of romance is not my main concern; the fact that the Botkins described the human race as the equivalent of worker ants building a new nest site worries me far more.
    • I concede, however, that the description is also unromantic as hell.

  • "Man's first loyalty and love is supposed to be Christ, and we can never compete with that.  But in the second focal point in a good man's universe is going to be his calling in Christ, which is work and dominion.  And if we want to be part of a good man's life, we have to find our right place in this grand (and actually very romantic) adventure that we're supposed to share. (pg. 34)
    • I had always thought that the first loyalty and love of any Christian was supposed to be God.  Do the Botkins mean that women are excused from placing God first?  They harp on the fact we're supposed to do that in entire chunks I've excluded so far, but maybe that was added by their editor.
    • What does the word "romance" mean to the Botkin sisters?  I'm not seeing anything romantic so far.
  • "The grand romance God wrote for man and woman will be spoiled if the personal fairytale we  insist on writing in our imagination places us as the hero's reason for living.  God created man to have a dominion-focus, not a woman-focus, and failure to understand that can turn our fairy tale romance into a tragedy. (...) We must realize that we will never be the center of a man's life; and we will never be happy with the way men - any men - are, until we accept this.  But isn't it much more romantic to be at his side, sharing his mission?" (pg. 34)
    • Snap.  I just realized why this section seemed oddly familiar and creepy.  The Botkin sisters have independently recreated the character of St. John Rivers from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.  The title character of Jane Eyre falls in love with a man name Rochester whom she cannot marry because his insane wife is still alive.  She runs away to prevent herself from having an affair with him.  Jane meets St. John Rivers and works with him on several projects.  He proposes marriage, not because he loves her, but because he wants her to come to the mission field with him and he can't bring her unless they are married.  She refuses to marry him because she realizes that she would work herself to death trying to gain his approval - which she could never fully gain.  
    • The saddest part to me is the fact that the Botkin sisters have never been the center of any man's life.  I'm not talking about a boyfriend, lover or husband; they've never mattered enough to come first - even for a short time - in the lives of their father or brothers.  That's heartbreaking.
    • Perhaps "romance" is a synonym for "unrelenting work".

  • Females are completely unable to differentiate between media and real life; that's why Mr. Darcy and Edward Cullen have ruined boy-girl relationships due to emotional porn.
  • "We know that it's important to understand men, and so... we voraciously study them.  By that, we mean we talk to our girlfriends about them.  We read women's magazines about them.  We daydream about what they're like.  We watch romantic movies as if they were nature documentaries.  And we read lots and lots of romantic books written by women as if they were field guides.  (...) Then we have a real encounter with a [man] and discover that he's nothing like Mr. Darcy or Edward Cullen or the prince in Ever After.  He's not dashing or witty, doesn't know how to dress and only wants to talk about uprisings in Libya or cloud computing. (pg. 35)
    • Remember two things: romance books are written by women AND men don't need to be dashing, witty, well-dressed or capable of conversations that interest both parties.  The Botkin sisters forget both these statements as soon as they are written.
  • "Jane Austen's actual hero in Pride and Prejudice is a decent fellow - up-standing, shy, steady and somewhat bland - but with nice trimmings: tall, dark, handsome, mysterious and insanely rich. He's a blank enough character that we can superimpose our favorite qualities onto him.(...)" (pg. 36).
    • I question if the Botkins have read Pride and Prejudice.  This quote describes a character from the novel - but it's not Mr. Darcy.   Austen's Darcy has far more set personality characteristics.  He's shy, but he also has a biting way with words.  He's proud enough that he manages to insult Elizabeth Bennett during his first proposal.  He acts to protect his younger sister and Elizabeth's sister when she behaves badly.  
    • On the other hand, the description given by the Botkin sisters sound a lot like Mr. Bingly - the secondary romantic lead who falls for Elizabeth's sister Jane.  I haven't met many women who really like the idea of marrying Mr. Bingly.
  • "It's called emotional porn (...) When women plug their emotional caverns with chick flicks and chick lit, they become dissatisfied with the real men they know because they can't measure up to the guys from The Notebook, or Pride and Prejudice or Walk to Remember (sic)(pg. 37 - quoted from Alison Harris' article "Beating Darcy Down" in Kritik Magazine (4/15/2008)).
    • First, the men in Pride and Prejudice have plenty of flaws.  
      • Elizabeth's father can't support or control his daughters.  
      • Mr. Bingly can't make decisions without Mr. Darcy.  
      • Darcy's want to protect his own family's reputation allows a ne'er-do-well named Wickham to elope with Lydia Bennet. Plus, he often comes off as an entitled jerk - even to his friends.
      • Mr. Collins is a stuffed shirt parson who can't stop bragging about his rich patroness.
    • Second, The Notebook and A Walk to Remember were written by Nicholas Sparks who is.....a man.
      • In terms of men "not living up to" these books:
        • A Walk to Remember is based on the romance between Nicholas Sparks' sister and her husband.
        • I've known plenty of couples who married young and remained married even as one person slipped away due to Alzheimer's.  I bet some of the women were even initially in love with someone else.  This crazy, impossible situation is the rough summary of The Notebook.
  • "In many ways, Twilight's Edward Cullen was the modern reincarnation of Mr. Darcy. (...) The sparkling new Mr. Cullen is superhumanly handsome, brilliant, strong, rich, romantic, and most of all, superhumanly capable of unconditional love." (pg 37)
    • I must confess: I haven't read Twilight or watched the movie, but my high school students who did seemed as capable of finding boyfriends as the girls who didn't.

  • The strange undertone of actually wanting someone like Mr. Darcy, any Nicholas Spark's hero, Edward Cullen.....
  • "Ultimately, [romantic media heros] must also take on a different role, because real men are not all about what we wish they were all about....Us! As Edward tells Bella in Twilight, "You are my life now." (pg. 38)
  • I don't think it's a bad - or unnatural - thing to want to be the most important person in ONE other person's life. 
  • "Of course, it's not effeminate for a man to be polished, servant-hearted, handsome or sensitive to another's feelings; (....)" (pg. 38)
  • I skipped the three pages of explaining how all of the men in chick media are actually women in men's bodies.  (It was boring and repetitive as hell.)  
  • The discordant part is that the Botkin sisters can't bring themselves to say that women should prefer overtly masculine men.  They never write pages of how great the rough hands of a farm laborer are or how women should appreciate a man with grease under his fingers.  They don't talk about  learning about NASCAR, taxidermy, chewing tobacco, tricked-out pickup trucks, stained plaid shirts or Civil War Reenactments - conversations I have had with men in my local community.  No, their men are refined men who talk about "uprisings in Libya and cloud computing" (p. 35), taxonomic definitions of dinosaurs (p. 62), the history of Egypt (p. 64), music composition (p. 66), and building businesses (pg. 69). 
Wow....the Botkin Girls have a lot to learn.

Monday, February 8, 2016

It's Not That Complicated: Chapter 2 - Part Three's just 1.5 pages.  I can do this.  I can do this.

Overarching Theme: Women can cause one man to act totally different! See how David responded to Abigail and Bathsheba.

"Abigail's path crossed with David's right as he was determining to commit a crime - to avenge himself against her husband Nabal, who had insulted him and refused to help his fighting men.  When she heard what he was planning, she went boldly to humble herself before a stranger, and a "prince over Israel" - who was in a rage, with his sword drawn and out for blood. Instead of scolding him for acting unreasonably and immaturely, she reminded him that the was God's man, entreated his conscience and knowledge of the law, honored him for fighting the battles of the Lord, and urged him to keep on track with his mission.  An extremely beautiful woman, she wasn't trying to charm David, but to keep him focused on his mission.  And although she didn't offer herself as a pageboy or go-fer to David, her selfless and courageous act helped keep him on the path (as well as saving the lives of all the men in her household)." [The next paragraph is David's response to Abigail (1 Sam. 25:32-34)]. (pg. 23)

"....the blockhead Nabal was saved by his wife's behavior...." (pg. 24)

Let's look at this story in a little more depth since it takes up all of 1 Samuel 25.
  • Nabal is a very wealthy shepherd on the outskirts of David's kingdom and it's the middle of shearing season. (v. 2-4)
  •  David decides that Nabal needs to pay him back for protecting Nabal's holdings and sends a messenger telling Nabal to entertain him and his men since Nabal's in the middle of shearing and already has supplies available. (v. 5-8)
  • Nabal replies that he's not giving the meat and supplies that he had ready for his shearers to David's men because he has no idea who the hell David is (v. 9-11)
  • David tells his men to arm themselves when he hears of the reply and takes 400 men to confront Nabal (v. 12-13).  
  • Nabal's men think Nabal is making a bad choice since David's troops have been defending Nabal's land and tell Abigail that David is going to go bat-shit crazy on them (v.14-17).
  • Abigail loads up the food for the shearers and rides out to meet David without telling Nabal of her plan.  David is nursing one hell of a grudge (14-22).
  • Abigail throws herself at David's feet, informs him that her husband is known to be a fool, begs him not to kill him or his menfolk and points out that this isn't really a fatal offense (v. 23-31).
  • David realizes that killing Nabal is a really, really bad idea and thanks Abigail for her sage advice.  He also accepts the food. (v. 32-35)
  • When Abigail gets home, Nabal is having a huge party and is drunk.  Abigail decided to wait until morning to tell him of her actions (v. 36)
  • Abigail tells Nabal of her actions the next morning.  He's so angered, upset, whatever that he goes catatonic or comatose and dies ten days later (v. 37-38)
  • David hears that Abigail is widowed and marries her (v. 39-42)
Let's discuss how the Botkins mess with this story, shall we?
  • The Bible mentions two character attributes about Abigail: beauty and cleverness (v. 3).  I'm thinking the cleverness mattered more than the beauty in this story.
  • When the enraged leader of your tribe shows up to kill your household, no adult woman would fall back on scolding.   Pleading, begging, bribing, flattery - these are good starting points. 
  • I'm not seeing how Abigail was trying to keep David on a path as much as she pointed out that killing Nabal - even if he was a jerk - would rise up to haunt David later.  A small difference, I know, but Abigail wasn't pushing a "dominion" worldview so much as a "this is bad karma" worldview.
  • Remember how according to the Botkins the literal reason God created woman was to be a help meet for her husband?  Remind me exactly how that fits in this story.  Abigail betrayed her husband's plan.  While that was clearly prudent, "women = help meet" isn't about prudence; it's about following your husband like a lovesick puppy while he achieves some insane goal.   
  • Abigail didn't exactly save her husband's life; the best I can do is that she pushed his death back by ten days.  She had to tell her husband that she undermined his plan and consorted with David.  This literally broke him according to verse 37.  
To me, the Nabal, David and Abigail saga is about how women make the best of the bad choices available  when trapped between an unstable rock and a crusty hard place.    I've always thought the story of David, Uriah and Bathsheba has the same theme except that Uriah seemed like a much nicer guy than Nabal or David.
"Bathsheba appeared in David's life at another point of weakness.  The battles of the Lord were still raging, but he had sent his men off to fight without him and stayed comfortably at home.  While enjoying the view from his roof, he spotted a beautiful woman, bathing in view of his house.  We don't know that Bathsheba was deliberately trying to catch the eye of the king while her husband was away, but we do know that she allowed David to commit adultery with her.  And this time, David did murder the husband.  We can only imagine what Bathsheba felt when she heard the Lord's pronouncement against David:  'You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites.  Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.' Thus says the Lord, "Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house.  And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor...[and] because by this deed you have utterly scorned the LORD, the child who is born to you shall die." (2 Sam.  12:9-14). (pgs. 23-24)

To no one's surprise, the story of Bathsheba and David is more complicated and nuanced in 2 Samuel 11 that the Botkin sisters let on.
  • It is unlikely - nearly impossible - that Bathsheba planned for David to see her bathing.  Verse 4 states that she was ritually purifying herself at the end of her period while verse 1 implies that most people would think David was still away at the battle.  Unless she had psychic powers, she had the random misfortune of reaching the point where she needed to purify herself when David was skulking on his roof.  
  • Exactly how much choice did Bathsheba have in the matter of having sex with David?  David was in control of her husband's life - as is evidenced by the fact he has Uriah killed.  Plus, David had already proven to be hot-tempered and violent during the whole Nabal affair.   She was in the same shitty spot Abigail was: give David what he wants and let your husband live OR say no to David and watch him kill your husband.  She also made the same choice as Abigail: say yes to the armed lunatic.
  • Hell, this story wouldn't have been remembered if there wasn't a hitch: Bathsheba got pregnant while Uriah was away.  David needed to cover up the affair rapidly since the punishment for adultery was death to both parties (Leviticus 20:10).
  • As conservative commentators always gloss over, David's first response wasn't to kill Uriah.  He tried - almost comically - to get Uriah to sleep with Bathsheba after Bathsheba knew she was pregnant in verses 6-17.  Uriah refuses, not because he distrusts Bathsheba, but because that's not good behavior for commanders during battle.
  • Equally problematically, David had Uriah killed by sending a whole group of soldiers into an indefensible position.
  • Unlike Abigail, Bathsheba mourns the death of Uriah prior to marrying David.
2 Samuel 12 adds some more details that are important in the story of Bathsheba as well - and that the Botkin sisters managed to miss.
  • Did Bathsheba know of Nathan's prophecy that her son would die?  Probably not.  She gave birth to a son - but he died before he was named.  This means that he died before he was 8 days old.  Nathan prophesied between the birth and death of the baby and I have a hard time seeing David sharing that information.  
  • Bathsheba mourned the loss of her baby and David comforted her.
  • Did God blame Bathsheba?  The Bible implies that she is blameless since a) she's never cursed by Nathan and b) the next son she bore of David's was Solomon - the wise king of Israel who wrote the Book of Proverbs that the Botkin Sisters are so fond of quoting.  Since David had a heap of wives at that point, a clear message was being made when Bathsheba bore David's heir - that Bathsheba was a righteous woman, not the whore made out by the Botkin sisters.
Abigail tried to save her husband by betraying his plan against David; Bathsheba tried to save her husband by giving in to David.  The real moral of the story is that David did evil things when he had no one to stop his power - not that women have power over men.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

It's Not That Complicated: Chapter Two - Part Two

The third and fourth themes in this chapter are pretty straightforward.  The problem is that the Botkin Sisters decided to try and support their themes from the Bible - and the results are pretty funny.   The post got longer than I expected and I don't want to short the fourth theme, so this will be divided into three parts.

Overarching Theme:

  • Women in the Bible supported the men around them; women were never leaders.
    • "In the Bible, we see men leading the charge (for good or for evil), and women following, responding, supporting, and enabling (for good or for evil).  Even the women who weren't wives stepped into generally supportive roles towards the men around them, as we can see if we take a quick look at some of the heroines in Scripture." (pg 21.)
    • As I've read more CP books, I find word choices when the author is lying fascinating.  Notice that whichever sister wrote this section couldn't say that women were "into supportive roles" but were "into generally supportive roles".  After all, when you read the Bible, women behaved as independent agents with their own goals and objectives.

    • "Rebekah had no particular obligation to the strange man who showed up at the well, but she jumped to offer him more than the sip of water he asked for (Gen. 24:15-20).  Watering several camels was no light task, but she was looking for ways to serve and assist." (pg. 21)
    • That's a plausible explanation as long as you ignore Genesis 24:12-14 where the servant Abraham sent out prays that a girl who would be suitable for his master's son responds by giving him a drink of water and watering his camels.  
    • You could also look into the cultural history and emphasis on treating strangers respectfully since a) they may be relatives, b) they may respond to disrespect by slaughtering your family and/or c) they may be unrelated, but good marriage prospects.  Turns out in Rebekah's case that A and C are true.
    • More importantly, remind me how Rebekah is serving or assisting her husband in Genesis 27  when she orchestrates Isaac giving his blessing to Jacob instead of Esau by having Jacob dress in Esau's clothing, place a furry pelt on his skin to mimic Esau's body hair and hands Jacob a bowl of stew that Isaac had asked Esau to prepare for him.  Oh, wait.  She wasn't.  She was undermining her husband for the benefit of her preferred son. After all, Esau was her son as well.

    •  "We don't know whether Miriam ever married, but we do know that she was an aide to her brothers Moses and Aaron until her death.  And as Moses led God's people out of Egypt, she rallied the women in following him (Ex. 15:20-21)." (pg. 21)
    • She also joined Aaron in a rebellion against Moses since Miriam and Aaron were annoyed that Moses was more facetime from God (Numbers 12).

    • "When spies from a rival nation descended on Rahab's house, she chose to support God's forces and not her home city's (Josh. 2:1-21).  She didn't insist on going with the spy team, but she did risk her life to defend them and ensure that their mission would be successful." (pg. 21)
    • The Botkin Sisters couldn't resist that jab at women who "act like men" - but they should have read the passage more carefully.  The spy team had been discovered and was hiding out at Rahab's house.  Rahab protected the spy team initially, worked out a deal to save her family and helped the spy team escape from Jericho.  She even told the spy team where and how long to hide to escape the people chasing them!    "Going with the spy team" would have meant that her parents, siblings and nieces and nephews would have been killed during the invasion.  Rahab's deception wasn't an act of a submissive woman; she was protecting her family against a conquering force.

    • "Though she was away from the action, Jael knew of the battle raging between Sisera's army and the Israelites.  When God brought Sisera to her doorstep, she fearlessly jumped in to assist the Israelite army and cause, from the home front, using household items (Jdg. 4:17-23). (pg. 21)"
    • That paragraph made me laugh so hard I cried.  Jael?  Good ol' "Tent Stake" Jael? The woman who drove a tent stake through the entirety of Sisera's head by hammering it through his skull is described as "helping on the homefront using household items!"   The Botkin sisters ignore the fact that Jael - like Rahab - was acting against an ally, but I can forgive them that one because the description of Jael as a demure 1940's homemaker is causing me to crack up.
    •  Alas, their Bible doesn't include the Book of Judith or we could have had something like "Judith, a lonely widow, used her picnic supplies to help the fighting boys win!" *giggles*  I think that's an adequate Botkin-esque paraphrase of Judith calling the Israelites out as faithless wimps, getting gussied up, seducing the enemy's general Holofernes, chopping his head off with a knife when he comes to her bed then taking his head back to the Israelite encampment in a basket to place the head on a pike.  

    • "Deborah was a strong woman, during a time when the land was filled with men who weren't doing their jobs.  Even when pushed towards positions of leadership, Deborah never actually took the reins of authority, but rather extended them to Barak, and stood supportively behind him (Judges 4:6, 14).  She had to rally him, urge him and even accompany him as he led troops into battle; but in the end she succeeded in helping a man into leadership, rather than taking leadership herself." (pg. 21)
    • And now they are outright lying....
      • Deborah is described as the judge of Israel in Judges 4:4; the term judge is never applied to Barak.
      •  Remember how married women are supposed to be a help meet to their husband?Deborah's husband is alive, but except for that notation in Judges 4:4, he's not involved in the story.  So....Deborah - prophetess of Israel - is going against God's divinely ordained plan for her when she saves Israel if the Botkins are right.  
      • The comma in the Judges citation from the book is there for a reason.  In Jdg. 4:6-7, Deborah tells Barak that God wants him to march against Sisera and if he does so, he will be a hero.  Barak waffles and says that he will only go if Deborah goes with him in verse 8.  Deborah agrees in verse 9, but tells him that because of that, a woman will kill Sisera (e.g., Jael).  That's hardly a ringing endorsement of Barak as a leader.
    • So, this continues on for another page or so, but after this, it feels like they are laboring the point.   In the next post, we get to hear the Botkins take on Abigail's and Bathsheba's interactions with David. 

Saturday, February 6, 2016

It's Not that Complicated: Chapter Two - Part One

Chapter Two has the delightful title of "Why We're Interested in Boys And Why That's a Good Thing". This chapter can be divided into four themes, but two of the themes are so absurd that they need a separate post to deal with.  Today's two themes are strange in their own right.

Overarching Themes:
  • The Botkin Parents are incredibly weird.
    • I don't think Anna Sofia and Elizabeth meant to portray their parents as monomaniacal lunatics, but that's what outsiders will see them as based on these vignettes.

    • "It's a great testimony to our parents' wisdom that they knew how aware we were [about boys, marriage and romance] - and not only aware, but eagerly searching for information to feed our curiosity.  By highchair age, most of us have had a lot of exposure to romance, too. [This theme goes on for a while but can be boiled down to "see married parents" and "culture dumps romance down our throats"] (...) Mom and Dad knew if they  weren't filling our heads with the right ideas, there were plenty of other sources to fill our heads with the wrong ones.  So we remember having those serious highchair conversations as we chased our dry cheerios (sic) around on the tray and acted out dramas between the boy animal cracker and the girl animal cracker.  Mom would talk to us about being sensible about boys.  Dad told us there were good boys and bad boys, and he would help us know the difference.  Mom talked to us about being wives and mommies someday.  Dad would look at picture books with us - our favorite was a collection of Norman Rockwell Post covers - and he would tell us the story in each picture.  We were already eagerly soaking up information about relationships with boys, and we had plenty of questions.  "Why is that boy trying to kiss that girl?" "What are proms for?" "What's a date?" "Aren't those kids too young to get married?" "How is he going to support a family with nothing but marbles and a sling shot?" (pgs. 16-17)
      • Victoria Botkin was teaching her daughters to be wives, mommies and cautious around boys before they could eat at the dinner table.  Seriously?  
      • Geoffrey Botkin was teaching his daughters that they could never be trusted to judge the character of men.  That's insane.
  • Women exist solely to serve their husbands.  Failing to have a husband, women should serve their male family members.
    • God created men first for the purpose of "dominion".
    • "When God created man, He gave him a mission: 'Be fruitful and multiply and fill the Earth and subdue it.' (Genesis 1:28).  To take dominion over everything else that God had created - to "tend the garden", tame the wilderness, build nations, explore the unknown, manage creation and bring forth its treasures: cultivating its soil, mining its gold, silver and precious stones, naming and taming its creatures, studying its plants to learn their nutritional and medicinal value, and harnessing its natural energy.  God knew that this mission was too big for man to accomplish on his own, so Eve was tailor-made as "a helper fit for him" (or as the KJV translates it, "a help meet for him," Gen. 2:18)(pg. 18)"
      • The Botkin sisters pulled a fast one on the Bible verses.  
        • Genesis 1:28 reads "God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” 
        • Why did the Botkins leave out the first portion of that verse?  Because Genesis 1 gives men AND women dominion over the Earth rather than just men.  Acknowledging that causes the entire "Men are made for dominion and women for helpmeet" storyline to fall apart.
        • In Genesis 2, God creates Eve (a helper and partner in NRSV translation) after showing Adam all of the other creatures in existence - but dominion over the world isn't given explicitly until after the Flood a few chapters later.
        • The Botkins are REALLY into men are to dominion as women are to helpers.  It is the cornerstone of the entire book, unfortunately.
    • Because of women's "help meet" status, we can't avoid our fate - to be with men.
    • "But because of what God created us for, we can't escape from our need for [men].  Every woman's life is built around men and their leadership in some way.  Girls who run away from their fathers usually end up working for male bosses; women who refuse to commit to a man in marriage are frequently tossed from boyfriend to boyfriend; and feminists who build their identities around not needing men still define their lives and achievements in reference to men: earning as much as a man or doing any job a man can do.  Even the radical feminists who lead the charge against male authority were actually furthering the agenda of male social engineers (more on this is Chapter 3). (pg. 19)
      • This sounds more like anti-feminist propaganda from the 1950's than a reasoned discussion on problems within feminism.  
      • This paragraph especially reflects badly on Geoffrey Botkin.  His adult daughters - 25 and 23 years old at the time this book was written - believe that they will be treated like trash by male bosses and sleazy boyfriends if they leave home for any reason except under the protection of a husband.  
    • Unmarried women, then, are less than whole. 
    • "In the end, we can't do without [men] any more than they can do without us.  And we're not supposed to.  What about those of us who are never meant to marry? Even for women who have truly been given the gift of singleness or will never marry, this holds true.  All of us will have men in our lives that we will need to know how to relate to according to our created purpose as helpers.   Of course, a married relationship is the only place where our created purpose as helpers will be fully realized.  In other words, until you are married, you will not experience the level of unity that's exclusive to husband and wife or the full role of "helpmeet" that only applies to a wife with her husband." (pg.  20)
      • Generally, marriage-biased drivel like this makes me mad.  In this case, though, I have mixed feelings of schadenfreude and sadness.  When Anna Sophia and Elizabeth wrote this book in 2011, the brothers on either side of them (David and Ben) had married.   The sisters had a thriving public speaking ministry and no reason to expect to be single for very long.  Well, in 2012, Vision Forum - who gave a lot of business to the Botkins - collapsed due to sexual assault allegations.  In 2014, the oldest son, Isaac, got married. It is now 2016 and the Botkin sisters are still single and - in their own words - not fully realizing their created purpose.  That's gotta hurt.
    • Create absurd explanations for any Bible verses that directly contradict the "logic" shown above.
    • "But as we've already established, this doesn't - and mustn't- mean making men our ultimate interest.  1 Corinthians 7:34 says, 'There is a difference also between a wife and a virgin.  The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for things of the world, how she may please her husband.' (KJV)  This verse isn't saying that it's less holy to be married or that married women can't love the Lord.  It's also not saying that there is a conflict between loving the Lord and loving others (such as our husbands)." (pg. 29)
      • Actually, 1 Corinthians 7 is pretty firmly on the side of singleness.  Paul states repeatedly in that chapter that singleness is the preferred state according to God, but that marriage is not a sin and better than fornication.
The next post: How to shoehorn female Biblical characters into subordinate positions by ignoring most of the verses about those women!

Friday, February 5, 2016

It's Not That Complicated: Chapter One

The title of this chapter is "The Relationship Mindfield: What Makes Guy-Girl Relationships So Complicated" and begins with the definition of the meme "It's Complicated" from Facebook relationship statuses.

Overall Themes:
  • Relationships have always been hard, and will end terribly most of the time.
    • "The playing field has descended into a chaos of hazy communication, confusing expectations, unclear boundaries, non-existent accountability, and aimless direction where the only thing we can be sure of is the pain. " (pg 8)
      • Makes a girl feel confident about a dating relationship, doesn't it?
    • "No other season of life introduces a world of such intense and volatile relationships - or such high stakes - to such an inexperienced demographics.  We believe that women make most of their biggest mistakes during this window of life, between 13 and the 30s - and that most of them involve the opposite sex."  (pg 8)
      • Mistakes are most common when starting a new skill set.  Since the desire and ability to start a romantic relationship begins in the teens, that does make mistakes likely - and also means that 26 years later most women will have figured out the basics well enough to make romantic relationships easier.
    • "Ashley believed for years that Bradley was going to marry her and is now reeling from his announcement that he's engaged to a friend of hers.  Jessie felt unnoticed and neglected by boys until she met Omar online, who's now trying to convince her to run away from home to be with him.  Tiffany became afraid that her high standards for a husband were keeping her unmarried, so now she's "getting practical" in a relationship with a guy she knows might not be a Christian.  Candie and Jacob knew that they weren't old enough to get married, but let their relationship intensify to the point where their parents had to step in and put an end to it for their children's safety.  Esther can't believe she's still not married at 28 while other, "less pure" girls have been snatched up, and is starting to feel twinges of bitterness against God for this "reward" for her patience.  Kate had been Eric's best friend for three years and was sure the "next step" was coming any day, until he mentioned offhandedly in one of their heart-to-heart talks, "I don't see myself in a relationship anytime soon..."(pg. 9)
      • I have a mental image of Anna Sofia and Elizabeth curled up chummily on the couch writing out every bad relationship their friends have ever had with that glee that is strangely present in every CP book.
      • None of these anecdotes are dangerous situations when they are examined calmly.  Ashley and Kate found out a relationship didn't go where they wanted it to.  Jessie hasn't run away with Omar - and "running away" would only be an issue if she was a minor.  Esther feels hurt that she's not married yet while Tiffany decided she wanted to get married rather than twiddling her fingers while waiting for Prince Charming.   Candie and Jacob will eventually be old enough to marry given time.  None of these things are unusual or going to cause long-term problems for anyone.
  • We are victims of Big Romance-Feminism-Interwebs!
    • "Every year, billions of dollars are spent on messing with our heads.  Feeding women's appetite for romance is a very lucrative industry and we're a gluttonous audience.  (pg. 9)
      • Remind me to add more "romance purveyors" to my stock portfolio.... :-P
    • "Girls used to have a lot more protection and help through these problems than they do today.  Fathers and brothers used to provide screening and kept scoundrels on the right end of a Remington."  (pg. 10)
      • There's never been a legal right to threaten to shoot guys because they want to date your daughter or sister.
    • "Today, co-ed relationships stalk us everywhere.  Young ladies used to face young men at social function.  Now, the swains follow us home, and into the privacy of our rooms, popping up on our computer screens or cell phones, wanting to chat at all hours of the day and night.  And this time, there are no parents or brothers around to tell us when someone is pushing his limits, and when we are courting disaster. (pg. 10)
      • Oh, yeah!  Three co-ed relationships jumped out at me tonight when I got out of the car.  I had to hit them with my cricket bat.
      • Interesting fact: Electronic devices have power buttons.  If you don't want to talk, turn them off.
      • Girls may be too stupid to know when a guy is pushing his limits.  Women aren't. 
      • When I read this to my husband, he replied sadly, "This is what happens when you teach women to read." I would not be surprised if that sentiment appeared somewhere in a Botkins book.
  • We are amazingly educated and hip at the same time!
    • "Long before Facebook coined it as an official relationship status, every generation had its own way of saying "It's complicated."  As Shakespeare put it, back in the 1500's, "O! How this spring of love resembleth the uncertain glory of an April day!" A great deal of what we call Western Civilization was made up (as anyone who has ventured into classic literature or opera will observe) of people using the arts to agonize over the complexity "(pg. 7)
      • The Botkin Sisters have intellectual name-dropping down to an art.  I have to be impressed by pulling Shakespeare, "classic literature" and opera all in one paragraph.  Of course, the fact that Shakespeare and opera were the soap operas of their day seems to be lost on them.
    • Scenarios like these [referring to the paragraph about Ashley, Jessie etc.] aren't just the stuff of novels, Greek tragedies, chick flicks and comedies with heartless titles like Much Ado About Nothing." (pg. 9)
      • This was the sentence that made me really wonder how many of the items they've named-dropped the Botkin Sisters have actually read.  The paragraph they referred to has nothing in common with Oedipus Rex, Antigone, The Trojan Women, or Medea.  I will happily rescind that comment if  someone can find a Greek tragedy that revolves around teenagers having a minor heartbreak, but I'm not holding my breath.  Much Ado About Nothing is one of my favorite works of Shakespeare and the title is a great description of how Claudio goes bat-shit crazy and dumps Hero at the altar because he saw a servant having sex with a woman and called her "Hero" rather than her actual name.  I'll concede the generic "novel" category, but "chick flicks" have more meat than those scenarios.
    • And even if we shrink-wrap ourselves away from the risk of relationships, safety and freedom from pain are not possible in a world where we ourselves are stained with sin.  After all, "The only place outside of Heaven where you can be safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love," writes C.S. Lewis, "is Hell."
      • That is NOT what that quote means.
  • Because Bible!
    • "But God doesn't leave us to figure out what's right and wrong for ourselves.  He's has left us a handbook - His Word - packed with principles that answer even the most specific and personal questions about the most specific Bradleys and Omars.  We just need to open up that handbook and figure out how its principles apply to us and our boy situations."  (pg. 11)
      • I've always hated Bibles that are branded to certain groups like "The Message" or "The Bible for Married Women" or "The Bible for Cattle Farmers who live in the Midwest and Own Fruit!"(The last one is sarcastic....kind of....) I find them condescending because it implies that various subgroups can't figure out the Bible without special help.  This section feels like "The Bible for Worried, Unmarried Girls". 
      • This launches into ~3 pages of Bible references that could easily be summed up by "be nice to others."

On the positive side,
  • The reading level in this book is slightly higher than the Pearls.  There are very few syntax or spelling errors.
  • In an effort to make this book accessible to anyone in the CP world, the Botkins become so vague that no one could base a plan of action off this book.
  • Reading "Preparing to Be a Help Meet" made me feel like I needed brain bleach.  This book is so scattered, so vapid and so unintentionally ironic that I end up laughing through most of the chapter.
On the negative side,
  • There are 12 more chapters.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

It's Not That Complicated: The Introduction

While my brain continues healing after my car accident, I grabbed an easy to read book to discuss.

 I picked "It's Not That Complicated: How to Relate to Guys in a Healthy, Sane and Biblical Way" by Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin.

The Botkin Daughters interest me.  Based on their website, Anna Sophia was 16 in 2001 which means she's about 30-31 while Elizabeth is two years younger and 28-29 years old.  I'm 34, so we're contemporaries; all roughly members of the older end of the Millennial Generation or more specifically members of the Oregon Trail Generation.

Yet, there are so many differences.

The Botkin Daughters have written two books.  I've never written a published book.  I have a Bachelor's degree in science and education; they don't have advanced education.  If you saw pictures of Anna Sophia and Elizabeth along with a picture of me, reasonable people could expect that both of the Botkins would have married before I did.  I'm a pretty enough woman, but the Botkin sisters are gorgeous.  But I was engaged at Elizabeth's age and married at Anna Sophia's age while they are single.

So, with that introduction, we shall wade into the breach.

Overarching Themes:

  1. The authors show 'modesty' by detailing why they wrote the book in spite of their life experiences.
  • "A book about boys, romance, and relationships was not a book we ever thought we would write" (pg 1).    This is the opening line of the book, FYI. 
  •  "Though the fact that we're young women makes us uniquely qualified to say some things, it also means that there are certain things we're not qualified to say. (...) We're not we're not going to be talking about how to get married.  We're not parents we're not writing to parents.  But most of all, we're not men...which disqualifies us from telling all the young men how to do their part or get their own act together "(pg 2). 
2. Bible verses should be cited, but not actually quoted.
 Here's a fun game!  I'll list the Bible verses cited.  Give yourself however many bonus points you want if you know the verse before I list it from BibleGateway.

  • Jeremiah 17:9 (The heart is devious above all else;  it is perverse—who can understand it?)
  • 1 Timothy 2:12 (I permit no woman[a] to teach or to have authority over a man;[b] she is to keep silent.) 
  • Philippians 2:3-4 ( Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.  Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.)
  • 1 Timothy 5:2 (to older women as mothers, to younger women as sisters—with absolute purity.)
  • Exodus 20:12 ( Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.)
  • Ephesians 6:1 (Children, obey your parents in the Lord,[a] for this is right.)
3. Unmarried young women should be infantilized and overly sheltered even while reading this book.
  • "How to Read This Book:      
          1. From Beginning to End  This book was written to be read from (front) cover to (back) cover.  The stories and ideas in this book develop chapter by chapter, so you will get the most out of it if you start at the beginning and keep going until you come to the end.  Then stop."  (pg. 3)    This is the most condescending paragraph I have ever read.
  • "We encourage parents to read this book before their younger daughters do.  There are some somewhat mature topics in here (such as the concept of emotional pornography and the characteristics of the Proverbs 7 woman), though we have tried to handle them in a tasteful and non-defiling way, even for girls who have been more sheltered.  And although we tried to avoid unnecessary descriptions of evil, we did not avoid the fact of evil, or the fact that it wells up in our hearts, or the ways that it can come out in the lives of even a very conservative girl." (pgs. 3-4).  What is emotional porn? Is it like the 30 Rock episode where women can get pay-per-view of a handsome man who "listens" to them?  How young of girls are you expecting to read this book if they can't handle reading Proverbs 7 which warns against adultery?
4. Be like a Bereans! Read the verses we tell you support our ideas!  
  • "Acts 17:11 tells us of the "noble" Bereans, who "received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so."  Please don't take our words for any of the ideas in this book - study them out of Scripture to see if they are so.  (We've included Scripture references for many of the ideas and statements we make so you can do just that.)  (pg. 4)   I'm guessing that the Bereans read the whole of the Scriptures, not random verses detached from others.
Well, this should be fun.