Monday, April 30, 2018

Dominion Orientated Femininity: Part Four

I think I've moved on beyond my disappointment that we will never know what Anna Sofia and Elizabeth's point number three is in their podcast "Dominion Orientated Femininity".   My guess for the third point is "A dominion woman doesn't waste time on proofing media" - but I am open to suggestions in the comments section. 

Let's see.  We can cover points 4-6 today.   I should warn you; I adore point six for so many reasons!  Let's jump in:

Point number four is: a dominion woman is invested in the family that God gave her. One verse that we love to look at about this is Psalm 144. And it says in verse 12 "Let our sons in their youth be as grown-up plants and our daughters as corner pillars fashioned as for a palace." This is an amazing piece of imagery we have here. One of the Webster's 1828 definitions of the word "pillar" is "A supporter that which sustains or upholds that on which some superstructure rests." And this helps us understand a little more about what the role of a daughter is in her family. She doesn't just have an ornamental role. She`s there actually to help hold up her family to help support her family. But the other thing that I get from this verse is this is not a crude, roughly hewn pillar that this girl is. She's been polished, very carefully polished, so that she not only gives strength to the home, but she also provides grace and beauty to the home.

Anna Sofia/Elizabeth seems to have gotten swept away in the excitement of the verse and forgot that it's a piece of imagery.  The next verse says "May our barns be filled with produce of every kind; may our sheep increase by thousands by tens of thousands in our fields!"  I doubt the Psalmist was creating lists of what types of produce was in the barn or how the number of sheep could increase by a thousand-fold. 

In terms of describing the human offspring of the family, the Psalmist was symbolically saying "may your children be healthy, fertile and beautiful".   Let's be honest: childhood mortality rates were atrocious. The only social safety net for old age was having living adult offspring to support you.  Having a pretty daughter (or two or three) could mean a better marriage, more grandchildren and a comfortable old age.

It's unlikely that the main interests of families raising girls during Biblical times was raising a daughter who could bring grace or beauty to a home.  A strong girl who was skilled at the tasks of keeping a home, preparing food, making textiles and caring for the ill would be far more useful than a girl who could make the house look nice by arranging flowers.

It's also interesting to me this verse seems to presuppose that a woman would be living at home with her family. But we need to realize that there's a way a girl can live in her home without really living in her home. Her body can be there, but her mind can be somewhere completely different. Her heart can be somewhere different. We've known girls who have removed themselves from the home in every way except physically. And I think the reason is because all families have problems and some girls see the problems in their families and they become sullen. They become bitter. They give up on making anything change and daughters can help make things change.

 Some girls give up and they withdraw into themselves and into their own little private world. Their dreams, their fantasies, their novels, whatever they like to use to help them escape. They are waiting for something better. They say, "We're waiting until we get married. That's when our life is going to really start. That's the family that will be our real family." And so they're not engaged in the home. They're not engaged in the relationships there. They are not engaged in the business of the home. They're not trying to improve the atmosphere of the home. Their energies are not focused on their families and sometimes we've heard them say, "Well, uhnh! Why should I get really invested in this family because I'm just going to be leaving soon?" Those are the girls who never leave. Because what young man is going to look at a young woman who is not invested in the relationships God gave her and say, "That's the kind of wife I want! That's the kind of wife I want helping me and raising my children!"? Those girls do not usually get married. And so we all need to be invested in the families the Lord has given us right now.

I'm skeptical about using an ancient song to discuss the role of daughters in the home because the daughters are described as pillars in a castle.   If we're putting that much emphasis on imagery, the fact that the daughters were castle pillars instead of pillars in a home implies that God wants women to be outside their family at maturity.

In CP/QF homes, unmarried adults daughters have no power in the family structure.  Their father is the head of the household.  Adult sons living at home at least bring in money which gives them some power.  The mother in the household still maintains primacy over raising the children and has a far longer standing relationship with the father.   Telling unmarried adult daughters that they should change the issues within their family is absurd; they have no power to make anything change.

The reason that unmarried daughters mentally withdraw from their families is that they realize how powerless they are.  Staying enmeshed in their family of origin doesn't help adult daughters find a spouse to marry.   There are plenty of examples of good CP/QF adult women who follow this advice and pass years or decades as unpaid au pairs in their parents' home and businesses like Jana Duggar, Sarah Maxwell, Sarah Mally,  and, oh yes, Anna Sofia Botkin and Elizabeth Botkin.

And that takes Anna to our next point which is number 5: A dominion woman lives in the real world.

And I want to talk about something that a lot of us young ladies have a tendency to do. We women love beautiful, feminine, romantic pictures, don't we? But let me tell you something about these images. This is not a picture of the real world. This is not even an accurate depiction of history. This is not what women looked like during the Roman and Greek Era or the Medieval Era. These are romantic depictions of history. Real life doesn't look like this. Real women don't look like this. Real houses don't look like this. But we young ladies can have a tendency to idolize these beautiful, feminine, romantic images and to lose ourselves in the beauty and the romance. But this is something that we need to be extremely careful about. And when we look around our world and we can see that it's unromantic. It's ugly. It's ungodly. It's perishing. It's so easy for us to want to escape into these beautiful, romantic pictures and want to just lie around "Oh, if only the world were liked this! If only homes looked like this! If only we looked like this! I'm sure that things were much more romantic in history. It's too bad things are so unromantic now." This is a very dangerous thing for girls to do. And girls can do this by looking at pictures. They can retreat into books. They can retreat into movies, romance novels. There are so many different avenues for young ladies to want to escape to.


In the first few sentences, Anna Sofia manages to make a mish-mash of everything I learned in my history and humanities classes in high school and college.   I think she's talking about Romantic style paintings of events in Classical Greece, the Roman Empire and the Medieval Era.   I think that straightens out the first bit because the art types of Greece, Rome and Medieval Europe are not that similar.  Trying to make the images I remember from Greek and Roman art fit the description of "romantic" and "feminine" makes my head hurt.

Once I straightened that out, I realized that Anna Sofia was sharing the fact that paintings don't depict history accurately as a big, life-changing idea!  I'm both horrified and amused by that declaration.  My horror comes from yet another example of how frightening uneducated the Botkin family assumes their listeners are - and the Botkin presumably know that better than I do.  My amusement comes from the fact that my reaction is "No shit."   Have you seen a painting from those times that depicts smallpox scars?  How about women dying in or after childbirth?  How about crushed limbs from farming accidents?  Yeah, successful artists generally do well by selling what people like to see - pretty farmlands, healthy children, beautiful women - rather than what is really there.

If a person is lying around wishing they were alive in the 'good ol' days', they need to study history more.   Everyone enjoys physically taxing labor interspaced with disease and starvation, right?

And we need to be grateful for the battleground that God has given us. And not desire to live in a different sphere or a different generation or a different world or a world that never existed. It's not for us to wish that we could have authority in the gates. And it's not for us to wish that we could live in Jane Austen's England or Victorian high society and we really should not wish that we lived in Greek and Roman times. It's not for us to escape into fantasy worlds. This messed up world, this crooked and perverse generation, this America which is scheduled for judgement is the world that God chose for us. And it's the world that we need to be thankful for.

Got a Bible verse for this blanket condemnation of wanting to live in an easier time or place?  No?

The only sentence in that whole chunk that interests me is the one that discusses how women shouldn't want to have power in society or "authority at the gates".   The idea is out-of-place in the middle of a section on how women should be happy in the time and place that God put them because in Botkin-land women should never ever even aspire to be an authority.  I think that sentence gives a bit of insight into what life must be like for Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin.  They've grown up in the mutual fantasy world that Geoffrey and Victoria Botkin have spun where the Botkin Family is destined for greatness.  The parents and sons have carved up separate spheres of influence and are waiting for the day that God destroys the US and hands leadership over to the Botkins and their ilk.  It's a disturbing vision - but how much more disturbing is it when the Botkin Sisters realize that they've been handed the most inconsequential portion of rebuilding society?  Their job is to reshape women's roles into "helper of men".  See, I just did their job for them in three words; it's not that complicated. :-P   Their other job is to birth and raise children - but Anna Sofia and Elizabeth's children are not counted as part of the Botkin patriarchal line so getting husbands for them is not a priority for Geoffrey Botkin.

Anna Sofia/Elizabeth inserts a random quote by Rushdoony about how bad it is when people don't want to follow God's Law.   I'm skipping it because it is long, I can't verify the quote, and I'm not entirely sure that the speaker doesn't reflect on the quote in the middle.

After that, we learn that Anna Sofia and Elizabeth have done research themselves - online even!
Part of the reason that girls seek to escape is because they're bored. Part of the reason girls seek to escape is because they are not satisfied with where God has put them and it's the easiest way to deal with hardship. This is something that I've had a tendency to do. This is something that Elizabeth has had a tendency to do. I think that is something that we all have a tendency to do. And we need to be very careful about this.

Elizabeth and I have done a lot of research online and talking to young ladies. One of the things that we've noticed is that they all have a tendency to escape into novels. We didn't realize that this was as big a deal as it really is, but 90% of the young ladies that we've talked to have at one point been addicted to romance novels even if they wouldn't call them novels. It's partly because as homeschoolers we love to read, but it can become an idol for us as it has for so many of the young women that we've talked to.

Allow me to propose that the real reason for boredom among young unmarried women in CP/QF families:  the girls know on some level that they are being held back from fully living the lives God gave them.  The CP/QF unmarried women authors I've read seem to have natural talents including intellect and a willingness to work.  If properly educated and allowed to follow their own interests, most if not all of these women would be well-established in a career by their late twenties.  Women who are in their mid to late thirties could be leaders in traditionally female occupations like teaching early childhood, working in community health or home-care aide.    Instead, these women are spinning their wheels in family-based "ministry" businesses where they often do most of the work but receive none of the accolades or praise. 

Anna Sofia's declaration that 90% of homeschooled stay-at-home-daughters become addicted to "romance" novels makes me giggle every time.   I'm trying to imagine the physical side-effects of withdrawal from romance novels.  Maybe the young women become overly skeptical and morose.

Everyone needs a break now and again - and I think SAHD need a break more than the average person.  Reading a book - especially something as un-edifying as a Christian romance novel - is a tame way of rebuilding energy.

Now, I unveil my favorite point: Number 6!!!!  I love number six!

One of the attributes of a dominion woman - number 5 - was she lives in the real world.

Number six is a dominion woman embraces a hard life. And a dominion woman loves a hard life.

That's it. 

There is no more discussion, information, or elaboration on what a "hard life" is or what "loving a hard life" looks like. 

I suppose this lack of elaboration is because they didn't want the entire female component of the audience to start crying or defensively arguing.   From an outsider point of view, women in CP/QF have a brutally hard life from start to end.   They are trained from infancy to ignore their own wishes, wants, desires and talents in exchange for acceptance in their family.  Their academic education is minimal and undercut by implying that learning to do daily chores is the same thing as learning math or science.  Young girls are taught that physical and emotional purity is the cornerstone of their worth as a person.  The young women are indoctrinated that anything other than an early marriage that produces many children is a failure - but they are also prevented from socializing with the young men who would marry them.   If they marry, they will spend their lives juggling the impossible tasks of running a home and school on little predictable income while being pregnant or nursing.   On top of that, many married CP/QF women attempt to bring in income through an additional home-based business.  How the women manage to do that with all of the other work - and without making their husbands seem like poor providers - is beyond me.   Those who married young and continue having children into their 40's will be raising children until they are in the mid-sixties.   On the other hand, some women never marry and live with their parents their whole life.  Even in a healthy family, supporting one or more unmarried adult daughter can be a financial strain.  In an unhealthy family, the daughter(s) are continually exposed to the whims and caprices of their parents.  At the same time, the daughter is aware that she has failed to fulfill God's single, uniform plan for women: to marry and bear children.

Life is hard - but CP/QF creates crushing burdens for women.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Preparing Sons: Chapter 10 - Part Two

The second half of Steven Maxwell's chapter on raising preteen and teenage boys to be workers in "Preparing Sons to Provide for a Single-Income Family" quickly devolves into a mishmash of educational and vocational topics.  Generally I review the chapter in the order that the topics appear in the book - but this chapter makes the teacher in me twitch a little bit so I rearranged the sections in an order that makes more sense.   In the actual chapter, Maxwell covers computer literacy followed by starting a small business then segues into the evils of employment outside the family before doubling back to discuss college preparatory courses and creating real-life learning scenarios.   For my sanity, I've moved the section on college prep and project-based learning to after computer literacy to link all of the "homeschool" topics before moving into working outside the home.  The saddest bit of the change for me is that I suspect that the nameless non-family member proofreader that the Maxwells employ made the same suggestion and was shot down.

Ah, well.  Hopefully the proofreader gets paid well - or knows how to fire a client.  Perhaps going unnamed is a requirement on behalf of the proofreader.

I'm all in favor of computer literacy - but Maxwell wants major props for reinventing the wheel:

You will want to find computer application projects that require him to learn more. The spreadsheet is very common business application, but you will need to work on coming up with practical projects for him to use what he is learning. If he has his own business, there will be data from the business that he can use in a spreadsheet. We learn by doing. Your job is to find computer projects that will cause him to grow.

You might be good with an inexpensive, generic home office software package. After he has mastered the word processor, spreadsheet, and database, it will be time to purchase a professional business office package. This may be a significant expense, but it will pay dividends for his lifetime. Pray that God will allow your expenditures to be revenue-producing. Then your son will be able to finance his own learning experiences.

What will you do when your son runs into difficulty learning or using a software program? Will you let him quit in frustration? No! Encourage him to persevere, with Dad right beside him. Go to the library, and check out books. Use the web for research. (pg. 150)

Back in the late 1990's, I was in a weekly computer class at my elementary school.  The class was based on age-appropriate academic and business projects that we completed to learn how to use Word, Excel and PowerPoint.  In the early 2000's, I took two college classes on desktop publishing and Excel for general education credits.  Both courses' assignments were based on business or education-ready projects.   (Sidenote: Desktop publishing was a great class to take as a future teacher.  I learned a lot of design principles that let me create classroom materials that looked finished and professional quickly.)  In the last two years, I've taken courses on using R (a freeware statistics program that is very powerful) at my graduate program.  I'm sure you can finish the sentence - because the coursework was based on creating analyses of real data sets found in biological sciences.   

The funniest bit?  Parents don't need to create projects for their kids in these areas.  There are plenty of gently-used soft cover textbooks available on Amazon for under $20.00 that have more projects ready to use than a homeschooling parent could be expected to create.

The second paragraph is a tad dated.  To save money, I've used Open Office which is free for at least 5 years now.  (I think I might be closer to 10 years, but I'm not certain because I can't clearly remember if I was using Open Office or Microsoft Office on my desktop before I married my husband.)  Open Office has a few quirks if someone is used to using Microsoft Office but none of the quirks are deal-breakers in my opinion.   I find Maxwell's sudden solicitude on the price of Microsoft Office strange; a professional version of Microsoft Office (or similar) runs around $300; a home/school version is about half that cost.  It's certainly pricy - but this is a guy who humble-bragged about putting at least $1200 down on Delphi plus a refurbished computer for Joseph.  Unlike Delphi, the entire family can use a copy of Microsoft Office and learning Microsoft Office is a basic expectation for high school graduates today. 

Accepting that one of the costs of homeschooling a high schooler is purchasing a copy Microsoft Office makes far more sense to me than praying that the family will make money from having a copy of Microsoft Office.    The Maxwells have made that work by counting Sarah Maxwell's bookkeeping work for her brother's companies as income, but that feels a bit shaky to me. I think my main objection is that none of the Maxwell kids were allowed to go to college so I can only imagine how much more useful Ms. Maxwell's services would be if she had been allowed to get a finance or accounting degree.

The next topic we're going to look at is Steven Maxwell's ideas on educating teens to be ready for college.  The advice is underwhelming.

If you know your son is headed for college, you will want your son's high school courses geared towards college prep. You will have to spend time researching entrance requirements to potential schools your son might attend. Do this before he even enters high school so you can plan his course of study to meet, and perhaps exceed, the university's entrance requirements!

This would be a good time to check out scholarship criteria since this may affect the course is your son takes. We know a family whose son qualified for excellent academic scholarships. When his university rank the top academic students to determine the amount of scholarship money each would receive, the basic academic courses and test scores were so close that the school rated highest the students who had four years of a foreign language. Information like this can be very helpful in planning your son's high school courses. (pg. 157)

*slow claps*

That's pretty horrible advice on both fronts. 

Colleges list the minimum requirements for entrance. You do not want to educate your college bound child to the minimum requirements because there is no real benefits to being in the bottom 10% of an incoming class.  According to the College Board, most colleges expect incoming freshmen to have had four years of English/Language Arts, three years of math, three years of laboratory science, two and a half years of Social studies, two years of a foreign language and one year of an art/music/performance class.   That schedule leaves lots of space for electives so most high school students who have a sense of if they are more science/math types or humanities types adapt accordingly.  I knew I was a science geek so I took four years of high school math including AP Calculus AB and four years of lab science courses.   My friends who were humanities-bound took the less math and science than I did but took every elective writing course available.

Colleges have scads of scholarships available.  Looking up the major requirements for full-ride scholarships at colleges that a student might attend is an ok idea - but lots of those have individual requirements involving ACT/SAT scores, high school class ranking, GPA, strength of courses and tests created by the college.  A full-ride scholarship is nice - but the vast majority of college students receive a combination of scholarships and loans.  Most students are seeking to get as much scholarship money as possible and that's where traditional schooling has some advantages.  Traditional schools have a broad number activities available for after-school activities.  Many of these activities can lead to scholarships at the college level.  Personally, I received a scholarship that required a demonstrated history of leadership which I showed through my work in Peer Ministry.  This isn't impossible for a homeschool student by any stretch - but their resume is going to be stronger if their activities can be verified through an outside source like a community group or established church.

After shitty advice on how to prepare students for college, Maxwell decides to ad-lib some ideas about how to create project-based learning classes in for a homeschooler:

Courses could be developed for just about any interest. Working models of car engines are available. First he could build the model, and then he could write a paper about how it works. Next you could research air conditioning technology. Go to a junkyard and purchase the components of the system. Bring them home and reassemble them into a simulated working system. Finally take each piece apart and have him describe how it works. In similar fashion, courses for other interests can be developed. (pg. 158)

I created three science project-based learning classes at the last high school I taught at.  I had two separate issues in creating them.  First, creating a good quality project based learning class is extremely time consuming.  Let's assume Maxwell was describing an automotive technology class.  A good curriculum would start with a list of objectives describing the learning goals for the student.  A sample objective could be "the student will describe the function of the parts of an internal combustion engine."  The activities of building the model engine and writing a paper about how it works would (presumably) teach the objective and give the student a way to demonstrate the objective.  For the paper, the teacher would need to create a grading criteria for the paper so both the teacher and student know what is expected.   I'm willing to bet that building the model alone will not teach the kid how an engine works unless there is additional educational material like videos or readings on how internal combustion engines work.   Putting all this together for one unit (and that's one unit, not a course) would take me an hour or so - but would probably take a bit longer the first time a teacher did it. 

The second issue is that project-based learning classes get expensive quickly.  A good - but not great - model engine runs around $50.00.  A used-book on how cars run is around $20.00 - but could save the parent-teachers hours of work in terms of educational material gathering.  The cost of an automotive air conditioning system from a junkyard depends a lot on the junkyard - and how much work the family is willing/able to do to find and remove the AC unit themselves.  (Plus, junkyards are the last home of cars that have been through every other repair option so a working AC unit might be an impossible dream....)  Pulling the unit personally is much cheaper than having the junkyard pull it - but it does require having a bunch of tools available.   I really don't know how much the Holy Grail intact automotive AC unit at the local junkyard costs - but let's assume it's $50.00.   How many CP/QF families have $120 dollars to spend on two units of a course for one kid?  Remember, buying a copy of the professional version of Office is a major expenditure according to Maxwell.

Once Maxwell has shared his educational big ideas - in spite of never having taught homeschool himself - he shares his logic on shorting his kids' academic education to cram in extra computer time.

When our oldest sons were in high school, the Lord was not directing them to college. Therefore, we encourage them to study math only through Algebra II, using further math course time for computer study instead. They were seeing God leading them into having their own computer related business. The computer courses would be necessary for their vocations; calculus might not. If at some point the Lord showed them a change of vocational course that needed higher math, they could always study at at that point. (pg. 159)

Interesting fact: None of Maxwell's kids have been directed to go to college by the Lord!  I haven't been able to find the exact statistics to do the math - but the chances of zero kids attending college in a family of eight with one parent with a college degree due to random chance is pretty damn small.  In a different Maxwell book I snagged second-hand on Amazon, Steve and Teri share two anecdotes of their two youngest kids explaining why they personally don't need college when the kids were 15.  That implies that the Maxwell kids have been indoctrinated to view college as a waste of time.
Sadly, it would require massive amount of time input for the Maxwell kids - but mainly because their parents skimped badly on educating them the first time around. Compared to the College Board recommendations,  the Maxwell family homeschool graduates missed the requirements in English, math, science and foreign language.  They do hit the bare minimum in social studies and art - which is better than nothing, I guess.

Now, Steven Maxwell likes dropping his electrical engineering credentials to gain some level of respect - but his kids are so far behind on the math and science requirements to enter an engineering program that it's absurd.  Engineering schools expect freshmen to be in Calculus I - but many students will have already completed Calculus I in high school.  The Maxwells complete Saxon Algebra I and II. This puts them around 2 years behind; they would need to complete a Geometry class and a Pre-Calculus class.  In terms of science, the family only takes the most basic Apologia Physical Science class in 9th grade before stopping.   That puts them three years behind since they are missing biology, chemistry and physics.

Did Steven and Teri spend as much time explaining to their kids the fact that they were under-educating them as they spent teaching them that college was evil?  Do they have a plan for how an adult will catch up on 2 years of math and 3 years of laboratory science if God wants the adult to be a doctor or an engineer?

Did I mention what the Maxwell parents were swapping out instead of academics?  They were swapping out either working for one of the Maxwell family businesses in one form or another:

Nathan and Christopher to get a lawn mowing business when they were ages 13 and 11. Maxwell's mowing service was an excellent source of income and experience for them. To ensure that there was positive growth for the boys through their business, Terry and I gave it oversight as needed. We had a voice in the business decisions and also acted behind the scenes to provide quality control.

It would be worthwhile to list some of the benefits our sons experienced. The boys learn to work hard under physically difficult circumstances, as summers in Kansas are hot and muggy! They learned to manage money and performed business accounting. They acquired customer service skills. If their business was to succeed, they had to do their best. Within a couple of years, the boys were averaging $15 per hour each, allowing them to save a significant amount of money. They learn the importance of maintaining their equipment. They had to manage their time and spend it wisely. They were able to set their own schedule consistent with the needs of the family. They were never bored. They had good fellowship and avoided evil companions. They also developed a reputation throughout the neighborhood is hardworking, honest young men. A young man's business can be of tremendous profit, and not just financially. (pg. 151)

CP/QF leaders are hard-core believers in starting a family-run small business.  That's definitely one way to earn money - but it's hardly the only way.  Starting a business is hard.  Not everyone has the skill set to launch a successful business and not every business can make enough profit for an owner to use it as a single-income source.   The Maxwell Family already knows this; they've had plenty of successful businesses - but they've had businesses fail miserably as well.

Steven Maxwell began Communication Concepts Inc as a printing and online forms sale company.  Somehow, this company morphed into small-business freelance IT consulting business.  Until a few weeks ago, most of the Maxwell sons along with Steven Maxwell were prominently featured on the website.  Now, the only people on the website are Nathan Maxwell as an IT professional and Annie (the middle sister) as the call center representative.  In the strangest cross-cross marketing I've seen, the Maxwells (as of 2013) still list Communication Concepts Inc as the publisher for all of the Titus 2 books - including the "Managers of their ...." series, "Preparing Sons...." and my current favorite "Raising Great Conversationalists".

In addition to Communication Concepts Inc., Nathan and Joseph Maxwell started a company that sold web-based classes to prepare other homeschooled conservative people to pass computer credential classes.   ITonRamp survived for about four years before closing in 2015.  It currently offers one set of videos to rent for $65.00 for 6 months.  Sarah Maxwell is in charge of sending people who order the videos worksheets to complete on their own.

Christopher Maxwell was involved in Communication Concepts Inc specializing in photography.  Since his photography business didn't really mesh well with CCI's ongoing specialization in computer security, he spun off  his own photography business. He will only photograph weddings that have modest women's dresses, no alcohol and no dancing - and then implies that his schedule is open because of his own choices about his family rather than having eliminated 99% of weddings in the US.   He mentions in the pricing section that he has an assistant who travels with him, but needs a separate hotel room.   I suspect his assistant is either Sarah or Mary Maxwell.

In addition to photographing weddings (and possibly photos for internet sales), Christopher Maxwell has an underwhelming website advertising his skills at fixing websites for small businesses.

Sarah Maxwell is a daughter - but she's been the main force behind Titus 2's online presence including all of the "Managers of Their...." forums and updates since she was in high school. (This becomes weirdly clear if you read the family schedules in the "Managers of Their School" book.  Sarah's schedule from when she was 18-23 has most of the morning dedicated to working on "Managers of Their Home" work while Teri has no time available for that job.)  She's written something like 10 children's books that have been completely scrubbed of any questionable material like kids who disobey their parents.  She also does the bookkeeping for several of her brother's businesses.

Joseph is currently the lead designer at Swift Otter Solutions focuses on e-commerce site design, maintenance and support.  Steven, Christopher, and Jesse Maxwell are all listed as members of that company.  How Swift Otter is different from Christopher's separate business over at FourPointEleven is not entirely clear to me; maybe Christopher works only with sites that don't do business on the website?   In the section on "Work" for Swift Otter, there are ten completed projects listed - but there have been no new projects added in over a year.  The site is also offering free study guides for some Magento credentials in exchange for your email address.  I'm very curious why they want my email address that badly.

The only son who has stepped away from Maxwell conglomerate of businesses (a little) is John.    Instead, he has Maxwell Irrigation which offers an independent service of drafting irrigation designs for farms of all size.  Unfortunately, an independent draft of an irrigation design is useless if the farmer needs installation - and Maxwell Irrigation is light on experience in installing and maintaining irrigation equipment.    John also has a realtor's licence and his bio on that page states that he is a licensed Master Electrician and Master Plumber.  Being a Master Electrician is a major time-investment in Michigan so I was curious how he pulled off completing 12,000 hours of hands-on training in six years in a family that doesn't believe in working for others.  Silly me; Kansas doesn't licence electricians at the state level.  He might hold those credentials at the local level in Kansas City - but both of those simply requires passing a test and getting two people who work in the trade to vouch for your skills.  John's not entirely free of the Maxwell business snarl, though.  One of Christopher's sub-specialities in photography is real estate listings....

Ten adults of working age.  One non-profit ministry that sells a lot of materials.  Five for-profit businesses.  Two shuttered or failed businesses.  So many moving parts.

Perhaps a parent isn't quite sold on having their kid drag a mower around to the neighbors under the guise of a business.  Perhaps a parent is ok with their teenager working at the local greasy spoon or family owned business.  Don't worry; Maxwell can make that US rite of passage the doorway to hell!

The disadvantages of outside employment, if they are present, can offset all the advantages to include his paycheck. The pay is frequently far less than what the teen could earn from his own business. His boss dictates the hours of the son works. He can be exposed to significant worldly influences and temptations. It is possible that the worst negative could be for his heart to turn towards his boss or a co-worker. Work circumstances have even been known to lead to an immoral relationship at this vulnerable age. (pg. 153)

I got so busy tracking down the Maxwell businesses that I forgot to point out my pet peeve with the argument that teenagers can make more money working for themselves.   How did the Maxwell boys at age 13 and 11 finance a commercial lawn mower?  How did they take the mower to and from clients?  When the Maxwell sons were making $15 dollars/hour mowing lawns, was that amount before or after business expenses were removed?  How about taxes?  What did that work out to when including the dead time of late fall/winter/early spring? 

Yup.  A teenager who is old enough to work at a business (usually 15 or 16 years old) may well be exposed to swearing, visibly drunk or high people, unsaved coworkers and clients and people wearing standard American clothing.  I don't see the issue; if CP/QF adherents are supposed to be strong enough to change the entirety of US culture while converting everyone to Christianity, they need to know how to deal with US culture.

Having a teenager fall for a much different in age boss is rare enough; having the boss reciprocate those feelings in extremely rare.   Now, romances between coworkers who are teens are pretty darn common - but again - either CP/QF adherents can deal with being around people who don't believe in emotional purity and still hold their beliefs...or they can't.  If they can't, it's better to find that out at age 16 than at age 26.

Steven Maxwell's solution for this is....unique:

If you choose to let your son work outside the home, visit him often at the job. Make it a condition, with his employer, of his working there. Know who he is working with, and make sure he is learning beneficial skills. If he isn't learning, he probably shouldn't be working there. These are critical years in developing his life skills, and time cannot be wasted for a paycheck alone. If you sent his heart is drifting away from you even slightly, he needs to quit. Parents, you are responsible before God for this son; be zealous for God's best in his life. (pg. 153)

Good luck with that idea.  My parents saw me every once in a while when I worked at Meijers - but I worked in the guest service department as a cashier or bagger.   They didn't come traipsing after me in the backroom when I was sorting men's basics or getting clothing down from the hanging storage.  I can't imagine hiring a teenager who had a parent who was so controlling that the parent wants instant access to the teenager at all times - plus access to all of the teen's coworkers for the purpose of judging them.   It's just not worth the hassle.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Maidens of Virtue: Chapter 18

I'm sorry that I have to review this chapter.  As with many chapters in "Raising Maidens of Virtue" by Stacy McDonald, the material in this chapter is simply gross.  There's nothing particularly graphic in this section, but I do need to have a frank discussion about sexual assault within the context of military and warfare.   If this is going to bring up painful memories, please skip this post.

Thankfully, this chapter is blessedly short and I've only got three quotes to discuss.  The first quote is standard gender stereotyping:

Every little girl dreams of being a princess- especially one who is rescued by daring and valiant prince! Something in the female design relishes the thought of being cherished and protected by a man- first by her father and later by her beloved husband. This is evident in the way a daughter's eyes light up when Daddy says she's pretty and the way a young bride's heart skips a beat because her enamored husband fawns over her, insisting on carrying the " heavy things" - the same heavy things she managed to carry just fine before they met. It is in the face of an older woman who smiles at a young man who opens the door for her- a disappearing practice. (pg. 163)

I never wanted to be a princess.  The average princess of fairy tale lore has a miserable life.  She's orphaned, dealing with an abusive step-parent, kept in total isolation, and pretty much waits around for a guy to rescue her.   Additionally, princesses wore floofy dresses and heels.  For someone with minor mobilities issues as a child, the idea of trying to walk on stilts with material underfoot was terrifying.

No, I wanted to be an explorer.  I wanted to go to new places and create maps for other people to follow.  As I got older, I realized my courage wasn't equal to the risks of exploration - but I could lead students to new places as a teacher (even if the journey was a bit metaphorical).

As a child, I appreciated the fact that both of my parents loved me and protected me.  I also liked the idea of getting married and raising kids some day in the future.   I don't think I ever really thought of my husband as a protecting force.  My husband generally carries items that are too large, bulky or heavy for me to deal with - but he doesn't make a big deal about it.  I suspect the reason he doesn't preen about his ability to carry in the bags of water softener salt is that he grew up on a farm and knows he's strong.  Likewise, I did giggle appreciatively (and still do occasionally) when he moves something that seems insane to me like his ability to scoop up a 100 pound wiggly damp newborn calf and carry it across the barn.    That always blows my mind - but he points out that he's got much longer arms than I do so he can essentially bear-hug the calf.  My arms don't overlap so I often lose my grip on the calf.   The biggest difference between the newly married groom and my husband is that my husband pitches in as a matter of basic courtesy.  Yeah, he carried water out to the chickens when I was on a weight lifting restriction while pregnant with Jack - and he'd do that for anyone else who needed help.   It wasn't about flaunting his strength; it was about getting the job done effectively.

I generally cared for my son's NG tube including placing and taping the tube.  My husband was quite capable of doing it, but years of crafting, sewing and mass-batch canning has honed my fine motor skills so I could do more quickly and more confidently.   Honestly, placing the NG tube through his nose into his stomach involved a hand-motion very similar to threading a sewing machine needle and I had an easier time feeding the tube down until it was in Jack's stomach.

Cry me a river about disappearing social customs.  *rolls eyes*  The custom hasn't disappeared; it's just adapted.  The main rule now is the person who gets to the door first holds it open for anyone who is passing nearby.  The only exception is that someone who is unencumbered holds the door for people who might have issues opening the door.  Believe you me - I give a grateful smile and "Thank you!" to anyone who grabbed the door when I was carrying my son or dealing with a recalcitrant stroller or had two bags of chicken feed in my arms.

It is no longer unusual for a mother to allow virtual strangers to feed, nurture, and trade her infant while she heads her off to a self-promoting career. Sometimes the father is left home to tend the little ones and applauded for becoming a " Mr. Mom".  Roles are reversed, and everyone cheers.

In our day, young maidens even have the "right" to go to battle to protect and die for perfectly strong and able grown men who choose not to serve their country - or in some cases, not even working an honest job. Young maidens are given equal opportunity to crouch in muddy ditches, shoulder to shoulder, sweating and bleeding alongside " fellow" soldiers in combat. Equal opportunity might just end if she finds herself captured by the enemy, but we're not supposed to think about that. (pg. 165)

Good God, Stacy.  NO ONE leaves their baby with virtual strangers.   When people leave their children with caregivers - either in a daycare center, a home-based center, a relative or medical professionals - the parents get to know the caregivers dearly.  We never picked a primary nurse for Jack - mainly because his nurses were so awesome that we didn't want to exclude anyone - but we got to know the main 10-15 nurses who worked with him very, very well.  The nurses got to know us well, too.  I became the local "no, your teenager is behaving totally normally for a ____ year old" comforter while my husband was known for having great random explanations of how our son was like or unlike a newborn cow.

Yes, men have become much more involved in the lives of their children in the last 50 years - and everyone outside of CP/QF thinks that's a good thing.  I've been so glad that my husband has been directly involved in caring for my son.  I'm sure that it's good for my son - but I know my husband cherishes his time with our son.

Many conservative Christians revere the US military - and yet are completely oblivious to the actual realities of the military.   Currently, the US military is run entirely by volunteers; we don't have an active draft.  This means her yammering about unemployed young men not being in the army is completely pointless.  During both editions of this book, women were excluded from most combat roles in the military.   Mrs. McDonald did somehow realize a truth that many people have pointed out: the 15% of active military members who are women do end up in combat zones and are at risk.  What Mrs. McDonald misses, though, is that there is nothing new about women being present in combat zones.  Wars do not happen in unoccupied deserts or on mountain tops above human habitation.  Wars happen in agricultural fields, in towns, in villages and in cities.   Throughout history, women have followed armies as support workers of all stripes.   Since nursing became a profession, women have been in field hospitals to care for the wounded.  Having military women at risk of death or injury is not new.

Bluntly, only in the US have CP/QF women been cossetted enough to assume that the main way that women end up in danger during war is as soldiers. Most women who are harmed during war are local women who were simply trying to work and raise their families prior to the war - and who are still doing so in terrible conditions.

One of the horrible things about war is the history of sexual abuse of soldiers by captors and by comrades.  Now, Mrs. McDonald cattily reminds us that women are at high risk of being raped if captured during war.   Her off-hand bitchiness about rape is horrifying enough - but she also shows herself to be completely oblivious to the risks of sexual assault for men in the military.  The long-term physical and psychological issues for male victims of rape have been ignored for far too long.  A good first step was recently accomplished when a law was passed that allows veterans to access VA psychological support for sexual assault after leaving active duty so that members of the National Guard and retired service members can get badly needed supports.

Just like Grandma used to say, "If you act like a lady, you'll be treated like one." Likewise, if you act like a harlot, you can be certain there will be those who are more than willing to treat you like one. Furthermore, if you act like a man, you just may get what you ask for.

We do live in a fallen world, and many sweet young maidens have, in fact, been treated like harlots through no fault of their own. Similarly, many harlots who do not deserve honor have been treated with great respect bye well trained Christian gentleman, but the general principle still applies you will most likely be treated according to how you present yourself. (pg. 165-166)

Jesus.   Mrs. McDonald is gross.  Just....gross.

I don't remember either of my grandmothers saying the "if you act like a lady" spiel - but if they did, they only meant it in that case.  If you expect people to treat you with respect, most will.  My family feels that a more important example of this would be "If you treat people with respect, you will be treated with respect."  Stacy McDonald doesn't believe that all people are worth of respect.  Apparently women who are classed as "harlots" are no longer worthy of respect.   My family believes all people are worthy of respect.  We do that because we follow Jesus who was pretty straightforward in his beliefs that all people are worthy of basic respect. 

Stacy McDonald needs to read the Bible more.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Dominion Orientated Femininity: Part Three

This post covers all of the second point in Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin's podcast "Dominion-Orientated Femininity".   The Botkin Sisters are solid public speakers, but would greatly benefit from one or two classes in public speaking.  The lecture/conference breakout session/podcast covers the ten most important points about dominion-orientated femininity - but the discussion of two of the points take up half of the time.  Since the introduction to the topic took 25% of the podcast's running time, this left seven topics to be covered in about 6 minutes. 

Somewhere in the melee, point three got lost all together.

I'm really curious - but will likely never know - if the error occurred at the original conference and no one noticed in post-production....or if point three was lost during post.   I find it depressing that a family that prides themselves on starting an alternative media empire missed a mistake as obvious as this one.  Was it too much effort for one of the brothers to listen through the entire 37 minute podcast and pay attention?

Well, here we go:

Point number two is: a dominion woman understands what the difference is between real femininity and false femininity. This is important.

There are a lot of theories of femininity going around that we need to examine Biblically. For example, some people say, "Femininity is the opposite of masculinity". Well, certainly, we are supposed to be different from men, but that doesn't necessarily mean opposite.

Another one is some people think femininity is whatever the feminists have rejected. Well, that's bad hermeneutics. "Cause we have to be careful that we don't build our philosophy of womanhood or of anything else on a knee-jerk reaction to something bad as though the thing that's bad is what actually determines our morality. The Bible is our only standard and it should be our motivation to do right.

Some people say that Biblical femininity is any picture of womanhood that was around before the Woman's Suffrage Movement. Well, the thing is feminism has been around since the garden of Eden and it's had advocates in every single century.

This is entirely personal preference on my part - but do not give counter-examples before giving me the working definition. 

I agree that morals and principles should be defined positively instead of in reaction to negative things.

I've been thinking really hard about Genesis 1 +2 and I have no idea why Eve's decision to eat the apple counts as a feminist act.  No idea at all.   Adam ate the apple, too, then attempted to shift blame to Eve.  Does that mean failure to own and accept responsibility for one's actions is a masculine trait?  (You know, in CP/QF land, the answer to that question might be "yes" - and that scares me even more.)

So the actual meaning of femininity is really extremely simple and we see it in the first couple of chapters of the Bible. So here in Genesis 2 God reveals to us the essence of femininity when he shows us how Eve was meant to correlate to Adam. He said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make him a helper suitable for him." So, here we see the woman was made for the man like it says in 1 Corinthians 11:9. We see she's a different creature. She's made for a different purpose and her role is different which we see in Genesis 3. She is supposed to look different as we see in Deuteronomy 22:5. And we should rejoice in that difference because that is the difference that makes us complimentary to the man. And the purpose of this difference which we call femininity is to help masculinity and to suit masculinity. To compliment it and complete it. And the two of them together will be fruitful and multiply and fill the Earth and subdue it. We could sum up by saying, "True femininity is about helping men fulfill their calling. "

Who's up for a round of Bible Bingo?

Anna Sofia/Elizabeth Botkin starts out by quoting Genesis 2:18 - which is a strange choice out of all the options in that chapter.  The next action that follows God's statement isn't the creation of Eve, but the creation of animals meant to be partners for Adam.  None of the animals are suitable partners for Adam so God created Eve from his rib.   When Adam awakes, he doesn't proclaim "I've got a helper!".  No, he recognizes and rejoices that he has another person who is made of the same flesh and bone as him.    The major moral I've always heard from that story is that males and females are partners in doing God's will since God commanded Adam to care for the garden - and created Eve because humans need friends.

No discussion of female submission is complete without 1 Corinthians 11:9 "Neither was man created for the sake of woman, but woman for the sake of man."  Oddly enough, people who pull the previous verse generally miss 1 Corinthians 11:11-12 "Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man or man independent of woman.  For just as the woman came from man, man comes through woman; but all things come from God."  Equally important, verses 2-16 are discussing which genders should keep their heads covered during prayer.   The full argument follows that God created Adam in God's image, but Eve was created in Adam's image only so men who are the image of God should keep their heads uncovered during prayer while women who are images of humans should cover their heads.     Since Genesis 1:27 explicitly states that God created male and females in the image of God, we can safely disregard the questionable logic within 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 about female submission.

I'm very worried about what I'm going to find in Genesis 3 because I think Anna Sofia/Elizabeth has confused the gendered curses for eating the forbidden fruit with God's purpose in creating humans. 

*drums fingers nervously while waiting for a page to load*

Yup.  Yup.  Anna Sofia/Elizabeth has confused women's curse of the pain and danger associated with pregnancy and childbirth and men's curse of physically crushing subsistence agriculture with God's purpose for creating men and women.   I'm blushing on behalf of Anna Sofia/Elizabeth right now; I would have gotten marked down SO badly if I screwed that interpretation up in a high school essay.  I can't even imagine the level of embarrassment if I did that in my one college level religion class. 

OT: English needs a word for the emotion of embarrassment felt on behalf of another person who is completely oblivious to the fact that their action was awkward or inappropriate.  Do we have that word? 

And, yes, Deuteronomy 22:5 does state that men and women should wear different clothing.  That's the same chapter that states that it's immoral to plow with a donkey and an ox yoked together, immoral to plant a second crop in a vineyard and that linen-wool blend clothing is also immoral.  So...yeah.  Some Biblical precepts are not as universal as others.

The definition of "femininity" is "helping men do stuff".   How does that work in day-to-day life -even CP/QF life?  When a guy helps his friend do a project, is the first guy behaving femininely?  Is every man who works for wages feminine? 

I don't think the Botkin Sisters have really thought this definition out very well. 

Any departure from this is a departure from Biblical femininity. Throughout the Bible and throughout history we actually only see two kinds of womanhood. The kind that devotes its identity to helping men fulfill their calling and the kind that wants power over men. The first one lives a life of self-sacrifice; the later wants to have its own way. The later is what we call feminism.

 A lot of us think of feminism as being ugly and androgynous, but feminism appears in many guises throughout history. Sometimes it's trying to subdue masculinity with its womanly wiles and charms. Sometimes feminism is vain and narcissistic and self-absorbed. It's ornamental. It's useless. And it's not interested in helping men take dominion. It's interested in itself. And sometimes, it's trying to compete with masculinity and out man it. But there's one thing that consistent in all of these manifestations. Feminism is always independent and always self-seeking and its desire is to weaken and dominate men.

The Botkin definition of feminism is "women who want their own way in a self-important method for the aim of weakening and dominating men."   (That's the best working definition I can cobble together from the word salad in the last section of the podcast.)  In Botkin-land that definition makes some sense because they treat all rights as being a zero-sum game.  If women gain the right to vote, men lose.  When women work outside the home, men lose.  Clearly, that's not how the world works.  When women became voters, men had more potential voters to motivate to support ideas that were important to the men.  Having women in the workforce benefits male employers through the largest possible pool of qualified candidates and benefits male workers who are married by having a second income in the family economy. 

The argument that feminism is never self-sacrificial makes it clear that the Botkin Sisters have never cracked a history book open.   Issues that everyone agrees are feminism issues like voting rights, property rights and economic rights for women moved forward because groups of women were willing to sacrifice their time, energy and talents for the greater good of the movement. 

Of course, in writing the last two paragraphs, I've put more thought into the subject than the speaker ever has.  My rationale for that is that Anna Sofia/Elizabeth claims that CP/QF women believe that feminism was "ugly and androgynous."  That is a shallow and trite description even if feminism was horrifying evil that stretched over millenia that the Botkin sisters attempt to make it. 

On the other hand, perhaps the lack of depth in the description reflects cursory education of the speakers.  That might be more disturbing.

I generally listen to the podcast straight through at least twice while walking before trying to transcribe it.   I remember very clearly listening to this part and thinking, "Is she going to make a reference to Delilah?  She's not walking into that trap, right?"

Understanding this is extremely helpful when it comes to sorting through all the images around us. And there are two in particular that we believe are leading girls away from Biblical femininity. One is floozy femininity which uses its beauty to show off and try to gain power over men. It's what the world call femininity, but we cannot let it confuse us. It's distinct from masculinity, but it's not gentle and quiet. It's not modest and discreet. We should ask ourselves, "Is this an asset to mankind or is it a liability? Is it like Mary the Mother of God or is it like Delilah?" If we ask these questions and judge by these standards, it becomes clear that this kind of femininity is not Biblical femininity.

And then in the opposite camp, we've known girls who have turned away from femininity because they learned from Barbie dolls that femininity is for bimbos. And so they become bitter about their God-given femininity. They become ashamed of it. They try to hide it under men's clothes. Sometimes they become bitter towards men as well. And they're not complimenting men and filling that which is lacking.

Femininity is the process of getting things done for men (as defined before) - so why does gentleness, quietness, modesty and behaving discreetly have anything to do with femininity?  Sometimes a problem needs someone who can be loud and assertive.

Putting Mary the Mother of God as an opposite to Delilah is a hoot.  To her neighbors, Mary was an engaged woman who got pregnant by someone who was not her betrothed.  Later in life, Mary ordered Jesus to turn water into wine at a wedding after he had specifically said it was not time for him to reveal himself yet in John 2:3-5 and brought his siblings along to meet with him once he was preaching in Mark 3:31-35.   That's hardly the quiet, docile woman idolized by the Botkin Sisters  Delilah, on the other hand, was completing the job given to her by the leaders of her people the Philistines; she was finding out how to defeat the best warrior of her enemies according to Judges 16:4-6.   As near as I can tell, this means Delilah was a dominion-oriented woman since she helped men achieve their goals and Mary was a raging feminist because she placed her goals ahead of Jesus.

So this is the challenge of trying to rediscover Biblical femininity, trying to sort through all the images and stereotypes from the past. Looking for good examples. There are many great legacies for us in history if we can find them. We have to remember no era and no image is perfect.

We have an amazing opportunity before us right now to build a new culture of femininity. Something completely new and different on the foundation of the Bible alone. Now, Reverend William Einwechter who's one of our favorite theologians, he explains, "The Hebrew word for help - as in helpmeet - ezer- comes from two roots. The first meaning "to rescue or save" and the second meaning "to be strong". It indicates one who is able and who has what it takes to come to the aid of someone who is in need. Thus God created the woman so that she would be able to come to the aid of the man and be his support and help". She's only going to figure out her purpose if she realizes his. "And thus it is absolutely keeping with Biblical womanhood, imperative even, for a woman to understand and appreciate men and their world."

One request to the universe: I never, ever want to read another CP/QF book that includes a discussion of the root basis of the Hebrew word for "help meet".   Those kind of discussions can be fascinating when there is some disagreement over the basis of the word or when there isn't a great English equivalent for the word.  When the words "help meet" is pretty darn close to "ezer", the author is simply wasting time and increasing the word count. 

And so people have often asked us, "Is it feminine for girls to be inspired by the masculinity of their brothers and their fathers and to enjoy the things that their brothers are doing?" I would say the answer is yes. I think it's feministic for girls to grow up having a contempt for those things. And girls who are trying to understand their position as women need to eschew the false notion that women live in different worlds. We were created to be different, but we live in the same world we have the same goal. And in our pursuit of being women, we need to make sure we don't abandon our men and one thing we need remember is that brave adventurous men need women who can come alongside them in the rigors of their lives. And sometimes that means going outside and helping your brother build a tree fort. Sometimes it means when you're married helping your husband build his house. Femininity is not all about staying inside the house and feeding upon sugar and cream and and cross-stitching. That's another thing that Elizabeth and I had to figure out along the way.

Anna Sofia has painted herself into a corner again.  The Botkin definition of femininity is "helping men do dominion-oriented tasks" so presumably the definition of masculinity is "initiating and doing dominion-oriented tasks."   Female humans of all ages are supposed to feel inspired by men who do dominion-oriented tasks and should lend a hand.   I can follow the logic - such as it is - up to this point.  But why shouldn't women also initiate and complete dominion-oriented tasks?   According to Anna Sofia, women do not have a unique set of skills like being sheltered and cross-stitching that needs to be preserved.  If that's the case, why shouldn't a girl build a tree fort even if her brothers aren't into that? 

I think Anna Sofia and Elizabeth have only worked out part of the puzzle and I hope they figure out the rest this side of heaven. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Preparing Sons: Chapter 10 - Part One

Welcome to Steven Maxwell's chapter in "Preparing Sons to Provide for a Single Income Family" on how to raise sons between the ages of 13 and finishing school!  I feel more competent to discuss this age-group than any of the other ones since I've spent most of my working life teaching this age group.  Personally, I enjoy working with pre-teens, teens and young adults.  They are in a period of life where they are sampling and re-assessing the world for themselves.  Often, this requires occasional moments of friction against authority figures - but those stages are important for growth.

Like the two previous chapters, the first section in this age group deals with the teenager's spiritual growth.  A large portion of the section involves teaching the teen to use the Bible like an instruction manual:

You can also use this approach to help your son  "practice" making Biblical decisions on situations he might face in the future, such as: What if your boss asked you to lie? Would it be proper for a married man to have lunch alone with a woman not his wife? What if the other woman were sales representative, and it was strictly a business lunch? What if a woman co-worker asked for help to save her marriage? Let him study God's words on these issues as part of his training and applying scripture to decision-making. Not only will that skill be developed, but he will also be equipped with a Biblical basis for facing such situations if they ever arise. This will help him to see that the Bible can be applied to discerning God's direction. (pg. 140)

Oh, Lord.  The Maxwells have a stricter version of the Pence Rule than Mike Pence does. 

Equally disturbing - why would a teenager not already know the accepted moral answers to most of these questions?  Small white lies for a boss are okay like screening calls to avoid sales representatives or helping set up a surprise retirement party.  Big lies are not a good sign and should be avoided.  Yes, business professionals have lunch with people of the other gender all the time.  That was relatively rare in education (mainly because teachers tend to go to lunch or dinner in massed clumps) but I had plenty of lunches with my male advisor without a smidgen of attraction between us.  Don't help co-workers with their marriage.  Especially important: do not help subordinates with their marriages.

The second section covers how to get the teenager into the masculine world of preaching or teaching:

If you are not aware of preaching or teaching opportunities, ask the Lord where you and your son could share publicly. Our country is full of nursing homes with residents who are hungry for someone to spend time with them. What better use of time than to share God's word with them? (...)

You can make your ministry at the nursing home a church-type service, as our family does, and include many of the children. Take turns with your son being the preacher or teacher. You share one week, and he can the next. If any of your children are learning to play an instrument, let him play while you or an older child leads the group in singing. It will be an incredible time of growth and service! (pg. 141)

Leave it to the Maxwell family to add a new terror to old age.

 A music group I was involved with in high school performed at local retirement and nursing homes.  We bought a variety of standard Christian hymns along with pop hits from the 1930's and 1940's.  The hymns were nice - but people got really into hearing the songs from when they were teens.  More importantly, we stayed afterwards and chatted and played games with the residents.

The biggest irony for me about reading this book is that the Maxwells have managed to isolate their kids even while attending "church".   By holding services at a retirement home, the Maxwell kids are kept away from pesky children, teens or adults who have different worldviews.  Elderly folk may have a different worldview from the Maxwells - but Steven's got that covered by having his kids kept busy between playing music or preaching.

All the bragging rights of attempting to convert a captive audience with none of the risks of having the kids being exposed to other people.

Now, we've covered pretty extensively how sheltered and micromanaged the Maxwell Family is.  For anyone who is unfamiliar with "Managers of Their Homes" the Maxwell Family routinely schedules every activity from rising to sleeping.  I can see the benefits of having a daily schedule especially when homeschooling a massive family - but when a 23-year old Sarah is still being scheduled right down to a slot for showering, things have gotten weird.   Based on that level of control, you might assume that Steven could rest assured that his teens were gaining plenty of character simply by living.  You'd be wrong; that's why Steven has weekly meetings with each kid aged 12 and up:

Any topic is fair game for meeting as long as it is discussed calmly, in a spirit of love. Most weeks I will ask a son how is quiet time is going, what struggles he is having, and if he's having trouble with his thoughts. If there are problems with his other siblings, these will be discussed. If there are character issues I've observed, I will bring these up. Seldom is there a negative reaction from my son as he received the concerns from a loving daddy's heart. In addition, I asked my son whether I'm doing anything that is causing him difficulty. Occasionally I will question him to areas of hypocrisy in my life to which I am blind. I absolutely love my meeting time with my children. Friend, I treasure those minutes! (pg. 142)

Goody goody gumdrops.  Not only is the Maxwell Family constrained to a life of stultifying boredom but the boredom is only broken up by the fact that Steven Maxwell is making lists of character issues and intersibling spats to drag up weekly.  At least, I hope that the sentence about siblings describes inter-sibling issues; I'd hate to think that Steven discloses character issues that his other kids are struggling with. 

I can't imagine trying to get through my teenage years without having the sanctuary of my own thoughts.  I could rage against my parents, fume about my sister and I's last spat or fantasize about my dream boyfriend without having to confess everything to a prying, controlling father.

I would be much less skeptical if Steven would elaborate in a serious manner some of the areas that he's been hypocritical - especially those areas pointed out by his sons.   First, Steve has always minimized his flaws compared to everyone else's in the universe.   Steven's habit of flying small planes was setting his family back a huge chunk of cash - but Steven weeps when service workers discuss which casinos they like.  Guess what?  Visiting a casino on a service worker's income is much less of an imposition than flying planes are for a family of 5.

Second, Steven has controlled the money, career, educational, and shelter options of his sons.  Only Nathan, Christopher and perhaps John have careers that are mostly independent of Steven - and I'm far from certain that Christopher and John are fully financially independent.  Joseph and Jesse are in a business at least partially owned by Steven.  When this book was written, only Nathan had his own house.  The other four boys lived at home.  How honest  could (or should) those sons be about any hypocrisy they see in their dad?

Next, Maxwell discusses how to promote leadership among sons.  I pulled out this quote because it reminded me of efforts by college applicants to make participating an average volunteer experience sound like the most amazing life-changing experience ever:

Each year Christopher organized the group's spelling bee. He oversaw it from beginning to end. First he had to locate and motivate the children to participate. Then, over time, he would check with the spellers to make sure they were working on their word list. He recruited judges, a pronouncer, and a refreshment coordinator and made sure that they each understood their role. He confirm the facilities were reserved and set up. Those of you who have overseen an event know there are other jobs that need to be managed as well, but you get the idea. All in all, it was an excellent chance for Christopher to lead.

Christopher, with Sarah's help, was also responsible for organizing the children's programs that were held during the parents' meeting. They had to plan every minute of the evening so that the children would spend their time productively. The goal was to teach the children material that was profitable and practical. Christopher and Sarah would recruit other young people to help. They work through the details of the evening and often had an organizational meeting. The children's programs were an excellent opportunity to practice leadership while ministering to others (pg. 143-144)

The "group" was a pre-existing homeschool support group.  Finding children to participate was as simple as sending home a flyer with the parents.  I don't know where the spelling bee was located, but we can rent a community room at the local library for free.  Reserving the room took about 10 minutes on the phone at most - and probably a lot less now if I can do it online.  Since Sarah and Christopher were already seeing the kids at the children's program,  checking in on the spellers means saying "Hey, champ!  Getting ready for the big spelling bee?"  The hardest bit would be finding judges and a pronouncer if they weren't using parents of the kids in the bee.   Personally, I'd start bothering all the English teachers I know, but I don't know how the Maxwells dealt with that.  I love the title of "refreshment coordinator"!  I'd have just set up a list of items to bring by last name of families involved in the bee and called it good. 

I hope Christopher and Sarah found other teenagers to help with every children's program - and held multiple organizational meetings for each one.  That gives me hope that they might have had a few moments of unsupervised time with peers at some point during their teenage years.

The last section of the chapter I'm going to discuss today loosely fits the idea of training a son to a vocation.

An important method to raise successful sons is to never, ever miss a chance to bring up how not following Steven Maxwell's advice lead to a business failure.   The next quote section is about Eric's Christopher's first business that failed:

Eric had his own graphic design business for two years. He loved throwing his heart into making successful. Unfortunately, he would have starved had he not been living with his parents. His father wanted to teach Eric programming, But Eric only had eyes for graphic design and wasn't interested. (pg. 17)

One excellent way to stir the desire for working is by helping your son start a business. Remember Eric? Even though he was not learning programming as his father wanted, he still benefited greatly from his startup graphics design business. By staying busy, Eric did not have the time or the desire to hang around with the guys. For 2 years, he poured his heart into making his business successful. (pg. 146)

The "best" thing about the Maxwell's belief in all children living at home prior to marriage is the financial and career control Steven Maxwell maintains.   

Nathan showed interest in computer programing and Steven Maxwell approved of that.  Steven Maxwell used his connections to help Nathan land his first external job at Maxwell's employer.

Christopher was interested in graphic design and that was not an approved choice by Steven.  Graphic design can be a hard field to get started in - especially without a college degree or work experience in the field.  Perhaps Steven tried to drum up some business for Christopher; perhaps the collapse of the aerospace engineering firm Steven worked at made that impossible.

Oddly enough, Christopher never was encouraged to go to college to get a graphic design degree. Was that because Steven Maxwell knew (at some level) that the homeschool education provided to his sons was subpar?  Graphic design might avoid the pitfalls in science and math - but the family's absolute lack of study in fictional literature would be painfully obvious in a humanities class. The existing websites created by the family show some writing quirks shared among the boys that might signal lack of experience in writing.  The Maxwell kids studied instrumental music since it was a way for the parents to show off the skills of the kids - but they received minimal visual art exposure or training. 

Apparently Joseph learned from Nathan's and Christopher's examples.  Joseph demonstrated an interest - and hopefully some talent - in programing - so his dad opened his wallet.

Leading your son towards more work and less play may mean providing him with the necessary work tools. When Joseph was 12, he was progressing well in programming, web page layout, and graphic design. Unfortunately, we did not have a computer available as often as he needed it. So we found a refurbished, brand name system that was very inexpensive, but quite powerful. Then Joseph had his "own" system and was able to spend more time on the projects that challenged him. Parents should be willing to invest financially in sons, if necessary. (pg. 146)

For reasons of honesty, the last sentence should strike "if necessary" and replace it with "to reward those who follow the family plan".   

According to the last chapter, the Maxwells had already spent at least $1,000 dollars to buy a professional copy of Delphi for Joseph - so dropping another $200-500 dollars on a solid refurbished computer system sounds like the next illogical step.   Now, a full-time course load of classes at a local community college for Christopher would run around a total of $1,300 dollars - and he'd likely qualify for financial aid or loans.  But funding a traditional college education for Christopher would reward him for disobeying Steven Maxwell's whims and possibly lead Christopher to question the Maxwell way of life so best to nip that in the bud.

The last quote is an excellent example of Maxwell's completely non-descript inspirational characters:

Billy, a sixteen-year-old, had been helping the young man who owns his own service business. Billy is not able to work full-time because of school, but with the hours he's putting in, he's gaining significant experience in this trade. By the time he graduates high school, he will know if this is something that he wants to pursue full time.

Troy chose to attend college. The vocation skills he learned during his high school years enabled him to have a high paying contract job while he attended college. If young people would concentrate on learning marketable skills at this age instead of majoring in entertainment, many would not have to borrow for college, vehicle, or house. (pg. 147-148)

I am very much in favor of vocational training especially for students who are clear on the fact that going to college sounds like hell.  I believe that the US system of education took a wrong turn when vocational training was eliminated due to a combination of cost and concerns about overly rigid tracking.   Many community colleges and unions have excellent vocational training available at reasonable rates.  On the other hand,  CP/QF families are at higher risk for being scammed by for-profit vocational training institutes that do not deliver on their promises.  The example I was aware of in my area was ITT Tech before it went bankrupt.  Male members of ATI/IBLP are at risk of being scammed through the ALERT Academy  (mainly because I don't trust any organization that offers EMT prep without disclosing the pass rate of the graduates.)

Is Billy's boss ITT Tech or the local community college?  Is he learning responsible management of hazards or is he learning shortcuts that can lead to massive fines later on?  Is Billy really learning the trade or is he getting a valuable shadowing experience while doing menial tasks?  Is Billy working on customers' jobs and is he fully qualified to do so?    I'm all about an enthusiastic 16-year old changing the oil on my car; I don't want the teen to be replacing my brakes unsupervised.

Anyone remember Troy?  Troy was the high schooler who started schlepping boxes around at a business and was promoted to archive manager within a year.  He also made a really nifty set of Excel documents to keep track of the archival materials.   Troy may have been the lucky soul who landed contract work making Excel documents while going to college - but plenty of successful college graduates I went to school with worked at local retail or restaurant establishments during college and still became lawyers, doctors and teachers.   Don't overthink it.

Well, that's it for today.  In the next post, I try and track down all of the Maxwell Family businesses.....

Monday, April 16, 2018

Maidens of Virtue: Chapter 17

Well, the chapter "Daddy's Fair Maiden" in Stacy McDonald's mother-daughter book "Maidens of Virtue" does an excellent job of portraying how creepy the idea of a father keeping his daughter's heart safe prior to marriage sounds to the rest of humanity.  Along the way, Mrs. McDonald takes swipes at non-CP/QF teenagers, offering age-appropriate Sunday Schools at churches, and the entire idea of Youth Group at churches.  Really, all this has done is make me extremely worried about any churches that hired her husband James McDonald as a pastor. 

We may as well jump in at the beginning:

Emily waited for her parents by the water fountain, the designated meeting place after Sunday school class was over. She watched the young people file out of the classroom. Many, she knew, did not claim Christ, although they came to church and Sunday school each week - a prerequisite for attending Friday night youth group. Youth Group - this was one of the seemingly many activities she wasn't allowed to join. Emily tried to shrug off growing sense of resentment. Why did her family always have to be so different?

Emily's parents had asked her if she would join them in their adult Sunday school class, so they could all learn together. She already attended the worship service with her parents, instead of sitting with the " youth kids." Emily had begged to remain in the teen Sunday school class at least until the end of the year, and her father reluctantly agreed. All the other kids at church were in age segregated classrooms -she didn't want to be different again. (pg. 155)

An important technique for creating a realistic fictional character is to map out their backstory.  An author would be well served by answering some questions about Emily like how many siblings she has, where does she fit in the family birth order and how old Emily is before launching into writing the story.   I bring this up because I have no idea why Emily is waiting for her family at a water fountain if she's old enough to be in a youth group and around people who are old enough to date.  If she has a ton of younger siblings who can't be trusted to head out to the car, that makes sense.  If not, is Emily too immature to make it to the car?

Let me get this straight: Emily's family attends an age-segregated church where they allow her to attend the teenage section under protest but won't let her go to the youth group or sit with the other teenagers at the service.  Those kind of parents tend to bring up three possible concerns for me.  First concern: the teenager is in a domestic abuse situation with one or both parents and is being isolated to prevent intervention.  Second concern: massively over controlling parents who are trying to keep their teens dependent on them.  Third concern: the teenager has such severe behavioral issues that they cannot be left alone without potentially bad outcomes. 

Has Emily's family asked anyone about if Emily (and any younger siblings) are welcome into the adult study group - or are they simply going to spring this on the facilitator/pastor? 

The parish I grew up in was relatively low on age groupings simply because it was a small parish focused on reaching Catholics who felt marginalized in "normal" parishes.  We had a much higher than average population of single parents, divorced parents, members with developmental or intellectual disabilities, and an entire group of Deaf Catholics.   In that setting, most of the classes held in the day or evenings were open to anyone who wanted to attend - usually.  The major exception was that some classes were covering topics that might be disturbing to kids, involved a long-term committment to a project, or involved people sharing life experiences like abuse or drug addiction.  Parents were assumed to steer their kids away from classes like that. 

I'd hate to be the presenter covering sexuality in marriage on the day that Emily's clueless parents trot their extremely sheltered daughter in to class....

Mrs. McDonald spends a few paragraphs making sure everyone knows that the other teenagers at Sunday School are unsaved heathens who are not worth the time to characterize.  Eventually, she drifts back to her main character:

Although Emily had many good friends, at the moment it seemed as though she didn't have a friend in the world. Confused by her intense desire to fit in, she temporarily lost sight of the wonderful family she had. For a moment she even seem to forget God. (pg. 156)

That paragraph was written to immunize the mothers reading this book against taking their daughters' heartfelt loneliness too seriously.  See, Emily isn't really lonely; she's got good friends who are so great that they don't even get names*!  Emily can't be lonely if she has a family!  Families fulfill every need a human has!  Loneliness is a sign of idolatry because if Emily is lonely she's putting humans before God!

*I described this quote to my husband.  He blinked, paused for a moment and said, "They name their girl children?  Shouldn't their names be given by their husbands?"  He paused for a moment and said, "Saying that makes me feel gross." 

Yes, my love, reading these books makes me feel gross, too.  That's why I write the blog.

She knew Brittney's dress and behavior did not honor God, yet Emily found herself drawn to her magnetic personality and even a little jealous of her sophisticated appearance.

Emily look down at the simple, pretty dress she was wearing. Her mother had made it for her last summer, and Emily had relished the time spent alone with her helping to sew on the lace trim and silk buttons. She had thought at the most beautiful dress she had ever seen and had twirled around as fast as she could to make the skirt form a circle in the air. Somehow, she now felt strange and conspicuous in her beautiful dress - maybe even a bit silly. (pg. 156)

*gasps and clutches pearls*

If Emily's behavior doesn't honor God....does that mean that works matter?  What kind of hard-core Calvinist are you! Brittney might be a member of the Elect -and won't Mrs. McDonald feel bad when she find that out later.

The second paragraph is a sweet reflection on the joys of sewing that leaves me wondering just how many siblings Brittney has.  If Brittney's an only child or youngest child at home, cherishing time alone with her mom doesn't make much sense.  If she's an oldest daughter in a massive family, it makes more sense (along with the water fountain meeting point) but makes me worried about how many kids are going to be dragged to the adult Sunday school class. 

On the sewing point: what kind of dress was Brittney wearing?  Lace trim goes into and out of fashion pretty regularly so that seemed reasonable on a teenager's church dress.  Silk buttons, though, were jarring.  I've only ever worn silk buttons on prom and wedding attire.  Maybe Mrs. McDonald meant fabric covered buttons which would have been dowdy on a teenager in the 1980's - but I think it would have been possible.  Or perhaps Mrs. McDonald knew exactly what she meant and Emily wearing a potential wedding dress to church every week to signal that she's of marriageable age....

Brittney sashayed passed Emily with an entourage of admiring boys. Emily wondered what it would be like to have boys look at her the way they looked at Brittney. She blushed as she imagined dressing in Brittney's clothes and enjoying the same attention. Emily knew Britney dated; she imagined what it to go out with a boy. Her mind continue to wonder...

Her thoughts suddenly switch to her father and how disappointed he would be with her recent thoughts. She found herself feeling ashamed and confused. (pg. 156-157)

CP/QF authors often describe teenage vignettes that I've never seen before.  I've never seen a teenage girl with such raw sexual appeal that scads of young men follow her around like ducklings to the exclusion of all other girls.   Teenagers are descended from people who managed to mate successfully.  Finding a potential mate or romantic interest is as much a numbers game as anything else.  Unless Brittney has a group of wing-women with her, guys who she's not that into will break off and find other girls.  Heck, if Emily wants the guys to notice her in her wedding dress Sunday dress, she could try talking calmly and attentively to Brittney..


Emily feels ashamed because she thinks her father would be disappointed that she has sexual feelings.   That's a seriously messed up way to raise a kid. 

She's more than old enough to have sexual feelings and thoughts.  Emily's not done anything wrong under the vast majority of moral codes.  She's not leering or behaving in behaviors that make others uncomfortable.  She's not engaging in premarital flirtation let alone premarital sex. 

Teaching Emily to associate sexual feelings or thoughts with shame is setting her up for a hard transition to married sexuality....

Emily had felt secure and protected the day her father had taken her hands in his and promised to protect her until the day he placed her hand in that of her husband. She had agreed not to give her heart away, but instead to remain emotionally and physically pure before marriage, and trust her parents guidance through courtship instead of dating (Isaiah 62:5)

"Where's my fair maiden?" asked a strong, loving voice behind her. Emily snapped out of her reverie of discontent and faced her protector ashamed. He stood beside her mother, his admiring eyes and cheerful words reminding her of who she truly wanted to be - her father's fair maiden. (pg. 157)

Did Emily truly have the option of saying no to her father's offer of "protection" in return for accepting a courtship model of dating?  If a person can't say no, they cannot really say yes either. 

That quote from Isaiah 62 has nothing to do with courtship, emotional purity or dating.  It's describing that God rejoices in Israel in the same way that a groom rejoices in his bride. 

There is a clear, bright line between the familial affection between parents and children and the inappropriate incestuous abuse.  This story is on the moral side of the line - but, damn, it's close to that line.   My dad and mom were often proud of me and happy about how mature and grown-up I was becoming.  The word "admiring" is a bit more ambiguous since it can imply an ownership of the other person or can be used to describe appreciating someone's sexual attractiveness.  With the public testimony of the Willis family's oldest daughter that she was sexually abused by her father starting in early childhood through when she left her home, I'm very sensitive right now to readers of this book who might be in a similar situation.

Then another thought hit her. What if she were to dress and act like Brittney? Not only would she not be able to bear the disapproving gaze of her father, but what would her future husband think of her? Would he turn and run? Would he want to marry someone who behaves like a loose, silly girl? Or would he be waiting for a true maiden of honor-has her father had done? Emily glance tenderly at her mother.

In stark contrast, she turned to see Brittney hanging on a boy's arm, laughing indiscreetly. She contemplated further: if he were interested in someone like Brittney, would Emily really want to marry him- a man with no depth, no standards or wisdom, lit only by his visual, temporal pleasures? No way! (pg. 157)

Hi, Emily's mom!  I'm glad you've received a token acknowledgement of existence.  This whole story makes me wonder if post-menopausal women continue to exist in CP/QF life - or do they disappear after they can no longer reproduce?  Equally importantly, women have traditionally been in charge of teaching their daughters the sexual mores of a community.  Women also take on the majority of monitoring their daughters' adherence to the mores.  Handing that job off the to men - even the girl's father - feels inappropriate.

Notice that Mrs. McDonald is slut-shaming Brittney for being more popular with the boys than Emily.  Brittney's not done anything inappropriate so far.  She's touched a guy's arm while flirting and laughed loudly.   That's normal operating procedure for Midwestern/Great Lakes teens.  In terms of wisdom, Brittney's not spent the last few minutes obsessing over what her father thinks of her budding sexuality so I'm giving the wisdom badge to Brittney.

So...Emily wants to marry someone as judgmental towards others as she is and expects him to be as confused and conflicted about sexuality as she is.  Cool.  That sounds like a match made in heaven.  *shudders*

The story wraps up with Emily giving her dad a hug followed by a completely far-fetched change of heart by Brittney:

Emily didn't notice, but Brittney had caught sight of the precious father -daughter embrace, and a curious pang of longing struck her heart. What was it like to be loved and protected the way this young girl was loved and protected? How much does it feel to be so confident of God's love that you didn't have to beg for the wrong kind of attention by stooping to flirtatious stunts? Emily was one of the only girls at church who appear different to Brittney.


Brittney had met many Christians at this church, but she hadn't met anyone who seemed to be so much different than anyone else you knew. Maybe Emily and her family were really different - maybe they had some answers. She decided to ask. (pg. 158)

Yes!  Go have dinner with Emily's family.  That will end well.   Emily is smouldering with barely repressed jealousy towards Brittney who she's pre-judged to be a whore.  Emily is transferring all of her budding sexual energy into her relationship with her dad.  I'm sure Emily's mother is totally ok with all this energy between her husband and daughter. 

In real life, teenagers will pick a budding romantic relationship with a peer over a healthy hug between a random father and daughter.  Thank God for that - it will keep Brittney away from this crazy family.