Saturday, December 28, 2019

Joyfully At Home: Chapter Eight - Part Five

Merry Christmas!

This was the first Christmas Spawn was old enough to have some idea of what is going on.   We celebrated with my family on Christmas Eve and will be celebrating with my husband's family later today. 

My dad helped Spawn unwrap a Christmas gift.  They carefully took the paper off and Spawn cheered with happiness when he saw his present was an Amazon packing box.   Spawn then happily patted all the sides of the box and looked completely satisfied that he had received such a nice box!  It had sides!  It was the perfect size for him!

There was a moment of distress when my dad opened the box - but finding out that the box had FLASHLIGHTS in it was even better!

Earlier this week, we celebrated Spawn's first Christmas party at school.   That was absolutely amazing and funny.  Spawn was so excited to show off how much faster he could walk with his walker at school that his entire body wiggled.  I'll never forget him charging down the hallway yelling "YAY!  YAY!  YAY!"   The morning Special Ed class which has 7 boys, one girl and an average age of 3.5 joined the Young Fives class across the hall to sing seasonal songs.  A song where the kids bowed at the waist caused so much excitement in the older group that some kids fell over from the momentum of enthusiastic bowing.  Meanwhile, the little kids were seated and bowing completely randomly so they looked like they were doing "The Wave" at a sports game. 

It was everything a Christmas party with little ones should be!

Speaking of situations that are joyous, high-energy and a bit chaotic.....that's how I remember crushes and dating!   Happy, fun, a bit messy; who knew preschool parties were early preparation for your love life :-P

Except - in CP/QF land. 

In a failed attempt to make dating safe, they've created a model of courtship that moves the stakes much, much higher emotionally without making the experience more fun.

See the following example:
The sixth way that helped me was to wait and see. We don't know what the Lord's plans are for our lives are. Someday we might pray vehemently for feelings to be removed that were meant to be there, and will continue to struggle with them until the object of our emotions marries us already (did I just say that out loud?). Someday, we'll pray vehemently for feelings to be removed and will wake up one morning to find that they have been. In any case, we have to wait patiently, and to strive to be faithful while we wait, to trust in the Lord Sovereign timing, and his plan for our lives. (pg. 98)
Man, Jasmine was SO close to seeing the crazy-impossibleness inherent in Emotional Purity (Emo-Pure). 

Emo-Pure Assumption: Attraction is only Lawful towards your Future Spouse.

Problematic Result 1: I am attracted to Man, therefore he should marry me!

Reality: You can be deeply attracted to someone who would make an awful spouse.  Some people with personality disorders are very charming and make their partners feel deeply special at first.  More broadly, there are a lot of stand-up, kind, hardworking men who are good husbands - but would be miserable with me - and vice versa.

Problematic Result 2: I'm praying my knees raw in hopes that God will remove these pesky feelings - except these feelings turn out to be lawful since we get married in 2021.

Reality:  We can't read the future - but Emo-Pure makes women and men repress sexual feelings about their future spouses.   That's a weird, weird thing to do to a couple.

Practically, Emo-Pure causes surreal behaviors like the ones shared in the next quote:
The best thing you can do as a young woman to encourage Godly manhood in the young men around you is to allow them to initiate. This does not mean that you avoid him like the plague ( your lack of attention is almost as noticeable as being over attentive - I remember once, I was so enamored with a young man that every time he came around, I would dive into the ladies room or hide behind my dad or look off in the other direction while he came walking up to talk to me. It seemed completely logical the time, and, of course now, every time I think about the wounded look on the poor man's face, I'd like to sink into the floor), but it does mean that you don't take opportunities to treat him with any more deference than you would any other man. (pg. 99)

Emo-Pure is so fucked up that Jasmine thought the best thing to do when approached by a guy she was attracted to was to hide in the bathroom or duck behind her dad.   Remember, this guy isn't going to proposition her to have sex right then and there; he just wants to talk to her.   Talking to a member of the opposite sex isn't a sin.  Hell, it's not even approaching an occasion that might lead to sinning unless one or both people are looking at each other as sex objects rather than people created in the likeness and image of God.

Emo-Pure is so fucked up that 19-year old Jasmine is chiding her younger self for telegraphing her emotions by absence as much as she is for making the poor guy feel like a leper.   Most likely, the other guy thought she hated him for some unknown reason. 

Do Americans treat anyone with deference as a matter of course?  I'm struggling to think of an occasion where I treat someone with deference.  I can only think of times where I am around someone who is highly knowledgeable in an area that I am not.   Conversely, Americans prefer that authorities respond to deference by making the subordinate feel welcome rather than keeping the proper level of separation between ranks. 
Enjoy the new year!

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Joyfully At Home: Chapter Eight - Part Four

So I'm dealing with a mild bout of the stomach flu.  Thankfully, Spawn is still healthy and I'm feeling a bit better everyday.

We put up our first full-sized Christmas tree yesterday!  My husband and I never bothered before we had Spawn - and this was the first year that Spawn seemed old enough to enjoy a full-sized tree.  I made a bunch of melted pony bead ornaments that Spawn can play with around the bottom of the tree - and he was SO excited when we put them on the tree together.  Spawn has always been fascinated by the play of lights and color so semi-transparent plastic ornaments are his version of heaven.

As I reflect on the joy and excitement in my son's eyes, I feel mildly queasy (and not just because of the stomach flu) at transitioning to the deadening, constrained world of Jasmine Baucham's "Joyfully At Home".  In Chapter Eight, Jasmine discusses scads of ways for young women to deal with crushes - but always avoids the obvious solution of getting to know the guy a young woman is crushing on.

Today's first theme: As an maturing young woman approaching marriageable age, double-down on over-reliance on your parents!  It's Biblical!

That leads me to the third way to control our reaction to our feelings, which is to trust your parents' counsel. If you are a young woman who has purposed to submit to the biblical counsel and accountability of your parents during the courtship and marriage process, now is a good time to practice. Be honest with your parents about your feelings for certain young men. Take to heart their admonitions about things you need to work on before you are ready to be married. Consider any praise or reservations they may have about the young men in your life, especially those whom you are particularly interested in. Speak frankly with them about qualifications for your future spouse, and be open with them anytime you think you may have met that young man. I don't know about you, but I'm not planning on entering into an arranged marriage. If I expect my parents' wise aid in choosing a spouse, I need to make sure they know where I am emotionally at all times. Their counsel and their involvement is, as I have said time and again, invaluable. (pgs. 96-97)
Since Jasmine brought it up, how Biblical is it to rely on parents during courtship? 

Most of the isolated verses about children obeying their parents comes from Psalms and Proverbs.  I've got nothing against either of those Books - but in Evangelical understanding of how the Bible was written - the books were written or compiled by King David and his son King Solomon.   King David routinely turned against God's Laws all the time - and was the husband of many, many women.  In fact, his son Solomon was the child of Bathsheba whom David seduced or raped while she was married to another man, got pregnant, and eventually killed Bathsheba's lawful husband Uriel to hide David's sin.   Solomon started out on the right path but eventually turned to worshipping other gods.

Ironically - these two examples make my point better than I can.  In an ideal CP/QF world, a bashful maiden and a chivalrous young man can meet and marry through the careful and dutiful actions of their parents.   In the real CP/QF world, fathers can be as flawed and venial as David.  After all, David ignored Tamar's rape at the hands of Ammon as effectively as Jim Bob Duggar ignored Josh's attacks on multiple women.  In spite of that, Jim Bob was allowed to arrange four marriages for his five oldest daughters.  At the time of this writing, Jinger's spouse seems to be financially and emotionally present in his marriage; Jill, Jessa and Joy's husbands are financially dependent on the Duggars and/or emotionally fried.

If I had asked my parents what I needed to work on to be ready for marriage when I was 19 like Ms. Baucham, they'd have told me to finish college, get a job, live on my own for a while and then think about getting married.   Would the Bauchams be that enthusiastic about young women following the wise words of their elders if their elders told them to run for the hills away from stay-at-home daughterhood?

Finally, when I was dating, a book called "Marry Him: The Case For Settling For Mr. Good Enough" by Lori Gottleib was causing all sorts of angst and hand wringing by various people.  The premise of the book was simple enough: some women have absolutely insane requirements for a future husband that have no correlation with being happy.  Ms. Gottleib admits that she would only date men who fell in a small window of heights so that she could kiss them easily barefoot while not being taller than her husband while wearing heels.  Ms. Gottleib found dating much more pleasant and productive when she realized some of her requirements were insane - and some of her requirements were great like that her date treats wait staff respectfully.   The reason I bring this story up is that young women should be very  certain that their parents are making recommendations about future spouses on important criteria like kindness, gentleness, employment history and communication skills. 

The reverse of that is being aware when parents have criteria that are patently absurd.   The Duggars have a 423 question survey before courtship that includes asking "23. Are you willing to die for Christ? If you are not dying daily, how can you be so sure you would then?" and "50. How many times have you read through your Bible?".  I suspect many people have managed to have pleasant, fruitful marriages who differed on the answers to those questions.  In a similar vein, all of the Maxwell sons have owned a house within a mile of their parents' home because the Maxwells drone on and on about the importance of owning a home and staying deeply sheltered after marriage.  Yet, anyone who is not a Maxwell knows couples who have had long, successful marriages in the absence of home ownership and while living far from their family of origin.

Today's second theme: Consumption of romantic media is the real reason we have crushes!
The fifth way to control our reaction to our feelings is to remove things that irritate are symptoms. Romantic literature? Check. Love songs? Check. Frivolous talk of future romance? Check. Movies where in love is the central plot? Check. Even reading courtship stories? Oh, yes: check. You know what I found out? I miss those things more than I like to admit. Because as miserable as my little obsession made me, I liked pinning my hopes on what I perceived as a dashing hero. I like the flighty roller coaster feeling; I even someone enjoyed the tinges of misery. And that let me know that I was casting myself in the role of a romantic heroine instead of seeing myself for what I really was: a young lady who needed hope in focusing her heart's affections on God's will for her life, not her own romantic inclinations.(pg. 97-98)
Humans have managed to have crushes, fall in love, marry and reproduce LONG before we had movies, books and courtship stories.  Desire for sex and reproduction is hardwired into most animals; humans are no different.    Honestly, I've never been into romance novels or rom-coms or chick flicks but I still had plenty of crushes.

Both the Botkin Sisters and Ms. Baucham have brought up the dangers of romantic media - but I suspect the reason romantic media has such a strong pull at SAHDs is because of boredom and fear.  Being a stay-at-home mother is exhausting, exasperating and monotonous at the best of times - but stay-at-home mothers are raising their children and running their own home.  Cleaning the kitchen ten times a week can drive anyone mad - but at least the kitchen is yours.   Being a stay-at-home daughter brings all of the monotony of being a stay-at-home parent with none of the rewards.   A stay-at-home daughter is doing the grunt work of keeping house while still having parents who can swoop in and "disciple" her if she's overly morose.   

But worse than the boredom must be the fear.   When I was a single woman in my mid-twenties, I had moments where I was afraid that I would never find someone to marry and start a life with.  Those fears were real - but I could easily remind myself that I had a good life where I was helping a lot of teenagers grow into competent young adults.   I wanted children of my own - but if that never happened - I had plenty of other children I had grown close to.    Additionally, I had the option available of adoption if I married and found out that my spouse and I were unable to have biological children.  The families in Vision Forum seem to have that option available since the Baucham's adopted most of their kids.  That option is not available for families aligned with ATI (or shouldn't be since IBLP teaches that adopted kids bring the 'sins of their fathers' into the new home.) Yikes. 

If romantic books and movies are consuming your life, go live your life!  Believe me, a lived life might not include Mr. Darcy - but real people are far more interesting than pretend people any day of the week!

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Maxwell Mania: Bothering Service Reps - Case 1

Hello, everybody!

 Life has been busy in wintery Michigan. I am officially the mother of a three-year old preschool student! After two preparatory visits, Spawn has taken along swimmingly to the morning session of Early Childhood Special Education.  He's using his waker more around the house, talking up a storm and showing more and more independence which as been amazing to see as his mom.

The only downside is that he's been exhausted which has brought two (hopefully transient) issues.  The first issue is that he's started having night terrors again.  Spawn clearly doesn't remember the terrors in the morning - but he's so exhausted at night that getting him either awake enough to calm down or settled back in his 80% asleep state was taking over an hour.  He was having 2-3 a night so my sleep was getting badly disrupted.   The second issue is that when he's tired, he picks at itchy areas on his skin until it bleeds which then terrifies him.  That's something he inherited from me and my mom; we both do the same thing when overtired or stressed.  Thankfully, he seems to be less inclined to do it when we slather itchy areas with anti-itch cream and sore areas with antibiotics with topical pain relievers in them.

His teacher was happy with how school was going for him - and so was I.  Spawn was so proud of the art projects he made at school that he's been carrying them around the house for days at a time.  In consulting with his teacher, we all agreed that Spawn would benefit from a shortened day of two hours rather than three hours until he's a bit older and has a bit more stamina.  Thankfully, I drive him to school and have nothing going on during his preschool hours so adapting the schedule was a piece of cake.

The other part of my life that is really busy right now is work at my local DIY big-box store.  Turns out that Christmas shopping at that retailer is pretty busy for people who like power tools.  I was clueless about that before I worked there - but the more you know, right?

Now that I'm in the trenches of retail again, I'd like to start a sporadic series on how obnoxious the Maxwell-style of attempting to convert service workers are.   For the record, I find unsolicited conversion pitches obnoxious as fuck to start with - but targeting service workers is a sign of cowardice.

What do I mean by that? 

Let me start with a counter-example.  When I was a kid, there was a local church or cultic family that would show up at a corner during a local arts festival with signs about how God hated everyone who disagreed with this church and would debate all comers.   Obviously, I disagree with every statement made by these people inclusively - but at least they were facing opposition from people on a fair playing field.  Other people could attack their beliefs aggressively, insult them, or walk away without any fear of retribution.

Service workers don't have that.   When I'm mixing paint for you, I can't call your beliefs puerile and self-centered without fear of getting written up.   When I'm ringing up your order, I can't call you an evil minded sociopath with less intelligence or creativity than a mollusc without fearing for my continued employment.   And worst of all,  I cannot walk away.   I've still got to color match your paint swatch regardless of how obnoxiously you are trying to convert me.

And yet, the Maxwells share these stories as if they are something to be proud of.  This gem is the last few paragraphs of a "Seriously Dad" article on the dangers of worldly friends:

I had finished writing this article when I met a sixty-year-old man whose life story was the perfect but sad conclusion to this series. While I was waiting for him to complete some paperwork that I needed, I asked him where he would be in a million years. He said he would be dirt. I countered him by saying that certainly his body would be dirt, but where would he be?

Was the man a government official compiling some documents for Maxwell?  An underpaid public servant working their way through documents written in a strange form of English spoken by no one outside of government?  A medical office worker slogging through referral forms?  A custom furnishing associate working on placing an order for a kitchen remodel?

We never find out - but there is no part of filling out forms for another person that is made easier by having a self-important twit changing the subject.

The clerk is my hero for pointing out the obvious: in a million years, we will all be dirt.  And, Steve - the clerk's response is seriously Biblical according to Genesis 3:19 KJV.

The clerk had two other un-objectionable options here. 
  • My go-to is full-voiced self-talk while filling in the forms.  Steven Maxwell asks me where I'll be in a million years and I reply "So that's W-H-I...drat...W-H-I-T-E-space-M-O-D....there we go... click!...and that' .....Behr....drat...backspace, no, escape.....semi-....wait, interior" until I'm at a point where I can end the interaction.   After all, I'm required to get paint for you and to be polite; I'm not required to hold a running conversation to amuse you at the same time.  No manager is going to give me a hard time for choosing to do my work well by making sure I have the paint order entered right rather than discuss my theological leanings.
  • Another option - but I can only do it if I'm already in a good mood and not snippy - is to treat all subject changes as related to their paint order.  In this example, I'd say "I've never heard of 'Million Year' color.  Let me search it. " I would search the color - slowly - until either they break and state they are off-topic or I've found "Million Year" (or something I can try and pass off as that) so the person is faced with getting a weird unseen paint color if they continue this game of theirs.   As soon as they are back on-topic of buying paint and clarifying their paint color, I'd summarize their order, inform them of the expected time of completion and move to a computer away from them.  
Discerning where the conversation was going, he briefly described his childhood. He was raised by very conservative, Christian parents who went to church three times a week and read the Bible together every night after dinner. His folks didn’t drink or smoke, but he decided he wanted to do those things. Therefore, he hasn’t touched a Bible in many decades and has no interest in spiritual things. My heart was grieving for him and his parents when I summed it up like this. “So it is a personal preference—along the lines of your parents like vanilla but you like chocolate?” He smiled at me and said, “Exactly!”
I disagree a bit with Steven on the guy's motivation.  I've totally invented entire background stories to keep pushy fundamentalists busy.   Telling his story - or making up a story as he went - sounds much more amusing than listening to Steven try more and more hackneyed hooks to turn conversations into conversion spiels.

Steven spends a lot of time reading his Bible allegedly, right?   So....why doesn't he realize that the Bible has no admonitions against drinking alcohol as long as the drinker avoids drunkenness?  Similarly, remind me of the Bible passage that deals with smoking Steve. 

Does anyone find it unlikely that a 60-year old guy who is filling out forms said "I drink and smoke.  My parents didn't.  Clearly, I don't read the Bible and have no interest in spiritual things!"  Call me cynical - but I suspect that Steven is adding his own personal assumptions that no one who drinks or smokes can regularly read the Bible or be interested in spiritual things.   If you drop the sentence that begins with the word 'Therefore', the conversation sounds more plausible.  With it included, Steven makes the guy sound far more 'worldly' than most people are in my neck of the woods.

I asked him what had happened when it sounded like he had the perfect Christian home? Did he have friends who led him the wrong way? He looked at me with an expression that said, “Now you got it.” And then verbally affirmed, “Exactly!” With a heavy heart I left him and wondered how parents could ever think that it wouldn’t matter if their children had worldly friends.
To beat a dead horse - Maxwell reads the Bible, right?  Remind me of the passage where Jesus tells his followers to go to church three times a week and read the Bible daily.  Oh, wait......

How much more horrible would this story be if the guy responded to Maxwell's assumption about the 'perfect' Christian home with any of the stories of domestic abuse that have come out in CP/QF families?  Imagine if he had replied:
  • "I don't find drinking and smoking to be as bad as the fact that my dad was raping my sisters."
  • "Well, once I found out that my parents knew my brother was molesting my sisters and girls staying over at our house and didn't stop him, it really undermined the message of how bad drinking and smoking was."
  • "Yeah, my doctor wants me to quit smoking - but he really wishes that someone had intervened when my dad beat me so badly he left scars all over me.  Kinda undermines the message, you know?"
What kills me about this whole story is that Maxwell seems completely oblivious to how much of the conversation he spends asking leading question - and how little information he's communicating.    Look at it typed out as a script with the dialogue I'm skeptical about in italics:

Steven Maxwell (SM): "Where will you be in a million years?"

Heroic Form-Man (HFM): "Dirt."

SM: "Certainly, your body will be dirt, but where will you be?"

HFM: "Well, I was raised by very conservative Christian parents who went to church three times a week and read the Bible together after dinner.  My parents didn't smoke or drink, but I do.  (I have not touched a Bible in decades.  I have no interest in spiritual things.)"

SM: "So it is a personal preference - along the lines of your parents like chocolate, but you like vanilla?"

HFM:  (smiling) "Exactly!"

SM: "What happened (since you came from such a perfect Christian home)?  Your friends (lead you astray)?

HFM:  (hands Maxwell the forms) "Exactly!"

Ignore what we know about Steven Maxwell from his writings for a second - and this becomes a completely wasted effort by Maxwell.   Heroic Form-Man has no idea that Maxwell is piously heartbroken for the outcome of this man's life.  Honestly, Heroic Form-Man is rightfully patting his back at having pulled out the "dirt!" response and having gotten through filling out the forms without being pressured to pray the "Sinner's Prayer" in the middle of his workplace.

Heroic Form-Man - we salute you!  Hurrah!

May your break room discussions of the Maxwell Incident always bring shared humor and camaraderie!  Hurrah!

May we all follow your lead and answer leading questions by refusing to go there!  Hurrah!