Friday, February 26, 2021

Babbling Botkin: What if My Husband Dies? - Part Twelve


I realized when I was driving home from work yesterday that I have a cold.   I'd been feeling off for a few days previously and finally recognized that I had a sore throat from post-nasal drip.   

This is the second cold I've had in the year since COVID came to the U.S. compared to about one a month prior to that.   That made me wonder just how many other illnesses have been minimized by the social distancing, handwashing and masking protocols from COVID.  I'd bet that the total number of circulating cold viruses has dropped.  

Speaking of looking back, I mentioned early in this set of posts how revealing the number of filler words and pauses that Geoffrey Botkin uses is for his level of discomfort.   When he's talking about theoretical situations where he has a lot of control, he uses minimal filler words.   When he's discussing the actual life experience of the woman who wrote him to ask "What if My Husband Dies?" of COVID worsened by COPD, he uses so many filler words that sorting out the content is hard.  Look at this quote when Botkin brings up the idea of discussing the husband's wishes for his sons' education if he dies:
[00:12:03] Talk about this now with your husband um this possibility.   I mean..... if it.....  really.....if you  you know    if you are really.....(pause) thinking about the future responsibly you do have to talk about this, you know. you know....if..if.... "Honey, if you died, how would I train the boys?  What would be your...your number one preferences for how I would do that?"   These are important conversations to have. 
People are often uncomfortable talking about death in American society.   We've lost a framework for discussing the fact that everyone will die let alone what will happen when I die.   

I'm not surprised with Botkin's discomfort in that context - but this isn't a spontaneous conversation between a husband and wife.  We're watching a video post to a website.  Botkin could have - and should have - practiced his monologue enough that he could say "Honey, if you died how would I train the boys?  What are your preferences?" without floundering for 30 seconds.

Geoffrey Botkin likes control.  He's been in one cultic religious group - The Great Commission, Vision Forum- after another since he was college age.  Currently, he's branched away from being a member of a larger religious group to running his own personal family religion while diving deeply into QAnon.  The main theme between these groups is that they offer a form of gnostic  knowledge (secrets known only to the initiated or "educated") combined with a framework for Botkin being the undisputed leader of his own family.

He struggles during this portion because he glances tangentially at the reality that some day he will die, too - and his wife and unmarried adult children will be left to carry on without him.

Botkin concedes that talking about how the family will carry on after the patriarch dies is important - but shares no stories from his life.   |

That's unfortunate because families who have been marching along to the Vision Forum/ATI/IBLP/CP/QF ideas of stay-at-home daughterhood and multigenerational faithfulness now have unmarried sons and daughters living at home in their late 20's, 30's and 40's.
 How is this supposed to work out as the older generation ages and dies?   

Who is responsible for maintaining the single daughters who have no work experience outside of their families?  Are the married sons responsible for room and board for the daughters?   Do the unmarried sons going to support their sisters? 

What happens if an unmarried son wants to make a later in life marriage?

I don't know that the letter writer should be asking Botkin for advice because he's got a lot of loose ends flapping around involving his own four single adult children.

Next, Botkin runs away from the entire subject onto a much more comfortable just-so-story:
[00:12:24]  Mentoring character is really, really important.   And so.... you know here's a story that I....I....I read about when I was raising my own sons.  Fifty years ago when NASA began recruiting competent leaders for their manned space program they discovered that boys who had worked on farms with their farms had the biggest advantages in coming of age, the best trades for adventurous leadership.  The strongest character traits.  They were most dependable, they were more dependable than other boys.   And why?  Mainly it was just because of that; they were working with their dads.  They were learning these things about daily work ethic and they applied it in their lives and it built character in their lives.  And so boys can really learn a lot about manhood and the proper way it should be defined from doing hard work, facing challenging problems, with their fathers or with other mentors on a day to day basis.
When Botkin says "fifty years ago", what decade is he placing himself in?   

If he's talking about today, he's discussing the recruitment of the 1978 Astronaut Class - that one he probably wants to forget about since it included - *gasp* - women and people of color.   Lazily scanning through the biographies of that class of astronauts I found that a lot of the astronauts lived in highly populated areas like cities where family farms are non-existent.   On the other hand, all of the astronauts had multiple advanced degrees in math or science.    Since the advanced degree requirement was included on the employment advertisements along with physical fitness, I suspect NASA found it more important than "grew up on farm".

If Botkin was talking fifty years before the 1990's or 1980's, he'd be talking one, actually. 

The Mercury Seven were put together in 1958.   

Well, let's pretend he was talking about the Mercury Seven because they are the type of white, clean-cut, all-American men that Botkin admires.   Of those seven men, only Deke Slayton grew up on a farm.    The other six men grew up in families where their fathers worked outside the home in white-collar or blue-collar occupations.   

You know, just like most kids do.  

And the job posting for the first set of astronauts included a maximum height, age limitations, a college degree requirement and that the candidate had finished test pilot school - but no requirement of where the kid grew up.

Yeah....don't ask Botkin for advice.   If you are worried about family income - don't buy a farm in hopes that your sons will have strong work ethic.   Instead, follow the mothers of the Mercury Seven most of whom worked outside the home.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Joyfully At Home: Chapter 14 - Part Five


Brrrr!   I am chilly this morning.   I had a temperature reading of -4 degrees when I got my son in the car this morning which dropped to -9 degrees in the lowest topographic point on the drive in.

After another snowfall event, I've got snow depths between my knees and thighs through most of the yard.   A few drifts are as tall as Spawn.   

Spawn's enjoying the snow.   When he sees a snowdrift, he wants to kick holes in the drift using his foot "like an excavator!".  This has left a fascinating series of vertical slashes all over the driveway.   He also likes to make snowballs - but it's been so cold that the snow is very powdery and dry.   That kind of snow doesn't compact well so the snowballs are really fragile and lightweight.

That doesn't matter to Spawn. 

He took to throwing them at me yesterday and giggled when the snowballs exploded into dust on impact.   My first instinct was to dump the kid into a snowdrift as tall as he was - but that seemed a bit much.   Instead, I tossed a snowball back at him.   

While I'm huddled under a blanket on the couch, I figured I'd finish writing up this chapter from Jasmine Baucham's book "Joyfully At Home".  So far, we've had four posts on the first question "Should women go to college?"   I can't remember her second question - but neither the question nor the responses were particularly interesting or objectionable.    The third question, though, is a fair question that Jasmine takes seriously:
Question 3: What if I want to come home, but don't have the kind of family you have?

Look forward to building that sort of family unit for your own daughters, and search for a stable environment to flourish until then. (pg. 167)
The only place that I've seen this question tackled is the spectacularly tone-deaf "Our Response to Rapunzel" on the Botkin Sisters' defunct website.   The Botkin Sisters' response is no surprise to anyone who followed Vision Forum (VF): Rapunzel is a sinful media creation - but if she were real, she'd be morally obligated to toe the line for her "mother" - e.g., the woman who kidnapped her - until the woman was physically abusive or until Rapunzel had incontrovertible evidence that she was kidnapped.  


Jasmine Baucham, on the other hand, takes a more nuanced approach.  She recognizes at 19 that there are plenty of ways that a potential SAHD might be thwarted.  The most common way, I suspect, is when non-cult member parents refuse to accept having an employable daughter pretending that learning housekeeping is a full-time job for the foreseeable future.   An equally common issue among the average 'ideal' huge CP/QF family with one marginally educated manual laboring father for income is that most of those families can't afford to support one or more employable adult daughters at home for years.   As a Black young women in CP/QF culture, she may well have recognized that not all adult men are safe around teenage girls; she mentions in her adult blog that she had plenty of horrible things said to her at purity functions.  

For whatever reason, Jasmine gives CP/QF SAHD-wannabes an out.   If you can't stay home, you can't stay home.

Unfortunately, she leaves us with this gem:
In doing so, we can grasp a vision that is so much bigger than the here and now. For multigenerational faithfulness to start in our future homes, we need to purpose right now to be the mothers and the wives that the Lord has called us to be. For those of us with fractured families, this may mean being the mother to our daughters that we didn't have, or the wives to our husbands that our mothers weren't to our fathers. It may be refusing to settle for a man who cannot be the father to your children that you wanted your father to be to you. (pg. 168)
I have no problems with young adults thinking about how they were raised by their parents and deciding how they want to raise their children.  That's a good, sensible way of trying to avoid issues that you disliked about how you were raised and deciding what you want to keep.

I do suggest, though, that you use a bit of humility when judging your mother and father as parents - especially if you do not yet have children in your household.   Raising children brings great increases in the amount of stress in a family's life financially, emotionally and physically.   Deciding how to raise imaginary children with an imaginary spouse in an imaginary future can be a useful exercise - but it's a very different exercise than raising this child with this spouse in this reality.  

Similarly, I agree that people who marry with the thought of having children should make sure that their spouse shares some basic ideas about childrearing.   First - foremost - make certain you both want children.   Marrying someone who has different views on having children in hopes they will change their mind is cruel to both parties and a recipe for disaster.   Knowing exactly what kind of father a man will be - or mother a woman will be - is not really possible ahead of time, though.   Before I married my husband, I made sure he had the bones of a good father.  He wanted kids, showed patience and enjoyment around small children, and didn't have unreasonable expectations about child behavior - but that's about as far as I could figure out ahead of time.

I severely dislike, though, the idea of young women deciding how their moms should have been better wives to their fathers.    Being a wife is a very, very different role with very different responsibilities than being a dependent daughter.    For a CP/QF SAHD, there are two roles to balance - daughter and sister.   Those two are pretty easy to balance in a family unit where obedience is the main family value.   
Upon marriage, a wife has to balance her roles as spouse, daughter, daughter-in-law, sister, sister-in-law and neighbor.   Once she's pregnant, the role of mother gets added - and for each child afterward a separate "mother" role adds each time.   

In other words, it's easy enough to say "You should have been more obedient/more industrious/more hospitable" as a young adult daughter looking at her memories of her mom from when she was nine - but it's a different view when you remember that your mother was caring for aging in-laws who didn't want to move in with their children or a retirement home while homeschooling five children, dealing with ongoing medical problems from her last delivery and not having any extra money all at the same time.
Do you know an amazing family with a Titus 2 mother and a Titus 2 father? Have as many dinners at their table as you possibly can. (pg. 168)
Yes!  Go back to 1994 and eat dinner weekly with the Maxwells.  Or split your dinners up among the Maxwells, Botkins and Duggars.

Watch as the first Maxwell marries only to find out that he and his wife have severe fertility issues. Watch the first Botkin son marry, then bail on the lifestyle. 

Watch two Maxwell sons have public engagements called off.    Watch two more Botkin sons marry and produce small families.

Really feel the entire stress level of everyone go up as the dual nightmares of the Duggars raising awareness of the sheer amount of sexual abuse happening in CP/QF families collides with VF and ATI collapsing under allegations of sexual abuse by the founder.

Watch the Duggars launch their daughters into marriages that splinter the family cohesion.   Compare that outcome with the slow fade of Sarah Maxwell, Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin, and Jana Duggar as they reach over 30 years without marrying.

Watch one Maxwell son slow fade out of the Maxwell lifestyle after marriage.  Watch his younger brother sell his much-lauded debt-free home to go live in an apartment when he marries.

If nothing else, let this sink in: You cannot control the fate of adult children - even if you control their childhood meticulously.

Question Four: What if I did search the scriptures, but I don't agree with you? Do you still think I can be a Christian?


It's just a simple as that. (pg. 168)
This, my friends, is why I reviewed Jasmine Baucham's book - and why I suspect she turned out as well as she did.   In spite of a rigid upbringing, Ms. Baucham recognized that different people can sincerely believe different things.

That one section was a breath of fresh air - and one that I hope swells in homes with CP/QF beliefs.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Babbling Botkin: "What if My Husband Dies?" - Part Eleven


I am decidedly over winter right now.   I'm enjoying having enough snow to cross-country ski out behind our house - but we've had high temperatures in the mid-teens for over a week.    Every time I leave the house, I'm cold for at least a half hour after I return inside.   

It's way too cold for Spawn and I to enjoy our weekly walks from his school to the local greasy spoon - and I miss those walks much more than I expected to.   We'd probably be ok enough on the walk - but he's got my pale, dry, eczema-prone skin - and he's been getting windburn on his cheeks in the few minutes he's outside on the way to and from school.   

I'm soothing myself by remembering that spring is right around the corner.  I'll be setting up a low-tunnel to warm up the soil for cold weather crops within two weeks and get my specialty tomatoes and peppers started in the basement.    

And soon enough, I'll be crabby because I'm hot and stuck outside working in that dratted garden all the time.....

Here's the next installment of Geoffrey Botkin's video "What if My Husband Dies?"  In the previous post, he'd happily explained that young men can become lawyers in Virginia through an apprenticeship - but hadn't done the background work to realize that the first qualification required to enter the apprenticeship is a college degree. 


The next minute of video features Botkin doing a stream-of-consciousness patter about what young men need to learn from working next to older men:
[00:11:10] Young men learn most about maturity by working alongside older men in the affairs of everyday life - in business - so they need they need this working knowledge -not just head knowledge - a working knowledge of a work ethic. 

They need to know how men engage in honest business deals. 

They need to know what capability looks like in action. 

 So it's not just something they can get from a textbook. And yes, there are textbooks out there about business, but to be able to do it and really have to show up for work and be faithful and get more you know  and get more responsibility 'cause they are faithful in little things and then faithful in other bigger things. 

And so older men can train them not only in useful skills but really in professional conduct.  How to manage money how to manage contracts how to deal professionally with difficult people.  
Botkin-rambles like these cause me to wonder what Geoffrey Botkin thinks the life of a stay-at-home mom of many, many littles who are also being homeschooled looks like.

Are young men oblivious to the sheer amount of work that their mothers and sisters do in a day? 

 Cooking three meals from scratch while teaching all of the students and managing the many mini-crises in the life of tiny ones is a never-ending slog of work.   I have many reservations about massive families trying to home-school - but I've always assumed "willing to work beyond the point of exhaustion" is a given character trait.

Maybe Botkin is simply passing on a two centuries of Western civilization's view of women and work: work is only worth praising if it is done for currency.   Women shouldn't demean themselves by working for women's work inside a family structure isn't work.

Botkin's sudden obsession with "capacity" is a hoot.   Extensive sheltering of homeschoolers mutes a child's or teen's ability to compare their personal skill set against peers.   If Botkin had allowed his daughters to compare their writings with the writing skills of other teenagers, the daughters would have realized that one sister is a solid writer and the other sister has some serious short-falls in fluency, sentence structure and planning of topics.   

The part where Botkin declares that boys can't learn about business from a textbook - then suddenly remembers that business textbooks do exist! - causes me to giggle every time.   In fact, there's an entire section of ethics that deals with businesses - but that might cause Botkin's mind to explode.   

Oh, Lord....that could be his next business venture if he ever clears his head of his current QAnon fixation......

I'm a bit lost as to why young men can only learn about work ethic from other men.   I imagine most of the early learning about work ethic happens at home.   Parents can encourage or ignore the work ethic of their children.  I grew up in a family that appreciated hard work and I replicate how my parents raised me with my son.   He's spent a great deal of his childhood so far working at PT, OT, and Speech.  I praise my son for working hard and notice when he continues working on a difficult task - regardless of his end result.   The process of working hard is something I want to pass on to him - so I point it out with pride when he's working hard even as a preschooler.

The bit I disagree with Botkin on is that hard work doesn't always lead to success.   I've spent a great deal of time and effort attempting to learn how to do two-dimensional art.  The outcome of all of that hard work is that I am a very poor sketcher or painter.   I do not regret the time or effort I've used in that area - but I simply lack much aptitude in visualizing how a three-dimensional object becomes lines 
and in getting my hand to make lines that match the line in my head.     

Not everyone is great at a task - and knowing when to spend more time on more productive area is a skill worth having, too.   After all, a basic aptitude plus hard work is a great foundation for excellence.  I am very weak at drawing or painting - but I'm a very talented textile artist in both crochet and sewing.   I've spent thousands of hours crocheting since I learned when I was 12.   My first pieces were very basic and showed a normal lack of technique - but I found a crochet hook and yarn easier to manipulate than pencils or paintbrushes.  

 Slowly, I learned how to keep the yarn tension constant which made the gauge of the stitch even. I learned how to count stitches and to recognize when a row didn't look right. 

As I got more skilled, I learned how to adapt patterns and make my own. 

I remember the first time I recognized that a line of written pattern was clearly not right.   I also remember the first time I was able to write out the correction to the pattern.

I learned the wisdom of starting over when my first plan for a project turned out wonky.  (Hello, the three false-starts on Spawn's winter hat!)

I learned the importance of trying a small practice swatch when doing a new complicated pattern because unraveling a six-inch by three-inch swatch of yarn leftover from your son's hat is way less exasperating than unraveling 40 inches by 4 inches from a baby afghan.

Where did I learn this work ethic?  From my parents - neither of whom worked at home.   

Mom worked at a retail store - but her coworkers all seemed to think she worked hard.   When my twin and I applied to work at that same store as teenagers, the managers were clear that being our mother's daughters was a great asset because they assumed we work hard.   

Dad taught - and I saw how much time and effort he put in outside of school on his job.   That and the sheer amount of effort and enthusiasm he brought to high school and community theater.

 I didn't have to sit and watch them work every day because I saw how they worked at home, too.   Mom and Dad both expected us to help out our elderly neighbors by shoveling their driveways during the winter and raking leaves during the fall.   We did it because that's what we saw the adults in our family doing.

For the woman who wrote to Botkin in the first place, please don't start a family business because Botkin thinks it's the only way for kids to learn a work ethic.   It's not.   Most hard workers come from families where parents worked outside the home - and that's ok.

Monday, February 15, 2021

The Battle of Peer Dependency: Chapter Five - Part One


I found my copy of "The Battle of Peer Dependency" by Marina Sears!  It had fallen in the drawer that I keep summer clothes.  The hardest part now is finding time to transcribe since my son is old enough that he listens to everything I say.  

Chapter Four was all about friends - specifically about how no-one ever needs friends.   It was a long slog of extreme isolationism.   Chapter Five is all about family - and so far has been a barely coherent with rage slopped all over it.   The chapter starts with this rant:
The destruction of the American family has been at times slow, methodical, and discreet, what other times the break neck speed at which the destruction takes place seems to take one's breath away. One only needs to look at the media or cultural trends in order to see that the family has come a long way in a few short decades. The way has been extremely negative and very destructive to society and individual growth. Feminism, homosexuality, abortion, and divorce are just a few tactics that have eroded the family from its roots and values. The very definition of a family can differ is one talks to varying ethnic, social, political, or religious groups, all vying for some personal edge, instead of considering society as a whole. These groups seemingly have their own personal gain in mind without stopping to consider the future.(pg. 63-64).
Now, remember, this lady homeschooled four of her own children.   

This is her idea of quality writing - six sentences with five different topics.

It's quite hard to critique any of her ideas because there's no support or examples for any of them.  How can I disprove that families have been destroyed "methodically" and "at break neck speed" Mrs. Sears fails to explain what either period looks like?

I'm going to skip her list of favored demonic "-isms" for now; I'm sure she'll double back on them later - perhaps even with supports!

No, I think we should focus in on the only two related sentences - the damningly xenophobic 'families vary by ethnic, social, political and religious groups  who are only looking out for their own good!' located at the end of the quote.

Mrs. Sears is so intensely Evangelical, white, middle-class, and American focused that she's decided that her definition of family is the correct "Biblical" one - and everyone else can be damned.  

Does that even make sense?   

Mrs. Sears' excessively truncated family unit of a working father, a home-schooling mother and a group of exceptionally sheltered kids is abnormal to the majority white Evangelical middle-class Americans.  The people who most resemble her in race, socio-economic status, nationality and religion don't homeschool their kids.  They may shelter kids from media involving sex, profanity, crime or drug use - but they don't freak out when their child has friends outside of the family.  The mother is more likely to stay-at-home when her family is young - but many work part-time or full-time as needed.

That section reminds me of a presidential townhall style debate in 2016 when an African-American man asked Trump how he would handle civil rights if he became president.   Trump launched enthusiastically into a description of how awful life was in inner-cities and how he'd use increased policing to bring down crime rates.

Trump's face said that Trump believed he'd nailed the question.  The questioner's face said otherwise.  As commentators pointed out, the majority of African-Americans live in the suburbs and are middle-class.   Assuming that a person must be poor, live in an inner city and be afraid of their neighborhood simply because the person is Black is stereotyping.  

Mrs. Sears is so busy stereotyping people by race, class and religion that she misses that "I care about my loved ones" is a human universal.

Next, Mrs. Sears word-froths for a bit before diving into this great example of how strange the ATI habit of linking definitions seems to outsiders:
A Biblical study of the word widowhood, the Hebrew words almanah and alman, would help one begin to understand the devastation and purpose of divorce. Almanah means a desolate house. The word is taken from the masculine word alman which means in the sense of bereavement, discarded as in a divorced person, or forsaken. Clearly the word widow includes those who are divorced or abandoned and is the picture of one whose life is devastated. The definition of the Hebrew word for bereave is to cast calf, to suffer an abortion, or to rob of children. This is the obvious picture of the target of death, abandonment, and divorce. (pg. 64)
Personally, I got the big idea at "a desolate house".   That's a pretty solid descriptor of the level of hardship facing a woman with dependent children when her husband died or divorced her  during Biblical times.  Honestly, women do take a substantial economic hit after being widowed or divorced today - but the severity of the loss is less than it was when most people worked daily to get the wages they needed to feed their family for the next day.

The rest of the quote borders on absurdity.   Seeing that "almanah" is derivative from "alman" is not a large stretch for speakers of Western languages since we have plenty of examples of using suffixes.   

Most people, though, would have stopped once they looked up the Hebrew word for "bereave" and realized that it's about the loss of offspring rather than the loss of a spouse.   Bereave in Hebrew sounds much closer to "lose offspring to death or kidnapping" than it is to "to widow" or "to divorce".

Mrs. Sears lost her husband in a tragic, freak car accident when they were both young.  What I don't understand is why that tragedy has made her so obsessed with the evils of divorce.  She routinely brings up throughout the book how awful it is for children to be raised without a father in the home - but her children grew up with their father removed by death.  That's far more final than having a dad who lives in a separate home due to a divorce.  

And - near as I can tell - her kids turned out fine.  Yeah, she wrote this book about how she was locked in a battle against the evil forces of her sons wanting to spend time with their peers - but that's a sign that the boys were developing normally.   Sure, she tried her hardest to warp that development into being dependent on their siblings and mother for socialization - but the fact that the "peer dependence" kept cropping up makes it clear she wasn't great at permanently warping them.  

Time will tell - but the whole "divorce is the bane of the western world" keeps cropping up in the book.

Friday, February 12, 2021

Joyfully At Home: Chapter 14 - Part Four

Spawn's been in preschool for a little over a year now. 

His classmates and teachers join us as imaginary playmates in games.  This week, when we walked to the local restaurant, Spawn informed me as we entered the back door that the school bus pulled up and all of his classmates were joining us for lunch. I said that I'd need to order more French toast and French fries, then, between stifling giggles at the thought of herding seven energetic preschoolers into the local greasy spoon for lunch by myself.

Most days, Spawn is a dinosaur when he gets out of school.  I know this because he says "I'm a dinosaur!  Roar!  Roar!" as he takes off down the sidewalk as fast as he can.    When he gets past me, he says, "Mama dinosaur, catch you!  Catch you!"  (Using the correct direct object pronouns has been a challenge for Spawn).   I turn and lumber after him.    Sometimes, I'll say, "Oh, I am trying to catch my little dinosaur, but he is so fast I can't quite get him."  At first, that would cause Spawn to giggle and run faster.  Right now, he slows way down so that I can "catch" him by putting my hand on his head or tickling his neck.   Other times, he wants me to go first and he catches me.

His giggles are the best.  I know I'm biased - but his giggles are deep, throaty and use his entire body.  You can't feel bad while he's giggling - and I love making him giggle.  Heck, his giggles are the reason I bought a bunch of Solo cups and some "indoor snowballs" for a game we call "Crash!Bang!"   That's a game I created where we build a pyramid of Solo cups on the floor throw indoor snowballs  at the pyramid until it crashes and we all yell "Crash!" or "Bang!" Spawn created a modified version where toy cars are used to knock out the bottom cups causing a big crash.    It's a great way to blow off steam for all of us while being stuck indoors due to deep snow and cold temperatures.

When he's sad-angry and his chin wobbles, I want to bulldoze whatever problem is making him sad because it reminds me of the first time I ever saw and touched Spawn a few minutes after birth when he was crying loudly enough for me to hear with teeny-tiny chin wobbles.

I was thinking about how grateful I am to be Spawn's mom while prepping some materials for blog posts when I realized viscerally how badly CP/QF has lied to young women about education, careers, marriage, and motherhood.   I have achieved what in CP/QF-land is impossible; I have a college degree, a career, a husband and a child.

Jasmine Baucham trots a fast overview of false dichotomy in Chapter 14 of "Joyfully at Home":
For too long in our culture, parents have been training their daughters in the exact same way that they train their sons, launching their female arrows to go through life the same way their male arrows do. Fathers have been abdicating their duty to protect their daughters; mothers have neglected their duty towards the discipleship and guidance. Young women who not only lost their femininity, but they've lost their desire for the biblical role that the Lord has called them to. We no longer want to be wives and mothers, and we no longer realize the power of that calling. As a result, many of us no longer realize what a unique time in our lives this can be, not only to take advantage of our ministry to our homes and families, but to minister to others through that sphere,. (pgs. 165-166)
In Christian Patriarchy/Quiverful beliefs, women are locked into a dichotomy between choosing education and careers or being a wife and mother.  

Women who choose post-secondary education or careers will never be satisfactory wives and mothers.

Conversely, women who forgo education or working outside of a family business/ministry will always become wives and mothers.

Well, for people outside of CP/QF, that dichotomy is palpably false - but CP/QF homeschooled kids whose parents extensively shelter them have no way of poking holes in that dichotomy since everyone they know is telling them that attending college and having a career will destroy their ability to become wives and mothers.   

Ironically, the girls from CP/QF families that are the poorest may well have the most exposure to the wider world since their families can't afford to keep them isolated once they can earn money.   Working at a local retail establishment or a restaurant will quickly demonstrate that there are certainly women with college degrees who are good wives and mothers.    At the same time, having a job makes a young woman more visible to young men who are looking to settle down.   CP/QF parents live in terror of premarital sex - but keeping your daughter invisible from young men also decreases her chance of marriage.

The well-known CP/QF stay-at-home daughter authors generally have one or two parents with college degrees, have many fewer sisters than brothers, and can live indefinitely as dependent adults with their parents without undue financial stress.  This group includes Jasmine Baucham, Sarah and Grace Mally, Sarah, Anna, and Mary Maxwell, and Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin.   For those young women, their choice between college and motherhood was stark; their families on paper should have been able to educate them to college-ready standards and should have been able to afford supporting the young women as they attended college.  

Five of the teenagers chose the safest path; they avoided anything that brought them outside of the safe world of their immediate family.    Three of the teenagers chose a riskier path; they ventured outside of their immediate family and built careers.

Fast forward 15-20 years after the height of stay-at-home daughterhood. 

Jasmine Baucham completed a college degree, worked outside the home, got married at age 24 and is the mother of two children.   Sarah and Grace Mally founded and sustained two independent ministries that they treated as full-time jobs; Grace Mally married in her early thirties and has a baby girl.  Grace and her husband introduced Sarah to a local minister with whom she fell in love and married in her early forties.

Those three stay-at-home daughters made it the status of adult women in CP/QF since they've married.

Many of their fellow famous stay-at-home daughters have not fared as well. 

Sarah Maxwell has written 11 children's books for her family's vanity press between 2003 and 2020 with a four year hiatus between the end of the Moody series in 2015 and the beginning of the Hill Top Adventures in 2020.  Her family acknowledged for the first time this year that she's been running Titus 2 Ministries since she was a teenager.  (Compare that with the Mally Family who was always clear that Sarah initiated and built Bright Lights Ministry).  She mentions sporadically that she does bookkeeping for her brothers' businesses - but whether that will continue as Nathan and Joseph's businesses grow and become more professional is an open question.   As of this month, she is 39.

Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin made a small effort in 2017 to revamp their website/blog known as "Botkin Sisters".   Since the new site hasn't been updated since 2018, I've placed it in my "moribund" site list that I check in once or twice a year.    Outside of that, they've spoken at a few small conferences about networking.   Anna Sofia seems to be in a MLM scheme of some kind and has made connections with her local chamber of commerce after they awarded something to her brother Lucas' company.  Elizabeth Botkin hasn't listed any kind of work experience on any of her pages.  Based on my back-of-the hand calculations, Anna Sofia turns 36 this year; Elizabeth turns 34.

Anna and Mary Maxwell have continued to be teenagers living at home well into their twenties.   

Anna apparently worked as a customer service representative for Nathan's company.   That could be a useful gig - but Anna rather catty blog post about how many of the questions could be answered if the customers "just Googled it"  combined with the revelation that she, in fact, Googles the solutions would make me squeamish to take her on as an employee.   At my current retail job, I often use the internet to seek out answers for customers' more obscure questions - but I definitely don't imply that my job would be useless if people just did it themselves!   Why?  Because I use my combination of science literacy and media savvy to sort the results into "possibly good", "probably bad", and "could lead to fatalities" before quickly reading the material to decide if it is a workable solution.  Anna turns 29 this summer.

Mary doesn't pretend to do anything as venial as the family businesses.   Mary is an artist and creates lettered signs of Bible quotes for family members.  She face-paints children  (along with Anna's balloon critters) to draw visitors to their conversion booth at the State Fair.  She also worked with Anna prior to COVID to plan and execute a single children's Bible study a week at a local apartment complex.  Most of Mary's activities, though, are on hold now because of COVID.   Mary turns 25 this year.

TL;DR: Jasmine Baucham and the Mally Sisters spent their SAHD years working outside of the home in careers and ministries as a full-time job - and all three of them married.   The Maxwells and Botkins, on the other hand. had 3 part-time jobs between the five women - and none of them seem any closer to marriage or motherhood than they were at age 16.

I hope I'm wrong.  For all that I dislike CP/QF theology immensely,  I do not have a personal issue with any of these young women.   I sincerely hope that each of them find a nice man to start a family with if that's what their heart desires - or create a niche for themselves as satisfied single adults.

My heart simply aches for them.   I've made my choices in my life freely.  My life doesn't look like I thought it would when I was a girl or a teenage or even a younger woman - but I am content because I made choices based on my values and my desires rather than anyone else's.

I spent the morning at the ophthalmologist with Spawn.   His lovey - a stuffed ginger tabby named Kitty-Kitty - needed an eye exam.   On a completely unrelated note, Spawn's eyes are doing fine.  We got up, ate breakfast, got dressed, listened to "Mama's music" (read: Irish folk tunes) on the drive in, commiserated with a crabby, screaming newborn, and walked Kitty-Kitty through her eye exam.  Afterwards, we brought lunch home and played with trains.

I had an average day with a little boy who is as much a part of me as my right arm - and I regret nothing of my choices that lead to being his mama because I never had to sacrifice my given desire for a career in exchange for the hope of being a mom.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Joyfully At Home: Chapter 14-Part Three


I've had a long and crazy day with Spawn.   

Every Wednesday since fall, Spawn and I have gone for walks after I pick him up from preschool.   At first, we just walked the length of the block from the preschool playground to the library.   As he got stronger - and more interested in exploring - we started walking from school to the library to the local diner to pick up lunch before getting in our van that I had parked by the diner.  This is around 4 city blocks total.   

COVID has made this more interesting at times - the school has opened and closed as has the library and the diner - but we just kept trucking along.

Today, we decided to walk from school to the diner and back to the library.   Spawn was strong enough to walk that far - around 6 city blocks with a long rest at the diner on a sunny front step - but we ran into a little snag.   Spawn gets bored walking with his walker - but he's not quite steady enough on his feet to walk without one of my hands while I carry the walker in my other hand.  There were also some uneven icy bits of the sidewalk where I needed to give him a bit of psychological support with my hands on the walker.  

That worked fine when I had two free hands.   On the way back to the van, though, I only had one free hand because our lunch was in a grocery bag in my other hand.  

This lead to a memorable moment that reminded me of that logic problem where you have a coyote, a chicken and a bag of seeds that you have to take across a river in a rowboat with only room for one thing at a time.     

I thought I had it worked out - walk Spawn to a clear part of the sidewalk, settle him in place, get walker and food, walk those to the next clear place, and repeat.

The only problem was that Spawn objected loudly and emotionally to my letting go of his hand.   He was howling "NEED IT!" (e.g., he needed one of my hands for balance) while I chanted "Spawn, nothing bad is going to happen" a bit more firmly than I wanted to while carrying a walker and a grocery bag of lunch foods over uneven ice while he screamed bloody murder nearby on a clean, dry area of sidewalk.

I kept my sense of humor by thinking how grateful I was that he chose to scream "NEED IT!" unlike the time he screamed "HELP! HELP ME!" when I put him down once while loading the car for school.  "NEED IT!" reads like the partial-nervous temper tantrum it was; "HELP ME!" might get some people to stop.

On the far side, Spawn perked up and said "Nothing bad happened!  Mama, no bad!"    I agreed and told him I was glad he had been brave.   But we were still stuck with Mama having two hands and three items that needed to go in those hands.

Spawn's first solution was to have me walk on the farther left side of the side walk, dangling the grocery bag of food over the snow in my left hand while holding Spawn's right hand.  Spawn walked close to me using his left hand in mine to brace while dragging his walker next to him using his right hand.  This meant the walker took up most of the sidewalk, kept getting wheels hung up in the snow on the right side of the sidewalk, and took a crazy amount of effort for Spawn to move.

Then Spawn figured something out.  He was completely over walking IN his walker - you know, the way PTs expect you to use it, silly PTs...... - but the walker has a nice bar across the back that he could use to push the walker in front of him for stability!   He strutted the last block or so pushing his walker in front of him to the visible amusement of various people driving down the road.  

I wish I had gotten a picture - it looked a bit like the walker was possessed and scooting in front of Spawn - but I really did not have a free hand to pull out a camera, lol.

We're working our way steadily through the fourteenth chapter of Jasmine Baucham's "Joyfully At Home".   The first two posts have been about why women don't need to go to college - while mentioning that Jasmine is, in fact, going to college.   This next quote made a ton of sense to Miss Baucham at age 19 - but hasn't aged well: 
However, I can share with you, as a young woman, some of the reasons I decided against going off to school. It was more important for me to remain under the protection of my father and the discipleship of my mother than it was for me to travel cross-country to sit under the discipleship of others. I believe my primary calling is towards my home, and there is no other place I'd rather be, here in my family's home for now, and, Lord bless, someday running a home with my own at educating my own children. I have no desire for a career that would take me away from that sphere. I believe that a Christian home is the best training ground that young women can be afforded and that the safest place for young women to be is under her parents' authority. (pg. 165)
Here we go!

I have no problems with young adults wanting to maintain the discipleship of both of their parents - but "the protection of their father?" 

 There's two ways that can go. 

The first toxic way that this can go is a generalized obsession with keeping women under a male family member as spiritual head at all times.   This is a way of infantilizing women to keep them submissive to their fathers and eventually to their husbands.   The problem with this is that this supremely patriarchal-family structure does not have much support in the Bible.   There are plenty of women in the Bible who exist outside of the correct family structure like Deborah, Esther, Ruth, and Mary.    More broadly, even in patriarchal societies, there are wide swaths of female decision making within a home and family.   A young women needs to figure out how to structure her time somehow and avoid sin; that's not magically going to get easier with a husband and children.

The second, more fantastical way that "the protection of the father" can go toxic, is when the family is living in a group delusion about the relative danger of outsiders.   Geoffrey Botkin taught his teenage daughters that rapists lurk around every corner so the girls had to be armed and accompanied by a brother at all times.  This comes up in several of their free podcasts, blog articles and their book "So Much More".   The Botkin expect a level of physical and sexual aggression seen in active war-zones and occupied countries, not in stable communities.   Voddie Baucham seems to agree with that on some level since he declares that husbands should be "priests, prophets, protectors and providers" - which seems to be a lot to drop on the shoulders of one guy, IMHO.   As a form of family structure, it's fairly anti-Biblical.  Precious few families had enough income to keep the women members of their family safely ensconced at home all of the time.  Most women had to venture out into public places to fetch water, provision their family or work for more wealthy families.  

I appreciate all my parents have taught me - but my parents had me solidly versed in the basics of running a household by the time I was 18.   Simply, we have so many labor saving devices - washing machine, dryer, refrigerator, microwave - and so many consumer goods - clothing, household goods, packaged foods - that running a household is far more manageable now than it has ever been.

In terms of learning about child-rearing and homeschooling, both of those have a large element of learning on the job with your children.   I helped care for my nephew for a few weeks after he was born right around the time I got pregnant with Spawn.   Being around a baby a lot helped me feel more confident about my own caretaking skills - but this took around two weeks of a few hours a day help, not multiple years.

How should moms learn how to home-school?  Honestly, they should to college and get at least an elementary school teacher's degree.  That will at least expose them to the basics of lesson planning, child development, and some methodology for teaching math, reading and writing.

Jasmine Baucham keeps bringing up the false dichotomy of "traveling really far away to go to college" vs. "doing all your classes online at home".  Many, many college students live at home while commuting to college.   Relatively few students travel outside of the state that their parents live in for college. In 2014, 58% of college students attend college within 100 miles of their hometown and 72% live within the same state. 

If living at home is so common, why is Jasmine spouting this myth?  Primarily because she has no way of knowing any different than what her dad told her.  

Why did her dad teach her a false idea about college attendance while living at home?  Well, the real danger of attending college in person is spending time around other peers.  Ironically, the biggest danger isn't from the students who are partying hard in college.  No, the danger is the nice, clean-cut members of various campus Christian groups who will tell the super-sheltered homeschoolers that their parents views are completely insane.

I've always wanted to be a wife and mother.  I didn't date much from high school through my second or third year of teaching because I was getting my career in order.   When I was 26 or so, I realized that I wasn't putting any effort into finding someone to start a family with.  After a few false starts and a lot of first dates that went nowhere, I found my husband and eventually we had Spawn.

When I was in high school, I thought a lot about what I wanted out of life - and I decided that I couldn't be certain that I'd get married.  I wanted to get married.  I knew that I had an excellent chance of getting married and having children based on statistics alone - but I also knew that not everyone marries.  Not everyone who wants to marry does.  Not everyone who wants children has them.  

The question that was starting me in the face was "What do I want my life to look like if, for reasons beyond my control, I am single my whole life?"   (I had already hashed out that I wanted kids in my life if I had a husband.  If not biological, then adopted or foster.  That was a non-negotiable for me)

The simple answer is that I wanted a career that mattered.  I wanted to help people learn about science because I found science absolutely fascinating.  I didn't think I was up for raising a child by myself - but as a teacher I could raise a lot of students a little bit.

Being a stay-at-home daughter was not an option - thank God!  Honestly, though, the thought of the lives of most of the adult women who are stay-at-home daughters after 25 years old in households wealthy enough that they aren't needed to work scares me.  Running my own home is satisfying if exasperating at times; being the parlor maid-nursery maid-go-fer in my parents' home until someone marries me sounds like hell.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Maxwell Mania: Oh, the Idolatry!


Occasionally, I dig through the archives of Titus 2 to see if I've missed any interesting posts.   This post caught my attention because the title "Guarding Hearts - A Real-Life Situation" made me think it was about how to court while focusing on emotional purity - that weird tenet of Christian Patriarchy/Quiverfull (CP/QF) that says that falling in love to someone you don't marry is equally horrible as having sex outside of marriage.  

(For clarity, I don't view either as a bad thing - but CP/QF treats premarital sex with a level of horror that most people save for pre-meditated murder.)

Oddly enough, the blurb was far stranger than anything I expected.

While at the zoo with his family, Steven Maxwell noticed some videos for sale:

I noticed two documentary videos on Mount Everest in the gift shop. I have a special interest in mountain climbing and thought this would be an excellent addition to our educational video library. It also turned out that one of them was the same footage as was being shown in the Imax Theater. After a little hesitation, I decided to go ahead and purchase them.
I have one question.

Steven Maxwell has launched an entire ministry based on restricting his family's access to anything that Maxwell feels is not religious enough.   Practically, that means that anything that limits Maxwell's ability to micromanage the lives of his kids is out.   Most memorably,  Maxwell turned into a crying mess while taking Nathan and Christopher out for ice-cream as preteens as he declared that no one in the family could take part in organized sports anymore.  Maxwell was mostly worked up about the fact that his children were getting to know peers who had not been vetted by Maxwell himself and there also seemed to be some jealousy that the boys enjoyed being around the coach.

On the flip side, activities that Steven likes are allowed.  The family runs because Maxwell runs.  Maxwell approves of at-home weightlifting and body weight exercises so those are ok.  Every year, the Maxwells decamp to Colorado and walk up some 8,000 foot mountains because Steve likes mountain climbing.

So, if Steven is allowed to buy two videos about a non-religious activity that is not related to his career for "educational purposes" - is that allowed for the rest of the family?   Could Terri buy a set of videos about household organization which seems to be a hobby of hers?  Could Sarah buy videos about world renowned botanical gardens?   Even as I write these, though, the hypocrisy is obvious.  The rest of the family is not allowed to have interests that Steven doesn't personally approve of - but his whims are educational.
When the little ones were in bed, I chose to preview the videos, so we carried the TV and VCR out of the downstairs closet. To my amazement, the opening scene began in a temple where one of the climbers was lighting candles. Ugh! My heart then began to twinge a bit under conviction, and that should have been enough to stop it right there. However, the mental excuses and gymnastics began as I thought of the thirty dollars I had paid for this one.
The Maxwells take sheltering to extremes.   

In homeschooling history, the Maxwells remove or black-out any section mentioning non-Christian religions.  Their theory, such as it is, is that learning about other religions is the exact same thing as idolatry - or maybe it's the first step to becoming an idolater.

That rationale would not hold up against any scrutiny.   The Bible is filled with allusions to other co -existing religions in the same area.  When old Testament prophets rail against Baal, that implies that Jewish people in that area knew who Baal was.  In Jesus' time, Greek and Roman culture was so prominent in the area that observant Jews knew that Greeks and Romans were polytheists. 

No, the standard for idolatry is actively worshipping another God - and watching a documentary where a few minutes of time includes Sherpas praying is well-below that standard.

Steven mentions that the youngest kids are in bed - but the older kids are watching with him.   How old do you think those kids are based on this next section?

The story unfolded with occasional remarks about his god, temple footage, and other Eastern religion information. To my shame, I didn’t turn it off, but continued watching it with the three oldest children. I failed those children! I should have stopped it right then and said, “No more, we must turn it off. This isn’t worth compromising our hearts.” However, I wanted to watch it! Therefore, we finished the first video, and we started the second tape. This one was about high-altitude effects on the body. By this time I was feeling quite convicted. Then, out of the blue, the guy being interviewed cursed. That was enough to push me over the edge and turn it off. Why hadn’t I chosen to stop watching it earlier?
I mean, he could have fallen to his knees and screamed "Oh, the idolatry!  Why, God? WHY?" before ripping the power cord from the wall, too - but why sound overwrought when prim will do?

Let me suggest why he didn't turn the TV off. 

Jumping off the couch and turning off a video while saying, " Children, cover your ears!  We must not pollute our hearts with such heathen things!" followed by a 30 minute Bible lecture flies reasonably well when the audience is elementary school aged and the content being avoided is overt sexuality, drugs, or violence - like a Tarantino film or porn.

Doing the same thing while watching the 1998 released film "Everest" in April of 1999 with Nathan, age 22, Christopher, age 20 and 17-year old Sarah makes him look crazy - even to his less-sheltered older crew.   

The amount of Tibetan Buddhism that "the kids" saw in the movie was small.  The film looks respectfully at the practices of the Sherpas who are on the mountain - but the movie doesn't go into any real depth about the tenets or beliefs of the religion.   From what I remember, viewers get the idea that the Sherpa are devout, have a variety of prayer methods built into Tibetan life, and maybe understand that the Sherpa build areas for prayer at base-camp.   

And honestly, I'm probably overestimating the amount of understanding the Maxwell "children" walked away with because I am interested in high altitude climbing as something I read about - and I've read as much as I can get my hands on about the cultures in the areas that climbing occurs. Because of that, I recognize prayer wheels, wind horses, and prayer symbols.    In "Everest", we see the climbers get covered in flour by the Sherpas by one of their prayer altars.   What I didn't know when I watched it - but learned later - is being covered in flour is part of a blessing asking that you survive to old age.  Since flour makes hair look white-gray and fades skin color like aging, it's a very literal demonstration of what the Sherpas are praying for.  It is deeply moving and caring.

And if the representation of Tibetan Buddhism is anything like the occasional forms of Catholicism that you see tangentially in documentary moves, we've probably focused too much on non-essentials and missed entire important areas of Tibetan Buddhism. 

 It's certainly not enough information for any of the 'kids' to launch into being a practicing Buddhist which is the minimum requirement to reach the "Thou shall not have any other gods but Me" level of idolary.

Fun fact: It's nearly 22 years later - and none of those three kids has jumped the fence and broken with the Maxwell's belief system - although Nathan's kids are being raised in a slightly more stylish fashion than he was.  

Amusingly, two of the sleeping kids - Joseph and Jesse - have broken important Maxwell doctrines of "Thou shall live in our neighborhood" and "Thou shall never live in an apartment".   

So maybe watching this video had no strong negative effect on the "kiddos".

The one thing I'm sure of: Sarah's life would be a bit easier if Maxwell watched the rest of that second movie.  Sarah suffers from acute mountain sickness (AMS) in the form of nasty headaches with nausea at a fairly low altitude and has been stuck at their vacation rental for several years while the rest of the clan hikes a 8,000 footer.   

Maybe watching a video about the serious biological basis of  AMS - and the ability of AMS to worsen rapidly -  would have convinced Maxwell to find a different vacation destination that all of his family could enjoy.

Or not.   Maxwell is the only one who really matters, right?

Monday, February 1, 2021

Maxwell Mania: Ragging on Baggers


While I greatly enjoy teaching, I have spent an equal amount of my working life in retail.   When I was 16, I got my first job as a bagger at a large regional grocery chain.   Bagging is a horrible job.  The main problem with bagging is the stultifying boredom of putting groceries in a bag for hours at a time.   There's relatively little mental or physical challenge to the job after the first month of learning how to bag. 

About the only thing that breaks up the monotony is the sporadic angry customer.   Occasionally, the customer has a genuine gripe - like when the bagger crushes their bread.   Equally frequently, though,  the customer either created the problem themselves by crushing the bread themselves - tossing a heavy purse randomly in the cart will do that - or by having major control issues.   Yes, I'm thinking of the woman who chewed me out because the items were not bagged in the exact order that she placed them on the belt.    That interaction holds a special place in my heart because after she went on for a bit I looked at her innocently and said "So - you wanted the eggs and bread under the canned goods.  Got it.  Will do."    That seemed to shake something free in her brain that caused her to realize how bat-shit crazy her plan was...

Honestly, though, I have fond memories of "bag in the correct order, peon!" lady because I doubt she's slandering me on the interwebs to drum up sales for her vanity press ministry.    That slimy job was left to Steven Maxwell who is back to maligning essential workers behind their backs.   These quotes are from the article titled "Addictive" published on December 16, 2020.

I love to engage people in conversation, and grocery store trips provide many opportunities for that. I have been able to dialog with quite a few baggers over time and found amazing similarities. In general, they are gamers. Playing video/computer games is the highlight of their day and the passion of their lives. They have no ambition or direction for their lives but seem to be content with just enough money to support playing games
There is so much condescension and elitism here that I am a bit lost where to start.   

First, there's no way that Steve Maxwell has sat down and worked out what a representative sampling of baggers from Dillion's Food Store, Price Chopper, and Eddie's Grocery Store should look like - let alone the Sam's Club or whatever wholesale club shopping experience they belong to is.  Saying that he's found that all baggers are gamers is pretty unbelievable -and should be backed up with something more solid than "well, that's what I've noticed."

Second, even if the Maxwells are doing once-a-month style shopping, the total amount of time that Steve has to talk to the bagger is 5-10 minutes max.  If he is running out more often, the cart size gets smaller and the amount of time to talk to a bagger drops to 3 minutes or less.  When you have 3 minutes to greet a customer, ask if they want plastic or paper, bag the groceries and load them in the cart, you don't have time for very in-depth topics of conversation.     Discussions about gaming work well for that time-frame because it's reasonably high interest and low controversy.   Other similar topics include "your child is so cute!" and "I wanted to try (hold up item of interest) - want to tell me about it?"

Third - and this one should be obvious to Maxwell because he worked at a corporate company for decades - grocery store workers are at work.  When at work, employees are not supposed to use company time to convert people over to their form of Christianity.  If you started using "The Good Person Test" so beloved by the Maxwells, you'd rapidly be put on a performance improvement plan - e.g., stop it or you'd be fired.  This is completely legal because the First Amendment prevents the government from interfering with religion; employers are legally allowed to prevent employees from converting people on the clock.   As far as I know, each of those baggers might spend all of their free time hitting up random strangers to do "The Good Person Test" - but Maxwell should never be able to tell that from their discussions at the store.

Fourth,  Maxwell has three adult daughters who are unable to support themselves independently - so I'm not sure where he gets off ragging on baggers who use their wages to buy video games instead of using their wages to buy fancy coffees, long running skirts, paying for illustrations for vanity press novels or drawing materials.  The Maxwell daughters were raised to be wives and mothers, but Maxwell has failed miserably at getting any of his daughters married.   Maxwell sees the baggers as unambitious and drifting - but the same words describe his three adult daughters who hold down two part-time jobs in their brother's companies between the three of them.    Most adult women would need to do some serious rearranging of job and household duties to support a sister-in-law's five young children while she underwent chemo in a different state - but the Maxwell sisters were ready because they have no particularly important roles in any place.

This next section makes Maxwell look like a dick:
Recently, one man in his twenties, exclaimed with a big smile about the new game he purchased and the price. I asked him if he thought it was worth the twelve hours he had to work to pay for it? Beaming, he said, “Absolutely!” His dream is to upgrade his game system.
How long do you, dear reader, think I was a bagger? 

If you guessed two years, you are right!

I started bagging at 16 because it was one of the only jobs available to a minor.  I could not be a cashier before age 18 because my store sold alcohol and tobacco products.  Legally, only adults can handle alcohol and tobacco sales so no minor aged cashiers.  

Cashiering and working a department - which often has the same age-restriction due to using cardboard bailers and trash compactors - are far more mentally challenging and sometimes physically challenging compared to bagging.   Most baggers who don't quit to get a better job at a different employer at age 18 transfer into either cashiering for a higher wage or a department for less customer service and more freedom. 
Why, then, would a man in his twenties be bagging at a grocery store?   

I can think of two reasons.

The more palatable reason - e.g., the one that makes Maxwell look like less of an ass - is that the bagger's main job is somewhere else in the store and he's filling in as a bagger because of high customer volume or unusually high absenteeism.   At the store where I work right now, we have various people whose main job is to help with loading customers' cars and bringing in carts who are called "Lot associates" or "lot guys".   When it's busy, though, nearly anyone in the store who doesn't have a lifting restriction can be helping load large orders or wrangling carts back into the store.   

So the bagger Maxwell is ragging on may well be relatively high up in the store leadership and Maxwell just hasn't seen him as the receiving supervisor or grocery area manager since most of that work happens out of view of the customers.  A frequent customer asked me one time who the new employee who helped me load her car was.  I replied "My boss' boss.  He's nice."

The less palatable reason - and the more frequent occurrence - is that the bagger has a cognitive functioning limitation from a disability that makes cashiering or working a department impossible.   Every large retail store I've worked at has one or more associates who are excellent employees when doing repetitive jobs with low autonomy - bagging, lot associate, janitorial work - but is unable to do the faster paced and more abstract thinking required to cashier or function within the relatively high autonomy areas of a department.

When I read that section, I feel like Maxwell is taking cheap shots at a guy with a disability.  Part of the reason I think that is that the adult-aged bagger told Maxwell the name AND the price of the game.  In US middle class culture, people avoid talking directly about money like the plague - so telling a customer the price of something the bagger bought feels like the bagger might not be functioning the same way as the 'average' person.  I can think of three former coworkers who did slightly off things like that; one survived a severe head injury in a car accident, one had high-functioning autism, and one had a mild cognitive impairment.

I wonder if Maxwell would be so blasé about that bagger if he realized that his daughters will likely be coworkers of that man when Maxwell dies or the family's money starts running out.  Asking Nathan and Joseph to make up jobs for Sarah, Anna and Mary is a hard ask - especially since the girls have spent the last decade waiting to get married instead of doing any kind of employment training.  On the flip side, I can't imagine trying to fill out an application for a retail or fast food job for any of the girls let alone making up a resume; they don't have any non-family work experience!

I wonder if Maxwell has ever heard of the saying that "People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones......: