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Sunday, August 22, 2010

And, finally, peace

I think I may have finally found peace. Not that I was ever particularly lacking it, in any but this one area: the struggle against patriocentricity. The few friends who I trust with issues like these, and rather a lot of blog-followers, have patiently listened to and read reams of my discussions about patriocentricity. Some don't really understand why it matters, but some of those people care anyway :)  My hapless dear friend Eva talked about it with me for a solid couple of hours in the small hours of the morning one time. Other friends are willing to talk about it, and nothing else, when needed. Otherwise-unknown people from cyberspace have commented and encouraged and offered hope.

I wrote the following to Hillary McFarland, author of the just-out book Quivering Daughters, and of the blog of the same name. It does a wee bit of a summing-up of today. 

And this is for all of you, thank you :)

Thank you so, so much for everything you do. Today a dear friend, who has patiently undergone hours of discussion about patriocentricity, mentioned fruit....and 'how shall we know Christ's followers'. Showing love to others...that is something I have never, in years of absorbing patriocentric views, seen or felt. In the last month, I found your blog, and others, supporting a far more moderate and loving stance, which I'd never seen before. I had always thought that one was either a feminist/whitewashed version thereof, or a daughter of the patriarchy.
Immediately I was welcomed [by
Karen Campbell :)] and reassured. Even then I struggled with doubts, that perhaps this 'acceptance' was merely the acceptance of sin in my own life.

I have asked God so many times to show me the truth in these matters, but so far with no more success than could be explained away by 'my own emotions'. 

My friend's comment about knowing Christ's followers by their love changed that.
I realized that I do not want to join the patriocentrists, do not want to show the fruits that I see in their views, of legalism and a painful lack of love.
I have, on the other hand, seen so much compassion and understanding and love of the Lord in you and others like you. Finally I am accepting that perhaps the struggle I've always felt against patriocentric views was NOT wrong.
Thank you, for showing us that those who disagree with the patriocentric viewpoint need not be 'in rebellion' or any of the other things that we get called, but instead can be loving, conservative, and relying on God's strength.
Blessings on you for your work, and thank you again. :)

I do feel free, now. Finally. The truth shall set you free....can I get an amen, anyone?  Probably these issues will continue to affect me, but just the one fact is different now....'Bethany, do you WANT to be like them?' and the answer, this time, is no.

Please pray that I will in future always look to God's Word, and that alone, for knowledge of right and wrong. In other words......

And please pray that other young women will be spared needless pain and shame. 

I'm getting baptized in a few weeks, on my birthday as a matter of fact. Perhaps it is appropriate that in the past few months I have begun to actively search the Bible and God's will, and at the same time, to weigh the 'biblical' teachings about patriocentricity which have lurked in the background of my life for years. 

Oh, and I'm happy. 

Yet another epic blog post

Going to be two posts in short succession here, I think...First, I found this really good article here on the rather sketchily-named blog, White Washed Feminists. [White-washed feminist is a name invariably used against almost anyone who disagrees with patriocentric views.] The entire article can be found here, on Michael and Debi Pearl's website, No Greater Joy.  I know the Pearls have some rather controversial teachings, I have not read enough of their works to comment at this point :) However, the mere fact that they are willing to address the politically-charged topic of patriocentricity is hugely in their favor, to my mind. The following excerpt does not mention patriocentricity, I don't think the term was even in use when this was written [2008] but it goes right to the heart of the problem....
Without further ado, here are the Pearls of great controversy [:)], on an issue that I, and my mother, and her friends, have seen at large in the homeschooling community.

I am thankful for the testimony of the Foger family as well as other families that have come into our lives. They are a prototype to help us understand the problems that are arising among some older homeschooling families. We call it by different names. Today it is the Cloistered Homeschooled Syndrome. Briefly, it is the failure of the parents to understand, appreciate, and respect the individuality of their adult children. They sacrifice the individual identities of their children on the altar of their own emotional needs, making them nurse when they should be killing and dressing their own food, making them obey when they should be learning to command. They seem to think that grown children are God’s gift to them rather than their gift to God. Through letters and personal contact, we see more and more of this cult-like isolationism, parents demanding absolute allegiance to the family group, and fearing outside contact might break up their “fellowship.” Adult kids who want to launch out on their own are told that they are rebellious and disloyal and are causing grief to those who have nurtured them. Emotionally needy parents manipulate their grown children into remaining loyal to the unit. Thirty-year-old daughters sit at home acting as surrogate mothers, watching their prospects to ever be a mother dwindle…
There was a vacuum, a need for leaders to arise and define what had become a movement, to clarify our journey and give us direction through uncharted waters. First, curriculum was written, then seminars. Sub-movements arose to flesh out the new culture, specialists addressing every conceivable issue—head coverings, dress, doctrine, spanking, scheduled nursing, Kosher foods and Jewish practices, and the list goes on. Books were written, some good, some not so good. Then someone pulled from ancient Chaldean and Sumerian culture, also practiced by Jews of that day as reflected in Scripture, a system of Patriarchal rule. It was the way nomadic clans were held together, a necessity of the times, but never taught by Moses, the prophets, or Christ as God’s divine plan…
It is now become a disease of epic proportions. We call them PDFs, Patriarchal Dysfunctional Families. The children are treated as permanent property of the parents. If they don’t marry, and many of them never have the opportunity, they remain at home as a sort of indentured servant, never rising to the status of an adult, always under authority of the head of the clan, the Patriarch Daddy. Don’t snicker. A lot of kids are hurting. And if you want to see something scary, try to conduct a betrothal with two patriarchal mothers involved. It is uggggly. Daughter sits at home serving the younger children and doing Mama’s chores—waiting for God’s choice. Daddy and Mama hold their merchandise guardedly, waiting for a buyer who never comes.
What is pitiful is the whole process is done in hopes of getting the perfect will of God, but one vital ingredient is missing—encouraging your children to become responsible, autonomous, well educated, and experienced adults as soon as possible. You should have trained your sons to be men by the time they are fifteen, independent by the time they are eighteen. Your daughters should be capable of living apart from the family by the time they are eighteen and should be allowed to make their own life’s decisions somewhere between the ages of eighteen and twenty. Unmarried, grown (18 years old) children may remain at home; it is good if they do; but the parent-child relationship should evolve into an adult-adult relationship by the time they are sixteen to eighteen years old. Parents should have earned the right to give advice, and kids should have grown in wisdom enough to ask for it. But a parent should never invoke his parental authority on a grown kid. It is demeaning to both and akin to not being potty trained.

To teach a student to drive or fly a plane and then always make him be in the company of his parents is degrading. You teach them so they can become independent of you. Whose need is being met when a Father treats a 22-year-old girl like a child, dictating the parameters of her choices?
The glory of a parent is to work himself out of a job, to stand back and see his kids fly solo.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Things of note, Take 3

Wellwell. I have, since I last posted, gone on holiday, started work, stayed up til four in the morning at a sleepover, and taken [am taking] a week-long film class. Epic times all round :)

First a quick catch-up on those things, then to the Serious Topic of today's post, heh heh. Camping was awesome....mountains in Eastern Oregon. Swimming in the lake, a day-trip south to Crack in the Ground, talking about dealing with bears, relaxing around the campfire, smoking oneself over the campfire in attempts to keep the mosquitoes off, smoking one's tortillas in the campfire in attempts to melt the cheese, smoking the cheese drippings in the fire in attempts to Baffle the Bears, and other merriments passed the time. On the last day, we were waffling to and fro about whether the incoming thunderstorm actually posed a threat of raining on us. The first big drops convinced us...they also convinced me that I needed to swim in the lake one more time. After packing up the tent, a massive and enthused undertaking. I could not be bothered to change into my swimming stuff, but just sorta RAN for the water.....and LEPPED....I came out just as the lightning times :)

Two days later we headed off to the Oregon Coast for more adventures. My dad and I were not keen on the trip from the get-go. This was enhanced by the cold foggy weather with which the Oregon Coast loves to welcome visitors in summer. We headed up to southern Washington as well, narrowly avoiding driving up to Redmond to check out DigiPen's open house.  The second night we spent in a vastly over-crowded, over-priced, under-resourced campground which was also infested with rabbits [near the quaint town of Cannon Beach, for all y'all Oregonians out there].  My parents said that it had been infested with said rabbits for years....we later discovered one in the town as well, they were INCROACHING.....well. That night, instead of being merely damp, we were rained upon. We were awakened at 3 by what I immediately took to be 'the creek rising', a harkening-back to the innate human [specifically pioneer] fear of things that go swish in the night. [We were, it is helpful to note, encamped on a gravelly patch in the middle of a swamp.]  The noise proved not to be the creek rising to sweep us all into oblivion [one might almost wish it had] but instead the noise of rain hitting the tree leaves above us. Then, of rain hitting the tent.

This would have been all very well had the rain-fly been working properly. As it was, the rain fly had 'popped off down the street for a sandwich half-way through its term of duty' [Muskeg Novel, B.Carlson, 2009].  My feet, bunched against the bottom of the tent, could feel the impact of some of the rain drops on the lower part of the tent....they'd hit the tent and the impact would go through my sleeping bag to my non-sleeping toes...

THEN we heard the ghost. My dad suggested that it might in fact have been a ghost, because it certainly wasn't a person and sounded too big for an animal [at 4 in the morning, at least]. It sounded for all the world as if someone was crunching gravel.....although we had put the tent on the only gravelly spot, in hopes of finding a flat spot. I am convinced it was, in fact, the rain making noise on the tent. Dad joked that it must have been the ghost of Sacagawea [tales of Lewis and Clark infest this part of the North-west...a marker on every stump and overlook. 'Dismal Nitch' was the most memorable name we saw on this trip.]

Come morning, we decided to abandon the tent, which, with its rain-fly sagging because the poles had broken, was sodden and also sandy. In the early hours, rain still misting determinedly, my dad and I rolled up the tent and bundled it down to the trash dumpster. We did not actually put it inside, just sort of left it in a discreet bundle behind said dumpster, should anyone down-on-their-luck find it before the rabbits did.

Once thankfully ensconced in our own house again, I proceeded to the County Fair [where I snarled a lot, and came home remarkably at peace with my world, people and choices].
Other merriments included starting work [a week and a half now, 5 hours every day, delivering surveys via the telephone. Good pay and the best part is, I can READ whilst waiting.].

This week, in addition to working 4-9 PM, I have a filmmaking camp for teens, 9-2. Advanced camera stuff and editing and so on. Very good times [I am the only girl, four geeky guys, but I prefer to think of it more as 'a geek among geeks'. Amusingly, they are all homeschooled and were involved or know of Road to Freedom in some way. Good times.] Yesterday at lunch break we pottered round the dumpster back of the school, had some merriment involving a large branch, then wandered off to Fred Meyer's in search of comestibles. We musta looked like gangstas :)  I adore hanging out with geeky homeschoolers, I haven't actually done that for MONTHS.

Okays on to the forementioned Serious Topic. First let me link to this post on Darcy's excellent blog.  Actually I am just going to link to it and leave ye to draw your own conclusions. A lot of what she mentions, I also went through, to a much lesser extent.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Post # 2 on serious topics

Wellwell. I got a sizable turnout of opinions on my last post, both here on the blog and on Facebook, where my blog posts to as well. On to the next [related] topic. Below is a comment I posted on another blog, which was reviewing the book Before You Meet Prince Charming, by Sarah Mally.  What I wrote below is really more in regards to some other, similar books.
Again, if you haven't read the books mentioned this may not make a lot of sense....I'll try to provide links and so on.  And I know this topic could create a bit of conflict, and people disagreeing with me, I'll take that as it comes.
The comment below was posted on this blog article here:

I was required to read this book, as well as Beautiful Girlhood [by Karen Andreola, I believe? Or edited by her?] and Raising Maidens of Virtue [Stacy McDonald] in my early teens. If anything, these books alienated me somewhat from Christianity, and from the courtship movement, something I deeply regret. Only in the past two years or so have I more fully embraced God and the idea of a courtship-based approach to marriage [and I still consider that the last needs to be carefully handled, a la Josh Harris].

I found myself continually taking issue with the points raised, probably because I felt convicted of my own failings [and of their truth? I'm still not sure].  For a girl who has often been over-fond of the company of boys, almost everything that I read in these books felt as though it was aimed at me.

My mom realized that I would probably never fully embrace all the philosophies in Before You Meet Prince Charming, and sold the book at a homeschool book sale last year, so I unfortunately do not have it to refer to here.   But I remember arguing [in my own head] with the idea that if girls live outside of the home [i.e. college], they will become used to independence and feel stifled when it comes time for them to marry. The idea was that this would be prevented by a girl's living under her father's roof until marriage.
My arguments were 1) that if a girl feels [and probably knows she will feel] 'stifled' by marriage, it is not yet TIME to get married! There comes a time when a woman [or anyone, IMO] becomes lonely with a solitary life, and I think that maybe one cannot appreciate the companionship of marriage without a previous time of 'freedom'. What would be more submissive than a woman entering into a marriage contract when both she and her husband know she is giving up what the world calls freedom FOR this one man?

and 2) that if one is afraid that a girl will become used to feeling independent and enjoy it, how fragile must be the 'benefits' of eschewing that independence! 'The truth needs no strength to sustain it' [probably a mis-quote on my part...]

There is, in all three of the books I mentioned, a concern with girls guarding the hearts of the young men around them, something I heartily endorse. [I personally am enraged at some girls' careless and selfish behavior with young Christian men.] However there is always mention of some behaviors as incorrect or even sinful, which I have indulged in and hope to be innocent.
   The most hurtful thing I ever remember one of my girl friends saying to me was at the age of 12 or so, in a tone of disgust at what she must have thought to be my purposeful attention-getting: 'Bethany, why do you always make such a show of yourself?'   It so happened that at the time I had NO idea I was 'making a show of myself', but it certainly looked that way, I will admit. I was also once nicknamed 'Peacock' for a [short] while. All of this going on in a small Christian homeschool co-op group...  Anyways, my point is that some girls feel horribly offended and hurt if they are told they are trying to get attention. Books [Beautiful Girlhood, which I know is not the topic of this post] often mention girls who 'do their hair in new and daring styles' [that IS a quote, at the time I read that I was about 11 and enjoyed braiding my hair in new styles and so on...I memorized that darn phrase] or are fond of being in town, in negative lights [usually the harlot's-feet-abiding-not-in-her-house comes up].

My other major concern is with the concept of courtship, only as portrayed by Sarah Mally in this book.
Please correct me if I am wrong on this though! :)

At least in the allegorical story which is woven through the book, the Princess finally marries a Prince who approaches her [or rather her FATHER] in the appropriate way, and who is also a courageous and caring young man. BUT BUT BUT...I can recall little or no time with the young couple shown getting to know each other! Did I just miss this? It certainly was not harped upon in the accompanying text. How did they know that they shared the same interests? Ideals? Did they at least know where the other stood on important issues, even if they didn't agree? Just because a person is 'good', even just because they are a strong Christian, does not mean that they will automatically make YOU a good marriage partner.

I do not consider that dating is a good choice for most people, certainly not in any form of 'dating around' just for fun. But on the other hand, surely getting to know members of the opposite gender, however little dating actually performs that task, is preferable to being close friends with NO ONE! I recall now another book [Emotional Purity, by Heather Paulsen I believe] which made the case that it is dangerous to be close friends with anyone of the opposite gender. It referred to 'emotional fornication' which, if I recall correctly, was not lust as we would think of it, but instead the sharing of one's MIND with another person. Having in-depth talks about one's faith were to be avoided. There was something to the effect of, you only want to share your spiritual life with your spouse, isn't it emotional fornication to do anything else?  

My main concern is that young people may wind up marrying each other without knowing each other very well. Sure, they may get better acquainted during courtship and engagement, but isn't it a little late to be finding out important stuff about your significant other at that point?

I am amazed and thankful to find that this view of courtship is not the only one. Josh Harris' is, I think, much better. One of my very close Christian friends ascribes to a courtship ideal which I consider extremely sensible. It involves being very clear with people on where your relationship with them stands, and not dating just for fun. The plan is to be allowed to get to know lots of people very well, but be open and honest with all of them. When you know who the best choice for marriage is, you hopefully already know a LOT about them...and one would hope that one of the first criteria is being compatible in faith, interests, and personality.

It seems that girls who follow some of BYMPC's guidelines will miss out on many good and innocent relationships. Friendships that is.  [for me personally at least. Some girls do connect well with other girls, I tend to have trouble doing so with all but a few. In addition, my scholastic/career interests put me in contact with chiefly guys. While I would hate to appear to undervalue female companionship, I also frequently find it easier to give and receive help in spiritual and faith-based areas with young men.]
I know this is getting long, so I will wind up after just one more [heh heh] personal testimony. Had I followed some of BYMPC and Emotional Purity's guidelines, I am pretty sure I would have missed out on one of my deepest friendships: more importantly, I very well might still be in the fairly lukewarm Christianity that I was a few months ago. Conversing with a young man who deeply loves God helped me in so many ways that I hate to think of the sort of person I was even a few months ago. That provided a sort of springboard to pursuing God more strongly than I have in all my years of being a Christian. While God might very well have opened my heart in other or better ways, the fact remains that whenever purity has been a focus of my friendships with young men, nothing but good has resulted.

Hum. Almost done now. I would like to say that I highly support many of the principles outlined in Sarah Mally's book. Purity before marriage is a very important topic but I feel that this book has some worrying ideas and perhaps fallacies in it.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Things which have bothered the Bethie for a while

I'm trying to think of a catchy first sentence so that people who only see a snippet of this blog somewhere will maybe want to read this post.....

There've been some situations which have arisen in the past few years, as I thought, only because of my on sins and failings. The worst happened the fall I turned 16, which has been almost two years. The questions it raised have been brooding under the surface for a long while. 

In the last week I've become deeply interested in the subject again and have written quantities of comments on other peoples' blogs. I thought it was time to share this stuff with my followers :)  

A few notes: 
1) you will probably not understand a lot of this if you're not familiar with the conservative Christian culture that I grew up with. It's a good culture, I want to make that clear. There are elements in it, however, which I am still trying to decide about. 

2) These elements lie in the patriarchy, or as I now term parts of it the patriocentric, movement. This is fairly common among Christian homeschoolers. 

The opinions below deal with a trend which I tend to sum up as 'The Botkin sisters', only because it was the teaching of those same young women [Anna Sophia and Elizabeth Botkin] which finally pushed me over the edge. The edge of-what, I don't know. 
This movement says that the ONLY way to be a godly woman is to follow their ideal of women living in their parents' home until marriage, not pursuing a 'career' outside of the home, and in almost ALL cases not going to college: at least not in a traditional on-campus way. 
The best way I can describe their philosophy is to refer you to their website: Visionary Daughters  Their film, Return of the Daughters, created a fair bit of controversy. I watched it in the fall of '08. 

Here is a comment I posted on a lengthy discussion at this website:

  I'm almost 18. Two years ago I watched Return of the Daughters as per my mom's desire and it was the most hurtful and disturbing message I can remember hearing [which may only say that I've been sheltered, but oh well]. 
At the time I had just spent the summer directing, filming and editing a movie with some homeschool friends. I was also in the early stages of planning another, more ambitious film project to be made over the course of the next year with my [at the time] homeschool co-op group. 

There were a few phrases which I remember still [after one viewing]. Voddie Baucham's daughter's testimony for one. I recall that she said she had previously planned to be a film-maker. After being convicted, she decided to stay home. It was not obvious, and I believe not the case, that this was after she became a Christian: it did not seem to imply that she was aspiring to be a secular film-maker and thus it was her Christianity that convicted her...rather that she, like me, was already a Christian but then found that it was wrong to do so.  [Erh, is this making sense? anyways...]

The other thing was [I think] one of the Botkin sisters stating that 'we are not all at home pursuing our own selfish interests'.  I was able to make 'selfish interests' into anything that I enjoyed. This may not have been what was meant, but for an over-emotional teen, it was painful. In someone a little more zealous and with a little less sense of humor, I can easily imagine it leading to self-destructive behaviors. 

A little background here. I've been homeschooled all my life until last year, when I took a few classes at a local high school. I am an only child and a perfectionist. Until I became more comfortable with who I am [ergh. That does sound like secular psychology doesn't it...] I struggled with extreme perfectionism in all aspects of my life, especially scholastically. 

Some books which my mom also required that I read influenced me in a similar way [Raising Maidens of Virtue, Beautiful Girlhood and to a lesser degree Before You Meet Prince Charming.....the first is also by Stacy McDonald] but RotD hit me hard where I felt it...I was feeling pretty good about myself after finishing making that film, excited about the possibilities of the next one, and happy about my life in general. Probably self-satisfied. 

I cried harder after watching RotD than I ever remember doing before or since. And the thing was, it wouldn't have affected me if I hadn't felt in some way convicted by it. Convicted enough to hate myself, not convicted enough to change......which is right there an unpleasant place to be. 

For a while that fall, I seriously considered scratching the idea of making my next film. In the end I went forward with it, because 'I hated to back out on my friends' was really because I still wanted to continue with it.  A year and a half later, my film Road to Freedom was shown at a local film festival after favorable reviews on the festival's blog. [It was a historical fiction work, set in the American Revolution.]   I cannot say that anyone has come to Christ because of that film. On the other hand, a lot of homeschool teenagers were involved in various ways and made friendships and had experiences that have lasted up til now. 

I did send an email to the Botkin sisters soon after watching their film, with a lot of questions and concerns. They never replied, I don't know if it was because of sheer volume of responses or just them getting the feeling that despite my polite phrasing I was angry and maybe not wanting to hear the truth as they saw it. 

I haven't read Passionate Housewives. I fear that it would cause further self-criticism on my part...
In perhaps the unusual place of being extremely self motivated, fairly hard-working, and so on, I often feel upset by calls by Christians to do more, harder things in all areas. I am the sort of person who will work tirelessly for something she believes in...the same thing happens with grades, and yet my parents keep pressing for MORE. [Incidentally, this is becoming a rant....I'm sorry.] That sort of thing hurts. 

Also the college issue! I am grateful that I no longer am very much affected by the no-college movement, because if I were the decisions would wrack my world [not to get too dramatic :P ]  Actually when I watched RotD I was not really planning on collegebecause I just didn't want to do [I wanted to be an organic farmer and housewife at the time...] but there is a difference between not wanting to do something, and being told that you shouldn't. Sin nature I guess. Well that riled me...I know the Botkin sisters have publicly stated that they do not say that all women who go to college are harlots. In the very next sentence [somewhere on] they turn around and bring out a Bible verse about a harlot's feet 'abiding not in her house'. This seems to me like making the Bible say what they believe...except for the fact that the Bible is talking about a harlot there! Not someone who leaves her house! All harlots leave the house --> all women who leave the house must be harlots. Classic fallacy there...wish I could remember the name of that one! :P 
Yes well college. Now I am planning on majoring in Computer Science in college. I am even considering attending a very exclusive game design and computer engineering college [funding being the issue]. There is no way they could condone that...if I believed they were right, I would be in even greater distress. 

I think the biggest danger from this movement is actually to the 'good' people. The girls [there are a FEW. Our culture is mostly rather apathetic. As you know.] who really care about doing the right thing, and hear constant reminders to not conform to the world's standards of 'good enough', will be affected.  The pendulum argument, that our culture has swung far enough away from truth that an equal or greater effort in the opposite direction is needed, is very true I think. However it is very hard on the people who ARE trying. Even as I'm typing this I find myself thinking that maybe they are right, maybe I should be doing more and trying harder, and taking less 'me time'. If it weren't for my sense of humor, and some rather large blessings God has given me, I could slide back into self-hate [which I am told is really self-centeredness. So I am selfish...and I hate the thought of being selfish...and that means I hate myself which means...okay, finishing now.] 

I'm going to wind up this insanely long post which will probably never be read. Thank you, to those of you who discoursed reasonably and in a Christ-seeking way, on this issue. If I hadn't found this and related sites, I might never have known that there are not-feminists and not-Botkins. 
And in excuse or explanation for this post which is horribly much about me, thank you for listening to that too. This is an issue which has bubbled under the surface in life-shaping ways for the past three or four years and I may have finally gotten it out of my system. 

And can I just say as a word of encouragement to any young women out there who are having difficulty being the 'Proverbs 31 woman', you may be closer than you think, despite the Botkin sisters' recent post on how unpleasant many unmarried women are [...I guess I still feel hurt and angered by them...rats.  ]
No matter how much you fault yourself, or feel convicted by others, chances are other people look up to you. We are all our own worse villain. Don't stop striving...but don't kill yourself in the process. 

Thanks all, and blessings. 

There's more, a LOT more, but I won't post it now. Just got back from a camping trip which was AWESOME. Take care y'all, I'll be around in a few days.