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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. 


Anonymous said...

Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might, because there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.

Ecclesiastes 9.10

I know that there is no good in them, but for man to rejoice, and to do good in his life. And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.

Ecclesiastes 3.12-13

Give her the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

Proverbs 31.31

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven:

Ecclesiastes 3.1

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Proverbs 3.5-6

Don't worry though, I have been told that no one should go to college. And that studying theology is bad. All based out of Scripture, of course.

There is danger in college. Be careful. There is danger in getting out of bed, as well; but sloth is a sin. And the same advice applies. :)

Thanks for your comments. I very much appreciate them.

Anonymous said...

As you have guessed: I feel awful for reading this, I recite Bible verses when confounded, and I am utterly worthless at encouraging anyone.

Guess I'll go hide in a dark corner and feel bad for you.

Bethany said...

I'm going to respond to this by email, cause I know I always forget to click the little 'subscribe to comments' link and I'd rather this comment not get lost in blog-space :)

But thank you, thank you very much for these comments.

Steve Finnell said...

you are invited to follow my blog

Carol said...

I, for one, am VERY glad you went ahead with Road to Freedom, and I am super excited that you are pursuing the game design and computer engineering route. :)

Don't even get me started about some of those books. You are on the right track. Go girl!