Step right up folks! I am reading a nice selection of books this Christmas break and several of them demand attention.
So Much More, by Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin
Quivering Daughters, by Hillary McFarland
Blue Like Jazz, by Donald Miller
Perelandra, by C. S. Lewis [again]
The Science of God, by Gerald Schroeder
[Admittedly the last few are kinda waiting to be read....]
The first two books demand to be read and talked about. So Much More, by the by-this-time infamous Botkin sisters, has been both strongly recommended and strongly denounced. Quivering Daughters, which really isn't an argument to So Much More so much as it is an attempt to heal those hurt by patriocentricity, has also been rejoicingly and critically received.
Supporters of So Much More always preface their recommendation with a variation on 'if you are a feminist, or afraid to have your views challenged, or unwilling to submit entirely to God's plan for your life, don't read this book because you won't like it'. This is a method which I have encountered numerous times and it is beginning to anger me rather a lot. There appears to be NO way to argue with it. It is the single most effective way of stifling criticism that I've seen......feel free to disagree with us, but if you do we will know that you're a rebellious feminist.
I am swiftly working my way through Quivering Daughters. I think I'd recommend it to ANY young women raised to believe that patriocentricity is correct...also any men out there who either are incensed at patriocentricity's influence, or are whole-hearted supporters of it.
Hopefully a more thorough review of QD later; right now I am up in arms over So Much More.
I haven't read the whole thing yet, really couldn't stand to....have been taking dips out of it here and there with my customary lightning-speed reading.
Just a few things that stood out to me....
In the first chapter:
'Don't read this book at all (I would rephrase: "You won't like this book....") if you have a bad attitude toward your father and if you are trying to keep your distance from him. Many girls enjoy having "space" away from their fathers. That space is dangerous.'[-So Much More, page 6, emphasis mine]
It goes on with the same sort of warnings I mentioned earlier.
They do say to check what they say against Scripture.
I become irked at the constant assumption that women in earlier times were happier because they were unfeministed [word, hehe]. The first mention of this recurring theme occurs here.... 'The lifestyle and worldview we present ... was lived before, when women were much happier.' Really? I fail to see how anyone can judge whether a whole set of people in another time is more or less happy than now.
There's an interesting comment about 'extreme measures' which I'd like to contrast with one in Quivering Daughters.
We believe that in a day of extreme apostasy and judgement, extreme measures are exactly what's called for, and that a drastic step in the opposite direction is exactly what we need to take.[page 8, emphasis in original]
From QD, talking about moving away from patriocentricity:
'...it feels like you are going towards another extreme. Consider, however, that you are on a line, with patriarchalism on one end and, as an example, secular feminism on the other. Because your starting point is an extreme, to move toward balance initially appears like rushing to another extreme.'[Quivering Daughters, page 159]
So Much More utilizes a number of testimonies from young women who are introduced in the beginning of the book. Almost all of them started out as feminists; most of them started out sincerely wanting to serve God [but in what they later came to believe was the wrong way: by going to college, becoming a lawyer, or conducting business]. This gives me great hope that someday I, too, may be like these young women and realize that I am trying to serve God in the wrong way.
The entire book is geared exclusively towards daughters and their fathers [which has been used as a criticism, because mothers are rarely if ever mentioned]. Every chapter is headed 'Daughters, Fathers and ___'. There is very, very brief mention made of the plentitude of difficult circumstances that could prevent this relationship....what about a father not having a job that his daughter can help with? [Geoffrey Botkin, in a special appendix, says that fathers should consider getting a new job or risk losing their daughters. I'm sure my dad would be happy to hear that.]
'Our fathers...are even supposed to represent God to us. This means that are dads have the tremendous responsibility of being accurate reflections of God's authority, as well as providers of the security and love that God created us, as women, to need.'[page 17, emphasis mine]
There's a lot of concern that a daughter who grows up equating her father with God will have deeply twisted perceptions of God if her earthly father was abusive [EMOTIONALLY and spiritually, not just physically].
Men's and women's roles
Oh now we get to the good stuff, the stuff that will keep you up at night.
'Every woman's life is built around men and men's role and leadership in some way.'
[page 11] [They go on to say that, for instance, feminist Betty Friedan spent her life furthering a man's agenda: Karl Marx.]
'As we stated before, every woman is, by nature, a man's helper. You are a helper, no matter your age or marital status.'[page 42]
That's funny, isn't it? I thought a woman was her HUSBAND's helper.
Their take on purity/etc was predictable, and less strident than I envisioned [included all of a page and a half telling girls to not beat themselves up if they have previous sins in their past].
Courtship, on the other hand, proved a truly unpleasant subject.
I've read several opinions on courtship and this one has the heaviest emphasis on extensive input from all involved parents and other adults.....no mention made of when this heavy-handed approach might give way to the two people actually doing it THEMSELVES....one would presume that two 30-year-olds interested in marriage would still have to be under the leadership of their parents. That looks like this:
First stage: friendship [sure].
Then, if the young man thinks the young woman may be his intended bride, he discusses it with his parents [paraphrasing here, from page 241].
He then approaches the girl's father without informing the girl about it.Lovely, isn't it?
The father then finds out all about the young man. If the young man obtains the approval of the father to begin courting, the daughter is consulted as to her wishes [finally!].
Then they go off courting, with marriage being the expected outcome. Theoretically any party can bow out at any time, but......
We still find our emotions entangled and disheveled under the most protective, sensible scenarios, and some people who court let themselves become just as emotionally devastated as people who date, if the courtship is called off.[page 242, emphasis mine]
Splendid....glad to hear that if I court someone and then become attached to them and then they DUMP me [as an example]....that if I am upset, it is MY FAULT.....my fault for letting myself become emotionally devastated. This is carrying it a bit far, but I'd like to take it to the conclusion of.....if a wife loses her husband of thirty years in a car accident, she LETS herself become emotionally devastated?
No, they don't explain that comment away. It is right there, boldly discounting any person's pain. I know how to take things in context.
In the interview with Geoffrey Botkin, he talks about the 'bride price', which we are to assume he intends to require for his daughters. He states that without the bride price, daughters were financial liabilities to families. [The bride price, apparently, involves the son-in-law giving money or estates to the father-in-law, who then passes the money along to his daughter, the bride.] Since the girl's family would then never get the money, I fail to see how that makes daughters any less of a financial liability. Mr. Botkin then states that he would hate to see this made into a formula 'with dollars and cents attached to it'.
This is perhaps their most revolutionary concept. I think they fall short of saying that going to college is a sin.....they just attack every possible motive for attending college.
'A mature young Christian friend of ours...feels like she has won, because she exited with a degree and what she thinks is an intact soul. What she doesn't know is that the college is laughing at her, because it knows it is the real winner.'[page 144]
There is much mention made of parents sending their daughter off to college...packing her away to a university...sending her out into the storm....etc. There is no mention at all made of what to do with a daughter who WANTS to go to college.
[Edit, April 2011: the manuscript ends here :P I think I remember getting extremely frustrated and depressed over the whole thing right about when I started to tackle the college question, and abandoned it. ]