Monday, April 21, 2014

Sh*t Has Hit

I apologise for not posting the book review. But my life has taken an interesting turn and I've been processing.
   Regular readers know that I had a sister who died last September. What I didn't say is that I have another sister, technically. Mom gave her up for adoption right after she was born. I've known about her since I was 18, and have been in contact with her (infrequently) since 2009.
   When Justin and I first got married, she told me that she was pregnant and wanted to give the baby to us. Her adoptive mom was dying of cancer, and persuaded her to keep it, but not after months of us preparing and planning for this child-right on the heels of my miscarriage. Needless to say, this broke my heart and I haven't talked to her since.
   She contacted me last week, saying that she knows now that we are sisters, not cousins (as her mom insisted I tell her. She took that secret to her death bed, and it was only recently that it was divulged). She has questions that she wants answered, and she wants to have a relationship with me, as sisters.
   I don't know what to do. Part of me wants a sister again, even if we didn't grow up as such. And part of me is still so angry that she changed her mind about the baby. I have so many mixed emotions, and so little idea of what I want. I feel like she deserves to have her questions answered. I just have no clue.

Monday, April 14, 2014

CTNAHM-Obey Indeed? Part 2 (Eve and Her Gullible Female Nature)

p 174-175
 
   Lase section, Michael engaged in some mental gymnastics. We were taught that women are supposed to obey their husbands, but their husbands aren't supposed to remind them of this. I guess that's what Debi's book is for. Today,we are talking about WHY women are meant to be in subjugation to their husbands. The answer is: Eve, of course.
Text is in purple

Not Created to Obey?
Though it is none of our business what God says to wives, it will serve us well to examine all the Scripture carefully so as to adjust our misconceptions.
   I have a hard time buying that men in this culture think what God says to their wives is none of their business. Especially considering that Michael has made it clear that men are like Gods in their house. And I would pay money to see Michael examine ALL the scripture, not just the ones that agree with him. Who's with me-we can take up a collection!
In the creation account neither God nor Adam said anything about Eve being created to obey. God made her so Adam would not be alone, so she could complete him and help him in soul and spirit, not so he would have a servant.
Genesis 2:18-And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make an help meet for him.
   Okay...that's interesting. I guess somewhere between Eve's creation and Debi's book, the rules have changed. I'm a bit amused that Michael seems to think that EVERY conversation God had with Adam and Eve was recorded in the Bible. Because, really, how can we know that God never said anything about Eve being created to obey?
After Eve's creation Adam responds prophetically, defining the historical significance of the moment. Notice he makes no allusion to her obeying him.
Genesis 2:23-24-And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
   I'm curious about a few things. First, if Adam hadn't eaten of the tree of knowledge yet, and was on speaking terms with God, how could he speak prophetically? Isn't prophecy interpreting God's will for others? The only other was Eve, and, at least the way I was taught, she could hear God just as well as Adam could.
   Second, how would Adam know that a man leaves his father and mother? The only frame of reference he had was himself and Eve. After all, he was created from dust, and Eve from his rib.
   One thing I agree with, is that nowhere in this verse it talks about serving. Yes, there's the one flesh bit, but it doesn't say "And by one flesh, I mean the woman should do what the man says." Even though that's kind of what Michael teaches.
But after Eve initiated the first sin and then lured her husband into disobedience, God placed a curse upon Satan, nature, Adam, and upon Eve.
Genesis 3:16-Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and they conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
   Ah, there it is. Eve screwed up and now women will forever have to pay for it. Sounds like a real loving God....This philosophy is interesting to me. In the Mormon church, I was taught that Eve didn't screw up, didn't make a mistake, and didn't "lure' Adam into disobedience. She understood that there was no other way for her to fulfill God's first commandment (Be fruitful and multiply) unless she had some knowledge. Then she pretty much told Adam that, and added "I already ate the fruit. I'm going to die. Do you want to be alone?" In Mormondom, there is no concept of "original sin", because it wasn't a sin at all. It was a necessary course of action to insure that other people would be created.
   To me, that sounds a lot better than "Gullible woman! Now you're all cursed!" Oh, and I think it's interesting that Michael seems to have jumped from "he shall rule over" to "women are not capable of making their own decisions or choices because of ladyparts". I haven't studied the Bible for 60 years like he claims to have, but I'm pretty sure that part isn't in there.
Paul's letter to Timothy reveals further consequences of the curse, describing why women are not allowed to hold the highest office in the church or to gain ascendance over men in a church setting and why their husbands are to rule over them.
1 Timothy 2:11-15
11-Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.
12-But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.
13-For Adam was first formed, then Eve.
14-And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in transgression.
15-Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.
   If these verses were really what God meant when he handed A&E the consequences, then why did he wait 4000 years to specify this? Shouldn't they be in Genesis 3:16 instead? But no, the only thing that is listed that God actually said was that the man shall rule over the wife. Not that I agree with this, but it's a bit less demeaning than "Women learn in silence and subjection and don't usurp authority from the man. Oh, and be quiet, in case you missed that."
   I wasn't sure what "saved in childbearing" meant, so I Googled it. This is what I've learned: people really have no clue. There's a lot of interpretations, with a lot of different meanings. However this page seemed to sum up most of the arguments, and gives an answer that is-more or less-supported by other scripture. (Not that I agree with this at all).
Since Adam was "not deceived" by Satan's lies and Eve was, no doubt due to her female nature which rendered her more gullible than Adam, God has commanded men to not again put themselves in the place of granting leadership to women. They are the first to be swept away with cultish dogma.
   Oh yes. Here we are again. Women are gullible because of their female natures. The condescension Michael seemingly has for women is upsetting. He truly cannot go a full 2 pages without some snide comment towards women, or Debi. It's interesting that he sees Adam as the victim in all this. Satan convinced the woman who convinced Adam...poor guy, just got caught up in listening to the eye candy talk. Ick.
   I'm amused at the line about women being swept away with cultish dogma. It seems to be true-in a sense. From what I've noticed, women tend to do the "leading" when it comes to spiritual things. In the church I grew up in, it was common for women to lament that their husbands weren't living "up to their preisthood potential", and had to be reminded often to things like be in charge of prayer and scripture reading, and doing their church callings. I ran across an interesting article on No Longer Quivering awhile back that goes with this, as well. It's amusing, because many people think the Pearl's teachings are cultish dogma, yet Michael either fails to realise this, or fails to acknowledge it.
But don't get haughty, men; just because God "busted" the woman down in rank due to her being deceived into listening to the enemy, that does not leave the man as her slave owner. Rather it places a responsibility upon man to now bear the full burden of leadership-leadership, not ownership.
   I thought Michael made it clear that women were always secondary. I mean, God created Eve from Adam's rib! Created her to help him. How could she possibly "go down in rank" from that? I'm also curious how Michael differentiates 'slave owner' from 'leader'. Because this entire book has been about molding, sanctifying, cleansing, and perfecting one's wife-to present a "perfect" wife to the husband! I've had a few leadership roles in my life, and they weren't anything how Michael defines his leadership. Good leadership is about bringing out people's best-their skills, hopes, dreams, etc. Not nitpicking on faults until they go away, or deciding what to change to be most convenient for the leader. Honestly, that sounds a lot more like slave ownership to me.
   I wonder how much of a burden being the leader of the household is, in PearlWorld. After all, it's the woman who raises the kids, feeds everyone, cooks, cleans, gives sex on demand, obeys/honors/reverences her husband, doesn't usurp authority or try to lead...where's the burden in having EVERYONE in your household dancing to your tune? Oh, sure, the man may make mistakes, but there is a whole houseful of people waiting to be scapegoats-starting with the wife.

Overall, this section irritated me. Michael assumes that because Eve screwed up, then all women are gullible. There's no mention of Adam's part in this-he was capable of saying "NO!" when Eve came a-sellin' that fruit. Yet Eve gets demoted and Adam has to deal with the burden of being a leader. Ugh. I'm both totally confused why people choose to believe this, and irritated that this type of stuff is still taught in 2014.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Idea of Kids

We  made a huge, awful, hurting decision today. We are closing our fostering license.
   It's something we've been thinking about for awhile now. We aren't happy with the way the agency treats us. I, in particular, have a hard time being...open with kids. Let me explain.
   I grew up thinking that I was an inconvenience to my mother, and raising my sister (as best I could). When I parent children, all I know how to show is irritated or businesslike.  I'm not good at connecting with the kids. I can't let them in. I'm cold an impersonal or fake.
   I feel like such a failure. My husband has wanted to be a dad forever. I feel like I've taken this away from him. But he said that he would rather have me happy and no kids than miserable with kids. I just can't help but feeling like I've forced him to make an impossible choice.
   We're ending our bid for the other family, too. We talked about it, and realised that we'd fallen in love with the idea of kids. We don't know much about the family, besides an online profile. Our main emotional connection happened in our heads, our fantasies.

   I'm feeling relieved, a bit, because parenting was such a struggle. I had to fake nice, fake concern, fake caring. When I felt like the kids were sapping my energy, my time, my husband's attention.
   I feel like a horrible person for admitting this. I was raised that motherhood is what women do. And here I am, having opted for no kids in 2 different ways. First, through infertility. Now for not fostering.
  I feel like I gave up. Could I have warmed to kids? Could I eventually learn to love them? I don't know. Truthfully, I'm sure it will take years of therapy for me to work through the issues in my head.

   But at the end of the day, I was a foster parent for all of 8 months, and couldn't hack it. Maybe my mom was right, and I just wasn't mother material.

Monday, April 7, 2014

CTNAHM-Chapter 13 Obey Indeed? Part 1 (Don't Command Your Wife to Obey)

pp173-174

   We're in a new chapter, and I'm finding it really weird. The point of this chapter is that husbands aren't supposed to tell their wives to submit to them. Which, they shouldn't, but there seems to be the understanding that wives WILL submit. I'll let Michael explain.
Text is in purple.

How Do I Get My Wife To Obey Me?
In 1 Peter, we read the noted exhortation to women, "Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands" and "...in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God...being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord:" I can hear a man saying "Yeah, a woman needs to know her place." I answer, "There is no need, you will remind her often enough." (emphasis his)
   I hate these verses. Obviously they were written for a different culture and time, but there are plenty of people who apply them to their lives today. Or worse, insist others apply them in the same way. What's also interesting is that the verse specifically says "OWN husband", yet many conservative cultures think that women should be under all men.
   It's odd that Michael has snarky comments to make about men who think women need to know their place. Because, based on my interpretation of this book, he agrees! Women should know their place-their place is to serve, honor, reverence, clean, cook, sex, bear and raise children, and more for their husbands. Maybe be a little arm candy, and learn a skill or two that will benefit the man...In fact, I would argue that the point of this book is to put women in their place. He's talked about molding, shaping, sanctifying, and cleansing wives, for heaven's sake!
I have received thousands of letters from men asking the same question, "How do I get my wife to obey me?" Likewise, at speaking engagements men have come up and made similar statements, 
   That's a huge problem. Thousands of men thinking God has commanded their wives to obey them. Not only is this terrible for women (because it's hard to argue God's will), but it makes it likely that the man will become a tyrant. It's not surprising that so many guys think they deserve servitude, but it is sad. I wonder how Michael responds to this question. Does he say "Your wife doesn't have to obey you, she's not a robot?" Let's see!
"I have shown my wife the Scripture that says she is to obey me, but she will not listen." I have responded, "What passage of Scripture tells a man to demand that his wife obey him?"
"Well, it says 'Wives, obey your husbands.'"
"No, it says 'wives submit yourselves to your own husbands,' but to whom is the passage addressed?"
"To wives" they hastily answer.
"And who is commanding wives to submit to their husbands?"
"God is," they confidently assert.
I respond, "So God commands the wife to submit, but where does he command the man to command the wife to submit?"
   Well, isn't that sneaky wordsmithing? The issue isn't should women submit, or how women should submit. But who tells the women to submit. Apparently the only issue that the husbands have wrong is telling the wives to submit. I guess wives should joyfully do this, unasked?
Where in the New Testament do we read of how a man is to rebuke a rebellious wife? God commands wives to submit, but he never even suggests that husbands are to assume the right of demanding submission.
   Rebellious wife? When I think of rebellion, I think of a group of people fed up with the unfair treatment that's doled out to them by authority, and trying to change that. So the fact that a wife is rebelling (undefined by Michael, left up to the reader's judgement) tells me that there is a problem in the way the woman is being treated. I guess what I'm saying is: Sir, if you feel your wife is rebelling, then what are you doing that makes her feel rebellion is her only option?
   In a healthy marriage there should be communication and compromise. There is no rebellion, because there is no authority. Neither of the partners is in subjugation to the other, because they treat and see each other as equals. I'm also having a hard time figuring out WHY a husband wouldn't think he's owed servitude. Everything in this culture is geared towards pleasing the man of the house. So he's not supposed to demand submission, but he is supposed to get it? Perks of being a guy, I guess.
I have been married 40 years and have never told my wife it is her duty to submit to me. I feel it would be a cheap shot indeed to use God's command to women to settle a martial dispute. It would be taking undue advantage to use divine leverage against another human being.
   And yet Michael glowingly reports that his wife is a great servant. He insists that women will, nay must, serve men. But he thinks it'd be a cheap shot to remind her that God says so? THAT'S where he draws the line? Oh, and I can't imagine Michael taking undue advantage of another human being using divine leverage. Because that's kind of what this entire book teaches. I guess it's a matter of semantics. It's a man's job to train and sanctify his wife, and enjoy the blessings of her submission; but he's not supposed to TELL his wife she needs to submit. He'll just expect it and treat her according to his definition of submission. Sounds like a really complicated system. Why not just talk openly about one's needs?
I would feel like the pope or a cult leader to control another by invoking God and the Bible. I know it is my responsibility to earn her respect and gain her confidence.
   I'm glad he feels like it's his responsibility to earn her respect. Yet I can't help but think about the honeymoon section, where Michael seemed confused and upset that his wife went off on him. Does Michael give ways to demonstrate how to earn a wife's respect and confidence? Does he delve into this subject further, explaining what he means and what wifely respect and confidence look like? Nope. Not at all.
My wife is telling your wife to obey her own husband, and so she should. "The aged woman...teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands...obedient to their own husbands..." (Titus 2:3-5) And when I teach the Bible to the church and come across a passage where God commands a woman to submit to her husband, as God's voice, I teach the ladies to submit to their own husbands. But this book is not directed at wives. They got hit pretty hard in "Created to Be His Help Meet". It's our turn, men, and we are not going to cop out by throwing all the burden on the little lady.
   I thought men spoke as the voice of God in their own homes. Isn't that the reason why men can/should sanctify their wives? So why shouldn't men speak for God and tell their wives to obey, as Michael does? Or is it because he has a theological degree? Also, according to the scripture he quoted, it's the "aged woman" that should teach younger wives to submit, not the preacher. But I could just be getting snarky.
   I'm curious to see how Michael is going to make his point in this chapter. Because he's right, women did get hit hard in Debi's book. I wonder how the burden (Burden of what? Submission?) will be shared between husband and wife, when every teaching in this book emphasizes that wives are lower than their husbands.
   It is irritating that Michael takes it as gospel that women will serve, and that men will be obeyed. There's no room for a woman's opinion, thoughts, feelings, or desires. Just obedience and subjugation. Because that's a great tagline for Christian marriage.

Friday, April 4, 2014

CTNAHM-Washing of the Word Part 12 (How Michael Learned to Love Debi's Hick Accent)

p 169-170

We are nearing the end of this chapter, and yet I still have no idea how a man is supposed to sanctify his wife. Sure, by "washing of the word", but Michael has yet to really explain what that means. He's thrown around words like "support" and "encourage", but he doesn't explain WHAT those mean, what they look like in practice, or how to use them to improve a marriage. I just don't understand how he can spend 20+ pages talking what a man is supposed to do, and why, but not how. Ugh.
Text is in purple

Without Blemish
A garment that was made with imperfections is blemished as is one that has suffered fundamental structural degradation.
Ephesians 5:25-27
25-Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
26-That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
27-That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
   The good thing about the end of the chapter is that these verses won't be repeated again. Hopefully.

A wife that is blemished has a fault that may be constitutional in nature or so ingrained in her soul or body as to be inseparable from her person. A blemish is not the result of sin. There is no blame in it. In many cases there is no cure for it. The cure is in learning to live with it, or even developing it as an asset.
   I'm kind of getting the feeling that it is up to the husband to decide what's a blemish. Which is kind of scary. Because it seems that a man who reads this book will start to go searching for his wife's blemishes! She snores too loud? Blemish! Her second toe is longer than the first? Major blemish! Though Michael says there's no blame in blemishes, I am wondering why a husband would need to sanctify his wife of them. Does that make sense? If there's no blame and often no cure, why not call it what it is-a trait or tic?
   And no mention of the husband's blemishes. But none of us are surprised by now.
My wife came to me with one blemish. She is deaf in one ear-apparently from birth. She developed it into an asset by learning to sleep with her good ear down when the house was too noisy.
   I...uh...okay? Is he saying she only had one blemish, and that was being half deaf? And while sleeping through noise (don't they train children against that??) would be convenient, I don't know if I'd consider it an asset. An asset would be having learned how to lip read or something.
I though her extreme hick accent was a blemish until the day I heard a very cool guy say he thought it was delightfully cute and charming. I have watched her charm a shop owner into selling to her at half price. She can entertain a crowd all day long with her colloquialisms and manner. It took Loretta Lynn to the top of the charts. I have heard that some of the country singers try to mimic the accent. So there you are. I married a famous country singer that can't sing and was not yet famous. But she is cute. And country gals do it better.
   Wow. So Michael learned to like Debi's accent because another guy thought it was cute. Is that the moral of this story? Jealousy=love? Because it still sounds to me like he thinks his wife has a hick accent. Sure, it's useful, but at the end of the day, she's still talking like a hick.
   Ugh. Even in a paragraph that isn't exactly complimenting Debi, he has to tear her down. So she can't sing. Who cares? But at least she puts out. Or at least, I'm guessing that's what he means in that last line there. Because it's been a few chapters since Michael has mentioned sex, or made an innuendo. Come to think of it, how would he know country gals do it better?

The Cackler
I know another fellow who married a talented woman, but she had some obvious blemishes. He was ashamed of her in public. If there were 100 people in a public place you could hear her laughing above everything. She sounded like a hen that just laid a double-yolked egg. He was a quiet man with a lot of dignity, but she seemed to take no notice of the social tone around her, being totally unaware of her intrusive laughter. And she laughed at inappropriate moments. There were other uncouth mannerisms that caused him to be ashamed to take her into public.
   Call me crazy, but wouldn't this have been something the man should have noticed before they got married? Even if they had been courting with parental supervision or something, surely she laughed at least once. Surely he saw her interact with the public before he proposed. There is only one situation I can think of where the man would have been oblivious to this "blemish" before getting married, and that's an arranged marriage where they both showed up on the wedding day and met. That is literally the only thing I can think of.
The worst thing about it was that she felt his rejection. He didn't tell her what bothered him; he just showed exasperation and displeasure at her presence. She grew angry and belligerent, further acting in embarrassing ways.
   Wow. This is worse than I thought! Instead of taking his wife aside and saying "When you do XYZ you draw uncomplimentary attention to yourself and it embarrasses me a bit.", he just gets mad at her and doesn't say a word. And she clearly doesn't feel comfortable asking why he's mad. What a great system.
   This went on for years, and there was talk of divorce. She even left him for awhile. But slowly my friend came to treasure his wife for other virtues he saw in her and expressed gratitude and admiration for her motherhood and her cooking and housekeeping skills.
   It sounds like to me that he missed his maid, cook, and nursemaid. Kind of "Oh, holy cow. She WAS useful, even though she annoyed the living daylights out of me. Guess I best play nice so I get my hot meals back." Or am I being too cynical?
She began to relax in public and didn't have a need to be in the center of everything. She stopped laughing like a babbling chimpanzee and gained some grace and dignity. As he responded, she responded and a cycle was set in motion as they both matured.
   How many snarky ways can Michael say this lady had annoying mannerisms? Wow.
   I'm glad things seemed to have a happy ending, but simply talking about things early in the marriage would have saved this couple a ton of trouble. Instead of advocating communication, Michael seems to think the real solution is basically "appreciate what she does for you". Which is nice, don't get me wrong. But it just seems...I don't know...hollow.
The last I saw of them, she was still a little gawky, but nothing like before, and he is more accepting of her lack of social skills. He has worked the blemishes out of her, and their marriage improves with age.
   I thought blemishes weren't blameworthy or often fixable. Yet this man literally blamed his wife and made her miserable to the point of leaving. I don't see how him accepting her lack of social graces (teach her if it upsets you that much!) is "working the blemishes out of her". It sounds like he just sucked up what annoyed him because she kept his house clean.

Oh, here's another example. Hopefully he clears things up.
The Girl No One Ever Noticed
About ten years ago, a carload of young people just passing through stopped by for a visit. There was one girl that sat in the middle, slumped down on the couch with her long, naturally blond hair covering her face. I noticed her for her inconspicuousness. She seemed broken, self-diminishing. When they all stood up to leave, I saw that she was well over six feet tall, but she stooped and slumped as if to make herself shorter. Her thin body looked like a pretzel standing there in the background. I never could see her face, for she kept it turned away and shut down like a blank computer screen. You seldom see people that blemished. In her mid-twenties, she was the girl no one ever noticed.
   That poor girl. I'm sure when she hit her growth spurt, and surpassed all the other girls in height, she got made fun of. Perhaps her parents made comments, too. Twisting oneself to the point of being a pretzel, and hiding one's face isn't a blemish. It almost smacks of emotional/verbal abuse. It's been my experience that people feel ashamed of how they look because of how others react to them. But, of course, Michael doesn't even touch on that.
About two years later an acquaintance stopped by with his new bride. She stood beside him like an oversize shadow, seeming fearful and apprehensive. He bragged on her and complemented himself for obtaining such a treasure.
   Wow. I have no idea what to say here. I'm glad he's happy with her. Is complementing oneself on their choice of spouse a common thing? I can't ever remember my husband saying "Daaang, I have good taste!" (Though he clearly does.) It must have been scary for that poor girl. I remember when my husband and I first started dating. I couldn't imagine why he would say I was beautiful, and that he wanted to be with me. I was confused for a good long time, and I was scared that he was using me. So I totally get how this girl felt.
After several years of marriage, I saw them again. This time she was standing up straight like she was proud of her height. She laughingly calls her husband "Little Man". He looks up at her with delight and they now have several handsome kids. They exercise together. She filled out in all the right places and her face looks at you with interest. She is no longer a shadow and is actually quite attractive, something no one else could see until her husband loved her as she was and took her with her wrinkles and blemishes. She has grown under his sanctifying grace. And she has helped temper some of his rough edges. He still needs some work, though.
   It's interesting that apparently the woman's only value is her appearance. Never are her skills, ideas, thoughts, hopes or dreams mentioned. Just how she looks and that she had kids. I'm actually reminded of the Mormon movie "Johnny Lingo". It's amusing to watch, if only for the phrase "Mahana you ugly!" Here. I'll post it. If you have 20 minutes, watch. (It's not overtly Mormon, in case you were worried about that.)
   Basically: A hunk of a man gives way more for the abused, belittled girl of his dreams than her father thinks she's worth. Everyone thinks she's ugly and tells her so. After they get married, she stuns the shop keeper by her beauty. Surprise! She was beautiful the whole time, and only needed a man to tell her so!
I don't really know the nature of her blemishes, but I am sure they go back a long way. I do know she was not molested. She was virtuous in every way and highly moral, but something in her soul was blemished. Her husband/savior has redeemed a life that was sinking into the recesses. She now blooms and would catch the eye of any man. That's God's work done God's way, and it never lacks God's supply.
   How does he know so much about her? He saw her in passing years and years ago. He never really saw her face. Then someone he kind of knows shows up with a tall bride. Years later, after her "Saviour" (no God complexes in PearlWorld) rescues her from her crippling self-doubt, she's a catch. Because God only cares about women's appearances. In fact, his work is actually to beautify these wives so the husbands can pat themselves on the back.
   I don't mean to sound rude, but that is precisely the vibe I've gotten from the last few sections. Has anyone else noticed this?
God receives all of us just as we are with our blemishes, gawkiness, and clumsiness, whether we are too tall, too short, too dumb, slow-witted, one-eared, paralyzed, deaf, blind, or poor. He fills up his house with just such, and reminds us that "not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. (1 Cor 1:26-29). Can we love any less or demand any more? Are we better than God? If he is willing to receive all and then dedicate his life to sanctifying us, who are we to expect a heavenly marriage without engaging in a patient sanctifying process?
   Yes, God thinks you're weak and worthless. But hey, he can use that for his purpose!
And to answer Michael's questions. Yes, you love less and demand more. You demand perfection. Why else would you feel the need to sanctify your wife or mold her into what you want? Perhaps you don't see yourself as better than God, but you do seem to view him on equal footing. If God is willing to accept the poor, ugly, and stupid; and love them and give them purpose "just as they are", then why in tarnation is this whole book about men changing their wives???

Ugh. This is the end of the chapter. And I'm left with more questions about sanctification. Though not too many, as the idea make me unhappy. I have enough self-worth that I do not need anyone (husband or not) telling me how they think I need to change. If that is what a heavenly marriage is, I would rather do without.
 (It's ironic that Michael's idea of marital heaven is how I view hell.)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

New Kid

We took in a new kid Monday night. She came straight out of police protective custody, and we didn't know much about her. It's taken 2 days to see parts of her file, and 3 days to get in touch with her worker. And holy cow. This girl is, on paper, a mess. Lifetime of trauma and abuse, been in and out of the system...last time she was in foster care, she went through 12 foster homes in less than a year.
   Amongst a host of other issues that we weren't aware of when agreeing to house the girl, it came to my attention today that she should not be placed with younger kids. We had 2 younger boys when we picked this girl up! And nobody from the agency said a word. The girl had been in the system before, so it's not like this was a new development!
   Along with that, the family we're trying to adopt has 2 younger kids. Since she can't be with them, we'd have to send her off in a few months anyway (if we're selected for the kids).
   Yet when I talked to her worker today, I was the one in the wrong. Because she was new to her case, and I didn't give her enough time to finish the file. I am so ticked off with the system.
   Now we're trying to decide if we should try to keep this girl for awhile. Her mom, social workers, doctor, and previous case worker all seem to agree that she is difficult. (putting it mildly) We've only been fostering since September, and have no prior child raising experience before that. I don't know if we're ready for a girl that has been hospitalized 3 times, and whose workers want to take her off her meds and start from scratch.
   When I tried to bring this to my worker's attention, she said that we shouldn't be yet another family to give up on this girl. Part of me thinks that's true. I don't want to give up on her. From what we've seen she's decent and polite. She and I have a lot in common. But the other part of me wonders how insane it is going to get when the switch flips.
   What she needs is stability and rules and support. And, in my opinion, high level care. I don't know how much of any of that we can provide. Her needs seem so far out of our depth, I'm worried that if we keep her, we won't be able to deal with her once the 2 week honeymoon period is up.
   I honestly have no clue what to do. I want for it to work out, but I really think she's going to be too difficult to handle. I don't feel supported by the agency at all. I feel like all I ever get from them is blame and guilt trips. I've considered, more than once, closing our license because I don't like the way we are treated. She seems like she wants to stay, and she told her worker she'd try to change her behaviour. Her old worker also said that a lot of her behaviours are environmental, because she didn't like how things were at her mom's. But I can't stop thinking about the 12 other foster homes she was in, and why she got kicked out of those...

There are no easy answers in foster care.

UPDATE (4/3/14 @7PM)
We have decided to ask the girl be placed somewhere else. We aren't licensed to deal with difficult cases. We've gotten no support from the agency in tricky situations for any of the other kids we've had. In fact, when I wrote my worker and told her that we're giving our notice (partly because of the lack of support from the agency), she asked if we could keep the girl longer than 2 weeks AND what supports would we need. Isn't that the point? We dont' know enough about the girl or her issues or her difficulty level to actually KNOW what we would need support on!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

CTNAHM-Washing of the Word Part 10 (Michael Compliments Himself-By Complimenting Debi)

pp 165-167

After what I'm calling the Great Internet Blackout '14 (turns out backhoes and cables don't mix...you'd think the phone/internet/tv people would have realised this prior to digging), I'm back with another review. Because I've been away for awhile, I'm treating all of you lucky readers to an extra-long section! Don't you feel blessed to be able to read more of Michael's inspiring words?
Text is in purple.

Wrinkle
A wrinkled garment is an unused garment. It has been placed on the shelf and left unattended. It was valued enough to keep but not valued enough to wear. Most wives come into their marriage wrinkled, and most stay wrinkled through their entire life.
   Wait a tick. Aren't women supposed to come into marriage unused? Or does Michael mean another definition of unused? Do sexual sins only apply to the "Spots" section? And who is Michael to insinuate that most women aren't valued? Then again, look at his culture. Women are valued-as breeding stock and housemaids. So perhaps I do agree with his assessment, after all.
   Does he mean their talents are unused? Or does he mean their fathers didn't direct them in the right way? Ugh. His next book should be a dictionary, so people know what he means when he uses words to mean peculiar things.
One wrinkled lady writes:
Mr. Pearl,
I've heard foolish men making comments about their wives' weight, features, appearance, cooking, etc. Don't they realize when they are doing that, they are cutting off their own arms? When my husband comments on my beauty, I feel like a flower opening up and blooming. I flourish like a healthy blossom receiving all the optimum nutrients and growing conditions. Men should know they get what they grow.
Debra
   Does anyone else think this letter HAS to be made up? It has the same tone, and the same writing style as Michael's book. Who writes that they feel like a flower blooming? Who feels like a flower blooming? When my husband tells me I'm beautiful, it makes me happy-no prose necessary!
   And while I agree that husbands (or anyone in a relationship) shouldn't be so quick to criticize, I disagree slightly with men getting what they grow. It's true that how one person treats another has an effect on self-esteem, but I think what's sitting wrong with me is that flowers have no choice. If the external conditions are right, flowers flourish. But there's no way for a flower to say "I need more water" or "Put me in the sun!". Likewise, there is no room in PearlWorld for a wife to say "It really hurts me when you tell me I'm fat and unattractive. Instead of criticizing my appearance, offer to go on walks with me." There's no way for a flower to pull up it's roots and move somewhere else if it's not getting the nourishment it needs.
Again I print the text so your understanding will be rooted in what God says. My job is to explain the sense of it that you might understand what you read (Nehemiah 8:8)
Ephesians 5:25-27
25-Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
26-That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
27-That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
   Nehemiah 8:8 actually is talking about GOD translating his scripture so that the people understand it. Not the first time Michael feels fit to take over God's job (see sanctification). And ugh, I am so tired of the Ephesians verses.
My wife came into marriage somewhat wrinkled. She had many talents and gifts that were never developed. I think she was also a little blemished. She lacked confidence in any public setting where she felt outclassed. Like me, she was raised in a very rural environment in the Deep South. Her experiences never took her far from home or from her roots, and she lacked confidence in many areas. In the early years of our marriage, it aggravated me to see her crumble in social settings.
   I'm not entirely sure how Debi grew up, but if her upbringing was anything like the culture she currently lives in, then it's no wonder she lacked confidence and crumbled in social settings! From what I understand, kids-especially girls-are sheltered to keep them safe and pure. There's very little talking with anyone that isn't family, and very little room to explore talents because there is always so much to do around the house. So to call one's wife out because she wasn't confident-in a culture that doesn't really allow for confidence-seems kind of rude.
I had been an evangelist since I was seventeen and had traveled extensively, meeting people of every class. I had also attended a nationally acclaimed art academy and then went on to get my BS degree in another college. I had seen enough to know that ever man, regardless of station, is frail and limited in scope, so no one intimidated me. But I watched her distort the truth in public to avoid conflict. I observed her getting run over intellectually by people who though more of themselves and less of her. I had much more faith in her than she did in herself.
   Hehehe. Michael got a degree in BS. It shows, Michael, it shows.
   Sorry. I'm in a snarky mood today, I guess. I just can't get over how arrogant Michael is! Nobody intimidated him because everyone is flawed. (I may be reading too much into it, but I see a big "EXCEPT ME" in that sentence.) And I can also see Michael running over his wife with "logic" and "intellectualism", because he's made it clear that marriage is a pissing contest. So even though he says he had more faith in her than she did herself, I have a hard time believing it, because of all the other digs he makes about her.
She had the opposite problem from most women today. She had been raised in a very conservative Independent Baptist home and church, coming to marriage expecting to obey and serve. And she did. Except for those occasions where she suddenly blew up, she was the perfect servant.
   Yes, because it is the hope of all married women everywhere that they are viewed as the perfect servants. If my husband ever complimented me on my servitude (which he wouldn't, because-let's be honest-I'm not servile at all-I'd be super upset! I'd yell "Is that the only thing I'm good for??" Maybe that's what Michael means by Debi blowing up.) Oh, and speaking of digs at Debi...
Several years passed with little progress in her self-confidence. It was three years before we had our first child.
   Does Michael think these things are correlated? I don't even see how the length of time to conceive is even relevant to this narrative.  Wait. Yes I can. In the Mormonism I grew up in, it was almost expected that women get knocked up on their honeymoon. I can't say that's been everyone's experience, but that seemed to be the expectation. Almost as soon as the couple is married, EVERYONE asks "So when are you going to start your family?" So I can see how 3 years would be tough on Debi. Because of course it's the woman's fault.
When Rebekah was about four years old and Deb was teaching her to read and write, she observed that Rebekah seemed to see and write letters backward. So she called Memphis State University and asked to speak to a child development professor. Amazingly, a man returned her call. When she described the problem, he told her it was dyslexia. "Dis-what-e-ah?" He suggested a book, so off to the library Deb went and found several books on reading disabilities. Concerned for our daughter, she devoured the information and then launched her own program. She had me make a small box to hold sand and then guided Rebekah as she wrote with her fingers in the sand.
   Honestly, that's awesome. It would take a great deal of patience to teach a child who sees words differently than the parent. I'm really glad that Debi found out what was going on and figured out solutions to help Rebekah learn.
Over the next two years, she became an expert on dyslexia. She spent many hours in the library reading and studying many things. My part in all this was to encourage her, to assure her that she could do it, that she was capable; and sometimes I had to babysit or build sand boxes or whatever else her latest experiment called for.
   Again, I'm impressed at Debi. It takes a lot of dedication to spend hours at the library, on top of familial responsibilities. I'm even surprised that Michael would lower himself as to do women's work like babysitting.
She didn't stop with a study of dyslexia; she followed her imagination down many paths and wanted to try everything. Homeschooling became a laboratory of discovery. I remember spending two days making a beautiful tofu press that got used twice. I helped her capture swarms of wild bees and built hives for them. She became a student of everything, reading an average of four to five books a week, but she still lacked public confidence, often yielding her superior knowledge to a more dominant woman. It aggravated me even more to know that she was the master but allowed herself to be treated with condescension.
   Clearly Debi is a Visionary...or whatever Visionary women are called. Ugh! I'm getting irritated that EVERY paragraph has to have something about Michael. "I did this" or "I said that". I get that this is a book for men, but can't he just let his wife have some credit for the things she accomplished? Sure, he supported her, but she's the one that ACTUALLY did these things!
   Oh, and I noticed that "public confidence" doesn't apply to talking to men. Just dominant women. I wonder how Michael would respond to Debi calling out a man that was condescending to her. I guess kind of like she did in the honeymoon story. Except that man was Michael, so the blow up was unacceptable. So I guess it doesn't count.
As more children came along and her homeschool class grew, she created her own curriculum. IN trying to relate to the children the recent history of the civil rights movement under Dr. Martin Luther King, she searched for a children's book but found none, so she wrote her own, even drawing the pictures and coloring them. The kids loved it, and others who read it though it was wonderful.
   Dr. Martin Luther King, JR. Seriously, it's not that hard to remember the Junior. All that aside, it's pretty neat that Debi wrote her own children's book. She even illustrated it-and her husband went art school!
Seeing an opportunity for her to develop her talents, I encouraged her to attend a night course on writing and publishing. I kept the kids and she came home excited, telling me all the fascinating things she was learning. So I told her she should publish her book "Listen to My Dream". She drew the characters and I painted them. We went to a local printer to get guidance on sizes and methods. We published 5,000 copies and I encouraged her to fly to Atlanta and meet with the King Foundation.
   Again, Debi does all the work, and Michael is taking the credit. He's saying "I encouraged her" like it was some heroic effort on his part. Props for him that he listened to what she was interested in, but can't he just say "My wife is freaking awesome. I'm a lucky man!" without having to pat himself on the back every paragraph because he's the one that "molded" her into awesomeness?
Over the next year she traveled alone and met with many people including lawyers, heads of large denominations and chain stores, and the King Foundation. The first 5,000 books sold quickly and we reprinted. The public school system ordered books for every fifth grade teacher, and the public libraries began to carry her book. We spent our meager savings promoting it, and just when she was negotiating an order for 1,000,000 books, the King Foundation shut us down, demanding an exorbitant percentage.
   I'm surprised he let her travel alone. And meet with men? (I'm assuming they're men because they were lawyers and heads of denominations). Though it's really snazzy that public libraries began to carry her book. I'm really curious about this book now. It's not at my local libraries, but it IS $.51 (plus shipping) on Amazon. Has anyone read this book?
   And call me crazy, but if I wrote a book, was negotiating an order for 1 million copies, and someone wanted a huge chunk of it, I'd say "Heck yes!" Take your 50%, sir. Because I'm selling a million freaking books."
It was a heady ride. She became famous in her own right, granted in a small circle, but she earned the respect of many people in high places, and it changed her. She would never again allow herself to sit on the shelf and gather wrinkles. We were poor for the endeavor but richer in spirit. It would be years before I would sit down to write "To Train Up a Child", but when it was finished, she knew exactly how to get it published, and when it proved to be popular in our small circle she knew how to offer it to a larger audience. The wrinkles were all worked out after 20 years of marriage and I like her even better. I have presented her to myself without spot or wrinkle or blemish.
   Good for Debi! Honestly, it must have been a heady thing-getting recognition for something that you've done. I'm sure it was not a common occurrence in her life. I'm sure she gave credit to her husband all the time, but inside she knew that SHE did it. I'm even surprised that Michael spent his savings following his wife's dream. But I guess when the wife's dream is surrounded by dollar signs...
   Oh! For those playing PearlBingo (which we really need to make a card for), that's 2 additional Pearl books being promoted in this one section!
   And the last 2 sentences are really unsettling. It gives off the vibe "I changed her into what I wanted, and boy am I pleased with my results!" Not, "After 20 years of marriage, we learned about and loved each other even more." Also, I still find myself asking "What has the husband done to deserve a wife without wrinkles, spots, or blemishes?"
Today she is a tigress. She won't back down from the Queen of England or a hostile CNN reporter. She will lecture a college professor or tell a doctor how to better treat his patients. She has been my able partner and associate in business and ministry.
   Ugh. She sounds like a bossy know-it-all to me. Telling a doctor or professor how to do their jobs? Because she's qualified how? And how is it that suddenly taking on and challenging men is OK?
I have allowed her to be my help meet and she has risen and risen and risen to the occasion. I don't know what her limits are and she doesn't acknowledge any. Sexy, brains, creativity, and personality-what more could a man ask for? Well...maybe a good crabbing expedition in the middle of the night.
   WTF? Seriously! Michael allowed Debi to be his help meet. Really, Michael? How sweet of you. And while I'm pleased that he complimented his wife full out, he had to ruin it with yet another dig. Yes, we know you were unsatisfied with your honeymoon. Kind of how your wife is ticked at the way you take out the trash. You guys need to talk and get over these things, because they happened like 50 years ago. Move on.
What about you? Is your wife meeting her full potential? Does she have contributions to make to the church and community that have been stifled by cloistering? Some men are so insecure they do not want their wives to grow, lest they stand taller.
   What about the wives that have 12 children and are living in literal poverty? How can a woman live up to her "full potential" if all of her time, resources, and energy are dedicated to providing bare necessities to a huge family? I'm amused at Micheal's condescension of men who keep their wives down because of insecurity. Because clearly a real man builds his wife up in a way that makes him look better. Obviously it's wrong for a woman to be able to feel proud of herself without giving a man credit.
Wives confined to diapers and dishes can grow weary and discontent, feeling they are trapped on an endless merry-go-round where every day is the same and the scenery never changes. Provide opportunity for your wife to grow as a person.
   Again, this sounds like "rich people problems". Oh, poor housewife is bored and discontent. Find her a project! Yes, it's a good idea for a person to have at least one outlet. But sometimes it's not feasible. I mean, this culture encourages women to stay at home and bear as many children as she can. That means living off the husband's income, and whatever home-business the wife has. Unless the man has an amazing job, there is going to be a struggle to make ends meet. It's just not realistic to feed and clothe 10 people on $40,000 a year (and that's a generous salary for some families!). I suppose that's why girls in this culture are raised to be "Mommy's helpers". Because there is no way for one woman to do everything without going starkers.
You cannot decide her interests. She must discover them by trying many things. When something lights her fire, she will brighten and become enthusiastic in the pursuit of it. When that happens provide the means for her to pursue her interests.
   Yet again, it seems that Michael is overlooking families with no additional means. Not everyone has a savings account they can dip from to publish their wife's book. Not everyone has the time or energy to pursue many different things. And even if they find something, not everyone has the means to continue doing it!
   Like quilting for example. This is one that Mormon women seem to aspire to. It's expensive to make a quilt! First the fabric. Good quality quilting fabric is at least $4.99/yard (here in Kansas). To make a decent sized quilt, you're going to need yards and yards of fabric. Then batting and backing. Not to mention hours and hours of time devoted to sewing the darn thing.
   I just don't see how families with limited resources have the time, money, or energy to try a bunch of different activities and hope that one of them clicks. And though Michael says that women should decide her interest, I have no doubt that before embarking on an activity, the wife needs approval from the man.
One caution is called for. A wife's interests and the pursuit of them should never detract from the family. She should not abandon the home to seek personal fulfillment. The family should be made better by her personal development.
   Of course. If a woman gets a taste of fulfillment outside the home, she'll turn into a cat-loving, duplex-living lesbian.
   A question I have is: how was Debi's traveling all over (alone) not detracting from her family? Sure, she was making money, but she was literally leaving the home to pursue her passion. Is it OK for Debi but not for everyone else?
 
Ugh. I think I'll stick to smaller reviews in the future. My head hurts.