Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Update

I will return to my normal posting schedule Friday. We got a long-term set of kids, and this week is court, grandparent visits, Halloween, birthdays, and eye-doctor appointments. So I'm rarely home long enough to eat, let alone blog.
Thanks

Monday, October 28, 2013

CTNAHM-Mr.Steady Part 2 (Michael Explains About Women's Monthly Cycles!)

pp 90-92

Last post we introduced Mr. Steady. According to Michael, he typifies Jesus Christ, but I've disagreed. Today we're talking about...wait for it...women's periods, and how they affect husbands. Yup. You read it here first. Michael's biology lesson isn't to help husbands understand the hormonal reactions so he can empathize with his (possibly) PMS-ing wife. Not. At. All. Michael gives us this section to help men "deal" with their wives hormones. He even offers a few "good" suggestions. I know y'all are as excited, so let's jump right in.
Text is in purple

Steady Man Positives and Negatives
Being a Steady Man has its positives and negatives. On the positive side, you are a good husband. You would never put pressure on your wife or make unreasonable demands. You don't expect her to be your servant as may Mr. Command. And unlike Mr. Visionary, your wife will never deal with emotional fires. You rarely make your wife feel hurried, pushed, pressured, or forced. The women married to Visionary men look at you in wonder because you seem so stable. The wife of Command Man marvels at the free time your wife seems to have. You seem so balanced.
   Stop the cows. Apparently being a Mr. Steady automatically means you're a good husband. Which is odd, because I'm fairly certain that being a good spouse or partner to anyone takes work. Not just "Oh, aren't you lucky? You were gifted with a personality type that makes you great at relationships. Just sit back and enjoy it, you lucky dog!" Also, it's a bit odd that he just assumes that Steady husbands don't make unreasonable demands. Who is Michael to decide what's unreasonable? People have different ideas of what unreasonable means. For me, an unreasonable request would be "Don't enroll at the community college next semester. Stay at home and keep house." For somebody else, they would hear that and think "Well, duh. Why would I want to go to school?"  And just because somebody is married, doesn't mean they always know what their partner considers unreasonable.
   Oh, and I pulled this from Debi's book. Apparently the Pearl's like to copy/paste with minimal editing.
Your husband never puts undue pressure on you to perform miracles. He doesn’t expect you to be his servant. You do not spend your days putting out emotional fires, because he doesn’t create tension in the family. You rarely feel hurried, pushed, pressured, or forced. The women married to Visionary Men look at you in wonder that your husband seems so balanced and stable. The wife of Command Man marvels at the free time you seem to have.
   On the negative side, it is that very balance that some women find boring and un-challenging  Like a rock, there is less movement in the Steady Man. He is not as likely to seek glory and praise. He is not going to be out front. There is less mystery in him, less intrigue and drama. He is slow to change and slow to make decisions. His spirituality is revealed in practical ways rather than in outward expressions. Not being a leader, he may appear to be less interested and involved than the Visionary and Command Man. A Steady Man, slow to make up his mind, may wait so long he misses the boat while others get the cabin with a view.
   Well, I really have nothing to say about this paragraph, except if Jesus is the inspiration for Steady Men, I think Michael may have missed the boat here.

Ocean Tides
Women, like the ocean, are given to tides, storms, change, and upheaval; they are unpredictable  their moods changing unexpectedly. Like the tide, it's the moon's gravitational pull that sets a female's monthly cycle, making her hormones go amok. When her hormones are off balance, your life will be also.
   Ok. I am giggling like a maniac right now. Mostly because last section, Michael said this about Mr. Steady (and Jesus) : He is not a tornado or a hurricane like the Visionary; he is a constant tide, predictable. And like the tide, he is in the majority. So the tide is predictable in men, but unpredictable in females? Interestingly enough, according to the marine bio website,  "The ocean's surface rises and falls predictably due to changes in gravitational forces originating from the Moon and the Sun." Clearly even science thinks tides are predictable, Michael.
   While it is true that women's hormones are regulated by their cycles, I want to be perfectly clear. HAVING HORMONES DOES NOT MAKE WOMEN CRAZY.  Sometimes it makes them emotional. Sometimes it has no effect. And Michael makes no mention of men's hormones causing emotional upheavals. Google "male periods". Oh, and it is possible for a man to be calm and balanced while his wife is having a difficult time. Just saying.
   It takes degrees in chemistry and several of the soft sciences to even claim to understand the ladies during that time, and anybody that claims to understand them is lying.
   Um...no, not really, Michael. Though, to be fair, he doesn't really have a good grasp on understanding women during the other 3 weeks of the month. I could sum up understanding women (or even people in general), regardless of what time of the month it is. "People want to be respected, loved, be treated like they matter and taken seriously." The end. That's just a basic list, but it seems to me I'm understanding people just fine. If I'm not, do tell me so.  Also, wouldn't that degree need to be in Biology? Or possibly BioChemistry?
   Early in our marriage it came to my attention that when my wife pitched a hissy fit, it was during her monthly cycle. So, being the smart fellow I am, I simply used a little logic and explained to her that she was not really upset at me; it was just her hormones.
   I can see it now. "Deb, you're not mad that I didn't call before bringing home 7 hungry men, and you only had 1 pot of soup. You're mad because you're having your period. You're hormonal and off balance. Nothing I did is to blame. Now stop acting like a maniac and give me my dinner!"
   It is considered bad manners by anybody to assume that just because a woman is having an emotional (any kind of emotion) outburst, that she is surfing the crimson tide. It is perfectly normal and OK for people in general to feel and express a wide range of emotions, at any time.
   That is when women really became a mystery to me. I thought she would be relieved to hear that I was not as bad as she was making me out to be, it was really just an uncontrollable physical fault in the female as a result of the fall-part of the curse, you know-punishment on the man for listening to his wife in the first place.
   O.o I just can't...oh my.
   What I'm getting from this is: 1) Adam listened to Eve about the fruit (silly Adam, letting his wife have a voice). 2) The Fall came and women were cursed. 3) Part of that curse was the physical "fault" of menstruation. 4) Women act crazy during this fault-time. 5) Michael isn't a bad guy, his wife is just hormonal.
   Honestly, it sounds like Michael needs a good course of sex-ed. In case anyone is curious, menstruation isn't a curse (though it sometimes feels like it!). It's a natural, biological process. You can find explanations online, or even in books. But please don't listen to Michael's take on it.
   Wow, she would go ballistic, denying that it had anything to do with her hormones. But it was clear to me, once a month she had a discharge and I was it.
   Of course she denied it, Michael! You invalidated her feelings and told her it was just her hormones talking! Why wouldn't she go ballistic??  And WTF is that discharge bit? I feel squicky just thinking about it.
   In my smooth logic I called her attention to the fact that the last three explosions were exactly one month apart, on about the third day of her cycle. She just got more irate, telling me all my faults.
   Alright. Clearly Michael needs to be counseled on how to handle big emotions. Number 1: Do not trivialize the person's feelings. This goes for dealing with small children, too. Acknowledge that other people can have emotions and concerns. Empathize with them and validate their feelings.
   Is anyone else noticing the same tone in this section as in the honeymoon section? Kind of a "Well, I don't know why she's upset. I'm the good guy. Look, I'm using logic!" It seems like even 50 years later, he can't acknowledge he might have handled something the wrong way. Can this really get any worse?
  It was then that I learned a woman has a lot better memory than a man. They can remember the smallest things, like when you failed to clean up after yourself 22 days ago, or when you said you were going to fix the door 19 days ago and never got around to it, or how insensitive your remark at church was two weeks ago. None of this stuff had bothered her until now, so it was clear that the devil took away her patience and left her with a critical spirit.
   Yup. It got worse. I had a thought. Maybe during her period was the only time Debi really felt like she could voice her anger/frustrations.  I mean, if that was the only time where I felt safe enough to say what made me mad during the month, you bet I would save stamps and cash them in!  How sad.
   But seriously, Michael. Bringing in the devil? You're really going to go there? Growing up with Mormon culture, boys weren't taught much (outside of school) about women's cycles. But they knew enough not to assume the devil was in charge! I mean, how old-fashioned is that thinking? Not to mention how damaging it is to women!
   I eventually learned my lesson: keep her pregnant and hang in there until she goes through menopause.
   Oh my stars. This is his solution? Keep her knocked up? I am bashing my head against the book right now, because it is just so absurd.  
   I would like to point out a few things. 1) The Pearls have 5 kids. That means 45 months of pregnancy, or 4.75 years. Not really a lot of "keeping her pregnant", considering women on average have periods from 13-54. 2) He doesn't even mention pregnancy hormones. I have only been pregnant once, for 11 weeks, but there were PLENTY of hormones in that time. And not always the rosy-glow inducing kind. 3)Please, Michael, tell us how to "hang in there" until menopause. Please.
   Although I have heard menopause makes some women crazier than ever. But not mine; it only turned her into a sweat machine. Every time I get near her, she breaks out into a sweat, but at least I know my presence makes her hot!
   Wow. Michael just takes almost every stereotype about women and runs with them, calling them doctrine, doesn't he? Can you imagine men reading this book? Men who have very little info about sex, especially the opposite sex. Then they read this book (It's from the Pearl's, it's got to be true!), and think their wives are taken over by the devil 1 week a month, and that their women are crazy, and will get crazier in 30 years? Gack.
   At any rate, you younger men can keep a calender of your wife's cycles and about two days before she starts, take her out to eat, fix something around the house, and apologize for anything you can think of.
   While a date is nice, a date to preemptively prepare for a "red-X" day (if you will), sounds terrible. And the fixing something and apologizing sounds fake and forced. When will Michael advise genuine concern or empathy?
   If my mature wisdom hasn't shed much light on this great mystery of the female, understand this: Females can only stand a certain amount of calm waters before they create a storm of their own. It would seem a Steady Man's greatest error is providing days and days of calm water.
   Holy cow. He just keeps going, doesn't he? Not only has he stepped in it, (metaphorically speaking), he dug a hole, filled it with manure and went swimming! And then tries to convince people he is covered in gold.
   When you take a week to make a simple decision without ever so much as talking about what's going on in your mind, you will drive your lady crazy. The simple fact that a Steady Man doesn't talk about the weird guy at church and doesn't even seem to be disturbed that his crazy brother is leaving his wife, is mind-boggling to a Stead Man's wife. To her you often appear to have more in common with a rock, than with a live human.
   It is true, at least in my life, that when my husband doesn't tell me what's going on in his head, it drives me batty. And it's not that I want him to gossip (which is what it sounds like Michael is insinuating). I just want him to include me in his thought process, maybe ask my opinion or something. I want him to LET ME IN. Does Michael council this?  Nope. He just sticks to his guns that men and women are separate things.

   I was going to continue, the next session is called "Drama, Drama, Drama", but I'm too irritated to go on. I just can't believe that such toxic material like this is packaged as truth. I'm seriously speechless at how evil these thought processes are. 
   

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Abusive God?

Trigger warnings for abusive behaviour.

I had a crazy thought last night. I was processing my post about my mother's God. One of the things I came to realize is that God is kind of a jerk. Which made me think about his wife. Mormon doctrine kind of slithers away from Heavenly Mother, although she exists. Pretty much the only thing I was told about her is that God loves her so much, he protects her, because people will use her name in vain and stuff.
   That got me thinking. And I know this post will tick some people off, but I think it's an interesting study. I wonder if Heavenly Mother is in an abusive relationship. Is God an abuser? I've found a few sites that list the signs of an abusive relationship that I'd like to discuss.  My sources are helpguide and labmf, 2 sites dedicated to helping people understand tough situations, including abuse.
   This is just a thought exercise. Most of my points are made using logic, scriptures, and cultural constructs.

Signs of Abuse

Extreme Jealousy
   Let's take God's own word on this. Exodus 20:5 "Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me."
   It seems that extreme jealousy would cover being angry and giving retribution for FOUR generations after the sinner. And the sin is hating God, and bowing down before idols. My Mormon background said that "other idols" was anything that you put above God: money, time, job, your boat, addictions. So this is a being that, for the sin of thinking anything is more important than him, will curse up to 4 generations of your children.  Yup. Definitely extreme.
 
Controlling Behaviour
   LAMF says this: One partner completely rules the relationship and makes the decisions. This includes “checking up” on the victim, timing a victim when they leave the house, checking the odometer on the car, questioning the victim about where they go. They may also check the victim’s cell phone for call history, their email or website history. The abuser may control the finances and tries to tell the victim how to dress, who to talk to, and where to go.
One word: Omniscience. If God is all-knowing as I was taught, he wouldn't have to check up on her, because he already knows.

Quick Involvement
This one is tricky. Quick involvement means "love at first sight" or "You're the only one I could ever talk to." So perhaps no on this one. I would be interested to hear the God and Mrs. God's first date story, though!

Unrealistic Expectations
I'm imagining how the Church views women. Prophets and Apostles (who claim to be God's mouthpiece) have said on numerous occasions that women are nurturing, soft, caring, and moral. It is generally understood that for Mormon women, being a housewife is the ideal. Clearly, not all women will get married. Yet they are still expected to "prepare" for marriage and domestic duties. There is plenty of research on the amount of stress all the expectations of Mormon women cause.
   An often quoted scripture is "Be ye therefore perfect, even as I am perfect." Extrapolating that to the Heavenly Marriage, it would seem that God, also, expects perfection from His wife. This part gets a little sticky, because the fact that she's in the Celestial Kingdom makes her perfect. So I'm not sure where I stand on this point.
   Romans 3:23 "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

Isolation
This was where I first jumped on the thought train that started this post. We know next to nothing about Her, except that She's there. In fact, it is actively discouraged, often, to go searching for our Heavenly Mother. Because "God loves Her" and "wants to protect Her".  But we aren't taught to pray to Her, we don't ask for blessings in Her name...we don't even know Her name, actually. If not knowing the name of the mother of our spirits isn't isolation, then I don't know what is.

Blames Others for Their Problems or Feelings
There are numerous instances in the Old Testament when God gets mad at people. (People HE created, knowing past, present, and future) Adam and Eve ate the fruit, and the punishment was death and pain. People during Noah's time were wicked, and God killed most of them off. The Israelites were idolatrous, and God caused them to wander in the wilderness for 40 years.  Job 42:7 "And it was so, that after the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite "My wrath is kindled against thee, and against they two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath."
   The trend I'm seeing in all of this is God-who is our "loving father"-doesn't act very loving. I'm reading an interesting parenting book right now (thanks, Angela), called Peaceful Parents, Happy Kids. The main premise of the book is: in order to deal effectively with your children, you need to be in control of your emotions. According to this book, punishment isn't effective, because it only teaches that pain (any kind) is the only deterrent to bad behaviour.  And in the example above, God is blaming his anger on Eliphaz & Co.  God never accepts responsibility for his behaviour. Yes, sometimes he apologises (rainbow for Noah), but he never says "I was mad because it hurt my feelings when you humans did XYZ." It's always "You sinned and I will bestow my anger upon you."

Hypersensitivity
Jonah and the whale. God told Jonah to go to Nineveh. Jonah ran away, instead of doing what God wanted. Instead of saying "Oh, you're a person with free will. I'll find someone else.", Jonah gets swallowed by a whale, until he was ready to do God's bidding.
There are a lot of instances in the Bible where someone does something God doesn't like, and God punishes him in some way. Sodom and Gomorrah. For the "sin" of being gay, God takes out a few cities, and countless people.
There are lots of examples. In fact, here is a fun page about all of the people God has "helped" into the afterlife for various sins.

Cruelty to Animals or Children
See the above list. The story that comes to mind first is the story in 2 Kings. A group of kids (or teenagers, depending on the interpretation) made fun of the prophet Elisha for being bald. Their punishment? God sent 2 she-bears to eat them.
Noah's flood. All the people (children included), but Noah and his family, and all the animals, except 2 of every kind were destroyed. God killed animals because the people were wicked. That seems pretty cruel.

"Playful" Use of Force in Sex
I'm not even going to speculate here. Too many triggers.

Verbal Abuse
Helpguide asks these questions: Does your partner humiliate or yell at you? Criticize you or put you down? Ignore or put down your opinions or accomplishments? The abuser tells their victims they are stupid, or useless with out them.
   I was taught that I was nothing without God. Every good thing comes from Him, and every bad thing is either a consequence of something "bad" I did (for which I should repent), or as a "test" of my faith.  I have often felt humiliated because of my sins.
   While this is not flat-out verbal abuse, there was the understanding that people are nothing. Here is a talk from 2011 General Conference about that. Interestingly enough, the talk is called "You Matter to Him". The word "nothing" is used 6 times. Or this scripture from the Book of Mormon. Mosiah 4:11
    11 And again I say unto you as I have said before, that as ye have come to the knowledge of the glory of God, or if ye have known of his goodness and have atasted of his love, and have received abremission of your sins, which causeth such exceedingly great joy in your souls, even so I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own cnothingness, and his dgoodness and long-suffering towards you, unworthy creatures, and humble yourselves even in the depths of ehumilityfcalling on the name of the Lord daily, and standing gsteadfastly in the faith of that which is to come, which was spoken by the mouth of the angel.

Rigid Sex Roles
The Family: A Proclamation to the World. This is the way the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints views the family. View the whole thing here. While General Authorities hem and haw if this is actually canonized doctrine, it is the basis of a lot of Church declarations.

Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde
The difference between the smiting God of the Old Testament, and the hippie God of the New. That's all I feel I need to say.

Past Battering
I'm not sure how well this applies, or how I can say one way or another.

Threats of Violence
Mark 16:16. "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."       The Bible says many times that unbelief will be punished. It's also full of a lot of examples of punishments. These are often used as cautionary tales when taught today.
Revelations 21:8 "But the fearful and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
   Basically do  what God says-when he says it-or get burnt.

Breaking or Striking Objects
Genesis 11 tells us the story of the Tower of Babel. The people had one language, and wanted to build a tower to get to heaven. God felt that their tower would turn them away from Him, instead of drawing people to Him. So He divided the languages, and scattered the people. Some traditions say this is when God divided the continents.  Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed.
   So God is clearly not above breaking cities, or dividing land masses in a temper. There are also numerous references to Him striking people dead, dumb, and blind.

   What we can see is that God says He loves people, His children. Yet he is OK with killing them, maiming them, making sure they know they are nothing, humiliating, expecting perfection, blaming them for His emotions, isolating His wife from everyone, and punishing those who dare to put something above Him. He insists (via Mormon prophets and other Fundamentalists sects) on rigid gender roles. He threatens His followers with damnation and death for disobeying.  He admits to being petty, jealous, and wanting revenge.
   I've learned a lot about abusive relationships in my life. From an abusive family, to an abusive partner. Now we are learning signs of abuse in foster kids. And I have to say, if there was a man on earth who treated his family and others around him like God treats those He claims to "love", I guarantee Child Protective Services would be at his door, and his wife and kids would be taken into protective custody.
   Am I saying God is an abuser? Well, I'm not exactly sure. If Christian theology is to be believed, God is all-powerful and all-knowing. He has no one to answer to, and he has ultimate authority. We've all heard the phrase "absolute power corrupts absolutely". We've also all heard examples of God's wrath incurred upon those who displease him, in a seeming myriad of ways.
   What that adds up to is a being with absolute power that answers to no one.  Which is, frankly, a being I want to avoid.
 

Friday, October 25, 2013

CTNAHM-Mr. Steady Part 1 (Michael Doesn't Understand Jesus)

p 89-98

We just finished up the section on Mr. Visionary. Today we get to start learning about Mr. Steady. I'm curious about this chapter, because Michael claims he is Visionary and Command, so it will be interesting to see his take on men that aren't like him.
Text is in purple

Visionary, Steady, Command
God the Son is as steady as an eternal rock, caring, providing, and faithful in his ministry as a priest. He created many men in his priestly image. They are the backbone of society, the middle ground that keeps the world moving on a steady course. They are not given to extremes. We are calling them STEADY MEN. Everyone feels comfortable with Mr. Steady. Down South, he is called a "good ole' boy". Up North, they call him a taxpayer-or, more accurately, hardhat worker, farmer, repairman, maintenance man, and the endless line of white collar workers filling the cubicles.
   I've lived up north (New England, even), and I've never heard anybody called a "hardhat worker". And the only people who refer to other people as "taxpayers" are politicians. I wonder sometimes where Michael gets his material and sources.
   The Steady man doesn't jump up and change occupations in midlife, and he is not consumed with revolutionary ideas. He is constant and reliable, minding his own business, not taking chances with his money. He is the one who begins accumulating savings and maintains a growing account all of his life, or for forty years works at the same place, anticipating his retirement and medical benefits. He avoids controversy. He is not a tornado or a hurricane like the Visionary; he is a constant tide, predictable. And like the tide, he is in the majority. He will build the factory and manage the assembly line that utilizes the robot Mr. Visionary designed  and in the end he will know more about it than the guy who designed it, making practical suggestions that will improve the next generation of robots.
   I have no idea what Bible Michael reads from, but mine seems to contradict his version of Steady Jesus.  Jesus stopped being a carpenter midlife to preach, teach, and heal.  For his time, Jesus was full of revolutionary ideas. In fact, here is a great article about Jesus being a revolutionary. Some of his revolutionary ideas: caring for the poor and the widows, loving neighbours (which means love everyone, regardless of race or religion), taking a whip to the sellers in the temple, claiming he was the Son of God, healing on the Sabbath. And those are just what I can think of off the top of my head. In fact, I would venture that the reason Jesus and Christianity have been around for 2000 or so years is because he was such a whirlwind of different ideas. One could argue the most famous thing about him was his death. He was killed BECAUSE of his revolutionary ideas. If he were the Steady Man Michael claims, he probably would have lived a long life working as a carpenter in a small village.
   The Steady Man does not organise political movements. He does not make speeches at town hall meetings. He will not tackle a bank robber or attempt to rescue hostages unless led by a Command Man. He would never lead a revolution against government or the church. He will quietly ignore hypocrisy in others. He will selflessly fight the wars that Mr. Visionary starts and Mr. Command leads. He builds the skyscrapers and the interstate highways, grows the wheat and corn, attends church, and peacefully raises his family. He is the one who buys the row house and lives at the same address for the rest of his life. His family may think he is an old fogy and boring, but he is greatly loved.
   Here we see again, Michael has no understanding of who the Bible says Jesus was. The Roman government wanted him dead because of his political statements. He may not have made a speech at a town hall, but Jesus did speak to 5000 on a hill. He attacked those who were profaning the temple by selling animals there. Christians maintain that Jesus "rescued" all of mankind by his sacrifice.  I suppose Michael would argue that he was led by God the Command Man, but still...Oh. Here's my favourite line.  "He would never lead a revolution against the church."  Really, Michael? And you call yourself a Christian? Where does he think Christians come from?
   And let's see what Jesus himself says about hypocrisy. Luke 6:41 "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own?" Or Matthew 23:13 "Woe unto you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice the son of hell as you are." Jesus is often called a "leader of men." He commanded others to quit their jobs and follow him, and they did.
   I'm having a hard time with this section, because it seems like Michael is flat out ignoring who Jesus was. Which I find really odd, because he claims to have studied the Bible for the last 60 or so years.
   Young women are generally not excited by the Steady Man, but as they grow older they come to appreciate the peace and safety he provides.  For that reason the Steady Man is the one most likely to remain married to the same woman. Divorcees usually leave a radical Visionary or an overbearing Command Man looking for a Mr. Steady, but he is rarely available except where a foolish woman seeking excitement leaves him, looking for more romance. This man is content with the wife of his youth. But it is often the case that the wife of his youth is not so content with her Steady Man. She desires to see more spontaneity or spirituality or aggression, so she grows critical.
   It really seems that Michael is blaming divorce on the woman. Either she leaves her radical Visionary, or she hightails it away from her overbearing Command Man, or wants more from her marriage than a Steady guy. It's like he's saying the only reason people divorce is because the wife is unhappy. Not because people married young, and inexperienced, and found out they were incompatible. Not because of failure to communicate, or have needs met. Nope. Just those darn ungrateful womenz wanting what they don't have.
   Though I will say, as someone married to a partial Mr. Steady, sometimes I do get grumpy and want more spontaneity or romance. The solution, though, is for me to say "Hey, honey? It really means a lot to me when you give me notes, or bring  me presents, or take me on a date. I need to feel like I am important and that you love me."  And he usually says "Oh, I'm sorry. It has been awhile since I've done something like that, huh?"  Once again, Michael refuses to acknowledge that communication can solve problems.
   A Steady Man's progress will be marked by slow, steady growth. If a Steady Man is poor, he either accepts his poverty and learns to serve others with what he has, or he faints with hopelessness and lives without vision; whereas a Visionary may wildly succeed and then lose everything on a venture, only to get up and fight another round. Or the Visionary grows bitter and blames others for his failures, but the Steady Man keeps his own council and finds little occasion to blame others.
   When we were first married, we had a situation like this. He had a job where he wasn't making much money. I was in school at the time, and couldn't work and balance my class load. We were really poor. Something needed to change, because I needed insurance. (The $$$ for mental illness adds up!) So we talked over our situation, and came up with a solution: he would get a few certifications, and start looking for a better job.  I suppose if I were the type of wife PearlWorld encourages, I would have sat on my hands and not said a word.  But because I spoke up, and helped him, we are in a better situation now.  Not everything has to be so black and white; either Mr. Steady does nothing, or gets hopeless.  And it is perfectly fine for a wife to talk about her concerns!
   Down South, a good number of the Steady Men are named Bubba and everybody likes them. They will stop work and talk with you for an hour, never seeming rushed or anxious. If you interrupt a Visionary at work, you will have to talk to his back side. He has "important things to do". If you interrupt a Command Man, he will put you to work after explaining exactly how the job is to be done.
   Now I am really impressed with the foresight of all those Bubba's parents! How did they know right when he was born that he would be a Steady Man? According to the 2000 census, fewer than 1535 people were legally named Bubba. Yes, Bubba could be a nickname, but it does seem that Michael is over-inflating here. And why this point, I wonder? Does he think it's relevant or important to tell us that Bubba is Steady? I also don't understand how a man that is OK with working the same job for 40 years is OK with stopping work for an hour, just to chat. I would think, from what Michael had written in the previous chapter, Mr. Visionary would be more inclined to talk: about his upcoming projects, his ideas on politics, his latest invention.
   I'm really starting to wonder if Michael re-reads what he writes and checks for contradictions or logical fallacies. It often seems like he just writes whatever's in his head, regardless of what he said 14 pages ago.

   I'm super excited about the next post. Because Michael spends 4 long paragraphs talking about a woman's period, without ever using the word "period". I promise it will  be great fun. And by that, I can assure you that you will want to facepalm.
 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

My Mother's God

Something happened about a month ago, that I've just now taken the time to process, and think about.  This was about 2 weeks after I was "outed" as being done with the Mormon church.
   About a week before Stef's death, I had a huge breakdown. I went from furiously angry to bawling hysterically in literally 5 minutes. My husband and I are used to my bipolar-swings, but this was crazily intense.  (I later found out it was withdrawal from my meds, I had mixed up the bottles of Seroquel and Loritab from my tooth being pulled).
   During my emotional upheaval, my mom texted and asked how I was doing. She hadn't heard from me in about 3 days, and was concerned. I told her I was having a terrible, horrible day and everything seemed overwhelming and hopeless.
 My mother's response? "You should pray. God wants to bless you, but you need to let him in."
  It really bugged me at the time, and now I have figured out why.

   If that is the God my mother believes in, I don't like him. For a lot of reasons.

First, why does an omniscient being need me to ask for things he should know that I need? My husband and I recently took charge of our first long-term foster kids. We've had them 3 days now. This is my first real experience at being a parent, and I already seeing how I differ from my mom's God. I don't withhold things they need, waiting for them to ask.  For example, the kids didn't have a brush. I noticed that while they were unpacking. Instead of letting them go days without brushing their hair, or making fun of them for being uncombed, I gave them a brush. They didn't have to ask for it, because I saw their need and made it better, before they realised it was a problem.
   In my head, that's one of the points of parenting-to help kids over bridges before they catch on that they have to cross the waters. Especially foster kids, who come into every placement with fear, anger, and baggage.

Second, why is it up to me to "let him in" first, if he's waiting to bless me? Again, I have a parenting reference. We were taught in PS-MAPP (required fostering class) that all kids in the system have experienced trauma and may be slow to warm up. Most -if not all- kids will have behaviours. So we knew that going in, that there would be an adjustment time. But even when the kids were being rather annoying, I never waited for them to behave how I thought they should before I was as kind and as patient as I could be. My...I guess it's affection, because it's really too soon to call it love...isn't conditional. I don't think in the back of my head "If you don't warm up to me, I won't warm up to you." I know that these kids are trying their best, but they have a lot of complicated emotions, and don't know how to deal with them. I don't expect them to conform to my way of thinking or acting before I care about them and want to help them.

Third, the opposite assumption is that God is cursing me because of my non-belief. If I were to take what my mom said at face value, then I have to assume that what she is saying is either God cursing me for my non-belief, or he is waiting for me to "suffer" enough to go back to him. Whichever way I want to believe, it's not a pretty idea.  What kind of a parent (especially one who is billed as loving) deliberately causes harm to their kids, just to get them to do what they want? I grew up in a neglectful/abusive environment, but my parents never hurt me as a form of manipulation. I was hurt because that was the only way they knew how to discipline/deal with heavy emotions. When I am feeling generous, I feel that I was abused out of ignorance.  But never, ever harmed as a precursor to my actions.
  Or, I could choose to feel that God is waiting for me to be humbled enough to crawl back. The sheer arrogance in this makes me sick.  Why would a parent-any parent-be OK with their child feeling pain? And not just being OK with it, but almost hoping for more, just so their child would return?  My sister had made some unhealthy choices in her life. Because of this, she was in constant pain. Emotional, mental, even physical a lot of the time. My mom never said "I hope she suffers enough that she comes back to church." The closest she ever got was "I will be here to support her when she reaches rock bottom. It makes me sad she doesn't believe in God, but I still love her."

Finally, if God wants to bless me, then why doesn't he just do it? I was taught God is infinite, omniscient, all-present, and loving. All of these are reasons why He was fully capable of blessing me, regardless of my belief in Him.  My first thought after I typed that was "Maybe he had been blessing me, and I didn't realise it."  Because that was something I was taught from a very young age. Everything good happens because of God. You found a dollar on the sidewalk? God knew finances were tight, or He knew that you wanted a cookie.  Your colicky baby sleeps through the night? God knew you needed sleep that day.
   So was I not recognizing his blessings? Was I being stubborn and purposely blind? Was I like the 9 lepers, who didn't even bother to say "thank you"?  I'm going to say NO. Because if God is omniscient and all-knowing as I was taught, then wouldn't it best serve His interests to bless me in ways that I could give him credit for? I mean, He wants credit for EVERYTHING, so why not make his blessings so obvious?  A package on my door saying "FROM GOD-Chin up", perhaps?
   Then I hear the voice in the back of my head "God works in mysterious ways".  I'm curious as to why he does that. The Old Testament God wasn't subtle or mysterious at all. BAM! Floods! BANG! Flying fiery serpents! BOOM! Tearing apart a tower and scrambling the languages!  Even the New Testament God was kind of rude. Darkness and earthquakes (for days, according to the Book of Mormon), as punishment for something you knew was going to happen in the first place?  Call me crazy, but that's baiting. Or trap setting. That's not good parenting, or even being a decent person. That is just vindictive.

It's weird how the more I am around kids, and parent, the more I realise how distasteful the God I grew up with is. I was taught that we should read the scriptures to find out about God. I'm honestly considering making up a list of parenting techniques that are counter-productive, that I've found through studying church literature.
   I'm having a hard time merging "God loves you" with "God lets you suffer so you're humble enough to come back to him."  Because the latter almost sounds abusive. And frankly, I've had enough abuse in my life to be OK with taking it from the one guy who should be on my side no matter what.
   Oh wait. That guy is my husband.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

CTNAHM-Mr. Visionary Part 8 (Move Away From Your Inlaws-They'll Contaminate Your Wife)

pp 87-88

Today we finish out the chapter on Visionary Men. Text is in purple.

Mr. Visionary's Five L's
   *Listen
   *Love
   *Laugh
   *Labor
   *Leave

Listen: Be willing to stop your dreams long enough to hear your wife's concerns. At her urging, seek counsel from another man of wisdom-a Steady Man, but not another Visionary.
   That's good advice. Men, listen to your wife! Though I disagree that one's wife has to urge her husband to seek counsel. I'm wondering where the self-regulation with these men are.  Another thing that is bugging me is that Mr. Visionary is supposed to seek counsel from another man. Why not just listen to the counsel of his wife? Oh wait. This is Michael's book. Silly me, thinking women could have real insight or something.
Love: Love her and appreciate her at home and publicly  She goes through a lot on your behalf, so she needs to know you truly recognize her sacrifice.
  I have nothing to say here, except for "AMEN". That and, maybe throw in a pinch of respect with that love.
Laugh: Look back at some of your crazy ideas, dreams, and the schemes you once thought were so wonderful. When your sweetie hears you making light of your own past ideas she will breathe a sigh of relief, knowing you are maturing in your thinking.
   While laughing at one's self is a good thing, on occasion, I don't think it would be that cathartic to a wife. My husband sometimes laughs at his past ideas (professional Magic the Gathering player, anyone?), and I laugh with him. But in the back of my head I'm wondering what and when his next grand idea will show up. Laughing about past ideas doesn't mean future ones will never be an issue. Hmmm. I just noticed something. Michael never encourages the wives to laugh along. I wonder why? Also, while maturing in thinking is nice, I think most wives would prefer some maturing of actions.
Labor: Labor in gainful employment even when you feel like dreaming. Life is not just fulfilling your dreams; it's about doing your duty. You must conquer your weakness and drive yourself to do as the breadwinner ought.
  This is an important point. If a man is the type of person to tinker in a workshop while the family goes hungry, he should get a job. Though Michael's phrasing makes gainful employment sound right up there with a root canal. "Drive yourself to do as the breadwinner ought."  It really sounds distasteful. If I were writing this book, I would have phrased it something like "An upside to getting a job is a new audience! Your co-workers have never heard your take on some ideas before. Just imagine being able to talk about your ideas with new people that may have insight to help your schemes succeed" Or something like that. Positive re-framing works better than drudgery-wording.Hey! Something I just realized. Apparently, in PearlWorld, Visionaries are either prophets/social changers, or lazy loungeabouts. Seriously. I find it odd how there is no middle ground, nor any thought that a man could be both.
Leave: Seriously consider moving far away from both sets of in-laws for the first year or two of your marriage, or at least until you and your honey are firmly made into one heart and mind. She doesn't need anyone pointing out how crazy your ideas are. She will see enough with her own eyes. If she doesn't have her parents or your parents reinforcing her fears, she will have a better chance of developing into a helpful mate.
   Holy cow. Nevermind that moving in with someone is stressful, and the wife might need some support. Just "get her away!". And apparently Michael has never heard of a telephone or internet access, because that's how most people communicate now, regardless of the distance. I thought it was telling that the reason in-laws are bad is that they reinforce her fears. Why not have a section on how to alleviate the fears of a wife? Or how about teaching people when they are young to be self-sufficient and how to find gainful employment, that way once they're married, they are already doing that? Oooh, and that last line is bugging me. "She will have a better chance of developing into a helpful mate." Once again, no talk about supporting one's wife (except financially). It's like in PearlWorld the only purpose of a wife is to serve the man. And that makes me sad.

Added Benefits
  Mr. Visionary is not boring. Few would read a blog written by a Mr. Steady. Some might read one written by Mr. Command, but when Mr. Visionary has a blog everyone enjoys reading it because it is certain to be bizarre. Use your strengths and gifts cautiously. It is easy to take notoriety as a statement of being right.
   There are not enough ways to say "pot calling the kettle black" to this paragraph. I'm half wondering if this is something Debi (or someone else) snuck in after Michael was done writing. If not, the sheer disconnect he has with previous things he's said, written, or done is staggering.

Wish List From the Ladies

  • I wish he didn't misinterpret my motives. I mean him goodwill, but he takes my suggestions as a personal insult.
  • I wish he would be more positive. His down-in-the-mouth attitude leaves the family defeated.
  • I wish he would be more consistent in what he tells me. He tells me it's okay to do something, then gets mad because something else was set aside when I did what he told me I could do.
  • I wish he would notice when I do something right. I try so hard to please him, but he forgets to ever say "thank you."
  • I wish he wouldn't stare at pretty girls. It makes me feel old and ugly.
  • I wish he was patient, more understanding, less critical.
  • I wish he could make me feel more valuable and important to him than his friends, relatives, and hobbies.
  • I wish he would spank the kids instead of yelling at them.
  • I wish we could do fun things together.
  • I wish he would stop being angry at the little things that happen.
  • I wish he would give me time to think before he thinks aloud for me. When he asks me for input, I would like for him to actually consider it.
Here's a radical thought, Michael: why didn't you make this list a bigger part of your book? Since these are wishes of Visionary wives, why not help men understand their needs? And really, this "wish list" is heartbreaking, for a number of reasons. First, because the wives are writing to the Pearl's (of all people) for understanding and validation. It's sad that they can't just tell their husband flat out "Please stop checking out other girls in front of me, it really hurts my feelings."  Second, because it sounds like all these wives want is to be respected, loved, appreciated, and treated like a person. Which is ironic, because Michael firmly insists that women only "need to be needed".  Finally, Michael ends the chapter here, with no explanation or reasons why men should do anything on this list.  
   I grew up Mormon, and twice a year there was a big, televised church meeting called General Conference. Usually at GC, the LDS higher ups (Prophets, Apostles, etc) would talk. Every now and then, a woman would speak. Most of the men I knew would either tune out her message, get a drink, or leave the room, because they felt that what the women said wouldn't apply to them. I imagine Fundagelicial men are kind of the same, so wouldn't putting a woman's wish list (at the end of the chapter, even), kind of a lost cause? Because if the women are following Debi's book, their husbands will look at this list and say "Well, that's not what my wife wants. She never complains to me!" Sheesh.

Well, we're finally done with Mr. Visionary. Mr. Steady is up next. I'm really curious to read what Michael says about him, because I don't think he considers himself one...

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Memorial

  So...my sister's memorial. It was...intense. Yeah. I think that's the best word. I had been vacillating about going up until the hour I had to leave. I decided to go. The whole trip down, I was a wreck. I kept going over scenarios in my head. What if dad showed up? What if I screwed up my song? What if the building burnt down? My poor husband kept telling me that it would be OK.
  We finally drove into my hometown. I was almost fetal in my seat, so anxious about what would happen. We stopped at my mom's house and picked up my grandma. She helped calm me down by saying she had already recruited my uncle to be a bouncer in case dad showed up. Then she said how she planned on punching him in the nose if he did. I love my grandma.
   The first part of the memorial was the service. A few people talked about Stef's life. My stepdad spoke, and he really ticked me off. Instead of talking about Stef, he talked about Mormonism, the Plan of Salvation, and scriptures. I was really offended by that. A, most people at the service were Mormon anyway. B, Stef hated Mormonism (and God) with a passion. C, Stef didn't like stepdad very much, and would have been angry that he spoke at all, let alone played the grieving dad. I could almost hear her say "Maybe he should have shown this more when I was alive." Or perhaps that was just my thought. Who knows?
   Then it was my turn. I sang. I had found the perfect song that summed up our relationship. Oddly enough, it was from My Little Pony. So I sang that, and couldn't keep it together. There was just so much emotion. From me, from the song, from the people at the service. It was really difficult.
   After the service was the memorial part. Mom had laid out quilts, scarves, pictures, and scrapbooks of Stef's life. A lot of people were there. People from high school, middle school even. People who were in Eating Disorder rehab with Stef. People who knew her in college. It was a bit surreal.
   Because of Stef's and my strained relationship, she either told others she was an only child, or that I hated her. Yet everyone there knew who I was and wanted to hug me and talk about Stef. And I really struggled with this, because my emotions about her are so, so conflicted.
   I chickened out. I left after about 20 minutes of the memorial. I just couldn't deal with all of the huge emotions. Especially not around other people. So I made my husband drive me home, while I processed things the whole 2 hour trip.
   I think I upset my mom. I know I upset some people that wanted to visit with me. But I don't care. I felt that it was more important for me to be OK then play small talk with people I barely knew. Heck, even with those I knew well. I was hurting on so many levels, and for so many reasons, that I didn't want to deal with anyone. And I'm OK with my decision.
   I'm glad I went. I'm glad I left early. I don't know if the memorial will be closure for me, or if that will just take time. I know it was good for my mom. Which was probably the whole point.
  Oh, and my dad never showed up.





Monday, October 21, 2013

CTNAHM-Mr Visionary Part 7 (Your Woman Should Be Glad to Put Up With Your Eccentric Ways)

pp 84-86

   We are nearing the close of the Visionary man chapter. I hope you've learned a lot. This section is Michael summing up the main points from the chapter.
   Text is in purple

Exhortation to Visionaries
 *Don't let your drive drive her away. Demonstrate a soundness of judgement by first meeting the needs of the family, and then when you share your daring vision with her she will have the emotional energy to dream with you. You will then be emotionally free to actually do something out of the ordinary. Talk to others about how great she is to stand with you. A wife will put up with a good deal of nonsense if her man makes her feel secure and appreciated.
  It's a good point. Meet the needs of your family first before spending energy on schemes and dreams. What I don't like is his instance is if you do X for the wife, she will do Y for you. A commentator in one of the earlier posts likened this to a vending machine. You put in coins and get out treats. That's the way Michael seems to think relationships work. Put in some compliments and back rubs, get out unlimited sex and no nagging.  In case you are curious, that's not how mature relationships should work. Yes, it's nice to do things for your spouse. But if the only reason you are doing them is to "encourage" your spouse to do nice things for you, it's a selfish endeavour.
 *If you are a Visionary, you probably enjoy talking about radical things. You often hash over ideas, plans, and dreams. There will be a thousand ideas for every project attempted, and most of those attempted will never be finished  and most of those that are completed will not matter to anyone but you. Solomon said, "I behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit. (Eccl 1:14)".
   I'm really not sure what I think about this exhortation.  On one hand, it seems to be solid advice. On the other, I feel like Michael's been saying the whole chapter "Visionaries are prophets, movers, and shakers! They are important to changing things!", and then in this snippet, he's saying "most of what you do won't matter, even if you -against all odds-finish something." I find those two ideas don't really mesh, and it's bugging me.
  *If we spend our lives dreaming and scheming but fail to impart meaning to the life of that one special woman, our existence is a failure  Over time, a wise Visionary will become more practical. The world needs the Visionary Man, for he is the one who seeks out hypocrisy and injustice and slays the dragons. He calls himself and those around him to a higher standard. He knows how to do nearly everything, or thinks he does, and is ready to advise others. In time, if he maintains his integrity, he will be quite accomplished in many things.
   Interesting. The first two exhortations, Michael used the term "you". As in "all you other Visionaries". And he painted those Visionaries in not a very pleasant light. Yet with this one, he used "we", and it's a very complimentary (and idealistic) picture. It's lines like these that make me feel like Michael has used these very ideas as ammunition when/if his wife says something like "when are you going to stop dreaming and do something??" I'm also wondering what Michael views as injustice, because he seems to have no qualms about beating children or telling men to pretend to listen to their wives.  Another thing. The previous exhortation, Michael said how Visionaries won't finish many things. Yet in this one, he says if a man "maintains his integrity" (with no explanation of how to do this), he will be accomplished in many things. That seems to be quite the disconnect.
  *You are a man with a mission. As a Visionary you will be subjective, thinking about feelings, moods, and spiritual insights. You will spend your life looking through a telescope or microscope, and will be stunned that what you see is of little interest to others. Looking through your microscope, little things that others cannot see will look large to you, and small things so far away that no one else considers them will be large in your perspective. You will not be understood, and you will be blamed for your lack of practicality. You are not balanced. No man is. It is knowing yourself that enables you to be patient with others and cautious with yourself.
   It's really weird to me how Michael seems to flip between loving and loathing the Visionary Man. Does anyone else notice this?
  * You need to find balance. Sometimes that is only achieved by bumping into hard realities. The Old Testament prophets of God must surely have been the Visionary types. Remember Elijah, Jeremiah  and Ezekiel and all of their trials? A wise man will know that he has a large hole in his thinking and needs his wife to help him keep his feet from rising too far above solid ground. He needs to have a very balanced, steady friend that is not afraid to laugh at his newest idea and then offer some commonsense suggestions. Every visionary needs to be open to the wisdom of a good friend, especially in regard to relationships, finances or health.
   It's true that sometimes the only way to learn is through the school of hard knocks. Though I'm unsure of whether saying all these OT prophets were visionaries because they had a lot of trials. Doesn't everyone have lots of hard times? And, hooray. We've now come back to the idea that wives are to manage the negative emotions/actions of their men. What's interesting, though, is while it's wives that should keep the Visionary's feet on the ground, Michael makes it seem like wives aren't the "friend" the Visionary needs to be open to. I can't imagine Michael saying it's OK for wives to laugh at the newest idea...
  *As a Visionary, you will be the initiator  the point man, trailblazer, and voice calling others to a mission. With your enthusiasm and faith you will start and keep the movement going until the Command Man gets there to organize the troops into practical action.
  Oh, you Visionaries! You get people all riled up for change, but don't know how to make things happen.  Good thing Command Men can lead people!
  *As a Visionary, you expect others to believe with the same fervency as you. When they don't understand or they resist your vision, you will be prone to push harder and may have a tendency to become bitter with blame. It is important that you keep a good attitude toward others and resist becoming unteachable. A bitter Visionary can be dangerous like a broken tool. You must keep your spirit free from criticism and judgement of others. Be content to pursue your vision alone if necessary. Respect the right of others to ignore you or believe differently.
   I'm finding it laughable that the same Michael Pearl that calls men "double-dog jerks" is handing out advice like "respect the rights of others to ignore you or believe differently". All you have to do is read anything from his website, or one of his books to realize that he has no tolerance for people that are different. Can you imagine his reaction if his wife started ignoring him, and then pointed out that his own book told her it's OK?
  *Teach your wife the passage found in 1 Peter 3:1-2 concerning chaste conversation. Remind her to be positive in her conversation and outlook so as not to stir your ire. Ask her to help you by not speaking negatively of others. Stop her in the middle of her conversation if she encourages your criticism of others. Remind her of your tendencies to brood. Ask her to pray with and for you. When she sees you are serious, she will change her conversation.
   So it's OK for men to talk bad about others and brood, but not women? And that line about reminding her to be positive? That sounds like victim-blaming to me. "I wouldn't have shouted and gotten mad if you would just be positive! Why can't you support me?" Ugh. It is a good idea, though, for people in general not to talk bad about others. It seldom fixes problems and makes people more sure that their stance is correct.
  *As a Visionary you will need your lady to be patient and filled with joy. A wise man will cultivate his wife so she stands ready with a smile and a cautioning word as is needed.
   A visionary needs a Stepford wife, apparently. Patient, positive, filled with joy, always smiling, and will toss out the occasional (well worded) caution. Again, with no steps how to help men "cultivate" this prized ideal of womanhood.
  *As a Visionary you can be a leader. Similar to a Command Man, if you are making sense your passion will draw others to your cause  but because of your tunnel vision, your leadership will have a more narrow focus. A wise man will know both his strengths and his weaknesses.
  One thing I am learning is that Michael has never heard of, or believes in, a self-fulfilled prophecy. If you tell people they are a certain way, and these are the characteristics of that way, then that is all they will fulfill. They will internalize and become this. You can see this in abused children. Kids who are told they are stupid will, regardless of IQ, perform to that standard. Similarly, telling men who believe that they are Visionary that they won't make good leaders, will make them not good leaders!  Though it's interesting that apparently Visionaries aren't good enough leaders of men, but are just fine as leaders of their family. Weird.
  *Of the three types of men you most naturally kindle in a woman what she most needs-to be needed. This is why your woman should be glad to put up with your eccentric ways. She will know her input in your life is priceless. You need a friend, a buddy, someone to listen to your newest idea and to appreciate your heart. You, of all the images, most need a help meet.
  Every time Michael repeats that drivel that women most need to be needed, I want to break something. I think that, if I had to choose only one things that women most needed, it would be respect. As in personal respect, like respect for the individual woman; her talents, her needs, her feelings, her weaknesses. Seeing a woman as a person, and wanting to help that person become better. That's what I, at least, need most. And I don't know about you, but I saw red when I got to the line about women should be glad to put up with eccentric ways. It sounds like Michael is saying "Because you can make her feel needed, she'll be happy to put up with whatever you throw her way." Which, even if you take the first half of that at face value, doesn't make the second half true! Especially when Michael spent a good part of this chapter on lazy Visionaries who lead their family to ruin.

   I still can't get over how this book is about men. Yes, it's called "Created to Need a Help Meet", and that should have tipped me off, but I'm still in shock. It's like me writing a book about Bipolar, and the main point is that my mood swings are natural and appropriate- and people deserve to cater to my whims, because I was blessed with a mental illness and they weren't.  Writing a marriage-help book that is really only about helping 1/2 of the people involved in that marriage seems...wrong and weird.

Anyway, we finish up the chapter next post. It includes a priceless list of things wives of Visionaries wish their husbands knew/would do. Trust me, you don't want to miss out!

Friday, October 18, 2013

CTNAHM-Mr. Visionary Part 6 (Look at Porn and Your Kids Will Die!)

pp 83-84

We are still talking about Visionaries. In fact, today we are talking about idle Visionaries. And King David! The weird thing is, Michael never says David was a Visionary. I keep thinking of what I know about his story, and I would categorize him more as a Command man, if I had to choose. Maybe a bit of steady thrown in, but not really a Visionary. But let's see where Michael goes with this.
Text is in purple.

Dawdling David
We receive hundreds of letters from wives whose husbands are living in sin due to their idleness. Otherwise good men are drawn away by their own lust when they "hang out" all day. Consider King David, a man after God's own heart, who "tarried" at home in a time when he should have been engaged in  a battle with his men.
   I didn't realise idleness was a sin. It can be an annoyance to those who expect you to do things, but as far as sin goes, I never ranked it very high. Also, somehow Michael is equating laziness with lust, without explaining how he got there. In the LDS church, we were often cautioned that browsing the Internet all day increases the chances of viewing porn. In a way, that's equating laziness with lust. But Michael never says that; he never qualifies or clarifies his ideas.
   2 Samuel 11:1-3
1) And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried still at Jerusalem.
2) And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon.
3) And David sent and enquired after the woman. And one said, Is this not Bathsheba, a daughter of the Eliam, the wife or Uriah the Hittie?

The text includes all the elements that lead to David's sin. Note the salient points:
  * It was the time of day when kings go forth to battle. David was neglecting his duty.
  * But this king tarried still at Jerusalem. He intended to go, but just hadn't left yet.
  *David is lying on his bed late in the day. Must have stayed up too late.
  *He rises up and idles himself on his roof patio-taking in the view.
  *He turns on his wide-screen and views a beautiful woman taking a bath. That cures his boredom.
  *He wants more of her so he enquires further.

   The emphasis was Michael's.  It seems like, once again, Michael reads the Bible, and picks up whatever he wants from it.  So I'm going to play this game, too.
   First off, the Bible says nowhere about David neglecting his duty. Maybe he was just finishing up some king stuff like signing petitions?
   Next, David is lying on his bed late in the day (He must have stayed up late!). Perhaps David took a nap. Because being a king can be stressful, I'm sure. He had a war on his hands, and he still had to deal with the at-home concerns. He could have had insomnia and slept when he could.
   David goes to the roof. It's his roof! Maybe he goes up there to clear his head. I think what Michael is forgetting is that this guy was. the. king. There was always stuff on his mind, always people around to ask him for/about things. Perhaps the roof in the evening was the only place he could get some alone time? Michael is making the whole thing sound like David deliberately procrastinated going to war to get some action at home. And I really don't think that was the case.
   He turns on the wide-screen. Not even getting into the technological fallacies here, can't Michael just flat out equate David watching Bathsheba to men watching porn? Because that's what he's doing here. And again, I would like to point out, the verses Michael quotes doesn't at all say David went about actively looking for a show. From the way it sounds, it just kind of happened, and he got interested.
   The rest of the story is recorded in 2 Samuel 11, and it is reenacted every day by men whose first error is the same as David's. At the time when men should be out to work, they tarry at home and, rising up from their beds, view beautiful women and enquire further, leading to terrible sin that reflects back upon their children. God presided over the death of David's child in judgment on his sin.
   Ah. Here we go. Now Michael is making the point. And it is a decent point. Idle people (not just men, but I suppose good Christian women don't enjoy porn) will usually find something to stop their boredom. Though Michael equating boredom with porn 100% of the time is just fear-mongering. I suppose that's why Mormon leaders say to keep the computer in the living room, where there will be lots of people in and out.
   Then Michael says something so callous, I can't get over it. "God presided over the death of David's child in judgement on his sin." I don't know if the Bible says that, or if that's a conclusion Bible scholars draw from this. But why would anyone want to believe in a God so petty, he kills children outright for their parents sins?? And the thing that's bugging me most right now is that Michael still never says outright that he's talking about porn! In the beginning of the book, he talked about being forthright and blunt. Where is that? If you're going to spoon-feed us the David story, at least take that same consideration with your points! Gaaaah. I'm so irritated right now.
   "Idleness is the devil's workshop." Not a Bible quote, but it is a Bible truth. David was not idle all the time, just at that moment in his life. But it was enough to cause him to spend the rest of his life repenting of that one sin, and the price was paid over and over again in blood and degradation upon his family.
   Many of the Psalms of David reflect his lifelong penitence
  Pslam 51: 1-3
1) Have mercy upon me, O God, according to they lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of they tender mercies, blot out my transgressions.
2) Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
3) For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.
   It's true that people can get into trouble (any kind, not just sexual) when they are bored or idle. But what I don't get is that Michael admits David wasn't idle all of the time. And idleness isn't always bad. There is nothing wrong with relaxing -however you like to relax-after you've completed a project, or had a stressful day. Also, how is one supposed to tell when idleness will lead to bad consequences? Hindsight may be 20/20, but it's a lot harder to figure out consequences while you're acting (or lazing, depending on the day).
   Porn does not always equal sin that will haunt your children. Porn does not mean that you will actively go out and find a hooker or another woman.  Some couples enjoy watching it together. I'm not saying porn can never be addictive. I'm just saying if you enjoy looking at the occasional picture, story, or movie, you're not a pervert or a sinner. And "God" won't strike your children dead if you do.
   Oh, and David's lamentations? They sound just like any other sinner for any other sin. In fact, I've said very similar things during repentance, as I'm sure most Christians have. And isn't that the point of repentance/forgiveness? That you don't have to spend the rest of your life washed in shame for an action? At least that's what we were taught as Mormons. You repent (truly), and God "remembers your sin no more".

Great Expectations
Idleness is not exclusive to Visionaries. Any man can become discouraged or lose his vision and idle himself at home. The Visionary is just more volatile and prone to mood swings. He has high hopes and expects great things of himself; and , let's face it, most Visionaries never do anything notable. The world does not provide that many opportunities  You must learn to enjoy the little things like repairing the lawn mower or improving on the outdoor grill.
   It's true. Everyone can be idle. But what Michael keeps missing is that sometimes it's OK. There is no prize for being constantly working on something (except possible burn out). Even God rested after creating the earth. I think it's interesting Michael doesn't emphasize the difference between occasional idleness (like, apparently, David's), and loafing about while your family lives in poverty. I think it's an important distinction, and it's too bad Michael misses it.
   I don't think there is anything wrong with having high hopes and expecting a lot from yourself. Maybe that's because I'm a Visionary? But it is good advice to learn to enjoy the little things. Not just for Visionaries.
   A Visionary, like all three types, must learn that life is not given to greatness; rather it is great when we live in fellowship with God and family and "rejoice in his labour; this is the gift of God (Eccl 5:19)". We can take ourselves too seriously, and miss the everyday goodness of wife and kids and trimming the hedges.
   I have a good bit of Visionary in me, and Deb can tell you that I have had many "brilliant" ideas over the years. In my imagination I have done notable things, but 99% of all my dreams are unfulfilled. I have said it a thousand times, "In another life I would...maybe in the Millennium I will...If I could live to be a thousand years old I would..." We must not allow our pride to condemn us for failing short of glory goals. It is a full day's work just keeping food on the table and paying for the place where the table sits. Reach for the stars in your spare time, but don't neglect that which is within reach-your dear help meet and the kids that so need an honorable daddy investing in them like they were each worth a billion dollars.

Your Motto:
Provide for your family first, then pursue your dreams as time and money allow.
   This is great advice! In fact, I would venture this is the best advice he's given so far. Love you wife, love your kids; do what you need to, but put your family first. He should just end the chapter here.
  But he doesn't. Next time, we get to talk about what Michael thinks every Visionary should know.

 
 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Next Week

First off, I want to thank everyone for the support I've felt this past month as I've tried to process my sister's death. I realize reading my personal drama wasn't what most of you signed up for, and I apologize for hijacking my blog's original purpose.
I promise next week, I'll get back to normal posts.
:)

So Much Guilt

  The closer I get to my sister's memorial, the more jumbled up my emotions are. I keep thinking over our strained relationship, and I realised something. One of the reasons for the distance, besides feeling resentful that I practically raised a child 13 months younger than I, is survivor's guilt. For the past 10 years, I feel guilty because I survived our childhood and she didn't.
   I'm not just talking about the suicide. It was evident in high school that Stef would turn into our alcoholic father. And I have always wondered, what made me so different?
    Was it my memories (as missing as they are)? Stef had a bike wreck when she was 8. Her helmet shattered; she had hit the ground so hard. She had brain damage, and doesn't remember much before 8. Even her memories after 8 are shaky. I've always felt like I've had to carry all of the memories of our childhood.  Yes, she remembered some things. I wonder if those things she remembered caused her issues. In her journals, she wrote that she remembers me calling her fat, and lazy.  In one of our last conversations, she asked where I heard that; because I had to hear it to call her that. And I couldn't remember the first time I was called that, or by whom. It's just always been a part of my internal monologue.
   More specifically, did I turn out differently than our dad because I remembered him?  My earliest memories are fear and hiding. I remember his drunk rages. I remember being 4 and waking up in the middle of the night. My mom worked nights, and my dad was supposed to be watching us. Instead, he left us alone and went to a bar, or a girlfriend's. I remember walking around the house, walking outside, walking on the porch, screaming "Daddy, where are you?"  To this day, I have insomnia, and a pathological fear of abandonment.
   Part of me wonders even if she didn't actively remember him, her subconscious did. Maybe that's why she was always running, always trying to cloud her head. With pain, with drugs, with food.
   Did I turn out differently because I was the eldest, and so I felt it was my job to take care of her? And then I wonder, did I screw her up? Raising her and resenting her at the same time? I helped her with her homework, I fixed her dinner, she told me about her day at school, and the boys she had a crush on. Mom bought us things, and spent time with us when she could, but up until 6th grade, I was her confidante.
   And then mom got remarried. To a man who said he never wanted kids. They got married in June, and sent us to stay with dad for a month. He didn't let us leave until August. He and my stepmom worked all day, so it was me, Stef, and a step-sister home alone. We were told to never leave the apartment. We did, on occasion, and got in trouble for it. He monitored our phone calls, read our mail, stole our journals. He took the phone cord with him when he left, so we couldn't call mom while he was out.
   This was the last time he would see Stef; this was her only memory of him; that horrible summer.  After that, things changed between us. I fought constantly with stepdad, fought a mental illness I wouldn't be diagnosed with until 15 years later.  I was the brighter star, burning hotter, taking all the energy. And she was the forgotten one. Not as talented, not as loud, not as noticed.
   I wonder if the person she turned into in high school was her way of getting noticed. I was Homecoming candidate, debate goddess, 1st chair in band, and star of the Science Olympiads. I got along with everybody. She wrote in her journals that she always felt she was in my shadow. I regret that now, but I can't change it.
  So I sit here today, feeling guilty because I escaped. Even though I'm plenty screwed up, I escaped. I have a stable life, stable marriage to a non-abusive man (literally a family first, on either side). I am diagnosed and medicated. I'm strong, and I'm assertive.
   But still I wonder, why me?  Why not both of us?  What could I have done differently?  The logical side of my head keeps telling me it's not my fault. I shouldn't have been responsible for raising a kid when I was just a kid myself. I did the best I could with what I knew, and what I knew wasn't healthy.  The logical side keeps saying that she made her own choices.
   And yet I sit here and wonder if it was my fault. I tell myself I should have been a better mother, shouldn't have tried to protect her from everything. Maybe then she could have been protected from herself.
   One of the last things she said to me was that she finally realised what I did for her. She wondered if the reason I couldn't get pregnant is because she had been my baby. And she was. And I resented her for it.  And now she's gone, and I feel...