Monday, November 2, 2015

Okay, so it's now "Book Quarter" for the rest of 2015....

Life doesn't always go as anticipated, so there are still more books to come.  :)

In the meanwhile, here's a thought from War and Peace:

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A Lighthearted New Review: Homeschool Sex Machine (Babes, Bible Quiz and the Clinton Years)
I can't even remember how I came across this little gem, but I identified quite a bit with it.  The previous two reviews here were of a heavy nature, and I thought I'd highlight one that was humorous.  I'm glad that Matthew Pierce wrote his book, if only to provide a little bit of levity and brevity to the genre of books about the religious or high demand group experiences of teens.

I was not homeschooled, and when I was the age of the author, we were just entering the Reagan years. I never coped well with socialization in public school, and after a trauma that my parents didn't even know about, I could barely stand middle school with my peers in budding puberty while "Love Boat" glamorized the one night stand.  Christian school seemed like a nice alternative. 

The author describes what many of my homeschooling mom friends do now, especially if they have kids that are interested in sports or hit subjects that they can't teach well themselves at home:  They enroll their kids in a Christian school part-time for those kinds of benefits.  So I thoroughly enjoyed those familiar aspects of Homeschool Sex Machine.

The book reads very well and quickly, exploring the drama of a teenager and the socialization that goes along with it — at least as I remember it for myself.   Like Zack Bonnie's book, it gives a little glimpse into the mind of a teenage boy — a world that I understand a bit better before having read both books.  I now have a standard of comparison to add to Salinger, too.  ;)

I don't want to ruin all the fun, but as kids often do, at my school we did have some people with silly names.  That came back to my mind as I read.  I laughed, too and won't give the joke away.  Instead, I'll tell you about just one of the silly named guy I remember from that era.  Young singles used to come in to our school to volunteer, and we had a fellow named "Cliff Suave" who would show up from time to time.  What a riot.  There was a rumor that he changed his surname because he was born a "Jumper."  I still don't know if it's true or not, but I recalled the hysterical laughter about it — even if it wasn't true.  "Suave" didn't fit him, but "Jumper" did, and it was funnier.  :)  The modest price of the book was worth the reference to Mr. _____.  You'll have to read the book to learn more.

The culture and the Christianese reminded me of an illustration about our habits that I learned long after I left Christian school.  A woman bakes a ham and because her mother always cut the end off of the ham before she put it into the oven, her grown daughter did the same thing.  That was her experience about how to make a ham.  When questioned about it as an adult, the daughter couldn't answer why it was important to cut the ham in that way.  When she asks her mother why she "taught" her to prepare baked ham by cutting off the end, the mother responds by saying, "I did that because the ham didn't fit into my roaster, so I had to cut it off."  Pierce's book set me thinking about why my own culture and his similar culture did some of the similar things that he describes — all with a flare of sarcasm which I loved.

The sex machine element is innocent (by most secular and many Christian standards), but it ends with a co-ed mud bath which also reminded me of the muddy, swampy terrain that surrounded my own alma mater.

It was a delightful little read, and I highly recommend it for those who might wish to revisit their childhood memories of being homeschooled or of attending a Christian school.

 I've paid much more money to see comedy films that were not a tenth as funny Matthew Pierce in Homeschool Sex Machine was for me!  It's only $2.99 on Kindle.  I hope that you take time to enjoy it.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Growing up as a Christian (Bible-based) "Cult Child": A Memoir by Vennie Kocsis

     When I met Vennie last year, she wore the blue ombre locks shown in the center picture displayed here, and I like the visual progression that these images display.  The Second Generation Adult (SGA) — a now-adult who grow up in a high demand group doesn't have the opportunity and often lacks the skills to choose their own path.  They (we!) are always adapting and growing to make up for the things that even the first generation members who join a group don't often consider.   ~ (CindyK)

Cult Child is available in paperback and Kindle, 
and you can ask for it at your local bookstore!

Also, don't miss her talk radio debut on Sunday, September 27th!

~ ~ ~ 

I Survived Sam Fife’s Move of God Cult
By Vennie Kocsis

I was around two years old when my mother was recruited into The Move of God, which is also sometimes known as The Move.  The Move was founded by a former Baptist preacher in the 1960's in Florida. As a minister, Sam Fife was a charismatic leader.  He emerged in a time when the United States was in conflict with boiling racial tension and an unpopular Vietnam War going on.  Sam offered his followers the idea of safety and a place where families could become a community away from the dissension of secular America and its impending war with the Communists.  

Through the 60’s and 70’s, Sam Fife began to gather his followers to go into remote areas in places like Alaska, Massachusetts, Mississippi, California, Canada and South America.   Purchasing a large amount of land and accompanying array of military equipment such as Quonset huts, military cots, bedding and ham radios, his followers built an empire utilizing systems of tithing and having members give all assets over to the communes.   By 1974, Sam Fife’s Move of God and his network of recruiters had rounded up to 40,000 followers from many differing walks of life.  Sam Fife’s messages are still upheld and revered by many associated non-profit religious institutions such as Bowens Mill Christian Center in Georgia, Living Word Ministry and Whitestone Farms in Delta Junction, Alaska. 

My siblings, seven and nine at the time, have quite a clear memory of my mother’s indoctrination into the Move by a woman named Emily Nerbonne, in the early 1970’s.  Emily’s husband, Leo, was my father’s naval friend.  As my father was working on special projects at the military base near San Diego, California, Emily was diligently instructing my mother, who was busy trying to raise three children alone, on more proper and Biblical ways of handling children. Emily introduced physical discipline into my family.  My siblings had never been spanked or hit before Emily began to indoctrinate my mother’s mind with religious based discipline. 

The more my father had to be gone, the more the recruiters whispered in my mother’s ears, creating doubts, such as suggesting to her that my father was actually not working, but probably spending time with other women.  My mother became so filled with confusion and questions in regards to her own marriage that soon she was giving my father the ultimatum of either joining The Move of God or getting a divorce.  My father refused to join.  What ensued was a very long and brutal divorce through which my mother depleted my father’s financial ability to continue fighting her in court for custody or even visitation of my siblings and me.  The Move of God cult funded all of my mother’s court costs, including flying in my uncle all the way from the South, to be a witness against my father.  My father never stood a chance to gain custody of us. It felt that in the blink of an eye, my mother, funded by The Move, had packed our lives into a U-Haul headed to Ware, MA.   We would not have a relationship with our father until we all became adults.  My mother convinced us throughout our young lives that our father did not want us and was an evil man.

The compound at Ware was classified as a Deliverance Farm.  Sam Fife taught that all negative behaviors, including pedophilia, were a product of possession by demons.  Sam’s doctrine included the belief that medical conditions, such as seizures, were the body being possessed by demons.   We were specifically sent to this farm because my mother was overweight, my older brother was considered to have behavioral problems, and I was loud.  I was loud and always have been loud because I have congenital deafness in my right ear.  My sister was very introverted, stayed quiet and often tried to protect me as best she could, usually without any success as she would end up also being punished.
Read the poem accompaniment to Vennie's artwork. 

I spent my years from 1973-1977 at Ware, until I turned seven.  Upon arrival at Ware, our family was split up and put into differing classification units. I was put with other children my age. Everything from our former life was sorted through, and anything that could be used for the commune was put into a community clothing bank.  The Ministry taught that this process served to rid us of our life before the cult, erasing all memories we might have of it.  It would allow our minds to be emptied of the poisonous influence of the secular world outside and re-filled with Sam Fife’s doctrines of purification for God. Physical, mental and sexual abuse was often a daily occurrence. 

As to the nature of the abuse, I don’t want to be too detailed here as not to trigger any trauma survivors who may be reading.  If you are interested in knowing the scope of the abuse that we children endured, I encourage you to visit my website cited below and purchase my memoir, “Cult Child”, where I detail the memories I have been able to piece together.

In 1977, we were relocated to Alaska.  Coincidentally, many compounds were built in Alaska, including Delta Junction, Haines, Hoonah and Sapa North just a few years before Alaska was to begin giving its citizens a yearly dividend from the gas pipeline.  For Sam Fife’s the Move, hundreds of checks equaling almost $1000 apiece was quite a substantial yearly financial income as all members of his cult were required to give over all child support monies, dividends and any other income that might come into the compound’s membership.

In Alaska the sexual abuse continued, as The Move of God still created a safe haven for pedophiles, believing they could deliver the demon of pedophilia out of a person or worse, not acknowledging it even existed.  Many times when an adult was caught with a child, the child was blamed for the act, being accused of demons of sensuality, lust and seduction.  I, along with other children, still experienced child labor, withholding of food as discipline and severe mental and physical abuse.  Though Elders and their children seemed somewhat protected from the treatment I endured, I have since learned from survivors that some Elder’s children were not exempt from abuse within their family unit.

The compound was monitored 24 hours a day with armed men and we were held to strict rules such as females being only allowed to wear skirts, men keeping their hair short and face absent of facial hair and members needing Elder permission to work certain jobs or marry. My mother, sister and I were ex-communicated from the cult when I was fourteen; reasons I won’t detail here as not to spoil the story for those who plan to read “Cult Child”.  We moved to Martin, Tennessee, where my grandmother lived.

Life in society outside of The Move of God was severe culture shock for me. My mother had been molded into a narcissistic, stone cold woman who operated as if our past had never existed. I lived my life as a chameleon.  I had never watched television or even had electricity.  As a family, we wore a thick mask of functionality over severe dysfunction such as alcoholism, drug use and intra-family hatred and lashing out.   Not only was I unfamiliar with the culture of my peers, but I also faced severe poverty since The Move sent us away with nothing but the clothes on our back and very few belongings.   As a teenager, I struggled to fit in, finding my way as I could and going where I was accepted.  This led me down a very dark and long path, a story I am detailing now as I write the sequel to “Cult Child”. 

After my mother passed away in 2007, I decided that I was ready to tell my story without having to fear her backlash.  I felt that using a character outside of myself would allow me the safety net of separating myself from the many layers of my abuse in order to be able to tell my story.  So I wrote “Cult Child” through the eyes of a little girl named Sila Caprin.

I naively convinced myself that I would fly through this story, setting a very short deadline for myself.  It would be a very long seven years traveling into my past experiences.  I could never have predicted what was going to emerge when I finally decided to dive in.  I suffered from deep night terrors, dreams that I could not speak of for days, unable to even turn on the light in a room.  I lost my job.  I avoided writing sometimes for months.  I spent days weeping and grieving experiences I had never allowed myself to face.  I wrote an album of songs and lullabies for Sila, as we travelled together into the dark recesses of the torture I had experienced.

Poetry has been an incredible outlet for my emotions.  I published my first poetry collection, “Dusted Shelves” in 2013, available in both paperback and audio spoken version.  As a child I was disallowed a voice, an identity or any forms of authenticity.  Our artistic endeavors, when noticed, were quickly stifled.  In adulthood creativity became my rite of passage.

A major change came when I discovered the power of my gratitude. When I began to focus on gratitude in my lowest moments, sometimes the pain didn’t overtake me as severely.  I found myself creating my own system of utilizing my senses and went on to create and publish an interactive journal, “Becoming Gratitude”, available for purchase through my website as well.  

Much of my recovery from mind control I did on my own grasping at information as I could find it.  The internet opened a library of information that helped me understand how my experiences had resulted in certain behaviors I carried.  I eventually found a counselor who further helped me define my experiences, giving me a language by which I could communicate what was happening in my head, the way I viewed the world and why.  I found my way back to my critical thinking. I came to understand that although I am diagnosed, the true mental illness lays in the minds of my abusers.

The journey out of cult survival is a rocky one.  My experiences changed me forever.   I have learned acceptance.  I have learned self-soothing and most importantly, I have learned and am constantly re-defining my boundaries based on what makes me feel in a safe and loving space.  I encourage all abuse survivors to support one another in this journey of recovery.  We need our voices continually being heard until no child is harmed again.

About the Author:  
Vennie Kocsis is an author, poet, painter and songwriter residing in the Pacific Northwest.  Her work can be explored in depth at her website, Vennie also blogs about varying aspects of her post cult life at her blog,

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Zack's Memoir, "Dead, Insane, or in Jail": Book Review, Part II of II

Libraries and bound text purists may purchase

 Dead, Insane, or In Jail:
A CEDU Memoir

Several formats of the the e-book may be purchased online at author Zack Bonnie's website at

Take the tour of additional resources while you're visiting the site.

 ~ ~ ~
Original Artwork by ZACH ATTACK! (Used with Permission)

In the previous post, I prefaced the heart of this review with a description of the unregulated "Troubled Teen Industry" where parents warehouse their "problem" children as owners reap much profit.  In this part of my review of Zack Bonnie's book, I consider the primary ways that the content impacted and continues to haunt me.  I will write in this post only of the personal elements.

However, one poignant element of this industry included in the memoir does deserve honorable mention for me. The author includes excerpts documenting the formal information given to parents which stand in stark contrast to the "hidden curriculum" and actual practices within the program.  (Read more about the "hidden curriculum" and the unwritten rules in a high demand, closed group HERE and HERE.)  He also includes letters from his mother and excerpts from his journals which help orient the reader, reminding them of the blatant deception these programs promulgate.

A friend of mine who is precious to me (a Second Generation Adult who survived to thrive after the Patriarchy/Quiverfull Movement) has a son who recently drew this image. You've already heard about her on this blog once or twice, but I want to preserve the artist's privacy.  He is also a "Zach" (spelled differently from our featured author today giving rise to my own misspelling onf his name) and chose the name Zach Attack to give him appropriate credit for his work.

This picture reminds me of such abusive teen programs that utilize nothing less than torture.  The programs sound like unique last hopes for parents, but unlike Zach Attack's rendition of a deadly confection that uses notably honest advertising, the Troubled Teen Industry omits the grave, honest, and vital warnings.  They conceal knowledge of their own proverbial equivalents to rat poison and razor blades.  I'm grateful that homes restrict razor blades and other contraband, or many would bleed into oblivion as their only viable escape from the hell suffered that is worse than any jail or prison in this country.  Some groups even restrict access to both toilet paper and the restroom.

Grief for Survivors of IFB Programs

I've listened, read, and written much about this topic already, so I will seek brevity which is rare for me.  So many things and the literal voices of survivors that I've talked with rang their audible imprints in my mind as I read the memoir:  the ache in Susan's voice about hunger and "so much food";  A__'s anxiety of powerlessness while incarcerated mingled with angst — and her note to me about how hard she finds it to read what seems like an anatomy of her soul on paper.  I can't begin to recount the tenderness in my heart for all of you, my sisters-of-sorts.  I can identify with you through my own heartache which stands as an infinitesimal, wispy of a blade of grass by comparison to the obelisk of your depths of suffering.

When Zack described his thoughts and emotions about what suddenly absent sojourners — kids that suddenly go missing from the program without word or warning -- I felt as if the marrow of my bones literally winced then ached.  I can't begin to even describe the sense of that experience that the author reveals in words, save to describe my own response.  I've thought about the women who told me that the first thought in their heads was first that they'd finally killed a girl, followed by the hope that their missing peer had broken out and ran free from the prison you shared with them. the Author's Eyes

As Zack describes the events leading to his exile at Rocky Mountain Academy (RCA) and the early stages of his indoctrination process, I found myself contemplating the nature of the progressive death of healthy optimism under the crushing of the process of awakening to betrayal.  As noted in the first post, the program was meant to rescue those who were otherwise destined for early death, insanity, and/or prison for breaking the civil law.  As everyone who endured thought reform or cultic abuse knows well, when compromising and unethical means accomplish the ironically lofty and grand objectives of a high demand group, the system sacrifices the very individuals that they seek to help.  Paradoxically, they end up creating that which they seek to oppose and eliminate.

RCA and the additional punishment of the physical torture of the survival element of the program accomplished something very different from reforming an insightful, intelligent, clever individual who acted out against the hypocrisy he saw — the acting out which landed him in the program.  In effect, RCA created the death of the innocent optimism of a talented young man who I found to be especially likable and good hearted under the misunderstood exterior with which all teenagers wrestle in their quest to find themselves and figure out who they really are.

I recalled the too familiar, predictable process of dissociation which is, in fact, a very sane and effective means of coping.  Again, let me say that his acute description of dissociation struck me as elegant, reminding me of the pain descriptor that I learned as a nurse:  "exquisite pain."  Watching that process vicariously through Zack's words depicted the feeling of insanity that covers the gift of dissociation that preserves us through the cruel, fully orbed process of a thought reform process that aids our survival.  And I still contemplate now, with as much empathy as I have by comparison, how that precious gift of survival becomes a life-long process of struggle for children forced to realize its power.

In jail?  The program was an interment camp of multi-leveled torture, in and of itself.  It is one thing to be "scared straight."  It is yet another feel the pain of grinding down into dust to be left with little the black abyss of hopelessness into which to gaze.  I didn't read such a strong and harsh description of such in the book, but I suspect that it could well be where the author ventures in the book's sequel (in development).

My Reflection in the Mirror

I think that good writing gives a mirror to others which allows them to see themselves.  One who nurtures does this for those they love so that they can see themselves realistically without threat or shame.  In this mirror, honesty validates those who have endured similar experiences in a way that no other mirror can.  By opening up to vulnerability, those who are also vulnerable and wounded can learn that they are not isolated and lost.  The physiologic process of trauma that takes place physically creates the feeling of isolation, in and of itself, so this is already a hurdle to overcome.  But healing shines through writing and encouragement and care which comes from someone who has walked a similar mile, because it informs (or in my case reminds) the recipient of the raw truth that they are part of a kinship.  And if one uses those elements of kinship well, they become a potent force of healing.  Zack speaks the language of such pain and the ongoing process of surviving it well to pursue thriving.

I was hesitant to include this, but many elements of the nature of the work felt common and familiar.  Some have nothing to do with the trauma that the author endured at the facility and the tall pines of its pain.  Most notably, the sardonic wit and humor as a means of coping with the unimaginable, sublime, and ridiculous aspects life and trauma in particular bore an endearing,  familiar feeling for me.  I do the same and gravitate to those who do the same — some secret language that comes with the kinship of so much pain.  Oh, and the compulsion of what I used to call the "lust for justice" in my own life before a lot of therapy that I heard in the wit spoke to me of my own memories of my dying naive idealism.  Chronic injustice gave me a penchant to find and ensure as much justice for others (and then self) which I pursued like a bloodhound.  Healing from my own trauma (mostly) took away that irresistible compulsion, but I see the reflection of what once was in the mirror of the prose.

I asked Zack a couple of questions as I read the book, and he noted that my questions seemed unusual.  He wrote that most people respond with shock over the experiences that he had at RMA.  I asked questions about who he was, then and now.  I wrote them out of the process of realizing that he and I are not really that different, save for the means by which we coped.  I played the part of "the good girl" to survive my own traumas at that age.  Zack coped by way of playing the part of what some would call "the bad boy."  I thought that if the variables in my own life had been different (if I was born male, didn't grow up on a somewhat remote steep mountain in the woods which kept me from wandering into other neighborhoods to meet other kids with more destructive means of coping), I could well be Zack.  [And more discussion of that is its another blog post all its own.]

In Closing
Naughty Note:  For Levity, let me add that I don't know that I've read such a glimpse into the mind of a healthy male teen before, noting that i did perceive him as a healthy person at the time of his admission to RMA.  He was struggling to cope with the hypocrisy and disappointment that meets all of us who try to live life consciously like his friend whom he nicknamed "Done Rough."  I don't believe that girls understand the power of a libido, especially for a teen.  
I found Zack's window into male adolescence much wider than that of Salinger's Holden Caulfield of which and whom the book reminded me in some aspects.  And I found even more amusing levity in the use of a creative expletive which I will take the risk to write here. 
Those tender to bawdy language should just stop reading now.  (I burst into laughter when I read the term "Torpedo Tits" which I have not heard used since it fell out of my beloved yet estranged father's mouth into my ears.  I needed the laugh, and the joy of the phrase was an unexpected connection to who I once was.)

Zack Bonnie gets the last word today with a notation from his Epigraph which I hope encourages others to relentlessly pursue their own healing from trauma:

This [traumatic events in later life after RMA] caused me to look back in time faithfully, and account for wherever that took me.
I needed to write with that voice – of that person who was me, then.  
(Kindle Locations 164-167)

Monday, September 7, 2015

Zack Bonnie's "Dead, Insane, or in Jail" ~ A Book Review in Two Parts

The in-print copy of Zack Bonnie's book about his interment in a remote facility for "troubled teens" became available on Amazon TODAY!

The title echoes the (stated and allegedly) altruistic intent of the founder of that facility to rescue  those teens who would otherwise end up "dead, insane, or in jail," as it was put to him by a staff member there — at the Rocky Mountain Academy, a facility founded by Charles E. Dietrich University or CEDU (pronounced "see-do").

I'm disappointed that I failed to get entirely through the book by today to celebrate the print edition, complete with new linoleum cut print artwork which I happen to love.  I decided to seek the best of both alternatives, posting the review in two parts.

Several formats of the the e-book may be purchased online at  The site also features some information about the book and the subject as well.

The Pros and Cons of a Tender Topic

I had the pleasure of meeting Zack in Stockholm in June at the International Cultic Studies Association meeting and found him so likable.  He has a quick wit and a depth of melancholy, but while a part of me couldn't wait to read his saga, I knew that it would be painful.

In the book, Zack describes the unpleasant anticipation of group interrogation sessions that were a part of his secular program.  When I read this paragraph describing how he felt, I thought of my own reluctance to dive into the book that I downloaded days after returning from the meeting.  As I anticipated, I feel compassion for the author, I am reminded of the suffering of my friends who survived teen homes, and I identify with so many of the common experiences of the process of dissociation in the midst of thought reform.  (He describes his experience of dissociation quite elegantly — which only a very good writer can do.)  Those elements have slowed down my usual reading speed as I stop to ponder and think and feel.

That said, the pain is also healing for me because it gives me another opportunity to realize that thought reform does most all of the same kinds of things to us.  We struggle with the same elements of losing ourselves as we attempt to cope.  Because the quality of the book's writing communicates so much so well, I think that anyone who has endured intense psychological manipulation will benefit from reading it.

The Troubled Teen Industry

As readers here may note, I have a special interest in the plight and the suffering of the young women who have suffered in similar teen homes that the Independent Fundamental Baptists (IFB) administer.  Hephzibah House and New Bethany are numbered among those residential programs whose survivors trusted me with their accounts of suffering and torture.  My heart breaks for them and the life long and pervasive effects that their experiences create for them. Their families (of origin and of their own) suffer with them as they all find their way through life which already contains enough pain for everyone — even for those from "charmed life." (Please click HERE for more info.)

Note of Warning:  If you are religious, a "Hephzibah Girl," or a former resident of another IFB home for teens that was patterned after Lester Roloff's program, please note that the author's account makes use of offensive language that classifies as "vulgarity" (that of common use which differs for me from the profane).  As part of the true-to-life memoir, I don't find it to be inappropriate, though religious folks who are sensitive to language should take note of it.  I think that the benefits of reading it far outweigh the issue of language for those who might find it distracting. 

If you are new to the subject of the Residential Troubled Teen issue, Kathryn Joyce wrote a shocking yet excellent article about it which Mother Jones published a few years ago.  If you're reluctant to read the book, I ask that you take a look at Joyce's article to see if it engages more of your interest.  I believe that material about these homes is essential reading for all Americans — so that they can understand what too many children endure when they serve their sentences in such places.  They're convicted without hearings, sentenced without an advocate, and locked away in a land that we were taught was the home of the free.

The Epigraph

For now, I will stick to the subject of this industry itself  by noting two quotes from the author.  These caught my attention immediately on my first reading of them, and I copied them without hesitation for inclusion here.

  They echo the same sentiments that I hear from those who endured their own prison sentences in similar facilities.
Others can mince words, I will not. It boggles my mind to consider that these reasons may simply all be reduced to a money-making scheme to dupe parents and warehouse their children for a spate when things got “tough.”     (Kindle Locations 157-159)

In fact, the only thing that qualifies me to request your time reading this account is that thousands like me have lived in these mandatory situations with interesting social dynamics that, to me, defy reason. 
     (Kindle Locations 182-184)

Part Two of my review will soon follow.
  In the meanwhile, enjoy this video that a friend of the author created to help launch the book.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Language of Cults. Duggars and Quiverfull: How to Communicate with People Outside of the Subculture

How do we define a cult in respect to the Duggars and Quiverfull?

I wrote all kinds of material that never made it into Hillary McFarland's Quivering Daughters book, but I was grateful to many people who peer reviewed my contributions to it.  Along with concerns about technical accuracy, I also wanted to see how people without intimate knowledge of religion or homeschooling would respond to the material.

I began to more deeply appreciate two primary lessons regarding the discussion of the issues involved with the Patriarchy/Quiverfull Movement.

Lesson One

Though I knew this in theory, the experience of reading the feedback impressed upon me so strongly that people outside of a closed subculture with specialized language need information and terminology that they can process.  People in the secular culture understand patriarchy already, so that gives people a frame of reference.

The term 'quiverfull' presents enough of a novel hook which helps people remember it.  A 'quiver' conjures images of Robin Hood and his mastery with bow and arrow, and the association between his image and that of a family creates enough of a memorable hook for those who've never heard of the Bible verse from which the term was borrowed.  Both terms "sell" the information and create a reason for people to listen and/or care.

'Quivering' also means something emotional to all people, for we've all quivered — usually in fear.  To think of a woman or a daughter that quivers disturbs people enough to give them cause to pay attention.  They all create pictures that communicate a relevant concept quite well and also provide shortcuts that can help us engage and hold interest.

The names of the players become more difficult to remember for those outside of the Evangelical Christian homeschooling bubble.  Prior to the scandals, people who enjoyed the TLC 19 Kids and Counting show will first recall the clever name of the series, and they might remember the Duggar name if they watch fairly regularly or know someone who does.  Some will recognize Mike Huckabee's name as a consequence of his career in politics, and years earlier, for his dramatic weight loss.  Save for rare comedy gold like the name "Bobbitt" (the wife who bobbed off her husband's penis in an altercation), names generally make less memorable and therefore less effective shortcuts.

We also face a problem when we expect people in the secular culture to engage in discussion with us about our high demand experience when we try to use terminology that is special to our subculture.  We sometimes fail to realize that the terms that are so very common place to us fall upon deaf ears.  All special interest groups and professions develop specialized language, but that language is meant to aid communication, not deter it.  Cults use language to make meaning more ambiguous which allows them to manipulate.

We don't want to make the mistake of confusing meaning or making the language too laborious.  First, people quickly lose interest and our points quickly get lost in the medium.  Secondly, we can actually drive people away if we seek to control discussions by controlling language.  We have to work to drop that habit of special language when we leave a group, and we must stay focused on clear communication which may not be our habit.

Lesson Two

The most common question that people outside of Christian homeschooling asked me after reading the Quivering Daughters took me by surprise — because I didn't see it coming.  People asked me which denomination followed these practices so that those who were moved by the book could discuss it with others.  People wondered if their loved ones who homeschooled were exposed or at risk for falling into the trappings of the Patriarchy/Quiverfull Movement. discussion also opened up into a the question of what constitutes a cult as opposed to a group that might be unhealthy but not necessarily abusive.  Thought reform tactics also pose another issue for those who are curious about this Christian sub-culture.  At the inception of this blog, I wrote about these definitons.  Cults practice thought reform, though Christians are often more comfortable with the terminology of 'spiritual abuse.'  Their tactics can also be considered aberrant in terms of healthy dynamics and/or in terms of theology.

The cultic studies field has actually addressed this many times over, and there is a host of literature supporting it. This diagram was the most easy source for me to access, something shared with me by Michael Langone, PhD, the Executive Director of the International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA).  Because that organization considers both religious and secular ideological totalism, I've adapted his original work to help elucidate where the Quvierfull Movement and folks like the Duggar Family fall in the mix.

What's a Cult?

In this example offered by Langone, a cult or a high demand group constitutes some collective of individuals who are manipulated surreptitiously by either or both psychological abuse or thought reform (which is a particular type of psychological group).  They follow an ideology to achieve some goal, and the collective follows leaders who are generally very charismatic and engaging.

 Some groups may manifest unhealthy dynamics that result in personal harm of some time, but they are not considered cults if they do not manifest some type of psychological abuse or thought reform.  In terms of behavior, a harmful group may be considered 'aberrant' or 'cultic' because of their dysfunction.  It may present a perfect storm that could well foster the development of an abusive cult, so a less loaded term of 'aberrant' or 'cultic' can be used.

All thought reform and psychologically abusive groups are harmful, but not all harmful groups constitute a cult.

What is Quiverfull?

In 2008 in a workshop examining the Patriarchy Movement, I referred to it as quite "non-monolithic," characterized by clustering of activities, traits, and interests — though none of those variables were universal or definitive.  In epidemiology and the study of the cause and transmission of disease, the term of 'clustering' explains this phenomenon of common features experienced or by clusters of people experiencing them that may or may not have a known causative connection.  For that reason, I use the term to describe the connections among Patriarchy and Quiverfull lifestyles which are also now associated with Christians who homeschool their children.

People from across many different denominations bear many of these same common variables, and in some respect, I think that it may reflect the zeitgeist of the generation that is also common to the culture.  (Look at Martha Stewart's popularity which has fostered an interest in domesticity — something mirrored in this religious subculture.)  Whatever the cause, there are what might be found as markers or possible and presumptive characteristics that often occur in tandem with one another.

 Hold on to your "Prairie Muffin" bonnet.  The sorting out of these clustered variables make for nothing that is black and white.  It's anything but "flow chart friendly" and I had to get quite creative with the Venn diagram.  Not all Quiverfull folks follow Patriarchy in the same manner or degree.  Some Quiverfull folks may not follow Patriarchy to the same degree and may not homeschool.  Other groups (such as the Unification and Mormon Churches) follow Patriarchy and Quiverfull, but are not Evangelical Christians and may not homeschool.  Listed below are other variables that are often common and 'cluster' with these lifestyle choices.  One might consider their occurrence as a presumptive or suggestive indicator just as a symptom may or may not be associated with a health disorder.  It's basically a free-for-all, and the phenomenon crosses over all denominations.

 Where Do the Duggars Belong?

The remainder of the mystery should be self-explanatory, given the diagrams.  Some people who follow the ideology have all of the characteristics consistent with a cult, per Langone's definition as the diagram demonstrates.  Some groups may be suspect, 'aberrant', or what some might define as 'cultic' in the unhealthy/harmful sense.  And groups may teeter on the edge of that which constitutes abuse without consistent and definitive hallmark characteristics of Thought Reform.

Groups often start out as reasonably healthy, but they can change.  Cult leaders crave stimulation and may shift in and out of unhealthy behaviors, vacillating in and out of abusive behaviors.  Sometimes, their boredom is passed on to followers by way of cultic/psychological abuse and thought reform.

And remember the Duck Test!  If it walks, talks, and looks like a duck, TRUST YOUR GUT.  It's probably a duck.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Tim Keller, Sex, and Eternal Submission Doctrine: Summing up the Sexualization of the Trinity with Shirley Taylor
This series of posts started with a simple reference to my great disappointment in the statements that Tim Keller has made concerning the Trinity.  Someone at Spiritual Sounding Board asked for more information regarding the specifics of what Keller teaches, not realizing how significant I found this question.  I couldn't just quote him without demonstrating that his peers also taught and said the same kinds of things, and I wanted an opportunity to refute them.  As this meme demonstrates, Keller is not some odd example who made a few poorly communicated statements.

These doctrines argue that husbands rule and reign over their wives because, as the teaching asserts, Christ is subordinate to God the Father who rules and reigns over His Son.  The Father is the exemplar for men and the Son is the exemplar for women within this paradigm.

Why it's problematic

If someone's belief enhances their ability to love God and love others as they love themselves, making them good neighbors and with whom most can all live peaceably, it wouldn't matter.  But I believe strongly that the belief system that Keller and his colleagues share deters both the understanding and love of God for the Christian and results in many varieties of harm to all people, especially to women.  The teachings also foster a cruel, gnostic elitism that I've called "survival of the spiritually fittest."  Though we Christians are called to be known by our love for one another, I am still often left speechless at the high degree of cruelty that the gender debate still fosters.

Ideas have consequences, and I find two most troubling consequences that result from these teachings claiming that marital sex concerns and mirrors the life of the Three Divine Persons in the Trinity.  Some engage in this debate because these ideas hinder women from participating in ministry which is troubling enough, but these same ideas are used to dehumanize women which can also result in abuse.  In terms of theology, I'm deeply disturbed by the theological implications.  In effect, they result in a sub-Christian understanding of God's identity which robs Christ of His full deity

An Index to Posts on the Sex and Trinity Connection

The posts that address these issues concerning sex and the way that the developed are explored in the following posts in Five Parts.  They center around Tim Keller's statements, and most include commentary from Shirley Taylor — both from her books and from some of our private exchanges:

I:  Tim Keller on the Meaning of the Sex Act in Marriage

II:  Sex, Tim Keller, and the Replacement of Salvation by Faith

III:  The Genesis of Eternal Subordinationism

IV:  Is the Trinity a Sex Orgy?

V:  The Connection between Marriage and Holiness  (The meaning of Ephesians 5:22-29)

A Quickhand Chart

Here's a chart of the development of these doctrines which are further explored in the posts in this series.  They are critical to understanding the doctrines and the motives of those who teach them.

A Connection between Marriage and Holiness? Part V of Tim Keller on Sex: A Virtual Discussion with Shirley Taylor
I posted this while bleary-eyed, so please let me know about typos!

In an earlier post in this discussion, we read Shirley Taylor's summary of the writings of Tim Keller and those who ascribe to the misogyny that arises from Eternal Subordinationism.  This doctrine is used to argue that husbands rule and reign over their wives because, as the teaching asserts. Christ is subordinate to God the Father. who rules and reigns over His Son.  The Father is the exemplar for men and the Son is the exemplar for women in this paradigm

In the chapter entitled "Sexualization of the Trinity" in her book Dethroning Male Headship, she writes:
Keller is saying that when husbands and wives have sex, particularly when they climax (when else would there be “shouts of joy?”), they are emulating how the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit rejoice in each other.  [. . .]. The ‘union’ between the Son of God and his bride the Church, according to Piper and Keller, is sex. Just as sex supposedly points to the love between the Father and Son, now the bride (the Church) is involved.

Is the Trinity a Sex Orgy? Part IV of Tim Keller on Sex: More Virtual Discussion with Shirley Taylor
  **This September is book month at, but today, I want to discuss two books that I don't recommend purchasing.  I feel bad enough because of the necessity to purchase them myself to read them with my own eyes.**

Sex and the Trinity?  (Continuing the discussion of Tim Keller's views on sex)

I didn't intend to include this element of these teachings because I really don't like discussing this aspect of the topic of the Eternal Subordination of the Son Doctrine, but this element keeps surfacing.  In a way, I'm glad to see people discussing the convoluted nature of the doctrine and how bizarre it is when you have time to think about it.  I think that people who sit in a seminary lecture or a sermon and hear these ideas take in the ideas fall into the traps of social proof and the appeal to authority.  They don't have time to pull apart the rapid "pile on" of thoughts in order to make sense of them.  By the end of forty minutes of twisted logic from someone trusted in a room full of fans who accept what they're told, I think people sitting there just absorb it as fact out of the fatigue of overwhelm.  But we who read here can take apart these ideas at our leisure with the freedom of time and logic apart from social proof and pressure.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Genesis of Eternal Subordinationism -- Part III of Tim Keller on Sex

Having discussed this issue privately with Shirley Taylor, and as a continuation of this theme and topic, I include it here as part of our dialogue.  In a post that will follow in a close to this theme, I will include Shirley's summary statements concerning this theology and what those who find it problematic can do.  Before hand, I will delve into the connection between holiness and marriage in subsequent post.  It's all so much to take in because it is so convoluted, and the Calvinist learning curve is steep.

The previous posts discussed statements made by Tim Keller in his book, The Meaning of Marriage.  Along with many others who are held in high esteem within the Southern Baptist movement which embraces Covenant Theology and gender hierarchy, Keller professes the Doctrine of Eternal Subordination of the Son (ESS) to validate his views on marriage.  Through a very convoluted interpretation of Scripture along with the extension of what I personally find to be the already dubious "Covenant of Redemption" by inserting hierarchy, Keller claims that marriage relationships are patterned after the love relationship between God the Father and God the Son. 
NOTE:  In this post, I refer via links, in particular , a website devoted to the study of the Trinity, though I may or may not agree with the information presented there.  Links used here mean to give the reader some working understanding of the concepts in some depth.  If needed, google the terms if you need a more basic summary of them, as rank and file folks don't often use them in our common language.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Book Month: All Throughout September (Dashed Spellcheck!)

To launch the Look at Books month, 
I'm happy to announce that Adele Hebert has made her book

All the scriptures pertaining to 
Women and Children in the New Testament

available for free via download
to any and all who would like a copy of it!

Adele who has graciously shared her writings here on this website has written a wonderful book that looks at every Scripture in the Bible that speaks the truth about what the Word really says about women.  (My review of it appears HERE.)  She is a true scholar of the Word who has assisted other writers with research in the preparation of their own works, but her writing brings to mind the joy that I feel about knowing my loving Savior. She puts forth the Word and elevates it above all else. She does address the contemporary problems that have resulted from or have been fostered by complementarian ideology (which postulates that gender role playing is demanded by God), but in so doing, she maintains a central focus on Scripture, God's love for mankind, and the love of Jesus as the central feature of the discussion. Though she encourages the reader by discussing many relevant topics, I also so love the section that notes the content concerning women throughout the whole New Testament, book by book.
Read content at

Here is her bio from God's Word to Women, a website that has benefited greatly from Adele's time and volunteer work to make so much of Katharine Bushnell's work available online.
Adele Hebert is "driven to study the word". Asked to describe herself, she recalls the honor of being recognized as an Independent Scholar by author Leonard Swidler for whom she worked as an editor and contributor for the book Jesus Was A Feminist (which includes one of her articles). She has also edited other Christian books and newsletters, including CBE International newsletters and she typed the GWTW book and many of Katharine Bushnell's articles which are centerpieces of the GWTW site. Delighted to have her article included on the GWTW website, Adele is confident that this message will bless many women.
(Read even more about Adele HERE, as I once honored her with the Stylish Blog award!)

To obtain your copy of the book:

Visit the download site at, and follow the instructions there.  You can also still obtain a hard copy of the paperback edition of the book by linking to the Create Space website HERE.

Thank you Adele, my sweet friend, for your labors of love and your gracious gift of your labor.  This book is truly a love letter to all of us.  You are such an inspiration and encouragement to me!

Tim Keller on the Meaning of the Sex Act in Marriage: A Virtual Dialogue with Shirley Taylor Part II

The previous post discussed the Doctine of the Eternal Subordination of the Son in the Trinity which the Southern Baptist Convention falsely contends has been the only orthodox understanding of the Trinity since the original Biblical texts were penned and a belief always held by theologians.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Tim Keller on the Meaning of the Sex Act in Marriage: A Virtual Dialogue with Shirley Taylor Part I

Spiritual Sounding Board (SSB) just cross-posted my weekend commentary on Anna Duggar and the scapegoating that "spread your legs theology" doles out to women.    Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd swiftly proved my thesis on Sunday.

I read that the Dugggars "identify" with Floyd's church where their daughter Jill married, though I understand that they often choose to worship at home as well.  By the time that the church deleted the online podcast of Floyd's sermon, the lion's share of the material had been reproduced by a host of journalists and bloggers, noting the manner in which their religion blames wives for adulterous husbands.  I guarantee that within the Gothard system specifically, the condemnation proves far more scathing.  The SBC as a whole isn't quite as miserable about such matters.

And as an aside, I was happy to learn that Anna Duggar's brother offered to take Anna and her children with Josh in and would support them, should Anna choose to separate.  Or something to that effect.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Who put Jesus in a dress? The Insane Theology of the Eternal Subordination of the Son Doctrine
Shirley Taylor is revising her first book, but I wanted to revisit it in the event that this portion changes. 

I still can hardly believe that anyone takes this Subordination doctrine seriously at all, especially the alleged ramifications that it holds for gender relationships.  I wandered into a seminary a number of years ago and challenged doctrines that I could barely believe that anyone took seriously and found out in a most unpleasant way that it was one of the hottest topics within the Southern Baptist Convention.

I've heard rumors that many who claim to embrace gender roles and female subordination actually reject the idea that these roles and relationships find their origins in the Trinity -- a mystery of religion in and of itself.  But who knows.  Follow the money, I say.  When it completely stops bringing in the bucks, they'll abandon the concept and come up with some new kind of spin to make their concept try to work.   I'm still in awe that seminaries full of Christians can sit and listen to this, saying nothing.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Will Anna Duggar be offered as the next live sacrifice to save the Duggar Family Brand? Scapegoating, Spread Your Legs Theology, and the Modern Molech

(Please take note of embedded links 
                 for background information.)

I’ve tried for more than 48 hours to write this, but having watched this scenario play out with other followers of Bill Gothard, it brings up so many disturbing emotions for me, I found myself too caught up in them.  As the media begins to report, Anna Duggar will share in the blame for her husband’s sins and divorce will be strongly discouraged if not demonized.  I’ve watched it happen with other people who follow this belief system, over and over again. 

I don’t know how the family will make her the scapegoat for his behavior prior to their courtship, but they will scapegoat her for his infidelity.  The wife’s exemplary performance allegedly and magically prevents a husband from indulging in sin.  We see elements of this same mindset in the blaming behavior of Tullian Tchividjian.  Such magical thinking rests at the core of all of the beliefs within the Duggars’ cultic excuse for sanitized and superior Christianity.