Monday, June 8, 2015

Jill and Jessa Duggar as Quivering Daughters: Hillary McFarland’s book is available again!

The previous post explains the plight of Second Generation Adults of Patriarchy (SGAs) — those who suffer in the confinement of thought and in the circumstances in life created by Christians who sought to help their families.  The SGA describes adults who grew up in a family that followed high demand religion — a process that has profound effects for those who endure it.  Quivering Daughters by Hillary McFarland seeks to help those who have lived a “Duggar-like lifestyle” but found that it worked to destroy that which it was meant to create.  Rather than a nurturing environment of safety and love, many of its daughters and sons were met with pain, rejection — and sometimes, with abuse.

I am grieved to see that some of these misfortunes have also touched the Duggar Family.  I feel pity and empathy for all of them, especially for Jill, Jessa, and those unnamed ones who don’t even fully realize that they were abused.  They also do not realize the nature of the system of belief that they follow not only puts them at risk for physical harm, it also packs a punch of emotional, spiritual and psychological abuse.  That is where most of us who were involved with Gothardism find ourselves when we wake up to the reality that formulas for living that eliminate the problems in life simply don’t work.  It takes time and valiant courage to face the tragic consequences as well as the end of the fantasy that promised us “a better way.” 

Available Again!

But today, I am pleased beyond words to hear from Eric Pazdziora that Hillary has again made a pdf copy of her book available for purchase for those who have such a great need for it.  Visit her website to obtain a copy if you haven’t done so already.  Perhaps a good place to start might be the Christianity Today review of the book.

It was written for those who have found the Quiverfull and Patriarchy movements disappointing, to say the least, especially those who endured a host of abuses — including those that the Duggars now face. It is now available for those children of patriarchy — even for those who don’t yet know that they are Quivering Daughters.  It is my prayer that the whole Duggar Family and those like them will find the book to be a vital resource that can help them transcend their the many crises they face.

May the book be a blessing to all of them.  If not today, we can pray, for there is always tomorrow.

Some of my first thoughts about the book: 

(some originally posted in June 2010)

It was very surreal for me when I first held the actual book in my hands for the first time.  I’ve been looking at the cover of the book before publication, so it had become familiar to me. Hillary and I had talked about the little girl in the photo, and I prayed for her and all those little ones like her.  You know those kind of prayersone where your aching spirit just says a volume in an instant with a silent groan of travail that spills out of your chest and floods your arms and face with His presence mixed with your aching empathy.

Many years ago, I heard Francis Schaeffer (the father of the author of Crazy for God) say in an interview that he would likely have benefited more in a spiritual sense if he had not spent considerable effort addressing the more difficult aspects of living in an imperfect world.  But as Schaeffer explained, he believed that God called him to address some of the more unpleasant issues that we Christians face in life as opposed to a focus only and exclusively on the ideal.  

He obeyed what he understood as his calling to be faithful to do what God had called him to do.  I also wish that I knew nothing of the painful elements of the pains faced by Quivering Daughters, spending all my days singing, playing the piano, strumming my harp and guitar, and gliding the bow over the psaltery in worship and communion with the Lord.

I read the beautiful Foreword by Elisabeth Esther and was haunted by her so aptly stated comment, “…and yes, sweet one, it is abuse.”

I tightly clutched the book to my heart with my arms crossed over it, praying, weeping, groaning.  I joined my heart with Hillary’s in a prayer for this to become reality for many, as she writes, 
“To my quivering daughter-sisters – you inspire me with your courage and bravery.  Every day I wish I could throw my arms around you; thank you for reaching, for asking, for searching.  Thank you for your faith, for seeking the narrow way that leads to life.  Thank you for loving truth, even when it hurts.  Thank you for living, even when it hurts.  For daring to step into the unknown so that He may become known.”

I also prayed with Wade Burleson that many will, Read it and weep.  Read it and think.  Read it and quiver no more.”

I have endured many deeply painful things in life, and just recently, it seems like so many of them have not been for naught.  I want those griefs to be transformed and exploited for good — things which God can use for good to comfort others and save many.  (That “saving” often and simply means “ to be saved from circumstances.”)  For me, Quivering Daughters became one of those good things that allowed my own grief to birth a sense of blessing.  I’m honored to have been a part of Hillary’s labor to bring the message of hope and healing to those who most need it.


O wise men, riddle me this: 

What if the dream come true?What if the dream come true? 
And if millions unborn shall dwell
In the house that I shaped in my heart, 
the noble house of my thought?

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The First Step Towards Understanding Jill and Jessa Duggar’s Fox Interview: Second Generation Adults in Cultic/High Demand Religion

A host of resources exist exploring the characteristics of the subculture of the Quiverfull Movement (which is often synonymous with Patriarchy within evangelical Christian homeschooling circles).  As the new generation that this movement produced finds their voice, there appears to be little information about the process of how this group in particular has affected the development of the now adult “arrows” of their parents’ quivers , especially for those who remain within their religious culture of origin.

Defining the Term:  Second Generation Adult

Simply defined, children who are raised in a high demand religion whose followers view themselves as special have been described as “Second Generation Adults,” (resulting in the acronym of “SGA”). Their parents, those of the “first generation,” who opted to follow a particular ideology obligated their children to its demands — demands which shape how their children grow into their adulthood.  

Parents’ choices burden their children with concerns and issues that people outside of their religious culture do not share.  Even into adulthood, this burden alters normal growth and development as well as identity in predictable, lasting, and often in profound ways. 

The Duggar daughters who appeared on the June 5, 2015 interview on Fox News represent the SGAs of the duplicitous Bill Gothard’s “Advanced Training Institute” homeschooling program.

A Very Complicated Subculture:  Duggar Children as SGAs

Defining this for the Quiverfull Movement becomes more complicated because of the odd nature of clustered interests followed by these homeschooling families.  It is by no means monolithic, Some local clusters of families focus on agrarian life and homesteading, but this is not universal.  Many who are part of the larger culture have no idea about individuals like Bill Gothard, Mary Pride, or Gary North who helped to shape what filters down to them through the unspoken rules and ideals conveyed by their peers.  They fail to recognize the profound influence that the Independent Fundamental Baptist movement fostered, just by noting that the [self proclaimed non-denomination] are the largest and longest-lived publishers of Christian homeschooling materials and textbooks. 

The average evangelical Christian homeschooler has likely heard of the Duggar Family because of their penchant for media attention but may have no idea about the homeschooling organization to which they are beholden.  Few know about the shaming and bizarre, abusive nature of the misogynous religious teachings demanded by their leader.  Those who know of their leader usually wish to minimize or deny his well documented history of nefarious behavior, both past and present.

I am former member of this Christian subculture, and I’m the same age as Michelle Duggar.   I’ve spent the entire length of my childbearing years in evangelical Christianity which expects all married couples to procreate and parent, perhaps as part of the zeitgeist of the whole generation.  And though I did not grow up in a rigid fundamentalist Christianity, I experienced the same type of melding of parenting style with high demand religion within the Word of Faith movement.  

From that experience, I believe that it is impossible to interpret the responses of the Duggar Family interviews this past week without consideration of the profound effect that their whole lifestyle has had on them, particularly on the daughters.  The media attention which the family’s parents willingly sought further intensified these effects on their children, if only by what Robert Cialdini describes as the “weapon of influence” that he terms commitment and consistency.

What It Feels Like to be an SGA

This more specific description of what it feels like to be an SGA within the Quiverfull Movement and similar types of Fundamentalist Christianity borrows heavily from Michael Martella’s depiction ( featured HERE in a panel discussion on the topic).  He speaks as both a licensed family therapist (non-nouthetic) and as an SGA who exited what many describe as a “pseudo-Christian” religious group.  Many groups separate child and family, but for the “child of the quiver,” the focus on the father as a demigod patriarch and mother as suffering servant become something of secondary, middle management gurus within the larger, loosely affiliated Christian homeschooling culture.  Thus, I’ve adapted his description specifically to the movement.  (SGAs from other religious groups can be separated from family, but the general patterns and effects differ little between high demand groups.)

The SGA’s whole existence becomes the proof of the validity of a mixed collection of belief systems, of your individual family’s ability to meet the culture’s demands, and of the family’s favored gurus.  While children are praised as the central focus of the culture, they also become the assets of that culture.  They are objectified (reduced to objects), despite the irony that the homeschooling strategy claimed to exist for the best interests of children.

The SGA becomes the “dream come true” for not only Christians in general, the smaller subculture within Christianity, the effectiveness of homeschooling as an educational choice, and of the worth of the family.   Without realizing it, the SGA doesn’t even realize that the only dream that the process neglects is their own. Because of the “tight margins” in which they are raised, they quite often don’t even know how to dream.  Their needs are subjugated to so many in this hierarchical chain and their independent critical thinking so strongly punished that they may have no solid, viable core sense of self with which to dream.  Those who manage some semblance of one are fortunate.  The bounded choice imposed by their culture limits their ability to think beyond that which has always determined for them by others.

Martella's Masks:  Tools of Surviving the Christian Subculture

SGAs wear two masks, the first of which is the public one.  The constant pressure to present a glowingly positive public persona  (for the culture/parent/anointed visionary leader/homeschooling/Christian faith) dictates their public mask.  As a consequence, they become highly efficient at understanding the subtle cues in any situation in order to determine what is expected of them.  They also become amazingly successful at adapting to those expectations which constantly change because of the shifting dynamics of high demand religion.  One learns quickly that the cultures only reward the public mask, based performance and becomes one’s strongest sense of worth.  Achievement becomes a means of coping.

The mask of the private self cannot be worn, and it’s punished when it makes an appearance.  This mask rarely if ever receives reward or validation, for its neglect is the price that one must pay to earn admission to the culture.  Parents do not realize that they pass this burden on to their children, and it is generally very painful for the parent to even consider that their child pays any price at all.  From their perspective, it is the parent who has sacrificed all for the best interest of both family, culture, and faith — all for their children.  This difference in perspective accounts for great difficulties between SGAs and their parents (and the peers of their parents, too).

As we adapt in public situations, we also adapt ourselves to fit our masks.  We internalize the “lessons” that we’re taught through each one — and neither one is authentic or healthy.  I never managed either very well, myself.  The Duggar daughters seem to have mastered them, for now.  It’s easier to keep up when you’re younger.

An Untenable Life

What results for the SGA is the “endlessly untenable position where the self has no value.” Existence becomes an attempt to manage or to avoid personal disintegration.  (This feeling makes recovery from the emotional and psychological wounds of the personal and spiritual trauma feel overwhelming.  Letting go of the cult self to trust in the process of healing becomes a terror of what seems like complete personal annihilation.)   

For the SGA, life within the group becomes an attempt to juggle a “sufficiently credible performance” with avoidance of getting into even more trouble and greater pain that exceeds the trouble and pain that they constantly bear anyway.  The double bind of both pressures makes life a matter of “damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.”  The cognitive dissonance produced by a double bind life of the SGA becomes part of the vicious cycle of helplessness and hopelessness that keeps them dependent on the group if not enslaved with invisible chains of fear and duty which they tell themselves is really an ideal kind of love.

The self-help and educational literature produced by the cult recovery movement describes this impossible pressure experienced by anyone in a high demand group or relationship as “bounded choice.”  The perfect storm of an inspiring religious ideology and a charismatic leader which then melds with systems of control and manipulation work to alienate the follower.  They must bury their own sense of self (if they even had the chance to develop a functional one), and they cannot access or embrace their inherent internal strengths because of the pervasive restriction of critical thought and imagination.  The situation created by such relationships also often deprives individuals of practical resources (e.g., a trade to earn an income, an adequate education, financial resources) that walking away from their group or family necessitate.

If the adult who is a “first generation” follower of a demanding, restrictive high demand religion struggles to find strength and resources to free themselves from their relationship to their religious communities, how much more difficult are the barriers that SGAs must face without any experience of life outside of their cloistered lives?

A Duggar of a Double Bind

Jill and Jessa who often looked at one another to make eye contact for validation, especially early on in the interview.  For me, I could only see their bounded choice of duty to their family, their culture, and especially the hobgoblin created by the extraordinary pressure of consistency and commitment.  Their parents bound them to that obligation of consistency when they poised and postured them before the world through reality TV.  It breaks my heart.  (This brings up the question as to whether reality TV poses a risk or harm to children.  Read more HERE and HERE.)

At the same age as Jill and Jessa, I was not able to voice my own choices to my parents.  I tried a few times, but the pain of their punishment made the efforts short lived.  I worked hard to live up to their expectations until I was in my late thirties — when I finally lost all hope of ever doing so.  I started in (non-nouthetic) therapy at age 19, did not view outcome based psychology as evil, worked consistently to heal, and I didn’t find the strength to defend my own boundaries with my parents until much later in life.  (Please note that the Duggar Family only embraces Biblical or “nouthetic” Counseling which is a type of non-clinical pastoral counseling that operates certification organizations that are completely independent and opposed to standard, clinical mental health care.)

They said what they had to say and what a lifetime of coaching already programmed them to say to defend their parents and their family.  They had no viable choices to do anything else.  They haven’t even had a chance to think about it yet.


More about SGAs:

In the Patriarchy Movement

In other Cults and High Demand Groups

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

What Micah Murray and I Want You (and the Duggars) to Know about Joy

My blog post today was birthed by a new article written by a thoughtful young man -- a Second Generation Adult (raised in high demand religion) -- who used to be the equivalent of a Duggar, but sans TV show.  Hopefully sans abject abuse, too.

(As I finish this post, The Kelly File featuring the first interview with the Duggars following the tragic news of sexual abuse in their family just beings to air.

Read my general thoughts here and listen to the Patriarchy Workshop if you're interested in what I think about the top layer of their theology.  And a blog series I did on repentance and forgiveness....)

Congratulations to Micah on his premiere article in Bedlam Magazine.  (I'm probably his mother's age, so I see him as young and nearer than I am to the beginning of his own, hard work of healing.)

My!  Did the article set me thinking -- about things other than the he offers which don't begin to reflect the trenchant and thoughtful posts that he pours out on his blog, Redemption Pictures.

As the First Post Sex Abuse Duggar Interview Airs...

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Leaving the Quiver Behind

For the young adult who emerges from a high demand religious household, there's so much grieving (anger, depression, etc), backtracking and adjusting to do that the reconciliation that parents desire takes longer than they would like. Reconciliation doesn't always happen, either.

 The process takes the survivor of this Patriarchy/Quiverfull mess years to process things after growing up in it, and the parent has to go through their own (very different) grieving as well.  Making sense of the rift takes time and work, and it's often difficult to devote oneself to healing and reuniting with parents while forging ahead with one's own life.  And it basically sucks.  It's well worth doing, but it's painful, and it's work.

Getting Back to Blogging and Photo Hacking

I finally moved out of the 20th Century and bought a Smart phone, but not without some casualties.  I thought I was deleting images from  my phone to save memory...  Ha!  I inadvertently deleted a couple of years worth of images from this blog --  291 of them if I remember correctly.

Basically, I've been overcome by life events....  Though things are looking up.

I plan to replace a couple of the missing images every day, but then... I plan to do many things.  (Sigh.)  I have yet to finish responding to Cynthia Jeub's blog in the hope of helping parents feel more comfortable with their adult children and the independent choices that they make.  (I haven't read there since I last posted about her writing here on this blog.)  But to that task  I will return in the Fall.

I feel so old!
I'm not sure when it happened, either.

In the interim and amidst the latest scandal (which seem to be monthly since I last posted here), keep up with Spiritual Sounding Board, Homeschoolers Anonymous, Recovering Grace, and No Longer Quivering for the homeschooling related drama.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Bob Jones University: Hope Before the GRACE Storm

Update 2Jun15:  Follow up with the significance and effects of the GRACE Report for Bob Jones University at Bible Madness.

Original post 10Dec14:

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Prerequisite for More Discussion about Cynthia Jeub's Blog Posts

Religious lifestyles that demand a great deal of conformity can create a lot of relationship tension as children venture into adulthood as those adult children begin to make their own choices about life and belief.  If there is too much reliance on the identity of the family of origin or if the family demands the adult to remained defined by this identity, relationship are likely to develop.

But what makes for a person's identity?  Where does it come from?  How does an individual find their worth, value and peace?  It's more complicated than you might think.

How would you rate your own self-esteem?  Your self-efficacy?  What kind of locus of control do you have?  What about your loved ones?  Can you speculate about how these elements affect your relationships with family?

Multigenerational Tragedy?

The Ultimate Tragedy:

Another tragedy... is a problem of multigenerational nature. The serious dysfunction in a founding family will be absorbed by the children’s families and then their children’s families, a ripple of misery extending farther and farther down through the years. The dependency or dysfunction may change... But it’s there. It’s almost always there, wreaking it’s damage.

by Hemfelt, Minirth and Meier

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Affects of Stress on the Body and "Multigenerational Faithfulness" in Quiverfull Families

During the interim while waiting on the continued discussion of Cynthia Jeub's blog posts about the inconsistencies she experienced in her TLC celebrity family, enjoy a graphic about how stress affects the body.
Let it be another good motivator to work through the negative and costly aspects of true "multigenerational faithfulness."  It might be better termed "parental convenience" for which adult children raised in the high demand system pay a terribly high price.

Idealization often occurs in families that are very religious, especially in those kinds of religious homes that draw very strict boundaries to define acceptable and unacceptable attitudes and behaviors.
The high value that is placed on family, and on respect for parents, makes it almost impossible for children to integrate their parents’ failings and weaknesses... 
Adult children who have practiced this degree of splitting and idealization tend to be driven by fear. 
Dr. David Stoop

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Are You a Mom Who is Triggered by Cynthia Jeub's Blog? Finding Healing Part I


At the age of forty eight, I find myself in an interesting place concerning the discussion of the Evangelical Christian homeschooling movement. While I'm roughly the same age of the first generation parents in the movement's spotlight, I identify most strongly with the Second Generation Adults (SGAs) – the adults who grew up in the quiverfull homeschooling world. Through my childbearing years, I found my social niche with moms who were a decade older than me, and their babies that I once carried around on my hip are now adults. Because I never managed to carry a pregnancy very far before miscarrying, most moms in the movement who were my age held me at arms length, and I was treated as a pariah. Though my experiences classify me as an SGA, because I was neither homeschooled nor had the experience of parenting, I often stand on the outside looking into both groups. My perspective has advantages and disadvantages, but I've been determined to make the best out of both.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Gothard's New "Ministry": Men's Accountability Parachurch Groups

I've been waiting for weeks for this one...

Visit Spiritual Sounding Board for the all of the bizarre and inane details.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Smoke and Ash of Melting Memories

What are your earliest memories like? 

I remember some events as what seem like still photographs from when I was very young – like the yellow diaper service pail on the front porch with an embossed stork on it, though the pigment in the pattern had faded. I remember my mother sitting beside my white crib, reading different books to me. Though I could not have had a visit with him after I was three years old, I remember my orthopedist. He had jet black hair and wore a smock like doctors wore in black and white movies. I remember really liking him, but I don't remember talking to him or why I saw him. I remember my grand geek fascination with the magiciadias when Brood X made their seventeen year appearance, just before my fourth birthday. They are pictures in the album of my mind, accompanied only by the sense of joy, excitement, or curiosity that I feel when they're called back into my consciousness. I have to rely on the history that I learned from my family to put those pictures into perspective.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Qualifying "Creepy": Cults and Cognitive Dissonance

Relativity (Escher)
A few years ago, I took the dialogue from the script of The Matrix film and changed some of the language to fit a spiritually abusive situation – to describe that splinter-in-your-mind feeling. You know something seems to be “off,” but you're not sure what it is. The only thing that you can really pinpoint as “off” at the very start of it is your feeling for which you have little evidence.

Let's exaggerate things a bit with an obvious example of something somewhat related to the splinter in your mind.

If we are reasonably mentally heathy, we have a sense of optimism. For some of us who have been through trauma, our optimism (which might be too strong of a word) may only be a search for reasons to get out of bed in the morning. When coping with all that we must to get through life, we take much for granted, and our level of optimism or lack thereof dictates the ease with which we trust the subtle or obvious cues. When others use that which we take for granted (the shortcuts of assumption) against us for their gain and at our expense, these shortcuts become “Weapons of Influence.”

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Exploring Trust in Forgiveness (What can we learn from the tragic death of Braxton Caner?)

A Reposting from the blog series on forgiveness, repentance and reconciliation from 2012.  What can we learn from tragedy - the loss of Braxton Caner


What hidden lessons can we find?


The Importance of Trust-building in Forgiveness

We've elucidated many ideas about forgiveness, primarily that it is a journey and that emotional healing is not on a straight time line. It occurs in stages, and healing becomes more like peeling an onion. Each layer brings tears and reminds us of what we've experienced in the past. We find ourselves remembering griefs we believe were healed and we have to reaffirm forgiveness as God takes our healing to a deeper level in our souls. We can take the hard road of the Path of Healing as an act of obedience to God and virtue, dedicating ourselves to genuine forgiveness which honors both the offended and the offender. We must choose to identify and resist both the Path of Denial which pretends in some way that no offense ever took place as well as the Path of Bitterness which deceives us into believing that we are forgiving when we're only gathering evidence to exonerate ourselves from blame and condemn our offender. We grieve quite a bit during this process and must learn to wisely discern true repentance from mental assent and lip service.