Saturday, December 24, 2011

Thoughts on Christmas Eve: Michael Pearl vs Joseph and Mary

Some time ago, I pulled some material from Alice Miller's The Truth Will Set You Free to post on Overcoming Botkin Syndrome which speaks specifically to the problem of family dysfunction within patriarchy. Today, Christmas Eve, I'd like to draw from my blog post there to consider a stark contrast to Michael Pearl's approach and to introduce some new material concerning him. I strongly suggest that people who are interested in the subject of Pearl read Miller's book For Your Own Good as well as the aforementioned work.  You can read more excerpts as they apply to patriocentricity HERE.

Miller wrote about the “poisonous pedagogy” or the “black pedagogy” as it translates from German, a term which describes oppressive practices that people use when raising children.  She defines this term as the kind of parenting and education aimed at breaking a child’s will and making that child into an obedient subject by means of overt or cover coercion, manipulation, and emotional blackmail” (from the preface). . .

This section appears in The Truth Will Set You Free in the epilogue entitled “From Ignorance To Knowledge and Compassion.”  (In my edition, this section appears starting on page 190 and concludes with a section appearing on page 195.)  The book speaks of “generational faithfulness” as old patterns of dysfunction, of how parents unknowingly use their children to medicate their old pains of the past.  The whole chapter speaks respectfully of the Bible, but it draws into question the traditions of men (emphasis mine).

The figure of Jesus confounds all those principles of poisonous pedagogy…  Long before his birth Jesus received the greatest reverence, love and protection from his parents…  His earthly parents saw themselves as his servants… Would it not make eminent sense to encourage believers to follow the example of Mary and Joseph and regard their children as the children of God (which in a sense they are)?

[T]he members of the upcoming generations will have the courage to call evil by its name…It is high time to relinquish the destructive models and to mistrust the principle of obedience.  [Please read more about the culture of blind obedience versus the culture of virtue HERE.] We have no need of docile children brainwashed by their upbringing to be ideal targets of seduction by terrorists and lunatic ideologists, ready to fall in with their commands even to the extent of killing others.  Children given the respect they deserve from their earliest years will go through life with open eyes and ears, prepared to fight injustice, stupidity, and ignorance with arguments and constructive action.  Jesus did this at the age of twelve, and the scene in the temple (Luke 2:41-52) demonstrates eloquently that, if need be, he could refuse the obedience his parents asked of him without hurting their feelings.

With the best will in the world we cannot truly emulate the example of Jesus.  None of us were carried by our mothers as the child of God; indeed, for far too many parents, children are merely a burden.  What we can do, provided we really want to, is learn from the attitude displayed by Joseph and Mary.  They did not demand docility from their son, and they felt no urge to inflict violence on him.  Only if we fear the confrontation with our own histories will we need to have power over others and cling to it with all our might.  And if we do that it is because we feel too weak to be true to ourselves and our own feelings.  But being honest to our children will make us strong.  In order to tell the truth we do not need to have power over others.  Power is something we only need in order to spread lies and hypocrisy, to mouth empty words and pretend they are true.

Now, on to the stark contrast offered by Michael Pearl.

Please be forewarned that the individual who introduces this specifically edited material from Pearl has selected items that will portray him in the worst possible light, and he uses a term of vulgarity in his introduction of the video clips of Michael Pearl – clips that No Greater Joy would rather you not see unless you are one of their true believers. Though not in complete context and despite the offensive language in the introduction, I believe that it demonstrates the callousness that Pearl brings to the discussion. Pearl's material is offensive, so I don't know that it's entirely out of place.

I encourage the reader here to go directly to YouTube to save a copy of this video, because Pearl has already attempted to censor the material. In this clip, the offensive language falls at 42 seconds into the video, and the introduction concludes at time mark 1:17.

If the video doesn't automatically display, link to it HERE while it is still available.

Regarding the clip, The Why Not Train a Child? website transcribes from the clip and poses these questions:

If he screams too hard with the first 5… gets hysterical… Wait… You know, a little psychological terror sometime will affect even the pain.” Said while waiving a switch over the rag doll’s behind. He couldn’t possibly be advocating using psychological terror on your child, could he?

Thumping them on the head? You’re worried about that??? [turns to wife] Give me another question.” I’m trying to figure out how this quote was used in a Biblical context and falling short. I’m sure that someone will have an answer for me.

If your husband is an angry man, make love to him, make him happy.” This seems to be the advice given to a wife who asks how to deal with a husband who only disciplines in anger. It would seem that he is saying that his anger is his wife’s fault because she is not giving him enough sex. But I must be misunderstanding, because that does not sound Biblical to me.

[switching rag doll] “So I give them 5 more, so now get up” [makes doll sit, it's showing a frown] “Still got a bad attitude” [whack whack whack] “Get up” [checks again, still frowning] “I’m going to say, ‘You’re still crying… I’m going to give you something to cry about.” This sounds like he’s saying to keep on switching the child until he stops crying. I’m sure he must say at some point when to stop switching because they are making it look like this could go on for a long time. And why would a man of God teach parents that they should punish a child until he pretends to be happy? For the child to force himself to smile and pretend to be happy means that the child must pretend be something he is not, the very definition of hypocrisy. Surely he is not advocating forcing a child to sin! Our Lord, Jesus Christ, reserved His harshest condemnation for hypocrites.

I am trying very hard not to judge unfairly. This video comes from a secular source and was clearly edited to cast Mr. Pearl in a negative light. My purpose here is to provide arguments to counter his teachings, not to slander him. This is clearly a hatchet job, I need to know what his arguments really are in order to counter them. For that reason I linked to the video (removed by NGJ by Copyright Claim)  so that someone can explain this to me.

The source of this video offers other clips concerning Pearl's material, and I've been hesitant to present them here because of the offensive language. Today I offer them.

On this day of celebration of the Advent of the Messiah, I challenge people to consider that Joseph and Mary offer us a far better example of how to raise a child with respect as opposed to trying to dominate them into docility. How do we celebrate Jesus on days that are not holidays? How do we live out the love and honor of our faith, and how do we model that and teach that to our children? I'd much rather look to Joseph and Mary, just as Alice Miller poses the challenge.


Concerning the discussion of the Schatz Family on AC 360, The Mudbrooker offers this critique. Note that the critic uses an expletive at time mark 5:32 and 10:27.

Link directly to it HERE if it doesn't display automatically.

Please file this away and enjoy the spirit of the day, but I hope that you would think about the parenting style of Joseph and Mary.