Social Issues

5 reasons why everyone needs an ISTJ friend

So I’ve been working on outlining a few heavy and serious posts but I have a migraine today and don’t really feel like writing about what the emphasis on procreative marriage does to Christian theology or how purity culture affected my views of marital sex, so instead I’m doing a Myers-Briggs post!

A word on personality tests like Myers-Briggs: I’m not totally convinced of how accurate these things are, but I have found the Enneagram and Myers-Briggs personally helpful. It was nice to have some parts of myself that I’ve been critical of affirmed in a positive, healing way. Some things are actual problems, and some things are allowed to be personality quirks, and figuring out the difference is a relief.

However, in all the articles I’ve seen float about the web on how awesome ENFJs are (seriously, do ENFJs own the internet, or is that just me?), or how to love your ISFP friend, I’ve never bumped into one on ISTJs. So I’m writing one. Because we’re amazing. Even if we’re supposedly the Stannis Baretheons, Owen Larses, and Severus Snapeses of the world (upside: we’re also the Spocks of the galaxy, so).

1) We’re Extremely Dedicated

One of the more complimentary nicknames for ISTJs is The Duty Fulfiller (less flattering ones, in my opinion, include The Judge and The Inspector). This comes out in a variety of ways, including the fact that we keep our promises, are among the most responsible people you’ll ever meet, and that we are reliable and dependable. But when it comes to our friends, we plain just do not give up. Ever. Once we’ve decided you’re our friend, that’s basically it for us. You’re our friend, and we will cross hell or high water for you. It might take you a while for you to cross that line from “person I don’t totally hate” to “yes take all my kidneys,” but once you do, you’ll never experience loyalty like you will from an ISTJ friend.

2) We’re brutally, terrifyingly honest

How is this a good thing, you wonder? Why would anyone want a “terrifyingly” honest friend? Well, we’re more than just straight-shooters. We don’t do cloak-and-dagger stuff, passive-aggressiveness gives us hives, we don’t leave hints and clues and expect you to just intuit what we’re thinking (the reverse is also true: if you don’t tell us something, we’re guaranteed to have no idea what your problem is). If we have a problem, we’ll either a) know it’s a big enough deal to tell you or b) swallow it and let it go.

The best thing about all of this is that you’ll never be left wondering where you stand with us. There’s no “oh you’re just saying that.” You can trust us to mean what we say. So when we say you’re awesome, we like you, we think you’re smart and pretty and courageous– it’s the Lord’s honest truth. Also our advice is awesome and everyone should take it.

3) We play by the rules

Remember all that talk about being dependable? Well, in friendships, it also means that not only do you have a loyal friend for life, you’ve also got a friend that abides by traditional social codes and mores. We value things like civility, patience, and we definitely do not do things like stab you in the back. Betrayal of any kind is anathema to everything about who we are.

Another upside is that you know we can be trusted to do our best to embody the concept of friend. We take our commitments seriously, and when we say you’re our friend, we do our best to act like it. We defend you to others who are gossiping about you. We’ll bring you chicken soup when you’re sick. If you need to us to drop everything and come right then, we’ll be there in brightest day and blackest night.

4) We see and remember everything

This is the the “sensing” part of ISTJ coming out. And I do really mean everything. Depending on the way our individual brain works, we’ll remember all the addresses of every place you’ve ever lived, all the phone numbers you’ve had, your birthday, your pet’s birthday, your mother’s birthday, the anniversary of [Important Life Event]. We know all your preferences– your coffee order at your favorite coffee shop, your favorite song to listen to when you’re angry, that poem you once mentioned got you through a hard time in your life.

We also keep track of all the wonderful, meaningful, amazing things you’ve ever done or said, and we love you for it.

Also, we know where all the skeletons are in the closet of the person you despise, and we know where the bodies are buried.

My favorite part of remembering everything is that I am a fantastic gift giver. No, seriously. I am the Best Gift-Giver In the Entire World. You exclaim over that adorable hat? We remembered that hat come Christmas. You once mentioned years ago on a whim that you wanted peonies for your wedding centerpieces? Well, if we ever have a reason to buy you flowers, it’ll be peonies.

Obviously, right along with “remembers everything” is “incredibly observant.” We notice you, and we’ve made you important enough to where we pay attention. We have a lot of things flying at us that it can get overwhelming at times, but you– you are the priority, and everything that happens to you matters to us. You can count on us to say “hey, what’s wrong?”

Keep in mind that “observant” and “perceptive” are not the same thing. We’ll notice, we just might know what we’re noticing. We’ll ask, but you’ll have to tell us.

5) We’re the best freaking planners ever

Yes this means that spontaneity isn’t really our scene. Just don’t expect us to be thrilled with anything that involves the words “carefree,” “spur of the moment,” or “carpe diem.” However, give us the time to plan for an event and it will be baller. We are the best researchers, so we will find the cutest little bistro and brunch spot you’ve ever been to. We’ll know about that tiny little hole-in-the-wall shop that has everything you’ve ever wanted inside.

When you’re with us, everything will probably go smoothly. We’ll have obsessed over every single last detail, from making sure the conversation is sparkling to every single last dietary need is met. Everything is done as far in advance as possible, and you’ll be left with nothing but bringing the vegetable tray. We’ll know exactly how much time we’ll need from getting from point A to point B, and we’ll know how to make sure everything gets there. Ever want to take your friends on a road trip? Ask an ISTJ to come with you, and you’ll have every campsite/hotel/hostel/restaurant/gas stop accounted for with six different possible routes.

And we’re introverts– so while we are the Preparedness Royalty, you know you’ll be at the center of our attention. You’re our friend, and we did it for you when we would literally rather die before doing it for anyone else.


Anyway, those are just some of my observations based on various ISTJ profiles and what I’ve personally experienced. ISTJs need all the love we can get on our moisture farms and potions dungeons.

Photo by Bailey Weaver
lies women believe

“Lies Women Believe” review: 215-242

If there’s one thing that doing all these reviews have taught me about writing non-fiction books, it’s to avoid getting repetitive in the last two chapters. A lot of what Nancy covers in this last part of Lies Women Believe she’s already been over in different ways before. However she’s not completely unoriginal, so let’s dive in.


That she thinks the above is a “lie” … all I could do was laugh– mirthlessly. Honestly, I’m even a little surprised she was able to write this section with a straight face, because it seems really obvious to me that if our circumstances are different, we would be different. If I hadn’t been abused, I wouldn’t have PTSD. If I’d been treated for anxiety as a child, I’d already have coping mechanisms for it as an adult. If I hadn’t been homeschooled … and it goes on.

Granted, that’s not the direction that Nancy’s thoughts went, but she’s ignoring a mighty big elephant to do so. She talks about things like frustrated parents who supposedly “wouldn’t have lost [their] cool if [their] child hadn’t filled the dryer with water and painted the living room furniture with butter!” (218), and what pops out to me is that these people aren’t really talking about how patient (or whatever) they are overall, but that they are acknowledging things like stress is real. They’re saying “these circumstances aren’t ideal for me.”

I agree that things like your kids trying your patience doesn’t give you the right to treat them or other people poorly. Being an adult means managing these feelings and responding appropriately. But, not all situations are created equal, and we’ll see that come out in a bit.


She focuses on the rhetoric of “prosperity gospel” proponents in this section, and on this I agree with her without reservation. If you haven’t seen John Oliver take down the various televangelists who made the prosperity gospel A Thing, then you should.

However, Nancy makes one mistake: she confuses people think they should always be perfectly happy with people generally want to avoid suffering. She paints this picture of how good it is that we suffer, that it makes us holy. This is nothing new for Christian rhetoric– I imagine almost all of us have heard something similar before.

I certainly don’t have a monopoly on suffering. But, one thing my life has taught me is that dealing with suffering is complicated. If you asked if me if I’d go back in time and stop myself from entering an abusive relationship, I honestly don’t know what I’d say. I ended up at Liberty because of the need to take my life in a different direction, and I met Handsome because I was there. My life with Handsome is pretty damn amazing.

But is being a rape and abuse victim “worth” this? I don’t know. What I do know is that I will do everything I can to make sure other people aren’t rape victims, and I’m concerned with this “suffering is good because it’s what makes us holy!” rhetoric. I want to make the world a “better place,” and that means eliminating suffering.


And by that she means:

The Truth is, a moment or two from now (in the light of eternity), when we are in the presence of the Lord, everything that has taken place in this life will be just a breath– a comma. (224)

This is another consequence of dualism: she reduces the value of this earthly, physical life in favor of the “light of eternity.” It’s a blithe dismissal of people like me, offering us nothing more than a “cheer up buckaroo, the next fifty years don’t really mean anything!” Except that they do, and we know that they do.

But that’s not my biggest problem with this. My biggest problem is that it naturally leads her to advocate that people stay in violent, abusive, unhealthy situations because, after all, if this “comma” of an experience doesn’t matter when compared to eternity, then we can put up with pretty much anything, right? A woman in a “painful” marriage, after listening to Nancy speak, says that “time is short and eternity is long” (224) and decides that she’s not going to do anything about the pain in her life.


First off, this section completely ignores those who struggle with suicidal ideations; she dismisses people who have chronic and severe depression with “all of us have had seasons when we feel we just can’t keep going” (227).

I mentioned earlier that Nancy seems unaware that not all situations are created equal, and we see that here:

  • I can’t take one more sleepless night with this sick child.
  • I can’t continue in this marriage.
  • I can’t bear to be hurt one more time by my mother-in-law.
  • I can’t keep making it with three teenagers and a mother with Alzheimer’s living in our home.

Some of the things she’s described in this chapter are flexible, and some are not. Staying up with a sick child is a fact of life, and you push through it– but that doesn’t mean you can’t ask for help or do something to help yourself. My mom took care of her grandfather with dementia and it was hard; she made sacrifices of time and even health.

But a mother-in-law who hurts you? That, you do have choices about. You can set boundaries– there’s nothing written in the universe that says you must speak to any person, even your mother-in-law. You can leave a bad marriage.

Nancy, however, sees all these things as the same: all must be endured. This is the natural conclusion of her “suffering makes us holy!” thinking. Even wanting to escape an unhealthy or outright abusive situation makes us a sinner in her eyes.


This is the most repetitive section– in a way, the entire book has been about this for Nancy. Two things lept out, though. The first one was when she was quoting Larry Crabb:

Helping people to feel loved and worthwhile has become the central mission of the church … Recovery from pain is absorbing an increasing share of the church’s energy. And that is alarming. (229)

I spat out my tea. Because what is this. It’s so theologically awful it compelled me to look up who Larry Crabb is– and oh, look, he’s the spiritual director for the American Association of Christian Counselors. A man whose entire profession is based on helping people said that about how “alarming” it is for the church to focus on the how Jesus said “they shall know you by how you love one another.” I’m sorry, if you have a problem with the church loving people then I don’t know what to tell you.

The second bit was this:

Over the next several years, her marriage and family life became increasingly rocky. There was a vicious cycle of abusive behavior and language … At one point, Cindy left her husband for two weeks, intending to divorce him; through a series of circumstances, God gave her a new compassion for him, and she returned home. (232)

She tells this woman’s story for three pages, and it is clear that her marriage never improves and her husband remains abusive– and her children refuse to have a relationship with either of them, unsurprisingly. Nancy also makes it clear that she thinks this woman’s actions are praiseworthy.

It fits perfectly into her permanence view of marriage, and it demonstrates how frustratingly clueless Nancy is. That “God gave her a new compassion for her abusive husband” is such bullshit, and it’s rage-inducing. Every abused woman thinks this. God had nothing to do with it. Women attempt to leave abusive relationships six or seven times on average because they have “compassion” for their abuser. Their abusers do everything possible to make absolutely certain their victims feel this way. We go back over and over because we’re convinced that our abusers need us.

This wasn’t compassion, and to refer to an expected result of being abused (seriously! This is Abusive Relationship 101-level shit right here) as something God did is just … it’s sick.

Thank God we only have one more week of this.

Social Issues

mass shootings are a feminist issue

If you haven’t heard about the mass shooting that took place at Umpqua Community College yesterday, the New York Times gives a decent summary of the facts we know at this point– which, honestly, isn’t much. There’s been a lot of speculation about what drove this particular attack. I followed the #UCCShooting tag for a few hours last night, and the dominant consensus was that the police weren’t releasing the shooter’s identity because they were a bunch of “libtards” who didn’t want to admit that it was a “radical Muslim” who’d “targeted Christians.”

That theory came about because one witness has said that the shooter was asking if any of his targets were Christians, and others who are the friends and family of victims have made similar statements. While I don’t believe that these people are lying, I’m doubtful that this person intended to target specifically Christians because he hated Christianity just that much.

I feel that this man wanted nothing more than attention, and one of the best and guaranteed ways for a mass shooter to garner as much attention as possible in this country is to invoke Columbine and Cassie Bernall. Making Christians think that they’re being persecuted is a surefire way to make sure your story makes it into — and stays in— the popular consciousness. The only reason why I heard of Columbine, back before social media and “going viral” was a thing, was because of Cassie.

I think he “targeted Christians” for the attention because of two reasons. The first reason is that the experts say that mass shooters exist because of the attention we give them.

We’ve had twenty years of mass murders, throughout which I’ve repeatedly told CNN and our other media that if you don’t want to propagate more mass murders, don’t start the story with sirens blaring, don’t have photographs of the killer, don’t make this 24/7 coverage, do everything you can not to make the body count the lead story, don’t to make the killer some kind of anti-hero. Do localize this story to the affected community and make it as boring as possible to every other market. Because every time we have intense saturation of coverage of a mass murder, we expect to have two more within the week.

Dr. Park Dietz

The second reason is that he said he was doing this for the attention on 4chan’s /r9k (one of the places where #GamerGate was spawned, and is a board dedicated to “relationship advice”). He posted his intentions, added that “This is the only time I’ll ever be in the news I’m so insignificant,” and was encouraged by the community and given advice on how to kill as many people as possible.

I’ve read through that particular thread multiple times, and it’s clear from that thread as well as breakdowns like this one (only go there if you can stomach it) that the /r9k community is filled with self-described “betas,” who are pretty obsessed with how wronged they are by women not having sex with them. Even though the shooter didn’t state that he was doing this because women had wronged him like the Isla Vista shooter, the instantaneous reaction in the thread was to call this “The Beta Uprising.”

And then this happened:

4chan 1

“If only he had been consoled or had a [girlfriend] then maybe he wouldn’t have went off the deep end like this and many lives would have been saved.”

4 chan 2

“A [girlfriend] could have prevented this … state mandated [girlfriends] when?”

4 chan 3

“If only he had a girlfriend this wouldn’t have happened. We need to save the troubled souls not make fun of them. You all make me sick.”

4 chan 4

“If only he had a girlfriend he wouldn’t have resorted to this. #betalivesmatter”

4 chan 5

“Also it’s because all the girls date douchebags rather than the [Original Poster] or moi.”

That last one especially made me sick because it’s apparently possible for “willing to commit mass murder” not to appear on someone’s “this makes you a douchebag” list. The whole thread made me sick because it was essentially a bunch of people either praising the shooter, calling him “legendary,” or saying that it’s women’s fault that this happened. We’re not willing to date mass murderers and that makes it our fault.

The feminist critique of that should be obvious, so I’m not going to spend much time on it.

We know that these mass killings usually happen because men want attention. Women do similar things, too, but much more rarely, and for different reasons. There’s been a lot of conversation happening recently on toxic masculinity, like with the #masculinitysofragile tag on Twitter, and it seems intuitive to me that actions like mass shootings are an outgrowth of this reality in our culture. Boys are taught from a very early age that violence and aggression are two of the principle methods to gain respect– when you combine that with how men aren’t allowed to respond to their emotions in natural, healthy ways, the result is that men frequently respond destructively. Often that includes suicide, but it often makes it possible for men to be violent in ways like mass shootings.

However, I think this is bigger than just toxic masculinity. I think it’s our entire patriarchal culture. Toxic masculinity tells men that they need to be dominant and aggressive, but patriarchy tells men that they have a whole plethora of rights. Among these “rights” are things like “I deserve to have women sleep with me.” Most relevant among the messages that patriarchy screams at men is that they deserve to be at the top of everything– to be in control of the money, of government, of companies, of universities, of departments … Patriarchy tells men that if they are not the center of things, if they do not have total control of their environment, that they have to do something to assert their masculinity and superiority.

Sometimes this means abusing their partners.

Sometimes this means neglecting their families in favor of overtime.

Sometimes this means mass shootings.

As a friend put it: “entitlement is a hell of a thing.”

Gun violence in America is a real concern, and I think something fundamental must change in our gun laws in order to avert these kinds of situations in the future. But, I don’t think that largely unregulated firearms and ammunition is the only problem. Some would like to use the red herring of “mental illness,” but more and more often these people are telling us exactly why they’re willing to commit these acts. In Charleston it was blatantly racism. In Isla Vista it couldn’t have been more clear that it was misogyny. And now, in Oregon, this shooter felt robbed of the attention he felt he naturally deserved– from women and society– and he was willing to murder people in order to get it.

Feminism is an answer to this problem. We know that when gender parity and egalitarianism becomes common, violence declines. It is not a given that society must be this violent, must be this wracked with terror and grief. Feminism has taught me to prioritize empathy and understanding, and I believe that if those were to become the virtues of our society– instead of power and wealth, the virtues of white supremacist capitalist patriarchy— our world would be a much better place.

And maybe, just maybe, mass shootings would become a thing of the past instead of a daily reality.

Photo by John Spade
I really wanted to get out and do some star shots while in Tassie for 10 days but the weather was conspiring against me.  Wet and cloudy in a week packed with other evening activities I took a chance on Boxing Day to drive up to Cradle Mountain.  It was so completely spur of the moment I didn't even pack so much as a jumper, by midnight I was freezing as the camera was doing its thing (and it was still twilight, I wasnt hanging around for that in the cold).  But boy is it a beautiful night sky, I did not do it justice, though I thought the satellite was cool.  I also hadn't considered the drive home, which is dangerous in the dark on windy roads packed with animals darting about.  2 unfortunatley went to a better place despite my best efforts, so too, did a Samyang lens cap.  A last interesting note, I couldn't get closer to the lake because a fellow photographer was doing a 12 hour time lapse, that red spot is not noise it's his camera doing its thing.  He was seeping in the car and rugged up for the arctic.  Clever bloke.
Social Issues

Star Trek made me a moral person

When I was eight, I became obsessed with the concept of the morality tale. I had a children’s book with some of Aesop’s Fables in it, stories like “The Fox and Grapes” and “The Ant and the Grasshopper.” A friend of ours who lived in Korea sent back a collection of Korean folk tales, many of which have the same feel as Aesop’s Fables, the same sort of simple moral lesson. To this day those books are among my prized possessions, and I am very much looking forward to sharing these works with my children, if I can have them.

When I was ten, I wrote and illustrated a story about a fox and a turtle that featured my burgeoning love of wit and dedication– in some way the fox was trying to be crafty and lazy, but the turtle outwitted him and got him to do most of the work. I was immensely proud of that story even though I can’t remember most of it now– there was something about rocks and apples and a wheelbarrow?– and I’m pretty sure mom still has it tucked away somewhere.

In many ways I’ve outgrown the simplicity and ease of those stories. Part of growing up is realizing that the world is much more gray than it is black and white, and that the good guy doesn’t always win. Now, I like my villains complex and my heroines flawed, and I love stories that shine a bright, jarring light on our humanity, on all of our brilliance and shame. Sometimes I want a story where the “moral” is:

“It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. This is not a weakness, this is life.”

That quote is from a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode. Captain Picard is speaking to Data, a character I’ve always identified with, explaining a lesson that can be a difficult one to truly grasp.

I often joke that my earliest memory is the theme song to Star Trek: The Next Generation. The series premiered the year I was born– in fact, the first episode aired in the same month. Even when we were in the fundamentalist cult we still prioritized Star Trek. We didn’t have cable while Voyager, Deep Space Nine, and Enterprise were airing, so our neighbor recorded them for us. New episodes of Voyager aired on Wednesday, and every week after church my sister and I would fly out of the car and breathlessly rush to our neighbor’s door in order to pick up the VHS tape.

Voyager was more my church than church was, really. I idolized Captain Kathryn Janeway, and one of the more upsetting experiences of my childhood was the finale of season five, when the last shot makes it look like Janeway might have been killed. I grieved all summer, hoping and praying that she would be alright. (Yes, I’m aware I care about fictional characters way too much. If you want to see a show, ask me about Egwene al’Vere from the Wheel of Time at some point.)

What I didn’t realize was that my deep and abiding love for Janeway and Seven and Jadziah and Data and Picard and Trip was changing me. Episodes like “The Outcast” later became the context I had for understanding and loving myself as a queer person. The entire story arc of Star Trek: Enterprise‘s third season, which aired in 2003, helped form and shape my views on foreign policy and the War on Terror. Enterprise culminates in the forming of the Federation of Planets, something that Archer came to fight for after realizing that war– even war in the name of “national security”– is terrible, and that violence must not be favored over understanding, trust, and relationship.

Star Trek, in many ways, is a modern morality play. There’s more nuance, more shades of grey, more complicated human realities, but what it does best is feature people with all their flaws and beauties struggling to make the world a better place. Sometimes, they fail. As Chakotay learns in “The Year of Hell,” sometimes even your best and purest motives are wrong. In Star Trek, though, winning is defined not by typical notions of success and wealth and power, but by understanding. When characters learn more about themselves– like Data learning about fear in Star Trek: Generations– or about other people, nations, planets, and species, that’s what the show considers a success.

My priorities and values were affected by growing up in a fundamentalist cult. Hatred and fear overrode almost anything else I absorbed through my religion, but somehow Star Trek mitigated all of that. In many ways, the different shows became a North Star of sorts; I didn’t have a God that I knew loved me, but my idea of love was shaped by watching all the different ways– flawed, terrible, beautiful, sad ways– that the characters cared about each other. Even today when I think of a concept like friendship I see Data and Geordi, Tom and Harry, Janeway and Seven, Jadziah and Kira. When I try to picture kindness I see Deanna Troi. When I want to embrace strength, purpose, and conviction blended with compassion I ask myself “What would Captain Picard do?”

Many people criticize the sorts of work people like me do with geek culture. It’s just a damn show for crissake they’ll say, belittling the conversations we have about whether or not such-and-such show or film is sexist or homophobic. Who cares if Buffy the Vampire Slayer has a problem with consent? Why bother getting all bent out of shape over Whedon’s infertility = monster in Avengers: Age of Ultron? Why care about the way women die in comic book adaptations?

This post is my answer: because media matters. I was fortunate that I grew up on a steady diet of Star Trek. I could have been imbibing shows with much more toxic masculinity, misogyny, and homophobia than I did, but instead I was gifted with a story whose main focus is trying to show us what we could be like at our very human best.

Photo by Scott Cresswell
lies women believe

“Lies Women Believe” review: 193-214

I didn’t think it would be possible to be happy about writing another segment of my Lies Women Believe review, but it is 100x better than dealing with being hacked. I’m pretty sure we’re all good for now, and I am crossing my fingers that never happens again.

This week is Nancy’s chapter on emotions, and part of me just wants to refer you to the How to Win Over Depression review, because it covers a lot of the same ground. But, she throws in her own twists, so let’s tackle them.

The first problem is the gender segregation:

More than anything else, it is probably our female emotional makeup that sometime causes men to throw up their hands and say, “I give up. I just can’t figure you out!” And, in a sense, who can blame them? (194)

She’s been talking about the range of emotions women feel and how we’re shifting through emotional states constantly and how men don’t do that and those poor babies just look at how confused we make them. Two problems: men are not unfeeling robots, and this framing is sexist.

I looked at her list of emotions– confused, ecstatic, angry, frustrated, sad, confident, happy, lonely, and depressed– and thought back over this weekend with my partner. Over three days he was confused, ecstatic, angry, frustrated, confident, and happy (we did maintenance on our cars and watched Michigan crush Brigham Young 31 to nothing). One could argue that my emotional state over this weekend was actually milder and more stable than his (I wasn’t the one working on the cars, and while I know every word of “Victors Valiant,” I’m not a lifelong Michigan fan).

Second, because women are seen as being “more in tune with our emotions,” we’re required by society to do two things: provide emotional labor on demand, and be the “responsible” party in a relationship. Seen an ad recently that caters to just how lazy and incompetent men are at household tasks? It’s the same idea happening here: because men just don’t understand emotions they rely on women to carry the weight. Sure, it might paint men in a slightly negative light (I would argue in this case it doesn’t), but the end result is that women end up doing more of the work– relational or not.


Ok, on the surface, I agree with Nancy. Just because I feel someone might be lying to me doesn’t automatically mean that they are. However, this entire section is a problem because it reinforces one of the biggest problems I’ve had in my life: not trusting my gut.

I’ve read sections from The Gift of Fear, and the bits I’ve read were illuminating. De Becker argues that we should trust our intuition, that it’s telling us something important that our conscious mind may not be able to communicate to us fully. Looking back over the beginnings of my abusive relationship, there were several red flags that made me feel uncomfortable that I ignored because I totally agreed with Nancy: just because I felt something didn’t make it true.

Maybe not, but our feelings are almost definitely worth paying attention to, and are enough of a reason to further investigate an issue, or start a conversation. Our feelings are telling us something, and we can’t just skip on by them with this notion that feelings aren’t grounded in reality (195).


This entire section gets one big NOPE from me. She opens up with a series of hypothetical situations, including this:

You may not be able to help feeling apprehensive about an upcoming medical exam, but that doesn’t mean you can’t stop worrying and fretting about the outcome. (197)

Uhm, no, no I can’t. That is the literal definition of anxiety. My anxiety is not usually severe enough to make me want to go through the process of figuring out which medication I need at what dosage, especially not in this strapped-for-competent-doctors area, but I have been diagnosed with anxiety. Sometimes, it gets really bad, like when I first figured out I had a wheat sensitivity. There were a few weeks when I couldn’t stop thinking that maybe I was allergic to everything now and I would never be able to eat again and I was going to literally starve. I knew those thoughts are the kind known as “intrusive” and that they weren’t real, weren’t based in reality, were contradicted by every shred of evidence, but it didn’t stop me from having a panic attack every time I tried to eat something for two weeks.

The next two pages are ripped-completely-out-of-context verses used as platitudes. God said you’ll never be alone so feeling lonely is a lie (198)! The Bible says “don’t worry!” so there’s no situation that could ever happen to anyone worthy of feeling anxious about it (199)!



She means menstruation and “PMS.” Quick note about PMS: I can’t tell you the number of times my totally legitimate frustration has been written up to “PMS.” Donald Trump did it recently when he said a journalist had “blood coming out of her … wherever.” PMS- as it’s commonly understood in my culture– is largely an urban myth. It doesn’t mean PMS isn’t real, or that the shifts in our hormone balances have no possible effect on mood, but that “PMS” can be used as a weapon to de-legitimize the female experience. We don’t have a real reason to be upset, we’re just bleeding out our vajajays.

But is that where Nancy goes with this? Of course not. She confuses emotions and moods with impulse control (200). Granted, nuerotypical people can have mild impulse control problems, such as things that belong in the realm of bad habits. It’s common for people to chew our nails, pick at scabs, that sort of thing. But then there’s a whole ‘nother plane of impulse control disorders (like trichotillomania, the compulsion to pull out one’s hair. If you’re not familiar with impulse control disorders, this YouTube channel is an excellent place to start).

So while I don’t use my hormones (which with PCOS are even more “out of whack” than for many women) or my pain as an excuse or a means to justify something like me being irritable and snappish, I do have to have grace for myself. No, I shouldn’t bite Handsome’s head off. But that doesn’t mean I need to make myself feel like shit if I do.


For most of this, see the How to Win Over Depression review because she just basically recycles everything LaHaye says. If you needed proof that LaHaye’s mode of thinking is endemic to evangelical culture, here it is.

Nancy does the same thing Tim does: she finds “reasons” for depression completely outside the realm of medical knowledge, like so:

What we do know is that in many cases, physiological symptoms connected with depression are the fruit of issues that are rooted in the realm of the soul and spirit– issues such as ingratitude, unresolved conflict, irresponsibility, guilt, bitterness, unforgiveness, unbelief, claiming of rights, anger, and self-centerdness. (205)

Right here she’s worse than Tim. Seriously– claiming of rights makes one depressed? I’m banging my head into a wall over this, because this is absolutely ridiculous! But it gets worse. A few paragraphs later she calls depression a “temper tantrum.”

Arg gablarg.

The last thing that frustrated me about this section is here:

In the last several decades, we have developed a mind-set that only “professionals” are qualified to help people who are plagued with various emotional or mental disorders. Even many pastors have been made to feel incompetent to deal with these issues and therefore routinely refer to troubled counselees to “the experts.” (210)

Nancy has just amply proven exactly why this “mind-set” is necessary. She just called depression a temper tantrum and talked about impulse control for two pages without ever once addressing the reality of things like trich. She thinks it’s possible for people like me to just “place our hope in God” to stop a panic attack in its tracks. And, hearkening back to her chapter on marriage, she thinks that battered women need to “revere” their husbands (read: not divorce them) or risk losing any chance of being “protected by God” (which gah you’d think if God was in the protecting-battered-women business they’d oh I dunno protect battered women).

For the rest of this, I high recommend these pieces:

Denying the Body of Christ Puts Abuse Survivors at Risk” by RL Stollar
Ministering to Adult Sexual Offenders” (pdf) by Victor Veith, Director Emeritus of the National Child Protection Training Center

Aside: I’ve started a food blog, focusing on oral-allergy-syndrome-friendly recipes, called Cussing Culinaire. I’m having a lot of fun with it.


sick butterfly

I am crucified: chronic illness in Christian culture

[content note: menstruation]

I’ve talked about being diagnosed with PCOS and dealing with that on top of other chronic illnesses like fibromyalgia, and if you’ve been reading for a while and are the sort to notice patterns, you’ve probably picked up on the fact that I tend to disappear for a few days every month. I used to feel guilty about that, but, over time, I figured out that I didn’t have to. I realized that you, lovely readers, are some pretty amazing people who aren’t sitting behind your computers clicking refresh every MWF. If I put a post up, great– if not, well, you get that I’m a person and sometimes Life is a Real Thing that Happens.

What has taken me a lot longer to realize is that it’s ok to take care of myself.

Technically, my periods only feel like I’m going to die. Chances are pretty good that no matter how much pain I’m in, and how much moving around makes me want to scream, I’m not really doing anything to hurt myself if try to stand up and walk around. For years I muscled through the pain: I showed up to work, I went to class, I fed myself.

For the past few years, though, I haven’t had those sorts of obligations. I work from home. I can cook food ahead for the week and Handsome warms it up and brings it to me (usually a fantastic recipe I have for sweet potato and roasted pepper bisque). If I don’t have to get out of bed and move around … I don’t. In some ways, this has been a little more of a struggle mentally than dragging my heavily-medicated self into work. During that time, I often feel weak, useless- a waste. I joke sometimes that I feel like “an oozing amorphous blob that cries.”

But I made a sort of a breakthrough this last period. Going to the bathroom on my period is always … an adventure. I grit my teeth and scream through it, and then have to face the Mt. Everest of getting back into bed. Up until last week, even if Handsome were home I would force myself to walk to the bed, shouting something like “Never give up! Never surrender!” in my head.

never give up

I had linked my ability to “muscle through the pain” with some sort of moral quality. If I could force myself to deal with the agony, then that somehow made me a good person who wasn’t “giving up” or “giving into the flesh.” But, last week, I went to the bathroom, and then I did what, in retrospect, is only logical: I crawled back to bed on my hands and knees. If Handsome was home, I waited for him to come help me walk doubled-over, leaning on him so I didn’t have to use my abs. I’ve let him do that for me in the past, but this time, when we got to the bed, I let him lift me into the bed– another thing that hurts a lot, but another one of those things I felt that I had to do in order not to be “giving in.”

Accepting help, accepting my limitations, is something I haven’t been able to do very well, and it’s an ongoing thing. In many ways American culture reinforces this message with all its talk about “no pain, no gain” and “pull yourself up by your bootstraps,” but Christian culture adds another layer. We call it “dying to self” or “crucifying our flesh,” and it forces a nightmare onto people with chronic illness.

I’ve had a few conversations about this topic recently, and it affects a lot of people. When I was teaching classes at Liberty, I would receive a notification about the students in my class who had some form of learning accommodations. Very often, these students would later approach me to let me know that they “didn’t need to use them.” The first few times this happened, I let them not use the accommodations. Over time, though, I realized that these students really did need them, but felt like a failure of a student if they did. I started not giving them an option. If they showed up in my class on test days, I sent them to the testing center where their test was so they could be free to take their test in a distraction-free, no-time-restraints environment.

Another friend is going through a lot of health problems at the moment, and she was worried about calling into work sick, even though she had an incredibly legitimate reason. She was afraid that her boss would see her as flaky– and while that absolutely can happen to people with chronic illness, I’ve experienced it first hand– I knew her boss has seen her show up to work during times when many other people would have taken sick leave. In encouraging her, I mentioned that “most regular people don’t think that crucifying yourself is an ideal.”

That’s really been the crux of it, for me: I was taught that I was to crucify myself, and they weren’t being entirely metaphorical. Self-martyrdom is considered one of the best virtues out there in Christian culture. I should “count my chronic illness all joy” and be thankful that God had given me a thorn in the flesh. If I could push through the pain, then I was doing something bordering on holy.

It’s amazing how many different ways Christian culture teaches self-flagellation. It’s sad that I’ve had to take so many years unlearning it. Slowly, it’s getting easier for me to not see my limitations as a weakness, but as a neutral trait. Having pain does not make me a bad person. Needing help does not make me morally weak.

[update on the hacking: I finally figured out what was going on: Someone hijacked my domain name for illegal BitTorrent download spots. The e-mail and RSS feed problem was a side-effect of that, as they are automatically sent out when “new content” is added, regardless of whether or not that content is authored by an authorized admin. I’m keeping a very watchful eye and working very closely with Flywheel to get this resolved as soon as possible. I’m so sorry you all are being affected by this.]

Photo by Eliezer Borges
lies women believe

“Lies Women Believe” review: 167-192

I think it’s possible that we might be over the hump as far as how terrible the chapters can get. The only sections left for the Lies Women Believe review cover children, circumstances, emotions, and the concluding segment. The “Emotions” chapter might be a bit rough, but today’s, compared to last week’s chapter, is a cake walk. Of course, almost anything compared to a doctrine that could kill women seems like a breeze.

This week’s chapter covers what Nancy thinks about children, which means an extensive discussion on, you guessed it, family planning.


She roots her argument in setting up what I view as a false dichotomy: God is the “Creator, Author, and Giver of life” while Satan is “a destroyer of life” (169). According to her, this means that only people who agree with Satan (shiver) would ever consider not having as many children as God sees fit to give them.

I think there are two problems with this, and I’ll start with the most obvious: according to the typical evangelical position on the Bible, God is very much in the business of “destroying life.” He orders mass genocide and infanticide repeatedly throughout the Old Testament, and depending on which view Nancy takes of Revelation, the incomprehensible death toll represented in the Old Testament will be dwarfed by the End Times. There are plenty of defenses of this “genocidal, infanticidal, pestilential god” (as Richard Dawkins put it in The God Delusion), but regardless of how you go about justifying this, if you believe that God ordered those mass killings, you don’t really have a whole lot of room for this “God is about Life, Satan is about Death” argument.

The second problem is that deciding not to get pregnant in the first place isn’t a conversation about “destroying life.” It’s a leap to say “Satan wants to destroy life and therefore you should not practice any family planning!” Nancy’s not just talking about hormonal contraception, too, but any form of sterilization or NFP, so this isn’t about whether or not the Pill is an abortifacient (which it most definitely isn’t). She’s trying to get us to believe that preventing life and destroying life are the same thing, but fails.


She also tries to argue that “A generation had to be indoctrinated in the ideal of planning children around personal convenience before abortion could become popular” (170). Factually, she’s just wrong. The abortion rate didn’t change significantly after Roe, and any change could be attributed to the reporting differences. What we do know for a fact is that even though reported abortions climbed after Roe, they have been steadily declining ever since.

Also, abortion is old. Like dawn-of-ancient-civilization old. From pennyroyal to quinine mercury to crocodile dung, people have been near desperate not to be pregnant for basically as long as we’ve been getting pregnant. We didn’t need to be “indoctrinated into family planning” to want abortion.

Two more problems with this, and then we’re done.

The process by which most people– even “believers” determine the size of their family is often driven by fear, selfishness, and natural, human reason :

  • How will we ever provide for more children? … What about college tuition?
  • I can’t physically handle more children. I’m exhausted trying to take care of the two I already have.

She lists others, but those two really shine a bright light on how out-of-touch Nancy is. Many people who are having abortions aren’t worried about college tuition, they’re worried about food. Babies are extremely expensive, and unless you’re also willing to subsidize childcare and massively expand WIC and SNAP, you need to sit down and shut up.

As for the second one, pregnancy is dangerous, especially in the US. Many women should not become pregnant because it could kill them; if it doesn’t kill them, it could radically and permanently affect their health. In my case, it is entirely possible that pregnancy could wreck my body pretty bad. With my fibromyalgia and endometriosis, keeping up with multiple children could be more than merely “exhausting”– it could be impossible.

Last problem: she quotes Paul from I Timothy, telling younger widows to “marry,” (171), but somehow oh-so-conveniently forgets I Corinthians 7:8, where Paul also says that young widows should “remain unmarried, as I am.”


She uses the “greenhouse” argument in this section (175). If you’ve never heard it before, it’s basically saying that children are too delicate and exposing them to “the elements” of “The World” will destroy them. She uses her own life as an anecdotal proof: she was almost totally unaware of major world events and pop culture, and this is why she’s such a godly woman now. In her words:

I did know what few other young people knew. I knew the difference between right and wrong. (174)

Just … the sheer hubris of this is boggling. Also, the idea that children should grow up inside a “greenhouse” that locks out any possible negative influence is a driving force behind conservative religious homeschooling, and if Nancy can use her own life as a “proof” of just how wonderful this “greenhouse” is, I should be able to use my life as a “proof” of how disastrous it can turn out. I can point to my “sheltering” as one of the biggest reasons why I ended up in an abusive relationship and raped.


When I was a teenager, I was solidly convinced that a “rebellious stage” was completely unnecessary, and my lack of experience with one made me better than other teenagers. I knew my place. I knew to respect my elders. I knew that “throwing a tantrum” (read: expressing a healthy emotion, like disappointment or anger) was completely and utterly uncalled for.

I never had a teenage rebellious stage, but what happened instead was I directed all the pent-up frustration, anger, rage, disappointment, fury, sadness, and melancholy inward, and it became an extremely toxic bath that I stewed in for over a decade. Being cut off from the experience of a “teenage rebellion” ensured that I wouldn’t have a healthy way to handle, express, and process strong emotions– and after watching many of my adult friends who grew up like I did try to figure this out, I’m confident asserting that nothing good comes of this anti-teenage-rebellion attitude.

The second disagreement I have with Nancy about this is that while experimenting with drugs and related paraphernalia isn’t a necessary component of growing up in America, individuation absolutely is. One day we realize that we are not our parents, and that’s actually a good thing. I was able to assert my own identity as separate from my parents when I started graduate school, and it was rough having to go through that process so late, as a living-by-myself adult.


While Nancy is right about one thing– just because one “prays the sinner’s prayer” at four, five, six years old doesn’t necessarily mean anything. As a universalist, obviously I put a lot more stock into “actually bothers to act like Jesus” as my definition for Christian, but I watched other children growing up pray the sinner’s prayer half a dozen times over the course of their childhoods, so it seems obvious that the “sinner’s prayer” when you’re really young doesn’t mean as much as staying committed to the religion as you age.

However, Nancy goes on to give women a meter for determining whether or not their child actually is a Christian, and it bothers me because it’s based on an extremely narrow interpretation of Scripture. She uses various selections from I John, and includes things like “this is how we know we are in him: whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did” and “if anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

In a way, I agree with this: if “Christian” means to “be like Christ,” than being like Christ is sort of, I dunno, important. I do my best every day to live as Jesus did– to embrace the marginalized, the oppressed, the poor, to take care of those in need, to live a radical life committed to equality and love. I try not to “love the world”– to accept oppressive power structures, to ignore systemic and institutionalized racism and classism, to live by the motto that “greed is good,” to base my definition of success on power and wealth.

Pretty sure that’s not at all what Nancy thinks, though, not with all her bits about how “homosexuality is an example of a life-destroying practice” (169).

Nancy does what basically every other conservative evangelical does: she take her interpretation of certain passages and holds them up as things every “believer” agrees with, and that not agreeing with her interpretation means that one doesn’t have the “necessary fruit.” It’s a convenient way to dismiss anyone who doesn’t think exactly the way you do.

fighting leopards

working on it

I wanted to let you all know that I am aware of the ongoing problem, and that I’m doing what I can to make those ridiculous e-mails stop as well as to remove those “posts” from the RSS feed. Because I’m using a full-service host I have to wait on them to look at the backend of things, but I’ve done everything I can in the meantime. There doesn’t seem to be any malware, I’ve made sure my plugins, theme, and software are all as up-to-date as possible, and I’m keeping a careful eye on login attempts and other suspicious-looking things. For now, that’s all I can really do until Flywheel gets back to me.

I know this is frustrating, and I thank all of you for your patience with me as I try to get this sorted. I realized I could subscribe to my own blog so I could see what you were seeing, so thank you for all your amazing help but you can sit tight now and forget about them. For RSS/Feedly/Bloglovin’ subscribers, you’re seeing the same posts that are being e-mailed, so just ignore those for the time being.

Hopefully we’ll be able to move past all of this soon and I can get back to the better parts of running my own blog.

Photo by Tambako

sorry for the spam, everyone

A few of you, my lovely subscribers, let me know that they’d received an e-mail supposedly as part of their subscription to my blog that looked like spam. After looking at the e-mail, I discovered that it was content supposedly authored by “Preston,” who was the Flywheel support person who helped migrate Defeating the Dragons to

I removed “Preston” as an administrator of my blog– I’d kept him on in case I needed any technical help, but obviously for security reasons he needed to be removed. I’ve also let Flywheel, my hosting service, know that “Preston” might have been hacked.

This post is just to let you know that I was made aware of the problem and I believe I have taken the necessary steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again. If any of you receive further e-mails from my blog that look like spam, please let me know.

jumping teenagers
Social Issues

despising our youth: ageism in fundamentalist culture

In the fundamentalist cult I spent the bulk of my childhood in, encouraging the young people toward being an active part of the church community was one of the supposedly important goals. At one point, we moved toward a more “family integrated” model, and the “pastor” eliminated any separate activity for the teenagers. We no longer had our own Sunday school, and “youth group”-type events were basically outlawed. The idea was that too many teenagers were disconnecting from church once they reached adulthood, that they expected “youth group” to continue all their life. Welp, that wasn’t going to happen in our church, no sirrey.

At around the same time we started having “Youth Night” one Sunday evening a month. For that service, the kids and teenagers would do everything– lead the music, make the music, usher, pray, and preach. In theory I still think it was a solid idea. If only the adults in our church treated the teenagers with anything approaching respect.

I’ve talked about my experience as a teenager in fundamentalism before, about how I was given the nickname “sub-adult” after a game of cards. That label was humiliating, especially since it was used by the various adults at church to humiliate me. They used it against me any time I did something to make my presence known– like have an opinion, or assert my own wants or needs, or make a suggestion.

A little while ago I was having a conversation with my mother about that “sub-adult” moniker, and she said “well, you were doing something immature,” and what came erupting out of me shocked me with the truth of it:

“Yeah, maybe I was being immature. But so was she. Calling someone names isn’t exactly a mark of maturity. I was a teenager– some immaturity is normal, and should be a teaching moment, but no one ever called her on the fact that she was being cruel and petty. No, she was the ‘adult,’ so whatever she did I had to accept.”

That’s when it struck me that as much as being tortured with a humiliating nickname hurt me growing up, I’d never really questioned the authority of the adults to do that. All that time, while I inwardly seethed, it was mostly internal: I was largely angry with myself for failing to be the flawless young person they demanded. It never really occurred to me to that I question their behavior, or call it what it was: they were worse than bullies– adults using playground tactics to attack a child.

It never occurred to me because it would never in a million years have occurred to them that they could be wrong about how they treated their children and teenagers. Being the adult was what made them right. I’d been forced to accepted ageism as just a fact of life.

The worst thing is that this attitude hasn’t even remotely changed, regardless of how old I become. In interactions I have with older fundamentalists (and, frequently, more moderate Christians), the fact that I’m twenty-eight, married, with multiple degrees and plenty of life experience in things they’ll never understand (like being an abuse victim and queer) … none of it matters. They were an adult when I was a child and that’s it for them.

Recently, Slate published an article by Jessica Huseman on the ways the Homeschool Legal Defense Association has made it almost impossible to protect homeschool children from abuse. When Huseman questioned Farris (the founder of HSLDA) about people like me who are advocating for more oversight and protection for homeschool children, this is what he had to say:

He dismissed both organizations outright, calling them “a group of bitter young people” who are “fighting against home schooling … to work out their own issues with their parents.”

He’s talking about HARO and CRHE, organizations that were both founded by fully-grown adults, men and women in their 30s, who are married, who have children. For comparison, Michael Farris was 32 when he founded HSLDA. And yet we’re the “bitter young people.”

I was told all my life to “let no man despise thy youth,” but if there’s been something made perfectly clear to me over the last few years is that there are always limits to what “The Adults” are willing to tolerate. They think we’re fantastic when we’re bashing each other, writing think pieces on just how entitled millennials are. Write a post on how young people these days are just so willing to abandon orthodoxy and they will share the shit out of that.

But disagree? State a strong opinion? Assert that your views and experience matter and … nope. End of all civil discourse with them. The second we’re not bobbleheads, we’re “bitter young people.”

It took me a long time to realize that I can look at the words, actions, and beliefs of other adults and interact with them as another adult. No, I don’t have 50-60 years of being alive on this planet, but I do have experiences with something many adults will never have. I was raised in a cult. I grew up as a bisexual woman in Christian culture. I experienced a modern incarnation of purity culture that they didn’t have to live through. I came of age in a completely different economic reality. I’ve been through the process of completely re-evaluating every single last thing I believe.

I am the authority on my life, and I am a person, and that makes me equal. It means that my point of view and perspective matters just as much as anyone else.

Photo by Ciokka