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I’m here, I’m breathing

It’s been almost exactly two months since I published my last post. That’s not the longest dry period the blog has had, but it is the second longest– and I wanted to let everyone know that I’ve been thinking of you and that I miss you and writing here in this space.

Every February, I know that seasonal affective disorder is a thing I have and that I’ll have to deal with, and even so every February it manages to surprise me. Handsome had to remind me pretty much every day that when my body literally dumps me on to the floor and says “you’re not getting up, you’re stuck there, nah na na nah na” is not because I’m a lazy ne’er-do-well but because I’m sick. And, like always, “I don’t believe you,” seemed like the appropriate response. I don’t think I’ll ever understand the conversation I have with myself every year:

“Sam, you have like six things to do today. You need to stop staring at the wall and do them.”
“Yeah, well, have you thought about maybe just staying here for no reason?”
“No, seriously. Things. To. Do.”
“Well, I’m the one controlling your arms and legs and your ability to climb stairs so nyah.”

So that was February. The depression started to fade in March … and then I got the flu, and then the flu again, and then a bizarre stomach virus that took me out of commission for a week. I never get sick, so that was an actual shock, unlike February. I haven’t had a stomach bug since I was five, and that’s not an exaggeration. The only time I’ve thrown up since then was an adverse reaction to a medication, and that was over ten years ago. Amusingly, having a can’t-even-keep-water-down-for-two-days sickness doesn’t really hold a candle to what happens when I eat a breadcrumb, so it wasn’t even really that bad.

In the midst of all of that, I’ve planned, run, and attended so many meetings. So. Many. For whatever reason people trust me enough to put me in charge of things– which I both love and hate them for– but trying to keep up with Chairwoman Hat and Seminarian Hat and Resistance Organizer Hat has been about all I can manage– Writer Hat ended up on the shelf. But, I think I’m recovering now, and I’ve decided that the Seminarian Hat is going on the shelf for the summer (instead of taking summer intensives), and Resistance Organizer Hat is being downgraded to Resistance Participant Cap.

That being said, I have three more meetings this week, several more interviews to conduct for my research project, three books to read, and a term paper to start researching for, so I’m probably going to be disappearing again for a while. I am continuing to tweet things, so look for me there (@samanthapfield). I hope everyone is having a lovely spring!

Photo by Lindsey Turner
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stuff I’ve been into: October Edition

Happy Halloween! As you might have been able to tell, Halloween is my favorite holiday, and recently I bumped into this post talking about Halloween as following in the steps of inversion festivals— which made me realize that’s why I love it so much. It’s not just that Halloween was forbidden for us Christian fundamentalist kids, it’s that Halloween as a holiday represents everything that fundamentalism opposes, and that’s why I love everything about it.

Last month I mentioned all the craft projects I was doing, so here’s a quick glance at some of the final results:

spell-books spell-book-on-desk

I was very happy with the way everything turned out, and I’m still delighted by the image of Tim LaHaye rolling over in his grave at the thought I turned his Left Behind series into witchcraft decorations.

Articles on Feminism

I for one appreciate the fact-checking “fad” reporters are doing on politicians– it’s been far too acceptable for politicians to tell half-truths and lies for expediency’s sake, and I hope this trend of calling them out on it continues (although some people are apparently annoyed by it, which I don’t understand). However, this article by Soraya Chemaly highlights that fact-checking can only go so far in the endless tide of culturally-enforced misogyny in her article “Fact Checking is Largely Irrelevant Because Deceit is not What’s Causing Moral Outrage, Clinton’s Gender Is.”

In a class of articles that I call “explaining the obvious” we have for you this month “Women Negotiate for Raises as Much as Men. They Just Don’t Get Them” by Emily Crockett.

I’ve been following the crises Baylor has been experiencing because people discovered they were covering up rapes committed by their athletes and other students. It got worse this month when the Title IX coordinator resigned because she wasn’t being allowed to actually do anything (video at link).

This is How They Broke Our Grandmothers” by Natasha Chart was powerful reading.

In the “women are wonderful and I love them” category, here’s “How First Ladies on Opposite Sides of the Civil War Forged an Unlikely Bond” by Hadley Meares.

I’ve mentioned before that the re-told fairy tale is perhaps my favorite genre, as are pretty much any books that are original fairy tales. Uprooted by Naomi Novik takes the cake in that category in my opinion. This essay from the editor of a collection of fairy tales (The Starlit Wood, which I now desperately need), Navah Wolfe is wonderful: “Wicked Girls Saving Themselves.”

This article, “Laughing Until we Cry: Conversations about Getting Flashed, Grabbed, and Gropped” by Liz Meriwether, has prompted a lot of thought for me over the last week. In it she asks us to re-consider how we approach the casual assault on our bodies that we can face almost daily.

Articles on Politics

We’re just about a week out from November 8, when all of this hullabaloo will hopefully be over. However, that doesn’t mean that this election cycle hasn’t exposed something important about American culture, and I think we need to understand what’s been happening and why. “Finally, Someone Who Thinks Like Me” by Stephanie McCrummen is a profile on a Trump supporter, and was interesting reading.

Articles on Race

If you’re not aware of #NoDAPL and the Standing Rock protests, get aware. Everything I’ve been seeing makes me cry, and also absolutely bewilders me. It’s somehow still incomprehensible to me that I’m watching a dystopian novel acted out in the Dakotas.

How To Talk about #NoDAPL: A Native Perspective” by Kelly Hayes.

A History of Native Americans Protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline” by Alexander Sammon.

Assorted Articles

A linguist named Benjamin Bergen has written a book on swearing, which of course is relevant to my interests. He looked at what swearing actually does for people and to people, and found that hey! there’s a difference between swearing, verbal abuse, and using slurs! No kidding!

This story about faith healing exemptions, “When Religious Freedom Leaves Children Dead” by Emma Green, is necessary reading in my opinion. These exemptions need to be abolished everywhere because they are horrific. And keep in mind that many of the same people who are voting for Trump because “pro-life Supreme Court Justices” also think they deserve the legal right to murder their born children through vicious medical neglect.

Books

Whoever told me that The Paper Magician was going to be underwhelming … you were right. I’m still very excited by the magic system and will probably read the rest of the trilogy because I want to see where it goes, but the central plot of The Paper Magician was not satisfying.

Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich is, however, completely delightful. I’m not fond of the initial interactions between the two main characters, but it is funny and easy to read– something I need in between dense seminary texts.

Speaking of, if you’re interested in really understanding hermenunetics and how to interpret the Bible, Scripture as Communication by Jeannine Brown is exceptionally good.

TV and Movies

I just watched the second part of Hunger Games: Mockingjay, and I enjoyed the movie better than the book. I don’t think the first movie adaptation went very well and Catching Fire was only slightly better than average, but the way that Mockingjay deals with everything the characters have been through goes better than in the book, I think.

I absolutely loved the first Jack Reacher movie so I was excited about the sequel Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. I know the title is from the book it’s based on, but the movie did not explain the “never go back” bit very well. Otherwise, though, it was a highly enjoyable beat-’em-up action movie and I liked the addition of a more substantive role for a woman than what we got in the first movie.

We’ve been watching Conviction because Hayley Atwell is in it, but so far I’m not impressed. The episodes so far have been incredibly formulaic, but I do like some of the characters. Tess Larson is especially intriguing. Hopefully the writers and the directors work out the early-season kinks soon.

Designated Survivor has been interesting because of its complete reversal on Kiefer Sutherland’s character in 24. He’s basically the anti-Jack Bauer in this show.

All my CBS shows are back, though, so yay! More Elementary and Madam Secretary for me. ABC, you need to step it up.

Photo by Thad Zajdowicz
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Announcements!

Y’all might have noticed that over the past few months I’ve made the occasional reference to applying for seminary. I first thought about the idea I think almost two years ago now, and spent a lot of time researching options. I tried to apply to a few places, but kept bumping into a few roadblocks– namely, the fact that my undergraduate degree is unaccredited. Most of the seminaries I wanted to apply at wouldn’t even consider me. Some that would, like Calvin or Fuller, where just … a little too conservative.

But, in January I found out about United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities when I was at the Gay Christian Network conference. I explained my situation to the spokesperson there, and he gave me the Director of Admission’s number directly so I could talk about it with him. Our phone conversation was promising– he understood where I was coming from, and he said I could apply without worrying that my lack-of-an-accredited-degree would affect me.

Well, last week, I was admitted!

Starting September 1st, I will be a student again. It’s exciting and terrifying, but I’m happy and grateful. I’m looking at course lists and the like, and seeing possible course offerings such as Comparative Religious Bioethics is tickling me silly. I’ll be pursuing the Social Transformation concentration, and I think it’s going to be fantastic. I’m not sure what my course load is going to look like over the next few years– I think I’m going to start out with two courses at a time and see what happens.

There’s also another thing being added to my plate: for the next few months my workload at the bookstore is basically doubling. Not to unmanageable levels, and overall I’m happy about it, but between seminary, managing a bookstore, dealing with all the travel I’ll be doing, and trying to make sure my fibromyalgia doesn’t wipe me out, the one thing that’s going to have to give  is the blog.

I’m going to keep up the Redeeming Love review– I’ll have a post up today, in fact– and I might write a few posts when I can, but the schedule is probably going to be a little bit inconsistent until I figure out what life is going to be like and my schedule returns to normal at the bookstore. It’s possible the papers I’ll be writing for seminary classes can be recycled into blog posts– let me know if you’d be interested in seeing those!

Anyway, I’m very excited to be stepping into this new chapter. Hopefully it’s a good one.

Photo by Funca
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“Radical” review: 43-60

David opens up this chapter of Radical with a horrifying story.

In it, he relates how a seminarian from Indonesia (his name is Raden) was in a village where the local witch doctor challenged him to a fight. Even though Raden was trained in martial arts, he declined by saying “My God does the fighting for me.” Supposedly, at that moment, the witch doctor starts gasping for air and within minutes has “fallen over dead” (44). Raden goes on to use this as an opportunity to “share the Gospel” with the villagers. Everyone, as you might expect from these sort of “missionary tales,” converts on the spot.

Over the next page, David totally embraces the concept that God took direct action to literally kill a man so that Raden’s message would appear more powerful and convincing to the villagers. While he says that this isn’t a method we should try to duplicate (no shit, David), he doesn’t doubt that God did do this– which makes me wonder why he thinks this isn’t something we should attempt again? Apparently, the death of one man was worth it to God at least in that instance. Why not others? If God did it, why shouldn’t we “make pronouncements that lead to their deaths” (45)? The whole point of this chapter is that we’re completely ineffectual without God’s involvement. Isn’t it true from David’s perspective that if God did something– even when it looks like murder– it’s ultimately a good thing? “God is sovereign” and all that?

However, he doesn’t even bother acknowledging that question.

~~~~~

Throughout the rest of this chapter, David returns to one of the principle messages from chapter one– that the American evangelical church has adopted the “American dream” and strayed from our original design and purpose. He re-launches into this argument with:

To this point, we have seen how the American dream radically differs from the call of Jesus and the essence of the gospel. This differentiation is heightened when we contrast trust in the power of God with reliance on our own abilities. (45)

All I could ask was uhm… how exactly have we seen that? He’s ranted a bunch about how wealthy we are in comparison to underground house churches in Asia, and he’s condemned “the American dream” a bunch, and he’s ranted about what the Gospel really means a bunch, all without giving me anything truly concrete to work with. He doesn’t think easy-believism is the reality of the Gospel, and has shouted a bunch of Calvinistic stuff about how we’re sinners and God hates us, and he thinks padded pews might need to be tossed out to save us from our apathy, but … it all has just been a rant so far. He hasn’t put forth a substantive argument.

Here, though, he tries a little bit by giving us a slightly-less-fuzzy articulation of “The American Dream”:

… we can do anything we set our minds to accomplish. There is no limit to what we can accomplish when we combine ingenuity, imagination, and innovation with skill and hard work. We can earn any degree, start any business, climb any ladder, attain any prize, and achieve any goal …

The dangerous assumption we unknowingly accept in the American dream is that our greatest asset it our own ability … But the gospel has different priorities. The gospel beckons us to die to ourselves and to believe in God and to trust in his power. In the gospel, God confronts us with our utter inability to accomplish anything of value apart from him. (46).

Ah. He means meritocracy.

Like him, I’m frustrated with the concept, largely because it’s a lie. My partner is an excellent example: he’s intelligent, talented, and a dedicated, earnest worker. He accomplishes a lot at his job, and is routinely recognized for his significant contributions. I’m proud of him, and he deserves every award, every raise, every glowing performance review.

But.

But, he’s only there because he has a master’s degree from one of the best engineering schools in the world. He has that degree because his father paid for it out of pocket. His father was able to do all of that because his father paid for him to get an engineering degree. His grandfather was able to do all of that because he was an engineer at the booming Chrysler company. His grandfather could do all of that because he came from a reasonably comfortable farming family who were able to survive the Great Depression and make sure their kids were all able to go to college and do things like become extremely successful engineers and neurosurgeons.

At least four generations of wealth, prosperity, health, and education led to the place where my upper-middle-class white male partner is an up-and-coming leader in his department. That’s meritocracy for you: the prevalent belief that the rich and educated don’t help each other.

So yes, in a way, I share David’s frustration with the concept. However, instead of recognizing any of that, he slams to the complete opposite end of the spectrum: he believes in our utter inability to accomplish anything of value apart from God.

I really don’t want to live in David’s universe because it seems like a maddening, frustrating place. Through the next few pages he relies on the word desperation, saying:

Think about it. Would you say that your life is marked right now by desperation for the Spirit of God? Would you say that the church you are a part of is characterized by this sense of desperation? (60)

… which reminds me of a conversation I keep having with people. If they’re approaching religion from a typical evangelical way of understanding concepts like “personal relationship with Jesus,” and they read my blog, they’re probably going to walk away from here feeling somewhat dissatisfied with my lack of … well, evangelical-ness. I’m not bursting with talk of how God has worked in my life, our recounting ways that I’ve been just so blessed. There’s no stories here about how the spirit of God moved on my heart, or how I was convicted or “given a word,” according to whatever parlance you’re used to.

So, from David’s understanding, no, I’m not desperate for the Spirit of God, but it’s not because I don’t think we should be. I just have a different perspective on what this means. In many ways– most ways, probably– I am extremely desperate. Desperate, at times, is the only word to describe what I feel.

I am desperate for the unceasing tide of misogyny I have to wade through every single day to end. I am desperate for the police brutality and white supremacy in my country to be repented of and eradicated. I am desperate for trans people to be loved and accepted, for them to be able to grasp the healing and wholeness that is– or should be– out there.

Yes. Desperation is the only word that fits. And I pray. I do. I’m still uncertain what possible point prayer serves, but my soul eternally cries out to someone to just make this all stop.

But then I realize that the “someone” I’m asking for help is me. And it’s you. Unlike David, I don’t think we are “utterly incapable of accomplishing anything of value” without God’s direct intervention. I believe that God, unlike what David argues, uses likely and unlikely tools (53). Sure, they asked someone with a speech impediment to become a public speaker. But, they also asked Deborah to become a judge of Israel, and the record we have of her leadership is one of boldness, confidence, and competency.

Evangelicals like to tell stories like Gideon and Moses and Peter and Saul– the unlikely men, the people who seemed most unsuited for XYZ position. They embrace these narratives and argue that our abilities, our talents, are fairly irrelevant to God. In fact, the more pathetic and broken you appear to be to everyone else, the more likely They are to use you. Just to be sure that everyone “gets the message” that it only happened because God did that, and not because that person was smart and capable.

But what about Joseph, who was an excellent administrator? What about Lydia, who was a beloved community organizer? What about Phoebe, a proficient leader? Or the person(s)who eventually recorded the Gospel of John, a thematically beautiful written work?

All of this, to me, begs the question: what do people like David really mean when they say we can’t do anything “apart from God”? Do they mean that God gave us all the talents and abilities, so anything we do is ultimately their doing? Do they mean that God took direct action and planted the ideas for the granaries in Joseph’s head, a la The Chairman from The Adjustment Bureau? That God put the words in place before the author of John could write them down?

This is why I find these arguments frustrating. In a way, they’re unfalsifiable. Whatever David does mean by the “Spirit of God enabling us,” there’s nothing one way or the other that supports or disproves him. He can say literally anything he wants.

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news and updates

It’s been almost exactly a month since I posted anything, and I will admit this pop-in isn’t an announcement that I’ll be returning to a regular schedule now, sadly. This holiday season has been and will continue to be more than just a little hectic, so while I’ll be writing a few posts now and then, regular blogging probably won’t pick back up until January 18.

So, what’s been happening? Well, I finished my Hebrew course on Wednesday. That class kicked my butt for some frustrating reasons, and I’ve decided not to continue on with Hebrew because it would be the same instructor and textbook, both of which were migraine and panic-attack inducing. So. Back to my original plan of doing French in order to finish all the requirements for my graduate degree (technically, I finished the program and I got to walk, but until I’ve completed two years of a foreign language I can’t get the piece of paper). The fact that Liberty University is an “open canker on the face of Christianity” (as I called it in a facebook status last week) doesn’t really motivate me to finish getting my degree from them.

But, I can’t start French until September next year, so between now and then I’ve decided I’m going to throw all my energy into writing my book on why complementarianism is abusive. I don’t think it will change the posting schedule, as spending more than two days a week researching complementarianism is probably not a great idea for my mental health.

Last week I had a sharp pain in my back that I thought might be a UTI or a kidney stone, so I spent the evening in the ER. Turns out it’s a hemorrhagic cyst or hematoma or something on my kidney. The pain has faded to a persistent soreness that feels like I pulled a muscle a few days ago, and it’s unclear whether or not this problem can resolve on its own. Turns out cysts on your kidney are somewhat normal, but if it’s connected to my endormetriosis, it could be a sign that it’s worse than I thought it was and I might need to have an ablation done this year. Considering those have a four-month recovery window, I’m not looking forward to it. Your thoughts and prayers are appreciated.

In the more immediate future we’ll be visiting family for Christmas, trying to close on our house, moving, and I’ll be attending the Gay Christian Network conference in Houston, presenting on “What’s Next for Bisexuality in the Church?” with Eliel Cruz and Sarah Moon. If you’re planning on being at the GCN conference, maybe we can do a meetup if there’s time? Speaking of the conference, the only reason why I was able to even consider going is because of my Patrons, but if you feel inspired to do so, I’ve created a way to make a one-time donation through PayPal. Between airfare, shuttles, the hotel, and food, every little bit counts (especially since my new wheat allergy means that basically all fast food is out, so food while traveling just got very expensive). Anyway, it’s there if you feel so inclined. 🙂

Next up in the review series is Radical: Taking Back your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt. This book is a little unusual for me since it’s not focused on gender roles, but I think it’s worth tackling in a review series. It has nine chapters, but I may be able to do two chapters per week depending on how it goes, so we’ll see how long it takes. That starts on Monday.

Taking this month-long break has been really good for me. I’ve been very busy and a lot of stuff has happened, but it’s the first time since I started blogging that I’ve taken an actual vacation instead of a “working vacation.” I love all of you so much, but not checking comments/facebook/twitter multiple times a day has been relaxing.

Anyway, see you all on Monday, and I hope your season has been merry and bright so far.

Photo by Mick Baker
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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
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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 samanthapfield.com.

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.

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“Lies Women Believe” review: 135-167

This week’s Lies Women Believe review covers the chapter I’ve been dreading– the chapter on marriage. It was as horrific as I was expecting, and re-reading the sections I’d highlighted when I was in abusive relationship with a rapist made me sick all over again. I know this for a fact: the ideas Nancy argues for in this book keep women in abusive relationships.

So, let’s dig into this miasmic pile of filth, shall we?

I HAVE TO HAVE A HUSBAND TO BE HAPPY

It’s a good thing she started this chapter off with this “lie,” because it’s the only thing she actually has any experience with. She’s been a single woman in a Christian culture obsessed with marriage, and it’s a good idea to bring this up. I’m a happily married woman, and I thank my lucky stars every day that I met him and we fell in love. But, I’ve been in abusive relationships and I dated a lot of lackluster people, and I can tell you without a shade of doubt that I’d rather be single than stuck in a marriage with some of the people I briefly considered “settling” for.

However, instead of focusing on “singleness can be fulfilling and happy,” something Nancy at least hopefully knows about, she instead concentrates on how women shouldn’t value being happy. Amidst a lecture on how marriage is about “sanctifying each other and glorifying God” (137-140), she stresses just how ridiculous it is to expect a “fallen” man to make you happy.

Personally, I sorta get this. One of my favorite lines from Emma Thompson’s Sense and Sensibility adaptation is “there is something bewitching in the idea that all of one’s happiness can depend entirely on any particular person.” I don’t think it’s healthy to make one person the locus of all your desire, happiness, attention, interest, or activity. We are complicated individuals, with a variety of needs and wants, and it is impossible for only one person to fill all those needs. That’s why we have parents, siblings, friends, communities, peers, coworkers.

But that’s not the direction she takes this. Instead, she encourages women to focus entirely on how their unhappy relationship is supposed to make them a better person and glorify God.

IT IS MY RESPONSIBILITY TO CHANGE MY MATE

Again, agree with the general idea but not the execution. I cannot fix my husband. If my partner has flaws (which he does, he is not perfect), it’s not my responsibility to get him to see the error of his ways, to “whine, nag or preach” (141) at him until he stops having that flaw.

You can probably hear the “but” coming from a mile away.

I can reasonably expect to have my boundaries respected and for us to communicate honestly about what we need or expect from each other. For example, right away Handsome made it clear that I could ask him to do something, but I could not specify exactly how it was to be done. He would do it his way, and if I wanted it done another way, I would do it myself. This sounded reasonable to me, and I agreed. The one exception is the shower– I’m not physically capable of cleaning it every time it needs cleaned, but because I have trauma-related shower stuffs, he cleans it exactly the way I showed him.

I also have an expectation– I react extremely badly to being told that something I’m upset about is “just a ____” like “just a bad haircut” or “just a random asshole on the internet.” He doesn’t intend to belittle or dismiss my concern, but I haven’t been able to adjust to that after three years of being together. If I hear the phrase “it’s just a _____,” I feel dismissed. He respects that, and doesn’t say that particular phrase anymore.

These are the negotiations of being married, of sharing a living space with someone else. Boundaries should be respected. Concerns should be listened to. Agreements should be reached. Communication should happen.

That’s not what she advocates for. Nope. Instead we get this:

The first weapon is a godly life, which God often uses in a man’s life to create conviction and spiritual hunger. When a wife … points out the things she wishes her husband would change, she is likely to make him defensive and resistant. But when she takes her concerns to the Lord, she is appealing to a higher power … that’s a lot harder to resist than a nagging wife! (141)

I call this Passive-Aggressiveness by Way of Piety.

Me saying “hey, Handsome, please don’t do The Thing” is not nagging. I have the right to say that. And I am absolutely convinced that walking around your house, your eyes upturned to heaven, your hands gently folded, hoping that’s going to get your partner to stop doing Whatever Thing is asinine in the extreme.

MY HUSBAND IS SUPPOSED TO SERVE ME

She says “nope, you’re his helper, you help him, silly” which just … lordy does no one have a dictionary, or a concordance? Here, Nancy, you should read up on what ezer kenegdo means and how it’s used in the Bible.

Second, does no one ever bother to read Ephesians 5:21? If being a “helper” means “serve your husband” and “submission” is part of being a “helper,” then … uh, there’s a thing Nancy should probably know about:

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

IF I SUBMIT TO MY HUSBAND I’ll BE MISERABLE

I was actually a little gobsmacked that Nancy baldly makes this particular argument:

The struggle with submission is not unique to women of our day. In fact, that was the essence of the issue Eve faced back in the Garden of Eden. At the heart of the Serpent’s approach to Eve was this challenge: Does God have the right to rule your life? …

He convinced Eve that if she submitted to God’s direction, she would be miserable … From that day to this, Satan has done a masterful job convincing women that submission is a narrow, negative, and confining concept. (146)

I can’t believe I have to say this: men are not God. They are full of flaws, they are imperfect, they can be selfish and cruel and mean and angry just like everyone else. Even if I believed that Eve’s problem was not submitting to God, it is a non sequitur to argue that all women must submit to men or risk “stripping God of his authority.”

Also, she immediately compares grown women to toddlers and likens not being submissive to your husband to running out into the street and being hit by a truck. Women have access to the same amount of life experience as men, to the same wisdom and decision-making abilities, and regardless of how much Nancy tries to insist that women are “not inferior to their husbands” (147), she is arguing that here, and she’s already made that argument when she said women are more easily deceived than men and that’s why the Serpent targeted Eve.

The next bit … I threw the book down and went and cleaned something.

However, even in such a case [physical abuse], a woman can– and must–maintain an attitude of reverence for her husband’s position; her goal is not to belittle or resist him as her husband, but, ultimately, to see God restore him to obedience. If she provokes or worsens the situation [again: PHYSICAL ABUSE] through her attitudes, words, or behavior, she will interfere with what God wants to do in her husband’s life and will not be free to claim God’s protection and intervention on her behalf. (149)

[screaming]

FUCK THAT WITH A CHEESE GRATER, A CHAINSAW, AND A CACTUS.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss has clearly argued here that if a woman “does not revere her physically abusive husband’s position” she has no right to “claim God’s protection.”

And I’m crying.

Related: in the section on “sometimes divorce is a better option that staying in a bad marriage” she heavily emphasizes how marriage is a permanent covenant and makes no exceptions for abuse. The resources she offers on “Domestic Abuse” in the back of the book (270) are two books, both of which argue that there are no exceptions for divorce, not even abuse.

This is catastrophically dangerous and unimaginably evil. An abuse victim must be able to divorce their abusive partner for the simple reason that marriage gives an abuser extremely dangerous privileges and rights that must be removed from them. Period. End of story. Encouraging any other attitude is recklessly irresponsible.

I will shout this into the heavens with my dying breath: complementarianism destroys lives. Complementarianism is abusive. Complementarianism kills.

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This is what ATI teaches families like the Duggars

A few months ago, when the news initially broke about Josh sexually abusing his sisters and others, I wrote a post that examined some of the reasons why his parents were able to cover up what he’d done so effectively: the purity culture they raised their children in blames women for their own assaults. Specifically, they used a program created by Bill Gothard, a man known for sexually harassing women and minors (Josh Duggar received his “counseling” from Gothard’s ministry). This program is known as the Advanced Training Institute (ATI).

I was able to include some of the material that laid out ATI’s approach to counseling abuse victims, and it is horrific. Well, today I’d like to share a few more pieces of information, because it lays out all the reasons why the Duggars (or anyone like them) should not be allowed within spitting distance of TLC’s upcoming documentary.

ati 1

Salient quote:

Do you know what provokes attacks?

  • Evaluate Dress
  • Choose friends Wisely

ati 2

Salient quote:

God has established some very strict guidelines or responsibility for a woman who is attacked. She is to cry out for help. The victim who fails to do so is equally guilty with the attacker.

I decided a long time ago that if that is who God is, I want nothing to do with them. That God is an absolute monster, but that’s the sort of God that fundamentalist families like the Duggars believes exists.

ati 4

Salient quote:

A woman was startled one night by an intruder who broke into her apartment. The attacker stated his intentions, and she replied “You’ll have to kill me first because I’ve given my body and my life to the Lord.”

In this culture it is actually preferable for a woman to die than to “lose her virginity,” even through rape.

~ ~ ~

The Duggars aren’t the only family in America to follow and believe these ideas. The ATI annual conferences see thousands of attendees, and the intersections between fundamentalist Christianity and conservative politics are numerous and influential. This isn’t something we can hold up as an example of extreme fundamentalism gone so wrong it’s easy to make fun of. This shit is serious, and important, because the people who believe these things aren’t fringe. Misogyny and victim-blaming are part of the core values of the homeschooling and Tea Party movements, and that shouldn’t be dismissed.

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new home

This is the first official day of samanthapfield.com, and I couldn’t be more excited about the move. There’s still a little more work to be done, some wrinkles to smooth, but I am so happy with the way the new site turned out.

There’s a few changes from the old blog– most notably the blogroll and ‘posts I’ve liked’ widgets. That means I’ll probably start doing a “here’s some stuff I think you might enjoy reading” post every once in a while. You also can’t follow me through the WordPress app or your WordPress accounts anymore, but you can find me in Feedly, Bloglovin’ and an RSS feed link I’ll add once I figure out how to do that. There’s also plain old-fashioned e-mail subscriptions, which you can see in the sidebar under “Mailing List.”

Anyway, I hope you’ll explore the new digs and let me know what you think!