Thursday, March 29, 2012

How Does Emily Elizabeth Clean Up Clifford's Poops?

Clifford, The Big Red Dog, looks to have the body make-up of a lab.  Every time a lab poops, the pile could be molded into the exact shape of their back leg.  That's a lot of fecal matter!

Now, imagine Clifford.  A pile the size of his back leg - once a day!  Emily Elizabeth is quite small, Mrs. Howard is too nice, and Mr. Howard is cranky and gets surprised easily.  I can't see any of them being able to shovel the stuff on a regular basis.

Say they were able to at least shovel it up?  Where would they put it then?  In the trash?  They would need a large dumpster for their weekly garbage service.  I would think they would be better off contracting with a farmer to come and scoop the turds up and disc it into his fields.  Assuming the Howard family lives close to a rural community, this would be a good compromise.

Still, that solution doesn't address what to do with the poops while Clifford is out for a walk.  In every book, Clifford goes somewhere.  Most of the time, it's an all day affair.  He goes to the fire station.  He heads off to the pool.  He has hiccups and goes to the vet.  Where does he poop?  Emily Elizabeth cannot stuff a plastic grocery bag in her back pocket and expect to grab the steamy stuff up with her gloved hand.  Does she take a shovel and a wheelbarrow with her?  I never see one in the pictures.

I need to know the answer to this question.  No, my KIDS need to know the answer.  Once we have been sufficiently satisfied, we can move on to the subject of Clifford's thrice per day, rivers of pee.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Christians Should Love and Accept Homosexuals

The rhetoric of the day from fundamentalist Christianity, the American religious right, and others is that the god of the Bible, whom they serve, hates homosexuality.  Some say that he even hates homosexuals themselves.  They have good reason to.  It says so in the Bible.

If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination.  They shall surely be put to death. - Leviticus 20:13

Other passages in the New Testament section of the Bible condemn homosexuality, as well, even stating that you will not be able to get into heaven if you're gay (We won't mention drunkards, idolators, adulturers, fornicators, thieves, etc.  You're all going to hell too.)

So, the logical conclusion for a Christian is to say that god hates homosexuals, wants them dead, and even better, the issue is reiterated in the New Testament, validating the issue.

I would argue that you are wrong - dead wrong. 

First of all, as society progresses, our understanding of humanity changes.  We no longer look at an alcoholic as someone who should be cast out of society.  We help them.  But let us look at an argument that was a big deal back in the early 19th century.

At that time in history, many nations, including the whole continent of Europe had abolished the terrible practice of slavery.  If they hadn't abolished it, they had scaled back the practice.  In Britain, the home country was slave free whereas the empire still allowed it.  Much was said in the halls of parliament about abolishing slavery throughout the empire.  It would take many years for this to actually happen, but happen it did.

In America, by the 1830's, many politicians and upstanding citizens had spoken out against slavery and had branded it a "peculiar practice".  This incensed many slave owners and their apologists came out of the woodwork, claiming that slavery was ordained by god himself.  Not only was it ordained by god, but it was good and right.  They had much in the way of proof from the pages of Scripture.

Many passages in Genesis speak of the ownership of slaves as a foregone conclusion.  God even blessed the actions of those slaves that did exactly what their master told them to do - as in the story of Abraham and his servant who went after Rebekah.  Isaac was given many slaves, male and female, so that god could make him the envy of his enemies.

In Leviticus 25, the same God who demanded that homosexuals be killed (the same homosexuals who Paul said could not get into heaven), made it a rule that the Israelites could buy slaves from the surrounding nations.  Israelites could not be slaves.  After the slaves were purchased, God called them property and even sanctioned the bequeathing of said slaves to the sons of the slave owner.  This practice would continue forever, or at least until the slaves died.  At the very end of his rules, god says that the Israelites could not own Israelites.  He ends this rule by saying, "but you can't rule over your own kin ruthlessly."  It would seem that this was a sanction to rule over those who were NOT their kin, ruthlessly.

Solomon made all non-Israelite men, slaves, to do hard labor for his great kingdom while making all Israelite men higher class soldiers.  In fact, the Bible, the inspired word of God, says that they are slaves to this day. 

We can look at it in another way too.  Throughout the Old Testament, hundreds of times, God refers to people who do his bidding as "my servants."  Even the human/God relationship is master/slave. 

Books of the New Testament also refer to slaves as if it is normal.  1 Corinthians 12:13, Galatians 3:28.  Pay special attention to Ephesian 6:5-9.  Paul gives very special instructions to slaves and masters and how they are to treat one another. 

There is much more in the Bible about slavery than there is about homosexuality.  In fact, most of the verses that are referenced in the New Testament that people claim have something to do with homosexuality simply don't.  They are hyper-interpreted to inject this "sin" into the text when many other things could be read into it.

These slavery passages propped up the arguments of the apologists for slavery in those times, but ultimately, they lost.  They lost to the common understanding of the worth of human life in those days.  Prominent abolitionists also made arguments from the same holy text, claiming that, though slavery was sanctioned by God, it shouldn't be practiced today.  They had to go through plenty of theological pretzels to get to that conclusion, but it was still successful.  Slavery was abolished and is no longer a part of America. 

But, keep this in mind.  Slavery is also thundered against from the pulpit.  It is now viewed as a sin.  Holding human beings against their will and everything else that goes along with the practice.  Slavery is spit at, condemned, verbally fought against, and products manufactured by virtual slaves are boycotted from every ministerial pulpit in America.  Then, the condemnation of homosexuals is heavily preached, as well, in many circles of religion.

Why?  Why is slavery, sanctioned by God, re-sanctioned by Paul with rules for doing it right, and spoken of many many times more than homosexuality, a serious problem, while homosexuality - spoken of only a few times, the sentence for which was death, unable to get to heaven because of the practice - is condemned?

Homosexuals are just as human as slaves were.  We abolished the practice of human abuse called "slavery" due to our common understanding of the worth of mankind.  In fact, we poked our finger in God's and Paul's eye to make the argument to do so.  In the same way, we can now abolish the practice of the human abuse of rejecting, ostracizing, and condemning homosexuals.  We have rejected God's words - correctly - about slavery.  We can now - correctly - ignore what the Bible says about homosexuality.

Are you with me?

I. C.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

That horrid customer who happens to be in your party

You've all been there.  You took a special someone, a friend, a group of friends, or even your in-laws out to a restaurant.  You sit down at the table and the worst evening of your life starts.

First, that special someone complains that the air conditioning vent is above her chair so she nudges your father-in-law and in a voice that can be heard three tables over, says, "It's too cold here!  Go get them to turn the air down!"  Then, the menu is too small or has finger prints on it.  The coffee mug has imaginary water stains on it and she studies it very carefully, loudly exclaiming that "there better not be a lipstick stain on here."

Then, the server comes by and she spends what seems to be an hour ordering her food.  Everything needs to be explained to her, even the way the restaurant makes their macaroni and cheese.  The salad dressing is very important as well.  When the restaurant has run out of ranch and only has a spicy mushroom sauce, she brings down the hammer and takes a poll from the rest of the guests, whether or not they had ever experienced such shoddy service.  You look at your napkin and pretend not to hear, aching inside for the server.

Then the food comes and it isn't hot enough or it's too hot.  The onions are too raw or the butter flows too quickly on the plate.  The mashed potatoes have chunks in them.  Anything that could go wrong does.  Then, you notice that the server has been given many tables to serve and is having trouble working the shift as efficiently as she wants to.  But your mother-in-law doesn't notice and treats the server as her own personal servant.

More napkins.  Fewer napkins when more are brought.  Please take this plate....oh...and take this fork too, and with a snap of her capable fingers, tries to get the attention of another guest across the table, getting them to pass their unused spoon. 

At the end of the meal, the talk of the tip.  "She doesn't deserve much.  She wasn't quick on her feet and didn't keep track of us at all.  The food was bad, blah, blah, blah..."

I nod in empty agreement as I write a 40% tip in the Tip column of the receipt.  Someone has to pay for their trouble. 

Nobody likes to be treated poorly.  Even if they do a bad job, an encouraging word will turn it around in time.  What if the server had a bad day?  A bad week?  A bad year?  Family problems can wreak havoc on a person.  Financial issues, as well.  We all know servers are rich and have no problems.

Be kind to those who serve you.

I. C.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Important People Aren't Really That Scary

Different groups elevate various men and women to a status that is close to god-like.  I'll name a few important people and let the reader imagine if they walked up to the person and began a conversation.  What would you feel? 

John Piper.  Mark Driscoll.  Bill Gothard.  Doug Phillips.  Bill Gates.  Barack Obama (any president for that matter).  Incongruous Circumspection.  Scott Hamilton.  Julia Roberts.  Michael Moore.  Julie Andrews.  Warren Buffet.  Kevin James.  Melissa Gilbert.  Sean Connery.  Michael Jordan.  The Pope.  Bill O'Reilly.  Pat Sajak.  Jay Leno.  David Letterman.

I just rattled off twenty-one names. Some of them elicit deep emotional fear in me.  Others, like Julie Andrews, I would walk up to and ask out on a date with nary a heart flutter.  I imagine Scott Hamilton agreeing to go get a beer with me and my bride and spending an evening wrapped in laughter. Michael Jordan would be creepy but I would just show him my perfectly sewn underpants to break the ice.

But, the ones that dredge up wells of fear in me are the religious ones.  The Pipers.  The Driscolls.  The Doug Phillips.  They exude a sort of confidence in what they believe that appears airtight.  Never would they entertain the thought of talking to an imbecile like me - a non-religious, reasoning person.

I am convinced I am incorrect - at least to a point.  I still think Mark Driscoll would try as hard as he can to belittle anyone who disagrees with him to their face.  But it would be easy to stay confident in who I am and let him spout his immaturity and then work the conversation toward a different goal.  He would be fun to spar with.  Or, John Piper.  He would be very confident in what he has to say but would find great pleasure in trying to expound on his beliefs so as to fence you in and win the fight.  That would be quite a challenge, but I think we could have a laugh and part ways - me, a heathen, and he a Christian, confident that he just washed the blood of a sinner off his hands.

These big dudes and prominent women are very good at what they do and yet, most of them are just people - like you and me.  Go out and be confident in who you are.  Invite the president over for dinner and serve ribs with white cloth napkins and no silverware.  There are many creative ways to break the ice.  Some of the most confident people are the most insecure.

You can do it.

I. C.

Friday, March 23, 2012

My Dear Beard...Ok..My Patch of Scruff

An epic song came out in 2010, sung by Ke$ha.  The tune is catchy and it has my kids hopping around our van while we drive down two lane country roads in Wisconsin.  But that doesn't make the song.  Sure, it has a bunch of Gaga-esque randomness (even a squid for a split nanosecond that would make the single worthy of a "thumbs up" from P.Z. Myers) with a playful message about how love can mess with your head, rendering you idiotic while drunk on the elevated dopamine effect - a truism for a culture obsessed by the "meaning" of love.  That's all well and good.

What makes the song is the last four words, "I love your beard."  I have no idea why that works for me, but I enjoy random creativity out of left field, which is very much the reason why I skip past the country stations on my local radio dial.

Maybe I love the phrase because I have scruff on my face that I really like.

When I was a young boy, I was a late bloomer.  My brothers, at the age of 13, sprouted mustaches and had to begin shaving.  A year and a half later, I passed the age of 13 and watched my perfectly smooth upper lip turn more pinkish as the days went by.  I hit 14.  Then 15.  At 15, I had one hair on my lip and I left it.  It was the seed that would begin my efflorescence.

Someone told me that if I shaved once, my hair would grow back faster, thicker, and stronger.  So I shaved - four times a day.  I went to college and met a gentleman with a face that needed shaving five minutes after he touched a razor to it.  He was a fellow of European descent and yet looked downright Arabic.  I noticed he sipped coffee (black, mind you) all day, every day.  I began to drink coffee.  Lots of it.  Not your watered down horse pee you find in a church mega-pot.  Thick black coffee that ran like molasses.  If I could rub my teeth together after a sip without a squeak, I knew the coffee was too weak.  And so my hair grew.

My grooming habits became, well, habitual.  I would shave my face.  Then, three days later, my scruff was absolutely perfect.  The length of the scratchy stuff was downright sexy.  Then, after six days, my neck would begin to itch and I would start scratching.  On the seventh day, I would scratch my neck red, get sick of it, shave, and start the process all over again.  To this day, I still run this schedule, occasionally working in a goatee or a week-and-a-half beard.

Then I got married. 

I met her on the third day of my shaving cycle.  She swooned.  Then I kissed her.  She laughed and said I tickled her nose and that I scratched her.  I stepped back and she swooned again.  I wanted to kiss her, so I shaved and went back for a kiss.  She said I looked too young.

One day, I might try kissing her again.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

An Important Goog Hit on This Blog That Needs Answering

Today, I received the following hit to Incongruous Circumspection from the Goog:

"Are Permission to Live and Incongruous Circumspection married?"

I'll save you some research.  No.  We are not married.  I am married to a beautiful woman named, Kristine.  On the other hand, while Permission to Live is also gorgeous in her own right, she is happily married to someone else.  Our families are good friends and the bonds of that friendship have been growing stronger more recently.

Now, if that disappoints you, I'm not too worried about it.  There is only one woman in this world that could even come close to handling all of my personalities and I have already lassoed the moon for her.

And that's a wrap.

I.C.

The Fridge Was Empty

I'm sitting in my office eating raw cabbage and Mountain Dew.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Medical Foolishness of Bill Gothard

Billy Boy G. sent a team to Peru where he is trying to sidle up to the leaders of that country and fool them into believing that he has all the answers for everything in life.  We know that he is just a fool, propping himself up as an expert.  His shills put out glowing reports on this blog, tracking the daily narcissistic movements of Bill.

On Day Eleven, apparently, Bill happens across some doctors who do medical procedures without knowing why they are doing what they're doing.  One day, they must have thought it was a fine idea to take some stomach and put it in the brain to cure "brain paralysis", or more commonly known, cerebral palsy.  A quick Goog search will reveal nothing of the sort.  (I have a feeling the doctors were pulling the leg of Billy Boy G. and his minions and are now laughing like crazy while Bill goes his merry way, thinking that some sort of meta-physical mysticism cures people.)

Bill apparently mentioned the "mind-body connection" which he links from that blog...oh wait!...that's not a link to an explanation.  It's a book plug!

Anyway, I'll save you the $39.00.  Wha...$39.00!!!!???  Wow!  Well, consider this charity.  Here are the seven daily stresses:

1.  Sort of not feeling stressed at all.
2.  Sort of getting to that point where I'm all stressed like.
3.  Yeah.  I'm stressed.
4.  Holy crap!  I'm really sooooooooooooooooooooooooper stressed right now!!!!!!!!!!!
5.  ARGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!  I can't handle this anymore!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
6.  Nah, I'm ok.
7.  Whoa!  Dude!  I'm flying!.....SQUIRREL!

And that's it.  How you deal with those stresses is up to you.  A bit of nice music, a bowl of ice cream, a bubble bath, and a toe jam removal session, while laying off the coffee at 3AM goes a long way.

Maybe I should go to Peru.

I.C.

Letters From Mama: Flattery and Sweet Lips

I received this letter from Mama on May 1, 2002, exactly eight months after I was married to my beautiful bride, Kristine.  Remember, in her letter imploring me to not get married, she warned me that my life was going to be miserable if I didn't get her permission first.  Of course, I went ahead and got married.  Any man would have if it was Kristine he was getting married to.  She was worth the risk.

Let's read (I have changed the names of some parties for their privacy):
*****
Dearest, dear Joseph,

[Yecht!  Again.  Treating me more like a lover than a son.  I might be splitting hairs here, but it does still strike me as a bit creepy.  Sure, I was pretty freaking hot, but...nevermind.]

Almost a year ago we were over at the Lollapaloosas and on their hallway wall, I noticed plaques with their family's name meanings, and the one for Joseph caught my eye, and I asked Ursula if I could copy it down, and she brought me the sweetest little piece of note paper, farm-harvest-pioneer days illustration, and the verse printed at the very top of it seemed very much a blessing:

God will bless all your harvests. - Deuteronomy 16:15.

[Well gee gads Mama!  Why didn't ye gallivant across that there verse before you wrote me that durn letter back yonder 'fore I got meself hitched, eh?

Get used to the run-on sentences. She
loves them!  ]

Here's what I copied down:

"JOSEPH, Increasing Faithfulness.  The wise in heart shall be called prudent: and the sweetness of the lips increaseth learning. - Proverbs 16:21."

I took it as a promise from God to me concerning you, and saw that it matched the plaque on top of the wardrobe in the boys' room upstairs.

[Wait.  So, a year ago, she came across some plaque that says that God is going to bless me, that I am wise and prudent, and all that lip sweetness crap, and she STILL wrote me a letter telling me that I was an idiot and needed to get right with God (Mama) and not get married?  Why was I a fool then, but wise now?

It's an easy, yet complicated answer.  Mama had this idea from Bill Gothard's seminars and all the hyper-patriarchal (matriarchal?) material we consumed at our church, that it was required of us to get our parent's permission to marry.  She would be against it all the way up until the vows.  Then, a marriage was written in some heavenly book and could not be broken, thus Mama had to accept it as reality.  As much love as was possible then spewed from her, including "love" that reprimanded for not being holy enough.

It's like my father spoke of when he was a family crisis lawyer.  He called it the "glow after the blow".  The intense lusty love that a man feels for his wife after beating her.  It felt just as fake - partly because she explained it to us as such.]


As I pass that plaque often, I am reminded; and as I use the little slip of notepaper as the bookmark in the first of the 5 portions of the Bible I am reading in, I am daily reminded.

[Hint hint.  I am wise and you should listen to me because I read five parts of the Bible every day.]

And each time, I am reminded, I am more and more glad, and my heart swells with increasing thanksgiving to God, because I see the promise being fulfilled: that you are increasing in faithfulness; and I see the sweetness of your lips increasing your learning, and making you wise in heart!

[Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeewwwwwwwwww!!!!!!!!!!!  Anyway, I was a good kisser, but I don't know how she knew that.  And, yes, kissing a lot sure as heck teaching a body how to do other things.  It always leads to something else - good kissing, anyway.

Can you hear the flattery?  I wonder what I did to deserve her "praise".  It was probably one of my weaker moments where I asked for "counsel" from her because I felt it was what Bill Gothard's god would have wanted me to do.  I brought so much unnecessary pain and suffering on my family in those years.  My mother ate it up, though and, with letters like this, groomed me for more.]


I love you, Joseph [Dammit!  Call me Joe!  She always refused.  It was a power thing.], and I am glad God let you be born through me.

[Now WHY did you have to bring THAT into the picture!  Holy galoshes! Please explain to me why you have to use that word picture.  Blecht!  I need a shower.]

P.S. [Uh oh...]  a side note:  that little box of note paper you gave me, that says "On that note:" on each sheet and is covered with musical things, gives me fresh delight often each day, and I am grateful all over again each time to you for giving it to me.  Thank you!

[All that for some dumb paper?  Seriously, why?  She's like the Scarlett O'Hara of the ghetto.]
*****

That's it folks.  Another creepy one from the archive.  Now go take a bath.  I'm going to work on my sweet lips - on Kristine, mind you.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Agnostic and the Pastor

A few weeks ago, a friend came over to visit.  She was going through some tough times in her life and needed some encouragement.  Or, it was possibly the other way around, because she really made us smile.  As we spoke, she relayed some news about a former pastor of mine.  His wife was dying of cancer (and had been for the last few years).  His mother had just passed away after living almost a century.  He was very close to his mother.  But, worst of all, a part of his heart had been ripped out of his chest because he had had to get rid of his dogs.

This gentleman (let's call him JJ) had two loves in his life (besides his wife, Jesus, and his children, in that order): motorcycles and dogs. 

I am exactly the opposite.  I hate all animals with a passion.  Cats disgust me and dogs make me recoil in horror at their smell, dandruff, hair, drool, dirty feet, crap in the yard, and pee on the carpet.  I like mice.  They are so cute in a trap with one eye popped out of their head.  Regardless, I have always looked up to this man as the person I most want to emulate if I was ever forced to cohabitate with a dirty, filthy pet.  And now his dogs were gone.

This information made me ache for his happiness.  I love people, regardless of race or creed, and desire that all are content.  If they are not, I take it upon myself to at least bring a smile to their cheekbones and mirth to their lips.  So, on a whim, I emailed him, inviting him out for dinner - just the two of us.  I gave him no details because I wanted him to think I was just another person, asking him for counsel, needing him to expend more of himself for others.  I was going to turn the tables and give some back.

I am an undefined agnostic and JJ's life is all about Jesus Christ.  Growing up in fundamentalist Christianity, it was bored into my brain that hurting people needed Christ shown to them and the only vessels that could provide that were other "true Christians" who were natural channels for God's love.  In reality, I saw the exact opposite and watched many a person suck the life out of others to gain the most happiness for themselves.  I desire to show all Christians that atheists, agnostics, godless individuals, or anyone with no belief in a higher being, could just as easily show love to others and be an encouragement for no reason other than bringing contentment to those they come in contact with.

I arrived at our dinner date and caught sight of JJ across the parking lot of the restaurant and waved enthusiastically.  What transpired for the next two hours was some of the most fun I had all year.  We swapped stories of life.  His were all about Jesus (that is his life) and mine were, as usual, superficial, humorous, with the occasional self-deprecation, and the highly infrequent jab at JJ.  We spoke of theology, politics, drug legalization, Bill Gothard, Christian standards, his past, his future, dentistry, migraines, and many more subjects I will not share.  I loved every minute of it.

After the meal, we talked for another hour, then stepped out of the restaurant and stood on the sidewalk and spoke for another twenty minutes.  We said our goodbyes and he left, a strong Christian, and I, a strong agnostic. 

For two hours, the world stood still while two individuals brought joy to each other across the great chasm of their respective creeds.  For two hours, a pastor was able to do nothing but talk and enjoy the company of an idiot, drunk on coffee, and high on the success of another whimsical idea.  For two hours, a young man, who had rejected the idea of god, listened with rapt attention at the love a pastor had for his god. 

As I listened to JJ speak of his god, I was full of rhetorical questions as to why everything he spoke about was false, very much a fairy tale, and quite nearly impossible.  But it didn't matter.  JJ was not in the business of hurting people.  Had he been, this reflection would be much different, more than likely ending up with a young man in handcuffs, sitting in a county cell.  Rather, he was in the business of loving others in his own way, no matter how misguided I felt he was.  And I was happy to nod, smile, and ask pointed questions (Okay...whatever...I don't ask legitimate questions.  I just toss in jokes.  And JJ.  Wow!  Never has a bloke laughed at my humor like he has all my life.  And I have known him since I was conceived.)

Tonight was an epic evening.

I.C.

Today's Goog Hits on Incongruous Circumspection - 3/16/2012

Every day, without fail, I read through the Goog search terms that bring people to my blog, thanks to Google Analytics.  I'll show a few of them below and try to point my readers in the proper direction:

allegheny wesleyan methodist blog


Ah, yes.  But be very careful.  If you're here to find anything good about the Allegheny Wesleyan Church, you're at the wrong place.  To get you started, you can read the first installment of one of their ex-members here.

easiest position in softball

Second base!  Now that was easy.  Glad to be of service.

full preterest second coming doug phillips

I sincerely apologize.  I fell asleep just..hang on....(sorry, big yawn)...reading that.  Nope.  You'll find nothing of the sort here.  But, if you want to read about Doug Phillips, try here, where I mention the perfectly bearded fellow in passing.  Or, read through Dougy Boy's hilarious take on historic men.  Better yet, try a change of pace and read this collaborative piece by an atheist friend of mine when I used to consider myself a Christian.  Finally, if that doesn't do it, try something a bit more risque where I, again, simply allude to the uber-smiley bloke.

rabbi means "leader of the synagogue"

I have never written about that.  But, you're spot on.  Now you know.

sex is meaningless to me

Excuse me???!!!  The ole' Goog must be throwing some electrons off during packet transfer here and there these days.  That search term should have NEVER EVER, in a million years, led you here.  And to prove my point, read this and this.  Also, can you contact the Goog and have them add "I love sex like the air I breathe" into their algorithm for anything Incongruous Circumspection related?

you are like icing on the cake without you life is meaningless

Wow...  I don't know what to say.  I'm honored.  Gawrsh.  Wow.  Phew!  Heck...read everything here!  Man!  You made me blush.

I.C.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Story of Libby Exline, Installment 8 - The End...But Not Really

And here, we continue on from Installment 7, where Libby's mother passed away, and see what comes of her life.  This is the final installment.

*****

OY!! After she [mom] died, any buffer between my dad and I was gone.  My dad had quit with the sexual abuse several years prior, but I was still afraid of him, and of dealing with what had happened.  With mom around, it was easier to not deal.  The day we buried her, I had terrible flash backs and was literally stuck reliving things.

My solution was to go back to school.  Because they had proven how good they were in cases like this, right?  I went, but it just didn't work.  I had panic attacks.  I'd never had them before; they were the scariest things I'd lived through.  I contemplated suicide again, and even ran my car off roads a couple times.  In the mean time, I talked a little to the pastor of the church at school.  He was...not as bad as the evil pastor I'd had at home, but when it came to rules, he was adamant.  They were good!  Keep 'em!  Those weren't the topics of our conversations, though.  We talked about me, my past with dad, and I saw a sweeter side to him.  He helped me through many a dark day.  He came to love me as a daughter.  Couldn't love me more if I had been his daughter, he said.
Finally, I just could not go on. I wasn't attending classes, I was having panic attacks regularly, and the urge to kill myself was growing. Around this time, my boyfriend broke up with me, devastating me more. Even though I knew I didn't love him...  I finally went to see my doctor back home, who had me admitted to the psych ward.  The church was aghast.  THIS WAS AGAINST THE RULES!!!!  And this was one of the more important rules, too.  The pastor who couldn't love me more if I were his own daughter came to see me for 5 minutes and prayed for deliverance. I never saw him again.  The current pastor at my church came with his wife, and she cried like I'd been diagnosed with cancer.  (Evil pastor had finally been voted out). In fact, the only person who showed any interest in visiting me was my dad!!

I was in the hospital a month.  The first time.  I spent a lot of time there for awhile.  I just didn't think I had anything to live for.  My spiritual fate had been decided; what else was there?  It took a lot of therapy and medication just to get me to not want to die. 

My sister-in-law ultimately saved me. When it became obvious I wasn't going back to school, she said I could not live with dad, so invited me to live with my brother and her. I got into long term therapy, and today--wow!  I'm a totally different person.  I like me.  There's a lot to like, turns out!  I'm living a good, full, and most of all, peace-filled life.  I'm - dare I say it? - happy.  I've discovered joy.  Not through the church, or god or the bible, but because I made it through my early life, and made it big!  I am so much more than the person I was raised to be! So much better, deeper, fuller, loving.  I don't thank god for what I went through in his name. ( In fact, I'm angry with him for allowing it.  Over the years, my anger has lessened, but it's still there).  Instead, I thank myself for the way I handled it, dealt with it, and didn't give up.  I had hit bottom so hard I knocked myself out for a bit.  But I got up, brushed myself off, and here I am today.

I wish I could definitively say what I've done with god.  I read blogs of people with pasts similar to mine who are atheists, and I envy them that.  I think I lean in that direction, but wow! kinda scary!  Then I read blogs of people who have a great, loving relationship with god, and I envy them that.  I just don't see that happening for me.  As an adult, I've been to churches that were all about love and grace, and did well at first.  Then, not so much.  Seems I'm only comfortable for a little while accepting god as loving me.  Then I tie myself up in knots with rules and condemnation again.  It's a knee-jerk reaction. So for now, I leave god alone, thank him for leaving me alone, and think that maybe, eventually, I'll know what I believe.  I know that whatever happens, I have myself. How empowering is that!  And so, here I am on this path, learning and loving, and being oh- so -patient with me as I work this out.  Or don't, whatever the case may be.  Life just can't get much better than this.  And I'm thankful, to my marrow, for the things I've learned, the things I've unlearned, and the strength and understanding I've gained, and the loving people in my life that I have today as a result of my healing.

*****

And that ends Libby Exline's story.  The good came quite fast in the end but after eight installments of misery, it was worth it.  Thank you for reading.

The Story of Libby Exline, Installment 7 - Nearing the End

We left off in Installment 6 where Libby grabbed a knife on the way to her dorm at school.  She had just given what she called, "the performance of my life" where the girls of her college dorm ate up every joke and every laugh she had to give.  But, like many funny people, she was dying inside. Now, it was her turn to literally try to end it all and die for good.  Let's follow her to her room.
*****

So- anti climatic, this.  I scratched myself with it. Didn't even produce blood.  But the fact that I had actually moved closer to hell scared me to death.  I told a girl I trusted, who told the dorm mother, who called the college president, who called the conference president... My name was making the rounds.  In the middle of the night, they came to the dorm to yell at me, and pray with me, and generally discuss the sorry state of my soul.  I did pray, and I guess I got some relief, because for awhile, I was ok.  Or not as not-ok as I had been earlier.

This was right before Christmas break, and somehow I went home and acted as normally as I could.  Went back after break, and actually made some friends (whose friendships I value to this day), and had a semblance of a life outside the spiritual.  I knew I was being watched for signs of depression. You know, demonic possession, so I managed to stuff things down even further.  Emotionally, I was numb.  My soul felt dead, and I knew I was just never going to be good enough for god.  But some how, I hid all this from people.

When the second school year started, I got a new bff, and then, eventually, my first boyfriend!!  I so did not know how to relate to people.  I had never in my life been loved.  I was an oozing hole of need, which severely strained my relationship with my bff.  My boyfriend...I was on autopilot with him.  We weren't allowed to ever be alone, so conversations did not go deep.  I thought he might be my salvation. After all, girls were expected to marry, bear kids, and let the husband make all the choices.  So I wrapped myself up in these plans.  That summer, it hit me undeniably that I did not love him.  I needed to be married, though, to be loved, so I drowned out that inner little voice.

During my second year, the pastor's wife of the church I attended while in school (still part of the Allegheny Conference,those were the rules) took note of my behavior.  The constant praying, the suicide "attempt", the cloying neediness, the way I was just about the only girl who didn't go home on weekends or shorter breaks...  I only lived 45 minutes away.  I was scolded soundly for this, too, by no less than the president of the college.  My mom had cancer; I should be going to help her.  I'd feel guilty when she died.  (she did, I didn't, how bad a person does that make me?)  Any way, the pastor's wife got together with my bff, and decided I was an incest victim.  (I'd told no one).  This was actually pretty forward-thinking of her.  She got a book on it, and my bff and I went through it in an attempt to heal me.  That, I think, was so sweet, and even sincere, but she was in no kind of way equipped to do that.  The church didn't believe in mental health professionals at all.  They were satanic! They opened the door! So that was how they tried to help me.

Instead, they sent me into a tail-spin.  What I had managed to keep wrapped in a box now overwhelmed me.  I had no idea how to cope with this. None. Zero.  It became a monster, bigger than me, and chasing me, chasing me always.  Although I continued to seek god, it was really all I could do to get dressed in the morning.  god became, out of necessity for my survival, second, or even further down in my mind.

Then, in '89, mom died.  I was at school, and dad called, saying she was in the hospital, but was good, real good.  The thing was, he always acted the opposite of what was going on with her.  If she stubbed her toe, he called 911.  When he said things were good, we needed to call 911. So, I knew I needed to get there, fast.  She hung on through surgery, and we left (my bff and I) back to school after a couple days. We had just gotten back when my brother called to tell me she had died.

*****

The final installment will follow Libby to the "getting out" of her spiritual misery.  She still has room to fall lower - and she will - but the end is good and still is writing itself to be a true victory.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Top 10 Things I Love About my Wife

Never has a gentleman loved a woman more than I love my wife, Kristine.  That is, unless you are reading this and disagree, claiming the title for yourself, or knowing of a sappy relative that puts my over-the-top enamorification to shame.

Below, I have compiled a list of her top ten attributes:

10. She laughs at all my jokes, no matter how many times she has heard then. Sure, she adds an eye roll that is getting larger in circumference by the year, but that is, many times, exactly the reaction I am looking for - and she knows it.

9. She is tireless with the kids and the house.  I know because I have my lazy moments (ok...days) and she seems to have none.  Without her, you could recite the Shel Silverstein poem, "Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out", and it would describe the rest of us perfectly.

8. [REDACTED] - *extended, romantic sigh

7. [REDACTED] - *even longer, extended, romantic sigh

6. She has enough ambition and motivation to put me to shame.  In a few short years, she will have two Bachelors degrees and a Masters.

5. She married me despite all the worries her father had. And she's even a daddy's girl.

4. She is the most beautiful woman this side of the sun - the whole package - and I am proud to walk down the street with her. 

3. She is very creative.  I should know.  The living room is rearranged every evening, when I get home from work.

2. [REDACTED]

1. [REDACTED (or muffled...I can't tell...something aboooout...nah...I just can't make it out)]

And that's it for the top ten.  I could do the top 50, where fewer items would be redacted, but I just don't have time.  She just got home from school.

I.C.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Story of Libby Exline, Installment 6 - Suicide or College...or...Murder?

We witnessed some of the most disgusting spiritualized sexual abuse in Installment 5 by Libby's own pastor, his wife, and an elder, no less.  It was horrid to read. Something that no child - at any age - should go through.  But that was not the end of Libby's story.  Not by a long shot.  She would continue trying to become the unattainable perfect being that she thought this church's god wanted her to be.

*****

Why by now my being hadn't just said enough! and imploded, I don't know.  I wanted to die, but that was another sin.  By my senior year, I was in full-on rebellion.  Or reacting normally to the circumstances in which I was raised, to put it another way.  I was going to hell.  I firmly believed this.  So I just didn't see the need to try any more.  I was still miserable, but at least now, I wasn't heaping abuse on my own self.

My twin brother and I were the graduating class of 1987.  I was the valedictorian, and as such, was awarded a scholarship to the church Bible college. Allegheny Wesleyan College in Salem, OH.  I guess I decided to give myself another shot.  Surely, being surrounded by holy people 24/7 would produce results.  Maybe when I got out of dad's house, I could do it. Away from the abuse. Away from mom, whom I didn't like very much any way. Besides the fact that I didn't like her, she'd been diagnosed 10 years prior with cancer.  Her fainting became the norm.  I couldn't sleep at night, waiting for the bang! that meant she had fainted again.  Then feeling the guilt for not praying with/for her.  So, I decided to go to AWC, and even got excited at the prospect.

That fall, I began my journey away from the insanity that had been my life up til this point.  I didn't know it yet, and indeed it would get a bit more insane before it got better. My first year was probably the worst.  I don't have a lot of specific recollections.  I barely recall myself during that year.  I do know that I did not acquire holiness through osmosis.  I still went to the altar every time there was an opportunity.  It still did not work.  I had other things on my heart, too.  It seemed that no one liked me.  I didn't have one good friend to talk to at all.  Oh, they were my friends when they needed things. I had a car, so people could be very friendly if they needed to go to town.

One thing about me is my sense of humor.  I have a wicked one.  I love to laugh, love seeing people laugh; there's just too little laughter in the world.  Somehow, my sense of humor lived through the stuff I barely survived, and it breaks my heart, but I turned the humor against myself.  People started counting on me for laughs, and did I deliver.  So many people told me of how I had made them laugh when that was just what they needed.  I cheered people up, and I got good at it. I was dying inside, but hiding it behind the humor.  I also gave good back rubs, so at one time or another, the entire girl's dorm had beat a path to my door.

When I needed to be cheered up, no one was there to make me laugh.  When my back ached, no one was there to rub it.  The things that I had been taught about myself were true: I was unlovable.  Spiritually, I'd given up.  I still desperately wanted to be good enough for god, but I had resigned myself to reality.  It just wasn't gonna happen.  Daily, I gave of myself to my fellow students, and nothing happened to fill myself back up.  I became depressed; that seems like too tame a word for what I was feeling.  A living death, that's what I was living.  I began thinking of suicide.  I just didn't have what it took to live through one more day.  These thoughts scared me back to the altar, because suicide was an unforgivable sin; the express train to hell.  I didn't talk to anyone about this.  Just told them I was having spiritual problems, and since I'd obviously been having them all semester, they weren't alarmed in the least. 

Finally, one night I delivered the comedic performance of a life time. This was on a Sunday after evening church service.  The dining hall was in the basement of the girl's dorm. People had gathered there for a late supper. I had them rolling.  And I was funny!  I was ON!!  And with every joke, with every burst of laughter, I died a little more inside.  Finally, everyone left, the lights were turned off, and we girls headed upstairs.  On the way, I grabbed a knife.

*****

Aaaand...you'll have to wait for Installment 7 to see what Libby does.

Monday, March 12, 2012

DFBNM: Part 1b - Women? Goals? Who Are YOU Kidding!

In Part 1a, we witnessed Bill Gothard call a woman who does not obey her husband in everything, never questioning any decision he makes, a "fool".  He based this epithet on a woman while referencing Ephesians 5:22 - 24.  Of course, I uncovered the fact that Bill was flat out lying.  That passage says nothing of the sort.

Let's continue discussing Gothard's first Basic Need of a Husband ([A man needs a wife that is loyal and supportive]).

Gothard continues to expound on the above basic need by stating the following:

[Realize that your husband’s perspective is different than yours.]

Wow.  Bill is really smart.  Put two or more people together and you have differences.  But let's not give him any credit.  That's not what he means.  Patriarchy (the religious philosophy that Bill Gothard bases all his materials on) and the Authority Doctrine (P/AD) requires distinct differences in men and women in order to prove that women need a man to rule them.

[A man’s goals often involve long-range achievement. Therefore, a man is willing to sacrifice short-term convenience in order to meet an important long-term goal. However, a wife’s perspective usually centers on short-term goals associated with her responsibilities in the family and home. During times of pressure, a wife should keep the “big picture” in mind. Accept difficult situations from God without giving Him a deadline to remove them]

While reading the above, did anyone think about sex?  I would posit that most men have short term goals in mind when it comes to rolling around between the sheets.  Well, of course, he probably wants to last a while, but that can still hardly be called "long term".  But Bill protects himself from this argument because he cleverly uses the words "often" and "usually" when referring to a man's "goals" and a woman's "perspective". 

Ah, but catch that little English trick.  A man has goals.  A woman doesn't.  She simply has perspective.  Perspective is worthless.  It doesn't move a family forward with a clear vision like having goals does.  Even worse, a woman's perspective is completely foolish in the scheme of things because it is only focused on cooking, changing diapers, spanking bare bottoms, studying the IBLP "Men's Manuals" to understand how men think, reading "To Train Up a Child" to become an expert mule skinner, and darning the holes in her husband's tighty whities.  In short, Bill tells the woman to leave the rest to the husband.  If she disagrees, being that she is clueless, she must throw up her hands and leave it to her husband..er...God.  He'll take care of it.

[Encourage your husband not to give up on God-given goals. Urge him to verbalize his dreams and hopes, and give him your wholehearted support. Ask him how you can help him reach his goals. If your husband fails to set goals or give direction to you and your family, pray for him and trust God to work in his life.]

Obviously, all goals a husband has are God-given.  There is no differentiation here.  But Bill seems to be keenly aware that there are lazy or emasculated men within the ranks.  Thus, a woman needs to require (Gothard freshens up the requirement by using "urge him to verbalize") a husband to tell him what his goals are.

How tiring!  I am a man.  I'm a husband.  I'm a father of six bouncy children.  I have a vision.  So does my wife.  We talk.  She talks.  I talk all night while she snores beside me.  When it comes to direction for our family, I refuse to accept all the responsibility.  It is a twelve person job and there are only two of us.  I need her help and she needs mine.  Frankly, the responsibility that this idea heaps on the head of the man is very much the reason why men in this movement become control freaks and the women become manipulative witches.

I am not going to hold back.  I have lived this.  One person should not be given the responsibility of a full household and then be allowed to wield unquestioned power over everyone under him.  A woman should never be relegated to a subservient baby factory with no voice in her marriage except to nag on her husband to get off his lazy arse and be a man - planning every little detail of their lives, down to the fifteenth child's toe jam removal.  When this sick and twisted lifestyle is put into play, the smiling and joyful faces you see on the outside don't do justice to the evil that is going on behind closed doors.

What does Bill think long-term goals are anyway?  Is it only a family oriented vision?  Or is there any room for building up the life of the children to sprout wings and fly off into the world to succeed or fail?  In Bill's world, individual goals are evil.  All goals should be family based, which brings me to my next point:

Who better than the wife (in a P/AD home, mind you) who is with the children 24/7, schools them from Pre-K to 12 grade and even college, buys all the groceries and necessities of life, plans the daily activities from the day her first is conceived to the day the last one flies the coop at 45 years of age, etc, etc, etc, to set goals for all the children?  In that world, she would know them a heck of a lot better than the man who is gallivanting around town, working 90 hours a week and showing off his excellent brood on Sundays.
 
Of course, that scenario isn't really the real world.  In the real world, the world where a husband and wife are a team, they both may know the children equally well.  They may not have children and yet have individual goals, as well as family goals.  The unhealthy, lopsided, "I'm the man so you'd better do as I say", is rife for abuse.  And yet the woman must only trust God to change the man without vocal complaint.

*****

In Part 1c, we will look at how to massage the very fragile self-esteem of a man.  If you have ever potty-trained a child and know that that first tinkle requires an over-exuberant celebration, you will be well on your way to success in this matter.



The Story of Libby Exline, Installment 5 - Spiritual Abuse Turns Sexual

Hearken back to Installment 4.  There, you'll read about Libby's attempts to become the most holy little girl on the face of the earth.  The only problem with that ideal was that everyone around her kept convincing her that she was worthless and sinful beyond all reason.  This led her to work harder toward perfection, wrapping herself in a prison of rules.  There was no joy left.

We left off with a small view of a camp meeting.  Let's look into that a bit deeper.

*****

There were three camp meeting sessions during the summer months: business meetings, in which rules were set, in June, youth camp in July, and family camp in August.  Those were times of great and intense spiritual battles for everyone, which is to say being told how scummy we were, and how hot hell is for those "not willing".  Spiritual battles became 1000 times more intense in the company of thousands of saints than in the quiet church at home where the attendance was about 20.  I looked forward to these every year.  I don't know why I never caught on that it wasn't working for me.  No matter how scared I got, I just couldn't be willing.  Even in the midst of thousands of saints, and hundreds of sinners, I became known. Being the only one at that infernal altar all the time will do that for a person.  It was here that I became enslaved to another rule (looking back, this embarrasses me so much). 

One thing the church wanted was testimonies.  You had to get up and share what god had done for you.  That was relatively easy at home in front of 20 people.  But here, people got up and testified. Shoot, people ran screaming around the tabernacle.  And god began to require it of me.  Or someone began to require it of me.  Do you have any idea how scary it was to stand up in front of thousands of people and talk about how unworthy I was, but how grateful I was that god hadn't struck me dead?  And then!, I thought, if testifying was good, walking (never could run) around the tabernacle had to be better.  I thought if I did the stuff that was hard for me, god would see that I was indeed willing for my will to be broken. 

Just like that, testifying became something I had to do if I wanted victory.  I testified EVERYWHERE.  At first, I let other people open the floor to testimonies; then I began to think I needed to be willing to do the opening.  So I did. Every where.  Every service, even when it wasn't appropriate.  I completely humiliated myself in front of I don't even know how many people to show god that I was willing to die to myself.  I only succeeded in making myself the object of scorn and pity.  Even that wasn't enough to balance the scales in my favor.

By now, I was an older teenager.  My life had been hell, but apparently not hell enough.  After having gone to the altar without success more often than I changed socks, the pastor and his wife decided it was time to get serious.  'Cuz up til now, I'd been having a ball.  So we talked one night at church, and it was decided I had demons. 

Now, demons were just not talked about in that church.  Ever.  So this was a serious charge they were leveling.  And, understand, outwardly, as far as they could tell, I was toeing the party line.  I wasn't any different outwardly than anyone in the church. The only reason they knew there was a problem was my frequent trips to the altar.  By this time, though, I'd given up.  I'd made myself miserable, demanded the impossible, denied every single thing that made me me, made myself sick, even trying to break my will enough to be worthy of god.  It was when I quit going to the altar that they decided I had demons.  So, plans were made to pray with me at home.  At first, it was the pastor and his wife.  We spent time reading about hell, and the need to repent, and be willing.  If I wasn't willing, god would have to break me.  By this time, I didn't think there was much left to break, but that didn't matter much. 

Prayer was not the only thing happening during these meetings.  Somehow, someone figured that raping me would drive them out.  When the meetings were with the pastor and his wife, she'd observe, clapping her hands and rhythmically chant "Drive them out!  Drive them out!"

When another board member was introduced into the meetings, he also took part in this new "ministry". The tone ranged from angry and painful to jovial and painful.  During the angry part, they listed my sins, in time to what they were doing.  I was sinful.  I had the spirit of rebellion.  I was scum.  I deserved this because I was making them do this to me.  I was responsible for them sinning.  I was in direct cahoots with the devil.  Maybe I WAS the devil.

After they wore themselves out being angry, they'd take a break, and when they came back, that was when it turned jovial.  Now, in time with what they were doing, they chanted, "Bang the devil OUT, bang the devil OUT", the whole time laughing at me, at their ability to have their way with a child who could not, would not, complain to any one or fight back.

Looking back, I know the whole demon thing was a sham.  They simply used what was available to them to excuse what they wanted to do.  At the time, I thought this was something I had to endure as a punishment for being so bad in god's eyes.  I was just that bad.  I deserved this.  god had made me good and pure and whole, and look what I had done with that.  I was hopeless.

*****

Yes.  I know.  Horrible.  I wept when I read it.  How could authority figures be so cruel to a child, using religion to further their sick desires?  But this wasn't the end of Libby's existence.  She kept pressing on, trying to find an answer to life.  Maybe Christian college?  We'll look at that chapter in Installment 6.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Marriage Without Sex is Meaningless

There.  I said it.  But, before you grab the pitchforks and scythes to come tear me to bits, let me explain.

I am thirty-one years old.  To me, sex with the woman I love is the most important activity in the world.  Even more important than breathing.  If you heard a news report that a plane my wife and I were on was crashing to the earth in a ball of flames, you could bet a whole pile of paychecks on what we were "doing" as it fell from the sky.  No way am I going to waste my last dying breaths on being scared. 

Years ago, I worked for an old friend of mine as a power lineman.  On my crew was a young man, about my age, who wasn't married and couldn't last in a relationship longer than a few dates.  He would always lament the fact that, in southwest Minnesota, the only girls available to date were ones that were already married, or who had kids.  By "date", he meant, the ability to jump in the sack with him.

One day, he came to work looking a little ragged.  Every few minutes or so, he would look over his shoulder.  His eyes would flit back and forth throughout the day. Finally, at lunch, I asked him what his issue was.  Apparently, the night before, he had been caught by the husband of a married "girlfriend" he was copulating with.  The gentleman ran him off his property and threatened him with bodily harm.  For the next few days, my co-worker was very careful who he went out with.  Then, when the trouble blew over, he went back to his winning ways.

A few months later, the daughter of my boss, who was in her 50's was having a warm conversation with my wife and I in the company office.  We began talking about my co-worker when she told this little story:

"Last night, my husband and I were in bed together.  He snuggled up close and grabbed my hand and began rubbing it.  For the next hour, he did nothing but massage my hand until we both fell asleep."

Then, she went on about how she didn't understand how my co-worker only saw sex as a means for love.  Love in a relationship was so much more.

For years, I have thought of that story and held it in high esteem.  I still do.  But I have finally decided that I, as a young whippersnapper of a married man, do not understand it at all.  I know it is true because the various functions of a human being wax and wane as we get older, but my understanding of the beauty of it is merely theoretical. 

Now, I do many things for my wife and she for me that have nothing to do with sex.  But if I could not look forward to the frosting on the cake of life, I wouldn't find much value in those myriad other things. 

All of this leads up to a simple premise.  I am convinced that, when I hit the age of 50 years old, the value of sex in marriage will be severely diminished and, in its place will be the hour-long hand massage.  At that point in my life, I will look confidently on a twenty-something, young fool, and say, "marriage without an hour long hand massage is meaningless."

And that idea scares me to death.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

One Year Sound Off

I have been writing for a little over a year now.  In the comments section below, tell me what you like best about Incongruous Circumspection.  I'm not expecting specific posts to be listed but merely general content.

I am mostly interested in those opinions housed by parties that never comment, but also really like hearing what my chronic commenters think.

Thanks in advance,

I.C.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Debunking the Fourteen Basic Needs of a Marriage: Part 1a

In the Introduction, we looked into the general idea that Bill Gothard is trying to get across in this series.  He attempts to list seven basic needs of a husband and seven, also, of the wife.  We discuss the flaw in this logic, which is, Bill treats life as if all men and women are exactly the same.  Worse yet, Bill positions this series, as well as all of his "truth" in all of his materials, as the non-optional, unquestioned, standard for finding favor with God.

Let's look at Bill's first "Basic Need" of a husband.

Basic Need One: A man needs a wife who is loyal and supportive.


At face value, this looks tame enough.  What man wouldn't want a woman that is loyal and supportive?  For that matter, what woman wouldn't want a man that does the same for her?  This second question is key.  In the "Seven Basic Needs of a Woman", Bill does not list a woman as desiring loyalty and support.

My wife, Kristine, is going to school full time while she raises six children.  She is always tired and sore at the end of the day.  According to Bill's one-sided need here, I should come home, be allowed to throw my feet up, and demand a beer.  She should oblige.

I'd rather rub her feet.  And guys, if you follow my advice, you will have a VERY loyal and supportive wife.  Notice her.  Buy her flowers (or a can of WD-40 and a hammer drill, if she's into that).  Listen to her until you drop dead.  Talk her ear off so she calls you a woman but secretly loves you for it.  But, most importantly, do nothing I tell you to do.  Figure out what your wife's needs and desires are and meet the heck out of them. 

Then, Bill expounds on his first basic need:

Helping her husband fulfill his goals and dreams is a wife’s main responsibility.

Really?  Not Kristine's.  She's nearing the ripe old age of 30 and has no college degree.  She knows it and wants it - bad!  She is now concurrently finishing up two Bachelor degrees and moving right on to her Masters.  Her main responsibility is to finish that baby up as fast as she can.  But, unlike Bill's clueless idea here, that is specifically her goal, and I am right there to back her up.  My goals and dreams are wrapped up in everything I want to do in life, everything she desires, the desires of my kids, and how it all comes together in a chaotic ball of wax.  No one person is obligated by anyone to prop up the other.  It sure is nice when we both have each other's back, though.

Remember that you are to support his vision—he establishes the goals and priorities for your family.

Um...what?  A nice pipe dream.  A family is made up of a bunch of individuals.  Those individuals are not necessarily striving for the same unified goal.  I want my kids out of my house the second they turn twelve years old - I mean eighteen.  I want my wife to be so bloody successful, she makes me look like a little pipsqueak in comparison.  My vision for my family is to get through today and hopefully tomorrow.  That is not to say that I don't have long-term visions and goals for us, but so does she.  We bring them all together and figure out what will work, what is too risky (or, in my case, what is too safe...blecht!), and what costs too much.  Then we don't do any of it, go to bed, wake up, eat, do the day thing, and start all over.

Until Kristine went back to school almost two years ago, she was a stay-at-home mom.  She had six children, and did all the daily duties of a woman that has six children and stays at home.  She had no life outside of our family and craved adult contact.  On the other hand, I went to work every day.  This meant that she knew our children a thousand times better than I did, and still does.  I love my kids, but I don't know how all of them tick but rely on her knowledge and wisdom in raising them to be wildly successful individuals. 

Bill does not speak to the man and tell him to stand behind his wife and her vision.  She is not allowed to have one.

A foolish wife will crush her husband’s spirit by resisting his decisions, and God will hold her accountable for disobedience to His instructions.  If your husband’s goals are not in harmony with Scripture, you should make a wise appeal.

Bill references Ephesians 5:22 - 24 here.  Now, many may disagree with what Paul is actually saying here, but I am going to simply take his words at face value.  Paul writes:

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

Let us disregard the cultural and 2000 year old idea of submission here and focus on what is NOT in the passage.  Is there anything about disobedience?  Is there anything about God holding a "foolish" woman accountable?  Is their anything in this passage that calls a woman a fool if she does not obey Bill Gothard's foolish words?  Is there anything in this passage that reveals the "crushing of the husband's spirit" when the wife "resists his decisions"?  Is there anything in that passage about making a wise appeal (As opposed to a stupid appeal?  I bet Gothard has a large manual on the 43 steps to a wise appeal too.)?  Is there anything in that passage that talks about a husband's decisions needing to be in harmony with scripture (which didn't exist at the writing of that passage)?

If you answer "No" to all of my questions, you would be correct.  Let me sum up that passage in one sentence (sort of):

Hey wives!  Submit to your husbands!  Cause..um..Christ is the head of the church and marriage is like that.

Go ahead and argue what submission means.  Read the next part of the Ephesians chapter and prove the tit-for-tat nature of mutual submission.  Or ignore it altogether because it was simply Paul making his own conclusions.  Whatever you do, don't believe the lie that Bill is telling women.  A woman is not foolish for resisting her husband's decisions and will not be struck with a lightning bolt if she disagrees.  As I stated in the opening paragraph, Gothard does not see his words as optional.  If he did, he wouldn't call women that don't follow them "foolish".

In Part 1b, we will look into Bill's crazy notion that men and women ALWAYS think differently and, as you may suspect, due to the way a man thinks, he is the natural, meta-physically wired choice for leadership in a marriage.

Top 10 Blog Posts of All Time

I have been writing for a year now and am continually amazed at how many readers hit my blog on a daily basis.  The most popular posts on Incongruous Circumspection are ones that uncover spiritual abuse.  Personal anecdotes of my life are also quite popular though my readers quickly get bored of hearing about "me me me".

Below, you will find the top 10 blog posts over the last 12 months.

1. Tim Dunkin's Hephzibah House Faux Pas

This post critiques an ultra-conservative defender of the young women abuse mill, Hephzibah House.  Tim Dunkin is a very religious man and defends anyone that calls themselves a "Man of God".  You can find his writing all over the most obscure corners of the internet with conspiracy theorist followers.  Pay attention to the comments, as well.  Lucinda Pennington makes an appearance to defend the abusers.

2. Should a Wife Submit to Her Husband

It took me hours to write this post.  I agonized over the content and put it through about fifteen drafts.  I call this my finest masterpiece and hope you enjoy the succinct conciseness as the words jump off the page for you.

3. The Rogue "pastoral" Team: Act One

This begins my very first series (which isn't finished yet) of two very hardcore spiritual abusers.  The protagonist is my brother, Zach.  He has since completely left Christianity and has forged his own path as an atheist.  You will find, within this series, many of the reasons for his faith departure.  Annah and Mark Reid are evil to the core.

4. Letters From Mama: Christmas Debt

This post was surprisingly popular.  Christmas 2011 was very harrowing with all the family and guests at our home.  Then, a package arrived in the mail.  The contents are described in this article.

5.  I Am No Longer a Christian

Listed in this post is my rejection of all the boxes religious people tried to stuff me into.  At the time I wrote the piece, I still considered myself a man of faith in Christ.  I have since, become an undefined agnostic.  Regardless of who I currently am, I think people who hold fast to their Christianity will appreciate these words and sincerely identify with their meaning.

6. Answer to My Critics: My Childhood Opened My Eyes

This is, hands down, the most raw post I have ever written.  It was a response to an old friend telling me to stop talking about my past because it proved I was nothing but bitter.  I disagreed vehemently.  Read at your own risk.

7. "pastor" Tim Henderson's Lie

Tim Henderson is a classic Hyles Anderson College style spiritual abuser.  My story with him is actually quite humorous.  He thought he could control me or maybe considered his power over me to be absolute.  Shortly after we left the church, they ran him out of town.  Enjoy the good laugh.

8.  The Formula Problem: Why Duggarizing Your Marriage is Not Recommended

A common recent theme of mine has been to debunk formulas.  I hate them, mostly because my lovely wife and I defy the heck out of them.  The Duggar family is built on a whole series of formulas, straight from Bill Gothard and Vision Forum.  This is my response to their perceived perfection.

9. Letter From Mama:  Don't Get Married

The Letters From Mama series has now made two entries in the top ten.  People like a good Mama story.  My wife and I have been married for over ten years in complete defiance of Mama's wishes.  When we're celebrating out 80th anniversary, we will look back on our life and see that Mama being against us from the beginning, as well as a good oatmeal stout every few days, was the glue that held our wild and romantic love together.

10. The Story of Libby Exline, Installment 1: The Only True Church

I have not finished this series yet.  In the next one or two installments (we are currently up to Installment 4), I will be revealing some of the most shocking abuse by those a young girl should be able to completely trust.  Read this series and you will be witnesses to the life of a girl that is heading downhill - all because of the church she goes to - which beats into her brain the idea that she is worthless and will never be good enough for anyone, let alone God.  Keep the Kleenex handy.

And there you have it.  Enjoy yourselves.

I.C.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Your Sins Are Forgiven, Now Take Your Clothes Off

Good.  You're most likely reading this because the title drew you in and you are convinced I am off my rocker.  Now, while I wouldn't mind at all if roughly half the population followed my "rhema", "eureka", "Word from the Lord", or whatever you want to call it, I'm simply being facetious.  Bear with me while I explain.

Adam and Eve sinned in Genesis 3.  They ate the cumquat fruit that was forbidden and it says their eyes were opened, meaning they realized something - they were naked as the noonday sun.  Oddly, nakedness had no meaning to them until they disobeyed God, who tempted them, even though he doesn't tempt mankind, until they sinned.  Thus they frantically sewed hula skirts together with fiberglass rope and created the first Scottish kilts for men.

When God came back to the garden, knowing everything, and yet not being able to find Adam and Eve, he cursed all he could find to curse and then made proper pantaloons for Adam, and a pastel blue, triple breasted, plain dress for Eve.  Adam was also given a button-down, long-sleeved shirt with crisscrossed threads clasping the collar shut, in lieu of a button.  For undergarments, Adam was allowed to wear none whereas fashioned for Eve was a burlap petticoat and large elastic granny undies.  Adam was allowed to go barefoot but Eve wore wooden clod shoes with pointed toes.

Then, the two were whisked out of the garden and made to live in misery until their death.  Unfortunately for them, all humans were cursed with sin.  Obviously, it had to be that way, being that any human being, when told NOT to touch something, doesn't even give that forbidden thing a second thought.  Thus, Adam and Eve were exceptionally sinful and we had to bear the stupidity of the first humans.  If only God had done a better job of creating the first humans. 

I know I would have slapped my rebellious wife if she had offered me the cumquat.  Then, what would have happened?  Only women would have been sinful?  Or, God would have offed Eve (or allowed Adam to) and then created woman from a second rib, leaving men with two fewer ribs than women, rather than just one?

Anyway, let's move forward.

So, man was all dirty and unrighteous and could do nothing to get all clean and righteous.  Lo and behold, along comes this guy named Jesus, God's son according to a gospel or two and not according to other gospels.  He dies on the cross to take away the sin of the world.  Some say we have to believe in that, while others say it was completed for all, so just live in the moment (or was that a 50's rocker?).  Still others claim that God only picks a few people that he likes and allows them to have a free pass to heaven while the others have to burn in hell for eternity.

Whichever camp you pick, or better yet, if you're lucky enough to be born into the right camp, you come out on the other side of the sins forgiven at the cross part, smelling like a rose.  You have no more sin!

Adam and Eve sinned in the garden and had to wear clothes.  Your sins are now forgiven - forever - which obviously means clothing is optional.  No, not optional...wearing nothing is the sign of a righteous person!

So take off your clothes and enjoy your righteousness.

Now, back to reality.  You, reader who still reads something and does not think before you accept.  Yep.  You, the follower of Bill Gothard, Doug Phillips, anything quiverfull or patriarchal, heck, any school of thought, for that matter, religious or otherwise.  Don't stop asking why.  It isn't wrong to ask questions.  To inquire as to where any basis of truth originated from.  A leader or teacher is never infallible or inerrant.  People do get things wrong and many follow them.

I trust you.  Now put your clothes back on.

Love,

I.C.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Debunking the Fourteen Basic Needs of a Marriage: Introduction

I will be quoting Bill Gothard's material in this text style and my response will be in the normal text:

Bill Gothard has published a manual on how a wife should meet her husband's seven basic needs, as well as how a husband should meet his wife's.  As you'll see, the latter part, directed at the husband, is highly disingenuous because, according to Bill Gothard, a marriage relationship is skewed completely toward the man.  The wife is only a cheerleading, supposedly willing, party.

As Bill is notorious for, he takes anything he can find in the Bible to support any point he dreams up, disregarding the context, the era, even the writer's style, etc., and sandwiches it in with his unique, sleight-of-hand, wording to numb your mind into believing he knows what he is talking about.

The unsuspecting reader may look at Bill's words as a sort of optional guidebook that might work for some and not others.  I will prove to you that this is not the case.  Bill makes it very clear that, if a woman does not follow his directions to the letter, she is a fool.  Worse yet, she is a horrible wife.
Finally, why are there not 8 basic needs?  Or 16.5 of them?  We'll never know how Bill finds his "rhemas" as he calls them.  We can only look at what he gives us and blow his theories out of the water.  You will find that much of my commentary will be decidedly personal, but that's just fine.  Why?  Because Bill makes the assumption that he is speaking for all men, and last I checked, I am a member of "all men".

Now, let's begin with a look into Bill's introduction to the Seven Basics Needs of a Husband and Wife.
Your spouse has many needs. Even if he or she is not consciously aware of all of these needs, when they are unmet, your spouse will exhibit sorrow, confusion, and frustration.


This is a setup.  It is a very effective tactic to come out at the beginning of any "new truth" and state that the receiver of that truth may not even be aware of the need for it.  By saying this, any person who wants to "debunk" the message, as I am doing, can be easily dismissed as ignorant, or even better, accused of willfully denying what is obvious truth - obvious because Bill Gothard says so.  Thus, if I say that I don't need my wife to meet my basic needs, as laid out by Bill, the author would state that I am simply unaware of my basic needs and, more importantly, the correct process or person to have those needs met.

Then Bill polishes off this introduction by proving to the reader that spousal sorrow, confusion, and frustration are symptoms of not following his formulas that will come later.  This isn't new though.  All "how-to" manuals begin this way.  They sneakily position one or many common human emotions as being negative, and then hit you with the reason for that emotion - the reason being a common trait in society, as well.  Bill is a master at this.


As the Lord shows you how to meet these needs, you can avoid strife and prosper...
No, Bill, as YOU show us how to meet those needs.


Then Bill talks to the woman:


As a wife, you are uniquely qualified to fully meet your husband’s needs and cause him to “rejoice in the wife of his youth” (Proverbs 5:18).

This is a horrible bastardization of a beautiful Solomonic proverb.  It makes me want to go to Bill, who has never been married in his life, and slap him on the back of his head.  The verse is talking to a man and telling him how to enjoy life.  The responsibility for the choosing of the enjoyment is squarely on the man.  Bill, in his finite wisdom, decides to pretend the causation is flipped and the man cannot enjoy his wife unless the wife meets the needs that Bill will later lay out.

There are days in my 10-year-old marriage where I hate the ground my wife walks on.  I can't stand the mother she came from or the person she is.  The couch is a warm and comfortable pity party for me.  But do I walk out?  Heck no!  I love my wife with every part of my being, even in those dark moments.  In those moments that matter the most, the times when I could throw it all away because I am fleetingly angry, I choose to love her.  She can do nothing at all to bring me back.  It is all up to me.  And I always end up on the other side, happier for it.  I get the sense that this was the real point of that proverb.  Requiring the woman to do all the right things so the husband enjoys her is a prison that is unnecessary and burdensome.

In His Word, God clearly establishes the responsibilities of a husband and a wife.

And there you have it.  Everything that Bill will present is now non-optional.  He used the word "clearly" after all.  A favorite of any fundamentalist guru.  If you disagree, then clearly you don't "get it".  Clearly you are not "saved".  Or clearly you are unaware of real truth.

It is the wife’s responsibility to honor and reverence her husband.

Bill gets this little idea from Genesis 3:16, as well as a few sprinklings of New Testament verses where writers, 2000 years ago, wrote their ideas of how women are supposed to act toward their husband.  With progressive understanding (namely, 2000 years of wisdom and knowledge), we can move away from archaic and backwards ideas and look ahead to the realities of how things really are in light of the complexities of life.

But, it's the Genesis 3:16 reference that really floors me.  The verse is where God is saying to Eve that he will "multiply her sorrow in childbirth" and "thy desire will be to your husband" (which I don't have a problem with at all, if you catch my drift), and finally, the part that Bill loves, "your husband will rule over you".

God was telling Eve this because she sinned.  It was her punishment for sinning.  I emphasize that twice for a very simple reason:  Why is Bill Gothard requiring honor and reverence from a wife in order to gain God's favor (as well as her husband's) by telling the woman that she is required to, because God told Eve she was required to, due to her sin?  Obviously, I find this text to be somewhat humorous.  On one hand, God punished Eve with some physical punishments that she couldn't get out of; childbearing, pain in conception (huh?), and then punishes her by saying she would be ruled over by her husband - something that is clearly (there goes that word) a choice on the husband's and wife's part.  Bill sees it as a metaphysical re-wiring of the male and female psyche.

I disagree.  And I am perfectly happy to do so.  And so is my wife.
*****
In Part 1, we will discuss the first of the seven basic needs of the husband, according to Bill Gothard: A man needs a wife who is loyal and supportive.