Michael Pearl Can Read Your Mind

For those who don’t know, Michael Pearl is the (self-taught) founder of No Greater Joy ministries, which specializes in marriage, family, and parenting support and advise. He is extremely popular in Christian Patriarchy circles.

Michael Pearl can read minds. Skeptical? Read on! In the latest edition of No Greater Joy magazine (July-August 2011), Michael and Debi Pearl respond to a letter they received in an article titled “Go Love Yourself?” This advise column format is very typical for the Pearls, including both NGJ magazine and their books. I will reprint here both the letter and excerpts from the Pearls’ responses:

Dear Pearls,
My Wife and I are on different pages. The only thing that is keeping us together is the common goal of wanting the best for our fantastic daughter. When she leaves for university I intend to leave my wife. Am I wrong? Here is the situation:
1) I save; she squanders thousands.
2) I have been faithful. Yet for most of our 20 years of marriage she has pushed me away sexually and tells me repeatedly to go to the bathroom for release.
3) She claims I cannot be trusted and have to earn her respect.
4) She does not work. I make a six figure income. We are comfortable, but cannot afford the lifestyle she expects.
5) After work I am expected to help with housework, meals, and laundry, which I do. But the house is always a mess. She is a hoarder. There is a room of junk you cannot even get into.
6) Once she said she was going to report me as being abusive. I told her I would be glad to call the police on myself or report myself to the church. She said to call the church. I did. The church leaders knew the charge was bogus and said they wanted to stay out of the matter.
When my daughter goes to university I intend to give my wife 75 percent of the assets, walk away, and put my daughter through university. Is that reasonable?

Are you ready? Michael Pearl is about to use this one short letter to read this man’s mind.

Since I am hearing only one side of the story, it is impossible to judge the whole matter, but you have given me enough information to ask some pertinent questions of you and to make a factual observation concerning your wife.

First, hats off to Michael Pearl for realizing there is probably another side to this story! But what is this factual observation he can make about John’s wife?

Your wife is deeply pained, broken as a human being, unfulfilled as a woman and very lonely.

OH. That makes sense. No wait. Just where did the letter indicate that? This must be where Michael Pearl is reading John’s mind. And his wife’s mind, apparently. Impressive.

Her hoarding suggests she is insecure in her future, although that could be leftovers from an impoverished youth.

Wow! I never would have thought of that! I wonder which it is?

Your characterization of her is typical of a woman that has lived with the shame of being rejected for another woman, or of a woman whose husband has molested his child, or is into pornography. If none of these are true, the next thing I would consider is, did you create guilt in her by engaging in premarital sex? It is often the case that a highly principled virgin who surrenders to her passions and engages in shameful sex before marriage takes that guilt into the marriage and comes to identify all sex with shame and guilt.

I find it highly disturbing that Michael Pearl can learn everything about a person’s sex life by reading a short letter. I am resolving to never write a letter to Michael Pearl, because that’s just plain embarrassing.

So far your entire approach, as expressed in your letter, is to be concerned with your own needs and how you can meet them. You are self-centered, and insensitive.

Wow, he can even read your entire character from a simple letter! That’s amazing! Again, though, I am resolving not to ever write to Michael Pearl, because really, who wants their innermost thoughts and feelings broadcast to the world, or at least the readership of NGJ?
Debi gets in on the action next, and it appears that she can read minds too! Wow, what a team! No wonder their ministry has been so successful! So let’s take a look at what Debi has to say:

Your wife doesn’t respect you because you don’t respect yourself. She says you ‘cannot be trusted and have to earn her respect.’ I couldn’t respect a man that made love to himself in the bathroom either.

Scary that she can learn so much from one letter. I’m glad, though, that her response is cluing John in on the reality that he does not respect himself. It’s better he learn that now than that he spend the rest of his life miserable because he doesn’t respect himself. Now let’s see what Debi says about John’s wife:

Furthermore, she doesn’t like herself any better. … For twenty years, your wife has felt that she is a loser. … I suspect she has good-will toward you, but she appears to be a little lazy and self-centered.

Wow. Debi can read John’s wife’s mind without even having heard her side of the story at all! Let’s finish by looking at what Debi says is wrong with John and his wife’s marriage:

You neglected to lead!

Oh, I get it! If he’d taken the lead from the beginning and expected her to act as his devoted, submissive helpmeet, everything would have been all better! Debi goes on to tell John how to take charge of his marriage and fix it, which includes taking charge of the financial situation, closing all of his and his wife’s credit cards (without telling her), and putting his wife on an allowance. Debi explains that his wife will find these changes “disturbing yet stimulating.”
And see, if John had written his letter to me, I never would have been able to figure out any of that! My response would probably have been something like this:

Dear John,
Have you ever thought of going to a professional marriage counselor? I hear they’re very good at pinpointing the problems in troubled marriages like yours. I can give you the numbers for some good ones if you like.
Sincerely, Libby Anne

Fortunately, John has the Pearls to ask, because it’s obvious that compared to their advice – based on their amazing ability to read minds – my advice would have been crap!

[Because of Poe's Law, I will state here that this is what is called satire]

The Pennington Point on Adult Kids Living at Home
What the Ruff, the Spotted Hyena, and the Cuttlefish Taught Me about Gender and Sexuality
When We Expect More of Our Children than of Ourselves
Why Does Lily Work Two Jobs while Carl is Unemployed?
About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15528465833214550644 Katy-Anne

    Libby, it is totally not fair for you to post crap from the Pearl's when I am feeling nauseous. Can you please wait now until after I have the baby and morning sickness is over? :p

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15528465833214550644 Katy-Anne

    ^ I am kidding by the way. Well, about the waiting till after I have the baby bit. Not about the nausea or morning sickness or the fact that the Pearls make it worse.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16232186225573312896 Incongruous Circumspection

    Mwaaahahahahhaaha! Kristine read me that letter a few days ago and the first thing out of my mouth (aside from the myriad cuss words) was, "These idiots are so freaking proud of the fact that they can read minds.The fact is, the Swine Beads think that everything bad in this world happens due to not living your proper roles. I hate Debi with a passion. She is a b**** with a capital B. And Beard Man is worse than cocky. I would just love to go down there for one of their "weekends" and hang out with them, submitting myself to my wife (making sure she orders me around the whole time) just to get their reaction.A man hasn't lived until he submits to his wife. Mwahahahahahahaha!The Swine Beads are idiots.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17395406512079608484 Lyn

    Why would anyone take advice from the Pearls? I'd soon as take advice from barn owls. They'd probably say something like, "You need to bring her more dead animals. Girls love dead animals. Have you considered giving her bigger rats?" but it's still better than listening to the Pearls and barn owls are very good at raising kids, though you can ignore them going on about how to chop up a rat in fine pieces to feed to very young babies until they can swallow it whole.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03702441292981376229 Darcy

    So is is terribly awful of me that after I read that the other day, I thought what a relief it was to hear them berate a man instead of women for once? :P

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16232186225573312896 Incongruous Circumspection

    Right on, Darcy. I can't disagree with you there. But, none of their advice can be taken seriously because of the asinine foundation they come from. Sure, people who have been married can give others marital advice, but they don't just give advice. They give formulaic principles that, when followed, will ALWAYS work in your favor. Then, they claim those principles are unquestionably founded in the Bible. It's stupid, really.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10562805251128821984 Libby Anne

    Darcy – LOL. I had the same thought too! I couldn't believe they were berating the man instead of his wife! Lyn and Incongruous – I totally agree on the worthlessness of the Pearls (see my blog post, Casting the Pearls back to the Swine). But even with all the huge huge problems with their views on childrearing and on marriage, it still startles me how much they seem to think they can learn from reading a simple letter. Most of their books are based on responses to letters, and they do this every time. They think they can know everything about someone's sexual life, their walk with God, their innermost desires, from reading a short letter. It's like they really think they can read minds. And this really bugs me! You know, like everything else isn't enough, lol!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16232186225573312896 Incongruous Circumspection

    I agree. That is exactly the content of most of the words, mixed in with the cussing, that I yell at my wife when she tortures me by reading me the articles, with a smirk on her face. She knows what gets me riled up and plays it well. She sees the crap too.I'll be doing stuff on the Swine Beads as more letters roll in. It may seem like plagiarism to you because my mind-reading conclusion is exactly the same, but I really do think that it is BLATANTLY obvious to the objective reader.Nice job ripping it apart.One final thought. I laughed at their depiction of masturbation. First of all, they view it as sin, which is foolishness and stupidity, but then, as that wasn't asinine enough, they ended up twisting it around on the husband as if it was obvious that the wife was disgusted with him for doing the act.What a stupid conclusion! If the wife didn't want any, sending him in the bathroom must have been a relief! I agree the marriage needs good counseling or even a reset button, but it will take A LOT OF WORK! More than likely, more work than is possible.Marriage is not an easy thing, but it isn't nearly as sacred as the Swine Beads depict it as, if it is successful.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10562805251128821984 Libby Anne

    LOL, Incongruous, while we're on the subject of plagiarism, did you think of the term "swine beads" after reading my post "Casting the Pearls back to the Swine?" In all seriousness, though, I agree that my mind reading conclusion is indeed obvious. And to be perfectly honest, the idea started after I read someone else's blog post (don't even remember where now!) about how the Pearls' assumptions of a couple who had taken in a lost daughter of patriarchy were not justified given the shortness of their interaction with them. So yeah, does that mean I'M the plagiarizer?

  • Addy

    Um – the hording is an issue. Really. I would suggest the man get into to see a marriage counselor ASAP, but the counselor would probably tell him to leave his wife with no assets and for her to seek help for the hording/shopping addiction on her own. Women do that for the dopamine it's the same chemical release as men get with hunting, and if she's not having sex with him, something is clearly broken in that marriage.He's not very smart in asking the Pearls, and he is kind of running away from the problem without dealing with it correctly with a professional. He's also looking for a stamp of approval for his plan, rather than being willing to get help. If you make 6 figures, you can afford some professional help. Writing a letter is free. Cheapo.FAIL.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15172112981244682382 shadowspring

    I want to *like* Lyn's post. =D

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16232186225573312896 Incongruous Circumspection

    In answer to your Swine Beads question. Yes! I was always looking for a good nickname for those idiots and you provided the perfect one!Also, a while ago, someone commented on Commandments of Men about the Pearl's and I went off on them, detailing the Swine Beads' innate mind-reading abilities. It really sucks to see people swallow it as if it is impressive logic.

  • Final Anonymous

    Darcy — me too. I'm not proud of it, but there it is. ; )

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10353346026765317698 College At Thirty

    I have a question about the whole beating off in the bathroom thing. Do you think that the woman just misread the letter superficially, or is she expecting him as the "authority" to force his wife so that she doesn't have to feel ashamed at his ungodly behavior? I'm not involved in the patriarchal movement, so I'm sort of looking at this letter from an outsider's point of view, and I can't figure out how she's twisting it.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07630805993208700804 Sara Amis

    Quoth Lyn: "I'd soon as take advice from barn owls. They'd probably say something like, 'You need to bring her more dead animals. Girls love dead animals. Have you considered giving her bigger rats?"GENIUS, I SAY. PURE GENIUS.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14791763524324073873 Bethany

    'Your characterization of her is typical of a woman that has lived with the shame of being rejected for another woman' and following….Good grief! Did they really just come that close to accusing the man of being unfaithful or having premarital sex? In the article, they also accuse the man of hurting and rejecting his wife. Where is even a suggestion of this?A friend of mine just today mentioned this exact article, so I was amused to see it pop up again so soon. NOW I know what my friend was so upset about…Incongruous Circumspection, your assessment of Debi is spot-on. I have never seen such vicious attacks on women as those she makes in just one chapter [the only one I've read] of CTBHH. Coincidentally, I also recently wrote an article about the Pearls, specifically Created to be his Helpmeet, which might be interesting. Thanks Libby for posting this.

  • May

    I was always confused about people who seem to treat everyone they meet as though they already know everything there is to know about them, until I read this article:http://youarenotsosmart.com/2011/08/21/the-illusion-of-asymmetric-insight/Now this sort of phenomenon makes sense to me. We all do this unconsciously to some degree, people like the Pearls just take it to an extreme.

  • Anonymous

    Wow, reading this scares me to death because as some of you were brought up loving the lord, he has given you over the world, which God will do in your unbeleif and sin. I see the problem may be that although you were homeschooled once sent out into the world, you did not have the skills of christian apologetics, defending the faith or debate…college and the world was a shock for you. I don't hate you, like you would probably hate me…I trust in God, and he has us all where is wants us, scary as that me be, he is in charge, be careful, fear the lord, and do not panic, he is in control, no matter what your circumstances.

    • BabyRaptor

      “I don’t hate you like you would probably hate me….”

      Persecution complex much? Trust me; nobody here hates you. Nobody here even thinks of you. You’re going to have to find your ego stroke elsewhere.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16232186225573312896 Incongruous Circumspection

    ROTFLOL! Wait….is that satire????!!If not, because this comment was posted on this post, I think Anon can replace all words like "God" with Michael Pearl. Wow. Seriously.

  • Anonymous

    I can't help feeling that the "letter" was totally fake, invented by the Pearls so they could get brownie points for scolding a man.Of course, they still twisted things around to the Glorious World of Extreme Patriarchy.How does a human brain get to that point? boggles the mind.