by Calulu cross posted from her blog True Love Doesn’t Rape
Introduction – “Our Biggest Test Begins”
For the last year I’ve been gingerly attempting to read this book for the purposes of writing a review. Invariably what would happen is I would either snort in outrage or be triggered by some statement straight out of my old fundamentalist life and I’d end up abandoning the book in it’s entirety for months.
Let me state for the record that I am not a Duggar family fan. In fact, I believe they may be the most dangerous weapon that the Evangelical Right has.
How so? The Duggars show the lifestyle of Quiverfull in a way so attractive that it fools the average American television viewer into thinking that while the Duggars lead a lifestyle that is religious it is essentially harmless. You see a well-scrubbed, polite, behaved and parent-honoring brood of children without seeing any of the usual reality of families like theirs.
Sometimes I look at their family and think about that old horror movie “The Children of the Corn”
It’s the equivalent of sausage commercials, you see the beautifully cooked sausages arranged with loving care on an attractive porcelain plate without seeing the raising of the hogs, the kill floor, and the processing plant where those hogs are run through the grinders and stuffed into the casings. It skips all the unpleasant realities of the situation that have to happen for the sausages to land on that pretty china.
The Duggars show a side to American viewers, that while it does exist, it glosses over the things that led to this. Through the years references to ATI, blanket training and a slew of other things in the Duggaralia have disappeared as they’ve refined their message to the masses to make Quiverfull more socially desirable.
Most Duggar-like Quiverfull families you see are living fifteen children of all ages in a tiny three bedroom house with one bathroom. Bedrooms stacked with bunkbeds like cordwood. Second hand possessions and donated items. Financial struggles and some hardship. If I was one of them I’d be seriously pissed about how easy and perfect the Duggars make it all seem.
If this is what you want and you know going in that it might be a struggle that’s one thing, but to see the Duggars and accept their lifestyle as it is shown is being horribly deceived.
On to the book.
I was interested in reading the book because of the fact that this was the book that dealt with the challenges the family faced when their reproductive gambling came up snake eyes. How did the family manage to function during the premature birth of Josie Duggar. The birth of a premature baby would put undue stressers on any family, but might be a special challenge for a bigger family.
Usually this is where I would complain about how the Duggar fecundity would be sheer foolishness due to the advancing age of Michelle Duggar and the many children she’d birthed. Even statistics show that the older the mother is and the more births the odds are good something bad will eventually happen. You can only throw that hot dog down the hallway so many times before the door knobs get dented and floor greasy.
The introduction starts with Michelle describing Friday, December 4, 2009, before Josie and her early arrival. By the second paragraph you get a good taste of how ‘abnormal’, even by evangelical Christian measure, the day to day is in the Duggar family. The day starts with the kids getting ready for a film crew, grooming, chores, music practice and homeschooling. Half of the children are packing for an El Salvador mission trip. The first mention is the filming, not that the children should study or clean. Getting ready for filming took first priority.
The day was eaten up by the filming of the Australian film crew, the way the book reads the filming was the most important part of the busy day. Reenforces exactly what the priorities of JimBob and Michelle really are, raising their children in the media eye. Any publicity is good according to the gospel of JimBob. Even if it interferes with school and chores.
During much of the day Michelle was resting, thinking she was passing a kidney stone. But it’s obvious something more is going on and she goes to the hospital for tests. She managed to put off going to the hospital until after the film crew left.
I will give her credit for taking full advantage of modern medicine instead of shunning it and ending up with a much worse outcome.
The rest of the introduction was spend on babbling over how their faith would be tested and how even the very marital relationship would be challenged. Hey, but at least they don’t have to worry about keeping the house clean or having to find someone to babysit the kids. Built in ‘Buddies’ run everything.
JimBob broke the news to the kids, telling them that momma and baby might die:
“Pray hard,” Jim Bob would tell them as tears welled up in his eyes. “Pray to God for Mama and for the baby; pray like you’re never prayed before!”
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Calulu lives near Washington DC , was raised Catholic in South Louisiana before falling in with a bunch of fallen Catholics whom had formed their own part Fundamentalist, part Evangelical church. After fifteen uncomfortable years drinking that Koolaid she left nearly 6 years ago. Her blogs are True Love Doesn’t Rape and Calulu – Seeking The Light
NLQ Recommended Reading …
‘Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich
‘Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland
‘Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce