A Love That Multiplies ~ The Duggar's New Book

by Hopewell

Regular readers of this blog know that I watch TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting–” a reality show featuring the family of Jim-B0b and Michelle Duggar. I make some people very happy with my blog posts on this family and get flames from others. Such is life!! So, when I spotted a used copy of their new book so I could “buy used and save the difference,” just like the Duggar’s recommend, I knew I’d have to review it here!

Like everything Duggar there is much to admire here: some good tips about listening to your children, listening to your spouse, spending time as a family, spending time in God’s word, gathering together with other believers, living debt free, controlling your anger, modeling good behavior, drawing close in times of crisis, and looking for learning opportunities all around you.

A Season of Re-Runs:

This book, however, does have a few flaws that need examining. First: repeat, repeat, repeat! Much of this book is a virtual transcript of several recent episodes of “19 Kids and Counting” (or it’s previous incarnations). If the reader has never seen an episode it might be new, but I doubt it. Like any politician, Jim-Bob “stays on message.” You can find nearly everything in this book in other radio or podcast interviews, newspaper or magazine stories or blog posts.

Another big problem is that this book, when not repeating everything said in the past, is a public relations exercise. Nearly everything the Duggars have ever been criticized for on message boards, blogs, in the press–it all gets “answered” here. Don’t expect any shocking answers! Jim-Bob stays on message. [Read more...]

NLQ Review: Sex, Mom and God by Frank Schaeffer

Midwife at the Birth of Quiverfull

A review by Hopewell

Frank Schaeffer, son of Fran and Edith Schaeffer of L’Abri fame, continues his personal memoirs in his new book Sex, Mom, and God: How the Bible’s Strange Take on Sex Led to Crazy Politics–and How I Learned to Love Women (and Jesus) Anyway. Before I review the book I want to say that I was sent a copy to review by Frank Schaeffer, but was not paid for my review so the views expressed here are my own.


I have often cited Schaeffer’s “Calvin Becker Trilogy”
as some of the funniest books I’ve ever read. That said, I’ve found his non-fiction version of his life to be tougher reading. While his fiction is trim, funny and pulls the reader fully into the story, his non-fiction sort of rambles. And has a somewhat bitter edge to it. Considering his upbringing, these are not surprising and they do not come across as whining–more like talking in circles. That said, I learned a lot of new information in this volume, and did certainly get some good laughs.

Readers of this blog who read and critique my Duggar-family posts, will be especially interested in Frank’s role in birthing the Quiverfull movement. Way back in the Day, when he was still styled “Franky Schaeffer” (to distinguish him from from his same-named father), Frank was literary agent to a new Christian author named Mary Pride. With the Schaeffer name attached, Pride’s book was a shoe-in. Today we know her, and her (in)famous book, The Way Home: Beyond Feminism, Back to Reality as the Spiritual Mother of the Quiverfull Movement. Frank(y) then, was her midwife.


What makes Frank(y)’s role so intriguing, is the fact that his parents were very much pro-birth control. His mother, who in fact and fiction, loved nothing (except maybe the Lord) more than discussing sex, revealed to her very young son that not only was his father a “passionate” lover, but his needs were such that they had marital relations every day–even when Mom was “off the roof” and Biblically unclean due to menstruation. She also showed him her diaphram and explained its purpose fully to her surprised son.


Known as well for her talks on the importance of keeping a man’s needs fulfilled as she was for her Hidden Art of Homemaking
[life style and book of same name--which predate Martha Stewart and still have a cult-like following today], Edith famously said that even on the Mission Field a wife needs a see-thru black nightie to entertain her husband. After “The Way Home,” Edith questioned her son with “Where did you find this unfortunate woman?” Like much of Edith’s prose, rhetoric and general life questions, this is a question still relevant today.
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Duggar-bashing

by Vyckie

The comments on Hopewell’s latest Duggar piece are particularly interesting to me ~ especially when compared to the reactions over at Free Jinger ~ Quiverfull of Snark, where the consensus seems to be that Hopewell graded the Duggars way too generously.

What’s important to notice about this article ~ and Nikita’s comment really made this point ~ is that in delineating that very long, tedious 49-point list and giving the Duggar family a grade on how they measure up ~ it really highlights the tremendous amount of legalism, the impossibly high (and often warped) standards ~ and just how unrealistic this Quiverfull ideal is: Not even the Quiverfull Royalty ~ not even practically-perfect-in-every-way (and that’s not snark) Michelle Duggar can live up to the expectations which are held up as the biblical criteria for a truly Godly family.

Christian families can knock themselves out ~ they can try with all their might ~ but they’re chasing after an elusive and unrealistic dream and they’re on the road to burn-out, overload, disenchantment and in some cases, heartache and a crisis of health or loss of faith.
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49 Character Qualities of the Duggars: A Report Card

[Note: The point of this post is not about passing judgment on the Duggar family. The question is, does the lifestyle they endorse actually do what they say it will? Is it the perfect formula for a godly family? Or is what we’re seeing just a set of normal people striving within a very difficult way of living?

This post examines the Duggars’ own lives within the paradigm they themselves endorse. Given that we only see what our televisions allow us to-- does what we can see, reflect the image held up to us? And if it does not, how can we be sure about what we can‘t see?

No one expects the Duggars to be perfect. But that is not the question. The real question is: are they really showing us the best, most godly way to live-- or are we recipients of some level of what might be called “false advertising?” Please read "Duggar Bashing" for Vyckie's perspective on this Report Card..]

All of Bill Gothard’s 49 Character Qualities can be viewed online here.

by Hopewell

Alertness vs. Unawareness

Being aware of that which is taking place around me so I can have the right response to it (Mark 14:38)

Parents Jim-Bob and Michelle often seem oblivious to all that’s going on around them! Not to mention their apparent total disregard for OSHA regulations in building their home, it’s been quite a few years [on TV at least] since a bike helmet has been spotted and the girls continue to run things like an saw for cutting tile in loose dresses with unsecured long hair. Negative marks to Josh for only showing alertness of greed on the birth of his daughter and opting to have his wife deliver at home instead of overriding her panic at a new doctor. Sorry, but that seems more like “oh no, we’ll lose ratings for not showing the birth!” than any real concern for Anna and the baby. Kuddos, though, to Josh and John David for being alert to a roadside accident victim and performing lifesaving assistance. A big improvement in alertness to little Josie since her near-death experience when first home.

Grade for the Family D+

Attentiveness vs. Unconcern

Showing the worth of a person by giving undivided attention to his words and emotions (Hebrews 2:1)

Jim-Bob and Michelle model this perfectly for their children. Michelle’s rapt gaze as Jim-Bob speaks encourages her husband and shows him that what he is saying matters to her. As is typical of younger people, Josh and Anna struggle with this one more—especially Joshua who is likely used to being the oldest and shouting the loudest. He has gotten better at this over his first year, almost two years, of marriage.

Cousin Amy struggles with this. Grandma has it down to a “t” and the four oldest girls are coming along fine.

GRADE for the family: B+

Availability vs. Self-centeredness

Making my own schedule and priorities secondary to the wishes of those I am serving (Philippians 2:20–21)

The Duggars teach their children “J.O.Y: Jesus First, Others Second, Yourself Last.” And, surprisingly, they do a decent job of this. We’ve seen the girls make middle-of-the-night breakfast for Dad on his way to the hospital with Mama, Grandma tirelessly manning the single washer and dryer in the Little Rock house, Grandma cleaning and watching kids whenever needed, John David helping at Josh’s car lot, John David and Joseph staying behind to continue working on the Bates’ home, the older girls helping at everything all the time, Josiah picking flowers for Grandma and the girls, kids making cards and banners, even Cousin Amy pitching in to help with the little kids. Michelle loses some points here for not seeming to respond much to her little children’s needs for love and affection. (This could be the editing of the show, but seems likely to be more than that).

Grade for the family: A-
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Debt-Free Duggars ~ Pt. 1: How Quiverfull Couples Support All Those Kids!

by Hopewell

The Duggar Income Stream [minus TLC]

Before TLC and their reality TV show offer came on the scene, Jim-Bob and Michelle Duggar were already on their way to financial security—a situation not normally found in homes with no college-educated adult. But, like the people profiled in the book the Millionaire Next Door, Jim-Bob and Michelle have always lived BELOW their means and have always had common sense about purchases.

They also share a vision for the type of family life they wanted to lead. While Jim-Bob did hold a job, and a mortgage, at the time they married he soon realized this was not a sensible way to live. His love of buying cars, fixing them up himself, and reselling them for a profit was the first step to a secure future. Although he acknowledges that the used car business is not looked on with much respect, he decided to set up a car lot and run it in a Christian manner. Soon he was making enough off used cars to quit his day job. Eventually, they rented out the mortgaged house and moved into a tiny house on the car lot to increase their income. Along the way, he made a few good decisions [and a few bad ones]. (Duggar, chapters 1 & 2 and “17 Kids and Counting: Cheaper by the Duggars”).

One good decision was to buy a tow truck. While the first model he bought wasn’t worth the money, unlike many college-grads he knew enough about cars and other equipment to buy the towing equipment and winch off another tow truck, hold on to it, save up for a truck to put it on and eventually he had an excellent tow truck and no loan. The towing business grew fast and he had to hire help. Finally the collateral supplied by the car lot inventory, a bent for strong and creative negotiations and the savings from their income allowed the Duggars to enter the true source of their security: REAL ESTATE. (Duggar, chapters 2 & 3).

Jim-Bob’s parents were in real estate and soon Jim-Bob and Michelle also got realtors licenses. Jim-Bob discovered he had an eye for investment properties and the stomach for deal making. After saving up $65,000 to pay cash for the home they would still be living in when they filmed their first TV special, the Duggars went on to make several profitable real estate deals. One deal, which cost about the same amount as the house, netted them a profit of nearly $200,000 after Jim-Bob put in a few hours on a backhoe clearing the site. They also bought a 20-acre parcel of land with an old chicken hatchery on it. They converted the building into commercial rental space and used part of the land for their dream home. The rent collected from the rental properties was their main income for several years. In their show (“17 Kids and Counting: Cheaper by the Duggars”) he shows viewers the property he owns and leases to a cell phone company for their transmission tower. In addition to the real estate deals, Jim-Bob often buys and sells other items. While building their home, he acquired and resold a bucket-lift truck and a scissor-lift among other equipment (Duggars 20 and Counting and elsewhere).

Jim-Bob figured out how to efficiently provide for his family by being observant, staying debt-free and having assets that could be quickly liquefied to provide cash for new ventures and by using all his negotiating skills to get great deals when he did buy big ticket items. Without a high-paying white collar profession, Jim-Bob would have been routinely away from his family for 80 or more hours a week to try to earn the income they needed. Instead, he found a way to provide a level of income for the family God would send him and still be at home to help with that family as much as possible.

[Read more...]