Quoting Quiverfull: Surviving the End of the World as We Know it? Part1

Quoting Quiverfull: Surviving the End of the World as We Know it? Part1 September 27, 2014

world explosionby Michael Pearl from No Greater Joy – How to Survive the Coming Apocalypse Part 1

or as I like to call it ‘Fear-Mongering 101’

Michael has written a series of posts on what to do if those ‘evul liburuls’ he likes to rant about bring about the end of ordered society. This is the first of those, complete with a fake letter to the Pearls asking for help.

First: The Letter

Dear Mr. Pearl,

We live in the suburbs of a fairly large city. We homeschool our six children and also home church. We are very concerned about the way our country is going. There are so many bad things happening in the world, and the signs point to the coming of antichrist and the tribulation. We talk about moving to a remote place to live so we can protect the children when everything falls apart, but we do not have the slightest idea where to begin. If we could find a place and live around people of like mind who could help us get started, we would probably make the move. Do you have any recommendation? Do you know of a community of believers that has room for one more family?

This is followed by Michael going down a long, long rabbit hole to explain his and Debi’s history with CPS, the John Birch Society and other crazy-sounding conspiracy end of the world thoughts. Revealing. Emphasis in the paragraph is mine.

By the late seventies, Deb and I had begun homeschooling, a practice unheard of in Memphis, Tennessee. After three hostile visits from Child Protective Services (CPS) with threats to take away our children, and then our big day appearing before the judge, we were beginning to wonder about a 1984-like scenario and Big Brother. Could the John Birch Society and its kind be right? We were pressed to form plans to escape the hand of those who “knew best what was good for our children.” The kids knew the signal that meant they were to go to the basement, climb up on the washing machine, open the window quietly, and slip through the woods to an old, abandoned barn about one mile away and wait for their grandparents to pick them up and take them out of state to a secret location.

After several visits and warnings from CPS, a certified letter delivered by a sheriff notified us to bring our children and appear in the judge’s chamber on Monday morning at ten o’clock. We stowed the children for hasty departure from the state and went to see the judge alone. It was the first volley in a battle we fought and eventually won, but it did not give us any confidence in the goodwill of what I now knew to be our socialist government.

After spilling Pearl family history Michael finally gets to the answer, sort of:

But just because we have peace on the inside and can overcome the world, that does not mean I want to be thrown into the fiery furnace, or go hungry, or be vulnerable to a political system hostile to traditional family and Christianity. It would be foolish to sit on my faith and take lightly the possibility of coming hardship and deprivation. We should prepare but not panic. We should plan while we pray. We should get ready but remain steady. While laying up our treasure in heaven, we should lay up a store for the day of famine here on earth. Did not God warn the Egyptians of hard times coming? And did not their preparation see them through the days of dearth? Noah received a warning of coming judgment and “prepared an ark to the saving of his house” (Hebrews 11:7). While believing in God’s care and provision, we can save him a miracle by using the brain he gave us to take care of ourselves. “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (1 Timothy 5:8).

Why is anyone taking any advice from this guy? Why is it that so much of the Christian Patriarchy Movement is consumed with believing the worst is just around the corner and that they have to personally prepare for some apocalyptic doomsday scenario? Part 2 tomorrow.

QUOTING QUIVERFULL is a regular feature of NLQ – we present the actual words of noted Quiverfull leaders and ask our readers: What do you think? Agree? Disagree? This is the place to state your opinion. Please, let’s keep it respectful – but at the same time, we encourage readers to examine the ideas of Quiverfull and Spiritual Abuse honestly and thoughtfully.

Comments open below

NLQ Recommended Reading …

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement by Kathryn Joyce

13:24 – A Story of Faith and Obsession by M Dolon Hickmon

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  • Nea

    Okay, this theme hits a big red button in my soul, so get comfortable and make popcorn, imma have a long rant now.

    It would be foolish to … take lightly the possibility of coming hardship and deprivation. We should prepare.

    “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own
    house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (1
    Timothy 5:8).

    Survival stories are a popular narrative: So! Many! stories are about pitting yourself against the elements or struggling against disaster, war, etc. That’s the reason behind the success of everything from Grapes of Wrath to The Poseidon Adventure. Even adventure stories that aren’t expressly about survival – Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter come to mind – have survival scenes of everything from the march through the mountains to the Siege of Hogwarts (both the internal one by Umbridge and the external one by Voldemort.)

    Tribulation narratives, IMO, take the ever-popular survival theme and marry them to what Slacktivist has called out as a revenge fantasy: You don’t follow my rules or my religion and someday my God will beat you up and punish you!

    Now add in gender essentialism. The Pearls, Driscoll, even Gothard in his subtler way are All About The Manly Male Man. To be masculine is to be physically strong and psychologically demanding, aggressive, and competitive. Anything short of that is not a “real” man. Driscoll talks about “pussified men;” Pearl writes about how a farmer is more of a “success” as a human being than his brothers the doctor and the scientist.

    Tie it all together with a Bible verse that can be interpreted as Only Men Who Handle Everything Are Saved and what do you get? A divine revenge survival fantasy where all the righteous, strong blue collar men curb-stomp the geeks and the nerds and the feminists and the uppity once and for all.

    Frankly, I’m surprised more people don’t want to see themselves as that hero.

    Problem: The world doesn’t work that way. Civilization runs on geeks and nerds and educated people.

    Solution: End civilization. Gary North is an excellent canary for this coal mine (except, to mix my metaphors, he’s always crying wolf when there isn’t one.) In order, according to him, the Russians will nuke us back to the stone age, AIDS will overwhelm the social safety net, and Y2K will fry every single piece of technology ever — including the ones that don’t give a damn what year it is. All the wonks and liberals die off without their coddling-I-mean-social-safety-net and those who knew what Real Men and True Women were are left standing.

    EXCEPT! Again, the world does not work that way. It really, really doesn’t. Because we’ve been through HOW many things that make the technological infrastructure fail, just in my lifetime? Wildfires, hurricanes, earthquakes, typhoons, Sandy, Katrina, both East Coast blackouts (which each took out several *entire states* and stretched up to Canada) and yes, a handful of Y2K computer glitches.

    The problem with the survival narrative is that knocking out the technological infrastructure does not knock humanity back to the stone age (I’m looking at you, oh-so-many SF shows and novels). It knocks PART of the country back to around the colonial era until the rescue teams start showing up, which can often be measured in minutes or hours.

    (Why, yes, I DO think that the religious revenge/survival narrative is why the GOP wants to gut both Government and FEMA. Because when they’re supported, they’re very good in situations like this.)

    Of course, the Tribulation is Bigger, Better, More Widespread! That’ll take care of all those uppity rescue teams when the whole grid goes down all over the world!

    Except… we’re STILL not going to end up in the stone age because too many people know how to restart at the vacuum tube age and/or generate their own electricity. And if for some magical reason electricity still won’t work — and it would have to be magical — then there is far too much memory of how the age of steam worked. (Steampunkers aren’t just people who dress with gears on their clothes.)

    But if somehow everyone with first-hand knowledge of the remaining infrastructure (including its manual overrides) AND knowledge of how to generate electricity AND knowledge of how to build steam engines gets wiped out, then we end up in the stone medieval age and need all those Religious Manly True Men to save our pansy asses, don’t we? Huh? Huh? Don’t we?

    Not so fast. Because to truly, TRULY lose knowledge you don’t just take out the people who have it. You have to take out every library, ever, everywhere, AND the knowledge of how to read, because all of this tech, every single bit of it, is written down somewhere. And if you do *that* you STILL have to stifle anyone and everyone smart enough to look at the pieces and think “I bet I can figure out how that worked.”

    That is what I think when I read about the End Of The World As We Know It. That the world is a surprisingly tough bugger to end.

  • Anonyme

    I want to know why the CPS was called. I wonder why the Pearls were so “suspicious” of the CPS that they made their kids run into the woods or bussed them out of town. If you’re really believe your doing the right thing by your children, you shouldn’t have to set up an escape plan for your kids when CPS comes (thre times!!) and make plans to bus them out of town before a court date. Were they afraid their little angels would tell about the beatings?

  • Nightshade

    But a woman is supposed to just sit on her faith and take lightly the possibility that her husband’s actions might directly cause hardship and deprivation not just for himself, but for her and their children.

  • Edie Moore McGee

    “Why is it that so much of the Christian Patriarchy Movement is consumed with believing the worst is just around the corner and that they have to personally prepare for some apocalyptic doomsday scenario?”

    Because fear keeps people in line.

  • Saraquill

    There are not enough bludgeoning tool to express my disgust that Pearl took great pains to keep his children in harm’s way. May a dozen birds poop on his bare head today.

  • Allison the Great

    Cannot up vote this enough. You, my friend, are a fuckin’ master.

  • Joy

    Especially a fear that is external to the group. It prevents group members from looking at what is occurring within the group.

  • Mermaid Warrior

    I think many apocalypse stories have some degree of personal fantasy to them. Everyone wants to think that if society falls, they’ll be the badass running around the country, being able to do whatever they want and kicking everyone’s asses.

    Definitely agree with what you say. People are always talking about how some thing or another is going to kill us all quickly, but humans are extremely adaptive. That’s exactly how we’ve survived. We aren’t exceptionally strong or fast, and we don’t have big teeth or claws. (although we have great endurance!) But we’re smart. We make up for the lack of teeth and claws with weapons. We can survive in cold environments by making clothing and shelter and building fires. We’re very omnivorous and can hunt, gather, prepare and eat a variety of things.

  • Mermaid Warrior

    Yep, the devil you know is better than the one you don’t. Even if you’re unhappy, you can’t leave because the outside world is so much worse.

    Whenever someone asks me what emotional abuse is, I first ask them if they’ve seen the Disney movie “Tangled”. It’s a rather disturbingly accurate portrayal of these kinds of things, like Mother Gothel is always telling Rapunzel how horrible the outside world is because if she gets unhappy, she’d otherwise try to escape. (someone making this movie definitely knew what they were talking about…)

  • Nea


  • Nea

    Considering that Pearl makes it a point of rule to beat at the place of infraction within 15 seconds of infraction, CPS was probably called by witnesses. Or the people who noticed that they were begging for food for the kids.

    And of course you can’t let CPS near the family. The kids might be told that Michael isn’t God. The government certainly wouldn’t treat him like God.

  • Nea

    Fear + the thrill of knowing that THEY are going to be okay, unlike anyone else.

  • Nea

    I find it eyerolling. Part because of how hard it is for the world to actually end (see my long rant in part 1 of this topic) and part because if the world DOES end, so will their supply of ammunition, duh!

    At which point the medievalists who know how to make longbows, crossbows, and arrows are going to kick their ass when their guns stop going “bang.” (What, re-enactors can’t have revenge fantasies too? 🙂 )

    Seriously, if you want a survival weapon, you want a crossbow. Far easier to repair and keep in ammo. ETA: And I have seriously boggled some gun supporters by saying that.

  • lodrelhai

    She also repeatedly knocks Rapunzel – weak, naive, ditzy, vague, underdressed, plain, etc. It compounds the threats of the outside world, because if her mother, who loves her, sees these things in her, what will all those vicious strangers do?

  • Amarad

    Fear is at the heart of *everything* in the Christian Patriarchy Movement. Fear through abuse, fear of the doomsday, fear of the government, of outsiders, of those without sufficient faith. Fear is the easiest form of effective tyranny, particularly when all you want is obedience.

    That fear keeps people isolated from outsiders who might offer help, from seeking an alternative or escape. They might take your children away! It even helps keep the fathers in-line and ‘staying the course’ when some glimmer of empathy or sanity tries to break through.

  • Astrin Ymris

    I think people who are afraid that they can’t “compete successfully” in the modern secular world are more likely to be swept into Quiverful-type religious movements. That way, they don’t have to risk being a “loser” because they’ve opted out of competition… but when Jesus comes back, THEY’LL be the elite ones! Or when they die anyway.

    It’s no accident that the Religious Right is comprised of both neo-libertarian billionaires and CPM megafamilies living in poverty, any more that it’s a coincidence that membership in fundgelical denominations exploded just as the “Greed is Good” meme began dominating the public sphere. The two feed off of each other.

  • gimpi1

    “Why is anyone taking advice from this guy?”

    That is the question. He’s wrong about how families work, his child “training” book has led to children being disabled or killed, he openly boasts about being poorly educated, many of his grown children live in questionable circumstances, he appears to be an unrepentant bully, and he gets basic facts badly wrong. (“…what I now know to be our socialist government,” indeed.)

    I can only assume that, sadly, there’s a market for misinformation, if you stamp “Bible” all over it. I suppose Answers in Genesis proves that beyond a shadow of a doubt.

  • gimpi1

    Perfect. Just perfect. I’ve thought this for years about all the doomsday movies, books and prophecies that I’ve experienced in the last 50 years or so, and you’ve summed up what’s wrong with them far better than I ever did. I will be quoting you.

  • Mermaid Warrior

    I think the movie definitely deserves more praise than it gets; it’s a bit more emotionally complex than what we see as the typical Disney fairy tale. And like with real life emotional abusers, it’s not really about protection, it’s about control. She knows the outside world isn’t THAT dangerous, but she doesn’t want to risk Rapunzel leaving her.

  • Melody

    I, for one, am still occassionally shaking off axiety and fear over end-times stuff. Being raised on the rapture, meant I was often afraid when the house was empty or silent that my parents had been taken to heaven and I was left behind! This caused me to panic enourmously because the end-times are like hell on earth…and now I had to live through it, on my own as a kid (and still would be thrown into hell at the end of it all). I slipped in survival mode: it was important to stay alive as long as possible because life an earth (even in the end-times) was still better than hell itself. The movie like a thief in the night was etched unto my memory: the way the movie ends especially : the guy has converted in his dream but then he wakes up and the rapture has actually happened and he is too late to do anything about it… It horrified me every time. Thinking back it is no wonder I had trouble seeing God as a kind and loving Father (or heaven forbid Mother 🙂 ) , not with these kind of images in my head!