Joshua Harris Marriage Ending so Lori Alexander Blames the Wife?

Joshua Harris Marriage Ending so Lori Alexander Blames the Wife? July 22, 2019

This is actually old news, from last week. I’ve refrained from commenting on this because others in the Quiverfull world were behaving so poorly, Larry Solomon, Trey Magnusson, Doug Wilson. It made the announce of the breakup of the Harris marriage small sad potatoes.

For those unfamiliar with Harris he had a huge influence on the Quiverfull and Evangelical ‘True Love Waits’ crowd. Not just teaching abstinence from sexual behavior outside of marriage, but going much farther, teaching that even thinking about another person in that would spoil your purity. Josh Harris wrote “I Kissing Dating Goodbye” and much of the purity culture people latched onto his ideas of soul ties, no dating, courtship only models.

His book was quite frankly obsessed with sex, while saying sex was only for marriage. Harris said you should wait to even kiss until after you’d spoken your marriage vows. Purity culture on steroids, and like steroids it did some damage to so many young people that followed his edicts.  We’ve published so many stories here in the past from young people who came out of Quiverfull with strange ideas about relationships with the opposite sex that did nothing but create significant problems for them.

It’s interesting to note that all of the courtship/marriage couples in Harris’s various books are all divorced now. It does not say anything positive for the simplistic theology of purity culture working out in complex reality.

During my QF years I was always subtly opposed to this theology. But my youngest daughter bought it wholesale, hook, line and sinker, lecturing me on it while reading “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” and “Dateable. Are You? Are They?” By Justin Lookadoo.

My objection then and now is that part of growing up, growing independent is learning how to navigate relationships, friendships, other people, even if there is no romantic subtext going on. It’s an important skill that the tendency of Evangelicals to shelter their children skips.

Moot point now because Lookadoo has had a DUI arrest and renamed and reedited that book I mentioned. It used to be titled “R U Dateable” but seems to bc scrubbed from Amazon and other places.

A couple of years ago Joshua Harris apologized for his book, stopping publishers from releasing  new copies. Enough time has passed that he realizes how harmful his words are. There’s even a movie out about it now. I’m not sure his apologies are enough for those harmed by the book.  Only those who struggled with that version of purity culture can determine if it’s enough, and everything I’ve seen seems to suggest it is not.

Now Harris and his wife have announced they are separating and planning on divorcing. I feel horribly sad for them, but not surprised. Toxic purity culture takes two more victims.

Wife Shannon Harris is reportedly writing a play about her journey away from faith as well as the purity culture. I cannot wait to see what she comes up with.

I wish them both health, happiness and healing. Divorce is tough enough when you’re not in the public eye having to eat a heaping helping of Evangelical crow at the same time.

Most people are not surprised, but a few of our regular cultural enforcers have had a plethora of nasty things to say, in particular Lori Alexander of The Transformed Wife. How sick and sad. I’ve always said that fundamentalists and evangelicals eat their own dead.

This is the response of one of Lori’s Top Fans. How classy. How Christlike. There are many more I could share from the awful pile of nasty reactions at Lori Alexander’s various social media accounts, but this is pretty much the pinnacle of blaming and shaming. It’s all much of the same.

I’ll leave you with this quote from Harris on his journey:

“I think it’s made us realize how there’s heartache and there’s pain no matter which pathway you choose in life,” Harris said. “There’s no path that you can choose that can protect you from that.”

Jesus wept.


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NLQ Recommended Reading …

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement by Kathryn Joyce

I Fired God by Jocelyn Zichtermann

13:24 A Dark Thriller by M Dolon Hickmon

About Suzanne Titkemeyer
Suzanne Titkemeyer went from a childhood in Louisiana to a life lived in the shadow of Washington D.C. For many years she worked in the field of social work, from national licensure to working hands on in a children's residential treatment center. Suzanne has been involved with helping the plights of women and children' in religious bondage. She is a ordained Stephen's Minister with many years of counseling experience. Now she's retired to be a full time beach bum in Tamarindo, Costa Rica with the monkeys and iguanas. She is also a thalassophile. She also left behind years in a Quiverfull church and loves to chronicle the worst abuses of that particular theology. She has been happily married to her best friend for the last 33 years. You can read more about the author here.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Holly Baby Catkiss

    I’m going through a divorce and trust me it’s not a piece of cake as people or what movies/TV say it is. You have to jump through a bunch of hoops just to get divorced, but there’s hardly any hoops to jump through in order to get married. People should get divorced if a spouse is abusive or abandoned the family, but then again why would you stay in a relationship much less a marriage that you don’t want to be in. For me there’s no reconciliation. I will NOT submit to any man much less my husband. Yet, I get blamed for my abuse (by the same type of people) for not “submitting enough” to my husband. No, I’m not a doormat. No, I will NOT end up beaten or dead.

  • Friend

    A big 1ie here from Lori:

    Others must be told that what they are doing is wrong instead of so many congratulating them.

    I’ve read many blog posts, news stories, and comments about the Harris separation. Have not see one hint of congratulations. People are feeling sad or angry or betrayed, withholding judgment, pointing out the damage of the book, hoping that the two will find peace, expressing worry about their children, etc.

    Of course, the Lori crowd thinks that one separation has to have cosmic meaning. The sky is falling, or he never was a Christian, or some crazy cause-and-effect fantasy, like “reject your own fabulous book, then lose your marriage.” These folks are profoundly illogical.

  • Friend

    You are doing the right thing. Keep protecting yourself.

  • AFo

    Divorce is hard enough, but in this culture, knowing that the second you announce it you will be judged and shamed, makes it 10 times harder on the couple. As for Lori seeming to endorse the blaming/shaming of the wife, it’s just further proof of her heartlessness. Once she allowed white supremacists to start commenting, she was a lost cause.

  • Raging Bee

    And once again Lori writes her 69childish opinion in a child’s script on lined paper in a child’s school notebook; once again driving home how 69infantile her entire religion and 69mindset really are. Doesn’t she even WANT to pretend to be a grownup? Or is she too sick and immature to even know how to pretend to be a grownup?

  • Trellia

    (Jedi hugs or cups of tea or whatever support you prefer.)

  • Jennifer

    Pathetic behavior from horrible people. I loved how sweet the Harris couple seemed in the documentary, with Shannon supporting Josh’s journey, so this made me even sadder. Both of them were raised with bad ideas (I ASSUME she was from the same circle?) and Josh has a toxic dad. But of course if Josh realizes 20 years later his views were wrong, it MUST be bc he’s a horrible person who wants to kiss off his marriage; should I be surprised the pitiful trolls still pushing the slop are trying to write off his convictions that way? Pretend the old views he’s rejecting are healthy AND slander the man who’s stepping away from the flock, big surprise. But WHAT in Hades is with the accusation that Shannon’s a whore?? Did they hold hands before the wedding or something?

  • GeckoShamelessRaceMixer

    I wish them and their children all the best. Divorce is really hard, and despite what some of these purists think, isn’t something people do lightly, unless they are fantastically rich narcissists (looking at you, Hollywood.)

    Besides, even working within her own rather twisted worldview, Lori is assuming they are both still Christians at all, or “the right kind” of Christians, and scripture actually seems to give an out if a couple no longer shares the faith.

    I’m so glad purity culture is being challenged. I grew up adjacent to this stuff and while I came away with a deep seated view that being faithful to one person, or just two or three people over a lifetime (stuff happens) is rather romantic, I’ve never liked the harsh end of this carrot-stick arrangement. Your inherent worth as a person is not based on your sexual market value (what terrible resonances that trope they use has.) It’s also not based on your wealth or what side of a border you were born on or what religion you were born into or later chose (if any.) And I can defend that from a Christian perspective from these jokers all day. But it would be a waste of air. They won’t hear it.

  • Friend

    You mean you don’t like getting a lil peek into her secret diary?

    /s

  • GeckoShamelessRaceMixer

    Good for you. And I wish you strength in this.

  • B.A.

    (((Holly))) Cyber hugs.

  • Saraquill

    I’m curious if any of the enforcers are secretly jealous of Harris. More than a few seem to be in toxic marriages, but don’t leave for one reason or another.

  • Mel

    *Ding, ding, ding!*

    Shannon had the audacity to have dated other men before she dated Josh. I didn’t read the book Josh wrote about their courtship, but there’s a section where Shannon tearfully apologizes for giving pieces of her heart away after she’s been converted to Josh’s weird views on heart chunk trading.

    I don’t think she had even gone far enough with any other guys physically to pretend she was anything other than a Good Christian Virgin (TM) – but she’s fallen in love so she and Josh would never share the experience of being the first person they ever picked at spaghetti with awkwardly at an Applebee’s while trying to make small talk.

    Sarah Mally’s book “Before You Meet Prince Charming” had a whole list of daft “firsts” that you should save for your future spouse like “first candlelight dinner” or….I can’t even remember them they were so trite.

    What neither Mally nor Harris could know as a single 23 and 21 year old respectively is that marriage is not a never-ending series of magical ‘firsts’. It’s filled with the tedious, nitty-gritty and repetitive tasks of supporting your spouse as you build careers, families and communities. (I know I make marriage sound as attractive as watching paint dry – but running a household is filled with fascinating moments like discussing financial priorities or scheduling around work, child care, and other obligations, or making grocery lists.)

  • Friend

    Glad to see your comment has been freed! 😉

  • Friend

    A list of daft firsts to save for marriage turns into a weird-@ss list of unspoken expectations for the young man. He’s wondering why she’s quietly upset, and she’s agonizing and fuming about why he hasn’t provided the candlelight dinner.

  • Kathi

    I feel for the Josh and Shannon. They were products of their environment and deconstructing through that has to be difficult. They didn’t have to share their separation with the whole world because the public is owed squat information if they are parting on healthy and friendly terms.

    Lori would be wise to not comment on the subject because if she were ever in this situation I’m sure she would not welcome a public rebuke. I’m sure that Josh and Shannon don’t even know or care about what she’s said, but that doesn’t make it any less impactful. Lori’s fueling her following down a judgmental path.

  • Astreja

    One step in front of another, Holly, and you’ll get through this. Be sure to give yourself lots of self-care along the way, especially sleep and a healthy diet.

  • Nea

    What gets me is that she didn’t even make a token stop at “Satan” or sin nature, she was in such a rush to claim the authority to kick —I mean “rebuke”— a former authority as soon as he fell.

  • Nightshade

    And Lori is claiming the authority to rebuke a couple, including a man. A MAN! By her own rules she should be leaving that to the menfolk.

  • Aloha 2

    “A hardened heart” sounds like the sort of person who stays in a loveless marriage. That’s when you have a hardened heart, to not even consider other options, and to refuse to set someone free to find love elsewhere.

    Josh and Shannon seem to be the opposite of hardened hearts.

  • Saraquill

    My marriage firsts include litterbox scooping, snore management and buying a fridge.

  • Aloha 2
  • EbbyBee

    Not totally related but why does Lori feel the need to handwrite her missives and then post the photo? Is it something to do with the Facebook algorithm?

  • Rational Human

    “It’s interesting to note that all of the courtship/marriage couples in Harris’s various books are all divorced now. “

    Where is this referenced?

  • Nea

    Suzanne – here’s a challenge. Has Lori ever said anything nice or encouraging? Ever?

    Because if not, she’s just a dime-a-dozen bully, and an ignorable one without the power or influence (outside of a small, insular circle) to really be an authority anywhere. It’s not like her books are particularly selling or she’s going on speaking tours. And is her heroine Debi even giving her the time of day? I’m not seeing a lot of Lori-boosting coming out of No Greater Child Abu$e.

  • Raging Bee

    Actually, that IS totally related to the OP: see my comment below.

  • Nea

    I don’t think she does. If Lori felt up to adulthood, she wouldn’t be spending 100% of her time 1) at home, refusing to work even though the kids are all grown and she’s not helping to raise grandchildren, 2) repeatedly insisting that women are not very intelligent and 3) loud about letting her husband make all the decisions.

    These are not the acts of someone comfortable holding the status of a mature adult.

  • Mimc

    Actually in “Boy Meets Girl” he shared their story (along with a bunch of other cringe worthy stories). She did not come from a Christian home and had dated other guys before. IIRC She tearfully apologized for not being a virgin. I no longer have these books so I can’t double check.

  • Nea

    What I find interesting is that all of the “play games instead of openly communicate” famous books about marriage have all ended in divorce. Before the Harris marriage ended, an author of The Rules also got divorced.

    You’d think that if following certain rules instead of honestly talking worked, the people who came up with those rules would never, ever be divorced.

    And what’s sad is I’m sure people will still be willing to claim the Harris purity69 books are perfectly valid, just as people still cling to The Rules that didn’t even work for their creator.

  • SAO

    This! Marriages that have rules to replace communication and negotiation fail.

  • SAO

    I’d argue marriage is about the deepening love, trust, and support that comes from truly knowing and being known by a spouse who loves the wonderful person you are, with all your flaws, and quirks and annoying habits (we all have them).

    I didn’t decide to marry my husband when he made a candlelight dinner, but when I’d been sick and a planned romantic weekend became not at all romantic.

  • Holly Baby Catkiss

    I’ll take both.

  • Holly Baby Catkiss

    Yep. I do. I have a friend who’s a very big guy (6 feet 5 300 lbs.)

  • Holly Baby Catkiss

    Thank you

  • Holly Baby Catkiss

    I do. After I take care of what I got to do pertaining to the divorce I go eat at McDonald’s (yes, I know not healthy, but I love McDonald’s) afterwards, I go the the Museum of Natural Science and have fun there.

  • Holly Baby Catkiss

    *cyber hugs back*

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    I haven’t seen anything I can think of encouraging or nice out of her. I do see her try to sometimes sugar coat her judgmental ism but screaming ‘Bible!’ but that is it.

  • Astreja

    Natural science museums are awesome places! There’s something very grounding about them. (I’ve been to three in recent years — the Field in Chicago, Royal Tyrrell in Drumheller, Alberta, and Perlan in Reykjavik.)

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    I have seen it posted a number of places now.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    She puts enormous energy into going viral on other social media platforms, so I think that’s what is behind her cutesy writing.

  • Holly Baby Catkiss

    Yes, they are. I’ve been going Everytime I go to downtown Houston. I’ve already went a few times. I have a bunch of pictures on my iPad.

  • Delta

    Interesting how they refuse to say words like humanity, etc., instead opting for archaic phrasing like “the sin of man” — but when it comes down to it, the only “sins” or faults they acknowledge are a woman’s.

  • lady_black

    Dear Lori;
    Sometimes, it just doesn’t work out.

  • lady_black

    Marriage is a human relationship, and as such, doesn’t lend itself to “rules.” This is something every parent knows. What worked with one child may not work with another, and we must deal with other humans as the individuals they are.
    None of that is to say that certain conduct is ever acceptable or should be tolerated. Just that there is more than one way to skin the metaphorical cat, and you may have to try more than one to find the way that works best.

  • lady_black

    That makes me wonder why she would choose a man with a stick up his behind like Joshua.

  • lady_black

    I don’t see it that way. Far from being “a series of magical firsts” you actually want someone who is happy to be there doing the most mundane and un-magical stuff that most of life is made up of.
    I’m reminded of an old episode of All In The Family where a cousin is asking Edith what makes her marriage work, and implying that she must be “doing something right in the bedroom.” She asks her if her sex life is like the Fourth of July. Edith replies “With Archie and me, it’s more like Thanksgiving.”

  • I never dated anyone besides my husband and I regret it so much. It would have been nice if my first bad relationship fight had been with someone else. My first time realizing I had a right to ask for things and didn’t need to be accommodating at all times. My first time negotiating over chores. My first time deciding if a relationship should last.

    I would have liked a chance to get good at these things before doing them for life.

  • …lots of eating?

  • lady_black

    Lots of cooking, too.

  • Mimc

    She was volunteering at his church when they met so I guess she’s the rare Fundy adult convert.

  • Mimc

    It’s unsurprising. Most of the stories in “Boy Meets Girl” were of couples getting married young to someone they weren’t allowed to spend much alone time with.

  • Jennifer

    “I didn’t read the book Josh wrote about their courtship, but there’s a section where Shannon tearfully apologizes for giving pieces of her heart away after she’s been converted to Josh’s weird views on heart chunk trading.”

    Ohh my Lord. SO glad she’s leaving this junk. And that’s why someone called that sweet woman a whore? I hope he spends most of his life alone.

  • Jennifer

    Thank ya!

  • Quinsha

    Snore management. Why Mr Q and I have separate rooms. Before his heart surgery he was loud enough to wake the neighbors.

  • persephone

    I’m very sure that Lori gets her own way whenever she wants. She has no conscience or moral center.

  • persephone

    I think Lori is looking to replace Debi, now that Mikey is losing brain function.

  • Jennifer

    So she said she wasn’t a virgin? I thought it was only dating and emotional “heart pieces” she lost.

  • Jennifer

    Like who??

  • Jennifer

    “What I find interesting is that all of the “play games instead of openly communicate” famous books about marriage have all ended in divorce. Before the Harris marriage ended, an author of The Rules also got divorced.”

    Hah, like those idiot books about guy “game” and hookup culture? There was even a guy in new Zealand who seemed mostly nice, but gave some pretty toxic advice about relationship specific “steps” to take to get what you want from your spouse.

  • Nea

    I’m sure she wants to, but Debi and that ministry have been irrelevant since the turn of the century. The very rise of the social media Lori seeks to exploit lets people instantly counter her nonsense.

  • keepitreal

    Lori is just embittered and jealous because she ‘transformed’ herself into a doormat. Shannon Harris is growing into a healthier version of herself and has the bravery to be honest and model a strong, happy and growing woman instead of a fuming insufferable meddlesome martyr. Divorce is not a tragedy. A miserable marriage with fake smiles is.

  • AFo

    I forget exact names, but on several of her posts commenters have blatantly talked about needing to outbreed Jews and brown people or the US will be destroyed, and Lori never deleted or reprimanded them.

  • Rann

    Viral??? Anyone come up with antibiotics for it yet? BLEEEECCCCCHHHHHH!

  • 24CaratHooligan

    If the current Mr Badger was romantic I’d assume he’d been taken over by a shape shifter. Or cloned.

  • Mimc

    I think so but unfortunately I no longer have the book so I cannot confirm that. Maybe someone who hasn’t purged their Fundy books can check.

  • Mimc

    It would explain that one guys insult of her though. It wouldn’t really make sense to call a v1rg1n a wh0r3 but these guys aren’t bound by logic either.

  • Jennifer

    My original comment was removed, so I’m putting most of it back up. That Mik person is a friend of a friend, TD, on Facebook; I just recently saw him comment on one of TD’s posts, a myopic silly piece from someone else. Can’t recall if I saw him elsewhere, but I PM’d him, calmly, on the subject of the Harris divorce and asked if he had a reason for calling Shannon a whore.

    He answered and said Josh married a “red flag” and no one should be surprised the marriage didn’t work out, and I asked if she gave testimony she was a whore. He asked what else I would call someone who’s promiscuous, so I asked if that’s what she called herself. He said, “Very”, and that Josh details it so I’m trying to find the book to search inside. Y’all please pray for me.

  • Jennifer

    Badger?

  • Jennifer

    Apparently she did have past relationships and told Josh she wasn’t a virgin. So that guy on Lori’s blog, Mik, answered the PM I sent him and said she was “very promiscuous”, and what else would you call that but being a whore? A whore is a prostitute, someone who constantly has to have sex with other people, so no, I would never call someone that so loosely. Plus, this guy seems to think that if we have sex with the wrong people or outside of Biblical guidelines, we’re marked by that forever; what happened to grace?? Jesus doesn’t treat us like we’re car wrecks doomed to damage every attempt at a relationship. I replied, “All I see in the book section I’m reading online is that he knew she wasn’t a virgin and she told him of past relationships. If she slept with a few boyfriends and repented of it, she was not a whore. That’s what God’s grace is for.”

  • Mimc

    There is no Grace in Lori’s corner of Jesusland. That’s for the pansy progressives I guess.

  • Maggie Thurston

    I watched this play out multiple times in my church days: frantic, horny69 teenagers marrying as fast as possible so they can have sex without sinning. It never turns out well.

  • keepitreal

    Lori Alexander is a frigid insufferable b!tch. With a halo. Hiding horns.

  • HailieJade

    Actually, his recent recanting of his views on “emotional purity” etc. does make a lot more sense now, although not for the reasons Lori thinks. He and his wife did everything “right”, and it still didn’t prevent their marriage from failing. He’s finally learned the hard way that there is no magic formula and that “kissing dating goodbye” is no guarantee of a successful marriage. I actually feel very sad for him. He’s getting ripped to shreds by his nasty Purity Crowd former fans, and no doubt a whole lot of “I told you so’s” from the other side who have been warning people about the toxic ideas in his book since it was published (even if not stated outright, he would know that’s what many people are thinking) It must be a very humbling, isolating experience for him. I hope he and his wife and children are getting the help and support they will need from family/friends/therapists etc.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    I feel sorry for him because I feel that it’s likely that entire book and theology came about because his father, Gregg Harris, is prominent in the Evangelical movement. He was a kid that didn’t know any better being used by a rapacious father to further an agenda. Gregg is a piece of work. He was involved in the whole mess when “Gentle Spirt” magazine went under, along with Mary Pride and others.

  • Jasper38

    Joshua Harris Marriage Ending So Suzanne Titkemeyer Blames Purity Culture.

    “Now Harris and his wife have announced they are separating and planning on divorcing. I feel horribly sad for them, but not surprised. Toxic purity culture takes two more victims.”

    Wait, you think their marriage failed because of a “toxic purity culture”? I don’t think so. That may have played a role in their premarital days or maybe even in their choice of spouse, but this is years later. This is about how they did their marriage, and the people they are today, not about their past. Marriage is hard, no matter what. A good marriage takes sacrifice and self-denial, and that doesn’t come natural.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    Everyone in second book Harris wrong, where he explained how ‘perfect’ and divorce proof their relationships are now divorced. Coincidence? I think not. Those are some suspiciously high rates of divorce. Marriage is hard but it’s a whole lot harder when you start with a false premise and toxic beliefs.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    Not to mention the demonstrably higher divorce rates among former purity culture adherents according to be Barna and the Gospel Coalition. Rates of divorce in the Evangelical world are the highest in the nation.

  • Jasper38

    I can’t speak to that, as I haven’t read any of his books, but thinking you are immune to having tough times in your marriage is definitely setting yourself up for failure as you won’t be prepared for the hard work or think you need to make that effort. But that would seem to be more a problem of naivete (believing marriage requires less of you than you think) or self-righteousness (I’m too good to have this happen to me), than beliefs about purity. I would assume that all these marriages failed for the same reasons that marriages for other people fail (pride, selfishness, …).

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    Sorry, this is clearly a culture you know nothing about. Many of us here lived it for many years. Purity culture has had a devastating effect on so many. Please read some of the 2nd generation blogs by people like Libby Anne and Heather Doney among others, like Homeschoolers Anonymous and then tell me that the purity culture had no affect in the lives of the kids.

  • Jasper38

    You may be right, but I find it dubious at best to say this is what led to their divorce.

  • Jasper38

    That last sentence is not true, and the reality is more complex. https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/factchecker-divorce-rate-among-christians/. Summary: “Nominally attending conservative Protestants are 20 percent more likely to divorce, compared to secular Americans.”, but, “‘active conservative Protestants’ who regularly attend church are 35 percent less likely to divorce compared to those who have no affiliation.”

  • Robert Baden

    I had a lover apologize in tears for that. I told her it didn’t matter. Had nothing to do with my attitude, she got it elsewhere.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    Not the statistics that regularly crossed my desk at work.

  • Robert Baden

    If she slept with a few boyfriends she is not a whore to anyone who is not a Xtian nutjob.

  • lady_black

    Wat???

  • 24CaratHooligan

    My other nom de plume (see avatar)