blog news, family, social media, stupid people, technology

I’ve got new DNA results!

I believe the featured photo is of my mom’s father’s family tartan…

Bless Ancestry. com and 23andMe. I was having some trouble coming up with a topic to write about today, mainly because I don’t feel like complaining about Trump, and he’s making up a lot of the news lately. But since both Ancestry and 23andMe just updated their DNA results, and my results changed a bit, I can now write about that! And it will be soooo interesting, too. To me, anyway.

According to Ancestry.com, I’m now even more Scottish than I thought. The updated results now have me at 58 percent Scot. That would probably make Ex green with envy, since she fancies herself a Scot. The rest of the results were also interesting, as according to Ancestry, now I’m only 28 percent English and otherwise northwestern European. They also report that I have 3 percent Welsh ancestry, which I can certainly believe, given how many of my ancestors were from the British isles and Ireland. Ancestry.com also reports that I still have Scandinavian ancestry– Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian. Again, that’s totally believable. I am as white as they come.

Interesting… and probably pretty accurate.

Now, my 23andMe results are a bit more surprising. I did the 23andMe test before I did Ancestry’s, so it’s changed a few times since I first got results in 2017. Overall, 23andMe agrees with Ancestry that I’m mostly from the British Isles and Ireland. But they added some spice to my heritage, which is also believable. Behold…

23andMe classify their results somewhat differently, grouping Scotland, England, and Ireland together. They used to report Norwegian DNA, but replaced it with Finnish. And Ancestry doesn’t report Finnish DNA, but does report Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian.

Some might be surprised to see the Spanish and Portuguese results, but to me, they make perfect sense. I probably picked up that DNA thanks to the Spanish Armada. Some people from that dramatic event in the 1500s inevitably got together with Irish and Scottish people, forever changing their DNA. I was glad to see French and German again, since I know for a fact that I have some German heritage, and likely have French, too, somewhere deep in my genes. I also know that there were a few Native Americans from Virginia who got with my family, since they appear in my family tree. I was surprised to see the Levantine result, which has origins in Jordan, Israel, Syria, and Lebanon. But, I guess if we go back far enough, that makes some sense, too. Most people probably have some genes from the Middle East. I got a kick out of the photo 23andMe uses for the French and German section. It’s actually a photo of Hallstatt, Austria.

This is a screenshot from 23andMe’s Web site. I’ve been to this town and have my own photo of this view. It’s unmistakable as a famous Austrian town, where many Chinese tourists visit and wear dirndls and lederhosen.

What’s funny is, I just talked to my mom about our ancestry. She really doesn’t know much about her family of origin– especially on her mother’s side. I’ve told her a lot that she didn’t know, mainly because of these DNA tests and interacting with distant relatives. She never knew her maternal grandparents, since they died within three months of each other, before her second birthday. She was surprised when I told her I went on FindAGrave.com and found photos of her grandparents’ graves, as well as an entry for my dad, which was not put up by a family member. My Uncle Ed, who died just over a month ago, has an entry already, although no one but family is allowed to develop it until a year has passed. I think FindAGrave is kind of freaky, but it does provide interesting information about my long lost relatives.

Like my mom, I never got to know my maternal grandparents. My grandmother died when I was five, and we were living in England at the time. My grandfather died when I was six, and he was extremely senile and didn’t know who any of us were. I do remember living in his house briefly, back in the summer of 1978, because we had just come back from England, and my parents were purchasing a home in Northern Virginia, where we lived for just two years. He died months later, after having been court ordered to move into a facility, because he could no longer take care of himself.

The only grandparent I really knew was my father’s mother, who was affectionately known as “Granny” to just about everyone, even those who weren’t in the family. She lived to be almost 101 years old. My father died only seven years after she died. He was 81 years old, and had only lived without a parent for seven years. That is astonishing to me. Granny was mostly a wonderful lady, although she wasn’t as perfect as some people made her out to be. She had a mean streak. But mostly, she was full of stories, and made wonderful bread. I am glad Bill got to meet her and knew her for five years before she finally passed.

I find genealogy fascinating, especially since I grew up not really knowing my mom’s family too well. I knew my Uncle Glenn, who died in 2015, and I knew his daughter, although I haven’t seen her since my wedding day in 2002. She and I have the same blue eyes, inherited from our grandmother. Well… she got hers from Glenn, too. He had beautiful blue eyes. My eyes are probably my best feature.

Anyway… I’m glad to see the update from both DNA registries, even if Bill’s results are more interesting than mine are. He has African heritage.

Moving on…

A couple of days ago, I wrote about an irate private message I got from someone who was angry about an eight year old blog entry I reposted regarding an extremely violent murder in their family. This person was threatening, and complained that I had mentioned the name of one of the victim’s children, who is still a minor. They acted as if I had invaded their privacy to find out the child’s name, and threatened legal action against me. It was not a nice thing to wake up to on a Saturday morning. In my post, I was pretty sure I had only included information that was already openly reported in the news, circa 2014.

I did some sleuthing yesterday, mainly because I wanted to block this person from ever contacting me again on Facebook (or anywhere else). I managed to find the person’s profile(s) and block them. However, in the course of doing so, I found out some new things.

I discovered that my memory was correct. The child’s name was included in several newspaper articles, most of which are online today. Furthermore, I found a wide open Web site, where what looked like some of the child’s schoolwork was openly posted for all to see. There was an essay there, revealing the names of the child’s parents, birth date, birth place, and the names of many family members, to include other minors. I even learned what kinds of food the child likes to eat, what the child’s career goals were at the time the essay was written, and where the child lives. So much for maintaining the online privacy of a minor.

I would suggest, to the person who contacted me, that before they issue legal threats regarding privacy of a minor, they might want to do some more Googling of the child’s unusual name. I learned a lot more about this child than I ever wanted or needed to know, simply by typing the name into a basic search engine. I suspect that their claims that I invaded their privacy would go nowhere, mostly due to this fact, but also because of the First Amendment, and the right to freedom of expression, which all Americans still enjoy, at least for now. If you want to come at me because I posted your minor relative’s name, you might also want to have a go at the reporters who originally covered the case. Because that is where the child’s name was originally shared, and that content is still freely available eight years later. And I had nothing to do with that.

In spite of being quite pissed off about that hostile PM, to the point at which I am deleting the blog’s Facebook page, I have removed the offending content as a courtesy to the person who contacted me. I did so because, frankly, no one else was reading that post anyway. Also, I removed it because, in spite of their false accusations toward me, I’m not a terrible person who is just out to make money by blogging. Likewise, I don’t want to cause people unnecessary distress. But even if I were just trying to make a buck, what would be wrong with that? There’s no crime against earning a living, right? Writing is a perfectly respectable career choice, even if some people don’t like the things that get written.

This blog isn’t a source of significant income for me. It’s more something I do because I enjoy writing. Moreover, I didn’t do anything wrong, and the claims that I violated anyone’s privacy are baseless and false. There is no law against writing or opining about things that are in the mainstream news. I do understand that people get upset when people talk or write about true crimes that affect them personally, but I don’t think that threatening to trying to censor people is the answer.

Finally… something a little ridiculous…

This graphic of stereotypes was posted in the Duggar Family News group…

Apparently, the above photo is circulating in certain parts of social media. It’s pretty disgusting. I would also say that it’s not very accurate. I’m not sure fundie women keep their figures when they’re eating things like tater tot casserole and barbecued tuna fish. I’ve also seen quite a few fundie women sporting heavy makeup, colored hair, and ridiculous perms. Moreover, I don’t think Jesus Christ would approve of the judgmental and negative attitude displayed regarding “The Godly Tradwife”. Jesus supposedly loved everyone, and helped those in need. It makes me sick that genuine Christian values have been co-opted and bastardized by hypocritical Republicans, who just want to quash anyone who isn’t like them, and doesn’t want to keep white, conservative men in power.

I might write more about this later… or maybe not. Hope y’all have a good Wednesday. Time to pick up my guitar.

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disasters, Duggars, modern problems, politics, YouTube

Careful, guy… your “Q” is showing.

It’s quite understandable that a lot of people are still expressing outrage and grief over the most recent school shootings in Uvalde, Texas. I have a lot of friends who are teachers, and every day, they face the reality of school shootings in the United States. I also come from Gloucester, Virginia, a rural, southern, down home kind of town, which means that I’m affiliated with a lot of southern, conservative, White people. Some of them are still my friends, even though I departed the Republican mindset a long time ago. Some are my relatives. And some are friends of friends.

A couple of years ago, a woman with whom I went to high school died. Her death was during the thick of the pandemic, although she did not die because of COVID. The way I understand it, a few years ago, she had been in a car accident that caused significant injuries. Infection somehow set in as she was healing, and it never completely went away. The infection eventually got out of control, and she went septic, which caused her death.

I remember this woman in high school, as we ran in peripheral circles. The last thing I remember of her when I knew her, was when she sang a song called “Love Will Be Our Home” at a talent show. At the time, I wasn’t a singer myself. I remember her telling everyone that she was nervous, just before she sang her song in what I thought was a pretty soprano voice. Years later, I was surprised when I heard of her death. Then I noticed where she was living. Her husband, who also went to our high school, evidently was originally from Lexington, Virginia, which is about ten miles from where my parents grew up. It’s also the town where Bill and I got married in 2002.

My high school classmate and her husband, also apparently a classmate, though I don’t remember him, were making their home in tiny Natural Bridge, Virginia, which was where my dad grew up, and where I still have lots of relatives. I never knew we had this connection. I remember that when my classmate died, there wasn’t enough money for her funeral. I donated a couple hundred bucks to her family’s GoFundMe to help bury her, even though we weren’t really friends. No one ever said “Thanks” or anything, which is no big deal, I guess. I’m sure they were overwhelmed by the sudden and tragic loss, and the fact that they weren’t able to be with her when she died, thanks to COVID precautions.

And what has this got to do with my opening paragraph? Bear with me.

One of my friends from my hometown, now a schoolteacher in North Carolina, is absolutely devastated by the school shootings in Uvalde. Even as someone who isn’t a teacher, and doesn’t have children, I am sickened and horrified by the details coming out about this terrifying event. What makes an 18 year old teenager so consumed with rage, hatred, and contempt for others that he storms into a school and kills innocent children and teachers? The colossal mistakes, made by law enforcement who failed to act decisively, are especially egregious. The more I hear about what went wrong, the angrier I feel for the victims, and the sadder I feel for the people who were left behind. This shit has been going on for over 20 years! When is it going to stop? When are we going to learn from these dreadful events and do something that STOPS angry boys from getting access to weapons and killing innocent people?

My friend, the teacher, posted the photo below.

No kidding!

A couple of her like minded friends added their agreement to the above sentiment. I’ve been saying this myself. How can our government presume to force people to have babies when they don’t want to be pregnant? But then, we do NOTHING to make sure those babies grow up into functioning adults? It makes no sense. And then I saw this beaut of a comment, made by the husband of our classmate, who died a couple of years ago… this guy, living in my father’s hometown, who needed GoFundMe to pay for his wife’s burial. This is the exchange they had:

Careful, guy… your Q is showing.

Wow… First off, what he wrote is kind of hard to decipher. I think what he’s saying is that he thinks having access to weapons keeps people “free”. But how free are you, if you constantly have to worry about your child being blown up by a crazed, angry, 18 year old kid with a semiautomatic rifle? How free are you, if you only feel safe when you’re packing heat, even if you’re at church or shopping for groceries?

He also seems to think that we should just accept that people are going to be violently killed, because “people have been killing people forever”. So, he thinks that we should all be able to arm ourselves, so that when some nut with a gun comes at us, which is, according to him, “the way of the world”, we might have a prayer of killing them before they kill us. Next, he seems to think that the fact that more people are realizing that violent discipline methods, such as “whopping ass” (as he puts it), aren’t very effective and cause children to suffer psychological damage, is actually making people more violent. Because what we really need, when we’re much younger and smaller than the adults in our lives, is someone to knock the hell out of us. That, according to this mental giant, is the way to “instill respect”. Jesus Christ.

I really felt like responding to him. I wanted to say, “Careful, guy… your ‘Q’ is showing…” But I didn’t want to get into an argument on my friend’s page. I also didn’t think it would accomplish anything, other than make a few people laugh. As we have all found out with heartbreaking clarity this week, life is SHORT. It’s a lot shorter for some people, than it is for others of us. And I don’t have time to argue with idiots who can’t or won’t be convinced that their logic is seriously flawed.

I already annoy enough people on Facebook, particularly when I disagree with them or point out logic failures. One lady named Miriam got annoyed with me last night, because I disagreed with her comparison of ultra pious people, like the Duggars, to kids in high school who take harder classes. She wrote that she gets a kick out of seeing religious people get knocked off their high horses. I can see that. It is kind of satisfying when people like Josh Duggar, who presume to try to tell other people how to live, and preach to them about family values and so-called “high Christian lifestyle standards”, turn out to be lying hypocrites.

But I disagreed with the analogy she made– and she specifically stated that this was her analogy. She likened upstanding Christian types, like Josh Duggar, holding themselves out to be above reproach as needing to adhere to higher standards. Like high school students taking AP courses. The work is harder, so smarmy religious people who think their shit doesn’t stink need to “step up”. When they fail, it’s kind of satisfying to see. But do we like to see brave high school students fail when they try something harder? I hope not.

That comparison struck me as nonsensical. Hardworking high school students should be encouraged to take harder classes. They should be commended for challenging themselves, and trying to get a better education, especially if they are blessed with a fine intellect. Yes, the work is more difficult, and the expectations are higher, but there are rewards for that kind of hard work.

Besides, most people I know with keen intellects are not ultra religious or pious; that is the opposite of being logical, right? On the other hand, it doesn’t take a great brain to accept some of the batshit religious dogma peddled by fundie Christians and their ilk. A lot of weak people, looking for a blueprint to Heaven, will swallow all kinds of ridiculous bullshit to achieve what they think will be that end. So to me, comparing ultra pious people to high school students taking harder classes is a poor analogy, and I dared to say so.

Her snippy reply to me was, “It was an analogy, Jenny.”

To which I responded, “Okay, Miriam.” Because I didn’t feel the need to argue with her. I thought her analogy made little sense. Maybe I could have couched my comment in some nice, flabby language to comfort her ego more, but as I just wrote a few paragraphs ago, LIFE IS SHORT. It’s much too short for that mess.

In light of that exchange with Miriam, and knowing how I tend to get carried away with overthinking when I engage in those kinds of discussions, I decided to exercise some self-discipline. I didn’t engage the Q guy from my hometown, who now lives in my dad’s hometown, and is pretty much EXACTLY like the people I know from both places… including people in my own family. I know, by this point, that trying to discuss these things with them is pointless, and will only lead to pain and frustration.

I can understand why a lot of conservative people don’t like liberals. Liberals can be condescending and rude, and some of them lack any understanding for what the “salt of the earth” types live with on a daily basis. Unfortunately, a lot of conservative people, who are also sometimes lacking tact, have poor or absent critical thinking skills. They mostly just think about what affects them. They don’t often consider how thinking about all people can make things better, and safer, for everyone.

Like, for instance, the “Q” guy quoted above, who needed a GoFundMe campaign to pay for his wife’s burial, and didn’t even think to say “Thank you” to those who donated. That guy is probably against welfare. He probably doesn’t like the idea of universal healthcare. He’s probably pro-life, and he’s definitely pro-gun. He sees these ideas as just and moral… we should all be responsible for ourselves. The government needs to stay out of it. Except public safety is certainly within the domain of the government. Especially if the government expects to force women to stay pregnant and birth babies. I wonder if the government is going to force women to take care of themselves while they’re pregnant… or even capable of being pregnant. It makes little sense to me that some people will do ANYTHING to stop women from accessing abortion services, but once that baby is born, they don’t want to do ANYTHING to make sure the baby turns into a beloved child, a happy teenager, and a healthy adult, who is ready to have a career and a family.

Nope… I think a lot of these Q types are interested mostly in controlling women, and making more babies for fundies to indoctrinate into religion and conservatism. It’s disgusting, and it’s quite frankly, deadly. I will end today’s post by encouraging everybody to have a look at the video below, posted by Fundie Fridays.

She pretty much says what I think… and also offers some interesting backstory on Roe v. Wade.

I wanted to also include an excellent video made by Dr. Les Carter of Surviving Narcissism. I watched it yesterday, and I thought it was very insightful. He talked about his frustration as a mental health professional, watching how our system emboldens people like Salvador Ramos. Unfortunately, Dr. Carter made the video private. I guess he got some heated comments, or maybe YouTube flagged it. It’s a shame. I really appreciated his thoughts on this crisis we’re all experiencing. Maybe he’ll repost it at some point. Or maybe not. I’m glad I watched it, though. Since that video isn’t available anymore, here’s one Mr. Atheist did. I think he did a good job with his video about the school shootings.

I wish I knew.

Other than that, I wish you a pleasant and safe Saturday… may God protect you and yours from the likes of gun toting whack jobs and perverts.

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book reviews, religion

Repost: What Would Jesus Do In Jesus Land? 

I originally wrote this book review for Epinions.com on October 27, 2005. I am reposting it here, as/is.

For the first part of this week, I accompanied my husband, Bill, on one of his many TDY trips. For those of you who have no military or civil service background, TDY stands for Temporary Duty Yonder; it basically means that Bill had to go to a conference out of town. We went to Hampton, Virginia, which is my birthplace. Because I went on this trip with Bill, I got to stay in a lovely, brand new Embassy Suites Hotel, and I was left with a great deal of time on my hands. Luckily, I’m an avid reader and there was a Barnes & Noble located just down the street. I ended up buying four books, and Julia Scheeres’ 2005 memoir Jesus Land was among my purchases.

I have a professional background in social work and public health, and a special interest in so-called “teen help” programs, especially those that are affiliated with churches. I also love to read biographies, and it was in this section of Barnes & Noble where I found Jesus Land. I was drawn by the title, especially given the fact that Jesus Land was in the biography section. I was also drawn to the picture on the book jacket, which showed two cute little kids, a little blonde, white girl and a a little black boy, standing by a trailer. Then I read the book jacket, which explains Jesus Land’s premise. Back in the early 1980s, Julia Scheeres, who is white, and her adopted brother David, who is black, were sent to Escuela Caribe, a brutal Christian boot camp for teens in the Dominican Republic. I had never heard of Escuela Caribe or its parent program, New Horizons Youth Ministries, despite the fact that I’ve done a lot of research regarding so-called “reform schools”. I’m also a sucker for books about dysfunctional families and believe me, Scheeres’ family really fits the bill in that regard!

Jesus Land is divided into two parts. Throughout the first half of Jesus Land, Scheeres describes the sights and smells of life in the rural Midwest, including the ubiquitous homemade signs written in less than perfect English reminding travelers that they needed to get right with God before Judgment Day. Jesus Land gets its title from one of those homemade signs. In the second half of Jesus Land, Julia Scheeres writes about the harrowing experiences she and her brother, David, had at Escuela Caribe.

In the first half of Jesus Land, Julia Scheeres gives readers the backstory of how she and her brother, David, wound up at Escuela Caribe and more importantly, how she and David came to be brother and sister. Julia Scheeres is the youngest biological daughter of very strict, fundamentalist Christian parents. Her father, who drove an expensive sports car, worked as a surgeon in Lafayette, Indiana. Her mother was a nurse, although I didn’t get the feeling that she practiced her profession when Julia and her siblings were growing up. Scheeres’ mother is depicted as quite idiosyncratic, forcing her family to be extremely frugal even though her husband made a very comfortable living. For example, Julia Scheeres’ mother made a concoction that she called “Garbage Soup”, which basically consisted of all of the old leftover food in the house thrown into a pot and simmered into a soup. Scheeres describes this brew in a very unappetizing way and she makes it clear that the family could certainly afford better. Julia Scheeres and her siblings were also forced to wear clothes from K-mart, which set them up for ridicule from their peers. However, even if Julia Scheeres and her siblings had been allowed to wear the very best clothes, they still would have been set apart from their peers because two of the six siblings in the Scheeres family were black.

Julia Scheeres’ older sister, Laura, was born with spina bifida and had spent a lot of time in the hospital having and recuperating from corrective surgeries. While she was in the hospital, she befriended an orphan child who was white. The Scheeres decided that adopting Laura’s orphan friend would be a very Christian thing for them to do, so they put in an application. However, Laura’s friend ended up being adopted by another family. The adoption agency had plenty of other children who needed homes… black children. They pressured the Scheeres into adopting a black child even though they really would have preferred a child who was white. Ultimately, the Scheeres decided that God was testing them by presenting them with a black child and if they adopted three year old David, they would be proving to the world that they were not racists. They would look like the perfect Christians they strived to be. It was a nice idea for them, except for the fact that Scheeres’ parents clearly did not love David as they should have. Nevertheless, they felt David should have a sibling who was “like him”, so they also adopted seven year old Jerome, whom Julia Scheeres depicts as a “bad seed”. She also explains that David and Jerome didn’t even act like brothers until they were older and David began to understand the racial divide that separated him from the rest of his family. Scheeres makes it clear that she and David were close from the very beginning, even though Julia often caught a lot of hell from her peers for having two black brothers.

Scheeres describes what daily life was like for her and David. She was clearly given preferential treatment by their parents and she speculates why she was treated differently. For one thing, she was their biological child. For another thing, she was white. Scheeres describes in heartbreaking detail how David and Jerome were mistreated at the hands of their adoptive parents as well as their peers. Through it all, David remained good-hearted, while Jerome slipped further and further into the dark side. She also writes in an almost detached way about some of her own painful experiences growing up as their sister. The first half of Jesus Land could really be its own book. As jam packed with Scheeres’ painful stories as the first half of Jesus Land is, I got the feeling that there was more she could have added. She doesn’t tell readers much about her older siblings; they get just a passing mention or two. Instead, she focuses on her relationship with David and to a lesser extent, Jerome. I felt really sorry for all of the Scheeres children as I read about how they were treated by their parents. I didn’t get the feeling that Scheeres had any affection for her mother and father, whom she depicts as very weird people.

In the second half of the book, Scheeres describes how she and David ended up being shipped off to reform school in the Dominican Republic. Again, this part of the book really could have stood on its own, had Scheeres added more substance to it. I really felt like it was another story, even though it was very helpful to know what had transpired in David’s and Julia’s lives to lead them to such a place. They had gone from backwoods Indiana to an island in the Caribbean; suddenly there was a new cast of characters and a new setting with only passing references to the original setting and cast.

Despite her ordeal, Scheeres manages to keep the story from dipping into self-pity, although I did get the feeling that she felt somewhat sorry for David, much less so for Jerome, who was very abusive to Scheeres. Again, Scheeres writes Jesus Land with surprising detachment, even though she graphically relates several instances in which she was abused at the hands of other people. Her tone gets a bit more personal when she writes about David. Scheeres shares that when she and David were younger, the family had taken vacations to Florida. Their memories of those Florida vacations were among their best. Consequently, Julia and her brother dreamed of turning eighteen and one day moving to Florida together, where they could do whatever they wanted to do. When things got rough, one of them would say “Remember Florida” in order to get the other to focus on the idea that things would get better.

Jesus Land is written in the historical present tense, which gives this book a “real time” feel, even though the events occurred in the 1980s. Scheeres makes many references to popular music in the 1980s, a forbidden pleasure, since Scheeres’ mother apparently tried to shield her children from “worldly influences” by constantly playing “Rejoice Radio” over their home’s intercom system, using the intercom system to listen to their conversations, and forbidding them from watching anything but family oriented or religious television shows. It’s often been my experience that children who are raised in very restrictive homes often end up rebelling or prematurely having the experiences from which their parents most want to shield them. Scheeres is no exception to this rule. She writes of abusing alcohol as a teenager, losing her virginity to rape, using enough vulgar language to make a sailor blush, and witnessing as her brother, Jerome, threw an illegal party while Dr. and Mrs. Scheeres were on a trip.

Jesus Land was a fast read for me. I finished it in a matter of hours, but that was partly because I was killing time, waiting for my husband to get out of a marathon meeting. I enjoyed reading Jesus Land and thought it was well-written. I’m a bit torn, however, on how I feel about how this book was presented because it does seem like two books to me. It’s not until the end of the book that Scheeres really explains why she wrote Jesus Land and where she really got her basis for the book. It’s true that Jesus Land is based on her own experiences, but it was also very much based on her brother, David’s, experiences. It wasn’t until I read her explanation that I finally had some grasp of why she adopts a more sensitive, sympathetic tone toward her brother’s experiences than she does for her own– and ultimately it’s that revelation that makes the phrase “Remember Florida” very poignant. I think that had Scheeres not explained herself, I would have given Jesus Land four stars. Scheeres’ epilogue and the explanation that she includes within has prompted me to award Jesus Land five stars. Jesus Land is a worthwhile read, especially for those who are interested in books about family dynamics, racial issues, fundamentalist Christianity, or “teen help” facilities. Moreover, Julia Scheeres has had experiences of which the average reader will never have a first hand understanding, and she offers valuable insight for those of us who can’t relate personally to her situation. I think she’s done the public a great service by putting her story in print for the world to see.

Julia Scheeres on the Web…

As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon on sales made through my site.

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Duggars, narcissists, religion, YouTube

Jana Duggar… poster child for stay at home daughters and keeping sweet!

I’m getting a late start on my blog post today. It’s because I got sidetracked watching YouTube videos. One of the videos I saw was posted by none other than Katie Joy, of Without a Crystal Ball. I know a lot of people don’t like KJ for whatever reason. I am not involved in that drama myself. I think her videos are interesting and thought provoking, but I am pretty neutral when it comes to whether or not I think she’s a good content producer or about her as a person. I did find her recent video about Jana Duggar and “stay at home daughters”, in general, interesting viewing.

What is a stay at home daughter?

Stay at home daughters are usually the eldest daughters in large, fundie Christian families. They typically don’t get married or find jobs. Instead, they stay in their parents’ homes and help raise the youngest children. Then, as the parents get older, the stay at home daughter takes care of them. In the Duggar Family’s case, it’s said that eldest daughter, Jana, is a “stay at home daughter”. I don’t know if that’s actually true, although it does appear to be so. At this writing, Jana is 32 years old and evidently still sleeps in the same bedroom with her much younger sisters. But then, Jana has never had the simple luxury of having her own bedroom. She grew up with many siblings in a home that was much too small. Privacy is a concept with which she’s probably got very little experience.

Is Jana really a stay at home daughter?

I look at Jana and I think she’s absolutely beautiful. She’s very capable, in spite of having been educated at her parents’ dining room table. She’s done everything from rearing children to heavy construction work. I’ve noticed that she’s even wearing pants lately, which is a new development. I would hope that she’s been exposed to the world enough to understand that her father doesn’t own her. But there’s really no telling what the truth is about being Jim Bob Duggar’s daughter.

Young women in the IBLP cult are raised to believe that they are always under a man’s power. They belong to their fathers until they get married. Then, once they marry, they become their husband’s “property”, for lack of a better term. They’re expected to have babies and serve their husbands and the church. They don’t have a voice. They aren’t supposed to work for money. They are supposed to wear skirts and grow their hair and do what the man says.

Fundies live for this…

To be sure, Jana Duggar’s lifestyle isn’t like that of her sisters closest in age to her. They’ve all been married off and have their own babies. But there’s Jana, 32 years old and still having to take orders from her father, sleeping in a big “dorm” room with her little sisters. Maybe this is the way she prefers it. Who knows? I have heard rumors of her “courting”, but then the courtships invariably fizzle out. I’m sure Josh’s recent trial has had an effect on Jana’s prospects for escaping the Duggar compound. After all, Josh’s seven children need help with their raising now…

I think I was especially interested in watching this video because I’ve seen a similar dynamic in my husband’s older daughter’s life. Older daughter is about a year younger than Jana is, and she’s still living in her mother’s home. We’ve heard that she does all of the housework and takes care of her brother. There have been a few times she’s been allowed to leave the home. For instance, she spent some time working with her brother in another state. But even though she reportedly thrived on her own and enjoyed her work, she always faithfully returns to Ex. She supposedly doesn’t have privacy, autonomy, or apparently, much respect. She takes care of everything while Ex presumably sits on her ass, grifts money and gifts from people, and tweets.

Now… older daughter isn’t a fundie. She was raised LDS, which is something her mother pushed. She was not born into Mormonism. Ex decided that she liked the church’s teachings– or maybe the emphasis on family units and staying married for eternity. Ex doesn’t like abandonment. However, the whole Mormon thing seems to have fallen apart. Ex supposedly isn’t in the church so much now, especially since it became more of a burden than a blessing. She just runs her “mini cult” by convincing her grown children that they will suffer without her. Even the ones who aren’t living under her roof anymore are given the message that they have to do what she wants, or else.

I really think this “stay at home daughter” thing often has more to do with narcissism than religion. I think a lot of narcissists are attracted to super strict religions, because it allows them to maintain control over their mini family cults. A lot of strict religions place a lot of emphasis on families, and keeping everyone in the family on the same page, as it were. Where things get into trouble is when the church tries to intervene, or people within a church point out that legalism and power mongering isn’t very Christlike behavior.

I’m sure there are people in the world who like the “stay at home daughter” trend. Some people might be very happy in that role, staying in their parents’ homes, taking care of the house, younger siblings, and later on, their parents. Maybe it works in some situations. To me, it sounds like a special kind of hell. But maybe Jana Duggar and her ilk like how they’re living their lives. I just think it’s sad… because Jana appears to me to be a very smart, capable person who could be living life on her own terms. I feel the same way about older daughter… and I think it’s sad that older daughter can’t or won’t take advantage of the many people, her father included, who would help her escape the situation she’s in. But again… maybe it makes her happy. I don’t know… she doesn’t talk about it.

Anyway… I did run across an interesting blog post about the concept of “stay at home daughters”. The person who wrote it seems happy enough with her lot. It would definitely not be for me, though. I spent two years living with my parents after I came home from the Peace Corps. It was not easy. Thank God for graduate school.

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controversies, Duggars, nostalgia, Russia, safety, silliness

I kept my kid rear facing until he was sixteen! Give me a cookie!

Now that the pandemic restrictions are slowly fading away, people are starting to go back to their old favorite soapboxes. I’m starting to see less lecturing about public health guidelines regarding viruses. And, after our glorious minimally COVID intrusive French break, I am feeling a lot better about some things.

I say “some things”, because I’m going to have to call up USAA again and bitch at them for wrongly blocking my debit card due to “suspicious activity”. They unceremoniously put a block on the card last night as I was trying to make a purchase from a vendor I use fairly often. I don’t know if it’s because I had a travel alert because we went away for a few days, or just because… but this happens to me fairly frequently, and I’m at the point now at which I’m thinking it’s time to consider finding a new bank. Perhaps we need one that is more local. I suggested that in 2014, but Bill didn’t agree. Anyway, I have to call them today, and I hate having to do that. It’s a pain in the ass. Edited to add: as I was writing this, I got an automated call from USAA, many hours after the fact, asking me to confirm the activity. Supposedly, my card is open… so maybe I can make my purchases now. I’ll give it a try later, when I can call USAA immediately and get help if it doesn’t work.

Now… on to today’s topic. I follow the Duggar Family News Group on Facebook. It’s often entertaining, and sometimes there are some great books recommended there. I also enjoy a lot of the snark regarding fundie Christian families such as the Duggars. I guess it was a natural progression, since I’m less interested in snarking on Mormons lately, even if I do still intensely dislike Mormonism (but not Mormons, in general).

This morning, someone posted one of their Facebook memories, in light of the recent car accident involving Nathan and Nurie (Rodrigues) Keller. I posted about the accident, myself, a few weeks ago. It seems that Nathan and Nurie, who have a baby boy, did not have their infant in a car seat at all. Nathan was cited.

Naturally, news of the accident generated a lot of chatter from other Duggar Family News followers, especially since Nurie’s parents, Jill and David Rodrigues, both have siblings who are permanently disabled due to serious car accidents. Jill’s sister has been a quadriplegic since 2015, while David’s brother is reportedly a paraplegic. I don’t know much about the specifics involving those accidents, but it would seem to me that, under those circumstances, car safety should be more of a priority in the Rodrigues family than it apparently is. But this post is less about how I think the Rodrigues and Keller families should be more cognizant of safety, than it is about the public ego stroking that goes on any time someone brings up the subject of car seats.

Someone posted that the below image came up in their memories the other day, and they decided to share it with the group:

Yikes!

This is the video referenced in the above image.

Blood flows red on the highway!

Now… I want to make it very clear that I am not against people being as safe as possible when they’re driving. It’s true that I have always hated wearing seatbelts, but I wear them anyway, because Bill turns into Pat Boone if I don’t. But aside from that, I’m not an idiot. I know that seatbelts and car seats save lives. This is not a rant about car seat safety, five point harnesses, or rear facing children for as long as possible… although I’m pretty sure I would have puked a lot if that had been the rule when I was a child. I tend to get motion sickness when I ride backwards. But what’s a little vomiting when your life is at stake, right?

This rant is about what happens when people share these things on social media. It practically turns into a circle jerk of self-congratulations, as poster after poster brags about how strict they are about car safety with their own kids. In fact, looking on YouTube, the same phenomenon is happening among commenters there. So many people are boasting about how safety conscious they are, patting themselves on the back. They are probably at a higher risk of breaking their arms that way, than in a car accident.

Here’s a sampling of the comments on YouTube.

The comments on the Facebook post are very similar to the ones above. Based on the self-congratulatory mood of these responses, one could be led to believe that everybody who’s anybody rear faces their kids, their husbands, their wives, their pets, and would also rear face themselves, if they didn’t have to drive! And these threads almost always devolve into segues about how long to keep kids in booster seats, harnesses, and what not. I’m surprised people haven’t started making their toddlers wear helmets, elbow pads, and knee pads in the car. Below is another screenshot of comments on the YouTube video…

A little dissension creeps into the discussion… and it starts looking like there are a bunch of physics experts weighing in…

Again… I don’t think there’s anything at all wrong with being concerned about car safety, especially when children are involved. After all, if Princess Diana had worn a seatbelt on her last car ride, she’d probably still be with us. I just don’t understand why some people feel so compelled to share their personal philosophies about it to the point at which it looks like they want a cookie or something. Do people really need validation about their personal choices that badly? I mean, rear face your eight year old if you can, and you want to do that. Keep that kid in a five point harness. Slap a helmet on them, if it makes you happy. Far be it for me to judge you on your car safety choices. But why tell the whole world about it? And why judge other people for not doing what you’re doing? Especially if they’re following the law?

Remember, though, I write this as someone who grew up in the 1970s and 80s, when kids were allowed to bounce all over the car… and although my parents were always devoted to safety and wore their seatbelts religiously, I was usually only forced to wear them when my dad was in control freak mode. That’s probably why I’ve always hated wearing them. I associated them with my parents– really, more my dad– being mean and controlling, and punishing me for being myself. It wasn’t about them caring about my safety, or the chance that I might become a flying object. It was about my dad being large, and in charge. Seatbelts, in those days were also uncomfortable, especially for short people like me.

It amazes me that I survived my childhood, when so many people smoked, and kids rode bikes without helmets and played outside for hours, their parents not knowing where they were, and not worrying until darkness fell. I’ve mentioned many times before that I grew up in rural Virginia, and it was not uncommon to see some of the kids in my neighborhood riding on the hood of their mother’s car to their trailer home at the end of our dirt road. It was hardcore redneck living, I tell you! I remember being embarrassed when I was forced to wear a seatbelt in the car, circa 1980 or so. It was not the “cool” thing to do in those days. It wasn’t until the late 90s, after I spent two years in Armenia, where NOBODY wore seatbelts, that I finally started to wear them 95% of the time.

Nowadays, just about everybody wears seatbelts. You’re not cool if you don’t wear one. And even people in the back seat wear them, which was definitely not the case even twenty years ago. The pendulum has shifted to the point at which people go batshit nuts when they see anyone not wearing a seatbelt. And if a child isn’t strapped in perfectly… well, prepare for the hammer of judgment to come crashing down. While I’m sure most people mean well, others seem to get off on edifying and judging their neighbors. It must give them a surge of sanctimonious supply to get to instruct someone on the errors of their ways…

Dreadful… and no seatbelts to be seen. I was about twelve when this aired. Blair tells Tootie to put a seatbelt on Natalie at 7:17, only because Natalie is embarrassing her. At 9:09, Natalie smiles as she talks about how she “bit down” on the seatbelt when they were stopped by a cop.

Yesterday, I was watching a truly wretched episode of The Facts of Life that aired during the sixth season. It was called “Cruisin'”, and it involved Blair, Natalie, Tootie, and Jo driving around Peekskill, New York in Blair’s daddy’s Caddy. Blair and Jo are in the front seat, and they’re all listening to God awful remakes of popular songs of decades past, acting like mom and pop to Natalie and Tootie. Neither of them are wearing seatbelts, and Tootie folds the front seat forward, causing Jo to chastise her. In fact, at one point, Blair tells Jo to hit the window locks and Tootie to “slap a seatbelt” on Natalie, when she gets too rambunctious. That was kind of the attitude back then. Then, at 9:09, Jo snarks on how Blair came up with a lame excuse for a cop, claiming Natalie was in labor. Natalie smiles and says, “Did you notice how I bit down on my seatbelt?”

Sometimes, in the 70s and 80s, seatbelts were used as disciplinary devices for the unruly children of the world. It’s a weird mindset, I know… When I see evidence of how we were in the 80s, I suddenly feel really old. It’s amazing how many years have passed, and how much some things have really changed. I’m going to be 50 very soon… and I’m starting to realize that I’m getting old. Like, for instance, I often wake up with pain in my back… and I have to squint to read fine print. It’s hard to believe the women on The Facts of Life are even older than I am!

Our mindsets have really changed in a lot of ways, though. In the 70s and 80s, kids were a lot freer to do things on their own. And yet, it seems like less was expected of us. I see so many kids today being prepared for their lives as adults as if they were already adults. There’s so much pressure, yet so much protection. In my day, we all worried about nukes, especially in the 80s. And now, the threat of nuclear war seems even closer than it ever was. It almost makes wearing a seatbelt seem silly. If Putin hits the red button, we’re all probably doomed, anyway. The constant emphasis on safety could be completely pointless soon… if something isn’t done about that madman.

Here’s another thing that reminds me of how old I am… Bill retired from the Army 8 years ago. His service began during the Cold War, and he was trained to deal with Soviet style combat. He has a degree in International Relations from American University, which he earned before the Soviet Union fell apart. For the second half of his career in the Army, that training became almost obsolete, as the focus was more on the Middle East. Now, the Russians are a huge concern again, and Bill’s old training is becoming relevant again. It may even end up making him more employable. Isn’t that weird?

Well, anyway, I don’t think anyone should feel badly about rear facing their children in the car, if that works for them and makes them feel better… especially if the kid doesn’t mind it, isn’t uncomfortable, and doesn’t puke. I’m surprised more car manufacturers haven’t made cars with passenger seats that rear face by design. But I don’t understand why so many people feel like they have to announce this to the world. I mean, look at this…

I often tease Bill, because he’s very safety conscious. He’s also very health conscious. However, he doesn’t get on my case about never going to the doctor. It’s likely that I won’t die in a car accident… I’ll probably die of an undiagnosed chronic disease. I do know, though, that that’s ultimately my responsibility… I just think it’s funny that he’s so safety conscious. And I think it’s funny that so many people are so fixated on things like car seat safety, when there are risks everywhere that a lot of us ignore or downplay. I think seatbelts and car seats, much like face masks, are things that are easy to see, and easy to judge others on, particularly if they aren’t being used properly. It’s easy to judge someone for not using a seatbelt or car seat, or not wearing a mask. That’s why people do it with wild, reckless abandon!

However, chances are, we are all letting a lot of other things slide that will probably kill us someday. And chances are, someone is silently judging you for that, too… even if you’re still rear facing and harnessing your adolescent in the name of car safety. Yes, that includes every sanctimonious twit who wants to brag about their superior parenting skills and health and safety measures. But I guess there’s no harm in a little validation seeking online. Hell, we all do it. Now pass me another slice of pizza and a beer. Gotta get that cholesterol up so I can take that big trip to the great beyond… safely strapped in, of course.

*** But… this all being said, allow me to go on record that I think it’s crazy that Nathan and Nurie didn’t have their baby in a car seat. I hope they learned a lesson and will do better in the future. I’m not going to send them hate mail, though.

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