Duggars, religion, wingnuts

More religious hogwash…

Earlier today, I happened to notice a couple of posts in the Duggar Family News Facebook Group that made my eyebrows raise. The first one was regarding the Rodrigues family, headed by Jill. Jill and David Rodrigues, you may or may not know, are the parents of thirteen children. Jill wears a shit ton of makeup, sells Plexus, and plays homophobic songs on her banjo. The family has a “printing ministry”, which I guess means that they print religious tracts. Their eldest daughter, Nurie, married Nathan Keller, who is brother to Anna Keller Duggar. That means Nurie’s infant son is Josh Duggar’s nephew.

Well, it seems that another Rodrigues is getting married. Sister Kaylee, who is 21 years old and looks a lot like Nurie, is now engaged to a guy named Jonathan Hill. Below, you can see a few screen grabs from a couple of videos posted on Jill’s very public Facebook page. Apparently, the engagement was a “total shock”. But it looks like she was standing in a big heart, and the couple is dressed alike. Wouldn’t that give her a clue as to what was about to happen? It seems like whenever there’s a big event in that family, everyone is there to witness it.

I hope the couple has a happy marriage. Truly, I do. I like to snark on fundies, but I see no reason to rain on their parade.

The next bit concerns Rodrigues son, Tim. He posted something kind of strange. Again, I don’t follow the Rodrigues family, as a general rule, but I do take notice when they get discussed in the Duggar Family News group. And today, someone posted these “words of wisdom” written by Tim, which he allegedly wrote after the marriage announcement.

The person who shared this in the Duggar Family News group cut most of this post down to the part that made me stop and take note. Because God knows, I’m not wading through all that religious stuff to get to the point. I noticed with amusement that the poster referred to Tim as TIMMMAAY, and Jill as “Godjilla”. That’s pretty funny!

This reads a bit like one of Jill’s posts… like when she seems to be offering up her daughters to the first Godly male to make a claim.

In reading this, I’m thinking that perhaps Tim missed out on a good education. He’s not wrong that it’s good to treat the women in one’s life well. I would expand that to mean that one should treat everyone the way they would like to be treated. I would say that Tim seems “nice” enough… but if I were still looking for a spouse, the poor writing skills would turn me off. Also, I would be put off with the comment about wanting to date my sisters. That’s a little too much like Trump wanting to date his daughter. Yuck.

I try not to be too tough on the Rodrigues kids. It’s not their fault their mother is the way she is. My experiences dealing with Bill’s kids make me realize that sometimes, kids do stuff to keep peace in the home. And I’m sure it’s not easy to recover from being raised in a fundie home. Still, I think Tim has a ways to go. Once again, I thank God I wasn’t raised in a super religious home. Boring Presbyterianism was enough for me.

People in Duggar Family News also shared a blog post by Debi Pearl, infamous co-author of the horrible child rearing “how to” guide, To Train Up A Child. That book is condemned by most sane people, because it includes discipline tips such as “blanket training” (using pain to teach babies to stay on a blanket) and using dowels to beat one’s children for any and all disciplinary infractions.

The blog post was about what single “girls” should so with any money they have before they get married. Pearl says that when you get married, “what’s yours is his, and what’s his is yours.” But I think in a lot of fundie marriages, the truth is that “what’s yours is his, and what’s his is his.” Debi writes about how she once owned a little Volkswagen that she had taken meticulous care of and paid off completely. When she married her husband, he had a gas guzzler that he still owed money on. He used to enjoy “hot-rodding” her VW, which really upset her. But she bit her tongue, because her car was now “his”. It sounds like Debi was on her way to being a self-reliant woman when she got married, but then wound up with an immature, abusive, and inconsiderate husband. She’s stuck with him, now.

Debi did include a couple of hopeful anecdotes about decent guys who used their wives’ money and resources for things that benefitted both of them. But unfortunately, I know that’s not always what happens. Bill’s ex wife was basically a parasite who wasted his money and drove them to financial ruin. Granted, I am kind of a parasite too, but at least I do housework and at least try to save and invest some of what he makes. I don’t just buy Swiss Colony snacks and Disney plates to sell on eBay. 😉

I could write more, but I don’t really feel like it today. We had nice weather, but we didn’t go out because we have to leave town in a few days and don’t want to risk getting sick before seeing the dentist and going to France. I’m so sick of the COVID lifestyle. I hope like hell the incidence drops more so we can abandon this reclusive life for something a little less claustrophobic.

Hope you had a good Saturday. I had to call my bank again to get them to unlock my account… which gets locked at the drop of a hat.

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book reviews, Duggars, education, religion

A review of Lovingly Abused: A true story of overcoming cults, gaslighting, and legal educational neglect, by Heather Grace Heath

ETA: December 30, 2021- Heather Heath has reached out to me in the comments and explained that she was not actually interviewed by the Preacher Boys. My apologies! I often get sucked into videos about fundies and obviously got confused. Anyway, Heather was NOT interviewed by The Preacher Boys, and I still can’t find the video I watched that introduced me to Heather Heath’s story. It might have been Dr. Oz whose video I saw. Heather did tell me that he interviewed her. And now, I’ve seen Dr. Oz’s clip, and I think it was his show that I watched.

Interesting video, and you can hear Heather Heath’s interview. It’s too bad they focused on Josh instead of her book.

A few weeks ago, I was watching YouTube videos when I came across the Preacher Boys podcast, hosted by Eric Skwarczynski. I have watched the Preacher Boys’ channel a few times. It mostly focuses on videos about fundamentalist Christians and the abuses that come from that belief system. There’s a treasure trove of information about abuse within the Independent Fundamental Baptist movement on the Preacher Boys’ podcasts, so I highly recommend that channel to those who want to learn more about it. I am probably just moderately interested in fundies, so I only watch that channel when the mood strikes or when I am especially bored. I originally thought The Preacher Boys interviewed Heather Heath, but it turns out I’m mistaken.

In any case, I swear I saw an interview done with Heather Grace Heath, who, along with her editor, Lorna Oppedisano, just published the book Lovingly Abused: A true story of overcoming cults, gaslighting, and legal educational neglect. I see on Amazon.com, it first became available on October 21, 2021, so it’s a brand new book. I just looked for the interview I watched about this book, but I can’t find it. Otherwise, I would post it here for your perusal.

Anyway, it’s too bad I can’t find the video I watched, because it did influence me to buy and read Heather’s book. I do think it’s a book worth reading if you’re at all interested in what it’s like to grow up in a religious cult. And since Josh Duggar, a famous Gothardite, is currently on trial, this topic is very timely. As you can see from my recent posts, I’ve been thinking and writing about fundie Christians a lot lately.

As I was reading Heather’s story on the Kindle app, I found myself doing something that I don’t often do. I made a lot notes, mainly so I that I could refer back to certain passages in this review. I also shared some passages with my friends on social media, again so I could easily find them. I’ve read a lot of books about people– especially women– who have left religious cults. I’ve read some very shocking things. It’s not even so much that Heather’s anecdotes are necessarily more shocking than other people’s anecdotes are. It’s just that she has a real knack for describing what she’s gone through in a way that is relatable and compelling. A number of my female friends who are interested in religion– particularly the ex Mormons– were responding to the passages I posted. I suspect Heather might get a few sales from them, too.

So… what is Heather Grace Heath’s story?

Heather Grace Heath is a thirtysomething cisgender woman* from Connecticut who grew up in Bill Gothard’s Advanced Training Institute (ATI) homeschool cult. Bill Gothard is an eightysomething American Christian minister whose teachings are very conservative. Gothard founded the Institute in Basic Life Principles. He encourages his followers to have many children and homeschool them. His focus is on teaching children to respect authority, memorize Bible passages, and adhere to strict gender roles. They are to stay under the “umbrella of protection”, pictured below.

A screenshot of a familiar diagram that explains the “umbrella of protection”. As we know, not all women have the personality for such a plan…

Under Gothard’s rules, women are to dress modestly, always wearing dresses or skirts and clothes that emphasize the “countenance” rather than the figure. Men are to aspire to be ministers or missionaries. Both men and women are to get married young, eschewing any beliefs that aren’t Biblical. It doesn’t seem to matter too much whether or not the couples are compatible, only that they are Bible believing Christians who follow Gothard’s strict rules.

*In her book, Heather writes that she doesn’t feel comfortable being called a “woman”. She refers to herself as a “girl” who is cisgendered and uses feminine pronouns. But, for the sake of simplicity, I’m going to refer to her as a woman and hope it doesn’t offend.

Heather explains that her mother grew up in a pretty screwed up family system. Her mother’s mom was the youngest in a very large family and she had a half brother who was also one of her cousins. Heather’s grandmother’s father was abusive. Consequently, Heather’s grandmother married an abusive man, and her mother also grew up in a “fucked up” situation. That was what had led her to Gothard’s cult.

Heather’s paternal grandfather died young. Her paternal grandmother was a first grade teacher who was horrified that Heather and her sister, Hope, were homeschooled. But Heather’s father was all in to Gothard’s teachings. Heather grew up being taught that there were certain things that girls weren’t supposed to do. She was taught that she would remain under her father’s care until she got married. And then she was expected to be a housewife, help meet, and mom to many children.

If this sounds familiar, it should, as this is the very same cult the Duggar family is in. Heather explains that not all people in the ATI belief system are Baptists, but they all subscribe to Bill Gothard’s ideas on how people should live, and children should be raised. In fact, Heather alludes to her mother running into Jim Bob Duggar before he was the stalwart Gothard poster child he is today.

They were at an Advanced Training Institute conference and Jim Bob complimented Heather’s mother on how well “blanket trained” Heather’s little sister was. Heather writes that her mom didn’t actually blanket train her two daughters; Heather’s sister just happened to like playing on her blanket. If you want to know what blanket training is, click here. I shared the passage below on Facebook and at least one person wanted to know what blanket training is, and was horrified when he read up about it.

She doesn’t mention Boob by name, but I think we all know who she’s referring to in this passage.

Heather Grace Heath explains some of the rules of the ATI and how people within it are supposed to behave. Young people growing up in the ATI cult are expected to be involved in certain gender specific activities. The boys go to the ALERT Academy (Air Land Emergency Resource Team), which is a program in which boys are taught rescue and medical techniques in a military style. The Duggar boys all attend ALERT, as it’s considered a rite of passage. Girls attend EXCEL, where they were expected to learn how to be godly women and make crafts. Heather was much more interested in what the boys were doing; she was, and still is, very attracted to medical and rescue work. But, because she was a girl, she was not allowed to attend ALERT. I suspect that might have been the first chink in the armor when it came to her decision to leave the cult.

A good example of the mind control that went on in the ATI.

Heather includes some pretty shocking details about her experiences in one of ATI’s training centers. The center she attended at age 17 was in Oklahoma City. She writes that the Oklahoma City center was supposedly one of the less oppressive of the ATI training centers, which was why she chose it. The actual center had once been a hotel, so it was somewhat “nice”, besides being more lenient. Nevertheless, Heather was repeatedly given “heart checks”, which meant she was locked in her room with just water and a Bible. A staff member would be posted outside her door to prevent her escape. This was so she would have time to think about her behavior and examine her heart for the sources of “sinful behavior”.

What’s an example of a behavior that would earn a “heart check”? Heather writes that the girls were all on the eighth floor of the former hotel. Boys were on the third floor. This was done deliberately, so that there would be no reason for boys to pass the girls’ floor or go to a higher level in the building. Heather got a “heart check” because she allowed males to share the elevator with her. She also got a “heart check” when staff members discovered that she had tampons, which were considered “Satan’s fingers”. She was ordered to repent for any enjoyment she got from removing them– (ugh, I can’t even imagine). She got another “heart check” for knowing lyrics to a Broadway song. There are other examples.

As Heather got older, she realized that she was very attracted to the healthcare profession. But working in healthcare went against Bill Gothard’s teachings for girls. Instead, Heather was encouraged to pursue more womanly pursuits– jobs in which she could wear skirts and dresses and be subservient to men. It was pretty clear to me as I read this book that Heather Heath does not have a particularly submissive personality. She’s very bright, naturally assertive (although Gothardites would probably call her rebellious), and courageous. Nevertheless, it’s difficult to overcome cult programming. She also had the misfortune of being homeschooled in a way that left her incredibly underschooled. I was impressed when Heather wrote about the experience of homeschooling her twins last year, because the pandemic required it. She wrote she was shocked by things that she didn’t know that little kids who went to school knew. Not surprisingly, that left her with what seems to be some pretty serious resentment.

The frustration of growing up in the Gothard cult, wanting something the system told her she could never have, left Heather with some pretty serious psychological problems. She also suffered from some “female” physical issues that made her miserable. She did attempt suicide a couple of times, and was at one point, hospitalized. Her father tried to dictate her care. Heather found the courage to tell her medical providers that she would not be able to give them honest answers while her dad was around…

She was definitely starting to find her way out of the cult.

Perhaps the most heartbreaking part of the book for me is when Heather writes about her decision to marry her first husband. Heather had sort of come out of the ATI cult stuff at that point, as she was working as an emergency medical technician and had been a “candy striper” at a local hospital. She had a crush on a guy she met when they were both “candy stripers” at a local hospital (though they aren’t called candy stripers anymore), and then they both became EMTs and worked together at an EMS company. Because of her upbringing, Heather had some difficulty being trained as a medic, even though she clearly had the talent and aptitude. She would answer questions with Biblical responses. So she had to overcome that, but she also had this crush on this guy… and she didn’t really know him before she married him at age 24. The marriage lasted a very short time and he decided to divorce her.

Because she was raised in a cult, she was brought up to believe that now, she was doomed to spend the rest of her life alone, or else be labeled an adulterer. To people who follow Gothard, being an adulterer is considered to be just as “sinful” as engaging in homosexuality (not that I, personally, think either is sinful). Still, even though Heather Heath was taught these things, she exhibits a delightful pluckiness in the passage below…

I loved this!

Heather also writes that she briefly considered attending Hyles-Anderson College, in Hammond, Indiana. I have written about Hyles-Anderson a few times in the blog. It’s definitely not a place for women with “pluck” and an independent spirit. She was going to study a nice “feminine” program at the school, because having been homeschooled through ATI, she would have otherwise had a terrible time attending a secular university where accreditation, grades, and test scores matter. Fortunately, officials at Hyles-Anderson had issues with Heather’s choice to work as a medic. They told her she needed to do more “feminine” work where she could be dressed like a lady (wearing skirts and dresses). So Heather wisely decided to withdraw her application…

Yeah… definitely culty!

And when a woman asked Heather to sell her on the idea of homeschooling, wanting to know all of the advantages Heather got from being taught at home through Bill Gothard’s system…

It’s hard to believe people still think this way in the 21st century. Good on Heather for setting that woman straight!

My thoughts

I took a whole lot of notes on this book, which, as I mentioned up post, I don’t do very often. I highlighted many passages, most of which I didn’t include in this review. I could have included them, but I want people to read the book for themselves. The passages in this review aren’t even necessarily the most shocking. They’re just the ones that fit the best.

In spite of her limited education, Heather Grace Heath is obviously very bright, funny, and articulate. Even with the help of an editor, I could definitely hear her authentic voice in this story. I really admired her strength, courage, and resolve to live her life on her own terms. At the same time, there were times when I could see how her education had limited her, and she often describes how she was cheated by not having access to books, qualified teachers, and broader perspectives. She uses a lot of profanity and sometimes comes across as angry, which could turn off some readers, although personally, it didn’t bother me at all. I don’t blame her for being pissed. She had no control over how she was raised, and she did endure some legitimate abuse and educational neglect that have affected her as an adult.

On the other hand, I loved this passage… It demonstrates some of the biting wit and humor Heather has– and sharp wit is a sign of raw intelligence, which it’s clear that Heather has. She clearly doesn’t belong in Bill Gothard’s cult.

Yeah… I can tell here that she was not destined to stay on the path her parents chose for her. She’s much too strong-willed and intelligent.

It may seem like I have included a lot of passages from the book in this review. But as I mentioned previously, I’ve actually only included a few passages that struck me and fit best. I imagine this book could be quite profound and even triggering to some readers. But I also think a lot of people will find it inspiring and educational. For that reason, I highly recommend Lovingly Abused to anyone who is interested in learning more about about what it’s like to grow up in Bill Gothard’s cult, or even what it’s like to be poorly homeschooled. To be sure, there are many parents who get homeschooling right and do a fantastic job. But there are a lot of other parents who should not be allowed to homeschool their kids. At the very least, there should be much more oversight as to what and how children are taught. I know the conservatives aren’t fans of that idea, since they see it as “government overreach”, but Heather Grace Heath is a living example of why undereducating children is a form of child abuse and neglect.

And… just as an aside, reading Lovingly Abused even gave me some insight into the Duggar family and the situation Anna Duggar is in right now. Anyone who wonders why Anna Keller Duggar hasn’t divorced her clearly deviant husband, Josh Duggar, yet, might have more understanding after reading Lovingly Abused. I didn’t get the sense that Heather Heath’s experiences were nearly as intense as the Duggar kids’ experiences in ATI have been.

While those of us who weren’t raised in a religious cult might think it’s obvious that Anna should leave Josh’s ass, it’s not such a cut and dried thing if you’re in a cult and have been taught that divorce is a pathway to Hell. Even though Anna has grounds for a divorce, it’s still an extremely difficult decision to make, as it makes her significantly less attractive to other men in the cult who are looking for godly helpmeets. Anna probably figures that if she divorces Josh, she will be alone. On the other hand, it’s many people’s fervent hope that Anna will be alone anyway, when a jury of his peers soon delivers a “guilty” verdict. But we shall see… sadly, it could turn out that he walks.

Anyway, below is a link to Amazon for those who want to read this book. If you purchase through the link, I will get a small commission from Amazon. Either way, I hope this review encourages some readers, and I hope someone else will interview Heather and leave up the video. She’s got a lot of important things to say.

And here’s a video by a lady on YouTube who also read the book. Sounds like she was as “triggered” as I was.

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Duggars, law, mental health, psychology

Josh Duggar must be a full on psychopath… there’s just no other explanation!

Today’s featured photo is a screenshot of video taken by KHBS of Josh and Anna leaving court in September. What in the world would make the two of them smile at this point in time? It just defies logic.

Good morning, y’all. I had a completely different topic in mind this morning. I was fully intending to write about something else that has nothing to to do with Josh Duggar. I might be back later to write my originally conceived post. And before I get started, I want to issue a strong warning to anyone who is easily triggered. This post is going to be extremely disturbing and dark. Please proceed with caution.

Still with me? Okay…

Yesterday, it was reported in The Sun that Josh Duggar’s distant relative, Matthew Waller, took the stand during Josh’s court proceedings. Waller was the only other employee at Josh’s used car lot, which is where Josh’s HP desktop computer was located. This was the computer that had the illicit “CP” material on it that has Josh in so much legal trouble today. Waller had initially said that he didn’t know the password to the dark web on Josh’s computer, but when defense attorneys asked if he recognized the phrase “Intel1988”, he said it “rang a bell”. This revelation showed that it was possible that someone else had access to the dark web on that computer and might have downloaded the illegal material.

US Assistant Attorney Dustin Roberts reportedly responded with fury. According to The Sun, he “screamed” at Waller, demanding, “Was there something you’re not telling me? You didn’t tell me or law enforcement about Intel1988? I told you I thought you were hiding something from me.”

Roberts continued, “You’re recalling today knowing about Intel1988, after talking to Homeland Security, then the defense?”

Waller reportedly said that he hadn’t remembered the password when he was questioned by federal agents, but now that the defense attorneys were mentioning it, he’d had a sudden flash of recall. Waller said the password was “vaguely familiar.” So what does that mean? Is Waller admitting that he could have been the culprit? And why would he do that? But then it gets even sicker, and much more disturbing.

Yesterday, it was revealed during Josh Duggar’s trial that federal agents located a folder on Josh’s computer that had 65 thumbnail files of cached downloads. In the folder that the agents found, there was a video of a three month old baby being tortured and abused. There were many more videos and images found on the computer, although experts couldn’t say whether or not Josh had viewed any of them. Meanwhile, Josh and his lawyers have been doing their very best to try to pin the blame on someone else– anyone else— who might pay the price for Josh’s alleged disgusting crimes.

It was also reported that Josh’s wife, Anna, who has, in the last six weeks, just had her seventh baby with Josh– another girl– abruptly left the courtroom before this very disturbing evidence was disclosed. Below is a video Katie Joy of Without a Crystal Ball made. I know Katie Joy is a controversial YouTube personality, but her explanation of what was discovered is probably good enough for those who want to know more. Additionally, some of the court transcripts are available here.

More on what was disclosed during Josh Duggar’s trial yesterday. Proceed with caution.

I don’t even know how the people in that courtroom could stand to hear about what was found on the computer, let alone view some of the images and videos. I think I read that they were, at least, spared the footage of the infant being abused. What a sick, vile, revolting discovery. There are just no words for how completely horrible this is. And now I sit here thinking that, for years, the Duggars were held up as this wonderful Christian family, with Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar bragging about how God kept “blessing” them with children. Josh, as the oldest, was the very first of their many “blessings from God.”

We now know that Josh has zero respect for other people’s “blessings from God”, does he? He had no heart for the victims who were abused and tortured for his own sexual gratification. I am convinced that he is a very sick man, and if he doesn’t go to prison for this, I suspect he will have a short life and not a moment’s peace until he goes straight to Hell.

I really think Josh must be a full on psychopath. Or… to use a more official term, he’s probably an individual with antisocial personality disorder. And no, I am not qualified to “diagnose” anyone, nor does this opinion count as a diagnosis. This is just an educated guess. But I really think Josh has a lot of the signs and symptoms of someone with antisocial personality disorder. Fortunately, there aren’t too many of them in the world. According to Dr. Todd Grande’s video below, 3% of males and 1% of females in the general population could be diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder.

According to the Mayo Clinic, these are the symptoms of antisocial personality disorder:

  • Disregard for right and wrong
  • Persistent lying or deceit to exploit others
  • Being callous, cynical and disrespectful of others
  • Using charm or wit to manipulate others for personal gain or personal pleasure
  • Arrogance, a sense of superiority and being extremely opinionated
  • Recurring problems with the law, including criminal behavior
  • Repeatedly violating the rights of others through intimidation and dishonesty
  • Impulsiveness or failure to plan ahead
  • Hostility, significant irritability, agitation, aggression or violence
  • Lack of empathy for others and lack of remorse about harming others
  • Unnecessary risk-taking or dangerous behavior with no regard for the safety of self or others
  • Poor or abusive relationships
  • Failure to consider the negative consequences of behavior or learn from them
  • Being consistently irresponsible and repeatedly failing to fulfill work or financial obligations

The symptoms usually appear in adults with antisocial personality disorder before they’re fifteen years old. As it’s been widely reported, Josh was having issues with abusing children when he was thirteen or fourteen. He was fourteen when he admitted to abusing four of his younger sisters and a babysitter. The Mayo Clinic continues:

Signs and symptoms of conduct disorder include serious, persistent behavior problems, such as:

  • Aggression toward people and animals
  • Destruction of property
  • Deceitfulness
  • Theft
  • Serious violation of rules
Todd Grande explains what antisocial personality disorder is.

In the above video, Todd Grande explains that there is an association between child abuse and early childhood trauma and antisocial personality disorder. Grande states that some studies show that as many as 80% of incarcerated males could be diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder. People who have this problem do not respect laws, which often leads them to prison.

This video offers Dr. Grande’s analysis of Josh Duggar’s behavior.

In the many years before the public came to know about just how sick and perverted Josh Duggar is, he was often jokingly called “Smuggar”. I can remember reading the now defunct Television Without Pity pages about the Duggars, and the most egregiously obnoxious characters from the Duggar family were given nicknames. Josh’s nickname came from the fact that he was arrogant, but “charming”. Now we know that underneath that layer of superficial charm was a complete disaster of a human being.

For weeks, we’ve all heard about how Josh has tried to pin the blame for these charges on other people. According to Katie Joy, it even looked like Josh’s lawyers might have been able to cast reasonable doubt on the charges. But after yesterday’s bombshell dropped, I don’t think Josh is going to get away with this. If he does, there will likely be a reckoning carried out beyond the prison gates– like, I think Josh would have reason to fear for his life. I am just so sad for Josh’s innocent children, as well as all of his victims.

Whether or not he is convicted, we know that people HAVE been victimized by Josh Duggar. He has openly admitted it, and some of his victims– his sisters– have confirmed it. However, I remember when Jessa and Jill were interviewed by Megyn Kelly on Fox News, Jessa really downplayed what actually happened. In short, she LIED. But she probably did so because her father ordered her to lie. So much for following The Ten Commandments. It just shows that like his son, Jim Bob Duggar thinks he is above the law. Rules are for other people, not him.

For years, Jim Bob Duggar has justified his behavior by pointing to his huge brood of children and his significant wealth, which I’m sure is dwindling by the day, thanks to this very public trial featuring his eldest spawn. Meanwhile, his daughter Jill, who is one of Josh’s victims, is frozen out of the family circle for defying her father and trying to live life on her own terms. It’s just sick and wrong on so many levels.

It was also reported that Josh Duggar did not appear to be particularly serious while he was in court. It was said that he was smiling, cheerful, and joking with the court reporter.

I think about what it means for a person to have antisocial personality disorder. People with this problem often suffered severe child abuse and neglect when they were very young. There are also some genetic roots to this disorder. Josh is the eldest child of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar. Consider that he was raised in an environment in which corporal punishment is not only tolerated, but highly encouraged. Josh’s mother, Michelle, is well-known for “blanket training” her children when they were babies.

Blanket training is a technique that is described in Michael and Debi Pearl’s very controversial childrearing book, To Train Up A Child. It involves placing a baby on a blanket or a play mat with a toy just out of reach. When the baby tries to get off of the blanket, the parent or caregiver is supposed to hit the baby with a ruler or other implement. Eventually, the baby supposedly learns not to try to leave the blanket. That technique likely comes in handy in families that have as many children as the Duggars do. However, it’s also a very sick and abusive disciplinary method. I’m sure for someone who has a genetic or environmental tendency to develop a personality disorder, blanket training and techniques resembling it are particularly damaging. I don’t know if Michelle Duggar used blanket training for Josh. She probably had no need to, since he was her first baby. However, it’s pretty clear that Josh’s father, Jim Bob Duggar, is authoritarian and, being a believer in the Old Testament, probably used harsh and possibly abusive disciplinary methods with Josh and the rest of his children.

I think of Josh being raised with that type of disciplinary method and any others that involved abuse. I also think of him likely having a much higher need for his parents’ attention, particularly if he was a budding narcissist. Imagine having that type of personality and your mother keeps having babies, each of whom diminishes the attention she can give to her other children. Every time Michelle had another baby, there was less of her to go around to the others. And I suspect that Josh, being the oldest child who had once enjoyed all of his mother’s attention, must have really resented his siblings and the attention they received. Especially the girls, whom he was taught from an early age are inferior to boys, simply because they’re girls. In the fundie Christian world, females are always subservient to males.

Now consider that Josh was married at a very young age. He wasn’t the youngest of his siblings to marry, but he was the first, and he and Anna were wed when he was just 20 years old. It was at the height of the Duggar family’s fame. I’m sure Jim Bob and Michelle felt they needed to get him married off, if not to protect their daughters from Josh’s deviance, then to give him an outlet so he didn’t do anything to destroy the family’s reputation. But now, as we can see, that tactic didn’t work. And God only knows what Anna has endured besides the humiliation of being cheated on and repeatedly impregnated by her husband, who clearly has some very serious problems and reportedly enjoys “rough sex”. She won’t leave him, though, and it really wouldn’t surprise me if she and Josh are trying for one last baby before Josh goes to prison.

It was reported that several family members attended Josh’s trial, including Austin Forsyth, who is married to Joy Anna Duggar Forsyth. Joy Anna was victimized by her brother, Josh, when she was just five years old. Derick Dillard, married to Jill Duggar Dillard, another of Josh’s victims, was also in attendance. Imagine how these two men must feel, seeing and hearing what a disgusting pervert Josh is and what he did to his sisters, who are also their wives. And yet even that wasn’t enough to satisfy Josh’s depravity. I’m sad to say this, but I think this is just the tip of the iceberg. What we’re hearing about now is probably just a fraction of what Josh has seen and done. He’s probably gotten away with a lot more than what we know.

Again… I am certainly not trying to officially diagnose Josh. I am only offering a theory that makes some sense to me. If he does have antisocial personality disorder or is a sociopath or psychopath, he will likely be in good company if he winds up in prison. As Dr. Grande says, up to 80% of incarcerated males could possibly be diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder, even though only 3% of males in the general population could.

I am, once again, completely horrified by this train-wreck of a story. Every time I think this situation is as bad as it can be, it gets even worse. There are few lifeforms more helpless than a three month old infant. Anyone who would enjoy watching the abuse of such a defenseless creature must be completely depraved and sick. Anyone who would conceive of, and make money off of, producing such revolting content is someone with no morals or decency whatsoever. It’s just unconscionable.

I think if there’s anything to be learned from the Duggar family, it’s that there’s almost always nasty stuff beneath the surface. People who try to hold themselves up as role models, rather than being held up that way by others, are usually hiding a lot of skeletons. Perhaps on the positive side, it does appear that locals in Arkansas are losing their enthusiasm for Jim Bob Duggar. Maybe that will mean he won’t win his Arkansas Senate election. One can only hope.

Well… we’ll see what else comes to light today. Maybe I’ll come back and write about the topic I was planning before I heard about this latest news. Or maybe I’ll save it for later. Have a good Friday.

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book reviews, religion

Repost: A review of Elizabeth Esther’s Girl At The End of The World…

Recently, in the Duggar Family News Facebook Group, someone mentioned Jocelyn Zichterman’s book, I Fired God: My Life Inside—and Escape From—the Secret World of the Independent Fundamental Baptist Cult. I read and reviewed that book several years ago on my original blog. It got a lot of views and comments, including one from Jocelyn’s daughter, Sandra.

I knew I had reposted my review of Jocelyn Zichterman’s book on this blog, but in the course of verifying, I realized that I didn’t repost my review of a related book by Elizabeth Esther, Girl At The End of The World. So, in the interest of providing more information about cults, I’m reposting it here, as is.

Elizabeth Esther went from blogging to writing a memoir when she published her 2014 book Girl At The End of The World: My Escape From Fundamentalism in Search of Faith With A Future.  I found this book right after I read I Fired God, a book by Jocelyn Zichterman, probably because I was still so flabbergasted by what Zichterman experienced growing up the daughter of fundamentalist Christians.  Elizabeth Esther’s book was offered by Amazon in a suggestive sell and I took the bait.

Like Jocelyn Zichterman, Elizabeth Esther grew up in a “homegrown” fundamentalist Christian group. Her parents ran kind of a halfway house for budding fundies and Elizabeth experienced an ever changing merry-go-round of new people living in her home.  Many were people in trouble looking for a new direction; they seemed to come and go at a whim.

Elizabeth’s parents were strong adherents to the disciplinary practices advocated by Michael and Debi Pearl, authors of the notorious book To Train Up A Child, which is used by many fundamentalist Christians as a guide to discipline.  The Pearls are very strong advocates for corporal punishment and breaking the will of a child.  Consequently, Elizabeth Esther was spanked a lot growing up– every day, in fact.  She spent a lot of time learning the Bible and attending church, preparing for The Apocalypse, and worrying about whether or not her appearance was “modest”.  At age nine, she stood on a street corner, preaching about fire and brimstone to passers by, beseeching them to seek the Lord.

Though Elizabeth Esther is clearly a talented writer, she was not encouraged to develop her gifts.  Instead, she was expected to prepare for a life as a devoted helpmeet to a man and mother to his children.  Elizabeth Esther wanted to be a “normal kid” and did all she could to please her parents, who had high expectations for her.  They were leaders of a group called The Assembly, which was started by Elizabeth’s grandparents.  Elizabeth notes that The Assembly was later profiled in a book by Dr. Ronald Enroth called Churches That Abuse.

As Elizabeth Esther grows older, she starts to see the church for what it really is.  She and her husband, Matt, when they were parents to two young children, decide to leave The Assembly.  It’s not an easy process.  And even once they are out of The Assembly and try to find normalcy in a world from which they were very sheltered, they have trouble.  In one poignant chapter, Elizabeth writes of meeting another young mother at a park.  Elizabeth is desperate to connect to someone and comes off inappropriately, missing her chance to make friends.  Not long after that, she runs into someone at a store who chats her up, hoping Elizabeth will let her sell her home goods to Elizabeth’s friends at a home party.  Elizabeth mistakes the woman’s attention as a genuine desire for friendship and is dismayed when she realizes it was just a sales pitch.  Then, in a remarkable instance of insight, she realizes that she did the same thing for years as she tried to sell Jesus to strangers.

As she searches for a new church home, Elizabeth Esther explores a megachurch, which makes her feel overwhelmed and crazy.  She suffers anxiety, depression, and crippling flashbacks caused by the trauma of the spankings she endured as a child.  Based on her descriptions, I can only guess that she suffered significant post traumatic stress disorder from her parents’ harsh discipline methods.  And yet, she seems to have some forgiveness in her heart for them.  While pregnant with twins, a crossing guard notices her struggling.  By that point, she was caring for three other young kids, while trying to process her traumatic childhood.  He gives her a book of prayers…  which turn out to be Catholic.

Elizabeth Esther had never been taught about Catholicism and had regarded that church as a cult.  And yet, she found solace in Mary, and enjoyed the faith’s embrace of mystery and symbols.  The Catholic church brought her comfort and that’s where she eventually found a spiritual home.

I enjoyed reading Elizabeth Esther’s Girl At The End of The World.  I thought it was very well-written and at times, both poignant and tragic.  Esther has a good sense of humor, which also comes through in her writing.  I would recommend this book to anyone looking for an interesting memoir about legalistic Christian religions.

Here’s a link to Elizabeth Esther’s blog.

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

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