expressions, lessons learned, musings, YouTube

“You should never meet your heroes…” or should you?

A couple of days ago, when I was watching the movie, Camp, I was reminded of a famous saying. “You should never meet your heroes…” ostensibly because the reality of who they are will always be a disappointment. The character, Vlad, actually says those words when he runs into his hero, Bert Hanley (played by real life musician, Don Dixon), who is rip roaring drunk. Vlad idolized Bert Hanley for being a great musician and songwriter, but he didn’t know that Hanley was a cynical drunken asshole. And he was disappointed when he found Hanley, who was supposed to be directing the camp, completely bombed. Adding insult to injury, Hanley vomits on Vlad as he tries to help him up. Real class.

I ran into that quote myself a few weeks ago on the Cruise Critic messageboard. I was reading SeaDream Yacht Club’s board and joked that I really wanted to meet a regular poster named Jim Avery. And another regular poster wisely pointed out, “You should never meet your heroes.” He’s probably right. I’ve met a few people on SeaDream cruises who were posters on the messageboard. Some of them legitimately turned out to be people I wish I’d never met. I love SeaDream cruises, but I have to admit that it’s a line that attracts a fair number of entitled twits. In all fairness, though, some of the other passengers probably think I’m a twit, too. Especially when I’m in the piano bar. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Some of the people on SeaDream probably think I’m not unlike this guy… I even have a similar physique.

I do love being on a SeaDream cruise, though. I haven’t been on one since 2013. I honestly thought we would eventually do another cruise with them, but Bill was going to be retiring in 2014, and I wasn’t sure what his employment prospects were going to be. Also, I knew that he would likely be starting a new job with limited vacation time. Then we ended up moving to Germany, and the rest is history. We have done three more Hebridean cruises, though, and Hebridean is as expensive as SeaDream is. I booked those cruises because of the themes and itineraries… and unfortunately, thanks to COVID, I’m not sure when we will be cruising again. So I will probably never meet the famous Jim Avery. I might be better off for that, since he might turn out to be a mean spirited jerk. Or maybe he won’t. Maybe I would think he’s funny and witty. I may never know.

Wonder if, when she has a quiet moment, Anna regrets being a “super fan”…

This topic comes up, in part, because Katie Joy on her YouTube channel, Without a Crystal Ball, did a video about how Anna Duggar was a “super fan” of the Duggar Family, back in the day. Katie Joy talks about how Anna admired the Duggars, having seen their public persona. She was dazzled by their images. I wonder if she now thinks the reality of being a Duggar is anywhere akin to what she imagined when she first saw Josh and his family. Especially now that it looks like Josh is going to be heading for prison soon. Maybe he’ll manage to get off, but I have a feeling he’s going to be wearing a striped uniform soon.

Then again, sometimes the opposite is true, and you should meet your antiheroes because they’re not nearly as bad as you think they are. You think someone is a real jerk, and it turns out they’re the opposite of being a jerk. Reality is often unlike what we think it is. I’ll give you a real life example.

For years, I thought Bill’s daughter was as hostile as her mother is. I was angry with her for a long time, mainly because she and her sister rejected Bill and refused to speak to him. It pissed me off that a man who is as kind and loving as Bill is, was being treated the way his daughters treated him. I was tired of people giving them a pass for that behavior.

But then Bill started talking to his daughter again, and he started to learn about what was behind that seemingly cruel behavior. And now I know I was wrong about Bill’s daughter, and fully admit that I was wrong. She’s turned out to be a very resilient and empathic person, much like her dad is. She is the very opposite of her mother. It had only seemed like she was a mean and judgmental person. The reality is, she’s not like her mother at all.

This week, Bill’s daughter wrote to Bill expressing her worry and dismay at seeing the crisis in Afghanistan. She wanted to know Bill’s thoughts on the situation. Bill explained to her that he never went to Afghanistan; he did his time in Iraq. But he has many friends and colleagues who served in Afghanistan, and they are devastated by the news. It’s heartbreaking to see that all of the time, money, effort, and lives spent on Afghanistan have seemingly gone to waste.

Bill’s daughter has decided to do what she can to help. She says she’s learned how to say “Hello” in Farsi, which is lovely, although Bill wrote back to tell her that most Afghans speak Pashto or Dari. She says that she knows that it means a lot for people to hear their language. Bill’s daughter is even putting together hygiene kits for refugees. She’s turned out to be a very good person, in spite of everything. She’s finding out that her dad and grandmother, both of whom were demonized for years by her mother, are actually excellent people who love her.

I often wonder what it’s like for Bill’s daughter now. She missed knowing Bill and his mom for most of her life. She was told many lies. Now she’s old enough to seek the truth, and she’s been brave enough to do it. I’m sure that as exhilarating as it is to know Bill again, there’s been a lot of pain. It’s not easy to find out that your mother lied to you, took advantage of you, and was completely abusive and horrible to so many other innocent people. Bill’s daughter has children of her own, and I know she wants to protect them from her mother. That’s got to be hard, especially when so many people have bought into the false story.

I have also gained more respect for Mormonism. I still don’t like the doctrine and I think it does a lot of damage to people who can’t fit into the mold. A lot of people have been harmed by people in the church. But Bill’s younger daughter managed to find good influences in the church, and some good hearted members helped her escape an abusive situation. Granted, she could have found help elsewhere, but in her case, it was the church that helped her. Going on a mission humbled her and broadened her horizons. She started to see perspectives that had been kept from her for so many years. In her case, the church actually helped her grow. It filled a need for her like the Army filled a need for Bill.

Now that I think about it, the Army has also damaged a lot of people… like those who fought or died in Afghanistan for what seems to be naught… But was it really all for naught? I read that some Afghan girls on a robotics team were rescued from Afghanistan. If not for the war in Afghanistan, would they have been rescued? Would they have ever had the chance to study robotics or be on teams that were successful in North America and Europe? What about the other girls who got the chance to go to school during our twenty years in Afghanistan? If not for the war, what would have happened to them?

What about the people who were born because of the war? There were romances between Afghans and Americans. Surely, there are people who exist now because we went to war, just as many people died because of the war. Those relationships help bridge understanding of the cultures. They add stories to the collective… and everyone does have a story. The war seems like it was a huge failure on many macro levels. But on micro levels, maybe it wasn’t. I’m reading about people in Afghanistan defying and protesting the Taliban, despite their fearsome reputation of being brutal in the face of defiance. Would they be doing this if not for the war? To be honest, I think Afghans are the only ones who can save their country from the Taliban. It can’t be up to any other country.

I think sometimes we get lost in what appears to be, rather than what is. It happens when we worship an image over what’s real. Or when we assume we know the truth about something when we really only have some of the information. The situation in Afghanistan looks very bad right now. I can’t deny that. But there are always other perspectives and other ways to look at things. Every new situation brings with it new opportunities. Hell… Bill’s daughter is using the situation in Afghanistan for inspiration. She’s learning a few words of a new language in hopes that maybe somehow, she can help someone. Maybe she will be an actual hero to someone, rather than a hero based on an image, reputation, or facade.

Maybe a lot of people view the United States as “heroic” on some level. And sometimes the USA is heroic. But more often, it’s comprised of fallible people who are living life as best they can. They look to their heroes for inspiration. Sometimes, that view is much better than reality is. And sometimes reality is better than we’d ever hoped or expected.

Well… I guess it’s time to wrap this up. Arran and Noyzi are breathing on me, hoping for a walk. The sun is finally out this week, so I guess I better take advantage before the weather turns shitty again. Have a happy Friday.

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videos, YouTube

Why I’ll never willingly be a YouTube personality…

I have a YouTube channel, but I don’t use it to make a name for myself. It started as a place for me to deposit raw videos from my travels. Now, I use it for travel or dog related videos I put in blog posts or when I feel like trying a song. Usually, when I record a song, I do it on SingSnap, since a lot of the ones I want to do are available there. It’s easy to record a song on SingSnap, but there are some drawbacks. The sound quality isn’t typically as good. I’m recording on the Internet, so that can affect syncing and background noise. SingSnap also got a new recorder, which I’m finding to be pretty wonky. However, in terms of ease and just trying stuff, SingSnap is good.

Sometimes, I make YouTube videos for music because I want to have something sharable. I’ve also found some interesting people on YouTube and, at least in the past, I could collaborate with some of them. I have no illusions of becoming a YouTube star, though. In fact, I don’t really promote my channel, nor do I post a lot of content. I have 79 subscribers at this writing. I’m not unhappy about that. I am primarily a writer, not a YouTube personality.

There was a time several years ago when I thought I’d like to expand my “audience”. I got a taste of what that can be like. I realized that when you put yourself out there, you can run into some real snakes. An encounter with a “real snake” is one reason why I moved my blog to WordPress. I don’t like drama. I just like to articulate my thoughts, and I tend to be very honest about how I feel. Some people like it. Others don’t.

Why is this subject coming up today? It’s because I’m sitting here listening to Jimmy Snow, a popular YouTube personality who has been going through some major YouTube drama right now. Some people know him as “Mr. Atheist”. I like his channel, although he has recently changed formats, which I don’t like as much. But still, I find him clever and interesting, and sometimes he’s pretty funny, too. Lately, Jimmy has gotten into some kind of disagreement with two women over someone’s book of poetry that was poorly reviewed. Somehow, Jimmy got into the middle of this and it’s turned into a huge drama. I’m not going to try to explain it, because I can’t. But I’ve seen sooo many videos about this drama, and it’s all culminated in the one I’m watching right now.

Jimmy Snow apologizes for the latest kerfuffle.

I don’t really know what this is all about. I’m not sure exactly why a negative book review has turned into such a huge deal. I’ve seen several videos by other YouTube personalities who have commented on this. Some have said some bad things about Jimmy Snow. Maybe, for some people, it’s personal. Maybe they’re involved in the drama themselves. I suspect, however, that some folks are making these videos for views and money. It strikes me as kind of tasteless and needlessly dramatic. I listen to Jimmy talk about this– he’s obviously upset and stressed out. It seems kind of pointless… and it reminds me that there’s a downside to being popular.

One of the many people who made a video commenting on Jimmy Snow’s drama.

For the record, I still like Jimmy. I even like his new format somewhat, although I preferred his Mr. Atheist stuff a bit more. When I listen to him speak in the above video, I hear someone who really is hurt and distressed by what’s happened. He sounds sincere to me, although again, I don’t know him personally. I just find his show entertaining and sometimes funny. I don’t like to see people in distress… but listening to him talk about this situation makes me realize that I’m happier as an obscure blogger. I remember how I felt when it seemed like people were stalking and spying on me, trying to stir up shit. I definitely don’t like it.

Jimmy Snow isn’t the only one who’s been getting dragged lately. Katie Joy Paulsen, of Without a Crystal Ball, also seems to have a lot of enemies. Katie Joy does a lot of videos about the Duggars, and she’s pretty popular. I do watch her videos sometimes, having gotten hooked on them when Bill was TDY for weeks. I’ve seen many people posting about her, making allegations that she lies and threatens people.

Katie Joy has made videos addressing the critics. She says she’s had CPS called on her, as well as multiple visits from the police over videos she makes. She’s even said she’s had dealings with the FBI due to death threats. Obviously, like Jimmy Snow, she makes money on these videos. But she’s also been sued over her commentary. Believe me… I am not interested in that kind of notoriety myself. I don’t know Katie Joy personally, so I’m not involved in her drama. But other people sure are.

No thanks… that kind of drama is more than I want to deal with.

This guy, Road Hog, has been posting all kinds of videos about Katie Joy. He calls her a liar and takes great pains to find falsehoods in what she says and does. It’s creepy and weird. I don’t know if what he says is true. He’s not the only one I’ve seen criticizing Katie Joy. I wonder if part of it is an attempt to score viewers and cash from monetization, or if he’s just on a quest to “uncover” a scandal. I just know that dealing with this kind of shit doesn’t appeal to me at all.

Hmm… what’s Road Hog’s real problem with Katie Joy?
He’s made a bunch of these videos. I’m beginning to think he’s got a problem.
Why is this guy so invested in Katie Joy’s channel? Has she accused HIM of something? Or is he just trying to cash in on drama and make money from views?

I notice that the more followers a person has, the more likely he or she is going to have to deal with strife. I write because it brings me pleasure. I find it liberating to put my thoughts down. I like sharing these thoughts with others, especially when they enjoy or even learn from my observations. But I am not interested in the kind of stress people like Jimmy Snow and Katie Joy are enduring, especially when it’s clear that making YouTube videos is their job. Jimmy has said that he has an actual “staff” who depend on him for their livelihoods. So when people start turning on him, it doesn’t just affect him.

My YouTube channel is pretty boring and non-controversial. In fact, last year I even stopped doing collaborations with a YouTuber because he reacted very negatively to a relatively innocuous comment I made on one of his videos. I decided I didn’t need that kind of drama in my life, so I unsubscribed. He didn’t seem to take that well, and he actually came to my channel and deleted every single comment he’d ever left on my videos within about eight years. That, to me, is pretty telling, and definitely weird. It’s a sign that I was right to back away from him.

The other main reason why I don’t try to make a name for myself on YouTube is that I don’t like being on camera. I don’t want to put on makeup, fix my hair, or wear a bra. I have an okay speaking voice, but I get very self-conscious on camera. The Zoom meeting I attended last week was enough video exposure for me. I don’t even use the camera when I make SingSnap videos.

So I am content to write this stuff on my personal space, on a fairly under the radar blog. I let the people who want to find me, find me… and enjoy relative privacy. I don’t know what I think about Jimmy or Katie Joy and whether or not these dramas are justified. I just watch their channels to kill time. There’s a downside to popularity, and I’m too old and cranky to deal with it.

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family, Reality TV, TV

I finally found my way to “Plathville”…

Recently, I started following Fundie Fridays, which is a YouTube channel run by a woman named Jen who does her makeup while talking about fundamentalist Christians. Sometimes, Jen is joined by her social worker boyfriend, James. I like her channel very much. She’s funny, and she’s great at applying makeup. I’m often amazed at the looks she achieves as she casually discusses people like the Duggars, the Bates, and any other weird-o-rama fringe religion out there.

It was on Jen’s Fundie Fridays channel that I discovered the Plath family. I mean, sure, I had seen references to them in the Duggar Family News Facebook group. I just never paid any attention to them, despite their impossible to ignore blondness and musical chops. Anyway, they have been on TLC for two seasons, and I recently happened to catch Jen’s video about them. In this video, she’s joined by James, as they describe this Quiverfull family who live in southern Georgia and work in Florida. Parents Kim and Barry Plath have nine living children. Their toddler son, Joshua, died in a tragic accident. Kim accidentally ran over him while driving on their farm. He was seventeen months old.

At this writing, two of the Plath kids have gotten married. Eldest son, Ethan, is married to Olivia Meggs, who could easily pass as one of the siblings, since she’s tall and blonde. Eldest daughter, Hosanna, is married to Timothy Noble. They live in Ohio and aren’t on the show.

This video led me down a TLC rabbit hole yesterday.
About season 2.

Kim and Barry both went to college. Kim didn’t finish her music degree at Florida State University. Both parents left college with tons of debt and remember that their college mostly consisted of getting drunk and partying. Consequently, they aren’t fans of college, unless it’s to study something for which a college degree is necessary. All of the Plath kids were homeschooled. They didn’t eat sugar, watch television, have social media or cell phones, or listen to popular music. Both Plath parents are strictly against drinking alcohol, as Kim grew up with an alcoholic single mom who traumatized her.

The Plath kids are musically talented and have had a family band. They played southern gospel music. On their TLC reality show, Welcome to Plathville, we see the adult kids wanting to branch out and listen to and play secular music. Mom and Dad Plath are against that, as well as their other worldly habits, such as drinking Coca-Cola and beer, wearing immodest clothing, and visiting “liberal” cities like San Francisco. The Plath parents have been criticized for being too controlling and for sheltering their children so much that they can’t function in the world.

Here’s a documentary about the Plath family. You can hear their music on this. I think they’re good musicians… certainly better than the Duggars!
Not bad at all, although the girls look a little sad.
Timothy and Hosanna Noble. They aren’t on the show, but Hosanna clearly has the musical genes and blond hair.

I think the Plath kids are absolutely gorgeous. They’re also very talented. Yes, it’s true, they’ve had a very unconventional upbringing. I’ve read a lot of harsh comments about Kim and Barry Plath and, while I haven’t yet finished the series, I feel the need to speak up. I think people are being kind of tough on the Plath parents… at least based on what I’ve seen on the show. Kim and Barry Plath are strict, conservative, and sheltering parents, and some might think they’re hypocrites for making their children live a lifestyle so different from the ones they had growing up. But… when I watch the Plaths, I don’t get the icky feeling I get when I watch the Duggars. And when you compare the two families, I definitely think the Plaths are more “normal” than the Duggars are.

It’s true that the Plath parents discourage their children from being too “worldly”. They don’t approve of drinking alcohol, consuming sugar, wearing immodest clothes, or visiting liberal cities like San Francisco. However, the kids are doing those things and they haven’t been disowned by the parents. It’s true that eldest son, Ethan, kind of went no contact with his parents because of the rift between them and his wife, Olivia. He objects to the way the parents talk to and treat his wife. But I think Olivia kind of brings some of that treatment on herself. She deliberately does things to undo the Plath parents’ “work”. We see her encouraging Ethan to drink alcohol and try a Coke, and hiring sixteen year old Moriah to help her with her wedding photography business so she can “break out” of that sheltered environment and visit San Francisco. The Plaths don’t necessarily approve, but they did allow Moriah to go on that weeklong trip. They could have vetoed it. I think Jim Bob Duggar would have forbidden his daughters from going on a similar trip with a more “worldly” sister-in-law.

I do think Olivia, who is absolutely beautiful, by the way, instigates a lot of problems. It’s understandable that she would, though. She’s still very young and had a different upbringing. I can see why Ethan wants to protect her and have her back. That’s admirable. I can also see why Ethan is a little bit “annoying” to her, too. He’s very childlike and a bit stunted. It’s entertaining to see him drink a mixed drink for the first time. But then, I can see how that reaction to so many new experiences could get irritating, such as when Ethan is shown trying to make pancakes while Olivia is trying to work. It’s as if Ethan is trying to cram a lot of experiences normal people would have had way before marriage. It’s exciting for him, but old hat for his wife. I hope their marriage survives.

Getting back to Kim and Barry– it is true that the Plath parents “kicked out” their son, Micah, and seventeen year old daughter, Moriah, because they didn’t want them influencing their youngest children. But I look at the way Moriah dresses and Micah’s career as a male model. Moriah and Micah visited them to confront them about their upbringing. Moriah was wearing what I think is a bit of a scandalous outfit– red and black leggings, a skimpy top, and tons of makeup. I don’t see her parents forcing her to cover up around the younger kids. I think Jim Bob Duggar would have probably refused to let Moriah come over dressed like that, if she were his daughter. I also doubt that Moriah would have dared to do that, because I have a feeling Boob is heavy on corporal punishment.

I can also understand why two religious parents would not want that in their home, even if I personally disagree with their religious views and policies. I do agree that the Plaths are too strict and too sheltering, but I don’t think they’re as controlling as Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar are. And I don’t think their lifestyle is all that weird, to be honest.

Also… I think people forget that Kim Plath is clearly very traumatized by her upbringing. I grew up with an alcoholic parent myself. I know what that was like for me. I was fortunate enough to have another parent who wasn’t an alcoholic, though. Kim’s mom was all she had, and she grew up in chaos. It makes sense that she would be controlling and try to offer her children something she didn’t have growing up. She probably finds comfort in offering that very orderly, strict home environment, because growing up with an alcoholic can be quite the epic shitshow. I think anyone who doesn’t understand this should read up on adult children of alcoholics, and how a parent’s alcoholism affects children.

Remember, too, that Kim Plath lost a child directly due to her own negligence. She faced a horrifying situation. I don’t even know how someone recovers from causing their own child’s death. I would assume that losing a child in that way would make any parent neurotic and obsessively overprotective. Can you even imagine the guilt and horror of that? She probably has some PTSD going on after that experience. And Barry also lost a child, and as Kim puts it, a wife. She says she wasn’t “present” in the months after Joshua was killed. I would be very surprised if she ever got any mental health counseling, either, to help her process such a terrible loss.

Sad…

I actually had a childhood neighbor who ran over and accidentally killed her daughter. The incident happened in 1995, when my neighbor was 24 years old and her daughter was 2. They were at Walmart and, for whatever reason, my neighbor let her daughter stand up behind the seat of the car as she coasted forward with the door open. The girl fell out of the car and was under the car’s tires. My former neighbor is now dead herself, because she had Huntington’s Disease. I’ve wondered if maybe the disease was starting to be symptomatic when that accident happened. She had three children, only one of whom is still living. Her eldest child, a son, died at age 21 in a car accident. Sadly, because of Huntington’s Disease, it’s possible that the little girl wasn’t destined to live a long life in any case. I have always been haunted by the sad circumstances of that family and wondered how my former neighbor and friend could go on after that accident.

I don’t necessarily agree with Kim and Barry’s parenting decisions. I can understand why their children chafe at the way they were raised. I can see why they want to go their own ways so soon after they become adults or, in Moriah’s case, even before then. But I also can understand on one level why Kim and Barry are concerned about their older children “corrupting” the younger ones– even if I don’t agree that the children should be that sheltered. When it comes down to it, they’re the parents, and they should have the right to raise their children according to their beliefs without having to worry about Ethan’s wife overriding their decisions. The time will come soon enough that the youngest kids will be making their own decisions. We can see that the Plath parents have allowed the oldest children to be adults and make those choices. I didn’t see Ma or Pa Plath yelling at Ethan when he drank beer at the “surprise party” Olivia arranged (unbeknownst to them) for Moriah. Imagine if one of the Duggar sons had done that! Jim Bob would have thrown a huge fit. The Plath parents just shot a disapproving look at Ethan, rather than making a scene.

It’s supposed to rain today, and I’m expecting a package from Apple. Bought myself an Apple Touch because the 160 GB Classic iPod I have is becoming obsolete. The Touch will handle a lot more music, too. Since I don’t want to go out before the delivery gets here, I’ll probably go watch more of the Plathville episodes. I might change my mind about Kim and Barry Plath after seeing more of season 2, but at this point, I think people are being pretty tough on them. I don’t think they come close to being as dysfunctional as the Duggars are. At least they allow some dissension and will even discuss issues with their children, even if it’s uncomfortable or unpleasant. That, in my book, makes them healthier than some of the other families that have been presented on TLC. However– I do think that any family that agrees to be profiled on TLC is probably a bit on the fucked up side, regardless. But then, that would describe a lot of families, whether or not they are on reality TV. In the Duggar family’s case, I think maybe reality TV helped make them a little more “normal” than they might have been otherwise. But then, some of those kids might not have been born if Boob and Michelle hadn’t needed storylines to keep the gravy train rolling.

Anyway… I think as TLC families go, the Plaths are probably more real than some. And at least I can understand why they are the way they are, to some extent. I’m sure their faith in God helps them deal with the pain of what they’ve been through. Of course, I write all of this realizing that what we’re seeing is a heavily edited TLC product. I’m sure off camera, things aren’t always necessarily the way they appear.

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religion, videos, YouTube

A Christian diet cult crashes and burns…

Until last week, I had never heard of Gwen Shamblin Lara, or her husband, former Tarzan actor, Joe Lara. I didn’t know anything about their “church”, either– Remnant Fellowship— located in Brentwood, Tennessee. The couple came into my consciousness a few days ago, when news reports broke about how their 40 year old Cessna 501 airplane crashed into Percy Priest Lake in Smyrna, Tennessee, just east of Nashville. They had been headed for Palm Beach, Florida, home of many wealthy people and white Christians.

I didn’t initially pay much attention to the news about the crash. I had heard that Gwen Shamblin Lara’s ministry focused on breaking people out of addictions– particularly food addictions. I had noticed Gwen’s crazy high hair, and realized that she reminded me a bit of the late Jan Crouch, who famously had big pink hair and was seen on Trinity Broadcasting Network with her late husband, Paul. Those factors alone should have attracted me like a magnet to Gwen’s story. But I didn’t learn much about her until yesterday, when I caught Katie Joy’s videos about the Remnant Fellowship. I was pretty gobsmacked by them.

What’s with the hair?
Kudos to Katie Joy for dishing on this couple.

If you are interested in learning more about Gwen and Joe, I highly recommend watching Katie Joy’s videos from Without a Crystal Ball. I know a lot of people seem to have a problem with Katie Joy, but I think she did a good job covering this story. I watched and listened with some shock and disgust as I learned more about this couple, who claimed to be Christians, yet lived in extreme opulence and evidently promoted abuse and eating disordered behaviors.

In one clip Katie Joy provides, the skeletal looking Gwen is wearing a tank dress that is clearly at least a size too big for her. She stands with her hands in the air, the dress shifted to one side and the strap falling off her shoulder. Her voice is thick with a southern accent as she commends one mom for spanking her child. Another mom, Sonya Smith of Mableton, Georgia, followed Gwen’s advice to punish her son, locking him in his room with a Bible for days (starts at 8:20 in the second video). Gwen commends Sonya Smith for not “spoiling” her child.

In 2007, Sonya Smith, and her husband, Joseph, ultimately went on trial for the 2003 death of their eight year old son, Josef. In October 2003, Josef Smith passed out without ever regaining consciousness as the family had gathered in their kitchen to participate in a prayer session over the Internet. When Josef collapsed, father Joseph touched him, noting that the boy was “warm to the touch” but sweaty. He thought Josef was overheating, so he carried him outside to the carport and laid him down on the concrete. When that didn’t help cool off Josef, the family called 911 and Josef was brought into the dining room. Paramedics first encountered the child there; he wasn’t breathing and was without a pulse. They took him to a hospital, where he was determined brain dead. A day later, he was dead.

Medical examiners determined that Josef Smith had died having suffered extreme abuse from his parents. The police stated that the child was frequently locked in a closet and forced to pray to a picture of Jesus. His parents admitted to striking him with a glue stick, although they didn’t think the punishment was abusive. See the featured photo for an example of what a glue stick looks like. The ones in the photo are about a half inch in diameter and 12 inches long, but they come in different sizes and colors. Before I started learning more about fundie Christians, I had never heard of people spanking their kids with glue sticks. I always thought of them as being much smaller and in a plastic push up tube. Even the hot glue sticks I’ve seen were a lot shorter than the ones used by fundies to discipline their kids.

I always thought the “rod” was the gospel, not an actual rod…

Many devout Christians are particularly enamored of the Bible verse about sparing the rod and spoiling the child and take it very literally. I’m not sure if Gwen and Joe were fans of Michael and Debi Pearl’s controversial book, To Train Up A Child, but that book is infamous for its strong emphasis on corporal punishment for the purpose of “training children” to be obedient Christians. It goes as far as advising parents what implements they should use for spankings. It sounds to me like the Remnant Fellowship, which, like the LDS church, claims to be the “one true church”, might be in favor of the Pearls’ teachings about breaking children’s wills to turn them into good little Christian robots.

If you listen to Katie Joy’s video, at around 9:19, you hear Gwen Shamblin Lara preaching about not spoiling children and being sure to “spank” them to show love. But then you look at how she lived. She and her husband had a huge mansion decked out with gilded furniture, and they owned their own airplane… which ultimately led to their demise. And here she is telling her followers not to “spoil” their children, when she herself appears to be very pampered, living a lavish lifestyle on donations from her flock. Ultimately, her privileged lifestyle led to her early death, didn’t it? What a hypocrite!

Sonya and Joseph Smith became members of Gwen Shamblin Lara’s church in 2000. The Remnant Fellowship Church is an offshoot of Gwen’s “Weigh Down Workshop”, which is a diet program she started in 1996. The church is known for its focus on saving souls from Hell and reforming people with addictions to drugs, alcohol, and food. However, according to Katie Joy’s expose, this church’s methods are extremely controlling and abusive and many people have been harmed by it. The Smithsโ€™ case led to authorities raiding and investigating the Remnant Fellowship Church in 2004; the church supported the Smiths in their legal fight.

As for the Smiths, according to Wikipedia, they were “each charged with four counts of murder, five counts of first-degree cruelty to children, three counts of aggravated assault and two counts of false imprisonment.” On February 12, 2007, which would have been Josef’s 12th birthday, a jury found them guilty on eleven counts: “one count each of felony murder, reckless conduct, false imprisonment; three counts of aggravated assault, and four counts of cruelty to children (two specifically pertaining to glue sticks and others to unknown objects).” On March 27, 2007, Joseph and Sonya Smith were each sentenced to life plus thirty years– the maximum allowed by Georgia law. The case was appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court in 2010, but the original convictions and sentences were upheld. In February 2011, a petition was filed with the United States Supreme Court, asking the justices to review the decisions made by Georgia’s lower courts. The petition was denied.

I would not wish a plane crash on anyone. I’m sure the crash was horrific for everyone on board. Katie Joy said that the aircraft basically “broke” and there’s debris everywhere with no chance whatsoever of any survivors. However, after listening to Gwen Shamblin Lara speak and hearing about Josef Smith’s very sad case, I kind of feel relieved that Gwen will no longer be around to spread her particular brand of “the gospel”.

I’m sure the Remnant Fellowship won’t be going away, but at least now more people know about it and the potential dangers it poses to innocent people. It’s not hard to fall into abusive situations… whether they be abusive relationships with other people or abusive organizations like religious groups or cults. These systems thrive on attracting people who are weakened because they are in trouble. People with financial or health problems… people with low self-esteem or addictions… people who are desperately looking for a way out of a bad situation– these are all examples of folks who might be lured into joining falling into abuse. Sometimes, those situations lead to terrible tragedies involving innocent people like Josef Smith, or plane crashes that kill innocent people, like those who were onboard the private Cessna aircraft with Gwen and Joe.

As I wrote in yesterday’s post about culty churches, Shamblin Lara’s followers were required to close themselves off from other influences. They weren’t allowed to read anything not produced by Gwen or listen to music not made by Gwen’s son, Michael Shamblin. That raises some red flags, right? Gwen also says that her followers should not use antidepressants and they should disconnect from their families. More culty red flags!

For more information about this “cult” of starvation, check out Jen’s Fundie Fridays’ YouTube channel and its lengthy expose of Gwen Shamblin Lara’s “church” and weight loss program that combines religion with anorexic behaviors. This video below was made about a year ago. I wonder if Jan will do another video soon, now that Gwen and Joe are dancing with whatever they found in the great beyond after their plane crashed into Percy Priest Lake.

That hair on Gwen… wow. I like Jen’s style. She has a great sense of humor.

In the above video, I see clips from Gwen’s videos and they all depict her living the perfect, romanticized life, complete with music from Shrek (really?). All of the people are dressed to the nines and there are romantic gazebos and depictions of perfect family living… but that’s all it is. It’s just a facade– a highly staged, manipulated, fantastic facade– that sadly roped in enough followers for the Laras to be able to afford this very anti-Christlike church they promote. It’s obvious that Gwen was idolized by her followers, which is pretty much not what the Bible promotes, right? Idolatry is specifically forbidden, according to the Bible. See below, where it’s spelled out…

Yup… Idolatry is not Christian.

In yet another example of idol worship, Gwen Shamblin Lara even compared herself to Michael Jackson, claiming she was persecuted. But I think it’s fair to say that the criticism she got was warranted. People died following her… a child died! His parents are now in prison for the rest of their lives. She promoted pro-ana ideas, which are extremely dangerous, especially for people who already have tendencies to fall into eating disorders. And frankly, I think her hair was a crime against nature. So, while I don’t rejoice in the death of Gwen and Joe, I am glad that their toxic brand of “Christianity” has been dealt a serious blow. If the church continues, I hope it is run by people who are less dangerous and hypocritical… and culty.

Anyway… a week ago, I had never heard of Gwen Shamblin Lara. And now that I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole, I’m glad I didn’t find her until she was dead. What a toxic load of shit her church is. I thought Teddi Mellencamp’s diet program was abusive and predatory. At least Teddi Mellencamp doesn’t marry dieting with religion. She just charges a lot of money to bully her customers into starving themselves down to a more “acceptable” size.

And she has more normal hair, too. Of course, her weight loss program is also pretty fucked up and dangerous.

In other news… I was successful in getting my second shot yesterday. So far, I feel okay. My arm is a bit sore and I’m a little tired, but otherwise, no sweat. Bill suffered a lot more from his second shot than I have so far. But I hesitate to celebrate too much, since I have heard that the side effects can come on within a day or two. I may be down for the count tomorrow or over the weekend. We shall see. I’m just glad it’s done.

Edited to add: Fundie Fridays posted a new video about a half hour ago (as of June 5, 2021 3:30pm Central European Summer Time)

Very newsy! This video is done by James instead of Jen.
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bad TV, Duggars, videos, YouTube

It’s Josh Duggar, not Josh DOO-gar…

Okay… since Bill is gone again, I’ve been filling my hours by watching lots of YouTube. As I’ve been watching, I’ve been shocked by how many people have been turning a buck by making live stream videos and shit. They clearly monetize their efforts, and judging by the sheer numbers of videos done about Josh Duggar, they must be making some bank. Which brings me to the title of today’s post…

I ran into this guy’s video this morning. I don’t know a thing about him, but I had to stop watching after hearing him mispronounce Josh’s last name three or four times within just a minute or two. At this point, I don’t know if Scott Reisch means to be taken seriously, or this is just a joke.

This guy, Scott Reisch, made this video called “Crime Talk Busy Docket Friday: How Much Trouble is Josh Duggar Really In?” to talk about Josh Duggar. But you can see Josh’s name is misspelled on the thumbnail above, and within just a few minutes of talking, Reisch keeps mispronouncing the Duggar name, saying “Doo-gar”, accent on the first syllable. I can see in the comments that some people find this mispronunciation funny. Personally, it makes me think Reisch is unprofessional and probably doesn’t know what he’s talking about. If he were a real journalist, he’d get the name right. If he were an expert in crime talk, he’d also get the name right… and well, it just grates to hear him fuck up a name that has been all over the news for over a week now, not to mention all over reality TV for years.

On the other hand, I’m glad to know there’s at least one person who doesn’t know the Duggars. Maybe there’s hope that Josh will get a fair trial, if it comes down to that (and it probably will). But if Scott Reisch doesn’t know Josh’s name, how can I expect he knows anything about the case or take him seriously? And why would I want to spend my time generating ad revenue listening to that, especially when hearing the mispronunciation is so annoying to a stickler like me?

I also discovered Emily D. Baker’s channel. Emily D. Baker, as you might know, does the Lawyer Reacts channel on YouTube, and she covers legal issues of all kinds. I kept seeing her videos suggested and, last night, finally decided to actually view one to hear what she had to say about Josh. I kind of liked Emily’s video, although it ran for over two hours. She was a prosecutor for some time and is still now a licensed attorney, although I get the sense that she isn’t practicing law right now. In any case, I found her a lot more professional than Scott Reisch, despite her liberal and unapologetic use of profanity. Actually, I kind of enjoy her use of profanity. She’s a woman after my own heart.

Emily D. Baker was present on the Zoom call and heard all of the gritty details of what kind of bad stuff was found on Josh’s computers.

Emily D. Baker was present on the Zoom call that served for Josh’s bail bonds hearing. She said it was a very lengthy session. I liked that Emily took the time to explain, rather emphatically, that even if we all hate what Josh Duggar has allegedly done and are sick of his smug, smarmy face, he does have Constitutional rights that must be protected. And so, although the requirements surrounding his release and continued time out of custody are very onerous, so far he has managed to arrange a situation that satisfies the court’s conditions. Because he’s been able to do that, he’s entitled to be out of jail for now, even though the prosecution is against it. We may not like it, and he may end up failing spectacularly, but his rights were preserved. That’s a good thing, since I’m sure Boob will do all he can to minimize Josh’s accountability in this matter. For some reason, he seems to think of Josh as “golden”.

I don’t know if I’ll keep watching Emily’s channel, although she does say it’s for “legal nerds”. I don’t know if I’d call myself a “legal nerd” per se, but I do find the law interesting. I wonder sometimes if I should have gone to law school… but then, if I had married Bill, I might still be in the situation I ultimately landed in, only with a lot more student loan debt. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Frankly, at this point, I wish I’d just studied music. At least I really enjoy music, and I’m naturally good at it. If I was destined to be Bill’s wife, it would have landed me in the same place, and maybe I could have used those skills the way my mom used her organ playing skills for so many years.

And finally, I’ve gotten re-hooked on Without a Crystal Ball, which is “Katie Joy’s” Duggar focused channel. Katie Joy seems to be a rival of Pickles– of the Duggar Family News Facebook group and page. I’ve noticed some in Pickles’ group don’t seem to like Katie Joy, and Katie Joy herself has said on her channel that she knows Pickles doesn’t like her. I’m not sure why that is. It could be because they’re rivals. Maybe one or the other thinks she knows more about the true Duggar scoop and resents having competition. Personally, I think both enterprises have some value.

Katie Joy is good on camera. She almost always has pretty eye makeup and a good presence. I admire her for being good on video. I don’t like being on video myself, which is one reason why The Overeducated Housewife is a blog instead of a vlog. I get super self-conscious about my appearance, plus I hate putting on makeup unless I’m going somewhere. However, I do have a pretty good speaking voice… maybe someday I’ll try doing a podcast. Katie Joy does have a pronounced Midwestern accent. I heard her say that she lives in Minnesota, which is probably why she has such an accent. It cracks me up.

Katie Joy’s videos are pretty professional, a lot of the time. When she does live streams, sometimes, there’s a bit of dead air. But I am impressed by how together she is on camera, and her ability to do her eye makeup. She seems to have real sources, too.

I found Katie Joy some months ago, watched a few of her videos, but then moved on. Now that I’m stuck here alone for the next two weeks, I’ve fallen back down the rabbit hole. I don’t know why I’m so interested in the Duggars. I don’t watch their show anymore and haven’t in years… I guess it’s the whole fundie Christian narcissism bent that has me interested. Jim Bob Duggar is a MASSIVE control freak who has been selling the public on his brand of sick theocracy for years now. I’m sure he and his ilk would love to see the entire country living the way he does… with lots of guns, religion, and oppression of women. I probably should be disgusted enough by him not to pay him any mind, but I can’t help finding him fascinating… kind of in the same way I’ve found Ex fascinating for so long.

On another note, I’ve noticed a WHOLE LOT of people writing about the Duggars lately. I know they’re topical right now, but some of the stuff that’s being put out there is pure crap. Someone shared an article in the Duggar Family News group the other day. I had to quit reading it, though, because the reporter didn’t know the difference between “flouting” and “flaunting”. And y’all know that’s one of my *many* pet peeves. I guess the Duggars are bankable, though, if only through clicks and ad revenue. I personally don’t care if anyone reads the crap I post. This blog isn’t monetized.

What else have I been watching besides the “Doo-gars”? Well, I found a very interesting and entertaining channel called History Scope. The guy who makes these animated videos about world history is often funny and educational, and he picks topics that I am curious about. So I have watched a few of his videos and subscribed to his channel. So far, in the past week, I’ve learned more about the breakup of the Soviet Union, the reunification of Germany, the breakup of Yugoslavia, how alcohol was discovered, and why North and South Korea were divided into separate countries.

This was a particularly good video. I really enjoyed it.
This one is good, too.

I think I especially enjoyed the above two History Scope videos because I remember when both of these major historical events happened. I was still a teenager, and had been raised during the Cold War. Later, I lived in what was once part of the Soviet Union and is now the Republic of Armenia. And now, I live in reunified Germany and have actually visited what was once East Germany more than a couple of times. Bill even used to guard the border of what was once West Germany and Czechoslovakia, back in the beginning of his Army career in the late 80s. He was living in Bavaria when the wall came down. So yes, the German Reunification video is a winner for me. I’d love to know where the guy who makes these videos is from. He sounds like he might be from Eastern Europe, but I also see he’s done a bunch of videos about the Dutch. In any case, his accent charms me.

In other news… I undercooked a chicken yesterday. I was disappointed about that, since I used to be a really good cook. I also found myself watching Drink TV, which is a service I subscribed two a couple of years ago, but never used because we had an old Apple TV in our bedroom and couldn’t add apps to it. I have a newer Apple TV in our entertainment room, but that room lacks proper seating. So I ordered a new Apple TV and it got to us recently… and now, as you can see, I’m getting my money’s worth, watching videos. I probably should be power walking, trying to lose my beer gut and loosen up my sore, chronically stiff back.

Seriously… I am so fucking tired of these ridiculously long TDYs Bill keeps doing. I probably wouldn’t be so pissed about them if we had a chance to travel and he wasn’t working his ass off, but we’ve been locked down for six fucking months. I’m fucking over it. But in saying that, I know I have it a lot easier than others do… so there’s no need for anyone to send any toxic positivity my way. I can do that by myself.

I know I shouldn’t care about Josh Doo-gar or Josh Duggar… I know caring about them only adds to their “importance” in American pop culture. But I’m bored and, if I’m honest, a bit depressed. I figure watching videos about fundies is better than getting loaded or mingling with people who might pass along COVID-19 germs. In another month, I’ll get my second shot and maybe… just maybe… we can do something fun and/or interesting before I do something drastic. Right now, the high point of my day will probably be getting the new power supply for our lawnmower. Tragic.

Edited to add: New parts arrived and I switched them out with the old ones. I’m still getting the dreaded flashing blue light, which means there’s a fault loop signal issue on the robot mower. But I am not getting a message that there’s an issue on the display, and I notice the mower is now charging. Since it’s been plugged in for two weeks now, I would have expected there to be no need for charging, if the power supply wasn’t the issue. So I’ll let it charge for awhile and try again. Hopefully, that will do the trick and Bill won’t have to re-lay the boundary wire again in two fucking weeks when he’s home.

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