Sunday, January 13, 2019

ATI's Many, Many Programs

And while we're at it, a quick and dirty overview of ATI's programs for kids enrolled in Gothard's homeschool curriculum.  ATI was less a curriculum and more of a collection of Gothard's hobbies and his staff's passions. Most of these programs required cross-country travel and were not inexpensive, especially for large [Quiverfull] families.

Please let me know what programs I've missed! Again, this will probably show up better if you click on the image itself.

How many did you participate in? And which ones did you wish you could do, but it never worked out?

Saturday, January 12, 2019

IBLP Locations

While we're at it, here is my attempt to represent the geographical spread of IBLP. At its peak, the Institute had staffed centers at these locations. Most of these were active in the early 2000's.

Blue: international centers.
Yellow: never quite got off the ground.
Green: residential campuses that Gothard staffed primarily with children and young adults from his homeschool program. (Some paid for the privilege; some worked for free; others received minimum wage.)
Gray: miscellaneous buildings. Some were used to re-program youth sent by the courts or by their parents.
Red: offices of IBLP's correspondence law school, though it was partly run from other locations.

(Clicking on the image should make it clearer.)

Friday, January 11, 2019

What Was That Cult Called?

After snacking on after-school cookies and milk, my teenage daughter casually asked, "What was the cult called?"

"The cult we were in? Um, it had a lot of names. Why?"

"'Cause I mentioned in history class that my parents were in a cult, and some people wanted to know which one, and I didn't know its name."

"Ooohhh...yeah, it's confusing."

So I grabbed a marker from the board (I grew up with a chalkboard in the kitchen and my kids will think it's normal to have a markerboard--I mean, I ask you, where else do you post chore lists, make menus, work math problems, or diagram sentences for the edification of all?) and began sketching and explaining until I ran out of space, my daughter had a decent understanding of the IBLP structures we had been part of, and I had drawn something like a new constellation.

My daughter snapped a photo of my sloppy writing and disappeared to her computer to turn it into a proper diagram. I tweaked and added to it and present it here, gratefully, as her work.

As IBLP ages and Gothard's potency is diluted, I think it is important not to lose the scent of his ideas as they reach corners that would otherwise seem safe from his noxious influence. When prisoners are given "character booklets" from Strata Leadership, for example, they have no way of distinguishing which concepts were actually the grooming techniques of a sexual predator and con man.

I'm proud that Gothard's name is not familiar to my children. But I trust they'll be able to spot his poisonous manipulation and authoritarianism anywhere.

NOTE: I've revised the image to include more programs. (1/16/19)

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

For Whose Pleasure?

You are doubtless aware that Facebook has this sometimes harrowing feature that dredges up historical posts so that while I'm waking up and sipping my coffee I can also wander through a kind of digital wrack line (TIL that is the official name for the debris deposited on the beach at high tide--you're welcome!) and hunt for forgotten treasures while stepping over the decaying fish.

This morning's wrack line included a treasure of a TED talk by Sofia Jawed-Wessel called The Lies We Tell Pregnant Women. The whole piece is wonderful, but this was the paragraph that arrested my attention a couple of years ago:

Every time a woman has sex simply because it feels good, it is revolutionary. She is revolutionary. She is pushing back against society's insistence that she exist simply for men's pleasure or for reproduction. A woman who prioritizes her sexual needs is scary, because a woman who prioritizes her sexual needs prioritizes herself.
--Sofia Jawed-Wessel 

That quote alone deserves to be its own post. So feel free to stop reading here.


But when those words resurfaced on my pre-dawn Facebook, a weird phrase also danced out of a dusty corner of my groggy brain:
“For His Pleasure”
His? Huh?

I couldn’t quite recall where I first encountered these words, but they somehow seemed so familiar.

Thinking it may have been a book title, I consulted the omniscient google, which offered both an erotica series AND a book from Moody Press. Naturally. 😂

Of course! All things were made for God’s pleasure. He took pleasure in those who fear Him. Without faith it was impossible to please Him. He was pleased with a broken, contrite heart. He worked in me "to will and to do His good pleasure".

I never questioned it in my decades as a Christian. My body was His temple. I was His blood-bathed bride. (Anyone else feel like they need a shower yet?) And I was told He had opinions on what I should eat, what I should wear, how long I should sleep, in short, what I did with every body part, especially my vagina. 

And while I spent hours and hours pondering how I could please Jesus, my parents--indeed, all my authorities--as a happy and obedient handmaid (a word I applied to myself decades before I'd heard of Margaret Atwood), from my teens on I spent no time plotting how to experience pleasure myself.

Our own pleasure was expressly forbidden, in fact, and twice on Sundays!
  • "He who loves pleasure will become a poor man"
  • "...enjoy pleasure...this also is vanity"
  • "Call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD...not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words"
  • "Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it unto me according to thy word"
  • "Not my will, but thine"
  • "She that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth."
  • "lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God"
  • "Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton"
  • "the pleasures of sin for a season"

This phrase is probably part of why I lean so hard into my own pleasure now. A compelling reason to prioritize actions--like yoga, like dancing, like mindful eating--that help me be more present and content in my physical body. And I definitely lean into my sensual pleasure—whether I want orgasms, a warm touch, or just a soft, cuddly sweater hugging my shoulders.

Prioritize your own pleasure this week, friends!