Archive for October, 2011

On some occasions I find myself typing in the url for Stacy McDonald’s response to Hillary McFarland’s Quivering Daughters. It may not be on of the wisest decisions I’ve ever made, but, nevertheless, it provides food for thought at the very least. I was reading Christy Stouffer’s review of the book today, and one segment in particular jumped out at me:

In one of her diary entries, Hillary says, “I wish I was perfect.” She wishes their bills were paid, that her dad’s back didn’t hurt, and finally, she wishes that she were in heaven. These are the writings from her journal at age 12. But, I couldn’t help thinking, isn’t this life? I could not fathom how daily trials could be considered abuse.

Back pain, bills needing to be paid… yes, these can be considered “daily trials” as Christy puts it. Yes, they are a part of life. That said, Hillary was 12. She was still a child. This is one of the hypocrisies of the fundamentalist movement. Children are mature enough to be faced with certain “daily trials,” but they are not mature enough to make their own decisions.

According to Quivering Daughters, although the intentions of patriarchal parents are noble, and although they do the best they can, in the end, they damage their children (specifically their daughters) and send them into a dark pit of depression, hopelessness, and despair that leads to suicidal tendencies.

Why is it okay for a 12 year old to worry about whether her parents can pay the bills, but not okay for an 18 year old to decide if she wants to go out with someone before finding out if Daddy says yes? Why is it okay for a 12 year old to feel stressed to the point where she wishes she was in heaven (let’s face it – wishing you were in heaven was the fundamentalist equivalent of being suicidal… only it was painted in a “pretty” light to make it more acceptable), but if she wanted to go outside the home to work (in most cases, admittedly not all), she couldn’t, because it’s not her highest calling?

Our family has homeschooled for over 15 years. Throughout the years, we have known many homeschooling families and are still in contact with them. We see strong families who thrive. The oppressive environment that Hillary paints in Quivering Daughters is foreign to the families I know.

I come from one of those “strong families who thrive.” I was one of those girls who talked the talk and “walked the walk.” I argued vociferously on subjects such as women wearing headcoverings and the practice of courtship as opposed to dating (as if I had ever dated and knew from personal experience!). As far as those around me knew, I wanted to write my own curriculum and raise and homeschool my children.


Fundamentalism is all about appearances. Whatever happens behind closed doors stays there… as long as the face you present to the world looks good, you can pretend it is good, and there are no problems. We’re all masters of the mask; we’re all terrified of seeming weak. Besides, it’s okay to wish you were in heaven.

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We are the same people, wiser than before


Growing up, children relate to their same sex. They are drawn to what they know, because they seek comfort in the familiar, even when the curiosity and mystery of the unknown pulls them. Whether intentional or not, boys and girls often choose role models of their own kind, be it the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, or Henry V and Jeanne d’Arc, or Arthur and Guinevere.


Spending my childhood in a fundamentalist Protestant Christian home, however, I was faced with a God that was solely masculine. It was hard to grasp the concept that there were things that boys could do, that girls could not. My mother tried to smooth the rough edges for me, encouraging me to be what I wanted… insofar as the ultimate goal was wife, mother, and homemaker.


I wondered as to why men were special… why women were best suited to be supportive. I looked at figures such as Elizabeth I, and wondered why she was such a renowned queen, or even Deborah, in the book of Judges. The only reply I received was that women were used when the men failed, to shame them, because there was no other choice. My secret dreams of being strong like Princess Leia never revealed themselves as more than fantasy stories. Still… I wondered.


When I was about 14, my entire family converted from Protestantism to Eastern Orthodoxy. At last, I was given female role models whom I could go to, pray to, and who I thought might understand me more as a woman, than a masculine God and his Son would. In the Theotokos I found a mother figure, one whom I believed to not judge, but rather accept, listen, and let me pour my soul out to… and so I did. When I picked a patron saint, I picked one out of a miscommunication, and to whom I had no real ties. I wanted St. Katherine, the Great-Martyr… a woman who died at 18, but out-debated many older, and male, philosophers. I wanted to be like her.


Truth be told, I spent more time in prayer to the Virgin Mary than I did to God or Jesus. I would spend time crying to her, asking for guidance, and pouring my heart out. Whenever I looked upon her icons, I firmly believed she was smiling at me. It did me good.


Still, there was something unsettling in my mind. There were still clear lines defining what a woman could do, as opposed to a man. I felt guilty going into church, for wanting things that I shouldn’t want, for not being content to stay at home, to be a loving wife. I felt guilty for wanting something more. I wanted to go out and be me, to make the world more beautiful, to not constantly worry over whether I was sinning.


I began questioning. Instead of praying, I found myself fleeing to what parks I could find in the sunny metropolis of Los Angeles. I spent time at the beach, just listening to the waves lapping at the shore, the breeze rustling past, and the call of the gulls. I found respite taking long walks through the rolling bumps that passed for hills at a park, watching the long grass bend in the wind. I questioned why I believed what I believed. For the first time, the girl who’s gift was faith, started to find herself without it.


I slowly left my religion, and for many months, I tried to free myself completely from its, and any other religion’s, grasp. I felt as though I had jumped off a cliff, and didn’t know what lay below, or even how far up I was. Somewhere, however, I began re-reading the myths that I had loved so much growing up. I remembered the Celtic fairy-tales, the Nordic myths, and wondered what was really driving Morgana le Fay.


From thence, I slowly began reading books on paganism, Wicca, earth-based religions, the Wheel of the Year, and magic…


The moon, the stars, the forests, the mountains… the music and the dance… they are my temple, they are where I feel at peace more than anywhere else. Fleeing to the world of nature was something I did when highly emotional from a very young age… now… it is second nature.


Learning the tales and beliefs of those who recognize the Divine Feminine in the world just as much as the Divine Masculine provides me with a sense of feeling at home. I am proud to be a woman… I am equal to men… there is a speck of the divine in me… and I found a world rich with symbolism that I could relate to and find meaning in… not a religion that forced me to fit into a box, nor a religion that I made up as I went along, but rather a spirituality that was a reflection of who I really am.


I sing to the Goddess within my heart

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