Evening meal

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The beauty of man, of woman; child
Each is perfect and of perfect form
Each delightful to the soul, the mind, the heart
The strong enduring curves of women, the hard and graceful lines of men,
the determination of childhood, reaching toward man and woman with arms outstretched.
They are my kindred, my kin, my sisters, brothers, sons and daughters.
I love each: the tanned skin of my female friend as she lies sprawled in the shade, slick with sweat; the white emerging confidence of a man I know; the blond-headed children running dappled through the woods.
It is impossible to enjoy masculine, feminine, parenthood, until you have seen the perfection of each person. Each is wondrous, each kind wondrous. Knowing this makes the self wondrous. I, too, am part of this gathering, brave and full of admiration. I have nothing to hide, nothing to prove. I am none, all, and more myself than ever.

I dace barefoot with this assembled tribe in a trampled-down clearing in the forest, sun sinking, disappearing. The day is night, we are night, swaying like darkness now, trees looming overhead and summer heat lingering in the grasses. Children, men and women, we dance and dance, fueled by the flesh of the animal we have consumed together.IMG_3886

Fit to be useful

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Natural Born Heroes by Christopher McDougall is one-part tale of how a ragtag band of Greeks and British misfits kidnapped a German general in WWII, and one-part manifesto on the health benefits of moving naturally and fueling your body on fat. Hero in this case means one thing: “be fit to be useful,” MovNat (movement naturale) founder Erwin Le Corre’s mantra. MovNat, which is increasing in popularity around the country, involves acting like a human being in a natural environment. Ideally, it re-creates scenarios like running across logs while carrying a small child.

MovNat dadMoving naturally means training your body to respond well in any given situation, and fat fueling means you can go for hours, even days, on literally nothing but your own fat stores, while keeping a clear head and light feet. Hence why that ragtag band of kidnappers could haul the Nazi General around in seemingly impossible conditions.

Your body stores about 2,000 calories from sugar and roughly 140,000 (give or take) from fat — and burning sugar always comes first, until the crash that gives you tunnel vision and makes you prone to injury. I experienced sugar burnout during a recent Iceland hike, when, coming down the trail at my usual quick-paced trot, trying to hurry through the boinking haze, I slid on loose gravel and sprawled, bruising my face and knee in the process.

“Skillful marketing has made carbohydrate consumption a religion among athletes,” McDougall quotes Dr. Tim Noakes, formerly the “High Priest of Carb Loading,” who for many years advised everyone to load up on carbs to fuel their athletic endeavors, until he abruptly switched his stance after digging into the research. “The same foods Noakes had assured people would make them stronger and faster were a slow-acting poison making them fatter, weaker, and more prone to heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, and dementia.” Noakes went on to co-write The Real Meal Revolution and write Waterlogged, a treatise against energy drinks and water poisoning.

McDougall notes that throughout history, people, and particularly warriors, have eaten a lot of meat, the fattier the better. But in 1977, the US started pushing grain consumption as the base of a healthy diet. “Soon after, America’s obesity rate shot up and hasn’t stopped.” The switch was supposed to prevent heart disease, but instead, medical procedures for heart disease quintupled from 1.2 million to 5.4 million annually.

A big part of the obesity epidemic is related to insulin. “Simple carbs are absorbed too fast; your cells get their fill and the rest is turned into fat before your insulin has a chance to dissipate. The still-active insulin in your bloodstream goes looking for more sugar, which makes you feel hungry. So, you chow another donut, starting the whole process all over again. Enough years of this abuse and your cells can become insulin resistant.” However, if you fuel your body with good fat instead, you provide yourself with slow-burning energy.

For the ARICCHWANDWI

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It was during an attempt to make a self-deprecating joke to a friend that I realized there is no single word for Adults Raised In Cloistered Christian Homeschooling Who Are Now Dealing With It, so I coined the unwieldy ARICCHWANDWI. Somewhere between that moment and now, I seriously considered going back to school in order to specialize in therapy for the members of this tribe, until I remembered something crucial: the ARICCHWANDWI are penny-pinchers; they do not pay for therapy. So here is a generalized stab at it for free.

Dear fellow members of the ARICCHWANDWI,

You are smart. You know this about yourself because it’s been your strongest sense of your worth in the world. You are strong; you physically are capable of doing things that people admire, whether that is raising children or cranking tools or running marathons, and this also makes you feel good about yourself. Your capability, overall, is something you pride yourself on.

You may have even have gone so far as to say — as I have heard more than one of you say — that you’d never done anything you weren’t good at. I laugh to myself at this, because I know it is hubris. But I also know you don’t really feel so confident, that this is only true because there are many things you’ve never tried on purpose. You are afraid of not being good at things, and failing is not something you do. So, sometimes, you hang back, waiting for the perfect situation, some safe, failure-proof scenario that mysteriously never arrives.

Because for a long time, you learned that perfection meant not doing the wrong thing, and that in most practical ways, love and admiration was contingent on being “perfect” in this way. Growing up, you learned all about unconditional love, about agape. But no one really offered it to you consistently; you were spoon-fed fear and judgment from the cradle, and the angry sky-god who would smite the wicked, or really anyone who had a little, tiny impure thought about something, was modeled for you in the immediate correction you received anytime you were too messy, too loud, too slow, too absorbed in something else, too this, too that. Too you. You were not supposed to be you, exactly; you were supposed to be a neater, tidier, more manageable version of you. And this was called love; this was called modeling the love of God. You were told: God loves you even though you are worth nothing, even though you’re a filthy rotten dirty little sinner going straight to hell unless you say the right things, believe the right things and never, ever stray from the path of righteousness. So is it any wonder that you still, on some level, believe you are worth nothing unless you manage to be perfect?

But that is no longer true. You are safe being imperfect. You can still be a good human being if you fail at something. I’m sure you know this intellectually by now, but perfection has nothing to do with avoiding the wrong thing. Emotionally, however, it’s hard to restrain your sense of impending doom or guilt when something isn’t going right.

There is something you should know: you can have made mistakes and still be careful with yourself, discerning. And you never have to rush your process. You are right to wait if you’re not comfortable with something — particularly in romantic relationships, which are complicated to navigate when you go from courtship-only to dating-in-the-modern-world. There is nothing wrong with that, or with you. Above all, be compassionate with yourself and with those around you — and the most compassionate thing, in many cases, is being as honest as you can be about who you are and what you want. You might not know, and that’s OK too. It’s OK to take the time to figure that stuff out.

As part of your process, come to terms with your own attractiveness — in your clothing choices, in the way you look at people, in the way you move in your own skin, to eat and drink and play; in the way you think of yourself. Not in an arrogant way, but in a factual way. There is nothing wrong with being attractive. It’s nice to be attractive. It’s nice to be able to look at someone across a room and know they think you’re attractive. You do not have to apologize or feel guilty about this. And you are not only attractive if you smile, or say the right thing, or prove you’re smart. You are attractive, period.

You are worth something, period. I love you all.

Doug Wilson on the Confederate Flag

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I don’t read Doug Wilson’s blog much; I have better things to do with my time than subject myself to long-winded prose whose tagline should really be “theology that chews its own leg off.” Unsurprisingly, Wilson has spent a lot of energy recently not-exactly-explaining why the Confederate flag is fine-just-fine, the foremost reason of which is abortion. Wilson pulls out this argument quite frequently; it’s so obviously a logical fallacy (thing A isn’t bad, because thing B is also bad) that I’m going to call it distractio ad abortus: failing to address the actual issue and instead launching into a diatribe about the evils of something else, tied in tangentially with raw outrage and statements like “I think this is relevant, because it makes sense in my head, so I’m not actually changing the subject at all.” The American flag symbolizes abortion in Doug Wilson’s mind; therefore it’s Ok the have the Confederate flag flying high after the mass murder of blacks in the south. Makes perfect sense.

Another reason the flag is ok: drugs. Wilson says, “If you insist on having a national conversation about these iniquitous shootings, then why don’t we start by talking about psychotropic drugs? Take all the mass shootings perpetrated in the last twenty years by young males under the age of twenty five. What percentage of the shooters were on prescribed psychotropic drugs? What drugs? How long had they been on them? And, most importantly, why do you not have immediate access to the answers to these questions? I will tell you why — it is because the industry that promotes better living through chemistry is a politically protected class, in a way that gun manufacturers and Sons of Confederate Veterans are not.”

Actually, Wilson brings up a great question here. Why aren’t the medical records of individuals accessible with a few Google clicks? I’m personally wondering what prescribed drugs Wilson himself is taking: Viagra? Lipitor? Afrezza, or some other type of prescription insulin? Given his symptoms (advancing age, a large distribution of abdominal fat, perpetual crankiness, worsening logic, obsession with male prowess and “feasting,” the insistence that the American flag symbolizes something that has existed since there have been recorded pregnancies) there’s a good chance he’s on something — or should be. HIPAA be damned; we should all know exactly how sick the people who pretend to be medical experts are.

So, Wilson, what drugs are you on? How long have you been on them? And why haven’t we seen your medical records yet? By your own logic, you’re hiding behind the class protections of “better living through chemistry” by not publishing the last 20 years of your records for all your detractors to analyze. I mean, there’s no way we’ll know for sure that you’re on, say, Zoloft, unless you prove otherwise. And clearly, if you’re on Zoloft, you’re a danger to society.

Yet a third reason the Confederate flag is cool: Lynyrd Skynyrd and Kayne West. Again, Wilson actually is onto something. But why stop there? If we can find celebrity-based reasons to keep a symbol of an institution that was so convinced it had the right to own other human beings that it decided to secede from the Union and sacrifice the lives of its sons and daughters in the process (and please, don’t tell me that the Confederacy was about state’s rights — the only state’s right that was a die-hard issue to the Confederate states was slavery), then we can surely do the same with the swastika. The symbol has appeared throughout history, on Roman tunics, in Sanskrit manuscripts; Rudyard Kipling had it on the cover and first page of his early published works, a nod to the Hindu symbol of good luck.

Called svastika in Sanskrit and manji in Japanese, this is a symbol of auspiciousness in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism.

Called svastika in Sanskrit and manji in Japanese, this is a symbol of auspiciousness in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism.

Doug wilson betty boop

Just proof that I’m funny because I don’t take this subject seriously at all. But isn’t she cute? Doesn’t she match the color scheme?

Before the 1930s, Oklahoma's 45th Infantry Division's symbol was a red square with a yellow swastika, a tribute to the large Native American population in the southwestern United States.

Before the 1930s, Oklahoma’s 45th Infantry Division symbol was a red square with a yellow swastika, a tribute to the large Native American population in the southwestern United States.

Or maybe not. I was in Berlin earlier this month, and was struck, not for the first time, at how openly Germany acknowledges the atrocities committed under the Third Reich. Just within Berlin, you can go to any number of sites documenting how, when, why and who was killed under the Nazi regime. This openness is not shared by former slave plantation tours in the South; there is no museum in the US, that I know of, documenting the horrors of Native American genocide at the hands of European invaders and the US Army. There is no museum — again, that I know of, and I’ve traveled this country extensively — showcasing the death letters of young Native Americans or young slaves, showing photographs of families torn apart and killed, mapping the sites where killings took place. And maybe herein lies the difference between the swastika and the Confederate flag: the United States, unlike Germany, is unwilling to fully admit when it does anything wrong to people as a class. IMG_2677

My Own Private Iceland

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Inwards from Route 1 at the town of Hveragerði, a mere 40 minutes from Reykjavik, I find the trailhead to the area’s famous hot river. The sign says Reykjadalur: 3 kilometers. Not so far, I can easily go up and back and continue along on my day of Iceland sightseeing. A steaming landscape of bubbling mud and green algae, pleated hills of cooled lava rock and the thick-peated moss cushioning it, ending in this hot river, or so I’ve heard. I have my swimsuit on under my clothes, but as I walk up the trail I see that nobody else appears to have come for the bathing. Instead, there are Europeans in thick hiking boots and rain coats, some with hiking poles for good measure. It’s steep, steeper than I was expecting — this is by far the longest 3 kilometers I’ve ever walked. I’m starting to wonder if the sign was accurate, or what exactly it was measuring. There are streams along the path, and I dip my fingers in every so often. Some are warm, some cold. I finally reach a river: warm, maybe 100 degrees. And not deep enough to swim in.

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But the trail continues, so I go along with it. I spy off the trail a pool of opaque pastel blue, the same color as the Blue Lagoon the tourists flock to. I know the conventional wisdom in geothermal areas: don’t leave the trail; you might melt your shoes, you could fall through the crust of the earth into a steam vent and die. But there are tracks — boot tracks have worn a thin trail down to the lagoon, and there are tire tracks too from a tractor that sits off the trail not far away. So I go gingerly, circling my destination, fingers outstretched against trickles of moisture to test the coolness of the earth. The water is cold, running cold into the blue pool, and the water coming out of the pool is the perfect temperature, hot without being too hot. I follow the white-silica streambed up higher and higher until my hands are in the edge of the pool, and then I shed my clothing and climb into the pool, just a bit, then a bit more, kneeling because I know better than to get any closer to the drop off into the earth, the unknown sinkhole with its unknown rivers of volcanic water. I dig thermal mud from the sides of the pool and coat myself in muddy black. And I sink down at the edge of the pool, looking up at the trail, watching the hikers go by, watching them stop and point at me, and I lift my foot out of the water and wave. I am probably a bad influence. Perhaps I trust my ability to spring out, nimble and sure-footed, practiced in the art of barefoot escape across otherworldly landscapes, if the pool bubbles up suddenly.Katie Botkin in Iceland

It’s around 40 degrees F and windy, but I decide that I will hike back down to the river barefoot, cross-country in my wet bathing suit, which I do, over the spongy moss and the odd loose rock, following the stream downwards. The marshes next to the river are freezing, but the river itself provides relief when my feet get too cold. I warm up in the river and then I provide myself with the task of changing out of my wet bathing suit in plain view of the trail without actually being seen, which I manage by draping myself in the odd assortment of clothing I have packed along in lieu of a towel. It’s times like this that I feel like I might, comparatively speaking, be crazy. But I’m laughing too much at myself to care. This is Iceland. You survive in Iceland by being crazy, comparatively speaking.

Sauvage, Das Paleo Restaurant

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IMG_2699 IMG_2702At the crossing of Christburger Straße and Winsstraße lives Sauvage, the world’s first paleo restaurant. I arrived 15 minutes early for my 6 pm reservation and studied the menu posted outside. I wanted it all. Wild duck rillettes, bone marrow, braised pork belly, grass-fed steak tartare, lakto-fermented veggies, raw quail egg. Yes. With bounty like this, who would ever miss bread?

Only they had bread, also. Paleo bread, made so cleverly that, if you squinted, it tasted like the real thing. “With beef fat,” said the German server, waving to the yellow pool of fat. Darn; I wanted butter. Butter is plenty paleo.

I ended up ordering several appetizers, and my favorite was the succulent quail breast (seasonal only), fine and delicious and also comical, in that it reminded me of the story of a girl I know, who, when she was five, tried quail for the first time. She thought the dead birds were adorable, so she was crying while gobbling them up. “I’m so sad!” she said. “They’re so cute! And so delicious!”

Indeed, these were also cute and delicious, as was the beef tartar. The quality of food, the spices, the exotic — altogether it was the best meal I’ve had in a long time. And I felt so good afterwards, nothing like when I stuff myself with brie or pasta.

How to: Day trip Berlin-Szczecin

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IMG_2773At this point in time, a round-trip excursion into Poland from Berlin will only put you back 29 euros, and here’s the weird part: the ticket is good for up to five people. There’s no cheaper option (that I found, anyway) for just one person, and the experience is somewhat confusing, so here’s how it works: If you haven’t already bought the ticket online here, you can go to the vending machines at a Berlin train station (such as the Hauptbahnhof) and navigate (in English) through the options for buying a second-class round trip ticket to port city Szczecin. Some of the options will be for around 150 euros, which I’m assuming is what they would tell you it cost if you booked using a real live DB agent at the train station. Ignore these options and just pick the ones (outgoing and return) that say 29 euros. Then, mysteriously, you will be shuttled to a screen that says Brandenburg-Berlin-Ticket, total: 29 euros. This is not a mistake. It’s just the name of the least-expensive ticket you can get to Szczecin. The ticket is also good for certain regional travel, and includes the S-Bahn in Berlin and Brandenburg. So, great! Now you have your ticket and you’re trying to read the German, and you realize you have no clue where this train to Szczecin is or when it leaves, because the ticket lists no destination and no platform. First of all: the ticket is good all day, and there are multiple departures. So you can do a couple of things: you can look for trains going to Angermünde (where you’ll switch) or direct to Szczecin (at certain times of day). The easiest thing is to march up to the DB information desk and ask when the next train is to Szczecin, and they’ll give you a print-out with the listed connection, if applicable. I left at 9:33 am on a weekday for Angermünde from the Hauptbahnhof, and in Angermünde followed the flux of Germans wheeling small suitcases to the rail cars bound for Szczecin. Note: you need your passport for the crossing into Poland; officials will come around on the train and check to make sure you’re legal. I arrived at my destination around 11:30 am and immediately studied the timetables back to Berlin. There was a direct train at 14:37, and another at 19:52, which was the last train direct or otherwise. Make sure you check; trains are subject to changeIMG_2607IMG_2592 IMG_2587

Then it was dIMG_2627own to business: wandering around and eating. Wandering around was good for somewhat random photography and getting a feel for Poland. Eating out was better: eating in Poland is substantially cheaper than in Germany — three reasonably substantial appetizers (self-styled “fine” chicken liver with apples, fried zucchini and feta-spinich perogis) were about 14 euro and constituted lunch and dinner. Most or all restaurants in Szczecin accept euros, though the prices are listed in zloty, the local currency. Having slept four hours in 40 or so, by the time I’d toured the old city and stuffed my face, I was exhausted and ready to head back to Berlin.

Mauerpark on a Sunday

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Mauerpark Berlin



You can tell a lot about a city by the way people use its parks. Not the tourist parks, but the parks locals use to the hilt, the ones with flea markets and music and playgrounds — in this case, a crazy wooden structure with ropes to balance on. Sundays in the summertime, Berliners flock to Mauerpark. They paint, they play, they recline on the grass. They drink a lot of beer. They smooth each other’s auras. They play soccer with empty plastic bottles and, when the sun goes down, they dance to boom boxes pulsing fast German techno.

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Moving my DNA

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It’s pretty great when you find some scientific, health-related justification for doing what you’re already doing, which is “whatever the crap I want,” as I once scribbled on a doctor’s form asking what I did for exercise. And that’s basically how I’m interpreting Katy Bowman’s book, Move Your DNA.

My approach to health and lifestyle for the past five years or so has been: Gyms suck, metrics suck, fat-pinching sucks, long bike rides are bad for you, triathlons are for nerds with wetsuit fetishes, and if you’re obsessed with anything you probably are going to wind up injured. However, being able to do whatever you want whenever you want is awesome. According to Bowman, the key to this is loading your body in different and optimal ways instead of using limited movements and loads. “Cycling athletes tend to have lower bone density than running athletes. Why? Because sitting on a bike creates less of a vertical load than carrying your weight on your legs does.”

Human illness is not so much a state of mind as it is a statement about the way we’ve been living: “in most cases, our physiology is responding exactly as it should to the types of movement we have been inputting. Instead of thinking of ourselves as broken, we should recognize our lack of health as a sign of a broken (mechanical) environment,” says Bowman. Sitting is a huge part of this: “Most of us have assumed the sitting position through most of our lives, and in turn our bodies have adapted to sitting.”

Bowman suggests an easy way to fix this: “There isn’t any requirement that you spend your sitting time in a chair. It takes no additional time to sit on the floor instead of on your couch. What do you gain from sitting on the floor? First there are the numerous ways you can position your joints — each one creating a unique load.”

Additional suggestions: walk more, wear minimalist shoes or go barefoot, make your life less noisy by ditching the iPod, relax your jaw to prevent TMJ, stretch, use a flatter pillow, sleep on different surfaces. And move more. Move, in different ways, as much as possible.

All of Bowman’s suggestions made me feel a bit smug since I already do most of them. It is probably no surprise that I will never be a world-class athlete and my cardio endurance is lacking. I don’t work out, I play. I snowboard, rock climb, walk around town, roadbike around town, mountain bike, hike, backpack, do yoga, do acro-yoga, practice gymnastics in the grass, mess around on playgrounds, slackline, play ultimate Frisbee, swim in the lake, dance, carry small children around. I do none of these things exceptionally, and some really terribly. However, one thing is consistent: I am drawn to whatever will connect me most directly with my surroundings and provide the most natural range of movement. Granted, this tends to be easier if you’re in a place like Sandpoint where all the social events are active. But I also do socially unacceptable things like go home, squat on the front stoop and eat blood-dripping steak with my bare hands. If you’ve never done this, try it. It feels awesome. Also, it keeps the neighbors from borrowing your hedge-trimmers.

One of the things Bowman hones in on is feet. She points out that the shoes you wear determine the posture of your entire body, and over time, this posture changes your body. Now, given all the above things that I do, particularly my lifelong attraction to dance, alignment has rarely been an issue for me. So I was shocked to discover that, like many people in the modern world, my femurs are twisted slightly inwards as evidenced by the fact that the backs of my knees point outwards — the result of a lifetime of wearing shoes with heels, even slight heels. So now, for example, as on my way to Europe a couple of days ago, I work out standing still in line at airports by externally rotating my hips until my knees are over my straight-ahead toes. This is actually reasonably difficult to maintain.

hikingI have also started going barefoot more, and wearing totally flat shoes. This last Sunday, I went on a ten-mile hike up the side of a mountain, through frigid streams and over sand and gravel. I did at least a couple of miles barefoot (bonus: this keeps your shoes dry when forging the aforementioned streams. Other bonus: you tend to look ridiculous, particularly if you’re already dressed like a mom from the 1990s, which encourages humility). The rest of the time I wore minimalist shoes. As Bowman points out, you need to work up to this. Your body has to adjust if it’s used to padding, especially on concrete, so easing into things is a must.

In sum, she says: “It’s clear that there is a major mismatch between the loads we make in modern life (sleeping in our beds, driving our cars to work, sitting in front of our computers, and vigorously exercising for sixty minutes a day, then sitting in front of the TV, repeat, repeat, repeat) and the loads we would have made (searching for, gathering and preparing our own food, walking for water and building materials, carrying our home and children in our arms, repeat, repeat, repeat) were we living more in nature. No, this is not the point where I tell you that the solution is getting rid of all your clothes and moving into a cave. The solution will be much simpler than you realize… even tiny adjustments to your loading habits can be worth millions in unspent healthcare dollars and bring about tremendous relief from your load-induced ailments.

“If you want your health to change, you must change the way you move, and the way you think about movement.”

Why Josh Duggar won’t say “victim.”

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Very consistently in the apologies that people like Josh Duggar and Doug Phillips offered the public, there was no mention whatsoever of the victims of their crimes. Duggar refers to “those affected by my actions,” as if he were discussing a game of Monopoly. This is not an accident. The word “victim” is rarely or never used in these circles, except in the phrase “play the victim.” It’s easy to play the victim; actually being one is next to impossible. Victimization, according to this branch of patriarchy, means one party abdicating responsibility in whatever happened. Everyone is a sinner, so in any given sin involving two people, both parties are probably partially at fault. Homeschool guru Bill Gothard’s message to sexual abuse victims suggests they may be partly to blame due to immodest dress or “being out from the protection of our parents.”

Patriarchy apologist Doug Wilson has said similar things publicly on numerous occasions, so it’s no surprise that, when dealing with his and three parallel churches that were somehow dragged into my divorce dynamics several years ago, any protestation of injustice on my part was met with a virtual roll of the eyes. I was being hacked and followed and my home was physically breached, to put it mildly. How and by whom was not completely clear. The churches had many of the details, and were passing judgement based on “data” thereby collected. Yet every time I insisted something weird was up, that this was not OK, I was met with some version of: “That’s not important. You need to focus on your sins. If you bring up anyone else’s, it means you’re passing the buck, being unrepentant and acting bitter. And we just can’t have that.”

Now, in divorce as in many other areas of life, I do think it’s important to be able to self-examine. However, there’s a huge difference between “think about how you affected things” and the strict refusal to say anything but that. It was keenly disappointing to realize that men I had previously thought wise were actually espousing the logic of three-year-olds too belligerent to see beyond their own demands and too short-sighted to understand a view higher than two feet up.

Because there are times when “think about how you affected things” should never, ever be said — molestation being one of them. The victim has likely asked herself (or himself) this a few thousand times and come up with some tantalizing alternate realities, but no real answers. It happened. There is no way to change that. Blaming the victim in any way (and “think about how you affected things” falls into that category) is counterproductive and, frankly, disgusting.

So is claiming victims need to get over stuff, forgive whoever wronged them and slap a smile on their faces. One of the most bizarre occurrences of my post-divorce fiasco was sitting in Jim Wilson’s living room crying and being told this meant I might not be a Christian, because if I were a Christian, I would be “in the joy of the Lord.” I protested: I was scared. I was upset. Jesus wept. But no: apparently, brief sadness (coupled with repentance) should be followed by “joy,” and a few weeks was well beyond the allotted time Christians were allowed to be upset, no matter how many unanswered questions they had about their situation.

This is why I always find the plastered-on smiles of people like the Duggars a bit suspicious, and all the more so when they’ve been hurt. I sincerely doubt the Duggar girls got to process what happened to them in any real way before they were told to forgive, smile and carry on. “The joy of the Lord” at all costs.

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