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So the whole world, relatively speaking, seems to be exploding with outrage over the recent suit against Doug Phillips. And for good reason. The man who earned a lavish living preaching that men should keep their daughters close in order to keep them safe was discovered to have been sexually preying on a young woman he’d invited into his home and called “part of the family.” Regardless of how much “consent” she articulated at any given time, he was still preying on her by virtue of the fact that he was in a position of authority over her, and he had in many ways adopted her as a kind of spiritual daughter. Despite the fact that Doug Phillips said he believed that females should serve the visions of their fathers with a meek and submissive spirit until they were married, he seems to have had no qualms about taking over this authority and providing a teenage girl with his own vision for her — apparently an extremely creepy and perverted vision, even if you only believe his side of the story.

I’ve always found it a little weird that the quiverfull/patriarchy crowd has been so into women serving their fathers in the confines of their own homes. The idea is that by doing this, they don’t go out into the cut-throat world of corporate politics and serve anyone unworthy (cough, Doug Phillips, cough). The idea is that they’re protected from nasty male bosses (cough, Doug Phillips, cough), and work for the glorious rewards of familial love and duty, rather than merely being “wage slaves.” Sidenote: this is also a great way of justifying not paying the women in your employ, whether they are your real daughters or merely young women of your congregation.

Besides the obvious abuses made possible by such an arrangement, the result of this is, there are a lot of women in this culture supporting some fairly mediocre family business ventures. Some appear to spend the majority of their time blogging about how imperative staying at home is to their faith. Some take pride in the endeavors of their fathers and brothers, which is probably how it should be on some level, but it also means that said brothers and fathers don’t get much of a reality check in the event that their business practices or ideas are actually terrible. Anything with the slightest sheen of testosterone is labeled as “manly,” and therefore a worthy masculine pursuit, no matter how flimsy the result is.

About ten minutes ago, I just finished creating a website for Collin Beggs Design Build Timber Framing, which — the company, not so much the actual website — puts everything I’ve ever seen coming out of the patriarchal culture to shame. I’ve been learning about the company for over a year, and from the first moment I walked into one of Collin Beggs’ houses, I was awestruck at how real it was, how solid and rich and long-lasting. The Port Orford Cedar, hand-planed into silky smoothness, wafted in the quiet air; the ceiling curved upwards like a cathedral cut from living wood. I’d heard a lot of talk about 200-year plans, laid out on a spreadsheet grid, but I’d never actually seen anyone who expertly built things to last that long. I’d heard a lot of talk about starting your own business, learning a craft, and not needing college for something like construction, but I’d never actually met anyone who pulled all of that off better than the masters-level architects I knew. I’d heard a lot of discourse on classical education, but I’d never seen a twenty-first century home built the way homes were built in the middle ages. And naturally, had I never left my own house, I would never have known about this company, let alone collaborated with it.

What I didn’t put into the website is that the person behind the business is such a purist that, for better or worse, he has refused to compromise on just about everything, without regard to money or winning people over. At one point, he had some clients who brought him a photo of a hammer beam truss, which is popular in commercial timber framing, although it is rarely used in a historically accurate way. Collin looked at the photo, crumpled it up, and threw it in the trash. “Let’s talk about something real,” he said.

Today I remembered that in relation to all the revelations of Doug Phillips’ charismatic, money-making, two-faced ways. Let’s always talk about something real. It seems more healthy than dwelling overmuch on the unreal.

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