I’m still pursuing the 52 Books in 52 Weeks challenge, but the last few books haven’t inspired me to write lengthy reflections, so this is more along the lines of an update.
Books: While I Was Gone, by Sue Miller, and Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement, by Kathryn Joyce.
Grade: B for both
I seem to be on a run of pretty-good-but-didn’t-knock-my-socks-off books. I picked up the Sue Miller novel because it was on sale at my local library and I remembered liking The Good Mother when I read it, years and years ago. (I didn’t realize until after I got it home that it was an Oprah selection–I tend to avoid these out of sheer middle-brow snobbery.) Sue Miller does marital unhappiness with absolute brilliance. Contentment, not nearly as vivid.
Quiverfull had its points. I’m not going to “review” it in part because it isn’t the book I would have written on the same topic, and I personally loathe it when a reviewer criticizes one of my books for that reason. (It happens fairly frequently.) It’s very much a book of outside reporting: I would have liked to see much more analysis of the phenomenon that Joyce chronicles, but she takes the position of an observer rather than a cultural critic. Any outsider account is bound to appear un-nuanced to those who have more of an insider point of view, and that’s certainly true of this book. Joyce does point out clearly the extent to which many home school venues and circles have been taken over by a movement with a very specific theological agenda–one which has nothing to do with good educational practice–and that’s a useful thing for home schoolers, particularly new ones, to be aware of.
I read the Quiverfull book (I think you mentioned in on your Twitter feed a few weeks back) and got angry, then would remember grace, then read some more, get angry, then remember grace. Tough book to read without feeling something.
I thought it was a worthy read. I think parents, especially homeschooling parents should know what’s going on with this. I agree with the author’s speculation that a large part of the folks involved aren’t really sure what the quiverfull movement really is all about, but it fills some need we humans have to follow (all we like sheep . . .).
I appreciate that you are sharing the books you read, as I like to know what others are thinking about and ruminating on. Have a great rest of your vacation!
“Joyce does point out clearly the extent to which many home school venues and circles have been taken over by a movement with a very specific theological agendaâ€“one which has nothing to do with good educational practiceâ€“and thatâ€™s a useful thing for home schoolers, particularly new ones, to be aware of.”
Thank you for this! When you mentioned that you planned to read this, I did a bit of research, and it helped clarify quite a few things in my mind. First, it helped to separate the quiverfull movement from the more general movement to simply value children more. It also put a name on the (traditional? dominant? stereotypical?) homeschooling culture that I’ve experienced, and convinced me that I don’t fit that culture, nor do I have to in order to be a homeschooler.
I’m so glad that you’ve legitimized a different “brand” of homeschooling. I know you’ve paid a price; I’ve seen that the Quiverfull types can be critical of you. It’s difficult enought to go against the flow of American culture by homeschooling, and it’s even more difficult when you must go against the flow of the homeschool culture as well. I appreciate that you’ve blazed this trail for many of us. It makes our jobs much easier.
Being a reformed Baptist myself, I actually despise how certian “ministries” are making reformed believers look like crazy nut cases and using the homeschool movement to promote their agenda. We were at one time involved with a certain ministry and saw first hand how unbalanced they were in their thinking. My husband and I tend to follow a more balanced, non legalistic view of the reformed faith. You know the Mark Driscoll, CJ Mahaney, John MacArthur, John Piper reformed ideas. By the way none these guy use the homeschool venue as a spring board for their ministries. I just pray no one compares these balanced ministries with those mentioned in the book, simply because they are reformed in their theology.
I’d be very interested in reading the book you’d write on the topic. 🙂
I bought this book from Amazon because I was very intrigued by your post. You forgot to mention you are the subject of one chapter. I am still not quite sure what to make of this “quiverfull” movement, but as I have three children, I guess my quiver is half full. Also, loved Katy’s post. Ditto, ditto, ditto.
I have just about finished reading this book after checking out your blog and boy, was this has been an intense book! It is shocking in the intensity of the philosophy, humbling at points as you look to areas that might be the sin of pride in your own life with your beliefs, angering on many accounts, and simply fascinating in looking at the structure of beliefs.
The one area that the book nor Quiverfull believers deal with is the issue of Christian parents who have children with special needs. I have two boys with Sensory Processing Disorder and as we have determined that this must be genetic in our family, we do not plan to have more children. God can, of course, intervene or pursuade us to adopt more children, but considering the staggering cost of their therapy, that really isn’t an option for us at the moment. So I am guessing I would not be welcome in a Quiverfull community as my children would be considered “inferior” arrows? If I follow the line of their thinking all the way out, then are we back to disabilities are caused by some sin in my life, my husband’s life, or their potential lives? I’m pretty sure that Jesus addressed that one. 🙂
I think one thing for us to think about is the extremes to which a philosophy can go. I see too much the language that homeschooling is a mandate from God, which is not in the Bible. After all, am I to be cherished in God’s eyes more than my friends who send their children to the public schools? Are Christians who send their children to the public schools also not capable of training up their children in the Lord or aiding in the provision of their education? Am I to be cherished in God’s eyes more because I have 12 children? Or is it simply that I am to train up my children (however many) in the way they should go in the way that God has led me to as best for our family in our set of circumstances? I see too little prayer and no room for God’s leading in the lives of all these families who dictate this.
The book does have many faults to be sure, but it is a good education and a good reminder to seek out truth and to never blindly follow any doctrine, no matter how well backed up with scripture, without first thoroughly investigating it. As a relatively new homeschooler (3 years), it was an immense amount of information to process about what has been happening in this area. Thanks for posting a book I would not normally thought to have read! It’s good to move us beyond our comfort zones!
I hope by some chance you might get to read this.
“God can, of course, intervene or pursuade us to adopt more children, but considering the staggering cost of their therapy, that really isnâ€™t an option for us at the moment. So I am guessing I would not be welcome in a Quiverfull community as my children would be considered â€œinferiorâ€ arrows? If I follow the line of their thinking all the way out, then are we back to disabilities are caused by some sin in my life, my husbandâ€™s life, or their potential lives? Iâ€™m pretty sure that Jesus addressed that one.”
I am QF and I have to say that I know LOTS of families who have children with disabilities and NO ONE thinks they are ‘inferior arrows.’ My children also have SPD and are on the autism spectrum and my husband has cancer- I get nothing but respect from the QF community. No one seems to think we are ‘sinners’ because our family is afflicted with disabilities.
Also, the owner of a popular QF online forum uses the public school system as does some of the members- homeschooling is not mandated nor do most who homeschool feel they are superior to those who don’t. We also don’t think that those who have 10 children are holier, more Godly, or favored by God over those who have a few. I know many in the QF movement who have only 1-3 children. In fact, I have only four children (and all of those were BEFORE I was quiverful. I have lost 6 or more babies (one at 40 weeks.) Some are infertile, and although it is painful as it is for anyone, it does seem to be even more difficult for the QF family. I have met many QF families who adopt.
I am interested in reading this book, because I have been baffled by comments of people who have accosted us in churches on our first visit. I walk away confused and upset, perhaps this book would explain why they treat us that way when they don’t even know us. We have been so badly treated by ‘regular’ churches that we drive 170 miles to go to churches pastored by QF men. Neither church has said to the congregation that they don’t agree with traditional schools, birth control, ect but most families are large and homeschool so we don’t get the negative treatment we get at ‘regular’ churches.
Not that this is on your addenda any time in the next couple of years, but I would love to read your version of the Quiverfull book one day. That and buy you a cup of coffee and pick your brain about 114 different topics from distance running to our shared undergraduate college to the challenges of (especially coming from a conservative Christian background) having children and a professional life.