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The Duggars, ISIS and Fear of Modernity

3 Jun
Hiding from Modernity

Hiding from Modernity

Perhaps it is because I have always regarded having many children (more than 4) as a modern form of female servitude, a peculiar form of modern torture. After four kids, how can you truly pay attention to each child? How can you be attentive to their needs? Of course, this comes from the naive assumption that one has kids to love and nurture them. That is not the only reason couples add to their broods. Some of them believe that a woman’s Christian duty is to birth as many children as possible in order to create more good Christian soldiers. A woman’s duty is to obey her father when she is young and her husband when she is married. Sound truly medieval? It is. It’s also the essence of the Quiverfull movement, which informs the beliefs of the Duggar family, Christian fundamentalists turned reality TV stars.

On the other side of the globe, ISIS is made up of young men from all over the Western world who have been moved by the terrorist group’s call to establish a Muslim caliphate throughout the Levant. Their rise and spread throughout the region, as well as their appeal to Westerners, has baffled people with much more expertise in modern terrorism than I can claim. CNN published a piece stating that ISIS has had success in this area through sophisticated recruitment efforts, with trailers like those that come out of Hollywood to convince young Westerners of their cause. A young ISIS recruit from England was quoted as saying, “I’m from the south of England. I grew up in a middle-class family…Life was easy back home. I had a life. I had a car. But the thing is, you cannot practice Islam back home. We see all around us evil. We see pedophiles. We see homosexuality. We see crime. We see rape.”

The aforementioned Duggars may not seem as sinister as the murderous armies of ISIS. But their worldview comes from the same place as ISIS: a deep fear of modernity, of a world where women are truly equal to men and minorities, such as gay people, also have equal rights. The Quiverfull movement, of which the Duggars are just an example, preaches very traditional roles for men and women in the home. Those who don’t adhere to such roles are heathens in the eyes of Christian fundamentalists. They prefer to homeschool their children instead of expose them to the views of the modern world. It is estimated that 58% of people in the Southern U.S. are Christian fundamentalists. While not all of them have 19 children whom they educate at home, many believe in a fallen world that is filled with sin and evil at every turn; only good Christian warriors will be saved in the end through the power of their faith.

Perhaps it seems extreme that I would compare the fundamentalism of the Duggars to the fundamentalistm behind ISIS. Yes, there are degrees of difference. ISIS is brutally murderous, there is no denying that. But their aims are political. So too is the Christian right’s. They see the onward march of modernity as a grave threat to their way of life rather than the natural arc of human progress. Rather than engage with the modern world, they adhere to a strict, literal, some would say erroneous interpretation of their religious texts. As women gain greater autonomy to live their lives, and minorities make strides in the U.S., the fundamentalist believers both in the U.S. and around the world will have to either fight the modern world, or live with it. I hope that they choose the latter, rather than the Middle Ages.


2014 in review

29 Dec

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,300 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 38 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Pharrell’s Happy in Gaza

19 Jul

El Amor Es un Espejo (Un Poema)

14 Jul

El amor es un espejo

Que refleja el alma de uno

Lo bonito, lo feo, el pudor y la alegría

Miro ese espejo que eres tú

Y me veo reflejada

Tú también,

¿Te ves reflejado

En mí?

The Importance of Emotional Intelligence

7 May
Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence

I recently found a link online to UC Berkeley’s online quiz, part of their Greater Good project. It is a test of how one reads other people, as a way to gauge one’s emotional intelligence. And I have been thinking a lot about emotional intelligence lately, as I ponder which skills and abilities I have that would lend themselves to the right career.

I had a moment at my job a couple of weeks ago where I was asked to help construct chairs. It involved using tools and being handy, and it was not exactly up my alley. While I was attempting to be of some assistance, I noticed that our new secretary was sitting at her desk with tears rolling down her face. I promptly invited her to go out to get coffee, and she agreed, and as we left the office she told me what was bothering her. In that moment I thought to myself,this really reveals my stengths and weaknesses. The prospect of working with my hands, being handy, makes me nervous, simply because it has never been my forte. Yet I believe that emotional intelligence- recognizing the emotions of others and responding appropriately- is a strength, one that frankly I think is more important in life than many others.

Note in the post below that I try to figure out what happened to the company morale at my former employer, and there was a realization that my own emotional intelligence would not be rewarded.  You look around and see the qualities being rewarded, and they are not qualities that you have, or would want to have. In professional and personal settings, emotional intelligence is of the utmost importance; luckily there is a growing body of research supporting this. I admit that I could improve, especially since I only scored 15 out of 20 on the quiz. Sometimes it is difficult to know not what others are feeling, but how to respond to them. Someone starts to cry- do you hug? Let them cry it out? Different people respond different ways. I try to recognize what others want in the moment. Sometimes you can just tell when someone wants to be alone.

This last weekend I was with a friend and her three year old daughter at a children’s birthday party, and it gave me great satisfaction that I was able to calm her down when she geot fussy and turn her cries into giggles. These little victories reinforce how satisfying and necessary it is to comfort others. Let’s all endeavor to improve our emotional intelligence and respond better to others so that they may respond better to us.

2013 in review

31 Dec

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,300 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 38 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


Girls Who Read

15 Nov

Yup, sounds like me!