(Repost) “We Would Be Completely Vulnerable” – Escape Chapter 22: Merril’s Heart Attack

What’s worse than having an utter shitstain of a husband in the FLDS? Potentially not having him. When Merril has a massive heart attack, Carolyn has to face the fact that while she doesn’t love him, she needs him.

Content note for emetophobia, forced marriage, child abuse, medical stuff

On the way to the hospital, trying desperately not to vomit from morning sickness and fear, Carolyn confronts her unpleasant reality. Continue reading “(Repost) “We Would Be Completely Vulnerable” – Escape Chapter 22: Merril’s Heart Attack”

(Repost) “We Would Be Completely Vulnerable” – Escape Chapter 22: Merril’s Heart Attack

(Repost) Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education VI: Oceans O’ Creationism

After a long interlude with ACE, we’re now ready to jump in the deep end of our other creationist textbooks. Make sure you’ve got your scuba gear!

Science of the Physical Creation’s on about the oceans now. They begin their section on oceanography with Psalm 104: 24-25, because it has got the word “sea” in it, and sez God made it, therefore “God did it” is Science Fact. I suspect they’re doing this because there are only so many ways to work God into a discussion of seawater. Continue reading “(Repost) Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education VI: Oceans O’ Creationism”

(Repost) Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education VI: Oceans O’ Creationism

Adventures in ACE XXIX: Gusty With a 100% Chance of Drivel

Oh, joy, ACE weather forecasting! I forecast showers of creationist nonsense and gusts of boredom.

Our vocabulary for this section includes such difficult science words as chirp, cricket, mattress, and wispy. Bet you all remember struggling over these in your 8th grade science class, right?

Image is a drawing of a night scene, with stars in the top half, fading to midnight blue skies, and the silhoutte of tall grass at the bottom. At the center, white lowercase letters say "...crickets chirping"
Well, maybe not. But at least, thanks to ACE, we can define that noise and what’s making it.

The cartoon is cutting-edge humor, as always.

Image is a cartoon strip in two panels. The first panel is an aerial view looking down at two boys playing basketball. One is sinking the ball in the basket while saying, "Racer, when you plant a garden, why should you not plant onions next to potatoes?" The other boy is saying, "I don't know, Ace." In the next panel, Racer now has the ball and is dribbling, while we see Ace from the back trying to block him. Ace is saying, "So that the potatoes will not cry their 'eyes' out!" and Racer is saying, "Ha-ha!"
Cartoon from page 12 of ACE Science PACE 1089.

I’m so glad my parents didn’t send me to an ACE school. I’d have either died of pathological boredom or stabbed my eyes out with a pencil. Anything to get away from these awful jokes.

Anyway. So we’re back with Dad and Ace, just after the whole barometer convo, and Dad is keen for Ace to know that there’s more to forecasting than a barometer. He also wants us to know that “the laws that govern weather are orderly.” That’s quite a simplistic view of matters. Or maybe they’re defining “chaos” as “order.” It’s true that we’ve gotten better at forecasting, but even if we become capable of measuring almost every condition at particular moments in time, there will still be a considerable level of uncertainty to our forecasts, because weather is a chaotic system. Tiny perturbations have large effects. Butterflies and all. Continue reading “Adventures in ACE XXIX: Gusty With a 100% Chance of Drivel”

Adventures in ACE XXIX: Gusty With a 100% Chance of Drivel

(Repost) “A New and Dangerous Threshold” – Escape Chapter 22: Merril’s Heart Attack

Warren Jeffs is gaining more control over the FLDS daily. In this chapter, we’ll see just how badly his teachings affect women and children, while giving men the freedom to be as terrible as they want to be. And we’ll see why Merril dying would be worse than Merril living. There’s a horrific thought…

Content note for spousal abuse, spiritual abuse, medical neglect, casual ableism

After leaving her teaching job due to Rulon and Warren fucking up the educational system, Carolyn starts a web design business and sells health food online. She’s soon pregnant with her sixth child, which means unremitting sickness. And Uncle Rulon and his horrid son are squeezing the life out of the community.Movies and television are forbidden. The internet is to be used only for business. Various clothing styles and fabric patterns are outlawed, reducing people to only a few types of solid pastels. Long underwear is required at all times for everyone, including toddlers.

Mind you: this is in a desert.

But people accept it, because they’ve been told “that God believed his people were now ready to live by a higher law.” You can get people to subject themselves to nearly any outrage if you can convince them that’s what God wants. Continue reading “(Repost) “A New and Dangerous Threshold” – Escape Chapter 22: Merril’s Heart Attack”

(Repost) “A New and Dangerous Threshold” – Escape Chapter 22: Merril’s Heart Attack

Lamech’s Children

My friend and ordained rabbi Gershon Blackmore posted this musing on the Torah to Facebook. It’s one of those stories that has human power, human value, and tells us a little something about the people we must deal with today. And at the end, I think, is exactly what we need to hear as power passes from capable, measured hands into the hands of a thin-skinned, hot-headed, sticky-fingered ego tripper.

There are always men like him. But there are always people like us. And that gives me hope.

Way back in the early days of Scriptural “history,” before Abraham or even Noah, there was a fellow named Lamech. We know nothing of him except the following literary tidbit:

Lamech said to his wives
Adah and Zillah
Hear my voice
You wives of Lamech
Listen to my speech
For I have slain a man for wounding me
And a boy for hurting me.
If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold
Truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold.

And that is what we know of Lamech. A man who sang, in literary Hebrew, of his exceptional powers of revenge. His song bursts out of the ancient cloud of time and event, and tells us of the power of being known as vengeful, visiting a hurt from a boy on the poor lad seventy seven fold. The Hebrew doesn’t say “young man” (na’ar). It says “Yeled,” or “child.”

Lamech would destroy a child for “hurting” him. This was an adult who could be hurt by a child. One can imagine the world within his mind–in which one takes savage retribution on children. He was the archetypal abuser of all. Continue reading “Lamech’s Children”

Lamech’s Children

(Repost) “Punitive and Spiteful” – Escape Chapter 21: Charter School

One of the best ways to control people is to control how and what they think. Warren Jeffs, like many cult leaders before him, knows this well. Seems he may have learned it from his father, who forbade higher education after he became prophet. This allowed him to keep dangerous things like reading and critical thinking in check.

Now, as Angie Jackson often points out, you can be highly educated and still fall for cult nonsense. But it’s far easier to maintain a hold on people if they’re not exposed to outside information.

Warren’s about to take that much further.

Content Note: Educational neglect, child abuse, spiritual abuse

Forbidding any higher education within the community means there’s soon a shortage of teachers for the elementary and high schools. They’ll need to start recruiting from outside the FLDS community, but the salaries are too low to attract anyone. Even with some families homeschooling, the existing teachers are flooded with far too many students. Something has to give – and Carolyn thinks she has the solution when Arizona starts funding charter schools. After some research, Carolyn figures that with the state funding they would get per student, they could easily afford to hire good teachers. So she and some of her fellow teachers begin working on a proposal. Surprisingly, she gets support from Merril, who tells her she’s got a good idea and that he’ll talk to the prophet about it.

Meanwhile, to relieve the pressure on the existing teachers, Carolyn suggests using computers for students to do reading and math drills. She could even do the necessary software development. The school superintendent thinks this is awesome and jumps aboard the charter school train.

Image is a painting showing a school room. There is a map on the wall. Young children are sitting in long wooden desks. The girls have on long dresses, most of them red or light blue. The boys have on black suits. The teacher is leaning over helping one of the boys. She is dressed in a black blouse and long black skirt with her dark hair up in a bun.
“Elementary School” by Magnus Enckell. Public domain image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Their proposal makes it past the first hurdles, and so Carolyn and her fellow teachers end up in Phoenix to present it. They’re up against a hundred other potential charter schools, most developed by high-ranking educational professionals. Competition is fierce, and almost all of the presenters before them get turned down. But they sail through to approval: the board is extremely impressed by their assessment plan and innovative ideas. All they have to do is build the school building in time, and the FLDS folks are old hands at putting buildings up fast. Carolyn and her team are elated. Even Merril’s impressed. He goes to tell Uncle Rulon about their victory.

But then Warren gets wind of it. And he doesn’t like it.

  1. It will be a school run by professionals, with professional teachers, unlike his school, where only two teachers have actual degrees and some don’t even have a high school diploma.
  2. Kids won’t have “learning” beaten into them with yardsticks, the way he does it.
  3. The charter school will make liberal use of computers. Warren has banned computers.
  4. The children will be well-educated, which means they can read things he doesn’t want them to read, and think things he doesn’t want them to think.

Needless to say, he’s not a fan. And because by now he’s pretty much in control of his father, Uncle Rulon is also not a fan. As far as Carolyn knows, Merril doesn’t even attempt to change Rulon’s mind. He just accepts the verdict and forbids Carolyn from having anything more to do with it.

I was furious. My anger touched a core in me that burst into flame. For the first time, I began to see how religion could suppress something positive and life-giving. Failure to educate our children was unconscionable.

Carolyn is so distraught that she can’t continue her teaching career – she quits at the end of the school year. She can’t be a teacher while Warren is prophet in all but name. Still.

I didn’t think about what might happen after his father died. No one really expected Warren to become the next prophet. I certainly didn’t. He was too much of a nobody.

When you’re dealing with a “nobody” who’s as cunning and power-hungry as Warren Jeffs, though, you can’t take their failure for granted. That’s a lesson we should all endeavor to remember.

Image is the cover of Escape, which is photo of Carolyn Jessop on a black background. She cradles a framed picture of herself as an FLDS teenager in her hands. She is a woman in her thirties with chestnut hair and blue eyes.
I’m reviewing Escape chapter-by-chapter. Pick yourself up a copy if you’d like to follow along. The full list of reviews to date can be found here. Need a chaser? Pick up a copy of Really Terrible Bible Stories Volume 1: Genesis, Volume 2: Exodus, and Volume 3: Leviticus today


(Repost) “Punitive and Spiteful” – Escape Chapter 21: Charter School

(Repost) “A Harrowing Story” – Escape Chapter 20: Warren’s Rise to Power

It’s 1995, and Warren Jeffs is seizing more and more control within the FLDS. The cult was hideous before; it’s about to get exponentially worse.

Content Note for racism, spiritual abuse, physical abuse, miscarriage due to injury

Warren Jeffs is one of those people who knows how to use those around him for his own gain. He knows how to manipulate his elderly father, the current prophet, and get him to proclaim that Warren speaks for him. He knows how to push the fear buttons. And he knows that making something scarce and exclusive can increase desire for it. This is how he gets his awful recorded racist rants to spread. He tapes his sermons talking about how “the black race had been put on earth to preserve evil,” and how God’s gonna destroy everyone in North and South America except those who do this huge list of stuff, and then he releases a limited number of those tapes. Well, of course, not being able to have them means everybody wants a set.

Carolyn manages to find a set to listen to. She’s not so impressed. Continue reading “(Repost) “A Harrowing Story” – Escape Chapter 20: Warren’s Rise to Power”

(Repost) “A Harrowing Story” – Escape Chapter 20: Warren’s Rise to Power