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Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement Hardcover – Mar 1 2009

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Engrossing . . . Skillfully reported by journalist Kathryn Joyce, Quiverfull has echoes of The Handmaid's Tale. Unfortunately, it's not fiction.—Rebecca Braverman, Bust

"An invaluable contribution to understanding how religious fundamentalism still stands in the way of sexual justice . . . An urgent call to dismantle fundamentalism's hold on our politics, and our policy-making."—Sarah Posner, American Prospect online

"Insightful . . . A call to reexamine our own beliefs . . . The issues Joyce's book raises are fundamental to our identity as human beings, and as Christians. Perhaps they could stand some reexamination."—Elrena Evans, Christianity Today

"[An] excellent, frightening new book . . . Quiverfull merits wide readership."—Edd Doerr, The Voice of Reason: Journal of Americans for Religious Liberty

"Riveting and deeply disturbing. This important book shines a light on a corner of the Christian right that has taken misogyny to sadomasochistic extremes, and reveals the sexual anxieties so often underlying modern fundamentalism."—Michelle Goldberg, author of Kingdom Coming

"Joyce gives us a first-ever glimpse into the Christian patriarchy movement, and her riveting reporting makes it all the scarier. If you've been feeling complacent about women's status, read this book!—Barbara Ehrenreich

"A groundbreaking investigation . . . Future historians and journalists will owe Joyce a debt of gratitude for her foray into this still nascent religious group."—Publishers Weekly

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About the Author

Kathryn Joyce received her B.A. from Hampshire College and her M.A. in cultural reporting and criticism from New York University. Her freelance writing has appeared in The Nation, Mother Jones, Newsweek, The Massachusetts Review, and other publications. She has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and The Nation Institute and is former managing editor of The Revealer, a daily review of religion and the media published by NYU's Center for Religion and Media. Joyce lives in New York City

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Amazon.com: 70 reviews
174 of 183 people found the following review helpful
A Homeschooler's Perspective May 17 2010
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Quiverfull / 978-0-8070-1073-0

I consider myself to be a homeschooling success story, as I was homeschooled for several formative years of my education, and now happily hold two college degrees and a good job - and indeed, I am fully open to the possibility of homeschooling my own hypothetical children. Going into "Quiverfull", I held some concerns that author Kathryn Joyce might fail to clarify that the type of people her research centers on - many of whom "homeschool" (see note below) - are NOT typical examples of the homeschooling community at large. However, Joyce is an eminently fair writer, and frequently emphasizes that the movement she studies is "fringe" in most all respects - fringe Americans, fringe Christians, and fringe homeschoolers.

[[NOTE: Homeschooling families tend to be sensitive to accusations of isolationism and indoctrination, in large part because the public figures of homeschooling are often comprised of the "fringe" element - whereas the "normal" families who see homeschooling as one of many valid education options to choose from tend to be more interested in quietly getting on with teaching their children properly. In much the same way that there are educational private schools and indoctrinational private schools, such as there also educational homeschooling families to balance the indoctrinational one. The best parsing of the issue I have seen so far is the growing online meme to refer to these methods respectively as "private schooling", "private churching", "home schooling", and "home churching", to designate where the training is taking place, and what the training is focusing on.]]

Divided into three parts, "Quiverfull" carefully parses the duties and burdens on women within the Quiverfull movement - as wives, mothers, and daughters. With a predominantly respectful tone, author Joyce carefully balances the statements of the members of the movement with the cold facts, and keeps editorial comments at a perfect minimum (just enough to delight the reader, but never so much as to seem to co-opt the narrative). Joyce carefully highlights the contradictions within the movement at large, such as:

* the insistence that wives be submissive at all times to their husbands, even when the husband is wrong, but without a corresponding energy level directed into teaching the husbands to be loving, mild, and, well, not wrong. Why is so much energy directed at teaching the women to be submissive when that same energy could be directed at teaching the men to be kind, gentle, and wise representations of Christ?

* the disconnect between the fertility reasoning behind the Quiverfull movement (to allow God to direct the number of children within a family) and the actual practice of the Quiverfull movement: desperate women driven to despair because they "only" have 3-4 children, which means they measure as "less holy" than the women with larger broods - some women going so far as to use fertility pills, treatments, and schedules to attempt conception.

* the financial blinders within the movement - although God "provides" for the children, He will apparently only do so *after* the children are born (according to a divine "no backsies" rule), and in an apparent contradiction He refuses to pony up the cash for a vasectomy-reversal or tubal-reversal - those surgeries have to be paid for by charity organizations that select worthy candidates. There is probably a "pay for your own sins" analogy in there, but it breaks down quickly in light of the whole concept of Christ.

* the hypocrisy in the name of public relations - in a movement that insists that women "marry young" and neither earn money nor teach adults (usurpation of manly power), it is noteworthy that a huge amount of the books are written by Quiverfull women, and the prettiest daughters of the movement leaders are cultivated into public speakers for the movement in a blatant P.R. attempt to appeal to young women within the movement. If that means delaying the marriages of the chosen daughters, so be it - even the worst P.R. firm in the world recognizes that it takes time to build a brand, and you can't get a new spokeswoman every year without hurting your cause.

The density of information within this book is absolutely staggering, and the author has done a superb job of laying out the information clearly, succinctly, and with a rawness of tone that will scar even veteran readers of the patriarchy movement. Especially painful is the clear and open misogyny and racism of many of the proponents here - Joyce is not afraid to point out which of the leaders prefer to fear-monger about the lack of "the right kind" of babies being born, nor does she fail to point out which leaders are currently lobbying to revoke female suffrage in America. Are these fringe elements? You bet, and Joyce never pretends otherwise. But they are a fringe that we should be aware of, and "Quiverfull" provides an easy immersion into this terrifying culture.

~ Ana Mardoll
131 of 142 people found the following review helpful
Must read for homeschoolers Aug. 25 2009
By Sheila - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
My husband and I homeschooled our children for a total of 13 years, and we are familiar with many of the names in this book. We had our first child as a result of stopping birth control to allow God to "plan our family". We attended Jonathan Lindvall's "Bold Parenting" seminar and for a time, subscribed to "Patriarch" magazine. I also have read most of Mary Pride's books. I mention this to show our familiarity with this movement. I feel that this book is extremely well written and readable, and although Joyce obviously has a bias, as mentioned in another review, she mostly allows people's words to speak for themselves without commentary.

The reason I call this book a "must read" for homeschoolers is because you may not be getting an accurate picture of what is going on in your church until it is too late to avoid being sucked in and becoming victims yourselves. The chapters on the Epstein family ("Life in the Garden") and Cheryl Lindsay ("Exiting the Movement") are heart wrenching in describing the destruction that ensued when church discipline was exercised. And in many of these churches, discussing issues of conflict with leadership is labeled "gossip", so you likely will only hear bits and pieces of what is going on...and those who leave are labeled "wolves among the sheep" to discourage people from speaking to them firsthand.

I would have liked to have the author write a chapter on the psychology of what draws people to this movement and as well as more discussion on people who have left and how they recovered and moved on. But all in all, a book worth reading even if you do not agree with the author's opinions.
391 of 444 people found the following review helpful
By Vyckie D. Garrison - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The reason I am telling the story of my involvement in the Quiverfull movement, and how I got out ([...]) is because I came across an article on Alternet and read with interest about the people and the teachings which our family had followed for many years. I was kind of amazed that someone on that liberal news site knew about this movement ~ so I posted a comment on the article ~ and that's how I got in touch with Kathryn Joyce, author of Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement.

I pre-ordered the book and as I read it, I kept saying aloud, "I know these people!" All the names were familiar to me ~ Nancy Campbell, Mary Pride, Doug Phillips, Phil Lancaster, R.C. Sproul Jr., Debi Pearl, Anna Sophia Botkins, Jennie Chancey ... "Wow," I thought, "she even interviewed Charles Provan!" I used to own nearly every book mentioned in Quiverfull ~ and, yes ~ I read them all ... starting with The Way Home: Beyond Feminism and Back to Reality, the book which really started the current patriarchy movement that's becoming so popular among homeschoolers. Isn't it interesting that it has mostly been the WOMEN who are writing these books, teaching seminars, and leading other women into this life of subordination?

I really want to just encourage everyone who has been touched by the Quiverfull philosophy in any way to read this book. I wish I could quote the whole thing for you ~ and then sit back and read the comments which would sound something like, "OMFG!" and "Is this stuff for real? ~ People actually believe this and live this way?!!" Yes ~ it's true. The thing is, those of us who followed (and those who are still following) the Quiverfull / patriarchal lifestyle got into it gradually ~ just a little at a time. For us, it started with homeschooling which seemed pretty radical at the time. It was at our state's annual home school conference that I was introduced to some of the movement's books ~ mostly through Vision Forum, a supplier of Classical Education curriculum.

I started out with Nancy Campbell's "lovely" vision for godly wives and mothers ... discovered Phil Lancaster's Patriarch magazine which spread the idea to the men ... then found S.M. Davis's "Solve Family Problems" series in which the dynamic and often vehement (my kids said he just yelled a lot) preacher set us straight about what constitutes a truly godly family ~ and what dedicated Christian wouldn't want to do whatever the Lord requires to please Him and to be a "blameless" example of righteous living to our friends, family and community?

Now I will admit that when Debi Pearl came out with her book, Created to Be His Help Meet ~ even I couldn't stomach it. I guess there must have been some residual lesson I'd learned after trying to follow the bible study ladies' advice about how to be a perfect, godly wife in order to win my abusive, unfaithful first husband to the Lord ~ but I just couldn't support Pearl's book wholeheartedly the way I had Campbell's God's Vision for Families or Pride's All The Way Home: Power for Your Family To Be Its Best. I remember one Sunday morning when my friend Laura brought Created to Be His Help Meet to our home church and was raving about what an awesome book it was and how she was putting Debi Pearl's ideas into practice and could already see a change in the way her husband was treating her. Ugh. Poor Laura!

To me, the most startling part of Joyce's book Quiverfull, is the section towards the back entitled "Daughters." Actually, I am ashamed to admit that I used to look at Anna Sophia and Elizabeth Botkins with awe and envy ~ why couldn't my girls comprehend these Visionary Daughters' inspiring insight on godly femininity? I actually bought So Much More: The Remarkable Influence of Visionary Daughters on the Kingdom of God for Angel's birthday and sent it to her in Nashville in the hopes that she would finally understand how much simpler her life would be if only she could "get" the idea that the only way to true liberation and peace is to follow her father and submit herself to his authority.

When I talked to Kathryn Joyce over the phone as she was interviewing me for an article on Salon.com, I told her I found it very affirming that for most of the book, she simply sticks to quoting the movement leaders ~ often with no commentary at all. "What that said to me," I explained, "is that to those who aren't steeped in this particular worldview, the craziness of it all is self-evident. There's no need to say, 'This is total crap!' because anyone who isn't already convinced can clearly see that it's truly insane to try and live this way."

Something else I really appreciate about this book ~ Quiverfull puts the whole movement on display all at once. The reason this is important is that for most families, getting into this lifestyle is a step-by-step process ~ a progression from "peculiar" to seriously bizarre which takes place incrementally over a period of many years.

If a family home educates their children in order to spare them from the humanistic curriculum in the public school ~ they'll soon pick up on the extra-biblical, humanistic teachings which have filtered into the church as well. And if that family recognizes the spiritual danger of allowing their kids to spend a lot of time in the company of public school peers, it's a small step to keeping the family together for church worship rather than sending the children to the age-segregated Sunday School program. Once a couple comprehends that children are precious in God's sight from the moment of conception ~ how could they possibly expect to witness to the pro-life message with any semblance of credibility when they ~ by their use of birth control ~ have accepted the "abortion mentality" ~ that babies are only a blessing when they fit into their parents' lifestyle conveniently? And once they've eschewed birth control and the babies start coming in rapid succession ~ Michael Pearl's child training advice is going to be a life-saver.

This is just a very brief example of how it all fits together into a comprehensive worldview which makes absolutely perfect sense to the family who started out simply looking for a supportive community of like-minded Believers which would uphold their family's biblical values in the eyes of their children.

Twenty years ago, if I would have read Quiverfull, I believe seeing the big picture of where we were headed would have shocked us enough to cause me to take a good, hard look ~ no doubt, I'd have gone elsewhere in my search for solutions to the everyday problems of family life. No way could you interest me in a harsh, demanding lifestyle of lots of babies (well, you still maybe could have convinced me of that part, since I do love babies), home schooling, home birth, home business, home church, no children's programs, no teenagers, no dating, parents choosing their children's spouses, husband making all the decisions and wife not daring to make the slightest commitment without first obtaining her husband's approval, no TV, only G- and some PG-rated movies, and absolutely NO Harry Potter.

Taken as a whole ~ there really is no appeal to the Quiverfull / patriarchy lifestyle ~ no matter how "biblical" it is and how "godly" a family might become by following those God-ordained family roles. It is my contention that this way of living is a package deal. Once a family takes that first step ~ if they're living it logically and consistently ~ they'll eventually find themselves living out pretty much the whole program ~ the "Vision" which, in its entirety ~ as clearly depicted in Quiverfull ~ turns out, in practicality, to be a very real, living nightmare.
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
the most fascinating book i've read for a while Jan. 5 2011
By Lewis Woolston - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have long had a fascination with fringe groups with a right wing/conservative/traditionalist slant and the quiverfull movement definatly fits the bill. They are by their very nature a growing movement and i predict in a decade or so their views will have enough politcal capital to influence elections.
The author of this book does a very good job of taking us inside the movement and helping us to understand the mindset and motivations of these people. She is never demeaning, dismissive or condascending towards these devout people which is a real breath of fresh air compared to the usual secular sneer one finds whenever an outsider tries to analyse a movement like this.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the future direction of the religious right and possibly of America.
30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
Important contribution June 3 2009
By R. Bartholomew - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
We all know that Christian fundamentalism is patriarchal and, in general, opposed to feminism. However, Kathryn Joyce shows us that this is no mere defensive strategy against the corrosive effects of secularism and modernity. The "patriarchay movement" rather seeks to reclaim America for Christianity, as homemaker mothers produce "quiverfulls" of culture warrior children, and girls and boys learn to take on gender roles (submission and leadership, respectively) with military-like discipline for the greater good.

Joyce explores both the ideological underpinnings of the movement and the human interest side of the story, as she attends various events and meets both with women who belong to the movement, and those who have left it. She avoids writing polemically, but as she unpacks the logic of the movement's ideology, examines the attitudes of its leaders, and - inevitably - recounts some of the undoubtedly abusive and destructive situations that have arisen, a picture emerges that is not attractive. Tellingly, Doug Phillips responded to the book's publication with complaints about Joyce's background and motives, but without any corrective points to make whatsoever.

The book is divided into three sections, dealing with the three roles the movement sees for women - as wives, as mothers, and as daughters. We find that the movement is far from monolithic - some members draw on the Reformed tradition and look to the "theonomy" devised by Rousas Rushdoony, others see the need for women to accept their God-ordained role as a matter of neo-Pentecostal spiritual warfare. We meet men who have a "200 Year Plan" for their families, using Excel spreadsheets to plot thousands of as-yet imagined descendants (this seems to me more like Chinese ancestor-veneration than historic Christianity), and women who understand "submission" to their husbands as a form of liberation, even when they express private disagreement with them. There are also some eccentric characters covered - such as Charles Provan, who also promoted, and then rejected, Holocaust revisionism - and a brief comparative foray into ultra-Orthodox Jewish patriarchy, where brides-to-be take the contraceptive pill to avoid menstruation on the wedding night and not long after are dispensed fertility drugs by rabbis. The patriarchy movement, Joyce explains, has is making global links: particularly in Poland, and even, in some cases, with Muslims - whose higher birth-rates are also often seen as a cause for alarm by Christian conservatives.

Unfortunately, there are no footnotes or bibliography, but the book is obviously very well researched and Joyce shows an easy familiarity with the nuances of the movement. It's both a substantial contribution and a great read.