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

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press; 1 edition (Feb. 27 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807010707
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807010709
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 2.4 x 23.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 540 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #743,313 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.7 out of 5 stars 84 reviews
194 of 205 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Homeschooler's Perspective May 17 2010
By Ana Mardoll - Published on
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
By Elizabeth McPherson - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a very good primary source book when one wishes to study the phenomenom of Quiverfull, an American Christian Fundamentalist far right movement that has the potential to make a great impact on the lives of millions, both in North America and abroad.
It has been a first rate book to refer and use a a bibliographic resource for further study. To truly understand what is at stake here, it is vital that one come to understand this religious AND political movement from the inside. I don't think that I could have comprehended any of the above without such material at hand; in addition to the Internet (which can be a rather dubious or liberating source of information, depending on the source(s) and their motivation(s).

The reality of all types of abuse such a patriarchy based theology engenders and the potential for further harm to the women and children within the control of the Patriarch needs further exploration, which is difficult when such subcultures take such pains to fortify their communities from influence and intervention of the secular world. It reminds me of the power within some more fundamentalist Mormon sites with reference to their patriarch as the "priesthood holder".

This harmful movement, which parallel those of a cult do a potential amount of damage to its families- psychologically, spiritually, sexually and physically. Even babies. Babies who through using physical abuse are "disciplined" and must have their (God given) wills "broken", their every movement and thought controlled by their parents and sub-religion to "obey without hesitation, completely and with a smiling and pleasant countenance." (See Duggars, IBLP, Bill Gothard, The Pearls' book "To Train Up a Child."
18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Scary! Nov. 24 2009
By LMS - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Before reading this book, I had only a very rudimentary understanding of the Christian Patriarchy/Quiverfull Movement. Basically I knew that they believed in having many children, were very much against the use of birth control and believed in male headship and female submission. I also know a couple of women who have bought into this lifestyle. But I didn't really understand it.

This book definitely opened my eyes. As I read this book, I found myself thinking "How could any woman in her right mind WANT to live this way?" It's one thing for a daughter to be raised with this type of mindset and not know anything different. But for a woman to choose this way of life? I just can't imagine it. This book also reinforced my commitment to being an egalitarian. There is no way that I would ever marry or even date a man isn't a egalitarian. I firmly believe that the Bible teaches MUTUAL submission. The husband submits to the wife and the wife submits to the husband. Both husband and wife are equal and marriage should be a partnership, not a dictatorship. I truly hope that this way of thinking and belief does NOT become mainstream.

This type of mindset and belief system keeps women and perpetual children. They are not allowed to speak or think for themselves. Quiverfull belief even goes so far as to say that women are the property of first their fathers, then their husbands. These women are taught that they should stay in an abusive marriage. They are told that if they are abused it is because they are rebellious and unsubmissive. The blame for abuse is squarely laid on the wife. This is appalling and wrong. In my mind, it's the same as blaming a rape victim for being raped. No matter how a woman dresses or acts, or if she has been drinking. There is nothing a woman can do to "deserve" getting raped. We blame the rapist, not the victim. So why is it different in this situation? The abuser is totally off the hook and the victim is forced to accept the blame. There is something really wrong with that picture. In my opinion, Patriarchy is nothing more than modern-day slavery.

I also have to wonder what would happen to the wife and children if the husband is to die? Since the Quiverfull movement is against any form of public assistance and women going to a college, how would a Quiverfull woman support herself and her children? The only skills she knows are housekeeping. The sad reality is that it is next to impossible in today's job market to get a good paying job without a college diploma. If she's lucky, the mother might be able to get a minimum wage job. Say a woman has 10 children. Is it really realistic to think that you would be able to support 10 children on minimum wage? The mother would hardly be able to support HERSELF on minimum wage, much less 10 children besides. Not only that, but where would the woman turn to for help? What is if she isn't able to (or simply doesn't want to) marry again right away? What then?

Another tenant that I found incredibly scary is the desire for the repeal of women's sufferage (the right to vote.) The way of life takes women back to the 1800's. Back then, it was believed that if a woman had a husband she didn't need to vote. Do we really want to go back to that mindset? I find it hard to believe that 21st Century women believe things like this.

I find it incredibly ironic that this book is written by a non-Christian. When I tried to do some online research on the Quiverfull movement, I found a wide variety of books that support the Quiverfull lifestyle. However, I searched in vain for a book that spoke out against it. Time and time again, I discovered that this is the only book out there that is willing to speak out against this movement. I am so thankful that Ms. Joyce took the time to research and write this book. This is an important book that every Christian woman should read. This book would make a great selection for a book club. It will be sure to generate a lot of interesting discussion. No doubt about it, this book is controversial. But it is one that deserves to be read. Be prepared to highlight a lot. I think I highlighted on least one thing on every page. This is a book to be read slowly and digested.

If anyone has a friend or loved one involved with the Christian Patriarchy/Quiverfull movement and want a better understanding of their teachings, get a copy of this book. But even if you only want more information or to educate yourself, you should read this book.
19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars very interesting look at this movement Jan. 30 2010
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My brother and his family are deep into this and so I was curious to see if anything could help me to understand what makes them all tick. I still don't get it, because to me it's just ludicrous, but the book was very well done and did explain a lot to me, even though I still can't wrap my mind around why anyone would choose such a miserable way to live. Bu I loved the book and thought it was well done. The most interesting part to me was at the back of the book, when it talked about the mothers and daughters. It's a whole different way of thinking, and this is what makes it all possible to make this lifestyle work for some. I recommend this, especially if you know someone who's in it.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Accurate Account! Feb. 2 2015
By ganddw42 - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Quiver full: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement ", by Kathryn Joyce.
I found the book to be an accurate depiction of Fundamentalist Christian mindset. Every human emotion involving self is sinful and immoral. To like yourself means you are vain, self indulgent and wicked. You have allowed evil/Satan to take over your life. You are not encouraged to think independently and question the idea's being spoon fed to you by Fundamentalist Christianity. The children grow up to have literally no self esteem or confidence in themselves. They have even less self esteem because they are a female and are not worth much in the Fundamentalist world except to breed. You are raised to think you should aspire to nothing more than marriage and motherhood. That's all girls are good for and nothing more. Most of them cannot think for themselves, they have to refer to the bible to find answers to life's questions or have their husband do their thinking for them like my Grandmother did. In their world Feminism is the great Satan. They blame all of society's ills on feminism rather than taking a good look at themselves and the evil that lies within their movement. They rely heavily on guilt and terrorizing the young into 'being saved'. Something for a lot of us only lasted as long as we were home, but was shed the minute we left home. I think a lot of them enjoy making themselves and others around them miserable. It often leaves me to wonder what people find so enticing about such a dark repressive religion that controls ones every thought. It's taken me 55 years to get over that terrible religion.
I will admit, I finally had to quit reading this book at around page 140. When it was divulged that they were heavily into the trying to eliminate birth control and force their beliefs upon a society around them, that's when it became too much for me. I find these people warped, immoral in their arrogance and irresponsible behavior. They have a right to their religious beliefs...but they DO NOT have a right to force them upon others around them. There is nothing admirable about the grinding poverty they promote with too many children, the misery, the starvation and the suffering of millions from overpopulation they are advocating breeds. The hapless people who didn't ask to be brought into the world to suffer. It's criminal to advocate the kind of immoral behavior they are indulging in...even if it's done for religions sake. In a world that's already been populated into oblivion and dying from excessive human population and all the problems that go with it, by past generations of thoughtless people like them.
It's almost like it is some sort of a twisted parlor game for their pleasure to outdo each other in the breeding department. There are too many offspring for the Mother to have any kind of a decent relationship with any of them. My mother was born into such a ultra religious household where she was the eldest of 10 children, who was expected to raise the younger siblings along with doing all the cooking of family meals, housekeeping and any other dirty chores her mother (my Grandmother) was incapable of performing because she was always pregnant. Her father (my grandfather) chased away every boyfriend she had until 26, so he wouldn't lose his built in housekeeper. I am not sure why he didn't chase my father away, maybe he had started to have a glimmer of a conscious by that time or people had begun to gossip about why Mom was still single and living at home...who knows?
That was something my sister and I learned early in life (there were only two of us), how much our mother resented the childhood she had been robbed of , because she had another one forced upon her by two thoughtless parents only interested in what they wanted and their religion. It was nothing our Mother said outright, but the anger was there right below the surface in body language on special occasions and rumblings within our family from siblings of our Mothers. Who viewed my Mother as their only mother, because she was the one who raised them. Our Mother on no occasion ever talked about her childhood. So to this day I know nothing about her younger years. My sister and I knew it was not a happy period in her life. So we didn't ask to many questions and bring her added pain.
My Grandmother had no relationship with any kind with her 10 children and even less of one with the 40 Grandchildren that came later . I didn't know the joys of having a doting Grandmother growing up. My Grandmother didn't know who I was at my Mother's funeral. Still, all my Grandmother could do was whine and complain that none of her children loved her. What did she expect...she wasn't a mother to any of them? Their only mother was dead mother! There were too many to have one on one relationship with like I do my two. She didn't know any of them, she always had her nose stuck in the Bible. But, she was extremely good at moralizing to others through her poison pen letters (my mother's term not mine, when my mother finally tore into her for writing them and reminded her there was a federal law against sending such garbage through the mail). I got one when she accidently discovered I smoked cigarettes. She never confronted anyone openly something my Grandfather would not have tolerated, they just got a religious tract and a sermon in the mail. I threw it in the trash, but have often wished I had kept it to show my children what these so called Fundamentalist Christian's are really like. So I know all about these patriarchal family movements filled with more and more dysfunctional Christian's.
But, Kathryn Joyce does a great job in her depiction of the movement (the only reason I gave it such a high rating). I will give her an 'A' for not letting her feminist side get in the way of the story. I did on no occasion pick up on any bias or utter revulsion I was feeling for their lifestyle. It became too much for me just reading it (a devout Secular Humanist) and I had to let it all out or explode. So I quit reading the book and put it up. I am determined to never buy another one like it again as long as I live. These Christian cults are way too bizarre for me. They are giving Christianity a dirty name.
My daughter kept telling me about '19 children and counting' and the Duggars she watched frequently. So I decided much to my sorrow to check out this book and see what they were all about. They sounded a whole lot like my Grandmother, that I have never been able to put a label on until now. I bought a used copy of it that had been in a library from an outfit that donates the proceeds to literacy programs, so it wasn't a total waste of money. What little I paid for it went to a good cause. Thankfully my daughter has finally figured out it is all a boat load of propaganda. They are trying to sell the lifestyle of Christian Fundamentalism and excessive breeding to a skeptical public. That most of us are too intelligent to buy into.