A few notes before beginning today:
The counseling booklet that blames rape victims and declares them “guilty” is still for sale.
Libby Anne at Love, Joy, Feminism has written about some of the advice found in the Advanced Seminar textbook. It’s worth a read. If you aren’t familiar with her blog, be sure to check it out. Her series examining Debbie Pearl’s Created To Be His Help Meet was the primary inspiration for this blog.
Today we’re looking at Gothard’s summarization and response to an article in a Christian magazine that encourages teens to have open, honest dialogues with their parents about music. First, let’s see what the article says:
Overall, this seems like some pretty good advice. Perhaps it’s a tad superficial, but hey, it’s still good advice. Now let’s take a moment and address some of the comments that Gothard just had to insert.
These insertions really are interesting. Gothard takes half a page to respond to the article, yet he still felt the need to insert his opinion three times before the quote is even finished. It’s almost like he doesn’t want us to actually let our guard down and think about what they’re saying. He’s like that kid who can’t stand by quietly while his brother tells his side of the story.
And what upsets him so much he must interrupt with his own thoughts? First he’s upset that these tips come from conversation with three teenagers, rather than coming from Scripture. It’s hilarious that this comment comes right after Gothard has given us testimonies from three teenagers. That’s legitimately funny. But on a serious note, why is it a bad idea for Christians to talk to other Christians about life? One Christian spoke to three other Christians and said, “Hey, do you have any tips for other Christians on how to foster better communication among people?” How is this wrong? Isn’t this one of the advantages of the body of Christ; that we are able to offer advice and ideas to each other?
The second thing that Gothard has to comment on is how this article is advising kids to “be thoughtful of others.” In Gothard’s mind, this is inappropriate teaching; being obedient to parents is much more important than being thoughtful.
I find this fascinating because, ever since the Adrian Peterson scandal broke, a number of bloggers have been talking about the topic of disciple in general, and the goal of parenting in particular. Is the goal of parenting to create obedient children, or encourage children to become empathetic, considerate and responsible? To give a somewhat simplified example, is it more important for a child to take out the garbage because his mom told him to, or because he understands that it will improve the quality of life for the family? (Here’s a good blog post on the topic, if you’re interested.)
Gothard comes firmly down on the side of obedience here, and I really have to wonder why. Blind obedience is a seriously dangerous thing. “I was just doing what I was told!” is a refrain we hear all too often every time a military scandal breaks. Shouldn’t we be much more concerned with raising children who can assess a situation and choose a course of action because it’s the right thing to do, rather than because they were told to? Isn’t that what we expect from those children once they are adults? If so, why train them to do one thing, and later expect another?
The third thing Gothard has to interject is a comment about how rock music is difficult to understand. This is just funny, considering how difficult some of the music produced by the Institute is to understand. Listen to this one, starting at about 1:20. Please don’t think I’m saying there’s anything wrong with that music; I’m actually quite a fan. But it’s the height of hypocrisy to sell that music, and complain that other people listen to music you can’t understand.
Finally, something has to be said about the letters that Gothard is putting in bold here. The last sentence is interesting; “Your goal is to communicate to your parents why your music is important to you.” It’s hard to say exactly why these words are placed in bold (until you read further in the booklet), but it seems clear that Gothard takes issue with the idea of children having their own, individual goals or tastes. He implies that when a teenager speaks to a parent, it is somehow wrong for the young person to have a goal. He implies that it is somehow wrong (sinful, even) for a teenager to have his own tastes in music. It is wrong for his music to be important to him.
This thinking is so wrong, so twisted, that I’m not sure how to explain it. A perfect child in Gothard’s world doesn’t have an opinion, and doesn’t have personal taste. They don’t consider musical styles and select one that speaks to them; they robotically listen to the music their parents want. These children never have an opinion, and even if they did, they would never dare to speak to their parents about that opinion.
This is how we are supposed to raise children who are “mighty in spirit”? This is a recipe for raising children who have no identity, no concept of self outside of their parents. What a terrifying idea!
Now let’s take apart some of Gothard’s half-page response to the article.
“The writer is very aware that many parents of teenagers are not in favor of the music which their sons and daughters are playing.”
So? What’s that got to do with..well…anything at all? Remember, Gothard is giving Scriptural reasons why rock music is evil in any form. What does some people not liking rock music have to do with that?
“What appalling counsel to say, ‘Be willing to listen to your parents’ music. If you parents are willing to listen to your music, it’s nice to meet them halfway.’”
Is it just me, or does this not really count as “appalling counsel”? It seems that “appalling” might be better used to describe this.
“Deception is encouraged by urging the young people to ‘choose carefully the songs to play for them…’”
This is deception? Telling teenagers to think about how to best present something that is important to them is telling them to lie? Wow.
“To say that ‘different generations tend to like different types of music’ is totally disregards the destructive nature of the ‘rock beat.’ This statement also disregards the true meaning of deference. Deference is limiting my freedom in order not to offend the tastes of those God has called me to serve.”
Umm…nope, that’s not what deference means. Deference is “a way of behaving that shows respect for someone or something.” You don’t get to just redefine the English language whenever you want to, Mr. Gothard. Deference is must more than just limiting my freedom; it can also mean respecting a person’s mind enough to discuss a topic you might disagree on. And you don’t get away with talking about the “destructive nature” of rock music just yet; all you’ve done so far is tell us about three teenagers who had negative experiences. You have to present real evidence before you can talk like the case is already closed.
“The conclusion of the article is a blatant defiance of parental authority: ‘Don’t expect too much; you may not convert them to your style of music…your goal is to communicate to your parents why your music is important to you.’”
And there you have it folks, straight from the horse’s mouth; a desire to communicate to your parents why something is important to you is “blatant defiance.”