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Megareligious Bizarre Hyperbreeding

It’s about time that someone from San Francisco blow the whistle on the "pathological...breeding-happy gluttony" that’s sweeping certain parts of our country. (Thanks to Ryan Rakness for sending this article to me.)

Discussions - 33 Comments

Wow. Don’t know what else to say really. That is stuff for the ol’ Democratic Underground and Air America. I knew there were people like Mark Morford, but I just don’t see/hear from them enough here in Wyoming. Although our days here are numbered...we’ve already lost Jackson Hole, Rock Springs, and Green River....

Yep, it isn’t even really about the fact that the Duggar’s have 16 kids, it is that they are Conservative, Christian producing "kidbots" that is so scary. Excellent!

Look, I think the Duggar’s are nuts for having that many kids. I have an 18 month old daughter and one (maybe two) on the way and I have no idea how I’m going to stay on top of everything. But it IS a free country and if people DON’T want to have kids - fine. If people want to have a "quiver full", that’s fine, too, as long as it ISN’T me...

Oh, and we all know that every kid raised by Christian conservatives is a perfect Bible-thumping reproduction of their parents, and every kid raised by peace-loving flag-burning hippies is a rebel. What a crock!

TLC has aired 2 or 3 shows about this family, one of which I saw yesterday, another one airs later this week. The Duggars are truly amazing. The children are homeschooled and have significant family duties. They are also well spoken, well behaved, and cheerful. I cannot emphasize enough how interesting and admirable this family is.
sadly, the article Lawler links to is only the beginning of the vitriol that has been and is being directed at this family. Google "the Duggars" and see for yourself. really sad.

Mark Morford is frightened. He should be.

My only problem is that they have the phrase "extraordinary God" on the front page of their family website.

Isn’t their God the only one,or, do they assert that their God is the best of all the other gods?

Or, are they suggesting that, as a god, their God is much more extraordinary than, say, people? Isn’t that a bit redundant? I hope they run their family better than they construct sentences!

Seriously, that SF writer is one mean-spirited so-and-so!

Wasn’t it John Gibson of Fox News who suggested last year that we (the white folk) have to start having more babies so that mexicans wouldn’t be the majority by the middle of the century?Yes it was.

Mark Morford is a seriously disturbed person. What happened to him to make him so disturbed and angry over the birth of a child? What’s the deal with the angst, dude? I feel even more sadness and compassion for his sick and twisted soul than he feels "phantom vaginal pain" for Michelle Duggar. I grant that I do not think that it would be wise or prudent to urge every family in America to start producing 16 + children--or even 6. But what of it? People would do as they wish to do anyway. On the other hand, I do think it would be very wise for people who do not like such large families to keep their opinions somewhat more private than Morford has done. I could be wrong and--as there are weirdos all over the political spectrum, I’m sure there must be some nut somewhere constructing vicious personal attacks like this against families where there are homosexual parents--but I have to say that the debate over homosexual marriage and adoption is generally treated with much greater respect by conservatives than questions like this are treated by hyper-liberals like Morford. Public expressions like this are, as Morford admitted (albeit, sarcastically), just mean. The real question is, why does the liberal Morford think it is o.k. to be mean? It is not. It is o.k. if your reasoned opinions offend someone, but it is vile and appalling to be mean and personal like this. Don’t people see the difference? On the other hand, Morford has lent neither his cause or himself any credit with this screed.

I’ve written about four responses to the article and to the comments, and can’t seem to get comfortable.

I figure Mark Morford is just trying to be funny at some else’s expense. I don’t think he has a "cause". The only people anyone can be "mean" to anymore, with relative impunity, are fat people, white businessmen and fundamentalist Christians. Now that there are "fat studies" programs, maybe that one is out. I doubt Morford is really that frightened by the Duggar family. The article just plays out better that way.

I was at a wedding shower for a girl who is the second child in a family of eight. She spoke of there being a sort of "club" of people from large families. She said that no one else "gets it". Clearly, even given Deb’s response, above, she’s right. There is, or can be, something wonderful in being part of this type of aggregate. I had not planned on having six children. They came one at a time. So, I had "a child" six different times. It was never the same experience twice, and each child is a different experience, too.

Michelle Duggar must have GREAT pregnancies and deliveries to be able to do that so many times. I found pregnancy horrible and had long and difficult deliveries. If there had not been a new and interesting person at the end of every one of those, I would have stopped having children much sooner.

But that is just it. Each child is so different. It is fascinating to see how different each one can be with the same contributing bodies, as in the musical idea of theme and variations. Each has different talents and interests, but each of us scores in the 97-99 percentile range on the verbal part of standardized tests. Wordplay is big at our house. It’s like our "theme" within the large family category.

I was good at mothering, and one is inclined to continue with such projects when they are going very well. Our church folk tend to have large families, so it did not seem so bizarre, not as Morford puts it. Perhaps Michelle Duggar is just very good at mothering. Why not let her go ahead? It’s not as if there were lots of people doing this, having large families, nor even being good parents. Society ought to be happy to get good parenting where it can.

Go back and check the date on that article by Moford. It’s almost 2 years old. When Moford originally wrote it, it was flamed for days all over the blogosphere.

Yeah, some of these folks went into fits of keening hysteria at the thought of John Ashcroft rifling their check-out lists at the public library via the Patriot Act, but they think it’s okey-dokey to tell a family how many kids they should have. Morford is probably worried that liberals are in an inexorible demographic decline and are gradually being out-reproduced and therefore out-voted. It’s worth pointing out that most blue cities (and SF is the bluest of ’em all) have fertility rates in the European zone. Mark Steyn points out that SF has more licensed dogs than it has school-age children. Morford should relax; the Duggars only "only" have 220% more kids than Nancy Pelosi, the widely praised uber-Mom. :)

Gotta go with commenter Paul on this one!
Egregious as the column is, it’s from 2005 and has already, I’m certain, been exposed for the idiocy it represents.
IMHO, does not belong on NLT here in 2007.

Morford really can sneer, but then liberals are superb at sneering. It’s what they do. That "phantom vaginal pain" really got to me. I looked back at the byline. A man wrote that? What the hell would he know about it? I agree that what really makes him so upset is the Christianity, and probably his growing realization that he and all his trendy, childless friends dressing up their pets and calling themselves "parents" are headed for self-imposed extinction. Producing sixteen presumably healthy children is very cool. Give me sixteen cheerful kids over one or two surly ones any day. It’s evolution in action--in the best way.

Paul and Mike,
The column is 15 months old. oops. I didn’t notice the date. I had never heard of the Duggars before yesterday and assumed that was true for everybody. But, I am not too concerned, this column is actually fairly representative of leftist commentary, most of which is more recent, regarding this family. Morford beat the rush and set the tone...

Morford hates. He hates Christians. white people. "breeders". the masses. the middle class. the under classes. southerners. conservatives. families. babies. But mostly, he hates the mirror.

To Morford, a baseball team’s worth of guys in a hot tub is normal, natural and loving. But a large well-adjusted nuclear family--why, that’s the very height of perversity!

"Let all the babies be born. Then let us drown those we do not like."--Chesterton

I have watched all espisodes of the Duggar Family on TLC. The description that the writer in the SF (Left Leaning) GATE column has of the Duggar family is not the same thing that I saw on TV. Weird...

I’m also sorry I didn’t now how old the column was, but it certainly prvoked you all. The Chesterson program as described by Noel is more honest, although it too has its problems.

"Each has different talents and interests, but each of us scores in the 97-99 percentile range on the verbal part of standardized tests. Wordplay is big at our house. It’s like our ’theme’ within the large family category."

With all that boasting, it seems like you should be able to write better than an 8th grader.

Leftist Hater, call me LIVING PROOF that standardized tests are no measure of literary ability.

But truly, you are right and I never should have put that up. I am in the middle of a raging flu and am about as sharp as pea soup. But it seems as if we multiparous ought to stick together, and the implication that those who have had many children must be of subnormal intelligence begins to gall.

Why should Morford be frightened? As Deb rightly and sarcastically pointed out, not every "kid raised by Christian conservatives is a perfect Bible-thumping reproduction of their parents." Obviously few conservative Christians, let alone fringe fundamentalists, are willing to follow their God’s command to be fruitful and multiply to THIS extent (Imagine if all the Duggar’s kids follow their parents’ example - Jim Bob and Michelle will have 256 grandkids! If the grandkids keep it up at the same rate, Jim Bob and Michelle will have 4,096 great grandkids. Are there 4,000 names that start with the letter "j"?).

It really is depressing how often the "we must out-breed THEM" theme recurs here. The obsessing and hand-wringing about this or that group’s birth rates. I’m waiting to read of your concerns for the Amish threat in our midst - after all, the average Amish family has at least 6 kids!

Kate, you wrote that "[t]he only people anyone can be ’mean’ to anymore, with relative impunity, are fat people, white businessmen and fundamentalist Christians. Now that there are ’fat studies’ programs, maybe that one is out." I really don’t think I buy your premise, but nonetheless, am I to understand that you think it’s a BAD thing, that the list of acceptable societal targets for meanness is shrinking? Are you nostalgic for the good ol’ days, when more people could be treated cruelly?

I was taking in the spectacle of the Duggars website, and I couldn’t help but to notice that one of their "favorite websites" (along with the not-so-surprising sites like Focus on the Family, Family Research Council, and ...sigh...Creation Science Evangelism) is Wholesomewear Swimwear, a company that sells swimsuits that cover most of the body. I’m sure they have a wide spectrum of customers, but I would guess that their swim-dresses are most popular with conservative Christians (not just Amish) and perhaps even some of the more rebellious Muslims, as it’s not too much different than the burqini.
Could this be a starting point for some Christian-Muslim reconciliation?

I also just noticed that Jim Bob Duggar, Republican candidate for Arkansas state senate, recommends "protecting your family by removing books, magazines, television, or internet that have worldly or sensual content." There go the National Geographics!

No, Craig, We need more people like you, who treat everyone kindly.

Yes, I must second Craig Scanlon’s excellent sentiments. The thought of these great unwashed having so many children simply give me hives. Their infantile beliefs in "God" and "decency" are so outdated. They probably don’t even listen to NPR! How are such people permitted to have children at all?

Kate - Rather than answering my question (which was genuine - do you think the list should be getting bigger or smaller? I read a mixed message in your comment; perhaps I perceived it wrongly), you offered some sarcasm, apparently. What exactly did I say, though, that was mean?

"Homo Superior" (dain? Frisk?) - Were those really my sentiments? Did I refer to their religious beliefs as "infantile" (Can infants even conceptualize God? Infants can be precocious, but that seems a bit too abstract for them, I think)? Did I say that decency was "outdated"? And why in the world would I refer to them as part of the "great unwashed"? From what I’ve read, this large brood is so financially secure that Jim Bob doesn’t even have a full-time job (beyond the obvious work with the kids at home). That’s a lot of mouths to feed on a part-time gig! He was an Arkansas state senator for a while and owns several pieces of commercial real estate. Not to mention that having 16 kids make them something rather UNcommon.

Craig Scanlon - I was on the run, yesterday morning, in a literal and maybe even a figurative sense, with no time to argue. As to my first comment, I shoulda stood in bed that day.

You have a knack and a reputation, here, for the cutting, or didn’t you know? So, I did offer you some sarcasm, but with no intent to cut deeply. Consider it a verbal head-scuff.

I confess ambiguity on the question of who ought to be the object of humor.
It would seem to me that it ought to be either all or none. Yet, to say "none" would be to cut back on the pleasures of sarcastic humor. I like all sorts of humor, even the sarcastic; I enjoyed the comment of Homo Superior, whomever he may be. Maybe we ought to be able to poke fun at one another and know that we mean no true offense. But towards the types I mention, I think true offense is often intended. When nationality jokes were common, I knew one man who changed the jokes so that the objects were Assyrians or Scythians, or some such, so as not to give offense. If you knew what he meant it was funny, but many people were just baffled. Even if he’d used nationalities as he had heard the jokes, he would never have meant true offense to those folks nor their nations.

Children tend to follow the political inclinations of their children. I know I have seen a study about that, maybe even cited on NLT. I know a family of twelve, and while a couple of those are still children, most are grown or in their teens (which I think shouldn’t count, because they thrash about so in what they think.) Of those grown, about half the family, only one of the six is off the rails in a political sense. Of my six, I have one who might not vote for a Republican, and he can’t vote yet.

I know I live in a rare crowd that have many children, and maybe we have had the nearby Amish as example. If you didn’t know, the Amish are a Christian sect and very American, which would seem to indicate that they are no threat to "us." However, in spite of the desire for modest swimwear by some Christian fundamentalists like the Duggars, (We used to swim at a lake with the Amish and I never saw an Amish woman in a swimsuit, at all. The men wore their trousers and some also wore undershirts while swimming. Children wore regular swimsuits.) I see no inclination towards a reconciliation between the two faiths, as you suggest. (Isn’t there a new book out about that?) But if you think there is an equivalence between the morality that (most) Christian fundamentalists preach and that of Islamic fundamentalists, well, you just aren’t listening carefully.

Kate, it’s interesting how you’ve changed it, perhaps not so subtly, from "people anyone can be ’mean’ to...with relative impunity" to "who ought to be the object of humor."

Again, what have I said that was mean?

Yes, I’m well aware that the Amish are Christian. I lived in Holmes County, Ohio for over 4 years, so I’m familiar with them. I’m not quite sure what you mean by calling them "very American," though. The reason that they are such a spectacle for most Americans is precisely because they are NOT like most Americans, and precisely because they have not assimilated in many ways (no English at home (!!!), no electricity, no TVs, no cars, no reliance on the industrial food system, no universities - say goodbye to college employment!!- , etc.), including acceptance of the many trappings of modernity that even most non-Amish conservative and/or fundamentalist evangelical Christians have embraced. In other words, if most Americans were to imitate the average old-order Amish (whom you describe as "very American") I think it’s safe to say that the changes to the nation would be much more obvious and substantial than if most Americans imitated your average Muslim-Americans (whom I presume you do not consider "very American"). Also, you should not forget that the Amish are quite pacifist - so what would happen to your War on Terror?

You said that you see "no inclination towards a reconciliation between the two faiths." (Christianity and Islam), but I think that there are more than a few things that conservative Christianity has in common with Islam. It’s not just the swimsuits. Remember the Christian men’s group, Promisekeepers? (They’re still in business, I think) Their attitudes towards the place of women in the home (submissive to the husband, better to stay at home than to have a job outside of it, etc.) are similar. Their absolute insistence on their god being the one, true god is also similar, though, too, and that, unfortunately, might be a contributing factor in preventing any reconciliation. Additionally, I suspect, Kate, that you don’t really WANT there to be any reconciliation between the two faiths.

Kate, check out this news story about how French schools have been swamped with books by Muslim scholar Huran Yahya. His book equates Darwinism and evolutionary theory with...terrorism!!

From the AFP article:

"The book features a photograph of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center with the caption: ’Those who perpetuate terror in the world are in fact Darwinists. Darwinism is the only philosophy that values and incites conflict.’

The theories of Charles Darwin are ’the true source of terrorism,’ it said."

This reminds me of the exchange between Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell after 9/11, when they both agreed that the attack was caused by "the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say ’you helped this happen." (I note in passing that conservative Muslims and conservative Christians share a distaste for gays)

Be sure to check out the (book) author’s website, which, at first glance, could easily be mistaken for a Christian "creation science" or "intelligent design" site. (Would love to get Joe Knippenberg’s take on this!)

To see why this site might represent another window of opportunity for reconciliation between Christians and Muslims, be sure to check out the subsections "The Fossil Exhibition in the Creation Museum," "Jesus Will Return," "Slanders on Muslims in History," "Refutation of Atheism," "Against Terrorism," "Refutation of Darwinism," and "Against Anti-Semitism," for starters. Be SURE to check out the "Jesus Will Return" section, at least just to see a strikingly-produced web page. Yahya’s site also links to the "Islam Denounces Terrorism" site ("Everyone Must Be in Unity Against Terror"), which includes more than a few gems which might be of interest to the NLT gang, such as "The ’Clash of Civilizations’ is the Product of a Darwinist Mindset"

This site is really reaching out to Christians. The battle should NOT be between Christians and Muslims, but between Christians-Muslim-Jews AND Darwinists. What do you think???

I am sorry, Craig, to have lost track of this. I tend to go dim in the dark months. Coherent words come hard, but I am trying today. It is hard in this season to see why anyone would take anything I write seriously. Yet, it is not as if I have some professional reputation to defend, so why should I care? See, it takes me like that. Which makes it absurdly imperative to respond to your invitation to extend this conversation.

As to the Amish, how are they not, and have not, been part of what America is, and evidence of American diversity and acceptance from their earliest days? I know you know, wherein they have not assimilated, but how can they be beat as an example of the religious tolerance of America?

Actually, in our area, they have electricity in their barns, can use generators to heat their homes, carry cell phones, ride in Yankee vans to Walmart - and Middlefield, Ohio’s Walmart has a department just for them - and their children grow up to leave the sect at heart-breaking (for them) rates, as per Deb’s comment above and belying my own later one.

As to reconciliaton between the faiths, if you think the Promisekeeping Christian man’s relationship to his wife, and their idea of submission is the same as the Muslim one - well, maybe you want to look into that a little more carefully before you go broadcasting the idea. I do NOT see where in the Koran there is anything like Paul’s injunction to husbands to love their wives as their own bodies, nor to lay down their lives for them as Christ did for the church, now where Christ says there ought not be divorce. Your Islamic "promisekeeper" has only to repeat "I divorce you" three times and his wife is not his wife. What kind of promise is that?

Well, no apology was necessary or expected, Kate. It was not a big deal that you lost track of this thread (it is just a blog, after all), but I was curious what your response might be to my comments and the links I provided. If you have more to say, I’ll be happy to read it...

You did work hard on the next comment! Craig, it’s going to take me half the morning to get through those sites. Never mind. The morning is more than half gone.

I’m not much on what publicly passes for "Christian leadership" of the sort you mention. I come from an incredibly disorganized church and views on creation science are not held as dogma. I suppose all believe that "god created" but there is a broad variety of opinion on exactly how that happened.

I know and knew of MessianicJews, but had not heard of Messianic Muslims. No, he’s not exactly that as I read his articles. (I’ll have to spread that around as it will be a shock to my friends.) Of course, the guy is a Turk, and DOES he have a great following? His page on himself strikes me as that of an American televangelist. Or they remind me of this guy and this group to which one of my husband’s cousins is devoted. They are very happy, if apparently eccentric in their breads and hair. The robes they keep for special occasions. But I think they do no more harm than the Amish. They also have this in common with the Amish, they purpose themselves to be apart. Therefore the reconciliation with Islam seems unlikely if they are already seeking to be apart from other Christians.

I ought to have written, "Or this reminds me" and "beards and hair." Although it is funnier the other way and a bit true.

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