Friday, September 24, 2010

A Look At Quivering Daughters

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with it, "Quivering Daughters: Hope and Healing for the Daughters of Patriarchy" is a book, written by Hillary McFarland, dealing with life in the P/QF movement and it's impact on the hearts, minds, and lives of young women.

What I'm writing here can't really be considered a "review". I don't think I'm objectively qualified to submit a review. Hillary has become a valued friend, was instrumental in helping me start this blog, and as those of you who know my story may suspect, the subject of her writing in this book is extremely personal to me. If this were a review, I'd be giving the book 10 stars out of 5. Instead, what I'd like to do is offer some thoughts on the book, and some brief thoughts on the opposition that has arisen to it.

First of all, the emotion in the book is powerful. I alternated at times between recoiling, celebrating, absolute anger, and broken heart - but not once did the writing engender apathy. This book has real life in it, real life that's sometimes painful and ugly, but no less real because of the pain and ugliness. Yes, this IS a factual look at the way some people have had to live and still live. Here in America, no less. Not in a third world, Islamic nation. In America, and under the banner of Christianity. It isn't a small slice of a certain demographic, either, but rather a common fruit of the movements discussed. You can't read this book with a genuine desire to seek truth and not be moved by it. If you can, I pity you.

Parts of it were somewhat difficult for me (on a merely personal level), primarily the entries from her own journals that Hillary included to demonstrate the turmoil in her heart. Those entries could've almost been replaced, word for word, with some of the entries in my ex-fiancee's journal. I wish I'd had the understanding of the issues then that I do now. Through the writing of women like Hillary, much of my own confusion about the heart turmoil associated with these movements has cleared. While it leaves me feeling somewhat powerless to help, it does empower me to pray specific prayers, and encourages me to use my own voice in whatever manner God allows. It couldn't have been easy for Hillary to publish these private journal entries. My ex-fiancee presented me with her journal as a Christmas gift, wanting me to read it to come to know her heart more thoroughly. While she wasn't at the place in her journey, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually, that Hillary and other QDs are, she confessed to me the fear she had that I'd reject her. With that in mind, I applaud Hillary (and the other QDs who contributed their stories to the book) for making herself so vulnerable. It was and is immeasurably courageous, and there's no estimate possible as to how many women (and men) will benefit from the experiences shared with the inclusion of these intimate and personal writings.

The epilogue, "Luna of the Sorrows", was especially moving - and beautifully written. The Lord is the master of taking that which is broken and restoring it, and doing so with powerful purpose. In fact, He vigorously and specifically seeks that which is broken, to bind up the wounds, mend the damages, mend the heart, and replace the heavy weight that brought about such things with an easy yoke and a light burden. This section tells a beautiful story.

This isn't a book of theology and isn't intended to be, although an ample amount of scripture is presented in the book and frequently used as a measuring stick. This is a book of real-time heart happening at the speed of life within the patriarchal movement. The scriptural positions taken in the book are sound and solid from my perspective, and attempt, successfully, to demonstrate the heart of God on these issues. God isn't an ominous, mean-spirited elementary school principle just hoping and waiting to give His children a paddling, continually disappointed in our behavior, and continually wearing look of consternation toward us. He's an overwhelmingly loving, overwhelmingly forgiving God who is less worried about what you do and how you perform and more worried about loving you in spite of all the rest. Hillary presents Him as such very clearly.

Kudos and genuine thanks to those who contributed to the book. It was all beautifully done. It's an effort that can consume the heart of the reader in a wonderful way, and I firmly believe it offers both hope and healing to QDs, pointing to Christ from start to finish.

My only "complaint"? That this book wasn't around a couple of years ago, or even better, since the beginning of these movements. I'm very thankful, however, that it's here now. I've no doubt that it's ministering to an enormous need in the body of Christ. My heartfelt thanks to Hillary for taking up the difficult task of going toe to toe with these issues, and I consider it an honor to stand alongside of her, and those like her, in the battle.

Again, if this were a review, this book would get 10 stars out of 5.

Now, to the opposition...

The less than glowing reviews and depictions of this book have all come with their own solution..."IF" these stories of abuse are real (because, miraculously, these folk have never witnessed any such thing), and not just the product of rebellious hearts, QDs should take their issues before proper church authority. So, they suggest fixing authority gone amuck with more authority. For those offering this course of action as the solution, what would be the result of this process in the churches YOU preside over? I don't really think I need to say more, because, upon pondering that question, it's difficult enough for me to keep a straight face.

To my readers here...

If you haven't read this book, I can't recommend it passionately enough. Not just for QDs, either. Everyone would benefit from what this book offers, even if just to be better educated on the subjects it covers. 

For those interested in reading an excerpt, you can read the first chapter HERE.

For those interested in purchasing the book, please visit HERE.

And please visit Hillary's blog,, for more great articles and resources.


  1. ""IF" these stories of abuse are real (because, miraculously, these folk have never witnessed any such thing), and not just the product of rebellious hearts, QDs should take their issues before proper church authority. So, they suggest fixing authority gone amuck with more authority."

    Unfortunately, when things are really bad in a 'christian' home and someone in the church starts to suspect something, the family moves on to another church. I can't tell you how many churches we went to growing up, only that we were never anywhere for an extended period. And the few friends we had, either didn't question, or were themselves enmeshed in the same mess. That describes our two closer family friends. And we were able (forced) to hide all of the criminal activity from them. *sigh*

  2. Heidi...That was true of my former future father-in-law, too. They were somewhat nomadic as far as church involvement for that very reason.

  3. Thank you, Lewis. Very well put. :-)

  4. Great reflections on Hillary's book, Lewis.

    Her book has brought about a lot of healing for me and my husband has read most of it (and I didn't even ask him to) so it's helped him to see and understand some of the things that I deal with all these years later. I've passed the book on to my dad and hope that he will come to see the haunted and tormented mind that I've had to live with for all these years and will gain a true understanding for what we went through as kids.

  5. A lot of the quiverfull people that I was exposed to as a girl, homechurched. They didn't go to "real" churches. There was no authority structure to go through. It is just a handful of dads.

    I am reading this book now and just loving it. My parents dabbled in the movement for a bit, but ultimately left it because they felt it was just too weird. However, just the few years in it had a huge effect on me since I was in those formative years. I get very cynical towards those who espouse these ultra conservative views.

    I am very happy to say that I grew up to have a career and marry a normal Christian man. We have normal kids who go to a normal Christian school and we go to a normal church where you stand up and sit down when you sing normal hymns. We wear normal clothing, too. Off the shelf! LOL. I just love being truly "normative". ;-)


  6. I am very humbled, Lewis. Thank you.

  7. "QDs should take their issues before proper church authority. So, they suggest fixing authority gone amuck with more authority"

    These very churches are the problem not the answer. I lived in that fantasy land for 20 years...they are never going to play that fixing role in anyone's life other than the "life" of the church's extistence. These "churches" exist to sustain themselves, as a group. They drive off the ones that don't fit. When my doomed marriage fell apart, we were excommunicated and I was driven off from two other churches all because "we didn't have a policy in place for how to handle someone getting divorced in our church." Talk about not having discernment/compassion into handling situations one at a time!!! No, it is a fantasy to think that the "church" is there for anyone other than itself.

  8. And people who say that you need to take this to the proper authorities are saying that you don't have a right to speak about your own life!!!!!!

  9. Anonymous...I agree. In the cases of those who've been critical of this book, they're among the most vigorous supporters of the abusive, patriarchal systems. Going to them for help would be like a hot person searching for relief by jumping in a fire. Individuals are expendable for the sake of the system.

    And, well-meaning churches are typically ill-equipped to handle this type of issue (ANY type of domestic issue, really), or, just outright lacking the fortitude to address issues that might require them to break a spiritual sweat. They'd usually rather these things just quietly disappear.

    It's a shame.

  10. I recommend Hillary's book to *anyone*. Especially if you are a homeschooling parent. More often than not, the homeschooling movement is where you are going to run into these false doctrines.

    The patriarchs make it look, taste and smell good. And good innocent people swallow the poison.

    And for me personally, this book was healing to me. My experience is not like Hillary's. I wasn't forcefully raised in this type of philosophy. I subjected myself willingly to it out of my own volition.

    But the fruit of it was the same for me. I had the same feelings that Hillary did.

    Just reading her "emotions" made me feel validated.

    During my worst, I felt like I was the only one in "true Christianity" that felt so horrible. That I was the only one that was "crazy". Everyone else seemed happy and satisfied. Why wasn't I?

    Just reading her account and hearing about others accounts made me feel like I wasn't crazy. That I had *real* issues that were not right.

    It was like a step *out* of the Twilight Zone for me.

  11. These doctrines are not just in QF, homeschools, or home churches. It is everywhere. It just varies in the degress of abuse. When we try to isolate it to one sect or another we produce overzealous CPS agents who abruptly intrude in the wrong homes and it becomes a shambles. I posted my review as well..and yes there are some who are vehemently against her book and they are gravely mistaken. When Lydia Schatz passed away, many homeschoolers defended the Pearl's (author's that teach to use rubber tubing in 'discipline')..which only made them look just as guilty. Anyone who is against spiritual abuse should stand boldly against it even if it is dominant in their movement and they should hold their congregants accountable to be aware and change if they exhibit the same abusive tendencies. We owe it to ourselves and our kids to be aware of Spiritual Abuse and make sure we're not committing this same crime against our own kids. To say these testimonies aren't true is a smack in the face of the victims. Try smacking a little girl for the torment SHE went through when she was labeled as 'rebellious' to the day she died. Sometimes Christianity can become a lethal weapon. So stand up against it and protect your faith by proclaiming spiritual abuse as a real adversary in our families and churches and put a stop to it. How dare anyone say the victims are somehow 'rebellious' for crying out for help.

  12. and for the many victims out're NOT alone..and for those who do stand up and bring awareness, GOOD FOR YOU! It's scary to speak out about this kind of thing and you DO have support. We stand together. ((hugs)) Dr. Martin Luther King Jr stood up too. Rosa Parks stood up! Yes, there is persecution for doing so. But when one is brave, the others gain courage.

  13. "This is a book of real-time heart happening at the speed of life within the patriarchal movement. " Ah, the writer in me swooned at the composition of this sentence. Great word craft, Lewis.

    I listened to Swanson's review of the book, as well as his critique of the child abuse at the missionary boarding school in Fanda. The third party organization that investigated the abuse at Fanda concluded that it was the hierarchical spiritually abusive power structure that set the stage for abuse.

    Incredibly, Swanson rebukes them for exposing this truth! He loves his "authority" power structure so much that even when it is plainly abusive he won't let go.

    Listening to him made me physically nauseous. I had no idea the hate in the hearts of the patriarchs for women and children was so strong. May God deliver his people.

  14. I just want to say, like with environmentalism, homebirth, and eco-feminism,

    these Were originally and Still are Liberal anti-patriarchal movements, it Infuriates me to see them being Hijacked and Colonized by

    religious ASSHOLES.

    The same goes for Home Schooling, of which I have been a home schooler since second grade of my second oldest--

    it is NOT just a neo-con religious culture of education, there are a MAJORITY OF US who are

    Unschoolers [of which I am one], who are Liberal, who are Leftist, who are Anti-religious, who are Pagan, Wiccan, Atheists, Jewish, Muslim, etc etc etc

    that do NOT and never even Heard of Pearl wicked witch of the west whack job or these other Morons with their rubber tubing, they do NOT REPRESENT THE ENTIRE HOME SCHOOL COMMUNITY, NEVER DID AND


    And I am Sick of them being the 'Eye' so to speak of the home school community..they are a MINORITY, they may speak and yell the loudest and wear the most butt fugly clothes at their state capital meets,

    but they are NOT the majority nor the Representative of Home Schoolers--and as a LIBERAL home schooler/unschooler, I WILL LOUDLY PROCLAIM IT HERE, AND ELSEWHERE,


    their 'groups' are small, our Liberal Eclectic Homeschoolers has Far more members, in our state, as well as in other states. Many don't hear about US because we aren't out there publishing books making MEGA PROFITS off of selling "100 ways to beat your child with rubber tubing/iron rods" type of garbage,

    their Profit margin Alone should send Red Flags to anyone with Common Sense, what kind of Insane Charles Manson type of Freak sells books/products pushing iron rods to beat kids with? Under Any religion? Insane folks That's who,


    and it IS infuriating to say the least that the homeschooling community has been silent or withdrawn [mostly due to fear because of these child abusing ASSWIPES] when in fact WE need to speak up,



    and 3. because WE wanted more options and Choice over What our children learned, like science, environmental ecology, music, and History, much of what has been taken either OUT of schools, DUMBED DOWN BEYOND SCOPE OF REASON or revised to 'appease' fascist forms of thought--OR that were simply removed due to admin controls/money corruption and taxes, esp in lower income bracket schools. And last, many of us refuse the ridiculous putting students into boxes, focus on Testing scores rather than on Holistic All Around learning which is better long term AND is more than simply

    regurgitation of spoon fed statist propaganda, Need I say more,

    as a LIBERAL [AND YES LEFTIST] please stop lumping All home schoolers with the loud mouth insane lot of Gothard and Pearls and the rest of those types,

    they do NOT represent home school, nor Parents for that fact. Written on behalf of myself and one thousand More home schoolers that I personally know, who are Liberal, anti-spanking, anti-religious, and Free Thinking.


  15. Although I don't agree with most of what you post here, I am finding it disappointing that people are finding an objection to this book. True, it's not an easy book to read (I'm still muddling through it, slowly but surely), and some issues written in the book are more difficult to digest than others. However, from what I have read so far, I feel that Hilary has done an excellent job of communicating to her audience the abuse that can happen within a religious movement.

  16. Anonymous...I agree. It's very disappointing. At the same time, it's also completely expected.

    The majority of those who are taking issue with this book are people at the forefront of the patriarchal teachings. They're defending their territory, usually with illogical arguments. It would be VERY bad for business if their marketplace were to put stock in this book. Those who teach and promote these systems have little in the way of good intentions concerning any of it. It's about power, money, and politics.

  17. "'These doctrines are not just in QF, homeschools, or home churches. It is everywhere. It just varies in the degress of abuse. When we try to isolate it to one sect or another we produce overzealous CPS agents who abruptly intrude in the wrong homes and it becomes a shambles."

    bingo, we have a Winner...I attempted to post the other day but I was so furious and I'm sure it relayed in my post [no problem with taking it off Lewis, it was a trigger post anyway]

    on two points, these Horrors of the ultra-patriarchal [who are abusing homeschool and other what in Foundation were LIBERAL ideas/practices, they've just Hijacked them to their own evil ends] Should be exposed and this book among many others is one way of doing this,

    However, on the other point, what Does concern me IS the reactionary to this in a way that it tends to generalize and therefore Any thing related to these cults, such as large families or home schooling or sustainable living or home birthing, when those become lumped in with Only being ultra patriarchal Then we have some serious problems...because FACT is, there are numerous folks who are strongly in support of all these types of Alternative choices that are Far from patriarchal, hell many aren't even Christian, should they also be punished because a select segment [which is Obvious that they are violating laws and common social decency] choose to ABUSE alternative lifestyle choices to Further their own Evil Agenda's?

    SisterLisa is correct, these Same abuses are IN the same system that is secular, as one who Lived in a children's home at 14 and grew Up with RA, I know this for a FACT, not from a book, I don't trust the System anymore than I trust these wacko cults. They are the same types of systems, except the labyrinth of the Legal System under Secularism

    is FAR more sinister, especially if you are a child caught under the web of so called Protection. There is a Reason these cults with Full knowledge by the System get By with the child abuse and crap they do---don't kid yourself,

    the ACLU took no qualms in defending a cult that the nation Knew was raping ten year old girls, pedophilia and porn and rape are Always protected under 'freedom of religion',

    where as, teaching creationism is not so protected, etc. The system Utilizes these cults because THEY DO THE SAME THING, the Hellenistic Cults, those so called Elitist fraternities, etc, have their foundation on premeditated rape, sexual abuse and ritual abuse...under pantheon paganism or under a God or Goddess, or under a Satanist type of cult or under the Worship of the god of Science,

    the abuses and the means are the same, as well as is the End goal.

    To the child, woman, it matters not, Who or What 'god' it is, or 'authority', when abused and soul destroyed, one isn't sitting there discerning which is worse, abuse under this god or that's all the same,

    and the sad fact is, in our foster care system and child protection system, there are Just as many abuses that are hidden, protected, and they tragically -re-abuse-the very children that come out of these cults,

    the tentacle isn't the Only culprit, you got to go after the whole dang octopus...


  18. What is in an umbrella? Umbrella: A light small, portable, usually circular cover for protection from rain or sun, consisting of a fabric held on by a collapsible frame of thin ribs radiating from the top of a carry stick or handle. (Word search "fabric" also).

    a. an item that you're depending on that collapses when the wind blows towards you...

    b. an item that you're depending on that inverts when the wind blows against you...

    c. an item that you're depending on, in seasons, when it's man made of man made- material, according to Noah Webster...

    d. all of the above...

    e. none of the above...