Allow me to introduce a companion piece to A Treatise on the Doctor.
It's pretty simple:
Chibnall knows what he's doing and is playing a long game to show how the Doctor needs to take more responsibility.
Let me start off with my favorite examples. That's right, plural.
Every single villain 13 faces is never defeated, merely pushed away from causing them any immediate problems. Tim Shaw being the prime example.
“You immortals - so entitled, so spoiled. You never clear up after yourselves and you always leave stuff lying around.” - Thirteenth Doctor in Can You Hear Me?
1&10) Seriously, Tim Shaw. Her plan was to use his own bombs on him and then teleport him off the planet. Even without Ranskoor Av Kolos, the Doctor should have thought to check in on him. Especially after The Ghost Monument showed the Stenza were a greater threat than she knew. She still hasn't even checked up on WHAT THE HELL THE STENZA ARE! They sound worse than Daleks but naw, let's go rain-bathing in the upper tropics of Canstano instead.
2) Ghost Monument. We saw the END of an interuniversal race. What the fuck is the beginning that got them there? Who is Illyn and how and why did he orchestrate a super race? And what sort of universe is that participating in an interplanetary race is seen as a viable way to support your family?
3) Krasko. Sent back in time. Really, Doc? Not gonna take a look at the device and see where Ryan sent the prick so you can double check that he's not gonna cause anymore damage? (I have a theory that Krasko is The Master in between Gomez and Dhawan but that's for another day.)
4) President Trump analog. Ooooo, you looked at him menacingly, Doc, that'll show him!! Not like he's gonna KEEP DOING ILLEGAL SHIT LIKE THIS.
5) The Pting. She literally shunted it off ship to be dealt with by someone else BUT DOESN'T GO BACK TO BE THAT SOMEONE ELSE ONCE SHE HAS HER TARDIS. That's like leaving a living nuke floating around after sweeping it under the rug while you fly off to Paris.
6) The Pakistani-Indian conflict still happens and millions still die. Not her fault but still....
7) Kerblam. Sure, Charlie's terrorism was solved but not the underlying problem that led to it. Humans still can't work because corporations like profits over people.
8) Similar to the Punjab, how you gonna solve sexism, classism and all the -isms?
9) WHY WAS THE SOLITRACT THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE??!! It's been around since before the universe. Why'd it decide to come back now? It's a whole universe trying to hug our universe to death. Maaaaaaybe we should check out why.
11) She gets a pass on the Dalek. Fucking impossible to eradicate them.
12) The Master!!! Finally she checks up on something after the adventures... and it's horrible. With everything gone to shit in her absence. Seeing a pattern yet?
And Barton? And the Cassaven? They didn't disappear into smoke.
13) Multiple Earths being multiply fucked. Remember when I said the Doctor couldn't solve racism, classism, sexism, or any of the other -isms? Starting to look like she needs to TRY.
14) The Skithra FLY OFF after getting hit by a laser beam. That kind of thing tends to piss people off. Even if they're idiots using other's technology.
15) Jack. The Judoon. The Ruth Doctor. All things I'd start checking out if I had a time machine BUT
16) WE CAN'T cause the TARDIS emergency alert is going off and we need to hurry up and run and solve this problem before we run out of time in our TIME AND SPACE MACHINE. Leading to another problem the Doctor could help solve but won't. Plastic and over-consumption.
17) Oh yeah, let's trap two Eternals from another universe in the same place. There's NO WAY that could ever turn out bad.
18,19,20) And again. Cyberium. Pushed off Shelley onto herself and onto Ashad and onto The Master.
That's almost 20 "enemies" the Doctor still needs to deal with.
Oh, not to mention that they let UNIT go defunct because they didn't have the forethought to ask if they needed any money in their alien fighting budget. After asking for an office, a desk, and a job. Kinda funny that way, aren't they?
I hope by now you've gotten the idea that this is VERY deliberate. This is Chibnall laying down some very heavy pipe to smack the Doctor like a clothesline. There isn't a one of these situations that can't come around to bite her in the ass.
Barton, Roberts, Skithra. These are all very loose strands for a time traveller like the Doctor to get tripped up on. Chibnall's past episodes prove it. They're all about the Doctor learning how to take responsibility.
42: The Doctor almost gets Martha killed and almost gets himself killed trying to fix it.
The Hungry Earth: The Doctor (a thousand year old "adult") tells Elliot (a 10 year old kid) that "Sure it's totally fine to go get your headphones while we prepare for an approaching unknown alien force." And 11 rightfully gets his ass chewed for it by the child's mother when the kid goes missing because OF COURSE THAT'S WHAT HAPPENS, JACKASS!
Cold Blood: I could write an entire essay about the Doctor's guilt over the Silurian/Human conflicts they've witnessed, but I don't need to. Because every single Silurian centered episode written in the new era is from Chris Chibnall. And you can feel the sad knowledge of Classic Who spill through. He KNOWS how many times the Doctor has fucked up with the Silurians (about 8 times in television format. And it's rough everytime. Rough.) and he writes those episodes like an apology on behalf of the whole human race. And the Doctor. You know why people are put off by Warriors of the Deep? 5 releases a gas that melts the Silurians. And though it's cheesy, the idea and execution is still horrible.
Add to that if the Doctor hadn't stopped to check the crack, then Rory wouldn't have waited and been around to be shot then absorbed by the time crack.
Power of Three: An entire episode about how the Doctor has a problem slowing down and really taking account of the lives of their companions.
Dinosaurs on a Spaceship: The Doctor actually tries to be responsible and pick the right people for a job. For once. But gets angry when they realize it's too late and there's another bunch of Silurians they failed to save. Classic!
Like I said, if you can't see the pattern, you're not paying enough attention to your responsibilites.
Which leads me to the why.
When you fly around time and space for thousands of years, you develop a few duties of care along the way. In every situation, you're the oldest. Technically the only adult in terms of experience. You have a responsibility to act a little less rude and be a bit more aware than needing cue cards to tell you that you should be sad about things around you. And that's the purpose of 13. She's unlucky but learning. Like 12 telling himself something with his face he couldn't say out loud, 13's instincts are leading her to a new place for the Doctor: being a caring, responsible person. Not so much laughing hard or running fast, but being kind. It's the one thing they recognized as a problem in themselves when seeing 1. Being a Doctor is about being kinder than that. Just because you HAVE to saw someone's leg off, that doesn't mean you can't wait a little and comfort them before you do it.
You wanna know what gave me every faith in Chibnall showrunning Doctor Who? 13 staying for Grace's funeral.
Do you understand how unprecedented that is? This is the same person who never said Goodbye to Jo Grant as she got married and fucked off into the night. The same Doctor who said, "I don't do domestic.", did it with Rose a regeneration later, and then closed himself off to everyone but a married couple he felt guilty about who ended up birthing his wife. Have you any idea the number of funerals the Doctor should have the common decency to sit through? This many.
So for 13 to stay around for the death of a woman she has only just met and not only that, BUT call out Ryan's father for not doing the same, it shows tremendous character growth. It's taken millennia but they're still changing.
Something similar happens with Rosa and The Witchfinders. Realizing that there a lot of companions who have been in situations that are sometimes worse than aliens, but they still manage to make it through. So she needs to buck it up and persevere for everyone else.
That's where her anger comes from, and really it's one of my favorite traits on her. It reminds me of 7. Someone impossibly old and impossibly kind saying to hell with it and at least having some fun with the evils who drag us through the universe. And just like Cartmel planned for 7, 13's past will come to haunt her.
That's where children come in. Most of us are crying babies to the Doctor.
There's this thing you notice most in British shows about answering the question directly as asked. Someone says "Are you sure?", you answer "Sure". That's a direct acknowledgement that you heard the question, understood it, and processed it enough to respond in a manner directly correlating to the question asked. Yas and Graham got it and said "Sure" but Ryan missed it and said "Deffo". This is like Elliot with the headphones. The Doctor should have immediately been like, "Okay, Ryan, it's obvious that you're still dealing with the trauma of your grandmother's death and probably not processing things on a logical level. I said "Are you sure?" Not "Are you deffo?" Because we are most definitely not deffo, Ryan. Graham, you wanna help here?"
I'm being sarcastic for points sake but you understand the idea. The Doctor knows better and has a responsibility as such. She should've really sat down with Ryan and Graham and seen if there was a better way to process their grief.
Because I'm fairly certain that "Deffo" is gonna lead to Ryan's death and Graham's cancer resurging as time cancer (I don't know what time cancer is. I just know it's bad.)
And that is gonna piss Yas off. Which will give you all that character you think she's missing (she isn't. Her character is in her subtleties and silences.). That's WHY her character is a police officer (like how does no else see that the man who wrote Broadchurch wrote an inspector character companion?) Imagine you're Yaz and you see the Doctor flying around in a big, magic box that says POLICE. As a fellow officer, you're gonna expect some basic safety protocols.
Like do a background check on everyone flying in the TARDIS to know whether they're stable enough (mentally, physically, emotionally) for time and space travel. It's no picnic. These people are going to go through hell. A little vetting and planning like Time Heist or Dinosaurs on a Spaceship goes a long way.
Secondly, full fucking disclosure.
"Oh. I can't die because I change my body. Oh. I have arch enemies that will try to kill and torture us any chance they get. Oh. My home planet is full of the biggest assholes in the universe and I'm including my arch enemies."
Third, police like to do this thing called "check-ups" where they go back to the scene of the crime in order to see if there is any more information that can be gleaned which you might not notice when you are busy running around trying not to be killed... Like, the Doctor has the perfect machine to do this with, but nope. Adventure done, run to the next place!!
These are all things you'd expect any reasonable person to do and say when taking others flying off into time and space and "helping". Even if they are an idiot passing through and learning. Especially when you consider the Doctor is vastly older and more experienced than everyone they encounter. They SHOULD know better. And they've got the lifespan to slow down. It's not like they need to be in a hurry because they're going to die at any moment like humans. The Doctor could easily stay for tea and it would be less than a drop in their lifespan.
Now, as usually is the case when I make these theories, I have a parts 1,2,3,4 and 6. There's allways this 5th piece I miss but I manage to get at the end.
But the 6th piece is the Timeless Child. The Doctor isn't a Time Lord anymore. They're beholden to those people and ideas no longer. Even moreso, those people basically raped her childhood for their own gain so it's not like you'd really listen to them and their "policy of non-intervention".
I'm sensing a coming Trial of a Time Lord season (even believing these two seasons are the opening statement and preliminary evidence of the trial itself) wherein the Doctor finally gets the turnaround 6 deserved. A Trial of the Time Lords, if you will. "In all my travels through time and space I have battled against evil, against power-mad conspirators. I should have stayed here! The oldest civilization: decadent, degenerate and rotten to the core! Power mad conspirators? Daleks, Sontarans, Cybermen — they're still in the nursery compared to us! Ten million years of absolute power: that's what it takes to be really corrupt!"
This is what it's all coming down to. Chibnall's takedown of the Time Lords. And The Master is going to play the most crucial role of all.
They're going to be revealed as an Ux alongside the Doctor and show how the only constants they have in this universe are each other and it's about damn time they work together and tell these high collars to eat Schitt while they explore every star and planet they can find.
Come on, the episode is called The Timeless "Children". If it was just the Doctor it'd be called "The Timeless Child". The Master says as much with the misdirect line, "built on the lie of the Timeless Child." since we see two kids playing in that flashback.
"Since always. Since the Cloister Wars, since the night he stole the moon and the president's wife, since he was a little girl. One of those was a lie, can you guess which one?"
Now we know which one was a lie, we know the Master HAS known the Doctor since they were a little girl. THAT little girl...
But this is all just speculation. It's not like Chris Chibnall could have been thinking about this for the past 40 years and was given a blank slate to do whatever he wanted for five years on his favorite TV show. If y'all want to think he took those reigns and is choosing to make things worse...
Well then you don't know much about responsibility. How 'bout I just let the man himself tell you.
"Very early in my career,” says Chibnall, “someone told me that you learn more from a failure than you do from a success. And then I lived out that phrase for a year in Los Angeles. I learned that I would not work that way again or be put in that situation again.” The essential lesson was: “You either have to be in total control of a show or working with people who share your vision and will work with you to achieve it. Also, never work with 13 executive producers.
“Camelot was the classic case of too many cooks. It wasn’t a harmonious set-up and I think that does manifest itself on screen.
“I had a fantastic cast but you have to be free to tell the story you want to tell in the way that you want to tell it. What ended up on screen was not what I wanted and so it is a blemish on my CV.”
Hi all -- for the past few weeks, I've been occupying my hours of quarantine boredom by reading several of the literary masterpieces written by Real Housewives
cast members and sharing write-ups of my perilous adventures with the BravoRealHousewives
subreddit. But -- at my core -- I am nothing if not a glutton for punishment. So when u/acoffeycup
suggested that I crack open my copy of Growing Up Duggar
and do my best to decipher the wisdom within, I couldn't turn down the challenge. And in this newfound spirit of evangelism, it seems only proper for me to share the fruits of my journey with your pliant and receptive ears. So pull up a chair, scoop yourself a big ol' slice of tater tot casserole, and listen in respectful reverence to my personal testimony of Jana, Jill, Jessa, and Jinger Duggar's 2014 book, Growing Up Duggar: It's All About Relationships.
On the book's cover, the four eldest Duggar daughters smile placidly at the reader, bedecked in a dignified assortment of denim and denim-adjacent garments. Yet even within these constraints, our feisty fashionistas still find ways to express their own unique aesthetic sensibilities. Jinger, for example, sports an early iteration of her now-iconic blazer, opting to emphasize her youthful spirit through whimsical cap sleeves and a precious baby-doll waistline. Next to her, Jessa stares soullessly into the camera, and -- almost against my will -- I find my eyes drawn to her hypnotic gaze. But thankfully, before I am sucked too deeply into that most barren abyss, I am distracted by the smattering of small pearlescent buttons adorning what might otherwise be mistaken for a extra-small mechanic's shirt, and I seize the chance to move along to the next Duggar offspring at hand.
Jill's silhouette is by far the most avant-garde of the foursome, perhaps foreshadowing her oft-hypothesized rebellious inclinations. A tunic-length dress is cinched cheekily above her waist with a thick, woven belt, while a long denim underskirt fully obscures her sheepish shins. In the back right corner, Jana jazzes up a simple tee with a bold statement necklace ostensibly purchased from the clearance section of Earthbound Trading Co., the perfect compliment to an exotically hemmed skirt that I can only assume has been sewn together from the tatters of Duggar rags past.
Eager to learn what invaluable wisdom these pages hold, I impatiently open to the book's introduction -- welcomingly titled, "Greetings: From Our Hearts to Yours." As I begin to read, I am heartened to learn that there is hope for each and every one of us, "whoever you are -- whether you're the girl we met who goes to a Christian school and attends church three times a week but is still struggling inside, or the girl with five tattoos and multiple piercings." Yes, whatever sins you may have committed in your ungodly ignorance -- provided, of course, that you have not yet blighted your body with that accursed sixth tattoo -- the Duggar girls hold a special place for you in their hearts:
Even though we have never met most of you reading this book, we want you to know we love you and care about your future. We want to share our stories with you, knowing you have a story, too, and hoping something we say here might empower you to use your story, your life, to help others.
The Introduction continues with a brief summary of the Duggar Family timeline, in which we are informed that "Mom and Dad look at life as a race against time." This seems to me a bit incongruous with the whole 'eternal life' thing, but perhaps Jim Bob and Michelle were affected by the hit 2002 film Clockstoppers
just as strongly as I was. I am also excited to learn that I will soon get the chance to hear more about the authors' "passion for being involved in the political realm," as well as their "commitment and desire to reach out to people in faraway countries." With a few concluding remarks emphasizing the importance of relationships, the introduction comes to an end, and we begin the book proper with Chapter One: "Your Relationship with Yourself: Getting to know and love the girl in the mirror."
We are informed that "Jana and I (Jill) sleep in double beds with our youngest sisters, Jordyn and Josie, and the other girls sleep in twin- or youth-sized beds," which seems as good a time as any to clarify that our authors ranged in age from twenty to twenty-four years old at the time of this book's publication. But if you find yourself pitying the cramped conditions of the Duggar daughters, think again! Not only is it a delight to spend so much time surrounded by siblings, but the elder girls are often led towards profound truths by the innocent remarks of babes. To illustrate this point, Jill recounts a scene in which a young Johannah asked to wear her sister's retainer. Wise beyond her years, Jill gently denied the request, explaining that the retainer had been made to fit her mouth and couldn't be worn by the small girl (a small blessing, as I can absolutely imagine the Duggar family passing down a single retainer from child to child for a decade or more). But what sagacious insights should we glean from this touching tale?
Thinking about that conversation later reminded me that we can't conform ourselves to other people's molds. But we try sometimes, don't we?
It's so comforting to remind myself that I was molded for Jesus's mouth only -- why would I try to adapt to the crooked canines of this fallen world? We are next provided with a list of "ten aspects of life" that God wants us to accept. These range from the blatantly problematic -- "whether we're a girl or boy" -- to the bafflingly sinister -- "the date we will die." When it comes to the more physical aspects of your aesthetic presentation, however, a lack of effort is unbecoming. Or, as the Duggar Girls reminisce:
We heard a pastor say one time, "Any ol' barn looks better with some paint on it!"
The girls also explain their convictions regarding modest attire -- "we want to be respectful of those around us." Personally, I've always attempted to show respect to others by presuming that they have the emotional and cognitive wherewithal to avoid turning into some kind of raving hormonal beast at a bit of tasteful sideboob. But that's why I'm not the one writing an advice book!! Thankfully, in this day and age, a number of options exist for those who want to be both chic and chaste. For example:
Several of our friends have purchased stunning dresses from designers such as www.beautifullymodest.com or www.totallymodest.com.
I'm rather partial to inordinatelymodest.com myself, although the sales at bewilderinglymodest.com just can't be beat! But our gracious authors bring us back down to earth, reminding us that there are far more important things in life than the frivolous fads of fashion -- namely (as we begin Chapter 2), "Your Relationship with Your Parents: Love, respect, and communication."
In order to facilitate these crucial lines of open and honest communication across such an innumerable brood, we learn that Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar have made the radical decision to carve out dedicated time for one-on-one conversations with each child -- "usually on one Saturday a month." These precious monthly check-ins with one (or, on a particularly special occasion, both!) parents provide an opportunity for otherwise scant face-to-face contact, and also allow the Duggar parents to exercise some of their more cutting-edge parenting techniques. For example, our authors let us in on one particularly hard-earned pearl of wisdom practiced by their beloved parents -- "often to help get the conversation going, they'll ask us questions."
With such a lofty standard being proffered, I understand how intimidating it may be to even attempt to incorporate such advanced strategies into your own parenting repertoire. But rest assured -- in case you have yet to acquire the child-reading confidence necessary to formulate such thoughtful queries on your own, I've taken the liberty of transcribing a few of the book's most incisive inquiries to help you parent like a pro.
How's your thought life going?
What things about your past would you like to change?
What things in our family discourage you?
"Discouraging" is exactly the word I would use to describe Michelle Duggar's bedragged coiffure, although something tells me that's not exactly the kind of confession that line of questioning is designed to draw out. A subsequent passage emphasizes the importance of obedience, which we learn should be "instant," "cheerful," "thorough," and "unconditional." Such instruction is necessary, as the Duggar Girls explain, because "we are all born with a sin nature." Similar to the appendix, the "sin nature" is a vestigial organ that humans retain as a remnant of our distant evolutionary past -- at least, according to the heathens who indulge in that sort of paleobiological storytelling. And if such instructions still seem overly domineering to your unenlightened mind, this adage from
George Orwell's 1984
the Institute in Basic Life Principles may help reframe your mindset:
Obedience is the freedom to be creative under God-given authority.
We transition from this doubleplusgood quote into the next chapter: "Your Relationship with Your Siblings: Becoming best friends," in which the authors waste no time in assuring us that the Duggar siblings "range from outdoorsy types to computer geeks, animal lovers to bookworms." Plus, I can only assume, a brain, an athlete, a basket-case, a princess, and a criminal. We go on to learn that the clan represents "a diverse assortment of personalities, interests, strengths, and weaknesses." Which sounds suspiciously like the noncommittal vagueness of someone who has never before possessed a character trait more forceful than, perhaps, a vague appreciation for wainscoting. Inevitably, however, these differences in temperament lead to vicious conflict. For example, as Jessa tremulously recounts:
An incident many years ago served as a lesson to us all. A younger sibling asked, "What kind of ice cream are you getting?" and the frustrated older sibling replied, "You don't have to always copy everything I do! Why don't you just pick out your own flavor?"
Mom immediately took that older sibling aside and shared how much hurt and devastation a remark like that causes. […] Apologies were made, and the younger sibling readily forgave. The older sibling resolved to never speak demeaning words like that again but rather to embrace and uplift this sibling, and today, these two continue to be the best of friends.
I find it truly inspirational to know that even this -- the most unimaginably devastating of sibling brawls -- could be delivered from the brink of schism and restored to genuine affection. Yet it is not just sibling relationships that must be navigated with this sort of grace and levelheadedness. No, as we learn in the next chapter -- "Your Relationship with Friends: 'Show me your friends, and I'll show you your future'" -- it is important to shrewdly evaluate our friendships to assess their effects in our lives. To illustrate this point, the Duggar Girls encourage us to be mindful of the influence we exert over our loved ones.
Think about your last conversation with your friend. Did it lovingly challenge him or her spiritually?
I think back to a time when a dear friend lovingly challenged me to take edibles and re-watch the first season of Double Divas
-- surely this is the kind of spiritual development that a true confidante should inspire! The authors also relay a parable that their parents shared with them as children to demonstrate the importance of standing up for your convictions. In the apocryphal tale, a young girl begs her father to allow her to attend a friend's slumber party. He agrees -- provided she promises to uphold her Christian morals -- and sends her off after a parting moment of prayer. But what began as a carefree romp soon turns sinister, as the chilling saga continues:
The party was lots of fun, and the girl had a great time playing with her friends. And of course, what is a birthday party without a big piece of cake and a scoop of vanilla ice cream? But late that night, before bed, the mom suggested they have a "pretend séance" using a Ouija board.
When the girl heard what this involved, she said respectfully and quietly to the group, "I'm not going to be able to do this."
When the mom asked why not, the girl replied, "I've given my life to Jesus, and I'm not able to do things like this."
The mother was stunned by the little girl's words -- and by her quiet courage in speaking up for her beliefs. She packed up the Ouija board and suggested the girls play something else before bed.
And that mother's name? Albert Einstein. But truly -- I can only hope to one day have even one fraction of the courage shown by this young girl, in this absolutely true story that definitely without-a-doubt one-hundred-percent happened. A more believable anecdote quickly follows, however, this time starring a young Jim Bob Duggar
in the role of "huge nerd".
Dad became a Christian when he was only seven, and one day when he and some other little grade school classmates were out on the playground, one of the boys started using God's name as a curse word. Dad quietly told the boy he wished he wouldn't misuse God's name. "After all," Dad told his little friend, "He's the One who made us and loves us."
Following in her father's smarmy footsteps, Jessa encourages the reader to eschew those friends who are only concerned with "watching all the newest movies, listening to the latest pop music, and judging others whom they deemed 'not cool.'" We are also treated to the compelling account of an accident at one of the family's rental properties, in which several cases of energy drinks exploded within a warehouse. By the time this tragic mishap was discovered weeks later, "the energy drinks had actually eroded away a layer of the concrete
-- in some places, a half-inch deep!" The moral of this story, as we are solemnly advised, is that "the same thing happens to us when we spend lots of time with 'friends' who may seem sweet and appealing but who are exerting a harmful influence on our hearts." I would have thought a more telling moral would have been "Probably don't drink energy drinks" (or perhaps, "Check on your rental properties more frequently"), but I digress.
Our rollicking ride continues with another of Jim Bob's classic legends: "the story of a nice, likeable young man who grew up in a Christian home but eventually became a drug addict." Eyes wide with horror at the very thought, I read on. After making the grave error of surrounding himself with people whose "sole purpose in life was to 'have a good time,'" this unnamed man soon finds himself ensnared in a perilous trap. Then, on one fateful night, he attends a party and is handed a beer by a passing stranger.
At first he just stood there holding the beer in his hand, smiling and contemplating what he would do. He had never had a desire to drink, but he did not want to feel like an outsider, so when no one was looking he poured half the beer into a nearby potted plant. A little later his friend came by and said, "You didn’t drink any, did you?" Then, grabbing the bottle out of his hand, he noticed that it was half empty. "Hey, guys, he's one of us!" the friend announced to everyone.
Shorty after that the young man started drinking; later he got introduced to drugs. How sad that one, seemingly small decision started him on a path of self-destruction.
I can only assume the rest of that pivotal party went more or less like this.
A bone-chilling illustration of just how slippery a slope can be!
We move along to a more cheerful topic in Chapter Five, which switches gears to focus on "Your Relationship with Guys: Saving yourself for the one God has for you." Here, too, we are greeted by the eternal words of our communal patriarch-in-spirit, JBD:
About the time we entered our teenage years, Dad told us a story about a girl he went to school with in elementary and junior high school who was boy-crazy. […] He said he wondered at that early age if eventually this girl would find Mr. Right or if her habit of throwing herself into relationship after relationship would prove to be preparation for a future unstable marriage.
Sadly enough, when this girl finally got married, it didn't last long, and that same pattern of discontent, insecurity, and self-centeredness that had affected her dating also affected her marriage.
Prior to today, I would have found it hard to believe that anyone else could be quite as smugly infuriating as Jim Bob Duggar. But -- if even half of the stories I've read in this book so far are to be believed -- he's gotten only more mellow with age. It's a level of condescending smarm I wouldn't tolerate from a distant great-aunt desperate for an heir to her vast fortune, let alone from the insufferable schoolboy herein described. Nevertheless, my thoughts and prayers go out to this pitiable Jane Doe -- our nation's epidemic of Boy-Craziness has wreaked havoc on so many communities, no doubt the devastating consequence of 5G, vaccines, and/or the 19th amendment.
In order to avoid such dangerous impulses, a responsible woman should take care to abstain from romance novels -- "they paint a picture of an unrealistic, unobtainable relationship." I'm not exactly sure what part of Her Country Star Billionaire Groom
seems so "unrealistic" to these narrow-minded nincompoops, but I'll table that conversation for another time. We have more important things to attend to at the moment. Namely, the continuing explanation that, for women, romance novels do "the same thing pornography does to men." I'm grateful for this analogy -- as the most delicate of damsels, I'm not even really sure what pornography is
, let alone what about it those mysterious menfolk could possibly find so stimulating! But I do
know that warm tingly feeling I get when I cuddle up late at night with a thick, beefy Harlequin Romance!
Alas, it is this very indulgence may prove to be my undoing! As we soon learn:
When a girl reads romance novels, she's doing something very similar [to watching pornography], drawing perfectionistic, romantic pictures into her mind of what she thinks marriage is.
This is a sentiment that, prior to the publication of the book I hold before me, had been most recently proffered by the famed Scottish wordsmith Charlotte Lennox in her 1752 novel, The Female Quixote
, and I appreciate our authors for bringing light to such an underrecognized talent. The Duggar Girls continue our intellectual escapades with a reminder that "God put that deep need to be loved and accepted in our hearts so that He
could be the one to fulfill it." As an astute pupil of the cultural arts, I immediately recognize this approach as step three of the D.E.N.N.I.S. System
For this vast array of reasons -- as eager as we may be to
go to pound-town
tie the knot -- we are cautioned to remain patient until our fated suitor arrives, engaging ourselves in trivial, non-threatening pursuits like "teaching younger girls" or "seeking out ways to bless others through ministry." We should also make it a priority to hone our skills of resistance when it comes to those worrisome "intrusions of lust" that Satan embeds within even the most innocent of minds.
We like to think of [these thoughts] as a live hand grenade coming our direction, and before it explodes we quickly pick it up and throw it right back at the devil.
I can only assume that this what Bruno Mars was trying to convey with his hit song, "Grenade" -- the intertextuality never ceases to amaze me! The Duggar Girls go on to demonstrate their dexterous command of the metaphor -- "We give God the position as 'boss' and 'ruler' of our lives, and we release the 'steering wheel' to His control." -- before highlighting ways to serve God regardless of your marital status. For example, "visiting places like Honduras and sharing the gospel with villagers is a ministry opportunity our family greatly treasures." And by "places like Honduras," I'm sure they mean, "places with countless centuries of rich cultural heritage ravaged by colonial conquest and its lingering effects," and not "places where brown people live." Pretty sure, at least.
But even once you've managed to attract the attentions of your future beloved, you must take care to guard yourself from falling too quickly. To ensure that you don't award your affections to an unworthy suitor (thus irrevocably tainting your eternal purity), the Duggars suggest asking the following questions:
Is his passion in life for earthy money or for eternal riches and rewards?
Does he have a vision for his life of doing great things for God?
Is he a man of character, showing initiative, creativity, diligence, enthusiasm, and wisdom?
I'm 99% sure that "initiative, creativity, diligence, enthusiasm, and wisdom" are the primary attributes from a knockoff version of Dungeons & Dragons -- who knew the Duggar girls were so into RPGs? (I guess they did warn us earlier that some of the family members are "computer geeks").
In the next several passages, the authors explain the "very real and very purposeful differences" between dating (bad!) and courtship (good!). First, they highlight a number of treacherous threats that pervade modern romantic culture.
A danger of modern dating is that it is typically two young people, alone, enjoying an activity. Usually a guy invites a girl out to a nice restaurant or some fun place or event. They enjoy a carefree time without the responsibility of the normal tasks and pressures of life.
I'm almost too overcome with terror at the thought of such a wretched situation! But somehow, (mostly by channeling the immeasurable determination of someone only allowed to show affection through three-second side hugs) I find the strength to read on. But to my despair, even more tragedies await me! As we are instructed to imagine:
What could be worse than having to tell your potential future husband that not only did you not wait but that you also have a severely painful STD that he will likely get if he marries you?
Not a SEVERELY painful STD?! But idk, lots of things could be worse than that, probably? Maybe it's just my overactive imagination, but it seems like you could knock out that whole conversation in one night over a bottle of wine, particularly given ongoing advances in modern medicine. But it seems I still have more to learn -- as I soon read:
Physical intimacy in marriage is pure, wholesome, and beautiful. Outside of marriage, it spreads disease, death, and destruction.
I've never really thought of myself as a "sower of destruction" before, but…I don't hate it. I'm kind of looking forward to seeing what kind of casualties ensue the next time I have sex with my live-in boyfriend. As they say, nothing spices up the sex life like ascending to your thrones as eternal agents of pestilence and devastation!
Our next tip for identifying an ideal mate encourages "meaningful conversations about history, politics, theology, and such" -- I can only assume that the extensive footage of this intellectual discourse is edited out from the family's show at the demands of tyrannical production companies. But while those easily titillated minds might prefer to focus on worldly concerns, our authors are courteous enough to remind us of what truly matters. While he doesn't have to be "the best-looking hunk of human flesh ever created," it is vital that any potential partner practice "the fine old art of gentlemanly chivalry." As the Duggar Girls explain,
A gentleman's courtesy is not about women being weak or strong: it's about men needing to be men.
Jim Bob, as one would expect, exemplifies these virtues. We are regaled with recollections of his many demonstrations of decorum throughout his storied marriage:
Years ago, he was working on honoring Mom in several specific ways, including remembering to open the car door for her.
As soon as I finish reading this book, I'm going to get right to work on a list of specific ways that my boyfriend can work on honoring me -- I'm sure he'll be very appreciative for the guidance!
However, before I can get to that, I must tackle my next lesson: "Understanding What Christian Guys Look For in a Future Wife." Based on an admittedly "small and totally unscientific survey" of their male acquaintances, the Duggar Girls are able to share with us a few explosive secrets. For example, the ideal wife "has a hunger and thirst after righteousness" and promises to "faithfully help [her husband] grow deeper spiritually." What's more, she should also be "involved in some sort of ministry -- preferably music ministry." The chapter concludes with a convenient list of commitments for the reader, including pledges to "choose wholesome activities" and avoid "bad Internet sites."
In Chapter Six, the Duggar Girls lead the reader to examine "Your Relationship with Culture: Making choices that will keep you pure." Almost immediately, we are cautioned that
With just a few clicks of a keyboard, the Internet gives us the ability to research any subject. But it also has the potential to destroy the souls of those who get entangled in its dark side.
And lest you think this is hyperbole, our authors reiterate that "it is not a matter of if
Satan will try to tempt us." As a thought exercise, the reader is encouraged to reflect: "would your Internet choices be the same when you were all alone as they would be when someone were sitting beside you?" In particular, the girls draw attention to the seedy underbelly of harmful gossip sites, breezily brushing off these piteous busybodies with the following bit of clever wordplay:
We've heard that some discussion boards or chat rooms might be better named bitter rooms because those drawn to them often seem rather bitter.
As our quipsters continue, "unfortunately, some people seem to derive much pleasure from nit-picking other people's lives." Thankfully, I derive my pleasure from nitpicking other people's books
, so I'm totally in the clear on this one! Our authors encourage us to reform these renegade impulses by explaining that when we stop wasting time on mindless pursuits, we'll find ourselves becoming more productive, enterprising individuals. As a result of this ideology, we learn that "by age ten, John was working on and operating heavy equipment." I'm unimpressed -- call me when you've got a three-year-old on woodchipper duty. Regardless, it is clearly far safer than its petrifying alternative -- exposure to the horrors of television.
And what, pray tell, might these horrors be? Magic -- "which often shows up in children's movies" -- is revealed to be "part of a demonic realm that God wants us to stay away from." As the authors solemnly intone, "as harmless as it may seem, it's not a joke in God's eyes." Graciously, the Duggars have deigned to provide several reliably pure entertainment options:
many of the old classics that promote honesty, respect of parents, and reverence for God
educational documentaries that teach about science and history from a biblical perspective
many carefully selected episodes of The Andy Griffith Show as long as they are not centered around a lot of romance or deceptiveness, as some of them are
With regard to making appropriate music choices, "much prayerful consideration" is required, lest we "bring a blot to the name and character of the God we represent." However, in order to guide our future reflections, the Duggar Girls go on to provide a helpful technique for assessing acoustic chastity.
Soon after Mom became a Christian at the age of fifteen, a friend encouraged her to write out the lyrics of questionable songs and then compare them to the truths found in the Bible. For instance, if a song's lyrics are saying, "Follow your heart. Do what feels good," we compare it to the Bible and find that […] we're not supposed to follow our hearts, as that will only get us in trouble.
I suppose that means I'll have to rethink my upcoming single, "Follow Your Heart (Do What Feels Good)," but that will have to wait until I've fully absorbed all the insights this book has to offer. For example, as I read on, I learn that I should be particularly suspicious of "rock 'n' roll and its variations such as hard rock and heavy metal." As the authors expound:
Since its beginnings in the 1950s, this music's main goal and purpose have been to promote every one of the issues we want to avoid. A heavy backbeat and words being sung in a breathy and sensual voice -- and even the style of rock 'n' roll music itself -- give off an attitude of rebellion, resistance toward authority, and a rejection of morality. None of these things come without consequences.
Lest you think that our authors are merely being alarmist, they go on to explain that when they "examined the lives of many of these artists," they were dismayed to conclude that "the life expectancy for rock artists and musicians is around forty; many of them die at a young age for reasons related to AIDS, drug or alcohol abuse, or suicides. It's a tragic reality." Far less perilous to enjoy "classical music and traditional hymns," as they are known to "follow a pattern and maintain a very distinct and definite order."
With this final injunction, we move on to the volume's penultimate chapter, "Your Relationship with Your Country: Making a difference in the political arena." My attention is instantly captured by the opening sentence, which informs the reader that "God used a series of supernatural events to clearly lead our family into making a difference in the world of politics." The "supernatural event" in question turns out to be the undeniably divine miracle of Jim Bob Duggar…finding out about a rally against "partial-birth abortion" and then…attending it. I can only imagine how much more wondrous the world must seem if such a banal and explainable episode is sufficient to incite veritable fits of exaltation.
But this portent is just the beginning of Papa Duggar's political career, and I read on to learn even more about "the values Dad stood for." Although this lineup presumably does not include any sort of commitment to avoiding sentence-ending prepositions, it does include a promise to vote "the right way on life-and-death issues."
Before long, Jim Bob "felt God urging him to run for the US Senate," and although he loses the election, publicity from the campaign eventually brings about the family's first taste of national media attention. After much prayer and "wise, godly counsel," the family agrees to be filmed for a reality show -- "we agreed to do it based upon our hope that it would enable our family to share encouraging Bible principles with many other people." And indeed, the family now receives "hundred of letters and e-mails" per week from viewers who have been "spiritually challenged" by watching the series.
But rest assured -- "Dad's loss in that Senate campaign did not end our involvement in politics." If you, too, would like to follow our authors' example and become more civically engaged, you could "find a conservative Christian who is running for office and then call and ask them where he or she stands on the issues." I suppose I should give them a modicum of credit for the inclusive phrasing, "he or she," but the fact that I don't have the slightest doubt as to the intended meaning of "the issues," prevents me from even a half-hearted endorsement of this sentiment.
Blessedly, however, we've reached our story's denouement -- a final chapter entitled, "Your Relationship with the World: Developing a servant's heart." Jill tearfully recounts a ministry trip to El Salvador, taking care to highlight the contrast between the "iron-barred windows" of government orphanages and the "love-filled" Christian facility the group goes on to visit. What accounts for this stark discrepancy? "They've fed these children not only with food for their tummies but also food for their spiritual lives." As Jessa quips, "It is so neat to see how God works." Of course, as you might have suspected, the Duggar Girls quickly realized that, "as with every trip, it was clear that we
were the ones who'd gotten the biggest blessings." Truly -- the engagement you get from an Instagram post featuring a bona fide orphan is worth more than any financial reward one could ever hope to gain on this mortal plane!
We next learn about Jill and Jana's experiences with the local volunteer fire department. Mercifully, this endeavor doesn’t necessitate as many Rugged Man Skills as you might assume, and the two are able to respond to such dainty predicaments as "a little old lady's cat stuck in a tree" and "a kid with his lip stuck in a sippie cup" without jeopardizing their feminine delicacy. Jill next shares more about her journey with midwifery. As she reassures us, it's not just "Christian, homeschooling moms" who opt for home deliveries, but "single moms" as well!
Jana, in contrast, tells us that she "[feels] called to focus on childbirth coaching and prenatal preparation instead of 'running the show,' as Jill does so competently when she serves as midwife." And Jinger has been called to minister at "the juvenile detention center in our area," which she fashionably abbreviates as "juvy" to highlight her comfort with urban vernacular.
As I read on, I learn more about the Duggar family's love of music, which is far more diverse and expansive than one might initially assume. For example, did you know that the Duggars "enjoy traditional music as well as classical," or that a young Joy-Anna was encouraged to undertake the daring pursuit of "[learning] to play the violin 'fiddle-style'"?
As these examples illustrate, God's gifts can take a myriad of forms! For this reason, we go on to learn about the importance of "learning how to give an enthusiastic, friendly greeting to others." This technique is a surefire way to spark a deep and meaningful conversation with anyone you may encounter. And, in the most dire of emergencies, "we know we can shoot up a little flare-prayer and God is always able to give us the words to say." However, one should always take appropriate caution "not to be too overly friendly with people of the opposite gender, as that can send the wrong kind of message!"
As luck would have it, we have only to look to the Duggar parents to find examples of more decorous ways to approach intimate dialogues. As we learn:
Many times our parents have guests over and then ask if it would be okay if we watch one of Jim Sammons's Financial Freedom Seminar messages together from embassyinstitute.org and then discuss it afterward. Once they watch one message, most people want to go through the whole series.
With a few final nuggets of wisdom, the volume comes to a close. The authors graciously offer an obligatory apology for daring to burden the reader with their inane female ramblings -- "Thank you for sticking with us through this super-long chapter!" As they continue:
We know we've shared a lot of concepts about relationships, but it is our prayer that God will direct and encourage you as you begin to make them part of your own lives.
As you go off and begin your own personal journey towards relationship rapture, you may find encouragement in the idea that -- despite their celebrated name -- the Duggar Girls are not just some faceless paragons of virtue. As the author biographies on the back inside cover remind us, these are regular people, with their own unique interests and capacities. While Jessa might be found "memorizing scripture" or "discipling friends," Jill would rather spend her time "counseling girls via phone, text, in person, or email." Jana "stays busy managing the family mailroom," and Jinger? She's "always full of energy, that is, when she has a cup of coffee in her hand!"
And with that cheeky witticism, I close the book and begin my quest towards docile, denim Duggarhood -- I wish you nothing but blessings as you enter this season of life!