Friday, May 29, 2015

A Once "Fondled-by-a-Friend" Girl Defends Joshua Duggar



Let’s get this straight:  Joshua Duggar, the 27-year-old eldest son of the “19 and Counting” Duggar clan, has recently been ousted for “fondling the breasts and genitalia” of 4 sisters and a friend 13 years ago when he was a 14-year-old minor.  Since the information and Joshua’s subsequent apology came out, there has been a media firestorm against the entire Duggar family run with the intensity of a witch hunt.  

A few questions we should all ask ourselves:  Would the media have latched onto this case if the offender was female?  How about if the offender was a "Clinton" or an "Obama," rather than a "Duggar?"  Not to imply Chelsea or either of the Obama girls in any scandal, but you do see my point — don’t you?  Suppose information leaked that Chelsea Clinton had engaged in “sexual touching” over a decade ago when she was a teenager.  Media outlets would have turned the other cheek.  They’d have ignored the information out of respect for Chelsea and her family.  They would have pardoned her because she’s female and because the error occurred when she was a minor.  Had any media outlet reported the information, the outlet itself would have been decried for its poor taste.

Of course, I realize the irony of the Joshua Duggar story in light of the fact that his family has taken a very public stance for chastity (they’re against premarital sex, artificial birth control and gay marriage). Their adult children, including Joshua, have even gone so far as to not kiss their own spouses until their specific wedding days.  I get it.  I see the irony.  But what I see even more than the irony is the Duggar's humanity.  Even Duggars make horrible mistakes.  And they never claimed otherwise.  

Personally, I experienced this kind of serious “mistake” at the hands of a friend when I was a Kindergartener.  The friend’s 14-year-old step brother had led her in some sexual touching and she, in turn, showed me.  There was a tense meeting of minds when my friend and I made our parents aware of the situation.  Fortunately, they handled the occurrence with loving grace and gave us all a clear set of guidelines to guard the privacy of our own bodies.  

I am in no way belittling the gravity of what happened to me or to the girls involved in the Duggar incidences, but I do mean to make the point that such occurrences in our day in age and in our hyper-sexualized culture are not uncommon.  

I remember how my friend's 14-year-old brother cried with shame and remorse for what he'd done.  From what I understand, he never repeated his awful mistake again.  True, my friend's brother was a bit old for “playing doctor,” but he hadn’t used force against his sister.  He hadn’t even told her to keep his actions a secret.  He was a young, curious teenager and he had made a grave error.  Though I have no proof, and I make the following statement based purely on what I remember from the boy's contrition and the wholesomeness of the family from whence he came:  I highly doubt his actions carried into or had any effect on his adult life -- just like Joshua Duggar.

I say this judging from the fact that not one other woman has come forward with a complaint against Joshua post his initial teenage mistakes.  That together with the fact that he didn't even kiss his own wife until his wedding day, proves his verbalized repentance and his pursuit of chastity as genuine.

And even though I realize the scrutiny he faces is part and parcel with welcoming the media into his life -- especially as a voice for traditional conservatism -- I think he's being treated unfairly, and I'm truly sorry for him.    


— Sarah Johnson

Johnson lives with her family in the coal region of Pennsylvania where thy stop through creek beds and wooded glens, seeking out the wonder.  When she is not prying briars out of socks, Johnson enjoys reading, writing dramatic teen novels and occasionally keeping a blog:  www.fishsticksonfriday.blogspot.com  

  

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Great Blue Cry



[I had fun writing this entry for a poetry contest this week]


The Great Blue Cry

(or The Day the Internet Came to an End)


The day the Internet came to an end,
and all the cell phones fell into puddles

The day the TV sets
mades bets:
“Hey, who can play dead the longest?”

The day all the video games 
ran out of levels 
and texting thumbs
to hitchhiking were restored
   
The day a lone Googler 
Googled “Gone” 
and every gadget and gizmo with a  
suck-em-in-screen-oh-ignore-the whole-worldo

Simply Vanished

in a flash,
in big and little puffs of smoke,
leaving hands empty,
open wide
and the air alive,
buzzing with static

It was on that magical day,
Johnny Doughboy and Jane Stiflebrain
sat staring at the charred, black spot on the floor,
a smokey, sulphuric place
where only seconds before
a gurgling, growling sound erupted, 
the floor opened wide
and as for their iMac,
a sinkhole sucked it 

The ground healed up quick,
fresh carpet even sprouted
but Johnny and Jane   
were amiss, 
even stunted

“What is life without a flashing screen?” 
Johnny said blankly to Jane

“I would tell you if I could look it up,”
Jane replied, 
her eyes, her face, her brain
as plain
as her name

And so Johnny and Jane sat frozen 
for many days and many years,
their eyes zeroed in on the spot that swallowed their iMac,
hoping against hope it would one day come back
For food, they survived 
on cheese curls and Ding Dongs
For talk, they exchanged the hums and beeps and whistles 
of extinct video game songs

Their skin from the snacks emitted a pale, orange glow 
and tossed candy wrappers stuck to their burgeoning bellies
like tinsel on a tree
But they beeped and they hummed busily,
assuming they were happy,
as happy 
as happy can be

But then one day,
something blue crossed the corner of Johnny’s eye
It was on the other side of the window — 
something vast, wide and splotched with wisps
as white as cotton or snow drifts 
(if he could remember them)
Jane saw it too 
Astounded, they turned their gaze,
searching for words,
finding only a haze
of beeps and whistles

Stuttering, staring and, finally, with tears streaming
Jane called out, 
“Cry!” 
“The blue,I remember
the blue is called,
“Cry!”

“Yes, you’re right,” Johnny replied 
with words instead of whistles
He ran to the window 
He opened it wide
“I remember the Cry, 
the beautiful, blue Cry

Now stand by my side, he said,
so we can look at it forever

And drying their tears,

they did.


-- Sarah Johnson

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Spiritual Spartan



Modern man (and woman) needs a Spartan Race to feel, well, spartan (sorry, the vocabulary choices here are limited, and I'm on maybe 4 hours of sleep).

Traditional man (and woman) need only to embrace his or her vocation with all its joys and sufferings.

Instead of barbed wire, he carves out a living (solo).

Instead of a marathon, she is open to life.

Instead of crawling through mud, they wade through diapers (sometimes decades of them).

But as far as joy is concerned -- its measure and amount, I'd wager my wages (which are dished out IN joy & not in dollars), traditional man (and woman) have more.





Thursday, February 12, 2015

A Vaccine for Talking About Vaccines





Take a look at the mother on the opposite side of this vaccine debate.  Now, imagine her as more than a few lines of Facebook feed.  It’s not the easiest thing to do, I know.  But if we both try real hard …  If we squeeze our eyes shut tight and push away from the computer screen (once you’ve finished reading this post, of course), we just may just get some where.

Right now, this opponent is wiping a nose — and no, the child doesn’t have the measles (“wild” or whatever kind it is you can catch at Disneyland).  He has the flu.  Whether he was inoculated for this contagion doesn’t matter at this point.  He’s miserable, and all he wants are his mother's arms around him, her hands stroking his blond hair and her heartbeat on his cheek as he naps the afternoon away on her chest.
    
But this mother is distracted.  By me.  You see, I just told her off.  And oh, I summoned such courage before I did so. Truly, wielding harsh words with the buffer of cyberspace as my shield took some saintly bravery.  

Actually, it didn’t.  It took no bravery at all.  [Insert the squealing sound of my fat head deflating like a helium balloon.]

    
What takes bravery is what my opponent and I do every day.  We stay at home with our babies even when we’re bored, even when we’re lonely, even when we’re broke and could use the cash a job would easily provide.  We nurture.  We love.  We educate.  We make the best choices for our kids with the information we can muster.  
    
We have a lot in common, my “opponent” and I.  More, I’d wager, than many moms on my side of this vaccine debate.
    
Does this mean we shouldn’t dialogue? 
    
Of course not.  We’ve gotta share the wisdom each has gathered.  It’s just what moms do.
    
Does this mean we should pretend it’s plausible for both of us to be right? 
    
Again, no.  Let’s not mess with what’s mathematically impossible.  Let’s not speak anything that feels too much like a lie. 
    
Can we sense, however, when it's time to take a break and simply love one another in spite of of our differences?
    
Of course we can.  
    
If it wasn't, St. Paul wouldn’t have commanded us to do this very thing when he instructed that we “bear with one another and clothe ourselves in love.” (Colossians 3:14)  St. Peter also spoke of this love when he said to be “fervent” in it, “trusting that [it] covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)
    
I have a feeling my opponent is probably in the kitchen right now.  She's probably helping her daughter with algebra or figuring out the next meal.   If I had to wager whether her actions at this very moment have anything to do with  A.  The spread or prevention of a potentially life-threatening, communicable disease or  B.  Throwing together a casserole, I’d wager the choice that comes in an 9” by 13” pan.
    
Speaking of casseroles, I’ve got people to feed.  

Sunday, April 20, 2014

It's Easter -- Bah Humbug.



First, there was drama about the ties.

Then a lack of dress shoes.

But I have a memory of all 5 boys and their daddy in matching outfits just like this one.

And I have a shot of Schmoopie shaking his Easter M&M's.

Phew!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday



Our Triduum Shrine:  A candle for Holy Thursday, when Christ first gave us himself as the Paschal Lamb on Passover -- the night he instituted the Holy Eucharist.  Another candle for Good Friday, the day we remember His Passion.  And then another for Easter, His Resurrection.

We have a tomb made of a lightbulb box covered with sod.  A decent-sized stone couldn't be found, so we used a sweet potato.

Blessed Triduum.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Praying the Stations With My Kids



Some people think its gory or that they're too young,
but I see it in their eyes,
they sense the transcendence.

I wasn't raised in a Christian tradition that recognized the Liturgical year,
except on Christmas Day and then again on Easter Day.
The two popped up suddenly.  I always felt so unprepared.
And then they were gone, leaving behind only messes of wrapping paper
and emptied plastic eggs.

The year my husband began his sojourn into the traditional Church,
Lent prepared me for Easter in a way I hadn't expected.
I was only an observer then.
And I must say, the Season has truly grown on me.
I seem to "get it" a little more each year.

We'll be praying the stations tonight at our local parish because
"You cannot have a feast without a fast."

And you cannot have the the Resurrection without the Cross.