Growing Up Adventist: Parenting Styles

I sit here in psychology class tuning out the teacher. Not because I don’t care about what she is saying, or because it bores me, but because there are times in my adult life where I think I’m ok and BAM! A reminder of my cult upbringing.

The teacher is going over childhood development. I find this topic interesting, so at first I was paying attention. And then she started talking about parenting styles and it all went to shit.

These parenting styles are actually something I’ve read quite a bit about, even in Adventism. Here are the 3 main ones. The following descriptions are taken from my notes:

1. Authoritative parents tend to have children with the highest self esteem, self-reliance, and social competence.

There are rules, there are guidelines, but there are also open grounds for discussion.

2. Permissive parents tend to have children who are more aggressive and immature

give in to their children’s desires, make few demands, and rarely ever punish.

3. Authoritarian parents tend to have children with less social skills and less self esteem.

Authoritarian parents set the rules and expect obedience. No exceptions. Permissive parents kinda let their kids do whatever. Authoritative parents set limits, but allow the child to discuss these limits and boundaries. It’s the elusive middle ground I’ve never seen an Adventist find.

Many people, upon hearing that I grew up in a cult like environment, will naturally assume that I was parented with a very authoritarian style. But this wasn’t true for me, and it wasn’t true for a lot of Adventist children I knew.

See, the thing about cults and Adventism in particular is that, while there are similarities, every family is different. And you can’t always predict what that difference is.

I know one Adventist child who was parented very permissively. She got to wear jewelry and nail polish and read whatever she wanted.  I know of another Adventist child who practically couldn’t breathe around her super strict parents. Her parents would take her Barbie dolls and rip out the earrings, because jewelry was bad. She was not allowed to go on sleepovers for reasons I still don’t fully understand, and her mother hated me because she thought I was spoiled and at one point tried to forbid her daughter from playing with me. (This lasted like a day, because it didn’t work.)

So, even within Adventisms’s tiny little boxes, there are wild variations of parenting styles. This is probably true of many cults. There will be a lot of generalizations, but you can’t always rely on those generalizations.

My own parents swung like a pendulum wildly between authoritarian and permissive. Most of the time my reading material wasn’t policed, but sometimes my dad would see what I was reading and flip out. They had no problem if I wore necklaces, but they absolutely lost their shit when I told them I wanted my ears pierced.

In some ways this was constant bouncing back and forth was better, and in some ways it was worse. It was better because forbidden things could sometimes be ok. If my parents caught me with a Harry Potter book, they might not choose to throw it out. Remember, it was reading that led me out of Adventism in the first place, so the fact that I was allowed to read books sometimes was very important. If I had never been allowed to read those books, I would be a very different person than I am today.

In other ways, however, it was worse. I never knew what to expect. Some days things would be ok, other days they wouldn’t. It depended on my father’s mood, mostly, but also what book he’d been reading most recently. If my mother had been reading Child Guidance by Ellen White (I checked, their copy of the book is not well loved) I probably wasn’t going to get away with expressing my  opinion about my little brother’s habit of going into my room and breaking my toys while I was away at school. Other times, I could (and did) throw an absolute tantrum and not get punished.

(We will set aside, for now, the fact that my father threw tantrums at least twice as often as I did.)

I’m going to give my parents a little bit of credit here and assume that they were aiming for a middle ground, even if they didn’t always hit it. (Of course, they were big fans of James Dobson and Focus on the Family, so there’s that.)

However, the fact remains that this swinging back and forth affected me as an adult way more than they and I would like to admit. I am an absolute mess. To be fair, I don’t think parenting style was the main factor. But it would appear that it was a factor, if a small one.

I could have gone 2 ways from this upbringing. The first way I could have gone  was to go even further into the religion and the restrictions and say, “my parents were too permissive.” I could be a super conservative Adventist who doesn’t read fiction books or wear jewelry and would never even think of eating bacon.

Ok, I did go through a phase like that.

The other way I could have gone was the Rebellious way, saying “my parents were too strict.” I could drink constantly, pierce every part of my body, and read all the science fiction books I could get my hands on.

Ok, I did go through a phase like that.

In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that a lot of Ex Adventists go through both of these stages, possibly even at the same time.

You see, emerging from a cult is complicated. Being part of a cult is complicated. Seventh Day Adventists, even though they try to shove you into narrow boxes, also can’t all agree on exactly what those boxes are.

And sometimes these complicated feelings are going to slam into you in the middle of psych class when everyone else is taking notes and you’re busy writing Star Trek fan fiction to keep yourself from bursting into tears.



On Becoming A Woman Chapter 17

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I’m sorry that updates haven’t been coming as fast as they used to. Part of it is because I have to deal with schoolwork now, as well as working a job where I swear my bosses are trying to make my life as difficult as possible.

But the real reason, the reason that I just can’t make myself post lately, isn’t school or work or even the godawful depression. It’s this book. This book is bad, and at first it was hilaribad, but now it’s just bad. I can’t believe there are actually people out there who fall for this bullshit, and it’s just so depressing.

But we’re not far from the end. We are on chapter 17 out of 19, and then we will move on. I will eventually go back and finish OBAM, but frankly it’s similar enough that there’s almost no point. But not starting what I finish is no longer an option on this blog, so, without further ado, I present:

Chapter 17

Who Pays The Bills?

I don’t really have too much of an issue with the principle of what Shryock is saying in this chapter. Teenagers do need to learn to handle money. There are a lot of ways to teach them about money, and until reading this chapter, I wasn’t sure there was a wrong way to do it. Today I am less sure of that.

If you are a typical teenage girl, financial matters are somewhat mysterious.

Did parents in the 1960s not talk to their children, like, ever? When I was a child, my family was fairly well off. And yet my father still talked with me about money. I imagine that if my family had not been well off, my father still would have talked to me about money, only the talks would have been a lot more serious.

Do typical parents not talk to their children about money?

Until now you have had very little money to handle. But you are beginning to see that money is an important factor in life. You have discovered the need of money for this and that. You may have observed that there hardly seems to be enough money to go around. You have begun to wish that you could have more money to spend as you would like.

In my family, there was enough money, always, for necessities. We didn’t always have enough for things we wanted, but I took for granted that I would always have what I needed.

This absolutely was not the norm for Adventist families, at least, in the churches I went to. A lot of kids at school used to talk about money struggles, how they would have to wear snow suits in the house because they were just too poor to afford to heat the house. So, when Shryock talks about there not being enough money to go around, I’m going to assume that’s what he’s talking about.

Perhaps we’ve had daydreams wherein we have a thousand dollars. We then discover that that is not enough, so we raise it to $2,000. But even if we raise the number to so much as, gasp, one million dollars, we still won’t have enough to do everything we want.

Well, no, most people aren’t going to have enough to do everything they want, but at least they’d have enough to be able to pay the fucking bills.

My personal observation has been, however, that in the cases of most people the time never arrives when there is extra money available for anything but actual necessities.

I daydream of the day when I will have money for all my necessities. Wants can be worked out later, but at this point I’m afraid that not having to rely on my parents is nothing but a pipe dream.

As I have noticed the struggles many of my various friends are having in trying to make their income fit their expenditures, I have learned that rich people have just as much difficulty, on average, as those who are poor. It seems the problem of handling finances cannot be solved simply by larger incomes.

If this wasn’t a kindle book, I’d have thrown it across the room by now.

Look, I’m sure there are some people out there who are poor because they mismanage their money. But at least in this decade, they are absolutely not the norm. The normal poor person is, to quote one of the recent episodes of the SDAtheist podcast, “trying to divide up a pie that is just too small.” Minimum wage jobs just don’t pay enough to live on. Getting a better job usually requires college, and that’s very expensive.

Rich people may not have everything they want, but they have everything they need. They can go to the grocery store and not burst into tears trying to decide between fruit or vegetables, because they cannot afford both. If their appendix ruptures and the insurance company decides that to cover everything except for $3K,  the richer folk will be able to pay it. Richer folk may still have to give up something they were saving up for in order to do it, and don’t get me wrong, that sucks, but at least they’re, you know, not living under a fucking bridge.

But in the course of my observations I have found a few individuals who seem to have learned how to live within their means. These fortunate people enjoy life thoroughly and still have money to spare for additional enterprises. They are not necessarily rich. Many of them have only modest incomes.

If someone has a modest income, then of course they will have enough money for fun thing sometimes. I do not have a “modest” income. I have fucking tiny income. If my parents weren’t helping me, I would have killed myself by now because I do not have enough to live on.

I have tried to find out how they are able to mange their money matters in order to come out ahead. It seems that the secret is in learning how to control the desire for the things that money can buy.

I desire to have enough money to pay my own bills and live in an apartment where I don’t stumble over drunks on my way to the bathroom at night while also having enough money for food and groceries. I’ll be honest and say that I do have desires for things that cost a lot of money, but with a nice modest middle class income, I’d be able to save up for those things and have them eventually, even though it would take me a while.

But no, my problem is that I don’t live within my means. Sure.

As a teenage girl, you doubtless look forward to having a home of your own.

Um, I’m looking forward to having an apartment where *I* get to control the temperature, not the landlord. Does that count?

Maybe you have assumed that the financial responsibilities will fall more heavily upon your husband than upon you.

Not really. My mom was the one who balanced the budget and took care of finances, while my dad was the one who went out and spent it all.

To his credit, the author says that this isn’t necessarily the case. Marriage is a joint effort, you see, and husband and wife are to share equally in the responsibility.

Therefore, as preparation for becoming a successful wife and mother, you should gain an understanding, even while you are a teenager, of the principles involved in the successful handling of money.

I do agree with this principle.

Even though you plan to be a home maker,

If he had said even if you plan to be a home maker, I would be ok with this. But he says, “Even though.” This implies that he thinks every woman reading this wants to be a home maker.

I have no issues with women who want to be home makers and not have a career. I have an issue with being boxed in and expected to take that route. And don’t tell me that this was the 1960s. Even in the 60s, but especially by the late 60s when this book was written, women were having lives outside of husbands and kids.

Even though you plan to be a homemaker, there may be times in your life when you will need to be entirely on your own resources.

I agree completely with Shryock. Shit happens, ok? You can’t foresee and predict everything. The woman who plans to be dependent on her husband her whole life without a backup plan is unwise.  Often today you see a lot of Christians advocating for a woman to rely solely on her husband, but that’s not what I grew up with and it’s not the attitude most Adventists today have either.

Shryock goes on for a few paragraphs about being dependent on your parents for money, then says

Your parents will doubtless be willing to trust you with the handling of small amounts of money, provided you prove yourself to be worthy of their trust. Their only reason for hesitating to allow you to handle funds is their fear that you might not spend the money as carefully as they.

Or that you might spend the money on the wrong type of music, or the wrong type of books, or the wrong type of clothes, or god forbid JEWELRY. I mean, the reasons for parents not allowing you to handle money are endless. I feel like the author’s perspective as a parent is blinding him a little too much to the fact that some parents really are quite controlling and abusive.

In any case, Shryock suggests that teenagers pick one of their personal needs, estimate how much money is spent on this need, then ask their parents to trust them with that amount of money, with the understanding that the money be used to meet that need. An example Shryock gives is clothes. I happen to think that it is a parents’ duty to clothe their children, but whatever.

Shryock then decides to narrow this down to school clothes. This might be a generational thing, but why do you need clothes especially for school?  Unless you are going to one of those godawful Adventist schools that has a stupidly strict dress code or uniform, why can’t you just wear your regular clothes to school?

The author suggests that a teen carefully price out school clothes and make predictions based on that. Then go to your parents and ask for that amount of money, to be spent on school clothes. If you decide you’d rather blow that money on a fancy illustrated hardcover set of Harry Potter books, well then, no school clothes for you. You’ll just have to make due with last year’s.

There may be times, as there have been in the experiences of my own son and daughter, when you will feel like begging off the arrangement and asking your parents to resume the full responsibility of looking after your needs….. but once your parents have agreed to cooperate with you, it behooves you to go through with your part of the plan.

If a teen wants extra things for themselves, I could maybe see doing this. But if a growing teenage boy needs new clothes because last year’s don’t fit him? That falls under the category of need, and it’s your job as a parent to provide for that.

The author goes on for a paragraph or 2 about keeping records of expenditures, which isn’t a bad idea but really, all of that just kind of gives me a headache. I’m content to look over my bank statement and make sure no fraudulent charges have occurred.

The author goes on for a bit about why keeping records of spending is important. He says it seems like an “unnecessary bother” but isn’t.  For example, if you spend too much money on shoes, maybe the problem is you. You should figure out a way to take better care of your shoes, get your shoes repaired instead of buying new ones, or perhaps spend more money on better quality shoes rather than buying cheap shoes every few months.

Ok, even the people I know of who keep track of their spending don’t keep that careful track. I have a general idea about how much I spend on work clothes, but I don’t break it down by article. “And this is how much money I spent on pants in 2013, and this is how much I spent on contact solution in 2014….” like omg who does that?

As far as the shoe example goes, it’s possible that nothing can be done. Perhaps it would save money if the person buys better quality shoes, but if the person only has $20 to spend on shoes and not $200, and the person needs shoes today, the person can’t get the $200 shoes even though they’d be cheaper in the long run. I like the idea of getting old shoes repaired, however, when I looked into it, I sometimes found that the cost of repairing the shoes would be more than it would cost to just buy a new pair.

After droning on for a bit about the benefits of learning to handle money, the author comes to the most passive aggressive way I’ve seen for a teenager to get out of going to boarding school.

If you are now attending a boarding school, you have an even greater opportunity to learn how to handle money. In such a case I suggest that you make a calculation of how much your parents have been spending each month to keep you in school….it will be proper for you to ask your parents to make this much money available to you personally each month, holding you responsible for paying all your school bills.

No seriously, this would be like the best way ever to get out of boarding school. “Sorry mom and dad, I guess I wasn’t wise enough to be trusted with all that money. Guess you’ll have to put me in public school now. Oh darn.”

Following such a plan will have great advantages. You will become more careful in your expenditures. You will learn to think twice before you buy a book that you might be able to borrow from he library. In your choice of food you will learn to avoid the expensive desserts and to choose, rather, those staple foods that are both nourishing and less expensive.

What the hell?

First off, this wouldn’t work. My grandma went to Adelphian in the 1950s. Even by then the administrators had noticed that students were skipping out on meals to save money, so they implemented a policy wherein students are charged for all meals, whether they attend those meals or not. That was the policy instituted in the 1950s, and it was still in place at GLAA when I went there in the early zeros. I don’t think boarding schools have charged by item since Shryock was a lad. Older readers care to chime in?

And borrowing books from the library? What library? The school at GLAA had a really crappy library full of mostly Ellen White books. I couldn’t even track down a copy of certain classics, and their computer books were extremely outdated. And of course, an Adventist library wouldn’t really have any fiction. Except those historical fiction christian romance novels that have everything in them that regular romance novels have, except for sex.

The only way I could, and did, save money at GLAA was by figuring out the secret code that would allow you to make long distance calls without using a phone card. I then used this code to rack up a phone bill so high that they had to change the code. (I may or may not have been making phone calls outside the country (*coughIrelandcough* on a regular basis.)

Another way of saving money was learning how to shoplift… but we’re getting off the subject. Moving on.

It’s not just a good idea to learn how to handle money, Shryock says. It’s also a good idea to learn how to deal with an employer. It’s a good idea for a teenager to have a part time job.

Unfortunately some teenagers seem to consider work a disgrace. This attitude is common among those who come from homes in which there is too much luxury. But really, the attitude, “I don’t work because I don’t have to work,” is an admission of a poor adjustment to life.

I mean, they’re teenagers. Working could be good for a lot of them, but for some it may prove a distraction from school. I agree somewhat with this paragraph (don’t look down on work) but I would give the rest of it the side eye.

Having a job gives a teenager a certain amount of independence, while also preparing them for the real world. Babysitting is especially a good job for a girl, because it will prepare her to handle housework and children.

Often when parents leave their small children in charge of a teenage girl, they ask her to do certain other things about the home.

Really? I’ve never had anyone ask me to do anything other than look after their child. Maybe if they had a pet that needed to be fed at a certain time, but like, I’ve never been asked to vacuum the living room.

This must be one of those 1960s things I don’t understand because I am a 90s girl.

A few decades ago it was an established tradition that the earnings of the children belonged to the parents. This tradition was based on the difficulties parents encountered in supporting large families, and on the belief that a child should help maintain the parents’ home.

Most parents now acknowledge the personal rights of their teenage daughters and are willing to allow them privileges and responsibilities as rapidly as as the daughters indicate their ability to handle these wisely.

We can only hope.

But the fact remains that your parents spend a considerable amount in maintaining the home. your support costs them a great deal. It is therefore not fair to your parents for you to assume that the money you earn can properly be spent as dictated by your personal interests and with utter disregard for the support your receive from them. (emphasis mine)

Yes it is. That’s kind of their job as parents. Shouldering all your expenses was kind of what they signed up for when they agreed to have you.

Now, if you’re an adult living with your parents for whatever reason, then sure, I could see them asking you to contribute. But if you’re still in high school, fuck that.

When you begin to earn money you and your parents should have some understanding as to which of your expenses will be met from your own earnings.

If you are still a child, and even if you’re 18 but still in high school, it is the parents’ job to meet your needs. Take all the money you are earning from your job, or at least most of it, and set it aside for college.

Of course you should agree to pay for things of a personal nature. If you are attending boarding school, it is wise for you to meet as many of your expenses from your own earnings as possible.

Let us be generous and assume that said student is not being forced into going away to Academy. You are still basically advocating for a 14 year old to try and live on their own as much as possible without parental support. In our day and age Even for 1968, that is ridiculous.

The amount of employment you should accept will naturally depend somewhat on your parents’ financial circumstances. But even though the family income is adequate, it is a good thing for you to have employment.

The amount of employment you should accept depends on your ability to balance school with work. Especially if you are in high school, your education comes first.

If your family’s income is meager, or if you have several brothers and sisters, and the expenses of maintaining the home run high, it is only fair that you should accept the responsibility of working as much as possible to support yourself.

I’m done. I’m tired. I’m a broken record. For the last time, it is a parent’s job to raise a child until he or she is 18 or graduates high school. If you decide to have eleventy bajillion kids, it is on you to provide for all of them, not on your teenager to try and support themselves before they’re even out of high school.

Attitudes like this also marginalize poorer teenagers. Richer children get to concentrate on going to school and figuring their lives out. Poorer ones have to work as much as possible and are somehow still expected to find time for the mountains of homework they have to do. That’s not right.

The author goes on for a few paragraphs about how teens need to pay tithe from their earnings. Offerings aren’t mandatory, but you should give them anyway.

Furthermore, it is good for your Christian experience and for your personality development to develop an attitude of generosity. You also must increase your sense of loyalty to the groups of which you are a member.

You must invest in the cult, so that whenever you are tempted to pull away, you’ll remember how invested you are in it.

Sometimes I lay awake at night crying because I think of all the money I gave to the church over all those years, and how little good it did me. I want that money back, and if I could sue for back tithe, I would. I’d use it to pay for college. Or do something useful. Or make up for the fact that I spent money to make sure that others would suffer as I did.

The author then goes on for a few paragraphs about how important it is to build up a savings account. See, it’s far better to be able to say, “I could buy that if I wanted to, but I won’t.” Than to have to later say, “I could have bought that, but I can’t.”

And I agree, setting aside money for savings is important, and it does feel nice to know I can afford things, even though I technically can’t. I do have $600 in my checking account at the moment. However, if I spend that money now, I won’t be able to pay my rent later. It is nice to now that I could buy that new doll I want, even if doing so is unwise. (Once I do pay the rent I’m going to feel horrible and broke, but that’s beside the point.)

The chapter, mercifully, ends here. And now I kind of feel like jumping off a cliff. Instead I’m going to go try and drown myself in the shower. At least, until the hot water runs out. But that’s ok, because neither I nor my parents are the ones paying the water bill.








Heather, An Adventist Girl (1889) Book 2: A New Life Down Under Chapter 1

Chapter 1

A Trip To The Doctor

This chapter actually frustrates me. This is because the history is not explained. Were eyeglasses a thing for children in the 1800s? I think I read somewhere that most people didn’t get them until they were adults. I could be misremembering, though. Google is no help, and I don’t know of an offline resource I could check. It would be really really nice for the author to have included a section in the back about the history of children’s glasses, perhaps with pictures.

I know it’s a minor nitpick, but I like to know when things are historically accurate.

In any case, I am getting ahead of myself. Let’s begin at the beginning.

Nine year old Heather Gibson picked up a smooth, gray rock. Gently, she threw it over the hopscotch grid that that Laura Douglas had drawn for them in the dry, parched ground that stood between their two houses. Heather held her breath, watching as the rock landed on square #8.

I never played hopscotch as a kid, so I don’t know what that means. I know it involves a lot of hopping, but I don’t actually know how to play the game.

“Not 8 again!” Heather complained, but with a smile. She loved a challenge.

I don’t know why this sentence bothers me, but it sets my teeth on edge. I’d say it’s because Heather’s not allowed to show frustration or complain, but she spent all of last book whining, and in a few minutes she will complain about having gotten her dress dirty. Soooo I’m not sure why this sentence makes me want to throw the book across the room.

Anyway, Mr. Gibson calls the girls, telling them it’s time to go. He’s driving the wagon to town so Laura can see Dr. Hansen. Her glasses have finally arrived, and she’s super excited about it.

Heather squeezed Laura’s arm. “Your father agreed you could come with me to Newcastle to get my eye-glasses,” she said, trying to sound serious, “but I have one condition.”

“What is it?” Laura asked, her cheeks crinkling with a smile.

“You can’t laugh at me.” Heather said. She tried to sound as if she were teasing, but she meant it. Sort of.

I…have a hard time imagining a 9 year old smiling as she says something like that. I know that sounds a little nitpicky, and maybe it is. But sometimes it’s the little things that just make this book annoying.

Laura promises not to laugh at her best friend.

Heather smiled and ran to her father. She grabbed the side of the wagon and hopped in. She landed squarely on the hard wooden bench. Ouch! she thought, wishing that Father had agreed to buy a more comfortable buggy. He had argued that a simple wagon was all they needed, and Heather knew he was right. She would love to have a shining black buggy like the one Ethel Reynolds rode in, but in her heart Heather knew that her father was right.

It’s a bit heavy handed. I get that the message is supposed to be “don’t buy anything you don’t need, for that is not being a good steward of God’s money,” but all I’m seeing here is “God doesn’t want you to be comfortable riding in your buggy.”

What I actually suspect is that Heather’s father is taking the money he could have used to buy a new buggy and using it to get Heather’s glasses. I don’t know how it worked back in 1889, but in this century, Literature Evangelists don’t get paid a salary by the conference. They make their money selling books.

People do not get rich going door to door, ok? Those stories you hear about Canvassers making a lot of money? The reason you hear about them is because they’re uncommon. Either that or someone has collected these stories in an effort to recruit you into the canvassing program. They’re not going to tell you that there are days when you do not sell a single book or get a single donation.

Anyway, that is it as far as Heather’s longing for things they can’t afford. We never hear about her wanting stuff she “shouldn’t” have again. So I’m not sure what the point of that was, except to show us that Heather is a perfect little angel?

Aunt Rachel brings out a picnic lunch for Heather, tells her to be good for her father, and they leave.

Heather’s father, Mr. Gibson, asks Laura if she’s ever been to Newcastle. Which seems like a stupid question, given that it’s probably the only town for miles.

“Yes, Mr. Gibson,” she answered politely. “My father has taken Emma and me with him many times when he needed to buy more building supplies.”

This child is supposed to be 8. This does not sound like an 8 year old to me. It sounds a little stilted.

In any case, Laura asks why Heather’s brother  Nathan isn’t coming.

“He and Father have been working in Newcastle every day for the last two weeks selling books door to door,” Heather answered. “Nathan told me he was tired of riding to town and that he wanted to play with James today.”

I don’t recall if we were ever told Nathan’s age. I think I decided he was 12, but I can’t recall if I have any textual evidence for that. 12 or 13 isn’t too young to canvas, especially if you’re with a partner. But still, poor Nathan! His father signed up for the canvassing work, not him. Eesh. Especially if the weather has been particularly brutal lately, which we are told and shown.

As they neared Newcastle, the salty ocean air floated toward them. The city was unusually full of flowers and green plants, but today it stood dry and thirsty against the mighty ocean.

Going door to door is hard work, especially in hot weather. Poor Nathan. Of course he wants to play with James.

Heather’s family reach the doctor’s office, and Heather goes back into the exam room. Dr. Hansen has her try on a pair of glasses and adjusts them. He has her read form a chart on the wall. She does, and the good doctor sends her on her way.All the way home Heather is all, “ZOMG I CAN READ THAT! I CAN SEE THAT! WOW THIS IS AMAZING!” And Laura’s polite, Laura tolerates this for a while but she does note that it got old really really fast.

On their way home, Mr. Gibson and co run into (not literally) Ethel Reynolds and May Evans. He stops to greet them, telling them they’ve all been to Newcastle.

“Heather,” he said, turning in his seat. “Show the girls your new eye-glasses.”

Heather’s cheeks burned. She turned and smiled weakly.

“I thought you looked different,” May replied with a smirk.

Ethel covered her mouth with her hand to hide her giggle. Heather’s heart felt as if it had dropped into her stomach.

When they get home, Heather gets embarrassed and flees to her room to cry afterward. Mr. Gibson knocks on the door of her room, and Heather tells him she’s embarrassed because the girls were laughing at her new glasses.

“I didn’t hear anyone laughing,” Mr. Gibson said gently.

“They didn’t laugh out loud, actually,” Heather said.

Oh, grown ups. They can be so oblivious, and I’m not entirely convinced it’s accidental. People don’t always laugh at you out loud. And in any case, wasn’t Ethel covering her mouth to hide the fact that she was giggling? At least one of those girls laughed out loud.

Mr. Gibson, instead of admitting that he knows nothing when it comes to social interaction, changes the subject.

“I met a family in Newcastle last week while I was selling books,” he said quietly.

“Oh?” Heather said with a sniffle.

“they have a girl your age,” Mr. Gibson continued. “If she needed eye-glasses, her family would never be able to afford to buy them for her.”

Heather instantly felt ashamed of crying. “I’m sorry, Father,” she said.

I can see why he told her this, kind of. On the one hand, it does give her some perspective. On the other hand, I don’t think it’s wrong to be sad when someone laughs at you. What he’s mostly doing here is to try and guilt her into feeling bad about feeling bad, which is not cool.

Just as I am wondering why her father told her this, he tells  Heather that he told her about this family because he was hoping she could come with him to meet the family. “Come with me, Heather, to meet these poor people who manage to make even less than I do. And I’m a canvasser so that’s an achievement”

“The mother of the family would like to learn more about God. The girl seems interested, too. The father doesn’t show much interest, I’m afraid,” Mr. Gibson said, and his eyes clouded over with concern. “Perhaps you could help me tell them about Jesus.”

Ooooh it’s even better. “Come with me to gawk at this  poor family so you can help me prey on them when they are at a low point in their lives. Help me rope them into the cult!”

Seventh Day Adventists: Preying on poor people for Jesus since 1889! Is Mr. Gibson going to tell them about mandatory tithing before or after the baptism? I put my money on the latter.

Heather agrees to come meet the poor family to try and convert them, and her father leaves the room. Heather puts her glasses on and prays.

Thanks for my eye-glasses, Lord she prayed. Then she bounced down the stairs to help with supper.

I now have a mental image of Heather tucking her legs under her and bouncing down the stairs like a rubber ball. Did they have rubber balls in the 1880s?






On Becoming A Woman Chapter 16

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Chapter 16

You and Your Parents


Oh boy, this outta be good. And by good I mean bad. Part of the problem is that I am getting tired. I am tired of deconstructing this book and I am tired, so tired, of these attitudes that should have gone the way of the dodo bird 300 years ago. But, I’m a persistent person who is going to finish things. It will take me longer because I now have to go to school, but we will finish this book. Eventually. So, let’s get started.

Your greatest problem during your teens is to become acquainted with yourself.

Here’s the thing. I keep changing. Just as I think I know myself, myself changes. So while I suppose this is true, in a way, it’s also kind of…. not. See, my biggest problems as a teenager were:

  1. Trying to decide whether or not I should kill myself
  2. Figuring out how to escape Planet Adventist
  3. Dealing with my verbally abusive father
  4. Figuring out a way to hide “contraband,” which included any music at all, my collection of star trek novels, and jewelry.
  5. Trying to stop my best friend from killing herself
  6. figuring out which drugs could be slipped past the deans so I could take a mental vacation away from the fucked up cult once in a while.

Getting to know myself? Please. First I had to figure out whether or not I wanted to survive high school.

Perhaps your next greatest problem after learning to know yourself is to learn to understand your parents.

Not exactly my biggest priority as a teenager. As an adult I care a bit more about learning to understand them, but as a teen, I was more concerned with escaping their worldview.

The coming of your teen years brings new relationships between you and your parents. These new relationships require you to make new adjustments. They also require your parents to make new adjustments to you.

Ideally yes. My parents, however, weren’t so great about the whole “my daughter is now on the verge of adulthood” thing. They wound up treating me like a child right up till the moment I wouldn’t tolerate it anymore. This was my “rebellion.” At some point, even the therapist I didn’t like sat my dad down and told him, “she is sixteen!”

The author goes on to say that when you were a child, you depended on your parents to protect you from the world, and to interpret things for you. He doesn’t say what he means by “interpret things,” but I’m going to be generous and assume he means something like, “I gave my daughter a very basic explanation of how taxes work.”

The author then tells us that a group of families is a community, and a group of communities is a nation. He talks for a bit about how civilization as we know it depends on families, then goes on to say

You have observed the important relationship our religious organizations bear to the welfare of the nation.

Yes. I have observed that when religion is kept out of the government, everyone’s happy.

The ideals of the nation are largely dependent upon the religious ideals taught in our churches.

No, they’re not. Especially if by “our churches” the author means Seventh Day Adventist churches. Even within Adventist circles, there is huge debate over, for example, whether or not gay people are sinning sinners going to hell.

But when we analyze this we find that church ideals depend very definitely upon the ideals of the family circle.

Yes….and no. I mean, most SDA families do have common ground, but even in the individual churches, you’ll find that the ideals of family A could be radically different from the ideals of family B. Many huge fights get started over such things, especially about important issues like singing along to a recording of instrumental accompaniment(sp) for special music.

The author goes on to talk about how family ideals affect churches, and church ideals influence the nation. That is why familial relationships are so important.

It thus becomes the duty of parents to mold the lives of their children in such a way as will help them to live successfully and happy. Parents are expected to give their children a running start in life.

Adventists will pay lip service to this kind of thing, as you can see. However, in practice, what SDA adults do is hold teenagers back and infantilize them, so that the only running start they get is for a life on Planet Adventist, if that.

Hypocrisy, thy name is Adventist.

The author goes on for a long paragraph about how parents have lived longer, and so they know better, and can give their children good advice.

I don’t have too much of a problem with this. Sometimes adults do know better than children. However, no one will admit to you that the reverse is true; sometimes children know more than the adults. But I learned that from reading fiction novels, so what do I know.

The author goes on for a bit about the love a parent has for their children, and how parents love their children more than anything else in their lives. I am wondering if he’s drawing on his own experience as a father.

When children do well in their adjustments to life the parents feel that their own lives have been worthwhile and that their efforts in making a home have been abundantly rewarded.

I love my parents. I’m sure they love me back. However, I would hope that my brother and I are not the sole reason their lives are worthwhile. My mother’s life is worth something simply because she is, not because of what she does, or how her children have turned out.

But then, I turned out pretty terribly, even by non SDA standards, so, maybe I shouldn’t talk too much.

On the other hand, when a child makes unfortunate decisions and reaps the natural consequences that come from an indifference to those ideals that make life really worth while, his parents suffer perhaps the greatest disappointment that can come in this life.

Think for a moment about the ex Adventists who’s only failings are that they are not Adventist. Think how much it hurts them to know that they made their parents suffer, and yet, they can’t continue to be someone they are not. As an Ex Adventist who knows that leaving the church is one of these “unfortunate decisions” Shryock refers to, this hurts.

The author talks for a while about how when we were children, we pretty much accepted our parents’ authority. When we did things our own way and ignored our parents, we usually landed in trouble.

Well of course, Shryock. Because our parents decided that we would be in trouble, not necessarily because those were natural consequences of disobeying them.

In any case, when you hit your teens, things change. You still respect your parents, of course, but now you are beginning to take responsibility for yourself. You feel you should start to set your own rules and follow your own path.

You welcome the many evidences that you are now reaching adulthood.

Actually I didn’t. I was terrified of becoming an adult. Aside from that, certain of these evidences meant my body betrayed me.

Shryock talks for a bit more about how teenagers desire independence, and how the teen years are also transition years. But it’s not a sudden transition, it takes years.

In terms of the relationship between you and your parents, this transition period is difficult for both you and your parents. Actually your parents welcome the evidences that you are reaching adulthood. They would not want you to remain a child forever….they understand that they cannot always brood over you and shelter you from the evils and dangers of this cruel world.

Actually, I think there are some parents that don’t understand this.

Shryock goes on to say that the teen years are a time in which you gradually get used to handling things on your own.

With each additional year must come increasing experience and ability. The years of your teens therefore constitute an intensive training period during which you are entrusted first with small responsibilities, then with larger and larger.

I don’t have an argument with this. This is exactly how it should be. You don’t need to use a bible verse to support it. The author  uses one anyway: John 3:30

“He must increase, but I must decrease.”

This verse is spoken by John the Baptist. One of John’s disciples has come up to him and said, “John, this Jesus guy is getting even more popular than you are!” Here’s John’s response, in context. Starting in verse 25:

25 Now a discussion arose between some of John’s disciples and a Jew over purification. 26 And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” 27 John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. 28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ 29 The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.”[a]

I can kinda sorta see how this can be applied to the parent teenager relationship…. if I squint hard enough after taking out my contacts.

In case you don’t like Biblical illustrations from verses ripped straight outta context, the author switches to another example. Say your mom has this dress that she knitted herself. That would be pretty impressive, as I’ve never seen anyone knit an entire dress. Maybe there are dress patterns out there for knitters but I have yet to run across them. In any case, you like the color of the yarn the dress is made out of, but the dress was made for your mother,  who has a different body shape than you.

Your mother offers to give you the yarn and let you make your own damn dress, then. So she sits there with the dress and you sit there with the ball of yarn, and you unravel while she holds the dress.

At first, all the yearn is in the dress that rests in your mother’s lap. But as you receive the yarn and wind it into a ball, the amount of yarn in your possession becomes greater and greater while the amount of yarn still remaining in your mother’s possession becomes less and less. Finally, all the yarn has been transferred to you. You then possess it all, and your mother, none.

The period of time when the closet was in your mother’s dress represents your childhood. As a child, your parents were responsible for your conduct, and they had the most control over it. Eventually, you’ll come to a point where you can make your own decisions, and your parents start transferring over their responsibility fully to you.

If you had become impatient and taken more yarn  than you could wrap on the yarn ball, yarn piles up on the rug and becomes tangled. If you pull yarn faster than your mother lets go, the yarn will get tangled.

Dear Dr. Shryock. When winding balls of yarn that are as long as a dress is likely to be, rule #1 is that the yarn will get tangled. Always. Love, a knitter.

Ok, but, what happens when the mom simply refuses to give the teenager any yarn? This happens in SDA families a lot more than you would think. Shoot, even the adult college students at Andrews are treated like freaking BABIES.

The author tells us to not be impatient with our parents if they refuse to give us more responsibility and independence, because it’s totally normal to bounce back and forth a bit as parents and teenagers try to make it through the transition.

Well, probably. But I don’t think Adventist culture really helps. I’ll try and look up the quote later, but I could swear that Ellen White actually tells us to tighten the reigns on teenagers. Or maybe I’m making things up that she never said. I could be misremembering. Either way, the author doesn’t seem to take that view, and we are dealing with him right now, not her.

One reason why you may be impatient with your parents is that you have now reached the age when your opinions attract the attention of others and when your developing personality has a charm of its own. It is fun to try out these newly discovered assets and to see how much attention you can attract. I know it seems that every time you try to hasten the process, you get into trouble.

I’m honestly not sure what the author is talking about here. Newly discovered assets of what? My “charming personality?”

The older folks seem to misunderstand you and think you are simply trying to show off, but you don’t mean it that way at all. What you really crave is to participate with older people in those things hat are interesting and fascinating.

Could you give me an example? I’m not sure I follow. When I was a teenager, I generally tried to attract as little attention as possible. The author doesn’t say exactly what these fascinating and interesting things are that teens are supposedly interested in.

Maybe it’s just because I’ve been working a lot, but I’ve read this part of the chapter 5 times and am still not sure exactly what this is about.

It may seem to you that the older folks are simply stubborn, and that sometimes they are even a little jealous of your accomplishments and therefore reticent to accept you at face value.

Adults don’t like teenagers because they are jealous?

 Of course it is true that older folks move more slowly than teenagers. They tend to become somewhat fixed in their ideas and reactions. They have been accustomed to thinking of you as a child. Only recently have you arrived at adulthood….older folks are slow to accept the fact that you have grown up.

I could see that. It’s tough accepting that someone who’s diapers you changed is now an adult. But, I mean… you get used to it?

I get that the author himself was probably a senior when he wrote this, but classifying the adult brain as slower than the teenage one strikes me as kind of discriminatory. There’s a wide range of “slow” and “Fast” among adult minds. And fast isn’t always better than slow. Sometimes my mind jumps around from one topic to another so much that my friends can’t keep up. It has the effect of annoying everyone, including me.

This reticence….is not all their fault. Your mind has played a few tricks on you. Things are not really so bad as they seem.

You’re crazy! It’s not as bad as all that! It never happened that way! Your mind is playing tricks on you!

Sounds like emotional manipulation  to me. Depending on the situation, it may be that things aren’t that bad, but they may be. You do not know.

For instance, your interest in getting recognition from older people has caused you to do some things that are a bit foolish. Looking back on some of your recent experiences, even you will admit that you have been unwise sometimes.

This is vague enough that it is true for everyone. I have zero doubt that every teenager has “been unwise sometimes.” But you know what? So have most adults.

One of the problems a teenage girl usually faces is that of choosing her own clothes and following her own taste in dress.

I would hope that the author realizes that a teenager is old enough to dress herself.

Or is he talking about “slutty” teenagers that wear “Revealing” clothing? the wording is vague enough that I’m not honestly sure.

You cherish your own opinion of the kind of clothes you want to wear on which occasions. But your mother often cautions you to be more conservative.

I have had this issue very few times in my life. And it was annoying. It got to the point where I wouldn’t clothes shop with her at all.

You have sometimes felt that she is old fashioned. But let me ask you, what is the real reason you wish to wear a dress that is a little more “stunning” than the one your mother feels you should have?

See, my mom wanted me to wear what I thought was tent type clothing. I wanted to wear tighter shirts because my boobs didn’t bounce around as much and that meant I wouldn’t need to wear a female torture device bra. That was literally my logic when I was 13.

Is it not because you want to receive attention, and you feel that by dressing yourself a little more gaudily than your mother would like to have you, you will be noticed more readily?

You hear this argument a lot in Adventist circles. When someone desires to wear something that she thinks is pretty, she’ll be questioned. Why do you want to look pretty? Usually the adult manages to convince the girl to say that she wants to be pretty so she can attract boys, even if this is not actually the case. Because of course that is the only reason a woman would want to wear anything she thinks is pretty.

Directly after that paragraph, we get this:

Why is it that you like to chew gum in public and use color on your face? Maybe it is because you feel, almost subconsciously, that these will cause you to be noticed and will bring you recognition.

Chewing gum in public is done to draw attention to myself? I’m confused. Is it ok to chew gum in private but not in public? Why is this? I mean, I chew gum because it helps my TS. I kind of assumed everyone else did it because they liked the flavor or they thought blowing bubbles was fun.

So, does that mean that it’s ok to smack the shit out of them when they chew it too loudly? I mean, they chew their gum too loudly for attention, right? And smacking them is giving them attention, right? So that’s a totally appropriate response, then?

Moving on because I am confused.

In the matter of personal attractiveness it is better that your appeal be based on the charms of your personality than on clothes that attract undue attention.

On the one hand I agree with this. I want people to be friends with me because they like me, not because they like my clothes. However, the two are not mutually exclusive. I can still wear what I think are cool clothes and have people be attracted to me because of my personality. My clothing choices are kind of unusual anyway.

Another source of conflict between parents and teenagers is a teen’s desire to come and go as she pleases. She’s confident that her judgement is better than her parents’.

Let us consider first what your parents’ motives are in their attempt to guide you and direct your goings and comings. Do you really suppose that they thus restrict you simply to make you unhappy?

Look. It doesn’t matter what the parents motives are. If they’re restricting their kids too much, they’re restricting their kids too much.

I’m not saying teenagers should be free to come and go as they please, I’m saying that some parents really are too restrictive. Especially parents that are religiously conservative.

The author goes on to say that parents may prevent you from doing things they did at your age because they know the consequences of those actions. An example he gives is of a teenager who wants to date this boy, but her parents don’t like him. The parents are of course right, because they have more experience than the teen does. If the young man is sincere, he will conform to whatever expectations the teen’s parents have.

The author then asks the reader to think of herself two years ago. How many of those memories does she look back on and cringe? And yet she thought she was mature at the time, right? And that’s just 2 years ago. Two years in the future, she’ll probably look back on yourself right now and feel the same way.

Therefore it is wholesome for you to admit to yourself the limitations of your judgments.

I don’t think it’s a terrible idea to tell teens that they may not be as mature as they think they are. By god I knew some people who really needed to hear that, not that they would have listened. The issue I have with this way of thinking is that some 20 year olds need to hear it as well. At 25 I thought I was pretty mature, wise, etc. And now I feel like I was extremely foolish.

So, how do you develop this maturity? Well…. your parents will help you. What if your parents don’t trust you? Well, that’s probably your fault somehow. You should work to build up your parents’ trust, so that they can trust you with responsibilities.

I agree, but cautiously. Sometimes parents don’t show good judgment when deciding how much responsibility their teen can handle. Particularly if they are Adventist parents who don’t believe little Jane is showing good judgment by getting her ears pierced.

Your parents are your best friends. Treat them as such, and you will find life much more worthwhile. Show them the deference they deserve, and they will help you to avoid many of the mistakes that would otherwise hinder your progress toward maturity.

I’m gonna just leave this here and let you all talk about whether or not this paragraph is correct. I’m… just kind of done with this chapter.




Sugar Creek Gang Episode 4: Secret Hideout Part 4

I have gotten waaaaaaay too many library fees over this dvd, so this is going to be the last part, I swear, if I have to sit here all night.

Fortunately this is the part where things get interesting. Well, sort of. There’s still a lot of boringness, but if you were to cut all that out, this would be the interesting part.

We last left off with a long cheesy scene of Bill Collins and Little Jim being tucked into bed. Little Jim is sleeping over at Bill’s house because his parents were going to have a baby, but that part got cut out of the script. Seriously, did the parents beg the directors for more screen time? I can’t think of why else this scene would be included.

We pick back up in the morning when the kids are in school. Miss Lilly is wearing a bright green dress that actually isn’t too bad looking. Better than that godawful wallpaper type dress she was wearing earlier. She interrupts the class as they are working.

Miss Lily: Boys and Girls, I have a serious problem to discuss with you. Mr. Foote, our township trustee, has secured Bob Till’s release from jail on Saturday afternoon. But just as soon as he got home, he disappeared.

We are left completely in the dark about why he would have disappeared. In the book, Bob’s father was an abusive drunk. I would like to know if that is why he ran away from home, or if the movie is taking a different track. I hope you weren’t curious, because we don’t get to know.

Miss Lilly is still speaking: That means he violated his parole. And will have to go to reform school or maybe back to jail.

What year does this movie take place in? What State is this? I would like to look these laws up, as I find this Juvenile criminal laws particularly interesting.  The fact that we’re not told what year this takes place in really really bothers me. Would it have really killed them to have at least put it on the back of the DVD case?

Miss Lilly is still speaking.

Mr. Paddler and I are hoping to convince the authorities to give Bob another chance. But in order to do that we need your cooperation. Bob says he is afraid to return to school because everybody will make fun of him and have nothing to do with him. Now, I have in my hand a paper that I would like you all to sign. And just as soon as we find Bob, I’ll let him read it. Perhaps he will come back to school and continue his education. All children need an education. Especially these days.


Miss Lily: Here’s what the paper says:

We in the sugar creek township want Bob till to have another chance. if he returns to school, we pledge to be kind to him, to treat him like we treat our friends, and to refrain from saying anything that would humiliate him.

I think  Miss. Lily means well, however, I’m not sure that sharing Bob’s situation with the rest of the class and having them sign a paper that is basically saying they will be friends with him is the best approach. I’m going to be generous here and assume Bob gave his permission for her to share his situation.

I don’t know what Bob did to go to jail, and the movie isn’t really going to tell us. It might be asking a bit much for the students of the Sugar Creek Schoolhouse to become friends with him. Treat him nicely and not humiliate him? Sure, why not. Friends? I don’t know the situation, perhaps it is better for them not to try.

Miss Lily asks Jim to sign the paper, and we get a closeup of her earring. I feel like someone in the prop department thought these earrings were very cool and absolutely needed to be in a shot somewhere. It’s kind of a weird shot otherwise


Big Jim looks at the other kids then at Miss Lily. He picks up the pen, then puts it down. We got some reaction shots of the other kids and they look pissed.

Big Jim (handing the paper and pen back) I’m sorry Miss Lily. The Sugar Creek Gang can’t sign this. We’d like to, but we can’t.

Why can’t you? Look, I get that the directors kind of wanted to shoot a series of movies that were more like episodes. But these movies aren’t really set up like that. They look more like standalone movies. Even just a brief clip at the beginning of the movie where the narrator says, “previously, on Sugar Creek Gang.” Like they do on Buffy and Roswell, just give me a few flashbacks so that I can have a bit of the backstory. Or at least know what year it is.

Miss Lily: Well, Jim does not speak for the entire gang, nor the entire schoolhouse.

She walks around the room, offering the paper to the other students. “What about you, Bill. Will you sign this paper?”

No, sorry, that doesn’t happen. Miss Lily just kind of accepts the fact that Big Jim not only speaks for a whole gang of 7 people, he apparently speaks for the entire schoolhouse. She gives the paper to Big Jim to hang onto, in case he changes his mind.

After school, the gang goes fishing. They’re all unusually quiet. Big Jim calls a vote, and asks who thinks he should have signed that paper. I think you should not worry about what the other kids think and decide whether or not to sign the damn paper  yourself.

Little Jim, Bill, and Tom Till raise their hands.

Big Jim: That’s 3 on 3, and I’m the tie breaker.

He taps Tom Till on the shoulder.

Big Jim: Hey, just to let you know, I wish I could have signed that paper.

Tom Till looks down at the water.

Then why didn’t you, Big Jim? You could have, and then let the other kids have their own choice. We are supposed to view Big Jim as the leader of the gang. He’s supposed to be someone we all look up to. I can’t look up to a pussy who can’t make his own decisions without consulting his peers.

We get more shots of the kids’ feet. Poetry has his fishing stick between his toes. He’s not even pretending to act like he’s fishing.

Bill: (to Tom) Why didn’t you tell us Bob was out of jail?

Tom: I don’t know

Bill: Well, where is he now

Tom doesn’t say anything.

Bill: really?

Big Jim notices Tom’s discomfort, and tells the gang to meet him at the cave in an hour. The kids leave their fishing sticks on the dock and all run away.

We cut to a scene of Bill leaving the house with his sleeping bag. Charlotte Anne is playing with a dollhouse on the porch while their mother sits in a rocking chair.

Charlotte Anne: I wanna go camp in the cave

Bill: you’re too small to go out without being scared.

Seriously? She’s not much bigger than Tom Till. I get that Bill wouldn’t want his sister along, but god.

Mrs. Collins tells Charlotte Anne she needs to stay here and keep her company while Bill’s gone. Nice save, mom! She tells Bill to be safe, and he goes to say goodbye to his dad, who tells him he’ll leave the back door open in case Bill decides to sleep in his nice warm bed. Dad leaves, and Circus comes up. Bill asks where Dragonfly is.

Circus: You mean scaredy cat? He’s decided he’s too scared to go, and now mom won’t let either of us go because the cave is too close to the cemetery. He totally ruined my whole weekend.

Bill: Let’s go talk to your mom

Circus: Good luck

I see Tom Till has done his work on Dragonfly’s mom. I kinda wish that scene hadn’t been cut, because I really want to know exactly how he went about doing it.

In any case, Dragonfly and Circus’ mom proves rather easy to convince. The acting is rather terrible. So Dragonfly and Circus both get to go, yay.

We then get a shot of Poetry on his way to the cave. He comes across a sheet hanging to dry on a line. He takes the sheet off the line, puts it around himself, and smiles. The scene could have ended here, I would have gotten it. Instead we get Poetry rolling around the ground in the bedsheet for like, 2 whole minutes. Whoever owns that sheet is going to be pissed.

“Oh Janie!” He calls, and runs away.

So, we were just walloped over the head with the fact that Poetry is going to drape a bedsheet over either himself or the lamb to try and scare the gang. It would have been better if the directors hadn’t shown Poetry doing that, because then the audience wouldn’t see it coming.

The kids all reach the cave. Poetry and Circus make fun of Dragonfly for not wanting to come. The kids all argue over who gets to sleep in the middle. Apparently they all want to sleep in the middle because they are all a little scared. Um, if you were scared, wouldn’t you want to be sleeping on the end, so you could get up and run away faster? I feel like if a ghost really came, the kids in the middle would be screwed.

The kids make a fire, and as they sit around it, they think of Bob, and we finally get some clue as to what all the trouble is. We are shown scenes from other movies where Bob Till is pretty mean. One of the kids even brings out a harmonica to set mood music during the flahsbacks.

Bob says things like:

  1. Well if it isn’t the worm collector and his good for nothing friends!
  2. Are you revival sissies having fun in the water!
  3. Don’t even think about trying to fish, tom
  4. Come nightfall, there won’t even be a revival
  5. You sent our uncle to jail last night, and your’e gonna live to regret it.

Given what the directors say on the commentary I can barely hear, I think Bob Till tried to burn down the church. Noble cause, as long as nobody was in it at the time.

The directors think that these flahsbacks are a good way to remind the audience of why the gang won’t sign that paper. I agree, but I also kind of think it isn’t enough. Ok, so Bob’s been kind of an asshole. But what did he do to get arrested?

As the gang settles down in the cave for the night, Dragonfly squirms around like his pants are on fire.

“I landed on something hard, it hurts.”

“But we already moved all the rocks,” says Big Jim.

It turns out that all that squirming around is because Dragonfly is lying on… a cuff link. I’d read about cuff links before, of course, but never actually seen one in real life, so I didn’t know what they were. Dragonfly’s excessive squirming was caused by something smaller than a quarter. This is what we call over acting. It just makes the character look stupid.

Bill notices that the cuff link looks just like the one on the shirt his mom mended for Old Man Paddler.

Aside from Dragonfly’s overdramatic reaction, I like this. This is a clue, and it’s not too obvious.

Bill: How’d it get here?

Tom: Maybe  it got tangled up in our clothes, and we dropped it here. *smiles innocently* let’s go to sleep.

Tom Till still thinks his brother is hiding out in this cave, so this reaction makes way more sense than it did the first time I watched it.

The kids all go to sleep. We hear rustling in the bushes. Poetry wakes up and shines a flashlight in Bill’s face.

Poetry: “Come on. There’s a ghost over in the bushes just waiting for you and me to catch it. And bring your lantern.”

Bill and I are both yawning at this point because we are tired of Poetry’s lamb shenanigans. They take too long to set up, and they’re not even that funny.

The 2 boys exit the cave to find Janie tied to a tree just outside. “What int he world?!” Shouts Bill. I wonder how the kids can possible sleep through their shouting.

“Ok,” says Poetry. “You hold Janie steady, and I’ll put my blanket over her.”

Janie makes loud “baaaaing” noises and the boys hide behind the tree. Dragonfly wakes up to the lamb’s baaaaaing. But not poetry’s earlier shouting? In any case, he gets scared. Because a lamb sound is soooooo scary.

“There’s a ghost outside!” Dragonfly says. “And it’s really real. Mom was right.” He screws up his face and makes like he’s about to cry.

Worst. Acting. Ever.

Circus wakes up, shoves Dragonfly back onto his pillow and says, “shut up and go back to bed.”

We get a shot of ghost Janie, and she does not even look remotely like a ghost. Besides, what ghost makes “baaaa” noises? HELLO does anyone in that cave have a BRAAAAAAAAAAAIN?

Anyway, Dragonfly won’t let the other kid sleep, so they all go outside to check. Dragonfly is convinced the ghost got Bill and Poetry. He whines and cries like a baby, and I’m totally with the other kids when they call him one, even though I don’t normally like name calling.

One of the kids exits the cave and goes, “it’s ugly!”

And it’s totally got lamb feet!

If the writers hadn’t told us that it was poetry, this scene could have sorta been exciting. There would have been some tension: actually a ghost, or Bill and Poetry pulling a prank? Ok maybe it wouldn’t have been that suspenseful but it would’ve been better than this snoozefest.

Yanno what would have made a lot more sense here? Is if Bob dressed up as a ghost to try and lure the kids away from the cave. Bonus points if Bill and Poetry are also trying, and the rest of the gang goes. “Well if it was you all along, who’s that?” That would still be expected and predictable, but it wouldn’t be as boring and contrived as it is now.

The kids go rip the sheet off Janie. Poetry and Bill jump out of the trees and scare the gang, probably more than the lamb did.

Big Jim: this lamb needs to get back to its mother now.

That’s the smartest damn thing you’ve said all movie.

So the kids go and put Janie in the barn. For some reason this requires all 7 of them. This part was totally contrived to get the kids out of the cave so Bob can lead them on a chase through the woods.

Dragonfly sees something white. Poetry comes out of the barn and says that Janie is in his pen. They ask if he’s sure, and then someone shouts, “hey there goes your lamb!”

Guys, you all just saw poetry put the lamb in the barn. Also, that “lamb” is pretty human shaped. I guess they all figure it out, because they all start shouting, “Bob, wait!” Bob runs away from what has got to he be world’s stupidest group of children ever.

One of the kids jumps on Bob and grabs his shirt. Bob shrugs out of his shirt and runs into the cave. The kid stands there holding the white shirt. Circus remarks that the cuff link on the shirt matches the one they found in the cave.

Big Jim tells the guys to form a line outside the mouth of the cave. They have the ghost trapped now, they’re sure of it.

Bill notes that the shirt is the exact same one his mom repaired for old Man Paddler, which we already knew, so I don’t see how this is relevant?

We hear a loud grating sound, and I can’t believe Bob would have waited so long before opening the trap door. Or maybe that’s supposed to be the trap door closing, I don’t know. in any case, they gang decide to go in after Bob.

The cave is empty, so where did Bob go?

Wait a second…the kids are all talking about “whatever it was” and “it sure wasn’t a ghost because ghosts don’t wear shirts” and “That couldn’t be old man paddler, so who was it?”

Do you seriously mean to tell me that these kids haven’t figured out it was Bob Till, even though they were shouting, “Bob wait?” Or was that just Tom Till shouting it and I’m the only one who heard him because in addition to being the stupidest children in the world, they’re also the deafest?

As they are arguing over whether or not the figure was a ghost, Old Man Paddler comes in. They give Old Man Paddler the shirt.

Old Man Paddler: Where did you get that?

Big Jim: I tore it off of Big Bob Till a couple minutes ago.

Old Man Paddler invites them to spend the night in his cabin, so he can make them some sassafras tea.

Kid: But we’re not anywhere near your cabin

Old Man Paddler: Actually y’are. Follow me.

Old Man Paddler shows them the secret passage from the cave to his house. We don’t get to see it, because the set designers didn’t have a big enough budget to make one. We just get some shots of the kids crawling around in the dark. The directors had the kids crawl around the fake cave, and just shot really close to them in the dark.

Circus: how’d this get here?

Old Man Paddler: I’ll explain later

Except he never does.

Old Man Paddler: I’ve been letting Bob stay in my cabin while I’ve been trying to convince the authorities to give him a second chance.

Bill: Why?

Old Man Paddler: Cuz I would have wanted the same thing for any of my boys.

They come out the cellar door and go into Old Man Paddler’s cabin. Old Man Paddler makes them sassafras tea, and they sit around the fire.

We hear loud coughing coming from off screen.

Old Man Paddler: That’s bob. He’s sick, poor feller. He ain’t even got enough clothes of his own. I’ve been letting him wear some of mine. That’s where the white shirt come from. He been cleaning up around the cemetery around my boys’ graves. he didn’t want to be seen during the daytime so I been letting him go at night. He still has a sense of shame, you know.

Big Jim reaches over and pulls the paper out of his pack. He asks if Old Man Paddler has a pen. he and the rest of the sugar creek gang go around signing the paper. The characters who got real names sign those, but Circus just signs her name as “circus.” Seriously, they couldn’t have bothered to give a real name?

Then we get a scene I wasn’t expecting, so props for the non predictable ending. I kind of like that this movie ends on a cliffhanger, but I almost feel it would be more appropriate for a TV series episode than a movie. It gets a pass, though, because I was expecting this really corny cheesy ending where Bob comes back and becomes part of the Sugar Creek Gang and they all hug and cry and shit.

The kids excitedly take the signed paper back to the schoolhouse. They all run and shout “Miss Lily! We signed the paper!”

But when they get into the schoolhouse, Miss Lily is gone.

The man standing at the blackboard looks at the Sugar Creek Gang.

Mr. Black: First of all, I am not Miss Lily. She has been unexpectedly called away for a few weeks. Second, signing papers does not keep children out of trouble. The only solution for misbehavior (picks up a beech switch) is strict discipline. (He whacks the desk with the switch.)

The Sugar Creek Gang stands there in shock. A drumroll plays. Fade to black, roll credits. Done. That…  was actually well done. Props to whoever wrote that.

And that’s that. We’re done. So, a few things.

I like the fact that the character  of Circus was turned into a girl, and I like the fact that, for the most part, the gang sees her as an equal. The only time her gender ever comes up is in the scene where the boys tackle her after she surprises them like a squirt gun, and Big Jim says that it shouldn’t take 3 boys to take down one girl. Other than that, I don’t think it comes up. No one tells Circus she can’t stay in the cave because she’s a girl and girls are too scared, and no adults try to make her behave more like a lady. Is that realistic? Well, probably not.

It would have been nice to see more character development from Circus, but there are only 5 of these movies, and there’s 7 gang members. That’s way too many kids to be able to fully develop well rounded characters for. I think the movie should have cut like 4 of those kids. We’d have to keep Bill and Poetry, Tom Till is needed for the plot, and for shits and giggles let’s keep Dragonfly. The other characters didn’t really do much, and they’re all kind of interchangeable.

Overall, this movie is… well, it’s not good. But I don’t hate it. It’s actually not that bad. Yes it was boring beyond belief and way too long, but I happen to agree with the directors that certain parts of it were well done. The message of the movie is there, but the reader isn’t pounded over the head with it.

I think this movie is a good example of the fact that you can have a very Biblical message without having the characters sound like walking New Testaments.

I like the movie way better this way, because, in the end, when the Sugar Creek Gang was signing the paper, you know that they did it because they realized it was the right thing to do. They came to this realization because they now had compassion for Bob. They saw him as a person, and they were willing to give him a second chance.

If the gang had done this, say, after Old Man Paddler read to them some bible verses and preached at them for a bit, the affect would have been different. The kids, then, would have signed the paper because they were guilt tripped into it. They would agree to treat Bob Till with respect because God told them to, rather than because they had learned to be compassionate individuals.

I think that doing the movie this way gave the characters some growth that they wouldn’t have had otherwise. It is really the only character development any of them besides Bob Till get.

So, even though this movie is terrible, I still say it’s a step in the right direction for Christian films.





On Becoming A Man Chapter 11

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Chapter 11

Choosing Friends

This chapter contains the same ideas as its female counterpart, but is a little bit different. So, let’s see exactly what those differences are.

When you were a boy you had many young friends, and you thought a great deal of them. During childhood you took these friends more or less for granted. You did not have to choose them. You simply became acquainted with them because they happened to attend your school or to go to your church or to live in your neighborhood. But now that you are approaching manhood, friends are meaning more and more to you. From now on you will exercise your right to choose whom you will as your friends, and the choices you make must be made intelligently.

I never really took any of my friends for granted, for the simple fact that I rarely managed to make any. When I made a friend, it was a conscious choice. As far as intelligent choices of friends went…well, anyone who didn’t call me “retarded” was pretty much a good choice. Or so I thought at age 7.

In any case, teenagers really care a lot about what their friends think.

Your choice of clothes is influenced by what the other boys are wearing.

I thought boys didn’t really care much about clothes. At least, the ones on planet Adventist didn’t, if they didn’t want to be thought of as gay.

The author goes on to say that teen boys’ attitudes toward their teachers and their preferences for entertainment are also often influenced by what their friends think, to the point where, gasp, teen boys care more about what their friends think than about what their parents think!

Ok but what about what they think? If you can’t form your own preferences without friends to guide you, you need to sit down and rethink your life.

It is perfectly natural for you to want to be received well by your friends. When you are “in good” with them you feel secure…. but when, for some reason, your friends criticize you, you feel downcast. When they make fun of your clothes or call you a piker or sneer about your job, you take it seriously and set about changing things so as to bring yourself into favor again with those whose tastes and opinions you respect.

What the hell is a Piker? According to google, a piker is”

  1. one who gambles or speculates with small amounts of money

  2. 2 :  one who does things in a small way; also :  tightwad, cheapskate

So, the teen boy in Shryock land is either being made fun of for not gambling enough, or for being a tightwad. I would venture to guess the author is referring to the latter definition because Adventists, in general, are against gambling.

I still maintain that anyone who worries that much about what his friends think needs to sit down and rethink his life. If your friends don’t like your job, who cares? Screw them and their opinion and go find new friends. Life is too short trying to waste time pleasing snobs.

This increased emphasis on the opinions of your friends, now that you have reached your teens, is part of the normal process of learning how to be on your own.

What he describes here actually sounds more like someone who is dependent on their friends’ opinions.

The author goes on to say that the desire for friends and social activity is a very normal part of growing up.

This normal desire for companionship lays the foundation for the later desire to have a home of your own.

So, desiring friends is normal because eventually it leads to the desire to have a wife?

The author goes on to say that it’s important to develop a large circle of friends, because then you learn what you do and don’t like in a partner, and will be better equipped to select a life partner.

I don’t disagree that having a large circle of friends can be a good thing, but it’s not for everybody. There are people out there who prefer smaller groups of close friends, and that’s ok too.

The author also says that, as children, we placed the same value on each friend. But as we reach our teens we develop a friend we like best of all, and we refer to them as “our pal.”

This book is very very dated. I would have used the term “best friend.”

The author goes on to describe how best friends work, and it’s pretty normal stuff: they talk about things that are important to each other, they help each other when they get into trouble, they like to be members of the same ball team, etc.

But if you have been wise, you have not allowed your friendship with your pal to make you snobbish in your dealings with other boys.

Funny. This is the exact thing he said to the girls.

See, even though a boy has a pal, he should still be friends with lots of other boys, because it’s good to have a wide circle of friends.

Not everyone wants a wide circle of friends. Not everyone has the privilege of getting along with lots of children their own age. Sometimes the reason for this is the person in question, and sometimes there are circumstances that you can’t control.

If you fail to make friendships with the larger group, it is possible that you will become selfish and think more of your own interests than of the possibilities for helping others and being of service to humanity at large.

When I was a teen, this sentence struck fear into my heart. I was not the type of person who could make friends with the larger group, even if I had wanted to. First because most of the school population had decided they didn’t like me, and second because I didn’t want to. I am an introvert. I want a small group of close friends, and that’s about it. I do not want a large group that I am not close to. There are various ways of being normal, and I feel like this author thinks only one is actually valid.

The author also thinks It’s also a good idea to become friends with a wide variety of people because that’s how you develop a well rounded personality.

Teenage boys are often painfully frank with one another. When they observe certain peculiarities they mention these freely, allowing adequate opportunity for them to be modified. So you learn to give and take in this association with the group of boys your own age, you will become less sensitive and more agreeable.

Well, ok, but why can’t you have this same thing from a slightly smaller group of boys?

Somewhere in the mid to late teens, your interest in friends will widen to include, gasp, girls! Because you’d never have thought of being friends with a girl before! Girls had cooties, yuck! (That was me being snarky, the author does not actually mention cooties.)

As you make friends with girls, one particular girl will become particularly special to you. In the beginning, you feel free to discuss this with your best friend pal, and if your pal approves of the girl, you become even more interested in said girl. If your friends do not approve of her, it’s likely that you will stop wanting to have anything to do with her.

Wow. Sounds like the author thinks teens’ actions are pretty much based on the opinions of their friends. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it can be a good idea to ask your friends about a particular person you are thinking of getting romantically involved with. But unless they say things like, “She totally tried to put her hand in my pants after I said no,” then terminating a relationship based solely on their opinion sounds really unhealthy.

Oh and of course you’re looking for a girlfriend. We already had a chapter on homosexuality, so there’s really no need to mention it ever again. The author literally never mentions homosexuality outside of chapter 6.

Eventually, perhaps in your early 20s, you will form a friendship with some young woman who seems to mean more to you than any of the boys. When this time comes you will even be willing to risk  the disapproval of the boys, if necessary, in order to continue the friendship with the one you admire.

I have seen this happen in the late teens as well. Not sure why the author is placing this event in the early 20s. But sure, we’ll roll with it.

This change in attitude indicates a shifting of your loyalties in preparation for the time when you will establish your own home….the fact that your loyalties have shifted will indicate that you are approaching a time when your first allegiance will be properly reserved for one who will become your wife.

Hang on, I’ve always thought you were supposed to listen to your friends when they say they dislike your boyfriend, because you’re probably a little blinded by your infatuation? At least, that’s the advice –I– got growing up.

Also, if I ever do have a family, my first allegiance won’t be my spouse. It’ll be any children I have. A spouse could eventually fend for his or herself. A child could not. One’s first loyalty should always be to one’s children.

Now that we have traced the sequence through which you will pass in establishing your various friendships, it is time that we should back up a bit and discuss the significance of these friendships.

Oh, goody.

It would be fun to survey people and see if they have actually passed through sequences of friendships as the author has described, but ultimately I have better things to do with my time.

The author goes on to talk about loyalty, and how loyalty to one’s friends can influence a person. I wonder if this is what Shryock was like as a teenager, if he was the type of person who always had to make sure his friends approved of his clothes, his job, etc.  Sometimes a person’s writing tells us more about themselves than it does about whatever they’re trying to tell us.

In OBAW Shryock gave the example of a girl who buys a dress, and asks her friends’ opinion on it. In this book, he gives an example of a boy buying a new bike or motorcycle or a new suit.

The first time you display your new purchase before your friends, you are eager to observe how they will react. If they admire it, you feel reassured. Your confidence in your friends opinions makes you feel that you have made a wise choice. But if they criticize the color or the brand of your new purchase, you feel somewhat taken aback and lose some of your pride in that article forever after.

Yanno, I would use this illustration as a good example of someone who needed to become their own person and ride that bike or wear that suite regardless of what their friends think about it.

The author doesn’t think like that. He jumps straight from this into saying that if our friends are studious people who care about getting good grades, we will also be studious people who care about getting good grades. If our friends ridicule us for getting a good grade, however, then we will find ourselves trying to fail just to prove we are not different from them.

Anyone who goes to that much effort to please their friends needs to develop a backbone. The teenage Shryock must have been a very insecure little boy who was secretly terrified of losing his friends. Either that or he was well adjusted but somehow thinks no one else is.

This human trait of craving the approval of one’s social group becomes such an important factor in your life that it can even modify your attitude toward religion.

Ah, this argument. If your friends are religious, you’ll try to be religious too. If your friends are the type to fall asleep in church, you also will be the type to sneak Star Trek novels into church in your bible case.

This is the real reason they want you to choose your friends carefully. It is also the reason I have cut off contact with a great many people I used to be friends with. If you are one of those people, I am so sorry.

From this discussion you will realize that the approval or disapproval of your teenage companions may have a tremendous influence on your conduct, attitudes, and ideals. In fact in the cases of many teenagers, young friends mean even more in this regard than parents.

It is true that I sometimes considered my friends’ opinions as more important than my parents’. In some cases I now regret this, in others, I don’t.

Because they are influenced so much by their companions, parents sometimes feel that their sons have become rebellious.  Actually, the teenage boy does not intend to rebel against the wishes and ideals of his parents, but when these are in conflict with the attitudes of his companions, he may prefer the sanction of his friends to that of his parents.

I would say this is true in a lot of cases. However, in my case, I absolutely wanted to rebel against my parents’ wishes and ideals. Not because I wanted to rebel, but because I saw that my parents were trapped in cult like thinking, and I wanted to be done with that. At 16, I wasn’t physically able to leave, and I wasn’t really able to make myself leave mentally either, but I did take that first step of realizing I needed to.

In any case, there’s a lot of danger in placing the opinions of our friends over that of our parents, for it means we might end up making compromises and going against our consciences.

So, what’s a teenage boy to do when his friends want to do something his parents wouldn’t approve of?

The answer is preventative: the teenage boy must choose his friends carefully. The type of friends you have will determine what kind of person you become. Or so they author believes.

In order for friends to enjoy each other’s companionship, they must think very much alike and act alike.

I find that Seventh Day Adventists in general do not know how to be friends with someone who is fundamentally different from themselves. It’s probably why I never learned to do it either. I don’t need to think or act like my best friends in order to enjoy their company.

When you choose your friends, you should ask yourself, “is this the type of person I want to be?” If the answer is yes, then go ahead and be friends with them. If not, then reconsider.

Look. If I thought that way, I’d never have any friends. Or I would have only friends who thought the way I did. And What fun would that be? I have an Adventist friend, still. Do I want to be like her? Absolutely not. Although I love her dearly, I do not wish to become an Adventist again. But there’s no reason we can’t still be friends and do things like go to the aquarium or the holocaust museum together. She lives in another state now, so we don’t hang out as often as we used to, but we still enjoy each other’s company. I’m sure many of you could tell similar stories, or give different examples of having friends with very different values than you do.

But on Planet Adventist, friendships are essential, and you must choose correctly.

But you say, “the young people in my community have different ideals from those of my parents. They think my parents are strict and that I am peculiar because I will not do the things they like to do. how can I choose ideal friends under such circumstances?

Notice, first, that the author talks about a child worrying about finding friends to match their parents‘ ideals. In the next paragraph, the author will talk about the teen’s ideals. It’s assumed that these will be one and the same, and that’s not always the case.

Actually it would be better for you not to develop intimate friendships than for your friendships to be developed with those whose ideals and standards are lower than yours.

I don’t have a citation for this, so I could be wrong, but isn’t this incredibly untrue? It’s not healthy to refuse to have any close friends, especially if the only reason for not having close friends is that these friends have different ideals than you do. Also, by choosing friends who are very different from you, you learn how to get along with others outside your tiny little bubble. And that is a very important skill to develop.

Even I could use a crash course in “getting along with people who believe differently.”

The choice of friends becomes especially important when religious considerations are at stake. were you to form a close friendship with one whose religious beliefs differ from yours, the chances are that your own views would become modified in the direction of those of your friend.

A lot of Adventists (though by no means all of them) will not make friends, or at least, they won’t form close friendships, with non Adventists. Is their faith really so fragile that they are scared that one friend could tear it down?

Now, by all means one should respect the religion of one’s friend. If your friend is constantly making fun of you for your religion, then yes it is time to find some new friends. But otherwise, why can’t an Adventist be best friends with a Catholic?

Even though you decide to attend a boarding school where most of the students profess the same religion as you, you will still find many whose personal ideals are not so lofty as yours. Even here, then, you will have to exercise discretion in your choice of friends.

There are actually a surprising amount of students at Adventist boarding schools who aren’t Adventist. Usually they’re fleeing undesirable home situations, or they are the children of Adventist parents who are forced to attend. Some of these children do eventually convert (or reconvert) to Adventism through the efforts of the Academy.

You are not being snobbish simply because you choose your friends carefully.

Yes, you are. That is what we call it when someone will only make friends with someone of the “right” religion.

If the author was talking about not wanting to be friends with someone who, say, freely throws around the N word, I would agree with him. I don’t want to associate too much with racists. But barring someone from close friendship simply because your faith is so weak that having a Muslim best friend would destroy it? That’s snobbish.

A young person shares the reputation of his friends. Therefore, if you keep company with young people of questionable reputation, it will be assumed that you are fo the same type. But if your companions have high standards, you will be given credit for the same.

I think people need to stop judging people based on their choice of friends, but that’s another rant.

During your early teens your close friendships are with other boys.

Because of course a 13 year old boy would never have a girl as a close friend. That never happens!

As you become older you will be seeking opportunities to become acquainted with certain of the young women.

Because boys never befriend girls before they hit puberty, of course.

When girls decide who to get close to, they look at you and your friends. If your friends are of an unsavory sort, they will assume that you are the same, and they won’t want to get to know you. Now, I could kind of see this being a good thing if your friends are the type to try and grab a girl’s ass as she walks by, but otherwise, really? Maybe she should stop being so judgmental.

It is probable that many of your companions of future years will be selected from among your acquaintances of the teens.

Actually, I remember learning in health class the year I went to public school that most of our teenage friends wouldn’t still be our friends by the time we reached adulthood. Has the world changed that much since this book was written? Is this advice incredibly dated? Or is it one of those situations where what the author wrote was never true?

Of the close friends I had as a teenager, I don’t think I speak to any of them today. And if I do, I don’t talk to them very much.

So, how does one tell if someone is a good candidate for friendship? Well, if you live at home, invite them over for dinner, then ask your parents what they think. If you live at boarding school, you can’t do that. In OBAW he suggested a girl ask the advice of the dean or the guidance counselor. Here he takes a slightly different approach.

I recall that as a young man I hesitated to seek counsel in my choice of friends. I believe that most young men react as I did and hate to ask one another, “what do you know about John Jones?” Or, “What kind of girl is Mary Smith?”

Basically, he’s saying that even he didn’t like this advice as a teen. He didn’t mention this at all in OBAW.

Usually the information by which you can judge another young person comes indirectly and casually in conversation, rather than in direct answer to your questions. Therefore, if you are observing and if you act deliberately rather than hastily, you can usually pick up enough information by casual contacts to enable you to make a wise decision.

This….actually makes a lot more sense than going to the dean or a guidance counselor and having them choose your friends for you. If I had gone to Mr. H and asked him who he thought I should be friends with, he’d have given me an odd look.

Shryock does still urge the teen, in this book, to seek out the advice of an older person in helping you to seek friends. But he also mentions being friendly and observant with other students.

Remember, this book was written first. It’s possible that Shryock got some flack for the way he answered this question and was told, for the next book, to just tell the young ladies to see an older person first.

The author then goes on to talk about how careful we would be if we were loaning out a car to someone. We would hesitate to loan a car to someone we didn’t know and trust, and if we were considering doing so, we’d ask around about the person’s reputation. Is he or she a safe driver? Will he or she pay for any damages that might occur?

But in the choice of friends you are dealing with a possession much more valuable than a mere motorcycle or automobile. In this latter case it is your own personality and character that are involved…..

If you entrust your personal reputation with friends who do not have good records of their own, you will later regret such friendships. Why should you hesitate, then, to seek counsel in such an important matter?

I am not a car. My personality and character are not something you can take with you and put in your pocket. I am a person, not a possession. Just because I hang out with a Muslim does not mean I am going to convert to Islam. And if someone decides to base their opinion of me on my friends, fuck them. They’re probably not someone I want to be friends with anyway. Life’s too short to hang out with judgmental pricks.

Then Shryock says something I agree with:

It should now be emphasized, however, that you, as an individual, have as much responsibility to your friends as they have to you…..

You must not expect your friends always to come to your rescue and carry the responsibility for your welfare. You must recognize that you owe as much to them as they do to you.

This is the end of the chapter, and the only part I really agree with. Otherwise I think one would do well to read this section as an example of what not to do.









Heather, an Adventist Girl Book 1 Chapter 6

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Secrets and Friends

Chapter 6: A New Friend


Because this is a book, you all knew what was coming. This is how Heather makes friends with Laura Douglas.

We last left off with Laura walking in on Heather, who has just replaced Laura’s diary on the shelf.

Laura is understandably angry that Heather has been messing with her things, and then notices her diary on the shelf. She accuses Heather of reading it.

“I did not,” Heather insisted.

Laura turned the book over in her hands. “Your sticky finger marlks are on it! You’re a liar!”

This is where I almost feel it would have been better to have Laura walk in on Heather while she was holding the diary. It would have somewhat heightened the tension, looked more incriminating, and then we wouldn’t have this weird paragraph here. Laura, once she had calmed down, could then have realized that Heather was standing there holding a closed book, instead of going, “you look honest, so I should have trusted you.”

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Heather’s blood boiled. “I’m not a liar,” she yelled.

This book has a weird thing with exclamation marks. In my opinion, sentences that don’t need them have them, and this statement up there should have one.

I know it’s a bit nitpicky, but by god I want my exclamation marks in appropriate places dammit.

“I didn’t read your diary. If I had read it, then I would have known that this was your secret corner, too. And I certainly wouldn’t have stayed here, then, because I think you are mean and unfriendly, and I wouldn’t want to be near anything that was yours.”

If Heather is still meant to be yelling here, there should also be an exclamation mark.

Instead of yelling back, Laura bursts into tears. Heather regrets shouting at her, so yes, she was meant to be shouting in the above paragraph. She apologizes to Laura for yelling at her, and I can’t think why. She hasn’t said anything untrue and really, this is quite tame. Definitely a lot cleaner than 8 year old me would have been.

Laura sniffled and dried her tears. “It’s all right,” she said at last and brushed her hair away from her tearstained cheeks. “You seem like the kind of person who would always tell the truth. I should have believed you when you said you didn’t read my diary. I’m sorry, too.”

You hear all the time in SDA circles that someone who is honest will somehow be recognizable. I can tell you, the most honest seeming children are secretly little shits sometimes. So statements like this really bother me. It’s also unnecessary. Laura could have looked through her diary, realized there were no sticky finger prints on the pages, and then believed her.

Heather forgives Laura, and they sit silently for a moment. Laura explains why she has been unfriendly to Heather. Apparently her mom has recently died, and then they moved to Australia. Laura has been afraid to make friends because she doesn’t want someone she loves to die and leave her alone again.

All this seems pretty realistic to me, I could see that. What I can’t see is it coming out in actual conversation. This is a  work of fiction, so I’ll ignore it.

Laura decides she’s tired of being lonely, so she and  Heather decide that they are friends. They go upstairs and find Aunt Rachel, who scolds Heather for disappearing like that. Laura covers for her, explaining that she has been showing Heather around the hotel. Aunt Rachel raises an eyebrow, but decides not to question this. She tells Heather to check in before she wanders off next time.

There’s a section break, and we cut to the girls racing home after school. They’ve been promised a surprise. Laura’s dad takes Heather’s family to their new house. It’s not 100% completed, but it’s good enough to live in, despite the fact that they still have no floor.

As the Gibson family unpacked, Mrs. Gibson found Heather’s diary. It got stuffed in with the rest of the books on the ship. Mr. Douglas says he also has a surprise for Laura. He’s starting to build a new house, and this time it’s their house. The surprise is that it is right next door to Heather’s house, yay!

Mrs. Gibson says she feels better having gotten out of the crowded hotel room, and I sympathize.

They all gather around to pray, and Heather thanks Jesus for her new friendship with Laura and their new house.

And that’s it. That’s the end of the book. There’s no afterward with historical facts or details about the time period and place. It just wraps up the story neatly and ends.

As far as Adventist literature goes, this isn’t the worst book I’ve ever read. The dialogue is mostly realistic, though a little stilted in places, and it’s kind of simple and very campy.

It’s not great literature, but then, neither are the American Girl books. I would still recommend American Girl books over Adventist Girl books, because for all their faults, American Girl books at least try to portray major issues girls of the time period were going through, and some authors did not shy away from specifics. When reading about Addy (1864-1865), we get a feel for just how bad slavery was. We don’t get all the gory details, but we get enough. Heather isn’t going through anything as major as Addy, so maybe that’s a bad comparison. But I do feel like, with American Girl, I really got a feel for the girl’s worlds, whereas I did not get that at all with Adventist Girl.

I feel like I went through that book really fast. If any of you have suggestions about things I should cover, let me know. These books are really short, so there’s not really much to talk about. If I was better at writing, I could probably do entire books in one post, but my mind works better if I sort them into chapters.