Fighting for Hope: Elliott Grace Harvey’s Story – Part Two

In this seriesPart One | Part Two | Conclusion


Orthodox Presbyterian Church – 18 years
However imposing, formal, and elitist you might imagine “Orthodox Presbyterian” to be, it’s all of that and then some. At first impression however, your experience with church members will likely be warm and welcoming, though distant and non-committal.

I want friends so desperately and I’m not going to have any if I don’t do anything. I think that’s a big part of my problem, I’m very lonely. I’ve been at my church 16 years. No one calls me when a group of kids are getting together. No one picks me to kills time with. No one wants me. I just want want friends, people to love with, laugh with, live with, grow with. – Journal entry

The following is a direct quote taken from The Book of Church Order of the OPC. It contains in alarming detail the measure of control they expect to exact over their members:

“All governing assemblies have the same kinds of rights and powers. These are to be used to maintain truth and righteousness and to oppose erroneous opinions and sinful practices that threaten the purity, peace, or progress of the church. All assemblies have the right to resolve questions of doctrine and discipline reasonably proposed and the power to obtain evidence and inflict censures. …They are to watch diligently over the people committed to their charge to prevent corruption of doctrine or morals. Evils which they cannot correct by private admonition they should bring to the notice of the session.” – The Book of Church Order

My own OPC leadership regularly sent out letters to all parishioners if there was a “sin issue” involving a church member. These so-called sins included eating disorders, mental illness, unmarried pregnancy, marital struggles, and so forth.

This shaming effectively silenced the victims of the sexual, physical, and psychological abusers being harbored in the church.

I’m confused. Completely and utterly. People are so hard to figure out. I want to be real. But who people really are and what they tell you is so different. How do you know who to trust? – Journal entry

My mother asked for help from the leadership regarding her abusive husband. Little was done, arguably nothing legitimately helpful, and she was discouraged from seeking outside help.

The last month has been hard. Finding out that your church family isn’t what it seems is difficult. Lying, secretive, untrustworthy, unchanged. – Journal entry

When I was kicked out by my father, I was expressly instructed by a pastor not to tell anyone.

I was told they would help me find housing, and this kept me from going anywhere else for assistance, waiting for help that never materialized.

What I’m feeling: Scared. Alone. Scared of what I might do. Scared of messing up. Scared of Sundays. Scared of falling apart. Scared of admitting it, admitting anything. Scared of loving and not being loved back. Scared of disappointing people. Feeling trapped by my own walls. Afraid of the solution. Tired. – Journal entry

Much later after leaving the church, I detailed for all the church leadership my parent’s history of abuse, and abuse being currently committed against minors in their home. My appeal was based upon their current membership in good standing with the church, but after formal meetings and pleading for help nothing was done.

After roughly a year at the fabric store, I came home from work to a letter from my father giving me a few weeks to get out:

“The time has come young lady for you to leave our home, and move out on your own. Though I had hoped for better circumstances under which this transition could occur, it can not be helped or avoided at this point. As you will remember, this was my position a year ago. But after talking with several of our elders, I decided to exercise deference towards their counsel and allow you to remain in the home. I have in all sincerity young lady endeavored repeatedly to express my love for you, to show you grace and forgiveness in spite of your repeated rank disrespect, animosity, and bitterness towards me. I have appealed to you for forgiveness for my known past sins against you, but you have refused to forgive me, and have chosen rather to harbor this hatred against me, as well as any effort I have made to repair and restore our relationship, and now as you can see, it is affecting your other relationships, including the ones in this home. Hatred is toxic, and it will destroy your other relationships with sound Christians. I have told you that hating me is not worth this, but you have rejected my counsel in this. I have tolerated this toxic influence in this home long enough, and in light of your continued obstinance in this regard, it’s time for you to move out.
Now if you behave yourself during this transition, you will have till the end of August to be moved out. But if you continue this same nasty pattern, and continue to neglect the few duties you have in this home (it’s your week for dishes, make sure they get done each day), you will be out much sooner. Please do not test me on this, my mind is made up, I will not be moved.
If you have a change of heart and truly desire to seek to repair and restore our relationship that would be great, and I would be up for moving forward under the proper avenues of restoration with competent counsel and mediation. But your residence here is not required for that to happen. In fact, I believe it would be detrimental to the process.
Please don’t blow this off or procrastinate with this move, please seek all available avenues in the church for help in finding a new permanent residence, if you choose not to I will help you in this regard.
I am truly sorry that it has come to this young lady, but this is a choice that you have made repeatedly and finally over the past several years. As I told you before, I am not worth hating. You will and are ruining your life over these unresolved issues. Whether you believe me or not, I do love you, and it grieves me deeply to see you to make the choices you’re making. Now I have to make some choices, please act wisely and accordingly. Sincerely, Dad.”

I had nothing I could do, nowhere to go. My mom asked if I wanted her to say anything, I told her not to, I didn’t want her fighting with dad about it and making things harder for them.
A series of excerpts from my journal at the time:

– I’m so tired. Confused. Lonely. Lost. Down. I feel like the truth I’m looking for is somewhere staring me in the nose and I just can’t see it. I wish… I even just knew what I was looking for.
– So supposedly dad is bringing a complaint against me to the church. This is going to be a big ugly mess.
– I’ve never felt like I really could be myself or belonged anywhere but my family. Now I don’t even have that.
– I didn’t know I wanted someone who would stick with me even if I wasn’t good enough. Wasn’t perfect. Maybe there’s a person out there who could love me for me, but why not a christian? Is there such a person? Someone I could trust that much? I’m just so tired. Tired of this place.

Nearing my deadline to move out, I still had nowhere to go, and I had been abandoned by the people I thought would help.

In a moment of hopelessness was honest with my coworker when she asked me what was wrong. She shares about that conversation:

“Grace started to withdraw a bit which was concerning. …One day I came in to work and found her cross legged on her car hood eating lunch. She looked upset, so I stopped and chatted her up a bit.
She confessed the most heartbreaking situation- her dad was kicking her out. Her? WTF? Hard working, sweet, talented, that made no sense.
I never hesitated. You can move in with me.
Her big green eyes widened, and a single tear rolled down her cheek.
Well, I have cats and a stressful job, but a spare bedroom and you are welcome to it.” – A

I accepted her offer, and moved in within a week. I was running on adrenaline, doing everything I could to keep it together and just survive. I was starting to deal with the impact of my childhood:

“We settled in, her coming and going when ever she wanted… When I had a minute, I cleaned out the kitchen so she could be comfortable this was *her* house. I came into the living room after work that day to find the girl curled up in a fetal position on the corner of the couch. Apparently, cleaning the kitchen set off ptsd. Her father ‘cleaned’ when mad, and the whole family pussycat stepped around when that was happening. We had a long talk after that admittance about how she lived with me now, she was her own person and could grow and set her own rules. She seemed to relax after that, and settled into her new life.” – A

I spent two wonderful years living with her. She was my angel in disguise, giving me a place to start to heal and move on. My parents were critical, but at this point I couldn’t afford to care.

Torching All That Is Sacred: Alexander Anon’s Story, Part Two

Torching All That Is Sacred — One Child’s Emergence From a Totalitarian Environment: Alexander Anon’s Story, Part Two

HA note: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Alexander Anon” is a pseudonym.


In this series: Part One | Part Two


Something people should know about me: I am a fighter. Now, I am not an obvious fighter, and if I was put into the ring, I guarantee nobody would put money on me; but that does not change what I am by nature. See, I am a quirky fighter.  I am weird.  I am unpredictable, though not always intentionally so.  For a while, I simply took what my parents dished out and did not question it.  I do not mean what they intentionally dished out; I mean that I adopted a victim mentality and pitied myself for being in the situations I found myself in.

As I grew older though, I started wanting to change things.  I would still take things timidly, but if they pushed too hard, a fire would flare up in me and I would push back.  Harder.  Through this, I learned that I am much stronger than I had ever previously thought.  I am not a victim; I am the one in control.  If my parents would chide me for engaging in foolishness, I would keep it coming and even ramp up my efforts.  What could they do?  I was invincible.  My foolishness knew no bounds; there were no depths which could be plumbed, no dregs that could be drained.  I could out resource them, outlast them, and outsmart them at virtually every corner until they admitted the futility of their efforts to make me into the cookie-cutter Christian homeschool child.  I had another advantage: the sibling just under me was much more openly defiant (although he used vastly different tactics), thereby allowing me to get by being just slightly less troublesome.

Since being in college, my mom has several times equated my academic success (completed undergraduate honors program with a GPA of 3.92) to having been homeschooled.  This is quite possibly true, but I have never quite had the heart to tell her the truth: her perceptions of my homeschooling experience are much different than my perceptions of that same experience.  If I was to be completely honest, what I enjoyed most was the freedom of homeschooling.  I could do what I wanted, when I wanted, and pursue whatever caught and kept my attention for as long as I wanted without interruption.  For me, at that point in my life, it meant creating Redwall cards that played similar to the Decipher Lord of the Ring’s trading card game.  I would spend hours reading the books, creating workable game mechanics and themes for each culture, and then drawing and coloring the cards.  I was an artist, and a not-too-bad one at that.  I was also an avid reader, but only if the book was of interest.  Many history books and other required readings were simply not to my tastes, and since there was no way to prove if I had actually read the book, I occasionally lied about how much of the book I had read in a particular day (or, at my worst, simply did not read the book while claiming I did).  I did this so that I could spend time doing what I wanted to do: Redwall cards.

I was also notoriously bad at science.  For a while, I thought I simply sucked at science.  Since then, I have realized I did not understand how to study at that point in time.  I would shove a bunch of scientific definitions in, then output them for the test.  On tests where there was more information to memorize, I would earn lower grades.  This measured nothing about my ability to actually understand science; it measured how well I could replicate 15+ definitions word-for-word, with each definition containing several sentences and sometimes looking more like paragraphs.  My junior year, she threatened to kick me into public school for my senior year if I failed a particular science test (since I wouldn’t then be able to pass that grade of science).  Needless to say, I took the ethical high ground and cheated my ass off.  I did not (and still don’t) think it is fair to both at once tell your child that public school is essentially hell and then threaten to send your child to that hell if they do not perform to your liking.

I mention these two aspects of my homeschooling life because they would later get me in trouble just when I thought I was home free in college.  After attending college a few years, I casually joked about how I sometimes wasn’t the best homeschool student as a kid.  To me, it was funny.  Look how well I’m doing in college despite goofing off the last few years I was homeschooled (11th & 12th grade).  My mom, on the other hand, broke out crying at even the hint that I had cheated or lied.  To her, my not taking some aspects of school seriously somehow reflected on her.  It told her she hadn’t done well enough homeschooling to make me care, even though not caring about school is typical for teenagers at that age and I had proven I could excel in college.  She had not failed in any sense of the word, since I was prepared for college and doing well.  But she did not see it that way; only saw that I was admitting homeschool had not been the perfect picture of happiness she thought it had been.

Secretly, deep down, I suspect the true reason she cried is because my goofing off the last 2 years I was homeschooled sent a clear message that I did not need her and homeschooling as much as she thought I did.  Did not need her as a teacher, that is.

This gets to the crux of the matter; it ties together this up-until-now rather bizarre and random story of my childhood.  I think that despite whatever reasons my mom thought she was homeschooling us for, her true motivation was to never have to be alone again after living her entire childhood virtually alone.  Homeschooling, while it may have been about us not getting hurt by others in public school, was also about her not getting hurt by nobody needing her.  It was about making us dependent on her, so that she felt wanted.  Needed.  Ironically, she sometimes lashed out when we expressed the very dependence on her that she had fostered in us.  More than a true need for us to be homeschooled was the need for her to have an identity outside of her children.  An identity that should have come from her relationship with my dad, and with friends her own age.  She needed to escape the burden of parenting for a time instead of embracing it even more fully and homeschooling us all.

I am not saying we should not have been homeschooled; but rather, homeschooling us should not have been the top priority.  She often screamed, “What about me? When do I get to do what I want to do?!?” when she got mad at us for needing her.  But the truth of the matter is this; she was too scared of nobody needing her to ever wander off and do something she wanted to do.  She was afraid that if she did wander off, she might return and find everyone had forgotten her, or worse: never even noticed she left in the first place.

This, then, is what I want to communicate: my entire childhood was shaped by events driven just as much by my mom’s need to be emotionally fulfilled as it was trying to give me what I needed in an education.

Possibly more.

The worst part is knowing she did not do this consciously, she simply failed to recognize what was going on and intervene.  This is not a ‘Fuck you, mom! Fuck you, dad!’ letter.  This is not an article to be used for arguing homeschooling is psychologically harmful and should therefore be overseen, controlled, or prevented by the government.  There is no political message here, no hint of animosity towards anyone; no purpose for saying any of this other than that it is the truth.

The truth.

Truth is never something I was good at hiding, or even wanted to hide.  I tell everyone who will listen that I would rather have a ‘fuck you!’ screamed in my face and punctuated with physical blows than have someone pretend to be my friend.  I do not care if I am physically assaulted; I care if I am told the truth.  Asshats are a dime a dozen; but honest people are virtually impossible to find.  Bluntness, that is.  People who throw social politeness under the bus in favor of calling it like it is.  The ‘ain’t no bullshit here, captain!’ kind of people.  There many honest people in the world, but few who will be blunt with you.

That is what I mean.

In order to avoid ending on a downer note, I will fully self-disclose that things have gotten so much better over the past few years I have been attending college.  Only my youngest brother and sister are still homeschooled, with my oldest sister having attended public school since 9th grade.  I do see my youngest brother struggle with many of the same things I did, but I know I am here to guide him through the confusion and pain that accompanies his upbringing.

More importantly, I know what helped me cope and have given him access to these means at a much younger age.  When I was growing up, I did not have anyone to reach out to about this.  My youngest brother can talk with me about this all; about how sometimes although our parents love us both very much, they do not act rationally and instead resort to violating their own rules and taking their emotional issues out on the children and use us to meet deep needs that we can never fullfill.  He can question me about why most people think the earth is billions of years old but he learns it is only several thousand.  I do not provide him with ‘the answers’, but ask questions to help him think through the issues on his own.

That is what true homeschooling should be: parents providing their children with an outlet to escape the biases and politics of public school without imposing their own biases and politics.  Because ultimately, that’s what homeschooling is: freedom.  Freedom to question authority, to question rules, to question the ‘no tolerance’ policies that are a virtual shitstorm in public schools.  My story is one of that freedom being unconsciously abused, but that same freedom can be used to free others from the abuses they may receive elsewhere.

As hinted at in my opening paragraph, eventually my parents figured a lot of their issues out and loosened the stranglehold conservative Christians had on their throats.  This legalism went to hell when our family became the black sheep of the congregation and the pastor and elders treated our family like shit.  We were accused of much, and treated like enemies instead of brothers and sisters in Christ like they claim to treat all believers.  What they failed to mention when you sign up is that their interpretation of the Bible only tells you to treat people as human if they think as you do and do not question what you demand of them.  Anyone who threatens their reputation, who is similar enough to them and then suddenly appears less than perfect, is quickly either intimidated to fall back into line or else cast out into the cold world to die a lonely and painful death.  Fortunately, our family pulled together and told them that while we appreciate their willingness to spend their entire lives with their heads on vacation in the wonderful world of Up-Your-Ass, our family preferred to admit we are living, breathing, feeling, fallible individuals who must address our shortcomings and forgive each other.

So yes, our family is no longer the perfect Christian, homeschooling family we once were. Thank God. And I mean that; I am both relieved to leave the bullshit and small-mindedness, and thankful to God for rescuing us from the bullshit.

As you can tell, I still believe in God. But not the Orthodox Presbyterian Church God that requires men to dominate women, for children to obey their parents without questioning what they are told to do, and for His followers to spend their time prior to dying and enjoying their life in blissful paradise feeling like shit because they believe happiness is automatically indicative of falling into sin.  Focusing on how fucked up you are, or others are, does nothing to solve the problem.  Even their own book tells them that much, but they still do not see despite claiming you do not see.  Slowly, their God died to me (not for me), and I can personally attest that this death did not occur on a cross.  It took place in my mind, after years of watching my family suffer the consequences of sucking it up when things got hard and pretending everything was alright.  However; this god did die at a cross.  Crossroad that is. The death of the OPC God was a crossroad where I switched paths.  Where our whole family switched paths.

I have never been more proud of our parents than when they essentially told our old OPC church to go fuck themselves. (This message was not communicated quite as bluntly, but the effect was the same).

In closing, I am not mad at my parents. I hold no bitterness for them, or anyone else, including the OPC church and their members.  I am still friends with many of them, and see the pleading looks in their eyes to come back when I occasionally visit.  But I see more than this.

Underneath the pleading for me to return to them I see another kind of pleading; a pleading for someone to rescue them from themselves.  As for me, I am never going back. Not permanently, although I do visit every once in a blue mooon. Having now experienced life in the open — in the sunlit world having emerged from Plato’s cave with the totalitarian forces striving to keep individuals locked away in the cave — I know what it is I will spend the rest of my life doing:

Fighting to free others from the blindness, from being emotionally used and feeling helpless to escape, whether it occurs while being homeschooled, public-schooled, or not schooled. Because using others, even unconsciously, to meet your needs is not right; and having gone through this myself, I find that I cannot wish it upon anyone else either.

We are Anonymous.

We are Legion.

We are Homeschooled.


End of series.

Torching All That Is Sacred: Alexander Anon’s Story

Torching All That Is Sacred — One Child’s Emergence From a Totalitarian Environment: Alexander Anon’s Story

HA note: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Alexander Anon” is a pseudonym.


In this series: Part One | Part Two


As I start, I wish to be clear that this story is intended to convey my experience of the complex phenomenon that was my homeschooling experience, not make broad claims about homeschooling in general; and that within this narrative I perceive not villains but instead numerous individuals that were products of factors they either did not understand or were helpless to change.  What follows is a tale of how homeschooling efforts collided with conservative Christian values to create the perfect maelstrom of do’s and don’ts, and the resulting insecurities I was left with in the wake of destruction caused by the brain-washing and intimidation tactics utilized by the primarily homeschooling congregation of the local Orthodox Presbyterian Church our family attended.

I guess the best place to begin this story is to discuss the dynamics of my parents’ relationships with each other, their seven children, and their parents growing up.  My mother had a hard life growing up, with her parents fighting constantly and physical violence prevalent.  Her experiences in public school were not much better, as she has mentioned on various occasions that she felt isolated, unwanted, and ignored.  The three main things she learned growing up were: (1) you keep fighting even when nothing is alright; (2) if nothing is alright, you shut up and pretend everything is alright; and (3) people will never give you what you want unless you trick them into giving you what you want.  My father, on the other hand, appears to have had a much healthier childhood, although certainly no childhood is ever without its scarring moments.

Although they are virtually mum on the circumstances surrounding their dating and eventual marriage, as best I can surmise my mom wanted to escape her emotionally damaging life at home and my dad possessed the perfect combination of charm and wit necessary to distract her from her emotional wounds.  Underneath his charm and wit; however, was an anger that would flare up from time to time and remind my mom of the dad she was forced to accept ‘loved her in his own way’, but certainly never expressed it in a manner that made her feel loved or accepted by him.

It was into this environment, sometimes wonderfully loving, other times frighteningly turbulent, that our parents brought seven children, of which I am the second oldest.  For the most part, we grew up in a stable, loving place and had the typical American childhood everyone longs for.

We were also homeschooled.

Much of the driving force behind my mom’s decision to homeschool us, I believe, was wanting to shield us from the horrible experience she had with public school.  Although our family never really talked about it, there was an unspoken understanding that people in general are mean, morally bankrupt, and frightening.  While never outwardly communicated, I tuned in to this message that people do not care about you and will ridicule you, and internalized it so that my self-confidence was (and still is, in many areas) virtually non-existent.

To this day I struggle to believe people in my college classes, on the street, in church, and everywhere else I go could find something to like about me.  Because people just don’t like or accept others.  People were monsters.  They were the unknown, and the unknown was frightening.

Our parents were overprotective of us.  Out of love, of course; but still overprotective to the point of being constrictive.  Even as teenagers, we were prohibited from riding our bikes further than a block away from our house.  This severely limited the number of friends we could have.

I can only remember a handful of times our parents had non-family members over to our house, and we certainly were not allowed to go to others’ houses to play unless they lived only a few houses away.  From this all, the message was clear: people are scary.  Something to be avoided.  I still have high social anxiety to this day because of our mom’s fear of being hurt by others.

One particular incident stands out to me.  My older brother was watching over a couple kids at a summer camp as a counselor for several weeks, and had made several friends (he was always more outgoing than I).  After the first week, one of the female friends he had made at camp returned to her home and sent a friendly email to my brother, who was still at camp.  I remember our mom flipping out to our dad because she thought my brother had a girlfriend.  I read the email myself; it was harmless.  The girl was just being friendly.  Even worse; why was the idea of my older brother (at that time in his teens) having a girlfriend something to freak out over?  Why did this idea deserve such a harsh, negative reaction?  I still do not understand to this day, and yet the message could not have been clearer: people are something we avoid.

To be clear, I am not trying to suggest that all homeschooling families are like this; this is certainly not the case, as I personally know family after family that encouraged their children to have as many friends as possible.  However; in our family, having friends almost always seemed bad.  There were a few exceptions.  A homeschooling family moved in down the street from us when I was a young teenager, and our families became as close as possible without being related by blood.  To this day, the two oldest boys in their family are my best guy friends.  Their family moved away after less than a year in our neighborhood.  A few years later, I met another homeschool family at our church and eventually became good friends with the two oldest girls.  Being friends with girls was new to me, since the only previous female friend I had made attended a homeschool co-op that our family left just a few weeks after I finally started feeling comfortable interacting with her.

Besides unintentionally (I truly believe my parents did nothing out of bad intent) restricting my access to friends for the greater portion of my childhood, several other areas of my life were censored out of a need to please God.  This was most noticeable in the music I was allowed to listen to.

I had no interest in music until our local church offered to pay for one cd for every 20 Westminster Shorter Catechism questions I memorized.  Being a homeschooler with little else to do, I beasted this mental feat.  Every time I recited 20 catechism responses, our mom would drive us to the local bookstore, listen to music samples from the cd’s we wanted, and read printouts of the lyrics.  Almost nothing was Christian enough for her tastes.  Newsboys’ Thrive, with its song ‘It Is You’ and lyrics “holy, holy is our God Almighty/ holy, holy is his name alone” was not good enough.  Relient K’s Anatomy of Tongue and Cheek, with lyrics such as “Never underestimate my Jesus/ You’re telling me that there’s no hope/ I’m telling you you’re wrong” (For the Moments I Feel Faint) was not good enough.

You get the picture.

I used to cry every time we returned from the bookstore with my 10th choice cd; or worse, empty-handed after killing an entire afternoon in the store reviewing lyrics.  The point of mentioning this isn’t to generate pity, or talk bad about my mom who I love very much; I bring this up because I learned several very important lessons through this experience:

1. Persistence

If a cd was shot down, my mom would agree to listen to it the next time we went.  Several times she would cave on the third or fourth listen simply because I kept making her listen to it again.  This was not always the case, as Skillet’s Collide album was shot down no matter how hard I tried to get her to accept it as Christian rock.

2. Self-Motivation

No one was going to get me the album I wanted to listen to unless I put in the hard work, constructed arguments my mom was willing to accept for why I should be allowed to have it (usually revolving around why the lyrics were “Christian” lyrics), and didn’t stop the barrage of arguments until I had won or was shut down completely.  Even when a particular album was shot down, I would pick a similar sounding album and push for that, because I suspected that while she claimed to be judging albums based on lyrical content, her genre preferences were also a significant deciding factor.  In other words, I became a social scientist formulating and testing hypotheses because of this process.  I am currently a first year Master’s student studying forensic psychology, and intend to pursue a Ph.D. in criminology.  The skills I learned as a result of these unpleasant music-judging trips have been invaluable to me throughout my academic journey.

3. There Is Always A Way

After trying for several years to get specific albums and failing despite all my best hypothesis testing and revising, I finally stumbled onto the perfect solution without even intending to.  My parents gave us the opportunity to play music, and after a few failed years of learning piano (I did not appreciate the teacher’s mechanical playing style and wanted to play a specific genre of music she did not let me learn), I took up guitar.  The guitar teacher was amazing in so many ways, the most important of which was he alternated between learning how to play and teaching me how to play the songs I wanted to learn.  For this, it was necessary to bring in a recording of the song for him to play along with and figure out the notes.  At first, I would bring in Christian music my mom had let me get.  Then, because I was embarrassed that the guitar teacher did not know any of these songs, I started bringing in more “secular” songs I had recorded on a cassette tape from the radio.  One day, I got the bright idea to search online to see if I could listen to the songs.  Quite accidentally, I discovered a place to illegally download mp3’s of the any song I ever wanted.  Needless to say, I secretly binged and downloaded hundreds of albums this way.  After years of secret listening to music this way and fearing being found out, I finally broke the silence and reported that I had access to any music I wanted and desired to pay the artists money to actually legally own the cd’s.  After the shock wore off, my mom reasonably agreed that the Christian thing to do was to pay money to own them legally since she couldn’t stop me from listening to them anyway, as long as I didn’t buy any “Eminem.”

One of my pet peeves growing up, and that will still get me fired up when I hear my dad tell my youngest brother this, is the phrase “just stop the foolishness.”  This phrase was the buzzword for enjoying yourself, reveling in the absurd nature of something, or presenting something logically impossible.  In other words, it was the response used to prevent a child from being a child and utilizing their imagination.

Foolishness was a concept derived from the Bible (particularly Proverbs), and foolishness was to be avoided at all costs.  Six year olds laughing at farts was “foolishness”; but it was not “foolishness” when my dad wanted to crack a joke about farts.  It was only foolishness if a child tried to add something on to our father’s joke that our dad did not find amusing.  Then, magically, what was not foolish only a moment ago became foolish.  I know my parents did not intend to link enjoying yourself or being happy with punishment, but they did.  One minute I was laughing and having a good time, the next I was being rebuked for foolishness because I had tried to add something of value to the conversation.

Not only did this make me fearful of being happy; it discouraged me from speaking up, because speaking up can inexplicably lead to being punished.

To be continued.