The Joseph Story, Like You’ve Never Heard It Before

CC image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Editorial note: The following is reprinted with permission from Laurie Works’ blog. It was originally published on January 9, 2014.

Once upon a time, the story of Joseph nearly ruled my life. You know, the biblical story of the dude who had 11 brothers who betrayed him and sold him into slavery in Egypt.

I was Joseph. Sold into slavery in Egypt.

Joseph got to Egypt and was bought buy a guy named Potiphar (sweet ancient Egyptian name right there). This Joseph guy was super wily and rose in the ranks of slaves in Potiphar’s house until he was put in charge of all of them. That is, until Potiphar’s wife tried to sleep with him. She even grabbed his robe and stripped it off trying to make him stay (he must have been pretty fine, I’m just saying). But Joseph was also a goody-goody and so he ran away naked. Of course Potiphar believed his wife when she told him that Joseph had tried to seduce her (It was the best soap opera of the day, ya’ll). So Joseph was thrown in the can.

I was Joseph, thrown in the can for something I didn’t do. Trapped away in prison.

Except Joseph was one crafty sonuvabitch. He kept being his goody-goody self and got put in charge of the prison. If he didn’t get freed, he might as well be top dog, right? One day, two dudes from Pharaoh’s staff show up – the guy who tastes Pharaoh’s wine to test for poisons, and the guy who bakes his bread. Both of them had been thrown in prison for offending the Pharaoh. Obvi. Well, they both have dreams that trouble them, and Joseph being the awesome cunning man that he was, interprets their dreams. He says that the baker was gonna die and the cupbearer was going to be given back his position. With that in mind, Joseph goes “Hey cupbearer dude. Don’t forget the awesome dream interpreter who saved your life in prison, K? Tell the Pharaoh about me.”

Of course, the cupbearer forgets Joseph while reeling in his good fortune. Until the Pharaoh wakes up from a dream all pissed off. Probably afraid for his position (again), the cupbearer is like “WAIT!!! I know a guy!” Thus… Joseph magically interprets the Pharaoh’s dream, and like all his positions before… becomes second in the land only to Pharaoh. BOOM, son.

I was gonna be Joseph someday… elevated to second in the land, with lots of barns and “storehouses” that I was in charge of…


This was according to my dad, one of the best storytellers and imaginative minds of our time. Yes, you detect a bit of sarcasm… but to be honest that is probably pretty true. He is the most imaginative person I know.

Joseph was a metaphor for our “imminent” riches. (Imminent was a code word in our house, one of many which also included “it’s time to see IT“, the “magi“, “man from the east“… I could go on) Joseph had been wasting away, utterly invisible from the world, just like us in our 900ft², 3 bedroom apartment crammed with 6 people. Just like us wearing our thrift store clothing. Until one day… dun dun dun. He was REMEMBERED by the cupbearer.

Except we would be remembered by the magi man (magic man???) from the East…aka from Persia. He would suddenly remember that he had stuck my dad’s business card in a back drawer.  (The way he got my dad’s business card was through an Iranian coworker of my father’s, who took it with him to Iran around Christmas of 2003 -2004, after my dad had asked him to give it to “whomever he felt he should.”) The magi man would pull it out, look my dad up, and call with an offer to bequeath us with $1.7 billion dollars.

Suddenly like Joseph, we would be elevated to a higher echelon of society.

One of my dad’s “mentors” and favorite preachers frequently used Joseph as an example in his sermons. He referred to Joseph as something like “the dream bearer” and used Joseph to describe how God would fulfill your dreams if you only waited. In looking this preacher up again for this post, I also came across a sermon titled “If the dream is big enough, the facts don’t count.” (This is so hilariously ironic to me that it made me laugh) My dad listened to this man’s sermons consistently, at least once a week, for years. We were often required to listen along. I remember being a teenager, 16 years old or so, laying on my parent’s bed listening to the sermons being streamed over the internet. In our 3 bedroom apartment, the computer was located in my parents’ bedroom, because that was the only place we had room for it. So, on some Sunday mornings and many Wednesday nights, we listened to these sermons on the internet. I was required to do this and if I didn’t or tried to avoid it (by sleeping in or staying in my room) my dad would get angry and controlling.

At one point, my parents each bought an amethyst ring for themselves, because this preacher said that amethysts were “the Joseph stone” and instructed people to go out and buy one to demonstrate their commitment to their dreams. My dad bought a huge rock of an amethyst ring that he still wears fairly often.

My twin sister, myself, and my sister Rachel all had birthdays within 2 days of each other. My 16th birthday (Rachel’s 14th) was spent in Florida at a fancy anniversary dinner for this man’s 20th (25th? I’m not sure) year in ministry. We got to wear fancy prom dresses for the occasion, which made it seem like a birthday to us. At the time it was all very exciting.

This man’s sermons were also a huge subject of our nightly “family chitty-chats”. These were really made of my dad pontificating for a couple of hours before we went to bed. Rachel fell asleep most of the time. I was too terrified of my dad’s wrath, and too invested in gaining his approval, to try and do such a thing.

This was a lot of my life for 10 years or more, incidents such as these. My sponsor likes to say that my family sounded like a cult. I remember quite a bit of it if I think about it, but ever since my first 5th step almost a year ago, I’ve been remembering things spontaneously. I’ll be washing dishes, or walking through the grocery store, or on the phone at work, and all of a sudden I’m assaulted with another crazy memory of my old life. Honestly, I’m still wading through anger and resentment. My therapist said this past week that it’s probably a part of the healing process, to be angry. And when I think back to a couple of years ago when I first started trying to deal with anger at my dad – I didn’t feel ANY. Not a speck. So this is improvement. It’s like when your foot wakes up and you have pins and needles. At some point, the pins and needles will go away and I’ll be at acceptance.

It helps though to let people witness my memories.  Because I’ll never stop hearing my dad’s voice in my head, spinning delusional worlds. But at least this way I won’t be alone with the voices. They’re easier to bear when I’m not lost in them, like someone wandering through fog at night.

I plan to tell more stories from my childhood in this coming year, both here, and in the memoir I’m attempting to write. So stay tuned.

Here’s to taking a deep breath and jumping off the cliff…

CC image courtesy of Flickr, Daveynin.

Editorial note: The following is reprinted with permission from Laurie Works’ blog. It was originally published on July 23, 2013.

I was talking to a friend the other day and describing some of my childhood, and I realized that I haven’t written much about it here. I’ve written about it in vague, hidden descriptions only. Like a warning sign over my heart. Maybe because that part of my life feels like a minefield. I’ve dealt with a lot of those issues, but I never know when one will explode and hit me in the face.

There’s one I’d like to describe right now though, a behavior I described to my friend earlier. I’m going to call it Learned Pretentiousness. My dad, who completely believed that we would be the recipients of billions of dollars gifted us by God, taught us this interesting behavior. The first time I can recall using it was when we did a walk-through of a 5 million dollar house that we were going to buy when “The Money” arrived (which was an imminent event, of course). I remember assuming the behavior of a rich little girl, trying to pretend like my family wasn’t living in a tiny 3-bedroom apartment where I shared a room with my twin sister. Instead, I discussed what kinds of things we would buy to put in the living room, or how we would arrange the basements, or what the room above the stable would be used for.

I was 10 years old at the time of our little walk-through (and no, The Money has still not arrived 14 years later). There were so many times I put on the “little rich girl” throughout the years that I don’t even remember all of them. My family would often frequent 5 star hotels just to sit in the lobby and pretend like we were one of them. Or, more often than not, we would visit the local corporate airport to look at the planes, and MAYBE WE WOULD BE LUCKY AND SOMEONE WOULD MEET US THERE WITH THE MONEY! You could never be sure.

One time my dad actually talked a jet chartering company into flying a large corporate jet into Denver for us to see. My dad had great powers of persuasion and is probably the most charismatic man I’ve ever met. I remember sitting on that jet feeling like I was living a complete lie but struggling, trying desperately, to pull it off like I knew what richness felt like. I was crawling with anxiety and trying to hide the fact that I so obviously didn’t belong.

The behavior actually became so ingrained that if I walk into any luxurious atmosphere now, I have to be on guard so I don’t assume it and therefore assume a personality that is not myself.

Looking back on the strangeness of my life, I can easily see why alcohol and love addiction became such a big issue for me. First of all, I had no idea what living in reality was like, since my dad and therefore my family avoided it at all costs. And second, besides my dad creating this strange, cult-like family (me, my mom, and my sisters) and convincing us to buy into this delusional idea, he was also abusive and angry if we ever crossed him. None of us dared speak up and say that he was wrong about this money idea. The closest any of us got was my twin sister repeatedly speaking her doubts about God really saying it, and my dad spending hours trying to convince her that she just had to take it on faith. She eventually bought into it more than any of the rest of us. Yet the one time I remember my mom slightly disagreeing with him about his ideas, he forbid her from taking part in family conversations until she apologized. (About a month later)

By the time I was 15, I was at least slightly aware that I wanted to escape, and that was when most of my acting out started. It was like I was a snake itching to get rid of my skin, my isolated and bizarre little life. The anxiety exploded and I grabbed men, alcohol, a knife – anything that could get me out of the feelings I had of my life imploding on top of me. Outside, I was walking into 5 star restaurants and pretending my life was grand.

I am scared to post this. Scared to open up this part of my life. I’ve talked about it with my therapist and my close friends. But I think only to my therapist with as much detail, with the dots and lines that include every detail of how I was trained to act. And most recently, of the shame I have carried for buying into this delusional world. Because I did. I never thought I’d have to cook my own meals. I expected to marry a rich man, even a prince. I expected to wear Chanel and have my own horse or several. I expected to be able to travel to Dubai and stay in my favorite suite in the world. I have been ashamed for the time I spent buying into it all when I was a teenager. I’ve long since stopped believing the lies, but the shame remains.

I guess one of the biggest reasons I want to post this is to give back that shame by opening up my story to the world. It’s my way of doing what my therapist described yesterday about the day I went into Cartier when I was 16. I put on a $50,000 diamond ring (or maybe it was $25,000… I can’t quite remember), fell in love with it, and my dad embarrassingly slipped in a mention to the sales person that we would be back when his “investment paid out.” (Investment meaning God would give us The Money we had been waiting for) Instead of standing there in my embarrassment, pretending that I was a spoiled little teenager, here’s what I would want to say now:

“Sorry ma’am. My dad thinks God is going to give him 1.7 billion dollars, you see. Just out of thin air. He has it all planned out and is just waiting for God to give it to him. He has a company formed in the state of Colorado so that there is a place for the money to go. I have a trustee for a trust account that has no money in it. He even thinks a man in Iran is going to gift it to him, which is illegal in fact. So as you can see the whole idea is pretty laughable. This ring is gorgeous but I will probably never buy it. Thanks for the chance to put it on.”

Ready for Real Life: Part Seven, Vocations

Screen Shot 2013-11-02 at 1.15.43 AM

Ready for Real Life: Part Seven, Vocations

HA note: This series is reprinted with permission from Ahab’s blog, Republic of Gilead. Part Seven of this series was originally published on November 11, 2013.


Also in this series: Part One, Botkins Launch Webinar | Part Two, Ready for What? | Part Three, Are Your Children Ready? | Part Four, Ready to Lead Culture | Part Five, Science and Medicine | Part Six, History and Law | Part Seven, Vocations | Part Eight, Q&A Session | Part Nine, Concluding Thoughts


In this part of the “Ready for Real Life” webinar series, the Botkins discuss the transition from homeschooling to adult life, offering advice on work, education, and adult leadership. As with prior webinars, the Botkins give this a separatist spin, discouraging young people from entering traditional workforces, the military, or universities that could “exploit them to their ruin”. Maintaining Christian dominion is paramount, as usual. Unfortunately, the Botkins fail to understand the relationship between impractical homeschool teachings and homeschooled youth who are ill-prepared to take on the world.

Geoffrey began by praising Christian homeschool families, asserting that parents pulling their children out of schools was one of the most significant movements in history. However, he lamented the “nationwide fragility” of the Christian homeschool movement, claiming that a “lack of a dominion pattern of thinking” has weakened homeschooling. Many children remain confused as to why their parents homeschooled them, failing to see the “Biblical purpose” or “urgent reasons” to propel the movement, he claimed. “Some of them are even confused about marriage,” he added.

Who do the Botkins blame for anemic homeschooling and disappointing results? Mothers.

Victoria Botkin claimed that the homeschool movement’s biggest weakness is that it’s “mommy-driven”. At the 4:06 mark, she elaborated on how homeschool mothers allegedly stunt their children.

“We have to be honest and say that the weakness is that it’s mommy-driven … I know that what homeschool mommies like me love most is to gather our chicks together and snuggle up together on the sofa with our cups of cocoa and just have a wonderful time reading together. This warm, cozy mothering style is very good and it’s very nurturing when the children are little, but we have to face it, as they get older, this is simply not a good formula for training up cultural leaders. So, as our children grow up, the way we interact with them and the way we mothers discipline them has simply got to grow with them.”

Geoffrey Botkin agreed, claiming that homeschooling is stunting children’s development in part because “mommies” are driving the process and fathers are insufficiently involved. At the 5:04 mark, he criticized homeschool mothers for cocooning their children in a safe, sheltered environment for longer than necessary.

“We notice that parents’ teaching styles and techniques and priorities really are not growing with the children. We’re keeping the children young. We’re keeping the children undeveloped, and part of that is because mommies who are still driving the process, and because so many dads are not as engaged as they should be, mommies would like that warm, cuddling, secure, sheltered life to continue far into life as adults, as adulthood. And so too many young men, young boys are growing up being dwarfed or emasculated by the world and its real-life issues.”

My jaw dropped at all the sexism, scapegoating, and flawed thinking I just heard.

First, repeatedly referring to stay-at-home mothers as “mommies” was condescending. Second, the Christian Patriarchy Movement demands that women stay in the domestic sphere and nurture their children, so why were the Botkins blaming women for doing what they’d been instructed to do all along? Christian Patriarchy women who were listening to this webinar must have felt frustrated as the Botkins accused them of failing at their demanding, unending duties. Third, Geoffrey Botkin focused on young men, ignoring the possibility that his version of homeschooling might stunt young women as well. If this particular branch of homeschooling is failing to prepare children for adult life, its leaders need to reexamine their methods instead of blaming mothers as a knee-jerk reaction.

Geoffrey Botkin complained that many 17-19 year-old homeschool graduates are not the “dominant minds” in their environments, but rather find themselves being dominated by others. Such young people either strive to fit in with the outside world, or hide from the world out of fear, staying home and indulging in wasteful activities that aren’t “dominion-oriented”.

Christian faith requires Christians to have the “dominant mind” of each generation, Geoffrey reiterated.

That is, Christians are not to dominate others “like the Islamic world teaches,” but to be leaders. Christian homeschooling families are to instill this goal in their children, rather than training them to withdraw into a “sheltered” or “agrarian” lifestyle.

First, I was puzzled by Phillips disapproval of “agrarian” lifestyles. What’s so un-Christian about farming? Second, if the Botkins are so perturbed by homeschool graduates shrinking away from the outside world, shouldn’t they worry that their education model has poorly equipped students for adulthood? Finally, since some branches of the Christian homeschool movement live in their own bubbles as a way of shielding families from “the world”, aren’t withdrawn adults the natural result of this ideology?

As with previous webinars, Geoffrey expressed his distrust of universities. Too many homeschool parents discover that their 16-18 year-old offspring have no social skills or capabilities, he claimed. He warned parents that if their children do not have university-level knowledge by the time they turn 18, their children’s character will be deficient. If such young adults go to college, that poor preparation will “only exploit them to their ruin”.

Geoffrey fielded a listener question about how to make sure children don’t “crash and burn”, that is, lose their faith or degrade their character after leaving home. In reply, Geoffrey warned that children can “crash and burn” even before they leave home if they’re ill-equipped to cope with moral challenges. He condemned country music as one example of a moral challenge in Christian culture, accusing country music of promoting a “very destructive, counter-Christian theology”.

Another alleged source of moral corruption lies in homeschool support groups, he argued, where insecure children can become “peer dependent” and succumb to “peer-dependent compromise”.

Translation: Don’t you dare compare notes! Don’t let those other homeschooling families suggest non-insane ways to homeschool your kids, I thought.

Parents need to talk with their children and understand their minds, as a strong family life can instill vital maturity and responsibility in young people. Parents need to test their children as they would “arrows“, giving them opportunities for moral tests outside of the home.

The Botkins shifted gears to talk about careers and vocations. Immediately, Geoffrey dismissed parents’ concerns about their children’s financial well-being. Parents, especially “mommies”, focus on how their children are going to make a solid, stable living as adults. Geoffrey frowned upon his focus on jobs and validation from the “elite oligarchy”, reminding listeners that a supposed fixation on money, pensions, and “carnal security” isn’t Biblical. A Christian’s highest priority is their mission for God, not their job, he asserted.

Geoffrey’s words left me stunned.

Young adults should be thinking about how they’ll support themselves, because work and bills will be part of their adult lives.

Thinking about benefits and wages isn’t about “carnal security”, it’s about making sure one has food, housing, and medical care. Financial reflection is even more important if one is trying to escape poverty, survive in an economically depressed region, pay for an education, or start a family. To ignore money matters in adulthood is to be dangerously immature, which Geoffrey fails to understand.

At the 18:22 mark, Geoffrey dismissed the American dream as “the pursuit of Mammon”, arguing that society need a Biblical paradigm for worship, education, and career.

“The 21st century needs a completely new paradigm for education … We need a new paradigm for worship. We need a new paradigm for work because the school model, the church model, and the career model are obsolete. They haven’t worked. That’s why there’s so much confusion about going into the 21st century. The church has been endorsing this idea of the American dream since the 1950s, and people have really fallen for it. It’s the pursuit of Mammon at the expense of Biblical obedience. So these models are obsolete because they were wrong, number one, Biblically, but they haven’t worked, have they? That’s why our culture is so broken and people are so confused about what to do. The culture that they created in the 20th century simply cannot and must not be sustained. So here’s the solution. Let’s move our children and the entire culture to the Biblical paradigm. We’ve lived too long in a humanistic paradigm, the paradigm of secular humanism.”

Parents should teach children that being Christ’s ambassador and occupying the world until Christ’s return in their only calling, Geoffrey said. Christ’s civilization must be planted and preserved in every society as part of the Great Commission, he instructed. Ominously, he reminded listeners that America is a “massive spiritual battlefield” and they must not be “taken captive”.

Coldly, Geoffrey discouraged children from following “self-centered dreams” and giving themselves over to Mammon at the 24:17 mark. 

“Parents, you need to help your children aspire to something far different than one career based on self-centered dreams to achieve carnal security by accumulating Mammon.”

Benjamin Botkin, Geoffrey and Victoria’s son, echoed his father’s thoughts, stating that not every dream is worth fighting for. Sadly, by labeling dreams as “self-centered”, the Botkins refused to countenance dreams that could result in progress, enrichment, and joy. As in previous webinars, the Botkins’ advice boiled down to “do what God says, and don’t you dare think, feel, or evolve”.

Geoffrey assured listeners that if they obey Christ, they will have both money and viable occupational opportunities throughout their lives. This prosperity gospel nonsense struck me as dangerous, as it could cause Christians to neglect sound careers, financial planning, and budgeting.

In the real world, God does not always provide, as those who have endured unemployment, poverty, and hunger know too well.

Benjamin discussed the feeling of being overwhelmed, when one’s work, family, and church responsibilities seem overwhelming. His advice for uncluttering one’s life was to excise everything that did not contribute to goals, including “worthless” activities and the desire to engage in worthless activities.

Geoffrey emphasized that the Botkins were not advocating careers (which they defined as lifelong jobs), which they considered part of a broken paradigm. Rather, he encouraged listeners to devote themselves to four chief priorities — family, business, church, and civic duties — which must be integrated and pursued simultaneously.

On the topic of using talents in one’s future jobs, Geoffrey discouraged parents from excessive focus on children’s gifts. Using gifts to determine one’s future job merely plays into the “statist security state”, where a “slave economy” assigns job roles based on one’s talents. At the 46:15 mark, Geoffrey encouraged leadership and decentralized business over work in the “ant colony”.

“Keep the correct, new 21st century paradigm in mind. For the 20th century, people grew up thinking about just becoming part of this statist security state, a workforce state, and it was really a slave economy, very similar to what was advocated by Plato in all his writings. An oligarchy is in charge, and everybody else just kind of fits in as servants and slaves based on abilities, gifts, and talents. You don’t want your children even to be thinking that way … You still can go to a so-called career counselor, and they’ll say, ‘What are you good at?’. Well, they’re helping to to sort people into little cubby holes as servants, not as leaders, as those who serve the planned economy, not those who create it and do something totally different. That’s why we don’t want you to be caught up in thinking about ‘well, what are my children good at’, so they can take their little place in the pyramid, in the ant colony. We want them to be the leader of tomorrow who create the entire new business climates all over the world that are so different, a decentralized state system, a decentralized economy where there’s so many more independent businesses and business people.”

Geoffrey Botkin’s monologue reflected a certain ignorance about how employment works.

Do some businesses behave in unethical ways? Of course. Do wealthy oligarchs wield disproportionate power? Sadly, yes. Does the world need new models of business? Yes. However, helping a young person plan for their future is not “sort[ing] people into little cubby holes”. Plenty of jobs serve meaningful roles in society, and performing such jobs does not render employees “servants and slaves”. Finally, some fields require employees to work their way up to positions of authority, so we cannot expect everyone to take leadership positions immediately. Leadership and paradigm shift take time, and they require years of training and experience.

All young adults, homeschooled or not, need to understand this.

Geoffrey’s poor grasp of work realities was apparent in his advice about degrees and credentials. The Botkin family did not practice graduations, he said. Children are ready to move forward in the world when they’re able to lead their generation with confidence and “cultural discipleship”, he stated. Assessment of young homeschoolers should focus on whether they understand the kingdom of Christ, and how they will spend their lives seeking it. None of his children got credentials, he explained, but that hasn’t stopped them from getting job offers. For example, he bragged that his son Isaac received job offers to be a college professor at age 19-20, dismissing his lack of credentials, but Isaac turned them down.

Wait. What? I thought. Universities. Don’t. Work. Like. That. Competition is fierce for new faculty positions, and degrees are essential requirements for applicants.

No college worthy of the title is going to hire a 19 year-old kid with no degree or credentials.

On the topic of degrees, one listener asked what to do if their state required homeschooling parents to have degrees. Geoffrey scoffed at the idea, encouraging listeners to “stop complying with unlawful laws” and warning them against submission to the state at the 57:06 mark.

“What kind of degree? What if they tell you you need a PhD in education, or a Masters from a teachers college? Would you bow the knee to the state just to get that so you could homeschool your children, or would you give up and throw your children back into the government system? Christians have to stop complying with unlawful laws, especially without challenging the idea behind that law before they’re ever passed. We should be articulating and declaring our independence as parents to have the freedom to educate our children, because this freedom comes to us as a command from God Almighty. I mean, the state does not regulate this … No, we don’t have to go chasing these degrees just because we’re afraid something is going to happen. What would you do if they passed a law outlawing spanking? Would you just simply stop spanking your children? You can’t do that. You have to continue to obey God first more than man. You have to obey God first.”

David Botkin tackled the topic of military enlistment after homeschooling, listing and critiquing four reasons why some homeschooled youth choose the military. First, some people want to earn degrees after their service, but David claimed that degrees weren’t desirable ends. Second, some people want to establish a long-term military career, to which David replied that while short-term work for the military was acceptable, long-term work was not. The Constitution doesn’t allow for a long-standing army, and that the Founding Fathers disagreed with the idea, he insisted. Third, some people want to reform the military from within, which David claimed was a positive but misguided intention. A private would have very little impact on the military as a whole, and many people don’t even know what needs to be reformed. Fourth, some people want to protect and serve their country, but David argued that the government (including “unconstitutional” departments such as the IRS and EPA) are a much greater threat to Americans than any foreign aggressor. David, it seemed, had absorbed much of his father’s disgust toward alleged “statism”.

David discouraged military enlistment, citing the U.S. military’s flaws.

For example, he argued that many of the U.S. military’s actions have been unconstitutional and unbiblical, and that it has involved itself in inappropriate tasks (i.e., nation building) that should not concern the U.S. government. He also complained about the presence of “sodomites” and women in the military, which he blasted as an “abomination”. The supposedly declining moral standard in the military, such as current tolerance for fornication, also disgusted him.

David, if you think “fornication” in the military is something recent, think againI thought. And I can think of far more serious moral outrages in the U.S. military than gay or female soldiers.

David emphasized that while joining the military would be a bad decision in most cases, Christians would be obligated to uphold the law and the Bible if they did enlist. Specifically, they would be obligated to disobey any unlawful orders, which would result in a court martial and possible dishonorable discharge.

Geoffrey Botkin addressed a listener’s question about whether parents should prepare their sons for social and economic collapse. At the 1:11:41 mark, Geoffrey claimed that the U.S. is already in the throes of collapse as a result of God’s “chastisement”. 

“America has been in an economic and social collapse now for two generations. This is by direct intervention and the will of God, and it’s part of a chastisement of God that’s promised in Deuteronomy 28 and Leviticus 26. And so, yes, you should be preparing them to live in this time of economic and social collapse. We have lost so much social fabric, and the value of the dollar, and the freedom to even conduct business. They need to be fully aware of these things and the direction–they need to know that the direction for the future–yes, it’s very, very fragile. The good news is that things are so bad now that there could be such a collapse that it’s time [for a] great opportunity to begin rebuilding when things stumble and fall clear to the ground. And this has happened at so many different times in history. You can look at history and you can see the trends and you can see  when things actually collapse and totally fail. What a phenomenal opportunity that is for Christians who have wisdom and knowledge to rise up and take the lead and begin the rebuilding process and lay the foundations together again.”

Geoffrey sounded almost gleeful as he spoke of the opportunities Christians will have to rebuild society after a collapse, as if he were excited about the prospect of fundamentalists forming a new world in their image. The fact that a real societal collapse would be terrifying, and that millions of people would face deprivation and death in the ensuing chaos, did not seem to perturb him.

I found Geoffrey’s insistence that America is collapsing to be ridiculous.

While America has many problems, it is not experiencing a wide-scale collapse. Look at war-ravaged countries. Look at failed states. Look at societies that disintegrated due to genocide or ethnocide.

That is what collapse looks like.

Geoffrey’s apocalyptic warnings echo those of other fundamentalist Christians, who see America disintegrating when it really isn’t.


This part of the “Ready for Real Life” webinar exhibited the following themes.

  • Little respect for degrees and certifications: The Botkins do not see college educations, degrees, or other certifications as necessary for success. Geoffrey also sneered at the idea that parents should have degrees before they homeschool their children, seeing this as an act of unnecessary intrusion by the state. The idea that a college degree could make young people more competitive in the workplace, or bestow knowledge otherwise unavailable to them, was not considered.
  • The workplace as the tool of an oppressive oligarchy:  Geoffrey spoke of the traditional workplace as an oppressive, deadening environment in which workers are rendered “slaves” by a callous oligarchy. He compared workplaces to pyramids and ant farms, refusing to consider that not all workplaces oppress their employees. Geoffrey could have discussed serious problems facing some workers, such as low wages, unsafe working conditions, and job discrimination, but preferred to warn listeners about a supposed “statist security state”.
  • Dismissal of monetary matters: Geoffrey discouraged people from focusing on money matters when contemplating young peoples’ futures. Money matters were dismissed as an obsession with “carnal security” and Mammon.

Which leads to my last observed theme . . .

  • Homeschooling failing to prepare children for adulthood: Geoffrey and Victoria complained that too many homeschooled children were unprepared for adult life. Instead of questioning their impractical beliefs about degrees, money management, careers, or raising children in a fundamentalist bubble, they blamed over-nurturing “mommies”. The irony would be hilarious if real children’s futures weren’t at stake.

Stay tuned for the next part!


To be continued.