Eye traps anyone?

May 6, 2011

Eye traps.

If you were not in ATI, this short phrase will mean very little.

If you were in ATI, you probably remember the shopping mall exercise?  You know, where we took the eye trap quiz, and then went to the mall (the entire quiverfull) to distinguish which eye traps lurked in the clothing of the women walking past us, and what those eye traps might communicate about their moral innards?  Yes, we thought you might remember that one.

Let’s take a little journey and see how much you remember.  Ready to talk about what these pictures might reveal about the wearer?  We’ve had a few eye trap experts give their opinions which we will include for you.

“While these 50′s housewives are at least in skirts, their hearts are obviously not at home.  The tight and revealing belts they are wearing reveals their desire to be desired.  The v-neck design is clearly indicative of their deceiving men as the strange woman did in Proverbs.  She probably caught and kissed him shortly after this sketch was drawn; definitely that blonde on the left did.”

“Ah, nice try X-ATI girl{s}.  You tried to trick us into saying that this girl is humble and modest, but we are onto you.  She is clearly not modest.  Her tights reveal her desire to take advantage of the innocent eyes of men.  Some may think that since her legs aren’t actually showing this is okay; we know the truth.  Put on your running shoes, men, and get away!”

“We all know that even dolls can be deceitful.  This doll’s low waisted bow (and the bow itself) are danger areas.”

“Finally, a modest ensemble.  We hope that all will follow in the way of this swimmer; she is the essence of discretion.”

“We all know that v’s in clothing always point to areas of the body that should not be drawing attention.  Tisk tisk.  Fail.”

“The loud patterns on these aprons are not what any proper homemaker should ever have.  They should desire to draw attention to their countenance, not their covering.”

“Two words: bold and sleeveless.  Children, shield your eyes!”

“Does this dress have sheer material??  It does!  For shame.  How could such a beautiful example of female dress be dishonored in such a way?  Harlot.”

“The crisscross pattern on this dress should be covered immediately.  Her morals are probably crossed in a similar fashion.” 

“Rarely do young fellows deceive with their dress, but here is an example.  This young man is clearly attracting the wrong crowd with this v-neck garment.  The embellishment on his sleeves draws the eye down from the face as well.  He needs to ask for forgiveness from those he has ensnared.”

How did YOU do on the quiz?

“Me Too”

December 8, 2010

 

Some of the most comforting words ever said are “me too.”

 

So here we go:

 

Do you know that feeling that you get when you see a girl wearing a blue jean jumper?

 

The ones that are shapeless, low waist, faded denim, long hem?

 

The ones like our pseudo X-ATI girl {Miriam Reede} wears in her profile picture.

 

The ones that you wear a t-shirt under – many different colored t-shirts.  Oh the possibilities.

 

You know that cringing feeling you get?

 

You know how it felt to be her.

 

Me too.


You know how that girl feels to be somewhat ashamed that she has anything feminine, any indication of the sex that God made her, and she hides behind a blue jean jumper in hopes of disguising it.

 

You were her.

 

Me too.


Maybe it is equal parts: she’s heard so many words that have made her ashamed of her figure, and the adults in her life insist that this type of modesty is what God intends for her little body.

 

{What is modesty anyway?  And why do these people talk about it so much?}

 

You still wonder; there are still equal parts.  You still aren’t quite sure why a God who is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving would make something to be ashamed of.

 

And yet you feel ashamed.

 

Me too.


You are still wondering how much of that stuff to believe.

 

You’ve heard people speak, you’ve read sites like ours, you know so much of it was crazy – even a cult.

 

And yet you find yourself wondering: where does that end and I begin?

 

Me too.  I wonder, too.


You know how you feel when you pass the girl who has the white kerchief over her head and she imitates the older women in her life when she humbly says,

 

“I just want to show that my father is my authority.”

 

Me too.  I did that.  I remember how it felt at the time, and I remember it vividly today.


You wonder what went wrong.

 

You live with your parents, you’ve waited patiently, you wrote the journals, but at 28 your life is still where it was when you were 14 and you wonder why your patience hasn’t paid off.

 

You wonder if you’ll live in your pink bedroom forever if “a fellow” doesn’t come along who will ask your father if he can court you.

 

We know.


You regret not going past the eighth grade in math.

 

You regret it because it holds you back now from getting where you want to be.

 

At the time it sounded like a plan: you won’t need that!  You’ll be a wife and mother anyway!  You won’t have to support a family, and cooking does not require algebra!

 

We know.  Us too.  Me too.


You have these questions and many more.

 

We do, too.

 

You’re not alone.

 

You’re not the only one asking or wondering.

 

It doesn’t matter how much it turns your stomach or how dark it may seem…

 

We have been there, too.


And so have a host of other people.

 

Thousands of other people.

 

So ask the questions.

 

And look at it even when it’s dark and sickening.

 

Face the regrets and start addressing them.

 

We have too.

 

 


Where to draw the line

November 23, 2010

 

Dear X-ATI Girl,

I feel a little bit ridiculous even writing to you about this.  Here’s what’s going on.  In the past several years of my life, I’ve been transitioning to the “real world” or what people always told me was the “real world.”  I know that you know what I mean.  For your readers, I will elaborate.  I now wear pants, I live outside the home, I have a job, cut my hair, etc.  I need to discuss with you one of my issues with adjusting to this hedonistic lifestyle.

For most of our lives we listened to a short, unmarried, constantly-smiling man (whose remaining hairs were of a shade not found in nature – even before the fall) who still lived with his parents (well past age 60) and yet gave advice on subjects like marriage, children, vasectomies,  yeast infections, and how you could lose your virginity to a tampon (?!?) even though he {clearly} had no experience in any of these areas.  He dispensed pearls of wisdom on subjects that he was completely unqualified to speak on.  Gosh, I’m surprised that he didn’t start dispensing pills.  Oh wait…and then he started a medical school…  For purposes of this letter, I should not even broach that particular subject.

One of my chief complaints about Mr. Gothard was his writing 3,000 pages of his thoughts on three relatively short chapters of the new testament.  When I was a child, I secretly asked myself, “Why does this man take 3,000 pages to say what Jesus said in 111 short verses of scripture?”  Of course I never spoke this out loud because to even dare think it was clearly, clearly sheer blasphemy.  Now that I’m older and looking back…why the dickens did he write 54 “Wisdom Booklets” on what it took Christ only several minutes to say?

I digress.  Here is my present quandary: my very cool Bible study group has decided to study a book written by an author who met her husband at youth camp, was married young, has three children, and suddenly has figured out a way to help women achieve their full potential in Christ, if only they can truly understand and apply these 4 verses that she has helpfully expanded into a 241 page book.  I understand that I can learn something from everyone, but do I really need to spend 12 weeks searching for a needle of wisdom in this daunting haystack?

Here is my problem: if I have a dilemma with work, I do not ask advice from someone who has never held a job.  If I have a problem with my car, I don’t drive it to the hair salon.  Nor would I ask my mechanic to fill a cavity.  I also admit – freely now – that when I am ill, I do not consult an herbalist anymore (thank you, God).  I think we can all agree that these are fairly practical things.  So why if in my daily life I seek advice from professionals who are truly qualified to give me an educated opinion, why would I entrust my spiritual life to someone who has never dealt with the issues that I face on a daily basis.  I wouldn’t ask a woman who had less than 1/4th of the amount of children of my own mother, “how do you manage it all?” I would ask my mother.  And when it comes to singleville, why would I ask someone who has never come home to an empty apartment and had to cook dinner for one.

I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater, but I am very wary of people dispensing advice that they are unqualified to give, and expanding scripture to meet their publisher’s quotas.  Where do I draw the line?  When they start a medical school?

 

Lovingly,

Bewildered in Birmingham

The Homeschool Family

August 10, 2010

Please join us in applauding Tim Hawkins for this {what should be} award winning video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VM6uqj0_jQc

Cheerfulness,

X-ATI Girl{s}

What was it really?

July 27, 2010

Dear X-ATI Girl,

Please advise.  Recently someone asked me the question: what is ATI?

It’s hard for me to ponder the question ‘what is ATI’ because I guess I really don’t know myself.  (Why, it’s the Advanced Training Institute.  Training in what?  Well I’m not sure actually…)

Whether it’s because I grew up so closely associated with this organization and way of life, or because the majority of my friends grew up in it as well thus rarely requiring me to explain it to another, but I always find it difficult to successfully place words in any order that could describe such a ‘way of life.’

After fumbling for words and getting them all mixed up for a few minutes, this individual asked the shocking question: is ATI a cult?



I gasped.  I stopped.  All the wind was knocked out of me.  What?  Was ATI a cult?  Was he serious?  Why yes, unfortunately he was.

I didn’t know how to respond.  I still don’t know how to respond.  Here is a loose narrative of my mixed up and jumbled response:

Well, ATI was started by Bill Gothard, a guy who worked with intercity youth and then his car broke down on the interstate one day and he ran leaping for joy because he was so happy.

Can I pause here and ask a question?  My family always had vehicles that broke down.  As in they broke down all the time – all the time with all of us 12 siblings and my expectant mother.  No one was leaping for joy in those moments, hours, eternities of being stuck on the side of the road.  I digress.

Mr. Gothard lived with his parents until his father died and then he just lived with his mother.  He began courting a nice widow when he was in his 50’s, but his mother told him that she didn’t feel it was God’s will for him to court this nice lady so he never saw her again.

Mr. Gothard still lives in his parent’s house – as far as I know – and has a cabin in the woods on some land that ATI owns.

Mr. Gothard started the Institute in Basic Life Principles in the 1970s.  It was a basic seminar, an advanced seminar, a men’s seminar, a bunch of seminars.  In the 1980s he started ATI – which was at that time ATIA.  This was his Homeschooling limb that wrote Wisdom Booklets, Character Sketches, journals of all types, etc.  (The Wisdom Booklet is my most prevailing and perhaps painful memory.  Oh, and the monthly newsletter they sent out – those were prevailing and painful as well.)

He built a Headquarters (proper noun) for the organization and most of my siblings went there for trainings and to work for free.  Kids went there when they did rebellious things like told their parents they didn’t want to read the Wisdom Booklets or that they couldn’t memorize the Sermon on the Mount.

He started an auctioneering school, a chalk talk school, a law school, and even the Medical Training Institute of America (MTIA).  The irony is that none of us went to school…

Later I got to thinking about some of the things that I learned while in the program:

  • How to conquer the addiction of rock music

  • How to sew and wear skirts that glorified the Lord
  • How to honor my parent’s authority

  • How formal schooling would kill me
  • How sugar was the drug that Satan could use to control us
  • How some people believe in head coverings and some don’t, but lets not fight about it

  • How if you have an impure thought at lunch, you should confess it just before a Knoxville session
  • How you should wear light makeup and your hair in flowing curls
  • How sheep go to heaven and goats go to hell (wait…wait, now I’m getting confused.  I think that was a song, not Gothard.)
  • That beards are bad, bad, bad

  • You should always use CharacterLink to protect yourself from the evil influences of the internet (did this make anyone else suspicious?)

  • The only approved college was Verity College
  • That I was to be a keeper at home

  • How ATI was “Giving the world a new approach to life!”
  • Try to stay away from the flaming darts of Lucifer, ie. get back under that umbrella
  • How to tear down the strong holds in your life ie. my desire to wear pants (gasp)
  • Letters we were supposed to write that started out like this: “Dear Dad, I love you.  I want to give you my heart.”
  • Something about rhemas
  • Al Smith approved music

Do you have similar experiences?

I’ve given this a lot of thought.  I’m going to go ahead and make this bold statement:

ATI was and is a cult.

Here’s just a part of my reasoning:

Dictionary: Cult n.

  1. A religion or religious sect generally considered to be extremist or false, with its followers often living in an unconventional manner under the guidance of an authoritarian, charismatic leader.
  2. The followers of such a religion or sect.
  3. A system or community of religious worship and ritual.
  4. The formal means of expressing religious reverence; religious ceremony and ritual.
  5. A usually nonscientific method or regimen claimed by its originator to have exclusive or exceptional power in curing a particular disease.
    1. Obsessive, especially faddish, devotion to or veneration for a person, principle, or thing.
    2. The object of such devotion.
    3. An exclusive group of persons sharing an esoteric, usually artistic or intellectual interest.

Wasn’t that umbrella a little extreme and false?

Come on, those blue and white outfits were unconventional.

So was learning medicine from a Wisdom Booklet written by a man who lived with his parents.

Nonscientific guide to medicine – check.

Obsessive, faddish devotion to a person, principle, and thing

Being told to write a letter to your dad giving him your heart.

I’m stopping here with my argument because this letter is long.  Please advise.  What in the world am I going to do with the bomb-shell realization that…that…I was raised in a cult?

I thank you in advance for your time,

Cliqued out in Clairmont


Contemplating in Columbus

May 3, 2010

The following is a letter we received from a faithful blog reader…

Dear X-ATI Girl,

This past weekend I attended a wedding shower with my mother and my cousin Susanna.  Susanna is two years older than I (I am 17) and although she does not homeschool and is not a part of ATI, Susanna and I have been friends all of our lives.  She lives out of state and has been visiting my family for the past week.  I dread the day when Susanna will have to return to college.

The 18-year-old bride is a friend of mine, but Susanna had never met her before the shower.  The party was extraordinarily boring.  I’m not sure if it’s because everything paled in comparison to Susanna’s comments, or if this was just a real doozy, but it was awful.  Everyone stood close to the perimeter of the room, spoke in very soft tones, and the only subject seemed to be of wonderful courtship stories.  I had never realized before Sunday just how odd this was, but Susanna made me see it through a whole new light.

The whole room was a jumble of photos of the bride, the groom, their families, and the happy couple.  The first photo we got close enough to see had a pretty standard Bible verse printed across the top: “And God took a rib from the man, and created a woman and brought her to him.”  A little bit odd maybe, but it’s all stuff I’ve heard before now.  There was one close-up, though, that really caught Susanna’s eye.  In this Polaroid, the bride’s hand rested tenderly on the groom-to-be’s chest, and written above the groom’s head, bold black text proclaimed:

I have found my rib!

After seeing these pictures through new eyes…is that creepy, or is it just me?

Thank you for your sound advice.

Contemplating in Columbus

The Cabbage Patch Doll Through The Eyes of an ATI Child

April 26, 2010

Can anyone else relate?

“They honked, Mom, they honked!”

April 26, 2010

The photo comes courtesy of one of our favorite readers, XATI girl Chantelle. 

Chantelle is pictured here with two of her cousins during their voyage to the great University of Tennessee Knoxville. 

Please note the taped “ATIA” which identifies these kids as the oldschool Advanced-Training-Institute-of-America-ers [we were ourselves].

Thank you, Chantelle!  The memories this brings back…  Does anyone else have any pictures to share?

“Honk If You’re ATI”

April 25, 2010
Our yearly excursions to Knoxville were heavily populated with vans that held homemade signs reading “honk if you’re ATI.”  These signs, generally written with magic marker on a piece of cardboard, helped us identify our fellow man…as if we really needed any more identification than the van itself, the presence of 3+ baby car seats, and our blue and white garb.  Just in case you miss those trips to Knoxville, and the sighting of the other Gothardites, we are providing these pictures to jog your memory.

Please.

Honk if you’re ATI.

Beep beep!

“Kids, cover your eyes!  Don’t look at that!”  Candy is made with sugar, an addictive additive that causes us to stumble.

Definitely not.

This one doesn’t even need a sign.  EASY!

Stix in the mud.  No honk needed…this time.

Honk, honk!  This family is headed for the campgrounds…as soon as they get the van running again.

They have tinted glass…can you tell if that’s a sign in that window?

This one is a little deceptive.  At first glance, we reach for the horn…but then we spy the liberal decor on the front end.  No ATI mother would allow their vehicle to be garnished with such foolery.

Who Knew It Could Be So Easy?

March 12, 2010

Dear X-ATI Girl,

I never knew that diseases could be healed through a step-by-step guide that leads us to recognizing the lies in our lives.  If only doctors knew just how easy it is to truly cure a person!  Please consider buying this book in bulk; see the quantity pricing below.

When decisions are made, whether good or bad, there are always consequences. When a person makes an unwise choice, it can often be traced back to a fear, such as the fear of rejection, or a fear of failure. These fears are rooted in lies. Because of these lies, we experience painful memories caused by individuals or circumstances. Unresolved painful memories lead to stress and disease.

This study guide will help you identify and denounce the lies you may believe: “I’m ugly,” “I’m a failure,” etc. Follow the step-by-step instructions to overcome your fears and transform painful memories. Discover the liberty to forgive your offender and anticipate the freedom that comes from a transformed spirit, soul, and body!

Quantity Pricing:
1–4 copies: $9.00 each
5–9 copies: $7.00 each
10 or more copies: $6.00 each

By Bill Gothard, PH.D.
Paperback; 33 pages

Blessings!

Stepping in Stanton


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.