Posts Tagged ‘Gothard’

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

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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


The Cabbage Patch Doll Through The Eyes of an ATI Child

April 26, 2010

Can anyone else relate?

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

God Has Called Me To Headquarters!

January 8, 2010

Mr. Gothard called my parents to say that God had called me to work at Headquarters.  My parents asked what God had called me to do there, and Mr. Gothard replied “work in the kitchens.”  I think this may have been the first and only time my parents ever doubted that Mr. Gothard was indeed the mouthpiece of God himself.  My mother replied, “Have you ever tasted {x-ATI Girl’s} cooking?!?”  She tried to hide the panic from her voice.  I wondered if maybe God had called me to work in the mailroom and Mr. Gothard had simply mixed up the rooms.