Posts Tagged ‘Parental control’

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.

 

 


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


Why Men Leave Women

March 11, 2010

Dear X-ATI Girl,

Thank you for reading my letter.  

I am writing you to ask your opinion on the real reason that men leave women.  I am pondering carefully why men leave young ladies after my seven month courtship ended three weeks ago.  I have done a little research on the library computer, and this is what I have found:

1. Men have a fear of commitment and when they feel the gates of matrimony are closing in, they bolt.

2. Men begin to feel stifled when women focus on them too much.

3. Men feel that the women become the dominate person in the relationship. 

I am not supposed to use the library computer because it does not have any protection for my heart or my eyes, but every Wednesday when I take my younger siblings on our weekly outing I use the library computer to explore subjects such as the one mentioned above. 

At home we only use Character Link when going online.  When I type in “why men leave women” on CharacterQuest, this is the one-line answer the search produces: 

“The number one reason that marriages fail can be directly attributed to women deciding to go to college.” 

Is this true?  My grandmother always told me that men don’t like stupid women.  I was allowed to opt out of all school subjects beyond the 8th grade because my dear mother assures me that every woman should stay dependent on her husband so that she is not tempted to leave her home.  The Internet tells me that men feel stifled when women are too devoted, but Character Link tells me that men leave women because they go to college.  Please help me sort this out before I make any more life decisions.

Very sincerely yours,

Quest for Success in Syracuse

P.S.

Could you also give me your comments/opinions on this book?

What is the language of love?

February 17, 2010

This is a joint letter that we received this week.  Please bear with the writers as they try to sort through what they are trying to say.

Dear X-ATI Girl, 

I have to admit that I am a little confused about your blog.  I was never in ATI so I cannot claim to be an X-ATI guy or claim any real knowledge of the Advanced Training Institute.  While I am a Christian, and I was homeschooled, I do not understand the realm of ATI’s impact on lives. 

I am now trying to develop a friendship with an X-ATI girl such as yourself, and your blog has shed some light on some of the struggles that she is facing.  Since reading some of the letters that people have written to you, I have begun to put some of her comments into context and my heart breaks to comfort her broken heart.  

I do not really know where to begin our story.  Our “relationship” (or lack thereof) is like a roller coaster ride where she’s on the first hill, and I’m still standing somewhere in line.  Every 3 days she has a need to question the sincerity of my efforts and whether I do really like her.  X-ATI girl, I do.  Please tell me how I can get her to understand this.  

She begins to speak about a rain shower, an umbrella, the 10 unchangeables, and my being a spiritual leader, and I get lost in her language while I try desperately to understand what she means.    I do not understand courtship.  I do not understand her parent’s authority in her life (she is 28).  I do not understand the guilt that she faces daily.  All that I see when I look at her is this wonderful, independent, strong, Christian girl whose wholesome morals and positive outlook on life have changed mine for the better. 

X-ATI Girl, please tell me how I can get this message across to her: I am in love with this woman.  I need her to trust that I love her more than anything in life.  I do not care what her past was, I do not care what her present is, it doesn’t matter to me who her parents are or how many siblings she has.  I love her and I just want her to let me love her. 

Sincerely, 

Hopeful in Halifax

Dear X-ATI Girl, 

I do not know how to explain to the non-X-ATI guy where I am coming from.  Of course he must be trying to deceive me; I have never had anyone “love” me like this before now.  I doubt his sincerity daily because his actions are so out of the ordinary for me.  He sends me flowers on a regular basis.  He buys my dinner every time we spend time together.  He cooks for me (and cleans without making any “that’s a girl’s job” jokes).  He calls me just to check in and see if I’m okay.  He always comments on my being able to do anything in life that I want to do even when it is a career that I have always believed to be un-lady-like.  He tells me all of the time that he feels so lucky to have met me.  (Isn’t the fact that he’s even using the word “luck” a bad sign?) 

The only relationship I have had previously was when I was 15 and a man approached my father about the possibility of courting me.  This man had been previously married, his wife had left in a terrible act of defiance, and he desperately needed my help to raise his 5 children…oh yeah, and he felt it was God’s will that he court me, too.  After 5 hours of careful consideration, my parents granted him permission to court me, and we began sitting together in church.  From the onset of our relationship, he did everything that I had grown to expect in a man.  When one of the children got upset in church, I took them out.  He never changed a diaper while he was in my presence.  He never cooked a meal (that was a girl’s job after all).  He began to believe that it was not God’s will that I be allowed to drive, and after sharing this conviction with my father, my car was quickly sold to the highest ATI bidder.  This man was 18 years my senior and eager to share his thoughts on my life actions, making sure that I did not make the same mistakes that he did in his youth.  It was during this time that most outside influences were removed from my life.  

We courted for 3 years before he told me one day that God had clearly shown him that he should not marry me and our courtship should end.  I felt used and abused by both him and my parents.  How could this have ever been God’s will?  Who was faking it?  Who was lying?  Who just didn’t care what happened to me?  While I was relieved that I did not have to marry him, my emotional attachment to his children and his life ran deep.  The separation felt like the tearing apart of a cloth that had been woven together.  My parents felt as if the end had been my fault – if only I had been able to be more submissive, maybe he would have married me. 

 One of the things that I find most confusing about the non-ATI-guy is that he just doesn’t care what my past was.  In fact, he tells me often that he can’t imagine my being with anyone else, and that my talking about past relationships is hard for him to listen to.  While he will and does listen to me, he asks me that I not tell him details because it pains him too much.  Does he not care that I am now a broken woman?  Doesn’t he need to know what he’s getting into?  I feel like I am betraying him.

I have now moved out of my parent’s home and have my own small apartment in my hometown.  The thought of giving up my freedom scares me terribly.  I know that the non-X-ATI guy tells me that he is sincere, but how can I believe this?  How can I trust that he too is not just using me?  Granted he has no children, he does have a job, and he is only two years from my own age, but I still have nightmares about letting my heart go to him.  

Have you experienced any of this?  Can you help me?

Praying for God’s blessings and freedom,

Hurting in Halifax

Tug-Of-War

January 20, 2010

Dear X-ATI Girl –

I know in comparison to many others out there, my problem is small.

Over the past few years, my parents have mellowed. I have been allowed to work outside the home, wear pants, live in an apartment, and most recently my parents graciously gave me permission to acquire a boyfriend.

Here is my problem: My mother and I are in a constant tug-of-war over my clothing. Literally. TUG-OF-WAR.

Imagine this: my boyfriend and I are at my parents for dinner. I am wearing a perfectly modest tank-sweater-jeans combination. Even as my mother is greeting him, she is forcibly pulling on the bottom and top of my shirt. Yank down that tank, yank up that sweater neckline. Even as I mutter “MOM STOP!!!!”, she stage whispers at me “not to let my bottom hang out” or “you had better not ever lean over”. It’s beyond embarrassing. I can’t be comfortable, and my boyfriend just looks on in horror and confusion as my mother attempts to power-staple my shirt to my chest with her eyes.

And it doesn’t stop there. She does it at the grocery store, at church, and in front of my boss. I swear if I ever get married we’ll have to edit the wedding tapes to splice out the part where my mother climbs on-stage and tries to forcibly pull-up my wedding dress.

I dress modestly! I don’t wear pants that look painted on, shop at Wet Seal or attempt to let people know what color my bra is. It really doesn’t even matter what I have on. She will find a place to tug on it.

I really think that my only option is to start wearing spandex bodysuits that are so tight she can’t get a grip on them anywhere.

Please, just tell me I’m not the only one having to live with this.

Yours Truly,

Frustrated in Fairfax

Forbidden Treasures

January 11, 2010

I remember clearly the day it was discovered. That sinful thing I kept hidden in my room.

My mother practically wept when she confronted me over it. It was shameful, SHAMEFUL. Where had she gone wrong? How could she have raised a daughter who would have purchased such a carnal and lewd object? Why was God punishing her?

I sat, my fifteen-year-old eyes downcast, while she berated me for twenty minutes, gnashing her teeth over this scandalous and disgraceful object she had uncovered.

And then, she threw it into the trash.

I’m not surprised that she didn’t burn it – after all, to burn it she would have had to carry it from my bedroom, and heaven forbid any of my siblings should see it and know of my disgrace.

Once she left me to reflect upon my sins (without dinner), I sat and sadly stared into my small garbage can, at a pair of flowered cotton underwear with delicate pink ribbon around the top.

Because clearly, the only reason I would ever want to own something so abominably pretty, is because I intended for people to see them.

The List

January 11, 2010

Dear X-ATI Girl, 

I started writing The List when I was around six years old.  It has now grown to 240 items representing the man that I (and my mother and father) believe will be only God’s best for me.  My mother has told me that I should settle for no less than everything on the list.  If “broccoli lover” is present, broccoli lover God will provide.  After all, there really should be no exceptions to the list if you remain in God’s constant will and under your father’s guidance and protection. 

 I have met a few nice men in the past year during which my family was attending a home church hosted by a fellow Gothard disciple.  All of these men come from ATI families.  I met one very nice young man 11 months ago who constantly shows humility before God and our church by confessing his sins before the congregation.   I am moved by his obedience to the Lord and his parents.  I rush home from church every Sunday afternoon, excitedly pull The List from my hope chest, and begin to examine whether this could the man that God has sent to ask my father for courtship.  

  1. Male – yes! CHECK!
  2. Humble – yes! Check again!
  3. Compassionate – oh yes
  4. Strong – we’re on a roll
  5. Under his parent’s authority – definitely
  6. Building a barn – wow, I’ve never gotten this far before
  7. Pure –there is no way that this man could be anything but pure
  8. Respectful to his mother – he was holding her hand when they walked in!
  9. Wants kids – already overheard his dreams of raising mighty sons
  10. Respects me – of course!  He hasn’t even looked at me yet!
  11. Respects my father – he didn’t even shake his hand he is so scared of him
  12. Goes to church – faithfully 

And so down the list my pen has flown, checking off each ever-so-important item, and getting more and more confident that God has given me the willingness to be his wife.  The young man did ask my father for permission to court me!  My father prayed about this matter for 4 months before telling me (and the young man) that while the answer is not a decided ‘no,’ it is a definite ‘not at this time.’  This is item 57 on my list – I know that God will send me a young man who my father will immediately love and I should not accept a waiting period. 

I knew I should have used a pencil this time when marking off my list, but it just seemed so very sure.  X-ATI Girl, have you had a similar experience?  An older woman in our church suggested that I stop my list at 200 items, what are your thoughts on that?  Would that be settling for something that is less than God’s will? 

May you find a rhema this very day,

Waiting in Wisconsin

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.