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      Last year the New York Times had a profile of two people marrying: one 98, the other 94. They met in gym, they’re both active and happy despite their age. What is their “secret?” “People always ask what it is that keeps us young,” Mr. Mann said. “Of course, one part of it is medical […]
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The Duggars, the Puritans and the Quakers

Thanks for your indulgence on my absence for awhile. I’m still trying to work my way out of perpetual underemployment. My contract was extended for a bit and I’m in the midst of  intense learning curve type program activities. So, I’ve been a bit disconnected from the news and politics.

BUT, did I hear this right that the Duggars are going to Fox in order to try to salvage their tarnished reputation? I should make it clear that I don’t think that Josh Duggar is a unreformed pedophile. The fact that some of us think this is the result of Fox News promulgating a culture of fear, uncertainty, dread and pedophiles around every corner. That’s why you have mothers walking their sixth graders to the bus stops and hanging around attempting to make awkward connections with their neighbors. (Can you really trust these people if you haven’t background checked them?)

In any case, live by the sword, die by the sword. That’s what’s happening to the Duggars.

However, it didn’t have to be this way if the Duggars were more aware of American history. I’m currently reading Albion’s Seed about four English folkways and their impact on American culture. Highly recommended, by the way. A good 5 sponge read if you have some deep cleaning to do. The Duggars could have learned a lot from the Puritans and the Quakers and how they ran their families. Let’s look at the Puritans first.

The Puritans were fanatics about personal responsibility and Calvinism and being born sinful and all that stuff that the Duggars are always pushing on their poor kids. They also had LARGE families. The average family size for Puritans in New England was over 9 kids/family. Huge. Lots of little “blessings”. Well, sinfully, naturally bad blessings who needed discipline. But here’s the thing about the Puritans. They had a tradition of “sending out” their kids to other families to be fostered. They did this for several reasons. Sometimes it was so a boy could get an education or be apprenticed. But what about the girls? What could possibly be the benefit of sending a girl out to learn domestic crafts?

Some historians believe they did this when the kids hit puberty because they wanted to minimize the likelihood of incest between siblings. And that theory makes sense. The setting for these families was semi-rural, there were lots of kids jammed into small salt box houses, for long winter nights. Things happen. So, they sent their children to other families.

Now, that wouldn’t work for the Duggars because then their daughters would be exposed to unrelated males in the same house and things might happen there too. Yes, but it wouldn’t be incest.

Another English folkway inspired the Quakers of the Delaware Valley. They were not as violent as the Puritans and didn’t believe that children were unrepentant sinners from the moment they were born. They were quite kind to their children and raised them in an almost Montessori way. Don’t get me wrong, Quakers could be harsh towards friends who were lusty but they were kind towards children. And maybe that’s because they didn’t have a lot of them. Yep, Quakers were the Americans who were most into birth control. As a result, their family sizes were much smaller than the Puritans and they had no need to send any of their kids out when they hit puberty.

So, there ya’ go, Jim Bob and Michelle. Incest problem solved.

Gotta go. Tomorrow, how to take a BITE out of undue influence.

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