In 2023, I set a goal to finish one book per week. I’m aiming to listen to 30 minutes of an audiobook per day (while cooking, cleaning, and/or driving) and read 10 minutes of a book. By doing this, I hope to fairly easily be able to finish one book per week.
You can follow along on GoodReads to see what I’m reading, what books I finish, and the star rating I give each of them.
Here’s one book I finished recently:
I wasn’t planning to read this book as I’d seen enough reviews to know that I probably wouldn’t love it. However, after our podcast episode on Shiny Happy People, many of you asked if I would read it and review it. So here we are.
First off, I don’t know Jinger. I’ve met some of her family at various conferences and years ago I spoke at a homeschool conference that her parents also spoke at. But we have no relationship.
I want so much for her to be free and to walk in the joy and peace that only Jesus gives. But after reading this book, I feel like she wrote it prematurely and is on the path to freedom but not fully there yet.
If you were raised in the ATI/IBLP program, there could be value in reading the book as it might help shed some light on some of the beliefs. However, I was very bothered by the fact that she wrote an entire book that was sharply critical of the principles and beliefs she was raised with and never once acknowledged the part her parents played in that.
Here’s the thing: I get wanting to protect her relationship with her parents. I get not wanting to publicly call them out. But if you are going to agree to writing a book that is all about how you “disentangled” from the beliefs you were raised with and you are going to talk about how detrimental those beliefs were in your life, I believe you are missing the mark if you don’t acknowledge the part your parents played in that.
She comes out swinging against Bill Gothard. She calls him out for all sorts of things (and rightly so). But Bill Gothard’s influence would have never been in her life had her parents not willingly brought it into their home, taught it to their kids, spoke about it at numerous conferences, and lauded it to the entire world through their TV show.
What I found interesting was how she did a deep dive in her book into the “umbrella of authority” belief system and how Bill Gothard teaches the principle of honoring your father and mother. She talks about how harmful this belief is. And yet, her unwillingness to even state that her parents played a role in teaching her the ATI/IBLP principles that were so unhealthy for her, points to the fact that I feel like she’s still not free and still feeling somewhat trapped in the belief system of “respect and honor your parents above all else”.
I believe that there is a way to acknowledge the part her parents played while still being kind and keeping her relationship with them. Even a simple paragraph in the book sharing that she disagrees with her parents, has had conversations with them about her concerns, and that while they don’t see eye-to-eye, she is grateful they can still have a good relationship. Or something like that.
But if she doesn’t see that they played a part or doesn’t feel like she can publicly acknowledge this part played, I’m very concerned. You see, this culture teaches that respect of parents is paramount… meaning, you aren’t supposed to ever question authority. The result of this is that there isn’t any accountability for parents or those in authority. I’ve seen firsthand how dangerous this is — multiple people close to me have experienced horrific abuse and no one was told until years later because you weren’t allowed to question authority. It’s sad and heartbreaking and harmful. The fact that she only held up her parents as these amazing people and never held them accountable in any way for any of the dysfunction she experienced is very problematic to me.
I was also bothered by her calling out Bill Gothard strongly for things like covering up abuse… and never once acknowledging that her parents did the same. (And yes, some people will defend the Duggars and say that the parents went to the police when the abuse happened so they didn’t cover it up. But, they chose to go on national TV and hold their son up as this completely pure young man and to make their platform about purity and courtship and no kissing and side hugs, etc., all the while knowing that they were being very hypocritical to do so and publicly covering up what happened in their home.)
Another thing I noticed in the book was how much her faith now is dependent upon things she’s learned from others — her brother-in-law, her husband, her pastor, her church. There is a tendency when you’ve been raised to be a formula follower to just transfer that following to someone else. I know, because I did it, too.
My deepest hope is that she can heal from the hurt and dysfunction she experienced in her childhood and that she can come to understand true freedom in Christ. I hope she is able to acknowledge the pain her parents caused her and to process through that and come to a place of forgiveness for them and for Bill Gothard and to have a personal relationship with Jesus that isn’t dependent upon what another man/method/ministry tells her is right or wrong.
I’m giving the book two stars because I do believe there is value in reading it to understand more of how we can get side-tracked following formulas and miss Jesus in the process. I also am hopeful that it will challenge some people still stuck in legalism to start their journey to freedom. I also felt that her sharing about her fear and how it crippled her was something that could be helpful to others who struggle with fear.
Verdict: 2 stars
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