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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Focus on Focus on the Family

In which we revisit our two-week retreat at the headquarters of Focus on the Family, November 2004, when, in the wake of the election, we (briefly) considered repenting.  Here’s the second and final post from my sojourn.

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Well, as many of you might have expected, I’ve had enough of the Focus on the Family Ministry Re-Education Camp—though I’m told that if and when these Camps become mandatory for all U.S. citizens, my two weeks’ time will be credited to my account.  I’m heading back to secular life and striking up the blog again.  Thanks for waiting, everyone—I see we’ve left the half-million-visitor mark in the dust while I was away*, but please, let’s keep this in perspective.  A half million visitors in 11 months may be all right for a humble blog, but Focus on the Family gets that many visitors every week.

I’ve heard rumors that some of you don’t believe I went to Colorado Springs at all.  “Didn’t you speak at a symposium at Wayne State and go to a reception with Barrett Watten where you met artists Amy Vogel and Joseph Grigely, and then didn’t you hang out at the Cass Cafe with old friend Mysoon Rizk as well as Charles Stivale and a bunch of other people?” asked one of my friends.  “Yeah,” said another, “and weren’t you hard at work on your book and a mess of other things you were supposed to be doing this fall but couldn’t even think of doing because you were completely consumed by the election?” “Isn’t this just another one of your ruses?” said a third.  “I bet you weren’t even in Madison Square Garden for the Republican National Convention, either.”

What a bunch of doubting Thomases I have for friends!  ("Doubting Thomas” is a brand new expression I learned in Colorado Springs.  See John 20:24-29.) I can tell you from personal experience that the Welcome Center has a three-story corkscrew slide named “A-Bend-A-Go” (see Habbakuk 2:1, “I will stand at the watchpost, and station myself at the three-story corkscrew slide").  And in a way it was good that I was there in November, because November is their “Marriage Theme Month.” Which makes sense, after all, since October was “Homophobia Month.”

But really, enough was enough.  It wasn’t the homophobia so much, or the repeated showings of The Passion of the Christ (not that there’s anything wrong with having an obsessive fixation on Christ’s battered, bleeding, nearly nude body!).  Instead, it was the child-beating.  I’d forgotten about the child-beating.  Which was stupid of me, since before Dr. James Dobson became a major power player in the Republican party (and what’s up with you conservatives trying to claim that liberals are exaggerating about this?  are you all on drugs or something?), he was renowned as a “Christian childrearing expert” who counsels parents to begin striking their children at around the age of fifteen months, preferably with a wooden spoon, preferably on the back of the leg.  In books like Dare to Discipline and The Strong-Willed Child:  Birth through Adolescence, Dr. Dobson promoted an entire regime of child torture, starting with the wooden spoons and moving right through neck-pinching, with special tips on how to produce maximal pain on tiny necks while leaving minimal physical signs of abuse.  How could I have forgotten?  So this is why these people didn’t have any problem with Abu Ghraib!

Anyway, Dr. Dobson hasn’t let his child-torture business lie fallow while he’s taken on his larger crusades against gays, lesb***ns, and Arlen Specter.  Focus on the Family Ministries still runs a vibrant child-beating laboratory, informally known as the “Spare the Rod Room,” where spanking implements and techniques are tested night and day.  Wooden spoons of various designs, materials, and swing-weights are rigorously researched for their effects on the tiny, fleshy legs of toddlers and infants, with the parent’s comfort uppermost in mind.  Around here, they say that nothing is worse than developing bursitis or “palm splinters” by using a heavy, unwieldy, or shoddily made wooden spoon when you “dare to discipline” your child!  But the constant thwacking kept me up at night, not to mention the poor little buggers’ piercing screams.  Ah, well, Christ went through far worse, and look where it got Him!

Still, I’m looking forward to a good night’s rest for a change.  And more blogging!

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* Back in 2004 we used to get really excited about little things like that.

Posted by Michael on 10/18 at 08:31 AM
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