“Long they laboured in the regions of Eä, which are vast beyong the thought of Elves and Men, until in the time appointed was made Arda.”
((“Beren”) John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, “Valaquenta”)
I’ve been laboring for quite sometime as to how I was going to write this follow-up to “Remembering Lydia Schatz“. I had, at the time I composed the first blog entry, sent e-mail to No Greater Joy Ministries voicing my opposition to the concepts set forth in Mr. Michael Pearl’s book “To Train Up A Child”. Today, I received a reply. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that Mr. Chuck Joyner, the “Assistant General Manager” of NGJ would back TTUAC wholeheartedly, with the same apparent willful ignorance with which the book was written. The biggest issue I faced was just how to present this information to you, the reader of this humble weblog. What I came up with is this: copy-pasting the entirety of the e-mail into this entry, and adding annotations where I wish to counter Mr. Joyner’s assertions. Afterwards, and I HOPE this doesn’t take on a “TLDR” (“Too long, didn’t read”) aspect for you all, I will add some further research notes. But I digress…
Without further adieu, the e-mail reply from NGJ Ministries:
“Thank you for writing to NGJ and to the Pearls. They regret that due to their workload and the volume of email that they receive that they are not able to respond to each one personally. The Pearls and the NGJ Staff are not professional counselors and any advice that they give is their personal opinion. (1)
I apologize for the delayed response but several of my emails were not delivered until yesterday evening.
I encourage you to read To Train Up a Child. . Nothing in the book can be used to justify the behavior of the parents who killed their 7 year old daughter. (2) The DA’s response on CNN claimed that there was no question in his mind that the book influenced the parents to do what they did, but he gave no evidence or examples.(3) He also mentioned the Pearls were free to write “awful things” but gives no example of awful things that were written.(4) The CNN Report was a one-sided portrayal of a terrible event and many are exploiting her death for their own twisted purposes.(5) Almost every person that has had negative comments on the book has never read it.(6) We have thousands upon thousands of positive letters and emails praising the book from those that have read it and followed its principles.(7)
Here are quotes from the book that actually warn against abuse.
“Train up-not beat up. Train up-not discipline up.”(8) “A child needs more than ‘obedience training’, but without first training him, discipline is insufficient” page 4
“Disciplinary actions can easily become excessive and oppressive if you set aside the tool of training and depend on discipline alone to do the training.”(9) Page 9
“Parent, have you trained yourself not to discipline immediately but to wait until your irritation builds into anger? If so, then you have allowed anger to become your inducement to discipline.” Page 25
“Parent, if you are having problems with your children, you can be assured that you are not alone. Your children are also having problems with you. You are going to have to make adjustments in your own life if you are going to help them with their problems.” “… the responsibility for making a significant change is completely yours.” Page 32
“There are always some who act in the extreme. These individuals are capable of using what has been said about the legitimate use of the rod to justify ongoing brutality to their children.” page 50
“The rod should never be a vent for parents’ anger. Where the supreme motivation is anything other than the child’s good, it is inevitable that such behavior by the parent will assuredly create problems.” page 51
These quotes and the rest of the book are about turning the hearts of parents to the children and the hearts of children to the parents. Those that properly practice the philosophy of To Train Up a Child enjoy the fruits of joy that it produces.
I am sure the hateful and false statements that are being made against the Pearls and NGJ grieve the Lord Jesus Christ to tears.
Assistant General Manager
No Greater Joy Ministries”
1) According to the NGJ website, Mr. Michael Pearl possesses a BS from Crichton College. Now known as Victory University, this college based in Memphis, TN is a private, for-profit Christian Liberal Arts College. At no point in either TTUAC or on the website does it state just WHAT field of study Mr. Pearl’s BS is in. Instead, the website states:
“Though holding a BS from Crichton College, when Michael is asked for his credentials on child training he points to his five children.” (http://www.nogreaterjoy.org/who-is-ngj/)
I would hazard to guess that this BS does NOT include any kind of widely-accepted, transferrable credit Child Development course of study.
2) Absolutely right on at least this one point, however if one reads just the first few chapters, that material alone sets the stage! In one of the first sections of the book, entitled “Obedience Training”, Mr. Pearl equates the training of children to the training of mice, rats and dogs. In another section within the same first few pages, it talks about training horses. (“Whoa, Horse”) In this respect, Mr. Pearl’s book causes the parent reading this for guidance, to view their child on these terms. The sheer ignorance and disdain for children that this shows is astounding! What Mr. Pearl fails to mention here, the distinction that he FAILS to make is that, unlike horses, dogs, rats and mice, children are SENTIENT, self-aware beings with souls. I didn’t see that mentioned anywhere within all of this drivel about training animals.
3) Earlier today, I had the unique pleasure of actually speaking with Mr. Michael Ramsey up in Butte County. His opinions as stated to CNN haven’t changed from what I could tell. Though the case against the Schatz’s is over, he emphatically encouraged me to continue the information battle against NGJ, insomuch as this tale needs to be told, expanded on and tried in the courts of public opinion. While Mr. Ramsey may not have had quite as much of a say as he would have liked at the time, I on the other hand have the benefit of a weblog and the new media to present these “evidence and examples” that Mr. Joyner is so curious about!
4) “Awful things that were written”? Oh, let me see…children equal animals in the aspect of training? I’d say that’s awful…
5) “Twisted purposes”? Standing up for the children is “twisted” in your book? Please excuse my bluntness Mr. Joyner, but you can go procreate…with yourself. “Twisted” is what Mr. Pearl suggests in the same CNN interview that you quote in your e-mail. I submit the following excerpt from that interview:
(Interviewer:) “Let’s say a seven-year-old…slugs his sister.”
(Pearl:) “He would get…a seven-year old would get ah…ten or fifteen licks…” (more dialogue)
(Interviewer:) “With what?”
(Pearl:) “Ah…probably a belt, a kid that big, a boy…I’d probably use a belt, it’d be handy, I might use ah…a wooden spoon or uhm…a…a piece of…” (measures distance with his hands) “…ah…a…like plumbing supply line, a quarter inch in diameter, flexible enough to roll up…”
…so in effect, Mr. Pearl would give a seven-year-old child fifteen “licks” as he calls them, with a rubber hose. I’d say that’s pretty twisted, and ABUSIVE. A seven-year-old child isn’t really that big. Granted that some are bigger than others, but it still does not justify hitting them fifteen times with ANYTHING, let alone a rubber hose!
6) In order to read the book, we’d have to BUY the book. I personally cannot see the point in spending my hard-earned, recession economy dollars on a piece of dreck like this. I guess I’ll just have to do what so many others have done: look up excerpts on the grid, along with statements that Mr. Pearl and his camp have made on national television and on their own website. Those statements alone are more than enough to cast serious doubt on the concepts put forth in TTUAC!
7) “Thousands upon thousands”? I highly doubt it. That would mean that there are that many bad parents in the world. (Then again, maybe it isn’t such a reach…)
8 ) Here we have one of many instances where Mr. Pearl attempts to rewrite the English language dictionary. “Discipline” is defined as follows:
“Noun: The practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience.”
“Verb: Train (someone) to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience.”
Mr. Pearl does this with other words as well, such as drawing distinctions between “hitting” and “spanking”. The following excerpt is from the same CNN interview:
- Pearl also throws knives!
(Pearl:) “Ah, I don’t use the term hitting.”
(Interviewer:) “Wait, what’s the word?”
(Interviewer:) “And is there a difference?”
(Pearl:) “Heh…absolutely. A hand is hitting. A little switch is spanking. A wooden spoon, or a spatula? A rubber spatula…that’s spanking.”
Merriam-Webster defines “hit” as follows:
transitive verb /1 a: to reach with or as if with a blow b: to come in contact with <the ball hit the window> c:to strike (as a ball) with an object (as a bat, club, or racket) so as to impart or redirect motion
2 a:to cause to come into contact b:to deliver (as a blow) by action c:to apply forcefully or suddenly <hit the brakes>
intransitive verb / 1 a: to strike a blow b: to arrive with a forceful effect like that of a blow <the storm hit>
2 a: to come into contact with something
9) Discipline…training….we could go round and round. What’s the point!? The point is that Mr. Pearl does what so many other narrow-minded people do: he manufactures facts to support his own conclusions. He tries to re-define terms that are already defined, so that they fit into his narrow little concept of child “training”.
He contradicts himself as well. According to the NGJ website article entitled “In Defense of Biblical Chastisement, Part 1”, he makes the following statements:
“We don’t “hit” our children.”
“We decry the fact that “corporal punishment” is practiced by some people motivated by self-interest, and this is what the spanking abolitionists are seeing.”
The NGJ camp does not call what they advocate “corporal punishment”, however let’s look at the actual definition of the term:
“1: punishment applied to the body of an offender including the death penalty, whipping, and imprisonment
2: punishment administered by an adult (as a parent or a teacher) to the body of a child ranging in severity from a slap to a spanking”
…waitaminute! To spank, or not to spank, is that the question? I thought Mr. Pearl told that CNN guy that he does spank! What the frell, over!?
There is decidedly more to that e-mail that I could comment on, but I think that I’ve made my point. Michael Pearl, and for that matter Chuck Joyner and all those that support NGJM, are seriously “twisted” (warped, whacko, bonzo-seco bug-nut crazy, pick your perjorative!). Anyone who would hit (yes, that’s what it is. There’s NO DENYING IT!) a child fifteen times with any object in the process of administering corporal punishment (again, res ipsa loquitur!) is twisted, abusive and just plain W – R – O – N – G on SO many different levels!