My darling #Exvangelical fam. I probably should not be doing this, I have spent all day coding data and reading, and I have SO MANY THOUGHTS. But honestly, I felt bad for not doing it last week and ALSO I have some shit to say. So here we are.
I've gotten some new followers since last time, so hey, y'all! Nice to see you. For anyone who does not know, I go through evangelical books because... eh? I started with Dobson, links to those in my moments. Now I'm doing Elisabeth Elliot. Catch up here -
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OKAY. Let's get into this shit here. I'm gonna be honest, y'all. Up until this set of chapters, I've been feeling REMARKABLY okay about Elliot. Don't get me wrong, she's awful. But I haven't wanted to throw the book hardly at all? I know this is partly just her being not Dobson.
But also her teen journal entries were charming and I just... I don't know! I was MOSTLY feeling not total hatred. I'm gonna give you a spoiler and let you know that she for sure lost me VERY very quickly in this section here. Which was bound to happen, I suppose.
Our first chapter is called Unfailing Love. Which is generic and gives me very little to work with. But don't worry - she's gonna jump right in.
"But how in the world can I find out what God wants me to do, if I don't know what *I* want to do?" is an interesting question...? lol
No, obviously she doesn't think that. Honestly I don't either because of how I don't care what god wants me to do cause I think he's not real but that's neither here nor there. What SHE says is "The logic of this question escapes me but it is one I have heard more than once...
Why not start by simply telling God you'll do anything He says? You're the servant. He's the master. It's the only reasonable approach, isn't it? Furthermore, there IS the possibility that what He says will be something you'd like."
I... where to begin with this bullshit?
Okay. I am just going to begin with the low-hanging fruit - this stuff ALWAYS sounds kinky. But like really bad and unhealthy kink. I just... look. There is no one and nothing that I will describe myself as a servant to except in sex play, and that's more of a discrete event.
It is not actually reasonable. It's not. Like you can say this stuff like it's obvious but nothing you've said MAKES it obvious. This is just you saying this is true because it's true, how can you question this? God is God because he's God, therefor you have to trust him. K.
I particularly like the end bit about how it COULD be a thing you'd like. We can DARE TO DREAM. Like God occasionally drips things we like our direction and we're supposed to lap it up eagerly. Then he hits you. It's just an abusive relationship, that's always what they describe.
"Speaking of teenagers of the 80's..."
Were we? When? What? Sometimes she loses me. I am unsure if that's supposed to be a logical followup, or if she's making a joke. I feel like it could be either, and I hate it in both cases, so maybe it doesn't actually matter.
So speaking of those teens, "Joan Schuman, director of Massachusetts' Bureau of Student Services, said, 'It is their selfishness that strikes me most of all. The predominant theme is, 'What's in it for me?' and ' I don't care what happens to my fellowman.'"
At this time, for no particular reason, I would like everyone to pause, and take a big breath with me. I need one. Maybe you do too.

Deep breaths.

And another one.

There we go.

Ready?

Back to it.
So here's the thing - I love teenagers. Anyone who hasn't been following me, hi, I'm Sparkle, I love teenagers, they are fucking amazing. I cannot speak for the teens of the 80's, as I was born in '84. But I am skeptical that as a whole they were a crowd of monsters.
However, CHRISTIANS always think teenagers are monsters. Realistically they want the whole developmental stage tossed, I would say. We go over this when we talk about Dobson, who seems to despise teenagers the most (saying a lot considering how much he despises people in general)
But it doesn't stand out in the larger Christian circles. It is popular to hate teens. Honestly, it's popular to hate teens even NOT in Christian circles, which is a thing I do not have time to soap box about right now, but for Christians, they get to say that everything...
that makes teens special and unique and resilient and amazing is proof that they are sinful and wicked. It's the same thing they do with toddlers. The ages when they are supposed to be forming their own identity. It's not an accident, y'all, don't think for a second it is.
So of COURSE I'm not surprised that she's hating on teens but it immediately makes me hate her. And it particularly makes me hate her because I know how many of YOU, my beloveds, read this when you WERE teenagers. How hateful to be writing such things to your audience.
I just want to say to any of you who read this that I'm so sorry. Not just this, but any of this crap. You were not a bad person. You were not selfish and awful and "rebellious." You were struggling to do the developmental tasks you were supposed to do. Fuck anyone who shamed you
Sigh. So now she does a thing about how there are "over a million pregnancies per year among unmarried girls under 20." So we WERE having a teen pregnancy crisis for a while there, I think it spiked in the 90's if I remember correctly. But good news! It's been dropping for years!
Oh, she doesn't care. None of them do. They only care about bad facts that they feel prove them right. She says these numbers illustrate the observation about teens - "What they want they take, any way they can get it."
Y'all, @ErikMKort had to hear me shriek QUITE loudly here.
I JUST CANNOT. But we must move forward because I'm still in like the third paragraph and this is going to be a long night if I don't pick up the pace.
Anyway. Some of these girls have learned it from their parents, who suck and have "shed the responsibility of parenthood."
They have done this for "another 'lifestyle' - another partner, another career, another bid for the happiness that will always elude them. If a mother or father, by behavior, says in effect, 'It's my life, this is what I want, the rest of you be damned,' their children will..
follow suit. Who shows them another way?"
I know I said we had to pick up the pace, but this is why it is taking me so long to get through her book. There's so much in these small sections.
Okay. First off, I think lifestyle is implying gayness? Or possible gayness?
She mentioned it before so I assume it's not off the table.
Second, there is an interesting evangelical thing, where happiness (or satisfaction) is assumed to be a prize attained and checked off. OR that it is something we never actually get here anyway, no sense in trying.
I'm not saying there's no such thing as being restless and constantly looking for meaning at the expense of others. I would argue that Christians are also very capable of that (and many of us could bear testimony to that). But also... getting divorced or going to work isn't that.
Those are understandable life choices that people not infrequently make to better their lives.
ALSO there is this weird assumption here that if parents do something, then their kids will do the exact same thing because WHO WILL TEACH THEM DIFFERENTLY? I don't... sigh.
Look, again. Certainly kids follow in the footsteps of their parents. There are cycles of trauma in many families. But we aren't DOOMED to it. As, again, I think most of the #Exvangelical community can attest to, yeah? For a group that believes in free will, they sure don't.
She will grudgingly admit that "it would be foolish to deny that there are some pleasures along that road." Obviously we are not supposed to care about PLEASURES. The way she talks about it just really makes me laugh because it sounds so weirdly snooty and grumpy.
"There is plenty of what people call fun. There are thrills, gratifications, 'experiences.'"
I mean, hun. You could have just made different life choices and been a way happier person. Trying to say that fun and experiences suck is not a super compelling argument.
However, she assures us there's another way, and that's of course to love what god wants and commands and want what he promises (look, he is damn vague about his promises). It apparently takes us to "where things are not at the mercy of changing fashions and opinions."
This comes up in every Evangelical book but here we go again. Y'all, sometimes we change our opinions because we LEARN AND GET BETTER. Opinions make it sound cheap, and that's because what it is isn't opinions really. It's updating your reality when you realize you were wrong.
ALSO let us never forget that Evangelicals change their opinion all the fucking time and have changed their stances like 50,000 times since I've been born. On SO MANY THINGS. And just because they are willing to look you dead in the eye and lie about it doesn't make it not so.
But she tells us that this is where a man and woman's heart can find safety. That's at the core of a lot of this, really. Don't worry, y'all. If you follow all the rules, you will stay SAFE. The world is dangerous and cruel and god keeps you SAFE. I think we all know that's a lie
She had a bunch of random verses in her journal about anxiety and trouble. She says her journal doesn't say what was upsetting her that particular day. She was looking up Greek roots and such, whole deal. She says it in more flowery prose but basically she says that she was...
terrified of "missing the path of righteousness." Which is honestly tragic. She seems to also feel a little bad about it, says that even though maybe that was better than carelessness, the years have taught her that "the heart set to do the Father's will need never fear defeat."
"Does it make sense to believe that the Shepherd would care less about getting His sheep where he wants them to go than they care about getting there?"
I hate it when they compare people to sheep, they always made it so clear what an insult that was and it's shitty.
But also, I don't know. Even if you go with that terrible analogy, the shepherd is actually physically there with his sheep taking them somewhere. "Trust" in this context is a vague concept. She can chastise her younger self in hindsight but how could she know?
The next chapter - Chapter 9 - The Revelation. Also a boring title.
She begins by saying that at the time it seemed that "a settled commitment to the Lord Christ and a longed-for commitment to Jim Elliot seemed to be in conflict." Which leads me back to the thoughts above.
She ended up with what she wanted (kind of, and more's the pity in my opinion) but of course she was stressed and sad about it as a young woman. Especially being treated like shit by this asshole she was in love with. Another spoiler - he is NOT going to get better here.
On Memorial Day there was a picnic that they were all at and when it ended, she was helping clean up. Jim also stayed and she "kept him somewhere in the corner of her eye." I definitely have been there, although I was never for even a second as demure as she seems to be.
After she's done, she looks over and he's sitting on a table talking to his friends (so... not so much helping clean up then?). He's looking at her, everyone else has gone. He jumps down, comes over, and asks to walk her home. She asks if his friends are coming, he says no.
This next part really just needs to be put in here in it's entirety. Any interaction with Jim is astonishing to me.
"We walked half a block in silence. Then, suddenly, 'We've got to get squared away on how we feel about each other,' Jim said. I was dumbfounded.
No preliminaries, nothing. Just like that. Bang. The revelation I'd been hoping for - he HAD some feelings. And he was assuming that I had some. I was a little piqued at this assumption. It seemed presumption, since I thought I had done quite well at concealing my interest.
The last thing I wanted was to hint in any way that I had thought twice about him - until, that is, he hinted that he was interested in me. Now what was I to say?
'Feel about each other? You mean - '
'Come on, Bett. Don't tell me you didn't know I was in love with you.'"
There's more but I need to TAKE A GODDAMN MINUTE HERE. They have never talked about this before. I'm not sure she's done such a great job hiding it but who knows, that's really not the point. The idea that this piece of shit is just like 'hi, so we need to solve this now.'
And when she flounders and tries to catch her breath, instead of being like hey, I'm in love with you, you're amazing or... I don't know. SOMETHING. He says, as if she's stupid, what, you didn't know I was in love with you?
It's such clearly manipulative awful garbage. I HATE HIM
Okay. Back to it then.
"'I had no idea.'
'Really? But you must have! If you didn't - then all I can say is you must have thought I was a pretty nice guy. I've been knocking myself out to be near you, be nice to you, show you how I felt without actually saying anything.
You mean you didn't notice?'"
Okay. Again. Pause. Let us all remember together Jim and his nice guy moments. Let's think back. Remember that time he called her and asked her out for a Coke and told her that she wasn't being friendly enough and needed to smile more?
Or when he took her to the missionary meeting and then sent her a letter the next day telling her he was out of line in some way that she didn't understand but made her feel clearly at fault? Or just now when he called her an idiot for not knowing he was in love with her?
"'I noticed. I was afraid to believe my eyes. I told myself you couldn't possibly be interested, let alone -'
'In love. That's what I'm telling you. Hey, we're not going to campus now. Let's go back to the Lagoon and talk this thing out.'"
Cool. Cool cool cool cool cool.
SEVEN HOURS LATER she comes home, glad to go to her little closet to think. Can you imagine? 7 hours? Also, apparently during that time he not only told her that God was calling him to remain single, but also mansplained to her about how rainbows are made. Romance, folks.
So he tells her he is in love with her, drags her out there for 7 hours (I am betting he talked for 6.5 of them) and tells her he has to remain single because apparently when it comes to missionaries, "single men are needed to do jobs married ones could never do."
Jim believed this and had committed himself to it. Awesome.
There's a bunch of random lines in her journal. Faithfulness, trying to stay true to the path of righteousness, lots about paths, really. There was definitely a train of thought but no words about it, just verses.
She says she was super cautious about what in her journals, not because she was afraid someone would read them but because "I was afraid to articulate, even to myself, feelings I might have to get rid of. Better to stick with what God was saying to me than what my heart was...
saying. It seemed the safer course. I do not repudiate it now."
I mean, of course you don't. You've put a lot in sticking with this. And you're dead so you don't care what I say but I'm going to say what *I* think, which is this wasn't just about god. This is the allowed framing.
People who are attracted to men, you tell me - if you were into a man who had done everything Jim has done, would *you* feel super secure and ready to commit? Come on. He is the worst, and he is CLEARLY untrustworthy. You want to talk about keeping your heart safe - he won't.
But he puts everything on God and so does she. And that's convenient in a weird way. No one has to be to blame if things go to hell. It just wasn't god's will. But you know what? If he had walked out on her, she still would have been devastated, I am sure of it. Not him.
She's protecting herself with Jesus, and you know what? Whatever. We do what we have to do. I don't even begrudge her that, certainly not younger her. (I'm definitely drawing a clear line between Baby!Elisabeth and the author version.) But it isn't what she says it is.
She believes god gave her these out of context verses to "show certain aspects of the truth at the time. The Holy Spirit was given to guide us into all truth, but He doesn't do it all at once."
lol I mean, basically you're just leaving yourself room for new interpretation.
Which is great, I don't care really. That's what we all do. We interpret our present, and we interpret the past through the present. How I interpret my 21yo self is entirely different than I did 10 years ago. And probably entirely differently than I will in another 10 years.
But that has nothing to do with Jesus. That has to do with the way our brains make meaning. Which to be fair, for her is about Jesus. So you know. Whatever. It's the prescriptive nature of it that makes me so irate. Anyway.
Next chapter!
Chapter 10 - Does God Notice?
Going to give a real quick answer - nope.
Okay, atheist thoughts aside, moving into HER thoughts. "In the days following our talk at the Lagoon I prayed for holy harmony. It seemed impossible that the torrent of passion could be brought into...
the calm river of God's purposes for Jim or for me, but I prayed for it anyway."
The PROSE, y'all. It's so intense. Also it's particularly intense when you keep in mind that, unless she is straight out lying (and I'll give her the benefit of the doubt), they didn't even touch.
Like these TORRENTS OF PASSION are them sitting together and talking about how they probably both have to stay single forever but boy wouldn't it be nice if god somehow made it work out anyway. Jim told her he wasn't looking for anyone else, he had found who he wanted.
"'If I marry, I know who it'll be. That is, of course, if she'll have me.' He flashed his famous smile. I smiled in reply. He hastened to add, 'But I'm not asking. I can't do that, Bett, and you'll have to understand that. I can't ask you to marry me, and I can't ask you to...
commit yourself to anything whatever. I can't even ask you to wait. I've given you and all my feelings for you to God. He'll have to work out whatever he wants.'"
I am so upset Jim died so that I could not murder him myself. Deeply, deeply sad. THIS IS SUCH BULLSHIT.
Like that's not how this works, you know. You can't be like 'ah well, I definitely want to marry you but I'm not asking you anything at all and you can hold me to absolutely nothing and if it doesn't work out, that's probably Jesus.' That makes you an ASSHOLE, dude.
But she's turned on by how he's so into god and his "spiritual hunger parallels her own." But wait! It gets better. "But Jim was not just spiritual. He was very physical. He had a wrestler's build-strong neck, barrel chest, muscular arms and legs. He had brown hair, fair skin...
blue eyes, beautiful teeth, and a good square jaw.
'I'm hungry for you, Bett,' he had said. He was not one to beat about the bush. 'We're alike in our desire for God. I'm glad for that. But we're different too. I've got the body of a man, and you've got the body of a woman and...
frankly, I want you. But you're not mine.'"
This is the second time I've read that and I feel no less physically ill this time than I did the first. This is quite literally the least romantic thing I have ever read in my life. I cannot think of anything to compare. At all.
Once I read a section from an erotic novel that was about a world that was taken over by sentient dinosaurs and a man who was working for a sentient dinosaur and he has a relationship with him. No, I'm not lying, dino erotica is a thing, look it up if you want. It is VERY BAD.
But you know what? More romantic than this.
Anyway. Don't worry. Her body of a woman belongs to God, so they have to see if he cares about their plight. "Would He bother with us, when He was busy with who knew how many worlds?" I only include that line because it implies she...
maybe believes in aliens and other planets? That's fun. Anyway. She quotes about God knowing all the heavens and stuff. And then she quotes the whole section with the bit about growing wings like eagles and y'all can find it if you want, I'm drawing the line at copying scripture.
So I had initially planned to stop after that chapter but the next one was only one page and it was called, and this is true, Oozing Ache.
That was the worst phrase I had read in a long time, at least since I heard Jim describe their bodies, so I had to read it.
There's some journal entries which I actually won't copy. It's basically just her talking about how she and Jim go back and forth, not with much detail. The first one is cute though.
"June 1, 1948 - The sun shone, and I sent a copy of a poem to Jim."
Aw. The sun shone.
Baby!Elisabeth is really cute.
So then on June 6th Jim writes a poem. My sweet, loving Exvie family. It is in this book. It is... very bad. Let us engage it together.

"O Lord, against this bosom blast
of coiled and seething feelings
Batt'ring passions, ebbing yearnings,
oozing ache of inner man,
Raise Thou the flinty walls of stuff of
which Thy Son was made.
Yea, build in me the buttressed
bastions of faith.
Thou shall resist the undersucking flow
of soulish tide
And make me to endure this late attack,
I pray, in Jesus' name."
Okay, she had to KNOW that was bad, right? Like she is kind of obnoxious but she's a pretty good writer. Does nostalgia make it better? I know love can sort of cover faults but like... that much? Also it would APPEAR that he is praying for god to help him resist... her.
Again. Not romantic. Opposite of romantic. Also OOZING ACHE.
WHY THO?
So the next day they walk for a long time talking MORE about how they have both made all these plans to maybe not get married and maybe they won't be able to do that. They have both made "codes."
And fine, I'll copy ONLY THESE VERSES.
His is Matthew 19:12 - "For while some are incapable of marriage because they were born so, or were made so by men, there are others who have themselves renounced marriage for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let those accept it who can."
Tag yourself, I'm incapable of marriage because I'm made so by men.
Let those accept it who can.
Hers come from two verses - Isaiah 54:5 "Your husband is your maker, whose name is the Lord of Hosts." (you know Jim got an IMMEDIATE hard-on when he heard that) and 1 Corinthians 7:34, 35 "The unmarried or celibate woman cares for the Lord's business; her aim is to be...
dedicated to him in body as in spirit; but the married woman cares for worldly things; her aim is to please her husband. In saying this I have no wish to keep you on a tight rein. I am thinking simply of your good, of what is seemly, and of your freedom to wait upon the Lord...
without distraction."
Again, all of these verses seem SO KINKY in this context and I don't feel like that's the point but I also feel like it kind of is? The more I hear people tell me about their Very Pure Relationships when they were younger, the more clear it is where the...
sexual tension tended to be going. It didn't vanish, it just goes into weird spaces. And if you can make those weird spaces Very Spiritual and Godly, then hooray for you! I guess. Anyway. They had this conversation and I imagine it was as insufferable as all the rest.
She assures us that no Christian should write off the possibility that "this is his assignment." God might assign you to be single and lonely, y'all. It just might happen. I mean... as opposed to marry Jim or someone like him? Seems like a true mercy if I'm honest.
She says that she and Jim were shocked at how alike they were in thought on this, although I don't know WHY. That has seemed obvious all along. They both cautioned each other not to take that as a sign. Basically they just keep reassuring each other that there are no signs.
They're going to pray and wait and see if god ever wants them to be together or if he's just super into them having long and interminably awful conversations. It's hard to say with god really.
All right, y'all! That's all I've got for you. Hopefully I'll be back next week... but also @Ivefledged will be here so I may not be. I miss you all when I don't have a chance to write these. Please feel free to respond or DM me. I want to hear all your thoughts. <3 <3
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