Friday, December 22, 2006

Secondary Gripes

Because I’m not yet finished complaining about this book, I have to point out two other things that really burned me up (or at least made me understand that the authors’ values are not my values, as if that wasn’t obvious from their insistence that I must “get it all.”)

1. Spirituality. One of the things the authors emphasize is that GALs (SAHMs who are Getting it All) have a strict daily regimen broken down into fifteen minute segments. That’s fine with me. I’m Type A. I like schedules. But they insist that in order to be a GAL then you must dedicate an entire fifteen minutes per day to “spirituality.” Their first instruction is to create a “sanctuary” at home (it should be easily set up and taken down) with whatever accoutrements you might need to feel peaceful and relaxed. Next, spend fifteen minutes in your sanctuary repeating the mantra of your choice, and, voila! You can check off your spirituality box for the day. You have now fulfilled your daily spirituality requirement and are well on your way to being a GAL. Isn’t that great?!? Say your centering mantra for 15 minutes and be on your merry way. Don’t get me wrong…I love centering prayer, but it seems cheap to insist on spirituality as just another thing to do on your way to getting it all. Don’t even get me started on the fact that they cite “elegance” as a spiritual discipline. Gag.

2. It’s All About Me. Despite the fact that GALs are supposed to be spiritual people (a spirituality perfected in 15 minutes per day), there doesn’t seem to be much room for selflessness. In the chapter on finances they claim that “doing generous, selfless things will bring wealth to you” (270). They then tell the story about how one of the authors gave a ten-spot to a guy selling a newspaper in an intersection and told the vendor to keep the change. That afternoon the authors got a call from a publisher wanting to publish their book. Why? Because the author was so generous to the newspaper vendor, they claim. So always be on the lookout for opportunities to be generous, not because being generous is a good thing, but because it will bring you the good karma in the end.

They devote a lot of space to sex and ways to nurture intimacy. Not a bad thing at all, but ultimately they advise that doing good things for your husband will pay off for you in the end. Apparently GALs don’t do nice things for their husbands because they love them. They do nice things to get nice things in return. They suggest offering a foot rub or a shoulder rub because that will help you get in the mood when the time comes. “Remember, it’s not just for your husband, it’s for you!” (222). They also suggest offering compliments to your husband because “When you compliment him, he will compliment you back.”

So to sum it up, to be a GAL, I have to remember that it’s about me, me, me, me, me! Great! Let’s get started!

OK, I think I’m done. I feel better now.


TLS said...

Yuck! That does seem like an awful book...I am surprised you made it all the way through.

I don't think that idea of spirituality is only a phenomenon of GALS or SAHMs. Look at so much of the megachurch theology (and preaching) that centers on felt needs and how to get ahead in life using God. Turn on Day Star and you'll see what I mean...God wants you to be rich and successful and have it all...that's what abundant life is...abundant material wealth!

Ruth said...

I can honestly say that it has been a long time since I've heard such a load of garbage. How on earth did you get through the book? I'm neither a SAHM or GAL, but I would have had to set that book on fire before I could finish it!

martha said...

No, no, you guys! Now it all makes perfect sense! They didn't write the book to help SAHMs at all! They wrote it to make money! It doesn't matter that it's a total load of crap...a thoughtful, helpful book was never the end goal.

They might as well just put a note in the front: "Thanks for buying our book. You don't really need to read it now, because the important part was You Gave Us Money."

Jennifer said...

"...have a strict daily regimen broken down into fifteen minute segments."

That’s all I need to know to know that this book is crap! :) I used to be Type A, now I’m Type Z. Not sure what happened. Anyway…

The book’s description of spirituality irks me. It’s a description of ritual, which is religion, not spiritualness. For me, true spirituality is simply living in connection with my spirit all day long, whether I’m in the shower or grocery shopping. Dedicating time and place to my spiritualnes cheapens it, like putting it in a box. Even when I was Type A I felt that way. But, of course, that’s just me.

Kat E said...

I just want to say that I don't think I could have gotten much further in the book after encountering the acronym "GAL". Blech.

laura said...

I think I will pass on rushing out tomorrow to purchase this book. :P

Break your day's schedule into 15 minute segments? Have these people every had an infant? A schedule was something I thought fondly about when I was home with Ty, much less one broken down into 15 minute segments. One blowout diaper and you're behind schedule all day.

I won't even get into my thoughts on the spirituality aspect, MB. I think you covered my thoughts excedingly well.

Ruth said...

It's good fun for me to re-visit this type of book here on your blog - I spent a decade of my life addicted to reading "self-help books"
- 'The Road Less Travelled',
- 'Further Along the Road Less Travelled',
-'Turn Left off the Road Less Travelled onto a Road so Untravelled, it's full of potholes and mudslides',
- 'Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway',
-'Feel Even More Fear and ....'

- you get the picture. There wasn't one I hadn't read and there wasn't one piece of advice on how to live a fulfilled life I couldn't spout at you! Some of it was helpful to me; most of it was't really, but I kept buying and reading it all.

When I had children, I decided not to read any more such books (except I gave in and read one book on sleep-training for babies and one on encouraging good behaviour in the over-twos).

I am sure that there is a need for support and guidance for SAHMs and a good book or two could probably address this - but not this one, hey!

Luci said...

Wow! I didn't get that vibe at all from reading the book. It didn't seem at all like it was trying to be a focus upon only me. It seemed to be more along the lines of how to simplify life. Obviously, true Christ centered spirituality is more than 15 minutes a day, but for someone who is completely overwhelmed 15 minutes sounds like something that is certainly manageable. SAHM's know that it is impossible to schedule every 15 minute increment in your day. But, if I got one thing done in my day in a couple of those 15 minutes, that is a good thing. Please don't judge these authors harshly. They are doing a good thing in that it helped me get more organized and focused. I have become a better mom for it and everyone in our household is much more peaceful. It didn't turn me into a selfish ogre only out to get something for me. It helped us to turn our family life into something great. Believe me, there is not much out there for the basic stay at home mom. There is more out there for the Christian mom. If that is what you need for reading material, go for it. You take what works for you out of what you read and no need to bash that which doesn't fit your own lifestyle. After all, I read the pregnancy book by Vicky Iovine and not much fit my pregnancy in that book. Does that mean I bash the author? No, it was a fun read, it just didn't fit my pregnancy. By the way, there is nothing wrong with wanting to sell books. They are authors. That is how they earn a living. I don't fault them for that. I am sorry that you felt so overwhelmingly upset over this book. I never felt that they were saying their way is the only way. I felt that they gave some suggestions from their own experiences. Same as the Vicky Iovine book. No, I do not have abundant wealth, but the book helped us to love each other abundantly.

Blanch said...

I would think that as someone who belongs to a community of people whose reputation has been tarnished over and over again by those who would seek financial gain in the name of stewardship would be a little less quick to judge someone else for the same thing. I would think that a spiritual leader would do a little more reaching out and educating, and a lot less carping about values and the right and wrong ways to be happy. I would think that someone whose job it is to serve as an example and source of compassion would temper her criticism with some constructive ideas. I would think.

But then again, I’m just one of those idiots who’s trying to get it all.

The MomsTown Guide authors have done nothing to me, except write a book that was a comfort when I needed it. I didn’t follow their advice to the letter; with self-help titles, I never do. They’ve done nothing to me except host a free Internet radio show and accept toll-free calls from people of all beliefs and lifestyles. They’ve done nothing to me except connect me with other women who give and receive genuine and unconditional support.

And they’ve done nothing to you, either. Except maybe give you an excuse to sound kind of bitter. Good luck with all that.

TLS said...

Yikes! Groupies can be a little harsh.

Whatever happened to the ability to simply disagree with the premise of someone else's argument? There are lots of books I have read that I have not liked and I have shared my negative opinion about them with others. What's wrong with that?

Disliking and bashing seem like two different things to me.

Jennifer said...

Uh.... Blanch? You would do well to spend some time actually getting to know Mary Beth before judging her character and her committment to serving God based on a single review of a book. My goodness people. Get a life.

Mary Beth said...

This has certainly turned interesting, hasn't it?