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Jon and Kate Plus 8 Minus God
Catholic Exchange ^ | June 27, 2009 | Patti Maguire Armstrong

Posted on 06/27/2009 5:57:13 AM PDT by NYer

I know this is going to sound crazy, but I’ve been trying to get in touch with Jon and Kate Gosselin from the Jon and Kate plus Eight program on TLC. I have never written so much as a fan letter to anyone although I have interviewed a few celebrities in my magazine writing days. This has absolutely nothing to do with fan mail or interviewing them. I have a strong desire to contact them and say: WAKE UP!

Background

I rarely watch television. My 13-year-old daughter liked this program because she loves babies and young children. The children are adorable and the episodes usually had some sort of fun or challenging activity going on while the parents interacted with each other and the kids. I found it only moderately interesting, but I sometimes joined my daughter to watch.

For those who may not watch any television or haven’t noticed all the front cover magazine stories on the way to the check out stands, let me update you.

Jon & Kate Plus 8 is a reality television show about Jon and Kate and their eight children: a pair of fraternal twins and sextuplets. The cameras are in their home and focus on the challenges of raising multiple children. The show is currently one of the highest rated programs on TLC and the fifth season premiere was seen by a record 9.8 million viewers, the most watched show of that evening including broadcast television, twice as many viewers as the show’s previous series high.

Jon and Kate’s different personalities were readily apparent. Yet, husbands and wives are often very different, thereby presenting the usual marital challenges. They seemed no different from many couples. There were seemingly minor squabbles but they would come together at the end of each show and talk about it all.

The show suddenly grabbed my interest when I heard things were falling apart in a big way. Reports of marriage infidelity and the two living very separate lives made headlines. On June 22, 2009, legal proceedings were initiated in Pennsylvania to dissolve the ten-year marriage of Jon and Kate. The episode announcing their separation became the most watched episode of the series, with 10.6 million viewers.

The Way of the World

The reason for my newfound interest in Jon and Kate is from my Catholic perspective as an author of a book on saved marriages and also as a wife and mother. Mark and I have had our own ups and downs. We know the stress of raising a large brood. But we also have grown together in our faith in God and faithfulness to the teachings of the Catholic Church. If the odds makers had taken bets on our marriage, they might have given us ten to one odds in favor of us splitting up. And the “one” would have been thought possible due to the children and Catholic teaching against divorce. There was a time when that was the glue that kept us together. But let me tell you, although those are two good reasons, to live an authentic Catholic life, you need more. You need love. And the only true love is the love that comes from God. Only then is there love enough to spread throughout the family and weather the storms. It is the love that never ends. You don’t get it from your spouse, you get it from God. You become filled with that love and then it spreads from there.

Mark and I have not always been the poster children of happy couples, but by golly, though hell and high water, our marriage is stronger than ever now. Our secret? Prayer and filling ourselves up with God’s love. This is something we’ve chosen to do. It did not just happen. I once heard Fr. Corapi state, “Remember, love is not a feeling it is a choice.” Since love comes from God, it means asking for it and wanting it above all else.

Recently, when I expressed regret to my oldest son, Aaron, that Mark and I used to argue in front of the kids, Aaron remarked that even if he and his siblings got mad at each other over something, within minutes, they were always talking and friends again. No one holds grudges in our family. That made me realize that in the midst of our bad example we had also provided a good example. You see, we had no money to take off on separate vacations or set up separate residences. Instead, for good or for bad, we were stuck with each other. Given that we were both striving to be good Catholics, the response to our marital discord was to turn to God and ask for the love we needed. Even if I was furious with Mark, I knew neither of us was going anywhere so the only thing to do was apologize to God and spouse for any bad behavior on my part and ask for the love we needed to go on.

Just the other day, I went to a talk given by Fr. Tom Richter who spoke on the love of God. He stated that Jesus filled Himself up with the love of the Father. Nothing stood in the way of this for there is nothing of greater value.

Fr. Tom made a powerful point when he said that when he ministers to men in prison, he tells them that the most valuable thing they can have in this world, they can have in prison—to fill themselves up with God. So many people that live supposedly free lives deny themselves this most important thing. Jobs, money, prestige and social life are all things that people often seek at the exclusion of God. Even though we know mentally that God should be our all and be at the center of our existence, we push Him out in favor of lesser things. To fill ourselves with the love of God is to be complete and to be in union with the greatest good. But people often instead choose worldly things that will rust and corrode, leaving little or no room for God.

What does any of this have to do with Jon and Kate? Everything. I’ve watched as they’ve made more and more money. Re-runs attest that their home and lives, although complicated by a large family was once simple in other ways. There was not a lot of money or luxuries. The couple was a team. As Kate went to have her tummy tuck, (a charitable donation by a plastic surgeon) the couple hugged and kissed before Kate went into surgery. Jon valued his wife and expressed that he could not imagine trying to raise their children without her. She, in turn, expressed her love for Jon.

High ratings turned this show into a regular weekly program. Before the eyes of many, Jon and Kate began to live the American dream. Nicer clothes, vacations, a bigger home and all the luxuries money could buy slipped into their lives. Yes, the two personalities sometimes clashed and having a camera in their home must have created stress, but something much uglier began to happen: money corrupted this family. Jon and Kate can both buy whatever they want and go wherever they want now, with or without the kids. This, they do.

All the while, Jon and Kate continually look straight into the cameras and say, “The children come first. I’ll do anything for my children.” Anything? How about Retrouvaille, a serious marriage program to work on saving their family? How about marriage counseling? How about turning the cameras off and walking away from the money and publicity? The money and all that the show has given them is supposedly for the children according to Jon and Kate. The house belongs to the children so Jon and Kate will take turns living in it during their time of custody.

But what do the children want? There’s no abuse forcing one to flee this relationship. The example they are setting is horrible. Jon and Kate cut each other loose so quickly, without any indication that counseling and/or God had been brought into the problem.

God Centered

My other daughter, Mary, likes to watch another reality T.V. show, Eighteen Kids and Counting. This is about the Duggar family, which consists of parents Jim Bob and Michelle and their 18 children. This family has a camera in their home too. But the lifestyles are very different. The biggest difference is that God is continually brought into the center of things. They family still maintains a relatively simple lifestyle and it would appear at least from what the camera captures, the love of God is at the heart of this family and the material world of fame and fortune does not infringe on that. One reality T.V. family is still thriving, the other falling apart. One family is centered on God, the other seemingly not.

So, on the surface, it appears that the Gosselins have attained everything but on a spiritual level, they have nothing. The family is splitting apart before ten million viewers. It’s the American way and there lies the tragedy. This couple and so many in our society are blind to the fact that without God in the center, things eventually spin out of control.

Filling oneself up with God—not money—is the way to love and happiness. Studies have shown that big-time lottery winners typically become less happy than before their win. Have you ever met a person filled with the love of God that was unhappy? Do you know of people with lots of money who are unhappy?

Volumes of research in recent decades have shown that more money produces virtually no increase in life satisfaction. Instead, the studies indicate that dramatic increases in one’s wealth creates only short-term happiness that lasts until people get used to their newfound status.

The Journal of Science reported in June of 2006, “The belief that high income is associated with good mood is widespread but mostly illusory.” One study concluded, “People with above-average income… are barely happier than others in moment-to-moment experience, tend to be more tense, and do not spend more time in particularly enjoyable activities.”

It is true that even poor people divorce. But a God-centered couple does not. Even if their personalities are very different, it’s all about love. We all know couples that are as different as night and day and yet they have love. And just as the Beatles once sang, “Money can’t buy me love.” No, God’s love is not for sale. He gives it freely but we need to desire it — above all else.

The Gosselins are not really living the American dream; they are living the American tragedy. I know some will tell me not to be so simplistic, that their troubles are about more than money. I would agree. My contention is that the troubles are actually about only one thing — God, or rather the lack thereof. God centered marriages might still have their struggles but they don’t fall apart.


TOPICS: Catholic; Current Events; Moral Issues; Religion & Culture
KEYWORDS:
Patti Maguire Armstrong is the mother of ten children including two Kenyan AIDS orphans. She is a speaker and the author of Catholic Truths for Our Children: A Parent's Guide (Scepter). She is also the managing editor and co-author of Ascension Press's Amazing Grace book series. Her website is RaisingCatholicKids.com.
1 posted on 06/27/2009 5:57:14 AM PDT by NYer
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To: Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; nickcarraway; Romulus; ...
money corrupted this family. Jon and Kate can both buy whatever they want and go wherever they want now, with or without the kids. This, they do.

Mark 8:36 immediately comes to mind.

I used to watch this program, back when the two struggled against financial odds to raise their children. Once the money began rolling in, it was all downhill. The great deception has always been that money resolves all of our problems. In fact, it creates worse ones. John and Kate are just one more example.

2 posted on 06/27/2009 6:00:18 AM PDT by NYer ("Run from places of sin as from a plague." - St. John Climacus)
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To: NYer

We just spent 3 weeks touring China,Tibet and Hong Kong.
There were 1.2 billion Chinese and 2 of us,who didn’t give a fudge about Jon and Kate!


3 posted on 06/27/2009 6:03:17 AM PDT by Dr. Ursus
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To: NYer

Is this the couple the tabloids were screaming about? The magazines use first names so I have no idea who they were writing about.


4 posted on 06/27/2009 6:14:32 AM PDT by Shooter 2.5 (NRA /Patron - TSRA- IDPA)
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To: Shooter 2.5

Yes .... these are the tabloid John and Kate. Sadly, there was a time when they appeared mostly on Good Housekeeping.


5 posted on 06/27/2009 6:19:52 AM PDT by NYer ("Run from places of sin as from a plague." - St. John Climacus)
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To: NYer

Thanks. Now I know I can ignore the magazines. I thought it was about someone I needed to know.


6 posted on 06/27/2009 6:24:01 AM PDT by Shooter 2.5 (NRA /Patron - TSRA- IDPA)
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To: NYer
Never watched the show, refuse to watch the show, even. Here's why:
gos⋅sip  /ˈgɒsəp/ [gos-uhp]
noun, verb, -siped or -sipped, -sip⋅ing or -sip⋅ping.

–noun 1. idle talk or rumor, esp. about the personal or private affairs of others: the endless gossip about Hollywood stars.
I just can't seem to find any way to get around that.
7 posted on 06/27/2009 6:27:34 AM PDT by raynearhood ("Naysayers for Jesus" - Charter Member)
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To: NYer
I just drove past my local Gardener White furniture store where they are interviewing today for some stupid reality show called "The Biggest Loser" I think.. Its about self absorbed FAT people who want their 15 minutes of fame by subjecting themselves to humiliation in their effort to see who can lost the most FAT during the taping of the seriesl.

You should have seen the line of FAT people outside the store...........

Once they get their local fame, I can hear the questions now: "...hey, weren't you one of those FAT people on that show last year? If I recall, you lost out early in the show didn't you? And if I didn't know better I would say it looks like you even put on a few more pounds......."

What people will do to get their faces on TV.....

8 posted on 06/27/2009 6:40:30 AM PDT by Hot Tabasco (This country isn't going to hell in a handbasket, it's riding shotgun in an Indy car....)
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To: NYer
So sad, never watched the show. This is why one of the commandments is to not covet what your neighbor has. God has warned us that even just coveting is a sin and should be confessed immediately. It is like a gateway drug/sin that leads to other larger, worse, more addictive sins.

IF - IF we confess our sin - He is faithful to forgive and cleanse us...

Constant battle between the flesh and the spirit, waging war. Have to make intentional choice/decision to feed the spirit instead of the flesh.

9 posted on 06/27/2009 7:04:12 AM PDT by Esther Ruth
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To: NYer
The purple prose and torrents of words continue apace about the fractured marriage of Jon and Kate. Every detail, every facet, every statement is parsed and analyzed, questioned and agonized over.

Reality is that no matter what circumstances divided the union, the egg shell is smashed and can't and won't be put back together again. A settlement will be worked out, the kids will stay with Kate, Jon will have ample visitation rights, the TV program will continue with a new slant, "Single Mom Copes with Raising Eight Kids"........Jon, who vants to be alone like Garbo, will fade from view until he's broke and needs to be in an episode or two, and the children will NOT necessarily grow up to be drug addicts, criminals, mass murderers, fallen women or suicide cases because their parents split or because they're in show biz.

I've watched the show occasionally when I get sick of seeing Obama's mug all over the tube. It's mildly entertaining and sometimes fun. Contrary to general belief, the camera is NOT on the kids 24/7. It's turned on a limited amount of hours on week days only.

In our grandparents' days, audiences watched Eddie Foy and the Seven Little Foys.....the seven literally being born on stage and who worked the harsh vaudville circuit 25/8 long before there were child labor laws. I believe they all survived being performers and I don't remember reading they were marked for life as a result.

The Gosselin's marital status is really none of our concern....and no one is forcing anyone to watch the show. There's plenty of kith and kin and social service types who will make sure the kids are healthy and happy......and that's what matters in the long run.

Leni

10 posted on 06/27/2009 7:57:09 AM PDT by MinuteGal (Please Don't Tell Obama What Comes After a Trillion!)
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To: NYer

Everytime either one of the them said, “the children come first”, I said, “Then get your act together and be the parents that they need!”

My husband and I got married when we were 17, it was tough, we weren’t Catholic but I took my vows seriously. After the first 13 rocky years, which were extremely bad and extremely good, we finally lost the extreme and settled down to good and bad days.

People aren’t willing to work through the hard parts, they just want to give up.

I don’t know if this is true but I read on a blog once that when Kate had the sextuplets, her father’s church pitched in and made sure she had all the stuff she needed for the kids but it was all used and Kate threw a fit because she wanted all new stuff. While I thought that was immature and selfish and rude, I thought the reaction of her supposed pastor father beyond unkind, he basically disowned her and removed himself from the lives of the twins which he had helped to babysit and never got to know the 6.

I just thought that if that was true, it was very sad and really gives an insight into who Kate is, instead of fixing their relationship, it was just written off. I have 4 grandchildren and I have bent over backwards to maintain a relationship with their parents so that I get to be a part of their lives.

Everyone just wants their own way and no one is willing to give an inch to truly do what is good for the children.


11 posted on 06/27/2009 8:01:11 AM PDT by tiki (True Christians will not deliberately slander or misrepresent others or their beliefs)
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To: NYer

I would have to agree with you - I used to watch the show in the beginning as they struggled financially and worked together to take care of their children. I think the Maui adventure - renewing their vows - is when I woke up to how they transformed the show into one big commercial and used their children to get their trips and things for free. What really bothered me even more is the fact that Kate expected the “village” to help raise her children that she decided to have. So, for me - Jon and Kate have worn out their welcome in my home over a year ago. I catch snippets here and there, but I don’t stay very long because I see the greedy side of both parents now - Jon wanting to relive his “stolen” youth and Kate wanted to be the “diva” of mothers. I would rather watch the little people (Roloff’s), the Hayes Family and the Duggars - at least they haven’t been corrupted by greed and sense of entitlement.


12 posted on 06/27/2009 11:08:02 AM PDT by qwicwted
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To: NYer

Only watched Jon and Kate a few times, they both seemed very self-centered to me. Love the Duggar family, the mother on this show is the role model for self-sacrifice. The difference between the two parenting styles is truly evident, self-centered vs. God-centerd.


13 posted on 06/27/2009 11:58:29 AM PDT by Gerish (Feed your faith and your doubts will starve to death.)
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To: All

Fame..few can deal with it. Pride soon follows. I see parents pushing their kids to be the best at everything. The goal to become “famous”. I throw in the comment...how many famous people do you see truely happy or look like ship wrecks in the making. Fame comes with a great responsibility. Mother Teresa was probably one of the most famous woman who ever lived.....and she did not even try.


14 posted on 06/27/2009 2:37:08 PM PDT by prayerfullywaiting
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To: prayerfullywaiting
I throw in the comment...how many famous people do you see truely happy or look like ship wrecks in the making.

One need only look towards Hollyweird for the response.

15 posted on 06/27/2009 3:28:06 PM PDT by NYer ("Run from places of sin as from a plague." - St. John Climacus)
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To: NYer

She’s right. One thing I’ve noticed is that all they talk about is the children and how they have to make the children happy. Don’t they realize that the children will be happy if THEY are? What’s wrong with those two? They never seem to care what the other person is feeling. It’s all me, me, me and the children. God certainly isn’t present in their TV show. Jon was busy screwing his girlfriends and didn’t pay too much attention to what his wife was doing. I hate this. They are self centered little snobs. I fear for their children.


16 posted on 06/27/2009 6:24:08 PM PDT by Marysecretary (GOD IS STILL IN CONTROL!)
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To: tiki

Amen, tiki.


17 posted on 06/27/2009 6:26:59 PM PDT by Marysecretary (GOD IS STILL IN CONTROL!)
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To: NYer

I hope she does get in touch with them. I was thinking the same thing, just writing to them. It seems they have both lost their way, become enamored with the money. I really hope they can work it out without divorcing, but it doesn’t look good right now. Kate especially seems freaked out about finances, though they now are wealthier in financial terms than ever, and the unhappiness is clear on all their faces.


18 posted on 06/27/2009 8:21:42 PM PDT by fortunecookie (Please pray for Anna, age 7, who waits for a new kidney.)
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To: tiki
I don’t know if this is true but I read on a blog once that when Kate had the sextuplets, her father’s church pitched in and made sure she had all the stuff she needed for the kids but it was all used and Kate threw a fit because she wanted all new stuff. While I thought that was immature and selfish and rude, I thought the reaction of her supposed pastor father beyond unkind, he basically disowned her and removed himself from the lives of the twins which he had helped to babysit and never got to know the 6.

I had read this, too. And it doesn't help that since the show started airing, Kate has often admitted she is a control freak. Her need to control is alienating everyone around her (I'm not excusing Pastor/dad's disowning, I agree with you, clearly a negative influence on her). It doesn't help that it was decided that Jon quit his job (so she could tour and they could keep filming) further increasing her control and alienation and emasculating him. It's also no secret that he didn't want to continue with the show after the first 2 or so years, after they got out of those early baby years and became more financially stable.

It's sad to see them unravel on TV, presumably for our 'entertainment' while the show shamelessly just keeps pushing them at us, knowing it's tearing them apart.

19 posted on 06/27/2009 8:27:50 PM PDT by fortunecookie (Please pray for Anna, age 7, who waits for a new kidney.)
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To: NYer
Have you ever met a person filled with the love of God that was unhappy? Do you know of people with lots of money who are unhappy?

Yup.

Good essay.

20 posted on 06/28/2009 4:55:19 AM PDT by Aquinasfan (When you find "Sola Scriptura" in the Bible, let me know)
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To: tiki
Everyone just wants their own way and no one is willing to give an inch to truly do what is good for the children.

It's the "me society." When we moved into our new neighborhood about 12 years ago, we looked down the street at the happy couples, and said to each other, "ten years from now, a third of these couples will be divorced." And here we are. It's very sad and unnecessary. No one seems to be putting the children first.

21 posted on 06/28/2009 5:01:24 AM PDT by Aquinasfan (When you find "Sola Scriptura" in the Bible, let me know)
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