I am currently reading Barchester Towers, the Anthony Trollope novel first published in 1857. I'm reading the Penguin Books edition and I was happily getting into the story and learning the myriad characters when I hit page 51 of the book. There I met "Mr Quiverful, the rector of Puddingdale, whose wife still continued to present him from year to year with fresh pledges of her love, and so to increase his cares and, it is to be hoped, his happiness equally. Who can wonder that a gentleman, with fourteen living children and a bare income of 400L. a year, should look after the loaves and fishes..."
Quiverful? Quiver ful???
As in Quiver Full? Haven't I seen that in those screaming headlines recently? Oh, indeed I have!
Yep, that's the philosophy espoused by the odious Duggars - they of the 19 children and counting.
I have always managed to avoid these people or even any knowledge of them, other than the fact that they exist somewhere in the realm of reality television, like those notorious housewives and "Honey Boo Boo" and all those survivalists in Alaska. Reality television is a realm I choose not to visit. I prefer my television fictionalized.
But with the latest revelations about what the reality of their lives actually entails, it has been impossible to avoid them over the past week to ten days. Their faces have been everywhere I looked and their noxious family story has been in the air that I have to breathe, along with rationalizations of the whole Quiver Full thing.
I wondered at first if the originators of this idea had taken their name from Trollope, but apparently they got it all from the only text allowed on their reading shelf, the Bible. Specifically, from Psalms. Here's the translation from the New International Version of the Bible.
New International Version
Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate. Psalm 127:3-5 (NIV)
So the message to the true believers is, "Practice no birth control. Procreate freely. Trust God to decide how many children to give you."
Never mind if it wrecks the mother's health and keeps her pregnant for fifteen years of her life. After all, wives don't matter in this philosophy (neither do daughters, apparently) and if one woman can't keep up the pace, there's always another one out there willing to take on the task.
Never mind if you don't have any way of supporting all those kids. Maybe someone will come along and offer you your own reality T.V. show and make you wealthy.
But enough of this! Back to Trollope.
At least the Mr. Quiverful of Puddingdale had more dignity and honor than ever to have participated in reality television if such had existed in the nineteenth century.