50 Shades of Grey Meets 19 Kids & Counting

I read the other day in Crain’s Detroit Business that Meijer has made an executive decision to not carry the 50 Shades of Grey series of books in all of its stores throughout Michigan. The reason? The company spokesman stated that the reading material they carry focuses on their core shopper audience, which is “families.”

Right. Because no one in a family could be interested in sex and relationships.

I continue to be fascinated by the conversations and *fears* swirling around this 50 Shades¬†hoopla. The thing is, the people screaming the loudest, those most outraged by this “romance novel,” as the Meijer folks put it, are usually the ones who’ve never cracked the cover. All they know is what they hear – raunchy sex, S&M, stuff out of the ordinary.

But yes, how many suburban family folks are reading this? Millions. And their sex lives are transformed for it. As are their relationships.

I also continue to be fascinated by 19 Kids & Counting. Obsessed is more accurate. I’ve watched this TLC reality show for a couple of years now and I don’t know why I am so charmed by this super-large devout Christian family.

Although I always wanted 5 children, I have my hands full with 4. It’s a lot to juggle, family life, career, and time for myself too. It’s something we all struggle with because we were raised to believe we could have it all.

I spent a decade of my life as an Orthodox Jew and I eventually decided to leave that community because I didn’t feel it uplifted me any more than I could do on my own. But what drew me to the religious lifestyle was what I perceived as purity in relationships, emphasis on modesty, and a sense of connection and purpose so far beyond the superficial.

What I learned was that people are people and as well as any person tries to follow a moral code he/she sets out, we are all still human. And so I set about defining my own moral code and finding spirituality and meaning and inspiration from a variety of sources for a far richer, uplifting life today.

Still. There is something sweetly old-fashioned about the Duggars and about a decision like the one Meijer made to ban books that frighten them. It is a warm cloak to surround oneself with parameters and limits. To say, “I just can’t handle that.” To define your role in life as just mother and wife – and nothing more.

Now anyone who knows me knows that is NOT me at all. I love being a mother. But I also love my career. I flirted with the idea of homeschooling only to realize I really thrive when I go to work and fear I might not – and thus my children might not – were I to be with them 24/7.

However, I *would* like a simpler life. I would like an easily defined role, an easily attainable goal, a very clear path to walk and purpose to shine a light over everything I do. For me, it can’t be the Lord. But it can be higher meaning, purpose.

Isn’t that the same thing? And really, while we’re at it, don’t be so horrified that I’ve combined an erotic series of novels with a chaste pro-family TV show. The truth is that they are the same – in the books, Ana and Christian simply want to be loved and accepted. They are lost, seeking soul connection, seeking comfort and protection.

What 19 Kids represents for me is the possibility of simplicity, the beauty of love in an appropriate setting. And 50 Shades is the same thing. Mutual consent, agreement, passion and love within a relationship that has defined boundaries.

Only the definitions are different.

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