Birth Again

First, nobody is afraid to talk about birth.

The fact that some folks just don’t want to look at Nicole’s hoo-ha and a turd coming out of her rectum is not an indication of fear.  I don’t want to see her have a bowel movement, either, and that’s a natural process.  Nor do I want to witness her menstrual period in living color.

Shall we have a public conversation about peeing?  Let’s all take close up photos of the process and put them on Facebook.

I have seen more births than Nicole has. (She has actually seen none at all, since you can’t really see very much if you happen to own the vagina where it’s happening.)  It’s a fascinating process, whether it’s human or bovine, but so are sex and digestion and brain surgery.

Not wanting to talk about it endlessly and view fifty million photos of the process doesn’t denote fear. It might just be due to boredom.

She’s going to ride this, though, because it’s her only claim to fame.  It’s her accomplishment.

But her foray into statistical analysis is even more fascinating.

Her math is all wrong.  Math is hard.

Did you get that?  Leaving out fetal deaths prior to twenty weeks gestation (what we call miscarriages, and the medical world refers to as spontaneous abortion), the fetal death rate is about 6 per 1000 pregnancies.

That’s a whopping 0.6%.  Not even 1%.

If you take Nicole’s data, leaving out the miscarriages (if they were in fact less than 20 weeks gestation, something we do not know for sure), she has had one fetal death in 12 pregnancies.  That is a fetal death rate of 8.3%.  That’s almost 14 times greater than the statistical data suggests.

Her attitude is so god damned cavalier. It’s as though that dead baby was disposable.  Oh, gee, you win most of the time, but occasionally you lose one. Oh well. . .

But really, that baby’s death was not an out-of-the-blue, unpredictable event.  It was as easy to see coming as a hurricane on the Gulf coast.

Click image to link to source

The perinatal mortality rate in the grand multipara group was 23.5%; there were no perinatal deaths among controls.

You see, this is the situation.

In the first statistic I cited, a fetal death rate of 0.6%, they are taking all pregnancies past twenty weeks into the database.  All of them. First pregnancies, 4th pregnancies, 6th pregnancies, 12th pregnancies.  They’re compiling the data as though all these pregnancies are created equal.

And they aren’t, of course.

The truth is that a woman’s reproductive organs age.  Time will do them in (I still have all mine and I’m quite sure they are shriveled up and horrible looking).  Live long enough and they will completely quit functioning.

Not only does time do them in, use does as well.  The more pregnancies you have had, the higher the risk to the fetus.

Let me say that again.

Every time you get pregnant, you are faced with a bit of an increase in risk to the fetus.  In those early years, especially if you’re not 35 when you have your first pregnancy, the risk is so slight as to be statistically meaningless.

But it begins to snowball, and by the time you’re a grand multip, the risk of fetal death is 23.5%, or at least, it was in that study.  I’ve seen studies with lower figures, but the risk of fetal death among grand multips is still quite a bit higher than the risk for earlier pregnancies.

Nicole Naugler is not a grand multip.  That’s a woman who has had five pregnancies prior to the current one. That ship sailed for Nicole long ago.

She is a great grand multip.

Yippee.  She’s “great” at something.

The fetal death risk for a great grand multip, by the most conservative data I could find, is four times greater than for women having their 1-5 pregnancy.

The risk gets greater as the pregnancies happen.  It’s a snowball effect.

I wrote about this before. More than once.  People warned her.  Even her humpers expressed concern. Right up until the last minute, people were telling her she needed to see a doctor.

And I will say it again. Nicole Naugler took a massive gamble by having that 15th pregnancy.  She gambled and lost. She could have suffered the ultimate loss and died.

If she tries it again, she’s suicidal. If Joe Naugler gets her pregnant knowingly (and with Nicole, that means if he has unprotected sex with her even once), he’s trying to kill her.



Nicole says she’s afraid. She’s so scared that they need to move “ASAP.”  It’s awful. She’s being stalked, and harassed, and everything.

Hell, a neighbor even stopped on the road, got out of his truck and took something out of his pocket.


So, when you’re so frightened of people who take things out of their pocket that you need to move, what’s the most credible, reasonable thing to do?


Why, post photos of your son and his girlfriend posing with their ultrasound, of course.

NOTE:  The two people in this photograph are no longer children. Jacob Naugler turned 18 today.


Faith Raymer has been quite willing to share information about her relationship with Jacob very publicly (which is why I reported the situation in the first place – I did not breach any confidentiality or anyone’s privacy in doing so).

And I probably would have simply let Jacob’s birthday pass by without notice had it not been for the comment about the neighbor.  That came from Jacob. Faith was quite likely with him.  If Jacob wants to play in the sandbox, we’ll give him space.

Gotta Move ASAP

They gotta move. Gotta do it quick. ASAP.  They are in fear.

Seriously, this is utter bullshit.

It’s followed by the predictable comments:  “We are praying for your lovely family.”  “This is terrible.”  “Why do such awful people keep doing all these awful things to you?”

But you see, Nicole just says “the level of attack continues to escalate.”


The sentence carries with it the idea that the “attacks” have been ongoing, and constantly getting worse.

She offers no examples or proof of anything at all. The one real biggy she tried to foist off on people was the Blessed Little Excursion.

Nothing happened that night, except that Joe drank a beer while standing in the road, impeding traffic.  But that’s supposedly an “attack.”

For the record, I was in Breckinridge County on Monday, for much of the day.  I was at Al Wilson’s house.  He and I and Dave and Al’s wife cut up a huge hog and two large lambs. Four people, working as hard as we could go. Then we had dinner and some nice conversation.

Dave and I left before dark, mostly because we had to get home to milk Frances.

The subject of the Naugler family barely was mentioned. Nobody went to their nearby property and “attacked” them.

The comments also included the usual “why don’t you call the police” and the usual “we do and the police won’t do anything.”

Someone suggests guard dogs, not understanding that the Nauglers go through dogs the way my cow goes through hay.


So the issue here is the land.  It’s not the business. They don’t want to move out of the area, just off the land to some other land, because they are in danger.

Her brain-dead followers just go ape shit without knowing the first thing.

I asked Al to explain to me what “have your 6” means.  He said that it’s an aviation term, referring to the 6:00 position on a clock-face. This is the place where the pilot can’t see, so if you “have his 6” you’re telling him that you’re watching his back.

But then somebody asks an obvious question: “Do you think these people will follow you?”

She has no idea who “these people” might be, but it would seem that if somebody is threatening you to the point that you think you have to flee, questioning whether the would-be assailant would follow is a reasonable thing to ask.


Nicole totally ignores the “will they follow you” stuff until somebody brings up social media. Then she makes it clear that no way is she leaving social media.

Let’s understand this.

She is so afraid of these nameless “attackers” that she is willing to move. They have a land contract. Leaving would mean that they would simply forfeit every payment they have made. They would have to pay somebody to haul their two garden sheds to a new location and set them up.  She is terrified, and has to do this “ASAP” because the level of these “attacks” is “escalating.”

Yet she makes it clear that she’s going to go right on posting anything and everything about her entire family, her children’s names, faces, detailed information about their likes and dislikes, information about everything you can think of, including Joe posting shit about sex.  And she’s fully aware that this means that the supposed “attackers” will simply “follow,” but they will do their best.

Will do their best to what?

In Syria, there are now and have been people fleeing for their lives from Aleppo. This is not a joke. It’s a massacre and has been happening for several years.  The level of attacks is truly and for real escalating.  And some of those folks have been on social media documenting the events. But do you suppose for a single second that if they could escape, and if they thought that the Syrian army would follow them and subject them to the same horror they currently are living through, that they would just continue to post on social media?

It’s this comment, this one comment, that tells me that nothing at all has happened, that this is Nicole making shit up about “attackers.”  I have  a couple of personal theories about why she does this, but it has nothing to do with “attackers.”


And here’s the second one. If you are in fear, you simply get rid of the animals. Obviously, she isn’t going to ditch the kids, but nobody is forcing her to take a horse she can’t even afford to feed.



Jenna, you dumbass, she already “dropped” a whole pile of names. She’s done it repeatedly. She “dropped” my address as well, and invited people to visit. Nobody took her up on it.

But notice how quick Jenna is to call unknown people “trash” and then follow it up with “prayers”?  Fuck you, Jenna, and your “prayers.”


Beth, I hate to be the one to break it to you, but Nicole is not “far from stupid.”  She is actually quite close to it.  In fact, I think she sleeps with it every night.

But now we’re getting someplace.  It’s the “direct neighbors” that she is talking about. The evil, dangerous “direct neighbors.”


Beth says, “We all know the lengths these people will go to.”

We do?  What lengths?  Exactly what?  Riding down the fucking road?  Making some commentary on the internet?  Reporting them for dumping shit on the ground?  Reporting them because they allowed their livestock to run loose all over the damned place and refused to contain them even after they’d been asked to do so?

Oh, yeah, I forgot. “Vehicular assault.”  The assault that didn’t happen.

Do the Naugler neighbors want the Nauglers to move?

I haven’t really interviewed all of them to ask that question, but my guess is yes, they do.  I know I would if I were them. As far as I can tell, every single person who has ever lived in arm’s reach of the Nauglers was glad to see them move.   That doesn’t translate into wishing the Nauglers harm, or doing anything to “attack” them.  It just means that the Nauglers are not well-liked.

I cannot imagine why that is.


And what would that be, Michelle? All they have worked for?  They have done almost nothing. There are no permanent structures on that property.  There have been zero improvements made to the land.  In fact, they have polluted the land with human waste.


I don’t even believe this for a second.


good shot

She was referring there to her youngest daughter.


And here we finally get the “escalation” event.

Somebody stopped in front of their property, got out of his truck and pulled “something” from his pocket.

His phone?  A candy bar?  A hand grenade? A love letter?

Who the hell knows?

This, though, is threatening and an attempt to “set us up.”  Remember, this is a woman who turned a small fender-bender (that didn’t even bend the fender) into “vehicular assault.”  If I’d been the person in the truck, I’d have gotten in my vehicle and left immediately as well.

Nicole then further attempts to prove that the “level of attacks” is “escalating” by posting a screen shot of a status from one of the critic sites, the Great and Stupid Show or whatever it’s called.

That was a public status.

Nicole calls it a “kryptic message.”  [Nicole, the word is “cryptic.”  #unschooling ]  She’s trying to make it appear like a private message, but it was completely public.


This whole thing is ridiculous.  Nicole knows it’s ridiculous. Nobody has threatened them, ever.  They don’t get along well with their neighbors, but that’s not new. They have never gotten along well with any neighbors.

This is not about neighbors or threats or fear.

This is more than likely about not paying the land payment and facing eviction.

Or it’s about it’s damned cold today and will be again tonight and that garden shed is miserable and maybe they are living in the salon and want to have “documented” an excuse for that.

Frankly, I think their neighbors have been more patient than they should have been.  If the Nauglers lived next-door to me, I would have security cameras posted all along the property line, along with a stout fence. I would be recording 24/7.  And I would have shot the goats (and I don’t even own a gun, so I would have had to borrow one.)  I’d have a lawyer on speed-dial.






IP Addresses


Okay.  Now it’s time for the page about IP addresses that I promised.

Rumor Mill Chickenshit Fake Person has determined something that I already posted about quite clearly. I could have saved him/her a lot of work.


In the page on the love letters, I talk about IP addresses and proxies no less than three times.

The love letters, along with the messages from “Jonathan Blakely,” were all sent via proxies.  Thanks, Rumor Mill Chicketshit Fake Person, for that information that we already knew and had fully acknowledged.

So let’s talk about IP addresses for a minute.

My name is Sally Davis. When somebody sends me snail mail, they send it to Sally Davis, “address”, “city,” “state,” “zip code.” All those pieces of information are designed to help the postman deliver the letter to the right house, and after it’s delivered, to allow the people living in that house to give it to the right person.

That’s all an IP address is.

It’s a series of numbers like this:

It gets really technical, but those numbers are sort of like the “address-city-state-zipcode” stuff we’re all familiar with.

And each computer or computer network has a unique IP address. So, when I sit at my computer or computing device, and punch in a URL, the computer sends a signal that I want to download the code that will generate the website in my browser.  The IP address tells the hosting site where to send the code (data).

If the request came from my IP, then the data is returned to my IP.

So what can we know about an IP address or what can we find out if we know it?

Well, not a whole lot.  Not nearly as much as people like Rumor Mill Chickenshit Fake Person wants people to think.

Here’s an IP address.  (Mine, actually. I blocked out the actual numbers because my husband, again, asked me to do so.) If I take my IP address to an IP address locator website (Google the term, you’ll get dozens of them), and punch it in, I get this:

IP example


And that’s just from one IP locator site.

There are dozens of them. And you’ll get slightly different results from different locator sites. This one is saying that my ISP is Time Warner Cable (it’s not) and that I am in Monroe, Ohio (I am not).  Not even close.

When we were on satellite internet, our IP address had us located in Denver, Colorado.

Why is it so wrong?

Well, it’s wrong because of the way we get internet access.  Our provider buys bandwidth (or some other technical stuff that I barely understand) from a company in a nearby town, and they buy it from, I guess, Time Warner Cable out of Ohio.  Or something like that.

Anyway, good luck using my IP address to try to locate me.

Sometimes IP addresses are a lot more accurate, pinning the location of the computer or device being used down to a particular narrow area, a city or maybe a couple of smaller towns, but they will not take you to a house at 352 Ivy Lane.

Let’s take the example I gave above.

That’s one of the IP addresses “Jonathan Blakely” used.

IP locator

Now what in the hell is this?

It’s a proxy.  Here’s how it works.

You go find a proxy server (Google the term, you’ll find dozens of them).  Go to the website of the proxy server.  Punch in the URL of the site you want to visit/view, and you’ll be taken there.

Remember the address thing?  You put in the URL of the website you want to visit and the website host then sends the data back to your IP address and into your computer so you can look at it.

Well, every single website that I know anything about on the face of the planet records that shit.  All my websites (I manage 6) automatically track and record IP addresses and length of visit, and how many pages the visitor viewed, and how long they stayed, and all sorts of other stuff—and I didn’t have to set any of that up. It came that way when I bought the hosting service (a hosting service is where you store a website so that the public can see it—it’s a monthly or yearly rental thing).

Anyone with a website can view their stats anytime they like.

It’s not about poking into other people’s business.  It’s about marketing.  It’s about knowing which page on your website is getting the most attention, so maybe you ought to imitate that layout. Or how popular is this sale I’m having, and are my actual sales mirroring the amount of traffic, or is there a problem and I need to fix it?

Or how popular is Nathan’s music in, say, Sweden and should we actively try to promote him there? (Answer: pretty popular, more than I would have thought)

But back to proxies.

Suppose, for some reason—you’re Rumor Mill Chickenshit Fake Person and you want to comment on the blog and taunt me and you don’t want me to know who you are because you’re embarrassed about your own opinions and ideas—you want to hide your IP address from my nasty prying eyes, you can.

Going through the proxy works like this.  Your computer sends the request for the data to generate the website you wish to visit (the URL) to the proxy computer. The proxy computer then sends a request to the website. The website responds by sending the data back to the proxy server, and then the proxy server sends the data to your computer.

The website (this blog, for example) only gets the IP address of the proxy, not yours.

Sounds great, if you’re Rumor Mill Chickenshit Fake Person and scared to be yourself, but it has drawbacks. In some cases, images don’t come through correctly.  Sometimes links don’t work. And it is lots slower.  That’s understandable because the data has to travel all over hell and half of Georgia to get to you.

So, what is all this hoopla about IP addresses, and OMG, Sally tracks them and be afraid, be very afraid?

It’s a oft-used tactic to try to get people to stop commenting.  The average person doesn’t know what the damn things are in the first place and hears “IP address” and is just sure they’re in trouble or something.

And then you get some stupid comment like this:


You can see how silly this is.  It’s clearly and demonstrably wrong. And exactly how would Love Letter Writer (almost certainly Joe) “link” Lisa’s IP address with authorship of this blog?

Because Lisa has commented here, I have her IP address.  I do. Nobody else does.

reverse IPFuck Nut is a good name for the Love Letter Writer (almost certainly Joe). A “reverse IP tracker” is just silly.  It’s similar to the old *69 thing that you used to do on phones to find out who called you.

The thing is that when you look at this website, you are not looking at my computer.  You are looking at data generated by my hosting service. I don’t even know where that is.  The computer sending you the data necessary to generate the images that you are now seeing isn’t at my house,  nor is it mine.

Okay, so an IP address is nothing scary. The bottom line here is this:  Don’t be afraid of IP address threats. It’s bluster and bullshit.  If you’re actively writing nasty threatening love letters, just stop that shit.  If you’re commenting reasonably on a blog (any blog, anywhere), don’t worry about it.

And Facebook accounts don’t have IP addresses, so people who try to threaten you about your Facebook account are just bluffing and lying.

How can people use them?

Well, they can be used in the way I did on the Love Letter page to show that “Jonathan Blakely” and the Love Letter Writer are the same person.  It’s remotely possible, of course, that those are two different people each using the same proxy server that they simply stumbled onto by total accident and both writing insulting stuff to this particular blog, but that’s doubtful in the extreme.

One other thing:  If I can positively identify, for example, Lisa with a particular IP address, and if Lisa were to completely piss me off for some reason, and if I were the type of person who just bans people right and left, I could block her IP address and she wouldn’t be able to come here.

Only then she could just go through a proxy.  Slower, yes, but it works.

Basically, they are almost useless except as a very broad, general tool to evaluate the success or weaknesses of a website.


So, which is it?  Can I see all this great information and therefore know who is visiting here, or am I liar and don’t know shit?  Make up your mind.

Yes, I put Statcounter on the blog. The counter number is incorrect though, off by more than 10,000 page views.

That’s because I did not put it on there until after I started getting the love letters and they began to escalate in ferocity. Statcounter gives me a bit more information than the stat software embedded in WordPress, so somebody who knows more than I do about all this suggested that I use it for my own safety.  It had nothing whatever to do with trying to find out who anonymous posters are on this blog.  I do not have Statcounter on my other blog because even though they’ve been nasty, nobody there has ever threatened my physically.  The Love Letter Writer did.

Remember why I was anonymous in the first place?  Because my husband was not happy about Joe Naugler’s criminal record.

So how do I know (almost certainly) that Joe wrote the love letters?

A wise woman doesn’t tell everything she knows.


Somebody reminded me of this.  Thank you.

nicole blog

This is from one of Nicole’s blogs.

I don’t know if that software came embedded in the blog when she started it, or if she added it herself.

Sally Davis Nicole Naugler keeps track of user data on her blessedlittleblog “They Call Me Mom” blog. She is able to view and log various information about users such as your country, state, and city. Who your internet provider is. What pages you view. How long you read the pages. How often you come back. Any links you click on from her page. Any comment you make.

The coolest thing is to see how much of her traffic is generated from this blog.

Bang Bang

Bang bang, she shot me down
Bang bang, I hit the ground
Bang bang, that awful sound
Bang bang, my baby shot me down
Sonny Bono/ Rahmakhan Todd Turnbow, /Robert Rivera

I want to talk a little bit about guns.  I do not want to get into a big controversy over the legality of owning them, or gun control, or the 2nd Amendment, or any of that.  I want to talk about the Nauglers and their relationship with guns, specifically.

Back in May 2015, when all the hoopla over the Naugler family first started churning, Joe was arrested for “menacing.”

Joe Naugler was charged with menacing after he told his son to get a gun after a neighbor would not let the family tap into her private well for drinking water.

That sort of sets the scene, I think. Joe has a documented history of threatening people with firearms when he’s angry. The Nauglers have guns. They appear to own more than one. They are great supporters of the so-called “2nd Amendment gun rights.”  That’s their right as things stand right now in America.  I am not quibbling about that.

I’m not even quibbling about this.

joe teaching child

Joe is posing as one of the children shoots. It’s supposed to represent how responsible they are, and how the children are being taught to use a gun with supervision. That’s nice, isn’t it?

Here’s a couple more, taken when the Nauglers lived in an actual house, several years ago.  They do not have flat pasture land like that or any barn.  They have only a garden shed.

The point here is that they like guns.

boy shooting

boy shooting
But, what about this?


Or this?
gun in shed

And this.

gun in shed

The last two screenshots came from a video tour of the garden shed home that Nicole posted on Facebook.  The Nauglers were already  living in the shed at this point.  It’s a home. It’s not being used as a storage area.  It’s a home for 13 people, 11 of them minor children.

Obviously, since Nicole posted the video, she has no problem whatever with two firearms being stored in easy reach of her 11 minor children.

Their argument would be, of course, that they teach their children gun safety, and so it’s okay.  Only it’s impossible to teach a three or four-year-old “gun safety.”  And they have several of those tots.

pillbottleRegardless of how you feel about guns and ownership of them, I think every sane person in the world can agree that they are not something that should be in easy reach of a small child.  We all know that putting those damned hard-to-open lids on pill bottles has saved countless lives by preventing small children from gaining access to them.

Guns are, of course, just as lethal in inexperienced childish hands.


A bigger question, overarching all this, is why?

When you’re living a very tiny garden shed with 13 people, why do you give up valuable space to store not one, but two, large guns?   What is the point?  Why would somebody do that?

The only reason I can think of is fear.

The Nauglers live in Kentucky,  not the wilds of Montana or Alaska.  There is no reason for them to fear that some predacious wild animal is going to come around trying to get into their little shed.

We have large animals, so I understand the rationale for keeping a gun so that if you have an animal that needs to be put down humanely,  you can do it rapidly.  But they don’t have any such animals.  Furthermore, you don’t need to keep two guns at the ready, propped in easy reach, to do that.

So, what are they afraid of?


There are only two things that I can think of that they might be afraid of.  One is that law enforcement folks are going to come back at some point and try to take their kids again.

If that’s their fear, those two guns aren’t going to do anything except cause a Ruby-Ridge-type situation, which could lead to pure disaster.

It would be like using a slingshot to battle with an army tank. Guess who loses?

The other fear is that some bad people, you know, criminals, that might want to come onto the Naugler property and steal stuff, or burn and pillage.

I’ll wait a second while you think about that sentence.

Criminals might come and want to steal stuff.

What stuff?

The Naugler family doesn’t have any stuff.  They are proud of not having any stuff. Honestly, if you’re a robber, are you gonna venture onto that piece of property looking for money and/or valuables?

And how likely is it that anyone would break into a garden shed with 13 people inside for the sole purpose of doing. . . what?

The fact is that the Nauglers are in far more danger of being injured or killed by the guns owned by their own family, at the hands of one of their own family, than any of them would ever be by any intruder.  Their children are endangered by having those guns in easy reach.

I hope nothing ever happens. I really, really do.



Going Over a Cliff

Years ago, Dave and Nathan and I went on a trip out west. One place where we stopped was the Grand Canyon.

I have been aware for a long time that I am really afraid of heights, more so than a lot of people. I don’t like to get on a ladder. Oddly, I’m not overly frightened of flying, but I suspect that’s because I’m enclosed in the plane.

This fear pretty much destroyed my experience at the Grand Canyon, and even though I didn’t mean for it to, that of my family.

I took this photo. I took it under pressure. I remember it well. The feeling going through me was sheer horror. Not only were they standing next to the rail – Dave was more or less leaning on it. They didn’t linger there. I snapped the picture and they came back closer to me.

A really bad thing for me at the Grand Canyon was that so many areas didn’t have any guard rails at all.

We saw people doing this, and even took a photo of a guy with his dog on the edge, but I can’t find it now. This is not our photo, but even looking at it gives me the willies.

And I can think about this rationally and still freak out. Even if Nathan and Dave were standing more than a body’s length from the edge, so it was physically impossible for them to fall over, I still couldn’t watch them. I stayed in a panic most of the time we were there. I knew I was seriously diminishing their experience, but I couldn’t help it.

And what’s sort of odd is that the guard rails help. I’m still uncomfortable, but it’s not nearly as bad if there is a rail.

Years ago, I bought a copy of this book. For one thing, I thought the title was so cool that I wanted it on my bookshelf. Note: It’s a Christian book. As such, I do not recommend it now. Read stuff like that at your own risk.

Anyway, I cannot be absolutely certain, and I tossed my copy long ago, but I think the basic framework of the analogy that I am employing here came from that book. I have enlarged on it and embellished it over the years, but I do want to acknowledge the original source.

I don’t like cliffs.  I don’t like them really a lot, as I’ve mentioned. But almost nobody would think it was a great idea to jump off one.

So, on overlooks, the parks department or the maintenance folks put up fences. You can pretty easily climb over the fence if you wish, but they are there to say, “Stay behind the fence and you’ll be safe from the risk of falling off the cliff.”

And it works pretty well. The fence is a psychological security blanket.

Consider this photo. This is 1982, me with Nathan on a ferry. I was decidedly uncomfortable here, not because I have any fear of water ( both Nathan and I could swim well), but because the barrier was netting.

Same ferry, same trip. Solid barrier. Happier Mom. The only reason I’m holding him is to hold him up for the camera.

One of the things that the workmen have to decide is where to put the fence. How far back from the edge of the cliff, or the pothole, or the work site, or whatever perceived danger? Six feet? Two? Fifty?

That’s a subjective call, and it’s based on a number of things, including the condition of the ground along the proposed fence site, the available spare ground in the area, and the perception of how dangerous the situation is in the first place.

We set all sorts of fences in life. Everyone’s comfort zone is different. This is all okay. Some of us are okay with setting our fences right on the edge of the cliff, and having them very low. Others get hives at the thought and like fences set way, way back from the edge. They’re like me. They want that fence back so far that if you fell over it head first, the worst thing that could happen is a bump on the forehead.

The problem comes when we start to get the fence and cliff confused.

The fence is not the cliff. Each individual can have a fence in a different place and that does not change the location or the danger of the cliff.

Authoritarian religion (call it “fundamentalism,” call it “evangelicalism,” or do what I do and call it “fundigelicalism”) gets this very muddled. In their world, the fences are all cliffs. If you put your toe over their fence, you just fell off the cliff. If they acknowledge that you have a separate fence (something that’s not always a given), they are very critical if your fence is a foot closer to the cliff than theirs is.

In some cases, they refuse to admit anyone to their little club if the fences aren’t in the “approved” places.

They insist, of course, that they figure out where to place their fences using their book, but all 30,000 Christian denominations are using the book and the fences are all over the place.

The truth is that we place our fences where we are comfortable with them, where they alleviate our anxiety.

And that is why crossing a fence is really hard.


This is Calvary Memorial Church, Southern Pines, North Carolina. I refer to it affectionately as “The Fundy Church From Hell.” We spent about 14 years there, with a break of a few years in the middle.

I will never forget the last time we went there. I knew we were going to leave. There was no way we could stay. I got up after the morning service, just knowing I was walking out the door and never coming back, and I was crossing the fence.  I was walking out beyond the barrier.

The cliff was there, I thought, and I was going to fall off. Only I had to climb over the fence.

This was in 1993, so it’s been almost twenty years ago, and I can still shudder when I think about it. I can also laugh at the insanity of my delusional idea, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t actually feel the horror.

That’s one way to breach a fence. Just climb the hell over it. It’s fairly sudden and pretty scary.

It feels like that – like walking into a dark tunnel where you can’t see the cliff.

There’s another way to do it, though. It’s not sudden, and it’s very hard work, as you can see. You can move the fence.

Neither solution is easy. Because of that, it’s important to think about fences before you build them, and be sure you like their location for the long haul.

More importantly though, it’s important to keep the fence and the cliff separate. They are not the same thing. 

The fence is simply a psychological security device.

The cliff is, well. . . what exactly is the cliff?

That’s where the hard part comes in. Are there any cliffs?  Sure there are. If I drink and drive, I’m coming really close to the “wreck-the-car-and-possibly-kill-my-sorry-ass” cliff.

But we invent cliffs, too. I would venture to suggest that religious people invent a lot of cliffs.

The cliff I was so afraid of when I walked out of the Fundy Church From Hell that last time didn’t exist at all. It was entirely a figment of my imagination, a bogeyman hiding in the dark.

After breaching the fence, the one I’d built (with help from the pulpit at the Fundy Church From Hell), I spent several years not only moving fences, but also evaluating the existence of cliffs and in many cases, removing fences altogether because I came to realize that the cliffs were imaginary.

But I see this issue as a real basic difference between authoritarian religion and more progressive religion.  The people I know who are still religious and who can tolerate me for more than twenty seconds have a tendency to have the difference between cliffs and fences better established in their minds than those who think I’m evil incarnate.

When I was at the Grand Canyon, I was confusing fences and cliffs and I was doing this to other people – my son and my husband. I was demanding that, for my personal comfort, they see my fence and stay behind it.

I really don’t like doing that. I don’t like it when people do that to me. I understand entirely what is happening when people do it because of love and concern and because they can’t help it – why can’t I see the fence? Why don’t I understand that there is a cliff out there?

You can get paralyzed with fear that somebody you love is in mortal danger because they have put their fence in a different place, or because they don’t even have any fence at all, and oh my god, there is a cliff there.

Doing so does not protect them. It doesn’t make the cliff real. Your fear is real, I know that. My fear at the Grand Canyon was so real I was crying some of the time. But I wasn’t protecting my family. I was just making them miserable.

Confusing fences with cliffs does not do anything but create barriers.

Do you know what our dog does when she sees this?

She saves us from it. Loudly. Vigorously.

And she cannot understand why we are not grateful.