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This Dark World: A Memoir of Salvation Found and Lost
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This Dark World: A Memoir of Salvation Found and Lost

3.49 of 5 stars 3.49  ·  rating details  ·  117 ratings  ·  28 reviews
A riveting memoir of one woman's immersion into Fundamentalist faith and her decision, twenty years later, to leave it all behind.

Carolyn Briggs grew up with modest means in the Iowa heartland. Pregnant at seventeen, married a few months later, by the age of eighteen she found herself living in a trailer with no plans beyond having more babies-until she found Jesus. It beg
Paperback, 320 pages
Published February 4th 2003 by Bloomsbury USA (first published March 6th 2002)
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I read this book after watching the movie. I enjoyed the movie but wanted to get a little more insight into the author’s feelings. Books usually give you a much better understanding of the characters, and this book did not disappoint me. The author is a very talented writer; it doesn’t surprise me that she is now an English professor. From the movie you got a sense of a “Yearning-For-Zion types” complete with prairie dresses and long braided hair. The book gave you a feeling of long-haired hippi ...more
Chantal LeGendre
I'm so grateful for This Dark World (Higher Ground). I think she got the title right the first time. After you leave the world of faith, the word is indeed dark. Uncertain. Alone. You can't return to your 'brethren' because they're not going to get it, and you can't talk to unbelievers for the same reason. And if you try, your certain to sound like a gasping, stuttering idiot to both camps. Most of all, you can't talk to God, your Stalwart, all-knowing, all-encompassing, trusted Standby. Suddenl ...more
I was prompted to read this book after seeing Vera Farmiga's movie Higher Ground, which she directed (her directorial debut) and starred in (the movie was based on this book). However, this was an unusual instance of the movie's being more satisfying than the book. The book has an emotional flatness to it that felt repressive--I guess that's what being a born-again Christian for so many years will do to you... I would have liked more about her life with her current husband, who is a shadowy fig ...more
I felt her story as told in the book was unbalanced. So much time is give to her over zealous years in an unbalanced church. Not enough time given to the wrestling within Carolyn with the extreme teachings and experience she went through in those years. And then how she views them now after leaving them behind.


The FAQs on her site warped up the book nicely.

Where are you with your faith right now?
A: I could not live in a world without God. And this God
I'm not sure what I thought this book would be about, but it turned out to be about one woman's experience as a born again Christian. I ploughed right through it as it was fascinating to read her accounts of what she was taught in a somewhat nonjudgmental way. The end was a little too short considering the change that the story took. I'd recommend this with the caveat that if reading about Jesus makes you squirmish, you will probably not enjoy this book.
I enjoyed the subject matter more than the actual writing. This was a memoir written by a woman who was formally a fundamentalist Christian and her movement away from her faith. I felt that a lot was lacking and found I had many questions at the end, such as what happened to her family and what her faith looks like now. I don't know who I'd recommend this to. It made for a really interesting book club.
A guileless memoir without any shades of bitterness over her past-- an honest look back.
May 17, 2013 Asiah rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: faith
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I actually watched the movie adaptation of this book prior to reading it. I was intrigued by the author's story and read a little bit more about her on the internet after watching the movie. The book and subsequent movie are about the author's faith and experiences as a fundamentalist Christian before she ultimately decides to leave the Church. In the stuff I read outside of the book she was talking about how she has never really been fully able to let go of her faith. Ultimately what I was look ...more
I liked the movie, and I was surprised at how different - how much more subtle - the book is.
This is a wonderful memoir about the power and punishment of evangelical Christianity. In my circles, it's rare to read the positive truth of belonging and love and worthiness that comes with connection to a like-minded group of people - yet also to read about the struggles and ultimate damage that such belonging can do. In this quiet, lovely book, Carolyn Briggs tells us her life story, unflinchingly an
Read this memoir after watching the movie last week, and this may be one of the only times when the movie is better than the book. Interestingly, Carolyn Briggs wrote the screenplay as well, so maybe she's just more talented at that genre. Also, I don't know if I'm just turning into a crank, but so much of what I've read lately seems so poorly edited. For example, for 250 pages, Briggs has the reader know in great detail that her family and those around them ate health foods religiously. Then al ...more
What I like about this book is that it describes well the attractive, positive side of the kind of church that Carolyn and her husband belonged to, and not just the constricting, judgmental aspect of it. Too often descriptions of fundamentalist churches treat them like dysfunctional weirdos of a power trip. In her memoir, Carolyn shows the joy, support and sense of sharing and community that her church offered her, and the comfort of black and white answers to life's questions. I agree with othe ...more
Popnfresh Dudley
It was interesting to read about someone going from secular, to fanatic, and back to secular. Carolyn really found a niche, for a time, in the world of a church that constantly questions your faith. While her disenfranchisement seemed organic, I would have like to have seen that more fleshed out. The book sleeve mentioned that she was questioning more, but I didn't get a feel for that as much as she seemed to feel that she wanted something more.

I also would have liked to have heard more about h
Katie Devorah
I didn't fully understand the story she was trying to tell. It was more a memoir of a marriage she was unhappy in then losing her religion.
Sarah Rice
I really enjoyed this book. I think it gives a pretty honest look into the world of fundamentalist Christianity. It is well written and thoughtful. I might have enjoyed more analysis, but I guess it is just a memoir and not a scholarly work... This is currently a movie that is out (only in select cities/theaters, it seems), directed by and starring Vera Farmiga called Higher Ground. I'm eager to see the movie adaptation.

Here's a quote that comes toward the end of the book to which I am particula
Joa Laville
I read this memoir, originally called This Dark World, before hosting the author, Carolyn Briggs, at a book club session. She comes across as very honest and genuine in person, and the book (and movie) reflects that. She really chronicles her journey of faith in a way that is so unique, yet feels universal. I think we can all relate to the paradox of naming a story about faith and a "life in progress" both This Dark World" AND "Higher Ground"--both feel true depending on the moment.
Jun 07, 2013 Allison rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Allison by: Book Club (Amy)
Shelves: book-club

Very interesting. Made me uncomfortable in lots of spots. Helped me to understand some people. Reminded me of old things. I enjoyed the first 1/3 the best and the 2/3 a lot. Last portion left me feeling a little dry and it turns out that, according to an article, the ending sound different than it was in her real life. Good discussion for Book Club, for sure.
This was an interesting story, I was along for the ride the whole way, but there was so much time spent on her life become a fundamentalist Christian that I wanted more denouement. The ending felt a little bit rushed to me, even though for her it had clearly been a long time coming. I was willing to keep reading more detail about her loss of faith.
Steve Wiggins
The spiritual biographies of women constitute a fascinating subset of memoirs. Carolyn Briggs' experience is one that leaves the reader wanting to learn more, beyond the movie. Further thoughts may be found here: Sects and Violence in the Ancient World.
I read this book to find my own story. It is extremely well written. It is obvious she is an English professor now. I was reminded of many things I had forgotten. It all rang true. I was hoping there would be more on what happened to her afterwards and how she became a college professor. Maybe the next book?
A wonderful memoir of a woman trapped in a loveless marriage and disillusioned with her fundamentalist life. She makes painful choices - painful for her and nearly everyone in her life. She had the courage to follow her dreams and land on her feet. Poignant and compelling.
Brent Wilson
I liked both the book and movie, even though they were different in plot and details. Neither was a huge standout but both struck an authentic chord. Sad at times but compelling!
David Henry
A terrific and honest book about finding yourself in born-again Christianity and the personal travel that took her to a new, more independent and thoughtful place. Loved it.
A personal and thoughtful memoir describing the Briggs' experience in a fundamentalist evangelical congregation.
Surprisingly, I liked the movie better. Book ending felt rushed and unresolved.
would recommend this for book groups, especially those in christian circles.
Oct 13, 2011 Susann marked it as to-read
Really liked Higher Ground, the movie that this is based on.
Funny, heartbreaking, and troubling . . .
Kim B.
Kim B. marked it as to-read
Dec 26, 2014
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