Subtitled "The Hidden Lives of Hasidic Rebels", Winston introduces readers to young adults raised in Hasidic (also known as, ultra-Orthodox) Jewish faSubtitled "The Hidden Lives of Hasidic Rebels", Winston introduces readers to young adults raised in Hasidic (also known as, ultra-Orthodox) Jewish families in Brooklyn, New York who are struggling within the confines of their community and the decision of whether to stay or leave. Winston's interactions with the Satmar sect, who do not evangelize with the outside community the way the Lubavitch sect does, originated as a doctoral dissertation in sociology, but her plans to write about how Satmar women reject feminism were changed after an interaction with a young Satmar woman who stated that the Satmar community has high rates of suicide due to peoples' desperate struggle to escape. While she could never prove this assertion, Winston did change the focus of her dissertation and begin interacting with those on the fringe of the community who long for greater personal and intellectual freedom than their communities allow.
Unfortunately, this shift in her central thesis lead Winston to believe she did not have to understand either the community she was writing about or why people would choose to stay. She uses terms for different sects of ultra-Orthodox Judaism with different traditions and hierarchical structures interchangeably and while her primary research is strong, she lacks the secondary research needed to create a base of understanding for both herself and for her readers. The book eventually focuses on a singular person, and I felt that Winston began to grow annoyed with her subject towards the end.
One aspect of the difficulty in leaving the community I had not read before was how leaving undermines the marriage prospects of a person's siblings. Marriage is the most important moment in a Satmar man or woman's life and matchmakers, who undoubtedly know all the gossip in the community, keep the sexes separate and unable to explain themselves to each other. Thus, the ability to make a good match for both themselves and their family members keeps people from toeing the line. ...more
Confession: the Duggar family is my guilty pleasure. While I no longer watch their show each week, I could not pass up the opportunity to read their bConfession: the Duggar family is my guilty pleasure. While I no longer watch their show each week, I could not pass up the opportunity to read their book, particularly one written by the four oldest daughters. The subtle, “It’s All About Relationships”, suggests the book will touch upon romantic relationships, which is rather humorous considering none of the girls had entered into a courtship (the Duggar equivalent of dating) before the publication of the book. In actuality, the book focuses on the relationship between parent and child with the majority of the book spent offering parenting advice. Yes, parenting advice from four girls who are not parents.
As odd as that sounds, it is not all together unexpected that that these girls would be offering parenting advice given how Jana, Jill, Jessa, and Jinger raised their younger siblings. (According to a recap I read, the recent episode where Jill went dress shopping was spent with Jill reminiscing about changing diapers, feeding, and dressing her younger sister, Joy Anna. She was seven when Joy Anna was born.) None of this is parenting advice I would employ; I disagree with the notion that a child should always obey and never, ever question their parents. And I find it bemusing that Jana, Jill, Jessa, and Jinger mention how their late night conversations with their parents is proof of how much attention they receive because fewer children would mean their parents could converse with them during the day allowing everyone to sleep at night. Less sleep is indicative of less time per child contradicting their message.
However, I was expecting antidotes and recollections of what it is like to be raised as a Duggar and the girls rarely rise to meet this expectation. There are a few pictures from their childhood sprinkled amidst the text yet the stories behind the pictures are never touched upon and the captions fail to add any more information.
The structure of the novel was off-putting from the start due to the constant use of the first person despite the four different narrators, which is same style employed by their parents in their book. I have seen some people suggest Michelle and Jim Bob wrote the book and put their daughters’ name on it, especially after the whole family began showing up for the girls’ book signings, but I heard Jill’s voice in every single page, again despite the four different narrators.
Interestingly enough, the Duggar daughters are clearly even more judgmental than their parents. The blame for this resist their parents, of course, but it is quite stunning how willingly and thoroughly these four girls cast judgement on people they have never interacted with. From their derision of women who dress immodestly in their eyes to those who have sex outside of marriage to people who do not vote for Rick Santorum, it is clear that these girls (or, who ever wrote the book) have been raised to have a holier-than-thou attitude towards the rest of the world making this “memoir” into a sermon that rejects their audience rather than expresses the love the Duggar girls claim to have for their readers or the lessons of the god they claim to follow....more
The Quiverfull movement is a subculture to the fundamentalist Christian movement and a component of the Christian patriarchy movement – the former rejThe Quiverfull movement is a subculture to the fundamentalist Christian movement and a component of the Christian patriarchy movement – the former rejects birth control and the later values submission as a cornerstone of Christian womanhood. The most famous adherents of the Quiverfull movement in the United States are the Duggar family from Arkansas with nineteen children and their own show on TLC, although they do not use the term “quiverfull”. In this culture, women live within stringently enforced doctrines of wifely submission and male headship by the Quiverfull philosophy of letting God give them as many children as possible so as to win the religion and culture wars through demographic means.
In this book, Joyce traces the rise of the movement and its transition from the fringe to a more prevalent aspect of Christian fundamentalism and attempts to provide a complete picture of the movement and its patriarchal underpinnings. Most adherents are drawn into through homeschooling and at-home birth literature rather than through their own churches; one of the biggest advocates for the Quiverfull movement and Christian patriarchy is actually a homeschooling organization.
Men and women at the forefront of the movement blame feminism for society’s problems arguing that putting women on equal footing as men allows for men to escape their responsibilities as fathers and women to engage in premarital sex, and argue such ills will be solved by return to the biblical principal woman as a piece of man rather than a separate being worthy of independence. Women should aspire to their biblically supported roles as mothers having as many children as biologically possible, and daughters should remain under the authority of their fathers shunning work and college while they wait for their fathers to approve of someone to marry them.
But there are also racist underpinnings to this movement. The cover of the book shows a hand clutching a collection of arrows because the movement often cites a passage about how blessed a man with a full quiver is, and adherents of the movement view their children as arrows in a war against demographics and secularization. To prove this point, Joyce cites the ultra-orthodox communities in Israel who believe God wants women to be submissive and have as many children as possible and who readily confess that this is the best defense against the higher birth rates of Muslim women in the region. (Arab leaders have presented the womb as a weapon in their war against Israelis, as well.) In America, the movement is seen as a way of reversing declining white birth rates, combating the higher birth rates of Catholic Hispanics and Muslims, and creating “warriors for God” who will undoubtedly vote against gay marriage, the right to choose, and equal pay for women among other issues. (So, no, the Duggars are not the wholesome family TLC presents them as being.)
Most of the information Joyce presents is information I have read before from either the primary sources she cites within her text or in shorter articles published elsewhere. But this is the first time the information has been condensed into a single volume and is quiet comprehensive in its explanations and scope of analysis.
One particular chapter, however, details one family’s attempt to reconcile with their church after the wife refused to be submissive and began to quest the authority of men within the church. While interesting, this antidotal evidence went on for far too long and distracted from the overall message. I’m sure it is rather heartbreaking to be shunned by your church, particularly when you believe such doctrine is the only admittance to heaven, but I fail to see how this incident deserves more attention than the stories of women and children who are abused in the name of God and Jesus.
The chapter on the “stay-at-home-daughters” of the movement is easily the weakest chapter with Joyce citing a few blogs, but I think that’s largely because the movement started in the 1980s and early 1990s so these teenagers are the first generation to go through courtships and marriage within the movement. Who knows if they will continue to be Quiverfull like their parents before them, or even if they will be able to find someone to marry? Clearly, a follow-up book is needed ten to fifteen years from now....more
Subtitled “The Real Lives of Islamic Radicals”, Ballen draws on a series of interviews with local government officials, clerics, and more than a hundrSubtitled “The Real Lives of Islamic Radicals”, Ballen draws on a series of interviews with local government officials, clerics, and more than a hundred Islamic radicals to explain what drives young men — and young women — to a violent, extremist version of jihad. The six men from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia explain how love and loneliness drove them to religious extremism as economic stagnation and few opportunities mean men cannot move out of their parents’ homes and, therefore, cannot marry and crumbling family and tribal structures leave them with no one but extremist clerics to turn to.
Much of the ideas and explanations Ballen puts forth have been previously been discussed in academic circles so I am pleased to see them introduced to a more mainstream audience. The book goes beyond academic articles, though, in examining what happens to these young men after a failed jihad with most becoming largely disillusioned with the leaders of Al Quaeda and the Taliban and one becoming staunchly pro-American after American doctors saved his life despite his attempt to kill American soldiers. The explanations may seem very simplistic — the idea men turn to terrorism because they can’t have sex very eye-roll inducing — but are far more complex than the ones reported in the American media.
The authors states that he included these six stories out of more than a hundred because he found these particular stories the most compelling and could confirm most if not all of their accounts, but I could not help but wonder what stories he held back and why. Still accustomed to more academic articles, I expected a more systematic approach to the question of what drives terrorists and less of the author’s own personal opinions, but I realize now that I should have taken the title as more indicative of what the book would provide....more
Subtitled “My Seven-Year Investigation into Warren Jeffs and the Fundamentalist Church of the Latter-Day Saints”, Brower details the years leading upSubtitled “My Seven-Year Investigation into Warren Jeffs and the Fundamentalist Church of the Latter-Day Saints”, Brower details the years leading up to the raid on the Yearning for Zion Ranch (YFZ Ranch) in Eldorado, Texas he spent as a private investigator working for those expelled from the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) embroiled in a civil dispute over property rights. The FLDS holds all the land around their original home of Short Creek, a community that straddles the Utah-Arizona border, in an economic trust and those expelled from the faith also lose their homes and jobs in addition to being shunned by the only community they have ever known. This civil investigation quickly morphed into a criminal as Brower, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), learned more about this separatist religion that maintains polygamy as a main tenant of its faith.
My interest in fundamentalist religions makes it impossible for me to pass up any book on the subject even when I think I’ve learned all there is to learn. I’m glad I didn’t pass this book up because while I was familiar with most of the topics covered in the book, the particular details forming Brower’s investigation were new to me. It was also interesting reading about the raid on the YFZ Ranch — the event that familiarized most of my friends with the FLDS — because it was so spun by the FLDS and swept under the rug by Child Protective Services in Texas. The review of the raid, as cited by Brower, stated that all of the children were returned to the YFZ Ranch despite the fact that:
“…a total of 439 children had been removed from the YFZ Ranch, and that 274 of them, from 91 families, had been the subjects of abuse and neglect. One in four prepubescent girls was involved in an underage marriage.” (pg. 287)
Except I never saw any of these shocking statistics in the coverage of the 2008 investigation. In fact, Brower’s book was actually the first time I learned of the outcome for the children removed from their home. And Brower spends the majority of the book detailing how the FLDS make up one the largest organized crime syndicates since untold tens of thousands of people (the FLDS won’t allow themselves to be counted in the U.S. census) support a religion that participates in child abuse, rape, interstate and international sex trafficking, and welfare theft. It’s an organized entity complete with safe houses that officials from Utah, Arizona, Texas, and the United States government have turned a blind eye to.
The most interesting part of this book, though, is the profile of the FLDS Prophet Warren Jeffs spun by Brower. Using Jeffs’ own writings, interviews with former members of the FLDS, and his own interactions with current FLDS members as well as Jeffs, Brower creates an absolutely horrific description of a man who abused children of all ages and sex either by his own hand or through his performance of marriages for other men in the upper hierarchy of his church. Brower continually interjects personal stories or those of his clients to illustrate his points and connect so-called past practices with current events within the religious sect.
Although this book is technically a personal memoir, it could have benefited from additional editing to turn it into a better investigative report. I liked hearing about the FLDS’ response to Brower because it does illustrate how closed off the FLDS are and what lengths they will go to maintain that break. However, the timeline gets a little lost as Brower tries to group events around themes and then repeats those events when he tries to go back to a timeline. I would have prefer him to stick to one format so I did not have been left muttering about how he already talked about this so many times. But it’s a minor complaint given how much information Brower brings to the reader....more
Krakauer’s book about Mormon fundamentalism begins with the story of the Lafferty boys and the violent murder of Brenda Lafferty and her young daughteKrakauer’s book about Mormon fundamentalism begins with the story of the Lafferty boys and the violent murder of Brenda Lafferty and her young daughter, Erica, on July 24, 1984 two of the Lafferty boys committed. The two brothers claim they were ordered by God to kill their sister-in-law and niece, and both align them with a fundamentalist, break-away sect of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as Mormons), the fastest growing religion in the world. (Because the two are not apart of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it would not be correct to identity them as FLDS.) Drawing from this fact, Krakauer delves into the development of this “American religion” and the, often troublesome, history of the religion founded by Joseph Smith.
When I first picked up Krakauer’s book, I was a little apprehensive about how much the narrative rests on a single, gruesome murder, and I honestly did not see the connection between the murder and Mormon fundamentalism. But I found the book to be a very interesting examination both of what religious extremism does the psyche and the history of this religion.
A simply chilling, if unsympathetic, look at Mormon faith, the conflict between Mormons and Gentiles (read all non-Mormons, including Jews) and between the upper echelon of LDS leaders and U.S. government completely fascinated me. As for Mormon fundamentalists, Krakauer likens them to the proverbial uncle everyone avoids at family functions — the one that should not be heard and not seen. He manged to maintain a distinguish between LDS and FLDS (as well as other fundamentalist sects), in my opinion, but he does draw a thread through his discussion of the church’s history and theology that connects its underlining of direct communication with God and charismatic leadership with the manifestations of particular elements in fundamentalist Mormon communities that makes it easy to understand why the fundamentalists appear more like the crazy uncle than a completely different religion.
Despite skipping a few pages here and there that dealt more with the Lafferty brothers and their villainous act, I found Krakauer’s book to very interesting. Rather than concentrating on polygamy like other nonfiction books covering Mormon fundamentalist, Krakauer covers the shared history between the two groups and how FLDS can still be considered “Mormon”....more
I found the first 100 or so pages to find very funny. Not in a poking-fun-of-religion funny, but funny in the way Jacobs presented his journey. AfterI found the first 100 or so pages to find very funny. Not in a poking-fun-of-religion funny, but funny in the way Jacobs presented his journey. After all, to go from shaving everyday to growing your beard out to your chest is bound to present some humorous material. It’s until Jacobs and his wife takes the instruction to “be fruitful and multiple” seriously that the humor stops because the way he talks about his wife (and his son) isn’t comical.
Jacobs picks and chooses what rules to follow and when to follow them; a decision he says reflects modern-day Christianity and Judaism because even Hasidic Jews and fundamentalist Christians pick and choose what to follow. That maybe be true, but it's also in contrast with his goal – to follow the Bible literally and document his journey. As a self-described workaholic, Jacobs is unable to keep basic rules such as keeping the Sabbath, and while I know that keeping all 700-plus rules must be an insurmountable attack, I started to feel as though this journey became more and more about his parenting skills and his interactions with his son, Jasper. This is especially true after he reached the New Testament because he begins to talk more and more about becoming/being a father to twin boys. Plus, there’s quite a bit of boasting about how he wrote a book studying the encyclopedia from A to Z, and complaining about the fact that people have written negative reviews of The Know-It-All, which lowers his rating on Amazon.
An interesting premise that includes trips to visit the Amish and an ex-uncle that became an Orthodox Jew after experimenting with every other religion, but one that ultimately fell on its face. ...more
Fifty-year-old Corrie ten Boom awakens from her sickbed to see an old man being shoved into the cupboard along the side wall of her room by a youngerFifty-year-old Corrie ten Boom awakens from her sickbed to see an old man being shoved into the cupboard along the side wall of her room by a younger woman. Despite her sickness, the spinster leaps from her bed to help push a wheezing elderly woman into the same cupboard, which leads to the secret room built for the very purpose of hiding these people — the hunted Jews of Holland. Since May 1942, Corrie — along with her spinster sister Betsie and their father — hid Jewish refugees in her home, the Beje, and took an active role in the resistance movement while using her father’s watch business as a front for their activities, but on this day, February 28, 1944, their activities are quickly coming to a grinding halt.
I devoured this book on my flight from Montana to Minneapolis; I opened it to the first page as soon as I got on the plane and finished it as soon as the wheels touched down, never once looking up. I can remember starting to read this book once when I was much younger (around eight, I think), but I had such horrific nightmares I had to stop. Now I’m not such why (other than age) because ten Boom’s account is incredible and inspirational. For ten Boom, her work was merely the job of humanity and her suffering was the trial of her faith, which guides her and Betsie during their time in concentration camps as they struggle to forgive their persecutors and praise God in times of sickness and fleas.
There have been very few books about people who worked against the Nazis that weren’t Jews or weren’t fictional characters that have landed on my shelf, but this is one that certainly sheds light on what happened to those who did help and how they did so. Occasionally, I would stumble on a part that had me wondering if the push for Christianity was by ten Boom or her co-authors, but I certainly will not judge this amazing woman’s memoir on that basis. I will say that I had a bit of a difficulty getting into the book as it begins with ten Boom’s younger years and descriptions of her father’s watch shop. Regardless, though, this is another inspirational and well-written memoir I plan to hang on to for quite some time....more
Wallis’ “new vision for faith and politics in America” was the selection of my parents’ Sunday School class five years ago. I was sort of a member ofWallis’ “new vision for faith and politics in America” was the selection of my parents’ Sunday School class five years ago. I was sort of a member of the class, but I gave up on the book after thirty pages. It’s been on my TBR list ever since, especially since the class had such interesting conversations and reactions to Wallis’ thoughts.
The book — subtitled “Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It” — asks why believing in God and having moral values makes you pro-war, pro-rich, and pro-Republican? And why promoting and pursuing a progressive social agenda with concern for economic security, health care, and education means you have to put your faith in God aside? Wallis stresses that Jesus’ greatest concern was for the poor and argues that the most important political and social issue for Christians should be decreasing poverty in America and the world. At the same time, Christians should accept global warming and work to sustain God’s creation and place less emphasis on hot-button, litmus-test issues such as abortion.
I wound up giving up on this book again; stopping at 282 pages out of 371 and skimming to the end.When I read the introduction, I once again found myself nodding along with the basic premise of Wallis’ book because when did one side of American politics gain a monopoly on the Christian religion. But I had to give up and move on to something else because there was very little food for thought. Let me clarify, when taking a position, Wallis does not reference the Bible as his support. Because he either chose to or refused to do so, he basically states his position and then moves on. The lack of support — biblical or not (very few footnotes and citations for outside facts) — makes it nearly impossible to respond to him or think critically about his position.
I also felt like I was being preached to, especially since God’s Politics is very repetitive and Wallis cites own company as an outside source. In several chapters Wallis presented his view, follows it up with a copy of a letter/speech/ad by him restating that view, which he would later repeat in another section. Additionally, as someone in my parents’ class pointed out (I kept notes tucked in my Bible), Wallis never discusses America’s ideal that the church and the state be separated; he assumes that because most politicians are self-described Christians (even if his book says they’re really not), this country should conform and follow Christian ideology — whether that be pro-environment, pro-war, or anti-poverty....more