As unlikely as it seems now, I largely missed out on the Harry Potter phenomenon when it began blowing up in the late ‘90s and early 2000s. Continue reading
One thing you learn in writing stories is that certain objects have a mysterious and almost magnetic power that defies words. Castles, swords, rings, goblets, buried treasure—the appearance of any one of these in a story is like a radiant stone that vibrates with its own intensity. Perhaps that’s why I became Catholic, because as a storyteller I was naturally drawn to a religion that invests material things with sacramental power: holy water; crosses; bells, books, and candles.
Bell towers have fascinated me ever since I saw the movie Vertigo when I was nine or ten years old. Recently voted the greatest film of all time in the once-a-decade Sight & Sound poll, Vertigo tells the story of a retired detective (James Stewart) hired to trail a young woman (Kim Novak) who may be possessed by the ghost of a long-dead ancestor. He pursues her to an old Spanish mission, the Mission San Juan Batista, where, at the very top of the bell tower, tragedy strikes. And then strikes again.
The understated use of Hispanic and southwestern folklore in this movie slowly worked its way into my brain, taking root in dark corners. During my first couple of months at Southwestern University, ten years ago this summer, I was enchanted by the beige limestone, the rounded-arch doorways, the old chapel at the heart of campus with a door leading up to the tower, a door that was only unlocked on the rarest of occasions. I remember being struck with a sense of the history of the place.
It was there that I had the idea to write a series of children’s books, books that would draw on the cultures and legends of the Celts (my ancestors) and the Southwest (my adopted home). This summer in going back and rereading some of the folklore and mythology of England I’ve been struck by how many stories center around the ringing of bells. In the days before telephones and wireless, sometimes the cathedral bell was the only means of communication between one town and another, or between the church and those in peril on the ocean’s dark waters.
One such story from County Surrey tells of a man, Neville Audley, who was captured fighting on the wrong side during the long-ago War of the Roses. Arrested and sentenced to die when the curfew bell tolled on the next night at Chertsey Abbey, he realized that the only hope of being spared was to obtain a pardon from the king.
Neville conferred with his girlfriend, Blanche Heriot, and their mutual friend Herrick. Herrick agreed to ride towards London to seek pardon. But on the next day, with only five minutes left before the bell tolled, Herrick was seen flying towards the town from half a mile away—still too far away to save Audley’s life.
The minutes passed. The townsfolk awaited the tolling of the bell. But the bell did not ring.
Just as Herrick arrived in town, the sexton, accompanied by soldiers, went up into the tower to investigate. There they found Blanche Heriot, dashed against the bell and frame but still clinging to the clapper with a tenacity born of desperation. Luckily she had hung there just long enough to save her beloved, who was spared from death by the king’s timely pardon. The two were married shortly afterwards.
Another story with a less happy ending is told of the tenor bell of Burgh le Marsh church. The people of Burgh le Marsh once made a living off the debris of doomed ships, lighting the beacon on Marsh Hill to lure poor sailors to their deaths. Once the sailors were all drowned and the weather had calmed, the townsfolk would scramble ashore to loot the broken vessels.
As the story goes, in 1629 the Mary Rose was sailing from Leith, Scotland along the Lincolnshire coast on its way to Flanders. A storm began to gather. The wind howled and the rains beat against the ship, while the people of Burgh watched from the shore with growing excitement.
But not everyone was pleased by the buffeting of the storm-tossed ship. The elderly sexton Guymer, when he learned what was being planned, begged them not to light the beacon. No one listened.
A crowd made its way towards Marsh Hill and the beacon was lit. Captain Frohock, seeing what he mistook for a lighthouse, called out to his men that they were safe. The crew turned the ship in the direction of the light.
Back on shore, desperate to avoid the collision that was imminent, Guymer ran towards the church. Ascending to the top of the bell tower, he grabbed the rope and rang the bell with all the strength he could muster. Captain Frohock, realizing how close he was to shore and certain death, ordered the Mary Rose back to sea, away from the treacherous sands.
Enraged by the tolling of the bell, the townspeople stormed into the church. Breaking down the belfry door, they found Guymer, still clinging to the rope, his dead body swaying to and fro. His heart had burst open from exhaustion.
When Captain Frohock returned to the village a year later and learned what had happened, he bought an acre of land known as “Bell String Acre.” He ordered that rent from the land be used to buy a silken rope for the bell. It’s said that he married the sexton’s daughter.
Tales of vagabonds and outlaw men with a burning lust for gold
But of all those men with all their sins the worst there’s ever been
Was a man in white who showed up one night in the town of Abilene.
For Fernando McGraw of Statler Hall, it was the best day of his life
He’d waited six years and now through tears he made Marie his wife
Two hundred guests merrily processed behind the bride and groom
With hurrying feet through the rain-filled street to Winchester’s Saloon. Continue reading
the second I’ve attended since
you got married.
You would have loved the venue:
a small stone chapel
almost like a cottage
in the woods
with a high Gothic ceiling
and a stained-glass portrait
of the via dolorosa
hanging just over the altar.
And the ceremony
may have been more high church
than what we were used to
growing up in Texas
but the bride processed in
to some Elvish-sounding music
and after the exchange of vows
we all had communion
and the newlyweds came in together
bearing the grail and bread.
The whole first year after
when I heard about a friend’s engagement
my immediate reaction
was to try and stop it.
It was silly of me, I know:
not every walk down the aisle
has a cross at its end.
And over time
I got better, or
learned how to fake it.
when the priest said,
“Speak now, or forever hold your peace”
it was hard not to think of that moment
in your wedding
and the silence where
no one spoke.
And when the bride and groom
pledged their fidelity to one another
in sickness and in health
to have and to hold
from this day forward
I thought of you and him
the vows he made to you that day
flanked by the groomsmen
with whom he had already
a few years from now
I’ll have my own ceremony.
And with laughter and communion
my friends will escort me
into a new realm of life.
But even amid the celebration
there will be a quiet ache
dull but persistent
because of the empty space
where you should have been
and the marriage you never had.
She wouldn’t call herself a genius
but I know she is
A novelist, an actress
She’s on billboards and Broadway
The writer, star, director
of a one-woman play
She’s pale as the sun
as quiet as the moon
and she doesn’t
understand the world
she wonders what the moral of the story is
she takes her coffee black
she stays out past midnight
sipping Chardonnay and reading
N. T. Wright
but lately she’s been feeling nervous and listless
She’s sick of putting up with boys
and their pathetic grandeur
and wishes she could meet a guy
who understands her
She’s pale as the sun
as quiet as the moon
and she doesn’t
understand the world
(and sometimes late at night
we take that desert road
out where the stars are street lights
and when we hit the end of that trail
where the dust shines like fog
and the grass hums around us with a million voices
I pull out my flamenco guitar
and she dances).
Last year I wrote a post listing the dynamics of dangerous religion. I’ve spent the last year slowly adding to the list as I tweet and write my books and talk to people about the things that really scare them about the churches they’ve come out of. Eventually the list grew so long that I had to divide it into sections, and I’ll probably keep expanding it as time goes on. Please share your own experiences in the comments, and together we can continue to expose all the wrong things in the hope of bringing freedom and justice. Continue reading
Today I’m thrilled to be hosting a discussion with friend and fellow writer Teryn O’Brien. In addition to blogging, Teryn is a social media consultant who works in online marketing at various imprints of Penguin Random House, LLC, and also does social media, online marketing, and writing / editing consultations for a fee. She’s pursuing publication of a fantasy trilogy.
Last year Teryn’s blog, Identity Renewed, placed number 36 out of over 400 blogs nominated in an online survey at Patheos. In November her post “15 Things I Wish I’d Known About Grief” went viral and was read by over a million people. However, Teryn has written prolifically on a wide variety of topics, including relationships, fantasy, feminism, self-acceptance, spiritual abuse, and her own Celtic heritage.
On Friday I sat down with Teryn to discuss her views on blogging, social media, and finding the courage to do the things you feel most passionately about. The following is a partial transcript of our insightful and inspiring conversation.
Tell me a little about the history of your blog. How did you get started?
I personally started blogging at Identity Renewed almost three years ago this month. I started it right after college to work through some of my pain and brokenness. I was only posting twice a month, basically once every other week. I had a list of topics to write about, and then I was going to end it after a year. Honestly, I think it was just a time of experimentation and trying to find my voice. It really wasn’t until getting into the second year that I started blogging really regularly, posting three times a week. The main thing about blogging is consistency, because if you’re not blogging consistently, no one is going to come back to your blog. I kind of just played with a whole bunch of different schedules and ideas.
Then one of my best friends died in October 2012. She was in an abusive relationship inside a cult, and I realized that I had been fighting abusive tendencies in my own life, too. Suddenly, all the brokenness, pain, and struggles toward healing I’d been through began to make sense. So it was probably only after she died that I truly found my voice. And people started listening more. So I started getting a little more traffic and meeting more bloggers. The very first year I blogged, I think I got about 1,000 views. The second year, about 3,000-4,000 views. My goal in 2013 was to get 25,000 views.
The thing you have to realize is this: Blogging is a community, so no one is going to come to your site unless you go to their sites. Especially when you’re just starting out. If you’re not a famous blogger or pastor or speaker or whatever, no one is going to listen to your voice. So just starting out blogging, that’s one of the most important things you can do: Put yourself out there, meet other bloggers, comment on other sites, show a genuine interest in what others have to say. I’ve made some great friends through the blogging world, and we’ve never met in real life (yet!).
So then, in November 2013, I wrote this post about grief, and it got a million views. The thing about going viral is—you can’t control it. There are certain rules you can kind of try, and there’s research about what makes a post go viral, but honestly, at the end of the day, you can’t predict that. It was one of the posts I had spent the least amount of time on. I usually spend hours poring over my posts, and I’m like, “This one will surely go viral!”—but nope! The foundation is just blogging, finding your voice, and not being afraid to be passionate. It’s just finding that unique you, or those topics you feel like you can write completely and utterly passionately about.
Honestly, most bloggers blog for years before they make it big. It’s very rare for someone to have success overnight. Social media takes time, because you’re building trust with an audience. Social media isn’t about selling things; it’s about connecting with people. As soon as you start thinking too much about numbers, you’ve lost what social media truly is about.
So how successful do you consider yourself on your own social media platforms? And how do you define success?
You know, it means different things for different people. When you’re just starting out blogging, it’s really easy to look at people who are really, really popular and get discouraged. So it’s important to set your own goals. The goals should be goals that you personally define as successful and not necessarily what other people define as successful. Because people are really obsessed with large numbers. It’s a sickness in our society—even I do it! But the thing about it is, you can’t really control large numbers (unless you pay for it or already have a huge platform to begin with). You can’t make thousands and thousands follow you right away. It builds over time. A lot of it is about the work you put in.
For example: Last year, I decided I wanted to have 800 Twitter followers by the end of the year! So I started following people and engaging more, and I got at least 800. I just set another goal last week, “I want to get over a thousand Twitter followers!” So I just followed more than 200 people in two days’ time. So it’s just little goals like that, and hopefully over time those goals will add up. Honestly, probably none of us are going to be the next Rachel Held Evans, and it’s kind of hard to reconcile yourself to that fact. But making measurable goals that you know you can achieve, setting new and higher goals next time, is the way to go.
When you look at the Christian market, the people who are doing the reading and blogging and tweeting, what are they looking for?
Well, it honestly depends on the type of Christian you’re trying to reach. Because there are different tribes within Christianity. And there are lots of messy people in between. But I really see—especially in younger Christians—a real desire for genuineness and authenticity and vulnerability. Just honesty about the Christian faith. So not necessarily just saying, “This is the right answer!” but a truly honest exploration of faith.
Of course, again, that depends on the tribe. The more conservative groups, they want more answers. They like to have things tied up in nice theological boxes. The more liberal, kind of progressive religious people, they want more of a dialogue. They don’t want people to tell them, “This is exactly how God is!” They want more vulnerable, real stories about people who have been in hard places, and who don’t sugarcoat things, but who can give hope in the midst of that.
But again, there’s a lot who are falling into the middle right now. And they just want hope. Hope that in some way, we can love each other even when we disagree. That Jesus is bigger than political and theological debates.
Are there topics you’ve forbidden yourself from blogging about because you were afraid it might offend your target audience? Have you lost followers because of things you’ve written or posted?
That’s a really interesting question, because I have been wrestling with that lately. The downside to success is that your people, your fans, your followers tend to have certain expectations for you. When you have more of an audience, you are called out more, or you feel their wrath more.
So yes, ever since I launched my new website, I’ve been losing subscribers. I think the reason is because a lot of followers thought they were subscribing to a grief blog. Once my blog post on grief went viral, everyone thought all I should talk about was grief. So after it went viral, I felt all this pressure to blog about grief all the time, since this is where I found success. Success can be stifling.
But this year, I’ve been in a place where I just haven’t had words to talk about grief. The grief has been much too deep, too angry, too volatile. I’ve written one post about grief, and it got quite a few shares, but ultimately, I’m not just a grief blogger! Recently, I came to the realization that I might lose all subscribers I had gained during my viral post success. I think I’m in a weird spot right now. I’m always really struggling about what to write about and share. When it starts becoming about success and numbers, you start to lose who you really are. I just have to write what’s on my heart, and it’s been a struggle lately.
If you could consult with your younger self, just starting out in social media, what advice would you give to her and why?
I think I would’ve just told myself: “Don’t be afraid. You will not have any regrets two, three years down the road.” When I first started down this road, I was terrified. I would spend hours agonizing over a post, because it was the first time I was being honest publicly. There were many times I almost quit blogging. I mean, I almost quit blogging a few weeks ago. It’s always a struggle.
But that’s the main thing I’d say to my younger self: “Don’t be afraid, and it’s going to be worth it. Pouring your heart out is going to be worth it. Not even that you’re necessarily going to be popular, but you are going to find your voice. God is preparing you for things in the future.”
If I hadn’t already had things set up when my friend died in October 2012, I wouldn’t have had that small voice to express all the things I felt and learned in the months following her death. Then again, if I hadn’t had everything else set up in November 2013, that post wouldn’t have gone viral. So I don’t regret anything. It’s hard sometimes, because social media is draining, but I don’t regret it. So that’s what I’ll continue to tell myself: “Keep doing it! Trust that God is going to use your voice. Just jump in.”
The one who doubted:
that was what they called me.
No one remembered
the bravery I had shown
on the way to Bethany—
bravery or was it despair I felt
remembering the failed revolutions
the cousins murdered
Miriam straining to deliver
and dying or ere they were born,
our two sons.
The eddies of dust
over which our fathers walked
in ages past are trampled under
by the eagle’s talons
luxury sits grinning and contented
in the temple
making a mockery of Abraham
and Abraham’s God
The flower of youth perishes
on the hilltops of Judea
and hope is a luxury
for fools and charlatans.
Yet there was one who was not hopeless
Quiet and resolved
Upon his dark brow lingered a celestial light.
Though we had been abandoned by all
He had not abandoned us
And I was resolved not to forsake him
Even with the expectation of death encroaching
Death sadistic and perverse.
So call me not doubting
for it wasn’t my faith that forsook me
on that night in the garden
when they led him away
when they bound him to a fiery wheel
when the hounds of hell stood baying
round the tree where he hung suspended
where the crude lance entered
and his mother lay pierced at the root
no, it wasn’t my faith.
it was hope.
hope was enshrouded
and lain in a tomb
and a stone was laid over its mouth
and into the whale’s jaws
poured the blackness of darkness
and the mountains of the sea were silent.
And the serpent of death
glutted and imposing
stretched its victorious coils
round the sleeping world.
* * *
When they talk about me
this is all they will remember:
the scorn on my face
when I heard they had raised him
when they said he had been sighted
walking towards Emmaus
breaking bread and disappearing
amid quiet laughter.
Buoyed with renewed expectation
they floated together
and I stood alone on the seashore
and the stars of twilight twinkled
as the shadows gathered round me.
And whenever the story is told
they’ll laugh at me for not believing
though if you had been there with us
you’d have had your questions
and they all gathered round him
and I lingered at the edges
feeling faint with confusion and sadness
as the smell of frankincense and spikenard
filled the warm spring air.
And when the commotion settled
and the twelve spread apart
there he was
and he motioned me forward
and it wasn’t a ghost nor a trance
he was just as alive as he had been
three days before
and I had no idea how to account for that
because I had known all along he was going to die
and the best I could have hoped for was to die alongside him.
But when I saw the wrists
where the wounds of betrayal burned dully
when I dipped my hand in the well
where the waters of life had poured out
when I brushed the skin of my arms
against the hair on the back of his neck
the embers of injustice blew away into nothing
and bitterness exhausted itself and was silent.
Years from now
when my desire is finally granted
when my blood seeps over the barbaric stones
of some desolate isle
and my body grows cold and rigid
pierced by the four lances
I’ll stretch my stiffening sinews
Breathe a final prayer
And when death comes gliding over the seas to meet me
like a ghostly mirage of one I loved long ago
I’ll follow it fearless and undaunted
through the primordial depths
where the monsters of chaos will battle
until one comes to free them
and the dust of the tomb is plundered
and the relics are gathered from the shrines
and the bones are called out of the blackness.
And I’ll gaze on myself
and on them
as we gazed on him that night
credulous but believing
not understanding but no longer doubting
and we’ll walk together, tranquil and quiet,
on the shore of the sun-rimmed sea.
I read this great series of articles on the Write like Rowling website.
It’s based on the concepts presented in Larry Brooks’ book, Story Engineering.
In the section on story structure, Brooks says that in order to be successful, a story needs to have each of these five pivots:
- The first plot point, when the hero receives her marching orders and sets out on her journey
- The first pinch point, when the hero is given a reminder of the nature and power of the antagonistic forces arrayed against her
- The mid-point, when a crucial piece of information is discovered
- The second pinch point, which again reminds the hero of the antagonistic forces
- and the second plot point, the final injection of new information into the story that gives the book a kind of forward momentum as it speeds towards the end.
Brooks even tells us at what percentage of the way through the book each of these pivots needs to make its appearance.
The first plot point occurs 25 percent of the way through the story;
the first pinch point occurs 3/8ths of the way through the story;
the midpoint occurs at the midpoint;
the second pinch point occurs 5/8ths of the way through the story;
and the second plot point occurs 75 percent of the way through the story.
Interestingly, in Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone, Rowling lands four of these five pivots on the exact page they need to be on according to Brooks’ model of story structure (he excludes the prologue as not being part of the main plot). C. S. Plocher on the Write like Rowling website gives us a rundown:
Harry boards the Hogwarts Express on page 90 of the 259-page plot;
He gets his first glimpse of Snape (and, even more crucially, Quirrell’s turban) on page 126;
He realizes who has the Philosopher’s Stone at the end of chapter 9, exactly halfway through the book;
He catches Snape with a bloody leg 5/8ths of the way through the book.
The only exception is the final plot point (Harry realizing that Dumbledore has departed for London and the stone is going to be stolen), which is 25 pages later than it would normally be because Rowling is setting up a seven-volume fantasy series and has a lot of world-building to do. (Moreover, I would argue that the true second pinch point in the first novel is the scene with the unicorn in the Forbidden Forest).
So if I made it my goal to write a 300-page book:
the first plot point would occur on or around page 60;
the first pinch point would occur on page 113;
the mid-point would occur on page 150;
the second pinch point would occur on page 188;
and the final plot point would occur on page 225 (or perhaps a bit later in a story of this scope).
I have this crazy dream to write a novel according to a strict formula. In the past I always thought I could free-wheel it; but I’m realizing, I really love formulaic writing. It’s so structured. I love following the rules. I love learning the science and craft of storytelling.
* * *
Elizabeth Esther’s new memoir, Girl At the End of the World (Convergent, 2014) is an important book. But it’s also a hard book.
Hard for anyone still recovering from the trauma of being trapped in a fundamentalist cult.
For anyone who has lost loved ones to a twisted ideology masquerading as the one true religion.
For anyone who has ever tried to convince her fellow believers that yes, Christians can be sadistic and abusive and scary and cultish, only to be met with confusion and anger.
* * *
Near the beginning, Elizabeth likens her youth in a Christian end-times cult known as The Assembly to the experience of growing up in a mob family. “Except instead of killing people if they stopped cooperating, we just excommunicated them from our training homes. Religious fervor was all I knew, so my holy mob family felt normal.”
A mob family. I’d never thought about it, but that really is what it feels like.
Just as a thought experiment, I sometimes like to imagine how a cult member would react when shown a movie about a group of people doing the exact same horrible things that are being done in his group. Nine times out of ten I think the comparison would fly over his head, because the movie is about the evil World while the cult is about loving Jesus.
Yet it’s hard to imagine anyone in Goodfellas being as cruel to their family as Elizabeth’s family is to her in the course of this book.
Yes, fundamentalism really does erase people. And when it finds a perceptive, artistic, and free-spirited young woman with a passion for truth, beauty, and justice, a woman like Elizabeth Esther, it erases them harder. It can’t allow them to be themselves, because who they are is dangerous.
It’s true, no one was murdered in Elizabeth’s community, but in a way it doesn’t even matter. When you’re in a cult, everything you are is invalidated.
Your body. The women in her community are strictly policed to ensure that not a hint of curves is ever seen through their clothing. “Better to wear a shapeless sack,” she writes, “than risk clothing that suggests any shape whatsoever.”
Your gender and sexuality. In The Assembly, women have no say in how their own lives are directed. A woman belongs to her dad until she gets married, at which point she belongs to her husband.
Your faith. All forms of Christianity other than the kind practiced by The Assembly are viewed as illegitimate. Elizabeth’s dad sneers at the idea of “good Christians” in other denominations, calling them Pharisees. Anyone who begins to explore other traditions of faith is expelled from the community.
Your talents and passions. Elizabeth’s dad is unable to attend her swim meets because he’s too preoccupied with “issues of Eternal Significance.”
Your dreams for your life. For me the saddest moment in the whole book is when her parents force her to give up her dream job on the high school newspaper staff, effectively destroying her chances of going to a private college. Why? Because she’s not spending enough time doing chores around the house. You see, writing and getting an education and being fulfilled as a human aren’t nearly as important as “doing the Lord’s will.”
This is what it looks like when people are erased.
Yet the group continues to congratulate itself on its holiness. No one listens to secular music. No one drinks alcohol.
As the story winds on, as the catalogue of horrors and abuses grows ever longer, I begin to wonder what any of this has to do with being a Christian.
Take away the superficial religious trappings, and this becomes the story of a sick, twisted system where people were controlled and their personalities quenched of all light, all passion.
I begin to suspect that this is all it ever was: a predatory structure for the enslavement of other human beings. That’s its purpose, the thing it was designed to do.
And people submitted to it without question because they thought it was Jesus.
* * *
In an interview with my friend Teryn at the back of the book, Elizabeth elaborates on her eventual decision to become Catholic. Teryn asks her, “Do you see the Catholic Church as less abusive than Protestantism? . . . Do you feel safer now that you’re Catholic?”
Elizabeth says, “I’m glad I wasn’t the one who said that, because I attract enough controversy as it is! But yes, that is a great insight and I absolutely agree. In fact, this was a huge reason why I joined the Catholic Church. I felt absolutely safe there.”
And no wonder. For the first time in her life, she’s in a spiritual environment where the voice of God isn’t being mediated by some renowned pastor; where she can read the Bible on her own without the interpreting voices of authoritarian fundamentalism; where she can seek the wisdom and solace of Mother Mary without fear of rebuke.
This book affected me on a profound level. I read it in a single day, and for days afterwards I felt sick.
You see, I was in a group similar to Elizabeth’s, a group that was going to pray in the End Times and battle the forces of darkness. My best friend was allegedly murdered by the leader of our cult, a man we all trusted and revered as a spiritual leader. For five years he had been the primary authority interpreting the Scriptures for us. We were sincerely convinced that when we opened the Bible, we were seeing the “plain meaning of Scripture.” He had so colored our perceptions that we read his ideas back into the Bible and thought they were the words of God.
And so when Elizabeth says, “I’m going to the Catholic Church because I don’t know where else to find a way to God that feels safe,” I get that. More than anything else, I think that’s the reason I became Catholic.
Because the Church is a place where the voices of writers and artists and intellectuals and, yes, women, are welcomed and not stifled.
Because Jesus offers himself to us in the Eucharist and I can’t think of a more beautiful demonstration of love than to give us his physical presence.
Because for the first time in my life I’m in a place where mystery and mysticism and beauty and questions are encouraged and accepted. Where I am accepted, for who I am.
Because the beautiful crucified God, the God on a cross, the weak, suffering Messiah, gazes down at me from the crucifix at the front of the church, and I know that the mechanisms of power and control that enslaved me for years are brought to nothing in the presence of the God who became powerless.
And I’m so grateful to Elizabeth for putting words to that, for taking us on her journey out of the darkness of toxic religion and into the light of a faith that is warm and welcoming and stable and biblical and traditional and safe.
This is a brave book. Not an easy book to finish, but it’s worth it, because the hope at the end is brighter than the blackness of darkness that scarred her youth.
It’s a necessary book.
For anyone suffering under the shackles of dangerous Christianity.
For anyone who has a friend who’s enslaved and doesn’t know what to do about it.
For anyone who’s ever fled from a cult into the safe, warm arms of Catholicism.
A harrowing, disturbing, tremendously sad, yet ultimately redemptive book, illuminating, timely, and prophetic. The kind of book the Church needs to read, now more than ever. A true godsend.