Losing Her Religion: A Former Jehovah’s Witness on Leaving the Faith

Book review: Leaving the Witness, by Amber Scorah (Amazon / Book Depository) A Witness cannot just fade away without anyone trying to intervene, and it was hard to find enough mental space to gain any perspective. It’s not the kind of religion that lets you walk away, because the people in it think that by walking away, you have lost your mind and interventions will … Continue reading Losing Her Religion: A Former Jehovah’s Witness on Leaving the Faith

Inside the Investigation that Brought Down Warren Jeffs

Book review: Prophet’s Prey, by Sam Brower (Amazon / Book Depository) Private investigator Sam Brower found something unusual in Ross Chatwin, a former member of the the insular Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints (FLDS). Chatwin’s case, and Brower’s investigation into the religious sect that had excommunicated him, piqued his curiosity like no other investigation had. The FLDS is a fundamentalist Mormon offshoot with near-cultlike operations, … Continue reading Inside the Investigation that Brought Down Warren Jeffs

Living Through Scientology’s “Fair Game” Policy

Book review: The Unbreakable Miss Lovely, by Tony Ortega Amazon Journalist Paulette Cooper survived the Holocaust but she almost didn’t survive Scientology. That thought lingered while reading this biography and account of her years of harassment by the cultlike religion for daring to write honestly and critically about them. Her parents suffered persecution as Jews in Second World War Europe and Paulette was lucky enough … Continue reading Living Through Scientology’s “Fair Game” Policy

Weird, Wonderful Observations on Mysteries of Scandal, Fraud, Psychics, and Other Curiosities

Book review: Lost at Sea, by Jon Ronson Amazon So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed is one of those books that I haven’t been able to decide if I should read. But I knew as soon as I heard comedian Karen Kilgariff describe another of British journalist Jon Ronson’s books, Lost at Sea, that I had to read this one immediately. I love journalistic essays, especially ones dealing … Continue reading Weird, Wonderful Observations on Mysteries of Scandal, Fraud, Psychics, and Other Curiosities

A Light in the Darkest Places

Book review: The Only Girl in the World, by Maude Julien (Amazon / Book Depository) My father is convinced that the mind can achieve anything. Absolutely anything: it can overcome every danger and conquer every obstacle. But to do this requires long, rigorous training away from the impurities of this dirty world. He’s always saying, “Man is profoundly evil, the world is profoundly dangerous.” This … Continue reading A Light in the Darkest Places

The Prophet’s Daughter Tells Her Story

Book review: Breaking Free, by Rachel Jeffs (Amazon / Book Depository) I am not a victim, and I do not want anyone’s sympathy. I wrote this book to help others who have suffered from similar experiences, whether in the FLDS church, or in thrall to some other circumstance beyond their control. I want people to know that it is possible not only to overcome their … Continue reading The Prophet’s Daughter Tells Her Story

One Woman’s Story of Life in the FLDS

Book review: Escape, by Carolyn Jessop with Laura Palmer (Amazon / Book Depository) Instead of playing hide-and-seek as children, we played Apocalypse. When I saw that Rachel Jeffs, daughter of Warren Jeffs of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was releasing a memoir, Breaking Free, I figured I should tackle some of the other FLDS memoirs I’ve had on my reading list before getting any new ones. … Continue reading One Woman’s Story of Life in the FLDS

Inside a Manhattan New Age Cult

Book review: The Cult Next Door, by Elizabeth Burchard Amazon When cults make the news, it’s often because they’ve done something awful on a compound somewhere, or in the jungles of Guyana. This memoir shows the mesmerizing power of a cult close to home, one that forms in the heart of a major metropolis, in one of Manhattan’s poshest neighborhoods, and for decades ensnared members in a cycle of … Continue reading Inside a Manhattan New Age Cult

A Family’s Life After A Cult

Book review: In the Days of Rain, by Rebecca Stott “No one would guess that I was raised in a Christian fundamentalist cult or that my father and grandfather were ministering brothers in one of the most reclusive and savage Protestant sects in British history.” Rebecca Stott is the daughter of Roger Stott, a minister turned defector of the Exclusive Brethren, England’s branch of a separatist Christian … Continue reading A Family’s Life After A Cult

A Demagogue With Eerie Resonance Today

Book review: The Road to Jonestown, by Jeff Guinn Amazon Bestselling investigative journalist Jeff Guinn writes a comprehensive biography of Jim Jones and his infamous Peoples Temple cult, drawing heavily on interviews with former members and a wealth of Temple and FBI documents. Beginning with Jones’ parents and childhood in small-town Lynn, Indiana, and progressing via sections divided by the Temple’s successive locations in the United States and Guyana, the … Continue reading A Demagogue With Eerie Resonance Today

Tales of a Teen Rehab From Hell

Book review: The Dead Inside, by Cyndy Etler In the late 80s, Cyndy Etler seemed to be a fairly typical Connecticut teenager. Her real problem was abuse at the hands of her creepy French stepfather, which her mother noticed and ignored, leaving her daughter instead to struggle to defend herself. With that kind of frustration in her home life, it’s not surprising that she focussed on friendships that got … Continue reading Tales of a Teen Rehab From Hell

A Childhood in Polygamy

Book review: The Polygamist’s Daughter, by Anna LeBaron with Leslie Wilson (Amazon / Book Depository) Anna LeBaron is a daughter of Ervil LeBaron, the notorious polygamist Mormon cult leader whose sprawling family (she opens the prologue with, “At age nine, I had forty-nine siblings”) underwent a vicious divide as Ervil ordered the murders of those who questioned his leadership or defected from the cult. Much of the family … Continue reading A Childhood in Polygamy