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Search tags: Memoirs
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review 2018-05-16 04:01
Beyond Belief
Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape - Jenna Miscavige Hill,Sandy Rustin,Lisa Pulitzer

A few things I believe about Scientology:

 

1. L. Ron Hubbard was a con man and this was the ultimate con. He laughed all the way to the bank.

 

2. Dave Miscavige is an egomaniac and he beats his employees. 

 

3. Dave's wife has been missing for over a decade, only heard from through a lawyer, and I'm pretty sure she's dead.

 

4. I feel really bad for people that actually believe in this "religion". And that's coming from someone who believes in the invisible sky daddy. 

 

Jenna's story was so awful that at times it was hard to believe. But then you look up stories of people that escaped this cult and you learn it's an all-too-common tale. From working like a mule her whole childhood to having no true education to the constant paranoia that is the self-policing of Scientology, it was one huge nightmare. I mean, just saying you wanted to call the police was enough to get you a High Crime. A High Crime! They could beat you senseless (which they have done before) and if you say you are calling the authorities, you become the enemy.

 

I'm glad Jenna escaped. I was disappointed her husband wasn't so easy to convince to leave, but I am happy he did eventually go with her. I think books like this need to be shared so that others do not fall prey to cults. As Jenna herself said, Scientology may say to think for yourself, but it encourages the opposite. Brainwashing at its finest.

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review 2018-05-13 20:01
Read this
Hunting the Truth: Memoirs of Beate and Serge Klarsfeld - Serge Klarsfeld,Beate Klarsfeld
If you live outside of Europe, you might not have heard of the Klarsfelds - Serge and Beate (or Beate and Serge), a wife and husband who are responsible for bringing several Nazi war crimnals to trial. Serge is a French man whose family is Jewish and whose father died in the Holocaust. Beate is a German whose father fought for Germany in WW II. The memoir's early section deals with the early lives of both and thier eventual meeting courting. The bulk of the book is about the journey to activisim and pursuit of justice. Told by alternating voices in different sections, the primary focus is on thier work, though thier love for their family shines. Well worth the read, and the couple should win the Nobel Peace Prize.
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text 2018-05-13 20:00
Living the Liberal Arts
Testament of Youth - Vera Brittain

I work at a university. Over the past year, we've been working with a new strategic plan, as an organization, and the first, most vital point of that plan has been a discussion of liberal arts, a passion area for me. Far too much is happening, and there are far too many ideas to discuss here - plus, I want to tie this column directly to a book - so I'm going to narrow in. 

 

I talk a lot with my students about the value of liberal arts (liberal, I remind them, in this case means "broad," not necessarily "left"). The specific, tangible benefits of liberal arts often need to be enumerated, because they're less obvious than in the professional or vocational disciplines. But every scholar of the liberal arts know that the intangible benefits of the education are where your heart goes.

 

Sometimes, in my reading, I run across some statement that makes me sit up and say, "Yes! This is liberal arts. This is what happens when you open yourself up broadly to the gifts of learning." I'm going to quote a few sentences from Vera Brittain's "Testament of Youth" here. Her moving memoir is a bildungsroman from a female (before the late 20th century, not a common thing at all), and a profound meditation on what happened to the youth of Britain, an entire generation decimated and affected primally and permanently by The Great War.

 

With students investing so much in their educations these days, words like these help us and inspire us to continue the good fight for liberal arts:

 

(If you're following along at home, this is from pages 30-31of the 1934 American edition, published by Macmillan.)

 

"I suppose it was the very completeness with which all doors and windows to the more adventurous and colourful world, the world of literature, of scholarship, of art, of politics, of travel, were closed to me, that kept my childhood so relatively contented a time. Once I went away to school and learnt--even thought from a distance that filled me with dismay--what far countries of loveliness, and learning, and discovery, and social relationship based upon enduring values, lay beyond those solid provincial walls which enclosed the stuffiness of complacent bourgeoisdom so securely within themselves, my discontent kindled until I determined somehow to break though them to the paradise of sweetness and light which I firmly believed awaited me in the south." 

 

-cg

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review 2018-05-13 03:57
This is just my face
This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare - Gabourey Sidibe

I apparently have a lot in common with Gabourey. I, too, have crippling anxiety, depression, had bariatric surgery, recovered from an eating disorder, and went through my parents' divorce. I'm also too funny for my own good and tend to offend others with my humor.

 

Read this book. She's THE BOMB, to quote Obama.

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review 2018-05-07 16:11
Forgiveness In The First Degree (True Crime Account) by Rondol Hammer & Phillip Robinson, with Margot Starbuck
Forgiveness In The First Degree - Rondol Hammer,Phillip Robinson,Margot Starbuck

The gun was never supposed to go off. When a drug dealer assured twenty-nine-year-old Ron Hammer and his brother-in-law that they could make some quick easy money, they were intrigued. He promised them that when a local grocer delivered a bag of money to his store to cash Friday paychecks, they only needed to show him a gun and he d hand over the bag. But high on meth and dulled by liquor, they ended up in a scuffle with their target, and the gun accidentally fired. And when Phillip Robinson rushed from the shelves he d been stocking to investigate the commotion at the front of the store, he saw his father lying on the sidewalk, dying. The lives of Ron Hammer and Phillip Robinson, whose paths should only have ever crossed at the grocery checkout line, became inextricably linked by one foolish decision that would shatter a web of lives. Over three decades the two men came to discover not only that they both needed to be set free, but that in God s unlikely economy of redemption their liberation was bound up with one another. Like the famous prodigal son and his dutiful older brother, the moving story of Phillip Robinson and Rondol Hammer reveals how two men wrestling with law and grace discover unlikely redemption. 

~from back cover

 

 

 

 

POTENTIAL TRIGGER WARNING: This book discusses the topics of attempted suicide, murder and otherwise extreme violence (mainly in the form of prison stories that describe scenes of eyes being gouged out and ears bitten off)

 

In 1986, twenty-seven year old auto mechanic & Vietnam veteran Ron Hammer, high on meth, carries out armed robbery at a local grocery store. In the process, Ron unintentionally kills the father of the store's assistant manager, Phillip Robinson. Hammer, along with his brother-in-law / robbery accomplice / fellow meth addict, flees the scene with the money. Though he evades escape for a time, Ron is eventually caught and sent to prison. The prison sentence forces him to quit meth cold turkey. It is also there in prison that he finds religion, leading him to the decision to approach the Robinson family with his honest apology for his irreversible actions. 

 

Though at the time of Ron's initial attempt at apology Phillip is a practicing Christian and aspiring pastor, the road to forgiving Ron proves to be a decades long journey. It is not until 1994 that Phillip finds himself ready to honestly hear Ron out on the topic of forgiveness. Once at that place, though, Phillip discovers the blessing that comes in the form of an emotional weight lifted he didn't even entirely realize he was carrying!

 

The format of this book alternates between Ron's point of view of the events, and then Phillip's. As far as the flow of the writing itself, I found Ron's portions of the story more compelling. When it came to Phillip's portions... him losing his father in such a violent way is undeniably tragic, but from a sheer matter of reading enjoyment, something about Phillip's portions came off as more boring and preachy. Not surprising, I suppose, as Phillip IS a preacher, but I'm just sharing the truth of my reading experience. 

 

Still, this story is an important one to be shared because look at the message it presents: a man finds it in his heart to bestow honest forgiveness on the man who murdered his father. If a person can do that, it makes any other seemingly "unforgiveable" dealbreaker-type situation easily traversable, doesn't it? There are also takeaways from the perspective of Ron: one can come back from a life thrown into a tailspin via drug addiction and go on to have a powerful testimony of a life bound to help others out of their emotional mires. The book definitely gives you material to think on. 

 

NOTE: This book does give spoilers for the film The Outlaw Josie Wales and Victor Hugo's novel Les Miserables

 

FTC Disclaimer:  Blue Ridge CWC and FaithHappenings Publishers kindly provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The opinions above are entirely my own. 

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