Title: Beyond Belief: The Secret Lives of Women in Extreme Religions
Author: Susan Tive, Cami Ostman (editors)
Publication: Seal Press, 2013
Source: For review
I’ve never considered myself very religious, though I do have my own beliefs. Despite that, I’ve always been fascinated by extreme religions, and have devoured a number of memoirs about those who have escaped, one of my favorites being Stolen Innocence by Elissa Wall. I’ve always been curious about some of these cult-like religions, and found myself wondering how people could be seemingly brainwashed by their leaders. Of course, this thought process only applies to those very extreme religions such as the FLDS that Elissa Wall lived in. Anyway, after having read and enjoyed a number of these memoirs, I was very intrigued when I heard about Beyond Belief.
Beyond Belief compiles a number of short autobiographical essays from women who have lived in extreme religions. Their stories differ and some discuss how they first got involved in their religion, while others discuss how they decided to leave. Some stories were surprising and shocking, while others were touching and humorous. Each story was interesting, sharing many experiences that seemed odd to me, but seemed normal to the women who were practicing them at the time. I was more interested in how and why the women decided to leave their religions, so many of the stories in the first half of the book, which was mostly how they got involved, were not what I was expecting, but they were interesting nonetheless. They all helped shed a light on how people get pulled into these situations in the first place. I thought this book was very fair, neither condemning nor condoning, and simply telling, which I appreciated.
All in all, this was an interesting compilation of stories which opened my eyes a great deal to many religions that I knew nothing about. While I would have liked more stories about the women leaving the religions, it was all very interesting.
Do you think you might be interested in seeing what this book is all about? If so, please comment below with your email address and you’ll be entered in a giveaway for a paperback copy of the book! The winner will be drawn on September 9th via random.org. Please be at least 13 years of age and have a U.S. mailing address. Good luck!