Thursday, February 19, 2015

Church of Lies

By Flora Jessop and Paul T. Brown

This is the true story of Flora Jessop. It is a shocking and disheartening tale of polygamy, sexual abuse, virtual slavery, and religious coercion with threats of damnation for disobedience.
Flora was born into the FLDS cult, or the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The religious beliefs of this bizarre cult are strange and numerous and, not being an expert on the beliefs, I will not go into them in detail. Suffice it to say that every thing is run by the men, with females relegated to child bearing, child rearing, home care and obedience.
If I were to describe this religion, I would call it a form of sexual slavery disguised as religion. Women are required to be entirely subservient to the demands and desires of the men. And young men are required to be subservient to the demands and desires of the old men. All the power resides with the old men and, naturally, such an out-of-balance situation leads to abuses.
Flora herself was abused throughout her childhood by her own father, eventually resulting in a pregnancy in her early teen years. She tried to appeal to the state authorities for help but was simply returned to her family. She tried to appeal to her mother, but her mother was too worn out and downtrodden to stand up to the male authority figures. The mother was also captive of her own beliefs, namely that disobedience results in eternal damnation.
After Flora was forced to abort the baby, she was held captive by one of the cult's elders and eventually forced into marriage with a cousin. And, although it was a forced marriage, Flora realized it could be her ticket to freedom. So she agreed to the marriage, and with her new husband's cooperation, left him and the cult. He was a nice young man who liked Flora, and, for her sake, let her go.
Her new life in freedom got off to a rocky start. Never having been permitted freedom, she went off the deep end, using drugs and drinking too much. Her life was unrooted and she drifted from place to place and from man to man.
But one day she realized what she was doing to herself and got herself straightened out. She met a nice man, Tim, and they settled down in Phoenix, Arizona. And that is when she began to seriously try to help other cult fugitives escape from the FLDS.

This was a moving and terrifying story, incredible that this sort of thing is allowed to continue in the United States in the name of religious freedom. Flora is a courageous and energetic woman who was able to conquer her abusers and her own inclinations for self-destruction. It is hardly surprising that some one raised in those conditions would end up in a downward spiral. But Flora rose above all that and now helps other desperate children, women, and even men
escape from a cruel and destructive religious cult.

In Stitches

By Anthony Youn, M.D. and Alan Eisenstock

Born of Korean immigrant parents, Tony was expected from day one that he would be a doctor like his father. His father was an obstetrician but watching his father have to attend patients at all hours of the day and night soured Tony on obstetrics.
His Korean parents instilled in Tony a strong work ethic and getting good grades was never a problem for the intelligent youngster. However, Tony always felt like an outsider in school. Living in a smaller city, he was usually the only Asian in his classes. Plus, as he entered his teen years, he became even more different-looking than his peers. He was very tall, very thin, wore thick glasses and had a malformed jaw. Needless to say, he didn't date much in school.
After having jaw surgery and moving on to college, Youn had high hopes. Medical school was pretty much a given as Youn couldn't see himself disappointing his father. Youn's hopes were centered on something else: getting laid.  He was a lonely, horny guy and he desperately wanted a girl friend.
So this isn't just a story about a young man becoming a doctor. It is also about a young man's quest to find love.

This was an very enjoyable read.  Youn knows how to laugh at himself.  He paints a humorous picture of what was probably not all that much fun to live through. But underlying the humor is a story of determination and drive-to-succeed, professionally and personally.