Monday, October 28, 2013

I fired god by Jocelyn R. Zichterman

There is always something special about an autobiography from someone who has lived through times we can only dream of - or in some cases lived through a nightmare that we can only be thankful to have avoided.  This is especially true for me when I read autobiographies from people who have experienced difficult circumstances while growing up, whether it is abuse or neglect, or overcoming physical challenges that greatly limit their lives.  There is a certain sense of opening yourself up for criticism and being mocked, and for some people they risk their safety to share their story - as is the case with I fired God.

Jocelyn was raised in a Independent Fundamental Baptist cult - a story that is filled with moments of pain, torture, molestation, child abuse, and religious indoctrination.  This is a bravely told and very personal story, one that was at times difficult to read because it seems impossible that a supposedly Christian faith could accept, promote, and allow acts of child abuse and intimidation.  The story unfolds in a measured way as Jocelyn describes her childhood growing up, the molestation at the hands of her brothers and father, the indoctrination into the faith, the beatings to break their spirits so they can be saved in the faith, and the unjustness of a patriarchal "society" where a woman is supposed to submit to the will of the men in her lives.  The description is not unique to the Independent Fundamental Baptist cult, but it is a little chilling to know that in this day and age that children are denied their basic rights and are placed at such risk for long term emotional and physical harm.

One of the most telling parts of Jocelyn's memoir is when she and her husband break away from the cult and try and begin a new life - how they are hounded, threatened, and pushed to the brink of financial disaster because of the actions of the cult.  It is clear that some of the intimidation tactics came about because Jocelyn spoke out against them and collected together information from other survivors, but it also clear that they would have done what they could to "get her" anyway because of the kind of man her father was. 

This is not an easy read in any sense of the word - yet I am grateful that Jocelyn has shared her story because she has become a voice for thousands of people who have been raised in a cult from childhood with no protection from the system of the American government.  I have read several fiction stories lately for teenagers raised in fundamental faiths and I thought they were exaggerating the amount of freedom given to these religious groups due to their "rights" to practice their faith - rights which completely overshadow the rights of the children to grow up safe and secure in their family home.  The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child are just as valid as the right to religious freedom, and Jocelyn has set forward some clear and simple solutions to protect the child as well as respecting peoples individual rights to their faith.

This book will not appeal to everyone, and there are no doubt some people who will think that this book is a bunch of rubbish, but I highly recommend it.  Take your time reading I fired God and take a break when you need to.  If you read this book and want to read other stories from people who have lived through difficult experiences and trauma, then try:
  • Child C: Surviving a foster mothers reign of terror by Christopher Spry
  • Punished by Vanessa Steel
  • Etched in sand by Regina Calcaterra
  • A child named It by Dave Pelzer
  • Stolen innocence by Elissa Wall
  • Parents who kill by Carol Anne Davis
  • Banished: Surviving my years in the Westboro Baptist Church by Lauren Drain
  • When rabbit howls by Truddi Chase
  • The little prisoner: A memoir by Jane Eliott
  • Beyond belief: My secret life inside Scientology and my harrowing escape by Jenna Miscavige Hill
  • Sickened: The memoir of a Munchausen by Proxy Childhood by Julie Gregory

Reviewed by Brilla

1 comment: