October 26, 2005
Land, A Memoir
memoir by a California journalist of her childhood with cruel, brutal
Christian fundamentalist parents is profoundly revealing and
moving on many levels.
It's not meant as a political commentary, but one can't help continually
comparing the public hypocrisy of the Christian right with the private
Hell that Julia Scheeres endured, along with her adopted brothers, at
the hands of "Jesus loving" parents who were -- in effect
-- "God fearing" child abusers.
Julia's voice in the book is one of a survivor who has come to terms, as best she can, with the unfathomable dichotomy of being reared in a home that was devoutly pious and unbearably violent and unforgiving. The book is true, she assures us at the beginning. But after reading it, you would sleep more comfortably if it were fiction.
some time, BuzzFlash has been honoring a Republican as the "GOP
Hypocrite of the Week." We had contemplated also developing
an award for "Religious Hypocrite of the Week." At times --
it is true -- the categories overlap. But it is rare to find a Bushevik-associated
fundamentalist who is not a hypocrite. Not all of them are guilty of
the physical cruelty that Julia and her brothers endured in the name
of Jesus, but most of them are dysfunctional sinners and hypocrites who
believe in absolutism in concept, while deviating from the religious
ideals they preach in their own personal behavior. And they are mostly
mean, nasty, psychologically abusive dogmatics.
On another website,
a reviewer noted: "'Life may not be fair,'
says Scheeres toward the end of this marvelous remembrance of her adopted
brother, David, 'but when you have someone to believe in, life can be
managed, and sometimes, even miraculous.' What a miracle that Jesus Land's
lovable duo - bound together by the pain of childhood in an Indiana home
ruled by loveless religious zealots - survived their grueling stint at
Escuela Caribe, a Dominican Republic reform school/holy-rolling nuthouse
that nearly sucked dry their fragile teenage souls. In a spare voice
teeming with furious dignity, Scheeres recounts that awful period as
she honors David, a gentle, goofy black youngster whose restraint in
the face of racism and religious bigotry both inspired and humbled her.
Jesus Land will break your heart and mend it again, but it won't! stop
haunting you. Grade: A"
Scheeres is unflinchingly courageous and candid in artfully allowing us into the nightmare of her childhood and teen years. It is an invitation that every BuzzFlash reader who wants to witness what goes on inside some fundamentalist homes should accept. Scheeres knows how to keep the book from being so horrifying that you can't read it, because she never stops believing in the power of living for and connecting with good people who she cares for, particularly her doomed brother David, to whom the book is dedicated.