Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Book Review: Girl at the End of the World by Elizabeth Esther

Girl at the End of the World: My Escape from Fundamentalism in Search of Faith with a FutureGirl at the End of the World: My Escape from Fundamentalism in Search of Faith with a Future by Elizabeth Esther
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was SO excited to receive my copy of Girl at the End of the World by Elizabeth Esther because her blog, along with Cindy Kunsman's, was a catalyst for my eyes being opened to the abuse going on within my own church.

Elizabeth Esther was brought up in a Fundamentalist Christian cult/sect called the Assembly which was founded by her grandfather. The Assembly was controlling, stiffling, condemning and abusive. Within the Assembly: Women were treated like second class citizens, Elizabeth (along with all the other Assembly children) was subjected to extreme corporal punishment until her teens, she lived in constant fear of the end of the world (stockpiling, rapture, antichrist, imagined government spies - it has it all), and (as it always seems to be in these crazy cults) the men dominated and controlled.

The book reads very well and I didn't want to put it down, even sneaking downstairs in the middle of the night to finish it. It also left me wanting more, and I hope that she is planning to expand on how she has coped with the PTSD and other issues that the cult left her with. Although my 'cultish' church was entirely different from EE's, I identify with the panic attacks and various issues with the Christian faith that have arisen from my experiences. Basically I want some coping tips!

My favourite quote is:

"And then I step back. All these men. All their talking and writing and preaching and arguing over Scripture interpretation, all of them sitting on my shelf making me break out in hives. T.Austin-Sparks, G.Campbell Morgan, Watchman Nee, George Whitefield, James Strong and his totally exhausting Bible concordance, Samuel Rutherford and his letters, Jonathan Edwards and his huge freak-outs about falling into the hands of an angry God. And then there was my grandfather George Geftakys, with his own self-published book, Testimony to Jesus.

Well, these men can just sit here on my shelf and argue with each other. I am done listening to their voices in my head. If I am going to find my way back to God, I will start from scratch. I will choose the way of the illiterate. I mean, if God is abounding in mercy and loving-kindness, then surely there is a way to God reserved especially for those who cannot read!

I want that way.

I am fed up with reading about God through the male perspective only. I want to experience the God who inspired me as a child, the God who found me long before I could comprehend a single word in my Bible.

I want to experience God pursuing me for once. I am tired of seeking, striving, and knock-knock-knocking on heaven's door. I no longer want to know that silent, capricious, harsh God who would just as soon throw me into the fires of hell as save me. I am challenging God to pursue me like someone who has never been exposed to the Bible.

Love me, God. I dare You.

(Page 172)

That resonates so deeply with me. 'Tired of...striving', yes. Jesus is my Sabbath rest.

I thoroughly recommend the book, even if you have never experienced an unhealthy church, it's a good read and an important wake-up call for those who think that cutting yourself off from 'the world' and submitting to a charismatic 'leader' will somehow protect you from evil. Jesus saves us from all the stuff and I am very wary of charismatic leaders I think they detract from where the real focus should be.

It'll make you cry and laugh too.

My mum loved the book too. Mum's quote. "And I thought we had it bad at our church - but at least I wasn't beaten until I got callouses on my bottom!"

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