I wish I could tell you that I have surveyed the literature and found the best of the best resources to share with you – but I haven’t been able to do that. My life has been too busy to do much reading. I invite you to send me titles and resources that have been helpful to you. Would you do that?
Please send your suggestions to dierdre at howtorecoverfromfundamentalism.com. Would you also give me one or two sentences why you think they would be helpful to recovering fundamentalists?
I’ll tell you what I can about resources, though, and maybe point you in some directions that you will find helpful. I will find them helpful, too, once I have time to read the ones I haven’t yet!! Since we’re trying to live full lives (and get past our focus just on religion), these resources will reflect other areas besides recovering from fundamentalism, too.
UNDERSTANDING FUNDAMENTALISM, THE BIBLE, AND POLITICS – primary sources
- James Fowler’s Stages of Faith: The Psychology of Human Development and the Quest for Meaning
- Goldberg, Michelle, Kingdom Coming – The Rise of Christian Nationalism, (W. W. Norton & Company: NY), 2006 – picks up from where Holy Terror leaves off.
- Hedges, Christopher, American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America (and his other books)
- Rogers, Carl – assorted books, intra-personal psychology
- Sargant, William, Battle for the Mind – A Physiology of Conversion and Brain-Washing – How Evangelists, Psychiatrists, Politicians, and Medicine Men can change your beliefs and behavior, (Major Books: MA), 1959, re-issued in 1997.
- Sharlet, Jeff, The Family – The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power (HarperCollins: NY), 2008
- Sharlet, Jeff, C Street – The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy, (Little, Brown and Company: NY), 2010
- Spong, John Shelby, Liberating the Gospels
- Spong, John Shelby, Here I Stand (autobiography)
- Spong, John Shelby, The Sins of Scripture – Exposing the Bible’s Texts of Hate to Reveal the God of Love.
- Winell, Marlene, Leaving the Fold (psychologist)
See more below under the category, “Recovering fundamentalist.”
ALPHABETICAL CATEGORIES OF RESOURCES
- I was privileged to attend a Byron Katie weekend (www.theWork.com). At one point, “Katie” asked how many in the audience of several hundred had either had an abortion or had someone close to them who had an abortion. What seemed like a majority of hands went up. What resources are out there to assist our sisters who have had – or will have – an abortion? An attorney friend who is highly involved in the ethics of climate change issues believes that abortion is a moral act – because we can’t keep bringing too many children into this world. That’s another way to think about it, no?
- Check out Dr. Andrew Tartarsky’s book, Harm Reduction Psychotherapy: A New Approach for Drug and Alcohol Problems. (Not having read the book, I don’t know if it is more geared toward counselors or individuals, but I had a brief conversation with Dr. Tartarsky and was impressed.)
- Would someone review www.thefix.com and tell me your thoughts on its helpfulness to a recovering fundamentalist?
- One thing I’m doing this year is to dwell with one entry a day in a desk calendar from the NY Metropolitan Museum of Art. What makes the picture, the sculpture, the fabric…great art? I don’t have a background to be able to answer that question with any degree of sophistication – but I can find within myself what I notice and respond to – and I’m surprising myself at times.
- Hmmm, my eyes gravitated to the art league’s description of an upcoming series of classes in acrylic paint, open to teenagers, too (which makes me feel better): Will I have the time (and the courage) to sign up for that course, come summer? It’s a thought, but I’m uncertain right now. On the other hand, it’s probably only 6 sessions….
- See what other lives are like. What can we learn from them? Meet friends in books. One friend told me that for every 4 books he gets from the library, 1 is a biography or autobiography.
- I just finished the book about Ben Franklin’s sister, Jane. Want to see what it’s like when there’s poverty and no contraception and no opportunities for women and terrible loss through tuberculosis? There you have it. Jill Lapore’s Book of Ages.
- Erikson, Erik, In the Shadow of Fame: A Memoir of the Daughter of Erik Erikson, by Sue Erikson Bloland. Maybe we could be said to grow up in the shadow of fame, too – the fame of a divinity.
- Erik Erikson, The Life Cycle Completed
- Dan Cozort, co-editor, Journal of Buddhist Ethics, said that these authors give Buddhism a more human face: Thich Nhat Hanh, Stephen Batchelor, Thupten Chodron, and Lama Surya Das.
- You might enjoy the Dalai Lama’s desk calendar, available at Amazon.
- Michie, David, Buddhism for Busy People
- Odan.org – Opus Dei awareness network
- We need some titles here.
- Why? Because this is the only home we know that we have. Things are getting more and more serious, and our media isn’t sounding the alarm for the most part. Half of our politicians have their heads in the sand and supposedly don’t even believe in climate change due to human-produced greenhouse gases.
- Countdown – Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth, by Alan Weisman – to be released 5/6/2014.
- There are tons of publications, YouTube videos, and books out there. Go exploring.
- www.climatecentral.org is one place to get started.
- I’m thankful for the many young people working for the health of the earth and survival of our race.
- Why? This world is our home, so why not get involved with it? Let’s become world citizens.
- The Week magazine, summaries of major stories, different perspectives
- Diane Rehm Show, www.drshow.org – carried on many public radio stations or listen anytime on-line
- Democracy Now, Amy Goodman
- BBC and Al Jazeera – TV news
- MSNBC-TV, progressive politics
- I wonder if Jonathan Haidt’s book, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion, might be of interest here. If you have a chance to read it, perhaps you could tell me what you think.
- Read good fiction. Avoid fiction that is distracting, that just fills up time but doesn’t deliver anything life-affirming. Here’s one book I really liked this past year: The Cellist of Sarajevo, by Steven Galloway – lots to think about. I read it twice and could read it again. You would like it…the human spirit under siege and what happens to individuals and to society.
- A friend who is a literature teacher told me that I’d enjoy My Name is Asher Lev, by Chaim Potok, after I told her how I’d related to Potok’s book The Chosen, for growing up in a fundamentalist household. I just ordered the Asher Lev book.
- I just listened to The Modern Scholar’s class, “The Giants of French Literature,” from the local library. The professor was great, Katherine L. Elkins of KenyonCollege, and I was introduced to Balzac, Flaubert, Proust, and Camus. Loved it! I’d like to read them all under her guidance here.
- Frank, Thomas, One Market Under God – Extreme Capitalism, Market Populism, and the End of Economic Democracy, (Random House: NY), 2000.
- I just discovered the website, www.edge.org, and know that there’s much here that I would like to explore. If you mosey around there, please point out any articles that you think would be helpful to recovering fundamentalists.
- …to be a gay or lesbian youngster in a fundamentalist family… that is one tough road for our sisters and brothers…suicides not unknown … where is the poet for this subject?
- Helpful books?
- Somewhere in your past, there were non-fundamentalist people, some of whom you could identify with and like. Developing a sense of history with your own ancestors can help you feel like you belong to a family, even if none walk this earth now.
- Want help in developing these feelings? Send a saliva sample to www.23andme.com (or maybe www.ancestry.com). A second cousin found me that way. You have lots of relatives who aren’t fundamentalist. You are part of the human family, and we are all related. You and I are related, if we go back far enough. You have a place on this earth, and so do I.
- Why? Because many of us were used to sugary desserts at church meetings but did not hear much about sugar addiction or depression relating to sugar lows or about honoring our bodies with healthy nutrition. Change over to organic vegetables and protein, with low amounts of carbs. When you are 70, wouldn’t you like to look back and know that you laid a good foundation for health?
- Peruse the books in a health food store, or do a search for “low-carb cook books,” “candida diet cookbooks.” Look into a VitaMix blender.
- Did you know that one Big Mac has more salt in it than a typical indigenous person ate in a year? My eyes were opened to salt in Jared Diamond’s book, The World Until Yesterday. When native folk turned to a Western diet, the salt promoted cardiovascular disease, and the sugar, diabetes. Check out the Paleo diet books. I have become a real salt watcher, and have gotten some real surprises. There are not many processed foods that don’t have too much salt, at least for me.
- Check out the Dirty Dozen at www.ewg.org. What conventional foods can be eaten, and which foods should only be eaten organically?
- In your home, avoid toxins. Skip the air fresheners and the conventional cleaning products. Use old fashioned vinegar, baking soda, Borax, etc. Make your home fragrance-free. Go to hypoallergenic laundry products. You might check out Annie B. Bond’s book, Better Basics for the Home, for recipes of homemade cleaning products. Turn back the clock from 21st century chemicals as best you can. Avoid plastics.
- Look into reverse osmosis water filtration, plus a dechlorination unit for public water. Add electrolytes to reverse osmosis water.
- Get out in nature. Exercise. Be silent. Contemplate the native Americans who walked on this land before you.
- Here’s one thing that appeals to me: A friend gave me her no-longer-needed digital camera, with some lessons. Alas, I’ve forgotten just about everything, but I’d like to teach myself from basic photography books, slowly. The line from an Emily Dickinson poem resonates in my head about a plant about to flower, “Creator, shall I bloom?” What if I learn how to take pictures of buds, and labeled the best of the pictures with that line? I’d really enjoy that. Then, later on, when I was ready, I could graduate to another line of poetry and another subject for photography. That’s the way I’d like to learn how to take pictures with my fancy camera. I’ve heard that you learn to see nature in a new way as you gain proficiency with a camera.
- Start an organic garden, using heirloom seeds. Explore native plants. Check out GMO foods. There are plenty of books. Here’s one: Bringing Nature Home – How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants, Douglas W. Tallamy
- Raise butterflies! What fun!
Butterflies need our help, especially monarchs (see www.monarchwatch.com). Plant milkweed for monarchs and dill for black swallowtails. Plant next low-hanging bushes, so the caterpillars have a place to climb to when it’s time to spin their cocoons. Or, keep a terrarium for the caterpillars. Put fresh milkweed and dill in the terrarium (placing the stems in a plastic dish with a cover and just a small “x” cut for the stems – so the caterpillars don’t fall into the water and drown). Put a plastic needlepoint sheet (from a craft store) covering the top of the terrarium, with a book over half the top (for shade). The caterpillars will climb up and attach themselves under the book and spin their cocoons. When they hatch, let them fly free.
- What are the experiences of recovering fundamentalists from other religions? One person to check out is Irshad Manji.
- The book, The Reluctant Fundamentalists, by Mohsin Hamad, shows a world of limited choices. We can be grateful that our world has room for imagination and wider choices.
- Sand, Shlomo, The Invention of the Jewish People
Love and protect an animal
- I remember reading a line about pigs, once….something about all they want is what we want – a mate, a home, being able to raise a family, food … and then to catch an occasional horrible clip about the treatment of hogs in factory farms and slaughter houses. As one friend says, there aren’t enough windows to scream out of. Did you know that our government passed a law that said if you go into, say, a slaughter house to report on the abusive treatment of animals, you can be charged as a terrorist. You heard that right, as a terrorist – and jailed for years. Not enough windows….
- My sweet little dog…who sleeps now with her ancestors …
- I had an amazing experience this past year. A friend invited me to an Itzhak Perlman concert. The music was Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5. We had good seats, so that we could get a good view of Perlman. Since his eyes were mostly closed when he was playing, I figured I’d close my eyes, too, to listen. My goodness! I was carried to another world. It was such a beautiful world. No problems, no climate change issues – just beautiful beyond words. My eyes started to fill up, and the tears began to run down my face…like I was grieving for a beautiful earth without all the problems.
But there I was, in a symphony hall, and I couldn’t go bawling my eyes out. So I opened them, and the tears stopped. Then I closed them again, and the music drew me in, and my eyes overflowed again. So I opened my eyes and came back to the concert hall. Then I closed them, and the tears started again. After that, I figured I would listen to Beethoven with my eyes closed in my own living room where I could have a good cry alone. But what an experience of being transported by music! I had read that Beethoven’s music was a gift of loveliness. I had read that when some famous composer died, his last words were, “Beethoven……Beethoven.” And what do I know of Beethoven’s music? Next to nothing. I’m virgin territory to learn about music. What about you? I was thinking of the Sabbath. That’s what I will do when I start taking a day off…my self-education in music. Lying on the floor. Surrounded by music that celebrates life. Walking in nature, sitting looking at a lake, with that music resonating in my inward parts… and then going off to photograph a budding flower. A perfect day, with all the colors, and the breeze, and the smells of nature, and the sunshine, and the butterflies and the bees….Beethoven… Beethoven.
- I know I want to get the recording Perlman did with cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot, Eternal Echoes – Songs and Dances for the Soul.
- When I can, I check in with www.booktv.org – Cspan 2 on weekends, for Book-TV. So many interesting authors! So many books I wish I had time to read! Meet me there. You can also listen on your computer after the programs. Check out the Archives.
- I should like to read the new biography of Woodrow Wilson. From documentation I was sent, the anti-semitism charges floating around him were baseless.
- Xiaobo, Liu, No Enemies. No Hatred – cannot be read in China. Xiaobo has been imprisoned and awarded the Nobel Prize while in prison.
- The Humanist, www.thehumanist.com
- Free Inquiry, www.secularhumanism.org
- In These Times, www.inthesetimes.com
- Mother Jones, www.motherjones.org
- The Progressive, www.progressive.org
- The Sun, www.thesunmagazine.org – literary magazine
- “How do you know a good poem?” asked Emily Dickinson? “when the top of your head comes off.” Good poetry can deepen your human spirit and make you feel part of the world community. You can meet kindred spirits through poetry. That said, I’m not no guide to good poetry, though I have the desire to learn myself.
Did you know that when she was in college, Emily Dickinson stood up to her college president at Mount Holyoke against getting converted, as a big revival was sweeping the country?
- I recently went to a poetry reading by a black woman on slavery. I remember the kicker at the end of one of her poems, how the white mistress was lamenting that her life would change because of financial reverses. Oh really? Compare that with how her enslaved servant’s life changed. But of course, the mistress was oblivious. I recalled Solzhenitsyn’s words in A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich: “How can a man who is warm understand one who is cold?” Poetry can help us to understand.
- Katherine, Anne, Boundaries – Where You End and I Begin, (Simon & Schuster: NY), 1991 (or similar books on boundaries)
- May, Rollo, Psychology and the Human Dilemma
- Karen, Robert, Becoming Attached: First Relationships and How They Shape Our Capacity to Love
Recovering from fundamentalism books, in addition to the ones at the top of the list (most of which I have not read and so cannot vouch for their usefulness):
- Barker, Dan, Godless
- Carrier, Richard, Sense and Goodness without God; Why I Am Not a Christian
- Gore, Al, Escape from Reason
- Hitchens, Christopher, The Portable Atheist
- Hitchens, Christopher, God Is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything
Lauritzen, Bill, The Invention of God
- Loftus, John, Why I Became an Atheist
- Loftus, John, The Christian Delusion
- Mark, Jeffrey, Christian No Longer
- I just listened to a CD for the book, Gilgamesh, translated by Stephen Mitchell. Gilgamesh is an epic, the first human writing, discovered in the ruins of Nineveh. The flood account in Gilgamesh predates Noah’s flood. I listed to the epic tale, and then I listened to the essay that Stephen Mitchell wrote about Gilgamesh. Mitchell opened up the epic to me. Mitchell is married to Byron Katie, www.theWork.com.
- Porteus, Skipp, Jesus Doesn’t Live Here Anymore: From Fundamentalist to Freedom Writer
- Raymo, Chet, When God Is Gone, Everything Is Holy
- Walker, Barbara G, Man Made God
- Yurica, Kathryn, Bloodguilty Churches
- Zuckerman, Phil, Society Without God: What the Least Religious Nations Can Tell Us About Contentment (Scandinavian)
- You might find something, quite unexpectedly, that lights your fire and resonates with your core. For example, maybe a life experience awakens you to something that you never thought of before and that maybe you can make a contribution to. That happened to me when I heard indirectly about how poor the prison libraries were at two institutions. Maybe they are poor at all prison libraries, for all I know.
Anyway, I have been nosing around to see what I could learn. One thing led to another to another to another. I don’t know where the journey will end. I do know one thing: There’s a special place in my heart for those locked up. I wasn’t ever in a prison, but I know how it feels to have been locked up and behind bars separating me from the world. My mind wasn’t free to value books back then, but I can see what I can do to get some books to those whose minds may be free but have nothing interesting to read so that they can grow, even behind bars.
- Recently I heard MK Asante, the author of Buck: A Memoir speak. It was an amazing evening as he shared how he went from being a rebellious kid, kicked out of the Philadelphia school system, to turning his life around. He mentioned how he speaks now at juvenile detention centers and how many of the young guys tell him that his book turned their lives around, too. His comment, after telling us of one such visit to a secure center, where the young men had committed violent crimes? “I left with a heavy heart, knowing that they were just kids” (and their lives were ruined). And later, “It’s poverty.”
- www.ffrf.org – Freedom from Religion Foundation
- Have you found recovery-from-fundamentalism websites that have been useful to you? Please share them with me, along with a sentence or two about why you feel they are valuable to recovering fundamentalists.
- Ethical Humanist Society – If there’s no local meeting, try to attend a conference here and there, read their literature.
- Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), Friends General Conference (FGC) – Of the three divisions in the Friends, the other two are evangelical. FGC is the silent meeting Friends, usually more progressive, especially in a large metropolitan area.
- Unitarian-Universalist meeting – See if there is a book discussion group.
- I tried a library book discussion group at the library but couldn’t get into that. My main groups, that I was in and out of, a few years here, a few years there, then nothing, then back to the first group, then nothing, then back to the second group – that sort of thing – were the Unitarian-Universalists and the silent-meeting Quakers (the Religious Society of Friends). If I had known about a local Ethical Humanist Society, I would have tried that, too. In an urban area, Quakers can be quite progressive, but many groups – and some Quakers within progressive groups – are evangelical, even having ministers. There is a subgroup of Quakers that are non-theist. My guess is that there are a lot of former evangelicals among Quakers, too. Your needs and wants will change as you grow. When I left the church, I gravitated more towards emotional warm at a local group. Later, I was more interested in growth. Still later, I was more interested in working together on certain justice issues. Now, I don’t go anywhere. I’m writing, and a group would be a distraction. The point is, be open to life’s evolving processes, even while recognizing what you need at different times in your life – and link up with a group or not as appropriate for your life. If you have children, you have more to think about than yourself here.
Here are some things I gained from my sojourns with the various groups:
With the Catholic services, I felt anonymous, that I could just sit there and be. It was peaceful and healing. My self wasn’t the object of the preacher’s agenda. This seemed to be a more progressive Catholic church.
With the United Methodist services, I learned about justice concerns and that a minister could be poetic.
With the Friends Meeting, I connected with the silence within me and appreciated not having a church service, just an hour for listening to the inner voice, in community with others. Quakers have time and are not running around, though they are certainly engaged with justice issues.
With the Unitarians, I appreciated the engagement of the people with life, their involvement in learning, in justice issues, their curiosity. There is less religious language here, with all sorts of beliefs and non-beliefs represented. A lot of former fundamentalists find their way to the Unitarians, many times through filling out a BeliefNet questionnaire.
I’ll mention another group, which I visited once as a fundamentalist but which impressed me: a progressive Jewish synagogue, where the rabbi’s talk was not only interesting, but afterwards everyone gathered around a table to discuss it, challenging, expanding, whatever, as equals. That was eye-opening.
Sometimes linking up with one of these – or other – groups of people can serve the emerging recovering fundamentalist well. You may not be ready to join in a justice-issues group. You may need to sit and lick your wounds in silence for awhile. That’s ok, too. But don’t do nothing. Sitting at home, depressed, makes no sense and will get you nowhere fast.
Whatever congregations I participated in, I always had the feeling that I was walking down my own road, taking from the left and from the right as would enhance my life, but maintaining control of my life. I was finished looking for “answers” out there, whether in mainstream religion, Buddhism, whatever. My answers would be within myself, though I would be open to outside experience and to learning from others.
Now I go to a couple of activities here and there, like a book discussion group at the Unitarians and meetings at a local humanist group.
Other areas of exploration
As I have thought about this website and done the legwork, I am aware of multiple avenues of exploration that could shed light on my or other ex-fundies’ experiences. Some subjects that were left out of the above resources include:
- PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Abuse literature
- Cult deprogramming
- Afro-American emancipation literature
- Higher Criticism of the Bible, for laypeople, beyond the few books noted above (Erdmann, Spong)
- History of religion
- Economic behaviorism
- Frontiers of the Information Age
- Awakening intuition
- Alternatives to AA, which is based in fundamentalism
This will be a growing section – Please visit again and send me your suggestions!
Dierdre at howtorecoverfromfundamentalism.com