- Paperback: 297 pages
- Publisher: William Morrow; New edition edition (23 Nov 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0688170129
- ISBN-13: 978-0688170127
- Product Dimensions: 2 x 14.5 x 23.4 cm
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 713,833 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Miriam's story is filled with regret and apologies for her involvement, but it is honest. I about cheered for her when she finally stood up for herself and her family and said "I'm out of here!" She joined as a high schooler and was in the cult for 15 years. Though only a few years of that were spent as an official prostitute, the entire story reads as one long journey of sexual repression at the hands of a group that seems more obsessed with deviance the further along it gets (something else she addresses quite well). Sadly, at its end, Miriam herself is a damaged-but-recovering soul, frayed around the edges as so many ex-cultists are regardless of what cult they've left, and uncertain how to approach religion. This, too, is good information.
I think this book would be worthwhile for any student of religion or anybody interested in cults. I don't think it would be appropriate for underage readers, but it's safe reading for those who get ruffled easily. There's nothing too graphic in it.
It was interesting that she was first felt ashamed after she received money for sleeping with a man. But before that, many nights in bed with many different men, did not shame her. I was interested in her thought process, as you read it, you think, how can she possibly do this, and then, what else is there that she will fall into. And then you have their main leader, when I think of him, reminds me of people such as Hitler. Both got people to follow their crazy ideas. But this guy was something, exremely selfish, insane maybe.
She got my attention when she mentioned that those who used to be very conservative, strict Christians, and then crossed over to their cult. It was them who were most wild in their family after being so conservative. Personally I don't get it why some people found it to be boring, it was her life that you read about, as it was. And trust me, her life was not boring. It was anything but boring. How can you be bored in that kind of life?
At the end you admire her for what she overcame, and then became successful.
Furthermore, she takes responsibility for her choices, and portrays herself as a willing participant rather than a mere victim. As far as the less documented facets of this popular cult go, she cites sources for her claims from its demented leader's own writings. She is less of a first-hand witness to some of the more horrifying accounts of sexual child abuse, but she always makes clear her degree of knowledge and first-hand experience.
I like the fact that she recounts events without reviling the participants needlessly. The story clearly speaks for itself. I for one, found it horrifying and revolting to the point of having to put the book down for awhile before finally completing it.
It is regrettable that she mixes her cult experience with references to a legitimate (albeit conservative) Christian religious upbringing, claiming that this would in fact have allowed her to drift into cult extremism. Also, she is rather ungrateful to some of the Christian friends who helped her reestablish herself and her family after leaving the cult ("fundamentalist purgatory"--give me a break!). Along the same lines, she seems to have embraced a fairly self-centered spiritual vision since, composed of social science, pop spirituality and a self-absorbed, soul-worshipping "inner light". It is truly harrowing to witness yet one more example of the depths at which cults harm a person spiritually, robbing them of all hope for a legitimate experience of God, Truth and healing Christian community. The author seems to be continuing to be a spiritually seeking (albeit deeply hurt) person--attributes a loving and caring God never fails to honor.
Having recovered so much, I for one am rooting for a full spiritual recovery for Ms. Williams. Thank you for sharing your story and so much of yourself!