Carolyn Jessops’s Escape: Preface

I wish I’d had this book as a teenager.

I went to high school in Page, Arizona, a complete nowhere town with virtually nothing for kids to do. One of the ways we’d amuse ourselves on boring nights was by driving up to the Utah/Arizona border and gawking at the polygamists’ houses in Big Water. We’d make fun of their extreme size and shoddiness. There weren’t many there. They were weird and isolated, and we rarely caught a glimpse of any people around them. We had no idea what went on behind those blank walls, aside from knowing it involved one man, lots of women, herds of children, and extreme Mormon religion. If we ever encountered actual polygamists visiting or working in Page, we didn’t realize it. We’d probably have done something stupid if we had. We were almost completely ignorant about polygamy and the lives people in the more fundamentalist sects lived. [Read more…]

Today’s Really Terrible Bible Inspirations

You’ve all seen those inspirational posters with the pretty scenes and the carefully-selected Bible quotations. Some of your coworkers probably have one hanging in their cubicle, or framed on their desks. You probably have a grandparent or other relation whose walls are adorned with such tripe. And you, being an atheist, or agnostic, or other sort of person who groans upon beholding saccharine nonsense, might wish you could replace that nice quote with something a little more representative of the Bible’s content.

My darlings, I am here to help. Behold: Really Terrible Bible Inspirations. [Read more…]

Really Terrible Bible Stories Now Available!

It’s here, my darlings, it’s finally here! At long last, Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. I: Genesis is now available at Amazon! Worldwide, even! It’s allliiiiivvvveeee!!!

Image is a painting of Abraham, holding a knife to a screaming Isaac's throat, looking incomprehendingly at the cherub that's trying to get his attention. Above is the title Really Terrible Bible Stories. Below is vol. I Genesis, Dana Hunter.

I may be a touch hyper-excited. It’s my first book-baby and all.

Those of you who’ve been regulars at the cantina know what it’s all about, of course. You’ve gotten to read all the excerpts! For those just tuning in, here’s the book description: [Read more…]

A Sordid Tale of Fanaticism and Murder: “Under the Banner of Heaven”

I’ve been on a fundamentalist Mormon exposé reading kick lately. This happens when you read a book like Escape. You want to keep prodding at the open wound with fascinated horror. I already had Jon Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven on my reading list, so I ordered it and got to reading.

Word of advice: don’t read this right after Escape. It can’t measure up. It’s a book written by an outsider. It’s a great work of journalism, but it is journalism, and the style of the detached, objective reporter giving it to you straight loses its power in the face of a harrowing personal account.

That said, it’s a very juicy true-crime story about murderous polygamists, so it’s absolutely not boring. If you’re in the market for gore, this is your book.

Cover of Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith

[Read more…]

Escape: A Harrowing Tale of Fundamentalism and Freedom

I’ve been in an easily-distractable mood lately. I keep fussing around with books, picking them up for a few pages or paragraphs before tossing them aside and moving on to something else. I was afraid I’d never finish another book again in my life until I picked up Carolyn Jessop’s Escape. I didn’t even mean to buy it – I was there for Jon Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven, actually, and decided I’d better look around for similar books written by women, because my reading list has unfortunately been skewing too heavily dude. Up popped Escape, and I said “Brilliant,” and placed my order.

Image is the cover of Escape, which is photo of Carolyn Jessop on a black background. She cradles a framed picture of herself as an FLDS teenager in her hands. She is a woman in her thirties with chestnut hair and blue eyes.

This seriously screwed up my already-precarious sleep schedule, and almost ruined my April Fools’ Day plans. [Read more…]

Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education IX: In Which We Read a “Research Paper”

Did you think sea level would be a topic even Christianists can discuss without controversy? Ha! HA, I say! O ye of little faith in their ability to give the simplest subjects a bizarre religious twist. Of course they can make sea level controversial! Earth Science 4th Edition certainly delivers. And you are going to choke on your tasty beverage when you see what their idea of a quality research paper is, so I advise you spit-take proof your machine right now. [Read more…]

Really Terrible Bible Stories Excerpt: Biblical Family Values Parte the Thirde: Erecting Phallic Symbols


Biblical Family Values Parte the Thirde: Erecting Phallic Symbols

(Genesis 35)

I would ask all of you who’ve ever giggled uncomfortably and twittered about “quaint heathen customs” while watching Hindu priests oil up Shiva’s penis on the National Geographic Channel to pay close attention to the following section.

After Jacob’s sons piss off the entire region by murdering a whole town full of dudes, then stealing all their stuff (including their women and children), the Jacob clan has to go. God tells Jacob to head back to Bethel and make an altar to him. So Jake makes everybody get rid of their strange gods, clean up, change clothes, and go. Traveling through the territories of all the cities who’ve heard of their mass-murdering ways might ordinarily be a little fraught, but God jams his divine finger into the terror centers of the residents’ brains, so they’re too shit-scared to attack. How thoughtful (Gen. 35:1-5).

[Read more…]

Really Terrible Bible Stories Excerpt: The Jacob Family Sexploits


The Jacob Family Sexploits

(Genesis 29 & 30)

These chapters are absolutely X-rated.

Jacob, having been sent away to his Uncle Laban in order to find a wife and avoid being justifiably homicided by his brother, arrives at his destination, where he immediately begins to make a know-it-all nuisance of himself. While he’s busy telling professional shepherds how to herd sheep, his cousin Rachel arrives with another flock. It’s lust-at-first-sight for him. He proves his manly-manliness by rolling away the stone covering the well, waters the sheep, and then grabs Rachel and kisses her without so much as an “if you please!” He then bursts into tears and tells her they’re cousins, as one does after manhandling a nubile young stranger (Gen. 29:1-12).

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The Story of Flower Hating on the Book of Mormon, Plus Glorious Spring Flowers

The fruit trees of Bothell are putting on their annual show. Every year, I take about twelve kajillion photos of them, and share a few of the best with you. This year, thee shall have lots of beautiful flowers, as well as the story of that one time my mama cat Flower hated on the Book of Mormon, thus saving me from some of the worst prose ever written.

Image shows a shaded branch of plum or cherry blossoms against a blue sky.

[Read more…]