A whole future spread out before me

There are a lot of them – which is good, because it means some escape, but bad, because it means this is happening to a lot of people. There’s Sierra at Non-prophet Message. She is amusing on the subject of Jezebel and makeup and faking it.

 Shaping your eyebrows can go a long way towards that neat, meticulous, hyperfeminine look that screams, “I read my Bible so much, my eyebrows shape themselves!”

When she finally went to school – which was a community college – she discovered that she had a brain.

I turned in my final math exam with the lightest heart I’d felt since I was a little child, since before I’d ever heard of the Message or William Branham. I felt like a little girl again, with a whole future spread out before me for the taking. “I want to be an astronaut and an archaeologist,” the small child in my head whispered. “I want to write a book, travel the world and swim with dolphins. I want to do everything when I grow up.”

Weeks later, the final grade came in. I’d passed the math course with an A.


  1. says

    These people talk about abortion and about protecting potential life, yet make no qualms about destroying the potential lives of hundreds of thousands of woman. Nothing illustrates this more starkly than when you see someone who has escaped, releasing that potential, there is just so much there.

    In Unweaving the Rainbow, Richard Dawkins makes the following hypothetical point about the improbability of anyone of us existing.

    “We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.”

    How many Keats and Newtons have we lost because this ignorance?

  2. says

    Ah, funny about the eyebrows. Elizabeth used to say, of some fairly fundamentalist members of the congregation, who tended to be just a bit on the dumb side of dumb, that they pulled out bits of their brain each time they pulled out a hair on their eyebrows!

    It’s simply unconscionable that parents have this kind of hold over their kids. This kind of thing should be seen as a violation of children’s rights, for every child has the right, not only to know, but to choose what beliefs they will hold during life, and it should be impossible so to shelter a child during its upbringing that they are locked into images of themselves that limit their ability to do this. Don’t know how this kind of thing can be expressed in law, but there should be some way of doing it. The case with the Amish (Yancey, was it?) really makes it difficult in the US to accomplish this, but someone should try.

  3. Ophelia Benson says

    Yoder – good old Amish/Mennonite name. I have Yoder relatives (distant relatives).

    Mandatory school attendance ought to be able to accomplish that, but what with homeschooling in the US and “faith” academies in the UK…it’s not.

  4. Ken Pidcock says

    Until that moment, I’d never had an opportunity to measure my own intelligence.

    Kind of off-topic, but it is the tragedy of grade inflation that many never have the opportunity. Over the years, I’ve met numerous students from working class backgrounds, more women than men, who had no idea of their intellectual gifts until they saw them measured against the median. For that to happen, the highest grade cannot be the most common.

    It must be sad for women, living under such oppression, to feel that they have to bring it to their daughters. I haven’t been following these stories. How many finally leave when they face having to do to their daughters what was done to them?

  5. Ophelia Benson says

    Ken – good question. Some, at any rate. Kathryn Joyce talks about one woman who wasn’t a full patriarchy type but was a conservative Presbyterian; she and her husband both went to Westminster seminary (which broke away from Princeton seminary because it was too liberal). It was when her third child was a daughter that she re-thought some things. Her name is Lisa Bauer, and she has a hell of an interesting blog.

  6. Stephen Turner says

    Home-schooling is illegal both in Germany and Spain. In Spain, this was decided very recently by the highest court, and as for Germany, there was a case a year or two ago in which a family got “political asylum” in the US because they were not allowed to home-school.

    I think I’ve mentioned before that it mightn’t be a bad idea to enshrine either in law or in some principle of teaching, a right (for children) not to be taught things that are not true. Who could possibly be opposed to that?

    Of course, those who run religious schools would claim that what they are teaching _is_ true but at least they’d have to say so and defend it (and I don’t think it would work out well for them).

  7. says

    It’s so heartening to read a success story of the ilk of Sierra. I sincerely hope adult literacy education services, in her neck of the woods, snatch her up, to speak about her positive experiences in education, despite her extremely negative past childhood experiences. She is a breath of fresh air! Undoubtedly – adults in literacy education, would be hugely uplifted in listening to her testimony, as I have been, here at FtB; as she appears to be the epitome of strength and confidence, against all the odds. She was told she would never amount to nothing;…I feel a sense of déjà vu?!

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