Rebecca’s Review of 13:24

Rebecca has written a very helpful review of the crime thriller 13:24 by M. Dolon Hickmon.  This review explains how triggering this novel is for victims of abuse and why it is not appropriate for everyone.  I, for one, appreciate the warning.

Please see the conversation which ensued between M Dolon Hickmon, myself and Rebecca Diamond on my Facebook page here.  Since Facebook has mixed up the posts, I will reproduce it here:

M Dolon Hickmon: I appreciated this review and understand her confusion. This book was intended to be very different from what people who read child abuse books probably expect.

First, I do appreciate the many readers who have shared their own abuse experiences and a
re far along enough in their own recovery to read and say, “Yes, this is accurate in describing abusive corporal punishment and what it is like living with PTSD.” Those testimonies are invaluable for establishing the credibility of the book. However, this book was definitely not meant to be read therapeutically by survivors. Nor was it intended for any of the other audiences that Rebecca mentioned!

The goal of this book was to reach crime fiction fans — for instance, the six million people who watch Law and Order Special Victims Unit each week — with a story that combines stylish, horror tinged entertainment with the accuracy of a child abuse memoir and the factual medical information of a semester of abnormal psychology.

One reason for doing this is the vast difference in the size of the crime thriller and child abuse audiences. This was dramatically demonstrated this weekend: I ran a small ad targeting people who’d signed up to get offers of discounted ebook thrillers in their email. Before the emails were even finished being sent, my book was catapulted into the top twenty of all child abuse titles. With an additional push from several activist communities, the title strolled easily to number one. But while maintaining the number one slot in child abuse by a huge margin, the book barely registered in the top 100 for Crime Thrillers. Viewed in the other direction, what this means is that if ANY book about child abuse were to reach the top twenty in crime thrillers, it would be selling more copies per day than ALL of the child abuse books on Amazon combined. That is a tremendous opportunity, and that is the first thing i had in mind when I was writing.

Of equal importance, from an activism standpoint, is that all of the books aimed at the traditional child abuse audience are ultimately read by the same small group of readers. This accomplishes next to nothing as an awareness campaign, because it doesn’t reach anyone who doesn’t already know all about the topic.

This weekend was a huge success for me, not because the book had number one in child abuse, but because it actually made it onto the crime thriller chart, peaking at #75. This is the first time I have managed it, and the difficulty shows just how much bigger the game is on that level. I now realize that the number of books sold per day in the thriller category dwarfs anything I even imagined.

Finally, I hope it’s obvious that this book was not written for Christians or to change the minds of parents who are on the fence about spanking. This is a book about child abuse. Primarily, I wanted people on all sides of the modern spanking debate to consider that conversations they have with other adults can be overheard and misunderstood by children who are being physically abused. It is not enough to frame our conversations in words that a reasonable adult could understand–we all need to consider how every word that we speak and write about corporal punishment will either empower victims to seek out help or convince them that are not deserving of any.

Why Not Train a Child?: Thank you for that clarification. I do hope you understand that I wish you success in your endeavor while also needing to take my intended audience into consideration.

M Dolon Hickmon: I think we need to have a shout out on corporal punishment–from every angle and with every bit of creativity and energy that we can muster. Having said that, the USA didn’t abolish slavery by convincing the slave owners that it was wrong and they should give it up. It was accomplished by making the people who didn’t own slaves appreciate the horrors of slavery so they felt obligated to do something about it.

I don’t think that people who beat their kids are motivated at all to stop. They will stop when the law steps in and says, “Enough”. And the political will to get those protections in place is going to have to come from the broader culture. It goes on for the same reasons that slavery continued: the people responsible LIE about what is being done. When the public understands what their euphemisms actually mean, they will say, “enough”.

Why Not Train a Child?: Yes. That we have different audiences was kind of my point.

M Dolon Hickmon: Rebecca was dead on with all of her observations. But, for example, anger, hostility, aggression and violence are typical male reactions to trauma; it is how men deal with feelings of vulnerability and inadequacy. To point it out as something unusual in survivor writing is exactly right – but the REASON it is strange is that the tenor of survivor discussions has so far been heavily led by female voices. I related to this review. Basically, I read what others were writing and thought that it didn’t really reflect my experience. So I wrote something that did.

Rebecca Diamond M Dolon Hickmon – I really did – I don’t want to say I enjoyed reading the book, because it was honestly a hard read – but I truly appreciated your voice throughout it.

I tried to convey in my review that it definitely wasn’t for the audiences I list
ed, so I appreciate your clarification on who the audience is. And I congratulate you on your success! That’s amazing to get into the top #100.

Have you considered doing a James Rollins-esque summary at the end? (Yes, I confess, I read some of his books. Guilty pleasure and all.)

I think that an epilogue or author’s note explaining the real-life connections; that this wasn’t just a thriller, but actually is happening around people more than they think, that the compliant smiling child that everyone compliments on their behaviour could indeed be a victim of horrific abuse, is an important point to make.

And it would be great to see a list of tangible ways that the reader could do something in response, as well.

Your novel is well-written, and I think it will linger in the minds of readers, even those who aren’t survivors. Giving ways to react/change/make a difference would take that lingering energy and help transform things, I really do believe.

M Dolon Hickmon: Thanks for reading and reviewing; Its really interesting to see what people think who have read it cold. I spent more than five years writing, and there are so many little details that some people notice and others don’t. It’s fascinating to see what, in particular, comes to the front for different people.

There is a prologue that steers people to the book’s website, where I have collected some of the stories of real life cases that the book is inspired by. I think that if you read the EBook it starts at chapter one, so you may not have seen it. A lot of reviews on goodreads have mentioned it but it may need to be handled differently. It’s always a challenge between essentially luring people in as a thriller, and making sure that they know that all of the crimes in the book are based in fact.

I would like to do more with that website but I am working full time at a sweaty, calloused hands job and taking care of a three year old, while also doing tons of writing and managing promotions like the one this weekend–which was the culmination of a year of lining up a complex choreography.

Every step is a learning experience as I am trying to do something that has not been done before. Ultimately, my hope is to create a new genre of survivor fiction. I would like to see others taking their stories and presenting them in ways that are marketable beyond the small circles of survivors and professionals.

I sold as many books in April of this year as I did all last year; the main reason is getting away from branding it as a child abuse book and trusting that people will accept it as a straight thriller. So much of that is just confidence from many many readers, and from the support I have gotten from professionals like the editors at Publishers Weekly.

This weekend it really hit me that what I have been guessing at, about the relative sizes of audiences, is not only true, but is obvious to professionals at PW and Kirkus. All along, people inside the book business have immediately understood that the potential of the concept to influence the world is phenomenal. The trick is getting the blend exactly right and figuring out how to market it.

Your comments about the audience are right on. This is a book that does not have a ready made shelf. But that’s not a flaw; it’s how I designed it from the beginning. In police procedurals, the victim is given one monologue to describe being abused and how it affects them–it’s not enough to do justice to the experience. Child abusers memoirs do justice, but people don’t want to read them. So I created something new. It puts me in a bind because I need survivors to endorse the book as accurate–but it’s not a book that was written for them. It’s written for everybody else.

Publishers are in business to make money, not to change the world, and they would rather print something that fits a known genre with a predictable number of sales. So it’s basically been up to me to believe in it, to develop the product and the funding for it and to do all the publicity. It’s a lot – lots of time and energy and money.

Appreciate you sharing your thoughts.

I am also working on a second novel, by the way. I am learning at every step. When the next one is done I will have so many advantages. Have to remember that a year ago I was a guy with a stack of papers, zero Facebook friends and a dream of changing the world. The things that have actually happened since then I can hardly believe.

 

Victoria Strong Analyses The Strong-Willed Child by James Dobson

Victoria Strong blames her abusive childhood on the teachings of Dr. James Dobson and is now reviewing his book, The Strong-Willed Child.  She explains why in this heartbreaking quote:

So that is why I’m reviewing this book. I need to know what it says. I need some answers as to why my parents seemed to hate me so much. Why they were constantly angry with me. Why I was beaten with belts, punched in the stomach, slammed into walls, slapped across the face, and berated constantly, all in the name of tough love, the Bible, and most often, “Dr. Dobson says…”. Why I was never permitted to tell my side of the story or explain myself. Why they always, always, always assumed the worst about me. I need to know. I need to heal. So without further adieu, let’s dig in, shall we?

She starts here with the Dedication, and already has 7 posts up and is only on page 19 of the book at this writing.

It is very sad that her parents tried to raise her under Biblical teachings and yet failed to raise her to believe the Bible as an authority in her life.  This is just another example of how these kinds of harsh teachings fail both children and their parents.

Disclaimer: this blog contains mild profanity.

The Truth About The Old Schoolhouse

I have warned people about the Old Schoolhouse before, telling them that its founders, Paul and Gena Suarez, promoted the Pearls’ teachings and defended them.  When I visit their Facebook page, I am always surprised to see that some of my friends like that page.  Maybe the fact that they support and defend the Pearls (while old news) is not well known.  

I have discovered that not only do they promote the Pearls, but they are now being accused of horrible abuse.  A family member had written about that, but has since removed the posts.

Update:  Homeschoolers Anonymous has an investigative report on this story here.

 

Escaping Abuse

Kathryn Joyce has an article about young adults who were homeschooled by controlling, fundamentalist parents called, The Homeschool Apostates.

Cindy Kunsman shares about how she came to realize that she was involved in an abusive church in, When your Religious Leader Falls Off the Pedestal.

You also might be interested in Cindy’s post about Understanding the Cycle of Spiritually Abusive Groups.

Cindy’s series continues with After the Epiphany Moment: Making Sense of Your History in Light of Spiritual Abuse.

Bad Parenting Advice

Tim Fall has a post at Spiritual Sounding Board about how Voddie Baucham and John Piper teach that parents must coerce their children into obeying them.

For more from Tim Fall, check out his response to a tweet from Mark Driscoll.

By the way, it has occurred to me that some might assume that I am against Independent Fundamental Baptist churches.  On the contrary, I identify as an IFB because they teach the closest I have found to sound doctrine.  These churches really are independent and the important thing is to find one which is neither abusive nor racist which is not always easy.

Spanking Debate in South Africa

Yesterday I posted a link to an opinion piece on News 24 from South Africa about where the term “Spare The Rod, Spoil The Child” originated. I now have discovered that there is a rip-roaring spanking debate going on in South Africa over their proposed new law against spanking.  The link I shared was a part of that debate.  Heating up the debate even more is the recent development that the South Africa Human Rights Commission is investigating a church who has refused to stop teaching that one must spank their children.   The church, Joshua Generation (JoshGen) is claiming that they are being persecuted for teaching God’s Truth. I got most of my information about this situation from another opinion piece on News 24 by Peter Allebone. Mr. Allebone does not argue from a Christian point of view and I disagree with his beliefs about evolution. However, I do not see what evolution has to do with spanking. He does give us some insight on the spanking debate and debunks the studies which were cited by Andrew Selley of JoshGen in his defense.

Please pray about this situation, specifically that the pastor of  JoshGen will understand God’s will in this situation.

How Many Churches Allow and Even Encourage Abuse

Valerie Tarico looks at the problem of  Christian discipline leading to abuse in “Bible-based” discipline has led to child abuse in Salon Magazine.  I am seeing non-believers getting more and more concerned with this issue and rightly so.  It breaks my heart that abusive Christians are giving Christianity a bad name.  Of course, it is only natural that they are trying to find a way to stop the abuse.  My only concern with that is that their definition of abuse often includes teaching children that they are sinners in need of salvation, which is the heart of the Gospel.

Because of that article, Pastor Doug Bursch (who was raised in a grace-filled, loving home) discussed the problem with M. Dolon Hickmon on his Christian Talk Radio show, Live from Seattle 820AM.  This conversation is extremely interesting as well as important.  Dolon explains how important it is for Christians to recognize abuse.  Not only do churches fail to notice abuse, they often inadvertently encourage it.  He explains how each person listening to a sermon about spanking has a different definition for the words being used.  Both abused children and their parents assume that the word, “spanking” means exactly what they are currently doing and are being validated that they should continue, even if the pastor preaching means nothing of the sort.  Raising awareness is very important and he has a lot of hope that the book he wrote will go a long way towards that.  You can get information about his book here.  ****Warning!  Book very triggering for survivors of abuse****

 

Another Look at Voddie Baucham’s Prescription for Spanking

Spiritual Sounding Board looks at Parenting “Experts” who promote what they call, “Biblical Parenting” in Voddie Baucham: Prescription for Spanking and the Shy Child.  Remember, the discussion  is in the comments so don’t miss them.

Children and Their Choices

forgedimagination has a very interesting series about Choices and Children Being Allowed to Make Them.


Part 1
in which she shares a story from her childhood about being allowed to make choices.

Part 2 in which she tells us about how her right to make choices came to be taken away and introduces a petition for the Home School Legal Defense Association to openly acknowledge that homeschoolers can also be abusers, and to educate their members about child abuse.

Part 3 in which she explains how inherently abusive it is to raise children with the doctrine of Instance Obedience.

Voddie Baucham and The Sin of Shyness

Did Voddie Baucham really say that a shy child who refuses to obey a parent and say hello to him is sinning? Cindy of Under Much Grace provides the evidence (in the form of a transcribed audio clip) so that you can decide for yourself.

Black Earth Pastor Gets 2 Years in Prison in Child Abuse Case

Philip Caminiti, pastor of , has been sentenced to 2 years in jail and 6 years probation according to an article in the Wisconsin State Journal.  His lawyer, Yolanda Lehner, appears to be taken aback by the whole thing which she likens to the Spanish Inquisition.

Is It Wrong To Speak Out Against Other Christians?

Cindy of Under Much Grace has posted a sermon by E.L. Bynum called, “IS IT RIGHT: To Judge, To Expose Error, and To Call Names?” I am so glad she did because I, too, have been told that it is wrong of me to speak out against other Christians. When I gently explain that I am only exposing false teachings, they generally have no response. In this sermon, Brother Bynum explains that:

I. It Is Right To Practice Biblical Judgment
II. It Is Right To Expose False Teachers
III. It Is Right To Name Names

Also check out her  post about Considering the Biblical Model of Examining Behavior to Identify a Spiritual Abuser .

I would also like to share Paul Proctor’s essay about whether we are required to apply Matthew 18 before exposing false teachers.

Another Abusive School on CNN

Under Much Grace shares the transcripts and video of CNN’s report on Pinehaven Home for Troubled Teens in a 3 part series which starts here.

 

K-12 News Network Speaks Out Against Harsh Discipline

The Spanking Controversy has been in the public eye quite often lately.  More and more often, it focuses on the religious aspect.  For example, Cynthia from K-12 News Network expresses concerns about Corporal Punishment in “Tiger Moms” Now Usurped by “Wolf Dads”.  Of course, this piece mainly focuses on cultural attitudes towards spanking, but she does discuss the Schatz Tragedy and the Christian Spanking Controversy so I thought that it would be of interest to  my readers.

Pastor Found Guilty of Child Abuse

The Wisconsin State Journal reports that Philip Caminiti, the pastor of the Aleitheia Bible Church, was found guilty yesterday, Wednesday March 21, 2012.  This is very important as it will set a precedence that pastors can be held accountable for their abusive advice.

 

Christian child abuse: more works-based carnality

Churchmouse has posted an extensively researched look at Spiritual and Physical Abuse in Christian child abuse: more works-based carnality.  This is a long piece and well worth the time it will take to read it.

Trail Set to Begin for Pastor of Aleitheia Bible Church

The Wisconsin State Journal reports “Trial set to begin for pastor who allegedly instructed followers to beat their children with dowels.

Does the Bible Tell Us To Bruise Our Children?

Cindy of Under Much Grace looks at Proverbs 20:30, “The blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil: so do stripes the inward parts of the belly” and explores What Jesus Said About the “Blueness of the Wound.”

And on a totally unrelated note, I liked what Bob Bixby said about teachers being held accountable for their teachings and not being able to hide behind Matthew 18 when someone speaks out against their teachings.  As far as I know, Michael Pearl has never mentioned Matthew 18 in this context, but I wouldn’t be surprised if someone were to read what James MacDonald said and apply it to him.

Remnant Fellowship’s Abusive Teachings Exposed

Under Much Grace exposes the history of child abuse of Remnant Fellowship.

The Science Behind Happy And Compliant Children

Cindy of Under Much Grace explains the scientific evidence that shows the damage done to children who suffer harsh punishment from a young age.  Parents who follow Pearls’ advice to punish toddlers for age appropriate behaviors may end up with seemingly happy and compliant children, but at what price?

Understanding Brainwashing and How Children Are Primed for Victimization

Cindy of Under Much Grace takes informative and very technical looks at abusive behavior, analyzing both the victims and the abusers.

She has a new series about brainwashing.  I want to make special note of part 7  in which she ties the information to the Pearls’ teachings. Here is a short summary which she wrote for me:

I think of it in terms of developmental milestones and such, and most all learning is experiential for a child for the first 36 months and is primarily all on the right side of the brain, entirely self-centered and oriented toward felt sense.

Children under the age of two only make Delta waves on EEG, the same brainwave that an adult makes while they sleep. From two to six, they make only theta waves which is what an adult generates just before falling asleep, basically. The plotting that Pearl talks about is a fast brainwave that doesn’t manifest in a child until they approach age twelve.

I would also like to draw your attention to the posts after part X which are about how the mindset of many families prime children for victimization.

Now, on the the entire series:

Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast: Understanding Doctrine Over Person Part I

A Sychophant for a Sociopath Does Damage Control: Understanding Doctrine Over Person Part II

Another Example of Transformed Memory in Response to Psychological Stress and Interpersonal Pressure in a POW Camp: Understanding Doctrine Over Person, Part III

Lifton on Reaffirming the Myth and How Adults and Children Respond: Understanding Doctrine Over Person Part IV

Steven Martin on the Heresy of Mind Control in Christian Churches: Understanding Doctrine Over Person, Part V

Steven Martin on the Role of Denial in the Altering of Memory: Understanding Doctrine Over Person, Part VI

Altered States of Consciousness Resulting from Trauma and Environmental Factors and Brainwave States Associated with Childhood Growth and Development: Understanding Doctrine Over Person, Part VII

Post Traumatic Stress as a Physical Process and the Inadequacies of Some Types of Biblical Counseling: Understanding Doctrine Over Person, Part VIII

Additional Factors Contributing to Doctrine Over Person Pressures at Hephzibah House: Understanding Doctrine Over Person, Part IX of X (Summary and Review)

The Effects of Trauma and Abuse at Hephzibah House: Understanding Doctrine Over Person, Part X of X

She follows up this series with a related series about Understanding the Role of Childhood Emotional Development in Spiritual Abuse.

 

Another Abusive Church

Cindy of Under Much Grace reports on a Lutheran church in La Habra, California which reportedly had a man assigned to the task of disciplining teenaged boys with a metal rod. This is the first time I have heard of a church  Taking The Rod Verses Literally.  Well, maybe not exactly literally, as the rod was too small and made of the wrong substance, but more literal than most.  I suppose they perceive that they are being persecuted for the sake of righteousness. I wonder if they also stone adulteresses and blasphemers. I think that they need to focus more on the message of the New Testament.

The Nicest People

What kind of people start (or join) cults? What is their motivation? Do they do it on purpose or by accident? Do they have any idea that they are involved with a cult? If these questions interest you, you will want to read this post by Cindy of Under Much Grace Hank Hanegraaff and the “Nicest People You Could Ever Hope to Meet” (Understanding Unbalanced and Cultic Christianity and Those Attracted to It) .

Along the same line, Cindy also has a new post discussing Vision Forum.

Meanwhile, I have added the transcript and more info to yesterday’s post.

The Fruit of Sheltered, Controlled Homeschoolers

Reb Bradley has a long and very informative article about mistakes he and other sheltering and controlling Christian homeschooling parents have made in Exposing Major Blind Spots of Homeschoolers.

For more information about Reb Bradley’s teachings, please see the comments below as well as this post.

 

 

About Cults

The Amish are in the news again and this time not for helping to inspire Michael Pearl’s teachings.  I have mentioned before how susceptible people can be to following false teachers and cult leaders.  Well, now we find an Amish cult leader.  Updated info here.

Cindy of Under Much Grace explains more about how people fall into cult thinking in The Counter-Cult Bias Against the Anti-Cult Perspective: Hank Hanegraaff’s Re-Victimization of Teen Mania Protestors and All Those Who Overcome Spiritual Abuse.

In case you were wondering, Hank Hanegraaff was reacting to a documentary on MSNBC on Nov 6, 2011 about Cult Exit and Cult Recovery.

Speaking of cults, here is another exposure of abuse in the name of God.  When will it end?  *sigh*

 

Hephzibah House on CNN

Under Much Grace reports all about CNN’s coverage of Hephzibah House complete with video and links to the transcript.  She highlights outtakes from the transcripts on her blog.

Spiritual Spanking

Clinton Verley at Midly Insightful takes a closer look at the sermon by Pastor Roger Voegtlin which was featured  in the CNN segment on the Pearls.

More Investigation from CNN

CNN continues its investigative report of abuse among fundamental Christians and how it relates to the Pearls’ teachings.  Jocelyn Zichterman, who was raised in this culture and started Freedomfromabuse.net, explains the concept of Breaking The Will and how spankings must continue until the child submits even if it takes several hours. This video seems to cut suddenly, I’m wondering if this series will continue.

“Character First” and Blind Obedience

William Norman Grigg looks at Bill Gothard’s program, Character First, and how it relates to blind obedience in war in Imperial Priorities: Obedience First, Character Last.  Not for the faint of heart.

Breaking The Will

God gave man free will so that we could choose Him. He could have made us without free will and unable to sin, but He did not want that. And yet, many parents have believe that they should break their children’s will, which Molly discusses in her post, Breaking The Will.


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