My Fundamentalist Education: A Memoir of a Divine Girlhood

Christine Rosen, Author . Public Affairs $25 (231p) ISBN 978-1-58648-258-9

Rosen (Preaching Eugenics ), a fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, knows her King James Bible backward and forward. For this she thanks the fundamentalist school she attended from kindergarten until eighth grade, when her parents finally figured out "what we were learning about television, and movies, and, most important, about men and women." In many respects Keswick Christian School in the 1980s was like fabled Catholic schools of the 1950s: misbehaving students were paddled, girls forced to kneel on the floor to check skirt lengths, boys and girls required to keep a respectful six-inch distance from one another. But to Keswick students, Catholics and even some Protestants weren't true Christians, and it was incumbent upon the children to learn "strict morals and Bible belief" and then to "witness" to playmates and families. Alas, writes Rosen, "by the close of third grade, I found I'd not yet converted a single living soul." While young Christine was absorbing an ascetic worldview, her erratic mother was discovering—and unsuccessfully trying to interest her daughter in—Pentecostal fervor. Although today Rosen lives "an entirely secular life," her tone is affectionate rather than critical, and her subtle humor and ironically accurate descriptions will appeal to others with stringent religious backgrounds. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 08/29/2005
Release date: 12/01/2005
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