By the Book: A Bible Belt Memoir of Growing Up Good and Southern
About the book:
In the South, one thing we’ve become exceptionally adept at is normalizing bullshit. If you’ve grown up in a fundamentalist church, or perhaps another institution constructed on a rigid set of rules that categorically suppressed entire groups of people, you know what I’m talking about.
I was raised in a church in which I was not allowed to stand, speak, raise objections, or lead prayer in the presence of men. As a spitfire of a girl who was smart and skeptical of any rule thrown in my path, I suffered greatly because I also loved my family dearly. My dad was a rule follower, and we butted heads for decades.
That sense of belonging, or yearning to belong, is why social pressure works so well. We’re hardwired to look at another person’s face when we’re doubtful of what we’re doing.
There is a way to break free, though, and that way has led me to the greatest sense of peace and belonging I’ve ever known. I found belonging in some of the last places I thought to look, and with fewer people than I thought it took. (Lucky for me, there are a few other rebels out there.) And miracle of miracles, I even got resolution with my dear departed dad before he left for his eternal home with the Lord.
This book shows how I did it.
Why I wrote it:
I’m amazed at how many women I know – smart, well-educated, experienced, and lovely – who, deep down, have so very little confidence in themselves that they stay in abusive marriages or miserable jobs or get trampled by their families or sock away cake or wine or indulge whatever compulsion that gives them some relief. I think they’re seeking relief from the inner trauma of having given up on their God-given intuitive sense of what is right for them. They’re, ironically, incredibly conscientious and rule-bound. They’re talented and magical but they don’t know it. They’re like I was, and this is my story of how I let go of what I thought I had to do, in order to find out what I was meant to do. It’s a story of growing up in the American South in the ‘60s and ‘70s, and what sense I tried to make of being raised a good, white Christian with smarts and a fundamental difference of opinion with just about every rule I came across….
It’s hot. Texas hot, which is its own brand of dry, dirt-filled sweltering. The air is thick with dust that smells like dandelion stalks tinged with axle grease. All around me I hear the buzz of flies stuck and vibrating against the corners of the window screens while in the distance, a tractor motor rumbles and whines. I lean left then right, adjust the folds of my skirt, and look around at the other churchgoers. Most of the kids are restless like me, shifting slightly, some garnering silent reprimands. A quick pinch or jagged frown that says, “Behave!”
By the Book: A Bible Belt Memoir of Growing Up Good and SouthernComing Soon!