From Publishers Weekly
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.)
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Though no longer a fundamentalist, Christine Rosen manages to spin a tale of her childhood that is mostly free of animosity. Critics appreciate her open-mindedness and vivid prose, as well as the insight she gives into a child's predisposition to believe. Some reviewers cited a lack of context (how fundamentalism compares to other tenants in Christianity) and an inadequate explanation of how her upbringing affects her today. A few also fault My Fundamentalist Education
for not furthering the debate between faith and evolution, but the criticism sputters like ideological rabble rousing. Rosen, a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and author of Preaching Eugenics
, intended to write a personal story of her childhood, a feat most reviewers feel she's accomplished.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.