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The Spanking Room: A Child's Eye View of the Jehovah's Witnesses Paperback – July 1, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Winepress Publishing (July 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1579219659
  • ISBN-13: 978-1579219659
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,583,846 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Bill Coburn is a Christian, a husband, and a father. He is a successful technical recruiter with a list of clients that include the Pentagon. Bill is an accomplished public speaker and has given seminars, classes, and workshops on subjects ranging from drug awareness counseling to close-combat survival at West Point. He is also a Master of Tae Kwon Do, a discipline he's taught for twenty years.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Amanda Richards HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 18, 2008
Format: Paperback
"Why does the sun go on shining?
Why does the sea rush to shore?
Don't they know it's the end of the world..."
(from The End of the World - Dee/Kent)

In this heart-rending memoir, the author shares with us his experiences as a young boy growing up under the influence of the religious group known as the Jehovah's Witnesses.

His mother converted to the religion while he was a toddler, having found something in the teachings that she could identify with, and soon became totally consumed by the doctrine that Armageddon was nigh, and that only the Jehovah's Witnesses would move on to greener pastures. Although she raised her two children with uncompromising fervor that could only be classified as abuse, it can be seen that she truly believed that without her intervention, her family was marked for certain death when the time finally came.

His father resisted conversion, and tried to save the marriage, but in my understanding of the book, he did not seem to try hard enough to protect his sons from abuse, simply by not being there when they needed him.

Conflicted, confused, shunned and shamed, the author grew up in the faith hoping to earn love and compassion from his mother, but at the same time, common sense was telling him that there was something wrong with the philosophy that man's interpretation of the Holy Bible should take precedence over the actual word of the Almighty.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Joanna Daneman #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 1, 2008
Format: Paperback
Here's a memoir about a boy raised by a definitely psychotic or at least deeply neurotic woman who used her religion as a cudgel to treat her son with unspeakable mental and physical cruelty. She was extremely devious in the ways she abused her son (lying to the father, who was all to glad to be hands-off in his raising of his son.)

The sad thing is how the son keeps waiting for his "fairy real-mother" to show up, you know, the nice one, the reasonable one, and for his "real" father to show up and rescue him. But the predictable happens instead (father absents himself further and Mom is still the everyday evil one.)

The book is not primarily a diatribe against Jehovah's Witnesses. The author does discuss briefly the principles as he was taught, about the 144,000 chosen ones and "the great crowd", and "The Great Disappointment." This is more a memoir about child abuse and how one boy managed to find his own way out of it and into his own family and learned how to love his own children in a way he never was able to be loved. So it's about salvation in a way, the salvation of finding what you need in giving it to others.

I'm recommending the book not only for a memoir about child abuse (which could help some survivors) but also for the last chapter, the epilogue, which describes how Coburn found his way out of his nightmare early years. I think this could be very helpful to a number of people as well as merely an interesting, if horrific memoir.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Bryan Carey VINE VOICE on September 18, 2008
Format: Paperback
Radical religions are all around and one organization that many are familiar with is the Jehovah's Witnesses. Known for their persistent, door to door proselytizing, the Jehovah's Witnesses are completely convinced that their religion is the only one that is valid and that the members of all other religious organization have no chance to enjoy the fruits of the next world.

Author William Coburn is one man who is fully aware of the tactics of the Jehovah's Witnesses and he is all-too-familiar with their extremist beliefs on everything from celebrations to punishment. He grew up the son of a radical Jehovah's Witness mother and he endured years and years of indoctrination and physical punishment at the hands of a woman who claimed she was only trying to show her son and his brother how much she cared about them by literally beating out the demons. The physical punishment was terrible, but what was even worse was living a life of fear. The author never knew when his mother might fly off the handle and bash him across the face for no reason at all. It could be an innocent mistake, like the mispronunciation of a word. It could be an off-the-cuff remark about another Witness. It could even be a drawing of a Christmas tree. Whatever it was, it was irrelevant. His mother would beat the living crap out of him for even the slightest offense.

The Spanking room is part memoir and part educational lesson about the Jehovah's Witnesses and their practices and it includes many insights into the Jehovah's Witnesses and the impact that their beliefs has on families. This book brought back memories for me because I had a friend in the second grade who was a Jehovah's Witness member.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jean E. Pouliot on October 12, 2008
Format: Paperback
The unwelcome arrival of Jehovah's Witnesses at the door is both a staple of American experience and a puzzle. Just who are these well-dressed, seemingly happy people we love to hate -- and what do they believe? Are we justified in shunning them and dreading their footfalls on our doorsteps?

William Coburn's book sheds some light on the inner life of one JW family and one congregation. Coburn grew up in what he describes as a normal family until his mother converted to the Jehovah's Witnesses when he was four. For the next decade and more, his mother ran hours-long study sessions, scoured the neighborhood for converts, and brutalized Coburn and his brother for the smallest infractions, hoping to beat the devil out of him. Coburn implies that these beatings, spankings, punchings and full face slaps were "de rigueur" for Witness families. Certainly, they were a staple of his. And at the very least, more than a few children were dragged, sometimes by their hair, to a special room in the Kingdom Hall reserved for corporal punishment.

All in all, a miserable way to grow up.

The book falls a little flat, though, in discussing Coburn's experience within the wider context of the Jehovah's Witnesses in America. The Witnesses that Coburn describes are certainly patriarchal, controlling, rigid and more than a little strange. Some JW beliefs are fairly odd as well, including a literal belief in the book of Revelation's statement that only 144,000 souls attain Heaven (sorry, all slots were filled by 1935) and that the imminent end of the age will allow only JWs to live forever on in a "New System" on "paradise earth," Jehovah-God having killed all non-believers. But I questioned how typical was Coburn's experience. Guilt-crazed, fanatical parents are found in every religion.
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