In Fleeing Fundamentalism, Cross looks back at the life that led her to marry a charismatic young man, handsome and articulate, who appeared destined for greatness as a minister within the fundamentalist church. Their marriage, which began with great hope and promise, started to crumble when she realized that her husband had fallen victim to the same demons that had plagued his youth. When efforts to hold their family together failed, she left the church and the marriage, despite the condemnation of the congregation and the anger of many she had considered friends. She took her three children and started a whole new life, getting a job as a waitress so she could go to college and get a true education. What she saw and experienced in the “real world” was a revelation, as she came to understand just how wrong-headed and destructive the teachings and the beliefs of the Fundamentalist church and the Religious Right can be.
Here is an eloquent and compelling story of faith lost and regained. Certain to be controversial, it is also a brave and hopeful plea for greater tolerance and understanding.
Top Book for 2007
* Starred Review
A brave memoir….in surprisingly jaunty prose, eloquent without self pity…. A long, fraught journey into the light, chronicled with compassion and spirit.”
Seattle Post Intelligencer
Top Book for Fall 2006, John Marshall
A powerful memoir…an important cautionary tale in this era of religious fervor and intrusion of faith into political life.
Dallas Morning News
Arts and Media Award Book for 2006
I could not put this book down, I read it straight through; so will you…“Spiritual growth,” Cross asserts, “is a road of discovery,” and I suspect that she has more to discover and more to write. Look for a sequel.
A captivating story… Cross’ prose is rooted in the sensory detail that many memoirs lack. Her honest and careful storytelling offers a good deal of hope.
Faith-Focused Media Pick, 2007
A compelling story, told in beautiful prose, of how a sweet and spiritual idealism is dissolved by the ugly acids of addiction, deceit and male domination.
Cross’ metaphors are literate and lovely… Her memoir offers action, reflection, and deep feelings that avoid mawkishness.
Louisville Courier Journal
The significance of Cross’ well-told tale is twofold: Millions of women are victims of individual and institutional abuse, and Fleeing Fundamentalism offers hope to them. In addition, Cross’ book examines Fundamentalist faith from the eyes of a woman who desperately wanted to believe a theology she ultimately couldn’t accept. Because her criticism is more sorrowful than smug and because her revelations are more relevant than righteous, readers will respect Cross’ conclusions concerning the ways in which inflexible, misogynistic doctrine can wound men and women alike.
Fleeing Fundamentalism is an illuminating book, offering readers an opportunity to know someone on the other side of today’s political and religious divide
An absorbing memoir of falsehood and betrayal…[Cross’s] heartfelt condemnation of public hypocrisy couldn’t be more timely.
Fleeing Fundamentalism has many themes: disillusionment, heartache, hypocrisy, sin and, ultimately, courage. It’s a cautionary tale about giving up oneself out of fear, convention, fatigue and twisted religious teaching, leavened with wry humor. Carlene Cross has written a compelling story with passion and charity.”
Carefully reconstructing every step of her conversion to and gradual denial of fundamentalism, Cross evocatively and poignantly fills in the gaps of our understanding of the movement… [her] prose gracefully, and at times startlingly, illuminates the story… Where other recent books on fundamentalism carry the weight of theoretical analysis, Cross’ exploration carries the insistency of survival.
Chosen as a November Book Sense Top Pick by independent booksellers from across the nation, Elliott Bay’s Karen Maeda Allman said, “Cross tells a story of faith, betrayal, and triumph that’s an inspiration. She conveys the deep caring, humanity and strength of many fundamentalist Christians, while exposing the subjugation of women, extremes of sexual repression (and sexual addiction), and the effects of the very small fishbowl in which pastors’ wives and families must live. I gained so much understanding and compassion in reading this.” And Barbara Theroux of Fact & Fiction in Missoula added, “A brave book by a brave woman.”
You can’t stop turning the pages as Carlene Cross invites you along lifting the veil on her religious world, filled with smoke and mirrors. This profound and searing journey leads to discovering a religious life in which the love and generosity of a spacious God are known. This book and its author are holy gifts! The Very Reverend Robert V. Taylor Dean, Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, Seattle, Washington
A courageous personal journey that also expertly explores the central theological issues of our time… Fleeing Fundamentalism is a telling account of what ails much of contemporary religion. But it is without invective and blame. Grace abounds here. This is the best kind of memoir, one that deepens and enriches us on our own journey. Bishop Cabell Tennis
A great read…. a captivating, intelligent, informed and very moving story. Dr. Rebecca Gould, Professor of Religion, Author: At Home in Nature: Modern Homesteading and Spiritual Practice in America
This powerful, poignant first-person tale should be required reading for those who believe politics should be based on a literal reading of the Bible, and the rest of us must read it as a warning about where religious fanaticism might take us. John de Graaf, Author and award winning Television Producer
Cross’ sharp eye for detail and ear for dialogue give an aching reality to this often harrowing tale… [Told in] exuberant style and sheer story-telling verve, it is an evolution—a /revolution/—of the spirit, an intelligent page-turner with a very human heart. Thomas Orton, Author: The Lost Glass Plates of Wilfred Eng
Fleeing Fundamentalism is explosive. Cross has done her homework on the history of Christianity well, and helped unmask the church forever. A copy belongs in every evangelical church in America. David Enroth, Founder Seattle Spiritual Synthesis