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My Fundamentalist Education: A Memoir of a Divine Girlhood

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This is a touching memoir of growing up in a household, school and town of flourishing Biblical literalism. When Christine Rosen started kindergarten, her ABCs included the Apocalypse, the Bible and Christ. At Keswick Christian School, the Bible was our textbook, God was their guide, and after entering the school gates, nothing was quite the same again. Christian learned c This is a touching memoir of growing up in a household, school and town of flourishing Biblical literalism. When Christine Rosen started kindergarten, her ABCs included the Apocalypse, the Bible and Christ. At Keswick Christian School, the Bible was our textbook, God was their guide, and after entering the school gates, nothing was quite the same again. Christian learned creation science, dreamed of becoming a missionary to exotic countries, worried about the souls of Jews and Mormons, and experienced unusual methods of sex education. With the threat of nuclear annihilation at the hands of atheistic Russians looming, she also frequently prayed for rapture. At home, Florida life seemed happily to confirm several literal truths: the story of Moses, with its plagues that afflicted the Egyptians - from lice, to rivers of stinking dead fish, to hordes of frogs - might have been describing Christine's back yard. My Fundamentalist Education is a brilliant, affectionate, child's-eye journey to Rosen's home, school and small town. during a girlhood lived as the Lord intended, among the tropical flora and fauna of Florida, its televangelists, irascible elderly, and itinerant preachers, Christine Rosen and her sister Cathy, uncover the not always godly but surely divine secrets of a Hallelujah-ya sisterhood.


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This is a touching memoir of growing up in a household, school and town of flourishing Biblical literalism. When Christine Rosen started kindergarten, her ABCs included the Apocalypse, the Bible and Christ. At Keswick Christian School, the Bible was our textbook, God was their guide, and after entering the school gates, nothing was quite the same again. Christian learned c This is a touching memoir of growing up in a household, school and town of flourishing Biblical literalism. When Christine Rosen started kindergarten, her ABCs included the Apocalypse, the Bible and Christ. At Keswick Christian School, the Bible was our textbook, God was their guide, and after entering the school gates, nothing was quite the same again. Christian learned creation science, dreamed of becoming a missionary to exotic countries, worried about the souls of Jews and Mormons, and experienced unusual methods of sex education. With the threat of nuclear annihilation at the hands of atheistic Russians looming, she also frequently prayed for rapture. At home, Florida life seemed happily to confirm several literal truths: the story of Moses, with its plagues that afflicted the Egyptians - from lice, to rivers of stinking dead fish, to hordes of frogs - might have been describing Christine's back yard. My Fundamentalist Education is a brilliant, affectionate, child's-eye journey to Rosen's home, school and small town. during a girlhood lived as the Lord intended, among the tropical flora and fauna of Florida, its televangelists, irascible elderly, and itinerant preachers, Christine Rosen and her sister Cathy, uncover the not always godly but surely divine secrets of a Hallelujah-ya sisterhood.

30 review for My Fundamentalist Education: A Memoir of a Divine Girlhood

  1. 4 out of 5

    Madameugly

    If you weren't raised fundamentalist, this may not be as amusing for you. But if you are painfully familiar with the foibles of fundamentalism, this is an entire book full of inside jokes. Funny and honest, this is a great read. If you weren't raised fundamentalist, this may not be as amusing for you. But if you are painfully familiar with the foibles of fundamentalism, this is an entire book full of inside jokes. Funny and honest, this is a great read.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay

    If you want to know what my childhood educational experience was like, read this book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Roxenne Smith

    An exceptionally well-written and thoroughly delightful read about an unusual upbringing. I am delighted to know that Ms. Rosen was able to take the good parts of her Christian fundamental "immersion education" and use them to break loose from its confining elements. Today, Keswick Christian School in St. Petersburg, FL states on their website "Children are sinners who need to be redeemed and then submit to the authority of God in all areas of life." That is the school that Ms Rosen attended for An exceptionally well-written and thoroughly delightful read about an unusual upbringing. I am delighted to know that Ms. Rosen was able to take the good parts of her Christian fundamental "immersion education" and use them to break loose from its confining elements. Today, Keswick Christian School in St. Petersburg, FL states on their website "Children are sinners who need to be redeemed and then submit to the authority of God in all areas of life." That is the school that Ms Rosen attended for most of her formative years. She was clearly smart from the beginning and was fortunate to be raised, not by her mentally ill mother, but by her father and a loving stepmom. With her parents' more tempered style of child rearing, she was eventually able to integrate her rigid Christian school education with the more inclusive values espoused by her parents. It is great to know that she went to University of South Florida (the school I graduated from), and went on to earn a Ph.D. from Emory. She is an accomplished writer and editor of a major publication. Good for her!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Bookmarks Magazine

    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 deb 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.This is an excerpt from a review published in Bookmarks magazine.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    This book was a dry, detached and realistic look at the life of a young girl raised in a fundamentalist Christian school. For anyone raised an a conservative fundamentalist Baptist church, her experiences will ring true. I related to a lot of her stories. However, I felt the ending was lacking. It wasn't a good or satisfying wrap-up to her early life--I would have loved to have read more about the journey AWAY from fundamentalism, and how that changed her perspective on life. She briefly touched This book was a dry, detached and realistic look at the life of a young girl raised in a fundamentalist Christian school. For anyone raised an a conservative fundamentalist Baptist church, her experiences will ring true. I related to a lot of her stories. However, I felt the ending was lacking. It wasn't a good or satisfying wrap-up to her early life--I would have loved to have read more about the journey AWAY from fundamentalism, and how that changed her perspective on life. She briefly touched on where she is now, but not much about the journey since then. I wanted more!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Marine Cwo

    An excellent memoir. I expected a hostile view of the 80s fundamentalist Christian school experience but it was anything but that. I was pleasantly surprised at her candor, and can appreciate her willingness to put all things in perspective. She accurately captures the experiences of growing up in that environment quite well as I had similar observations in my own school experience. As her post HS life reveals, she's done well and can appreciate the values that protected her growing up. An excellent memoir. I expected a hostile view of the 80s fundamentalist Christian school experience but it was anything but that. I was pleasantly surprised at her candor, and can appreciate her willingness to put all things in perspective. She accurately captures the experiences of growing up in that environment quite well as I had similar observations in my own school experience. As her post HS life reveals, she's done well and can appreciate the values that protected her growing up.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jen Pollock Michel

    A teacher at a Christian high school recommended this to me - a "must-read," he thought, for anyone involved in a Christian school. Rosen has left her fundamentalist upbringing, and her final chapter begins, "I no longer even consider myself religious, and live an entirely secular life." That tells a lot of the story - a good read in many ways. A childhood memoir is hard to write - one can't help but wonder how much of the adult Rosen is reinterpreting what she lived as a child. A teacher at a Christian high school recommended this to me - a "must-read," he thought, for anyone involved in a Christian school. Rosen has left her fundamentalist upbringing, and her final chapter begins, "I no longer even consider myself religious, and live an entirely secular life." That tells a lot of the story - a good read in many ways. A childhood memoir is hard to write - one can't help but wonder how much of the adult Rosen is reinterpreting what she lived as a child.

  8. 5 out of 5

    hadashi

    reading this book was an absolute gift. i feel like she gave me my life back, as she articulates being a GUBA kid (Growing Up Born Again) without resentment or apology. the wackiness of it all is obvious but at the same time you realise you’re not crazy, these are shared memories, and other people smile too when they remember sword drills or bible cozies. i made TT read it as a cultural map of my own childhood.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ruth Everhart

    I would like to give this 3 and a half stars, but can't do that on Goodreads. The author has a great eye for detail and her tone is, overall, quite affectionate. However, she doesn't make it clear when she is speaking in the voice of her childhood and using an adult vocabulary versus when she is speaking from her perspective as an adult. It prevents her from making helpful commentary on her upbringing, and I missed that. I would like to give this 3 and a half stars, but can't do that on Goodreads. The author has a great eye for detail and her tone is, overall, quite affectionate. However, she doesn't make it clear when she is speaking in the voice of her childhood and using an adult vocabulary versus when she is speaking from her perspective as an adult. It prevents her from making helpful commentary on her upbringing, and I missed that.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

    this book is by a lady who went to school at Keswick Christian School in St. Pete Florida. She mentions all kinds of places around here (I live in Bradenton Fl). I also used to listen to the Keswick Christian Radio Station everyday. I was disappointed though, because she skimmed over what it was like to go from a fundamentalist Christian to not one. She made it sound easy. I think it's hard, very hard. At least it was for me. this book is by a lady who went to school at Keswick Christian School in St. Pete Florida. She mentions all kinds of places around here (I live in Bradenton Fl). I also used to listen to the Keswick Christian Radio Station everyday. I was disappointed though, because she skimmed over what it was like to go from a fundamentalist Christian to not one. She made it sound easy. I think it's hard, very hard. At least it was for me.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Taryn

    Reading this was underwhelming, mostly because I had such similar experiences. It brought back several forgotten memories, but overall I just didn't feel the author revealed much of herself. And it wasn't really written in a creative nonfiction style--there wasn't a clear narrative arc and it sounded more like a stream of consciousness litany of "then they told us" or the Bible verse went like this... Reading this was underwhelming, mostly because I had such similar experiences. It brought back several forgotten memories, but overall I just didn't feel the author revealed much of herself. And it wasn't really written in a creative nonfiction style--there wasn't a clear narrative arc and it sounded more like a stream of consciousness litany of "then they told us" or the Bible verse went like this...

  12. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Cavanaugh

    She has a terrific eye for detail and provided an interesting and entertaining overview of her attendance, through eighth grade, at a fundamentalist Christian school. It ended rather abruptly, though, and the last chapter, which explains her current thoughts on religion and the long-term effects of her religious education, felt perfunctory.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Cathy

    I loved this book. This woman grew up in Florida like I did with a similar religious upbringing. I found it interesting that her religious background that taught her to be critical of the popular culture ultimately taught her to turn a critical eye on the belief system of fundamentalism. I could relate.

  14. 5 out of 5

    James Defilippo

    This is more a bildungsroman than a polemic. If you want a Dawkins-style critique of conservative religion, you've picked up the wrong book. However, if you want to gain a compassionate understanding of one of America's most misunderstood subcultures, this autobiographical narrative belongs on your bookshelf. This is more a bildungsroman than a polemic. If you want a Dawkins-style critique of conservative religion, you've picked up the wrong book. However, if you want to gain a compassionate understanding of one of America's most misunderstood subcultures, this autobiographical narrative belongs on your bookshelf.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    This book attempts to dispel some of the myths associated with children reared in families from a Christian fundamentalist perspective. And although the author does not agree with much of the religious dogma she was raised with, she presents a more nuanced view of what that lifestyle had to offer her, good as well as bad.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    This was a pretty witty, enjoyable story. I thought the author did a nice job of depicting the learning and thought processes of a child who starts out with blind faith but eventually learns to think critically and logically. And the book has a very affectionate tone - I didn't find it bitter or judgmental. This was a pretty witty, enjoyable story. I thought the author did a nice job of depicting the learning and thought processes of a child who starts out with blind faith but eventually learns to think critically and logically. And the book has a very affectionate tone - I didn't find it bitter or judgmental.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    Reminded me of the words to the pledge of allegiance to the Bible, which I'd forgotten about. The main drawback to this book is that it only briefly explores the reasons for Rosen's leaving the faith. It's mostly a straightforward memoir of her early education in a Christian academy. Reminded me of the words to the pledge of allegiance to the Bible, which I'd forgotten about. The main drawback to this book is that it only briefly explores the reasons for Rosen's leaving the faith. It's mostly a straightforward memoir of her early education in a Christian academy.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Adrienne

    I've heard more about this type of upbringing second-hand than any actual experience, but I find it interesting how Rosen writes so fondly of her memories at a fundamental elementary school and now considers herself non-religious. I've heard more about this type of upbringing second-hand than any actual experience, but I find it interesting how Rosen writes so fondly of her memories at a fundamental elementary school and now considers herself non-religious.

  19. 5 out of 5

    MEGAN C

    The memoir goes through little details about her childhood in a Keswick school viewing the world through fundamentalist Christianity. It's okay, a little dry sometimes mostly a retelling without any sort of analysis until the end. Not bad. The memoir goes through little details about her childhood in a Keswick school viewing the world through fundamentalist Christianity. It's okay, a little dry sometimes mostly a retelling without any sort of analysis until the end. Not bad.

  20. 5 out of 5

    M

    So far? Rosen is a snob. A snob with an unusual ability to recount her kindergarten years in linear detail. For what it's worth, I'm responding to this as someone with a strikingly similar early childhood education (at least as far as I recall...). So far? Rosen is a snob. A snob with an unusual ability to recount her kindergarten years in linear detail. For what it's worth, I'm responding to this as someone with a strikingly similar early childhood education (at least as far as I recall...).

  21. 5 out of 5

    Alice

    A very enjoyable memoir...Rosen does an excellent job of recounting a child's perspective on a very quirky upbringing in Florida. I don't think one would have needed to grow up in a fundamentalist tradition to enjoy the witty writing. A very enjoyable memoir...Rosen does an excellent job of recounting a child's perspective on a very quirky upbringing in Florida. I don't think one would have needed to grow up in a fundamentalist tradition to enjoy the witty writing.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Gail

    pretty bitter and vitriolic diatribe. And the "old ladies" in Florida are not mean. maybe depends how you treat them... pretty bitter and vitriolic diatribe. And the "old ladies" in Florida are not mean. maybe depends how you treat them...

  23. 4 out of 5

    Maegan Heindel

  24. 5 out of 5

    Wendy

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

  26. 4 out of 5

    Angela

  27. 4 out of 5

    Megan

  28. 5 out of 5

    Valerie

  29. 4 out of 5

    Tara Stone

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mamabee

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