Monday, September 28, 2020

Mini Review of 'Gone At Midnight: The Mysterious Death of Elisa Lam'

If you enjoyed The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, you'll likely enjoy this book as well. The author, Jake Anderson, is an indispensable part of this story the way that author Rebecca Skloot became part of the story of the descendants of Henrietta Lacks. 

Like Lacks,
Elisa Lam lost her life far too young. This book is part true crime story, part exploration of what it's like to live with a mental illness in the U.S. and Canada. It's certainly different from a typical true crime book. 

Featured in this book is YouTube vlogger John Lordan, whose video channel I subscribe to and who investigates primarily cases of missing persons. Lordan takes a very practical, rational, ethical, and empathetic approach to such cases, which I appreciate. 

If you're interested in reading more about true crime stories, I recommend checking out Mitzi Szereto's Best New True Crime Stories series. She doesn't pay me to say that; I've just liked several of her other anthologized collections of stories. 

Gone at Midnight is a book I checked out from my local library using the Libby app. I was not compensated in any way to read and review it. This mini review represents my own honest opinion. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

'New Age Lies to Women' by Wanda Marrs

New Age Lies to WomenNew Age Lies to Women by Wanda Marrs
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Wanda Marrs was half of Living Truth Ministries, the Texas-based Evangelical Christian ministry with her husband Texe Marrs. Texe was renowned outside certain strains of Evangelicalism for his antisemitism and anti-Roman Catholic bias. Although I don't recall reading anything explicitly antisemitic in this book, it's clear from the text that Wanda shared her husband's anti-Catholic prejudice.

I did not contribute to Living Truth Ministries in the acquisition of this book. I bought it from a secondhand store, where it caught my eye with the beautiful Pre-Raphaelite painting on the cover and many beautiful "New Age" illustrations within. I bought it quite cheaply with all the proceeds going to my local used book store.

This book was a quick, easy read owing to the many pictures, blank pages between chapters, and numerous quotations, some of which are quoted on two different pages, sometimes within the same chapter. I don't quite understand that last decision. It's as if Wanda knew we'd forget what we just read as soon as we read it.

I wouldn't read this book to try to follow Wanda's arguments, since she uses a combination of extreme cherry picking; conclusions drawn from her few, unrelated, cherry-picked examples; and "facts" passed off as Biblically and historically accurate even though her sources are listed by Wikipedia under its "pseudohistory" macro-category. (Example: Alexander Hislop's 1853 book The Two Babylons is not a reliable source. It's anti-Roman Catholic propaganda plus bad archaeology.)

Indeed, if there is any reason to read this book at all, and I don't recommend that you do, it's that some of Wanda's cherry-picked examples of New Age witchcraft are examples of beautiful 1970s and early 1980s feminist spiritual writing. To Wanda Marrs, Miriam Starhawk (to name one example) is literally possessed by the literal devil; to me, Miriam Starhawk is a feminist author who writes beautifully.