The Dead Village: Living With Disapproval

by SierraLeaving quiverfull/patriarchal Christianity means losing approval. It means your parents, children, or spouse may reject you - or worse, implicitly disapprove while claiming to maintain a loving bond. That means that every time you talk, there's another dagger through your heart - the feeling that you'll never again have their respect (if you ever did in the first place) or be a whole person in their eyes (if you ever were).It almost certainly means your community evaporates like a holographic illusion. You walk away, and it's like you left behind a burning village with only ghosts pacing the streets. Sometimes they haunt you - follow you into your new life, reminding you at … [Read more...]

Daughter of the Patriarchy: A Jewel or a Trash Can

by SierraWilliam Branham with a woman in his prayer line. (He would lay on hands, pray, and they would walk away healed, allegedly.)If you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always had an answer. If you asked again in ten minutes, it would be a different one. I wanted to be a figure skater, detective, veterinarian, zoologist, writer, astronaut and archaeologist – and not just one at a time. When I went outdoors to play, I climbed rocks and saw them as mountains. When I jumped over streams, I bravely bridged rivers. With stuffed animals as my companions, I sailed pirate ships and submarines and narrowly escaped devastating wars through wit and determination. I harboured r … [Read more...]

Daughter of the Patriarchy: Scooby Doo and the Angel

by SierraBy my eighth birthday, Anna’s church had become our own. My father attended sporadically, but my mother and I adopted a weekly ritual of driving forty minutes through the woods, to the highway, passing numerous small churches on our way to the secret annex of the YMCA. No one would have guessed there was a church there, unless they happened by as we all bustled in with our flowing skirts and dresses and exited under the mid-afternoon sun. My mother was enthralled, talking excitedly to Anna and her new friend Sheila every day. A frequent topic of conversation was her journal, in which she recorded her thoughts and prayers as well as verses from the Bible that seemed to answer e … [Read more...]

Daughter of the Patriarchy: Old-Girl in Young-Girl Disguise

by Sierra“What did you think?” My mother asked, as our blue Chevrolet rolled smoothly out of the parking lot, mingling with more expensive cars on a fresh-paved freeway.“I liked it,” responded seven-year-old I. “I actually listened.”We were talking about our first visit to Anna and Sven’s church, an informal affair that gathered weekly in the upper annex of a suburban YMCA. The church had begun in the pastor’s living room, hosting only two or three families. Over the next few years it had grown to six or seven. The pastor and his wife had six children, the youngest still a newborn. They’d welcomed a new child every two years since their eldest.Church wasn’t a new experience for me. … [Read more...]

Daughter of the Patriarchy: A Terrible Secret

by SierraWhen we went to visit the house in Pennsylvania, it seemed remote, dark and expansive. At the inquisitive yet reticent age of seven, I hovered behind my mother’s leg as we looked around the basement of the long ranch house. It wasn’t quite a finished basement, but there was a bar installed with Heineken cans lining the ceiling. A child about my age was sitting on the floor playing with some ugly 1990s toys. We shared a mutual glance of childhood understanding: we were not agents in this business of buying, selling and leasing real estate (I couldn’t yet wrap my mind around what “real estate” meant in the first place). We were the dolls in our parents’ dollhouses, and I was displa … [Read more...]


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