“The Apple You Were Fed”

9 02 2008

Anybody heard of this or read it already?

Their worlds rotated slowly until they were two strangers moving in across the street from one another: A spiritual-doubter with a psychology degree and a full-time sales position with a pharmaceutical company, and a conservative, stay-at-home, Christian house wife.

. . .In learning from the other, Kimberly and Andrea began to ask themselves what lessons they must have missed from the professors and from the pulpit.

“The Apple You Were Fed” is uniquely told through both perspectives . . .

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22 responses

10 02 2008
JJ

Nance tells me that she checked out the authors’ website and this newspaper story was a bit fruity itself. Apparently I was fed an apple and bit on it! 😉

The moral of their story turns out to be that if everyone loves each other, we can all convert to Jesus and live happily ever after in our um, diversity.

11 02 2008
Andrea Pouliot

I’m sorry the web site gave that impression. We are trying to reach fruity church people who are (like I once was) self righteous, judgmental, closed minded…

The kids in Christian homes are getting a damaging message that makes them afraid to question or learn beyond what they believe. The premise of The Apple You Were Fed is that too many kids grow up without the individuality you are seeking to offer in your approach to teaching – or unteaching.

This is a philosophy interpreting the Bible to show that faith bots are missing the joy of being free to live life as intended – as empowered individuals. I’d love to send a copy to Nance to see if she feels less offended once she’s read the book because I love what you have to say on your site. It may not be your exact cup of tea, since it’s using the Bible to support the idea of personal value and self-worth – but it could be insightful. She can Email me if she wants a review copy. – Andrea

11 02 2008
Nance Confer

Hi Andrea —

Nance here.

Who knew I could even get a “review copy?” 🙂

I’d love to read the book if it’s not too much trouble to send me one. I’ll email my mailing address off-blog.

There are several conversations going on in our neck of the homeschooling/unschooling woods that made your book intriguing and I may have been unduly disappointed by what I read on the website.

I’ll try to read it with fresh eyes and post my thoughts after that.

Thanks.

Nance

11 02 2008
JJ

Gee, you surprised me Andrea, the intertubes are amazing! Thanks so much for stopping in, much less taking time to read and understand what we’re about, and then to comment so kindly.

If Nance doesn’t want the review copy, I’ll take it, and review it here if you like. We’re a bit edgy at the moment (I am anyway) because we’ve just been having a pitched battle with “faith bots” (great term) on a longtime email list for home education activists.

The catalyst was the Archbishop of Canterbury’s important thoughts on how pluralistic society can best face legal transformation to realistically balance universal “human” rights as we also accommodate every religion’s private culture and identity traditions in public life, without reservation or prejudice.

I was dismayed to find the only conservative Christians who were vocal, were fitted only for battle, not for reason.

If you didn’t stumble on them already, here are a few of my favorite zings, to faith bots in need of a wider perspective and better critical thinking skills. (The comments are better than the blogging perhaps, for conservative Christians ready to take that scary step and open their minds to pluralistic perspectives):

“National Day of Militant Prayer”

“Who Taught NASCAR Dads to Pray? They’re a Quart Low”

11 02 2008
JJ

As usual Nance, great minds think alike? 🙂

Here’s an example of a comment appended onto a post that might fit Andrea and Kimberly’s area of exploration, for example:

Ironically, Crimson Wife just dismissed me as a “militant atheist” based on the above.

*I’m* the militant one??

Emergency Response & Military Vehicles will be on display in the Courtyard as part of the Prayer Walk.
Each child will be issued a prayer passport to take to each stations and pray for the personnel. They can tour the vehicles as well.

So then I Googled “proselytize” and found a pithy blogpost that applies to both the personal and political layers of this crusade, and why so many of us resist whether we’re atheists or not:

I was born in the campus hospital of the infamous Bob Jones University. . .
I attended fundamentalist, evangelical Christian schools from kindergarten through grade 12 and fundamentalist, evangelical churches – usually of the Grace Brethren variety. The Grace Brethren denomination, which is not as prominent here as it is in the Midwest, is similar to Southern Baptist in doctrine.

. . .The controversies – local and international – underline the importance of the separation of church and state. Many evangelicals’ willingness to pay almost any price to save souls (so what if we offend millions of Muslims, make the world more dangerous and make the president’s job more difficult, we’re sending those missionaries) means that separation is imperative.

Our secular government must consider earthly consequences – including increased terrorism, religious freedom and free speech – unfettered by literal interpretation of any religion’s holy texts and unencumbered by commandments to evangelize, for the sake of every religion, which often contradict and conflict with one another.

With church-state separation, everyone – fundamentalist, evangelical, religious, and some or none of the above – wins. The strife, persecution and intolerance in so many countries that lack it, prove that separation of church and state is, well, fundamental.

11 02 2008
JJ

Oh, this one is packed with fruity food for thought too:
History of Identity: Our Insecurities and Need to Belong

12 02 2008
JJ

And here’s one for new readers about seeing good in evangelical homeschoolers. It’s so not about taking sides, but taking a second look with fresh eyes, at anything and everything.

16 02 2008
Nance Confer

Hi Andrea —

I received the book today. I am supposed to be doing taxes but already snuck a peek at the first few pages. Intriguing! 🙂

More later after I finish it.

Darn taxes!

Nance

16 02 2008
JJ

Shoot, wish you hadn’t reminded me.
We could really use a refund too, so I suppose I’d better make time. But I’ve been looking for more gripping distractions all day, wondering how FavD is doing and waiting for her call (what are cell phones FOR, if not to satisfy your mother’s every moment-to-moment curiosity about your day??)

16 02 2008
JJ

Hey Nance, I just thought, would you and Deanne make a good Apple Munching story to tell Andrea and Kimberly?

16 02 2008
Nance Confer

I already asked Deanne to read the book after I do. 🙂 We’ll see if she feels like sharing her thoughts.

Nance

17 02 2008
Nance Confer

Taxes are done! Hurray! 🙂

Back to reading.

But first we are off to the art fest.

OK — new plan — fun at art fest, then read.

(I did read a bit last night so now I know part of Andrea’s story. . . hmmm. . .)

Nance

17 02 2008
JJ Ross

Dorothy, who are you?

17 02 2008
JJ

Where do you talk about homeschooling online though, who do you know? And all the moms we meet online, especially after homeschooling for many years, have blogs going!

17 02 2008
JJ

And how is it they just released the book a week or two ago and you’ve already read it — twice? Do you know the authors personally maybe?

17 02 2008
JJ

Dorothy’s comments are being held for suspected sock puppetry. Carry on!

18 02 2008
Nance Confer

OK, I want the time back. The time I spent reading this book. Because I was misled.

This book is not about each of us becoming “empowered individuals,” with the diversity that suggests.

This book was written explicitly as a tool of evangelism.

The last chapter, Chapter 18, clearly spells out how the two Moms set out to use the book to achieve the E portion of their church’s L.I.F.E. motto (L.I.F.E. = Love, Instruction, Fellowship and Evangelism).

They spent their time struggling with all the usual problems of life and some unusual ones — one was abused physically and emotionally as a child, one had to have an abortion, they both got caught up in the neediness of upper-middle class lifestyles and its companion dissatisfaction, they both have friends and relatives engaging in various bad choices/sins, etc.

Life is difficult. They figure this out and vow to be better people. And value themselves.

But can they achieve anything without an injection of Jesus and God? No, of course not. “Without God we would be nothing, but that should not be confused with we are nothing. When we understand that Jesus’ love completes us and gives us our value from the moment we are conceived, maybe even before, we will no longer be dominated by the endless searching for value and worth through other things, in other words: sinning.” (p. 215)

They get in a dig at atheists and agnostics (the only reason we don’t believe is because of the bad example of Christianity that so many Christians set — p. 214), discover that their parents are OK, discover they love their husbands and children (misunderstanding evolution in the bargain — p. 59), realize they should be grateful for their cushy lifestyles, realize they shouldn’t blame only others when things go wrong, etc.

But mostly they fall in love with Jesus and find a way to spread “the good news.” (p. 216) They write this book.

There is no suggestion that any of us can be happy and fulfilled, stop indulging in destructive behaviors and otherwise live good lives without embracing their belief system. (Hint: It happens all the time.)

As sincere as these ladies sound in their beliefs, I don’t think they truly understand that all of the lessons they learned are just life lessons, which are learned, I hope, by all adults as they mature and have nothing to do with God or Jesus or any other religious icon. They are simply common sense adjustments to the reality we all face every day, some more difficult than others but none requiring magic of any kind.

I had hoped there would be more to the book than I thought was indicated on the website. There isn’t more to it, at all. If their target audience of “fruity church people who are . . . self righteous, judgmental, closed minded…” can only be reached by a mass conversion and a call for more evangelism, what’s the point? A more inspirational, you should pardon the expression, story would have shown how real life people (thinking of Deanne here — and Deanne I urge you not to read this book, it would be a waste of your time!) get along and sort through life’s issues without having to convert one another.

And, one more (perhaps unnecessary but darn it bugged me the whole way through the book) note — how about getting an editor the next time around? The book was full of typos, misused words, disjointed paragraphs, missing details, etc. You can figure out what they meant to say and kind of fill in the blanks when needed, but who wants to pay for that?

Or for any of this. I’m sorry to be harsh, Andrea and Kimberly, but this should have been clearly labeled as the evangelical work it is. Maybe you will reach your target audience (and I’m clearly not it) but what more could you have brought to the table for those folks? Yes, maybe you open the door a crack for them to see a glimpse of a better life. But why not fling the door wide open?

Nance

P.S. I could never be a professional book reviewer as I absolutely hated feeling I had to read something I was not enjoying. Another career down the drain. 🙂

18 02 2008
Kimberly

Nance,
I disagree. You are a great reviewer with honesty that could only make authors better. Sorry you feel time was wasted, but I also disagree you were misled. We warned you of the Christian slant saying it may not be “your cup of tea.”

You state…A more inspirational, you should pardon the expression, story would have shown how real life people get along and sort through life’s issues without having to convert one another… Nance, I believe that is exactly what we did, and you did agree the issues addressed are common life lessons from real people. What we say (pg.162) is we combined our two beliefs: psychology and spirituality, realizing the need to NOT convert one to the other. “We needed each other to find the answers, but it required both of us to remain strong in our personal beliefs so that neither side would crumble…” We believe that personal growth requires questioning ourselves and learning from others. Each of us as extremes on our own…her a Christian, myself and agnostic, only allowed for stagnant lives as we surrounded ourselves with people just like us. We found our individuality by admitting our personal and very private shortcommings while maturing and adapting to beliefs other than our own. I do not feel converted to Christianity, Andrea does not feel converted to self or atheism, and we do respect those who still remain on one side or the other (pg. 225 and the story of our friend Lisa). Our story was to show the process of developing outside of our trusted beliefs into what fit the person we were intended to be and the lives we wanted…

I understand that lives can be full of goodness without a sense of spirituality. I believe in the goodness of mankind and its will to do what is right. Nance, I take your hint. As one who devoted years to a caseload of abused and neglected kids, counseling hundreds of people, without one mention of God, I would be amiss, however, if I did not state that I do think a connection to something beyond oneself…a spiritual connection, fortifies ones ability to sustain fulfillment and goodness in the long term. As a mental health professional, one too many people try to “white-knuckle” out goodness and “I’ll try to do better'” lifestyles with no real change. Although some people can eek out a great life, for many, true fulfillment and happiness is difficult to sustain because life is tough. Studies show, connecting to a force beyond one’s own existence has shown to be the glue that can hold people together, while admitting my way to that connection should not necessarily be your way. Christians would disagree with me on that point.

It is interesting to ponder as we hear reader responses from Christians who claim we are irreverant and blow open the door too far, while hearing you say we only opened it a crack and are all evangelical…

We did have an editor, several in fact, including the one mentioned on the back of the book. Having gone through this process of book writing, it is fascinating to read the works of others, great works, and see typos and misuse of words in their writing or decide paragraphs could have been clearer or re-worded. It can be frustrating.

You were not harsh, just honest, and we thank you for it…
All the best,
Kimberly

18 02 2008
NanceConfer

Kimberly —

You may not feel converted but the book sure read as if you were/are.

You write: “I understand that lives can be full of goodness without a sense of spirituality. I believe in the goodness of mankind and its will to do what is right.” But you’d feel more sure about things if it came with a dollop of Jesus.

That’s the way the whole book read. Let’s explore these ideas but make sure we end up in the right pew.

Clearly, this is an evangelical work and you explicitly write about your efforts to “E” through the book. It’s all too inside baseball — how many angels can dance on the head of a pin stuff — to be read as more than that. Your Christian readers may be led to consider a larger world though — we live in hope.

Thanks for accepting my critique so graciously.

Nance

25 02 2008
Nate

Nance,
I’ve read this book. I am going to throw in there that I have a degree in literature too, just to give some background on where I get off disagreeing with you. To be sure, there are things that you’re saying with which I totally agree. Your review does seem a bit “harsh,” to use your word, which I suppose is the nature of a bad review. I will especially buy the whole “should have been labeled as an evangelical work” comment.
You say, “As sincere as these ladies sound in their beliefs, I don’t think they truly understand that all of the lessons they learned are just life lessons, which are learned, I hope, by all adults as they mature and have nothing to do with God or Jesus or any other religious icon. They are simply common sense adjustments to the reality we all face every day, some more difficult than others but none requiring magic of any kind.” I find this comment to make a little less sense than the rest of your review. The whole point of the book was that they failed to learn these lessons until they used God’s love to fill the void in their lives. Furthermore, COME ON, “life lessons . . . are learned . . . by all adults as they mature”? They address alcoholism, infidelity, coldness, lack of self worth, etc. It would be nice if everyone learned how to overcome those problems without “God or Jesus . . . [or] magic,” but not everyone does. In fact, I’m sure there are a lot of people out there who recovered from these problems who swear by such hocus pocus as religion.
There are parts of your review that are accurate. It was an evangelical book for sure, but when you attack their message, it ceases to be a book review and starts sounding a little more like a personal thing. For example, I think it’s a little cheap to keep using the word “fruity”. From what I’ve read that you’ve written, you seem above that. I haven’t read a ton on this site, but I will keep reading.
One thing I hated (especially when I was in college, private, liberal arts school) was all the shots people take at Christians. You admit that their beliefs are sincere, but then, you make fun of them. I know that most Christians could stand to be more open-minded, and I believe that Andrea made that point in the book when she talked about the authoritarian church she attended for a long time. Just as importantly, I think people who claim to be open-minded people tend to accept everything but Christianity. I am not calling you one of those people, but you take a shot at their “cushy” lifestyles, say their careers are “down the drain,” repeatedly call the read a waste of time then later say that you weren’t the intended audience (which, yeah, it would be a waste of time for the wrong audience; that’s what that means), and ask “who wants to pay for that,” when, from what I can gather, you received a free, review copy.
Again, I think they needed to drive home some of their points, and I think maybe a few other details could have been improved. I just think that your review of their book needs to be separated from whatever is underlying there.
Sorry to be so harsh of your review.
Sincerely,
N8

25 02 2008
JJ

Attention “NATE” – we just received your review of Nance’s review. There’s nothing but a hotmail address. Do you have a website or blog you could offer? We here and on a few other homeschool websites have had some trollish sock puppet problems, and well, you did write an awful lot for just a stranger passing by —

UPDATE Feb 26: you seem to be posting from Ohio? Well, I guess we should hear your um, unbiased view. But I make no promises about keeping this comment up, if you choose to remain an unidentified mystery man.
Nance responds at length in a new post, “Response to Nate.”

26 02 2008
Response to Nate « Cocking A Snook!

[…] Response to Nate 26 02 2008 [refer to original post and comments at “The Apple You Were Fed”] […]

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