Leaving the Saints: How I Lost the Mormons and Found My Faith
by Dr. Martha Beck
Book Review by Nancy Mereska
Only a great mind like Dr. Martha Beck’s can weave quotes from great literature into the mundane, ordinary events of personal presence and past; twisted humor, albeit at times a sardonic humor, with a personal tragedy that has the potential to carve out the core of a human being. That same mind displays incomprehensible courage to see her trauma through to the end, and to use it for the betterment of others.
Beck’s sheer honesty is not a fault, but a pillar of encouragement to every woman or man who has suffered familial sexual abuse in a religious setting re: the sanctity of the home. Her ability to attempt a very intelligent and plausible psychoanalysis of her father, Dr. Hugh Nibley, the greatest Mormon apologist known in the modern age of Mormonism, creeps through her book with a modicum of telling the reader to understand and love her father, as she is searching to do.
Martha describes her great sorrow of knowing that she will never be a real part of her family again. Her sorrow is not myopic as she explains how others find their way to the safety of her unfurled umbrella with similar tragic stories from the same faith.
The temple ceremony rites and oaths, the embedded knowledge that in all things the Church comes first, the deferring and bowing to the authority of the priesthood all move through these pages educating the reader. The Mormon crisis in the 1960s of which the Church Authority put it upon Dr. Nibley’s head to “fix” and the choices Nibley had to make are all there.
Dr. Nibley died February 24, 2005, five days before this book was released. There are those who have already attempted to shred the fabric of courage it took to write this book. Perhaps in death, Dr. Nibley will become the angel protectorate over a daughter who was denied this while he was alive.
If I could write just one sentence to Dr. Martha Beck and know that she would receive it, and read it, even if she could not respond because of the floods of emails and comments she is receiving, I would say this, “Thank you, Martha. I believe you.”
Sadly, though, I must also point the reader to yet another book by the renown, now deceased, Margaret Thaler Singer—Cults in our Midst—the hidden menace in our everyday lives with Foreword by Robert Jay Lifton. There is an argument in this book that society is seeing a new form of mental illness appear as people leave closed societies (cults) and emerge into main stream society. The pain and suffering caused by the shunning and isolationism perpetrated upon those who leave is indescribable!