Synopses & Reviews
addresses what happens when women of extreme religions decide to walk away. Editors Susan Tive (a former Orthodox Jew) and Cami Ostman (a de-converted fundamentalist born-again Christian) have compiled a collection of powerful personal stories written by women of varying ages, races, and religious backgrounds who share one commonality: they've all experienced and rejected extreme religions.
Covering a wide range of religious communities — including Evangelical, Catholic, Jewish, Mormon, Muslim, Calvinist, Moonie, and Jehovah's Witness — and containing contributions from authors like Julia Scheeres (Jesus Land), the stories in Beyond Belief reveal how these women became involved, what their lives were like, and why they came to the decision to eventually abandon their faiths. The authors shed a bright light on the rigid expectations and misogyny so often built into religious orthodoxy, yet they also explain the lure — why so many women are attracted to these lifestyles, what they find that's beautiful about living a religious life, and why leaving can be not only very difficult but also bittersweet.
These women share the terror they experienced because they dared to read Judy Blume, or disagreed that feminism is Satan's tool, or had sex outside of marriage, or refused to believe that reciting verses from their holy scripture would solve every one of life's problems. Their brave, aching stories reveal a new truth.” Leora Tanenbaum, author of Taking Back God: American Women Rising Up for Religious Equality
"With a bold eye for the tragic and ridiculous, these spot-on testimonies by women cast a penetrating light on their pilgrimages to Planet Religion in search of meaning and sanctuary, trudging through the sloughs of inequity and weirdness to reach, with luck, the get-me-the-hell-out-of-here exit." Tova Reich, author of My Holocaust
About the Author
A recovering ghostwriter, Susan Tive
is letting her own voice do the talking in her nearly completed memoir, Woman of Valor
: the tale of a twenty-something wife and mother who chucked her fashionable freedoms and blue jeans to become an Orthodox Jew.
As a writer, editor, and researcher for over fourteen years, Tive has worked on a variety of academic articles exploring psychology, feminism, and religion. Tives interest in these subjects led her to become an editor for several nonfiction titles, including Faith and Feminism and Rachels Bag. Her apparition-like involvement in these projects inspired the unearthing of her own stories, collected in boxes of journals and diaries dating back to elementary school days.
Broadening her writing skills still further and determined to make a living as a writer, Tive works as a grant writer and development consultant. She has raised over two million dollars for non-profit organizations in three states and changed the arts landscape of her current hometown in Washington.
Tive lives in the Seattle area with her husband, their five chickens, and a soon-to-be-added hive of bees. She is learning to brave the NW weather and play in her garden, delighting in the no longer forbidden fruits in her life.
Cami Ostman grew up in the Seattle area in a chaotic, blue-collar family. The craziness of her childhood drove her to look for solidity and structure elsewhere, and she found what she was looking for in church. There she learned the rules about being a woman in a patriarchal institution, and there she was dutifully married as a virgin at age twenty-three. For many years she hid, closing her mind to questions that were bubbling under the surface of a religious smile: questions about her role as a woman, about the sadness she saw in the world, and about the legitimacy of asking for happiness.
In an attempt to answer these questions, Ostman went to graduate school to earn her masters degree in marriage and family therapy from Seattle Pacific University, where she began her work as a psychotherapist. She found her passion in supporting people coming to terms with losses in their lives and discovering new and empowering aspects of themselves. Ostman has used her therapeutic skills and the lessons she has learned in her personal life to work with many people looking for healing and growth, and she has a special interest in helping women going through transitional periods as they create experiences that will help them live more authentically and freely.
Ostman's first book, Second Wind: One Womans Midlife Quest to Run Seven Marathons on Seven Continents, was published by Seal Press. She is the author of 7marathons7continents.com and a weekly contributor to The Spirited Woman blogger team. She has been featured in O Magazine, Adventures Northwest, Fitness Magazine, The Mudgee Guardian (Australia), and La Prensa (Chile). She lives in Washington.