Books Digest – Sex, Worship, Nun, Corruptible, In Defense of Witches
Welcome to our weekly Books Digest where we bring together the new books you should and shouldn’t read. This week features Sex, Cult, Nun by Faith Jones, Corruptible: Who Gets Power and How it Changes Us by Brian Klaas and In Defense of Witches by Mona Chollet.
For more books, take a look at our Books Digest archives.
Sex, Worship, Nun by Faith Jones (HarperCollins), £ 13.29
Faith Jones was born into a cult. His grandfather was the chief, his parents were loyal shepherds. Worship, a new Christian religious movement known as the Children of godbegan in the United States in the late 1960s and promoted the belief that everything and everyone in the outside world (called the system and the systemics) was a sin and that the children of God were put on this earth to spread the word of God and to deliver oneself from evil.
On the surface, Jones’ childhood was an unconventional adventure; homeschooled, living in the remote Macau region of China and traveling intermittently around the world. But in reality her grandfather’s teachings were obsessed with sex (including with children) and thinly veiled misogyny meant that women and girls of all ages had to sleep with both male members of the group. and with “systematic” men as part of a conversion technique. called “dragger fishing”.
Jones faces years of child sexual abuse, rape, and coercive control made possible by bizarre interpretations of the Bible from his mysterious grandfather and his wife Maria. It wasn’t until years later, once Jones escaped the cult and continued his extraordinary education, that the extent of his abuse deepened.
Whether she left behind the one life she had known to further her education or defied the key principle of secrecy of the Children of God by writing this book, Jones’ bravery is an astounding read.
Corruptible: who gets the power and how it changes us by Brian Klass (John Murray Press), (14.49)
“Does power corrupt or are corrupt people attracted to power?” These are one of the many questions that Dr Brian Klass, associate professor of policy at University College London (UCL), attempts to answer in Corruptible: who gets the power and how it changes us.
This book could not have been more timely: The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the lack of transparency in many developed economies (Boris Johnson’s administration would be a good start).
This book is not just a controversy over tyrants to “make sure they don’t become our leaders.” Klass interviews more than 500 people – including figures like former Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva – and draws on an abundance of academic literature to understand how people are dubiously pushed into power.
For example, charismatic leaders are overrepresented in senior positions because psychological studies prove that voter instinct rewards overconfidence. What’s more, anti-corruption efforts tend to cast a negative light on the sordid, naively assuming that voters will choose change. Brazil after the scandal of the “Operation Car Wash” elected the populist Jair Bolsonaro, who in 2018 had promised a reform but now faces a criminal investigation for skimming the salaries of his employees.
However, despite all its knowledge, Corruptible does not give any meaningful solutions. His grand design to ensure that “power purifies”? Rotation of management positions. Corruption has existed since the Egyptian dynasty and will continue to exist as governments develop. Klass’s contribution is important in mapping where we are heading, but provides little indication of which direction we should be heading instead.
In defense of witches by Mona Challet (Pan Macmillan), (£ 11.39)
One hasty glance at the name of this book and you may think you are embarking on a journey of black cats, bedbuttons, and brooms. You would be wrong. Translated from French to English by Sophie R. Lewis, In defense of witcheswritten by Mona Chollet is above all a feminist essay. One who explores the aftermath of the witch-hunt in Europe and the United States and how their legacy has crept insidiously into more sinister forms of control and punishment in modern society, from ageism to motherhood and childbirth. Medicine.
Having established his general thesis that centuries later women are still on trial, Chollet uses three archetypes of women accused of witchcraft in the past and why it resonates today. From the independent woman (because widows and celibates were often targeted) to the childless woman (being “anti-mother” was suspect) and finally, the image of the “old witch” or the aging woman (being old). has always been a target of societal rejection). In the book’s reminder, Chollet argues that by considering the lives of those who have dared to live differently, we can be free to exist beyond the narrow limits imposed by a patriarchal society.
Chollet is a renowned feminist and literary figure in France, as seen in her previous books and essays Fatal Beauty and At homeand so the book predictably hits an academic tone. But in addition to being interspersed with critical theories, it also uses a handful of entertaining sources, ranging from quotes from philosophers or activists like Gloria Steinem, anecdotes from movies, to bits from magazines. His own reflections on his choice to be single and childless testify to Chollet’s ease at weaving academics and staff in a complex fashion.
If you expect a dive into the past, present and future of witchcraft, you will find In defense of witches a disappointing read. However, if you are looking for a haunting contribution to feminism that challenges notions of independence, motherhood and aging through the “original rebellious woman” then this spellbook is for you.