Welcome to the latest stop of the virtual book tour for Dr. Jones Not of My Making – Bullying, Scapegoating, and Misconduct in Churches, 410 pages, Pluck Press
I was contacted by Dr. Jones’ press agent back in late March or early April asking if I wanted to be a host for one of her stops, and I was honored. I am assuming she found me because spiritual abuse has been a periodic theme in my blog as that is the central theme of her book.
I received it in mid-April, and I finished reading it over the next few days. I believe this is a self-published work, and comes from hers and others correspondence (emails and letters), but mostly from her journal. She is a dedicated journal-er, and finds it cathartic.
In the preface, she states “many people involved in these events experienced things differently and would without a doubt tell the story differently”. Dr. Jones clearly says that this is HER story and “told from [her] point of view.” (p. 11) In the spirit of fairness, she tried to get the individuals involved to make corrections where they thought they were needed. MOST did not take her up on the offer, save for a few, and Dr. Jones allowed additions where she agreed they were indeed legitimate.
The book starts in the mid-fifties when she was molested at four years old by a neighbor after her siblings left for school. Her mother, as an alcoholic, was neglectful and her father was verbally and emotionally abusive.
When she is old enough for school, she is not accepted by her peers as her mother doesn’t make sure she is bathed and clothed in a proper manner. She goes on to talk about how most of her primary education only had people who were mean and shunning to her.
She thought college would be different, but still did not receive real acceptance until she met her husband, Lyndon Jones. They went on to get married and have two children. They being a biracial couple – she white and he black – contributed to a broad, continuing, and incomplete acceptance for her in the social and religious groups in her life.
She also was sexually abused by an uncle when she was a child, and this – plus her parents neglect and verbal/emotional abuse - attributed to her lifelong need for acceptance – FROM others and FOR herself. She admits to abusing herself (cutting/burning) to “relieve the pain.”
She ultimately finished her education – earning a Ph. D. in psychology, and goes into practice with her husband.
The book’s main theme is her experience in two different churches. The first one is a Unitarian/Universalist (UU), and the later one, Lutheran.
In the part about the UU church (starting on p. 55), she later talks about the supposed “tolerance” of the people there, and she shows how their tolerance is relative. I agree with and love her quote about it – “…it is easy to be tolerant with something you don’t feel strongly about. The true test of tolerance is when you can accept and not condemn someone for holding a different view on an issue that touches you deeply.” (p. 71)
After several incidents where she is misunderstood and misjudged, and later when the minister reveals intimate information about her, she tries to get vindication and validation for herself.
(I am HIGHLY condensing these incidents)
The second one highlights her problems at the Lutheran church she attended after the UU church. Different particulars, same underlying issues.
At 410 pages, the first 54 take up her early years while the remaining 355 encompass the other two episodes.
I don’t know if the book had any formal editing, but I believe that the book would have been helped by a competent editor. While I thought the writing to be fairly solid, I found a few parts confusing and, just at times, disjointed. And I also believe that the book could have been much shorter, while easily making the same point.
Also, fundamentally, I feel that her trying to make her view point heard over and over by all the parties involved, went on a lot longer than it would have for me. I just don’t think I would have continued to pursue vindication as long as she did. It also appears, that she believed that if people would only sit down and hear her out, they would ultimately LIKE her. I have come to believe that you cannot force people to like you – they usually don’t change after they’ve made up their minds – no matter what evidence you produce to show how wrong they are. Maybe ESPECIALLY because you show them they are wrong.
I read the whole book expecting a clean outcome that ultimately never comes – only a sense of acceptance of the situation on Dr. Jones’ part. Her own redemption, if you will.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is curious about her story of lifelong abuse and perhaps shares her history of neglect and mistreatment.
Dr. Jones will take your questions today.
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