Book Review: Out of the Miry Clay
Linda Fossen doesn't like my review. I know that comes a huge shock, but she doesn't. And she is demanding that I remove the picture of the cover of her book. Even though I believe the use of the cover in a book review is covered by fair use laws, I don't want to argue with her about it. It's a really ugly cover anyway, and was messing up the decor around here, so it's gone. The book title is above. You know who the author is. It's available at Amazon. For more about all this, see below.
It wouldn't take much of a guess to know that I didn't want to read Linda Fossen's book.
I'm not a fan of the author.
Let me repeat that so we get it right out there in front and don't have to talk about it again. I'm not a fan of the author.
So, writing something like "I didn't like this book" probably wouldn't be very meaningful, considering my admitted bias. I'm quite aware of that.
However, I am a really voracious reader, and my tastes are pretty much all over the place. So, I'm going to review this book anyway, in spite of the fact that I have little to no use for the author and am biased as hell. I read this book so you don't have to. It was a public service.
One of the first things I noticed came early in the book, in the preface area.
My siblings have each learned to deal with their 'daddy wounds' in their own ways.
She then asks readers to "respect their privacy."
This is how Linda "respects their privacy." Until very recently (June, 2014), this photo was up on Linda's Facebook page, set to "public." She also mentions that it was up on her web site, but it doesn't appear to be there now.
Not only does she exhibit their photo, but she also very deliberately gives us contact information (Facebook links) for the two siblings that have them.
She also told the world that her therapist pointed out that she is the only person in the photo whose hand is "unclenched." This seems to indicate that she is not dealing with inner turmoil, but everyone else is.
Only, all the others seem to have just gone on and lived normal lives, while Linda has dealt with one crisis after another, including suicidal tendencies and self-destructive behavior.
I'm going to look back through old photos of myself and make sure I have clenched fists. It seems to be a positive indicator of a happy life.
Note: Linda didn't like the previous comments about the supposed "normalcy" of her siblings and went on a tirade about how they are all fucked up. This is in contrast to her, of course. She's "normal," married to a convicted mass murderer, morbidly obese, and living on disability. Forgive me if I just didn't get it.
I made notes as I read. The most frequently used word in my notes was "drama."
Mostly an autobiography, this book consists of one drama after another. Everything that happens to Linda is over the top. As a simple example, she tells about attending public school after leaving the cloistered environment of a Christian school. I did that, so I understand that there is a slight amount of culture shock. But not in Linda's world. In her world, it's not culture shock. It's Linda, witnessing a seventh grade girl shoot up an overdose of heroin, "putting in the needle," and being taken to the hospital where she barely survives. One wonders exactly where this incident happened? Was Linda stalking girls in the bathroom or something? In seventh grade? In the early seventies?
And the husband, Gary Fossen did, in fact, murder his parents and sister by just walking up to them in their home and shooting them and went to prison for doing so. The court case and subsequent appeal is public record. He tried a lame alibi (which Linda describes as a "perfect alibi") which fell apart in short order.
And of course, Gary has a jailhouse conversion, just like a whole lot of convicts do. But he can't have the ordinary type of conversion. Not Gary Fossen. He's Linda's husband, so it has to be dramatic. He is holding the smuggled-in razor blade, ready to off himself, when he sees the Bible given to him by Linda's pedophile father (what?) and is overcome by the Holy Spirit and there you are. Saved at the last possible moment.
It's not that she tells stories that are clearly impossible and/or ridiculous (with the exception of the accounts of her and Gary's various healings at Benny Hinn crusades). Any of these things could have happened. And much of what she writes about probably did happen. Sort of.
Where it all gets unlikely is that it all happened to her. Over and over and over again. Nothing is plain Jane. Nothing is ever mundane. It's all dramatic, and recounted using hyperbole.
She goes to a hearing designed to get Gary a pardon and speaks, and naturally, everyone in the room is reduced to sobbing uncontrollably while the Holy Spirit descends on the room and floods it with light. However, it apparently wasn't a large enough Holy Spirit dose to get Gary that pardon.
And then there's Benny. Linda loves Benny Hinn. She loves him so much she repeatedly goes to his crusades, and either she or Gary get healed every single time. It's a miracle, I tell you!
She also very carefully informs us that she and Gary gave Benny great wads of money, enough that they were invited to a special retreat with about fifty other donor couples (I wonder what you have to donate to get a ticket to that sort of event?), where Linda, naturally, is healed yet again.
One of the best lines in the whole book is this:
By this point you may be wondering if I am a 'Benny Hinn groupie' and part of a fan club.
No, Linda. I was not wondering. You made it quite clear. You are.
But, sadly, and quite inexplicably, none of the healings seem to actually work. Linda requires surgery for her work-related injury (and as far as I know, remains on disability today, typing away on a computer all day long with a degree in computer science). Benny heals her of her inner turmoil, only she starts cutting herself and gets pretty suicidal right afterwards. In short, Benny is a flop. An expensive flop.
Oddly enough, the story of her alleged abuse at the hands of her father doesn't occupy as much of the book as I thought it would. It's graphic, but I expected worse given one of the comments on Amazon. The angst and hand-wringing continues throughout, however, along with long passages about Jesus and the Holy Spirit and all that. I mostly skimmed through the little sermonettes scattered all over.
She is, however, sort of contradictory about the issue of whether or not she actually remembers this supposed abuse. In several places, she makes remarks like this:
To every woman haunted by the memories of childhood sexual abuse locked inside of her heart and reenacted in her nightmares...[from the Dedication]
...bring all the buried things into the light. [From the Dedication, speaking of her therapist]
She speaks repeatedly of how she "buried the memories," and relives it all in "nightmares," with the clear implication being that she didn't remember it.
But then, as if she's aware that people will be critical if she admits that she had no memory of this stuff, she pops out with:
I remembered the abuse all of my life and this is what propelled me into a life of hyperactivity and compulsive behavior. I was trying to out race my pain but always knew it was there buried in my heart.
The key here is the word "remembered." Self-styled victims who've "recovered memories" will often speak of "remembering," but they don't mean the same thing the rest of us do when we use the word. We're talking about conscious memory. When I was about six, I fell on a concrete bench at a park and put a pretty good gash in my left shin, all the way to the bone. I still have the scar, sixty years later. I have a conscious memory of the event, although I couldn't tell you what park or who was there other than my mother or exactly how old I was. One reason, I'm sure, that the memory stuck was that I had this constant reminder - the scar on my leg.
But that's not the kind of "remembering" Linda is referring to here. She's talking about alleged "body memory" or "subconscious memory." There is no scientific evidence of any kind that such a thing exists.
The fact that she includes in her list of recommended books titles like The Courage to Heal, which is practically the bible of the recovered memory movement, says a great deal, I think.
In addition, like many alleged victims, Linda tells us all about stuff that happened when she was three years old, in very specific detail. Don't worry if you don't remember stuff from when you were three years old. Nobody remembers much. Memory is not a video tape, nor is it even clear photographs. It's vague at best, and the further in time you go from the event, the more indistinct it gets.
I suppose I would have thought more of this book if it weren't for the unavoidable fact that I have had pretty extensive dealings with Linda Fossen in the past few months, and I've discovered that she plays fast and loose with the truth. She requires almost nothing when it comes to evidence, and ignores anything that contradicts or discounts in any way her view of reality. She is prone to making fanciful claims out of thin air. That's why she can watch Benny Hinn do his schtick and actually believe it. Keep that in mind. This is a woman who believes that Benny Hinn's dog-and-pony show is real.
Here are a series of email exchanges between me and Fossen. Note that when she requested I remove her godawful book cover, I did so, even though I hadn't violated any copyright laws at all, just because I didn't want to have a big fight over it. Yet she wrote a rebuttal of my book review (who does that?) on her blog, and is totally butthurt about it.
Also, please note that I provide either links or information about where you can find the originals of the material I quote or reference throughout this site. I am not afraid of readers checking that out. In fact, please do. Go to Fossen's Fantasyland Fairytale Blog and read this shit for yourself. I am not making stuff up. If you find that I'm wrong, contact me and tell me so.
Here is the applicable law. It's from the web site that Linda's blog provider uses. There is no hard rule about how much you can quote from somebody else's work and still come under fair use laws, but what you can't do is "copy its heart." That's why there is no rule about the number of words. If you quote the "essence" of the work, you're infringing. If you just skirt the edges, you're not. However, not providing attribution is never okay. We all learned this in about the sixth grade.
Here is how Linda Fossen gave me credit.
Do you see the barely visible little line below the quote? That is not a line. That is type. In size 1.
To see it, you have to do what I did. You have to first be aware that it's type and not just a line, and then you have to copy and paste it into Word and blow it up.
Simply enlarging the type on your computer screen won't make it large enough to see.
I'm not an attorney, but I bet that "giving credit" in such a way that your readers will not be aware that you've done so isn't really "credit" at all.
But this isn't really about a web site article or a blog. It's about the type of person that Linda Fossen is. It's about vindictiveness and revenge. It's about lying and obfuscating. It's about trying to control information and paint a false picture. It's about manipulation and deception. And it's about ongoing attempts not to find "truth" but to foster "truthiness."
But perhaps Linda just learned all this from the Camille K. Lewis School of Journalism.