Attention to Accuracy

In all of the feedback I have received from readers of Breaking the Chains, the only inconsistency that anyone has mentioned to me has been small, insignificant, and easy to explain. Actually, only one person even asked me about this. But when asked, one or two people told me they had thought about it while they were reading - but thought the answer was pretty obvious (and what they thought was correct).

After explaining how many things were forbidden in my formative years, including contemporary music (even contemporary Christian music), I mentioned later on in the book that the Eagles were a favorite group of mine. And the Eagles play rock and roll music, obviously. The person who mentioned this remarked, "You said earlier..."

I explained to the person who initially brought this to my attention that, even though rock music was not "permitted," many of us listened to it anyway when we had an opportunity. And as you get older, you have more opportunities to do forbidden things.

I can remember getting in trouble because I would tune my clock radio to a soft rock station (KOST) in my bedroom and try to listen to it quietly as I went to sleep at night. Only if my parents came in to check before the timer went off would they know I had "snuck" and listened to it. But I also listened to rock and roll music on the bus going to school and whenever I had the opportunity. I also "snuck" and watched TV shows I wasn't allowed to watch (like "The Monkees" and "Dark Shadows") - every time I had the chance.

So when I said that I loved the Eagles, it wasn't an inconsistency or contradiction in my mind. I just assumed that the reader would know that teenagers find ways to expose themselves to things forbidden by their church and/or parents. And I was no different. In all honesty, this behavior of sneaking was modeled for me by the adults in my life. Mixed swimming was forbidden, so we went out of town to do it. I have pictures of our family being at motel pools with other church members and we were all in bathing suits. But when we went to visit my grandparents in Illinois, I was rarely allowed to go to the public pool with friends because my grandmother strongly objected (and pointed out that the people in her church would assume our pastor condoned mixed bathing).

So for anyone who grew up as I did, I think the assumption of "sneaking" would be obvious. The reason I am even mentioning it is because I'm pleased that has been the only inconsistency anyone has pointed out. Not one person has challenged a single fact in the book. Before the book was in print, there were people calling me a liar and my book a pack of lies. But not after it was published.

My book could have been far more salacious if that was the kind of book I had wanted to write. But it wasn't. I never had any desire to write the kind of 'tell all' that some people were obviously anticipating. Someone wrote to me recently and told me that he had spoken to quite a few people about my book. He thought it was interesting that the ones who had actually bothered to read it had positive comments. But the ones who had NOT bothered to read it for themselves strongly objected to it. I told him that did not surprise me.

I just about drove friends crazy with my attention to detail as I was writing the book. I was so determined not to make even the smallest mistake in recounting my history or anyone else's - or to embellish anything. I preferred to err on the side of stating something too softly as opposed to saying it harshly. I confirmed and reconfirmed every memory, every detail, through multiple sources. My credibility and integrity were so important to me. Which brings me to the reason I am even writing about this on my blog this morning.

I read this quote in a book I'm reading right now and it perfectly described my passion as I wrote Breaking the Chains.

"While passion may induce some people to exaggerate, it may drive others to be all the more meticulous and accurate so as not to compromise the credibility of the message they wish to communicate." -Norman Geisler

Comments

Libby said…
Since I did get honorable mention in the book I would like to say that there are inaccuracies but to draw attention to them would not serve any purpose, and yes, I read the whole book. What you wrote mattered to me. I thought I might be in it. Go figure.

A good portion of the book is subjective and to try to argue subjective points with someone who would write such a personal memoir for the purpose that this book was written, would be counter productive at best. It is what it is, for better or worse.

You say it helped bring you deliverance....and I say that there is a better way..Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. In Him we live and breath and have our being.

I am praying for John's full recovery. God's mercy endureth forever.

Peace and grace.
Libby
Shari said…
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Shari said…
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Shari said…
For friends who are reading and don't know who Libby is; she is Jennifer's mother. She is not identified by name in the book.

Libby, to say "there are inaccuracies but to draw attention to them would not serve any purpose" is ambiguous. If you want to challenge the integrity of the book, please be specific and I will respectully respond.

The two deleted comments above this were mine. I decided that I said more than was necessary. I wish you no harm, but your presence does not demonstrate grace or peace to me, Libby. I cannot honestly say that I welcome you here. But my blog is public and I won't censor your comments.
I'm grateful to see how your journey after publication has unfolded. I'm on the verge myself, planning a June 15th release if, Lord willing, all goes well. I am curious to see what will transpire in the following weeks and months. Blessings to you!
Anonymous said…
Shari,

What I have learned on this journey that we have gone on is that the people from this group make these types of statements about truth and try to make it look like we haven't told the truth but when pressed they can't seem to find the examples where we lied. It is a tactic that was well taught at CGT.

I can't imagine trying so hard to deny what so many know is the truth. They even know it is true, that makes it even more bizzare to me.

I don't understand people like the above poster Libby. I would think after all that has happened she wouldn't be the one to challenge this, considering you were so very kind to her and others in that book, considering what you could have written, what I would have written.

All you would of had to do was take quotes out of emails they sent out to several people and use their own words to prove your point about the character of them. Do they not realize that you kept everything that you were given or sent by them?

I don't think that anyone would be shocked that Libby would be the one to make this comment and then not willing to back any of it up. But in fairness to Libby, her pastor is Steve Farmer and she has been taught that truth is not important. When the people stand behind a 'pastor" who will lie under oath then I don't think it should be a shock that they would challenge the truth at this point.

I think the fact that they don't say anything public about the fact that their pastor lied, the trustees lied and other members lied to the press but they challenge us in the public when we are the only ones telling the truth about what happened to us there. I think that speaks volumes to what was important to them. Truth never has been.

She still believes that the best thing for me and my sisters were being raised in CGT. After all of this she still stands behind that decision as being what was best for us. After all the lies and the abuse that has come to surface she still thinks that was the best place for us to be raised at. I think that says enough.

I want you to know that I love you and you have been an amazing friend to me. I appreciate you for telling the truth and being there for me during this journey. You were there for me when my family chose to stand for their own comfort instead of standing up for the truth.
Anonymous said…
I didn't mean for my comment to be anonymous. Jennifer Meier-Beita wrote the above comment.
Shari said…
Hillary, please let me know when your book is available. I would very much like to read it. And thanks for your comment.

Jennifer, I treasure your friendship. Thanks for "speaking up." I love you. And if I had it all to do over again, I would.
Libby said…
I would love to meet with you in person and I would be more than happy to share with you what I found in the book.

I would like to see you, not just because of the book. If you would want to that would be great, if not, then that's OK too.

Libby
Jennifer said…
These comments by Libby are just bizarre. She publicly called you a liar and then when called on it she wants to meet you in private. If she wanted this to be a private matter then why didn't she send you that comment in an email instead of putting it on a public blog?

For so many years we have heard from that group that they just don't understand why we don't just get over it. Well, I can't say we have gotten over it but we are trying to move on and take what we have learned from it to move forward in our lives. But for some reason people at CGT are wanting to keep that line between us opened. Why now? Why not just leave us all alone?

It's all so fake to me. They don't know any of us. They have judged our hearts and motives (example Libbys first comment) and treated us like we did something wrong by telling the truth.

The truth wasn't relevant to the members of CGT or GAC then and it isn't relevant to them now. Nothing has changed over there other than hair length and dress code.

I wasn't sure if I was going to point this out or not but I am.

Libby, you call Shari a liar and make statements about her purpose for writing this, as if you know her heart or her motives. You are condescending when saying it brought her deliverance to write this book and point out Jesus is the way, as to try to make it appear that she doesn't know who her deliverer is.

Well 2 things. First, she actually knows who Jesus is and his works on the cross. Her entire life is centered around the works done on the cross by Jesus our God unlike CGT who believes he is a created being and completely denies the deity of Christ.

Second, to write such an email and then ended it with "I am praying for John's full recovery. God's mercy endureth forever" was suspect at best.

Maybe you should pay more attention to your purpose in writng this to Shari instead of trying to figure out her motives behind writing her book.

You should leave it to God to figure out peoples motives and pay more attention to working on the only one you can change, yourself.
Shari said…
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Shari said…
I did have some of those same thoughts myself, Jennifer.

I don't honestly know what the motive behind these comments were. But I think if someone is going to publicly dispute the accuracy and integrity of my book, then they should be willing to go on record publicly with the facts they dispute, as well as going on record with their version of the truth. To suggest I misrepresented the truth openly and then request a private discussion; well, that just doesn't interest me.

I responded to Libby in an email explaining my position.

Jennifer, you said:
"Libby, you call Shari a liar and make statements about her purpose for writing this, as if you know her heart or her motives. You are condescending when saying it brought her deliverance to write this book and point out Jesus is the way, as to try to make it appear that she doesn't know who her deliverer is."

You expressed my sentiments here so perfectly, Jennifer. I do know who my deliverer is...and what He has delivered me from. The book is my testimony. I certainly did not anticipate Libby's approval. But I was surprised she would suggest I did not tell the truth. Not one person previously has. Even people who are not happy I wrote it have communicated to me that it is factual, fair and kind.

There were many things I could have included in the book that I chose not to in order to spare people from unnecessary embarrassment. Even people who have been unkind to me.

I will be 100% honest and vulnerable in admitting this. I had hoped Libby would read my book and feel my heart as a result. I had hoped that she would see how wrong she was about my motives and know how sincerely I have only wanted to be your friend and do the right thing. I'm disappointed that the only reason she bothered to read it was because she thought she might be in it. I realize now that there was no interest in me or my heart or any struggle I've gone through. I'm disappointed by this, but I am not shocked.
Libby said…
You have read way too much into my comment.

What prompted me to want to comment is that you have said more than once that the only people that questioned your book had not read it. I read it and I question it. You try to represent the intent of others and their motives all the while claiming that it is complete truth. No one can write a subjective book on religion, family relationships nor the dynamics of other families and it not contain the bias and prejudices of the author. A book on the culture, on how you were raised, on doctrines you were taught, on the contradictions that you witnessed, etc., can be presented clearly but there were misrepresentations in your book regarding the behavior and intent of others. That's it. That is what I wanted to discuss in private because I thought it could be a productive conversation. Face to face would translate better. And whether you choose to believe me or not, I still feel your heart. I do. But I feel other things coming from you too. I have them also. Those other things that I feel are things that should not be between Christians. I really would like to talk face to face.

I am no longer disheartened by how bad it has been, how much hurt has been spread around nor how big the divide. To be a follower of Jesus we must be reconciled. That would be a wonderful thing....sometimes it happens but not always. However, God's mercy endureth forever. (I quote that a lot).

My comments about John aren't bizarre but it is an attempt to have a disagreement and yet not forget what is more important in this moment.

I know that you know Jesus. My other statement regarding the book was about you having said it brought you deliverance while writing it. But it is a book...and its effects on you are temporal but the lasting effects for any of us, is finding all that we need in Jesus. The book brought pain for some and satisfaction for others. In Jesus,it is all good. I didn't really say that very well before and I don't mean it as a corrective statement but a reminder to us all.
Libby
Shari said…
Libby, There are several statements I want to respond to.

"You try to represent the intent of others and their motives all the while claiming that it is complete truth...there were misrepresentations in your book regarding the behavior and intent of others."

I would assume you mean that you feel I misrepresented you. But you are still being vague rather than specific. I did not attribute motives to anyone in the book. I wrote my observations, experiences and reflections, but I did not go so far as to tell the reader what anybody's motive was. That was something I did not want to do. So I intentionally posed questions rather than giving answers when it came to motive. You may feel that there was an implication, but I would ask that you direct me to a page and a line where I told the reader what someone's motive was. And tell me what I said that was not the truth. You can do it on my blog or you can write it in an email. We don't need to be face to face.

You have written other things to me in emails. You have made very harsh accusations of MY motives in emails. You have claimed I am not your daughter's friend and I don't really care about her. You have told me that I was using her for my own agenda. And yet you feel comfortable to lecture me on this subject. Do you not see the hypocrisy in that?

Do you remember telling me that you did not have to "validate your Christianity" by accepting my "gratuitous gesture of affection" after you refused to greet me in a parking lot? I did not quote you in the book because my goal was not to embarrass you. But you come to my blog now to challenge my truthfulness and offer me spiritual guidance on how to be delivered? Really, Libby? You have never retracted ANY of the accusations you have made about me, nor have you ever asked forgiveness for your harsh judgments. Do you remember calling all of us (who showed up to support Jennifer in court) parasites? But you say what you really wanted out of this was reconciliation? I am not going to call you a liar, but it just seems like your initial approach might have been slightly different if you really hoped we would be reconciled to one another.

Let me just state that, even without an apology, I forgive you for the way you have judged me. I release you from owing me anything, including an apology. I remind you that I did ask you to forgive me for offending you long ago, but you never asked me to forgive you for anything. When I think of reconciliation, I don't think of setting someone straight about what they've done wrong, I think about what I may have done that I need to make right. I don't feel that from you. You have made it clear from the start that you intend to set me straight.

"To be a follower of Jesus we must be reconciled. That would be a wonderful thing....sometimes it happens but not always."

What is required of us is repentance and forgiveness. But we are also to use wisdom. As I told you in my email, I feel guarded with you because there is no trust. It's not that I don't forgive you for your misjudgments. But I don't think it is wrong in God's eyes for me to be cautious after many painful past experiences.

"My other statement regarding the book was about you having said it brought you deliverance while writing it. But it is a book...and its effects on you are temporal but the lasting effects for any of us, is finding all that we need in Jesus."

You misunderstood me. I was not giving credit to the book for my deliverance. I was saying that I believe God used the book to complete my healing and deliverance. And I still believe that. God works in all sorts of ways. I give ALL the glory to HIM. But through the writing of the book, HE gave me closure I never thought I would have.
Shari said…
Whether you believe me or not, I did not write the book to hurt anyone. If I had, there would be a whole lot of stuff in it that is missing. I think it is very apparent I did not want to be hurtful with the book. I agonized all the way through over hurting anyone. And I am not over-stating that. I was at times in absolute agony. I prayed my way through it and I know others were praying for me. I often asked God to block me if I was not in His will. And God knew the sincerity of my heart and those prayers.

As I said in my email, I don't have anything to prove to you. At one time, I was crushed by what you believed about me and my motives. But I'm not anymore. It's okay if you misjudge me. I am at peace with that because I know that God knows my heart.

I guess that's why I don't feel like I need to meet with you. I don't need to set you straight on anything. And I don't need your understanding anymore.

If there is something specific you want to say to me and don't want to say it openly on the blog, feel free to say it in an email. If my hearing you out will enable you to feel reconciled with me biblically, I will do everything in my power to help achieve that. I have asked your forgiveness for offending you in the past. And I have offered my forgiveness without requiring an apology. I feel like I have done what God expects of me. I just don't want to get together in person and I don't feel compelled by Scripture to do that.