Please, Read a Banned Book Today/The Cult Chronicles

Keeping my eye on the cultists

Ugh! It’s happening again. I can’t seem to get far enough away from these people who want to restrict what I can read or think.

I wasn’t allowed to read most books while growing up. I read them anyway.

In fact, I read many, many more books than my husband who grew up in a house that allowed him to read whatever he wanted. I grew up in a religious cult, however. My brothers and sisters and I had so many activities, including reading, that were off limits to us that I could write a book about it. (pun intended) I actually have written a book about it.

It seems that gratitude is a rather rare virtue. We take literacy for granted. In 1820 only 12% of the population could read. Now, there’s an 86% literacy rate.

Why is that such a gift?

Because historically, there were only a handful of people who could read and write. They were the ones who influenced cultures. The rest of struggling humanity had to take their word for just about everything.

Talk about utter control.

My parents should’ve been grateful that I was an avid reader who could read well above my grade level at an early age. Trust me, my reading abilities saved my life in more ways than one.

Still, books are feared and have been for years.

The funny thing about all this controversy over books is that most books aren’t read by most people. The #1 genre is romance novels. That tells me that there are lots of books that most people will never read, even avid readers. Most people are not avid readers, however. In fact, a lot of people struggle with reading comprehension and find it daunting to read an intellectually stimulating book. That’s a sad fact.

You’d think parents would be more concerned if their child hasn’t discovered reading for pleasure or can’t read well enough to read for information.

But instead we have parents storming the halls of education with demands that books be removed from shelves.In a day and age when anything and everything can be found on the Internet, it’s seems ridiculous that a single hard copy in a library is such a threat.

My parents needed despearately to control me.

They were so determined to restrict what their children had access to that they eventually home schooled my brothers and sisters. I’d already left home and their oppressive religion by then. I didn’t have much to my name, literally a small box the size of four shoeboxes contained my worldly possessions. I had no money, job, car, civilian friends, or family as I stepped out into the world for the first time on my own.

What I did have is the hundreds of books that I’d read in secret while growing up.

Books that opened my mind to other religions, countries, cultures, histories, points of view, and opportunities. I was disowned by my family for leaving the cult, but that was the price I had to pay to live a life that I was much better suited to live.

I went on to be the first girl in my family who earned two degrees.

I also became a public school teacher and eventually a principal of a large elementary school in the state of Maine. I raised two kids who were allowed to read, even encouraged to read. Both went to college. One earned his PhD from Berkeley.

The current trend toward banning books isn’t new.

Nor is the drive to restrict students from receiving a well-rounded education. I have so much more that I want to say on the topic but frankly, I feel too emotional to think through my fingertips any longer this morning. I’m forced to give it a break.

I’m exhausted with it all. People wear me out.

I left the cult 53 years ago, but the cult followed me into the government. I can’t seem to get away from these assholes no matter how hard I try. They’re always going to be among us and there are days when that thought is almost more than I can bear.

Still I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that education offered me a lifeline during my darkest days, a way out of the horrible life I’d inherited through the sheer lottery of birth.

I didn’t get to pick my parents. Yet, I was told over and over again that they’d given me the greatest gift of all, the gift of life. I knew even then, that they were lying to me. I saw their fear and their need to control not just me and my siblings but everyone they came in contact with. I also soon realized that there was a thousand ways to live a life, not just their way. The more I read, the more options I realized I had.

I’ve never thought of life as a gift.

Most people are drowning in their own cultural limitations, unable to experience the life they really want to live. Often, they don’t even know they have other options. Life isnt a gift in and of itself. Many lives are nothing but suffering and hardships. My life became better once I began to unpack the ridiculous restrictions put on me by my religious parents. Then and only then did I get a tiny taste of what life has to offer.

Books played a major role in my development as a human being. Far more than what my parents had to offer me. They tried, but they failed.

Books won!

Teresa Roberts is a retired educator, author, world traveler, and professional myth buster. You can find her books on Amazon.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Teresa Roberts

Teresa Roberts


Teresa is an author, world traveler, and professional myth buster. She’s also a top writer on climate change and the future.