Cross, Carlene

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Cross, Carlene

PERSONAL:

Children: three. Education: Big Sky Bible College, degree in religious studies; University of Washington, B.A., 1993, M.A., 1995.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Seattle, WA. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer. Has worked as a college counselor and a producer for public television.

WRITINGS:

NONFICTION

The Undying West: A Chronicle of Montana's Camas Prairie, Fulcrum Publishing (Golden, CO), 1999.

Fleeing Fundamentalism: A Minister's Wife Examines Faith (memoir), Algonquin (Chapel Hill, NC), 2006.

Contributor of articles to periodicals, including the Humanist.

SIDELIGHTS:

Raised on a cattle ranch in Montana, author Carlene Cross wrote of that state in her first nonfiction title, The Undying West: A Chronicle of Montana's Camas Prairie. Her 2006 book, Fleeing Fundamentalism: A Minister's Wife Examines Faith, however, is a much more intimate work, a memoir describing her youth on a cattle ranch, her conversion to a fundamentalist Christian religion, and the years she spent as a wife to a young, charismatic minister in a fundamentalist Baptist church in Seattle, Washington. However, this religious man turned out to be "a drunken, abusive, sex-addicted husband," according to Matt Buckingham, writing in Willamette Week Online. Cross finally fled this marriage, taking her three children with her and starting a new life. She earned two university degrees and eventually rejected the teachings of the religious right, studying religion on her own to challenge the fallacies with which she had been indoctrinated. Cross's memoir is thus as much a personal story as it is an examination of the tactics and teachings of the religious right.

Reviewing Fleeing Fundamentalism in the Seattle Times, Fred Bortz felt the book was wrongly titled: "It is not about a wife's flight from fundamentalism, but rather about her flight from a dysfunctional marriage. It is the story not of faith lost and regained, but rather of faith discovered for the first time after a detour of indoctrination into religious extremism." Buckingham noted the lightness of tone in many parts of the book, terming Fleeing Fundamentalism "a fast, funny read about the ups and downs of life as a preacher's wife in a parochial Seattle suburb—as well as the terrors of single motherhood under welfare reform." However, Buckingham also felt that Cross's book caricatures people of faith. A critic for Kirkus Reviews had a much higher estimation of the book, calling it a "long, fraught journey into the light, chronicled with compassion and spirit." Similar praise came from a Publishers Weekly contributor who found Fleeing Fundamentalism an "absorbing memoir of falsehood and betrayal."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Cross, Carlene, Fleeing Fundamentalism: A Minister's Wife Examines Faith, Algonquin (Chapel Hill, NC), 2006.

PERIODICALS

Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2006, review of Fleeing Fundamentalism, p. 763.

Louisville Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY), January 20, 2007, L. Elizabeth Beattie, review of Fleeing Fundamentalism.

Publishers Weekly, August 14, 2006, review of Fleeing Fundamentalism, p. 202.

Seattle Times (Seattle, WA), October 6, 2006, Fred Bortz, review of Fleeing Fundamentalism.

ONLINE

Carlene Cross Home Page,http://www.carlenecross.com (March 3, 2007).

News & Observer Online,http://www.newsobserver.com/ (January 5, 2007), Susan Campbell, "From the Middle and Out," review of Fleeing Fundamentalism.

University of Washington Department of Communication Web site,http://www.com.washington.edu/ (March 3, 2007), "Carlene Cross: MA, 1995."

Willamette Week Online,http://www.wweek.com/ (October 11, 2006), Matt Buckingham, review of Fleeing Fundamentalism.