I spent the last few weeks editing and updating my published book FULL of BEANS. I added a few stories and pictures, as well as improved the format. Since the subject matter of my beans book is highly controversial, naturally the book is not exactly popular. But it definitely gets read. My motive is not to make money on the book. I have spent more than $2,000 over the last two years to complete the project. Amazon pays me less than $4 for the eBook version, and about $3 for the print version. Since the book includes over 50 color photographs, the download and print costs are more significant.
Why do I do it? I love to write. I write about real things, things I know, things I have experienced, things I have learned. I write to better understand myself and the world I live in. I write from the perspective of a believer. Likely we can agree that 99% of all the information concerning the FLDS is negative, even extremely derogatory. I don’t mind sharing my honest testimony and experience because I believe there are a few people in the world who have the ability to look beyond the smokescreen. Perhaps they can appreciate truth from the viewpoint of a female believer who has decades of experience among the FLDS.
Please leave your review on Amazon and Goodreads. Think of this book as a piece of history. I think we can all agree how important it is to document history. Even if you don’t agree with my faith, perhaps you can find something positive about my writing. There are plenty of negative stories about people’s perception of what they consider bad experience. Isn’t it only fair to have at least one person’s positive perception? There will always be believers, and there will always be unbelievers. Many people make a big stir over giving everyone a chance to speak, yet when someone speaks up with an opposite viewpoint, suddenly that person is viewed as criminal. I find it interesting that when a woman stays true to her belief, others accuse her of being brainwashed and manipulated. When a woman dumps her faith and joins the majority, she is somehow viewed as courageous and independent. Doesn’t make much sense to me.
I realize that my views are diametrically opposed by all other authors with books and articles about my people. I personally know many of those authors. Some of us grew up together and had similar experiences, yet we have opposite opinions. Why? Perhaps we are looking through different lenses. Perhaps it’s because I recognize the value of experience. Perhaps I do not allow long-promised contradictions to define my faith or negatively affect my viewpoint. Perhaps others of my acquaintance have allowed long-promised experience to negatively affect their self-confidence and damage their self-respect. When people persist in using their energy to point out what they think is wrong with other people, it is an indication they are not at peace with themselves.
I find it interesting how some people see the monetary opportunity in telling stories of abuse and escape from the FLDS. You will even find that novelists have picked up on the scoop of beans. You can find several novels available for sale that use the media’s version of a religious setting to keep the negativity circulating against the FLDS. Crick Code, with a five star review rating is just one example. There isn’t much difference between the novels and the “personal memoirs” published by ex-FLDS. Scandalous novels satisfy those interested in sensationalism. Many people aren’t particularly interested in truth. They digest and approve of stories that agree with their preconceived notions.
There are millions of people in the world who have angry wild stories to tell about their spouse, father, mother, brother, sister, or anyone they consider an enemy. Why do stories from ex-FLDS become popular? Because of the identity of the people they oppose. If a woman in mainstream writes a book to “expose” her ex, most people wouldn’t give it the time of day. It’s too commonplace. But if you tell horror stories about the Prophet and plural marriage, then people sit up and take notice and join your vehemence. The book turns into a bestseller even though the author might have no discernible writing talent. Fascinating.
Do you thrive on scintillating secrets? Let me tell you one. Mormon faith does not allow revenge or retaliation against those who speak or act dishonestly. We leave judgment to God. People who slander their former friends and family know full well that those who stay true to their faith will not expose them or drag them to court for illegal defamation. You will never find FLDS people marching down streets holding signs advocating opinions against any other person or group. Dissenters feel safe in telling embellished stories out of context because they know the law will not hold them accountable. I guess they forgot that God will eventually serve justice.
Recently, a college professor in Utah told his class that he had met the female witness whose testimony was the deciding factor to put the Prophet Warren Jeffs behind bars. The witness admitted to the professor that she had lied under oath in court. It is now public knowledge. It is a sad day in America when people can publicly brag without consequence about their illegal action that incriminated an honorable man.
If people are going to write, maybe they should write about things they won’t be embarrassed about a hundred years from now. I seriously doubt the Good Lord is going to commend us for our negative opinions. We all know that every single human being has good experience in life and bad experience. That’s part of being human. You tell on yourself when you reveal what you remember. Do you predominately remember bad, or do you also remember good?
I would a million times rather remember good. The challenges in my life were good because they contributed to experience and character growth. That is why I write. I write to leave a legacy of faith for future generations. I don’t expect modern society to fully appreciate my books. I imagine my life and testimony will be more interesting to my great great grandchildren. As they pour over my ramblings I imagine I hear them say, “Great great Grandma Marguerite was such a…such a…Woman of Words.”
Nope, I don’t expect accolades until long after I am gone. Even then I don’t expect fame. See, the important thing is not what I think or what you think. The important thing is what God thinks. I really appreciate the peace He grants to me as I allow Him to work upon my mind and heart through experience in the continual quest for enlightenment and self-improvement. I don’t mind sharing with you the beauty of life as I see it.
I have been amazed at the reactions of a few people who have discovered my book FULL of BEANS. For some reason Amazon has neglected to publish several dozen positive reviews, but I sometimes get emails with reviews. I have noticed that those who particularly appreciate the story I tell about the Raid on the YFZ Ranch are people from other countries. Here in the United States, most people are free. If you are a typical member of mainstream society, you enjoy freedom. If you are a member of a religious group with unpopular faith and practice, you might experience the lack of complete freedom. All it takes to truly appreciate freedom is to lose it.
I thought I’d share with you three reviews from people who recognize the paradox discussed in FULL of BEANS.
From TR, Buenos Aires, South America
“I have read lots of books from ex-FLDS. I have read many reviews that say how brave and courageous women are for exposing the evil and crime of the men. I think it’s backwards. What is so brave and courageous about women telling their side of the story to a great big agreeable audience where they know they will get much sympathy and support? The men never even get a chance because everyone is against them. I think true courage is found in the author Maggie Jessop. She tells her story even though it is unpopular. Very few people will sympathize with her. That is brave. I believe her more than I believe the other women.”
From OS, Czech Republic
“I don’t think the author Maggie Jessop intended for her book to be a thriller, but I found her testimony of what happened in Texas to be just that. A polygamous Mormon community stalked by authorities after a fictitious call for help. Armed soldiers stormed into the community and took hundreds of children away from their mothers. While the children were held prisoners, they secretly called their parents and older siblings on hidden cell phones.
The testimony is all the better because the author is a woman who lived in the community and explains the attack on her faith. Thus she refutes the idea of abused women and children. This incredible event is more like a novel set in a totalitarian state, not a country based on religious freedom. After reading, one asks, “Is it even possible that a man in the 21st century in the US has a chance to know the truth?”
If it wasn’t for this book by Maggie Jessop, the public would still live mystified by the sensational media reports. Remarkable are the testimonies of lawyers, which ultimately helped mothers win their children back. “What we did was bad, terribly bad,” says one of the officials involved in the crackdown.
ZJ, Perth, Australia
I approached ‘Full of Beans’ having read most all the accounts published by ex-FLDS members, yet with a desire to understand the mind of an FLDS believer from her own perspective. I was not disappointed, and was in fact very excited by what I learnt and how the topic was approached.
The way Maggie writes is a breath of fresh air! I could sense, from beginning to end, the fun she has with words as I read them – how refreshing! Knowing that Maggie was an English teacher, I find myself ever-so-slightly jealous of those students who were taught by her, as her passion for language and writing is so clear… a rare privilege to read.
For many, the notion that the FLDS religion has its faults is of no question. It is certainly unwise, however, to write off an entire belief system and culture as ‘all bad’. ‘Full of Beans’ introduces a welcome new perspective into the canon of FLDS commentary… anyone can acknowledge that it is unbalanced that until this time FLDS literature (meaning that which is accessible to mainstream society; not including that which circulates within the church) has been entirely negative. I was pleased to learn in this book of the elements of FLDS life that I had long suspected were worthy of respect… The deliberate approach taken to parenting and to relationships in general, built upon the expectation that one works consistently to improve oneself, but is focused on forgiving others their shortcomings, is quite inspiring. I am sure that, in this way, we could all learn a thing or two about character from the FLDS people.
I was very pleased to read Maggie’s perspectives in the chapter entitled ‘Marriage’. She does not try to sell the idea or practice of plural marriage to the reader, but points out the joys of approaching marriage the way her people does. Following the marriage structure ordained of God, with the man as benevolent leader and woman as help meet unto him, FLDS teachings seem to focus on mutual service — the husband serves his family in service of God, and the wife serves her husband and children in the same vain. Forgiveness and patience, even long-suffering are essential; and one gets the sense that each party participates for the joy and benefit of the other, rather than in selfishness.
I do not expect that every single FLDS member succeeds in living this way, but I can’t fault the design. This is a people that clearly appreciates the blessings incurred by a pure and humble approach to marriage far more than does our modern society, in which divorce is commonplace and married couples appear to spend much time tearing each other down with insults and dishonouring their own union. My very-feminist friend, after I asked her to read this chapter, confessed, “I understand what she’s saying… she’s kind of right in some ways…” I was shocked by her response, but suspect that Maggie’s style of writing, with its humour and occasional sarcasm, but clear and sensible objective, struck a chord in my friend.
While at times I wished that Maggie had included more anecdotal content about her growing up and living in the very thick of the FLDS (I suppose in order to connect more personally and make one feel as though one knows the author), it is clear that a personal account is not Maggie’s foremost purpose in writing ‘Full of Beans’. Many who read this book will already have known Maggie or known of her, if they were once of the FLDS people, and I suspect she writes with this in mind… her purpose seems not to fact-check stories told about her, or to tell stories about others, but to offer a rarely-highlighted perspective on FLDS life and philosophy. It is, at once, an entertaining account of certain experiences she has had, and an intellectual assessment of her own faith… fascinating to read, indeed. I look forward to whatever writing she will publish in the future, perhaps including more accounts of her own life and experience.
It is certainly true that Maggie approaches her writing differently than have ex-FLDS writers. One might expect, coming into ‘Full of Beans’, that the author will use the same writing form and structure to defend her faith as has been used by those who criticise it. I would encourage every reader to ease up on any ideas you have of what this book ‘should’ be — I wouldn’t say it is an autobiography, nor is it a work of apologetics; and Maggie’s sensible hesitation to ‘name names’ presents a character-driven narrative. What you will find is an honest examination of FLDS belief and life, and of life itself, from the perspective of one with rich experience and a strong desire to remain positive, optimistic, and faithful.
I thank Maggie for her honesty and boldness in sharing a perspective previously silenced and too-often marginalised. I recommend ‘Full of Beans’ to anyone willing to open their mind and accept that in all things there is nuance… not all widely-accepted ideas are true or right, and a prairie dress does not simply equal a down-trodden/brainwashed polygamist lady — there is just so much more beneath the surface than what the majority would have us believe.”