Girl on a Wire: Walking the Line Between Faith and Freedom in the Westboro Baptist Church Book Review

We can choose our friends, we can choose our romantic partners. But we cannot choose our family.

Libby Phelps grew up in the most notorious family in America: the Westboro Baptist Church. The granddaughter of the group’s founder, Fred Phelps, Libby towed the family cause until she reached early adulthood. Then something changed. Her life and her life altering decision is detailed in the book, Girl on a Wire: Walking the Line Between Faith and Freedom in the Westboro Baptist Church. Ms. Phelps, along with journalist Sara Stewart writes about her growing up inside the Westboro Baptist Church and the slow shift she made towards the outside world.

While the book is a little slow at some points, it is also quite fascinating. I found her story to be fascinating because only someone who has grown up in a group like the Westboro Baptist Church can fully explain what it is like to live that life. It is also fascinating because her story speaks of the duality of freedom of speech. On one hand, we can say what we like without fear of recrimination. But on the other hand, what we say can be construed as hate speech by someone else.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely, because it speaks of the sometimes diving duality of what it is like to live in a democracy, especially a democracy where differing opinions are bound to happen.


Ted Talks We Need to Hear-Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks & Megan Phelps-Roper

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks and Megan Phelps-Roper come from two different worlds. Rabbi Sacks is the former Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth, a politician and a respected speaker. Megan Phelps-Roper was raised in the Westboro Baptist Church. The granddaughter of the head of the church, Megan and her sister made the decision to leave their home and their church as adults.

I watched both of their Ted Talks speeches a few minutes ago. Both were illuminating and potentially life changing.

While both Rabbi Sacks and Megan spoke of different things, the conclusion that they came to separately is that we need to not only think of others, but extend our hands in friendship to those who are different. If we stay only in our communities with people who think and believe as we do, not only will we not grow, but our world will not become to better place we say that we want it to be.

The reality is that no person is an island. There are millions of people around us and until we truly work together a human beings, the better place that we say we want to be at will only continue to be a pipe dream.

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