The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner
Ruth and her siblings grew up in a place called LeBaron. In Ruth’s younger days, LeBaron was a place of violence as the former leader of the sect there, Ervil LeBaron had ordered the deaths of people who did not follow his rule. He was dubbed “the Mormon Manson.” Ervil was behind bars for most of Ruth’s life though. Ruth lived with the rest of her family in Lebaron. Ruth’s mom was the second wife of a man named Lane.
Lane was not Ruth’s father, Ruth’s father had been the former prophet, before he had been murdered by Ervil’s men. In Ruth’s family, several of the children suffered from disabilities. Ruth’s older sister, Audrey, finally had to be institutionalized for her disabilities. A younger brother also had issues, as well as a sister who died.
The family lived in a house without electricity or running water. There was an outhouse. There were always rat droppings on the floor. The entire family crammed into the small house. Baby after baby was born into the family. Ruth’s mother left Lane at one point, after he got violent with her, and went to the states, LeBaron is located in Mexico. Ruth thought her family was going to stay in the states, but her mother went back to Lane. The family lived in a couple of terrible single-wides before going back to their former home in LeBaron.
Ruth’s older brother left to go to the states. Meanwhile, Lane’s attention to Ruth became something she did not want. She told her mother and her mother tried to hide it, everyone tried to hide it. Lane ultimately faced a disciplinary council at church, but this discipline didn’t last long.
Tragedy and hardship continued to follow the family before one tragedy ultimately paved the way for Ruth and a few of her siblings to leave LeBaron.
What I liked
I’ve read about LeBaron before, but the previous years of LeBaron when Ervil was ordered people to be killed. The sect at LeBaron is a fundamentalist Mormon sect. The group left the United States when polygamy was outlawed because they thought they should still live polygamy in their religion. The Mexican authorities mostly left them alone, whereas the authorities in the states would not leave them alone and compounds were often raided.
Life in almost any FLDS sect is very difficult. Families often don’t have what they need, and sadly, child abuse and incest run rampant in many cases. Mental and physical disabilities are fairly common in children. Ruth’s family is really no exception to this. The fact that her siblings had various disabilities would have been due to malnutrition and possible genetic diseases brought on by incestuous relationships.
I liked that this was another view of the lives of the people in LeBaron. I’m even related to some LeBarons and I wonder if they’re related to the LeBarons down in Mexico. I may never know.
I’m glad that Ruth was able to get out and get an education. Education is something that is frowned upon in many FLDS sects, especially for women.
What I didn’t like
First of all, Polygamy is on a “no go” list for me. If people want to do it, fine, whatever, they’re adults, but will I ever do it? HELL NO. Now, you may think that it’s not even something a person like me would have to worry about, but I’ve been close enough to some teachings concerning polygamy to be worried about it. Heck, I even used to talk to a guy who was seriously considering going into the FLDS church. The idea struck me as bats*** crazy, but it wasn’t the first time, nor the last time, that the conversation of polygamy came up in my personal life.
Polygamy hurts women. It hurts children. It hurts mean. It hurts every person involved in the entire situation. I’ve read plenty of stories about it and they’re all sad. All the people end up being hurt in one way or the other. Even the Brown family, who you see on the television show Sister Wives has a heck of a lot of hurt going around. They’re not poor like most of the other polygamous families I have read about, but they certainly have emotional turmoil going around in spades.
These children, Ruth, and everyone she knew were all hurt by this lifestyle. I totally agree with the idea of religious freedom. If people want to be polygamous because of their religion, fine. If they want to worship the giant flying spaghetti monster, fine. I don’t care what someone does or doesn’t do in their worship practices, but when kids and women start getting hurt, I don’t know, maybe rethink things? God doesn’t want little children being abused and he doesn’t want women being non-educated, baby-making machines, or married when they’re fifteen for that matter.
Ruth’s life was awful for a long time because of religion. Religion isn’t supposed to make your life awful; it’s supposed to add to your life.
Ruth, honey, I’m so glad you’re out.
Could you ever see yourself living in a sect like Ruth’s?
Do you think it’s difficult for children leaving polygamy to have normal monogamous relationships afterwards?