Blest Atheist

Blest Atheist

by Elizabeth Mahlou

Paperback

$19.95
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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781933455112
Publisher: MSI Press
Publication date: 01/01/2009
Pages: 260
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.55(d)

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Blest Atheist 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
frannyji on LibraryThing 17 days ago
If you want a good read, read this book! Initially, the title did not especially grab me though I was intrigued by the thought of an atheist considering herself blest. Elizabeth Mahlou grew up in a violently abusive family, yet one that was outwardly respectable and church going. She made the decision as a teenager to be an atheist. How could there be a god or God when she and her siblings experienced so much physical abuse, especially from their mother. The author refused to be cowed. She and her siblings (the 8-pack) went on to break out of the mold, and not repeat the abuse with their own families.Elizabeth became an linguist and expert in all things Russian. She weaves her own story through the story of Shura, a artisticaslly talented lad rescued from certain death because of spina bifida. The whole book is a beautifully woven tapestry. I only got lost once and that was in one chapter with a lot of Russian names and connections.One of the prominent threads is howagain and again, people were blest by her. She could not help but be a blessing to others. And, even though in her head she was an atheist, in her heart she was not. It was great to read of how her heart and head came together where she found herself in a profound experience with God that bypassed her mind before finally capturing it.I'm so glad I read it. I have stickers all through the book at places to which I want to return for further ponder.
kateleversuch on LibraryThing 17 days ago
This is the story of Elizabeth Mahlou's life. It is harrowing and encouraging. She is honest, realistic and humble. The book begins with Beth telling us about how she spoke at a Russian Orthodox church about her role as a Good Samaritan in helping Shura, a boy in Siberia with Spina Bifida. The book is full of how she meets people, how she connects and copes in different countries and how her contacts and friends enable her to help many people. She has multiple degrees, can talk a range of languages and has many fascinating stories, such as how she was one of the only American's allowed in Russia during the Cold War. Yet she does not brag and is not big headed. She is honest and humbled by her truely amazing experiences. She sees all of them as a chance to help others. She talks about her family and the abuse all her siblings suffered from different family members but how they supported each other and looked out for each other, and ultimately survived.The second part of her book examines how she changed from an atheist to a practising Christian. She talks about how God has always rescued her, had a plan and loved her. How all the "coincidences" in her life were likely to be from God. She relays miracles she has seen, the faith of others and how ultimately her life was changed.This is an amazing read. Even if you aren't interesting in God or religion this book is inspiring and beautiful. Many lives have been changed through Mahlou's work, and I think maybe will be changed by this book. This is a must read.9/10
mckait on LibraryThing 17 days ago
This book was unquestionably well written. I have found however, a few places where it seems to contradict itself. For instance after repeated telling about verbal and physical abuse in her home ( the burning house) The author then says that her parents were not monsters. Up until that point, she had very pointedly portrayed them as such. The author represented herself as the Good Samaritan. She certainly did a good thing or two. I have to admit to feeling uncomfortable reading the many ways the author praised herself. She made sure the reader understands that she is the antithesis of her abusive, mean and horrible parents, despite daily beatings an other abuses. She is in fact just short of sainthood, apparently. This is the story of the authors life in an abusive childhood home. She overcame this to become a very well educated, expert in languages and education of K-12. She has two special needs children of her own, and has gone out of her way to help a young man with physical disabilities to receive medical help. She has also gone out of her way to tell us how much she has done for him and others over the years. Despite her many assurances of her own goodness I still feel that there is a mean spirited undertone . I just couldn't like her. This affected my view of the book, which was, after all, about her. I did not enjoy this book,
spbooks on LibraryThing 17 days ago
The title of this book captured my attention. How often do you hear an atheist use the language of blessing? Before I read the book, I wondered whether it was a current atheist writing about how they were blessed despite being an atheist. That wasn't so. Instead, the author, Elizabeth Mahlou, is a Christian who once was an atheist.Mahlou describes her horrific childhood of constant physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. Through it all, she has an indominatable spirit that always hopes and always survives. She recounts the way in which, looking back from her now Christian perspective, she sees how God blessed her, even when she was an atheist.For Mahlou, God is intimately involved in everything that happens(ed) in her life (indeed, in everyone's life). Prior to her conversion, she ascribed all the "miracles" of coincidence to Serendipity, not realising, at the time, that it was God working in her life.Mahlou developed into a scholar with expertise in K-12 education and many languages who travelled widely and was highly influential (it would seem). She calls herself a Good Samaritan because of her natural tendency to help those in need -- seeing this tendency now as the impulse of the divine working in her life.Mahlou writes poetically. There are some inconsistencies here and there and, in my opinion, she gets bogged down in detail at times - I became bored with some of the story. And, at times, one gets the impression that she praises herself a little too much, despite the ultimate message of the book that the glory should go to God. But perhaps that can be forgiven when you think of her origins and what she has had to overcome.The most interesting part of the book, for me, was the story of her conversion to Christianity and her move from a predominantly rationalist view of reality to one which is quite mystical. The book finishes on a very spiritual note with a hope that atheists (and others) who read the book may come to appreciate the reality of God in their lives even before they may come to recognise God.Some may find it hard to describe as miraculous some of the coincidences that Mahlou describes (I certainly did). But whatever you think about it, the story of her journey from abuse, to atheism, to Christianity is interesting. I just would have liked her to spend a bit more time on those mountains rather than spending so much time in the valleys of detail.
elleayess on LibraryThing 17 days ago
Blest Athiest follows the life of Elizabeth Mahlou, from her severely abusive childhood to her quest to care for a Russian child with a disabling disease that one of her children have. Mahlou has turned from Christianity as she was raised in a Christian home full of physical abuse. In her teens, she decided to become an athiest because of this. However, during her life, she continues to see blessings coming her way and ways in which she has blessed others. It appears to make Mahlou question her status as an athiest. Mahlou's writing was very good, but tended to drag on at times. Some parts of the book I was simply enthralled, but with some other parts, I couldn't wait to get to the next chapter. All in all a good read.
jpogue on LibraryThing 17 days ago
Dr. Elizabeth Mahlou is a brilliant woman who has led an absolutely fascinating life. Her public life includes a Ph.D., proficiency in myriad languages, teaching, consulting, published books, and a life of world travel. Personally, she lived through horrid abuse in her childhood. And as an adult has raised four children, two of whom are physically and/or mentally challenged. In addition, during the Cold War she was a conduit for the miraculous intervention of United States medical professionals in the lives of two Russian children, surely facing death in their native land.For all the above reasons, her story is truly remarkable. The same strengths that make her story worth reading, however, become a double-edged sword in a memoir. Dr. Mahlou attempts to take on an incredibly detailed re-telling of her life¿s most formative moments. Instead of a memoir, though, she delivers an auto-biography, heavy on details with a choppy flow; the specific academic-like detail of places, times, and names did little to move the story forward.Almost from page one, I wished Mahlou had told her narrative in a linear, chronological order. Because explanations of her atheist beliefs were usually prefaced or shadowed in hindsight of her subsequent conversion, it made her unbelief unbelievable. The evolution and growth of her faith, especially blooming from outright atheism, would have been more credible had we been allowed to see the true depths of her emotional depravity.Because her story compelled me to keep reading, in the end I longed for more exposition on specifics ¿chucks¿ of her life. In other words, I finished the last page thinking ¿I wish `Dr. Beth¿ had written one book on her experiences as a mother of special needs children. And another book about her life in Siberia. And another one detailing her rescue of Shura. And yet another about her extraordinary childhood.¿And while the abuse her parents perpetrated upon their eight children was horrendous, the author was so redundant in her descriptions that it often detracted from an otherwise poetic, innocent recollection of her youth. For example, on page 79, Dr. Mahlou writes of farm life¿s joys and blessings, ¿Picking berries and grapes was one of life¿s sweetest pleasures for me as a child because one picked alone and was left for a while with vines and sun for companionship in the quiet delight that accompanies lack of abuse.¿ I wanted her to stop focusing on that particular aspect of her past and move on to something hopeful by page 80.Mahlou shows great promise as a writer, and I look forward to reading more of her work as she hones her narrative skills and moves from academia into the world of a storyteller.
thesocialfrog on LibraryThing 17 days ago
SynopsisAs a young child, outraged by the hypocrisy she finds in a church that does nothing to alleviate the physical and sexual abuse she experiences on a regular basis, Beth delivers an accusatory youth sermon and gets her family expelled from the church. Having locked the door on God, Beth goes on to raise a family of seven children, learn 17 languages, and enjoy a career that takes her to NASA, Washington, and 24 countries. All the time, however, God keeps knocking at the door, protecting and blessing her, which she realizes only decades later. Ultimately, Beth finds God in a very simple yet most unusual way. A very human story, Blest Atheist encompasses the greatest literary themes of all time ¿ alienation, redemption, and even the miraculous. The author¿s life experiences, both tragic and tremendous, result in a spiritual journey containing significant ups and downs that ultimately yield great joy and humility.If you would like to visit Elizabeth's blog you can find it here: Blest AtheistMy ThoughtsDoes God exist? Many of us ask ourselves this question, it was no different for Elizabeth either. When I first started reading the book I could relate to a few things with Elizabeth. She had lived in Maine and came from a big family, two things we share in common.As the book went on Elizabeth goes into many details about mental, physical & sexual abuse that she endured from many family members as she grows up, particularly from her mother. I was appalled at many things I read and I could feel her pain, her sorrow and it was a sad.However at one point in the book after speaking of all this tragic abuse she contradicts herself by stating that her parents/family were not monsters, that is the picture she painted through out the book and led the reader to believe.She goes on to speak of what changed her mind about God's existence and the exact point in time which she decided there was no God and became an atheist. This carried through most of her adult life. She states that she believes all the experiences, good & bad helped her develop the good samaritan she eventually became in many of her travels to Russia. Part of this went to the tune of practically over tooting her own horn on her good deeds.Later in the book is where her story comes out about God & learning to believe again and it started with a friend of hers from work, over dinner and it all started with her friend whom knowing she was an atheist, asked her to say Grace over dinner.It really is a great story about how someone who has lived through so much tragedy and as an atheist, comes through the other side, a better person, a better mother & wife and a strong believer in God's existence.Even though parts of the book seem repeated over again many times, I would still recommend this book to everyone, however it might be a slow read.
ezziriah on LibraryThing 17 days ago
This was a really hard book for me to get into, maybe it is because I've always had strong feelings on my Christian faith even as a little girl. Maybe others could read it just fine but for me I just could not grasp this book.
catherinestead on LibraryThing 17 days ago
This memoir follows the author¿s life from an abuse-scarred childhood in which religion was used a weapon and from which learning was one of the few escapes, to an adulthood working in linguistics education and parenting both special needs and gifted children ¿ and to considering anew the existence and nature of God. Mahlou is highly articulate, and expresses herself clearly and with erudition. Her writing draws on a broad vocabulary, and shows the character of people and places well. That Mahlou is well-read is demonstrated by the quotations she includes. However, the structure of the memoir is erratic, and for much of the book bounces back and forth in time in a way which makes it hard to follow. This is exacerbated by extensive sections of personal history being largely omitted ¿ yet occasional anecdotes relating to these periods being included. There is no sense of chronology or progression, and little obvious thematic structure. Familiarity with Russia and with the attitudes of the Cold War is assumed by the author, who also habitually refers to incidents and to people without adequate explanation or context. The reader can be left wondering, `why are you telling me this?¿ or `who is this person?¿ As a reader with a good education but no great familiarity with Russia, and for whom the fall of communism is a vague childhood memory (and the Cold War itself something too recent to have been studied in history), I would have appreciated more detail. I needed more detail. However, when Mahlou writes of her work with special needs children ¿ her own and others ¿ she does a much better job of including sufficient background. In part 2, Mahlou turns the focus onto her adult experiences of religion, leading to new discoveries and a startling conclusion. I enjoyed reading part 2. It has a more defined structure and a sense of direction, and the narrative is easier to follow than in the first part of the book. However, had this not been an Early Reviewers book which I was determined to finish, I am far from certain that I would have made it through the first 180 pages to reach the start of part 2.Mahlou comments that she and her siblings have forgiven their mother for the abuse inflicted upon them, and explains that she has written under a pseudonym through a desire not to hurt her mother by revealing her history. This, to me, seems at odds with the way Mahlou repeatedly returns throughout the memoir to the subject of her childhood to add additional recollections of abuse, and with the prominence she gives in her memoir to that part of her life. The book describes at length Mahlou¿s achievements in overcoming the effects of childhood abuse, in being a `Good Samaritan¿ able to help others, and in successfully raising special needs children, often going against official advice, policy and medical opinion to do so. It touches briefly on her career in linguistics and education, and very briefly on her time in the US Army. Her personal and professional achievements are undoubtedly considerable. Nevertheless, there was a self-congratulatory tone to many passages in the book which grated on me; in places this felt like an almost pharisaic triumphalism at being a better Christian than those who had professed faith yet practiced or turned a blind eye to child abuse. (I do not suggest that this sentiment was intended, or is held by the author - I don't think that it is - but merely that it is the impression given in places.) In summary: the writing was good and the story has potential to be interesting, but the poor structure, gaping holes in the story and often self-congratulatory tone make reading the book difficult and unedifying.
BookReviewsByDebra More than 1 year ago
Elizabeth Mahlou grew up in an abusive home. She tells of her mother stabbing her brother with a knife in the buttocks, and her father throwing a pitchfork and stabbing him with it. Taking an airplane ride had a whole new meaning in this family. The abuse was physical, emotional, and sexual. "The wounds were in the heart and mind and covered parts of the body." Like most bullies, their mother blamed them for the pain she inflicted. Did Mahlou's mother have PMDD? Possibly, however, medicine was not available at that time. Elizabeth knew that she had a problem with rage. She took it out in different ways. She did not beat her children. She believes that rage can be inherited. Perhaps it can, or perhaps it is a learned trait. I can hardly blame her for the sermon the young Elizabeth unleashed on the congregation of her church. She must have seen them as evil to sit by and allow the abuse to continue. She saw them as hypocrites. Mahlou turned her back on God, because she thought he had turned his back on her. Mahlou continues to share bits and pieces of her adult life, including her stint in the army. She speaks of her handicapped children. Mahlou fought for equality for her children. Time after time, things happened that many would call coincidences. Eventually, Elizabeth Mahlou came to know them as blessings from God. One of the most astute statements in this book is "There is a clear difference between an easy life and a good life." Elizabeth's life has not been, easy but her adult years have been good. Blest Atheist is an unusual book. Elizabeth Mahlou has led an unusual life. It is easy to see how intelligent she is. 2/3 or more of this book is spent discussing her childhood. I hope that putting all of that terrible time on paper gives her closure. Many would never be able to forgive such abuse. As Elizabeth has discovered, with God all things are possible. I wish her well and all of God's blessings.
ReviewYourBook.com More than 1 year ago
Elizabeth Mahlou grew up in an abusive home. She tells of her mother stabbing her brother with a knife in the buttocks, and her father throwing a pitchfork and stabbing him with it. Taking an airplane ride had a whole new meaning in this family. The abuse was physical, emotional, and sexual. "The wounds were in the heart and mind and covered parts of the body." Like most bullies, their mother blamed them for the pain she inflicted. Did Mahlou's mother have PMDD? Possibly, however, medicine was not available at that time. Elizabeth knew that she had a problem with rage. She took it out in different ways. She did not beat her children. She believes that rage can be inherited. Perhaps it can, or perhaps it is a learned trait. I can hardly blame her for the sermon the young Elizabeth unleashed on the congregation of her church. She must have seen them as evil to sit by and allow the abuse to continue. She saw them as hypocrites. Mahlou turned her back on God, because she thought he had turned his back on her. Mahlou continues to share bits and pieces of her adult life, including her stint in the army. She speaks of her handicapped children. Mahlou fought for equality for her children. Time after time, things happened that many would call coincidences. Eventually, Elizabeth Mahlou came to know them as blessings from God. One of the most astute statements in this book is "There is a clear difference between an easy life and a good life." Elizabeth's life has not been, easy but her adult years have been good. Blest Atheist is an unusual book. Elizabeth Mahlou has led an unusual life. It is easy to see how intelligent she is. 2/3 or more of this book is spent discussing her childhood. I hope that putting all of that terrible time on paper gives her closure. Many would never be able to forgive such abuse. As Elizabeth has discovered, with God all things are possible. I wish her well and all of God's blessings.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book at heart is about love and forgiveness, It is a personal journey and a quest within. What is most touching is that the reader lives with the writer her experience and the most forceful elements of her personal history that contributed to her finding God's path although God has never forsaken her. She, on the other hand, spent most of her life trying to forsake Him. I think that her denying of God existence was her subconscious mechanism to conceptualize and thus control the pain instigated by all of the abuse of her childhood. It was only when she was able to make her peace with God, she was ultimately able to make peace with herself and find enough love and forgiveness in her heart to see her parents with different eyes and ultimately forgive them. Any person who has been subjected to abusive childhood, no matter how minimal will be able to relate to this story. I think it is also these people are the ones who can mostly understand why the writer has forsaken God and adopted serendipity. I did enjoy reading the book because it is about faith, hope and mostly love, both of oneself and the follow human being. It's a stark example of continuously of one person attempt of creating a purpose in life and touching so many lives in the processes. It is recollections of a personal account that in its essence only a story of love and faith.