Fundamentalist Mormons, Essential Oils, and the Antiestablishment Gospel

Anxious Bench | 9/26/2018 | Staff
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BYU student Tara Westover was suffering from a two-day earache that caused her to miss church. Then the earache turned into a constant sharp stab in the head. She developed a fever, and her vision got distorted to the point where it wasn’t safe to drive.

Her boyfriend asked what she had taken. “Lobelia,” she said. “And skullcap.” “I don’t think they’re working,” he said.” She replied, “They will. They take a few days.”

Boyfriend - Bottle - Pills - People - Pain

Later, the boyfriend popped open a bottle and gave her two red pills. “This is what people take for pain,” he said. “Not us,” Westover replied. “Mother always said that medical drugs are a special kind of poison, one that never leaves your body but rots you slowly from the inside for the rest of your life. She told me if I took a drug now, even if I didn’t have children for a decade, they would be deformed.”

But he filled a glass of water and set it in front of Tara. Then he gently pushed the pills forward until they touched her arm. “I picked one up. I’d never seen a pill up close before. It was small than I’d expected.”

Twenty - Minutes - Pills - Earache - Absence

She swallowed one, then the other. “Twenty minutes after I swallowed the red pills, the earache was gone. I couldn’t comprehend its absence. I spent the afternoon swinging my head from left to right, trying to jog the pain loose again.” The boyfriend watched in silence, undoubtedly finding her behavior strange, especially when she began to pull on her ear to test the limits of this “strange witchcraft” called Tylenol.

This episode from the fascinating memoir Educated illustrates Westover’s antiestablishment childhood in a fundamentalist Mormon family in Buck’s Peak, Idaho. Obsessed about Y2K, sympathetic toward the Weaver clan when the feds raided Ruby Ridge, worried that the public-school...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Anxious Bench
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