Leaving Fishers


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Leaving Fishers
By Bobby Neal Winters

One of the true pleasures of long road trips with my family is the books on tape that my wife checks out from the library. She usually picks out something that will be appropriate for the whole group, and often that choice comes from books for teenagers. On our latest trip, her choice was a book by Margaret Peterson Haddix called Leaving Fishers.

Leaving Fishers is the story of a girl named Dorry who transfers to a new high school because her father has been transferred to a different job. She has no friends in the new school, and, for the first few weeks, there is no one who seems interested in being her friend, but then she is approached by a group of kids who sit together at lunch. After she becomes comfortable with them, she discovers they are all members of a church called the Fishers of Men.

I must say that I was a bit nervous as the story began to unfold because there are quite a few folks out there—with or without reason—who are anti-Christian and anti-religion. Leaving Fishers was not written by one of those people.

The Fishers of Men turns out to be a cult. As the book proceeds, Dorry is drawn in deeper and deeper, giving up all of her spare time and building walls between herself and anyone who is not a member of Fishers.

This is all very disturbing and, for me, quite thought provoking. I am very interested evangelism, and some of the techniques employed by the Fishers are not that far from good, old-fashioned evangelism.

For instance, Dorry is first approached by the group at lunch when she is sitting alone and is invited to sit with them. It is my personal belief that Christians, as a group and as individuals, should reach out to the lonely and offer friendship. However, that friendship should be without strings. The Fishers group, on the other hand, viewed people outside the group as nothing more than simply pieces of meat, who were to be manipulated and controlled.

The human being is so much a social animal that our perception of truth is colored by what group we are in. Dorry is manipulated by her “discipler” Angela who becomes the sole interpreter of truth for her. Fishers becomes so identified with God in Dorry’s mind that she cannot separate the two. She cannot break the chains that bind her to Fishers until there is an incident which makes her angry enough at God to walk away from him regardless of the consequences.

Even after her break, Fishers is still so closely tied with God in her mind that it takes time to separate the two.

I would recommend this book to those who are interested in religion and the religious dynamic. It should provide food for thought for people of diverse points of view.

(Bobby Winters is a professor of mathematics, writer, and speakers. You may contact him at bobby@okieinexile.com or visit his website at www.okieinexile.com.)
Sounds like a fascinating book, Okie. I'm putting it on my reading list. I think a lot about what it means to be evangelical in a positive, loving way. It is frightening that some will use friendship and "love-bombing" to pull a vulnerable person out of the social network and into something dark.

My wife and I tried to get into the heads of the middle-ranked leaders. Behaving as they do, how could they possibly believe they are doing it out of love? It's given me a lot of food for thought.