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Pilgrim's Wilderness: A True Story of Faith…
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Pilgrim's Wilderness: A True Story of Faith and Madness on the Alaska… (original 2013; edition 2013)

by Tom Kizzia (Author)

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3444165,458 (3.86)16
Documents the story of Robert "Papa Pilgrim" Hale and the antiestablishment family settlement in remote Alaska that was exposed as a cult-like prison where Hale brutalized and isolated his wife and fifteen children.
Member:SweeneyFam1228
Title:Pilgrim's Wilderness: A True Story of Faith and Madness on the Alaska Frontier
Authors:Tom Kizzia (Author)
Info:Crown (2013), Edition: First Edition, 336 pages
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Pilgrim’s Wilderness: A True Story of Faith and Madness on the Alaska Frontier by Tom Kizzia (2013)

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Showing 1-5 of 41 (next | show all)
Finished: 30/10/2020 ( )
  untraveller | Feb 16, 2021 |
Fundamentalism taken to the extreme. ( )
  resoundingjoy | Jan 1, 2021 |
This is a true story in the vein of "Mosquito Coast" and "Educated", except it takes place in a remote community in Alaska. ( )
  addunn3 | Nov 21, 2020 |
Good book but no surprises here. Three guesses what happens when "papa pilgrim" gets "cabin fever!" ( )
  uncleflannery | May 16, 2020 |
Tom Kizzia ran across the Pilgrim family when he and his wife (who was to die quite early, unfortunately) in McCarthy, Alaska, a town that time and the mining industry had abandoned and forgotten. It's remoteness, gorgeous scenery, and culture of self-reliance are perhaps what attracted both families.

Kizzia worked for a newspaper. He and his wife were transplants from the east, she working for the Sierra Club. They built a cabin close to McCarthy and so Kizzia was more or less accepted as a kindred spirit by Pilgrim who assumed Kizzia would write favorably of the preacher's battle with the Park Service.

Pilgrim had obtained land and being a "man-of-God" with a wife and fourteen children (a sign itself of insanity) decided he could do whatever he wanted, including bulldozing a road to his property through the National Park. The Park Service was not happy.

Kizzia did research into the background of the family as the battle between the Park Service (which I thought was being quite reasonable, although that the Pilgrim family was armed to the teeth and adopted a constant threatening posture which may have been part of the equation.) The family (Pilgrim insisted he should have 21 children, it being some kind of magical number with religious significance -- it's also the product of 3 and 7 but that never got my blood rushing) had migrated from New Mexico where they had begun to irritate the neighbors by being unneighborly, you know like cutting fences, and stealing stuff, that kind of thing.

Initially, the family's outwardly "pure" appearance and legend, appealed to the Alaskan community, always ready to take on the government, except when it means losing federal money. Cynics suspected Pilgrim had moved there to cash in on Alaskan oil benefit checks, about $2,000 per person, surely a procreative incentive. Congress, in its infinite wisdom, had written into the 1980 conservation law special exemptions for Alaskan frontier types, encouraging living off the land, mine creeks, and you know, shoot bears and moose.

Claiming that the Book of Ezekiel prohibited usury Pilgrim always refused to pay interest. Turns out he had all sorts of other religious rules that included sleeping with his eldest daughter and gradually other daughters, not to mention beating the shit out of his wife and children if they crossed him at all. The family knew no different as any interaction with those outside the family was punished physically.

It’s pretty much against man’s law to be a true Christian family, Papa said, because so many things in the Bible are illegal. The state uses the word “abuse,” but doesn’t Proverbs say that a father who spares the rod hates his child? If you brought some matter before the judgment of a state court instead of God’s eternal judgment, the choice to do so was already your defeat. The state would entice children to speak against their own parents and then send them off to jails and foster homes.

Things started to go to Hell for Papa when the children had too much interaction with another Christian family who moved into the area with children of similar age, that was what we might say more "conventional" and a lot less physical. Pilgrim's eldest daughters took off and the dreaded authorities got involved with prison being the outcome.

It's a fascinating story and reveals how easy it is for insular communities, be they family or larger units, to fall under the sway of individuals to their detriment.

See https://culteducation.com/information/8867-the-strange-story-of-papa-pilgrim.htm... for a detailed article on Papa Pilgrim's origin and twin brother. ( )
  ecw0647 | Sep 5, 2018 |
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Epigraph
As I walk'd through the wilderness of this world, I lighted on a certain place, where was a Denn; And I laid me down in that place to sleep; And as I slept I dreamed a Dream. I dreamed, and behold I saw a Man cloathed with Raggs, standing in a certain place, with his face from his own House, a Book in his hand, and a great burden upon his back. - John Bunyan, The Pilgrim's Progress, 1678
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(Author's Note) In the winter of 2002, a man with the wild gray beard of a biblical prophet showed up in the remote Alaska ghost town of McCarthy with his wife and fourteen children.
(Prologue: Third Month) When the song of the snowmachine had faded down the valley, the sisters got ready to go.
A pair of old trucks crept down the street, pushing deep tracks through the snow.
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Documents the story of Robert "Papa Pilgrim" Hale and the antiestablishment family settlement in remote Alaska that was exposed as a cult-like prison where Hale brutalized and isolated his wife and fifteen children.

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