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June 3, 2004

Disrespecting the dead for Jesus

by Feòrag

United States: Marcella Barrett's story is a tragic one, to begin with - Her first husband died too soon. The second one, Doyle, left her for another woman. One son, Alden, committed suicide. Another one, Scott, disowned her and left her cherished religion. Surely there's no need to embellish that with lies, is there? Unfortunately, Dr. Beatrice Sparks thought so, and creatively edited Alden's diary, which she published as Jay's Journal: The shocking diary of a 16-year-old helplessly drawn into a world of witchcraft and evil ….

...the book changed Alden from a sensitive, questioning young man with a high school girlfriend and sympathies toward Eastern religion to a curious teenager who unwittingly finds himself participating in vile satanic rituals, crazed sex with a girlfriend named Tina and outrageous acts of supernatural black magic. The book remains true to Alden's fate, however. By book's end, Jay kills himself.

Though a disclaimer assures the reader Times, places, names and some details have been changed to protect the privacy and identity of Jay’s family members and friends, the Barrett family were extremely unimpressed and Marcella Barrett wished she'd never handed over the diary. Sparks also insists she could not have imagined nor fabricated the sordid details in her book. Details such as:

[After filling a bathtub with blood], one by one we were baptized in it. ... Our heads were anointed with a few drops of the urine we had milked out of the bull's dingy … [After a nasty potion and some funky droning], I felt my spirit drifting out of my .. earthly tabernacle. .. I wanted to scream, tried to scream, but no audible sound came out. However my body was speaking! Saying things I would not have said. ... Our Father which art in Hell, Hallowed be thy name. ...

Alden's real diary is very different, in length, writing style and content.

In fact, Alden's journal is significantly shorter in its length and timetable than Jay's Journal. Alden's actual journal has less than 100 entries covering August 1970 to January 1971, and never mentions the occult or any strange and supernatural events. Jay's Journal consists of more than 200 entries over a period of one and a half years. And while Alden's journal never explains his reasons for suicide, his mother and younger brother Scott agree it had more to do with his troubles with his girlfriend than any demonic possession. Sparks claimed she got the additional information, which she wrote as journal entries, from Alden's personal letters and interviews with his friends.
Perhaps so. Few of Alden's old friends can be found to prove otherwise, but even a cursory read through Alden's real journal reveals nothing occultish at all. As a flower child in the Vietnam War era, he wrote passionately about anti-establishment ideas. His entries go on about the Vietnam War, his girlfriends, his debate team, his drug use, his struggles for independence and a few mentions of his disenchantment with Mormonism. In Alden's own words:
Man, did I blow it; a victim of the occupying army and my own stupidity. So, flash, all of the sudden, I was a criminal ... a dope fiend. ... In a way it helped carry out my plans of going straight for school, brought me (strangely enough) closer to my family.

In total, 21 of the 212 entries in Jay's Journal come directly from Alden's diary - the rest was invented by its 'editor'. Teen Death Diary - Salt Lake City Weekly, 3rd June 2004.

Posted in Hypocrisy at 11:49. Last modified on September 28 2006 at 23:42.
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1: Posted by: A Voice of Sanity | September 6, 2008 4:16 AM


Critics have called the precise extent of Sparks' qualifications and experience into question. The editorial credit on some of the diaries published by Sparks identifies her as 'Dr Beatrice Sparks, PhD.' However, when the journalist and academic Aileen Pace Nilsen interviewed Sparks for School Library Journal in 1979, she was unable to find any confirmation of where or when Sparks earned her doctorate. Nilsen also wrote that Sparks was 'vague about specifics' when asked about her counselling qualifications and professional experience.

Since Jay's Journal, Sparks has produced many more 'real diaries,' including It Happened to Nancy: By an Anonymous Teenager (dealing with AIDS), Almost lost : the true story of an anonymous teenager's life on the streets (gang violence) Annie's baby : the diary of Anonymous, a pregnant teenager, Treacherous love : the diary of an anonymous teenager (pupil seduced by teacher), Kim : empty inside : the diary of an anonymous teenager (eating disorders) and Finding Katie: The Diary of Anonymous, A Teenager in Foster Care. None of these has achieved the success or notoriety of her first two 'diaries,' and none appears to have been received by critics or readers as anything other than fiction.

Wax lyrical

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