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Remembering Satan


I've been on a reading kick as of late, all with nonfiction books strangely.  And it continues with Remembering Satan.

Remembering Satan tells the harrowing true story of the Ingram family, from the small town of OIympia, Washington during the mid to late 80s.  Paul Ingram is described as a humble father and family man; a man in love with his wife and children.  His family includes two boys and three girls; of which two of the girls are twins, although one was mentally challenged.  He was a reputed member of the small community, working as a deputy sheriff in Olympia and also in the role as the Republican chairman in Thurston County, Washington.  They were also heavily involved with the church community.  The family at first attended Catholic services (of which was Paul’s background), but later started attending a charismatic Christian church of which the family found more connected to.

During one occasion, his daughter Ericka, who was a young adult at the time, was away on an all-girls church retreat.  The retreat included seminars and workshops, including a charismatic and prophetic guest speaker from the Washington area.  During one of the seminars, the speaker was giving out all these visions, of different fantastical things she saw involving some of the girls at the retreat.  In one particular vision, she saw a girl who was abused by a family member.  Ericka knew it was her, however, she had no memories of the abuse.  After attending counseling sessions with a therapist, memories that she had blocked out were recovered.  As a child, she was raped by her father, Paul Ingram.  And this went on through her adulthood, even as early as a month before the retreat.

When these accusations were revealed, Paul Ingram was quickly detained.  He was interviewed by some of his former peers and although he had no memory of the actual occurrences, he never disputed that it was a possibility.  Through hard questionings and long interviews, Paul also began to recover memories.  They’re few at first, but as they progress through the process, they become longer with more gruesome details.

We learn that not only was the father involved, but it was a incestuous family ordeal; the brothers and mother were also implicated.  The alleged abuse occurred from childhood to adulthood.  Soon, we discover that it was a whole sex ring involving a number of different members and friends of the police department.  Could the detectives on the case even trust their own peers?  Even more earth shattering was that not only were sex crimes being conducted within their own home, but the crimes also involved Satanic ritual abuse with sexual torture, animal sacrifice, baby sacrifice, and who knows what else.  Interviews with other family members followed a similar route, with details appearing hazy at first and more clear later.

However, at a certain point when the stories became so fantastically grotesque, the detectives and psychologists who interviewed the family members started questioning the plausibility.  They started noticing contradictions in the stories.  They found less and less evidence.  The question is raised of if these events actually occurred or were they falsely recollected memories?  And if so, how could this happen with all the members?

Remembering Satan is a fantastically written and unbelievable true story.  I could not stop flipping pages and read it through in just a few days.  The whole story, the implications, the denouement are fascinating.  Throughout the book, the reader is left wondering who they can trust.  Author Lawrence Wright doesn’t just provide us details with the case, but he also provides his research on the psychological topic of recovered memories and of Satanical ritual abuse.

The book was written by Wright back in 1994.  Wright is fast becoming one of my favourite writers (at the very least, my favourite nonfiction writer).  I’ve now read his Looming Tower (2006), Going Clear (2013) and now Remembering Satan.  I’ve also got Thirteen Days in September: Carter, Begin and Sadat at Camp David (2014) lying on my shelf, ready for attention.  The way he dissects a topic with meticulousness and from an unbiased point of view really draws in the reader.  I actually wrote to him this summer wondering whether he was working on a book on ISIS (I mean, if I’m going to read a book on ISIS, I would trust his research!), but he responded with “not yet”, rather, he was working on a book regarding the evolution of terror.


The book is over 20 years old, but the true story it tells is intriguing and timeless.  It’s worth the read!  Later geeks!

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