Art by Bob AulRecently, I visited Orange County for my daughter and son-in-law's wedding renewal of five years. Five years?!? Now, I am a middle-aged widow and a lifelong Presbyterian. And I have heard of such renewals after 30 or 50 years of marriage. But FIVE?
You were the "pastor." You cut a very folksie figure, with your Southern accent, casual sports clothes and bollo tie. But what about this theology of yours: you orated on a wife's subservience to her husband (though by my calendar, we are approaching 2000 AD) and told us what a powerful story my daughter and son-in-law had to reveal. (I felt a bit let-down: their "story" did not sound different from any other young couple struggling through the first years of marriage.) But what really disturbed me was the narrow way you addressed the congregation at your community church —as if anyone who doesn't accept yourpeculiar Christianity isn't a Christian. Is this part of some new "Christian" attitude?
My daughter isn't blameless in this. She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate, and her husband is a computer engineer with a Ph.D., so they're no dummies by academic standards. But they are so insular, not the least bit interested in the world. They do not read newspapers or even watch the news on TV; maybe that's part of your teaching, too. My son-in-law is French but did not even know that an American who had overcome cancer had just won the Tour de France! Politics? World events? Sports? With them, all I hear is babble about the Antichrist and the coming rapture, when they will be swept up into Heaven while God roars around the Earth, killing the rest of us. Where do you suppose they picked that up?
I am wondering what divinity school you attended—the same school as Jimmy Bakker? I am appalled. Your young congregation is naive and about as close to a cult as I have ever seen or want to come. I couldn't wait to leave Orange County and return to relatively tolerant Tucson, Arizona, and my Jewish and Christian friends there.
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