"You sit up now, or I'll putcha in a wheelchair. I'm serious. I'd make no exceptions if my own mother was sitting here."
Everyone around me was now sitting up so straight I could practically hear their spines cracking. I briefly considered slouching over even further (getting thrown bodily out of the cathedral sure would have made a dramatic closing for this story, wouldn't it?), but I decided to play along. I sat up, and Scott launched into a bitter rant against reporters. I'm sure he wasn't talking about me, but it was one hell of a spooky coincidence.
From there, Scott mounted a fresh attack on the mysterious woman who had wronged him, pledging that, in the future, he would be more intolerant of dissent and more generally unlovable than ever. The crowd laughed and applauded wildly at that one, and while they were still recovering, Scott announced that it was "offering time." The words left me momentarily dumbfounded, until a bunch of men bearing red cloth sacks came bounding down the aisles and all of the churchgoers gave them cash. When the men got to me, I waved them away, and I could immediately sense waves of hostility emanating from the churchgoers around me. I stopped myself from slouching guiltily down in my seat just in the nick of time.
When Scott preaches at the cathedral, he works before a large, white board, writing in red and blue and green and black pens. He never erases; he simply writes over old words with darker pens. By morning's end, they make some interesting, Kandinsky-like patterns (for a time, the ever-entrepreneurial Scott sold the boards when he was done with them). The one drawback to the system is that, after a while, the messages are virtually indecipherable; detail upon detail piles up until it becomes such a jumble that your brain starts to hurt. Eventually, my eyes glazed over, and with the scant reasoning power I had left, I started trying to organize this article in my mind. It seemed impossible; I'd gathered enough material for a book about Scott, and more details kept coming in, but I still had no clue about what makes him tick.
When I came out of my reverie, Scott was winding up a speech: "God doesn't like failure, and mankind, as it stands, is God's great failure. . . . I want the world to know its hate is returned."
HEAVEN CAN WAIT
When the service was over, I went upstairs and looked at Scott's world-renowned collection of Bibles. Some were on metal pages; some had pages as big as a car door. There were a few of Scott's books for sale, most of them transcripts from his TV sermons. His flock was all around me, looking at the merchandise with wide eyes. What did they see there? What was in it for them?
I didn't care anymore. I went downstairs and stepped outside. It had rained the day before, and all of a sudden, L.A. was beautiful. It felt good to get away from that dark room and free from God's Angry Man. I crossed the street to my car and drove through crowded downtown streets, glad as I rarely am to be alive in my own godless world.