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Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Bottoming Out in Fundamentalism

Sophomore year in high school Bruce and I switched churches. Dad was working graveyard shifts as a security guard and doing his student teaching. Mom took a sabbatical.
We moved our membership to Temple Baptist Church. Curtis Goldman was pastor, and a man I still greatly admire. He was social gospel and fundamentalist to the core, but not the old testament prophet kind. He was actually very open minded. At the time he allowed a hippie class. The church ran twenty to thirty busses every Sunday. At this time a church could pick up a used bus from the schools, use members of the church that were mechanics to fix them up labor free, and pick up kids from all over the city to attend services.
There was a large youth group with lots of good looking girls always a magnate for boys. It was here that Bruce met his best friend, Dave. Bruce was a senior, Dave was a junior and I was sophomore and I kind of tagged along. We'd play tennis taking turns with the winner playing the odd man out. Bruce would beat me, Dave would beat Bruce and I'd beat Dave (or was it the other way around?)
The summer camp that year is one that's burned on my memory to this day. In the barracks after lights out for about thirty minutes or so there would be a little goofing off to tick of the preachers trying to get us quiet. Dennis Elliot pulled out a recorder (straight flute) and started playing. Then next day I asked him about it and he showed it to me. I played clarinet so it intrigued me. When I got back to the city I bought one (they're rather cheap). I'd quit band to concentrate on running. The recorder was an easy way to keep playing an instrument to de-stress. Today I have a wooden soprano and an alto recorder. I haven't played them in some time and I have them hanging on a wall to this day as a reminder of Dennis.
Dennis and David Elliot were twins. On December 23, 1971 they were hit by a drunk driver and Dennis was killed. I've never seen or heard a pastor handle such a tragedy as adeptly as Reverend Goldman. He comforted the grieving family and all those who knew him. When I was in college a woman that we knew well committed suicide. I was home for Spring break the day after her husband found her. We went over to her house to comfort our friends who'd lost their mother. Rev. Goldman was in with their father. He then walked him to the garage where he'd found her hanging as he came home from a trip. It was the first time he'd gone back into the garage. I was at a loss on what to say other than to let our friends know how much we cared about their pain. At the funeral I had no idea what the pastor could say. Rev. Goldman reassured everyone that the woman was definitely saved and that he was certain that when she met Jesus she looked at him and said, "I did wrong didn't I?"
And that Jesus would then say, "Yes you did child, but you're forgiven."
I've never heard such comforting words spoken is such horrible circumstances.
Many years later I played a round of golf with Rev. Goldman. He was just getting his strength back from a round of chemo therapy (and he kicked my ass). It was the first time I ever had to tell him how touching his words were with both Dennis and this lady's funerals.
He's the only fundamentalist preacher I've ever encountered that had a heart. He ministered to his flock, not just acting like an old testament judge.
When Dad started teaching my junior year he decided we'd all move our membership to a Southern Baptist Church, the one closest to where we lived. I didn't want to leave Temple Baptist (since I was rather sweet on a young lady that attended a different high school and knew that we'd never see each other again). Dad was rather insistent so we moved our membership to Del Norte Baptist Church.
Theologically I stayed with literal interpretation and premillennial belief in the end times; mainly because I'd never heard another way to see things.


Yogi♪♪♪ said...

I'm enjoying reading your history.

P M Prescott said...

I'm glad you like it.