I just finished this summer's must-read nonfiction: true stories of ordinary men and women of faith whose lives intertwined with abusive priests and religious hypocrites.
The book opens with a depressed woman, scorned because she does not live up to her culture's expectation of womanhood. She flees to the house of God, and pours out her heart in prayer, only to endure a false accusation by the presiding priest. Unbeknown to her, this same priest has been covering up sexual promiscuity, abuse, and robbery among his congregation by the priests in his charge for years. In time, the woman gives her only child to him to raise as a son.
The child grows up surrounded by religious corruption. He believes that God will one day punish evil priests. He commits himself to following the truth of God's word, and to dealing honestly with people. We feel his anger and frustration when he learns, as an old man, that his sons, both judges, take bribes.
The book isn't just about the priesthood, though. It closely follows a handsome and charismatic religious leader called "The LORD's Anointed". A real crowd-pleaser. This guy employs a young musician to work for him. While the musician is unknown, all is well; but when he begins to gain notoriety, the leader develops an insane jealousy.
He gauges his popularity by the chanting crowds, and begins to hate his employee, who goes on to marry the leader's daughter, and forms a deep friendship with his son. The musician's wife loves him; but urges him to leave, because of her father's hatred.
Not understanding what went wrong, the musician tries repeatedly to patch his relationship with his father-in-law. Each time they talk, the leader speaks words of contrition, cries, and asks forgiveness. He vows in the name of God to change. But, of course, he never does. Not only does The LORD's Anointed harbor grudges, he attempts murder. We see more of this leader's hypocrisy when he visits a medium to communicate with the dead, after a great show of denouncing occultism.
Along the way, we meet an intelligent, quick-thinking woman, who averts the slaughter of innocent people by defying her abusive husband. And that boy raised by the priests? He must work through more anger, and more sorrow, when he learns that The LORD's Anointed is not such a great guy after all. He never quite gets over it.
This book will have you on the edge of your seat. You'll get angry and cry and cheer. Without a doubt, you'll see at least one person in its pages that reminds you of someone you know. The best part is that, no matter the jargon of the religious hypocrites, and no matter the sins of the sincere followers, God alone is the ultimate hero.
So pull this book off your bookshelf, dust it off, and give it a read. You already own it. It's 1st Samuel. You can find it in your Bible, or wherever Bibles are found.
Copyright 2011, Kathryn A. Frazier.
Kathryn lives with her husband and children in Tampa, Florida. It's hot there. And swampy. With gators. She's really brave. PreciousHolidays@yahoo.com
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