I was fifteen years old running the sound system at Calvary Baptist Church in Painesville, Ohio. Typical Sunday morning, cue choir, cue preacher man, blah blah blah sermon, and the call to testify and repent. The church was a subdued, quiet, conservative General Association of Regular Baptist Church (as opposed to those Southern Baptist). No one ever went forward, no one ever testified, and the church was ripe for the taking.

A hippie, in 1980, more like a crack head dressed like a hippie – rose up and walked down the aisle as the preacher man called for repentance! The man knelt before the altar and the whole church was shocked! He pulled out his bag of weed (probably oregano) and his pipe and placed it on the altar! He wept loudly and begged for forgiveness! The preacher man went for it – laid his hands on the man and guaranteed Jesus would forgive him! He called for my dad (an elder in the church) to come forward and lead this man to the study.

Every Baptist left church that day in awe!

I will never forget dinner that day. I was stunned by my father. While the preacher man fell for the con, while most of the elders and parishioners fell for the con, my dad stood resolute!  After wailing and nashing of teeth, begging for forgiveness, the hippie asked for money and my dad was vindicated. He grabbed that hippie by the collar and dragged him to the door and threw him out in the street where he belonged.

We all make choices – (yes, I have made some very bad choices) – sometimes I wonder why I am a hard resolute unbelieving son of a bitch with little emotion – and I think back to that day when I understood. Most “religious” “Jesus Freaks” whatever faith – want the thrill, the show, the emotion – when it is simply stated “Now faith is [the] substantiating of things hoped for, [the] conviction of things not seen”  Heb 11:1 (Darby)

This is for Tom Mulford – thanks for always listenin, never judging, peace !

Tom -

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