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There’s more than one way to skin a cat…

January 31, 2009

…but who wants a naked cat?

Back in the early ’80s when I was a student at Ohio State University, we could count on at least two visits a year from what we called “The Oval Preachers”.  The Oval is a large open area ringed by campus buildings, typical of what you find at many universities, though each university has its own name for the space.  And the preachers really weren’t restricted to Ohio State or The Oval.  They toured campuses all over the place, preferring northern ones in the spring and fall and southern ones in the winter.

The Oval preachers were good– if not totally sickening– entertainment.  The primary preacher back in those days was a man known as Brother Max, or Mad Max, as he was commonly known among the students.  He was frequently accompanied by Brother Jed, who was newly married to Sister Cindy.  Brother Jed and Sister Cindy claimed they did not touch or kiss before they were married.  They frowned upon holding hands, even, because that would surely lead to sex.  I suppose we were supposed to be impressed by their holiness.   We were impressed, all right, but that wouldn’t be why.

Mad Max and Co. were particularly fond of calling out the “HO-MO-SEX-U-ALS” and “PER-VERTS”.  As far as I could tell, that included everyone.  If you tried to claim to already be a Christian, they then added “hypocrite” to the list.  But railing against “HO-MOs” seemed to be their favorite pasttime.  And they had a list of who they thought that included.  They could also tell just by looking at you if you were so inclined.  Actually, they couldn’t, but they didn’t seem to mind making the judgment anyway.  The amount of hate and judgment they spewed forth on The Oval on the days there were visiting was amazing.  They could attract a crowd of gawkers and hecklers in nothing flat. 

Max Lynch died in 2000.   But Brother Jed Smock and Sister Cindy?  They are still going strong.  Hope told me a few weeks ago that she bumped into Brother Jed on campus at LSU.  He’s been at it since at least the mid-’70s.  They still visit OSU, and you can find YouTube videos of them there on The Oval, the same surroundings that provided me with my final project for my photography class my senior year of college, though Mad Max was preaching at the time I shot the photos. 

I don’t recall hearing any kindness from the campus preachers.  I only heard love mentioned when John 3:16 was aimed like a flame thrower at the crowds of “perverts” and “homos” headed straight for the fires of hell (that was all of us).  And I never heard John 3:17 mentioned, where it says that Jesus didn’t come into the world to condemn it but to save it.  Mostly I cringed as I listened to them shout a message of hate in the name of Love.  They really believed in their “service” to God.  But I couldn’t see Jesus in it then, and I still can’t.  I just don’t understand how that message is Good News.

I am continually reminded that Love is truly a revolution.  Fear and hatred can accomplish powerful things, but not great things. Love, however, accomplishes powerful AND great things.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Hope permalink
    January 31, 2009 7:37 pm

    Amen, sista!

  2. February 2, 2009 4:18 am

    True. People like that give Christians a bad reputation. It’s sad. We’re fortunate to be part of a church that’s trying to break through that stereotype.

  3. Rich permalink
    February 2, 2009 11:33 am

    Wow. I remember Brother Jed visiting the University of Illinois’s quadrangle (Quad) and gathering quite the crowd, mainly folks who were interested in entertainment. He kept talking about God’s “RAAAYYY GUUNNN”. He didn’t have much of an impact on me as I went on my own way in opposition to God.

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