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I Can't Hear God Anymore: Life in a Dallas Cult Paperback – May 30, 2006
"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
Read the absorbing new psychological suspense thriller from acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Marisha Pessl. Learn more
About the Author
Wendy J. Duncan, LBSW, M.A. has worked in the mental health field for over twenty years. She holds a master's degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and is a former member of a Bible-based cult.
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Fortunately, first I "googled" Ole Anthony, and this book came up. The idea that Ole Anthony could be the head of something he himself has appeared on TV purporting to be against was just too intriguing. So I purchased this book.
Although I didn't enjoy Wendy's descriptions of Anthony's doctrine, because it so clearly is wrong, and although I can't identify with someone who would willingly place themselves in the situation the characters in the book did and do, still, the story is very well written, and the explanation of Anthony's doctrines are needed to "get" the story. The story was convincing enough that I believe it!
I'm glad this book was published, it's a variation of the all-too-oft story of abuse by people in authority, or pseudo-authority, and the very worst kind is a religious figure who abuses his flock in the name of Christ!
So, thanks to this book, I don't need any information that Ole Anthony might be able to provide me. That would be like asking Don Corleone (The Godfather) to help me because my neighbor's dog barks too loud. It just wouldn't be worth it!
Ole Anthony’s sect became a communal system serving people in need and recovering drug addicts. Some very dedicated Christians with a working knowledge of scripture as elders or “Levites” in cult jargon led the group. The author’s husband Doug was one of the Levites.
Anthony basked in national fame after exposing some televangelists like Robert Tilton (as if Tilton were not already obviously off-center to most observers of his fund raising antics and bizarre name-it-and-claim-it Bible sorcery). Wendy Duncan’s story reveals that even sophisticated, well-educated scripture scholars (she was trained in a formal Protestant scripture school) can find purpose in radical movements. Her vulnerability was caused by her Christian devotion, ironically, because strict Evangelical rules forbid divorce and divorced folks from ministering. Wendy was divorced early in her adult life. Trinity Foundation welcomed the dispossessed and fallen in their midst. We must keep in mind that Jim Jones of the People’s Temple also ministered to the poor and to drug addicts. Jones promoted racial equality. His church in the early days was energetic and looked and acted so much like real Christianity should look and act that Willie Brown, a prominent Democratic leader in California, praised Jones on national television as someone we all should emulate. Willie Brown made the mistake of not looking behind the curtain. He believed in the projected wizard on stage. Wendy and Doug remained in the cult as long as they did for the good things until the bad things (behind the curtain) became so overwhelming that they had to make a break, but, as the memoir describes, leaving was not so easy.
For me, the larger, more important story is that of recovery. Everything “unfreezes” in Kurt Lewin’s model when the core of our very being crashes around us. Confusion reigns. Who is God becomes a huge problem, as the title indicates. Which Jesus, if any, is the right one among the myriad choices? Hearing sound scriptures in other churches can trigger the ex-member with negative emotions because the cult leader used the same scriptures to make his points. The author tells us poignantly, “I heard Ole’s voice in my mind a thousand times a day.” She states, “All I was left with was an overwhelming state of confusion.”
The book indicates that recovery means becoming a mature adult that lives within probabilities, not certainties. A mature Christian knows that there was never anything like a primitive Christian community that had it all right. A mature Christian knows that the scripture is not inerrant, therefore there is no inerrant interpretation possible. A mature adult knows that life is a struggle and that we live with the best we can do. We should never let someone else’s certainty limit our best. The rest is up to God or whatever one believes God is. That was my takeaway from this book, if nothing else.
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