narcissists, religion, royals, social media, songs, videos, viral

“Let’s all get loaded and go to a tent revival!”

Last night, I happened to see a hilarious TikTok video on Facebook. Someone shared it in the Duggar Family News groupwhite people having a good old fashioned “praise break”. The TikTok user muted the original music and replaced it with “Linus and Lucy”, by Vince Guaraldi. It’s perfect, if you’ve ever seen A Charlie Brown Christmas. Incidentally, my beagle, Arran, reminds me more of Snoopy every day. Especially at dinner time.

We should all move when the spirit strikes us. Maybe if I did that, my beer filled spare tire would deflate a bit.

Someone in the group wrote:

When I was in college we often would get loaded and go to listen to the music at tent revivals. It was an enlightening experience. We did lose one friend, who while under the influence of LSD went up to be saved. He came back a fews days later…

Bwahahahhaha! I had a good laugh at that. It actually sounds like a great way to spend time with friends. I wish I had thought of that when I was young enough to appreciate the entertainment value of a good tent revival. Now that I’m as old as I am, I know that there’s more to religion than praising a higher power. It’s also a hotbed of corrupt people who want to control others.

Still, what a hoot it must be to watch a bunch of rhythm challenged folks catching the spirit and dancing like… well, very inhibited white guys. I’m not the greatest dancer myself, but I do think that’s something we should all learn how to do. Or, at least learn not to be ashamed when the mood strikes us to bust a move. I know… I’m sitting here laughing at white people dancing in church on TikTok. Maybe that’s hypocritical of me. The video would be much less embarrassing if these folks had not been taught to be so inhibited in the first place.

Sore-y guys. The party’s over.

Dammit, why didn’t I find this last month? Guaranteed to make you smile! That is, if you like banjo… and I do. Someday, maybe I’ll learn to play.

These guys are smokin’ hot!

I’m not sure what got me on this topic today. Currently, I am reading two new books. I don’t usually read two at a time, but one of the books is a good, old-fashioned, honest-to-God book. Bill usually falls asleep before I do, and I can’t read regular books in the dark. A couple of nights ago, after I finished reading Spare, I started reading a new Kindle book. The new Kindle book has literally been waiting years to be read. It’s actually a pretty compelling book, too, and not at all like the physical book I’m reading.

The physical book is a true crime story about two terrible murders that happened in Middlesex County, Virginia, back in 1990. The book is very good so far, although I’m having some trouble reading it, because the print is very small. It’s not available on Kindle, which is surprising. People are still interested in reading about this case. I am personally interested, because I grew up in neighboring Gloucester County. I remember when the murders happened. Hopefully, I will finish the book quickly, both because I’m eager to write about this crime, and because reading tiny print is hard on my eyes.

I will also probably write more dedicated posts about Prince Harry’s book, Spare. Maybe I’ll even do that today. I just decided that my first post of today should be different. A whole lot of people are writing reviews and making YouTube videos about Spare. I watched a couple of them yesterday. Reactions to Spare seem mixed. I would say more people like the book than don’t, with many people sympathizing with Harry and Meghan. However, a significant number of readers seem offended by Spare.

Sky News in Australia seem to think that Meghan Markle can “smell” weakness on King Charles III and is “out for blood”. Personally, I wouldn’t give her that much credit. If the British monarchy crumbles, it certainly won’t be because of Meghan Markle. However, the controversies raised by Harry’s book, coupled with the “woke brigade” and people who think the Royal family costs too much, could spell the end of the monarchy. I don’t know.

Personally, I wouldn’t call myself a royalist. I am simply a child of the 80s, and I grew up watching the British Royal Family because they were always in the news. Also, my earliest memories are of living in England. I will admit, though, that Queen Elizabeth II was an exemplary monarch, and it will be extremely difficult to follow her. She had an incredible devotion to service, and she was mostly very appealing to the public. I don’t think King Charles III can come close to his mother’s popularity. However, I do think William might, which is why I think he will eventually be King. Beyond that, who knows? I’ll probably be long dead by the time George could be King.

Harry’s book doesn’t do William any favors at all. Harry makes William sound like an asshole. He describes his interactions with William and Catherine, at least post marriage to Meghan, as tense and angry. He makes William sound unfriendly and intolerant, and Catherine sounds cold and snobby. I, for one, am taking Harry’s comments with a huge grain of salt, though. Because I think his wife is a liar, and is pushing an agenda. Also, I never heard of any of this type of behavior until Meghan came on the scene. Catherine, in particular, has never put a step wrong in public.

Sky News Australia is notoriously anti-Meghan and Harry. I take what they say with a huge grain of salt, because their coverage regarding Harry and Meghan has been very obviously biased and negative. However, if Meghan is really a narcissist, then we can expect a relentless smear campaign. That’s what narcissists do.

I hope Harry prepares, too. If he and Meghan ever have a falling out, she will use his book to cast him in a bad light. He was very frank in the book, with multiple revelations about mental health issues, drug abuse, and questionable behavior (wearing a Nazi uniform, anyone?). If they split up, and there is a custody dispute, it stands to reason that Meghan will point to that book as evidence that he’s not a fit parent. I hope it doesn’t come to that… but I still hear those pesky “N” chimes.

Well, I suppose it’s time to do some housekeeping chores and get back to reading my new books. In the spirit of getting loaded and going to tent revivals, may you all have a blessed Thursday. I encourage you to dance, but try not to emulate the kids on A Charlie Brown Christmas.


book reviews

A review of Holy Ghost Girl: A Memoir, by Donna Johnson…

I just finished reading Donna Johnson’s fascinating book, Holy Ghost Girl: A Memoir. It was published in 2011, but somehow, I just got around to finding out about it. It surprises me I wasn’t turned onto this book years ago, since I love a good religious memoir. Actually, I see that I bought this book exactly one year ago. I have a big backlog of things to read, though, so it’s taken me a year to finally buckle down and read this excellent book.

Author Donna Johnson grew up with her mother and brother, following Brother David Terrell around the country in his big tent revivals. Somehow, I had not heard of Brother David Terrell until I read Johnson’s book, but he was once a big time evangelist, on par with guys like Oral Roberts. Johnson came of age in the 60s and 70s, the daughter of a musically gifted mom who had gone a little bit wild as a young woman and married too early. Johnson’s father took off, and her mom, whose strict, Southern, religious family had warned her against her “wild ways”, went back to being religious. She fell in with Brother David Terrell’s crowd, ditching her pants and rock music, and trailing him and his sawdust “tent revivals”, where she worked as his organist.

Donna and her brother, Gary, came of age with Brother Terrell’s children, sleeping at the revivals, never really having a real home, and sometimes being pawned off on other people. Despite this chaotic upbringing, during which Donna’s mom, Carolyn, had an affair with Brother Terrell and bore him three more daughters (a singleton and twins), Johnson manages to relate her story with style, grace, and a minimum of anger. And she would have plenty to be angry about, too.

At one point in Donna’s childhood, she and her brother were sent to live with Sister Coleman, a weird woman whose son had many disabilities. Sister Coleman claimed she’d wanted to give Donna and Gary a “good home”, but she would give them food that made them vomit. Then, she would force them to eat the vomit. Sister Coleman would also threaten the children and physically abuse them if they stepped out of line. She told the children that they would be living with her permanently, since her mother no longer wanted them. It wasn’t until Donna managed to tell another tent revival attendee about this treatment that she and her brother were finally able to escape it. At that point, she learned that her mother had intended to come back for them. She had signed a medical power of attorney so that they could see a doctor if they needed one. Donna’s mom was temporarily playing music in New Orleans, with Brother Terrell’s group. The abusive Sister Coleman had cruelly led the children to believe they had been abandoned as she fed them salty mackerel and thick oatmeal that made them heave. When Sister Coleman’s abuse was exposed, she reared back to slap Donna.

Johnson writes that over the course of three years, she and her brother lived in seven different households while their mother traipsed along with Terrell to play music. At one point, Donna and her brother lived with Sister Waters, who, for some reason, disliked Donna so much that she’d lock her out of the house from breakfast to dinner time. Donna’s mother was evidently never the wiser of this neglect, and somehow, no one from the local child welfare office ever held her accountable.

Donna Johnson writes vividly about her mother’s obsession with Brother Terrell, who despite being married with children, had other women on the side. Terrell even fathered more children with another woman, a female preacher. Brother Terrell kept secret ranches and forced his mistresses and children to be blindfolded whenever they visited. He rotated his women in and out of the ranches, never telling them about each other, leading them to believe that they were the only ones in his life. Meanwhile, Terrell was trying and failing to keep a few steps ahead of the IRS. He was eventually caught and spent time in prison.

As I read Holy Ghost Girl, I was continually impressed by Johnson’s ability to turn a phrase. She really has a knack for descriptive prose that is a pleasure to read. Her voice is intelligent and articulate and I found myself forming images of the tent revivals and the people within them. Brother Terrell is an interesting, charismatic character in and of himself. Johnson writes of how he would fast a lot, losing scads of weight in a mission to show how devoted he was to the Lord. One time, he was going to spank Donna’s brother with a belt, but he’d lost so much weight that when he took off the belt to administer the whipping, his pants fell down. At the end of the book, Johnson writes of how he demanded that ministers at his revivals whip him in front of the congregants… an “innocent” man taking punishment for America, as he claimed it was going to Hell. I can agree that America is going to Hell, but I don’t think that will change because a man emaciated by repeated fasts and demanding to be physically punished has been whipped by ministers. To me, it just sounds like a massive mind fuck. But then, that’s how people like Brother Terrell keep their flocks.

Due to her chaotic upbringing, Donna Johnson weathered some rough times in her youth. She dated guys who were much older than she was, and eventually married a law student when she was still just a teenager. She hadn’t wanted to marry him, but it was either marry the guy and have some normalcy, or move with her mother to the middle of nowhere at Terrell’s behest. Johnson was not quite an adult, but just on the verge of adulthood. Rather than take a more compassionate, normal course of action, Johnson was forced into a loveless marriage and early divorce. Amazingly enough, Carolyn had even encouraged the marriage, even though Donna had wanted to break up with the law student and have a relationship with someone her age. This tendency of Donna’s mother to force her children to mature before their time is a recurrent theme, as she obsessively follows the married Brother Terrell and repeatedly leaves her children in the care of people she doesn’t really know. Donna and Gary suffered for that, since many of their caretakers were abusive and neglectful.

I would compare Holy Ghost Girl favorably to books like The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls, and Educated, by Tara Westover. I see on Amazon endorsements from people like Julia Scheeres, who wrote Jesus Land, and Rhoda Janzen, who wrote Mennonite in a Little Black Dress. In fact, I’ve read and reviewed each of the aforementioned books, although most of the reviews have been forever lost in the wilds of the Internet since went bust.

I looked up Brother David Terrell. I see he still has a presence. In fact, there are videos on YouTube of his tent revivals. For her part, Johnson seems to believe he has some ability to heal, even if she also outs him as a criminal and a liar. She writes that he healed her from a mysterious illness that doctors couldn’t seem to cure. Then, when she fell away from his influence, she got sick again. She writes that her illness has gotten better, and doctors have found drugs that control the symptoms when they flare.

This is a pretty good read. I would definitely recommend it to those who find cults fascinating, particularly regarding evangelism. It’s gratifying to see that Donna Johnson turned her experiences into something positive, rather than going down the road to ruin. It would have been very easy for her life to go completely south. I hope this review will encourage others to read Donna Johnson’s incredible story.

As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon on sales made through my site.