Reality Check

When I was about 12 or 1’3-years-old, on the other hand, I was inveigled into a more exhilarating religious experience—the provocative world of Aimee Semple McPherson and her Church of the Foursquare Gospel.

A casual Buckman classmate named Paxil Bender and his merry-looking mother invited me to a “family barbecue”‘ one Sunday afternoon, that turned out to be a jolly evangelical get-together. It ended with everybody heading off to a Sunday night assembly at the two-tiered Foursquare Gospel Church, where the faithful were beckoned by the glow of a revolving neon sign on top of the towering roof.

Inside that Foursquare auditorium, I can remember the entire congregation singing and clapping their hands in a swiftly mounting crescendo. And I can remember the sensational entrance of a gangly, suntanned preacher, who was the visiting evangelist from Sister Aimee’s Angeles Temple in Los Angeles. He leaped onto the stage, shaking the air with his fire and conviction, as he whooped, hollered, sweat, cried, snarled, preached and prayed—invariably rewarded on all sides with shouts of approval and fervent amens.


I attended several such charismatic Sunday night sessions with the Benders before walking out on the entire show. It was an electrifying atmosphere. But I was uncomfortable with their level of intense religious frenzy. And I was skeptical of the quick “miracle” cures, nonsensical wailing, gibberish “speaking in tongues” and the assiduous call for more money in the collection plate.

Eventually, the Benders gave up on me.


My own spiritual perspective remains a very private and personal force.


Most classic car buffs agree that for sheer elegance and craftsmanship, the Pierce-Arrow of the 1920s and 30s was in a class by itself. The remarkable quietness of its powerful engine only added to the Pierce-Arrow legend.

(During prohibition, Pierce-Arrow engines were the favorites of the offshore rumrunners who converted them for use in their speedboats—-not so much for their tremendous power, but for their uncanny quietness.)

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