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I Meet the Nazarene Teen Idol

When I was growing up in the Nazarene Church, twice a year, in the fall and the spring, we had a "revival": a full week of screeching, foot-stomping, Bible-thumping sermons by an evangelist who made his living going from revival to revival, getting people saved and sanctified.

You were encouraged to bring your friends who went to other churches, and thus might not be amenable to visiting on a Sunday morning.  But on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday night, they were free, right?

We did get a few converts during every revival, but not nearly enough for the evangelist, who stomped and shouted with more and more urgency as the week wore on and nearly everyone who needed to get saved was already saved and only a few people came down at the altar call.

The only bright spot of the whole ordeal was the gospel group that accompanied the evangelist. During the fall revival in 1976, my junior year in high school, the evangelist was the young, muscular but bellowing Brother Jonathan, and the musical group was the Smith Family (not to be confused with the punk rock group the Smiths, which I have several times).

They sang fast, upbeat songs which I assumed they wrote -- there were records for sale in the lobby.  Church oldsters used to old Salvation Army-style ballads like "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms" were scandalized by their country-inflected lyrics, not to mention their guitars, drums, and tambourines.  One of their songs goes through my head intermittently to this day:

I've got confidence, God is going to see me through
Whatever the case may be, I know He's gonna fix it for me.

(I just discovered that "I've Got Confidence" was not a Smith Family original: it was composed by Andre Crouch and popularized by Elvis Presley.)

I haven't been able to find any photos -- too much interference from other Smiths on the internet -- but they looked something like this: middle-aged husband and young-adult daughter as the lead singers (baritone and soprano), teenage son on the guitar, preteen son on the drums, and wife on the tambourine.

 Scott, the teenage son, was a year younger than me, tall and buffed with big hands, a round face, short blond hair, and dreamy blue eyes.  The Nazarene equivalent of a teen idol, our own Shaun Cassidy!  I was desperate to become his friend, or at least feel a warm strong handshake, but I didn't have a chance.  He was mobbed.

Girls were swooning, batting their eyes at him, writing him love notes under the guise of prayer requests.  Old people (anyone over 30) were pushing to tell him what a "fine Christian boy" he was and getting them to autograph any piece of paper they could find, even the "notes" page of their study Bibles.  Boys were rushing to kneel at the altar in the hopes that Scott would come down from the podium and put his arm around them as they moaned and cried and "prayed through to victory."

Unfortunately, I couldn't join them at the altar, because I had made a major tactical error.  You could go down only to get saved (forgiven of the sins you had committed), sanctified (made holy, so you would be incapable of future sins), or to help someone else pray through.   And, not knowing that Scott would be there, I got sanctified just a few weeks ago!

Going down again so soon would be admitting that I had never been sanctified at all -- that I had been deceived by Satan into rising from the altar without praying through. Or that I was lying to get the praise and prestige.  A major faux pas. a major humiliation!

Every night I sat in my pew during Brother Jonathan's altar call, counting the boys who went up, calculating whether the chance of Scott choosing me to pray with was worth a public humiliation. Every night I decided against it, even on Friday and Saturday, when only one or two boys went down.

On Sunday morning, instead of rehearsing, the Smith Family "set a good example" by going to Sunday school.  Scott came to my high school class, but I couldn't even maneuver to sit next to him.  When the starstruck teacher, Sister Ruth, asked him to give his testimony, the class turned it into a Tiger Beat fave rave interview, complete with a q and a:

The complete story, with nude photos, is on Tales of West Hollywood.

source http://everydayheterosexism.blogspot.com/2019/02/i-meet-nazarene-teen-idol.html

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