As our last chapter closed, we find our protagonist in the office of Dr. Walter Martin – author of the book “The Kingdom of the Cults” – long since considered to be the definitive study of destructive cults. Martin, a dyed-in-the wool Christian, has a weekly radio show in which he takes on one cult member after another, dismantling his opponents with the ease of a judo master.
Our protagonist had accepted Christ in 1977. But over the course of time, his relationship with God had dwindled until it was almost gone. Where there once was a blazing fire, now there was nothing but ashes. When Dr. Martin asked me if I believed in the Lordship of Christ, I answered with a terse, “No!”
Martin sat back in his leather chair and took a long puff on his pipe. He was silent for a long while. His eyes scanned the collection of artifacts I’d brought with me – everything from statues of witches and warlocks, to Shamanic yarn paintings to demonic goats heads.
“You need rid yourself of these things,” Martin intoned. “As quickly as possible.”
“But … but why?” I answered. “They’re only … things.”
“These things aren’t just symbols of evil,” the doctor said. “They are evil.”
What I hadn’t told the doctor was that I’d actually gone into escrow on the big, log cabin-styled house, high in the Hollywood Hills that had belonged to the professor. I’d fallen in love with the place, as well as all the things in it. I was going to try to make a deal with the sellers that they not only sell me the house but all of its contents as well.
At that point in time, I’d transferred from UCLA, where I’d been a film major, to the University of Southern California, where I’d taken up the study of anthropology. All of the objects in the professor’s house were of major importance to my study.
With an angry swipe of his hand, the doctor said, “You must remove these things from the house and burn them – then bury them as deep in the ground as possible!”
At that moment, I could feel all my dreams being shattered.
“But Sir,” I sputtered, “I was planning to buy this house – and all the things in it. I’ve been living in it for almost a year now. I already feel like it’s my home!”
He replied, “If you were so sure this was the place was right for you, then what are you doing here?”
The question stopped me in my tracks. “I … I don’t know really. There was just a feeling about these objects. It was as if they were beginning to take hold of me.
“To be completely truthful,” I admitted, “I sometimes felt that they could possibly be cursed,”
“They are indeed cursed,” the doctor said angrily. “They are spilling over with demonic forces. I tell you again: Get rid of them as quickly as you can!”
It was time to spill my guts. I told the doctor the whole story of my relationship with the professor, how I’d moved into her house after her death, how I’d fallen in love with the house, and then finally decided to purchase it.
Brows knitted, the doctor took another puff on his pipe.
“If you have any sense about you, you’ll tear up those escrow papers – immediately! There are plenty of houses out there,” he spat. “Go find yourself another one!”
With that, he spun around in his chair and turned his back to me.
“You’d do well to rethink your relationship with Jesus,” he said. “We have a wonderful Bible study out here two nights a week. And if this is too far for you to drive, my secretary can give you the names of several good churches in your area.”
I knew that our conversation was over. I gathered the artifacts that I’d brought with me, and headed for the door. A spasm of pain shot through my heart. I felt like I wanted to turn back to the doctor and ask him to forgive me.
But forgive me for what?
I headed back home on the 405 freeway. Thoughts seemed to come and go through my mind of their own free will. There was no center to anything. Inside my head, tiny sparks of light came and went, shooting off – willy nilly – into space.
Then, without warning, my car suddenly went into a tailspin. The car whirled around three or four times before it came to a screeching halt. Other drivers whizzed past me, some of their drivers cursing me out and shaking angry fists at me.
I figured the best thing to do was just to sit there until I got my wits about me. But my head wouldn’t stop swirling. Strange faces came and went before my eyes. A gallery of the masks that had hung on the walls of the professors’ house did an evil dance in front of my eyes.
Then I heard laughter. Hissing, mocking laughter.
“Well. What do you think of your Jesus now?” a cruel voice taunted. “You’re Christ is nothing but a sham – an imposter! You belong to us! You’re ours!”
Then – without warning – I began crying uncontrollably. I wasn’t scared or sad. None of these emotions were behind my tears. No, it was the fact that I realized that I was totally alone in the universe. I had no friends (or so it seemed), no family – nobody. Nobody who would come to my rescue as I was taunted by this gallery of ghoulish creatures.
Suddenly, Dr. Martin’s face appeared before me, as if in a dream: “So what is your relationship with Jesus Christ?,” he asked again.
The doctor’s piercing blue eyes seemed to burn holes into my soul.
Then suddenly it came.
“Dear Jesus, please help me!” I bawled. “I can’t take it anymore. Please God, please, I begged.
Suddenly, a blazing white light illuminated the interior of my car.
“Save me Jesus,” I moaned between sobs. “I’m sorry, God, I’m sorry! Please forgive me. Please …”
I rolled into a ball on the front seat of my car as the gallery of evil creatures clawed at me. I felt like something was sucking my brains out of my head.
Then suddenly, I was overcome with a rush of anger. “Get the hell out of me, you dirty, stinking sonofabitch!” I screamed.
Suddenly, everything was different. Something was gone. And that terrible black void that had been my constant companion for the last 40 years was now filled by a sweet, overwhelming sense of peace.
I put the keys back in the ignition and started the engine. Slowly, I pulled back out onto the freeway.
It was past 1 a.m. when I arrived back at the little guest cottage that I’d made my temporary home while the professor’s house went through escrow.
By now, I was totally exhausted. I literally fell into bed, soon passing into a peaceful, dreamless sleep – perhaps the first one I’d had in months.
Somewhere in the back of my mind, I could hear the echo of cruel laughter, but now it had no force behind it.
“Thank you, thank you, Lord,” I said as I let sleep overtake me.
“Thank you. ”