The televangelist was fighting evil and had the charisma of a rock star. Divine Fury. Chapter 49
April 4, 2013
A VG Serial: Divine Fury
BY NOW, ENZO Lee had seen Rev. Jimmy Burgess’ show several times on television and had even perused transcripts of several speeches on the Soldiers of Christ Ministry’s website. He knew the basic message well by now – every Christian must join the war against the evil in its various forms that was corrupting society.
What Lee hadn’t predicted was how mesmerizing Burgess was in person. He had channeled his rural barn-burning style into a performance that started soft and gentle but built gradually to a red-hot intensity. At the end, he could see the audience leaning forward transfixed, ready to leap out of their seats. He half expected the packed auditorium to jump up en mass and storm the stage.
“And you! And you! And you!” said Burgess in his trademark ending, roaming the stage and throwing his finger out toward different segments of the audience. “We all must fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!”
“When Judgment Day comes,” he said, lowering his voice to a theatrical whisper. “Can you really tell God, ‘I’ve done enough?’”
Then, Burgess whirled and was gone, his long legs carrying him swiftly to the back of the stage and out of sight. The crowd was dead quiet for a moment. Then, suddenly erupted in cheering and applause.
“Preacher as rock star,” thought Lee. An amazing performance.
Lee had been prepared to fire questions at Burgess any way that he could even if it meant confronting him on his way to a waiting limo or taking over a normally sedate press conference. So, it had been a pleasant surprise when he called Burgess’ office a day earlier and was told he could come back stage after the performance and the televangelist would give him 20 minutes in private.
When he finally was ushered into his dressing room, Burgess had changed into designer jeans, a striped dress shirt and hand-tooled cowboy boots. He was drinking a small bottle of mineral water. He motioned at a table off to the side with several more bottles and Lee took one before he sat down in a chair in the middle of the dressing room.
Burgess leaned back in an older wooden low-back chair with a spring that squeaked if he moved too much. Behind him were three mirrors set up in a makeup array so Lee could see the preacher in different angles from behind. His hands were intertwined behind his head. About six feet separated the reporter and the preacher. Lee set his water on the floor next to his chair and pulled out his notebook.
“You can take the boy out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the boy,” began Burgess in a slight twang, nodding at his boots. “Call me Jimmy. What can I do you for?”
“I’m Enzo Lee, San Francisco News,” said Lee. “Well, first of all, I just want to say that I was very impressed by your performance tonight. It was really amazing. Your connection to the audience was something else. I don’t really know what it was…just that sense of suspense…anticipation. Something electric in the air.”
“Well, I like to think that God had something to do with it,” said Burgess with a smile. “Of course he’s everywhere. But I like to think maybe he gives it a little extra for an event like this.
“On the other hand, it could also be the spirits of Janis Joplin, Aerosmith and the Foo Fighters,” Burgess added with a grin, “They all played here before me.”
“Pretty nice warm-up acts,” said Lee. “Yeah. I saw the Eurythmics play here once. It was a phase.”
“Really?” said Burgess. “Wow. I like Sweet Dreams.”
Lee paused. He looked down at his notebook and turned to a blank page, signaling that it was time to shift gears. He had to admit that he was a little disarmed by this conservative televangelist who had a sense of humor, liked rock and roll and actually seemed to know who the Foo Fighters were.
Chapters of the serial are published Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.
You can learn more about Divine Fury on Amazon.