Wednesday, June 9, 2010

"A Twisted Faith" by Gregg Olsen

Religion is a controversial topic, especially when it involves multiple affairs disguised as counseling, and then goes on to include arson and murder as well. This is what happened in Bremerton, Washington in December of 1997 when all three of these things came together in a perfect storm. The resultant trial is filled with fascinating details of what happens when too many people think they have the "answer" through the calling of God.

The story mainly concerns Nick Hacheney and his wife Dawn, who move to the area in the 1990's and join a church. There, Nick becomes a Youth Minister and self proclaimed Prophet. Everyone wants to have his opinion. He is that close to God. So close, in fact, that he virtually usurps the authority of the church and makes it his own.

Branching out to counseling married couples comes at the suggestion of the congregants, and Nick readily accepts. Only he seems more interested in the wives than in saving marraiges.

The church doctrine is unusual as well, calling upon the congregation to spend freely using credit cards. After all, according to Nick, God wants them to have it all, in the here and now. Why wait for the next world when all of Gods treaures can be yours today?

With a doctrine like this you just know that disaster waits in the wings. And when it arrives on December 26, 1997 in the form of a deadly arson that takes the life of the minister's wife, things begin to surface that eventually encompass most of the town. Questions arise as to how a town could become so easily subverted by so few.

An intriquing read that brings more questions than answers, this book exemplifies the culture in which we live. It is a culture of want and greed that allows us all to fall victim to the self proclaimed "truths" that others are willing to sell us, and we are all too ready to buy into.

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