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Book Review February 20, 2002
 
Breathe On Us, Oh God!
By John Dolan Browse author Email
 
Page 2 of 4
 
Dutch is fond of epithets sales guys love: "Are you a history maker?" he asks. Along with "history maker," you might want to be "cause-minded," a "boat rocker," a "crossing-over guy," or "a life-changer, a rearranger, a cause producer." He wants us all to be "circumcised" -- but as he explains to his wincing gentile audience, "Our circumcision in the new covenant is, of course, of the heart." A circumcised heart -- not sure I'd like that, actually. One snip and the room gets an arterial spraying.

In Dutch's theology, God is a sort of travelling salesman, impregnating farmers' daughters (of either gender) as the mood takes him. Using the laughably bad attempts at Classical etymology which are another feature of his rhetoric, he underlines the fact that he really does mean "penetration" when he talks of God's way with us sinners:

"Because 'abar' is a transition word, it also means 'to penetrate,' as in penetrating territory, or even the human heart. [Note the repeated switch from genital to cardiac zone, as in 'circumcision' above.] And not trying to be overly dramatic or graphic, it is indeed a word used to designate the physical relations between a husband and wife that results in pregnancy [Sometimes, Dutch, they don't even have to be "husband and wife"!]. Yes, 'abar' does mean to impregnate."

Now we know what Dutch means when he says, "Several months ago, God began to grip me...." These divine rapes are confessed with pride, of course; to be so "penetrated" is a point of honor with the devout. Like a great deal of American Evangelical discourse, it begs a medical, rather than theological interpretation. There's a name for people who talk to god and feel Him gripping them: "schizophrenics."

And the match between Evangelical theology and schizophrenic symptoms is perfect. When a word comes into Dutch's head, it's from God. Take "Shechem," the name of some town mentioned in the Old Testament -- the ramblings, in other words, of an unmedicated Levantine schizophrenic two millennia dead. This is how Dutch explains the way "Shechem" came into his head: "... During that... October evening, the Lord deeply impressed into my heart the thought, 'I am calling this nation to Shechem.'"

"But Dutch," you ask in that annoying way of yours, "how can we know it was a truly Divine inspiration?" Dutch has an answer ready for such doubters: "Since everything else I felt during that encounter with the Lord has proved to be very accurate, I have great confidence that this thought is accurate as well." And if that doesn't convince you, I don't know what will.

That kind of proud mental illness... it's a great Evangelical tradition, but Christ, didn't they sorta agree to lay off it for a while? -- in exchange for painless dentistry and polio vaccination? I thought so, but then the only Church I ever knew was the poor moribund Church of Rome. This new Church in America was never as diffident as the Romans; Dutch's Church IS America, and always has been.

So Dutch is not at all shy of passing on his neurotransmitter-depleted epiphanies. Every time he has a dream; every time a place-name or set of numbers comes into his head; every time there's a coincidence in his daily schedule; he takes it as a sign of God's direct intervention in his mental processes. Sometimes Dutch's sense of God's tinkering with his mind (using the term loosely) is so much like textbook schizophrenic reasoning that you're amazed the guy's still walking around. He spends three pages detailing the series of coincidences involving the number sequence "222." It's mesmerizing, in a morbid way, like watching a truly scary schizophrenic through one-way glass: "It began on a cross-country flight. I noticed that my departure time was 2:22, I was seated in row number 22 and the total travel time was 2 hours and 22 minutes."

Well, if that doesn't smack of direct divine intervention in the flight schedule of one Dutch Sheets, D.D., I don't know what does. The only thing that worries me is that 222 is exactly one-third of 666. So if Dutch buys three tickets, does the plane go down?


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