Chapter 29: Giants in the Land

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Chapter 29: Giants in the Land

I altogether immersed myself in my new studies, my mind expanding in different directions at the same time. Knowledge is a transforming experience, especially to one who knows nothing as once he thought. Particularly fascinating, the etymology of words and constructive language of speech, which further accentuated my discovery of the Holy Bible. Everything fit marvelously together. I felt like a singularity ignited in time and space, something new with exciting potential. I desired nothing of the world, yet hungered for the meaning of worldly knowledge. This hunger would remain insatiable for many years to come—maybe the rest of my life.

The months I lived on Scarff Avenue were as mythical as any fairytale. The old church at the end of the park as a castle of light in my mind with doors swung open to all. I was not Catholic, nor did I consider myself religious. Nevertheless, I knew the spirit of God existed, not in a structure, but through faith--and who was I to judge any symbol of that faith on earth. At night I often wandered along the avenues on foot, exploring the strange sarcophagi of granite stone buildings made by human hands, many abandoned of their original purpose, some remaining as haunting epitaphs of generations gone by. One such building was the old Christian Science Library on Grand, which bled black between the masonry and gave me a particular chill when once I pressed my face against one of the soot-covered windows to get a glimpse inside. I later learned that the founder of this deceptively labeled religion, a respected woman named Mary Baker Eddy, died horrible claiming nightly assaults by demons. All I can confirm is that I felt a malevolent presence glaring back at me, and never ventured there again.

One night quiet by accident, I stumbled upon a Kathryn Kuhlman revival meeting held at the Shrine Auditorium on nearby Jefferson Boulevard. I knew nothing about this lady, or her ministry. As I passed the elaborate Spanish-styled building, I felt the Holy Spirit as strongly as my first encounter. I went inside without hesitation, and ushered to a seat in one of the upper bleachers on the third balcony. The evangelist resembled a small white ash off in the distance: an energetic being exuding dynamic force. Something extraordinary was happening here tonight.

The Shrine Auditorium is as an ornate palace survived from an age of antiquity, richly trimmed in gold and fiery ruby, acoustically designed to sponsor any event. With over six thousand seats, it has been the host platform of the Academy Awards, the Emmys, the Grammys, and much more. There is not a national award not sponsored here at least once, as well as being the home of the USC Trojan Basketball team. It embodied a feeling of nostalgia permeated with an odor of oldness, perhaps a little less magnificent before its eventual renovation. Historical records say the original structure built in 1906 burned to the ground fourteen years later, and rebuilt in 1926. According to estimate, over 118 miles of nails were used if laid end to end, cantilevered balconies without supporting pillars, as well as an enormous chandelier in the main center with over 500 colored bulbs and weighing in excess of four tons. The Shrine is a remarkable edifice of worldly achievement, a temple to ingenious ingenuity by man's imagination and the work of human hands. This particular night, however, it had a vitalized soul revived by the Spirit of spirits. Yes, the Shrine Auditorium lived transformed into a holy church no longer worldly, no longer fixed in time and space. As this woman of God called upon the Holy Spirit for healing, I witnessed a wave of pure energy pass over and through the congregation of souls. As it touched me, I felt suddenly light as air, swept up into another heaven, and began to weep with joy. That night I witnessed droves of people who left their seats and crowed around the stage claiming healing from various physical and spiritual maladies. I cannot say for certain what happened that night only that I did not believe it to be a hoax, nor do I believe it to this day. Something unexplainable occurred that night, something not discerned through reason, or by the conditions inherent in flesh and blood. It embodied the present day vitalization experienced by the Lord's Apostles on the day of Pentecost, as described in the Book of Acts when tongues of the Holy Spirit filled men with new wine reviving a multitude of souls.

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