THE STORIES OF DAVID N. DONIHUE

COPYRIGHT DONIHUE ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

 

 

THE STORY OF MARTY BRIGMAN (from upcoming Born Agains)

Casey I talked for three hours that night in multiple ways, shapes and paths. We were interrupted by the sound of her father’s voice on a computer in the kitchen, our moment stolen from us by her reaction to the scenario on the machine. She was speaking of her love for classical music and her despise of the horrific commercialism of Pacvels’s Canon and how Mozart had the best hair of the lot. Her genuine nature was instinctual while her ridiculousness was chosen. And one could tell the choices were necessary by how alert she was to every drop of subtext running through the room.

 

Her father, as I would later come to understand, was Marty Brigman. Marty Bartholomew Brigman. Respected pastor, best selling author, missionary and humanitarian. Noted bigot, end of times champion and slightly over dramatic speaker. I use the word slightly with slight irony in the unslightest of ways.

Marty Brigman was a fucking madman. And is some ways, a good one.  A well intended one. There is a certain level of personal scrutiny a pastor undergoes that can drive him insane. I believed that process had been underway since sometime before Watergate and the invention Microwave ovens.

He was seven years old when a family friend took him to see Billy Graham in Madison Square Garden. It was 1957 when the child sat there, watching tens of thousand walking forward, their pain and sorrow being healed in drones by the words of man so profoundly genuine, that the audience could find hope in the invisible entity that the young man observed to be, thickly present in the room.

The air was full, young Marty said on his way home. The seven year began practicing sermons in the mirror. He began reading all of Grahams books. By the time he’d graduated Trinity, Marty Brigman was one of hundreds of young men working below the ranks of Billy. And he was there the day Billy bailed out Martin Luther King Jr, who had been arrested in the demonstration.

He stood strong amongst hundreds of other young Christians against segregated worship services. Marty Brigman, inspired by Billy and growing group of others, in 1967 forced his all white young church to walk out the front steps and follow him for 2 miles into an all black neighborhood, where he would instruct them to convince the churches there to switch buildings for one week. By the end of his bizzar campaign, ten churched became mixed. He was lying to different parties about service schedules forcing both crowds to show up at the same time. Brigman, while somewhat deceptive from the get go, was pretty fucking awesome.

When all his friends tried to fight rock in roll, he dumped money into Christian labels. He was there a fan of the musical approach as he put. The man still has five of Sandy Patty’s albums memorized from start to finish. It’s really sort of fucked up.

He was one of the few of his friends that didn’t get his ass kicked by the feds for misuse of church funds, as he was one of the original innovators of the current pastoral business model. Work at the church for free and push the congregation and televised members to buy his books.

The congregation and outside ministries and missionary outfits that used them as small group literature were large enough to get him on the NY Times Best Seller list, which propelled him to further sales and allotted him enough cash flow to invest in outside interests. His interests, didn’t fall far from biblical principals. He wanted to feed the poor. He wanted to make groceries less expensive.

He bought major shares of stock in small then little known farming and grocery companies. Inspired by Jesus’s act of turning five loafs into food for five thousand, Marty hired scientists to look into what could be done to enhance the amount of bang for the buck in bread products. To make loafs larger, cheaper and with more protein to make one feel better.

He funded the continued development in Farinographs, which are used to measure the properties of baked goods. His team believed through enhanced processes in moisturizing the wheat, they could increase output from the increasingly expensive supplies provided by farms. He wanted food cheaper. More affordable. And he believed these young hippie scientists could help him do it.

The first venture was so successful that by the mid seventies he was investing in and making major recommendations for, dozens of growing food manufactures. And it need not be said, it maid him a multimillionaire, which only seemed to propel the notion he that was a genius of great leadership abilities to his congregation.

 

By the mid eighties, he was so powerful within the Food and Grocery sector, he could command millions in donations of albeit, nearly expired, canned foods and bread products to missions all over the world. He had one requirement. That jesus name be said when handing the food over, where it was handed.

 

God gave Marty the mind to put smart people in rooms together, to come up with solutions. Either Marty was smart enough to avoid accusations of Soliciting Idolatry or he did truly believe it was all God’s doing, he consistently championed every smart business more and often conniving practice to achieve a well intended end goal, as the work of his loving and compassionate God.

 

He took no credit. He avoided outward pride. But he was clear with those in the higher ranks. This was his operation. He built it. He ran it. Weather on the for profit side or the non-profit beneficiaries, do not fuck with me. That was what his eyes said. And because they said it, he fed hundreds of thousands while his words reached millions.

 

His radio programs were played in every Midwestern childs bedroom in the eighties.

And even with his controversies and stubborn ways, Casey was still, Daddy’s little girl. She would always, look up to man whose voice she heard on the radio to coax her asleep.

 

Whose arms would pull her from bed into the safety of his chest and carry her to the breakfast table first thing in the morning. He was so present. He was so there. He was so warm. He told her she could be anything. He told her about Paris and different types of horses and all about Jesus. All about the gentlest, most stubborn man to have ever lived.

 

She, saw Jesus in her father. And Marty, never felt closer to Jesus than when he looked at her. To some degree, the events that would later transpire, show nothing more than how much God’s biggest advocate featured his own creator. When he saw Him, in his daughters eyes.

Marty, having been rooted in the southern Baptist movement had gone independent just before the seventies rang in, choosing a non-denominational route in order to avoid the constraints of being involved with the larger preexisting denominations. At the time it was risky to start a new church, but a recent split in a Baptist congregation left a gaping whole for him to move into offer “new hope” to a group of disillusioned yet ridiculously qualified church leaders.

 

Without the financial backing, safety net or even clearly defined doctrine to automate the answering of tough spiritual questions which would come in drones considering a start up churches congregation is largely made up of recent converts, Marty was walking into what could either be an instantly self-sufficient and quickly growing church or a nightmare of debt and misfortune.

With his marriage less than 3 years old and his wife’s faith being not much newer than the ring, Marty new he was going to have to prove to both her and himself that God was good enough to bare the transition with out the backing and while suffering a mild smear campaign from the institutions he was pulling tithers away from.

He would have to have the most dynamic sermons anyone has ever muttered, if he was going stay afloat financially and keep his new wife from jumping ship for a less financially stressful life, leaving what little of a following he was able to carry from his previous ministry in shambles over what would be an obvious sign of an unstable leader. This has to work, or I’m screwed. Is all he could think.

A friend could see the trouble within the renegade “church planter” and invited him to relax at a church retreat in the mountains of Northern California. It was there, that this former Baptist whose regional leanings came off more like bland Methodists than the out bursting choir driven Southerners that surrounded him, was immediately plunged into a dynamic frenzy of heavy worship and people speaking in tongues.

The camp was cross denominational and had a major influx of Pentecostals, who brought a heavier focus on prayer than the socialization focuses of the retreats he’d attended prior. It was hear, amidst rapid fire indiscernible words that sounded closer to native Americans ranting their tribal languages than the recitals of scripture that he had previously sought comfort in. And it was there, that Marty reportedly felt the Holy Spirit enter him, and tell him it was time to pen a book.

That a book, released free of charge to his community, would bring thousands of new followers to Christ as well as to the tithing buckets, thereby saving the financial disaster he was about to be responsible for.

Marty, spent the next three days of the seven day trip writing, isolated from the howling and babbling that echoed through the trees below. Sequestered in the cabin, he penned his 72 page classic in 84 hours with little to no sleep, being seen away from his typewriter for less than 4 hours the entire duration.

Convincing his newly founded board to use church funds for the printing required a long sermon on the God’s desire to spread the word and need to become fishers of men. It convinced most of the room. Those who weren’t, he quickly bullied out of influence. Within six weeks the book was at the printers and delivered all across 12 different counties at every library, school and book store in sight.

The local paper ran a story about their new celebrity writer and pews were filled with those attracted to the concept of a pastor who is famous, even if they didn’t see past how regional that fame was.

The article gave an immediate legitimacy to both him and the church within a year they had moved from back auditorium of a local senior center to a venue more appropriate for his youthful audience that also happened to not wreak of oxygen and chlorine. Upon taking a solid, long deep breath at his new facility, Marty simply uttered, God is good.

The fame and growing congregation convinced his wife Sally that the answers to their somewhat disconnected marriage lied in the Pentecostal prayer camps, where she went to pray for what seemed to be a very unpassionate love life she had entered into. She noticed he was quicker to talk about his wife than to her, a problem she kept deeply sequester in heart to avoid it causing political problems within the board or other factions of leadership.

She was aware, the more good her husband did for this world, the more detractors he would have and that anything that’s showed weakness within him or his character, would be used against him in the most invisible yet fast moving of ways.

Consistently paranoid about both of their reputations, she knew God was the only person she could talk to. And when she went to the camp organized by the same crowd who had lead her husband to the plan that had changed their lives, he life was also changed. She was told to soften her husbands heart to her by bearing his children. As many and as quickly as humanly possible.

And this how I ended up pursuing a female that was born unto a muli-miliionaire televangelist that owned one of the largest manufactures of genetically modified organisms on the planet. Yes, it all did start quite well intended.

Truth be told, Marty Brigman loved his wife. But his constant insecurity that he would never stand up to varied calls of duty that he believed God had communicated to him left his focus falling on the advocation of faith rather than living within the Christian principals of love.

He became a man more concerned with proving his point than connecting with his fellow Christians, and the tight deadlines of his new literary and pastoral careers made it increasingly impossible for him to connect with the board and staff that he had personally worked to plant for self preservation. They misinterpreted him being over worked and focused on larger goals as him being personally disinterested in them as individuals.

The unintentional cold shoulders made those who took on such responsibilities feel powerless, when the seeking of such positions is usually done to feel some form of control over ones spiritual life in context of a larger and often uncontrollable group dynamic.

The social position of leadership hierarchy is no less of a popularity contest than what table you are allowed to join in the high school cafeteria, and the most respected and closest allies of the pastor were the mostly likely to have the ability gain positioning by criticizing leadership than those at a distance.

Marty’s constant awareness of this made him draw away from keeping too close of a relationship with any of his immediate staff or board, to insure no one seemed more influential than the other.

But the result was a blanket cold shoulder across leadership and within less than a year his board had grown far closer to each other than to him, and he feared day and night their potential plot for his ousting and plans to promote within, simply, to rise in the ranks of social acceptance within the community.

He was also aware, those who would be motivated to do such, would have no idea that it would lead to a church split that mimicked the one which seeded this beautifully growing operation to begin with. He was swift to fire those who showed any form of dissent, feeling the organizations sustenance depended on it.

So as his fame increased, so did his detractors and controversies. His fortunes, which initially propel him and allowed him to gain a rapid following of new Christians seeking the abundance that God had to offer as exemplified by their fearless pastors successes, was now being used against him with scriptures concerning that it’s easier to fit a camel through the eye of a needle than for a multimillionaire stock trader to make it into heaven. His response was usually to point that the guys have some serious planks in their eyes that need to be delt with before they are allowed to continue to vote on church mandates.

Those pushed aside with such quickness didn’t seem to have a problem seeing around their planks the others who were getting equally pissed off over his divisive moves and formed coalitions for his ousting.

His stress increased and with it, so did his hostility. As the detractors grew in numbers he unwilling gave them more to work with and found himself faced with nothing short of blackmail – allow greater oversight over sermons and church outreach funding, or face having his moments of weakness where he exploded while elders were in the room, to be used to show his instability and further accusations of emotional abuse and bulliying within the higher ranks.

It quickly became clear that several members of the board, who had risen in the ranks of their own businesses while following their pastors own smart investment strategies, had companies that benefit from the service contrcts and supply purchases that equated to millions in spends from missions that were supported by church finance. They were after the contracts, menial ones to add insult to injury, that his companies had received by default.

His competitors had used the allure of social poisoning to build a movement against him simply to obtain contracts that he had awarded himself. However, to his credit, the companies he had stakes in that received the awards, he had bullied into donations that far exceeded the benefits they had received from such contracts and the shifting of these financial resources would ultimately equate to about fifty percent of the recourses currently making their way to front lines of the missions.

From the hard working pastor’s perspective, it was coup over money started by those who had no idea how to transition such structures without it affecting the number of poverty stricken people whose care they had already taken on the responsibilities of.

It became clear, that his missions would have to expand efforts to divert any pausing that would allow for any major changes to be implemented or further considered within the board controlled non-profit.

And this was the point, where Marty Brigman, after dozens of days in heavy prayer in the trees of quarterly Pentecostal prayer ralley, concluded he must tell his congregation to “pray for a storm that would bring Christ’s vengeance upon the regions whose activities he had frowned upon, as a modern sign of God’s judgment and power within a crippled world.”

By this point, it was mid eighties and Shelly was pregnant with her fourth child, Casey, that she realized her husband was mother fucking bat shit crazy.

And it just after when she also realized, that she may be too, as she could not tell weather it was sheer coincidence or the work of the heavens that a storm wreaked havoc on the shores off Mexico and humanitarian efforts would be most needed due to the churches less than 8 hour proximity from the disaster zone.

 

Surprised by the storm skipping both Vegas and Reno in favor of a desolate pre-coke Mexican village, fellows within the church theorized Marty had been in touch with his geologist friends at the time of his sermon and prayer mandates.

 

And while this could easily have called into question the prophetic gifts that had multiplied his congregation in droves, his wife was unaware of his growing ties within the scientific community which he consistently spoke of as “those who present invalid obstacles between man and faith”.

 

It was suspected that this was his companies reasoning for denying the existence of global warming during certain environmental hearings at a far later date. But this was besides the point. 300 people believed they made a storm happen and then were the first to sweep in with utter compassion. The rescue efforts came in under budget, on time and their close proximity to home allotted for the bonds built under stress to actually transfer into deeper relationships once home.

Essentially, this whole scene just turned into a really tight community.

Whereas it’s nothing new for missionary organizations to have special interests lurking in the shadows, this particular ordeal seamed to miraculously achieve every self-serving goal the principal organizer could have ever dream of achieving. The detractors turned into defectors which eased Marty’s tension and gave him a sense of overwhelming satisfaction, especially when he realized their closest other choice was the Episcopalians in that awful pepto-bizmo pink over sized bungalow two blocks away.

And it goes without that saying that Marty’s food not only came in to save the community but also went on to become their primary option for years after, a steady stream of cash for the well bafflingly well intended organizer. One had to admit, the man knew how to move fast at just the right time.

With a newly energized leadership team and a major influx of private cash coming in from his quickly negotiated grocery distribution networks, Marty was able to personally finance five times the number of out bound missions, which he believed God would reward with more media coverage and a quick growth spurt in congregational numbers. He was right. It actually worked. His cash dumped in came back in the form of books sales times ten, and no one, not even his longest running of friends, was going to try and fuck him at this point.

 

Marty, had gone, what future historians would refer to as, totally fucking pimp.

Expensive cars. Private jets. Gold plate jesus fish on all five luxary vehicles. Marty was rich as shit and his genoristy and mission efforts seemed to justify what one could barely call indulgence in comparison to the amount of cash sifting through the giddy reverends finger tips.

In 1989, Casey Brigman was born. Her eyes crumbled him from the untouchable power figure to the frightened little boy everyone knew he was all along. They pierced right in. He’d never seen anything so pure. The energy his daughters eyes carried were like a transparent force of truth. They looked just like his, except, unbroken.

And he just didn’t know how to deal with it. Staring straight at, who he should have became.

Casey was the only of four children without a biblical name. Her three elder brothers were John, Paul and cruelly, Ezeikel. When she was thirteen and her hormones were looking for reasons to hate everyone, she despised her older brothers for being given Christian names, seeing it as a sign that the boys were seen as more inherently of God than she was in her father’s eyes.

This was one of the many reasons Casey’s father had set her up for a young life of faith on autopilot, unable to register many of the deeper questions she had of the celestial father over her own father’s subconsciously confusing the dynamic between her and any of her makers.

The truth about the name however, was far sadder and more complex. At the time of her birth, as Marty had become the master of maneuvers and manipulations in order to appease a God that he was certain would always perceive him as not enough, Marty’s subconscious guilt over the numerous deceptions he was orchestrating all for The Glory Of God, made him start to believe that nothing that came from him, was truly of God. And that his boys names were there as a façade – and he could not bare anywhere in his soul or spirit, to use the façade on the only creature he had ever seen as truly of God. Casey.

Marty, for the first 15 years of her life, showed her more love and respect than he had ever shown anyone, simply because, he was utterly terrified by her. Her judgement would always be closer to Gods than his own, and somewhere in him, he feared she would be the one to lead him to an existential crisis that could cause the leader who feeds hundreds of thousands, to fall.

Pastors fall for various reasons. Some over embezellment. Some over affairs. Some over molestations. Most, while shrouded in reasons that point to doctrinal differences, are over money and power. Community loyalty in terms of where money goes and petty social positioning in terms of power. And in almost all cases of forced removals, it’s five or ten people behind the landslide that end up losing the entire congregation and all of it’s beneficiaries, money and social position. No one walks away from that shit looking too pretty.

And while Marty Brigman’s desire to keep his children sheltered from church and ministry politics, he had born a daughter who was more perceptive than he was and could see through every one of the physical mannerisms he had applied to his persona to keep control of financial and internal politics situations that generally seemed rather uncontrollable.

She could see his stress, which was consistent.

Day and night, all his mind could think of was the damage that would be done to so many lives if he was ousted or fell. It terrified him.

He wasn’t trying to protect just his own pride, power or money at this point. He was thoroughly convinced, not in terms of his teaching and speaking but in running the massive outreach and missions organizations, that had grown the worst job ever. Utterly thankless hours and unbearable amounts of spreadsheet time, Marty literally couldn’t imagine why anyone would want to be in the position. He grew to find it painfully humorous when it became obvious that others were vying for it in such transparently deceptive ways.

While he would have loved to said, it’s all yours, I’m done, he knew the widespread devastation it could cause and just wasn’t selfish like that. There was a serious spirit of both God and the devil rushing through this man at the same time and in Casey’s eyes, she could truly never tell which was a grander motivator.

It was an unfair assessment on her part, as she had no idea how geniuses of his sort are generally troubled deeply within. They simply know too much, to fast. They could change the world for the better or they could crumble it. And they are smart enough to know, that without them even trying, it’s going to be one or the other.

But her hyperactive empathy picked up on every one of his emotions even if he was four rooms over. The doors could be shut in the sanctuary and the halls closed with mops and buckets and still, from hundreds of feat away, through the concrete and brick and faux marble paneling, she could feel every inch of her fathers emotions. And he knew it. And it terrified him.

And this was when, she was seven. You don’t see a level of established savvy and sweetness and empathy like you do in the present day Casey Brigman, without someones mind doing back flips since the age of seven. Casey Brigman was one of the most intelligent creatures I had ever met. The only one of the four siblings, that was smarter than the obviously fractured genius that they had been born unto. And he knew it. From when she was 4. That’s when it hit him. She’s smarter than me. Dear God, get me through this.

That’s what he thought. And that’s what felt when I met her. Dear God, get me through this… She could turn me to a shell of a man.

FROM TO SOON TO BE COMPLETED BOOK – BORN AGAINS