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July 20th, 2011
06:20 AM ET

Finding God in the Mississippi Delta

By Tommy Andres, CNN

Moorhead, Mississippi (CNN) - The Mississippi Delta is the kind of place where everyone shows up for a funeral.

It was on such a day in 1997 that Lucas McCarty and his grandfather had come to pay their respects to a young man who'd been killed in a car crash.

John Woods was there to bury his son.

Lucas and John had met a handful of times before, but that's the day John found his new son and Lucas his "black daddy" – each one delivered in his own way from a tragic past.

John worked for Lucas’ grandfather on his catfish farm as an “oxygen man." Catfish are fickle creatures, and if they don’t have enough oxygen, the whole lot of them can go belly up in minutes.

He’d gotten the job a decade earlier after getting out of jail. John had killed his brother-in-law on a lonely Delta road, according to T.R. Pearson's “Year of Our Lord,” which tells about John and Lucas. John had been indicted and tried for first-degree murder, but the trial resulted in a hung jury. He was then indicted and tried for first-degree manslaughter - and this time the jury found him not guilty. He was a free man.

At about the time John was starting a new life, Lucas’ life was almost ending before it could even begin.

Elizabeth Lear McCarty’s heart sank when her son was born, the familiar cry of a baby’s entrance into the world replaced by phrases like “no heartbeat” and “no spontaneous respiration.”

Elizabeth says a botched delivery deprived her son of oxygen at birth, damaging his brain.

He was born “gray and dead,” she says.

There would be unanswered questions and a lawsuit, and pretty soon it would become clear that Lucas would never be like other kids.

Lucas has cerebral palsy, a condition suffered when a baby's brain is deprived of oxygen, usually at birth. The condition began to show its devastating effects more and more as he matured.

He never learned to walk, read or write. Even eating was a challenge. It looked like Lucas was destined to spend the rest of his days in a wheelchair, dependent on others for his most basic needs.

Though he has never spoken a word in his life, at age 5 he found a way to say anything he needed to. It would take him years to master it, but the machine he shied away from at first, slowly became his link to his family and the world.

Based on Mayan hieroglyphs, Minspeak allows Lucas to create full sentences by pushing a series of pictures.

If he wants to say the word food, he pushes the picture of an apple. If he wants to say eat, he pushes the picture of an apple followed by the picture of a man running, called the “action man.” If he just wants to say apple, he pushes apple twice.

It can get fairly complex to an outsider. A hamburger, for example, is apple + scale + treasure chest. Somehow, this all makes sense if you’ve never learned to read or write with words.

Lucas grew up going to an Episcopal church, but his mom says he never liked it all that much. He was antsy and easily irritated, and sitting quietly for hours not only was difficult, but practically ran counter to his genetic predisposition.

“His sister kept his hands down the whole time he was at our church,” Elizabeth says.

‘My calling is singing the gospel’

At the funeral for his son, John Woods was touched by the presence of Lucas and his grandfather, James Lear.

“I looked around the church and Mr. Lear was there. Lucas was there. That’s to show you an old black man like me has some dear, sweet white friends,” John says.

Afterward, John began coming to the McCarty house to sing gospel songs with Lucas.

“He really couldn't do much else,” John says. “We would sing songs like ‘God’s Got It All In Control’ ” - no doubt a message that, at the time, offered equal comfort to both of them.

John asked Elizabeth if he could take Lucas to Easter service at Trinity House of Prayer, where he was the music director. John had been saved at Trinity, and he hoped Lucas could be too.

At that first service, John carried Lucas, and because of John’s position as music director, they sat in the deacon’s box, a spot reserved for congregational royalty.

“The Trinity House of Prayer congregation are such a loving environment of peoples,” John says. “A man can be a sinner, a whiner, (but) when they bring him into Trinity House of Prayer he will feel nothing but pure and genuine love.”

The love Lucas felt most was for the music. He fit right in with the loud expressionism and theatrics, and adored the soulful singing. Trinity changed his image of church.

“Shouting, dancing, falling out and speaking in tongues is real church,” Lucas says through his device.

Trinity House of Prayer is known for its choir. Tucked deep into the fertile soil and God-fearing air of the Mississippi Delta, the church is nestled on a flat, barren landscape, one of hundreds in a region where faith is the answer to poverty and hardship.

The chapel isn’t much to look at - an old gray building surrounded by a graveyard of dilapidated vehicles and rusted-out farm equipment. On the inside, windows are covered in a clear red film, a cheap alternative to stained glass. And on a sunny day, the faded carpet and beautiful wood pews light up with a glow that can feel transcendent.

Most notably, Trinity’s congregation is all black – with one exception. Every Sunday for the past 15 years, Lucas has shown up, sometimes carried, sometimes crawling, but always ready to put his “foot on the devil’s head.”

It’s a bit of a peculiar sight, a white man in a black church, on his knees, wailing indecipherably, but passionately into the microphone in the corner of the choir stand. He knows every word, he just can’t say them, but that sure doesn’t stop him from finding his voice.

“My calling is singing the gospel,” he says.

A warm, cleansing oil

Four months before Lucas was born, John Woods prayed for the first time for as long as he could remember.

The hard crack of the pistol, pulled from his waistband and fired without aim on that balmy Father's Day in 1987, rang through his head over and over.

John didn’t know if the man he had shot was dead, but he knew he was in trouble. He and his wife, Mary Frances, cried together until a squad car pulled into his driveway and took John away in handcuffs.

According to John, he heard his sister's husband had beaten her with a pipe, and John wanted to get even. He tracked the man down at a diner to give him a piece of his mind, the gun in his waistband providing punctuation for each cautionary sentence.

But according to John’s description in Pearson's "Year of our Lord," his brother-in-law didn’t take too kindly to the threat. He chased John down a road and pulled out a .25 automatic. He got off two shots before the gun jammed, and before John knew it, he’d shot back.

John wouldn’t find out for sure until he was in his cell that the man was dead, but he had felt the life leave his brother-in-law the second he shot him.

It was in the Sunflower County Jail where John found God. As he sat there in a cold cell, a cellmate told him to turn his life over to the Lord.

John’s life had been far from charmed. Plagued by drugs and alcohol, he now found himself sharing a fate suffered by all too many poor black men in the Delta. But on one of those sleepless nights, John prayed, and that’s when he says he felt it.

“It was like a warm oil being poured down from the top of my head, running slowly down my body, and every place it touched it was cleansing me.”

It was when John got out of jail that he says “old Jimmy Lear” took a chance on him, made him his "oxygen man," always telling John not to worry and “keep moving.”

John would drive around to each pond and put a long stick into the water and check the oxygen levels. The job required him to check the oxygen nearly every hour around the clock, so sleeping was in short spurts spread throughout the day and night.

It was during one of these naps 15 years ago that John had a strange dream. In the dream, Tony, the oldest of his four sons, had crashed his truck, and John was consoling him. John awoke to the phone ringing. It was his wife Mary Frances. Tony had fallen asleep at the wheel coming home from work at 4 a.m.

“God called him home.”

Crawling into the choir stand

Despite being told he’d never be able to walk, Lucas has found his own way, slipping out of his wheelchair and onto the floor at Trinity House of Prayer, where he shuffles around on thick knee pads as if in a state of constant reverence.

Drawn to the music, it was only a matter of time before Lucas crawled up into the choir stand. Not only was Lucas the only white member of the church - and definitely the only member with cerebral palsy - until last year he was also the only man in the all women’s choir. A young man has since joined him.

Trinity’s pastor, Willie B. Knighten, tried to heal Lucas at one of his first services. Lucas says it was the only time he felt uncomfortable at the church.

“I only felt funny when the preacher laid hands on me the first time,” he remembers.

It’s the soft spot within many people that makes them wish Lucas normal, but the hand of God hasn’t taken away his condition.

Still, to nearly everyone who attends Trinity, it’s a small miracle each time Lucas crawls into the choir stand on his own every week to sing. In a small way, he has been healed.

Lucas is a lot like any 25-year-old single man. He likes cars, he loves surfing the web, and the No. 1 thing on his mind at any given time is women. He wants a girlfriend - specifically one, he says, who is “an outgoing sweetheart, who does not smoke, has never had children but wants (them) and is a Republican.”

Lucas’ access to the outside world is a bit limited. Because of his handicap, going anywhere can be an ordeal. He refuses to use a power chair, instead relying on the push of a friend, relative or stranger.

A few days each week, Lucas works at his father’s restaurant in nearby Indianola washing dishes and cleaning. When Lucas was 6 years old, his parents got divorced. It’s no secret that the difficulties of raising an impaired child strained the marriage.

The job gets him out of the house he shares with his mother, something that’s important for a young man whose body is disabled but whose ambition knows no limits. Lucas wants to start his own cleaning company, and during the announcements following a recent service at Trinity House of Prayer, Lucas asks for the microphone, holds it up to his machine and slowly types out the message that if anyone is looking for work, he’s hiring.

Church is the one time a week Lucas knows he can get out of the house, and at Trinity House of Prayer people won’t look away when he comes down the aisle.

“Lucas would be at church every time the door opened if he could,” his mother says. “But we just usually go take him on Sunday. And that's the most important part of the week for Lucas … getting to church on Sunday.”

Lucas has found other ways to connect. He has an e-mail address and a Facebook account, but for years his favorite hobby has been jumping on the CB radio he keeps in the family room. Most of the truckers know him by now. His handle is “Teddy Bear,” and he starts each interaction the same way: “Is there a pot of coffee on?”

John Woods, now Bishop John Woods, has moved on from Trinity to be the associate pastor of a church down the road. He and Lucas still get together, singing their favorite gospel songs just as they did 15 years ago. Lucas’ favorites are “I’ll Fly Away” and “I’ve Got To Run.” Between songs they talk about life and the Lord.

When John asks Lucas if he’s been saved, he shrugs. Despite the music and the love of Trinity’s congregants, he hasn’t quite made his peace with God. It’s a familiar struggle for many, but when you draw a hand like Lucas’, making sense of it all can be even more challenging.

Lucas may still be on a search for God, but the boy who was born without a breath has found his “oxygen man” - and John has found the son he lost.

When they speak of God, John tells Lucas, “Don’t worry, you’ll find him one day.” But Lucas seems content to find his solace “in the music,” and he’s happy as long as he can convince folks of one thing: “I want people to know I am more than a boy in a wheelchair.”

Editor's Note: Nashville band Sleeping Bulls provided the song “Jean Baptiste” from their upcoming album “The Least Banquets” for the video.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church • Faith & Health • Mississippi

soundoff (1,300 Responses)
  1. love it

    Love the positive comments here, hope this makes your days and rest of your lives a wonderful journey to look back with fondness and feed on the frenzy!! Remeber you are not "immortal" thank you parasites!!!!

    July 20, 2011 at 10:25 am |
    • shamgar50

      Love it, Do you own a dictionary?

      July 20, 2011 at 10:39 am |
    • Bible Clown

      Take a deep breath, go out and walk around, and then try that again. It's senseless. If you mean people are focusing on the 'religion' part of this and ignoring the 'friendship' part, then you are 100% correct. You sound like I already bopped you with the Clown Hammer©.

      July 20, 2011 at 11:31 am |
  2. sleepytime

    Wow, this was a really poorly written article!

    July 20, 2011 at 10:25 am |
  3. charliebrownjon

    Cute. Too bad God isn't real.

    July 20, 2011 at 10:23 am |
  4. Roger

    "Yeah, I found God and he was absolutely just like me." - Live

    July 20, 2011 at 10:23 am |
  5. CJ

    If it gives him happiness, that's all that matters.

    July 20, 2011 at 10:23 am |
  6. Seek

    Sometime people are brought into the world to become a person that will draw men to god. As i read the article I believe that he is innocent as a child but has god in his life. His mind is somewhat like a child, I was a child who grew up in chruch but there was alot that I didn't understand but now that I'm older I understand alot better. Don't you think that people who will read this will become interested enough to visit a church? for the one who have been away from chruch, don't you think they will read this and becomed moved until the point of returning to chruch?

    July 20, 2011 at 10:22 am |
    • truthseek 101

      I hope not. Religion is the opiate of the people.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:23 am |
    • Frogist

      @Seek: (I like your name BTW) I have to disagree with some of what you said. I don't think his mind is like a child. He cannot communicate well but that doesn't mean he is living in a mentally-retarded state necessarily. He really doesn't seem much less immature than any other 23 yr old who is obssessed with the internet and women and trying to find out who they really are. Also I'm sure there are those who would be inspired by this story. But I don't think there will be a mass return to church because of it. I have no desire to return. I get my social interaction and inspiration elsewhere. I really don't share the opinion that this young man's affliction is as a means of returning people to God. And if God would do such a thing, I don't understand why anyone would want to associate Him.

      July 20, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
  7. Byrd

    Finding god in the Mississippi Delta. Yeah, well good luck with that so long as you keep electing jerkwads like Haley Barber.

    July 20, 2011 at 10:21 am |
  8. truthseek 101

    when they "find" God and talk to him let me know 😉

    July 20, 2011 at 10:20 am |
  9. Craig

    I found God in my sock drawer.

    July 20, 2011 at 10:20 am |
    • truthseek 101

      thats the last place I would have looked. He must be a jerk for making my socks disappear!

      July 20, 2011 at 10:21 am |
  10. Aezel

    All I see here is a bunch of incredibly psychologically unhealthy people.

    July 20, 2011 at 10:18 am |
    • charliebrownjon

      Yes.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:23 am |
    • truthseek 101

      dude, it's 99% of people in general.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:27 am |
    • Beadles

      Yes, the comments are particularly stupid, aren't they?

      July 20, 2011 at 10:32 am |
  11. mdc

    A beautiful story.

    July 20, 2011 at 10:17 am |
  12. Tom

    I love how someone who clearly has NO interest or respect for faith, religion, or spirituality is spending his precious time on an article about this topic, trying to offend and instigate with childish posts under the name "JESUS." You are quite transparent, sir. Get a life.

    July 20, 2011 at 10:13 am |
    • Phil

      We love to read the human interest stories...but we are tired of having religion shoved down our throat everywhere we turn.

      July 20, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • Sam

      Amen! I was so just thinking the same thing. And they think they are funny.

      July 20, 2011 at 11:09 am |
  13. Mike

    This article would be much more interesting if it were "Finding freethought/skepticism in the Mississippi delta"
    or
    "Finding Science in the Mississippi delta"

    You know. Something hard and worthwhile.

    July 20, 2011 at 9:50 am |
    • Jesus

      As one very savvy GOP politician said to me, these low brows need something other than their own bleak reality to deal with. If believing in God does it for them, then we will support that as well as align ourselves with them. A vote is a vote.

      July 20, 2011 at 9:57 am |
    • Chris

      I was going to say the same thing. Finding religion in the south is like finding ants on the ground...their EVERYWHERE

      July 20, 2011 at 10:02 am |
    • CallingBS

      Jesus, that same savy GOP politician must also be a follower of Marx and Lennon, "religion is the opiate of the masses"...the rest of you need to look inside for strength and guidance, or you'll be lead down a fool's path!

      July 20, 2011 at 10:28 am |
  14. Chris

    Oh my God, the South is AWFUL! Every part of this article sounds like a bad joke about Southern people... but it's all true??

    July 20, 2011 at 9:46 am |
    • Sarah

      Because no where else in our largely Christian country believes in God, right? Ignorant jerk.

      July 20, 2011 at 9:50 am |
    • Jesus

      I served with Southerners in the Army. All I can say is that they were slow witted and lacked basic knowledge of hygiene. As a Doc, many of them that I saw were wart infested and had severely decaying teeth. It was as if I was in a 3rd world country.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:05 am |
    • Chris

      Im not OP...I just happen to be named chris. Not everyone down here is overly religious. The older people seem to be. Im 23 and an athiest

      July 20, 2011 at 10:06 am |
    • PulTab

      well sarah, i guess this is probably the first time in history that the majority opinion is wrong. never mind, i forgot about 1940's germany and several hundred other examples.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:07 am |
    • Tom

      Not everyone in Mississippi is like this. Apparently the mainstream media has no problem promoting stale, blanket stereotypes just to get a story read. Mississippians are not "low brow," ignorant, or stupid. You can go to any state and hand pick a couple bumpkins from the most blue-collar area to interview and make said state look regressive and dumb. I assure you it was much harder for the author of this article to find these idiots than you'd think.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:09 am |
  15. freethinker

    Another story about fairy tales and imaginary friends. If god really existed, wouldn't he have prevented the tragic occurrences around his birth? Why give praise to a negligent, apathetic god?

    July 20, 2011 at 9:42 am |
    • Mike

      Apparently their god can do no wrong. Win the lottery? God's will! Entire family killed in a tragic car accident? God's will!

      Their god is not a pleasant diety.

      July 20, 2011 at 9:50 am |
    • C

      If God never let anything bad happen, how would you know what is good?

      July 20, 2011 at 9:53 am |
    • Frogist

      @C: I thought that was how it was before the fall. And that place was called a paradise. Adam and Eve would not have had any evil around them and that would have been fine. And heaven is exactly that, a place without suffering or evil. Are you saying heaven is irrelevant?

      July 20, 2011 at 9:57 am |
    • Bruce

      And another comment by a "freethinker" about an article in CNN's Belief Blog that attempts to be critical of the article without first reading it.

      The article has absolutely nothing–NOTHING–to do with the specific mythos of Christianity. If you read the article, and watch the video clip, you will find that it has to do with people and how they interact on a fundamental level.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:07 am |
    • C

      @Frogist: The garden before the fall is not the same as heaven. Also, when you say "Adam and Eve would not have had any evil around them and that would have been fine." that is incorrect. Evil existed in garden prior to the fall, aka Satan.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:11 am |
    • justme

      now i know why you are the free thinker. after reading you i understand, no one will give you a "penny for your thoughts"

      July 20, 2011 at 10:14 am |
    • Bruce

      C, there is no theological "evidence" that the serpent character found in the Genesis story is equivalent to Satan.

      Indeed, there are good arguments to be made that the serpent wasn't evil, nor was the fall of man a bad thing. It was time for Adam and Eve to grow up. Their lives before the fall were meaningless and stupid. Only through struggle and suffering does one come to maturity.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:15 am |
    • Vince72

      It's called free will, we have free will, as a result of that bad things can happen to us. It very well could be that the Dr involved with the delivery had turned his back on God and so did not hear him when he told him how to avoid the mistakes that would occur in the delivery.

      We are also constantly tested. God has a purpose for us, we have no clue what that is. His tests weed out those that will not suit his purpose and set aside those that do.

      You are free to choose not to believe, but I choose to believe. You can mock me all you want if you feel I am being foolish, for your opinion of me matters not one iota. It is only His opinion of me that truly matters.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:19 am |
    • Bruce

      Vince72, you need to read Job. Good things happen to bad people. Bad things happen to good people. It's not about justice. Bad things are not punishments meted out by God for immorality or for "turning your back" on Him. Good things are not rewards given out by God as an atta-boy for humility, or morality, or whatever you think we are called to do.

      Morality is its own reward. It is good to be good. Immorality is its own punishment. It is bad to be evil. That's true moral freedom in a nutshell. Most people can't handle it, and like Bildad, Zophar, Eliphaz, and yourself, they build some quid-pro-quo mechanism between God and themselves and posit bad things and good things in that context. You are wrong.

      Read Job. It's all right there in black and white.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:26 am |
    • Laughing

      @ Bruce

      You took the words out of my mouth about Satan being in the garden of eden. It always makes me angry when christians try to apply new testement teaching to the old and expect it to fit perfectly.

      I can see how you could argue that it was time for Adam and Eve to leave the garden and "grow up" as you put it. My question for you is why? Why would god have wanted Adam and Eve to grow up, leave paradise and everything else behind to go and toil and suffer? By all accounts in Genesis it doesn't look like god ever had that intention, and furthermore, what would be the point? God gave us free will and he also had loving worshippers, right there in his garden, neither of those changed after the fall so again, why?

      July 20, 2011 at 10:32 am |
    • beckster

      "They have eyes to see but do not see and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious people."

      July 20, 2011 at 10:32 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      "It very well could be that the Dr involved with the delivery had turned his back on God and so did not hear him when he told him how to avoid the mistakes that would occur in the delivery."

      Do you honestly think that God gives explicit, verbal directions to surgeons, engineers, pilots etc.?
      If my doctor relied on instructions from an invisible friend to do his job, I'd be finding a new physician PDQ! Auditory hallucinations are not a positive indicator of mental health.

      "We are also constantly tested. God has a purpose for us, we have no clue what that is. His tests weed out those that will not suit his purpose and set aside those that do."
      This was proven in the story of Job, right?
      God let Satan strip him of all his wealth, inflict terrible disease on him, and of course slaughter his entire family.
      And God's great purpose in the utter decimation of Job's life?
      To win a bet.
      Which is really silly given that He is omniscient and knew what the outcome would be.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:33 am |
    • JT

      They suffer from a delusion.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:36 am |
    • Bruce

      @Laughing: If you read the Genesis story, it does not strike one as a story of a meticulous Designer who used some form of omniscience to look into the future and predict what was going to happen. The judgments of "good" and "very good" came in the moment and were immediate, not as the result of reflection and prediction.

      Things happen during the narrative that depict God as being surprised, in one case expressing regret (6:6). The narrative supports more of a tinkerer-God than a meticulous-micromanager-overplanner-God, a God who says, "let's try this," then after trying it evaluating it (good, very good), then after a while finding something wrong and changing it (the flood, for example). The fall of man might have been one of those changes. What appeared good or even very good at first turned out to be meaningless and pointless, and the introduction of suffering and struggle and maturity was a good thing.

      So, while God never had that intention in the first place, Genesis does show us that original intentions don't hold for long. The flood at least shows us a depiction of a God who is willing to wipe-the-slate-clean and start completely over with just a tiny portion of what was there before.

      The compelling theology I have read on the issue is that the Genesis narrative is not a rendition of history as revealed by God to some historian, but rather that it is an allegory that touches on universal ideas of what it means to be human. We all start out in some sort of childlike innocence. At some point the suffering and striving and maturity starts in our lives, and we long for those days of childhood. As children we longed for maturity and knowledge of good and evil, we longed to know God and be like Him. When we found the truth about our moral freedom and began to understand, we are brought to humble shame and a life of suffering and struggle.

      It's not so much a question of "why" did God do whatever He might have done but rather "what" happened in the story and what it means to us today. The longevity of the Genesis story doesn't owe itself to some robust sense of historical accuracy–indeed there is no way to prove or disprove the narrative today, and efforts to prove it are pointless. The power of Genesis is that it speaks to universal ideas of what it means to be human in this world. That's why it still gains traction today.

      July 20, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • Frogist

      @C et al: Adam and Eve were innocents. They did not know about evil or suffering or any bad things. They did not have that knowledge which they gained from eating the fruit. So even if Satan was the snake, they would not have experienced any suffering for it. They would not have known there were any bad things before the fall. Therefore they couldn't have known any good things. And if you can't know any good things, then obviously Eden would not have been the paradise it is made out to be. The paradise that God created for them was worthless both to them and God.
      And if you say we need bad things to know what good is, what is the point of heaven where there are no bad things? Doesn't that make heaven worthless too?

      July 20, 2011 at 11:24 am |
  16. Frogist

    I am pleased that these two found comfort in each other. And the church they share. And the music they share. It cannot be easy for a young man who has to deal with such hardships. And I cannot imagine the shock and pain of being told your baby has cerebral palsy. It must have been devastating. What I see in this story is the restorative power of relationships and shared interestes. Lucas found a friend in John who obviously enhanced his life immensely. Friends can do that. And honestly there is nothing that can lift your heart more than finding someplace that you click with, that has things you are interested in and allows you to participate in that. This church did that for him. John had a similar experience care of Lucas grandfather who provided a trusting relationship when one was needed. John was paying it forward.
    I think a lot of things could be glossed over in this story... what was the real relationship like between John and James, did Lucas' other church reject him or did Lucas do the rejecting, and how much shame from the parents had to do with that decision, the issue of race, the issue of disability... I'm a pessimist so I think of these things. I'm trying not to let it overwhelm the fact that two people found great comfort in their shared experiences.
    I think it is important to note that Lucas isn't sold on the whole religion/Jesus thing. He says he is still searching and has not been "saved". It's the music and the physical activity that has made him feel at home at this church rather than the Episcopalian one he left. He wasn't searching for the Lord as much as he was searching for a place he could fit in. I can understand that. Music and art are powerful forces that reach us in ways we don't expect. And do a better job than most other outlets to create emotional bridges between people. I think if Lucas was not brought up in a religious home he would have found that emotional release and acceptance in places other than church. But I am glad he found it wherever he did. I just hope he doesn't now feel obligated or forced to conform to the church's restrictions and moral imperatives just because he likes the music and theatricality.

    July 20, 2011 at 9:39 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Frogist
      100% agree.
      Well said, as usual.
      I think it is obvious that the social aspects of the church experience are what draws this unfortunate person – not the spiritual.
      There are few things as effective at building community as shared rituals.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:03 am |
    • mdc

      Indeed.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:27 am |
    • Frogist

      @DocVestibule: Thanks! I appreciate it. And I agree. I was at the U2 concert in Philly last week and it occured to me, it was like a religious experience. Like being in church where everyone was singing and shouting in one voice. We were connected by our shared love of the music and the shared experience of being in that place. And I think you can't help coming out a bigger fan on the other side of it. Bono was our preacher that night. And he's a damm fine one! Whatever he was selling I would have bought... and paid extra! I can see the appeal. And the power of that position.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:40 am |
    • Nonimus

      I second Doc's statement. Well put Frogist.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:52 am |
  17. Richard S Kaiser

    What a Wonderful reason to give Praise and Salutations! I had to take breaks in reading this story, because my eyes leaked Profusely!

    July 20, 2011 at 8:49 am |
    • Jesus

      Maybe it was the leakage of your brain fluid? It seems that your elevator doesn't
      go to the top floor.

      July 20, 2011 at 10:00 am |
  18. CW

    Great Story...

    Here is a man who has a handicap that no one would want...but what is he doing?...PRAISING THE LORD. Its a shame that non believers can't see that the Lord is the only way. This gentleman is an inspiration to all...God Bless him, his family, and his church family.

    July 20, 2011 at 8:48 am |
    • Frogist

      @CW: You might want to re-read that last couple paragraphs or so. Lucas says he isn't "saved". He says he is still searching so even Lucas doesn't necessarily believe "the Lord is the only way". Maybe the lesson is to question and keep searching till you find your truth because there isn't only one way.

      July 20, 2011 at 9:15 am |
    • capnmike

      There isn't any "Lord"...it's a human invention. Religion is an enormous lie.

      July 20, 2011 at 9:41 am |
    • MB

      Candy W?

      July 20, 2011 at 10:44 am |
  19. justathought

    ...faith, hope, love, but the greatest of these is love.

    July 20, 2011 at 8:26 am |
  20. justathought

    ...faith, hope, love, the greatest of these is love.

    July 20, 2011 at 8:21 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.