It's possible to be in Waco for months, walk among the people, participate in it's commerce and civic life, and never once hear the words "Compound," "Koresh," or "Branch Davidian." In fact, if it weren't for this article in the Trib about current power struggles out there, the anniversary of The Big Event would have passed and I would have had no clue. Yet for the majority of the world the very word "Waco" is equivalent to what happened several miles from here, thirteen years ago.
Most Wacoans, both natives and transplants, like myself, try to keep "Waco" (the event) at a safe distance. Close enough to enjoy the attention, but far enough not be associated with "those kooks."
Yet I must confess, I have always been strangely haunted by the entire Branch Davidian story. Actually, I've had a fascination for quite some time with religious communities on the fringes of society.
Yesterday I read about the late Neal Frisby and his Capstone Cathedral in Phoenix. On the surface Frisby just seemed like your run-of-the-mill pentecostal faith healer with a small, yet dedicated following. When he wasn't holding revival services, however, was a hermit who spent most of his time holed up in this strange looking building, copying prophecies from God onto scrolls.
In college I took a sociology class on minority groups and we spent a week studying religious groups. Of special fascination to me was the Oneida Community, which is no longer around but has fortunately blessed us with some pretty dang good silverware.
Most of us look at these groups as freak shows, and there is certainly just cause for this. But I think my interest in their corporate lives stems from my interest in myself and the people throughout my life who have been Christian community for me-- the people I've found myself with.
We share a commonality with these groups. Most of us believe we know something the rest of the world doesn't know and, regardless of how humble we try to be about it, we think what we have found is the key that unlocks the universe. You know it's true, don't try to deny it.
We all say we gather around One Thing, but deep inspection and honesty reveal the center of our attention is usually around something different, be it a person with a strong personality or an idea that would make us special.
We are grasping at a Utopia, that no-place that exists in our minds and is, therefore, a distinct possibilty, but which never occurs.
I sat in a room last night with My People, hearing words of the efforts we are making to stumble forward in the light we have been given for now. I looked around and for a brief moment, almost undetectable, everything was silent. I was reminded that we will not be the same in just a few months. Most of us will be gone in 50 years and in a hundred, nothing but what's been written.
Koresh went out in a blaze of glory, but he went out and is no more. The Oneidans, becuase their men weren't allowed to ejaculate during sex, slowly faded away and Neal Frisby was buried last year with a small group of people surrounding him. The liberals will keep adding water until they are diluted beyond recognition, and after the conservatives purge their institutions of all who disagree with them they will then turn and begin destroying each other until they are nothing but a bunch of splinters, or rather, kindling. Everyone else will most assuredly be something else.
Which is just motivation to love mercy, do justly, and walk humbly before our God. And laugh a little more and let ourselves cry and to feel everything we are feeling and to read and pray hug and even argue a bit and feel a healthy amount of animosity to people who have wronged us, but to let it all go in do time.
That's what the music is made of.