Donna Johnson was three years old when her mother signed on as the organist for Brother David Terrell, a hugely popular apocalyptic tent preacher during the 1960s and 70s. As a member of Brother Terrell’s inner circle Donna had a front row seat for the miracles, exorcisms, KKK face-offs and betrayals of the flesh that were common under the tent. As the faithful followed their prophet to backwaters across the South to await the end time, Donna left the ministry for good at age seventeen.
Recounted with deadpan observation and surreal detail, Holy Ghost Girl bypasses easy judgment to articulate a rich world where the mystery of faith and human frailty share a surprising and humorous coexistence.
- Hardcover: 278 pages
- Publisher: Gotham (October 13, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1592406300
- ISBN-13: 978-1592406302
I love memoirs, especially ones based on a child’s experience, written by the child turned adult. The reason for this is because I often wonder when things happen and adults are talking and writing about their experiences, what happens to the child? What is he/she thinking? How is she/he coping? Where’s her/his voice?
Donna Johnson’s book, titled “The Holy Ghost Girl” gives a window to those who always wonder what happens at big tent revivals and healing services. Most importantly, it sheds light into what happens when the people go home. Donna’s experience is one not so different from those who grew up in the charasmatic churches of the South or went to the tent revials in small Southern towns…at least from my own personal experience. However, it is still mind boggling how someone ( a leader) can call himself that and lead people into believing he is God, or at least God’s right hand. As a Christian, I believe that the Holy Bible is the Truth and is infallible, however it can certainly get twisted when interpreted and taught for one’s own purpose.
Donna is very open in her journey, what she witnessed, how it impacted her life as a child, and how she came to understand what it all meant to her (as a spectator looking in). This is a great read, one that should be read, and one that should be used as a tool to heed caution. While we all want to be closer to God, sometimes the road to getting there can be the wrong way, but how do we know? Donna shows this through examples of those who handed over their money to their leader, gave up everything they knew to follow him, and sacrificed who they were to have the “experience”. Falling down, crying, screaming, being healed and being caught up in wanting to be healed not only changed the lives of those who had the experience, but those who witnessed it, too. Reading this book, it’s easy to think, “how could these people follow this man? Could it even happen today?”These are people who gave everything to be closer to God, to David, and to be followers of their faith. Some did experience instant healing, while others felt they just needed to wait a little longer for their miracle to manifest…they just needed to pray harder, fast more, tithe more, etc. We see them in our news today, we’ve heard of them (think Jim Jones or the Davidians), we even have people in our daily walks try to talk to us about how their religion is the one true religion and without it, we will go to hell.
I am thankful to have read this book and hope that Donna finds healing by sharing such raw and intimate moments with her readers to learn and hopefully realize that our children are our future and they should be heard. I also hope that somewhere in all of this, she does realize that God (with the capital G) does exist, loves her, and condones those who abuse His word.
After reading this book, I began doing searches and found some blog entries that Donna Johnson submitted on Psychology Today. Psychology Today is a reputable online site that lists therapists available and the kinds of services they provide. I was intrigued by her blog entries and it really gave another dimension to who the author is. The book focuses mainly on her childhood and how it impacted her growing up, and the blog entries are highlights of how spirituality has shaped her and is a great teaching tool for others.
*This book was provided through Crazy Book Tours as part of a virtual blog tour. No money or other forms of compensation were given.
Follow the Tour!
10/28/2011 – Phantom Paragrapher
10/29/2011 – Deco My Heart
10/30/2011 – Laurie Here
10/31/2011 – Colloquium
11/1/2011 – Tiffany’s Bookshelf
11/2/2011 – Practical Frugality
11/7/2011 – WV Stitcher
11/9/2011 – Books in the Burbs
11/10/2011 – StephTheBookworm
11/11/2011 – Hippies, Beauty, and Books OH MY!
- What People Magazine is Reading This Week (Oct 31st Issue) (kindlereader.blogspot.com)
- Books of The Times: ‘Holy Ghost Girl,’ a Memoir by Donna M. Johnson – Review (nytimes.com)
- Book Reviewers Wanted (justificationbygrace.com)
- Holy Ghost show gives Muscovites the jitters (rt.com)
- The Unrivalled Power Of Prayer – Daily Devotion By Oswald Chambers (gospelbondservant.com)