It is about 1:30 on Sunday afternoon in Redondo Beach, California, and already they’re showing up in the parking lot. Some drive older-model cars, a few come roaring in on Harleys, and one or two arrive on foot. As the crowd grows, it is obvious that the most popular colors are black and blue. Well-worn denim is the leading fabric, with leather and spandex not far behind.
A small, tinkling sound gathers force. It is not wind chimes, but the sound of earrings, dangling from hundreds of ears—women’s and men’s. The earrings are only partially concealed by flowing hairdos, including a couple of manes colored brilliant blue or orange.
If Joe Average Churchgoer were to get lost in this scene after taking a wrong turn on the way home from Sunday dinner at Denny’s Restaurant, he might think he had landed in a tribe of hardcore heavy-metal music fans, especially after hearing the booming bass sounds coming from the nearby building. But the building happens to be a church, and the booming comes from the worship band, which is led by Jim LaVerde, guitarist for the Christian heavy-metal band Barren Cross. The band features two electric guitars, drums, bass, and organ, all accompanying a group of four singers who are belting out these lines: “Lift him up, give him praise. He will give me power and strength to face each day.”
Over on the piano—sporting hip-length curly hair, a plain black shirt, blue jeans, and snakeskin boots—is Bob Beeman, the 39-year-old man the 400 or so members of this singing, swaying crowd lovingly refer to as Pastor Bob.
After a few more songs, Pastor Bob rises from the piano, approaches the podium, opens his thick, black Bible, and preaches a meaty, biblical sermon on resisting temptation that wouldpass muster in ...1
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