The truth is, I'd rather do things my way. I thought the confusion I felt growing up without a father was just part of life, and there seemed to be benefits. Life was an open range. I disliked authority figures, because they represented boundaries. And the worst were older men. For reasons I didn't understand, I resented them. I felt as though they wanted me to submit to their authority because they wanted to feel powerful. But I also wanted their respect and approval. And if I sensed disapproval, I belittled them in my mind. I was a split person: Half of me wanted to be mentored through life — the side, I suppose, who wanted a father — and the other half would rather not answer to anybody. I started realizing this several years ago when I moved in with a family, the family of a man who taught a college class at a church I was attending.

I met John MacMurray at a strange time in my life. I had left my home in Houston and was traveling around the country when I ran out of money in Oregon. I got an apartment in the suburbs of Portland where housing was cheap, and I started going to a church in a town called Boring, Oregon. The town lived up to its name. It had one stoplight, a convenience store, and a burger place. It was very beautiful, mind you, with views of Mount Hood and Mount St. Helens, river valleys and all, but once you were over that stuff, you were out of luck. The church I started attending was in the middle of a shrub farm — landscape shrubs and flowers and Christmas trees. Every November, the Christmas trees would be hauled down to schmucks in Florida who paid fifty bucks to hang lights on them, sing some songs, then watch them dry up and get pine tar all over the wicker furniture. This church was ...

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