There is an old adage that preachers’ kids are more likely to rebel than their peers. In The Burning Church, retired WWBT-NBC12 (and then WRIC-ABC8) anchorman-turned-author Gene Cox does little to dispel the notion. His 180-page memoir (Unlimited Publishing) traces the influences on Cox and his two brothers of his mother, Merriam, who bears the loss of an infant daughter with unspoken dignity, and his father, Truett, an itinerant preacher painted as a decent, albeit distant, man.
The book title serves as metaphor and historical milestone. After years of toiling at small country churches, Truett finally gets a shot at pastoring a large church in North Carolina — only to watch it burn to the ground shortly after the Cox family moves there. “It was probably the only chance Dad ever had at a significant ministry,” Cox writes wistfully. “But it had burned away. He would go down what was left of the hill from there.”
Cox says the memoir helped him better understand his father’s rigid fundamentalism. “My dad was a good man, even though he didn’t always understand why I did what
I did. We all grow up believing what we were taught. I was no different.” The 73-year-old will shift gears with his next book: a novel about political corruption in a midsize U.S. city. Hmmm … wonder where he will get his material.—Garry Kranz