When I was a kid growing up in Clear Lake City (just outside of Houston, TX) I went to University Baptist Church. UBC grew rapidly under the leadership of an awesome pastor named Henry Adrion III and his equally awesome wife, Pat. It was easy to pay attention to the passionate sermons Brother Henry gave every Sunday. But that was before Kathy Covington joined the church with her sister, Kayla, and her parents, Mary Lou and Clarke.
Like all the other grade school boys who were distracted by Kathy, I was pretty certain she was the most perfect girl ever to walk the face of the Earth. But she kept getting a little more perfect every year. By the end of high school, things just got downright ridiculous. She was star of the senior play, homecoming queen, senior class favorite, senior class president, a top 15 student (of around 3300) and, of course, she was voted “most beautiful.”
So when I met Kathy’s husband at my ten-year high school reunion in 1993, I wasn’t too surprised that he had a lot going for him, too. Good-looking, intelligent, and athletic, I was also unsurprised that John Burke was a pastor. Kathy had always been a very religious (and spiritual) girl and a fine example to everyone at Clear Lake High School.
Fourteen years after meeting John, I got a copy of his book in the mail. My mom sent it to me so I figured I had better read it. Otherwise, I feared I would risk not getting any brownies or chocolate cookies when I come home for Christmas this year. I was less-than-enthusiastic about adding to an already over-sized “to read” list. However, when I finished John’s book, I quickly realized that I had just read the second truly outstanding book among the several dozen I’ve polished off in 2007 - the other being Blue Like Jazz by Don Miller.
John Burke, the man who married the perfect girl, wrote No Perfect People Allowed with a deep sense of sympathy for those who are suffering in the wake of what he calls a “three-decade binge on self” which has the country “vomiting up the consequences” in the early part of the 21st Century.
One of the most disturbing aspects of this national binge on self has been the widespread neglect of children. But Burke points out that there has been much more than mere neglect of children in recent years in America. There is a disdain for children who are all-too-often seen as obstacles to self-fulfillment for status-oriented Americans. If you aren’t convinced, note how children were depicted in such an innocent fashion in decades past and contrast that with the way children are often portrayed as evil in Hollywood today.
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