Holy Ghost Girl

A Memoir

By Donna M. Johnson
(Gotham, Hardcover, 9781592406302)

Publication Date: October 13, 2011

List Price: $26.00*
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Selected by Indie Booksellers for the October 2011 Indie Next List
“Johnson's treatment of her childhood immersed in the Pentecostal tent-meeting movement is flawless. She is truthful about her memories, but she does not rush to the judgment of others. Weak of flesh but strong in willpower, well-meaning Randall Terrell is the leader of a traveling group of the faithful. Tent meetings are huge, and once the donations become enough to cover bills, they soon lead to an excess that is all too familiar. This is an excellent book for those wanting to both know more about this particular spiritual movement and gain some understanding of the faith that kept the followers going.”
-- Linda Bond, Auntie's Bookstore, Spokane, WA


Description

Donna Johnson's remarkable story of being raised under the biggest gospel tent in the world, by David Terrell, one of the most famous evangelical ministers of the 1960s and 70s. Holy Ghost Girl is a compassionate, humorous exploration of faith, betrayal, and coming of age on the sawdust trail.

She was just three years old when her mother signed on as the organist of tent revivalist David Terrell, and before long, Donna Johnson was part of the hugely popular evangelical preacher's inner circle. At seventeen, she left the ministry for good, with a trove of stranger- than-fiction memories. A homecoming like no other, Holy Ghost Girl brings to life miracles, exorcisms, and faceoffs with the Ku Klux Klan. And that's just what went on under the tent.

As Terrell became known worldwide during the 1960s and '70s, the caravan of broken-down cars and trucks that made up his ministry evolved into fleets of Mercedes and airplanes. The glories of the Word mixed with betrayals of the flesh and Donna's mother bore Terrell's children in one of the several secret households he maintained. Thousands of followers, dubbed "Terrellites" by the press, left their homes to await the end of the world in cultlike communities. Jesus didn't show, but the IRS did, and the prophet/healer went to prison.

Recounted with deadpan observations and surreal detail, Holy Ghost Girl bypasses easy judgment to articulate a rich world in which the mystery of faith and human frailty share a surprising and humorous coexistence.




About the Author

Donna Johnson has written about religion for The Dallas Morning News and other publications. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband, the poet and author Kirk Wilson.

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