May 20, 2010

Arlen Graber - Prolog and Introduction

The Memoirs of
Reverend Doctor Arlen Graber
Edited by
Paxton Cambridge
With an Introduction by Sally Rogers Cambridge


The following are the memoirs of Arlen Graber unedited, except format. They have been collected from various sources and files in the keeping of the Arlen Graber Evangelistic Association. That they are authentic cannot, I believe, be doubted. Many were in his handwriting, and all were signed by him. It’s impossible to know if he ever intended the collection be published. While his conceited ego would lead him to believe everyone would want to know, they were more like a journal, a personal history written perhaps, to strengthen his memory or feed his enormous ego in his old age. The chronology is inexact. While I have tried to place them in some reasonable order based on internal evidences as to the general time periods, he gives few dates in the text and none of the documents themselves are dated. The only exception is the “Portrait of Arlen Graber.” I do not contend that they are in order or that the collection is complete. There may be others yet to be found, but this collection is the result of three years of diligent research.

All are written solely from Arlen Graber’s point of view and, as always there may have been facts and actions he of which he was totally unaware or deliberately distorted. I do not make any insistence on the accuracy of the facts, names of people involved, or their attitudes as expressed by Rev. Garber. In fact, my wife, Sally Rogers Cambridge, who was his friend for many years, asserts that she believes he changed the names of some of participants, to protect their privacy, should these memoirs ever find their way to publication. It may be somewhat difficult then for future biographers to locate and interview those individuals to obtain their confirmation or correction.
This is the story of Arlen Graber in his own words.

Reverend Doctor Arlen Graber – Saint and Sinner
Sally Rogers Cambridge

Arlen Graber was without a doubt the dominating religious figure of our times. Skyrocketing from a young evangelist at the age of twenty-three to the best known Evangelist since Billy Graham, he certainly dominated the evangelical churches across denominational barriers. He was also the subject of much psychological speculation, particularly in the latter years as some of his memoirs came to light. He never called me his friend; in fact he was fond of calling me a host of other names, but I was perhaps his closet associate during the entire period of his rise and fall.

Arlen was born to Harriet and Arlo Garber in January of 1950 the youngest of three children. His parents were converted to Christianity at a tent meeting shortly following their marriage. Neither had finished high school. They moved to a small section of Pittsburgh known as Mckees Rocks, and there joined an extremely conservative Southern Baptist Church.

While the Garbers whole heartedly adopted the Baptist doctrines and developed an almost worshipful attitude toward the Bible and imposed strict restrictions on their children, they were never quite able to make the connection between their faith and their actions. While they spent hours at the church working, learning and teaching others and being “good Christians” it never seemed to have an effect on their home life. Arlo gambled, cussed, drank and frequently beat Harriet and the children. They never read the bible or prayed at home and never encouraged the children to do so. The children were, however forbidden to read comic books, go to dances or movies or listen to rock music among other things.

Arlo had trouble keeping a job so Harriet went to work in a hospital. When Arlen was a teenager, she tired of it all and left with another man. Arlen’s older brother, Tom, joined the service and Arlen was put under the tender care of his older sister, Madge. She hated the responsibility and took every opportunity to abuse and belittle him. There is still much debate as to whether his psychosis was due to environment or was in some degree hereditary. He did have two great uncles who served in the SS during WWII. My guess is it was a little of both.

He did well in school in spite of his home situation. He was very intelligent and outgoing. He was not popular, however. He had only three changes of clothing that were hand-me-downs from his brother and hygiene wasn’t a top priority at the Garber house. Both the girls and the boys in the upscale Suburban school, he was bussed to, avoided him, especially the girls. He was, however, an athlete. He was great at track, a sport not popular enough to earn him social recognition, but which, together with his academic standing, did earn him a small scholarship to East Coast Christian University.

The Garbers moved around a lot and Arlen went to three different high schools before he graduated. The last place they lived was on the side of a hill with a huge Catholic cemetery on the other side of the road. Arlen would go there when he wanted to escape the home environment. There was a huge stone crucifix in the center on top of the hill and from there he could look out over the entire city of Pittsburgh. It was there, standing in the shadow of the cross and looking out over the city at his feet, he told me, he decided to become a pastor. And not just a pastor, the most famous pastor who ever lived. It is ironic that he never did serve as a local pastor, but he did become one of the most famous and controversial evangelists to ever live.

During the early summer after graduation something happened that changed not only his life, but his personality forever. Arlen had been hanging out with a group of misfits in a section of McKees Rocks appropriately known as “The Bottoms” originally because it had been low lying farm land along the Ohio River prior to urbanization of the area. In effect they were a gang and Arlen’s alert mind quickly learned many criminal skills and he frequented the young prostitutes who were members of the gang. He also made contacts in the drug world. Which has some degree of irony attached to it. Arlen did not use drugs. It’s true that on occasion he would smoke a joint with friends, but that was just to be sociable. Drugs seemed to have no effect on him. To my knowledge, the analysts still haven’t figured that one out. He did, however know their effect on others and used them to his purposes.

Madge constantly humiliated him. One day a group of her girl friends had come to the house and their favorite pastime was to torment him. He was not able to get away because his clothes were in the washer and all he had on was his pajamas. Madge told him to go to his room and she’d bring the cloths in. The doorway was only covered with a curtain. She told him to take his pajamas off so she could wash them too and she would bring him some clothes. When he took them off and slid them under the curtain, Madge pulled the curtain back and he was standing naked in front of her friends. He hid under the bed until nighttime.

The next day he went to the Bottoms and got something special from his friends. When he came home two of them came with him. They gathered in his bedroom and waited. She was ironing and Arlen slipped a drug into her glass of coke. In a few minutes she got dizzy and fell. She never passed out. He didn’t want her to pass out. She had to experience the whole thing. He and the boys dragged the semiconscious Madge into the bedroom and his friends raped her. A week later, he set fire to the rental house they lived in after his father had gone out drinking and Madge was at work. He had closed the house up tight trapping Madge’s fourteen cats inside. They all perished in the fire.

Those episodes landed him in the Dixmont State Hospital for the Insane. He spent over a year there being psychoanalyzed. Over time he learned how to answer the questions and skew the tests. He convinced them that he was better. While he was never actually declared cured, since no one really knew what was wrong with him, he was ultimately judged not to be a danger to himself or society and released.

His years at East Coast Christian University, where two buildings are named after him, are presented in his own words in these memoirs. The accuracy of some of the facts stated may be questionable as they are written from the point of view of a man with a gigantic ego and an inability to really understand his own self; let alone the moral climate that surrounded him. I would hope the reader would get a feel for what it was like to be Arlen Graber; to know him as I knew him.

Arlen was my friend and perhaps one of the most effective and inspired religious leaders of our day. He was also a man whose daily life was lived with almost no conscience or moral standards. He constantly insisted that he was unable to feel any emotion. He is the religious enigma of our day. Those who would write him off as a hypocrite or charlatan have to account for the inspired messages and benevolent attitude that brought millions to Christ and fostered good works of all kinds from hospitals for children, refuges for the homeless, millions of tons of food shipped to the starving in the third world to his most important priority, the rescue of abused children. Like King David of Old Testament fame his weaknesses were many, but he was a man after God’s own heart.

His death from complications of a simple surgical procedure at fifty five shocked the world. He always said that the anesthetic and the pain killers would not work. Ironically they did, but the antibiotics did not. I spent the last few days of his life with him and his constant companion of the last twenty years, Terry Powers. I will never forget his last words to me. They were typical of the dichotomy that was his life. He lifted a glass of water in a toast and said. “Hey bitch, you’re still a pain in the ass, but God loves you. To the only girl I would love, if ever I could love.”

Self Portrait of Arlen Graber

Editor’s note: I was determined not to editorialize his writings, since I wanted them to reflect Arlen’s life from his viewpoint entirely. But this piece requires some explanation. It was written by Arlen during the sixth week of his freshman year as an assignment for the English Composition 101 class. It’s not known if he misunderstood what Dr. Wilson meant by “Self Portrait” or if he deliberately intended to shock her. My opinion is that it was the latter. Evidently what she was looking for was a general bio. What Arlen gave her was very different and evidently not what she had in mind. It is also unclear how Arlen knew her husband’s pet name for her. It was one of the few papers he produced in his college career that was rejected without comment. One can imagine the series of questions the professor put together on the study guide by Arlen’s treatment of each topic. The girl referred to in this piece was either Sally Rogers or Caroline Randall. The confusion comes in that Sally was the first girl he slept with on campus but she claims to have seduced him, in which case it would be Caroline who was his first conquest. Notice that his egocentrism, deviousness, choice of descriptive and colorful words, peculiar sense of humor, and clever distortions of fact were already highly developed aspects of his character and writing style. A picture of Arlen taken in an unknown location was attached to the composition. Here it is digitally reproduced and enhanced.

My name is Arlen Graber and having an IQ of 160, I am indisputably the most intelligent student on the campus of East Coast Christian University at the moment. In fact, that also makes me more intelligent than 96.4 percent of the faculty, although I am willing to admit, they have a great deal more knowledge than me, for the time being. In addition to being smart, I am also very articulate, even sometimes charismatic. I can read 685 words per minute with 97.8 percent comprehension. However, I am a lousy artist and only fair at learning to play musical instruments. I do however have a great tenor voice; having a range from B flat 2 to high C.

I am also remarkably good looking. (See attached photo) I don’t think words like handsome, good-looking, attractive or striking quite capture my nearly perfect physical attributes. The girl I slept with last night came close when she referred to me as “gorgeous.” I do have to confess that she was somewhat prejudiced after what she had just experienced. I’ll have more to say about that later.

I am six foot two, broad across the chest with pronounced, firm pectorals, strong biceps, remarkable abs and strong square shoulders accentuated by a masculine erect posture and trim waist. I have the muscular thighs and calves of a runner. The overall impression is that of a fit, but not brawny athlete. My hands and feet are proportionate to the rest of my body although my toes are somewhat closer together than I would like; which somewhat limits what I can do with them in romantic situations.

My blond hair is long and unmanageably curly with just a tinge of brown and golden highlights. My chest, back, legs and arms are covered very lightly with hair of the same color. My facial features are chiseled and well proportioned. My chin is rounded, and juts somewhat, though not excessively so, and it dimples when I laugh. My nose is unremarkable, except that it is just a bit asymmetrical sitting a tiny bit closer to my right eye than my left. There is nothing unusual about my ears, at least not that I have noticed. But the aforementioned young lady seemed to be fascinated with them and constantly referred to them as “cute.” My eyebrows are somewhat darker than my hair and full, but not bushy. My lashes are short and darker still.

The most remarkable feature of my face; and one that people notice immediately is my eyes. They are almond shaped, wide and disappear into a squint when I laugh. They are a dark blue and somewhat mysterious. Normally bright, friendly and inviting, they can also become steely, dark and cold when I want them to. They are extremely useful in controlling people’s reaction to me.

I am also extraordinarily endowed sexually which is in harmony with my dexterity and skill in that area; and in keeping with my incredible drives. The photo does not reveal this quality so the reader will have to use his imagination. However the findings can be easily concluded from observation of the rest of my physique.

As to my personality, I tend to be dominant and emotionally neutral. I seem to lack any strong emotions, such as love or hate and respond only to physical pain or pleasure. I cannot be embarrassed, humiliated, angry or depressed. But I can be curious, suspicious, excited, pleased or disappointed. I am uncertain if I can be lonely. It may be that I only dislike a prolonged lack of physical contact. My actions are controlled by my desires and expediency, not by morals or principles. However, I do treat people with some degree of respect, strive to be polite and show good manners in public as long as they respect me. However those who do not will find me to be a formidable opponent.

My goals at ECCU are simple and straightforward. They are two goals of equal value to me.

(1) I want to finish my course in Religious Studies and go on to the Seminary at the university. Being raised in a Christian home I have always had a desire to become a pastor. I believe the mental and emotional characteristics listed above show I have an aptitude for the profession and that I can do well.

(2) I want to have sexual intercourse with as many girls as possible before I graduate. (Editor’s Note: It would be at least a year before he would discover he was bisexual) I believe my physical attributes and desire to dominate make that a logical objective. My charismatic ability to manipulate and lack of principles or moral restraint make it inevitable. Since I cannot love anyone, I believe the next viable alternative is to make love to everyone. I have already taken the first step to accomplishing this. It of course will be a real challenge with new freshmen girls enrolling each year.

I know that the final issue to be covered here was to identify a person, living or dead, who this profile is most like or who I identify with. I have spent considerable time on this question and must confess to complete failure. I do not believe there is now, nor has there ever been anyone like me. I doubt that there will ever be again.

Arlen Graber
English Composition 101
Dr. Roberta “Cupcake” Wilson
September 29, 1973

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