The Arizona Desert Lamp

Oh, the humanity! An honest interview with Brother Jed

Posted in Campus by Connor Mendenhall on 31 March 2009

Over at her own site, fellow campus blogger and Wildcat columnist Laura Donovan goes where student journalists have dared not tread since 1997: an honest interview with itinerant evangelical Jed Smock, whose springtime rants on Heritage Hill draw a both an increasingly spectacular crowd of hecklers and increasingly spectacular ire from those who would prefer to banish offensive speech. Smock’s extreme sermons may be cockpunches aimed squarely at the moderate crotch where reason and religion coexist, but after reading Laura’s article, it’s hard not to have some respect for the guy’s work ethic:

Brother Jed travels from campus to campus year-round. In the winter months, he visits Florida State University, Louisiana State University, University of Houston, University of Texas-Austin, Texam A&M, Arizona State, University of Arizona, UC-Davis, and several other western state colleges.

. Jed Smock has been preaching for 35 years, and despite the physical and emotional drains of his job, he’s in good health. Every morning, he does 35 push-ups, 50 jumping jacks, and 15 sit-ups.

“I’d like to keep this job for another 30 years, or as long as I’m able.”

Or some sympathy for his family:

In Friday’s blog, I wondered about the Jed girls’ social lives, and they’re definitely not lacking in friends or social activity. Both 17-year-old Martha and 14-year-old Priscilla . are home schooled, but they get together with a group of other home schooled students a few times a month, and they participate in a myriad of social activities.

“We organize a monopoly tournament, go skating, shopping, and have a prom, which we call an elegant evening because we dance like the women in Pride and Prejudice,” Priscilla said.

Though the girls aren’t allowed to date until they graduate high school, they get their fix for hanging out with boys.

“I have more guy friends than girl friends,” Martha shared. “When I was little, I wanted to be a boy. I climbed trees, and I’d always want to be the dad when my sisters and I played House.”

“I’m the youngest, but Martha was the oddball who got teased,” Priscilla said, giggling.

Last week, I was extremely curious as to how the Smock girls handle all the family ridicule and abuse among college students. After today, I can see that they’re completely desensitized to the negativity.

“We’re used to it, but when I was 4 years old, some guy wouldn’t stop yelling at my dad, so I kicked him. I was just a little kid, so it’s not like I was hurting him, though,” Martha said.

“Most people are nice to us. They were mean at Arizona State, but some guy spit on me here at UofA, and then ran away,” Priscilla said.

I’m no fan of the Jed message, the worst parts of which are outright abusive, but I value his visits as delightfully offensive annual challenges to the censorious. Laura’s article is a fascinating glimpse at the family life of this cantankerous charismatic–make sure you check out the whole thing.

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