The preacher known as Rev. Ike died on Tuesday. He was part of the backdrop of my childhood, one of the more prominent black preachers whose voice rang out from our radio during weekly or nightly broadcasts.I don’t remember ever seeing him on TV. My mother listened to Rev. Ike, but not because she subscribed to his philosophy of the ‘God in you’ or the gospel of prosperity. Being an old-school Christian and conservative to the core, she listened only to gather fodder to scoff at and criticize him. It didn’t matter to me back then, and aside from the fact that his surviving children and wife deserve comfort and pity at this time, his passing doesn’t really move me today. I’m not conservative enough to be offended by what he preached and I’m not part f the ‘name it, claim it’ crowd either.
What piqued my interest, though, was his full name: Frederick J. Eikerenkoetter II, which is a Dutch surname if I’ve ever heard one. Here is a photo of him that ran in The New York Times. So I did some Googling about this fallen American icon. There is also an NPR obit on the late preacher.
Sure enough, it turns out that his father was Dutch Indonesian and his mother was an African-American. His parentage, or late parentage is the main reason I’m talking about this guy. His parents divorced when he was 5 years old. Normally, I’d say it is a pity that he came from a broken home, but clearly he found a way to bounce back nicely, wouldn’t you say?