Sunday, October 16, 2011

Gotchyaa, Steven Stiles

This is one of the neatest books I have read about the con artist of today. The cover art is menacing and a little evil looking - but then aren't wolves by their very depiction in the bible just that. In fact to slip into the fold of the sheep of the church they have to assume the mannerism and characteristics (clothing) of sheep to pull of their scheme.

The terrible thing is that I could relate totally to this book. In fact in my first year as a Pastor's wife I was conned big time - and took my share of ribbing afterward. New to the community I was out with my 2 little ones when approached by a couple. They presented a sad, but believable story. I handed them money then told them where our church was and that we had an operational clothing closet and food pantry. As well as facilities for showering and cleaning up. They took me up on this offer and were at the church before I made it back across town. Much to the dismay of my husband and the youth minister they were there to "help" these people find clothing and then left to clean the showers after they left (with masks to cover their noses and lysol to cover the stench left behind and gloves to pick up the nasty clothes they had left piled in a heap instead of placing in the trash). That night the Fire Chief - a member of our church heard the retelling of the story and began to laugh uncontrollably. When asked what he was laughing at he replied with tears rolling down his eyes, "You did not just get played by them did you? They live just up the road - it's all a con. Their kids go to the elementary school at the corner! They've been at this for a while." what do you do with that? You learn. This book is a practical look at the con artist of America. I appreciate deeply that this author took such time to expose in great detail the thought process and common cons. I also appreciated the self-evaluation questions, scriptures, and other questions at the end of each chapter. In no way does this book say not to help others. However, it does give a church and people the necessary basis to help avoid being conned or becoming the "mark".

As I read this many things came to mind including some that have visited our very own church. While concluding this book I was sharing some of the information with my husband. Today a lady showed up sporting a story that so closely resembled one in the book that my husband gently told the lady - "there is an application process that requires photo id and and check with the local police station. Our office is open Monday through Friday feel free to come to the church and fill out the paperwork then." We do not give hand-outs from the parsonage. The woman left without too much else to say. Needless to say this book has given us new perspective on how we offer benevolence and how often and to whom and how much.

I recommend this book to anyone. Especially believers as they seem to be a favorite "mark" of the con.

Thanks to the author for this free review copy.

1 comment:

  1. It is so sad that it has to be this way. I and husband were conned alot in ministry I am going to add this on Good reads to read.