“The seeds of my undoing as a Protestant minister may have begun with my name.”
In 1995, Duane Sinn endured a brutal media attack that would have crushed a lesser man. In this nostalgic memoir, Sinn introduces us to his great grandfather who emigrated from Germany, and all of the people who impacted his early life. He tells of his family’s struggles to survive on a Nebraska farm after the Great Depression, and how World War II changed all of their lives. He discusses his parents’ troubled relationship, the powerful effect of his grandparents’ unconditional love, his awkward sexual awakening, and early determination to follow his own path.
A PREACHER CALLED SINN opens with a country boy’s dream of leaving the farm, and his stubborn rejection of ag college at the University of Nebraska. The Korean War takes him to Hawaii where he marries his Lincoln sweetheart, finds his vocation as a minister, and returns home to raise a family. He attends college while working full time, and finally graduates from Iliff School of Theology in Denver. Along the way, he struggles with a rocky marriage, which leads to a serious flirtation and a nervous collapse.
When Duane arrives at Indiana State University as a bearded minister in the late sixties, he opens a coffee house called The Attic, and takes the campus by storm. But soon, his activism in gay rights, pro choice, desegregation, and antiwar movements casts gloomy shadows over his once proud surname. As his son struggles with homosexuality, Duane’s first marriage begins to fall apart. The Vietnam War ends, the hippie movement fades, and attendance at the student center drops off. Now, the Methodists cite his recent divorce as a reason for him to resign.
Duane’s volunteerism leads to a job with LBJ’s War on Poverty as Director of the Western Indiana Community Action Agency. Unaccustomed to the rough and tumble world of politics, Duane mistakenly hires Larry Eyler, who is later arrested as a serial killer–an association that triggers a damning newspaper editorial, and will haunt him for years. While he struggles to save the local Head Start agency from sinking under a new wave of government directives, the newspaper sets out to destroy him at last.
A PREACHER CALLED SINN will encourage others to stay strong when it looks like all is lost. It’s a coming of age story that transitions into Duane’s life as a Protestant minister who falls in and out of love, starts over more than once, yet always remains true to himself.