Prayers of Elvis: A Worthy Addition to the Elvis Library

Prayers of Elvis, Madeleine Wison Shalom Publishing, USA, 2002, Softcover, 31 pages, Illustrated, ISBN: 0954323009

Religion and the search for meaning was a very important aspect of Elvis's life and an area most biographers give only cursory attention to. Madeleine Wilson rectifies this in her involving, slim-line release. It may only have 31 pages but it is a detailed, insightful and reflective examination of how the values and teachings that Elvis was brought up on influenced him throughout his life.

There are many revelations in Prayers of Elvis. For instance, the great pain felt by Elvis and Vernon on the death of Gladys is well documented. Madeleine Wilson, however, offers greater insight to what was going on inside Elvis' mind at the time. In reference to Gladys's gravestone, she writes:

'The inscription says "NOT MINE BUT THY WILL BE DONE". Elvis would have been very familiar with this scripture, as it is what Jesus prays in the garden of Getesmane, the night before his crucifixion. Jesus knew what was going to happen to him and was struggling with the contemplation of the pain, both physical and spiritual, which he would endure."

As Ms Wilson explains, the scripture is also about free will and choosing to submit to God's will. She perceptively suggests that perhaps 'Elvis identified with this situation of choosing to agree with God'.

In writing her book, Ms Wilson has drawn on contributions from many people who were close to or grew up with Elvis. Some of the names are familiar like Kathy Westmoreland, Gordon Stoker, Bill Burk and Dixie Locke, while others don't strike an immediate chord: Rex and Caroline Dyson, Becky Martin, Sherman Andrus and Debbie White. All contributors offer something of value that adds to our appreciation of Elvis' spiritual motivation.

The author has an honest, straightforward writing style. As a result, Prayers Of Elvis is a highly readable examination of the strong spiritual motivation within Elvis. Her book takes the reader on a journey into the churches and minds of the Presley family. From the Assembly of God church in Tupelo to the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ on 7th Street in Memphis, the significance of 'healing prayers' and 'speaking in tongues' and Elvis' early musical influences and development, there is a substantial amount of territory covered. The text is 'factually' grounded and offers a fresh perspective missing from most other biographies.

Also addressed in Prayers Of Elvis is the issue of fans who "worship" Elvis in an open way using iconic symbols such as statues and prayers. Are they really that different to most fans? Ms Wilson has a most interesting answer.

Those of us challenged by the meaning of life and who question why things are will appreciate Ms Wilson's epilogue where she examines the question, why Elvis? She presents an intriquing theory likening Elvis to the Biblical character, Samson replete with elements of conviction to God, exceptional strength, moral weakness, mocking and greater achievement through death.

Verdict: Much needed and absorbing insight into the strong spiritual motivation influencing Elvis throughout his life. Ms Wilson opens the door to an area not properly understood…until now. Recommended

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