Prayers of Elvis, Madeleine Wison Shalom
Publishing, USA, 2002, Softcover, 31 pages, Illustrated,
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.