Obbie, Mark. “God’s Nobodies: Misguided Faith and Murder in the Life of One American Family” ADS, 2013.
Tragedy to Tragedy
Tim Ginocchetti’s father died a hero’s death fighting a fire and four years later Tim was in prison for having killed his mother, Pam. This is the story of a gay teen who was bullied….by his mother. He killed her in a momentary but irreversible explosion of rage. The author, Mark Obbie, shows us how a meek young man became a murderer, a young man whose only refuge was a childlike fantasy world of his own imagination. His family blindly was obedient to their minister who turned Pam Ginocchetti against her son, and then by turning the rest of Tim’s family against his loving grandmother, the one person brave enough to take a stand for forgiveness and truth after Pam’s death. This is a story that teaches “profound lessons about tolerance and the human spirit’s yearning for independence.”
Brother Frank Giuliano was the minister and his style was uncompromising and intimidating. Because of him families broke apart and romantic relationships were destroyed. He claimed to have “visions” and “direct knowledge of God’s will”.
It is true that Brother Frank was considered the congregation’s “direct connect to God” and all of the members of his congregation who had life decisions went through Brother Frank. Many were so brainwashed that they believed whatever he said and houses, careers, schooling and even the fate of genuine relationships went through him for approval.
Tim Ginocchetti was shunned because he was gay and for having a voice that was too high. It might seem hard to believe this in this day and age but their mothers who disown their children because of sexuality. We have heard many stories about abuse in the Catholic Church but here we have a small, independent Pentecostal Church, led by the cult-like Brother Frank, who rules his congregation with an iron fist. Though there’s no sexual abuse in Mark Obbie’s account, there is plenty of psychological abuse, dogmatism, and authoritarianism. It’s the story of how Tim Ginocchetti, a meek teenage boy who frequently struggled just to literally have his voice heard, murdered his mother Pam after a lifetime of controlling parenting. The fact that Tim came out as gay certainly did not endear him anymore to the congregation after the crime. Brother Frank has denied that he or his cultish behavior were implicated in Pam’s mental problems, but author Obbie presents evidence that they clearly were. He also knows how to write a good story and he does so here with detail and character development.
This is a very sad, well-researched story about a young man who murdered his mother and the influence of the church on the family’s relationships. The author creates a lot of empathy for the son and his grandmother, while not excusing or diminishing the son’s horrific actions. We can only hope that the son receives the mental health help he needs while incarcerated.