Kenneth Nally Memorial
A tragedy of our time
Once upon a time in 1988, there was a controversial court case around religion and malpractice. Nally v. Grace Community Church is a Supreme Court case about this dichotomy. In 1979, Kenneth Nally, a Eurasian American, went to his friend’s house in Burbank, California, locked himself in the closet, and shot himself in the head. He was only 24 years old.
Walter J. Nally, the father, decided to sue the church Kenneth belonged to, Grace Community Church, and took nearly a decade to get a legal answer. There are rumors that he did this legal battle out of spite, or denial around the treatment of his son. He even ordered his son to be buried at a Catholic graveyard rather than an Evangelical one, which Grace belonged to. Walter died in 2011.
Walter and Kenneth are my relatives. I am related to them, and share the same surname as they do. My father and my uncle refused to talk about Walter’s case, and went as so far to call him “a fucking nutjob.” To give some extra context, my oldest uncle hated his father, and so there is this lingering and dysfunctional “Irish Catholic” abuse among my own family. So by hearsay, it is believable that Walter, a man who was drafted in The Korean War, married an Asian woman, and raised his family under extreme Christian faith, had some guilt over his shoulders. This is why Walter became a spokesman attacking American Christianity, later realizing all of it was a cult. But was it out of this stubborn denial? I don’t know.
“…things at home are rotten. I can’t get along with my Dad. It seems like my hate for him is stronger than my love.”
And from a news report of a testimony trial,
“He recalled from his notes that Nally needed ‘regular discipleship’ for problems regarding his family, job, personal image, and dating relationships. Concerning dating, [Duane] Rea testified that Nally was having difficulty suppressing his sexual desires.”
What kind of sexual desires? That’s what fascinates me more.
Kenneth Nally is a huge inspiration in my own life. He was Eurasian, he followed the rules, he grew up in the last days of post-boomers, he had extreme anxiety and analyzed his abuse, and finally killed himself as a statement against the bourgeois narrative. In a way, Kenneth Nally is Dennis Cooper’s George Miles, an abused boy who eventually shot himself at 30 while listening to Nick Drake’s Pink Moon on vinyl. Cooper’s fascination with George is detailed in five books, and explained further in his 2021 release, I Wished. Kenneth is like George in so many ways, as he is a byproduct of the decadence, depravity, and hellish landscape of “white” middle-class America. (And I write white in paratheses because he couldn’t handle the social control over, as he was everything but that). What is left are traumatic Polaroid pictures of a young man, Kenneth, existing in a world against him, hiding his true feelings beneath the text. His real sexual desire was shame, as Cooper would argue that his homosexuality was developed through his love for George.
Mark A Weitz questions the case in his 2001 book, Clergy Malpractice in America. What is interesting, is that there are personal comments on a 2016 blog review, “The Tragic Story of Ken Nally,” attacking the book.
A user by the name of “Robert” wrote the following,
I am amazed at what you have asserted and written. Virtually none of it is true. Basic facts of the case you got right. But outside of that, virtually nothing you assert is correct or factual.
I knew Ken Nally. Before Ken dated the woman he wanted to marry and proposed to, I dated her for almost 2 years. “Kate” and I remained great friends for years.
Ken and I spent a lot of time together. He was loved as a brother. Many tried to help Ken. He was bound and determined to commit suicide … Looking back at the situation. Nothing anyone could do was going to stop him. For years Kate carried the burden and guilt that it was her fault he committed suicide since she turned him down.
I saw him a few days after he got out of the hospital from when he tried to overdose and his arm was “limp”. When I asked him what happened to his arm, he lied to me and 5 others and said he had nerve damage from a fall, not from laying on it after he passed out wrongly.
I have known MacArthur for over 45 years. He continually encouraged Ken to get help. John bent over backwards for Ken as seen by the fact that he would spend hours at a time just talking with him. MacArthur got nothing from this situation. No money, no praise, nothing. He spent time with Ken because he loved Ken and was concerned for him. I knew Duane Rea, Lynn Cory, and Rich Thompson….all men who tried their best to help Ken
At some time, a person has to take responsibility for their actions. But for spending 24 hours a day in a locked room, Ken was going to kill himself. His parents were told by myself, Katie [Thayer], and others to get Ken committed. They refused. His mother in particular was adamant that Ken was not “nuts” and did not need to be in the “nut ward”. His father was cold and distant. So if they refused to have their son admitted, and Ken was just going to keep trying until he succeeded, whose fault is that? Ken’s ultimately. He used the shotgun since the pills did not work earlier.
To blame anyone but Ken for his act of suicide is simply done for an agenda. I care not what yours is. I have not seen MacArthur for 15 years. But I can tell you that no one man that I know has impacted my life as much, and been so instrumental in being an example of what it means to live a godly life more than John MacArthur. I am now 61 years of age and thank God for his impact on my life over 45 years ago.
Biblical Counseling is different for different people. I have seen people depressed for many reasons. Concussions, brain tumors, chemical imbalances, PTSD, and horrific personal experiences (such as 9/11 survivors) are just a few reasons I have seen others experience depression. I have also seen guilt be the cause of depression.
We might never know why Ken was depressed. But his act of suicide was his responsibility…. Not some “bad counseling” he might have gotten from a pastor or a church. When someone tries, at least 4 times I was aware of, to commit suicide as Ken did, there was nothing anyone could say or do to change his mind.
There is so much I could say but it is not my intent to heap scorn on Ken. He was an ill individual. And Katie was right to turn down his proposal and tell him to get his life together. It was evident that he was sick. Blaming the Church was an easy out. And one you do without ever talking to those of us who knew Ken and interacted with him as friends and classmates.
Your lack of fact-gathering is what amazed me. You compare another suicide that you admit you don’t know all the facts about and claim it is the same type of situation you don’t know all the facts about either. Poor research … Poor writing…..hidden agenda evident.”
And further, Robert writes out of his anger and hypocrisy against the blogger Stephen Parsons,
No court case will ever be taken because that is not the way John MacArthur or anyone else within Grace Church thinks. I have no ideology other than to glorify God. I simply read what you wrote and responded because I knew Ken, his girlfriend, his situation, and his family intimately and nothing you or the author wrote was factual.
Your statement that unless there has been a lawsuit against the author and publisher then what was written must be true. It simply is not worth the time, money, or effort to refute claims made in a book that no one will read anyway. They would rather spend their energy and efforts doing things that involve preaching the Gospel, making disciples, and teaching the Scriptures.
But when you do think about it, there was a lawsuit already about the facts of the case….and the California Supreme Court held that what was written in the book and what you wrote were wrong conclusions. There was no wrongdoing. No fault was found by the Court by anyone sued. That right there should tell you more than anything some author with an axe to grind has.
And if I know those involved as well as I think I do, they will leave it up to the Lord to deal with the falsehoods spread.
From what I read, neither you nor the author ever sat down and spoke to anyone who was sued or anyone who was involved with Ken personally. Certainly not me and I was about as close to Ken as anyone was and I was not anyone who was sued.
No ideologue involved. I simply read something that could not be further from the facts …. And I as an eyewitness could attest to it. And the Court concurred.”
You do realize that Ken shot himself almost 30 years ago. Long before the political atmosphere of today happened.
And the “pick” a verse that supports your position” is not how the Bible is studied or taught at Grace Church where MacArthur is. It is not a perfect church. But the Bible is taught verse by verse from a historical, contextual, literal, and grammatical interpretation. MacArthur has spent over 30 years going verse by verse through the New Testament.
MacArthur is just one of many pastors who teach. It is not a cult of personality. And I have never known anyone take a political position with regards to a candidate at Grace Church. I no longer go there, but I still appreciate and respect the ministry there and will always be grateful for the instruction in the Scriptures I received at Grace. The result was I ended up going to Talbot Seminary and getting a Master of Divinity and Master of Theology.
I recognize many use others in the name of God. That has been going on since the early days of Israel. And why special judgment is reserved for those who use and destroy the flock. Isaiah 33 – 38 describes God’s judgment on religious leadership.
But in this case of Ken Nally…..Ken is responsible for what Ken did and no one else. No mistreatment or poor counseling was going on. I was there and knew him very well. He was going to commit suicide with or without Grace Church. And is why his girlfriend broke up with him, refused his marriage proposal, and why she (and everyone else) told him he needed to be in a hospital getting help. He refused. And his parents, particularly his mother, refused to have him committed.
His parents sued to blame someone other than Ken. And to hopefully have someone else to blame than themselves in some ways since they refused to have him committed. Not to mention his parents were very strongly against evangelical Christianity. All facts are not ever mentioned in any of the blog info or the book for the most part.
Hope you don’t turn from the Lord Chris because of evil men.”
And finally, (and my favorite),
How do I know of the misuse of Scripture to evil ends?
My comments were about the Ken Nally situation. Nothing in the book comes close to what happened. I was commenting on that situation.
I was there. And I knew the situation intimately. There was no use of Scripture to abuse anyone, and especially Ken
Ken grew up in a strict Catholic family. They hated the fact that Ken made a personal decision for Christ and left the Catholic Church. His parents hated all evangelical confessions and Grace Church.
Truth gets twisted when agendas come into action. The courts found no wrongdoing. All of us who know of what happened and knew Ken do not believe anyone but Ken must be held responsible for his actions.
One thing that was not well known was that Katie came to me and shared that Ken was pressuring her to have sex outside of marriage. When she refused, he would throw a hissy fit. That was what John MacArthur discussed with him how sexual sin would cause the Lord, according to Scripture, to discipline him. I Corinthians speaks of those who dishonor the Lord’s table … how the Lord takes them. Hebrews speaks of the fact that the Lord disciplines His own. If one is not disciplined for sin, then that person has good reason to believe he is not saved. This is Scriptural. These discussions have been twisted into something that never happened
No one, save one police officer, has ever spoken to me when Ken committed suicide. No criminal or civil action has ever been judicially held against anyone, specifically Grace or any of the pastors.
I have seen God use Grace Church / John Mac for over 45 years. He is the least of anyone I have ever seen to try and use Scripture to control people or to use Scripture to enrich himself. He doesn’t have a personal plan like so many “evangelists.” He has lived in the same house for over 30 years. He doesn’t promote himself. He is one of the kindest men I have ever met. Not to mention a man who is captivated and controlled by the Scriptures. He is gentle and as humble as anyone I have known in my 61 years. I see his weaknesses as well. He is very competitive in sports. He would call fouls on anyone who was within 5 feet of him if he missed a shot. I used to tell him he was cheating when he did that. I still laugh about that at times
All that to say……we all have horrible stories of abusers and users within the “faith.” I have them. I caught my pastor, at 17 years of age, having sex with a woman in his office who was not his wife. Within 4 weeks, I was exiled by the pastor from the pulpit in an attempt to silence me. I saw abuse from those who went to Oral Roberts University. Through it all, I learned to study the Scriptures, understand the Scriptures, and stand on my own. I ended up going to seminary and got a Master of Divinity and a Master of Theology. The horrible times pushed me to learn the Scriptures and to know how God wanted me to live and be.
Ken’s situation simply confirmed to me that those who violate Scripture will be judged. And those who abuse His children will be dealt with severely as well.”
…I’ll never know exactly who this “Robert” person is. But I can say he too is coming out of spite, anger, and religious bigotry. Liberalism and libertarianism are false ideologies that are front and center of (white) boomer politics and American culture. The extreme notion one is an individual responsible for all their action is exactly any agent under the fantasy utopian pursuit of neoliberal capitalism and is tied up with blind egalitarianism and disassociating gaslighting. This is what fascinates me the most. Robert only justifies the reason why the court case was significant. Have an entire cult full of Roberts, and they abuse helpless and innocent boys by calling their actions a mere “hissy fit” they can easily shake off, and that he was “responsible” for his suicide.
This sounds like gaslighting at its finest. As if Robert was only trying to get with Katie Thayer by stopping the evil white knight, an Asian incel, who has zero games with seducing white girls. It’s all too similar to the 2014 Isla Vista killings and the blaming of Elliot Rogers, another Eurasian who was bad with the opposite sex. It applies to the agenda of the “ricecels,” a part of the infamous “r/hapa” forum, backing the liberal agenda that somehow all Eurasian men are doomed with relationships and should just kill themselves. That’s our society.
Kenneth was a star basketball player and, an A-student, and a school friend later testified that he was “very intelligent, a very personable kid… He never seemed depressed.” He graduated from UCLA and started questioning America.
“He often talked about the absurdity of life, the problems he had with women and his family, and he occasionally mentioned suicide to his friends.”
But in April 1973, Kenneth began attending Grace Community Church. John MacArthur, the pastor, was an advocate of “Biblical Counseling.” MacArthur would guilt trip his followers into an ethical play between those who are righteous, versus those who have sin. MacArthur developed a relationship with Kenneth, although it’s shrouded in controversy, and what MacArthur told him is a little cultish. There is evidence that the Grace church saw suicide as a form of sin, and there were no saving people if they acted upon a certain desire. There was a point where Kenneth believed no one loved him.
When he went to see Katie, he proposed to her. She replied,
“No, Ken. I can’t bear you when you’re like this. You’ve got to pull yourself together and put God first.”
At this point, I can’t trust her. How do I know she wasn’t seeing Robert, or that she was a “femcel” who was acting in bad faith? What kind of woman puts “God” first before a man? This itself sounds like coping. In reality, she didn’t want to admit her responsibility and was freaked out by Ken’s horrible pick-up line of getting married. If Kenneth took her out for a date, got her drunk, and said some magic words, he could have had sex with her and changed her mind. Instead, it’s a pathetic cope on the girl’s behalf that a Eurasian man, who does not follow white beauty standards, is ridiculed for asking for love. There was no “hissy fit.” And if there was a “hissy fit,” it’s justified on the man’s behalf, as women like Katie don’t know what they are doing or expressing. Katie would bear Ken if “God” was metaphorically “first” through a good impression on her.
At this point, the existential crisis should become certain. What exactly is “love” if everyone, including Walter, John, and Katie, are dumbass religious bigots and skewed low-IQ bumpkins?
Did Walter love his son? Or did he love him in another passive-aggressive type of way? What exactly is “love” if that means doing what you are told, following orders, and upholding the neoliberal paradigm of becoming a race-denying capitalist? Sounds like Boomerism to me. I do believe Walter did have some arrogant resistance on his behalf and would not accept his son for being a queer Eurasian. One cannot simply be against religion while still practicing a sect of Christianity that is hostile to everything. If one is a Christian, yet relies on Christianity as a curing antidote, the patient is living in a fantasy. Christianity is not a science or universal law. It is a subjective religion, that most of the time, goes against common sense. One shouldn’t rely on supernatural faith to cure cancer. It just doesn't work that way.
But was Kenneth ever religious to being with? Or was it a form of schizophrenia, where he could not hear the right answers anymore, and broke down when he realized he could not live under Irish Catholic retardation any longer. That’s what Walter cannot understand.
Oddly enough, my family has several old photos of Walter, his Asian wife Maria, and Kenneth.
I have this one in particular:
This is the first time I showed this picture to the public, and to further prove these are my estranged relatives. Kenneth here is a young boy.
Ken’s suicide shocked the normies at Grace church and threw a wrench into the entire system of cliff-jumping zealots. Eurasianism is not only a queer and struggling identity, it is a beautiful one that needs full expression against the state and liberal order. Those who deny the Eurasian identity, from Walter to the Church, will only find self-destruction. Kenneth was innocent this entire time. His death is a symbolic reflection of post-traumatic stress disorder, queerness, and the horror of the bourgeoisie. I can’t stand people like Robert. Kenneth is a martyr to a greater artistic cause like Robert Brasillach was to cultural fascism.
This is a memorial about Kenneth Nally. Someone who is like me in many ways. It’s a tragedy about liberalism and biracialism.
I like to think of KMFDM’s song, “Die Now-Live Later,” as a motivator.
The war against liberalism has just begun.