Listener – 17/09/1994

Hopeful Christian, born Neville Barclay coopers, stood in the Christchurch District court dock in the blue jersey, shirt and trousers and tie that were the men’s uniform of the Cooperite community.  Known to his people as the voice of God, he looked as if he might be taking instructions from his superior through the oversize earphones he wore.  But, slightly deaf, he was in fact listening to Judge Graeme Noble pronouncing sentence.

The 67-year-old Cooper didn’t look like God’s representative on Earth.  Short, his remaining hair oiled back above a short back and sides, he pugnacious chin now sank into his chest, he looked like just another old colonial boy down on his luck. Hard to imagine him ruling with a rod of iron, so charismatic that he could make his followers do almost anything.  But, as with Centrepoint’s Bert Potter, there’s nothing so pathetic as a fallen guru.

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