gall and gumption

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Thank You, Jesus

...for these clowns. I don't get to laugh at the news nearly enough these days.

Richard Roberts [son of Oral - ed.] is accused of illegal involvement in a local political campaign and lavish spending at donors' expense, including numerous home remodelling projects, use of the university jet for his daughter's senior trip to the Bahamas, and a red Mercedes convertible and a Lexus SUV for his wife, Lindsay.

She is accused of dropping tens of thousands of dollars on clothes, awarding nonacademic scholarships to friends of her children and sending scores of text messages on university-issued cell phones to people described in the lawsuit as "underage males."


Colleagues fear for the reputation of the university...

Now here are two things I didn't know Oral Roberts University had -- a private jet and a reputation to lose.

Let me pause for a minute and quote Mark Twain.

First, as to its literary style. Our negroes in America have several
ways of entertaining themselves which are not found among the whites
anywhere. Among these inventions of theirs is one which is particularly
popular with them. It is a competition in elegant deportment. They hire
a hall and bank the spectators' seats in rising tiers along the two
sides, leaving all the middle stretch of the floor free. A cake is
provided as a prize for the winner in the competition, and a bench of
experts in deportment is appointed to award it. Sometimes there are as
many as fifty contestants, male and female, and five hundred spectators.
One at a time the contestants enter, clothed regardless of expense in
what each considers the perfection of style and taste, and walk down the
vacant central space and back again with that multitude of critical eyes
on them. All that the competitor knows of fine airs and graces he throws
into his carriage, all that he knows of seductive expression he
throws into his countenance. He may use all the helps he can devise:
watch-chain to twirl with his fingers, cane to do graceful things with,
snowy handkerchief to flourish and get artful effects out of, shiny new
stovepipe hat to assist in his courtly bows; and the colored lady may
have a fan to work up her effects with, and smile over and blush behind,
and she may add other helps, according to her judgment. When the review
by individual detail is over, a grand review of all the contestants in
procession follows, with all the airs and graces and all the bowings and
smirkings on exhibition at once, and this enables the bench of
experts to make the necessary comparisons and arrive at a verdict. The
successful competitor gets the prize which I have before mentioned, and
an abundance of applause and envy along with it. The negroes have a
name for this grave deportment-tournament; a name taken from the prize
contended for. They call it a Cakewalk.

What I wouldn't give to have witnessed a genuine cakewalk! Now, if I want to see a good parody of high-class white people, all I get is this sort of monkeyshines:

– Mrs. Roberts – who is a member of the board of regents and is referred to as ORU's "first lady" on the university's website – frequently had cell-phone bills of more than $800 per month, with hundreds of text messages sent between 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. to ``underage males who had been provided phones at university expense."

– The university jet was used to take one daughter and several friends on a senior trip to Orlando, Fla., and the Bahamas. The $29,411 trip was billed to the ministry as an "evangelistic function of the president."

– Mrs. Roberts spent more than $39,000 at one Chico's clothing store alone in less than a year and had other accounts in Texas and California. She also repeatedly said, "As long as I wear it once on TV, we can charge it off." The document cites inconsistencies in clothing purchases and actual usage on TV.

– Mrs. Roberts was given a white Lexus SUV and a red Mercedes convertible by ministry donors.

– University and ministry employees are regularly summoned to the Roberts' home to do the daughters' homework.

– The university and ministry maintain a stable of horses for exclusive use by the Roberts' children.

– The Roberts' home has been remodelled 11 times in the past 14 years.

Nothing says "too much money and not enough sense" like SRS -- Serial Remodeling Syndrome. It is such an expensive way of acquiring subjects for conversation. Whatever happened to going to Europe to become more socially interesting? Where did the conviction arise that what you had to do to become a social adept was remodel your house? Heck, it would be easy enough to fly there -- that's why God gave these bottom-feeding hucksters a jet.

Let this put to rest the theory that has been kicking around ever since Dallas that bad people are more interesting than good people. I promise you that anybody with all these "internal contradictions" to hide is very dull, very dull indeed. Oh, yes, they need their day in court but even if they escape prosecution you don't need a judge and jury to tell you these are awful people, do you? You know that if the money had been good enough they'd be the barkers outside of titty shows. Which would at least be honest work since a paying client will get a glimpse at actual tits.

Oral Roberts, God's very own extortionist, is the granddaddy of TV preachers. We can thank him for Jim and Tammmy Bakker (though I had a soft spot for Tammy), Benny Hinn, Pat Robertson (God's very own failed blood diamond dealer and diet shake peddler), the Power Team (mendacious meatheads who rip telephone books in half for Jesus) the Paul and Jan Crouch horror show and legions of low-rent imitators.

Over the years as I clicked through the TV channels, pausing to marvel at the horrors of this stuff, I noticed that Paul and Jan especially were into remodelling. Their set went from a fairly ordinary TV living room sort of arrangement to this mad gilt-and-stained-glass extravaganza, Gift Shop Extreme, if you will, that would have made Liberace wince. They've done a fair amount of work on themselves too. I remember a TV comedy sketch long ago about the Farrah Fawcett-Major family in which everybody had that trademark Farrah hairdo, even the Afghan hound. It was like that. I haven't watched the Crouches for a while -- I expect they've gilded the dog, the budgie, and all the domestic help by now.

You know, they just sit there and ramble on all day. Sooner or later they talk about remodeling, or something cute their grandkids said, and you realize that part of this "ministry" that they do, this hooking and crooking of the unsuspecting into the flock, is to present an image of domestic life. You gibber away about trivialities and Jesus and every year God gives you a bigger, newer, more elaborate wig. And, heck, the $25 they get from some poor soul out in Bumfuck, KS won't do much to help that soul improve her own lifestyle -- she might as well give it to these rich Christians who will know what to do with it.

The Gospel of Something for Nothing has an interesting corollary. The Gospel: Send these geezers some money and they get something for nothing, which proves that it works. The Corollary: Meanwhile they are busy teaching you that the nothing you get is a priceless something. I certainly hope that the next time someone breaks into my house and robs me he leaves behind some sort of Prayer Medallion or a sticker that Pat Robertson has prayed over or a bottle of Special Righteous Jesus Tap Water.

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At 11:19 PM, Blogger L7 said...

I would just like to thank you for ruining yet another of my garments, as I snorted wine out my nose when I read "underage males." Formerly white shirt. Don't worry, though, because I am counting on the blood of Jesus to wash it white as snow.


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