Paula White, evangelical advisor

They’ll say anything that sounds good to exploit you.

Paula WhiteI had heard the name, Paula White. I knew she was djt’s “spiritual advisor” of some sort. As it turns out, she is chair of the evangelical advisory board for the regime. She delivered the invocation at his inauguration, becoming the first woman ever to do so.

“In November 2019, Trump appointed her special advisor to the Faith and Opportunity Initiative at the Office of Public Liaison.” I had frankly forgotten about her until her prayer for the outcome of the 2020 election went viral. “Angels are being dispatched from Africa right now,” she said. (Wha?) But who the heck IS she?

From her  Wikipedia page, I learned that from “2014 until May 2019, she was senior pastor of New Destiny Christian Center, in Apopka, Florida, a non-denominational, multicultural megachurch.” Naturally. The thrice-married pastor has had some financial difficulties with her previous church, which you can read about.

God and mammon

John Fea describes her. “White’s life is a classic rags-to-riches story filled with hardship, struggle, and eventual victory (and wealth), stemming from faith in Christ and positive thinking. She often describes herself as a ‘messed-up Mississippi girl’ who God saved from an early life of sexual and psychological abuse, poverty, and single motherhood. She is not shy about sharing negative stories from her past because she believes her biography is a testament to how God can help ordinary people live the American dream.”

Is THAT what God wants? “She hawks dietary supplements, teachers her followers how to lose weight (repent and stop eating sugar), and offers beauty tips… White ‘reinvented her image with extensive plastic surgery, modish hairstyles, perfectly manicured nails, chic silk suits, fitted dresses, and a leaner size 4 figure…'”

Paula White has been a life coach to people such as Michael Jackson, Gary Sheffield, and Darryl Strawberry, and the personal pastor to the latter, “starting in 2003 following his release from prison on charges of cocaine possession.”

The connection

“White’s biggest star-caliber fan is Donald Trump. In 2002, Trump, who had apparently seen White on television…” Well, naturally. He “reached out to the popular prosperity preacher and invited her to a meeting at Trump Tower… Following that meeting, they remained friends, and Trump began to take White with him on Atlantic City excursions, where she would conduct Bible studies and prayer meetings with the celebrities who visited the casinos.”

Of course, the prosperity gospel. More on that momentarily.

“At some point in their ongoing relationship, White claimed that Trump had a born-again experience… She said that she was ‘one hundred percent’ sure that he ‘confesses Jesus Christ as Lord.'” She also insists “1,000 percent” that he is “not a racist,” as she told journalists in 2017, at the Religion News Association annual conference in Nashville.”

Now the prosperity gospel “is a religious belief among some Protestant Christians that financial blessing and physical well-being are always the will of God for them, and that faith, positive speech, and donations to religious causes will increase one’s material wealth.

“Prosperity theology has been criticized by leaders from various Christian denominations, including within the Pentecostal and charismatic movements, who maintain that it is irresponsible, promotes idolatry, and is contrary to scripture.” Contrary to scripture: I’m in THAT camp.

The rap song

And so, I discovered, is a rapper and Christian pastor  Shai Linne. He namechecks, among others, Paula White, her spiritual mentor T.D. Jakes, Kenneth Copeland, and Joel Osteen, who I’ve written about, in a 2013 song called “Fal$e Teacher$”. You can hear it here or here or here. Read the lyrics here.

Fal$e Teacher$ quotes four pieces of scripture.

Matthew 7:16 NRSV

You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles?

Wait. What does THAT mean? So, I decided to use translations from The Message by Eugene Peterson, a favorite of my late friend Keith. I accessed it from Bible Gateway .

Matthew 7:15-20 Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity. Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other. Don’t be impressed with charisma; look for character.

Who preachers are is the main thing, not what they say. A genuine leader will never exploit your emotions or your pocketbook. These diseased trees with their bad apples are going to be chopped down and burned.

The epistles

Jude 3-4 Dear friends, I’ve dropped everything to write you about this life of salvation that we have in common. I have to write insisting—begging!—that you fight with everything you have in you for this faith entrusted to us as a gift to guard and cherish.

What has happened is that some people have infiltrated our ranks (our Scriptures warned us this would happen), who beneath their pious skin are shameless scoundrels. Their design is to replace the sheer grace of our God with sheer license—which means doing away with Jesus Christ, our one and only Master.

2 Peter 2:1-3 But there were also lying prophets among the people then, just as there will be lying religious teachers among you. They’ll smuggle in destructive divisions, pitting you against each other—biting the hand of the One who gave them a chance to have their lives back!

They’ve put themselves on a fast downhill slide to destruction, but not before they recruit a crowd of mixed-up followers who can’t tell right from wrong.

They give the way of truth a bad name. They’re only out for themselves. They’ll say anything, anything, that sounds good to exploit you. They won’t, of course, get by with it. They’ll come to a bad end, for God has never just stood by and let that kind of thing go on.

1 Timothy 6:9-10 But if it’s only money these leaders are after, they’ll self-destruct in no time. Lust for money brings trouble and nothing but trouble. Going down that path, some lose their footing in the faith completely and live to regret it bitterly ever after.

Sounds about right.

August rambling: bots botch puns

“Today I find the mask useful”

photo_deposit_2x
XKCD. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License.
I woke up from a dream earlier this month. The only thing I remember is someone saying Bots botch puns. Please leave your psychological analyses in the comments.

Could American Evangelicals Spot the Antichrist? Here Are the Biblical Predictions.

What Makes Trump an Autocrat?

Maryanne Trump Barry says He has no principles.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: US is making a mockery of the phrase a jury of your peers and Border Wall II.

Steve Bannon needs to watch The Inspectors.

Mnuchin paved way for postal service shake-up.

Trans Women Who Report Abuse in Prison Are Targets of Retaliation.

Aging memories may not be ‘worse’, just ‘different’.

CDC: Social Determinants of Health.

Harriette Cole: Have I been blind to my white friends’ true feelings?

Movies Misled the Masses. Can They Lead Us Into a More Equal Future?

Inside the Courthouse Break-In Spree That Landed Two White-Hat Hackers in Jail.

Placebos prove powerful even when people know they’re taking one.

Family of a young NYS Corrections Officer killed in a drunk-driving accident had some blunt advice for those reading his obituary.

Arthur writes about toxic positivity.

Brain waves can be used to predict future pain sensitivity.

How to Learn Everything: The MasterClass Diaries.

The American Scientists Who Saved London From Nazi Drones.

Pentagon’s UFO Group Is Officially Active, After Years of Secrecy.

The untold story of Jackie Kennedy’s wedding dress.

Countdown – the game show of spelling, math, and whoopsies.

What is SEO

What is a 2nd cousin once removed?

Chuck is fifty-seven.

Audio link, almost ten minutes of a 1959 Stan Laurel interview.

COVID-19

The Trump Pandemic: A blow-by-blow account.

“Immune to Evidence”: How Dangerous Coronavirus Conspiracies Spread. To wit:

Dangerous Oleander Extract Not a Cure, despite What He Said.

CDC Details Its Massive Mental Health Impact.

Today I find the mask useful
along with sunglasses
to hide my tear streaked face,
not wanting to scare the barista
who has enough to deal with
behind his own mask.
-Transitions” by Tammi Truax, poet laureate of Portsmouth, NH.

Mississippi School Opening Disaster.

Email Phishing Scams – Bad Actors Seeking to Take Advantage through “SBA Loan Application”.

Navajo Nation residents face coronavirus without running water.

How rocket scientists would approach planning to reopen schools.

Think it kills the centuries-old practice of sharing business cards? Think again.

COVID language.

XKCD. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License.
DNC

Joe Biden in his speech accepting the Democratic nomination for US President; Fact-checking him. (He does quite well, unlike his opponent’s Monday speech at the RNC.)

Hidden messages in Elizabeth Warren’s video.

Bernie Sanders speech, and link to others.

Now I Know

Why the Zebra Got its Stripes and The Stranger Things About a Scientific Constant and You Don’t Have To Be A Big Shot and The Turtle With Bricks for Wheels and The Aliens in the Cupboard and From Facebook to Mug Shot.

New blog

Alison Stonbely’s blog, Secrets of the Forest, looking at art and racism.

For the record

I really don’t care about Jerry Falwell Jr.’s sex life. Consenting adults and all that. What was loathsome has been his sanctimonious hypocrisy and his golden parachute.

MUSIC

Lyric Quartette by William Grant Still.

Outerspace – Zbonics and Rebecca Jade. Plus Sobrina Taylor interviews Rebecca Jade!

Pop Psalms: (What’s So Funny ’Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding – Nick Lowe.

Solace: A Mexican Serenade by Scott Joplin.

Coverville 1321: The Sparks Cover Story and This Town Ain’t Big Enough For Both Of Us – The Sparks.

K-Chuck Radio: The World of the Black MIDI.

The Curse of Ham – Buggy Jive.

Christopher Cuomo – Randy Rainbow.

Kung Fu Fighting – Carl Douglas.

DOLLY PARTON Steers Her Empire Through the Pandemic— and Keeps It Growing.

IMPOTUS and the 10 Commandments

He lies at least 23 times a day

ten commandments
From HERE 
It is an article of faith that no one knows what is truly in another person’s heart. Still, one can certainly infer certain things.

At a rally in Michigan in 2015, a Republican candidate for President “asked a crowd how many had read his own book The Art of the Deal. ‘It’s my second favorite book of all time,’ he said. ‘Do you know what my first is? The Bible!’ Nothing beats the Bible!”

“Not long after, the then-candidate was asked during an interview with Bloomberg to expound on one of his favorite chapters from his favorite book and he demurred. ‘I wouldn’t want to get into it. Because to me, that’s very personal,’ he said. “The Bible means a lot to me, but I don’t want to get into specifics.’

“Asked if he could at least choose between the New and Old Testaments, he again passed. ‘Probably equal. I think it’s just incredible.'”

So it is interesting that Robert Hendrickson, Rector, Saint Philip’s in the Hills Episcopal Church, recently noted this. “This is an awful man, waving a book he hasn’t read, in front of a church he doesn’t attend, invoking laws he doesn’t understand, against fellow Americans he sees as enemies, wielding a military he dodged serving, to protect power he gained via accepting foreign interference, exploiting fear and anger he loves to stoke, after failing to address a pandemic he was warned about, and building it all on a bed of constant lies and childish insanity.”

“A book he hasn’t read”? As someone who has read the Bible regularly, including all the way through at least thrice, I do find it odd that there isn’t something that stands out for him. The stories, such as Joseph in Egypt, or Noah and the flood, or Danel in the lion’s den. Some Jesus story or maybe the Beatitudes. How about a Psalm or two?

A few of his favorite commandments?

Did he read it, but not understand? I’m thinking about for example the 10 Commandments. “You shall have no other gods before me.” What does that mean today? “An idol is anything or anyone other than God that we allow to drive our lives.” I nominate Twitter as his god.

“You shall not make for yourself a graven image.” He has always erecting altars to himself. “His name, emblazoned on every building he builds, reminds all who see it what Donald Trump thinks of himself.”

“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.” My wife’s favorite scripture is Micah 6:8. “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” He does none of those things. And he’s a vulgarian to boot.

“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.” He demands houses of worship be opened, then goes golfing.

“Honor your father and your mother.” He reveres his father, but his mother, not so much. His “immigration ban and border security measures fly in the face of the freedom that his own mother celebrated by immigrating to the United States. He dishonors her memory when he attempts to shut down immigration, belittle and bully those who clean and cook for his hotels and withhold wages from those who perform vital work for his projects.”

And a few more…

“You shall not kill.” He famously said he could stand in the middle Of Fifth Avenue, shoot somebody, and not lose any voters. Moreover, his lawyer claimed he would not be prosecuted. Worse, though, has been his response to the environment, COVID-19, racism, plus his general corruption is killing people.

“You shall not commit adultery.” He seems pleased of his marital infidelity and blatantly sexist tendencies.

“You shall not steal.” From his phony charities to his violation of the emoluments clause, he’s always ripping off others. This goes back to when he would burn subcontractors on building contracts.

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” He lies at least 23 times a day. And ” he seems impervious to the threat of detection or harsh public opinion.”

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house, nor his wife, his man-servant, his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.” He seems to crave the power that dictators have. But he also preoccupied with Barack Obama. He wants his inaugural crowd size, his popular vote victory, and so much more.

I recommend that he actual DO the reading he claims.

The theology of physical distancing

a false witness who pours out lies

physical distancingSomeone wondered what I thought of those churches that violate physical distancing by gathering. The folks tick me off. Not only do they put the congregants at risk, they put the greater community in peril as well.

The Pentecostal preacher in Louisiana, Tony Spell, said, “The Bible teaches us to be absent from our bodies as to be present with the Lord.” “Like any zealot or like any pure religious person, death looks to them like a welcome friend. True Christians do not mind dying. They fear living in fear.”

Conversely, the rejection of social distancing is far from mainstream among religious leaders. “‘That’s dumb, unbiblical and it doesn’t make sense,’ Rick Warren, pastor of the Saddleback Church in California, said. Warren and his wife, Kay, started the Saddleback Church about 40 years ago, and it now has 30,000 Sunday congregants around the world. They have moved their ministry online.”

Yup, I’m agreeing with Rick Warren.

“‘God gave you a brain,’ Warren said. ‘And much of what God wants to do with your life, he’s not going to write in the sky. He gave you a brain, and he expects you to use the intelligence that you were given.” These other people obviously never heard the famous God Will Save Me story, which I’ve known for a half-century.

Quoting Scripture

The fine artist Mr. Brunelle cited Leviticus 14:43-45 Modern English Version (MEV) on his Facebook page:
If the disease comes again and breaks out in the house after he has taken away the stones and after he has scraped the house and after it is plastered, then the priest shall come and examine and see if the disease has spread in the house. If the disease has spread in the house, it is a persistent leprosy in the house; it is unclean. He shall break down the house, the stones and the timber, and all the plaster of the house, and he shall carry them out of the city into an unclean place.

I’m rather fond of Proverbs 6:16-19 (NIV), directed not just for those addled pastors but for certain nimrods as well:
There are six things the Lord hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
a false witness who pours out lies
and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.

The Gospel lesson

When Jesus was in the wilderness, starving and parched, this from Matthew 4:5-7 (NIV)
Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

It’s my opinion that Tony Spell and pastors of his ilk are trying to put God to the test. It is an arrogant thelogy that, as Rick Warren said, is unbiblical and makes no sense.

1 Corinthians in Handel’s Messiah

Behold, I tell you a mystery

1 Corinthians 15-55One of the few things I have added to my list of things to do is attending a weekly Bible study at my church. The group was in the midst of reading the Koran in the first part of the sessions; interesting stuff.

The second half was reading the Bible, specifically, when I started, 1 Corinthians. This is the book that contains that reading of Chapter 13 that is used so often at weddings, though the King James Version ends with “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” But the Revised Standard Version and most later translations conclude with “So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

Chapter 15 is quite familiar as well. “The center of Part III [of Handel’s Messiah] is a sequence of six movements based on a passage from Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians on the resurrection of the dead, a passage that Brahms also chose for Ein deutsches Requiem.”

As I happen to be the reader in Bible study,

it was VERY difficult NOT to break into song!

46 Since by man came death (Chorus) 1 Corinthians 15:21–22
For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

47 Behold, I tell you a mystery (Acc. B) 1 Corinthians 15:51–52 Resurrection of the dead
48 The trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be rais’d (Air B) 15:52–53
Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

49 Then shall be brought to pass (Rec. A) 1 Corinthians 15:54 Victory over death
50 O death, where is thy sting? (Duet A) 15:55–56
51 But thanks be to God (Chorus) 15:57
So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Here’s the entire Part III of Handel Messiah, including 45. I know that my Redeemer liveth (Air S) from Job 19:25–26; 52. If God be for us, who can be against us (Air S) from Romans 8:31,33–34; and 53. Worthy is the Lamb that was slain/Amen (Chorus) from Revelation 5:12–13.

LISTEN to:
Various artists
The Bach Choir & Orchestra of the Netherlands, Pieter Jan Leusink