prosperity gospel

Not What We Mean When We Say Foreign Service

#trumpswindle | #WhatTheyVotedFor

A protester holds a photo of journalist Jamal Khashhoggi, later acknowledged to have been slain by the Saudi government. (Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo)

Annieli, at Daily Kos, writes:

Those who wonder why we should care about Khashoggi’s death should ask whether we want an autocratic thug to be directing US foreign policy? Why is America’s president covering up a brutal extra-territorial murder? All this whabboutery serves MBS. Is that what we want?

And this is an important question: All of President Trump’s equivocation and excuses serve foreign interests.Remember that Donald Trump still thinks he is doing business, and this is reflected in conservative language; among Republican excuses for the President’s behavior, Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), often seen as a critic of the administration, mewled and rolled over:

A key consideration in the administration’s mind, according to Republican Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.), is the belief that the crown prince can salvage Kushner’s stalled peace plan between Israelis and Palestinians. “A lot of the Middle East peace plan is based upon their support. They feel like they have a lot of equity there,” Corker said.

(Dawsey, Hudson, and Gearan)

“Equity” is a curious word. Certes, the Trump family has invested tremendous “political capital”. There are a handful of Congressional Republicans willing to speak against President Trump, and the general criticism runs that tweeting disapproval is pretty much all they do compared to their voting records. And in this moment, Mr. Corker, the retiring U.S. Senator, is lending his voice in aid and comfort to presidential pandering on behalf of foreign interests. The Washington Post goes on to explain:

Trump allies acknowledged that the White House’s equivocations would probably result in growing calls from Congress for a more credible accounting of events from Saudi Arabia, but they doubted it would damage the president politically.

Equity. This is just an investment. And if Sen. Corker, a Republican, wishes to be seen in opposition to President Trump, “equity” is the wrong word. Consider an actual Trump ally, such as evangelical preacher Pat Robertson:

“We’ve got to cool the rhetoric,” Robertson said. “Calls for sanctions and calls for punitive actions against the Saudis is ill-advised … You’ve got a hundred billion dollars worth of arms sales—which is, you know, that’s one of those things—but more than that, we’ve got to have some Arab allies. We have to have it! We cannot alienate a biggest player in the Middle East who is a bulwark against Iran.”When Robertson’s co-host Wendy Griffith argued that we cannot have governments killing critical journalists with impunity, Robertson dismissed those concerns.”We’ve had so many people killed,” he responded. “We’ve had CIA people killed in Lebanon. People have been taken hostage over the years. I know it’s bad, but we’ve had all kinds of stuff, but you don’t blow up an international alliance over one person. I mean, I’m sorry.”

(Mantyla)

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Prosperity (Devil’s Dollar Edition)

Creflo Dollar, in undated, uncredited photograph.

The thing about Sam Stringer’s report for CNN is mostly the idea of what it takes to get people to pay attention. To wit, there really isn’t anything new about the idea that this is how it goes:

Prosperity gospel pastor Creflo Dollar responded recently to critics of his campaign to buy a very pricey Gulfstream G650.

Dollar noted in a recent address to his congregants that the devil was attempting to discredit him in regards to his campaign seeking $300 from 200,000 people globally to help buy the luxury jet.

In a newly posted five-minute clip on YouTube, the Atlanta-area pastor speaks to his followers at World Changers Church International, tackling his critics and allegations about tithes, his real name and reports alleging members of having to reveal their W2 statuses to come into the church’s sanctuary.

“(The devil thinks) I got to discredit that man before he starts showing people Jesus!” Dollar preaches to loud applause.

“I’m on my sabbatical, and the enemy’s trying to discredit me,” Dollar stated.

Dollar is focused in the video on getting his point across and slams critics of his original request by stating to the people gathered, “I never one time came to you and asked you for a dime for this airplane, did I?”

But in March, Dollar did appeal in a video to “friends from around the world,” soliciting donations to replace his current 1984 Gulfstream G-1159A.

This is not some new phenomenon. Prosperity gospel is the new Calvinism, by which blessed are the wealthy and the greedy.

Christianity Today explains prosperity gospel as―

An aberrant theology that teaches God rewards faith—and hefty tithing—with financial blessings, the prosperity gospel was closely associated with prominent 1980s televangelists Jimmy Swaggart and Jim and Tammy Bakker, and is part and parcel of many of today’s charismatic movements in the Global South. Orthodox Christians wary of prosperity doctrine found a friend in Senator Chuck Grassley, who in 2008 began a thorough vetting of the tax-exempt status of six prominent “health and wealth” leaders, including Kenneth Copeland, Bishop Eddie Long, and Paula White.

Cathleen Falsani, explaining “The Worst Ideas of the Decade” for the Washington Post several years ago, called prosperity gospel―

an insipid heresy whose popularity among American Christians has boomed in recent years, teaches that God blesses those God favors most with material wealth.

The ministries of three televangelists commonly viewed as founders of the prosperity gospel movement – Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland and Frederick K.C. Price – took hold in the 1970s and 1980s. One of the oldest and best-known proponents of prosperity theology, Oral Roberts – the television faith-healer who in 1987 told his flock that God would call him home if he didn’t raise $8 million in a matter of weeks – died at 91 last week.

But the past decade has seen this pernicious doctrine proliferate in more mainstream circles. Joel Osteen, the 46-year-old head of Lakewood Church in Houston, has a TV ministry that reaches more than 7 million viewers, and his 2004 book “Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential,” has sold millions of copies. “God wants us to prosper financially, to have plenty of money, to fulfill the destiny He has laid out for us,” Osteen wrote in a 2005 letter to his flock.

As crass as that may sound, Osteen’s version of the prosperity gospel is more gentle (and decidedly less sweaty) than those preached by such co-religionists as Benny Hinn, T.D. Jakes and the appropriately named Creflo Dollar.

Few theological ideas ring more dissonant with the harmony of orthodox Christianity than a focus on storing up treasures on Earth as a primary goal of faithful living. The gospel of prosperity turns Christianity into a vapid bless-me club, with a doctrine that amounts to little more than spiritual magical thinking: If you pray the right way, God will make you rich.

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The Burning Question

"And, er, they are tight.  I mean tight all the way down to the ankles.  And that is not modest, brothers.  No.  It's not appropriate.  It's not sound of mind.  And I was proud of the circuit overseer, who told me this past summer at one of the international conventions—'cause he brought it up—one of these fellas shows up for his circuit overseer visit, and he wants to go out in the ministry, work with him door to door, and he's wearing tight pants." (Anthony Morris III/Kingdom Hall)

One of the challenges facing the blogosphere is its localization. While the democratizing of the internet does mean that any idiot anywhere with an internet conection can now have a soapboxα, there is also the possibility that nobody who happens to live anywhere else has a clue what you mean. Who else is going to understand the Mudhoney bit with socks and toasters, or why the Soundgarden video with the spoons is so damn hilarious?

Okay, plenty, I suppose. It just requires careful watching. Of music videos.

Okay, better example: Who the hell else understands David Schmader?β

I ain't gay no more! I'm delivered!To the other, it is not so cryptic to wonder at the sight of that guy wearing that jacket with that shirt, and that tie and silk square announcing, “I’m not gay no more. I am delivered!”

Which, you know … right. Good for you, dude. Go into business. Jesus the Carpenter would make a killing on closet doors.

Oh, right. Sorry, wrong theology. I’m thinking of Prosperity Gospel, not the Good News of Self-Hatred.

Actually … er .. right. Never mind.

But what, you might ask yourself, is the purpose of such a ranting blog post? Well, to the one, in Slog terms, it’s an entertainment thing. The Stranger and its readers seem to enjoy morbid comedy, and, well, inasmuch as queerness just radiates from the clip, even down to the preacher’s attempt to stir revivalist flames while maintaining a dignified, wooden appearance, ranges between queer and downright f’d up. That is, there comes a point where you look at the little pink glans ring on the microphone as the young man comes in(to) the closet ....

Oh, Jesus. Lord help us.

Look, Freudian fallacies (and phalluses) pass for comedy vérité of the highest order around here.γ But it is true; there are fewer places in human society that understand The Stranger in general, or David Schmader in particular, than, say, Calvinism.

But this is where the fun really begins, because after the chuckle comes the scary part.

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A String of Obvious Questions

Detail of framegrab from FLCL episode 2, 'Firestarter'.

File under Stupid:

Green River Community College went into lockdown Monday morning after a threat was made against the school, Auburn police said.

Cmdr. Steve Stocker of the Auburn police said an unknown person made the threat to a faculty member at about 10:15 a.m., saying something to the effect that there was going to be a shooting.

(KOMO News)

Perhaps a number of factors are coincidental. We do, in our society, have a problem with misogyny that reached a dramatic height at GeekGirlCon earlier this month, when someone issued a bomb threat against the convention; apparently the mixing of females and technology is a mortal offense? And the deadly violence at Marysville-Pilchuck High School seems, ostensibly, to have been about a girl.

But we don’t really know what pushed the GRCC terror threat, and that is important to note.

Yes, we need to address misogyny, but there are also a number of other factors to consider.

The thing is that each part of the issue has a way of spilling over its banks and soaking the others. This sort of overlap causes confusion for many people; indeed, we at This Is have a good friend who is bright and rational and all of those nice things we appreciate about people, but he is by nature incapable of comprehending what guns have to do with anything.

Not that we need to campaign against guns, specifically, but it does make some sort of point to acknowledge that there are people in this world who wonder what guns have to do with mass murder by firearm. It happens. To wit, he says, “Don’t make new laws, enforce the ones we have!” But there are some laws he believes exist everywhere despite observable reality.

And, you know, it might be kind of a low blow, but he also wonders why anyone would ever prosecute someone who negligently shot his own son to death with a handgun he was prohibited by law from carrying. And while that tragedy out of Pennsylvania has seemingly little to do with what has been going on around the Seattle area of late, there is also more there than it seems.

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