Has Pat Robertson's brain
turned to scrambled eggs?
Sometimes it's hard to tell with born-again Christian TV hosts whether they're exhibiting signs of Alzheimer's disease or are just fervent in their beliefs. I mean, one can't help but note how bafflingly wacky some of the dogma is, sitting and watching them prattle on about their God's peculiar attitudes and plans for us all.
I must take a moment and admit to a lifelong addiction to watching born again Christian TV as a form of surrealist entertainment. Pat Robertson has always
been the least interesting subject, because much of the time he actually appears
to be something resembling sensible. He does have the prayer section, of course, where he declares his audience's bursitis and skin rashes have been healed.
Thank you, Jesus! My favorite was always Robert Tilton, who'd "spontaneously" talk in tongues during portions of his "Success 'N Life" shows. Loved the 'N.
His ministry was disgraced when Diane Sawyer and ABC news caught his company's workers tossing thousands of prayer requests into the dumpster before Robert had said a single prayer over them.
Watching this type of Christian television over time, it becomes perplexing to comprehend how anyone whose brains aren't scrambled eggs could promote it. Lots do, though. Christian TV is a huge money generating business, largely due
to the fact that Jesus is always just on the verge of making his comeback. Fear
of hell being a perfect motivator. He's been poised and waiting out there on the edge of the horizon for as long as I've been watching, which is several decades.
Of course, Christians have been predicting Jesus' return since around 100 AD. They predict, it doesn't happen, but they pick themselves up to predict another day, as irrepressible as Bullwinkle. "This time for sure, Rocky!" The world still waits, like Vladimir and Estragon, for the big arrival, some more breathlessly
I saw a guy on Christian TV one time, a bodybuilder for Jesus, talk about a vision he had of heaven where he was hunting deer. When asked by the Christian TV host about the specifics of the vision, the bodybuilder said, "The beautiful thing
is, the deer doesn't feel any pain, and you just yank the arrow out and the deer goes happily along its way." Whoa, I thought. A tad sadistic, wouldn't you say?
Even without pain, I'd think that there's got to be emotional stress on the deer's part from having to get shot whenever some hunter feels like it. And what about PETA people in heaven, or don't they get in?
Well, the picture I get is that everybody there will be so blissed out because
Jesus walks around and smiles and plus there's all that soft, diffused radiant
light everywhere and no job to go to etc. that you just won't care, everybody''ll
be like stoners on the perfect combined dosage of weed, Ecstacy and Oxycontin.
Now let's consider the event called the rapture. All the involved mechanics of it are nowhere to be found in the Bible, except if you interpret the symbolism of Revelations - a cryptic book written by an aged, paranoid monk in exile - very, very liberally. Old John of Patmos, author of Revelations, was actually talking about Nero, persecutor of Christians (and of John himself) when he did that whole mark of the beast and the Antichrist thing, but no matter. In the rapture, people
will be sucked up bodily into heaven, like so many plastic tubes going up mail chutes - airplane pilots will disappear and countless aircraft will go hurtling
down, containing only the bodies of the godless "not-born-agains." As far
as some dollop of compassion by the almighty wrathful One entering into the process, doctrinal restrictions apparently get in the way. I guess the reality
is, as far the big picture, everybody's hands are tied sometimes, even God's.
Which brings us back to our friend Pat. Pat's sad about what's happened in
Haiti, but theolgogically, he has to put the blame on the people of the country for bringing these troubles onto themselves. Pat's sorry to have to say that, he really is, but doctrinally, his hands are tied. Robertson recently declared that Haiti was accountable for all the troubles it's experiencing in its current situation because Haiti made an unholy pact with the devil, back when the Haitian slave rebellion, lead by Toussaint L'Overture, took control of the country from the hands of the colonialist French. Toussaint was a charismatic leader who was able to rally four million Haitian blacks, along with some mulattos and whites, into an army.
Wikipedia says this about him -
By 1795, Toussaint Louverture was widely renowned. He was revered by the blacks and appreciated by most whites and people of color for helping restore the economy of Saint-Domingue. He invited many émigré planters to return,
as he knew their management and technical expertise was needed to restore
the economy and generate revenues. He used military discipline to force former slaves to work as laborers to get the plantations running again. He believed that people were naturally flawed and that discipline was needed to prevent idleness. He no longer permitted the laborers to be whipped. They were legally free and equal, and they shared the profits of the restored plantations. Racial tensions eased because Toussaint preached reconciliation and believed that for the blacks, a majority of whom were native Africans, there were lessons to be learned from whites and people of color, among whom many men had been educated in France and often trained in the military.
The Haitian slave rebellion was in fact, a complex, brutal, horrific affair, but then, so was slavery. (Madison Smartt Bell's "All Souls Rising" is a masterful account of the rebellion, recounted as historical fiction) Coming back to Pat again, his claims
of a pact with the devil likely reference the Bwa Kayiman ceremony that took place in 1791, at the beginning of the Haitian revolution. It was part of Haitian Vodou, the native religion, which is a combination of West African beliefs and Roman Catholicism. In Vodou (voodoo, as it's commonly called - is an actual belief system and not just the dolls and pins associations found in popular culture) there is a good God, called Bondye, and lesser gods, called loa. For Haitians who believe in Vodou, their concept is that Bondye is the same God Pat Robertson prays
to, the one God, the God of Abraham. They incorporate African dance into their ceremonies for spiritual uplift, rather than hymns by Bach. In the Bwa Kayiman ceremony, a priestess started dancing around and at some point, she cut the neck of a pig and passed the blood around to the slaves, who all pledged to kill their oppressors. Not exactly an American Christian Protestant church service, no.
Well, Pat decided that because of this ceremony, Haiti has been cursed ever since, hence the poverty, hence the earthquake, hence the suffering. Shifting tectonic plates apparently are just chess pieces to Robertson's heartless vengeful God,
who lets the earthquake kill babies and schoolgirls and old ladies and innocent animals as well as Vodou believers. Unless it was the devil moving the tectonic plates, but I didn't think he was as powerful as that. Robertson's 700 Club, to
its credit, is sending aid to the victims of the earthquake in Haiti. So then my question is - Isn't that an interference in God's plans, Pat? If He wants to exhibit his wrath, shouldn't you just "not-look-back," like Lot's wife? Or if it's the curse
of the devil, why do children born 200 years later still get stuck with it, Pat?
How does that work, exactly? What happened to being born innocent in the
eyes of God? Is the curse grandfathered in, so to speak?
Letting logic briefly enter the discussion, couldn't the current miserable
conditions in Haiti have something to do with the US occupation from 1915
to 1934, which left the country in hopeless, rigged debt to the US? After which
we essentially became, for a time, slum landlords to the whole country. Or couldn't it have had to do with the corruption of the Duvalier family, the reigning dictators of Haiti from 1957 to 1986, most notably "Baby Doc" Duvalier, a madman butcher who reportedly stole $500 million from the Haitian treasury during his time there? Or couldn't it have had to do the chaotic transition to democracy, which included President Aristide being outsted in military coups twice - first in 1991, then in 2004. Looking at Haiti's historic realities, one could begin to get the idea that Robertson's understanding of the workings of cause and effect has been diffused by the radiant light of the Lord. Couldn't a century or more of political chaos and greed, government neglect and mismanagement, which caused the
poor of the country to be reduced to existing on subsistence farming and caused the infrastructure of the country to fall into shambles -couldn't a huge natural
disaster on top of that have caused those factors to combine to create the
perfect storm of misery that the country is currently experiencing?
Pat says no. Pat says it's all just on account of the evil curse. End of story amen. All they need to do is get right with the Lord, though, that's the good news. But not their God, the 700 Club God. You know, the one who looks like a bearded caucasian.
Pat says a lot of these kind of things, and listening to them, it sounds like Pat's brain could be turning into scrambled eggs. But like the Bible says, it's best
to reserve judgment - after all, Pat talks to God in heaven every day. That's where you get the real dope.