So come away, starting today

So come away, starting today March 23, 2019

• Famous and infamous people are often asked for their autograph, and thus are asked to sign all kinds of things that fans shove at them. Even Bibles.

But being asked to sign your name in someone’s Bible is like being asked to sign their high school yearbook. Only a complete narcissist jackwagon would sign the cover of someone’s yearbook — a complete narcissist jackwagon who was also utterly unfamiliar with the customs and practices associated with yearbooks.

Here’s what you do in the unlikely event you’re ever asked to sign someone’s Bible: 1) Open it to one of the blank or mostly blank title pages in the beginning, or to the inside of the cover; 2) Sign your name in the kind of normal-sized handwriting that normal people use; and 3) Below your name, include the reference of a verse or passage you find particularly meaningful: “Micah 6:8,” say, or just the safety default “Prov. 3:5&6.”

If you don’t know the reference of any such verse that is meaningful to you and that you hope will be meaningful to them, then signing Bibles probably isn’t something you should be doing, but in lieu of that you can always substitute some vaguely hortatory comment, like “Salvation lies within.”

• Been having trouble lately keeping all of these church-based crime stories sorted out:

The last one hasn’t gone to trial yet. It’s a different (and allegedly much larger) church-based Ponzi scheme than the church-based Ponzi scheme in the middle one. That guy — who wasn’t a pastor but bilked congregants out of more than $2 million via an ad in the bulletin of New Hope Village Church — was sentenced to five years, just like the guy in the first story, a pastor and former Morgan Stanley vice president who then ran a hedge fund out of his Delco church based on insider information he gleaned from illegal hacking.

As far as I can tell, Robert Jeffress hasn’t praised either of the first two evangelical financial advisers/felons, only the third one. Jeffress’ spokesperson assures us, however, that “Beyond appearing on Gallagher’s radio show as a guest and writing a brief endorsement for Gallagher’s book as a favor, Dr. Jeffress has no knowledge of Gallagher’s business dealings.” When Jeffress endorsed Gallagher’s book he only meant to reaffirm claims such as “Jesus was the wealthiest person who ever lived” and not the corollary bit about bilking $29 million from a bunch of Texas retirees.

• I believe in God. I believe in the possibility of miracles. I am open to the possibility of Forteana — of strange and seemingly inexplicable events because, as young Stanley Spector says in Magnolia, “This is something that happens.” I believe there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of, etc.

And yet I do not believe a single word that “seasoned prophet of God” Bobby Conner says in his bullshit story about rebuking a tornado headed for an Oklahoma church.

I have both theological and scientific objections to this story. Connor doesn’t seem to understand how either theology or science works and he presents them both as monstrously horrifying. But mainly I object to it on aesthetic grounds, because it’s just wretched storytelling. Connor is a grifter who tells tall tales then passes an offering plate. “I don’t mind a parasite, I object to a cut-rate one.” It’s not just an implausible story, but it’s implausibly told. He botches the set-up of his tale and steps on his own punchline. He doesn’t manage to make this a story anyone would want to try to believe.

I’d have more sympathy for the credulous, eager victims of guys like Connor and Bakker and Steven Strang if those grifters bothered to put a bit more effort into the craft of their scam. Their ability to fleece millions of people with carelessly assembled, half-assed lies they barely bother to make coherent should offend every con artist and Gantry wanna-be who ever put in the time to polish their shinola and sell the suckers a lie that at least seemed worth buying.

• Since we had a Gaslight Anthem song here the other day, let’s turn to another Jersey artist — another Middlesex County artist, even. This is Halsey performing “Eastside” on Saturday Night Live.

Brian Fallon of Gaslight is famous for being openly inspired and influenced by Bruce Springsteen. Ms. Frangipane is not famous for that, but she’s from Edison (same exit as me and Fallon), and here she is singing a story song that’s about the big dreams she had as a teenager and how those dreams are getting crushed now that she’s an adult with a dead-end job and bills to pay. She’s in love with a girl whose dad doesn’t like her much, but she crosses the river to meet her in the city where they ride the backstreets in a muscle car and dream of just driving away from it all and heading anywhere, maybe down to the shore. Halsey didn’t give us a name to go with the face she paints in the video above, so I’m just going to think of her as Rosalita.

 

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