communication, family, memories, mental health, narcissists

That’s not really how I remember what happened…

Bill left for Bavaria yesterday afternoon. Before he left, he made me lunch and started the dishwasher. I swear, I have the loveliest husband. It makes me wonder if people think I’m a shrew. It seems like the best guys end up with the most complicated women. A lot of very kind, considerate men are pretty co-dependent, meaning they go to extremes to people please and not speak up for what they want or need. There was a time when my husband was a lot like that, although he’s definitely much better now. He’s been seeing some great progress in his work with a Jungian therapist, but I also do my best to reassure him that he doesn’t have to be a people pleaser to keep me in his life.

I’m not lying when I say that Bill is a very considerate guy. However, I don’t think he’s like that solely because he’s desperate to keep the relationship going. I think he knows full well I’m not going to leave him. I truly adore him, but I also know that if we ever did break up, I’d probably end up living in a cardboard box. 😉

The truth is, Bill is a very service oriented person. He genuinely enjoys taking care of people. I am the lucky recipient of his attentions, and our relationship just works. That is an amazing thing. It’s a great thing to still be able to laugh heartily with your spouse after almost twenty-one years of marriage. We really miss each other when we aren’t together.

That was the mindset I was in last night, as I tried to decide how to spend my evening. I was watching political videos on YouTube, but they were annoying and distressing me. I can barely stand to listen to Donald Trump speak, never mind the rest of the idiots who comprise today’s Republican party, even when what I’m watching is a critical video. YouTube now has so many ads to get through… it can be a very frustrating exercise to make it through any commentary video. Even the really good content providers– the ones who have scored product endorsement deals– are annoying these days. You get the YouTube ads, plus their plugs in the videos.

I ended up looking at the movies I downloaded to see if I could find one I hadn’t yet seen that would appeal. I decided to watch The Eyes of Tammy Faye (2021), which is a dramatized retelling of Tammy Faye Bakker Messner’s life story. I remember watching a documentary by the same name that came out in 2000 or so. The documentary was interesting, although I haven’t seen it recently. I remember Jen from Fundie Fridays praising the 2021 movie, which was why I downloaded it some months ago. So last night, I decided to watch the movie, which was very good and surprisingly moving. I mean, at the end, I had a lump in my throat. Tammy Faye seemed like a genuinely Christlike person. What a shame she got tangled up with Jim Bakker.

Then during the credits, Tammy Faye’s daughter, Tammy Sue, sang a song her mother had made famous. I was absolutely delighted by Tammy Sue’s voice. I’d heard her sing before, but it was when she was much younger. The song she sang for the soundtrack of The Eyes of Tammy Faye was really beautiful. And anyone who knows me, knows that I don’t issue those kinds of compliments easily.

I was feeling pretty good as the credits rolled. I noticed the time. It was about 9:30 PM. I wondered if maybe I might like to watch something else, when I got a private message from one of my sisters. She was writing to let me know that she was thinking of going to a birthday celebration for our mom next month. It’s being arranged by my other two sisters.

The day before my own birthday last month, I was invited to attend, but the notice was too short. And… well… I just don’t enjoy family gatherings much. They’re too toxic for me. The last thing I want to do is spend thousands of dollars and fly eight hours to spend several days fighting with my relatives. So, I declined the invite.

My mom later told me that she’d asked my sister to invite me, even though she knew I wouldn’t come. I have repeatedly explained to her why I don’t like our family gatherings. They usually require a few days of recovery, and often add unpleasant fight memories to the big bank of them I already have in my mind. But even if I wanted to go to Virginia, it simply isn’t feasible during the summer when I have to arrange for Noyzi to be boarded. The Hundepension books up quickly for summer dates, especially in August. We also just took a big vacation, which cost a lot and used up a lot of Bill’s leave.

Sometimes I feel sad that I don’t want to go home anymore. I do love my mom. I love my sisters, too. I just don’t want to be around them all at the same time. It always devolves into traumatic episodes. Most of the time we’re all together, and we’re alone and not, say, at a family reunion with the extended family, there’s a big fight. I haven’t had one of those in a long time. I don’t miss the fights. But I do wish we all got along better. It would be nice if we could. It’s not only up to me.

The last time I did a “reunion” with the immediate family was at Christmas 2003. I’ve written about the incident a lot. It marked a turning point for me, and what I’m willing to tolerate, now that I’m an adult and have the freedom to opt out of the drama. The short version of the story is, my sister– the one who messaged me last night– asked Bill and me to give her a ride to our parents’ house. I reluctantly agreed, but I told her ahead of time that if there was a fight– no matter who started it– we would be leaving. If she was okay with that, we would give her a ride. She agreed.

We went down to Gloucester, and sure enough, there was a fight. It involved me and another sister, who criticized me for talking about Ex. I had only been married for a year at that point, and I was still shocked and amazed by how incredibly toxic Ex is. So I was talking about it, and my sister proceeded to sanctimoniously lecture me, even going as far as to tell me about how important it was to “be a good Christian” and forgive Ex (as if I really care about that). Naturally, that really pissed me off, because I thought it was mean, discounting, and disrespectful.

Bill and I were also relegated to a very uncomfortable pull out couch in the “office” in my parents’ former home (a converted garage). I had started my period, and was feeling yucky, and now I was angry with my sister for chastising me. I decided that I just wanted to go home.

The sister who had gotten a ride with us had other plans. She wanted us to take her to Williamsburg, where there are lots of outlet stores and restaurants, and drive her around all day. Bill and I had no extra money for shopping at that time, so we couldn’t shop with her. Also, having spent plenty of shopping days with my sister, I knew the day would involve watching her put salespeople through their paces, until she either ran out of energy or money. I wanted no part of that, so I reiterated that we were going to go home the next day.

She then immediately tried to talk Bill into changing my mind, which he wouldn’t have been able to do even if he’d actually wanted to do that. It occurs to me that it’s another level of disrespectful for my sister to actually think my husband would listen to her over me. He shares a bed with me! She must have a pretty low opinion of me to assume Bill would want to please her over his own wife.

The next morning, my sister was still in bed as we were loading up the car. I told her we were going to go. She proceeded to throw a HUGE tantrum. She was screaming at me like a petulant child, and had the nerve to try to make demands. I remember looking at her and calmly saying, “You’re not in a position to make demands of me. It’s my car, and I want to go home.”

She started yelling about needing to dry her hair so she wouldn’t catch a cold. She stomped out of the room to get the hair dryer. I realized that waiting for that would mean she’d be in my car for several hours, angry and rude because she hadn’t gotten her way. I turned to Bill and said, “Let’s just go.” And we left. My other sister later laughed about that incident and said my temper tantruming sister had been furious that we’d left her in Gloucester. But then, apparently, she’d said something indicating that she was impressed that I had a backbone.

At first, I was really upset about leaving my sister. But then, after about a half hour or so, I calmed down and realized that what had just happened was another major victory for me in the fight against being abused and manipulated by my family members. We got home without incident and had a much better time in our own space, and in our own bed. My sister resumed speaking to me about a year later.

The following year, when Ex tried to manipulate me into agreeing to spend Christmas with her at my father-in-law’s house, I had the strength to say no. It was because of what had happened the year prior. I realized that I didn’t even want to spend the holidays with my own family members. There was no way in HELL I was spending it with my husband’s ex wife in my in-laws’ house. And although there was tremendous pressure to surrender to Ex’s delusions, I found the nerve to do what I wanted to do– stay home… which turned out to be the right thing to do. I can pretty much promise that if I had attended that Christmas with Ex, it would not have gone well. And it’s not because I wouldn’t have tried to be civil, but because she’s a narcissist who has to have everything her way.

Back around 2015, I was thinking about this chain of events while chatting with my sister. I thought she might be mature enough to talk about it. I even tried to frame that incident in a positive way. Ultimately, what happened at my parents’ house in 2003 was a good thing, because I finally stood up to people who had manipulated me my whole life, and left me nursing deep psychological wounds. Because I did that, I had the strength and wisdom not to give in to Ex’s crazy demands.

It was a monumental decision for me to refuse to attend that Christmas with Ex. That decision might have even been instrumental in making sure my marriage to Bill would be successful. Because if I had given in to Ex and attended that Christmas, there might have been a huge fight… or, even if it had gone “well”, she would have have a precedent to suggest doing it again. The definition of the gathering’s “going well” would have entailed my keeping my mouth shut the whole time while Ex made disrespectful comments to Bill and me, monopolized everyone’s time, and hovered over Bill’s visitation with his kids.

Who’s got the time and the money for that experience, especially since no one going to that fiasco, except Bill, even liked me? Why would I want to spend time and money, on the biggest holiday of the year, in that miserable situation? Ex is a NARCISSIST, and her aim is to control everyone. Those who can’t be controlled are jettisoned. My being there would just give her information and supply her with fuel. Or, it would tempt me to commit a felony. 😉

In 2015, I had wanted to explain all of this to my sister. I wanted to tell her that the fight we had in 2003 had, in a weird way, actually turned out to be constructive for me. But, when I brought it up, she got very angry… and she framed a narrative that I didn’t recognize at all. She made herself the victim of the whole thing. According to her, our other sister, who had lectured me about talking about Ex, was the one who should have been “punished”, not her.

She conveniently forgot about the HUGE tantrum she threw, complete with insults and swearing. She was entitled to speak to me that way, because it wasn’t her fault that there had been a fight between me and our sister. But I had told her from the get go that if there was a fight– and I didn’t care who started it— I would be leaving. She had agreed to those terms. And when the fight happened and I tried to enforce the terms we agreed upon, she tried to change them. When that didn’t work, she became toxic. And when I refused to acquiesce to her tantrum and left the house without her, she became pathetic. When I wanted to talk about it with her in 2015, she got mad at me for reminding her of that painful incident in which she ended up having to take a bus home. She plainly considered herself a victim. And when I told her that our other sister had said tantrum sister been “proud” of me for leaving her, tantrum sister turned that into a victim situation, too. She denied saying that, and blamed our sister for “telling lies” to me. (Um… I don’t think she lied…)

Well, last night, tantrum sister brought up that 2003 era fight again. She was ranting about our mother and our sisters, telling me outrageous stories about crazy, “toxic” things they have supposedly said and done to her over the past few years. Granted, if there is any truth to what she said, it is pretty fucked up stuff. However, experience has taught me that this sister has a very skewed view of things. She embellishes and twists and takes things out of context. And she ALWAYS makes herself out to be the aggrieved one.

Tantrum sister never mentions her part in these conflicts she has with others. In her stories, she’s always the innocent victim, being “picked on” by everyone else. Once again, she blamed our sister for being “toxic” and causing her to be punished. I didn’t bother trying to tell her that– no– she got left in Gloucester because of her decision to throw a huge tantrum when things didn’t go her way. Yes, the fight with our other sister had set up the reason why I wanted to leave early, but she had to take a bus home because of HER bad behavior and blatant and disrespectful attempts to manipulate Bill and me.

I have learned that correcting my sister’s memories isn’t a productive exercise. It will only lead to pain. I can’t change the fact that she won’t assume responsibility for her conflicts with other people. Trying to confront her over these discrepancies generally turns into a fight, and fighting with her online was the last thing I wanted to do on a Sunday night, after having just watched a good movie. So, I let her rant a bit, then told her it was getting late, and I was going to go to bed… And then I thanked God for the ocean that separates me from my sisters.

I did gently push back, though, when she started trying to tell me our mom is a narcissist, and making tentative comparisons of her behavior to Trump’s and Hitler’s. I know a thing or two about narcissists. My mom isn’t one. However… I do think that perhaps my sister could be one. She thinks she’s an empath. She’s actually said this to me and been completely serious. I know a little about empaths, too. I’m married to one. She and our mom have never gotten along. I do get along with my mom. My mom is far from perfect, but she’s not a narcissist. Sending me a birthday card with a heartfelt note in it is not an example of “love bombing”, nor do I think this is an example of our mom trying to make me into a “flying monkey”. In fact, our mom mostly tries to stay out of conflicts; she doesn’t create them.

Why am I writing about this? It’s mainly because it helps me keep the craziness straight. My sisters must think I’m stupid and the easiest target for gaslighting because I quit trying to offer my perspectives. But no, I’m not stupid… I have an excellent memory and normal intelligence, and I remember very well what happened at Christmas in 2003. We each had a part in that fight– that is, two of my sisters and me (the eldest wasn’t involved, because she was smart enough to book a hotel room).

In 2003, I should have known that I can only talk to my sisters about innocuous things like the weather (although even that topic is becoming contentious these days). My being upset about the shit Ex was pulling when Bill and I were newly married in 2003 wasn’t something my sisters wanted to hear about, and they felt quite free to tell me to STFU and demand that we sleep on an awful pull out couch for two or three nights while I bled from my private parts. That tells me that I don’t need to waste time hanging out with them. They don’t even treat me with as much respect as they might treat a friend. I don’t think any of them would choose me for a friend. And the reverse is also true. I don’t think I’d pick any of them, either.

See… I would hope for sisters who are good friends and care enough to listen to me when I have struggles, just as I would listen to them. Instead, they just want me to show up and shut up, so the whole family is together and it looks nice. When the conversation is about something they don’t want to talk about, instead of asking to change the subject in a respectful way, they resort to criticism and lecturing. Quite frankly, I don’t value their company enough to have them tell me what I can and can’t talk about, or demand that I look or behave in a certain way. So, I’ll just stay away, thank you very much.

My sister told me she doesn’t really want to go to the “birthday bash” next month. For my mom’s sake, I think it would be good if she didn’t go. But my mom would like her to be there… because in spite of what my sister thinks, our mother does love her and is proud of her. She’s hoping that, for once, there will be a nice visit with three of her daughters and the grandchildren. Maybe it will happen. Experience has taught me, though, that this “bash” may actually end in blows. Especially if there’s any booze involved. I’m glad to stay in Germany and just hear about what happened later. 😉

Oh… and by the way… it’s also not lost on me that this sister probably shit talks me, too, with our other sisters. However, I can’t control that, so I don’t really give a shit. I’m just gonna tune out.

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condescending twatbags, religion, stupid people, TV

Jim Bakker NEEDS your money or they’ll cancel his show!

I remember back in the 1980s, when televangelists were all over the news for various scandals involving sex and fleecing their flocks. Jim Bakker was, in those days, a charismatic leader of the PTL network. He, along with his ex wife, the late Tammy Faye Bakker, had a vision to create a Christian utopia in Heritage USA, a Christian theme park and housing development that never quite came to fruition.

Bakker was later busted by the feds for defrauding his followers. I clearly recall how he went into a fetal position and had to be committed for a psych evaluation while he was on trial for fraud. He was originally sentenced to 45 years in prison, but the sentence was later reduced to eight years. He was paroled on December 1, 1994, after serving almost five years in a minimum security prison in Georgia. A few years later, he met his second wife, Lori. By 2003, he and Lori were back in the televangelism game, having launched a new program, which still runs today.

You’d think people would be wise to Jim Bakker, after his very public sex scandal and fraud case in the late 1980s. But no, he’s still got a platform, and he’s still peddling shit to the gullible. I don’t make a point of keeping up with what he’s doing, although I have to admit, he’s kind of a fascinating character. Below is a very disturbing video, complete with hilarious music, that shows Jim Bakker combining talk of the apocalypse, championing Donald Trump, and selling buckets of slop that can double as toilets or furniture.

You have to see it to believe it. What a fucking charlatan!

In the 1980s, I was kind of dimly aware of what was going on, since I was a teenager at the time. I avoided religion like the plague. But I do remember that Jim Bakker wasn’t the only daring televangelist in those days. In 1987, televangelist Oral Roberts told his followers that he was going to begin an intense prayer and fasting vigil that would last until he raised $8 million for a medical scholarship program. In a letter he sent to his flock, Roberts wrote that God had ordered him to raise the money by the end of March 1987, or he would die. According to an article from the Washington Post dated February 28, 1987:

The evangelist wrote that he will ascend the Prayer Tower at Oral Roberts University to begin praying and fasting.

“If I go from there to Jesus, I will see you in heaven. But I believe that won’t happen, because I believe our God will do this mighty thing and at the end of March, you and I will know the miracle has happened and the Gospel will go to the nations,” he said.

In the end, Roberts managed to raise $9.1 million. He died on December 15, 2009. At least Oral Roberts was raising money for a decent cause, even if the way he did it was highly manipulative and controversial.

Jim Bakker, like Oral Roberts before him, is also looking to raise a lot of money. This week, he told his followers in a panicky tone of voice that his show would be canceled if he didn’t pay what he owes his network. He says that he owes about a million dollars. According to DEADState, Bakker said:

“We’ve lost millions in finances due to the legal battles we’ve fought, losing our ability to receive donations by credit cards for over a year — has left us in a desperate state… But what the Devil has tried to do is silence our voice.”

Bakker continued,

“I’m asking you as a friend and longtime supporter of this ministry, valued partners, will you help us? Turn this wolf away from our door.”

Oh dear! What will we do without Jim Bakker’s show?

Regardless of what I think of Jim Bakker and his sleazy fundraising tactics, I’ve got to admit the man has a lot of moxie. And even though I think he’s a swindler, he does have charisma and a knack for appealing to a certain segment of the population. He’s even entertaining as he pulls the wool over people’s eyes. One of the funniest parts of Vic Berger’s Best of Jim Bakker YouTube video, posted above, is when Bakker tries to convince people that the slop in the bucket is delicious. He’s definitely game for peddling bullshit, and there’s something to be said for that. A lot of fortunes have been made by people who can sell ice to Eskimos.

I think televangelists are a fascinating lot. So many of them push the prosperity gospel, selling the idea that personal wealth is a sign of God’s favor. The whole lot of these evangelists wear expensive clothes, have coiffed hair (or in the case of the late Ernest Angley, outrageous wigs), and wear jewelry. They live in fancy homes, drive pricey cars, and never flinch as they demand “love gifts” for their bogus ministries. So many people buy into the fantasy that all they have to do is pray and send money and they will somehow be “blessed”. Mark Knopfler even wrote a fabulous song about this phenomenon, which his band Dire Straits recorded in 1991…

A beautiful song by Dire Straits… but people often miss the real meaning of this song and take the lyrics seriously. This song is sarcastic, and it’s about evangelists who rip off the gullible. People think that by sending money, they’re buying a “Ticket to Heaven”.

Here are the lyrics to “Ticket to Heaven”

I can see what you’re looking to find
In the smile on my face
In my peace of mind
In my state of grace

I send what I can
To the man from the ministry
He’s a part of heaven’s plan
And he talks to me

Now I send what I can to the man
With the diamond ring
He’s a part of heaven’s plan
And he sure can sing

Now it’s all I can afford
But the Lord has sent me eternity
It’s to save the little children
In a poor country

I got my ticket to heaven
And everlasting life
I got a ride all the way to paradise
I got my ticket to heaven
And everlasting life
All the way to paradise

Now there’s nothing left for luxuries
Nothing left to pay my heating bill
But the good Lord will provide
I know he will

So send what you can
To the man with the diamond ring
They’re tuning in across the land
To hear him sing

I got my ticket to heaven
And everlasting life
Got a ride all the way to paradise
I got my ticket to heaven
And everlasting life
All the way to paradise

As far as I’m concerned, Mark Knopfler is a god. I would much sooner follow him than Jim Bakker. What’s especially funny, though, is that a lot of people think “Ticket to Heaven” is a beautiful song that is literally about going to Heaven. It’s not. It’s an indictment against people like Jim Bakker and his ilk, cheating poor, ignorant, lonely, God fearing, people out of their money. When you think about it, Jim Bakker has a lot in common with Donald Trump. In fact, he is one of Trump’s admirers.

Eeew.

I only watch televangelists to ridicule them and be mildly entertained by their antics. Sadly, a lot of people think these so-called religion peddlers can help them. It’ll be interesting to see if Jim Bakker manages to save his show from oblivion. It’s kind of inspired that Jim Bakker peddles buckets of food and shovels to prepare for the apocalypse… they make handy receptacles for all the bullshit he shovels. We really should start taxing these fake religious motherfuckers.

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book reviews, religion

Repost: Jim Bakker and his fall from grace…

I am inspired to repost this book review I wrote for Epinions.com, back in 2010, about the book Forgiven: The Rise and Fall of Jim Bakker and the PTL Ministry. The reason I’m inspired is because, today, I watched Fundie Friday’s excellent video about Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. I was reminded of this very comprehensive book by Charles E. Shepard and how much I learned about Jim and Tammy Faye’s ministry before it all fell apart in the late 1980s. I also reposted this review in 2014, so I’m going to post the whole thing as/is. At the bottom of this post, look for Fundie Friday’s video. It’s a good one!

From 2014

I was about fifteen years old when televangelists Jim Bakker and Tammy Faye Bakker ran into big trouble when they were discovered to be misusing financial “love gifts” sent by their viewers.  I never forgot seeing Jim Bakker curl up in a fetal position when he was sentenced to 45 years in prison for fraud.

In 2010, I found a fascinating book about the rise and fall of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker and the PTL  network.  I wrote a review of the book Forgiven: The Rise and Fall of Jim Bakker and the PTL Ministry.  This book is currently out of print, but if you are interested in the Bakkers in the 80s, it’s a great read.  It’s very comprehensive and informative and if you have the time and the inclination, well worth your attention.  I bet you can find used copies on Amazon, too.

And now the review, circa 2010…

A couple of weeks ago, I was on YouTube watching old videos from the 1980s, when I ran across a video of televangelist Jerry Falwell addressing members of the PTL Club.  The year was 1987 and the PTL Club was in the midst of a scandal involving its founder, Jim Bakker, and his wife, Tammy Faye.  On the YouTube video I found, Jerry Falwell was explaining to the audience about the situation that developed with Heritage USA, Jim Bakker’s overly ambitious and overextended project.  

Heritage USA was supposed to be a sort of Christian oasis, where Christians could live, work, worship, and play together.  Jim Bakker was planning to build hotels, theme parks, churches, TV studios, and restaurants.  Unfortunately, Bakker’s vision lacked proper financial planning and the whole thing ended up collapsing.  What’s more, the Charlotte Observer, a local newspaper, had discovered an unfortunate tryst Bakker had had back in 1980 with a 21 year old church secretary named Jessica Hahn.  In 1987, Jim Bakker and the PTL Club were going down in flames.  And Jerry Falwell had been called in to help salvage whatever could be saved.

The videos that prompted me to read this book in 2010.

I was 15 years old at the time of the PTL scandal.  Though I’ve always been interested in the unseemly world of televangelists, as a teenager, I didn’t really pay that much attention to what was going on with Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker.  Watching that video on YouTube and hearing Jerry Falwell get screamed at by an angry man in the PTL Club audience made me want to learn more about Jim Bakker’s story.  So off I went to Amazon.com, where I found Charles E. Shepard’s very comprehensive book, Forgiven: The Rise and Fall of Jim Bakker and the PTL Ministry

Forgiven was published in 1989 and is now out of print.  Nevertheless, I found it very interesting and well worth reading.  Shepard follows Jim Bakker’s life from his beginnings in Muskegon, Michigan all the way to his very public disgrace in the late 1980s when the world watched the collapse of his $160 million empire built on love gifts and the sale of bogus lifetime partnerships to loyal supporters of the PTL ministry.  Shepard also covers the late Tammy Faye Bakker Messner’s life, from the time she and Jim Bakker met at North Central Bible College in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to the end of the ministry, when Bakker’s shady and sordid dealings were uncovered. 

Indeed, after reading this book and seeing Tammy Faye Bakker Messner on television in the years before she died of cancer, I have some empathy for what she must have gone through during the scandal.  Aside from having an affair with Jessica Hahn, Jim Bakker also allegedly had a number of homosexual trysts with men who worked in his ministry.  All of this dirty laundry, coupled with Tammy Faye’s own problems with drug abuse and people who mocked her for her tears and heavy makeup, must have been humiliating for her.  Shepard doesn’t really give Tammy much empathy in his book and, to be fair, I probably wouldn’t have either had I written it.  Back in 1989, Tammy Faye Bakker wasn’t a very sympathetic character.  But in the years since the scandal, she revealed a very sweet, kind-hearted side of herself that wasn’t overshadowed by her ex husband’s massive ego.  I think Tammy Faye died in 2007 a redeemed woman.  

A raging narcissist   

As I read about Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s enormous salaries and bonuses, constant purchases of new cars and houses, expensive clothes and makeup, and ostentatious displays of extravagance, I couldn’t help but wonder if Jim Bakker was a narcissist.  The way Shepard describes Bakker’s behavior and the way he treated people, it sure seemed that way to me.  And lo and behold, at the end of the book, Shepard does offer the opinion that Bakker probably suffers from full blown narcissistic personality disorder.  Granted, Shepard is no mental health professional, but the signs were clearly evident to him.  He describes Bakker as a creative, charismatic person, the kind of man who needs to surround himself with loyal admirers whom he can exploit at will.  While I’m not really a mental health professional either, I have done my share of studying narcissistic behavior and I think Shepard is spot on about Jim Bakker.  Only a true narcissist could expect to get away with the blatant abuses that Bakker did for so many years.

Another reason this book was interesting to me   

I happened to grow up in Gloucester, Virginia, not at all far from Virginia Beach, Virginia, where Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network’s headquarters were located.  I grew up watching Robertson’s local Christian channel 27, WYAH. Based in Portsmouth, Virginia, WYAH happens to be the very same channel where Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker got their big break as televangelists.  Shepard includes some interesting information about Pat Robertson’s ministry as well as how his show, The 700 Club, got started with Jim’s and Tammy’s help.  I also learned how fellow televangelist Jimmy Swaggart, supposedly offended by the opulent spectacle of Bakker’s ministry, worked to bring him and the PTL down.  Having done some more reading about Swaggart and his ministry, I think he must be among the world’s biggest hypocrites.

Overall 

If you’re interested in learning more about the televangelists of the 1980s, I highly recommend Charles E. Shepard’s Forgiven: The Rise and Fall of Jim Bakker and the PTL Ministry.  This book takes an exhaustive approach to the subject, includes plenty of pictures (even one of Tammy Faye with no makeup on), and plenty of dirt. 

He took over Heritage USA with a splash…
Falwell was quite the scumbag… but I think his son may be even worse.

And this is the excellent “Bakkermania” video done by Fundie Fridays… I like that she praises Tammy Faye, who really did seem to redeem herself, while showing that Jim Bakker is just as narcissistic as ever…

Pretty much…

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language, musings, politics

“Chickenshot…”

It’s amazing how quickly things can change. Looking at memories on Facebook is a reminder of how, in just a year’s time, our focus can shift. A year ago, people were up in arms about people in cages at the southern border of the United States. I was in Sweden with Bill, and we were going to pick up our brand new Volvo. Meanwhile, we spent a couple of heavenly nights at Gothenburg’s best hotel, the Upper House.

This year, we’re contemplating a quick weekend away in Gerolstein, a place two hours from us in the next state. It’s known for its mineral water, which I used to buy when we lived in North Carolina. It’s not Sweden, but I’ve been wanting to go there for years. And now that we live somewhat close and have a good reason not to travel far, it makes sense to consider a trip there.

Anyway… this topic comes up because as I was looking at my old memories, I ran across an epic argument I had three years ago about an ad the NRA had put out that was pro Trump. As of this writing, it’s still available.

She’s easy on the eyes as she spits out how evil liberals are…

As I watched this NRA ad again in 2020, it does seem oddly predictive. There have been a hell of a lot of protests lately, some of which have gotten violent. She seems to think the answer to this is a police state and everyone armed to the teeth, even though Trump is unraveling more and more by the day. It’s disturbing to watch him disintegrate. He’s supposed to be a leader, but I expect him to collapse and go into a fetal position any day now, a la Jim Bakker back in 1989 as he was convicted of fraud and sent to prison. Jim Bakker was initially sentenced to 45 years behind bars, but was paroled after almost five. You can now find him on YouTube, eagerly peddling doomsday “food” slop in buckets and stumping for Donald Trump.

This is an entertaining and disturbing video.

The NRA ad attracted a number of comments from my friends, including one of my conservative cousins (and I have a whole lot of conservative cousins). My cousin Timmy (not his real name) had to chime in on the NRA. Timmy is a dedicated gun owner and gun rights proponent. Despite having been arrested a time or two when he was younger and wilder, he’s very much in favor of the police. And yet, despite all of this bad-assery, my dear cousin will no longer say the word “shit”.

I’m not sure exactly how or why this change came about. I know he used to drink a lot. In fact, he is partly responsible for my very first drunken episode when I was fifteen, because he kept giving me bourbon and Cokes at a family party. I remember getting very sick in my hotel room… It was definitely not my finest hour. But I was a teenager at the time, while he was an adult. I later heard that alcohol had caused Timmy a lot of problems and he had finally sobered up. Now he’s exchanged booze for conservatism, legalism, and religion. And he won’t say “shit” anymore, probably because he thinks it offends God. Instead of “chickenshit”, he says “chickenshot”. Instead of “bullshit”, he says “bullshot”.

I’m not Facebook friends with Timmy anymore, because we had one too many contentious arguments in which he became overbearing, snide, and insulting. It reminded me of dealing with my dad, who would similarly be rude and disrespectful when discussions didn’t go his way. Still, because we’re family, I run across his comments now and again on stuff shared by mutual family members who are also “friends”. I have noticed that he substitutes the word “shot” for “shit” quite often. I wonder why he does it and if he really thinks it makes a difference. Does God really care if you swear? Seems to me like God would have much bigger issues to deal with than someone who says the word “shit”. It’s silly, and it makes it hard for me to take him seriously. But anyway, here’s an example. Timmy told Bill that he’s a “Constitutional Libertarian”. Bill asked him to explain what he meant. This was his first response:

I can only define myself. As Jenny would say “who are you that I must explain who I am or what I believe”. 

Since you took the military service oath it shouldn’t be hard…and as an officer there should be “no gray areas”

Actually, I only said that to Timmy once, and it was after he’d been relentlessly badgering me about some argument we were having. I basically told him that I’m not obligated to explain anything to him just because he says so. Bill’s query was a lot more respectful, as they generally are. To his credit, Timmy recognized that, and wrote this response:

Actually Bill…my answer was chicken shot. Yes I believe in the US Constitution in the “originalism” sense. 

I know it’s next to impossible for it t be applied in that sense…yet it’s what I feel we should strive for. So many years have passed with gross overreaching from representatives and our federal government into our personal liberties. Members of congress could enact Article V… but appear scared to do so. 

You join the ranks of many that ask me to explain what I mean…for crying out loud it’s written in black and white. 

It wasn’t fully applied as written for many years. We’ve made progress to instill those liberties but have much more to make. 

It was snide and childish to respond the way I did earlier. I respect you, your differences, your wife, and the service you embrace for our country.

He eventually annoyed me so much that I posted this photo. His response was, “Very nice! Good thing you have a Masters degree Jenny [sic]”
To which I responded, “I have two of them, Timmy. :)” I don’t think he likes “uppity women” like me.

Later that same day, he decided to chime in on a discussion some of my friends and I were having about a mother who wanted to have her seven year old transgendered child sterilized and save some of her own eggs so that the child could later have children biologically related. He left this comment, basically revealing how he feels about people who adhere to Islam. I don’t think he’s remotely interested in understanding transgendered people and has simplified it to a “perversion” that, at the very least, requires intervention and correction by a psychiatrist. I don’t know much about transgendered people myself, but I do think it’s a real thing and people who are transgendered aren’t necessarily mentally ill anymore than cisgendered people are.

I guess I over simply things when “sorting”. To me the bathroom issue appears to be about “plumbing” and possibly being sexually or physically assaulted. 

The desired “comfort level” while relieving oneself in a public restroom…cannot be reasonably achieved. 

Knowing 20-200 individuals have sat (or stood) on the same toilet seat never comforts me. Not knowing their level of hygiene, nor the frequency of janitorial services…what sex they were doesn’t affect my comfort. 

Surely I’m not the only one who feels this way

When no one responded to that, he left a snide comment about “Sybil”. I guess he was referring to Sybil, who had multiple personalities and was the subject of a book and a movie? I asked him if he had anything of substance to add to the conversation or if he was just there to add snarky comments. He finally backed off… and if I recall correctly, it wasn’t much longer before I kicked him off my page.

Timmy doesn’t mind being snarky, dismissive, and rude when he comments, but he has a big problem with the word “shit”. And I imagine that if he heard the word “fuck” uttered in front of him, he might have a major meltdown. It’s too much to bear. Actually, it kind of makes me chuckle, because my dad was much like that. My dad HATED it when people swore. When he was angry, you might hear him say any manner of hateful things. He’d turn beet red and his veins would pop out. He was legitimately scary when he was like that. But– I never once heard him say the word “fuck”. I think I might have heard him say “shit” once or twice in my lifetime. He would say “damn” or “hell” on occasion, but it wasn’t very often. And he would often lecture me about my language, but y’all know I’m a potty mouth. I cuss a lot. I would rather cuss than become hateful or violent. I have not seen Timmy get violent, but I know he has been that way. He proudly carries firearms and I know he’s been arrested for being drunk and fighting in public. Timmy is also a very short man– even shorter than Bill is (and Bill is only 5’7″). I imagine a lot of this behavior stems from the fact that he’s short, and carrying a gun and being an asshole makes him feel better and more powerful about his lack of stature.

Another one of my cousins shared a laughable meme… laughable especially since the person who posted it didn’t even consult Google Translate when he added German… Behold:

JamesJim Lawrence is not my relative, but my relative shared this. I think Mr. Lawrence should speak only for himself instead of declaring that “most Americans” have disgust for people who take a knee when the National Anthem is being played. Moreover, if the Germans had taken over the United States– minus Hitler, anyway– we might be better off than we are right now. Germany is not doing too badly.

Well, it’s probably a good thing that I live so far away from “home”. I do feel pangs of sadness when I see how close some of my relatives are to each other. I feel kind of jealous when I see how some of my friends are close to their friends and relatives and how all of the “social distancing” has been a real hardship for them. It hasn’t been much of a hardship for me, since I live so far away and I can’t relate to a lot of my family members anymore anyway. They have written me off as a “chicken shot” liberal, even though I definitely don’t agree with all liberal ideas.

I just think that right now, the liberals are much more in touch with reality than the conservatives are, and they have policies that seem more humane. I’m also pissed off that the conservatives cursed us with Donald Trump, who, I’m sorry to say, is the worst president in United States history. Or, at least, that’s my opinion. I will admit I’m not an expert, and I understand that a lot of other presidents reportedly were even worse. But, at least in my lifetime, Trump is the worst by far. He doesn’t even pretend to be a leader. My cousin, Timmy, the self-proclaimed “Constitutional Libertarian”, didn’t even have the cojones to vote for the Libertarian POTUS candidate in 2016. Oddly enough, this liberal “chicken shot” and her husband, did…

Incidentally, I think I could be persuaded to buy some chicken shit… I hear it’s a good way to season your poultry.

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religion

Taste testing crapocalyptic slop…

Bill and I were super busy yesterday, so I didn’t have time to blog. However, I did find some time to discover new personalities on YouTube. I’ve written about Jim Bakker before– if you were around in the 1980s, you might remember him as one of the leaders of the PTL channel (Praise the Lord). He and his late ex wife, Tammy Faye, were in huge legal trouble for embezzling money from their ministry to pay for an extravagant lifestyle. Jim Bakker was later sentenced to 45 years in prison, but only ended up doing almost five.

Bakker was also known for his sexual dalliances with Jessica Hahn, a church secretary. He paid her $279,000 to keep silent about their shenanigans, but the truth eventually came out.

I was a teenager when all of that was happening. I grew up in the Tidewater area of Virginia, not too far from the Christian Broadcasting Network’s Portsmouth headquarters. Jim and Tammy Faye got their start at CBN, which is where Pat Robertson reigns supreme. I don’t remember following the story of the scandal closely when it was going on, but I do remember it well. It was national news.

Years later, I read and reviewed an excellent and comprehensive book about Jim Bakker. In 1989, author Charles E. Shepard published Forgiven: The Rise and Fall of Jim Bakker and the PTL Ministry. The book is out of print now, or at least it was when I managed to score a used copy of it. Although it took a long time to finish reading it, I found Forgiven a very juicy read. I was left fascinated by televangelists like Jim Bakker.

A few months ago, I wrote a post about how Jim Bakker and his wife, Lori, are now hosting a new show. They are selling shelf stable buckets of food for the end times. Bakker cries about how the world is going to end soon and there won’t be enough food. You can protect your family by buying his overpriced buckets of slop for your food storage. They supposedly last for 25 years.

Thanks to YouTube, all of this is easily discovered online… along with some true comedy gold. Yesterday, I discovered two guys who have a show called Good Mythical Morning. Rhett and Link bravely “tasted” the apocalypse era food so you don’t have to. Behold this…

These guys are HILARIOUS! But then, so is Jim Bakker… for all the wrong reasons.

Jim Bakker is just fucking nuts, but people are still watching his tripe. Sadly, some people actually believe what he says. Someone is bankrolling his show, after all. I haven’t sat through a whole episode yet, because it mostly seems to be about his end times prophecies and selling this bucketed slop. You can use the buckets as tables, too. Seriously, they show you how to do this. How thrifty!

They follow up with another funny video of their taste test of apocalyptic milk… If this is what we have to look forward to after the apocalypse, why bother trying to survive? Isn’t it the goal of Christians to go “home” to Jesus?

These guys cracked me up so much yesterday. They seem to enjoy the same kind of juvenile humor I never managed to grow out of. Case in point, they started off this video with a ten word story… “Well, I just went number two in a large bucket.” Ha ha ha… maybe they rehearsed that… but it seems spontaneous. And I dig ten word stories about taking a crap.

I think my favorite part of these videos is when they show Bakker tasting this crap in front of everyone. You can watch Bakker almost choke on faux potato soup as he tries to convince everyone how delicious it is. When you consider how convincing Bakker must have been in the 80s when he managed to separate so many gullible people from their rare and hard earned dollars, you know that trying to look like he’s enjoying the slop he’s selling must have been super difficult. In fairness, these guys don’t totally diss the slop. They say it’s kind of like what you’d eat on a camping trip.

Anyway… I see Rhett and Link do a lot of food reviewing. Some of the stuff they try is truly bizarre and disgusting. I love that they taste tested Jim Bakker’s apocalyptic slop, though. My liberal friends have been posting about Bakker a lot lately, since he’s been putting out all kinds of bullshit about the end times and how Christians are soon going to start killing each other. In fact, I think I was even prompted to watch this silliness because I recently read an equally silly story about how Bakker thinks “Christians will die” if Trump loses in 2020. He’s not the only one who has made such ridiculous declarations about the slaughter of Christians. Rick Wiles, host of TruNews, has also made stupid comments about this.

Guys like Bakker and Wiles prey on the dull and dim.

The prospect of another four years with Trump in charge is terrifying to me. I’m glad Good Mythical Morning is around to make me laugh as I try not to ponder the United States’s slide into complete lunacy at the hands of religious wingnuts and narcissistic sociopaths like Trump.

After watching Jim Bakker’s slop taste test, I think you should explore Vic Berger’s hilarious videos, comically edited to show everyone how nuts Bakker and his ilk are…

After you eat the slop, you can crap in the bucket. They even say so! And as Bakker talks about people starving, I look at the people in the audience, almost none of whom look like they’re ever going to be in danger of starving.

I know what I’d like to do with Bakker’s particular brand of doo doo… At least they hire decent musicians, even if their songs are ridiculous.

Wow… who needs Netflix when you can watch this shit?
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