Thinking Out Loud

May 30, 2012

Wednesday Link List

They didn’t talk about this at seminary: A Russian Orthodox priest blesses the Soyuz TMA-20 spacecraft on the launch pad at the Russian leased Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The rocket is set to head to the International Space Station on December 15, with US, Italian and Russian astronauts on board.

  • I don’t spend a lot of time tracking Roman Catholic theology or books, but I was intrigued the other day to see this title: 100 Biblical Arguments Against Sola Scriptura. Here’s how they introduce the subject.
  • Members of an Anglican Church in Virginia are paying a high price their convictions about same-sex marriage, but 90% of them decided they had to take a stand.
  • Meanwhile, in Canada, a group of breakaway Anglicans are launching their own college.
  • And speaking of higher education; if you flunked Biblical Greek in Bible College and failed Biblical Hebrew in seminary, you get one more chance: Two villages in Israel are trying to revive the Aramaic language, with help from a TV station in Sweden.
  • Be among the first to watch this 2.5 minute preview of the movie Hanged on A Twisted Cross, The Life, Convictions and Martyrdom of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
  • Jamie the Very Worst Missionary is coming home from the field. “Aww;” my wife said, “Now what will she be the worst at?” Here’s her husband’s version of it, and here’s Jamie’s.
  • BDBO posts an announcement from Benny Hinn about the restoration of the relationship with his former wife; along with a link to an article suggesting some news may be premature.
  • A disturbing news story about a high school girl who couldn’t attend a state leadership event because the non-denominational service provided wasn’t up to the standard of her Roman Catholic mass, gets dissected at Get Religion by a Lutheran who admits her denomination would react the same way — all this on a blog that was established to confront bias in religious reporting. Sorry, but exclusivity is one of the primary marks of a cult.
  • One of the pastors at Cross Point gave an amazing sermon on Sunday, comparing listening to and obeying God with listening to your guide when you’re river rafting. Hope it’s available online soon.
  • John Dyer looks at the three major issues arising from the use of “Bible apps” on smartphones during worship services.
  • LGBT Discussion Link of the Week: A pastor shares a Twitter conversation with someone who wants to diminish his church’s orthodoxy on the basis of this one issue.
  • Monday night I watched an amazing lecture by Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis. Later that night, I discovered that the program I watched, Only One Race, is available at the ministry’s video on demand page.
  • Police in Indiana arrested a 55-year old Christian Reformed pastor who had placed cameras in the women’s restroom.
  • Meanwhile, a California pastor and his associates are facing a range of charges including assault, child abuse, kidnapping  and torture following a disciplinary action involving a 13-year old at a Bible study.
  • After a bad review from Tim Challies, Ann Voskamp takes the high road, leading TC to admit he sometimes lacks sensitivity, but One Thousand Gifts fails to earn the Challies seal of approval.
  • Just ’cause you’re talking about an individual, doesn’t mean it’s bad: Floyd and Sally McClung want encourage positive gossip.
  • 99.99% of everything at Lark News is fiction, but the story of the pastor whose Tweets destroyed his reputation is so totally believable.
  • if you want to avoid having your blog posts copied to other blogs, just have a blog where you write everything in lower case. most of us will keep our distance, except for a few type a people who will go through and capitalize where needed. mark oestreicher, this means you.
  • Okay, so if you’re part of ‘prayer cloth’ culture, today’s closing picture is a bit irreverent — and a bit dated — but…

July 26, 2010

As the Celebrity Pages Turn

Filed under: issues, media — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 4:43 am

Well maybe. Maybe not.

On the last day of our vacation, the hotel where we were staying just outside of Ottawa offered me a free copy of The Saturday [Toronto] Star.   As is my habit, I tucked it away to read in detail when we got back home, which I did late that night.

On page three was the story of Benny Hinn and Paula White with which many of you are already familiar; though the picture — showing them holding hands — made the story almost unnecessary.  [Though the article tried to press the Toronto angle of Benny’s early ministry in the area, it was inaccurate on a few points.]

This morning, commuters boarded mass transit trains in many North American cities and picked up one of the many commuter newspapers available free.   Chances are, up to 20% of the page count was taken by celebrity news.    This is what people want to read about.    The program Entertainment Tonight once was an interesting course in entertainment media, the visual “how it’s done” manual on all things related to movies, music, television, and stage.   Instead, it gave birth to a host of television programs which try to feed the insatiable desire for more knowledge of who is bedding down with whom.

Most of the time however, the news originates in Hollywood, not the Bible Belt.   The Benny and Paula story — they were seen together on the streets of Rome —  really looked no different than countless others, but we need to recognize that on some level, both of them are part of the superstar culture.

How did we get there?

For starters, here are some obvious reasons:

  • the rise of mega-churches, which suddenly made certain pastors significant nationally, and others less so;
  • the established past history of certain pastors or evangelists with respect to moral failure and the media feeding frenzy that these events are now certain to bring;
  • the outrageously excessive income and/or lifestyle of certain Christian “stars;”
  • the desire of certain Christian authors and artists to see their books or music “cross over” into the mainstream market; and,
  • our obsession with celebrity.

We created this mess ourselves, somewhat.  We conformed to the world.   We wanted our alternative Christian culture to be just as glitzy as theirs and we worshiped at the feet of anybody with a big church, a TV show or a best-selling book or CD.

Of course, both parties have issued denials that anything untoward is happening.   Is it just me, or are both denials the work of the same copywriter?

A great day for Movie-of-the-Week screenwriters and producers.

A sad day for the Kingdom of God.

My advice to Benny and/or Paula?  It’s peaked.  The season is over.   Shut it down.   All of it.   The television ministry.   The crusades.   The books.   Pay the staff a decent severance.   The TV contracts you can’t get out of, give the airtime to another ministry.    The arena contracts you can’t get out of, give to another [type of] evangelist, or even a Christian band.   Retire somewhere nobody can find you.

And Benny, take the Nehru jackets to a local thrift shop.

Related post on this blog:  My Day With Tiger Woods and Benny Hinn

Best place to follow this story (if you must):  The other “Benny;” the blog, Bene Diction Blogs On

Picture:  National Enquirer article.  Who else?

February 20, 2010

My Day With Tiger Woods and Benny Hinn

I stopped living by the core values that I was taught to believe in. I knew my actions were wrong, but I convinced myself that normal rules didn’t apply. I never thought about who I was hurting. Instead, I thought only about myself. I ran straight through the boundaries that a married couple should live by. I thought I could get away with whatever I wanted to. I felt that I had worked hard my entire life and deserved to enjoy all the temptations around me. I felt I was entitled. Thanks to money and fame, I didn’t have to go far to find them.

I was wrong. I was foolish. I don’t get to play by different rules. The same boundaries that apply to everyone apply to me. I brought this shame on myself. ~ from the text of Tiger Woods comments at 11 AM EST, 19/02/10

At this point we don’t know any of the particulars surrounding the announcement on Thursday that Suzanne Hinn, wife of Benny Hinn was filing for divorce.    So please don’t think I am inferring any — absolutely any — parallels between Tiger Woods and Benny.

However, I did not check the “religious news wire” before heading out of town on Friday, so it was against the backdrop of the Tiger Woods press conference that I read the news about Benny and Suzanne Hinn around suppertime.

Benny Hinn and I are not friends or even true acquaintances, but our paths did cross many years ago.   The original crusades he conducted in Toronto, Canada were held in the church that was the base for the mail order business I operated.   The Joyful Noise Record Club had customers across Canada, and later became Searchlight Music, a company I still own in another form.

The head of another ministry based in the building was about to be married, and people from various ministries operating in the Toronto church were invited to the wedding.   Some of us apparently were invited at the last minute.   I had no date for the wedding, and as I remember it, neither did Benny Hinn.   We talked briefly waiting for the door for the reception to open, but I was terrified he would suddenly lay hands on me, cause me to fall over, or announce to everyone some great secret sin — probably lust — that I was harboring at the time.

Fortunately, we were seated at different tables.

Benny’s ministry in Toronto was somewhat high profile — at least among Charismatics — but nothing compared to the size and scope of it when he moved to Orlando and married the daughter of Charismatic pastor Roy Harthern.   The website Precious Daily Devotions tells the story:

In the summer of 1978, on a flight returning from a conference in Singapore, Benny Hinn met Roy Harthern, an Englishman who was pastoring the Calvary Assembly of God in Orlando, Florida. They got to know one another on the long flight. Roy showed Benny pictures of his family. When he came to the photo of Roy’s daughter, Suzanne, Benny heard a voice inside him saying, “She’s going to be your wife.”

Roy Harthern invited Pastor Benny Hinn to come to his home for Christmas, he accepted. When he met Suzanne, Benny remembers jokingly, “I looked into her beautiful bluish-green eyes and my knees became weak”. When his friend Maxine LaDuke met Suzanne, she took Benny aside and confirmed that this was his wife.

Benny knew she was the one. He took Pauline Harthern aside to “ask her something.” Pauline thought he wanted to ask her permission to date Suzanne, but instead, he said “I want to marry Suzanne; I am in love with her.” “Well, well,” Pauline replied, “you really need to speak to her father.” When Roy gave his approval, Benny Hinn immediately went to find Suzanne. Suzanne accepted and Pastor Benny Hinn and Suzanne tied the knot on August 4, 1979.

The rest, as they say, is history.   Hinn catapulted to fame and infamy, as Wikipedia reminds us:

By far the most controversial aspect of Hinn’s ministry is his claim to have the “anointing”, the special power given to him by God to heal the sick. At Hinn’s Miracle Crusades, he has allegedly healed attendees of blindness, deafness, cancer, AIDS, and severe physical injuries. Since 1993, however, investigative news reports by programs such as Inside Edition, Dateline NBC, the Australian edition of 60 Minutes, and several network affiliates in the United States have called these claims into question.

Hinn made a number of unfulfilled (religious) prophecies for the 90s, such as God destroying America’s homosexual community in 1995, the death of Fidel Castro, the election of the first female president of the USA, the East Coast of the United States being devastated by earthquakes, etc., all before the third millennium. Hinn also appeared on the Trinity Broadcasting Network in October 1999 to claim that God had given him a vision that thousands of dead people would be resurrected after watching the network—laying out a scenario of people placing their dead loved ones’ hands on TV screens tuned into the station—and that TBN would be “an extension of Heaven to Earth.”

Again, I have no reason to link the divorce announcement to anything to do with Tiger Woods except to say that it was against that context that I heard the news.   But maybe that’s not it at all, maybe I’m also reading into this story against the backdrop of the post I wrote last week about Todd Bentley.  (But again, there’s been no inference of infidelity, the grounds for divorce filed are irreconcilable differences.)   Another celebrity.  Another Charismatic evangelist.   Another divorce.

There are two sides to every story, and Hinn’s people have allegedly already started going into damage control mode, and not everyone is buying it.

It’s all so very sad.

To those of you who are just starting out in your journey of faith, or building a ministry, remember:  You are responsible for the depth of your ministry; God is responsible for the breadth of your ministry.   Don’t aim for crowds, respect, praise or what some would consider success.     Because success and praise always come at a cost; the adulation of the crowds always comes at a price; and then, if you fail, you take down all the people who worshiped you.

Additional sources USAToday; Bene Diction Blogs On. Picture:  The Daily Show. Update: Confirmation at Benny Hinn Ministries website.

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