July 21, 2007

Goodbye to Tammy Faye.

She said goodbye to us two days ago on Larry King. Speaking about Jesus and Heaven, she looked shockingly wasted, and her makeup -- long the subject of jokes -- ought to have seemed even more absurd on this near-corpse, but it wasn't like that. It felt like a brilliant expression of love for life and defiance of death (even as she accepted death).

Part 1 of the show:

Part 2.
Part 3.

The NYT obit:
Tammy Faye Messner, who as Tammy Faye Bakker helped her husband, Jim, build a multimillion-dollar evangelism empire and then saw it collapse in disgrace, has died. She was 65....

In an interview with CNN's Larry King... an emaciated Messner -- still using her trademark makeup -- said, "I believe when I leave this earth, because I love the Lord, I'm going straight to heaven." Asked if she had any regrets, Messner said: "I don't think about it, Larry, because it's a waste of good brain space."

If you have a hard time seeing why you should love Tammy Faye, just watch this movie.


vnjagvet said...

There are some people who just exude a love for their Lord and for their fellow human beings.

Tammy Faye appears to have been one of those creatures.

Unbelievers have difficulty accepting the works of the Holy Spirit as anything other than magic.

Believers like Tammy Faye are blessed to have no such difficulty. The Spirit seems to shine through them to all of us.

God bless her, her family and her friends on this untimely loss.

reader_iam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
reader_iam said...

You know, I hope this won't be taken in the wrong way:

Tammy, back in the day, which coincided with her hey-day as Jim's wife and for a good while after, didn't do much for me--in fact, quite the opposite. Quite the opposite, and for reasons both simple and complicated.

However--and it's a big "however"--over the ensuing years, also for reasons both simple and complicated, my POV and attitude changed, at least in few key ways. I came to enjoy and appreciate certain things about her, the--dare I put something this way?--the her-ness of her, as she evolved.

Oh, meh.

Well, I'll stop, except to say that this reminds of that post you did not all that long ago about Jackie Collins, and what I had to say about her and, by implication, the place she ended up, within herself.

Am I going to get in trouble for not linking to your post in question, and making the context more easy? And for neither explaining that reaction or this one?

Time will tell. But more telling about how I'm beginning to view traveling the journey of a lifetime is that finally, finally that sort of thing--constantly feeling I have to explain and defend--has started to matter a whole lot less, at least in certain limited ways, and certainly with regard to having to justify how I view the trajectory of other individuals' lives, and how they cho[o]se to live them.
Well, I'll stop, except to say... .

LOL. Well, I of course I don't (didn't). How familiar is that?

Maybe I'll just start accepting THAT quirk in myself, as I do the quirks in and individualities in others ...

R.I.P., Tammy, for, what it comes down to, being your own self.

Luckyoldson said...

vnjagvet said..."There are some people who just exude a love for their Lord and for their fellow human beings."

Here we go again.

Much like Falwell's passing, we'll suddenly hear about what a terrific God-loving woman Tammy was and how much she loved her "fellow human beings."

Never mind the millions and millions of dollars she and Jim stole from 1,000's of their "true believers."

And, yes, it was certainly difficult to not feel terribly sorry for Tammy, watching her recent interviews, and no one should relish the death of another, but there are others who more truly deserve our sympathies.

Personally, I always considered the woman more of a rather bizarre entertainer than a spiritual guide of any sort.

Gahrie said...

Never mind the millions and millions of dollars she and Jim stole from 1,000's of their "true believers."

She stole from nobody. Those donation were freely and lovingly given. Ther was no fraud or deceit.

Her husband was an adulterous hypocrite, but she had nothing to do with that.

I'm not a big fan of Tammy's, but I respect the way she led her life, full of faith, love and yes believe it or not, dignity.

reader_iam said...

Gahrie, the time-shares... .

Luckyoldson said...

Gahrie says, with a straight face: "She stole from nobody. Those donation were freely and lovingly given. Ther was no fraud or deceit."

Right...except for: From 1984 to 1987, Bakker and his PTL associates had sold "lifetime memberships" for $1,000 or more that entitled buyers to a three-night stay annually at a luxury hotel at Heritage USA.

According to the prosecution at Bakker's later fraud trial, tens of thousands of memberships had been sold, but only one 500-room hotel was ever completed.


1.Between 1984 and 1987, the Bakkers received annual salaries of $200,000 each.

2. Jim awarded himself over $4,000,000 in bonuses.

3. Their assets at that time included a $600,000 house in Palm Springs, four condominiums in California, and a Rolls Royce.

4. PTL once spent $100,000 for a private jet to fly the Bakkers' clothing across the country.

5. It also once spent $100 for cinnamon rolls because the Bakkers wanted the smell of them in their hotel room.

But no "deceit" was involved...

Luckyoldson said...


Oh, and then, in 1993, she married Roe Messner, the contractor that built most of Heritage USA and many other church buildings.

He also served time in prison after being convicted on bankruptcy fraud charges.

Seven Machos said...

Jim Bakker was also in league with George W. Bush and Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz and Condi Rice. It was a pentumburate of evil.

Luckyoldson said...

Do you ever post anything that makes sense?

Cedarford said...

For nearly 20 years she was the butt of jokes, yet stood tall and accepted her travails with humor and tenacity.

Doctors and clergy sometimes say that it is the people you don't expect that deal with adversity as the full measure of man or woman, while those one would expect to be courageous can be wusses.

Tammy Faye died surrounded by loving family, respected by millions for her grace, positive attitude, spirituality, strength of character.

May you draw your last breath with half her dignity and 1/10th of her admirers, Luckyoldson, and you can count yourself as a fortunate man.

vnjagvet said...


I meant my comment to reinforce the impressions expressed by Ann and others about her Larry King interview when she was clearly in extremis, but radiated faith and joy even while knowing she was near death.

I don't believe I implied my approval of her entire life. If you inferred that from my comment, I apologize for being unclear.

According to orthodox Christian theology, even the thief on the cross, a career criminal (who, unlke Christ, deserved execution) was granted forgiveness and salvation after asking Christ, who was dying beside him, for mercy.

Whether Tammy Faye sought such mercy is between her and her Lord. She, like all of us, was surely in need of it.

LoafingOaf said...

I can't muster the hatefulness of Lucky after seeing a bit of the Larry King interview, but....

I respect the way she led her life

I don't.

reader_iam said...

Always with the "or's." Rarely with the "and's."

I'm in awe, now as always, of those who are so confident that in the end, they will prefer the former to the latter, for themselves or their loved ones. Or that they will staunchly stand against, on behalf of themselves and their loved ones, the latter.

I say and will stand by those two paragraphs from a secular standpoint as much as from any other.

reader_iam said...

Always with the "or's." Rarely with the "and's."

(You know, in terms of judgment, imagination, compassion, understanding, humility, recognition of nuance and complexity--all that trivial stuff that hovers around life, most especially at the end of it and, in most cases, for an indeterminate number of years beforehand.)

LoafingOaf said...

Never mind the millions and millions of dollars she and Jim stole from 1,000's of their "true believers."

I just googled up an NPR interview with Tammy Faye from 2004 (an alternative to subjecting myself to the pro-Tammy film) to hear if I should be nicer to her.

I pressed "stop" after she was going on about how she and her husband "never thought about money," and were only receiving what their oh-so-ethical Board of Directors determined should be their salary. She spun her lifestyle as something less than opulent when asked if she felt comfortable living the high life after duping so many poor saps out of their dough. Then she said all charges against her husband related to money were "a lot of crap." Because, you know...Jim and Tammy Faye "never thought about money," being so busy working for Jesus 24 hours a day. LOL

So...a liar in 2004, too.

I better stop posting before I get hateful. I'm sorry she got cancer and passed away prematurely. It did sound like she had her good points, but no, I can't respect her, let alone love her.

(Strange that I'm agreeing with Lucky lately.)

Luckyoldson said...

I realize many here think I'm being too hard on Tammy, but you can only hear so many of these charlatans become what they say they are in the first place, spiritual leaders or guides...immediately after being indicted, sent to jail, outed or contracting a terminal disease.

My dad died a horrible and prolonged death from cancer and I felt it was unfair for him to have to suffer through the two long years of pain and agony, and I think he more than deserved the sympathy and love our family provided because he was a humble and loving person who didn't deserve what he got (he was a smoker before most knew what an addictive agent it really is).

Oh, and and, by the way...he was just a plain old lifelong Catholic who never bilked 1,000's of "believers" out of hard-earned cash by telling them he was their path to redemption or heaven.

Modern Otter said...

A good friend of mine, musician/writer "Mississippi" Chris Sharp, is the author of a well-worth-reading memoir of his grandfather's devotion to the Bakkers. Go to http://mississippichrissharp.com/Stories.htm and scroll down to "Grandaddy and the Bakkers."

Ruth Anne Adams said...

May the Lord grant her eternal rest and may perpetual light shine upon her. May her soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Luckyoldson said...

Which God?

The Exalted said...

why is it not a surprise that the board regulars lament the passing of a fraudster?

vnjagvet said...

You got me, Exalted. Why, indeed?

I thought even admitted criminals deserved a defense in our system of law.

And why should some who were not indicted get the same treatment a fortiori?

As a liberal person, I would think your tolerance would extend to the unindicted as well as to the indicted.