July 30, 2009

"Close your eyes and see green. Money up to your armpits, a roomful of money and there you are, just tossing around in it like a swimming pool."

Reverend Ike. Rest in Peace... or in a swimming pool of money....


Tibore said...

"I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
- Matthew 19:23-24

"“Close your eyes and see green,” Reverend Ike would tell his 5,000 parishioners from a red-carpeted stage at the former Loew’s film palace on 175th Street in Washington Heights, the headquarters of his United Church Science of Living Institute. “Money up to your armpits, a roomful of money and there you are, just tossing around in it like a swimming pool.”"
-Reverend Ike, linked story

Heh... Nothing like '60s based modifications to worship. Why is it that whenever I see something from that era modifying religion, it's all about claiming the New Agey feel for "spirituality" without the coexistent discipline and duty that the original religion demanded? Isn't that sort of like saying "I want the benefits without the work?"

Paddy O. said...

Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."

And he told them this parable: "The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.'

"Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." '

"But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?'

"This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God."
(Luke 12:15-21)

Consider the ravens...

NKVD said...

Raven is cool.

Fred4Pres said...

Think and Grow Rich is fine, but I never understood people who send ministers like this money.

John Burgess said...

Rev. Ike was a refreshing breeze in the airwaves dominated by the likes of Orel Roberts at the time. He was straight-up with his 'why not go for success?' pitch that distinguished him from his po-mouth competitors.

Besides, he was fun to watch, if you had to watch 'church TV'. Remember--or realize, if you're to young to remember--that Ike flourished in the days before cable TV, when there were actually very few things to watch.

traditionalguy said...

With no theology intended, I will observe that 90% of the problems that people bring into a lawyers' offices arise from a lack of money. The need for money is a universal fact. Neither Jesus nor his Father ever disparaged proper use of money. The "Love of money"is a (that is one, not the only) root all evil. At least God stops at a token 10% to free us from loving our money more than Him, unlike our Taxing authorities that start at 10 % and go on up to 100%, or until we vote them out. But if 51% pay no taxes and then we are unable to rebel by voting, and then what? Joe the Plumber still awaits his answer to a damn good question.

Rich B said...

"The philosophy held that St. Paul was wrong; that the root of all evil is not the love of money, but rather the lack of it. It was a message that challenged traditional Christian messages about finding salvation through love and the intercession of the divine."

I wonder if the NYT writer was able to compose that passage without laughing himself silly. I'll bet the theologians at the Vatican were hard-pressed to respond to Rev Ike.

I was surprised that he was still around - and that he wasn't 90. He was like Little Richard without the hits.

traditionalguy said...

The funny thing is that all religious groups try to get your money for some purpose or other, building stuff, or paying missionaries expenses, or salaries to the owner/preacher. Nothing wrong with any of that, but the older established groups pretend that they are better than the Rev Ikes of the world. It is all competition for paying members. I believe Romans 8:28 is apropos.

traditionalguy said...

cite Correction: that is Romans 8: 28- 32.

Paddy O. said...

Other religious groups being no better is a bit of a stretch, but only a bit.

The stretch comes in that the other groups would say their expenses aren't about satisfying material passions or excess. Indeed, I've gone from one extreme to another and back again in my thoughts on paid clergy. But, the fact is there's all kinds of stuff that is useful in having a full time vocational pastor--study for preaching/teaching, counseling, organization, visitation, etc.

But, the Mormons don't have paid clergy (as far as I know), and they are very, very good about taking care of others in their churches who have specific financial need.

The early church used tithes and offerings and such for helping out the poor, the widows, orphans, and otherwise putting almost all the money towards supplying the needs of those who had no income.

St. Paul didn't take a salary, it seems, as was customary in Jewish religious leadership at the time. But, it appears that Jesus lived on the donations of others during his ministry, and we read that it is okay to be paid for doing full time religious work (1 Cor. 9:9-14). But, the key is it shouldn't be about becoming rich or profitable.

A very early church writing called the Didache talks about profit in ministry:

Let every emissary that comes to you be received.

But he must not remain longer than one day, unless it is absolutely necessary, in which case he may stay another. But if he stays three days, suspect him as a false prophet.

When the emissary leaves, send him with only bread to sustain him to his next destination. But if he asks for money, be assured that he is a false prophet.

Television preachers are a modern version of the early emissary/traveling preacher. They don't have to go anywhere to visit everywhere.

The one really big, and seemingly non-Biblical, expense is buildings/property. While a lot of church property is really used well, offering itself back as a community resource, far too much property is rarely used and over-extravagant.

That's pretty much why I'm against having tax exempt status for religious use buildings. I suspect that if taxes were applied, there would be an immediate reformation in building philosophy and land use by religious communities.

The biggest problem with this "health and wealth" and "name it and claim it" theology is that it disproportionately hits the poor. They are desperate and desperate for answers to their poverty. They're also often not nearly as educated so can be taken in by men and women who put on the appearance of education and knowledge. So, the poor send their meager possession to the rich, all for the sake of a promised heavenly reward.

This version of theology is really big in the poorest neighborhoods all around the world, especially in Africa and Latin America.

Audities said...

Haven't heard Reverend Ike since I was a 60s Raleigh, NC teen, broadcast daily @lunchtime over local R&B station WLLE AM 570 (home of Sweet Bob).

But I still remember Ike's address - shouted over & over by Ike himself:

"That's Box 1000, Boston Massachusetts!!. Once again: Box 1000, Boston Massachusetts!!"

And a testimonial from one grateful listener that after sending a "contribution" to Reverend Ike, she received 7 additional goverment checks, tho I can't remember from which agency :)

rhhardin said...

God works in book-entry money these days.

It's all done online.

dick said...

Worked for a black manager one time who told me about the women in his neighborhood in DC. They almost had a contest to see which church group could give the biggest gifts to their ministers. I remember one group who gave their minister a new Cadillac and the rigts to all the rents from a combined commercial and residential apartment building. The minister sold the building for a huge profit and moved to Florida.

Issob Morocco said...

Too bad Obama didn't spend twenty years in the pews of Rev. Ike's church. We might have a wholly better economic situation today, if so.