looks bad to me…

Posted on Sunday 26 September 2010

It took me a while to realize that these are photographs taken by Bishop Eddie Long posing in front of his bathroom mirror using his cell phone [I’m still awed that you can carry a phone around with you and and haven’t yet incorporated the fact that they have cameras in them]. So he’s playing dress up, and it’s reasonable to assume that there’s something about being seen as Mr. Muscle  – a Macho Man – that’s very important to him. And apparently just seeing this image in the mirror [or being seen by the mirror] isn’t enough for him, so he takes a picture to send to some real other person. In fact he does it a at least a couple of times.

Why would Eddie Long who is publicly gazed upon by 25,000 people every week have a need to be seen at all? Shouldn’t his mega-Congregation be enough? And what of the allegations that he’s cultivated an entourage of young men to travel with, to have sex with? Is it true? If it is true, why would he risk doing it, given the likelihood that it would be all over the news sooner or later? Here’s his response this morning at his church

What are we to think about that statement?  I expect that from a legal perspective, he’s received good advice. But it’s also true that if he’s innocent, he doesn’t really need any good advice. He’s accused of using his position of power to corrupt at least four young men who come to him for something else, to use them as sexual objects or to get them to see him as a sexual object. Frankly, I see those pictures up there as pretty suggestive of the allegations. And his public statement doesn’t change that impression.

But more than those pictures, or the courtroom allegations, his statement to engage 25,000 people to stand with him in the face of "allegations" and "attacks" doesn’t seem fair to them. He says, "I have never claimed to be a perfect man." He’s not being accused of imperfections. He’s accused of being a demigod – a person who has used young men for his own self aggrandizement. And now he seems to have embarked on using his Congregation in the same way, because he doesn’t address their needs in his statement. He doesn’t talk about who he has been to them; or how they must feel to have him on the front page of the paper accused of corrupting their fellow parishioners; or what they might think about his Mr. Muscle self-portraits.

Long gave 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. sermons on Sunday. They were essentially the same. Eliciting chuckles from the audience, Long began both by joking, “I gotta talk to my family” of worshippers before addressing what other “folk” — meaning media — were there to hear. Both sermons focused on “understanding painful situations.”

He quoted Isaiah: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” Long encouraged congregants to think about natural disasters — tornadoes and floods. He specifically named Hurricane Katrina and other “painful situations.” “Bishop Eddie Long will have painful situations,” he said. Shouts of affirmation came from the audience. “We will walk through this painful situation,” he continued. Then, the bishop quoted the 23rd Psalm. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death …” Worshippers were on their feet.

He urged them to stay committed to being “prayerful,” then briefly reminded them that it’s nearly election time in Georgia, that it was important to vote and be involved. He then went back to speaking about himself. “Some people think I’m lost,” he said. It is those people, he said, who “will have an opportunity to come down to the altar.” New Birth will continue to worship and thrive, he said. “We ain’t gonna stop it,” he said. More cheers. The camera panned to the pastor’s wife Vanessa Long. She smiled…
I don’t personally understand the appeal of the mega-church. But I realize that my lack of understanding pales in the face of their popularity or their media presence [just turn on the television on Sunday morning, or lots of other times]. And I really don’t understand why they persist in spite of the frequency of their pastors’ falls from grace [Earl Paulk, Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, Ted Haggard, etc.] or the blatant financial scams of many others [eg Joel Osteen, Benny Hinn, Robert Tilton, Aimee Semple McPherson – the list goes on and on]. Like many before him, Eddie Long seems to think he can ride out this storm. Most have — given enough time. Jimmy Swaggart is still on television. Pastor Ted [Haggard] is making a come-back. Jimmy Bakker is on the air and part of yet another "Christian Community" in Branson MO similar to his old PTL Club. Whatever this is about, it seems to fill a need for a large number of people, and whatever that need is, it persists through a barrage of exploitation and disillusionment…
    September 26, 2010 | 9:33 PM

    A Gangstah Pastah! Good grief! What, pray, could the Bishop have been thinking?

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