So the world's still here, and Teh Rapture that Harold Camping predicted didn't happen after all. I don't know about you, but I was sorely disappointed. I'd spent a ton of money on a good pair of binoculars just so I could watch naked people float up to Heaven. Now they're only good for bird watching or checking out my neighbor half a block away.
I got to thinking about it and I'm pretty well convinced Mr. Camping was funning with us--giving us the finger, so to speak. Then I saw a picture of the fellow and it pretty much confirmed it.
Take a look and see what you think.
Of course, this is nothing new. So-called religious leaders have been giving people the finger for a very long time. Surely that first Neanderthal who drew a mystical picture on a cave wall or placed a flower on a grave while making strange grunts exercised some kind of power over his brethren. And if he was anything like most of the people who find themselves in positions of power, he took advantage of it too.
Later on in human history, the Crusades, as we know, pitted Christians against Muslims, for God's sake. And today, nearly 1000 years later, it seems as though that particular war is not over. Imagine, 1000 years of war just to prove that my God is better than your God. It's particularly ironic when you realize both religions share the same God.
The Spanish Inquisition was a fun time in the history of religion too. Friar Tomas de Torquemada and his buds gave more than the finger to the heretics. They also gave them the pear, the cage, the strappado and the aselli. Of course there are no photographs from that time, but there sure are a whole lot of neat drawings and etchings that point the finger at the true perpetrators.
Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin, the Mad Monk, was Russian mystic and faith healer brought into the royal household by Nicholas II and his wife, Alexandra to tend to their son, Alexei. In his spare time, he ate and drank to excess and ravished pretty much any woman he could get his hands on. He kind of reminds me of a late 18th Century, early 19th Century Jim Bakker. But at least Rasputin was an interesting guy. If you haven't read any stories about his murder you should. It's a perfect example of truth being stranger than fiction.
Aimee Semple McPhereson and Father Charles Coughlin are two shining examples of finger-giving religious leaders from the 1920s and 1930s. McPhereson preached a conservative, evangelical brand of Christianity, yet managed to divorce and remarry (something she taught others was sinful), and allegedly, eventually staged her own kidnapping so she could spend quality time with her lover.
The advent of television gave our religions friends yet another way to spread the love of God. Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Jimmy (ah hayuv sinned) Swaggart along with Bakker immediately come to mind.
Check out the pictures below. Jimmy appears to be pointing out either original sin or his hooker, while Robertson tries to give his audience the finger but, instead, summons the Devil.
This picture shows Jerry Falwell performing the most important act of his ministry--outing the children's television cartoon character Tinky Winky.
Rev. Jim Jones gave his followers the finger along with the Kool Aid. Then he put that same finger on the trigger and blew his brains out. It's a shame he didn't pull the trigger first.
Marshall Applegate--remember him?--of the Heaven's Gate cult believed a space ship was trailing the comet, Hale-Bopp, so in the late 1990s, he and many of his fellow travelers donned new Nike's, fresh jumpsuits, ingested cyanide and tied plastic bags over their heads so they could join up with the space ship. Applegate was probably sincere in his beliefs, so I suppose you can't really accuse him of giving his followers the finger. He did, however, take their testicles.
Rev. Jeremiah Wright came into the public eye with Barack Obama's run for the White House. As Obama's minister for 20 years, it is fair to say the good Reverend might have had some influence on him over those years. That's why when some of Wright's less than stellar pronouncements came to light, Obama was forced to distance himself from the man who had performed his wedding ceremony or suffer damage to his own credibility. So in an unintended way, Rev. Wright wound up giving Barack Obama the finger. And I guess I'll take the opportunity to give him the finger here for saying "God bless America? God damn America."
Fred Phelps. What can I say about Fred Phelps. Well, I know what I'd like to say to him, and what with him being such a proponent of freedom of speech, I know he'd just sit back and smile while I said it. Either that or sick his lawyers on me.
Phelps, of course, is the leader of the Westboro Baptist Church, a Topeka, Kansas-based sect of inbred--wait, did I say "inbred?" I have no way of knowing that. Scratch that. Let's just say this sect is ... different. It seems to me they pretty much hate everyone. We know for a fact they hate gays and Jews. They're happy when an American soldier dies and take great pains to attend the funeral whenever possible, spreading their message in the meantime.
Fred has given so many fingers to so many groups and individuals that they appear to be gnawed off at the knuckle as can be clearly seen in the picture.
The latest champion of the lunatic religious community is one Rev. Terry Jones (no relation to Jim Jones, I expect). Terry likes to burn books, disrespect the religion of millions, and put American soldiers at risk, thereby giving them the finger. He obviously has been watching Fred Phelps, because he too wraps himself in the United States Constitution.My best guess is that this guy's ego is every bit as large as those of the other "clergy" on this page, and that he's started having a little trouble distinguishing between "Terry" and "God." He does have a pretty neat 'stache, though.
Finally, we have--
Wait. How did he get in here?
You know, I don't agree with our President on much. But if he's expressing his opinion on religious leaders who are in it for the money, their ego, or the sheer power over others, I'm with him on this one.
Now it's time for a brief homily from Father Haggis:
There are many, many wonderful religious leaders in the world, just as there are honest politicians and non-greedy business people. But as I told my kids years ago, if you happen to be in the same room with any of them, it's always a good idea to keep your eyes open, keep your senses sharp and keep a death grip on your wallet.
Go in peace.