Wednesday, June 17, 2009

June, 2009: T. D. Jakes

From the Associated Press:

DALLAS— Dallas megachurch pastor T.D. Jakes says a last-minute change of plans saved him from being killed in a natural gas explosion at his home.
Jakes told thousands at a Sunday service at The Potter House that he would have been getting dressed near the blast last weeked had he not suddenly had the feeling he shold call off an early morn meeting. The blast ripped through an area of his 15,000-square-foot home did not result in any injuries.
Jakes’ voice shook day during his emotional account of how he and a church member who drove him to the church would have been in the middle of the blast. He said “caskets would have been lined up” in front of the church.
Jakes praised God for keeping him safe and said the close call has made cleanup of the wreckage at his Fort Worth house easier to deal with. He described his situation as “inconvenient, but alive.”
Lt. Kent Worley of the Fort Worth Fire Department said Sunday that his investigators found the blast to be accidental. He said the sunroom where the explosion was centered had a gas-fed pool heater and a large gas-fed barbecue grill.

OK, so I shouldn't belabor the fallacies in the Rev's thinking. Post hoc reasoning is the basis of all, or almost all, claims of miraculous eventualities. That the fire did not erupt in a place Jakes occupied at the moment of its conflagration hardly proves "God" prevented the flames from destroying him, much less that "God" exists in the first place. Jakes is a throwback to the ancient tribe whose king died on the occasion of a solar eclipse. The following summer, crops grew to exraordinary height and volume, feeding all and providing put-away vegies for the winter and enough left over for the following harvest should that fail. The next time there was an eclipse, the tribe became distraught as their king was healthy and showed no signs of illness, so they sacrificed him to the gods.

Perhaps "God" spared Jakes to allow him to take stock of his attitudes. First off there is the matter of a scriptural observation that "a rich man shall no sooner enter the Kingdom than a camel shall pass through the eye of a needle." This sharply contrasts with Jakes' "prosperity gospel." Having come from humble origins and slaving away as a ditch digger prior to his calling, Jakes might righteously claim just reward to a bit of his congregations' hard-earned shekels, but, I mean, really, a $1.7 million, 15,000-square-foot McMansion?! Psssssst, T. D., there are families living in tent cities in California. The average three-bedroom house has about 1,500 square feet. You could put ten such houses in the Jakes place. And I'd wager very, very few of those 1,500-square-foot houses has a gas-fed swimming pool, to say nothing of the barbeque pit, also gas-fed. In all likelihood, one of these contraptions caused the fire, not supernatural forces. Jakes must have forgot to shut off the pit when he took his baby back ribs off the grill.

But there is another possible missed cue. "God" may have wanted to warm Jakes' cold, cold heart vis-a-vis his long-time condemnation of gays and lesbians. "God" may have taken umbrage with Jakes' sermonizing on how homosexuals are a "brokenness" and claiming he would never hire one. Uh, T. D., aren't you going to offer a job to your own son, Jermaine. Last February, Jermaine Donnell Jakes, 29, was caught in a police sting in a public park in Dallas, where he was observed by undercover officers exposing himself, taking his penis out of his pants. The arrest came as a huge embarrassment for Jakes, and in its wake, the more outrageous fundamentalist websites (gcmwatch, jesus-is-savior, and pjmiller) claim that Jakes is becoming a "conduit for false homosexual theology" (whatever that is!).

People in crystal cathedrals shouldn't throw stones, but actually it doesn't make much difference. Jakes has shown his bigoted side. To think that only a generation or so ago Jakes would be preaching somewhere to an all-black congregation and worrying about the same sort of hate that now plagues gays.