aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,

One born every minute

Elmer Gantry is based upon the career of Aimee Semple McPherson, a famous evangelist who was accused of having a complicated relationship with the truth. In a move based on her life I vaguely remember, the character based on her is off for a romantic night with her fellow grifter/revivalist boyfriend. She says to him, as they embrace, "Tell me a big, fat lie and make me believe it."

The movie was forgettable -- as you can see, I can't remember it more than that; indeed, I don't think I actually ever saw it, but may have only read about it in a review -- but that line has stood out in my memory ever since.

Tell me a big, fat lie and make me believe it.

The world is full of religious leaders who believe in nothing but their ability to induce "faith" by their preaching. Their name is Elmer Gantry. And the world is full of politicians who believe in the same. They are the Voice of Saruman. (And, of course, there are those whose politics is religion, and vice versa.) Sellers of snake oil. Tribunes of the people who despise those they claim to lift up, purveyors of virtues they do not live by. Parasites -- and sometimes, predators.

There are Republicans like that. And there are Democrats like that. Over the years, I have noticed that Republicans are more likely to hold their Gantrys and Sarumans accountable than are Democrats -- but there are always examples one can point to if one wants to indulge in whataboutism.

The thing is, there are also always people who want to be told that big, fat lie. Who know or suspect that it's all fake, but they want to be made to feel that they're on the side of the angels when they give to or vote for these people.

In the end, we get the leaders we deserve. God help us.

  • Mene, mene

    I have made the case before that church budgets are a very poor indicator of spiritual productivity. The actual work product of the church is the…

  • On Baptism, Part II

    In the first part of this essay, we reviewed the practice of baptism in the New Testament and the Early Church, up until the High Middle Ages. By…

  • On Baptism, Part I

    I come from a part of the country where Baptists and Restorationists (e.g., Campbellites, inter alia) form a big part of the religious landscape. I…

  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.