In the twinkle of very long, press-on eyelash (I of II)

Back whenever Jim Bakker was getting out of jail, a television news story about his release used some old video from the PTL heydays, and who do I see in those clips but Vestal Goodman leaving some PTL building with Jim and Tammy Faye. I had forgotten until then that Howard and Vestal both “spent several years as regulars” on the PTL Club, as Vestal’s obit recently put it. I’m reminded of all this because a few of you have written to remark about sg performers doing work with Christian ministries like the now-defunct PTL and the currently dominant TBN. As I noted in a previous post, John Starnes does pretty regular work with Benny Hinn these days. And alert reader SR wrote to remind me that the Crabb Family fairly regularly hosts the “Praise the Lord Show” on Paul and Jan Crouch’s TBN (the Crabbs are even listed in the TBN address book). SR, for one, has strong feelings about this: “Someone should tell them that that’s not a good path to trod. Really. Seriously. They don’t need the money or the exposure. They’re doing just fine. EXIT here. Now. Quickly.” I tend to agree. The kinds of operations typified by TBN and Benny Hinn and the 700 Club have always seemed to me to mock the evangelical tradition and impoverish the word “ministry” with their self-indulgent gaudiness and cartoonish excess - overdone cosmetics (honestly, it looks like Jan Crouch has a hair-and-makeup shotgun fired at her before every television appearance); faux-gilded bad-prom sets; self-regarding histrionics in the name of praise and worship. It all seems so obviously aimed at a certain kind of na├»ve or guileless viewer who can be persuaded to send some money on the basis of this showiness (and almost every road inevitably leads to a financial solicitation on these programs). Surely there’s more to it than that, right?

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