Shakespeare, a Horse with Wings and a Holy Helicopter

O, for a horse with wings! Cymbeline Shakespeaare“O, for a horse with wings!”

(Cymbeline, act 3, sc. 2)

Comment.  If avarice were not the blindest of human passions, the motives of the topic and egregiously Christian pastor in Texas might excite our curiosity. That avarice seems to prevail in his Christian mind over other Christian sentiments will be shortly documented.

On the other hand, there is a signal propensity for the odd to come out of Texas, from the paradoxical, to the hyperbolical to the absurd to the criminal.
More in general, things that are grossly out of proportion either with logic, common sense or even emotions.
A few examples.

Texas holds the record for the largest number of judicial executions. Kennedy was killed in Texas according to an explanation that is as plausible as Winnie the Pooh. In Waco (nomen omen) the FBI burned alive 80 people, including many women and children. And this to capture one of the regular “religious” gurus whom they could have easily nabbed as he walked down the street (of Waco).

Texas holds the strongest coalition supporting the teaching of “creationism”, on the ground that evolution is a communist theory promoted by atheists.

For our international readers, “creationism” means that God created the earth 6200 years ago, after which he blew life into a clay shape that looked like Adam. A rib of whom was adequate to create Eve (what do you expect for a rib? – as unorthodox misogynists snigger).

Texas gave us Enron, trailblazer and historical icon of corporate fraud by the billions. And Texas gave us the Bushes, the first of whom played golf and laughed on corporate TV, as the Yankee Air Force destroyed Baghdad in the first so-called Gulf War (better called the First Gulf Slaughter). The second Bush – Ivy League university graduate who could not speak without a teleprompter – laughed as he searched under the dinner table for “weapons of mass destruction” – a supposedly humorous joke to entertain his cronies. Meaning that he knew all too well that the business of the WMS was a charade. A charade for the benefit of the Simpsonized American masses, to justify the second Gulf Slaughter. A slaughter resulting in the killing of more than one million Iraqis plus a few thousand American soldiers. Not to mention tortures, rapes and the wasting of trillions to enrich crony contributors and criminal mercenary outfits.

We could continue with examples but the reader will have got the idea.

Thank God, in the case at hand, it’s not a matter of murder but a matter of God, or better, of one of his ministers.

A pastor in Texas emailed a flyer to his flock asking them to donate money to replace the blades of his helicopter.

Yes indeed. I.V. Hilliard is a bishop of the New Light Christian Center Church, which has six franchises in Texas. The helicopter, says the bishop, needs maintenance like any other vehicle. The flyer states (sic): “We have an urgent transportation need that the Lord said can be an opportunity for you to see His favor and His wisdom released to help you.”

I am not making this up. Hilliard suggests that the “Aviation Department” of New Light could get a deal on new blades if the ministry collects the money right away. In exchange for money, he said, the Lord will issue a favor to congregants that might help them obtain their own dream vehicle. He promises that “when you sow a $52 transportation favor seed believing in 52 days or 52 weeks you will experience breakthrough favor!”

The helicopter blades cost $50,000. The church’s Bell Jet Ranger Helicopter is said to be worth $1 million and is used to transport Hilliard (and wife) from church to church.

Hilliard and his wife Bridget personally own a private jet, a $2 million Hawker. And New Light owns the hanger where it is housed, valued at $3 million.

But another Texan Pastor, Saiko Woods, with a smaller congregation, grumbled when he read  the flyer. “If you saw this man’s home and the way he lives – he said – he could easily pay out $50 k$ out of your own pocket.”

According to Pastor Wood, communications like Hilliard’s call for helicopter money send the wrong message and may turn worshippers away from the mega-churches.

But, clearly, Pastor Wood is mistaken and has not understood “Protestant Ethics and the Spirit of Capitalism”, nor he read Weber’s seminal book by the same title. If he had, he would know that if a Christian is rich, it means that God has anointed him and has already reserved for him a front seat in Paradise in the afterlife. Whereas if a Christian is poor, God does not like him and he will end up in hell. A theory that can be condensed as “If you are poor, God socks it to you in this and in the next life.”

Hilliard allegedly responded to the criticism as follows, “New Light Church World Outreach and Worship Centers, Inc. regularly make appeals to Special Partners, Members and friends of the church for the support of various programs and services. Occasionally, it is not uncommon for an appeal to be directed toward specific Kingdom projects or specific needs. In this instance, the appeal was directed to our Special Partners and friends who are familiar with the Biblical principles upon which we base our faith. We sincerely regret if anyone was offended by this appeal in that it was not our intent.”

The story (I wish it were one) reminds me of the Church of Father Deuteronomy Divine, who, on the radio, called for donations with an iron-clad “money back guarantee”. “If I don’t like your money – said Father Deuteronomy Divine – I will send it back.”

To recover from all of the above, I need a Shakespearean quote, a brandy and a book.

** The quotation applies to Bishop Hilliard, “Thy sin is not accidental but a trade.”
(Measure for Measure, act 3, sc. 1).
** The brandy will drown my wish to believe that the above is not true.
** And the book is Bertrand Russel’s, “Why I am not a Christian.”

In the play. Leonatus writes that he has arrived in Milford-Haven and Imogen is anxious to reach and see him.

Image source

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