| Brother Paul, Sister Jan, Brother Hinn, God, and the Folks
Lord have mercy, here they come! What we folks
been a-waitin' for in front of our television screens.
The dang-lucky folks are in the audience, live!
On a giant sound stage that looks like a Las Vegas suite redesigned by a berserk born-again to look like a posh rectory, with fake mosaic windows, puffy sofas, throne-like gilded chairs, and a huge picture of a happy Jesus in splendid robes approvingly surveying it all), Brother Paul, Sister Jan, and Brother Benny Hinn are revving up for the highlight of tonight's "This is Your Day" show from the Costa Mesa Headquarters of the Trinity Broadcasting Station, beamed to more than 768 TV stations, worldwide.
Looking like a would-be gigolo turned mortician, Brother Paul Crouch stands in a dark suit that manages, on him, to look gray, stands there smilin' at the thought of Jesus expected soon. Next to him, wife Sister Jan is jiggling her tambourine and screeching, "Praise Jeez-usss!" at every tremor from Brother Benny Hinn, who is front stage center and preachin'; and Sister Jan weeps in joy and sorrow--and, oh, Lord, mercy does she weep. She cries rivers of tears, canals of tears, lagoons, tributaries, oceans of tears, but there are never enough tears to melt the thick black mascara that sticks to her lashes like clumps of tar. Nor does her jiggling and giggling--she giggles bubbles between tears--perturb a single hair of her gigantic blond wig that sits on her head like a yellow wedding cake melting in the sun; unperturbed even as she flounces about, a 70-year-old country teenager, in ruffly skirts and girly blouses that reveal her impressive God-given upper endowments, shoved into greater prominence by her cruelly pinched waist.
Brother Hinn's doin' his fancy preacher-strut--hop, hop forward, hop back once, hop forward once, hop back twice, reachin' for Ezekiel's angels and speakin' in tongues, punctuating his chat with angels to exhort the congregants before him and beyond the screen:
Send a love donation to Jesus, get a personal reply! Show him how much ya love him! The larger the pledge, the more generous the donation, the bigger the miracle! Give your savings, and show God there's no limit to your love! Pledge, give, give, give, pledge, love God and Jesus, pledge!
"Give!" begs Sister Jan, weeping and giggling. "Please give with your generous heart to spread the message of Jesus!"
"Show how much you love him!" pleads Brother Paul.
Brother Hinn halts midway between a hop-hop back preacher-strut! "Stop!" he orders.
Is Jesus here and Benny's asking him to wait until he's through with his strut? No. Brother Hinn has just had a vision of a man with a critical heart condition--the man may drop dead now, that serious--and he's moving away from his home TV.
"Don't turn your back on Jesus!" Brother Hinn shouts--and waits. "Good! Now touch the screen, touch my hands!" He reaches out with his hands, which, in closeup, reveal bristly dark hairs. "If you make that pledge that the Lord knows you've been withholding, God will heal your heart tonight!"
The man does the former, and Brother Benny trumpets the latter. "He is healed!"
Off stage but revealed by the camera, a squadron of drab volunteers for Jesus answer telephone calls from good righteous folk offering donations in response to the long-distance miracle. Grant me mine! Inspired, Sister Jan does a skirt-flapping jig, while Brother Paul clenches his hands and thrusts his eyes heavenward basking in awe of the Lord's and Brother Hinn's miracles.
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Original material by John Rechy appears
frequently on these pages.