Pioneering television con-man and itinerant faith-healer Oral Roberts died today, leaving the world worse off than when he came into it. With the advent of television opportunities to make a fast buck off the gullible abounded, and men like Oral Roberts were quick to take advantage of it.
His death came none too soon for his many victims. It is sad to have to say this about any person, but had his life been cut short say fifty years ago, the world could have been saved a great deal of pain and suffering, and at least one fake institute of higher learning would never have opened.
The great C. E. S. Wood once pictured the scene in heaven when Billy Sunday, the inventor of televangelism, entered. “I’ve been sending a stream of souls up here, like they was played out of a fire nozzle and at a discount, too,” he boasts.
“I never heard of you,” says God.
“Why, this place must be jammed with souls I sent here,” Billy protests.
“No, not one.”
“Where are they?”
“I don’t know. I never heard of you.”
“Are you sure that this is heaven, and you are God?”
“No," says God. “Not sure I am God—but this is heaven … and none of your souls are here.”
“They must be somewhere,” Billy protests.
“Not necessarily,” says God. “The cosmos is so very large, and fanatics are so infinitely small.”
It would take a writer like Wood to do justice to this theme, and I am not him. The colossal waste of a long and misspent life is too appalling to contemplate. The ruin Oral Roberts has spread to the lives he touched is even harder to look at. I won’t mourn the death of this sleazy trickster. There’s nothing left there to mourn; rather I regret that a unique individual who was given the chance to experience the universe and leave something of value behind him instead squandered it selfishly in such a shameful manner. Sad to say, he will not be missed.
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