White Crane #70 – Eric Riley – re:Sources

Charlatans & Chicanery

by Eric Riley

This was an extremely hard list for me to compile, because it seemed to overlap so tightly with the skepticism issue not too long ago.  So, I had to go for a bunch of titles that are brand new, many of which I’ve just stumbled across, and about which I have no firm opinion.  All that said, the first thing that immediately came to mind when thinking about “charlatans and chicanery” was televangelism.  How could anyone forget the amazing amount of scandals and breakdowns that plagued American television preachers in the 80’s and 90’s?  I remember vividly watching the very public breakdowns and crying for forgiveness for various sins; Jimmy Swaggart for sleeping with prostitutes or Jim Bakker for embezzling millions from unwitting PTL followers.  This all came as a shock to my grandmother, who is a very devout Southern Baptist, and who watched these programs for the longest time.  My aunt even bought the playboy magazine where they interviewed Jessica Hahn (there’s a name you probably thought you wouldn’t hear in White Crane), just to show my grandmother the whole dirty truth of the story.  Where am I going with this list?  To the land of believe in me and you shall find the way, only to be dragged through the mud. 


The Pharisees Amongst Us  Rod Brannum {BOOKSURGE}
I just found this book two weeks ago.  Though I’m a little put off by the excessive use of the word “Pharisees” as a catch-all term for hypocrites I get where the author is going.

The Profits of Religion  Upton Sinclair {PROMETHEUS}
The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Jungle (1906) and The Goose-Step (1923) goes after “The Church of Good Society” “The Church of the Conquerors” “The Church of the Servant Girls” “The Church of the Quacks” and all the others, all but naming names, taking no prisoners and leaving a scorched Earth in his path.  A visionary Socialist, Sinclair was ahead of his time.  Sinclair’s critical analysis is an “Emperor has no clothes” must-read.

EX-Gay Research:
Analyzing the Spitzer Study And Its Relation to Science, Religion, Politics & Culture

Jack Drescher, M.D., Kenneth J. Zucker, Ph.D {HARRINGTON PARK PRESS}
Another librarian friend pointed out this series from the Harrington Park Press.  These books are reprints of peer-reviewed journal articles from various Haworth Press publications.  Quality is impeccable, but reads like a journal article.

Faith Beyond Faith Healing: 
Finding Hope After Shattered Dreams

Kimberly Winston  {PARACLETE}

This book focuses on those people who still retain their faith in God after having a failed experience with Faith Healing (from many different traditions). Written by a newspaper journalist, kind of meanders in the reading and doesn’t draw any hard and fast conclusions. 

Prophetic Charisma:  The Psychology of Revolutionary Religious Personalities
Len Oakes  {SYRACUSE}

What is chicanery if not a cult of personality?  This book looks at the psychological aspects of some of the biggest charismatic religious leaders, and how quickly we can go from revolutionary and inspiring to flat-out crazy and dangerous.

Red State, Blue State: Defending the Liberal Jesus and Blue State Morality from Red State Religion and Hypocrisy
John Grevstad   {IUNIVERSE}

The Left Hand of God: Taking Back Our Country from the Religious Right 
Michael Lerner  {HARPER}

These two titles go to my favorite pet peeve, and the main reason why I left Christianity in the first place.  Jesus in my mind was the most liberal, love everyone, feed everyone, social justice personality of all time, but every time I went to church (the Southern Baptist church of my family) all I got was hate and damnation for all these weird political issues.  Hopefully with these books and the burgeoning move for a “religious left” we can all start to at least talk about the things that don’t make sense.

Hitting Hard:  Michelangelo Signorile on George W. Bush, Mary Cheney, Gay Marriage, Tom Cruise, the Christian Right and Sexual Hypocrisy in America
Michelangelo Signorile {CARROLL & GRAF}

I think I’m the only queer person left who hasn’t read anything by Michelangelo Signorile.  But given that I’m on a political hiatus for my sanity I’ll chalk this one up to a future read.  This is a compilation of his previous articles on all sorts of topics.  If you’ve already read his regular work this may not be of interest to you.

The Eyes of Tammy Faye {UNIVERSAL}
I couldn’t resist putting in this bizarre documentary about the life of Tammy Faye Mesner (formerly Bakker).  I saw this in the theater when it came out in, and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.  If only for the sock puppet transitions you should see this movie. 

This is just an excerpt from this issue of White Crane.   We are reader-supported and need you to subscribe to keep this conversation going.  So to read more from this wonderful issue SUBSCRIBE to White Crane. Thanks!

Eric “Fritter” Riley lives in Washington, DC.  A professional librarian by trade and spirit, he is a contributing editor to White Crane.  re:Sources is a regular feature of White Crane.  You can reach him at eric@gaywisdom.org 

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