Editor’s Notebook: Making A Comeback

October 2014, Vol. 241, No. 10

Jeff Share, Editor

$3.25. Remember that number.

These days I avoid watching the evening news. ISIS, Ebola, Ukraine, Putin, Iraq, Gaza, Boko Haram, the Khorasan Group, Ferguson, etc. Some days I wish I could just stay in bed.

However, through the miracle of cable television, I have found someone who understands these troubled times. And he’s even trying to do something about it.

Why it’s Jim Bakker; you remember the defrocked and disgraced televangelist who caught our attention in the late ’80s when we learned about his cheating on wife Tammy Faye with church secretary Jessica Hahn, a tawdry affair he tried to cover up with hush money. He was subsequently charged and convicted of swindling his PTL followers out of millions of dollars for which he spent five years in prison. You can learn all about it or at least his version of those events at a price – by buying his books.

These days he’s back on TV with The Jim Bakker Show. Sitting by his side is new wife Lori, whose own troubled past would make Ms. Hahn blush, but she has now seen the light after meeting and marrying Pastor Jim 15 years ago. He’s balding and 74 with as much chutzpah as ever. The show originates in a Christian retreat and retirement center near Branson, MO and includes a small older audience with plenty of time to spare.

I catch up with his show 3 p.m. on Saturday. I sit transfixed, similar to when I watch wrestling. One week Pastor Jim was hawking the queen-sized “Pillow of Health” that you can get at his gift shop for a $100 “donation.” Then the next week is much more serious. According to his biblical interpretation which he says is borne out by recent world events, the End is closing in on us, but he is ready to help us prepare through the purchase, I mean donation, of a wide array of survival products.

You can order such “Love Gifts” as the Live Warm Suit Jacket suitable for -30-degree F for a $200 “donation”, pants $200, booties $50; mittens $40 and hat $30. All are nicely coordinated for the stylish survivalist. The Bakker’s Dozen Extreme Canteen Kit includes ponchos, survival bottles, thermal blankets, glow stick and whistles for $500. A gourmet’s selection of food includes Kevin’s Krazy Lasagna, End of the World Gravy, End of the World Biscuits, Time of Trouble All Beans (a seven-year supply of 2,228 meals for $3,000 with a 20-year guarantee), and Pastor Jim’s personal favorite, black bean burger powder. You can even get stackable, easy-to-handle survival water blocks with a $20 a month club membership.

Hesitant to write that check? Pastor Jim warns that “Money’s going to be worthless when disaster strikes.” Maybe he knows something here. I know that if Janet and I do happen to survive, we don’t want to be stuck in a cave with him and Lori.

Maybe Pastor Jim needs to get out occasionally and smell some fresh air while there is still time. Remember that $3.25 I noted earlier? That’s the price of an average gallon of gasoline today. We’re in the midst of an energy revolution that Pastor Jim may have overlooked. Oil and gas supplies are plentiful, bringing our country closer to energy independence than it’s been in decades, which even the president acknowledges. Millions of jobs are being created directly and indirectly by this energy boom.

Companies that had fled America are returning because of cheap energy. The Rust Belt is coming alive again; homeowners are saving money with natural gas heat; truckers and motorists who must drive for work no longer fear spiraling gasoline prices and the inflation that results. Our balance of payments continues to improve because of we’re importing less crude oil and increasing our own exports of refined products. That will spur even greater economic growth when large-scale exports begin. Russia’s vise-like grip on European natural gas and our own exposure to the volatile Middle East will diminish. Can you imagine what fuel prices would be like today if we had to rely on that region? Maybe there will come a time when we don’t sacrifice our servicemen and women’s lives for foreign oil.

Should Pastor Jim take that deep breath into reality , he would find that the air is cleaner today even in the beautiful Ozarks, thanks to the increased use of natural gas, and will become even more so as we gradually wean ourselves from coal and eventually crude oil.

It’s worth asking, where we would be today without the energy revolution? That’s a prayer answered.

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