There are a few iconic essentials to a trip to the US, like eat a chili-dog, watch a baseball game and drink copious amounts of coca-cola. I will do the first, have done the last (although it is surprisingly hard in this land of Pepsi) and just missed out on the second (it rained today in Chicago, ruining our plans to go watch the Cubs at Wrigley Field). But I have ticked off another US essential. Unfortunately.
Last night after a 32 hour journey, and following a grilled chicken sandwich from Denny's at 1.30am, I collapsed into bed. Before drifting off to sleep I checked the 30 or so channels on the hotel TV. Sport, news ad re-runs flashed by. And so did at least one TV preacher. Another US 'essential'. What a crock. This guy was all teeth and hair dye. It was like an 80's flashback. He was spruikng (and spruking is the right word) 'miracle spring water'. Amongst other things he promised it could heal cancer and guarantee a financial windfall. It was, he said, 'holy water' - 'anointed water'. And it could be mine for a small donation (I honestly can't remember how much - I was too tired and angry). He threw in a few 'in Jesus names!' to give it all an air of authority that it in no way deserved. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.
Today I did a little research. Thank you Google. Mr Hair-dye Teeth (that's what I will call him - he deserves no further recognition) was found out to be a fraud back in 1987 when it was discovered that his 'words of knowledge' about audience members came from an assistant via an in ear radio transmitter. Whoops. This guy, and way too many like him, is a charlatan and a fraud who brings shame on the church, and pain to those vulnerable ones who he dupes. In the end it is easy - we should cry, not laugh.
At the end of his charade, Mr Hair-dye Teeth invited me to reach out and touch his hands to receive a 'special anointing'. I wanted to reach out my hands alright. Not to receive, but to offer my own very un-Christian blessing.