When James Brown was gettin’ funky with it—I mean really ‘bout to break it down—he hunched over real exhausted-like and wailed some woeful notes into his mic, which was the cue for Danny Ray to come scurrying out, toss a cape over his shoulders and lead him off stage. That was part of the Godfather of Soul’s showmanship, cheesy as it may have gotten over time. So how come it seems downright brilliant compared to the ridiculousness of Bishop Eddie Long who, in the latest installment of the Crazy Eddie Chronicles, was wrapped in “sacred” Jewish scrolls and elevated from mere mortal to some kind of religious royalty? Unlike JB, he ain’t playing around. He’s absolutely serious. And that makes it all the more scary, and not even the least bit entertaining.
In case you haven’t heard, Long celebrated his coronation during last week’s service at New Birth Missionary Baptist, when Messianic preacher Ralph Messer instructed Eddie’s henchmen to wrap him in a ritual shawl, which Jews call a tallis, saying, “He’s a king. God’s blessed him. He’s a humble man. In him is kingship. In him is royalty. In him was a land of Israel.”
But that wasn’t all. Long was then hoisted on a throne like a pharaoh by four dutiful congregants. “He now is raised up from a commoner to a kingship,” Messer continued during the almost 15 agonizing minutes of the ceremony.
What does a Baptist megachurch pastor have to do with the 312-year-old scroll he was wrapped in? And why again was he sitting pretty on the shoulders of four other Black men? We could all churn out a crap shoot of guesses on that one, particularly since the Holocaust at Auschwitz-Birkenau has about as much to do with Eddie Long and his opportunistic tail as this Messer fellow has to do with the Middle Passage.
All I kept thinking was, this sure is a lot of prophetic speaking over a man who, not even two years ago, was caught taking pseudo seductive pictures of himself in biker shorts and a jheri curl hair piece and imposing them on young boys in his flock. Seems pretty common to me.
You can’t judge a religion by the people who claim to follow it and, on some level, you can’t even judge it by the people who profess to lead it. We will get it wrong at least some of the time—hell, even Dr. King jacked it up. That’s not God or the faith at fault. That’s just the fallibility of humanity. In theory, though, we should be striving to be the best sin-filled, shortcoming-subjected people we can be. And that’s where big ticket preachers like Eddie Long do the church and the whole Christian community a disservice by giving disenfranchised folks even more reason to be disenfranchised, critics even more reason to be critical and disillusioned folks even more reason to keep on keepin’ on in their disillusionment.