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Oral Roberts is dead at 91
December 15, 2009 1:36 PM   Subscribe

God has called Oral Roberts home.
posted by yhbc (126 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
If you send me one hundred dollars each I'll see if I can get him back.
posted by Babblesort at 1:38 PM on December 15, 2009 [43 favorites]


I bet he's real surprised to find out where he is right now.
posted by allen.spaulding at 1:39 PM on December 15, 2009 [69 favorites]


.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 1:39 PM on December 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


$
posted by CynicalKnight at 1:40 PM on December 15, 2009 [14 favorites]


So Fundamentally Oral Bill finally raised enough money, eh?
posted by Never teh Bride at 1:40 PM on December 15, 2009 [7 favorites]


I bet he's real surprised to find out where he is right now.

My bet is that he's incapable of being surprised, due to that whole "dead" thing.
posted by explosion at 1:42 PM on December 15, 2009 [28 favorites]


The Twitter trending topic for this is "Evangelist Oral" which, of course, costs you $20, same as in town.
posted by JoanArkham at 1:42 PM on December 15, 2009 [8 favorites]


I thought this headline meant God had taken up residence in the person of Oral Roberts.
posted by scrowdid at 1:42 PM on December 15, 2009 [13 favorites]


i guess he's gonna discover truth is out of style!

oh, and .
posted by lester's sock puppet at 1:42 PM on December 15, 2009


I... kind of thought he was there already?
posted by Madamina at 1:43 PM on December 15, 2009


If this comment doesn't receive 8 million favorites by the end of the month, mathowie will call me home.
posted by Atom Eyes at 1:44 PM on December 15, 2009 [29 favorites]


Favorite biographical tidbit :

Roberts became a traveling faith healer after ending his college studies without a degree. According to a TIME Magazine profile of 1972, Roberts originally made a name for himself with a large mobile tent "that sat 3,000 on metal folding chairs" where "he shouted at petitioners who did not respond to his healing."

Now can shout at self . . .
posted by bearwife at 1:45 PM on December 15, 2009


I miss Bloom County.
posted by Elmore at 1:45 PM on December 15, 2009 [9 favorites]


Can we check the caller id?
posted by srboisvert at 1:46 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh thank God.
posted by clarknova at 1:46 PM on December 15, 2009


Good riddance.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:48 PM on December 15, 2009


I bet he's real surprised to find out where he is right now.

I have always strongly suspected that he was actually an atheist, given that he couldn't with any sort of conscience do the things he did if he actually believed in the God he claimed to believe in. So, assuming he's somewhere right now, I, too, bet he's real surprised about that.
posted by The World Famous at 1:48 PM on December 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


So the fellow a couple doors down is talking to someone from Marketing in the hallway:

"See? They die the same as anybody else. I'm telling you, if God wants me to believe in one of these characters, he should leave them here a couple hundred years. That'll get my attention."

And .
posted by Pragmatica at 1:48 PM on December 15, 2009 [18 favorites]


Meh. It's not like he was expecting to not-die.
posted by GuyZero at 1:49 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


That's too bad. Despite not having any religion, I found his show pretty entertaining.

.
posted by ServSci at 1:50 PM on December 15, 2009


I remember when the whole "call me home" thing was going on in the late '80s and, oddly, at the same time these blue reflector buttons were being installed everywhere on the streets. (I later found out they indicate fire hydrants.) I asked a buddy what they were for and he quickly remarked that they're all over the country and if you look at them from real high up they make an arrow pointing to Tulsa and spell out "LAND HERE"!

That kid was brilliant...
posted by TigerMoth at 1:50 PM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


But will his corpse stink?
posted by Capt Jingo at 1:51 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I may have jumped the gun, but MeTa
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:52 PM on December 15, 2009


Well, he tried at times to do good works. And at times he seemed like a money-grubbing shyster of a preacher, but religions require money to do good works so my annoyance is a petty thing. I compare him to someone like Billy Graham, and he comes off very second-rate, but ... what point is there criticizing him now?

He was neither uniquely evil or uniquely good. But he's gone - and whether the world is better or worse off remains to be seen. It doesn't really much matter either way.
posted by JB71 at 1:53 PM on December 15, 2009


It's the male organ!
posted by MysteriousMan at 1:54 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, he tried at times to do good works.

Citation, please.
posted by explosion at 1:56 PM on December 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


Buttsex Michaels still hanging on by a thread.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 1:56 PM on December 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. - Matthew 7:22
posted by Joe Beese at 1:57 PM on December 15, 2009 [17 favorites]


Really jb71? What, pray tell, good works did he do?
posted by aspo at 1:57 PM on December 15, 2009


.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:59 PM on December 15, 2009


The big question, to my mind, is whether his sainted body will defy decomposition, as St. Francis Xavier's has since it was brought to Goa in 1554. If he's still got recognizable facial features by 2560 or so, I just might be persuaded to join his flock.
posted by gompa at 2:00 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


So what is the opposite of the MeFi "."? Because that's what I would like to post.
posted by briank at 2:01 PM on December 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Why do I get this vision of an 800-foot tall Jesus scraping a pulpy mass off of His sandals?
posted by benzenedream at 2:02 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Roberts became a traveling faith healer after ending his college studies without a degree. According to a TIME Magazine profile of 1972, Roberts originally made a name for himself with a large mobile tent "that sat 3,000 on metal folding chairs" where "he shouted at petitioners who did not respond to his healing."

I submit to you that in the rural south in 1935, these things were seen as the only diversion from an otherwise arduous and unforgiving life. I doubt that in 1935, when Roberts was pitching his tent all over the South, that radios were even in every home. And when he started his televangelism in 1955, TV was very much a local affair. Much like AM radio in rural america is dominated still by preachers, TV was back then. Network TV was dominated by rural programming into the 70's, when the Rural Purge swept country TV fare aside for more urban and suburban programming.

I think Roberts's life's arc follows a broader ascent of regional values and cultural mores into national prominence in the post-war era, followed by the ultimate absorption of those by a more homogenized, national cultural sensibility driven by a monolithic media complex and a more unified national identity relative to the world.
posted by Pastabagel at 2:03 PM on December 15, 2009 [12 favorites]


Oral Roberts, silent at last.
posted by Lynsey at 2:03 PM on December 15, 2009


If Oral-guy turns out to be the last Very Famous Person to die in 2009, it would make a year in which so many good people died a little less awful.
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:04 PM on December 15, 2009


So what is the opposite of the MeFi "."? Because that's what I would like to post.
posted by briank


!
posted by Babblesort at 2:06 PM on December 15, 2009


Luke 4:12.
posted by availablelight at 2:06 PM on December 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


So what is the opposite of the MeFi "."?

The opposite of a "." is the other twenty-seven or so days of the month.
posted by flarbuse at 2:07 PM on December 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


It is is not yet known if the black sheep of the family, his brother Anal, will make a public statement.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 2:08 PM on December 15, 2009 [19 favorites]


God has called Oral Roberts home.

Do you really thing God would live in such a dump?
posted by Burhanistan at 2:08 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


So what is the opposite of the MeFi "."? Because that's what I would like to post.

Since "." means moment of silence, how about,

Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise. Psalms 98.4
posted by bearwife at 2:08 PM on December 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


It is is not yet known if the black sheep of the family, his brother Anal, will make a public statement.

Ladies and gentlemen, fellow servants before Jeebus, pppppppppppbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbtttttthhhHHHHHHHHHH
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 2:09 PM on December 15, 2009


So what is the opposite of the MeFi "."?

*
posted by The World Famous at 2:10 PM on December 15, 2009 [7 favorites]


_
posted by Cranberry at 2:12 PM on December 15, 2009


From the article on Oral Roberts University (ORU for short):
His ministry hit upon rocky times in the 1980s. There was controversy over his City of Faith medical center, a $250 million investment that eventually folded, and Roberts' widely ridiculed proclamation that God would "call me home" if he failed to meet a fundraising goal of $8 million. A law school he founded also was shuttered.

Semiretired in recent years and living in California, he returned to Tulsa, Okla., in October 2007 as scandal roiled Oral Roberts University. His son, Richard Roberts, who succeeded him as ORU president, faced allegations of spending university money on shopping sprees and other luxuries at a time the institution was more than $50 million in debt.

Richard Roberts resigned as president in November 2007, marking the first time since Oral Roberts University was chartered in 1963 that a member of the Roberts family would not be at its helm. The rocky period for the evangelical school was eased by billionaire Oklahoma City businessman Mart Green donated $70 million and helped run the school in the interim, pledging to restore the public's trust. By the fall of 2009, things were looking up, with officials saying tens of millions of dollars worth of debt had been paid off and enrollment was up slightly.
I like to imagine that his law school was called Oral Roberts Law-tastic Youth. Unfortunately, from this article, it sounds like the law school was part of ORU. The transfer of law schools educated key lawyers in the Bush administration DOJ.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:15 PM on December 15, 2009


So what is the opposite of the MeFi "."?

•
posted by MysteriousMan at 2:15 PM on December 15, 2009


Er, that should read "from the article, on ORU..."
posted by filthy light thief at 2:16 PM on December 15, 2009


**

* the opposite of "."
posted by SansPoint at 2:16 PM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


The rocky period for the evangelical school was eased by billionaire Oklahoma City businessman Mart Green donated $70 million and helped run the school in the interim,

a fool and his money.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 2:16 PM on December 15, 2009


Look at the bright side - this puts Joe Liebermann one person closer to the front of the line.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 2:21 PM on December 15, 2009 [7 favorites]


I have always strongly suspected that he was actually an atheist, given that he couldn't with any sort of conscience do the things he did if he actually believed in the God he claimed to believe in.

So, he does things without conscience that go against the teachings of his god, and this makes you suspect he's an atheist? Come the fuck on. That doesn't even hold up to the tiniest bit of scrutiny. Atheists are not homogeneous—atheism is a lack of belief in god, not a set of beliefs—and the implication that pronounced hypocrisy and a lack of conscience and morality/ethics is a tell-tale sign of atheism is offensive and ignorant.
posted by defenestration at 2:22 PM on December 15, 2009 [21 favorites]


8 mil bought him 22 more years . . . not bad if you can swing it.
posted by MasonDixon at 2:22 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I knew the rainbow flag flying over the Castro looked a little smarter and brighter today.
posted by Nelson at 2:23 PM on December 15, 2009


Oral will teach you all about the birds and the bees (warning: horrifyingly insane.)
posted by naju at 2:24 PM on December 15, 2009


Huh. His first name was Granville. I think I'd prefer to be called Granville.
posted by electroboy at 2:26 PM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Thank heavens that MC 900 Ft. Jesus is still alive and kicking.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:27 PM on December 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


availablelight: "Luke 4:12."

Titus 1:10-11.
posted by boo_radley at 2:28 PM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Obligatory.
posted by Evilspork at 2:28 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


To pay proper homage to the Death of Oral, I shall lick a 9 volt battery.
posted by Tube at 2:31 PM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]



posted by schwa at 2:34 PM on December 15, 2009


A friend of mine went and got a picture of himself below the hands. I asked him why.
I never got an answer, but it's sad (not really)that they'll be tearing these down(hopefully) soon. I never got to see them. (good riddance)
posted by Balisong at 2:36 PM on December 15, 2009


So, he does things without conscience that go against the teachings of his god, and this makes you suspect he's an atheist? Come the fuck on. That doesn't even hold up to the tiniest bit of scrutiny. Atheists are not homogeneous—atheism is a lack of belief in god, not a set of beliefs—and the implication that pronounced hypocrisy and a lack of conscience and morality/ethics is a tell-tale sign of atheism is offensive and ignorant.

I suspect that he didn't believe in God at all. Not because he seemed not to have a conscience. But because his actions vis-a-vis his alleged God seemed to indicate that he didn't actually believe in that God.

A lack of conscience and morality/ethics is not a tell-tale sign of atheism. An absolute and total failure to follow one's purported beliefs is a tell-tale sign that those beliefs are only purported, and not actually held.
posted by The World Famous at 2:37 PM on December 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


*
Even if he weren't an asshole, I'd still be wary of anyone who would name a university after himself.

On second though, go Potate U.
posted by The Potate at 2:37 PM on December 15, 2009


Thank heavens that MC 900 Ft. Jesus is still alive and kicking.

Mark Griffin seems pretty cool. A fan posted a video for the excellent While the City Sleeps, and he posted a comment (about 10 months ago, if you want to search for it) expressing gratitude that anyone was still listening to a 20-year-old song.
posted by maxwelton at 2:46 PM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


If you grow up in Tulsa, you have to make your peace with Oral Roberts eventually, lest you deal with the endlessness of the snark.

Was he a huckster? Of course he was, but maybe the worst kind -- a huckster who believed his own BS. He didn't share Robert Tilton's outright graft or Jim and Tammy's opulence, and he never had or desired the political stage in the way Falwell or Robertson did. He was out to help people and advance the Lord, and if along the way he lavished some of the money on himself or his family, well, it was part of what a good Christian did.

He really did think he was doing God's work in building City Of Faith. Trust me, everyone else in Tulsa thought he was absolutely nuts. The city at the time had four major hospitals serving a city of 300,000 and a region of about 1 million. City Of Faith was larger than any of them. Of course, the idea was to bring people in from around the world to be healed by faith and advanced treatment, and the donors would generously subsidize the costs. Having local patients didn't matter.

So it was a financial albatross from the day it opened. It was the Oil Bust of 1982-87 that really put City Of Faith under. The price of a barrel of oil plunged from $40 to $9 in just a few months, which jumpstarted Reaganonomics at the cost of a severe recession engulfing the oil states. (There are actually some parallels between that period and the current recession.) Oil loans went bad, the banks and S&Ls failed left and right, and all the rich oil baron wives no longer had walking around money they could send to Tulsa. And this led, eventually, to the "God will call me home" speech. At the last minute, a Florida greyhound track owner wrote Oral a check that for the moment patched the financial hole. As Oral was rejoicing on TV in the check, lightning struck the Prayer Tower he was in.

By the next year City Of Faith had closed along with the medical school (which had lost its accreditation in the financial crisis). It took about a decade before ORU had any credibility again, and that was short-lived as the allegations of Richard Roberts pocketing cash from the till came out.

But it is hard to distinguish between Oral Roberts The Huckster and Oral Roberts The Healer. He wanted to be both. Ultimately he believed what he was saying, and that was his fatal flaw.

Eventually, you make your peace with him. You either write him off as a huckster or a misguided healer. Either way, he's dead now, and if he's in heaven he has a lot to answer for.

But any good Tulsan would tell you Richard Roberts, his money-and-power intoxicated son, made Oral look like a saint.
posted by dw at 2:48 PM on December 15, 2009 [43 favorites]


Obligatory.

More appropriate.
posted by dw at 2:52 PM on December 15, 2009


I doubt that in 1935, when Roberts was pitching his tent all over the South, that radios were even in every home.

Apparently so! A little under 60% nationally at that point, presumably lower in the sticks, where there were fewer stations broadcasting, though always rising. Interesting subject.

(thank you dw, most interesting. The man was mostly a name to me.)
posted by IndigoJones at 2:57 PM on December 15, 2009


I meant for the first comment, but the second one is pretty damn good also.
posted by IndigoJones at 2:57 PM on December 15, 2009


Yeah, Ol Oral was insane, and had the accounting morals of a carny, but good lord, compared to Richard Roberts, Oral was a saint.

Still, the lightning strike on the tower was one of the few moments in my life where I really, really, really believed in God. (Well, Thor...but ya know, you take what you can get.)
posted by dejah420 at 2:58 PM on December 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Christ, what a rich asshole.
Christ? What? (a rich asshole).
posted by mattbucher at 2:59 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Good riddance. 91 is a long life for a parasite who fed on people's faith for his own personal gain. Typically, I'd restrain my hostility as a measure of respect for the grieving family, but by all accounts, they fully enjoyed the benefits of his hypocrisy as well.
posted by quin at 2:59 PM on December 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Eh, as far as televangelists go he wasn't so bad. I realize that's damning him with faint praise, but really he wasn't awful.

IIRC, and I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong, he never really did much that was reprehensible beyond the usual faith healing scams, misuse of church funds for a lavish lifestyle, etc. I don't recall him being particularly virulently anti-gay, or even really being deeply politically involved. Heck, ORU doesn't even ban interracial dating.

So, yeah, I can't say I'll miss him, but mostly he gets a big meh. I can't think of anything he's done that I really hated.
posted by sotonohito at 3:01 PM on December 15, 2009


You know, I'm not a big fan of Evangelicals, generally speaking.

But isn't just a bit crass and petty to come into an obit thread just to snark and sneer at the man's memory? I hope that all of you doing so, or nodding in agreement with those who do, aren't too quick to bemoan uncouth behavior in the obit thread of someone you admire.

Hypocrisy really is the sort of thing good people should avoid.
posted by oddman at 3:02 PM on December 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


isn't just a bit crass and petty

Oh baby, it's all sorts of crass and petty. And delicious. I guess Oral Roberts was less hateful than some of his fundie brethren, but he was also a bigger thief.

Also, crass? Oral Roberts knows crass.
posted by Nelson at 3:09 PM on December 15, 2009


Look, the guy was kid of a jerk and a hate monger and aroused all kinds of terrible notions in people, but he was still a man. Broken, misguided, afraid, proud etc etc. Who among is not those things?

Is the world a better place sans Oral Roberts? Maybe. But he's not just a punching bag or a cautionary tale. God or Life or Karma or whom/whatever speaks to us in lot of weird ways- Perhaps the point was to see his failings in ourselves. By taking to the man's DEATH THREAD and slandering him into the ground, are you really doing any better than he was in his life?

It's fine to talk about the many, many, many things Oral Roberts did or said that offended you in some way. I've got my own list about two miles long. But just keep it constructive.

Both "." as well as a touch of "Good riddance", may he find whatever eluded him in life.
posted by GilloD at 3:11 PM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


I see your Luke 4:12 and raise you a Matthew 6:6.

In a reluctant and conflicted way, I'm half-grateful that charlatans of his sort exist. In my more charitable (and inebriated) speculations, I like to entertain the hypothesis that opportunists of Roberts' ilk just happened to stumble upon the Problem of Evil (prior to dropping out of bible "college," evidently) and thereafter dedicated themselves to testing the faithful by embodying the very vices and assumptions their presumptive world-view most obviously condemns and holds, respectively. I mean, what better way to test the flock then to send your only begotten son to Earth with the message that the secret to a moral life is to sell all of your material possessions and give the proceeds to the most destitute here on earth. Then, when the rabble can't deal with the implications, you let them sacrifice your son (and pass it off as a scapegoating ritual for their own moral failings) and send a constant stream of grifters and hacks and con-men who tempt the flock with superficially self-serving interpretations of what was basically your rigorously altruistic moral teachings? It's like Borges' (whimsically fictional?) suggestion that the real Messiah wasn't the carpenter's son (no, that's too easy - one afternoon of suffering in exchange for ALL of humanity's innumerable transgressions, with eternal glory to boot?) but the putative (and theologically indispensable) "traitor" who made the whole deal possible to begin with.

Judas Iscariot, pray for us.

Oral Roberts, rot in the twisted hell you so gleefully promoted.

And good luck with that needle's eye, you fucking hypocrite.
posted by joe lisboa at 3:11 PM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oh and this reminds me, Jesse Helms has been dead for a year and a half now!
posted by Nelson at 3:12 PM on December 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Hypocrisy really is the sort of thing good people should avoid.

Upon preview: my point exactly.
posted by joe lisboa at 3:12 PM on December 15, 2009


he never really did much that was reprehensible beyond the usual faith healing scams, misuse of church funds for a lavish lifestyle, etc.

So we're setting the bar somewhere below mayhem and somewhere above embezzlement? Just checking.

.?
posted by joe lisboa at 3:18 PM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Almighty God, says a handsome, snappily dressed Oklahoman, has personally asked him, in audible tones, to win a million souls by July 1, 1956. This theophanous request—especially with a deadline—might give pause to many a lesser man, but it is made to order for the special talents of the Rev. Oral Roberts, 37-year-old evangelist and faith healer and the U.S.'s newest religious comet.
Reads the opening paragraph of a short Time Magazine article about Oral Roberts dated July 11, 1955.
For the record.
posted by vapidave at 3:27 PM on December 15, 2009


I'm pretty conflicted about Oral Roberts, largely because like dw (who said most of what I wanted to say, and better than I was going to) I spent some time in Tulsa growing up. I think it makes more sense to compare him to Howard Hughes than to Jimmy Swaggart, to be honest. He was weird, megalomaniacal, definitely crazy, and very skilled at a number of things which allowed him his lifestyle. Before moving to Oklahoma, Roberts was a punchline to me, and he still is, for the most part.

But as egotistical and batshitinsane as he was, he did some grand good things and tried and failed to do others. Oral Roberts University, for instance, isn't at all Liberty University or Bob Jones University. It's about as secular as a Christian University could ever expect to be (the only real flexing of religious muscle I remember from my time there was refusing to let Marilyn Manson play a show at the school's Moody Coliseum, and there was a bit of debate around that one). Moreover, in Northeast Oklahoma, you get a hell of a lot of kids without much of a chance in life. ORU was, while not a great college, at least a decent one that they could get into and afford. It helped a lot of classmates of mine.

Likewise, the intent behind the City of Faith Medical and Research Center was good, if misguided and bizarrely executed. If you check the link, you'll see the three gold-plated towers, built to the length, width and depth cubic specifications of the Ark. As dw said, Tulsa isn't wanting for hospitals, but apparently he wanted to create a global center for medical research (and, um... faith healing).

When he staged his god-awful death-a-thon, it was in order to make the hospital financially solvent again. I'm not trying to defend his actions here, but he seems to me like a man fully invested in his own delusions, if only because, if it were a hoax, somebody who was as good at convincing people to give him money as Oral Roberts was wouldn't have been so damned stupid and crazy about it.

And then he also commissioned a giant statue of his own praying hands. Fully 90% of Tulsa's architectural weirdness can be attributed directly to Oral Roberts.

He was far from perfect, corrupt, hypocritical even if he didn't comprehend it in himself, a huckster to be sure, but not necessarily a charlatan. I don't like him, and I'm all about the jokes being made here, but the guy did spend immense amounts of money building a school and a hospital, and at least for that, if nothing else he did in his long, long life, I'm giving him a

.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:45 PM on December 15, 2009 [16 favorites]


Titus 1:10-11

Metafilter: For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group.
posted by EarBucket at 3:50 PM on December 15, 2009


If this guy God calls his home, he isn't going to be there, cuz he's dead. Duh!
posted by tjd05404 at 3:57 PM on December 15, 2009


I own a small, old book...an early autobiography of the man. It's from the fifties or early sixties I think (can't locate it on the shelf at the moment, but since he came thru here during that time period, I suspect that's how my family came in possession of it.)

He tells tales of such things as how he and his brother Vaden used to get in trouble as children while his daddy preached at brush arbor meetings (yes, Oral's dad preached as well) and how once, Vaden literally nailed one of Oral's hands to an old stump. He shares how he left home as a teenager-and wound up being brought back deathly ill with TB. He describes God healing HIM at a tent revival held by some preacher or other (I don't remember who) and he describes how he himself turned back to the Lord and wound up preaching himself. (He stuttered as a child and all his relatives-except his parents- never thought he'd amount to anything.)

He also told some tales about being on the road, one of which is about how here in my home town he held an extra tent service for black people since at that time apparently they weren't permitted to attend the same meetings as the white folks.

Quite an interesting read, really.

I can't say I was a real fan of Oral in his later years but I have respect for many, many things he has done.

Rest in peace, brother Oral. See you on the other side one day...
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:15 PM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Sooooeeeeeeee!!!!
posted by fleetmouse at 4:21 PM on December 15, 2009


Titus 1:10-11
Groan.
"To live at all is miracle enough."
posted by tellurian at 4:23 PM on December 15, 2009


joe lisboa wrote So we're setting the bar somewhere below mayhem and somewhere above embezzlement?

For a televangelist? Yeah. It's a low bar, but we're dealing with televangelists here.

Like I said, not praising the man, but others of his ilk were a lot worse. Compare and contrast, for example, Pat Robertson. When he dies I'll be offending all the "please don't crap in the obit thread" people.

So yeah, he doesn't get a dot from me, but he doesn't get the finger either. Overall I'd say my reaction was, and remains, "meh".
posted by sotonohito at 4:34 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've got nothing to say regarding Oral himself, but...

I spent some time growing up in Tulsa, too, and I met some female ORU students at a bar once. My friends and I were insanely curious about what it was like to go to school there and questioned them all night. They hated that they had to be back on campus every night at 10pm but the male students could stay out until after midnight. I also recall them saying they had to worship at the chapel there as part of class but that they mostly just slept off their hangovers during service.

I have such fond memories of wandering about the campus' space-aged architecture with my friends, making nuisances of ourselves in the prayer tower, and taking photos with THE HANDS. (We used to say the hands held the missing genitalia of the Tulsa Driller statue.) Yeah, we were dipshits.

I had completely forgotten about the lightening strike during the "call-me-home-a-thon." I hope I can find it on YouTube.
posted by Kloryne at 5:05 PM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


So yeah, he doesn't get a dot from me, but he doesn't get the finger either. Overall I'd say my reaction was, and remains, "meh".

Fair point and well put.
posted by joe lisboa at 5:05 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


A late year hit for the kids over at http://stiffs.com - funny obituary too:

http://www.stiffs.com/stiffs
posted by Kellster at 5:27 PM on December 15, 2009



God has called Oral Roberts home.

As much as I enjoy idioms of this sort, IMO I would say it was the lack of God that called.
posted by uni verse at 5:29 PM on December 15, 2009


Oh and this reminds me, Jesse Helms has been dead for a year and a half now!

Oh yeah, hey, sweet!
posted by infinitywaltz at 5:33 PM on December 15, 2009


I bet he wasn't too happy when Little Oral Annie became famous.
posted by bwg at 5:39 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, y'all are just a bunch of bitter heathens who will surely roast in the fires hell. I'm clutching my prayer cloth, dabbing my tears.
posted by fuse theorem at 5:59 PM on December 15, 2009


.
posted by Blasdelb at 6:18 PM on December 15, 2009


Funny, I know a guy named Granville. I texted him twice. He didn't answer. Yet.
posted by swooz at 6:23 PM on December 15, 2009


Vintage Oral Roberts, 1955:
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:55 PM on December 15, 2009


^ I am so starting a Texas-fried punk rock band called "Anal Roberts".
posted by dunkadunc at 7:22 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Like dw and Navelgazer, I grew up in Tulsa and have some really conflicted feelings about growing up with Oral. For starters, the ORU campus looked like something out of science fiction. As a kid, it was hard not be fascinated by such radically different architecture in a world of strip malls and suburbs.

I have a bit of a personal connection, too. When I was very young, my father was a (banking) business associate of Oral Roberts, and one of Oral's grandsons was a close friend of mine throughout elementary and junior high. I remember one particularly surreal summer afternoon visiting my friend at the tightly-guarded Roberts family compound of sprawling suburban mansions. My friend showed me his grandfather's bedroom. There was a bank of white tape recorders above the bed. "He can turn them all on with one button," my friend said. "That way, if he has an inspiration in a dream, he'll have multiple copies."

We spent the afternoon swimming in a pool overlooking the ORU campus. Later, while we were having snacks in the kitchen, Oral walked in from a day on the golf course, golf bag in tow. He set down his bag, shook my hand, remembered me from when I was much younger, and welcomed me. No Jesus talk, thankfully.

My friend wasn't into the family business or religion, at least at that age, but was close enough to his grandfather to be convinced that Oral regularly had some sort of "otherworldly" or hallucinatory experience. So did my dad (not a religious man), who had spent a good deal of time with him on chartered jets on golf-related trips to California. I remember my dad telling us that after Oral had reported a vision of a 200-foot Jesus lifting up the City of Faith to a height that made no business sense, he'd asked Oral something to the effect of "That's great, but what did that do to the plumbing?" It apparently got a good laugh, but my dad always felt Oral had been quite hurt by the remark. As for Richard Roberts, my dad seemed to hold him in complete contempt. One anecdote my dad never tired of telling was that of Richard having been ejected from the country club golf course for refusing to golf in anything more than a pair of speedos.

By the time Oral's "God's-going-to-take-me-home" shenanigans occurred, some bad business deals had wiped out my family's fortune and savings, and my dad had long lost touch with the Roberts family. For awhile, I still occasionally spoke to my childhood friend. During this period, I recall him telling me that nearly every kid in school had asked him for Oral's autograph in case he really did die. I felt bad for my friend -- I figured it had to be a pretty alienating experience to watch your grandfather flame out and go batshit insane on the evening news, while everyone around you treated him and yourself relationship to him as a joke.

Finally, for what it's worth, Oral had a dentist brother with a practice in Tulsa. Best dentist I've ever been to, and responsible for my first nitrous experience.

For my childhood friend:

.
posted by treepour at 7:51 PM on December 15, 2009 [27 favorites]


Our local Fox affiliate newscaster actually said he was "called home." I guess I shouldn't have been surprised.
posted by blucevalo at 7:52 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow, treepour. Thanks for the story.
posted by dunkadunc at 7:54 PM on December 15, 2009


God has called Oral Roberts home.

it could have been worse - he could have called salt lake city home
posted by pyramid termite at 8:19 PM on December 15, 2009


I too grew up in Tulsa and lived there throughout my early 20's.
I can't agree enough with the observations above concerning the striking appearance of ORU in contrast to what essentially is a city of suburbs with a tiny and dwindling downtown.
When I was in grade school I lived pretty much across 81st street from ORU and one of my oldest friends lived directly behind it and almost adjacent to the family compound.
DW is very correct in his assessment of Oral's life and works. He wasn't really the politico asshole that some of his peers were. His son Richard, however is a douchebag of the highest order.
Tulsa in the mid to late 80's was a weird place to be, it was a town on the downswing due to oil prices while televangelism and "charismatic Christianity" were on the rise. Both the Roberts family and Carlton Pierson reigned supreme in the development of a lot of the core beliefs of what is now a major spiritual movement in America.
Like the people who posted above, I too am grateful that ORU was able to at least provide a college education for those who desired it and couldn't afford another school. It allowed several of my friends from foreign countries to come here and study and live and work by providing low tuition and good athletic scholarships.
If you're ever in Tulsa, for whatever reason travel immediately to Bartlesville and look at Frank Lloyd Wright's Price Tower. But after that go and look at ORU, it really is spacy and fucking crazy.
posted by kaiseki at 8:41 PM on December 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


There are all these jokes being made about Oral Roberts and Anal Roberts, but in all this we're overlooking what I think is truly the most heartbreaking aspect of this story: Vaginal Roberts.
posted by "Elbows" O'Donoghue at 9:03 PM on December 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


In a freak incident, the private jets containing the Pope, Billy Graham, and Oral Roberts crash into each other and the three find themselves at the gates of Heaven. St. Peter sees who they are and explain that a mistake was made. However, they can't go into Heaven so in the meantime, they have to go to Hell. St. Peter calls the Devil and the Devil agrees to keep them in Hell until everything gets sorted out.

A bit later, St. Peter gets a call back from the Devil - "Hey Pete, it's Lu. You gotta do something, these guys are trouble - the Pope is forgiving everyone, Billy Graham is saving everyone and Oral Roberts is raising money to buy an air conditioner."
posted by champthom at 9:35 PM on December 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


Wow, can't believe he finally kicked the bucket...I just got this CD of Jesus sermons by Oral Roberts, but I can't play it anymore.

...the hole in the middle healed up.

*
posted by Skygazer at 9:45 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have always strongly suspected that he was actually an atheist, given that he couldn't with any sort of conscience do the things he did if he actually believed in the God he claimed to believe in.

That's right, everything wrong with religion is the fault of those sneaky atheists.

It's good to know there are bigger fuckwads that Roberts.
posted by rodgerd at 11:17 PM on December 15, 2009


Both the Roberts family and Carlton Pierson reigned supreme in the development of a lot of the core beliefs of what is now a major spiritual movement in America.

Now Carlton Pierson is an interesting character. A protegé of Roberts (who called him "my black son"), he led a huge congregation in Tulsa until receiving a divine revelation that hell does not exist and that salvation is available to all humanity, regardless of whether they accept Christ as their savior. There's a This American Life episode about him...
posted by mr_roboto at 11:55 PM on December 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


Oh, and actually, it's "Pearson", not "Pierson".
posted by mr_roboto at 11:57 PM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


So yeah, he doesn't get a dot from me, but he doesn't get the finger either. Overall I'd say my reaction was, and remains, "meh".

Pretty much the same for me. Meh. No kudos, no condemnation. The world will little note or long remember him, outside of his circles.
posted by JB71 at 4:27 AM on December 16, 2009


There are all these jokes being made about Oral Roberts and Anal Roberts, but in all this we're overlooking what I think is truly the most heartbreaking aspect of this story: Vaginal Roberts.

I don't know, there was the other little-known sibling, Clitoral Roberts, however he was always difficult to find and many people were unsure if he actually existed.
posted by Ritchie at 4:48 AM on December 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


I didn't know he was still alive.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 7:25 AM on December 16, 2009


was had been
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 7:25 AM on December 16, 2009


All this talk about Tulsa is making me nostalgic. I lived there for several weeks in the summer of 1995, on a temporary job assignment, and the weirdness of my personal situation (I was staying at the downtown YMCA, one of the last that I know of that still had rooms to rent, and commuting to the job via a 34-mile round trip bicycle commute) was mirrored by the weirdness of the local architecture, including ORU. Tulsa always seemed like a split-personality town, a lot more relaxed in many aspects than any other town in Oklahoma that I'd been to (it had one of the sleaziest strip clubs that I've ever visited, and I've lived in Memphis so that's saying something), but then there were those giant Praying Hands, too.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:50 AM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


GOOD. FINALLY but I wish he'd done it about 50 years sooner. Roberts became a Methodist in later years but left wacko evangelical movement behind to vex us all.
posted by chance at 8:39 AM on December 16, 2009


He totally missed out on making good with his porn name.
posted by stormpooper at 9:08 AM on December 16, 2009


Metafilter: **
posted by CynicalKnight at 10:07 AM on December 16, 2009


I have always strongly suspected that he was actually an atheist, given that he couldn't with any sort of conscience do the things he did if he actually believed in the God he claimed to believe in.

That's right, everything wrong with religion is the fault of those sneaky atheists.

It's good to know there are bigger fuckwads that Roberts.


1. Did you even actually read what I wrote?

2. I cannot describe the glee that I experienced when I saw this morning that someone on the internet called me a "bigger fuckwad[] than [Oral] Roberts" because I questioned Oral Roberts' actual belief in his purported religious doctrines.
posted by The World Famous at 10:15 AM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Say what you will about the man, but I doubt he ever wasted time pissing about like this.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:23 AM on December 16, 2009


I also thought about Carlton Pearson when I heard about Oral Roberts' death. Here is the This American Life episode about him: Heretics.

Reporter Russell Cobb takes us through the remarkable and meteoric rise of Carlton Pearson from a young man to a Pentecostal Bishop: from the moment he first cast the devil out of his 17-year-old girlfriend, to the days when he had a close, personal relationship with Oral Roberts and had appearances on TV and at the White House. Just as Reverend Pearson's career peaked, with more than 5,000 members of his congregation coming every week, he started to think about Hell, wondering if a loving God would really condemn most of the human race to burn and writhe in the fire of Hell for eternity.
posted by mattbucher at 10:23 AM on December 16, 2009


As for Richard Roberts, my dad seemed to hold him in complete contempt. One anecdote my dad never tired of telling was that of Richard having been ejected from the country club golf course for refusing to golf in anything more than a pair of speedos.

Seriously? That's the EXACT reason I would want to be kicked out of a country golf club. That, or starting fires, or releasing wolves... or releasing flaming wolves while wearing a speedo. Something along those lines.
posted by FatherDagon at 11:12 AM on December 16, 2009


Can't look at the hands without picturing goatse hanging over them. Or, uh, around them? But, I don't really have anything that insightful to say about the old charlatan. The post on his passing over at Pandagon has a youtube video and transcript of one truly baffling anti-gay pro-hetero-sexual-harrassment speech of his, though.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 2:16 PM on December 16, 2009


We got to find a cure for these tv preachers. At least one better than anticipating the next one's death. Personally, I like to picture the deathbed scene, and try to think up some funny last words for each departed televangelist. I can never think of anything funny enough, especially when contrasted with the absurd knowledge that they were operating here among us to begin with.

People sometimes mistake such behaviors - thinking up last words for recently-deceased televangelists for a laugh - indicate a lack of proper solemnity, a failure of etiquette. This is not necessarily true. Some of us have only just now realized that he was the UNCLE that only appeared on the tv screen.

The UNCLE guy. Him.

My mother would have changed the loathsome diapers of Oral Roberts in his senility and considered herself enriched by the experience. We just wanted to watch cartoons or monsters and stuff on Sunday morning, my brother and I. We were left very much unimpressed by Oral Roberts' pieties and excitations. Sometimes we laughed at Oral Roberts, though we didn't know why. We were just lawn spawn and didn't know nothing about the uplift of psychotic religious conniptions or how to make out like a bandit ranting about sinners and salvation and damnation.

Rest well, you old peddler of nonsense.

Enraged Manhood: Increase size of your manhood Now. Special Extract of Glandular Secretion make All Happy! Advanced Biological Method of SCIENCE! meet Wisdom of Ancient Technique! The Giant Jellyfish! has disclosed the secret of POTENCY!
posted by metagnathous at 6:04 PM on December 16, 2009


Why would a guy named Oral name his son Dick?
posted by Mcable at 6:27 PM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: A 200-foot Jesus lifting up the City of Faith to a height that made no business sense
posted by Sys Rq at 8:38 PM on December 18, 2009


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