Monday, 10 August 2009


My obituary of the Reverend Ike is in today's Independent, you can find it here. Just a couple of small facts got cut: it was the small size of the marquee on his first converted movie theatre church in Harlem that was the reason his billing was shortened to Rev. Ike, and the 'Blessing Plan' might well have been the inspiration for the kind of holy investmens that scheme Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker ran, and which landed Jim in jail. And the headline, of course, wasn't mine; 'worshipped wealth' is tooo blunt an exaggeration, Ike's mission, while never far removed from the dollar signs, was more nuanced than that.

I remember watching Ike in the early 1970s, when I worked on the road teaching speed reading and saw a lot of motel TV. He was certainly the most entertaining of TV evangelists, and because his pitch was so blatant you never felt yourself submersed in the ooze of hypocricy. And of course what I called the 'Superfly' era was not kind, satorially speaking, to most of us, not just Ike.

His interview with Clayton Riley is amazing, at least the bits of it I encountered: Ike basically concedes that his whole faith-healing mission was a scam, except, of course that it worked because people believed it would. His career in a nut-shell, except, of course, very few of his followers got as rich as he did.

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