I’ve been debating about whether to include this episode, or just work it in sideways. But if I don’t post something, who knows how long before I’ll get the next one done? Sometimes, you just have to go with what you got.
Friday, April 19, 2013
There is a prophet in Atlanta. Or so they say.
He surfaced (is that the word?) early this year, standing and preaching on street corners like so many more before him. But some people have made a pastime of capturing his sermons with cellphone cameras, and there’s a website dedicated to gathering and collating those pieces of video. It makes for some interesting watching.
Fortunately for The Prophet’s “chroniclers,” he tends to preach the same sermon for several days, then change only parts of it. That gives them a chance to piece together most of an entire sermon. They still haven’t caught the beginning of any of them, though, so the site has to go on eyewitness reports to provide complete transcripts.
In the videos, The Prophet is a black guy, maybe 5-foot-9, and looks bulky (although that could be the coat). He has a buzz cut, a ratty trench coat, and of course he carries a Bible. He has a big knot on the right side of his forehead, like someone clubbed him a good one. In the videos, he refuses cash donations (which sent my respect for him up about six notches) but blesses anyone who leaves food or bottled water. He has a refrain when people put food or water bottles in a cardboard box at his feet: “Those who leave so much as a glass of water for the servants of God will not lose their reward.”
The mainstream preachers aren’t exactly thrilled with the attention he’s getting. The kahuna at the big Baptist church down in Atlanta gets this sour look on his face every time a TV reporter asks him about the Prophet, but he says mostly neutral stuff like “preaching The Lord’s word and doing His work is always honorable.” But there’s a big contrast that he can’t paper over, and the TV reporters don’t overlook it — the wealthier churches have set up soup kitchens where you have to go — when people give food to The Prophet, he takes it to where it’s needed. (People have followed him a few times.)
He was recently giving a 21st Century Beatitudes (cut & pasted from the site):
“Blessed are those, who open their homes to neighbors and sojourners in Jerusalem, for the Lord shall open the gates of heaven to them.” (He refers to Atlanta as Jerusalem, according to the site.)
“Blessed are those, who bring firewood to the cold, for they shall be warm in heaven.
“Blessed are those, who bring food to the hungry, for they shall feast in heaven.
“Blessed are those, who look after their neighbors, for the Lord in heaven shall look after them.
“Blessed are those, who continue to work and pay their debts, yet all debts will be erased. Their faithfulness is written in the Book of Life.
“Blessed are those, who make peace with their enemies, for they shall live without fear.
“But woe unto those who hide away from the stranger at their door! for the Lord shall shut the gates of Heaven against them!
“Woe unto those who hoard their fuel, for the fires of Hell will be bitter cold to them!
“Woe unto those who withhold their food from the hungry, for Hell shall not feed them!
“Woe unto those who say, 'I have earned my ease, let my neighbors look after themselves,' for the Lord will surely turn His back on such!
“Woe unto those who say, 'Why should I pay my debt, even though I can?' for the Lord will surely blot out the names of the faithless from the Book of Life!
“Woe unto those who take up arms against their enemies, for ever shall they live in fear of their lives!”
There are some videos of people coming to his cardboard box altar for salvation and baptism. He opens a bottle of water and baptizes them on the spot. :-) Some of them look like they're dressed pretty well, so I guess the Prophet is reaching more than just the poor in town.
Heavy stuff. I'll transcribe more if something jumps out at me.