Monday, January 08, 2007

One Punk Under God

One Punk Under God: The Prodigal Son of Jim & Tammy Faye is My New Obsession by Paula Neal Mooney

I used to think the word "televangelist" was synonymous with liar and cheat. This was in no small part because I came of age in the 1980s, when folks like Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker ruled the airways with their Praise the Lord (PTL) Ministries. (Thank God for TV preachers like Bishop T.D. Jakes and Joyce Meyer -- who are the epitome of honest, God-fearing teachers.)

Anyway, Jim and Tammy Faye became the laughingstock of the world when Jim's affair with Jessica Hahn was exposed, along with Jim's conviction of illegally diverted millions of dollars of donations for his own private use.

Jim went to prison, was released and restored and remarried. And Tammy remarried as well. Now their son, Jay Bakker, who went on drugs and rejected the Church due to the hypocrisy Jay witnessed firsthand, is back and saving souls for the Lord in his own Revolution Church.

Jay Bakker is the main subject of a new six-part documentary that is my new obsession: One Punk Under God: The Prodigal Son of Jim & Tammy Faye on the Sundance Channel. Reluctant to film the documentary at first, it ended up capturing one of the most pivotal years of Jay's life.

Mainly, I love how Jay Bakker relates to the punk crowd who'd long given up on God but have returned to the Church in large part for Jay's sort-of anti-establishment stance. I've only caught a couple of episodes, but now I'm hooked, and must go back and TiVo the rest when I can. I was amazed by how old Jim looks now, and sobbed last night as Tammy Faye -- who is dying of cancer -- went over her failures with Jay in a cafe.

Here are the episode details:

No. 1, originally aired Dec. 13: Jay recalls his childhood as he revisits the ghostly ruins of Heritage USA, this father's ambitious Christian theme park.

No. 2, aired Dec. 20: Jay visits his gravely ill mother and considers whether his church should welcome gay and transgender parishioners.

No. 3, aired Wednesday: In this episode, Jay's gay-affirming stance begins to affect his church's financial health; later he travels to Missouri to see his estranged father.

No. 4, coming Jan. 3: Jay confronts the difficult prospect of not only leaving the city he loves, but also the church he founded seven years ago.

No. 5, coming Jan. 10: Jay prepares to move to New York. He delivers an emotional farewell sermon in Atlanta before handing over the reins.

No. 6, coming Jan. 17: The concluding episode finds Jay preparing for his first sermon in Brooklyn while he also deals with the news from North Carolina that Tammy Faye's health has gotten worse.


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Bonnie Calhoun said...

Hmmm..I'll have to see if I can find this to watch it!

And never fear...I'm 300 miles from the City! A big matter how large, won't reach me!

kystorms said...

I too came of age ( as you say) with these preachers on the TV, and can recall being torn by the knowledge deep inside that some were fake, and the deep desire for them NOT to be.
And like you, I am deeply thankful to God for preachers such as Pastor Dollar, Joyce Meyer, and so many others. I would not get through my day if I could not view them each and every morning. I will have to see if I can catch this documentary, as I want to see everyone one who ran by then returned to God. Thank you for posting this info :-)

Scott Nance said...

I actually saw an episode. It was interesting. In the episode I saw, Jay Bakker was working to extend his church to gays, which I thought was pretty revolutionary coming from where he comes from.

I'm not usually a fan of reality TV, but this one was pretty interesting.

Paula Neal Mooney