Stuff Christian Culture Likes

Stuff Christian Culture Likes


#111 Oral Roberts

posted by Stephanie Drury

300px-OralRoberts.jpg

With the passing of Oral Roberts, so dies a tiny piece of televangical history which played such a part in creating the manifold Christian culture we all enjoy today.

At least Oral Roberts University is still going strong, and with it the delicious irony of earnest Christian parents sending their kids to a college with the word ”oral” in the name.



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Simone

posted December 16, 2009 at 11:28 am


Oral! Huh…huh, huh, huh…



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Jessica

posted December 16, 2009 at 11:28 am


I went to ORU. I suppose I could tell stories of the craziness I experienced there. It has certainly left itself open to ridicule, as have men like Oral Roberts. But what I want to remember about Oral Roberts is the great compassion that I and many others sensed in him. He cared, and cared deeply about people. And he was willing to leave himself open to ridicule for what he really believed God wanted him to do. He reminds me not a little of the OT prophets that way. God bless him, and God bless the wonderful, insightful, grounded professors and lecturers that make that university worth going to despite whatever shenanigans are going on with administration or in chapel.



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stephanie drury

posted December 16, 2009 at 11:45 am


I have to wonder about the institution Oral represents when he made announcements that he had to raise $8 million by a certain date or God said he would “take him home.” (see wikipedia)



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Xander

posted December 16, 2009 at 2:44 pm


But if we denounce the institutions that people represent, what will we have left? That already trashes government, the majority if public schools, several large corporations. Sometimes you just have to look to the people that are still there making it work.



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stephanie drury

posted December 16, 2009 at 2:52 pm


Xander, I think it’s better to look into institutions before we denounce them, but some of them do need to be denounced. And you ask a good question. What will he have left? Maybe nothing, and that’s scary. People would rather be coddled than deal with the truth. That’s exactly how Christian culture has veered away from the message Jesus taught.



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Bill

posted December 16, 2009 at 8:49 pm


Are we talking about the “institution Oral represents” or the “institution that represents Oral”? That is a very bothersome question when a person founds an institution–of higher learning no less!–and names it after himself. “Institutions” are exactly that–they have their own history and have an identity that is larger than any single person. In that case, questioning a person is not fully undermining the institution. However, organizations that turn out to be cults of personality (or extensions of them) don’t have that full and separate institutional identity. Which one ORU turns out to be remains to be seen, in my opinion.
(To be clear, Jessica and Xander, I am not suggesting any categorization of ORU invalidates your experiences there. But having attended a parochial university myself, I don’t have any qualms about denouncing its methods, at the least.)
I was still a fundamentalist in 1987, and I remember the whole “call me home” thing from real-time. Even we found this claim intolerable. It is not ridicule to call a claim like this suspect or even mistaken, and I do not believe it is a virtue to “leave oneself open for ridicule” to use such a claim–even if true–to manipulate others to advance one’s own agenda.



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Tomas

posted December 17, 2009 at 2:08 am


I supppose we could suppose that talking about craziness experienced would be passé or relative or shudder-me-worse subjective, but the only sane way to recall Uncle Oral is as insane but insanely powerful because of the rampant subjectivity, or to put it as prettily as possible, the glossolalia-think mass hysteria of the people who filled up that institution, especially not only the students and their grievously bonkers parents who sent them there. Not to go into why it would have been better to join up with the Church of the Process (the process of the unification of Christ and Satan, also crazy but no strangulation of ties while dining) than to be left at ORU without a car or any other carbon monoxide generator; the point is that Oral Roberts was not compassionate, he was charismatic and that’s the number one thing that any prophet you can dig up from under rocks or moldy Bibles definitely ain’t. A little like the prophets, no, a little like a wino in that he didn’t care about ridicule. And because no prophet was a charismatic fund-raising robber of the ignorant emotional southern poor, no prophet was ever a mofo tyrant like that S4B “born stammer-war,” either, though you’d get no argument from me or cold dead thank god Oral if you compared the fukkinay Stalin of Tulsa to Moses throwing tablets, bless their flat little heads 2 out of 3 dust on the wind and don’t worry Oral baby it won’t be long.



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Mother Runner

posted December 17, 2009 at 10:42 am


ha. i always used to giggle when i was a teenager and heard that someone went to “Oral Roberts University” – you better have strong faith and hope in the Lord to believe that a name like Oral will be used for good.
too funny.



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Mel T

posted December 18, 2009 at 2:29 am


A friend once sent a letter to my POB at “Oral Intercourse University.” I felt a momentary jeopardy for my continued enrollment, but then realized the mail room staff were filtering what they let into their minds, not what got into my box.



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Jessica

posted December 18, 2009 at 8:59 am


Sorry, Tomas, but I think you’re being unkind and unfair. There’s never “only one sane way” to remember anybody. I’m really glad that I was able to graduate from that university without becoming embittered and cynical about the whole experience; that doesn’t mean I didn’t cringe through chapel services or that I wasn’t indignant at the hypocrisy and ostentation of the Richard Roberts administration, or [insert grievance here]. The fact that I chose to remember one or two very positive things about Oral the day after he died shouldn’t elicit such a negative rant. I’m not the only one who sensed his compassion, and whatever you think about OT prophets, likening a particular quality of his faith to that of some of the more outrageous prophets is not meant to condone any part of his theology. It’s merely an observation on the strength of his convictions as well as the often outlandish nature of his behaviour.
And whatever you want to say about the institution, I will assert again that I had some wonderful professors there. The English department in particular was full of gems.
There’s plenty to make fun of, and plenty to criticize, but please be kind. These are easy targets.



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Tomas

posted December 19, 2009 at 1:38 am


Yo, you stay sane your way, I stay sane mine, go ahead and sense compassion from whatever more or less polythene pam you glad your pride or stock your takings in, but you’d be hard pressed to persuade our mental health that you don’t recognize deep down where you assemble your god thing who the easy targets actually were, just you and me cookin in there sugar foot, spit it out now before the headstone settles in.



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Lisa

posted December 20, 2009 at 9:39 pm


Hi Stephanie,
You are hilarious! Thank you for starting this blog. I am someone who had a catholic childhood, agnostic adolescence, and atheist twenties before joining a Christian church because I was worried about my daughter turning out as a sociopath (but not about how I had turned out)–I think God has a sense of humor like that. I cannot describe how strange it is to suddenly be immersed in Christian culture after living in Northeast-liberal-snobby-urban-secular (think Stuff White People Like) culture for my entire life.
Sometimes I worry about the fact that the way I interact with the larger culture we live in differs from the way my church friends interact with it. (For example, I once explained that my daughter’s middle name was inspired by a character on Sex and the City, and all of a sudden it got very quiet.) But you point out that Christianity is really about loving people and relationship, and that all this other stuff is peripheral. And I think you are right. So, thank you! Keep it up!



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Ron

posted December 20, 2009 at 10:29 pm


I just remember my mom watching him on TV, and the tears streaming down his face while he begged for money….
It did remind me of a good joke though – “What do you call two gay men named Bob? Oral Roberts!”
Before you accuse me of gay-bashing, know that some of my best friends are gay – and they love this joke!



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stephanie drury

posted December 21, 2009 at 12:55 am


Ron, I’ve never heard that joke, haha!
Lisa, thanks so much. What’s your daughter’s name? Miranda? (Just a guess. :)



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Joe Hartzler

posted December 21, 2009 at 2:21 pm


Great stuff, Stephanie. And thanks.



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Lisa

posted December 21, 2009 at 9:24 pm


Her middle name is Patience. Not what I would choose now, but hey–I was 22 at the time. Carrie was an overnight guest at this couple’s house, and their names were Peter and Patience. They seemed pretty normal until Peter started walking around naked!



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Hugh

posted December 22, 2009 at 9:07 am


Lisa, A good job you didn’t call her Petra!



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B

posted January 10, 2010 at 1:48 am


Yeah a megarich family that own several cc stores and the biggest craft and hobby shop in the south now owns oru. The son almost had it shut down last year because of lawsuits. And its next to a walmart go figure



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