Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Happy Valentine's Day... Massacre!

Call me old fashioned, but I think that on February 14th, we should honor the people who did more for the violin case than any musician:

Al Capone - Fred "Killer" Burke - Jack "Machine Gun" McGurn - Fred Goetz. Together, they attempted to execute Bugs Moran, the boss of a rival gang, from Chicago's North Side. And while they didn't succeed in killing Moran, they earned for themselves a place in history that capped The Roarin' Twenties (it took place in 1929). Capone himself was not present - he was "vacationing" in Florida - but he was the mastermind. Capone's image, by that time, was so infamous that everyone knew he orchestrated the massacre. This image has lasted even into today's perception of the typical "gangster", but did you know that the great "Scarface" started a program to provide Chicago school children with daily rations of milk? And during the Depression, Capone sponsored many soup kitchens for the poor and homeless.

So gangsters have hearts, too. Maybe some of them are made of brass slugs, but they're there.

And who are today's gangsters? Are they carrying violin cases or...bibles? One of our earlier posts was on the people we call "televangelisti". They threaten your soul's alienation from God if you don't "contribute." Televangelist Paul Crouch (TBN Broadasting) even sounds like an old gangster in his death threats:

God, we proclaim death to anything or anyone that will lift a hand against this network and this ministry that belongs to You, God. It is Your work, it is Your idea, it is Your property, it is Your airwaves, it is Your world, and we proclaim death to anything that would stand in the way of God's great voice of proclamation to the whole world. In the Name of Jesus, and all the people said Amen!

Crouch and his network have many people cowering in fear: reprisal in the form of a bullet is one thing, but death coming directly from God is another. Crouch could have given lessons to Capone.

If you want to "give from the heart" on Valentine's Day, I suggest you steer clear of someone who is telling you that God blessed him with a 10,000- square-foot mansion and a private jet and that if you give to his/her ministry, you will receive "tenfold". I just happened upon what looks like a fairly worthy faith-based charity: FRC Ministries (http://fhcministries.blogspot.com/). It's very new (and, honestly, fairly green), but it looks a hell of a lot more respectable than any of today's televangelists.

Or, check out Ministry Watch (http://www.ministrywatch.com/) where you can figure out just how much of your money goes to the homeless or towards a new Rolls Royce.

In any case, have a Happy Valentine's Day by avoiding the twenty-first century America's version of the gangster.