Friday, July 31, 2009

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Reverend Ike, Who Preached Riches, Dies at 74

Reverend Ike, Who Preached Riches, Dies at 74


The Rev. Frederick J. Eikerenkoetter II, the flamboyant minister better known as the Reverend Ike, who preached the blessings of material prosperity to a large congregation in New York and to television and radio audiences nationwide, died Tuesday in Los Angeles, where he had lived since 2007. He was 74.
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United Press International, 1973

The Rev. Frederick J. Eikerenkoetter II, the flamboyant minister better known as the Reverend Ike.

His death was confirmed Wednesday by E. Bernard Jordan, a family spokesman. Reverend Ike had suffered a stroke in 2007 and never fully recovered, Mr. Jordan said.

“Close your eyes and see green,” Reverend Ike would tell his 5,000 parishioners from a red-carpeted stage at the former Loew’s film palace on 175th Street in Washington Heights, the headquarters of his United Church Science of Living Institute. “Money up to your armpits, a roomful of money and there you are, just tossing around in it like a swimming pool.”

His exhortation, as quoted by The New York Times in 1972, was a vivid sampling of Reverend Ike’s philosophy, which he variously called “Prosperity Now,” “positive self-image psychology” or just plain “Thinkonomics.”

The philosophy held that St. Paul was wrong; that the root of all evil is not the love of money, but rather the lack of it. It was a message that challenged traditional Christian messages about finding salvation through love and the intercession of the divine. The way to prosper and be well, Reverend Ike preached, was to forget about pie in the sky by and by and to look instead within oneself for divine power.

“This is the do-it-yourself church,” he proclaimed. “The only savior in this philosophy is God in you.”

One person who benefited from this philosophy of self-empowerment was Reverend Ike himself. Along with Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart and Pat Robertson, he was one of the first evangelists to grasp the power of television. At the height of his success, in the 1970s, he reached an audience estimated at 2.5 million.

In return for spiritual inspiration, he requested cash donations from his parishioners, from his television and radio audiences, and from the recipients of his extensive mailings — preferably in paper currency, not coins. (“Change makes your minister nervous in the service,” he would tell his congregation.)

He would also, in return, mail his contributors a prayer cloth.

His critics saw the donations as the entire point of his ministry, calling him a con man misleading his flock. His defenders, while acknowledging his love of luxury, argued that his church had roots both in the traditions of African-American evangelism and in the philosophies of mind over matter.

Whether legitimately or not, the money flooded in, making him a multimillionaire and enabling him to flaunt the power of his creed with a show of sumptuous clothes, ostentatious jewelry, luxurious residences and exotic automobiles. “My garages runneth over,” he said.

Frederick Joseph Eikerenkoetter II was born on June 1, 1935, in Ridgeland, S.C. His father was a Baptist minister of Dutch-Indonesian extraction, his mother an elementary school teacher who taught her son in a one-room schoolhouse. The couple divorced when Frederick was 5.

His calling came to him early, he said. “Even when I was a young child, the other kids came to me to solve their problems,” he told the writer Clayton Riley.

At 14 he became assistant pastor for his father’s congregation, the Bible Way Baptist Church in Ridgeland. After high school, he attended the American Bible College in Chicago, receiving a bachelor’s degree in theology in 1956. After two years in the Air Force as a chaplain, he returned to Ridgeland to found the United Church of Jesus Christ for All People.

Finding the traditional Christian message constricting, he moved to Boston in 1964 to found the Miracle Temple and to practice faith-healing, which “was the big thing at the time,” he told Mr. Riley, “and I was just about the best in Boston, snatching people out of wheelchairs and off their crutches, pouring some oil over them while I commanded them to walk or see or hear.”

Two years later, still dissatisfied, he moved to New York City, setting up shop in an old Harlem movie theater, the Sunset, on 125th Street, with a marquee so narrow that it forced him to shorten his name to “Rev. Ike.” There he tinkered with his act, polishing his patter, introducing radio broadcasts and taking his show on the road.

He began to refine his message to attract a more striving, stable, middle-class audience, people who wanted to hear that their hard work should be rewarded here and now. To this end, in 1969, he paid more than half a million dollars for the old Loew’s 175th Street movie theater and made it his headquarters, calling it the Palace Cathedral. In his book “On Broadway: A Journey Uptown Over Time,” David W. Dunlap, a reporter for The New York Times, described the former theater as “Byzantine-Romanesque-Indo-Hindu-Sino-Moorish-Persian-Eclectic-Rococo-Deco style.”

With the move, the Reverend Ike stretched Christian tenets, founding the doctrine he named the Science of Living and thereby relocating the idea of God to the interior of the self, calling it “God in me,” with the power to bring the believer anything he or she desired in the way of health, wealth and peace of mind. He became, as he told Mr. Riley, “the first black man in America to preach positive self-image psychology to the black masses within a church setting.”

By the mid-1970s, Reverend Ike was touring the country and preaching over some 1,770 radio stations. Television stations in New York, Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco, Los Angeles and other major markets were telecasting his videotaped sermons. A magazine he founded, Action!, reached more than a million readers.

In 1962, he married Eula May Dent. They had a son, Xavier F. Eikerenkoetter, who also became an ordained minister at the United Church and took over the ministry when his father retired. They both survive him.

Because of his emphasis on material self-fulfillment, Reverend Ike alienated many traditional Christian ministers as well as leaders of the civil rights movement, who believed black churches should further social reform.

His huge income also provoked suspicion. Detractors accused him of preying on the poor, and the Internal Revenue Service and Postal Service investigated his businesses. Though its fortunes have waxed and waned in the last 20 years, the church continues to operate from the former Loew’s theater, which maintains tax-exempt status as a religious property and is occasionally rented to outside promoters to present concerts.

Reverend Ike could be an electric preacher, whether at the old theater or on the road appearing before standing-room-only audiences. And he could make his congregations laugh, drawing on the Bible to drive home his message about the virtues of material rewards. “If it’s that difficult for a rich man to get into heaven,” he would often say, citing Matthew, “think how terrible it must be for a poor man to get in. He doesn’t even have a bribe for the gatekeeper.”

Jennifer 8. Lee contributed reporting.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


i dreamed about some woman with a wide body guitar, like the Gibson or a large Martin. It was a round body with a long neck. A woman, the owner of the guitar was holding it slung over their shoulder.

Capricorn Horoscope for week of July 30, 2009

Capricorn Horoscope for week of July 30, 2009

Constant vigilance, my friend. That's what I advise. Be attentive to details you sometimes gloss over. Wake up a little earlier and prepare for each encounter with greater forethought. Stare a little harder into the hearts of all those whose hidden motivations might detour your destiny. Monitor all communications for hints that all is not as it seems. Most importantly, guard against the possibility that you may be overlooking a gift or blessing that's being offered to you in an indirect way.

Monday, July 27, 2009

(500) Days of Summer

Love at the Greeting Card Company: Best Wishes on Your Breakup

Published: July 17, 2009
Early in “(500) Days of Summer” the omniscient narrator who intermittently (and somewhat annoyingly) comments on the action cautions that the movie is “not a love story.” The print advertisements qualify his words, describing this slight, charming and refreshingly candid little picture as “a story about love.” Which it is: a story about how love can be confusing, contingent and asymmetrical, and about how love can fail. Given all this, it’s somewhat remarkable that “(500) Days,” the feature directing debut of the music video auteur Marc Webb, is neither depressing nor French.

But it is, all the same, a fairly pointed response to the sorry state of romantic comedy in Hollywood, which runs the gamut from gauzily implausible fantasy to blatant and fatuous dishonesty, with an occasional detour into raunchy humor. The governing commercial calculus these days seems to be that dudes want smut, ladies want weddings, and a picture (like “The Hangover,” say) that delivers both will make the audience happy and the studios rich.

This dispensation means that more delicate, and perhaps more authentic, feelings and attitudes must be spoken about either with subtitles or, from time to time, in mumbles. So a winsome, accessible movie about more-or-less recognizable young people navigating the murky waters of post-sexual-revolutionary, midrecessionary heterosexual attraction has a novelty and a measure of bravery working in its favor, whatever its shortcomings. And “(500) Days” finds just the right scale and tone, neither trivializing nor melodramatically overstating the delicate feelings it explores.

Some of the credibility that Mr. Webb’s movie establishes right away comes from its unassuming and appealing stars, Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. With his crooked smile, reedy physique and improbably deep voice, Mr. Gordon-Levitt camouflages his magnetism with diffidence, much as Ms. Deschanel uses her slightly spacey, vaguely melancholy affect to magnify the charm she is pretending to disguise. Their characters, Tom Hansen and Summer Finn, seem so ideally matched, such a cozily compatible semi-hipster couple, that it’s a bit of a shock when things don’t work out between them.

Don’t worry; I haven’t given anything away. Mr. Webb and the screenwriters, Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, have scrambled the chronology so that Tom and Summer’s meet-cute and their eventual bust-up occur, in film time, close together and near the beginning. What follows is a shuffled, teasing and ingeniously structured presentation of their romance’s heady commencement, ambiguous middle and (at least for one of them) tormented aftermath. This structure restores a measure of the suspense that is usually missing from the romantic-comedy genre, which relies on climactic chases to the airport and ridiculously contrived choices between rival mates. From the outset you know, more or less, what happened between Tom and Summer, so most of your curiosity is invested in the question of how it all came to pass.

The answers, in themselves, are not earthshakingly dramatic or even especially unusual. A workplace flirtation — Tom and Summer are employees of a Los Angeles greeting card company — leads to a few missed chances, a sweet first kiss and fitful progress from casual to serious. Or so it seems to Tom, an unapologetic believer in true love, soul mates and other touchstones of greeting card mythology (and romantic comedy ideology). Summer is skeptical of such notions and refuses to promise commitment or even consistency, but she does seem to want more and more of Tom’s company, and this leads him to believe that her carefully maintained barriers to intimacy are beginning to fall.

The design of “(500) Days” suggests a puzzle with a few crucial pieces left in the box. Some of this elusiveness comes from an admirable impulse to respect the enigmatic fluctuations of desire and infatuation. But there is also something tentative and half-finished about the film, which substitutes a few too many gimmicks — split screens, a musical number, that voice-over — for moments of real intensity or humor and seems a little afraid to make its main characters too interesting or idiosyncratic.

Instead they project a kind of generic individuality, with shared tastes that ensure a measure of compatibility — they both like the Smiths! — and divergent quirks to provide some interesting friction. (Her favorite Beatle is Ringo!) Tom, whose point of view predominates in spite of the third-person narrator, has a couple of goofy pals (Matthew Gray Gubler and Geoffrey Arend) and a wise younger sister (ChloĆ« Grace Moretz). He also has the stymied, or at least deferred, ambition to be an architect instead of a drone in a best-wishes factory.

One indication of the film’s thinness is that Summer has no such professional or creative pursuits — she’s the assistant to Tom’s boss (Clark Gregg) — and no identifiable passions, friends or characteristics other than her heart-stopping desirability and her vintage-y dresses. Ms. Deschanel excels at playing this kind of cute, quasi-bohemian crush object, but after “Elf” and “Yes Man” and “All the Real Girls” it would be nice if some smitten filmmaker would write her a fully developed, less passive part.

Still, I don’t want to pop the shimmering soap bubble of “(500) Days of Summer,” a movie that is, for the most part, as mopily, winningly seductive as the Regina Spektor songs on the soundtrack and at its best as unexpectedly lovely as the views of Los Angeles captured by Mr. Webb and his director of photography, Eric Steelberg. At first, I mistook the city for Chicago or Philadelphia or some other old-growth conurbation, and Mr. Webb, who has directed videos for artists as different as Miley Cyrus and My Chemical Romance, deserves credit for finding new and fresh perspectives on this overexposed metropolis. There are no beaches or Spanish-style bungalows in the hills, just a scruffy, comfortable atmosphere of melancholy optimism that suits Tom and Summer perfectly, in all their imperfection.

“(500) Days of Summer” is rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned). It has a very mild sexual vibe and some equally mild profanity.


Directed by Marc Webb; written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber; director of photography, Eric Steelberg; edited by Alan Edward Bell; music by Mychael Danna and Rob Simonsen; production designer, Laura Fox; produced by Jessica Tuchinsky, Mark Waters and Mason Novick; released by Fox Searchlight Pictures. Running time: 1 hour 36 minutes.

WITH: Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Tom), Zooey Deschanel (Summ

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

In Latest ‘Harry Potter,’ Rage and Hormones

Published: July 15, 2009
Correction Appended

ArtsBeat: Potter’s Magic Numbers
Are we there yet? Well, not quite. “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” the latest big-screen iteration of the global phenomenon, is merely the sixth chapter in a now eight-part series that, much like its young hero, played by Daniel Radcliffe, has begun to show signs of stress around the edges, a bit of fatigue, or maybe that’s just my gnawing impatience. Not that the director, David Yates, doesn’t keep things moving and flying and soaring, his cameras slashing through the gloom that has settled onto this epic endeavor like a damp, enveloping fog and at times threatened to snuff out its joy as terminally as a soul-sucking Dementor.

That any sense of play and pleasure remains amid all the doom and the dust, the poisonous potions and murderous sentiments, is partly a testament to the remarkable sturdiness of this movie franchise, which has transformed in subtle and obvious fashion, changing in tandem with the sprouting bodies and slowly evolving personalities of its young, now teenage characters. The series is now almost as old (it took off in 2001) as Harry was when he started his journey, which found the orphan whisked after his 11th birthday from a cramped, tragic nook to Hogwarts, a school of witchcraft and wizardry in a parallel world teeming with wondrous creatures, including an embarrassment of lavishly talented British screen actors.

Surgically adapted by Steve Kloves, who has written all the screenplays save for No. 5, “The Half-Blood Prince” was to be the penultimate film, the corollary to the J. K. Rowling book. Instead, the concluding volume, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” has been deemed hefty enough by Warner Brothers — 784 hardcover pages, 2.4 pounds shipping weight, a fight to the death — to be split into two movies that will hit in late 2010 and summer 2011. Considering that the take for Harry Potter and His Big Pot of Cinematic Gold now totals almost $4.5 billion in international box office, the studio’s reluctance to embrace the end is touchingly obvious.

But, seriously, could we just get on with it? For at least one committed follower of the series, who closed the last chapter on Harry soon after “The Deathly Hallows” was published in 2007, the lag time between the final books and the movies has drained much of the urgency from this screen adaptation, which, far more than any of the previous films, comes across as an afterthought. Mr. Yates, who directed the last movie, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” which also arrived in summer 2007, does a fine job of keeping Ms. Rowling’s multiple parts in balanced play, nimbly shifting between the action and the adolescent soap operatics. Yet even with a surer directorial touch, he can’t keep the whole thing from feeling like filler.

Not that he doesn’t juice the material for all it’s worth, starting with some preliminary mayhem meant to signal that this isn’t your 10-year-old’s Harry Potter.

After a nod to the last movie’s big finish, with Harry bloodied but victorious, the new picture opens in London, where an office filled with nonmagical humans (Muggles, in Rowling-speak) are staring out the high-rise windows — as slack-jawed, presumably, as those filling theater seats — at sinister gray clouds surging in the sky. Suddenly three plumes of black smoke, Death Eaters in fast, fuming motion, cut through the moody overhead dome, race through the streets and wobble the pedestrian-only Millennium Bridge that slings across the Thames, snapping cables, fatally upending human bodies and further unnerving the wizardly world.

If you haven’t been keeping up with the story, well, there’s always Wikipedia. Although Mr. Kloves has done an admirable job tailoring Ms. Rowling’s progressively longer and baggier books, he or, perhaps more accurately, the series’s producers have not made many concessions for the uninitiated. If you have kept pace, you will grasp why Dumbledore (the invaluable Michael Gambon), the headmaster of Hogwarts, has placed so much trust in Harry, a callow student with prodigious wizard gifts and little discernable personality. The chosen one, Harry has been commissioned to destroy the too-little-seen evildoer Voldemort, a sluglike ghoul usually played by Ralph Fiennes (alas, seen only briefly this time out) and here played, in his early embodied form as Tom Riddle, by the excellent young actors Hero Fiennes Tiffin and Frank Dillane.

There must be a factory where the British mint their acting royalty: Hero, who plays the dark lord as a spectrally pale, creepy child of 11, is Ralph Fiennes’s nephew, and Frank is the son of the terrific actor Stephen Dillane (Thomas Jefferson in the HBO mini-series “John Adams”). The younger Mr. Dillane, who plays Voldemort at 16, conveys the seductiveness of evil with small, silky smiles he bestows like dangerous gifts on Jim Broadbent’s Horace Slughorn, a professor whose trembling jowls suggest a deeper tremulousness. When Slughorn, the fear almost visibly leaking from his body, shares the secret of immortality with Voldemort, you feel, much as when Ralph Fiennes raged through “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” in 2005, that something vital is at stake.

If that sense of exigency rarely materializes in “The Half-Blood Prince,” it’s partly because the series finale is both too close and too far away and partly because Mr. Radcliffe and his co-stars Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, as Harry’s friends Hermione and Ron, have grown up into three prettily manicured bores. Unlike the veterans, notably the sensational Alan Rickman, who invests his character, Prof. Severus Snape, with much-needed ambiguity, drawing each word out with exquisite luxury, bringing to mind a buzzard lazily pulling at entrails, Mr. Radcliffe in particular proves incapable of the most crucial cinematic magic. Namely the alchemical transformation of dialogue into something that feels like passion, something that feels real and true and makes you as wild for Harry as for all those enticingly dark forces.

“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” is rated PG (Parental guidance suggested). The movie is more suggestively than overtly violent, though sometimes rather intense.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Opens on Wednesday nationwide.

Directed by David Yates; written by Steve Kloves, based on the book by J. K. Rowling; director of photography, Bruno Delbonnel; edited by Mark Day; music by Nicholas Hooper; production designer, Stuart Craig; visual effects supervisor, Tim Burke; make-up and creature effects design by Nick Dudman; produced by David Heyman and David Barron; released by Warner Brothers Pictures. Running time: 2 hours 33 minutes.

WITH: Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley), Emma Watson (Hermione Granger), Jim Broadbent (Professor Horace Slughorn), Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix Lestrange), Robbie Coltrane (Rubeus Hagrid), Michael Gambon (Prof. Albus Dumbledore), Alan Rickman (Prof. Severus Snape), Maggie Smith (Minerva McGonagall), Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy), Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood), Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley), Jessie Cave (Lavender Brown), Hero Fiennes Tiffin (Tom Riddle, age 11) and Frank Dillane (teenage Tom Riddle).

people i run into

sunday, I ran into a friend of a friend who i have given a ride home to a few times. She was coming from SummerStage.

Today, I saw an ex colleague who represented Probation at monthly meetings. He was coming out of the 3pm show of Harry Potter

Thursday, July 23, 2009