Archive for the ‘interviews’ Category

R. Kelly’s Girlfriends Defend Him

After watching Gayle King’s interview with R. Kelly’s live in girlfriends, memories of my own daughter defending her abuser came flooding back to my mind. She spend much of the time her abuser was on trial blaming me for his legal problems. She has not spoken to me for nearly two years now.

There are many reasons why victims stay in an abusive relationship and even defend their abuser. Statistics show that victims of violent abuse endure an average of up to seven attacks. The dominant reason is dependency: Control by the abuser, shame about the abuse, and the dysfunctional nature of the relationship lowers the victim’s self-esteem and confidence and often causes the victim to withdraw from friends and family, creating even more fear and dependency on the abuser. The abuse itself is experienced as an emotional rejection with the threat of being abandoned. The abuse eventually becomes their new normal, and anyone who tries to intervene on behalf of the victim soon becomes the enemy.

Help for victims of abuse:


Earlier this week Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly interviewed “Touched by an Angel” star Roma Downey and her husband Mark Burnett, executive producers of “The Bible” TV miniseries which began Sunday night on the History Channel. “Bringing the Bible to the screen came with a huge responsibility and one we took very seriously,” Downey said. “We had a great team of scholars and theologians helping us, making sure that we told these stories accurately and truthfully. I’ve been a believer my whole life, and that was very, very important to us.” (Read more HERE)

I watched the premiere of the miniseries and was disappointed, (but not surprised) by the many inaccuracies found in the miniseries that Downey and Burnett took so seriously that they employed a team of scholars and theologians to help them get it right.

I’m sure Downey and Burnett meant well and I have no reason to doubt their sincerity, but I think they would have been better off to follow the example of Cecil B. DeMille in preparing for his movie, “The Ten Commandments”.

To prepare his studio to film The Ten Commandments DeMille sent a copy of the Bible to every single person on the payroll, with the words, “As I intend to film practically the entire book of Exodus . . . the Bible should never be away from you. Place it on your desk, and when you travel, stick in your briefcase. Make reading it a daily habit.”

The moral life of the production camp was rigorously prim and proper, and DeMille installed a separate tent which served only kosher food to two hundred twenty-four orthodox Russian, Polish, and Palestinian Jews working on the production.

I found it interesting that so far, the Jewish aspect of the miniseries is non-existent. I would have thought that at the very least, they would have included the first Passover Seder in the film like DeMille did in ‘The Ten Commandments’ movie.

Other discrepancies in Sunday’s premiere begin with the story of Abraham and Lot. They portrayed Lot’s capture as if it were a squabble between small tribes when the Bible teaches that it involved battles between the armies of five kings (nations) against another four. (Gen. 14:1-11) And when Abraham heard that his nephew was taken captive, he mobilized 318 trained men (soldiers) who had been born into his household to rescue Lot and his family. (Gen 14: 13-16)

Then there was the film’s depiction of Lot in Sodom. Because of political correctness I understand why they felt they needed to leave out the reason the men of Sodom wanted to break into Lot’s home, but the Bible plainly teaches that the men of Sodom wanted to rape the angels. When Lot refused, they threatened to do even worse to him. The angels then shut the door and smote the men with blindness so that they soon gave up trying to get inside Lot’s house. (Gen. 19:1-11)

There is absolutely nothing in Scripture that even alludes that the angels walked through Sodom like ninjas cutting men down with swords! Is this something that Downey and Burnett learned from the scholars?

Since most Christians get their doctrinal beliefs from movies and greeting cards, movies like this do a great disservice to God’s Word. A good example of this is the story of Lot’s wife. The Bible never states, as many people presume, that Lot’s wife was miraculously and instantly turned into a pillar of salt. It simply says she became a pillar of salt. (Gen. 19:15 – 26) Given the nature of the destruction of Sodom, combined with the circumstances of her own death, it’s quite possible that Lot’s wife did indeed become a pillar of salt due to natural occurrences.

The Hebraic phrase translated as “looked back” means more than simply turning her head around for a glance. The term more likely implies “turning back,” in the sense that Lot’s wife decided to leave her family and was on her way to return to the city. (Compare to Luke 17:28-33 and Luke 9:62)

Assuming that Lot’s wife did turn back to Sodom, it is quite possible that the sulfur and ashes that destroyed the city reached Lot’s wife, causing her death. Lot and his daughters, further ahead, were protected by God because they didn’t “look back.” Over time, Lot’s wife’s remains would have been layered in salt, given both the process of petrifaction that happens to remains of sulfur and the high levels of salt and sediment in the Dead Sea region.

From the comments I’ve read praising “The Bible” miniseries, many might think that I’m being too legalistic and only writing this to criticize the filmmakers.

I understand that producers make films in order to make money. I also understand that in order to make a film more profitable they sometimes need to take artistic liberties to make the film more interesting.

But the purpose of this article is not to criticize Downey and Burnett or any other filmmaker who produces Bible based movies. The purpose of this article is to encourage you not to base your religious beliefs on some miniseries or movie you watched or someone’s book you read– but only on the Word of God.

 “Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth.” (Ephesians 4:14)

During an interview Wednesday night with “Touched by an Angel” star Roma Downey and her husband Mark Burnett Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly proclaimed that, “a lot of the Bible is allegorical,” and that “the New Testament Gospels contradict themselves.”

Burnett and Roma are the executive producers of “The Bible” TV miniseries which begins this Sunday night on the History Channel. Downey, who portrays Jesus’ mother Mary in the series, opened the interview by declaring her solid faith in Holy Scripture. “Bringing the Bible to the screen came with a huge responsibility and one we took very seriously,” Downey said. They also wanted to make the series something that young people could get into. “You know, we have teenagers at home and it’s hard to get them to read anything.” Downey said. “And one of the goals here was to get this generation interested and excited about Scripture, and I think we’ve been able to achieve that.”

O’Reilly then showed his worldly skepticism (and his ignorance of Scripture) when he asked Downey: “When you say you’re a believer, do you believe in the Bible literally? I mean you believe that Adam and Eve were out there, and the snake and the apple and all of that business?”

“I do indeed. I believe the truth of the Bible,” she affirmed. “That’s what I was taught, and it’s been a wonderful, wonderful faith for me my whole life.”

I would have answered O’Riley a bit different. First, I would have pointed out that although many Christians have been “taught” these stories from the Bible, I have studied the Scriptures myself and found that Adam and Eve were not common names like we use today, as much as they were descriptions of what these “new created beings” were. Adam is the Hebrew word for “man” and Eve is translated “mother of the living”. Also, Scripture does not describe that what the couple ate was an apple, but only as some type of produce from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

All the confusion about Adam and Eve and the “serpent” in Genesis 3 has arisen from people taking literally what is expressed figuratively and taking figuratively what is literal. For example, the Hebrew word rendered “serpent” in Genesis 3:1 is Nachash, and means, a shining one. The Nachash, or shining one, who beguiled Eve, (2Corinthians 11:3) is also spoken of as “an angel of light” in verse 14. It seems to me then, that it was not a snake at all, but a glorious shining being, apparently an angel, to whom Eve paid such great deference, acknowledging him as one who seemed to possess superior knowledge, and who was evidently a superior being.

O’Reilly continued the questioning making sure that he put a plug in for his upcoming book saying: “Ms. Downey, I’m writing a book, ‘Killing Jesus,’ about why Jesus of Nazareth was executed. It’s a history book. But obviously, the Gospels that discuss this were involved with that. But there are some contradictions among Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. And then it’s my job and Martin Dugard, my co-author, to cut through the contradictions and to try to give a narrative of what actually happened to Jesus, because he was executed.”

O’Reilly never elaborated on the contradictions he alleges exist in the New Testament, but he may be referring to the gospel accounts of Jesus’ crucifixion and that both the robbers reviled Him in Matt. 27:44 and Mark 15:32; while in Luke 23:39 only one of them mocked Him, while the other rebuked him for doing so. (v. 40)

Mislead by tradition and the ignorance of Scripture on the part of medieval painters, it is the general belief that only two were crucified with the Lord. But Scripture does not say so. It states that there were two “thieves” (Matt. 27:38; Mark 15:27) but there were also two “malefactors”. (Luke 23:32)

If there were only two, this is a real discrepancy; But by studying these verses we find that the first two (malefactors) who were “led with Him” were placed one on either side. Then when the other two (robbers) were brought later, they were also similarly placed; so that there were two (one of each) on either side, with the Lord in the middle of them. The malefactors were therefore the nearer, and being on the inside they could speak to each other better, and the one with the Lord, as recorded in Luke 23:39-43.

But John further states in John 19:32, 33: “then came the soldiers and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with Him. But when they came to Jesus, and saw that He was dead already, they brake not His legs.” Had there been only two, (one on either side of Jesus) the soldiers would not have broken the legs of one, walked around Jesus, and then broken the legs of the other and then turned back again to Jesus. But if there were FOUR men (two on each side of the Lord) then they would have come to Him after they had broken the legs of the first two. From this evidence, therefore, it is clear that there were four “others” crucified with the Lord; and thus, there are no “discrepancies”.

After I had this same discussion with a friend he asked, “What does it matter as long as we know that Jesus died for our sins?” It matters because there are intelligent people like Bill O’Riley who will be able to weaken the faith of some by bringing up these so-called contradictions.

Sadly, most of what Christians believe does not come from studying Scripture, but from TV specials, movies and greeting cards. And while I encourage you to watch this series I would also encourage you to discover God’s truth by studying Scripture yourselves.

For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:3-5)

NBC’s Rock Center with Brian Williams will be airing an interview with Ann Curry Thursday, Nov. 29th that deals with a family of five from Johnson City, Tenn., that despite their homelessness, they are still a working family. There is now a growing number of working families who have become homeless in the wake of the current economic crisis.

Too many people are still holding onto the stereotyped homeless populations; that homeless people are either lazy or drug addicts, alcoholics, or have some type of mental problem. Although these make up a small percentage of the homeless community, there are literally hundreds of thousands of people, many of them hard working families, who are homeless as well.

The number of people in homeless families living in suburban and rural areas rose nearly 60 percent during the Great Recession, according to figures from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). More than one million school-aged children are now homeless, according to the Department of Education.  And it’s more likely today that your own children are sharing a classroom with a few homeless children. (And possibly joining other classmates in making fun of them)

Many of these employed homeless have worked hard to pursue the American dream. They have college degrees. They worked to build their savings just like they were taught. But when you combine student loan debt with medical bills (Even with the health insurance from work) , a family’s debt can very easily grow into a mountain.

Many families live paycheck to paycheck and still do not have enough to cover their monthly expenses.  They become behind on their rent, and even if they downsize to a smaller apartment in a bad neighborhood they still might not be able to afford rent.

Advocates say there are not enough shelters for the nation’s new wave of homeless families and many shelters separate men, women and children because of security reasons.

Shaun Donovan, the secretary of HUD, said that shelters must begin to use their funding differently to accommodate the rise in homeless families. But at the same time he acknowledged that family-friendly shelters are under-funded.

How many of us are one bad injury or a paycheck away from being homeless?

If you end up in the hospital, you are not earning any money. And if you work and are fortunate enough to have health insurance, you will still most likely have an out of pocket deductible and co-pays. A minimum wage job only pays $290 a week. (Hardly enough to pay for a decent apartment and keep up with medical bills, let alone purchase a house)

I remember when I was homeless for a time and lived in my van because my job at the time didn’t pay enough for me to afford rent. I used a relative’s shower every morning before I went to work. The large church that I was involved with at the time generously offered to let me sleep in a storage closet during the winter. (Do you sense the sarcasm?)

Let’s face it-we live in a very greedy world that refuses to be our brother’s keeper. When I think about all of the wealth available to many of the mega churches in this country that could easily meet the needs of the less fortunate in their communities, I feel like I could walk through those churches and turn over their pews, whipping anyone who tried to stop me.

Unfortunately, I don’t think even such a drastic act would accomplish much more than getting me a room without a view in the local jail.

Even though it’s so easy to blame “the other guy” for the ills of the world, the solution should be directed at myself- What can I do to help? It may not seem like a lot, but I can help the homeless community by donating my time and finances to organizations that minister to the needs of the homeless community. And I can minister one on one to those who are homeless when God gives me the opportunity.

Isn’t that what being a godly person is all about anyway?

Ways to help:

I recently had the opportunity to interview a young woman by the name of Christy, (Not her real name) who had spent many years living on the streets.  Looking at this attractive young woman who is a department manager at a drug store chain in California, it’s hard to imagine that at one time she was counted among those surviving on the streets by any means possible.

After making some bad decisions she embarked on a dark journey that many of us would not recover from. She has not only recovered, but is thriving with a zest for life that many will never attain.

WFTS:  What was your life like while you were homeless?

Christy:  When I was 23 years old I fell in love with a guy named (We’ll call him Brian) who I thought was  brilliant but didn’t have the drive or motivation to get a regular job. He wanted to be a salesman and make a lot of fast money. Unfortunately for me, because of his charm and natural salesman ability, I believed everything he said and followed him wherever he went. After Brian lost his job things just went from bad to worse. We lost our car, our friends, until we found ourselves on the street. We would walk everywhere. We sometimes would have blisters on our shoulders and feet from carrying heavy bags while walking all over LA.

WFTS: Wasn’t there shelters available?

Christy:  The shelter we stayed at was actually worse than staying on the street.  We didn’t really have any resources. So we went to the Department of Health and Human Services to get food stamps and stuff and they gave us vouchers to stay at the Skid Row shelter in Hollywood. Skid Row is well known for its drug addicts and alcoholics; mostly crack heads. It was really scary, so I don’t know why the DHHS sent us there. The whole place reeked of urine and vomit.  I’m really small and Brian was really tall so we really stuck out when we walked into the shelter.

Some of the people there wanted to eat me up and the other ones wanted to beat up Brian and steal me for themselves. There was one side for men and the other side for women; so me and Brian had to stay on separate sides.

I had this tiny box of a room, but it was cool. While I was there we were told to keep our rooms clean and they would do random room checks to make sure our rooms were up to par. There was a guy, who I think was the director, called me into his office and told me that I had to leave because my room was not clean enough and then he propositioned me. I was so naïve that I didn’t understand what he was talking about at first. He told me that I had to leave, “unless I did something for him.”  After a while he made it very plain what that “something” was. I left his office screaming and I tried to report him but no one would believe me. So I waited outside the men’s side of the shelter for over an hour until Brian came out. Fortunately he believed me and we left and went to Long Beach.

WFTS: How did that work for you?

Christy:   Long Beach was nicer.  Since we didn’t have any money we had to sneak onto a bus or subway or train, and pretend we had paid. There was a lot of open space in Long Beach and it was safer than Hollywood. There was always a restaurant where we could dine and dash for food. The only bad thing was that it got cold at night and since we didn’t have blankets we would try to find a restaurant on one of the docks that had a heat lamp we could sleep under.

WFTS: Why did you continue to live like that? Didn’t you have family that could help?

Christy:   I think at the time I was too ashamed. My mom didn’t even know that I was once homeless until years later. At the time I was depending on Brian. I tried to get him to go to Labor Ready but he was always waiting for the perfect job so he needed the perfect shirt and perfect suit.

WFTS: So how did you survive?

Christy:   I would go to Labor Ready but a lot of times it wasn’t enough and Brian would always need bus money or money for clothes, or whatever, so I would do things ….things that I’m not proud of;  In order to get money. But I did what I had to do to survive.

WFTS:  Let’s focus now on how things turned around for you. What was it like when you were no longer homeless?

Christy:   Basically it was a slow process. We went from living on the streets to shelters, to motels, to hotels, then to extended stay hotels. When we were living in an extended stay hotel Brian got a really good job that paid over $200,000.00 a year.

WFTS: Wow! That must have made a big difference.

Christy:  Yeah, it did. But the only reason Brian got that job was because of all the things I had to do in order to get the things he needed to get that job.  Clothes, transportation, etc.

The money was nice for a while. And it was fun. I don’t even know if the money we made was legit, but I left Brian soon after he got super rich.

WFTS:  Did it upset you that you went through all of that just to leave it all?

Christy:  No, not really. I have no regrets. I don’t even mind talking about it now. I did at first. I didn’t even tell my mother until later. Now it doesn’t bother me. I’ve had other people help me too. A friend of mine helped me apply online for the job at the drug store chain where I’m now a department manager.

WFTS: It’s amazing that you went from having nothing….

Christy:  Nothing. Not even self esteem.

WFTS: …to where you’re now a manager in a store.

Christy:  It is amazing. It took me 30 years to get something done right, but I got it right. It’s all good now.