Name That Tune

First things first. In the briefly intersecting histories of rock and roll and Pentecostalism, it is recorded that Jerry Lee Lewis, at age 15, was expelled from Southwestern Bible Institute in Waxahachie, Texas, for unrepentantly playing a boogie version of "My God Is Real." In view of the depth and breadth of the Jim Bakker-PTL scandal, it seems only reasonable to ask: Should Southwestern Bible Institute reconsider its decision?

PTL. The letters have become almost as much a part of the cultural alphabet as CBS and ABC (or IRS and FBI). Their familiarity grew along with the scandal, a scandal that provided irresistible media fodder, news from all directions, something for everybody. The story had sex, money, and power; and we were given the details, the numbers, and the standings.

The only thing we didn't get is what the story had most of Religion. The reason we didn't get religion is that the people asking the questions—journalists—didn't speak the language of the people with the answers; and the people with the answers—like Jerry Falwell—knew enough not to do any helpful interpreting unless it served their purpose. The evangelical appraisal of sin against God was as relevant to this particular story as the legal question of fraud in God's name. The media responded to this confusing situation by shoving everything under the all-purpose label of "Gospelgate." Once...

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