30 January 2007

our puerto rican savior

Meet Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda, otherwise known as Jesus Christ:

Then one night in 1973, he says, he awoke to a vision of two hulking men at his bedside who announced the arrival of the Lord, who, says de Jesus, "came to me and integrated with me." In the early years after founding Growing in Grace in Miami in 1986, de Jesus didn't claim to be Christ. Instead, he worked as a pastor spreading his doctrine: that under a new covenant with God, there is no sin and no Satan, and people are predestined to be saved. But as his following expanded, his claims did, too. In 1998, de Jesus avowed that he was the reincarnation of the Apostle Paul. Two years ago at Growing in Grace's world convention in Venezuela, he declared himself Christ. And just last week, he called himself the Antichrist and revealed a "666" tattooed on his forearm. His explanation: that, as the second coming of Christ, he rejects the continued worship of Jesus of Nazareth.

I just read the book The Kingdom of Matthias, which describes the rise and fall of a religious cult during the Second Great Awakening in 1830s New York. Matthias, born Robert Matthews, claims divine powers and announces himself as the prophet of the Jews. He creates his "kingdom" out of a handful of followers. The men in the community swap their wives while Matthias rules as the wise yet strict "Father" and spreads his "Truth".

Surprisingly, Sojourner Truth was a member of this cult before she embarked on her abolitionist activism - she took the name "Truth" after Matthias' teachings. Matthias met Joseph Smith in 1835 hoping to encroach on Smith's turf and gain some new followers. The Prophet Smith wrote Matthias off as a lunatic. (When the founder of Mormonism thinks you're crazy, you must be really deranged, n'est-ce pas?). Eventually Matthias disappeared into obscurity after being acquitted for manslaughter, his reputation having been tainted by the penny press news media.

So, back to de Jesus Miranda. It seems that all religious cults have similar features. They are havens for weak-minded or troubled individuals. The political structure is authoritarian with one leader claiming divine powers. Hmm, sounds a lot like your typical conservative religious sect.

Matthias preached a simple lifestyle in reaction to the emerging wealth of the middle class during the mid 1800s. However, he delighted in fine clothes, silverware and plentiful suppers. He funded his "kingdom" by swindling his followers out of money, mainly by securing the deeds of their homes.

de Jesus Miranda 's cult also has a profit-motive...

All members of Growing in Grace are expected to tithe—which, along with offerings, yielded $1.4 million for headquarters last year. One of the first orders of business at every service is the collection of money (credit cards accepted). Those who have pledged their businesses to de Jesus donate much more. Alvaro AlbarracĂ­n, a savvy, successful businessman given the title Entrepreneur of Entrepreneurs by de Jesus, is an example. Over the course of AlbarracĂ­n's 14 years in the church, he estimates that he's given roughly $2.5 million. Such funds help underwrite a lavish lifestyle for de Jesus, including diamond-encrusted gold rings and fancy cars. But most of the money goes to his broadcast operation.

Here's a CNN report on de Jesus Miranda's operation.

He doesn't look like Jesus to me.


I guess you could say this is the "Original Pime". I stopped blogging here regularly in May 2008 (if you don't count the B-Sides diversion - yes it gets confusing) when I joined the Tumblr revolution. Going forward bravely into 2009, this site will serve to house any large image work I produce.

Peace out.


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