Stamped By A Visit to an Alternate Reality

On December 22, I posted on Facebook an article from the Washington Post:

Televangelist Pat Robertson says it’s time for Trump to accept Biden’s win and ‘move on’

Televangelist Pat Robertson, one of President Trump’s staunchest backers, on Monday (December 21, 2020) described Trump as “very erratic,” called on him to accept that President-elect Joe Biden won and said the Republican should not consider running again in 2024.

The comments marked a sharp turnaround for Robertson, who recently voiced support for Trump’s false claims of widespread voter fraud and declared before the election that God had told him Trump was going to win.
“I think it’s a sideshow,” Robertson said Monday on his television show, “The 700 Club,” when asked whether he thinks Trump should run again in 2024. “I think it would be a mistake. . . .

Robertson said that Trump has “done a marvelous job for the economy, but at the same time he is very erratic, and he’s fired people and he’s fought people and he’s insulted people and he keeps going down the line.”

“And so, it’s a mixed bag,” he said. “And I think it would be well to say, ‘You’ve had your day and it’s time to move on.”

Robertson helped spur the rise of the religious right in the 1980s and 1990s and has been influential among religious conservatives for decades. . . . In early 2017, after Trump’s administration began, Robertson suggested that those who were revolting against the president were revolting against God.

Chris Roslan, a spokesman for the Christian Broadcasting Network, estimated that about a million people watch the 700 Club across the network’s platforms.

Robertson, a onetime GOP presidential candidate, has been generally supportive of Trump during his administration, although he criticized the president this past summer for his “law and order” response to the nationwide unrest following the killing of George Floyd in the custody of Minneapolis police.
 . . .

“You know, with all his talent and the ability to be able to raise money and grow large crowds, the president still lives in an alternate reality,” Robertson said. “He really does. People say, ‘Well, he lies about this, that and the other.’ But no, he isn’t lying; to him, that’s the truth.”

. . . “And, you know, people kept pointing to them, but because they loved him so much and he was so strong for the evangelicals — the evangelicals were with him all the way — but there was something about him that was good, that God placed him in that office for the time.”

After these excerpts were posted, my friend Dennis Lone in Seattle  commented:
If anyone knows about alternative reality, it would be Pat Robertson.

Yes I thought. Me too. In fact, I had visited it once, or maybe twice:

My former PA town. If this photo was at just the right angle, you could make out the letters WCTU right at top center on this building. They built it.

Around 1998, while living in a small central PA mountain town, I went to an estate sale. A retired teacher had died in her house. She had lived alone there for years. The house, on a steep hillside road, was wide open, and I was among dozens of bargain seekers who scavenged through several rooms on its main floor.

Many clustered in a room packed with dozens of upper-kitsch figurines of Jesus and angels. But I was more interested in the stacks of books. Most of the recent ones were from TV preachers; many were shrink-wrapped and unopened.

I recall seeing several from Robertson, particularly one titled The New World Order, in which he warned of a satanic plot aimed at world domination, backed by Freemasons, the Illuminati, shadowy world bankers and (of course) Jews.

But most compelling and poignant in the array were stacks of note cards, in packets and boxes, adorned with art in the same styles of the figurines.

I surmised that these were fodder for a “personal ministry,” by mail, likely copied from the televangelists of “reaching out” to the lonely & homebound, like her.

Talk about an alternate reality: one of my very first selfies, from a 2011 hospital stay, taken from the reflection in a mirrored cover of a ceiling security camera.

This struck a chord: I had once listened to a Jerry Falwell show, while stuck in a hospital bed, and to my surprise, he didn’t denounce leftists and gays.

Instead, he focused on a show of tender concern for the lonely elderly, particularly “shut-ins” and the bedridden. I had read that his audience & donor base was largely drawn from such, especially female.

Maybe the late teacher had wanted to join with these video pastors’ crusades, by “reaching out” to others herself, and maybe finding new friends.

But the air of quiet desolation deepened as I realized the packets and boxes of colorful cards, like most of the books, were also unopened.

In those years, teachers in Pennsylvania had good unions, and her pension must have been ample. But if this was to be her ministry, like helping Robertson foil the New World Order plot, it didn’t seem to get beyond collecting the materials. Perhaps her health and memory were failing.

Pondering this while pawing through the note cards, I stumbled on my day’s big find: a box unnoticed under a figurine-crowded table, half filled with sheets of postage stamps. They too were unused, half-obscured in translucent folders, the numbers on them tracking almost a decade’s worth of price increases for first class postage.

My eyes widened: there could be hundreds of dollars worth of stamps here. Not old enough to be collectible, but usable.

I immediately knew what to do: picking up several books by Robertson & Co., I dropped them in the box so they covered most of the stamps, then shoved it further into the dimness beneath the table.

The auction soon got underway, and I fidgeted as flight after flight of angel figurines and enough white ceramic Jesuses to populate much of Galilee were haggled over and snatched up. When the box that looked like it was full of Bibles and apocalyptic potboilers appeared,  I relentlessly outbid all comers for it. A couple people gave me funny looks when I gleefully hoisted it on my shoulder: why, I’m sure they were wondering, was this guy dumb enough to bid $75 for a box of Bibles?

It was one of my best investments ever. There was well over a thousand dollars worth of new stamps in the box. Now . . .

One of the souvenir stamp arrays in the box, from 1990. Yes — only 29 cents to mail a letter.

Robertson’s books and most of the Bibles are long gone, but I’m still using up the last of the stamps more than twenty years later.

No, they haven’t led me to further a dead teacher’s fantasy of “ministry partnership” with Robertson’s and Falwell’s mannered pose of compassion for the disconsolate legion life had drafted her into. But it’s a good idea. As I peel & stick them, they are mementos of this unexpected visit to someone else’s alternate reality, one that in this surpassingly strange year, eerily resembles mine more and more as each month has passed.

4 thoughts on “Stamped By A Visit to an Alternate Reality”

  1. There is, in fact, a New World Order. The ability of the Old World Order, those With, to push down Those Without is an order of magnitude more powerful than 50 years ago. A change in quantity can become a change in quality, to reference JS Mill, and in that sense we are confronted by a New World Order.

    The NWO power derives from surplus labor, thanks to increasing automation of all aspects of commerce from production to paperwork to banking and — soon to come –transportation and delivery. Workers no longer have a say in their fate, and increasingly no longer have a say in the fate of the country. There are no limits on corporate-funded propaganda coming from many directions, supporting false propositions with fake facts echoed in social media and network media.

    The Old World Order could only dream of being what The New World Order has established.

    1. Geeta, My sense was that many of the books were, yes, sent for donations. The cards looked as if they were separately ordered.

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