Saturday, April 24, 2010

Stephen Baldwin's bankruptcy can prove God exists

Hollywood’s Baldwin brothers seem predestined for the political fringe. The youngest, Stephen, responded to the 9/11 terror attacks religious fundamentalists by becoming a religious fundamentalist—just a different kind of fanatic. While he now dabbles in far Right politics his brothers are found on the extreme Left. Stephen was not a particularly sought after actor, ever. The high point of his career was playing Barney Rubble in The Flintstones, otherwise you would find him in such memorable films as Fred Claus, Greenmail, Deadrockstar, The Sex Monster, Threesome, The Beast and Bio-Dome. Gee, I can hardly wait until they do a retrospective.

His career was never booming, but things did get harder for him when he started rejecting the few roles offered to him because they violated the moral strictures of fundamentalism. Even then he was compromising as the fundamentalists I knew believed that all Hollywood films were sinful.

After his "born again" conversion Baldwin turned into the typical moralistic Nanny Stater. He found Jesus, George Bush and the Republican Party at the same time. Not only did he endorse Mike Hucklebee, the worst of a bad lot of Republicans, but he also went on a personal campaign to try to get the city of Nyack, where he lives, to close an adult shop.

Townsfolk in Nyack ignored Baldwin so thoroughly they were mistaken as casting agents. Baldwin was desperate for attention, from his neighbors and from Hollywood. With Hollywood he began trawling the shows for failed actors, shows like "Celebrity Big Brother" and "Celebrity Apprentice." One sign of desperation was when he met a very young Miley Cyrus who was doing the Hannah Montana show for Disney. Miley told Baldwin if got the initials of her show tattooed on his arm she would invite him to be on the show. He did it and then asked Miley for a walk-on part in exchange. After never getting the bit part Baldwin says he "regrets" his decision. Apparently Cyrus, the more mature of the two, didn't think Baldwin would take the offer seriously. She should have known better, this is a man who takes Mike Huckabee seriously.

Falling to attract the attention of Hollywood, Baldwin turned to his neighbors. He started putting large signs in his yard with Bible verses for everyone to read. Then when the adult shop was set to open, Baldwin showed up with a camera and started filming the construction workers. He announced he would stand there and photograph anyone entering the adult shop and post their pictures on the web. He said, "It's the only way to protect us against these pigs."

Baldwin complained to Der Spiegel: We stare at our constitution, which is so full of rights that everyone gets mixed up and there are no more limits." Yep, that's the problem, too many rights and not enough Big Brother. Then like every new born Christian he turned his attention to Satan incarnate—gay people. "If one state after another allows gay marriage, maybe it'll be legal for a father to marry his daughter in ten years. What'll happen next? Can a woman marry her German Shepherd dog?" I suspect Mrs. Baldwin might find that more tempting today than a similar offer a few years ago. "Twenty years ago, the US mainstream considered gay marriage just as wrong and misguided as a woman marrying her dog." Wow, he really did become a fundamentalist, right down to the mandatory frontal lobotomy. A gay couple marrying is the moral equivalent, to Baldwin, to marrying a dog.

Taking clues from his brother's politics Baldwin showed up at a city meeting to oppose the adult shop. He said that such a business violated "environmental protection of the mind" and claimed that if adult books were allowed people would start taking drugs. Local Christians campaigned that the shop was bad for the "emotional environment." In a similar logic Baldwin said that if Obama won the election he'd be moving to Canada because Obama is “a cultural terrorist."

Failing at acting, Baldwin resorted to starting a "ministry" to get attention. Baldwin did manage to get some attention from the media, but that was because the bank foreclosed on his home. He defaulted on a $824,000 loan. Baldwin filed for bankruptcy saying he was millions in debt. As I understand it, Baldwin does not deny he owes people money. He just wants state permission to not pay his debts, because he was stupid with his finances. Now, what does the Bible say about not paying your debts? Isn't that the same thing as stealing? It's tough be a moralistic busybody, people expect you to live by the same sort of standards you apply to others. Actually, the porn shop, wasn't violating any one's rights. But, not paying people money you owe them, does violate the rights of those who lent money to you. By my standards Baldwin is far more immoral than the porn shop he was targeting. They didn't hurt anyone else, Baldwin did.

Once Baldwin went into bankruptcy to escape the debts he racked up, some people commented about the situation. At this point fundamentalists kicked into gear. According to them saying anything about Baldwin that he, or they, didn't like, is "persecution." I kid you not. Fundamentalists these day have a very low threshold when it comes to defining "persecution." If they can't preach in public schools, to other people's children, that is persecution. If they aren't given tax money to promote their faith, that is persecution. If you look at the cross-eyed, that is persecution. And you are most certainly "persecuting" them is you chuckle at their ridiculous antics. For Christ's sake, that's just as bad as burning them at the stake. Of course, historically most persecution of Christians was conducted by other Christians.

Here are examples of what these fundamentalists define as "The Persecution" of Stephen Baldwin. I will list all the ones on a Christian web site that is trying to raise money for Baldwin. Please note that no one tried to use the law to put him out business, not like he did to the adult shop. No one tried to harass him, as he promised to do to customers of the adult shop, and as he did to construction workers on site. All the persecution amounted to saying things. Here are all the examples they list.
It seems like God isn't watching over him.

This sucks for him.

Why can't he just pray to Jesus, the conservative.

Why doesn't God just pay his mortgage payments?

He's such a loser and it's sad.
Good god, how did the man endure such torment. The man who called the patrons of an adult business "pigs" is being persecuted because someone said he was "a loser." Apparently the new Golden Rule of the Christian fundamentalist is: "Don't do unto us what we routinely do unto others."

According to the Christian website that is raising funds for Baldwin, he went bankrupt because he is a Christian.

In 2003, he had an experience that changed his life forever. He became (sic) Born Again Christian, giving his life to Jesus Christ. Over the next few years, he became very vocal about his faith, using his spotlight to boldly preach the gospel. However, because of this (sic) convictions it has caused him the loss of many jobs and the most recently, a highly publicized bankruptcy (sic).
Being an incomplete sentence it is hard to figure out what they mean, but it seems they are saying that Baldwin's "convictions" are the reasons he is reneging on debts he racked up. And they are saying he was discriminated against because of his religion. The one problem with that claim is that Baldwin's agent had denied that happened, but that was before Baldwin had to declare bankruptcy and needed pity.

Is this fund raising effort from Baldwin, who says he has only $1 million in assets, out of some charitable impulse? Not really. It is to prove fundamentalist Christianity is true. This website says that due to the welching on debts Baldwin has been "ridiculed and insulted by people who think that he has been abandoned by God." According to them, "people not only mock Stephen, but mock God."

So this fund raising effort will prove that God is real and that he really does like fundamentalists. "Our vision is to see Stephen Baldwin publicly restored in front of millions. Stephen's platform will increase allowing him to reach even more people with the Gospel and God will get all of the glory. Publicly."

Now that surprises me. Exactly how would God be responsible if a bunch of fundamentalists donate money to a millionaire who racked up too many debts? God wouldn’t rescue Baldwin, these people would. In the Old Testament, when the Jews allegedly wandered around the wilderness lost for 40 years (so much for divine guidance), God dropped "manna" from heaven so they can eat. No one organized people to send corn to the very lost Hebrews, it was supposedly a real miracle. But like their persecution threshold level, the level for miracles has cheapened substantially for fundies.

If these god-botherers dig into their pockets to help Baldwin that doesn't prove there is a God, and it certainly doesn't prove that any deity smiles on them. If they fail, they wouldn't say that proves god is a fraud, or that god doesn't like them. Then it would be the selfish individuals who didn't donate who are to bear the blame. It their appeal works out it is God who did it, if it fails he is not responsible.

Let us consider what is going on here, really going on here.

Fundamentalists, as much as they ridicule "fame" and "fortune" are acutely aware that they really are near the bottom of the social ladder, just about everywhere they live. They yearn for celebrities to embrace them, even if the celebrities are d-list Hollywood has-beens. Your typical fundamentalist is less educated than average, less wealthy than average, and most clearly less intelligent than average. Every poll of religious beliefs show that as you move down the intelligence ladder, fundamentalism increases, as does poverty, crime rates, illiteracy, divorce rates, etc.

People in that position tend to respond in two ways. One is by attacking the very things they envy. I remember riding in a church bus of one of the largest fundamentalist churches in America as it road past the Gold Coast apartments on Chicago's ritzy North Shore. Even as they wished they could live there they announced how they really pitied those "poor people in the penthouses" who "don't know Jesus" like they do. See, they "had riches here on earth, but we have mansions waiting for us in heaven." Sure, keep telling yourself that.

But while obviously putting down wealth, because they didn't have any, they also were fascinated by it. This is why they embraced such minor celebrities as Colonel Sanders of chicken fame, or the very mediocre singer, Anita Bryant. More recently we saw this desperation for celebrity fame when the Christians rushed to embrace Carrie Prejean, before her amateur porn films became public knowledge. Carrie was a runner-up in a beauty contest who hated gays, and that was all they needed. After all, she was on television! We see the same fame worship in the blog raising funds for Baldwin. There are many Christians in financial trouble, but who is raising funds for them. Instead of raising funds for them they pick Baldwin for charity because he "is no stranger to the Hollywood life of glitz, glamour and the public eye." And that really is why they are taking up a collection to help him.

This has-been actor gives them the ability to pretend that they really are as important as they like to think they are. This is their shot at fame, by clutching the pathetic shirt tails of one of Hollywood's least important has-beens. And, as an added benefit, they can pretend that success (which is unlikely to come here) will prove that God exists—but as I noted, proof in the fundamentalist mind can go in only one direction, so failure will not be taken as a reason to abandon their faith.

Photos: To illustrate this article I have chosen some photos of the "illustrious" roles that Stephen Baldwin scored—take that scummy Scientologists. Now, aren't you impressed?

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