You might have heard that Oral Roberts University has seen some tumult recently, what with allegations that its President, Richard Roberts, used the school to fund a lavish lifestyle for himself and his family. Roberts, son of Oral, eventually resigned. Today we learn it was not his idea. It was God's idea.
Well of course it's a good idea.
God chose Thanksgiving to have the it's-time-for-you-to-explore-other-options talk with Roberts. That seems a bit rough, but no one said that firing people would be easy. God softened the blow a bit in a manner appreciated by management and H.R. officers everywhere: blaming the damned lawyers.
A lawsuit accuses Roberts of lavish spending at a time when the university faced more than $50 million in debt, including taking shopping sprees, buying a stable of horses and paying for a daughter to travel to the Bahamas aboard the university jet.
Roberts has previously said that God told him to deny the allegations. The week the lawsuit was filed, Richard Roberts said that God told him: "We live in a litigious society. Anyone can get mad and file a lawsuit against another person whether they have a legitimate case or not. This lawsuit … is about intimidation, blackmail and extortion."
God has totally been reading Overlawyered.com. But frankly I think it wasn't entirely cool for God to say that He lived in a litigious society. I know He was trying to build rapport, but let's face it, no one has successfully served Him. But God used the carrot as well as the stick:
On Wednesday, Roberts said God told him he would "do something supernatural for the university," if he stepped down from the job he held at the 5,700-student school since 1993.
I suppose it's too much to hope this might fall into the "rain of frogs" category.
It's worth noting that God has a record of talking to the Roberts family. (This should not be a surprise. It's merely an extension of God's love for the least of us. Consider, for instance, Jesus' hanging out with tax collectors, lepers, and prostitutes.) Wikipedia reminds us:
He founded Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1963, stating he was obeying a command from God. . . .
In 1977 Roberts claimed to have a vision from a 900-foot-tall Jesus who told him to build City of Faith Medical and Research Center . . . .
In 1980, Roberts said he had a vision which encouraged him to continue the construction of his City of Faith Medical and Research Center . . . . In 1983 Roberts said Jesus had appeared to him in person and commissioned him to find a cure for cancer. . . .
In 1987, during a fundraising drive, Roberts announced to a television audience that unless he raised $8 million by that March, God would "call him home" . . . . Later that year, he announced that God had raised the dead through Roberts' ministry.
Perhaps God will keep talking to the Roberts until they get it right. Perhaps this is merely another sign of God's well-established sense of humor. Either of those options is easier to live with than grappling with the question of why it seems like the most venal and grasping and narcissistic among us are the ones who get the most press for talking about God.
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