Friday, July 27, 2007

Oral Roberts and Me

Oral Roberts and Me

Please note that this is an updated version of a column I previously wrote. Part of the Son of a Son of a Gambler book will touch on my interactions with celebrities and this is a sample of one of those interactions.

"Now there are some preachers on TV with a suit and a tie and a vest.
They want you to send your money to the Lord, but they give you their address."

-Hank Williams Jr.

As an eighth grader in a Catholic school, I was once given an assignment to write a business letter. If the letter got a response, I got an A on the project.

My grandma was a huge fan of televangelist Oral Roberts. I was watching with her when Roberts said he always responded to anyone who wrote him.

I wrote him, got my A and was on his mailing list for nearly 20 years.

Thus began a 30-year period of people writing me for money.

I found out that magazines sell your name to affinity groups. In high school, I subscribed to Rolling Stone Magazine, which sold my name to every left-wing group in the world.

I was still receiving letters from Brother Oral and many pictures of his prayer tower. I even got return envelopes (Brother Oral never forget to send a donation envelope) with pictures of the prayer tower on the inside flap.

Along with that, I received mail daily from left-wing groups.

I would get letters from groups saving whales, groups saving baby seals and groups wanting to keep me, the whales and the seals away from nuclear reactors.

The letters had the same message as Oral Roberts: send us money.

During my senior year in high school, Oral Roberts University made a big effort to recruit me. After five years of being on the mailing list, they felt that I was part of the Oral Roberts family.

I had to be the only long-haired Democrat from a Catholic high school in Kentucky that they ever recruited. I still might be.

It was tempting as no other school wanted me. I was a lousy student with little money, and schools would reject my application within seconds.

Then I started telling people I was an Eskimo.

It happened by accident. I was taking some kind of national test, and there was a voluntary question concerning race. Since it was supposed to be voluntary, I left it blank. That did not suit the proctor, who insisted I check the Caucasian box. I refused, and checked the box for Inuit Americans instead.

My mother swears that she did not have a secret Eskimo lover, but I was angry about being forced to answer a "voluntary" question, so the Inuit designation stayed.

I was flooded with mail from colleges wanting to recruit one of the few Inuit Americans living in Kentucky. Oral Roberts University suddenly had competition.

I wound up at Eastern Kentucky University, which did not care about my grades or lack of Inuit heritage.

Although Oral Roberts eventually stopped writing, others persist in mailing me.

I gave money to Senator John Kerry sometime in the 1990's. He was the friend of a friend who got me to donate. I got to shake Kerry's hand and be on his mailing list.

Not long ago, I got a letter from Senator Kerry. It listed a variety of world problems, and then asked for $1,000. He did not say how he was going to solve the problems, but, according to the letter, sending him $1,000 would somehow make things better.

Brother Oral was smoother. He wrote me nice letters, sent autographed photos and never sent less than 10 pictures of the prayer tower. I never sent him any money, although I was tempted when he said he was going to die without it. I did root for the school's basketball team if my father had a bet riding on them.

Very few of Oral Roberts' followers voted for John Kerry for President. Some observers might point to their difference in ideology, but I'll bet the real issue is that people receiving mail from Brother Oral are used to higher quality letters.

They had to be thinking that if Kerry sends out garbage when he is asking for $1,000, there could be no telling what kind of stuff he would send out as president.

Thus, Kerry went down to defeat.

Oral Roberts suggested that prayer might be an answer to some of the world's problems. Kerry just listed a bunch of problems with no solutions.

Oral Roberts should have run for president instead. At least he had a plan.

The Poll

The following are the results from my last poll:

If you receive an injury settlement, would you give part of it to a stranger?

93.8% - No
6.3% - Yes

What will you do with your money when you die...

1. Leave it for your family - 29.4%
2. Give to a charity - 11.8%
3. Leave to a stranger - 0.0%
4. A combination of one and two - 52.9%
5. A combination of one, two, and three - 5.9%

This week there is one poll question:

How many books did you read last year?

To vote in this week's poll follow the link below. The poll will be on the left hand side of the web page.

Weekly Poll

Notes from Don

Three Executives Spared Prison in OxyContin Case

As expected, the cupcake deal that Presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani negotiated for the makers of OxyContin held up in federal court and none of the top executives went to jail for putting a deadly drug on the market.

Thanks to the Giuliani plea deal, the executives got a weaker sentence than most people arrested for possessing OxyContin.

Of course, those people don't have a presidential frontrunner as thier lawyer.

If this drama played out on the television show, Law and Order, I'd be curious to see what kind of deal Fred Thompson's prosecutor character would give Rudy's clients.

I suspect they would do some serious jail time.

This is one time where I wish television replaced real life.

New York Times Article

Previous columns on Rudy Giuliani:

Rudy Giuliani and the OxyContin People

The OxyContin Letters

Editor and Publisher Magazine

My upcoming book Son of a Son of a Gambler: Winners, Losers and What to Do When You Win the Lottery was mentioned in Editor and Publisher Magazine this week.

Kentucky Columnist Authors 'Gambler' Book

Rick Robinson's First Novel: The Maximum Contribution

P.J. O'Rourke and I added comments on the first novel by long time attorney and political operative, Rick Robinson's. Rick's book, The Maximum Contribution, is a political thriller that I gave a good review to. I am enclosing a link to an excellent article that Vicki Pritchard wrote for the Kentucky Post about Rick and his book.

Politics Fuels First Novel

The article notes my lavish praise for the novel. This is a stark contrast to the review Mr. Robinson gave my book, The Unbridled World of Ernie Fletcher. In response to my book, Robinson said, "Thank God the SOB wasn't writing back when I ran for office."

Don McNay is the author of the upcoming book: Son of a Son of a Gambler: Life's Winners and Losers and What to Do When You Win the Lottery. You can write to him at or read other things he has written at His award-winning column is syndicated throughout over 200 publications.

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