Posted in theology

About “Aunt Becky”: The fragility of reputation and the devastating consequences of sin

By Elizabeth Prata

aunt becky
Lori Loughlin as character Aunt Becky. Source

 

The iniquities of a wicked man entrap him; the cords of his own sin entangle him. (Proverbs 5:22)

Yesterday I’d written a few thoughts on the massive college admission cheating scandal uncovered in in the US. You can read that essay here.

One of the people indicted in the scandal is actress Lori Loughlin. Loughlin has been an actress for many years, appearing in television shows such as Full House and its reboot, Fuller House, (as ‘Aunt Becky’), Hallmark TV series such as When Calls the Heart and Hallmark movie series Garage Sale Mysteries, Hallmark’s Christmas films, and family movies such as Moondance Alexander.

Lori Loughlin has built her career on ‘wholesomeness’. Some actors always play the ‘tough guy’. Clint Eastwood comes to mind. Others have built a career on playing the goofy sidekick, or the strong silent type. Steve Buscemi is typecast as a smarmy weirdo, Samuel L. Jackson is typecast as hard-core fierce. Others, such as Loughlin, were blessed with the ability to pick and choose, and Loughlin consistently chose roles depicting her as “wholesome” and “heartwarming”.

The Hallmark Channel brings to mind holidays, happy endings and now, incongruously, a college admissions scam that involves one of the channel’s favored actresses. Lori Loughlin’s surprising arrest this week poses a challenge for the family-friendly brand with heartland roots. The allegation that Loughlin paid bribes to gain her daughters’ college admissions is unconnected to Hallmark, but her career and the channel have become intertwined, [as the article explains].

Though Loughlin played wholesome characters for most of her acting life, we know from both the Bible and from experience that an actor’s life is often very different than their carefully crafted camera persona. When “wholesome, family-friendly actress” meets alleged “cheating bribery fraudster” it’s a clash that wounds. The wider the gap between inner and outer man, the worse the fall.

“[Hallmark’s] a feel-good, family values-type channel, and obviously scandal is the opposite of that,” said Atlanta-based market strategist Laura Ries. “Will people get past that to love the character on screen and not the real person?” (source again).

It did not take long for Hallmark to drop Loughlin. I really like Loughlin in Garage Sale Mystery. Last week I was looking at Internet Movie Database for the release dates of the Garage Sale Mystery movies I knew were in development, and if I remember right, there were 4 of them in production or post-production. I’d give you a screen shot, but the IMDb actress page for Loughlin has been quickly changed to reflect Hallmark’s decision to fire Loughlin, and those movies have been deleted from the list.

Loughlin has also been dropped from Hallmark’s Christmas movies and Netflix’s comedy Fuller House. Loughlin reportedly will not appear in the last season of Fuller House, as of this writing. Her appearance as Abigail Stanton in When Calls the Heart has also been pulled.

All this in one week. Hallmark’s statement:

We are no longer working with Lori Loughlin and have stopped development of all productions that air on the Crown Media Family Network channels involving Lori Loughlin including Garage Sale Mysteries, an independent third party production.

When Calls The Heart statement:

The series will not air this Sunday March 17 while we are evaluating all creative options around the When Calls the Heart series. #Hearties please keep checking back to our social for all updates related to the beloved When Calls The Heart. (Statement here.)

Loughlin’s alleged corruption and involvement in fraud and bribery immediately destroys the fragile bubble she has built. She has squandered all her “reputation capital”. Hallmark, “As the country’s leading destination for quality family entertainment,” stated in their ‘About Us’, trades on wholesomeness, too, & does not want to be tainted by Loughlin’s taint. Hence, Lori is dropped like a hot potato.

Simply put, The Situation Between Lori Loughlin, Netflix & Hallmark Is A Mess.

 

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Lori Loughlin describes herself as a Catholic, which we know means if she believes the dogmas of Rome, she is not saved. Her inner man is not being daily sanctified to reflect the face of Jesus.

They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. (Ephesians 4:1).

The unregenerate inner man can only fake it for so long. One’s sin will always find you out.

But if you will not do so, behold, you have sinned against the Lord, and be sure your sin will find you out. (Numbers 32:23).

Sin is hard enough to master with the aid of the Holy Spirit, it’s a daily battle. Without the Spirit, one has zero chance of reforming one’s desires for very long.

If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you refuse to do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires you, but you must master it. (Genesis 4:7).

Reputation and trust are fragile things. In Christendom, when someone we look up to like a pastor or leader falls ‘below reproach,’ that trust is broken and he can never lead or shepherd again. Sin happens among Christ’s people, of course. We’ve seen the fall of Art Azurdia, (adultery), RC Sproul Jr, (adultery, and also drinking), Tom Chantry, (child assault) and Mark Driscoll, (financial malfeasance, sexist comments, bullying, more…). However, the forgiving Jesus will forgive the sin but He does not forget that the line was crossed. They forfeit their role forever.

For us Christians, it’s doubly important to daily call upon the Spirit in us to continue mortifying sin. We have to be active and focused on putting off that old man-

to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, (Ephesians 4:22).

Undealt-with sin will cause a Christian to ‘fall.’ (Though we can never again be lost; John 10:28). Our fall is worse than an actress’s wasted reputation, because it’s the reputation of Jesus that we besmirch. We’re ambassadors of His name and character. We are trophies of His grace.

In the secular world, celebrities and actors whose reputations were shattered overnight include Mel Gibson, Paula Deen, Martha Stewart, Miley Cyrus. Sometimes the brotherhood of sinners will eventually forget and forgive. Sometimes not. Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle’s acting career never recovered from his 1920s scandal. It does not look like Roseanne will recover from her racist tweet. Matthew McConaghey’s reputation failed, started to come back, failed again.

Time will tell of Loughlin’s reputation. However, one must ask, was it worth it? The half a million she allegedly spent on her daughter’s bribe, plus the $1M she spent on bail, plus the $1M her husband spent on bail… all for naught, as apparently their daughter Olivia Jade “didn’t know how much time she was going to spend in class” because she “doesn’t really care about college, as you guys know.”

I am personally disappointed, because I like Lori Loughlin’s work. I’m sad that her sin not only crouched at the door but entered and eventually opened the door wide for all of us to see the seaminess of her heart and mind. I’m disappointed, but not surprised. Sin is what sinners do. I think of the earnest college kids and their honest parents whose way was perverted by allegedly unscrupulous people like Loughlin and the others who were indicted.

The wicked accepts a bribe in secret to pervert the ways of justice. (Proverbs 17:23).

But it did not stay a secret.

Woe to those who bribe. God said that bribery engenders His wrath. (Proverbs 21:14). My prayer is that though she claims to love God (as a Catholic), this event that’s shattered her reputation and career will cause her to do some introspection and hopefully, repentantly, call upon Jesus as her savior.

He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity. (Ecclesiastes 5:10).

Only Jesus ever satisfies. All else is vanity.

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Further Reading

What Does the Bible Say about Bribery?

Felicity Huffman, Lori Loughlin sued for $500 billion over college admissions bribery scandal

As Hallmark fires Lori Loughlin, here’s why her alleged role in the college bribery scandal hit a nerve

I used to listen to radio personality Howie Carr when I lived in New England.

Howie Carr: Ruh-roh! College scammers ooze entitlement

The original FBI affidavit. 204 pages. It recounts the credibility of the primary investigating officer, lists the methods of investigation, the colleges and universities participating, transcribes phone conversations, and presents other evidence.

AFFIDAVIT IN SUPPORT OF CRIMINAL COMPLAINT

Posted in theology

“The rich are different”

See also, may be of interest: About “Aunt Becky”: The fragility of reputation and the devastating consequences of sin

By Elizabeth Prata

The news broke a couple of days ago that 50 people; celebrities, coaches, and wealthy financiers, have partaken in the United States’ largest college admission cheating scandal ever. These people paid up to $6 million funneled through a fake non-profit to assure their children’s acceptance to Ivy League and other distinguished universities like Yale, Georgetown, Stanford, and the University of Southern California. Bribery, lies, and corruption are at the heart of this scandal, the root of which is money. If you want to read more about it here is a link describing how the cheating and bribery worked, plus some other links below. Headlines regarding this recently uncovered corrupt activity include “massive” and “explosive.”

Initially I did not follow this news. I declined to read about it or learn more. I thought to myself, ‘What’s new? The rich always use their money to pressure others, bribe, or introduce corruption, so as to get their way. And what’s so different about the colleges? They’re bastions of secular, worldly philosophy, so of course there’s favoritism and unfairness.’ But as the week continued it became apparent how enormous the cheating scandal was.

I got to thinking about the money involved.

I started thinking about how love of money truly is the root of all evil. (1 Timothy 6:10).

In one of his early short stories called ‘The Rich Boy‘,  (1929) F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote,

Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand. They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different.

The book that more claimed my attention in my formative years as a young adult was the 1987 novel by Tom Wolfe called The Bonfire of the Vanities. It’s seen as Wolfe’s magnum opus and is thought to be the quintessential book of the era. The 1980s were all about excess, Wall Street, race, class, money, and greed. Wolfe’s book captured all of that. The main character styled himself as a “Master of the Universe”.

Another phrase that comes to mind besides Master of the Universe is ‘Captain of Industry.’ We know from history there have always been men who were on top, machinators of events, driving industry in the direction they want to go, holding forth in their cities or towns, masterminding and manipulating circumstances and people. All this in regards to self and fulfillment of selfish wants.

You know the adage, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” as explained here. Lord Acton expressed that opinion in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887.

Given the Bible’s warnings about money being the root of all evil, I tend to believe it is less power adn more money that corrupts. Money makes it easier to satisfy self, to get what one wants. Those green bills fan the flames of discontent, and the flesh ever seeks to claim what it thinks it wants, thinks it deserves.

I got to thinking about the Bible’s men who were rich. Job, Abram, Isaac, Jacob, Solomon, Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea. Moses had all opportunity to live on Pharaoh’s riches, so did Joseph. Yet these men withstood the temptations that go along with money, and did the right thing. Poverty doesn’t automatically mean a person is virtuous, and riches don’t automatically mean a person is noble. But a noble, well-doing person who is wealthy AND virtuous, is honoring to God.

In the New Testament, there were people who weren’t especially wealthy, but the scriptures make note that they were generous givers. For example,

Dorcas was “full of good works and acts of charity“. (Acts 9:36).

Cornelius was “a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God”. (Acts 10:2)

Even the widow gave her mites out of her poverty. (Luke 21:4).

Money is not evil. The love of money is the evil. When a person loves money to the exclusion of other people’s good, or your own good, it’s loathsome. Substituting money for God as an idol is a soul-killer. When it’s used to bribe, God considers this evil.

Definition of bribe: persuade (someone) to act in one’s favor, typically illegally or dishonestly, by a gift of money or other inducement.

God forbids taking or giving a bribe. “for a bribe blinds the discerning and perverts the words of the righteous” (Exodus 23:8).

Again, we see this command in Deuteronomy 16:19, You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality, nor take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous.

The college admissions cheating scandal is a tremendous blot against those institutions, colleges, and universities named. Cheaters have been exposed. Sophocles said,

I would prefer even to fail with honor than win by cheating.

God help them if any of the cheaters were Christians. If they are wordly unsaved people, they have added this sin to their account.

money.jpg
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash
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The College Admissions Bribery Scandal

USC says students connected to cheating scheme will be denied admission

First Lawsuits Filed Over College Admissions Bribery Scandal