Palm Beach

Haunting words: What did Jeffrey Epstein mean when he used the term 'spiritual stimulation'?

Haunting words: What did Jeffrey Epstein mean when he used the term 'spiritual stimulation'?

I have followed the acidic soap operas (timeline here) surrounding Jeffrey Epstein for more than a decade. That may sound strange, but there’s a logical reason — I lived in West Palm Beach from 2001-2005 and taught at Palm Beach Atlantic University, right next to the mini-towers of Trump Plaza.

Yes, that was a long time ago, back when Donald Trump was embracing his good buddies Bill and Hillary Clinton and acting like a rather mainstream Democrat, in terms of moral and social issues. And it was impossible to read the news in the Sixth Borough of New York without bumping into the kingdom of Trump. That included, from time to time, the people being courted — socially speaking — by Epstein and Co.

Life behind the scenes? That, of course, is where everyone who cares about the details of this sordid affair has to dig into the essential “Perversion of Justice” series by Julie Brown of The Miami Herald. Download it into an iPad program of some kind, because you’ll have to read it in painful chunks.

So why bring this up here at GetReligion? To be blunt: I am waiting for some kind of religion shoe to drop, some angle linked to twisted religion or anti-religious convictions. In my experience, great evil almost always involves twisted religion or blunt, demonic rejection of what is good, beautiful and true.

In one recent story, I was struck by an Epstein statement — when he was a young prep-school teacher — that mentioned his use of “spiritual” activities with his students. Hold that thought.

Meanwhile, everyone is waiting to see the long lists of people who socialized with Epstein, did “business” with him or both. Some of those names — such as Bill Clinton and Donald Trump — are already known.

Will the list contain hypocrites as well as libertines? Of course it will. We live in a sinful and fallen world.

A new Vanity Fair piece on this scandal notes that it’s hard to talk about the mysteries of Epstein’s fortune without getting into the moral dynamics inside his entourage and clients:

In the absence of much other information, the reigning theory on Wall Street currently is that Epstein’s activities with women and girls were central to the building of his fortune, and his relations with some of his investors essentially amounted to blackmail.

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Sunday morning in Palm Beach: What happens when, and where, for Citizen Donald Trump?

Sunday morning in Palm Beach: What happens when, and where, for Citizen Donald Trump?

A decade or so ago, I lived in West Palm Beach, Fla., and taught at a campus on the other side of the Intercoastal Waterway from the famous, and infamous, world that is Palm Beach.

Now, the people who live in this enclave of big money tend to talk and, no surprise, one of things they love to talk about is people with money and how those people spend their money. A central question is whether the person being discussed is "old (inherited) money" or "new money."

The key: Those "new money" people (think Rush Limbaugh) have to graciously earn respect from the many Palm Beachers with old money, don't you know.

During the years I was there, I heard local folks say one thing over and over about Donald Trump, whose profile on both sides of the Intercoastal was, well, YYHHUUGGEE. Trump, folks agreed, was the ultimate example of "old money" who kept acting like "new money." This was not a compliment.

I pass along this observation because of that New York Times feature that ran the other day describing the life of the billionaire GOP front-runner through the eyes of a man who would certainly know the fine details -- the man who for decades served as the butler at Citizen Trump's Mar-a-lago estate in Palm Beach.

Anthony Senecal, now semi-retired, has to know the details of Trump's life, tastes and habits inside out. In light of the obsessive news coverage of Trump's life and beliefs during this campaign, what question would any reporter be SURE to ask if granted an interview with this butler?

Let's see if we can spot the God-shaped hole here. But first, the overture:

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