The Jamaica Gleaner began its publications for 2009 in fine fettle. As has become the tradition over the past few years, the newspaper starts out the new year on a good foot by publishing an exhaustive list of “prophetic” utterances pronounced as the “Word of the Lord”. To keep its readers in suspense (and I suspect to sell more papers) the Gleaner publishes the list in installments.

What is baffling is that the newspaper has conferred adjunct Bible status upon itself by claiming that the list of inanities it persists in publishing each New Year’s Day is the “Word of God”.  The band of “prophets” who furnish the newspaper with their nonsense are never challenged on the inerrancy of their mutterings. Has the Gleaner examined last year’s prognostications to judge which ones came to pass and which missed the boat?

As I recall, the most famous prophet of them all, one Phillip Phinn, hung up his mantle after his famous Portia and Hillary prophecies fizzled out like damp fireworks on New Year’s Eve, and sought solace in managing other people’s money in a Forex fund called Faith. Well, we know how those fortunes went, and will wait to witness the promise of payouts in the months ahead.

The list of predictions is laughably much more vague than your average daily horoscope, its tepid non-committal statements lending to it an air of mystery (or is it doubt?), and the prophets and prophetesses feel constrained to leave a charming disclaimer to protect God from disrepute and themselves from public ridicule, just in case His words do not come to pass.  One thing they have never omitted over the years, and it is their dire warning to the nation’s leaders, businessmen and congregations far and wide, to tithe. God wants that ten percent! And here is where it always gets ridiculous: the size of the seed you sow can be affixed to the numbers of a psalm or in the Jewish year!  The “word” claims that “God wants to give His people revelation in order to get wealth.”

Pity God didn’t give His people any revelation on the collapse of Cash Plus and Olint, but these prophets are banking on the short memories of their readers. They are still mercilessly coming after your money, American or Jamaican dollars, even in this time of hardship for so many. “Sow a seed (US$ or J$) of $57.69 according to this Jewish year 5769. Sow a seed (US$ or J$) of $107 extra monthly, according to Psalm 107. Sow this for your harvest – 5 major blessings await you. Sow also (US$ or J$) a seed of $8,717 or $717 for your breakthrough!”  Add to that the “eye of newt, and toe of frog” to season and complete this cauldron of absurdity.

The saddest part is that there are those who hang on to every word of these deluded souls as gospel, and will move heaven and earth to find the appropriate US dollars to pay for their breakthrough. And they never learn.

Why the Gleaner persists in categorizing this tawdry report as real News is beyond me. It provides comic relief and belongs right there in the Entertainment section.  For reasoned predictions concerning economic and geopolitical issues, I’d rather hedge my bets with the usual pundits, thank you!

Categories: Opinion

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[…] Porter at Abeng News Magazine is less than impressed with the Jamaica Gleaner's New Year tradition of “publishing an […]


Interesting piece! One is of the perspective that you will see more of these types coming out of the woodwork as a consequence of the harsh economic times that we are experiencing in Jamaica. Also, we may start to see the ONLINE ones taking advantage of gullible and confused Jamaicans!!

Trevor Dawes

I agree that these ‘prophecies’ are more fit to be in the entertainment section than to be posited as ‘real’ news. The truth, however, is that just about every major newspaper in any number of countries quote folks who profess to be in the know about what the new year will bring, at least from their perspective. I mean the NY Times and the Wall St. Journal, among others, do it but they are careful to let their readers know that the opinions are those being quoted and not their editorial stance and they surely don’t ascribe divine thought to them. I guess that’s what happens when the role of religion in a society is of such a major significance.

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