We love stories about cults, but for every successful, charismatic cult leader who can’t seem to do any wrong in the eyes of his followers, there’s some guy out there getting up every morning and doing the hard work of being a maniac for no reason. Matthew Payne is such a painfully lousy grifter that reading his terrible book felt like being held up at gunpoint by three toddlers in a trench coat.
I don’t usually give advice on creating cynical ploys to steal from people, but I think if you’re going to claim that you’re a prophet from God, you should have a splashy story. Something like “I was struck by lightning while holding a bible and a hamburger phone and now I can talk to God and also have a deep spiritual connection to the beef industry” or something. There’s none of that here. There’s just a series of books where a man claims to interview various celebrities from Heaven while just barely maintaining a wafer-thin veneer of believing his own bullshit. And the first celebrity he started with was famously uncontroversial pop star, Michael Jackson.
Seriously, this guy made a website for his prophetic ministries that says right on it: “My ministry objective is to sell my books for 99 cents on Kindle unless I am giving them away.” L. Ron Hubbard would come back to life just to shit his pants if someone put on the Scientology website that the goal of Scientology was to sell books and not cure people of sadness, ghosts, or whatever.
He also says that the Lord “put it in his heart” to request donations for his personal prophecies which he sells on his website. So, God is a capitalist, apparently. The Lord has called upon me to tell you to donate to 1900HOTDOG.com that we may fill our coffers with radical shit like a whole bunch of skateboards and whatever Sean and Brockway want, probably more skateboards I assume.
On top of personal prophecies, he also offers “trips to heaven,” which seem to take place over Zoom and cost one hundred dollars, BUT they are difficult to coordinate because Heaven is in a different time zone, so if you’re unable to connect to Heaven the prophet will graciously refund you fifty dollars! This is in no way a perpetual fifty dollars machine created by a con artist exclusively for the very stupid.
I’m uncomfortable with any process in which the final step is, “Go on a trip to Heaven,” but the fact it’s only $100 somehow makes it even shadier. If someone offered me a trip to Mexico for $100, I’d be suspicious. It seems like a trip to Heaven should cost more?
My final complaint about this author, before we get into how Michael Jackson feels about Heaven, is that he talks about religion very sexually. His Amazon author bio describes how he “receives great pleasure from interacting with people on Facebook” and calls himself a “passionate lover” of Jesus who hopes you will also come to know him “intimately.” It feels like he wrote it using a thesaurus for sex words only, but somehow in the only bad way.
Anyway, I know you’re dying to hear how Michael Jackson feels about Heaven. He’s hanging out with Whitney Houston, Princess Diana, and Steve Jobs, all of whom Matthew will be interviewing later. His only real concern in the afterlife is how the Amazon reviews for Matthew’s book will be.
As an author, I agree that being crucified and getting a bad Amazon review are essentially the same thing. Seriously though, Micheal Jackson’s number one concern from Heaven is shilling this book so hard you’d think he was auditioning for Heaven’s QVC.
The key to getting into Heaven is only ninety-nine cents on Amazon, you guys! Free if you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited. The bad news is Heaven, as described in this book, sounds like it sucks shit. I don’t want to be forced by God to return to Earth and shill eBooks for Matthew someday.
Also, Heaven has a mandatory weekly American Idol competition with a terrible scoring system that must have hundreds of thousands of entrants, and it’s all worship music. Everyone in Heaven has to listen to and score ALL of the songs in the competition. Jesus forces you to watch American Idol every week and then go to a big party for the winner. Here, I’ll let the maniac explain:
In this scenario, Heaven is less entertaining than a Burger King. Michael Jackson had the option to stay in Heaven and enjoy his American Idol victory or go to Burger King and tell Matthew about it –along with every tiny detail about the rules of it– and he picked Burger King. He’s friends with Elvis and Michael Hutchence in Heaven, but he picked Matthew, at Burger King, to immediately rush to with this news.
Michael Jackson talks about Matthew a lot in the book. He really seems to enjoy hyping Matthew up. Telling him how good his book is, which is a little arrogant since it’s a book largely about Michael Jackson, and how anyone who says the book is bad should be prayed for because they are probably going to hell. Don’t worry guys; I’m not going to hell for bashing this book; it’ll be for that thing I did last summer. (Told Sarah Palin to go on The Masked Singer).
Another dumb thing about Heaven is no one is horny. Zero horniness at all in Heaven. Automatically I’m out. Heaven is a place where you don’t like big butts, and you cannot lie. How do you have fun!?
Ok, this man sounds chronically horny. Like his boners haunt him. So I can understand the appeal of a lack of lust in Heaven to him. There’s also a section in this book about there being no judgment in Heaven, and it heavily implies people judge each other too much for things like infidelity, even if they and their wife have moved on. Feels very specific to a particular situation, but oh well it’s probably something from Michael Jacksons’ personal life he’s not ready to share publicly yet.
Other than weekly American Idol, Michael keeps busy in Heaven by doing motivational speaking. Yes, this implies there is a lack of motivation in Heaven, and men who think they know how to fix it. Ok, it’s just hitting me now; this may be Matthews’s version of Heaven, but he’s definitely describing my Hell. Me and Tony Robbins, both very unaroused, listening to six thousand worship songs a week.
Weirdly, Michael Jackson only seems to have knowledge that he admits Matthew also has. I think we’re supposed to be impressed that Michael knows so much about Matthew’s inner thoughts, but that’s like asking me to be impressed that a children’s party magician knew there was going to be a rabbit in his hat.
The eternal spirit of Michael Jackson does casually mention he was murdered, and later implies it was by the Illuminati because he says his one regret in life was getting involved with the Illuminati instead of getting closer to Jesus. I get that, though; the Illuminati throw way better parties.
I’m so offended by the idea that Michael Jackson would come down from Heaven to tell a story about meeting a guy at a Burger King to talk about the judging rules for The Dead Got Talent, meanwhile skipping over the part where he was murdered by the Illuminati. The man was an entertainer. He would know how to write a more compelling narrative than this! Even Matthew seems to know that people were probably hoping for some juicer Michael Jackson gossip than they got, because this is how he ended the book:
He wasn’t too busy to visit Burger King, but he was too busy to explain how the Illuminati murdered him? Burger King! If I were going to come back from Heaven to a burger restaurant it would be, at minimum, a Five Guys. He really needs to improve his burger restaurant of choice if he’s going to make me believe the Illuminati murdered Michael Jackson.
After reassuring you that he knows you probably didn’t like the book, Matthew finishes up by straight-up threatening you with the wrath of God if you make fun of it. He dares you to “negatively promote” this book on the penalty of going to hell. Apparently, God is super invested in Amazon reviews.
As someone raised in the church, I know that “I’ll pray for you” is the Christian “Fuck off.” It says, “You have done something that needs praying for. You might not be aware of it yet, but luckily I am, so I’ll ask God to forgive you, but you know he probably won’t.” It’s a savage way to end a book that I’m confident was dictated from a weird Simon Cowell-produced Hell.