“Outing Joel Osteen” – You Know, I Learned Something Today…
I have read the article, the two interviews that it is linking to, and all of the comments, and tried to analyze what I saw using my own experience. I think the Joel Osteen phenomenon dovetails nicely with what I posted earlier today. Osteen is apparently a marketing genius that found a chink in the armor of today’s American Evangelism and took advantage of the opportunity. He inherited his father’s business and was probably thinking, consciously or not, about ways to expand it – because, let’s face it, he sounds like a very good business man. He noticed that the churches around him were mostly offering the rules, the regulations, the guilt, and generally the different varieties of the same fire and brimstone message, so he offered the world something new – the Warm and Fuzzy Christianity. And the world bought it, because it was every bit as warm and fuzzy as advertised, and because the people had not been taught to analyze what they heard and think for themselves. This is, of course, my take on what happened, and I could be miles off – after all, I haven’t heard of Mr. Osteen until today.
What bothers me is, what if you’re a parishioner of Mr. Osteen’s and, for whatever reason, you do not see “God’s favor” in your life? Say, your wife is terminally ill, your kids are causing you problems, and you just lost your job? What do you do - assume that this is all happening to you because you lack faith? Make sure no one finds out? What happened to the part where you get closer to God because of the hardships you experience? What happened to the part where Jesus suffered and died on the cross? Shouldn’t we be like Him?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for enjoying life. The little things in life never fail to make me happy. We got fifteen inches of snow last weekend – when the snow ended, I was the happiest person in the world! I like a good laugh and I like a good time with friends. But I would never dream of making the good, happy feeling… sorry, “the positive attitude” the be all and end all in my life. We’re not here to make ourselves happy 100% of the time, no matter what it takes. We have bigger goals in our life. This is what, I guess, bothers me the most about the two interviews that I have read.
Let me close with a prayer that is a part of my daily rule. This is “the positive attitude” as I see it. If and when Mr. Osteen’s message begins to match what it says in this prayer, then I will say to everybody, follow this man. Until then – probably not a good idea.
Prayer of the Optina Elders
Grant unto me, O Lord, that with peace of mind I may face all that this new day is to bring.
Grant unto me to dedicate myself completely to Thy Holy Will.
For every hour of this day, instruct and support me in all things.
Whatsoever tidings I may receive during the day, do Thou teach me to accept tranquilly, in the firm conviction that all eventualities fulfill Thy Holy Will.
Govern Thou my thoughts and feelings in all I do and say.
When things unforeseen occur , let me not forget that all cometh down from Thee.
Teach me to behave sincerely and rationally toward every member of my family, that I may bring confusion and sorrow to none.
Bestow upon me, my Lord, strength to endure the fatigue of the day, and to bear my part in all its passing events.
Guide Thou my will and teach me to pray, to believe, to hope, to suffer, to forgive, and to love.