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Here’s why people hate Joel Osteen

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John Beagle View Drop Down
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    Posted: Aug 31 2017 at 10:22am
By Kate Bowler 

Twitter is loathing Houston’s megawatt-smile, mega-pastor Joel Osteen right now. What gives?

The question over whether Osteen’s 38,000-member Lakewood Church has sufficiently aided in the disaster relief effort in the wake of Hurricane Harvey has, once again, made America’s prince of the prosperity gospel into an object of social media contempt.

With his yachts and jets and endlessly-smiling mouth offering promises of “Your Best Life Now” (that’s the name of his best-selling book), Osteen was already a subject of contempt among Americans, in general.

But in the past few days he has been lambasted as being, at best, sluggish in providing emergency aid to those suffering from the disaster and, at worst, a hypocrite who cares more about people’s wealth than welfare. In fairness, the city of Houston has more megachurches than any other metropolitan area in the country, with dozens of big-church celebrities to thrust into the spotlight at a time like this. So what is it about America’s grinning preacher that everyone hates so much?

I’ve been studying the American prosperity gospel for more than a decade, and I have come to the stunning conclusion that Joel Osteen seems to be a pretty nice guy. He is the cheery advertisement for the 606,000-square-foot Lakewood Church and, with the gorgeous Victoria by his side, tours the country in packed-out arenas to bring “A Night of Hope” — a religion-lite, inspirational speech set to music. And, for those who don’t mind waiting a few minutes after the service, he will shake your hand and tolerate your comment about how his hair looks even better in real life. It does.

But there are three main reasons long after this controversy passes, Joel Osteen will still be the preacher America loves to hate — and perhaps for Christians more than others.

Number 1. Joel Osteen represents the Christian 1 percent. From aerial views of his jaw-dropping mansion to the cut of his navy suits, he always looks like a man with a good reason to be smiling. He is a wealthy man who unapologetically preaches that God has blessed him, with the added bonus that God can bless anyone else, too. The promise of the prosperity gospel is that it has found a formula that guarantees that God always blesses the righteous with health, wealth and happiness. For that reason, churchgoers love to see their preachers thrive as living embodiments of their own message. But the inequality that makes Osteen an inspiration is also what makes him an uncomfortable representation of the deep chasms in the land of opportunity between the haves and the have-nots. When the floodwaters rise, no one wants to see him float by on his yacht, as evidenced by the Christian satire website the Babylon Bee’s shot Tuesday at Osteen: “Joel Osteen Sails Luxury Yacht Through Flooded Houston To Pass Out Copies Of ‘Your Best Life Now.’ ”

Number 2. There is a lingering controversy around prosperity megachurches and their charitable giving. When a church that places enormous theological weight on tithes and offerings is not a leader in charitable giving, the most obvious question is about who is the primary beneficiary of the prosperity gospel? The everyman or the man at the front?

Number 3. For many Christians, in particular, the prosperity gospel has an unpopular answer to the problem of evil in the world. Its central claim — “Everyone can be prosperous!”—contains its own conundrum. How do you explain the persistence of suffering? It might be easier to say to someone undergoing a divorce that there is something redemptive about the lessons they learned, but what about a child with cancer? This week, the prosperity gospel came face-to-face with its own theological limits. It was unable to answer the lingering questions around what theologians call “natural evil.” There is a natural curiosity about how someone like Osteen will react in the face of indiscriminate disaster. Is God separating the sheep from the goats? Will only the houses of the ungodly be flooded? The prosperity gospel has never found a robust way to address tragedy when their own theology touts that “Everything Happens for a Reason.”

The good news is that the prosperity gospel, as a movement, is still young. It still has time to be ready when the next natural disaster strikes and people want to be assured that their religious giants are offering more than their thoughts and prayers.

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The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.
-Joseph Campbell
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Houndog View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Houndog Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 01 2017 at 7:54am
PT Barnum would never believe how easy it has become to separate a fool and his money.
The 'prosperity gospel' is the epitome of wealth worship. He is simply running a very successful pryimid scheme. But his has no base,nor tip.
For he is peddling an invisible product. The man is pure genius.
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vegasmayor View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote vegasmayor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 01 2017 at 11:38am
I am obviously in the camp that thinks you can believe whatever you choose to believe.  If that's god, have at it.  If that's believing there is no god, have at it.  But it will never cease to amaze me to watch people who claim to be followers of a guy name Jesus, and then totally disregard his very teachings.  If I'm correct, Jesus spoke more about money (and the dangers of it) more than any other subject matter.  He, himself, lived like a pauper and was careful not to accumulate wealth, right?  Many pastors today seem to live in direct opposition to the teachings of the very person they call their teacher.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote John Beagle Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 01 2017 at 12:07pm
Originally posted by vegasmayor vegasmayor wrote:

I am obviously in the camp that thinks you can believe whatever you choose to believe.  If that's god, have at it.  If that's believing there is no god, have at it.  But it will never cease to amaze me to watch people who claim to be followers of a guy name Jesus, and then totally disregard his very teachings.  If I'm correct, Jesus spoke more about money (and the dangers of it) more than any other subject matter.  He, himself, lived like a pauper and was careful not to accumulate wealth, right?  Many pastors today seem to live in direct opposition to the teachings of the very person they call their teacher.

Nice to hear you support the First Amendment. 
The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.
-Joseph Campbell
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote fiveisalimit Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 01 2017 at 6:59pm
"Heavenly Bank Account"

And if these words you do not heed
Your pocket book just kinda might recede
When some man comes along and claims a godly need
He will clean you out right through your tweed

That's right, remember there is a big difference between
kneeling down and bending over...

He's got twenty million dollars
In his Heavenly Bank Account.. .
All from those chumps who was
Born again
Oh yeah, oh yeah
He's got seven limousines
And a private plane...
All for use of his
Special Friends
Oh yeah, oh yeah
He's got thousand-dollar suits
And a Wembley Tie...
Girls love to stroke it
While he's on the phone
Oh yeah, oh yeah
At the House of Representatives
He's a groovy guy. . .
When he Gives Thanks He is not alone. . .

He is dealin'
He is really dealin' IRS can't determine
Where The Hook is
It is easy with the Bible
To pretend that
You're in Show Biz
They won't get him
They will never get him
For the naughty stuff
That he did
It is best in cases like this
To pretend that
You are stupid

He's got Presidential Help
All along the way
He says the grace
While the lawyers chew
Oh yeah
They sure do
And the Governors agree to say: "He's a lovely man!"
He makes it easier for
Them to screw
All of you...
Yes, that's true!
'Cause he helps put
The Fear of God
In the Common Man
Snatchin' up money
Everywhere he can
Oh yeah Oh yeah
He's got twenty million dollars
In his Heavenly Bank Account
You ain't got nothin', people
You ain't got nothin', people
You ain't got nothin', people
Thank the man.. .oh yeah

Frank Zappa 1981

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Houndog Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Sep 01 2017 at 10:57pm
Zappa was a champion of the First Amendment. He stood up to Tipper Gore, Congress and their bullsh!t Parental Advisory stickers.
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