Wal-Mart’s pushing the Osteen poison

After spending all weekend grappling with revising an essay, I figured a good balancing measure would be a 10 p.m. Sunday night trip to Wal-Mart. I was not disappointed. A brotha struck up a conversation with me in the DVD section over some action movie I hadn’t seen, and berated me for not having seen “300.” And the mullets never rest at Wal-Mart, be it Sunday night or any other time.

I saw two products that put the fear of God into me anew: One was a 2-CD set called “Thomas Kinkade: Handel’s Messiah.” I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Oprah puts her stamp of approval on a book, or Kinkade on a CD, and people go out and start reading and listening.
kinkade handel’s messiah
Reading and listening are good things, especially when the material is first-rate, as it is in the Handel case. And the Kinkadians might get their taste expanded in a healthy way. I guess I hate to see Handel presented as if he had to be endorsed by TK in order to have credibility.

Wal-Mart is also pushing Joel Osteen’s new book in a big way: Become a Better You. (I saw two giant sales displays in the store: one was for Osteen, the other was for the movie “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry.”) I flipped through Osteen’s book, and quickly came to realize that it’s a collection of reworked sermons from the past couple of years. The chapter that gave it away was the one on your “bloodline.” One of my favorite Osteen moments was when he gave that sermon: he looked out at his stadium full of 10,000+ people, of whom many were normal and even sub-normal in various respects. He said to them, “I don’t believe I’m looking at ordinary people . . . I’m looking at thoroughbreds.”

To quote Christopher Hitchens from his debate last month with Dinesh D’Souza, “gag me with a spoon.” But Joel knows what the people come to hear, and he gives it to them. He seems to think that one can “choose” whether to be sick or healthy. In his new book, he talks of a woman whose debilitating disease disappeared. This was not a miracle, but a result of her choosing to “live under the blessing” and not “under the curse.” (quoted from memory). Name it and claim it! I think we should be thankful that the world does not work that way.



8 Responses to “Wal-Mart’s pushing the Osteen poison”

  1. storbakken Says:

    I was recently at a Barnes & Noble and saw Osteen’s book right next to Donald Trump’s new book, “Think Big and Kick Ass.” That’s the actual title. I thought it’d be great if Trump and Osteen collaborated on their next book. The title: “Become a Better You and Kick Ass!”


  2. Curly Says:

    That’s great. They really should get together. Osteen could land a whole new demographic of readers by adopting a little more Charles Bronson to offset his overwhelmingly “Barney” ethos.

  3. Andrew Tome Says:

    What do you think the people come to hear from Joel? His message is that healing comes by faith, believing that God will heal. Therefore, envisioning yourself overcoming an illness will only strengthen your faith (power of thought).

  4. Curly Says:

    They come to get a big pat on the back, and the pat is all the more welcome when it has an aura of divinity surrounding it.

    They don’t come to hear that all have sinned, or that Jesus came to save sinners. You know, the Gospel message.

    If I envision Joel Osteen never writing another book or preaching another sermon, will my power of thought make it come about? Please say yes.

  5. Andrew Tome Says:

    You are generalizing, but regardless, I have been to his services, worked with his assistant pastors and directors, and I have observed that the entire ministry is much more balanced than it appears on its broadcast and in his books. But, he might have a different purpose/strategy for those extensions of their ministry. Joel might intend for his broadcast and books to center around self-help topics for Christians. There is nothing wrong with that; there is no limit as to what the Church can do to build itself up.

    I encourage you to read their beliefs: http://joelosteen.lakewood.cc/site/PageServer?pagename=JOM_whatwebelieve

    Even if you disagree with him or think he is unbalanced, as a fellow Christian, you can still take from him the things he is good at.

  6. Curly Says:

    Osteen preaches the Gospel According to Joel. In order not to come off as a total fraud, he finds it useful to retain certain elements of the truth. This is the hallmark of all heresies. If something is 100% unchristian, it’s no longer a heresy, but another religion altogether.

    Osteen focuses on career prosperity and physical health, and completely downplays—if not outright omits—the Bible. He brings it in at a couple of points in each sermon as a sort of quotations sourcebook. I mean, what kind of preacher has a sermon called “Living at your ideal weight?” That’s the sermon your nutritionist or personal trainer should be giving you.

    He mentions some Christian basics in his What We Believe page, but I have never heard him preach about such things on TV.

  7. Joe Miller Says:

    Cynics! What is the harm of encouragement ? Leave the judgment and condemnation for God!!!

    I’ve known hundreds of people who live a low life because they only focus on their aches and pains while the people with faith, hope and optimism may have the same condition but live a much higher life.

  8. Curly Says:

    Read the post, read the comments. Have a nice day!

    And don’t exaggerate (if you are exaggerating). How many of us actually have known “hundreds” of people? I barely have personal contact with a single hundred, let alone “know” several hundred.

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