Monday, May 30, 2005

Joel Osteen, Come On Down!

You're the next nominee on The Person Is Horrible!

Um, I mean, you're the next nominee for the Braffy Award, Crushed by Inertia's very first major award ceremony/soft drink launch cross-promotional tie-in. During the opening moments of the ceremony, I will personally a 1-gallon bottle of tepid Mountain Dew in under 2 minutes, in celebration of Pepsi Co.'s latest and greatest soft drink flavor, Mountain Dew: Warm. It's the world's first room temperature soda! So, you know, be sure to set the TiVO to record the pre-show gala on E!, or you'll miss that, and of course the Black Eyed Peas warming up the crowd outside. I hear that white girl might show her abs, so you don't want to miss out on that.

But on to the nomination. This is the first public, open nomination for a Braffy, so I'm very excited. I wasn't sure anyone would take the initiative nominate candidates. But just this week, I've had three actual real suggestions, two from people who aren't even related to me.

Those first two, Dennis Miller and Christopher Hitchens, are both truly wretched, intellectual irresponsible and hypocritical people, making them ideal for this list. Stay tuned to see if either of them makes the final cut. (Extraordinarily likely...I'm gathering research even as we speak).

But the latest nominee, suggested by my very own brother (and noted Barnes & Noble customer assistance specialist) Jonathan, is Minister Joel Osteen of the Lakewood Church of Houston, Texas. And no, Joel's not just nominated because he's a religious leader (although that does get him a nice running start).

When I first started the Braffy nominations, many weeks ago, I noted that the title of Worst Person Alive would be based on the evils that this individual represents. And I can't think of a worse evil in contemporary society than the commercialization of what used to be the very personal matter of spirituality. And this unfortunate trend just happens to be Pastor Joel's raison d'etre (French for "profitable line of bullshit").

Let's begin at the beginning, with a goofy photo. Here's Mr. and Mrs. Stepford...I mean, Osteen, from Joel's personal website:



Aren't they a lovely couple? Don't you just want to meet them at a dinner party and awkwardly discuss the local real estate market for a half-hour and then studiously avoid ever having to see them socially again for the rest of your life?

Anyway, Pastor Joel's not just the head of a massive conglomeration of 28,000 worshippers (for real!) posing as a church. He's also a best-selling author, televangelist and motivational speaker. His most recent tome is entitled Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps To Living At Your Full Potential.

Okay, so right away, before we even get into the book in any detail (and we will), this guy is completely 100% full of shit. How do I know? Two ways:

(1) No one can live at their full potential. That's the meaning of the word potential. It's all the things you could possibly achieve, not all the things you will achieve. Mr. Osteen means his system will let you achieve the maximum you can possibly achieve without over-achieving and exhuasting yourself. But the phrase "full potential" looks better on a book jacket.

(2) Joel Osteen claiming to know how to attain the greatest success possible is an inherent fallacy, because the greatest thing he's been able to achieve is the publication and sale of a bullshit flash-in-the-pan self-help book that no one will take seriously in six months.

I mean, if John Glenn were to write a book on achieving great success, or I don't know...Trishelle from "The Real World"...maybe that would mean something. I mean, those are genuine success stories, people who will pass from this Earth having made a shattering difference on the world. But Joel Osteen? All he knows how to do is con hillbillies out of $24.98. The Home Shopping Network's been doing that for years!

Okay, enough with making fun of the title. Let's make fun of the book. Here's the Barnes & Noble website blurb:

Televangelist Joel Osteen's message of hope and encouragement has won him praise from actor Chuck Norris and author Joyce Meyer. In Your Best Life Now, he encourages believers to discover their innate, God-given strengths and abilities to overcome obstacles and achieve authentic success.

Well, forget I said anything. Joel has won praise from actor Chuck Norris. I mean, that guy's endorsement is hard to come by. He only did those 800 billion infomercials because of his sincere and honest devotion to all that cheap, shoddy workout equipment. And he only recommends Joel Osteen's system publicly because the mentoring and advice of Mr. Osteen has helped him to navigate his extended 30 year slide from semi-noteriety to almost-noteriety to non-noteriety.

And this blurb also brings us to why Joel Osteen and his ilk are messing up America. Because their vision of religion is entirely selfish, inward and personal. It isn't about understanding the complex mysteries of the universe. It's about how God can help you in your meaningless daily life.

Think about it...God and Jesus have gone from being holy, unknowable figures shrouded in mystery to being our personal cheerleaders and friends.

"Jesus is your pal."
"What would Jesus do?"
"Jesus loves the little children."
"I have a personal relationship with God."
"God is my co-pilot."
"I want to thank Jesus for allowing me to win this Vibe Award. The multi-platinum success of my debut album Nutz 'N Yo Eye was part of God's initial Divine Plan when he was constructing the Earth from moonbeams and space dust."

And that's what Joel Osteen writes. God wants to help you with your problems, you see. All you need to do is turn yourself over to him completely, and buy some crap from Joel Osteen, and he's on the case. God is like Dr. Phil, Oprah and Xzibit all rolled into one.

Stevie Wonder suggested that if you feel your life's too hard, you should go have a talk with God, but I don't think he meant that God would answer you back or anything. Just that the talking and believing part might help. Joel Osteen seems to think God won't just respond, but he'll kick in for the rent and get you that new plasma screen you've been wanting on top of it. Plus, cool rims.

What's been holding you back from the life you want? What's the problem? Can God help? This is a "live now" program that makes you look at decisions in front of you instead of worries about the past or future. It teaches Christian principles like selflessness, charity, hope, and personal initiative by inviting you into the process. Bible stories and vignettes from the preacher's rags-to-riches life are inspiring.

Did you ever think that God might want you to figure it out for yourself, asshole? That the figuring it out part might be the whole point? I love the idea that Christian principles of selflessness, charity, hope and personal initiative are at the core of Osteen's theory, as if those are things you can teach easily in a 200 page book or a 60 minute lecture.

"Be less selfish!"

"Okay, Joel! Thanks for the advice! Man, this is the best $24.98 I ever spent."

"Oh, and also, have more hope!"

"Got it. Less selfish, more hope. I'm learning so much."

Maybe you're thinking that this all sounds harmless. Sure, Joel's advice might sound like easy answers. I mean, he suggests that if you're life's too rough, you need to help other people out, take some initiative, and love Jesus. Um...great. But still, he's not hurting anyone, right? He's just selling some books.

Let's take a look at his bio:

Joel Osteen has quickly become a leading voice for a new generation of ministers. After becoming Senior Pastor in October of 1999, Lakewood Church has more than quadrupled its weekly attendance and is one of America's most diverse churches. According to Forbes.com and Outreach magazine Lakewood is the largest and fastest growing congregation in America with over 28,000 in attendance each weekend.

That's the whole first paragraph of his bio from Joel's own website. Notice anything weird about it? Doesn't it kind of read like the bio of an executive rather than a religious leader? It's not about his message of peace and hope and love, it's not about his calling to the service of God, it's not about the good works he's accomplished or the good life he's led. It's like reading a resume or an executive's portfolio. It's even written in business jargon.

He's a "leading voice for a new generation." He "quadrupled weekly attendance" (as if the worth of a church can be described based on the number of asses in seats). He even quotes fucking FORBES.COM!!!!!!!!!!!! Come the fuck on, people! What the fuck ever happened to getting the money lenders out of the temple, and not confusing your faith with the bullshit money-grubbing world of commerce and business? What about money being the root of all evil? THIS GUY IS A PASTOR WHO'S TELLING YOU IN THE BEGINNING OF HIS PERSONAL BIOGRAPHY ABOUT HOW FORBES.COM HAS PRAISED HIS FUCKING RECRUITMENT STRATEGY.

Whew. Sorry. I kind of lost it for a second there. I feel better now.

You see what I'm saying. This is religion as commerce. He's not converting new souls, he's moving units. Joel Osteen sees faith and God like Delta sees baggage claims and little vacuum-sealed bags of peanuts. It's just a business. That's it.

Joel Osteen can be seen via his weekly television broadcast on numerous national cable networks, including Discovery, USA Network, ABC Family, Black Entertainment Television (BET), Trinity Broadcasting and the Daystar Television Network. The Program can also be seen internationally in over 100 nations including CNBC Europe, Vision Canada, CNBC Australia and Middle East Television. Joel's program is also carried on prominent local network affiliates in the Top 30 markets in America. Recent Nielsen Media Research rated Joel Osteen's broadcast as the #1 inspirational program nationally, based on average television viewers per market.

This guy's barely a religious leader. He's building a cult of personality, using religion to make himself famous. This guy is doing exactly what the Bible (the Old Testament) warns about...he's making himself a false prophet, convincing people that he's got all of the answers to life's really hard questions, building up his own glory rather than God's.

And what's he doing on BET? I know for a fact there are a shitload of black preachers in this very same industry. All of them area already booked on other shows? Black minister can't even get on BET? They have some dorky white man from Houston? What kind of sellout crap is that?

Now I don't believe in God in the first place, but it just bothers me that the people who do don't go about believing in him in any consistant, sensible way. I mean, if you dig the whole God thing, great, go for it. Just read what the man (oh, excuse me, fictional deity) has to say. Go to the source. He's pretty clear about the whole giving-money-to-guys-who-claim-they've-figured-out-God's-message thing from Page 1. Here's the condensed version: don't.

And that brings us to the last bit I want to talk about concerning the loathsome Joel Osteen. He encourages you to write him an e-mail asking him to pray for you.

Although we are unable to respond to each request personally, please know that Pastor Joel and Victoria will receive a copy of your request and pray corporately for your specific need. In addition, our Prayer Partners pray individually for each request received.

Isn't that sweet? They will pray corporately for your specific need! Wait a minute...doesn't that mean they'll do one prayer asking for everyone's requests all at the same time? But what if I write and tell them to pray for Joel Osteen to win the Braffy, but Cory writes to tell them to pray for Antonio Esfandiari instead? The two prayers would cancel each other out! It wouldn't work!

Also, I dig the notion of Prayer Partners. They've brought in prayer interns to cover all the overload prayers, and the interns have to pray for your petty, selfish requests personally, one-by-one. There is, of course, a catch.

From time to time our prayer partners may write or call in order to encourage you in your daily walk with the Lord.

That's code, folks. What they mean is that the "prayer partners" will call and ask you for money. You know, they did go to the trouble of pretending to pray for you over the Internet. The least you can do is accept their frequent telemarketing calls.

So, yeah, Joel Osteen wants to prey (ba-zing!) on the weakest, dumbest, neediest Americans for fun and profit. He convinces people he's got a direct line to the Big Man (though why God would want to hang out and share insight with some bland dork from The Lone Star State is beyond me), and then people send him money and tune in to his revivial meetings on TBN. It's totally repugnant and ridiculous, and it has earned Joel a lofty nomination for the Worst Person Alive awards.

But can it unseat phony Midwestern Mary Kay lady Tana Goertz? Or disgusting poker-playing trainwreck Antonio Esfandiari? Or repellant, scumbag Senator from Pennsylvania, the Right Honourable Ricky "Man-On-Dog" Santorum? Who knows?

Oh, and do try a bottle of Mountain Dew Warm. Now Significantly Less Urine-Like!

16 comments:

Cory said...

This guy's pretty terrible. Still, he ain't got nothin' on Antonio.

Esfandiari in 2005!

Anonymous said...

The person that put this rediculous ammount of crap in this article needs to get a life!!!
Oh yeh, He thinks he already does...lol
My personal beliefc is that he probably lives home with his mother, watches star trek or something like that and is so mad that he can't live up to his "full potential" that he is beyond jealous. Joel Osteen, whom I personally did not like because he was too happy for me, is the real deal. (sorry you loser writer but he is) He is so successful (unlike you) that he doesn't even need a salary from his church. He makes more in his book alone. Enough said!!!

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JOSTEENFAN said...

I've suffered from depression for most of my life, and I have been on medication, changed my diet, and see a counselor, but of all the things I have done, listening to Joel Osteen has helped me more than anything.

JOSTEENFAN said...

See my blog, thanks.

Anonymous said...

WHATS WITH ALL THE BAD LANGUAGE? I GUESS IT JUST GOES TO SHOW HOW ROTTEN THE WRITER OF THIS ARTICLE IS ON THE INSIDE. YOU SHOULD TAKE A GOOD LOOK AT YOURSELF FIRST BEFORE TRYING TO 'CLEAN'OUT SOMEONE ELSE. YOU NEED TO WASH YOUR MOUTH AND THOUGHTS OUT.

Lons said...

Anony, it's comments like yours that keep me blogging after all these years. The ignorance, the bile - it's like a goddamn work of art. If only you could really HEAR yourself..."Wash your thoughts out?" Genius!

Anonymous said...

Pretty great blog ... alot of cussing, but osteen's message really is rather ridiculous ... is he even ordained? I read that he had only preached one time in his entire life when he took over lakewood. and that was the WEEK BEFORE his dad died ... kind of sketchy, also, three of his siblings as well as his wife and mother work at Lakewood... seems like a family scheme to make some cash to me :)

zamorce said...

Why are people not posting on the real issue of the blog. Don't you ever notice how Joel changes the scripture to his convenience. And when he cites scriptures, notice how he never gives the reference to the version of the bible it can be found in. And also if you read 2 Peter 2:1-3 it says

1 But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does[a] not slumber. (New King James)

Doesn't verse 3 really speak of what Joel teaches. Also the title of his first book, "Your best life now", is contrary to biblical teachings. Our best life isn't now, it is to live eternally with our Creator.

Anonymous said...

So sad that you have to trash other people just to make yourself feel better. I will BET a million dollars that when you are alone your soul is sad and empty. Listening to Joel just might help you!

Anonymous said...

What is this running diatribe anyway? You're certainly welcome to your opinion, however, one thing you should note is that "money" is NOT the root of all evil. Rather, the "love of money" is the root of evil.

Your hostile blather has no redeeming value other than to establish that you could possibly benefit from some sort of 'help.'

Rather than judge the man, as I'm sure you wouldn't appreciate someone judging you (as I just did in the previous paragraph, based on your ridiculous rant), perhaps you should open your mind and 'listen' to the message that he is preaching.

Ranting and raving about Joel/Victoria personally is of no value. The value is in their message, not in them as individuals.

Further, God is the ultimate judge, so you have no business judging Joel or Victoria, anymore than I have any business judging you and vice versa.

I wish you much success with your obvious ignorant behavior which will not, in the end, be of any benefit to anyone.

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness there are writers such as this. Well said. Guaranteed, all of these churches' messages will lead to the begging of money, often from those who can scarcely spare it. I wonder how many times "God" (which does not exist) has responded to these men (oh, that's funny....always men...any male-dominated self-serving prevalent in religion?) saying: "dear loyal servant of mine, go forth to the multitudes and ask for money; lots of money. Geeze think of the wasted real estate, electricity and gas burned when 30,000 vulnerable people are exploited attending this monstrosity of excess every month.

Anonymous said...

I thought this was the most hillarous blog I have read in a very long time!!! Joel Olsteen is a jackass ! Anybody that preaches a sermon about how God found them a parking space is a moronic idiot. I can't wait for the day God does a JoB (from the bible) on his ass and takes everything away from him in one fatally sweep.Then lets see how faithfull he remains. And for all you people who feel the need to keep defending him just remember what happens when you put to much faith in man.

Anonymous said...

I great you in the name of Jesus Christ My persoanl lord and savior.Amen...Im Christopher Copley here in hazel park michigan, Im writting you in regard God tilling my sprit to...Jole, we need help at our church, I belong to the Great well known Calvery Baptist Church Pastor Berry David 248-545-8800, is now running the chuch and doing a great job of it, however, he needs help we are on the verge of shutting down and its alot of presher on every one, we pray and trust in God to provide although we must ask our brother in christ, thats why Im writting to you and why God put it upon my heart to trust in you and your afilliates to help, the church is 20,000.00 in debt and to close a world missionary Church would be devistating to the people and most inportently to God the Father our lord and savior. Amen???With your help and consideration to save the church from closing I know that the past seeds which have been planted and the prayers requested in the name of jesus christ will continue to spread the word of God in our community. I ask your in the Name of Jesus Christ, our personal lord and savior to help your christian family with the help of others in your team. Im clear that the Holy Sprit has touched your heart to provide even before I sent you this letter... Thank you and we pray for you and your faimly daily... I look forward to hearing praise reports about this mattere and hope that you call me and pastor berry Christopher is my name and yes a fell and live like a saint...248-508-3504 Godspeed to you Jole...Goodday in jesus christ

Anonymous said...

this motherf@#$er don't know sh@t the hell his talking about,Lord forgive me but he pushed the sh@t out me,FU NIGGAR,cease u a heartattack!

Anonymous said...

Hey u,yeah niggar im talkin 2 u,u wanna bad mouth somebody try lookin down ur ass!