Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Forbidden Apple: Sauced by Joel Osteen

Whacked? Totally.

Joel Osteen. Which part of him seems sincere? Maybe he is, maybe he isn't, but it seems like he is living in Eden, feeding the folks there apples that were not meant as snacks.

Smooth as a John Edwards campaign speech, and as slick as George Bush can say, "Didn't know. I thought there were weapons of mass destruction." Only thing slicker was the Slick One himself, Big Billy Clinton.

Joel sort of inherited his daddy's church, and he took a step further. He hooyed it up with some hogwash, the kind of stuff that even makes Barack Obama squirm in the pew (OK, besides his buddies Jeremiah Wright and Michael Pfleger). Be a champion. That's Osteen-code for, "You're God, or, at least you be like God."

Pass the apple sauce, Joel.

You like this guy? Go ahead buy his book.

New Age Self-Determinism in a Christian Wrapper
Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential
Trying to mix the positive thinking of Robert Schuller, and the faith movement theology of Paul Yonggi Cho and Kenneth Copeland, Osteen has taken the stadium seminar circuit to a new level. Augmented now by his book, "Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential" he pushes the find the god/champion within yourself.

Here, we see he has a study guide to help point out what is not difficult to understand with his book. To his credit, there are a few more Scriptures laced into this guide. However, the main book is not making any points that a study guide will enhance, and only the lowliest of sheep will need the extra help.

People who are down on their luck, or discouraged with life will find Osteen a good read. It is a feel-good book, reducing the image of Christianity to be about us and not about God. Bigger than life is Osteen's picture on the cover, knowing that if you saw him on TV, you might want his book.

"Getting your mind off of yourself," with the goal of self-fulfillment should appeal also to readers of Wayne W. Dyer and other authors looking to reach those who feel disenfranchised.

Osteen's rambling, choppy speaking style comes through, written like he's campaigning for office. Reading like a seminar set to print, it sums as quickly as reading through its self-determinist table of contents:

1. Enlarge your vision
2. Develop a healthy self-image
3. Discover the power of your thoughts and words
4. Let go of the past
5. Find strength through adversity
6. Live to give
7. Choose to be happy

The steps sound innocuous, and, outside of their religious context, are. Within their religious context, evangelicals and charismatics will likely find offense at Osteen's assertions about controlling your own destiny as opposed to letting God control it.

Aim a little higher, and check out Charles Colson's "The Good Life." The title sounds similar, but Colson defines what makes for a good life far differently than Osteen. Save your money, and if you have Osteen's book, read it without the guide.

Anthony Trendl

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