Money and God


I was involved in a discussion on Facebook the other day that started because of my opinion about Joel Osteen and his gaudy church here in Houston.  Yes, it’s gaudy… very much evident of the wealth he and his church have amassed.  It was a good discussion with someone I consider a friend and we were both very respectful of each other’s views which I think is the sign of not only maturity but of acceptance as well. We are never going to all agree on the same thing no matter what the subject, but especially in the areas of politics and religion. I will admit that there have been times I haven’t been the least bit respectful unfortunately, but I’m learning, as is everyone else I would hope. I’m not writing this to start an argument with anyone, it’s simply how I feel about a particular tv evangelist who has millions of followers and who has made a tremendous amount of money because of it. That in and of itself is not a bad thing I suppose, but when I watch him, I find myself wondering what he’s hiding. It seems to me that there is a man behind the mask, something else behind the perfectly manicured hair and perfect white teeth.  Not to say it’s an evil man or anything like that, but he doesn’t feel real to me. I think it’s awesome that his words inspire so many…I just find it kind of sad that they’ve been inspired enough to fund his books, which in turn fund his very, very lavish lifestyle. I don’t think that because he professes to be a man of God that he should not have a life style that fits him. What I struggle with is his ability to manipulate millions of people into helping him achieve that when there are a good number of them who probably can’t afford it.  He’s not the only one, and he’s certainly entitled to his money, it just rubs me the wrong way how he achieves his success I suppose. Am I judging him, maybe, but I feel the same way about people who aren’t using faith as a springboard…but using something else to manipulate people. The Kardiashians come to mind.  Regardless, the paragraph below is what I said to my friend word for word, regarding his statement about letting my political leanings influence my opinion.  He’s a wonderful person, and I think his faith is part of what makes him that way and I so appreciate that.  I just kept coming back to this conversation in my head all day yesterday so this is my way of purging it.  I will ask that if you read this, be aware that I’m not judging anyone’s faith here, this was simply my opinion of a particular evangelist and it would not have mattered what his faith was.

“…this really has nothing to do with my political leanings although I would agree with the statement that Jesus would be a democrat, if only because he practiced what he preached by taking care of the unfortunate. I did some digging this morning and as it turns out, Mr. Osteen preens himself on the fact that he stopped taking a salary from his church in 2005 and that he doesn’t “ask” for money. He does however, live in a 10.5 million dollar mansion here in Houston paid for by the revenue he makes off of his best selling books which, by the way, wouldn’t have happened had he not had his “ministry” on tv. Good for him, but I think it’s a thinly veiled life he lives for a lot of reasons, some of which are: he denies preaching the prosperity gospel and purposely stays away from talking about money on his show and yet, that’s exactly what he’s doing. The charity report on says that his church refuses to respond to their request. I wonder why they would refuse if they are truly doing the right thing. Also, and probably most importantly, he’s not really an ordained minister, (only by his father who preached before him) never attended seminary, and I could not find a single thing that mentioned his own personal sacrifice to help the needy. If they donate it’s strictly in the form of money, not their time or attention. (his and his wife’s) Interesting to me. He does however, talk about being blessed by God with wealth. I think he’s simply done a work around with the typical tv evangelist persona so that he doesn’t “look bad”. I don’t trust him, nor do I trust anyone who takes something as personal and fragile in many cases, as a persons faith and turn it into a money making machine, and don’t fool yourself, that’s exactly what he’s done. I will say that although the Catholic Church is also one of the wealthiest churches in the world, not without their scandals of course, I do have respect to some degree for the new Pope. He practices what he preaches if nothing else. He helps the poor in his private time and I admire that. All of this said, I don’t talk about my own faith very much. It’s extremely personal to me and not the business of anyone else. I don’t believe in witnessing, I don’t believe any one faith is the “only” faith and yet I do think that in the end we all really just want the same thing and that is to believe that there is life after death. How we get there is anybody’s guess really. That’s all it is, speculation. If you or anyone else feels better sitting in church on Sunday morning then I say that’s exactly where you should be. I support your faith whatever it is because its part of what makes you who you are. What I don’t like is being judged because I may not believe the same way. I think judgement of faith is egregious and damaging and obviously in this day and age, extreme. Thank you for the videos, I love my President and I believe that his faith is part of what makes him a great human being. I simply think that is true for all faiths in relation to the human condition”