Thursday, March 13, 2014

Oh, irony...

Even as some fundamentalist Christian groups are upset and bewildered and angry about the return of the "Cosmos" on network television, with some calling it a "war on Christianity," and one Oklahoma TV station "accidentally" running a news program promo over the mention of evolution, fundamentalist Muslim groups in Bahrain, Qatar, and United Arab Emirates are actively censoring portions of the new "Noah" motion picture, claiming it might "provoke the feelings of [Muslim] believers." Oddly enough, even some Catholics are upset about "Noah" as well. 

Both situations say a great deal about fundamentalist groups: intolerance seems to be a fundamental.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Preaching the prosperity gospel, indeed...

In recent current events, it's been reported by several national news agencies that Joel Osteen's Lakewood megachurch in Houston TX was allegedly robbed of approximately $600,000 earlier this week. Thieves either cracked or otherwise opened a safe in the church's office, which allegedly contained the collection plate proceeds for the most recent Saturday and Sunday services. This news is shocking... and on several levels.  

If you're not aware of Mr. Osteen, he is fond (as are a number of other megachurch preachers) of what's called "prosperity theology," which, in a nutshell, is the idea that financial success and its attendant prosperity are the will of God (for Christians), and that by giving to (Christian) ministeries, the givers will be receivers of abundant financial rewards in kind, even as those very (Christian) ministries are, themselves, made prosperous by default.

Yup. You're right. There sure seems to be plenty of prosperity to go around.

Obviously, theft by anyone, of anything, from anyone, is wrong. Duh. My two rules for living a good life are #1, "Do your job" and #2, "Don't be a dickhead." This is really a pretty simple philosophy. Clearly these thieves followed Rule #1 by doing their jobs as thieves, but they could never adhere to Rule #2. Why? Because they're dickheads for being thieves in the first place, as in, "Thou shalt not [do it]." (See also "Duh.")

So, this theft is already heinous from a religious person's perspective in terms of the eighth commandment, but the double-down is because some of these very same folks probably can't afford what they're offering in the first place; then they have to swallow that the hard-earned money they freely gave away (although, giving in order to receive something in return might not qualify as doing so "freely") is denied even its intended benefactor? Sucks to be them, that's for sure.

But what is perhaps most heinous is what the reported $600,000 figure suggests in a larger, grander, more opulent picture. Given there are 52 weekends in a year, this means that Mr. Osteen's church—alone—is capable of taking in $31,200,000 in a year!?

Now let this ginormous number sink in and then remind yourself that neither Mr. Osteen's churchnor any other United States church of any other denominationpays one dime in property taxes, even as every one of their giving brethren do. So I guess the theology that these prosperity pushers preach (oops, I meant "preachers push," of course) doesn't necessarily apply to US taxpayers, who are apparently the suckers who do have to pay property taxes even as they invest in this mutual prosperity love-fest.

So at this point some might be thinking, "Great work if you can get it," and that Mr. Osteen, et al., are those who are benefiting most from all this giving. And although it probably has to be taken on faith that the givers have actually become receivers (i.e., prosperous), all one has to do is perform a simple Google search on the homes and other properties owned by Mr. Osteen, Creflo Dollar, Robert Tilton, Benny Hinn, and other prosperity preachers like them, to see that prosperity does indeed flow from prosperity theology: it flows straight into their coffers, directly or indirectly.*

It does suck for all the little guys, yes it does, yet I'm having a really hard time feeling bad for them because even as they do believe that giving money to a gigantic, incredibly opaque ministry that earns, potentially, $31,200,000 yearly, they don't believe this arguably obscene, clearly materialistic theology is something Jesus Christ Himself just might have been a tad put off by given His purported (and Matthew 19:24's known) stance on rich men's chances of attaining heaven being about as likely as camels getting through needle eyes. 

But I guess it says a lot that this guy is willing to give up his place in heaven by allowing his church to take all that dirty money from all those clean hands.

Gee... what a guy. No wonder he smiles so much.

* It's widely reported that since 2005 Mr. Osteen's salary has not been drawn from his megachurch where he preaches (about prosperity theology), and instead comes exclusively from what he writes (wait for it... about prosperity theology). Well OK. So to the camel-and-needle analogy please add the following questions:
A) How many angels can fit on the point of that needle?

B) How finely must that poor camel's hairs be split?
C) Has Mr. Osteen never heard of the logical fallacy, "distinction without a difference?"

Update: It seems Creflo Dollar has spoken to God, and God told Creflo he needs a new $60 million jet.