What can I say? We try our best to avoid easy targets (or “targets” period) on here, but Book Forum’s recent “Hope Against Schope”, in which Kerry Howley imagines a dialogue between prosperity posterboy Joel Osteen and 19th century German pessimist extraordinaire Arthur Schopenhauer, was just too inspired/hilarious to resist, especially in light of John Gray’s recent book. Call it a study in contrasts. Apparently, with only very minor alteration, the Osteen quotes come from a couple of Joel’s recent sermons, his I Declare and Become a Better You, while the Schopenhauer parts were taken from The World as Will and Idea and Studies in Pessimism, as well as statements recounted by Jorge Luis Borges in The Total Library. Here are a few of the more priceless “exchanges”, ht JD:
OSTEEN: Do you know the more we talk about something, the more we draw it in? Here is the key: You’ve got to send your words out in the direction you want your life to go. You cannot talk defeat and expect to have victory. You can’t talk lack and expect to have abundance. You will produce what you say.
There is a young lady on staff at Lakewood Church. She told our women’s group that every morning before she leaves the house, she looks in the mirror and says, “Girl, you are looking good today.” I saw her a while back and asked if she was still doing it. She said, “Yeah. In fact this morning, Joel, when I looked in the mirror I said, ‘Girl, some days you look good, but today you’re looking really good.’” I encourage you to be bold in the same way.
SCHOPENHAUER: Thus we are deluded now by hope, now by what was hoped for. If it has given, it did so in order to take. The enchantments of distance show us paradises which vanish like optical illusions when we have allowed ourselves to be mocked by them…
OSTEEN: Possibly you’ve inherited attitudes of defeat, mediocrity, and negativity. Negative things may have been in your bloodline. But Arthur, if you would just change the “I am’s,” you would go to a new level. Words have creative power. With your words you can either bless your future or you can curse your future. You should be saying, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I am attractive. I’m getting younger. I am vibrant. I am radiant.”
SCHOPENHAUER: …every happiness is but lent by chance for an uncertain time, and may therefore be demanded back the next hour.
OSTEEN: The Bible says, “Rejoice in the Lord always.” One translation says, “Be happy all the time.”
SCHOPENHAUER: The inmost kernel of Christianity is the truth that suffering—the cross—is the real end and object of life. That in recent times Christianity has forgotten its true significance, and degenerated into dull optimism, does not concern us here.