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Posts tagged "Joel Osteen"

Freedom's Just Another Word

Freedom’s Just Another Word

The first time I heard an Aussie ask “How are you going?” I thought he wanted me to give him directions, which is hilarious because I know how to get to, like, three places here. Then I realized I was being presented with an alternative to our American phrase “How are you doing?” And I decided that I really liked it.

There’s a chance I’m taking idioms too personally here, but my journey through faith has been like this: religion to grace. Javert to Valjean. Imperative to indicative. My early years of preoccupation with behavior—to my idea of God as the…

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The Culture of Narcissism, Part 3: The Religion of "Me"

The Culture of Narcissism, Part 3: The Religion of “Me”

Here is the penultimate post in a series inspired by Christopher Lasch’s book, The Culture of Narcissism.

Back in 1987, when the New Age movement had not yet become just another part of the spiritual background noise of postmodern America, ABC television mainstreamed one branch of the movement in the miniseries “Out on a Limb,” which was based on actress Shirley MacLaine’s autobiographical book about her adventures in New Age spirituality. Just over a decade had passed since my own brief involvement in the New Age, so much of the mindset and the jargon was familiar to me. One scene in…

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The Prosperous Gospel of Stage 4 Cancer

The Prosperous Gospel of Stage 4 Cancer

In church yesterday, we read the “Temptation in the Wilderness,” the passage where Jesus is tempted to turn stones to bread, to throw himself down from the Temple in a spectacle, to kneel to the devil in exchange for infinite power. Jesus has fasted forty days, but he does not waver.

The sermon at our church focused more on the form (and less the content) of the interchange, and distinguished the sentence structure of the devil’s temptations, versus the sentence structure of Christ’s replies. I had never noticed this before, but each of the tempter’s promises are conditional: “If…then…” If you just do X, you will have Y.

I suppose I…

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Critical Thoughts on the Evangelical Embrace of Thomas Kinkade's Art

Critical Thoughts on the Evangelical Embrace of Thomas Kinkade’s Art

A year and a half ago I wrote a post on Mockingbird about Thomas Kinkade, the prosperous “Painter of Light,” mostly responding to a then recent article highlighting his death due to a drug and alcohol overdose. I attempted to offer a thoughtful interpretation of Kinkade, his art, his unfortunate demise, and the Evangelical embrace of his work—how I see all of these things as interrelated. Some people disagreed, and others even regarded me as being arrogant about art and taste.

Admittedly, what I wrote was tongue-in-cheek at points. I’ve never respected Kinkade’s art, so I poked some fun at his expense, which in retrospect may have been…

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Your Best Story, Now!

Your Best Story, Now!

Here’s how I know God exists: he ruined my life. Multiple times. The guy can’t seem to nail my happy ending!

In my late twenties, I had finally finished my doctorate, summiting my professional goals–and I was ready for my personal happy ending: perfect man, two kids, beautiful home. Instead, my third roommate in a row became engaged while I didn’t even have a date to my little sister’s wedding. I dutifully prayed with one eye glaring at God, wondering why he was ruining my painstakingly constructed life. I had a schedule to keep!

Up to that point, I had curated an image of God based…

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Another Week Ends: Flannery Prays, Calvin Outsells Luther, More 'Millenials'-ism, Next-Next-Gen Gaming Consoles (PSILOVU), Backfiring Discipline, Zombie Impressionism and Noah: The Movie

Another Week Ends: Flannery Prays, Calvin Outsells Luther, More ‘Millenials’-ism, Next-Next-Gen Gaming Consoles (PSILOVU), Backfiring Discipline, Zombie Impressionism and Noah: The Movie

1. Well, we knew about Mary Flannery’s early life of training chickens to walk backward (1932); it appears that God marked O’Connor out as different from pretty early on. We remember the short stories of violent grace and brilliant essays, and we even got to read some excerpts from her year-and-a-half-long prayer journal (written while still studying for her MFA at Iowa) in September. Well, three days ago the full work was released, edited by her friend William Sessions, and The New Yorker posted a great review/primer for anyone interested in fiction, O’Connor, prayer, the South, grad school, wooden legs, etc:

She reckoned that her success…

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When Schopenhauer Met Osteen

When Schopenhauer Met Osteen

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…

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Floyd Little #44 and the Gospel

Floyd Little #44 and the Gospel

Floyd Little caught me on Saturday evening as I was watching the NFL Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Sandwiched between the great Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith, he outshone them all. Why? Because he did what neither of them did. He did not preach about his own success. He did not tout his own greatness. He did not speak about the yards gained and the battles won on the football field. He spoke primarily about his family. His faith and his love of children. This was a man who understood that success was not about “Buck up and Get ‘er…

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Joel Osteen: Crazier Than We First Thought?

Proofs that can be derived from this video:

1) We always thought Joel Osteen interpreted the Bible wrong. Now we can rightly assume that he has simply never read it before (especially the New Testament).

2) If Joel Osteen is going to live under the law, at least he has the moxy to live under all of it, including the dietary laws.

3) If I could attain righteousness by switching to Turkey Bacon, I’m still not sure I could attain it.

4) Joel Osteen has moved up on all our lists from nuisance to Judaizer- an old Christian legalist heresy that said Gentiles…

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Good News? Shut Up About It. Mockingbird at the...TV

Good News? Shut Up About It. Mockingbird at the…TV

Can the news be that good if no one wants to hear it? I often find myself chuckling derisively at the preaching in churches that I see on television. “Ha!” I’ll snort. “What an offensive message. No one’s going to like that very much!” Then, as you might imagine, the camera pans around to reveal the masses hanging on the preacher’s every word. I have no masses. Don’t get me wrong, I love my congregation, and we’re growing, but we didn’t have to buy an arena from an NBA team, like Joel Osteen…

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Joel Osteen: Great Smile, Crushing Theology

Joel Osteen: Great Smile, Crushing Theology

Pastor Joel Osteen is, in the words of (fake) fashion icon Mugatu (played by Will Ferrell in Zoolander), “so hot right now.” The 46-year-old pastor heads America’s largest church, the Houston-based Lakewood Church, with 43,000 people in attendance per week. His 2004 book, Your Best Life Now, was a New York Times bestseller, as was his 2007 Become a Better You. He is hugely popular and hugely influential. Many people at the church where I work read his books, watch his shows, and listen to his sermons. He’s a really likable guy.

Steven Waldman, the founder and editor of Beliefnet.com, the…

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