Aug 20

An exit ramp marked common sense

Every now and then, I make a point of catching one of the Sunday morning televangelists. Image_2_5

Ordinarily, I avoid them like the plague because:

      a) I’m not a fundamentalist Christian and
      b) too many televangelists take advantage of the poor and uneducated elements of society to pad their own pockets.

Nonetheless, I felt adventurous, did some channel surfing and landed on Joel Osteen’s teleministry.

If you haven’t caught Joel’s act, he’s worth checking out. Osteen’s not only right out of central casting (think Burt Lancaster in ‘Elmer Gantry’), but he also provides some of the more laughable personal anecdotes available anywhere.

Sunday morning, for example, Joel told his virtual and physical congregants that he’d almost missed the taping. Seems he’d been caught in a massive traffic jam among mere mortals. But, being an appointed prophet, Joel felt the hand of God on his shoulder. And, like Moses parting the Red Sea, God apparently parted the gridlock ahead of Preacher Osteen enabling him to make it to his state-of-the-art Church just in the nick of time. Phew, that was close!

Pardon me, Joel, but I don’t buy it. I don’t think ‘He’ looked down from on high, spied a man of God stuck in traffic and, with a wave of His hand, made the other cars give way.

And, yet, as the cameras scanned the assembled multitudes, I could see heads nodding, lips murmuring and other signs of an enraptured faithful buying Brother Osteen’s story hook, line and sinker.

I’m sure Joel does lots of good works for lots of people, but he’s also one of those ‘God helps those who help themselves’ televangelists (think Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker).  In fact, as soon as Joel had finished his ‘parting of the Red Sea’ traffic story and taken a commercial break, a ‘pre-recorded Joel’ came on to hawk his new book, which not only contains seven tips for living a more spiritual life but, praise the lord, will be available for purchase as soon as October.

The faithful will undoubtedly plunk down their hard-earned wages and buy Joel’s book. But, I honestly don’t understand where his street cred comes from. In my opinion, well-heeled, smooth-talking, multimillionaire televangelists like Joel distort many of Christ’s teachings.

Whatever happened to: ‘Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.’? Guess they’re still stuck in Joel’s traffic jam. Not me, though. I’m taking that next exit ramp marked, "common sense."