Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Joel Osteen and Religion

Last weekend I spent some time with my family at a waterpark in Wisconsin Dells. It was a welcome break from the winter. The water was warm, most people were in a good mood and I enjoyed the water rides and splashing around for a while with my kids.

Sunday morning I was flipping around the channels in the hotel room after our morning dip and happened upon Joel Osteen preaching to his massive congregation in Texas. The congregation is so large at this point that they moved into the Compaq Center (used to be called the Summit) in Houston which used to be the home of the Houston Rockets.

I am not a very religious person, however run my life by a set of rules that are based upon Christian faiths. I don't kill, steal, cheat, lie (most of the time) or swear. Maybe not that last part. Anyway.

I find Osteen a very interesting person. He may very well be the next Jimmy Swaggart and could be stashing money away in his private accounts like it was going out of style. But maybe not. The bottom line for me is that Osteen's message is always POSITIVE, that is, every time I have seen it.

Sundays sermon was about honoring your parents and taking care of them when they get old. Also he mentioned things like sticking together as a family when things go into the crapper and that your true friends will also stick with you when you are in the dumps. He also mentioned that it is OK to love your country and that you should thank those in the military, even buy them dinner if you see some military persons out eating. He spoke about a few other things as well that I can't remember at this time.

Lets contrast this with the message presented to my daughter her very first day of Catholic school. They told the story of John the Baptist. My daughter didn't really understand what was going on, but my wife was present during this story and was shocked, shocked at this situation (if you don't know the ending of the John the Baptist story, he gets beheaded). My wife did not have the upbringing I had. When she told me about it, I basically gave the shoulder shrug and said "the more things change, the more they stay the same". You see I was raised not as a Catholic, but a Baptist - and they are also famous for lots of Hell, Fire, and Brimstone in their teachings. I suppose the message is that they want to scare the shit out of you to be a good Baptist, or Catholic or whatever.

Back to Osteen. If you watch one of his shows, he is a very comforting guy. Always smiles. Neatly coiffed, never yelling, always encouraging. Like I said, I am not a religious guy, but I wish that I could have had more of that sort of thing as I was growing up. The positives of Christianity are so many! More should be like Osteen and preach those things instead of Revelations and the end times constantly.

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