A commentary

June.3. 2013

Someone once said, “Christianity started as a movement in the Middle East, it became an institution in Europe, and in America, it became big business.”

One of my favorite pastimes is to watch televangelists on TV and compare their various modus operandi.

Lavishly decorated TV studios, glamorous supermodel sidekicks or reporters, appreciative audiences.

And of course, one must not forget the never ending footage of hungry (but extremely cute) children, staring into the camera with stricken eyes.

And then the inevitable plea for your generosity.

Just one buck a day from you, and these poor children will never have to go hungry again.

I think I will have to rephrase that earlier statement. “Christianity started as a movement in the Middle East, it became an institution in Europe and in America, it provides an opportunity for all kinds of sleazeballs and scam artists to get in on the act”

Now, don’t get me wrong.

I’m actually a fan of some of these televangelists.

Joel Osteen, for example.

Some have called him a prosperity preacher.

I prefer to think of him as a self-help pastor. There’s nothing wrong, of course, with being a self-help pastor. All great teachers in the past were self-help gurus in one way or another – Jesus himself is a prime example.

What I like about Osteen is his upbeat message – a message of fulfilling your potential and living up to your full promise.

It’s a message brimming with love, hope, and optimism as opposed to one brimming with fear, self-loathing, and the threat of eternal damnation.

And he doesn’t beg you for contributions, not like some of these other televangelists who do it under the guise of tithing. (10%? No wonder some of these guys have money to build $16 million mansions for themselves.)

And he doesn’t need any glamorous supermodels either, to sell his message. His message is enough to sell itself.

And he doesn’t need an endless parade of hungry children to tug at your heartstrings and make you fork over your hard earned money so he can live his lavish lifestyle.

He sells his books.

And his books are a prime example of that win-win strategy I talked about earlier.

You win by learning to live that hope-filled optimistic prosperous life he extols in his books and he wins by making a bundle from selling those books to you.

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