Oct 29, 2007

Become Your Best You, Doo-bee doo-bee doo

Joel Osteen has another book out entitled, "Become a Better You." It follows his wildly successful book, "Your Best Life Now." Maybe I can contact George Clooney and see if he can air drop some of these books on his next mission to Darfur. They can package them along with "The Secret." You know, if the Muslim extremists in Sudan could just apply these seven principles on how to "become a better you," maybe they'd drop the whole genocide thing. Or maybe they'll become better at mass murdering. It could go either way.

Osteen is the pastor of a massive church where ten thousand people flock every week to hear his uplifting sermons. He seems really nice. Sweet. Happy. His wife seems really pretty. So why does the guy makes me nervous? Maybe I'm just a curmudgeon. I know our world is mired in negativity and we could all use a boost. His uplifting messages aren't evil. But haven't the past 30-40 years of therapy, self-help, self-actualization, etc, proven that SELF-improvement isn't why we're here? Or as Jesus put it: "The Son of Man did not come to BE SERVED but to SERVE, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

I remember hearing an actor at a seminar say basically this: In movies, the characters we most admire are those who face horrible circumstances, insurmountable odds. They struggle, they doubt, they despair, but they push on. Even if they fail or die, they win a larger victory, and we love them for it. And yet, we wake up every morning and want God to make everything go our way.

My small group is going through scenes and movies that have impacted us spiritually. Last night we watched a scene from The Two Towers. Frodo and Sam are exhausted from trying to get the ring to Mt. Doom. Here's the text:

SAM: It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are.
It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened?
But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn’t. They kept going because they were holding on to something.

FRODO: What are we holding on to, Sam?

SAM: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.

What is it, do we not have anything worth fighting for any more? It seems like the battles worth fighting are taking place elsewhere: in Darfur or Somalia. Places where real lives are at stake. Or if they are here, but they're in the ghettos and the prisons, far from any photo ops. Meanwhile the battle to eradicate our own selfishness and narcissism is glossed over by cute little principles about "Becoming Your Best You." I wonder if we whole foods shopping botox shooting middle class chumps have forgotten what really matters.

Seek pleasure -- and in the long run you will find boredom, disillusionment and enslavement. Seek God -- and you will find, among other things, piercing pleasure.
John White, "Eros Defiled."


Lisa Milton said...

Spot on and peckish - oooh, I likey.

Stephanie said...

Oh, I think he can start closer to home than ghettos or prisons. Let's start with personal avarice, greed, pride, and probably even malice. Or ... how about the fact that the One who came to show us what the human life is for and how it is supposed to be lived was not Himself a rich man? (Or even, by all accounts, much of an extroverted party guy, you know?)

That's not Jesus this particular pathological salesman is selling. It's himself. And Costco carried that.

Ivey McCoig Creative Partners said...

You are currently my favorite person.

Ted and Lori said...

I was just thinking about this exact scene last night (but for different reasons that I'll have to tell you later)! I love that Sam. And yesterday while folding laundry, I was watching an EXTRA (so sorry for that) profile on this woman who lives in a MANSION who was going through the difficult process of getting back into her fire-damaged house. Good thing her insurance paid out the $30grand to restore her life.
I think you're on to something here.

Anonymous said...

love this blog -- hate him. What's sad is I'm sure those books are flying off the shelves just like they are cramming themselves into that arena to listen to his cracked a#@.

aazmom said...

Someone in our church, a person who's pretty average (i.e. not a theological nerd :-)very service minded and who is hip-deep in the business world, recently asked our pastor about Osteen's book. She said it didn't seem quite Christian. I inwardly cheered when I heard this...how difficult it must be to discern Truth when one is being told by The Culture that this hogwash is Christianity! Yay for her to have heard that still small voice, yay for our pastor who speaks Truth ( a lot of the time, anyway.)

And I liked your first paragragh about Clooney air-dropping these books into Darfur. Our pastor's reply to our friend included the Elie Wiesel (spelling?? it's late - sorry) quote having to do with "let nothing be uttered that cannot be said in the presence of burning children."

Myself -by the end of my first day working with terminally ill children, I think I had changed more, theologically speaking, than in all the years put together preceeding it. I pray I continue on a path of heartbreaking openness - Osteen's path of private jets, flawless dental care and worldly acclaim can be surprisingly tempting (although in a minivan, upscale toothpaste and accolades from the local PTA sort-of-way.)

thanks for your writing.

Anonymous said...

sincere statement: I think most people seek out God for personal gratification NOT bc they've heard of the Savior and they can't wait to praise. People show up to God bc they are i pain, they want resolution, they want to hand their problems over to someone else, they are looking for comfort, yes ? Less than often do people join a church because they can't wait to service others. I know many come to that point AFTER the original intention...
Also self improvement....made in Gods image - does He not ask us to be our best and do everything at 100% ?
I hope you find these questions as inquisitive and not offensive. They are genuine questions in my heart....as I question my own christianity.

Thank u!

Zombie said...

My friend is the youth pastor at Osteen's church. I think Joel is a prosperity teacher though.

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