Tuesday, May 15, 2007

What's the Difference?

"He [God] wants us to live our lives happy.
He wants us not to endure them,
but to enjoy them."

"I believe that the purpose of life is to be happy. From the moment of birth, every human being wants happiness and does not want suffering." more
You can get tickets for the Dalai Lama teachings in NZ on ticketmaster...yup, only $60 pp for The Four Noble Truths - that's a bargain at $15 per truth...but Joel Osteen is a better bet at US$21.99 even taking P&P into account...
Either way you'll be very happy...
"Blessed are those that mourn..." Jesus


Ken DePeal said...


Interesting, since I watch Osteen almost every week. I watched his father every week until his passing, too.

I love Osteen's optimism, and I appreciate that he encourages people to focus on the positive. I think too many Christians today wear worn-down looks on their faces and forget James 1:1, "Consider it JOY when you face trials of many kinds..."

I certainly would take issue with Joel if he were to minimize or criticize the legitimacy of suffering in the Christian experience, but I've never heard that in his teaching. Overall, I'm very appreciative of his love for Christ and the enthusiasm of his message.

What are your thoughts on Osteen, beside putting his mug next to the Dalai Lama?


C-Man said...

to the follower of Jesus Christ and the best intern EVER,

thanks for the comment. i miss the watermark crew too.

maybe someday i will make it to the land of the flying kiwi!!


BJ said...


I'm interested in your point of view as you actually have the option of watching him every week (not sure what I even wanna say about church on TV...)

My view is not so much about who Joel Osteen is - I accept as a person that he is a Christ follower. But more about what he writes and says which is a bit of a disconnect for me.

I think he's basically a positive thinking, motivational guru with a message that is not sufficiently driven out of the scriptures. As one commentator puts it: "Your Best Life Now" sounds a lot better than,"take up your Cross and follow me." Now I take your point that sackcloth and ashes shouldn't be mandatory Christian accessories in the fashion and cosmetic stakes. But I don't find myself able to recommend him as a source of enlightenment when I'm asked for a good Christian book!

The most compelling source of information for me (and its necessarily second hand being here in NZ) is the internet monk who has an excellent blog: http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/outing-joel-osteen-a-challenge-to-the-evangelical-blogosphere

But I was as much having a go at the Dalai Lama as I was at Osteen!

Ken DePeal said...

Hey Brett,

You wrote:

"As one commentator puts it, 'Your Best Life Now' sounds a lot better than,'take up your Cross and follow me.'"

Make no mistake, Joel Osteen's theology has its gaps (then again, so does mine). But as I've watched him over the years I've appreciated his call to higher living. I've appreciated his challenge to be an encourager in a discouraging world. I've appreciated his challenge to have a strong, monogamous marriage when others are unfaithful and falling apart. I've appreciated his challenge to take the higher road when talking about people, rather than falling into gossip or dissention.

The very actions he promotes are in the spirit of taking up the cross and denying oneself. He encourages people to put God and others before themselves, and to think of what Christ would want them to do in the various situations of life. He talks about the struggles saints of old have shared, and warns that we may face the same types of difficulties, pains, and hurts. He encourages Christians to not be surprised when adversity comes, but to walk with an awareness that God is working and that he is in control.

I should say, the thing I appreciate very much about Joel Osteen is his elevation of the Word of God. He uses Scripture all the time, and though I'm certain he's accused of proof-texting occasionally he is dedicated to lifting up the Word as the infallible Word of God.

When I see thousands upon thousands lift up their Bibles (something you don't see too much in churches I've served; in fact, most of the people at my current church don't even BRING a Bible to church despite my regular encouragement to do so) and state the "Bible Creed" (see Osteen's info or Google it to read it) it's amazingly moving to me.

I know you were picking on the Dalai Lama, and I don't want to sound as if Osteen's above questioning (and I know you weren't attacking him); it's just that I'm honestly a big fan of his. God has used him to speak some great truth and hope into my life at critical times in my life and, though his theology isn't airtight, his heart and passion for God are definitely in the right place.


(By the way, have you actually read "Your Best Life Now"? Just curious...)

Rhett said...


Are you trying to copy my blog?


BJ said...

Ken - I'm glad he's impacted you. I feel the same way about any number of Sci-fi, secular and Christians writers...and no, I haven't read the book: I checked it out online and decided it wasn't going to be high on my reading list!

BJ said...

Rhett - what ARE you talking about? While your blog is definitely worthy of imitation, my humble ramblings are not in the same league (which would make it a poor copy if it was intended to be so).

If you're asking: why am I shamelessly whipping up controversey on my blog, I'd say, I'm not: I saw the Dalai Lama ad in the Herald and it annoyed me that the master of enlightenment was charging $60 through ticketmaster - the only enlightening I could see happening was of someone's wallet! But if I'd wanted to stir up controversy I would have been better served by sticking up a picture of Bono rather than Joel Osteen! That or started a fresh thread on ES...

But, yes, OK, I did steal the recent comments widget from your blog!

Sharyn said...

What, exactly, is wrong with charging people to hear you talk? A man has to make a living, especially a refugee.

BJ said...

I'm not sure it would be possible to make a watertight case for never charging for a teaching seminar of this type. But my personal view is that both cases are an example of the consumerisation of spirituality. I find that distasteful. I'm not sure, but my suspicion would be that the Dalai Lama probably doesn't need nor want the profits from this venture personally. It seems out of step with his ethos.

Annie Wright said...

"[B]oth cases are an example of the consumerisation of spirituality"...

Can anyone say Christian Bookstores?

Now what about the idea of Christian camp? Or even Christian Universities?

Glen O'Brien said...

Joel Osteen and the like preach an inadequate form of Christianity. The old fashioned word for that is "heresy." It is self-esteem psycho-babble masquerading as Christian teaching. The Word of Faith stuff has its origins in pagan ideas - the manipulation of the "stuff" of the universe by techniques such as positive thinking and the power of spoken words. It was borrowed from the theosophical ideas of the 'New Thought" movement by E.W. Kenyon and Kenneth Hagin and given a thin Christian veneer. Osteen says he isn't into prosperity teaching but I'd like to know how much money he made on the real estate investments he brags about on the linked article, how many cars he drives and mansions he owns, and how many millions of dollars he KEEPS BACK from the poor (NOT how much he GIVES to the poor). When he talks about "Your Best Life Now" what do you really think that life is supposed to look like? We all know it means financial prosperity, career success, and all the other things the world counts as so highly valuable. Tell that to St. Paul who counted all such things so much crap (that's a pretty good translation by the way) compared to knowing and serving Christ. Has the penny not dropped that our Western culture is absolutely saturated with this self esteem and successful living garbage and yet we are the unhappiest most neurotic people on the planet? It doesn't work except as a means of the few to get rich by fleecing the many and leaving them in their poverty and "failure." The only ones getting rich and successful on this stuff are the handful of powerful preachers who charge at the door to let the rest of us hear their "pearls of wisdom." Meanwhile most of the people in the world do not have clean water to drink. Why IS that Joel Osteen, Brian Houston, and all the rest? Is it because they are not thinking positvely and if only they did they would have their best life now? No, it's because we in the developed world horde wealth and must have the biggest and the best of everything to prove to ourselves and to others that we are a success. Not only is this not Christian it is repugnant and obscene. This stuff is hugely popular in the developed world (and only there) because it panders to the worst features of self interest in our culture - greed, materialism and ego gratification. Personally I have more respect for the Dalai Llama who is a refugee (as Sharyn points out) and the representive of a persecuted people. Here in Oz our PM has refused to meet with the Dalai Llama because of fears that it might upset our economic ties with China - a country with one of the worst human rights records on earth and whih has suystemticvally brutalised the Tibetan people for decades. What kind of country do I live in in where we think George Bush and his Guantanamo gulag is OK but we see a smiling old Buddhist monk as a threat to the national economy!

BJ said...

Hey Annie,

I'm not sure I've ever experienced any one of your examples as a version of consumerised spirituality - have you? I've only ever been to Christian camps that have been exercises in community where everybody shares the costs and my experience of Christian Universities is limited to my wife's education - I think she enjoyed it and felt OK about paying fees. Bookstores may well be a different matter - I'd definitely see some of the publishing industry as creating an environment of consumerism in the negative sense (I'm not talking about the mere act of consuming...) I suppose its a question of degree.

I still think $60 for a spiritual teaching session is steep whoever it is!

BJ said...

Somehow I feel better that you said it Glen...appreciate the acuity of your analysis as always.

A general thought:

When I unpack my post, I suppose what I was feeling for was a twin irony:

> the incongruity of the Dalai Lama buying into the whole Conference circuit phenomenon

> the incongruity of a man touted in some circles as the successor to Billy Graham espousing a theology with a Buddhist taint

Neither irony is the whole truth and I won't be lured into a discussion premised on either statement being treated as such!

Glen O'Brien said...

Whlie we're asking "What's the Difference?" can someone tell me the difference between the following two statements?

"Enlarge your vision. If you develop an image of victory, success, health, abundance, joy, peace and happiness, nothing on earth will be able to hold those things from you...God wants to increase you financially, by giving you fresh ideas,creativity." - Joe lOsteen, Your Best Life Now.

"As you think of yourself living in abundance, you are powerfully and consciously determining your life through the law of attraction." - Rhonda Byrne, The Secret.

Sharyn said...

I don't get what is wrong with a person who has spent a lot of time accumulating wisdom charging people to share it.

So, if I spend roughly 7-10 years getting my PhD, then I expect to be able to charge people to hear what I have to say.

It's not like it cost me nothing to get all that, so why should it cost you nothing?

Anyways, you ignore the fact that the Dalai Lama is also giving a free talk. So you know, everyone wins...

Anyway, the Dalai Lama's a monk for crying out loud, the money doesn't go to flat screen tv's and a house in the Bahamas.

Hal said...

Perhaps he needs it for his throne?

"In 1956 the Dalai Lama, fearing that the Chinese government would soon move on Lhasa, issued an appeal for gold and jewels to construct another throne for himself. This, he argued, would help rid Tibet of ``bad omens''. One hundred and twenty tons were collected. When the Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959, he was preceded by more than 60 tons of treasure."


BJ said...

Hey (shallow?) Hal,

It was irony OK?

Don't be mean to the Dalai Lama.

Sharyn said...

Yes Hal, and how many Nobel Peace Prizes have you won?

BJ said...

Now, now Sharyn - no "ad hominem" arguments please. I don't mind if people try to argue the point behind the irony of the original post (I think its fruitless because I was being ironic not academic, so i won't play that little game). But please stay with the discussion, rather than undermining the person...Hal raised a point that I'm assuming has some basis in fact and you're welcome to engage it.

And I'm sorry Hal, for calling you shallow...you and I both know that you are shallow enough to go hunting up that piece of dirt on the Dalai but I shouldn't have called you shallow in front of everyone ;)

And before someone asks - yes my penultimate comment WAS intended to be ironic...but do I need to explain that one too?

Tim said...

...the difference? One has glasses and needs a microphone, the other... just smiles, I wouldn't by a used car from either though ;-)

Sam said...

The difference between the two: one knows Jesus the other knows of Jesus... Get with the program! You guys probably all have telephone poll in your eyes - consumerism... sheesh... stop nit picking

servant said...

Doesn't it go against the point of what Jesus was saying about the whole speck and plank in the eye thing to say that other people all have a telephone poll in theirs, Sam?

Nobody is above being questioned.... not Joel Osteen or anyone. Just because he has a huge church doesn't mean he can't be questioned.... in fact, he's put himself in a position where he should be questioned.

In saying that, I don't think the point of the post was as serious as people have made it.