Sunday, June 28, 2009

Faith, Hope and Charity

I had never heard of Joyce Meyer Ministries until the Chris Coleman case broke. As an avowed non-Christian, I'm not in the habit of watching televangelists. I am somewhat familiar with the so-called "Prosperity Doctrine," having had it preached at me by a minister in a local church. Basically, it states, "If you get right with the Lord, the Lord will do right by you." The more you give, the more you get. This, to me, was antithetical to the doctrine I was taught as a child, which was that serving God required giving up everything you had to Him, and He would see to your survival. That's a far cry from what is being preached today.

Chris Coleman was Joyce Meyers' Chief of Security. His actual job description has not been released, but it did involve travelling with her. He resigned shortly before his arrest for the murder of his wife and sons, and violation of a morals clause has been cited as the reason. Because of this, people have been voicing their opinions of televangelists in general, and this one in particular, at several sites connected with the murders. Discussions have become somewhat heated. The lady has her detractors and her defenders. A lot has been made of a supposed purchase of a $23K toilet. This has turned out, according to Wikipedia, to be a misunderstanding. The word used was, apparently, "commode," which, while being used as a euphemism for "toilet," could (and in this case, does) also refer to a piece of furniture. A "commode" is a large unit--sort of combination of hutch and wardrobe. The confusion comes from the days of chamber pots, which were often kept in the commode.

But, I digress...

The fact remains that the woman lives very well from the proceeds of her Ministries. Here is a listing for a property reportedly owned by her, that she is currently trying to sell (no doubt so that she can use the equity to further her dissemination of The Word). Now, I ask you. Would the Jesus we learned about in Sunday School have approved of this sort of lifestyle?

Robert Heinlein, whose book, "Stranger in a Strange Land," was, in part, an exploration of up-market religious salesmanship, had a few pithy things to say:
The profession of shaman has many advantages. It offers high status with a safe livelihood free of work in the dreary, sweaty sense. In most societies it offers legal privileges and immunities not granted to other men. But it is hard to see how a man who has been given a mandate from on High to spread tidings of joy to all mankind can be seriously interested in taking up a collection to pay his salary; it causes one to suspect that the shaman is on the moral level of any other con man. But it is a lovely work if you can stomach it. [Lazarus Long, _Time enough for Love_, by Robert Heinlein]

The most ridiculous concept ever perpetrated by H.Sapiens is that the Lord God of Creation, Shaper and Ruler of the Universes, wants the saccharine adoration of his creations, that he can be persuaded by their prayers, and becomes petulant if he does not receive this flattery. Yet this ridiculous notion, without one real shred of evidence to bolster it, has gone on to found one of the oldest, largest and least productive industries in history. [Robert Heinlein]

I am not "against" religion, as long as nobody tries to make me believe in it. I understand it as a means to impose some sort of order on the Universe. Chaos is a very difficult idea to accept. We want to believe that Somebody is "in charge." And, who knows? Maybe Somebody is.

I am not convinced.


  1. Your post has struck a chord with me, since I have known of at least two incidents of religious charities being used for less than charitable works.

    I do believe in God. However, I also believe that if the people who give money to those so-called holy charities would instead perform ACTS of charity/ kindness, they honestly would make a lasting difference in our world. Unfortunately, for some people it's easier to write a check than get off their butts.

  2. Too true. It's depressing, really.

  3. Religion was invented by man in order to assuage his fears about what he did not know, and to give a human identity to a spiritual concept.

    In my opinion, Jesus (who lived a Jewish life - did not invent a new religion). He called the religious Jews hypocrites because they were! He interpreted living a spiritual life with doing good, and not with keeping rules for the sake of keeping rules.

    One thing that jumped out at me about the Coleman case: it has been said that divorced people cannot work for JMM. I know for a fact that JM herself has stated she is divorced. So, the rules are for everyone else - not her. I believe Ms. Meyer's rules do not guarantee an employee is of good character just because they stay married. Obviously, a divorced person of solid character would be a preferable employee to a cold blooded sociopath who is capable of murdering his own wife and children while they slept.

    Religion is, and has always been, very dangerous to the non-religious!

  4. Amen to that, Goldie!

    Are you still on vaccy?

  5. Nope, I am back. It is time for separate vacations. I am having "issues" dealing with a husband and daughter who want to constantly DO stuff. I really wanted to read a couple of books, snorkel a bit, and drive down to Key West and see the Hemingway place and other great Key West places. The vacation consisted of doing everything both DH and the kiddo wanted to do. I did manage to read one book, and to listen to a few podcasts. I am glad to be home!

  6. Well, you went his way--next time it's your turn to choose.

    One of the last trips SSS and I took was with another couple to the beach. Chandra was maybe 3, and, in four days, I got exactly 15 minutes of waking relaxation! Everyone else had a wonderful time, while Ronni cooked, cleaned up, swept sand out of the tent, and watched the baby. I have not been camping on the beach since!