Wednesday, June 17, 2009

My Favorite Christian -- Writer's Poke #235

I almost hesitate writing this one, because it's not my intention to jinx the man. Religious leaders tend to have some pretty nasty skeletons in their closets, but thus far, Joel Osteen seems to be exactly what he appears to be. And I have decided that Osteen is my favorite Christian.

The first time I saw him on TV, I was flipping through the channels in an effort to cure my insomnia. And there was this guy's smiling face. My wife calls me a funny atheist, but sometimes I like to watch TV preachers doing their thing, and this guy hooked me in. Something about him was different.

First off, he could give an entire sermon without once providing a Bible reference. Some might think that a weird thing to appreciate about a preacher, but I liked it. He clearly knew his Christian philosophy, but he didn't feel the need to footnote every line of text. In other words, he could think for himself, and he didn't spend an entire sermon paraphrasing or explaining what a particular Bible chapter meant.

All too often, preachers take their sermons directly from scripture, spending 30 minutes walking you through a story you've heard a million times, and leaving you with nothing new. This Osteen, though, wanted you to feel good about yourself. He wanted to give you a positive message -- and he wanted you to take away something from his message that you could actually apply in your daily life. Yes, he wanted you to believe in Jesus and all the jazz that goes with Christian faith, but he also didn't want to hit you over the head with his Bible repeatedly. And to me, that's a very refreshing approach.

While at Barnes and Noble last night, I glanced through his latest book. Happily, I discovered that he uses the same method in writing as he does for his sermons. He didn't make one Bible verse reference in the body of the text, nor did he include any Bible verse chapter notes at the end of the book. All the other books on the surrounding shelves were just full of verse references.

God bless you, Mr. Osteen.

Who is your favorite living religious figure? What do you admire most about this person?

"Satan delights equally in statistics and quoting scripture." -- H.G. Wells

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