I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more.
Howard Beal/Network (1976)
You have to admit, there is more than enough to be mad about these days. Yet, from time to time, there is reason to believe the world and its inhabitants are basically good. Even when Mother Nature turns her back on us (e.g. Hurricane Harvey), there is a bright side. Hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals are putting themselves at risk to help those in need in the wake of this apocalyptic storm.
With one highly visible exception.
One of my favorite Lewis Black routines comes from his performance at the Warner Theater in Washington, D.C., a stop on his “Red, White and Screwed” tour (2006) One segment in particular takes aim at televangelists who use the Old Testament (aka Jewish Bible) as a prop.
On Sunday morning, I turn on the television set and there is a priest or pastor reading from my book. And interpreting it. And their interpretations, I have to tell you, are usually wrong. It’s not their fault cause it’s not their book.
You never see a Rabbi on TV interpreting the New Testament, do you? If you truly want to understand the Old Testament, if there is something you don’t quite get, there are Jews who walk among you and they, I promise you this, will take time out of their very Jewy, Jewy day and interpret for you anything you are having trouble understanding. And we will do that if, of course, the price is right.
Now I am not a Rabbi, nor do I play one on TV. However, maybe it’s time a member of my tribe takes to the airwaves to explain the New Testament to hypocrites and the faux righteous who have no problem telling others how to live their lives.
Take Joel Osteen, please. In the midst of the most destructive natural disaster in Houstonians’ memory, when most churches opened their doors to feed, clothe and house displaced residents, Osteen’s Lakewood Church canceled services and shuttered its doors. Instead of taking in the homeless, Osteen took to Twitter.
August 25/How you respond to a situation will influence those around you. When you have peace on the inside, you’ll bring peace to the outside. (Dr. ESP Response: Forget volunteering. Follow my example. Time to Tweet.)
August 26/God uses people to push you to where you’re supposed to be. Without them, you couldn’t fulfill your destiny. (Dr. ESP Response: Guess your destiny led you to the nearest keyboard.)
August 26/Victoria and I are praying for everyone affected by Hurricane Harvey. Please join us as we pray for the safety of our Texas friends & family. (Dr. ESP Response: Not quite a substitute for actually doing something that would make a difference.)
August 26/Give people the grace to change. Don’t judge their whole life on one season, one mistake. (Dr. ESP Response: Is this your response to the universal anger at your lack of compassion during the storm? Damn right, YOU need to change.)
August 27/There’s a simple phrase you have to get down in your spirit. “God’s got this.” (Dr. ESP Response: Now that’s what I call passing the buck.)
August 28/Jesus promises us peace that passes understanding. That’s peace when it doesn’t make sense. (Dr. ESP Response: The only thing that doesn’t make sense are these inane platitudes.)
August 29/Our hearts break as we see the damage and destruction in out city. Please join us in helping Houston recover. Visit LakewoodChurch.com/Relief. (Dr. ESP Response: A fundraising appeal. Does this modern day P. T. Barnum really believe I would send money to a church who’s leader lives in a $10.1 million mansion? Lakewood is the last place I would consider for charitable giving.)
August 29-10:52am/Lakewood’s doors are open and we are receiving anyone who needs shelter. (Dr. ESP Response: It is amazing what a little, or in this case a lot of, shaming can do. If Jesus led the flock, Mr. Osteen was at best a straggler.)
Mr. Osteen, instead of Tweeting, may I suggest you pick up your Bible and re-read James 2:14-17 which reminds us faith is not enough.
14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?
15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food.
16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?
17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
You’re welcome. And in light of the current situation in Houston, feel free to send my “New Testament Interpretation Fee” to the American Red Cross, Salvation Army or any other trustworthy organization engaged in the relief effort.