Sunday, December 24, 2006

Landover Baptist interviews Mrs. Joel Osteen

An excerpt:

After 72 hours of unsuccessfully attempting to decipher a secret message to al-Qaeda, the Department of Homeland Security released to the public today an audio-taped telephone conversation between Mrs. Harry (Heather) Hardwick, of Landover Baptist Church, and Mrs. Joel (Victoria) Osteen, of some church in Texas. The government had secretly wiretapped the December 20, 2005 exchange pursuant to the Patriot Act based on officials’ well-founded belief that Mrs. Osteen’s outburst aboard a Continental jet earlier in the day constituted a terrorist threat by a couple with suspected al-Qaeda ties. ...

Heather: ... Apparently, there remains a patchwork of folks who still believe in those obscure New Testament verses that say we should give our money to the poor -- or, at the very least, not take money from the poor to make ourselves rich. They obviously don’t understand contemporary Christian capitalism.

Victoria: It chaps my hide, Heather! Joel has worked his rump off, wining and dining book publishers and construction investors. We built the largest church in the country so we could be rich and fam---

Heather: Second largest, dear. I know it’s tempting to exclude Landover Baptist from the list, given that churches like yours aren’t even remotely in the same league in terms of size or quality. You can, however, claim to be the nation’s largest non-denominational church with a non-message.

Victoria: Pardon me?

Heather: Let’s face facts, love. You have a large following because your hubbie doesn’t preach anything that could be deemed even remotely controversial to anyone. I loved his leap into network television when Larry King asked his opinion on abortion and homosexuality, and he refused even to condemn those vile acts, responding with a line typically reserved for hair stylists and florists: “I don’t go there.” He even refused to affirm that only Christians will go to Heaven. Some may call that blasphemy, but I refuse to judge, particularly since I rarely have occasion to travel to abandoned sports arenas in Texas to do my worshipping.

Victoria: We have a positive message, Heather. We teach people that as long as they love God and have faith in themselves, they can lead the best life possible now.

Heather: While that kind of line may work in Susan Powter infomercials and dime store psychology books principally sold in rural Wal-Marts, it is hardly enough to sustain an operation as ostentatiously gargantuan as yours. Since your so-called message is little more than the opening minute of an Oprah special, you have to ensure that your congregation worships and idolizes you. There can be no more slip-ups, Vi!

Victoria: But many opinion leaders have backslid in their private lives, and their followers forgave them.

Heather: That is because they committed to definite positions, hon. Because a man of God like Rush Limbaugh condemns everyone who isn’t a white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant, wealthy, heterosexual male, he can become a hillbilly heroin/hydrocodone addict and his fans don’t mind, because they love his message of hate and animosity too much to abandon him, no matter what his indiscretions. When Brothers Falwell and Robertson say something utterly ridiculous (which is a fairly regular event), we overlook it because these devout leaders condemn everyone who isn’t like us.

Victoria: But we want to embrace everyone, Heather.

Heather: That’s apparent, Vickie. To ensure that as many people as possible join your “Church of the Generic Message,” you stand for nothing substantive, thereby making certain you don’t alienate anyone (except people wise enough to recognize the absence of substance). To accomplish this in the long-term, you must make yourselves so loveable and beyond reproach that people embrace you despite your complete lack of ideology. Pulling a Leona Helmsley on a commercial airplane just won’t cut it.

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