The Revealer is back — almost. While you wait, read the latest from Chris Lehmann, “Pentecostalism for the Exurbs,” even if you don’t care about Pentecostalism and don’t know what an exurb is. Excerpted fromSlate.
Joel Osteen wants you to stand up straight. “Even many good, godly people have gotten into a bad habit of slumping and looking down,” Osteen writes in his best-selling self-improvement tract Become a Better You. “[Y]ou need to put your shoulders back, hold your head up high, and communicate strength, determination, and confidence.” After all, “We know we’re representing Almighty God. Let’s learn to walk tall.”
Osteen is the pastor of Houston’s Lakewood Church, a Pentecostal congregation recently named the largest in the country by Outlook magazine, hosting some 47,000 souls in the former Compaq Center, where the Houston Rockets used to play. Every Sunday, he broadcasts a running string of similar homespun nuggets of wisdom—usually rife with metaphors of automotive and financial trials that resonate with his exurban flock’s daily routines—while beaming incandescently before an audience of millions on the Trinity Broadcasting Network and various other cable services. And each of those sermons kicks off with Osteen’s patented chant, with those 47,000 voices declaring, “This is my Bible. I am what it says I am. I have what it says I have. I do what it says I can do,” and building to an oddly colorful climax: “I am about to receive the incorruptible, indestructible, ever-living seed of God, and I will never be the same. Never, never, never. I will never be the same. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”
The chant is about as close as Osteen’s relentlessly upbeat preaching ever comes to a theological doctrine, and it captures many of the key themes behind his runaway appeal…
Continue reading Chris Lehmann’s “Pentecostalism for the Exurbs” at Slate.