Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Oh, prosperity gospel rant, it's been too long!

Recent events in my immediate area concerning a certain church mailer I received have made me want to go into full ranting mode. But since I don't want my big, fat mouth to reflect poorly on my church family, I have decided to dig up an old rant instead. (Read: My husband told me not to.) A few months ago, I posted the following prosperity gospel rant. Many of you have already read it. For those of you who have, please go check out Nick the Geek's post here: Who is a fool
For those of you who have yet to experience me at my self-righteous best, please enjoy the following rant and THEN go read Nick's post. He's actually a pastor, and a pretty smart (albeit geeky) one at that.

Without further adieu, I give you The Prayer Cross:




There are so many things in this commercial that anger me that I will have to dissect and analyze it a bit at a time:

"Watch as people gaze in amazement as the experience the magic of the prayer cross for the first time." Errr, magic? Didn't I read somewhere in the bible that magic is a bad thing?

"Creating not only a magnificent piece of jewelry, but a one of a kind spiritual accessory." You mean like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control? That kind of spiritual accessory? Oh, wait, that's the Fruits of the Spirit. Everyone knows that it's really tacky when you wear fruit as an accessory. Nothing at all like this necklace.
"When held up to the light, the entire Lord's Prayer becomes instantly and almost miraculously visible." Well, at least they said "almost miraculously". Don't want to be stretching the truth or anything.

"Each prayer cross comes with a certificate of authenticity." Which is reassuring. Because you'd probably go straight to H-E double hockey sticks if you get one of those fake prayer crosses.

"The prayer cross is the perfect way to say Happy Easter or Merry Christmas." Hmmm...I kind of think the best way to say Merry Christmas is to celebrate the birth of the Savior of the world (the One who left His perfect home in paradise where He sat at the right hand of the Father to die an excruciating death on the cross for the atonement of our sins) and to give comfort, encouragement and hope to the marginalized in society. You know, like Jesus did. And while the prayer cross is undoubtedly "blingtastic", If I chose to wear a cross, it would be something simple. Not necessarily made of wood and stained with blood, sweat and tears, but a more humble representation of the ultimate price that was paid at Calvary.

"...and is sure to bring joy and comfort to all who wear it." I don't know about you, but wearing a shiny cross made out of genuine Austrian crystals and sterling silver does not bring me joy or comfort. The very idea that a person might believe they can purchase a trinket and it will somehow fill that giant, God-shaped hole their heart is both infuriating and heartbreaking. (Not to mention blasphemous.)

This is just one more thing that feeds into the heretical teachings of the prosperity gospel, leading people to believe that God is for the express purpose of blessing them (instead of the other way around); that your financial status is directly linked to your own personal holiness; that if you are poor or sick or you have lost a loved one and your heart is breaking, it is because you are of little faith. And speaking of well known biblical passages, how do these health and wealth preachers explain the beatitudes? Would someone PLEASE explain to me how you get around that particular passage of scripture?

I know that there are a few pastors who read my blog. (Don't worry, I won't turn you in the secret society of holiness.) I am sincerely asking why, with the notable exception of John Piper, more highly visible Christian leaders aren't speaking out against this blasphemy? I am totally off base with this? Please give me your honest opinion, anonymously or otherwise. Because as far as I'm concerned, the Christian community as a whole should be involved in the spiritual equivalent of roaming the streets in an angry mob with torches and pitchforks to expose these people for who they really are. (In Christian love, of course. Always in love.)

When I picture the Perfect Gift, during communion or simply during quiet time, my concept of beauty looks more like this:


(End of rant. I'm going to go cry now...)
Update: Joanna reminded me that there are other high profile pastors speaking out against this stuff. So, thanks for that. Piper just seems more appropriately pissed off about it.
Also, if you happen to have purchased one of these lovely crosses, no offense. I'm sure it looks good on you...(especially if you're my friend's mother-in-law).

22 comments:

Joanna said...

I found another piece of christian jewelry that almost makes that look sane and appropriate. I present to you "the widows mite" http://www.thewidowsmite.net/

Some extracts from the publicity "When you give the gift of the Widow's Mite, you are saying to the recipient, "When you wear this piece of Christian Jewelry, you are connecting yourself to the poor Widow of Mark and Luke whom Jesus praised for her ultimate sacrifice. She gave her last two 'mites' to the Holy Temple because she knew God would provide for her next meal."

Just imagine holding an actual coin from the time that Jesus walked the earth. Hold your new Widows mite pendant in your hand and close your eyes and be transported back in time. Did this coin pass through Jesus' hands? It's certainly possible. It's truly amazing when you stop to think about it. "
Doesn't there seem to be something a bit wrong to spend up to $249.99 (plus extra for a box made in Bethlehem)to connect yourself with a poor woman who sacrificially gave? And whats with the Jesus may have handled it rubbish? The odds are so very low that it is bordering on deceptive advertising to even suggest it.

Koffijah said...

I think God has given you the gift of anger over lies and injustice. You will use these things to point people to the truth.

PS. Don't move to The Location. :-)

Koffijah said...

That is, of course, unless you want to join us for dinner.

Mare said...

oh my...you know I "love" this stuff. I just heard a commercial on easter sunday for a special stole that "is your direct connection to Jesus Christ." Hmm...and i thought that the whole death and ressurection, tearing of the curtain thing had accomplished that connection for me. Silly me.

Billy Coffey said...

I think this is the first time I've been exposed to Ranting Katdish. I'm not sure exactly how many personalities you have, but so far I really like them all.

The Prayer Cross. I've actually seen these around. But I'm like you and prefer the beauty of that last picture.

Of course, it'd be hard for people to make any money off something like that...

Nick the Geek said...

I have a prayer cross ... well actually not yet but I'm getting one. Reminds me I need to send an email to Jon, but not the one you are thinking of. They have been around for hundreds of years. Most people call them Rosaries.

I wonder just how many things like this are done by huge corporations taking advantage of Christians. Sort of like the relic sellers from back in the day. Chauncer where are you when we need you?

On a side note, Katdish, please don't get into gambling and stripped of your clothes left to walk into town ... please really don't do that.

If you didn't get the reference you haven't watched a Knight's Tale and shame on you.

Finally a word verification I can use without starting a flame war.

Word Verification: coporterBad 70s serial. "Cop by day reporter by night and just plain bad all the time. Tuesdays this fall you won't want to miss the coporter; he will mess you up.

Helen said...

Okay, the last time you posted this, I didn't comment, but I think I need to fess up now. I hope we will still be friends.
I have something like that. I don't know if it is "genuine", but 63 years ago, my mother's Godfather gave her something like that for her Confirmation. Twenty-nine years ago, when I came home crying because I was being bullied, insisting that I hated them and didn't care if they went to...well....you know....my mother took it out of her jewelry case, had me look inside to see the Lord's Prayer. I already knew it, said it each evening, but momma wanted to point out especially "forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespassed against us". I'll try to keep the rest of this short.
She gave me the necklace. I wore it daily for years, and held the cross between my fingers each time I wanted to go for someone's jugular. I can't say that I instantly forgave those who hurt me, but I did struggle with forgiveness rather than with hate.
I am not ashamed of having worn it, nor of still having one in my jewelry box.
I hope we are still cool.

wv ailader Join me for some ailader if you have time. Unless you have time for a beernow. Heeheehee.

Wendy said...

Don't sugar-coat it Katdish, how do you really feel? Perhaps if you were a better Christian and bought your own one-of-a-kind (only thousands made) prayer cross, you'd be able to get over your anger issues...

*ack, gasp, sputter!*

Nope, just can't do it. Those people suck.

sherri said...

Only HELEN could make wearing the Prayer cross beautiful.

I think motives are the key here.

vw: flifi
"Fli Fi Fo Fum, KAT smells a prayer cross, you better run!"

katdish said...

Joanna - Wow! I can display my poverty for all the world to see (upon a beautiful gold chain, no less) for a mere $249.99 plus shipping and handling? What a deal!

Koffijah - I find myself biting my lip sometimes about this stuff. Mostly because I really don't want to be all about what I'm against. I want people to know what I'm for. As to joining you for dinner, you don't scare me, I've eaten dinner in some questionable Asian places in New York's Chinatown. I think I've eat rat, but it was called Kung Pao Chicken.
Can't say that I've eaten bugs like popcorn, though...

Ooo, Mare. Good one. I've missed you!

Billy - At then end of the day, isn't making money what it's all about anyway? Sadly, many people think that's the case.

Nick - yes I caught your obscure Knight's Tale reference, but it took me a minute...

Helen - Not the same thing. That was an act of love on your mother's part. How could I be against that?

Back to being ridiculous tomorrow, with my much anticipated (by me) "I do not heart grocery shopping" update!

katdish said...

Wendy - Yeah, I have trouble expressing how I really feel about some things...

Sherri - That was a FANTASTIC wv! I may have to steal it.

Beth said...

Yeah. Yup. Uh-huh.

Nick the Geek said...

katdish,

will there be more cheese buttler?

katdish said...

Nick -

You're just going to have to tune in tomorrow.

Also, That's what she said.

Erin said...

Here is why more pastors don't speak about this heresy. Because they don't care. Because they see that the prosperity gospel brings people into the church. Because they see their numbers rising. Because people in ALL congregations, in all denominations, in all sections of churches subscribe to this crap. I've gone to good solid churches and seen the people with their prosperity ideas, their "God just wants you to be happy" theology, and their Louis Vitton knockoff bible covers. Consumerism is all over the place in the American church, perhaps many churches are honestly being built on it. I listen to these mega church pastors, the ones who write books and have multiple campuses and they are only preaching a friendly happy gospel. They aren't preaching the whole truth, only the happy truth. Well frankly I'm beyond that. I don't need only happy truth, I need whole truth, and so does everybody else.

And I'm sorry but this junk that those fleecing the flock are selling to a willing church is disgusting. Think of how many people could be fed with the money spent on the widows mite or the magical prayer cross necklace. But we have turned into a taking church, taking taking taking, not giving giving giving. It is disgusting and wrong and I believe angers God.

But pastors won't talk about it because 1. they buy into some of it, and 2. they are petrified of losing numbers.

katdish said...

Erin,

There are pastors who speak out against it, but there are many more who are afraid of the consequences of offending the wrong people. From the bottom of my heart I want you to know that I am praying that you will find a good, biblically based church that will preach and teach the Truth. I know this stuff is infuriating. Please feel free to rant, incessantly if necessary, here. I know I do...

Also, Katy is a lovely town to raise a family. Just saying...

Erin said...

Kat, thank you :) I'm in massive amounts of love with Texas (and Rick Perry) so as soon as Katy has a Navy base we might relocate there LOL Just get on them building some navy facilities. Of course we are navy stationed in Oklahoma city, so perhaps there is a chance LOL

Nick the Geek said...

I speak out against it, but then I also speak out against TX. I have no fear.

Ryan B said...

I agree with you and your perfect break down of the commercial. but I always wanted to wear a sweet cross necklace that I got as a gift from like my great great grandfather and has been passed down through generations. I think that they look cool. I probably couldn't pull it off though. But I also have to wonder how much the corporation is making off of Christians who buy this stuff because it will make them "more holy."

Annie K said...

Katdish,

That was even better the second time around. Kind of like leftover Lasagna.

I'm heading over to NtG's to rant a little.

Cat said...

I know the teching of this stuff is wrong. I wish i couldbe more infuriated but I grew up around it. For 17 years I swallowed Prosperity Gospel hook, line, and sinker. Actually for 15 of those years I thought everyone believed like that.

The turning point for me was when I friend's father died a quadropeligic after so much prater God would heal him completely. I started to wonder shy God would allow such a good man to die after he had had so much faith. Another guy I knew died just months later from cancer and he had publicly professed a dozen times that God would heal him. If anyone had faith it was this man. So why did he die?

By the age of sixteen I was looking for some honest answers. I don't think the answert lies in saying God doesn't heal. I've seen a little boy whose brain tumor just wasn't there anymore, I had God supernaturally heal me of severe depression, I've seen miracles only explicable by God.

I think the answer lies in that we live in between the already and the not yet. The kingdom of God is here on this earth but not in it's fullest. God heals, yes, but is by no means required of Him. He's not obligated to heal me because of something I do or make me wealthy because I gave the church money.

In the end God heals who He will heal. It's not really our job or place to question the Almighty Creator of the Universe. Moreover, I can't earn God's love, God's blessing or His healing. In the end all we can do is live with our hearts full of love towards the Creator and accept every blessing He pours out whether it be hardship or gift.

katdish said...

Cat -

Wow. Thank you so much for that comment. I really appreciate you sharing your story.