Joel Osteen is Badong

For those of you who are not Bad Early- 00’s Movie aficionados, the title is a reference to a scene from Kung Pow: Enter the Fist, the audio of which has inexplicably been dubbed over a Rick Perry campaign ad here:


Joel Osteen, as you probably know, is a very popular preacher stationed in Texas. He has his message played on multiple television and radio stations worldwide. He has a charming smile of near-Osmund family proportions (see above).

Here’s the thing: much of what Osteen preaches is not Christian thought. It is, in fact, mostly New Age metaphysics repackaged for mass Christian consumption. You find more detailed information elsewhere, but I’m just going to hit the high points. Because, you know, something to do with the internet and short attention spans.

1. Everything centers on YOU

Typed in self-satisfied and this was the first image. I'd say it's a fairly accurate representation.
Typed in self-satisfied and this was the first image. I’d say it’s a fairly accurate representation.

The Traditional View

God is the eternal uncaused first cause. The focus of the Christian life should be on God. Jesus told us that of the two most important commandments, the most important was to love and serve the Lord our God. The primary focus of the Christian life is on God, and the secondary focus is on others. We are not called to be self-serving, but to put others’ needs above our own for the glory of God. We may own great wealth, but that wealth, like all other aspects of our lives, are to be devoted to furthering the kingdom of God in humility and servitude.

Osteen’s View

Almost all of Osteen’s books are nothing more than self-help manuals, with topics that are distinctly self-serving: how YOU can have a better life, how YOU can be more fulfilled, how YOU can be more prosperous. Osteen encourages his readers to help others, but seemingly only as a means to increased self-satisfaction. This fits right in with the general American idea of self-promotion, self- actualization, self-aggrandizement, and self- fulfillment. This is not the Gospel; this is the Gospel Americana, tailored perfectly to a waiting audience.

2. Everything is YOUR fault

Pictured: a finger, attached to a hand, presumably connected to an unseen arm. Whether or not the rest of a body exists is just rampant speculation.
Pictured: a finger, attached to a hand, presumably connected to an unseen arm. Whether or not the rest of a body exists is just rampant speculation.

The Traditional View

The Christian understanding of life and God is that God is in control of everything and, at the same time, we have free will (unless you’re a Calvinist; then you just ignore that second part). As part of God’s ineffable and sovereign design, because of the fall of man in the Garden, sometimes bad things happen. Furthermore, sometimes these bad things happen to people who do not deserve such misfortune. Nowhere in the Bible do we find the prophets, Jesus, or any of the disciples saying anything about Christians/followers of God being exempt from hardship or suffering. In fact, Jesus makes it perfectly clear that to follow Him is to invite suffering (e.g., Mt 5:10). We suffer because of the fallen state of the universe, not necessarily because of our own personal failures.

The Bible says other stuff about suffering, but I can’t quite remember what.
The Bible says other stuff about suffering, but I can’t quite remember what.

Osteen’s View

Osteen’s father fully embraced the heretical Word of Faith teachings of the likes of Kenneth Copeland. Osteen himself has endorsed the errant Word of Faith movement. Check out this quote:

“You’ve got to speak it out. Your words have creative power. One of the primary ways we release our faith is through our words. There is a divine connection between you declaring God’s favor and seeing God’s favor manifested in your life. And some of you are doing your best to please the Lord. You are living a holy consecrated life, but you’re not really experiencing God’s supernatural favor. And it’s simply because you’re not declaring it. You’ve got to give life to your faith by speaking it out.” (Audio clip from Bible Answer-Man Broadcast, April 26, 2004).

This is nothing more than the idea that faith is force, words are the containers of that force, and that by shaping your words you can create your own reality. This is NOT Christian, despite the Christian-sounding language.

3. The Mass Christian Mega-Church

Let me make a quick disclaimer: the mega-church is NOT heresy, the mega-church is NOT Osteen’s invention, and the mega-church is NOT a reason to cause a split within the Christian faith. However, it is, for various and sundry reasons, dangerous and misguided. Others disagree; let them.

The Traditional View

As believers, we are to congregate with one another. We are to come together in fellowship, and celebrate the holy sacraments (baptism, marriage, communion) arm-in-arm, hand-in-hand. We should emulate, as much as possible, the early church as described in the book of Acts and the later epistles. The church should be a place of intimacy, love, fellowship, and community. Church does not exist to present a spectacle or entertainment. Church is for the edification of the body of believers and mutual accountability among brothers and sisters in the faith.

Osteen’s View

I think my favorite part of this picture is that
I think my favorite part of this picture is that “small” is part of the url

This is the goal.

There is no sense of community in a place this large (if you’ve been in a large church, you’ll already know this), only an enhanced sense of isolation because of the sheer number of people. That thing in the middle, despite the polished, immaculate steps, is not an altar. It’s a stage. It’s a stage in the middle of a stadium, with jumbo-tron screens designed to draw attention to Osteen’s face. I cannot be convinced that this was the good Lord’s intention for His people.

Now, some may accuse Osteen’s critics of causing disunity in the church. Others will say that if he’s not harming anything leave him be. Let me answer both charges. If we’re to hold fast to the Truth, then we as believers must divide from those who are not committed to the truth. We must distance ourselves from this “fast-food Christianity.” As for Osteen’s doing no harm, consider the emotional, spiritual, and physical torture that people who hold to his Word of Faith dogma must go through. Sick? You need to have more faith. Poor? It’s because you’re not loving God enough. Going to the doctor? That’s a sign of weak faith. Lies ALWAYS have consequences, and we cannot turn a blind eye to them.

-Cabbagetroll

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The Gospel Is a Joke

Worth a read, and it’s pretty short.

Dave Barnhart's Blog

I don’t mean “the Gospel is a joke” in a pejorative way. I mean it in a metaphorical way:

  • When you hear it, you either get it or you don’t.
  • You can explain it and explain it and explain it and people will still not get it.
  • Sometimes after years of not getting it, something happens in your life that makes you say, “Oh, now I get it.” We call this feeling an epiphany.
  • You can tell by the quality of their laughter whether or not people get it. Some laugh along because they think they’re supposed to. Some assume that to be good, the joke must be at someone’s expense…
  • …but the best jokes are not told at anyone else’s expense. The best presentations of the Gospel contain no malice or contempt.
  • Sometimes you hear it so often you stop laughing. But maybe one day it sneaks up on you…

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The Four Games You Need to Play (or Replay) on your N64

Despite being released (in the US) over seventeen years ago, The Nintendo 64 remains a veritable gold-mine of entertainment. The games I (read: my parents) bought fifteen years ago are still amazingly fun, and if you haven’t picked up that horribly awkward controller in a while, I encourage you to do so. In ascending order, here are my top four suggestions for what games you need to play to keep your mind off the fact that any NEW game you want to play will cost half of your paycheck this month (you didn’t need groceries anyway, right?):

4. Mario Party

183539-mario_party_3__u_[1]

An object which has spawned arguments lasting for over a decade.
An object which has spawned arguments lasting for over a decade.

Do you have friends? Want to change that? Play this game.

The series continues into the new generation of consoles, of course. This is not surprising, considering the immense popularity of the first few installments. I personally prefer the first three games; after that, the charm tends to wear off. Also, consider buying a cushion for your palm. That infamous joystick on the controller will be getting quite a work out, and you will be getting a brand-new deformed mass of muscle where your hand used to be.

Mislabeled: Number 5’s actual title is “hand-ruiner.” Check your owner’s manual if you don’t believe me.
Mislabeled: Number 5’s actual title is “hand-ruiner.” Check your owner’s manual if you don’t believe me.

3. Mario Kart 64

Here’s another really fun game that can make you and friends stop talking to one another for a while. It’s been done over and over again since, each new installment adding new items, hazards, and gimmicks to keep you coming back for more racing nonsense. In fact, this is the only racing game that I can stand to play, despite the rage that it invariably produces. And let’s not forget this particular little gem:

Whichever developer thought that this would be a good addition to the game needs to be tickled until he or she pees his or her pants, then whipped with a fire-hose for about an hour.
Whichever developer thought that this would be a good addition to the game needs to be tickled until he or she pees his or her pants, then whipped with a fire-hose for about an hour.

Don’t forget to try that awesome jump on Rainbow Road, either.

2. Ogre Battle 64

At this point, I assume you have no friends left, so we’ll move on to my personal favorite type of game: 1-player games!

This is you. And me. This is us.
This is you. And me. This is us.

This game is a great amount of fun, not least of which because it’s part of a series of games in which I have never dabbled beyond this particular installment. Character customizations, a storyline, fun (if dated) visual effects, tactics – the game has everything you need to waste a solid 60+ hours of your life trying to save a non-existent country from a non-existent threat while you eat Cheetos and drink Mountain Dew. Get it, if you don’t have it.

1. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Oh come on, like you weren’t expecting to see this game at the top of the list. This game is amazingly enjoyable, and its successor, Majora’s Mask, is still equally fun. This game showed us what the 3D modeling of future consoles would be capable of doing while managing to have an immense amount of replay potential. It was on the slightly pixelated field of Hyrule that I – and you, most likely – got really good at aiming at stuff that could fly and move around with surprising agility, even if we did have to rely on that z-targeting mechanic that always felt a little like cheating. And trust me, I know that I’m not the only one who loves this game; have you seen some of the amazing fan art being generated right now about a game that came out over a decade ago?

Plus, we all learned that this is an actual instrument. In unrelated news, the international ocarina market of 1998 and 1999 saw an increase in sales of eleventy-billion percent.
Plus, we all learned that this is an actual instrument. In unrelated news, the international ocarina market of 1998 and 1999 saw an increase in sales of eleventy-billion percent.

If your N64 is stuffed away somewhere, go get it out. If you sold yours and traded up, give Nintendo even more of your money by downloading some of these games onto your console. You’ll be glad you did.

-Cabbagetroll

A Response to Ms. Rawlings: A Few Minor Issues

Elizabeth Rawlings recently wrote an article, titled “How to be a Christian without being a jerk about it,” in which she points out some traits in the Christian Church that she believes we would all be better without. For the most part, I agree with her and find it an excellent article. There are a few points she raises that I have a bit of contention with, though.

Points 1-3: Oh, with the judging and the shaaaaaming

I include these three as one point, as both of the first two are encapsulated by the third. Simply put, “stop talking about Hell” and “stop speaking the truth in love” are more succinctly covered by the title of point number 3:

STOP WITH THE JUDGING ALREADY – Elizabeth Rawlings

A visual representation of what should be stopped

While this sentiment is trumpeted with gusto in the streets of America like a soothing balm for the soul, there’s an inherent problem if it’s misunderstood; when Jesus called us not to judge, lest we be judged, we cannot actually believe that He meant we were not to make any moral judgments. First of all, that would be hypocritical, as the act of claiming that we should not make judgments is in itself a moral judgment. Second of all, as Rawlings rightly points out, we are to see the “brokenness and aches” of a person as a call to love that person, but here’s the more fundamental question: from where did this brokenness come? The adulterous woman’s inherent problem wasn’t her adultery; that was a symptom of mankind’s fallen nature. Her real problem was separation from God.

In using this Biblical illustration, Rawlings has actually modeled the “speak truth in love” approach that she vocally deplores. Seeing the woman in the hands of a self-righteous mob, Jesus didn’t say, “Well, really, what she did is totally fine, guys. Calm down.” He acknowledged the woman’s sin, then used her sin to magnify the sins of the group as a whole. He was not saying that there is no such thing as sin, or that we should view sin as acceptable. He was saying that, despite people’s sins, we are to love them. Surely, we can agree on that.

Point 5: Evolution=Science, and ur so dum for not seeing that

Let’s think about this, shall we? The idea is that science and scripture are compatible. This is true; science seeks to understand the Truth of God’s design through the natural world. There is nothing ignoble about wanting to examine the wonders of God’s creative prowess. the fact remains, however, that there are serious objection to the plausibility of the Darwinian Evolutionary Paradigm’s ability to adequately answer the question of the origin of life and humanity. Mathematics (See the work of atheist Fred Hoyle) militates against the purely random generation of life from non-life, which in turn would severely weaken the plausibility of macro-evolution’s  status as Pure Scientific Enlightenment Incarnate. There are more evidences to be discussed, but let’s leave  the discussion at this: it’s a bit of a reach to push everyone who has problems with macro-evolution into a category of people that is making the country fall behind in test scores.

A small piece of galaxy-spanning sleight of hand, if Young Earth Creationists are to be believed.

And yes, the Earth is way more than 6,000 years old. You have got to listen to Rawlings on this one. I’ll talk about why this is the case elsewhere, but think of this: all the evidence in God’s creation combined with every measurement tool we have suggest an old universe. Claiming otherwise makes God out to be misleading and dishonest in his general revelation to humanity at large. If the entire universe is only 6,000 years old, God is sending us mixed messages on a truly astronomical scale.

Other than these little points of concern and the *GASP* swearing at the end, it’s a good read. Check it out, for sure.

-Cabbagetroll

3 Reasons Why League of Legends is a Terrible Game That Everyone Should Play

For those of you not in the know, League of Legends is a free-to-play online game where combatants control characters to move around a map to beat the snot out of one another. There is more to it than that, but nuance would only clutter up this article, so it’s best discarded.

Before I start listing the atrocities that plague this game like fleas on the backs of Mountain Dew-drinking bilge rats, I want to acknowledge something: most of these characteristics may or may not also be equally applicable to the game DotA. I want to acknowledge something else: I don’t care, because I don’t play DotA. With that out of the way, let’s get to the list.

3. The Players

You play on teams, usually consisting of four other players and yourself. You square off against a different team consisting of a different five players. Before you begin to play, you can chat with your team-mates to determine which character you should pick, where on the map you should focus your efforts, and so on. That part usually works out okay. Once play starts, you may notice that you can chat during the game with your teammates and the other team.

Why it’s terrible:
If you’ve never encountered anonymous, faceless online gamers in spheres like the Halo games or WoW, you are in for a treat.

Haha, just kidding; it's really more like someone stealing your treat and then smearing it on the sidewalk
Haha, just kidding; it’s really more like someone stealing your treat and then smearing it on the sidewalk

Players on LoL tend to resort to childish name-calling exceedingly quickly. In fact, insults occur every almost every game. While I have no statistics to back that up, I maintain it to be true. Here’s the kicker: most of these oh-so-witty verbal barbs won’t be coming from the other team. No, the comments about your mother’s personal life will most likely be spewed onto the screen by the very people you are supposed to be working with. What fun.

Did you happen to die early? Get ready to be called everything in the Junior High Book of Schoolyard Insults. Did someone else on your team charge into an area blindly? Prepare to get blamed for that. Did you forget to mention that someone on the other team disappeared, and might be sneaking up on someone else on your team? Well, that one actually is your fault. Don’t do that. To put it succinctly, LoL players are the most whiny, toxic players I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.

The irony of this article being nothing but an itemized complaint list is not lost on me
The irony of this article being nothing but an itemized complaint list is not lost on me

Why you should still play:
Two words: The Tribunal. Once you’ve played enough games, you will have the authority to rule over cases that have been reported by other players. You can see the chat logs, and see? Right there where the offending character dropped six F-bombs and a racial epithet? You get to punish him for that.

Seriously, the red button actually says “Punish”
Seriously, the little red button actually says “Punish”

2. The Champions

League of Legends features an astonishing one hundred and fourteen champions to choose from; given enough time or money, you can unlock them all. Otherwise, you can choose from a free champion rotation that changes each week to try out different play styles until you get someone comfortable for you. Sounds good, right?

Why it’s terrible:

WRONG
WRONG

It turns out that the plethora of characters can be very frustrating when you start playing. Imagine you have just finished playing your first game against five champions; you think you have an idea of what everyone can do, and you know what mistakes to try to avoid in the future. Well guess what?! You might go ten games without ever seeing any of those particular characters again! HAHA!

This also ties back into the first issue: whining. If you like a certain character, prepare to have others complain about how unfair that particular character is. It will come up. Maybe not your first game, maybe not your twentieth, but someone will start complaining about how evil you as a person are for choosing that character.

Hot pink is such an OP color
Hot pink is such an OP color

Why you should still play:
The variety is amazing. Once you’ve gotten the hang of certain concepts (Don’t get near the turrets unless the little guys are there first, always move around, watch you map), you get to the point where the differences between champions starts to matter less and less. There are differences to be sure, but part of the fun becomes testing the waters with these strange, kill-happy newcomers.

This happy little guy makes the big shark come out of solid ground to eat you alive. FUN!
This happy little guy makes the big shark come out of solid ground to eat you alive. FUN!

Embrace the chaos. It’s all part of the pleasure. And get used to it; new champions sprout up about once a month, showing no signs of slowing down.

1. The Time

No this is not about some existential crisis about the inevitability of old age coming on; it’s about game time. An average game of LoL will run you anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour to play.

Why it’s terrible:
That is far too long to be playing a game with no pause feature. This means no bathrooms breaks, no helping out around the house, no having conversations with anybody else, no dealing with household emergencies. You are locked into this game, and there’s no way out except victory or defeat.

Yeah, hold on, honey, I’ve almost taken this tower down. Could you turn up the AC, by the way?
Yeah, hold on, honey, I’ve almost taken this tower down. Could you turn up the AC, by the way?

You can’t just leave; strangers on the internet are depending on you to win a trivial game in which several groups of pixels are trying to destroy one another! Plus, if you go “afk” too often, you are liable to get reported, which in turn might get you … punished.

That would essentially be the online-gaming version of Heart of Darkness, but with less hope for the future
That would essentially be the online-gaming version of Heart of Darkness, but with less hope for the future

Why you should still play:
I actually don’t have a justification for this. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by the pause button, but consider this: that button was created for a reason. Darn good ones, I’d wager. This, more than anything else, frustrates me away from playing more often.

Still, it is a good game. And hey, it’s free!
-Cabbagetroll