Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Prosperity Gospel and Bishop Long

Since I didn't grow up with a religion, it fascinated me in many ways, however ambivalent I am about it as an institution. Sometimes, I found religion is a place people seek comfort and spiritual growth, and sometimes, I watch it with weariness, when the dominant tenor of the sect become material gain, versus spiritual one.  Even the one champions eternal salvation of souls, as the Catholic does, however debatable, warrants less distrust.

I have not heard of Bishop Eddie Long and my grasp of the concept of "Prosperity Gospel" was vague, till the recent lawsuit against Mr. Long.

I don't want to discuss Mr. Long's litigation here.  What I want to address is this brand of Christianity and the lavish life style of Mr. Long.

Last night on NPR I heard a story on Mr. Long and Prosperity Gospel by Barbara Bradley Hagerty.

Long's church and his personal life are manifestations of the "prosperity Gospel" he preaches. Also called "name it and claim it," this style of preaching states that God does not want you to be poor — indeed, Long preaches that Jesus was not poor — and that riches are a sign of God's blessing.

Long himself drives a $350,000 Bentley, bought a $1.1 million home in 2005 and favors gold necklaces and Rolex watches. When the Atlanta Journal-Constitution asked him about the $3 million he received from the church and its charities between 1997 and 2000, Long was defiant.
"We're not just a church; we're an international corporation," he said. "We're not just a bumbling bunch of preachers who can't talk and all we're doing is baptizing babies. I deal with the White House. I deal with Tony Blair. I deal with presidents around the world. I pastor a multimillion-dollar congregation."
His lifestyle as a spiritual leader is questionable and troublesome if not downright deplorable.  His preaching that God wants you to be rich stresses material gain instead of spiritual growth, which is the opposite of what Jesus would have preached.

Mr. Long has not a spiritual house, rather a huge corporation, which he had freely admitted.  To me, his church is not much different from an Amway enterprise.

Ecstasy / 狂喜 / Ekstase
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Saturday, September 18, 2010

$499, With Kids $599

I usually am able to pay no attention to the advertisements in newspapers, however, one such block on San Francisco Chronicle drew my attention to it.

There is seven smiling people, male and female, welcome the viewer with their beaming teeth. A cheerful bunch. When I read the text, I did an experiment with a friend. I hid the text and asked to guess what it is advertising for.

- Dental service?
- No. Legal services.
- Help you to foreclose your neighbor's house?
- No. More personal.
- Getting unemployment benefit?

Well, the answer is revealed in the large texts: "Divorce?" $499. It added that it costs $599 with kids.

This advertisement was stunning in it sunny way and served as a primal example of how ill our society has become. Sigh!


Saturday, September 4, 2010

Presidential Carpet

NPR recently broadcast of a story by Associated Press: Oval Office Makeover Has Comfy, More Modern Feel. It is such a strange read during this depressing time.
Every president eventually puts his own mark on the Oval Office, decoratively speaking, and the White House unveiled the Obama makeover on Tuesday, just hours before a major presidential speech on Iraq from his famous Resolute Desk (still there.) Obama had long been making small changes in the Oval Office, aided by California designer Michael Smith, but held off on a broader redesign until now, mindful of the nation's economic distress.

The White House wouldn't reveal the overall cost of the new look, but said in a statement that it was "in line with the amount spent by Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush on the redesigns of their Oval Office." It added that the funds came from the nonprofit White House Historical Association, through a contribution from the presidential inaugural committee.

NPR's broadcast mentioned the man-hour needed to make his brand of presidential carpet. But that information, perhaps deemed too sensitive, was no where to be found online.

I did more searching and found it on The Detroit News:

The Obama administration declined to divulge the cost of the office makeover but said it was comparable to what other presidents have spent. It took 30 craftsmen and more than 570 man hours to produce the rug at the Scott Group. The rug, installed last week, contains 25 percent recycled wool and uses natural colors and undyed thread as part of the office's all-natural theme.

If the average salary of those skilled works are $20/hour, that makes $11,400, not including design, material, machinery, and transportation costs. Excuse me! Every time, when we have a new owner of the Oval office, a whooping amount of expenses. I would have thought that 1600 Pennsylvania have changed the name to Château de Versailles!

I wonder what happened to the previous presidential rugs. I would have hoped that Obama would stop this insane practice of wasting of material and resources every four or eight years. I guess the audacity to hope, will always get disappointed.

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"Chairman" © Matthew Felix Sun