Sep 02, 2017 Where to give for Harvey & South Asian flooding victims & a defense of Joel Osteen
The world is never in shortage of ways and places to help others in dire straits, to save the planet from bellicose and environmental destruction, to improve human rights, and the list goes on. Rarely does it do any good to shine the spotlight on what private citizens are not doing for others rather than to look at what we ourselves can do. Two of the most recent natural disasters causing widespread death and destruction and the need for others’ assistance, are the recent catastrophic flooding and environmental threats in Houston and beyond that has claimed dozens of lives, and the apparently much more catastrophic flooding in South Asia that has claimed well over one thousand lives.
Giving financial assistance is a start. Here are links to some legitimate organizations welcoming aid donations for hurricane Harvey’s victims. I found fewer online links for giving to South Asian flooding victims, and decided to give through the British Red Cross after finding no separate South Asian flooding relief campaign on the American Red Cross’s website.
In the midst of widespread outpouring of assistance to the Texas flooding victims has come a troubling outpouring of condemnation of hugely popular and profitable television preacher and author Joel Osteen, for purportedly not opening his church quickly enough for those needing shelter, with additional general condemnation heaped at Joel. At first, I hesitated to post about this condemnation of Joel lest I focus on flames that would hopefully die down — and also with my limited familiarity about him –but those flames have not died down quickly enough.
I don’t follow Joel Osteen much, but do like the man. In a similar vein as the now-late Wayne Dyer, Ihaleakala Hew Len, and Ram Dass (all of whom I have met at their public appearances, along with Osteen), he focuses on our nearly boundless possibilities as humans. Drs. Wayne Dyer and Ihaleakala Hew Len both have masterfully — without superficiality nor oversimplicity– underlined how abundant the source is from which we have come into existence (Joel calls that source god, while Wayne and Ihaleakala focus more on our internal divinity), and Osteen joins with that message of abundance rather than lack. Joel Osteen joins the last three men in delivering simple yet non-superficial and compelling messages of non-duality, self-empowerment through the abundance of our source, and polishing the mirror.
Osteen seems to be very much the real McCoy of wanting to reinforce the above message, doing it in the context of a Christian preacher, and responding to the flack of Christian preachers for Joel’s not orating fire and brimstone rather than prosperity preaching, by saying that his followers already know the fire and brimstone and can use inspiration to lift themselves up. People gladly flock to Joel by the tens of thousands, apparently with no high-pressure sales tactics. They donate to his church without his asking for a penny on television. He doesn’t seem to be a scammer, which people ultimately would smell.
Joel and I do not see eye to eye on everything, including his view that homosexuality is a sin, which he grudgingly stated only when coaxed about his view by an interviewer.
From my limited exposure to Joel, he seems to have a good heart and the good nature of a child who sees the goodness in everyone, just as great Buddhist teachers see the Buddha nature in everyone. Perhaps it is that very boyishness and possibly innocence that caught Joel in his recent public relations challenge. I like it that he treats criticism from the public after the Houston flooding as water off a duck’s back, which is a great non-dualistic approach.
Among the relevant things Joel has revealed about himself and his church this week and before include the following:
– Even though his church is on a hill, that does not mean his staff and followers themselves were free from the flooding to even get to the church, and his church was not far from flooding risk.
– When his father was still his church’s leader, Joel preferred being behind the scenes, despite his father’s urging him in front of the pulpit and camera.
– Osteen’s father died, and that led to Joel’s taking over the pulpit and appearing on camera. His first appearances onstage were far from polished.
– Osteen takes no income from the church. His income flow — apparently huge — comes from his high-selling books.
– He does not ask for money donations on camera.
– He keeps ticket prices to his appearances low.
– He does not believe that a preacher needs to take a vow of poverty. His father experienced poverty before, and Joel is not going to voluntarily replicate that.
Christians can debate all they want about whether Joel is delivering a Christianity lite message or otherwise living up to his pulpit. That has nothing to do with me, not being a Christian myself, despite the efforts of some people over the years to convert me to Christianity.
We have limitless ways we can ourselves help others, without needing to judge nor point fingers at others for purportedly or actually not opening their wallets and resources more nor giving their time more for others in need.