The Prosperity Gospel

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Screen Shot 2016-02-14 at 12.11.05 PMLife sucks. It always has and it always will. I had an old boyfriend who was want to say “Life sucks then your friends die.” My philosophy is more along the line that life is a bitch then I became one. Bad things happen to good people and there is nothing we can do to stop it. Prayer isn’t a game. It isn’t a joke. It isn’t something to make us wallow in the happy-clappy narcissistic faith that exists today. I almost think, due to the feel-good, opportunistic, blessing, luck, and gratitude philosophy of today that we’ve managed to forget what prayer is.

Kate Bowler is a Christian and a writer out of North Carolina. She was recently diagnosed with Stage 4 stomach cancer. As usual, people swooped in, telling her how to pray, or what to do, and how to live her life. She wrote about the shallowness of the prosperity gospel.

“…The prosperity gospel popularized a Christian explanation for why some people make it and some do not. They revolutionized prayer as an instrument for getting God always to say “yes.” It offers people a guarantee: Follow these rules, and God will reward you, heal you, restore you. It’s also distressingly similar to the popular cartoon emojis for the iPhone, the ones that show you images of yourself in various poses. One of the standard cartoons shows me holding a #blessed sign. My world is conspiring to make me believe that I am special, that I am the exception whose character will save me from the grisly predictions and the CT scans in my inbox. I am blessed….”[1]

In the article she writes about Oprah and her philosophy in life. For me, this rings so true.

“…If Oprah could eliminate a single word, it would be “luck.” “Nothing about my life is lucky,” she argued on her cable show. “Nothing. A lot of grace. A lot of blessings. A lot of divine order. But I don’t believe in luck. For me luck is preparation meeting the moment of opportunity.” This is America, where there are no setbacks, just setups. Tragedies are simply tests of character…”

Coming from my point of view, it’s a pile of shit. I swear life is based on pure dumb luck and being at the right place at the right time, noting more and nothing less. Life is a crapshoot at best. There are winners and losers. The vast majority of us are losers who never get the big breaks and have absolutely no dumb luck at all. The shit that we must call life is all we have – unless we have the Lord.

Dealing with that shit in life is what breaks us. It destroys our faith. It makes us understand Job and the hell his life became. That is normal life in this world. What we make of it is the difference. It is being able to pick up the shattered pieces and wallow through that cesspool, and come out with just a little bit of dignity, and that little mustard seed of faith.

It isn’t about gratitude, shallow ‘blessings’ and this scam of praying the right way, being happy, and showing a brave face to the world. It is getting down and dirty with God, and battling for survival.

Bad things happen to very good people. They always have and always will. So many things in life are out of our control, things that cannot be made better. It just happens. There are no pithy sayings. Bad things do happen to good people. The canard that the Lord never allows things to happen that will shatter us beyond our endurance is just that – a big, fat, low-down dirty lie created, I swear, by people who can’t be bothered getting involved because then it might reflect back on their lives and might bring misfortune to them.

I have been through five years of hell, allowing myself to be sucked into the insanity of the new superficial way of believing. Obviously, because my prayers were not automatically answered, I was doing something wrong. I was told I wasn’t praying right.

Maybe there was a multi-generational curse on my family, dating back generations where someone had not believed the way they should.

I wasn’t expressing gratitude.

I wasn’t saying the right prayers.

And so forth and so on until I began doubting my own faith.

Life happens.

It isn’t because God is mad at us. It just happens. Bad people do bad things to good people. People contract diseases. God doesn’t cause bad things. There are times when they are allowed to happen. I think, in order to test our faith.

That’s the only explanation I can find.

Life sucks and we shout at God, then we learn that it is life. To think that good fortune and good things are as Oprah views them, “…A lot of grace. A lot of blessings. A lot of divine order…” Is just plain wrong.

In other words, those of us who are going through shit, and have had bad things happen, who aren’t billionaires and the great success stories of life have not been blessed by the Lord. I don’t know about you, but then that makes those of us who struggle just to get by on a day by bases rejected, not only in life, but by the Lord.

The Lord doesn’t reject us, we reject him. Falling for the happy-clappy mumbo-jumbo narcissistic ‘gospel’ is a sure-fire way of starting down that path of rejecting God. If we want to be truly honest about the situation, what is being taught is evil. There is no other way to describe it. Anything that separates us from God is not of the Lord, but of something else – evil.

I’ve discovered the one thing I have to hold on too is Job. He won. His friends, who kept telling him how bad he was, lost. His win was not about money and prosperity, but his relationship with the Lord.

 

 

[1] Bowler, Kate, New York Times, Death the Prosperity Gospel and Me, Feb. 13, 2016. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/14/opinion/sunday/death-the-prosperity-gospel-and-me.html?_r=0.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

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