Conversation on Culture

A friend comments:

“i love everything joel osteen stands for and his message..if you can talk for more than an hour about vague self help topics with a religious twist you can become a multi millionaire!…what a country!”

My thoughts:

Joel is no different than any other person proselytizing their values for profit. Every institution seeking power and influence relies on these leaders to cull and organize the masses into unflinching obedient belief. In essence he’s no different than any other cultural icon we subscribe and devote our attention to. If you have appealing values, you can gain a cult like following too. A great country indeed.

Friend’s response:

Very great point…but there’s just something extra sick about exploiting mainly poor and middle class people (for the most part) who think that giving people like him their money will somehow get them salvation or good fortune or a better footing in life.

My response:

What’s the difference between Joel and the majority of corporations? People give a company the majority of their waking life to get paid mediocre shit wages, believing they’ll make it someday, that someday they’ll be in a better position, and the company feeds them this lie, asking them to continue selling their soul, even though they have no genuinely vested interest in their employees long term well-being. These same companies promise salvation of a different sort, that by buying and consuming their goods, you’ll gain social status and satisfaction. But no amount of purchases make that a reality, so they exploit their material pipe dream, running people into debt and depression.

I believe that both Joel’s followers and any of these mainstream corporate consumers are equally exploited, and equally as foolish.

Friend’s response:

“but at least when you purchase an xbox you have something to show for it..and for most an xbox is not “a way of life””

My thoughts:

For most of Joel’s followers it’s not a way of life, just a feel good message on the weekends. Likewise, many Xbox owners operate the same way, but there are a good deal of those that subscribe to these institutions with equally ridiculous fanaticism.

I’d argue that the idea that “you have something to show for it” so “it makes it somehow more worthwhile” is part of this delusional disease of consumerism that keeps people buying more and more. I can show you someone who has it all but lives in emotional and spiritual (whatever that word means) poverty and destitution. And I can show you someone that has nothing tangible to show but is overflowing with emotional and spiritual wealth.

Seen in the right light, Joel ain’t that bad (when compared to his corporate counterparts that we readily identify with). He’s just religious, which leaves a bad taste in our mouth. Corporations are slowly becoming equally distasteful, we’re just not quite there yet as a culture. We should maintain an equal skepticism for each.

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