AN OPEN LETTER TO MY MAN, JOEL OSTEEN
As Houston has been getting the breaks beat off of it with rain, heroes have emerged. We’ve seen folks jump in boats, hop down from helicopters, and open up their homes to complete strangers – all in the name of the struggle. Southeastern Texas has grown a lot closer these past few days. To be honest, it’s pretty damned heartwarming considering the socio-political Petri dish we currently exist within.
Mattress Mack, the old-school Houstonian bed guy opened up his warehouses and let the tired and scared sleep on his inventory. He sheltered people on high ground. My man is losing thirty-three thousand dollars a day, and he didn’t even blink. That’s a sense of loyalty like you hear Nas rapping about on Illmatic.
Texas retail giants H-E-B and Buc-ee’s both went above and beyond, serving the state that’s given them so much. H-E-B didn’t even wait for a phone call. They straight up had trucks gassed up and ready to mobilize at the jump. A whole crew had rubber on the road and immediately drove a force of vehicles toward Houston with supplies, showers, mobile kitchens, and other amenities.
Buc-ee’s has become a de facto first-responder headquarters, refusing to charge a dime. These are the kinds of stories that thaw some of the ice we have built up over the past decade. We’ve become a nation of hardened jerks thanks to personal politics. It’s amazing to see Americans bleed together over a common bond. It’s not the ideal circumstance, but at least it’s an honest one.
Every Texas sports franchise has ponied up dough. Whataburger is giving a few mil and celebrities are dropping cash left and right. Non-ironically, it’s cool to support the fourth largest U.S. city to the hilt. And rightly so, these folks were just trying to live their lives, and now most of them got swimming pools for houses.
So where’s Houston’s most famous man of God? Where you been, Joel Osteen? Is your mansion underwater? Is your 17,000-seat megachurch taking care of the masses? Not till like a day ago.
Claiming that the water was too high, you managed to keep the doors Lakewood church locked tight, despite being on high ground and having a clear shot off the highway. I mean, why would a man of God, someone who’s dedicated their life to “sacrifice” and selflessness need to open up their air-conditioned, fully-stocked former basketball arena in the wake of this country’s largest natural disaster?
Joel Osteen, bruh. We see you. You’ve been found out, my guy.
Men like you don’t serve God. You serve yourselves under the guise of solidarity with the Lord. But when real disaster strikes where is that selflessness? Where is the vaulted walk?
People are suffering all around you, Joel, and you’re waiting on the city of Houston to ask you to shelter folks? Talk about opportunism personified. You’re happy to take in boatloads of cash, but when it comes to action? I guess you’re more of the traditional “Thoughts and Prayers” kinda amigo.
You didn’t open those doors because you ain’t in the business of real salvation, just an abstract idea of what salvation feels like on paper. Dude, you screwed up. Time to own it. When you expect a city that’s getting its teeth kicked in to drop a phone call or a smoke signal to do the right thing, you’ve got screwed up priorities.
After a no-holds-barred beat-down across social media, hopefully folks see Joel Osteen as not a holy man, but a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He’s after those easy feel good moments where he can say everything is going to be A-OK. But in all actuality, when rear hits flame, he’s locked away in the high castle tweeting out words of encouragement, not getting his hands dirty like our new national treasure Mattress Mack.
Watch any recent interview with Osteen and tell me that’s a man who’s committed to helping his city. I see a guy who’s bummed because he knows he’s gonna sink millions into rehabbing his church from all of these stinky poor folks who couldn’t get out of dodge fast enough. That’s the calling card of a snake-oil salesman: all promise and zero delivery.
Word on the street is that parishioners have to buy a ticket to attend a Sunday service. Fam, what the fuck is up with that? You’re charging folks to get their Hosea on? There’s gotta be some moral by-law in the religious guy code of conduct for that blasphemy.
There are scores of real, hard-working Christians grinding around the clock right now, putting in the work, struggling to do right by their people, their neighbors, and their community. Because isn’t this whole exercise really about community in the face of disaster?
What Joel Osteen did lets us see who he is: a forgery sitting atop his money pile, waiting for the next carload of suckers to cash in on their sweat equity. If Christians wanna find a place to worship, there are plenty of other churches that would love to have them. I’m willing to bet they don’t charge for parking, either.
Robert Dean is a writer, journalist, and cynic. His most recent novel, The Red Seven was called “rich in vivid imagery, quirky characterizations, and no holds barred violence and mayhem. I never knew what the word romp really meant until now, but in case you’re wondering, this is it.” By Shotgun Logic. Robert is finishing a New Orleans-based crime thriller called A Hard Roll. He lives in Austin and likes ice cream and koalas. Stalk him on Twitter: @Robert_Dean