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TV Preacher… at 6 AM?

October 19, 2007

There’s nothing like an early morning wake-up call from the Prophetess Dr. Paula White.  Between the screaming preacher, and a mild argument between my parents, I found it difficult to sleep.  I’d like to show why TV preachers have no place at 6 AM, and there’s no need for arguments while I’m sleeping.

My parents rarely argue at all.  Our house is nearly always at peace.  And this “argument” between them wasn’t even really anything severe.  No one was even raising their voices, but there was a little tension.  I’ll explain the situation.

I woke up and heard the TV from across the hall in the kitchen, volume turned up quite a bit.  Mom apparently was watching some Christian television show, as, if you’ve ever listened or watched that kind of television, you can always tell it’s a TV preacher.  It has a rhythm and tone all of it’s own: “YYEESSSSS… PPRRAAAIIISEEE HIM…*choir and organ starts going* NOW SOMEBODY… NOW SOMEBODY… SOMEBODY SHOUT YESSSSSS!!!  YEEESSSSSS!!!  HE’LL BRING YOU OUT!  HE’LL BRING YOU OUT!  He’ll… bring you out….  Mmmmmm, I can feel God is IINNN HERREEEE. Isn’t his anointing wonderful. Thank you Jesus.  *speaks in tongues…pauses and paces the stage, jittering like a young boy coming home to a big supper, but his mother tells him he can’t eat yet – excretes a Whooo. madness turns to calmness*… Those who will, turn to the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 3.  *short pause*  There’s somebody out there who needs to hear this word.  Read with me now.  In those days John the Baptist came…mmmm mmmm…And what was John doing?  PREACHING!  SOMEBODY’S GOTTA PREACH!!! Praise you Jesusssss.  Read on with me.  And what was John preaching?  Repent?????… Ohhh, we don’t want to hear that now do we.  We like that faith teaching now.  Bless me, bless me, give me give me.  You all know what I’m talking about.  Don’t give me that look.  I won’t go there, that’s a message all to itself.  *haughty laugh*  Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is … near.  Do we really believe that saints of God?  You know, the Bible says that Jesus could come back tomorrow, but are you ready?  Are you ready to meet the Lord?  I said .. ARE YOU READY!  ARE YOU READY TO MEET THE KING!  EVERYBODY SHOUT WITH ME, YESSSSS!  YESSSSSSS!”

TV preachers kind of wind up, explode, then are calm, read a portion of a Bible verse, wind up, explode, then settle down.  Process repeats for 45 minutes to an hour, until you’re mesmerized into some weird trance.  Finally everything tones down, and they ask you to pray with them.  “If you’ve said this prayer, we want to hear from you.  We’ll send you this free gift which will help you get started with the Lord.  *screen fades – Advertisements for the pastor’s books, tapes, and videos, and a phone number*”

Anyways, back to this morning.  Apparently the television show Mom was watching was Paula White’s show, “Paula Today” I believe it’s called. What a name for your show – An hour with ME your Prophetess…  Probably comes on TBN or something, I really don’t know.  Anyways, Dad comes in, after just waking up, and watches the show for just a few minutes, and Paula is talking about how to have a successful marriage.  A guest is on the show, who made some movie about Christian marriage, “Why Am I Married” (or something like that) is the title.  After speaking for a few minutes, Paula then starts to teach on the principles of successful marriage.

Now I know most of you are not into that whole Christian world, and probably have no idea who Paula White is.  She’s this big television preacher, who is on TBN all the time.  Anyways, just a few weeks ago she had a divorce with her husband.  Basically Paula had been living all the way across the country, not even living with her husband, because she was too heavily tied up in ministry.  She was running her television program, and her husband was busy pastoring their mega church in Florida. The two decided they were living seperate lives, and decided to divorce.

Dad starts telling Mom, “Why are you watching this?  Who is she to teach on marriage and she can’t even keep her own marriage together?”  Mom responds that my Dad’s being judgmental.  Mom furthur continues that Paula’s husband had announced that he was 100% responsible for the divorce, and not to blame Paula for what happened.

Dad’s naturally sceptical.  He went on that they’re only trying to save face, because both their ministries are bringing in so much money.  Paula’s ministry, I believe, brings in something like 40 million per year?  And she keeps like 12 million per year for herself.  He futhur continued that society has gone downhill.  He said something like, “It’s sad when a woman, with her boobs hanging out, can have a major divorce just a few weeks ago, and then less than a month later be hosting a special, telling us all how to keep our marriages intact.”  (paraphrased as best I remember)

Mom’s sensitive about this issue, as she really admires Paula White, and watches her TV program frequently.  She defended Paula, and said not to judge, and that we really have no idea what really happened, and that Paula’s husband may be 100% responsible for what happened, like he said.  He may have been running around with another woman, who knows.  Paula may be innocent.

Now we come to the issue, who’s in the right, and who’s in the wrong?  Well, both are right, and both are wrong at the same time.  It’ll be nice to show how some good philosophy can fix this problem, and show why this argument should have never happened.

Now most people think arguing is a bad thing.  “Arguing” in this fashion most certainly is.  It will get you nowhere.  It’s just two people slamming each other, and others, with vague accusations and not getting anywhere.  You’ll notice nothing came to a conclusion.

Oftentimes people argue in this fashion and after the fight goes on for some time, eventually both of the people involved get incredibly angry.  Voices are raised, and it can get nasty.  Now my parents did not yell at all, but there was some tension, as I said earlier.

Next off comes the oversimplified ethics.  People see this type of situation happen and say, “Arguing is a bad thing.  And when you argue you should apologize for doing so.”   That’s just what my parents did – they apologized to one another.

This is what I consider ‘sweep it under the rug’ ethics.  It’s true that both of them still disagree heavily on this issue, and that nothing was resolved, but they decided to smile at one another and try to forget what happened.  I don’t completely agree this is best.  This is a LOT better than what most people do, but still far from ideal.  The problem is that the tension is still there, but it’s only being repressed with will power.

This repression, this “sweep it under the rug” kind of thinking can get nasty.  It typically leads to one person exploding later on when enough of these issues are swept away under the rug.  Eventually the will power to hold them all back weakens, typically during a rough time in the relationship, or during a frustrated moment, and their “guard is let down”.  Everything explodes.   All the crap they’ve been putting up with and trying to hold back all comes out at once with wild and violent screams.

I couldn’t see my parents doing this, but for the sake of example, say they’re in the car.  Dad says, “These people, I’m telling you.”  Then Mom, being frustrated from something else, completely different, blurts out, “THAT’S THE PROBLEM WITH YOU.  YOU’RE ALWAYS JUDGING EVERYBODY!”   Then off they go, scraping and screaming at each other.  And at this moment, it all unloads.  Some event, oftentimes petty, becomes the excuse to unload everything that’s been bothering them for the past who knows how long.

Let’s examine a much better way this could’ve been handled, and how knowledge of philosophy could’ve completely avoided this argument to begin with – and saved me some sleep.

First off, the truth of any principle is independent of who’s saying it, and their past.  A person with a horrid past, such as a mass murderer, could stand up and teach the passages of Jesus Christ from the Bible, and what he’s saying could well be true.  He could be teaching the most beautiful ethics, and all of it could be true.  It doesn’t mean he actually follows it, but the truth of what he’s saying isn’t reliant on his lifestyle, or the past events of his life.

But Dad’s view that she (Paula) shouldn’t be teaching on that subject isn’t completely unfounded.  If she’s divorced herself, it’s likely she doesn’t know the real principles that keep a marriage together herself.  It reminds me of a poor man selling a business success information kit.  He himself is poor and never made much money in his life, but here he is selling you an information packet on how to make millions of dollars using his breakthrough system.  Chances are his “breakthrough system” will only break your wallet and leave you just like him.

When Mom and Dad were confronted with this issue, instead of attacking and defending Paula as a person, the arguments should’ve been directed toward the actual doctrines and principles she was teaching regarding marriage.  Each individual teaching she was advocating should’ve been examined, and flaws should be looked for in what she’s teaching, not her as a person.  Evidence should be examined, and each principle being examined should be weighed against hard facts, and see if they hold up against careful scrunity.

Real facts would be things like, “Out of 1000 marriages examined, 800 of them ended up divorced within 3 years who held views similar to those being taught by Paula.”  Then you can say, “We feel it’s highly likely, unless other evidence showing other principles determining these divorces be presented, that these teachings lead to a very high chance of divorce.”  That’s the general format of a real argument.

If that’s the case, then you can argue this: “We feel there is an 80% probability of divorce, within the first three years of marriage, if this particular teaching of Paula’s is enacted.”  Also, as for the other good things she may be teaching, you can seperate the good from the bad, instead of lumping it together as all bad or all good.

Arguing isn’t a bash each other in the head with vagueness.  Arguing is presenting evidence such as that stated above.  And when you argue hard facts like this, I feel there is no need to apologize at any time.  If someone gets upset at hard facts, let them be upset.  If they’re getting upset about hard facts, they’re upset with the world, not at you.  Never apologize for the truth.  But, keep in mind, delivery of arguments needs to be done correctly, without personal accusation and defamations.

Let’s examine a rather extreme example, as extremes have a wonderful way of showing the truth and falisty in viewpoints.  Picture a couple getting angry about the laws of physics.  One of them says, “All these things you’re saying about gravity, and trajectories, it’s all wrong!”  Then the other shows hard data showing the truth of all the claims, and his partner responds, “You’re just being mean.  You should apologize for how you’re treating me!”  I can’t speak for others, but I wouldn’t apologize.  If I didn’t verbally or physically abuse her, and only told her that’s she’s wrong, there’s no need to apologize. I’d tell her that she’s being stubborn and unteachable, and that she needs to have a different attitude on what she considers right and wrong.

If a person doesn’t respect truth, they don’t respect God, others, or even themselves.  If something someone is doing is hurting others, and this is a hard fact, and they refuse to acknowledge this, don’t apologize. When someone gets angry when told they’re wrong, this is a sign of weak character.  When a child whines when corrected, stand your ground.  They’ll respect you more later on when they learn that you were telling the truth, and were actually doing what’s best for them.

As the Bible says, wise men love to be corrected, as they learn something new, but fools despise instruction.  You’ll find that theme all throughout the book of Proverbs.

The scientific mindset was invented to bring people together during arguments.  Hard evidence has been found to be the best method for bringing people together when they disagree.  When both of the people involved in the argument look to evidence to solve who’s right and who’s wrong, then truth will decide the matter after investigation.  It becomes an impartial matter.

Going back to examine my parents argument in this new light:  When Dad told my Mom that Paula shouldn’t be teaching on marriage, Mom should’ve replied, “What teachings do you disagree with, and why?”  Then if the issue came up, “She can’t even keep her own marriage together, how can she teach us marriage?”  And Mom replies, “We’re not sure if she’s even guilty of anything.”  Then you have to become an investigative journalist, travel and meet with Paula’s friends, people who work in their churches and TV program, and ask around, and get the truth as to what really happened between Paula and her husband.  Claiming, “Her ministry brings in a lot of money” isn’t sufficient evidence to back marital infidelity.  That lends a little weight, but is only an accusation without evidence.  It’s possible that she lied about what really happened, to keep the income coming in, but then again, they might not be lying at all.  Without evidence you simply have to say, “At this moment, we do not have sufficient evidence to decide the truth or falsity of that particular issue.”

I’ve noticed when two people argue in the scientific fashion, it becomes more of an impartial observation, there’s typically nobody getting upset, and it’s actually productive.  You eventually come to some sort of limit as to what you can conclude based on the evidence, and then you decide whether or not it’s worth looking into futhur, or whether you’re just going to leave it at that.

There’s a few things worth noting before ending this discussion.  Christian philosophy is heavily based on the idea that God communicates to spiritual people.  If you live a holy life, God will talk to you, and teach you important life issues, and tell you how to guide your life.  Whether my Dad and Mom realize this or not, a lot of this kind of thinking rubs off into their arguments.

They don’t always seem to view truth the way say a philosopher or a scientist views it.  To them, if they hear the voice of God during prayer, that is truth. To me, whether or not a principle is true or not is based on how hard it’s been tested, and whether or not it’s been shown to hold strong under intense pressure.  As for voices in your head, those can come from all sorts of things.  I’ve studied too much psychoanalysis to trust voices in my head, or to think some dream I had came from God.

Because of this sort of thinking, to where holiness, or spirituality brings forth communication from God, it leads to judging other people.  A lot of what Dad seems to say is that Paula isn’t spiritual enough to be teaching in a ministerial position when she can’t keep her home life together.  Though I can’t state this definitely, after observing my parents talk about things for years, it doesn’t seem the thought occurs to them to examine her teachings independently of her.  It’s more of a “she’s not worthy” sort of thing.  She’s not receiving the divine instructions to guide God’s children and does not have adequate spiritual connections to be teaching on the big television programs that she’s teaching on.

I suppose God could be upset with all that’s going on, but then again, he may not care one way or the other.  Once again, there’s no evidence to conclude what God thinks about the matter.   But this does bring up one of my favorite quotes, which I acquired from H.G. Wells, in his book ‘Outline of History’ (pg 262):

“Religious intolerance and moral accusations are the natural weapons of the envious against the leaders of men.”

People oftentimes mock people, and say things like, “Hahaha.  Yeah, she’s another one of those, ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ hypocrites.”  But that’s exactly how this issue should be treated.  I’m not sure why what Paula does really matters.  If she has good teachings, but decides she doesn’t want to follow them, who cares.  If they’re good teachings, go with them, and run with them.  If they’re bad teachings, turn her off.  We can benefit just as much from her teachings regardless of how “spiritual” she is.

But Christians typically have to rely a lot on character with their teachers.  Why is this?  Christian ethics are typically taught not by argument but by authority.  They don’t typically teach why you are to do something.  It’s more of a, “The Bible says to do this, and I’m the anointed teacher who has a calling on my life to teach God’s Holy Word, so you do what we say.  No questions asked.  If you disagree with any of our teachings, well, you’re a vile sinner, on your way to hell.  You better get back in line, because you’re dangling over the fiery pits  right now!”

There’s a lot of “God wants this for you” and, “You’re stupid if you don’t agree with this.  God wants good things for you, and is telling you to do this, this, and this.  Why aren’t you obeying the voice of the Lord, my child?” There’s a lot of controlling people, using this God loves you, he’ll leave you if you sin, and fear of disobeying God, going on in religion.  It has an effect of disconnecting the Christian from reality and directing all concern entirely upon this vague “spiritual” world, which of course, varies based on each Christian’s subjective conception of the spirtual world.

Then again, when I see a lot of people’s lives, they’d be better off listening to their local pastors, than running around in the bars, chasing sleazy women, and doing drugs.  Most of what local churches and pastors do is a wonderful thing.  Don’t take my criticism too heavily. Sometimes I’m exaggerating the bad, and not fairly presenting the fact that most of what goes on is good.  But when I see the little bit of bad, I oftentimes find aresenic, and it doesn’t take much of that to kill you.

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