Affirmations, Persuasion, and the Prosperity Gospel

Creflo Dollar. Source

I am still reading the books I mentioned two weeks agoGorilla Mindset and How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big.

To me, both books seem come to the same conclusions: using personal affirmations is a good idea. (I think that Mike Cernovich basically says that affirmations work because they strengthen the mind, and Scott Adams says they work for some unexplained reason. They’re most likely both right.) Both authors also use strong persuasion.

The other day, I came to the realization that Prosperity Gospel preachers, and, to some extent, Gospel preachers as a whole, have also come to the same conclusions, but by a different route. Continue reading “Affirmations, Persuasion, and the Prosperity Gospel”

So Near, So Far (Walking Away From Shame)

I had the opening notes of a Joe Henderson song stuck in my head yesterday. I don’t know how famous he was in jazz circles, but I used to listen to one of his albums, So Near So Far: Musings for Miles, all the time, because he played tenor saxophone, an instrument I played all through high school, and my music instructor thought I needed the inspiration.

It’s a fantastic jazz album, but the only problem I had with it yesterday is that the music is linked to a sense of failure in my mind. I had to turn it off after a few seconds and listen to something else, while the shame of failure washed over me. Continue reading “So Near, So Far (Walking Away From Shame)”

How ‘Angry Young Men’ Grow Up

This afternoon I had the sudden hankering to listen to some of Billy Joel’s music. I discovered on Spotify a live album I didn’t know about (actually an expanded re-release of his), and one of the tracks that stuck in my head was Prelude/Angry Young Man, originally off of his 1976 album Turnstiles.

I blame my father (and by ‘blame’, I mean ‘thank profusely’) for my love of Billy Joel’s music, especially from 1974’s Streetlife Serenade to 1983’s An Innocent Man. I borrowed Dad’s Billy Joel CDs enough for him to ask me where they were on a regular basis. I’m not sure whether he ever actually got all of them back.

‘Angry Young Man’ is a great, fast-paced track. I don’t know if it’s because ‘angry young men’ seem to rush about here and there, , or if it’s just because Billy Joel wanted to do an awesome, fast-paced song–either is fine with me. It’s no surprise that it stuck in my head, but it was weird when I paused the album and drove to the gas station, where, after pumping gas, the same song starts playing over the intercom system. (I don’t know who programs the music for RaceTrac gas stations, but I approve.)

Either God or the universe is trying to tell me something, or I’m just grasping at an interesting coincidence to give myself an excuse to write something. I’m fine with either. Continue reading “How ‘Angry Young Men’ Grow Up”

Healing and Invisible Walls

This is what I feel like today.
This is what I feel like today.

This is the first article I’ve seen anywhere that gets healing right, in my estimation:

In both Evangelical and Charismatic circles, evangelism often looks remarkably like business sales.

  • Establish a need – “You are headed straight for eternal, fiery torment. You need help”
  • Pitch the main benefit – “By accepting Jesus, you can avoid eternal, fiery torment.”
  • Sweeten the deal – “But wait, there’s more. God answers prayer (for healing, finances, relationships) so you will have a better life.”
  • Always be closing – “Would you like to pray this prayer and avoid fiery damnation?”
  • Don’t waste too much time on any one pitch – there are too many souls that need saving.

In this context, healing ministry tends to be part of the salvation sales pitch. It tends to be less personal and more “how can we reach the most people”.

There are upsides and downsides to this perspective, but regardless of one’s opinion on the matter, it makes sense to have an “I don’t know” theology on healing when our goal is maximum reach and “results aren’t guaranteed”. It makes sense to keep our expectations of healing vague when we can’t predict the outcome and salvation is the primary objective.

The rest of the article is fantastic, too, and I recommend it highly.

I’m thinking about healing today because I’m coughing out my lungs due to bronchitis. Thanks God for medicine. But I’ve always been taught healing as a sort of magical thing that happens when I do x. Doesn’t matter what x is, it’s usually something that’s not sustainable. Have so-and-so pray for you, he’s really anointed. Give more money. Pray more. Read your Bible more. And the list goes on. Continue reading “Healing and Invisible Walls”

Thinking Differently

We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.

photo-1432927994002-af88b5da76a2– Albert Einstein.

A frequent problem I run into in my life is my limited perspective on things. When I have reached a place of hopelessness, where it seems that there is no way out of my predicament, I have come to recognize this as an opportunity of sorts. Once I can calm the chaotic emotions down, I can begin to ask God, “Okay, I cannot see a path forward. Please show me the path.” Offtimes at work it simply involves digging into a technical issue until some anomaly becomes apparent, or until I know enough to know that I don’t know enough, and so I will need to ask someone else.

In life, we frequently run into areas where we are profoundly ignorant. Sometimes we don’t know that we are ignorant. I would imagine that some are content to make up the answers as they go. Myself, I prefer the slower, thoughtful approach. I still get tangled up in mental knots sometimes, though, when I can’t perceive a way forward. It is at that moment that I know that my thinking needs to change. Continue reading “Thinking Differently”

‘Survival Scriptures’

I’m not feeling very well today. Sometimes you just have to muddle by the best you can.

Yesterday at church, the scripture readings included Psalm 118, which is funny because Psalm 118:17 was one of the ‘survival scriptures’ that I used back when things were at their bleakest.

FullSizeRender Continue reading “‘Survival Scriptures’”

The Importance Of ‘Addictions’

the-pathFor the past year or so, I’ve been obsessed with a certain online game. I find that as I start writing more, that the desire to fire up the game client grows less each day.

This is OK, and I expected as much. It fits a certain pattern I’ve noticed. Maybe you’ll relate.

For the past couple of years, I’ve been locked in a cycle of anxiety and the feeling that I’ve been going nowhere. Stuck in my career with nowhere to go. Everything noble I had tried to do had failed.

Everybody needs an outlet during those times. Video games often help me. Before this one, it was a different game. Listening to and reading a lot of science fiction, fantasy, and superhero-type novels also helped. Reading comic books also helped. 

It’s all about dulling the pain–the pain of having no purpose. Or at least the pain of feeling like you have no purpose.

Continue reading “The Importance Of ‘Addictions’”