Steven Furtick is an ass.
And so am I.
And so are you.
When I saw an article in the local newspaper yesterday talking about Furtick's ridiculous house-purchase, I laughed. Then I went home and laughed my way through a blog post that I knew would get a lot of traffic because A. People like to see someone with power taken down a notch, and B. Steven Furtick is an ass.
In that post, I explicitly stated that I wasn't going to get into a discussion of the phrase "don't muzzle the ox," and yet that is what most everybody seems to want to discuss. How much is too much? Does a pastor with more money have a right to shinier toys? If he gives a bajillion dollars of his apostles' money to charity, doesn't that entitle him to a gated mansion in the woods? And cetera.
This is ridiculous. Like, Emperor's New Clothes ridiculous.
Steven Furtick is a pastor who claims to represent Jesus, and is building himself a multi-million dollar mansion in the woods. When people question this decision, his response is to have his CFO talk to the newspapers and downplay the size of the house, while loudly bragging about how much money his church gives to charity. This is not what makes him an ass, but it is definitely an asinine thing to do, and it is perfectly legitimate -- given that he postures himself as a representative of the upside-down kingdom in which the first are always last -- to have a good laugh at his upside-down priorities.
What makes Steven Furtick an ass is that he is a human, and humans are nothing if not asses. They (we) are selfish and self-centered, and, given the opportunity, will almost always grab money and power and use it to grab more.
Let's take the argument away from Furtick for a moment, though.
Instead, lets talk about starving children.
Last I heard, roughly fifty million children die worldwide of malnutrition-related illnesses every year. That's a staggering statistic, and even if it's only halfway true, it's ridiculous. But that's what it is... a statistic. Statistics are cold and dry and don't mean anything. So let's say, instead, that there is a starving child sitting next to you at the table in your house. Your plate is loaded with food. The starving child has nothing, and is bawling her little eyes out and reaching hungrily for your food. You have more than you need. But you do not share. This makes you an ass (actually it makes you the orifice of an ass, but let's keep it clean for the kids).
Now, say you start to feel guilty, so you share one bite -- are you a "good person" now? NO. You are definitely still an ass. You are an ass until you've shared enough of your food that that child is no longer hungry. You are an ass until, like corrupt little Zacchaeus, you have paid back four times what you have stolen. You are a Christian when there are no more starving children anywhere, and you have shared enough of your food that that child now has more than you, and the injustice that led to her starvation has been righted.
And even then, you're still an ass.
Just because a starving child does not die sitting at your table with you watching it happen, does not mean that you are not culpable. And if you live in a culture that is glutted with wealth while children die by the millions worldwide, and yet you never give it more than a passing thought -- you are an ass.
We are ALL asses. We all choose to spend money on stupid, frivolous things for ourselves, while ignoring the desperate needs of the world around us. We all toss off a few dollars here and there to assuage our dirty consciences, and then go right back to what we were doing -- trying harder and harder to acquire more and more wealth, luxury, and pleasure. This is normal. This is what we are.
This is... dare I say it... not entirely the worst possible thing.
My favorite part about who Jesus was and what he said is not that he spoke the Truth to power. It is not that he sided with the poor against the rich. It is not that he turned water into wine, and that if he wanted to, he could have turned wheat into marijuana, and sugar into cocaine. No, what I love most about Jesus is that he looked around at all us asses and he said, "You guys. You guys are serious asses, you know that? But you know what? I love you, and it's okay." And I love that Jesus taught that the best way to get free of your asinine tendencies is to admit them, but that even when we didn't admit them, he still had us covered. Because God is love. And love wins.
I didn't make fun of Steven Furtick so that I and everyone else could delude ourselves into thinking that we weren't asses like he is -- so that we could ignore the fact that every single time we spend money on frivolity (Starbucks, anyone?) while the hungry stay hungry, the thirsty stay thirsty, and the marginalized continue to be oppressed, we ARE the asses we like to condemn.
This is the Worst Possible Thing: to stand up and loudly proclaim that we are not asses. To say, instead, that we are the mouthpieces of God, and to point vigorously at our pathetic little attempts at sainthood in an effort to distract from our asinine selfishness.
This is why I chose to make fun of Steven Furtick. Because Steven Furtick is an ass and, as far as I can tell, doesn't seem to be aware of it. Not only that, but he has around fourteen thousand apostles who go out every single Sunday to listen to him talk, and they don't seem to be aware of it, either. No, they positively worship the guy -- as though he somehow weren't an ass.
A number of these people are my friends. One of them even said, in response to my post yesterday, that Furtick makes his skin tingle. And he meant that in a good way.
The Cult of Furtick worships a golden ass. And what's funnier than a bunch of people gathered around a golden ass, bowing as though it were a god?
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*Note: I put a lot of time into giving you this ad-free reading experience. If this post means something to you, you are more than welcome to pay me back by linking the bejeebers out of it on your social medias. And/or better yet, you could go pick up a copy of my book, "IMMORTALITY (and other short stories)." Dankegratzithanks.
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