Sunday, December 7, 2008

Sunday morning TV preachers

I watch Joel Olsteen and Creflo Dollar almost every Sunday morning. They have thirty minute shows that are excerpts of obviously longer sermons.

It is funny how my view of all this has changed over the years. I used to watch these guys for comic relief, ridiculing them for their delusions. Then I watched them as a prosecutor, vigilantly keeping an inventory of their transgressions. Now I watch them as fellow students of the teachings of prophets. We have different names for our prophets, but the teaching is the same.

Both of these gentlemen have insight into the human condition, the same insight, the same one that I have, that which can't be named. Both of them also love the camera and they are compelled to public performance, as I am. Both surely have petty drama, fundamental character flaws, and troubling personal issues to address, as I do.

My former views of ridiculing and disapproving of Olsteen and Dollar were a product of the fact that I believed that I was right and they were wrong. When I released that notion, when I began to see the ignorance in some of my own thoughts and the wisdom in some of theirs, I realized that my conflict with them was no more than a dance of thoughts in my head. I was insisting on the reality of a persistent separately-existing unchanging entity, several of them in fact, and it was this delusion that captured my attention, not what was really happening.

I mean, it is subtle, by "persistent separately-existing unchanging entity" I can sometimes mean definitions of words, i.e., you have to be mindful of the multiple translations of things like the Bible and the Pali Canon (Buddhist scriptures, as such). But, I also and simultaneously mean the self. It is all the same thing, all connected to the same delusion.

Huang Po said something like this: The foolish believe what they think and doubt what they see. The wise believe what they see and doubt what they think.

Of course, existential humor compels me to remind myself that all this is what I think.

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