Friday, July 30, 2010

Joel Osteen...I am your father.

Meet Russell Conwell, a Baptist minister and the founder of Temple University.  Conwell served in the Civil War before becoming a lawyer then pastor of a church in Philadelphia.  In the late 19th century, he was the "self-appointed spokesman for the Gospel of Success" (Howard P. Chudacoff, Review in American History 10.4).  His main shtick was a sermon/speech called Your Best Life Now  "Acres of Diamonds" which he gave on around 6,000 occasions.  The main point of Conwell's message was that being rich was a good thing, and that everyone had an opportunity to get rich if they would only apply themselves, work hard, and pull themselves up by the bootstrap.  Here is an excerpt from his famous speech to give you a taste of Conwell's philosophy:
Social Progress and Religious Faith
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I say that you ought to get rich, and it is our duty to get rich. How many of my pious brethren say to me, “Do you, a Christian minister, spend your time going up and down the country advising young people to get rich, to get money?” “Yes, of course I do.” They say, “Isn’t that awful! Why don’t you preach the gospel instead of preaching about man’s making money?” “Because to make money honestly is to preach the gospel.” That is the reason. The men who get rich may be the most honest men you find in the community. “Oh,” but says some young man here to-night, “I have been told all my life that if a person has money he is very dishonest and dishonorable and mean and contemptible.”
My friend, that is the reason why you have none, because you have that idea of people. The foundation of your faith is altogether false. Let me say here clearly, and say it briefly, though subject to discussion which I have not time for here, ninety-eight out of one hundred of the rich men of America are honest men.  That is why they are rich."

The more things change...