Friday, 21 September 2012

Prosperity gospel and Suffering

It is human to want joy, contentment, fulfilment and all things good, without putting in the effort.  I have never heard any sane human being say 'Suffering is good'.  Here lies the appeal of the prosperity gospel.

The prosperity gospel preaches that God wants prosperity and health for every one of us.  If one does enough good deeds, including give money to the preachers, then one will have great fortune.  I raise a skeptical eyebrow to that.  Sounds like an elaborate con job to prey on human vulnerability.

There is a Chinese saying that birth, aging, illness and death are part of being human.  It is not too clear to me whether that saying came from Buddhist or Taoist philosophy.  The saying then goes on to add that how one responds to those 4 afflictions is a personal choice, which dovetails with the idea of free will in the Christian tradition.

One book that dived deeply into the idea of human suffering and its value is Henri Nouwen's "Adam" about the author's encounter with a disabled and eventually bedridden man.  I had a similar encounter with my maternal grandfather while he lay silent in the nursing home during the last 3 years of his life.  I could tell him anything from the depths of my 20-year-old anguish, and then be comforted by his mere presence.  I missed his loving meals then when I was 20, and I miss his presence now. 

Ah.  Such a sombre post for a Friday.

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