I was channel surfing about a year ago when I happened to catch a glimpse of Joel Osteen on one of the local religious stations.
The first time I saw him I just zipped by the channel without giving it much thought. Just another one of those tele-evangelists pounding their view into us no good sinners. Nothing like a nice cheerful pick-me-up after a hard day of loafing about.
He reminded me a little of the fake faith healer Peter Popoff who years ago was deposed by magician James "The Amazing" Randi who used about $20,000 worth of electronic scanning equipment to catch Peter Popoff in the act of receiving "secret" information through a hidden earpiece. I thought that maybe Joel was Peter's son.
I remember making a remark about him to a co-worker. "Hey did you see there's another evangelist on TV? Some skinny guy with a southern accent. Just what we need."
From time to time I would see Joel as I clicked through the stations. I'd hear a few snippets of Jesus-this and Praise-God-that. Ho-hum. Then one day when I was clicking past the station I happened to hear the audience laughing. So I stayed on the station a little longer and heard Joel telling a couple of jokes. Not great jokes, mind you. Still, I was a little surprised since most of the TV evangelists seem to be angry and want to shout their views down your throat.
So I kind of hung around the station and found that Joel was pretty easy listening, even to a Secular like myself. He seemed to be more of a you-can-do-it sort of speaker, with a little bit of Scripture thrown in here and there. Not enough to make me roll my eyes -- just enough bible-talk to qualify him as an evangelist, I guess.
Overall I really enjoy his style of speaking -- very positive and uplifting without the fire and brimstone.