The Hammer of God

The Source

Time Magazine  September 18, 2006  Page 53
“Does God want you to be rich?” 
By David Van Biema and Jeff Chu

The Setup

Interviewing prosperity preacher, Joel Osteen, the authors have already established Osteen’s plush office as “a zone of overstuffed sofas and imposing oak bookcases.”  At the end of a long explanation, Osteen says, “But I don’t think I’d say God wants us to be rich. It’s all relative, isn’t it?”  At that moment, and without breaking the paragraph, the authors helicopter in this Wordus Ex Machina:

Hammer Words

The room’s warm lamplight reflects softly off his crocodile shoes.

Crushing Force

This sentence is the finger of God damning Osteen with – and you must wait until the very end of the sentence – his own shoes – not naked and washed by his savior, but clothed in the rare skin of a primitive, sacrificed beast. His shoes reflect insincerity and all the associations of crocodile tears.  The rich light is sweet, but sticky, too. 

The meter is particularly gratifying.  This is poetry leaping off a page of Time magazine. I had to stop and read it out loud several times.  I count nine beats in fifteen syllables.  It’s just so heavy:  bam, bam, bam.  “I think we killed Osteen,” the authors must have said to themselves.

By the way, this is a blog about words, not religion, though it seems to me that “Give us this day our daily bread” says more about God’s interest in money that any other Biblical passage. For Christians, the words of Christ advising how to pray for worldly needs should carry some weight. He does not say,”Store up wealth for retirement,” but, “Ask for what you need today.”

But back to Hammer Words…  Whether you agree or disagree with Van Biema and Chu, you have to appreciate their device – not unlike the 1000 pound trapezoidal weights that materialize above Wiley Coyote. 

Published in: on September 25, 2006 at 2:35 am  Leave a Comment  

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