“Joel Osteen is defending the decision not to open his Houston megachurch as a shelter during the initial flooding from Harvey in the face of withering criticism on social media.” — New York Times, 8/30/17
There was once a man named Joel, who was much beloved
And (by his own admission) supremely pious as well.
And one day, God looked upon the Earth, and He said unto Joel
“Joel, you are my holiest of disciples and I require your assistance.”
“In the coming days, there shall be a storm.
A fearful storm. A storm so vile and wretched,
That it shall be difficult to even write jokes about it.
(And, indeed, when people do tell jokes about the storm
They shall be obligated to mention the many charities you should donate to
As if that makes their jokes any less opportunistic).”
The Lord paused, “I have gotten off the subject. What was I saying?”
“Oh right… Joel, you have oft claimed that you are my holiest of disciples.
And in the face of this fearful calamity, I require your assistance—”
But then, just as the Lord was about to tell Joel what to do,
Joel, wise and dauntless beyond mere years, interrupted Him
And Joel spake thusly, “O Lord, I know what you are about to say!
You wish for me to take my wealth and build an Ark
A haven large enough to shield, hypothetically-speaking, over 16,000 people
From the ravages of your neverending storm…”
And the supreme Lord, mighty and eternal, reveled
At the sublime wisdom of His holiest of disciples.
And then Joel continued: “Also, I should make it so that
No one will be able to get onto the Ark except for me!”
And then there was a pause.
A long pause.
And then God, disheartened (and not the least bit confused)
Forced Himself to say “… no?
Why would I force you to build such a massive Ark Joel,
Unless it was for the betterment of mankind, and not—”
Joel, supreme in his awesome beneficence, exclaimed thusly:
“Yeah, no. I hear you, God. But here’s a counteroffer.”
God replied skeptically, “… I’m listening.”
“So, hear me out…” proclaimed Joel unto the heavens above,
“What if I take my wife and family onto the Ark—”
“I’m still listening,” replied God.
Joel continued: “And then I pray reaaaaally hard for everyone else.”
And there was another pause.
Longer this time.
“See, you’ve lost me again,” replied God.
And Joel replied, “No, I don’t think you understood what I meant, Lord.
If I tell everyone I’m praying for them,
Then I won’t have to do anyth…”
Joel had noticed that God was looking at him
And shaking His head.
“Come on, man… I’m God,” said God exasperatedly.
“Just keep the Ark open for a few weeks, alright?”
Yet at that, poor Joel (confusion sprouting from his heart
Like a sapling in a field of fertile peat), replied:
“But, Lord, what if the Ark gets a little wet on the inside?
What then, God? Shall I still let people onto the Ark, even if there is
A strictly cosmetic, easily-fixable level of flooding?”
And God, almighty and supreme, spake:
“Yeah, it’s a hurricane…”
And there was a third pause.
Joel tried to fill the silence with a cough this time.
But that only made the silence feel louder.
Finally, after much thinking Joel exclaimed:
“I got it! What if I let people into my ark…
But only after every other possible alternative is full?”
And God replied “That’s still a dick move.”
“What if I just block everyone who tries to call me out in a public forum?”
Joel blurted out.
“Woah, that’s waaaay worse!” replied God, taken aback.
“Sorry. I’m just stressed,” muttered Joel.
In His omnipotence, God could tell
That Joel wasn’t really all that sorry.
But God didn’t want to make a scene.
So He said nothing.
Finally, after the longest pause of all
Joel hesitantly suggested “OK… how about if I wait for five whole days
And then I let everyone onto the Ark? Does that work?”
And God said, “I mean, that’s still really bad optics.
Why don’t you just let people onto the Ark from the beginn—”
But Joel shrugged, for he had no response
That didn’t make him look like a self-serving, egotistical prick.
And thus, Joel gathered up his materials,
And constructed his massive Ark,
And waited for the rains to begin.
And, ultimately, Joel learned nothing from the whole experience.
For ways ways to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey, click here.