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Did following the "prosperity gospel" bring JRE down?

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MonteLukast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-26-09 01:48 PM
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Did following the "prosperity gospel" bring JRE down?
FrenchieCat made an excellent point on this thread that's being overlooked in all the talk about l'affaire... his work for a hedge fund, and how bad that would have looked to his populist cred. You all remember what he said... it was "to learn about poverty", though so many laugh at that now and I can't think of an unlikelier place to learn about poverty.

I don't know what corporate culture was at work at his hedge fund. It may indeed have been a "compassionate" one that was less greedy and predatory. But there's no denying that prior to the recession, working at a hedge fund was THE most lucrative line of work in America.

JRE already was fabulously wealthy, well able to finance his campaign. He already lived a life of incredible abundance. Why did he feel the need to accumulate even more?

I think that at that time, he might have been in thrall to a prosperity gospel.

It didn't necessarily have to be religious, even though the Southern Baptist church of his upbringing was also Joel Osteen's. It has a secular side in such philosophies as the New Thought Movement and the Law of Attraction. But whether more religious or secular, whether more "conservative" or more "liberal", the prosperity gospel's effect is the same: to make a person justify greater personal wealth accumulations because they're spoken the right words or thought the right thoughts.

It's no coincidence that The Secret was most popular when hedge funds and mortgage manipulators were enjoying their biggest returns ever. It's also no coincidence that sales of The Secret are flat now, after the giants' collapse.

It might also be no coincidence that JRE made the worst decision of his life at about the same time.

Yes, I believe that prosperity-gospel thinking played a role in his more notable reckless behavior as well. It's well known to cause feelings of entitlement and dangerous invincibility.
Part of the reason he believed he could avoid the worst possible fate, may have been because he thought that he was exercising enough faith and positive thinking that the "law of attraction" would protect him.

I have said time and again that he acted out-of-character. With who he was as a lawyer, with who he was as a person, indeed with who we was, very likely, his entire life. Elizabeth described him in the Oprah magazine interview (not TV) as old-fashioned. As a lawyer, he was exhaustive and deliberate. Recklessness and devil-may-care-ness do not seem to have been his usual traits.

But following a prosperity gospel can certainly make you act like that. Following a prosperity gospel can certainly make you forget the abundance you already have.

This could have come from RH's influence-- remember, she was a devotee of New Thought and Eckhart Tolle-- but it could also have come from JRE on his own, searching for solace from Elizabeth's cancer and probably picking up the most popular book in America and thinking, hmmm, maybe this isn't as hokey as I thought. Maybe there's really something to this.

From what I said before about RH having sociopathic tendencies, and from the enormous herd mentality-- not to mention the genuine rush of bliss!-- at work in both The Secret and prosperity gospels in general, JRE would have faced a one-two psychological punch that he was unprepared for, on top of his fears for his wife's life.
The marriage therapist John Gottman frequently makes references to "flooding", a kind of psychological hijacking that happens when you're in emotional conflict; maintaining that nobody can make a good, thoughtful decision when they're "flooded". Irrational and out-of-character decisions and behaviors are a pretty good clue that the person has been emotionally hijacked.

While I'm not sure RH was directly responsible for turning him on to a prosperity gospel, she could only have fanned the flames. I can definitely picture her in a moment alone with JRE, declaring that Elizabeth brought her cancer on herself through negative thinking. So that, of course, she, the very fount of positivity, can brighten his life and make it healthier and wealthier. :puke:

One of the biggest criticisms of The Secret and other "law of attraction" books has been for their blame-the-victim cast. Another has been the philosophy's inducement of narcissism and materialism.

But it's the prosperity gospel's promise that we will be happy that is the real draw. A kind of emotional wealth, if you will:

The real prosperity gospel isnt the overt appeal to wealth. It is the more subtle appeal to God guaranteeing that we are going to be happy, and the accompanying pressure to be happy in ways that are acceptable and recognizable to the community of Christians we belong to.

... {It} is revealed not in the promises of a yacht or a large home, but in the unspoken approval of a level of prosperity that allows us to live the Christian life on our own terms. It is the ratification of our private, sometimes entirely secret, arrangements with God of what his goodness means. ... {It} says that all of us ministry types have an inside track on stability, happiness and being a good witness all the time.

Who doesn't want happiness and emotional stability? Indeed, our society and in particular our workplaces demand and enforce it.

Enforced, coercive happiness sounds like an oxymoron, but that's what goes on all the time in the prosperity gospel. With a lot more carrots than sticks, indeed with the promise of the kind of total abundance and bliss-- emotional, material, familial, social, spiritual-- we can only dream of.
With the promise of emotional balance and sound judgment that we make our goal. And that we will attain, if only we follow Joel Osteen's words, or The Secret's, or Eckhart Tolle's, or whatever Word of Faith theology comes our way.

And hell, we'll lap up anything that promises to make us healthier... because after all, we can't afford health insurance and don't trust our on-the-take medical institutions.

JRE once said that prior to his son's death, he believed that he could do anything and, essentially, avoid the worst of life just by working hard and making smart decisions. (So you can see where he was already susceptible to prosperity-gospel thinking.) After Wade died, of course, he was awakened to life sometimes being out of your control, in spite of how good an actor you've been or what precautions you take.

It's a shame he didn't reach deep inside himself and remember his own words, before he made the worst decision of his life.
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benny05 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-27-09 01:47 PM
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1. Interesting argument
and one I hadn't considered.

I think the hedge fund thing was not only to make a little cash, but I think JRE really did not understand the Wall Street world since he generally represented Main Street. It gave him an insider's look, plus he got to meet with other heads of state concerning world trade and investments. One of those folks was Angela Merkel of Germany.

The other thing, is that I think he had to see the greediness himself and maybe that's what he meant by the poverty stance. Granted, I don't know if it influenced him or not in terms of his misbehavior; it is possible. But what I do know is that Fortress began to do badly after he left the firm. They recently changed CEOs.

I'd like to think he was trying to understand microfinancing.

Lastly, Treasury Secretaries, whether we like it or not, often come from WS. But I sure as heck don't believe he would have picked Geithner nor Summers. I think it may have been someone like Leo Hindery.

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