Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Televangelist, Wife Coming to First Coast; the Osteens Will Be Signing Books and Hosting a Worship Event Friday

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Televangelist, Wife Coming to First Coast; the Osteens Will Be Signing Books and Hosting a Worship Event Friday

Article excerpt

Byline: JEFF BRUMLEY

Televangelist and all-around feel-good guy Joel Osteen said he's taken his share of criticism for being, well, so cheerful.

He's been slammed by some for promoting a prosperity gospel in sermons and best-selling books linking faith in God to economic success. But Osteen said that what really gets him is a culture that looks suspiciously on anyone who preaches optimism.

"It amuses me, I guess, when you are giving help and telling people how they can be better and they can be forgiven, and people can think there's something wrong with that," Osteen said.

But that's nothing new to Osteen, who leads a multimedia religious empire and pastors a mega-church in Houston. "Growing up," he said, "I used to get halfway criticized for smiling so much. But that's just me: I've always smiled."

Osteen and his wife, Victoria, will be on the First Coast on Friday for a book signing in Orange Park and to host a worship event at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. The Times-Union caught up with him by phone.

First things first: Are you rooting for Florida or Oklahoma in the national championship game?

(Laughs). You know, I hadn't thought about that. I guess I'll say Florida.

That's smart, because you'll be in Jacksonville on Friday.

(Laughs.)

Do you think the University of Texas was robbed, because they beat Oklahoma during the season?

I am always pulling for the Longhorns. A lot of people in my church are Longhorns. But I hadn't really thought about that.

Why do bad things happen to good people?

We don't live in a perfect world. God has given us all our own free choice and people sometimes make choices that are not good. The guys that attacked the World Trade Center did that of their own freewill. But there are things like cancer ... I don't know that I have a good answer, but I go back to the core that God is good and he gives us strength to make it through the difficult times.

You are known as somewhat of an eternal optimist. Is that fair? And is it holding up in these times of economic meltdown and war?

It really is (fair). I was this way before I was a pastor. Even growing up I was positive and hopeful. ... Difficult times build character and force us to do things we should have done a long time ago. ... I think there's good days ahead.

How much of a person's happiness is self-determined, and how much is it provided by God? …

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