Posted by: ritagone | May 11, 2016

A Knee-Jerk Reaction & A Lesson Learned

Just finished readinglesson-learned a fascinating book called “Bad Religion,” by Ross Douthat, with the sub-title “How We Became a Nation of Heretics.” So if the title doesn’t nab you, surely the sub-title will! It did me!

One of the more interesting chapters had to do with the “Name it and Claim It” people, and where their particular heresy came from and developed around the world but mainly in the U.S. You know this group even if you don’t recognize them by the “name it and claim it” title: they are the preachers who believe – and shout to the rooftops – that Jesus wants to give you everything you want, every luxurious home, fine car, wealth untold, and if you don’t have those accoutrements, you’re just not asking for them properly. Especially among televangelists they are legion.

He quotes Michael Novak in “Business as a Calling,” who gives snapshots of well-off Christians who “integrated their faith with the pursuit of wealth.” Here’s what Novak had to say about one of these men:

“(The) chairman and chief executive of the largest natural gas company in the United States…some time ago announced publicly his company’s vision: ‘To become…the most innovating and reliable provider of clean energy worldwide.’ His greatest inward satisfaction, however, has a somewhat different focus.

‘In my own case,’ (he) confided, ‘I grew up the son of a Baptist minister. From this background, I was fully exposed to not only legal behavior but moral and ethical behavior and what that means from the standpoint of leading organizations and people. I was, and am, a strong believer that one of the most satisfying things in life is to create a highly moral and ethical environment in which every individual is allowed and encouraged to realize their God-given potential.’”

The national gas company in question was Enron; its Christian chairman was Kenneth Lay.”


Makes you shudder, doesn’t it, to read this, especially when you know that Ken Lay had been convicted of conspiracy and securities and wire fraud, bank fraud, making false statements to banks. He became the poster boy for fraud and criminal behavior, yet he claimed to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Because he died of a massive coronary in 2006 at the age of 64, before he could serve what would have been a decades-long prison sentence, his conviction was vacated.

But his claim to be a strong believer in Jesus Christ certainly leaves one with a bad feeling, doesn’t it?

My knee-jerk reaction? Sometimes you wish people like this wouldn’t tell the world that they are followers of Jesus.

Then again, on closer contemplation: Sometimes I wonder if Jesus cringes when I tell people that I follow Him. This all falls under taking the log out of my own eye before attempting to criticize the small plank that is in someone else’s eye. Okay, even if it is bigger than a plank, as in Kenneth Lay’s case, it’s not my problem to take care of it. It’s my problem to be concerned with what is in my own eye.

We all have a little – or sometimes a lot – of Kenneth Lay in us. Or Judas. Or Peter when he swore up and down to Jesus’ face that he wouldn’t deny Him…then turned around and denied Him three times.

When I look at the Kenneth Lays of the world and roll my eyes and shake my head with utter disgust, Lord, stop me in my tracks and make me recognize that this is exactly what You meant when You said to get the log out of my eye. Boy, you’d think a log would be pretty recognizable, wouldn’t you? But I sure do miss it quite often. More often than I’d like to admit.

It doesn’t exonerate the Ken Lays, for sure, but maybe I’d be better off concentrating on the Rita Warren I see in the mirror every morning instead.



  1. Boy, what a great blog and so true. You are able to put thoughts into words with perfection.

    Sent from my iPhone


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