Flunking Sainthood

Now Osteen has even more to smile about.

Today on Twitter a notice flashed by about a Joel Osteen reality show, and I thought it was a joke. It’s actually not. Or if it is, it’s not intended to be.

Entertainment Weekly reports that Osteen, who pastors a 45,000-member megachurch in Texas, is teaming up with reality television producer Mark Burnett (Survivor, The Apprentice) for a new series about the televangelist’s life.

Hoo boy howdy.

In the worst-case scenario, this will be another celebrity navel-gazing exercise where viewers see some of the world’s richest people acting selfishly. (Queue up here for the Kardashians, Paris Hilton’s The Simple Life, and anything starring Tori Spelling.) And since Osteen is famous for teaching people that God wants them to be rich, my cynical side certainly expects a fair share of fine homes, fast cars, and celebrity guests. But the Houston Chronicle reports a rumor that Osteen’s show will have more of a focus on charity:

TMZ’s tipsters say the Osteen/Burnett project will feature ordinary people taking time off to join Osteen on mission projects to “start fixing things” around the United States.

It sounds like the latest in do-gooder reality programming, a genre that includes Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Undercover Boss, Secret Millionaire, Three Wishes, and whatever my mom is watching on Oprah’s network.

I’m trying to keep an open mind that this is true, and the show won’t be shallow celebrity worship masquerading as Christianity. But I am failing.

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