For those who have never heard of Joyce Meyer, a bit of an overview. Joyce Meyer, born in 1943, is a Christian evangelical preacher whose half-hour TV programs are telecast on the Trinity Network and on other channels across the cable/satellite cosmos. Like many successful evangelical endeavors today, Joyce Meyer Ministries has a global reach and that global extension is managed and made possible by a glitzy sales and marketing campaign. The Joyce Meyer you will see today is an accomplished and polished personality, a well-promoted and well-turned out professional woman who is now living a comfortable upper class lifestyle upon the proceeds of a successful worldwide ministry. And that, of course, draws harsh criticism from the anti-religious rakes who often equate evangelical preachers with snake oil salesmen and carnival hucksters. But unlike those jealous anti-Christian hypocrites who point an accusing finger at any evangelical who dares to earn a thriving livelihood from thumping their Bible, I say, hats off to her! Joyce Meyer has earned her daily crust and is entitled to the fruits of her labor. Quite frankly, I’d rather cheer for a traditional religious entrepreneur then all those New Age Feel-Good-Frauds who hawk their for-profit wares over publicly funded PBS and NPR airwaves—those contemporary charlatans of shallow pop psychology preaching a vapid and godless gobble-de-gook to all those fervent white upwardly mobile middle class faces yearning for their nihilistic nirvana. And these are the all-knowing elites who seek to sanction us!
But back to the topic at hand…I discovered Joyce Meyer about thirteen years ago while channel surfing one early morning. Certainly the sight of a woman preacher caught my curiosity as did the sound of her raucous and, at times, ranting voice. This Joyce Meyer of the 1990s was a very different model from the media manufactured doyenne of today. The Joyce Meyer I first saw in 1997 didn’t soft-peddle her message nor did she soft-soap her audience. Instead, this Joyce Meyer victoriously bore the scars of her hard won revelations and was hell bent on stuffing the truth of their wisdom into the minds and hearts of the mostly lower middle class women who made up her audience.
Although I am not a Christian, I was struck by this lady’s toughness, tenacity, and self-discipline. Here was a working class woman from Missouri who had slugged away at life’s poor odds and had successfully pulled herself up by the biblical bootstraps through her faith, hard work, and true grit. Her life struggle was her message. Her personal hardships and victories poured meaning and substance into those ancient words of biblical wisdom from which she quoted. This tough mid-west matron was a walking testament to the redeeming power of a living faith.
So what happened to that Missouri spitfire who preached with such feisty fearlessness? Where did all that energy and aggressiveness go? Perhaps her ministry moguls felt the Joyce Meyer image needed to be made more palatable to a national and international audience. Perhaps they thought to make her more appealing to a wider and more professional patron class, reaching beyond the lower middle class women who have always packed her seminars. Whatever the rationale, the global marketing of Joyce Meyer has resulted in the stripping away of the very characteristics and personal foibles that made her so appealing and so powerful. Gone, the Missouri mid-west twang; gone, the fierce and fiery rhetoric; gone, the zealous and uncompromising tenacity; gone, the unpolished, unpackaged housewife from Fenton, Missouri. All replaced by the perfected vocalizations, the modulated messages, the trendy face lifts, and the homogenized homilies seemingly divorced from the PR personality standing at the pulpit.
But all things and all people must change and move on. Time takes its toll on all of us and what impassioned us over a decade ago may not peak our emotions in the same way today. But the folks at Joyce Meyer Ministries have messed with the very product that spiked their success. Like the new and improved Coke, the new and improved Joyce Meyer has left many of her original fans feeling flat and disappointed. Her current teaching CDs lack the sting and grit of the old cassette tapes that she produced back in the 1980s and 1990s when she was preaching to small groups in local bible classes. These old cassette tapes are her most powerful work. Although her communication style could be harsh and haranguing at times, her messages came across powerful and effective. You laughed a lot as well as winced–many of the life stories that she shared were funny as well as sad.
No matter what your religious beliefs or lack there of, you will enjoy and benefit from the Joyce Meyer cassette tape collection. As an eclectic seeker of work-a-day wisdom from any quarter, I have never felt the need to be in total harmony with any philosopher, preacher, scholar, political pundit, or any other of the worldly wise in order to benefit from the nuggets of their knowledge. The wisdom, after all, is already buried in our brains; the source only nudges it to the surface.
Here are some of Joyce Meyer’s tape collections that I’ve listened to and learned from: Wilderness Mentality; Grace, Grace, and More Grace; Making Right Choices; Mind, Mouth, Moods, and Attitudes; How to Succeed at Being Yourself; The Spirit of Fear; Integrity; Thoughts and Words; and The Power of Hope. You can’t find these tapes at the Joyce Meyer website–they’re only selling her newer CDs, DVDs, and books. But if you look around the internet you can find them here and there. Amazon sells some of them through other vendors. Worth the time seeking them out. Not to say that her newer stuff isn’t worth listening to, but I just can’t get past the evangelical glitz.