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Compaq showpiece turns into giant God conduit

Mark of Hurd?

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HP could whack up to 25,000 workers any minute now - an unsettling premise for employees the world over. The threat of layoffs, however, could prove a tad less disconcerting to some old Compaq hands living in Houston thanks to the grand opening of a massive new church.

The $95m Lakewood Church Central Campus has appeared on the spot of a former Compaq advertisement - the Compaq Center known to millions in Houston as the onetime home of the Rockets basketball team. The Rockets have since moved to the Toyota Center and now the 30,000 strong Lakewood congregation is ready to move into its new home. Witness the grandeur of the center here.

For those of you who have never been to Texas, here's an idea of how the Lord works in this fine state. The new House of God has three stories, 16,000 seats, two waterfalls, a coffee shop, myriad wireless hotspots, 32 video game kiosks, a nursery, a bookstore and a vault to hold donations. The building will play host to thousands of in-person visitors every Sunday and millions of TV viewers who turn on and tune in to see pastor Joel Osteen.

You've probably caught Osteen's picture while traveling past an airport bookstore. He's the cheesy, toothy guy with porn-star hair and a "happy to be here" grin fronting his book "Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential." Osteen has sold 3m copies of the tome, which lets him give up a portion of a $200,000 salary. Whatever Osteen makes pales in comparison to the $55m brought in last year by Lakewood.

What's the moral of the story?

Well, if you are one of the unfortunates clubbed by the multi-millionaire Hurd, then you might find some solace at the old Compaq Center. That Osteen dishes out a fine sermon full of compassion and caring. And, if things get really tough, you can probably hit him up for a buck or two.

Next stop? The HP Pavilion - better known as the Fi Arena or the Hurd Hole.

Be sure to have a dig around the opulent Lakewood's web site. And remember,

"Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor thy father and thy mother." And he said, "All these have I kept from my youth up." Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, "Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me." [Luke 18:20-2 ] ®

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