Monday, March 21, 2005

Holy Spam

I received an email forward the other day. To be honest (my apologies to those of you who spam) I usually delete these without reading them. Being that this particular mail came from someone unknown to me and was sent to all the parents at my boys' school, I skimmed it over. Here it is, mostly in entirety:
Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response (regarding the attacks on Sept. 11) . She said:
"I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we've been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?"

In light of recent events...terrorists attack, school shootings, etc. I think it started when Madeleine Murray O'Hare (she was murdered, her body found recently) complained she didn't want prayer in our schools, and we said OK.

Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school... the Bible says
thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as
yourself. And we said OK.

Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn't spank our children when they misbehave
because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their
self-esteem (Dr.. Spock's son committed suicide). We said an expert should
know what he's talking about. And we said OK.

Now we're asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don't know right from wrong, and why it doesn't bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves.

Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world
is going to hell. Funny how you can send 'jokes' through e-mail and they spread like wildfire
but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing.
Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace.
I'm not laughing, are you?
Funny how when you forward this message, you will not send it to many on your address list because you're not sure what they believe, or what they will think of you for sending it. Funny how we can be more worried about what other people think of us than what God thinks of us.
This enraged me. The more I thought about the ludicrous nature of the email the more angry I became. So instead of hitting "reply to all" and embarrassing the sender with angry ranting, I'm using my blog to vent some steam (what else, after all, is it for?).

I don't know what Anne Graham meant by her comment, but here's what I think:

Tragedy on the scale of the September 11 attacks or the recent Tsunami disaster is disconcerting for many reasons. All is not well with God's world and we naturally want someone or something to blame. Could these tragedies be Divine punishment for a people who
refuse to love Him? Do they signify the lifting of a protective hand (assuming it was there in the first place) from the United States of America? I'm sure I don't know. But, in the absence of proof, why would I want to believe or even suggest such an idea?

Could tragedy be the outcome of a broken world filled with nature gone awry, evil ideas and hateful passions? Certainly, it is. That is all we know. Speculating about the mind of God is not only fruitless, it gives the speculator a ticket to ride the "Smugness Express", standing around pointing fingers instead of digging them into to dirt.

This email purports to take the blame for the state of the world upon "ourselves" (ie. "we said ok"), but the tone is the angry, frightened one of judgementalism; not the wise, saddened one of compassion.

Internet spam almost always comes with an agenda tag, hurling insults and half-truths (or outright lies) at the perceived enemy, whatever group or individual that may be. In this case it's hard to tell who's the enemy (secularists? Christians? God?) but we know it isn't Anne Graham, and it doesn't appear to be the terrorists, and I'm guessing it isn't the author.

The first enemy identified is Madeleine Murray O'Hare, who was apparently murdered for taking prayer out of public schools (does the author realize who this implicates?).

Then "someone" took the Bible out of schools, which apparently led directly to moral decay, because nowhere outside the Bible are we taught that murder or theft are wrong or that loving others is important (the Israelites must have been running around stabbing eachother for stylish sandals until God wrote in stone "Do not kill" and "Do not steal").

Next we get to blame Dr. Spock, who dared to suggest that fathers stop dragging their sons out to the woodshed and that we should hug our children. I smelled something fishy here and found this dispelling the myth of Dr. Spock's son's suicide. In addition to this juicy tidbit being false, the attitude behind the telling of it is an insensitive, almost cruel gloating over a sobering and horrible thing, and strikes me as antithetical to Christian charity. Not to mention the fact that it uses faulty logic; a good man's son may despair of life for reasons which have nothing to do with the man or his parenting philosophy.

We get the invitation to blame ourselves somewhere in there, but by this time we are so angry at the Atheists and Liberals that we're ready to take them out to the woodshed. And to top it all off like a cherry on an ice cream sundae, the author slaps on some guilt, for good measure. "If you don't pass this on then you're as bad as they are."

I'm not sure an Atheist could compose email spam more contrary to the spirit of Christianity. As a Christian myself, I object to this representation of me. I object to this representation of Christ. I'm still angry. And I think I should be.


laura said...

Yeah, those religious chain emails make me angry, too. I think I recieved one just like that not long after the 9/11 attacks. It's a very ignorant approach coming from Christians(?)-if that's what they want to call themselves. I'm bothered by the way they are being so self-righteous. I remember hearing about Dr. Spocks son; anybody with half a brain cell knows that there is absoutely nothing you can do to avoid someone from wanting to take their own life. It's already been planned out. And they don't care if their dad is Buddha on the effing mountain top.
I guess I'm going off in uncharted territory with the whole suicide thing, but it just really hits too close to home for me.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I just received this exact email from a friend who sent it to a number of people. The "wake up call"... I got very annoyed.
I'm not an atheist, but am getting very annoyed that I should be on the receiving end of emails like this which are just full religious propaganda. And yes, just to make their point, they use inaccurate examples...Dr. Benjamin Spock's son did not commit suicide. And why are they linking Madeleine's death to "religion"? Come on, people... I wish people would check things out or be a little more skeptical before forwarding anything that comes their way. I'm tired of receiving emails that say "send this to 5 people and God will bless you or angel will guide you or good things will happen"... Believing in God is something very personal and this should not be "advertised"... what is it? A new product to launch? That kind of attitude from "religious" people just disappoints me. I'm keeping my religious beliefs to myself and for my family. If my next door neighbor wants to believe, good! If he doesn't, well that's just fine! As long as he is a human being who respects others, I'm okay with whatever he chooses to believe...or not.

Rachael King said...

Anonymous: Thanks for the comment. I don't understand why someone would forward an email like this, but I think it is (usually) well-intentioned, which is something more difficult to say of the email's unknown author. Whenever appropriate, I try to point out(lovingly, of course)the mean-spiritedness or inaccuracy of the email to the friend or family member who forwarded it me. In most cases I've found that, while people may feel a little bad about being confronted, they are even less happy to look the fool in front of their entire mailing list and so are usually grateful for the correction. I don't think email is a venue that causes many people to stop and think before clicking.