03 August 2007

Open Letter to the People Who Are Concerned About the Eternal Well Being of My Soul

Dear People Who Are Concerned About the Eternal Well Being of My Soul*,

Thank you so much for the generous efforts you have been making lately, I feel truly blessed to have you in my life. So often I have wondered whether others will be saved due to the persistence of People Like You and worried that I would not be bugged frequently enough. But there is hope, I think it may only take six or seven hundred more of your mass produced letters or gimmicky newsletters stuck to my windshield, before one really gets through to me.

Before we reach that point (together, as I know we will) I have a few suggestions to make that might help you improve your outreach efforts. They are only suggestions and if you feel that I am overstepping, please feel free to disregard them. Just know that they come from the bottom of my heart, impure though it may be.

When I came out of my doctor's office this morning, there was nothing that could have pleased me more than your propaganda stuck to my windshield as I pulled out of the parking lot on my way to pick up some life saving antibiotics. But perhaps sticking things to people's windshields in doctor's office parking lots is not the optimum way to reach those of us who have yet to see the light that is Jesus. In my distracted state, I thought perhaps I had received a parking ticket or inadvertently discovered a new species of dead bug.

Your next mistake was disguising your religious flier to look like an innocent list of clever riddles "for the thinking mind." I read through the first five riddles before I realized that number six was ten times as long as the others and all about saving my soul! Next time? Maybe just get right to the point. The riddles weren't that good.

Also telling me that God sees me as a "lying, thieving, blasphemous, adulterer-at-heart," doesn't really make me want to read on—that and the fact that you wrote this on a faux-million-dollar-bill, cute, but not so effective. I'm not really sure what you're going for here unless the 1,000,000 and the print of President Cleveland were intended to keep me from throwing the whole thing in the trash the minute I pried it out from under my wiper.

Maybe it all comes down to Cleverly Disguising God's Work As Other Things, because when I got home and found a letter addressed to "Resident - To A Friend" with the return address "God's Holy Spirit instructed us to loan you this to start turning things around for you. So, here it is," of course I hoped it was money and knew that it was not. But don't worry, I opened it anyway.

The really exciting part was receiving what I thought was a piece of cheap pink stationary from your "56-year-old Church" but was in fact an "anointed prayer faith Bible handkerchief." Wow. Thank you so much. I really am not sure what to say except: what? Don't you do any kind of market research before you send these things to your "friends?"

I'm sorry, I'm trying to help you, really I am.

I get that you want to make your mass market mailings stand out from all of the others, but just work with me for a minute here. A paper handkerchief might give me a good laugh, but do you really think that I am going to put it in my Bible and leave it under my bed tonight? Okay, maybe I will, but don't you see? It will only be to prove you wrong.

Many people see me as an optimist, but somehow I am just not able to bring myself to believe that if I follow your very specific instructions and write my name and my "most pressing problem" on the pink paper handkerchief, and then put that handkerchief inside a Bible in the Book of Acts, Chapter 19, Verses 11 and 12, and leave the Bible under my side of my bed tonight, and then mail you the handkerchief tomorrow morning in the postage paid envelope you so thoughtfully provided, that "something good is coming to [my] door."

It is entirely possible that my lack of faith in mass mailings is somehow directly connected to my lack of faith in God, but I don't really think so. In fact, until I received your letter tonight I had honestly not given the connection much thought, so thank you, for bringing it to my attention. Oh, and by the way, I'm glad that it worked for you, I'm sure that your parents are much happier now that your mother was able to use the handkerchief to end your father's bad drinking habit, congrats.

I would also like to congratulate you on appearing so flexible in the letter. I do happen to own a Bible, but it is good to know that if I did not, God would see and understand, and I am gratified to know that He will understand why I cannot sleep over the handkerchief tonight as well.

One other note on the handkerchief appeal (if I may call it that), I think it may be a mistake to include a multiple choice form for people to return with their handkerchiefs explaining the areas of their lives that need prayer and/or God's divine help. I have to admit that "A New Car" and "Pray for God to bless me with this amount of money: $__________" are pretty hard to resist, but is this really the message you are going for here? It's really great that your 56-year-old Church wants to pray for people, but should your efforts really be focused on this kind of materialism? Perhaps your 56-year-old Church should pray for some spiritual guidance on this matter.

I realize this is a lot for you to handle right now, so if it is too much, feel free to go ahead and sleep on it. Or if you can't right now, don't worry. God sees.

Yours in faith,

The Woman Whose Soul So Obviously Needs Your Help That You Must Attempt To Reach Her Multiple Times A Day

* I wrote this a couple of months ago, but didn't post it then for several reasons. I am posting it now because it is as good a time as any, and because you just never know when you yourself might the proud new owner of your very own prayer faith Bible handkerchief.

Additional disclaimer: While I myself do not believe in God in any traditional sense, I have only the utmost respect for the faith of others. It is the bizarre commercial and impersonal nature of this appeal that I find ironic and, frankly, hilarious.


Queen Heather said...

Oh this is great!

Calling me a lying, stealing, whoring person is a sure fire way to win me over too. snort.

And I beck that "something good coming to your door" would have been a member from that church knocking on your door.

it's me, Val said...

Nell, I just cannot believe it, yet I can, how these people behave and show their "Christianity". I, personally, think they are way way way out there and they make people like me, look bad. So bad, probably. I honestly can say that I think God looks down on people doing this . . . accusing people of being one way or another, because while we all know none of us are perfect, they don't have to be so blatant about it, because, well, again it just makes people like me, look bad. I do believe in God, and I don't judge because I leave that up to Him, but man, I can't help but look down on these people!

(Interesting post . . . I enjoyed it . . . your writing is wonderful.)

Cathy said...

This is absolutely hilarious!

My great-aunts used to send me "The Key to Your Salvation" tracts in birthday and Christmas cards.

When I was freaking 5 years old.

Because, you know, our family was so heathen.

Annie said...

Are you a marked woman?! I have never in my many (many) years of life received such messages on the windshield of my car. What silliness! What sadness in a way. You are a kickass writer, girl!!

andi said...

It's official - with this post you have just solidified my love for you! This was the best thing I read all day. Funny timing too, as I just got an angry e-mail from a friend who was pissed off that one of her co-workers keeps sending her religious propaganda via e-mail even though she has repeatedly said she's not interested.

I liked your disclaimers too. Very nicely done, Nell.

Blue Momma said...

I have to admit the for the 2 1/2 years I lived in Western Mass I wasn't once accosted by a religious solicitor (that's really what they are, right?)

Then I moved back to Alabama.

They are at my door. In my mailbox. On every radio channel. In my house (mother, grandmother, sister).

Best of all, I go to pick up my fertility meds and get a new testament in the bag with my drugs.

Leave me alone!!! I know where you are - on every corner.

Jamie said...

The mass marketing of faith ineffective? Imagine that? I personally toss the "wishful thinking hankies" because I don't remember God being a genie in a lamp. Funny post.

Jen T said...

Andy and I got a Bible handkerchief, too.

We threw it away and wished we had a Bible to go in the trash with it.