April 14, 2003

Apr 14 2003

Heh. How to be a social commentator.

E-Mails

Wow. This morning, I got an e-mail with the subject “GOD Has Sent YOU A Message” with the following contents:

Look to GOD in this time!!!!
Not happy with your life?
Missing a loved one?
Not feeling well?
Depressed?
Lost hope?

GOD Can Handle It

Change Your Life Now!! Don't Wait

Click Here

Non- profit

You can safely click on the link; it goes to a religious website, from a guy who promises to pray for you. Just MSN Message him at themessenger@msn.com. The site’s apparently genuine; there’s one discreet page that offers USD $4 bottles of holy water (the order button has the hilarious text “Continue to Secure Love Donation form”…sounds like Japanglish), but otherwise the site never asks for money. It just promises that God will be there for you and that this guy who calls himself “GOD’s Messenger” can help you. It’s a shame that “GOD’s Messenger” never names himself (I assume he’s male), as it makes me wonder what he has to hide. He apparently performs a “Sunday service” by typing out a sermon in a text chat session on MSN Messenger Sunday mornings.

Reading the site, there’s some questionable theology:

GOD Will be with you in time of trouble. But you must prepare yourself to receive his Grace. It will take some effort on your part. are you willing?

Hmm. Ephesians 2:8–9 reads, “For by grace you have been saved, through faith. And that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, so that no man may boast [of his works].” So, how does that reconcile with effort required to receive grace?

It can make sense, actually; humans uneasily accept grace. It does take some effort to change one’s views. But the phrasing suggests a works-oriented view of salvation, that you have to work before God will accept you. No, God’s already done the work. See the verse above and note the past tense.

From the chat log of the most recent Sunday sermon, he quotes Psalm 91:1, “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty,” then he writes:

What are the secret places it speaks about?

This is the retaliationship which each and everyone of Gods children have with him. only you and he know this relationship that makes it a secret.

Huh? Nobody knows about your relationship with God? You don’t tell anyone? You keep it a secret? Paul wrote strong words against that. You should be telling anyone who wants to hear about your relationship with God. There’s nothing secret about it.

The word that the King James translates as “secret place” others translate as “shelter.” The rest of the Psalm speaks of being under terrible physical attack, and God sheltering you like a chick under the protecting wings of a great, strong eagle. The verse isn’t about being secretive; it’s about being protected.

“GOD’s Messenger” seems to prefer the King James Version, which frankly is not the best translation to use with the non-religious, especially when you’re broadcasting a message like that. Some people respond well to the King James because it’s familiar, but when you have no idea who you’re reaching, a more modern translation is going to be a lot easier for the average person to grasp. This suggests that he prefers the King James for a reason other than the best comprehension of his readers, which is weird for an evangelist.

The thing also feels clannish. Check out the end of the sermon; does it sound like a super-charismatic religious leader to you?

God has put Messengers here to guide you through this process. To help you to know
his plan for you

But you have to do your part Join this ministry Become active help others, Sow seed for later harvest Tithe
this is what God wants from you and if you do these things. You will
be blessed Do it not go to our membership area and fill out the membership form take your first step

in the right direction Go now. Members Go forth spread the word God is alive and well. He Loves them and wants them to come home.

God Bless you All

GOD’s Messenger

The line between good-natured zealous evangelism and building up a cult of personality is pretty thin, and I think “GOD’s Messenger” crosses it.

Then I received an e-mail from Shonen Jump, the manga magazine. I initially rolled my eyes at the prospect of getting monthly e-mails about the magazine, but after reading a few, now I look forward to them. An example:

Hey! We just wanted to let you know—you're not like the other readers. You're special to us, and we wanted give you the inside scoop about Issue 6. Don't get us wrong, we love all our readers—but you've distinguished yourself through your actions.

In other words, please stop picking your nose.

...

1. Issue 6 -- Once a year, Issue 6 comes out of its hole. If it sees its shadow, then you'll enjoy its contents. If it doesn't see its shadow, then you'll enjoy its contents even more. Content yourself with this stuff:

--YuYu cover. Everyone's favorite resurrected delinquent makes his first FEATURED appearance on the cover of SHONEN JUMP.
--Yu-Gi-Oh! Cards! All the Ultra Rare and Super Rare cards from the Legacy of Darkness booster pack! You don't GET them--you just get to SEE them.
--Paper dolls! Really weird, angry paper dolls.
--Clowns versus Pirates. Who would win?
--More Egyptian stuff.

Whoever’s writing this stuff deserves a fat paycheck.

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