Wednesday, May 9, 2007

On False Prophets

I'm a little peeved about this thing I got in the mail today, but I've decided to make it a learning experience.

First, you have to understand how consciously I've tried over the past two or three years to open my ears and mind to other people's perspectives, opinions and thoughts. It's been a very stimulating and challenging couple of years, and I hope I can continue with this kind of openness indefinitely. I've learned more from the people around me these past two or three years then I did in the previous ten. I'm not saying this to toot my horn -- I'm actually pretty sure that I'm still relatively "closed" compared to many of my friends; but I've made some progress.

Anyway, that was all a prelude. The real story is that I got an envelope in the mail that said, on its back side:

DEAR JESUS, WE PRAY THAT YOU WILL BLESS SOMEONE IN THIS HOME SPIRITUALLY, PHYSICALLY & FINANCIALLY. AND PLEASE DEAR LORD, BLESS THE ONE WHO'S HANDS OPEN THIS LETTER. MAKE GOOD CHANGES IN THIS ONE'S LIFE AND GIVE THEM THE DESIRES OF THEIR HEART. WE PRAY OVER AND BLESS THIS LETTER IN YOUR HOLY NAME. AMEN.

And all of the words in red were underlined. Which is a lot of emphasis. Inside I found a letter addressed to "Someone connected with This Address," and a text-heavy letter (more underlining) setting-up a kind of pyramid-scheme prayer-loop where all I had to do was check one or more of the following:
  1. I received this Church Prayer Rug you loaned me, and I used it as instructed in this letter of faith. Now, I am returning it to you for another to use.

  2. Yes, I do need the Lord's blessings upon my family and me! Pray for my family and me for...

  • My Soul

  • A Closer Walk With Jesus

  • My Health

  • A Family Member's Health

  • Confusion In My Home

  • My Children

  • To Stop A Bad Habit

  • A Better Job

  • A Home To Call My Own

  • A New Car

  • A Money Blessing

  • I Want to be Saved.

  • Pray for God to bless me with this amount of money: $_______

Needless to say, there was also a box allowing me to donate money. Of course, you're probably wondering -- Casey, they sent you a "rug" in an envelope? How'd that work? Yes, the rug was a folded-up picture of Jesus with his eyes closed. I was supposed to look at the eyes until they appeared to open & then I was to pray with both knees touching the prayer rug (the letter was especially particular on this "both knees" point). Then I had to send it all back to them within 24 hours -- including the prayer rug.

So -- why am I peeved? In short, I'm upset because I just cannot bring myself to believe that this is how God wants to work in the world. But!... remember, I'm really open lately. Open to the point of vulnerability and naivety, probably. So I even read this whole envelope. It's true what they say: we should beware of false prophets. But my whole philosophy for the past 24-months and more has been to make sure I don't overlook any true-prophets.

But this envelope is exactly the kind of stuff that I believe forces us to shut down -- we don't want to be susceptible and gullible; we don't like being "suckers." The consequence? Well, next week, when the real true prophet of 21st century life comes to my town and starts preaching, I'll probably just walk on by, dismissing him as "a huckster-con-man-lunatic" or something. All because some probably-well-intentioned church in Oklahoma couldn't keep their proverbs in their proverbial pants.

I don't want this to be a rip-festival. Evangelicals have their rhyme and reason. It's just that, if someone feels obliged to try to persuade me to use their language in discovering my own beliefs, I'd appreciate it if they could be a little more tactful. Really, a Prayer Mat? Here's a picture of the Prayer Mat. Print it off if you want... make sure both knees are touching it or else Jesus won't be listening.


So how has this been a learning experience? Well... I still tend to type a lot. And talk too much. I want to be more careful. I want to make sure that I don't present you with anything that might be as tasteless as a prayer-mat-in-the-mail. That's what the comments section is for, I suppose -- call me out if you ever feel untactfully evangelized.

Hurry! -- the time is near. Respond in the comments section below within 24 hours!

6 comments:

brian said...

Last summer we had a long discussion on my assumption that Catholics are not evangelical. I remember it ending in two ways:

1. Someone said, "Catholics are evangelical, just not in Indiana."

and, later, my mom said:

"Catholics are really taking a bashing in the media these days as it is...maybe evangelism would make Catholics more targeted for ridicule."

Man, my mom still knows what she's talking about after all these years.

Casey said...

I think Catholics aren't evangelical anymore because they forced the whole Western world to "convert or die" in the 13th century.

Now, Russian Orthodox "Catholicism": that's awesome. Not only are they not evangelical, they wouldn't let you join if you wanted to.

Cathy said...

I just found myself touched by this post, Casey. Of course many things recently make me teary. (Maybe a Spring thing) But somehow your struggle to remain open, receptive - positive, well . . . at my creaky age it just moves me.

Some jerk acquaintance sent my husband and I a religious chain letter requiring us to pass it on to 7 others or 'else'. As an extra 'incentive' we were to include him in the forwarded email. Jerk.

Have you come across the recent Harvard study about morality and the place in the brain in which it seems to be seated?

Casey said...

What's the link, Cathy? I haven't seen the Harvard study article...

I'm glad you didn't find this post cynical. I don't mean it to be. In fact, it's the fact that these kinds of letters require us to become cynical that really bothers me.

Anyway: reciprocal gladness.

Cathy said...

Sorry, Casey. A few distractions here. I believe it was the science column in a recent WSJ. I'll try to locate it and let you know.

Cathy said...

Here 'tis. I googled 'Robert Lee Hotz morality brain'

http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB117884235401499300-rEL4ifArsA6YAqE6UlUKqs1TJcE_20080510.html?mod=rss_free

Check out my post today. Cool :0)