I consider chain mail junk mail. I consider “Christian” chain mail pure garbage… but that doesn’t stop my family members from sending it to me (thinking it’s amusing). However, let me explain why I find “Christian” chain letters like the following not only damaging and harmful, but more importantly, not in the least amusing.
Take this one, which my grandfather sent to me for a fifth time (since he apparently thinks bombarding me with Christian propaganda will put some sense into my head). You’ll all probably recognize it, as it’s quite familiar:
Subject: God is Busy (this is funny)
If you don’t know GOD, don’t make stupid remarks!!!!!! A United States Marine was attending some college courses between assignments. He had completed missions in Iraq and Afghanistan . One of the courses had a professor who was an avowed atheist, and a member of the ACLU.
One day the professor shocked the class when he came in. He looked to the ceiling and flatly stated, GOD if you are real then I want you to knock me off this platform. I’ll give you exactly 15 min.’ The lecture room fell silent.. You could hear a pin drop. Ten minutes went by and the professor proclaimed, ‘Here I am GOD, I’m still waiting.’ It got down to the last couple of minutes when the Marine got out of his chair, went up to the professor, and cold-cocked him; knocking him off the platform. The professor was out cold. The Marine went back to his seat and sat there, silently.
The other students were shocked and stunned, and sat there looking on in silence. The professor eventually came to, noticeably shaken, looked at the Marine and asked, ‘What in the world is the matter with you? ‘Why did you do that?’ The Marine calmly replied, ‘GOD was too busy today protecting American soldiers who are protecting your right to say stupid stuff and act like an idiot. So He sent me.’
The classroom erupted in cheers!
There are so many things wrong with this I don’t even know where to begin. I sort of feel like Dinesh D’Souza’s mosquito at a nudist colony he always talks about (oh snap! Yes I just did do that). Making fun of someone’s bad joke and mocking it is harmless. It’s the quality of the joke I am ridiculing as well as the fact that it’s overused, but other than D’Souza’s redundancy I haven’t said anything demeaning nor have I defamed his character in anyway. This sort of criticism I find valid, sometimes even necessary to point out, constructively, the failings of someones joke. That said, the mosquito joke is funny enough that it always gets a laugh. What’s not so funny is the above chain letter.
So, the best place to start, as Sherlock Holmes often reminds Watson, is the beginning.
The first sentence states: “If you don’t know GOD, don’t make stupid remarks!” As if to say, “Warning: Stupidity Ensues: Don’t be Critical.”
Is not the comment I KNOW God more stupid than the humble admission that God is too vast and transcendent to know? But this isn’t meant for thinking Christians, it’s meant for the ‘oh yeah, I agree’ fall in line borderline illiterate sheep. If I were still a practicing Christian and I read that first line I’d be downright offended. It’s talking down to me, and it’s saying that perhaps I don’t know God as well as the next pious practitioner.
Yet let’s not overlook who that first comment is really directed toward: skeptics and nonbelievers. Those who might actually think past the devotional party line, and likely form a different opinion. Yeah, anyone who might actually use reason, who thinks rationally, or just hold a different opinion, they should ‘shut up’ as the letter informs from the start. In fact, better not talk at all, ‘we believers don’t even want to consider a difference in opinion–that would put doubts into our heads’ (heaven forbid)! And such a remark as this is, in of itself, is enormously stupid not to mention the pinnacle of ARROGANCE and self conceit.
Even so, the vainglory does not end here. Next the quaint little story reads that there is a soldier, a Marine apparently, who has served his country, and a professor who is part of the ACLU, or American Civil Liberties Union. In essence, both men fight for other people’s freedom, but this is something the article quickly throws out, since it is less interested in this fact than linking anyone who is a member of the ACLU with liberalism.
The professor begins the class by making a challenge to an all powerful God, stating that if God exists, that in order to prove it he should knock the professor off the podium within 15 minutes. Everyone watches in anticipation. Well, that’s all we know. Perhaps the professor was attempting to make a philosophical point, maybe he was having a bad week and a close relative, friend, or family member died by a horrible suffering disease such as cancer, we don’t really know. But being a professor, an accredited scholar with a PhD, then we can assume he wasn’t just being controversial. But let’s not think too much about it, for that’s not the point of the story.
So 15 minutes is almost up and the prof. restates his ultimatum. And then the Marine gets up and inflicts assault and violence on a man of the sciences and brutally attacks him. (This is supposed to make you feel good that the annoying prig of a professor got what was coming to him since he had the gull to attack people’s “cherished” personal beliefs. Yeah, whatever. Brutal violence is violence no matter how you want to spin it).
When the professor regains consciousness he inquires as to the reason for the battery (although I personally would have filed charges and made sure this particular Marine was put behind bars so he couldn’t hurt other innocent citizens, such as other college professors, his girlfriend, and other rational nonviolent thinking people). In reply, the Marine snidely comments that God was busy, so he took it upon himself to act as emissary on God’s behalf (in the name of God I smite thee!). Thus, our skeptic proven wrong (but not really since God didn’t do it himself), everyone sides with the believer and erupts in cheers.
How DISDAINFUL! How truly baneful, hurtful, and ignorant. Chain letters like these are being read by hundreds if not thousands of teenagers and young people, who then think it’s okay to inflict radical violence on those who think more objectively or liberally than they do, because they received such a letter from a parent or authority figure from church or in the community. Clearly, this is not the sort of behavior we want to instill in the younger generation.
It is demeaning. It’s intellectually retarding, because it begins by stating you shouldn’t question it, just accept it as a bit of smut entertainment! God’s honor is maintained. Or is it? Any true and loving God would find such filth despicable and would judge the assailant accordingly. But this is what bothers me, this chain of idiocy is saying it’s okay to act out in the name of faith, in God’s name, and do such horrible acts. Moreover, it is teaching that you will be rewarded with cheers for doing so.
And I have to ask, how is this different from the Al-Qaeda schools of TERRORISM? It’s not, it’s exactly the same faith-based thinking which leads people to believe it’s okay to start a holy war in the name of God. It reminds me of the Oliver Cromwell comment: “It’s an odd thing, Mr. Ireton. Every man who wages war believes God is on his side. I’ll warrant God should often wonder who is on his.” (Cromwell, 1970.) Ironic, if not painfully true.
In the end, I find nothing funny about such “Christian” chain letters. It’s not only disrespectful, uncivil, discourteous, ungracious, irreverent, insolent, insubordinate, contemptuous, but also flat out abusive. It seeks to destroy the civil discourse nonbelievers like me try to set up with the faithful, it’s disadvantageous, and let it not escape our attention that it is morally wrong.
I would advise anyone, Christian or otherwise, if you receive one of these despicably void of rational content religious chain letters, of such low caliber, please do not forward it to all your friends. I beg of you, do the just thing and please put an end to the chain of idiocy–or at the very least keep it to yourself.