Virtual Voices

'Christian' chain-letter emails

Religion

I'm guessing that if you're a Christian and you've got email, you've received dozens-if not hundreds-of those chain-letter emails that seem to make the rounds.

Many of them contain pleasant messages, some have beautiful pictures, and most include a prayer or two. If that were all they contained, I wouldn't mind getting them. But they almost all also include an instruction to "send to 12 people in the next two minutes or your prayer won't be answered!" Or something to that effect.

That's not Christianity, that's voodoo, or magic, or just plain silliness. That said, I absolutely believe that the people who send me these emails mean well. And I often do salvage some inspiration from the contents, after I've weeded out the foolishness.

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I received one recently that was called a "Jesus Test." I hate tests. And I especially hate it when anyone purports to tell me whether I am a true Christian, or whether I truly love God, or that if I don't pass on this email it means I'm ashamed of God.

And yet, there were lines of hope and inspiration in it, too. "When God takes something from your grasp, He's not punishing you, but merely opening your hands to receive something better." Sounds good. It's not biblical, but it's a nice thought along the lines of Romans 8:28: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

Then there was this: "The will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you." That, too, sounds good and is probably not incorrect theologically.

But there was also this: "If you love God, and are not ashamed of all the marvelous things he has done for you, send this to friends and family." Why? Who wrote this, God? I don't think so.

And worse, there's this: "Pass this prayer to 12 people including me. A blessing is coming to you in [the] form of a new job, a house, marriage or financially. Do not break or ask questions." Now that's just superstition, plain and simple. And superstition is decidedly un-Christian.

Enough already. How's this for an idea? Next time, pass along the Christian part of the message (if there is one), but take out the nonsense.

Marcia Segelstein
Marcia Segelstein

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